Sunday, August 30, 2015

They Must Be Runners!

Tuesday’s run was much better than the 500m fiasco. I did have a bit of anxiety before we started out wondering if there would be a repeat which would be the beginning of a long streak of 500m runs. I’m happy to report that this was not the case.

I ran with Renee again. We discussed our options and decided on two laps of Neil’s Pond which would be 5k. Instead, we ended up doing a 6k run. We (Renee) kept changing the route as we ran and eventually we ended up on Mary Ann Place. As we were looping the cul-de-sac we passed a group of kindergartners who stopped what they were doing and stared at us like we were Santa and Rudolph. One of them whispered to the others “They must be runners!”

In that moment, I realized that to these 5 year olds I looked like an elite runner. It felt pretty sweet. It just goes to show that no matter what your pace there is someone out there who thinks that you are amazing at what you do - even if that person also thinks the Tooth Fairy has a castle in the sky made from teeth.

Enter Thursday. As I was waiting in the parking lot, I get the usual text from Renee.

For some reason, I tried to convince Renee to do a short run instead of nothing. She grudgingly agreed and we headed out for our two loops of Neil’s Pond. Once all the other PRCers passed us, I realized that Renee was having a 500m night. It just wasn’t there. So we decided to walk instead.

Right to Coffee Matters.


There is something a little odd about drinking tea and eating Rice Krispie cookies while wearing running gear and a fuel belt.

I’m sure every member of the club ran past us on the way back to the community center. Most were too fast to notice our beverages, but not all. Tanya, Sue and Sharon stopped for a chat before heading on down the trail to rat us out to our husbands.

Marc and Sugar almost never run together. And when they do, they never stop or slow down when they pass us. Thursday was the perfect storm.

We promised the men that we would make up for the run on Friday. It didn’t happen.
We decided to go Saturday afternoon instead. It didn’t happen.
Sunday afternoon would be better anyway. It didn’t happen.

I realize now that was most likely my last "run" for the month which also means my last blog entry.

What has this time of reflection taught me?

1)     If you aren’t enjoying your running, figure out why and make the necessary changes (Go shoe shopping and make cookies)

2)     Everyone has bad running days/months/years. It doesn't mean you have to give up on your goals (Colin Fewer didn’t run the Tely 10 this year and he’s awesome)

3)     There will always be someone faster than you and that’s okay (you are ahead of those home on the couch)

4)     You never know who you are inspiring (everyone is a hero to someone)

5)     Don’t be a slave to your schedule (It’s okay to miss a run if your bestie needs a tea break)

I still don’t love running but we’ve reached a truce. I will continue to run and I’ll keep on trying to figure out how to make it more enjoyable. It may take some time and lots more Rice Krispies but I’m up for the challenge. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Runner's High (and Low)

Last Wednesday Sugar and I decided to take part in Biped’s first ever (and hopefully annual) Scavenger Hunt Run. The staff had put together a list of clues for us to solve and we had to run around downtown St. John’s trying to find the locations. It was at this run that I discovered that I am actually able to reach a 6:11 pace. All I need is a puzzle to solve along the way.

We didn’t win the hunt but we had a lot of fun and there were chocolate bars at the finish. Score! It was nice to see PRCers Amanda and Sarah there too and I think they had just as much fun as Sugar and I.

It was another good run. I picked the big toothy grin on my app because I had such a great time.

I had planned on skipping Thursday’s run since I ran on Wednesday. Sugar was working and there was no one to encourage me to go. I was all set for a relaxing evening in front of the television.

Then I get a text from Renee.

Then I get a call from Sugar telling me he finished work early and was going to the group run if I wanted to go.

Looks like I’m running.

Renee and I did 5k in her best time to date. The look on her face when she realized that was one of complete disbelief. Running has definitely been on the upward swing lately.

Then Sunday happened.

I was working on Saturday morning (again) so I didn’t make the group run. On Sunday Sugar played the guilt card and suggested we go for a 10k run down the trail.

I’ve discovered that a lot of people run not out of love for the sport, but out of guilt. Some examples:

1)                           I missed a run because of work. I have to make it up or my race time will suffer.
2)                           I only ran 5k when my schedule says 8k. I have to run the extra 3k or my entire training plan will fall apart.
3)                           I ate two Costco sized bags of chips this weekend, now I have to run to Port aux Basques to burn off the calories.

In my case it was pulled pork poutine but they thought process was the same.

If I was still following my training plan, I’d be doing 10k so I was happy with the suggested distance. Things had been looking up running wise so I was feeling good about getting back on the trail, having another successful experience.

I think I made it about 500m.

It might have been the humidity. It might have been the attempt to run a 6:11 pace again. Or it might have been the tasty pixie drinks I’d consumed the night before. Either way, I didn’t have the ability to run without an air sick bag strapped to my fuel belt.

Sugar gave me a pep talk on the walk back to the car, doing his best to make sure this set back didn’t derail my progress. “We all have days like this,” might seem trite but I know it’s true. I’ve seen many strong, competent runners have bad days. It’s just a part of being a runner. I have no plans to let this one bad experience put an end to all the success I’ve had so far.  

Tomorrow is Tuesday. It’s another opportunity to run with the group and another chance to work towards running goals. Don’t let the little stumbling blocks prevent you from joining me J

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Renee Alivio is AWESOME!!

Don’t worry, she hasn’t hijacked the blog. She really is awesome.

I got to run 5k with her on Thursday for the first time since our Tely 10 start line nap incident. Normally when we run together, we end up walking and discussing how much running sucks, but not this time. Renee was in the zone! She put in her headphones and took off like Colin Fewer at the Tely 10. I was behind her for almost the entire run. At first I thought it was because she has had her new Sauconys for longer than I have. Or maybe listening to Eddie Vedder really does give you the ability to run like the wind. But then I realized it was more likely that Renee is working towards achieving a goal. Maybe it’s to be faster. Maybe it’s to train harder. Maybe she secretly wants to beat her husband in just one race. Or maybe she, like me, is trying to learn to run without feeling horrible.

Whatever her motivation, it seems to be working.

Lots of PRCers say they need a goal in order to keep them running. They register for races so they will continue to train. Having a goal keeps them on track.

So maybe I should set a goal. Not the how-many-seasons-of-Elementary-can-I-watch-in-one-day type of goal, but something that will help me enjoy running more. My secret goal of the Tely/Half never came to fruition, so maybe I should figure out how to run beyond 13k and not spend the rest of the week horizontal. Or in the bathroom.

It’s possible it has to do with what I eat (or don’t eat) before or during a long run. I started drinking Gatorade on all my runs about 5 months ago and it has definitely made a difference. I no longer get the leg cramps that were obviously a sign of dehydration. Maybe it’s time to introduce some snacks into my runs as well.

There are thousands of articles online with advice on how to improve as a runner, but I figured I’d start with the ultimate source of running knowledge, the Ironman, Craig Pike. Ironman loves chocolate and he can run 67km in one day so maybe he has a secret food that gets him through (fingers crossed it’s Big Turk Bars).

Ironman had several suggestions:

1)     avoid milk and milk products on the day you run. (there goes the chocolate theory)

2)     replace 75% of the fluids you use on a run. (note to self, add another water bottle to your fuel belt)

3)     replace 50% of the calories you burn by eating something high in carbs/low in fibre during the run. Like Rice Krispy Cookies cut into small cubes. (….Did he just say cookies?)

My brain just fist pumped my taste buds. Ok, we need more info.

Is there a recommended cookie to kilometer ratio? Should I go with homemade or pre-packaged? And why has nobody mentioned this before?????

So on Monday afternoon, armed with my Gatorade and my little square treats I decided to put my new plan into action. Sugar decided to join me (I think it was to make sure I didn’t just sit in the car and eat a tray of cookies) and we headed down the T’railway with 10k on our minds. Somewhere along the route I bumped that number up to 13k, which is where my running goals came to an abrupt halt this summer. I wanted to see if Snap, Crackle and Pop could actually make a difference in my overall level of crappiness post run.

13k later, my muscles were a little sore, but I am pleased to announce that everything else stayed where it should. I couldn’t believe it. I could still function. There was no hatred, no disgust, no wanting to crawl into a hole and die.

Craig Pike is AWESOME!!

I am definitely looking forward to my next long run and not just because I get to eat cookies. I think I’m going to continue my original training plan and see how far it takes me. Just because I’m not running the races doesn’t mean I have to give up on the goal. There’s always next year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Saturday’s group run was replaced with PRC’s 8k race, The Figure 8. I wasn’t able to run since I had to work, but I was able to help out with registration before the race.

I always have mixed feelings on race day. If I’m running I feel sick and full of regret that I actually paid to do this. I could be on the side lines cheering everyone on, or better yet, still home in bed watching re-runs of The Big Bang Theory while eating Sour Cream and Onion Rings. But then the race starts and the anxiousness leaves and before I know it I’m across the finish line, feeling pretty good about the whole thing as I eat a celebratory banana with my fellow runners.

If I’m not racing, things usually go the other way. I feel all smug that I’m not standing at the start line feeling sick and full of regret, wishing I had made one more trip to the bathroom. But once the yellow singlets start passing by and the race finishes and everyone is talking about times, I feel like I missed out on something great. And the bananas don’t taste as good.

PRCer Kiley Dominie won the Figure 8 in a time of 31:13. He too must have new Saucony’s. However, even with my new sneakers, I am well aware that I would have only been at the 4k mark as Kiley Dominator crossed the finish line.

This might be discouraging to some but not to me. Because I just don’t care. I will never run 8k in 31 minutes. I probably won’t ever run 5k in 31 minutes and what’s more, I don’t ever NEED to. I will never cross a finish line first. I will never place in my age group (unless there are only three of us). Nike and Saucony will never have a bidding war over who gets to have me as a spokesperson for their merchandise (FYI – Saucony would win). That’s just the way it is and I’m okay with that. It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I don’t need to be the best.

I learned pretty early on in my running career that I have to run for myself, no one else. I have to run my pace, not the pace of that 70 year old man who always crosses the finish line just ahead of me. It takes practice to forget about everyone else and listen to what your body is telling you but once you figure it out, you’ll be more likely to stick with the sport.

It’s why I pushed on at the back of the pack on Tuesday’s run. It was hot and we took a hilly route thanks to Sugar’s suggestion. As the distance increased between the rest of the girls and myself I forced my thoughts to what would keep me going – “run the kilometer you’re in” and “look for the positives on this run”. I’ve discovered that looking for the positives helps me to forget the kilometers. For example, as we ran down Donna Road there was the most wonderful scent from a lilac tree. Marathoner Extraordinaire Mrs. Collins was waiting for me at the corner to make sure I wasn’t dead. Oh, and that cat in the ditch that assumed the attack pounce position did not jump on me and rip my new sneakers to shreds.

Crossing Topsail Road and heading up another hill on Karwood Drive, I briefly considered taking a short cut down the heavily shaded and beautifully flat Trailway. Marathoner Extraordinaire Mrs. Collins was just ahead of me – I could let her know I was taking a detour. The heat and hills were just too much of a challenge. Then I saw this:

Construction sign motivation. Very funny. I get it. It’s a challenge, I’m the challenger. OK, I’ll keep going.

This challenger has a support crew. Kind of like me and Marathoner Extraordinaire Mrs. Collins. I have to keep going.

This challenger has fallen flat on its face. I think it’s time for a walk break.

Marathoner Extraordinaire Mrs. Collins waited for me near the roundabout and we finished the rest of the route together before going to Dairy Queen. 7.42 km was the distance recorded on my app. The time – well, it really doesn’t matter now does it?

Friday, August 7, 2015


If you’ve run with me you’ve probably heard me “joke” about how it would be nice to have a slight injury – nothing so serious it would take me out of the game, just something minor that would provide me with a good excuse for not running.

There are many people in PRC who have run with injuries, unable to stand the thought of missing out on a run. Stress fractures, broken toes, IT band issues, knee pain, back spasms, mange, blight, you name it. All I needed was a hang nail to take me out.

Then, about a week ago I felt a slight twinge in my ankle. I noticed it one evening at home and figured it was nothing much, just aches at the end of a long day. Throughout the week I noticed the pain returned each evening after a day on my feet. I called my family doctor to make an appointment but it turns out he had enough of the crappy weather July had on offer and got out of dodge for a while.

So on Thursday before the group run I was faced with a dilemma. To run or not to run? I had the perfect excuse – a slight injury, just like I always wanted. But instead of refrains of “Happy Birthday to ME!!!” blaring in my mind, the only song stuck in my head was “Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone)” by Cinderella.

I had visions of x-rays, stress fractures and wearing that big boot they make you wear. Months of physiotherapy. Years of rehabilitation. Never being able to run again.

Don’t know what you got, til it’s gone, don’t know what it is I did so wrong…and it ain’t easy to get back, takes so long.

Was I really disappointed at the thought of missing out on the group runs? Or would I just miss spending time with my favorite people? The jury’s still out.

My ankle wasn’t bothering me at run time, so I decided to go ahead and give it a try, preparing myself for a short run that I could cut even shorter if my ankle broke. I looked around at the group members to see if any of the one million nurses who run with PRC were there to assist me with a speed splint if needed. All my bases were covered.

There were a couple of newcomers out for a test run, looking for someone slow to run with and our Membership Coordinator Andrew naturally thought of me. It couldn’t have worked out better. We decided to do a 5k run and skip the hill training since there were several in the group with injuries. It was hot and sticky but we managed to finish our run in 39 minutes and no ambulances were required.

It was a decent run. I didn’t hate it or feel like death. My new sneakers were still able to keep rocks and blisters out. Smiley face selected again. It might not be love but things are definitely looking up.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I'm Just Fooling Myself

“I think I should get new sneakers.”

This phrase, joyfully uttered by runners worldwide, just escaped my lips. I’ve been thinking that maybe part of my issue with running is that I have the wrong foot wear. I have two new pairs that were purchased within the last 3 months but both have been giving me grief. One pair gives me blisters and the other likes to drive rocks up through the soles of my feet. Fun times.

Ever supportive, Sugar jumped back up on the encouragement band wagon and suggested I go out and get a pair of Saucony’s. He recently bought a pair and swears he will never own any other kind. I have been cheaping out on the sneaker front, not wanting to pay too much for something that I really don’t enjoy using or could quit doing at any time. Maybe it’s time to suck it up and invest in something that will actually be comfortable when I run.

Capitalizing on his desire for me to have a positive running experience, I suggested to Sugar that he accompany me to the store to buy my new sneakers. There was a single second of sheer panic in his eyes as he realized there was no way out before he cleverly masked it with husbandly duty and agreed to come along for support.

We headed downtown to Biped Sports. Within 5 minutes I was running on the store treadmill in a pair of 7 ½ blue and pink Sauconys that matched my outfit. The sneakers have words like offset, power grid and guide 7 on them but I have no idea what any of that means. What I do know is that my feet didn’t hurt when I ran on the treadmill and that was a wonderful feeling. Sugar suggested I stay on the treadmill until I was sure the shoes were a good match, which, in his words, “could take a while.”  I ran flat and on an incline, fast and slow, wondering if anyone else had ever run on a treadmill wearing a dress. All the while Sugar sat smiling in the chair next to me watching the T.V. above my head. Like I said, ever supportive.

We paid for the shoes (which were actually much less than I thought), got some good advice from the staff on how to tie my new sneakers to help avoid blisters and headed home. For the first time in a long time I was looking forward to the next group run.

This evening armed with my new feet pleasers, fuel belt and a vat of glide I headed out with the group, feeling very runnerish. 8 km was on everyone’s schedule. I have no schedule so I figured I’d follow the group and see where I ended up.

By kilometer two I was feeling the effects of the heat and started convincing myself that I couldn’t run 8km. I started thinking about doing 6km or going a different route that was only 5km or…..then out of nowhere, I remembered something I once heard from a very wise PRCer: “Run the kilometer you are in.”

So I told my brain that we were running 3km. My brain was fine with that. It was only one more kilometer. At the 3km point, I told my brain we were going to do one more to make it to 4km. My brain was okay with that as well.

After an hour I had finished the 8k. My brain had no idea I was so clever. More importantly, there were no blisters and no rocks sticking out of my arches. BEST.SNEAKERS.EVER.

I had a not-unpleasant run. I selected the smiley face on my running app when it asked how I felt. Not the big toothy grin, just the smile. I don't want to get running's hopes up just yet. Still, I'm hopeful this won’t be a one hit wonder. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

I Apologize

I would like to apologize to everyone who came here expecting to read another of Renee's awesome blogs. This month, you are stuck with me.

My name is Shelley Gosse and I don't like to run. I wouldn't say I hate it, but lets just say if me and running were married, we'd be in therapy.

I do however love my running group. These people are the reason I keep going. I envy their drive and ability to love running. "I had an awesome run!" is something I hear a lot. A LOT. I can't relate. But I sit and listen to their stories in a childlike-magic-of-Christmas kind of awe. These people are machines. They are amazing creatures. It seems as if they are always planning and training for that next big race with the same anticipation that I feel just before I book my next cruise vacation or eat a bag of Cheetos.

Now that the Tely 10 is over (I passed out Mr. Freezes and took pictures) and the more than 90 PRCers who raced (some with stress fractures) have posted and shared their PB's and race photos on Facebook, all eyes are turned towards the Huffin Puffin and Cape to Cabot races. Registration opened for the C2C yesterday morning and sold out in a matter of hours. My news feed is full of people posting just one word. "In!" This means one thing for me - hot chocolate on Signal Hill while wearing a survival suit.

The Huffin Puffin is a different story. My running buddy Renee (again I apologize) asked me to join her on a relay team for the race. I've done the relay twice before and agreed to do it again because there is always an amazing barbecue post race and it gives me a chance to spend time with my running peeps outside of running gear.

I do have to confess something at this point. Back in March I decided that I might possibly to the Huffin Puffin Half. I had decided to do my version of training which included running the Tely and continuing on to the half. All was going according to plan until I hit the 13k training run. I finished that run feeling like a gigantic cow patty. It all went down hill from there.

I spent the next couple of weeks giving running the finger anytime I saw it. If I did go out I was more likely to walk/dance/skip along the trail with Renee and Gina than run. I was secretly loving the crappy weather we were having because 9 times out of 10, if it was raining, the husband (a.k.a Sugar) wouldn't venture out for a run which meant I didn't have to go either.

My funk lasted until the Tely was over. And it was then that I realized that I was disappointed that I wasn't able to reach my goal. Most of the PRCers have a goal during the running season - first Tely, first half, first marathon, first C2C. My ultimate goal is more in the line of being able to sit on the couch and eat coconut macaroons and still lose 10 pounds.

With this new epiphany of mine and some encouragement from Sugar to try to look at running in a more positive light, I said yes when he suggested a run yesterday afternoon. I missed the group run that morning due to work and he missed it due to C2C registration. He planned on 10k and said I should do 8k. For some reason I agreed.

I ran around Neil's and Octagon Ponds eating the May flies and trying to look for the positive things about this run. It took a while but then something great happened. Coming along the trail towards me were my good friends the Ralphs, also out for an afternoon run. I stopped for a few minutes, had a chat and the next thing I knew, I was having beer can chicken in their kitchen while listening to the greatest hits of the 80's on Spotify.

In case you are wondering, I did finish my run. 8.4 k in 1:01:21. Not breaking any records, but I did it and more importantly, I made the first step in rekindling (or rather, igniting) a luke-warm feeling towards an estranged partner who seemingly only wants the best for me.