Athlete-Mom Interview: Caitlin Foisy

Meet Cait Foisy who lives in beautiful Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. Cait and I met awhile back while mountain biking in Canmore. She and her husband, Alex have recently become the proud parents of six month old, Olivier. We can quickly forget the joys and tribulations of getting active again in the first year after a new child comes again, but you can feel the enthusiasm Cait has for continuing to stay active as a runner. She has so much in fact that herself and Alex and another couple started a blog as a resource for families who want to continue to stay active with children in the mix (link below).

Cait, Alex and Oliver at a recent Halloween 5km race

Cait, Alex and Oliver at a recent Halloween 5km race

1. What was life like for you athletically or otherwise, prior to having your son and how has it evolved since? Growing up I was athletic but never one of the ‘top’ athletes. You could probably classify me as an ‘age-grouper’ (usually placing top 3 in my age group but not normally top 3 overall, unless it was a really great day). I did my undergrad at Queen’s University where I decided to take my love of running to the next level. Long story short I learned at Queen’s what it really meant to be a serious runner, and over 4 years I significantly improved my performance. I also took a one-year post-grad diploma where I competed in xc-running again. After university I continued to run for fun (yes, such a thing exists) training for everything from a 5k to a marathon. I have competed in triathlon for a while (up until recently where my current job isn’t conducive to training in the summer), mountain biking, trail and road running… basically I love everything outdoors!

Flash forward to present day. My son Olivier is 6 months (already?!) old and I have made the lofty goal to do a marathon this Spring (Ottawa) with the end goal of qualifying for Boston. I have found there wasn’t a lot of resources or ‘how-to’ be active with your whole family, how to manage who trains with baby if you both want to run, etc, so another couple and my husband and I founded a website: that addresses these issues.On the blog I talk about everything from how I started racing too soon post baby (oops! sorry pelvic floor muscles!), to doing a hiking trip with my girlfriends and  3-month old baby, to my training plans for Ottawa.

2. What motivated (or continues to inspires you) to get training and racing again?
I think my motivation is two-fold. First and selfishly, running is my time to think, de-stress, and be ‘me’. Sometimes I run with baby, sometimes alone. I am a better, happier person after I run. Secondly, I want my family to be active and the best way to do this is by leading by positive example.
I have always been competitive so for me it was only natural to want to race again. I am really excited to see how my results will compare. I used to compare my results ‘pre’ and ‘post’ marriage (new last name, new clean slate, new PBs!), and now have divided my results into ‘pre’ and ‘post’ baby. I am interested to see if having kids makes me faster (there has been much discussion and speculation about this for professional athletes)
3. Did you “train” during your pregnancy? How has your training/racing evolved/changed since becoming a mother?
I am not sure if I would say I ‘trained’ but I was definitely ‘active’. I was fortunate enough to keep ‘running’ until 33 weeks. My activities looked completely different though. I didn’t do any interval training. My normal run speed slowed down to my long slow distance speed. I hiked a LOT. I was pregnant through the winter so I did a lot of spin classes (thank you YMCA!). I went on a trip to Nepal and did an epic hike to Annapurna Base Camp (I joke that our son should have a better VO2 max than Lance Armstrong after that trip). I used to HATE walking but I got into walking during the pregnancy. David Suzuki had a nature challenge in the Spring last year where you had to get outside for 30 min 30 days in a row. This was a great way for me to take breaks at lunch, go for walks and break up my day.
Cait before power walking a half marathon while pregnant

Cait before power walking a half marathon while pregnant

Since the birth of my son I was eager to get back into running. I took it slow. I consulted with a pelvic floor physiotherapist (which I now recommend to all my friends) and talked to other moms about what they did. I did a lot of run/walks and am now into continuous runs. I have done spin class again, a few road rides (before the snow came), hiking and some walks. I have tried to fit in yoga (mom and baby yoga), weights (when I remember) and have done a lot of postnatal fitness classes at the YMCA.

A 5km run at 6-months post-baby

A 5km run at 6-weeks post-baby

4. What are your current training/racing ambitions for 2015?
-Snowflake Series (a fun, no-frills winter running series in Orillia, ON).
-Surf City Half Marathon Feb 1 in California (hellooooooo sunshine!)
-Ottawa Marathon in May 2015
-5 peaks trail running series
I would love to do a triathlon but with going back to work in the Spring I am not sure if that is realistic. It likely will not happen…
5. How do you balance family/work demands and interests etc with your athletic goals? 
This is a tough one! Communication. My husband is very supportive and understanding but I need to tell him in advance what the week’s plans look like so we can plan accordingly. My son is still not sleeping through the night so I am not willing to get up early to get a run in before my husband leaves for work. This means being very effective with my time during the day, and planning workouts/chores etc. I find I usually make a list for the next day with 5-10 things on it. I am lucky if I accomplish 3 of those things! A great tip from my friend Chantal Warriner (who is an amazing ultra runner and mom) is to do a ‘kid swap’ where you watch your friends kids for an hour so they can get in their exercise/ sleep/chores and then you switch. Moms are great, aren’t we?
7. Any tips or advice you would have for other moms with goals of getting back in shape and/or competing again after having children?
The biggest piece of advice I have is to be flexible. Before baby, getting a good night sleep was a given before a race. Now I am lucky if I get sleep on any given day. If you are tired or your body needs a break- listen to it! Take it slow. You don’t need to get into racing right away- you just had a baby for goodness sake! If you are worried about the weight not coming off, be patient. If you can breastfeed that definitely helps. If you are breastfeeding- get a supportive bra! Find a gym that has childcare. I am a member at the Y and it is great to be able to get a quick workout in while someone watches my son. Invest in the right equipment. Try out run strollers, baby carriers, etc. I have the chariot which is perfect for me as I can run with it, bike, and I just got the ski attachment so I can substitute some runs for skis this winter. Find like-minded moms or athletic groups. It’s a lot harder to bail on a workout if someone is joining you. Be happy and have fun! Enjoy being active. Your kids will thank you for it (maybe not right away, but they will one day!)
Hiking in the Adirondaks with Oliver at 3 months old

Hiking in the Adirondaks with Olivier at 3 months old

Why Running will always Rock!

I finished my second race of 2014 today, another road running race. It was 5 km short 😉 The last time I raced a 5 km was at the end of my racing days on the track, the last race of my senior year running as a Husky for the University of Washington. I was 1:12 slower today then back then, and although my legs wanted to party like it was 1998, my body that has since morphed into a cyclist and now a triathlete knew I would be well off the pace of my much younger self.

In a running race there isn’t always much of a story to tell, unlike the endless war stories of mountain bike and Xterra race days. Today, a few elbows were thrown around off the start line as myself and 632 other runners headed off for the out and back race along the gorgeous seaside in Sidney,  just outside of Victoria. Like most, I went out a little fast, then settled in, found my rhythm, and felt like I was rolling better on the way home. I picked off some people and had a little kick to come home across the finish line. Of course it hurt, like most running races in which you decide to push yourself.

But it did get me reflecting on what I’ve always loved about running, especially as I consider it through the eyes of other sports I’ve done and been involved with in my work as a mental performance consultant. Whether you are a full-time runner, do it as a duathlete/ triathlete, as cross training or to simply keep fit for any other sport, there are many reasons running rocks! While certainly applicable to other sports, here are my top reasons to continue putting one leg front of the other as a runner:

1. Time. Like my race today, running definitely takes less time out of your day. And probably gives you the most bang for your buck for building overall fitness.

2. Runner’s High. Need I say more. I can’t quite compare it to “cyclist’s high” or “triathletes high”

3. Anytime. Anywhere. Any season. Running can be done anywhere. Road. Trails. In a city. It is also the perfect pace to enjoy the scenery and take it all in. It can be done in most any weather or season, and doesn’t require any special facilities.

4. Social. Many of my best friends and more memorable conversations were through running together. There aren’t many sports where you can train side by side for long, and enjoy long conversations. One of my favourite memories growing up were family oriented breakfast runs with our local club.

5. No equipment advantage or maintenance. Unlike the sometimes snooty world of triathlon, no one stands around geeking out over what running shoes someone is wearing before the start of a race, or how much they must be worth, gasp! A good pair of running shoes is affordable to most anyone and a plus but they will never win you the race, you and your body alone must do all the work! You also don’t need to use your precious time maintaining, updating, or cleaning your running “equipment”. Just stick your stinky shoes back in the closet until tomorrow’s run.

6. Races en masse. Whether on the track, the road, or in the trails, running races always have plenty of participants. Big ones even have pace bunnies. There will be no shortage of people to run with and help push you to a personal best or simply keep you company. Because running is such an accessible sport, most can relate well or at least understand if you say, “I’m a runner”, unlike the more obscure sports.

7. Freedom. As related to point 3, you are free to run anywhere. Whether going to work for the day or travelling all you need to do is pack a pair of shoes and some running clothes to get a workout in while you’re away.

8. Life Balance. While this is certainly debatable, to reach your full potential as a runner it much easier to balance with other pursuits like school, family and/or working full-time. You don’t need to train hours per day or sacrifice another entire area of your life to give your running goals your best shot.

9. The Mom Factor. Of course I can’t forget that getting a run in was the easiest thing to do with me wee little ones (in the single and then double chariot carrier), and now I can run along with them while they ride their bikes. In a few more years I will be trying to keep up to them on our own family runs!


Athlete-Mom Interview: Richelle Love

Meet Richelle Love! As her name suggests Richelle exudes a love for life, family, and fitness that is contagious. And she blends and balances these loves in her work as the General Manager/Part Owner of Tri-It Multisport, a store for all the latest and coolest swim-bike-run products located in Calgary, Alberta. Richelle and I have put on two women’s mountain bike clinics together in the last few years and it was mainly thanks to her amazing organizational skills! Richelle lives in Cochrane, Alberta with her husband, Jeff and 15-month old son, Rowan. Read on for a yet another unique perspective for my first athlete-mom interview of 2014! As you can also see from the photos below there is rarely a moment Richelle is not smiling when out enjoying her favourite activities!


What was you life as an athlete (or otherwise) before having Rowan? I have always been athletic. Running, mountain biking and triathlon have been my main activities for the past 20 years. Right before getting pregnant I came off a great season of mountain bike racing and my second Ironman.

 What motivated (or continues to inspires you) to get training and racing again after one child? Doing something for me that I love. My runs (and especially my long runs) are much needed “me” time. Being able to keep up with my little guy also pushes me to stay fit. I want to be that mom who is able to ride her bike with her son and play all day at the park.


 Did you “train” during your pregnancy? What has your training been like post-childbirth? I was really active until around 6 months – teaching cycling classes, running, swimming, coaching a mountain bike camp for women, and I even did a sprint triathlon when I was 5 months pregnant. I then had a lot of fluid build up and got very uncomfortable which led to me not doing as much physically. I wish I had made the effort to walk more at that point as I know it would have helped my fitness and made me feel better.

I had a hard labor that ended up having an unplanned c-section, so I didn’t work out until 8 weeks after my son was born. That was hard, but I started easy on the bike and walking. I then slowly progressed to short runs and built from there. I took my time getting back to it to ensure I didn’t get injured. I built up and ran a marathon when Rowan was 10 months old and ran an off road ultra marathon where I raised money for MitoCanada just before Rowan’s first birthday. It was fun to have those goals.

I have noticed though fitting training in can be trickier as a mom – most moms can relate to this. You just have to be adaptable and flexible. Sometimes you can be all ready for a run and your little one can get sick or childcare is suddenly unavailable. Shorter, harder workouts become a necessity or doing workouts with your kids involved. My new one is “look at mommy make a funny face and do a squat. Oh, it makes you laugh…I am going to do that 25 more times!”


 What are your current training/racing ambitions for 2014? My 2014 goals are the Calgary Marathon 50th Anniversary 50km run and the Lost Soul 50km Off Road Ultra. I also want to get back to Xterra racing with Xterra Canmore.


How do you balance family/work with your athletic goals? I am so lucky to be part owner of Tri It Multisport where as a team we work to ensure we put emphasis on health and wellness. It flows into all aspects of my life. I am constantly juggling things to make sure I am giving my attention to each facet as it is very easy to focus on one or two of these things as the third one suffers.

The reality is you do need more hours in a day so you have to make it happen. Getting up early to get a workout in and staying up late so you can spend some time with your partner – as work and your little one often dominate the day. The extra effort goes a long way to your success. It is hard work and you have to choose to make it happen so no one looses out, including yourself.

 Any tips or advice you would have for other moms with goals of getting back in shape or even competing again after having children? Make sure you don’t rush or push to hard as you get back at it. I have seen a lot of new moms try to get back at it too early and most commonly run into hip or pelvic floor issues. When you are ready get out there and do what you like – it has to be something you are excited to get back to.

Pick a goal. It can be hard to get started if you don’t have a goal. It will also help motivate you to get your workouts in. Moms can have a lot of guilt feeling like they need to spend 100% of their attention on their kids and not on themselves. I know I can fall into that thinking very easily. Let your spouse know your goals so you can work together to make sure you get out and are active.

Be flexible. Sometimes a workout is cut short due to the naps or a sick baby. These things happen. Don’t get frustrated and do what you can. Squats while holding you little one or push-ups while playing can be an excellent workout – you choose to make it work.

If you can, buy a Chariot. They can really help you stay active with your little one. Take them along on your adventures. My little guy loves riding in the Chariot. I will take a peek when I am running and can see him looking around at all of the sights. It is good for them to get out and get the fresh air too; the Chariot makes it possible to do that in all types of weather and conditions.


Floating through the Miles

We’ll be thinking of you this morning as you float through the miles. That was in the email I read from my parents at 6:00am on Sunday. It put a smile on my face and I decided it would be a good motto to run with in an hour when I started the Calgary half marathon race, along with thousands of others starting out in the full marathon.

After a few days of nonstop rain, we were lucky to wake up to a sunny morning, although still rather chilly at 7:00am. I have to say running races like this one are pretty cool when you can feel the energy of joining so many others setting out with the same goals for the day, finish and finish as strong as possible. After all, how often do you see this many people hanging around in the porta-potty lines at once!


We lined up to start and I set myself up behind Lucy Njeri Muhami who had come out from Toronto to race. With her PB of 1:12 I knew I would be racing for 2nd. She was tiny and ran so effortlessly. I enjoyed watching her back for about 1km before she pulled away. After that I settled into my own rhythm but turns out a guy named Elmostafa Ansom of Cochrane, AB was into the same pace. As we rolled through the zoo in the first few kilometres I noticed even our breathing sounded exactly the same and we were knocking elbows several times during the race. Weird, but always good to have a pace buddy! When the marathoners tagging along behind us turned south, we crossed downtown on 11th into a slight headwind and hit the 10km time split in 38:15. I was slightly behind my pace a year ago at all the time checks but also feeling way better, and did kind of feel like I was floating along rather smoothly. Heck, I’ve been a runner since the age of 12 so there must be some long-term payoffs to knowing how to put one foot in front of the other with some decent technique and muscle memory!

Through 14km or so the sun was shining a bit warmer and it is always so cool to have such major roads like Memorial (paralleling the Bow River on the north side of downtown) closed off just for us to run on. I saw Lucy a good few minutes ahead approaching a turnaround point but as I made the turn the 3rd and 4th women didn’t look too far off. I knew I would need to keep the pace strong to defend 2nd place. I felt like I still had another gear in the tank if needed which was a nice feeling. Back under the Centre Street bridge we merged with the 10k runners for a few hundred metres of gong show, tricky passing before having our own half-marathon lane all the way into the finish. My running buddy dropped off the pace and I was on my own. One young dude seemed to just saunter by with about 600m to go and said good race. I stayed in contact and said no way are you going to take me here with this short of a distance to go. I mustered up what felt like a sprint finish to pass him back and crossed the line in 1:21:34, and in the money, woot woot!

Congrats to everyone who ran and many of my training pals who set personal bests. A huge shout out to a record-breaking weekend by my training friend Myron and 9 others. They broke the Guinness record for fastest linked marathon by a group of runners tied together with leashes around their waists. The old record was a group of five who ran 2:57; the new record is 10 guys who ran 2:55:23, while impressively raising nearly $100,000 for research into mitochondrial disease! Read more here.

Of course a few shout outs to the moms: Congrats to Pauline, the third placed women who has kept up some solid run training with 2.5 year old twins! Lisa Harvey, mom of two and our Olympic legend in Calgary won the 10k in 36:22, with Chantell Widney, a mom, was hot on her heels in 36:30. Watch for Chantell racing the Xterra East Champs with me in Richmond, VA on June 9th!

Thanks to the Calgary Marathon for a super well organized event! Next year will be the 50th year of the Calgary Marathon so should be pretty special, apparently it is the oldest marathon in Canada!

Women's Podium

Women’s Podium

First 13.1 Miles of Pavement Pounding for 2013

Fact 1: Running races usually hurt pretty good especially when you try to go hard

Fact 2: Running races usually aren’t that much fun until the post-race satisfaction fun

Fact 3: Walking down stairs or doing much at all is particularly painful the day after a pavement pounding race!

The Final 50 metres of Ouch - thanks Mark Wild for the Pic!

The Final 50 metres of Ouch – thanks Mark Wild for the Pic!

Despite all of the above, I still toed the line here at home in Calgary for the annual Policeman’s Half Marathon with about 1300 others yesterday morning at 8:00am just as the kids were getting up and having pancakes with the babysitter. I have done this race two or three times in the past and the weather has never been great. Last time I competed in this race it was a full on snow storm!

Yesterday, it was maybe 4 degrees C at the most when we started with a rather chilly wind kicking up. I was started to regret my choice to wear shorts as we lined up. I thought I might try to stick with my coach, Cal off the start but he took off like a bat out of hell and later told me he went through the first mile in 5:35! Good choice by me!

Although I did see him up ahead several times during the race I could never quite close. A few miles into the race, there were a few other women still around me but soon it felt like no (wo)man’s land. I bridged up to a guy in a bright green shirt and decided to stick to him and hopefully get some draft into the headwind sections. He was running super relaxed and thanking every group of volunteers we passed. Wish I had the breath to do so as well! Turns out bright green shirt guy was named Mark St Amant about to set a PB by 12 minutes!!! Awesome!

Despite doing a short warm up before the race, my legs felt much less like ice-cold bricks and I finally did start to feel warmer overall by about the 8km mark. The sun sort of came out for a bit as we ran on the bike paths around the south side of the Glenmore Reservoir. It was awesome seeing all my CSR training buddies not racing out on course cheering too. At the 12-13km mark I finally decided to try taking a gel during a running race and not gag. To my surprise my Clif Chocolate Cherry Gel (new flavour this year!) with caffeine went down pretty well and hopefully gave me a bit of a boost to get through the finish line at the 1:23:38 mark for 11th overall and 1st female – a PB on this course for me and a good test to give myself a bench mark before my next half marathon run race one month from now!

Why did I just do this again?

Why did I just do this again?

Congrats to everyone who came out and all my CSR training buddies who set PBs as well! Grabbing the kids for some pancake brunch after rocks too! Winning a few free pairs of shoes from Foranzi’s Tech Shop was pretty sweet too!

Post race team CSR pic

Post race team CSR pic

Of course us Tri-geeks have to get a post race spin in too!

Of course us Tri-geeks have to get a post race spin in too!

Calgary Half Marathon Race Report

I’m hobbling down stairs today and with a racer’s short-term memory I am shocked again at how sore every muscle in my body can feel after pounding the pavement for 13.1 miles (21.1 km). A little while back when I saw there was decent prize money for the Calgary half marathon, I thought it might fit well into my race schedule and be a good chance to go for a personal best time. After all, my only other three half marathons that haven’t been at the end of a half-ironman distance triathlon have been the Calgary Policeman’s half, always at the end of April, and pretty much always cold, rainy or snowy!

The start!

Well even the end of May can still be chilly in Calgary, and at our 7:00am race start it was cool and cloudy but at least dry. Sporting my first Luna team race singlet with a wool shirt underneath, shorts and gloves turned out to be the perfect choice (no camera with me but hopefully I will find some pics to add soon). The marathon and half marathon racers, meaning well over 4000 runners started out together from Stampede Park – it is pretty amazing to do events with that many people – a very cool part about road running races! I started in the second row, and went out with the plan to follow whoever was to lead out the women. I noted Lisa Harvey in front of me (a 1992 Olympian in the 10km, also a mom of two, who is still flying at the age of 42!). She took out the pace and was slightly ahead of me along with a blonde girl in a purple tank top. You never know who is going to show up! I was dangling slightly behind them along with Nadia Fry (last year’s second place finisher) as we went through the first kilometre in 3:30….hmmm, a little quick I noted but it feels OK. I was slowly bridging up to the two leaders near the first mile mark where I man yelling out splits said 6:02. Perfect. Just need to hold this pace from now on. Lets see if I can – Cal said trust in your fitness so I would. After passing through the zoo, I was feeling good enough to take over the lead near the 5km mark, which we passed through in 18:02.

I’d eaten a pretty big bowl of oatmeal at 4:15am and it was still feeling pretty heavy in my stomach. I’d forgotten how little I should eat before a pure running race! I was carrying a gel but didn’t think I would have any room to stomach it! On the amazingly flat course with a few tiny rollers, we headed west on 11th Ave downtown, it was cool to have all the streets completely closed off for the race. There was a headwind so I was happy to tuck in behind for a draft as we passed through the 10km split in 36:43, technically a 10km PB for me as my last 10km road race was a 38:19, which I ran at 16 years old – haven’t done much of this road stuff at all over the years!

After Coach Cal’s warning about bonking I forced down half my gel before we headed north on 14th and then west again on Memorial. There was a turn around at the 13km mark, and I was happy to see J-F had made it there with the kids in the Chariot – pretty impressive since normally the kids are still sleeping until closer to 8:00am. A small wave was all I could muster. Sometime around 14km I think Lisa dropped back a bit, and shortly afterwards, a guy we were running with started to pull ahead. I felt good and started to go with him but soon realized I was pushing it too early. I backed off and let purple tank top girl come back to me and decided I would just stick to her pace. Turns out this girl was Grace Kary, a young runner for the U of Calgary Dinos doing her first half marathon.

As we ran under the Centre Street bridge with about 17km to go Grace was pulling ever so slightly ahead and I was starting to lose contact with her. I was determined to just stick to her but my legs weren’t letting me! Shortly after we merged with the 10km racers which was a bit of a gong show for the last couple of kilometers trying to weave in and out of them, keep my pace, all the while trying to keep at least eye contact on the back of Grace. With about 500m to go we got our own finishing lane and I was able to just run as straight as possible – although that was even tough as even my eyeballs were starting to hurt and seeing straight was hard!

While I realized I would have to settle for 2nd I was also happy knowing I was going to get my goal time of a sub 1:20 time for the day. I crossed the line in 1:19:08. A great day, and fun seeing lots of friends out for the race as well. And nice to make a cool grand cash prize for the first time in a running race! Yeehaw, the top five were all awarded some nice cowboy hats as well – very fitting!

Here are the top five women overall, full results at

1:18:37.63  Grace KARY F2024  Calgary AB

1:19:08.35  Danelle KABUSH  F3539  Calgary AB

1:21:04.13  Lisa HARVEY  F4044  Calgary AB

1:21:24.14  Nadyia FRY  F2529  Invermere BC

1:23:31.37  Rosemarie GERSPACHER  F3539  Calgary AB

Athlete-Mom Interview: Madelaine Bate

Madelaine or “Maz” and I met while racing the Canada Cup mountain bike races about 10 years ago! Since then she has become the mother of 5 year old Eva and 2 year old Liam. While living in Calgary with her husband Lonn, who has also remained very active and competitive on his bike as well, Madelaine has continued to stay fit and set challenging and compeitive goals mountain biking and running! She recently went on a solo adventure to compete in the Commonwealth Mountain Running Championships in Wales! After running a blazing 3:10 at the Boston marathon in April she will soon be off to conquer the marathon distance again in New York City on November 5th! Here is what she had to say about how her athletic journey has progressed and evolved into motherhood….

1. Can you tell me a little about your athletic/competitive background before becoming a mom?

Starting in Grade 3 I became a competitive runner and cross country skier.  I competed in biathlon through my late teens. I was a member of the Junior National Biathlon team and competed at the World Junior Biathlon Championships in 1992.  I enjoyed adventure racing in my mid to late twenties before discovering a love for mountain bike racing. I raced my mountain bike at the elite level for about 5 years before I had my daughter.  I continued to race some enduro mountain bike races post partum and still do when I feel like it.  Presently I’m running road marathons and I am planning to run some off-road ultra marathons in 2012!

2. What motivates you to keep setting athletic and/or competitive goals since becoming a mother? Is it different than pre-kids?

It’s fun!  I love it!  I feel inspired! I’ve been competing for about 30 years- it’s something that I’ve always done and enjoy.  I have a passion for competition and I love to push my body.

3. How do you balance training and/or racing with your family?

I go out for early morning runs (morning is a good time for me) before my husband goes to work.  We own a chariot!  It’s amazing how active you can be with one.  My family (especially my husband) and friends are very supportive.  I’m also active as part of the work I do, I teach cross country skiing & a spin class.

4. Did you train during pregnancy? What was your approach?

I wasn’t on an official ‘training program’.  But I did keep very active throughout.  I did what felt good.  I cross country skied, roller bladed, mountain biked (at Nose Hill Park close where I live in Calgary), hiked, and walked a lot.  I continued to teach skiing & spin classes until about 6 months. My approach was to do what feels good and listen to my body.

5. Any advice you would give to other moms trying to stay active (or even competitive) while balancing kids?

Take care of yourself, get enough rest (easier said than done), eat good quality food and do something that you’re passionate about.  Don’t rush into ‘training’ post partum because your body will take a while to fully recover. It’s also such a short time that your kids are young so be sure to savour it!  Enjoy those precious moments, as there will always be another race : )

Maz at the end of a grueling 25km trail running race in Canmore!

Athlete-Mom Interview: Elinor Fish

Elinor and I met while at the University of Victoria and we were on the cross-country running team togther for a year before I transferred to the the University of Washington. We met up randomly about 10 years later at a trail running race in Canmore, Alberta. She has continued to push the distance and is now running ultras and encouraging other women and moms to stay active through her company, Run Wild Retreats, which organizes trail running and yoga adventures for women. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Rob, and two year old son, Reed.

1. Tell me about your athletic background prior to becoming a mom.

I began running competitively in high school and ran middle-distance track and cross country at the University of Victoria. Our team won the Canadian inter-university cross-country championships in 1998 which was a great way to end my college racing career. After graduation, I moved to the Canadian Rockies and discovered trail running. I ran my first ultramarathon, Alberta’s Lost Soul Ultra 50K in 2003, and decided that I preferred going long and steady than short and fast. During that time I was freelance writing, and in 2006, moved from Canada to Colorado to join the team at Trail Runner magazine as managing editor.

It was truly a dream job in that it afforded me opportunities to travel and run trails in places like Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile, and compete in races like the week-long GORE-TEX TransRockies Run. I loved that my job involved gleaning wisdom from some of running’s biggest names, though I confess to getting rather star-struck when meeting famous runners like Kara Goucher, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Scott Jurek.

After almost five years there, I left Trail Runner in January to pursue PR and marketing at Backbone Media, and expand Run Wild Retreats, a company I founded to organize trail running and yoga adventures for women.

2. What motivates you to continue setting athletic goals since becoming a mom?

Last summer, when my son was just one and a half, I ran the Leadville Trail 100-miler, my first single-day century race. My only goal was to finish–and I did–but barely. It was the toughest race of my life, but I wanted to do it because, after taking on a new role as mom, I had to prove to myself that I was also still a runner. I had feared losing that part of myself because I was struggling with being a mom and managing a full-time career.

Through the process of training for a 100-miler, I realized that running played a very different role in my life now than it had before I became a mom. Slipping out for a one or two-hour trail run or grounding yoga class was a necessity–not just a treat–that I needed in order to be effective in my other life roles as wife, mom and employee.

Knowing I wasn’t the only hard-working, frazzled, wanna-be runner mom on the planet, I decided to take my ideal recipe for rejuvenation (nature, trail running and yoga) and package it into the Run Wild Trail Running and Wellness Retreat for Women. The two retreats we’ve held so far have drawn diverse women from across the country together for four days in the wilderness running trails, doing yoga, talking about our bodies, our goals and our challenges.

As soon as one retreat ends, I can’t wait to begin planning the next, and right now that’s what motivates me to run. Running improves my quality of life and my goal is to share that experience with other women. In order to preach it, I must first live it.

3. How do you balance training with family?

My husband, Rob is incredibly supportive. He’s active as well and understands how important running is to me (and is quick to point out when a run would improve my mood). On weekends, we negotiate time for our respective sports and time as a family. When Reed was little, I often pushed him in the Chariot or carried him in the backpack during brisk hikes. Now at 2 1/2, he prefers to be independently mobile, so we do short family hikes or ride bikes together. When I want to go for a longer trail run of 4 or 6 hours, it’s all about trades–trading time with my husband or trading babysitting with friends who have kids.

And I’ve embraced the value of short runs, especially during the week. I may run for 15 minutes between day-care drop off and the start of my work day, then run for 45 minutes at lunch. And if I only have time for 30 minutes at lunch, then I’ll make sure it’s a quality 30 minutes. All those shorts runs count as training if you make them count.

Even though it can feel crazy hectic sometimes, one of motherhood’s best gifts is having no time to procrastinate. Training happens because I either plan ahead or snatch the opportunity (I always have running shoes and clothes with me in case I get a chance to slip out).

Elinor and son, Reed

4. What was your approach to training during pregnancy?

I was lucky that my running partner and close friend Joy was pregnant at the same me! We kept one another motivated, even as our bodies changed and running with a passenger became more difficult. We’d plod along together and laugh at our pokey pace.

I listened to my body’s signals and gradually slowed my pace and reduced my mileage as it felt necessary. I was lucky to have a very healthy pregnancy and was able to run through the 8th month, changing to power walking and hiking during the last month. I have friends–who happen to be pro athletes–who did a lot more training while pregnant than I did, but I took the excuse to be little lazy, sleep more, hang out on the couch and watch movies.

5. What advice do you have for other moms trying to stay active (or even competitive) while balancing life with kids?

Be honest with yourself about what role your sport plays in your life right now. How important is being your fittest relative to being the kind of mom you want to be? Knowing where your priorities truly lie will help you make time for what’s most important. Your daily priorities should reflect what you value most, and if they don’t, stress will result because you’ll never have enough time for everything you want to do.

6. Which was tougher, the Leadville Trail 100 or childbirth?

Both events were much tougher than I had anticipated. We’d planned a home birth for Reed, complete with birthing pool and a midwife. But after more than 27 hours of labor, it was clear I had to go to the hospital, where I eventually had an emergency C-section.

At Leadville, my electrolytes were off balance and I began to retain water. By the 75-mile mark, I had gained about 5 pounds and my feet were so swollen I could barely walk. Those final 25 miles was the longest walk of my life. To reach the finish, I had to draw from mental and physical reserves that I didn’t know I had.

While I had achieved my goal in both–to birth a healthy baby and finish my first 100-miler, neither event had happened the way I had expected. It was hard not to feel disappointed, but after some time, I’ve learned to be less concerned with controlling situations and more concerned with accepting change and adapting to it on the fly. The most successful parents and ultrarunners I know seem to be masters at this.

7. Are you training for any races in the near future?

I am going to Boise, Idaho in October for the Foothills Frenzy 50K, a race organized by some women who had attended a Run Wild retreat last year. We had so much fun together during the retreat and I expect it will be just as much when we reunite in Boise for the race. I look forward to running hard and having fun, but I am equally looking forward to maintaining these friendships forged from a shared love of trail running.

Athlete-Mom Interview: Amy Golumbia

Amy grew up in Canmore, Alberta and now lives in Calgary, Alberta. She has a private nutritional consulting business called Jump Start Nutrition, and is raising 6 year old twin girls, Jasmine and Natlie (pictured here at their first triathlon!). She is a superstar trail runner and also rips it up on the road from time to time. The rare time our schedules fit, she makes a great training partner. Here’s what she had to say about balancing family, work, and her passion for running….

1. Can you tell me a little about your athletic/competitive background before becoming a mom?

I started running in high school for the cross country team.  That took me through to running for U of A and Mount Royal while I was there, which was a great experience all round.  It was hard to balance full time school with working and training though and I remember being pretty tired. Plus eating on a university budget and trying to compete at that level is always less than optimal but that’s the way it is!

2. What has motivated or motivates you to keep setting athletic and/or competitive goals since becoming a mother?

I’m not sure that it’s a choice anymore.  It’s just a part of who I am.  I like to change it up and I race so that I have goals in mind when I’m training otherwise I don’t know that I would get out of bed on those early morning runs in -20!  I guess to some extent it’s become part of who I am and I love the running community and the people I’ve come to know through it.

3. How do you balance training and/or racing with raising twins?

I think I’ve had to learn to let go.  To accept that sometimes my house isn’t as clean as I want, that the grass didn’t get cut when it should have.  Plus you have to learn to multi task, as so many women do.  I usually remember to do my makeup as I’m pulling into the office.  A lot of my social time has become time with friends who run.  It was funny the other day I had breakfast with a running friend and I got really annoyed that I had to go for my run first and then meet up with him and that we couldn’t just do our visiting while running.  Yikes!  🙂  He had just done a 55k run the day before and needed a day off.
Now that the girls are in school it makes training a little easier but honestly I’ve used the chariot with them for most of their lives.  I just had to get more and more creative with the things I gave them to keep them busy once they wouldn’t nap in the chariot any more!  Now that they are a combined weight of 90lbs it’s a little less realistic to run with them but it still happens when I’m desperate!

4. Did you train during pregnancy? What was your approach?

I ran up until about 5 months and then when I popped I had to stop.  Shortly after that I was put on bed rest for 2 months and that’s when I took up swimming as I could do it as long as I was horizontal!  My approach was that I had always run and so why would I stop doing something that my body was already used to?  I figured if I could conceive twins then I could continue to exercise moderately as it made me feel good about myself.  I just had to slow down a bit.  I was hungry ALL the time though!

5. Any advice you would give to other moms trying to stay active (or even competitive) while balancing life with kids?

I guess if you’re competitive I would suggest that you treat it like a job, because it is.  It takes a lot of time and effort and planning and eating properly.  If I wanted to give other moms advice it would be that you deserve at least 1-2 hours to yourself a day and if running is the thing that makes you feel good, then do it.  And find other moms who understand you and that you can run with.  It has been really important for my kids to see that I have a passion that I am willing to dedicate my time to.  I always thank them for letting me go for a run and giving up mommy time.  It’s pretty hard some days but I always come back feeling better and that makes me a better mom!

6. You work as a holistic nutritionist, what does that mean?

A holistic nutritionist is trained in various holistic modalities.  Essentially it means that you treat the person as a whole package vs just analyzing their diet.  Food is never just about the food, especially for women.  There is always a story and because food is so integral to our lives, a choice we make every day at least three times a day, it carries a lot of meaning.  I work mainly with whole foods whenever possible, some supplements but I absolutely LOVE my job and in the past few years have really learned a lot more about auto-immune and chronic conditions and how to address them and alleviate some of the symptoms through balanced nutrition.  Nutrition is so foundational to health, even the docs tell me that.  But they figure everyone is too busy and just wants a pill.  Having been in nursing before, I would way rather empower individuals to take their health into their own hands than give their healing power away to a pill or a doctor.

7. Do you have any tricks to encourage your daughters to eat healthy?

I don’t know that there are tricks.  We talk about where food comes from.  We go to the store together and talk about what foods are on their level vs on mommy’s level.  It’s really about balance.  The Weston A Price foundation is a great resource for parents.  Kids actually need a lot of good fats and proteins to grow and develop properly so “healthy” is very different for kids than it is for adults.  If there is one “trick”… it would be that when kids prepare the food with you they just love to eat it.  Because they own it a little more.
But essentially, kids are attracted to foods with lots of flavor and nutritional value.  They tend to gravitate towards those foods.  So if you’re feeding them fruit and veg that has traveled thousands of miles, was grown in depleted soil, it won’t taste good.  To anyone.  It’s worth the investment to go organic and as local as possible.  And plant a garden.  I know we have a short growing season but it really connects kids to where food comes from!

8. What is the next big event you are training for?

I leave for Trans Rockies in just over a week.  That has been my goal race for the year.

(Note: The Trans Rockies Run is a six-day stage race taking place Aug 21-26 in Colorado. Runners race in teams of two and cover 119.5 miles (192.3km) with 20 800 feet of elevation gain! Find out more and follow the race at www.

Canadian Mountain Running Champs Race Report

I’ve only done a handful of running races since I officially hung up my track and cross-country spikes twelve years ago but today was 42 minutes and change of painful yet fun running at the Canmore Nordic Centre. It was chilly and spitting rain just before our 10:00 start but I had fun warming up on a few sections of the new single track I will be racing next weekend on my mountain bike. Wow, it was strange doing a run warm-up and strides again!

On the senior women’s start line was a small but impressive women’s field consisting of some well seasoned trail runners, a biathlete Olympian and cross-country ski Olympian who are also strong runners (the Senior men raced 12.5km after us). I knew it wouldn’t be an easy day. My friend Madelaine Bate (also a mom of two who I used to mountain bike race with and now is focusing on Marathons) got the hole shot off the start line and when we hit the first hill Magi Scallion and I were at the front side by side. Then it was into the single track and all the way up to the top of the oven before we crested the top (where I was reminded how loud and heavy my breathing is during a running race!) and turned left and got to let gravity take us down the twisting trail. Luckily we didn’t have to run all the way back down to the stadium! We stayed on the narrow trail and went back up again to do the same loop two more times – a 9.2km total course. Magi was hanging on strong and I finally broke away from her a little the second time up the climb. I was also able to reel in the race leader, a young buck in the under 19 category who just went out a little too fast for himself.

In the end, the slightly cool temperature felt great to race in while leaping over the roots downhill and fighting hard to keep a good rythmn on the steep ups. I finished a mere 20 seconds or so in front of Magi, with Megan Irmie, superstar biathlete finishing a big week of training in third.

If you’ve yet to experience the awesome and fun trails of Canmore for running or riding you can experience the course we did today on this quick lapsed time video – kind of cool!