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Posted on: 2017/6/2 15:40
Joined: 2004/6/16
From: Runner's Life!
Posts: 59
Athlete of the Month - June
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Congratulations to Runner's Life Athlete of the Month - Aziel McKenna!

Sport Section:

How was your 2016 season?

I started to realize somewhere in my 2016 racing season that my running was off and I wasn’t performing where I thought I should be and as well as I had in previous years. It took me a while to come to this realization. Reflecting back, I realize a couple of things: although I was running, I wasn’t running as much I had in the past (so my weekly distance was down) and I was trying to have all my runs be in zone two or higher. Honestly, I think I became lazy with tracking my runs and I was expecting the same results. I knew that something needed to change. So at the end of the 2016 racing season, I went and had a long talk with Dave to find out what I needed to be doing differently and why things weren’t adding up for me. This is when I started to realize that I needed to overhaul everything I was doing with my running and do something different. Heart rate training became an idea in my head that eventually formulated into a plan. Although I was hesitant as I was thinking to myself, ‘I am going to be running so slow’ and ‘how is this ever going to make me faster?’ I decided to take it on.

I am not a math person by any means and understanding and working out percentages and heart rate is not something I completely understand. So again, I asked Dave to help me figure out some of these numbers for me.

So in a nutshell, I was not happy with my performances and overall running in my 2016 season, but without it, I wouldn’t have made the changes I needed to make and wouldn’t be where I am now.

You have changed your training lately, what did you do and how’s it working?

So at the end of January 2017, I decided that it was time to start heart rate training. I was slow. I was running over 7:00min/km. It was frustrating because I knew I could run faster. But in the back of my head, I just kept telling myself, that this would make a difference and would make me faster in the long run. I was often the last runner finishing for a long run or during a tempo or interval workout, but I continued to preserve.

I spend four days of the week running in my zone one, which is the easy, slow pace. I spend an average of two days a week in zone three or higher. I am still tweaking zones two and over, but I am getting there. I am constantly monitoring my watch to keep me in the zones I need to be.

This has actually allowed me to runner more mileage per week then I did in my 2016 season.

I have managed to slowly get faster in my zone one and I hope that my time continues to improve in this zone.

So since training in my heart rate zones, I have done several races. Two I did while I was still in the middle of this new regime (YMCA half and ATB). I was worried because in both those races, I still had poor performance times for what I expected in my mind. I did the Butterfly 5km at the end of April. That time was a bit better. In May, I ran the Sporting Life 10km. Although it was all downhill, I had a personal best for the 5km half way mark and the 10km finish. I was pleased. I was somewhat nervous completing the Ragnar Relay, though I had the shortest overall distance, compared to the rest of my team. But I would say that I was happy with my paces and times for the segments I completed.

What are your goals for the 2017 season?

I still have lots more work to do with my heart rate training. I have many goals left for the rest of the year.

One goal is to run 2500km this year. I am almost at the half way point. I have run 1154 kilometers and have 1346 kilometers to go.

I have not run a marathon since 2012. My last marathon, I did not do well. I have decided that this year I will tackle another marathon. I am looking at the Niagara Falls International Marathon. I am not ready to attempt to qualify for Boston. So for me, I am looking at getting a personal best in this run, which would be running it under 4h13 mins.

I plan to run at least one more half marathon this year. Although I am doing the Diva half in June, this is more of a fun run I am doing with my sister in law. Anyway, my goal for my next half marathon is to finish under two hours. That is not a personal best, but to where I am right now, I think it is a good goal. I do plan to continue to push myself to reach another personal best in a half marathon, but that will be in 2018.

How do you manage to balance your various pursuits, training, family, work, etc?

When I decided to start running in 2009, I decided that this had to become a priority for me. This often means going to bed early and turning down inviatations to get my rest so I could run. I have a really supportive spouse who often goes with me to race weekends and encourages me to run.. He has sacrificed at times his own interests to help me pursue mine.. Derek is my cheerleader, always at a finish line, getting up super early to take me to a race, bringing me water when needed or coming to pick me up unexpectedly.. When we got Troy, I started to run with Troy..

Every week I look at my schedule, if I work late, I either run after work or adjust the day I run.. this sometimes means I miss run club.. Derek and I also compromise, sometimes I miss a group run to take Troy out so Derek can do an activity of his choice or I take Troy before run club and Derek comes to pick him up.

I admit there are lots of days that I don't want to go out the door, but I remind myself that I never regret going and it's good for my own mental health, so I make it important to me and I go, one foot in front of the other.. Derek knows that I run at least five days a week and he supports that, especially when it means taking the dog..

What's your favourite workout?

Honestly I don't have one.. I run.. I run with Troy or I run with the group.. I bike here and there, but not like I run.. I haven't found a strength or cross training regime that I have followed for a long period of time..

What's your favourite race?

Great question! I tend to only do out of town races once as I figure I only have so much time and so many races in me.. for spectators and atmosphere, I really like the Ottawa Race Weekend in May.. I've done both the half marathon and full marathon there.. the people cheering for you when you feel you have nothing left is great..

For scenery and view, the turtle half marathon was great. The course is really a run around Macinaw island.. I saw so many runners stopping to take pictures of the views!

It's probably a cliche to really like the race that is your personal best, which is the Sporting Life 10km.. but it was great!

Favourite piece of gear?
Body glide is awesome! But really I don't have certain gear I lean towards.. I'm always open to trying new gear..

Bucket List of Races?

One day I would really like to run the New York City Marathon.
In 2021, I plan to go to Disney World and run the Dopey Challenge. This is where you run four days in a row. Each day is a different distance (5km, 10km, half marathon and marathon).

One day I would really love to be able to say that I made it to the Boston Marathon. But I know this is a long time away. It really is a future orientated goal.

Favourite Pre-Race Meal?

Pasta - rose sauce - cheese

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Life Section:

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing what would you be?

If earning a living and money wasn't an issue, I would volunteer my time. I'd love to join the Red Cross and travel to different countries, building schools or wells or whatever was needed in an impoverished community. Although I already work in a helping profession, I want to expose myself to other cultures and diverse how I can help others

What are some of your favourite motto’s?

You can only control your own actions, no one else's.
Life is too short to dwell on the past.
It's okay to wear your heart on your sleeve.
Sometimes you just have to grab life by the balls and go with it.
Take a leap of faith every once in a while.
Don't judge someone from a first appearance, you don't know their story..
Everyone deserves a second chance.
It's okay to make mistakes, it's part of living and being human..

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Sleeping - not having any responsibilities - reading in the sun - spending time with Troy and Derek and if i can fit a run in there, it would make my day complete..
But I also love being somewhere warm, on a cruise ship.. I love being in the sun..

What’s on your iPod?

I have such a variety of music on my phone.. Meatloaf, Abba, Taylor Swift, The Tragically Hip, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Survivor, GNR, Blue Rodeo.. just such a mix..

Favourite Cocktail?
I'll never turn down a Caesar.. and I love my piña colda's!.

If you could have dinner with any 3 people living or dead whom would they be?

Such a hard question!
Dean Karnaze's is an ultra marathoner from the States.. I've followed him for years..
Viktor Frankl - was an author and survivor of a natzi camp and yet he still found meaning and purpose in his life.
Suzanne Philips - is a healer of sorts - working with a person's energy levels to help align body, spirit and mind in this wonderful out of body experience. I wouldn't believe if I hadn't experienced it for myself.. She is an amazing women who I adore and would love to spend more time with her.

What else should we know about you?
Being part of a running group is out of my comfort zone.. I'm such an intervort. I struggle with small talk.. but I've learned that this group is important to me and I am forever grateful that Dee suggested I join a couple of summers ago.. The group helps me with my running, but also with working through my feelings of anxiety of interacting with others.. As an outsider, it's so hard to break into a group of people who have a history and has spent so much time together, but this group is so welcoming, it made it easier..

At the end of the day, I'm not a quitter, I push myself, I preserve.. I work hard.. and whether it's evident or not, I"m a total sap and completely sentimental..

Lastly, I know I'm an old soul.. I am who I am. And I am learning to love and accept myself for who I am.. and I'm a total smart ass!

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