Sunday, December 27, 2009

Well, this should be interesting

...and possibly a little stupid as I'm having to resort to saying that running is going to be my New Year's Resolution. I haven't run AT ALL in December, and November was pitiful (hence my lack of blog entries). I have lots of excuses which I think are quite valid ywet at the same time I feel guilty and think that maybe I could have squeezed in a run or two in between exams, moving, and a plethera of distractions.

But in January, somehow, I will begin again - hopefully with a bit of help from Derek Spafford to get ready for a crazy year of running.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What Happened to November?

Looking back on the month, I ran a bit over 50 kilometres. What happened?

Last week, all of a sudden it hit me that I hadn't run in 17 days in a row. Luckily I haven't lost too much fitness but the 22k I did today (in a beautiful snowfall) definitely wore me out and I'll be feeling it for a couple of days.

My Mizuno Wave Riders are definitely goners and since I was on the roads today I reluctantly put on the Elixirs which always stay in the back of the closet. They've caused me so many problems and today was no exception. Tight left IT band and the outside of my left foot is sore - almost always happens with these dang shoes. MUST GET RID OF THESE SHOES! But now I know what I want for Christmas: New Wave Riders! (and maybe some new NB 840s from Santa - if he can find them since they're discontinued).

With exams coming up, and moving to a new place over the Christmas holidays, I can see the chaos creeping in on my 'free' time to run. I'll have to make an extra effort to get out there, even if it's just 5 and 10k runs. The long runs may have to wait until January.

Speaking of January, I was hoping to make it to a little fun run organized in Creemore at the end of January: a 7.5k loop on trail at the same location that the Creemore Ultra is held every year. Would be a great opportunity to check out the trail and see if I want to add it to my 2010 plan. Hopefully I can get my mileage somewhat up there so I can keep up with the others. Who am I kidding. I can't keep up but like Ron said, let them pack down the snow and then it's smooth sailing for Nature Girl.

See you in the forest!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birth and Running One Hundred Miles

Last week, the focus of one of my midwifery classes was risk. One of the readings I found very interesting. It compared the challenges in sport to labour and birth. The following are excerpts from one of the readings:

“I’m feeling so bad, I’m wanting to vomit, I’m so cold. I was struggling. I can’t stand it anymore and I’m crying and I just want to get out, and I’ll look at them (her support team) and I’ll say ‘I want to get out!... My mum and dad never come on the support boat because my Mum says that if she saw me suffering she’d have me pulled out of the water. She can’t stand to see me in pain, so I know she’d be useless. You do need that person, that team, who are going to be able to say the right things at the right time – somebody who can put your focus back into your intention – be your strength when you need it!”

-Tammy, marathon swimmer

In this birth story, the woman’s supporters played a vital role in her birth, similar to Tammy:

My contractions were much stronger and I was very proud of how I was handling the pain. Several hours later, I had forgotten my romantic images and was kneeling in the tub howling and screaming from the depths of my soul, convinced that the pain was too much to bear. Not that I got any sympathy – instead I was showered with reassurance, love and incredible strength from the energy and wise words of those who were present to witness and support ... they showed me strengths I never realised I possessed.

The pain was becoming unbearable, or at least I had decided I wasn’t strong enough to do it this time. I looked around at my three carers searching their eyes for any hint of sympathy – an admission that what I was attempting was impossible and I could therefore give up now. But no, their eyes betrayed no doubts but gazed back steadfast and confident.”

(Reiger K, Dempsey R. Performing birth in a culture of fear: an embodied crisis of late modernity.)

As a midwife, I can only hope that I will be able to say the right things to women to remind them how strong they are and that they can continue through the pain, as was done with me when I had my kids.

I am expecting the Haliburton 100miler to be very similar to birth in a way. There will be pain, I will be tired, and I will most likely entertain thoughts of giving up (and will probably be fantasizing about an epidural too!). I just need to remember what I’ve done and I’ll be able to finish (barring any unforeseen circumstances).

I am going to have an awesome support team. Kelly will be with me. I can’t imagine anyone better than her. She’s one of the strongest, most positive women I know. And she knows her stuff being one of those athletic types (and smarty pants teacher). She won`t feel sorry for me.

So I`m not too sure where I`m going with this, but having those kids of mine was the beginning of a new life for me. Not just in being a mom, but their births was proof that I can do anything I put my mind to. I`m looking forward to the journey ahead.

Hundered Miler in 2010. Sounds like a plan Stan!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Runs since VB

It's been a slow two weeks recovery from Vulture Bait. This bug doesn't want to let go and I keep getting swollen glands. Makes running kinda tiring. I took the week off and my first run was 4k the following Sunday around campus. This run felt pretty good and I figured that since I was just going for a little one, I would put in some effort. Then I remembered how after Haliburton, the following weeks' running felt great but I pushed it too hard (ran 5k in 26 minutes - a pb,which I'm still trying to get my head around) and injured myself. So I slowed down and took it easy the rest of the week, which was just as well as that energy rush didn't last.

Here's the weeks breakdown:

Oct 25 - 4k
Oct 27 - 4k
Oct 29 - 7k
Nov 1 - 18k

Pretty low on the mileage, but I think that's okay.

I'm starting to become familiar with the local trails although there are still a lot of little off shoots that I need to remember. Once the snow begins to fall and many of the little trails disappear, I'll be sticking to the main trails unless I can stay on top of things to keep the paths clear.

I was pretty excited about my run on Thursday. Since we moved here and I started running on these trails I wondered if I'd be able to get to the conservation area down the road, well, without running on the road. I knew the connecting trail must be there but there are so many unmarked trails around here I just couldn't find the right one. So I decided to try from the conservation area end and sure enough I came out on a familiar part of one of the Laurentian trails. I was pretty stoked. I ran it again today to the end of the conservation area and also checked out a new trail - Perch Lake trail which is only about 2.5k but more fun than that end of the conservation area which isn't single track. Today's long run brought out a couple of small aches: my right arch and knee, left ITB was tight, and the hips feel a bit week and are feeling the impact. Nothing serious but I'll take them as signs to take this week easy too.

So it was a week of discovery - which was a good distraction from how tired I felt. Is this still recovery from 50K or am I just getting over this lingering virus... or both? Tomorrow's a new day, perhaps I'll discover another new trail!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vulture Bait 50K - Oct. 17, 2009

So this was 50k number 2 for me and I really wanted to get this in since it was the last race in the OUSer. From the get-go (get-go, as in weeks ago when I registered) I had a feeling this was going to be a horrible race. I had such a high from Haliburton, it's going to be a tough race to beat (not time wise, obviously :).

So I wanted to run it bad. I tried to ignore my cold, my groin, and the midwifery paper due the following Monday, and the bio mid-term on Tuesday. I also wasn't keen on leaving the family again for another weekend, but I've learned. Instead of just talking my partner into the idea of me going to do this, I need to take it up a notch and bring them along for the ride (6 hour car ride with the kids will be FUN! I promise!).

Being a student, and with the man not working his usual teaching job, our budget is a bit tight so I had found a couple of kids to carpool with from the University to save on gas money. So here I am with two 19 year olds in the car, trying to be cool and make them think I’m hip to their jive... I let the dude plug in his tunes and suffer the consequences. Actually it wasn't that bad and found a couple of songs I liked: from MGMT., and LMFAO (not normally my bag, I assure you.)

So arriving in London I eventually I arrive at my campsite. I was the only one in the area reserved for tenters. I started to set up my tent and all of a sudden I start to hear this loud, thunderous noise. I look up, and there’s a jumbo jet about 3 feet above my head. Okay. So I guess there’s an airport around here. Nice. Anyhoo, I set up camp, take a stroll over to pick up my loot, knock over poor Turnip the dog's water as I stagger into the building. Then I head back, make dinner, take lots of drugs and go to bed. Despite the planes, I slept pretty well.

Race day: I set my watch (or so I thought) for 6:30am which would give me lots of time for oatmeal, coffee, shower, etc. Well, I wake up to the sun at 7:30, drive fast to the ‘comfort’ station for an ice cold shower. Go back to camp, walk with banana and muffin in hand to the start/finish. I was just wearing my race clothes (t-shirt, long sleeve, gloves, shorts, knee-high woollies, buff, and tuque). I was cold. Once I got to the building, I found some coffee. Chatted with some familiar faces. Headed down to the start and we move. After 10k I was ready to bail. Feeling like absolute poop. Having some ridiculous feet problems. I just got a pair of lovely lime green Cascadia’s which I’ve worn a handful of times, and while they weren’t perfect, I thought I’d be fine. Well, by 5k I had some hot spots and was begging the first aid people for moleskin. For the first 25k, I was at each aid station between 5-10 minutes trying to deal with my feet. Finally at the halfway point a lovely, angelic woman had some for me, but lo and behold it wouldn’t stick to my dirty sweaty feet. So I just went with medical tape, which was put on the other foot at the 2nd aid station. During these stops, I’d see the people I’d pass, get ahead and I’d eventually catch up and pass them again. There was this one dude who was having a rough time, cramping ect. – at the 25k I was just getting up to leave the station and I see him come in. I’m at the bridge, there’s no one to be seen ahead or behind me. Then I get to the loop and I see him coming out of it. Huh? So for the next 10k I’m stewing about this guy cheating. I catch up to another runner and ask him if anyone passed him – no. I run with this gentleman for a bit for the company, then I’m off on my way and here is the dude hobbling up ahead. I don’t say anything to him (regarding cheating) because I’m feeling pretty vindicated after passing him. I wish him well. He’s only cheating himself. So on I go just wanting to end my misery. I catch up to these 2 young guys with less than 2k left. They’re walking up the hills so I think maybe I can get away with passing them. I don't. The finish line is in sight and I can hear them catching up to me. I try to pick it up, then sprint and the little buggers beat me by 3 seconds. Bastards! :) It’s done. I wasn’t last. I beat a cheater. And I had some lovely bags under my eyes the next morning to show for it.

Post race: Good food (actually great food! I was STARVING!), good chats, and then a heavenly evening at camp watching a huge seagull migration (trying not to get pooped on), enjoying a Strongbow ,Vit. C, coldFX, Tylenol, and chips with the company of the campfire.

Here are some photos:

Huge seagull migration taking a rest on the Thames River


Race day menu

Race day

Seagull migration (picture doesn't do it justice).

Post race relaxation

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last Week's Running and the Journey Ahead

After attempting 2 useless weeks off to give my groin injury a chance to heal, I got back at it (slowly) taking into account Vulture Bait 50K this Saturday.

So in 5 days I ran 50K in about 5.5 hours. Some really nice runs in there, Frontenac Park 11K Tetsmine loop in particular. After being away from Kingston for two months, it was really nice to get back to the park and enjoy the beauty and solitude.

I've been thinking a lot about the 100miler next year and the planning that it involves (and yes, I got the approval from my better half). So far I've had wonderful support from friends new and old. The offers to crew have been unbelievable. I'm blown away by the generosity of these people. I'm very excited that a great friend - Kelly, has agreed to pace and crew for me. I give her the credit for getting me into long distance running as she was the one that convinced me to run my first marathon this year. Other offers from some great girls from are greatly appreciated and I look forward to 'working' with these women (a fellow northern ontarian too!). Figuring out what I'm going to need along the way is going to be tricky. I think the trick is to be open to anything, especially food wise.

Over the next week I will try to develop a training plan which I hope to start shortly after Vulture Bait. I would like to get most of my runs done in the very early morning, which will allow me some training in the dark (must get over fear of bears... they're hibernating soon right?), and will minimally interfere with family time and morning routines.

There's so much more to think about. I'm really pumped about this journey to Haliburton next year and the experiences it will bring. I just hope this weekends' 50k goes well. I think I'll just run enough this week to keep the blood flowing and the limbs loose. Gotta take this thing one run at a time.

See you in the forest!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Going All The Way

When I started this running thing I had a plan: marathons one year, 50k the next, 50 miles after that and so on... If I followed this plan I would get to the distance of all distances, the 100 miler in 4 years or so, probably well prepared and well trained. One thing I forgot about when I thought about this plan was that I usually don't follow plans.

I've been thinking about my life and health alot this last week as my mom was having some heart problems and had triple bypass surgery yesterday morning. She has diabetes, is overweight, and has heart disease. It was the same with her mom. So the events of the past week got me thinking about my health, how much I love running and how it's changed my life. It's been a pretty stressful week leading up to the surgery and getting out there in the forest, and running with a friend was a saviour. I want to stop this cycle for myself but mostly for my daughter. I plan on doing this by staying active, not smoking, and running. A lot.

Which brings me back to the plan. Now that this years' season is coming to an end I'm starting to think about next year... which actually got me thinking about the year after that... In the Midwifery program I am actually only in classes for the first year and a half. The final two and a half years (including the summer of 2014) I will be in clinical placements, where I will be on call, well, all the time. So training for ultras could get to be a bit complicated when you have to go to a birth and your 30k deep in the forest. So I'm thinking my plan is going to have to get fast tracked. It just makes sense training wise as I'll have more time (never enough time) to get the miles in. In the spring and summer I can get a 50K and a 50 miler in there, then go all the way at the end of the summer, or fall as I would love Haliburton to be the one, but I'm going to have to think about that one since Hali is a bit of a tough course.
So there. I've said it. I want to do 100 miles in 2010. I still can't believe I'm saying this out loud. I guess I should tell my husband.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

At the Start Line

Well I suppose I should begin at the beginning. I started running in 2005 when I needed an outlet for stress (and excess calories!). Shortly after I started running I took a road trip to the East Coast and went on my first trail run somewhere in a Nova Scotia forest. It was a lot of fun and such a different experience than road running, I loved it! But I was pretty sore after and realised that switching from road to trail would be a transition I'd need to pay attention to. Four years, 2 kids, and one horrible marathon later I decided it was time for something different. So I decided I'd train for my first 50K ultra marathon. I knew I wasn't built for speed but I loved the challenge of pushing myself and felt a huge sense of accomplishment after covering more and more distance.

In June I started to hit the trails around Kingston; Frontenac Park, Little Cataraqui Conservation Area, the Rideau Trail and a few other local spots. At the same time I started to experiment with minimalist running after hearing a news spot on CBC about Christopher McDougall's new book Born to Run. It was a real eye opener and got me to think outside the box when it came to running gear, injuries, and running philosophies.

I got myself a pair of Vibram Five Finger KSOs and would integrate wearing those in with my regular training. While I love the protection that the VFFs offer, I must say I prefer going completely barefoot, mainly for conveniences' sake. With the thought of the ultra in my mind however, I knew I wouldn't be ready to dive right into 50k without shoes so I did most of my road training in old Mizuno Wave Riders, (which I trained for the '09 Ottawa Marathon, Dirty Girls, Haliburton and am still running in now!). On the trails I like to wear my New Balance - the one with the clock - trail shoes, and I just recently purchased a pair of lime green Brooks Cascadias (not ready to give up the shoe fetish completely!).

Come August I thought I'd want to try my legs in a shorter trail race and found out about the Dirty Girls race in Mansfield, Ontario. So I signed up and had a great time. Finished 30K in 4 hours right on the nose.
Race report:

Photos: me at the finish line (the 30kers started a half hour after the clock started, hence the 4:30); Name in print - official Dirty Girl!

After Dirty Girls I felt a little more prepared for Haliburton and the training went relatively well, but got a little interrupted in August when we moved to Sudbury from Kingston, where I started my first year in the Midwifery Education Program. Come race day, I was excited, feeling good and ended up having the best race experience of my life.

Another race blurb on Running Mania:

Photo: At the Haliburton starting line - 6am.

So that's it in a nutshell. Next on the list is the Vulture Bait 50K in London, ON. Trying my best to get some time on my feet to train while going to school full time, taking care of a 3 and 1.5 year old, and nursing a sore groin. As long as I get there, that's all that matters.
See ya in the forest!