Training update

Hey so I’m back! Realized that I haven’t blogged in a bit. Been back training strong real consistently since my injury and Brantford Classic. Time flies when your focus is set like a laser. As for training, I’ve kept my mileage in check only 90k max so far and have been focusing on quality workouts. It’s nice right now.

Quality hurts like a bitch… Josh has me running 3:30 pace for a lot of workouts which is crazy. It motivates me for the future…thinking this will one day be my half race pace. It’s awesome because I had no idea that I could go that fast. When you reach that pace and excell at it it’s pretty damn cool.

I’ve been focusing on weight training too, which I know has helped my speed and technique.  I’ll be starting my race season soon which means it’s time to start fine tuning my mental game. I’m on track right now,  a few weeks back I hit a new level of effort- almost blacked out during a workout.  Basically, I have been pushing past the fatigue and leg pain to a point where all of my effort is there. It’s amazing. If I can keep this going during races the sky’s the limit.

Looking forward to testing out my race legs. More to come soon!
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Post-Injury & Brantford Classic 10k

So the last month has had its ups and downs. On the plus side, I was so so happy to be

Pre-race shakeout

Pre-race shakeout

training again, but the problem was pacing myself. I was doing a good job not running too much but always thinking about it was just as bad as the stress of actually running those miles. It’s been over 2 years since I’ve had an injury serious enough to take me out for an entire month and I forgot what that felt like coming back – a lot of aches and phantom pains. Always in the back of my head for the last month I was thinking – is it healed? I took it real easy for 3 weeks starting at 30% of my pre-injury mileage. My weeks were 30km, 40km, 50k, and finally 60k this week with a race.

SKECHERS race kit

SKECHERS race kit

I knew Brantford Classic was a nice, small local meet that I could place well at. Josh and I decided that I have been overthinking my injury and I needed to race just to see how it feels. This was exactly what I needed. The day before I did an easy 7k shakeout and the nerves were prevalent.

I lined up in my Skechers singlet for the first time, which was exciting along with my new Skechers gear. I was super nervous as I added up the months it’d been since I raced – 5. I decided a few days before that my goal pace was no faster than 3:50’s (because I really didn’t want to go out too hard and blow up).

Here are my splits:

I was pretty happy with the first few splits and then at about 3km in I got the worst stomach cramp. I could tell it was from my shallow breathing due to lack of workouts. Unfortunately, that did not go away anytime soon as I saw my splits slow down from 3:50 to 4:00/k. I just told myself to keep pushing, I had been in 4th overall for most of the race now and knew no one would be challenging me for top female, so I took comfort in that. After nearly 5km with a cramp it finally eased up just after 3km to go and I started to pick it back up. Luckily I found my 11198787_10153609282282334_463521098_nlegs because the last part of the course was tough including a steep uphill with a 90 degree right hand turn followed by running over a bridge and a slight incline all the way to the finish.

I came across the line 1st female & 4th overall. The race director got me to take a photo with him and the plaque right at the finish, as I tried to catch my breath …I don’t want to see THAT picture.

That was not the easiest effort for a sub 40 10k that I’ve ever ran but it was gutsy. I had that cramp but I fought it and didn’t let it slow me much. Keep pushing no matter what always, make the race something even if it isn’t time or placing.

On that note, here’s my fortune from Sunday – Run on!

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Here’s a few post-race celebration pics

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Back to the pavement!

I’m so excited to be running again! It was a torturous month off especially every day that got closer to ATB knowing I couldn’t race it more and more with each day that passed. But the universe allowed me to run finally the night after watching all the ATB runners.

Now for the hard part… easing back into training.  I’ve been doing well so far not pushing it – running every other day for now. With how driven I am and my big goals it’s hard not to jump back into the grind. It hasn’t been quite that comfortable either. I realize I have a lot of work to doThis is me right now –> 

Pain everywhere! All these weird aches and pains that I know I can contribute to one thing: muscle atrophy. All those weeks of limping around and only swimming caused me to lose some muscle mass which I’ll need to build back now. I don’t mind working hard, I’m just happy to be back on my feet again! feet

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First Big Article & Around the Bay Thoughts

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BIG excitement this week! I found my article that I wrote for HoneyMaxx on their website and it makes me so excited to see my hard work up there for the world to see! If you haven’t seen it yet, you can read it here (there is also a copy on one of my past blog posts as well). If you’re wondering how did I get an article published/why – as part of Team HoneyMaxx, they ask that we each contribute 5 or so articles throughout the year. I chose strength training because of my knowledge from Kinesiology and personal training.

Photo Credit: CartoonStock.com

Photo Credit: CartoonStock.com

It was so fun writing it…. well my boyfriend might disagree as I was spending all my free time that weekend working on it – that damn Type A gets me every time – everything has to be perfect. I did a bit of background research on runner specific weaknesses (most of which I was already quite familiar with) and decided what type of writer I wanted to be. I wanted it to be professional yet some personality in it as well. I was quite pleased with the end result. I got Josh to help me take pictures for each exercise… another thing I was very picky with… and then decided the easiest way to describe each one. After reading it a million times (in Uni I always missed grammar errors), I sent it in and was excited that they didn’t want me to change anything and were ready to post it.

I love the idea of writing about running and physiology. My hopes with getting practice writing these articles is that maybe one day I can use them and apply for Canadian Running or another magazine. That’s how people end up in those “out of the box” jobs. What a dream to eat, sleep, and breathe running! And as for my Type A, I wouldn’t change that for anything! That’s the reason why I’m so ambitious and can push myself so hard.


As for Around the Bay….

As most of you know, I will not be racing ATB 30k this year. It’s sad, but no choice really. I have been training the last 6 months with ATB as my focus, but a freak injury at work took me out for the last month (and counting). I was hoping that I’d be fine after a few days to a week, but no go. I have a feeling that I need just a few more days to get back running. I’ve been taking the last 4 days as complete rest, no exercise at all because I go all out in anything I do so I figured maybe the pool running was irritating the injury. I will be at ATB supporting my awesome GRE teammates and reppin’ HoneyMaxx and Skechers.

Here’s a throwback to ATB 2 years ago – another year I couldn’t run (that time I had a concussion! – ATB curse? Let’s hope not!). I’ll be able relax, watch and take in the amazing race atmosphere that ATB is known for. The coolest finish ever! Running into Copps with everyone watching! So good luck to all my fellow competitors – you will do great! I will look forward to watching all the fast times and seeing everyone’s hard work pay off. Until then… run on!

ATB 2013

ATB 2013

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Recovery and staying sane

Here it is, week 4 of no running and trying to stay sane. A few weeks back I injured myself at work lifting too heavy of a weight and pulled my groin. Bit of a frustrating injury.  I thought it was slight so I pushed too hard and ran on it after a week off and needless to say I couldn’t walk the next day and had to find myself a pair of crutches.

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Every thing in life can be used as a learning curve. As soon as I realized it wasn’t just an ache but a real injury I jumped into the pool. Pool running has been my salvation; Try it! Just grab a water belt and jump into the pool for 1-1.5 hrs and get a great workout with minimal pressure on the injury. I’ve been using a great workout guide http://kemibe.com/distancecoach/labreports/water.shtml which has a 9 week progressive plan to stay in shape during injury time.

swimming-pool-504780_640What hit me is the memory of last time I was in the pool telling myself “I am going to keep this up so I don’t get injured – as prevention. ” But I didn’t – my own fault. Since hitting a more elite status of running, I’m realizing more and more that running over 100km weeks requires a lot more focus on recovery.  My body doesn’t bounce back like it would at 80k weeks.

I’m using this recovery to do research and learn more about running. Here is my new plan post injury (hey at least if I write it down I’m more likely to do it)
– pool running 1hr minimum 1x/wk
– additional weight training exercises on top of my core exercises
– yoga 1-2x/wk
– foam roll every night (instead of netflix)
– pay attention to aches and pains

It’s easy to get busy and say I can’t but saying “oh I could have been better but I’ll never know….” that’s not an option.  If I want to be the best I can be I need to look after myself and push my limits in more ways than just mileage.

Hopefully this helps you think twice about your routines so you can stay out of forced recovery.

Run on!

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Strength Training for Runners – HoneyMaxx Article

Strength Training for Runners 

How to Run a New Personal Best and Stay Injury Free (…without simply running more)

 by Tanis Smith, Road-racer, B.H.K., B.Ed., CanFit Pro PTS

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We’ve all heard it before, “you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” yet somehow the message gets lost in translation. We become obsessed with running mileage and forget about doing the little things your running coach told you about all those years ago. Now, I’m not saying I haven’t fallen into this trap myself trying to fit in 120km weeks into a busy schedule, everyone has, but, what if running faster and staying injury free is as simple as doing a few simple exercises? Why overlook it? As it turns out, those “little things” are really BIG when it comes to the big picture in terms of long term progression and since every runner cringes at the thought of being injured, what can 30 minutes a few times a week hurt?

 One of the easiest times to focus on weaker areas and building strength is during these cold winter months, when you really don’t want to go outside anyways. The next step is to determine what areas to focus on. On average, most runners have one main issue: core weakness. For our purposes, core refers to all of the muscles of the lower trunk and pelvis: abs, back, hip flexors, glutes, abductors, and adductors. Many running injuries can stem from weakness in any of these areas including IT band pain, patella tendonitis (runner’s knee), piriformis issues, and sciatica.

Below are some of my favourite exercises to strengthen the entire core that I use as part of my own running routine and for my own personal training clients. Ideally, perform these exercises 2-3 times per week post-workouts in order to achieve maximum muscle recovery. Do each exercise 12-15 repetitions, 3 sets with progressing each week to make them harder (add more reps or sets). I personally enjoy doing timed sets e.g. each exercise 30 seconds to start then adding 15 seconds each time after that, still 2-3 sets; this is always an option as well. They can be performed on recovery days as well but, it is important to remember that a recovery day is designed to allow your muscles to recover from the intensity of workout and long run days; which is why it is ideal to perform resistance training on your effort days.

 The “glutes” (gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius) are one of the most important components to focus on. The gluteus medius is the main hip abductor and external rotator, and is implicated in hip abduction weakness. This will be our main focus to strengthen.

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Talk at Running Room & Reflections

This week I did a talk to a group of runners who are a part of Josie Wadja‘s Running Room running clinic. The program is for novice runners who are looking to gain knowledge about running and racing, or for those looking for a training group. You can check out Running Room’s programs here.

Running Room is great for bringing running to the masses and helping people who have maybe never put on a pair of running shoes in their life. Fun fact: Running Room is a family run business started by John Stanton in 1984 because he wanted to purchase quality running shoes from someone knowledgeable about the sport.

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A small group gutted out the -30 degree weather to come out to the talk. The group normally runs afterwards but not Thursday night with that windchill, which brought the typical numbers down.

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HoneyMaxx Partnership

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I am very excited to be joining Team HoneyMaxx for 2015 as an Elite Athlete/Brand Ambassador! I went into this new season knowing that one of my main areas of focus is going to be my nutrition. As my mileage increases, it has never been more important to have proper fuel pre, during, and post workouts and runs. HoneyMaxx will be a great addition to my current routine helping me stay properly hydrated as well as replacing essential electrolytes including, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium. For anyone looking to up their game for this year by making sure to look after the “little things” I would highly recommend trying this product.

For those of you who have never tried HoneyMaxx, it is much different than other sports drinks eg. gaterade. Unlike others, HoneyMaxx is made with all natural ingredients not artificial sweeteners and flavours. Honeymaxx’s base ingredient is honey (hence the name!) which doesn’t spike blood glucose and insulin levels and has other benefits since it is loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients. In english, its not super sticky, it’s easy on your digestive system and great for boosting recovery & hydration.

And for those of you running road races, I find HoneyMaxx much nicer to grab from the water stations than other drinks. Especially since you end up spilling them all over yourself, and I have to say, HoneyMaxx is much nicer to spill on you than others! Way less sticky! See if HoneyMaxx is at your next race by clicking here.

You can purchase it by ordering it online here, or in person at any of the retailers who carry it which you can find here.

Click on the photo above to go directly to HoneyMaxx’s website or visit http://www.honeymaxx.com/ to find out more!

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Skechers Performance Division Partnership

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I am very excited to join the Skechers Performance Division elite athlete team for 2015. After 7 years of hardwork in running, I know that I have found my calling. There were many years where I struggled through countless injuries and inadequate training plans. Now, fitter than ever both mentally and physically, I’m ready to continue with breakthrough performances and build towards a 2016/2017 marathon debut (depending on this year). Joining Skechers gives me an extraordinary opportunity to help build this great brand to a household name in the running community.

Skechers is becoming a big player in the footwear industry especially amongst runners over the last few years. Skechers excels in providing a shoe that is high in cushion while remaining super lightweight (only 6 oz!). With elite athletes such as Kara Goucher and Meb Keflezighi representing the brand, Skechers is on the rise and only getting better with athletes of this calibre providing feedback on products. I’m very excited that I have the opportunity to represent such a great brand and am looking forward to trying out each product.

Click on the logo above to learn more about Skechers Performance.

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2014 Season Recap

So what can I say, 2014 was an amazing year.  The 2014 season didn’t start out so hot, let’s just say the polar vortex nearly sucked my running career into oblivion… well that’s a bit dramatic… not actually but juggling teacher’s college, running, finding a job post-grad was all a bit much and my mileage suffered greatly. I fought through and as the temp warmed up so did I. When I settled in after moving back home I was ready to take running to the next level and get back to the grind.

The Races

Around the Bay 30km: My mileage up to this race was lack-luster, I was lucky to hit 50-60km/week. Between teaching 8 hours and planning lessons for 6 hours at night added to the polar vortex weather, I wasn’t very motivated to hammer on. Regardless, as the day got closer my mileage increased and I was ready to at least put in a tempo effort. The day of I didn’t know what I was in for. Before then, I had never run over 21.1km… (as proved by my garmin watch chiming in *New Record! Longest Run Ever*). I felt nervous going to the line. I was in Corral A based on my 2013 half marathon time so at least I didn’t have to worry about fighting the crowds.

The race went off like any other, I got out slightly too fast (like always!) and just tried to grind it out. I was waiting and waiting for the bonk the entire race thinking I ran no mileage I am going to crash hard… but it never came. It could have been from my fueling at 7k and every 3k after that onwards (starting with gels and switching to honeymaxx at the water stations after that as I was getting sick of picking chews out of my teeth). I got to heartbreak hill and felt surprisingly good, legs were heavy but still responding, luckily. It was all a blurr from there, all I remember is seeing the Death guy and him yelling something rude, passing the 2:15 rabbit, and running downhill into the finishing chute. I was pretty excited crossing the finish line in 2:10 especially with my lack of training. From this race I gained a lot of knowledge about myself as a runner. It was this race that taught me that I’m strong and able to grind a lot more now than ever before in the past. I knew after running this 30km that the longer distances are my forte.

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Bread and Honey 15kmNext up was Bread and Honey in early June. Now I finally got back on track with my mileage for about a month and a half before this race. I wanted to run this race more to just get back into racing, I was no where near race shape. It was a great race to get back into things and I had a goal to run 1hour flat and I was close. With a 5th female overall finish, I knew I could turn this season into something. 

Durham Quarter Marathon: Finally back feeling good as this race was late July. I was up to decent mileage building towards 100k. I knew I was about to have a great race, as I was warming up I was extremely nervous, the way I always get when I actually race well. I lined up at the front of the line and kept telling myself “Don’t go out too hard, run your own race!” That would have been soo great if I didn’t look down at my watch and see 3:30s and thought “whooopssieee” … so I backed off my pace and let Loudimilla run her pace. I settled into 3rd female position and found my 3:40-3:45 pace, luckily there was a buddy I knew from my days as a dragon who ran with me for a few km’s. As he slowed I knew I needed to push on. As I got closer to the lake I had one girl come up behind me, who I would later meet Becky. The course gets hard at the 6k to go mark near the lake where there is a decent uphill. My mental broke here and I let the girls get a bit too far ahead of me here and shut down. A few km later I finally woke back up and pushed on starting to pick up the pace for the last 2-3km. I went through the finishing chute thinking “damn I’m 4th, just outta the money” until I hear my name announced as 3rd female finisher. Goes to show you, never take yourself out of the race, you never know what will happen.

I got to meet a fellow Skechers athlete Matt Leduc and competitor Mindy Fleming – great power couple! I always enjoy talking to runners after the race  – best kind of people there are! After some craziness post race I was awarded 3rd female and got my 2nd ever cheque! Confirming that all my hard work is worth it. Did I mention when I did the DQM in 2012 I ran 43:58 vs my 40:56 finish this year?? Big improvements this year….Oh yeah….I wasn’t lying!!

First money of the season!

First money of the season!

After the DQM I took a break from racing to focus on training. I gradually built mileage from my 60km/week start in May a conservative 5km/week increase to my very first 100km week ever the first week of August. From there the miles rolled in, with the help of the GRE crew hitting my longest long runs ever. With the help of great workouts from my GRE crew, I could feel my fitness.

Toronto Longboat Island 10km: The late race start for this race threw Josh and I off. With help from my best support my dad getting us there on time, Josh and I hopped on the first ferry across to the island so we could get warmed up. As we were waiting in line, we could help but notice a famous face blended into the crowd, Lanni Marchant!! We couldn’t believe it, but one look at all of her Asics race gear we knew it was her. We couldn’t believe that amongst all these runners, no one recognized Canada’s Fastest Female Marathoner! Sadly, it shows how little recognition there is for our best athletes in Canada. I don’t know if I felt pumped up by her presence or what, but I was ready to go.

I did my classic warmup routine, left 1hour before with a 20min jog, stretching, flats on, and drills all with my beats pumping. I was super nervous I didn’t know why..the 5k started about 10 mins before the 10km so the gun going off for their race didn’t help the nerves.

Finally, I lined up and there in front of me was Lanni, running in the same race as me I was so excited. I decided to go sports bra for this race since it was a scorcher that day… and I loved when one girl who I raced back in my xc uni years gave me the look like “why are you near the front?”…fuel for the fire…all I thought was, wait ’til I pass you! I got out hard, like always going out too hard, but for some reason I decided not to settle, I embraced my turnover and just went with it. At this point I was running with a small group of guys and I could hear a girl on my shoulder behind me breathing heavy. I knew I needed to break her. So I held my what I thought was wayy too fast of a pace and pushed on. Now I hit the 5km mark and I was where I have never been before for a 10k. I knew I wLongboat 10k 2014 - Pb by 2.5minsas going to do something big, now I was off on my own holding 2nd female position with no one insight (with some help from a guy who gave me great encouragement and paced me on and off for a few km – people are so nice!!).

Now I was feeling the pace but in a whole new way, it wasn’t in a – “i’m in a hell of alotta pain and want to stop” – kind of way but the – “this is awesome I’m doing it, I’m going to pb huge today and I feel like I want to throw up” – kinda pain. The best motivation there was and I just kept repeating in my head “i’m second to Lanni right now, I’m going to get to stand beside her for awards” and I pushed on. Before I knew it I was on the wooden bridge and I knew it wasn’t far now. I got to the pavement and was desperately looking for the finish, I knew I was close but couldn’t remember how far it was. Finally there it was, I put my final kick in and finished 2nd female.

As I glance at the clock i’m thinking I saw 38 minutes and kept saying….more accurately yelling as I do when I get excited…. wow 1 minute pb thats awesome no way! Then it hit me, I just ran 37:17 not 38! and my pb was 39:09 before and it was pretty much a 2 minute pb! MASSSIVEEEE!!  Icing on the cake……as I was enjoying my Honeymaxx and snacks at the finish line, Lanni came up to get some and we had a honest conversation about training and how the race went and she was so down to earth which is amazing to see. Another race, another race cheque, I was pumped – chasing the dream of being the top in Ontario or at least in my races. 

Toronto 10 Miler:  Now training was going well however, just prior to this race I started to have issues with plantar fasciitis. I decided to go into this race just as a tempo and go from there. Now normally during mileage, I love doing out and back loops they are my absolute favourite…. put that into a race… whole different story. The 10miles went basically straight out and straight back after the first few km. It was hell. Now I went out hard and was holding first fem4887182_origale for at least 5km. It was here where one girl came up beside me and I tried and tried to break her but it wasn’t happening, instead she broke me and ran off ahead along with my goal pace (sub 1hour) with her. Now I was running completely on my own and could see the turn around point which was not motivating when it was so far away. Now, this race pain was different than normal… I knew something was off… I kept thinking I must be running so slow because I’m watching my foot… but no, something else…finally it clicked…all week at work training people I had been doing unnecessary squats while spotting people/ doing core drills which added up to legs that felt like ass.. well I did as best I can to hold in there both physically and mentally and finished at 1:02 just outside of my 1 hour goal time. I was happy with another top 3 female finish.

Grind time…time to get ready for my peak race- half marathon.

Hitting 120 km/week was a new accomplishment in this build! I was so excited and felt fitter than ever. With the addition of 2 workouts a week I knew this half was going to be a different story.

Niagara International Half Marathon: Fast forward to the race, the GRE crew went down the day before to attend the expo, pick up race kits, and to flush out the legs. As we pulled up to our hotel, we realized we made a huge error letting our whole season ride on one race – conditions! Regardless of time of year, flat or hilly course there is always one key element to running a fast race – good conditions – and with all of us trying to go for big pb’s we were a bit worried. 

We got lucky on race day in one way, it was much warmer than what it should have been for that time of year. But big problem…the way was a complete point-to-point race with the wind against us the ENTIRE way. I knew I needed to find someone to draft off of or I’d be in for a hell of a race. I was nervous going into this race because I knew where my fitness was – like no where before – I could feel a sub 1:20 in my legs. Team GRE got our warmup in (despite trying to fight for bathrooms and finally finding a bush..like any experienced and annoyed runner). Either way, we made our way to the start, stripping down last minute, gels tucked into my shorts like always (the same gels that I later learned gave me some pretty good scratches…ouch!). 

The gun was up and we’re off. I got off the line, this time more aware of my pace and no this time I did not go out too hard…finally.. I felt the wind and tried to find someone to run with. I bounced back and forth behind different guys to find someone running the right pace 347’s to 350’s. Looked down 350’s bam! perfect I’ll stick with him! I was nice and asked him “hey do you mind if I pace off you?” because there is nothing worse than someone sucking off you for the entire race and stepping on you and hearing them breathe the whole time! He didn’t mind and we decided to work together. I held 345’s for over 10km and felt great. My stride was good, no aches/pains, if anything I remember getting a slight cramp but I got that to go away fast. I held onto my makeshift pacer for 15km and he was awesome giving me encouragement when I slowed and blocking that insane wind for me the entire time without making me take the lead. We passed what we thought was the 2nd place female somewhere in there who went out way too hard which gave me that extra push realizing that I actually felt pretty good. Since me and my pacer were off in no man’s land… people way ahead and people way behind… when I lost him at 15km it was tough.. I just couldn’t hold the pace anymore. I was so sad as soon as I lost him thinking all my hard work is gone as I slowed to 4 min km’s. I toughed it out, now for the first time the whole race fighting the wind on my own.  I was so excited crossing the finish in 1:22:33 3 MINUTES OFF MY PB of 1:25:30 and 3rd overall female. I was directed into the VIP tent where I got my award – biggest prize money to date – $250. 

Family Portrait - Team GRE

Family Portrait – Team GRE

Post race, team GRE partied it up! Big build done, now for some R & R. One highlight – eating at the Keg post race (of course no steak for vegetarian me but it was still great!). After a good night and good laughs, we made our way back home, reflecting on our season. 

I took less than usual to recover only 5 days of no running then I was back to the grind. With the 2015 season just around the corner. GRIND ON!

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