Wednesday, May 29, 2013

General Training Update

^Creative title eh?

Life has been ticking along.

Training post-marathon was very light, which was a nice mental and physical recharge. It was quite satisfying to include a bit of time to just go with the flow and do what my body felt and for the most part, I think I have recovered very well. Even my disgusting black toenail that looked like it might fall off in the days following the marathon has stayed put and seems to have re-bonded with my foot.

Because who doesn't love a good toe shot!
The only slow down to recovery has been a bit of a cold that struck me just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend. I spent about a week coughing up phlegm and slowly getting back to my normal healthy state. I suppose it was the best time for it though and am feeling really ready to jump back into things as training gets set to ramp back up again.

As for this past weekend, well, it was spent biking, cheering, and running.

On the biking front, Kirsten, Shane and I headed out for my longest ride so far this season. At just under 2hours, it wasn’t in fact that long of a ride, but it did include a decent amount of rain and a Malahat summit, so it wasn’t entirely easy. Once the rain stopped pelting down on us and I could see the roads through my sunglasses, it was actually pretty fun.

Side note: Shane and I have been watching a lot of cycling on TV lately, so most of our rides are punctuated with Shane “making a break” and me trying to (unsuccessfully) reel in the break. Sometimes I like to accuse him of being a doper (jokingly of course), because really, how else is it possible that he can climb hills so much better than me? On top of that, we spend a lot of time commentating our rides in our best excited British accents.

Chapeau Sir!

Favourite Giro Moment(s): Cav's awkward reception of podium kisses.
Looks so goofy and makes me smile every time I see it :)

As for cheering, well that happened at home in Shawnigan, and via text messaging with my folks in Ottawa.

This was the first year in many that I have not participated in the Shawnigan Triathlon. I waffled back and forth about entering in the weeks leading up to it, (as I always kind of like taking part in my “home race”) but when I came down with my cold the week before, I knew it wasn’t meant to be this year. So instead, we spent the morning cheering on one of Kirsten’s students as she participated in her very first tri as part of the BC High School Championships. It was a lot of fun and Jacqueline did awesome on her first go at swim-bike-run.

Jacqueline coming in for the big finish!
At the same time, my Dad was taking part in the Ottawa half marathon with his best buddy of 40-some-odd years, Jesper. I think we all (Kirsten, Shane, myself) wished we could have been there to cheer them on in person, but it was still fun getting updates from my Mom via text. I haven’t gotten the full scoop on how their race went yet, but I’m sure they had a blast doing it, and well, they got the best post-race snacks ever!

Jesper & Dad enjoying the most delicious post-race snacks ever ~ Beavertails!!!

After cheering all morning, Kirsten and I headed to Thetis with the intention of doing an 80-90min run on the Stewart Mountain race course. For the record, I have never run Stewart Mountain before and Kirsten has only done it once, so I tend to leave her in charge of the navigation. We have (unsuccessfully) attempted to find the course together before and well, Sunday turned out to be just that  another attempt.

We covered some big hills, some very rough single track (that were probably actually just deer trails), got a bit lost and had a lot of fun (for the most part) and yet we still did not get to the top of Stewart Mountain. I think it frustrates Kirsten more than me that we are so navigationally challenged, but one day, I would like to actually find the route and get to the top of Stewart Mountain too. Anyway, we ended up being out in the bush just shy of 2hrs, and by the end, my legs were beat! (in a good way of course).

Looking ahead to this weekend, well, guess what is on the agenda? Hills. Trails. Very Hilly Trails! 
Friday is repeats. Saturday is supposed to be VERY hilly, while Sunday is also supposed to be hilly, but you know, “slightly easier” hilly.

I imagine it’ll look a little something like this:

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Today is four years since my PE.

On the first anniversary of my clot as I anxiously awaited the one year mark, I wrote “… I suppose what is most likely, is that there isn’t going to be any particular date or event, and one day I’m just not going to think about it so much anymore.”

Well, I can finally say that day has arrived – without me even realizing it.

On Tuesday a friend asked me how many years it had been and I was confused. I actually didn’t know what she was talking about at first. It was kind of an awesome feeling. That day finally came – the one where I “just don’t think about it so much anymore.”

Sure, I’m still hopped up on anticoagulants, but that is just part of life. It is my “normal” now. My INR remains mostly constant and I’m easily able to manage my diet and lifestyle, and because of that, I don’t have much worry. Life is good.

So, on that note, how about 4 random things to mark 4 years.

1) The Monday post-marathon my ankle blew up like a balloon. It hurt and was approaching cankle status for a day or two before it started to feel normal again.

On the Wednesday post-marathon, I had a massage and the wonderful Lysanne decided we’d test out a new little tape job. This wasn’t a tape job that was for support. Instead, the technique she applied was supposed to stimulate my lymphatic system (I think) to help reduce the swelling. She told me she understood the theory of it, but hadn’t really ever tried it, so didn’t know how well it would actually work. It was kind of a “can’t hurt to try” scenario I think.

Well… by Wednesday night the swelling in my ankle had started to come down and on Thursday morning, it looked like normal. For the first time in ages, my right ankle was actually the same size as my left ankle ~ shocking! (but cool).

So while I suppose it could just be timing and the fact that I wasn’t really running, I like to believe there might actually be a little something to the theory behind the tape.

2) Shane and I are going to be doing a ‘Learn to Ride’ and ‘Learn to Race’ clinic at the Velodrome this summer, which I am super excited about. There is just something about ripping around in circles on the track that is really really fun.

Anyway, we were supposed to do our ‘Learn to Ride’ clinic last night, but it got rained out. It was a bit of a bummer to cap off an already bummer day. So instead, (being the top notch athletes that we are), we ate frozen pizza (and salad!) for dinner. Shockingly, it was exactly what I needed and helped perk me back up.

3) Do you ever have one of those moments where you are talking to someone and you say something without really thinking it through, and then a few seconds/minutes later think “that was a complete lie” but you don’t really know how to back pedal, because of the time that has passed, so you just go with it and hope you never get called on it?

Yeah, I totally had one of those moments at the pool the other day.

I was talking to a guy I see there regularly, that also does triathlon. He knows I’m doing TRR this summer and asked how training was is going, etc. etc. (you know, the usual back and forth you tend to have with strangers who happen to have common interests).

He then asked how many miles I was running a week, to which I honestly replied that I didn't really know, as my training in largely based on time. So he asked how many hours I was running and I said "oh, about 12hours a week" thinking of my total training time over the week (including swims and bikes and yoga). He, of course, was like "wow, that's crazy, yadda, yadda, 12hours running, yadda… how’s your body handling all that, yadda, yadda, 12hours running is a lot...."

I then realized I had completely exaggerated (although, I wouldn’t doubt it if I got up to 12-13hours of running per week as the summer wears on), but didn’t want to be like “you know what, I totally just lied – I don’t actually run that much.” So I just kinda went with it.

So, to the guy in the IM Florida swim cap at the pool, if you ever read this, I totally lied. I don’t run that much… yet.

4) I’m currently reading the book “Drop Dead Healthy” by A.J. Jacobs and so far, am really enjoying it. It has made me want a treadmill desk. I really have nothing else to add at this point, but if you’ve never read any of his books, they are pretty fun and definitely an easy read. Worth (in my opinion at least) checking out.

That is all. Happy FOUR!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BMO Vancouver Marathon - Race Report

Things didn’t go quite as I had planned, expected, hoped, or imagined on Sunday at the Vancouver Marathon.

In fact, if you were to compare the actual race to the goals I had declared to the ol’ world wide web last Monday, you would probably think the day was a complete failure.

3:45 – Fail
Sub 4 – Fail
Negative Split – HAHAHAHAHAHA, obviously I was delusional when I thought that was a possibility, because, well, HUGE FAIL!

On the plus side, my 'no urgent bathroom breaks' goal was a big win!

Anyway, even though looking from the outside in, Sunday’s race could seem like a bit of a failure, I wasn’t as disappointed with myself as I thought I might be.

Sure, I came up pretty short on my goals and shortly after the finish line I probably declared I was done with the marathon distance forever, but then I found myself lying in bed last night thinking about the Victoria marathon in October and wondering if I was just crazy enough to do another one.
[Shane, who has officially sworn off the marathon, will be shaking his head, wondering how he ended up married to a crazy person when he reads that last sentence].

I definitely learned some valuable lessons on Sunday.
Lesson 1: A marathon is hard. If anyone every tries to tell you differently, they are a liar.
Lesson 2: 42.2km is a long long way. Like, it’s far. Really far.
Lesson 3: Things can be feeling awesome for 25k-30k, but things can also change very quickly.
Lesson 4: 10k at the end of a marathon can feel like a lifetime.
Lesson 5: When you pour copious amounts of water on your head to keep yourself cool, you’ll discover chaffing in all sorts of strange new places (hello butt crack!).

Okay, so I already knew all of those things and they aren’t really new lessons learned, but Sunday was a good reminder of these truths I suppose.

Also, while Sunday’s events definitely gave me a good scare and worried me a little for what is to come at TRR this August, it also got me really pumped to get off the roads and hit the trails.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Let’s get to the race report….

It started well, really well in fact.

I was incredibly nervous when I woke up and the nerves stuck with me right up until the gun went off. Thankfully, they didn’t get the best of me and I was able to take the first km or two pretty easy and settled into a nice rhythm.

I kept the 3:45 pace bunny in my sights and was feeling great. As I passed the 15km marker my watch was exactly – like, to the second – where it should have been.

I was feeling strong and happy and like this was going to be an awesome day.

I got a bit ahead of pace just before the half way mark, but I think that had a lot to do with that huge downhill out of UBC, so I was still feeling pretty good about my 'smart race, steady pace' goal.

That said, the downhill was tough. More so than I thought it would be. It definitely took a toll on my wonky ankle (which is the size of a baseball today), and I could feel a real hotspot on the outer edge of my foot that came back to haunt me a bit later (it turned out to be a nasty blood blister that somehow formed underneath a callous – weird, right?), but I was still feeling mostly good.

Anyway, I would say I felt pretty great up to about 25km and then it was just like my legs stopped wanting to turn over. At that point, I just reminded myself to keep running, and wasn't too worried about my pace slowing a bit. I actually still felt pretty good mentally at that point, but in reality the doubts were probably starting to settle in and plant the seeds for the struggle that was to come.

Just before 28k, I lost sight of the 3:45 pace bunny and gave in and walked for a moment up a little hill while I took a gel, but was able to get back to running again pretty quickly (although, much slower at that point).

My pace really started to fall as I climbed up the Burrard Bridge and the hotspot on my foot really started to get into my head. It felt like a dagger every time I stepped down and I was having a hard time ignoring it.

Not long after I got onto the seawall, the 3:50 pace bunny passed me. Seeing that stupid 3:50 sign trot by me like it was no big thing was a bit of a blow to the ego. I couldn’t deny it any longer – I now knew I was really falling off pace.

I tried to keep telling myself to “just keep running” and reminding myself that it was just a short run left and that 10k was no big deal, but unfortunately my walk breaks kept getting more and more frequent.

This might be a weird statement, but I wish I could say that I bonked or that I was hurt in some way, but I think mentally, I just gave in a bit. Don't get me wrong, everything on my body hurt (my hips and my ankle the most) and I got a really bad side stitch that I just couldn't get rid of, but I think that is probably just the way your body is going to feel after 30-35km of running eh?

Oh, and my ear – I got a really strange ear ache during this time. Like ear infection style throbbing. Anyone else ever experienced that? Tres strange.

But that’s beside the point. It was mental. I didn’t embrace the pain and instead, I let myself give in to it (which is kind of hard to admit).

Anyway, needless to say, the whole seawall was a struggle – both mentally and physically.

I had readjusted my goal time in my mind and now just wanted to get under 4hrs. It was less than 10k. I run 10k all the time! I actually still believed I was going to make it until about the 39k mark when the 4hr pace bunny passed me. I tried to stick with that group, but was fading hard and fast. I don’t know if you could call what I was doing running. A painful shuffle/hobble is more like it.

Those final few kms were ugly. I wanted to try and pick up the pace on the final stretch toward the finish line, but it didn’t happen. The very gradual false flat uphill kicked my butt. I think I was grimacing the whole way and am pretty sure I had my eyes closed for longer than I should have. But, you know, when I actually crossed the line, I didn’t care. I was done. I was happy to be done, and I actually didn’t feel like a failure.

I crossed the line in 4:06:21.
100/381 in my age group.
484/2145 female.
1486 overall.
I’ll take it.

p.s. The Vancouver Marathon course is beautiful (but tough). The volunteers and the spectators were awesome, and the weather was amazing (even if a bit hot). Also, it was hard ~ very hard. Have I mentioned that yet?