Running advice from Krista DuChene and Refridgee-Eighter 8 mile recap

Okay, time for something completely different…I’m done moaning and feeling down in the dumps. If I can’t run right now, I will at least look back on my last race with nostalgia and happiness! It was a pretty terrific day (not only because Canada beat the US in the men’s Olympic gold medal hockey game) but also because…

I got to share the podium with KRISTA DUCHENE!

Krista is an incredible runner and a huge inspiration to me. Not to mention, oh, the SECOND FASTEST CANADIAN FEMALE MARATHONER EVER. She ran the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront marathon in 2:28:32. This girl is FAST. Not to mention, she’s a registered dietician and mom of three and has such a positive outlook on running, racing and life. Faith is the cornerstone of her running and I love that.

A few weeks before the Re-fridgee-eighter 8 mile race, my colleague J.P. mentioned that he had written about Krista a few times before when he worked at the paper in Brantford, where Krista lives. “She’s really, really nice,” he told me. “I could see if she could talk to you about running and Boston if you want.”

If I wanted?!? I jumped at the chance. J.P. gave me her email address and I wrote her an email asking for any advice about running Boston, staying motivated while winter training, and pre-long run nutrition. I wasn’t sure what – if any – kind of response I’d get because, hello, she’s a professional runner. And a mom. Free time to write random strangers back probably isn’t high on her list of priorities.

So I was shocked – and so, so happy – to receive a lengthy, chatty, wonderful email from her a couple days later. Here’s some of the advice she shared:

1) Believe in your “wildest dreams”. They DO come true and I am living my own.
2) You can PR in Boston, regardless of the hills. I did by 9 minutes. I ran 3:00:46. Many said, “Oh, don’t you wish you broke 3 hrs?”. Nope, I knew I would eventually! Love this attitude! I have to keep this in mind when I think about how badly I was hoping to PR at Boston this year.
3) Krista stays motivated in the winter by thinking of how great she’ll feel afterwards with a hot shower, oatmeal and coffee. She also knows that too many variables later on in the day could interfere with her getting the run in, so it’s best to do it first thing.

4) When it comes to pre-long run nutrition, she sticks to what she knows works. As Krista says, “We’ve all had those awkward run-to-the-bush moments with our running buddies!” For her, what works is a plate of 1/2 veg, 1/4 lean protein and 1/4 whole grain at a decent time (5 – 6 p.m.) Race day fuel is a bagel, coffee and e-load. “Try to figure out the problem by writing it down. You may find a pattern,” she says.

5) Krista’s a big fan of cross-training. She runs daily and cross trains either before or after, with three pool sessions a week (laps and pool running) and 5 – 15 minutes of biking the other three days.

Krista was running the Refridgee-Eighter 8 mile race RunWaterloo was putting on Feb. 23, the same race I had signed up for. My friend Emily ended up deciding not to run it, but she and Kelly came as my “cheerleaders”:

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I felt so lucky! They were terrific cheerleaders – they had mapped out the route beforehand and kept popping up at different points on the course (the sign of the truly prepared and committed spectator – thank you!). Having them there definitely gave me an extra pep in my step.

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The race itself was great – most of all it was just really, really FUN. The whole time I kept grinning to myself and thinking, “Yep, this is why I run. This is AWESOME.” (writing this now with the memories of my painful 5km on Friday is making me so sad, but also even more determined to recover and get back out there). Racing is so much fun and I loved chatting with some of the people I was running with.

The race was very well-organized and there were plenty of volunteers out there marshaling the course. I was initially worried because there was an 8km and 8 mile option, and I didn’t know how clearly the 8 mile route would be marked. I’m kind of hopeless at directions and I have somewhat of a history of getting confused/lost during races, but thankfully there were lots of signs and some very friendly volunteers to also point the way…

The weather was definitely a little on the cold side but the 10 a.m. start time was definitely appreciated. Gave the sun a bit more time to come out…

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The day before the race I had flipped around my long run and did 28 km so my legs were definitely feeling it. But racing on not-so-fresh legs is a great training tool. I had also done a killer run up in Collingwood on Thursday, where I basically ran two kilometers straight up a hill/mountain of death and STILL couldn’t see the top! It was actually the 2 km downhill that shot my quads and hamstrings – I think I spent all of Friday either sitting in the car or lying down in bed resting up for the weekend!

I ended up placing 16th overall, 3rd women overall and 1st in females 25-29 with a time of 56:40. Do I need to even mention that Krista smoked me (and everyone else!) 🙂 Her time was 44:57, and that was with a hamstring injury!!

This is probably my favourite photo ever:

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Just me and Krista, talking about runner’s trots. Keepin’ it real.

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Overall I would definitely recommend the Refridgee-Eighter as a fun winter race that breaks up the February blahs. The course is pretty flat with one major hill, the organizers are very helpful and friendly (I had a race question the night before and emailed the race director Jordan Schmidt and he emailed me back right away – very impressed!), and there’s a mini-expo after with running clothes, shoes and equipment on sale. Post-race fuel included the usual standards of grapes, bananas and bagels – and hot dogs if you’re so inclined, although to me personally the thought of scarfing a hot dog after running 8 miles makes me want to hurl.

Best part hands down was getting to meet Krista after her inspiring email. She somehow managed to be even nicer and friendlier in person and I’m really excited to keep following her career.

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