Sheryl Jesin


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2014 Running Goals

OK so I know it’s February already, and most goal setting is done in January.  But I have a newborn, so I’m cutting myself some slack.

It’s hard to even think of running races when it is a challenge right now to take a shower or get dinner on the table, but I am going to do it anyways! Having a race to look forward to always motivates me to get out there and go for a run. So here is what I am thinking.

Sunday, April 13, 2014 – Yonge St 10k

Sunday, September 7, 2014 – Yorkville Run 5k (the best 5k in the city!!)

Sunday, October 19, 2014 – Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon

Is it overly ambitious to think that I can run 10k in just over 2 months?

Is it crazy to think I can train for a half marathon with 3 kids to take care of?

Perhaps, but I’m going to give it a try.

After all, the only thing actually holding me back is myself!

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Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon Race Recap

Back in October, I participated in my second half marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.

Why has it taken me three months to write this race recap? I don’t have a good excuse. It has been a combination of procrastination, and wanting to write the “perfect” race recap. I’m letting perfection go, and here it is. Better late than never.

Pre Race Thoughts

My training leading up to the race felt strong. I found it a lot easier to train for this race than my first half marathon that I ran in May 2012. Each long run for my May race was really hard. It wiped me out for the rest of the day. I was sore for days after. This time, the long runs were no big deal. I knew how to properly prepare for them. I knew how to tackle them, and I knew how to recover.

I was feeling fairly confident in the weeks leading up to the race. But then the week before, as I checked the weather forecast, my confidence started to wane. They were predicting rain, and a lot of it for race day. I had run in the rain before, but never a long run. I started to psych myself out. I didn’t know what to wear. I was worried about being freezing cold and wet and soggy and chafed all over. I even thought about dropping out of the race. Then I remembered all of my friends and family who had generously sponsored me and helped me raise funds for La Leche League. There was no way I was going to drop out! Here’s a post explaining how I tackled the rain.

The Race

Morning of the race it was 10 degrees Celcius and pouring rain. I was not pleased! I sucked it up and headed down to the start line. It was quite well organized with properly marked starting corrals, and lots of available porta-potties. I wore a Lululemon Pacesetter run skirt and a Lululemon Swiftly v-neck short sleeve T-shirt. I covered myself in a makeshift raincoat made out of a garbage bag and brought along a throwaway umbrella. I wanted to stay as dry as possible before the race. In spite of my wish for dryness, my shoes and socks got soaked. But, my clothes and hair stayed dry before the race started, and this was quite nice. I saw lots of soaked runners at the start line, and they looked pretty cold and miserable.

When the race started at 8:30 am, the pouring rain had slowed down to a very light drizzle. This made me very happy. My feet stayed wet for the whole race (it was hard to avoid puddles) but my clothes never got wet.

The race started at University and Dundas. The route took us through many nice areas in Toronto. I ran past the hospital where I gave birth to both of my kids. I ran past the dorms I lived in at the University of Toronto when I did my undergrad. I ran past the corner of King and Bay, past a tall office tower in which I worked before I had kids. It felt awesome knowing that I am currently in the best shape of my life, better than I was as a student in my 20s, and better than I was before I had two kids.

My splits for the race were as follows:

Mile 1 – 11:39

Mile 2 – 11:07

Mile 3 – 10:26

Mile 4 – 10:50

Mile 5 – 10:50

Mile 6 – 10:59

Mile 7 – 11:06

Mile 8 – 11:07

Mile 9 – 10:58

Mile 10 – 10:54

Mile 11 – 10:52

Mile 12 – 10:43

Mile 13 – 10:11

Chip time – 13.1 miles – 2:26:25

Overall, I am quite pleased with my time. I kept my pace steady during most of the race and I love that my last mile was my fastest. During the race, I was trying to psych myself up and kept repeating positive thoughts to myself, such as: “I trained perfectly for this race. I am wearing the ideal outfit for these conditions. I love running. This is a great day to run! No one said this would be easy. It is a challenge and that is why I love it.” Perhaps these thoughts sound cheesy to you. They are a bit cheesy, but thinking positive thoughts helped me make it through the race. I believe that distance running is 90% mental, and 10% physical. You obviously have to put in the time training your body, but you also have to really use your mind to make it through a race, and you need to use your mind to push your body through the pain.

OK, back to the race. I didn’t want to start out too fast. I felt great through the first 6 miles. At around mile 6, my legs got a bit tired and my muscles started to ache a bit. Once I got to mile 10, I knew I only had 3 miles left (5k). My legs were hurting at this point, but I sped up a bit, knowing I was near the end. The crowd was quite large during the last mile, and it felt great to hear all the cheering. The last 500m or so were slightly up hill. That was not fun. But I pushed myself right until the finish line. I really wanted to finish under 2:30.

I crossed the finish line and felt amazing! I also felt freezing and was quite thankful for the mylar blankets they were giving out. The area after the finish line was quite crowded. It probably took a good 15 minutes to walk through the area where I collected my medal and some food before I could get to the post run party, which was held in Mel Lastman Square at City Hall. The area where they designated for us to walk was far too narrow for the amount of people. This was probably my only complaint about the logistics of the race. My parents and brother were there to greet me at the party and snap a few pics. My husband and kids stayed home because of the inclement weather. I missed them, but it was nice to have some time to recover and enjoy the party, rather than chasing around two little ones.

Happy!

Happy!

Post run thoughts

My second half marathon was a phenomenal experience. I was amazed how much easier it felt than my first half marathon, and I know that with more training and more miles under my belt, I can easily improve my time. I know that there is a 2:15 half marathon in my future, and maybe even a 2:00. I also know that there is definitely a marathon in my future, but probably not until my kids are a bit older.

Since my half, I have kept up my running. I try to run 2-3 times a week (which is not easy in the middle of winter!). I haven’t kept up my distances – I think the farthest I’ve gone has been 7km. I’m OK with that – it has been good for my body to recover from the distances and I’ve enjoyed some cross training, including spinning, cross country skiing and some weight training.

I’m planning on taking a break from racing for the next little while. I will stay active and run – not because I’m training for something, but because I truly love running. I love what it does for my body, mind and soul. While races are a lot of fun, every day that I run is a good day.


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Half Marathon Nutrition

As part of marathon week, today I will be writing about how I tackle the half marathon from a nutrition standpoint. I remember when I first started running, I was very confused about what to eat before and after a run. The night before my first 5k, I ate a huge salad and the morning of I had a big green smoothie. While healthy,this combination led to a very upset tummy before the race. That being said, some runners might find that the above mentioned foods are fine before a race. The key with race nutrition is to try everything out many, many times during training – especially before long runs. Through trial and error, I’ve learned a lot about what agrees with my stomach and what does not.

The day before the race

Before my half marathon, I ate lot throughout the whole day. I focused on carbs, and tried to avoid greasy foods. Breakfast was a big bowl of oatmeal with fruit. Lunch was hummus on rice cakes with cut up veggies. Dinner was a big bowl of gluten free pasta with tomato sauce and beans. Snacks were fruits such as apples and bananas, and some gluten free dairy free muffins. I was sure to drink a lot of water the day before. In fact, I drank lot of water the whole week before the race so that I was adequately hydrated.

Morning of the race

My breakfast on race day was Oh She Glow’s overnight oats. I ate this two hours before the start of the race, so that it had time to properly digest. I also drank 500mL of Vega Sport Electrolyte hydrator when I woke up, and tried to finish it one hour before the race. I was feeling a bit hungry before the start of the race and ate two medjool dates.

During the race

I carried a fuel belt with me during the race. In it were three 8oz bottles. Two of these bottles contained Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator and one contained water. I also carried with me two Vega Sport Gels.

My plan was to drink one bottle of the hydrator at 5k and one at 10k. My plan was to eat one gel at 8k and the other at 16k. I followed this plan, but found that I didn’t really want the second gel at 16k. I had about half of it and then threw the rest on the ground. I also had sips of water at each water station along the way.

I know that a lot of people don’t like to be weighed down by a fuel belt in a race. For me, it is comforting to know that I have my own electrolyte drinks and gels, and water, so that I can drink when I am thirsty and refuel with gel when I’m feeling like I need a boost of energy. Gatorade, which is provided at aid stations along the way – grosses me out. It is full of artificial coloring and flavors and sugar, and is not something I want to put in my body. I love the Vega Sport products – they were developed by a vegan triathlete, Brendan Brazier. They are plant based, all natural and made with whole foods. I find them very easy to digest. I’ve practiced with them all through my training and I know that my body reacts well to them.

After the race

After my first half marathon in the spring, I did not eat or drink adequately and ended up with a horrible headache for the rest of the day. I was determined not to let this happen again. I had a banana and apple right after I crossed the finish line. I had a Vega Smoothie Infusion (chocolate flavoured, yum!) during the car ride home. I sipped on water for the whole day. I also ate a lot of food, starting with a huge smoothie as soon as I got home. I managed to avoid the-post race headache and actually felt quite good for the remainder of the day.


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Marathon week

Just three short weeks ago, I completed my second half marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.  I had tons of fun,  and shaved a cool 10 minutes off my first half, finishing in 2 hrs and 25 minutes.  I am extremely proud of my time, especially since the conditions were tough that day – wet and windy – and even the pros felt their times suffered as a result of the weather.

I’ve been meaning to write my race recap, but I’ve been having a hard time gathering my thoughts.  So, I am going to spend this week writing about my half marathon experience.   Here is my planned schedule:

Monday – Race nutrition

Tuesday – How to run a race in the rain

Wednesday – Mind over matter – how to tame the mental demons

Thursday – Race Recap – My experiences during the race

Friday – Final thoughts, lessons learned, what’s in my running future

I can’t think about running today without my thoughts going to the cancelled New York Marathon and the recovery efforts in New York, New Jersey, and the surrounding states after Hurricane Sandy.  I can’t even imagine what the survivors of the hurricane have been experiencing over the last week.  So many people lost everything – they are cold and hungry, and it’s hard to fathom that things like are even possible in the United States.  My heart goes out to everyone who was been touched by the hurricane.

My thoughts also go to all those who trained for months and who were really looking forward to the New York Marathon.  So many runners raised money for important charities and spent countless hours pounding the pavement over the hot summer, taking time to improve their physical and mental health through running.

There was so much animosity this week towards the marathon and towards the runners when Mayor Bloomberg first announced that the marathon would continue.  I can understand that to those who lost their houses, their belongings, their electricity and their heat, that the marathon seemed like nothing more than a frivolous parade of fit people drinking Gatorade.  I believe Mayor Bloomberg made the right decision to cancel the marathon.  The timing just wasn’t right this year.  New York City needs to recover from Sandy right now.

I do feel, however, that the marathon became a bit of a scapegoat for everyone’s anger.  People were mad that the marathon had generators, food, and water.  They thought these resources would be better allocated to victims of the hurricane.  While this is all true, I can’t help but think that there were many other things in New York that could have been reallocated.   Should people have been allowed to eat in a restaurant in the days after Sandy?  Perhaps their meals could have been given to a hurricane victim.  Was it OK for shoppers on Fifth Avenue to buy clothes after the storm?  Perhaps money they spent on yet another pair of jeans or a designer purse could have been donated to the Red Cross.  Should businesses have been allowed to use generators to keep going after Sandy cut off their power?  Maybe their generators should have been plugged in to houses on Staten Island.   My list can go on and on.

It was a beautiful day in New York City today, and many runners headed off to Staten Island and volunteered their time to help people rebuild.  Lots of money from the marathon was donated to relief efforts, and the generators, the water and the food was given to hurricane victims.  So, some good has come out of the whole marathon debacle.  I choose to focus on that.


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Training for Half-Marathon #2

It’s official! Training for my second half marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, began last week. Only 14 weeks til the big day – Sunday, October 14, 2012.

I’ve been running, biking and dabbling in some yoga since my first half marathon, which was almost 2 months ago. I’m excited to get back into some serious training. I had some fun working out my training plan. It is a bit more intense than my first plan as it involves more mileage, and more cross training. I plan on running 3 days a week, biking 3 days a week and resting 1 day a week. I know I need to do some upper body strength training and core work too – haven’t quite figured out when I will do that…maybe on my rest day and one of my bike days?

I want to improve upon the time I achieved in my first race, 2 hrs and 36 mins. However, I worry about pushing myself too much and getting an injury. Then I remind myself that there are athletes out there training for marathons and even Ironmans, and a half marathon is really not such a crazy endevour. So I’m going to throw it out there. I want to finish in 2 hrs and 15 minutes. I will re-visit this goal as I work my way through my training plan and adjust as necessary.

I will update you, dear readers, as my training progresses. It’s hard to believe that just around this time last year I was just starting to run, training for my first 5k. So much has changed in a year.

Are you training for any fall races?


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Lessons learned from a half marathon

It’s been a month since my half-marathon.  Sometimes I still can’t believe that not only did I run 21km, but that I also found time to train properly for it.  I’ve been trying to keep up with my running, but I find that it’s not the same without a race looming in the future to motivate me to get out there.  I bought a new pair of shoes which got me running right after I bought them, but their lure is waning.

I’ve been experimenting with other forms of exercise, and went to my first Zumba class, which was a lot of fun.  It was a great cardio workout and I liked that it could be as high or low impact as you want.  I’ve also gone to a few free classes at my local Lululemon.  I’ve enjoyed their BOGA class – 1/2hr boot camp and 1/2hr yoga.  I realized by going to these classes that I have really increased my fitness level astronomically in the past year through running.  The Zumba class and the BOGA class were quite easy for me and I felt so happy about that!

I miss the burn and the feeling of exhaustion that I felt after my half marathon.  I miss the sense of accomplishment that I felt after the race and that I felt after my long training runs.  It’s hard to find time to go out for long runs.  I am definitely going to sign up for another half marathon in the fall.  I know that I can increase my speed and lower my time dramatically.

My half marathon was an amazing experience, and I learned a number of lessons that I would like to share with you.  They are as follows:

  1. Chafing happens – I always read on other blogs that runners experience chafing during long runs.  I never experienced this during my training and thought that I was immune to this problem.  However, at about mile 11 my armpits started to burn from my shirt rubbing against my skin.  The pain was real and I did my best to not think about.  Mind over matter, right?  However, for future races I will be using BodyGlide.  There is no need to experience the pain of chafing.  The burn in my legs at mile 11 was pain enough.
  2. Refueling after a race is not optional – I knew that I needed to eat after the race and packed up a few things for Jake to bring down to the finish line.  This included a scoop of Vega One and some water and a shaker cup, and some ShaSha Buckwheat snacks.    However, with all the excitement in finishing the race, I neglected to eat either of these things.  I had a banana, a couple slices of orange and that was it.  I didn’t even drink water until I got home a couple hours later.   This was a terrible idea.  I had a splitting headache for the remainder of the day after the race, and I attribute this to not drinking and eating properly right after the race.
  3. Employ babysitters post race – the only thing harder than running a half marathon is taking care of little kids after running a half marathon.  Jake had a full morning taking care of the boys, and bringing them down to the finish line, and was understandably done with them once we got home.  In hindsight I should have asked the grandparents to come over and watch the boys in the afternoon so that I could have a nap and veg out for the rest of the day.  Instead, I ran around with them outside, and did other things that did not aid in my recovery.  This did not help with my splitting headache.
  4. Start out A BIT faster – I wish that I had started out faster.  I was so worried about beginning too fast and burning out that I ended up running with people who were….slow.  This slowed me down.  For example, there was a girl near me wearing long yoga pants, a sweater, a very unsupportive bra, and her long hair was loose.  I didn’t get it.  It was so hot out.  Needless to say, she wasn’t very speedy.  I have no idea how she finished 13.1 miles like that.  I wish I had run with people who were faster (and dressed properly), so that I would have been motivated to go faster.

Have you run any races?  Have you learned any lessons from them?