Sunday, 27 November 2016

The 2016 GGR Christmas Wish List!

It seems fitting that with the first snow here in Nova Scotia, I'd compile my favourite running things of 2016 for the Christmas Holiday Wish List! Oddly enough I'd see/use something in let's say, June, and think "I have to add this to my wish list!" So let's get shopping shall we?!

One of the first things I did this year was purchase one of these awesome wrap bracelets! You can customize them and choose what colour you'd like for the wrap. I now own two and I love wearing them to races. :D

Dear Santa,
all I want for Christmas is this shirt!!!! 

I gave Matthew several hints and I eat tacos on the regular, so I think this shirt is quite fitting! You can get so many awesome running sayings on tees, tanks, hoodies, etc. Check it out!

If you live in a climate such as that of Eastern Canada in the cold winter months, these babies sure come in handy! Just slip them into your mittens and run your many miles with toasty paws. :) If there's one thing I despise during the winter runs it's cold hands!

I have become obsessed with the Aroma Therapy line from Bath and Body Works! My post-run shower always smells so refreshing with these. I'm also quite keen on their hand lotions, and I may own

I said it before and I'll say it again, you MUST buy this bra from Lululemon! I wore it at the Chicago Marathon and it was the jam for stuffing my gels in!

Last year when we had our Running Buds Christmas Get Together Secret Santa ( Courteney gave me one of these awesome heel lights! It glows up super bright which is fantastic since most of my running from Nov - March is in the dark. They are super inexpensive (this one was $6.99)!

Your runner friend definitely needs to stay hydrated, and if your friend is anything like me a gentle reminder to drink up won't hurt! I seriously love these steel bottles!!!!!!!!

You can get them at Winners and they are less than $20! It also keeps water chilled all day long. I haven't tested it with hot beverages but apparently it keeps things warm for equally as long!!! Get one!

Okay, every runner I know loves to obsess over their race photos...come on, you know you do! ;)  I was over the moon in love with my Chicago photos and my sister printed one for me as a birthday gift! <3 LOVE it! Around here Marathon Photos usually snaps shots at the big races but the marathons I run in the U.S. are photographed by Marathon Foto. Just search the race and your runner and you're good to go!

If your running pal enjoys racing and displaying bling as much as I do, then you definitely NEED to get one of these super awesome medal holders designed! Robyn, at Deja Vu Decor will put any phrase you want on it in any colour! I LOVE mine!

I guess I saved the coolest one for last!!! (Okay, so it's not necessarily the coolest, but it is pretty darn cool and I'd LOVE one of these!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Run Ink designs these totally awesome race maps with your name, bib number, date and finishing time. How amazing are these?!??!
I borrowed this one from the site, lol.

I feel like every year my wish list gets longer and I hope this helps with your holiday shopping! 

You can also get many many ideas from my previous lists herehere AND here!

Thanks for stopping by the GGR blog and have a merry day!
What's on your 2016 holiday wish list???

Happy Running & Shopping,
Heather :)

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Let's Talk Recovery...

Hey guys,

It's been one month since I crossed under the red arches of Chicago logging my fastest most amazing 26.2 run. I still gleam with joy whenever anyone asks me, "How was Chicago?!" (You know, any excuse to relive your marathon is an invitation to gush tons of exciting vivid detail which may or may not include bodily fluids...and you enjoy every minute of it).

As you can imagine, running your fastest 26.2 takes quite the toll on your body. Or at least it did on mine! I knew the marathon would beat me up. They always do but this one I ran on antibiotics for my sinus infection, so I knew self care would be a priority. Before we flew out I had already pre-booked a post-race leg massage and physiotherapy appointment to assess the damage.

Unfortunately upon return Lola had managed to scratch her cornea which was actually quite stressful. If only animals understood, "Don't scratch, you could make it worse!" Lola, Matt and I worked very hard to make sure she was supervised, received eye drops ( This was no fun! Every try to put drops in a squirmy dog's eye??? Sometimes it even took help from Courteney!).
All healed and posing for treats. <3
Needless to say I cancelled my appointments and definitely neglected stretching as a part of recovery. I also ended up having to take a day and a half off of work upon my return as well because of the nastiness of the sinus infection was amplified for the couple of days post race. My doctor told me this would happen, but I was wearing my PB blindfold, so I didn't care, LOL.

I guess the point I'm getting at is DON'T NEGLECT YOUR RECOVERY!

My hamstrings were tight for basically the entire cycle of training. I really called on them during the Chicago marathon and adrenaline also masked the pain or tightness I may have felt. My Ischial tuberosity (which is tendon at the top of the hamstrings) became irritated and pulled which has created a serious pain in my butt. And now, I am on a slow, but progressive road to recovery.
This is my new post run, post stretching

As I began to feel healthier I made it a point to really focus on my nutrition, strengthening and stretching again. This week's physio and massage appointments were positive and it looks like I'm making progress! I've went from being told to "rest" to being allowed to run a flat 15k! :D All the smiles!

The good news is that Lola is better, my cold is gone and I can run again. At least my recovery period allowed me to catch up on a few things that got put on the back burner while training ...trying to look on the positive of not running, lol.

I celebrated running by doing our annual trek to the Bike and Bean along the BLT Rails to Trails with a group of great running friends.

We are so lucky to have this trail in our backyards!!!! 

Oh yeah, I also turned 35 last week! Yikes!!!!! I remember when I was a teen and my aunt was 35 and me thinking (that's old....I wonder what I'll be like at 35?) lol. PS- birthday cake is great for recovery!!!! 
It's a proven fact that a Boston Marathon Birthday cake tastes EVEN better! ;)
So yeah, these cookies are the COOLEST I've ever seen!!!!!!! Thanks to Abby's Cookie Creations for definitely making my sweet tooth day and to Sam for the best birthday present!!!!

So I need to take this healing thing seriously, because next up I need to start training for.......
Boston #5!!!!!!!!!!!

Recovery is always more fun when you can relive your race season with the world's best running friends!!!

Thanks so much for reading the rambles of Girl Goes Running. Have a beautiful day!
Catch me up: What's new with you? 
Ever get an injury from a race where you went all out?
How did you celebrate your birthday??? 

Happy Running,
Heather :) 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2016!!!

Okay folks, this post will not do justice to what really happened but I'll try my best! It was just such a freaking awesome run!

On Friday night Matt and I stayed at the alt hotel near the airport since we were leaving  super early in the morning and we wanted to get as much rest as possible. Our flights went very smoothly and before I knew it, we were in Chicago!!!!

We are creatures of habit. Matt and I love to return to a place where we've already navigated and knew what to expect. We actually made comments about how smoothly and quickly things were going for us such as the cab ride, bib pick up, etc.

Mr. Matt!

Pizza at the expo...mmm.

I actually Met Run Selfie Repeat and Katie's Fit Script in the washroom at the expo!!!

Ready to run!!!!

Last year when we ran Chicago  I had just battled a major sinus infection. Well guess what?! The same freaking thing happened this year!!! :( Before we flew out on Saturday I had started antibiotics a day prior and other meds for the remainder of the earlier days that week. Oh boy. In reality I was feeling very good on Saturday so I figured I could finish the race, but I had these worries fluttering about in my head because of all the things I googled and heard about running a race on antibiotics. Never the less, Matt and I had both trained very hard and dedicated using Project PB and I certainly wanted to see him have a great run!

We did our pre-race ritual - Carb up on pizza and chill at the hotel.

Flat Heather was laid out and then we hit the sack for our early o'clock wake up call (4:30!!!!!!).

Matt and I walked about a mile to the start with tons of other runners up Michigan Avenue. (We love that the hotel is so super close to the start). Again, I had no expectations because of the meds I was on and my sinus issues so I was not nervous for the first time ever in the history of my 14 marathons!

Everything was going well until we got to Gate 1-our gate. There was a massive line to get scanned and patted down by security and the lady was a little rough and ACCIDENTLY banged me on the forehead with her metal detector thingy. :( That was all it took. I started to cry and Matt was like "What's wrong?!?!?!" I said, "I trained so hard and now I'm going to suck" wah wah....super tear fest which is not ideal when you're heading to the starting corral. The head bump didn't make me cry but I definitely think it opened up the flood gates and let my disappointment flow about my super drastic taper from the virus/infection.

Check out that bump above my brow! And glossy eyes from crying, lol I'm such a baby.
 Matt and I said goodbye and good lucks and got separated into corrals. He told me to run smart and listen to my body and that was the plan.
I told myself to pull up my big girl pants and get sh*t together!!! You trained hard and now you need to go run your A$$ off!!!!! * But of course my plan was to run safe and not do anything that felt bad for my body.
So that's what I did.

For the first 4+ miles I seriously had NO IDEA how fast I was going! My garmin was telling me I was running 5:36<-----YEAH RIGHT!!!!! LOL. It was also saying that I was going at 6 ish minute miles. I knew that wasn't correct because of effort and the fact that I was just behind the 3:25 Nike Pacers, (around where Greg said I should be but also taking into account my recent bug). Also, last year I recall the tall buildings and tunnels seriously screwing with the gps signal so I didn't freak-however, I did run this first section a bit too fast after seeing my splits...oops.

I just couldn't believe how fresh and strong my legs felt! I was passing people like nuts! I kept slowing it down after each mile, but then I wondered if my Garmin was just still acting wonky since my miles were mostly around 7:3X ish.
The entire race was seriously not a piece of cake by any means. I ran mile for mile and just kept thinking of all the gruelling training runs I did and long runs of upwards of 22 miles IN THE HEAT! Matt and I made a joke about Greg sitting at the computer on race day wearing a "Coach" hat and every now and again I'd giggle to myself about that. 

I hit the half mark in 1:40.....yikes! This has never happened before. I definitely predicted a major marathon bonk during the last ten km. 

But it didn't really happen. 

I took Gatorade, usually 2 sometimes 3! at every station on Jennie's advice because of the antibiotics. I fuelled every 5 miles with Gu that were stored so perfectly in this Rack Pack Bra!!! I chatted at the start line with two girls who recognized me from Instagram :0 about how awesome the bra was since all three of us were wearing it!!!!!

Sure I slowed between a few checkpoints, but once it was because I slammed right into a man who stopped at a water station flat out. I felt bad that he was probably exhausted and cramping but dude, you need to respect runner etiquette and pull over, if you can, lol (especially in a marathon). Also I slowed because I was worried about conserving energy and heck I also slowed a bit because MARATHONS ARE FREAKING HARD! There's always that point where I'm ready to call it quits, but that didn't really happen. I had banked so many tough miles and I was darn ready to cash them in!!!! 
This was the last 400m!!!! 
 Are we there yet?! LOL. I just kept pushing with no clue what my time was because of the gps freaking out.
 As I approached the finish I saw 3:28:XX and I knew I was golden. The elusive sub 3:30 was no longer a dream. I knew I took a couple of minutes to cross the start but I had no idea it was 5 whole minutes!!!!!!
I was seriously in shock when my Long Run BFF Jennie texted me to tell me my time and to congratulate me! She also informed me that Matt had got in under 3!!!!

Some random stranger offered to take my picture when they saw me struggling to take a selfie, lol.

Squinty eyed smiles from everyone!!! I love how the Nike pacers let Matt cross the finish holding the sign!!! Yes, we kept it and brought it home. :), I can't even imagine.
 We were both elated!

So celebrations were in order!

When you're on antibiotics and you insist on having a celebratory opt for non-alcoholic, lol!

My biggest source of motivation during those last tough 4 miles!!!! Love me some Giordanos!!!!!

Michigan Ave. Bridge Selfie!

The garmin stats....Yes, my garmin freaked out for the first 4 miles and somehow, I still clock an exrta 1/2 mile?!?!?

Out of 40 000 runners, I'll take these stats!
I have to say a HUGE thanks to everyone who cheered, tracked, wished luck and congratulated us. We are so appreciative! Super thanks to GREG!!!!!!!!! Seriously get Project PB to hook you up! ;)

Thanks for reading this super long recap and if you made it to the end, you get a  medal! ;) jk

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Friday, 7 October 2016

Marathon On The Horizon

My mind is like a whirlwind as I scan the image of my suitcase wide open on the guest bed containing everything I will need this weekend as my husband and I head to the Windy City. Did I pack a throw-away? What about my glide? I definitely must pick up gels before our flight on Saturday!

This is our second year running the famous Chicago Marathon and we're both itching to get back there. However to say that I left last year's marathon with a sense of it being unfinished would be quite accurate, even though I came home with a finisher's medal. I have an on-course port-a-john stop and a week of antibiotics prior to race day to thank for this feeling.

Running the Chicago Marathon was not something that I can truly say was always a bucket list item of mine. In fact, I questioned whether or not I'd find a connection to the city that I imagined was bleak, cold with tall buildings and of course, windy. The complete opposite was actuality and my assumptions were left in the dust. If it wasn't the scenic Chicago River that travels through the city, it's fascinating architecture or the food that brought us back, it would have definitely have been the flat 26.2 mile foot tour we embarked upon with approximately 40 000 other runners!

But am I ready? 

After reaching what I would call a plateau in our running, my husband and I decided to take our training into a different direction and hire a coach. Previewing the hard copy of the workouts left us wide-eyed to say the least and with a sense of strength and satisfaction when we could boast about how we conquered it or strategize when it didn't go so well.

With a few tune-up races under our belts it became clear that our training was working and all the hard work was paying off.

Enter the taper. If you have tapered you can probably predict what sorts of questions I am having about my fitness, about that missed run or two due to that head cold that popped out of nowhere (one of the perks of teaching elementary school), and of course whether or not I had the strength (both physical and mental) to do this!

Recently I was invited to do a talk to the half marathon clinic at the Running Room and my focus was on Race Prep-physical and mental. Now I find myself having to take my own advice, and that is not always as easy as it seems.

Pre-Race jitters can get the best of any seasoned runner. My plan is to have a tool kit I can draw upon to overcome any sort of race anxiety I experience over the next few days.

Other than the obvious things to check off of my "things to pack" list I will also practice some mental conditioning. There are a few things that really help me get my cramped, dehydrated and fatigued body to the finish of any 26.2 mile race.

1. Faith in my training. I keep a hard copy log of every single run over the past 18 weeks that helps me solidify trust in my training as I preview it on race eve. Knowing the homework is done, helps me feel better prepared for the big test and push me through the final miles!

2. Have a mantra to say when things get tough. Amazingly this has helped me in past races more than I ever imagined! I like to tell myself that I AM strong and that I CAN do this. Others have faith in me and I need to have faith in myself.

3. Visualization. I create a mental movie of running under the arch, red digital clock and all. When I can see it I believe I can do it. I also enjoy thinking about that post-race celebratory meal!

4. Soaking it all up. Race day can bring you a plethora of surprises. Always be prepared for the unexpected. I like to enjoy the experience no matter how my race is going because I've poured my heart and soul into hundreds of training miles. Let's face it, no one wants to work that hard only to take away the negative aspects of your run. High five the spectators, thank the volunteers and take it all in!

Thanks for stopping by my space in the blogosphere and have a beautiful day!

Happy Running,
Heather :)

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The 2016 Rum Runner's Relay!!

Well yesterday was a fantastic day all around, especially for a Team Relay!

Last year I was so bummed out around this time because of the nasty cold I caught that then turned into a crazy sinus infection and I had to pull out of the Rum Runners Relay. :( Well this year, I've been so cautious around the kids at school and hand washing to the max in fear of  a repeat! ;)
Flat Heather and Matt!
"What's everyone running from Mommy?" <3

It was still dark when Lola and I headed off to Prospect Road to cheer Matt. Thank goodness Andrew was the chauffeur for Matt to the start. I loved that extra half hour of snooze time. ;)

 Lola got very excited when I told her Matt was coming! lol

He was zooming!

Family cheer squad!
 "Oh hey guys!"

I'm pretty sure if the organizers knew Matt was 'flying' we'd get a penalty, lol.
 He managed a 6:03 pace/mile for the 8.4ish miles he raced-a 3 minute PR on that leg! :0

After Matthew's leg, we headed home and I geared up for Leg 3 (my leg). Greg had put a 3mi warm up into my plan for the day so I was super lucky that the start of leg 3 was exactly that distance from my house! Of course I ran there and it worked out perfectly! It was chilly so I wore a long sleeve over my racing shirt. I got there in time to register and chat with friends.

 At the "GO!" we were off!

I cruised through the first mile waaaaay to fast (6:51) in hopes of sticking with one of Jennie's Halifast friends. She runs slightly faster than me so I thought if I could just stay close, I'd have a pretty solid pace throughout. This relay doesn't allow music so it was real interesting to just hear foot patter and heavy breathing, lol.

This leg is basically a net downhill with only one climb by a lake that I remember. We were diverted about 4.5 miles or so in onto a section of the rails to trails that had giant puddle holes so there was lots of weaving and dodging going on. This was a very tricky section for me.
Tom was en route with his bike and got some cool action shots!

I enjoyed all the cheers from other runners who were travelling the route in cars to the finish/start of the next leg. It was very motivating! Matt and Lola made a great cheer squad as well. :)

Once we exited the trail I was at 6ish miles and I knew there was less than a mile to go! Then at 6.4 miles my belly got super pissed and my body was trying super hard to release the lactic acid....uh oh! I was fighting puke and trying to maintain pace for the last section. It was tough and Tom caught me in all my finishing classy glory, LOL.

People were actually yelling "keep going!" to me because they thought I was I just couldn't go with my gagging!

Craig and Marg also ran the same leg as me and everyone was cruising! 

Family photo op! 

This happened on my leg!!!! 

6.8 miles for the leg 7:01 pace! 1 min 50 seconds faster than two years ago on the same leg!

I headed home for a shower and then travelled with Jennie to do her leg. She was running leg 9 and by then it was late afternoon. 

 Courteney and I did some cheering and snapped some photos to get her motivated!

When I grow up I want to run like Jennie!
I wish I got more photos of my team running. :( They all did spectacular though!

Finally I recovered from a busy busy day of running and cheering with Erin!
Movie and Munchies...mmm!

This relay is super fun and very well organized!!!!  Congratulations to all the runners and teams, especially Upright and Mile-ing!!!!

Thanks so much for listening to the running rambles of GGR!Have a wonderful day!

Happy Running,
Heather :)