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.

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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.

Good Decisions.

This week my good to bad decision ratio was slightly more intelligent.

Monday I was tired from skiing and running on the weekend, so I opted for an upper body strength workout at lunch that disabled me from effectively taking off my shirt for several days after.

Tuesday brought some morning hill sprints and physio afterwards. There are several decent sized hills nearby so I thought I’d try out a hill “loop” of sorts. The hill was about 400m, followed by a nice downhill and some flat ground before looping back to the start of the hill. After a warm up I did this 4x.

hill

top word says “DOWN”…

Wednesday I was still a bit sore from physio, so I did a slow 3 miles in the morning, and a REAL slow and crappy 5 miles after work in the cold, blowing snow. None of the sidewalks or pathways had been cleared yet and I was sliding around. My shins and calves hated me, and I told myself NO MORE RUNNING ON SNOWY PATHWAYS. Which probably means no running outside until May.

Thursday I decided to put myself on a strict indoor running diet until the snow disappears or my legs feel better (whatever comes first). Wanting to get some cardio in, I convinced Jamie to join me in aqua jogging (I insist on calling it this over ‘water running’ because it amuses me) to take the pressure of my shins. It was a surprising amount of fun! We were just two old bitties getting an impact-free workout in.

Probably looking something like this (source)

Now that I’ve done the initial pool workout aqua jogging doesn’t seem as daunting anymore, and I plan on getting more pool miles in.

Friday I had big plans of doing a treadmill tempo run followed by some more aqua jogging. But after running some errands after work and driving my mom home (because I won’t let her drive her standard car with a cast on), I was feeling rushed and running totally behind and logistically could not make it happen. Oh well. I did some strength that day, so not all is lost.

Saturday I spent most of the morning feeling sorry for myself. My shins ached in weird, new places but with less intensity, and it was sunny but cold out. All I wanted was to feel strong again and have an enjoyable run. Was that too much to ask? So around midday Dan and I ran a couple errands and I realized that it was in fact, NOT that cold out. I figured I would throw caution to the wind and give this running thing a try, even for a short one. I taped the shit out of my legs, put on some near-new Mizuno Wave Riders a friend gave me to try out* and figured I would start running and just see how it felt.

The first half mile felt a bit rusty and I took it really slow. I had no desire to push myself. Then my pace kept dropping. I wasn’t running hard, it actually felt as though I was running veeeerrrry slow, but I was pain-free so I just kept going! I charged through downtown, loving every minute of it. It was a true, transdimensional space goat run and lasted 14 whole miles at ~9:00-9:10/mile, which is A-FREAKIN-MAZING considering the pace I have been running at, how I’ve been feeling, and how little perceived effort I was putting into the run.

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stoooooooked

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Then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, just outside of my house a couple guys carrying flats of beer GAVE me not one, but TWO beers! For free! Day = made.

*I already own a decent selection of shoes, but since I haven’t been able to comfortably run in any of them I’m incrementally going upwards in cushioning until I find what works for me (even if that means Hokas, but I don’t think I’m there yet) so… THANK YOU LINDSAY!

Sunday my legs felt decent and for the better part of the day I felt really ambitious, thinking that later on I would complete my tempo run/aqua jog workout that I missed on Friday. When 4pm rolled around (I worked until 5), I was extremely hungry and completely exhausted so I opted for joining some friends at the Palomino for football-watching and meat-eating and helped my mom with some chores. I would’ve liked to get it in, but considering how beat I was it probably wouldn’t have been the best idea to push it.

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ribs and brisket and potato mash and salad and fries and corn fritters and honey butter and…

I ended the week with the poor decision of staying up late working on a design project, and only getting ~4 hours of sleep before Monday morning. YAY!

But then back in smart decision land, this week I joined the Canadian Running Bloggers group on Facebook. Now, typically anything that involves Facebook is not a good idea, but through joining this group I connected with a bunch of very friendly, like-minded folks. So if you’re on the ‘book, live in Canada, have a blog or just like reading them I urge you to check it out! And to the new inter-pals I’ve met on there so far, thanks for joining me in my little corner of the internet! I look forward to checking out your blogs, and I hope to meet some of you in person at some future races 🙂

Bad decisions: 2

Good decisions: 5

I would also like to give a little shout out to my dear friend Mandy who had a beautiful baby girl on Friday! She’s going to be the best mom! ❤ Can’t wait to see you two.

 

Let’s all just chill the F out here for a minute.

As a stubborn Type-A with a penchant for overdoing some things, it’s hard for me to take some unplanned time off even when it’s for my own good. But every once in a while something comes along that allows me to break schedule and only freak out mildly. This happened on Tuesday when the words “potential stress fracture” were uttered to me. Ahhhh shit.

Monday was a rest day. I had a sore throat, which freaked me out. But after some rest it went away and by Tuesday I was back to normal-ish.

Tuesday I had planned to run before my 8:30am physio appointment, but since I was feeling a bit under the weather I decided to be smart and get some extra sleep. I figured that if by chance I felt better (sickness and leg-wise) after work I would go. Apparently I forgot how brutal physio can be, and this was much worse than getting my hipped worked on last summer.

First she poked around and freaked me out by uttering the words “stress fracture” since the pain in my shins is so localized. But since the spot is more on the muscle than the bone, she figured to treat me for a couple sessions before sending me for a bone scan. She used the ultrasound machine on my shins, and since that caused no pain my PT was more confident I was fracture-free.

There. That's what hurts.

There. That’s what hurts.

Then we boiled my legs.

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And then she cupped my shins to loosen up the muscles prior to the IMS (aka needling). Which felt not bad.

And then went at it with the needles. On the top of my legs it hurt and felt some “grabbing” of the needle. But nothing could have prepared me for the flip-flopping feeling the needling produced in my calves. It was intense. So much that she had to hold down my legs to prevent them from twitching. Gross.

(I found an IMS video that I thought I would post, but watching it made me want to barf so I won’t force you to do the same. Unless you want to)

After 10 minutes of the electrode machine I was sent on my way with an appointment booked for next week. Walking was painful, but driving to work (in a standard) was worse. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the calves. No running tonight. Just some online shopping and hip flexor massages courtesy of Ashes the cat.

ashy massage

Followed by a warm cat lap compress.

Wednesdsay my calves still felt pretty tight and I felt pressure in the front of my shin, so I opted for another day of non-running and instead had a 30 min elliptical session with some easy legs (focusing on lower leg and hip stabilizers) and core. I iced pretty religiously all evening.

photo 1

What is this godforsaken contraption?

Thursday I rocked compression socks and ice packs at work.

photo(28)

Thursday also marked the opening day of Lululemon’s Seawheeze Half Marathon registration. For about a year, Jamie, Chelsea and I had our sights set on this race as their first half marathon so we were obviously pretty excited about it. And, when 10:00am PST rolled around, we jumped on the seawheeze site to register. Along with what seems to be the majority of people doing the same, we weren’t able to because the website could not handle the amount of people trying to access it, and is down until further notice. Obviously we were annoyed that this put a hiccup in our plans, and we still don’t know if we’ll be able to get a spot. But the massive twitter outrage sparked by this…. ok guys seriously (look up #seawheeze on twitter if you’re curious). We all obviously want to run this, but let’s take a step back down to reality. Yes, it’s a big goal for most people, and yes, it’s a great time part of a fun weekend. But is it really worth freaking the fuck out about something you have no control over? I’m sure Lululemon is doing the best they can with what they’ve got, same as the rest of us. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to reserve my energy and emotions for something that will have a bit more bearing on my life. It’s not life or death here people. It’s just a race. Take a deep breath, come up with a plan B, and maybe next time don’t have so much riding on one single event. It’s all going to be ok.

[/endrant]

Friday found out that Seawheeze registration will reopen Monday, Feb 3, but over 80% are still open so we stand a chance at getting in. I did some strength intervals at lunch. Purely Twins have some great quick workouts to do at home or the gym (depending on equipment available), and they also provide loads of food food advice!

That evening Jamie, Chelsea and I had big plans to go to the gym, but ended up eating burritos, drinking beer and playing board games instead.

Saturday I went up to Sunshine with my mom to ski around on my own while she was in a ski lesson. It was a beautiful day.

2014-01-25 10.42.09 2014-01-25 10.41.45 2014-01-25 10.41.37

The day got a bit more exciting than anticipated when my mom had a fall and twisted her ankle. Thinking it was a sprain but wanting to be sure, we went to the hospital in Banff to get it checked out. It wasn’t a sprain, but instead a talus fracture.

Since X-Rays will only show so much, she needs a CT scan to determine how far the fracture extends into the bone (which is today). Hopefully it’s minor!

Sunday I managed to get out for a 8 mile run. I played around with some KT Tape and taped my shins for the first time, and success! I definitely didn’t feel as much pressure and the muscles in my lower legs felt as though they were firing correctly again.

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Moral of the week? Sometimes things happen that we can’t anticipate, and usually these things are pretty inconvenient. I generally believe that when these inconveniences happen you have three options:

1) Make a change.

2) Remove yourself from the situation.

3) Accept it.

Notice how bitching and moaning isn’t an option? That’s because it doesn’t solve anything and just annoys everyone around you. Now take a deep breath. It’s all going to be ok!

Fifty/Eighty

Last week started off with zero shin pain. ZERO. For that I’d like to thank skiing and my 1400s. Unfortunately that didn’t last, but that whole situation seems to be getting better and I’m finally taking a bit more action in fixing it, including a physio appointment this week. Ain’t nobody got no time for shin pain.

Monday was a rest day and thank god for that, because it polar vortex-ed outside (cold, snowy, windy). I hung out at the office all day, compression socks on for good measure, just anxious to run. This is a good sign. If your brain isn’t into it, your body will have a real tough time following.

Tuesday the polar vortex turned into a chinook and I had a fantastic 7.5mile/12km run after work. Relatively painless and back in the low 9:00/mile pace that I like to keep my easy runs at. I ran in my Adios but found that the stiff forefoot wasn’t too friendly on my shins, but my achilles was behaving (thanks high ramp angle).

Wednesday morning all the snow that melted had turned into ice and made for a treacherous and slow run, with some niggling shin pain (again, sigh) despite switching back to my 1400s. At one point I fell hard onto my ass. It would’ve been funny if there was anyone around watching. That night I convinced Dan to join me on a short 5km run. He wasn’t amused by the puddles and ice. My shins didn’t feel too bad while I ran, but when I would stop for a light or if I had to walk across some ice, they would seize right up. I spent the rest of the evening with ice packs tucked into knee high socks, eating pasta and watching Futurama.

Thursday‘s tempo run (5.5 miles total) was an improvement on last week. I ran it on the treadmill at the same pace (~8:00/m) but it felt much less deathly. But a lot more sweaty. I tried for a 3 mile recovery run in the evening, but my shins were back being sore and due to the thaw/freeze cycle that’s been happening every day here it was ridiculously icy. So I made it 2.5 miles. Meh!

sweaty

Attractive. I know.

Friday‘s run was pretty uneventful. Just over 5 miles just under 10/mile (still navigating around ice). Use salt on your sidewalks, people!

Saturday I ran a beautiful sunny and warm 20k with some friends, avg 9:27 pace. Then that afternoon some friends and I had High Tea at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel for Jamie’s birthday! It was delicious and fun.

photo 2

Sunday I ran just under 7 miles at 9:24/mile which felt incredibly slow. Afterwards I went for a much needed massage. Shane, my massage guy, worked on my glutes, lower back, and informed me that the source of my shin pain is my soleus. Getting them massaged made me want to cry. He also showed me how to relieve my back and hip tightness through massaging my own hip flexors. He was great. If you’re in Calgary, go check out Leela Eco Spa. Awesome yoga classes (I’ve been going there for a while) and apparently great massages too.

photo 1

Pre-massage bathroom picture because I like this shirt and I’m in a good mood.

So this marks the completion of my very first 50 mile/80km week, officially the most weekly mileage I have ever done! I’m pretty happy with this little milestone. I have one week left in the “base building” phase of my training and I’m hoping to get in about 55 miles, but I’ll survive if it’s less than that.

I had a physio appointment today to see what can be done for my shins/soleus (details next post). If that doesn’t help, I’m buying some freakin’ Hokas.

Running and Holidays and stuff.

Happy New Year everyone!I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, or at the very least survived.

Mine were good. For the first time in several years I did not leave the city and it was great. Traveling during the holidays can be stressful, so it was nice to stay put and focus on my family, my boyfriend and get caught up in running.

The "chocolate shelf" in my fridge. There is also a cookie shelf.

The “chocolate shelf” in my fridge. There is also a cookie shelf.

I’m currently still base building phase of my training program, and taking nearly two weeks off due to illness put me behind in my mileage so I decided to extend this phase a bit to make up for it. Luckily I had some time off of work over the holidays so I took advantage of the opportunity of running in the daylight.

photo 2

I’m up to ~40 miles (~65km) a week at the moment, and my legs are definitely feeling it. This is what my peak mileage has been in previous training cycles, and I’m still aiming to add another 20 miles onto it. My appetite has skyrocketed and will not leave me alone. Last weekend I would’ve done terrible things for food, especially carbs. Luckily my fridge is still full of holiday treats so crisis was adverted. I have to get used to carrying more food with me too work so I don’t end up gnawing on a coworkers arm or something equally as regrettable (like eating leftover chicken from a company lunch, which may or may not have happened).

Post Xmas lights still up make me happy.

Post Xmas lights still up make me happy.

Although when it's -30C I do this instead.

Although when it’s -30C I do this instead.

I’ve had some shin/ankle/Achilles pain that is causing me to worry, but I am hoping that I nailed down the issue(s):

1) It’s been snowing quite a bit and while many pathways and sidewalks are clear, a lot are just snowy enough that you slide around a bit more than normal putting strain on my ankles, calves and knees.

2) Because it’s been snowing a lot, I’ve been wearing my Saucony Trail Kinvaras. I’m pretty adapt to running in the road Kinvaras, but the trail version has much less cushioning making it more of a trail version of the A5 (racing flat) than a Kinvara (the Peregrin is a more accurate trail version of the Kinvara, but we don’t sell them at the running store I work at). I had hoped that gradually building up my mileage in the TKs would allow me to adapt to the lighter shoe, but alas, I think I have not. Shin pain is typically indicative of inadequate cushioning in the shoe (for that particular person), so I decided to suck it up and buy something different for my >10k runs. I went with the Adidas Kanadia 5. They have more too them without being too bulky and heavy, and at $114 the price point is pretty good.

Dear shoes. Please save my legs!

Dear shoes, please save my legs

I tried out the Kanadias on the weekend, and although my pace was, uh, conservative, my legs felt much less fatigued come rest day. Which is today. I can still feel a bit of a niggle in my left Achilles but I don’t have that same general ache that I had before. I’m curious to see how my body will adapt in the next few weeks. I’m hoping that if I keep consistent in my training, diligent on the injury prehab (rolling, exercises), and well fed I can make some decent improvement.

Another exciting thing to note: last weekend my mom and I went to watch a World Cup Freestyle Ski competition at Canada Olympic Park. For those of you who may not know, I competed in this sport for the better part of my youth/teen years and it still holds a special place in my heart. It was exciting to watch and neat to see how the sport has evolved the past 10.5 years since my “retirement”.

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cold weather = slushy wine

photo 3

I definitely could not have skied this.

So there’s an update for y’all! I’m going to try to be more consistent now that the holidays are over and I have some focus in my running life again, so brace yourself for more tales of winter running and rabid appetites!