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.


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 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

Monday, May 30, 2016

Temporary Gig as a Race Day Groupie

As time passes in real time, it seems to go by so slowly, but when you look back it seems like time has just flown by. This seems to be the case with regards to the Rotterdam Marathon back on April 10th. Post race I began my down time (aka no running) and time seemed to drag by as it usually does when I am unable to run. My feet needed the rest to heal up the blisters and my body needed the rest from the intensity of marathon training. Thankfully I had plenty of activities to keep me busy to help that time go by even quicker. 

I returned home from Rotterdam on Wednesday April 13th and was home for 1.5 days before I began my 3 week stint as a race supporter. Friday the 15th I headed over to Vancouver for the Vancouver Sun Run. I had a few friends racing this event and while it was obvious I could not race this with it being only a week post marathon, I offered to help volunteer with the elites. That way not only could I hang out in Vancouver and support my friends, but I could also be a bit useful. First up though, I spent Friday at my sister's so I could visit my nieces who had recently turned 2 while I was in Arizona. 

Saturday I was put to work in the elite hospitality suite. I am pretty sure I spent half the afternoon eating the goodies they had in the room. Oh well I also did my official duties of handing out some race kits and answering any questions that other athletes had. Sunday morning was an early rise which had me thinking "why am I getting up so early when I am not racing?" It was neat to be at the start line watching my friends and competitors warm up. While I was envious of them racing, I was relieved to not have any of the pre-race nerves that go along with it. We saw the women's start, which was 10 minutes ahead of the men, and then headed off to the finish. 

It was an exciting race and I was stoked to see Canadian's take the overall win for both the men (Eric Gillis) and women (my Asics Teammate Lanni Marchant). I hung around in Vancouver that night for some extended visiting with my nieces/sister and brother in law before heading back home the next morning.  

That week I went back to work, after 7 glorious weeks off in which time my entire work was given pink slips (for the 2nd time in 2 years). Needless to say, my work place is a little toxic at this moment. Last time, my work essentially fired us and then rehired us for less money, less benefits, less everything. This time, my work is not only laying us off as of Sept 30, but they are selling the business in which our jobs will be contracted out. This is not a good thing and it is allowed by law. It means that if I want my job back, I will likely be taking a significant pay and benefit cut. I have been at this job since the facility opened back in summer 2008, so it's a hard pill to swallow and at the moment I do not know my future with regards to employment. 

After a rough week (non running related), the following weekend brought the TC 10k on Sunday April 24. My coach (Matt Clout) convinced me to come down to Victoria to cheer on new teammate Emily Setlack in the race. I got up early (6am) and drove down to Victoria. We checked out 2 spots on course and then headed to the finish to see Emily kick ass and finish a close 2nd place. We then joined her on her cool down before Matt and I continued on for the rest of our run (my officially return to regular training). I then spent the day with Matt and his soon to be wife Sarah before driving home later that night. 

I decided to keep the trend going, with the following weekend being the BMO Vancouver Marathon weekend. Again friends were going to be in Vancouver and I needed away from Nanaimo so I ended up over in Vancouver from Wednesday until Sunday. I ran the seawall daily and accompanied friends to the expo multiple times since I was nearby. I attended the kids run on the Saturday to show support and on Sunday, Lynn the elite coordinator had me as a guest speaker at the finish line of the half marathon along side Rob Watson. It was a neat experience and nice to officially meet Steve King. I don't think Rob or I will be hired to replace Steve any time though. ;) 

After BMO life went back to normal with work and training. Now here I am 6.5 weeks post marathon and things are returning to normal. Each week I am seeing my legs begin to turn over faster than the previous week. It's amazing how my easier runs feel so great but then once I try to run half marathon pace or faster, my legs protest and say no. Apparently according to my legs, I am a marathoner now but they'll soon have to have a wake up call. It's time to work some speed considering I have not raced a distance under half marathon since Summerfast last July when I was returning from injury. 

I would be lying if I said my return to running was all sunshine and rainbows. There have definitely been some thunderstorms in there but I know there's sunshine always on the other side. I would like to thank everyone for the great feedback regarding my blister situation from Rotterdam, whether via email, FB, or commenting on my blog. Some valid points were made and hopefully I can avoid a occurrence in the future. My fall marathon has been decided so stay tuned for that announcement. 

Photos from the last few weeks

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

We Remember a Legend

I originally had a different blog planned that include updates since my marathon but I have opted to postpone it for the time being. The last month has been pretty crazy with loss and I wanted to briefly touch on it. First off, on April 14th, one of my high school classmates Colin Laird suddenly passed away at age 34. He leaves behind not only his parents and siblings, but his fiance Kellie and their son Hunter. 

Now I cannot say that Colin and I were ever close. He came to my high school for Grade 11 and 12 as all Cedar students had to move to Barsby for their final years as Cedar was only a junior high at the time. We didn't hang out in the same crowds. I do however, run by Colin and Kellie's place almost daily over the last 5+ years. Other than the rare FB message, our only communication was if he was out in the yard or drove by me when I was running, we would always exchange waves and say hello. Nevertheless, it was shocking to hear of his passing. Rest in Peace Colin.

That brings us to yesterday, I was on my dinner break at work and scrolling through FB and I ran across news of the passing of Steve Smith. Many of you probably don't know who Steve is, I certainly didn't until I met him in February 2013. Steve also well known as Stevie "Chainsaw" Smith, is a local athlete out of Nanaimo who is huge in the downhill mountain biking world. He was essentially Canada's downhill legend and a World Cup Sensation. 

As I mentioned, I met Steve in 2013 when we both picked up Nanaimo's Individual Athlete of the Year awards for 2012. It turns out, I once worked with his Grandma and my mom and step dad are also friends with his Grandma and know his family. 

Steve and I after the awards in Feb 2013

After the awards I stayed in touch with Steve via FB and the odd Happy Birthday or congrats text. I most recently had a brief chat with him this past November to wish him happy birthday as he turned 26. Unfortunately this past weekend, Steve was out living life like he does when he suffered a serious brain injury in a motorbike accident. He was ultimately removed from life support and passed on.

The sports world has lost a great athlete. I am shocked and heart broken at the loss of this local athlete. Not only was Steve talented, but he was so down to earth even though he was quite famous in the sporting (mountain biking) world. I admired his love and respect for his hometown. He probably could have lived anywhere in the world, but he stayed true to Nanaimo and constantly talked about the beautiful trails and scenery around here. 

Again, I cannot say that Steve and I were close, but more like acquaintances who respected each others athletic talents. I urge you to watch the 3 videos below to get a glimpse into who Steve was. But first here is a quote from one of his teammates, 

"A driven athlete and fierce competitor, Smith was humble and grounded off the track. He was a notable influence on all young and aspiring Canadian gravity racers and others around the world. He was also a key mentor to friend and DGR teammate, Mark Wallace."

 Talking about how he just wants to ride bikes

His winning World Cup Run

Rest in Peace Steve
A Steve Smith Legacy Fund has been started to provide funding for up and coming athletes. Should you wish to donate, please visit

Saturday, April 23, 2016

No They Were Not New Shoes (aka Rotterdam Marathon)

I am currently on my Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver (or I was when I wrote this 1.5 weeks ago), somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Right about here, apparently. 

I figured it would be a good time to jot down my thoughts about the race as the 2 days post-race were spent venturing around Amsterdam with fellow Canadian Leslie Sexton.  

Race day, oh where to start. I last left off on Saturday evening, where Leslie and I pretty much laid around the hotel most of the day. The race organizers were nice enough to agree to put me into the hotel along with Leslie from Thursday until Sunday. Leslie (2:33) was fast enough to meet their criteria; however, my 2:39 was not. We had meals included which made things a little less stressful. Meals took place in the restaurant downstairs via buffet. Breakfast had tons of options. Oh man I would be in trouble if all that was offered to me daily. Croissants and chocolate filled croissants at that. Even Nutella muffins. 

Of course they had their usual eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles, toast, sausages, yogurt, oatmeal etc. Lunch and Supper were quite similar. Pasta plus chicken or fish. I ate WAY too much pasta by the time the race started, but that was the point right? Carb loading? Sometimes I think you can eat too many carbs. Sunday post-race I was simply hoping they would NOT serve pasta (oh but they did plus a few other options).  

We went to bed at around 10 (I think) the night before the race. I did my usual routine for pre-race, which meant lay awake for an hour and get up to the washroom 3 times in that hour. Then go to sleep for an hour, wake up and go to the bathroom. Sleep for maybe 90 minutes, bathroom, sleep, bathroom, sleep, wake up in sweat, bathroom, sleep. When Leslie’s alarm went off at 5:45am I did not want to actually get up.

Leslie went down to breakfast whereas I had brought my own Stoked Oats from home to eat. Race morning I was not going to play any games with other foods and was going to eat what I was used to. Plus it meant I got to hang around in bed. After eating and checking social media (so many updates while I am asleep and North America is awake) and then I started to feel tired. Uh oh. I still had time so I closed my eyes for a bit but I did not actually sleep.  

Closer to 8:30 I had a quick shower to wake me up and got ready for the race. At 9am, we headed to the elite room where everyone was supposed to gather before we headed down to the start. The room was packed with fast Kenyans and Ethiopians among other counties. Eventually around 9:20 we were taken down to the start in a big group. We were roped off on either side and everyone outside was pretty much staring at us.  

Once we arrived to the start we were given a 200m stretch at the start line to do our warm up. Back and forth around and around. Most people followed the circle of up the right side, down the left side, but we still had to dodge a few people. Next thing we knew our warm ups were off I took a deep breath and said “here goes nothing” and lined up on the start line.  

Now let me tell you, the start at Rotterdam was the WORST start I have experienced thus far. Houston was crowded to, but I have never been pushed and shoved so many times in a start and even before the gun went. I don’t know if anyone fell but it wouldn’t surprise me because it was a rough go. Thankfully both Leslie and I managed to stay on our feet. 
Clearly unimpressed with the start. This I call, my Running Bitch Face ;)
We both had different race plans. She was lucky enough to have the chance to join with the 2:31:50 pacer who was here to pace F7. The next pacer lined up was 2:39 and well, I have been there and done that. There were of course faster pacers, I think they had 2:22, 2:26 and 2:27 also setup but for obvious reasons, I didn’t go with those either.  

I went out and kept an eye on my watch, which is actually rare for me. Quite often I race and don’t look at my watch. In Victoria I only peered at it a few times but then again I did have my coach Matt Clout out on course. If only I had clued into the fact he was telling me my overall race pace and not just the pace at that exact moment.  

I guess now would be a good time to mention my goal since I am going to talk about overall pace anyways. I wanted to hold 3:40’s. All my training had been geared towards 3:40’s and everything indicated 3:40 was the way to go. A few of the first 5km were slightly fast, but nothing outrageous. A few 3:37-3:39’s. We were only 2km and had gone up and over the Erasumaus Bridge when I thought “wow I am already warm. This is going to be a warm day.” 

I was feeling strong through 5km which was slightly fast, but again, nothing outrageous. I decided to pull back slightly and go back to the 3:40’s to be safe. By 10km I had dudes drafting off me. Actually it probably started around 5km. There I was, a girl leading the group and dudes running RIGHT behind me. I’d venture to one side of the trail, dude would follow. Okay let’s test this, I decided, so I ventured to the other side, dude followed. Ugh. Annoying.  

Around 10km I remember thinking that my legs really weren’t feeling as great as I had hoped, but I told myself that at 11km in Victoria, I thought the same thing, so I kept trucking along. At 12km, I came upon Leslie bent over leaning against a rail on the side of the course. I told her to hang in there (or something along the lines) and kept going.  

15km……. oh 15km. This is where the fun starts. As everyone knows, a marathon is 42.2km or 26.2 miles for those Americans reading (sorry US friends, all km talk here today). Well by 15km I began to notice blisters forming on the balls of both of my feet. 15 whole km into the race and it all began to go downhill. What started as a slight annoyance ended up becoming a burning sensation with each and every step. That burning sensation turned into a tearing feeling each time I took even the slightest corner or had the slightest of uneven ground. Essentially, they were tons of fun. 

PC: John Janse
Around 18 or 19km I started to get annoyed with dude behind me. Still drafting. Honestly I don’t know if it was the same guy the entire time of if a new dude drafted, but I turned around slightly and said a few words which included “you could help” and “are you kidding me.” No response, no offer to help. Then again who knows if said dude could even speak English. I got angry eventually and didn’t act very Canadian like. That’s all I am going to say about that. At the half way marker it appears the guy stopped because all of a sudden I felt free.  

The second half of the race was a struggle. My feet hurt. Each km they began to hurt more. Not to mention time seem to be ticking by so slowly. At 17km I thought I was over 20, but apparently not. My feet hurt, a lot, but I told myself that I didn’t come all the way to Rotterdam to DNF and I was going to run until my feet no longer let me.

At 25k I came up to the elite tables to find my bottle already gone. Matt had already warned me of this, so I attempted to grab someone elses (sorry) and I actually dropped the bottle and heard it fall to the ground. No problem, I veered off to the left and grabbed a cup of water. I still had a gel in my hand from the 20km station so I wasn’t worried but a dude came running up from behind to hand me the bottle that I had dropped. I think it said “Pacer” on it so not big deal. Whatever was in it was manageable and I took a few sips before tossing it. 

Approx 26k
Up next the 30km aid station, I look ahead to the table… yep gone again. I think I may have sworn and said “wtf again?” and then grabbed someone’s little bottle. (Can I just interrupt and say that dude in front of me just put his seat back and now I am practically typing in my lap. This plane has decent room but once someone puts their seat back, it turns into zero room. My shoulders are hunched trying to type this. Thanks buddy). 

Side note: Crammed into my seat for this blog

Anyways, the bottle I grabbed at 30km, one sip and I uttered “yuck what the heck is this” and threw it on the ground. I then veered over and grabbed a regular water cup, which might I add was a pretty dramatic grab. The first cup I missed and dropped it (sorry volunteer). The second cup I grabbed but didn’t quite get a hold of it, so it bounced up in the air and I caught it on the 2nd go. By the sounds of it the volunteers were impressed by that recovery.  

After 25km each corner I turned, the pain was evident on my face as it crinkled up into an “omg this hurts” face. But I pushed through. Each km I told myself it was only so many more. Between 25 and 30km we go near the start/finish area, my feet were definitely telling me to stop. My mind was telling my feet to shut up and just deal with it.

My bottles were back at the 35km and 40km tables though I didn’t really want or need the 40km one. I did take it anyway though. I won’t lie, my pace slowed considerably in the last 10-15km. With each burning step, my strides were slowing down. I was curling my toes and altering my stride trying to take the pressure off the hot spots but nothing was working. It was frustrating to have my breathing completely fine and my legs feeling decent but not being able to pick up the pace. 

1k left
Finally at 41km I decided to do what I could. I picked up the pace as the clock had just clicked over 2:34. Even though my goal was not within reach, I could still PB. My feet were not going to stop me now. I tracked down a few guys who actually stopped to walk or stretch and cruised in finally back under my 3:40 pace for the last km to cross at 2:37:50 gun (2:37:48 chip). One of the elite crew met me at the finish and asked how I was. Pretty sure my first words were “I need to take my shoes off, I have major blisters” or something like that. She helped walk me to the elite tent as I walked on the heels and outer edges of my feet to take the pressure off.


At that point I didn’t know my place or really official time. I didn’t even spent much time at the finish. I simply sat for a bit, put my warm ups back on and then asked for an escort back to the hotel. Thankfully my legs were okay because they make you go down the stairs to the subway and then back up the other side.  

I got back to the room expecting Leslie to be there, but she was not yet (she came in shortly after). I then took off my shoes to examine the damage. The blisters were not full of fluid anymore. As I thought, the tearing on the corners probably popped them. I then hit social media where I found out my gun time via an e-mail from my mom plus a few others who had gotten up super early (or stayed up super late) to track me (Thanks Matt, #RyanSnaps, JLC, Kris and mom). A few e-mails exchanged with coach Matt and then I wrapped a towel around me and climbed into bed temporarily (don’t judge me, I was cold and didn’t want to get off the bed). 

 Post race
Eventually I showered and got some food, which included the candy I had bought pre-race. Leslie unfortunately didn’t have the legs and was unable to finish the race. While I have never DNF’d and cannot speak of the emotional roller coaster that goes along with it, I do know the disappointment of a failed race so I did my best to support her as needed with also trying to not to push her into talking about it.  

In bed without a shower

The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging around the hotel, social media, Netflix and the post-race supper where they offered pasta along with fries and fish plus a few other things. Apparently people were hungry because each time I went up to the buffet there wasn’t much left. Oh and one weird thing, the buffet in the restaurant had regular sized plates. The special dinner up in the banquet hall the night before the race and post-race had plates half the size. What was up with that? You had to go re-fill multiple times. 

Post Race Goodies

So my thoughts on the race. My body felt good. I felt healthier and fitter going into Rotterdam than I did into Victoria. I once again never got to experience the dreaded wall. I felt relaxed up until the end, other than the searing pain in my feet. I feel like sub 2:35 was there had I not had the foot issues. I had a first aid guy look at my feet after to ensure they wouldn’t get infected. He said “well there’s your 3 minutes right there, I can’t believe you ran 27km on these.” Yeah well me neither buddy. All I can say is I am super stubborn (shocker).  

I left Rotterdam unsatisfied. Yes I ran a PB of nearly 90 seconds, but it was less than what I was capable of. I am fitter than that. I am happy I still came away with a PB but it is not what I came to Rotterdam for. I am hungry. I want another crack at it. I want another marathon. Boy this whole marathon thing is addicting eh? I now have to decide when and where I will make my next attempt.  

As for the blisters, this is not the first time I have had this issue. No I was not wearing new shoes (you don't know how many times I have been asked this). In Victoria I ended up with one blister on the ball of my left foot. At the Houston Half I wore the same shoes and socks and had double blisters. At the Vancouver Half I wore the same socks but a newer model shoe (I think) and no blisters, but then again it was POURING with rain. And now Rotterdam, the biggest blister I have ever had on my right foot though this time I wore thinner compression socks. 

Whatever the cause, I need to figure out the issue before my next marathon as I NEVER want to run 27+km on feet like that again. If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to comment. I have been told swiftwick socks. I have been told trying tape, liquid spray on bandage or possibly baby powder. There is a solution out there for me, I just have to find it.  

In the meantime, my feet will heal as I think forward to the future and what it may hold for me. I will achieve my goals and no one and nothing will stop me. The future is mine. 

Ready to fly Home

PS. Thank you to everyone who helped me get to Rotterdam, including VIRA, Bastion Running Club and my to remain anonymous donor (we both know who you are). 

HUGE thanks to coach Matt and my partner at West Coast Endurance. We've been a team since late 2008 and I owe a lot to him! 

Also thanks to my friends and family for putting up with me during training and for your constant support. 

Thanks to Dr. Abe Avender at Island Optimal Health and Performance for his weekly treatments and keeping me on the road both mind and body. 

Thanks to my other sponsors aside from Island Optimal, including Asics Canada, Sundog Eyewear, Stoked Oats, Nuun Hydration and CEP Compression. Your continued support means a lot!

Thanks to my co-workers for covering my shits and Jason for looking after things back home. 

Myself with John Durkin from Bastion Running Club 
For those who really want to see my feet... scroll down. First some SnapChat photos cause they are always fun.

 Do you have SnapChat? Feel free to add me

 Now the feet down there

 Immediately post race