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ENDURrun wrap up and Stage 7 the marathon

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Sorry that it has taken me a couple days to do this final stage review. I think my brain and body needed a couple days to transition out of ENDURrun mode, and I completely did. It has not just been a part of my life for 8 days, but for 3 months as I have trained my body to handle the mileage.

On Sunday I woke up extremely nervous. There was a heat advisory for the day and I knew that it woul be 30+ degrees out. As I said before I am not a heat runner, and have actually experienced heat stroke. My saving grace was that I had developed a “cooling plan”. I had purchased 2 extra nathan hydration bottles for just this occasion. I stocked a cooler with the second set of bottles, two washcloths soaking in ice water, 2 bottle of water, and some gels. All of this was put on ice and my plan was to switch out at the 21km mark. This marathon course was a 2 loop course that ran through Conestogo and Waterloo. I had an AMAZING support team there including my parents, my bestest girls, and my bestest dude. My bestest dude had very last minute agreed to run the last bit of the course with me knwoing it would be tough slugging in the heat. He wouldn’t tell me where he was going to start, just that he would “show up” on the course.

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I knew that I wanted to run this race conservatively not only because I had already run over 100km that week but because of the heat. My goal was to stay at 6:00/km. I ended up really loving this course. I felt that the rolling hills were managable, and the views were gorgeous! In my first lap the weather had not gotten too hot as of yet and I felt that I was use to the temperature from my recent long runs. I knew that I had completed a 37km run on a scorcher at the cottage, and felt that I should be able to pull through. It was towards the end of the first loop that the sun started to really shine. This course has essentially no shade, so I also decided (with much urging from bestest dude) to wear my hat. I came through the first loop feeling really strong. It appeared that the most difficult part for me was going downhill because this is when my quads would scream at me. I managed to come in 21k at 2hrs bang on and was running a 5:40/km pace. The cooler at the halfway point worked beautifully! My mom was there to switch things out and spray me down with sunscreen. I took off again with fresh hydration bottle filled with lemon tea nuun. I continued to run up the rolling hills and was determined not to walk till at least 30k and a water station around there. I broke at 27km. The sun was getting really hot and I had just run up a gradual incline. Until this point I had not stopped for any of the water stations. From this point on I walked at each water station to make sure I dumped cold water over my body to cool down. I did however make a very concerted effort to run all the km’s between water stations and actually did so remarkably well. There was a reason I did so well though, it was because of my husband. He was AMAZING! I could see his red running shorts at the 32km mark. It was perfect timing because the heat was getting to me and my mind was playing tricks. He had ran from the finish line out towards me and had plotted out the route and where I could get shade. My dad also showed up shortly after 32k. He had a cooler filled with ice, nuun, and cold towels. My husband sprinted up to my dad and put ice in my hydration bottles to cool them down. He then grabbed the towel and sprinted to catch up with me. As I was running he was wiping me down with the towel, and carried my hydration bottle for the next few km’s. Dad and husband for the win!!!! Because my husbands legs were a little more fresh he was able to push me to run some 5:30-5:40/km’s in between the water stations. We did walk up the looooong gradual hill on Bridge, and most of the other runners were too. God love the woman handing out ice mid-way through that hill. I put a bunch in my mouth, and then stuff large pieces down my sports bra. Surprisingly this had a really good cooling effect! I highly recommend it on hot days. The next few km’s were not too eventful just lots of hot and tired running. My husband would push me to run to certain markers and water stations. Dad for the win again at 39km with ice and water (fyi my mom packed the travel coolers, and drove all over Guelph to find my vega gels)! More ice into the sports bra as this point it was really really getting hot. We turned the corner onto Northfield and I knew, I knew I was going to finish. There is something remarkable that you experience in the moment you recognize that your body has done for you what you once thought impossible. You get a surge to push through and finish. Bestest dude unfortunately was done. He had run over 20km (12 to get to me, and 8 with me) all the while sprinting back and forth. Through much encouragement (I didn’t want to leave him) he pushed me to run as hard as I could to the finish. He told me to “go get my time”. I managed to push through a 5:15 last km and come in at 4:05:33. A personal best for my marathon. Go figure. I never could have done it without my family, friends, and most importantly him. He has patiently sat by while I have dedicated myself the past three months to train for this event, and he has encouraged me the whole way. He is the most selfless person I know.

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After the finish ❤

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The organizers pressed shirts with our finishing times and presented them too us! WHO DOES THAT?!?!? Really the RunWaterloo crew are just above and beyond amazing!

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This was a gift from my bestest girls for my charm necklace. My parents also gave me a Keg gift certificate to fill up on protein!!! YUM!!!!

It has been a really amazing journey the past week, and I find myself sad that it’s ended. I felt as if I could just keep getting up everyday and head out for a run. There were times that my body was willing me to stop (after Chicopee), times where it wanted me to go faster (half marathon), and times where it was willing me to run (rest day). It never let me down, and in fact I exceeded all expectation in completing this event. I remember the first year we ran the half and I told my husband that I wanted to one day do the whole thing. He thought I was crazy and told me so. Well 4 years later here I am an ENDURrun finisher. I pushed myself to the limit and found that I was most definitely not broken.

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I haven’t decided if I will do the event next year, but I will most definitely guest run. I don’t know what the next year will bring but if I feel healthy enough and it fits I would most definitely do it again. I highly recommend the event and the experience, it was like no other in the world. At this point I am not too sure what can top this running experience. I am also floating around running “goalless” for the first time in a long while. I have a half marathon in September, then a number of small 10k runs. I am contemplating the Run For the Toad 50k in October since I seemed to do well on the trail running. It is also possible I feel to run a 4hr marathon this fall given my fitness levels right now. Whatever it is I will always remember to enjoy the journey, and enjoy the run.

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Oh, and I finally got my beer, and it was “as big as my head”

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Running Scared and Preliminary Vega Sport Review

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So apparently I am on a runcation. A runcation in which I tried to blog post and it was deleted *sigh*. Let’s try this again shall we? So what is a runcation? Well I like to think it means that you take a vacation and spend most of it running. For us it doesn’t cumulate with a big race at the end, it just means that we get to relax and focus on leisure time and running. The benefit of doing this at the cottage are the hills which are unavoidable and included in every run. I also decided this would be a good time to try out some of the Vega Sport products I purchased through the starter pack.

Monday was a bit of a write off because we got to the cottage at midnight on Sunday,  I slept in till 8am and was still super tired. That meant that Tuesday was going to be the day, and turns out it was an 8k penance run. What is a penance run you ask??? Well for those who are catholic this will make complete sense, but for those who are not humour me for a second. In the catholic faith you preform a ritual called “confession”. Through this you confess your sins to God, aka priest, he absolves you and gives you “penance”. This usually takes the form of repeating prayers such as Hail Mary’s or Our Father’s while kneeling on a ridiculously uncomfortable bench. So apparently I decided to partake of a little too much wine Monday evening, and needed to do penance the next day. In this case it was 8 Hail Mary’s or 8k. Oh boy did it hurt. At one point I turned to the bestest dude and said “my body hates me”. These runs are not fun and remind me why I generally don’t drink before runs. Wednesday was 21k so I drank lots of water and hydrated for the rest of Tuesday. I also consumed  a large and delicious bowl of homemade chili, filled with veggie goodness.

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The 21k was actually a great run. I feel like I am starting to get my mojo back mentally. I went for a 21k run last week on my own at 5am (yup 5am), and really loved the peace and serenity of the early morning quiet. I also ran it rather efficiently, 1:53 which was quicker than my last race and my usual half marathon pace. This weeks was a little slower, and I finished really strong, like gas left in the tank strong. So what happened? I figured it out about 10 minutes post-run. I was running scared. When I am actually on my game this year I can maintain a 5:15-5:30 pace during my long runs. This wasn’t the case last year. Generally I ran 6:00 pace, particularly when training for the marathon, and I spent a majority of those training miles at the cottage. I knew that 6:00 is comfortable for me (there I go with that comfort thing), and would get me through the vicious hills ahead. So I ran the first half scared that my body wouldn’t make it through the second 11km if I sped up. It really didn’t matter what the garmin said, I was “saving” myself. I ended up saving myself a little too much. The good news is that I now know that speeding up isn’t going to kill me, and I will push harder next time. I tell ya though, there is no run better than the long run. The ache in your body that tells you what was accomplished that day.

Now onto Vega Sport. So this is a preliminary review and I will continue to review as the week goes on and I use more products. So far I have used 4 of the products in the starter package. This is what you get for $20 (a great deal btw):

  • 2 x Vega Sport Pre-workout Energizer singles in both lemon lime and acai berry flavors
  • 2 x Vega Sport Energy Bars singles in apple cherry and chocolate coconut
  • 2 x Vega Sport Endurance Gel singles in raspberry and orange zest flavors
  • 2 x Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator singles in lemon lime and pom-berry flavors
  • 2 x Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator singles in both tropical and apple berry flavors
  • 3 x Vega Sport Performance Protein singles in chocolate, berry and vanilla flavors
  • 2 x Vega Sport Protein Bars in chocolate coconut and chocolate mint flavors

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I have read/seen several people using this product on blogs, twitter, facebook, and instagram and have heard positive reviews. The products are all plant based, which is really appealing to me. I am not a vegan by any means, but the cleaner the better. I try to have a balance between eating clean most (or try most) of the time but there are some things which are my mortal weakness. The awesome thing about the Vega Sport website is the personalize your plan section. For a newbie to supplements like me this is great!!!! It enables you to enter your gender, type of activity, level of intensity, and duration. It then makes a recommendation for how to use their products effectively. This helped to prepare me for my long run yesterday. I didn’t want to waste the product on my penance run because I knew I would feel crappy regardless.

So according to my personalized plan on the website I used the Electrolyte Hydrator (pom-berry) on Tuesday, The Pre-Workout Energizer (acai) the morning of, Sport Endurance Gel (orange zest) during the run, and the Recovery Accelerator (apple berry) directly after my run. The personalized plan recommended the protein powder 45 min post-run but I didn’t have a blender and really want to try these in a shake form. So here is my honest and unbiased review of the products I used. All of the products I tried are very clearly plant based, meaning that they taste planty (is that even a word?). That was the downside. The hydrator was a typical electrolyte replacer, and I could really taste the Stevia. If you don’t mind Stevia, all is well, but if you don’t like the taste of it then stay away. To me, it was actually quite tasty. I mixed it into a bottle of water, and away I went. It seemed quite similar to products like Nuun, and actually I prefer the Nuun. Sorry Vega Sport but they got you on this one. The next day I tried three products for my run. First up was the pre-workout energizer, which was really effective. Again I simply mixed it into water, and drank it about 30 mins before my run. I definitely felt increased energy, and alertness. The important fact was that it didn’t feel “artificial”. This product was more “grainy” than the rest, and actually I was a little alarmed at first. It tasted good though and I would definitely use this again. It definitely helped to get me up the first hill, which is actually the first km of my run. At about 8km in I used the Endurance Gel. To be really honest, my first impression wasn’t the greatest. I brought two gels with me, one was the Vega Sport and the other was my usual GU. I did this because I was concerned that if the gel didn’t work they way I wanted, I would crash and be miserable. This was simply put awful tasting. I took the orange zest one, and it was very very plant tasting. The other thing I didn’t like was the packaging. I know this seems weird, but the package was larger than most gels. This made it awkward to fit into the pocket on my shorts, and even awkward to administer while running. What I can’t argue or complain about is that this product works. Like really works. This was quite honestly better than any other gel I have taken. I usually take a gel at 8km and by about 14km I am tanking and already thinking about when I get my next gel in 2km. I didn’t do this once with this gel. In fact at 16km I felt like I could still go another 2km before taking the next gel. I now realize that the GU gels give me a quick burst and then fade quickly. This gel truly gave me endurance. The other bonus? I didn’t have a single GI issue post-run. This is huge for me. I am super sensitive to gels and supplements because of this. I have come to accept that I will have some degree of pain after a run. This didn’t happen. This alone makes the awful taste worth the product!!! Since this was my first run using these gels, and my first flavour. I am going to continue to use them and see if there is a flavour I may like better. If these gels keep working like they did yesterday, I will definitely switch over. I will miss the taste of my chocolate peanut butter, but not the pain and cramping that usually follows! Good job Vega Sport! The final product I used was the Accelerator. This was the best tasting product by far, and we will see how effective it is when I go for a 5.5km crazy hill run. So thats my preliminary review. In summary, the taste could improve slightly, but the products are definitely effective. I will be continuing to use the gels, and the pre-workout energizer. To come, reviewing the Accelerator, and Protein Powder. I am also excited to see if using the products in combination improves my recovery and running. That’s the grand finale, seeing how all the products work together. I will continue to use the products in this particular way leading up to my half marathon in two weeks. It will be interesting to see how I continue to feel leading up to, and during the race. I will definitely need more gels 😉

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So that’s it from this end! The bestest dude and I are off for some golf today, and then a 5.5km hill run tomorrow. Throw your comments my way. Have you ever run scared? Tried the Vega Sport products?

 

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