Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Yesterday afternoon Scott sent me an interesting question from one of the groups he belongs to on Facebook. Basically, the question was whether or not one could call themselves an "ultrarunner" if they had only completed one 50 km event. (An ultrarunning event is usually considered 50km+ or anything longer than a marathon).

I'm not entirely sure why but this has been niggling at me for nearly 24 hours now, but I have some theories.

I've always thought that running shouldn't be about labels - hence the motto I follow "I'm not in it to win it, I'm in it to finish it".  I realize for some that goal-setting might be about breaking records or being "first" but even then the goal itself shouldn't be the label "Betty Bluejeans - Number One Woman Finisher at Blistering Blisters 100-mile Race". The goal should be about the overall finishing time; those personal bests that just might bring a placed finish.

What about those who run just to run? If they have been doing 50 km runs on a Saturday purely for enjoyment or helping a buddy who is in training or because they want to prove to themselves that they can push their bodies that far, does that mean they are NOT ultrarunners? Why does a registered event need to be the means to be recognized? Think of it this way - do you really need a university degree to prove you're intelligent because I've known a number of university graduates who are not!

Of course, this does bring me back to my own status. I've entered 6 races this year. They range from a six-hour race to a 10 mile race to my ultimate goal of a 50 km race. Why do I need these races at all? I need the goal (because if I've paid for it, then there's no turning back!!) and I need to prove to myself that I'm not completely inept doing something athletic. I'm not trying to win any races. I want to finish all these races so I can look back one day and reflect that I did it. I entered, I ran a race, and I finished it. If I place at any time (she says laughing and shaking her head) then wow, what an amazing feat that would be, but doing MY best is the goal. When I look at my name on the list, I'm not looking at my finishing place (which right now is usually near the bottom) but at the time or distance. That, for me, is the bar.

And maybe, just maybe, if others were "allowed" to call themselves half-marathon runners, or marathon-runners, or ultrarunners without spending the money to be in an event, there might be more people tying up their shoelaces and trying to prove to themselves, not others, that anything is possible when you set a goal.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

First Race of 2012 Completed!

So many elements made this race the best one ever! I'm not sure if the run-gods were finally pleased with the sacrifices I made (starting to eat for running and training on a more consistent schedule) or if I was just mentally prepared more than any other race or if it was the fact that it was the first race where someone crewed for ME (thanks Ken!) but everything came into alignment for six hours. I've never started or finished a race with a smile on my face but it happened!

Keep in mind that I'm not in these races to win or break any astounding records (except my own). The longest run I'd accomplished before this race was at Dirty Girls last year and I ran 30 kms. I was pretty darn proud of myself then. My last race was at Haliburton in September and I completed 26 kms. So I figured a goal of 31 kms on a track at York University was doable - and it would be a personal best for me.

Things I know worked for me before the race included days of drinking lots and lots of water (although I could have done without the trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night), eating well leading up to the race (no beer or wine...that was harsh AND concentrating on eating protein, which wasn't so harsh), and having a big bowl of stove-top oatmeal the morning of the race (love my porridge).

Things that I know worked for me during the race include drinking a LOT of water (also ended up with a number of bathroom breaks during the race but I got to sit for about 30 seconds....ha ha), eating during the race (LOVE Hammer Perpetuem Solids, Ken kept handing me clementines, I ate zero junk during the race), and my decision to run every 4 out of 5 laps (each lap was 230 meters) and walking one lap. That one lap enabled me to drink and eat and not lose a lap in between. It gave my legs (and buttocks) a much needed break too.

I also got a ton of support from those running past me. And trust me, just about everyone was running past me but that was OK. I mean, its not like I was threat to anyone trying to get as many laps in as possible in 6 hours!!! SO many smiling faces, supportive comments, and genuinely kind people. Runners are just amazing! Women I look up to (Marylou and Maryka), my man who still commented to the world that I was sexy even when I know I wasn't looking so great (Scott), and so many others were there to put a smile on my face and give me an extra dose of energy.

I also added one new element (which is a mineral so pardon the pun) that seems to have helped enormously - Magnesium. I'm not going to preach about magnesium's incredible properties or why it is as helpful as it has been for me. That what Google and research is for. But here is what I know - I sprayed magnesium oil on my legs before and during the run yesterday. I have no pain in them today. None. My knees don't ache, my quads are fine, my calves are good. The two areas I didn't spray (my hips and buttocks) are a mess today. Sure, it could be completely psychosomatic but I've been using the spray in the morning and before bed for a few weeks now during training and I've had very little pain at all. And it is better than relying on Advil!

So how did I do? Are you sitting down? I surpassed 31 kms at hour 5 and 15 mins (yay me!!)  And then Ken wondered out loud if I could make it to 35 kms....damn....I hate those comments (not really because I respond better to a goal, remember?).  So for the next 45 mins I walked and ran as fast as my legs would take me. At the sixth hour, the finish of the race, I had completed 35.81 kms. Annnddd....I didn't come in last!!

I had perma-grin on my face for the rest of the day! Talk about a runner's high!! Funny how anything seems possible when you exceed your own goals!

I've got two days off for rest and then I'm back to my regular training schedule. Man, those 4 kms on Tuesday are going to feel like a walk in the park....I hope!!