berlin marathon recap

Been there, done that (didn’t get the tshirt).

The Berlin Marathon has come and gone. My seventh full marathon and my third of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors – halfway there!

The adventure started last year, probably just days after finishing the Wineglass Marathon. I was riding a high and my friend Kristin asked me what’s next. She seemed interested in doing a full and when I said: “perhaps Berlin? (wink wink)” she replied yaas! Kristin had recently moved to Ottawa and the thought of reuniting in Berlin sounded like a fabulous idea. We casually mentioned this crazy plan to our friend Jenna and she said: “count ME in!” so we submitted our names into the lottery. But sadly, as with most big races, the lottery can be a pain – we entered as a team which meant we’d either all get in or none of would and guess what, we didn’t get in. After a bit of googling and whining, we found a travel agent that had guaranteed entries if we committed to booking our flights with her and just like that, we were back in the race!

Time to train. One thing I did which made a huge difference in the way I run was hiring a coach. A friend of Jenna’s who owns New Leaf Endurance signed us on a gave us a week-by-week plan offering feedback and advice with each run. It was similar to other plans I’ve used but having everything recorded, examined and Strava’d made me much more accountable. Tempos, intervals, easy effort, hills, etc. were things I never really focused on so this was a great test. It was also a treat to do most of the long runs with Jenna (for my other six marathons, I did all of my running alone with the exception of a few biking support friends). Despite this all, training, however, was rough. My body was a big jerk all summer (my butt hurt so much, I could barely walk) but a little physio and a lot of stretching managed to get me through it, only missing a solid week of running in July.

Goals. Of course I wanted a personal best (3:45) and of course, I want a Boston qualifying time (sub 3:43) but mostly I wanted to enjoy Berlin. The New York City Marathon should have been an amazing experience but I didn’t enjoy it because my race did not go as great as I had hoped. This time, I really wanted to focus on a good run and be realistic about the size of the race and the distance we were traveling. As training wrapped up, I was even less interested in a PB and BQ and just hoped to make it to the finish. My body did not feel great (hips, lower back, a rolled ankle mishap) but I kept my concerns on the down-low and stocked up on Ibuprofen… I knew I’d be lucky to get a sub-4 hour and just hoped for the best, after all, a 42-kilometer tour of Berlin is still pretty cool, even if it’s walking not running!

We arrived in Berlin on Thursday giving us a few days to adjust to the five-hour time change and an opportunity to explore the city. There were two short runs before the race and it was a great opportunity to see the neighborhood and shake-out the legs.

We visited the race expo and picked up our bibs and there was even a Nova Scotia reunion with a quick photo op.

On Saturday, there was a mini-marathon for the kids. Jenna and Kristin’s boys ran in the age 4 group and David did an 800-metre dash in the 9-10 age group, placing third. He was pretty stoked.

Race Day. Because of our submission times, we were all slotted in different start blocks which sucked but since Jenna and I ran all summer together, I bumped back to her block and decided to run together. We run very similar and knew we could give each other a sub-4 finish. It’s a surreal experience to know you are running in a race with the likes of Eliud Kipchoge and Gladys Cherono but it’s even more insane to know there are +40,000 other people running around the city just hoping to have a great day.

Our block started at 9:45. Already sunny and about 11 degrees which is pretty decent but a lot warmer than last year’s 1 degree start at the Wineglass. Our plan was to hold a 5:20-5:40 average pace and avoid water stops for the first half (we carried water) and I must say we did a really good job and maintaining this pace. I knew my parents (who have been at almost all of my big races! xox) would be on the sideline around 7 km and there they were. All of the kids and husbands were at the 13 km sideline and my parents, aunt, and uncle were at 15 km. Things were going great and the course was beautiful and loud – so many drums and cheerleaders and non-stop spectating.

Just past halfway, our water bottles were empty so we decided to start using the water stations. They were INSANE – plastic crunchy cups, pushing, shoving, total chaos and then it happened… around 25 km I lost Jenna. I thought she was behind me at the water station so I stopped and waited… then ran, then stopped, then ran. With no luck, I realized I had to move on and finish alone. I picked up my pace again and hoped she was okay. I’m not going to lie, I lost my oomph and was out of sorts but I just kept moving forward. When I saw our family at 36 km I frantically yelled: “have you seen Jenna!” and they replied that she was ahead… what?!? My initial reaction was to speed up but then I realized that was dumb, I still had 6 km to go and I had to run my own race.

I moved along at a decent pace but I was hot. The temperature warmed up a lot and I grabbed two cups at every station, pouring one over my head and drinking the other. I was a soggy mess but once I made the final turn and saw the Brandenburg Gates, I knew it was almost over.

My final time was 3:56:19 – once second faster than Chicago, making it my second fastest marathon. I’ll take it! I waddled my way to the family waiting area and found Jenna. I was so excited to hear she finished in 3:54 and then Kristin came and she finished in 3:58!  Let me just say, these two girls are super-strong, both having just had their second babies and deciding to train for a marathon while working and raising two kids under the age of five is amazing.

World records were broken that day but so were PBs for these two and I could not be more pleased.

Looking back at my stats, I am most happy that we kept a pretty consistent pace. I can easily see when I slowed down and waited, and near the end, I can see all of the water stations stops but things never got out of control. The Berlin Marathon is a beautiful course and the crowds were thick the whole way. The finish is the prettiest yet but my only complaint is there’s NO FREE T-SHIRT. Common, at least give us that for the money we paid.

So, what’s next? I’m ready to move on to the next adventure: A spring marathon (#fortybeforeforty). I think I’ll dial it back and do smaller race but right now, my goal is to work on adding some swimming into my life.

Thanks, J & K for a great time!

a final 10 things for 2017

My motto for 2018 is: it doesn’t have to be perfect, to be great.

(I am mostly talking about dinner parties but we can toss family, friends, work and life in there too)

Before we binge on Netflix and polish off the last of our holiday booze this New Year’s Eve, let’s take a look at my top 10 posts for 2017:

1o: Taking stock: March: My brief attempt at posting monthly “life-lately” and “taking stock” recaps had a boom in March… but then life got busy and the first to be sacrificed were these guys.

9: holy **** I finished whole30November! Talking about the Whole30 was a hit, too bad I won’t be doing that craziness again.

8: Ten-year *itch: A somewhat gloomy mid-summer slump.

7: Week 1. Done: A recap of my first week on the Whole30.

* honourable mention, the 2015 let’s taco bout a party post is still getting a bunch of visits, it came in at the 6th most read post in 2017. People really do love talking about tacos.

6: Okay, maybe I can…: After talking about things I hate, my “10 things I was not loving… but now I am”  post seemed to help mend friendships.

5: Wineglass marathon recap: Who doesn’t love reading long posts about other people’s long runs?

4: 30 whole days: The beginning of the Whole30, when things felt exciting and optimistic.

3: SUMMER starts nowish: The annual “100 days of Summer Bucket List” is always a favourite to write and attempt.

2: Forty before forty: As this is my second most-read-post, the pressure is on to execute and perform. I have 1.5 years to finish!

and the most read post of 2017…

1: I just can’t: I love that my snarky list of “10 things I can’t get behind” was my most popular post. What does that say about me? What does that say about you? What does that say about minivans?

Thanks to everyone who read, commented, pretended to read, bought a calendar and even those who accidentally landed here and couldn’t leave… It’s been fun! Shall we say a goodbye 2017 – Catch you on the flip side (The Atlantic)

psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg

wineglass marathon recap

Also known as the day my music died.

It’s been a little over a week since the Wineglass Marathon and I’m finally writing a recap. As always, it’s long and painful just like a marathon but I hope it is handy for all the Googling marathoners out there who are looking for their next race and landed here. Afterall, it’s other people’s race recaps that influence me to sign up for stuff like this in the first place.

After running last year’s New York City Marathon, I needed to find something totally different. As much as I loved the big city experiences of Chicago and New York, I wanted to go back to something smaller and less overwhelming but yet a bit bigger than PEI. My sister Erin, who lives in upstate New York, mentioned the Wineglass Marathon so I looked into it and it met all of my requirements:

  1. Smallish (3,000 runners in the full).
  2. Early start (8:15 am) and minimal travel to the start (our hotel was 2 minutes from the shuttle bus drop-off).
  3. Great route (flat and point-to-point). I should clarify that there is no wine on course… a lot of people asked me that! 

With all of these factors in place, I decided to sign up despite being slightly injured in the Spring but with physio, training started off better than expected. I set my goals prior to a marathon:

  1. Sign up, show up.
  2. Finish.
  3. Finish sub-four hours.
  4. Get a new personal best! I would need to be under 3:56.

Unfortunately, early into training I stupidly bruised the arch of my foot doing jump squats on and off a curb and my training got slightly derailed. I cut back on my mileage and went back to physio. There were many times I thought about deferring but kept running as much as possible and decided to show up and do my best. By the end of 18 weeks, I got in a few good long runs and things we feeling okay.

Race weekend

The Wineglass Marathon is in New York (state) and the finish is only 45 minutes from my sister’s house so I was excited about being close to family and the beautiful Finger Lake region of New York did not disappoint!

I flew to my sister’s on Friday morning and with my parents also in town, it was fun and stress-free leading up to the event. Erin’s friend Tara, who was running the half, flew in from England on the same day so we all chilled in Binghamton and went to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning before making our way to Corning. We got our race kits and drove to the small town of Bath where the race starts. Although the Corning is bigger, I prefer being as close as possible to the start line and booked a hotel as soon as I registered for the race. This was a smart decision because there were limited accommodations options in Bath. A not so smart decision was thinking I was the only one with the idea of having a carb-happy Italian dinner in the cute town just a few miles outside of Bath. There were about 1,000 runners with the same idea but luckily we found a great tavern and chowed down before checking-in at the Super 8. My sister introduced me to her friend Nick who was also running the full so it was nice to see a familiar face at the starting line.

Race morning arrived (as usual, with little sleep and lots of anxiety). It was cold (about 1 degree Celsius) but I put on my shorts and tank-top, knowing I’d warm-up once I got going. As I mentioned above, I love this start time. I was able to stay in bed until 6:00 am, got up and took my time getting ready – ate a bagel, popped some Advil, drank a coffee and water and layered up. Erin and mom drove me to the shuttle bus at 7:15 am and I reluctantly left them and the warm car. The bus ride (which is a requirement) to the start was less than 10 minutes. There were tons of porta-potties and they opened-up industrial garages for us to congregate in (heat!). Bag check was super-easy too – with about 5 minutes to go, I pulled off all my layers, stuffed them in the bag and lined up right behind the 3:55 pace bunny.

The goal was to stick with the bunny, eat my chews and hydrate early.

About 1 km into the race I felt great and decided to jump to the 3:50 pace group. About 1.5 km into the race by shuffle died. I spent the next 2-3 km totally distracted trying to get the music to work but also felt great and was pumped to see my sister and mom early on. I threw them my arm warmers but kept my gloves on. It warmed up to about 7 degrees at the sun came out about halfway through. I was grateful that David gave me his lucky hat and promised me it’d give me speed!

About 5 km into the race I still felt great, having just climbed the only significant hill in the race and decided to jump ahead to the 3:45 pace group. Without music, it was nice to listen to the conversations and since it was a very rural course, the crowds were pretty quiet most of the time. I stuck with the group for the next 15 km and I was remembering to hydrate, the road was fairly flat and there were lots of nice country views. As we approached the half, I hesitantly moved ahead of the group but not by much. I just needed some me-space and was excited to see my mom and sister again at 22 km.

The rest of the race went by fast – I still felt good but started walking through the water stations. As per usual, things start to hurt but nothing significant. I never saw the 3:45 pace group pass me and although I was walking the water stations, I caught up to the runner’s that passed me. Without music, I spent a lot of time trying to predict my finish… but I honestly had no idea if it was going to fall apart. Finally, when I thought I still have a few kilometers to go, I realized I was at 41 km and the finish was just over the bridge! Not sure how that happened but I kicked into gear and pushed hard for a strong finish. Now, it was no New York or Chicago but running down the final stretch of Main Street and seeing my sister, mom, dad, brother-in-law, Tara and my niece and nephew in the crowd was awesome. I threw out some high-fives and finished!

The medal is the prettiest yet (glass of course). I saw Nick again at the finish:

They had chocolate milk, coffee, bananas, pizza and soup (to name few) and a PB bell plus a place to get an instant print out of your results.

After catching my breath and calling Mike and David, we made our way home.

Guys, I can’t say enough good things about this race. It was near perfect. If you are looking for a great smallish race that’s early in the fall this is it! There are not a lot of turns, it’s very flat with a few small rollers and there is very minimal congestion. The only small negatives would be the road is not fully closed-off to traffic so the pylons are a little obstructive (a poor guy fell over one and broke his nose…) and there is not a ton of crowd support because of the limited cheering locations. My mom and sister (bless them) were cheering for the half and full, which made for a lot of crazy back-and-forths but still managed to see me three times.

I hope this is helpful for anyone thinking about the Wineglass.


Oh, but wait, there’s more! I almost forgot to talk about the swag! A long-sleeve tech shirt, a wine glass and some celebratory champagne. That’s the icing on the cake!

And with my new PB, that’s a check off the forty before forty bucket list! Now I need to think about a spring marathon. Let me know if you have any recommendations. 😉

psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg

life lately

June had some highs and lows but now we’re well into July so here’s life lately:

Birthday dinner at Eliot and Vine with Mike:

David performed at the school variety show with his friends. They did some beatboxing:

Birthday treats from Kristin!

International Running Day was on my birthday!

Henry got a haircut and a festive bandana:

Picking colours for my new office space:

Morning views from Point Pleasant Park:
Volunteering on course at the Youth Running Series. Fact: Boys, ages 6-9 are the least likely to stay on course:

Dinner at the Shore Club with Kristin Josh and Noah before the left for Ottawa:

Celebrating birthdays:

Views on the drive home: 

Neighbour love: 

Spotted at Frenchy’s:

We have a crow problem:

I’m not an Instagram stories person, but I’ve starred in some…

Who else has a boss that texts photos like these? A perk to working on a photo shoot:

Then my office sent Mike a t-shirt and he wanted to give modeling a try:

Elissa and I went for a run around Dartmouth:

Nancy and Carl sent me a coffee package from Arizona: 

Attended a Sunday afternoon macramé workshop with Amanda and my mom:

June was pretty:
I love this facade:

I tamed a wild rose:

Roaming around the Public Gardens:

Congratulations Josh, let’s celebrate your success!

A rainy night at soccer practice:

Which ended with a rainbow:

Our annual evening at the Public Gardens watching the prom:

Followed by our first visit to the Stillwell Beergarden:

Andrea was in town, we tried to recall the time we went camping 15ish years ago… there are a lot of missing details:

Another day at the track for David’s tetrathlon – 60m sprint, shot put, long jump, 600m:

Henry on the green:

My neighbour Cindy has given me more flowers this year than Mike…

Teacher gifting. I hope she’s into bullet journaling:

School’s out for summer!

Celebrating the end of grade two on the waterfront: 

You know you’re marathon training when you have this many steps by 9:00 am on a Friday:

Happy 150 Canada!

We really upped the hat game this year:

There were a lot of firetrucks and family in this year’s parade. My cousin Anne is a volunteer firefighter in Pugwash. Her son Reece and my cousin Emma represented my aunt’s recycling depot float. David and my dad were with the Friends of the Pugwash Estuary.

Not so cheap thrills (aka fairs):

Zero Gravity = barf

Spectating at the Highland Games:

Selfie with a lobster trap… it was on my list:

Derby racing is a big thing in Pugwash:

A very wet run on along the country roads and trails near my parents. The big puddle is the trail:

Long run done. Time to have fun:

Golfing was on my summer bucket list…it took us +4 hours to do nine holes, which I hear is a long time. Oh well, it was a beautiful course and we had fun:

My best shot was over the ravine and on the green in one hit!

David went camping with my parents in PEI:

The Halifax waterfront on an early morning foggy run:

Erin and I went to an outdoor movie at the Chicken Burger in Bedford. Footloose and fancy-free:

Another track meet. David loves being in a running group:

That’s a wrap. I’ll be back again.

psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg

life lately

May is done. Yay! Here’s life lately:

Supporting the locals, supporting cider:
You bet I watched the whole thing:

The annual 24hr. eco-endurance challenge was a bit more challenging this year without mom and Alice but once Jill and I got the compass settings figured out, we were good to go!
Our first follow-a-baring while bushwhacking adventure was a success, we found the trail: We also found Sarah and Trevor, who were great companions for the afternoon:Check point:Up on the knoll:This trail was actually a very wet swamp:Driving through Bridgewater and I spotted a yard sale. 9 out of 10 times, Mike does not pullover when I yell ‘YARDSALE!”…
Leah joined the Youth Running Series this season:David has moved up to the next age group – he’s hoping for a top 10 finish this season and is doing well:He also joined the YHZ run club and gets to do fun things like track meets:The 60m dash: Third overall:The long jump – second overall: The 600m race – first overall:Not shown – Shot Put, third overall. Final score, third overall in the Tetrathlon for ages 8-9. We celebrated at the Armview: Mother’s Day breakfast in bed: Mother’s Day morning at Point Pleasant Park: Henry doing a little shell-shucking:Mother’s Day selfie:
Signs of Spring on Cabot Street: The leaves are out:And the flowers are blooming:
Plus Mike got the trampoline up – Can you tell he’s in the Insurance business. No kid is suing us! We were spoiled with a few really warm days and I was spoiled with a lunch date with Sarah at Dee Dee’s:Bluenose weekend! David and I ran the 5km together:
We finished under 25 minutes, which is pretty awesome since it’s the furthest he’s ever run: 

Victoria Day Discovery Centre adventure: Blue skies:The innovation room is pretty cool:
And so is the theatre space. He’s practicing for his school talent show:We had lunch at Tomavinos Pizza. Fun fact, Tomavinos is where Mike and I had our first date:Sushi with Sarah, Georgina and Amanda before the I Love The 90’s Tour:
Sarah got us some fun tees for the night:
I am pretty sure this was during All-4-One’s set:Cabot Trail Relay time! Baddeck, such a charmer:
True:What’s leg 1 without Beerbox Head? Elissa running the hills like no big deal: Day 1 was very wet and very cold. Very Cape Breton:I spy Steph in wearing the Team 71 singlet:
Day 2 was sunny. Still at little cold at 6:30 am: The early morning cheering squad – relays involve car sharing, hotel sharing and even kid sharing: The end of leg 17. I did it:Our team (all but Jon)! 18th overall, 8th place for a mixed team:Election Day:Yup.
Tuesday nights are Spin and Barre nights at Cyclone – Kristin teaches and I go! We celebrated her last night with Amanda and Robyn at the Highwayman for post-workout drinks. The Garden Party was delicious!
Birthday mail: First week of marathon training is done. It was more about active recovery but that’s okay:

I ended my 17km run in Bedford at the Jumping Bean coffee shop:

Right after, we walked for the CAWS (Canadian Association for Williams Syndrome):

My next read for bookclub:Surprise! My brother-in-law surprised my sister with a plane ticket home for her 40th birthday! Erin is the oldest but shortest of the sisters:

Surprise! She though we were going out for a quiet family dinner at Mappatura Bistro but we invited her friends too:

The night ended at the Maxwell’s Plum. Cheers!That’s a wrap. I’ll be back again.

psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg