Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hurts so good

I'm walking a little funny today! Last night I went out and ran 10.5KM - my longest since the 1/2 marathon (a whole month ago already! can you believe it? I can't!) The route has a few good hills - one in particular at the 5K mark. It's a brutal 20m climb over only 200m. Ouch! Thankfully, there's a stop light at the top that's almost always red. ;) It took me just over an hour, without pausing the watch at stop lights.

It was an absolutely beautiful day (I love this weather!), the sun setting (it was pitch black by the time I got home) and I had a great run. I was all dressed up in my newest Running Room digs, thanks to gift cards from Sarah & Colin and Leanna & Shane from my Birthday, and I was lovin' it.

But yeah, my legs are a-hurtin' today!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We're really going to do it

The Great Wall Marathon® is a tough, beautiful and definitely extraordinary experience. The 3700 steps of the Great Wall will put your physique to the test, and the breathtaking surroundings of Tianjin Province will compete with your tired muscles for attention. The Great Wall Marathon® is the ideal way to combine an unusual running event with exploring one of the world’s most astonishing sights.

3700?!?! Yowzas!

Monday, October 29, 2007

You may think we're crazy, but...

...we're going to do it. Hubby and I are heading to China for the 2009 Great Wall Half Marathon!

The way I see it, this is the best time of our lives to do it. We're young, healthy and motivated and we want to take advantage of these years of freedom before we have children. The only reason we're not going for '08 is because we are moving into our new house in January and spending $6000+ to go to China right now would probably not be the most responsible decision! Plus, this gives us some time to actually train for it. Because this ain't no ordinary half marathon!

The first section which covers approximately 9 kilometres takes the runners up to, across and down the Great Wall of China. This part of the course is marked by steep ascents and descents of up to 10% and consists of thousands of steps. Runners are advised to run slowly going up and down the mountain, as well as to walk when passing the steepest parts of the Great Wall.

I don't know if my Mom is still reading this thing, but she is going to have a heart attack when she reads this. Hi Mom! And yes, we are still going to England in September '09! ;)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Running through the pain

Hubby is always talking about running through the pain. He is quite often ailing with one ache or another. Something always seems to hurt and he likes to brag that he runs right through it. I've been pretty lucky because *knock on wood* nothing ever hurts. The only running injury I have endured was a twisted knee last April and it was so bad that I could barely walk, let alone run, so I was off my feet for a few weeks completely. Basically, I've never really had to run through the pain. Sure, my legs were killing me by the last few KM's of the half marathon last month, and I often have stiff legs after a long (or fast) run, but other than that I have been pretty lucky.

That is, until today.

It was a beautiful morning so I headed out for a run. Excrutiating pain! My outer thighs (below the hip) were killing me. I'm thinking I may have overdone it on this machine at the gym this week:

So, I ran through the pain! At first it was so bad that I actually considered turning around, but I couldn't bear to waste such ideal running weather! So I slowed down, hung in there and after about 15 minutes I didn't feel it anymore.

We'll see how the legs are tomorrow...

And for the record, this still seems like a good idea. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ambitious would be an understatement

Yeah, I know. It's crazy! And I'm not saying this is something I want to do next year. Maybe 2009? Who knows. But I'm putting this on the to-do list in my head. Because....why not? I want to do something spectacular, kwim? This would be one hell of an experience. And there is no reason I can't do it. I'm going to take some advice from Tatiana and sleep on it to see if it's still a good idea in the morning.

Here's what's up

Just a little (overdue) update on my runs in the last week...

Monday (last): 5K (treadmill) + weights
Tuesday: 8K (treadmill)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 5K (treadmill) + weights
Friday: elliptical + weights
Saturday: 7.5K outside
Sunday: sick :(
Monday: 5K (treadmill)

I think hubby and I deserve a gold star or something for last night. It was almost 10:00 and we were driving home from visiting friends. We had already written off the idea of going to the gym... but we decided to just go! So we had a great workout in a completely empty gym and got home around 11 (and went straight to bed).

That is dedication, baby! We haven't missed a planned gym day yet!

Tonight I'm thinking of a long-ish run on the treadmill... maybe 10K?

Monday, October 22, 2007

No more pretty toes

Well, it's official: I've lost my first toenail. I came down with a bad case of Black Toenail, a.k.a. Runner's Toe or Subungual Hematoma back in late August or September in 4 (yes, FOUR!) of my poor little toes.

A subungual hematoma is a collection of blood (hematoma) underneath a toenail or fingernail which often results from a traumatic injury such as slamming a finger in a door. A laceration of the nail bed causes bleeding into the constricted area underneath the hard nail plate. Because the blood disrupts the connections between the nail bed and nail plate, throbbing pain is common. The nail develops a black discoloration overlying the laceration.

It is a very common condition among runners. It is basically caused by repetitive and prolonged pressure and friction against the toes. Tight shoes or socks only make matters worse.

The funny thing is, I didn't realize I had it until a couple weeks later. After a long run, I noticed that my toes were very tender and blamed it on needing new shoes. It was until a couple weeks later when I took my nail polish off that I discovered 4 of my toes were completely black under the nail. Now, another month or so later, the first nail has finally come off. I assume the other 3 will shortly follow suit. No more pretty feet for me, but at least flip flop season is over!

ETA: And yes, I know, it's gross! LOL!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An important interruption

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I was clicking around recently and stumbled upon Toddler Planet. The blogger, WhyMommy, is fighting an incredibly tough battle against Inflammatory Breast Cancer (breast cancer without a lump) and simultaneously fighting to raise awareness of this disease. Too few women are aware that this rarest and most deadly form of Breast Cancer even exists. I know I wasn't.

It has been both heart-breaking and inspiring to read and I encourage all of you to see for yourselves.

I have decided to join Team WhyMommy and share this post from July 23rd on my blog. So here it is. Please read it.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Who's reading?

Have you noticed my new little hit counter on the right hand side of the page? ---->

I can't believe the number of hits since I added it! People are actually reading this? It's somehow... humbling. I want to thank all of you for dropping by and reading. Just knowing that you are makes me more accountable. It's more motivating than I can explain.

If you read this and you have a sec, leave me a quick comment, would ya? Just let me know who you are. :)

Thanks for reading!

E.T.A. - Oops! Forgot to update! Last night I did 5 miles (dang imperial tradmills!) which is a little more than 8k. I wanted to do that last mile to make it 10k but hubby was exhausted and anxious to get home after an extra long workday. Next time...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kinda in limbo

While I'm falling into a routine of getting to the gym Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, I would like to be running outdoors more. It's just so hard to fit it in on gym nights. I did get out for a run Saturday morning and had planned another run on Sunday, but I wasn't feeling too hot after my Birthday party Saturday night! I will (hopefully) start going out on Saturday and Sunday starting this weekend, and I'll feel a little better about that. I guess I'm just feeling a little lost right now. The strength training is really important to me, but it's frustrating (disappointing, even?) that I can't devote as much of my time and energy to running.

Know what I mean?

One bit of good news - I ran my fastest 5k ever on the treadmill last night... 26:15!! BUT, I feel like it doesn't really count because it was on the treadmill. I guess this is also what I'm getting it. In a way, I'm discrediting running on the treadmill. I know it can be a valuable part of training and hey, it's how I started! But still....

But yeah, I'm still stoked about by 26:15!

Meh, I'm blabbing! Anyway, I'm really eager for my Running Room clinic to start in December. That will be two runs outside per week, no matter what. It should be fun!

I got $100 in Running Room gift cards for my Birthday and I am definitely putting that toward some cold weather running gear. Can't wait to go shopping! I also got a great jacket for my B-day, pictured below. But anyone who knows me will not be surprised that mine is pink!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The gym hurts

I am on a mission to get in really good shape this winter. I had a very active summer and want to keep it up, even as the seasons change. As I mentioned a few posts back, we joined the gym. So far it's going good! The plan is something like this...

Monday - 30-45 minute run on treadmill, 30 mins. weights
Tuesday - 30-45 minute run on treadmill, 30 mins. weights
Wednesday - rest day
Thursday - 30-45 minute run on treadmill, 30 mins. weights
Friday - 30-45 minute run on treadmill, 30 mins. weights
Saturday and/or Sunday - long run outside

As I also mentioned previously, I'll be signing up for the Half Marathon Clinic at the Running Room starting in December, so once that starts I'll have outdoor runs Wednesday night (speed/hill work) and Sunday mornings (long distance) and I'll adjust my plan to accommodate.

I have been pretty sore since starting the strength training. It has been so long since I lifted weights! Hopefully it will pay off and I'll be nice and toned by the end of Winter.

Last night I did 5k on the treadmill at 6.5 miles per hour (the dang machines are all in imperial! grr!) which works out to about 5:44 min/km so I did it in about 28:33. I already miss running outside - the scenery, fresh air. But I know if I run outside, I won't get my butt to the gym to do the weights. I'm looking forward to a nice run (or two) outdoors this weekend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Getting technical

All these numbers are whirling around in my brain!

My hubby has had his nose buried in The Lore of Running since he got it for his Birhtday last weekend.

Author Tim Noakes blends the expertise of a physician and research scientist with the passion of a dedicated runner to answer the most pressing questions for those who are serious about the sport:
· How your body systems respond to training, the effects of different training methods, how to detect and avoid overtraining, and genetic versus trainable potential
· How to train for the 10K up through ultramarathon with detailed programs from Noakes and several leading running experts
· How to prevent and treat injuries, increase your strength and flexibility, and use proper nutrition for weight control and maximum performance

It's far too technical to keep my interest, but it's right up his alley.

Speaking of technical...

Hubby did some calculations for me using the McMillan Method and apparently, in order to run a half marathon in 2:00:00...

I should be able to run:
5k in 25:58 (pace of 5:12min/km)
10k in 53:56 (pace of 5:23min/km)
21.1k in 2:00:00 (pace of 5:42min/km)

Who knows how accurate it is, but at least it gives me an idea. As of now, the fastest 5k I have run is 27:00 and the fastest 10k I have run is 1:00:00, so I have some work to do. I have never done speed training before, but I'm looking forward to the challenge!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Now what?

Since signing up for the race at the beginning of this year, I hadn't thought too much about what I would do next. To be honest, in the weeks leading up to September 30th, I was craving a break from running. I knew I was only competing against myself and all that really mattered was finishing the race, but that's still a lot of pressure. And I'm a pretty competitive person with pretty high expectations of myself, so I wanted to not only finish the race, but do so with flying colours! I wanted sooooo badly to run continuously (no walk breaks!), finish under 2 hours and 15 minutes, and do it smiling.

And I did. So now what?

It was so immensely satisfying to cross the finish line and I had so much fun during the race (even when it was really %*&#$% hard!) that I was already scouting races for next year that very evening! It looks like our next race will be the Mississauga Half Marathon on May 11/08. And we'll be running the STWM again on September 28/08. My goal is to run the Mississauga half in under 2:12:46 and the STWM half in under 2 hours. We're also planning to run the Perschini Easter Seals 10K in May which is sponsored by our gym (it's actually 8.5K according to Gmaps Pedometer) as well as the Oasis ZooRun 10K (through the zoo!) in October! There's also A Mid Summer Night's Run (15K or 30K) in August that looks fun.

This racing thing... it's addicting.

So there you have it, the plan for next year, in a nut shell.

I've decided to sign up for a 16-week Running Room Half Marathon Clinic starting in December. Sure, I can run a half marathon already, but I didn't train for it properly. I have never done speed work or hill training and I know I need to in order to improve my time. Plus, I find it extremely difficult to force myself to get out for the long practice runs once a week. With the clinic, I'll have speed work or hill training Wednesday nights and a long run every Sunday morning with my group. The element of accountability should keep me right on track and I'll be ready to kill the Mississauga half in May!

But this means I need to buy some winter running gear. Running outdoors in January and February... I'm the last person who ever thought I'd catch myself doing that!

And, well, that's what's next!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Race Report!

Let me preface this by saying that I am the last person who ever thought I would (or could!) become a runner... let alone run a half marathon! As a matter of fact, my husband started running in 2005 and I thought he was insane! But something possessed me to give it a try last December. I quickly became hooked on the challenge and the satisfaction of gradually increasing my distance. Before I knew it, I was running 5, 7, 10, 12 KM at a time. I convinced my husband (although, it did not take much convincing!) to sign up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on September 30th. And now, after months of anticipation, excitement and (occasionally) anxiety, the big day has come and gone.

On September 30th we were up at 4:00 AM to be downtown by 6. Our wedding photographer was kind enough to meet us there to snap some 'before' pics, which I should have soon. Before long it was time to position ourselves in the start corral and find our pace bunny. At this point, the nerves had settled and we were both eager to get this thing started!

The gun went off at 7:00 AM sharp, but we didn't cross the start line until a few minutes had passed. This is what happens when 12,000 people are starting a race at the same time and this is why our official time is three minutes and thirty-eight seconds slower than our chip time.

The crowd started dispersing after about the first kilometre and we were finally able to fall into a groove with our pace bunny (or "my rabbit" as I liked to refer to him). We were off to a great start and I felt like a million bucks. The crowds cheering us on at every street corner really kept our spirits up and kept my mind off the fact that my feet would be pounding the pavement for the next two hours.

It was a beautiful morning at about 15 degrees. It was still dark when we started, but the sun quickly began to rise. We were grateful for a cloudy horizon that kept the sun out of our eyes until the end of the race. I could not have asked for a better day.

The first kilometres were flying by. The big red flags signifying each kilometre seemed to be coming really fast and each one gave me a boost of confidence and pride. I was really doing it!

One of my favourite parts of the entire race was around the 7th or 8th KM when the elite marathon runners were approaching from the opposite direction (the course was basically a big loop). Those are some serious runners and it gave me a huge burst of adrenaline as they whizzed by. John Kelai from Kenya actually beat the record for the fastest marathon ever run in Canada at 2:09:30. We all gave them a big cheer as they passed and it felt good to be a part of something. KWIM?

The next few kilometres continued to be a breeze and a few times I even thought to myself this is too easy! I think it was around the 12th kilometre when I realized I was really going to be able to do it. Up until then I had told myself over and over that I could, but I don't know if I really believed myself. It was a huge accomplishment to pass the 14th kilometre marker because the longest continuous distance I had previously run was 13.5.

It was around 17 KM that it got tough. My legs were getting tired and I was running out of steam. Knowing that there were only a few KM's to go (and my husband's constant encouragement) kept me going. Every kilometre marker was a small victory. By about the 19th, I had to will my legs to take each step and I can remember chanting in my head 1, 2, 1, 2... We started to hear the crowds at the finish line and I wanted to sprint to the end sooo badly, but I just had nothing left.

About 500 metres to go... we could see the balloon arch over the finish line. I dug deep (SO deep!) to pick it up for the finish. I heard my Mom call out my name and found her and my sister in the crowd cheering us on. We held hands and pushed as hard as we could til we crossed that finish line!

Gun time was 2:16:24 and chip time was 2:12:46. It would have been nice to reach our goal of sub 2:15:00 in "official time" but chip time is the real deal (start line to finish line).