Race #6: Brian Harms Memorial

This is the second year that I’ve ran in the Brian Harms, a memorial event that takes place every Mothers Day in Grande Prairie.

Last year I did the 8 k & had a miserable time. I’d ran my first half marathon in early April, & felt like I was becoming a runner (yay!) . . . except then I stopped running. Why do I do that to myself? I ran once between the half & the 8 k & on race day, a giant hill in Muskosippi Park almost did me in. I finished, but it wasn’t an event I felt very good about.

This year, I had a better plan. I signed up for the 5 k & was in much better running shape. Unfortunately, the starting location of the race was moved from the South Bear Creek Pavilion to behind the Eastlink Centre, which is basically a sad grassy area off a parking lot with a view of backyard fences. South Bear Creek, on the other hand, had beautiful trees & trails & bathrooms! I can’t be the only runner who gets the nervous pees. While we ended up on a similar route to last year, I really hope it gets changed back. It was also so cold & windy that the DJ that was supposed to play music never showed up! The whole thing was pretty disorganized due to the weather . . . the speeches & instructions were given inside the Eastlink (which we had no way of knowing) & then we all headed outside.

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I stalled until the very last minute with taking off my sweater, & tossed it to my Mom as the race began. Just like last year, my Mom got up early on Mothers Day to come & cheer me on at the Brian Harms. She must have been freezing standing around for over half an hour, but stuck it out like a champ. After years of watching my hockey, volleyball, & basketball games, it’s nice to know that I haven’t lost my biggest fan.

I ran pretty well, & even enjoyed myself once we turned into the park where the trees provided some protection from the wind. I stopped to walk once, up a large hill near the end, then tried to finish as strong as possible. The wind was blowing completely against me the last kilometre or so, & it even started to rain. There were a couple of little girls who were struggling to make any headway against the wind, & I was honestly scared it might blow them away. I tried to give them some encouragement, but the poor kids looked so dejected. Considering the circumstances, I was happy with my time & very happy to be heading into a warm vehicle.

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Unfortunately, I just missed placing #3 in my age category & receiving a medal. It was some consolation that the fastest time in the whole event was recorded by a girl in the 20-29 year old female group. For the past several years she has ran for the college, & was placed in a special elite category. Last year she graduated, so is no longer sponsored, & can run with the rest of us. Darn! I’m so close to receiving a placement medal for top three. For now, I’m trusting the process & my progress. One of these times I’m going to get it.

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There’s two really great parts about running the Brian Harms: I get to spend time with my Mom on Mothers Day & I know there’s a brunch reservation with hot coffee & waffles waiting for us afterwards!

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Race #5: Suck it up Buttercup 10 k

This race came on the last weekend of Spring Break, after my return from Vancouver Island. I stuck to my training schedule for a sub-60 minute 10 k pretty consistently, & even got up early one morning on vacation to run in the hotel’s gym.

On race day, we arrived at Rundle Park in Edmonton, & I faced the conundrum that most runners do on a windy day: do I run in shorts & a T-shirt a freeze at the start line, or run in pants & a windbreaker & be uncomfortably sweaty a few kilometres in? About 5 minutes in, I know that I’d  made the right decision to ditch my heavier clothes, but that was the least of my problems . . .
startinglineThe Suck it Up Buttercup 10 k presented  a huge mental challenge for me. My training had went well, but almost as soon as I started running I was absolutely miserable. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was completely out of shape. I felt that I should just give up & walk since my watch wasn’t working & I couldn’t possibly pace myself to complete the race in under my goal time of 60 minutes without the data from my watch. My self talk was so negative I honestly wanted to cry. The trails at Rundle Park were hilly & the cement was uneven. On that day, running felt like complete torture.

Running is such a weird sport. Some days it sucks, & it hurts, & you hate it with every fibre of your being. On other days, it energizes you, makes you feel alive, & lets you feel like you could conquer the world.

Deep, deep down, in my heart & in my head, I think I knew that quitting wasn’t really an option.

You can keep going & your legs might hurt for a week or you can quit & your mind will hurt for a lifetime.

-Mark Allen

I am not a quitter. I have never been someone to bow out when things get tough, & I never will be. I didn’t let the negative self-talk win. I kept going. I ran 5 k, then stopped for a short walking break. By this point, I’d realized that my watch wasn’t really broken at all, & that I’d finished the first half in about 30 minutes. I was on pace to meet my goal!

The second half I was in a much better place mentally. Physically, I was really pushing myself, & was really hurting. I used to run a 5 k in about 33 minutes. Could I really do a 10 k in under 60? A few years ago, I thought that I was shooting really high when I wrote down my goal of completing an entire 10 k without stopping, but a few months ago I ran an entire half marathon without stopping. I can do hard things. I have completed challenges that seem really difficult. I could do this too . . .

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& I did! I crossed the finish line at 58: 40 & placed #3 in my age category (although this changed later, on the results site, I still take that placement as a major win! It shows  my huge progress).

Every race is an adventure, & every race has a lesson. I think Oprah sums this one up nicely:

Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.

-Oprah Winfrey

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Paint Nite

Paint Nite events have been popping up everywhere lately, & they’re something that’s right up my alley. Friends, snacks, drinksmohpaint, & art? Yes, please!

Luckily, my amazing friends put together a surprise Paint Nite for my stagette with Alicia Doerksen from Art of a Country Girl &, without knowing, helped me check something off my 2016 bucket list at the same time. So perfect!  Alicia doesn’t advertise, & relies on word-of-mouth. So here’s my word-of-mouth endorsement: she was awesome!
We had a group of twelve ladies, ranging from my former hockey teammates to my future mother-in-law. It was low-key, & exactly what I would have picked if I’d planned the stagette myself.

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We started with the background, creating a sunset of layered colours. Next, Alicia taught us a little trick to make the horizon line; wait for the paint to dry, stick a piece of masking tape across to create a straight line, then paint on your ocean. Voila!

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I usually find painting really scary & anxiety-inducing because the idea of messing up & “ruining” my piece is floating around in the back of my mind. Luckily, Alicia gave great directions about how to put the paint on the brush, what type of brush strokes to use, & made me so comfortable that I went ahead & painted some palm trees into the foreground that don’t look half bad!

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At first, I thought that at a Paint Nite, everyone’s pieces would be pretty much identical, but that’s totally not the case. I love how everyone’s finished painting is unique, & reflect’s their personalities.

We had so much fun, my Mom & I are now organizing a Christmas-themed Paint Nite with ladies from her family. At this rate, I might end up with a whole gallery of Kirsten originals!

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