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Friday, 27 May 2016

FABFriday: Race Weekend is HERE

whoohooo!
It's #FABFriday

AND ITS A RACE WEEKEND!
It is an ultra fab week of running! 
What's up for you? 
It's been a week of running really....
Last weekend there was a halfmarathon in Red Deer (never mind the miserable rain and sleet).

This weekend, I have a 10km race at the Rocky Mountain Soap Run followed immediately by a plunge in some glacial waters, then a date with Mr Foamie. 
Sunday is my 45th HALFMARA at the Calgary Marathon. 
I am running for MS Canada - go #teamCara

The plan is to run steady. And, for the 5k, not get swarmed or tripped by children.
Shake those tired legs...and remember to run for those who cannot.
Just a little hint that I shall be laser focused in muh superhero costume....
I have another goal ----> Cross the finishline smiling. 
Given I have done this the past SIX years, I think that is totally doable! 
I do intend to push myself in the half, but given all the miles happening...it won't be a FAST run.
But it WILL be FABULOUS! 

I  MAY be also running the 5k a few hours later ...haha...Not to mention some volunteering for package pick up or stuffing AND working at the run expo...it's going to be busy!!
Let's hope I am not looking like THIS on Monday!

Life. It's Fabulous.

Embrace it. Love it.
FAB it up!
Laugh Run yer arse off.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Race Day Water: Calgary Marathon

YAHOOO!! It's race weekend! Are you ready?
I have got most of my miles in and my aim is to finish with a smile! 
And thank all the awesome folks out there cheering us on! Thank YOU vollys!

We runners love volunteers. We Hi-5 em at races! We shout that we couldn't do it without them. We give and get hugs on course. We even let them dump water on us on those super hot days!

But have you wondered what happens to get the WATER on course? Or about the logistics that happen to ensure everything runs smoothly on race day?

Planning for a race like the Calgary Marathon begins as soon as the course has been finalized and approved by the City. It takes months of work! Flexibility is key -- because this time of year can also mean construction! Once planning is done..then come the runners. And with more than 10,000 of us, you have got to give kudos to the teams who 'make it happen'! 

In honour of of FAB volunteers who work so hard to put on a road race ... here are a few factoids about Calgary Mara's water logistics!
  • The logistics team makes a plan, then maps the route, then drives the route and takes photos of areas where each water station is planned.
  • A route report (driving instructions, photos) is created and then given to aid station captains, port-a-pottie delivery guys, and water, equipment truck drivers.  This detailed description ensures equipment, water and people all show up in the correct spot!
  • The logistics team calculates how many run through each aid station - resulting in a spreadsheet detailing equipment needed at each location – cups, tables, garbage cans, rakes, jugs, water, or gels! This year there are 10,000 (or so) runners! 
  • The night before the race, it takes about 5 hours to load trucks to be ready for race day set up. 
  • Starting at 430am on race day, volunteers drop off the equipment and do set up. Other vollys make their way to each station as assigned. And then more volunteers take it all down. There are a whole lot of folks out there but SOME are not finished until 6 pm. That is a long day!
  • While YOU might see 3 or 4 volunteers at an aid station, there are several shifts. On race day every aid station has had between 12-40 people working there to ‘make it happen’.

This year Calgary Marathon has 13 aid stations 
with 2 bonus “water only” stations
THAT means marathoners get 17 aid stops and 50k-ers get 19!
*Marathoners get water twice at aid station 11 and 12 along Memorial Drive*
**The 50k-ers pass by 4 times!**

How much water is that? 
Not including finish line or the water bottles you get with food
Calgary Marathon uses about 550 5-gallon water bottles!
That means well over 100,000 paper cups for the course alone! 
No wonder it’s a great idea to GO GREEN and bring your refillable water bottle!

MUCH THANKS & SHOUTOUTS to
Michelle Simonin, Logistics Coordinator 
Barrie Griffiths and Bina Wade, Aid Station Coordinators
on the Calgary Marathon Committee!   
Their work keeps us runners hydrated and happy. 
Hi5 (or hug) a volunteer when you see one on race day! 

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Run, Bling, Reset!

It's no secret I have been feeling off and rather down for sometime. So I have made conscious choices to incorporate FUN into the run. And look for inspiration on the paths and trails for the past few months.This past weekend was no exception! I had some fun on the paths and park on Saturday then headed out to the trails and to do a little volunteering Sunday. Perfect - training and laughs rolled into one.

Good for the soul and the head and heart.

This past Saturday was the  inaugural St. Patrick's Island Fun Run. As part of my role as a ForeRunner (ambassador) for the Calgary Marathon I was given two complimentary entries. I asked my pal Tara to come along, since we have been having terrible time hooking up with our crazy work schedules. It would give us some time to catch up and chat about all kinds of things and get planning on something special that is coming up soon (shhh it's a secret tho) so don't tell anyone. 

Early Saturday morning, this hot mess got up, walked to Starbucks, then took the train downtown to go get to the race. I had intentions of doing a quick run first, but then i started running into people who were also at the race - and that plan sort of flew out the window.

The start was about a kilometre from the finish...so after Tara arrived I popped my stuff (including my water bottle - DOH) into her car. We forerunners were trying to snap a pic pre-race, but it was too crowded so we decided to meet up at the finish area - with the snacks and drinks! 

The race started with all of us on the bridge and went for a couple kilometers on an out-and-back section along the river, then back into St Patrick's Island. As we headed back for a loop around the island, we were serenaded by a fab woman with a ukelele! Oh wait, I forgot to say it was a aloha island theme! 

St Pat's is a fav spot of mine and the repairs and upgrades since the flood a few years ago have it looking downright amazing. It's one of my favourite pathways but also there is playground, amphitheater, art...and really all around great views!
The run wasn't chip timed but Tara and I came in around the 28 minute mark. 
Tara is much faster than me, so she really kept me going today and it was sort of funny we talked the whole way...sometimes it got a bit breathy tho! It was a good effort. Man, was it hot...should have brought water along - I know better!

As we crossed the finish line we were given leis, then grabbed some water and a banana.
 The Calgary Mara forerunners posed for a few quick snaps - nice to meet a few new people I only see on social media and spend some time chatting!
Check out My fellow ForeRunners HERE
Immediately after that we made a beeline to the food - Jane Bond BBQ food truck served up some mean pulled pork sandwiches which were DIVINE!!
The food lineup was a little long, but it gave me the opportunity for me to catch up with a whole bunch of runners I hadn't seen in ages...plus chat with Tara about wine options, dress shopping and event logistics. And laugh. A lot. It was bloody warm out - close to 30C - so we took some turns dashing for some water.

About an hour after the run started, Calgary marathon revealed its 2016 medals!! This year, there is a Super hero theme (I LOVE those ribbons) -- eek my 45th half marathon is in less than 3 weeks! And in keeping with the superhero theme I am dressing up. HINT: my outfit will be SUPER
I spent the rest of the day fiddling around and getting ready to hit the trails in Canmore. My fab pal Melisa picked me up and we tore off for coffee then hit the road for the 45 min drive to the mountains. GORGEOUS!!
We then met Lisa - who had recently moved to Canmore - lucky duck!! And off we went.
 Seriously the trails out here are the BEST! 
Essentially we got in 10k or so on the mountain trails (ummm can yo say hill work??) before Lisa had to go to work and we hit the showers!
Trails = Get Dirty!
We then jetted off to before heading off to Rocky Mountain Soap Company HQ to volunteer for goodie bag stuffing (their RACE is at the end of the month and it really is an amazing one too). I will be running the 10k at that race Saturday and the Calgary HAlfmarathon on sunday! woot!
There were a dozen or so of us and we packed something over 2000 bags in under 2.5 hours. And boxed them and put them on pallets! A workout that smelled great - haha.
What a great weekend, nice to reset that way. 
Just before we left, I snapped this beauty of the Three Sisters! One is clearly hiding.... 
Mountain air is the BEST!

This weekend is more trails and pathway running...so I cannot wait! 
Yes to double runs to get those legs happy for the back-to-back awesome that awaits.





Monday, 9 May 2016

FAB Water Station Tips!

Summer is Coming!! That means for many of us runners race season is upon us. For some of you, you might be wanting to also do a little volunteering. I have run a FEW races, and I have to say one of the most important jobs is the WATER STATION. After more than a couple races over the years that lacked water, I wanted to say ...OMG this is soooo important! And take the opportunity to provide a few tips on HOW to rock that water station.
In any race, hydration is important. No matter how big or small a race is, water stations can be a little intense. In the past several years, I have manned stations where no one else had even run a race let alone handed out water. I mean, really, how hard could it be? 

Actually...it can be tougher than you think. But if you have only a few folks handing out water to a few hundred runners in a very short time, it can be a fast and furious experience. Don't get me wrong, it may be intense but is also super FUN!! 


So, in case you or someone you know is manning a station...I came up with some tips to help you be the most FAB aid station volunteer EVER! This is (of course) my opinion but comes from running races where aid stations were really awesome or really sucky. 


Just wanna say this is MY opinion on helping at a water station. 
Check with your Race Director or Volunteer Coordinator to know what their procedures are. 
Big Races have procedures for a reason - cause they have thousands of runners!! 
And prep is so very important! 

ARRIVE EARLY
Be at your aid-station at least 30 minutes before the lead runners hit your aid-station. Depending on the size of the event and the amount of stuff (gels, pretzels, water, electrolytes, etc) you may even want to arrive 60+ minutes before the start. ASK your volunteer coordinator or Race Director what they recommend - as every race has different needs! Why so early?  There is a prep work to be done BEFORE any runners arrive. You want to have it all done and be ready and waiting before runners arrive. Tasks include setting up the table, preparing and filling the water/nutrition coolers, filling hundreds of cups, organizing the stuff (you might have gels or snacks depending on the race), and setting up garbage cans. 

This stuff takes time to do and there is nothing worse than a hundred runners descending upon you like a herd of velociraptors and you do not have water even poured or ready to go

Trust me, that is stressful for you and the your fellow volunteers. And it is confusing for runners too. Prep work ensures smooth processes!

Organize the Gel/Food/Water 
When organizing your tables, position the calorie items as the first thing the runners arrive to so they can wash the food down with some additional water before leaving the aid station. It is no fun to have a gel (or pretzels or any food) in your mouth and no water to wash it down. In larger events, I have seen stations be organized with LOOONG tables  -- water first, calories in the middle, and water again at the end of the aid station area. This is an awesome way to go! 

Spread Out 
On prep for runners arriving at the aid station, it is so important for spread out from one another. You want to give runners ample opportunity to grab water. And, if you have  a ton coming all at once it is NOT a good idea to have all of the runners trying grab a cup within a squooshed up area. That way more folks can grab and go! 


Let Runners Come To You
Depending on how many volunteers and the size of the race, I prefer when vollys position alongside the road inline with the tables. 
At trail events...the is often more stoppage and more food...but often less congestion too. Regardless, you want to allow those who want water to move to you. This allows those runners who want to fly by to do so.  It can get a bit confusing and frustrating for runners if there are people handing out water in the middle of the road. Standing in front of water table is good. Standing in middle of pathway so runners have to go around you is NOT good. 
YES, we carried our cups with us for the full race!! 10km of FAB! 
Many runners bring their own hydration. 
Have a JUG and someone handy who can help refill the bladder in someone's backpack or handheld. THAT is so very helpful! 


Place Garbage Cans Far Far Away
Many races provide garbage cans to toss in your cups or garbage. Often, I pass the bin before I am ready to dump my cup. I think placing the garbage cans in a staggered fashion twice as far away from your aid station as you would think. That distance comes a lot quicker when you are running. This should hopefully help more runners toss their garbage in the cans and require less cleanup on your part. Another bonus to having the garbage cans away is that it keeps people moving through the aid station. Also, make sure you have folks who are checking up along that route to clean up so that nothing is left behind! As a runner I keep the empty gel packet on me unless there is a bin right there- I try not to litter. I also try to carry a small handheld and do not take a cup - less waste!!! 

The Art Of The Hand-off
I decided to SHOW how I think the best way to pass off water to folks instead of trying to explain. After a run one night, I asked several people to demonstrate "if you were at a water station how would you hold the cup" ...the resounding majority showed me THIS: 
See holding at that bottom ensures an easy grab and go. some people say you could hold on the top rim...but i say nooo cause it makes me think of germy hands (i am sure YOURS are clean but...) on the rim where i will be drinking from!

Another helpful hint for passing off water is to hold the cup at waist level - it is WAY easier for us runners to grab the cup while running. And, have someone who's job it is to keep an eye out on the table. You have had a rush of runners and then you look and your table of filled cups are gone due to the flurry of runners. What do you do? Line up those empty cups on the table in rows and start  filling them using some hand-held pitchers. The cups will fill much quicker than using the tap on the coolers.And do not fill them to the top! Whew! Panic moment over. 
And finally… 
 Have fun out there! 
You are so important to us runners. 
You give us hydration AND support! 
(and sometimes laughs and a dance party) 
And from the bottom of our runner hearts THANK YOU!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Who Do YOU run for? Make Choosing a Charity COUNT!

If you run for a charity in an upcoming race, make it meaningful. Make it Count! 
It needs to be matter to you. Focus your passion and follow your heart! 
 
This post is my story on my Calgary Marathon charity choice ...

We all have a friend we have known forever. That special someone who is a kindred spirit - or even maybe even  your spirit animal! If you are lucky, you have that friend who GETS you. And you, in turn, get them. And, who knows so many crazy things about you. I am damn lucky to have someone like that in my life - she and I can tell each other ANYTHING and let er rip and laugh our asses off. *insert blessed and grateful hashtags here* 
But seriously...
I have had that crazy friend in my life for 36 years. We met at music camp in 1980! YES...truestory!
Her name is Cara and she is the absolutely one of my favourite people. 
Over the years we have come and gone, drifted apart for a bit, but sort of never ever been far from one another. If that makes sense. We have gone through good and bad times...happy and sad, breakups divorce...you name it. She's had babies and raised them into young men. We are loud and silly and obnoxious and hilarious together.
The past 10 years ...
This is a slice of some of our fun...I will say that some pics from the mid 90s and early 2000s might not be included. Some of those photos are...erm...blurry. Or might be lacking sobriety. Maybe. And, yes, we can even be quiet when together. Rare, but it happens! And highly unlikely captured in recent photographic evidence. 
Certainly the quiet and sedate nature of our friendship was NOT captured last month! 

So this year when I was choosing a charity to run for at this year's Calgary Marathon, I had a fleeting thought. Why not the MS Society? How on earth had I not done this before?

Why MS, you ask? There are a few reasons...


Cara has MS. She was diagnosed in 1998. So if I was gonna run for someone...why not her? She has mostly been in remission, but it is not a disease that (in my opinion) is fair or cool or is easy to explain or understand. MS Sucks!
So it was clear that it was high time I put some miles in for MS.

I have always said I love to run because I CAN. So, I dedicate my 21.1 kilometres to a very special crazy lady who gets me like no other, Who never judges and always has a quick witted response at the ready. We were mutt and jeff in 1980 and 36 years later we still are. Sort of a beautiful disaster together. Oh, and we ARE funny. We definitely think so.

I wanted to share some info about MS with you ... so I started to research.
I found CANADA has the highest incidence of Multiple Sclerosis in the WORLD! 
WHAT? Well then, another reason to run for this charity. We need to find out WHY!
So WHAT IS MS? *From MS Society of Canada
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is thought to be an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). The disease attacks myelin, the protective covering of the nerves, causing inflammation and can damage the myelin. Myelin is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses through nerve fibres.  If damage to myelin is slight, nerve impulses travel with minor interruptions; however, if damage is heavy and if scar tissue replaces the myelin, nerve impulses may be completely disrupted, and the nerve fibres themselves can be damaged.

Trying to understand a disease that affects the central nervous system is complicated. You read up and are still overwhelmed. It affects everyone in so many different ways. After so many years of research, we still do not have answers. And we need answers.

And THAT is just a little glipse into WHY I am running for MS CANADA and #teamCARA! 
Those miles are not just for me now...
I will be lacing up and running my 45th halfmarathon, and bringing Cara along for her first! 
I cannot WAIT to show you HOW she is coming along with me ( it is still in the mail).

If there is a cure to be found for MS, it will come from Canada. 
#endMS #teamfight

For More Info on MS visit ENDMS 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016