September 2013 - Run for the Thrills


Trail Race Bliss

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A beautiful fall Saturday set the stage for a second successful trail race in the Aktiv Trail Running Series.  The series is put on by Trysport Niagara, a specialty triathlon store. The route is a lovely mixture of single track trail, winding up the escarpment and then wider gravel trail sections interspersed throughout allowing for speed pick ups.  This is trail running bliss!

I set out at a quick pace from the start line and found myself on the single track trail in third place behind Wolf and another male runner. Jumping over muddy sections and slippery logs, I maintained my footing and was able to close the gap between myself and the runner in front of me, while climbing the escarpment.  Once on the gravel trail I was able to pass the runner and found myself in second place with no sign of Wolf in front of me.  I ran strong, however, without runners to chase down, I didn’t pick up the pace as much as I had hoped to.  I was able to zip down Hydro hill at about 3:25 km pace, finishing strong.  My final time was 25:45.  A fine time, although 17 sec slower than my time for race #1.  I had of course hoped to beat the previous time.  I attribute the slower time to this being my third weekend in a row racing, as well as not having tapering at all for this race. Wolf was also too far ahead of me, so I had no one to chase down.

Trail running adds many new challenges that do not exist in road races.  Even on the same route, the course is always changing with the weather.  New slippery sections, puddles, mud, make running trail much more technical.  One must be able to respond quickly to the uneven terrain to maintain balance and footing.  Running gait changes frequently as a result of the trail.  I enjoy the challenge that this trail series provides and will continue to attack the escarpment hill with the hope of getting quicker!

aktiv Trail Race Series

aktiv Trail Race Series


Runner Profile: Annette Lyons

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Introducing Annette Lyons, newly married and brimming over with excitement and optimism for her new found passion, running!  Annette started running six months ago – braving the outdoors in the middle of February and falling in love with her new found sport.  The gym was a familiar place to Annette, who had been doing the cardio machines and various classes at the YMCA, BUT  it wasn’t until she started running that she could “see the weight flying off”.  After being pestered by a friend for a good month to run outside with her, Annette took the risk.  And it was worth it:  “I couldn’t believe that I ran what I ran on my first day outside running.”  Annette was smart about it, beginning slowly.  Her first run was 10 sets of running for 1 min and walking for 1 min.

Annette is truly a success story.  Today she runs 5km, three to four times per week, without walk breaks.  She has lost 25 – 30 lbs, gone from a size 9 to a size 5.  “People noticed for sure!  Those encouraging comments kept me going.”    When describing the changes running has brought to her life, weight loss is only one of many.  Annette states that she has improved energy.  Her moods are more balanced, she is calmer, better able to rationalize things, which helps her in her home and hectic work life.  She is able to keep stress at bay.  Confidence levels have gone way up.  As she lost weight, she had to buy a whole new wardrobe and she also improved her diet naturally.

There are challenges along the way:  Annette had sore knees, but with the input of physiotherapy, acupuncture, and an osteopath for alignment issues, she is conquering this challenge.  It took time to build up endurance, at times longer than she expected, but she kept going.  When asked what kept her going when she just didn’t feel like running, Annette says initially it was the desire to fit into her wedding dress, but then she states “I grew to love it so much that I just did it.  Even when my friend stopped running, my internal motivation kept me going.”  As long as she gets up out of bed, has the coffee on and takes three sips, she will be able to get out there to run, even at 5:30am.  It’s worth it for “how amazing I feel when I get to work at 8:30am and I’ve already done my workout.”

There are future goals to keep Annette going.  First of all, she simply “wants to keep running” (even now that the wedding dress motivation is gone!)  She wants to increase her running distance and sign up for a race.  Running has made her want to start exploring other outdoor activities, such as biking and even surfing!  Annette will have lots of opportunities to explore the great outdoors, as she starts a new adventure moving to Vancouver Island, BC in three weeks!


Yoga for Runners

Posted by | Balanced Runner | No Comments

Yoga is an excellent complement to running:  it stretches out and lengthens muscles, counteracting the tightening effects of the repetative movements of running.  Yoga also works on core strength, the foundation for a solid form when running, and essential in combating injury.  Often runners neglect stretching, as it is boring and one has little time for it.  Scheduling at least one yoga session per week will provide an immense payoff.  It works the whole body – reducing risk of injury and maintaining health.

Today was a day for me to rejuvenate and benefit from yoga.  I stretched out my tired, aching muscles.  An interval workout from earlier in the week had left my calves and hamstrings tight and sore.  A quality Yoga DVD for flexibility with Rodney Yee did wonders for me this morning.  I can now walk down the stairs without clutching to the banister for support!

Tomorrow I have a trail race, the second in a series of 6, in the AKTIV TRAIL RUNNING series, so I opted not to do a hard workout this morning.  Knowing when to rest is as important as knowing when to train hard.  Without time to rejuvenate, muscles that have been torn down in hard workouts are not allowed to heal, and that is when breakdown and injury results.

Training Buddies

Training Buddies

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I would not be the runner I am today without great training partners to keep me motivated, interested and out on the roads and trails at crazy hours like 5:30am this morning for example.  We are there to support each other, train together, laugh together.  I have to introduce my awesome training friends –

Dashing Dave – He is a strong runner, always beating me up the hills.  Dave is a multiple time sub-three hour marathoner and has helped me train for the Boston Marathon, purely out of the kindness of his heart. Who knows what is next on his training plan – maybe a duathlon, maybe a sub-30min 8km race….

Nate the Great – she is awesome at swimming, cycling and running and is introducing me to the world of triathlons.  We had a great summer with some open water swimming in Lake Ontario.  A highlight was our 4km swim from Port Dalhousie to Municipal Beach, St. Catharines.

Great Scott – he is a world class runner, having gone to worlds as a masters runner and now this past summer made it on the worlds team for his age group in triathlon (and did I mention, he just started training for triathlons this past year).  Scott gives us all lots of training advice, as he is a kinesiologist and has lots of experience in track.

On our training run this morning I finally received my nick name:  Janine, the lean, mean running machine.


My New Treadmill

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The Race series win provided a sweet prize – some money that I put towards a new training tool!  I have been longing for a treadmill for years – and here it is.  My wonderful new training machine -Read my Livestrong Treadmill – LS8.OT Review–  for those track workouts that I cannot safely do at 5:30am outside anymore.  During the track workout I did last week, I was running blind on half of the track, as there were no lights on the back side of the track.  A little dangerous.

I also remember the day last winter when I fell at about 600m into my run on some black ice.  I hobbled home disoriented after walking to meet a training partner.  I ended up with a concussion and my training buddies all received multiple wounds on that run, not heeding my warning to turn back home after my initial fall.

What has surprised me is how much the rest of my family is using the treadmill!  My 8 year old son ran for 40 min straight after we had set it up!  My daughter has agreed to run twice a week to increase her fitness for her dance – her real passion.  She is choosing the treadmill over outside running (the television may have something to do with this decision).


Race up Hill

Muddy, Gutsy Trail Run to Win the Series

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A fantastic day: the rain was relentless, the mud puddles large and the race route had a mud slide of a hill to summit at km 4.   A rope was necessary to scale the escarpment hill.  These obstacles did not slow the athletes as they ran the 5km course through Fireman’s Park and the Bruce trail, in Niagara Falls.  This was the final race of a series of six, organized by the St. Catharine’s Road Runners.

It was a great ending to the series, for the women especially.  Unlike the men’s races,which had been consistently led by Kevin Moore, the women’s races had been a constant, fun battle between Amanda McLeod and myself.  We pushed each other in the races and we entered this race, completely tied for points.  The winner of this race was taking the whole series.  Amanda set out at a solid pace and led for a km and a half, at which point I passed her and worked on increasing the lead over the next few kms.  Trail races have been surprisingly good for me and I think I had the advantage due to confidence on trail.