Corona Marathon 2020

After completing my second full marathon in Chicago in October, I had the marathon bug. My sister and I signed up for Paris Marathon, set to take place on April 5, 2020. We were so excited!

As we all know, a lot has changed since then. The Covid 19 pandemic set in and one by one, races started being cancelled, Paris included. I felt a bit bummed, I had put in a pretty solid training cycle and was ready to race. Now I felt like my training had gone to waste. Social distancing protocols were in place and I could no longer run with my BRF (Tom), or join in at a BLT Runners group run. I needed to do something for myself, to ignite a new spark and remind myself that training pays off no matter what.

On March 28, I woke up very early and tied up my running shoes. My dad set up a makeshift water and gel station outside my building, knowing I would pass it multiple times. I ran 42.2 kilometres through the streets that surrounded my home. With the intent of staying close to home to a) limit exposure and b) be able to have a drink when I needed one, I completed over 14 laps of the same course.

Things were pretty easy at first, the temperature was cool, the loop was a bit hilly, but nothing I couldn’t handle, and my legs felt fresh. Around 30k the pain started to set in. At this distance, you can really feel the difference between running on asphalt streets, and running on concrete sidewalks. The sidewalks were hard (especially on the knees) and the hills started to bother me. Nevertheless, I continued on.

The next 12.2 kilometres felt like they went on forever. Thankfully, I had my music, but being alone with my thoughts meant I had nearly nothing to distract me from the pain. I am used to 50 000 other runners, tens of thousands of spectators, new cities, new streets, smiling faces and so on. But all I had that day was a playlist on repeat, my thoughts, my dad every few kilometres and the finish line I pictured in my head.

Eventually, I reached the finish. I had two big blisters, my legs were exhausted and so was my mind. I was proud of my physical strength, but more importantly my mental strength in this moment. I had always been the kind of person who needed a running buddy, because when I went out alone I gave up on myself too easily or got in my head. I had just done 42.2 kilometres alone. There was no big finish line, no chip time, no fancy medal (although I did get a makeshift one!!!) but I did it anyways. I was so lucky to have friends and family who made the day so special (from a distance). I learned so many valuable lessons that day. The glitz and glamour of running a big marathon was taken away and I got down to the core of running the distance of a marathon, and fell in love with it all over again.

Make shift medal! Thank you anna ❤️

It was important for me to do this. And it’s important for you to do it too. It doesn’t have to be running, it doesn’t have to be a marathon, but do the thing that scares you and do it with pride. Be proud of yourself, every step, every bit of small progress, and every day you get out the door, because eventually it leads to a moment you will never forget. I am so grateful I got out the door on March 28th and did something I didn’t know I could accomplish on my own.

Corona Marathon 2020 is complete! ❤️

Berlin Marathon 2019 & Chicago Marathon 2019

Hey everyone!

Fall racing season has come to a close and I’ve had some time to process my thoughts about my two big fall goal races.

First race was on September 29th, and was the Berlin Marathon. This was my first full marathon, and I was so grateful to have Anna run with me. We mostly wanted to have fun, knowing we had to run the Chicago Marathon just two weeks later. We lined up in our corral around 10am (which was a bit of a late start). We wore our ponchos and throw aways for a while as it was quite cold and you could tell it was going to rain. There was a great energy at the start line, you could feel the anticipation. The announcer had us dancing, jumping, clapping and before you knew it we were off, with Canada flags on our face and matching outfits (of course).

The first half of the course went by pretty quickly, and we agreed we’d never complain about having to run a half marathon again (haha). Our fuelling and hydration strategy was going perfectly. Only downfall at this point in the race was the pouring rain. I could feel the blisters accumulating on my toes and my toenails getting looser and looser. We powered on!

The next half wasn’t so easy, but we stayed as strong as we could. Two things that kept me going; we had printed/laminated a copy of every single person who donated to our marathon fund and read the names out loud each kilometre, so we knew who we were running that kilometre for. It helped break up the kilometres, forced us to take them one at a time, and made us think about our loved ones who helped us get where we were. Secondly, my garmin was connected to my phone, so every time I got an encouraging message it would come across my watch. Tom, Ian, Marg, Jesse, my family, and many others were tracking us from Halifax and sending encouraging messages along the course. This helped greatly!

At kilometre 42, the rain, nor the blisters, mattered anymore. The end was in sight. We powered through and crossed the line together. I was so proud of myself and so proud of my sister. What an accomplishment. We got our ponchos and medals, and called our loved ones before taking the train back to the hotel. We were in bed by 8pm.

The next two weeks were spent recovering, relaxing, and eating. I went on a few small walks to keep the legs moving but nothing difficult.

Next up on the list was Chicago Marathon, which was on October 13th. Again, I was lucky enough to have my sister with me but this time we also got the pleasure of having our dad come on the trip with us too. We had a lot of fun at the expo, eating great food, going on a boat tour and spending time together before the big day.

The day before the race, the temperatures dropped and we realized we did not have adequate clothing, so we (alongside 50 000 other runners) flooded the stores of Chicago to buy every store out of all the gloves they had in stock. We started at 8:30 am this time (much better). We were early to our corrals, took some pictures and then huddled to stay warm.

The race started and I was full of energy. So was the city. The spectators were incredible, 10 rows deep in most spots. At kilometre 5, when I was getting my mojo, I fell on a bridge. My hands and knees were banged up and my mental game was thrown off. I got up and tried to shake it off. Not long after that, Anna and I separated as she stopped to use the bathroom. This was tough for me, as I had ran the entire last marathon with her beside me. I kept as much mental strength as I could. Shortly after I separated from Anna, my AirPods died (sigh). Now it was just me, my thoughts and the crowd. I was around the 30k mark, where things get tough, especially alone. I forced myself to put a big goofy smile on my face, and listened to the cheering crowds, taking everything in. One spectator told me I was “the happiest marathon runner they’d ever seen”. This gave me the boost of energy I needed to get to the finish. I was feeding off of the crowd. I stayed as strong as I could, and crossed the finish line with a 9 minute marathon PR, despite all of my setbacks.

I got my poncho, medal and beer, and called my loved ones. The feeling of completing two world marathon majors in two weeks, earning a pr in the second one, was enough to make me forget about the pain, blisters, bruises, headphones, falls, and whatever else came my way on the course. We had a delicious dinner with our #1 fan, our dad, and again we went to bed by 9pm. We wore our medals around the entire next day, picked up some finisher merch from Nike, and ate a ton. I can hands down say Chicago is one of my favourite cities.

I learned a few things during these races.

1. Go for your dreams. A year ago I would’ve never thought I could run a marathon. But a lot of hard work and a positive mind set made literally ANYTHING possible.

2. Reach out to those around you – support from your family, friends, running buddies, coach, etc.. make all the difference during a tough race.

3. Be proud of every single step you took. In training, and in racing. YOU got yourself to where you are today. You had a goal and you chased it, and it paid off. Never stop setting goals.

Lastly, a huge thank you to the people who made this race possible.

🖤Our 42 supporters, who donated to our fund, making these trips possible.

🖤Leanne, my physiotherapist, for keeping me in one piece and getting me injury free to the start line.

🖤Ian, my coach, for guiding me, supporting me and helping me finish my first full marathon.

🖤My family, Dad, Mum, Alex, Harriette & the girls

🖤My darling sister, Anna, who is a constant source of encouragement, inspiration, and love. I am so proud of you.

🖤My running friends from Team Myles and BLT Runners, your support keeps me going and keeps me strong.

🖤My second family, Marg, Jesse, Alisha & Tom, who understand that I am always tired, always hungry and usually sore, but love and support me anyways.

🖤Every other single person who has wished me luck, congratulated me, supported me, encouraged me, and helped me become the best version of myself.

I am a marathoner.

Montreal 1/2 Marathon

Hey everyone! I’m packing up in Montreal and heading home to Halifax. The weekend flew by and was so fun, emotional and rewarding. The past few months of my life have been spent training for this day and I’m so grateful for the race I had.

We flew in Friday, and I used the 5k Saturday as my final shakeout run! It was FREEZING cold, and pouring rain. My outfit changed last minute to stay warm so I wasn’t able to wear my BLT singlet 😦

It was great to be able to slow down and enjoy the course. I ran without music, and got to take in the marching band at KM 2, and the tunnel of screaming fans at KM 3! Some more spectators had confetti cannons and cheered louder than I’d ever heard before! It was an awesome day (especially the warm shower afterwards).

Sunday morning came quickly and I was SO nervous. Coach Ian had me training for a 4 minute PB based on my time at Hypothermic Half Marathon in January. I had been chatting with Tara, another runner from Halifax (shoutout MVR!), about how nervous I was and how badly I wanted it. She was amazing in calming my nerves and making me trust my training.

As if that wasn’t enough, when I saw Tara at the start line on Sunday she decided to run with me. Tara’s decision to stick with me through my race was beyond generous, and made every step easier. Tears before I even started!

It was a cold morning but we ran hard, and Tara checked in with me every few kilometres to make sure I was still doing okay. The course being mostly flat was taking a toll on my legs! I was actually praying for a hill so I could use different muscles (and who ever prays for a hill?). Once we got around 18km I realized that I had the PB in the bag and the tears began once again. I turned down the music, took in the sights, and reflected on my last few months of training. Speed work with BLT made a huge difference in my success during this race.

The last 3 kilometres were tough, but when I crossed the line 3 minutes before my goal, earning a 6 minute half marathon PB, every single step became worth it. I saw Jesse near the finish line waving and cheering me on and was overwhelmed with emotion!

I earned so much bling (5k medal, 21k medal, and a special spinning medal for doing both!)

It was such an awesome weekend, I got to spend it doing what I love the most. A huge thank you to Tara, Jesse, my family and friends, Team Myles, coach Ian and the rest of BLT Runners. I couldn’t have done it without all of you❤️

Runners Redemption

This weekend was a double race weekend for me!

I started it off with a 5:30 am wake up call on Saturday. Anna and I drove two hours to Amherst to race the Amherst Valentine 10k!

The weather was less than ideal, with strong winds and rain and BIG puddles all over the road. Within 1km my feet were soaked. However the weather, nor the hills were able to slow me down yesterday! I raced myself to a 21 minute PB in the 10km distance, and a 29 minute course PB.

We took a couple of photos, got out of our soaking wet clothes and took the two hour drive home (I pretty much didn’t stop smiling the whole way home)

On Sunday, I ran in the Frostbite 5 miler. This was a big one for me. Although it is a small local race, I took a DNF in this race last year. I had ran the 10km in Amherst the day before the 5 miler last year, and the pain of falling on ice mixed with my lack of physical fitness made the 5 miler the next day practically impossible. I dropped out 2km in and felt completely defeated. So this year was a comeback story! I did the race just to prove to myself that I could do it.

I did it! I finished strong and felt good the entire race, and got a time that I was happy with! A lot of fellow BLT members participated as well, including coach Ian who won! The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm which made for a perfect race day.

Overall, this was a strong weekend for me. Getting a 10k PB and completing a course that I couldn’t do one year ago reminded me how far I’ve come over the past year. I got the Runners Redemption that I sought after, and can’t wait to see what other improvements I can make this year!

Lots of Smiles and Happy Miles,

Avery

Hypothermic Half Marathon Race Recap

Today’s Hypothermic Half Marathon was a success! I woke up at 6 and was at the race site by 7:20 am.

Started out the day by picking up my chip, using the washroom one last time and meeting up with Heather and Marg who kept me warm in their car!!!

When the race started, I met up with long time running friend and Team Myles mentor Nicole, who didn’t register for the race; but agreed to pace me in hopes of getting a PB! We started the climb up the Chain of Lakes trail, with 5.2 km to go until the first turn around point. Our pace was on point for this first segment, which was awesome since it is all up hill!

At the first turn around point, we felt strong and fast as we came down the hill. At this point, we were flying! Hitting paces I hadn’t seen on my Garmin before and it felt almost effortless.

At the second turn around point we had to climb up the dreaded hill again, but I ate a GU, turned my music up a bit louder and got it done! Having Nicole with me and knowing no matter how fast I went she’d be beside me really gave me the mental push I needed to stay strong on the hills. Before I knew it, we were at the final turn around and only had to come 5.2km downhill to finish (and we were on pace for a major PB).

I swigged some water at the final water stop and passed by Anna who yelled out “YOU ARE GOING TO GET A MASSIVE PB!” which helped me to keep my pace up on the home stretch. Minutes later, I was flying down the finishing chute with tears in my eyes; a MAJOR PB was in sight!

I crossed the line with a 24 minute 18 second PB. WHAT THE HECK!!!! I couldn’t possibly be more excited!

I exchanged hugs with Nicole (thank you so much) and met up with Anna and my mom and brother who were at the finish line!

After the race, I went home and showered and then met up with Anna, Marg, Heather, Hillary, Annie and Sarah for the finishers brunch at the Atlantica hotel. It was so yummy and so well deserved after a hard race in freezing temperatures!

I couldn’t be more thankful for Nicole, who helped me accomplish what I did today; and to all of my running friends and training partners who make this such a fun sport!!!

Lots of Smiles and Happy Miles,

Avery

How It Started

Back in January of 2018, I texted my sister Anna and asked her to join the “Learn to Run 5k” program with me at the Bedford Running Room. She agreed, and a week later we were at our first group run on a cold and windy night. I made it about five minutes into the run, and then stopped and walked the rest of the way because my legs were hurting so bad. I was so far behind the group, and felt so defeated. I never returned to that group, and put all my running gear up for sale. I was at my heaviest weight and emailed running room to let them know that I didn’t think the program was within the range of my current fitness level. (duh.. it’s called a learn to run)

Weeks later, a friend of mine Melina suggested that we sign up for the Hypothermic 10 Miler. I hesitated, as I remembered the pain I felt my first night and had no training; but agreed when she said we could do a walk/run pattern and go at my pace. Running/walking with Melina was amazing. She was strong, fit, motivational and caring and she stuck by my side the entire race (and trust me.. it took forever). She ignited something in me that just wasn’t there the first night at running room.

Fast forward a few weeks, I saw a post on Facebook via the Blue Nose Marathon about a program called Team Myles. This program takes in beginner runners and coaches them through a full training program; preparing them to run the 5km or 10km race at the Blue Nose Marathon. This consisted of run/walk intervals, longer runs and hill nights; as well as GoodLife memberships, yoga classes and nutritional help. (A huge thank you to our sponsors, you rock!)

I wrote in a submission, and to my surprise got selected. I was so excited to properly train for something for the first time. Except… I didn’t. My weight and shin splits ruined almost every run for me, I didn’t go to the gym, I didn’t take nutritional advice, and I didn’t go to one single yoga class. Why? Because the pain in my legs was too much for me to handle. Coaches Leanne, Jeanette and Cindy kept me motivated to show up to group runs and push through as much pain as I could but that was about all the effort I put in. On race day, I pretty much walked the entire 10km race but with a very special friend. I was still at my heaviest weight; so unfit and so unmotivated. Luckily, the mental and emotional support you receive from this team is like no other.. so even though I struggled every time we ran, I still somehow looked forward to it every time we met up. This program changed my life and I want to take a moment to thank coach Leanne, Jeannette and coach Cindy, our mentors; mine in particular (Melissa Crane) and every single sponsor that invested in our team to get us ready for race day.

After racing all summer with lacklustre results and continued shin pain, I figured hey! Maybe I should try and take the advice every. single. one of my coaches and mentors had given me. Cross training, and improved nutrition! In the end of July, I began a journey that transformed my life in a way I could have never imagined. I began cross training (swimming, biking, weight lifting) and eating a healthier diet. Over the course of 5 months I have lost 40 pounds, taken 18 minutes off of my initial 5k time, 28 minutes off of my 10k time, ran a half marathon (with another coming up on Sunday!) and completed a triathlon (all without a single pain in my shin!!!!!). It was miraculous what being healthier, fitter, stronger and lighter could do for my running. 37 races done in 2018!

My running focused training during these five months is credited to the BLT Runners; a group that focuses on timed training so runners of different paces start and finish each run at the same time. I received incredible support from this group, and trained along side them for my first half marathon. I am looking forward to continuing my training with them!!!

So here I am, 1 year after my running journey started and 5 months after my fitness journey started and I couldn’t be more in love with running. This year, I will tackle more half marathons and two full marathons, Berlin and Chicago, which are 2/6 World Major Marathons. I want to give a special shout out to those who keep me going including my sister Anna, the wonderful Marg Organ, and the rest of my running and non running family.

Lots of Love and Happy Miles,

Avery