Fire Burning

Hi! Remember me? It’s been a while. I am sorry for that. My first excuse for not writing is that I started a new job and have been riding a pretty serious learning curve, so the last thing I wanted to do when I came home (providing I didn’t work late that day) was spend more time on the computer. But things have leveled off somewhat, so that’s nice. My second excuse is that, well, my running has been consistent but not terribly exciting. Especially since I’ve been running at night, (re: past 4:30pm) so it’s dark and not very interesting for photos (However, I did throw in some pics of my winter so far)

This is a relatively exciting view (Prince's Island Park)

This is a relatively exciting view of a nighttime run (Prince’s Island Park)

When I last let off, I had just finished a terrible marathon, but survived and moved on. In the past 3+ months, my running life has been similar to a doused fire with some embers left glowing in the ruins. I had come out of injury, trained and ran a marathon that I felt didn’t reflect my current fitness level. I was lacking any sort of recent PR (what’s that?) and felt like I was really starting from scratch. I knew I still needed to rebuild, and needed to do it smartly to get back in the game and stay there. My passionate love for running and racing was still in there somewhere, but I didn’t know if or how I could get it back.

A frozen Glenmore Reservoir

A frozen Glenmore Reservoir

I started getting into Metabolic Efficiency Training (Sweaty Emily has a good post about it), and used that as a focus for my winter base building training. I found it easy on my body, and I was able to build up my mileage to about 30 miles/50km a week. I missed running in the daylight and trail running, but at least I had a focus now. I didn’t see much progress with my pace, but all I could really do is trust in the process and hope for the best. I didn’t have much plan to build up for marathon season, and that was making me a bit nervous. I wanted to be able to push limits, but not so much that I’d end up injured again. My relationship with running was on the line.

Dear Trail Running: I miss you

Dear Trail Running: I miss you

Then, along came Mollie. She posted about a BOGO monthly online coaching special she was offering for Oiselle Flockmates. After a little bit of consideration, I jumped on it. I had toyed with the idea of getting a coach for some time but never went for it. So I read Mollie’s blog and twitter to get a sense of who she was, then decided “fuck it!” and threw some money in her direction (via the internet). I have never heard of anyone saying the regretting getting a coach, and she is able to run a 3-hour marathon and I cannot, so why not give it a try? I must confess, I am stubborn in the sense that I like to figure things out for myself and I find it hard to ask for help, but as Dan told me after I broke the news “sometimes people just know more than you do and that’s ok”. Wise boyfriend is wise.

photo 4

East Village

So… that was about three weeks ago! And? It’s going great. She took my current mileage, added some intensity and we’re building on that. The interesting thing? I got a bit faster very quickly. Keeping my HR in the same 70-75% MHR zone that I was when I was doing MET, my paces just seemed to drop. Which I like! Who doesn’t? Nothing like seeing some progress to ignite the spark again. It’s like some gasoline got thrown on the burning embers I mentioned above and I am head over heels in love and excited to run again. I feel confident in my running again, and I’m really excited to see where I can go with this. My next goal race is the Vancouver Marathon in May, and I’m looking forward to it but I am also looking forward to all the training and running I get to do between now and then. It’s all about the journey, man.

Buildings look pretty at sunset

Buildings look pretty at sunset

And I feel like writing again! It’s much easier to write when you’re either angry and need to vent, or excited and inspired. Feeling neutral and average is rather boring. Life happens on the ends of the spectrum! (This was a tangent I wasn’t planning to take, but I’m going to leave that out there).

Moral of the story? Persevere, get a coach, do the work.

Chinook arch, one of the great things of winters in Calgary AB

Chinook arch, one of the great things of winters in Calgary AB

PS I know I still owe you (well, some of you, you know who you are) a Seawheeze race recap. I will come up with something, I promise. I have plans.

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Breakdown and Rebuilding

HAYYYOOO. How are you guys? I am well.

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about running. And not because it’s going bad, mostly because I was feeling pretty “meh” about it.

Since we (I) last spoke, I have kept up with weights and cross training while easing myself back into running. While rebuilding my mileage base, I’ve focused doing so on trails. This gives me a softer, more variable surface to train on, gets my head out of the pace obsession (because trails are MUCH different), and will get me set up for future trail races (which I’d like to do more of). All this and I get to take advantage of all the beauty my province and city have to offer. Like Nose Hill Park, a short 20 minute drive from my house:

nose hill

Lived in Calgary most of my life and have never been here before this day. Whooops.

Not Alberta (I was visiting my grandparents in Saskatoon at the time), but still a trail

Not Alberta (I was visiting my grandparents in Saskatoon at the time), but still a trail

Upper Kananaskis Lake. A flat yet exciting 16.5km trail complete with a river crossing due to a washed out bridge (thanks flood)

(source)

And since I’m on the trailporn roll already, here’s a couple hikes I’ve done recently:

Ha Ling peak, which overlooks Canmore.

Ha Ling peak, which overlooks Canmore.

And last weekend’s trip to Elk Lakes Provincial Park (hiked from Alberta to BC, camped and did a little fishing at Lower Elk Lake)

elk lake 2elk lake 3 elk lake 1 elk lake 4

Aside from all that, SeaWheeze training is going fine. Like I said, base building and keeping it mellow. I was fine with it for a while but started to feel like something was missing.

Sunday night when we got home after Elk Lakes I had a little meltdown. While I had just hiked 20km between two days with a weekend’s worth of provisions on my back, the mental toll of dealing with injury and other problems resulted in me feeling overly conscious and upset with my body. Through my injury I kept up my fitness, and since I have been working on increasing it, but I was feeling a little scared of pushing myself again in fear that I won’t be able to achieve the results I want (running wise), or that other parts of my health will take a toll. I felt frustrated, helpless and confused.

I had a good cry, a good meal and a good sleep. The next day the idea of running an October marathon started blossoming in my head. It would be enough time to train, and it just so happened that MEC is putting on their first full marathon this year, on October 19th. Their races are great because while they’re well organized and draw a good group of people, they are CHEAP and not a qualifier for anything so the pressure that I like to put on myself to run/get a specific time would be completely off. So I went for it.

mec race

And that started a chain of events…

glenbow

13.5km of trails…

fish creek

16.5km of trails…!

And a little 5k this Friday, because why not?

And a little 5k this Friday, because why not?

After I was done signing up for all the races, I got anemail from Oiselle regarding a new branch of their team called the Flock. It’s a first come, first serve membership in which you pay a fee which goes towards their athlete development fund, and in return receive a singlet, special deals, and a spot in their team. I jumped on this, obviously.

:)

🙂

And while I honestly had my sights set on joining the Vollee team (which they are not expanding this year), I have zero problem in helping them support their elite athletes. Travel costs are expensive, and Oiselle is a small company doing great things for women’s running. I have already connected to so many other amazing women running with the Flock, and if you’re reading this, I’m looking forward to getting to know you and following your journey!

My attitude from last week to this week has done a complete 180. I had to look deep and take some chances (long trail races, marathon), but setting those goals have given me some purpose and something rewarding to look forward to. In my experience, if you’re unhappy it is 100% your responsibility to make the moves to change the tide, and nothing has ever been changed by self pity.

I’ll leave you now with my new favorite song from my new favorite album:

And this one because it’s weird and I like weird:

Ciao!

Change of Plans

Last week I got an email from the BMO Vancouver Marathon regarding what the medals and t shirts will look like. Not that I don’t care, but I’m getting them either way so it’s not a big deal. One thing on that email however grabbed my attention.

Image

What? I can switch races? The first emotion that rushed in what excitement. I followed the link, checked it out and sure enough, I can switch into the half or 8k races for a $10 fee. After getting my ass kicked by the previous weekends 30km run, the thought of running a half marathon was much more appealing, and I even felt a sense of relief. I had a much better chance of finishing the race, and maybe even have a good one.

After consulting runner friends and some social media outlets, I went for it. So now, in just over a week, I will be running the Vancouver Half Marathon.

Since then, my shins have flared up a bit again and now I’m getting all nervous about running a half. Sigh. So as of now, I’ll try my best, enjoy my weekend in Vancouver, be a good cheerleader at the finish for my friends, some running their first full marathons, and look forward to burgers and beer afterwards.

I’ve been going through a mix of feelings about it, from relief and confidence, to concern that I won’t be ready to even run that, back to confidence so hopefully that stays with me for the next week. Either way, here goes something (else)!

 

The Long Run

I cannot WAIT until I no longer feel the need to talk about my shins/calves/lower legs, and I’m sure anyone who reads this or hangs out with me IRL feels about the same. I’m sorry. But when you have something this annoying and shitty it kind of takes over your thoughts/life.

Anyways. After running Icebreaker the shin pain and tight calves returned. I iced periodically all day long while at work and took another break from running. Actually, I was pretty lazy overall in the cardio department. Oh well.

This past weekend I threw caution to the wind and ran. Outside. On my legs. For 30.5 whole kilometers (19 miles for the imperially-inclined). This was my last “long run” before the race and I wanted to see if I could do it. So while visiting family in Saskatoon, I plodded along a nice single track dirt path (to minimize impact) along the river.

2014-04-13 09.07.59

My pace went from 9:00/m to 14:00/m since last 10km was fairly walking-heavy. But as my friend Tyler reminded me, that is still forward propulsion and therefore still counts. And it hurt. Not my shins (thankfully) but my butt. My butt had enough. I had forgotten what long run pain feels like.

For the remainder of the day I laid on the couch and watched my 5 year old cousin perform his interpretation of a Chinese Lion Dance. It was just as amusing as it sounds.

But I did it.

They always say that you don’t have to win the workouts, just the race. And this long run, no matter how slow it was, will help me get to my goal of finishing the marathon. I’ve got three weeks now to keep up with my running conditioning yet tapering at the same time, and of course making sure I am as healthy and pain-free as possible. This simplistic, “just finish” approach reminds me of running my very first marathon, so hopefully I’m as happy as I was the first time when I cross that finish line, regardless of how long it takes me.

An interesting side effect of this long run has been my desire to run. As hard as it was, I came back wanting more. Previously I was teetering on burnout due to frustration, but now I am looking forward to summertime races and a fall marathon. I’ve promised myself to not sign up for anything until after this race, but I think you could bet on me running the Regina Marathon on Sept 7, claiming my running redemption (hopefully).

Maybe I was a little inspired by this guy

 

Running Strike – Week 2

And just like that, two weeks has past since I last ran. My conclusion? I think that two weeks will be my new standard of abstinence from running next time I am cursed with an injury. Would I have been cured earlier had I taken the two weeks off sooner? I will never know. But what I do know is that I feel pretty great now. I’ve even sprinted across the street a couple times with no pain/niggle/any sensation that my calves or shins were causing me so much pain for so long.

Since we last spoke I have spin class-ed once, pool ran twice, swam once, had two rest days, and three sessions of weights. Wednesday night however my neck and upper back seized up to the point I couldn’t turn my head, but thanks to some chiropractor adjustments I feel much better and am 90% back to normal with minimal residual tightness.

An example of all the neck movements I couldn’t make.

Otherwise, I have been feeling fan-fricken-tastic.

Last night I ran, and it was glorious. Calgary is finally warming up, and I couldn’t wait any longer. I threw on my Hokas and went out the door for a little 5k jaunt.

Before: a little scared

Before: a little scared

I used my Nike app, so at the first half mile it announced my pace to me: 8:14/mile. What? I was running comfortably, but didn’t feel like I was overworking it. I just made sure I was relaxed and not in any pain, and figured it would drop. At 1 mile, it announced I was at 8:15/mile. That’s cool. Mile 2 was 8:16/mile, and I was running in a well developed groove and felt mega comfortable bounding along in my bouncy Hokas. Mile 3 was 8:17/mile. I stopped to walk a little at the end, resulting in an 8:18/mile average for the 3.12 miles. I couldn’t fucking believe it. Is this what I’m capable of when I’m not in pain?

After: maximum stoked levels reached

After: maximum stoked level reached

I’m glad I took this time off and even more glad that I didn’t just spend the last two weeks sitting on the couch and feeling sorry for myself. I am almost exactly a month away from the Vancouver marathon, and a little nervous that I haven’t ran further than 16 miles in this training cycle. On road. In the pool, I’m up to about 20 miles so maybe I’ll be ok? I don’t want to jump into a 20 miler on the road and hurt myself again, so I think I will keep my long “runs” in the pool and work on building back up in my runs during the week. I keep reminding myself that this is my “experimental” marathon and to have no expectations.

These past two weeks I have embraced cross training and quite enjoyed it, thus allowing me to break free from the mental patterns and activity bad habits I had created and develop new, more positive ones:

LISTEN!!!!!*^$!@@% to my body above EV-ER-Y thing else

– Take rest days when I need them, guilt free, even if they’re not scheduled

– No more being a mileage Nazi. Use goal mileage as a guideline only

– Substitute some runs in the pool, especially if I don’t feel 100% to run on land

– Swim once a week

– Yoga once a week

– Spin once a week

That being said, I am currently undecided if I will run tonight. I have a slight ache in my right shin, and although I am currently compressing and icing it, if that niggle isn’t gone by the end of the work day, back to the pool for me. This Sunday I am running the Glencoe Icebreaker 10k and I would like to be able to have the best run/race possible.

Anyways, that’s it for now! Wish me luck!

v

 

 

Running Strike – Week 1

With week one of my running streak is complete, things are going pretty well. I’m still taking it day by day, but generally my shins (especially my misbehaving right shin) are feeling much better. Old Me at the point would’ve thought “hey! I’m feeling mostly better lets get back at it” but New Me knows that this injury likes to rear it’s stupid head again and again when you’re think you’re close to being out of the woods. New Me wants to be way the fuck away from those woods before she hops back into her running shoes.

Why two weeks? First off, that’s what my trainer recommended. I didn’t question him. Maybe I should have? Either way, it seemed like a good chunk of time since after a week I’m typically feeling “good enough to run” but something ends up hurting. Secondly, I am registered for the Glencoe Icebreaker 10k on April 6 and intend on running it. It would be nice to get a couple easy runs in before hand so I plan on giving that a try next Wednesday or Thursday.

But this strike does not mean I’m not training! Oh no. I’ve been filling the running-shaped void in my life with various other cross training, reduced-to-no impact activities.

Spin classes have taken the place of my tempo runs and track workouts, and pool running the longer, slower distances. Last Saturday I successfully completed my first long run in the pool (2hr, 45 min).

my new treadmill

(source)

If you think that “running” for nearly three hours in your neighborhood gym’s dive tank would be painfully boring, and you would be right. But it’s less painful if you procure one of these little guys.

It’s a waterproof iPod bag with a headphone jack! Don’t ask me how the headphone jack works in the water because I don’t know, it just does. It’s science.

Anyways, I loaded up my iPod with Hunger Games on audiobook (entertaining, doesn’t require much brain-thinking) and went for it. Soon enough two hours went by, and I really only dreaded the last half hour. I was hungry, had to pee, and was looking forward to my massage that afternoon. But all in all, it was good and I’m not totally dreading this Saturday morning when I get to do it all over again (but for longer).

At least I can reward myself with food after.

Another exciting thing I did this week was swim laps for the first time in… oh… two years? I did it quite a bit in University and after, but got out of the habit. I decided to go for 45 minutes, and would basically do laps of front crawl until I got tired and then I would throw in a lap of breast stroke. I swam 1500m in total. It took me a while to get into it and find my stride (stroke?) but the last 500m I had no issue holding the front crawl for several laps at a time. In the end, I really enjoyed it and hope to throw one swim workout into the mix once a week going forward.

Mentally I’m feeling pretty good. The frustration I had with being injured and the anger I had towards two small parts of my lower legs has dissolved and I’m feeling relaxed, happy and healthy. I think I stand a good chance of having an enjoyable, pain-free race as long as I keep myself fit and healthy (being injury free) even though Vancouver might not hold the PR I had previously hoped for. But who knows! I’ve never trained for a race before in this way. Anything could happen.

Off to Austin!

Hi everyone! This week I was busy with some work training so I didn’t have a chance to post a training recap for last week. But here it is. I threw in this week for good measure too although there isn’t much there.

But exciting news! I’m off to Austin for a week! Dan and I are visiting my cousin, and I’m running the Austin Half Marathon. I’m taking it as a training/see where I’m at/please don’t die shins run with little expectations. But for the most part I hope to be doing lots of this:

austin2

From my last trip to Austin

LAST WEEK

Monday since I took Sunday off, I was craving some time in the water (WEIRD I KNOW). I did a 50 min pool fartlek workout, which was alright. I still don’t feel like I get AS good of a workout in the pool as I do on land, but that’s probably because my form is not up to par. In fact, when I saw this article, I could totally relate to Figure 2 below.

Tuesday I felt bold before my early morning physio workout. I didn’t tape my shins but I did a stair interval workout at the gym. 10 min warm up, 10 min stair repeats, 5 min run, 10 min stairs, 5 cool down. They didn’t feel great from all that. Physio however went well and I wasn’t immobilized after, which is an improvement.

Wednesday morning I felt no real pain and decided I would run on the treadmill at lunch. While walking over to the gym I realized I left the KT Tape at my desk, but didn’t want to lengthen the amount of time I spent outdoors so I decided I would just see how far I got. The answer to that was 3 miles (out of the planned 5). Well, actually I got to 2.5 before the pain set in, and finished up the 3 then did the remaining 2 on the elliptical (at 180 strides/min).

After this, my mood went down the toilet. I felt a weird spasm/niggle/pain occasionally in my right calf. Great. Something new. I felt generally defeated and scared that I won’t be able to reach my goals this year. I didn’t even want to work out at this point. I just want to go home and cuddle my cat and cry into some wine. Completely over this injury business. I just want to get back to putting real miles into my spreadsheet, not “estimates based on pool time” to make myself feel better. I want to say “yes!” to meeting up with friends for a long weekend run. I want to get excited about the thought of running snowy trails, not wince with the thought of how much pain it’d bring me.

Nothing describes frustration quite like Kim Kardashian’s crying face (source)

I don’t like feeling defeated. In the past I would wallow in my disappointment (typically in myself) and let it eat me up. I am, however, getting increasingly better at pulling myself out of the slumps and finding a solution. Growing up my parents had very little tolerance for self pity, and now I’m finally finding that I can limit my wallowing and actually DO something to better the situation.

So in this case, I decided I want to be in an inflammation-eliminating, injury-healing machine and picked up some calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, Omega 3, and some MSM combo supplement (to help with soft tissue repair). Down the hatch they went followed by a glass of wine as I finished the poster for this year’s Epilepsy E-Race.

Anti-Inflammation Super-Healing Arsenal

Anti-Inflammation Super-Healing Arsenal

After hearing about the “amazing anti-inflammatory properties” of turmeric I decided to pick up some fresh turmeric root and make some tea with it plus honey. It tastes pretty good, but if you decide to go this route head my warning: IT TURNS EVERYTHING YELLOW.

2014-02-10 07.28.09

EVERYTHING

Post-turmeric tea toothbrush. Gross.

Post-turmeric tea toothbrush. Gross.

Thursday morning I was ULTRA sure to tape my shins, and got up bright and early to run a hilly workout on the treadmill:

1 mile 0% incline

1 mile increasing incline by 0.5% every 0.05 mile

1 mile 0% incline

1 mile changing the incline gradually with step backs (0.5, 0, 1.0, 0.5, 1.5, 1.0, 2.0…. etc) every 0.05 mile

1 mile 0% incline

All at a 9:35ish pace.

The shins were a little tender but a major improvement from the day before. I did some strength training at lunch.

2014-02-08 09.48.20

My latest taping method

Friday more lunchtime strength training (core, arms and back focused) followed by a tempo interval workout in the evening (3 x 1 mile @ 8:00, 7:47, 7:47 with 400m recovery between) and a half hour of pool running.

Saturday had a scheduled 22km-ish run but under strict orders from my physio to not run more than 10k, I did 1 hour on the elliptical, 1 hour on the treadmill, then 20 min pool running while Jamie kept me company. Shins taped and in compression socks. I got to watch the Dufour-Lapointe sisters win gold and silver in freestyle skiing and was the only person in the gym crying on the treadmill.

!!!! SO proud.

!!!! SO proud.

Sunday I yoga’d! Leela Eco Spa has a great hips and back class that is perfect for runners. I also read this about yoga and inflammation, and since I’m all about reducing inflammation these days let’s bring on the yoga.

This week was a tough one to get through mentally (I will admit some of it was hormonal). It took a lot to get back to being positive and trust that I WILL get better and feel strong once again.

THIS WEEK

Like I mentioned before, this week was a little out of the ordinary. The only runs I had were a fun 3.5 mile tempo (2 miles @ 7:53 and felt great) and a short hill workout the next day, in which I couldn’t figure out why I felt so tired until I remembered that I tempo’d the day before. I also finally wore my Oiselle Lux top (with the Lesley tights) so it was the comfiest run of all time. The lux material definitely lives up to its hype.

2014-02-12 16.52.15

I also got to meet Mandy’s daughter (weeeeirdddd!) Hadley! She’s perfect and smells nice like a baby.

2014-02-12 20.52.02

Anyhoos, I am off bright and early tomorrow morn! I won’t be on here for a while, but get on Twitter and Instagram if you want to follow my ATX adventures in real time. They’ll be good, I promise.

austin3

Let’s play spot the pale Canadian at the Canada theme party