Where have I been?

Why hello, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

The past six months of my life has been… interesting. I’ve started many posts to try to pull together all the events and emotions without getting too personal, negative, or falsely optimistic and this has obviously not fared too well. But not that the dust has settled and things have calmed down, I can look back and make some sense out of life again.

Within a month, I had a grandparent fall ill, a break up, a friend’s sudden passing, and a diagnosis of a stress fracture in my 3rd metatarsal, all while still adjusting to a new role in a new company. The resulting fall out was a major life adjustment and the loss of some friendships, but also a new found focus on self love and appreciation.

Fat Foot.

Fat Foot.

I have learned how to set boundaries, speak up for myself and how to focus on what is important, like succeeding at my new job and the physical recovery of my foot. I’ve learned the priorities of other people in my life (both good and bad), and who to rely on during tough times and who not to, subsequently “weeding the garden”. Through taking a step back from pretty much everything, I’ve been able to pick and choose what to allow back into my life. I’ve also found a new partner who is equally as ambitious creatively and athletically as myself. We’ve enjoyed many a mountain adventure this summer, and have plans for many more.

photo

All my running plans were thrown out the window this year, but I took this down time to heal any nagging injuries and focus on coming back stronger in 2016. I solemnly swear that from now on I will do more preventative maintenance so I am not plagued by injury after injury. Kelly Starrett is my new best friend.

I’ve been slowly building up my running again. In June I started walk:run intervals of 5:1 minutes, and now I’m up to 1:3, which finally feels like a “run”. I’ve been cleared by physio to run a 5k race on September 26, which although it will be likely very slow, I am definitely looking forward to it.

I’ve been toying with the idea of rebranding and recreating this blog to something that more accurately reflects the trajectory my life is now heading in, but I’m unsure if I will or what that will look like. But until then, I think I’ll keep updating this one and figure the rest out along with way (kind of a metaphor for life, ha!).

I Did Not DNF

I ran my sixth full marathon yesterday (MEC race series #7)… And it was brutal. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it really sucked. Like, so bad that I’m not going to even bother checking my official time. I cried approximately twice and wanted nothing more than for someone to pick me up on the route because the distance between me and the finish line just felt so overwhelmingly huge.

I’m not exactly sure what happened. I trained, albeit not super hard but I got the necessary mileage for my program in. I tapered, rested, and carbo loaded. I was in a good mood at the start, no big goals, just focused on having a solid run on a beautiful day, however the universe decided that I needed to work a little harder for that to happen.

The day started out innocently enough. I slept well, saw a beautiful sunrise on the way to the start line at the Telus Science Centre. I met up with my Oiselle teammates Leana and Ange, who were both running the half marathon. The full went off first at 9am, and with Leana and Ange cheering for me, I left the start all smiles.

IMG_1453.JPG
Being my first home city marathon, my mom promised to meet me at the 5k aid station, and my dad said he would cheer me on along the way, and ended up station at the 16/27ish aid station. Seeing them on the course was the best experience. Seriously. It was the first marathon that my Dad has seen me run, and he stuck it out for a good long time to see me both ways. I had a huge smile on my face each time, even though the second time I was feeling significantly less optimistic.

I felt pretty solid up until km 20. I was right on track for running a cool 4-hour run. The course was generally very flat but around that point we entered Bowmont park and started heading up. And up and up. And I think it was somewhere around here the wheels fell off.

I had to really pee, and had been holding it for a while, then my Achilles (a little on and off niggle) started getting angry, and the hill up to the 22.5km turn around point/aid station kicked my ass. I decided I would plod out until then, hit the bathroom and regroup. I did just than, and head back down the hill. I noticed a weird ache in my tailbone. TAILBONE. Seriously, wtf. It made running downhill very uncomfortable, but then over time (a long time) it did go away. But my legs were done. Everything just generally cramped up and hurt.

When I was at about 25km, my mind took a one-way express train to negative town. I started feeling incredibly overwhelmed. My energy felt good, but my legs ached SO BAD. It felt like I should have been 35km in, not 25. And I was on the opposite side of Calgary from the finish line. This was the first time I texted Dan.

I somewhat employed a 10/1 run/walk routine, until I saw my dad again at the aid station. He gave me a hug and ensured me I was looking good and that everyone was looking rather tired coming back. We walked for about 5 min together towards his car (which was the direction I was headed in anyway) and chatted. I was able to gather myself for a while after that for the next 3ish km, then the reality of how far I still had to go sunk in. I texted Dan for the second time, whilst bawling. I sincerely hoped he would offer to pick me up so I could throw in the towel. But all I got was encouragement to keep going. Damnit.

IMG_1455.PNG

IMG_1456.PNG
The next aid station informed me that I was just about 10k from the finish (oh ya, I forgot to mention there were no km markers, and I didn’t properly sync my watch to satellites so I was essentially running blind to distance), and that seemed still far, but slightly more doable. I kept running at 10/1 as best as I could, but sometimes my legs hurt too bad, or there would be small hills near bridges that I would have to walk.

I kept plodding along, picking points in the distance to run to then typically kept running past them. A lady on a bike (who was cheering her friend along) was particularly encouraging and chatted with me for a while, following me on her bike. Then about 5km from the finish, everything went numb. Although it didn’t last, it was a nice break from the sore everything I was experiencing.

Those last 5k would just not quit. When I got to the section that went along the zoo, the undulating hills were impossible for me to run. I walked a good section, and ran when I could (aka when it was flat). Then, a switch went off in my brain and I just stopped caring, and started feeling almost happy and enjoying myself, despite the pain. I sang along to George Micheal, complete with hand motions, while bike lady rode past me again, giving me a thumbs up (I was slightly embarrassed).

I turned out of the zoo area and aimed north towards the start/finish a the Science Centre. Plodding up, I saw two figures on a bridge, one waving at me. It was my Mom and Dan.

IMG_1457.JPG
Check out that form.

I “sprinted” (lolz) as hard as I could to them, got hugs and cheers to carry me to the end. I kept as strong as possible, knowing my next spectator, my friend Meghan, would be there.

Right around the very last bend I felt something “go” in my toe (blister related), hobbled a bit, but pushed through the last bit of pain. Meghan spotted me, ran towards me and we both crossed the finish line holding hands. It was a truly magical friendship moment!

Meg took good care of me until Dan and Mom arrived back from their post on the bridge. She helped me get my bag and presented me with a selection of beer to choose from (FUN FACT: Oiselle arm sleeves make effective beer cozies in a pinch when drinking in public post-race). I had a quick free massage, relaxed on the grass as Dan and our friend Andrew played on a nearby swing set. Later we feasted on BBQ and beer, followed by an ice bath and early bedtime.

Would I liked this run to go better? Of course. Am I upset? Not at all. I wanted to quit, I want to so very very bad, but I didn’t. And not only am I grateful (although surprised) by my own perseverance, I am grateful for those who who stuck it out with me that day. My dad for being the best mid way pick-me-up/photographer. (Dad, you’ll have to come out to another one soon so you can catch me on a “good” day 🙂. My boyfriend Dan for always making sure I follow through on what I set out to do, and always with a smile on his face. My Mom for always being a great cheerleader, and Meghan for being a great new cheerleader (you can bring me beer at the end of any race!). And of course my Oiselle ladies, Ange and Leana, for sending me off with a great start and knowing you were rooting for me. I can’t wait for our Spirit of the Marathon/wine night/cry fest. (And for the pictures I stole from you for this post).

IMG_1451.JPG
Sometimes even with the best laid plans shit goes south and you end up getting what you need out of a race instead of what you want. I guess I needed a kick in the butt to get training a bit harder (and smarter) if I want to get back to where I was a year ago. I had my time building back after last years “shinjury” (like that, mom?), so now it’s time to get serious. And I also needed the experience of having so many positives happen in a day that it outweighs one seemingly catastrophic negative. I got to run on a beautiful fall day, along the river, in a race I only paid $25 for, with some incredible friends and family, and I finished one of the hardest races of my life. What could I possibly feel sad about?

IMG_1450.JPG

One Year Ago.

One year ago today, I got this notice:

evac notice

And then this happened:

flood 001

bench

flood 004

flood 030

the bench from above is under there somewhere

keynote2

zoo

flood 026

flood 019

flood 038

The lobby of my building

Actually taken on the Monday, the first day we could access any part of the parkade. This is going down to the first parkade floor.

The entrance to my parkade (days after)

flood 047

 

Then this happened, not just in my neighborhood, but all across town:

flood 044

flood 046

flood 041

flood 045

The best people.

 

And let’s not forget….

#floodbrows - you have to entertain yourself somehow when the city shuts down

#floodbrows

It’s surreal and almost hard to believe that this all happened a year ago. Living in one of the hardest hit areas, it was one of the most stressful and difficult times of my life. But from that I have seen the beauty and true colors of my friends and family. It gave me faith that no matter what hard times fall my way, I have them as my safety net. Too all of them, I love you. I’m forever grateful to have you in my life.

And the city of Calgary, and all of its residents who banded together to help those who lost everything, thanks for restoring my faith in humanity. I hope everyone is lucky enough to experience the goodness people have to offer. It’s fucking beautiful.

Be good to each other. Not just in times of need, but always.

Motivation

There are lots of reasons why we lose momentum. Sometimes it’s an injury, changes to routine, you’re not seeing enough progress, you’re seeing progress and think you can afford to take some (lots?) of time off, burn out, distractions, etc. Whatever the reason, it can be difficult to get back in the saddle and keep on going.

For myself, being in recovery mode can get me lazy since I’m not specifically training for anything, but I need to keep up be strong to hit the ground running when I’m able to. For others (wink and wave! hehe), you have to jump on the training-for-a-race train and hang on. Whatever your situation, I thought I would share what Ipersonally do to help motivate myself through a race training cycle (complete with loads of inspirational quotes from Pinterest, but of course).

Get pumped. Watch the promotional video for the race. These videos are designed to get you pumped for the race, so it will be a good starting point for the items below. Also watching videos of people you admire doing great things will get you stoked to do the same.

How can you not be motivated by the Flyer? (source)

Also read this article by The Oatmeal. It’s hilarious, realistic and strangely motivating.

Set goals. Write the reasons why you are running the particular race. It could be a time, a new distance, fun with friends, etc. But write down the feelings you expect to experience.

Visualize. Remember the feelings you wrote down, close your eyes and imagine running, crossing the finish line, etc. Do this again while running. During hard workouts, like tempo or long runs, imagine you are in a tough part of the race, then imagine the finish line and how you will feel crossing it. Relating the two will help you when you are in that pain zone, as your mind will go to the reasons you listed.

that finish line elation

Triggers. Come up with some key phrases that kick your butt into gear and repeat them to yourself when you find you’re having trouble getting out the door or struggling during a run. Some of my personal favorites (don’t laugh) are:
– Dig deep
– Break on through to the other side
– Want the results? Do the work
You better work, bitch
– Relax. Inhale. Exhale.
– It’s not supposed to be easy
– Don’t give up
– You got this
Think about past experiences that make you feel accomplished or happy. It doesn’t even have to be running related, any positive thought will help.

Rewards. Another tip to trick yourself into staying consistent is to think about what you like to buy or do and use them as motivators. This takes some willpower and focus, but so does anything worthwhile in life.

For example, there was a time where I wanted to buy all the new clothes and risked going overboard with the spending, so I told myself that I would buy one clothing item a week if and only if I met all my workouts. If clothes ain’t yo thang, but maybe going out for dinner/drinks is, and let that be a reward. The only catch is that you and ONLY YOU are responsible for ensuring you don’t get your reward without completing your goals. It’s a practice in willpower but that’s not a bad thing! Practice makes perfect and it will get easier.

Celebrate.Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Bad days come from any number of factors, but your best days are indicative of your abilities, you cannot fake those. This is why I advocate keeping a training log. Looking back to previous weeks/months/years you will see a gradual improvement, and if you keep on keepin-on then think of where you can go!

Adapting. If you find that your certain motivational triggers are becoming ineffective and stale, take a step back (not longer than a few days to a week) and repeat the above steps again. Don’t be afraid to try different angles as your brain will try to trick you into becoming lazy and complacent. It will get easier, however, to push through these tough times and re-motivate yourself.

7. Keep your eyes on the prize. Giving up or putting in minimal effort is easy, but warrants few rewards. Make the most of your training and see what you can do when you dedicate yourself to something, chances are you will surprise yourself. Sure, it’s going to be hard, but as I said earlier, it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s when we challenge ourselves we grow stronger, build confidence, and refine us to become the best we can be.

Be determined to find a way.

 

Liebster

I’ve been nominated for  Liebster Award by Leana! What fun. A Liebster is a pass-it-on questionnaire for bloggers, where you are asked 10 questions about yourself then nominate 10 people to answer 10 questions that you come up with.

Here are my answers to Leana’s questions:

1. What is one piece of gear that you own (not shoe or technology related) that you wear all the time?

Hmm, probably socks? I will never ever run without socks. I hate the feeling of sweaty feet sliding around in shoes. Also my feet blister quite easily so I can only imagine the grossness that would occur if I didn’t have some sort of decent (and fairly thin) moisture wicking socks. My favorite socks are ProCompression. They’re relatively thin (my feet get really hot) yet compression, thus reducing swelling and blisters in my feet.

boppin along in my ProCompressions

boppin along in my ProCompressions

2. Do you wear different shoes for different workouts, or do you wear the same shoes all the time?

Different shoes. Long runs typically get the shoes I would wear in a marathon (Adidas Adios) or something with a bit more protection.

I love you

I love you

For speedwork I used to wear my Saucony A5, but I haven’t done any of that for a while and they’re worn out. I might get the A6 to replace them when I feel up to returning to speed work.

For strength workouts I wear either the New Balance Minimus or Mizuno Wave Universe, but preferably the Universe. There’s not much to them, so when I do my exercises I can feel the muscles in my feet and ankles working quite a bit.

3. What is your favorite post workout snack?

FOOD.

Ok I’ll be more specific. Usually I like a smoothie if I’m not too hungry or I need something quick. It could be some chocolate VegaOne powder with coconut water/milk, something made from whatever I have in my fridge (possibly ingredients include almond milk, coconut milk, hemp seeds, chia seeds, kale or spinach, berries, banana, gelatin powder…), or a Jugo Juice smoothie.

My 'alien grey' post run smoothie (more delicious that it looks). Banana, coconut milk, spinach, blueberries, gelatin, almond butter.

My ‘alien grey’ post run smoothie (more delicious that it looks). Banana, coconut milk, spinach, blueberries, gelatin, almond butter.

After long runs or a really hard workout, I’ll usually crave meatballs.

4. Do you listen to music when you run? Why or why not?

Yes, I usually will.  I like that music makes me feel like I’m in a movie of sorts, and that I have a soundtrack going on. It helps me get in a confident mindset. I’ll also listen to audiobooks if I’m doing something where I don’t have to push myself hard, but could use some entertainment (easy runs, long runs, pool runs).

5. Do you prefer to run in a loop or run an out and back?

I’m not too picky and both have their pros and cons. Loops can be fun since the scenery is different the whole say, but out and back takes less planning. If I’m running in a new area I’ll do an out and back so I don’t get lost and/or confused. If I don’t know how long I’ll run for, I’ll do laps of the 5k loop near my house.

6. Why do you blog?

Since I previously didn’t know too many other runners, I found reading other people’s running blogs helpful in learning more about running. I would learn how they trained, why they made certain decisions and how they’ve progressed. I find this really encouraging because when you’re just figuring things out for yourself, it’s kind of scary.

I started my blog to add my experiences to the mix, so that maybe some day they will help someone else along in their own running journey.

7. What is your number one goal for this year?

To stop being injured.

I would still love to BQ, but so far that’s not going too well so I was forced to reevaluate. If I end up making it, great. If not, there’s always other years. But I will not get there if I don’t heal up.

8. Tell me about your favorite race medal.

I have two. My first favorite is my 3rd place Age Group medal from the 2013 Drumheller Half Marathon. I had never officially placed in running before (or since), and it wasn’t that small of a field so I’m quite proud of it.

Image

My second is the Austin Half Marathon medal because it’s huge and has Willy Nelson on it, which I think is rad.

(source)

9. What motivates you to get outside and train on cold/snowy/rainy days?

The satisfaction I get out of slaying a run against all odds. It makes me feel bad ass, like I can conquer anything.

Image

this is what happens when you run in -30C (oof)

this is what happens when you run in -30C (oof)

10. What is your most memorable run?

It’s a tossup between my first marathon (Portland, 2011) and the 2013 Vancouver Marathon.

Running my first full was an incredible experience. It was new ground for me, going way beyond what I ever thought was possible for me to achieve. It changed my life.

The moment I crossed the finish line, and was hooked on the full forever.

The moment I crossed the finish line, and was hooked on the full forever.

Then last years Vancouver Marathon was as close to a perfect race as I’ve experienced. The weather was great, fueling went perfectly, my playlist was on point, mentally I was in a great place the whole run, and I PR’d by about 20 minutes. I couldn’t have asked for much more! My lovely boyfriend biked the course and met me in several places, and his family cheered me on at the finish. My heart fills with joy thinking about that day.

:)

🙂

 

So that’s it! That was fun. Thanks Leana!

So I nominate:

Striding Mom

Sprouts n Squats

Solana Leigh

Running with Rhyno

Yuri in a Hurry

Read.Bake.Run.Repeat

Swift Fox

And my questions for you are….

1) Would you rather carry water/electrolytes during a race or use what’s on course? Why?

2) What kind of shoes do you wear? Have you followed any shoe fads (ie minimalism, maximalism, toe shoes)?

3) Do you run with a GPS watch? What kind?

4) Who would be your dream running partner?

5) Does your significant other run (if you have one)? If you don’t have one, would that be a necessary requirement?

6) What is your most embarrassing running mishap?

7) If you could go anywhere in the world for a run (doesn’t have to be a race), where would you go? Post a picture.

8) What do you think about when you run?

9) Do you have any weird habits or superstitions when it comes to running/racing?

10) If you’re starting to slump in a race or run, what do you tell yourself to get you to push through?

Thanks guys! And if anyone else wants to answer these, leave your responses in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is one piece of gear you own (not shoe or technology related) that you wear all the time? – See more at: http://www.runnerleana.com/#sthash.vkqYUgl4.dpuf
  • What is one piece of gear you own (not shoe or technology related) that you wear all the time?
  • Do you wear different shoes for different workouts, or do you wear the same shoes all the time?
  • What is your favourite post workout snack?
  • Do you listen to music when you run?  Why or why not?
  • Do you prefer to run in a loop or run an out and back?
  • Why do you blog?
  • What is your number one goal for this year?
  • Tell me about your favourite race medal.
  • What motivates you to get outside and train on cold/snowy/rainy days?
  • What is your most memorable run?

– See more at: http://www.runnerleana.com/#sthash.vkqYUgl4.dpuf

  • What is one piece of gear you own (not shoe or technology related) that you wear all the time?
  • Do you wear different shoes for different workouts, or do you wear the same shoes all the time?
  • What is your favourite post workout snack?
  • Do you listen to music when you run?  Why or why not?
  • Do you prefer to run in a loop or run an out and back?
  • Why do you blog?
  • What is your number one goal for this year?
  • Tell me about your favourite race medal.
  • What motivates you to get outside and train on cold/snowy/rainy days?
  • What is your most memorable run?

– See more at: http://www.runnerleana.com/#sthash.vkqYUgl4.dpuf

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