Thursday, May 29, 2008

How about a little RUN down memory lane...

My hubby is from England (moved to Canada with his family in 1996) and he has always wanted to take me there to show me where he grew up. We've been planning the trip since before getting married in 2005 and it is finally happening next September (2009). We're even bringing my parents along for the ride!

We were surfing the 'net and discovered that there's a great race in hubby's hometown, and it's in September! The Bristol Half Marathon is "one of the UK’s leading road races" and "one of the largest and most popular half marathons in the country." It sounds like a beautiful route:

The Reebok Bristol Half Marathon will start and finish in Bristol’s historic Harbourside. The scenic, sea-level course will take runners around the old city, past the Harbourside, out and back along the Portway, through the stunning Avon Gorge, and pass twice under Brunel’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.

What better way to explore a little bit of hubby's heritage?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


4 months from right now, I will have (hopefully) completed my first marathon. There's something about hitting the 3-month mark (even if it's 3 months and X days) that makes it all feel very real and very soon. I remember feeling the same way three months before my wedding, and three months before moving in to our first house. The anticipation can be half the fun!

It's slightly overwhelming (who am I kidding? EXTREMELY overwhelming), but exciting at the same time. I'll be happy when I'm back in the program again, which will hopefully be sooner than I originally expected. My ankle has been feeling great these last couple days. It doesn't hurt to walk on so I am gradually learning to walk 'normally' again. It's amazing what 4 days of limping around can do to one's form! It's also very tight from being in a tensor almost 24 hours/day. I'll give myself a few more days and try an easy jog early next week.

I was just looking at the weeky newsletter from the STWM and something caught my eye.

Correct and redirect

No one's training program goes exactly as planned. There's no way to know this early on how your body or your life will respond to the training.

Be ready at any point to rethink your goals for the day, the week, the month, and the race. The greatest discipline is the ability to respond and change to the inevitable ups and downs of a long distance training program.

Ain't that the truth! While this injury was not actully caused by running and (thankfully) doesn't seem like it will have much of an impact on my overall training, I think it still applies. I certainly had to rethink my goals for the week AND month and my plan-making husband is going to have to go back to the drawing board with my program and make the necessary modifications.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Update on the ankle

I spent the better part of Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the couch RICEing and have come a long way since Thursday. I can put weight on my left side and even walk around unassisted...though limpy. I even hobbled on to the ball diamond yesterday for our first game with my 'family' league. I couldn't miss it but I promise, I took it very easy. (courtesy runners are a godsend!) It's feeling tender today (punishment for insisting on playing!) but not unbearable. I'll take it wasy for a few days til my game on Thursday. :)

I know the running will be on hold for at least another week to two, but I'm okay with that. In a previous post I mentioned that my left side has been feeling achy, so maybe this is just a needed break. There's wiggle room in my program, so it's all good. The way I see it, I'm just getting the injuries out of the way early in the season.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Good news and bad news

I spent the better part of this morning at the urgent care centre and x-ray clinic.

The good news is... it's not broken! No bone damage. PHEW! Just a very bad bruise.

The bad news is... that doesn't make it hurt any less. I was up most of the night in pain (doc has now prescribed something for that) and I still can't walk. I've also been assigned a very strict regimen of RICE: rest, ice, compress, elevate. So that is how I will be spending my weekend and with any luck, maybe I'll be in fair enough condition to play ball (I will never call it "soft" ball again) on Sunday. (but I'm not holding my breath)

I'm hobbling around the office, anxious for 3:00 when I can finally go home and assume my position on the couch where my husband will wait on me, being the awesome guy that he is.

Figures, I'm one week into my marathon program and I'm laid up with a bum ankle. I'm confident that a couple weeks off won't affect my fitness at this point, but it still sucks the big one.

Happy weekend to all and good luck to everyone participating in Capital Race Weekend. I'll be there next year!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


What was I just saying about my cursed left side? Take a look at this ankle.

I took an extremely hard ball straight to the ankle tonight while running from second base. It is unimaginably painful and I can't put an ounce of weight on it. Luckily, my hubby has been piggy-backing me around all night. Just wish I could bring him to work. Anyway, I'm icing, keeping it elevated and wrapped...hoping for the best. I'll stay off it as much as possible and see how it is. If it's no better tomorrow, I may have to go to the clinic to make sure it's nothing major.

I can not even believe this right now. I just hope it doesn't have too much of an impact on my softball and running season. Believe it or not, the exact same thing happened to my team-mate who is also running the marathon in September. We've agreed that we'll hobble the 42.2 KM to the finish line if that's what it comes down to. But let's hope not!

There is a slight silver lining. My turn came up to bat again. I could barely stamd on it, but if I didn't go up, my team would take an automatic out. So I managed to get my feet back in my cleats (didn't bother doing them uo), hobbled to the plate and took my turn. Would you believe it was my best hit of the season so far? Straight to the outfield, so I made it to first base... and took a courtesy runner! We won the game. :)

I'll update tomorrow when I have a better idea of what the damage is...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Audacious Hope

I had the priviledge and pleasure of hearing Silvia Ruegger speak at the Aurora Running Room last night. She told a touching story of how she went from running in the path of her mother's headlights on unlit roads in Small-Town-Ontario to competing in the first ever women's marathon at the 1984 Olympics, and later setting the world record for the Canadian women's marathon (her record still exists). You can read an excerpt of Silvia's story here on Sarah's blog.

It is an incredible story of triumph and failure (Silvia never did achieve her ultimate goal of winning a medal for Canada), but the message she conveyed yesterday was much deeper than that. Regardless of whether or not you reach each and every goal, it's the journey that makes a difference in your life. The lessons of sacrifice and perseverance are invaluable, not to mention the people you can meet along the way and the things you learn about yourself. She left us with two words: audacious hope. It's okay to have bold, daring dreams because even if we don't quite make it, we can get a hell of a lot out of trying.

My own personal "audacious hope" may seem insignificant compared to Silvia Ruegger's, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get any less out of the journey.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm no lefty

Let me start off by saying that i am right-handed...and my entire left side is pure evil!

Every last woe that I have experienced as a runner from minor aches to injuries (including my ITBS and the mysterious ailment that makes my knee clickity-clack) has been on my left side. Even my black toes and occasional foot cramps are always on my left foot!

I don't know if it's psychological, or if I favour my right side, or if there's actually something WRONG with my left side, or if it's just plain coincidence, but I DO know that I'd be happy to trade in my 'wrong' side for another 'right' side any day. I could run with two right legs!

This week my left leg is aching like crazy. Funny thing is, it doesn't bother me when I run. I feel great when I run. But the rest of the time, my left side is achy from my hip all the day down to my calf. Ugh! Made an appointment with my physiotherapist for next week to see what she thinks. For now, maybe I should just run 24 hours a day to keep the aches at bay?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Active recovery

I expected to wake up with sore and tired legs today after my long run yesterday morning, walking around the zoo all day AND softball practice in the evening. Amazingly, my legs feel fantastic.

I have heard that low-intensity exercise (i.e. walking) can actually aid in recovery even more than full-on rest. My legs ached quite a bit as we walked around the zoo after my run, but it seems that the active recovery has paid off.

I'm enjoying a glorious rest day... it's refreshing not having anything on the agenda for an entire day.

Speaking of agendas, here's what's on for this week.

Marathon Training: Week Two

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 7K
Wednesday: 5K
Thursday: softball
Friday: 5K
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 14K
Total: 31K

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Learning to pace myself

I don't know what has gotten in to me, but I seem to be running fast lately. I always used to be a 6:00 (per KM) runner, even for 5K, and closer to 6:15 for long runs. But lately, 5:30 has become my new 'comfortable.' My husband recently asked "What happened to you?!" I can actually keep up with him these days. ;)

As detailed in my previous post, each run in my training calls for a specific pace window. I should be maintaining a pace of 5:47 to 6:06 for my "Regular" runs. Monday I ran 8K at 5:12 pace, Wednesday 5K at 5:23 pace, Friday 5K at 5:47 pace (reeeeaaaaally concentrating on the watch and keeping it slow) and this morning 12K at 5:28 pace. I stare at my watch and find my pace, but as soon as I look away from the watch for a minute or 2, I find myself back around the 5:30 mark.

I'm torn because I feel like I should try to stick to the program keep the pace closer to 5:45 (mainly to prevent injury and/or burn-out) but at the same time, I'm just listening to my body and running comfortably, so what's wrong with that?

I'll play it by ear for now while the weekly mileage is still <40K. Once my long runs get up there in distance (I'll be running 20K by the end of next month!), I'm sure I will naturally slow down.

Anyway, I've been feeling good lately. I can't remember the last time I had heavy legs and I usually finish my runs feeling as though I could easily keep going. My breathing is controlled, my heart rate feels comfortable. Life is good.

Tomorrow I am taking a much needed rest day. It's Victoria Day here in Canada (read: I don't have to work!) and I can't wait to do NOTHING. Friday night I walked around Wonderland for a few hours after work then went home and ran. Saturday I walked all over Niagara Falls for the day and today I ran 12K, walked around the zoo (in the rain!) for 4 hours and topped that off with softball practice. Relaxation, here I come.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Plan...Mission to a Marathon

My husband, the training-plan-maker-extraordinaire has spent countless hours customizing a training plan for my marathon. I had originally planned to follow a program designed by Hal Higdon, so we (and by "we" I mean "he") used it as a base in conjunction with McMillan to incorporate pace work.

First, we should address goals. When I decided to run a marathon, I convinced myself that I would run 'to complete' - in other words, no finishing time goal. Hah. Have you met me? I'm competitive. I thrive on very specific goals. And apparently I like to run fast, no matter how hard I try to convince myself that time is not important. So I decided I would aim to run a sub-4:00:00 marathon, which is a pretty aggressive goal in itself for a first-timer. So hubby went to work on the program, I looked it over and thought it looked to easy. Let me clarify: the distances and weekly mileage made my eyes bulge, but the paces were significantly slower than I'm accustomed to running. So why not take it up a notch? If I discover that the goal is too aggressive and I can't keep up with the training, I'll take a step back. But hopefully that won't be necessary.

After some soul searching and number crunching, I came to the conclusion that I will try to run (no wait, I will run) a 3:50:00 marathon. Why? Because I want to. And I think I can! Hubby has re-designed the program to accommodate my new goal (and even better, he's given me training paces for both a 3:50 and 4:00 finish, so in the event that I am not keeping up with the 3:50 plan, I'll be able to work from the 4:00 plan). But you know what? It doesn't look THAT difficult. Maybe I'm just dreaming but maybe, JUST MAYBE, I'll be able to do it. Why not aim big?

So here's how it's gonna work.

The program is 19 weeks starting with this week. I'll be running 5 days per week with the occasional 4-day recovery week. My runs will be broken down as follows:

Regular pace runs: Pace 5:47 to 6:06

Long runs (Sundays): Pace 5:47 to 6:24 ... always followed by Monday rests

Steady State runs (faster than goal race pace, but not quite speed work pace): Pace 5:11 to 5:20 (always accompanied by warm-up and cool-down at Recovery pace)

Interval runs (speed work): Pace 4:43 to 5:19 (slower pace for shorter workouts, faster pace for longer workouts)
i.e. 4 x 400 m at 4:43-4:55 with 200 m rests at recovery pace in between or 4 x 1600 m at 4:54-5:19 with 800 m rests

Recovery runs: Pace 6:24 to 6:43 (typically the day after interval work and the day before long runs)

Let's talk about mileage. The long run starts at 12K this weekend, gradually working up to 32K. I run 30K week 14 and 32K weeks 16 and 18. Everything I have ever heard or read emphasizes the importance of capping marathon training at 32K to prevent injury, muscle deterioration and plain old burn-out. Supposedly, the last 10K is all mental. I'm skeptical, but trusting the experts on that one.

So The Plan is pretty complex and detailed, but I work well with structure. The challenging thing will be planning my days and weeks around my runs all summer, but this is a commitment I have decided to make and I know all of my friends and family will support me right to the finish.

Let's do this, shall we?! My Mission to a Marathon officially begins NOW.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back in business

That's better!

Brought my gear to work and went for a nice run on my lunch. The weather is ideal: 16C and sunny. I could get used to this.

I ran 8K around "Thornhill Square" as I like to call it. I enjoy routes like this with long stretches from one turn to the next. It's not really an option where we live because most of the major roads don't have consistent sidewalks.

Pace was 5:12 average. I don't know what it is, but I've been running fast lately! I'm going to have to learn to control my pace as I get into my marathon program and the mileage builds, keeping it slower for the "LSD" and "Recovery" runs with pre-defined days for speed work and/or steady state runs.

Speaking of which, the program is officially underway. Details tomorrow...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The marathon that wasn't meant to be

Today I was supposed to be running the Mississauga Marathon, but I came down with a bad case of ITBS after the Chilly Half, which slowed my progress immensely and forced me to back out.

It's a bummer not to be running, but I had to let my body heal. I took almost a month off, then spent a month building back up to 10K in time for Sporting Life. My official marathon training will begin this week, leading up to the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 139 days. :)

I had a pretty crappy week running-wise with only one decent run (Thursday: 6K at 5:15 pace). I had planned a 10K or so this morning but I woke up with a brutal cramp in my foot so it looks like I am taking yet another day off. Excuse me while I wallow. I'm feeling extremely sluggish, which is always the case when I'm not running.

Next week will be better...

(But wouldn't it have been a bi*%& if I was running Mississauga today and woke up with this cramp?!)

*** 10:00 AM Update, just for giggles... ***

I was an elite runner for about 5 minutes this morning! According to, I had run a marathon in 2:02:35 and placed first in my category.

My friend Dave used my registration to run the half with his girlfriend, even though the registration was for the full. They've already corrected the stats, but it was fun while it lasted.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Birthday Cake Belly Ache

Today was a busy day...errands to run and my niece's 2nd Birthday party. I fully intended to get up early for a run (and had no excuse not to, since I was in bed before 10 last night), but alas, I didn't drag my butt out of bed until almost 9 AM. The run would have to wait until after the party.

I was home just after 6, dressed and ready to go. Hit the sidewalks planning for a nice and easy 5K with plans for a longer run tomorrow morning. No more than 300 metres in, I suddenly had quite possibly the worst cramp EVER. It literally stopped me in my tracks and I felt like I had a boulder lodged beneath my ribs.

Apparently potato chips, hot dogs, Birthday cake and diet coke do not make ideal fuel for a run.... but it was totally worth it!

I'll be back on the usual oatmeal tomorrow...and hopefully up before 9 AM.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hilling me Softly...

I've mentioned before that I live in a hilly neighbourhood...we like to call it the Newmarket Alps.

To elbaorate, this is an elevation map from my Garmin of a typical run in my subdivision.

I'm grateful for the famously flat course at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tricks of the trade

Who ever said that all you need is a good pair of runners?

Here are some of the latest and greatest 'aids' I've been using to take care of my body, keeping it in tip top running shape! Everything described below (with the exception of Epsom salt) was recommended by hubby's dietician, Debbie Allen from Health on Earth, who is a long distance runner herself.

1. Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate crystals)

According to the Epsom Salt Council, soaking in an Epsom bath increases the body's magnesium levels and in turn "Flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain."

2. Calcium Magnesium

Calcium: To maintain bone strength and assist in muscle growth;
Magnesium: To improve energy metabolism (production), thereby increasing endurance.
While calcium affects muscle contractions, magnesium balances that by relaxing the muscles.

3. Whey Protein Drink Mix

The science of whey: Wikipedia

Basically, used to accelerate muscle development and aid in recovery.

4. Endurlyte Vitamin-Mineral Supplement

A combination of vitamins and minerals for electrolyte and energy levels. (Like Gatorade without the unnecessary additives.)

5. Naka Nutri-Flex

From the website:

... contains Glucosamine Sulfate to help maintain moisture in the cartilage to lubricate joints and slow degeneration, amino acid rich hydrolyzed gelatin to strengthen and rebuild joint cartilage, natural pain releiver Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM) and anti-inflammatory ingredients Bromelain, Turmeric and Devil's Claw.

I swear, I used to be low meaintenance...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sporting Life 10K: Race Report

This was my 3rd race, but my first 10K, having run two half-marathons previously. I found that I went into the race with quite a different attitude than I'm used to, being 100% confident that I could complete it (barring injury, emergency, etc.) and focusing more on my time. In the week leading up to the race, I had become almost obsessed with finishing under 54:23. This, of course, led to the usual pre-race anxiety...but for a different reason. This time I wasn't nervous about the distance, but about letting myself down by failing to achieve my goal time. Let's be's much easier to say all that matters is finishing the race! than it is to believe it. As much as I love to run and run for the fun of it, I have a competitive nature and each race is a competition, even if I'm only competing against myself.

The Sporting Life 10K is a huge event in downtown Toronto with about 10000 participants, starting with a beautiful run down "Canada's most famous street" (Yonge Street) and finishing in front of the city's boldest landmarks, the Sky Dome and CN Tower. The route is notoriously downhill and therefore one of Canada's fastest 10K events. The race was well organized and executed and the whole process was quite smooth - as smooth as possible with so many runners involved.

I briefly summarized the morning yesterday, from waking up at 4:45 AM, heading downtown and hanging around the starting area for over an hour. It was much colder than I expected (about 8C and windy) and I felt underdressed in capris and a sleeveless top, so I was eager to get moving.

The gun went off promtly at 8:00 AM. I started in the 50-55 minute corral and crossed the start line in less than a minute and 30 seconds.

There were several elite athletes competing, with 15 finishing under 35 minutes.

Anyway, enough details! You want to hear about my run, right?!

There is such a different dynamic to the 10K as opposed to a half marathon. I'm used to starting out conservatively to make sure I don't run out of steam in the first half of the race. This time, I knew I could afford to start out stronger since the distance was not nearly as great. I had planned to pace my first 5K at 5:15 to 5:30, and allow myself to slow down or speed up depending on how I felt. Not surprisingly, I got caught up in the crowd and excitement and ran the first 5 much faster than expected: 4:47, 4:52, 4:56, 4:35 and 4:58 respectively. Reaching the half way mark and realizing I had just run my fastest 5K was both exciting and nerve-wracking. For a second I thought, "Uh-oh...what's going to happen in the next 5K?"

I was going strong for the 6th KM at 4:56, but slowed down for the 7th, clocking 5:59 (this includes a brief walk for a few gulps of water). I made up for it in the 8th KM, logging 4:50. In the 9th KM, I could feel myself running out of steam. It was by far the most difficult kilometre and I found myself aching for the finish line. To make it worse, this stretch of the route was under the Gardiner Expressway and I had no signal on my Garmin, so I didn't know my pace or how much further I had to run. I concentrated on a runner in front of me, and decided not to allow a gap to grow between us. The strategy worked because I would feel myself slowing down, notice the gap growing, and will my legs to push harder. (I learned later that my 9th KM came in at 5:46).

Before I knew it, we were rounding the final bend. I could hear the crowds and almost SMELL the finish line. Sure enough, there it was, just a few hundred metres ahead. I turned on the gas and gunned it all the way up the chute. There are no words to describe the adrenaline rush I get when catch the first glimpse of the finish line. Nothing could stop me!

The official time on the clock read 50:35 as I crossed and I knew my chip time would be sub 50:00, which shocked the crap out of me. I couldn't stop smiling and probably looked like a big goofy idiot!

Remarkably, I felt great after the race. I stretched while I waited for my friends and didn't stiffen up too much. I woke up this morning with pretty sore quads, but nothing unbearable. I'll give myself a couple days to recover and I should be on the road again.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

This morning

4:45 AM : alarm goes off, I wonder what the heck I was thinking
5:00 AM : choke down a bowl of oatmeal (I hate eating early in the morning), get dressed, grab our bags and make sure we didn't forget anything
5:30 AM : pick up our friends (and first time racers!) and head downtown
6:30 AM : find parking near the Rogers Centre (finish area) and hail a cab to head up to the starting line
6:45 AM : potty break, stand around freezing cold for an hour
7:45 AM : wish my friends good luck and find my spot in the start corral (50-55 minutes)
8:00 AM : gun goes off and off I go!
8:49:10 AM : FINISHED!!!!
9:30 AM : find my friends and grab some post-race grub, make our way to the car because I'm told my lips are turning blue
10:00 AM : delicious brunch at The Green Eggplant. I love post-race meals. Nothing ever tastes so good!

So I finished in 49:10, which I could hardly believe. I didn't think I could run that fast. My first 10K race and a PR in the books...more details to come.

Big huge congratulations to Sarah and Colin for kicking butt at their first race, and Mel for achieveing a new Personal Best.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

This is it!

The Sporting Life 10K kicks off in 17 hours, 54 minutes, 17 seconds. But who's counting?

We picked up our race kits this morning and the pre-race nerves and excitement began to settle in. I've heard nothing but good things about this event: big crowds, high energy, great entertainment, a nice route. At the very least, I'm going to have fun, but of course I hope to run a strong race. My official goal is 54:23, but my ultimate goal (as always) is to finish upright and smiling. We'll see what the day brings.

I'm bib # 6060, so feel free to check out my live results tomorrow by clicking here.

Good luck to all of my friends running tomorrow!

Friday, May 02, 2008


I decided to make a last minute appointment with my PT last night for a 'check up' of sorts. My left leg has been feeling a little tight and I can't seem to loosen it up myself, so she checked me out and worked on it a little bit. She said that everything seemed great (especially my IT band - woohoo!), which was music to my ears. She massaged my quads, hamstrings, calves and outer knee and I was on my way. Everything feels good this morning.

(Hubby thinks I just "imagined" the tightness so I would have an excuse to go back to's awesome being injury-free, but I miss my weekly sessions, torture and all.)

I've been warned that the quads are going to be sore after Sporting Life since at least half of the course is primarily downhill. Hopefully I won't suffer for that too much. Stretch, stretch, stretch!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

5K PR!!

I achieved a new record tonight: 5K in 25:00! My previous 'best' was 26:48, so I am absolutely thrilled. My last three KM's were all under 5:00/KM, with the last one coming in at 4:36. That is likely my fastest kilometre everand I can hardly believe I ran that fast. It actually felt amazing and I recovered almost completely after a short walk back home.

Bring on Sporting Life!