I love running!

I love running!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Testing, cross training and patience

I am running again! It is not far or fast but it is running and I can feel my body starting to remember. It's the most amazing feeling but also so hard as I must be patient. Coming back is going to be a long road but one I can't wait to run!

It's been over 12 weeks now since my foot gave me the signal to stop running. Yup 12 weeks. Those weeks have been filled with appointments at my Physio, Chiro, Sports Med and Osteopath as well as many minutes of cross training in the pool and gym. They have also been filled with the emotional ups and downs of not running. Some days just seem harder when you can't get the endorphins flowing. That said though, in general I think I've managed the cross training pretty well and have kept the tougher emotional days in check. I have had some good cries but also some great highs along the way and I've made some great connections with other runners who are experiencing similar setbacks.

Over the last 12 weeks I've had the following diagnostic tests to determine what is going on: x-ray, bone scan, CT, MRI and diagnostic ultrasound. Yes they know me at the hospital imaging department now. So with all those appointments and tests what do I know? The X-ray was clear, however a follow up bone scan indicated a hot spot leading my injury to be treated as a stress reaction/fracture. I began using a bone stimulator (thanks Dylan Wykes for the loan) and avidly cross trained in the pool with lengthy pool run sessions and some swimming. Not my fave but I was lucky enough to have friends hop in and join me, making the pool much more tolerable mentally.  I also started some bike spinning. A few weeks into cross training I didn't notice much improvement so  a CT was ordered for more detail. This ruled out a stress fracture/reaction. Great news as my sports med cleared me to run. YES!!! I was so excited, that was until I took those first few steps and it hurt. It didn't seem much better than a few weeks earlier. I was supposed to do a  6min run but it hurt too much. I started to panic, called my sports med and explained my predicament. He suggested trying the run again a few days later but running 30 seconds with a 4 min 30 second walk. This felt a bit better than the continuous run but I knew that my foot wasn't ready for full running yet.

This led to the MRI, which indicated some thickening of the tendon under my second metatarsal and some mild bone edema. Again not a lot of info but helped explain why my foot was still sore. After that a diagnostic ultrasound was used to check for a neuroma. No neuroma but I do have some fluid in my second metatarsal joint as well as osteoarthritis in my big toe (likely due to a bunionyectomy many years ago). Interestingly enough after the testing which was completed over about 9 weeks my foot started to improve. I started using a toe separator, a metatarsal pad and having lots of massage, physio and ultrasound on the area. AND I was again given clearance to try running again.

In conversation with my coach we agreed we needed to take things slowly and see how much the foot could tolerate. This meant starting with sessions of a 1 min run followed by a 1 min walk. I did this using the toe separator and metatarsal pad in my shoes. I did this every other day for a few sessions,  then progressed to 5x1min run/walk followed by a 3 minute continuous run followed by the walk/run again. A few weeks into this I have just started running 3 days in a row followed by a non-run day. My middle run between the walk sessions has grown to 35 minutes. It is huge progress for which I am really grateful. I am still cross training on top of these run sessions so the pool is still happening as is the bike, and I've been able to also add in the elliptical. I am also doing lots of rehab physio exercises as well as strength training in hopes of improving my running form and preventing further injuries going forward. It is amazingly time consuming rehabbing an injury but it is gratifying to be busy rather having too much time to think about the injury.

I believe that I will come back stronger as a runner as I continue to build back my milage. I know that  I will be more disciplined with my core and strength exercises going forward. I also plan to be on top of my nutrition. It's the little things that can make a huge difference. I am so excited for when I can go for long continuous runs with my friends and team mates or I can push myself running intervals on the track or road. I visualize this, I know it will happen but I must practice patience now and listen to my body. It is so easy when things start to feel good again to jump back in full force but I know this will just affect me negatively in the long run.

I plan to enjoy this journey as I return to elite running form and I am so excited for what is to come.

I have to thank all my friends and family who have been very understanding and supportive of my injury.  My amazing coach Richard Lee who always knows the right thing to say and the right guidance to give. Thanks to Dr. Jim Bovard, Marilou Lamy, Chris Napier, Dr. Donald Grant, JP Snip and Bobby Crudo who have been supporting me and treating my injury. What a team! Also thanks to the amazing Oiselle who embrace the sisterhood whether injured or healthy, Forerunners Vancouver who along with New Balance help to support these feet, Nuun for ensuring I drink enough and Zensah.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Getting into the cross training groove

It's been 3 weeks since I last ran and yes I miss it. Running is such a huge part of my daily life that it's removal has taken some time to adjust to. At times it feels like part of me is missing. The bone scan showed a hot spot on my second metatarsal head, although it didn't discern if there was an actual fracture, a hot spot still means to practice caution and let things heal. Fortunately, prior to getting the bone scan results, the decision had already been made to take a break so I was already in the "no running" mindset.

The first week without running felt surprisingly good both mentally and physically.  I made sure I rested lots and actually felt no inclination to run or cross train. My body has worked hard for me this year and it was definitely letting me know it was needing a break. It is very rare that I don't have the desire to run so this made the start of my break much easier. I am always amazed how much "free" time I have when training is taken out of my routine. I replaced that time with baking (one of my favourite activities) and reading ( you must check out Elena Ferrante's Neapolitana series).

I also headed down to San Jose the weekend of the half marathon, as my ticket was not refundable. I was hoping to take some photos of fellow Oiselle team mate Shaluinn Fullove but she ended up not being able to run. I did head down and cheer though as I knew lots of people running. As much as I love competing, there is such a great feeling being on the sidelines cheering on the runners. I felt so lucky to see Meb break the American Masters Half Marathon record, and was inspired watching so many different people achieving their goals. It was also lovely to spend the weekend with my fave girls Tash & Dayna.

As week 2 of no running began, the running itch returned. This is when it became harder. I find the first thing to go is the positive mental attitude and I had to work hard at trying to not feel sorry for myself. Surrounding myself with great friends and having lots of family time really helped me. Plus thinking about the challenges many of my friends and team mates have had with injury and recovery, reminded me that being positive and focused is important, and that it is possible to come out the other side stronger and more determined. I'm not going to say I am always positive, I definitely have my days where I am low, but I am trying!

At the beginning of the 3rd week I was able to start cross training. What a relief mentally that was. Just knowing I was able to go and move and expend some energy made a lot of difference. I've primarily been pool running and swimming, as with no impact this is the best choice for me. I have also done some light spinning on the bike, however, I am trying to limit the bike until my foot is more stable. My friend Dayna has lent me a waterproof MP3 player which has made the pool running experience much better and Dayna has been amazing about joining me in the pool. Keeping the pool running social makes it much easier. Thanks also to Kendra for keeping me company.

As I begin week 4 the pool running is starting to become easier as is the swimming. I am focusing on my core workouts, which I am adapting to have no foot pressure  (meaning no planks), and on my active isolated stretching and rolling. When I get the clearance from my sports med I also hope to add back in some strength training so when I start back running I am strong.

I know I still have a few cross training weeks ahead of me and than even when I start running again it will be a  slow, gradual build up so I am going to try and embrace this stage of my journey. This running journey is definitely full of ups and downs but I do believe it is how you respond to the challenges that is important.

In other news I have a new running relationship. Forerunners Vancouver, has partnered with New Balance Canada to support me with New Balance shoes going forward. I am so excited about this partnership, as I have known Karen and Peter for many years and we have worked together on previous fundraising runs such as The Joshua Run. They are huge supporters of the running community and I am extremely grateful for their support of me going forward. New Balance makes some fantastic shoes. My favourite shoe this summer was the New Balance Zante. Perfect for long runs. I've also raced my three marathons this year in the NB1400. I am excited about when I'm back running again in my New Balance shoes.

Thanks again to all my sponsors, Oiselle, Forerunners, New Balance, Nuun and Zensah for standing by me through this journey!

Also a huge thank you to my family, friends, teammates and coach who have supported me through all the ups and downs.
                Enjoying the sunshine in San Jose (the Rizzo bikini from Oiselle is amazing by the way )

                                                Doing some Active Isolated Stretching

                    Part of my Fall Oiselle Shipment. This cheered me up as it arrived in week 2

                                        The position I spend lots of time in to rest the foot

My new training venue!  

                                               Bike spinning, so sweaty even at an easy pace

                                                                   core workout

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Time for a break

Today is a beautiful fall day and it felt like the perfect time to sit down and write about running. Normally on a day like today I would be out running but I'm not as I am on a running break. This break came a few weeks earlier than I had anticipated, however, I am trying to embrace the rest and let my body and mind recover from a huge year of training and competing. Originally my break was scheduled for after October 18th, when I was hoping to be competing at the Canadian Marathon Championships in Toronto at STWM. That goal has now been put to the side.

When I came back from Pan Ams in July, my coach Richard Lee and I sat down to determine my fall goals. Knowing I had already run 3 marathons, Houston, Eugene and Pan Ams we knew aiming for a 4th was a gamble, however, I had managed to stay healthy throughout the training, and with Pan Ams not having a marathon build training cycle prior, due to the short notice, I had really only completed two marathon training cycles. We recognized it was a gamble as to whether I would remain healthy building to Toronto and were cognizant that I may have to pull out if my body or mind led me to. Richard developed a training plan for me that included 2 lead up races, the Eastside 10k in Vancouver, followed by the San Jose half marathon in California.

With it being summer I also had a couple of trips planned. In August, I had the opportunity to go to Bird Camp. This is a camp put on by my sponsor Oiselle and was held in Leavenworth Washington at the beautiful Sleeping Lady Resort. Prior to camp I had only met my team mates via social media, so I  was really excited to meet them in person. What an incredible experience. Oiselle is a company that truly practices what it preaches. Oiselle's love of running, along with their belief in pure sport, and their creation of communities and relationships made me even more proud to be a part of their team. I met some amazing women and had some incredible experiences that included running, hiking, eating, river floating, meditation, yoga and core work.

Following camp, I headed with my family to Naramata in the Okanagon. This is a usually one of my favourite trips as it is a beautiful lake getaway. The running involves lots of hills and it is typically hot but it is a great strength builder during a marathon build. Unfortunately, this year the forest fires from Washington were enclosing the area in a smoke filled haze. The air quality wasn't great and it made running not so much fun. It caused my asthma to flare up which made running more difficult but I was able to continue running.

Upon returning to Vancouver, my running workouts were going okay. I didn't feel as fresh as I had hoped to and I was experiencing a bit of a foot niggle with my left foot. It was strange as the bottom of my foot began to feel bruised. The pain wasn't anywhere specific and it tended to come and go and move around. I had a callous buildup on the ball of my foot, and some swelling on the top of my foot, but again this came and went and with treatment would often dissipate. I consulted with my sports med Dr Bovard and with my physio Marilou Lamy and we determined that I could continue to train as long as the pain didn't increase. 

My first race, the Eastside 10k was on September 19th. It was a very wet rainy day making the roads a bit slick. I warmed up for the race with a group of running friends and did not feel fresh, although I often feel this way in the warm up. I also was aware of my foot as it was hurting a bit. I didn't feel the pain was greater than usual and believed I would be fine to race. I put on my flats, the gun went off and I started to run. I knew from the start something was off. My left side just wasn't turning over probably and I had limited power from my left foot. I wasn't able to turnover any faster and it was frustrating. I didn't feel any pain in my foot, however, I was aware I wasn't planting my foot properly. I finished the race pain free but nowhere near as fast as I knew I was capable of. Starting on my cool down my foot started to really hurt. I realized I was limping and this scared me.

Fortunately I had a pre-booked appointment with my sports med doc for the Tuesday following the race. When I saw him and explained what had happened he decided we needed to do some testing to see what was going on. He sent me for an X-ray and a bone scan. He also told me I needed to stop running as he suspected a stress reaction or fracture. The X-ray came back clear and the bone scan showed a hot spot. I am still waiting on final results from the bone scan as they had a CT component that should be able to pinpoint whether there is a fracture or not.

After meeting with Dr. Bovard, prior to the tests,  I talked with Richard again and we decided it was time to call it a season. There is  no point in trying to recoup quickly from this. We both know it is better for me to get healthy and strong again for the spring season. So where does that leave me now?I know I am not running until I am pain free. I will start cross training next week, but until then I am having two full weeks off to recover from the year. It has been quite a while since I had a long break and I am managing it quite well at the moment. I always find it hard when it is a beautiful running day and I wish I was out there doing what I love to do, but I know I need to be smart, patient and remain positive if I want to come back and compete.

I am also embracing running by cheering on my friends who still are running. So many of my amazing running friends will be competing in marathons over the next few weeks and I can't wait to see how all their hard work pays off. I will continue to enjoy the journey as I get healthy and strong.

A huge thank you again to my coach Richard Lee, whose guidance and support are exactly what I need. Also to my sponsor Oiselle, who not only make the most kick ass running gear, but who are an example of the power of a running community that speaks up for what it believes in. Thanks to Nuun who keep me hydrated by making such yummy flavours (especially watermelon and grape). Thanks to Sports Uber and Zensah Compression who make sure whenever my calves get tight or I am flying somewhere that I am compressed and supported. Also thanks to Fast and Female, for whom I am an ambassador. They work hard to help motivate girls to stay in sport. check them out!!

                                                 Enjoying the view after a hike at Bird Camp

                                                  A beautiful long run with Oiselle team mates

                                                   Some of the Oiselle crew post long run

With Leanna Keto, a fellow Canadian Oiselle team mate and Kristin Metcalfe the best team leader!

                                           post long tempo run in the smoky Naramata haze

                                          A Naramata sunset our last night, after the smoke cleared

                                             The start of the Eastside 10k in Vancouver
                                                photo cred: Dave Burroughs

                                                  Racing the raindrops in the Eastside 10k
                                                     photo cred : Dave Burroughs

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The week that was Pan Ams #PanAmazing

Wow, where to begin. I have just returned home from one of the most incredible weeks and I am still relishing the experience. What a crazy ride life is and I am certainly enjoying it.

About 4 weeks ago, or 3 weeks before the Pan Am games marathon I received a call from Athletics Canada offering me a spot on the Pan Am marathon team. I had pretty much put aside my dream of competing for Canada at the Pan Am games after my Eugene marathon, so this call came as a complete surprise. It turned out that a spot had opened up after another athlete decided to compete in a different event. I immediately said YES! The next question from Athletics Canada inquired as to my fitness. Well I was fit but not necessarily marathon fit. Post Eugene I had taken a break and some down time in training so I had only been doing workouts for a couple of weeks and was still at relatively low milage. A call to my amazing coach Richard Lee was made and he said that YES we could be ready in 3 weeks and that instead of a taper we would build to the marathon.  Now that the decision was made the work began.

Three weeks to a marathon is not ideal but I was determined to get there and to be able to compete. Instead of a typical taper my 3 weeks pre marathon consisted of long progression runs, long interval workouts and an increase in milage. My body seemed to remember and I was running quite well. I was also getting extremely nervous. I had thoughts that I was out of my league, that I wouldn't represent Canada well, that I wasn't ready. My coach, friends and family all reminded me that the training I had completed earlier this year when training for Houston and Eugene would still be in my legs and that I was just as capable as anyone else out there. A week out from Pan Ams I did a 20 mile progression run and the legs felt great.

Just over a week out from Pan Ams I started to have some GI issues while training. I'm not sure whether it was the heat and humidity, nerves, or a virus, or possibly a combo of all the above but my confidence was a bit shaken. I am extremely thankful to Dr. Jim Bovard and Dr. Trent Stellingwerff who worked with me to  minimize the issues I was having.

I arrived in Toronto the Tuesday before the race. I wasn't able to access the athlete village until the Thursday prior to the Saturday race, but had decided to fly in a bit earlier to get time adjusted and climate adjusted. The weather in Toronto for the marathon was anticipated to be hot and humid. Thursday I moved in to the Pan Am village. The village is amazing. Each country has it's own building or block in a building and then we all share the cafeteria, and gym areas. I was in a room for 6.  My roommates were great and love chocolate as much as me, always a bonus! We had access to IST support and I was able to get a flush out massage from the incredible Danielle and a physio tune up with Ron O'Hare and I felt great.

The Friday prior to the race involved a tech meeting, course briefing and outfitting for Team Canada gear and race kit gear. It also involved me eating lots of rice, yams and some chicken. It is tough to be in a food court filled with so many options and have to stick to plain food, but it was necessary with my upcoming race. My first view of the course was on an elevation chart and it didn't look easy. The course consisted of a 2.195k loop to start then a 10k loop we were to complete 4 times. The loop headed along Lakeshore Drive then headed into High Park where we climbed a steep long hill. It is a 9% grade at parts. There was also a hill on our return up Lakeshore which luckily wasn't as steep or long but was still noticeable. Rachel Hannah (my team mate also running the marathon ) and I realized that this was going to be a tough course with 8 climbs and 4 of them being long and steep. To add to the difficulty the forecast for the marathon was for the hottest day so far this year in Toronto with an extremely high humidex. I was told that when we started running the humidity was over 90% and the temperature over 20 degrees and that while we were running the temperature was over 30 degrees celcius.

The morning of the race I woke up at 3:30 am to go have breakfast. My awesome room mates had left a fun note on the door to get me going :) (thx Jess & Sasha) Rachel and I both opted for oatmeal that we had brought with us. It was already hot at that time in the morning so we knew it was going to be rough. We took a bus to the start with the other athletes and our Team Canada support team just after 5am. I did a short warm up with drills and strides. Thankfully Team Canada was prepared and after running my warm up I was given an ice vest to wear while doing my drills and strides. The ice vest keeps your body core temperature down so that when you start the race you are not already overheated. It wasn't long after that they called us to the start. It was funny I had been quite nervous leading into the race but once we were corralled to be introduced and led to the start line, a feeling of calm came over me and I just became excited to run. When both Rachel and I were introduced the crowd went crazy and it was such an amazing experience. My dad, husband and kids were in the stands and I was able to see them before I started running. My coach Rich was also out on the course on his bike, so I was well supported.

The gun went off and we started the first 2k loop which went out and back in front of the stands. It was hot and I reminded myself to be conservative as I wanted to finish strong. My goal going into the race was to finish strong and to hopefully place in the top 10. There were 17 women listed on the start list and one didn't show so it was a 16 woman race. I hung on the back of  the pack with another woman from Paraguay and Sarah Cummings of the USA. Sarah had a similar lead up to me and hadn't had  a lot of notice coming into the race. After about 5k the race started to pick up with an increase in pace. I elected to remain at the pace I was at, knowing it would be smarter for me in the long run. It was hard to watch the pack move ahead but I had to trust that given the course and conditions people would come back to me. Both my coach and Trent had told me prior to the race that this would be a race of attrition, and it was.

Around 7k we hit the High Park climb for the first time and it was steep and long. It was also an incredible part of the course, as all the way up and down the hill were Canadians cheering on the runners. They had written chalk messages to Rachel and I on the road up the hill and they were cheering so loudly for us. It was surreal and amazing and their support meant everything as I was able to focus on them and it kept me smiling even when the going got tough. The crowd support was beyond anything I have experienced before and I truly appreciated it.

The first two loops I felt pretty good and focused on staying relaxed and in control of my pace. I was taking bottles of Eload every 5k and was also pouring water on my head whenever possible to keep cooler. Team Canada was manning our aid station and Trent would update me on my splits and how others were doing in the race. At 20k I took a gel (my plan was to take one at 20 and 30k). The gel did not sit well in my stomach and I spent the next 5k cramping. I hit the bottom of the hill climb again at 25k and recognized a pit stop was in order. Not what I had wanted to happen but thankfully there were lots of bathrooms. After the stop I felt much better, although I lost a couple of minutes I was able to get back on pace after. Trent had also let me know that competitors were dropping out due to the course and heat and that I was getting close to top 10.

The last loop was a mental battle. It was so hot and to climb that hill again was daunting but I was determined. I could see a woman ahead of me and she looked like she was slowing. I passed her just before the climb. About 2k from the finish I could see another woman ahead who was also slowing. This was a great motivator for me and I pushed as much as I could. I passed her about 500m from the finish. Running down the final stretch with my family cheering me on in the stands was incredible and a moment I will cherish. I finished in 9th and was so happy. Rachel Hannah finished in an amazing 4th place. Tough as nails!

Running the marathon for Team Canada on home soil was definitely a highlight in my life. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity and so proud that I was able to run a decent race on limited preparation.

The night after the marathon I was able to celebrate with my family. Then for the rest of the week I was able to enjoy cheering on my friends and team mates at the track. I saw some unbelievable races live at the track with some outstanding Canadian performances. I watched friends get medals, some while they were running with one shoe only half on (Sasha). I also got to experience Canada House and the village and a fantastic dance party on the last night.

I made lots of new friends and got to spend tons of time with some of my best friends. It truly was a #PanAmazing week. I am still enjoying this amazing journey


I want to thank my coach Richard Lee, who prepared me so well for this race in a limited time frame.

My family who flew out to watch and support me and who stood by me when I had to miss our family vacation the week before Pan Ams.

My friends who sent me so many words of encouragement, who showed up to cheer me on and who support me in so many ways.

Athletics Canada for believing I could do this and for supporting me on the team. Also for handing out bottles, providing us with treatment pre-post race, for the ice vests and for the support.

The running groups and people who showed up and cheered us on during a really hot day and who made the experience one I will never forget. You guys seriously kept me going!!

Alan Brooks and the CRS Staff who manned the course, who have supported me on my journey to Pan Ams and who were there at the finish. These guys love running!!

The amazing volunteers! Thank you for cheering for helping us athletes and for making this such an incredible experience.

My incredible sponsor OISELLE. The Oiselle manifesto is how I choose to live my life and their love of sport is admirable. They have taught me to challenge myself and recognize that although situations are scary it is better to give it my best shot than to run away.
 photo cred; Cathy Vandergeest
at the entrance to High Park, my name in chalk and an amazing cheer crew from Pace & Mind running club

 photo cred : Cathy Vandergeest

  An amazing crew of talented, fun and strong women before the closing ceremonies

The BC Endurance Project crew on the last night of Pan Ams
 photo cred. Cathy Vandergeest
being cheered on the hill, amazing crowd support
 Worlds biggest smore made by the Pan Am cafeteria chefs. It was delicious :) 

Enjoying life in the village

Our last run at Pan Ams 

On our way to the closing ceremonies on the bus. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Celebrating the unexpected in Eugene

It's been 2 days since the Eugene Marathon and I am still overwhelmed by the whole experience. What a weekend it was. Whenever I attend a running event I am blown away by the running community and this event was no different. In fact Eugene reinforced what an awesome group runners are.

I headed down to Eugene on my own for this marathon, as the kids schedules made it difficult to bring the whole family, yet through the weekend I never felt alone. I was fortunate to meet an amazing group of runners from Phoenix, the Sonoron Distance Project. This group of women had come down to Eugene to get the US trials B standard. They had their coach, partners and a pacer with them. They embraced me into their group immediately and I had an absolute blast getting to know them and celebrating with pizza and Voodoo donuts the evening after the race. Thanks to all of them for being so generous and kind. The race didn't go the way they had hoped but they will get it next time!

Going in to the Eugene Marathon my A goal was to be as close to 2:35 as possible. My training leading into the event had me confident that this was a realistic goal for me. My long tempo runs on hilly loops had been strong and I had completed two 22 milers in a week with marathon pace efforts built in, that had gone really well. Three weeks prior to Eugene I had run the Vancouver Sun Run 10k and off marathon training had run a PB of 33:52 to place 6th overall, 3rd Canadian and 1st master.

A few days after the Sun Run I had a bit of a strain come up in my Obdurator (google it if you're not sure what this means). This was causing some discomfort when I was running. Luckily my amazing support team of Chris Napier (physio), Dr. Jim Bovard (sports med), Marilou Lamy (Physio) and Bobby Crudo (RMT) fixed me up very quickly and I didn't really miss much training. As that started to heal I came down with a virus the week before the event. Not the best lead in, but I kept focusing on the positive and by the time I was down in Eugene I was feeling a lot better.

Race day was a beautiful running morning. It was around 12 degrees at the start and a bit overcast. My plan was to go out at 5:55/mile. The half and full marathon start together in Eugene, and I found myself running beside Eva Vail who was running the half. This was great as she was running the same splits as me and we worked really well together. The half marathon splits from the full at 9 miles and from that point on I was pretty much alone. At this point in the race the course moves on to the river path for a while before heading in to the Springfield neighbourhood, then returns for the last 10 miles to the river path. The River Path is beautiful although a bit more windy and with more small elevation changes than I had anticipated. It was also hard to see too far ahead and know where others were on the course. I was told by a spectator that I was in second place.

As I exited the river path in to Springfield I could just make out Erin who was running in first place with her pacer. As I ran I realized I was gaining ground on her and that she was struggling. It is never fun to see someone struggling in the marathon, especially that early on, so when I caught her I gave her some words of encouragement and kept moving on. Remarkably, although she was struggling early on, she was able to still pull herself to a 3rd place finish, that is toughness!

Erin's pacer moved up with me for a couple of miles then dropped, but it was nice to have someone to run with. At this point I entered back to the River Trail past Pre's trail and kept focused on the race. It was  a little intimidating being in first place and not knowing where anyone else was. I just wanted to keep moving forward. I passed the half point in 1:18:45 and realized it was going to be tough to get under standard unless I kept pushing the pace. I tired to just focus on moving and hoping the time would come. When I got to 20 miles and saw my split 2:01:43 I think I realized it was going to be tough to get my A goal and standard as I was definitely starting to struggle. This is where the run became really a test of mental strength and perseverance. Knowing the goal I had worked so hard for was falling out of reach was disappointing but I was in first place in the marathon and this kept me going.  I kept visualizing breaking the tape and thinking how great that would feel.

The end of the marathon finishes on the track at the historic Hayward Field. As I turned the corner and hit the track my legs picked up and I tried to sprint to the finish. The feeling entering the stadium is unreal. It still feels surreal to me now. Hearing the crowd cheering, running down the straightaway and breaking the tape are moments that I will never forget. I am beyond grateful for this experience. Although I didn't hit my A goal time wise, I achieved something so memorable instead. The love and support I have experienced from everyone has been incredible.

This is only the beginning. I intend to continue to learn from these experiences and improve some more. I am not finished with the marathon yet:)

I must thank some of the amazing people who have helped me get here

My family, whose support and understanding of my love for running enables me to pursue this incredible journey.

My Coach, Richard Lee, whose belief and confidence in me has taken me to places I only dreamed about, and who somehow always knows the right thing to say in those moments post race!

My wolf pack - I love you girls! Natasha and Dayna who are my running inspirations and who support me unconditionally in this running adventure and who are killing it in their running!

 Ian Dobson - elite coordinator at the Eugene Marathon who made sure things ran so smoothly and seamlessly that as athletes we had nothing to worry about except for running.

My friends who have sent me so many amazing messages of congratulations and support. It means so much!

The amazing team at Oiselle who believe in me and my abilities! You guys rock!

Dave at Distance Runwear who has supported me in this journey

Zensah Compression and Sports Uber who have kept me fueled and compressed!

Bobby Crudo, Chris Napier, Marilou Lamy, Dr. Jim Bovard - thx for keeping me moving forward :)

What a weekend and one I will not forget. I am enjoying every minute of this incredible journey.

The river path and Pre's Trail maps. We ran pretty much all of the river path during the marathon

Kerry Camberg from the Sonoron Distance Project and I pre-race

The finish line at Hayward Field before the race

Top 3 women in the marathon (myself, Emily Harrison and Erin Nehus Vergera)

My sprint to the finish on Hayward field 
photo cred: Kerry Camberg

With my finishers medal after the win
photo cred: Laurel Mathieson 

Media from the event

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Return to Racing

This past weekend was my first foray back in the racing circuit since the marathon. I had hoped to start racing the week prior, however, a nasty virus decided to circulate through the family and I got it a couple of days before the race (why do the mom's always get it last?) I had to make the decision whether to race or not. This was a harder decision than it should have been for me. I don't like to miss out on races, and the St. Patricks Day 5k is one of my favourite on the circuit, however, the marathon is my goal for the Spring and that is where my focus is. So I missed the race took a couple of easy days and jumped back in to training. Definitely the right decision. Unfortunately, the virus is lingering and I am still coughing almost 2 weeks later. I have been able to train though, and was able to run my first race back this past weekend.

The Modo 8k is  a Canada Running Series (CRS) event and is their opening event in the series. CRS puts together strong elite fields and a fun event. Last year running this race I had already run a few races leading in to it and was focusing on speed workouts on the track. This year with my training focusing on the marathon I knew this would be a very different experience, as I would lack the speed training. When focusing on the marathon, often speed is sacrificed for longer workouts, as maintaining marathon pace for a long time is key, not running a series of fast 400s on the track. Also I would not be tapering at all for this race, instead I would be running 3 big workouts the week prior. The Sunday before I had a 20 mile run with 10k at marathon pace, followed by 5x2k/2'' the following Tuesday and a 25k run with 15k of alternating km paces. I am really loving all these longer workouts. Seriously :)

The plan going into this race was really just to go out hard and try and hold a fast pace as long as I could. The race went out fast with Lanni Marchant, Rachel Cliff and Dayna Pidhoresky leading and me trying to hold on. I was already a few seconds back at 1km which I went through in 3:14 (it's a fast start with some downhill). I just tried to focus on moving my legs. It was interesting as I felt like I was running hard but my legs didn't feel like they wanted to turnover. Also with the fast pace my breathing was not sounding great. I didn't panic though and just kept moving forward. I was in no mans land for most of the race until around 6.5 k where I caught a couple of the guys and one of them went with me. The last km of the race is uphill and I really felt this. My coach was mid way up the hill and yelled "only 90 more seconds", I think it was longer than that but it helped to know I was close. I crossed the finish line in 28:00 flat, 4th overall and 1st master.

Crossing the line, my initial response was disappointment. In 2014 I had really had a great year and had set PBs at every distance, so to start the 2015 season without a PB felt strange. Upon reflection though I recognized that this was actually a pretty strong start given my training that week and lack of speed training and taper. To not be far off last years time, where I focused on the shorter races was really encouraging. As the day went on I became really happy with the result. I think this is great start to the season and I can't wait for the marathon. I am excited to hopefully PB at the marathon distance and it will definitely be worth the sacrifice of the shorter races maybe not being as fast as last year.

A huge congrats to Lanni, Rachel and Dayna who finished in that order in strong form! And thank you to Dayna who accompanied me on part of my long run following the race. Also thanks to Natasha Wodak who always gives the best cheers and presented us with our awards!

I am excited for what the season ahead brings and loving being back in the racing community. Loving this journey....

Thanks to Rita Ivanuskus for always taking great race photos. I think I was in a lot of pain at this point. 

At the awards ceremony with Natasha, Dayna and Rachel (apparently I missed the memo to wear pink)

Photo cred Natasha Wodak. Me in my race kit on a gorgeous morning in Vancouver

Beautiful Spring Blossoms in Vancouver

A poster I did for CRS and Oiselle

Some new Oiselle goodies

My race kit, loving the Asics Hyperspeeds for the short races

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Post Marathon now what?

So the marathon is over and it's time to regroup so now what? Upon returning from Houston I was feeling pretty mixed about things. It's always hard when you have set goals and they haven't quite gone to plan. That said I was looking at the positives of the race and recognizing my accomplishment.

I sat down with coach Rich to discuss the Spring and we decided that I'm not finished with the marathon yet. Building in some recovery from Houston then building back to a Spring marathon became the plan. So yes, I am embarking on another marathon journey and excited to see where this one takes me. Hopefully a Pan Am standard, sub 2:40, which I know I am capable of. Even if I make the standard I know it is unlikely I will make the team given the depth of fast women in the marathon in Canada at the moment, however, for me it's important to know I can achieve the standard and be considered for the team.

I also needed to check in with the family to make sure they were OK with me embarking on this journey again. It's not just the time required for training, but the time to recover which includes rolling and massage, strength training, nutrition and just being tired! The family was awesome and jumped on board. Unfortunately the flu hit a couple of members of our household just as my mileage and training ramped up so I ended up pretty tired, even though so far I've been spared the flu.

So after 3 weeks of easy lower mileage I began to build back up and add some fartleks into my runs. Six  weeks later I am back to full mileage in the marathon build. It's fun being out there doing long workouts again, plus it's been much easier with the absolutely amazing weather we have been having. Going for long tempos, long interval and track sessions when the sun is shining is so much easier than the rain.

My typical week at the moment hovers around 140km and includes a long run, which typically has a workout built in to it, as well as two more sessions including a track/trail interval session or a long tempo or long interval session workout. I find any more than 3 big workouts a week too much for me and I seem to adjust pretty well to this schedule. Most of my track work is long sessions as well, so not any quick speed workout which is what I am used to doing at this time of year. I am definitely tired moving back to full training but excited to see where it takes me.

Next weekend will be my first race of the season, The St Patricks Day 5k in Stanley Park. I love this race, as the organizers Steve and Karen put on a great event for all, and the prizes and post race party are always fun! I have no idea how it will go, as I haven't been doing any short speed work, so basically I am just hoping to make my legs go fast. I will have a workout right after as well.


The following weekend I will be racing the Modo 8k. This is a Canada Running Series event and again the organization is superb. Hopefully the 5k will get my legs into gear for this race. I love supporting the Canada Running Series as they go above and beyond in supporting us as athletes. Leading into this race my sponsor Oiselle will be teaming up with the Canada Running Series for a fun giveaway.


Basically both races will be an opportunity to get the legs moving but will be more of training runs. I am excited to get back out there with everyone.  I feel so fortunate to have such an amazing running community.

I also wanted to mention that Asics Canada has been extremely generous in working with Distance Runwear, and has provided me with a fantastic pair of shoes for training.

Also for a great article on my coach Richard Lee and the BC Endurance Project that I train with, check out the current issue of Canadian Running.

I look forward to the events ahead and I am constantly remembering to enjoy the journey on the way!

My new shoes from Asics Canada and Distance Runwear 

Just before a 10 mile tempo in the park with Natasha Wodak, Dylan Wykes and Rob Watson

Cooling down post km repeats with Natasha Wodak and Dayna Pidhoresky


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The 2015 Houston Marathon, Enjoy the journey as the outcome isn't always as planned....

Back in October, my coach and I decided to embark on the marathon journey. I was feeling fit, had run some good half marathons and the standard for the Pan Am games of 2:40 had been released. Although a much faster time would likely be needed to be selected to the team, it seemed like a good goal to aim for.

I will admit I was scared at first. My experience with marathons hasn't been the best. 10 years ago I ran a couple for fun at an easy pace and that was great. But my attempt at running at a  competitive level in Chicago several years ago didn't go well. I got the flu right before the race and was unable to finish the race, despite having a fantastic marathon build up in training.

Also, I had to consider the impact of marathon training on my family. Lots more time in training and with recovery. The family was supportive and excited for me so that helped.

I set out training with the goal of enjoying the journey! Given my past with marathons I recognized that despite best laid plans, the marathon was a race where anything could happen. My training went really well. I only had one set back, a cold, which couldn't have come at a better time as it was my down week, so didn't impact training too much. I loved heading out on my long runs and long tempos. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a crew of amazing women who came out and supported me on my runs when they could, or constantly reminded me of how fast and fit I was getting. The training also made me tough. Long tempos in pouring rain and wind on hilly loops showed me I was ready for the race.

I arrived in Houston the Thursday before the race. The elite crew in Houston is unbelievable. They really want to ensure you as an athlete have a great race. Meals and snacks were provided and they were there for any questions you may have. They even provided me with bottles to fill for race day and decorating equipment so I could easily identify my bottle on course.

The weather for the race was optimal with temps between 10 and 15 degrees celcius. As elite runners we were required to be on a bus at 5am to head to the start line. Access to the start was only available by bus. This meant a 4:15am wake up to give time to get organized, eat and get to the bus. Houston is 2 hours ahead of Vancouver meaning my body felt like it was the middle of the night. I wasn't too worried about this as the adrenaline before the race usually means I am full of energy at the start. I did my usual pre race routine, although shortened due to the long race ahead and lined up at the start line.

The gun went off and I settled into a rhythm and remembered Patience, a word that had been told to me by just about every experienced marathoner I had talked to, and my coach before the race. The pace felt good but my stomach didn't. I won't get into details but I experienced stomach cramping and GI distress. Unfortunately this caused some unplanned stops along the way. This is where I had to dig deep. When you have to stop in a major race that you are aiming for a time goal in, you have to be flexible and change your goals as you go. As I watched time slip away I started to become disappointed and had thoughts of dropping out. I had to talk myself into continuing. That's when all those miles of training helped. I recognized that a DNF would feel so much worse than not achieving my time. I had not done all that work to not finish. I started just focusing on the moment I was in and putting one foot in front of the other, mile after mile. The crowd support really helped and although I was not running as fast as I hoped, I was running.

When I crossed the finish line in 2:44:59 I was so proud that I had finished as it was probably the most uncomfortable run I had ever done. I was also so happy that Alan Brookes of the Canada Running Series, was there to meet me. Having a friendly face there to help me was so needed. I was really disappointed with my time but having finished lets me know that I am capable of so much more. I am already thinking about my next marathon and redemption!

When I decide on my next marathon, I will once again remember to enjoy the journey, hopefully the outcome will be much faster, but if it's not I will remember how much fun I had on the way:)

Crossing the finish line  Photo cred: Alan Brookes

Meeting Meb! We sat beside each other at dinner. Nicest guy ever:) Winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon

Race numbers - one for the front and one for the back