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Running in Newfoundland

13 Jul

About a month ago, my husband and I spent a wonderful week in Newfoundland. He had to be there for some business meetings, so we figured we would turn it into a vacation, neither one of us having ever been to Newfoundland before. In fact, it’s the only Canadian province I hadn’t traveled to so was happy to check that last one off my list.

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I flew directly from Vancouver to the complete opposite side of the country and we started our week in Newfoundland on the west coast of the province, spending a few days in Gros Morne National Park – an amazingly beautiful park, that I am glad we took the time to see it.

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We stayed in a small, picturesque village called Rocky Harbour and I got my first run in there. The weather was beautiful and I headed down the main road along the water, past a little harbour.

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I think I got to see the whole village waking up that morning and I loved it. By the time I got to the end of the road, I could see the entire village and mountains of Gros Morne National Park behind me.

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Later that day, we hiked Western Brook Pond and took in some more beautiful views….

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Over the course of the next few days in Newfoundland, we gradually made our way across the province until we reached St. John’s. I had a  few running routes planned for that area and was excited to tackle them. I started right away with a trip to Signal Hill for a hike/run to take in the beauty of the harbour and the ICEBERGS!

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We lucked out with the timing of our trip as it was iceberg season in Newfoundland and apparently a great year for them. The photos do not do these icebergs justice – they were incredible to see!

Starting the trail at Signal Hill involved walking down hundreds of stairs and then trekking across a rocky path. I started out slow walking most of the way, stopping to snap some photos and gradually building up to a slow jog when I wasn’t going down stairs.

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And that gradual jog turned out to be my biggest mistake…because I managed to lose my balance and take quite a tumble onto that rocky surface seen above!

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I ended up with bloody and bruised hands, knees, hips, legs and shoulder. Not my finest moment but I picked myself up and managed to smile for a photo to stave off too much embarrassment! Ouch!

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I limped back to the car (had to climb back up those 100 stairs again!) and cleaned myself up with some water and a dirty golf towel (all I had in the car!) I should learn to travel with a mini first aid kit because I had to clean out the local pharmacy of all their band aids to last me for the rest of our trip.

Needless to say, I wasn’t able to get any more runs in during my trip, but wasn’t totally incapacitated. I was able to get out and enjoy the great city of St. John’s….the sights, the views and even the food!

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I’ll be back, St. John’s, and next time I’ll get in all those runs I had planned!

M.

 

Running in Vancouver

6 Jul

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of traveling out to Vancouver for work for a week. As Vancouver is one of my favorite places to run, I excitedly packed my running gear and planned to get in several runs while out there.

I typically run on my own but a colleague of mine convinced me to let him tag along. I knew I could maintain roughly the same pace so I reluctantly agreed.

As it turns out, I ran stronger running with someone else, had a good chat with a colleague and had someone with me who could take my photo in beautiful, scenic Vancouver! Definitely beats out the million running selfies I have taken myself.

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Work had us staying at the Sutton Place Hotel on Burrard, right downtown. Having been to (and run in) Vancouver before, I lead my colleague on our run. On the first day, I headed down Burrard towards the harbour and ran along the waterfront until we reached Stanley Park and the Seawall.

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We ran along the water (and stop as I posed for the photograph above) and then looped back through the park for our return. Stanley Park is an absolutely beautiful place to run. For anyone traveling to Vancouver, I highly recommend running, walking or biking through the Park. A must see in the city.

On our second run, we took off on Burrard in the opposite direction towards the Burrard Street Bridge. We took the stairs just under the bridge to run along the water towards Stanley Park. I wanted to run by the beaches in the area and happily past English Bay Beach and Sunset Beach. It was a windy day and the entire first half of the run along the water felt like running into a wall. Good thing the view was nice!

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My third run was a solo run. I didn’t have my photographer with me that morning and didn’t want to take any running selfies this time. That day I headed out towards the Burrard Street Bridge again but instead of going towards Stanley Park, I turned the opposite way and ran along the water all the way to Science World.

I passed amazing looking waterfront condos and imagined what it would be like to live there and runs these routes year round! Then I snapped back to reality realizing I could NEVER afford to live there but could happily settle for running these amazing routes every time I visit this great city!

From Vancouver,  I flew directly to Newfoundland and of course managed to sneak a couple runs in there too – stay tuned for that recap!

M.

 

Running in Canada

3 May

Last summer I did a lot of traveling in Canada and took the opportunity to run in as many different Canadian communities as I could. I love running when I travel (hence the origins of this blog), and I hope to keep it up again this summer as I have a few more trips planned.

Last summer I didn’t have a chance to post a blog about every Canadian province and city/town I ran in, so I wanted to include a bit of a wrap up here:

Province: Quebec   –     Community: Sherbrooke

I was in Sherbrooke, Quebec in August 2013 visiting my husband who had been there for 3 weeks for the 2013 Canada Summer Games. I was training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon at the time and had a long run scheduled for when I was in Sherbrooke, so I set out early one morning to tackle the paths in Parc Jacques Cartier.

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It was a beautiful August morning and not really knowing where I was going in Sherbrooke, I thought it was easiest to stick to the Parc and the pathways in it.

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The scenery in the Parc was beautiful. I had to do a couple loops of the paths to get in the mileage but since it was around a gorgeous lake, I did not mind.

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Province: British Columbia      –     Community: Whistler

After my short stay in Sherbrooke, my husband and I headed west to British Columbia. We had never been to Whistler so headed there are a few days and needless to say, loved it.

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There are so many trail in Whistler that there was no shortage of places to run. I headed out on the trails as my husband set out on a mountain bike.

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Before long, I was in the woods and greeted by gorgeous lakes and mountains – certainly not what I am used to see living in Eastern Canada.

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I loved running in Whistler. I was lucky enough to have a perfect day and hope to get back there one day,

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Province: British Columbia       –      Community: Vancouver

From Whistler, we headed to Vancouver for a few more days and I certainly did not want to miss my opportunity to run in that great city. I knew I wanted my first run there to be around Stanley Park and as we were staying right downtown this was not going to be a problem.

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I started near the Olympic Cauldron and headed for the one and only Stanley Park.

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I had been to Stanley Park a few times but never on the run. I would love to live in Vancouver for the simple fact that they can run outside year round without as much hassle as we have in Ottawa.

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The path was as crowded with runners, cyclists, walkers and tourists as you would expect for a mid-August day but that didn’t take away from any of my enjoyment of the run.

I ended my run at English Bay and loved that there was a beach so close to the downtown. IMG_1815

I had a few other runs in Vancouver throughout various parts of the city but didn’t have a camera with me to document it. I think Vancouver and Whistler are certainly a runner or any outdoor enthusiasts’ dream.

Province: Prince Edward Island        –     Community: Lakeside

I also ran in Prince Edward Island this summer and blogged about it here. I’ve mentioned it on the blog before but this is probably one of my favorite places in Canada, Lakeside Beach, a place that I have run since I was a child and somewhere I hope to continue to run (or walk) until I am in my old age…..I never tire of this place….

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So that recaps my cross Canada running adventures last summer. Stay tuned for this summer as I venture both east (to Newfoundland) and west (back to Vancouver).

I think it’s time I make a new running goal. I don’t have a time frame for this but I would like to make it my goal to run in every Canadian province – if I can make that a race in every province, even better. So, if you know of any awesome races in Canadian cities or can share any of your favorite running routes, please let me know so that I can reach this goal!

M.

Running in Milan, Italy

30 Mar

While I was in Italy in September 2013, my business trip continued on from Venice and Trento to Milan for my last stop for two days. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get a run in while I was there so I work up early before my meetings and headed out.

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My hotel was located directly across from the Giardini Pubblici (Public Gardens) and it seems like a prime location to start my run. The silver gates at the entrance guided me into a park that featured gravel covered paths, trees, statues and fountains.

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I wasn’t alone in the park this time of morning. There were a few other runners and walkers around so I didn’t feel as out of place running as I sometimes do when I am in a foreign city.

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It was a beautiful park right in the middle of the city and I managed one loop of it before moving on to exploring other parts of the city on the run.

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I ran through several city streets before I reached my next destination, a larger park called Parco Sempione.

Before reaching the park, I could see Castello di Milano in the distance and knew I was close.

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I entered through the red brick fortress and was pleased to see the soft gravel pathways, the beautiful trees and the park areas ahead of me – looked like a wonderful place to run.

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It was at that moment that my camera died and I could not get any more photos of the lovely run I had through Milan! I ran through the rest of Parco Sempione and through a few other streets of Milan before heading back to my hotel.

I didn’t take my run to any of the other major tourist sites like the Duomo or Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele but did visit them later in the day (unfortunately without a working camera).

After a fantastic year of running in different cities around the world – Paris, Vienna, Prague, Kazan (Russia), Venice, Trento (Italy)  – I can safely say I accomplished one of my 2013 Running Goals – destination runs!

Hope to have many more in the future!

M

 

Running in Trento, Italy

21 Mar

Following my lovely trip to Venice, Italy last September I headed north to Trento, Italy where I spent a few days for work.

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As was the case in Venice, the weather was lovely and I was in the middle of my half-marathon training so heading out for a run was a must. In fact, I was scheduled to run one of the longest runs of my training cycle while I was there so was happy when I had an entire afternoon off from work related meetings and functions.

All dressed up for a work reception!

All dressed up for a work reception!

Trento is located on the Adige River and surrounded by mountains.

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And when I say mountains, just a bit further north were the Dolomites mountains – a spectacular site that I’m glad I had the chance to see. Those were impressive mountains to say the least.

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During my long run on that day, I didn’t get up to the Dolomites but I certainly got to experience some of the beauty that is this region (Trentino) and this city (Trento).

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I ran through the old town Trento for a bit to start my run, but it was much too crowded for any serious running so I headed out to the bike path along the Adige River. It was perfect.

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The only down side was that the portion of the path that I was most comfortable running on (before it turned into a dirt shoulder on the side of the road) was only about 4km in length. That meant I had to do a few out and back loops to get my distance in, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

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I was back to this same region for the month of December for the 2013 World University Winter Games and of course made sure to get another run in.

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My colleagues and I at the Winter University Games Opening Ceremonies

I haven’t been to Italy when the weather has been bad and this past December was no different. It was 10c when I went for this run and I think it was around -30c back home in Ottawa that day in December! I got a little extra enjoyment out of that run because of it!

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Hoping weather like that comes to Ottawa sometime soon – I’m ready for some decent outdoor spring running!

M.

Running in Venice, Italy

16 Mar

A few months back while training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon, I was fortunate enough to take my running to various cities across Canada and around the world while traveling for business and pleasure.

Unfortunately, I was too busy at that time to post about those runs so thought I would take the time to recap some of them now.

One of my favorite runs was in Venice, Italy. I stayed there for a couple days and got two wonderful runs in.

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Before I left Canada, I did my usual pre-trip research on where to run in the city I was headed to, and overwhelmingly I found that people said running in Venice was tough, too tough.

I thought I would challenge that and so I planned my runs with a few things in mind:

1) Get up as early as possible before the crowds start:

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I was in Venice at the end of September; the weather was hot and sunny and the crowds during the day were plentiful. There would have been no way I could have run if I did it after 8am, so I was up early and beat the crowds.

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2) Get to know the general route beforehand:

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I didn’t want to run with a map, nor did I want to completely get lost and waste my entire morning trying to find my way back to my hotel so the day before I walked around the area until I got the lay of the land…the main streets, canals and landmarks.

I didn’t plan my runs in detail so was able to explore as I ran, but still had enough of a good sense of direction to get me back to my hotel in time for breakfast.

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3) Follow other runners:

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I did this during certain parts of both runs and it was great. The runners I followed appeared to know where they were going and the best routes to take.

There was an added challenge in following them – trying not to stay too close that I looked like I was following them, but also trying to keep up with them through the tiny alleys of Venice!

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Even though I beat the crowds, running in Venice was certainly a challenge. The number of stairs I climbed was incredible. I’m not used to running stairs so it was a good workout for me. I made myself use the stairs and not any of the ramps.

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Although I can’t recap the exact route I took because it involved a million small roads and alleyways, I ran by many of the sites of Venice:

The Grand Canal
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Piazza San Marco
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Rialto Bridge
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Running in Venice was a fantastic running experience.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat…but for now I can only reminisce…

M.

Scotiabank Waterfront Half-Marathon Race Recap

18 Nov

On, Sunday, October 20th I ran one of the best road races of my life. I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon, and I crushed my personal best by 8 minutes.

I have never felt so good during a race, and certainly never felt so good during a half-marathon. This was only my 4th half, the most recent being 3 and a half years ago, and I must admit that I loved everything about this race.

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I enjoyed it so much that I think I ran almost the entire race with a smile on my face!

Let ‘s backup a bit and start from the beginning…..the entire week before the race I was doing my best to taper but the pre-race nerves got me early. I worried about the race and tried to maintain my confidence in my training, but the nerves still did manage to creep in.

Friday

By Friday, all my colleagues knew about my upcoming half-marathon and I felt the added stress of having to perform (knowing everyone on Monday would ask how it went!) As this was a “destination race”, my husband and I took Friday afternoon off to give us enough time to drive down to Toronto so that I could get a good night’s sleep Friday night. We stayed with friends and woke up Saturday morning ready for Race Expo Day!

Saturday

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The Expo of any major race is always a highlight for me. I love the atmosphere, the sales and the special events they have throughout the weekend. Sure enough, we managed to spend several hours there, checked out all the booths, did some shopping and heard some great speakers, including some women who’s blogs/twitter I follow (Miranda from Thoughts and Pavement and Christa on Twitter @christadavidson).

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My husband and I decided to spend Saturday night in downtown Toronto so that we’d be close to the start line and wouldn’t have to stress about making it on time or finding parking. We decided to splurge a little and got the race participant rate at the Fairmont Royal York. It was an amazing hotel and I took full advantage of it by spending most of Saturday afternoon lounging in the room.

Race Day – Pre-Race

Race day I woke up nice and early, feeling ready to run but equally as nervous.  I found my way to the start line and my yellow corral for the 1:46- 1:59 folks.

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I was happy to have my husband there for support (and for someone to carry all of my layers before I stripped down to my race attire!)
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As I didn’t want to be stuck in the back of my corral, I decided it was time to join my fellow yellow corral runners and get this thing started. It was chilly at the start line (I was happy to be wearing my newly acquired arm warmers), but once the race got started I realized the conditions were perfect.

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Race

I had determined a strategy for this race, but wasn’t sure where my half marathon fitness level truly was, so I thought I would use my strategy to start and see how things felt.

In my past races this year, I have somehow thrived on negative splits. I have been most successful when I can start moderately (not going out too fast), and then pick up the pace as I go along. My 10km PR in May was done using  this strategy and it was one of the best races I have run, so I decided to test it out again for the half-marathon.

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For at least the first 6kms, I was passed by what felt like everyone running that day. I had to repeatedly remind myself that I wasn’t racing against anyone else out there that day but myself. It was a little defeating, but I knew I had to stick to my plan and not go out too fast the first half of the race.

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There I am in the white cap and all black

I had never raced in Toronto, so I enjoyed starting the race running through several of the downtown city blocks. There were lots of spectators and it was exciting to be a part of such a large event.

I was feeling so good and was so happy to be running that I was grinning without even realizing it.

Once I reached the 8-9km mark, the steady stream of runners passing me had finally leveled off, and I started passing people without even realizing it. As defeating as being passed was early in the race, being able to pass others for the entire second half was probably doubly as motivating!

My plan to start the first few kilometers around a 5:25 pace and then maintain a 5:10 pace until about  the 9km or 10km mark worked out well according to my splits thus far:

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10km Mark

I reached the 10km mark at 52:24 which was roughly what I had thought I could do. I felt fantastic, which I took as a good sign and pushed on with my race plan to pick it up a little each kilometer.

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Somewhere around kilometer 14, I could finally see the 1:50 pace bunny. When I started the race I didn’t want to focus on keeping up with any pace bunnies as my plan was to start slow and pick up the pace as I went. I knew that if I started with the 1:50 pace bunny I might have gone out too fast, and potentially wouldn’t have been able to stick to my plan.

I quickly zipped by the 1:50 pace bunny somewhere between kilometer 14-16 and was still feeling great. I smiled again knowing that a personal best was within my grasp at that point and reaching my goal of a sub-1:50 half marathon was entirely possibly if I could maintain my pace.

The crowds started to get more dense the closer we got to the end of the race, and the cheers certainly helped propel me faster.

When I looked down at my watch at kilometer 19 and saw I was now running at a pace of 4:49, I smiled (again!), happy that I had made it that far with my race plan and knew I could push it with whatever I had left and would be getting a personal best once I made it to that finish line.

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My husband was watching for me a few hundred meters from the finish and managed to snap a photo as I ran by.

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I crossed the line in 1:46:29 and was giddy with excitement. I had crushed my personal best by 8 minutes and had never improved by so much in one race event.

When I calculate my 10km time for the second half of the race (kilometers 10-20), I realized that I had run it in my fourth fastest 10km time ever! 48:39!

I was thrilled!

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Race Reflections

I decided two weeks prior my race that I would try something interesting during the race that several other bloggers had done. I would dedicat small portions of the entire race to important people in my life.

I spent the weekend before the race determining who these special people would be and how I would divide up the kilometers. I wanted to be able to remember who I was going to be thinking about each kilometer so I need to memorize the list.

I didn’t want to spend too much time reflecting on it before race day as I wanted to save any special thoughts for that moment during the race as I may have needed them to get me through tough portions on race day.

In the end, I loved this experience; I have many important friends or family in my life and I had 2 kilometers per person to reflect on why they were each important to me. It kept my mind occupied during most of the 1 hour and 46 minutes and may have been a contributing factor as to why I smiled during the majority of the race.

My list was broken down as follows:

Kilometer 1: No one – I wanted to wait a kilometer until I got into the groove of the race. The first km is usually very hectic and distracting so I didn’t think I would be able to dedicate the brain space to anyone at that point in the race.
Km 2-3: My parents
Km 4-5: My younger brother
Km 6-7: My older brother
Km 8-9: My older sister
Km 10-11: My niece and nephew
Km 12-13: One of my good friends who has becoming a great traveling companion
Km 14-15: A former classmate turned great friend and “neighbor”
Km 16-17: One of my oldest friends from my hometown near Montreal
Km 18-19: A close friend and confidant from Toronto who’s house I stayed at Friday night
Km 20-21: My husband
Km 0.1: Again, no one as it was the final sprint to the finish and I knew I wouldn’t even be able to hear my own thoughts by that point

And there it is, a race that probably was one of the highlights of my year (and not just in terms of running and races, but in life overall). I hope to return to Toronto to race the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon again….or dare I say it, maybe even the Marathon….only time will tell.

M.