Monday, December 23, 2013

'Tis the Season

First of all, a big congratulations to Mary exciting with baby #2 on the way! As one who has successfully returned to training and racing after childbirth x 3, let me tell you that it is both very rewarding and challenging. The decision itself to postpone a season with the hopes of having a baby is difficult. You want your privacy and don't know if it will even happen, and have onlookers wondering where you've been and what is next. You stay active in the best way you can for 9 months then once giving birth (and I could write an entire post about this!), you have a sweet, little bundle of love who is entirely dependent on you. You shove your much bigger-than-normal breastfeeding boobs into what now looks like a tiny sports bra and dash out the door hoping the EBM (expressed breastmilk) does not get spilled. You are up in the night, barfed and pooped on, and pray against colic. I could go on and on.
There is nothing more motivating and exciting than returning. You find a rhythm with your baby and a healthy balance between experiencing this blessed adventure as an art and a science. I always slept/rested when the baby did, and knew by my body's and baby's signs when it was time to feed. It really is a wonderful thing. You continue to listen to your body, set realistic and timely goals, and make adjustments along the way. One very valuable thing I learned from Jonathan's cousin (who has 5 kids) is to not look at the clock. Don't get caught up on the number of hours you or your baby sleep (or don't sleep). Some of my best races were after sleepless nights (hey, I had a bit of practise on occasion)!  I always followed the E.A.S.Y. pattern. Eat. Activity. Sleep. You.
And I loved it.
I've given many tips to many female athletes over the years - from the recreational runner,  "Oh dear I'm pregnant and am to run a marathon next month...please keep it confidential and what should I do?" to the elite runner, "Can I train and race competitively while breastfeeding?" (of course! I ran my 2:32 in Rotterdam, 2 weeks after my 13 month old stopped nursing) and much more in between. Somewhere in my answer it will always include,"Listen to your body".
I think I will be referring people to Mary's post (link above) from now on. She is realistic, honest, wise, and driven, and has really captured it ever so well. She is a great friend whom I highly respect and so wish was closer. Like Lanni and I after worlds, she will be looking for redemption after her similar not-so-great experience. Her PB is also 2:28 and there's no doubt in my mind that she will turn some heads in her return.  Having a baby and returning to an elite level of competition, including hopes to qualify for the Olympic Games, is no easy task or guarantee but there's a hunger like no other. I guess I should know (;

December has been a great month. I'm nearly back to my weekly physio and massage routine, and have continued to increase my running intensity and mileage with cross training, weight training, core, and stretching. I've had some tough treadmill speed workouts in prep for a speedy spring. The Commonwealth Games standards for the 10,000 m  were recently released - A 31:45, B 32:05. Not sure I will be able to crack it and won't risk injury in the attempt to do so but will benefit from the effort.We may adjust our plan, depending on the details of the standards for the 2016 Olympic Games.
I've continued to enjoy a balanced diet with a few more sweet treats here n' there. There a a few items I will eat once a year in my off-season e.g. cinnabon, burger n' fries, peanut buster parfait. I enjoy the moment and it seems to only be necessary until the next off-season. At this time of year, there isn't anything better than getting in a great workout followed by a turkey dinner, shortbread cookie or butter tart (my Aunt makes the BEST butter tarts that I look forward to savoring every Boxing Day).
Thank you for your continued love, prayers, and support. 2012 was a great year, 2013 was even better, and 2014 will be so much more!
Enjoy this CHRISTmas and remember - Jesus is the Reason for the Season!
I'll leave you with some more pictures and a great quote, recently written by Ryan Hall.

“I don’t run for a paycheck, for fame, or to meet others’ expectations. I run to test the limits of my God-given ability and go after the dreams He has put in my heart- big dreams.” ~ Ryan Hall

I've been so blessed to have access to free, toddler skates at the nearby Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre twice per week. The timing is perfect to go right before getting the boys from school, across the street.

Love. If only there was a dark chocolate, peanut butter combination chocolate bar. Lanni, you must know!

 Saucony "Find Your Strong"? She's right here, finishing her last (8th) round of chemo - a great Christmas gift don't you think? Britanie and I have drawn strength from each other in our journeys this year. As they were trying to get her uncooperative port to work that morning I supported her by saying, "The last mile is never easy. And often very ugly!".     


Lanni and I look forward to another healthy rivalry in 2014. Thank you, Canada Running Series.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

From burpees and pushups to banquets and skating

November was a great month of resting and relaxing while slowly building some mileage and a tiny bit of intensity with the usual cross-training, core, strength work, and stretching. I've enjoyed the change-up in routine with things like burpees, pushups, planks, heavier weights, and circuit work. Takes me back to my hockey days at the University of Guelph. After a 2 hr practice on the ice we would often head over to the athletic centre to do weights and circuit work. I was about 15+ lbs heavier and could bench press my weight (135 lb). What a difference in body types between sports.
December and January will see a gradual build as I prepare to compete in my first race, sometime February. Coach Rick is finalizing the plan with the focus of 10k/10,000 m and half marathons in the spring and summer.
Again, the pictures tell the rest of what I've been up to. Forgive me for the hashtags. It's just too easy.

Coach Rick and I did a presentation to some phys. ed. students at North Park Highschool in Brantford. It was a great way to say thanks for letting me use their track. Didn't get a picture of us but captured this great shot of Brantford's, Kevin Sullivan. If it was his 5th gold medal at OFSAA x country, I remember watching him win that day, after competing myself.

After dropping off the boys and getting in a Chariot stroller run, we rushed downstairs so I could ride the bike and do some other exercises while watching my 100 Huntley St. recording. Leah thought it was pretty neat to see her mommy on the screen!

5 main factors that make a great marathon: weather, training (volume & intensity while free of injury/illness), competition, pacer, and passion. Yep, that's what Lanni and I had, Oct 20, 2013!

She is just loving am I! It's a lot of work to get them bundled up and into the van. It starts with just a few minutes but quickly grows to a great amount of confidence and independence. We've only been out three times and she's already without the pusher.
Chocolate chip, whole wheat, pumpkin and banana muffins. Great for kids' lunches and adults' coffee breaks.

Must set the bar high. I was recently asked how I went from 3:28 to 2:28. My reply was "1 hr faster after: 11 years, 10 marathons and 3 kids #dreambig". Write down your biggest goal and when you want to achieve it, then work backwards. A few years ago, I set a goal of running fast enough to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games by doing some math, which included baby breaks and faster times in shorter distances. Almost there!

Getting out the door can be difficult with kids. I must say I am thrilled with our new system, which teaches our kids responsibility, respect, and independence. I'm no artist but I think you can figure it out!

Had a great time at the Grand Opening for the new Black Toe Running store with Olympians Eric Gillis, Sarah Wells, Matt Hughes, and Damian Warner.

Rejean (pacer at STWM 2012, 2013) is working at the Black Toe Running store. Great name, don't you think!
Soon enough it will be Leah's turn for swimming lessons and hockey.

Like many parents, after a while we give our smart phones to the kids at the arena when they get bored. They can keep themselves entertained with a lot of movie-filming and picture-taking.

Had a great day with Brittanie as she flew through chemo #6/8. That pneumonia only cost her a week so she should still be done before Christmas!!!

On the GoTrain for another Toronto event. Half hour drive to the train and 1 hr to Union. Napping, reading, emailing, coffee-drinking, and relaxing beats driving through Toronto any day!

No afternoon nap for this 2.5 yr old that day. I guess the winter air in the cozy Chariot running stroller  for 1.5 hr will do that to you.

Thank YOU, Alan Brooks, for everything you've done for runners and the GTA community. Outstanding.

So glad I could share a few words before helping with the awards at the Canada Running Series STWM Charity Awards night.

Lanni just returned from another Chiba Ekiden relay in Japan with Team Canada. She officially started her well-deserved break with some turkey while celebrating American Thanksgiving.

Just saw this the other day. Love the spirit! Thanks for sharing, Alyssa. Great support from the Canada Running Series. #CDNmarathoningparents
Great way to end the weekend with a family skate at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, our second home. #nobrokenribsthisseason

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Smelling the Roses

I think this is the first scheduled time off where I haven't been pregnant or injured. And I am quite enjoying it. With my next marathon goal of making the standard for the 2016 Olympic Games, I must completely recover, relax, and rest from 2013 while slowly preparing for a busy 2014. What Lanni and I accomplished, Oct 20, 2013 was huge and I never want to look back with regret that I did not take the time to enjoy such an amazing accomplishment.
Since my 2:28:32 at the STWM I've been enjoying a variety of physical activities: walking, swimming, pool running, various cardio-type machines, biking, weights, core, stretching and some running. I've been doing anywhere from 30 to 90 or so minutes per day with no set routine or schedule. I want to enjoy the activity, listen to my body, and maintain some fitness but stay away from the numbers and intensity. Additionally, I've been much more easy-going about various other things that are more controlled when training and racing: diet, bedtime, daily routine, etc. Everyone is different with their recovery. Some athletes jump back into training and racing after a short break but I'm the type that likes to set the reset button. My season ends. I start over. So, November will continue to be easy, December will include a few workouts, and January will include my first race. Taking "off" the months of November and December will also allow me to get a few things crossed off my to-do list. Enjoy the pictures and captions, which tell the rest.

Big decisions! Glad to pass along the baby clothes and aim for Rio 2016 but also a bit emotional that this chapter has ended ):

Enjoying more and more, the precious moments with our kids...who are growing so quickly!

Great friendships. Way to go with the new half marathon PB, Frank! Glad I could be there to cheer for you at the Road2Hope!

I'm enjoying a few more treats in my diet but had to draw the line when I saw this (at Staples of all places?). I love hockey and peanut butter with chocolate but this puck was over the top at 1,000+ calories!

More to say about these two later but they are on to something good. It's been great to be at the gym, seeing friends and enjoying other fitness activities at an easier pace. These two taught me how to row....much more practise needed on my part! And Leah has loved being back with Maureen and Jeanetta again (she pretty much asked daily to go since the day after my marathon)!

We've been doing more in the kitchen with my "free time". Aunt Joyce's granola is so gooood! We've also enjoyed trips to the library, lego-ship building, leaf raking, sorting and organizing jobs, and the usual hockey and swimming routines.

Moses will likely be joining me on a few more easy runs.

Reward to the Brown Dog in Paris for implementing the new system at home. No more reminders to brush teeth, load dishes, pack backpacks, etc. ! Team DuChene wins again! And all it took was a few words and pictures on a paper taped to the door with an end to the reminders from mom and dad.

Saying yes to a few more community events such as the OCAA cross country banquet in Hamilton. The three of us are Petrolia LCCVI grads! I was also asked to say a few words at a very well attended community event in Brantford for the Kiwanis Field, which will include an 8 lane rubberized track. Quite exciting!

Celebrating Jonathan's successful sales year at Vantage Endoscopy, Movember-style. Congratulation for winning a trip to Jamaica! Hey, I'll get some warm weather training in the winter after all!

Poppies to honour those who fought for us, a latte and a brownie. Blessed.

Another to-do item complete: dentist appointments. Micah had no problem getting a dangling tooth pulled as long as he got the same amount of $ from the "tooth ferry".
Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers for Britanie. I was to take her for round 6/8 chemo but she has pneumonia. Update here.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Road2Hope November 3, 2013

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 New International Version (NIV)
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

I've been enjoying my downtime in my hometown of Brantford, since racing the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, 11 days ago.  Brantford is a great place to live for many reasons;  it is close to so many other great SW Ontario cities. You can do a lot in one week without having to travel too far!

This week I was interviewed at Crossroads in Burlington by 100 Huntley Street's, Ron Mainse. I was able to share about life as a marathoner, mom, and believer, "Finishing the Race". You can view it on-line now via my blog or the website, or watch it on the tv show sometime in November (I'll post the date when I know).

Running is waaaay easier than hair and make-up!

In the interview I mention that I will be in Hamilton for the Road2Hope Marathon on Sunday, November 3, 2013. There are a lot of great charity partners at this event and it's great to see Gord & Esther's leadership in helping so many great organizations. I'll have the "Grandma & Gogo" book for sale ($20) to support the Kenyan Kids Foundation. Just ask! I will also be there to support the Ronald McDonald House - Hamilton. Stop by to say hello!

Grandma & Gogo book - $20 written by Tarah Korir to fund the Kenyan Kids Foundation. We'll be cheering for Wesley Korir as he runs the NYC Marathon, also Sunday, November 3. Can't wait to see the Film Transcend
Leah was quite the story-teller at the Start2Finish office, also in the Crossroads building.

Ronald McDonald House Hamilton
RMH is a great support for families with children who are seriously ill and being treated at nearby hospitals.
So glad Britanie was able to come to the recording. Afterward, we did some shopping then headed to her pre-chemo appointment in Hamilton at the Juravinski Hospital.  She'll be tackling round 5/8 tomorrow. While waiting for Britanie, I couldn't help but think of the many hours my parents spent at the Cancer Clinic. Thankfully, research has continued to advance in both diagnosing and treating cancer. Leah was quite the little entertainer again, asking the names of several elderly people in the waiting room, then telling them her name was Mrs. McGillicutty (the nick name she got from Grandpa this summer while we were in Russia/Europe)!

The bald and the beautiful. I am in awe when people post such beautiful, courageous pictures. What does Britanie, aka G.I. Jane, do between chemo treatments? Once she boosted my van. This time she cared for Chloe, her special needs daughter, after surgery. Britanie is grateful for the Ronald McDonald House. When I asked her if I could share this, she replied, "Oh yes for sure! We would be honored! We lived at RMH for 6 months + another 2 months at a different time...great cause and great house!!".

This morning was my first trip back to Brantford's Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre. Two yr old Leah had been asking every day to return since my marathon, because she loves Marueen and Jeanetta, and the routine so much. The rain would make for miserable walking conditions so we went. I dabbled with a bit of swimming, pool running, a new elliptical-type machine, the treadmill, and some weights. Was great to be back with no structure and a leisurely pace. And look what I found on the bulletin board!

Another way I've been supported at the WGSC... this sweat band was given to me by another member for inspiration after a relative of his was in London for the 2012 Olympic Games. I've kept it on my bag since and will continue to do so in my own path to the Olympic Games,  #Rio2016 !

 Have a great marathon in Hamilton and New York City this weekend, friends! I'll be cheering!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Finishing the Race"

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Dreaming ... with the joy in the pursuit.

It has been exactly one week since becoming the 2nd fastest marathoner in Canadian history with my personal best time of 2:28:32 at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. My teammate and healthy rival, Lanni Marchant captured the record just ahead of me, with a speedy 2:28:00. We were both ecstatic. You can watch our race, interviews, and historic finish with Canadian flags and a lot of hugging & smiling at this link, CBC race coverage  0:55:26-1:02:20 and 2:41:30-2:45:20. It is still sinking in. I am grateful and enjoying every minute, feeling so very blessed that my hard work was put to good use on a beautiful day with hundreds of people behind me, cheering and praying for me. From the tears, vomiting, and smelling salts in Moscow to the smiles, celebrations and redemption in Toronto, it has simply been amazing.
I think there has been at least one new interview, article, or picture every day this week, which has allowed me to continue enjoying being second fiddle(:

One thing I can't help but think about this past week is dreaming. I'll keep repeating that I believe God has given me this gift and I think that part of that includes dreaming. Dreaming big. Wikipedia defines dreams as successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. But my dreaming has been more voluntary while awake!
Not every dream works out exactly the way we imagined but God is sovereign and everything works out for a reason, His reason.
Here are some of my dreams that have come true:
Marrying a Christian Athlete.
Having Christian parents again.
Becoming a Registered Dietitian.
Having children.
Running a marathon...getting faster...getting sponsored...getting faster...becoming a professional marathoner.
Running at a major game i.e. World Championships.
Being one of the fastest marathoners in the country.
Sharing my faith and life story e.g. 100 Huntley Street.
Living near family so that our kids, nieces and nephews can grow up together (we live 5 houses down from Jonathan's sister, and spend much of our summer time with my sister at the Christian camp where I grew up).

From disappointment... disbelief.

And from amateur... pro.

When speaking to people about my progression in taking 1 hr off my marathon time in 10 marathons over 12 years, I explain that part of my success has been as a result of writing down my goals. I set the bar high.
So, in continuing to dream, and writing them down, here they are:
Running the standard for and competing in the 10,000 m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. 
Running the standard for and competing in the marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Running my last competitive marathon as the very best of  my life (isn't that how every athlete wants to retire?!).
Serving with the Start2Finish program in Canada.
Serving with the Kenyan Kids Foundation and my family in Africa.
Supporting the Canadian Cancer Society. 
With my husband, raising our children to know, love and serve God.
Running until the day I die, having my mind go before my body (;
And much, much more. 

Enjoy the pictures and links below.  It's been a great week.
What a great start to Saturday! Despite the nasty wind and rain, Clayton, James and I enjoyed a run (my first since Sunday's marathon) together followed by coffee afterwards. What a treat! These two guys are wonderful and I cherish our friendship. James (right) has a sister (Jen) who, as a marathoner and mom of 3, inspired me, and James suggested some time ago that I make running my profession. And Clayton (left), a father of 3,  has been my running buddy for 10+ years. Spending hours between a surgeon and engineer makes for very interesting runs; from details of hip replacements to mechanical designs, and a lot of joking and laughing together, there is never a dull moment.

As promised, we finally made a trip to Menchies for some sweet sundaes after purchasing the items for the Operation Christmas Child boxes. It made for a fun family evening, which I see being a yearly tradition.

After my run and coffee, I got back in my pyjamas and enjoyed Jonathan's weekend waffles with the family. Oooooh, the delicious, real maple syrup made by Uncle Roy and Aunt Marilyn, that had been hidden since was so good!
For anyone who with kids, I'm sure you can tell what this picture means. Another baby or an attempt at qualifying for the Olympics makes for a tough decision for any athletic mom! Glad the money made in selling our baby stuff at the church yard sale will go to the Yugo missions trip.

My 5 year old, Seth, joined me at the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association cross country banquet where I was guest speaker. I was honoured by the line of people wanting a picture with me. And Seth was delighted to take over 200 (!!!) pictures with my phone. Even the athletes got him to take pictures with their phones! He has since decided that instead of a police officer, he now wants to be a photographer.

Petrolia LCCVI grads at the OCAA banquet!
When I asked Seth what he enjoyed about the evening, he said: 1) the hot chocolate on the way home, 2) the garlic bread at dinner and 3) taking the pictures. I asked him what he thought of my talk and he said, "Well, it was boring because I had to just sit there."!

Coach Rick Mannen and I will be doing some talks in the community, including one for a North Park Highschool Phys. Ed. class. Both Kevin Sullivan and Ben Sayles are North Park grads. Our talk is one way we can say thank you for letting us use their track during their class! Rick has been and will continue to be an amazing coach/manager in my running career. Thank you, Rick (and Josie). We met Friday to discuss 2014 and are quite excited about it. The plan is to take it easy for the rest of 2013 then start training and racing 5 and 10 k's in early-mid 2014. Ideally I'd make the 10, 000 m (track!) standard to race at the Commonwealth Games (July), and go for the Olympic Games standard in the fall (October) IF the qualifying period is open like it was for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Tune in to see me on 100 Huntley St. in November. I'll be doing a pre-recording this week, instead of live, Oct 30.
Looking forward to getting involved with Start2Finish in the future. Silvia Reugger established this organization, using her running career as a platform.

Exciting things are happening with the Kenyan Kids Foundation - Canada, including planning for the new, "Harvest Half" Sept 12-13, 2014. More details to come!

Canadian Cancer Society. Glad I can continue to promote health and wellness in support of #fightcancer!

I'll be at the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon, November 3. See you there?!

At some point while at the Road2Hope race, I'll be near the Ronald McDonald House (RMH), which provides a "home away from home" for families of children who are seriously ill and being treated at nearby hospitals...
...My dear friend, Britanie who is now over half-way in her chemo treatment, has spent many nights at the RMH. Her special needs daughter, Chloe, who just turned 6 last week, has had many surgeries and serious illnesses since birth. The Summerhays family is grateful for the support received from the RMH.

 I am in absolute awe of people like Britanie who take these gorgeous, courageous pictures while going through chemo. I can't wait to wear matching hats with her in the upcoming cooler weather. Thank you, Saucony!
Leah was thrilled to get a new pair of pink AND purple Saucony running shoes when I returned home.
Jordan from the Waterloo Running Series, Blair McKay from the Kenyan Kids Foundation (KKF), Micah and  with the "Grandma and Gogo" book. We are excited to announce our new, "Harvest Half"race, which will be Sept 12-13, 2014 to raise money for KKF - Canada. I will speak at the pasta dinner, Fri. Sept 12 and we will have a 21.1 and 10.5 km race on Sat., Sept 13. The course will be the same route that Wesley Korir (KKF co-founder and Boston Marathon 2012 Champion) runs when training in Ontario while visiting the McKay family.

The book, written by Wesley's wife and fellow KKF cofounder Tarah Korir, sells for $20 as it is currently a major source of revenue for the foundation. KKF - Canada is currently in the process of acquiring charitable status.

It's a great book for children, and a great gift for family and friends. I'll have some copies on me at the Road2Hope Marathon. Just ask!

Leah and I enjoyed a different routine this week. We went on several fall walks, enjoyed picking up a bit of lunch while out, and  even did some shopping.  I just love this time of year with the crisp air, sunny skies and colourful leaves. I've especially loved it when my kids stick their hands out of the Chariot, creating wings!
Get your Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes!