Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday Blues

After another horrid round of bronchitis (that is still lingering -- 4 months on! Is this normal?), I thought it would be a pretty sweet idea to train for a Half Ironman. I really needed the cross training so hey, why not, right? Right? Wrong. Here's some reasons why my 70.3 was (and is) a terrible idea:

1. The race is in Syracuse. Syracuse is hilly.
2. The race is in June. Water is cold in June.
3. As a result of #2, I would need to purchase a wetsuit.
4. I have never swam in a wetsuit outside of SCUBA diving.
5. June is not an appropriate time to swim over a mile in a wetsuit for the first time and does not afford me much time to get any practice in whatsoever.
6. I can't run more than 3 miles still without my lungs burning and/or injuries flaring up.
7. I really hate swimming still. Like really hate it.
8. I also suck at biking still.
9. I actually suck at running, biking, and swimming.

See the issue here? Granted, yes, I could probably get into good enough shape to complete a 70.3 in 2014. It likely would not be the Syracuse race and that's fine, but really my biggest issue:

10. I'm not motivated to do a triathlon.

I would love a kick in the pants to start cross training heavily, but that's what my trainer is for. Not to mention that Ottawa is a big tri city and I have no issues with running a local sprint or hell even Olympic distance tri. I commit myself to so many things that adding in "driving up to a lake to practice open water swimming at 6 am" falls reeeeally far down that list. My summers are so jam-packed as it is that if I'm honest with myself, the triathlon is not realistic.

So -- what is realistic? I always love making lists of goals and I always hate reading how horribly I've failed at them. I'm not motivated by hard dates or numbers like some people are, but a good general guideline helps me (and gives me wiggle room). Some general "goals" for 2014:

  • Sleep: My ass can't survive on 6 hours of sleep/night and that's becoming more and more apparent. My current issue is that I'm so used to getting little sleep that I don't break habits, despite promising to every day. This will change in 2014. I do not have time for afternoon naps and to be honest, I just miss out too much on the day and life when all I'm doing is either day-sleeping, or zombie-ing through the day.
  • My Workout Program: I have an awesome personal trainer. He's actually so awesome that I got my husband on board with working out with him too. He creates great workouts for me and I always e-mail him back at the end of the week going, "Weeelll, I had an exam aaaaand I didn't sleep a lot aaaaaaand my tummy kinda hurt sooooo I only did 3 workouts and skipped most of the cardio. Is that cool?". NOT happening anymore. I paid good money for these plans and the only person losing out is me.
  • Planning My Meals: This one has been a bit tough because I do have such a busy life that often my meals are unexpected, unforeseen, or unplanned. It happens. The main problem I'm having right now is planning some great meals with good intentions and then my husband comes home and not only do we eat out the days that he's home, but the food expires in the fridge or on the counter. In order to save money, eat healthier, and not let thing spoil, I'm hoping to plan our meals out for the week. Knowing my life, I will mainly be focusing on good "day food" because I will more or less always be at work, but I'll leave some options open for the evenings. The goal is to use the same ingredients in different dishes.
  • Streaking: My husband and I are planning to take a tropical vacation in February. I've always been intrigued by Runner's World's "run streak" between US Thanksgiving and Christmas (or New Years? Something like that), but I'm realistic with myself knowing that I likely wouldn't be able to do it. The streak entails running 1 mile every day between the two holidays. Since we plan to go to the islands in mid-Feb (16th-ish), I have a plan to "streak" between Jan 1 and that date -- whatever date it is when we book the trip. It will keep me going to the gym and getting workouts in. My bikini body needs it!
  • Yoga: Finally -- yoga. I love yoga and I haven't done enough of it lately. My studio is in a neighbourhood that is really quite far from my workplace and my house, but they are amazing and I need to go more. I have great gear, I plan to buy a great new (and big!) mat, and my husband even notices the difference when I do hot yoga a few days a week. I notice too, and the injuries are far more manageable.
 Finally, I hope to blog all of this.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Race Report: Day Before Mother's Day 3K

If it wasn't for the fact that I shattered my 3K PR, I would be really unhappy right now. I have numerous gripes with today's race -- all of them were logistical.

1. The race kit pick-up was at the most inconvenient time last night (4:30-6:00 pm). There's no reason to have a pick-up literally across town in the middle of traffic. No way was anyone from west of downtown going to make it to that. Instead, we had to show up almost 2 hours before race time to get our kits day-of.

2. The pick-up was at a middle school almost a km from the start line. It was kind of good in that it was a bit of a warm-up to the race but it seemed really disconnected. You crossed the finish line and just sort of had to stand there. The paths were muddy from the rain and the area around the course was way too small for the amount of people there.

3. Don't have 12 year olds working the chip tent. They can't answer questions and after my mom and I picked up our chips after finding them ourselves, some little shit working there took them from us and put them back. We told her that we needed them and she said "Oh... I thought you were done" in a snotty voice. And I said "No, do we need to sign them out?" and she's like "No.. uh.... just go away". WTF!

4. We got crappy-ass finishers medals. The 5K/10K people got nice big flashy ones. We got generic ones about one square inch with a listing of races on the back of it and our race was not even on the list. They wouldn't even give my mom a Mother's Day flower at the end of the race because she hadn't done the 5K or 10K.

5. My chip didn't work. I went to check my results and my name was missing from the list. I knew my time had been 15:29 because I started my Garmin right as I crossed the start line. It read 1.87 miles as I finished (marginally longer than a 3K). They add my name to the list and I get home and my time reads 16:04. That's when it dawned on me that we never crossed start mats for our chips. My mom and I started waaay back because we were doing the smaller race and didn't want to get caught up with the hordes of U14 soccer players. Turns out this cost me 35 seconds on my official time. If I had started with everyone else, I would've been in 4th place OA women. Now I'm showing 15th. Kind of frustrating.

To summarize the good:

The race was on the Rockcliffe Parkway which is always a nice run. It's got a great river view (a little Scottish-like today as everything was wet, sky was grey, and the water was even kind of grey-looking) and it's a relatively flat course. The cold front moving through meant some high winds on the way back which made my second mile around 20 seconds slower than my first split, but it was alright. For the billionth time, I went out way too fast and struggled a little towards the end. My pace was only 4 seconds/mile slower than my PR 5K so I was expecting a bit more from myself given the 3K distance. I'm running another 3K next weekend so I'll try a bit harder there. I'm happy though.. my goal was to break 16:00 and I did that just fine, even if the official results don't agree.

Some pics from the race:

I was running in some pretty serious 80s gear. I completely forgot I had my new purple rain jacket, so I wore a bright neon orange (in real life it's literally pylon-colored) shirt with some blue and highlighter-yellow Lulus. I actually like this pic... it shows how much better my stride is than it used to be thanks to the double ankle bracing, and I've got a stronger kick at the end of the race than usual. This is also the least-embarrassing photo of my hair.

After finishing my race and getting my finisher's medal, I walked along the course until I found mom and jumped in to finish with her. Don't we look related? 

My mom's face cracks me up in this. She came in first in her age group (1 of 1) and told everyone that she was a gold medallist. I think she really liked racing!

So that brings me to my next point... I need to lose some freaking weight. I'm hovering around 164 lbs which is only about 5 lbs heavier than this time last year, but I haven't been keeping up on my cardio like last year, mainly due to the fact I have about 3 simultaneous lower body injuries. It's really not an excuse... I can do things other than run. My muscles are quite a bit stronger than last year due to the workout plan I'm on but I haven't seen the benefits because I haven't been as diligent with my cardio. I'm having a beach wedding shortly and I really want to look as good as I can for that, in addition to being great for race season. Here are my goals for this summer:

1. Lose 10 lbs by July 1. On the Canada Day Road Races, I'd like to weight in at 155 lbs. It's a good racing weight for me and I feel confident.

2. Stick to my training plan. I've made too many excuses... too tired, I've got class, etc. It's only an hour, I can make the time.

3. Add a bit more cardio. I have a solid training plan but I need some longer easy sessions to get the heart/lungs stronger.

4. Hot yoga twice a week. I've been going consistently on Thursdays for the past 3 weeks, but I'd like to add a weekend class or something to the mix.

5. No desserts until Goal 1 is complete and I'm in maintenance mode. It's harsh but I will allow myself some frozen yogurt now-and-then. It's my favourite dessert and I would gladly give up cakes/brownies/muffins for life if I only was allowed fro-yo.

That's it. Very simple, very achievable. I do sometimes get anxious when I think of losing weight because I really don't want to slip into the bad habits of my past, but I know I won't. My husband wouldn't let me and I need too much fuel for my workouts. I'm hoping that, as usual, when the workouts are good, the eating's good, and it continues in a cycle. I will just have to make sure I'm eating to lose a couple pounds and not for maintenance.

'Til next weekend!

- Anne

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Race Report: Manotick Road Races

Today's Race: Manotick Road Races (5K.. or so they say)

PS: Pics to be uploaded when they're posted.

I was super excited to run the Manotick Road Races. It had the makings of a pretty sweet race. It's a relatively flat part of town, it's 10 minutes from my house on a slow day, and the 5K had the odd start time of 10:50 am (the 10K and 18K races started at 8:40 and 8:30, respectively). I had driven by the signs on my alternate drive to work (the route I take when traffic on the Hunt Club Bridge is insane) and kept counting down the days to run a good local race.

Time-wise, I was pretty confident too. Thanks to Stew Smith's personalized program, I was running sub-8:00 miles on the track and ran a 12:04 1.5-miler the other day. I was also avoiding injury despite a twinge now-and-then in my left Achilles and the hip/core work seemed to be going well. I checked last year's results. Despite not copping to be a race cherry-picker, I do analyze the field from the previous years in the hopes of seeing how I would potentially place. Ever since my first-place finish last year, I've been eager to taste sweet victory in at least my age group. With my goal of running a sub-26:00 race, I would have landed at around 2nd AG last year. I knew this year's field was bigger but I was optimistic. 

Depending on race location and date, either my husband or my dad comes to the race with me. There's a strategy behind this: Kevin keeps me calm, is really supportive, and I can actually feel he's proud of me when he sees me run. With Dad, well... Dad doesn't give a rat's ass how I do. I kind of like that too. Dad is a physicist and refuses to spend a penny on anything. He sleeps on a second-hand Salvation Army bed from the 1970s. His frugality really limits our activities together and I usually have to con him into going somewhere before he goes and admits he enjoyed it. Even when he admits he enjoys something, it's not obvious he's admitting to anything, or enjoying anything. In last year's Canada Day Road Races, I found him reading a book on the Theory of Relativity on a knoll 50 ft from the finish line. He had no idea I had finished, but he happily sat and watched my purse and let me do some cooldown stretches before heading out. Local races have become our thing... he likes seeing me run as it was a pastime from his childhood in Scotland and he's usually willing to go because it's free. On Sunady mornings, however, he visits an elderly family member and, due to the late start time of the race today, he couldn't make it with me. So that left me with mom... within a few minutes of picking her up I was yelling "for F*CKS sake!" because she was shouting that I missed a parking spot and told me to rush to get it. I was already tense. Mom is a good cheerleader but she is a very stressful person to be around and, combined with the cup of coffee I had just downed, the knot in my stomach was getting bigger.

At around 10:40 am, they called us all to the narrow start line. My iPod Nano (4th gen) tragically died in an Iced Tea accident in my purse last week, so I had to make do with my iPod touch. I have a supreme hatred for touchscreen devices. They are not made for runners (as the dismal failure of the Garmin touchscreen GPS watches will attest to). I made a quick race playlist and jammed the clunky device in my Lululemon crops. I wasn't sure whether or not to wear shorts as the thermometer was already hitting 20C and climbing, but my lack of hot yoga and true endurance cardio in the past few months has left me a little more self-conscious about my legs than I'd like to admit to (this will change!). I thought about taking the iPod out and pausing the tunes for a few minutes since it didn't seem like the gun was going to go off anytime soon, but the gaggle of pre-teen girls in soccer uniforms singing Taylor Swift songs made me reconsider. The second song on my playlist, "Hallelujah" by Paramore, had just finished playing as the gun finally went off and I started running to "Last Train Home" by LostProphets. 

The first mile started out just fine. I caught a glimpse of my watch that flashed "7:06" as my pace and put the reigns on my legs. I settled into a solid 8:10-8:30 pace. It wasn't a sub-25:00 pace (my goal for this season) but it was enough to potentially get me a PR for this race. The race was well-marked and my watch read 0.62 as the 1KM sign flashed by. I was optimistic as I hit the 2KM mark at 1.2 miles on my watch. "Finally," I thought, "a race that's properly measured". At 3KM, I generally hit some sort of wall. Today's race was no different, though I noted that I hadn't hit the 9:00-min mile pace on my watch yet so even though I was feeling tired, my "slow pace" has noticeably gotten faster. I gave myself a bit of a boost when I was 2.4 mile on my watch and told myself I only had about 3 laps of a track to run before I was done. 

This is when it all fell apart. My watch creeped closer and closer to 3 miles and I kept winding my way through local roads, with no finish line in sight. I had pumped my legs like a maniac to try and finish on a high note and realized that not only was I now exhausted, but I still didn't know where the finish line was, and there was a (relatively) large hill looming directly ahead. My watch now read 3.2 miles and I was just starting the climb. I'm used to races not being exactly 3.10 miles and I try not to rely on the Garmin too much. With such a curvy race and weaving in and out, I don't expect to run 3.1 miles on the dot, but having gone 0.1 miles past that and still quite far from the end, I started to get disheartened. My watch ticked by 27:00. My goal for the race was gone, as was my goal to place. I had been mentally keeping track of women who looked like they were 20-29 and saw the 3rd person jog by me right around that 3.2 mark. I slowed to a walk near the top of the hill where I noticed parked cars. A good sign. We were near the finish line. My watch was up to 3.3 miles now.... by the time I crossed the finish line, it was at 3.4 miles on the dot. 

I thoroughly believe that the 5K is the hardest distance to run. It's the "beginner" distance, but those beginners usually move on to 10K, half marathons, or even full marathons. Very few people stick around at the 5K and try to get faster. 5Ks toe the line between sprint and paced run; between middle and long distance. It's difficult to settle in for the long haul in a 5K, because by the time I've "settled" (usually around a mile in), I'm a third done. You really give the end your all in a 5K because those few seconds make a big difference when you don't have that many minutes or seconds to play with in the first place. I felt like today I gave it my all, and instead I was met with a course that was a third of a mile too long (adding on a solid 3:00 to my time) and a hill. My intuition was right... I was 20 seconds away from a Top 3 finish. I'm pleased with my overall result (4 of 39 in the age group), but I'm disappointed with the race overall. I think the fact that I did train, I did race smart, and I did give it my all, and lost out due to things beyond my knowledge or control just made me a bit disheartened.

I have my sights set on one local race (Carp) next week or, if I can convince him and give him huge puppy eyes and lots of kisses, I'd like to go down to Washington DC with my husband and run in one of the 5Ks in the Dulles area. I always seem to do better at "away" events. 

I did, however, get some cute stuff from Lululemon after the race. And I have made it my goal to take yoga/cardio a bit more seriously... I'm embarrassed with my body's shape (not necessarily my fitness, though). Onward and upwards.... just no more hills, please!

29:35 or 8:42 per mile
4/39 Age Group
59/261 Gender
136/418 Overall

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tom Scott Race Report and Injury Update

It's been a little while! A few things to get to today...

Tom Scott Road Races

I went over to Scotland last week to visit the family and run in the Tom Scott Road Race. My uncle is the race director and had mentioned last February that I should come and race. Given my fortunate ability to fly internationally for not a lot of money, I took a look at the flights for around April 7 and decided that I should go for it.

I sort of had an idea that races in Scotland were different. Looking at 2012's results, it was obvious that I was not going to be in the top 20% (where I normally hover in North American races). The age groups are different and people race for clubs, not for themselves. You can kind of tell by looking at this picture:

Racing is a serious thing over there and there doesn't really seem to be a thing called a "fun run". Anyway, I was glad I registered for the less-competitive 6K for both the fact that the guy who came in last place in the 10 mile race was averaging an 11:00 mile (think about it, this guy was running at around 5.5 mph and came in last), and my knee started to give me a hard time after 3 miles anyway.

After staying at the Holiday Inn Express right next to Strathclyde Park in Motherwell (where the race was being held), my husband and I headed over to get registered. Turns out my uncle had recruited most of my family to work at the registration desk so I got a nice visit in with my cousins while prepping for the race start. I was cold and miserable pretty much the whole time in Scotland, so I was bundled up despite the 8C temperatures, and made the mistake of wearing a purple UA t-shirt, my bright Lululemon long sleeve shirt and a new jacket to the race. Some guy from the Motherwell club said that I'd be boiling... he was right. Around a mile in, I was already dying of the heat. You can tell in pictures that I tried to unzip my jacket, but failed miserably when I realized that my race number was pinned to the jacket.

My uncle had advised me that the course was "flat" and I didn't have to worry about hills. Well, this is the same uncle who says "It never rains in Scotland" and 10 miles is "not far". The first 2 miles were admittedly pretty flat and the views around the loch were pretty. I was very grateful to not be running in the rain. However, after 2 miles, the path winded in all sorts of directions, including up (luckily it also went down at some points). I was already exhausted with the heat, so the hills didn't help. I've decided that whenever I get back to running, hill training will be required.

While I had been passing people for the first two miles and holding a steady 8:30-8:45 pace, it dropped off dramatically towards the finish and I struggled to hold a sub-10:00 pace for the remainder of the race. Luckily I broke out of the trees and hills enough to see that I was getting close to the end (and more importantly, that the rest of the course was flat) and I did a little sprint towards the finish line.

Never thought I'd be that warm in a Scottish race

All in all, I was pleased with my overall time of 34:31. It was slightly less on my GPS watch (I think there was an issue with the chip timing - I didn't see a mat at the start of the race). Turns out I came in 2 of 6 in the FSNR category. I don't know what it stands for other than the F is female. I didn't get a prize, though. Overall, I was 12 of 28 women and 37 of 63 runners. I was expecting a lot worse so I'm pleased with my result. And check out that pretty stride!


Injury Report

Well, if you can't tell by the three (yes, three) braces I'm wearing in the race photo, I've got a lot of work to do injury-wise. My trainer kind of chewed me out for not doing non-impact stuff but the truth is, I really wanted to not suck at this race. Now that it's over, I'm a little bit more accepting of the fact that I need to tone down the running and turn up the cross-training/strengthening. I'm okay with that -- any exercise is good. I still want to sneak in some runs on the weekends, whether it be a race or not (to keep the competitive fires burning), but it's going to be 90% cross training at the moment. My left Achilles still gets "twinge"y even when just biking or doing elliptical, which kind of sucks. Right now I'm just focusing on strengthening, starting a new non-impact plan through my trainer, and getting ready for summer where I can hopefully run. Given that we're getting 20 cm of snow on Friday, I guess I'm not really missing out on the outdoor running.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Brace Yourself

I'm running out of clever post titles.

After a few weeks of grappling with the fact that my running season may be over with this knee injury, I had an epiphany. I've always sort of wondered why my left knee had bothered me, but my right one didn't. My right IT band has always been tighter than the left, and I had so many peroneal tendon injuries on the right side that it just seemed that if I was going to have knee pain, it would be in that knee. Thinking back to my crappy 5 miler a couple of Mondays ago, I remember looking down at my left foot and seeing just how crooked it was (you can see this in a photo I posted a little while back too). My right foot would strike the ground at almost a perfectly straight heading. Yes, my knees do cave in and I've got the knock-knee thing going, but the foot issue seemed a bit unrelated. Why does my left foot hit the ground at this weird angle? Then it hit me... the brace. I've been running with a $50 6-year-old brace on my right ankle for years now. It was originally due to the torn peroneal tendon, but I've come to rely on it (I know, this is a big no-no in sports but I can't help it). I had just bought a new brace while picking up a knee brace at Kinemedics in Ottawa, so I had a second ankle brace floating around. It's old and ratty, but it still worked.

So this weekend I went to Washington DC to escape the cold and try a run. I strapped my right ankle brace on, then my left knee brace, then my new left ankle brace, and I took a bigass long breath and prayed for a miracle. Well, that miracle lasted an entire 4 miles. I had mapped out a nice 2 mile loop near our hotel and figured that if I got pain, at the very least it would be a short(ish) walk. I managed to do it twice (I'm glad I mapped the loop regardless... I had to make a pit stop before my second loop!). It felt amazing... there were hills, sidewalks, trails, curbs... all sorts of things that would make my knee cringe. And I did it... pretty much pain free until the last 5 min (and even then, it was a twinge, not a pain).

Today I'm facing a different type of pain. For me, it's waking up to find that you've ballooned up about 2 dress sizes. You're busting out of your bra and you feel bloated all over. This started a couple of weeks ago but I guess my body finally caught up to the fact that I had cut back on so many workouts. I actually obsessively took pregnancy tests cause the big boobs and bloating seemed to come out of nowhere (women, you have permission to hate me: when I gain weight, the first place it goes is my boobs... and that's the last place I lose the weight). Now, I finally have the ability to run again, but I'm in a crappy place physically. The burning in my throat is still there on some of my cardio sessions. I've felt so busy and have had such a hard time scheduling workouts that I keep missing things I'd like to do. I know I want to avoid being in the past, but I wish I had the same discipline as last year... I wish I had the motivation. I think a lot of it has to do with the weather up here. This winter has dragged on longer than expected and I just want the heat to be turned on. I think once it's sunny and I can get out and suck in some warm, non-gym air, things will improve. Luckily I managed to keep a 9:00-9:30 pace with the injured leg(s) and on a very hilly route this weekend, so the Scotland race isn't going to be a huge write-off, but I do wish that I had discovered this sooner so I could've prepared better. Oh well, will just make my race in 2014 all the more impressive.

My TWO best friends... 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Shoes and a New Sport

I went out for a 5 mile run on Monday night to try to get back in the groove. It was warm out for March (around 7°C) and I was so exhausted that I was hoping some fresh air would wake me up. My iPod has been injured for a little while, so I was pleased when I got it working without any static for my run. I got really inspired running to Selah's I Turn to You and felt like I was really starting to get on a roll. I kept up a sub-9:00 mile pace for the first 3 miles. Then everything hit the fan... the light ache in my knee turned into a world of hurt. My Achilles in my left ankle started screaming at me too. I limped home (doing my very pace to maintain a 4+ mph pace). Somehow after walking for over 2 miles, I still ended the session with an average pace of 11:30. My knee always gave me problems in the past, but it was on long (6+ mile) runs and as long as I kept my runs to a shorter distance, I never had an issue. This whole experience made me reconsider. 
My new best friends?

On advice from a fellow blogger  , I bought a pair of Saucony Guide 5s, men's 10.5. While tying them up in the store, I had my doubts... they felt a little weird. It was only when I stood up and started trotting around the store that I was convinced to buy them. They felt light as air, especially compared to my Rides that currently have clunky orthotics in them. I'm a little worried about the toe box being too small, but Sauconys are definitely the best for width in that department. I guess my first run will tell. I plan to take them to the gym tonight for a short 1 mile warm-up and cool-down for a strength session. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, my injured self has been on a bit of a running diet. With Monday's run solidifying that things needed to change, I started focusing on strengthening my leg muscles (especially the non-running ones) and aiming to do a few more hot yoga classes. I made my way to spin class last night dreading the burning in my throat that I got last time. That problem was fixed pretty quickly. I realized that my resistance wheel thing had gotten stuck during my last spin. When I thought I had turned my resistance all the way down, it was still around 3 full rotations on. So when the instructor had everyone increase their resistance, my bike was a full 3 turns ahead. Spinning with the right resistance was ten times easier. It turns out that the burning in my throat was due to me working out too hard, but I had no idea just how hard it was. Thankfully, the class was manageable, I felt good, and I just bought a 30-class membership to my new cross-training activity. Hopefully if I combine it with hot yoga this summer I'll be in a nice position to do well.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Spinning Out

I'd been having something of a mental breakdown for the past few days which was really a reflection of the past few weeks/months. Aside from a fitness kick in Dominican Republic, I really haven't had much in the way of training since I came down a really crappy flu back in December. To be honest, I haven't felt like my normal fit self since last August, when I came crashing like the Kool-Aid man through a wall.

After sleeping lots and lots this weekend (and I mean lots), I decided it was time to drag my butt to the gym for a solid workout. That solid workout turned out to be an hour-long spin class of death. I'd gone spinning years ago when I lived in Toronto and it was always a decent workout, but when I moved back to Ottawa, I could never find the right class for me. I went to a place in Ottawa called Inner Soul after seeing that it was the only place in the city with a Sunday evening spin class. It started off well enough. The bikes had digital monitors which was a good feature (I started spinning in the stone age of spin technology, I guess). Things started to go downhill the minute we started going uphill. The music was pumping, the disco ball was turning, and I was feeling good… until I got the burning. It felt as if I’d swallowed a tube of Bengay. I was gasping for air and trying desperately to figure out where the burning was coming from. I know I have been getting over a cold for the past few weeks, but I wasn’t sure if this was even in my airway. This has happened to me twice in the past week and both times have been around 2 hours after I ate and then did vigorous exercise. I have a very slow digestion time… a lot of people can run/work out 1-2 hrs after eating. I need usually at least 3, if not more. I’m trying to figure out if this was exercise-induced heartburn, or if it is a respiratory thing. I’m really hoping it’s the former because I think I’d just punch someone in the face at this point if I had to be sidelined from exercise again.

Tonight is Day 2 of Week 1 of my Stew Smith workout plan. I’ve been doing this workout plan for the past 4 months and I’m still on Week 1. That’s how terrible my training has been going. Oh well, one day at a time…

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dallas Form Follows Fitness 5K Recap

The Dallas FFF 5K was a spur-of-the-moment decision for me. I had run two races this winter (both in not-so-great times) and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to run, but my husband was down in the DFW area for an appointment on a weekend and EWR-DFW loads were very, very good. It also helped that we had just gone through a cold snap in Ottawa and I was ready to get out of the frozen tundra. My original plan was to run the Cowtown 5K. Unfortunately for me, online registration closed on the Wednesday (when I hadn’t decided if I was going or not) and there was no race-day reg. The only time I could register would’ve been on Friday evening. I arrived at midnight on Friday night/Sat morning, so it was the FFF 5K for me. As a matter of interest, I dropped my 5K results from the FFF 5K into the Cowtown results and found out I would’ve placed 11 of 183 in my age group.

The weekend started out promising. I got on a flight from Ottawa to Newark that was supposed to have no seats on it and still managed to score the exit row. I had packed half-thinking I wasn’t going to make it but I’m glad I threw my running gear in there. There had been weather all over the place and every flight from Ottawa to Washington and Chicago had been cancelled, so I’m surprised I made it on a plane at all. I was a bit panicked once I got on the Newark flight, but some Red Mango tart frozen yogurt at the airport helped that! Man, I love fro yo. I got into DFW around 12:30 am, stopped at Whataburger, checked into the Sheraton downtown with the hubby, and passed the f--- out! I’d been having trouble sleeping all week and I was stressed that the ~5 hrs of sleep pre-race coupled with all the insomnia was going to wreak havoc on my race (not to mention my stomach had been sketchy all night and Whataburger wasn’t going to help).

I woke up, grabbed a coffee, and headed to the race. Note to self: Make SURE you have cash before going to a race-day reg! I tried pulling cash out from an ATM at the airport when I landed and when I was at the hotel, but both were out of service. I ended up having to run all over downtown trying to find an ATM. All the office buildings are closed at 8 am on a Saturday so I was grateful that there was a Chase ATM just around the corner from the race. I literally had just enough time to pay, stick on my number, and go.

I started middle of the pack since it was chip-timed and I didn’t really care where I was positionally. Apparently a lot of people had this mentality… there were way too many walkers ahead of me and I spent the first mile dodging people left, right, and centre. I think this took a bit off my time, which is a shame. I settled into a good pace (around 8:30) and appreciated a nice downhill section after the first mile. At around 1.6 miles I started to realize that my time was on PR pace and I had strong legs.

Running strong at around mile 2

I had a good pace going towards the end of the second mile, but saw a hill (which was more of an on/off ramp) ahead and tried to slow down my pace. I saw a ton of people sprinting up this hill and I thought to myself “man, they’re going to be tired”. Turns out they were just smart and looked at the course map before running the race. The finish line was literally RIGHT after this hill. I only realized this when I rounded the crest and saw some pylons funnelling everyone into the finish line chute.
Some more evidence of my really messed-up stride.

I gave it my all when I saw the clock ticking towards 27:00. I completely forgot the race was chip-timed and got an extra 30 seconds on top of that. I finished in around 26:50 clock time, and had an official chip PR of 26:22. I managed to come in 6th in my age group (of 43) and 50th women overall of 450.

This was right before I ran into the photog. Who stands in the middle of the finishing chute??!

Props to my husband for sitting in the cold for a half hour waiting for me. It was a very chilly morning and not what I expected for Texas (it hovered around freezing). I’m glad I had my gloves. Speaking of clothes, isn't my Lululemon getup adorable? I got ribbed tremendously for wearing my bright neon orange jacket to work, but it did a great job of keeping me warm, yet cool in the right spots, during the race.

$40 entry fees should always mean free beer

The race felt really good and, if I had known the hill was near the finish line, I would’ve gotten a few extra seconds. Combine that with the slowpokes up front slowing me down for the first mile and I think I would’ve been well into the 25:00 range. I also ran on no sleep, had Whataburger the night before and just a coffee morning-of, and I hadn’t been training too hard since I had dealt with the bronch/injuries right up until February. It really is mental! Sub-25:00, here I come!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And she comes crawling back...

So I came back to this blog yesterday because I somehow managed to catch a cold around the same time I had bronchitis last year, and I wanted to see how slow my progress was back then. Believe it or not, how I was feeling March 5, 2012 was almost exactly how I felt March 4, 2013. After a bit of convincing from my husband, I decided to come back and blog again. He's promised me the readership of at least one (him), so I guess that's good enough -- though I have so many injury that I'm sure I'll be a great hit for all those Google searches. So to recap my race season so far:

I PR'ed in the Dallas Form Follows Fitness 5K on February 22! Yay! Race blog will be posted tonight/tomorrow.

Everything else has been shit, shit, shit. Well, that's not true... I managed to do a few nice sub-8:00 miles and I'm pretty sure I held a 7:45 pace in the 5K for a bit (before they made us run up an on-ramp in the final quarter mile stretch... WHO DOES THAT?!), but these injuries have got me going ballistic.

I noticed after a nice long illness/bronchitis spell at Christmas/New Years that my foot got numb when I ran. I noticed this even more with a pair of new shoes (I am attempting to "recreate the magic" I felt with my original Saucony Rides... so far the men's Ride 5 is a lesser equal). I was running in the women's version - which has a small toe box - and my foot just went straight-up numb. Couple this with the fact I was running on a 300m indoor track at my university and I felt like crap... the constant turning aggravated my knee injuries. I went sulking home with a numb foot and a busted knee.

I got back into things a little more and kept running with my too-worn Rides. I'm having a different type of buyer's remorse.... not buying enough! Should've bought the store out of those shoes when I had the chance. Anyway... the numbness issue continued, but to a lesser degree, so I kept the runs going. I know that I have the "sweet spot" of 6 miles before my left knee starts to give me shit, so I decided to finally do something about it. My wonky race pics didn't help. I might be flying like the wind, but I look like I'm taking fartleking to a whole new level:

WTF is wrong with my leg??!?

See how my knee caves inwards?

And there goes the ankle kicking out...

Yes, that picture was on ... My husband always says he never worries about me picking up guys at the gym because I'm just really not that hot when I workout. I think I have to agree.

Basically, my biomechanics are f***ed. You can even notice on the above photo that the left foot that is on the ground has a weird angle to it... instead of my toes pointing straight forward, they're almost turned to a 350-degree heading.

I finally picked up the orthotics that are at least supposed to help with part of this last week. I did my first "run" with them tonight but my feet were soooo sore. I kept getting pain on the outside of my foot. I'm not sure if it's because they're not broken in, my foot is just used to no support, or what... but I really hope it goes away.

On top of that, the numbness is coming back and I got diagnosed with Morton's Neuroma in that foot, so now I'm on the hunt for a shoe with a bigger toe box to stop the pinching.
On top of that, I'm hesitant to go for a neutral shoe (was going to try the Saucony Kinvara). I am somewhat considering a stability shoe and ditching the orthotics.
On top of that, my gait is so screwy that I'm doing two physio sessions a week to try to correct all this wonkiness.
And on top of aaaallll that, I need to lose 15 lbs in the next 2 months to be at my goal race weight for the summer (150 lbs).

Phew. There's a lot of nonsense going on and a lot of decisions to make. I don't even want to begin thinking about the amount of money I spend on running. Between races, shoes that may or may not fit, orthotics, physio, Lululemon.... Oh dear.

So here's my plan:

1. Keep going to physio.
2. Research physio places in Ottawa that might specialize in runners. I want to walk into an office and go "Fix me!" and they hook me up to a ton of machines, make me run, make me fast, etc.
3. Research shoes and get some opinions on stability vs. neutral. Neutral accommodates orthotics... stability might be nice to run in without orthotics, but in years past they gave me nasty-ass blisters.
4. Get my food shiz together and get a proper workout plan in place by next week (this cold is still lingering). Thankfully I have some great workouts provided to me on a weekly basis so I have the framework, I just need to not get sick or injured for once!
5. Get a new iPod.

Umm, I think that's it?

Oh and I should start getting more sleep. So that's what I will do! I will do my best to blog the Dallas race tomorrow!

Good to be back! Lots of thoughts from tonight's run and I'm glad I can get them down somewhere again. Sorry if this one sounded so frazzled... to document every injury/thought/plan from the past year-ish into one blog was hard.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

This is Gonna Be Huge

First and foremost, Happy New Year to my 4 subscribers and random readers who accidentally get a twenty-something's blog about running instead of what they were actually searching for.

2012 was a big year for me...
  • I set a new "PR" (23:55 in the "5K" in Manassas.. which was short by 0.3 miles) 
  • And I set a new PR (26:52 in the Canada Day Road Races -- this is the race I'm ACTUALLY counting as my PR).  
  • I got a competitive spark by winning my age group in a race (yes, I actually got 1st.. of SEVEN. Not like 1 of 1...) 
  • And I managed to throw it all out after racing a bit too hard on back to back days on back to back weekends. 
  • My summer ended with me getting a concussion while wakeboarding and spending the following months recuperating, only to be taken down by something else (ITB pain! Knee pain! Kidney infection! 3-week long flu!). 
  • I rediscovered how much I hate swimming after years of competitive swimming and waterpolo 
  • I got a running coach that was, how shall we say, not the right fit
  • And I got the best coach I could hope for... the guy that got me into running and fitness 10 years ago (Stew Smith)!

It was all a very interesting time for me.

Well, time to move on, so here we go... my big goal of 2013:

RUN A SUB-25:00 5K (for real -- no short courses)

2013 has been the year of 2-milers so far. I've done three 2 mile-ish runs this week and they've all been horrible in their own fashion. My first one was not too bad. I'm recovering from a flu that has staying in my throat/chest for the past few weeks and, given my lessons learned with my bronchitis last year, I opted to take it easy. I did 15 min of walking, then a walk/jog combination 'til my 30 min was up (which equaled a little over two miles).

My second run of the year was terrible. I was on my university campus and my class had ended early (I'm taking evening classes to finish my degree). Since I'd paid for parking and I really wanted to check out the Carleton track, I headed over. I got into the women's locker room with my gym bag to discover that I'd forgotten jeans. I practically live in yoga pants and the one day I decided to wear jeans was the day I needed my yoga pants! With the urge to run at peak levels, I headed to the university bookstore and grabbed a pair of Carleton basketball shorts. It was only when I got back to my gym bag that I realized I'd also forgotten socks (and the thermal ones I was wearing with my boots were NOT going to work). I figured my running socks are thin, so running without socks can't be that different -- right? Well... the first mile was okay. By the time I started to work on my second mile, my arches were KILLING me. The blisters that I suffered years ago were back in place on my arches. Owwww! I cut the run short after 2 miles (despite being able to go longer) due to the pain. And you can't push through blister pain.

My run tonight was a little better, and a little worse. I did 20 min of elliptical before heading onto the treadmill. I did my first mile at a comfortable 6.0-6.5 mph pyramid that felt pretty decent cardio-wise. I was determined to run more than 2 miles tonight, so I decided to up the speed to get the run done faster as the blisters were really hurting (even through the bandaids on my feet). I managed a nice 7:55 mile somewhere in there but I was gasping. I don't know if it was the lack of any real cardio in the past month or so, or the leftovers from the flu, or both, but I was puffing and wheezing by my second mile.

It was tonight that I realized that dreaming about sub-25:00 5Ks and winning age groups and all that was all well and good, but it's just that: a dream. I want to be able to do this stuff this year and I know I can, but going "oh yeah, I can run a 7:30 mile right now" and going and doing it are two very different things. I realized that I need to take my health seriously, and that includes easing back into things. Not only did the breathing feel crappy, but my left knee started to hurt 2 miles in... this is something that used to happen about 6 miles into a run. I'm not sure if it was indicative of my loss of protective muscle, or bad form, or both, but in that moment I just felt completed deflated. I get so caught up in my own competitive streaks that I sacrifice the one person I'm trying to please the most: me.

I'm planning to attend hot yoga a bit more this year, especially in the next few weeks. The main reasons are:
1) It won't bug the blisters and give them a chance to heal
2) It won't bug the throat/chest and it'll give that a chance to heal
3) It's a 90 min sweatfast
4) My Greco Yoga prepaid classes are about to expire

Yoga really boosted my fitness last year. I'm hoping that my runs, coupled with Stew's workouts, and some yoga thrown in there will really give me the jolt I need to meet my goals.

Here we go!