Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 You Are Officially on Warning

After a lackluster Summer and Fall of 2016, I entered 2017 feeling optimistic and ready to roll. I guess my immune system had other plans as I left 2016 with a head cold that moved into my chest. That took a toll on my training, but once it passed I was again ready to fly. I signed up for the Houston Half Marathon with hopes of running another PB (I set my current PB in Houston last year). Instead of arriving on Thursday, I opted to arrive Friday. The race organizers were helpful and willing to provide 3 nights hotel so I opted to stay post race vs rushing off to the airport (note to self, if you go back choose Thurs-Sun).


I arrived as the sun was going down on Friday and did a quick jaunt on the treadmill. The legs felt like bricks, but I wasn't worried as it was after an early morning and a day of travel (aka normal). The next day I did my 30 min run outside around mid-day and boy was it ever humid. While out on my run, I told myself I was super glad I was only here for a half marathon and not a full and immediately thought of fellow Canadian (and new Vancouverite) Kevin Coffey who was supposed to run the full. Kevin had also been in Toronto this past October in those humid conditions and like myself, also dnf'd.


For once I fell asleep at a somewhat decent hour and then strangely in the middle of the night I woke up to go to the bathroom and then felt ill. I heaved a few times with no results and then went back to bed curled up in a ball and fell back asleep. Once morning came all was good and I headed off to the start. This is where I made my first mistake, I did my usual warm up of 20 minutes. Half way through that I was already sweating like crazy and knew this was going to be a hot one. What I should have done was cut back my warm up to avoid overheating too early. It was 97% humidity and 17 degrees Celsius at the start.


On the start I said some quick good lucks to Flagstaff runners Sara Hall and Kellyn Taylor and off we went. The first few km were okay but felt harder than they should have considering the pace. By 2k I knew I was hot. Every water station I poured water over my head trying to stay cool but it didn't work.


As the race progressed, I got slower and slower. I kept telling myself to keep pushing and that maybe after half way the legs would wake up (I am a marathoner and all) but that didn't happen. In the final few km a dude was nearby and commented on how he kept cramping up at the wrong times, when there were spectators and then he said that I looked strong.


At this point I had no idea what my time was but I knew it was slow, so I said thanks and told him it was a slow time for me as the humidity had taken a toll on this Canadian. He went on to say that he thought if one was used to extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, that you would excel at both. Sorry bud, not the case. He then joked "I know how to make your run faster, I'll tell you I voted for Trump." I am not too sure I should blog my response but it might have been something like "well then I might laugh and call you an idiot." Oh Trump.


I didn't look at my watch until I saw the clock at the end and it tick over 1:20 and I laughed and internally thought "ARE YOU KIDDING ME." Yes I realize many people would LOVE to race a 1:20 on a bad day, but honestly, I haven't run 1:20 in years. I headed inside feeling defeated and my poor bf (Warren) took the brunt of a "that sucked, I hate running" moment. I was done at the time. I didn't even cool down. Instead I interrupted Ryan Hall and Josh Cox and got a sweaty photo with Ryan just before he headed off. I had met Sara many times before in Flagstaff, but never Ryan so I began a nerd and got that photo. Plus Warren and Ryan hit it off talking about weight lifting and body building.


Houston Half

So that was Houston. I came home defeated but recovered quite well in the cooler temperatures so I jumped into a small 10k race here on the island (Cobble Hill 10k). It was pretty much a solo effort as I was in no mans land but came away with the win in 34:59. By far not my fastest 10k but I haven't raced a solid 10k in nearly 2 years (it's been all half's and fulls). I was happy to sneak under 35, even if by 1 second.


Cobble Hill 10k (the face that saw the clock read just over 35, but official results were 34:59)


Cobble Hill gave me some confidence back. Then it snowed and I was stuck on the treadmill for a bit thanks to people who don't shovel their sidewalks. I stayed on the treadmill an extra week (even doing a 33k run on the treadmill) to prep for the 21k Guadalajara. I had been approached by Athletics Canada after they received an invitation for 4 of us to attend the race. I apparently was the only dummy to say yes. Training leading up to the half was fantastic all the way until the Wednesday when suddenly my energy was crap. I chalked it up to being the first day in 2 weeks than I ran outside and off the treadmill but then Thursday was crap too. Still, I put it out of my head.


Warren and I left Thurs evening and arrived to Mexico City at 12:15am. It took 2 HOURS to get through customs. The race put us in a hotel at the airport to try and catch some sleep for our final 6:05am flight to Guadalajara. We were in the hotel and in bed by 3, probably asleep by 3:15 and up again at 4:30. Back to the airport and we were confused as can be trying to find where to go for our flight.


In the end, we finally found someone who spoke English and told us we had to switch terminals, so we catch the train over and then try and print our boarding passes (the one flight that wasn't able to be printed before we left) and were told "too late for check in" even though we had already checked in. We found a desk and they printed it and told us to run. We ran to security to find line ups. I spoke with an airport employee and told her we had 20 minutes at that point until our flight. She told us to wait here and walked off. She returned minutes later and spoke Spanish to us pointing to a line and shaking her head (no idea what she said). The line didn't move for over 5 minutes due to someone arguing with security. 10 minutes until the flight, I looked over to the next line and begged people to allow us ahead in which they did (thank you). We ran to the gate and were there at 6 only to be told "sorry." FACK.


We were advised to go get new tickets issues. Here begins the gong show. What I initially thought was stress (might have been a bug) from missing the flight caused me to start throwing up in the airport (don't worry, I got to the bathroom). We spoke with Aero Mexico who informed us even though the flight was on their plane it was issued by Air Canada so we had to go to them. So we find there desk only to be told no one would be there until 10:30am. WHAT?! We get directed to their office and I am literally heaving in their office as they tell us "We could help you if it was our fault, but since it's not, we can't. You need to buy new tickets." As hard as we try, they do not budge at all and so we head back to the hotel and ask for our room back until check out at 1pm. I proceed to hurl and sleep on the floor before finally getting back into bed for some sleep.


We get in touch with race organizers and ask what they want us to do and we were told to buy new tickets and they would reimburse (2 tickets from Mexico City to Guadalajara were just over $700 freaking Canadian). We bought new tickets for 5pm and spent 1pm to 5pm in the airport (at least we knew where to go this time). I try to eat in the airport but every time I do, it doesn't sit well. As soon as we board the plane I am in the bathroom heaving. Thankfully I slept on the plan for the short flight and that settled my stomach.


By the time we were checked into our hotel in Guadalajara it's nearly 9pm. My stomach feels better so I try to eat. It goes down okay but then I feel ill so Warren goes out to try and find some anti-nausea medication only to find Peptol Bismol. Well that didn't stay down long enough to work. I feel better after and eventually fall asleep.


Nausea was off and on the next day but I manage to keep down my first meal (dinner) since Thursday afternoon. Race morning I wake up and I am nauseous after eating some breakfast. That results in some heaving again a few times before the race starts. All of these were signs I shouldn't have started. The race was at 5000ft so I knew it wouldn't be fast. I was going to get in a good hard effort in prep for a marathon. Keeping down 1 meal in over 48 hours wasn't going to help. I still hope for the best but it wasn't meant to be. By 6k I am walking and heaving. It happens again at 8km. And at 11km. I stopped counting after that. I walked too many times to count.


I debated dropping out but I didn't want to do that to organizers like I had in Toronto. If this had been a full marathon, I would have dropped to save on recovery, but I knew I could get through a half. It was a great race (though I question if people truthfully ran the entire course as I passed some questionable people even though I was slowing down) and well run (minus not knowing what the heck was going on in the Tech meeting due to not speaking Spanish and not enough translation).


I finished in an embarrassingly slow time (yep slower than Houston) and nearly threw up in the elite tent after the race. It was a slow walk back to the hotel where I nearly threw up multiple times. Eventually I had a long nap (4-5 hours) and felt a little better. I ate dinner that night and while the nausea came back, I had new nausea pills which seemed to help. It was hit or miss after that.


So I thought maybe it was nerves/anxiety initially but Warrens gut was also off and he felt nauseous many times as well. He never threw up, but felt off. Warning, TMI. My bowels were also off the entire time away too. We found out later that Warren's daughter was also throwing up on Friday (we had her at our place until Thursday morning) so who knows what was going on. I still don't know but I do know that we flew home Monday night leaving Guadalajara at 10pm and arrived back to Nanaimo for 8am again after getting lost in Mexico City (I will avoid that airport always from now on). 2 days after getting home, I got hit with another head/sinus cold that as of Sunday moved into my chest and has made running feel like death. I know this shall pass, but I just can't seem to catch a break! Hopefully soon, so that is why 2017 is officially on warning. Smarten up 2017. I am fit, let me show it!

Another Houston Photo

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Year That Was 2016


I realize back in October I promised a blog about the Canadian Marathon Standards. To be honest I procrastinated on it (bad habit) as I gathered my thoughts and then on November 21st, I did sit down and write ¾ of the blog. At this moment in time, which I hope to elaborate on in the future, I am going to hold off on finishing and posting that blog. So I apologize to those that want to read it.

I will say that hearing the standards of 2:29:50 (A standard) and 2:31:30 (B standard) only 4 days before the Toronto Waterfront Marathon (and National Championship) was a bit disheartening and extremely crushing. Since World’s was 2:35 in 2015, I (along with others I am sure) was expecting something a long those lines. I had to run Toronto to my fitness and my fitness said 2:35, not 2:31 or faster so I did not alter my race plans. Ultimately the conditions (humidity) were not favourable for a fast race anyways and no female hit the A or B Standard.


But enough about that. After the marathon, I took 3 days off before getting back into training. I guess the one benefit of dropping out at like 28.5k was that I didn’t need much of a recovery. I took 3 days off as the break was still needed, both mentally because of the DNF and physically because even though I didn’t finish the actual marathon, I did do all the training leading up to it. Even the training takes a toll on the body.


When I got back into workouts, my body felt awesome. I was flying out there. Partially because of the recent altitude stint I am sure. I am sad I didn’t pick another race to do but it was likely smarter not to. As I get older I realize I need to be smarter and I am learning. In fact, after a stint of “flying”, I started back with some strength and suddenly, I was dragging my legs around North Nanaimo. Runs felt blah. Mentally it was hard. Even though I may be considered “elite” here in Canada, that doesn’t mean I am super human. I have days where I simply just don’t want to run. I generally do because I know I must if I want to achieve my goals, but some mornings I am literally dragging myself out the door. I think I even came home a few times and said “I hate running right now.” I knew it would pass though. It always does. 


I am also getting smarter with those little niggles. A couple times a few little niggles have acted up and once they have been around a few days I have adjusted training and even taken some unscheduled time off. I am learning….. slowly (and after a few injuries). Over Christmas I had a scheduled day off and then I was scheduled for my long run Christmas morning only to wake up with a wicked head cold. That resulted in a few days off and I must be honest, I felt guilty as heck. I know a few days training won’t make THAT much of a difference, but still, I hate to miss scheduled training. I don’t deny being stubborn.


Speaking of Christmas, it’s now 2017. Happy New Year! I just want to take a quick moment to recap my year and thank a few people. I am very grateful for my running as 2016 included my first DNF's (Calgary and Toronto), 2 PB's (Houston and Rotterdam) plus races that took me to Houston, Rotterdam, Calgary, Kelowna, Toronto and 2 training camps in Flagstaff Arizona. I love to travel so the ability to go away to races kills 2 birds with 1 stone right?

Flagstaff

2016 started off well. In January, I ran to a new PB at the Houston Half Marathon (1:14:45) despite having GI Issues.  In February, I had a lovely run along the seawall in the cold pouring rain courtesy the Vancouver First Half. I spent March in Flagstaff getting in some solid training before heading to Rotterdam in April. There I ran my best time of 2:37:48 after getting stuck with nasty blisters at 15k.

Then things kind of went downhill. In May, I DNF’d for the first time at the Calgary Half Marathon after tearing my hamstring. June was spent cross training like a mad woman before getting back into training in July. July and August was spent catching up it seemed. September, I ran the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon before heading off to Flagstaff again. There I snagged a nice toe infection that resulted in my DNF in October at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Being a bunny rabbit for the elementary schools

Now all that just covers my running life, it doesn’t even touch the fun personal life stuff. Let’s start in April which resulted in 6 months notice of my 2nd layoff/firing (in 2 years) from work at a senior’s facility. May saw the end of my 12-year relationship which brought on a summer and fall of stress trying to get things dealt with. Frick even this winter as I am still trying to get stuff dealt with but such is life. The end of September brought on the end of my employment and the start of the hunt for a new career (after 2 firings from my employer of 8 years, I might be done with health care).

Let’s just say 2016 was an interesting one and needless to say I was itching for 2017. It HAS to be better than last year right? We are one month in so far and it’s going okay. A bit of a rough start running wise (next blog) but personal life wise things are going well. I find myself in a new relationship with someone who has already attended almost every race I have done since meeting him last Summer.

I wouldn’t have got through last year without the support of a few people and businesses. Quick thank you’s. Let’s go local first.

Island Optimal, specifically Abe Avender. Abe is a HUGE support with regards to my running. I see him weekly for treatments so that he can keep my body in tip top shape. He never rushes our appointments and always picks me up motivationally when I need it. He’s been a huge part of my recovery process since 2009 I believe.

Knappett Industries. These guys provided some much needed funding this past year in which I was able to attend a 3 week training camp in Flagstaff leading into the Toronto Marathon. Without their support, things would have been a lot more stressful. I hope to make them proud in 2017.

Yvonne Visser and Chantel Went (RMT’s). I have been seeing Yvonne for a few years and she is one of the best RMT’s around. So good that she’s always booked ahead of time so recently after some hamstring tightness I made an emergency appointment with Chantel Went and I will have to say that Chantel’s skills are amazing as well. Nanaimo, if you need a massage, book with these 2 ladies and you won’t be disappointed.

Sundog Eyewear. You guys keep me looking stylish as I run. I cannot live without sunglasses so the endless supply is exactly what I need.

Pacific Sport. I just finished my first year with them and am grateful for their program so that I can use the gym and pool. This came in HUGE this past summer when I was injured with my hamstring tear. 2 hours a day spent on the elliptical nearly, I definitely got good use out of that card!

Asics Canada. I have just completed 3 years with these guys now (I think). They kept me in style with their new clothing lines each Spring and Fall, not to mention the shoes that kept my feet happy over all the miles I run each year. Thank you for that. I hope you’ll continue this journey with me.

Stoked Oats. I joined up with them this past year. Their oats are to die for! Simply amazing. It’s my go to breakfast before my races and as recovery food post workouts. If you have not yet tried Stoked Oats, what are you waiting for? Trust me, they are worth the extra money as they are good quality over the instant oats available for cheap.

Nuun Hydration. I think I am beginning my 3rd year with them. I simply cannot live without Nuun. Plain water is boring. Without Nuun I would be dehydrated as can be. I simply live the #nuunlife. Thanks for keeping my water tasting amazing!

I think that does it for businesses, so on the personal side, thank you to my coach Matt Clout for working with me since late 2008. I say this every year, it’s been a while ride but we aren’t done yet. Toyko 2020 right Matt? Thanks to you for your guidance and support and to Sarah for allowing me to take up part of your time, especially when you are up in the middle of the night following my races (Rotterdam).

To my family, mom, step dad, dad, step mom, sister, brother in law, extended sisters/brother, nieces, aunts, cousins etc., thank you for your thoughts during my races and for following along. I know my running causes me to be selfish at times causing me to miss out on occasions or visits and I apologize for that. Please know that I love and care for you all.

To Jason and his family, things may not have worked out, but I know I had support from most of you with regards to my races. Thanks for looking after things while I was away trying to make my running related dreams come true.

To my friends and former coworkers, you guys are always amazing. Whether text, social media or in person, I appreciate you all taking time to comment on my posts or send me messages. You guys always check in on me and always seem know how to pick up this athlete when she’s down.

Lastly, to my newest family, Warren and his girls, you guys didn’t come into my life until the later part of the year, but your support so far has been unwavering. What the future holds is anyone’s guess, but I look forward to the adventure .


Bring on 2017







PS. If I have missed you, I am sorry. I always miss someone!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

From Fit to DNF in 2 Weeks

So today was the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in which my training for the last 5 months was dedicated to but you won't find me in the finish results. You might see splits up until 25km (I'd suggest not looking) but no finish time. Yes, unfortunately I am here to report on DNF #2. I am not big on making excuses, I admit I simply didn't have my legs today but I do feel like I need to explain my last few weeks with regards to that statement.


Toronto


If you've followed my blog you will have read that my first ever DNF was back in May when I tore my hamstring at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon.... hmmm I've just noticed a trend here (though technically it's the Centaur Subaru Half Marathon). That injury kept me out for all of June in which I crossed trained madly (approx. 3 hours a day between elliptical and the bike). Doing so allowed me to keep decent fitness so when I began running again I was able to come back rather quickly.


During the summer, fitness improved as usual but I did find I was slightly behind my workouts prior to my Rotterdam Marathon in April. No worries though, I still had time. I went to Flagstaff in mid Sept ready to work hard and finish up this training block to take my 2nd attempt at the 2:35 barrier (thanks to the Rotterdam blisters).

Unfortunately, in the final 72 hours before leaving Flagstaff I noticed that my baby toe on my left foot was sore during a run. I figured there was just a blister under the nail. I went to Sedona that afternoon with Emily and the toe would throb on and off. When it did throb, it freaking hurt enough to make me jump at times. Again, I still figured it was a blister.

I did my 2nd run that day as planned and the foot actually felt better when running, but once I stopped the throbbing returning and became more frequent. I still thought it was a blister so I tried to find said blister by poking around the nail. No such luck. As we progressed into the later evening, the pain got worse so it was suggested by a few people to burn a pin and try to poke a hole in my nail. At around 11:30pm I sat there trying to do just that. I burnt a hole but had no luck finding a blister. Keep in mind, that nail is thick as can be from years of abuse.

Eventually I gave up on that job. This is where things turned bad. Within an hour I found myself dry heaving from the pain. It was now practically every 5 seconds. Imagine someone taking a knife and stabbing your toe every 5 seconds. This is what it felt like.

That night I think I slept maybe 4 hours of broken up sleep. An hour here, an hour there. By 6am, the stabbing/throbbing pain had moved into the toe joint at the outside of the foot. At this point I was desperate for help cause silly me didn't get any travel insurance (yeah yeah don't lecture me, lesson learned).  I weighed out my options of A) visiting the hospital B) Rebooking my flights home for that day (Monday) instead of Wednesday and C) Curling up into a ball and crying my eyes out. In the end I messaged my friend Jason and thankfully I was able to see a doctor who wouldn't charge me thousands like the hospital would.

By the time I saw the doctor my foot was red and warm and clearly infected so I was prescribed some antibiotics and some pain killers (not a banned substance. I checked) and I was sent on my way. After my 2 hour drive back to Flagstaff, I popped one of those pain killers and was asleep about an hour later. I think I ended up sleeping 12 hours total that night. Slowly but surely the pain subsided with help of the meds.

I flew home on Wednesday and on Thursday I saw a doctor here in town as some pus filled blisters were showing up on my toe. With the race coming up I didn't want to take any risks. I needed this healed right and healed ASAP. She changed up my antibiotics and within 12 hours of switching I felt like I had the flu and had the worst headache of my life for 2 days. Last Saturday I did not even get dressed as I did not leave my bed or the couch. I even resulted in taking both Advil and the pain killers. I also stopped those antibiotics on Saturday morning.

Thankfully Sunday morning I felt more human so I stopped in at the ER (long weekend, limited walk in clinics) to switch back to the former antibiotics (unfortunately the previous doctor discarded them). Sunday night my gut rotted from the antibiotics (fun times). I stayed on those antibiotics until Tuesday night and then even though my toe was still slightly red with a nice puffy blister on top. For essentially a week, I felt nauseous on those medications and my foot and fluid intake was less than ideal. Thankfully after stopping the meds, my stomach came back around and by Wednesday I could eat properly again.

At this point I felt weak, but I tried my best to take in good nutrition and hydration hoping that I could pull myself back around by race day. If you asked me last Saturday, I was going to be a DNS. On Sunday after my 90 minute run I thought that I definitely had a shot for this race.  Monday again was a DNS. Tuesday onwards, I thought (hoped) I could put in a decent effort. I thought I still had time for my body's health to figure itself out and turn itself around.

I flew out of Nanaimo on Thursday morning at 5:50am. By the time I arrived in Toronto my throat was sore. I brushed it off as due to the air on the plane. Friday my sinuses began to act up but I told myself now was not the time to get sick. Saturday my left sinus still wasn't happy, oh crap.... realization that maybe this is a head cold. Go figure. JUST my luck.

The days leading into the marathon were busy(ish) with Friday morning spent at the expo for the press conference in order to have our bibs presented to us and a panel hosted by Kate Van Buskirk that included Rachel Hannah, Krista Duchene, Dayna Pidhoresky, Leslie Sexton, Tarah Korir and myself. Saturday was getting bottles ready along with the tech meeting.


West Coast represents with #teamshitsandblisters


Race morning came and I hoped for the best. You never know, sometimes you can feel horrid going into a race and have the best race of your life. I knew 42.2k was a long way to go on a less than healthy body but I hoped for the best. It would sort itself out. I just needed it to cooperate with me for 2 hours, 34 minutes and XX seconds but alas it was not meant to be.


Before the start


Warm up felt like normal. Again I was hopeful. The race went off and quite quickly I realized not only that it was warm and humid but that my body wasn't exactly happy. I told myself that it was okay. In Victoria last October I felt like crap at 12k. In Rotterdam I also felt like crap early on. I told myself it would pass. It did not. My lovely pacer tried his best to keep me going. Yannick Lapierre also tried to help out (thanks Yannick) but my body just did not have it. Just before 21.1k I had to stop for the washroom. I tried to get going again but my legs would just not go. My lungs were completely fine, but the legs had nothing. I hung on, telling myself, it'll get better. Maybe, just maybe you'll feel better in the second half. Ultimately I just kept slowing down so I made the call at 27k to pull out. Actually I made the call before that, I just kept running until I found a med tent.

Basically I weighed my options, fight through, run the last 15km at this slower pace and wear my body out to run a time I would be incredibly disappointed in. My body already wasn't at full health due to infections and sickness, why push it further for no reason. Stopping at 27k saves me from that. It allows me to come back quicker and move onto whatever the next venture is. Trust me, I fought with this decision from 10k to 27k and it didn't come easy. I've been very vocal how I hate to DNF. I did not at all want to DNF, but continuing to run would have been stupid. I knew my coach would have wanted me to stop.

The final 2 weeks leading into this race were the 2 of most stressful weeks of my life thus far. Not only was I dealing with this health stuff, but I was dealing with personal life stress too. As much as I tried to put the personal stress into a box until after the race, it was near impossible. It's no surprise that I feel worn down.

I know I shouldn't feel as though I have let people down and that I need to listen to the body (stop before making things worse or potentially injuring myself just to save my pride) but part of me does. All the messages of support prior to the race via text, FB, Twitter or Instagram mean the world to me. Just as all the messages I've received since the race. I feel like I have let the race organizers down since they have been incredibly awesome bringing me out to Toronto for this event. I'm sure they probably wouldn't want me to feel this way though as such is the marathon. It can be cruel but that small part of me still feels bad. So thank you Alan, Clif and CRS for bringing me out here. I'm sorry, but know that I want my revenge so I will be back.

I would also like to thanks Knappett Industries back home for their support leading into this, providing me some funding and to Abe at Island Optimal for all of his support and treatments. Also to Asics Canada, Sundog Eyewear, Stoked Oats and Nuun Hydration for their products. To Warren, Daniel, Ryan, Copper, Kyle, Kris and everyone else who tried to keep me on track over these last 2 weeks, I thank you (edit- oops totally forgot a huge thanks to my coach Matt Clout for his hard work and constant encouragement). I poured my heart into training for this event and sadly it was not the result I had imagined and visualized but I must not dwell too long. Sure I will pout for a bit (that's allowed right?), but it's time to re-evaluate and figure out how to proceed next. Onwards they say right?

On side note, stay tuned for a post about my thoughts on the AC World Marathon Standards and how it affected my thoughts going into the race. I will try to get to that later this week as I feel it deserves it's own post.

Oh and on another good note, no return of the Rotterdam Blisters!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Life Goes On

Phew. After such a loaded blog a few weeks ago, this one may seem a little boring to everyone! As much as some of you readers may be disappointed that this one isn't chocked blocked full of goodness, I am glad that life has calmed down a little.

I am now nearing the end of my time here in Flagstaff and have entered my final week. The first week here was stressful to the max. Not only was I dealing with the normal stress of adapting to running at 7000ft altitude, but I was provided some emotional stress from my former relationship and also some work stress. After I week I put an end to the stress though and requested that things be put on hold until after my marathon. Since then, running has perked back up again.

September 30th marked the day that I am officially laid off (aka fired) from my job. I have worked at Wexford Creek care facility since August 11th, 2008. It was the first and only care home that I worked at following taking the Health Care Aide course at VIU in early 2008. Good Samaritan Society hired me straight into a part time position before I had even finished the course as I was hired in the 2nd wave of employees. Both Wave 1 and Wave 2 were in the building before any resident moved in and before construction was even completed.

After 8 years and nearly 3 months, I am no longer employed by GSS. Ultimately it's been a wild ride. The first 5 years were awesome, the last 3..... not so much (to say the least). I am going to give some basic info here and hope that it doesn't come back to haunt me. Please be warned I need to give the "filtered" version in order to protect myself. Most of what I am going to say will have been in the papers already, so I should be ok.

Wexford and their one main amazing scheduler was amazing when it came to my running. I was able to get off any time that I needed, whether for a race or to go away for 3-4 weeks to Flagstaff. Whether they could cover me easily or not, they found a way to get it down. All good things come to an end though.

On April 1st, 2014 while I was in Flagstaff, I learned via Facebook that we would all be laid off in September and have to reapply for our jobs at less pay and less benefits due to the facility losing $3 million dollars in 6 years. Many of the existing staff jumped ship, but some of us were stubborn and hung around. The pay cut wasn't drastic, though the loss of vacation was a bummer for me.

The next 2 years were interesting and just when we got our hopes up again, last April 1st, 2016, a member from head office was scheduled to come again. I was home from Flagstaff, but only for a few days before heading off to Rotterdam. I knew the meeting was not good so opted not to go, asking a co-worker to fill me in. Yep, laid off again as of Sept 30th, 2016. This time though, GSS was planning to sell us stating that we continued to lose money (I'd like to go into further detail here, but need to be careful what I say so I will opt to stay quiet). Regardless if we were sold or not, GSS or the new company would be contracting out our positions.

I also have a ton I could say about what went on over the summer but I don't want it to hurt my chances of getting another job in the future. Let's just say that communication was horrid. We were kept in the dark nearly about everything, found out things via the paper or last minute. The sale went through August 23rd with the new company and we found out the first week of September who the new contractor was. On my last day of work before Flagstaff I interviewed for my own job back (even at the $3 per hour pay cut) as I had no idea what I wanted to do.

While away in Flagstaff, I was informed by a co-worker that during a general meeting at work, it was announced that the 4 care staff positions in my department (Assisted Living) would no longer exist as of Sept 30th so essentially the new company would not be hiring me back unless I changed departments. My coworkers and I essentially organized and ran that department for the nearly 8 years it existed and we were informed during a group meeting. Nice eh? From what I have heard, my residents are extremely upset by this change. I am hoping they will be okay but I am honestly worried about what is going to happen.

So there we have it, 8 years with "Good" Samaritan Society. I would like to thank my awesome co-workers (most of them anyways), my amazing residents and all the wonderful families I came into contact with over the last 8 year. It has been an amazing and enriching 8 years if you can ignore all the drama. Onwards to bigger and better things. Speaking of which, anyone have a job for me? ;)

On a side note training has been going well. I was able to do a quick trip back to BC last weekend for a wedding and that gave me the opportunity to do my final long marathon workout at sea level. It was much nicer to do that workout back there vs at 7000ft here. Now here I am on the last night here in Flagstaff. Time seemed to tick so slowly while I was here, but when I look back it seems to have gone fast. As usual Flagstaff training has been full of ups and downs. While I love easy runs here, workouts on the other hand leave me sucking wind while gasping for air and dreaming of sea level. Ready or not, 11 days to go.

Lake Mary Fun

 Early Morning Run before Flying back to BC

More Lake Mary

400's at NAU in the rain

Last Lake Mary workout with Emily


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New Partnership, Life Changes, Past Races and Marathon Annoucement

Wow, that title up there is packed with info. I could probably put this into multiple blogs but I will get it all done in one! Without realizing it, I appear to have neglected my blog for a little bit. I am happy to say that training is going well and I have fully recovered from the hamstring tear that occurred in May. I am full steam ahead toward my fall marathon plans. In fact, as I write this I am sitting on a plane on my way to Flagstaff Arizona for my usual pre-marathon training camp. I am stoked to have a training buddy join me, that being my West Coast Endurance teammate Emily Setlack.



Before getting into the rest of my updates, I would like to announce my partnership with KnappettIndustries (privately owned construction company). For those not aware of what Knappett Industries is all about, this blurb is taken from their website.

Since Commencing operations in 1988, Knappett Industries (2006) Ltd. has grown into a leading supplier of construction services for residential subdivision development, underground utility installation & replacement, road building and land clearing needs on Vancouver Island and Northern BC.”
Being born and raised in Nanaimo, I am super happy to team up with a local Nanaimo (and Fort St. John) business and am honored that they believe in my dream of competing for Canada in the upcoming future. With their funding, they ARE the reason why I have been able to take this trip to Flagstaff and I am extremely grateful.

With that being said, let’s back up slightly. Life since the spring has been hectic to say the least. April 1st lead me to finding out I was once again laid off from my job for the 2nd time in 2 years, this time with the business being sold and our positions being contracted out for a significant cut (recently found out it was approx. $3/hour and less benefits). As of right now, all I know is that I am unemployed as of Oct 1st. Time will tell what happens there.

The other thing that happened was related to my personal life in which I refuse to air dirty laundry out on social media but to put it simple, I saw the end of my 12-year relationship. Ultimately my goals and dreams running wise appear to have gotten in the way and at this time I am not willing to give up on those dreams. Those who wish to know more can feel free to contact me; however, as I stated, I am not going to air it out via the internet. Needless to say, life has been stressful, but at the same time I have also met some amazing new friends in my life over the last few months and reconnected with a few great ones as well. Life throws some unexpected twists sometimes and you just have to hang on. Right now, I am trying to do just that.

Now that my personal life is over with, let’s get back to running. I recently jumped into the Destination Races Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon. Coach Matt and I decided that it would be a good idea to get in a rust buster of a race and with heading to Flagstaff there weren’t really a whole lot of options. Coach Matt also decided I was going to train through this race and didn’t require a taper (thanks Coach Matt). I headed up to Kelowna early Saturday morning with an amazing support team. Once I arrived, I visited the expo, picked up my number and caught up with race organizer Matt. I then headed out on my 30-minute shakeout run and my legs felt horrible. I was still hoping for the best on race day though. The rest of the day was spent relaxing for the most part.

 

Race morning, I was up early at 4:45 to eat some breakfast before heading to the shuttle buses for 5:30. I caught the first bus without issue to ensure I was there with plenty of time before the race. The night before the race I had heard that former Olympian Malindi Elmore was racing. That put a few nerves into my system but I was told by many to trust my training and that I would be fine (turns out Malindi just tempo’d the effort in preparation for an upcoming Ironman). I ran my race warm up and it felt decent.


 

The start line was very casual. No one seemed to want to start on the line, so that left me practically standing there alone. When the race started the overall winner Brad Bickley took off and left the rest of us in his dust. I plodded along in 2nd and worked my way through the rolling hills surrounded by orchards and vineyards. The legs seemed to feel okay. I got to the 9.5km mark and thought I had run the first hilly part better than last year (apparently not but I’ll get to that in a minute). Then the long steep decent started which I tried to roll with it and not “brake” too much by leaning back. I had formed a bit of a gap on the hills on 3rd overall, but in the end, my lack of downhill running allowed him to catch me by the time we hit the flat at 12.5k.

 

We entered the gravel trail along the river and again I felt like I was rolling along. Then onto the paved bike path and still I felt like I was rolling along. With about 5km left I started looking at splits. Now that was a mistake. They were rolling by too slowly. My legs were just not turning over. In the final 5km another guy passed me which put me into 4th overall. I rounded the corner to the finish and saw the clock was over 1:16 and I was disappointed. This was the first time I had seen the overall time. While I had seen splits, I never looked at the accumulative time. I crossed the line in 1:16:36 and while I was happy to take the win, I was truly disappointed in the time. It felt much faster than that. I guess my legs were a tad tired from the week of training (I think was around 150k that week) or at least that is what I am telling myself. ;)


The rest of the day was spent eating and relaxing pool side before a drive back to the island the following morning. Huge thank you to Matt from Destination Races for having me back at the race.  Looking back, it was a solid effort near marathon pace and that is really all I needed. I still have time to build before race day and with tapered legs, I will be good to go. In the meantime, it’s time to train!

What am I training for you might ask? Well I am happy to confirm I will be running the STWM (Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon) on October 16th and if all goes well, I will run World Standard (pending time standards still) for my 35th birthday! I am briefly mentioned in the press release here.




Monday, July 11, 2016

Rebuild 2016

First off I apologize for the delay in this update. Life has been a little bit chaotic to say the least. Better late than never right? Okay, onward to the injury update.

It's been 6 weeks since I attempted the Calgary Half Marathon and it's been 9 weeks since I initially tweaked my hamstring. I have just received an "ok" to trial running again. While I haven't felt the hamstring in weeks, we wanted to play it cautious and even still I am not in the clear to go back to it full stop. Easy running is okay, but I haven't been cleared for any speed.

Let's back up to about 2 weeks post injury, I had an ultrasound done on my hamstring which showed a small tear in my medial hamstring behind the knee. Darn it. That pop I felt during the race was not good but thankfully due to me sucking up my pride and pulling out for my first ever DNF, I was able to save myself from any further damage. 

Thank goodness, I was able to cross train and was pretty OCD about it for the last month, training 2-3 hours a day between the elliptical and the bike. The elliptical was a challenge as the gym I go to only had one and technically they have a 30 minute time limit. Every so often I was interrupted for someone else to get in their workout. I made the best of it and did my strength and rehab before getting back on. My only pet peeve was that the elliptical faces the row of treadmills so sorry to those on the treadmills who received my death stare as I elliptical'd (yes I know it's not a word) away in utter jealousy. And that is coming from someone who hates treadmills. Who knew I'd be craving to run on one.

Just shy of 5 weeks post injury I was given the approval to begin running again. My hamstring was easily able to handle strength/physio exercises on it so the green light was given to start with 15-20 minutes. I had done a short 5 minute jog just prior to receiving approval (cause I am that stubborn) and it actually had me leery as to whether I was ready or not. My first "official" run back I did 20 minutes and I had mixed feelings regarding the run. I still worried whether it was too soon. The last thing I wanted to do was to go backwards in my rehab. I did NOT want to start over.

The next day I trialed 30 minutes and that run was WAY better than the day before so I finally had hope. Then again, I knew it had only been 2 runs so I wasn't ready to say I was on the official "comeback" trail as of yet. Not to mention my body absolutely hated me during those initial days. The injury itself was fine, but absolutely everything else lower body was sore as can be. The shock of impact again threw my calves, quads and the rest of my hamstrings into utter soreness.

Since the initial run on July 1st, I have slowly been building back up. I am up to 60 minutes easy and have done that multiple times. I am currently holding at 60 minutes for a short period. My fitness is decent I would say. It's not horrible but it's obviously not where it was 6+ weeks ago. I have to keep reminding myself that I am only 10 days back into this routine. My body is no longer sore and I know fitness will continue to build. I will be ready for this Fall and I will smash my goals set. 

Thank you to all those who stood by me for support during these last 6+ weeks, whether professionals for treatments (Abe and Brandon from Island Optimal) or friends, I know I can be a handful when I am broken. This injury came at a stressful point in my life when I needed running the most so thanks to those who I leaned on for support (K, R, T, T). Sometimes I may not have wanted to hear your words of advice, but nevertheless, I appreciate you all. 

To those I might have pushed away (both friends and family) during this time, I apologize but I did what I felt I needed to at this time. I was overwhelmed with life but deep down I still value your reaching out. 

To the new friends who came into my life during this time, you met me at a low so thanks for accepting me as I was! In the end life goes on and all will be okay. Fall 2016 you and me have a date!

 Back to my happy place


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It Was Bound To Happen

The dreaded DNF. 

I had been so proud to have never DNF'd before; however, that "streak" has now been broken. A few weeks back I tweaked my hamstring. I had been dealing with some slight behind the knee issues coming back from the marathon but it would only appear at the beginning of some runs and go away within a few minutes. I never thought much about it. Provided I kept my hamstring happy, it seemed to be okay. That was until I attempted a "speed" workout one day. I put quotation marks around "speed" because these marathon legs definitely weren't that speedy. Nevertheless, that annoyed my lower hamstring a tad. A few days later during a tempo workout, I turned a corner to the left and I felt my hamstring tweak. It was minor and I was able to finish the workout; however, the next day my hamstring was sore during my entire run so I pulled the plug on running for a bit. 

I had planned to race the Calgary Half Marathon coming up in just over a week and a half so I did everything possible to try and rehab. I cross trained, I saw Abe Avender at Island Optimal and had laser treatment on it as well. Each run attempt leading up to the race wasn't ideal, so I'd go back to cross training. I decided to head to Calgary to see what happened. I wasn't sure I would start but since it was the Canadian Champs, I was determined to race if my hamstring would cooperate. 

Hello Calgary

I flew into Calgary on Friday afternoon and met Sami Jabril in the airport before heading to meet our lovely ride Peter. The skies opened up as we arrived and we had a nice rain storm with some lightning for the drive. I checked in and then met Krista DuChene in Starbucks for a catch up, then went to dinner with Krista and Emily Setlack. 

The next day I opted to try a short run. While it wasn't great, it also wasn't horrible. I decided to wait until race day to see whether I would run or not. I was still hoping the next day would be much better. After the run and shower, I met up with the rest of the hotel crew, which other than Krista and Emily included Calum Neff, Thomas Toth and Anna as we headed to the Tech meeting. There I finally met Josh Bolton and Tanis Smith in person. 

It was a quick meeting before a few of us headed over to the race expo. I wanted to go check out the Team Mito 24 hour treadmill event and say hi to a few people I knew taking part. It was quite the sight and not long after getting there, Tristan roped me into an interview. Normally I am awkward as can be when it comes to those things, but Tristan kept the conversation light and flowing as we told stories about how we met in Maui and how I wanted to push him off a cliff. The full story is here, but a cut and paste from that day is this....

On another trail run I had an easy 60 minutes to do and decided to join Jeremy, Tristan and Adam on a run at Polipoli which had just opened up after being closed for over a year due to tropical storm damage. Let's just say that this was not a 60 minute easy run. It turned into more than a 2 hour adventure, crazy climbs and descents all while at altitude of over 5000 feet. This sea level girl has run in Flagstaff many times, but climbing at altitude always kills me. I may or may not have threatened to push Tristan off a cliff at one point and I may or may not have told him multiple times that I hated him. ;) It did give some gorgeous views, but this road runner learned that she is still very well a road runner and is not made for technical trails. 

Anyway, the Team Mito 24 hour treadmill event was amazing and for a great cause which would be mitochondrial disease. During the 24 hours they  broke 7 Guinness World Records, which you can read about here. I was there to witness the men and women break the Team 24 hour Treadmill records. I was also there to witness Dave Proctor in some dark times during his 24 hour solo mission. Yes, I said it, 24 HOURS SOLO on a treadmill. Insane! In the end he ran 260.4km. I dislike even 30 minutes on a treadmill let alone 24 straight hours. Check out www.mitocanada.org for more info. 

Adam Campbell cruising in for the men's 24 hour Team Record with hours to spare
 

 Men celebrating

 Dave in the background no longer appearing to have fun


Later that evening I joined the rest of the hotel crew plus race crew Gavin and Craig (I think) for dinner at the Keg. That was an adventure for me. Needless to say my meal was forgotten and it took 85 minutes for me to eventually get my chicken. My bad for not speaking up earlier I suppose but anyways, it turned into a rather funny adventure. 

Race night I slept like usual (crappy). I fell asleep rather early and then woke up and was up for a few hours. I received some unfortunate news that had me worried for a bit, but thankfully all would be okay. I eventually fell back asleep around 1am and then was up by 4:30. Who needs sleep right? I woke up and ate my Stoked Oats and hoped for the best!

We headed off to the race and I did a warm up with Krista and Emily and my hamstring/back of knee felt the best it had felt in ages. I was running on some anti-inflammatories though. Things were looking good and I was hopeful. I did a few strides and they felt good too, but then I did 1 stride too many and I began to worry. I decided to start the race and see what happened. 

Ultimately I got only 2km into the race and I felt a pop (like a tendon popping over another) at the back of my knee. It caused me to jump in my step and I knew I was done. I carried on for a few more minutes to see what would happen. When I saw bike medics on the side of the road I pulled off. I apologize to the medics as they heard me swear. A LOT. They asked me if I wanted to stretch it out and jump back in and I said no, I was done. My first *@%#%*%%% DNF. I asked the quickest way back and they said the way I came and asked if I could walk. I told them I preferred not to, so a van was called. 

The medics at the event were great. I was dropped off at the med tent (first time ever there) and put in the hands of Jeff Nessler, a physio from the Downtown Sports Clinic in Calgary. Bless his heart he worked on me for a good 45 minutes, even doing some IMS which isn't normally done in med tents. I suppose the good part about dropping out early is that I had the med tent to myself the entire time. Jeff did his best but there was only so much to do before I was strapped with an ice pack and taken back to the elite area to have a nice cry. 

It was a rough experience and I probably shouldn't have started, but since it was the Canadian Championships I wanted to at least try. I rehabbed and did what I could to get to the start line and had hoped I would cross the finish line but alas, it was not meant to be. I will be back though, to get that damn finish line. 

I will cross you

Post race I hung out with some good friends both new and old, had some beer at the Team Mito Wrap Up party and that helped. I spent the next week in Calgary visiting with friends and was able to take a side trip to Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise area in which I had never been to. Topped it off with a fun Saturday night before coming home and back to work on Monday. That week was exactly what I needed to escape a few life stresses at least temporarily. 

While I am disappointed to experience my first DNF, feeling like I let the organizers down, I had to be smart and think of the fall. While I probably shouldn't have started, it was hard to know what was going to happen. This was one race, my goals remain and I will achieve them. 

 Sights of Alberta