Gearing up for a new STRAVA challenge – the Dipsea Climbing Challenge


Run up 6,600 feet in three weeks! is the site that I use to upload my runs off my Garmin. I love analyzing my runs, seeing my pace and elevation and giving “kudos” to my fellow Strava runners. I find it really keeps me on track with my training.

I also find Strava’s monthly challenges very motivating, and this month is no exception. The Dipsea challenge for runners, that started this past Saturday, is named in honor of one of the oldest and wildest races in the US, the Dipsea. The challenge is to run up 6,000 feet of elevation during your runs over a three week period.

I figure I’ll be lucky to run half that, but the calf muscles I get attempting this challenge will be well worth the effort. The Dipsea sounded interesting, so I decided to do a little research. It is the oldest cross country trail running even and one of the oldest foot races of any kind in the US. Located in Marin County, California, it is 7.5 miles (12k) long and has about 2200 feet of elevation gain. It has been held almost every year since 1905, and June 14th will mark the 105th edition of the race.


The unique handicap system allows the oldest and the youngest racers to get up to a 25 minute advantage over the fastest competitors. That couples with the permissible secret shortcuts, make it possible for the winner to come from any age group. Previous winners include children as young as 8 and women as old as 72.


The first of several sets of stairs.

The first of several sets of stairs.

As of this morning, I have 642 of the 6600ft covered and 20 days left… We’ll see how close I get to the goal, but already I’ve been seeking out the hills in my neighborhood that I usually avoid. Win/win.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

What challenges are you doing? Would you ever consider a race like the Dipsea?




Mid-Month Plank Update: Ouch it hurts

It’s day 15 of our 30 day Plank Challenge. So far I’m not dreading my daily plank, however, we are only at 90 seconds and tomorrow it jumps to 120 seconds. The increases start getting a lot bigger as the month goes on and I’m still wondering how I could possibly get up 300 seconds (a five minute plank, really?).

30 Day Plank Challenge Fitness Workout Chart

Are you doing a challenge this month? How is your challenge going, and what is your favorite 30 day challenge?


Days 2 to 8: 31 Day Challenge Racap

Mandy:   My running streak is on Day 8, already the longest I’ve ever run without taking a day off.  This week has been a challenge, but I’m definitely enjoying it so far.  It’s been a busy week, so I’ve had to fit in my “mini runs” where I can.  These mostly have consisted of my husband walking our Saint Bernard late at night, while I run up and down the street around them.


Day 2 – 6.5km – This was a fun run in the afternoon.  I didn’t have a set distance in mind.  I just ran until I ended up back at home.  I wanted to take it easy, because I felt tired and sore right from the beginning.  My neighborhood is pretty flat, so you really have to seek out hills.  I recently discovered a crescent nearby that has a good hill so I ran up that twice.

Day 3 – 2km – I wasn’t home until really late on Tuesday, so my husband and doggie came with me to keep me safe.  My dog isn’t a runner, so they walked and I ran circles around them.


Greta watching me run.

Day 4 – 2km – After work, I had a manicure booked with my sister-in-law, Steph.  She knew that I had to go for a run, so she asked if we could go together before our appointment.  What’s better than a manicure and a run with your sister?  I had to borrow a pair of her shoes and jogging pants, but it was a lot of fun.  Steph hasn’t run in years, and she did great!  Maybe this will have to become a weekly tradition.

Day 5 – 2.6km – This was the toughest day for me.  31 days seemed like a reeeeaaallly long time.  We had some yard work to do, so again, it was late before I could get out for my run.  I got myself all dressed, and stood with my head against the front door before I could convince myself to get outside.  Of course, I was happy once I got out.

Day 6 – 2.1km – Once again, another busy day, late night, short run.

Day 7 – 5.2km – On Saturday afternoon, I finally got out while it was still light out.  My goal for the day was to not look at my watch, but to keep a steady pace.  I think I did a pretty good job.  I was able to keep all my splits within 20 seconds of each other.

Day 8 – 1.6km – I had planned on running a 10k in the morning, but honestly, I was lazy and enjoying my bed too much.  So, after going out for dinner with friends, I went for another evening run.  This ended up being one of the weirdest runs I’ve ever been on, but I’ll save the story for another time!

Weekly total: 22km

Total for the month: 8 days / 26.9km

My goals for next week are to get out earlier in the day, to run a bit longer each day, and to fit in a 10k at some point.

-Mandy- DSC_0815_3 2

Jackie:   This is officially my longest running streak ever at 9 days (because I ran on November 30th). I finished this first week with a short run in Vermont. We drove 8 hours through the night and arrived in Vermont at 7am.  (It just works best when you have 3 boys to drive when they’re sleeping) After having some breakfast we decided to drive around Burlington. We stopped by a park for a little walk and a running group went by. Well, long story short, I ended up digging my running clothes out of the back of the truck, changing in the front seat (brrrr) and going for a 1 mile run through the park. I wanted to go farther but I had forgotten to charge my Garmin and I didn’t want it to die on me. So I’m glad I started this challenge because that’s an experience I wouldn’t have had – and there’s nothing like a brisk morning run to wake you up after 8 hours of driving!



Day 2 – 5.5k – focused on elevation – 104 meters

Day 3 – 5.5k

Day 4 – 3k

Day 5 – 6.5k

Day 6 – 3k – quick run in the dark, couldn’t see watch

Day 7 – 1 mile

Day 8 – 1 mile after arriving in Vermont

Total for this month: 8 days – 30.3k

So the first week went well. I’m feeling good about running every day and I’m hoping in the coming week to have some longer runs – and to conquer some hills in Vermont. Hopefully, I’ll have some pictures to share.

– Jackie – Jackie

How is your running in December going?


I have to admit that I tend to hibernate through November and December. I always have good intentions of keeping up my training and maintaining the fitness level that I have achieved over the summer, but it never fails that November and December are a complete failure for me running-wise.

Every spring I plan a large run, this year I have a 30k (Around the Bay 30k in March) and a half marathon (Mississauga Marathon in May), that makes me start running in January to get ready. Then I have 10ks throughout the summer which keeps me motivated through the hot weather. In the fall I plan another long race like the Toronto Marathon or the Springbank Park Half Marathon – that, along with a few fall 10ks where after all that marathon training I’m gunning for a PB, keeps me going until the end of October.

The problem occurs in November when I don’t have any local runs to plan for and when the weather gets cold, I just can’t force myself out the door. Then December gets colder and I really, really don’t want to get out. I always do the Resolution Run on January 1st, which is a lot of fun by the way – and you get a great jacket, however, since it is a fun run and there is no official time recorded, I don’t feel overly motivated to keep training. So, when January begins and I have to get my butt out the door to start my 30k training, I feel like I am starting from square one.

Well, this year I want it to be different. After reading my fellow Outrunning blogger Mandy’s “Hindering Hibernation” post I decided what to do. Mandy had some great suggestions:
1. Join a social running site such as (I am on Strava and love it)
2. Sign up for an online running challenge. (I do that, but this helped my form my plan)
3. Get some new gear. (yep, got that covered – perhaps a little too well :o)
4. Plan out each week. (Okay, I don’t do this at all unless I am training for a big run)
5. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished during the last few months, and think about what races you want to do in the spring. (I want to maintain the level of fitness I’ve attained)

Mandy’s suggestions, coupled with a recent article I read in the December issue of Runner’s World magazine (A Season to Streak) helped me form a plan. I’ve decided to do a 31 day run through December challenge. I want most of my runs to be 5k, 8k and 10k, but on days when things are less than ideal, like perhaps a snow storm or feeling a bit under the weather, I’ll do at least a mile (1.6k). On days when I’m tired I’ll do the walk/run method (run 10 minutes then walk 1 minute) to help avoid injury. I’m going to take Mandy’s number 4 suggestion and work on a schedule over the next couple of weeks. It should be interesting when I’m away on holiday for a week, but I have some ideas on how to make that work too. (How about running up Smuggler’s Notch Road in Stowe Vermont – it’ll be closed for the winter season – I have that planned with my running friend Cathy.)

I’m going to keep track of how it went and write a weekly post of my progress, so check back throughout December. I hope this helps me maintain, or even increase my ability so that I can start my Around the Bay 30k training schedule more prepared than I was last year.

Who’s up for it?



The Rundown Race is a favorite of the Outrunning girls. It is run twice a year in Waterloo, ON. A fun race where the winner is the person who comes closest to their predicted finish time.  Here is a little recap of how the Fall 2013 Rundown went.
Jackie: I signed up for the 10k for this race. It was a brisk and gray day but it didn’t rain as forecast, so it turned out to be a good day for a race. The runners bundled up, wore blankets or stayed warm in the car until their assigned start time. I predicted I would run my 10k in 51:50 so I started at 12:08:10 and I was the third runner to start. Because the runner ahead of me predicted a time a couple minutes slower than mine, I was a little lonely at the start of the race since there was no one in sight, but about a km into my run I met up with my friend Shannon who had taken a wrong turn and was running back towards me – she promptly turned in the right direction and off we ran. (I’ve taken a wrong turn in this race in the past as well.) It cost her some time, but I sure enjoyed having someone to run with. It made for some amusing stories at lunch too. Except for a short blizzard around the 8k mark it was a smooth race – and the gray sky made for some great pictures. I got a time of 50:57 which explained why I felt like I was pushing myself the whole thing. (Oddly enough I find that sometimes I run races faster without my Garmin)
After the race we gathered at the Lancaster Smokehouse for our results, awards and gift table, as well as an awesome meal that Mandy said even running a Marathon wouldn’t justify. I enjoyed my giant bacon cheeseburger – it was worth it. I came home full and tired but happy, with a new pair of running socks from the gift table. (btw the 10k winner came in under 4 seconds from his predicted time – kudos!)

How was your run Mandy?

Mandy: Pretty good, Jackie! 😉 After running a few 10k’s this fall, I felt like trying something different, and ran the 5k race.  Short and sweet.  My predicted time was 26:30, and I was the second last person to head out at 12:33:30.  It’s a weird feeling having everyone start the race before you, almost like you are being left behind.  The volunteers at the start/finish line were very friendly and fun to chat with so the time went by quickly.
When I run, I rely way too heavily on my Garmin watch.  I look at it constantly.  It’s not a good thing.  For this race, watches are not allowed, and I felt like I was missing a limb.  I had no idea how to pace myself or any concept of whether I was running too fast or too slow.  I think this winter I may need to challenge myself to not rely on my watch so much.  Nonetheless, the turnaround point seemed to come quickly, and around then I started to get passed by many of the 10k runners, including Jackie.  It was nice to see them!

I came over my predicted time at 27:35.  At the finish line, we waited around for a few minutes in the cold for some walkers to come in, and then took the traditional group photo.  You know a race is small when you can fit all the runners in one picture!  Despite being small, it’s a great race with a fun group of people!




I really, really like I may even be a little obsessed with it. If you haven’t checked out Strava, please give it a try. It is a great resource for runners and cyclists – it’s a very useful and easy to use tool for breaking down and improving your runs and it keeps you focused and motivated. I encourage all my running friends, from novice to seasoned athletes, to get on this site.

When you upload your run, you see your route mapped out, you get your elevation, pace, calories burned as well as “awards” for any personal bests or course records you may have set. When you analyze your run, you see it broken down into 1km splits and you can see your elevation loss and gain per km as well as your grade adjusted pace. Being able to see your improvement over the short and long terms helps prevent discouragement.

The social aspect of this site is very encouraging too. It’s like Facebook for runners. I have 9 friends plus a few other local runners that I follow. You have the option of keeping any or all of your runs private if you want.  However, I recommend that you have your runs visible to your friends. Followers can give you “kudos” on each run and you have the option of commenting on your run and discussing how it went.

This site also enables me to “virtually” train with a few of my out of town friends. Even though we live an hour away from each other, we’ve managed to train for a half and full marathon together. When I come in from running and post my run, I often find that they were running at the same time as me and we can chat about our run. It’s also encouraging for me when I don’t have the motivation to get myself out the door. I’ll log into my Strava account and find that my friends have been out running and I feel compelled to get my butt out and run.

Strava is compatible with a number of GPS watches and phone programs and has its own program you can download to your smart phone making it available to almost everyone.

There are a number of other features that help you mix it up a bit. You can set “segments” up – I usually set up my hills as segments – and it keeps track of your best times as well as the best times of any other Strava runners that happen to run through your segment. I find it helps me to push that extra bit on hills that I might either normally avoid or take it easy on, to see if I can get that new personal best.

Strava also offers a number of monthly challenges that you can join. There is usually one challenging you to see how many kilometers you can log in one month, and there are usually other challenges like running a 10k, half or full marathon, or seeing how much elevation you can log. You then can see where you rank against runners all over the world.  We just completed a 10 day elevation challenge this past month that I will write about in the near future.

These challenges have helped me to log more distance than I ever thought I could in a month – they also make me go a little nuts sometimes – but that’s another blog…

If you are looking for a free, easy to use, social place to analyze, share and improve your running and cycling activities, definitely check this site out.