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How to Make a Training Plan (And Stick With It)

Welcome to Monday!
It was a weekend jam packed with running for me. I did the Creemore Vertical Challenge 25KM on Saturday morning (recap will be on the blog on Friday). It was a fantastic course and although it was a training run for me, I was excited to finish first female.

Sunday, I spent the morning checking out the 5 Peaks Rattle Snake course with the race director and ambassadors and finished off the day by hosting a trail run in Waterloo with the Toronto Run Club Night Terrors. I love meeting other runners all throughout Canada and I have some exciting runs planned for the summer.

Doing some hill climbs to prep for next weekend!

Doing some hill climbs to prep for next weekend!

Group shot with some of my favourite trail running friends.

Group shot with some of my favourite trail running friends.

 

Night Terrors at the Hydrocut. Finishing off the weekend of trail running!

Night Terrors at the Hydrocut. Finishing off the weekend of trail running!

(As an aside, if you are thinking of running Rattle Snake next weekend, send me a message at lacesandlattes@gmail.com and I will hook you up with a discount code. )

Last week, I completed the finishing touches on my seven week training plan for my upcoming Endurrun marathon which will also serve as a launching point into my Scotiabank marathon in October. I’m not going to lie, it was a blast, but a wee bit hectic.

I used my MovesCount profile to create the plan and was able to track my weekly running milage as well as all my cross training. It is helpful because it gives me my average cardio for the week and I was shooting for between 10 – 12 hours and it landed me at 11.5! I have been meaning to do a post on how I track my training and I thought that this would be the perfect time, especially as I know many of you are thinking of upcoming A races this fall.

1. Determine the weeks leading up to the race – I knew that I had seven weeks to get into marathon race shape. Considering I am building from half marathon race shape, it really isn’t a proper training cycle length to build and taper, but I worked out some creative solutions in my cardio to add fatigue without the wear and tear.

2. If you are new to creating training plans, talk to an expert – For me, that was my coach. I sat down with him and brought my past mileage and weekly workout habits and we discussed the best ways to proceed. I would have made some silly training decisions without his advice.

marathon-training

3. Know it won’t be perfect – As I mentioned, I am not building in an ideal time frame, but it has allowed me to be creative. What do you do when you have a 30 KM run on tap for the same weekend you are doing an 8 hr adventure race? How do you add appropriate levels of fatigue without adding too much milage? (I am cycling an hour before my long runs).

4. Make it as easy as possible – I created the plan in Moves Count and added it to Garmin. This has uploaded my training into both my Suunto and Garmin watches so it can tell me what I am doing on any given day. It is also a great way to monitor milage.

5. Track your progress – I also hand write each workout into my beloved Moleskin planner which tracks everything for me from my appointments, workouts to my budget. If I lost it, I would be aimlessly wandering. An important thing I do with my handwritten workouts is to colour code them in the following way:

Green – I felt AMAZING
Orange – The workout was a bit underwhelming. I didn’t feel 100%
Red – It was full of pain and suck.

Zoomphoto Inc Event Photography

If I start dipping into the orange, I monitor my training and potentially adjust my milage or intensity or just take a plain old rest day to make sure I am not over training.
6. Don’t be ruled by your plan – As I mentioned, if I am feeling burnt out, tired or not into my workouts, I will take a rest day, no matter what it says on my training schedule. Also, sometimes life happens and your mother wants to take you for dinner or a long distance friend is in town. People always trump races for me so just remember that this is FUN and the track is always there tomorrow.

If you are interested in tracking my training, I am on Strava and Moves Count.
I will also be sharing pictures and updates on my Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

What do you use to track your training?

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Review: Garmin Forerunner 220

A couple of months ago, I set out on a bike ride and my faithful Garmin ForeRunner 305 would not wake up. I was deeply saddened because I had formed an almost emotional connection to the watch, especially as when I purchased it back in 2009 when I decided to start running, I bought it from someone who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and could never run again.

Garmin-forerunner-305

Source: Garmin

“Run hard with it!” they told me.
And I did. The strap was worn and the watch had been around the world, connecting to satellites in North Dakota, Arizona, Paris, Amsterdam and London. It had biked long roads, ran trails and navigated me out of places I thought I was hopelessly lost in.

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2011 Half Marathon in Paris with my trusty 305

This was A Good Watch.
And although nothing could replace the giant computer I regularly strapped onto my wrist, I needed a watch stat. So I went into my favourite local running shop where I buy everything and asked Tiffany to hook me up with a new watch.
I ended up walking out with a Garmin ForeRunner 220 in Grape.
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The basis of my comparison will be between the Garmin ForeRunner 305 and the Garmin Forerunner 220, which is comparing a high-range and mid-range watch (price wise).

A couple of key things that stuck out to me immediately that I love about the watch and are big upgrades.

Upgrades

  • The weight – this little lady is a lot lighter than her successor. I forget that it is on my wrist.
  • The style – A less obnoxious design, I can forget to take it off and not look ridiculous while grocery shopping. In fact, I have gotten compliments on the watch.
  • The charger- The Garmin 220 does not sit in a holder, but is strapped in which keeps it locked in tightly and I don’t need to worry about it not sitting just so to get the charge like before.
  • The satellite connection – There is no need to stand and wait with your hand outstretched to the skies with this one. I found that I just need to strap it on and can start running immediately. There was only one run where I lost a satellite connection and that was in the middle of nowhere on a trail in Port Elgin.
  •  Auto lap – It tracks every KM or mile (whatever your preference is) and beeps when you hit it. A really great way to track where you are in a race if you are not watching your watch.
  • Auto pause – For those times where I get too chatty at practice, it automatically pauses for me. No need to madly scramble for the pause button at the end of intervals.
  • Internal Accelerometer – This allows me to track my runs on the treadmill if I ever chose to do so.
Source: DC Rainmaker

Source: DC Rainmaker

Using the watch

I found the watch very intuitive and easy to use. The “Go” button was purple and was exactly where it is found in other Garmin models. In fact, I found it to be easier to use than my Garmin Forerunner 305.

A neat new feature is that it has Bluetooth to sync workouts directly to your phone as well as to provide live tracking during races and events to friends and family. It is also completely water proof if you forget to take it off for a refreshing swim.

The only downside I found to the watch was that it was not compatible with a bike. But as soon as I dropped the $400 for a new watch, my old one sprung to life. But now I can have a watch for running and one for cycling – that’s practical, right?

For the sake of transparency, I have not partnered with Garmin for this post, nor did I receive the product from them. I bought the watch because Garmin satellite technology is some of the best in the market and I have always been happy with their watches.

Want to read more on the watch? Check out the best source on the internets for running tech. (No seriously, even Garmin tells their reps to refer to it.)

What watch do you run in?

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ZICO Recovery Popsicles

It is getting WARM out there!

Heat training is something I adore because in my opinion, there is nothing more fun than getting a giant, stinging eyes,  drip-down-your-back sweat on after a hard interval session which is exactly what happened this week at practice with my team.

I came home and drank my regular recovery drink and wanted something MORE which is where I came up with recovery popsicles.

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I love to drink coconut water and BCAA’s after a hard summer workout to replenish lost electrolytes and support recovery. To be completely honest with you, I do not love coconut water on it’s own, but I incorporate it into my recovery routine because you just cannot argue with the benefits:

  • Essential electrolytes: It contains sodium to recover the salt that is lost through sweating, magnesium to aid with muscle recovery and calcium and potassium.
  • Potassium-Rich: Full of potassium, it help to stop those pesky muscle twitches and support your muscles in recovery. 
  • Just Plain Old Good for You: With no added sugar, cholesterol or fat, you can hydrate and know you are doing your body a favour. 

I have discussed the benefits of BCAA’s in recovery before, but here is another great article on the topic. 

To make recovery popsicles, I took one of my favourite recovery drinks and simply poured it into some popsicle molds instead of drinking it.

ZICO Recovery Popsicles

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Pour mixture into popsicle molds and allow to freeze for 2-3 hours. Run hot water over the outside of the molds to loosen the popsicle and enjoy!

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There is nothing better than polishing off one of these and diving into the pool for a refreshing swim. Oh summer – you are perfect.

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If you would make a recovery popsicle, what would be in it? 

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Goals for July

Well this post is a little late. I would say I cared but I don’t. I really don’t.
We are in the midst of a Canadian long weekend and I am in full out vacation mode. I went camping this past weekend and I had a wonderful weekend with friends full of sunsets, long trails runs, beach days and delicious food.

There was one evening when we all walked down to the beach to watch the sunset and someone remarked that it was the very best that Canada had to offer. I am so fortunate to live in a country where I can ran, play and explore to my hearts content. Oh Canada.

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It is hard to believe that we are on the cusp of July, but it is time to take a look at my past goals and focus on a few fresh ones for this month.

In my goals for June, I wanted to:

1. Learn a new sport. A+

Honestly, I did so much more with this one that I ever imagined. I learned how to golf – I played in a tournament and went to the driving range regularly with friends. I have set up a weekly golf practice with a friend and I am looking forward to playing in another tournament at the end of August to see how I have improved.

golf

2. Take some courses for work. D
I have begun them and have been working away at them, but I am not going to lie, I have flagged a little. Work has picked up and I am focusing on keeping up more than learning anything new.

3. Focus on sleep. C
I did SO well on this at the beginning of the month, but last weekend ruined everything. A 2 hour night of sleep, followed by a 4 hour night, settled nicely into a routine of about 6 or less hours. Don’t worry, I have been properly chastised by my coach and I am hoping to get back on track in July.

4. Increase my savings. A+
I am now on a first name basis with my financial advisor and I have come up with a robust savings plan. I have some big plans to buy ALL the things in the future and I am focusing on being a bit aggressive with savings now, because we ALL know I would spend it on running shoes if I wouldn’t save it.

5. Complete my first triathlon. A+
Nailed it! I had such a blast and I know this won’t be my last one. Read more about it here.

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Ok, July. So, if I could have one theme for July, it would be PREPARATION.

1. Prepare for my marathon in 7 weeks.

marathon-training
I haven’t talked much about this on the blog, but I have been chose to race on the women’s team for ENDURRUN in the marathon leg. It was a bit sudden so I only have a 7 week cycle to build, taper and race this thing as hard as I can. This means I will be addressing things like running all the time, sleeping 8-9 hours and eating anti-inflammatory foods like never before. Basically, good bye friends. See you in September!

2. See my friends and family more:
I know this seems counterintuitive given the point above, but when I am not training, I want relaxed evenings with family and close friends. I want to push living back to 3rd or 4th gear this month and just focus on enjoying summer. It is easy to get caught up in training and work life and I guess what I am saying is I want BALANCE.

3. Settle into my new volunteering role:

house-of-friendship
I have joined a local organization called House of Friendship on the PR Committee which focuses on helping those in the local community with addictions and social issues. I am meeting with the organization to understand my role and figure out how I can be the best asset to the company.

4. Take mini-vacations:
When I am not racing, I am peacing out on some weekend trips including a beach day, a kayak trip and a cottage weekend with some of my best friends of life. Being Canadian is amazing, but our summer is too short and I want to soak it up as much as possible!

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Caught meer-catting on the beach this weekend. Not a single care shall be given.

5. Take to the lakes and trails to prep for my adventure race.
I am doing my very first adventure race in Michigan at the beginning of August and I want to be prepared. I am upping my mountain biking and canoeing and getting super excited! I already am pulling a team together for another one in November!

Now if you excuse me, I am off to tackle the list.

What are your goals for July?

jess-triathlon

Triathlons: Tips from the Nuun Team

Sometimes I find it easy to get stuck in a rut of sorts. I know how to run inside out so there is something so safe and cuddly about filling my weeks with intervals and long slow distance runs that I forget what it’s like to be scared and out of my element.

Enter my summer challenge to try a new sport every month, which is quickly turning into 2 or three! In June alone, I took up golfing, beach volleyball and the triathlon.

I wanted to share a bit about my first triathlon as an absolute newbie to the sport and what I learned.

The race: I did Guelph Lake Triathlon in the Sprint Distance. I signed up with Ange, who did the duathlon.

Photo cred to Ange

Photo cred to Ange

I was scared for this race, I am not going to lie. I did not have sufficient training time for the swim and as I lined up at the shore of Guelph Lake with all of the jacked triathletes and looked out at the open water, I thought “What did I get myself into?!”

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Trying to put my triathlon laces into my shoes in the transition area. NEWBIE!

The Swim: I was in the second wave and it was less scary than I thought. What I was not expecting was to panic a bit after getting kicked in the head about 250 m into the swim, especially as I normally remain quite calm in racing situations. As a result, I swam with my head above the water for most of the time and ended up with a nice, sore neck the following day.

T1: The transition went fairly smoothly. I had raced the day before so my legs didn’t feel fresh as I ran back to the area to slip on my cycling shoes and clip on my helmet for the ride portion. I found my hands were too wet to put on my cycling gloves so I just left them.
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The Ride: Honestly, this was one of the most fun portions of the course for me. I had put in a ton of training time on the bike and even though my legs were hurting from my trail race, I was able to pass quite a few people and had a decent speed, considering I certainly do not have a tri bike! This was probably the most fun, memorable portion for me.

T2: This was my fastest transition. I kicked off my cycling shoes, pulled on my running shoes, grabbed a swig of my nuun water and headed out on the 5 KM run.

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The Run: I found my legs were fine. They did not have that familiar dead feeling that occurs after a long ride, but it could have been that the bike was only 20 KM and helped flush out some of the fatigue from my race on Saturday. I kept a decent pace and kept watching for Angela because I was expecting her to join me at any moment. All of a sudden, I heard her beside me saying something like “We’ve got this”.
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Ok, guys. I am not a sentimental person, but this was probably one of the most meaningful moments for me in race history. We had signed up together, trained together and even though she was doing a completely different race, we got to finish the race together. I won’t post a picture, because that is stealing, but you can see my race photos here.

One thing I did before I took on the triathlon was ask for help from my Nuun team. I am so fortunate to belong to a community of such accomplished athletes and there sure are a lot of triathletes in the mix.

Here is a list of some of their top advice for first time triathletes:

Race Prep:

If you don’t use socks, put lots of baby powder in your run shoes to help avoid blisters. – Holly
 The Run:

Since it’s your first one, it’ll be a PR no matter how you finish. Take the time to enjoy it! And don’t go out too fast on the run or you’ll be sorry in about 1/2 mile. – Lani

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Leave something for the run, don’t use all your energy up on the bike. – Kevin
 The Swim:

Open water swims can be scary on the first one. Just relax and focus on your breathing when your face is in the water. Clear your mind and if you start to panic, get to the side and flip over on your back and take a couple deep breaths and remind yourself over and over “just another pool swim!”  – Amanda

swim

I think the hardest part is getting my head in the water to swim with the adrenaline of the start so just focus on getting your face in the water even if you have to breathe every stroke. Oh and if you have a chance warm up in the water before the start you will get used to the temp and be more calm when the gun goes off. – Charlene
If you are afraid of getting kicked in the face, swim using a catch up – one hand always out guarding your face. Don’t be afraid to doggy paddle if you panic or get caught in a crowd. – Kevin
 The Transitions:

My biggest tip is to know your plan when you get to transition. What will you do 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. Follow that plan or else you’ll lose time really quick. – Megan

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When you set up transition, either count the racks or find a landmark, so you know where your spot is when you come in. Make sure you know which way you will come in and out of transition for both T1 and T2. – Kevin
 The Bike:

Put your sunglasses and bib number belt in your helmet then hang helmet from bike handlebars (helps them not get knocked around/stepped on and you don’t forget to put them on in transition- I find it faster/easier to just wear bib number belt on bike even though not always required). Remember helmet on before unracking the bike! – Holly

I found the advice absolutely invaluable, especially for the swim and transitions as those were both new to me. If you are a triathlete and have additional advice for me for my future races, leave them in the comments!

What I ate:

Dinner (Nike Run Event): Hotdog, baked potato, corn, cookie. (Can you say carb loading?)

Breakfast: Sprouted toast with peanut butter and nutella. Banana. Coffee. Nuun lemonade.

What I wore:

Saucony tri suit
New Balance 1400s
Cycling Shoes

jess-triathlon

My next race is Creemore Vertical Challenge! What is yours?

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Race Report: 5 Peaks Heart Lake Trail Race

Let’s talk trail races, shall we?

Last weekend, I did two races and both of them were different enough that I have split them into two posts.

Saturday morning, I raced the 5 Peaks Heart Lake course in the Enduro distance which was 14 KM.

It was a PERFECT day for racing. The weather was gorgeous, the energy was great in the racers and the course was HARD.

I arrived nice and early to pick up my race kit and say hello to some of my friends who were racing. Also to pick up the sweet swag at this race – this time around, there were some wicked arm warmers.

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The race started at 10 am and I made a pretty grave error straight away which was starting out too quickly. I was wearing my new Suunto Ambit watch which I will be doing a review on in the future, but I am still learning how to use it, so instead of starting it, I changed my screen.

As Erin, the race director, later announced – This watch is smarter than you – and she was correct. It worked fine once I got the hang of it, but I wasn’t able to track my speed in the first couple kilometers and I was flying.

Eventually I settled into my regular pace and tackled the course which was much more difficult than I expected. Coupled with the first race of the summer run in the heat and the fact that I ate deep dish pizza for breakfast, it was a difficult race for me. (Re: the pizza, I am not saying I have it all sorted out nutrition-wise. It was early enough when I got up that it seemed like a good idea at the time. My gut thought differently around 10 KM.)

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The race course itself had a nice variety of technical single track and rolling double track allowing me to be speedy in some portions and making me work hard in others. There is a MOTHER of an incline at around 6.5 KM and 13.5 KM that literally had me clawing in the dirt to get to the top. It is moments of a race like that which put the biggest smile on my face, even if I am hurting. This race also had a fantastic amount of fallen trees to leap over.

I crossed the finish line for a time of 1:12:42 which earned me fourth female OA and first in my age group. Yes, I am a fourteen year old in the results – I don’t want to talk about it..

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My finish was even caught on film! (Don’t judge – I was HURTING)

I didn’t feel that great due to digestive issues, but that was rectified with some of the amazing food waiting for racers at the finish line.

I was able to stay for prizes this race and I was excited to hang out with my team (who won the team category!) and some of the ambassadors and friends.

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What I ate: Dinner – Chicken breast, spinach, sweet potato
Breakfast – coffee, two pieces of deep dish pizza. (Just…no)

What I wore: Skechers GOUltra Trail Shoes (I review them here)
PUMA shorts
Health + Performance jersey (New Balance)

Check out other reviews by:

Health and Performance

Kent – A fellow ambassador

Michelle – A fellow ambassador

Another fantastic race by 5 Peaks! I will be at the next one at Rattle Snake Point on July 12 which promises to be just as technical and just as fun. Message me for a discount code and come join.

Did you race last weekend? How did it go?

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Pain Tolerance and Athletes

Happy Monday!

I am a little worse for wear after my weekend of fun, but I did warn you in Friday’s post that it may happen. I had such a fantastic weekend of racing, run groups, concerts and seeing friends that it felt like I put a whole week’s worth of things into two days.

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Nike Run Canada event. It was great to meet so many running clubs in Toronto.

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One Republic concert to close off the weekend.

Recaps on the races will be up this week, but I thought I would chat to you about something that all endurance athletes are absolutely suckers for…pain.

Pain is something we all deal with. Last week at track practice with my team, I asked a few team mates how they were feeling. It was followed up with causal mentions of stabbing pain in their feet, hamstrings and well, everywhere. I remember telling my coach when I ran varsity in university that I had some pain and he said “You are a runner. You will hurt a little bit somewhere all the time.”

It sounds awful when you type it out like that but it is true. When I stop hurting, it means I have recovered from my race or training session and it is time to work again.

It is interesting to me that athletes have a significantly higher pain tolerance than non-active people. There was a recent study by Jonas Tesarz at the University of Heidelberg that studied this topic and found that although they have a higher pain tolerance, they have similar pain thresholds. Training can’t make athletes numb to pain, but it can condition them to tolerate it.

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Training to tolerate pain syncs with mental training for athletes. When I am on training run and I run out of glycogen stores and bonk or I have discomfort or pain, I adjust my mindset to view it as gaining a competitive advantage. In competition, my opponents will be hurting just as badly as I am, but the winner is the athlete who can learn to be indifferent to pain.

Now, I think it is time to throw in a disclaimer that I will not run through all pain. My first DNF (did not finish, the most horrible title for any athlete) came from a decision made when I truly felt as if there was something medically wrong with me and it was in my best interest to stop. Being in tune with your body and understanding when to stop is vital to athletes, but it is something that is worked out in training.

As an athlete of any kind, learning to be comfortable with discomfort and being able to successfully manage training pain is vital for competition.

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You will never ever be successful, until you turn your pain into greatness, until you allow your pain to push you from where you are to push you to where you need to be. Stop running from your pain and embrace your pain. Your pain is going to be a part of your prize, a part of your product.

More articles on pain and athletes:

No Pain, No Gain – Aeon Magazine

How Pain Tolerance Affects Running Performance – Competitor Magazine

What are your tips for managing pain in training and racing?

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RunWaterloo Classic 10 KM Review

Happy Friday!!

It’s going to be another super busy weekend planned. Two races including my first triathlon, one run event in Toronto and a concert all rolled into two days. You always know it was a perfect weekend when you are exhausted on Monday morning… I apologize in advance – my instagram will be buzzing!

Speaking of races, I thought I would do a quick recap of the Waterloo Classic that I ran last weekend.

Waterloo Classic

This was a different race for me. I was racing with my team, Health + Performance but I was slowly coming back from that knee injury so I wanted to be cautious. And quite frankly, I race a lot so I mentally was due for a race where I was just having FUN.

It was held on Sunday, June 15 and it was a beautiful morning. I was a bit late to the race and as a result, I slipped up to the start line about 2 minutes before gun time. Let’s just say my heart rate was about 100 bpm just standing there…

WaterlooClassic-racestart
I started too fast, but this was not a race that deeply mattered. I focused on breathing, on form and on feeling happy that I was racing. I tried to conserve energy but keep it in about fourth gear. I am racing every weekend right now so it is not realistic to go full out every single race.

The first 5 KM went well and I did the first half in the low end of 20 minutes. I knew that I would run a comparable race to the Yonge Street 10 KM which is great as that is a speedy course that is mostly downhill. The next 2 KM were a bit laborious but then I hit the turn around point, no longer had the wind in my face and was feeling AWESOME. I started pushing harder.

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I finished with a time of 42:14, 4th female overall and third in my age group. I was 12 seconds slower than Yonge Street 10KM but I was happy with my race. I have been racing hard lately and it was great to get out there, feel good and have a wonderful time with my friends and team.

Race Basics: 

What I ate: Dinner was pizza from the best little pizza shop in Hamilton with my best friends in the park. 5 pieces later…
Breakfast was banana, coffee and sprouted toast with nutella. I’m on a nutella kick right now and I am not stopping anytime soon..

What I wore: Team racing singlet, ZEAL rival frames, Aerie workout shorts, CEP compression socks and New Balance 1400s (my new favourite racing flats). 

The Waterloo Classic is such a great race. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fun 10 KM. It is well staffed aid stations, fun course and probably their biggest race yet! It is fun to race against some fast people and meet some blog readers as well. The food, as usual at RunWaterloo races is second to NONE.

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Ange taking back some watermelon after her stupendous race!

You can check out how the rest of my team performed here. The next RunWaterloo race that I am running is the Endurrun. I am on the H+P girls team and I am tackling the marathon leg which means I have 8 weeks to get into marathon race shape.

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This weekend, I am racing the 5 Peaks Heartlake Trail race and the Guelph Lake Triathlon. If you are interested in racing 5 Peaks with me, it’s not too late to sign up. I am so excited for how many of my awesome runner friends and readers are coming out for the event and would be SO EXCITED for you to join. Email lacesandlattes@gmail.com and I’ll hook you up with a discount code.

Happy weekending!