2014 Wrap-Up

Happy New Year!

395689174I am happy to report that the December running streak was a success, finishing up on New Year’s Eve with a shorty run with the pups on a freezing morning. My arbitrary ‘streak minimum’ of 3K just felt like enough that day – though I bumped it up to 3.1 for day 31.

A few people pressured encouraged me to keep the streak going into January and beyond, but I was ready for a rest day on January 1st and did not want to go down that road. As much as I enjoyed the challenge of running every day for a month, I believe in rest days for both body and mind, and I happen to enjoy them.

WeeksI planned to take a couple of days off after the streak, which ended up being forced into a longer rest thanks to round 2 of the head cold from hell. I took the 1st off, then joined some friends for a run on the 2nd only to pack it in early feeling like crap. I took 3 days off after that and I’m hoping for a decent run today to kick off official training for the spring season.

I’m so grateful that I was able to bounce back from the injury that had me down and out, then clawing my way back for so much of the year. It felt great to finish up the year on a positive note, logging some solid mileage and building confidence going into 2015.

yearNext up is one final race report for 2014, the Boxing Day 10 Miler, and then a look at what I have planned for this year.

Stay healthy, friends!

Streaking in December

It all started with an impromptu run with a friend on Monday, December 1st. I almost never run on Mondays, so in my mind this meant I should run every day this month. :) Jokes aside, I wanted to finish off this year with a great month of running, exactly the opposite of how it started. My return to running was slow and steady, and I’ve had many weeks of consistent mileage now, giving me confidence that I had a solid enough base to tackle this challenge.

I think, more than anything, I need to prove to myself that the injury is behind me before kicking off the new year. And, let’s be honest, a little extra motivation to move every day and offset some of the inevitable holiday indulgences won’t hurt me.

So far I’ve run through holiday parties, hangovers and head colds; I’ve run morning, noon and night; I’ve run over snowbanks, on the treadmill and around the indoor track; I’ve been running errands and parading through the streets with a bunch of santas and elves.
UntitledYesterday I had my best run yet – 21KM for day 21, my longest run of the entire year and also my fastest post-injury long run. Felt fantastic start to finish and couldn’t have asked for a better day 21.

Image-1Streaking hasn’t been as challenging as I expected. Admittedly, I enjoy taking rest days and I wondered how much I would miss that. Sure, there were times that it would have been nice not to run (on the worst day of my head cold or the morning after my office party) so I just ran my personal minimum on those days: 3K on the treadmill. There’s something oddly comforting and refreshing about knowing that I will run each day. There may not be any guarantee of how far or how fast or when or where, but I will run.

Only one other thing is certain; I will not run on January 1st. 😉 Until then, let’s see what the next 10 days will bring!

Snowflake Series 5K

Look, another race report! Can you tell I’m making up for lost time? This one is a little overdue, from Sunday, November 30th.

A friend recently told me about the Snowflake Series in Orillia offering “no frills” events November through January at a very reasonable cost ($15) and for a very good cause, too – all proceeds go to a local food bank.

Last Sunday hubs and I decided to do the first race in the series this season, a 5K. We ended up having a bit of a late night with friends on Saturday, and a few glasses of wine consumed on my part. I woke up Sunday morning with a pretty serious case of the “blahs.” I even tried to convince hubs not to go to the race at all! Needless to say, that didn’t work. I was feeling very lazy and not in the mood to race, but I tried to rally up some pep during the drive there and warm-up run.

We didn’t end up with any snowflakes that morning, but no complaints – it was a perfect mild November day with many runners in shorts and t-shirts (crops and long sleeve for me).

This event took “no frills” to a whole new level, with recycled bibs so every runner had a different one. They even had a bin of mis-matched safety pins that had also been recycled. Love it!

IMG_1741Ready or not, someone hollered “3, 2, 1, GO!” while starting the timer on her iPad (most casual race ever), and it was time to race!

The route was a lollipop on quiet, gently rolling streets along the lake. It was open to traffic, but we had a narrow lane separated by pylons and marked with several “Race in progress” signs. We were warned that we may need to yield to cars at intersections, but it wasn’t an issue at all.

UntitledBased on how I was feeling, I decided I was just going to try to hold a 5:00/km pace and hopefully squeak in under 25 minutes. That pace felt hard right out of the gates, and I was beginning to think the race was going to be a complete sh*t show. I was already thinking about how nice it would be to walk. (KM1-5:02, KM2-5:06)

There weren’t a lot of people around, but I ended up running alongside a couple of guys. One of them seemed to have people cheering for him and snapping photos around every corner, so I tried not to look too miserable. He must have been from the neighbourhood. I wondered if it was his first race, but didn’t have the energy to ask.

I finally found some pep in my step after the half way mark. (KM3-4:54) I suddenly realized the race was going to be over before I knew it, and I had some ground to make up if I wanted to finish under 25. (KM4-4:56)

With a kilometre to go, I looked ahead and tried to focus on chasing people down. I was pushing hard – puke threshold hard – but I was finally having some fun and internally shaking my head at having such a bad attitude earlier. I raced to the finish against a woman who had passed me at the beginning of the race and we crossed the line pylons side-by-side. (KM5-4:37)

61/183 overall
27/104 females
7/24 F30-39

There was a small spread of water, coffee and Timbits at the finish line. The organizers really did an awesome job and I definitely plan to participate in at least one more event of the series. Maybe next time there will be some actual snowflakes!

ImageOne more race left this year…

Whitby Waterfront 10K Race Report

On Sunday morning we drove to Whitby for the Waterfront Races as the wind blew and snow began to fall. This was a new-to-us race, although the venue was the same as the Furry Friends 5K. It was nice to take advantage of the indoor facilities before and after the race.

Hubs and our friend Marc were running the 5K (and rocked it in 18:52 and 18:54 respectively, finishing 4th and 5th overall), while I was running the 10. Both courses were out-and-back along the waterfront, heading in opposite directions on the mostly flat and winding path. After hiding out as long as possible, we eventually had to face the elements for a short warm-up. It didn’t feel too bad once we got moving, although the snow was blowing in our faces pretty badly in one direction. I was lucky that the 10K would head into the wind first, while the guys would have it for the second half of the 5K.

At 11am (gotta love a race start time that allows for sleeping in!), we were off. Based on my 10K three weeks ago at 53:31 and some recent workout results, I had settled on a 52 minute goal, or 5:12/km pace. Unlike last last 10K, I wanted to go out at pace rather than taking a couple of kilometres to slack off settle in.

We spread out almost immediately so I had plenty of space even on the narrow path. The wind was pretty strong, but the course changed direction frequently enough that it was never in my face for too long at a time. I felt like I was pushing an effort just beyond uncomfortable, which I’ve been practicing on my tempo runs and was exactly where I needed to be. The first few splits came in at 5:10, 5:08, 5:09, 5:07 and I decided to go with it. I got a boost heading toward the turn-around, clocking 5:03.

I started feeling an occasional wave of fatigue and the urge to slow down, worrying that I was going too fast and would suffer by the end, but I was able to push those doubts aside. It felt great to be on the way back and it was time to start counting down the kilometres. The next few splits were 5:04, 5:07, 4:59. Kilometre 9 was tough, being along a slippery board walk and with a heavy side wind. I remembered slowing down so much at this point in my last race and how much it pissed me off seeing that slower split, so that gave me enough oomph to push for a 5:06. Then it was time to find another gear for the last one – 4:47! I felt so strong and focused during that last kilometre, and thrilled to know I was about to crush my goal time.

(officially 50:44 since they recorded gun time only)
5:04/KM (8:09/mi)
2/35 F30-39
4/74 women
19/116 overall


A big thank you to my friend Shannon along with her hubby and pup who came out on a cold and blustery morning to cheer me on. It was great to see them at the finish line!

The Return to Running

I was just clicking through my DailyMile logs and discovered that it’s been 22 weeks since I was able to start running again, after a 20-week layoff. I was actually shocked to learn that I’ve been running again longer than I wasn’t, because sometimes I still find myself walking on egg shells so to speak – that post-injury paranoia lingering and confidence taking a long time to re-build.

Hubs and I took the pups on a little trail run on Saturday, my first time off-roading it and risking an uneven surface this year. I put a compression wrap on my “bad” knee and said something along the lines of hoping it would hold up. Hubs’ response was, “There’s nothing wrong with your knee now.” And you know what? He is right!

IMG_1557For six consecutive weeks now I’ve been running ~50K (31mi) weekly mileage with long runs up to 18K (11mi), I’ve stopped avoiding hills, I’ve been incorporating tempo workouts for several weeks and I’ve raced a 10K, all without issue. So why do I still feel so insecure, as though I’m just waiting for the “bad” knee to flare up again? The short answer is that injury can mess with the head as much as the body. I returned to running very conservatively and I’m just realizing now that it has taken all this time (22 weeks!) to start feeling fairly confident that this injury is behind me for now.

All that being said, I wanted to document some “highlights” of my return to running. I had absolutely no races in mind, nor distance targets by a certain date. I was essentially winging it week-to-week, listening to my body and asking hubs’ opinion occasionally even though I knew I was building far more conservatively than he would.

  • My very first run (June 8th) was 2.4km of 1:1 run:walk intervals
  • I gradually increased the running intervals over 7 weeks before running continuously
  • I ran 3x per week for 7 weeks, increasing to 4 in week 8 (I didn’t run 5 days until week 17)
  • I did 5K for the first time in week 5, 6K in week 8, and started adding 1-2K to my “long” run each week after that
  • I ran 15K in week 15 (not planned…) and decided that I didn’t need or want to run too much farther than that any time soon but wanted to focus on making those distances more comfortable; since then I’ve maintained a long run in the 15-18K range (and they are becoming much more comfortable!)
  • In week 16 I tackled my very first “formal” workout (4 x 1000 tempo-ish); since then I have worked up to 4×2000 and 6K continuous, and the pace keeps dropping.
  • I reached 50K mileage in week 17 and decided that would be a good place to hang out for a while to establish a base
  • I raced the 10K at the end of week 20 – unknowingly commemorating that I had officially been running again longer than I hadn’t!

So what’s next? First up, I have another 10K this weekend. I’ve been feeling much stronger so I’m anxious to see some improvement (3 weeks since my last one). I was chatting with a friend this week who is also on the comeback trail and we agreed that there is a great silver lining to coming back from long term injury/down time/laziness/whatever. We get to re-live these milestones all over again, and enjoy this period where fitness seems to be coming back so quickly. I’ve had many fantastic runs recently that would have been just another run this time last year, but now they are OMG AWESOME! and that is pretty neat to experience.

As I move forward in this re-build phase, hopefully gaining confidence and shedding doubts as I go, I have a few ideas for the remainder of this year. I plan to maintain my current weekly mileage and long runs, which I believe will give me a strong base to tackle a more formal training plan again (eeks!) in the new year. I will continue incorporating a workout every week, mostly tempos and hopefully seeing the pace improve at the same effort level. After the 10K this weekend, I have one more race planned – the (94th!!!) Boxing Day Ten Miler. I ran it in 2008 and 2010 and it’s a favourite. I wonder what my legs will be able to do by then?

Until next time!