Saturday, November 30, 2013

*Insert sad-face here*

So it's been three weeks since the Road2Hope half, and I spent the week following the half a bit sore but got in a few runs, including one 14k with Sam and Emma along the beachfront on a gorgeous Saturday morning.  I will hold that run near and dear to my heart for awhile.....

After that run, I realized my hamstring was not getting better and really needed to be dealt with.   Initially, I figured a week off would make it as good as new, so I enthusiastically embarked on a week off and headed off to my hot yoga classes with an renewed sense of vigor, thinking I was doing what my hamstring needed most.  I forward-folded like there was no tomorrow and put everything I had into Extended Hand to Big Toe.   And I stretched and rolled that lacrosse ball under my rear like it was a Immunity Challenge on Survivor.

At the end of my week, I realized my hamstring was even worse.  It's not the hamstring per se, but the tendon(s) that attach my hamstrings to my ischial tuberosity/sit bones in my bum.  High hamstring tendonitis, or as I like to call it, a real pain in the ass.

I now realize that stretching my poor hamstring ligament was maybe, just maybe the worst thing I could have done?

So I did nothing for another six days.

Then last week, I went on my first run in 10 days.  It was cool but the first speakable snow had fallen over night, and I couldn't resist the temptation to get out there.  I had been mentally building an epic playlist for my "comeback" run and it was everything I'd hoped it would be.  Except my hamstring was not better.

Enter the following day, when I could barely touch my toes without buckling my right knee because my hammie was so tight.

So I did more reading.  And I faced reality.  I need to stop running and heal.  And then I curled up under the covers and had a big ugly cry.  Google "high hamstring tendonitis recovery" and you'll see why.  Recovery is anywhere from 2-8 months, but the average is about 5 months.

But surely, they're talking about the serious elite injuries, not just the regular folks like me.  I am (*blindingly?*) optimistic that with a month off, the tightness will be gone and I can get back to doing what I love to do so very, very, very much.

Yesterday was hard.  It was a glorious sunny morning, and I would have loved to hit the road.  I had a couple of more cries and I'm sure they won't be the last.

In the meantime, I will be starting some physio and will find out if a recumbent bike is possible.   There is the possibility of yoga too, so long as I behave and make sure I don't stretch out my hamstring.  The tendons near the sit bones apparently don't get a lot of blood flow, hence the slow healing, but are oh-so-easy to aggrevate and re-injure.

So, in the meantime, run well my friends.  I will still be reading your updates and cheering you on.  I will use your determination, drive and spirit as motivation to make this healing time as effective as it can be, so that I can return to this sport I love so much.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hamilton Road2Hope Half-Marathon

(So I really suck as a blogger because I decided not to bring my phone to the race, so I don't have many pics for you lovely readers.  All three of you.)

The night before:

After seeing the forecast for Sunday morning dip further into the negative (with windchill) it became obvious that a long-sleeve would be necessary.   After a  last-minute visit to Marshalls, I found a cute long-sleeve top and it was settled.  Bubblegum pink shirt with black LULU pacesetter skirt, and black PRO compression socks.  DONE.

Pre-race ink job by my kid

With the time-change on our side, I turned in at a decent time to ensure I'd get a good sleep. Of course, with my luck, I woke up early on my own at 4:01 am, and then knew full-well that there was no chance of falling back asleep until my scheduled alarm at 4:45.  So...I checked the Weather Network, had a little FB time, a little Twitter time, and then I figured I might as well get going.

Race Day:

Race-morning breakfast was my usual:  coffee with toasted bagel and cream cheese.   Packed a banana for pre-race.

I picked up Emma at 6, headed to Patty's, and then waited being picked up by Nicole and Sam (yes, crazy carpooling, but it worked!).    We drove to the finish line (I know. Confused yet?) and hopped on a shuttle bus to the start line.  I was dreading a massive wait/headache with the parking and shuttle situation, but that system totally worked.  Very well run and organized.   AND, we got shuttled up to a rec centre.  A HEATED building to hang out in for an hour.  So awesome.

We all hit the washrooms and then spent the next hour nervously walking around, looking for friends, stretching, going to the washrooms again. More nervous walking around.  I met a couple of fellow DMers and some other friends I hadn't seen in a while.  I never knew running would become so social for me!  This from the girl who ran for five years entirely alone, including my one and only marathon just last year.

Look at how clean and fresh we all are.  And warm.  That's about to change.

Shortly after it was time to line up and we were off.  The goal:  Stick With Patty and Emma.  We weaved our way through the mess at the start, and managed a 5:20 for the first kilometer.  Yay, we are on track!

Kilometres 1 - 5

1    5:20
2    5:17
3    5:11
4    5:10
5    5:17

And then....the descent.

Can I just mention before I go any further that the weather -- albeit was chilly at 0 degrees and -5 with the windschill -- was spectacular.  Brilliant sunshine. But windy.  And my feet felt like blocks of ice for the first 4k.  But I digress.

We began the run down the Red Hill Expressway (which was pretty cool! Awesome view down the valley and the Toronto skyline across the lake was so clear.  Had I had my phone I could have shown you. you will see by our splits, I probably wouldn't have whipped my phone out to take a pic going at those paces).

Kilometers 6 -9

6     4:48
7     4:44 *wheeeeee!*
8     4:58
9     5:07

Who let the crazies out on daypasses?
At 9km I took my first, and what ended up being my only, gel.  And got served my first lesson on running whilst gelling.  It is no easy feat.  Fortunately I'd followed Emma's lead and had stuffed my gel into my glove to warm up for the last km, so it was more viscous than semi-blob-like.  Those are technical terms, by the way.  But running and taking a gel is an art, and something I clearly need to work on in the future.  I didn't know whether to chew or swallow.  And I'm running like the wind.   And into it as well.  And then I tried to take a swig of water in between gel 'bites'.  And not choke or aspirate.  Fun times.

Yes, I bought this pic in high-res.  So I'm
not completely pilfering.

Kilometers 10 - 17

After seeing our DM friend Maggie at 9-ish km, the next 4km went by pretty quickly and easily.  I was surprised how easy 5:20 pace felt at that point.  OK, truth be told, it wasn't entirely easy, we had that headwind still.  And two hills, and that crazy brick-surface along the Red Hill Creek Trail that seemed to stump/slow most people down.  We barrelled up one hill, and then came down the other side of thet hill and then suddenly, it was HELLO QUADS!  I had forgotten about them, but they instantly reminded me they were still there and not too happy with me as we came down the other side of the trail hill.  Note to self: take an ibuprofen before bed tonight.

10   5:18
11    5:15
12    5:19
13    5:24
14    5:03 (Did it take that long for the gel to kick in?)
15    5:20
16    5:24
17    5:26

The Beach strip portion of the route was quite pretty with the crashing waves of Lake Ontario (Do you get the sense it was windy?) and sunshine.  But because it was an out and back (turn around near 17 km) it was a bit of a downer, knowing how close we were to the finish but had another 7 km to go.

Kilometers 18 - 21

Around 18k, I was looking at my garmin and did some mathing (which normally is not a good idea while running, especially while running a race) and realized our pace was not going to bring in a 1:49.  I looked at Emma and Patty a couple of times who were just behind me, and they told me to GO.  I felt strong and fast and enjoyed picking runners off, until I felt a wee bit woozy and realized I should take it down a notch or I might pass out.  That would not be good. 

18    5:15
19    5:14
20    5:10

Kilometer 21+

This is where I started to come apart.  I love finishing a race strong and blasting out the last 300 metres, but I did not have it in me today.  My last 200 meters were at a 5:23 equivalent pace, and I was not feeling the love as I came into the finishing corral.


But...I knew my final time was somewhere in 1:50:xx.   I fluctuated between wanting to just lay down and wanting to cry with happiness.  I do remember hearing the announcer call out my name and I think I may have forced some sort of attempt at a smile at the photog near the finish line.

Official Chip Time:   1:50:42
Official Gun Time:   1:51:37
Age group place:   50/148
Gender place:  229/1003

I never ever ever would have thought I could pull off a time like that.  I had just beat my last half-marathon time by SEVENTEEN MINUTES.    My last half was at the Mississauga in 2012 and I finished in 2:07.

I was in such disbelief about what I'd just done, that it really didn't sink in right away.  Without a doubt, I could not have done it without the training and friendship  from Emma and Patty, and the support and encourage from rest of my DailyMile friends. Having them beside me gave me a huge boost.  There were times during the race I know I would have just stopped to walk, or would have slowed down, had they not been beside me.  You girls are awesome.  I have been so inspired by the training and dedication of Sam, Nicole, Marina, Sarah, Maggie, Phil, Alan, Kim and many others on DM since I joined late last year, and it's completely changed how I run.  OK, enough with the sappy-face.


So I've just cleared the finish line and zombie-walk over to the people handing out medals, water and jackets.  I seem to recall staggering around, drinking a bit of water, and observing that my lips felt really weird, or were my lips feeling normal and did the rest of me feel weird?  I was pretty zapped.

Then I turned around and spotted Patty and Emma.  High fives all-around for PBs for all three of us.  Seriously, how awesome are we?

Instead of the usual foil blankets they hand out post-race, we got these white zip-up hooded jackets that were quickly likened to HAZMAT suits, and the Breaking Bad jokes followed shortly thereafter.

We find Sam and Nicole who finished ahead of us (congrats on your PB Nicole!) and discuss the runner who'd collapsed near the finish line.  I was clearly not paying attention to my surroundings as I didn't see him at the time, but they'd all seen parametics performing CPR on him.  (*Fortunuately, we later learned that day that he was alive and in hospital.  My thoughts go out to him and his family and I wish him well.*)

We met up with fellow Dailymiler Kim and her husband Adrian (who ran an awesome 1:29 half! PR too!), and posed for a post-race pic.

Hellz yes we wear skirts in sub-zero windchills.  And look damn good doing it.

Who forgot to turn her watch off at the finish?

After finding (searching for? Is this a trend with them?) Sam's car, Sam drove us back to our respective meeting spots and we all went our merry ways, likely in search of hot showers, food, and possibly some celebratory beverages.

The Recovery

I'm pretty sure this photo series sums up how I spent my evening:

The Next Day (insert dramatic music *duh...duh...DUHH*)

Oh legs, you funny funny tricksters.   I woke up and gingerly got up out of bed, and was surprised how no expletives came streaming out of my mouth.  The legs were a bit sore, but Hey!  It turns out I'm Wonderwoman and am impervious to lactic acid build up and muscle fatigue.   Yay me!

Ha.  Then lunch rolled around.  A good friend took me out for lunch, and when I went to get up, realized I needed some assistance.  Legs, what is going on?

Off to get a few shopping errands done.  And then:

Sorry kids, no teriyaki chicken for us tonight.  
Any type of reliance on my quads was just not going to happen.   And thus the new acronym was coined:  OMQ!  Oh My Quads.   I'm totally trademarking that one, by the way.

Clearly, I've been hit by  DOMS.  Here's hoping tomorrow's a better day and I won't need my kids to help me down the stairs.

So what's next, toots?

A. I've got to let this hamstring heal.  While it didn't give me much trouble during the race, the tightness and discomfort is still there.   I don't plan to stop running entirely, but let my weekly mileage drop for a few weeks and just enjoy running how/when I want, and not according to a plan.  There will be plenty of time for that soon enough.

B.  More hot yoga.   I can't ever have too much hot yoga.

C.  Strength training.  Core, arms, quads, hamstrings.  The whole enchilada.

D.  In December at some point, start building back my mileage in preparation for Spring Race Season 2014.   I have my first Around the Bay 30k in the books for March 30th, and my second full marathon in Mississauga on May 5th.

Due to time/travel commitments, I unfortunately won't be able to meet up with my DM girls at all as we train for these upcoming races over the winter, but I can't wait to see how the next six months of planning and preparing together goes.   I am so excited for Emma, training for her first full marathon, and I just feel bad for those unsuspecting people at Mississauga.  They have no idea what's coming their way.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Last minute thoughts before the race

So it's Monday.  Six sleeps.  I'm just a teensy bit irritable and am eating everything in sight.  I'm not in a peak training week, so this kind of thing just can't go on for any longer.  It's also days before Halloween, and I have already made the mistake of buying candy and opening a box.  And finishing a box.  Why didn't I do my usual Ask-my-neighbour-to-safekeep-the-candy-until-Halloween-because-we-have-no-self-control trick?

I got in an easy early 8k (5:42 pace) and was home before the kiddos got up.  Then it was off to my sports doc for one more visit before race day:  ultrasound and graston were on tap today.   I hit the yoga studio for a rather introspective hot yoga class shortly after. Lots of good thoughts and deep hip stretches happened. Yay for yoga.


More hot yoga.   (How much do I love that place??)  Hammie is a bit cranky today, and I've not been rolling/icing as diligently lately.  Probably not a good idea five days in from THE MOST IMPORTANT HALF-MARATHON OF MY LIFE.   Ok, I may be just a smidge overdramatizing, but I can't deny I'm putting some major pressure on myself to meet my goals this Sunday.

And that goal:  stay with Patty and Emma.  Can I really pull out a sub-1:50?

It's a fast half-marathon.  A big net-downhill, with a fast downhill zooooooom for 5k, which is awesome, but hard on your quads, and then you have to ask your legs to keep going for another 12+ km.  My plan:  run hard, pay for it later.  Don't think about the pace (yeah, right!), just run.

Until then, this brain has got to chill out.


8k and test-drive of possible race outfit.  Conclusion?  Undecided. Long sleeve?  Short sleeve? Gah!


Last 6k with 2k at race pace to remind those legs of mine what to do on Sunday.

I think my biggest obstacle will be my brain on this one.  And not vomiting out my lungs as we come tearing down the Red Hill Expressway, but I digress. I have to keep telling myself "I can" and not let any negative thoughts or doubts sneak in.  

Every race, I have one song that ends up being my motivator or theme-song.  That for months (or years after), every time I hear that song, I'll think of that race.

This one's going to be "Anything" by Hedley:

(Psst!  Lyrics are not safe for little ears)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Two weeks to go

(Small caveat:  since I'm new to blogging, I'll probably dork out and over-blog for a little while until the novelty wears off.  Bear with me.)


I've been having some problems with my right hamstring where it attaches to my glutes for a little while.  After some of my fastest speedwork last week, things got really uncomfortable. I skipped my Saturday long run out of fear I would just really injure myself.

So after three days off, I tested my legs out with an easy 8k this morning.  Things felt alright but the tightness and pain are still there in stretching. I headed off to my sport doc for advice and treatment. 

One of the treatments she used today was cupping -- a first first for me.  Small cups were attached (via suction) to the back of my thighs and then pulled along to break up the adhesions in my hamstrings.  I couldn't help but think of poor Westley in The Machine at the time.  (Bonus points if you know what movie I'm talking about)

Fortunately for me, it was only uncomfortable enough to make me break out into a full-body sweat.  Not even close to mostly dead.  Then some ultrasound, light, KT tape and instructions to ice and roll twice a day.

Fun times at chiro :)

Did you see what I did there?
Yes, that's a lacrosse ball.  Lacrosse must be french for rock-hard ball.

I ended off the night by going to a late-night hot vinyasa flow yoga class, and then headed home to bed.


If sitting on a freezing metal bench while watching my kids at the park constitutes icing a hamstring, then mission accomplished.  Second round of rolling and icing before bed.  I  took Dr. Emma's orders to try an ibuprofen to see if it helps with the inflammation.  We shall see tomorrow!


I dropped the kiddos off at school and headed out for a 10k at near HMP.  I wore my crops for the first time in ages with a long sleeve top, but wished for most of it that I'd been in a t-shirt.  It's that tricky time of year for dressing for us runners......dress too lightly -- you freeze and never warm up.  Dress too warm -- you get too sweaty and then get chilled.   Go ahead, call me goldilocks.  

Ran 10.6K in 57:03 (5:22 pace).  My hammie felt good to start, but was a bit cranky by the end.

I followed up with a  hot yoga sculpt class for extra punshiment.   Burpees, handweights and yoga in a 104-degree-heated room.  Can you say 'sweat-fest'?  I swore I'd never be able to use my triceps again after that class too.   Good times, good times.


A quick 6k with waaaaaay too much gear and clothing:  CRX crops, merino long-sleeve top, jacket, gloves and buff for ear/headband.   By 6k I was cooked, and then stripped off the jacket, only to freeze in the the headwind.  Clearly I need to remember how to dress in these Fall temperatures.


Day off running.   Still rolling and icing.   Less crunchy bits in the glutes.  This is good!


So this is how things were looking on Friday night:

As expected, the weather conditions were less-than desirable today, but meeting up with Emma and Patty to battle the elements for a 13k run made it much more tolerable.  I came home very wet and very cold, but this is why they invented hot showers.  And these: 

I got a sneak peak of what to expect on portions of the Road2Hope course next weekend.  Now if I could just get my friends at Environment Canada to arrange for good weather next week, we'll be good to go. 

In the meantime, someone top up my mug, pretty please?


Short 7k to round off the week.  That's 45k total for the week, and seven sleeps to go until race day.  I've just got three shorter runs planned for the week, with a chiro appt, daily rolling and lots of hot yoga to keep these legs happy and loose.  Now I just need to work on my brain.  Goal is 1:53 or better. Miracle goal would be keeping up with Patty and Emma as they aim for sub-1:50.  *gulp* 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Let me introduce myself....

And before I begin:  yes, this is likely the 2,298th running mom blog out there.  What can I say?

My name is Amy and I'm a mom to two super awesome kids.  And I love to run.

Currently, my job is to take care of said two super awesome children and I'm so grateful to have been able to be home with them for the last near-decade. But at some point in the next year or so it will be time for me to re-enter the workforce. I did love my job in my previous non-parental life and I look forward to figuring how to get back into it.  BUT, until then, I'm enjoying my days as a SAHM (most of time, although it has its moments, but what job doesn't?).  And I want to make the best of the time I've got this year to put into my running while I have the opportunity. All the while occasionally shirking my household duties and letting the dust-bunnies colonize the place, because hey, these training runs aren't going to run themselves.   Just kidding.  Sorta.

I ran my first full marathon at the Mississauga Marathon in May 2013.  Truthfully, I hadn't taken the training seriously enough and ended up running the race in pain and not feeling my best.  I finished in 4:38 but it wasn't a nice finish. I knew immediately afterward that I was going to need a do-over.

During the training though,  I met an amazing group of people through Daily Mile.  Their camaraderie and support were so inspiring.   My first face-to-face meeting with some DMers was the morning of the marathon.  Woohoo, no axe-murderers!  After I finished my marathon, I spent the next few months really training, racing and achieving paces and results I had no idea were even possible for me.  And acquiring more gear such as garmins, spibelts, compression socks and running skirts.  A lot of this was in thanks to my peeps at Daily Mile.  Especially the skirts.

Quick shout-out to the Burlington Skirt Brigade

Today was the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon and like a mother hen, I waited with iphone in hand, watching my Facebook updates, looking for my friends' results and times.  And then to read their amazing races stories with PBs all over the place.  This is one of the many things that I love about running.  The setting of goals that seem impossible at first, and then the meeting, and sometimes smashing, of them.  SO AMAZING.

Today was also my son's first 5k race.   He's only nine years old, so it's kind of a big deal to me.  Not wanting to embarrass him at the finish line with his buddy, I held back the tears with a lump in my throat as I congratulated him.  I know what running has done for me (and I really only discovered the runner in me six years ago), so I'm so happy that he has this sport to lean on as he grows up.

So naturally this afternoon, because I was feeling all warm and fuzzy and inspired, I went and did this:

Then I felt a little light-headed and resisted the urge to curl up and rock back and forth.

Why??  I've done this before!  I know what I need to do and know what to do better next time.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?

But it's that Blerch again.  Sneaking into my head already, whispering, "You really think you can pull off another one??  Heh-heh-heh".

But what I also have is the support of my family and friends, and awesome running buddies to train with.  I also have those aforementioned super cute running skirts, so there's that in my corner too.

So bring on the Road2Hope half-marathon in two weeks, my first Around the Bay 30k in March, and the Mississauga Marathon in May.

Here's to the next six months of training.