Erie Marathon

We had an all-around fantastic trip to Erie, Pennsylvania over the weekend for the Erie Marathon. I was lucky to travel with a really fun group and the whole weekend went by entirely too quickly. Road trip silliness, group meals, grocery store shenanigans, hotel room parties and of course gathering with our mighty group at the start and finish lines added so many dimensions of fun to this marathon experience. I have never used an out-of-town marathon as a goal race and prefer to sleep in my own bed, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. We had such an awesome group of runners in which I was honoured to be included, and more importantly we had a top-notch support crew who devoted their entire weekend to looking after us. They drove us around, fed us candy (before, during AND after the race), retrieved disgustingly sweaty items that we tossed at them, provided fantastic cheer stations and even ran with us. Kelly, Katie, Matt and Luis were the real stars of the weekend!


I would easily recommend the Erie Marathon and would do it again in a heartbeat. Not everyone in our group had the same opinion, but I really enjoyed the two-loop, almost entirely flat course. You couldn’t beat the beautiful scenery running alongside Lake Erie the entire time. As my friend Greta likes to say, it felt like being on vacation!


It was a very quiet course for spectators except for a few spots, but this wasn’t an issue for us since we had our own personal crew cheering their heads off at 11k, 19k, 32k and 40k. It was a bit crazy getting into the park in the morning with 2000 runners bottle-necking down a narrow road into some small parking lots in the dark. The race organizers aren’t kidding when they suggest arriving no less than 1h15m before race time. Even with our crazy o’clock departure from the hotel, we only had time for one potty stop once we had arrived and parked – I think that’s a record low for me! Thankfully I was able to take care of business and then popped my 2 immodiums as usual to avoid any bathroom emergencies during the race!


I was thrilled to be running a second marathon this year after all of my setbacks in 2014 and 2015. Ultimately I was just hoping to run another strong race and improve on my time from Toronto in May (3:58), but after a very successful training cycle I decided that a 3:45 might be possible in good conditions. The weather wasn’t perfect but it certainly could have been worse given the heat and humidity in the days leading up to the race. It was about 19C and fairly humid in the morning and although the temperature only rose by a few degrees, it felt much warmer when the sun came out in the second half. We did have quite a bit of shade on the course and a nice, cooling breeze a lot of the time – all in all, could have been better but could have been much worse!

Enough preamble, on to the race! I stuck to my plan of starting slower and kept a ~5:30 pace for the first 5k. Greta and I ended up together and soon picked up Scott. I didn’t expect to run with anyone and usually like to run marathons solo, but it was nice to have some company and it helped me relax since it kind of felt like any old Sunday long run.

2.75mi split = 23:59


We gradually started picking up the pace, eventually settling into the 5:15-5:20 range for the long haul. I like to break marathons down into smaller, manageable chunks and it was easy to do so thanks to our perfectly spaced cheering sections and Katie jumping in with me/us from 11-19 and 32-40. In my mind it was Start-11k -> 11-19 with Katie -> to the half -> to 32K for cheer crew/pick up Katie -> to 37K (because it always seems like the last 5k will feel short til you actually get there) -> 40K cheer crew -> FINISH. Easy peasy, right? Ha!

10K split = 53:40


Hitting water tables every single mile also helped break down the distance. I had originally planned to walk through every 2nd or 3rd water stop but I never really felt like walking so I skipped walk breaks all-together. Slowing just enough to grab a cup and drink seemed to work well and helped me keep a good rhythm. I took my gus every 8K as usual and alternated water/gu brew at the water tables. We were chatting a little and enjoying the sights as the miles seemed to fly by. I felt great hitting the half.

Half split = 1:53:06


Finishing loop 1, we ran right past the finish line banner and had to veer right which could have been mentally tough, but we were in good spirits heading out. I (perhaps obnoxiously) called out, ‘That was fun, let’s do it again!’ We could see two of our friends, Martin and Fergie, up ahead for ages in their matching orange tops and eventually caught up to them shortly after the half. We hoped they would join our little posse but wished them well as we carried on. Greta and I ended up losing Scott around KM 26 or 27 and I hoped he would be able to hang in there! Meanwhile Greta and I continued running perfectly together. We seemed to be completely in sync as we took turns doing the pacing, talking and pointing out dogs along the way. At one point Greta asked me if I thought she might have been a dog in a previous life. Oh, the conversations during a long ass run!

20mi split = 2:53:37


Before we knew it, we were seeing our gang again at 32K and picking up Katie. I could feel myself slowing slightly and told her that I was fading. Katie said ‘That’s OK! That’s why I’m here!’ Greta gradually pulled away from us looking strong and I was so happy for her, well on track for a big PB and BQ! I was tiring and feeling very hot by this point. It took everything to keep following Katie but she kept me going, saying all the right things and telling me to get out of my head and just follow her. She reminded me that I had worked all summer for this. I had slowed to 5:40s through this section and knew my 3:45 stretch goal was out of reach, but that 3:50 was still possible if I could rally for a strong finish. Katie kept handing me Gatorade from her belt (so much better than the nasty gu brew on course) and getting me cups of water to dump on my head. I couldn’t have been more spoiled. Suddenly our friend Luis showed up and joined us for a little while which was a great distraction as well. Katie was telling him how awesome I was doing and I remember thinking in my head that she was lying. Lol

Finally I could see (and hear!) our amazing cheering crew just past 40K – I felt like a rock star and got the biggest burst of energy! They sent me on my way and I used all that energy to pick up the pace again, somehow busting out 5:24 and 5:10 for my last 2K.


Heading down the chute I could see the clock ticking up ahead with Greta finishing seconds ahead of me, and managed to squeak in just under 3:50.


203/1385 overall
46/92 F30-34


I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend or race. I’m so proud of my friends on some spectacular results and extremely grateful to our support crew who made all the difference for us. Even though I missed my “A+” goal, I’m thrilled with this result given the conditions, and a solid 9 minute improvement over my last marathon. #14 is in the books and I’m already looking ahead to the next one. It’s so good to be back!

A trip to the Erie Marathon wouldn’t be complete without some post-race pics and leg-soaking in beautiful Lake Erie. Until next time!

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Barrie Canada Day 10K

Another weekend, another race! I decided to join in the fun and enter the 10K at the Barrie Canada Day Race on… Canada Day!


A late start (9:30) meant we didn’t have to rush out of the house at the crack of dawn, and thankfully it wasn’t going to be another sweltering day. It actually started to rain lightly shortly after we took the photo below (yay fellow racing running friends!) and subsequently poured during our warm-up.


The 10K was made up of two out-and-back routes, sharing the first half with the 5K runners. We took off from the Spirit Catcher near Centennial Park and ran along the waterfront on a variety of surfaces from pavement to boardwalk and a couple of short detours on grass around construction. The course was a bit confusing at times and not very well marked or marshaled. I was able to follow the flow of traffic for the most part, but I did find out after that some runners detoured off the planned route. The good news is, my Garmin was agreeing exactly with the KM markers. Things that make me happy!🙂


The pace felt hard right off the bat, as it generally does, but more in control as the first few kilometres ticked by. I was so paranoid of having another crash and burn scenario, so I was constantly doing systems checks and analyzing how I felt. Legs were good, breathing was good, so I just had to keep my head in check!

I felt way more relaxed after making the first turn-around and heading back toward the start/finish area. I knew the guys would be there waiting and it was a huge boost to get some big cheers as I ran by (note 4:44 split below!).

4:57, 5:00, 4:59, 4:56, 4:44



The second half took us onto the crushed gravel North Shore Trail, which is one of my favourite places to run although I don’t get there enough. It was still raining off and on with some gusty winds at time, but the temperature felt great – especially after my last two sweat-fest races.

I felt very strong with a few KMs to go and knew I had my sub-50:00 in the bag and might even beat my Sporting Life 10K time from May (48:49). I had been leap-frogging with the young lad behind me in the photo above for most of the race, often lingering just behind him or feeling him just behind my shoulder. He finally blew by me at the second turn-around and I wasn’t able to catch up again, but keeping him in my sights ahead helped me hold on for the final stretch. I also knew I was chasing the 3rd place female but she had too much of a lead.

There were a few quick turns and a slippery bridge to cross to the finish line. I felt like I was flying and had a quick final kilometre to squeak in under that SL10K time. Couldn’t have been happier with how this race went!

4:58, 4:57, 4:55, 4:55, 4:40

14/75 overall
4/34 females




MEC Barrie Half Marathon

On June 25th we headed to Oro-Medonte to race the MEC Barrie Half Marathon. I originally hoped to target a 1:45, but re-adjusted after seeing the (hot, hot, hot) forecast. I ended up going to the race with an “A” goal of 1:50, realizing it was probably a stretch. At the very least, I hoped to beat my Chilly Half time of 1:55:23.

It was already warm and sunny by the 8am start on the old rail trail. It was a flat out-and-back route (my favourite!) on a crushed gravel path with a few road crossings that were marshaled, though open to traffic.

There were only 65 people running the half (5K and 10K started later) and we spread out quickly, so it was pretty lonely on the course. Even so, I kept finding myself stuck behind a guy running with a stroller which was slightly annoying only because he was making it look too easy.

I knew I wanted to keep a very controlled effort from the start and just ride it out for a few kilometres to see how it felt. I seemed to be hitting paces on target for ~1:50 but it was taking a bit more effort than I would have liked. That being said, sometimes it takes a while longer to settle in, so I kept plugging along.

KM 1 – 5: 5:17, 5:19, 5:17, 5:15, 5:18

It was getting a lot warmer and harder to keep pace as I got closer to the turn-around. I started wondering if the trail might have had a slight uphill grade on the way out. I was looking out for Mark and Andy coming back in the opposite direction, hoping someone would give me a sign that it was going to be easier on the way back… they did not.

KM 6 – 10: 5:07, 5:24 (gel), 5:23, 5:23, 5:16

It felt good to be running back toward the finish after making the turn, even if it wasn’t getting any easier. It was quite hot by this point and my short 10-step walks through the water stations were getting a bit longer each time as I drank a cup and dumped another over my head. I was hot, tired, slowing and just trying to distract myself by smiling and waving at runners who were still heading for the turn-around.

KM 11 – 15: 5:30, 5:26, 5:33, 5:29 (gel), 5:46

With 5K to go, I joined the flow of 10K runners and tried to find people to chase after. I was still getting progressively slower, but at least it kept me moving forward. Finally there was a noticeable (though slight) downhill for the final 2K. I found some energy to pick it up, even passing a few people. It was a nice surprise to see Andy waiting for me in the final KM, and he jumped in with me to give me a final push toward the finish. With a few hundred metres to go, he pointed out a girl up ahead and told me to catch her. After an audible “do I have to?” moan, I tore off and passed her.

KM 16 – 21: 5:36, 5:48, 6:00, 5:55, 5:16, 4:46


31/65 overall
12/37 females


those handsome lads behind me ran 1:34 and 1:29 to finish 9th & 5th overall, super impressive in the heat! all in all, a super day at the races!

Race for Plunkett 10K

Last night I took part in a local event, the Race for Plunkett 10K. I was originally hoping to come close to my Sporting Life time even though this course is not as friendly, since I wouldn’t be racing on post-marathon legs. But then I saw the forecast. We were treated to the hottest evening we’ve had all year – 28C (“feels like” 31) at race time. I had an “A” goal of sub-50:00 in mind, but I could tell during our warm-up that it was going to be pretty brutal for racing. That said, we were there for a good cause with good friends so I was ready to make the most of it and put in a solid effort.


Luckily we cut our warm-up short because we made it back to the start line with just seconds to spare – for some reason they started the race 7 minutes early?!  Nancy, Greta Rhonda and I quickly hopped in line for the 10K, while friends Andy and Kirk hung back for the 5K which was starting (oddly) a couple minutes behind the 10K on the same course.

KM1 – 4:56

Okay, this doesn’t feel so bad. Sub-50 may not be completely out of reach. A few minor rollers here, slightly annoying when trying to run fast. There goes Andy flying past me, looking spry!

KM 2 – 5:03

I’m getting hot already. I hope they have a water station, I need to dump a cup on my head.

KM 3 – 5:14

Oh good, there’s a water table. Crap, both volunteers handed me gatorade… not going to dump that on my head. Took a warm, sticky sip before tossing it. Hit the first turn-around and on my way back to finish the first of two out-and-backs.

KM 4 – 5:13

Forget 50 minutes, this is impossible and I’m way too tired already. Just try not to tank. Trying to smile and wave at friends and other participants heading in the opposite direction.

KM 5 – 5:11

Those slightly annoying rollers are now extremely annoying. People are going to be watching at the half-way mark… try not to look as awful as I feel.


KM 6 – 5:18

Really REALLY wishing I had signed up for the 5K instead. I probably wouldn’t have run any faster, but it would have been over by now.

KM 7 – 5:34

OMG I’m dying this sucks why why why. Greta catches and passes me looking strong. Maybe I will try to keep up. Nope, not happening. Finally made the final turn around and chug back toward the finish.

KM 8 – 5:43

F*ck it, I’m walking. 10 steps.

KM 9 – 5:33

It’s going to be over soon. Feeling really grateful that the course was clearly going to be a bit short.

KM 10 – 5:22 pace (700m) 

Why are these these rollers so much bigger this time?? Found a teeny bit of pep for the final stretch and finally heard everyone cheering. Got some awesome support from hubs, my sisters and good friends at the finish line as I tried not to puke or die.


And, done. Phew!

16/63 overall
7/30 females

So, how was your race?

So, how was your race?


Sporting Life 10K

On Sunday I ran my 7th Sporting Life 10K, after missing the last two years due to injuries. I was thrilled to get back to the start line of one of my favourite races, and one that is near to my heart. This year was particularly special because Nolan was running the entire 10K for the very first time, after crossing the finish line with his mom every year since his diagnosis 7 years ago. This kid and his family, who I am lucky to call my friends, are the definition of strength.

one of my favourite race pictures of all time - finishing the 10K with Nolan and his mom in 2012

one of my favourite race pictures/moments of all time – finishing the 10K with Nolan and his mom in 2012

I wasn’t expecting much out of my legs one week post-marathon and originally expected to finish somewhere around 55 minutes. After feeling pretty good in the days leading up to the race, I got pumped up while driving to the start with a couple of speedy friends and started to think I might be able to go for something closer to 50 minutes. The near-perfect running conditions would certainly help!

We did a short warm-up and I needed a quick last minute (literally) potty stop, which had me running to the start line with just seconds to spare. I was able to squeeze in near the front with Matt and Andy and knew I would need to be careful not to get swept up with the masses at the front of the pack.


The legs felt nice and bouncy and I could tell it was going to be a great race. My splits were coming in a lot faster than I anticipated but my breathing was in control and it felt completely manageable, so I decided to let ‘er rip. Having the entire width of Yonge Street to ourselves and tearing downhill through midtown Toronto early on a Sunday morning will never get old. I was quickly reminded why this race is a favourite for its course as well as its cause.

4:53, 4:57, 4:55, 4:53, 4:51

The course flattens out and we also hit a bit of a wind tunnel heading west on Richmond after the turn at 7K. It was time to dig a little deeper to hold the pace, and I surprised myself by picking it up. Every turn was familiar and before long I could see the bridge crossing into Fort York for the finish. Glancing at my watch, I realized that I had a shot at sub-49:00 and kicked it up another notch.

4:51, 4:57, 4:50, 4:50, 4:36

2313/18688 overall
595/10896 females
111/1765 F30-34



Another great day at the races!