Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ode to Being First Loser ;)

Well, I have apparently neglected this blog for a bit and generally when a runner goes silent it means they are injured. I assure you though, that isn't the case. I did not have a physical injury but I suppose one could argue that I had a mental injury. I will go into more detail about that shortly, but first I want to address the recent World Marathon selection seen as how Worlds is coming up in a few short weeks.  

For most of the qualification period, I remained in 5th spot with my 2016 Rotterdam performance of 2:37:48 (or 2:37:50 technically by gun). Ahead of me were Lanni, Krista, Rachel and Tarah, all super solid marathon runners. Rumour had it though, that Lanni and Krista would be turning down their worlds slow, leaving the 3 available slots open. I sat in that final 3rd spot all the way up until the final weekend when Dayna ran the Ottawa Marathon. At that point, she finished in 2:36:xx and bumped me back to 6th place. As predicted, Lanni and Krista turned down their slots, selection went to Rachel, Tarah and Dayna and I became the first loser on the outside.

Was there disappointment? Of course there was some. As runners we strive to make National teams so I would have jumped on the chance to head to London this summer but it was not to be. We could play the game of "what if's" meaning "what if I was able to run Rotterdam, what would have happened" but honestly what is the point. "What if's" won't get me on the team. I knew when I pulled out of Rotterdam that I was likely kissing my spot on the team goodbye but pulling out of Rotterdam was the best choice for me at the time. Canada is sending a very solid marathon team to London and I couldn't be happier for Rachel, Tarah and Dayna. They earned their spots fair and share, my time will just simply have to wait. There will be other teams. My dream is just delayed temporarily so stay tuned on that aspect.

Alright, back to the nitty gritty. My last blog stated I was having some health issues that prevented me from training properly. Doctors couldn't find anything wrong. They sent in a scope request for me, to which is booked for March 28th, 2018..... thanks BC Medical but I hope I won't need it by then. Eventually the doctors concluded that I was likely sick from stress. It was my body's reaction to all the stress I was dealing with and producing reflux like symptoms at night.

It all made sense. I had (and still have) some significant stress going on. Financial stress, ex stress, life stress. It all boiled over and took over my health. It's amazing how stress can affect the body. A lot has happened in my life this past year. The ending of my long term relationship, the crazy drama that went along with it (not appropriate for internet discussion), losing my job, losing my shoe/clothing sponsorship (PS shoes are expensive, I am super grateful for being sponsored for so many years as I forgot how much those are), moving twice essentially, disappointing race results, training going downhill. Basically a lot. So much that I began to have signs of depression (though I think I suffered depression like symptoms for well before this). With the help of my doctors and some medication, I began to slowly pull myself out of it. While I still have stress, it's not quite to the same level as before. Months later I am still not fully clear of symptoms and haven't found any rhythm or rhyme as to why they pop up when they do.

Mental illness, like depression, isn't widely talked about. Even "elite" runners are affected. I know my friend and long time competitor Natasha Wodak recently spoke about her battles and I am grateful for the advice she gave me earlier in the year. I too, debated with the decision as to whether maybe I was done with this sport. I had no motivation to get out the door and run and that is not like me. I am normally someone who feels guilty not running, so for me not to care if I ran or not, that was pretty significant. That was the depression talking. I knew deep down that I loved this sport and that I still have goals, but the depression was taking over and causing me to get sick which in turn took a toll on my running. No one likes running when it feels like crap, so no wonder I lost my motivation. If anyone out there is suffering, please feel free to reach out. Reach out to your friends, loved ones, co-workers, doctor or heck, even reach out to me if you want. Don't suffer alone. I am thankful for the support of my family, friends and Warren for helping me through one of the hardest times of my life thus far.

So there you have it, I basically had a mental injury that affected my health and kept me from being the athlete I knew I was capable of this spring. Good thing a year has 4 seasons and 365 days. The first half of 2017 might have gone down the drain but that doesn't mean I can't kick butt in the second half right?

I WILL earn another Team Canada Singlet (as seen on my Canada Day run)

Thankful to this guy for all his support

Picked up a new sponsorship with Popeye's Supplements. 10% off if you give my name or use EBURRET10 online. 

Been working hard in the gym to build a better booty

PS. Also a huge shoutout to my sponsors who have stuck by my side during this less than ideal year so far. Stoked Oats, Island Optimal, Nuun Hydration, Knappett Industries and Solo Energy you guys are the best!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Moment Running Breaks Your Heart

2017 you suck ball so far.

It's April 4th, a day in which I should be on a plane heading to Rotterdam for my next marathon and attempt to qualify for the 2017 World Marathon Team, but instead I find myself at home writing this with a broken heart. Kara Goucher's post says it all. I couldn't agree more.

I suppose you are all wonder why I am not on my way to Rotterdam. Well to be honest, 2017 has been a struggle. I ran some of the best workouts of my life in January and February, only to be followed up with extremely disappointing race results. That was discouraging but it didn't break me. I knew I was fitter than those results.

Upon returning home from Mexico, things just got worse. A few days after getting home, I caught a head cold that left me with stuffy sinuses for 3 days and then moved into my chest. I took a few days off to avoid making it worse. When I felt better and started to run again I found myself extremely tired during my runs, especially on up hills. I figured it was just my iron so I had that tested and yes it was indeed much lower than normal so I received my usual treatment and had that fixed, only the running didn't improve. Hmm so now what? I then had my thyroid tested and that came back with questionable results but unfortunately my doctor was on vacation so I had to wait to see him regarding that.

In the meantime, I began to hate running. Yes I said it, I actually said it many times "I hate running." For anyone who knows me, would know that I rarely say that. That right there is a sign that something is wrong. My energy levels were horrible and while I wasn't injured, my body ached. Most people would jump to the conclusion of overtraining, but I will tell you that my mileage was actually much lower than normal at this point and had been since before Mexico.

After a few weeks of less than ideal running and sickness, I decided at 5 weeks out from the marathon that I had missed too much (vital) training in order to make a decent attempt in Rotterdam. I simply couldn't justify spending $1200+ on the flight, not to mention additional hotel not covered by the race. It was not an easy decision, but I officially sent off the e-mail to withdraw from the race and opted to end my season completely (aka take a week off).

This spring has been stressful, that included a move on March 15th and temporary accommodations in Youbou at Warren's uncles cabin until we were able to move into our new place in Nanoose Bay (slightly north of Nanaimo). Youbou was rustic. No internet, no cable, no cell service, only generator power and a landline. While there I caught yet another cold that went straight into my chest.

Along with all this, my health has also been doing weird things in which we (my doctors and I) are still trying to figure out. I will say that in the last week I have been in the ER twice, once for 5.5 hours and once for 2-3 hours. Those trips didn't result in any answers; however, my doctor is very thorough and has done quite a few tests, with more tests to come.

So the good news is that it wasn't an injury that took me out of Rotterdam, but the bad news is I have no idea why my health has failed me and what exactly is going on. 2 head colds and 2 chest colds in 4 weeks plus way too many episodes involving vomit than I have encountered in my entire whole life. And no people I am NOT pregnant (that question is getting extremely old).

What does all of this mean? I am not sure. I am going day by day right now and hopefully all will be sorted out shortly. I know that I am 100% not done with running. We may have temporarily broke up but my love and drive came back and I WILL be back out there kicking butt on the roads and striving for my goals.  Don't worry, I am NOWHERE done yet.

PS. Anyone have any shoe deals they could hook me up with? While I am grateful for the last 3 years of support, it appears as though I join the list of Asics athletes whose contract will not be renewed in 2017.

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?


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!