2015 Medal Collection

That’s a wrap 2015! đŸ‘ŠđŸ’„ I finished 2015 with a total of 25 races [12 road, 3 trail, 10 obstacle course races], some multiple lap races and 1 CN Tower Stair Climb.

Looking back, 2015 was a memorable year. I became a ‘Marathoner’ in one of my favourite cities and I had a wonderful, amazing time on my RACEcation in Europe. I planned my Europe trip around my Paris Marathon and was able to run two Spartan Races in two different countries. The stars aligned for me during my trip. I could not have asked for a better vacation and RACEcation.

Some notable accomplishments:

  • I completed my first marathon [Paris Marathon]
  • I completed my first trail race [Sulphur Springs 25k]
  • I completed my first winter obstacle race [Polar Rush 5k]
  • I ran both races of the Harry Rosen Spring Run-Off 8k and 5k
  • I completed two laps of the Spartan Super in Toronto [I did multiple laps of short distances and sprint but it was my first double long distance lap 12k x2]
  • First RACEcation in Europe [Paris – Paris Marathon, Munich – Spartan Sprint, Rome – Spartan Super]

Hopefully, through my active lifestyle, I have inspired at least one person to start running or to start living a healthy and active lifestyle. My medals are not for bragging rights, but to show that IT IS POSSIBLE. Thank you all for sharing in my journey to live the best version of myself. I look forward to new races and new adventures in 2016! 🙂

2015 – Thank you for the wonderful memories! ❀ L.N


See my Race Calendar for a list of my 2015 races and results.

2015 Total Kilometers & #2015bestnine

My total kilometers for 2015 was 1,053!

I didn’t run as many kilometers as in 2014, but it’s still pretty good considering I didn’t run much at all from July to December. I had a hamstring injury which prevented me from running my last Spartan Race of 2016 at the Spartan Ultra Beast in Ottawa. I wasn’t too upset; I was probably not meant to run the race anyway. Hearing from some friends after the race; it sounded pretty tough and I’m kinda glad I didn’t run it as I was not ready for it.

I am not going to be setting a distance goal for 2016. I find that whenever I set a distance goal, I never meet it. I would get injured during my training and have to sit out a few months. Injury is a big sign of over training so I definitely do not want to over train anymore. I would rather just run for the love of running and to support and motivate others.

Here’s a look back on my 2015 with the Instagram #2015bestnine🌟. I did not create this nor do I know where people are getting it from but I have been seeing it everywhere on Instagram. Luckily, I have an awesome sister who sent me my bestnine collage and all I have to do is post it! Isn’t she the best!?! ❀

Looking back, 2015 was a memorable year. I became a ‘Marathoner’ in one of my favourite cities and I had a wonderful, amazing time on my RACEcation in Europe. I planned my Europe trip around my Paris Marathon and was able to get in two races in two different countries. I completed a marathon and I ran in two Spartan Races. The stars aligned for me during my trip. I could not have asked for a better vacation and RACEcation.

2015 – It was a slice. You will always be remembered. ❀ L.N

 

Mississauga Half Marathon

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I love challenging and continuously pushing myself. Before 2014 came around, I knew I already had quite ambitious goals to attain. My first fitness goal was to run two back to back half marathons. With only one half marathon under my belt, I knew this goal would not come easy.

I registered for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. and the Mississauga Half Marathon. These two races were exactly seven days and two countries apart. A few people questioned what my strategy was and what race I was going to run faster in. My strategy was easy and simple. Enjoy the slow, scenic run in D.C. and a slow, steady run in Mississauga. I just wanted to be able to finish them both and not try to PR either.

Race Registration:

I registered for the Mississauga Half Marathon back in December and the cost was $80 CAD. I like to plan my full race calendar for the following year in December because not only are the prices significantly cheaper, but it holds me accountable and forces me to train for the races.

The same weekend as the Mississauga Marathon is the Toronto Marathon. Although I live in Toronto, I chose Mississauga because I have heard more positive feedback regarding the Mississauga race than the Toronto race. Most races tend to improve from the constructive criticism provided, but I did not want to take chances and decided to sign up for the Mississauga race.

Race Expo:

I did not attend the race expo, as my friend had picked up my kit for me. Our training group was originally scheduled to head to Mississauga to do a shake out run and then pick up our race kits. However, that did not happen as a friend told us that there was no point driving all the way there. The parking took forever and the expo was small with minimal vendors.

Race Kit:

The kit was a drawstring bag and included a chip timed race bib and a technical T-Shirt. It also came with other goodies including two race magazines, some race flyers, a bag of kettle chips, a small bottle of chocolate milk, a creme filled Easter egg, two packs of Starbucks coffee beans, some samples of Cetaphil face wash and hand cream, sample size bottle of Cold FX, and a few other random goodies. I failed to take a picture of the kit and only remembered after I had used/dispersed the contents. 😩

Parking:

Parking was free and located at a Community Centre. There were free shuttle buses that would take us to the starting line of the race and back to the Community Centre from the finish line.

Pre-Race:

It was actually quite cold on race day. Not expected for a race at the beginning of May. We waited inside the Community Centre for the shuttle buses and once the shuttle buses dropped us off, my friends and I headed to the nearby Running Room to stay warm. It was packed inside the store. There was hardly any room to move as everyone wanted to seek some warm shelter before the race.

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Race Course:

The course was nice and fairly flat with a few minor hills. We ran through the streets of Mississauga and along Mississauga Road to the Lakeshore. If you’ve ever heard of Mississauga Road, you would know that this is THE posh area of Mississauga. I enjoyed running through there and just admiring all the huge mansions along the way and hoping that one day I could live in a mansion of that capacity. We ran to the Lakeshore and through the waterfront and park. It got much colder as we got to the waterfront but it was still a nice breeze.

Water/Aid Stations:

What I really liked about this race was that there was a water station every 2 kms. It actually almost got overwhelming because there were so many of them. I skipped the first two and started to stop by every water station after that. I had learned my lesson from my first half marathon experience, and did not want to run out of my own fuel at the end. I also wanted to test if I could run a half marathon distance without a water belt and just using the water stations. I’ve seen lots of people without belts and always wondered how they were able to do so. I tend to sweat a lot and get thirsty so I like to keep hydrated to make sure I don’t cramp up too.

Volunteers:

There were a few volunteers throughout the course. Not an overwhelming abundance of them, but just enough at each water stations and at the finish line.

Spectators:

The only negative to this race was that there were hardly any spectators along the route. Other than the runners and the cars going by, the streets were pretty quiet. There were some along Mississauga Road; but for a residential area, the residents were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they were still sleeping or it was too cold to stand outside and cheer on random strangers.

Post-Race:

The finish line was small but it was nice along the waterfront. It got so cold that they were giving out heated sheets to all the runners. There were some bananas and yummy bagels to choose from. There was a booth that you could win little prizes for answering some facts about chocolate milk. I chose a skipping rope. There were not many vendors there and because it was so cold and windy, most people left right after the race. I didn’t stay around for too long either. My friends and I headed back to the shuttle bus to get a ride back to our cars. What a different experience this race was compared to a week earlier when I was in Washington D.C. The weather, the people and the atmosphere was definitely more lively in D.C.

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Would I Run It Again:

If I had some friends interested in running this race, then I would run it again. I would not want to run it by myself as it got pretty boring along the route with hardly many spectators. If I run this again, it would be the half or even the full since the course was fairly flat. When comparing this race to the Toronto Marathon, which I had a few friends running in, this race was more organized overall. They didn’t get any heat sheets in Toronto! They didn’t get a packed race kit bag, had to find their own parking at the start or finish (no free shuttle), and it was overly crowded. I enjoyed my time at the Mississauga Half Marthon. Overall, it was a well executed event. Perhaps if the weather was warmer, the post race party site would have been great as well; but sometimes you have to expect the unexpected from Mother Nature.

So I completed two back to back half marathons!! Yay! 🙂 The feeling having crossed the finish line of my second half was indescribable. I felt proud of my achievements. The finshing times for both races were not a PB for me, but it didn’t matter. My only goal was to be able to finish both of them and that I did. I was hungry, tired, overwhelmed and proud. I went for a big brunch after the race and came home to nap. I ‘napped’  until dinner time. Lol. I deserved it. 🙂

One fitness goal checked off and many more to go. I may not know what they all are yet; but I know that I will continually set goals for myself. Each goal will be bigger than the previous, until I can become the best that I can be. ❀ Xo

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That’s me holding wearing and holding my Mississauga Half Marathon finisher’s medal in my right hand and my Nike Women’s Half Marathon Tiffany finisher’s necklace in my left hand.

Nike Women’s Half Marathon – Washington D.C.

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In November 2013, I entered the lottery to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with some of my friends. I was ecstatic when we were selected in December to run the race. It would be my second half marathon and my first big race outside of Canada. This was also a week after my big milestone birthday; so what better way to celebrate, than running a half marathon and getting a Tiffany necklace at the end! This was my main reason to register. A finisher medal in the form of a Tiffany necklace. What girl does not like Tiffany!? 🙂

Race Registration:

In November, you had to enter into a lottery as either an individual, with a team (max 10/team) or as a college student. I started a team and sent the team link to my friends to join. Although the race name is Nike Women’s Half Marathon, guys could enter as well. I had two guys on my team who I ran the race with. A credit card was required during the registration process but would only be charged if you were one of the 15,000 runners selected. We received our acceptance email in early December. It was an awesome early Holiday gift!

The cost was $175 USD to enter. After conversion, it was almost $200 CAD. I guess that would be an accurate price for some Tiffany bling.

Race Expo:

The flight to D.C. was full of women who were participating in the Half Marathon. I didn’t realize there were some many from Toronto going to the race. I travelled with a friend and as soon as we landed and dropped our luggage off at the hotel, we made our way to the expo. At the ‘Expotique’, we picked up our bib and T-shirt. We met up with two of my friends and team members and took a group photo by the ‘We Run’ sign. The expo wasn’t the same as the expos we have in Toronto. For Toronto race expos, we have various vendors in which you can purchase running related items, sample some fuel or protein/energy bars or learn about other races being offered. In D.C, the expo had no vendors. It was in a tent. You can get your gait analyzed and check out the Nike shoes. There was a station where you can sample stuff like Luna bars and a Nuun station for electrolytes. You can wait in line to get your hair done by one of the hair stylists there. The only line I waited in was to get a custom cheer sign made. You select one of the templates/phrases and can customize the wording at top. After a quick walk around of the expo, we headed to the Nike Georgetown store. This was where you would be able to purchase exclusive Nike merchandise designed for the D.C. Half Marathon. The women’s had a selection of items to choose from while the men’s only had an exclusive T-shirt. On the way to the Nike store, we passed by the famous wall displaying all the participants name. I eventually found my name and took a picture beside it. It was cool that Nike Women’s Runs have this wall at all their races.

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Race Kit:

The kit included a chip timed bib, a technical T-shirt and a wrist band of your corral colour. They had women’s shirts or unisex shirts. No men’s specific.

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Parking:

Our hotel was about a 10 minute walk from the start/finish area. So it was a nice and short walk. Although, the morning walk was pretty cold.

Pre-Race:

This was my first big American race, and boy was it big. The corrals were very spaced out with the break being a whole intersection wide. I wasn’t used to seeing such a huge gap between corrals, but it was nice because you had more room to walk. Upon entering, there was someone there to check your wristbands and make sure you were wearing one and were in the correct corral. The corrals were very spaced out and I did not feel cramped like most races here in Toronto. Washington streets are also very wide. For the pre-race, there was a DJ and speakers along the sides so you could hear the music all the way in the last corral. I actually heard the music before I even got to the start area. I really enjoyed the pre-race because not only was the music so loud at 6am in the morning, but it got you pumped up for the race. Most races here, I can barely hear the announcer if I am in the later corrals. There were some Nike Training Club members leading stretches and you could hear them over the speakers. This is one of my favourite pre-race so far.

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Race Course:

The 13.1 mile race course ran along most of the Washington monuments. From The White House, to the Monument and various Memorials, to the University and along the waterfront. It was such a scenic and beautiful course. My friends and I decided to run the race slow and enjoy the views. There were many school bands and cheerleaders along the course as well. There was even an announcer and a photographer at the ‘finish line’ arc around the 10th mile or so announcing your name and taking your picture as you ran through. I thought this was really neat because I’ve only heard them announce names at the finish line, not during a race. It was fun and gives you that little push of motivation. What was different and fun about this race was that they actually had DJ stations – there was a pole that said DJ and all! With the bands and DJ’s along the route, it was basically a big party that stretched 13.1 miles.

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Water/Aid Stations:

What I really loved about this race was that there was a water station and porta-potty every 2 miles. Since I knew I was going to be running slow and taking advantage of all the water stations, I did not even run with my water belt. This was my first long run ever without a water belt. It honestly felt great and light. Maybe it even made me run faster..? 🙂 We stopped at all the water stations. There was also an orange station with buckets of sliced oranges, and my favourite – towards the end of the race (maybe 12th or 13th mile), there was a chocolate truffle station!! OMG! #mindblown. The chocolates were similar to the Lindors chocolates but these were from Whole Foods. It tasted so good and provided a nice final push. After the chocolate station, there were a few employees with handfuls of chocolates so I grabbed another one. Who can resist chocolate?! Especially at a race where you need some energy in your system. They should have a chocolate station at every race!

Volunteers:

There were plenty of volunteers at the race start/finish area and along the course. It was a well organized event. There were volunteers at the water stations and along the course handing out chocolate truffles and Oreos. Although, I’m not sure if they were volunteers or spectators.

Spectators:

There were lots of spectators throughout the entire course. I don’t think there was any point that I did not hear cheers or people screaming in the crowds. Even along the waterfront, there were spectators. One thing that was common and different than a race I’ve participated in locally, was that spectators were holding blown up faces of their family/friends who were running the race. I thought it was strange to see an oversized picture of someone’s head shot in the crowd. Then I noticed a lot more faces and figured it must be an American thing. 🙂

Team in Training had a big presence at the race as well. What I noticed was that the coaches would all run back to run with their runners. I passed a few of them running towards me and motivating their team. It was a nice sight to see and not only did it motivate their team members, but it also gave us a push as motivation as well.

Post-Race:

Now this was my favourite part! The part I was looking forward to most – getting my Tiffany finisher’s necklace. Crossing the finish line of this race felt amazing. I felt like I was in a stadium and everyone watching and cheering me on. The roads are so wide in D.C. and they had two finishing arches side by side. Spectators were behind the fences on either side of the road but they were so far away. Comparing this race to one of our local big race – the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon – the atmosphere was the same, but you didn’t have spectators so close to you that you could touch them. At this race, you can hear them but because they were so far away, the cheers echoed through the streets and it really felt like entering a stadium. Once we crossed the finish line, there was a table with a Whole Foods paper bag that consisted of crackers and snacks; we were also given a reusable water bottle, exclusive for the event. I really liked the reusable water bottle idea because it saves them from using excess cups (I’m guilty of sometimes taking more than one cup of water at the finish line), but it was also a nice bottle that I can reuse and work out in and show off my accomplishment because it said Nike Women’s Half Marathon Washington D.C on it. We then had to get in a lineup to receive our Tiffany necklace. There were various lineups and men in suits and gloves handing you the little blue box. You could take a picture with them as well, which I did. Once passed this line, there were optional lines to get some more photos taken with more men in suits – some carrying a tray of little blue boxes. I didn’t wait in this line because it was too long and I already had my photo op with them.

The post-race tent was also my favourite!! I had never seen such a tent that included many post race activities. Upon entering, volunteers handed out Neutrogena wipes (this was an amazing idea!). There were sections with mirrors where you can freshen up and check yourself out. There was another section that had yoga mats and foam rollers where you can do some foam rolling and stretching! There were trainers to assist you as well if needed. I thought this was wonderful because it’s definitely good to foam roll after a race and I didn’t have to wait to get back to my hotel to foam roll. I would probably forget to as well. There was a line for this, but it wasn’t long so I did some post race stretching and foam rolling. It felt so amazing! Another fave is that they had charging stations! Lots of charging docks for all types of phones. Such a neat idea because my phone had minimal battery life after the run due to my Nike Running app being on and all the picture/video taking during the run. I didn’t want to wait for the charging stations though so we left the tent after the stretching.

There was another lineup after the tent and this one was for the merchandise. I decided to wait in this lineup because I wanted to purchase the exclusive finisher’s merchandise. They also had the exclusive D.C. collection in case you didn’t purchase it from the Nike Georgetown store. Once I got to a cash register, they had no more finisher’s sweaters left so I settled on a finisher’s shirt. The prices were the same as what you would pay for a Nike technical shirt. There were no finishers merchandise for guys, just the one D.C. collection shirt.

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Would I Run It Again:

I would ABSOLUTELY run this race again! It’s one of my favourites so far. I had so much fun and the experience was phenomenal. Everything from start to finish was amazing and well executed. It definitely felt like a party than a race. I had such a great time with my friends during the race and touring Washington as well. There are so many sights and monuments to see that we didn’t even fit it all in. I need to go back to see everything I missed. Perhaps for the race again or even just to visit. All the staff, volunteers, spectators and the locals were very friendly and welcoming. The streets were very wide and surprisingly clean too; something I did not expect for a city. I would run this race again but also register for the Nike San Francisco race. I can only imagine how awesome that experience would be as well since Nike Women’s Runs events are so well executed and fun to participate in. It didn’t even feel like I ran a half marathon; and those are the best kind of races. No injuries, no pain, no soreness; just having fun and enjoying the experience.

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Where has Linda been?


busy_bee

Wow. I haven’t been updating my blog or my progress lately. Life has been so busy these past 2 months. Today was my ‘rest day’ after a fun and hectic Spartan Race weekend. I thought I would update my whereabouts on my blog and post my race recaps; and coincidentally, my friend J.C. also reminded me that I have not been blogging much as he has not seen any updates. [Yes, you got your shout out 😉 ]

April was the start of my 2014 race season and therefore there were many back to back races I was registered in. Aside from running, I was busy planning my BIG milestone birthday 🙂 and my RACEcation in Washington, D.C. for the Nike Women’s Half.

May consisted of another half marathon, more races and another RACEcation to start my obstacle race season. In addition to it all, I have a busy full time job and April 30 was our second quarter end – so there were several overtime hours in May. 😩

Now you can see, I’ve been a busy bee. 🙂

I don’t know how but I definitely give props to those frequent bloggers who blog every day and write their race reviews the day after. I applaud you! I will upload my pictures and write reviews of all the races I’ve done so far…slowly but surely. Better late than never right?

 

KeepBusy