In Maribeth’s words – The Running Whys, bodybuilding edition


Maribeth has transferred her passion for running to the weight room and dedicated much of 2013 preparing for a bodybuilding competition in Ontario. She placed third and fifth in two divisions at the event and now is getting ready for the provincial championships later this year in Toronto.

“I knew nothing. I was starting from scratch. I joined Goodlife, started at a women’s only gym and used the machines. I also completely changed my nutrition. Reading a lot of articles and following various well-known Fitness Gurus on social media, I was hearing more and more about “eating clean”. Reducing sugar, removing processed foods, and learning more about good carbs versus bad carbs, I outlined a nutritional plan that worked. I was down 8 pounds in 2 months. I was starting to get hooked.”

Through social media, I have reconnected with a few old friends from the great days of teaching swimming lessons for the Red Cross on those P.E.I. beaches and pool decks. One of those is Maribeth Ryan, who worked as a swimming and boating instructor when I was there. She ultimately landed in Ontario and when I was training for my first long races, she would offer encouraging words with a note or two.  This past year, she made big fitness decision and enjoyed great success in another field, building off her love of running.

Here is her story.




by Maribeth Ryan

I have been a runner all my life. It’s funny how even though I no longer consistently run, I still consider myself a runner. Running has always been my way of finding peace, quiet, and solitude. Continue reading

In April’s words – The Running Whys

april MBTS

“I remember feeling glee at the 15 km mark, knowing that I had a chance at beating 2 hours. Eventually the two-hour pace bunny caught up to me and I pushed with everything I had to keep ahead of him. I came in by the skin of my teeth at 1:59:54, and burst into tears at the finish.”

I met April when we both worked in the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John. While we worked on a few minor projects together, we were usually in different sections of the paper. However, we did have a great interest in running and we talked a lot about it during breaks from the grind – whether it was the latest event we entered or strategies for the upcoming race.

It was great to have an ally to discuss the sport and help alleviate some of the stresses journalism brings.

April is extremely passionate about running and in 2013, her results reflected the dedication of her training.

Here is her story.




by April Cunningham 

About a year ago, with one half-marathon and a few other races under my belt, I was in goal-setting mode as the new year approached. I had taken a few weeks to recover and wanted a new challenge.

Instead of upping my distance, I decided I wanted to take another crack at the half-marathon. Sometime in February I signed-up for the Fredericton race and took my time preparing for the race, which took place May 12.

The setting for that event was rainy and cool, but the course was very flat. There was one minor hiccup – I forgot my Garmin, which I had come to depend upon for pacing. But it turned out to be a good thing, because I blew away my PR of 2:16, coming in at 2:01:40. It was faster than I ever imagined.

At that point, the Tri-Cities Run Challenge had been initiated by the running community in New Brunswick. I knew I would probably participate in all three major races – in Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John – but wasn’t sure I would be up for running three half marathons. Well, after the Fredericton race, I felt a lot more committed.

I knew it would mean near-constant training straight through until October, but I enjoy running so much, I knew it would be worth it.

By the time August rolled around, I was ready to take on the hills of Saint John. The Marathon by the Sea is always a tough one, not just because of the hills but the weather can be warm and humid. This year, the weather was fine at 20 C. I knew I wouldn’t beat my new PR, but I was eager to blow away my course record from 2012. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face at 2:09:09.

The final race would be at Legs for Literacy in Moncton on Oct. 27. My training had been steady up until this point, and things were looking good. I felt strong and ready, but due to a slight health issue, I wasn’t pressuring myself to beat 2:01.

Race day arrived and it was cold and very rainy. But with another flat course, everything lined up. My pace was faster than expected. I remember feeling glee at the 15 km mark, knowing that I had a chance at beating 2 hours. Eventually the two-hour pace bunny caught up to me and I pushed with everything I had to keep ahead of him. I came in by the skin of my teeth at 1:59:54, and burst into tears at the finish.

Looking back, it’s kind of hard to believe I accomplished my goal of running three half-marathons in one year. Running 21.1 km in under two hours wasn’t even really a goal until I had it within reach. Ever since I started running races a couple years ago my goals have always been just to keep improving – and it works!

For me, the enjoyment and fulfillment that running brings continues to surpass anything I ever imagined. I feel good. I feel confident. I am happy. It’s simple and joyful. It’s a challenge, but it’s fun.

Along the way there were a few challenges: between work commitments, holidays, heat, cold and rain – but nothing was insurmountable. I’ve made running a priority in my life, and I have fortunate not to deal with any injuries.

In a way accomplishing my running goals has filled me with pride, but in another way, it just seems like something I needed and wanted to do. Running is now a part of who I am, and I can’t imagine not doing it.

Race recaps:


Saint John:


medals 003

Here is April displaying her Tri-Cities medal.

Continue reading

In Andrew’s words – the Running Whys


Andrew McGilligan, second left, signed up for his first Tough Mudder event in the summer with four of his friends.

“When we started training, I wasn’t sure I would even finish let along feel really good at the end of it. …The experience has led me to keep up with running and even though some of my old thoughts still creep in when I’m on a run, they go away much quicker.”

I first met Andrew when he started in the sports department at the Telegraph Journal in 2006 and despite several job changes since then by both of us, we have kept in touch. In fact, we both took on the Father’s Day run in 2010 that was not that great for either of us but we finished and that started us on the path we enjoyed in 2013. This year, it culminated for Andrew when he, along with four friends, signed up for a Tough Mudder event in Vermont. His report is below.




by Andrew McGilligan

Prior to 2013, my athletic prowess peaked at being able to binge-watch television shows on Netflix without falling asleep.

So it came as a surprise to me and those around me when I decided to join a team and compete in a Tough Mudder race this past August in Vermont. Nothing about catching up Continue reading

Tempos and a missed run

This was not the greatest week for running as for some reason, it was a mental fight to get out the door each session. It cost me one session Wednesday as I just did not have it to get going after a day at work and then a special freelance photo job in the evening. Possibly, I will make it up Monday.

Overall, it was tough to take that first step all week (maybe the deck work caught up to me) but now that a week of vacation has hit, it figures to get easier. I must admit that reading others’ blogs or updates got me going with some messages of inspiration or dedication. Reading those made me think that October’s run will get rated as a success only if I put in the work now. I’ve done that in the past but maybe because I am blogging, the accountability factor has jumped and there is no room to slack off.

And this is an intense week in the Pfitzner training plan for the P.E.I. Marathon so if I make up the lost run (8k recovery pace) on Monday, all will be good.

The big session of the week was Tuesday’s tempo effort, which consisted of 8km at 5:00 per km pace of a 14km run. It equalled the longest tempo distance of training so far and took me through some solid elevation swings. Good news is the tempo paces were all under 5:00 per km, averaging 4:55 and ranging between 4:48-4:59.

After Wednesday’s missed run, I hit the road for 16km on Thursday, averaging 5:57, which is consistent with my pacing (15 per cent above Marathon pace) the previous two times I ran that distance.

Friday was an off day and Saturday morning, I hit the treadmill for a light run at 6:47 per km.

Now to get back on track.


Tuesday – 3k warm up, then 8k tempo, aiming for 5:00 per km, 3k cool down

Thursday – 16k average 5:57

Saturday – 8k, treadmill. 6:50 pace while watching the British Open.

Sunday 26 k, with 13 at marathon pace

Good news is that weigh in this week was 182.5 pounds, down from 189 earlier in this cycle.

The week in review

Mental strategy is an interesting beast in the quest to run slightly under four hours in October’s running of the P.E.I. marathon. Music is a major help and developing a running music list is an enjoyable and required task of marathon preparations, it seems. Another factor for me is not looking too far ahead on any run, regardless of distance. I am not sure about others, but thinking about running 20k, when you are 250 metres into the first km, is a recipe for a poor effort.

As a result, I usually break down the run, whatever it is, into manageable stages and also the time components into 5-minute blocks, all of which have 1/4 mini barriers 75 seconds apart. It seems like constant shifting – Checking where I am at in distance to where I sit in regard to time stages to how many songs until the halfway point! Reaching half is a major psychological boost in many a jaunt!

Currently, I am at a point on long runs, where I have 6 stages of 3k. There are rewards (water at every stage, food – chocolate gel – at every second stage). But I got to thinking – what else – about other things I do when out for Sunday’s LSR. It may be crazy, but I also I count the people I encounter to help pass the time.

Last week, for example, I met 23 other runners and 22 other walkers, a close battle. Also, I met six dogs (who were with the walkers, not loose without a lease) and five cyclists. I want to be mentally fit at the end of the marathon and not too wonky, so this exercise helps a bit in, for lack of better term, helping me not lose it. (Some might suggest this is an example in the fact I have lost it!)

Last week

Sunday’s long run was a bit laboured as I went 18k on a sunny morning. In the first half with a pace goal of 20 per cent higher than marathon pace, I was slightly faster than the anticipated 6:41 per Km – clocking (Approx 6:25-6:28 per km). That was too fast. I run past a golf course in the area and back. Temp was approx 17C, with sun and no wind.  A glorious start to Father’s Day.

On the back half, the plan was to run at 6:09 per km or 10 per cent of marathon goal pace and I was all over the place in a 5:42-6:03 range. But the feel was not as positive as the week previously and I labored at points with hills and while I did not wear a heart rate monitor, it was a struggle. I attributed it to just one of those runs. Also could be due to a 4k run Saturday evening to help reach the weekly totals. Or the quicker pace.

Last week: 50 km, five outings, including 18k long run.

This week: (First week of Pfitzinger 18/55 plan) 53 km, four outings, 19k long run.

This week’s weight 187.5 lbs.


Getting ready to take on the Pfitz


The sunny beaches of P.E.I. look fantastic in the summer. My wife snapped this great shot a few years ago during one of our many visits to da Island. Symbolically, I wonder how they will appear in October, in the cool fall atmosphere, moments before the P.E.I. marathon kicks off.

A question for another day!

This week’s update comes on the eve of a small accomplishment. With just two weekend runs remaining, the first mini goal of the training program is almost complete – four weeks of progressing to the baseline of the Pfitzner 18/55 training plan for the P.E.I. Marathon.

There are a number of stages in the complete plan, with the next six weeks dedicated to endurance building. Long runs in this stage peak at 26 k and there is even a mid-week ‘medium long run’ that hits 16k at one point. Longer efforts are in store in the subsequent stages but this stage essentially builds your stamina on top of the blocks achieved in the preliminary round.

This week’s runs have included a tempo effort, with 4k at 5:00/per km pace as part of a 10k run, then a 6k recovery at 6:39/per km and a 12k general aerobic run Thursday at 6:21/per km.

On the weekend, I have an 18k long run planned for Father’s Day! No sleep in but I should be able to hit more than 50k for the week in five outings.

There is big news in the house this week, though. My lovely and talented wife is also going to run in P.E.I., as she is taking on the challenge of running the half marathon in and around Charlottetown. She is making great progress and is combining her efforts in the gym with running. It has already made a big difference as earlier this year, she knocked almost seven minutes off her 5k time from 1999!

This is what she wrote in her column this week: “Running a half marathon has always been on my bucket list, and I’ve got a ‘significant’ birthday coming up this year. It’s the perfect time to do something scary and challenging.

Awesome, I say.

Seems no shortage of marathon topics to read and watch as many have just started or are about to start their summer training for October marathons. On YouTube, one interesting topic was a screening this week of Spirit of the Marathon II in the U.S., a documentary on a number of runners at last year’s Rome Marathon. It looks fantastic and the trailer can be seen here.

However, there are also trailers for the opening version – Spirit of the Marathon, along with the entire first documentary, based on training for the Chicago Marathon in 2005.

This weekend, of course, many Dads will get crazy ties, gift certificates for the golf course and lots of special attention. I really can’t wait to see what the girls have in store. It is also a time of reflection though, one in memory of my father Jack. I wrote a piece after he died and I find myself reading it once in a while. From time to time, I find this story is a great reminder of days gone by.  I have a photo of him and I at the end of the 2000 Confederation Bridge run. He showed up to see what all the fuss was about and was there when I finished the 14k trek. I’ll try to track that down.

Have a great weekend.

First tempo

In preparation for next week’s debut into the Pfitz 18/55, I ran a tempo Tuesday. It’s been a while.

3k @ 6:19

4k @ 5:00

3k @ 6:19

Holy sweat. Indeed a challenging workout but I finished it, on the treadmill, while watching Game 3 of NBA final. 6k recovery tonight at super slow pace.