Tuesday, 30 April 2013

St. Jude Country Music Nashville Race Recap

I scheduled this trip to Nashville in the dead of winter in Canada. My friend told me that it would be hot at the end of April so we should only plan to run the half rather than the full. As this Canadian winter dragged on and on I got more excited about my warm weekend in Nashville.

Then the week before the race came and rain was in the forecast. I don't mind running in a bit of rain and I was actually happy for the cool down it would bring since I hadn't ran in shorts since September!

I arrived in Nashville on Thursday evening and we attended the expo on Friday. I can't say for sure if things were set up differently this year than past in terms of security because this is the first time I was at this race venue. My friend and I were commenting on how this would be the safest race we have ever run similar to when flying after 9/11 was the safest time to fly.

There was a lot at the Expo about supporting Boston. There was a photo booth, lots of apparel with support Boston messages, and we were all given bracelets to wear during the race. 

After the Expo we went to check out the country music scene in Nashville. I really enjoy country music, I always have so this was one of the reasons I wanted to do this race. There is a street in Nashville that the course runs down called Broadway. There are several - like 3 blocks - of bars and restaurants that start playing live music at 10 a.m. and go until 3 in the morning! It was fun to walk along the street and hear the live music coming out. I was moved by the music to buy cowboy boots! 

We headed back to the hotel to rest a bit before dinner. The idea was to take a little nap, but I found Steel Magnolias on TV and we rested watching the movie. I forgot how much that can make you cry at the end! 

Then we checked the weather to prepare our gear for the morning. This is what we saw:

Really?!?! 100% Rain! Ugh! So we prepared for the worse and figured we would make adjustments in the morning if things changed with the weather. I again used the Runner's World What to Wear tool. There was a difference in what to wear depending on if it was going to be a light rain or a heavy rain. So I prepared for both. I set out shorts for sure and was going to decide between a short or long sleeve shirt in the morning. I got a vest just before getting on the flight and was glad I did. It helped with the rain a bit. 

One of the security measures that was put in place for the race was using a clear plastic bag that we were given at the Expo. We were told at the Expo and again in an email that the only bag that was going to be allowed at the bag drop would be the clear plastic bag we were given, no exceptions. Our bags were also going to be searched. It felt like this was going to be a very safe race.

We woke up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning and the weather had not changed for race time. So I decided on shorts, a long sleeve shirt that I knew I could push the sleeves up easily if I got warm, & a vest, visor to keep the rain off my face. Oh and a very fancy garbage bag to attempt to stay dry and warm until the race started.

Luckily our hotel was right at the start so we stayed inside until nearly 10 mins before the race started.

The race started in waves based on the corral you were assigned to. I was in corral 9 so luckily I didn't have to wait too long to start. My chip time was around 11 mins off the gun time so not long. There were 36 corrals I believe, so there were people waiting quite a while in the pouring rain. 

Corral 8 was 2 minutes a head of us so and I happened to be at the front of our corral. I started out the race pretty slow because I felt like people sprinted at the start with such a wide open space in front of us. It was a crowded race as well, 26,000 runners so I was taking my time, seeing what it was going to be like to run in pouring rain and trying to warm myself up a bit.

I kept the garbage bag on for about the first mile and then I had to bite the bullet and let it go. I was instantly soaked! At first many of us tried to avoid the puddles around and then realized that really splashing through a puddle was not going to make us any more wet than we already were. Every step I took I could feel the sloshing of my soaked socks. Fun!

I felt really good through the entire race. I walked through every water stop for my walk breaks even though I didn't drink at all of them. I was afraid of getting too much water into my tummy and not sweating it out. I have done that before and it's given me such a bad stomach ache. The course was hilly - not steep hills, but several rolling hills. It was a challenging course, so I was really happy I wasn't running it in 80 degree weather.

I usually try to find someone I can chat with a bit during the race, but everyone was really quiet. Just listening to their music or concentrating on not slipping on something. I listened to my music until my ear buds got so saturated with water I couldn't really hear out of them anymore!

Around mile 9 I realized that I was running a pretty good time despite the conditions, but I was going to have to maintain a faster pace if I was going to finish in under 2 hours. So I kept an eye on my watch and kept it as close to 5:10/km as I could. I was less than a mile to the finish line and my watch ticked closer and closer to 2 hours. I was getting nervous that running in this weather was going to get me close to sub 2 hours, but not quite. I ran as fast I could muster with still keeping myself safe in all the puddles. 

I crossed the finish line with my watch saying 2:00:36. Crap! That is still a PR for me, but I was SO CLOSE to making it under 2 hours. I hoped that my watch was off.

And it was!! My official chip time was 1:59:48 - just a hair under 2 hours - I'll take it!

I had very crazy split times. I definitely got faster as the race went on - but look at that difference between mile 10 and the finish! A minute faster pace - Whoops! I should have been doing that the whole time! Oh Well, Blame it on the Rain (cue Milli Vanilli song)

 Here we are in the shuttle that our hotel had for the runners at the finish - we are sopping wet, but we both ran personal best times and we were headed to a warm shower! 

I'm not sure I would run this race again - I would recommend it to others, but I think my experience is unlike any other year. Usually it's warm/hot and this year wasn't. Nashville is a really fun place to visit! Hopefully I can go back someday with better weather conditions!

What are the craziest weather conditions you have ever raced in? Is there a particular kind of weather you enjoy running in most?

Monday, 29 April 2013

Mommy's Time Away

I always get excited about a weekend away for myself when I'm planning it. Once I'm faced with saying goodbye to the boys I have that mommy guilt twinge in my stomach. I fight that twinge with baking. I figure if I bake some items that at least the hubby & twins will have something to eat while I'm gone. My husband is more than capable of taking care of the twins for a weekend. He has done it several times before and really enjoys his "boy time". 

This morning before my flight I made some banana chocolate chip muffins. One of the twins asked me what I was making and when I told him he said "I love those Mommy!" Which made that mommy guilt twinge in me go away a bit! 

Here is the recipe I used for the muffins. You can omit the chocolate chips to make them healthier (I dare you to try to omit chocolate!)

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes 12 muffins


3 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or melted butter if you don't have applesauce)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup flour
Chocolate Chips (to taste)


Mix sugar and egg with mashed bananas. Add applesauce (or butter). In a seperate bowl mix together the soda, powder, salt and flour. Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 18-20 mins. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

I of course used Chipits from Hersheys - it's good to know someone in the industry! 

Do you do anything special before you leave your family?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Races = Travel

Recently I have been thinking of places I want to travel and then checking the race calendars to see what race I can do there. I'm traveling to Nashville, TN for the Country Music Marathon this weekend. A weekend away with just me and a friend. . . I'm looking forward to some "me" time! 

My very first destination race also happened to be my very first marathon in Paris, France. My Mom was celebrating her 50th birthday and wanted to run her 10th marathon some place international. It just so happened my spring break was the right timing to make the trip with her. We started our vacation in Amsterdam visiting a family member, spent a few nights in Prague, Czech Republic and then ended our vacation with the marathon and more sight seeing in Paris, France.

Paris Marathon with my Mom!

I checked two huge things off my bucket list 5 years ago: Travel to Paris and Run a Marathon!

This past September I took a girls weekend to Montreal to run the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon. My Mom traveled with me as well - she has the Races = Travel bug too!

My Mom & I at Montreal Half Marathon

Montreal was the first Rock n' Roll series race I have ran. It was a ton of fun! So much great music along the course that I hardly listened to what was on my iPod. I was eager to run another! A friend that also ran Montreal with me suggested the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville. Count me in! I have always wanted to go to Nashville and I love country music! 

If the weather isn't too hot and I'm having a good running day I may be able to check a couple more things off my bucket list this weekend: Travel to Nashville, TN & run a sub 2:00 half marathon!

Do you plan your travel around races? What is your favorite place to travel to for a race? What's on your travel and/or race bucket list?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

What to Wear Running

We have had an unseasonably cold spring here in the Toronto area of Canada. Snow into April is not typical despite what people's perceptions of Canadian weather is. The temperatures have been warming up a bit and I struggle to know what to wear when I go out for my runs. I tend to over dress and then get uncomfortable because I'm too warm. Running is such a mental thing for me that if there is anything not quite right, I will have a terrible run. 

I found this tool on Runners World's Website called What To Wear Tool. I find it works pretty accurately for me to determine what I should wear out running. You answer a few questions with the drop down menu on the temperature, wind, time of day and how you like to feel while you are running and it gives you a suggestion as to what to wear. 

I followed this suggestion last night on my run. It was a 50 degree, clear night with heavy wind (I swear it's always windy around here). I wore shorts (for the first time this season), a long sleeve shirt and yes a sports bra! I find it really funny that it tells me to wear a sports bra! Hehehe! 

My first run of the season in shorts!

Do you struggle to know what to wear out for runs? How has your spring been where you live?

Monday, 22 April 2013

Happy Earth Day!

The sun is shining today, there isn't any snow on the ground or in the forecast, and I'm hoping to run tonight without a stocking cap on! Yippee!

We are a fairly "green" family. I try to remember reusable bags when grocery shopping. Most stores around our home outside of Toronto, Canada charge 5 cents per bag if you don't bring your own. I really like that they encourage people to bring their own reusable bags, but what gets me is that if you forget them at home (which unfortunately I sometimes do) they sell you a PLASTIC bag? I don't get it - encourage the reduction of waste, but only offer something that could take 100 years to decompose if at all as an alternative.

When we first moved to Toronto we were given the instructions for our waste: Every week our Green Box would be picked up which is a kitchen compost - pretty much everything goes in here: paper towels, meat, egg shells, and all other table scraps. The Blue Bins are also picked up each week - which is the recycling of paper, cans, plastic, & aluminum. If there is anything I do consistently in life, it's recycle. I cringe when I'm at someone's house and they have a soda can or plastic bottle in the trash. It seems like the easiest thing we can do to be "green".

The schedule for what is picked up when!

What got us when we moved here is that all other trash would only be picked up every 2 weeks. After kitchen composting and recycling we didn't have that much more trash to pack up - except for diapers. I didn't go the cloth diaper route with the twins. I may have if I had only one baby at a time, but I didn't even consider it once we found out we were having twins. Disposable just seemed so much easier. But, having 2 kids diapers sit in your garage for 2 weeks especially over the summer months was just gross! It was pure motivation for me to get them potty trained this winter in order to avoid that stink over this summer. Success! They only use 4 diapers a day - 2 at nap time and 2 at bedtime.

The list of what goes where!

This spring I decided to plant a garden with the boys. We started some seeds in the house in a green house type kit. We planted lettuce, carrots, pea, green bean, and zucchini seeds. We must be doing something right because we have little plants coming up!

Our little sprouts!

I don't really have a green thumb at all. My Mom is a master flower & veggie gardener so she guided me a bit. I figure if we only get a carrot and pea or two it will be a fun summer project for the boys and I and maybe even encourage some veggie eating by two little toddlers!

My Dad was visiting this weekend and I had him put together this raised bed garden for me. We used the plans from Vegetable Garden Planner. There are rabbit droppings in the yard and I've seen a couple hanging out when I go to let the dog out late at night so we put a wire fence up around the garden to keep them out!

What do you do routinely to be "green"? Did you do anything special to celebrate Earth Day?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Winter…I mean Spring Running

This is what greeted me Saturday morning when I got up for my 7k run. Snow! Now I'm the first to say I actually like winter running. I like how it's quiet (not everyone has it in them to run in freezing weather) and I like that I actually warm up while running rather than stepping out into humid sweat. 
But snow on April 20th I can do without! 

I'm meeting a friend in Nashville, TN for the Country Music Rock N' Roll half marathon this weekend. I wanted to try to break the 2 hour mark during this race. I ran the Rock N' Roll Montreal half marathon in 2:02 so I thought it would be doable. My friend told me its been hot! Like wake up in the morning to 70's hot. I just ran in snow - my body isn't prepared for hot running yet. So I've decided I'm going to enjoy a girls weekend away, run how I feel and enjoy the music along the course. 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Run for Boston

I  mentioned in my previous post that my Purpose for Running has changed since the bombings at the Boston Marathon. This last Wednesday night was an example of that. 

I follow several blogs of runners. One in particular, Organic Runner Mom was running Boston Marathon the day of the bombings and had some amazing posts on her reflections of the race. Her perspective was of course one the media couldn't mimic - she was there - only a block or so away when the bombs went off. She had qualified for and ran the 26.2 miles of this famous marathon and had ran another qualifying time that day. As she mentioned here in one of her recap posts "At that point [of the bombs] I had already spoken to my husband and my parents and had been on a super high from posting a requalifying time." Although she was feeling a lost for words in her initial recap of her race, I felt so connected to her and hurt for her. She had a successful race and should have been celebrating with her family, instead she spent hours wondering if her husband was ok and seeking answers for what had turned into a time a extreme sadness and worry.

She posted a link to a Facebook page that had been put up on Wednesday - 2 days after the Marathon - encouraging people to Run For Boston. My running group Canada Get Fit meets for our weekly runs on Monday & Wednesdays nights. Without evening thinking I sent out an email to the group with asking them if they wanted to participate with me. 

This is what was being asked of the running community:

1) You can run anytime today. Morning, lunch, afternoon, or night.
2) You can by yourself, with a few friends, or with a whole group of people.
3) Wear yellow or blue, the colors of the Boston Marathon
4) Before or after your run take a picture with a sign that says "Run for Boston" and includes 4/17 and your city/state.
5) Post that picture on this Facebook page
6) Keep being people who change the world!

So I made this sign quick during nap time.

The message got out to everyone the group meeting for the run because we all came in blue & yellow for this great picture!

Apparently it caught on. . . As of today that Facebook page as over 25,000 "likes". There were several news outlets that wrote stories about people who "Ran for Boston". A few are Competitor Magazine, WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas, and Boston Globe.Social Media is a powerful thing.

Did you "Run for Boston"? Share a link to your picture. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Purpose for Running

The purpose of this blog is/was going to be a way for me to archive my training for the Chicago Marathon this coming October. The events at the Boston Marathon have changed my purpose for not only writing this blog, but also for running. I'm still training for the Chicago Marathon, but it seems like everything I have done with respect to running since the bombings in Boston has a different purpose.

Starting with an email I had on my To Do list to send out to our friends and family for the hubby's first marathon coming up. He is prepared physically for the race, but was having some confidence issues as he finished his last long run of 36K. I thought getting some cute pictures drawn by his nieces and children of our friends, cards of encouragement and texts & emails in the couple days leading up to the race with help give him that last boost of confidence he needs to finish. 

This will be Josh's first Marathon. He says he wants to complete one to feel like he "fit's in" with my family of marathon runners (me, my mom, her husband, & both my brothers). He of course is just trying to be funny and mask what he is really trying to do - qualify for the Boston Marathon. He had hopes of doing that last year, but a sprained ankle while trying to learn how to play hockey (we are living in Canada now, remember?!?!) stopped him from running a marathon to see if he could qualify. I keep telling him that he shouldn't have that 3:10 qualifying time in his mind as he prepares for and runs his FIRST marathon, but I know deep down inside he isn't listening. After all the Boston Marathon is the holy grail of marathons - even someone who is running his first marathon in less than 3 weeks understands and feels the push to want to qualify for a race many spend their entire running careers trying to run. 

Realistically he and I both think he will finish this marathon around 3:30, but he is a really strong runner. Given good running weather, proper hydration & fuel in these weeks leading up to and during his race, and this nagging voice in his head that is telling him he would really like to be running Boston as his SECOND marathon may just get him to that 3:10 qualifying time. 

I first asked for cute kid drawings, cards & motivational texts for Josh to surprise him on race morning to give him that last boost of confidence that he can finish this marathon. But now I ask for them to also lift his spirits. He is very sadden (as we all are) by the 3 people who lost their lives yesterday, the many injured, and an entire running community that is shaken. But what has really gotten to us both is that one of the lives lost was that of an 8 year old boy, Martin, standing with his Mom, Dad, brother & sister there to support friends running the race. 

Martin Richard, age 8

Josh and I both run because we enjoy it, it's a great stress reliever for us, but also because we know from the example of my Mom that having our children see us living an active life through running we can bet they will as well one day. Martin's Dad is a runner, but was not running the marathon in Boston. The family was there to support and cheer on friends. I imagine Martin's parents had the same thoughts Josh and I do - expose your children to an active lifestyle and hope they continue it into adulthood. . .

Picture by Josh's niece Ellisyn

What has changed in your purpose for running since the events in Boston? 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Me & the Mr at the Around the Bay 30K Race in Hamilton Ontario Canada

Hello, My Name is Katie. I'm starting this blog as a way to archive the next 26 weeks of my life. 
Why the next 26 weeks? Well because that is how many weeks it is until the 2013 Chicago Marathon.  
Here are a few things about me you may want to know - or that may help explain the things posted on this blog:

- I was born and raised in Minnesota. Yes, I have a very distinguishable Minnesoooootan accent! :-)

- I'm a wife to a man from Wisconsin. He loves U.S. College & Professional Sports. Notably the Green Bay Packers, University of Wisconsin Badgers, & the Minnesota Twins (more on the not-so-random Minnesota team later)

- I'm a wife to a chocolate salesman. Yes I have an endless supply of chocolate at my disposal! Yum!

- We live temporarily in the Toronto area of Canada for my husband's job.

- I'm hold a Masters degree in Elementary Education. I taught elementary school for several years prior to moving to Canada.

- I'm a mother to Twin 3 year old Boys. You will hear a lot about them. They are the reason I wake up in the morning and the reason I run.

- I love to travel. Having the twins has slowed that down a bit, but thankfully we have grandparents that love them to pieces and are willing to stay with them so we can travel. 

- I love to cook & eat good food and I really enjoy a good glass of red wine or an ice cold margarita! I will post often about my cooking, but don't expect professional pictures of my creations. My camera of choice is my iPhone these days and that's what you will get! :-)

- I run. I'll chat more about that in the next post. 

So for now, thank you for reading. I'm not sure how many will, as this blog is mostly meant as a way for me to get my thoughts out about training for the marathon. But, if you have stumbled upon me. . .Welcome, I'm happy you're here!