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the journey to 10k... again.

Last year I ran the Ottawa Race Weekend 10k. It was my first time attempting that distance. I did train for it, and by training I mean I jogged around the neighbourhood a few times a week. When I felt like it. When it wasn't too hot, too cold, or too rainy. And when I didn't have better offers, like beer or pizza with friends (both noble pursuits).

My struggle as a runner has always been consistency, and for years (like 8) I never got over the 5k hump: I'd start too quickly, run out of steam, and my legs (and lungs) refused to take me any farther. And frankly, part of me thought I couldn't do more than that. So when I started my DIY training for last year's 10k, I slowed everything down. I was not going to walk any portion of this 10k, even if it meant going slowly. Race day came, the weather was perfect, and I DID IT. I was so dang proud of myself for finishing that 10k because it was something I didn't think I could do even a few months before.

For someone who grew up as a chubby kid who hated gym class, stayed away from sports, and struggled with eating and exercise her whole life, I felt incredible after that race. I put one foot in front of the other and didn't walk a single step. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. That said, I sure wasn't quick. Don't get me wrong, I was very excited that I finished, but I was also disappointed I wasn't faster. Maybe it's silly but I didn't feel proud of my time.

When I'd been winging my way through my DIY training I felt like I could never speed up, like there was no more gas in the tank. I had kinda thought that after running for a while my body would figure it out and I'd naturally get quicker, but that didn't happen.

After I joined Iron North last fall,l I learned that to be fast you have to be strong, and you also have to keep surprising your body. So I tackled a bunch of other things I'd never done before like spinning classes, high-intensity interval training, strength training (box jumps, EW!), and balanced it with oodles of yoga with my favourite teachers. I've spent many hours at this awesome little gym, fogging up the windows with my fellow gym-goers.

Ads for this year's Ottawa Race Weekend 10k race popped up in January, around the same time that Iron North announced a spring running series. The point of the series was to help train for race weekend goals, or to simply help us become better runners. I flip-flopped for a week or three as the run club filled up because #procrastination. But when Iron North co-owner Jenna tagged me on Facebook saying there was only one spot left, I knew I had to grab it. So I did.

This was a chance to train with two amazing women who could help me smash some goals. For example: Jenna (below right) will never tell you this, but in 2010 she was the youngest Canadian to compete in the Boston Marathon (Google it, you'll find her). And Sam (below left) is a frigging speed demon who went from being a self-described 'meh' runner to slaying the New York Marathon despite her busy schedule with three young kids. These women are something else. I fangirl over the fact I get to train with them.

If you live in or pass through Hintonburg, every Wednesday night you probably see a bunch of us nutters out running around in sun, snow, sleet, rain, or bitter cold -- we've had it all. Some weeks we run up and down Scott Street, other times you'll find us at the Lemieux Island water treatment plant, or you may even spot us doing hill drills up and down the loading ramps at City Centre. Some folks are training for full marathons, some for their first 5k, and there's everything in between. It's a great bunch of people we all support each other, check in with each other, and keep each other honest. I love it.

Jenna and Sam created personalized Google Docs for each of us with tailored programs for our goal distances and times, and also factoring in our fitness levels. I set a goal of taking 6+ minutes off last year's 10k race time and got down to business. Our little club runs five times a week: twice as a group and the other three on our own with specific targets from Sam and Jenna. We started on March 9th so we're coming up on the half-way point, and it feels like we're getting there.

I can now proudly say I've run in all kinds of weather I would NEVER have bothered with before (see below), and I've already shaved 3:00 minutes off last year's race time. Holy frig you guys, I can do this. I'll check in with you again at the beginning of May and after the race so you can find out if I pulled it off.

Any of you running in race weekend? Or working towards something totally different you didn't think you could do? I'd love to hear your stories so please share in the comments. <3

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