Sunday, June 21, 2015

Vancouver Sun Run 2015

Almost 2 months ago I took part in the 2015 Vancouver Sun Run finishing 19th female in a time of 36:39. A pretty decent placing and time I suppose; however, it was my worst 10km time in 3 years since I ran the 2012 Vancouver Sun Run in 36:47 and it certainly not what I was capable of running. So what happened you ask? The short answer is simply, I should not have started the race. Let's back up a bit.

A few weeks prior to the Sun Run I went on a lovely family holiday to Maui. I had a blast, enjoyed the warmer weather and did some trail running with some newly formed running buddies from Calgary who happened to be there at the same time. I certainly did not expect to be up at 6am while on holidays to run, but that was definitely the most comfortable time of day to do so. It was before the sun was fully up and the temperatures were still cooler. 

Ready to leave Vancouver bright and early! They had no idea what they were in for
Ashlyn and I were excited!
Rocking Asics Capri's and CEP Compression. So stylish!
Hello Maui!
Home for the 2 weeks

Easy runs were good, workouts were tougher because of the weather and I did some trail running that nearly killed me. For example, one day I joined Jeremy, Tristan and Ed in a trail run in the Makawao Forest. We left early and when we got there at approx 6:20am we found that the gates didn't open until 7am. Why not run in they decided? Tristan was sure the trail head wasn't that far away so off we went on a rather steep downhill for a few minutes. What goes down must come up right? We hit the bottom and started climbing and rather steep hill. We turned a corner and kept climbing. Oh the end must be around the next corner right? We turned that corner and kept climbing. I swear it was over 5 minutes straight of a fairly steep hill.  Once we did reach the trail it was rather nice and not too hilly, but I was feeling my hip flexors a bit the next day. 

Ian, Jeremy, Tristan and me post Makawao

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. 

Typical, which way do we go? Tip: Don't let Tristan lead ;)
 Typical view for me on this run
Not a trail runner!
 The point where I dropped and temporarily broke my camera
(me, Jeremy and Adam)
At the top

Going back down
Throughout the 2 weeks in Maui, my hip flexors acted up here and there. They would be super stiff at the start of runs but then warm up. During my best workout there, after 8 of 10 reps I stopped for some water and noticed that my right lower back was super tight, so I stretched a bit and finished the final 2 reps without difficulty. Later that day I headed to the gym and noticed that my body was not happy with me as I attempted the 5 minute jog to get there. The gym workout was okay though and so was the jog home. 

The next day, I felt pains in my SI that caused me to stop a few times but that was okay as I was stopping to take photos since we were nearing the end of the trip. The second run that day was the same and seemed to be getting worse. My right hip and SI was not happy. It was decided to take the next few days completely off. I looked into seeing a chiro there, but was a bit leery as I didn't know much about him and his office wasn't exactly easily reachable by foot. I still felt like my SI was not moving very well.

After 2 days off, I did 2 easy runs that were slightly better, but I still had to stop here and there and stretch by back and hip flexors. The second of those runs was on the last morning before leaving and it was actually the better of the 2. We packed up and headed out and on the flight home my sinuses started to bother me. As the flight progressed they got worse. They got so bad that I couldn't even pop my ears properly. I was getting sick. My two adorable nieces had gotten sick approximately a week before that and it appeared they passed it on. Lesson learned, don't let kids feed you things especially a week before a race!

I was back in Vancover late Sunday night and had difficulty getting to sleep because of the sinus pressure. When I woke up Monday morning to catch the 10:30 ferry home I was hating life. My whole head hurt. I was supposed to work that day, but there was no way that was going to happen so my first day back to work after 2 weeks holiday, I called in sick. Apparently people do actually get sick after holidays. I did not run that day, nor did I run (or work) Tuesday. On Wednesday I still had sinus issues but felt a bit better so I attempted a run. I got through 30 minutes just barely. In fact, I had to stop multiple times. I nearly passed out. Not from pain but from the virus. My SI was also still acting up. 

While in Maui I had contacted Abe at Island Optimal (Thanks Lisa) and was hooked up with an appointment on Wednesday. I also had a doctors appointment already booked that day for a follow up on my iron tests before Maui, but that turned into me questioning this injury. I wavered over the last week. Is it just my SI? Is it muscular? Or worse, is it another stress fracture? No one seemed to think it was anything too serious. It was simply my pelvis wasn't functioning properly. 

Throughout the week between Hawaii and the Sun Run, I had treatment and had both good runs and not so good runs so I contacted race organizers and explained my situation. I asked whether they wanted me to still come over to the race even though I was unsure whether I would make the start line and if I made the start line, I was unsure whether I would finish. I was told to still come over on the Friday and if I didn't end up racing I would be put to work assisting with the other elites. 

So after a less than ideal run and a last minute treatment, off I went to Vancouver via Harbour Air on Friday afternoon. I arrived at the hotel and had a lovely spacious room that I shared with Lindsay Carson. I arrived just in time to go to the VIP Reception where they announced the elite athletes. It was quite interesting to be called up when I still wasn't sure whether I was racing or not. 

The next day I lounged around and skipped my usual pre-race shake out run as per instructions from Abe. Instead I ventured to Whole Foods and picked up a few things like lunch and supper plus yogurt covered raisins (priority) as we don't have Whole Foods over on the island. I spent some time in the elite hospitality suite and simply hung out icing my lower back/SI on and off. 

The next morning came and I still had no idea what to do, but I stuck to the plan and took an Aleve (yeah yeah I know, but it had been discussed at great lengths) and then headed down to warm up. Bombarded with questions as to whether I will race or not, I headed off on warm up with the girls. The body felt a bit weird from lack of running but there was no real pains. Near the end of the warm up I was certain I was going to try and race. I did a few strides and while the first one felt rough, they improved with each one. Okay I was set, I was going to race. 

On the start line it was weird. Here we were at the Vancouver Sun Run and us girls were actually ON the start line! And when we set off, there was ZERO pushing and shoving and ZERO people cutting me off. NO stumbling and trying to find a clear path to run. Can you tell that I was very thankful for the new 10 minute head start this year?

Off we went down West Georgia and right away the front pack created a gap. My legs just wouldn't turn over. I didn't worry too much though as I hadn't been running much lately and thought that maybe my legs would wake up shortly. When I saw the split after 1km I thought "oh crap, is that all? And that was downhill too?" Everything felt harder than it should have. I tried to push through the next few km as people passed me and then it became a mental battle. 

First km

It only took until maybe 4km for me to realize I should not have started the race. The mental battle began as to whether to continue or to drop out. Now you read this thinking that the smart thing to do would have been to drop out; however, to be honest I have never DNF'd a race. NEVER. Did I want to start now? From what I had heard as soon as you DNF one race you start to think it's okay to do it again. 

Slowly people began passing me. People who hadn't passed me in any race lately. I hadn't looked at a split since the first km but I could feel I was slowing. I was nearing Burrard Bridge and I knew that if I was going to DNF this was my last opportunity if I wanted a "shortcut" to the finish. But instead of dropping I was stubborn and probably somewhat delusional in the fact that I thought that maybe, just maybe if I go over the half way mark my body would begin to work properly. So up and over the bridge I went. This was where I began to feel my lower back and SI begin to act up. 

I think it was around 6km that Lucy Smith came up beside me and apparently right away she knew something was wrong as she took a moment to ask "Are you okay?" I think I replied with something like "No, I shouldn't have started." She then asked what was wrong and if I was injured (or something along those lines) and I stated that yes I was semi injured. She told me that one race wasn't worth making it worse and then went on her way. People continued to pass me having excellent races as I plodded along hoping that my stupid legs would find some power. 

Finishing up
Alas my legs did not find their power. I came over Cambie Bridge and tried to find my usual finish sprint but it wasn't there. I think I was mentally done by that point. I saw the clock and knowing me probably swore under my breath and crossed the finish line. I stood across the line and watched as my competitors celebrated their success and totally awesome races. I watched as the lead men came a few minutes after I did. I found the van with our warm ups and sat down. 

As I sat there taking in the atmosphere, I initially joked around how the race was a personal disaster (worst 10km in 3 years) and I should not have started. The joking turned into tears. I was so fit only 2 weeks before this race, where did this injury come from and why? What is the injury exactly? And why me? I believe that day I quit running and Kelly Wiebe retired (of course both were temporary and said in frustration of our races). If only there were banana's around and not all shoved in a backpack eh Josh? Yes sorry, private joke on a blog. I know, not cool ;) If you really need to know, ask me sometime!

This was the first race I have never done a cool down after. I was literally done, mentally and physically. I did stick around for the awards and then the always yummy brunch though. Then flew home later that afternoon and by the time I got home the Aleve had worn off and my body began to hate me! 

So why did I run? The Sun Run this year was important to me. I had to skip it last year as I was in Montreal for the Cdn Half Marathon Champs and the only 10k's I did last year were Yonge St (downhill) and Ottawa (left with a stress fracture). I REALLY wanted a good 10k and I knew I was going to go sub 34. Instead I went 36:39. I admit I shouldn't have raced, but the desire to race won instead. 

Next up I will talk more about what exactly went on post Sun Run. This post has already gotten too long, sorry. In the meantime, here are some more photos from Maui!

 Sunsets and palm trees!
 Sunset Running
 Shoes on the beach
 Beach Running
 Someone found my Powergels!
 12 months old. Time to learn selfies!
 Not a fan of the waves!
 Pool side

 Shave Ice!
 Pro photo shoot time
 Thanks to my family for such a great trip!