Category Archives: Running

Fitness Friday: Panic Sets In (Half Marathon Training)

(old photo from several years ago - conveniently recycled for this post!)
(old photo from several years ago – conveniently recycled for this post!)

This will undoubtedly be an uninteresting post to many, but sometimes you have to face reality and just… put it out there.

So what’s the issue? Basically… I’ve got a half marathon in Sydney, Australia scheduled for September 17th and the longest run I’ve done in the last thirty days is 7 kilometers (this past Monday). By now I should be doing 60-80k per month and have solid lungs and muscles in place in which to complete a half marathon. But, with the condo purchase and move, and my never ending  various sicknesses (in case you missed my update video: I’ve had two colds, an eye infection and horrifically debilitating food poisoning in the last three-four weeks), my last long run was only 11k and it was on July 22nd. To say I’m panicked about this upcoming race would be an understatement.

I went back to training this past week and set about an insane plan: I’m alternating 7-8k runs with weight training and then adding in progressively longer long runs as time goes on (I’m doing 12k tonight, then 14k AND a 15k next week alongside weight training and some shorter runs, etc.). The sad thing was that given my immediate start on Monday of this past week, it meant I only had 2.5 weeks to train for a half marathon which is a rather daunting task.

Of course, I do have a solid level of fitness that has helped keep my muscles from atrophying too much during the last month where I’ve done NOTHING, but it’s still really frightening to realize you are not only sorely under trained for something, but that you’ve got very little time in which to make up an entire MONTH of training. Half the issue is that although the race isn’t until September 17th – which would lead you to believe I’ve got more time that I’ve indicated – the reality is that we leave for Bali on September 7th and there’s NO WAY I can run in Indonesia because the night time temperature is 27 degrees!

I’m mostly putting this out there so that I don’t give up. I WANT to run a half marathon in Sydney – I love that feeling of being in a different country and doing something strenuous because I get this intense feeling of catharsis caused by such a long run. But man am I nervous. I also feel like something ALWAYS happens when I train for a race – like why can’t things ever go smoothly??

So that’s where I’m at. Fingers crossed I can still walk after this half and enjoy the rest of my vacation!

Fitness Friday: 2017 Pride and Remembrance Run

2017 Pride and Remembrance Run - starting zone
2017 Pride and Remembrance Run – starting zone

Hoooo boyyyy! I was WAITING for one of these races to finally happen in my racing “career”. The race where you’re sick for the day of the race and don’t want to even cross the finish line because you’re so ashamed of your finish time.

Heck, even before the race started, my friend and I did not look super keen on it!
Heck, even before the race started, my friend and I did not look super keen on it!

Frankly, it was a long overdue for me – the 2017 Pride and Remembrance Run marks my fourth running anniversary and it’s slightly astonishing that I had never been physically ill for a race prior to now. But there we have it – I was coughing and phlegming like a beast going into this race and it’s almost a week later that I’m writing this post and I still sound deathly ill.

The girl beside me looks so happy! And I just wanted to die. LOL
The girl beside me looks so happy! And I just wanted to die. LOL

The race got off to a really bad start to begin with – there’s supposed to be a sub 25 minute corral (which is not me – I’m a solid 26 minute 5K runner), and everyone else was supposed to go five minutes after that corral took off. That’s not how it ended up working. The air horn went off and EVERYONE took off. I was so unprepared to start that I didn’t have my music ready to go or my Nike Plus tracker set up to go on my phone (Garmin was good to go though). I spent the first thirty seconds of the race fumbling around with my phone trying to get the music going while bouncing up and down. What a mess.

Nearing the finish!
Nearing the finish!

I had this hope that despite my sickness, my body would somehow overcome that and bust through with a decent time. I was pretty hopeful at first – my first kilometer clocked in at 5:18, but then I hit a wall and my speed just started to slow down incrementally per kilometer (2nd kilometer was 5:47, then 6:15, then 6:17, etc.). I had zero drive to push harder and I really just wanted it to be over with.

Thankfully getting very close to the finish line
Thankfully getting very close to the finish line

I had a few moments where I was determined to just drop out of the race and/or start walking. It was at that point that I started bargaining with myself: was it more shameful  to finish a race slowly, or at least complete it without walking? In the end I decided that I would just not walk any part of it, but still push on and finish.

Chugging along to the finish line
Chugging along to the finish line

The whole race I felt like I was very close to coughing up a lung and/or throwing up because I just felt so wretched. I was so out of it I didn’t see my husband in the end zone taking pictures (like the one above), nor did I realize I’d worn the wrong SHOES to the race! I didn’t even catch on till we got home, I took my shoes off and then later on was like “wait, why are THOSE shoes out and not my new running ones?” (Not that it would’ve made a difference, but the shoes I did end up wearing have clocked over 900 kilometers on them and are quite worn down on the soles.)

Soooooo in short? Worst race of my life! I finished with a chip time of 30:15 which is far and beyond my worst 5K to date. So now I have a new personal worst! To give you an idea of how slow that is for me – I usually run a half marathon (21.1 kilometers) around a 6:05 per kilometer pace. This race was done at 6:02 per k. So suffice to say… I was pretty annoyed.

2017 Pride and Remembrance Run Course and Details
2017 Pride and Remembrance Run Course and Details

On the flip side? I completed it even though I felt atrocious. I bargained with myself and was happy that I managed to talk myself into NOT walking the race. Yes, my personal pride is injured by this race time, but I was also sick and I *know* I can do better next time. Of all the places and races to be sick for, I’m glad it was in a run I feel extremely comfortable with and in my own neighbourhood.

An enormous thank you to all of the volunteers corralling people and handing out water, and to the people cheering us on at the finish line. You guys really, REALLY help us out!

Race Results

  • Finish Time: 30:15
  • Pace: 6:02 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 695/1165
  • Age group placement (Female 30-39 years): 81/202
  • Gender placement (F): 218/589

Fitness Friday: Sporting Life 10K 2017

Myself and Jordan before the start of the race
Myself and Jordan before the start of the race

This was my third time running the Sporting Life 10K as I had somehow gotten myself roped into it by my coworkers. I say “roped into it” because a the 10K distance is my least favourite race distance. There’s just something so awkward about 10K – you have to run close to your 5K pace… and yet it’s for double the distance! Ugh! Plus, I had kinda bombed my last 10K race in New York City (that race recap can be found here) so I kinda figured I wasn’t really set up properly (in training) for this distance.

The one massive upside though? Almost the entire course for the Sporting Life 10K is downhill, which automatically means you’ll be pulling a faster time overall.

The start zone for the Sporting Life race - facing south down Yonge Street
The start zone for the Sporting Life race – facing south down Yonge Street

My friend Jordan and I live in the same neighbourhood so we Ubered up to the start zone and got in our corral mere minutes before the race started. I like getting there just before the race starts because then you’re not standing around idle freezing your butt off until you start running, so it worked out well for us! We were both in the 56-59 minute finish time corral. I was hopeful for a 56 minute finish, but my last race a month prior had been just shy of 60 so I was kinda doubtful. Jordan had never done a 10K race before, but he’d run the distance the previous week and had clocked in around 55 minutes, so he could’ve potentially gone in the faster group. As our group started out, we wished each other well and started out at our own pace.

I tried to find my coworkers throughout the race, but I never saw them. I knew we were in the same corral, but when the race has approximately 20 THOUSAND people in it, it can be very difficult to find someone amongst the masses!

Hitting the finish line track mats!
Hitting the finish line track mats!

Although the 10K distance is not my favourite, this IS a lovely course. The downhill section (basically the first 7-8 kilometers) gives you a completely different vantage point than you would normally see in any given race. You’re constantly looking far down ahead of you and all you can see are masses of people. It might look like a crowded mess at times (and it certainly feels like that when you’re trying to get around people!), but it’s a beautiful mess because you know that we’re all in this together.

Sidenote: This was one of the WORST races in recent memory of people coming to a crashing halt in the middle of the course. People please – DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COURSE! Slow yourselves to a halt by the sides, not in the middle! (Read this post on What NOT To Do In A Race – it might be helpful.)

All finished!
All finished!

I crossed the track mats a little bit unaware of my finish time – I couldn’t for the life of me remember what my previous paces had been on this course. I prefer comparing this race only to my other Sporting Life races because of the downhill aspect – everyone is automatically faster on this course, so using this as a personal best time is just ridiculous since it has severe advantages over even a flat course.

In the end, I finished the race with a time of 56:12 – which turned out to be my fastest on this course (by 11 seconds from my 2014 race). Even more interesting is that I basically kept the same pace for the entire race – which is something I almost never manage to accomplish. My first 5K was at a pace of 5:36/k and my second 5K at 5:38/k. Usually I plummet in speed for the second half of any race, so  this really felt like I had more endurance overall. I was DEAD pleased about that!

This year is shaping up really well for my race paces and I’m so, so happy that I finally feel on track again!

2017 Sporting Life 10K map and stats via my Garmin
2017 Sporting Life 10K map and stats via my Garmin

Race Recap

  • Finish Time: 56:12
  • Pace: 5:37 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 6118/18500
  • Age group placement (Female, 30-34): 409/1687
  • Gender placement (F): 2314/10552

Fitness Friday: 2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race Recap

2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race - before

A trio of us ( were in New York City last weekend for IMATS and my friends said they were more than happy if I pulled myself away from our group for a morning race on the Sunday we were in town! In looking around for a race on the Sunday, the one that popped up was the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K race that takes place in Central Park. I was elated – not only was I finally going to get the opportunity to run in Central Park (something I’d always wanted to do but had never gotten around to actually doing while on vacation), but the race start zone was walking distance from our hotel! I mean, how perfect is that??

Let's do this! 10k race in Central Park! #UAEHK10K

A post shared by Chelle (@mu_your_mind) on

The morning of the race was sunny and beautiful. The air was on the cool side of things and for me that makes for lovely running conditions. However, my stomach was a bit of a mess that morning and I had slept uncomfortably the night before because I kept waking up every few hours and STAYING awake for long stretches of time until I dozed off again. It was predominantly to do with race jitters which is something I can never seem to shake no matter how many races I’ve got under my belt at this point. It’s odd too – I hadn’t trained for this race in particular, so I knew I wasn’t going to put out a stellar time so I should not have been nervous at all.

Anyway, I ended up forgetting my Garmin tracker as I was headed out the door which ended up putting me a little bit off kilter when it came to the actual race. I thought my Nike+ app tracker would be sufficient (which is why I didn’t double back to get my Garmin) but it definitely wasn’t, and I certainly won’t be making that mistake again.

2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race - Nike+ Course Map
2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race – Nike+ Course Map

Despite my stomach feeling rotten and the weird race jitters being ever present, as soon as I got into the starting lineup for the race, all of my worries melted away. And as soon as I started the actual race, I felt entirely at home. Running has become such a part of my life that it’s actually incredibly soothing to me. I know that sounds a little bizarre to some people – that the idea of bouncing up and down while covering long distances could even be remotely soothing, but, to explain it a bit more, the movement of putting one foot in front of the other… it’s become such a practiced and comfortable movement for me that it instantly puts me at peace. I experienced this same feeling last year when I did that Half Marathon in Iceland (which had crappy weather conditions and I felt less than stellar due to lack of sleep). It’s like my body just knows what to do and I can just give in to that feeling.

Anyway, I was lacking my Garmin, so the only feedback I had about my pace was coming from my Nike+ app, and it was only telling me once I finished a kilometer. I actually thought I was going at a really good pace, but in the end the Nike+ app was overtracking my kilometers and thinks I finished the race about 600 meters before the end which made all of my pacing totally out of whack. Not much I could do about it – by the time I realized the mistake I was so close to the end and I couldn’t run double my pace to make up the difference. I never really realized how much I rely on my Garmin to keep me on pace. Having that information feedback on your wrist is so, SO freaking vital! In the end, I ended up going a touch faster than my half marathon pace (pace details are at the bottom of this post), so yeah, it was a pretty slow race for me! And I wasn’t really sore the next day so I definitely wasn’t pushing myself. Ugh.

2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race - All done!
2017 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Race – All done!

One thing I was not prepared for was just how many dang hills there are in Central Park. HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS. It’s like a constant series of uphills! I couldn’t believe it! Especially the northern end of the park – it felt like kilometer after kilometer of ascent. I didn’t stop to walk any of them, but it definitely sucked some of the energy out of my system.

One of the things I need to mention about this run is that this was my first experience with seeing “threat level” flags in a race. I assume it’s because of what happened with the Boston Marathon bombings, but every checkpoint had a green flag with something that said “Race Status Alert Level: Safe”, which I anticipate they would change to yellow or red depending on what the conditions were ahead. I think it’s a necessary measure considering what has happened in the past, but when I finally clued in to what those flags meant (took me a few checkpoints to realize!) I was horrified – chills were running up and down my body. It was a moment of “what the hell country am I in where this is a necessary measure?”. It was a really bone-chilling moment for me.

All in all though, the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K was an extremely well organized event. I appreciated just how many hydration stations there were (which even included bathrooms), alongside the safety checkpoints. The volunteers all seemed happy to help and encourage and the overall atmosphere was really enjoyable. Overall, I didn’t LOVE the course design, but there is not much that can be done about that due to the structure of Central Park. So for me, I was just really happy to participate in this event!

Race Results

  • Finish Time: 59:25
  • Pace: 5:56 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 5197/8615
  • Age group placement (Female 30-34 years): 430/887
  • Gender placement (F): 1764/4032

By the way, if you’re ever interested in the other races I’ve run, you can always visit my Race Results page for a breakdown by year and by race. Enjoy!

Fitness Friday: 2017 Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Race

Just before starting out for the race!
Just before starting out for the race!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I hope you’re wearing some green and having a lovely day. 🙂

So, my favourite race of the year is always the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K! I’m a wee bit obsessed with all things Irish and green, and I can think of no better way to start my St. Patrick’s Day festivities than with a 5K race in cool weather, surrounded by a sea of green runners!

Coming up towards the finish line!
Coming up towards the finish line!

As I’ve been whining about (for an eternity now), I’ve gained ten pounds in the last two years or so and it’s not really going anywhere. Last year really SUCKED for races for me – I barely stayed under 27 minutes in the 2016 version of this race, and then the rest of the year was spent languishing around 27:30 race after 5k race (which I was personally pretty really ashamed about). So towards the end of last year, I started to make significant strides and changes to my workout program – I was lifting weights on the regular and I was determined to actually train properly for a 5K.  I had set out a plan to do long runs, mixed with tempo and sprint runs and, for the most part, I had stuck to it. That being said, I hadn’t done everything I thought I possibly could do before this race, so I was nervous right up until the night before the race.

Near the end! Rogers Centre (/the Skydome) behind me!
Near the end! Rogers Centre (/the Skydome) behind me!

And then, the night before the race, I suddenly looked at the predicted temperature in the morning and my nervousness evaporated: the morning temperature was expected to be around -12C with a windchill of -20C. My inner monologue was basically “fuck it, it’s too cold. Don’t expect anything out of this race.” Toronto’s winter this year has been warmer than normal and I haven’t had the opportunity to train my lungs for a cold weather run, never mind a race, in temperatures that were around -10. So I figured to hell with the nerves as there’d be no way in hell I’d be able to bust out a decent time.

I. Was. So. Very. VERY. WRONG!

The end is in sight!
The end is in sight!

The morning of the race was cool and brisk, but the wind speed was low. The temperature, while around -12C, didn’t have a windchill much colder than -15! David and I stayed inside the doors of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre until just before the race so that I could keep warm (lifesaver!). For once in my life, my stomach wasn’t churning before the race and I felt relatively at peace (although for about 30 seconds I thought I’d forgotten my earphones… that would’ve been game over for sure).

So when the air horn sounded, I started the race at a really comfortable pace. So comfortable in fact that I forgot to turn my Garmin on for a few seconds! Reality set in within the first twenty seconds and I was like… “well my lungs aren’t dying, I feel good… but there’s a lot of people in my way.” So I started to weave in and out of the pack to get around the slower runners until I caught up to the people that were moving more my own pace. And honestly? I felt GOOD. I felt in control on my body and I felt strong. I wasn’t gasping for air and I wasn’t super dehydrated (which is normally how I start races – with a dry ass mouth because I’m so nervous).

2017 Achilles St. Patrick's Day Race - Garmin Results
2017 Achilles St. Patrick’s Day Race – Garmin Results

Realistically, I didn’t know how fast I was moving because my Garmin really struggles to determine speed when there’s so many tall buildings around. If you look at the map above, you can see how erratic the trajectory line gets on what’s supposed to be the straight line down Wellington Street – so it really overestimates your speed since it thinks you’re doing hella crazy maneuvers. I had an idea that I was moving at a decent clip because I was mostly passing other people and not being passed all that often. Sadly, when we hit the 2.5k mark where the loopback occurs (at Yonge Street), the water I was looking forward to was nowhere to be found. Ughhhh! Next year I need to remember to bring my own water!

However, it was a good thing there was no ability to stop and drink because I kept pushing on… and nailed the finish line with a race time of 26:06! Four seconds faster than my previous personal best (PB) and an enormous 60-90 minutes faster than my average 5K race pace from 2016. I was ECSTATIC! I was so damn happy I almost started full on crying when I saw my chip time come up on Sportstats.ca – there were tears welling up in my eyes! All of the work I had put in, despite feeling like it hadn’t been enough, had DEFINITELY paid off and I couldn’t be any happier! This race only further convinced me that I do far better in subzero temperatures – I am definitely built  for – and thrive in – the cold!

Race Results

  • Finish Time: 26:06
  • Pace: 5:13 per kilometer
  • Overall placement: 323/1313
  • Age group placement (Female 30-39 years): 38/262
  • Gender placement (F): 108/742

By the way, if you’re ever interested in the other races I’ve run, you can always visit my Race Results page for a breakdown by year and by race. Enjoy!