Media Blitz!

As an introvert, being in the media is not something I enjoy or seek out. However, no one ever got anywhere staying inside their comfort zone, so when I was asked to do a few media things lately I agreed.

First came a media day for Powered By Chocolate Milk. Thank goodness they teamed me up with nutritionist Steph from Something Nutrishus so I didn’t have to go alone! We were on Global Saskatoon’s morning news and after an initial bumble we did pretty good I think!

http://globalnews.ca/video/1939878/powering-your-body-with-chocolate-milk

Next was an interview with CFCR radio that evening, again with Steph. This was much more relaxed and fun, and I felt like I did way better in this setting than TV! Except of course none of it was recorded to share after the fact… if you happened to hear us on the radio, let me know!

After working with Steph on these projects, she asked if she could feature me on her blog for what she calls “hiah chat” (healthy is a habit), where she interviews people who follow a healthy lifestyle. You can see her post here.

My running coach, Ron Byland, also asked if he could feature me in his monthly Testimonial Tuesday blog post, where he features one of his runners. My testimonial about working with Ron is here.

The blog posts I’m fairly comfortable with (obviously, since I write here occasionally), but the TV thing really stretched me. I’ve done a TV interview before about the infant massage classes I teach, but I felt more pressure this time as I was representing a company other than my own. In the end it went okay and I’m glad I gave it a whirl!

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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!

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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Injury and Recovery

I am just days away from my first half marathon of 2015 (in Vegas, no less! Hooray for Vegas!)! It’s been a bit of a rough road getting here…

In mid-January, a minor knee ache became a sudden, severe, stabbing pain. It takes a lot to make me quit a run, but that Sunday I quit after just 26 metres. I called my physiotherapist the next day and got in to see her Thursday.

My self-diagnosis was correct, and I went home with several pages of exercises for treating patellofemoral syndrome. I had fluid build-up around my knee and was still in too much pain to run.

One of the reasons I love this physiotherapist is that she isn’t satisfied simply treating the injury. She takes the time to investigate further and figure out why it happened in the first place, what caused the injury. A week later my PT watched me run on a treadmill and discovered the cause of my problem. My heel strikes in front of me instead of under me, causing my hamstring to have to work too hard to first pull my body forward before pushing off again. My glute med was weak and my leg wasn’t extending enough at the end of my stride. All of this had been going on for who knows how long and had manifested as knee pain. Yikes.

I spent the next month strengthening, foam rolling and gradually increasing my mileage again. I’m at the point now where running actually makes my knee feel better (fluid circulating with exercise says my PT), and my hips and core feel much more stable when I run. I’m a bit nervous that I only was able to safely increase my kilometres enough to get in one good 18 km long run before beginning to taper. My training plan had included a lot of big long runs and I was excited to finally be tackling my “last 5km” weakness. Instead, I will step up to this start line with the fewest training kilometres ever.

What I’m telling myself: 1. This is a non-goal race. Red Rock Canyon is a place to run and enjoy the scenery, not attempt a big goal time in their huge hills and elevation changes. 2. My husband is running his first 5K while I run the half. If I’m hurting, the excitement I have to hear about his race when I finish will help get me through. 3. Better now than in April. My spring goal race is the Saskatchewan Marathon (half marathon for me) at the end of May, so this can be a training race in preparation for that one.

A few years ago I went to a motivational speaker the night before my first 10K race. This week I will remind myself of something he said: “You’ve done all you can do. There’s nothing more you can do at this point that will prepare you more than you already are. You’re as prepared as you can be for this race, so put it out of your mind.” I’ve done all the preparation my body allowed me to do, and I’ve recovered as well as I could while still preparing to run 21.1 km. Deep breaths. And go.

Just When You Think You Know A Guy…

My husband and I are one of those weird high school sweetheart stories. We dated all through high school and college, and then got married at 21 and 22 years old. We lived happily ever after with our three kids and our cows on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I kid you not. What are the odds of a high school relationship actually lasting long term? Pretty slim. We’re just cool like that. 😉

So after a total of seventeen years together (married for ten), I’ve got the guy pretty well figured out. He hates raisins and can spit them out of otherwise tasty baking like watermelon seeds. He has a soft spot for baby animals and vintage farm machinery, and loves the smell of dirt waiting to be seeded in the spring. He has a strong dislike for hipsters. And his eyes glaze over when I talk about running.

“I don’t run unless something is chasing me.” That has been Brett’s go-to line for the past couple of years. It’s usually preceded by a neighbour saying “I saw your crazy wife out running again. You never go with her, hey? Hahaha!” or something similar.

So when he casually asked me one evening if my treadmill was set for kilometres or miles I was completely caught off guard. “Killlllommmmmetresssss…. ummmmm, whyyyyyy?” When he replied, “I went for a walk after lunch,” I almost fell over. Seriously. Brett is a pretty naturally fit guy, just from doing his daily jobs around the farm, but to actually seek out physical activity was completely out of character. A high school football knee injury had left him with permanent ligament damage and pain if he works it too hard. A giant custom brace (“go-go-Gadget leg!”) helps, but is uncomfortable and awkward.

The next evening, Brett walked past me with a look that told me not to dare say a word and went downstairs. I heard the treadmill start and him walking. I went down to check on him after a while and was met with a defiant stare. “No making fun of me for exercising!” After I gently reminded him that I had run 18 km that morning and was the last person on earth who would dream of making fun of anyone – especially my stubborn farmer – for exercising, I turned to leave. What he said next stopped me in my tracks. “I’m thinking of walking the 5K in Vegas while you’re running the half.”

“For real?!”

“Well yeah, I’ll be there anyway, so I may as well go for a walk while I’m waiting for you. I’m already at 2.5 km and it’s still two months away. I think I have time to work up to 5K.”

I went upstairs and was looking at the event website and schedule when he came up. We confirmed that yes, the 5K would start a while after the half and end before I was done. This would mean I wouldn’t see him finish, but he seemed okay with that. I pointed out that he’d get a shirt and a medal and he seemed surprisingly excited.

“Click on the results from last year!” Oh crap. I’d been avoiding that. I clicked overall results and he discovered that he wouldn’t be last, that the last place person in 2014 had taken over two hours… then he noticed the age category column and realized that that walker was over 70 years old. “Where’s my age category?” This is what I had wanted to avoid. 33 year old men don’t typically walk 5K’s, and yes, we saw that he’d likely be last in his age category. That was it. I sighed, knowing he’d pack it in then. I knew he would never run, but also that he couldn’t handle being last.

“Maybe I could run some of it.”

WHAT?! Once I picked myself up off the floor, I told him about Couch to 5K plans, and he found one. The next day, he started running a bit, following the plan. It’s only been a week or so, but his level of fitness was higher than week one of the plan, so he’s moved through it a bit quicker and is now running for five minutes at a time, and five kilometres total. Go-Go-Gadget Leg has been adjusted to fit better, we’ve talked about breathing techniques, and new shoes are on the list next. He’s only told a few select people (his chiropractor was just as shocked as I was), and is pretty hush-hush about this whole running thing. I asked when he planned to tell his Mom, and he said “well, she’ll see a picture of us at the finish line in Vegas together and then she’ll know!” Oh honey, you don’t have to tell other people, but you have to tell your Mom!

I’m so unbelievably proud of that guy. I’ve talked about how running is contagious, but my husband is the last person on Earth I ever expected it to rub off on. I can’t wait to meet him at the Red Rock Canyon finish line and send a picture to his Mom.

Disclaimer: Brett gave me permission to write and publish this post for the world to see. I made him tell his Mom first.

3 Things I Learned in 2014

As a Super Ambassador for Powered By Chocolate Milk, I was asked to contribute to a collaborative blog post for January. Each Super Ambassador was asked to list three things we learned in 2014. The result is an inspiring and motivating list of lessons that apply to all athletes, at any level.

Click the links to see our 2014 lessons:

Part 1

Part 2 (including mine)

#PBCM!

#PBCM!

7 Reasons Treadmills Are Just Fine

For the most part, runners are a pretty like-minded bunch. Encouraging to newbies, cheering for strangers at finish lines, standing guard for someone changing behind a tree, we’re cool like that.

Then someone mentions a treadmill. Instantly the judgement begins. “Treadmills should all be burned.” “How can you run like a hamster?” “Ugh, the DREADmill!” And then the kicker, “real runners don’t use treadmills.” Wow. Why the treadmill hate? Here are my top 7 reasons to fall in love with your treadmill all over again.

1. It is Winter

This is my biggest reason to turn to my basement friend. Where I live, on the Saskatchewan prairie, our windchills in the winter can easily surpass -25 Celcius, and we always have a stretch of -40 weather every winter. Right now, it hasn’t gotten warmer than -30 with the windchill for a week. There are plenty of heroes who still run outdoors in this weather, but there are many of us who choose not to. And that’s just fine.

2. It’s dark

Or foggy. Or pouring rain and you live on a farm with only gravel (ie: ankle-deep MUD) roads for miles around. Sometimes it just isn’t safe to run outdoors. Skip your run or flip on a treadmill?

3. Kids

I think parents are likely the biggest treadmill users. Often it’s not because we want to, but because our significant other is at work, one kid is sick, or we’re just flat out tired of pushing a stroller.

4. Specific training

Sometimes you need certain types of runs that are just difficult to get done on a road. For me, hills are my challenge. I have to run 4km to find a small hill, and then another three to get to the next one. When I need to do hill repeats, it just works better to do them on a treadmill instead. Runs done at a specific pace are another good example, especially for those of us who find pacing by feel very challenging (and yes, I know this is something I should work on! I am!).

5. TV

Admit it. You have a ton of junk TV PVR’d every week and only have time to watch a small portion of it. Feel good about watching by getting a run in at the same time. I know someone who sets junk TV rules for herself, such as “you can only watch The Bachelor if you’re running.

6. The gym

If you’re a gym member, odds are you’ve used their treadmills. Maybe you lift after a run, run for a warm-up before a class, or maybe you just want to utilize the gym’s childcare and have a worry-free run.

7. Shyness

This is a big one, and the main reason (in my opinion) to quit treadmill shaming. I know women who used running to jump-start their weight loss goals. They chose at first to run alone in the privacy of their own home because they were simply too self-conscious to run outside for the world to see. These are amazing people who are working hard to make a positive change in their lives and we need to be their cheerleaders, not make matters worse by putting down runners who use treadmills.

So guess what? Lots of runners use treadmills regularly for a variety of reasons. Stop the treadmill hate! And for goodness’ sake, quit saying people who use treadmills aren’t real runners. We’re all runners. And we’ll all cheer for you at the finish line.

What makes you dust off your treadmill and run indoors?