It’s time for an action plan

My YouTube debut. Thankfully, Dave was nice enough not to film me walking.

So it turns out I did actually tear a calf muscle. At the insistence of Kirsty, I went and made an appointment with Dr.Mike to get it checked out. That was my first time going to see a specialist for anything sports-injury related, and now I know why Kirsty didn’t tell me much about what to expect.

Active Release Therapy HURTS. Dr. Mike busted out this metal spatula device and started scraping my calf, like one might try to scrape the blackened burnt part off a piece of toast. But more violently.

Then he dug his thumb right into the torn muscle and asked me to FLEX my foot, which is something that hurt to do anyways, let alone with a thumb digging into the muscle. “Go go go go go! Pull pull pull!” I felt like a Biggest Loser contestant at the mercy of Jillian Michaels the way my face was contorting in pain.

But then I hopped off the table, and I could walk without a limp. I had zero pain in my calf, and haven’t felt pain in it since. Dr.Mike works (painful) miracles.

A few other pointers he gave me: You started out to fast. Get a coach, train properly. Six half marathons in one year is too much. No running for two weeks. Take up swimming and do some light cycling. You should be good to go for the Bear Mountain 10K  in November (yes! — that’s all I needed to hear).

So now my plan is to join a marathon running group and a triathlon club in January. I also need to take swimming lessons and get a proper bike. I signed up for the Gunnar Shaw as well, an off-road 10k at Thetis Lake in November that takes you through mud pits and freezing lake water (already bought some sweet trail running shoes for this adventure from MEC!), and have my sights set on doing the Island Race Series and another marathon in the spring.

Nothing helps to heal a running injury more than coming up with a new action plan — well, to help to mentally heal, anyway.

The marathon

GoodLife Victoria Fitness medals. Earned that gold one in the centre!

Well that was painful.

I think I may have underestimated the 42.2. I knew 32km hurt. But that extra 10km was excruciating.

All went well up until the 30km mark. I had run a solid half at 1:49 and was keeping up my 5:00 pace until about the 23km mark. I felt my calves get tighter and less willing to move, so I did a run-walk combination until the 30km mark. I was taking a walk break when Dave, the videographer, caught up with me and made me run again so it could at least LOOK like I was trying.

 He stayed with me until the 32km mark then rode off, and that’s when my left calf cinched up so tight I thought I heard a pop. I hobbled up the hill at Clover Point, tried to start jogging again and couldn’t get my legs to move. I felt two huge blisters under the pads of my feet just waiting to burst. That, coupled with the pain, changed my focus from sub-4:00 to just finishing.

But I didn’t care. As much as it hurt to even walk, I was happy to be out in the sun and excited that in a few hours time I’d be sitting down to a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with 15 of my family members, who would all be excited to hear stories about my first marathon.

Tyler was waiting for me with 3km to go. I was walking still, and he ran over to me and tried to get me to jog. I couldn’t do it. Thankfully, he had a bottle of painkillers with him and some water, so I down a few pills and continued walking. He stayed with me until I was coming up on the last 800 metres and the Tylenol kicked in. I started a pathetic jog, ignoring my pulled calf muscle.

I saw Katie near the finish line. When she saw me she waved, and I think I yelled out something like “Kill me now”. I have never been so happy to cross the finish line.

Numb from the pain killers and feeling pretty good since I had just been walking, not running, for the last 12km, I grabbed some post-race eats and met up with Tyler, Katie and Dave. Dave filmed me for a post-race recap, and I think all I said was “I get to go eat 2500 calories worth of Thanksgiving dinner right now, so I’m feeling pretty good.”

Yes, I’m disappointed. But that was my first marathon. I had no idea what to expect. I could go on about how I didn’t train enough and should have done more long runs, but I was just happy to finish. Now that I know, next time will be different. At least my time of 4:36 will be pretty easy to beat, so a new marathon PB is almost guaranteed.


Turned down wine with friends last night and stuck with water. Have successfully spent most of my day off my feet. Got a massage and a facial this morning (okay…so a facial isn’t really necessary prep for a race, but it was awesome). Carb-loaded. Hydrated. Still need to go for that last 10-minute run to loosen up the legs and make myself a pasta dinner.

I feel pressured to run well tomorrow. I know ‘just finishing’ is an achievement in itself, but it’s not just going to be Tyler waiting for me at the finish line; my parents will be there, standing on the sidelines somewhere in Oak Bay; one of my friends said she’s going to come and watch, even though I’ve never come to watch one of her baseball or soccer games (sorry Katie); my co-workers will be there, some running and some watching.

And not only that, my whole run is going to be documented and filmed for my company’s YouTube account and plastered all over our social media.

Talk about pressure! What kind of a YouTube video would that be if I got a DNF or had to walk after 30k due to disabling leg cramps?

Dave, our videographer, said he’ll be riding his bike alongside the course, filming me as I run. Great. Can’t wait to see myself at the 35k mark, shuffling like a zombie, face contorted in pain.

I hope I can block all of that out. I just want to focus on putting one foot in front of the other – hopefully at a 5:10 pace, listening to some awesome tunes and feeding off everyone’s energy.

The marathon countdown is on

Indy & me hiking up Mt. Kobau in Osoyoos in the summer.

24, 26, 30, and 32 down without a single blog post. I thought I was supposed to be blogging about my marathon training?

Maybe I didn’t because those longer runs were draining any desire I had to write about running. When you spend 2.5+ hours running on Sundays, the last thing you want to do is go home and relive it in a blog post. Not that I didn’t have some interesting runs.

I ran a 26km after work once with a backpack full of clothes, work shoes and lunch containers, into a strong headwind along part of the marathon course and then down the Goose. I was going away for the weekend to see a concert in the states, so it was then or never. I felt surprisingly good, although my upper back felt buggered.

I ran a 30km on the hottest day of the year. I ran Elk/Beaver Lake three times (was supposed to be doing a 32km that weekend), and I was so hot and dehydrated I jumped in the lake with my clothes on when I hit 30km (shoes and Garmin removed, of course). Just didn’t have it in me to go on.

Last weekend, I finally ran 32km. The plan was to do it the weekend before, but I ended up racing the Lands End Half Marathon that weekend (more on that in a minute). I went out the night before and had a few glasses of wine, so it took awhile for me to get going. I didn’t end up leaving until 4pm. When I set out, a group of Langford’s finest were stumbling their way to the Luxton Fair, beers in hand. One of them decided to run alongside me, much to the delight of his friends, as I made my way to the Goose. He was stumbling and struggling to keep up, saying something like “slow down, I’m spilling my beer!”, so I ran faster. He gave up after only 20 seconds!

After that amusing episode, I headed off down the Goose to Swan Lake and back. I felt great, took a bunch of walk breaks and made it about 25-28km before the leg cramps started. I ended up having to wait over 10 minutes to cross Sooke Road thanks to a broken cross walk button, which didn’t help the situation. By the time I reached 30km, my muscles were seized up and I had slowed down to about a 7:00 pace. Ugh. I overshot my kilometre estimate too, and finished my 32km still one kilometre from home. I hobbled home in the dark and ate my weight in pasta that night.

So here I am on the taper. I have a 1:30 run to do today. I did I 10km yesterday plus a workout DVD, which probably wasn’t the best idea, since my butt, legs and thighs are screaming at me right now. I need to ease up a bit with my workouts and wine consumption if I want to finish the marathon in an upright position.

More on Lands End: Kirsty and I both ran half marathon PBs at Lands End. So glad I gave up my Beerfest tickets for that weekend…I don’t think a PB would have been possible if I spent 6 hours drinking beer the day before.

It was pouring rain and the course was up-and-down, but I managed to finish in 1:45:46. About half of my kilometres were sub-5:00; crazy, since my usual training pace in 5:30-5:45. It’s amazing what your body can do when your racing.

Kirsty ran it in 1:56; a new PB for her after running the Nanaimo Half Marathon (and setting a PB there, too) the week before. Two consecutive halfs in two weeks; not even I would do that! She’ll be running the half at the GoodLife Victoria Marathon; a sense another new PB for her there, too!

I promise I’ll update more. Now with less time spent running, I’ have more time to write. The countdown is on.

Hitting the Great Wall

The Great Wall Marathon - Photo from www.great-wall-marathon.com

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t laced up my running shoes in 12 days.

In fact, I haven’t done any physical activity besides packing boxes, moving furniture and going housewares shopping.

I’ve tried everything to get out there for a run: setting my alarm clock for 4:00 am (didn’t work – went back to sleep), Tweeting my running plans for the day (never happened), putting on my running clothes as soon as I get in the door (I end up taking the dog out then looking up matching bedroom sets online).  Pathetic!

But I do have to give myself some slack. With the puppy and moving and my boyfriend working 15 hour days while all of this is going on, I haven’t had much free time. I feel guilty for not spending my free time doing something productive, like cleaning or unpacking, but then I also feel guilty for not running.

I bought four running magazines yesterday. I find they are the best inspiration when I’m in the rut like this. Reading about the tips, tribulations and triumphs of running always gets me out the door. If a new mom or someone going through chemo can find time to run, surely I can suck it up and find time. Or make time, if I have to.

I find nothing gets you more motivated to run like a goal race. Sure, I have my first marathon coming up in October and I haven’t run farther than 21.1 km yet…but that doesn’t seem to be enough.

So I have a new goal now, one that was planted into my head by my best friend the other day on Facebook. She has been living in Montreal for the past four years for school, and is coming home to Victoria soon. After graduating highschool and before university, she and I went backpacking in Thailand and New Zealand for two months, and we promised each other we would travel again after university. Well, she’s done, and I’m almost done.

 Yesterday she made the mistake of writing on my Facebook wall that we should run the Great Wall of China.

 Turns out there is a marathon there in May, and if funds are available, we’ll  be doing it.

Can’t think of a greater goal to get me psyched about running more than the Great Wall.

The Fort Rodd Hill Historic hills, rain, fire, delays & baby ducks Half Marathon

Early morning fire that shortened the half-marathon route. Photo credit the Dale Langdon from the Times Colonist website

When I crossed the finish line today for the Fort Rodd Hill Historic Half Marathon in roughly one hour and 49 minutes, I wasn’t super excited or feeling like I could take on the world – the way I usually feel after completing a challenging half-marathon, let alone getting a new PB.

I felt too good to feel accomplished.

My legs felt great, for starters.  When I stopped to lift my foot to have my timing chip removed, I didn’t strain to find my balance and the muscle power like I usually do. I casually walked over to my parents, who were patiently waiting for me to cross the finish line in the rain, and gave them hugs instead of staggering around zombie looking for chocolate milk and a place to sit.

During the race, I kept up a great pace – I started slow and picked it up to a 5:17 – 5:20 pace, and I didn’t breathe hard except when I ran up the hills.  I crossed the finish line with a PB of 1:49:17, but I knew I was a little slower than that.

An early morning fire destroyed part of the Colwood Plaza, and I guess they shut down the portion of the Galloping Goose Trail that we were supposed to run on.  After a half-hour delay, we ended up running all the way along Sooke Road instead of taking the Goose Trail.  Since I knew this would shorten the route, I knew my time was going to be off.  Not knowing your exact distance and time can be an issue for some runners; I know it is for me. Sometimes races or PB goals come down to the seconds, so accuracy is important.

As soon as I got home, I mapped out both routes using Walkjogrun.com.  My best guess is the race was shortened by about 400m.  According to my pace running a 20.7 km race, I should have come in around 1:52, which is still my half-marathon PB by two minutes.  So why wasn’t I completely elated when I crossed the finish line like I was at BMO?

I think the combination of not knowing my exact time and not feeling totally gassed at the end made it feel like just another run.  It was also a small event; maybe 200 runners or so.  Everyone was fairly spaced out on the road, so most of the time I didn’t see other runners; I just felt like I was out on a long Sunday run on the Esquimalt Lagoon loop.

Or maybe I’m just becoming more efficient, and should start to step it up to the marathon distance?

It was a great run, though.  The jazercise at the start was quite amusing, and it was a well-organized race.  The scenery was great, too; the lighthouse, the old historic forts, and the lagoon are definitely the highlights.

Other highlights for me included seeing my friend Meghan watching out of the window of her house, then coming outside to cheer me on when I ran past.  It was also kind of cool seeing the damage from the blaze, although I do feel bad for the owners of that property. I got to meet Kirsty, which was great, and see her come flying down towards the finish line in great form! I also saw some cute baby ducks waddling along down on the beach at the lagoon – all in a day’s run!

So what did I do right this time as opposed to my last half-marathon? I think the constant excercise and running the week prior had a lot to do with the condition of my body during the run.  I’ve also been doing yoga three times a week to stretch and breathe, which I think helped a lot. 

So what’s next? I would like to do two of the GutBuster Trail Running Series runs, and will be adding kilometres to my Sunday runs to build up to the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon in October.

But for now, it’s time for feet up, rolling-pin, lap top and food!

Constant state of taper

I’m going to try something different this week.

For the past few half-marathons, I’ve been taking it pretty easy the week before a race.  I might do two runs, one 10k and one 20-minute easy run, 30 minutes of yoga and maybe free weights.  The week before the Oak Bay Half, I did one 30-minute run and one 20-minute.  The problem is, I’m training for a marathon, yet when I sign up for these half-marathons, I feel like I’m in a constant state of taper.  I think to myself, you have a race next week, you can take it easy… but really, I should treat these races as part of my training, since they are not my goal races. 

Or maybe I’m just using that as an excuse to be lazy?

Not this time.  I’m filling my schedule this week with normal workouts – 30-, 45-, 30-, 30-, and 20-minute runs, free weights twice this week and at least three 30-minute yoga sessions.  Friday will be my rest day.

I ran the Fort Rodd Hill Half-Marathon loop once, minus the portion down by the lighthouse.  It’s about a 10km loop, and I ran it in about 55 minutes.  Let’s see how my training schedule will affect my race on Sunday!

Well, it’s been a month

Remember how I said no more half marathons for at least a month? Well, it’s been a month (almost), and next weekend I’ll be running the Fort Rodd Hill Historic Half Marathon.  How could I not run a half marathon in my ‘hood?  I used the Esquimalt Lagoon loop route as part of my training for the Bear Mountain 10K.  I decided right off the bat that I would not be going for any time records here, since this route involves a HUGE hill, one comparable to some of the hills on the Bear Mountain course.  According to the route map, it looked as if we would be running up this hill; however, after Kirsty pointed out to me that the elevation map showed otherwise, I might try to go for a decent time – decent in the sense of around the two-hour mark, considering my lack of training in the past two weeks. 

I’ve been a bad runner.

I’ve done maybe four runs since the Oak Bay Half, and a handful of workouts.  I’m just transitioning to a new job for the summer (a really awesome job by the way, one where I get to write and blog about travel and get paid for it!) so I’ve been busy and haven’t figured out my workout schedule yet.  It’s okay, though.  I have about four-and-a-half months to train for the full RVM, which, by the way, is now known as the Goodlife FitnessVictoria Marathon. I can’t wait to dust off the ‘ol bike and take the Goose to work again – lucky for me my work has change rooms with showers, so I don’t have to sit there with helmet hair all day.  It’s nice to mix up the running with a bit of outdoor biking now and again.

No more half marathons…for at LEAST a month


Me running the Oak Bay Half

Running the Oak Bay Half, trying to keep up with Mere (to the left). Photo credit Yan Lyesin

As I shuffle around in pain in my condo today, I will think about the do’s and don’ts of running half marathons.  The first being, don’t run races two weeks apart until you become a running machine; you will hit the wall a lot sooner than you expect.  The second is, you know not to start out too fast, so don’t do it.  I could blame that on the fact I saw a friend at about kilometre three and I wanted to run with her, so I kept up with her pace of about 5:05 for 13kms.  We ended up running to the halfway point at about 54 minutes, four minutes faster than my last race in Vancouver.  I told her I was going to hit the wall, probably to excuse myself if she left me in the dust, which was another mistake.  By running too fast and getting myself in that mindset, I got a cramp, my legs got heavy, and I watched her fade into the distance.  The rest of the race after that was a slog; I got cramp after cramp, and my legs didn’t want to move.  It was interesting reading Tori’s post about her Oak Bay Half experience, because I read a similar article in iRun magazine about your brain telling your body to quit before it’s ready as a mechanism of preservation.  I kept trying to tell myself my legs are fine, but the nasty hills in the last few kilometres told me otherwise.

I actually ran a decent time of 1:56:18, which I would have been elated about two weeks ago.  But when you run a faster time two weeks prior, running a slower time is disappointing, but at least it made me learn a lesson: listen to the  advice from training programs and running magazines, it really DOES help.

What’s your pre-race ritual/superstition?

I know we all do it.  Anyone who has trained for any sort of sporting event has their superstitions or rituals they practice before an event.  For runners, we make sure we eat a dinner packed with carbs, keep ourselves hydrated and get some quality shut-eye the night before a race.  Some of our rituals may be necessities, such as avoiding heavy or fibre-rich meals so we don’t have tummy troubles during our race the next day, or going for a short run to stretch out our legs rather than completely rest up. 

Now that I’ve competed in three half marathons, I’ve noticed some particular pre-race patterns.  Idealistically, I do a 20-minute easy run the night before, eat a healthy chicken/grain/veggie dinner, stretch, relax, sleep for eight hours, get up feeling like an Olympian, eat a high carb breakfast two hours before, run the race and set a new PR.  But it’s never happened that way.  Take my last race, for example.  I shopped around Vancouver all day in uncomfortable shoes that left blisters on my heels, drank three glasses of wine at dinner, went to bed late, had a shitty sleep on a fold out couch, and, consequently, ran a great race and set a new PR.  For my first half marathon in October, I had food poisoning the whole week prior and couldn’t run for six days, only managing a bit of chicken noodle soup and a 20-minute run the night before the race.  I ran that race in under two hours (my goal was to run it under 2:07).

This time, for the Oak Bay Haf Marathon, I barely ran all week since I was so busy with other things, but I ate a healthy chicken stir fry dinner tonight and did a 20-minute slow run.  When I got back, I did 15 minutes of runner’s yoga, ate some cereal, and now I’m ready for bed at a decent time.  But I’m concerned.  My best races happen when I do everything the opposite of what running magazines and training programs will tell you to do. 

Should I bust out a bottle of Gewürztraminer and eat a bag of chocolate chips now? Might be just what I need.

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