Running year in review – 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 6.06.52 PM

Where my feet have taken me this year!

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 6.07.18 PM

This isn’t totally accurate – I haven’t worn my watch for every run, so I’d say I’m probably closer to 1,800 km this year – an improvement over last year’s 1,362!

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 6.07.56 PM

No surprises here – Fridays and Mondays are my cross-training/rest days usually, and I am definitely not an evening/late night runner!

Looking back on 2014…

Races: 8 (from a 5K to a 50K)

Injuries: 4 (groin strain, popliteus strain, plantar fasciitis, quad pull)

New pairs of shoes: 5 (Asics GT-2000-2s, Mizuno Wave Inspires, Mizuno Wave Rider 17 – awful! for me anyway -, second pair of Mizuno Wave Inspires – love ’em -, Brooks Ravenna 5s)

photo(110)

Mizuno love! The Wave Inspires. Supportive and LIGHT! My favourite, favourite shoes

Favourite race, experience: Boston, hands down. I still get chills when I watch videos like this

Favourite race, running: Run for the Toad 50K. It was my first ultra, I placed fourth overall for women in the Canadian National ACU Championships and the race went off perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for a better race (although I could have done without the post-race cramps and dehydration!)

Most exhilarating finish: Boston

Most disappointing finish (at the time…perspective makes you realize it’s really not that horrible!): My 1:30:05 finish at the Harvest Half marathon in September. I wanted that sub-1:30 so badly, but this year just wasn’t my year. I got my half-marathon time down from 1:46 in 2013 to 1:30:05 in 2014, but I’m going to have to keep working at it. Elite runner Krista DuChene was at the finish line at this particular race, and she saw how disappointed I was. “It only makes you hungrier,” she told me, sharing a story about her own disappointment the first time she ran Boston. Wise words to remember! Looking back, I’m really proud of my half-marathon PB and I’m ready to crush it in 2015!

Favourite race shirt: the Harvest Half! I’ve got a billion blue race shirts, so a green one with a cool corn cob on it (who doesn’t love corn on the cob?) was something different and unique. Plus I love the v-neck!

photo(109)

(and I fail at knowing how to rotate this image…)

Craziest weather: that time I ran 22K in a white-out blizzard with 90km/h winds. I wish I was exaggerating. At several points, I thought they would find my frozen, embalmed body in a snowbank six months later. It was BAD (yet also, weirdly, super exhilarating and I felt so bad-ass when I dragged myself back to my apartment and collapsed in front of the fireplace).

photo(111)

Bundled up.

Best race expo: Rock and Roll Chicago – free massages, the chance to drive a new Honda Civic, awesome selection of running apparel/accessories (and decent prices!). Boston’s expo was awesome too, but overwhelming and I felt bad about dragging my family – especially my brother – there so I just ducked in and out. But in Chicago my friend Kelly and I really took our time, spending a few hours there before leisurely walking back along Chicago’s gorgeous lakefront to our hostel to meet our two other friends. It was awesome.

photo(112)

My friend Jess and I at the Chicago expo

Best new running friend: Mary Anne, a woman I initially met through church. We realized we were both runners, and since then we’ve met up at three races this past fall, including my last race of 2014 – the Georgetown Egg Nog Jog. She is one of the most resilient, dedicated runners I know, and her goal-setting and commitment to running is so inspiring! After the race we went back to her place and she showed me the 80+ medals she has from racing, including a marathon medal from my birth year, 1988! Looking forward to more races in 2015 with Mary Anne!

photo(115)

Most inspiring elite: Shalane Flanagan. I love how gutsy she is! She recently had a great interview with Runner’s World about the recent doping scandal (heart = broken over Jeptoo) and once again, I loved everything she had to say. Embarrassing thing to admit: when I’m racing (or even just doing a tough workout), I try to channel my inner Shalane. It actually really helps motivate me!

Biggest running fail: putting water in a ziploc bag and tucking said bag in your sports bra because you can’t find your hand-held water bottle and you’re heading out on a 22 mile run DOES NOT WORK. The water will gradually seep out of the ziploc bag, making it look like you’re lactating and leaving you with no form of hydration. Just a heads-up. Either find your water bottle or stash water along your route ahead of time.

Favourite workout: I don’t exactly love doing it, but love how it really gets you ready for hills: 2 mile warm up, 10x600m hill repeats, with downhill jog, 2 mile cool down. Whew!

Favourite running song: Love lift me – Amanda Marshall. Man, that chorus. When it kicks in you just want to fly.

Top running message: in the words of Dave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon, “my game, my rules.” Not every race is going to be your best race or a PB. Sometimes you’re not going to have the time or desire to train for a big race or run every day. That’s fine. Running is for you, it’s personal, it’s hopefully going to be something you can do forever, and you get to make the rules. You get to choose, and I choose to run happy. 🙂

photo(114)

Looking forward to what 2015 has in store running-wise!

Advertisements

Well, that was unexpected – when a brief break from running turns into something much longer

When I crossed the finish line of the Run for the Toad 50K ultra Oct. 4, I knew that was going to be the last run for me for the rest of the month. My body – and mind, to be honest – needed a break. Although I loved training for the ultra throughout the summer, by September I was feeling decidedly uninspired, unmotivated and just ready to run it. I also knew my body had been through a lot in 2014 – training for Boston, getting injured, running Boston, training for a half-marathon PB, and now my first 50K . It was time to rest, and I was completely OK with that and even a little excited to recharge and come back in November ready and eager to run again.

Only, that’s not what happened. I enjoyed October’s break (well, kind of – there was one particularly gorgeous sunny Saturday where my dad was going out for a 6K run and my mom almost literally had to sit me down and stop me from joining him, sans orthotics, just a week out from the ultra, but what can I say? It seems a crime not to take advantage of beautiful fall running weather!), had fun with friends, went out drinking a couple times, and just generally loosened up from my more rigid training schedule, which is always a good thing to do and I know something I should do more often.

Cheering my dad on at his first 8K - way to go!

Cheering my dad on at his first 8K – way to go!

But when November rolled around and I excitedly went to lace up my shoes, I realized…I was injured. Yep, that month off running, meant to allow my body to rest and recover, actually resulted in plantar fasciitis in my right heel from not wearing orthotics in my regular, non-running shoes. Ouch! So that was fun. And then on top of that, some random pain in my left quad kept me from running even after the plantar fasciitis was OK to run on.

I’m *just* getting back to running now, 2.5 months later. And I say that with a lot of trepidation! I don’t want to jinx anything. I went for my first pain-free, longer run today that’s also been the longest distance I’ve done since the 50K – 8.6 miles, on the soft trails by my apartment.

This is my happy place.

This is my happy place.

Up until today, my longest pain-free runs had been two miles. Anything more than that, and I’d feel sharp pain in my quad, so I’d back down and take a week off before trying again. Then last weekend, I had a 10K race I had signed up for a long time ago with my running friend Mary Anne. I was in that agonizing limbo every runner finds themselves in sooner or later – do I race and potentially make this injury worse, or do I miss out on the race experience, the race fee and the race shirt and medal? (let’s be honest, a big part of why we do races is the swag at the end, right?)

Anyway, I’ll recap the race later but I will say now that it wasn’t as painful as I was preparing for. My leg felt…maybe 65% normal? And my heel felt fine, although a couple days later I wore winter boots without orthotics (they don’t fit in!) to walk the short distance to work and my heel has been bothering me ever since. So I’m kinda resigning myself to having to wear my running shoes to church on Christmas Eve haha…because seriously, right now they and my Birkenstocks are the only shoes with the support I need for my heel.

I’m easing back into running very slowly, and even though I’m ecstatic at today’s pain-free longer run, I know I can’t push it too fast or too soon. The pool has been a fantastic alternative this past month, especially, and I’ve resumed physio for my quad. I’ve been itching to do some speed workouts or really long runs, but I’ve got to be happy with slow and steady for now. And honestly, I really am fine with that. I just missed running so much, and today’s time on the trails was good for my soul.

But if I’m asking Santa for anything this Christmas, it’s for an injury-free 2015! (and a half-marathon and marathon PB would be nice too, but I’m willing to put the work in for those!)