Crossing the Line

Everyone loves crossing the Finish Line.  It is the culmination of weeks (months) of committing to training and fueling for a specific event.  The Finish Line is our goal, and crossing it is all that matters. ‘

1000..jpgA few days ago I crossed the Finish Line at the Fundy Circuit Ultra Trail Run 50k.  The miracle wasn’t that I crossed the Finish Line; The miracle was that I was able to make it to the Start Line.   Training didn’t go according to plan because … Life.  It was a combination of things.. .. an outbreak of shingles, food poisoning, sprained toe, Dad’s health/surgery, and a dozen other little things.

By the time September rolled around, my longest run since the May marathon was 25km.  I figured I had one more opportunity for a long run before Tapering.  Wrong!  My Abs suddenly became very angry and I couldn’t even roll over in bed.  A trip to my PT revealed tight hip flexors.  PT is very supportive of my Running and she suggested several exercises (mostly variations of Kegals) and told me to keep running but to keep my runs Short and Flat for several days.  Short and Flat?  But how do you train for a trail ultra by running short and flat?  But I did as she recommended and by the time Race Day rolled around I was feeling good physically, though not very confidant about my ability to run a 50 trail run.

Surrounded my elite runners at the Start Line, I knew that I would never compete with them for Finish Time. Heck, I might not even Finish and I was ok with that.  I was happy just be there and have the opportunity to see how far I could go.  There were several registrants who didn’t even make it to the Start line. I can only assume that they were faced with obstacles that they just couldn’t overcome.

My race goals were

  1. Finish in less than 10 hours.
  2. Finish, uninjured
  3. Make it as far as I can before humbly bowing out
  4. No Ugly Crying in Public

I was thrilled to finish DFL.  ( Dead Fucking Last) with a time of slightly less than 9 hours, 45 minutes.  How cool is that?

It wasn’t so cool that I didn’t achieve my goal of No Ugly Crying. 22007711_10210499062455559_7344499634051432495_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Calamity June

June was a Recovery Month for me after completing the Ottawa Marathon on May 28.   The plan was to allow my body to recover by doing short easy runs for 26 days. My Run Streak is still a thing, so Not Running was never an option.

It was easy to stick to the Recovery Plan for the first week. . After all, I had just struggled  through the marathon, followed immediately by a couple of days of illness. ( food poisoning, heat stroke… I don’t know?)  After a week I was feeling good and was tempted to start running longer and faster, but the forces of the universe stepped in to make sure that I stayed disciplined and stuck to my Recovery Plan.

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It started with an unexplained itch  and then a painful rash on my back.  Doctor confirmed my suspicion that I had Shingles.  The medication cleared it up quickly but I was fatigued for a couple of weeks.  The pain went away but I was left with an extreme sensitivity to Cold. I couldn’t tolerate any air movement on my arm or shoulder, even on a hot day. When you run, even slowly.. you create  air movement.  Fortunately that only lasted 4 or 5 days.

Ten days after beginning treatment for Shingles I was well on my way to Recovery and was feeling only mild discomfort so again I thought about increasing my Speed and / or Distance. Once again karma had other plans.  I suffered a little injury by accidentally hyper flexing my big toe. Okay, it wasn’t very minor and it hurt like a sumbitch.  Yes, I ran on it because that is what Run Streakers do but for several days I only did the minimum daily requirement. ( in my case that means 2k)

The toe eventually started to feel better but then the recurring corn on the same foot decided to rear it’s ugly head.  Despite aggressive treatment it never completely goes away.  Once in  awhile it flares up for a few days and it quite painful.  And hey, that is just the way my month has been going. July has to be better, right?

20170627_204324It is no surprise to realize that June was the lowest mileage month for a long time.  Total distance was 70 miles. (113km) This breaks my 8 month 100-mile streak but I am ok with that. On a positive note I did run my fastest mile ever in June, finally breaking the 9:00 minute mile.  Previous best was 9:02, current best is 8:59. Hey, I didn’t say it was  a big victory.

Rest time is over.  I have this little 50k trail race coming up in exactly 83 days. I think I am ready mentally and physically to embrace this challenge.  Ready or not, here I come.

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Ottawa Marathon Training / Week 15

You  might remember that I took a break from Training last week. This week I am back at it, focused and determined to be the best that I can be on Race Day. As always I am recording my daily progress here, to keep me accountable.

Monday : Planned Cross Training – 45 minutes. ( my choice of modes.)

Actual :  Okay, this is my first day back after taking one week off .  I admit my mindset is not where it needs to be.  It was easy to convince myself that yesterday’s 2 hour snowshoe trek was enough to count for two days.  Some days I am so weak.  I did run 5k though.

Tuesday : Planned Cardio : Stair Climber . Warm up 5 minutes easy. 4 x 3 minutes high intensity with 3 minute recovery. Cool down 8 minutes .  /   Planned : Core strength (CxWorx – 30 minutes)

Actual :  I’m back!  Focused and ready to kill this workout.  The Stair Climber presented a problem.  I am a member at Goodlife Fitness and there are 2 locations near me. Only one of them has a Stair Climber and it was not the one where I was meeting a friend for our usual Tuesday night CxWorx.   I considered postponing that specific workout but then decided to use the elliptical. It has an adjustable ramp and I think that it engages the same muscles as the stair climber. Whew!  What a workout!  Afterwards I did the CxWorx session.   I missed it last week because of the snowstorms.  Good workout. My abs are sore.

20170223_151236.jpgWednesday – Planned 10 easy running

Actual : It’s a beautiful day and I had a great running partner.  We giggled and laughed as we jumped over puddles and sloshed through slush.

Thursday – Planned Cross Training Cycling / 12 minute warm up easy cycling / One leg cycling, 4 @ 1 minute intense cycling with 1 minute recovery, each leg / 5 x 1 minute @ 90 RPM, 1 minute @ 100 RPM./ 5 x 1 minute easy, 1 minute high gear / 3 miles fast / 12 minutes cool down.                                                                                                                      

Actual: Until recently I haven’t had much experience with the stationary bike. Wow. this was intense.  It is the longest that I have ever stayed on a bike, for sure. I didn’t complete the 12 minute cool down, cut it short at 8 minutes.  My butt was killing me!

Friday – 12 km easy running / CxWorx core conditioning

Actual :  The CxWorx happened as planned but I spontaneously signed up for a 10k event for Saturday (Rest Day) so skipped the run. Well, actually I did 6k and that’s almost the same as skipping it, right?

Saturday – Rest

Actual: As mentioned above I signed up for  a 10k event.  It wasn’t a race, just a community fundraiser that was billed as a Walk but we were given permission to run the route.  My running partner is directionally challenged ( like me! ) and we took the wrong turn not once, not twice, but three times.  As we approached the finish line, our distance was 11.75 km so we did the logical thing and ran around the block again.  Longest 10k ever!

20170223_151409.jpgSunday – Strength Training

Actual :Didn’t happen.  Sundays seem to be a tough day for me as work and family commitments seem to get in the way. Maybe Sundays should be a day of Rest for me?   Not to worry, it will be easy to fit this workout in next week on one of my Easy Running Days.

Summary: My body appreciated the break last week. It took me a couple of days to get back in the game mentally but I feel good about this week.  Tired, but good.

 

Treadmills Runs are Runs too.

This is the 9th week of my Marathon Training program and as I review the last few weeks I see one recurring theme.  My workouts are being compromised by the weather.   The weather is not a surprise. I live on the East Coast of Canada after all.  The only thing predictable about Winter is the unpredictability of the weather.

I should backtrack here and remind you that I am a Run Streaker.  Today marks the 773rd consecutive day that I have run at least one mile.  Within that streak is another streak, a streak within a streak you might say.  Until yesterday I ran 495 days outdoors regardless of weather.  There is something exhilarating  about running in a blizzard and I have embraced the Bad Assery of running in cold, heat, rain, wind, ice, etc. Sure I have done some training runs on  a treadmill ( like maybe two) but always got outdoors for a one mile run  too. Until yesterday.

Yesterday’s Training Plan called for   a 10k Tempo run.  The streets are slushy/greasy/slippery.  There was no way that I could do a Tempo run safely or efficiently.  My options were to

  • take my training indoors .
  • reschedule
  • cancel the workout

c12_-kaxuaivhmkI decided to take my training indoors.  I run occasionally on a treadmill but it has been several months since my last session. To my surprise I loved it.   My treadmill tempo pace was slower than my outdoor tempo pace but it felt like the same effort and I worked up a good sweat.  I did cut my run short because I didn’t want to overdo it my first time. ( I did 7 instead of 10k,  my longest treadmill run to date)

I was glad that I chose to run indoors.  Currently I am reading “Run Like A Champion” by Alan Culpepper.  I doubt if I will ever BE a champion but there are a lot of insights in the book that have been helpful.   Culpepper speaks of the Flow of your training and how important it is to stick with your plan to maintain Flow. ( while still balancing other aspects of your life. ) The eye opener for me was when he spoke of the Weather . It is his belief that your training plan should be challenging enough  that you don’t need to be fighting the weather as well. And he is right!  For the last couple of weeks I have been fighting the weather. It has been getting tiresome running in the relentless wind and my hips are getting sore from shuffling through slush and snow.

It was a mental struggle for me to ditch my outdoor run in favor of the treadmill.   For over a year I have done my running outdoors and am proud of the mental strength that allowed me to accomplish that.  My Run Streak is still intact at 773 days but my outdoor Streak is over.  It was the sensible thing to do, and I ended it on my terms.

Last night when I left the gym it was a lovely evening with the stars shining brightly and mild temperature and I just stood there for a few moments enjoying it. It was one of the nicest evenings that we have had for awhile and I was tempted to go for a one mile run to enjoy it.    Then I looked down at the ankle deep muddy slush and got in in the car and drove home.

The End.

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful, so I’ll learn to love the Treadmill

Yesterday was like a Snow Globe.  Big fluffy flakes of snow floating gently down to gather on the ground.  Underfoot conditions were a bit tricky but I managed to run a very slow 6km.  The snow was pretty and the run  was slow.

Today the temperature  dropped to -15C with a Real Feel of -36C. Yikes!  It is weather like this that separates the Streakers from the Regular Runners. And it is weather like this that is playing havoc with my marathon training plan. It is not even officially Winter yet and already the weather has forced me to alter my Plan several times.

This is not my first winter for running but it is my first winter for Training and I am beginning to realize that there is a big difference.  I have a feeling that I am going to learn to love a Treadmill.   Run safely, my friends.    ddd

Getting Better Every Day

A couple of night ago I went out for a run.  Nothing extraordinary about that… I have gone for a run every day for the last 744 days. On this particular evening the moon was full, the air was frosty , all was calm, all was bright. I planned to gently run 2 or 4 k but I ended up doing 5k ……just because I could!

While I was running I started thinking about how far I have come on this running journey.  Three years ago I couldn’t run 5km.  Two years ago I could run 5k but it was it took a lot of effort.  Today I laced up my shoes and easily ran 5km without even thinking about it.

One of my goals for 2017 is to be able to do a Pull Up. Some of my work colleagues and I are doing a Push Up / Plank / Pull Up Challenge for the month of December.  I am doing okay with the Push Ups and Planks but I can’t do a Pull Up.  I do assisted Pull Ups at the gym four or five times a week but am not even close to pulling up my whole body weight.  When I bemoaned this fact to one of my coworkers and lamented that I would NEVER be able to do it, he offered some very encouraging words.  He reminded me of when it was impossible to run 5k but now it is as easy as rolling over in bed. And he is right! Persistence and consistency is the key to getting better every day.  I WILL persist. I WILL work hard and I WILL be able to do a Pull Up in 2017.

It is written . Let it be so.

 

A Marathon is a Journey

Last week I found out that a friend is also running the Ottawa Marathon in May 2107.  We trained for a Half Marathon last year and then ran it together. It was a fantastic bonding experience.   When we realized that we were both registered for the Ottawa Marathon, we briefly thought about training for and running this race together and then decided not to, and this is why. A  Marathon is a very personal journey.  We agreed to do some training runs together but we can know that we can not share the same journey.

This will be my second Marathon and the journey is different for me this time.   When I trained for my first marathon my  goal was to just Finish Strong.  It was a very dark time in my life and I skipped  / adjusted / compromised a lot of the workouts, but managed to follow the golden rule of Never Miss A Long Run.

For my first marathon the running  was more like therapy than training.  Running through grief is a Thing and the training provided an outlet for my tears. I truly believe that there is a reason for everything.  If I had known how crazy my summer was going to be, I never would have committed to training for such a long distance. In hindsight I realize that the training saved my sanity.  It allowed me to step away from my daily life and provided me with some “me” time to work through my thoughts and emotions.

If you have been following my blog you will know that I lost my brother suddenly to a workplace accident in May.  There were weeks of Not Knowing what happened as Worksafe Canada was not forthcoming with details, and rumors were plentiful.  We still do not have an “official” cause of death but we do know what happened and we have found peace because steps have already been taken to ensure that it does not happen to someone else.

My mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness on the very day that Roger died and we had to deal with a Double Whammy of grief.  It was time consuming and mentally draining, but it was a blessing to fulfil her wish to die at home.  She died three months after Roger and through all this I ran.  In her final week the only time that I left her bedside was to go for my run. It gave me peace and it allowed me to be strong for her. She passed peacefully three weeks before my marathon and I did one final Long Run on the day after her funeral and then started tapering.

This marathon training is different. The first time it was  a coping mechanism that made me stronger mentally and emotionally.    This time I am doing very specific training runs designed to make me stronger and faster physically.  I don’t know what the next 5 months will bring but I am embracing this journey.  One day at a time, one step at a time, right?

 

I carried these two photos on my fuel belt for the PEI marathon.  They still come along for my Long Runs, and are always carried in my heart.

Happy Trails, y’all. !