Tuesday, May 22, 2018

I believed that I could so I did

Race map
Flat Colleen
 Saturday I picked my friend up at the airport and we drove together to Red Deer. I forget exactly how many half marathons I have run on this course but I think this was going to be about my 10th. I went into this race training for the sub-2 result, something that I have only achieved once and never on this course. We went to get our race packages and I was getting nervous. We met up with a third friend for lunch and then went back to the hotel. I was feeling distracted and tired and starting to get worried about what I was eating and was it enough. It was to the point that I was starting to feel like throwing up. I took some deep breaths and tried to calm myself down. I have been like tht before, any time that I have trained hard for a race and worked hard: both Ironman races and the last half marathon that I ran in less than 2 hours. There is a lot to be said about running races for fun as I never feel that nervous about them.

Pre-race, pre-freakout
I actually had an amazing sleep. Even though I was up a lot during the night, when my alarm went at 5:30, I actually felt well rested. I had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast but skipped the banana as I wasn't hungry for it, and of course I had my usual coffee.

My friends were both running the "10". Quotes are with sarcasm as this race measures long, and I should know as I ran it last year. We wished each other well and I burst into tears. The emotion of the day ahead of my was showing and I was so nervous about it. But I knew that I was ready. I trained hard for it and I was already at peace with whatever the result would be and that I would be happy that my body allowed me to race this distance again.

I got my nerves under control and went in to the starting corral with all the other runners and waited for the countdown. I opted to run this race without music as I didn't want the distraction. There were a few times where I would have liked it, but I did fine without music.

The race started off easily enough, I settled into a good rhythm off the start. I could feel the tightness in my right glute, which wasn't that surprising and it reminded me that I forgot to do my release exericses. Whoops. I knew it was something I could ignore. A friend found me during the first km and we chatted for a bit but I ended up getting ahead of her.

One thing I have to say about the Red Deer course is that it is beautiful. It runs on mostly paved trails along or close to the river. There are a lot of ups and downs and 2 significant climbs, one in the 9th km and one in the 20th km, both about 9%.

I felt great for the first 5km. My glute was bugging me a bit but it was manageable. I had relaxed and controlled breathing and I was keeping my strides fast. I was having fun! The first 7km felt like a breeze. I was sticking to my gel schedule, drinking water at the stations and having a salt tablet because I knew I needed it. the first climb was approaching and my stragegy was to maintain the short quick strides. It's not that long, the steepest is about a 15% grade but it continues at a false flat for another km or so. At then end of the steepest parts my legs felt like they were done. I will admit that I didn't do any hill training, and relied on my cycle classes and some strength to help me, but I was shocked at the feeling in my legs. They were starting to cramp. So I drank from the little bottle I had wih me and had half a gel to see if they could use some energy and that seemed to help in the short term. I was pretending in my head that I was walking and stretching and they were starting to feel better. Mind over matter.

By my watch I was at the halfway point at about 58:30 so I had a bit of a cushion. The next section was a nice downhill and I used it to the best that I could to lengthen my stride and use gravity, but it seemed that as soon as the path flattened a bit I hit a wall. No worries...short strides. All good.

The 13-14th km lose the paved trail to gravel and it circles an island that is in the river. It really is pretty and most other days I would be happy to run it. I didn't enjoy how the gravel seemed to be sucking my energy, and I just focussed on keeping the same distance ahead of the people behind me, and not letting the person ahead of me get too far ahead. Internally I was just waiting for it to be done.

I was relieved to be off the gravel, but this is where I started to mentally struggle. The next 4.5 km are full of those short steep up and downs, woth some false flat sections in between. The cramping in my legs wasn't getting better, even after taking 2 more salt tablets and electrolyte drink at every water station. It was a struggle to keep going. At 16km we run past the Bower Ponds, which are lovely, and it was at this point I considered texting my friends that I wasn't doing well and I didn't know if I would make my time goal. I did a quick 10s calf stretch and kept going, silently moaning in my head. I was at 1:29 and that meant that I needed 31 minutes to run the final 5.1km. I felt lke I could do that. If I kept all my splits under a 6/km then I would do it. I knuckled under.

That was the longest 5km of my life. I kept saying "fight for it" over and over OUT LOUD! DIG DEEP! YOU WANT TO GET TO BOSTON? Stuff like that over and over. With about 3km to go another woman caught up to me and she said that she never had run under 2 hours. I told her to get after it.

At 19km my legs are screaming at me. All I am thinking about now is that I want to be done. 1.5km to go and the path splits, us lucky half marathoners get to go right to the finish, marathoners have to go right. The path is flat and I can hear the finish line. I pass 20km and I have 7 minutes to make my goal. One giant hill, one downhill and a sprint to the finish. I ignore the pain in my legs and I run (ok shuffle) up that hill, and them embrace the downhill. I round the corner and I can hear the crowd  cheering. I see 1:59 on the clock. I do my best sprint impression and I cross the line at 2:00:01.

Chip time is 1:59:48 I have finally broken 2 hours on that course. I stop my Garmin with the 1:59 visible and take about 100 pictures of it. I practically collapse on the grass. I had absolutely nothing left to give that course and I am pretty sure I left pieces of me out there.

I trained so hard for this race. I listened to my body and respected it when it told me that 6 runs a week was too much. This achievement is more than the time on the clock. It is mt showing RA that I control me, that I choose my capabilities, that I am a fighter and that I will go down swinging, cramped legs and all until I am pulled off the playing field.

I am so proud of myself. I believed that I could break 2 hours in Red Deer, and I did.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The hay is in the barn (and all that)

Thumbs up for a great training cycle. Only ran twice this week and both times my legs felt rested and fresh.

I had a massage on Tuesday and my MT found tightness at the attachment at the hips that I didn't know I had. Long story short is that she worked hard and I felt really stiff and achy the next day but with movement it wore off.

Looking forward to what this body can do tomorrow. less than 24h to race start and hopefully less than 26h to race finish. No matter what happens I am grateful that I was able to survive training.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

One week to go

Happy girl after 20km in Vancouver.
 Again I am absolutely terrible at updating this blog. But important highlights are the following items.

I completed my last long run for the race May 4 in beautiful Vancouver, BC. I ran from my friends house to the seawall at the science center and then the seawall cutting through Stanley Park to Canada Place to total 20km. I have done 4 2h runs so aerobically I am ready for this race.
Finished the 8km in Vancouver

I registered at the beginning of the year for the BMO 8km in Vancouver wil full intention to incorporate it into my training. At the time I didn't know how I would approach it but I ended up racing my ass off and finishing 5/173 in my age group, 49/1691 in my gender and 200/2648 overall. This is the best result I have ever had. I also had a distance PB by over a minute, and this includes my pre RA diagnosis times. I was absolutely floored when I saw the 5th place finish. There have been times that I struggle with the race pace runs and I think "how am I ever going to do this on race day". The short answer is that I just will, because I just do. I held on when it hurt and I was crazy happy with the result.

Thumbs up for solid training

One week to go so I m relaxing post run
It took most of the week for my legs not to feel like lead weights but today's run was glorious. I happy 6km in the river valley, running the same spots where I did all those long runs.

The hay is in the barn. I just have to trust my training and not think that I have to do it all. I have a massage booked this week and the runs planned are all short. I am hopeful that my body (and the weather) are on my side in a week and I will have a great race and meet my time goals.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Week 15 summary

I realize that it has been a while since I last updated on a week by week basis. Last week's training is as follows:

pre injection            post injection
12 hours later           24 hours later
Monday - nothing as I got a cortisone injection in my left foot as the neuroma was causing pain. Now that it has been almost a week I think that it has taken effect although it is still bruised. It is nice to be able to walk barefoot without pain!

Tuesday - intevals 4 x 400m w/ 1:30rec, 4 x 800m w/ 3:00 rec,  4 x 400 w/1:30 rec.

Wednesday - easy 7km plus yoga, spin classes and strength class.

Thursday - easy 10km
Post race pace run

Friday - cut back long run. 15.3km

Post "long" run
Saturday - day off

                 Sunday - 10.7km with 9 km race pace. When this run was done I felt light headed and i could feel myself listing to the side. I don't know what the issue was. Maybe I was dehydrated or under fueled? I was putting off this run because the weather was cool and windy. However I ended up running a 2km loop in my neighbourhood,

I get to celebrate that another semester of my schooling is done. Only 3 more classes to go and I will have achieved my PFT diploma. In these classes I got As so I still maintain my 4.0 GPA which I am very proud of.

I am also deciding to drop the Arava. A while ago I ran out and took about a week because I didn't make the time to go pick up my prescription. During this time I was having great runs without the need to pit stop. I started taking it again and was having changes, and back to the pit stops! So I didn't take one yesterday or today and I didn't have to stop on my run.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Another week done

I had another good training week last week. I ran 58km last week in a combination of 6 x 800m intervals, 9km at race pace and a long run of 20km. My easy pace is faster outside than on the treadmill for the same perceived effort.

I have been dealing with 2 issues. The first in the patellofemoral syndrome in my left leg. I know it isn't anything more than that because it does go away about 20 minutes into my run. The second is that the balls of my feet get sore and my toes feel like they are being jabbed with a pin. I had a cortisone injection in my left foot today (6 hours later and my foot is still frozen) and I have one booked for my right foot on May 10. I am hoping that this will take care of that problem.

Other than that I am feeling really good about my running and I am getting more confident that I will have a successful half marathon as long as my body cooperates.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mini update

I will come back with more detail to how things are going but the brief summary is this: I am feeling tired and have made the decision to drop a run to decrease the weekly mileage and I am also modifying the Tuesday strength workouts into shorter ones. I do think the program overall is good but it is a bit much for my needs. At the same time, I don't think that much thought was put into it as it is an abridged version of the full marathon training program.

I am noticing my body is a bit unbalanced so I need to increase the strength and core work.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Don't ask?

This picture came up on my Facebook feed today via one of my friends. They also suffer from chronic illness, and have been for a very long time. For a long time I didn't know she was suffering. I figured that she just withdrew from me and didn't want to be my friend anymore. However, I still kept the communication doors open, and she opened up to me. I remember telling her that I missed talking to her and her friendship and that's what started the conversations again. I am very glad I did. Even though we share some similar diagnosis, we are still friends beyond that and have other things that are in common.

This picture describes me perfectly. I do guard my privacy but I am always willing to open up and answer questions. It is very rare that I will talk about my RA with someone who doesn't already know about it. Even with those who do, I won't necessarily bring it up off the start unless I am really struggling that day. I have some great friends that check up on me and ask how I am doing. I also have others that ignore me when I talk about it. I talk to the former group more and have learned to not bring it up with the latter. The thing about that is that it never actually gets brought up so I generally leave these conversations feeling ignored, and then just don't bother to reach out anymore. I am not looking to be noticed, or desperate for attention, I just want the reciprocity. 

One thing that conversations like that remind me of is the notion that people will not do what you think they should do, even if it is (what you think is) the right thing. Just because you ask someone how they are and listen with an attentive ear doesn't mean that you will get the same thing in return. And just because you may mention something about yourself doesn't mean you will get to talk about it. And this may continue to happen no matter how many times you may mention that it bothers you that they don't ask. While I have been told that they want to respect my privacy, I have said in return that I am not bothered that they ask. That being said I am not going to chase someone down for the attention, or force myself in conversations to see if this is the time that is different. 

So why am I bothering to write this? Because it is something that bothers me, even though I wish it wouldn't. I am not looking for an influx of messages asking about me, although feel free. Also, it is good practice for me to talk about myself.