Running Info

Monday on the Run: @AliciaRunsFast

Disclaimer: WordPress is being silly and on my laptops the photos come up right side up but on my phone it comes up as sideways! I’m sorry for the inconvenience!

This week’s Monday on the Run is going to be a little different. Since I took most of the week off to recovery from Mississauga Half Marathon, I have a little guest post for you instead!


For a while now, I’ve been following Alicia’s journey as she trained for her first marathon. And by follow, I literally mean follow. After my half marathon, the first thing I did when I got my butt to the couch was go on Sportstats and look up Alicia to see how she was doing at BMO! If you don’t know Alicia, she goes by @aliciarunsfast on Instagram and is honestly the sweetest woman  you will ever meet. I’m seriously. I fell in love with her Instagram over the months as she was one of the most positive and supportive IG-ers I’ve had the pleasure to follow. She’s seriously taken the role of my Vancouver BFF! However, just because she’s such a sweetie, doesn’t mean she won’t tell you like it is. She won’t lie and say she her 22 miles were easy peasy. She’ll tell you that it was tough because it was. Nothing irks me more than someone who will only tell you the positives and hide how much work that was really put into their training run.

monday on the run: alicia

So why am I tell you all of this other than you should totally follow her on Instagram? Well, because I enjoyed Alicia’s journey to her marathon so much, I wanted her to share it on my blog. She is honestly on my top 10 inspiring gals and I really hope you guys find inspiration in her like I do.

My love of running really started in high school. I had joined my track and field team and found it was something I immediately enjoyed. After I decided I wanted to be a bit more serious about running, I joined the University of Toronto Track and Field Club which gave my training more structure and intensity. I was also very lucky to develop close friendships with people on the team. However, I don’t think I had the discipline and maturity to really focus on running. So I probably could have been a much stronger runner than I was if I had actually done all the runs I was supposed to every week. But I did truly love it!

Soon, I moved out to British Columbia to go to the University of British Columbia (UBC) and I was running very casually. I was focused on my studies and the social part of being at university. I originally was interested in art history but decided to switch my major to Kinesiology. UBC Kinesiology has a program where they teach you everything you need to know to basically be a student trainer with a sports team at the school. You were then partnered with a varsity team and your job was to be an athletic trainer focusing on injuries and injury prevention while working with a physiotherapist and sports doctor.

monday on the run: alicia
I was partnered with the women’s basketball team and worked with them for two years. It was the best 2 years of my degree! Hands down! But it was the equivalent of working a full time job while being in school full time so it was a lot of work.

Shortly after, I started to have a fairly serious back injury and was told to stop running all together. So I just focused on my studies and the team. After graduating I took a year off to work and then decided my true passion was in cake making and fine pastry so I went to pastry school. It was during that time that I started running again. I ran my first half marathon in June 2014 (1:55) on basically no training and yes, it was a painful race. I would say I was always in shape through working out and running casually but I never followed a specific training plan. I then ran another half marathon in August 2015 (1:53). I didn’t really train for it, the whole race was a struggle but I loved it anyways. I decided right after that I wanted to run more races but I would train for them so I could feel strong during the race and run a time that was more reflective of my fitness. I believe my love of the sport was always there but sometimes we need a bit of a push to get us back into it, and that race was it for me.

monday on the run: alicia
I started following a training program and ran my next half marathon in October 2015, which I completed in 1:43. I felt strong the entire time and had the most fun! By that point the running bug had hit me hard and I was loving it! I ran another half marathon in November 2015 (1:43). I felt really good about my half marathon running so I thought about new challenge. The marathon had always been on my bucket list but I never thought I would actually run one. I was so inspired by all amazing runners on my Instagram who were everyday people (not professional runners). They were juggling jobs, kids, families, life and also pushing their bodies to run faster and further. I have so much respect for individuals who work so hard to achieve their goals, even when they may not have natural talent for the task. I thought why couldn’t I be one of those people and why not now? I knew it would take a lot of time and discipline but I was up for the challenge. So I signed up for the BMO Vancouver full marathon which took place on May 1st.

I chose a half marathon in Febraury 2016 and my goal was to run a sub 1:40 half. I figured that would be a good halfway point to my first marathon. I ran 1:37 and was super excited. After that I threw my heart into my marathon training. That was the focus. I was determined that I would get to that start line on May 1st feeling ready and confident about the race. And I felt like my training went really well. Of course there were tough days. As Carmy said I am not one to sugar coat things. I also get super irritated when people only post the positive aspects of their training, its not real! Some days are just going to be difficult. I don’t believe anyone ever said running a marathon was easy (and if they did they were lying!).

monday on the run: alicia

I mostly trained on my own. I work from 5 am to 1 pm most days since I am a baker. In addition I don’t usually get my weekends off since the bakery is usually the busiest on Saturday and Sunday.  This made it more difficult to train with a partner, since I didn’t have the typical Monday-Friday 9am- 5pm schedule. I did all my longs runs on my own. I was not able to train early in the morning before work (because I refuse to wake up at 3:00 am) and mainly did my runs in the early afternoons. But I made it work. I am realistic about my running, I understand that some days you really don’t want to do a workout so maybe you do a light run instead. Or things in life come up and you end up missing a run. That’s OK! We have to be more forgiving on ourselves, there is no point in stressing about the missed workouts. Move on and make the next ones better!

monday on the run: alicia
Most of my long runs went pretty well. I did have a really tough 22 miler 3 weeks before the race. I started out too late in the day so it was crazy hot and I’m pretty sure I got heat stroke. I had to walk a bit but I made it through and that was the most important thing. It was one bad run and I did not let myself get down because of it. I moved on, and focused on my next workout. The next week I did 14 miles at goal marathon pace on the race course. I felt awesome. Then the following week (a week before the race) I ran 11 miles on a hilly route alternating 1 km easy with 1 km fast. I was feeling so great. My taper went well, I was carb loading and my nerves weren’t out of control. I was excited to become a marathoner!
Race day I woke up early (I like to get up 3 hours before the start of the race to have enough time to eat and get ready). I had slept well the night before so I felt rested. I had my usual breakfast of oatmeal with a banana, frozen berries and some brown sugar as well as water and a small cup of coffee. My boyfriend was driving me and a friend, Jess, who was also running the marathon to the start line so I didn’t have to worry about getting there. Me and Jess hung out before the race and it was fun! I was feeling really great.
monday on the run: alicia
The gun went off and we started to run. I felt alright the first 5 km but at km 6 I knew there was something wrong with my legs. I was feeling so much pain and achy-ness that I had never felt before. I struggled to get to the 10 km mark and then struggled even more to the half marathon point. My parents were a few km after that and I pulled off to the side and said to my mom “something is really wrong with my legs.” She listened to me and basically told me I would not be happy if I didn’t finish. The next 20 km were a battle between my legs and brain telling me to stop and feeling the desire to cross that finish line. My family split up and saw me as many times as they could along the course. And I had a friend jump in and run with my from 32-37km. They helped me so much! I finally finished in 4:13 which was about 45 minutes slower than my time goal and what I had predicted I’d run based on my times in training. I was beyond disappointed, embarrassed and sad that the past 5 months of training had accumulated to this race.

It’s been 5 days since the race and I’ve been able to reflect on my experience with the marathon. I am so proud to be a marathoner, to have pushed myself through 37 kms while my legs felt terrible. I never really considered myself to be a tough person but after that I know I am strong, mentally and physically. I realize now the importance of finding joy in the journey. I poured my heart into my training for this race for 5 months, all leading up to the one day. And on that day, things didn’t go as planned. But that doesn’t take away from my hard work and commitment to this sport or all the hours I put into my training. I love running, more so now than ever before and I love the journey that brought me to this finish line.

monday on the run: alicia
First marathon, I’ve decided, is all about learning! I am taking some time off and then I have a few half marathons in June that I’ll start training for soon. I’ll use that as a base for training for my next marathon. I’m still deciding which one I’ll run but I’m leaning towards the Erie Marathon in September 2016. I plan on using the disappointment I felt as fuel to have a huge PR on my next marathon. I’m ready to take this rest, set some big goals and then get back out there to achieve them.

There you have it! I really hope you found Alicia as inspiring as I found her. She’s a gal who’s not going to give up easier and we can all use a little reminder that nothing comes easy and it takes grit and hard work to do what we do.
If you want to continue to follow Alicia’s running journey, you can find her here at @aliciarunsfast on Instagram!

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11 thoughts on “Monday on the Run: @AliciaRunsFast

  1. Nice to e-meet you, Alicia! Congrats on your first marathon! I know you’re time wasn’t what you were hoping for, but I’m a big believer that the first race of any distance should simply be about crossing that finish line healthy and happy – which it seems like you did! Keep it up, girl!

  2. Congratulations on your marathon! So exciting for you. Keep up the great work – you have a long and awesome running career ahead of you… how fun to be a baker!

  3. This was a great read! Despite not reaching your “goal” time, you still crossed the finish line;-) And, with a decent finish time, none the less. Thanks for sharing 😉

  4. What a great story! While it wasn’t the race that Alicia trained and hoped for, it just goes to show you that anything can happen on any given race day. She’ll be back, better and stronger than ever.

  5. I always love finding new inspirational women to follow. Thank you so much for sharing Alicia’s story and great instagram too. Apparently others have been having the funky blog pic issue too. Hopefully it resolves!

  6. I love following Alicia on IG! You are SO right – she is the sweetest, most genuine person and I love her can do attitude!!
    Great post – I loved reading the story of Alicia’s journey toward her first marathon. I’m so happy for you Alicia and you will use the experience and all your training to kick total butt in the fall. Most importantly – you ran your first marathon and that is a HUGE accomplishment!! Congratulations!!! xo

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