Monday, May 5, 2014

Whidbey Island 1/2 Marathon Race Report - Part 2

The start of a race is a bit surreal for me. It was only my second but it takes me awhile to absorb what is really happening. First, I can't  believe that I am actually doing this again! Lol! I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be running 1/2 marathons. Ever! But there I was again, with my wonderful hubby by my side. I really am thankful that I get to experience this in my lifetime. I realize that running is a gift and I have to treat it like that. I forget most of the time and think of it as a chore but when I think of it as a gift, it immediately feels better.

The first few kms are just about getting into a groove and a good headspace. I love feeling the energy of the other runners around me and use their energy to pull me along as much as possible.  Because there was no entertainment like the SeaWheeze, there was not too much else to focus on but myself, other runners and the course.

First hill coming up

The course was scenic and gorgeous but DAMN it was hilly. Especially in the second half. Those frickin hills were relentless!

I felt pretty much awesome for the first 10k. We stuck to our race strategy and as far as we could gauge by the mile markers we were ahead of schedule. The pace band was kind of useless now without a Garmin. Damn Garmin! But at 5k we were at about 32 mins and 10k we were at about 1:07 so I was really pleased. We were skipping lots of walk breaks on the downhill section and  were flying down them. The hills thus far were not too bad. We were also way ahead of our pacer.

At around 10k and on the wheels kind of fell off. We hit this beautiful straightaway by the water but the path was awful. It was made up of these uneven jagged, pebble like rocks. Not fun to run on. There was also this metal bridge covered in rubber that was extremely awkward to run on. It was at this point too that hubby started to have knee pain from his IT Band. He had to stop to stretch it every now and then. I would run on and he would catch up but it threw our rhythm off a bit. The long path was nice and flat but I was kind of done with it.

I spoke too soon because shortly after the path was a killer hill that we did not expect or see on our drive. It was steep, and long and seemed to go on forever. This is where the 2:30 pacer passed us and my heart sank. I knew that she did start a couple of minutes before us but it's still such a physchological thing to see her pass you especially on a steep ass hill that you have to walk. We ran as much of it as we could but it got to a point where we could have walked faster so that's what we did along with most of the other runners.

When we finally reached the crest of the hill, I could still see our pacer and I had my sights set on catching her! The next few kms were flat and we came so close at one point but I started to tire a bit. We were back at our starting point and almost ready to head into the last section which wound around a hilly neighbourhood so I decided to forget the pacer and just finish this damn race!

And lo and behold came another giant hill that everyone was walking again. Frak! This is when we started to pass the faster runners that were heading back the other way. I hope to be that fast one day... sigh. I was cursing this hill the whole way but knew I just had to dig deep and finish these last few kms. I had no clue where we were with time or if we even had a chance of meeting any of our goals. I just wanted to finish at this point. Poor Hubby was struggling with knee pain so I just wanted us to do the best we could under the circumstances. After finishing another hill from hell we picked up the pace again on the downhill. Thank god for the downhill! At around Mile 10/11 which was a flat part and then another hill, I was totally zapped of energy. I had been really stupid with fuelling on this race but I have learned my lesson. Just because I have energy at the beginning doesn't mean I shouldn't still fuel so that I don't run out of energy towards the end of the race. Dumb, rookie mistake. All I had was a water and a couple of Cliff Shot Blocks. I should have had a Gu gel earlier. Anyways I had some Gu at Mile 11ish to try to get me to the finish but by that time I'm sure it was too late to have much of an effect. Luckily the last 2 miles was mostly downhill and flat with one more hill. The downhill came at the right time and I was able to gain some momentum and energy from it before the last hill. We talked to some nice ladies on the hill and they told us were just about to hit mile 12 so hubby checked the time and we were at 2:15. We could still do it! We were still within our goals reach!

It was the final push to the end and I had some extra kick. I started to pass some people and Hubby was right there behind me despite the pain he was in. I expended so much energy trying to pass people that I had to take one final walk break before entering the park to the finish line. I managed to sprint it in with Jeff right beside me! I saw the clock say 2:33 so I knew our chip time would be close!
Plus the course was long at 13.4 miles instead of 13.1!

Poor Jeff was really struggling and looks like death here!

Sooo.. our official chip time was 2:31:17. DAMNIT!!! 

However, to be fair the course is long at 13.4 miles so we decided to take that into account. We calculated what our average to slower pace would be for that extra 465 metres. So at 7mins/km, 465 metres is about 3 mins 15 secs. If we were to take that off our time that would we 2:28:02. SO, we have decided to make that our official time! LOL! It's only fair right!? 

Therefore we definitely made Goal A and sort of kind of made Goal B! YAY!

Considering the very challenging, hell of a hilly course and Jeff's injury, we are very pleased with our results! Would I like to do a lot better? OF COURSE! But I will make sure to sign up for a flatter race to do that! I am very proud of us for conquering another race, for getting a PR and doing it on a course with lots of hills. 

Final thoughts:
1) I proved that I am not a one hit wonder
2) My husband is a strong, amazing man that can push through pain and injury to be by my side. I love him.
3) Whidbey Island is a gorgeous, scenic race but I won't sign up again because 6+ hills is just not my idea of fun.
4) I am stronger than I think. Although the course was challenging, I loved running it. Does that make sense?
5) I am determined to get an "official" sub 2:30 1/2 marathon time!
6) I am so proud of Jeff and I once again for accomplishing something we never thought we would do.
Crossing the finish line with him, no matter what the time, will be some of my greatest memories of our partnership together.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Whidbey Island Half Marathon Race Report Part 1

Well it's about time I got around to writing a recap! I don't know what it is about finishing a race but I just go into some kind of withdrawal where I don't want to think or write about running. I kind of go cold turkey which isn't good. Sigh.. something to work on for the future. 

Goals for the Whidbey Island 1/2 Marathon (my second 1/2)

Goal A: Beat my first 1/2 time of 2:37. Obviously I would like to better my time to show that I have improved.

Goal B: Get under 2:30. I definitely want to get sub 2:30 and never go over 2:30 again. I would prefer to be a 1/2 marathon runner that can finish in under 2 1/2 hours.

Goal C: Shave 10 minutes off my first time and get 2:27

I had been reading how hilly and challenging this course was so I wasn't sure how realistic my goals were but I also knew that I felt stronger and more prepared than the first one so I was hoping these 2 factors would balance each other out. But there was also Jeff's IT band injury to take into consideration and I didn't want to finish without him.

Our plan for the weekend was to arrive in the area on Saturday afternoon, with no rush except to get to package pick up before closing time, grab a course map and drive the route to get a feel of what we were getting ourselves into, have dinner, lay out our gear and head to bed early.

Everything went as planned. The package pick up/ expo was very small so we were in and out pretty quick. But not before picking up our ugly ass race shirts! Not even kidding, they were the most hideous shirts I have ever seen in my life! WTF were they thinking!?

Here is Hubby and I modelling the fugliness:

So. Bad.

So we drove as much of the route we could and the hills we saw were freaking me out a bit. My stomach was starting to turn and I was getting nervous. We are so not used to running hills and it was worse than we thought. Ugh! Oh well, at least hills meant downhill and we would just have to make up time on the downhill.

We went for a pasta dinner and then laid out all our gear. I was having a hard time trying to decide what to wear because although it was supposed to be a beautiful sunny day, it was still chilly in the morning. I decided to wear crops, a tank top and layer with a long sleeve swiftly top that I could easily take off and tie around my waist. We also brought some throw away shirts in case we had to wait outside in the cold for a long time.

It was still early and light out so we decided to go for a nice walk to shake out the legs and nerves a bit. It was a beautiful night and I'm so glad we decided to do this. It gave us a chance to reflect on our training and talk about our race strategy. We decided we would stick to our 10:1 intervals as much as possible but skip walk breaks on downhills and if we were running slower than we could walk up some of the steeper hills then we would walk. We wanted to keep our overall pace at around 6:50 as much as possible. We had printed a pace band for a 2:27 finish before we left that we were going to try to follow as well.

The race started at 8:30am but there was a bridge closure for the full marathon at around 7am which would have gotten us to the parking area too late if we didn't try to go before the closure. So we decided to get up at 5:30 and leave at about 6:30 to get us to the area around 7ish and then we would just wait around until start time. We went to bed and surprisingly had a really good sleep! I was really happy because the last race, we slept horribly. 

The morning went smoothly except for a few GI issues (sorry but my tummy does not do well with nerves!). And then we found out that the Garmin was frozen and didn't charge properly!!! EFF! I was upset but couldn't do anything about it. Because we were in the US we also couldn't use the GPS apps on our iPhones due to high roaming charges. Except for the pacer, mile markers and our stopwatch we were pretty much running blind. So much for the pace band we printed out :(

We had some bananas, apples and coconut chia pudding for breakfast and were out the door on time.

We got to the parking lot with lots of spaces still left and it was nice and close to the start line so we just had to wait it out in the car for an hour or so. It was a good time to just relax. We were supposed to meet our friend Zyta who had also come out to race but we sadly got a text that morning that she couldn't make it as her partner was really sick and she couldn't leave him alone at the hotel. We were SOO sad and felt so bad for them both. Zyta is a really good runner and works so hard that I'm sure she was disappointed and we really wanted to share this experience with her but I would have not left my sick hubby alone away from home either. 

The hour wait flew by as we went back and forth to the bathroom nearby and watched all the runners pile in. It was a brisk but sunny morning and the weather could not have been more perfect. They had a really good gear drop off station so we didn't need the throwaway shirts and just wore some light shells to ward off the morning chill until we had to start getting into our corral.

It was a much smaller, quieter crowd than the SeaWheeze but it was still exciting! The corrals were self seeding so we got behind the 2:30 pacer and hoped for the best! And off the start gun went!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Week 17 Recap - Taper Week

Monday: Rest Day

Tueday: Yoga
I just have to say again how much I love yoga. I have completely fallen in love with it. This was a really good, strong class for me. All my balance poses were great and I was able to hold Crow Pose for a bit longer than normal. I also had a really strong single leg side plank that I held the whole time. AND I was able to do Camel Pose comfortably. Camel Pose always freaks me out because I feel like my neck is going to snap or get injured and I have a weak lower back. I'm always afraid to let go on this one but I did it with lots of confidence during this class. Jeff of course has always been able to do Camel Pose. For a guy, he is a total freak of nature! Aren't girls supposed to be more flexible than guys?! Anyways, I felt AMAZING after this class! 

Single leg side plank

Camel Pose

Wednesday: 6k Race Pace, Pace 6:29 mins/km (faster than my intended race pace)
Jeff wasn't going to run at all this week so I headed out on my own to do 1 loop of my road (yes it's MY road now ; ) I haven't really decided what I want my race pace to be so I decided to do what felt good and push myself a bit. I was going faster than normal and breathing through my mouth. It sucked not to have any water for this. Soooo I was pleasantly surprised to end up with a pace of 6:29 mins/km. It's still not speedy in most people's books but it's fast for me!  I haven't done a single training run under 6:30 so I was very happy. In fact, I did 10:1 intervals for this run since that is what I will be doing for the race and I was faster than my fastest 6k run that I ran straight through! That's is a true testament to how well the 10:1's work for me!

I was very satisfied with this run and kind of want to end this training on a high note so I skipped my 6k Friday run. If anything, I might just do an easy 3 or 4k on Saturday just to keep my legs fresh.

And that takes me to the end of my training for my second 1/2 marathon!!! Can't believe it! It's been a long 4 months of highs and lows but I would say it was mostly highs. I am pretty proud of myself A) for training through the winter since I hate being cold B) for doing a large part of the last month by myself since Jeff has been injured C) for never skipping a long run D) coming out injury free!

It has been a very successful program and I have seen some nice improvements. Now all I can do is trust in my training!

Week 16 Recap - Speed and Tapering

Last I wrote we just finished our epic 20k training run. We were both quite stiff on our walk home after that and promptly put on our compression socks. Jeff's knee was quite swollen so it was time for lots of rest for him. I did notice some slight pain in my left foot on the inside arch during the last couple of kms of the run but nothing I couldn't handle. 

Monday: Rest Day
The next day my legs felt great and I had tons of energy. Hubby on the other hand had to work and said he was walking around like a zombie. Not surprised since he did increase his mileage by so much. I had the day off and thought I would lounge all day and just be a big bump on a log but I had energy to burn so I did a bunch of housework. When I was standing in the kitchen for a long period of time doing dishes I noticed my arch start to tighten up and hurt again. I have had fallen arches in both feet before from walking for a few hours in flip flops and the pain was similar but not as severe and only on one foot on the outside edge. The pain was alleviated by walking around on my tiptoes. I was only slightly worried and was sure it was only inflamed a bit from such a long run and would be temporary. I took some Motrin and put my foot up as much as I could and it seemed to go away. Thank God!

Tuesday: Yoga
This is the pose we are currently working on.  It's called Koundinyasana. When our teacher first did it we all looked at each other like she was crazy and laughed!! But you know what happens when I set my mind on something! day!

Wednesday: Speed Training at the track, 4 x 800m Intervals
Oh man, I was not looking forward to this workout. We even totally left it to the last minute and didn't head out til around 8pm. I told Hubby to decide if we were going to forego it or not and I thought for sure he would choose to not do it but then last minute he said let's go! Ugh I was mad! 
We hit the track and did about a 5 lap warm up. Then we had to run as fast as we could for 800m, rest for 2 mins then repeat 4 times.
The first 800 felt good and was pretty speedy at 4:17. Jeff said I was flying around the track. I was very winded but onto the next one. The second one was ver consistent at 4:19. But unfortunately after this one I felt like throwing up! I hear that's supposed to be a desired result! Lol! I told Jeff I needed to slow the next one down. The third one was 4:40. Yep definitely slowed down and I was kind of done. I considered calling it a day but I'm not really one to quit so did one more. The last one was 4:31. Picked it up a bit but I was tired! Overall though I was really happy with the times.

Done and done!

Thursday: Yoga
Hubby had work to do so couldn't go to yoga. I decided to just do some yoga at home. It turned out to be a really good workout. We've been doing yoga for about 9 months now and have built up a pretty good knowledge of all the yoga poses. I managed to give myself almost an hour long class and I was sweating up a storm.

I am proud to say I can do almost all of theses poses!

Friday: 8k Moderate Run, Pace 6:58 mins/km
I was supposed to do 11k but had to cut it short because I forgot to put a blister band aid on and didn't bring any water. I had to do this run alone since Hubby worked late and decided he wanted to do bike work and the row machine at a gym since his knee was still tender. 
This was just your average run. I stupidly forgot to put on a blister band aid and I was feeling soreness and rubbing on my one ankle. I didn't want to open a new wound so decided to cut the run short. 

Saturday: Rest Day
I had to work so enough said

Sunday: 11k Hilly, Challenging Run, Pace 7:22 mins/km
So I have been freaking out about the hills for the Whidbey Island 1/2. I can run flat all day long but throw in some long, steep hills and I am worried. It's just not something I am conditioned for. Sure we did our hill repeats but that seems so long ago.
Hubby and I decided we needed to do a long-ish run with lots of hills before the race to see how we would do. Queen Elizabeth Park was the perfect place to do this because it is very hilly, with some fairly step inclines and some flat sections. It turned out to be the perfect choice as it was a beautiful spring day and all the cherry blossom trees were in full bloom.
We warmed up for 2k on a flat section and then headed up the steepest hill in the park. OMG it was hard. We ran up the steepest part but then the incline just continued! I was sucking wind! I had to pull off to a flat section to catch my breath. After near death, we continued on. After the run was challenging but doable. Any hills during our training are repeats and not continuous runs so this was a good test of our stamina and a great workout. It was good to go outside of our comfort zone. I have to say I do love a good downhill though so that is the only good thing about hills. 
We did stop a few times to take pics, catch our breath and we ran into a friend. Jeff paused the Garmin for some of the stops but not all of them so I was pretty pleased with our time considering how challenging this was for me. At one point about 8k in, we were trying to decide which direction to head next - there was a flat winding path and a really steep hill, I chose the winding path but something crazy came over me when we were near the hill and I decided to try the hill. Hubby was totally shocked, I think I was too but I did it without stopping! Anyways we finished up 11k and feel slightly less intimidated by the upcoming hilly race route!
We treated ourself to ice cream after! 

Progress Report


One of my goals this year was to do a headstand on my own and I am almost there! I have been practicing a lot lately and feel much stronger in my core so that I can steadily lift my legs on my own without using momentum (which can cause me to lose balance and fall over) or the wall. I'm not confident enough yet to not be near a wall but I am slowly getting farther away and more times than not I can do it on my own. I NEVER thought I would be able to do a headstand so you really can do anything you set your mind to!

Overall, I feel stronger and more flexible in yoga practice. My poses get better all the time and I love seeing the progress. I honestly love what yoga has done for my mind, body and soul and I actually have running to thank for it since I took yoga to help with running. Thank you running!


Everyone has their own set of rules when it comes to running. You just really have to find what works for you. For beginner runners it's a lot of trial and error. Some people like to be critical of others own personal methods but I don't think there's room for judgement in the running community. There should be nothing but support.

I've already done a post on 10:1 intervals which really works well for me but there are a lot of naysayers. Another topic that creates some stir is mouth breathing vs nasal breathing. Personally I do both and they each serve their own purpose.

To give examples on both sides, Scott Jurek, the famous ultra runner, said he breathes through his nose while running easy because nasal breathing "lowers one's heart rate and helps brain activity."

Runners Connect says mouth breathing is by far the best way to breath while running, largely because it brings in more oxygen than breathing through the nose.

I love breathing through my nose because it puts me into a "Zone". It's like a Zen-like state where everything just flows, without conscious effort or exertion. This relaxes me. When I want to run to relax and enjoy myself, I breathe through my nose. Panting through mouth breathing just isn't very relaxing to me. I do nasal breathing on moderate and long, slow distance runs and it has really helped me to enjoy running more.

During speed work I have no choice but to really open up and breathe through my mouth. I am working harder and using maximum effort. There is no way I could breathe through my nose for the paces that take me out of my comfort zone. And that's ok.

Where the progress report comes in is that my threshold for nasal breathing has really improved with this training. I used to only be able to breathe through my nose for speeds over a pace of 7:20 mins/km or so. Now I am comfortably breathing through my nose at about a pace of 6:45. Which is awesome for me! I hope to see it keep improving which will mean that I am getting faster!

Recovery after long runs is noticeably better over last training as well. I usually feel great the next day whereas last time I quite often felt stiff, sore and like a bag of crap. The compression socks have worked like a wonder as well!

During the long runs I am a lot more low maintenance for fuelling. Because I breathe through my nose my mouth doesn't dry out and I don't need a lot of water. I'm also noticing I'm ok without taking a gel. I know the cooler weather makes a big difference since I'm not sweating as much but it's nice to know that my conditioning seems to have improved.


I have leaned out even more since moving to 2 yoga classes per week. My weight has been hovering around 105 and last training session I was around 108-110. When I decided to start running I was 118. I know weight doesn't mean a lot but I thought it was interesting. Now I just want to gain muscle weight!

The most noticeable difference in my body is my stomach. It's my favourite result : ) 

I still don't have guns but I am noticing some definition in my shoulders. Hundreds of downward dogs are making a difference! I still want guns one day. 

There's not much to see in theses pics but hopefully my next progress report will have some baby guns.

Both my toenails have totally grown in and they are no longer black! Yay!! I might actually be able to wear light coloured nail polish this summer and have pretty feet!


All the other topics are going to have to get an A on the progress report but nutrition will have to be a fail. A big fat F. I still don't eat breakfast and don't drink nearly enough water. I still eat whatever I want and love my candy and chips. Sometimes I make healthy choices but it's not a regular habit. I guess it's a good thing that my favourite food is salad!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Week 15 Recap

Oops! I'm a bit behind on my blogging. I think I've just been focussing so much on work and training that I haven't felt like writing. Anyways, better late than never!

By the way, how great was Hubby's guest post!? I loved it! Who knew he could write so well. His description of my Lululemon knowledge made me laugh because it's SO true! And his thoughts of my running journey warmed my heart. Love him!

So we were a week short on the training program and decided to skip Week 14 since it was very similar to Week 15.

Monday: Strength Training, Weights and Squats at home

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Speed Training Intervals, 3 x 1km, Average Pace 5:36 mins/km
My least favourite day! I mean who likes to run faster than your comfort zone that you feel like puking!? Not my first choice for a fun activity. However when we finish I always feel so great and accomplished. It's a love/hate thing really.
We warmed up for about 1.5km and the goal was to run the 1km between 5 - 6 mins/km then rest for 2 mins by walking or jogging in between? I was feeling a bit tired so would have been a lot more comfortable closer to 6 but just went with how I felt. The first km was 5:22 which felt fast for me. The next was 5:39 which was fine but tired me and the last was 5:50 where I just wanted to be done.
As much as I hate gasping for air, I know it's good for me and will help with my speed. Yep, love/hate.

Thursday: Yoga
Our regular teacher was away so we had a substitute and it was a nice relaxing class. 

These cartoons totally make me laugh. This was us at the beginning!

We were supposed to do a 9k on Friday or Saturday but it never happened. I think it was the weather? Yeah it was the weather......I think it poured? Yeah we'll go with that : )

Sunday: 20k Long, Slow Run, Pace 7:06 mins/km
Since we didn't do our moderate run yet, the plan was to do a 9k run and see how Jeff felt with his knee. In my mind I pretty much decided I wanted to do the 20k instead. I figured if I got the 9k done with Jeff, I would only have to do 1/2 of the 20k by myself and not have to worry about having to do a full 20k the next day and carry water. If I was going to do 9k, I might as well do 20k. Wow, I never thought I would ever say that sentence in my life! Lol! 
I'm really enjoying doing loops right now as I know exactly where I am distance wise and know how much more I have to run. So to do 20k we had to do about 4 loops of our fave road. If Jeff had issues he could pack it in after 2 loops. Well 2 loops passed and he decided to continue on. He was stopping to stretch out his knee a lot so I wore the Garmin and would just carry on and he would catch up. I was running a nice comfortable pace with nasal breathing and felt pretty good. I was happy with the decision to do the 20k and skip the 9k. I knew that a 20k would be a big confidence builder. I really had no issues the whole run. I had a blister band aid on my one bothersome ankle and didn't feel it all, my legs were feeling good and because I breathe through my nose I don't have to drink a lot of water. I also don't feel the need for a lot of fuelling lately. My energy doesn't seem to deplete. If anything it seems to pick up.  A couple of Cliff Shot Blocks seem to do the trick for the most part. 
My legs did start to tire at about 18k and felt a bit heavier and my feet got a bit sore, but it was nothing compared to the tiredness I felt at 18k at the SeaWheeze. When I got to 20k, the time was 2:22 and in my head I was thinking it was so much better than the SeaWheeze. In hindsight I should have just done the 1.1k and I would have gotten a PR and been under 2:30 which is my goal for this race! Damn! Oh well, I guess it's a bit more exciting to PR at an actual race.
Jeff didn't expect to be able to run a full 20k but he did!! He did have some pain and had to stop to stretch a lot but he was able to do it and now he can just rest up until the race. Fingers crossed for the 1/2!
I was really happy with the pace as it was comfortable and there is still room for me to push the pace a bit for when it counts. HOWEVER, the race route is supposed to be very hilly which I am kind of freaking out about. Based on this I will have to be realistic about my goals which I will talk about another time.
Only 2 weeks left!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Guest Post - Jeff Rowley talks about training through injury

Without further ado, here's hubby!

Ok, before I even start the conversation about training through injury I need to address the point of my wife, her training, her writing and the inspiration she has been to me as a runner! 
 At the start of this whole adventure of becoming healthier as a couple my wife decided that in order to do this the only option was to start running as she couldn't stand the idea of going to a gym, uuuuuummmmmm did you just say running? My wife hated running and was admittedly someone who never found themselves a strong runner or to have the stamina to run distance so this shocked the hell out of me! In true fashion of my wife's personality she settled in and started to do research on training for beginners and the adventure began! I told her in the beginning of our training that if she wanted to run I would be beside her every step of the way (little did I know this would lead to half marathons!). We started out with run/walk intervals that would be like 30 seconds of running at a time and I would hear things like "I will never be able to run for 5 mins straight!" Well, as you know, we passed that mark, and so on and so on. The dedication that she has shown during this training process has been nothing short of inspirational, it is the reason why I am running and it is what pushes me to continue running. I have always been somewhat athletic but this accomplishment is something I can only credit to her and her dedication alone!
 There came a point when all the running was starting to wear on her and it was becoming a bit more of a chore, she was feeling like she was not getting the results she wanted, she hit a bump in the road! Some people might stop, quit, or make excuses and fade off to the glory and comfort of the couch....not my wife, she hunkered in and found inspiration from other sources like running forums, blogs and any information she could get her hands on in true Mel fashion! This not only kept her running, but it also lead to the blog that she writes to document her (our) journey, trials, highs, lows and all the little entertaining things that happen that she so perfectly captures with her words! To be honest I am nervous to be writing on her blog as she has such a perfect way of capturing the moments of each journey, not to mention her ability to decipher each and every colour and name of every existing piece of Lululemon clothing! I have shorts and tees from Lulu, my wife has something like.....racer back sports top in pink bubblegum peach with forest moss green highlights! It's always funny when we go into the Lululemon store and staff ask if she needs any help with getting to know the products! :)
 Ok, on to the topic of running with or thru an injury!

 I have been very fortunate with running and being injury free, until recently! Up till this point I have finished runs and at worst had some sore or tight muscles, but not anymore. Recently I came back from a bad run and was not happy, so next run I set out to have a great run.........didn't happen, I came home with a tight hip and a very sore knee at the side so I did what my wife would do, research!!!! I came to the conclusion that I might be having IT Band issues so I started to try and find a way to correct it....we have a race in weeks dammit!!! I started following the recommendation of taking anti inflammatory, using the foam roller, icing, stretching and trying to get extra rest. All of these things helped a bit but then I would try and run again a few days later and the pain would come back in the first few kms. How was I ever going to be able to run a half when I can hardly finish a several kms without hobbling home after to barely be able to walk up or down stairs! This trend continued over and over until I went to see someone from Physio where I was advised I was doing the right things but doing them slightly wrong, I was working hard on the area of the IT Band when I should have been working on the muscles attached to it, a very common mistake! So feeling that I was doing a great job I went off for another run with Mel and halfway thru I am right back to hobbling, DAMMIT!!!!! I am beyond frustrated and I have no idea what to do, Mel is running by herself, finishing runs that I can't finish and all I want to do is scream! All this training is spiralling downhill and I have no expectations for race day. Then I find a YouTube video on IT Band band stretches and I try them out using a belt, they almost make me cry they are so focused on the area that is giving me all the grief but it is a good kinda almost crying as it immediately gives me a more mobile and relaxed leg. I followed these 2-3 times a day for three days then set out for a run with my wife. Our goal was 9km but we ended up hitting the pavement for 20 km! My legs are tired and sore but not from IT Band issues, just tired and sore!

Next up, race day!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Week 13 Recap

Well I have to say I was due for a less than stellar week. It's ok, I'd rather have a bad week now than have a bad race day.

We only got 2 run days in this week. I was feeling kind of burnt out after 2 really good weeks of long runs. So I guess in a way it was good to cut back now. I haven't been following the training program and have just been increasing the long runs by a km each week. Last week I was supposed to cut back to 11k and then have another long run this week so I guess I reversed it. It was not planned that way but sometimes you just have to listen to you body.

Tuesday: Yoga
Our regular instructor is back! Yay! Her classes are such a good workout. Lots of push-ups, planks and quick transitions get our heart rates really going. She also does lots of tough core work. Happy to have her back!

Wednesday: Nothing
Was feeling tired and girl crampy so decided to push our speed training session back a day. I call this time of the month "Head in the Hole Day" so that is what I will refer to it as from now on.

Thursday: Speed Training (Fartleks) and Yoga
Our speed training session was Fartleks - 5 x 3 minute surges. We did a warm up, surges with recovery in between and a cool down. Total was about 6k. The surges were between 5:16 and 5:45mins/km. Not crazy fast but I was tired so just happy to get it done. It was a tough one for me but it's supposed to be hard.

Bad idea to do sprinting and then yoga after. My legs were spent and in some of the poses they were really cramping up. But we did it! I can't believe we do double workouts some days. This is so unlike me! Well I guess the old me : )

Friday and Saturday: Nothing
Friday was a planned rest day and Saturday was not. We had to head out to the White Rock area so decided to fit in a run. We fully planned to do a 5-6k run, we were fully dressed, had a light lunch but then by the time we got to our run area, it was pouring rain. Not just spitting, but pouring. We didn't bring a towel or anything and didn't want to get back in the car soaking wet. Probably not a good enough excuse but it worked for me. 
Instead we went to a bakery, drove to a spot that overlooked where we were supposed to run, ate our cake and talked about how much it was raining. Lol!!

Sunday: 11k Slow Trail Run, Pace 7:24mins/km
The original plan for today was a 19k run. Due to Jeff's IT Band issues he was told to change up his running terrain/surface. His issues could be due to running on the same road surface repetitively. I was game for a change in scenery. We decided a trail run would be a good idea because of the varying surfaces and elevations you can get. We found out that Burnaby Lake has an exact 10k trail run around it. 

I had a few things going against me on this run 1) I hate running on gravel 2) I am not used to running on an undulating course 3) My blister band aid had ripped off taking the covering skin with it. But I decided to take one for the team since I knew this would be best for Jeff. 
The trail is actually really nice. It is primarily gravel with a few bridges in there. It is definitely what I would call undulating with lots of quick ups and downs and uneven terrain. It was a beautiful sunny day and quite warm. I stripped down to a t-shirt for the first time this season. This was outside of my comfort zone since I am used to flat road and not thinking about where I am stepping. Being outside of my comfort zone took that extra bit of energy out of me to make this more of a challenge. Because I was constantly watching where I was stepping and looking to see what was coming I could never settle into my breathing or get into my zen. It was challenging the whole time. Jeff was really loving it though and that's what was important since he really needed to feel good. 
The trail was pretty busy with lots of runners and walkers. We had to stop to tend to my blister. It was just irritating since I found the band aid had ripped off and my skin was exposed. There was also a section up a set of stairs and a narrow bridge that we couldn't run across. I was struggling a bit but I knew it was a good strengthening/training run for me instead of my usual flat paved surface. The trail is a dead on 10k all the way around. We decided to finish the loop and discuss what we wanted to do. I knew I didn't want to do another loop of the trail and Jeff was just starting to feel an ache in his knee. There was a long road beside the lake that we could finish the run on. We ran another 1km on it and decided we were done. Jeff didn't want to push it and I decided to quit this time with him. My blister was bothering me and it was probably a good day to cut back the mileage since the run was more challenging. I did want to continue but I didn't want Jeff to wait an hour for me while I finished or to have him continue running to the point of pain.
The pace was really slow but considering the new terrain, my blister and Jeff's issue I was happy to just get through it.

Not all weeks go as planned but you just have to keep moving forward. We are only 3 weeks away from the race and I just have to put my head down, keep pushing and trust in my training. I am looking forward to being back on the flat road though for my next long run!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Week 12 Recap

Last time I wrote I just finished my awesome 17k run. Just a quick update on my recovery, the compression socks are a miracle. Usually after long runs I have some stiffness, hobbling and soreness. I had none of this the next day! I wore them right after the run and the next day while sitting at my desk for work. My legs felt great! They didn't even feel tired while walking up and down the stairs. This made me very happy : )

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Speed Training, Intervals
So on the agenda was to do a 1-2k warmup, then run 1km at a pace between 5-6 mins, 2 min walk/jog recovery, repeat and then do a 1-2km cool down.
I'm not gonna lie, this was damn hard for me! My lungs were burning. Jeff was doing the pacing and I figured that he would keep us just under 6min/km knowing how hard speed is for me. We finished the first interval at about 5:25. No wonder my lungs were dying! I know it's not fast for a lot of people but anything under 5:30 is VERY taxing on me. The second interval was slower at about 5:35. I had some music issues so I was a bit distracted. Anyways, I did it! I would have been happy with a pace closer to the 6 minute mark but I'm glad Jeff pushed me to go faster than I thought I could.
Jeff had no IT band issues! Yay!

Thursday: Weights and Squats
We couldn't go to Yoga due to a scheduling conflict so we did a strength training session at home.

Friday: 5k, Pace 6:22mins/km
I had a shitty run but Jeff finally had a good run so I included his time above. I was really close to skipping this run as a treat to myself for having done a great long run on Monday but I didn't. Not sure what happened to me but I really hate missing any run at this point. I felt crappy from the beginning. I just couldn't relax into it. I was having major shin cramps and had to stop to stretch and walk it out. Jeff ran with me at the beginning but I told him to just continue ahead because of the issues I was having and I didn't want to slow him down anymore. He finished up strong with no IT Band issues. He was thrilled to finally have a great run and I was very happy for him. Me, I finished a run that I thought about skipping so I guess I can't complain.
What I have learned about myself though is that I would much rather do a long run than a short run! Who knew!? I much prefer longer distances. I feel like it takes me at least 3-4k to really settle into a run and get comfortable. And then by 6k I really find my rhythm. I think this is why I have no interest in doing shorter distance races and I think 1/2 marathons are just the right distance and challenge for me. Maybe one day I'll change my mind....we'll see.

Saturday: Rest Day
We had an awesome road trip to Seattle. We did some shopping, went to the zoo and did lots of eating! Most importantly I finally got my new running shoes which I posted about before. So happy!
Here's a collage of our trip:

Sunday: 18k Long, Slow Run, Pace 7:03 mins/km
I was fully prepared for this run to suck. I didn't think it was possible to have 2 good long runs back to back so I just had the mindset to simply get through it. Plus Jeff was going to try to see if he could last the whole run with the issues he's been having so he wanted to take it really slow.
I really wanted to try my new shoes but I knew it would be completely stupid to break in shoes on an 18k run! I came up with an idea to drive to our long road, park nearby and bring my old shoes to change into after a few kms or when I felt I needed to.
It was pretty windy again but the rain held off for the most part. I wore my new Nike top and found it a bit warm at first but it was great for when it cooled down. It performed well for colder temps.
I had found out that day that a young girl from Richmond had passed away from cancer. Her story broke my heart and I decided I wanted to do my Charity Miles for Stand Up 2 Cancer and dedicate my run to her. 

The first few kms in my new shoes felt good. They are extremely comfortable and they felt good on the road. They are so bright that they make me feel happy as I look down at my feet. I had tight shins only for the first 2k. I was following Jeff's lead for pace but was also doing what came naturally to me. At 6k is usually when I really find my stride but is also when Jeff starts to have issues but so far so good. I kept checking in on him and he was still looking ok. Fingers crossed!
At 10k he started to stop and stretch a bit and it was fairly distracting. I would run ahead but would slow down for him to catch up. I was feeling pretty good but had no idea what our pace was as my running app doesn't seem to work on this road. I thought we were going pretty slow maybe averaging 7:30 but I really was just guessing. At 12k I could tell Jeff was starting to hurt. Damn! At 13k he asked if we could slow the pace which I did but I didn't think we were going very fast. Plus when does that ever happen!?!?! Jeff asking ME to slow the pace? WTF!? 
My shoes were still feeling so good. I felt a slight rubbing on the back of one heel but no other issues at all. I decided not to change my shoes because I didn't want to interrupt my rhythm and they weren't causing any problems.
We got to the end of the road where the car was parked and I told Jeff that he should decide if he wanted to carry on for the final loop. He was in pain so decided he was done at 14k. In my mind I was going to quit with him but I remembered my dedication and decided I still had energy and would finish the full 18k on my own. He left to go to the car and carry on I did! I did 15 and 16k at the fastest pace of the whole run with no walk break (around 6:30, negative splits)! 17 and 18k were pretty good too with a couple of quick walk breaks. Again I had energy to run up the little hill and sprint to the end! I couldn't believe I had another great long run! I did nasal breathing the majority of the time and it was faster than last week without me ever keeping track of the pace. When I looked at the splits, 13 and 14k were very slow because of Jeff asking to bring the pace back. If Jeff wasn't having issues, I have no doubt the average pace would have been under 7mins/km. And I thought we were going really slow because of how comfortable I felt.
For fuelling I haven't felt like I have needed to take a Gu gel. My energy has been surprisingly good so I've just been drinking water on walk breaks and eating Cliff Shot Blocks. 
So my shoes...... Love them! I had a very small blister at the back of one heel and that's it! I mean who wears brand new shoes on an 18k run!? And it seems they made me faster too! Thumbs up so far : )

Poor Jeff is so frustrated. He went to a Physio clinic today (Wednesday) and got some good tips about how to alleviate the pain. Hopefully it works and he will be race ready. I am going to get him to do a guest post about his issues so more details to follow.

Recovery went amazingly well after this run again. Yay for compression socks! I would much rather wear compression socks than have to take an ice bath!

I am so happy with my long runs right now. I am really surprising myself with my focus. I just hope I can keep it going! Stay tuned...

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Shoes!

My hunt is over! I found my Nike Flyknit Lunar 1+ runners at the Nike Outlet in the my size....and for only $89.97!!! Score!!  My patience paid off. They are $195 in Canada!

Here they are:

When you are going to war, choose your weapon wisely

They are nice and bright and so lightweight. I sized up to a 7.5 and my big toe doesn't feel cramped at all. I am hoping this resolves my black toenails issue.

I broke them in on my long run so there will be a full report on the recap. Just a sneak peek.... they were amazing!

I also got a new dry fit running top at the Nike outlet. I really like a lot of Nike's running clothes but they are more expensive than Lulu. The outlet had some great deals though. The top was $45 and is a long sleeve pullover with a hood. It's really soft and I love the color. It's nice to have an option so I'm not head to toe Lululemon.

I of course had to stop at the Lululemon outlet and they had some great deals. I just didn't really need anything. HUH!? Who said that!? Lol! I did get some Speed Shorts (my fave running shorts for the summer) in a fun striped print and a tank top for only $19. I can always find something! 

Jeff found some amazing deals. It was the best selection they have ever had for men! He got a running top and shorts for a total of $65! Both were really nice colors too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Running Slow During Training is a Good Thing!!

I was reading a really good article online about how your easy, slow runs are important. It made me feel better about being such a turtle : )

It's an in-depth and scientific look at the aerobic system, easy runs, and optimal pacing which opens your eyes to why easy running is critical to long-term success and why running too fast is doubly detrimental to your progress.

You can read this very informative article here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week 11 Recap

Tuesday: Yoga
Ou regular teacher is out of town for the next couple of weeks so we had a sub. The class was still challenging but also really relaxing because we went at a much slower pace than normal. It was exactly what we needed. We did try a new pose called Dancer's Pose. I liked it! Brings me back to my old dancing days.

Here is what it's supposed to look like. My leg does not go quite that high yet!

Wednesday: Fartleks, total 6k, Untimed
Today was the start of speed training and we were doing Fartkeks. The word Fartlek, is a Swedish term that means "speed play," and is a form of interval or speed training that can be effective in improving your speed and endurance.
Fartlek running involves varying your pace throughout your run, alternating between fast segments and slow jogs. Work-rest intervals can be based on how the body feels. With fartlek training, you can experiment with pace and endurance, and to experience changes of pace.
So we did a 2k warmup, followed by 5 x 2 minutes of surges with a jog recovery in between each set, and then a 2k cool down. I actually really enjoyed this workout!  We did time the surges and our fastest paces for the 2 mins were 4:58, 5:27 and 5:29.

Thursday: Yoga
It was a tougher class than usual! The pace was faster than normal with lots of strength work. We tried a new pose in this class as well and I'm happy to say that I was able to do it on my stronger right side. It was so fun to try. It's called Bird of Paradise and is kinda crazy but I liked it!

Friday: Rest Day
I switched my rest day from Saturday to Friday. I was too busy having fun and that's the way life goes. 

Saturday: 5k in the pouring rain, 6:34 mins/km for the first 3k (I didn't resume my timing app properly after pausing it at a stop light)
So Jeff is still resting after having some bad IT band issues. I decided to head out for a 5k on my own but unfortunately it was pretty much a downpour all day! I guess this will just show my dedication! I put on a rain jacket and a short sleeved shirt but I was really hot. The temps have warmed up a lot. I did have the hood up but got so hot I just had to deal with getting totally wet. My pace was fast (for me) for the first 2k with an average pace of 6:20 mins/km. The first km was 6:07 and it kind of winded me. I should learn to start out slower and get into my groove and then pick up the pace. I didn't feel great on this run and I was completely soaked. I had trouble with water getting in my eyes, I almost needed goggles! I did bring my Handana for the first time which did help to clear my eyes at least. I paused my timing app at a stop light at 3k and thought I resumed it but I guess I didn't. Anyways, it was a very wet somewhat crappy run but I did it!

You can't totally tell but I am drenched 

Sunday: Long, slow run pushed back to Monday
Jeff thought he could use another rest day just to make sure his IT Band issues were a-ok. Plus we were too busy having fun again and searching for my new shoes. Oh and I forgot to put my soaked shoes in front of the fire to dry out so they were still completely wet.

Monday:  17k Long, Slow Run , Pace 7:12 mins/km
I ended up doing more than 1/2 of this run by myself and I am so proud of myself!! Daylight savings time will definitely help with our later in the day runs and it was such a beautiful sunny day. We both worked til 5 and headed out the door at about 5:45. We figured we had about 2 hours of daylight so we decided to run our favorite road. This road is not safe to run on when it's dark, so it's nice to be able to take advantage of it when we can. We decided to do 3 loops, each loop being about 5k. For the first 3k my shins were feeling quite sore and tight but they were totally fine after warming up. After our first loop, unfortunately Jeff was feeling pain again. Ugh! So frustrating for him! I'm also sad because I miss my running partner. He decided to head home at 6k. I decided to push on by myself despite the fact that I had no interval timer for my 10:1's and no water. Jeff said he would come back on his bike but I was confident I would be fine.
I was actually feeling really good and comfortable. I was doing nasal breathing and things felt fairly effortless. Nothing was laboured. I decided I would run for 3 songs and then take a walk break. This timing worked out perfect. I had some Cliff Shot Blocks in my pocket and took one at 4k and 8k. I like these a lot better than the Sharkie chews. They are tasty, a good texture and don't stick to you teeth. I couldn't take a Gu gel without water so I just skipped it but I was totally fine. I felt like I had  energy the whole time. I also couldn't believe how fast time was going by. I think doing the loops helped since each loop broke the run down. At the end of the loop is a tiny hill and I powered up it each time without tiring which was a good test as well. Usually any incline when I am really tired feels laborious to me.
Jeff showed up on his bike at about 10k, but he had popped his tire on the way over!! Talk about a bad night! All I could do was shake my head. He wanted to make sure I was ok and give me some water. I took a few swigs and told him to head home as I was feeling good. He stuck with me till about 12k and it was getting really cold and would be dark soon. The wind was pretty strong at some points and I wasn't dressed too warm. I decided that I would finish up on the road and not take the trail home since it would be dark by then. I asked Jeff to head home and come pick me up in the car in 30 mins.
It ended up working out perfectly. I had about .50k to finish up when he showed up and I even had enough energy to sprint it to the finish! I couldn't believe I did that and I couldn't believe how good I felt! I had I idea what my average pace was as my running app crapped out and I wasn't really paying attention to the Garmin. 
When I plugged in the results I was extremely happy with the 7:12. It was a bit faster than the 16k and it felt 10x better. It's nice to know that 7:12 is comfortable and I still have room to push myself.  Also it means that my nasal breathing threshold has gotten better. I used to only be able to breathe through my nose continuously at slower speeds of around 7:20 or more. 
Only 4k to go til I reach 1/2 marathon distance again!
I am just praying Jeff recovers soon!
After the run I wore my compression socks for a few hours and my legs felt great the next day! They didn't feel stiff or sore at all while walking around, so very happy with that result as well : )