In Julia’s words – The Running Whys


Julia celebrates after crossing the finish line to complete the Legs for Literacy half marathon in October.

“My mom and step-dad were cheering me on from the roadside—and I finished the race 10 minutes faster than my goal time. I felt like white-girl Usain Bolt. I blasted Bruce Springsteen on my iPod and went full-out. I was hooked. Summer 2013 turned into a summer of (by my standards) serious running.”

One of the beauties of social media is the ability to connect in group forums and work on common goals. That’s where I got to know Julia, in a running group our mutual friend April developed in December. The aim of the Saint John Streakers – not that kind of streakers! – was to run at least one mile each day during the month. You could run longer if you wanted but the overall goal was to help keep the holiday weight gain to a minimum. We monitored our progress with updates on Facebook and Julia was one of the most enthusiastic and regular participants, even celebrating her birthday with a monster length run after Christmas. But as we learn, running in 2013 provided much more for Julia.

Her story is below.




by Julia Wright

It’s kind of hard for me to explain how I got into running: I was a bookish, non-athletic kid. Gym class felt like a special torture devised to embarrass me. I preferred to write lines in advance, stuff them into the teacher’s hands, then park myself on the bench with the Chronicles of Narnia or Harriet the Spy. Continue reading

Officially registered


OK, no turning back now. We are all officially registered for the P.E.I. Marathon next month. A mere formality but significant one, none-the-less.

Yup, we are all in – running the full, the half and the Spud Run, a two-lapper at the UPEI track for the girls.

I held back a bit before signing up because the refund policy is not great for many marathons if something arises – injury for example – that causes you to miss it. But hopefully that will not happen. A lot of races, like this one, will allow you to forward your entry to next year if something pops up but who knows what next year will bring.

With a lot of good options in New Brunswick and elsewhere, maybe other centres will interest us. Or maybe ,…well, won’t think about other maybes. Thus, the delay, even though the commitment was essentially made in May.

Also, this week was the deadline for getting a personalized bib and considering the significance of the event, that was a nice incentive to finally shell out the cash. That is purely from a scrapbook point of view but more and more marathons have these and it is a nice touch.

Finally, as you can see by the screen grab above, the time is ticking for training.

Pacing this week has been good. On Tuesday, it resumed with a 13k that included 5×600 metre speed segments that I pulled off at 4:30 per km or better pace, a big carryover in confidence from the Hampton 5-Miler on the weekend.

Wednesday’s medium long run of 19 k was pushed to Thursday, in part because I was pretty tired but also because a lightning storm hit when I would have run anyway.

I switched it with a planned off day Thursday but the run then conflicted with the Pats-Jets game. I needed a plan.

I thought I figured out an app to listen to the game on my iPhone while I ran- how good was that? – but after the pre-game show ended, and my anticipation levels rose, the pre-game show repeated and I had no live feed.

I am sure there was an easy or alternate solution but 3.5 k in at 9 p.m., I was not blessed with time, light or patience to figure it out.

So instead, I logged onto ESPN and got the regular updates from the web. At one point though, right around the time a Jets TD was being reviewed (an ultimately overturned) I stopped running and kept hitting refresh. Since there was light rain, I took my glasses off to get a look. The review seem to take forever. I started to walk, then run, slowly, with no glasses, an iphone to my nose, waiting for the result.

Then I clued in – this is a little ridiculous.

Must have looked odd – in the rain, blurred eyes trying to focus on the phone while walking/running in the dark.

Not good. Luckily, I escaped my madness unharmed!

However, I regained focus, got home in time to catch the second half, the Pats won and I completed an interesting 19.5 km effort in warm, misty, foggy conditions.

This weekend includes two 8km runs and one 29k effort with 23k at marathon pace.

Thankfully, the Pats won’t interfere with this one.

Passing the first test

As mentioned last week, the family tackled the annual Hampton Five-Miler on Sunday, the fourth straight year we have taken part in this great community effort, one backed by a strong volunteer contingent. It is slickly produced with years of experience supporting those in charge. There are three races, lots of energy and plenty of post-race food afterward.

The girls raced in the one-km dash and Kathy took part in the main 5-mile feature, knocking two minutes off her previous best clocking. In fact, a number of friends were in attendance and many produced new best times.

It was that kind of day.

My buildup for the event was pretty light, as I went 18k on Thursday, with 8 km tempo, all below 5:00 per km. I took Friday off and then went 10k at an easy pace on Saturday.

That set the stage for Sunday, where it was the first of two formal tests in training for the P.E.I. Marathon.

The idea was to run as fast as you would in a race and not hold back and turn it into a training run. There is still a lengthy period of time to recover and the final result would be true indication of where I was at in terms of fitness and training for the big race on the Island next month.

The next test is in Fredericton, where the distance increases to 21.1 km.

So the goal Sunday was a new OGPR (old guy personal record, which started in 2010) for the distance. Luckily, the previous Hampton runs gave me understanding of the course.

In 2010, I went just under 41 minutes and the past two years, I was 38:04 and 38:02.

So anywhere from 36:00-37:59 was the desired result but given the hurdles the past couple of weeks, confidence was low.

The race features one significant climb that crests shortly before the 3k mark and plenty of speed inducing downhill segments from that point on. And 5 miles is slightly more than 8 km (8.05 km) , so I hadn’t taken that into account when I figured my pace should be at 4:38 or better for the distance.

The conditions were good as it was cool, cloudy and a threat of rain that in fact hit in the late stages. In short, I went for it, figuring if I was going to crash, it was going to be spectacular.

For 8 km, I hit 36:56 and my Garmin measured the 5 miles at 8:09 km – for a final time of 37:13, some 49 seconds better than my previous OGPR standard.  Solid result, for sure. I was winded but looking back, there is definitely room for improvement.

I took Monday off and will get back at it tonight, with 13 km, which includes 5 by 600-metre repeats at 4:45 per km speed. Wednesday is a 19 km medium long run. The big test this weekend is a 29 km long run with 23 km at Marathon pace, which is 5:35-5:40 per km.

Tempo Thursday

Thursday’s recap is a short one, but it was a long run, some 18km.

The biggest challenge was instead of Tempo Tuesday, It was Tempo Thursday, with 8 km of fast paced running in the middle of the 18km scheduled run, at 5:00 per km or better. It has been a while since I did a solid tempo effort and I must admit to approaching them with plenty of angst.

That said, through a series of rolling hills, I was under 5:00 for the desired distance – ranging from 4:44 to 4:58 and slightly over 39 minutes for the 8km.

Yup, it hurt, especially my hamstrings at the end, but it was worth it. And it was the first time this summer, I ran in pants and gloves – discouraging in some respects but encouraging that humidity was not a factor!

I have another long slow run of 19 km either Friday or Saturday and the Hampton Five Miler on Sunday. I might be able to crack a sub -38 minute time Sunday but the forecast is calling for cool temperatures and rain. Sometimes, those are good factors to produce a solid time. We shall see.