“Just Finishing” No Longer an Option

The goal of my last half marathon and triathlon were just to finish. A worthy goal after pregnancy, but as my youngest son reaches his first birthday i no longer want to finish-i want to “perform”

I signed up for a last minute 10km run in a small community not far from home this past Sunday and it was so much fun. It was a first ever for this community to celebrate their centennial and it only had just over 200 runners. I knew i hadn’t prepared for this race and was tired, but i really though i could keep up with a front running pack-i even left my music home so i could listen to and push my body to its’ limits. I knew within the first 2km that i would, again, be near the back of the pack. My whole body just felt sluggish and my tummy did not feel well at all. I didn’t let this deter me from having fun during this run, in fact, it gave me a chance to think about where i want running to take me. Oh, and also to plan how to “accidentally” trip a girl running near me who’s Garmin kept playing some funky alarm every 30 seconds-so annoying!

Ahem, anyway…i realized that i need to fuel my body properly in order for it to perform it’s best. When i ran before the baby i was getting full nights of sleep, perhaps this let me off the hook from my less than stellar diet. Not this time. My lack of sleep and poor nutrition have let me feeling sick and headachy after any run longer than 10km-for me this is unacceptable. I want to run in the morning and feel energized when i get home, not need to crawl into bed with all the lights out.

My goal for summer is to make my body run faster. I know i can do this if i treat her right 🙂 I’ve begun to track my calories, not so i can lose weight and obsess over each calorie, but to make sure i am taking in enough (good) calories in order to let my body perform well and recover properly. I want to take my running to the next step where i can run farther and faster, but also feel great while i’m doing it and not just get through it.

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Cornwall Classic 5K

The Cornwall Classic run was yesterday, a great fundraiser for KidSport PEI, giving participants the option of a 5 or 10K run. I chose the 5K. My goal was to simply finish without having to stop and walk, and I’m so pumped to say I did it!

Roughly one year ago, I ran my first ever 5K race…my first ever 5K run…and I ran outside for the very first time ever…all on the same day. That race I finished at pretty much 30 minutes even and I didn’t stop to walk either. I did, however, wear my knee brace, and the course itself was relatively flat.

Fast-forward one year. I ran sans knee brace and chose a race that pretty much consisted of hills and had the last 1K of the race totally uphill. I finished on-the-clock at 30:34, but I did stop to check on a friend’s daughter when she fell and I slowed down at the end to allow my 3-year-old to finish the race with me, so I’m guess-timating my finish time to be around 29 minutes. Whatever, the real time, I’m super duper proud to have finished.

The first 2.5K was pretty easy. I had my husband and a good friend running with me and we spent a good part of that time chatting and catching up. I got to see some of the newer homes being built that I’ve never seen before, and the buzz of the crowd was pretty awesome.

This is us starting off (I’m in the middle with a pink/purple sweater on):

At the half-way point, I threw off my sweater (oh I forgot to mention, it was bloody cold out to start!) and got down to business. This is the mark where I usually let myself walk for 2-3 minutes. Not this time. And it went pretty well, too, until that last 1-1.5K where the hills just started to get to me. I did slow down, but I didn’t walk, and my co-runners were pretty awesome to keep me motivated (thanks Allan and Julie!).

Of course, there’s nothing like that feeling when you round a corner and see the crowd cheering you on. Oh wait, yes, there is something that beats that: seeing a very excited 3-year-old wondering if she could finish the race with me. I had told Kait to watch out for me and if there weren’t a lot of people around, she could run toward me and we’d finish together. The look of her face when I slowed down and told her to come on was amazing.

This is really what it’s all about:

I’m already thinking I’ll do that exact same race I ran last year again, which is in 2 weeks. Oh, and since I get to buy myself a snazzy new running skirt b/c I met my goal yesterday, I’ll have to think of a new goal for the next race.

Photo Credit: j.norman-bain

Posted in 5-10 km, Running with your kids | 2 Comments

Triathlon Recap

What an amazing experience my first triathlon was! It totally made up for the crapfest of the half marathon last weekend. I mean, i was pleased i finished the half and did run great for some of it, but it never felt like my race. I never felt in control of what was going on. The Vulcan Tinman Triathlon WAS MY RACE.

My day started very early at 5am because i had to be in Vulcan, AB by 7:30am and it takes 90 minutes to drive down there. This long drive allowed me to eat and have some time for good digestion. My stomach was feeling a bit off, but i knew i had enough medication with me and would take it when my time to start got closer. I listened to music and sang the whole way out at the top of my lungs-i even got a great parking spot once i got there. So right away i felt in control, calm and happy. There were minimal volunteers working, but it was better that way because everyone knew what was going on and the whole event worked like a well-oiled machine. I got my bike set up and my bag organized and off to the pool i went!

I was able to get into a lane early and off i went! I had a volunteer there who counted my laps for me so i was just able to concentrate on my swimming. Not only did she count, but cheered me on and talked to me when i took a second to catch my breath every few laps. I even had the lane to myself for awhile which was nice. 20 laps later i was running to transition-let me correct-i walked fast. I started running, but realized running in my bathing suit was not flattering 😉 My transition went smoothly and i jumped on my bike for a 16km ride. I made the mistake of not wearing my sweater. Now i’m not sure what the temperature was, but it was COLD. I could see my breath, but i was warm from the swim so i biked with just a short sleeve tech shirt.

My bike was uneventful. I managed to pass a few people-i think i went fast because i was so cold. My skin was red and covered with goosebumps, but i didn’t care because i was having so much darn fun! I will add here that many of racers were having just as much fun as i was-we were smiling at each other and yelling encouragement-what a wonderful vibe. I was looking forward to the run since i consider that my strongest part of the race. However, as soon i got off that bike i knew why triathlons were a challenge. My body was so stiff and my legs were tired from the bike. Everything hurt from the cold and i literally hobbled to get my bike to the rack and got ready for the run.

The run was not as smooth as i hoped it would be. My body never quite loosened up and i consider myself a better distance runner, but i was happy that my body continued to perform even though it was tired and cold. I can’t help but laugh now, but the run went past a cemetery and i really thought i would be nice to lay down and die there 🙂 I wasn’t in that much pain-just fatigued and ready to be done! I had decided to walk for a bit and an older woman caught up with me and encouraged me to start running again at the 4km mark. We took off and even managed to sprint the last 100 or so feet. I crossed the finish line and immediately went down on one knee was about to cry when i heard “You did it Mommy!”. My husband and two sons surprised me at the finish line and i was SO happy to see them. It was the first time i have ever had someone waiting for me and it felt amazing.

I was very happy with my times (which include transition from one event to another):

500 meter swim-16:23
16km bike-49:02
5km run-32:21

Total time-1:37:44

I felt as i just finished my half marathon last weekend-no feeling of ownership or success when i was done. In Vulcan i felt as if i was competing the entire time and pushed myself every second. My body felt great and up for the challenge-as did my mind. And that is what a great race should feel like!

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Race Recap

It’s finished! I didn’t get the time i was hoping for and my body hurt a lot after the race was done, but i crossed the finish line smiling and new i had accomplished something i will be proud of forever.

Even though it was my second time running this distance in a race, i felt more stress and pressure while training for the Centaur Subaru Half Marathon. Training while having two children to juggle with no babysitter, lack of sleep and tummy troubles definitely left me worrying about my ability to get myself to travel those 21.1 km.

Race day began very early and cold! A 7am start time meant a 5:30am wakeup to get myself ready and take public transit down the race-finding parking in that part of Calgary is tough-especially when there are 15,000 other people vying for the same spots. When i got there the lineup for the bathrooms was crazy so i figured i would wait until the race started and stop at some along the course thinking it would only take a minute or two-this was a big mistake. The race started out fine-loud music, pushing and shoving by some people. My biggest problem are those folks who plan to walk the race, but line up at the front of the pack in a three or four people wide, forcing everyone to dart around them or risk tripping on them.

I had a terrible start to the race and almost quit and went home within the first 4 km. I just couldn’t find my groove-i was upset about a personal issue, plus i had a very full bladder that was distracting me (sorry for the tmi, but there is more to come). The first bathrooms were not until the 3 km mark and the line was 15 people long. I guess i wasn’t the only one with the grand idea not to go before the race started. I asked a volunteer where the next ones were and found out it would be another 3 km and i knew i couldn’t wait that long. So in the line i waited for 15 minutes watching the race pass me by. I hit a low when i saw a woman with two canes walk by-i knew it would be hard to get with the race feeling back if i was with all the walkers.

So my turn came and off i went-feeling dejected and knowing the race time i wanted was already gone and i hadn’t even reached the 5 km mark. But, i went on and managed to get into a bit of a groove. And i’m really glad a did because i met up with a friend and ran with her for about 3 km. I did want to run a bit faster so we said our goodbyes at around the 11 km mark (with her blessing) and off i went feeling much better. Then i my feet started to hurt and i knew i had a big blister forming on each foot under the arch. I knew my socks weren’t the best choice for the race, but my favorite race socks went missing and i still haven’t found them. So here i was feeling better and wanting to run hard, but the blisters were very painful. I took a deep breath and went on-fast-i really rocked it for several km. I was just about 4.5 km short of the finish and was catching up to finish time of 2.5 hours-i had really wanted 2:15, but knew i couldn’t do it. I was almost there-then my stomach medicine conked out and it make running very difficult. I don’t want to get into gross details, but i saw all my hard work slipping away again because i was feeling so rotten and was hunting for bathrooms again. I found some, but it didn’t help-my race was over. I forced myself to keep going in spite of the extremely painful blisters and a stomach that felt like it was going to fall out at any second.

I heard it, then i saw it…the finish line…i was almost there! My knees were hurting by this point because they were compensating for me running differently because of my monster blisters but i pushed and smiled and completed my race in an abysmal time of 2:45. i was upset because my family didn’t come to see me finish and i admit i shed a few tears because of it as i limped home.

I’m feeling better now about the race and did manage to have some fun. I’m trying not to focus on everything that went wrong and reminding myself that i worked long and hard to get myself ready for this race and should be proud that i continued, and finished, even when the thought of quitting was much more appealing.

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Running Naked

Today I went for a run and I was naked.

A little perspective: clearly, I had clothes on (sorry to disappoint folks). What did I run without then? My knee brace.

Now, I’ve been running with my knee brace since . . . well, since I first decided to try running. I’ve been using it when exercising since my late teens. Dependent much? Maybe. I will say, the brace has been helpful for certain parts of my life and has allowed me to do some forms of exercise I might have done otherwise.

This year I have been pushing myself harder … in all aspects of my self. Physically, I have accomplished things I would not think I could in a previous life. So, no doubt I’ve been getting stronger. I’ve been noticing on recent runs that my good knee has been hurting. And not just routine stiffness, but those lightning bolts that make you stop running.

So today I thought I would try a little experiment and leave the brace off my quote unquote bad knee and see if that would help spread the love of the knees.

Did it work?

Well…today I ran 5k, or just about anyway (i don’t track…I work on estimates), my first of the year! I did allow for a 3 min walk at the 2.5k mark, but I’m cool with that (especially as that just so happens to fall at the start of a steep incline).

I did feel naked though. Here’s my deep dark secret: the brace has been my crutch. As long as I have worn the brace, I have been allowed to be sub-par. It’s okay b/c she has a brace on so she must be hurt and good for her for trying. If I run slow, if I stop to walk…it’s not embarrassing b/c the brace allowed me those moments of vulnerability.

I’m not content with this mentality anymore. Whatever I do, I am doing. I’m not a woman who exercises with a brace. I’m not going to hide behind it anymore. Sure, I may have some physical limitations, but what I can do, I’m going to do well damnit.

Besides, running naked felt awesome!

Posted in Short Runs | 1 Comment

Keeping Things in Perspective

Today was my last long run before my race next week and it didn’t go as planned. I knew my legs were tired from a 5 mile run on Thursday morning and 90 minutes of intense fencing later that evening, but i was hoping they could hold out for one last 8 miler. I had a feeling yesterday that my body needed some rest-i got on the scale and discovered i had lost over 2 lbs in just a few days and that was not good. I’m not quite at my pre-pregnancy weight yet, but i haven’t been dieting either so i betting my bottom dollar it’s from dehydration and a touch of exhaustion.

I got to my new favorite running spot at the Glenmore Resevoir and walked for a bit to warm up. Head feeling good, stomach is great (I’ve had some tummy issues recently)-so off i go! I’m always slow to warm up-sometimes it takes me up to 4 miles to get into a groove. Right away i knew this wasn’t going to be my day. I always feel a twinge in my right heel at the start of a run so i usually run for about a mile, then stretch out a bit-no problem. Shortly after that i could feel extreme fatigue in my legs. They had that tired tingle and i could feel every muscle i used fencing Thursday night starting to shout at me. I chugged along walking and running for about 3 miles before i decided this run was going to hurt me more than it was going to train me.

I could have been upset, very upset. But as i walked back to my truck i started thinking about the process of how i came to be at this point and i think i should cut myself some slack. When i began training for my last half, i was already in great shape. This time i was still carrying almost 20 lbs of left over baby weight when i started and my cardiovascular system was in poor shape from no intense exercise during my pregnancy and post-partum months. Last time i had an older son who was self-sufficient. This time i have an infant who decided that sleeping through the night is lame and naps aren’t really his bottle of milk. I’ve completed all my training runs, including the longest run of 10 miles, and i only had to cut 2 of them short. So i know i will finish this race-i probably won’t beat my time from my last race, but what does that matter in the grand scheme of things?? Not much my friends, not much.

Posted in Diet, Long Runs | 1 Comment

A Race Upon Me

In a week i will be running my second half marathon. The distance is same, but this race will be very different and i’m more nervous than i want to admit.

My first half was in October in 2009 and i spent the summer training and was very excited to run it because this was a new experience. Finding the time and motivation to train was very easy and i assumed this race would be the same. Boy, was i wrong. First of all, i am the mother of a new baby. I haven’t had a baby in 5 years and had completely forgotten how time and energy consuming they are. I love my little 10 month old, but he is not a good sleeper, in fact, he is a bad sleeper. Greg doesn’t really nap during the day, nor is he even close to sleeping through the night. I feel tired most of the time and i can feel the effects from it in some of my runs.

Nutrition is also something i paid more attention to for my last big race. There have been a few of my longer training runs i have had to cut short due to lack of energy and general stomach problems this time around. I want to eat healthy, i do, but we all know that when a person is exhausted and grouchy they don’t make the best decisions. I have slipped in the Mcdonald’s drive-thru or have just skipped meals a lot more than i care to disclose.

I have more challenges this time, but i have managed to get my training in and consider myself ready enough for this race. I would have liked to have worked on my speed more, would like to have dedicated more effort on the nutritional side of things, but it is what it is. As i write this, i have decided that it is never too late to make positive changes. I will dedicate this coming week to making better eating choices and try to stockpile some energy so i can give my body the best chance of performing well. The long-weekend beer will just have to wait 🙂

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Runner vs. Fox

Today, for the first time since I was a little kid, it wasn’t raining. Okay, really, it’s been over 2 weeks since the sun has graced us with its presence, but that is a really long time for someone who is convinced she is partly solar-powered.

Like many of us sun-deprived zombies, I went outside the first chance I could. Today’s run was awesome! It wasn’t cold, so I was out in a tshirt instead of a long-sleeved shirt, and I actually worked up a sweat.

I was bound and determined to do the full 5K, and I think I could have made it, too, but at around my 2.25 (ish) mark, a fox crossed the road, about 100m in front of me. I slowed down and watched to see what the fox would do. It stopped. And sat. And faced me. And stared. And frankly creeped me out.

So I crossed the road, thinking it would just saunter off into the woods. Nope. He turned and faced me. And kept staring. What up fox? Geez.

I am not an animal expert. I do not know foxes. I had no idea what foxes do if people run by them, or even walk by them, or even look at them, really. So I admitted defeat, tipped my head to the fox, and turned around. I walked for a bit as fox kept watching me. Then I started to run again, turning my head at the odd interval to make sure I wasn’t being followed. I wasn’t. The fox went back into the woods.

About another km or so up the road, as I was passing by the cows’ fields (where I have yet to see a cow this year!), I encountered another fox. Apparently 3:30PM is Fox Happy Hour on the Ferry Road or something. Anyway, this one really wasn’t near me and didn’t turn to face me or anything, so I kept running, just keeping a close eye on it.

So, I think I clocked around 4.5k. Knowing I probably could have made it that extra 0.5k makes me almost as happy as if I had done it.

Do many of you encounter wildlife (specifically foxes) when you’re out running? What’s the best thing to do? Was I being smart or a wuss?

Posted in Challenges, Short Runs | 2 Comments

Ramblings of a fatigued runner

(Hey guys: y’all have been really quiet and let me ramble on here by myself for a bit, but I would love to hear from you again! poke, poke; nudge, nudge)

Just completed a nice easy 3-3.5K (ish) run. And I didn’t have to stop to walk (although I did experience my first run/limp combo as a result of this, which amused me).

Today was great. Weather: umm…at least it’s not raining? Actually, it’s kind of perfect running weather (maybe a few degrees cooler than what I would like though) and the wind was gentle enough to guide me along, but not fierce enough to control me.

Only a few steps in and it happened. I smelled it. Fresh.Cut.Grass. Holy amazing smell. I had forgotten about that smell. (Spring/Summer has yet to hit the East Coast for all my non-Atlantic Canada readers.) That smell just completely took over me. Perhaps my other senses had been numbed by the cold, but that smell was so powerful, it became me (yeah, I know that sounds corny, but it’s the best way I can explain it). I carried that smell with me for a good 2K.

I also smelled evergreens and I saw the fields and landscape, and even the “bonk” of a bug running into my forehead (or perhaps, my forehead ran into the bug?) made me laugh. I really do live in an amazing place. The cows still aren’t out though (I keep looking for them!), but I know they will be soon.

So while I was running and smelling amazing things (hey, I also live near farms: sometimes I smell not-so-amazing things), my mind wandered. Oh thank heavens, I haven’t lost this ability! Now, it didn’t wander too long…perhaps 1K or so…but it wandered. I’m mega proud of this.

What was I thinking of while I wasn’t focusing on the fatigue of my legs? Twitter. Yup, you read that right. It was my very close friend (and business partner) who gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get out for today’s run. We had been on Skype chatting making very important business decisions and I was trying to cop out of my run. Clearly, my partner is good at whipping my bum motivating me when needed.

Anyway, since I was running and letting my mind wander, this conversation spilled into the whole big how we are all connected thing and how twitter really is making my world smaller. I could seriously write an entire post (or 10) about this topic alone, but let me just say that twitter is responsible for making the past year the most amazing year.

I work damn hard and it’s nice to have supportive people in my life. For me, it makes my life easier if my massage therapist already knows that I had a weak muscle when running this week, or if my personal trainer knows I didn’t sleep well so I might be more confused than usual during class. I love getting help with decisions and I love feedback on things I am pondering.

What does this have to do with running (you’re probably beginning to think the insides of my mind are quite a scary place…you’d be right)? Well, again, as corny as it sounds, while I was out there on a pretty deserted road, being the only person around (aside from the odd one in a car that zipped by), I did not feel alone. I had already told one person I was going for a run, so I knew she would hold me accountable. Two more of you are expecting me to run with you on Sunday and probably would appreciate it if I could physically keep up . . . and I know that shortly after I post this, I’ll hear words of encouragement from many more of you.

The connections are good my friends. As much as I felt connected to my place…the fields, the trees, the smell of grass, and even that poor bug who I collided with…I felt connected to all of you. Did you know that you all ran 3.ishK this afternoon too? Good on ya!

Posted in Social Run, zen running | 1 Comment

Laughing in the Rain

Today I ran in the rain.

No, it wasn’t heaving, throwing-it-in-your-face rain; more like a light drizzle. Enough so that if you were out for longer than 5 minutes, you would be damp; 10 minutes, and you’d be pretty soaked.

I was outside walking/running for 40-45 minutes.

I sit here eagerly awaiting my warm shower that will bring my skin back to its normal colour, but I had to update this blog. (Ahem.) Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…can I please announce that:

Christine Gordon Manley liked her run today!

I know. Shocker. All the odds were stacked against me: full belly from a great lunch out, a crapload of work in my to-do pile causing some right-now stress, and weather that just makes you want to stay inside, grab a cuppa, and huddle down.

But I was inspired to go running. I’ve been buying some pretty nice dresses lately and let’s just say I want to look good in them. So, I gave myself the much-needed kick and out I went.

I laughed as I stepped outside b/c it was drizzling and I wasn’t so sure how this would all go down. I’ve never run in the rain before. “Okay, Chris,” said I, “Let’s see how this is giong to work.”

I tucked my ipod into the inside of my shirt, and walked the 500 (ish)m to my starting point. Then I ran.

And I ran. And I ran. And, apparently, I ran for around 4.7K! I have yet to map it out, but I know where the 2.5K mark is and I know where the 2K mark is so it’s a pretty educated estimate. I did have to stop twice, for about 1 min each, to rest my knee which had started having a pretty loud conversation with me, but that’s okay.

The rain kept coming and I kept running and it was awesome. If you were driving or walking down the Ferry Road in Cornwall at around 330PM, you would have seen a pretty wild site. During walk/rest numero 2, the rain started hitting me at a certain angle and the wind was roaring through the trees, and it was all so surreal that I started to laugh. And not just a chuckle my friends; nope, I was out on the open road laughing my little bum off. I may have even been looking up at the sky, ala any romantic movie cliché you can think of.  It wasn’t quite Gene Kelly but it was close.

I thought the whole thing was hilarious, and just at that moment, the beat of the music seemed to sync with my laughter, so I took off again. This is probably the closest I have come to experiencing that “runner’s high” I keep hearing of (I will experience this one day; I’m quite determined!).

I came home all pink-faced, not from the run itself, but from the cold and wet; my clothes were soaked; my hair, quite the site. My husband took one look at me, asked me how my run was, and I started to laugh all over again.

Posted in Short Runs | 2 Comments