Week Four: STWM Training

When I received my first week of training from my coach I was apprehensive about Mondays being a rest day. Historically, getting up and out early for a run on a Monday has always been how I’ve managed to feel good about starting my week. Anything else just doesn’t feel right. With my long runs now on Sundays instead of Saturdays though I am quickly starting to appreciate the rest on Monday. I now start my week with a positive focus on nutrition, hydration and resting for the week to come.

Tuesday I was scheduled for a 6k tempo run. I got a late start on this one, wasn’t feeling well and was still trying to navigate work issues (insert a myriad of excuses here) but still somehow managed to get out the door. Dragging my butt cost me in the weather department as I got caught in the rain (this seems to be a recent trend). I have to say that there is something oddly mystical that feels transcendent when running in the rain. Fine, that may be an over exaggeration but at the very least it makes you run faster…tempo run complete!

I must say that Wednesday tried to cut me off at the knees and the thought of heading downtown to meet with the Running Room group was the last thing on my mind. So, I missed it but I’m pretty darn proud of the fact that I didn’t miss my run. I needed a solo run and thats exactly what I did….10k of uninterrupted bliss! In my Garmin training log this run is appropriately entitled “Blessed to Run” as it was one of the runs that reminds you why we keeping lacing up.

By Thursday I had gotten out of my own head and made my way downtown to meet up with Roger and was glad I did. It was him and I for most of an 8k run which always pushes me a little harder then I might push myself. We also worked on running downhill…you wouldn’t think this to be an issue and something requiring practice (I mean what could be easier then running down a hill) but it was VERY helpful!

Fridays focus was cross training and Saturday was rest, hydrate and fuel for Sundays long run. With an unexpected trip out of town on Sunday I set my alarm for 5am, woke up, scarfed half a bagel and half a banana, dressed and was out the door by 5:30 for a scheduled 20k. This was by far my best long run to date….but I was still happy to see the city marker sign when I was headed back into town 🙂
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Week Three: STWM Training

When I first decided to run STWM and mapped out a 19 week training plan I felt like that was such a LONG time…certainly more then enough training time. Now I’m sitting down to write my third week training recap and I already feel like the weeks are moving by way too quickly! I am becoming acutely aware that EVERY single run serves a very distinct purpose yet at the same time I am trying really hard to not lose the joy of running. I do have lots of weeks to go and would hate to burn out before even stepping foot on the start line.

There are two ways (so far) that I’ve decided to try and keep the fun in running: (1) thoroughly take advantage of my rest days. This is something most runners struggle with but I am quickly learning the importance of utilizing this time wisely, and (2) schedule some lower k races that serve more as training runs then timed events to just have fun with other runners.

Monday and Friday were cross training days and Saturday was a true rest day…I focused on hydrating for Sundays long run.

On Tuesday I had signed up for the Canada Day 10k. Supporting a home town race was my way to give back and spend some time with fellow runners just out to have a good time. However, mother nature had a different agenda! Standing on the start line I felt the first drops of rain and about 1k into the race the skies opened up and didn’t let up. I’ve run in rain…this was gailforce wind, thunder, lightening and furious rain! It certainly wasn’t a PR but it was an interesting time.

Wednesday and Thursday I logged 10 and 8k respectively with the Running Room marathon clinic working on some tempo runs.

My coach had scheduled 18k for Sunday and given the humidity the week before I paid extra attention hydrating and fuelling for this weeks run. There are many things I appreciate about having a coach but one thing in particular is not having to plan my routes. For my LSD runs he gives me a map and off I go….and if I could just manage to keep this map without losing it things would be perfect. Oddly enough this week I managed to lose TWO maps (don’t ask)! Positive insight from this week….I’m growing more confident in my longs runs as I see progress over time. This is very exciting! Take a minute and let me know how your training is going. Happy running!

Week Two: STWM Training

Well for the most part, with the exception of running a few too many k’s, I followed my training plan to the letter this week. Monday and Friday were rest days for me so the week started with a 6k (tempo) run on my own Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday I was with the Running Room marathon clinic for a 10k (tempo) and 6k turned into 8k (steady run) respectively. Saturday I ran another 7.5k on my own and Sunday I was back with the group for a 16k LSD. Thanks to the clinic this was my first solid week of group runs….

I have recently come to the realization that years of running solo has deprived me from the social aspect that comes with running in a group. This was something I wasn’t even aware I was missing until now. This past week offered up opportunities to meet many new friends and have lots of great conversations. As you are all aware, LSD runs are the perfect time to get to know someone new (seeing as you have a couple hours to kill pounding the pavement beside each other). Just such an occasion presented itself to me yesterday on my long group run….

I had planned and prepped but I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for the heat yesterday. I spent all day Saturday being really smart about fuelling and hydrating. I also went to bed insanely early to ensure plenty of rest (us runners sure know how to party on a Saturday night when we have longs runs planned for Sunday). At this point, my one downfall was likely running 7.5k on Saturday. Or maybe it was just the humidity. Regardless, Sunday was a bust! I put the slow in LSD!

I’ve asked myself a hundred times what went wrong? Who the hell knows! Maybe I need to learn the etiquette rules when running in groups (any advice here would be appreciated). I spent time with a few people at the back of the pack right off the bat. We chatted and enjoyed the sites along the Barrie lakeshore. Slowly but surely a few started to pull away and I continued to stay back despite feeling pretty good at this point (my coach Roger would have had a few choice words for me here but he was long gone). Then a few more pulled away. I was speaking with a gentleman who stopped a few times to take a pull off a puffer. Uh oh! He was apparently recovering from a head cold. He was really struggling and I stuck with him but the next few k’s proved too much and he turned around. It wasn’t long before I caught up to the the woman in front of me. Lisa. I ran with her for the next little bit who was also struggling in the heat and had run out of water. I also stuck with her. All the supportive stopping and starting may have been what did me in. But running with Lisa gave me an opportunity to talk to her about many things but in particular her experience with marathon running. She said something that allowed me to reflect differently on my week of marathon training…..

“It’s not crossing that finish line that’s hard…that’s the easy part. It’s the training! But you will never regret it”

Interesting. For some reason, may have been dehydration setting in, this had a profound impact on my thoughts for the rest of my run. Here I’ve been perseverating on the thought of my upcoming marathon and intimidated by how hard it is going to be. Second guessing whether this is really something that I can do. My conversation with Lisa was an epiphany moment because I realized that I’m already doing it. I am right smack dab in the hardest part of marathoning and I am doing it!

Unfortunately, Lisa couldn’t finish our LSD either and turned back. Again, I was left on my own…with my map and my new perspective. It certainly wasn’t pretty and wasn’t my best run by any means. But I finished (with no regrets) and learned a hell of a lot in the meantime! Week two was a resounding success!

Thanks Lisa!

Week One: STWM Training

The past few years I have become increasingly more serious about the time I devout to running. But its also been something I’ve done solo. I guess I’ve never really felt the need to seek support from a professional. All this to say that maybe I’ve somewhat become complacent with my goals and its probably time I push myself out of my comfort zone.

So I spent a considerable amount of time trying to find a coach/training plan that would help get me to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October prepared and confident. This proved to be a somewhat difficult task as I just couldn’t seem to find anything that seemed like the right fit. Begin panic mode! But when all else fails, your local running store is always there. Enter Roger at the Running Room. Its been one week of training in his marathon clinic and I already know he will get me to my goal (it’s clear that anything else is just not an option). Panic mode averted!

I wasn’t able to follow week 1 of my training plan to the letter. I had previously committed to run the Barrie Half Marathon and scheduled an “easy” week to prepare. Saturday was my last LSD at 10 miles, with some cross training Sunday and Monday for “rest” and a 3.5 mile tempo run on Tuesday. Wednesday was an actual rest day (these are always hard but I knew I needed it). Thursday was my first night with Roger and I soon learned that he means business! We worked on some speed testing to gauge my pace and I ran some of my fastest times ever. I left feeling highly motivated that this is exactly what I needed…someone to push me out of my comfort zone in a safe and supportive environment. Also left not being able to feel my legs but whatever! This made Friday another true rest day to recover and hydrate for Saturday’s half. Saturday was the first day of summer and I can’t think of a better way to spend the morning. The weather was beautiful and the course was awesome (race review coming soon).

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Somehow I managed to see my coach twice while I was racing on Saturday. The last time was about a quarter mile from the finish line. A big thumbs up and “you’re making this look easy” is what drove me through the last little bit. Thanks Roger! Taking some recovery time today and excited for week two!

You’ve Got to be Kidding X 2

Wow, this has certainly been quite the week. At 41 years old…I gotta tell you that I thought I had a pretty good handle on who I was. But, this is the kind of week that teaches you more about yourself then you probably thought you’d wanna know. I have certainly learned a lot. Actually, that’s a lie…I’ve learned two things:

1. When I set my mind to it, I can accomplish almost anything…and I can be proud of myself!

To put this into perspective, and if you’ve read some of my other blogs, you already know that my journey with my health is a tumultuous one. But despite this I am beyond proud of what I have been able to accomplish (thats not always been easy for me to say). I’m also continually impressed by what I accomplish when I lace up a pair of sneakers. Earlier in the week I was notified that I had been chosen to be a Digital Champion Ambassador for the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. It is the 25th anniversary this year and I am honoured to train and run alongside a team of inspiring and dedicated individuals. This is my accomplishment and getting here makes me proud!

2. When I set my mind to it, sometimes it doesn’t work out…and dammit I’m still proud!

Still riding on an emotional high it was only a few short days later when I got news…you know the kind….the kind that kicks you in the stomach and sucks the wind right out of ya…and when you’re doubled over in pain it laughs in your face. I’m not gonna say that I didn’t have a moment. The “poor me” moment. Cause I certainly did. Then I laughed back! With my friends and family close I feel more grateful then ever and I am still friggen proud of myself!

The next four months will be spent training tirelessly in anticipation of another accomplishment. I’m chasing 42.2 kms at my first STWM! Now tell me thats not a HUGE (ya, I’m proud already). Here’s information on the 2014 Digital Champions:

http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/blog/2014/06/introducing-our-2014-stwm-digital-champions/

Be sure to check out their inspirational stories and follow their training. Follow my blog for weekly updates on my training…its bound to be an interesting summer of lessons!

Oh, and REGISTER ALREADY!!

http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/en/register.htm

The Hypothyroid Runner (Oxymoron or Just Moron)

So I was diagnosed (finally) with hypothyroidism almost ten years ago.  Needless to say it was a very frustrating journey.  I spent many years and many visits to physicians trying to figure out what was wrong with me…to no avail.  There didn’t seem to be anyone who could explain the symptoms I was experiencing.  Exhaustion, hair loss, changes in appetite, vertigo….and did I mention exhaustion.  I was tired all the time!  There was a period of time that I was made to feel that it was all just in my head.  But after some time came the diagnosis and I was, at the time, somewhat relieved.  However, I soon came to discover that treatment was certainly not as easy as taking a pill once a day (this is what my doc told me).  I took the pill once a day…faithfully.  Those of you with the diagnosis know what I’m about to say…I didn’t feel any better!  I was still tired and most days that and the vertigo made life almost completely debilitating.  This experience has been a really important life lesson.  After years in a career where I spend my days advocating for those who can’t advocate for themselves…I needed to learn to advocate for myself.  This was all new to me.  I pushed physicians to treat me specifically and my symptoms and not just the diagnosis.  I also explored natural therapies and changed my diet (read the research on hypothyroid and the importance of a gluten free diet – this has done wonders for me recently).  In an effort to moderate the weight gain that can come with having hypothyroid I discovered a love for running.  I have been a “runner” most my life; however, historically my running career has been intermittent as I struggled with finding balance in a demanding life.  Over the past couple years though it has become an essential part of how I cope with the symptomology of the diagnosis.  I have come to terms with the fact that the diagnosis means that my body will always be in a constant state of flux and that I will continue to struggle to understand this….but running has helped me to moderate many of the symptoms.  As odd as it sounds…on days when I feel like I would rather die then drag my ass out of bed…nothing feels better then when I get back from my time on the road!  I’m a hypothyroid runner…it’s either an oxymoron or I’m just a moron!

Shoe Review: Salomon Speedcross 3

So I live approximately an hour north of Toronto. This gives you a pretty good idea of the kind of winter running conditions I’m often faced with (ugh). To be completely honest in previous winters I have been an utter and complete wimp when it comes to venturing outside (note: this doesn’t make me any less of a runner…just a wimp). Winter for me has traditionally been hibernating in my basement with the warmth and safety of my treadmill. There was something about this year though and I was (am) determined to keep most (if not all) of my miles outside. Likely for a few reasons but primarily because the transition back to the road in the spring can be discouraging at best (treadmill miles just are not the same). My treadmill is also about 10 years old and on its last legs….she probably deserves the respect of retirement.

20140126-142624.jpg              and for god sake…who wants to run here!!

So lets just say that it didn’t take me long to realize that my shoes were just not going to cut it outside on the snow, slush and ice. I turned to the advice and knowledge of the running community and lots of people advocated for putting screws in my shoes.

image             WTF!!!!! Yup, it’s an actual thing!

Just drill 9 to 12 small holes in your shoes and insert 3/8″ hex head screws….it’s that easy….um no!

I was desperate and actually tempted but opted instead to visit my local running store. When I asked if there were any alternate options or if they would suggest the screws they looked at me like I had lost my mind. She suggested a trail shoe and assured me that this would get me through any winter conditions. I left with a pair of Salomon’s Speedcross 3 trail shoes….and love them!

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Disclaimer – I am not an official shoe reviewer by any means (as you will see) but here are the reasons I was not disappointed with my purchase…

1. Great traction – as you can see these shoes have an aggressive tread and will destroy snow, slush and ice. I confidently run through everything without fear of landing on my face (or ass). They are super versatile and will transition to clear pavement with no issues.
2. Light – 562 grams…whatever the hell that means…lets just say you would be surprised how light they are for a trail shoe.
3. Water resistant – warm, dry feet are important…nuff said.
4. Comfortable- there was no breaking in necessary…they were awesome right out of the box!
5. Stylish – yes, I’m girl….kill me…they are pretty and that’s important!

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Don’t Be So Simple Sally!

I am 41 years old.  For today, this is simply a statement and not a complaint.  I won’t be using my first blog as an opportunity to dwell on my age…that is likely for another day.  However, stating my age provides context for just how long I’ve been hearing the phrase “don’t be so simple Sally”.  It was one of my mother’s favorite utterings to me throughout most of my childhood…amongst many other witty quips.  Not in an abusive, derogatory way but only to identify those moments in which maybe I was not using my best judgement skills…which in fairness to her was fairly often!  I recognize this now…that at times I can be a total ASSHAT!

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I’ve been meaning to thank my mother for what I now consider to be somewhat of a gift…my internal voice that whispers “don’t be so simple Sally” in moments of question.  Thanks Mom!

Despite this….I’m a wife.  I’m a mother.  I’m a career professional.  I’m a graduate student, I’m a hypothyroid sufferer….and YES, I’m a runner.  I am a complex and driven individual and have my mother to thank for this as well.  My blog will hopefully, with some degree of wit, detail my adventures with being a runner while trying to balance it all and at times being a total ASSHAT!