Sunrise.

My son turned 4 this week and we are having his birthday party on the weekend. There is lots to do and I just had to get a run in before the weekend.  Normally I would run home from work but the husband asked that I get home as soon as possible so we could tidy up and that’s when I remembered that I have to take the cat to the Veterinarian tonight.

What’s a girl to do?

I set my alarm for 6:25 am.  Husband thought I was a little nutso for doing so and I’m sure he placed a little bet to himself that I would just roll over and ignore it.  But I didn’t! I had a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt and a glass of water and headed out.

I felt great for the first 10 minutes.  Then I realized how tired I was and had to walk more than I normally do, but I soldiered on and finished my 5 km in a decent time.

Overall, it was really nice to get out early and get the run done.  I think I may make a weekly habit of doing this early in the morning.  It certainly frees up the rest of the day to do other stuff, like cleaning my house.

Changing Course

My regular readers will notice that the photo at the top has changed. I decided that I wanted to shift the focus of my little corner of the blogging world to incorporate all aspects of my life. I am a doctor and a wife and mother but running, as well as fitness, has become a big part of my life and I want to be able to share that here.  I felt that I was starting to write more about the running and wasn’t sure it fit in so I decided to fix that.  So for now I am still the Urban Dr. Mom (but there’s much more to me than meets the eye).

The weather has finally started to look more like spring so I dusted off the bike and rode into work today. I have missed riding my bike – it’s a great way of getting some cross-training done. My route is quite scenic and avoids cars and traffic.  It has two big hills – one at the end near the office and one at the other end near home. I rode them both today but my legs were fighting me every step of the way. Still, after not riding for almost 6 months I’m a little surprised I made it!   I guess all that running is paying off!

Owning It.

I am still riding the high from my race. I feel like a little hypocrite though. I said many times to many people, that I wasn’t going to ever enter a race and I really thought I wouldn’t. It’s not that I’m not a competitive person – I certainly am, and I’m sure others would agree.  I just never felt very competitive in an athletic sense.  Part of the reason I never considered a race is because I always thought that’s just why people run – to train for something.  I have never felt that I needed a race as an end-goal to run. I’ve always been pretty disciplined and to keep things interesting, I started setting little goals – run 5 km, get up to 7 km, now do 10 km, etc. My friends would also try to change my mind but I was pretty stubborn – I think I wanted to be that one person who didn’t run a race, I don’t know.  I’m also not a person who likes to run with a group.  One or two people, sure I’ve done that and it’s fun; but running with a few hundred strangers?  Yeah, no thanks.

I discovered early on that I just like going for a run to clear my head, to get some exercise and to keep fit. But then I started getting hurt and quickly learned  that in order to keep running and avoid injury I had to do some other kind of cross-training.  Over the past few months I started doing more weights at home, and especially weighted quad sets, in order to get stronger legs.  The extra little bit has started to pay off –  I am running a little faster, I recover more quickly and have had less injuries.

I’m going to own that hypocrisy now. I kind of, sort of really liked running with all those people.  I thought it was pretty cool that there were spectators along the route ringing cowbells and encouraging us.  It was even inspiring to see the half-marathoners encouraging us as we approached the last kilometer of the 5k race.  “You’re almost there! Run! Run!”  I’m getting chills now just thinking about it. I thought that was pretty amazing.

And let’s be real here – I’ve had three children and weigh 20 lbs more than I did the day I got married.  Pregnancy and childbirth change a woman’s body, more than I ever realized.  While I would love to be the weight I was on my wedding day, the way my body shape has changed, I would probably look really unhealthy and anorexic.  A more realistic goal was to eventually get down to my last pre-pregnancy weight.  That has proven to be more difficult than I first imagined and I’m not even sure it’s ever going to happen.  So the next goal I set was to fit into a particular pair of jeans that I was wearing before I got pregnant with my third child.  I have tried to ignore the scale (so much easier said than done), but when there’s one a few feet from my office, it gets hard.

Over the past several weeks I have a number of patients (all women, and all fairly new moms) comment on how fit I’ve been looking and I’ve heard several times, “Wow, doc, have you lost weight?”  Usually I reply with a quick and embarrassed,  “Oh, gee, thank you”, and ask what brings them in in the hopes of redirecting.  More often than not, my question gets ignored and I am asked how I do it, how do I find the time with work and having 3 children? While I really try not to spend the first few minutes of their appointment discussing myself, I think it’s important for some patients to hear this.  My first answer is always that I have a stay-at-home-baby-daddy.  Without his support and encouragement and his sacrifice (though he would never call it that) to stay home with the kids, a lot of things might be different.  (I can’t imagine what pick ups and drop offs would be like if we both worked, not to mention finding the time to exercise?!) The second part of my answer is that I run. It’s the purest form of exercise I have ever done and it’s quick and cheap.  I run home from work at least once, maybe twice a week; husband and I alternate running on the weekend. If I go on Saturday, he goes Sunday or vice versa.  Then I always get asked if I diet. The answer is always no.  We try to eat healthy during the week with salads, veggies and fish or chicken but we often splurge on the weekend with steaks and other fun foods (ie chicken wings, pizza, fries, beer and wine).  I know what my weaknesses are and its primarily dessert.  We don’t have dessert after dinner anymore.  I might have something sweet after lunch at work but I justify that with a run home afterwards.  So basically what I tell patients is that I run so that I can still eat what I want.  Now, I realize that the majority of people can’t do that, so I continue by saying that eating healthy, well-balanced, portion-controlled meals and having some form of daily exercise (even if it’s walking or taking the stairs instead of the elevator) can go a long way to keeping fit and staying healthy.  Fad diets never seem to work long-term. They can be taxing on one’s system and the rigidity of some of these diets just can’t be sustained over time.

I’m fortunate enough that I’ve never had to resort to a diet, unless cutting back on dessert is dieting. For me, running works and for now I’m going to stick with it.  And maybe I’ll run a few races a year for fun because why not?  My ultimate goal (and yes, I realize it’s a bit shallow) has always been to wear my favorite jeans again.  Despite what the scale may say, I have reached that goal. And running got me there.

 

 

 

A Race Virgin No More.

Well for someone who swore they would never run a race, I popped that cherry today and then some!

It was a beautiful winter day, one of the warmest I’ve run in fact, a balmy -6°C (-10°C with wind chill).  I met up with L and her friends at the designated area inside the performing arts center. Honestly I felt a bit weird being among all those runners. They looked all way more qualified than me to be running a race.

After a few quick bathroom visits (only one for me!),  it was time to walk to the start line. There were several of the half-ers doing some warming up and I saw one with something like a tube coming out of their shirt and asked L what the heck that was – apparently it was a camelback! Brilliant!

We got to the start line and there were a few hundred ahead of us. Next to where we were standing was a mom and her son. I asked the boy how old he was as he looked like my daughter’s age.  He said he was six and this wasn’t his first race.  Um … okay.  Mom said he would finish under 45 minutes, maybe 40 minutes.  Finally, we heard the countdown and started walking up towards the start and off we went. Before the race, L and her friend said I was going to set the pace and by the end of the first kilometer we were under well under 7:00/km which was just fine with me though it was a bit faster than I wanted so I deliberately slowed my pace a bit and ran most of the time just a few strides behind them. There was a bit of chatting but by 2 km I stopped talking and just focused on the road and my breathing. L asked if I wanted to walk and I said no. And then we saw the leader of the 5 km race running towards us on the other side of the road.  I looked up his time – he finished the run in 15 minutes.

Suddenly we reached that the halfway point, made our turn and headed back.  Already I was sensing this was going to feel like the fastest 5 km I’d ever run even if my time didn’t reflect it.  At 3 km I was asked again if I was walking and I said no. I did slow down a bit as the girls got ahead of me a little but they slowed for me so we were still running together. Then we saw the 6-year-old running just ahead of us as the 4 km marker approached and he stopped to walk with his mom. As we made our turn, about 200 meters from the finish L said “We are gonna beat that 6-year-old. Let’s go!!!!” And we hauled ass to the finish.  I tried to look for my husband and kids but realized I needed to focus on not falling over my feet.  I crossed the finish line just a second or two after my friend.  A minute later, I heard my daughter calling for me and turned towards the sidewalk and found her.  I ran over to her and hugged her across the barriers and then she gave me the medal she made for me.  It was a special moment I will never forget.  A few minutes later we picked up our real medals.

The official time of 33:33.9. A personal best for sure (especially since there weren’t any walk breaks!)

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Seeing my daughter at the end.

 

The two medals.

The two medals.

My yummy post-run dinner. Baked chicken with pesto and grilled veggies.

My yummy post-run dinner. Baked chicken with pesto and grilled veggies.

No Going Back Now.

Um…   Shit just got real, yo!

I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve run 5km, but suddenly I feel like “Oh my God, what if I can’t finish?”

I never ran track or took part in any group/team sports.  I did some dance and ballet as a kid and played the piano, that’s about it.  I remember getting really nervous before a piano recital or exam (I made it to grade 11 Royal Conservatory).  Before most exams in university and medical school I would need a bathroom visit at least once or twice before walking into the examination room.  My running friends say they have “tummy” issues all the time before a race and I’ve suggested they take an Immodium the night before a race to calm the nervous bowel.  I have no idea if that’s going to happen to me. Should I take one just in case?

I’ve been getting emails daily, sometimes twice a day, from the race coordinators and every time I see it in my inbox, my heart skips a beat.  Why am I doing this?!  I’ve got nothing to prove.  Is it going to be fun or am I going to be a ball of nerves? I have no idea what to expect!

Gah!

I just want to wake up and have it be March 2.

Hell Froze Over.

I signed up for a race.

My friend posted a picture of a race medal that was quite pretty. I foolishly commented on the picture and a day later I found myself registering for a 5km race.

What the heck?

For 2 years I said I was never going to run a race. I don’t need to race. I don’t need the medals. I just love running for the fitness and the rush I get when I finish.  I never felt the need to train for a race to keep me motivated, I just run because I want to run.

Yet, here I am, registered for a 5k race in 10 days.

My friend Jedi-mind-tricked me into doing it. She really did.  “It’ll be fun.” “No pressure!” “Don’t make me do it alone!”

htd02

 

Husband says I had better win it.  Ha ha!  As if! (He’s joking.)

What have I gotten myself into?

 

 

The Agony of Accomplishment

I hurt today.

I knew it would hurt to get out of bed the moment I stretched out my legs.

My left knee at the fibula where the IT band inserts.

Both calf muscles and the Achilles’ tendons.

The right lateral thigh along the entire length of the IT band.

My deep, deep core muscles.

They were all mad at me for what I put them through yesterday.

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After a self-imposed rest of 3 days due to inclement weather and a broken furnace, I set out for a long run. I’ve been increasing my distance by 1 km every 2 weeks, so this week had me facing 13 km. With all the snow that fell I knew that only the major streets’ sidewalks would be clear enough to run on so I headed out and ran to the office. I tried to take it easy as this was supposed to be a LSD but after each kilometer clicked by it became clear that I was running at my 5km pace. (I can hardly believe I can even say that!). I reached the office and kept going for another 1.5 km. By the time I had to turn back I was getting pretty tired. I briefly considered hopping on transit but remembered I didn’t bring my wallet or any loose change. I allowed myself a few extra 100 meter walk breaks and thank goodness for traffic lights. I was able to catch my breath and stretch out the legs.

I made it home and felt like collapsing. My legs were jello and I was dripping in sweat. I drank a lot of water and made a cheese omelet even before I got all my gear off. I was starving. I stretched afterwards but obviously not enough considering how my legs felt this morning. A few hours later the dreaded migraine came on with a vengeance; a sign that I will need a water belt and gels for my next long run. I think I am going to wait another week before increasing my distance again. My legs definitely need a break. For the next few weeks I will stick to 5-10 km and work on getting my 5 km pace even faster.

Oh and just for fun here’s a shot of me as I ran by a storefront window. I’m pretty sure this was around 9 km. I’m surprised I’m not completely hunched forward!

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A Great Start

I mentioned previously that I joined another blogger in a 1000km running challenge. We are going to try to run 1000km in 2015. Breaking that down means that I would have to average about 80km per month.  That seemed a lot to me, especially with the on and off injuries I had in 2013.

Well let me say that January has been a fantastic month for running.  I have incorporated weighted quad sets (20 lbs) on the off days and have noticed a huge difference in the strength of my legs.  The knee doesn’t ache anymore and the shin splints are gone.  My speed has improved as well.

The first half of January saw me running a series of 5km runs (from work to home).  One of my goals this year was to run 5km in 30 minutes. I haven’t quite gotten there yet but the last few 5km runs I have broken my own personal best record twice, in the same week!

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I’ve only done two long slow distance runs this month.  The first was the 11.1 km a few weeks ago.  Yesterday was the second.  My online running group suggested that I try to incorporate one LSD per week to help me reach my goal of the sub-30 minute 5km. I didn’t tell them this but one of my other goals for the year is to run a half-marathon distance.  Again, I’m not signing up for any races so there isn’t really a time constraint, other than I have 11 months to reach this distance.

So while the kids and I were visiting my in-laws, I took advantage of the extra childcare and set out on a long run in a city that isn’t all that familiar to me.  I mapped out a 10km route but got a bit distracted by the scenery (million dollar homes along the waterfront).  It was really cold and my cheeks were frozen by the half-way point.  I wanted to quit several times.  I needed a few extra walk breaks, not for my legs, but for my breathing and thank goodness for traffic lights.  The ability to catch my breath made it easier to keep going.  It was a very mentally challenging experience and one I am proud of accomplishing.

photo(32)That final run of January took me very close to 80 km.  Didn’t quite make it but that’s okay.  I’m just happy I can run pain-free again.

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One Quarter!

I ran a quarter marathon yesterday. Actually, it was a little bit further than that. 11.11 km.

!!!!!!!!!!!!

All of my runs this month so fat have been 5 km.  My legs have been feeling really strong and the nagging knee ache during a run seems to have disappeared.  Even the ache and burn in my shins is settling down. I have no idea why. It’s not like I’m suddenly doing all this other cross training! I stretch after each run, do some basic core abdominal work and finish off with a 1 minute plank. Yet over the past week or so my legs seem to be liking the runs. I can’t tell you how nice it is to go for a run and not immediately feel something start aching and keep aching for the entire run.

When I started out on the run yesterday I headed out to do the 7.5km route I had done back in December. The weather was a balmy 3C. I decided that this was going to a longer run so I tried to keep my pace comfortable. I ran for 1km then walked for 100m. At the 3km mark I decided to keep going along a new route that I thought would make the run end up more around 8km.

Then something happened around 6km I started to zone out and felt like I was on auto-pilot. I remember thinking that this must be what the long distance marathoner experiences on their runs only for them it starts at 30km! Haha!

Suddenly doing 10km seemed a no-brainer so I kept going and at 8km I considered adding an extra loop. Next thing I knew I hit 10km and was at least a kilometer from home. On this final walk break I really felt my legs fighting me; it felt like I had heavy lead pipes for legs but I told myself I could do it and by the time I reached my driveway and stopped my Nike+ app, I had completed 11.11km.  I was pretty impressed with my splits as well.

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This morning my legs were a bit sore but there wasn’t any pain and that is even more encouraging.  I feel like I’m still on that runner’s high and even flirted with the idea of going out for a very short 2-3 km recovery run tonight.

Damn, I love running.

Road to A Thousand.

This weekend I had back to back 5 km runs.  It wasn’t planned at all.  I ran yesterday in -11ºC (-22ºC windchill) and had zero knee pain.  This after a particularly weird week where I had one day of excruciating anterior knee pain so bad I could barely walk which disappeared the very next day.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve had any run in the past month or two where my knee didn’t bother me.  In any event, the knee felt great yesterday and I considered a short run today as the weather warmed up to a balmy -3ºC (-7ºC windchill).  As I got going, I realized the knee was feeling pretty darn good, so I aimed for 5 km and accomplished my goal.

Two runs in a row with no knee pain.  What gives?

Honestly, I have no idea.  All I know is that it feels damn good to go for a run and not feel pain.  Haven’t experienced that in a long, long time.

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I accepted a challenge from another blogger to run 1000 km in 2015.  Consider I only ran 640 km last year, this is a tall, tall order.  I had set a goal for myself of 750 km.  I’ll be happy with that; but a thousand?  Stay tuned!