Run quietly

Run quietly

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What is Free?

 I have thought more than once (and still think) that no race experience I have had, or medal I have earned is worth the last 5 weeks on crutches. Keep in mind I am a recreational runner, breaking no records and doing nothing notable. Elites have fractures and bad injuries, and yes it is "all part of it" for them. But they are also earning money. And the sacrifice of life that doesn't revolve around running is normal to them. Essentially running is their life. I have said it in previous posts; running is not my entire life. This injury has helped me to see where I can hone in on my priorities even further and make sure that the things that really matter to me and are important are getting the attention they deserve.

What is FREE? This can mean different things to different people depending on their life situation. For a long time running enabled me to feel free, even just for a short period of time. When I started running, it appeared outwardly that I was making all my own choices. Really I was 23 years old, had been living independently or with room mates for 5 years already, and was simply surviving. Hair school was never a "dream" of mine. It was a suggestion from someone that I grasped onto out of desperation. My college diploma that I had obtained while working 32+ hours a week bartending, and sleeping maybe 25 hours total a week was useless. Despite amazing grades and nailed co-op placements, I was getting nowhere with resumes. Desperate to join the "real world" and be rid of bartending forever, I went to hair school. Nearly all my decisions for a long time were based on necessity, desperation and fear.

I am at a point in my life now where I have removed all the people and situations that contributed to my self loathing, fear and lack of self respect. I want to be kinder and gentler with myself. Exhausting and physically hurting myself to a point where it retracts from the things that actually matter- my kids, husband, real life, clients, my own health- is careless and definitely not helping me with my major goals that revolve around self compassion.

I had a solid nutrition plan to heal, but I initially neglected setting up a mental game plan. The lack of movement, sunshine, independence, and not being able to see anything beyond the rows of houses and concrete that is my neighbourhood ate at me quickly.

I started writing more. I have given meditation a poor attempt with the head space app. I am still struggling to see the difference between meditation and trying to falling asleep. I bought myself a DSLR camera, which comes with a steep learning curve for me. I have most importantly noted how great of a life I have created for myself, how it is ok to reach out for help, and how much more I can slow things down when I know what is actually important.

A few things for anyone struggling through a situation they don't have  much control over:

Find an outlet for your thoughts

There are going to be a ton of emotions involved when your situation and abilities are abruptly altered. Blog, start a journal, or write it down to keep or tear up immediately. Whatever you choose, this will help to organize, label, and reign in the emotions and thoughts that are guaranteed to come with your new situation.

Find a new hobby that fits into your limitations at that time

Sitting a lot meant a lot of reading for me. I watched one movie on day 2 of this whole thing and that was enough screen time for me. Also learning about how to use the new camera and testing it out in my home has occupied a lot of time as well.

Reflect on the lessons this situation is presenting to you, and where you can do/be better

There is a fine line here between ripping myself apart (that working on self compassion thing) and really analysing and building new thought processes. This has created A LOT of down time for me. That part I have enjoyed. By being quiet enough to listen, and open enough to be able to assess the current situation, then it is easier to see all the positive and amazing moments that are provided. Doing this objectively without harsh judgement is the hard part for me. As cliché as this sounds, everything really does happen for a reason. The things that evoke the strongest emotions from you in the thick of the injury/setback are the things that require the most attention. Getting to work on those things may feel hard, evoke fear or seem very different from a choice you would have made before. Being comfortable in one spot for too long won't get you very far!

What once was my outlet to feel "free" ended up physically trapping me. But there were so many other important things to see and feel, and I am thankful for that. Who knew you sometimes had to remove something from your life instead of adding for you to feel full? :)

Monday, November 13, 2017

One week down!

So it seems I have 1000 new hours in a day now. And I am not complaining. I spent the first 4 days of this injury off my feet and resting. The 1km walk to the school to get my kids and 1km walk home was the extent of my physical activity. I am fortunate to have a friend of the family walking them in the mornings. The post marathon fatigue set in by Wednesday and that 2km walk with crutches was enough to wipe me right out. 

I anxiously awaited my appointment at the fracture clinic Friday afternoon, where I received an air boot. The bad news that coincided with the air boot is that the Dr. still doesn't want me bearing weight on it. Steve and Sanka- yes the crutches have names- are around a little while longer. 1 month more to be exact. I go back December 8 for an x-ray.

I could be like old Heather and let this news ruin my day. My weekend. My life. But that just isn't fun. And takes so much work. So I have come up with my action plan to get through this as easily and positively as I can.

In order to be able to continue working, I have a styling stool that I purchased from Istyle Professional. This allows me to cut, colour and blow dry hair without having to balance on one leg for hours on end. I literally roll around the floor, propelling myself with my left foot. It is kind of fun.

So I can ensure the bone heals as quickly as possible, all my meals have a purpose to them. Maximizing nutrients is essential. As well as focusing on lots of protein , healthy fats and micronutrients, I have added some supplements to my day. I keep them on the counter to ensure I don't forget! In my rotation is:
Morning: With breakfast I take a 30mg iron supplement that also has B vitamins , a vitamin C supplement to enhance absorption of the iron, as well as 2 drops of vitamin D3 in my breakfast. My iron is chronically low from running. Now that running has been removed, this is a great opportunity to get my levels back up to a normal range. The purpose of the Vitamin D3 is to assist with bone healing; also my time outside has been cut by at least 75% for the time being. So I am not getting my vitamin D3 naturally from the sunshine.
Mid morning: I pop a vitamin K2. I am doing this in hopes that it will help keep the bones I have stronger, as well as make the new bone I have strong!
Lunch: With lunch I take 40mg of elemental iron.
Before bed: Before bed I make a smoothie with 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, a little bit of vanilla coconut yogurt, and 1 scoop of collagen sourced from pasture raised cows. Sounds revolting. I know. But it actually tastes like a creamy vanilla milkshake. Who doesn't like milkshakes!? I can get my mind past the collagen part if it means the bone will have a better chance at forming properly. Collagen plays a vital role in bone formation. And the almond milk gives me another dose of calcium.
Before I go on, I know, I know. I am not a doctor, nutritionist, naturopath, nor do I work in holistic health. I actually passionately hated science class, and am ridiculously incompetent when it comes to math, algebra, biology or any of the other prerequisite courses needed to even enter these fields. BUT, I am fascinated with the impact nutrition has on our moods, mental health, and concentration. It can be used to enhance athletic performance, heal aliments that a medial Dr. would prescribe a pill for, And as you may have guessed, the foods and supplements we choose can be used to promote healing of our bones, tendons and ligaments. Poor choices = longer recovery. Because I am genuinely interested in this subject, I have read extensively about the impact of nutrition over the last 6 years. And I am confident in my choices moving forward. *everyone has unique nutritional needs, and I have tailored this to my specific situation.*
Mobility and strength are not something I am going to ignore or "take a break" from over the coming months. I cannot bear weight on my right foot yet, but that doesn't make it impossible for me to do my best to stay healthy, and minimize the issues I am going to have when I can walk normally again. My right leg, glute and hip are essentially not used. This is going to create strength imbalances to deal with when I can walk again, and I would like to minimize them. Sunday I took to my basement to create my first post marathon workout. I have not recertified myself as a Personal Trainer, but my knowledge is not redundant. I created and completed the following workout:
UPPER BODY- I used 10lb dumbbells for all. Because the air boot is huge, I placed a book under my left foot to ensure my hips were even and not slanted to the left during the workout.
dumbbell shoulder press- 3 sets of 15
dumbbell high row- 3 sets of 15
dumbbell cling and press- 3 sets of 15
dumbbell bicep curl- 3 sets of 15
dumbbell chest fly- 3 sets of 15
dumbbell rear delt row- 3 sets of 15
LOWER BODY- I had to take into account what muscles were getting little to no use. Also I am still struggling to find core exercises that do not require my feet on the ground, and still avoid worsening some abdominal separation that I have lingering from 2 pregnancies.
Side lying leg lift- 3 sets of 15- I only did my right side as the left hip/glute area is already over worked. The air boot provided some added weight.
Donkey kick- 3 sets of 15- Again, I only did the right side.
Leg Extension machine- 3 sets of 15- I started with 20lbs as I don't want to experience any delayed onset muscle soreness right now.  
Russian twist with 10lb weight- 3 sets of 20
Stability ball roll out- 3 sets of 15
I am excited that one week is over, and that the pain level is down to a 0 from 1000. Sleeping is difficult as the boot suddenly turns into a sauna every night between 11pm and 12am, and wakes me up feeling like my entire body is cooking and the fire started on my foot. I cut the toes off the sock to try and get some air flow. I am hoping tonight is better.
Bring it Week 2! Happy Monday :)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Why I am excited that I can't drive, or RUN!?

Ok, so this turned into a blog post, as it was simply way too much for a short FB or IG blurb. Read on if you enjoy irrational decision making, making things harder for yourself, possible delusion, and some cringe worthy choices.
I signed up for the Hamilton marathon about 5 days before the race. I know- WHO DOES THAT? I definitely was not focusing on marathon training at all over the summer. I realised through a couple really good workouts and a quick tally of kilometres put in the bank that I was in pretty good shape, and had run more than I did pre Goodlife Marathon in 2016. I consulted with a couple more experienced marathoners and took the plunge. I felt good, was sleeping well and had zero indication of underlying injury. A stark difference from how I started the Boston Marathon.
Race Day
I felt SO GOOD at the start. Not super nervous. Just ready. Even when it started raining literally sideways, it did not diminish my optimism!
Jonathan and I seconds before the gun went off.... why are we doing this again?

The first 35km went well. Really well! I felt good, the wind and rain was irrelevant, and the downhill portions were plentiful and helpful. I feel like I was capable of a 3:05 and was well on my way there. Until 36km that is. The weird discomfort came on in my right foot. It became worse and worse, discomfort turning into annoyance, into absolute pain. I stopped and tried to re tie my shoe, or rub my foot. Nothing gave relief. Changing my gait gave no relief. By the time I got to my friend Erin around 39km, I was in tears and limp-running. I somewhat recall stopping again and literally punching my foot to try and relieve what I thought was a severe cramp. You will see anything in the last 4km of a marathon. I wonder what all the oncoming racers thought of the limping, crying, crazy lady with tunnel vision towards the finish. Erin was telling me to stop, but I am a stubborn bitch. How can I give up at 39km? I only have 3km to go!

I made it across the line in 3:08:28. That is a minute PB that I fought damn hard for and am proud of.

I know one minute seems miniscule. Totally irrelevant maybe. But running progress is a progression. A series of small improvements made over time. I pile one improvement on top of the next, and then I can raise the bar and try again. This fuels me, gives me drive, and keeps me positive. That one minute was hard earned and I do not regret that I kept going.

Regardless, my mantra was "I can and I will".

I was whisked away by the medics into the medical tent. Oh. my. Goodness. The pain. So much pain. I recall being given chicken broth, glucose tablets, and water. Someone took off my shoe and sock, and I am pretty sure I screamed. Post marathon brain is deceiving, so Erin or my husband may have a better account of the following moments. I do recall not wanting to sit there anymore as I knew the rest of my body would hate me when I tried to move. Everything seized, and I couldn't walk. I earned myself a fancy wheel chair ride to the car, where I nearly cooked my family members to death with how high I blasted and kept the heat on the way home. Marathon #3 in the books.
The Next Day

It was fairly obvious I needed to get an x-ray. Part of me wanted to put it off, because stress fractures do not show up on an x-ray until they begin to heal. So, what is the point? Well good thing I have a good man, and Anthony made me go. And because it is me and I am extreme, it couldn't JUST be a stress fracture. Of course the scan revealed a full blown transverse fracture of my first metatarsal. Well that settles all that then lol.
Important thoughts at this moment- HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET MY PANTS OFF!?
As I had zero indication that something was going on with my foot prior to the race, my only theory is this....... I dropped a bosu on my right foot about 1.5 months ago. It hurt quite a bit, but has not bothered me at all since. Maybe I did some minor damage and totally aggravated it with all the pavement pounding in the race? I truly don't know. I do know I will skip the fancy core work next time and just stick with what is already on the floor :/
Apparently the bosu weighs about 14lbs
The Silver Lining
I am oddly not upset at all. If this happened to Heather of 3 years ago, I would have been super devastated. I am more excited for the next few months and what they will bring. When big things happen, it is because big changes are coming. And I am ready! A change in focus, and some forced rest is not a bad thing for someone like me.
As it is my right foot, I am not allowed to drive at the moment and have a soft cast on until Friday, where I hopefully receive an air cast. Getting around the house is tough with the crutches. But like every other part of my life that has changed unexpectedly, I will adapt, grow and deal. I will come back to running with better focus, more balance, and a well rested body. Things in my life that require more attention will be bumped to the forefront. New goals and thought processes will emerge. That all sounds wonderful to me. And something great to look forward to and keep me going.
I also found out yesterday that there was some finish line confusion, and I placed third female in the marathon! Now that is some good news to go out with. A PB and a podium finish. Too bad I was in the medical tent and missed that part. lol 
In the mean time, rest, reading, learning, and planning the epic make up experience I will have to provide my husband. He has been nothing short of amazing when I truly deserve no sympathy, as I have done this to myself. HA! The luxury of having one thing removed from my already erratic mind is a welcome feeling.  Onwards!
Thanks for reading. :)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Summer races- Let's get dirty

After Boston, I really wanted to hit up the trails. On the trails, it is all about effort. No course is the same. Conditions can vary, and speed is still important. But what will make or break your race if you're out there to compete, is your willingness to endure. There are hills, and then there are mountains. When I race on the road, I don't walk. Even in Boston, I never walked. In trail racing, the strategy needs to change drastically if you want to make it to the end of a longer trail race. Try and run all the hills and you will surely suffer. I needed the change of scenery, pace, strategy, and challenge after training for Boston.
My trail race season started with the 5 Peaks Rattlesnake Point 12.7km on June 9, 2017. It was HOT. I don't remember exactly how hot, but upwards of 30 degrees. The main point in attending this race was because my four year old daughter wanted to race the3km. She tackled it, completed it, and kept a great attitude the entire time. I was totally impressed! I had done very little in the way of training since the middle of May, so I went in with a mindset of enjoy the trails and have a good time.
Results: 1:06:50, second place female - I DIED hard in the heat and she passed me with about 2km to go, looking super strong. I had nothing in me to try and catch her.
The cuteness! One of my all time favourite pics. She took off right after she told me, "Mommy, I just love this challenge." Notice she even "had" to wear a GPS watch. Photo by Sue Sitki Photo
Between this race and my next trail race, I spontaneously raced the Toronto Waterfront 10km on June 17, 2017. I was seriously lacking road racing confidence after Boston and going into this race. I told myself I just want sub 40 min. If I at least still have that in me, then I can do this. Whatever "this" is, I'm still not sure. But this race laid out some confidence and pride in myself that I had been lacking.
Results: 39:53, 18/4748 females, 4th in age group. I raced hard and I was proud of myself at the finish for squeaking just under my time limit. I worked for it, that's for sure!
My next trail race was the Limberlost Challenge 14km on July 8, 2017. I was originally registered for the 28km. But I still couldn't stomach training for anything long after Boston, so I dropped down. It was another hot day, so I really don't regret dropping in distance! This race was SO MUDDY. As in some parts un-runnable, glad my shoes were tied tight because I would have lost them, kind of  muddy. My trail weakness got me again in this race, the technical downhill. I held first until the last 2km or so when a woman flew past me on a downhill, as I danced down gingerly. I finished just under a minute behind her in second place. If there was a bit more flat at the end, I like to think I may have been able to catch her. ;) Either way, it was awesome watching her fly. I'm so envious of those skills!
Results: 1:22:09, second place female, first in age group.
So. Much. Mud.

My next race was the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon. I had been eyeing this race for a while. Given it was one week after Limberlost and a few days after we got back from a mini get away to Manitoulin Island, I didn't know how I would feel. My kids and husband were down for the 4am wake up for the drive to Blue Mountain, but I still felt bad about it. I told myself that I at least had to try and podium, given all they had done for me. I signed up the night before. The Blue mountains looked menacing as I stood at the start line. We were told it was muddy and to have fun. About 2km in, I over-strided, and my foot just kept going in the mud. I fell forwards into an awkward front fall. My XACT Nutrition bars went flying out of my bra, and my knee kinked out of place momentarily. Ugh. I had to walk for a few minutes as many racers passed me and kindly asked if I was ok. I "walked it off", and began running up the mountain again and told myself that if the pain became debilitating, that I would pull out. I got lucky on this day, and the fall, walking or even the MASSIVE hills that I had to power walk/hike up did not stop me. I had so much fun in this race, and other than the walking after I fell, can say that I pushed hard the whole time, as best as I could on that day. Celebrations were easy that day, as my family and I enjoyed the village after the race.
Results: 2:04:25, first place female.
 Plastered smile the whole race. Well maybe except for that never ending gravel hill about 6km in. I retired the Saucony Peregrines in this pic right after this race. 1000's of km, The Wild Bruce Chase, and a few podiums later, they have had a good run. Even thought they were encrusted with mud inside out, and had probably not been totally dry for quite some time, I was sad to put them away!

I thought that the Blue Mountain race would prepare me for my next running adventure, the Squamish50 23km. Well it turns out what Collingwood Ontario considers a mountain is really just a small hill! I was registered initially for the 50km,but I still couldn't commit or get my act together to train for a longer race, so I dropped down again. I am thankful I did, as I don't think I would have had the energy to see all the amazing things Squamish had to offer if I was recovering from a mountain 50km. This race was humbling. In the best way. My crazy fear/inability to run a technical downhill really showed here. Every time I tried to be brave and just go for it on the downhill (as I had watched at least 15 racers pass me do well), I either rolled my ankle (not badly though!), or literally fell right onto my ass. Better than my face I suppose. Jumping over bear scat at more than one point in the race was especially terrifying. BEARS FREQUENT HERE!!!! That will make you run the flats faster. At the finish, you get a high five from Gary Robbins himself! That made for an epic finish!
Results: 2:26:54, 5th woman overall.
Photo by Brian McCurdy

Mountain dirt leg tan!

My last 2 races were Chase the Coyote 25km, and Run for the Toad 25km. I raced them a week apart, with reduced mileage and no speed work in between races. I have been coaching myself since resuming some sort of training in early July, and I know I can handle back to back races. Since these races came after Squamish, my perception of hills has changed drastically. While both have a plethora of hills, most are runnable; with the exception of the monster hill at the end of the 12.5km Toad loop. I always walk that one.
Chase the Coyote Results: 2:10:46, third female overall
Run for the Toad Results: 1:57:23, second female overall

To put how much harder Squamish was into perspective, notice how I raced 2km longer at the Coyote, but finished 16 minutes faster than in Squamish. Or how about the 28 minutes faster with 2 extra kilometres at the Toad. No wonder a lot of Canada's best and most competitive trail racers are from beautiful British Columbia.

All in, I have had a fabulous summer racing season after a not so fabulous first few races of the year. I am thankful that I  have been able to continuously run and still be able to enjoy the summer with my kids; without the burnout and exhaustion that I felt training for Boston. I may still randomly sign up for another race or two before the year is over. I will run because I love it, do one workout a week MAX if I feel like it, and compete on a whim, as that seems to have worked for me all summer. Less pressure on myself that way, and more balanced life all around.

Thanks to my husband and children for happily tagging along and sometimes even racing themselves even if it meant very early mornings. Knowing I have my kids waiting and watching for me at the finish line makes it hard not to always try my best. Thank you to Saucony Canada for the support, inspiration and opportunities that enable all that I do. And thanks to my Longboat teammates for always cheering me on! Having support to do what I love makes all the difference! When I surround myself with positive energy and let myself dream a bit bigger than before, all the fun stuff begins!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Explore Ontario Series- Post 1- Rattlesnake Point Camping

Summer is OVER! And with the end of summer comes the end of our summer adventures. I decided long ago that the all inclusive resort type vacation was just not my thing. All my summer plans revolved around views, lakes, trails and forests. This summer was my favorite to date. We have so many beautiful places that are close to home and relatively inexpensive. I had a lot of questions about where we went, and what we did. So I want to share those places with you, and maybe you can start planning your 2018 adventures! I will explore each experience in a separate post, each covering our itinerary, experiences and any other small details that I think are relevant.

We left the day after school let out and headed to Rattlesnake Point in Milton, Ontario for some long weekend camping. Don't become scared off by the name, there are no Rattlesnakes at Rattlesnake Point. Ontario has just one species of venomous snake and it is the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake which is mainly found along the Eastern side of Georgian Bay and on the Bruce Peninsula. Although I have heard accounts of them being seen much farther South as well..... we only saw a Garter snake on this trip!


Rattlesnake Point is not an Ontario Park, it is a conservation area. The camping fee is slightly higher at $50 per night for the smaller sites. Let me say before I go on that "smaller" still means HUGE in comparison to an Ontario Park site. So unless you are going with another family, a "smaller" site is well equipped to handle an 8 person tent, picnic table, dining tent, fire pit and still leave room for the kids to play, or even another tent or two. We stayed at campsite #18. A medium site is $115
a night and a large is $175. One thing I am happy I didn't have to find out upon arrival is that the "lower" level campsites are WAY better than the "upper" level. The "upper" level sites are essentially camping in a massive field. There is no privacy. Whereas the "lower" level sites are your own little area, privacy isn't an issue. Due to my severe introvert ways, the "hey, where are you from?!" camping conversation with your neighbours isn't one that I am interested in having. ;)

How much profanity does it take to set up a campsite? ;)
On day one, we went for a hike on the Nassagawaya Canyon Trail. This trail can take you all the way to Crawford Lake if you continue to follow it, but we stopped at the Buffalo Crag Lookout point. The views are great and the kids love to spot the Turkey Vultures soaring past. They loved them so much that whenever we see one anywhere they point and exclaim, "look! Our friends!" The panoramic view of the escarpment is especially amazing in late October when all the green has been replaced by a blanket of oranges, reds and yellows.

N loves to climb. Rocks, rock walls, trees, and giant hills. And I tend to not be a "be careful" mom. If it is dangerous, of course I would step in. If it looks precarious, I will try it first. But when he wants to explore, I encourage him and enjoy watching as he builds confidence, problem solves, uses his senses to guide him and builds his gross motor skills at the same time. At the other end of the park, there is a rock face that has a few caves, crevices and stair like parts to it that he enjoys exploring and checking out. C on the other hand is still a bit small and will do what she can, but N is definitely more into it.

Day 2, I went for a run first thing. I just love the trails in the Halton Parks. They are well maintained and not overgrown, unlike some of the trails around my home. There are no bags of dog poo hanging on trees, and I never see any off leash animals. The people in the area seem to actually respect the trails, themselves, others, and their animals. It is about a 14km loop to Crawford Lake and back. The farther into the middle you get, the more technical it becomes with some decent hills, rocky parts and roots to mind. I fell a few times, but that is part of the trail running fun. :) My Saucony Peregrines held up well. I also used them when hiking with the kids. The views from the escarpment upon returning are always welcoming, and worth stopping for. I had never been to Crawford Lake, so after checking it out before returning to Rattlesnake Point, I knew I had to bring the kids back over!  
The first thing they noticed along the Hide and Seek Trail were the massive wooden carvings.

Of course they requested a picture with all of them that they were able to make into a seat of some sort. This trail is short and takes you to a board walk that wraps around the lake.

True to the ways of summer 2017, a torrential downpour came out of nowhere and had us racing back to the campsite, as we had left the tent windows open. Rookie move! Geeze. The great thing about being not too far from everything when camping in Milton is being able to wait out the rain at a local Tim Hortons rather than sitting in the tent or the car.

Night 2 was filled with more campfires, ball in the bucket games, running through the adjacent forest our site was lucky to have and just being thankful the sun came back out! Everything can't always be perfect, ESPECIALLY when camping. I love how going with the flow is mandatory in attempting a camping trip with children. A great lesson for adults and the kids.

If you're looking for a good "starter" camping experience, I think Rattlesnake Point is awesome! If your children are the type that can create their own adventure, do not need to be constantly "entertained" or "set up" with activities and enjoy hiking and exploring the outdoors, then this is a great family camping spot. Alternatively, if you are the type that enjoys camping with other families, then the larger sites would be perfect for that, and there is an abundance of room for all the children to play together. We didn't make it there on this trip, but Kelso Conservation Area is a ten minute drive down the road and they have a small beach area where you can swim and rent boats.

I always take one last shot from the escarpment before we leave. Rattlesnake Point is definitely one of my favourites! Make sure you check it out, even just for a day trip.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Squamish Love

On my recent trip to Squamish, BC, I decided that I REALLY need to get back to writing. I love it. It organizes my thoughts, and makes it easier for me to identify what I am feeling. Part of my previous hesitation with it was who cares what I write? Now I don't even care who cares! I am going to write because I like it, and write about whatever comes to my mind, and if someone doesn't like it, well they can close the tab. Or tell their pals who much they didn't like it, which may in turn have more people reading it anyway. ;)

Now that I have that out of the way, I am going to start with HOW MUCH I LOVED SQUAMISH! I have been to Vancouver twice. And even though Squamish is only about an hour North of Vancouver, there is no comparison in my mind.

In the last year I have been stringent about who and what kind of energy I will allow in my life. I have created distance from anyone or anything who prefers it if I stay small or wants to blame their insecurities on me. As a direct result I have been able to begin to reveal an innate capacity to live on my own terms. I refuse to walk on egg shells for people and I refuse to fuel anyone's ego. And I am not sorry. In fact, I have never been happier, and every aspect of my life has had a positive up turn because of this.

It would have been hard to imagine my 8 year ago self climbing mountains and travelling to the places that call me now. I had been doing the "all inclusive" or the places that "everyone loved". I always came home wondering why I felt worse. Not understanding that comfort, consumerism, busy-ness, mass crowds, big city life and shopping were the last things on this planet that I truly craved. My favourite destinations this year have made me dirty, tired, sore, uncomfortable and hungry for more. Squamish was no exception.

I knew that upon return to Ontario, I need to make some changes. First, write more. A lot more. About any and all the things I want. Unapologetically. I will continue to focus intensely on the things that are important to me. This is how they will continue to grow and flourish. Lastly, because I have removed a lot of negativity and distraction, I have become more aware of the things that are calling me. I can recognize what I am actually going to enjoy, rather than what is just going to keep me "busy".  I am not really great at this yet, but I have definitely made improvements!

On the flight home from Squamish, I knew I couldn't be too disappointed, as my kids were waiting for us, and I am fortunate that I get to take them on a mini adventure of our own the following week. I still need to write about our last one, I am a bit behind!

Obviously this post didn't have a main point, but as my reintroduction back into blogging, I am happy I wrote it.
Post Squamish50 23km dirt!

Lake Girabaldi. 9km up and 9km down made a 4 hour and 25 min hike the day after the race. OUCH! So sore and tired, but the epic views replaced the pain with gratitude.

Peak 1 of Stawamus Chief. 535m of elevation gain over 3km. This was the day after the Girabaldi hike, and 2 days after the race. Muscle atrophy made more tolerable by red wine at the summit.

Climbing the rock face on the Stawamus Chief.

The heights the trees reach on the Squamish trails makes me dizzy!

One of the lookouts on the way up to Lake Girabaldi. We were lucky enough to have it to ourselves for a few moments. I am grateful for the deafening silence when I am up so high!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thanks Boston, but I'm done with the Marathon.... For now.

Even with the simple title of this post, there are so many feelings, experiences and hours that were put into this one race. This post also may not be what some readers are hoping to read.

My daughter started JK this year, which left me with 6 hours in the day that I can fill with anything I like. Mostly, I enjoy being able to take clients during the day now, and not having to work every night. I could also forgo the 4:30am-5am wake ups that have been normal for so long, and run after I dropped the kids off at school.

Every runner I know who I idolize for their speed runs a lot. There is no way around that. More miles in your legs seems to correspond with faster times. So I decided that I was going to try what I once thought was impossible; to run 100 km a week.

Between December 12, 2016 and April 16, 2017 I hit 100km 8 times. I averaged 86km a week for the 18 weeks. In total I ran 1472km in the build up to the Boston Marathon. During those 18 weeks, I ran the Boxing Day 10 miler, and the Chilly Half Marathon; both with disappointing results.

In February, I decided to join the Longboat Road Runners. I am happy I was taken on by the head coach Timo! I had been training myself since late 2015, so taking the guess work out of training was nice.

In the weeks leading up to the race, I was becoming more annoyed with training than I was excited for the actual race. After I fell way short of what I thought I was capable of at the Chilly Half, I questioned whether running more is actually helping me or hurting me. My coach said he didn't think running less would leave me strong enough to run a good marathon. So I tried to plow onwards.

Here is my experience on training too much. What is most important to me is being able to feel good mentally and emotionally. When I am doing too much I know the signs from my body. Taking forever to fall asleep. Waking up repeatedly in the night. Short temper and easily annoyed during the day. Running at all is like pulling teeth. Weight gain of 5-6 lbs despite eating properly and high amounts of mileage. A swollen "puffy" look all over as if I am retaining water. Feeling terrible all day and night is not worth any race to me. Sorry folks, but not even Boston. By the time I displayed all these signs it was too late. Boston was a mere 20-ish days away. The taper couldn't come fast enough.

The race itself definitely delivered. The crowds at Boston cheer you like you are their family. They line the entire route from start to finish. I brought an iPod as I am accustomed to running alone sometimes in a long race, and it is a nice distraction. I couldn't even hear the thing; the crowds were so loud. It was wild!

Right before the race begins, two fighter jets fly over the start line. Already a race like no other! That gave me crazy goose bumps as my corral 1/8 began walking towards the starting mat. I found the first 8km very difficult to get around the crowds and get into a fluid pace. Around 10km they fanned out a bit and I didn't have to weave through anyone anymore.

As promised, my husband was at the 12km mark, in front of the Natick train station. It was great to see him, and at that point the race was flying by and I felt fantastic. Even when I hit the 21.1km mark in 1:32 I still felt really good. I made sure to drink at every water station, as well as grab a cup of water to dump on my head to try and stay cool.

The first hill hit around 27km I think? That seems to be where my pace goes out the window. This is also where I stopped sweating entirely and remember thinking "this may end badly". I wasn't acclimatized to the heat, and don't run well even in the middle of summer in Ontario. The heat combined with the Newton hills almost took me down. I pushed through as best as I could. From 30km onwards I refused to look at my watch or check my splits. I don't really remember any thoughts I had during the last 12km either.

My Wild Bruce Chase teammate/friend Kristin's husband spotted me at 35km and called out. It was so nice to hear my name and see someone I knew. That helped me push on. I saw my husband (who is the master supporter and spectator!) again at the 40km mark, and even though it was amazing to see him again, I was really just wanting to be finished. It gave me a final mental push, although I don't think it accounted to anything physically. I have read so many accounts of the final turn towards the finish line. The crowds are insane. You're almost there. You can see the finish. I'm such a finish line crier, and normally an epic event such as crossing the Boston Marathon finish line would solicit tears from me, but that day there were none. I was too dehydrated.

I crossed the line in 3:10:38. About 1 minute over my only other marathon time. That wasn't what I was thinking about though, as I slowly walked through the finishers chute. WATER was the only thing I was thinking about or looking for. I probably would have passed up my medal to get to water faster. Ha! The finish area was carnage! People laying on the ground, falling on the ground, medics rushing to them, people just sitting on the side of the road before making the 1km trek to the family waiting area, and runners being pushed in wheel chairs towards the medical tent. Crazy what a hot marathon can do to a person in comparison to a cool one. I'm not going to lie, the medics waiting on the sides every 10 feet or so with wheel chairs looked so tempting! I am thankful that I finished and didn't need medical services.

One question a lot of people have asked me is "would you do it again?".

After a month to reflect on this, right now my answer would have to be no.

But WHY?! Boston is the "holy grail" of running events! And for someone who is chasing the unicorn, my view point may seem outrageous or even offensive.

 I am grateful to have been able to do something that many people can only dream about. I am also grateful for being able to share the experience with others. I am still in awe of what the human body can do and tolerate. I have only run 2 marathons, and in each of them my limits were tested in totally different ways. My hard "no" has nothing to do with Boston as a race, and everything to do with the preparation, time and effort that goes into marathon training. As well as a large need in my life for those efforts to be allocated elsewhere.

To train "properly" for a marathon, I really only get 1 chance a year. Spring. That way I can train while my kids are in school without disrupting their life, and still being able to have a life myself. A fall marathon would mean 4am wakeups all week. Truthfully, I am not prepared to do that. I want to enjoy summer with my kids and not be exhausted and wiped out all the time. Paying for day care to run just seems ridiculous to me. For me, running should enhance life. Not be life.

So my priorities have changed again. And that's ok. For a long time I wanted to run a "fast" marathon. So I put in a TON of work, all to have the weather foil it. In running, nothing is guaranteed and what you put in may not necessarily be what you get back. And for now, I need a break from that. Shorter faster races will be the only thing on my running related horizon. My three year old 10km PB of 38:01 seems physically impossible to run now. That was off of 40km of running a week and no real speed work. That's also when I loved running the most. I need to get back to that place.

My plans to get back there involve the open communication with my coach, that I have been really appreciating. Scaling back the mileage, and forgoing the standard two workouts a week. If going down to one workout a week means I'm not as fast, but I feel well enough energy wise to enjoy the rest of my life, then I'm ok with that. Every cycle I have attempted two workouts a week, it isn't long before my nervous system is taxed and all those overtraining symptoms pop up.

One major thing I took away from Boston was how much love and support is around me! I was truly blown away by the amount of call, texts, well wishes and messages I received from my friends and family all over. At some low points in my life where I had made many wrong choices, I felt very alone. I am happy to say that that feeling is long gone. And many years of soul searching and realizing that I can choose what types of people and energies I allow around me has paid off! Thank you to everyone who took the time to reach out to me and support me. It means more than you all know. ♥♥♥

To my husband and kids who tolerated me through the thick of this - THANK YOU!

To my coach and Longboat team and previous team Grand River Endurance members- THANK YOU!

Thank you to Saucony Canada, as their shoes have gotten me through 2 marathons, a 50km and a plethora of shorter races without so much as a blister. How could I possibly have carried 5 gels if the shorts I wore on race day didn't have pockets!?

Special thank you to my friend Stephanie who pushed me to try running my first race in 2011 and hasn't stopped cheering for me since.

Next up is the Toronto Waterfront 10km! Since I really don't like running the 10km distance, I thought this was a perfect place to start. :)