Beaches Jazz Run 20k Race Review

The Beaches Jazz Run is one of my favourites. As a tune-up run for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, entry is limited to 700 participants who can choose to run either 20k, 10k, or 5k. With a 20k run on tap for my Seawheeze training, this race fit in perfectly with my running schedule.

jenna and christa

On Sunday morning, I got to the race early to meet up with some friends and relax a bit before things got started. The weather was absolutely perfect, with a cool breeze coming off the water and the temperature hovering around 18 degrees. My friend Christa was coming to this race, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for us to finally run together! I met Christa through twitter and we’ve been virtual running buddies every since. Christa is training for her first marathon and has a really inspiring story about how she got into running! You can read more on her blog, Runnin’ on Empties.

Christa and I decided we’d run around a 6-6:30 pace for the race. I told her that she could pull away at any time if she wanted to go faster, but she stuck with me through all 20k! This was only the second time Christa and I had met in person, but it felt like I had known her forever and we had SO much to talk about during our 2 hour run. We talked about running, work, our families, and also pondered the question of whether a marathon or childbirth hurts more. Neither of us can answer that right now, but Christa will have an answer for us around 12 noon on October 20th.

finish line

I usually run solo, so running with another person is always a treat for me, and I could not have asked for a better running partner than Christa. Despite the fact that we didn’t want to go out too fast, we found ourselves running stronger together, and had to slow down a few times to get back to our 6/6:30 pace target. I took water and Gatorade along the course and had a Vega gel at 10k and couldn’t believe that my energy never wavered – I was strong through the entire run. Christa’s encouraging words certainly helped as well. As we were coming into the final kilometre, Christa made me promise that we’d give it our all for the last few minutes, because it was almost over, and we could rest soon. We finished strong and my dad snapped this awesome photo of me crossing the finish line. Official time: 2:09:02.

After The Beaches Jazz Run, I feel ready for Seawheeze. A 2:15 goal is certainly attainable and that is what I will run for. I hear there are lots of hills along the Seawheeze course so I am going to have to get in a few more hill training sessions before the big day. Christa won’t be running Seawheeze with me, but I told her on Sunday that I’ll be thinking of her and the encouraging words she gave me along the way! And when Christa crosses the finish line at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October, you better believe I’ll be there cheering!


A Little Inspriation

In the world of running, you don’t have to look far to be inspired. Just last night Rick and Dick Hoyt, the father-son team who have been running marathons and triathlons for the past 36 years, received the Jimmy V Perserverance Award during ESPN’s Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards (ESPYS). Dick Hoyt has pushed his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair in over 1000 events, including 6 Ironmans! Although this year’s Boston Marathon (their 31st) was supposed to be their last, they were stopped short of the finish line because of the bombs so they will be returning next year for their final race.

Then there’s Winter Vinecki. Winter is only 14 years old, but she’s on an incredible mission to run a marathon on every continent, while raising awareness about Prostate Cancer in memory of her late father. Most recently she crossed South America off her list after completing the Inca Trail Marathon and coming in 3rd Female Overall. Her marathon PR is 3:45:04 and she’s a two-time IronKids National Triathlon Champion. Wow, is there anything this girl can’t do?

I started following Robin Arzon while she was completing her leg of the MS Run the US Tour.  A 3000 mile relay across America, MS Run the US has runners lacing up to run 6 consecutive marathons in 6 days to raise money to help cure Multiple Sclerosis. Robin ran her leg back in May and everyday I would follow along on Twitter and Instagram and be completely inspired. Robin ran 123 miles in honour of her mother who has been living with MS since 1999.

Paul Trebilcock

Met Paul “Turbo” Trebilcock at a run this winter! Pictured with Producer Josh Eady.

The guys from Boundless are crazy, and while I will never attempt most of the things they’ve done, it’s awesome to see how the human mind and body can conquer huge challenges over incredible distances. In the first Season of Boundless, Paul “Turbo” Trebilcock and Simon Donato take on 8 adventure races all around the world, including Ironman Phuket, Fire and Ice 250k Ultra, The Four Deserts Sahara Race 250k, and The Amazing Maasai 75k Ultra. While not every race is a great one, Turbo and Simon push themselves to limits they’ve never experienced before and learn that sometimes just finishing a race can make you feel like a winner. Boundless Season 2 is currently in the works and will launch next year. Can’t wait!

These are just a few inspirational people who came to mind while writing this post, but I know there are hundreds, probably thousands more people who are running and being active everyday to inspire others to do the same! If you’re looking for some motivation, take a deeper look at these 4 stories because I promise they won’t disappoint!

Who inspires YOU to run? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Running!

Goal Setting: I Signed up for a Marathon

This week I began training with my new coach (!) and with some new goals in mind. After looking at my current racing season, we decided that the next logical step would be to increase my distance and ramp up for a marathon. With the Around the Bay 30k as one of my 2014 goals, we decided a spring marathon makes most sense since I’ll already be in good shape and ready to add on the extra 12.2k for a marathon. I have always wanted to run my first marathon in my hometown so on May 4th, 2014, I’ll be lacing up in front of Square One to begin the 42.2k of the Mississauga Marathon.  marathon run jenna

Right now I’ve got 294 days to go, so no need to panic, right? While I am a bit nervous, I know I can do it. I remember the first time I ran a half-marathon (undertrained), I stepped up to the starting line with every fibre in my body ready to run 21.1k. I knew I could do it, and I did. Behind all the doubt, nervousness, and stress about training for any type of race, there is always a little voice inside of me that says “You Can Do This.”  The hard part is using that voice to drown out all the other negative thoughts, but I am working on that!

Earlier this week I sat down to get started on a Vision Board. I’ve seen a lot of other runners and goal-setters use them to stay inspired and stay on track. Whenever I think of goals, I come back to Lululemon’s concept of the BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I know they didn’t create the idea of the BHAG, but the first time I heard of it was on their blog. Actually, it’s quite funny, but when I think of goal-setting, I think of Lululemon! Maybe I need to get out more… Anyways, just like I’ve never been one to stick to a training plan (until now), I have never been one for goal setting. I think the idea of not reaching my goals, makes me too scared to even set them. But, now I have my very first, official BHAG and I am hoping that this goal-setting attitude makes its way into other areas of my life too, because I could think of a few other areas that need it!

bhagA great way to make sure you keep your promises and successfully complete your goals is to tell a lot of people so that you have a HUGE support team keeping you accountable! In the last year or so, I have met tons and tons of amazing, inspiring runners who I know I can count on to keep my butt in gear! They’re the people who I’m going to be excited with when I have an awesome training run, and who I will confide in when things aren’t going well. They’re the people who fill my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds with amazing pictures and statues that talk of kilometres conquered and goals met. They are truly the people who keep me going everyday and I am so lucky to know each and every one of them. If you would like to get to know some of them too, check out my Born to Run Twitter list.

So here’s to everyone who has a Big Hairy Audacious (Running) Goal coming up this year or next! You can do it! And if you need an extra cheerleader,  you know who to call 🙂

The good thing about bad runs.

This morning my goal was to run at least 10k. With just 5 weeks until Seawheeze, I need to keep my training on schedule. Unfortunately the weather had other plans for me and I did not make it past 3k. I stepped outside around 8:30am and although it didn’t feel that hot, as soon as I started running the humidity triggered my asthma and made it difficult to get into a comfortable breathing rhythm. I tried to take walk breaks, and run really slowly, but nothing was working. I just wasn’t going to run today.

I have had asthma since I was 4 years old and I’ve experienced my fair share of asthma attacks, therefore I will do everything humanly possible to avoid having one. If you’ve never had an asthma attack, just imagine being stuck in a sauna with thick hot air until it becomes impossible to breath…then times that by 10. Luckily for me, I have not had an asthma attack for many years, and I largely contribute my improved lung function to running and regular exercise! The only time I have to take my Ventolin puffer is right before I head out for a run.


Walking home from my run, I was actually surprised how not dejected I felt. I actually felt ok with the fact that I cut my run short and proud of myself for putting my health first before performance. In that moment, I decided I would dedicate today to being proud of what I CAN do, rather than what I can’t do. I can run 21.1k without stopping when there’s no humidity in the air, so why should I be upset that I can only run 3k when the weather isn’t right? Missing one training run isn’t going to derail all the hard work I’ve put into training for the Seawheeze Half-Marathon, and my friend Joanne says the weather in BC is actually perfect right now so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for clear skies on August 10th!

The lessons I am learning as a runner continue to amaze me. I know that two or three years ago, I would have been very upset at myself for not completing my run, but today I just came home to my (hot!) apartment, rolled out my yoga mat, and got sweaty with the Seawheeze yoga practice. I am lucky to be a runner, and I don’t ever take that for granted, even on days when I can’t run.

Training with a Plan

Truth be told, I’ve been a runner for 3 years now and I’ve never followed a training plan! Luckily I haven’t had any horrible race results or DNFs, but I have been at the start of a half-marathon, nervously questioning my ability to run 21.1k, while never having done a training run over 15k. This year, that’s all changed! For the past 5 weeks I have been vigorously following the official Lululemon Seawheeze TackleBox Training Program and I am LOVING it!

Every week we have 4 runs, 2 yoga sessions, 1 day of cross training, and 1 rest day. In the past I have been horrible about doing yoga and adding cross training to my running routine, but with this training plan, I have done it! The yoga practice is particularly amazing and I highly recommend you try it. It’s been just over a month since I started and I can tell you I’m feeling stronger, looking leaner, and avoiding injury while I run! Yeah for yoga!

My goal for the Seawheeze is modest – to finish 2:15 or under. My PR in a half-marathon is 2:13, so if I finish in or around there, I will be happy. In order to kick things up a notch and make sure I reach this goal, I am meeting with a running coach today! I have been feeling a bit plateaued lately and I am looking for a push to help propel me to further distances (the marathon!) and faster times. While general training plans are good, I know a personalized plan based on my goals, abilities, and fitness level will help me get to where I want to be as a runner.

I think part of the reason I never followed a training plan was because I didn’t take my running seriously enough. In my head I’m still a beginner and I still feel funny calling myself a runner sometimes. Over the past 6 months, my identity as a runner has certainly changed and been challenged, but I know now that it’s a part of me that’s here to stay. Am I scared to run a marathon? Hell yeah! Do I have TONS of running friends who are running marathons, kicking ass, and crushing their goals? Yes! 100%. And it’s those friends and allies who continue to inspire me everyday and who make me so proud to say “I’m a Runner!”

i'm a runner