Tag: marathoner

Fitness Swellness: I’m running 1,000 kilometres in the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee

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So…I’ve set a major running goal for summer 2020: I’m going to run 1,000 kilometres in the next four months.

But let’s backtrack a bit so you can get some context. On April 30th, I reached a distance goal of 200k I’d set for myself for the month of April. I’ve run more than that distance before in one month, but always when training for a marathon. For me, 200 kilometres without a marathon goal race in the calendar is a lot. I’m not the kind of runner who loves doing anything much longer than 10k unless I need to for training. And my preference is to run three days a week, four if I’m feeling ambitious. In April, I ended up running 24 days. They were mostly run at a comfortable pace; given the higher overall mileage and greater frequency, my focus was just getting the distance completed. My legs were tired and my pace never really improved, but I was fine with that. It wasn’t about speed. These runs in April became some much needed almost daily stress relief and nice outing in the fresh air while living in quarantine.

How did I come around to making my goal to run 1,000k this summer?

On the last day of April, here is my series of texts to a running friend:

4:06 p.m.: I completed my 200k goal for April and reached 14,000 km on Nike Run Club. My legs are tired, though. I’ll scale back my distance in May.

8:16 p.m.: In crazy runner fashion, now I’m thinking maybe my May goal should be 250 km.

11:40 p.m.: (upon coming across an article on Facebook about the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000k) Oh, and look what just popped up in my feed! That would be 250k a month!

What’s the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000k? The GVRAT is a summer-long race from the creator of the extremely vigorous Barkley Marathons, Lazarus Lake. The distance from the southeastern corner of the state of Tennessee to the northwestern corner is approximately 1,000 kilometres (or 621 miles). The race started on May 1st and goes until August 31st, which means participants have four months to run 1,000k. I was already considering 250k for May… so why not making it four months straight?

(N.B. The distance across Tennessee is actually 1,022 kilometres…and tbh, I’m not clear if it’s 1,000k or 1,022k I have to complete–as it stands, I will complete 1,022 to ensure I complete this virtual race!)

I hemmed and hawed about registering and I had some mixed feedback from friends about whether I should register or not. One reason I was compelled to register? Completing the 1,000k in the virtual race would also coincide with reaching Volt status on Nike Run Club (NRC), so it’d be kind of epic to complete both at the same time.

However, a reason I was iffy about registering (besides the daunting distance through the heat of the summer) was that if I had to prioritize, I’d rather run a marathon in the fall. My plan is to run Detroit Marathon again since I had such a great race last year there. But with the pandemic, who knows if marathons will actually be held this fall. If I were to register for GVRAT, and fall marathons do indeed take place, I’d have to figure out how to manage my training. While I would complete about 250k in a four-week period roughly a month before the marathon, to be completing 250k each month while hoping to run a great marathon is asking a lot of me, mentally and physically. And in training for a marathon, I’d be focused on improving speed and doing hill training, rather than simply completing distance. So juggling the two goals would be a challenge.

I waffled a bit, but I decided it would help to have a goal like the GVRAT to focus on and help me manage  the stress of the pandemic. I can’t control many aspects of life right now, but I can manage my running workouts. It will be a good distraction, and having a running schedule would add some structure to my calendar. Also, normally, I often have to juggle marathon training around traveling for work; now, it will likely be a long time til travel picks up again, so I have plenty of time while at home in Toronto and I can invest that time towards this running goal.

And so I registered for the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee and joined the 16,000+ runners worldwide taking part as well. You can also register your dog, and Billie Jean will likely run most of the 1,000k with me, but I can’t be sure of that (sometimes I may run home from an errand when she’s not with me, plus I can’t have her run with me very long on the days it is unbearably hot and humid), and so I haven’t officially registered her in the dog category of the race.

How I will structure my 1,000 kilometres

Currently, my plan is to switch up the distances. If running daily, 1,000k works out to approximately 8.5k daily. I prefer to have some rest days so I plan to change it up from week to week with some longer runs so that I can take a rest day. That said, I don’t really enjoy running more than 20k when not in training for a marathon. Right now, I’m thinking a decent week might be to run four 15k runs, plus a short recovery run. Also, I predict many of Billie Jean’s quick pee breaks will likely become short, slow and easy runs. I’m going to play around with the schedule and see what works best for me mentally and physically. The race rules allow you to walk (but it has to be a walk with the purpose of walking/hiking, not simply the tally of your day to day steps).

Here I go! Virtually traveling on foot across Tennessee!

A few days into it and it’s nice to have this distraction. GVRAT team is working hard on getting the online tracking system up and running. The site has fun stats including where you are in the standings, projected finish date, and shows you approximately where you are on the course. Today, I finally reached Memphis!

Who else is doing the race? By the way, registration is still open… anyone else want to register? The more the merrier, we can cheer one another on! In any case, you can follow my progress across Tennessee on my social media (follow me on Instagram and Twitter!) and here on the blog!

Leave a Comment May 4, 2020

Fitness Swellness: Setting my 2019 race goals

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A better title for this post would be re-setting my 2019 race goals. Because I had spring 2019 goals, that I’ve had to adjust.

I kicked off the year thinking I’d run Around the Bay (I haven’t run it in several years, not since 2014) and the spring Goodlife Toronto Marathon (which I last ran in 2015). And so I ran regularly. Having trained for 12 marathons thus far, I didn’t look at a particular race schedule but rather worked on slowing increasing my distance and mixing in speed work or hills, along with some steady easy runs, and I was more or less on track in terms of total mileage more towards the beginning of the year.

But the winter weather wasn’t very motivating. Add the fact that I seem to continuing my streak of coming down with colds way too often. I also have a persistent pinched nerve in my neck that has me not feeling much like myself for the past five weeks. (I haven’t yet seen a physio yet; the plan was to go this week, and then I came down with a cold!).

I called off running Around the Bay when a couple of weeks ago, I was at the start of my long run of the week and realized my fitness is nowhere near where I’d need it to be to PB in the marathon in May. Since it was highly unlikely I’d run a PB, I didn’t see the point of training for a spring marathon. You have to really want to run a marathon, and with my heart not in it, well, the truth of it is, I know I can complete a marathon…so I don’t want to just finish another 42.2k race. It won’t be significant to me to just complete it or much fun.

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I knew calling off doing Around the Bay and a spring marathon was the right move when the idea solidified in my head to not race them and all I felt was a rush of relief. Not having to plod through long runs through the grey and (then) slushy streets. I felt a hundred times lighter by just deciding to delete them from my calendar.

But today I realized my secondary goal is now out of reach as well. I had thought I’d try to turn my fastest half-marathon. which I have not focused on since moving up to the marathon distance. But I’ve procrastinated (or been out of commission thanks to colds or my silly pinched nerve problem) too long and now the Goodlife race weekend is just four weeks away. I haven’t slashed this from my schedule yet. But if I run it, it’ll be to just run it for fun, because I have not focused on improving my speed so I am not in shape to PB. A half I think can be fun, for me, a marathon is too long and grueling to be fun, no matter how slow and easy you take it.

What this means now is that fall is the focus. Which means a summer of training in the heat. I think I commit to training best when I’ve got a race I am registered for (not just tentative race goals). The easiest would be to just keep it local and run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (I last ran the half was in 2016)…but I’m thinking I should do a destination race.

One fitness goal that I did accomplish so far this year? Making it through all eight weeks of working out with Nike on Thursday mornings (I may have been late almost every week, but this non-morning person got her butt there!). With my scattered schedule for the past several years finally settling into a much less stressful routine, I’m really happy that I was able to attend all eight weeks of this program. It’s funny the things you come to appreciate. I still adore traveling and am itching to get away but it’s also incredibly comforting to be home and follow through on things like this.

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Photographer, Hanna Kim-Yoo for Nike Toronto.

2 Comments April 4, 2019

Fitness Swellness: Just Do It – Nike Chicago Marathon featuring ME!

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A few weeks ago, I was invited by Nike to Chicago to preview their Chicago Marathon gear. Or so I thought.

Once I arrived at Just Do It HQ, I did get to check out the gear and I noticed the hair and makeup setup and photo shoot set up but didn’t think twice about it (they often have braid bars and photographers at their pop-ups) but then I was whisked into a chair for hair and makeup. “Do you normally wear your hair back when you run?” the hair person asked. Then I was asked to remove my lipstick. And she asked my level of running experience, whether I was a beginner, intermediate or pro runner. I paused, unsure how to answer. “You’re pro. Anyone who is hesitating is pro,” she said. I laughed and explained that pro makes it sound like I think I’m an elite, which I’m obviously not, but this will be my 12th marathon, I added so I guess that makes me an experienced runner.

And asked what this photo shoot was for.

And I never really got a straight answer. Something about celebrating women’s achievements as runners and to inspire women to chase their crazy dreams. Sounds great and yet I never understood precisely where and what this photo would be part of, but I just went with the flow. I was soon in front of the camera and the photographer was telling me the goal is to capture all the different emotions you feel as you run a marathon. All sorts of emotions came to mind: exhaustion, happiness, relief, anger, sadness.

Fast forward to today, when I’m getting prepared to run the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and there I am on a billboard on Michigan Avenue. Me! The girl who took a Learn to Run clinic in 2007 and now will be racing her 12th marathon. With too many other races to name and a pile of medals at home. I’m one of 100 women training for the Chicago Marathon featured in these ads across the city. I’m still a bit stunned as a type this.

I would’ve told you that marathons were insane and there was no way I’d be able to run for hours to complete a ridiculously long distance of 42.2k back in 2007.

And yet, here we are! Excited for Sunday! If you’re on Michigan Ave. look for my billboard!

 

1 Comment October 5, 2018

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