5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Ragnar Relay

This past weekend, myself along with 11 #TribeSoleSisters, 4 drivers, and 3 pacers drove to Coburg in order to run the 304km to Niagara Falls as part of the Niagara Ragnar Relay. This was the second time this race has taken place (the first back in 2013) and my first experience with such an event.

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Like many runners I kinda read the Race Bible, knew bits and pieces of what this experience would be like, watched the Ragnar “From Fat to Fit” documentary on NetFlix, but until you actually race an event, you don’t totally know what to expect. So rather than doing a lengthy race recap, I though I would share my key learnings of things I wish I had known before I started the race. Because let’s face it, if you follow me on social, you know I had a blast!

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  1. Bring Food! Now this might seem obvious to you, but we were trying to keep our packing low and we had compiled a list of 24 hours restaurants, so I really didn’t think it was necessary to bring actual meals with us. I did bring bars, gels, Nuun, and other hydration. What I didn’t take into account was the short rely legs, long times in the car, and how speedy our team was. As Van 1 we had to be at the check in point in Coburg for 8am. I didn’t run until 1pm, so we were in the car driving from transition to transition, all caught up in the hype, and all of a sudden it was noon, and I had to race almost 10km without eating since we left TO at 6am. So If I had planned better, had actual food with me, we wouldn’t have been so panicked to find somewhere to eat and I wouldn’t have had 4 sesame bagels with butter and peanut butter from Tim Hortons.
  2. Bring A Pacer. I had a pacer, well two actually, for my 13km leg that started around 10pm. I was thankful for Billy and Brandon because they not only made my run easier by hitting the light buttons ahead of me, throwing out my garbage, and being giants and making me feel like a celebrity as we raced passed (killed in Ragnar terms) 14 other racers, but they also made me push to a pace that I haven’t raced all season, averaging 5:05 per/km over the 13km. Since our team was running for 28 hours straight many relay legs started at 2 or 3am and ran through areas that were a little “sketchy” – Hamilton lift bridge/beach strip area I’m talking to you. I think next time we will make sure we have pacers (aka security, aka wind blockers, aka person cheer leaders on the run) for all runners over the night shift. It definitely brings peace of mind and the social is nice too. file-1(1)
  3. Bring Extra Runner Lights. Each van was required to have two head lamps and two tail lights per runner. We had this, however at about 8pm, when both were mandatory, one of our brand new tail lights broke. Teams without tail lights would receive a time penalty and that isn’t what we wanted, so we eagerly reached out to friends on other times, and gratitude to Trieu Nguyen who had a bag of them and lent us one to race with. So I would suggest having extras in order to avoid the drama.
  4. Bring Attire For All Weather. While I was ready for racing and cheering in the sunny summer heat we’ve been having, I was not prepared for the 3am chill when the weather dropped to single digits and we were cheer along the waterfront with waves actually splashing up on the race path. Sweaters, warm pants, fuzzy socks, a water and wind resistance shell, or even a blanket would’ve been great to have too. Not just warm running gear, but warm cheering gear too. file2(2)
  5. Bring Magnets. So this was a weird Ragnar “thing” we didn’t know about but clearly others did because after the first transition we started “collecting” magnets with other teams names and branding on our van. This was very fun and fun to keep afterwards, but we had no clue it would be happening so didn’t have any to share. A couple notes on what not to do for your magnets: 1. attach a magnet to a bottle cap that will scratch the rental car, 2. instead of using a magnet use a sticker stuck to a rental car, don’t do it. Stick with magnets and make them cute, creative, and connected to your team name and social handle.

We had a blast at this race, and if fun and friendship wasn’t enough the preliminary results (as of May 25th) had us placing top 3 in the Open Women Category, yeah Team Tribe. We worked hard, kept our cool, and placing top 3 just makes it extra sweet.

Follow along  with the fun by searching #TRIBExRAGNAR on Twitter or Instagram. Looking forward to doing this race again, and being that much more prepared.

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My iRun Nation Spring Race Guide

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sharing some of my favourite Spring races, as well as the favourite races of some community members on the blog of iRun Magazine. View the original post here, or scroll down and see some races that have caught my eye this Spring.

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Spring has officially sprung and whether you’re looking for a place to test our your legs and take on your first 10km or to venture across the country with your crew, here are a few Spring races that have caught my eye and hopefully yours too!

Date: April 23, 2017

Race: Banque Scotia 21K de Montréal

City: Montréal, Québec

Why this race? The Banque Scotia 21k really is the race that gives back. In 2016, the fundraising tally for the 66 Official Charities was a whopping $1,227,802.52. Now if that’s not reason enough, the first 250 people who sign up to race both Saturday and Sunday (5k +21k or 10k+ 21k) will receive a bonus long-sleeve Asics technical shirt. Double the fun all for social good.

Date: April 30, 2017

Race: Rotary Classic Run

City: Brantford, Ontario

Why this race? Sue Spence on Facebook shares “One of my fave runs to participate in is the Rotary Brantford Classic Run in Brantford Ontario. I have completed this race so many times (at least 12). It was the race that I ran my first 5 km and 10 km. I continue to support this race because the atmosphere is friendly and supportive. The community really comes out to support this great cause and ALL proceeds go back into our community.”

Date: May 6, 2017

Race: MEC Calgary Race Three

City: Calgary Alberta

Why this race? For the super low price of $15 MEC Calgary Race Three includes a 5km or 10km race with chip-timed results, bananas, finish-line massages, plus unlimited high-fives. For an extra $5 up your distance to the half marathon. Kids 1km race also available.

Date: May 6, 2017

Race: Fort Town Night Run

City: Prescott, Ontario

Why this race? Nicole Hartley on Facebook shares “I am looking forward to the Fort Town night run. Starts at Fort Wellington and goes through town hitting multiple historical points. It is in my home town of Prescott Ontario. It is a night run so swag is finisher medal shirt and headlamp.”

Date: May 7, 2017

Race: GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon

City: Toronto, Ontario

Why this race? The Marathon course is fast, downhill, scenic, and a Boston Qualifier. Starting at Mel Lastman Square in North York and finishing at Ontario Place, the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon winds through many of the City’s great neighbourhoods.

Date: May 7, 2017

Race: BMO Vancouver Marathon 

City: Vancouver, B.C.

Why this race? From the 5K to the full marathon, every distance of the BMO Vancouver Marathon offers an impressive view. The marathon is a Boston Qualifier that travels across beaches, parks and the Seawall winding through the longest shoreline views of any race course world-wide. The half marathon is a separate course from the marathon, and weaves through distinct cultural neighbourhoods including Chinatown and Yaletown. No matter which distance you choose, the race day atmosphere in this vibrant, youthful city is one of the most energetic with positive vibes that will see you through to a fast finish.

Date: May 7, 2017

Race: Mississauga Marathon

City: Mississauga, Ontario

Why this race? The Mississauga Marathon is a point to point course that takes runners through many of the areas that encompass much of Mississauga’s beauty including racing across the Credit River, along the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club, and through some of Mississauga’s most beautiful residential neighbourhoods. The course does feature small inclines at 10km and 24km, but the ‘net’ downhill aspect of this race includes a 250′ (or 80m) drop from start to finish.

Date: May 14, 2017

Race: Sporting Life 10K

City: Toronto, Ontario

Why this race? The Sporting Life 10K runs right down the middle of Canada’s most iconic street — Yonge Street! Whether you are a novice looking for an easy 10k course, or a seasoned veteran looking to set a PB, this event is downhill, fast, and proceeds go to Camp Oochigeas (Ooch), a residential camp for kids with cancer.

Date: May 21, 2017

Race: Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon

City: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Why this race? The Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon is a “little hilly” as it takes participants on a marathon adventure through the vibrant streets of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This double looped course allows you to experience several of Halifax’s main attractions including Citadel Hill, Point Pleasant Park and the beautiful downtown core, as well as the experience of the whole city cheering you on – twice!

Date: May 28, 2017

Race: Saskatchewan Marathon

City: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Why this race? The 39th Saskatchewan Marathon is a Boston Qualifying race that runs along the beautiful South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon. If a full marathon distance is too far, consider checking out the 5km kids run, 5km, 10km, or half marathon distances.

Date: May 28, 2017

Race: Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

City: Ottawa, Ontario

Why this race? David Dazé on Facebook shares “My number one spring race is the Ottawa Marathon. It’s always very well organized and you get to run past many Ottawa landmarks like the National War Memorial, Parliament Hill, the National Gallery, and the Governor General’s Residence just to name a few. There’s great crowd support along many places of the route, as evidenced by the number of spectators who used their garden hoses to spray the runners during last year’s heat wave. The crowd is at its largest and loudest when you need it the most….during the last several kilometres of the race from the Chateau Laurier Hotel to along both sides of the Rideau Canal. The entire Race Weekend is a fantastic event. This year will be my 17th consecutive Ottawa Marathon and I can’t wait!”

Date: May 28, 2017

Race: Scotiabank Calgary Marathon

City: Calgary, AB

Why this race?  In celebration of Canada’s 150 anniversary the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon teamed up with Canadian artist David Crighton on the design of the commemorative race shirts and medals.  While the ultra distance is for a select crew, the Confederation 150-KM ultra-marathon is one of the first urban ultra courses of its kind. With a team relay option for the 150KM, you may want to grab you your run crew and go the distance on this challenging urban adventure. Race weekend also includes the marathon, half marathon, 10K and a family fun run and kids marathon, keeping the whole family active all weekend long.

Date: May 28, 2017

Race: Royal Canadian Air Force Run

City: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Why this race? Winnipeg is the home of the Royal Canadian Air Force and each year they invite members of the public to join them on a run along the 17 Wing Flight Line and through the base. Proceeds from the run will go to support ill and injured RCAF troops and families. Course options include a half-marathon, half-marathon relay, 10k, 5k, or 3k family fun run/walk.

Date: June 3, 2017

Race: Whistler Half Marathon

City: Whistler, British Columbia

Why this race? With towering glacier capped mountains as the backdrop, this scenic half marathon showcases all that Whistler is – an amazing town nestled in the coast mountains of BC. Looking for extra training motivation? Check out the Whistler Half Marathon playlist on Spotify.

Date: June 17, 2017

Race: Niagara Ultra

City: Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario

Why this race? The 25th Niagara Ultra follows the Niagara River Parkway from Niagara-on-the-Lake past Fort George and on to Niagara Falls and back. The route is very scenic as you run in continuous view of the Great River and turn around at Niagara Falls. Martin Miksovsy on Facebook shares “Niagara on the Lake Ultra/Half Marathon, simply for its scenic route and the generosity of racers that donate to the Bruce Trail conservatory.”

 

It’s A Hill, Get Over It! 4 Tips For Running Uphill

With the Around the Bay Road Race days away runners are well aware that “THE” hill, as in Valley Inn Rd has returned. I spent Tuesday morning with the team from CH Morning Live chatting the race and sharing tips to rock the hill. Watch it here and read my 4 tips to conquer the hill below.

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Four tips to dominate your next hill workout.

1. Keep your chest up and open. The most common advice you might have received is to “lean into the hill”. Unfortunately, this causes many runners to hunch at the waist to lean forward. This constricts your airway and makes it harder to breathe deeply. You do need to lean forward, but make sure you lean at the hips, not the waist.

2. Keep your head and eyes up. Dropping your head  leads to a slouch in your form and restricts how much oxygen you can take in. So  instead, drive your arms straight forward and back using them like pistons. Keep your elbows bent in a 90-degree angle, and swing them straight back and forth, and not across your body.

3. Drive your knees up off the hill and not into the hill – think of this as your knee drive. Work on landing on the ball of your foot to spring up the hill.

4. Bend your ankle. Think of yourself exploding off your ankle and using that last bit of power to propel you up the hill with minimal energy expenditure. Focusing on plantar flexion can save you a lot of energy and really help you get up the hill faster and with less energy.

What are some tips and tricks you use to power up a hill?