Running Updates


Kind of a quick post before I head to a yoga class with my favourite teacher in Vancouver!  I feel super lucky to be in Vancouver with the beautiful and mild weather and gorgeous trails. Nothing beats running on a path between trees!

This week was week 8 in training for the Around the Bay 30km race at the end of March. Long run this week was 24km, I had to rearrange a few of my runs to fit my work schedule so ended up doing my long run today (Monday). I’ve been having a problem lately with wanting to do all of my runs fast, and I definitely didn’t want to do my first long run since the half marathon last week fast and get injured. So the plan was yesterday I would do my 10km run in the afternoon/early evening instead of in the morning as usual.


That 10km went well and this morning I woke up still a little sore from yesterday’s effort which was good because there was no way I was pushing it for my 24km today.  Somehow still managed a 6:35 min/km average pace for the 24km run today which is crazy for me because last year at this time I was averaging a 7:00-7:30 min/km pace (let’s just say I took a lot of walk breaks as well). Man though this run was pretty hard, I ended with salt flecks dried all on my face and a permanent grimace through the last 5km.. but I didn’t give up!


In case you didn’t already know, I’m pretty awesome and my friends think so too especially when they receive pictures like these on Snapchat.


I’m actually on my second container already of that massive tub of yoghurt, such a great find and buy!

Not so much of a great purchase was this massive bag of popcorn from Kernels. The flavour I got is called West Coast Wave and omg it’s a combination of white cheddar cheese popcorn mixed with double hit caramel popcorn and I know that combination sounds weird and maybe even gross but when you try it AHH I couldn’t stop eating it. It’s embarrassing how quickly I finished this bag.


Exciting news! I’ve officially chosen and registered for my spring marathon: the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Registration was a little pricey compared to other marathons but I am hoping it will be well worth it and that there is still food left at the finish line by the time I am done running 42.2km.

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This quote was on their website, I couldn’t help but giggle.

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I can’t think of anything that would make me want to wish I was running more than 42.2 km. Even an extra 100m hurts.

Another exciting update! My sister and I have officially registered for the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon in August! It’s also in Vancouver, BC and I’m pumped. Registration sold out in an hour so I’m super happy we both managed to register. Her half marathon PR is 2:19 and the plan is to pace her to a 2:10 finish 🙂

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That’s all for now, I’ll be back in the next day or two with a recipe I’m stoked to share with you!


Chilly Chase Half Marathon 2014: Race Recap


Yesterday I ran the Try Events Vancouver Chilly Chase Half Marathon. I found out about this half marathon a couple of weeks ago, and signed up last minute knowing that it would fit in well with my Around the Bay 30km training schedule. I had do to a 22km run yesterday anyways so I thought racing a half marathon would be a good indication of where I was in my training and maybe give me the kick in the pants I needed to take my training more seriously.

The only official half marathon I had done was last April (the Limestone Half Marathon in Kingston, Ontario) and my finishing time then was 2:14:44.6 so I thought a PR would be reasonable, but worst case scenario, this half marathon would just be a way to get my long run in for the week.

The Chilly Chase event itself was fairly small with only 142 people running/completing the half marathon. There was also a 5k, 10k and 15k option as well. They were celebrating their 10th year as an event and their first year with the half marathon option so all runners received a toque and gloves set instead of a technical shirt.


Leading up to the race I wasn’t too concerned as I still had it in my mind that getting a sub-2:14 should be doable and again, worst case it would just be a long run for me. However the morning of the race I was so nervous I thought I would be puke. I woke up just before 7am, had 3 pieces of toast with cream cheese and then made my way to the race start which began at 9am. I want to mention just how much I loved this race, mostly because of how well organized it was. The race started just outside a community centre which was fantastic because it was a cool and extremely foggy 3 degrees Celsius outside so most of the runners were  able to stay warm inside (there were lots of runners doing warm-ups and strides outside as well). Another great thing about being in a community centre was no port-a-potties!! We had full access to all of their washrooms and although the lineups were pretty lengthy minutes before the race start, it was much more preferable than the port-a-potty system large scale races use. There was a bag check available but I brought my own lock and was able to to use one of the lockers on site.

I got there about a half hour before the race started and there were already a ton of runners hanging out, warming up, and chatting excitedly. This was my first race alone, with no friends or family (aka my biggest fan my MOM) so I felt even more nervous than usual. Soon enough it was time to head out for a pre-race warm-up. I had my timing chip attached to my shoelaces, my 7-oz hand-held water bottle with a chocolate energy gel attached to it, my iPod shuffle and my Garmin ready to go. I opted to wear my favourite Lululemon running jacket that my fantastic sister had gotten for me last year with a technical t-shirt underneath, my favourite running leggings and of course my trusty Saucony running shoes (the only pair I own :P)


There was a fun warm-up led by 2 girls and before I knew it all the half-marathon runners were being asked to head to the start corral. (Once the half-marathoners had left, the 15k would start, then the 10k then the 5k). There was a 10 second countdown where I’m pretty sure my heart was pounding so loud everyone could hear it, and then we were off!!!


My race game plan:  give’er

Just kidding. I had some sort of plan formulated in my mind, which was:

Plan A: Sub 2:10 finish (as in 2:09:59 would be completely acceptable)
Plan B: 2:10-2:12 finish
Plan C: 2:12-2:14:44.6 finish (clearly not getting a PR was not an option)

In order to achieve a 2:10 finish I needed to run about 6:10km/min or 9:55miles/min splits. I was playing around with the idea of running 6:05 splits for the first half and then if that got too uncomfortable slow slightly to 6:10 splits for the second half. I know many runners advocate running negative splits, so running the second half of the race faster than the first, but for this race I liked the idea of doing the hard work the first half and then just trying to maintain and not lose any of the work the second half.  So in short, I was aiming to keep 6:05-6:10 splits. I always have problems the first 5km with going out to fast but I was pretty determined to hang on to a consistent pace the entire race.

This was what happened.


200 m:  whoa girl, calm down. You still have 21 km to go.

1km: (5:46 split)  Okay well that 1st km was a little fast, it’s time to slow down a bit.

2km: (5:44 split) SLOW DOWN.

3km: (5:42 split) Dang it Lianna, why can’t you ever stick to the plan?!

The funny thing was, when I tried to slow down to even a 6:00 km/min pace it felt painfully slow and my body just wouldn’t do it. So I decided to keep with a 5:45 pace and see what happened.

4km in and I had run up next to a girl who was going about 5:35-5:45 pace as well and I decided to stick next to her and see what happened. We ran the next km in silence and then finally I turned to her and said “What finish time are you going for?” with what I hoped was a friendly smile on my face. Turns out this girl was super nice! She gave me a big grin and said “Right now I want to finish, either 2:10 or even 2:30 since I missed a lot of training the last few weeks from being sick.”  Awesome, I thought. “Let’s go for 2:10!!!” I told her and she agreed and we ran side by side off into the fog along the Vancouver seawall.

If you read my first half marathon race recap, you’ll know that I enjoy making friends while running a race. In fact, I highly recommend this strategy. You don’t have to talk to them much and I prefer not to know their names because that makes it too personal in case you have to ditch them (or they ditch you). The benefits of making a friend who is going at the same pace are HUGE because now you have another reason to not drop your pace, because you have to keep up with someone else and/or they are relying on you to not slow them down. Also it’s nice to have company because even if you aren’t talking you are still struggling together. And you are less likely to go off course and get lost!

So me and my new friend, I’m going to call her Tammy because she looked like a Tammy, kept up a 5:35-5:45 pace pretty well. In the back of my mind I knew this well was ahead of a 2:10 finish but I figured that it felt comfortable in the moment so I was going to stick with it. Around 7km I could hear Tammy’s breathing get a bit more laboured and around 8km she started to fall behind a bit but I kept looking back to make sure she was still sticking with me. I knew she was trying really hard which was great because none wants friends who give up easily right! Especially during a half marathon.

Around 10km we both got really excited because we knew the turnaround point was coming up (the race was an out and back course), and before we knew it we saw the halfway point up ahead with a water/gatorade station. We both slowed to a walk to sip our gatorade, and I got ready to keep going. I looked back though and my friend Tammy was still walking and I could see she wasn’t feeling so great. “Go ahead!” she said. “I’ll catch up with you!”   We both knew that if I kept going at a 5:35-5:45 pace she would not catch up to me. “No way!” I said. “I’ll wait for you.”  “No!” she said. “Keep going, I’ll catch up!”

Tammy lied to me. She never caught up to me like we both knew she wouldn’t and I never saw her again.

So onwards I surged, a lone wolf into the fog without a companion and pacer.

I managed a 5:37km split for 12km and 5:34 for 13km.  I think it was around 13km that the course went off of paved roads and onto a trail for a bit which was nice and made me glad that I had done a bit of training on trails so my legs were used to the uneven ground and mini obstacles. 13km was where I started to struggle and feel uncomfortable. I had brought an energy gel just in case and was glad I did. I managed to choke down half of it and kept going. 15km felt really uncomfortable but I was determined to hang on to a 5:45 pace. The last 6 km were a blur, a long and slow and painful blur. With 3km to go, my legs felt so heavy and my feet felt really weird, like they were filled with water almost and were so heavy to lift up. I’ve never felt that before. I’m also pretty sure I lost all proper running form in that last 3km. My face must have looked insanely desperate and my mascara was all smudged around my eyes (note to self: when it’s foggy out don’t wear mascara because fog droplets will collect on your eyelashes and it won’t be a pretty look when you accidentally wipe sweat out of your eyes).

The last km was the hardest km I feel like I have ever run. I kept pushing and I was literally wheezing air in and out of my lungs and before I knew it I saw the big blue finish line through the fog and it was kind of a surreal feeling, like a mirage that someone lost in the desert desperately looking for water sees. I squinted at the big clock to try and see what it read. 2:01?  No way. It must be 2:11.  Omg omg. It really is 2:01!!!!!!

And so finally finally I crossed that finish line with, with a chip time of 2:01:28:3. I was in such a state of shock as I turned my Garmin off and stumbled through the finish chute. There were volunteers greeting me with big smiles and congratulations, and then another volunteer cutting off the timing chip that I had strapped to my shoelaces and then another volunteer giving me a shiny Chilly Chase medal shaped like a snowflake almost.


I was in such a daze as I walked back to the community centre to see if there was any food left. I was worried that since the 5k, 10k and 15k all finished before I would, along with probably most of the half marathoners that there wouldn’t be any food left but I was pleasantly surprised that there was TONS of food left and a good selection also!


I picked up one of everything, a banana, mandarin orange, yogurt squeezie thing, banana chocolate chip bread (mmm!) and a cinnamon raisin bagel (there were also blueberry bagels!!). Also not pictured was a station that was pouring out sweetened soy milk that was just fantastic, I helped myself to about 6 cups of that stuff and the volunteer was just laughing at me.

Once I had time to sit down, I pulled up the half marathon run splits on my Garmin to make sure it really was real and that I didn’t dream I just ran a 2:01 half marathon.


Yep, it was real!  😀


I’m still on a runners high from yesterday. Overall a fantastic event, well organized with great volunteers cheering us on through the cold weather. The course was great, fairly flat with minimal hills and the post-race food was the best. This was the best way to start off my 2014 running season and I can’t wait to chase a sub-2:00 half marathon in the future!!

What I learned this week


What I learned while spending my day trying to register for the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon:

1. There are a lot of angry people in this world.

2. I used to be one of them.

The SeaWheeze half marathon is an exciting half marathon combined with a yoga/sunset festival that happens annually in Vancouver in late August. This year will be it’s third year and the hype is bigger and better than ever. I excitedly bookmarked my calendar back in September last year and counted down the days until today, January 23 when I could register for the run that would take place in August (eager I know!). There are just over 10,000 spots and registration opened at 10am my time so by 9:30am I was ready to go and waiting patiently. By 10:01 am the registration server had crashed from what I can only imagine were hundreds or thousands of people from all over the world trying to register for this one event. I know my sister in Toronto was trying to register at the same time as well, and soon enough on their official Facebook page, angry comments from people all over the world in many different time zones were pouring in, many repeating the same thoughts, voicing their frustration and in some cases just downright being mean.

If you have ever worked in a job where you have to provide excellent customer service (aka most jobs) then you know that some people can be nasty and rude and be upset about the smallest things and will take their anger out on you without thinking twice about the consequences of their actions. I’m ashamed to say that I have been one of these people. I didn’t lash out at others often for silly reasons, but when I would get angry over the smallest things I would always regret knowing that I made someone else feel horrible.

All of that brings me to this: why is it that people get angry when things don’t go their way and why do some feel it is okay to take their anger out on other people? Often our anger and frustration are related to selfish reasons (in this case, not being able to register ourselves immediately for an event). I’ve learned in the past couple of years to do my best to let go of the negative energy that results in negative feelings. While a few years ago I would have been just as frustrated and ticked off to have spent 3 hours trying to register for an event online, today I laced up my shoes and went for a run in gorgeous weather. Every inhale I felt blessed to be breathing clean, cool air. Every exhale I marvelled at how efficiently my body could transport and exchange oxygen with carbon dioxide (nerdy I know..). I felt the sun on my skin, the beads of sweat on my face and I just felt really lucky in that moment to be healthy, happy and alive.

I’m not saying that I’m always calm and happy and everyone should strive to be like me. I still get mad and frustrated at times but when I do I try to just think about the consequences of my actions and realize that upsetting someone else by voicing my anger won’t make me feel better. So for now I will look forward to tomorrow when I will hopefully be able to successfully register for SeaWheeze 2014!

Something else I learned this week?

I need to stay away from all-you-can-eat buffets.


Ugh I’m embarrassed at how much I binged on sushi and tempura on Monday. I was so full after that I had to sit there for a good 30 minutes before the pain in my fully distended abdomen subsided just enough for me to walk home. Never again.


Let’s end this post on a sweet note!  Life is like a box of macarons (courtesy of the awesome french patisserie I work at :D). You never know what you’re gonna get!

p.s. I even shared. The macarons, I mean 🙂


Sunrise runs

I’ve been seriously lacking the motivation to get out and run this past week. It has rained pretty much every hour of every single day this week. I may be exaggerating slightly but not a whole lot. To me, that’s the kind of weather that makes me want to snuggle up under the covers and finish watching every episode of Suits that’s available while eating chocolate slathered in peanut butter (I’m not proud of it..), instead of sucking it up and heading outside for a run.

I also only brought one pair of running shoes with me to Vancouver, so every time they get soaked I pretty much hope for the best that they dry in time for my next run. I love my running shoes, they have carried me through countless miles in all kinds of weather. It’s definitely time to get a new pair as I train for a new marathon, but I’m not quite ready to let these ones go. I also can’t quite afford a new pair just yet 😛

I would also like to add that it may look like I have cankles in the picture above because of my high socks but I totally don’t thank you very much!


Sometimes waking up crazy early to fit in a 10km before work has its perks! I was the only one in sight lucky enough to see this gorgeous sunrise a few days ago. As the sun rose the entire sky lit up and I felt like the colours that were spreading through the sky were also reaching out to me, pushing me forward to run faster and finish strong.

I am still loving my job as a pastry assistant! I really need to work on this self-control thing though. I got to take home a few croissants, fresh from the oven on my last shift. I took three and promptly ate them all in one sitting. I felt horrible about myself afterwards and hopefully won’t be doing that again, ever.


I hope you all had a fantastic week! I am working on adding a running page to this blog, but I’m still planning on sharing as many recipes with you as I can so expect one in a day or two 🙂


From 2013 to 2014, and my first long run of the year


Wow. Where to begin? I really just want to tell you about my awesome 20km run yesterday, but I think I should start my first blog post of 2014 with a quick 2013 recap and maybe some personal goals for 2014.

2013 was such an amazing year for me. I rang in the new year with two girl friends who I think the world of so I was already off to a fantastic start. I fell in love with yoga and running. I ran my first marathon ever. I ran my second marathon ever. I did a solo trip to Costa Rica which was life-changing. I graduated university. I learned how to do a headstand.

I learned that to love others you have to love yourself first. I went on my first blind date ever (and it wasn’t a complete disaster!). I got a job as a pastry assistant at a french patisserie and moved to Vancouver (wait, what?!). I realized how lucky I am to have things that make saying goodbye so hard.


Uh, yeah. So back to the part about moving to the other side of the country..a lot has happened since my last post and I feel like I am only just getting a chance to sit down, breathe, and share this new part of my life with you. About a month ago I packed up my things and headed out west to Vancouver where I was lucky enough to get a job as a pastry assistant at a french patisserie. I’ve only been working there for just under a month now, but I love it so so so much. Getting paid to bake and do what I love, seriously?! And as if things couldn’t get better, my boss who is the owner/head baker is so nice and ridiculously talented and creative. I am so inspired by the beautiful cakes, macarons, pastries, etc that she creates and feel so lucky that I have the opportunity to help create beautiful things. I also am loving being out west so far, I can’t get enough of the mountains!


I’ve never been into new years resolutions after being forced to come up with a list of ten every year in elementary school (mine were always the same: be nice to my sister, clean my room, stop global warming, etc.)  Instead, I like to set goals, so here are a few of mine for 2014:

– eat less chocolate (too late, I’ve already binged on an embarrassing amount and we’re only 6 days in the new year..)
– learn how to do a forearm stand and hand stand (and hold it)
– run a 4:30 marathon and a 4:20 marathon
– blog more!!!!!

These stunning and scenic images were all taken on my cell phone during my 20km run yesterday with a friend. We were planning on doing maybe 8-10km, whatever the distance was around Stanley Park on the gorgeous and famous seawall. The weather was perfect, sunny and clear skies, and we both felt pretty good so we decided to run to Granville Island to get lunch there. We ended up having to loop around the coast to get to Granville Island, so by the time we got there my Garmin read 19.6km.


I should probably tell you that I don’t normally run 20km just for fun, but I am training to run the Around the Bay 30km race in Hamilton this spring so it worked out with my training schedule 🙂 I also don’t normally run with friends, let alone GUY friends who are naturally faster than me, but my friend took it easy on me and let me run at my pace, most likely because otherwise I would have been wheezing the entire time and unable to carry a conversation which would have been pretty boring for him 😛

Naturally once we got to Granville Island we were starving, and we may or may not have inhaled 2 donuts each in record time…oops. I managed to snap a picture of my second donut, it was SO GOOD, the best chocolate donut I have ever had! Although to be fair, I think any donut after 20km would be the best donut ever.


Then we couldn’t help but split a poutine…oops again. I think I run just so I can eat things like chocolate donuts and poutine. Although now that I think about it, I should probably make “eating healthier” a new years goal for 2014.


If you’ve been reading The Little Spork since 2013 (or before!), thank you for staying with me through my sporadic blog posting schedule. I hope to share a ton of great recipes with you this year, along with my adventures in running and life. I have a recipe I’m excited to share with you tomorrow, so until then!


Ottawa Marathon 2013: Race Recap

ottawa marathon

My first marathon ever.

Many people take their time building up to a full marathon. They start with 5km, then 10km and work their way to a half marathon. Once they are comfortable with the half marathon, some will consider training for a full marathon, 26.2 miles or 42.2 km. Not me. I went straight from being able to do 5km comfortably to signing up for a full marathon. Possibly a little foolish on my part, but I was stubborn and determined and that was all the push I needed to sign up for the Ottawa Marathon in May 2013.

Signing up for a full marathon so soon was never a plan. I only started running in September 2012 and in January 2013 I signed up for the marathon, in May. I always had the goal of running a marathon in the back of my mind, but I thought it was something I wouldn’t accomplish for a few years at least. Then I made a new friend who told me that she was thinking of signing up for her first marathon and of course I couldn’t resist the challenge and the opportunity to share an experience with a friend so despite the fact that I had only just gotten comfortable with running 5-10km distances, I signed up. I knew that if I didn’t sign up, it could have been months, maybe years before I signed up for one all on my own.

I should also mention that my mom has been my biggest cheerleader and supporter from the beginning. When I told her I was thinking of signing up for the Ottawa marathon, she emailed me the next day with hotel reservations for the race weekend. Best mom ever!

I followed a Hal Higdon 16-week marathon training plan and I highly recommend his training programs if you are looking for a plan when training for a half or full marathon. I didn’t take my training schedule as seriously as I should have, which I learned the hard way the day of the marathon…let’s get into that!

I made a lot of mistakes training for this marathon. Maybe one day I will make a blog post of all the mistakes I made so that at least you can benefit from knowing what NOT to do! I didn’t do any of the scheduled long runs 3 weeks from the marathon, because I was really sick 2 weeks before and then the week before I went on a last-minute trip to Hawaii (can’t say I regret the Hawaii part too much!). So the week before in Hawaii I only did one 5km run.. clearly it hadn’t really hit me that I would soon be attempting to run 42.2km, although the week before is supposed to be a taper week anyways.

The day before the marathon, my amazing mom drove us up to Ottawa from Toronto, leaving the house at 3am. I seriously don’t know what I would have done without her. We left early to avoid traffic and to make it to the expo in time to catch a shuttle bus tour of the marathon course. I slept the whole ride up and by the time I woke up, it was time to hit the expo!  The expo was very well organized, picking up my race kit was a breeze and checking out the stands was fun. We didn’t stay for long though as my mom wanted to get tickets for the first bus tour of the course. I ended up falling asleep on the bus ride, but my mom enjoyed seeing where I would be running. The bus tour ended up being about 90 min long, perfect for a quick nap! 😛  The rest of the day was spent relaxing, carb-loading, and going to sleep early.

The marathon started at 7am and our hotel was a 10 minute walk from the start area, so I was up around 5:30am to get ready. Remember how I said I have the best mom ever? She woke up even earlier than me to go get me a bagel with cream cheese and milk from the Tim Hortons down the street for my usual pre-run breakfast, ready by the time I woke up. I love you momma! I ate quickly, got dressed and then as I was pinning my race bib onto my shirt, it hit me: I was going to run a marathon.

I wasn’t feeling too optimistic about the day seeing as how poorly my training had gone. I also didn’t own a Garmin or any sort of GPS watch, so my plan was to run at a comfortable pace for as long as I can and feel no shame in walking through the water stations. I was secretly hoping for a 4:30 finish but knew that 4:45 would be more realistic. As long as I managed to sub-5:00 I would be happy.

We stepped outside of our hotel and started the walk to the start area. All around us were runners headed towards to same place we were. My nerves were starting to get to me and my heart started to beat faster with every step. Then I looked ahead and spotted about 10 of the elite athletes, the Kenyans and Ethiopians leaving their hotel. They walked a few steps and then as a pack broke into a light jog away from us, towards the start. I say light jog, but let’s be real their light jog pace is pretty close to my full out sprint pace.  I was in awe. A friendly runner ahead of me with a marathon bib pinned on her shirt excitedly exclaimed to me that she had met one of the elite Kenyan athletes the day before and his marathon time last year was 2:09. All I could think was man, I can’t even run a half-marathon in that time!

We finally got to the marathon start and my mom wished me luck and left me to find a spot a few km in the course to cheer me on. I was left alone, with my nerves and jumbled thoughts and my music and I found my way over to my start corral. Before I knew it, the race had started and the elites were off! Then soon enough my start corral shuffled our way to the start line, and we were off!

Obviously beginner me got caught up in the excitement and ran much faster than I should have the first few km. 2km however I had a problem, I really had to pee. What the heck?! Despite the fact that I had gone right before the race had started, I really needed to go again. I skipped the first port-a-pottie at the 3km because the line-up was insane (guess I wasn’t the only one with nervous bladder problems) but at the 6km I hopped in line for the port-a-pottie. There were only 2 people ahead of me, but still a few valuable minutes were lost in that line (not that it was really a big deal seeing as I wasn’t attempting to PR or anything, I just wanted to finish!).

Just as I was heading out of the port-a-pottie, I saw the 4:30 pace bunny go by and felt determined to keep up with him for as long as I could. I managed to hang in for about 15 km, but I was still going faster than I should have been going. At the 21.1km mark there was a big sign that said “You are halfway home!” and I got a little excited inside. Then I heard a volunteer yell out “YOU ARE ALMOST THERE!” and the lady running in front of me stopped mid-stride, turned around and yelled back “YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO TELL A RUNNER THEY ARE ALMOST THERE UNTIL THEY HAVE 200M LEFT TO GO!”.  It was hilarious, but true. A few steps ahead I heard that lady mutter to her friend “She’s lucky I didn’t clock her in the face for saying that.”  I guess running a marathon really brings out some emotions!

By 22km I was starting to feel tired which was not a good feeling to have so early on. The course was pretty nice though and the spectators were great in certain parts. I enjoyed reading the signs to keep me entertained. The 4:45 pace bunny had already passed me at that point and I was really starting to slow down. At 23km the 5:00 pace bunny caught up to me so I forced myself not to fall behind him because I may have been tired but I sure as heck was not going to finish with a 5:00+ time.  The pace bunny was actually amazing and had a group of maybe 10 people sticking close to him when I joined in. He was saying the most encouraging things that kept me and I’m sure everyone else going. He was doing the 10:1 method, so run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute so although I had never trained that way I decided to try it out and it worked. We slowly made our way through to 25km, then to 30km.

The longest training run I was supposed to do according to my training plan was 32 km. The longest run I did was 30km and it was awful. So being at that 30km mark was a crazy feeling. I was tired, but determined to make it 12 more km.

At 31km, our little 5:00 pace bunny pack saw a runner vomiting on the side of the road and crying. Our pace bunny immediately stopped to console her and handed over his 5:00 sign to one of us and we kept going, one foot in front of the other. We were only 31km in and I was so tired. One step, then another, then another. (Our pace bunny caught back up to us a few minutes later once he was sure the lady runner was being taken care of).

At 32km, I told myself I only had 10km left to go, and I’ve done so many 10km runs before so this last 10km should be a breeze!

35km, and I was feeling pretty empty inside. Everything hurt, my legs were so heavy, my arms were so tired of swinging back and forth.

36km, and all I could think was why the heck did I ever think I could run a marathon? I can’t do this. But I’m still going to keep my feet moving. Just stay with the 5:00 pace bunny.

37km, and I’m choking back tears. This is hard. Really hard.

38km, and I can’t do it. I start to fall behind, or the pace bunny starts to pull ahead I don’t know, but I’m just so tired and everything hurts so bad.

38.5km and the pace bunny is up the hill and I’m still at the bottom of the hill.

39km and through the thick fog of pain I was in I see and hear the most glorious sight in the world: my mom, shouting as loud as she can “YOU CAN DO IT, KEEP GOING!!!”

I know my mom must have been pretty concerned at that point because she knew how badly I wanted to sub-5:00 and she had seen the 5:00 pace bunny pass without me in sight, until now. My mom could not have picked a better place in the race to have been at that point, because she was exactly where I needed her to be. Her words of encouragement sparked one last shred of determination that had been hidden deep within me under the pain and suffering of the past 4 hours, and I felt that flame burn bright in me as I dug deep for a strong finish. I slowly started to pick up my pace and soon enough the 5:00pace bunny was back in sight. I focused on his pink bunny ears and in my mind I’m picturing a bull charging towards a red sheet, but the real life version of me running to catch up to the pace bunny was more like a slow-motion bull but whatever. I caught up to the 5:00pace bunny and I didn’t stop, I kept going. The spectators were getting louder and louder and I knew the end was near. I saw the 40km marker and at that point it was a U shaped loop to the finish line, so I could see the runners on the other side of the canal heading to the finish line. I forced myself to keep going, and once I saw the 41km marker I started a very slow sprint (lol).  I had already lost my mind at that point and I must have had a crazed look in my eyes but I kept going, and I started passing a few people (what?!) and I thought surely I should see the finish line soon, and then I saw the 500m countdown sign and I’m thinking what the heck, I still have half a kilometre to go?! And then the 400m sign, and then the 300m sign, and then I turned the corner and the finish line was 200m away and people are on both sides cheering and ringing cowbells and I’m trying really hard not to cry because it’s hard to do a slow sprint when you’re crying and gasping for air, and then I passed the 100m sign and didn’t know if I would actually sub-5:00 but I didn’t care, I was so happy to be finished, and my legs felt like lead but as I passed that finish line I made one last attempt to smile and not look as desperate as I was feeling for the cameras.

I read once before that you find out what you’re made of when you run a marathon. In the 4 hours, 59 seconds and 4 milliseconds it took me to run 26.2 miles, I found out exactly what I’m made of. And it’s a piece of me that I’m going to hold on to forever.

Limestone Half Marathon: Race Recap

limestone half

Signing up for the half marathon of the KRRA Limestone Race Weekend in beautiful Kingston, Ontario was somewhat last minute. While training for my first full marathon I went in with the mindset that it was totally okay to train from a 5k to a full marathon in 16 weeks. I had never officially run a half marathon but somehow that hadn’t fazed me, I knew that I would be running upwards of 21.1km weekly during my training so a half almost seemed like nothing (in comparison of course). Then I found out I would be in Kingston, Ontario for 2 weeks as part of a clinical placement for school so I randomly did a quick check online to see if there were any races going on during that time and well would you look at that! A half marathon on my second weekend there!  The timing could not have worked better, I was supposed to do a 19.3km run that day anyways and I thought it would be a good idea to have some sort of an idea of what racing a distance longer than a 5k would feel like.

My mom wins the best mom ever award again, because she drove up to Kingston from Toronto (about a 3 hour drive) to cheer me on for what would be my first official half marathon!

Sunday, April 28, 2013 – the morning started off bright and early, a little cool as the sun wasn’t fully up yet. I had my usual pre-long run breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and milk, and got dressed. I hemmed and hawed over wearing a long sleeve shirt and shorts as I was feeling the cool breeze but my mom insisted that once the sun was up in full force I would be ridiculously hot and sweaty so I slipped into a t-shirt and shorts, pulled on sweatpants and a hoodie and headed towards the start line!

The race itself is a pretty small local event but there were already quite a few people gathered around the start line, warming up and chatting excitedly. I always feel nervous whenever I am around a big crowd of runners especially since I’m a newbie and these are probably experienced sub 1:45 half veterans who know all about compression gear, garmins and energy gels.  One day I’ll be just like them!

I think we got to the start line maybe 30 minutes before the gun went off, which gave me plenty of time for a quick pre-run bathroom break and before I knew it, I was handing my hoodie and sweatpants to my mom, picking up my timing chip which came in the form of an anklet that I’m pretty sure was pretty sweaty and gross by the time I was done with it, and heading to the start area.

limestone 1

Since it was a smaller race, there were no start corals, and the half marathons started with the 5k runners. The sun was up and I was already feeling happy about my decision to not wear a long-sleeve shirt. The half marathon course started with a 5km loop with the 5km racers that came back to the start line (finish line for 5k) and then continued in the opposite direction for a 16 km loop, back to the same start/finish line. I positioned myself near the back of the pack as I knew that most of the runners were only doing the 5k and would probably be a lot speedier than I was. The plan was to try and sub-2:15 but not over-exert myself since I was running a full marathon in a month and I didn’t need any injuries or time-off at this point.

The gun went off and holy crap, why am I running so fast? I clearly got a little caught up in the excitement of the 5km runners. limestone3

I didn’t have a garmin or other GPS watch, so I was basing my pace off the time I started subtracted from the time it currently was divided by the km marker I was sure of…a bit of math and definitely not as accurate as a GPS watch but at least it kept my mind occupied! I continued to run faster than I should have for the 5km loop and as we were nearing the 5km point which was the start/finish line, I noticed that all of the runners I was with started to part to the right towards the 5km finish line….while I stayed to the left, passed the 5km finish line, and suddenly felt all alone. Seriously, this sucks! I felt all of the excitement from the crowds that one normally feels when passing through a finish line of a race, except that I still had 16.1 km to go.

6km – this sucks.

6.1km – am I the only half-marathon runner? where is everyone else?!

6.2km – omg I must be last. 😦

6.4km – wait, someone just passed me!  okay now I’m officially last.

7km – okay, I’m tired and no one is around me. I think I’m going to walk for a bit.

7.4km – someone else just passed me! I guess I wasn’t last after all. Maybe I’m last now 😦

7.5km – okay, Lianna, pull yourself together. You have to pass that girl who just passed you so that you are second last, not last place.  (at this point I pulled it together and started running again)

8km – (passed the girl who passed me) haha sucker!

8.2km – wtf that girl just passed me

8.4km –  take that (as I pass that girl who passed me twice)

8.7km – wtf man. she passed me again

Passing someone when you are running takes a lot of energy folks. Eventually at around 9km I ran up beside her and stayed beside this girl and we ran in silence for about a km before we started talking. I found out her name and learned that she had run a 1:55 half marathon before but she hadn’t trained for this half at all and was hoping to sub-2:15. Perfect! We decided to stick it out together and man, what a great decision that was. I developed one of those awful side cramps around 12km and this girl talked me through it, told me to keep breathing like I’m sending oxygen to the cramped area (kind of works!) and kept encouraging me. In return I huffed and puffed and wheezed my thanks whenever possible. She told me there was a 2:15 pace bunny who hadn’t passed us yet, so our goal was to never let that pace bunny get close enough to pass us and we would be golden. She also advised me to keep the pace we were going at and then for the last 1km completely empty the tank, drain the battery, etc. and give it our all to the finish line. Seemed simply enough at the time! We neared the halfway point of that 16km loop which was more of an out-and-back portion of the race, and started heading back towards the finish line. 15km in and I was suffering. We had seen how far back the 2:15 pace bunny was thanks to the nature of the out-and-back course and knew we had maybe 2-3 minutes in the bank. Unfortunately I still had that awful side cramp and we were beginning an uphill, plus I was feeling tired from going out too hard in the beginning. The sun was really beating down on us and I wanted to stop so badly to walk. Thank goodness for my new friend who kept me going, because if she wasn’t there running with me and essentially pacing me, I would have stopped to walk multiple times.

18km and we hear the pounding of footsteps behind us. My new friend and I both glanced back and to our dismay, we see the pace bunny with about 6 runners sticking close not too far behind us, catching up. We were both pretty tired and wanted the race to end. Slowly the pace bunny caught up to us and his group of 2:15 runners swallowed us and we both dug deep to stay with the group. 19km in and my side cramp went away, thank goodness. I was feeling a lot better but I could tell my new friend was struggling. “Keep it going! We can’t give up now!!”  That was my attempt at giving her some of the encouragement she gave me for the majority of the race. 19.8km in and my friend was really struggling. “Pull it together!! It’s almost time to empty our tanks and drain our batteries!!!” That’s what I managed to yell at her before I started to slowly increase my pace. It was slightly agonizing and the concentrated look on my face must have been hilarious, but I pulled ahead of the pace bunny and continued onwards. I started passing people and before I knew it, I saw my mom ahead waiting by the 21km marker. 100 metres to go!


I felt really bad about leaving my new friend behind, I was hoping she would stick with me as I increased my pace but when I  glanced back quickly she was nowhere to be seen. Seeing my mom always gives me an extra boost so I powered through to the finish line for the second time, except this time I was actually finished!  I finished in 2:14:44.6, and was very happy with with my sub-2:15 time 🙂

limestone half finish

The race was pretty well organized, immediately at the finish line a volunteer (wearing gloves haha) pulled off my anklet timing device (I was too exhausted to do it myself and I was pretty sure that if I leaned over to take it off I would fall flat on my face). Then right away I was able to help myself to greek yogurt, water, and chilli! I’ve never been a fan of chilli but I got a bowl anyways for my mom and in exchange she had my favourite post-race chocolate milk ready for me.  Overall a well organized race and great memories to make up my first half marathon experience!


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