Thursday, October 31, 2013

my marathon recap!


It's been 11 days since the marathon and I've had lot's of time to reflect- so this is gonna be a long blog- hope you're ready!  I'll pick up from where I left off on my last blog....right about to fly to Toronto. 

I arrived in Toronto on Thursday evening and was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful arrangement of flowers in my hotel room. The card said "To my best friend- I'm so proud of you!  Good luck in your first marathon. love Jessica".  Yeah, I totally cried.  How incredibly thoughtful- I have the best friend EVER!  So I was feeling pretty awesome from the minute I arrived in TO.  Then my roommate for the weekend arrived- Ms Lanni Marchant!  I was super happy to be roomies with this lady- we are good friends and have roomed together lots before.  Plus she is a veteran marathon runner- so I was excited to learn as much as I could from her about preparing for the big day.

 Spent the next few days just taking it easy.  Watched movies, ran a few easy runs, went for a course tour with Chris N, Robbie W, and Lanni, ate lots of food (turns out carbo-loading wasn't as fun as I though it was gonna be- it hurts to eat that much!), and spent time with my parents and aunts and uncles that were in town for my race. (Was pretty awesome having them there!) Lanni and I had a great time decorating our bottles.  They were pretty elaborate, and some may have called mine "obnoxious".  But let me tell you- I had no problem finding my bottles on the table during the race!
yeah, those are animal stickers:)

 The day before the race I was having lunch with some of the other elite runners- and they decided to share their marathon horror stories with me.  Thanks guys.  As if I wasn't already scared enough, I got to hear some of the following things- Lanni's recap of of her marathon at World's this past summer- jabbing a pin into her leg, severe cramping of her entire left leg, and the complete inability to run the last 5km. Krista's experience at World's when she collapsed at 12km, and was taken to the medical tent.  Marilyn's story of her marathon last fall in Toronto when she ran the last few kilometers completed doubled over and was getting "pity" claps from the crowd.  Rejean telling me how his legs just give out about 10 mins after he finishes a marathon.  Then there are the stories that scared me the most- the poop stories.  Having to go so bad mid race that you either have to stop on the side of the road or you just shit your pants.  And by pants i mean little bikini like shorts that we wear.  I definititly did not want any of these things to happen to me!  However, Rich assured me that if I hydrated well, got in my gels, stayed conservative for the first 30km, I would be all good.  My training had gone well and I was ready to go!  But, still, in the back of my mind I was thinking "dear god don't like me shit myself tomorrow".  I don't want that to be my marathon story!  And I can tell you right now- it was all good on race day!  Yay!
RACE DAY!  Woke up feeling super excited, but still relaxed.  Was able to eat a decent pre-race breakfast- banana, cliff bar and a coffee.  Same thing I always eat.  The weather was fantastic- we really lucked out.  Sunny and about 7C- a bit of wind.  Got in a good warm up with Krista, Lanni, and Marilyn A.  In the elite room about 20 minutes before the start- I started to get REALLY nervous.  This was it....after all the weeks of training it was finally time to race my first marathon!!!!  

Gun goes off and I settle in right away with my running buddy Chris Napier (my physio here in Vancouver) and our pacer Thomas Omwenga.  The plan was to run 3:40-3:42 kms for the first 35km and then go as hard as I could after that. I was not wearing my Garmin, but Chris was wearing his, so he was gonna do his best to keep us on pace.  Just as Coach Rich had predicted I immediately wanted to pick up the pace cause it felt too slow and way too easy.  But he told me this would happen and that I needed to be patient.  Going too hard in the first half would most likely cause a big blow up in the last 10km.  Chris kept yelling at me "Slow down" "be patient" "stay focused" "just relax".  He was a life saver.  Without him by my side I'm sure I would have gone way too hard in that first 25km.  So along we went- rolling pretty good, hitting mostly 3:40s. I felt fantastic and was chatting with the group we were running with for a bit.  Ran past my parents at 18k- gave them a big smile, wave, and my arm warmers and gloves:)
 Thomas on the left, Chris on the right in the blue.

21.1km- 1:17.26 at the half.  I'm stoked that we are right on pace, and I'm still feeling awesome.  Around 25km my lower back started to hurt a bit, but its always the first thing to tighten up when I get tired.  I started to speed up cause I was worried I was slowing down- Chris called me out and told me to relax, shorten my stride- stay focused.  Seriously thank god for Chris!  Thomas was still by my side or right in front of me, helping me along.  I was having no problems taking in my gels and water.  Oh wait, I did take a tangerine gel and thought i was gonna vomit it right back up.  But kept it down and things were good.

At the turn around point at 29km we see all the front runners coming.  Some of the top ladies really looked like they were suffering...this was encouraging for me cause I was still feeling pretty good.  So I made a mistake, got excited and ran a 3:31 km.  oops.  In an attempt to slow down, I slowed down way to much and hit the next km in 3:51!  oops again!  Finally settled back in (thanks to chris and thomas again) and was hitting 3:42s again. When I hit 35km I did my best to pick it up, and ended up dropping Chris about 20 meters or so.  Thomas was pulling away from me in an effort to get me going faster.  I was going as fast as I could at this point- which was still 3:42s, so even though I thought I was running faster, I was just getting tired and having to work harder.  The last 4km was quite tough, as it was very twisty and turny due to a lot of construction.  This made it even harder to pick up the pace.  Just after 37km I saw Lanni running past the 39km- and I screamed goooooo lanni!  She was killing it and this really got me excited!  I could see the 3rd place Canadian woman up ahead of me about 45- 60 seconds.  Oh I tried my very best to catch her.  When I hit 1km to go, I was feeling generally fatigued, but nothing in particular hurt too bad, so I was going all out!  I knew I was close to breaking I was really givin er.  

I crossed the finish line- 2:35.11!  So close! (the Commenwealth Games standard was 2:35.00).  I was overcome with many feelings- happiness, relief, pain!  The first person I hugged was Ron O'hare, a good friend who has been our physio on many team Canada trips.  I started crying and he was like "are you ok??" Me- "I'm just so happy!  I did it!"  Immediately I saw Lanni wrapped in a Canadian flag and I knew she must have broken the Canadian record.  I ran up to her and completely interrupted whatever interview it was that she was doing- "Did you break the record?"  Lanni- "Yes!"  Me- "OMG you're amazing! Congrats!!" and lots of hugging after that. So proud of that girl.  She's freakin amazing.  Smashed the 28 year old record! There was so much going on at the finish line, but I just wanted to find my parents.  Finally spotted them and again was over come with emotion.  Having them there meant more to me then I could ever put into words.  Mom, Dad and my Aunt Geri were beyond excited and we did lots of hugging.  It was a great moment.  

Back in the elite room, my body started to hurt.  Badly.  Everything started to throb.  This was pain unlike anything I had ever felt.  I was doing a fair bit of complaining and I think the English boys in the room were actually concerned about me.  Im just a big baby i told them- ill be fine!
ohhhh so much pain.  "Someone help me?!"

In the days following the marathon, I was pretty damn sore.  My body hurt.  Everywhere.  But it was so worth it!  I spent 5 days in Florida lying on the beach with my parents.  It was amazing and exacly what I needed.  Ate, slept, drank wine, suntanned.  Just awesome.  Got home on Saturday night and went for my first run on sunday morning.  Easy 30, and didn't feel too bad.  I'm on day 5 of running and up to about 50 mins.  Everything is feeling pretty much back to normal and I'm excited to get back into some harder training next week.  XC nationals is a month away!
mom and i on the beach:)

Ok time for the sentimental stuff..... where to start!

So if you read my last blog, you know that training for this marathon was very difficult me....  I really stuggled with some emotional stuff....I could never have gotten to the start line, never mind crossed the finish line, without the support of some very amazing people. I have such an incredible group of friends and family in my life- I am truly a lucky girl.

MOM AND DAD-  I love you both so incredibly much.  I don't know how to put into words how much I appreciate you both and everything you have done for me this past year.  When times got really tough this past September, your support, each and every day, is what got me through.  You encouraged me to not give up on the marathon and kept me going.  But also reassured me that if I couldn't do it, that was ok too- we would figure it out together.  I am so lucky to have parents like you guys!  It meant the world to me to have you in Toronto with me for my first marathon.

ALL OF MY AUNTS, UNCLES AND COUSINS WHO CAME TO MY RACE- having you there to support me and cheer me on was amazing!  Something I will never forget!

RICHARD LEE- What an awesome coach you are!  Thank-you for not only being my coach but for being my friend.  You were very patient with me and I know how difficult I can be.  My first experience in the marathon was pretty damn great and I have you to thank for that. You believed in me when I didn't even believe in myself.  I thought that going to the Olympics was just a dream, but now I think it could be a reality with you as my coach:)

KIM HOLLOWAY, JESSICA WRIGHT AND MARILYN YEO- seriously the three best friends a girl could ask for.  None of you ever left me side this year.  I'm sorry you had to listen to me cry so many times, but thank-you for never telling me not to.  Thank-you for believing in me and encouraging me to pursue my passion of running.  Love you girls like sisters!

ALEX AND INNOVATIVE FITNESS- my trainer, Alex, at innovative fitness spent the last 8 months getting me ready for the marathon.  We got my core ripped and my glutes super strong!  I felt so strong when I was running- thank-you for getting me to that point.  You do amazing things at Innovative Fitness- you really do change people's lives!  But more then just being my trainer, Alex, you were a good friend and showed me so much support.  Thank-you.

CHRIS NAPIER- Couldn't have ran 2:35 without you.  Thank-you for keeping me patient.  And thank-you for being an awesome physio and getting me to the start line healthy.  Congrats on your huge PB too!

BOBBY CALLAHAN- my roomie who had to deal with me every single day....thank-you for putting up with me! And thank you so so much for cooking me some amazing dinners. It's so nice to come home after a run to a fantastic meal:)  -

ASICS CANADA- thank-you for supporting me this year.  What a great company.  I appreciate all you have done for me.

TRAVIS FRASER- you didn't have to but you did- thank-you for always supporting me- I know it wasn't easy.  When I was ready to give up on the marathon, you were the one who convinced me not to- running was who I was and I would forever regret it if I didn't run the marathon.  Thank-you for not letting me quit. 

There are so many people that have made a difference in my life over the past few months.  They have shown me support in one way or another that helped to get me to that startline.  Whether it be a phone call to see how I'm holding up, to a coffee, maybe a drink, an easy run, or as simple as a text or email.  You have all been there for me in one of the toughest times of my life and I appreciate each and every one of you.  It's a long list.....DEANNA LARSON, KATE FISHER, MEGAN BRAEDER, SARAH CRONIN, VERONICA AND NICK WODAK, JAMES MERRIMAN, KELLY WEIBE, JANE CULLIS, CATHERINE WATKINS, CHRIS WINTER, RACHEL CLIFF, BRIT TOWNSEND, LEON BERARD, MARC NARDUZZI, BRITT HAYES, SEAN STEPHENSON, CHRIS LEPIK, MICHAEL DOYLE, LANNI MARCHANT, ERIN BURRETT, ASHELY NOBLE, REBECCA JOHNSTONE, LIZ METCALF, KIM COPP I'm sorry if I missed any one.  Again thank-you all for....well just being your awesome selves!

And the last "person" I want to thank is not a person at all....

THE MARATHON- Although I really hated training for you at times-, you were the best thing that happened to me this year.  When I first decided to run a marathon, it was because I wanted to try something new....thought it would be a good challenge and that perhaps I would be good at.  But after the first month of training it turned into much more....The physical exhaustion of training caused me to break down emotionally.  It was pretty much the first time since my separation that I really let me myself be sad.  The marathon forced me to deal with my "problems" instead of just ignoring them.  It was a hard time, but a necessary time.  Many days I did not want to get out of bed- but I knew how important every run was.  Thank-you marathon for getting me through my toughest days.  I always felt  better after each run or workout.  My heart is healing because of you. 

So there you have it!  My first marathon experience was definitely a positive one.  The entire weekend in Toronto was fantastic.  Running marathons is fun!  Already thinking about which marathon I want to run next!  Gotta get that commenwealth standard!

here's some more pics-

my friend's kids made me these adorable signs! 

celebrating with some bubbly with Lanni after the race

San Jose half marathon 2 weeks before the full marathon.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's marathon time!


 I know its been like 3 months since my last post...I've been slacking- sorry ya'll!  But here I am and I actually have something cool to blog about.  My first marathon is in 4 days.  4 freakin days people!  16 weeks of training has gone by in a flash. After years of saying I would NEVER run a marathon, here I am about to race 42.2 kilometers. I am flying to Toronto tomorrow morning, and then the next 3 days will just be a blur of excitement and nerves.  So let's tell you guys a bit about how this marathon build up has gone down...

In July I made the decision to switch coaches.  I had been with Brit Townsend for 12 years and she was (still is) an amazing coach.  She molded me into a successful runner and I owe her so much gratitude for my achievements over the years. I am incredibly grateful to have had her as my coach for as long as I did. However, I knew I was ready for a change. After meeting with Richard Lee several times, I knew he would be a great fit as my new coach. 

 I told him I wanted to run a marathon.  We decided together that the best place for me to run my debut marathon would be the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 20.  This gave me over 3 months to prepare.  So Rich got to work and put a detailed 16 week training plan together for me.  I gradually increased my mileage week by week, careful not to do too much too soon.  He included pool runs 2-3 times a week, which I enjoyed doing in the outdoor pool at Kits beach.  It was a great summer to do pool running! (got a tan while doing it:) Oh BTW I moved to Kits (a part of Vancouver) in July too.  Lot's of changes this summer!  So anyway, back to the running stuff.  Spent most of July and August just running.  Lot's of running.  My highest week of mileage peeked at 152km.  Not super high for a marathoner, but definitely a lot more then I had ever done before.  And I was consistently running 130-150km per week, whereas before I almost never got over 100km, and usually averaged 80-90km a week.  So this was a big adjustment for me.  I was only working 2-3 nights a week, as it was just too much trying to run twice a day and then serving at night.

My decision to run a marathon was a pretty easy one.  I had been thinking about it for the past year, but just never thought I would have the time to fully commit to the amount of training needed to run one.  I mean last year at this time I had decided that I was going to quit running competitively in the Spring.  So much can change in just one year... After a pretty successful winter/spring on the roads/track and cross country I knew I wasn't ready to quit- there was so much more I wanted to achieve!  It seemed like the time was right for a marathon and I knew I was ready for something new- for  a new challenge.  And oh what a challenge it has been!!!

First of all let me say that there were times in the last 16 weeks that I did not think I would make it to the start line.  So just sitting here tonight, knowing that I am healthy and good to go on Sunday is a huge accomplishment.  Training for this marathon is one of the hardest things that I have ever done- and I haven't even raced it yet!  Looking back I am not 100% sure that training for a marathon this summer was even the right decision for me.  I think I "bit off more then I could chew".  One of the main reasons I moved to Kits (an hour from Port Moody where I was living before), was for a fresh start.  Everything in Port Moody reminded me of my (ex) husband, and I wasn't able to move forward.  So move away I did- new roommate, new place, new training group, new job, new race- whole new life basically.  And I also thought that training for a marathon would be a great way to keep my mind off of my recent break-up, and focused on something else.  After 6 years of having your heart and soul invested in another person, I was completely lost when this person was gone.  I needed to focus my heart and soul on something else- my running.  So I put everything into training for this marathon.  The marathon was essentially my new boyfriend. lol.  Training for this marathon would be the key to fixing my broken heart- or so I thought. At first it was great, I was loving running all the time, enjoying the new workouts, having fun.  But then the exhaustion hit.  Somewhere near the end of August, I just kinda started falling apart.  It was more of an emotional falling apart, which came from being absolutely physically spent. And then I had a few bad races, and it was not good.  Not good at all.  I won't go into too many details (kinda personal stuff here people- sorry), but the last 6 weeks have been the hardest 6 weeks of my life.  But I am very happy to tell you that I sit here today feeling great.  Somehow, I made it through.  In September I was in a very bad (emotional) place and considered pulling out of the marathon all together.  I was completely overwhelmed.  BUT!  I did not give up.  I may have missed a few runs, but I really toughed it out.  And let me tell you it was not easy.  Running, and especially marathon running, requires a huge amount of mental focus.  And when your mind is a mess, its not a fun process.  

In the last 2 weeks everything just started getting better.  I'm not quite sure why, but I'm feeling like myself again.  I can actually say that I am feeling....happy?!  I am so proud of myself for getting to this point. I am extremely excited (and a little nervous of course) to race this weekend.  I was able to do all of the training and I am as prepared as I'm gonna be.  It's a good feeling knowing that I've done all the work and I'm as fit as I've ever been. Not just physically fit, but my head is clear and I'm focused! I feel confident that I will run a good race FOR ME.  I have no false illusions that I will be running under 2:30.  That has never been my goal for this marathon.  This marathon was more about the process.  And I've gotten through it.  I know that I am ready to run 2:35-36.  So fingers crossed that nothing goes terribly wrong and I am able to accomplish this goal.  But even if I don't run my ideal time- I will still be happy to just finish!  Now I may have said that training for this marathon is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my, but it is also one of the best things I've ever done.  I am a stronger person because of it.  "In your darkest hour, you find your greatest strength." 

Sorry, I know this blog ended up being a little "deep".  But hey, its the truth about what my marathon experience has been like thus far.  I'm not gonna sugar coat it!  Now it's time to get lots of rest, go for a few easy runs, get some massages, watch some movies and eat lots of carbs!  Sounds like the best part of marathon training is the next few days:)  Ok peeps, wish me luck! 

Monday, June 17, 2013


I'm back!!!  I know I have been terrible and haven't written a blog in like 10 weeks.  I really have no good excuse- just been busy and lazy!  Well, and my computer broke, so that hasn't made it any easier.  But there sure has been a lot of stuff happening in the last few months.  Life has been crazy in the tash lane.

Let's start off with the month of April.  It was packed full of races- good and bad.  I attempted my first (and ultimately my last) 3k steeplechase at the SFU invite in the pouring freezing rain and wind.  It was so damn hard.  The water-jump was not fun and I was absolutely dreadful at it.  My very limited training definitely did not prepare me.  I almost fell twice and am actually shocked that I didn't injure myself.  At this point I decided to concentrate my training/racing on the 5k and the 10k.  Trying to do all 3 events was just too much. 

Then I raced a 5000m on the track in California at the Mt. Sac relays.  I went into this race with very high expectations.  I knew I was capable of running at least 15:48, as I had split that in my 8k road race in January and was feeling very confident in the training I had done since then.  Unfortunately I ended up leading 3/4 of the race, and really struggled in the last 4 laps.  That last 1km in the 5000m always kills me.  So I ended up running 16:00.  Which isn't terrible (still technically a PB), but definitely not what I was hoping for.  I flew home the next day and tried to get a good sleep cause I had the Sun Run in the morning!

So 2 days after my not so great 5km, I was feeling a little discouraged on the start line of the Sun Run 10km.  However, I was happy to be racing in Vancouver with my friends and family there, so I was pumped to go after it anyway!  I was feeling recovered and surprisingly good on race morning.  The race went out hard, which I knew it would- it always does.  I was back in 3rd spot, almost 50 feet back from the top two girls around the 2km mark.  But then I started reeling them in, and by the 3km mark I passed one girl and was within 15 meters of the top girl.  I closed on her in the next few km and made a strong push past her on the Burrard street bridge. (5km mark).  Normally hills aren't my thing, but on this day I hammered that sucker!  For the last half of the race I ran with a couple of guys who really helped me keep pushing.  I was shocked when I crossed the finish line and saw my time- 32:42!  "WTF- did I really just run that???"  I was super stoked and so happy!!!  I immediately saw my friends and family at the finish line and was overwhelmed by all of their love!  Special thank-you to Mom, Dad, Veronica, Nick, Raiden, Rebecca, Deanna, Chris and Christy for being there and cheering me on.  Love you all so much!!!  And for everyone else who wrote such nice things on facebook and twitter- thank-you so much for your support! 
post sun run warm down

another fabulous sign from christy!  loved it!

So a week after the sun run I headed back to California to race a 10000m on the track at the Stanford Invite.  I was in the very elite invite section and this scared the shit out of me.  I was racing most of the top 10k girls in North America.  I was hoping to run 32:30 or faster and was on pace to do so at half way - 16:04 at the 5k mark.  I was with a good pack of girls.  I started to cramp up pretty bad in my stomach and both sides and was really suffering around 6km.  I fell off the group I was with, and knew the last 10 laps were going to be a struggle.  I debated dropping out several times, but knew I had to tough it out and at least finish no matter how slow my time was. I've never dropped out of a track race in my life and wasn't about to start now. With 3 laps to go I tried to pick up the pace and finish strong.  I still managed a decent final time of 33:09- but know I am capable of so much more.  It was disappointing for sure, but really it was only my second 10000m on the track ever.  25 laps of the track is a totally different experience/race then 10k on the roads.  I have a lot to learn still!  I will be trying to kill this beast of race this week at National Champs in Moncton:)

10 days after that not so stellar 10000m I competed in the BMO Vancouver half marathon.  Now looking back, this was probably not the best idea for me.  I was not fully recovered from my previous month of racing, so racing a half marathon was not ideal.  However I promised myself that I would only run it as a harder tempo run.  Which is pretty much what I did.  I won the race in 1:15:17, and felt quite comfortable through-out.  I came away from this race feeling very confident that running a half marathon in 1:11/12 was definitely a possibility for me.  Just gotta train properly for one!

After BMO I had a 3 week training block.  I was able to get in some great training, and when the Ottawa 10km rolled around at the end of May I was feeling ready to run fast!  Unfortunately that race was a bit of a let down.  I didn't go out hard enough with some of the top girls and ended up by myself for the majority of the race.  I finished as the 3rd Canadian female in 33:34.  Not so bad, but definitely not what I wanted.  Although the race wasn't fantastic, I had an awesome time in Ottawa!  What a great city.  Lanni Marchant, Erin Burrett and I shared an adjoining room for the weekend- it was fun:)  
Ottawa 10k elite start

At the Canadian Running booth with Lanni and Erin

OK after Ottawa I was supposed to race a 5000m on the track in Portland on June 8th.  However, I got invited to race in the very prestigious New York Oakley Mini 10km.  I have never raced in New York and was very excited for this opportunity.  However, in the two weeks between Ottawa and New York I just wasn't recovering properly.  My workouts were not going well and I was getting frustrated.  I knew that the race was gonna be a tough one for me.  And it was.  I went out hard, nothing super crazy, but a pace that I should be capable of running.  But I knew at the 3km point that this race was gonna get ugly.  I split the 5km in 16:41 and I was feeling terrible!  I had no pep in my legs.  Just felt so heavy and sluggish.  Sometimes races like this happen, so I just tried to relax and hang on the best I could.  I will not tell you my final time or place.  It was very upsetting for me and I had a good cry at the finish.  I was feeling quite depressed after the race, and was amazed by the amount of support the other elite ladies showed me.  I met so many fantastic people at the Mini 10km.  I was so honoured to be a part of such an elite field- Desi Davilla, Linet Masai, Gemma Steele, Helen Clithroe, Diane Nukuri-Johnson, Steph Rothstein, Lindsay Scherf, Katie MacGregor, Matty Suver, Brianne Nelson- just to name a few! Thank-you to the Minnesota girls- Katie and Ladia for a fun afternoon after the race- really enjoyed meeting you girls- and drinking wine with you!!!  It was also really great exploring the city with Helen Clithroe (one of Great Britain's most accomplished middle distance runners) on Sunday afternoon.  So I left New York on a positive note.  I may have had a shitty race, but the trip was amazing and I met some pretty fabulous ladies.
Asics Girls!  Helen, Diane and I

Helen and I at the World Trade Center memorial
Elite ladies at the lunch

Alright so I got back from New York last weekend and took a week of pretty much just recovery runs.  I managed to get in two harder workouts on the track and they went pretty well.  After almost 3 weeks of feeling like shit every time I tried to run hard, I am FINALLY feeling like myself again. Thank God!!! I am racing the 10000m this Thursday night in Moncton, New Brunswick for Cnd champs!  Feeling fit and ready to go!

OK so besides racing, here is the other stuff that has been going on in my life- I'll try to keep it very brief!  This is again turning into a stupidly long blog!

- switched sponsors!  I am now with Asics Canada!  Very excited to be working with this great company.  
-got a new sponsor- Innovative Fitness Port Moody.  I train there once a week (with the best trainer ever- your awesome Alex!).  We have been working on overall strength and conditioning- Lot's of core work, glute strength, stability, flexibility, plyos.  Its been great and I really feel like its helping me become a stronger more efficient runner.  
-I'm on the July cover of Canadian Running Magazine!  We shot on the seawall about 6 weeks ago- it was lots of fun- really enjoyed meeting Michael Doyle and Chris Lepik from the magazine.  It's pretty surreal seeing myself on the cover of a magazine!  
on news stands this week! go buy it!!!
-I am changing my name back to Wodak.  No more Natasha Fraser.  So if you are looking for me in results- look for Wodak.  I never actually legally changed my name when I got married, so Wodak is really still my name.  So this brings me to the personal stuff.  My husband and I separated in early January. The last 6 months have been incredibly difficult and stressful. I have tried to keep all this emotional/personal stuff separate from my running- but it just hasn't been possible.  I'm sure many of you have gone through "heartbreak" at some point and know that it is the absolute fucking worst. Some days I was so sad that I just couldn't get out the door for a run.  And there were even a few sessions on the track that weren't going well and I just couldn't handle and ended up bursting into tears and walking off the track.  I don't want to go into all the depressing details, but I wanted to share with you all a little bit of what I'm going through. Its been really freakin tough, but the fog is finally starting to lift and I'm beginning to see the light again!   I am so very grateful for my running- it has been what has gotten me through some of my darkest days.  That and some amazing friends and family.  Lot's of love to my Mom. Kim H- you are my rock- thank-you for ALWAYS being there- love you! Jess- after 15 years you are still my bestie- I appreciate your friendship more then you'll ever know. I feel like I'm finally starting to move forward.  I'm a little less sad every day and am starting to get used to this whole single life thing.  Quite the adjustment after being with someone for 5 years.  I'm confident that once I've finally got all my shit together, my running will really start to improve.  I'm excited for the fall, and what I might be able to accomplish!  Staying positive!!!! 
my two very best friends- Jess and Kim. 

I promise my next blog will not be another 10 weeks from now! (and i'll try to keep the depressing content to a minimum! lol)  I'll update soon!


Friday, April 5, 2013



Wow- what a fantastic trip to Europe!  Can't say enough good things about everyone on the National XC team- what a bunch of beauties!  Special shout out to the boys- Luc, Matt, Cam, Kelly, Mo and Chris- you guys entertained me when all the ladies were studying (which was all the time!)  Even though you took ugly pictures of me and posted them on twitter I still have nothing but love for you all! Also- thank-you to all the support staff- PAULA, BRENDA, MAREK, DAVE, MARCUS AND THELMA- you were all amazing.  And to my parents who came all the way to Poland to cheer me on- thank-you so much for being there and sharing my first Worlds experience with me.  You guys are awesome!


Today's blog is gonna be about my experience at the World Cross Country Championships- last time I blogged (about 2 week ago) I was in Walcz, Poland at Team Canada's training camp.  I was still sick with bronchitis and pretty worried that I would not be healthy on race day.....

On the Friday before our race (sunday was race day) we got to check out the course.  Man oh man it was crazy!  Mud, ice, snow, hills, dirt barriers and tons of twists and turns.  Oh and it was something like -10 that day- freakin cold!!!  I know I'm Canadian and supposed to be used to cold weather, but Vancouver doesn't get cold like that!  I'm not used to it and I didn't like it.  Not one bit.  Anyway the course was unlike anything we had ever seen before- it was gonna be tough but we were excited for it!  Challenging and fun! 


I had visited the doctor on Wednesday and he gave me new antibiotics- and they actually worked!  By Friday I was feeling SOOOO much better- the fluid in my lungs was almost all gone and I was only coughing a little bit.  When race day arrived I was feeling almost 100%- barely coughing at all anymore.  I couldn't believe that I was finally feeling good after being so sick for so long. It was a freakin miracle! But going into the race I was still unsure of what to expect.  I may be healthy again, but was my fitness still there?  I missed so many important workouts and runs over the past few weeks.  I was very concerned that I would totally suck in the race.  My original goal had been to place in the top 40- but now I just wanted to put in a hard effort and finish the race- place didn't matter.

RACE DAY!!!!  It was about -1C and cloudy on race day.  I got in a 20 min warm up jog, and then the next 30 mins before the race were pretty crazy.  We were rushing to get all the Canadain senior woman together and to the call tent 20 mins before the start.  Once we were in there, we were allowed to go out to the start line to do some drills and strides- but it was very crowded and muddy.  I only really got in 2 pretty shitty strides.  Oh well!  The call tent was madness and there were clothes flying everywhere!  Some French chic spiked me in the call tent!  I didn't get spiked in the race- only in the call tent!  lol.  So my ankle was bleeding before the race even started. 

So the gun goes off and I hammer it out of the gates.  Going into the first turn I find myself in the top 20 pack of ladies.  Surprising, but awesome!  The first 2km loop I just stuck in the pack and felt out the course.  I wasn't really thinking- just running and trying not to slip or fall- stay on your feet Tasha! When I came through the first loop, someone yelled at me that I was in 14th place.  This was shocking to me, but I felt great so I just kept rolling where I was.  Kim Conley of the USA was right in front of me and I just stuck behind her for the next loop. 

 There wasn't much movement of places from 2k to 4k- I think I dropped to 17th or 18th....not too sure though.  There was a bunch of us all going back and forth.  At the half way point I was still feeling pretty good.  I was kinda in disbelief that I was in the top 20 still. 

Going through 6km I was starting to hurt and knew it would be tough for me to hold onto a spot in the top 20.  I fought hard and tried to focus on keeping a good rythm- but that twisty, muddy course was not helping me.  With about 500m to go we hit the big hill and thats where I got passed by about 4 girls, including my very awesome teammate Rachel Cliff.  I just couldn't move up that hill- it was painful!  Rachel and another girl were about 15 meters ahead of me with about 200m to go- and I just started sprinitng as fast as my lil legs would go.  At first I wasn't gaining on them, but then with 50 meters to go I was reeling them in- and ended up passing Rachel (sorry- love you!!!!) right at the line.  We finished 24th and 25th!!!  Holy shit we were all kinds of happy, excited, shocked, overwhelmed- it was awesome!  It was pretty cool to get to share that experience with Rachel as well- we both had the race of our lives! 

After the race, everyone was super excited.  Rachel Hannah and Lindsay Carson both placed in the top 60- helping our team place 8th overall!  Awesome!!!!!  There was so much energy and excitement in the Team Canada tent- something I will never forget.  The senior men were just getting their spikes on and they were super pumped for their race after watching us ladies throw it down!  

I was sitting in a chair taking my spikes off and I became very overwhelmed with emotion.  Weeks leading up to the race I was so stressed about my illness (and some other things...).  I didn't know at one point if I would even be able to race.  If you had told me 5 days before the race when I could barely get through a run that I would place 24th and feel fantastic I would tell you no way in hell is that happening.  It was very surreal and I was just so relieved. I couldn't believe that that not only did I just run at my first World Championship event- I actually ran well. I shed a few tears (yeah yeah I know I cry alot).  Sometimes you just need to take a moment to yourself and reflect.

The last 3 months have been some of the hardest of my life- a lot of personal stuff going on that got me pretty depressed.  I was freakin sad.  Running has been my saviour and gotten me through some very shitty days.  That and a few absolutely amazing people (MOM/DAD, KIM, DEANNA, JESS, CHRISTY, MARILYN, KATE- love you all! Couldn't possibly put into words how much I appreciate all of you.)  Things are looking up now though and I've got my health back!  I will never take my health for granted again and am going to make sure I take better care of myself. 

It's good to be home, healthy and back training.  I've got a lot of racing to do this month- can't wait!  I'll keep you all posted! 

- T

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Hello from Poland!

  Snowy, cold but beautiful Poland!  I arrived with Team Canada on Sunday evening after 28 hours of travel.  It was a rough few days- Woke up Saturday morning at 5:15am and made my way to the airport. YVR was crazy!  It was so busy there- I waited so long in security that I almost missed my first flight!  They were paging me as I was running to the gate and I was the last one to board- it was embarrassing and stressful!  But I made it, and onward to Poland I went.  My first layover was in Edmonton- quick 90 min flight there and then only 1 hour layover in Edmonton, and I was on route to Toronto (3:30 flight) to meet up with the rest of Team Canada.  We had 4 hours to kill in Toronto before we flew 8 hours to Munich.  Once we arrived in Munich we only had 45 mins to get to our next gate to fly to Gnansk, Poland.  Have you ever been to the Munich airport??  Its freakin huge and jam packed full of people.  We were running through the airport trying to go through security and customs as fast as possible.  It was crazy.  So they held the little plane for us and all of Team Canada made it to Gnansk.  However none of our luggage did.  That was super lame.  We spend 2 hours in the Gnansk airport trying to figure out where all of our luggage was.  Finally we got on the bus and drove 4 hours to Walcz- our final destination where our training camp is.  We got in at 6:30pm Polish time (10:30am BC time) on Sunday night.  I was so exhausted but managed to get in a lil 40 min shake out run- which didn't feel too bad.  Our luggage came on another flight and was delivered to us that night at 10pm- so that was pretty awesome.  
waiting around in Gnansk airport!

Poland was covered in snow when we got here, and we have gotten almost another full foot of snow in the 3 days we have been here.  Its a winter wonderland!!!  It is supposed to snow again tomorrow so we are anticipating that the race course will be snow covered on race day this Sunday- we should be well prepared!  While running in snow is not ideal, its been alright and I've been able to get in some decent training- no thanks to my bronchitis- but we'll get to that in a bit.
The lake behind our building.  Frozen solid.

Remember last time I blogged-about a month ago, I mentioned that I had been sick?  Well I am still sick.  Instead of taking care of myself when I first got sick back in February, I decided to train my ass off, work lots and combine that with a few too many late nights of fun. 
Example of late night fun- note the large glass of wine.

 So I ended up getting really sick about 2.5 weeks ago and finally took a day off to just rest.  Then the next day I decided I would run again and go to work- even though I still felt like shit.  Well of course I woke up the next day feeling absolutely terrible and my cold had turned into some sort of full blown flu with an extremely painful cough.  I had refused to go to the doctor- so my mom actually drove to my place and took me to the doctor.  Doc said I had bronchitis.  Awesome just freakin awesome.  18 days out from the biggest race of my life and I have stupid bronchitis. I was pretty depressed about this.  

 I took 2 more full days off of running to just rest and try to recover.  On a beautiful sunny Saturday morning I went up to SFU to try and do some sort of a run/workout.  I attempted the 20 min warm up- huge fail.  Could barely keep up with the SFU girls.  Then I tried to do some 1 min pick ups.  Don't ask me why- really stupid idea.  I was coughing so much I thought I was gonna throw up.  It was just too much too soon and I got really overwhelmed and started to cry.  Yup I burst into tears mid-workout.  It was really pathetic.  Everyone kept telling me "don't panic", "just rest- don't worry you won't lose any fitness".  Yeah right!!!  I had already missed an entire week of any hard running.  I didn't have anymore time to be sick!!!  I was very frustrated.  

The next few days I was able to do some easy running and was starting to feel better.  By Tuesday I felt that I was ready to try something hard again and attempted some 2km repeats.  They were rough.  2 days later, I was feeling a lot better, only coughing a bit now.  I had my first workout on the track in almost 2 weeks- 5 X 800m  The first 2 were not so great, but I came back to run my last 3 pretty fast.  The workout went much better then expected and I was beginning to feel like myself again.  Maybe I would be able to have a decent race in Poland after all?  Things were looking up and I was happy:) 

3 days later.... BUT then I travel 28 hours to Poland with almost no sleep and wake up Monday morning feeling like a giant bag of shit.  My easy runs that day were much fluid in my lungs and couldn't stop coughing.  What the heck???  Why was I getting worse????  Tuesday I attempted 5 X 1000m on the snowy track.  I completed the workout- barely.  My legs felt great, but its tough trying to run hard when you can't breath right.  I think every time I coughed  and spit stuff up I muttered a swear word.  Sorry to all the team Canada members that have had to A. watch me spit up phlegm and mucus and B. listen to my non-stop profanity and complaining.  

Yesterday I went to the doctor and he told me that I still had bronchitis (SHOCKER!) and gave me some more antibiotics and a new inhaler.  Today I am actually feeling a bit better- coughing a lot less- but I haven't run yet.  We shall see how I am when I do my workout this afternoon...

World Cross Country Championships are in 3 days.  I have come to the realization that I will not have the race that I thought I would have back in February.  I have lost too much fitness over the past few weeks and still am not healthy.  I am sad because I was in the best shape of my life at the end of Febuary.  I was ready to kill it at World XC.  I still think if I can keep my coughing under control I can have a decent race.  All that hard work and mileage over the winter still counts for something!  I will tough it out on Sunday and give it everything I have.  Gotta stay positive!  I'm just happy to be here with team Canada.  This is an amazing experience no matter how my race goes.  My parents arrive on Saturday- am so excited to share my first World XC experience with them!!!  So bronchitis is a bitch. Here is a very funny video-

Since I've been here in Poland its been pretty great, despite dumb-ass bronchitis.  We are staying at an Olympic training facility that was build for rowers.  The trails are beautiful (even though they are snow covered).  We did some sight seeing and visited German bunkers from WWII.  That was pretty cool.
Matt and I with our "guns".

 The entrance to the bunker

Luc in the trenches.

 This morning after breakfast I found myself a new friend outside.  A little cat came meowing up to me.  And because I absolutely love cats I was so happy!  I pet him lots and he purred his cute furry face off.  He jumped right into my lap!  I decided that he must be hungry so I went back inside and grabbed him some lunch meat and granola (yeah yeah, i know granola was probably not the best choice.) The cat loved the lunch meat!  He ate it all up.  I wanted to bring him back to my room, cause its cold and snowy out and he was probably freezing!  But was advised this might not be a good idea, as we didn't know where this cat came from.  So I left the poor little guy outside.  I will feed him again at lunch if I see him:)

OK that's another long blog- sorry!!!  I will write again after my big race this Sunday!  So excited!  Time for Team Canada to throw down at World XC!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Team Canada kills it in Jamaica!


I have so much to blog about, I don't know where to begin!  Ok- let's start with where I left off last time- NACACs! 

I went with Team Canada to Jamaica in late January to compete at the NACAC (north American central American Caribbean) cross country championships.  It was a fantastic trip!  The senior women (myself, Rachel Cliff, Lindsay Carson, Maria Bernard and Rachel Hannah) took Gold, and beat out the Americans- it was awesome.  We were super excited.  The race was tough- it was pretty hot and the course was challenging with lots of hills and uneven surface.  I was definitely pleased with my race too, as I was able to pull off the individual win:)  I went out with the lead pack and stuck with the front few for the first km.  I found the pace a bit slow, and I was feeling good, so I put on a bit of a surge going up one of the hills.  No one went with me and I went through the first loop (2k) about 20 meters in front of the chase pack.  I just kept pushing and by the next loop (4km) my lead was almost 100 meters.  The last 2km was pretty painful....but I toughed it out and maintained my lead.  I finished in 21:07 for 6km- not a super fast time, but for the course it was alright.  My teammate Rachel Cliff was 2nd place- she had an awesome race!!!

The junior men's and women's teams both won gold as well.  Congrats to all of them on stellar performances.  The Senior men were second to the Americans, but kicked ass too.  The trip was lots of fun- what a great group of people! Here's a funny story from the trip....

On Saturday night after the race, I am hanging out in Paula's room (hardest working massage therapist ever!  she's awesome!)  Suddenly 2 of the Junior girls burst in (Natalia and Jillian), both in tears.  What the heck is going on???  Are they ok???  We are very worried! 
Natalia- "It was in hair!!!!  I was asleep and it was crawling in my hair!!!"
Me- "What was in your hair??"
Natalia- "A giant cockroach!!!  Its still in my bed!!!"
Me- "Alright, I'll come down and kill it."
Ok, I am terrified of bugs/spiders, so not quite sure what i was thinking when I said I would come down there and kill the giant cockroach.  Maybe it was the terrified look on Jillian's face.  These girls were not going back to sleep with that cockroach in there.  
We get to the room and I'm thinking there is no way I'm gonna find this thing.  I shake out the blanket, and holy f*ckn shit a giant cockroach falls out!  This thing is massive- like the size of a lighter.  I immediately scream like a little girl and yell out every profanity I know.  And run out of the room.  After about a minute, I compose myself, grab a shoe and go back to kill this thing.  I try to hit it with the shoe, but its too fast for me and crawls under the dresser.....and that was the last time I saw that disgusting thing.  My attempt at helping the girls was pretty pathetic.  We went and found some of the senior men to try and help kill the cockroach, but no one was able to find it.  Jillian and Natalia did not sleep in their room that night.  I would not have either.  I spent 30 mins searching my room before I went to bed that night.  Luckily it was cockroach free....I think....they could have crawled on me when I was asleep- who knows?! 

So besides that unfavourable part of the trip, we had an awesome time.  Even got to go to the beach on the last day.  It was so beautiful!  



Two weeks after Jamaica I competed in an indoor 3000m at the University of Washington on Feb. 9th.  It was my first indoor race in a few years, and I was pretty nervous.  The energy in the Dempsey indoor facility is awesome.  It's such a great place to run, and you just feel excited being in the building!  My goal was to run around 9:10.  I was running in the Invite section so I knew there would be plenty of girls running atleast that fast. So the gun goes off and all 25 girls are elbowing each other for position.  I thought I went out pretty aggresively, but was still mid pack stuck way inside.  I did not like this at all, especially cause it was slow and I was getting jostled around a lot.  Coming through the first lap, my coach yelled at me "to get out of there!!!!"  I found an opening (or should I say, pushed my way through) and got out of the inside pack and surged up to the front.  I ran in about 4th or 5th spot for another lap.  My coach again yelled at me to pick it up and get to the very front.  So I just took the lead out right and went for it.  I felt great, and super strong, so I was ok with leading.  My mile split was 4:50- just ahead of where I wanted to be.  With about 1km to go, a couple of the girls went to pass me, but I pushed back and didn't let them!  Then with 600m to go they tried to pass me again, and I fought them off again.  So with one lap to go (300m) when 3 of them went to pass me again, I just didn't have enough to fight them off.  But, with 200 to go I started my kick and was gaining on the 3 girls.  I passed one right away and then with 100m to go, passed another.  But, I just didn't have enough to catch the last girl and had to settle for 2nd place.  But, hey- I ran a 23 second PB- 9:02.57!!  I was super stoked!!!  I was happy with not only my time, but with how the race went.  It was a good day at the Dempsey.

The day after the indoor 3km was the Vancouver First Half half marathon.  I was signed up to race, but knew it would be a stupid decision to race 21 Km the day after a super hard 3km.  I went to watch anyway, as my run clinic (Port Moody's Kintec Clinic) was participating, along with many of my running friends.  It was really hard being there and not racing!  I was at the start line watching all the elites warming up and I wanted to join them so badly!  I did my long run on the race course (we ran it backwards!) with Rebecca Johnstone, Rachel Cliff and Erica Digby.  It was fun cheering for everyone- such a great energy that morning.  My run clinic peeps did amazing!  So proud of them!  It was also cool to watch my friend Rob Watson win the race- he's a pretty fast guy and has a good blog too.  Not as good or as funny as mine but still worth a read:)-

So now I'm in the middle of a big training block- 4 weeks of no races, just lots of running!  I was sick with a cold last week, but still managed to run my biggest week of mileage this year.  I'm hoping to top that this week!  I've gotten in a couple of pretty wicked workouts in the past few weeks- did 8 X 600m on the track and averaged about 1:42/1:43 (2:30 rest).  I feel like things are coming along well- just gotta stay healthy:) 3 weeks until I leave for Poland- and less then 4 weeks until I race at the World XC championships!!!! 

Exciting news!  My coach and I decided that I'm gonna try the 3000m steeplechase!!!  So I've started doing hurdle drills- and they are going well:)  I'm super pumped to be trying something new.  I'm definitely nervous and scared of the water jump.....I've always wanted to do the we thought why not just give it a try?  YOLO!  lol- yeah I just said that.....hahaha what a nerd I am!  I am still gonna race 5ks and 10ks, and maybe even a few halfs this year, but I still wanna do a 3k steeple!  Its gonna be fun!

Ok this blog is getting ridiculously long, so I'm gonna shut it down.  I do have lot's of other stuff to talk about, but I will save it for another blog!!! 

Happy running everyone!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013- I like you so far!

Wow- its been a crazy January so far!  I don't even know where to start with this blog!  Well, I guess I'll start with my most recent race- PIH (Prairie Inn Harrier) 8km road race in Victoria last weekend (Jan. 13)....seems to have people talking a bit!

This is the third time I have raced the PIH 8km road race.  It's always a well put together race, and lots of fun.  Plus, I'm a PIH member, so I like to come and race their events when I can.  Bob Reid always takes care of me when I come over- he's the best!  Leading up to the race, I didn't really taper or do anything "race prep" like.  I worked a 6 hour serving shift the night before the race and got to bed around 12:30....5am wake-up call came damn early!  I caught the 7am ferry from Vancouver to Victoria with 6 other mainland athletes.  I fell asleep on a bench in the cafeteria.  It was awesome. So was the sunrise that's the pic I took

 Bob Reid picked us up at the ferry terminal and drove us to the race course, where we still had an hour to kill before starting warm-ups.  It was about 1C- a bit sunny with some cloud.  But absolutely no wind, which was nice.  Warm-up went well- had fun chatting with Erin Burrett.  We've been racing each other since elementary school- pretty cool that we are still running buddies.

I didn't really have any big expectations for this race.  I knew that I was fit and ready to run fast- but this wasn't a big deal race, so I wasn't too concerned- just wanted to have fun racing. I figured I could run about 27 mins.  When the race started I felt surprisingly good- very peppy.  I was excited to be out racing again.  Here is the race run down-

1km- 3:00- fast, but downhill.
2km- 6:13- flat- feeling good. surprised that km was so fast.
3km- 9:33- uphill- felt awesome going up the hill- passed a lot of guys.  Hoping Idon't slow down!
4km- not sure...12:??...was surprised with how fast I was running.  First time I thought that I might be able to break the course record- 26:08.
5km- nice downhill- 15:48- this is when I was like holy shit.  That was a 24 second 5k PB.  WTF is going on?  Am I gonna die horribly and not be able to finish?  Did I go out way to hard?  I was a bit worried, but still felt really good.  Just kept trying to pass the boys.
6km- slight uphill- 18:59.  OK- only 2km to go!  I can do this! Still feeling smooth. I caught up to my friend Kris Swanson, who said he would help me run the last few Kms.  I said that would be awesome- lets work together!
7km- slight downhill.  Didn't get this split.  I'm starting to hurt now.  Kris is getting a few steps on my now.  I know that the last km is all up hill.  Hold it together Tasha!
8km- 25:28- yay!  Complete and total shock as I cross the finish line.  Did I really just run that time?  And of course I'm thinking- sweet I just broke the course record $1000 bonus! yes! lol

Here is the interview I did with Chris Kelsall of Athletics Illustrated about an hour after my race:)

Highlight video of the race- thanks Athletics Illustrated!

After the race, I got in a good warm down with Erin B, Sabrina and Mark Wilkie.  My I.T. band was hurting, and I was a bit worried....but it's been all good this week (thanks to my fabulous massage therapist Danielle Mah from Impulse Sport Therapeutics).  This has been a crazy week.  I'm still on a high from my new PB, course record and apparently (not confirmed)- Canadian 8k record!  I am super stoked to see what this season has in store for me:)

So following the race I've been getting the same questions again and again-
"Was the course short?"- NO
"Are you on drugs?" (check out the feed....people are assholes!) - NO!  Unless you consider wine a drug.  I like to drink my fair share of wine:)
"How did you run so fast?"- please see the interview I did for Canadian Running for complete answer-

One thing I didn't mention in the interview that I think is very important is BALANCE!  You can't be all about running all the time.  You have to have other things going on in your life- work, friends, family, fun!  If you only concentrate on running fast you become obsessed with every last detail- not a good idea. I believe that I have a lot of balance in my life- while running is my number one priority- its not my only priority.  I have a lot of other stuff going on.  Speaking of other stuff, I had some fun times this past week.

We did a girls trip to Harrison Hot Springs.  I felt bad for all the couples in the Hot Springs trying to have romantic time, while 7 of us crazy girls were drinking wine from the box and being all sorts of loud and inappropriate.  It was so much fun- I may have even jumped in the pool in my fleece!
 While we had a crazy good time, I also got in a good run the next day- it was so beautiful up there.

Also went to my pretty awesome staff party this week and celebrated my friend Kim's 30th Bday with a fabulous dinner at the Firehall Bistro this past Saturday.

So next up is NACAC XC Champs in Jamaica....I leave tomorrow morning!  I am super excited, and nervous of course.  I know that I am fit and ready to run fast....just gotta keep my head in the game.  I'll blog about the trip when I get back! 

Gotta go pack!  Have a great weekend!