Saturday, 28 March 2015

One week from today I will be running in the OAK BARREL Half Marathon in Lynchburg, TN.

I am going home (Nashville is about an hour from Lynchburg) to escape the Nova Scotia snow and to see my family.   This has been a BUCKET LIST RACE for me since it started in 2012. 

Since I am not doing the Boston Marathon this year, I decided to finally punch my ticket to this must do race.  As a gal from Tennessee and an absolute lover of all things Jack Daniels... well, I am pretty excited!

I have toured the distillery three times but am gonna lose my mind when I see this sign for ME!

The hill on the half marathon course is so nasty it has a name and its own facebook page - ugh, well HILLs don't scare me!

February 20-22, 2015 - FIVE races THREE days, ONE tutu, ONE birthday! 

Disney Princess Frozen 5K; Gasparilla Distance Classic: 15K, 5K, 21K and 8K

For the last 5 years, I have celebrated my birthday by going down to the Gasparilla Distance Classic in Tampa, Florida.  Perhaps it's because winter in Nova Scotia is a challenge. Or maybe it's because the race always falls on my birthday weekend? But, its become an annual event for me.  I love the medals, the pirates, the costumes, the 4 races in 2 days format.   Full disclosure, three years ago in an homage to Gasparilla I created a local pirate themed race weekend that "borrowed" the best elements that Gasparilla exposed me too! I am no longer the Race Director for that event here in Nova Scotia but I still go to Gasparilla... guess we really do hold on to our favorites.

This year presented a different set of circumstances for me as I have been dealing with a back injury that has limited my training.  I could have opted out of one of the four races (I have a tendency to Go Big or Go Home) but I decided to change my expectations and I even added a 5K at Disney the Friday before race weekend.  The only other time I did a Disney race it was horribly cold. Guess what happened this trip? It was insanely cold... go figure... Florida in February and I really wished I had gloves and pants.  But, I got to race the day before my birthday.  I couldn't pass up that opportunity. 
Leaping at the end of the Disney Frozen 5K - Friday, Feb 20, 2015
I decided that I would go as slow as I needed and accept that I wasn't going to be competitive.  Historically, I have raced well at Gasparilla.  Really well.  In 2012, I won the Ultra Challenge meaning I was the fastest woman to cover the four races: 15K, 5K on Saturday and 21K, 8K on Sunday.  That's 49 Kilometers over 2 days and I would be tackling that event again in 2015 on minimal training...

1st race on birthday = 15K
2nd race on my birthday (it's my BIRTHDAY!) = 5K
Previously, participation had never been the goal in Tampa. I wanted to win or win my age-group. But,  life throws us curve balls so I decided that being able to run/jog and cover the distance would be my PB ("personal best" this year). A little perspective goes a long way. I really would be grateful to just cover the distance in any particular time!

First race = 21K

2nd race = 8K 
I wish I could say that it easy because I wasn't racing.  Nope. I took the pressure off myself to perform and win (because that wasn't gonna happen) and I wore my beloved tutu.  But, I still had to cover a lot of miles.  Since it was 5 races in 3 days I can honestly say that sometimes it was really fun. Sometimes it was really hard.  But, overall it was all I hoped it would be. I FINISHED each race with a smile and actually lept for joy in every single race. Thank you Disney and Gasparilla for giving me the best birthday present I could imagine.   I'll be back next year.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

RUNNING USA 2015, a race director's conference, took me to New Orleans ("NOLA") from February 7-11, 2015. Not a bad time to be away from winter in Nova Scotia and a great start to the Mardi Gras festivities.  I knew there would be some running with the conference but was excited to find a local 5K race. The 504K benefited youth running in NOLA and had about 1,000 participants.  I ran the event with my friend from college (her first time in a tutu) and we happily jogged the event with no stress or pressure to race it!  I don't even have our finish times.  But I do have a picture.  Don't you just love the tutus?  I can't wait to see 2,500 tutus on the gals of Sole Sisters Women's Race this June. 

As I ran back to the hotel to get ready for the conference, I stumbled upon a parade in progress. I went over to watch the parade and was immediately showered with beads. The ones that were put around my neck were nice, the ones that came flying at me were a bit scary. What can I say? Tutus make a girl very popular. Don't believe me? Then look at all my beads. I didn't do anything for them but stand by the parade route, honest!

We ran 5K each morning and the route took us along the Mississippi River and back down Bourbon Street. The roads were clear as we were out very early so it was fun to take over the roads. But my last night in NOLA I decided to join a local running group, HAPPY'S RUNNING CLUB that has the philosophy: Run... drink... and be happy! The 5K route would take us through the active streets of NOLA in the evening.  I had to do a lot of dodging the tourists on Bourbon Street which is hard for a runner used to moving in one plane. But it was fun. I took all the beads I had been given over the weekend and gave them out as I ran.

I highly recommend NOLA as an absolutely amazing vacation destination. There are many runners and a vibrant racing community. If you are looking for more information on the running scene go to the New Orleans Track Club website.

I love all the adventures that running brings me.  Last month it was the Bermuda Challenge!  This month was New Orleans and before the month ends, I'll be off to Orlando (Disney's Princess 5K) and Tampa (Gasparilla Distance Classic). Yep, that is 5 races over 3 days for a total of 54 Kilometers.  That's a lot but it is my annual birthday race weekend and I get to do 2 of the races on my actual birthday!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

There is a saying that "fast girls have good times" and until April 2014 I felt that the fun part of that quote meant I was going faster than most other women (and men for that matter). But something happened that made me take myself far less seriously. Perhaps you heard about it? A magazine made fun of a woman wearing a tutu (and a costume and battling cancer but they didn't mention that part). The magazine writer made fun of all the silliness that some folks have while running.  It wasn't even a running magazine but they were judging and they were judging harshly. As the race director for Sole Sisters Women's Race and founder and head coach of Girls Gone Gazelle Run Club I know how important it is to encourage other girls and women. Not tear them down.  We have to be there for each other and we have to stop these stupid magazines from making us feel anything other than beautiful. Exactly the way we are.

What right did they have to say that running could only be serious and that if you weren't fast you shouldn't be running?   Ugh, it made me mad.   Really mad.  So mad that I didn't want to be one of those overly serious runners who sees costumes and tutus and makes an evaluation about what sort of "good time" that person would or would not have.  I have always encouraged girls and women to run but it didn't occur to me that wearing a tutu might be fun while running. That a shout of "Go Tutu Girl" might be just what someone needs to hear when running gets hard.

So I wore a tutu (furnished by Lisa of Tutus On The Run) in a local race shortly after "tutu-gate" and I planned to just jog it but the tutu got me attention. Lots of attention. And despite myself I still ran under 20 minutes for the 5K that I was "only" going to jog. Wait? Fun and fast?  Then the next weekend I ran another 5K and I won it. What? I won a race wearing a tutu. That was it. I was going to wear a tutu for all my races in 2014.  

Full disclosure, I didn't win all the races I entered after the initial tutu success (just one more). And I didn't always run fast but I can honestly say that I have never had so much fun running and that I really did learn how to have a good time.  Finally, after 26 years of running I learned something new.  Fun is not easily defined and it varies for everyone but if you run in a tutu you will not take yourself seriously and you'll be much more open to fun and to awesome cheers/compliments.

So for 2015 I am taking the tutu to the next level.  As the Race Director I decided to give the first 2,000 registered Sole Sisters Women's Race participants a tutu (but 2,500 will actually get a tutu, so there are another lucky 500!) and I am going to keep running in tutus this year.  This was taken last week at the Bermuda Triangle Challenge (3 races in 3 days) and the tutus were very popular.  So much so that I made it in the paper! Oh and running in shorts in January was pretty sweet too!