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