Tag: Billie Jean

Fitness Swellness: GVRAT Back Across Tennessee race recap

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108 days into the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, I made it BACK ACROSS TENNESSEE!

That’s a total distance of 2,043.36 kilometres. If you recall, at the beginning of May I wasn’t sure how difficult it’d be to complete the Race Across Tennessee (RAT) distance in the four months for the race, so to have completed double the distance with just under two weeks to spare, I’m shocked, and proud.

It’s 107 days if you’re looking at “chip time” as I only registered for the race on May 2nd, but the race goes by gun time. This race most definitely tapped into my competitiveness. Once I finished RAT, I knew I could complete 1,000 miles. Especially since for the BAT race, I was including walking miles.

I completed 1,000 miles in 91 days, ahead of the “end of July” goal I’d set for myself. And on August 5th, I thought “It’d be a nice even date to complete the BAT distance by August 15th.” For no other reason than it being the halfway mark of August. Out came my calculator and it called for doing just over 30 kilometres a day for 10 days straight. And even I knew that was unrealistic; my schedule is a lot busier now and I was struggling on the days I managed to log 21k. It included often sacrificing sleep to get at least 6k done in the early morning, and then walking at least 3k late at night (sometimes as late as 1 a.m.).

But I’d become a bit nervous about those late night walks and runs. I realized I was going through some dark and pretty deserted areas, which wasn’t the safest idea, then to add to it, there have been a slew of harassment incidents in the area so as I closed in on the last 200 or so kilometres of the race, I didn’t think it was wise to do the late walks and so I lost some precious time chipping away at the distance.

I realized on Friday, August 14th, that I had that day and the entire weekend I could devote to logging distance for BAT. And with 120 kilometres left, if I did 40k each day, I’d be done by Sunday, August 16th (just one day more than the goal I’d chosen as an ideal end date). So, I went for it. I already knew I had to run 21.1k on the weekend for the Lululemon Virtual SeaWheeze Half Marathon, so it meant “only” walking another 21k that same day as well, so that covered off one day. For my final 35k on Sunday, I took a very long (and rather boring) 12k walk across the city with my dog, visited the beach, stopped for pizza and then made the 12k walk back across the city and finished off the BAT race with a 3k run at night.

I walked much more of the BAT than I expected to. I think the RAT’s very intense 1,021.68k, for which I decided to only count running miles, was really hard on my body. My pace is terrible and I now even walk slowly, just out of pure exhaustion.

My BAT by the numbers

  • 766.86 walking
  • 267.3 running
  • zero 0 days (meaning I logged distance every single day)
  • a negative split of 10 days (I completed RAT in 59 days and BAT in 49 days)

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Billie Jean and her GVRAT and BAT journey?

She completed 76 percent (or 1,554k) of the 2,043.36 RAT + BAT with me:

  • 1,071.3k running
  • 483.32 walking

And I’d have registered her as a dog completing the race but I knew the city’s heat and humidity would make it dangerous for her to complete every run with me, so I didn’t commit to making it race official for her, but to me she completed the race and I’m so proud of her.

And in the final standings, when I checked on Monday to confirm I’d officially completed the BAT, I finished 276th out of 11,063 women in this global virtual race, and in 622nd place (out of 19,612 participants).

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So many firsts for me with this race, including my very first buckle! Now just need a belt to sport this huge, gaudy piece of bling on, haha!

This race has helped so many of us around the world cope in this crazy time. It became a huge thing to fixate on, distracting me from the stresses of  living through quarantine, which would’ve otherwise swallowed me whole. And the Facebook group for the GVRAT was a joy to be a part of (other than people asking every single day what the actual distance of the race is… people, get your act together, it’s clearly stated in the race FAQ). From the gorgeous photos from around the world, to so many shots of snakes (I’m so glad that’s not something I encounter on my runs!), along with Lazarus Lake’s often hilarious posts, plus all of the personal stories; there have been pregnancy announcements, breakups, deaths, pets, so many injuries, and with it, just the whole gamut of human emotions; the camaraderie that developed as we all pushed through living under lockdown and making it through this continuing pandemic–I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed being part of a Facebook group more. We are all in this together: the pandemic, this crazy race, interpreting “Laz miles”, all of it.

Thank you to Lazarus Lake and the entire GVRAT team for putting up with so many of the same questions and continually working on improving the virtual race experience for all of us and creating this crazy race that none of us will ever forget.

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Leave a Comment August 18, 2020

Pet Swellness: 5 essentials for safe summertime fun with your dog

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If there’s anyone who’s happy about living under lockdown this summer, I think it’s the dogs of the world. After all, their humans are home way more often, and most of us have had more time to spend with our pups. I’ve taken my dog Billie Jean on way more runs and walks this summer than ever and made sure to have a good supply of essentials for her. My summertime toolkit for safe and fun playtime includes these must-haves, all available at Canadian family-owned discount chain Giant Tiger (so it was all well within my limited pandemic budget!):

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1. Portable water bottle

I think the person who made the initial design of this type of water bottle for dogs is a genius. Compact and so practical. Although we do pass a few public water fountains on our walks and runs, Billie Jean often doesn’t want to drink from them. Also, many of the fountains have not had water running through the pandemic, so I bring this water bottle for her regularly to make sure she’s always well hydrated. (By the way, this whole outfit–the sports bra, bike shorts and runners? All from Giant Tiger. Have you checked it out yet? Here are my tips on how to shop their ACX Active collection.).

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2. LED-collar 

We are often running and walking after dark, and hopefully we will get to go camping sometime this summer, too. So this LED-collar ensures she is well seen by cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. And it’s helpful for me to spot her too when I let her off-leash after dark. It’s been attracting a lot of attention too from everyone during our outings. Guess it makes her look a little like she’s gone to a rave, haha. This collar is adjustable, and it also comes with a separate LED-light tag if you want something more discreet. Best of all, no batteries required; this product recharges via USB.

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3. Bright, secure leash

A neon bright leash helps to make sure your dog is visible at day and night. Bonus: I’ve always been a fan of neon yellow. This style of leash has a handle with the poop bag dispenser integrated into it and it’s comfortable to hold. It’s not as comfortable to loop onto your wrist if you have to hold something in your hand, thoughI’d say that is its only downfall.

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4. Nutritious treats

I like to always have treats on me for her as a training tool and also in case she needs a snack; after all, if I’m bringing snacks for me during a hike, I figure she could use a snack too for a little fuel when we are out for a couple of hours. But just like humans, you have to make sure that your dog doesn’t snack too often and that you take those into account when considering how much she is consuming over the entire day.

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The range of dog treats at Giant Tiger is impressive; there are a lot of the well known brands you know and love, but there are also a slew of products from smaller companies. I look at the ingredient list to make sure the treats are not loaded with fillers; an all-natural favourite I discovered at Giant Tiger is from a local company, Caledon Farms (Billie Jean is obsessed with the Sweet Potato Chews, but devours their Beef Tendersticks as well). Plus, I also stocked up at Giant Tiger on Greenies Dental Treats for her dental care (my vet gave me a list of vet-approved products to manage Billie Jean’s plaque and this is one of them so I always keep a supply of them on hand), and to entertain her while at home, bully sticks are always a safe go-to option since she can be a decently strong chewer (plush toys last about one minute in our house!). 

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5. Outside toys

Billie Jean isn’t the greatest at fetch or catching things, but we’re working on it! It’s important to me that she leads a healthy, active lifestyle, so this lightweight frisbee is perfect for our park outings (even though she often retrieves it, drops it elsewhere and I’m the one fetching! But I guess that’s keeping us both active, right?). Having toys for your dog and making sure they’re getting the exercise they need can often help alleviate behavioural issues.

Here’s to making this the best summer yet for you and your pup! Summer isn’t cancelled!

(sponsored)

 

1 Comment August 11, 2020

Fitness Swellness: Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee month 1 recap

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Running 1,021.68 kilometres sounded like it’d take FOREVER. Now, four weeks into the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, these are some of the key things I’ve realized this month:

Breaking up my runs into several short runs is easier for my mental strength.

When I started this race, I was running once a day. In the latter half of May, I realized I could likely log more mileage and more easily wrap my head around tackling more mileage by doing a few runs a day. Although I’ve become used to running 15k straight, some days it’s just easier for me to tackle it in two runs. And on days I plan to run 21k, which is a distance I will typically dread having to complete, breaking it into two or even three runs simplifies it for me. There’s also the added bonus for being able to bring my dog Billie Jean when I break longer runs into shorter runs; with the heat wave we have already had, I’m reluctant to take her on any run that’s too long (even though she is happy to run for long distances, I worry about heat stroke and the hot pavement). Billie Jean, by the way, has run all except 46 kilometres of May’s 450k, she’s a great runner!

Podcasts are good to listen to if you’re just trying to rack up distance.

I’ve tried listening to podcasts while I run in the past, but I’ve never found them motivating enough for my workout. But now, since my only goal is logging distance and I’m running at whatever pace feels good, podcasts are proving to be a good listen. I’ve run most of this month without listening to anything (mostly because I’m having earphone issues–I think the jack on my phone is a bit broken, and my phone won’t connect to my bluetooth earbuds), but when I am able to get my earphones to work, I’ve listened to Fake Doctors Real Friends (a new podcast from Zach Braff and Donald Faison from the tv show Scrubs), Spilled Milk and Hottest Take.

Logging mileage is easier than running a marathon.

I of course knew this in theory, but I still entered this virtual race nervous about being able to complete the 1,021.68 kilometres, but it dawned on me early on in the race that I don’t have to concern myself about pace. So I run each run at a comfortable pace (which changes from day to day; if I take it very easy and run a shorter distance one day, I notice I can run a faster pace comfortably the next day) and although my legs do feel tired some days, and that I often feel like I’m always at about the 30k mark of a marathon (which is to say I’m starting to feel fatigued but I’m not quite yet cursing my chosen sport), it’s never close to feeling like how I do in the last few kilometres of a marathon. I’ve adapted to logging mileage and run streaking so well, in fact, that I changed my goal for this race and the month of May a few times.

Where do I stand one month into the race?

And how much easier is it? I’ve somehow managed to complete 450 kilometres in the month of May. That’s nearly double the most mileage I’ve ever run in a month. I ran week 1 moderately, but quickly became obsessive about the race, and all the days off I said I’d take? Well, I haven’t taken a day off yet. I used to say I would work in rest days…and then I see myself fall in the standings when I run only 10k, and I go right back to a minimum of 15 or 16k per day. It didn’t help matters that I believe Laz posted that the first 3,000 finishers get a special type of prize or recognition; I started gunning for top 3,000 and I’ve managed to work my way into the top 3,000 as of the past week.

What I am scared about…

I can’t deny that I am scared of getting injured just from sheer overuse. The repetitive action can’t be that great on my body and I’ve been researching stress fractures. I feel great so far, but I have deliberately pulled back my pace so that I’m always running at a long slow distance pace or a recovery pace. I’m paying close attention to how my body feels, and have even done a few stretches (halfheartedly, but any stretches at all is still significant, given my aversion to stretching!). I’m also trying to get more sleep by getting into bed right after my nighttime runs (which will always translate into me falling asleep several hours earlier than if I’d parked myself on the couch with some Netflix).

Month #2, let’s do this!

I’m 450 kilometres in, with 571,68k to go! This race may not take me all summer after all…What will I do the rest of the season now that it doesn’t seem like fall marathons will be held?!

Leave a Comment June 1, 2020

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