It was a difficult year, to say the least. A few days into January, my father had his first fall and we realized that my mom probably wouldn’t be able to care for him at home for much longer. Over the span of a few months, there were more falls, more calls to 911 for assistance to get him up off the floor, and my brother and I convinced our mother that a retirement home was the next step.
I thought I was handling things well but by June the writing was on the wall for him. Darkness, the black hole of depression, started to consume me and I was failing everyone.
The year ended better than it started. I worked my ass off at two jobs and kept very busy mostly to avoid thinking about it all. I know that doesn’t sound like a good thing, but really, it was. The only downside was that I basically stopped running.
But 2018 is done now, and so is the extra work and on new years’ day, I went for a goddamn run. It was glorious. The sun was shining and despite the chill in the air from the cold wind, I think I was smiling inside the whole time.
Hello, 2019. It’s nice to see you.
This weekend I ran my 3rd half marathon race. Grossly undertrained, I might add. My longest run had been 17k a few weeks prior and I would be lucky if I got one training run in during the week. I considered switching my bib to the 10k but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Finished another half just sounds better, right?!
I had no time goal other than to finish but if I’m honest with myself I knew I wanted to finish under 3 hours and certainly under 2:50. By some miracle or more likely sheer force of stubborn will, I crossed the finish line in 2:46:58. A minute slower than my previous effort last October and almost 10 minutes slower than my debut race in 2015.
About 10km into the race the outer aspect of my left knee started talking to me.
ITB. I haven’t experience ITB pain in several years. Uh oh. Not a good sign. A sign of undertraining in my opinion and poor post run stretch and foam roller etiquette.
But really, should I have expected anything different?
Oh and I probably needed new running shoes 6 months ago.
Now, on a training run I would pause my Garmin and stretch out my hip flexors but there was no way I was stopping on course. I knew that if I stopped moving to stretch I may not get started again. So, I just took extra walk breaks after 15 km or so. Before that I was sticking pretty well to my 1 km run and 100 meter walk intervals. After 15 km it was more like run 400 m, walk 200 m and repeat.
Looking around me, though, I saw other runners struggling too. I asked if they were okay. One runner had his hamstring seize up. For another it was her ankle. Others were just walking. Eventually I found the power walker I had been chasing unconsciously for most of the race and passed her. Yes! Not gonna lie. That was pretty awesome. All told when I crossed the finish line and before they gave me my medal, I burst into emotional, cathartic tears.
Last weekend, I ran a little race in my hometown along with 25,000 other people. I ran this one before, back in 2015. It was a half-marathon.
My training cycle took a huge nosedive in August when I ran too much while on vacation at the cottage. When I returned to running in the city, my legs were very mad at me. The nagging shin splints returned and I had to take a big break. I ran only once a week for the last month before the race. I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to finish, let alone finish it standing up.
The longest training run was 16 km and I did that 3 weeks before the big day. My friend who is a triathlete told me that it was better to be 10% under-trained than 1% overt-rained. She ended up being right.
Race day arrived and I was a nervous wreck. I arrive on course early to support a new friend of mine as he completed his 5th (of 6) marathons of the weekend (that story is for another post). See, I joined this running team last spring, supporting someone who raises money and awareness for childhood survivors of sexual abuse and trauma. Through this team I have met a group of remarkable people all who like to run. Most of them run a hell of a lot faster than me, but they are an inspiring group of people and I am lucky to have found them.
I ran with one of these new friends for my half marathon. He was running the marathon and didn’t want to go out too fast, so I asked him if he wanted to run my pace with me and he did. We had a fantastic time. It was so nice to run with someone and be distracted from the fact I was trying to run 21.1 km.
In the end, I ran a good race and I felt great. Sure, my hips started getting tight at 9 km and the balls of my feet starting aching around 17 km. All of that was expected. Nothing actually hurt too badly, so I knew I could finish it.
I ran it for me – to challenge my mind, body and spirit. I didn’t beat my previous time but I knew I wouldn’t.
I was almost in tears when I finished. I just wanted to cross the finish line standing up and I did.
I ran for my dad. He has prostate cancer, and the previous week we got word that his radiation treatment worked and he was cancer free. I raised $500 for Prostate Cancer Canada prior to the race.
I ran for my classmate, colleague and friend who was murdered last year by her husband. I wear the purple armband that I wore at her funeral. I will wear it for every race until her murderer is convicted. My friend was a runner. She always supported my running on social media. I ran for her because she can’t run anymore.
I am a day late in reporting in, but Monday got away from me.
I found a funny mole on my husband’s back over the weekend so that meant I had to get him in to see the Dermatologist on Monday morning to have it removed. Thankfully, the dermatologist didn’t think it was bad but took it off anyway.
But back to Sunday. I finally got out for my long run in the mid-afternoon. I headed east for the first time in forever and ran out 3.5 km and back. 7 km done! The wind was in my face on the way out and to my back on the way home and somehow I ended up with a few negative split kilometers by the end.
Overall pace was a bit faster than the last two weeks and I felt it in my legs a bit. I have to remember to try to keep these longer runs slower!
After a wonderful evening with my best friend and her partner, after eating prime rib and Yorkshire pudding and 3.5 bottles of wine among us, I woke up Sunday morning with a slight hangover and a tummy that was not happy about all the food. I hate to get graphic but I had a very upset tummy that morning, well actually, more like in the middle of the night, reminiscent of the stomach flu but thankfully no vomiting.
Remember, hubby and I have been on a healthy eating kick. We have small dinners of protein and veggies, no dessert and no booze. My system clearly didn’t appreciate the high fat and alcohol all at the same time. So Sunday morning came and I was like, “Long run? Not a chance.”
Instead we took the kids out and ended up at an aquarium store. A couple of hours later, we came home with a companion for our mama crayfish, a new aquarium for the two and a fire eel!!!!
Mama crayfish is the red/orange one. Royal blue crayfish is her new companion. The rainbow pebbles were chosen by our daughter.
We found the eel hiding under this rock a few hours after putting him in the tank. He is a bottom dweller and likes to hide. I think his little snout sticking out is super cute.
So it was around 5:30pm when we were done setting up the homes of our new family members and I decided it was now or never to run. So I suited up and forced myself to go out. I’m so glad I did. Though it was super slow, it felt great to be back out there pounding the pavement. I didn’t increase the distance too much, I had planned 6.7 km (10% increase from last week), but finished at 6.5 km due to general fatigue. Still, it’s in the books and I feel good about it overall.
In an effort to blog more often I decided to make Mondays my accountability day, specifically in regards to the weekly long run. So, every Monday from now on, I will post about the long run I did the Sunday before.
Now, I am by no means a great runner but over the past two years I have seen the benefit of incorporating a weekly long run into my schedule. One of my major goals for 2017 is to run more consistently (ideally injury free!) and maybe, just maybe run a spring half-marathon.
So yesterday was the first Sunday that I felt well enough to start the long runs again. It was only 6 km but it was enough. I started out slow and kept it slow – for me that’s a pace between 7:40-8:00 min/km. I was able to stick to my 1 km run: 100 m walk for most of run and only stopped to jog on the spot for a couple of traffic lights.
It was very cold, -9˚C without the wind, and with the wind, well if felt more like -15˚C. I bundled up with a balaclava, a toque and a fleece neck warmer. I had winter running pants on underneath windbreaker track pants, a long sleeved winter running top with a short sleeve as well. My fleece lined running jacket rounded out the outfit and I was off.
Overall it was a pretty decent run. I kept warm for the most part and the sun shining certainly helped. I completed 6.1 km in 47:37 for an average pace of 7:43 min/km. Not too bad for the first long run of 2017.
Let’s just say 2015 hasn’t been the greatest year for running.
I missed most of the winter running due to family issues. My dad got sick and life got busy. And I got lazy, let’s be perfectly honest. After the 1/2 marathon, one year ago today actually, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. But that race really tired me out and physically my body needed a break even if my mind wouldn’t listen. I got shin splints again and benched myself over Christmas. With my dad’s illness, it was hard to get motivated to run and when you don’t run regularly, the -17C temperatures certainly don’t invite you out. So, I sat on my couch. I cross-stitched and ate what I wanted and gained back a few pounds.
Finally, I got some motivation and started running again in February or March, at this point it’s all a blur. It was literally like starting from scratch. Suddenly I was slow again and dealing with stupid aches and pains. I had stopped the weight training as well and everything seemed harder.
Race-wise, I made the decision earlier in the year not to repeat any race I had done in 2015. I planned all new races. I did the Ride for Heart 5K, the Waterfront 10K, the Womens’ 10K, the Beaches Jazz Run 5k and the Toronto 10-miler (16K). None of these races were personal bests, or personal records for that matter. I just went out and had fun. My training has sucked on and off all year. Shin splints, groin aches, work-life, you name it there was a reason why I didn’t run regularly.
My weight has creeped up a bit this last month or so as I had to bench myself, yet again, due to wickedly painful posterior shin splints. It’s such a constant battle. I took two weeks off before my last race, the Scotiabank 5k. My shins felt okay and since I had started cross training on the stationary bike, I hadn’t lost any ground on my fitness. Looking at the race photos, the weight gain is super obvious to me and it really bugs me. No one else would probably notice it but we are our own worst critics.
I decided today, on this 1 year anniversary of my first 1/2 marathon, that I will run that race again next year. Come hell or high water. I am going to do my utmost to keep up with cross-training and weights. Wish me luck!
I’ve started training for a 16 km (10 mile) race. It’s in mid-September and since the half-marathon last fall, I have really fallen off track with my cross training. I don’t think I picked up a weight in 6 months and my running took the toll. Everything just felt harder to do and the muscles got soft.
After the three races I ran in June I felt like I was finally back on track, so I signed up for the 16km race. I also started weight training again as part of my cross training. We don’t have that many weights at home and I don’t have time to go to a gym (you know, full time job and 3 kids) so I have to work with what I’ve got. Husband and I have talked for years about converting our garage to a gym and maybe one day we’ll do it. In the meantime, I’m happy to use my free weights. I know it isn’t a lot of weight but for what I need for it to do it’s working well.
This time around I am also going to make more of an effort to incorporate hill training and speed workouts. Hill training involves running up a hill repeatedly (fun, right?). My first session last week saw me do three hill repeats. The hill is about 200 m long and I have no idea what the incline is but it felt steep. I’ve heard the hills should be 400 m long but again, working with what’s in my neighborhood. Every week I will try to add 1-2 more repeats.
As for the speed workouts, this is a warm up of 5 min followed by 7-8 sets of 1 min sprint and 2 min recovery periods, ending with a 5 min cool down. Ideally I would like to see these runs clocking in around 7 min/km or less. This time last year I was running pretty consistently under 7 min/km except on the long runs. I know my body can do it, it just needs to remember how and that’s why I think the weights will help.
Last week I had a specialized physical exam as part of my training for a new part-time job at a medical facility. This included an exercise stress test and body fat analysis. It was very interesting being on the other side of the examination table. They calculated my BMI at 23.1 with a 28% body fat composition. I was pretty happy with those numbers, even though I know they don’t mean a hell of a lot. Still, the message I got was that running is working for me. I’m back in a good space with running and I hope it keeps up.
Hard to believe it’s almost the end of June. There’s been a lot going on in my world, most of it pretty good.
My dad is on the mend from his kidney stone issues and has remained pretty stable with respect to his memory and the Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Two rounds of infection, two general anesthetics, mild delerium and his memory testing was the same! Unbelievable really. The thing with AD is that the patient kind of remains oblivious to the reality around him. He recognizes that his memory has declined but he doesn’t understand anymore the impact it has on everyone else, his wife especially. If there is any blessing with AD it is that the patient loses their higher executive, frontal lobe functioning early. It is quite the opposite for the family. My mom is a strong woman though and she is managing pretty well; she goes to her weekly support group, my brother works from their place once a week and she visits the kids when it gets too much. I wish there was more I could do for her and for my dad.
As for me, I’ve done two races this month with decent results, given how awful the winter was with my running. I have another 10K race this weekend and I am not expecting to do any better than 1:15 but that’s okay. It’s an opportunity to have some fun, run on the highway and get a cool T-shirt and medal!
I’m starting a new part-time job next month in addition to my family practice. It is an opportunity I sought out and I am excited about. It is an opportunity to grow as a physician, learn about a different model of care and will be a great change of scenery for me. I’ll be a lot busier, working 5 days a week (instead of 4) but I think I’m up for the challenge. The future of primary care in my province is looking hazy right now and I am a little worried. We have been without a contract with our Government for over two years and they are planning on implementing change to how primary care is delivered without consulting the front line workers, ie me! I felt it was time to start looking at other opportunities where my work is actually appreciated.