Archive for April, 2015

Because I Can, That’s Why

Several months ago now, I was facing a knee injury that turned out to be caused by glute and core weakness, as well as inefficiency of stride and cadence. During my first physical therapy appointment, my physio asked me about my goals for the upcoming spring racing season. After telling her about my current training levels and watching her eyes widen a bit, she was floored when I said my goal was just to take a couple of minutes off my PB. “I’d likely cry in happiness if I could run a 1:53,” I said. My current PB is 1:56:26, set at the 2013 Saskatchewan Marathon.

“WHY are you training that much for a couple of measly minutes? Why are you busting your ass just for a couple minutes off your PB?!” She felt I was over training, and perhaps she was right. I was running six days a week, which I agree was too much. I have cut back to five days and reduced my mileage a bit, and it’s been much more manageable.

Her “why” question nagged at me for a week or so. It really made me sit back and evaluate what I was doing and why. Why was I busting my ass?

In high school, I was a sprinter. I placed first or second in every event I entered at the division level (and set five division records in the process), placed well at districts and qualified for provincials in at least one event every year I was eligible. Coaching in rural Saskatchewan leaves a lot to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful to the staff who supervise track and field, but supervise is too often the extent of it. Staff volunteers keep an eye on track kids, but rarely have enough event-specific knowledge themselves to offer much actual coaching. My parents enrolled me in a track club in Saskatoon for two years, but when the club wanted me to train five days a week the following year, the driving became too much to fit in around their full time work schedules. I continued to run with my school and place well, but my school coaches couldn’t help me much by that point.

I don’t say this to toot my own horn, but since rekindling my running passion, I’ve begun to wonder what could have been. Had I had good coaching in high school, how much better could I have run? How much further could I have gone? How much more could I have accomplished?

I realized that I was busting my ass for a couple of minutes off my PB because I didn’t want to be 40 and wonder the same thing about distance running. I’m 31, I have a tough coach who challenges my comfort levels and therefore is unlocking running potential I couldn’t have reached alone. When I reach the magic age where I start to slow down, I don’t want to wonder what I could have done and regret that I didn’t try everything to get there.

I have recovered from my injury and continue to strengthen my glutes and core to avoid having the same thing happen again. I ran a 5K time trial this past weekend and was just twelve seconds slower than my 5K PB – and half of that run was done straight into 60 km/hr winds. I have a 10K race this weekend and am feeling confident about it and my target half marathon May 31. Yes, I’m busting my ass. Yes, I will cry with joy if I run 1:53. And if I don’t? At least I’ll know I did everything I could to try, and there’s always another chance. I’m not slowing down yet, and I don’t plan to anytime soon!

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Red Rock Canyon 2015

Everyone has a collection of races that are their “must run” events each year. 2015 was the third year that Red Rock Canyon was on this list for me. (My 2013 preview provides some info on the area, for those who are new to my blog and haven’t heard of Red Rock before).

2015 was going to be a little different because my husband had decided that waiting around at the finish line for two hours was over-rated, and decided to fill some of his time with running the 5K event. I was pretty excited to see how his race was going to go!

A 6:45 a.m. start time at home is no big deal, but on a holiday…. wow, that’s EARLY! The park has very limited parking areas, so runners must catch a shuttle bus to get there. Our hotel was about a twenty minute drive from the host hotel and shuttle stop, and I like to arrive at races fairly early, so in the end we left our hotel room at about 5:20. I would have left earlier if it had been entirely up to me. 😉

Race morning was quite cool, and everyone around me at the half marathon start line (a different location than the full marathon and 5K start) was raising their eyebrows at my shorts and tank top selection. Canadian girls are tough! I knew from experience with this race that it wouldn’t stay cold for long, and that they’d regret their jackets and long sleeves. At home, I had cut the toes out of a pair of old tube socks to make myself some disposable arm warmers. I was thankful for my redneck sock arms at the start line, and equally thankful that I could toss them at the first aid station without worry. All around me runners were tying jackets around their waists and pushing up long sleeves. Told ya so.

I was cautious throughout this race, conscious of my knee injury. I’d recovered enough to manage just one decent long run (18km), which was better than nothing but not quite what I had in mind. I took it slow, especially on the many down hills. It’s so tempting to fly down those hills, but I knew if anything was going to flare up my knee that would be it. The long inclines had been challenging, but my knee had held up, pain-free.

Red Rock scenery

Red Rock scenery

I was actually pretty happy with how I came through this race in the end. I was several minutes slower than I had been in my previous two finishes here, but I’m okay with that considering that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run it at all.

2:07:07 chip time

2:07:07 chip time

I crossed the finish line in 2:07:07, my slowest half marathon yet. I will admit I was a little disappointed, but I was so excited to hear how Brett had done in his 5K that I wasn’t even looking at my time.

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Big medal and a bottle of chocolate milk = smiles!

“I’m never doing that again!” wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to hear from my husband, but that was the first thing he said. He had struggled with the thin mountain air, and found it difficult to pace himself after doing all his training on a treadmill that took care of that part for him. As a result he had had to take several walk breaks, despite not needing any in his training. His finish time of 30:21 (with walk breaks!) tells me that he was likely running too fast, considerably faster than what he had trained for. He finished 30/71 overall, and now says he’s glad that he did it once, but has decided that running isn’t for him. He biked a lot in high school and came home with a new bike yesterday, so I hope that will be more his style.

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After the race I received an email with the date for Red Rock 2016. Sadly for me, the race has been moved to February next year, so will no longer fit in with our holiday schedule. I am happy to have three Red Rock Canyon (half) Marathon finishers medals though!

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Huge thanks to Joyce of Calico Racing for her organization of this event. It is amazingly well planned and executed, and from the buzz on race day, it seems all her races are. Oh, and her finish line food is second to none: fresh pancakes, pastries, fruit, cookies, and more. If you want to run a race in the Las Vegas area, I would highly recommend one of Joyce’s Calico Racing events.

Red Rock Canyon 2015

2:07:07

81/280 overall

7/45 women 30-39

24/153 women

6th Canadian

2nd Canadian woman

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