Lessons from My First 10k

Rachel is one of two guest bloggers who will be writing for 42.2 for the 2016 marathon training season. She will be writing monthly blogs, updating us on the ups and downs of her journey from 0 to 42.2.

By Rachel Crooks

May 29th marked the day of my first race of the program – the Calgary Marathon Jugo Juice 10k! As well as being my first 10k, it was also my first “big” race so far in my running history, having only done small 5k charity runs in the past. I didn’t really expect to be nervous beforehand, but I definitely developed some pre-race jitters. My plans for the day before the race were shot as I paced around my apartment worrying about how many carbs my morning oatmeal contained and exactly when and how much I should plan to hydrate (I even measured out my 500mL water in a measuring cup the night before). As it turned out, I would run a fantastic time and here is my hard-earned wisdom from my very first official 10K:

  1. Work out the logistics beforehand. I’m a worrier. I figured that running the 10k would be okay, but I was really stressed about how I would get to the race. I knew I didn’t want to deal with road closures and parking, so I did a trial run and took the train down to the Stampede Grounds to pick up my race package at the expo. That way, I knew exactly how much time it would take me to get there the morning of the race. It was definitely helpful and it made me smile boarding the C-train at 6:30 a.m. facing a horde of nervous-looking runners.
  2. Running a negative split is great. Coach Bill gave us some advice before the race started – try to run the second half of the race faster than the first half. I decided to test it out, but I was discouraged to see people flying by me for the first three kilometres. “Am I the slowest runner here?!” I thought. However, my patience paid off – at the 5km mark I picked up my pace and managed to pass tons of the people that had blown by me earlier. I even had enough energy to give ‘er during the last kilometer. When what I was expecting was to shuffle over the finish line, sprinting over it felt awesome.
  3. Dress for the race, not the waiting period beforehand. It was supposed to be cloudy and 7 degrees on the morning of the race. I was concerned I would be chilly taking the train down to the stampede grounds, so I opted for a long sleeve technical shirt and cropped leggings instead of the shorts and t-shirt I had planned for. HUGE mistake – the sun came out blazing about five minutes into the run and it turned out to be a beautiful day. I hate being overdressed while I run and wished I had toughed out the cold in the morning in favour of being comfortable while I ran.
  4. Don’t cut your wonky ingrown toenail the day before a race. Sounds really obvious, right? You’re not supposed to change your pre-run routine before a race, and apparently that wisdom extends to your toenails. This was a mistake I made and each step of my run was punctuated by “Ow… ow… ow…”. Not the end of the world but it was certainly preventable, and it was something I didn’t even think of beforehand. Don’t shake things up.
  5. Enjoy! I didn’t expect to enjoy running around so many other people, but it was actually fantastic. I loved the team outfits, the volunteers, and the spectators. My favourite sights included an Elvis impersonator singing his heart out and someone holding a sign saying “I’m still in my PJs!”. Matthew Inman, an ultramarathoner and the artist behind The Oatmeal, describes races as, “a massive crowd of strangers choosing to hurt themselves the exact same way. It’s wonderful. Or awful. It’s both, really.” It really made me think of the collective training every runner put in to be there, no matter what the distance – what a cool accomplishment for thousands of runners. It was an experience that I loved being a part of.

I crossed the finish line in 1:08:40. All-in-all, it felt great to see my training pay off. I had done a faster 10k before starting the program but it certainly didn’t feel easy. To me, it’s a good trade off to now have ease instead of speed, especially as we head into longer distances. Up next for me: Betty’s Run For ALS on June 12th (a cause I am so excited to support!) and the Stampede Half Marathon on July 10th.


Bring it on!

No one said it would be easy…

Kaitlyn is one of two new guest bloggers who will be writing for 42.2 for the 2016 marathon training season. She will be writing monthly blogs, updating us on the ups and downs of her journey from 0 to 42.2.

By Kaitlyn Fulton 

Seriously, how cute is Kaitlyn's running partner? – Justina
Seriously, how cute is Kaitlyn’s running partner? – Justina

No one said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.

This month specifically has been a challenging one for me. I started a new job for the summer (as opposed to being in school at the University of Calgary) in beautiful downtown Calgary. I wasn’t sure what to expect when combining working full time with a taking a spring class, keeping up my training schedule and playing soccer, but in my head it went much differently than what I am currently experiencing.

My run this past Thursday (which was scheduled to be cross training but I wanted to bring my dog so…) brought to light that I am working my way to exhaustion with being too busy and not being able to fit in enough sleep. At the beginning of my run, I was drained and well aware of it. I even crawled into bed after eating dinner to relax before heading out, but that didn’t seem to help very much. And as for the run itself? It was my hardest to date. If I had brought my phone with me, I would have called for a ride at the halfway point. This is the first time I really wanted to quit, and I am NOT a quitter.

Thursday was a wakeup call that I cannot continue with this cycle of running on little sleep and using coffee as a solution (I am not a regular coffee drinker). In order to increase the amount of sleep I get per night I will need to plan better moving forward and set priorities and stick to them. Maybe I need to make all of my lunches for the week on Sunday nights, maybe I need to get my runs in during my lunch hour at work, and/or maybe I need to socialize less with my family and friends. I’m not exactly sure what the solution looks like at this moment, but I know it’s a problem and I need more sleep to function properly.

Training for a marathon is more time consuming than I think I fully realized. I signed up for this challenge and I love the training, friendships and experience, I just need to learn how to be more effective with my time so that I will be able to meet my goal of running the Victoria Marathon.

We have our first race coming up this Sunday and I am nervous but excited!!

Stay tuned…

How do you balance work, life and training? It’s something I haven’t quite figured out yet either and I would love to hear your advice! – Justina

The mind and body connection

Running earns you some of the best views.
Running earns you some of the best views.

Rachel is one of two guest bloggers who will be writing for 42.2 for the 2016 marathon training season. She will be writing monthly blogs, updating us on the ups and downs of her journey from 0 to 42.2.

By Rachel Crooks

Since I started the marathon training program I haven’t had too much doubt in my mind that I can run a marathon. The distance seemed like an abstract concept until this last weekend when I went on a 45-kilometre bike ride. All of a sudden, abstraction became reality. Gulp! A thought began sneaking into my mind: what if it’s just too much?

Despite my confidence that my body will be able to go the distance, my long runs have started to feel very long and my brain and body feel very out of sync. This feeling often sends my mind spiraling into a barrage of negative thoughts such as:

  • If I’m having problems at this point in my training, how will I make it through the rest of it?
  • How will I balance increased training commitments with everything else I have to do?
  • I’ve got small aches and pains now – how bad will it get by the time I run a marathon?!
  • I hear Victoria’s course is hilly – there’s no way I can do that!!

Despite having heard it many times before, I’m beginning to appreciate how much mental preparation goes into marathon training. And while this feels very unique to me, I recognize these are experiences everyone has at one point or another. This makes me grateful for the resources in the course relating to the psychology of running a marathon and about balancing life and training.

After a bit of a slump, I’m finding sunnier days by refocusing on why I enjoy running in the first place – taking time for myself to enjoy the outdoors, finding new routes to explore, and using it as a mental time-out from the other stressors in my life. One foot in front of the other…

Running… for 42.2km?! Can I really do it??

Kaitlyn says she likes running with the group but I suspect Oakley here might be her favourite running partner - Justina
Kaitlyn says she likes running with the group but I suspect Oakley here might be her favourite running partner – Justina

By Kaitlyn Fulton

Kaitlyn is one of two new guest bloggers who will be writing for 42.2 for the 2016 marathon training season. She will be writing monthly blogs, updating us on the ups and downs of her journey from 0 to 42.2.

Two months ago, my journey to run a marathon started to become a reality when I signed up for the University of Calgary Marathon Training Program. Running a marathon is something I’ve dreamed about accomplishing since I was about 14 (Grade 7). At that time I was on the cross-country team and quite enjoyed running… so naturally you would want to run the hardest race you could think of right?? But in all seriousness, I have been an eager goal setter from a young age so meeting people in my life that have accomplished something as significant as a marathon, always left me dreaming of one day doing it myself. I hope this is the start of establishing a healthy lifestyle that will leave me craving to continue running and to crossing multiple finish lines.

By signing up for the program, I was challenging myself to meet new people, grow as both a person and an athlete and to prove to myself that with commitment and practice, I can accomplish anything. After the first successful month and a bit of training under my belt, I can proudly say I am one step closer to my goal and have learned a lot! I have also found that following a running program while studying for final exams helps tremendously with both my ability to focus and with stress reduction.

Starting the program in March was both an exciting experience but also a nerve wracking one as well. I was worried that I would be the slowest and the least educated person on the team, but it turns out that we have a very wide variety of runners from beginners, just like myself, to people who have done too many marathons to count. I am thankful for how welcoming the group is and how willing people are to share their experiences and knowledge with me!

I can’t wait to see what the rest of this journey has in store for me! =)

Meet Kaitlyn Fulton

Kaitlyn is the second of two new guest bloggers who will be writing for 42.2 for the 2016 marathon training season. She will be writing monthly blogs that will be posted on the last Saturday of every month, updating us on where she’s at in her journey from 0 to 42.2. I sat down with Kaitlyn to find out a little more her and her running journey up until now. I can’t wait to see what this season has in store for her. Good luck! 

The first new blogger we introduced was Rachel Crooks, you can read her intro blog here and her first post here

Age: 21KaitlynIntroImgCrop

Occupation: Energy Management Student in the Haskayne School of Business

Goal Race: Victoria Marathon

What is your running goal this year?

My main goal this year is learning to create a habit of running (and being active), specifically one I can continue as I get older. The majority of our current working population sits in desks throughout their career and usually develop a lot of back and knee problems. I want to do my best to prevent this from happening to me.

Before joining the program how much running had you done in the past?

Before joining the program I was more of a casual runner. I would go for a run if I needed to train for soccer, de-stress or to hang out with my dog. This program is a new experience for me.

I trained for a half marathon in 2013 but reconstructive ankle surgery got in the way before training and the race were complete. The furthest distance I have ever run was 21km.

What made you decide that running a marathon was something you wanted to do?

It has been on my bucket list for a while. My thought process was that if I can complete my first marathon during school, it will be much easier to complete additional races throughout my career, especially if I was familiar with the training and how to balance it with everyday life and stresses.

Also, this might sound silly, but when I was in Grade 7, I told my foods teacher that I was going to run a marathon. She told me that I was not done growing and therefore had to wait till I was 18 years old to prevent injuring myself. I am past 18 and done growing so I felt I had nothing preventing me anymore!

What made you decide to join the University of Calgary marathon training program?

I knew for sure I couldn’t train to do a marathon on my own. I had heard that a lot of people typically came back into the program after completion, so I thought that it would be invaluable to train and learn from those with far more experience than myself. Also, I thought that because it’s at the university, the program would be research based and would be the safest and best way to train. The internet is full of different training plans and opinions – which makes it difficult to decide what the best is.

What are you most excited for this season?

I am excited to meet new people and form new relationships. I hope that once we get up into higher distances and I am in better shape, I won’t feel like I am bagged the whole time.

Overall, I am excited to see myself progress and get better every week. There is a lot of things in life that make it hard to measure progress, but being able to run further and longer is progress right before your eyes.

Is there something you are worried about? What is your biggest fear right now?

To be honest I am quite competitive. So I did notice that on the first longer run that we did, I wanted to stay with the front pack the whole time. I know that once we get into the higher distances I might kill myself that way.

I am also worried about the runs we complete on our own. I find it challenging to keep myself busy during runs to avoid constant clock watching. Running in a group makes time feel so short.