A 5'3 Perspective


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My Second Half Marathon Experience

After sleepless nights, training doubts, and racing remorse, I am thrilled to have completed my second half marathon this Sunday – and even more excited to have finished in under two hours! If you read my running remorse post last week, you’ll likely be surprised to hear that I have been bit by the racing bug again. While I am not signing up for another half marathon in the near future, I am looking into a couple 10 km races in the winter (just checking out my options – I want to come down from my running high before I make any commitments).

All hesitations aside, I knew I had given my best effort effort training for this race. Preparing for a Spring half is much different than a Fall one – I have learned that I prefer running in cool temperatures (and even snowstorms) as opposed to warm scorching weather. Most distance runners will use Sundays as long run days; take a moment to think about what that means. Fun Saturdays are always cut a little short to make sure you feel ready to get a 16, 17, 18 k (or even longer) run in before peak heat hours. Depending on your pace, these distances can take over two hours to complete meaning you’ll need to be out pounding the pavement before 9:00 AM. Another sacrifice you’ll have to make is running on vacation. If you let your training slip, it is very hard to pick up where you left off – summer is a very popular time to take weekend trips, be prepared to pack your running gear and map out a couple routes to run while everyone else is sleeping in. This being said, running on vacation is one of my favourite ways to explore a new city, it makes me feel like a local and I almost always come across neat areas I would have never found otherwise.

Winter is easier. Long runs aren’t scheduled around the sun, Saturday partying is less frequent since patios are closed, and buy new cold weather running gear is a lot of fun. Sure the footing is slippery and you might run into a snow storm (literally), but as long as you are careful and alert, these added elements of difficulty make the time fly by. Maybe this is personal preference though!

father daughter finish line

Strides away from the finish line!

half marathonI had planned to do a race recap, but as the kilometers ticked by, they all merged together. I can tell you that the Canada Army Run is much less flat than the Ottawa Race Weekend route. If you are looking for a PB, consider that. Although I did not beat my first half marathon time, I felt much stronger and in control throughout the entire race – extra hills and all. I am confident that if the courses were the same I would have snagged a PB this time around. Either way, I was elated crossing the finish line knowing I had secured another sub two hour time!

Neil and Alicia along the course cheering us on, with Lanna and Susan close beside them!

Neil and Alicia along the course cheering us on, with Lanna and Susan close beside them!

I cannot even begin to express how thankful and honoured I am to have such great friends and family that pushed me every step of the way. From my dad you ran by my side, to my amazing boyfriend and friends who cheered me on along the course and at the finish line, I know I couldn’t have made it through the race without you guys. Knowing that I have such kind and thoughtful people in my life makes me feel so lucky. It truly meant the world to see your smiling faces cheering me on.

Celebrating another sub two hour finish with my dad!

Celebrating another sub two hour finish with my dad!

Will I run another half marathon? The answer is most likely yes. Crossing the finish line on Sunday reminded me of why I make the sacrifices I do to be a runner, it also confirmed that I truly do love running.

Despite a little muscle soreness, I am eager to lace up my sneakers this week and do what I love.

Congratulations to everyone who ran this weekend, you did it!

xo Lauren


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My Half Marathon Experience: What Training for a 21km Race Has Taught Me

Pre Race Picture Time

Pre Race Picture Time

As many of you [probably all of you actually] know, I ran my very first half marathon this past weekend. I have never been a runner or even enjoyed running, but completing this 21km race was something that had been on my bucket list for years. After watching my dad finish his 8th marathon last year, I felt the urge to work towards accomplishing my goal. When registration opened up for the Ottawa Race Weekend many months later, I knew this was my chance, I hadn’t stopped toying with the idea of racing since the year before and I knew if I really wanted to cross a half marathon off my bucket list, this was the time to commit.

Over the past year I have put a lot of focus on improving my health and fitness. I have changed my diet drastically to help improve my quality of life, completely omitting all foods containing lactose and gluten as they were making me feel terribly ill and I have taught myself to eat less sugar and processed foods. I must admit, I still have some stomach issues, but I am definitely feeling better than I was this time last year. I am learning to be more intuitive with my eating and focus on nutrients rather than cravings. But what does this have to do with running a half marathon – nothing really, but the focus on my healthy eating gave me the drive to push myself harder with my workouts. Just another reason to amp up my training and commit to a race.

Now the logical next step for a first time runner would be to join a running group and train with like-minded people. Unfortunately for me, the thought of group running gives me more knots in my stomach than running the race itself, so I set out to train on my own – in the dead of winter. Yes, Canadian winter. Luckily I had a seasoned vet to help me devise a training plan [thanks dad] which comprised of two short runs and one long run a week, along with a few group fitness classes and spinning as cross training.

As I mentioned before, I was not an avid runner before signing up for the race. I had run a total of two 10k distances in my life (one race when I was about 10 years old and one training run after watching the events at the Ottawa Race Weekend last year). To me running was boring and tedious. I would also get tired and breathless after a few minutes and I never felt like I was improving so I often gave up. I would go through phases of off and on running (5km max) and then eventually replace the workout with something I enjoyed more. Now that I had committed to a race, I knew the option to give up was completely out of the question. I had to do this, I had to prove to myself that I could follow through on my promises.

I had signed up for the 2:15 – 2:30 time corral, figuring that with enough training I could do 21km in 2 and a half hours. After talking to my dad about my decision, he surprised me by signing up to run the race with me, at my pace. However, he told me I should opt for a quicker time and that he believed I could finished between 2:00 – 2:15, so following his lead I changed my corral. I must admit, I was nervous. 21km is a long way to run and in less than 2 hours and 15 minutes – that seemed impossible, but my dad believed in me and I wanted to make him [and myself] proud.

I won’t lie, training is tough. Sticking to a schedule when there is a snowstorm really ups the ante. My first major lesson about running is that the sport requires as much physical stamina as it does mental. If you don’t believe in yourself, you will not make it through those tough runs. Some days are harder than other and a short run can feel like it is taking an eternity. During those runs I often found myself thinking negative thoughts – “you’re too tired for this” or “just turn around early and call it a day, you’re not running fast enough to make it worthwhile” but I pushed through it and eventually forced myself to think positively. No matter how bad I felt I would tell myself “you’re strong and healthy” or “look at how far you’ve come from this time last year” and it really helped me to stay motivated.

The second lesson learned from training for this race was that I love winter running. I like bundling up and being the only one out on the paths and so what if my feet get wet, I can always take a hot shower when I get home, or even better, run faster to keep myself warm. As I mentioned before, running in groups isn’t something that I enjoy, perhaps the solitude of winter running made it more appealing to me. Training during the colder months was also a great excuse to pick up a few new pieces of running gear, which satisfied my inner shopaholic!

Training for any race, especially a longer distance one is about enjoying the good runs and gutting it out through the bad ones. Some days I just didn’t feel like running, but I geared up and went anyways, I always felt such a great sense of accomplishment after pounding the pavement. As the half marathon approached I started to get more and more nervous. Would I be able to finish in time, would I be able to finish at all, how will I fit all my training runs in? During my 5 months of training, I had convinced myself that I wanted to finish my first 21km race in less than 2 hours. This was a long way from my initial goal of under 2:30 but I had been bitten by the sub 2 hour bug and I couldn’t let it go. This is where my third running lesson arose – set your goals high. This goal gave me something to work towards, but it also sent my nerves through the roof. I didn’t want to let myself down and I didn’t know if I would be proud of myself if I finished in anything more than 2 hours. Either way I pushed myself harder than ever in my last month of training because of this goal – and I chose not to share it with many people, just in case I couldn’t accomplish it [which was extremely silly of me]. Which brings me to my fourth lesson, stop comparing yourself to others. Running is an individual sport, you can only beat your own person best. A little healthy competition among friends is okay, but in the end you are competing against yourself.

A few weeks ago I was worried about fitting a long run into my schedule and Neil told me not to worry, it is just a run (referring to the half marathon race day) – which is totally understandable, because I had been saying that since the day I signed up. That’s when it hit me, the truth is that it wasn’t just a run – I had been devoting five months of my life to prepare for this one race and hearing him say what I had told him out loud made me realize how badly I wanted to succeed. Unfortunately, realizing this was probably more detrimental than it was helpful – it added a whole new level of pressure. What if my race day run was weaker than my training ones? What if I failed? I spent a lot of time thinking about these things during my last few training runs. In the end I realized that no matter what happened on race day, I had accomplished something big – I had stuck to running for 5 months and had even started to enjoy it. I knew deep down that finishing the race in itself was an amazing achievement and that unfortunately some runs are better than others and if you have a bad run on race day, at least you got out and pushed through it.

So here we are, five months of sticking to my training schedule and getting my runs in no matter what and I am proud to say I ran my first half marathon in 1:58. I have never felt so accomplished in my life. Yes it was tough – the last few kms were definitely character building for me. I wanted to stop and walk many times but my drive to finish with a sub 2 hour time pushed me forward. Were there moments of doubt during the race? Of course. The second half of the course was hilly and windy which made it much more difficult than the first. Seeing a few familiar faces [and great signs] right near my house helped take my mind off the race, but unfortunately that didn’t last long. Just after the 18km mark I didn’t think I could do it – the negative self talk came back, and that that point I was almost out of extra energy to push it aside. Luckily the crowds of people lining the finishing stretch carried me on – telling me I looked strong and that I was doing amazing, also running with my dad who was encouraging me the whole way through was a life saver. Without him I am not sure I would have made it to the finish line so quickly – during that last km all I could think about was proving to myself that I could do it, my dad had already told me it I had it in the bag. The excitement of the finish line gave me the final push I needed and I managed to kick it up a notch and run in strong. I have never felt so proud of myself before.

Showing off our hardware and feeling pretty great!

Showing off our hardware and feeling pretty great!

Will I run another half marathon? My initial thought was no. As I crossed the finish line I thought to myself, thank goodness this is over. Now two days later the running high has set in and I am starting to consider another race – I guess we will just have to wait and see!

Thanks again to everyone who made this weekend possible, from the organizers to the volunteers, to the runners, the security, the medics, the spectators, and especially my family and friends who believed in me the whole time. This is an experience I will never forget and as cheesy as it sounds, I truly believe training for this half marathon and running in the race has changed me as a person. I’ll be the first to admit that I hated running – now I can’t imagine a week without it… I guess that makes me a runner?!

Our own person cheering section!

Our own personal cheering section!

xo Lauren


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Manicure Monday: My Half-Marathon Nail Art Manicure

I promise I’ll post about the race later this week. I just need a day or two to really let the whole experience settle in. Until then I’ll say this, running the half marathon [with my dad] was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change a single second of it. I am so lucky to have so many people in my life who support everything I do – and it really showed this weekend! To all of you who sent me well wishes and cheered me on along the way, I can’t thank you enough – it meant the world to me.

Shifting gears now – here is my race day manicure – I think it is a lot of fun and I hope you do too!

Running Race Day ManicureCongrats to anyone who got out and ran this weekend and to those that cheered us on from the sidelines – Ottawa Race Weekend was another huge success for the nation’s capital!

xo Lauren


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Fabulous Finds Friday

I had every intention to post about the upcoming Ottawa Race Weekend and my first half marathon training experiences, but then I came across this beautiful Dolce Vita peplum blouse and it tugged on my heart strings so much that I couldn’t resist sharing it with you right now. I promise I will write at least one post about my half marathon experience [and it will be complete since I’ll write it after race day] – I do have lots to talk about when it comes to running but today is Friday, and I definitely have a few fabulous items on my wishlist.

Fab Friday

This is my uniform for the next few months – a beautiful, lightweight tank top [how great is this Dolce Vita Eyelet Peplum Blouse?!], a pair of denim cut offs [Citizens of Humanity Ava Cutoffs], printed sandals [Loeffler Randal], a small shoulder bag to hold my summer essentials [Pour La Victoire] and a pair of half-frame sunnies [Ray-Ban]. If only the weather would cooperate.

What is your summer outfit of choice?

Have a wonderful weekend!

xo Lauren


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Fabulous Finds Friday: The Half Marathon Edition

Up until this year, I have never put so much thought into workout gear. I used to choose my sneaker based on colour and my clothing based on looks, but when you’re hitting the pavement at least three times a week and racking up the miles (I’ve already ran 176km since the beginning of the year), fit and function start to take precedent. Today I want to share with you some of my favourite fitness products that help make my runs easier.

Fabulous Finds Friday Fitness1. Double Layer Running Room socks – If you are an avid runner, walker, or stepper, you NEED these. Say goodbye to blisters because the double layer technology works great to prevent blisters and absorb sweat. The two layer rub against each other instead of your foot so you don’t feel any pain. I cannot get enough of these – once you switch you’ll never go back.

2. Lululemon Run: Bundle Up Jacket – When you are training through the Winter, finding clothing that keeps you warm but breathable is a challenge. This jacket has a detachable hood and front so you can wear it on really cold days and slightly warmer ones. Even after long runs I can guarantee that this coat won’t ride up. Although it isn’t exactly waterproof, I have had no issues running in serious snow storms while wearing it – though I wouldn’t recommend using it for rainy runs. My only issue with this jacket is that the sleeves are seriously long but it is really easy to roll them up. Oh and it is on sale for $129.

3. Polar RS300X Heart Rate Monitor – I don’t think you can really appreciate how incredible this little device is until you use it. After a few hints to Neil, I received the Polar RS300X for Christmas. I love knowing how hard I am working and how quickly my body can recover – it helps me put my workouts into perspective. Also the stop watch feature is great for timing my runs and knowing the calorie burn of your workouts is a fun perk. I know that I am not even scratching the surface on the featured that this heart rate monitor has but even still I love it and I hate working out without it.

4. Mizuno Wave Elixir 8 – As you may of may not know, I have been on a quest to find the perfect running shoe to get me through my half marathon training. Ever since I was young I have had terrible shin splints that act up any time I run. I probably got them from years of competitive figure skating and dance but they never really healed. When I got serious about running I started to notice the pain creeping back, and with a vengeance. I decided that I was going to bite the bullet and shell out some serious cash to get the perfect pair of shoes to support my body on my long runs. After trying a pair of Saucony’s, which gave me horrible blood blisters, and a pair of Ascis, which made my spins and calves feel even worse, I was happy to stumble upon a new shipment on Mizuno’s which contained the Wave Elixir 8s. These sneakers remind me of my Nike Free’s but with a little extra support, which is necessary for my pronating, low arched feet. So far I have used them on the treadmill twice (just in case I had to bring them back) and they feel great. I am so excited to take these outside when the paths dry up a bit!

What are your favourite fitness finds this year?

Happy Friday!!

xo Lauren