Monday, March 31, 2008

Urban adventure

A friend and I got to talking the other day and yet another crazy idea came into our heads. We've decided to participate in the Mitsubishi City Chase in Toronto on June 21st.

Experience Laughter, Adventure and Discovery!

The City Chase is a unique urban adventure that requires participants to exhibit teamwork, resourcefulness, determination and the ability to make decisions on the fly as they search for ChasePoints scattered in unknown locations throughout the city. ChasePoints are designed to test teams with a variety of physical, mental, and otherwise adventurous challenges.

To conquer this 4-6 hour urban event, 2-person teams will run, walk and use public transit to navigate their way throughout the city, while calling family and friends for help, accessing the Internet, and even employing assistance of total strangers. The first team to complete the required ChasePoints and cross the finish line WINS

It's the world's largest adventure series with races taking place all over the world from Vancouver to Hong Kong to Sydney.

I'm a huge fan of The Amazing Race reality series, so I figure this is about as close as I'm going to get. It should be fun! Our team name is Blister Sisters. :)

Thanks to Sarah who originally told me about this event.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The race that wasn't meant to be

Well, today is the day of the Around the Bay 30K Road Race in Hamilton. It's a bummer not to be running, but it's a pretty windy morning so maybe it's a blessing in disguise. ;) I've heard brutal tales of the windy course. I have a few friends running so I'm thinking of them and hoping they had a good race. They should (hopefully) be nearing the finish line at this point.

I'm heading out for another 5K today. If I still feel good, I'll increase to 6 this coming week. I still haven't decided if I'm going to drive out to a flatter neighbourhood. It's kind of nice to just walk out the front door and run...even if that means running through the Newmarket Alps. We'll see how I feel by the time I actually stretch & roll, get dressed and out the door.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

I'm going to see a special screening of this inspirational movie with one of my running buddies on April 9th. Just watching the trailer gives me goosebumps!

Four years in the making, Spirit of the Marathon is the collaborative effort of three-time Academy Award winner Mark Jonathan Harris, Telly Award winner and marathon runner Jon Dunham and producer/marathoner Gwendolen Twist. Spirit of the Marathon is the first ever non-fiction feature film to capture the drama and essence of the famed 26.2 mile running event. Filmed on four continents, the movie brings together a diverse cast of amateur athletes and marathon luminaries.

As six unique stories unfold, each runner prepares for and ultimately faces the challenge of the Chicago Marathon. More than a sports movie, Spirit of the Marathon is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph; a spectacle that will be embraced by runners and non-runners alike.

Spirit of the Marathon

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Looking ahead, but not too far

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day and I fully took advantage. I had planned to hit the gym for a run on the treadmill, but I couldn't resist such a mild (+5C - yes, that's mild!) and sunny evening. I went for another 5K (28:55) and felt good. It was a comfortable pace without too much effort (interestingly, it works out to almost exactly the same pace as my 2:01:00 half marathon), so I'm looking forward to improving my 5K time once I'm 100%. I'd like to see something closer to 25:00.

But I shouldn't be thinking about that just yet.

I recently moved to a new neighbourhood, which I love, but there is one slight problem: there are hills everywhere! And I don't mean minor inclines, but actual hills. No matter where I turn, I am facing a long, steady climb or a short & steep monster. I love a good hilly run now and then, but unfortunately hills are one of the IT band's worst enemies. For now, I just try to take it slow up the hills and usually only feel a tiny bit of discomfort, which fades as soon as I hit level ground. When I start increasing my distance, I will probably drive to flatter neighbourhoods, at least until I am out of the woods with this injury.

Speaking of distance, I was looking at my calendar and realized that the Sporting Life 10K is just over 5 weeks away. If I can add one KM to my runs each week, I should be ready just in time. Let's think positive here and assume I can keep my ITBS at bay.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Wikipedia: Namasté

I started Yoga for Runners last night. What a great experience. The instructor, Susan Delaney, was wonderful. It was a small group (of 8 or 9) and I was the only beginner, so she spent extra time with me on certain poses when needed. I have to admit that it was fairly challenging. I haven't practiced yoga for a couple years and wasn't feeling too limber, but it started feeling more natural toward the end of the 75 minute class.

I know this is going to be good for me, especially in making me a more well-rounded runner. Susan really emphasized the poses that help stretch and strengthen key muscles and joints that endure a lot of strain while running. I have heard and read over and over that having a strong and balanced core improves running mechanics dramatically, which is something else we will be concentrating on.

My newest mission (Susan's recommendation) is to stretch for 30 minutes after each and every run. So instead of plunking down on the couch when I get home, I'll head straight for the yoga mat.

Favourite pose for the week: Pigeon Pose, which felt great through the hips.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Good news! My PT noticed that all of my muscles were much looser today. Stretching like a maniac is paying off! As a result, my session this afternoon was not nearly as painful as last week's. Don't get me wrong - it hurt like a $&%^! Just not *quite* as much. :)

My homework is to continue stretching and rolling as often as possible, plus strengthening exercises. My yoga mat and all of my other "tools" are set up in front of the TV, so no excuses. The feedback that I got from my PT today has really encouraged me to keep it up. I will also be running 30 minutes/5K every second day. Providing it doesn't get worse, I can start increasing the time/distance next week. Awesome!

Speaking of my PT, Beth Wightman, she's representing Canada next weekend in the World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland. How cool is that?

We chatted a little more about future plans, and she is going to customize a program for me once I'm ready to train again. It will involve more weekly runs and more mileage than the Running Room programs, but with a very gradual increase to prevent injury. It will allow me to create a strong/solid base for a fast half marathon OR the full... depending on where the streets take me. I'm excited!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Two somewhat contradictory things have changed on the site this morning. 1) I changed the blog title to Mission to a Marathon, and 2) I removed my countdown to the Mississauga Marathon.

I finally allowed myself to officially bow out. I've known for a while that it was the best (and perhaps only) option at this point, but I didn't want to admit it. I really had my heart set on it. But the hard truth is, I am injured and only just starting to run again after three weeks off. The race is seven weeks away. It would be impossible for me to adequately train and I do not want to risk further injury. Plus, I want to be prepared for my first marathon; it's a big deal and not something to be taken lightly. My time will come.

There are several options later this year, but I want to play it by ear for now. Once I am fully recovered and training again, I'll weigh my options and make a decision. It's a big ol' bummer, but that's life. There will always be another race, but I've only got one body and I have to take care of it.

In the meantime, I picked up a copy of Hal Higdon's Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide...Advice, Plans, and Programs for Your 1st Marathon or 50th. Further to yesterday's post, I'm seeking another perspective. Hopefully it will help keep my head in the game.

That's better!

It's a beautiful Easter Sunday and I couldn't resist hitting the streets this morning. I was pleased to discover that I can still run 5K in less than 30 minutes with little difficulty. It felt great, actually. Admittedly, I ran through some discomfort, but very mild compared to how it felt a last week. Hard to believe it has already been three weeks since the Chilly Half.

I miss running so much. I think about it all the time. It's all I want to do! I am itching for the day that I can put all of this behind me and get back into training mode. I just want to RUN!

Back to physio tomorrow to see what she thinks. But right now, I should be stretching!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I have a confession to make

I have friends who run with the Running Room. I have friends who work at the Running Room. I LOVE the Running Room. But I do not believe in the Running Room's training philosophy of 10&1's. I gave it a fair shot. I even talked myself into believing it works. But for me, it just doesn't.

I had a good talk with one of my PT's about this last week. He considers 10"1's to be nothing more than fartlek training, or speed play. Speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down. I tend to agree.

(I know there is some merit to the whole 10&1 concept. I know it works for some many people.)

When I have a truly good run, it's one where I find myself in a comfortable rhythm. I get into a groove, so to speak, and nothing distracts me. Keeping a constant eye on the time is distracting. It's like running on the treadmill, staring at those red numbers on the display, having no choice but to focus on the time. How long has it been? How much longer?

And how many of those one minute walks are really just one minute?

Plus, I have a secret desire to run a fast half marathon... maybe 1:50? And I just don't think it's attainable with 10&1's. I don't even want to calculate how fast I would have to be running during the 10's to meet that goal.

Just had to get that off my chest. I need to start running again... I'm thinking way too much! :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Not-so-Good Friday

Last Good Friday I set out with my hubby to run a local trail. I did something funny to my knee that morning, which left me hobbling back to the car and resulted in issues that persist to this day. Thankfully, it does not cause any pain or discomfort, just a slightly annoying grind when I walk up the stairs. It's something I have been working on with my least until this IT crap started. Once that is resolved, we'll go back to work on the knee because although it may not be a problem right now, you never know when it could become one.

Staying off the trails this Good Friday...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good news?

Went to the gym today and walked about 40 minutes on the treadmill (thank goodness for magazines or I may have died of boredom) and decided to try a jog at the end. I was wearing yoga pants that are actually too big for me so I was constantly pulling them up, but the good news is: no pain! I don't want to get too excited yet because I only ran for about 7 minutes (the pants were driving me CRAZY!) but the last couple times I tried to run, I felt it after just a minute or two. So this is a good sign.

I went home, iced and stretched like a good girl, and I will try a short run tomorrow morning. Fingers, toes and all other appendages crossed please!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

There are no words... describe the pain that I experienced at physio last night. Except maybe


When I reported that I was still unable to run without pain, my PT was surprised and warned me that she would have to "dig deep this time." Did she ever! She worked my quads, the outside of my knee, my hamstrings, calves, hip and even my butt! She's a pretty small girl, but sure knows how to put some weight into her massage - at one point, one of the other PT's joked that she was leaving tread marks on the floor behind her! I left there black and blue, feeling like a tenderized piece of steak.

I have a lengthy and intense regimen of strengthening and stretching exercises to perform at home every day and will try running once more before my next appointment on Monday. We also went over some "rules" to prevent ITBS in the future. The most likely reason this happened is because I pushed myself much harder than I had trained for in the Chilly Half. If I want to run races fast, I need to maintain a solid base and I need to train fast. IT band issues can also occur as a result of poor alignment (already working on this with the new super-motion-control shoes) and weak quad and hip abductor muscles, so I will work on strengthening those.

During my torture treatment, I was able to have a good chat with two of the PT's, which made me feel a lot better about this whole situation. It's frustrating beyond words not to be able to run. It's become a lifestyle and I actually feel a huge void without it. They reminded me that I have years of running ahead of me, more races in my future than I can count. So what's a few weeks right now to nurse an injury and get my body healthy again? And of course, this won't be the last time. There are going to be bumps in the road, but the important thing is to take them in stride and learn from them, which will only make me a better runner in the long run. Run...hehe.

I left feeling confident, optimistic and enlightened.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A change of pace

Yesterday I played ball hockey! It was a casual pick-up game with a bunch of friends at a local school parking lot and it was so good for my soul! The fresh air and exercise were just what I needed. It was a crisp, sunny day and far too nice to be indoors.

My body was not so keen on the whole butt, back and shoulders are so sore today I can barely bend over. My hubby is suffering in exactly the same way, so at least I know it's not just me. ;)

Interestingly, the legs feel okay. :)

Back to physio tomorrow to see what she thinks of this damn IT band.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Slow and steady wins the race?

I don't have any pain or discomfort...until I start to run. After a few minutes, the tightness and pain on the outside of my left knee comes flooding back.

I'm stretching and rolling like crazy. I also read that icing the affected area often can help, so I am going to try that. Back to physio on Tuesday for massage and ART. It looks like I will just have to be patient and take this slow.

It's depressing because the weather is finally starting to improve and I want nothing more than to get out there and RUN! Plus, I feel so sluggish when I am not running. I'm just bummed right now.

I've officially decided not to run 30K Around the Bay on March 30th (selling bib number on RR Forum if anyone is interested...), but I'm really hoping that I will be good to go for Mississauga in May.


[/pity party]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Getting back at it

I had another very painful session with my physiotherapist yesterday, but there's good news! I have been given the OK to start running again. Things are feeling a lot better. I am so grateful to everyone who recommended Lifespring. It has been a completely different experience from previous PT's I have seen and the results are incredible. I think I'm going to make them some cupcakes....

I have to continue stretching daily at home, and she suggested that I pick up a foam roller, pictured below.

The idea of the roller is to "apply direct pressure to problem areas by rolling back and forth, emphasizing those tight painful spots. This will help release the tight tissue, and will decrease tension on the band." I tried it at physio and it hurts like &%$*, but as I have definitely learned, that just means it's working.

I found a great resource on-line for Iliotibial band syndrome: A RUNNER'S GUIDE TO ITBS. My PT is pretty sure this won't be a recurring or persistent issue for me, but at least I know what we're talking about.

In other news, the Mississauga Marathon is officially less than 2 months away. I am nervous, mainly because of this blip in my training. Hopefully I will be back on schedule in the coming weeks, but I'm going to take it slow and listen to my body. Tonight will be my first run since the race, so I'm going for an easy one on the treadmill. Let's hope my body is as ready as my mind is! I feel so sluggish and just blah after 9 days off.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I got new shoes!

My PT prescribed the Ariel by Brooks for motion control. This model is designed specifically for "excessive pronation" so hopefully they will help correct my mechanics and alignment issues.

Now, if only I could USE them!

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Here is my official race photo, taken as I crossed the finish line. I look exactly as exhausted and relieved as I felt.

Friday, March 07, 2008


I have heard countless testimonials of the benefits that yoga can yield for runners. I can admit that I am a slacker when it comes to stretching, even though I know how important it is, especially as a runner. And then I wonder why I sometimes feel so stiff...

I have decided to try this ten-week program starting March 25th.


A series of 75 minute classes where participants gain knowledge about functional anatomy as it relates to the impact of running. The foundations of yoga are used to bring awareness to the structural and muscular imbalances caused by repetitive strain on the specific muscles and joints used in running. Each week has a specific body emphasis and leads to the development of an individualized post-run routine.

Yoga For Runners

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Let me just say that it has been a rough few days since the Chilly Half. I have been experiencing some discomfort and tightness in and around my left knee, particularly going up and down stairs. It has definitely eased up since Sunday, but I was relieved to finally see my physiotherapist today.

It turns out that I have a lot of tightness in my IT band, a common ailment among runners. The good news is, it's (usually) quick and easy to treat. We started with heat treatment for 15 minutes, followed by an intense (AND PAINFUL) deep tissue massage that had me on the verge of tears. My PT is also an acupuncturist and suggested the treatment as she has seen excellent results with similar cases, so we gave it a shot. I've never had acupuncture before and expected it to hurt, so I was relieved when I barely felt a pinch and a tingling sensation.

I have a follow up appointment on Tuesday, but in the meantime my homework is:

1) not to run until I have zero discomfort on the stairs
2) various daily stretches for the quad and IT band
3) have Mark use a rolling pin to apply pressure along my outer quad and IT band, essentially rolling it from my hip to the knee

Hopefully we'll have this taken care of in to time, because I'm already itching to hit the streets!

ETA: A lot of people have been asking me, "Was it really worth it?!" The answer is YES!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Report: Chilly Half Marathon

Yesterday I participated in the 12th annual HSBC Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, ON. It was a much smaller event than my previous experience at the Scotiabank Toronto Water front Half Marathon in September (2000 runners compared to 10000+), which made for much more manageable crowds at the start and finish of the race. To demonstrate, it took me 3 minutes and 38 seconds to cross the official start line after the gun went off at the Scotiabank, and it only took 13 seconds at the Chilly.

The race was well-organized with an enjoyable route (flat!), excellent volunteers, plenty of food and water and a fun atmosphere, but definitely lacked some of the hype and mania that made Scotiabank so exciting. Although, my cheering section (namely my cousin Leanna) more than made up for it. :)

Leanna and her hubby live in Burlington and came down to see me off and it was great to see them before the race. Certainly helped calm the inevitable pre-race nerves.

The weather yesterday was ideal. I honestly could not have asked for a better day. It was a few degrees above zero, sunny and clear skies, and no wind. I was perfectly comfortable in two thin layers and quickly ditched my hat and gloves.

I will definitely run this race again next year...and hopefully Mother Nature will be so kind.

But anyway, enough of the boring stuff, let's talk about THE RUN!

I met up with a friend (Michelle) from the Running Room and a buddy (Dave) at the start line and we kept each other company as we waited for the gun. It went off at 10:05 on the dot and we were off! As I mentioned, we were through the start line in 13 seconds. It was crowded for the first half-kilometre or so, but we quickly spread out and got into a rhythm. Michelle and I separated after about 4K and I was on my own.

I maintained a steady, quick pace (well, quick for me!) and felt great. I have to admit, I glanced at my Garmin a few times and worried that I was starting out too strong, but decided to run with it (no pun intended, hehe). I was taking brief walks (30 seconds or so) at the water stations every 3K.

My cheerleaders met me at a few spots throughout the course to give me a wave and cheer me on. It was amazing to see them and I really appreciated the support. They snapped this great picture along the way:

So I trucked along, enjoyed the sights, eavesdropped on other runners and even had brief chats with a few. At one point, I felt my hat fall out of the back pocket in my shirt, but I didn't want to turn around so I just let it go. A fellow runner was kind enough to scoop it up and catch up to me to return it. Awesome people.

I was feeling truly fantastic until about 13K when I felt myself getting tired. I was really worried at this point that I had given too much in the first half and was about to hit the wall. I dug deep, envisioned the finish line, and kept on moving.

At this point, I started doing 10&1's. I knew I was ahead of schedule for my goal and wanted to make sure I had enough steam to finish the race, and it definitely helped. It was around this time that the 1:55 pace bunny and his group came up behind me. I decided to try to keep up with them, but only lasted a couple KM's.

I remember hitting the 16K mark because I thought to myself "It's just 5K. How many times have I run 5K?" I really took it a kilometre at a time from that point on. 15 to 19 were extremely difficult. I felt tightness around my knee, one foot was asleep and my legs felt very heavy. I concentrated on my breathing, counted steps, reminding myself over and over how close I was to the finish line.

I was taking a walk break when Dave came up behind me (yes, I was ahead!) and got me going again. I remember him saying "2 hours! You're so close!" So I kept running.

I could hear Dory from Finding Nemo in my head singing "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming..." but of course it was "Just keep running, just keep running, just keep running, running, running..." I was possibly borderline delusional at this point, but I needed something (ANYTHING!) to keep my mind off how sore and tired I was.

I really wished I had music with me for these last KM's. The rules said no Ipods and I wasn't sure how strict it would be, but didn't want to take a chance. Naturally, pretty much every other runner was wearing headphones. A few good power songs would have come in very handy. Next time...

So I made it through those grueling few KM's to the 19K mark. I could smell the finish line at this point! I glanced at the time and knew I wasn't going to make 2:00:00 so I just forced my legs to keep on moving. Once I hit 20K, I dug deep and willed my legs to carry me faster. As it turns out, my last kilometre was one of my fastest!

I turned the final corner and ran through the crowded 'chute' to the finish, spotted my cheerleaders and booted it across the line, clocking an official time of 2:01:00. SO close to the 2 hour mark, but I am ecstatic with my time. And now I have a goal for next time!

No regrets, but if I had started out a little slower, I probably could have finished with the same time and a lot less suffering toward the end of the race. Definitely a learning experience.

I also have a newly black toe to show for it. Nice. :)

This is a breakdown of my pace throughout the run (give or take):

KM1: 5:47
KM2: 5:30
KM3: 5:20
KM4: 5:36
KM5: 5:02
KM6: 5:29
KM7: 5:21
KM8: 5:31
KM9: 5:44
KM10: 5:25
KM11: 5:44
KM12: 5:32
KM13: 5:45
KM14: 5:54
KM15: 6:26
KM16: 5:53
KM17: 5:47
KM18: 6:02
KM19: 6:21
KM20: 6:20
KM21: 5:22

And the victory pics!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Personal Record!


Imagine that!

Link to Official Results - scroll down to # 902.

Details to come. Promise!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Let's get Chilly!

This is it! 12 hours from now I'll be pacing around the starting area getting ready for the word "GO!"

I have not been able to get any runs in since Sunday except a shorty today, but I am confident that I have enough mileage under my belt to run the 21.1 tomorrow. I'm anxious...more from excitement than nerves. I have some friends and family coming out tomorrow and others rooting for me from afar, which is a really good feeling. Big thank you to everyone for your constant support and encouragement, even those of you who are convinced that I'm nuts. :)

I'm remembering the enormous sense of pride and accomplishment when I completed my first half marathon in September, and hoping for the same rush of emotion this time around. I'm already getting goosebumps. It's hard to explain the feeling of crossing a finish line, but if I remember correctly, it's worth allllllllll of the hard work leading up to it.

So here we go again! Chilly Half, here I come.