Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I want to run!

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."
Joseph Campbell

I do miss running...my foot is definitely getting better, but not run-ready yet. Seems I have an inflammed muscle that is squeezing a nerve in my foot (something like that). At least I can now go down the stairs without leaning on the handrail and I can walk with barely a perceptible limp. Still, I know I can't run yet. Everyday is better though, so maybe next week...I can't imagine it'll be much longer. Although, it feels like months, it's not even been three weeks. Funny how I lived 50 years of my life not running so obviously not missing it...then, I start running and one year later, I can't run for three weeks and it feels like forever. Just goes to show, how you never know :)

The good thing is that I've discovered biking, albeit on the cusp of winter...but, I've got that now and I'll have it to look forward to next summer. So, this week started off with a 20K bike ride yesterday, which made me smile. Also, I started my new workout. Marjorie (my trainer) came over Sunday and she put together a new program for me, that I can do in my very minimally equipped home gym. Today was the first day I completed the full workout. It's not too long, about forty minutes, so I'll be doing that twice a week. Plus, my Thursday night yoga has started again.

I can't wait to add running to my schedule again...did I mention that already :)


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Congratulations K!

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
Anatole Frances

Yesterday was my son, K's, graduation ceremony. He received his Bachelor of Science in Imagery and Numerical Media (complicated computer stuff ). We are so very proud of him!!

Woohoo! Let's celebrate...which we did :)
Love you K!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's red...and yes, I gave it a name! :)

"At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can."
Frida Kahlo

I'd like you to meet Frida :)
Its a hybrid racer...which, means hybrid frame with thinner tires. It's perfect for me.

Heading out for a nice 11K (taking it slow - I've learned my lesson).
It's great to know that I have this alternative to running and for crosstraining.
I did get the padded shorts and a matching helmet.
The cool thing about having such distinct seasons is the end of season sale...I got a great deal!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I love this feeling...

“Exercise gives you endorphins--endorphins make people happy and happy people just don't shoot their husbands... they just don't.”
Legally Blonde

That quote made me giggle. Okay then...Finally, today I enjoyed a little endorphin rush...no, I didn't run, but I borrowed my niece's bike and went for a ride. I did 11K and I LOVED it! Thanks so much for lending me your bike O. It was so much more fun than going nowhere on a spin bike at the gym. Not that I didn't enjoy my spin class last year...but this does not compare. I was out on the bike path and the sun had forced itself through the clouds and it was so good! Thanks for the motivation to try biking again ajh :)

Something I learned today. I think I know why many runners enjoy biking to crosstrain. The few times I biked as an adult, I never really enjoyed it. It was tiring and not fun. I used to blame it on the fact that my bikes were old, but my niece's bike is...well, let's just say it probably used to belong to her uncle or her dad. So that wasn't it...The difference is that today, I got out there and realized that my legs and cardio are in great shape from running...I wasn't out of breath before I even reached the end of the street. I totally enjoyed myself, I felt good and I know I was smiling as I was pedaling. 

If it was such fun with an old bike, that has a crooked front wheel (not that I'm complaining)...how freaking amazing must it be to ride a newish bike! You've got to know I'll be visiting a certain store tomorrow...

My foot is feeling much better (but not all better) and I hope to be able to start run/walking by next week...and I'm sure you can guess how I plan to compensate for the low running mileage ;)


Sunday, September 19, 2010

What happens when I can't run...and a cool conference.

"You can't fit a square peg in a round hole."

It is only a little over a year ago that I started running. During those first few weeks, I remember injuring my hamstring and I could not run for a good month. At that time, I enjoyed my time on the bike or the eliptical. I remember that I really didn't mind at all. The thing is, at that time, I was not yet addicted to running. Actually, I didn't even like running very much and it was almost a relief to not be able to do it. However, this past week it was made very clear to me that I am now officially addicted to running. So, knowing I'd be using the bike when I went to the gym caused major procrastination and in the end, a severe lack of endorphins. BUT, I did go to the gym twice and plan on going today (not so bad).

If it was just the knee, I'd still be running, because it's not serious...but, it's my left foot that remains sensitive (I still have a slight limp). Although it's definitely much better, I know it's not ready for running yet.  

Oh and the other thing I did is buy cheese sticks this week...the last time I bought cheese sticks is like a year ago...I needed a serious treat. 

Having said all that, yes I'm frustrated, but I am not at all discouraged. I know that all will heal and that one day soon I'll be back out there. I just hope it's sooner, rather than later :)

On the cool side, I went to a conference on Thursday called, "New Trends in the Prevention of Running Injuries". The talk was by Blaise Dubois, who is a Sport Physiotherapist and Consultant for Athletics Canada. It was super interesting and based on recent research findings. Here are the points that I retained:

1) Always give your body the time to adapt to any changes. Transition gradually to new shoes, even if they are exactly the same shoe.  Basically, he says that the body can adapt very well (to more mileage, or more hills, or faster tempo, or minimalist shoes, or no shoes) if we give it time and transition gradually. This was the advice he repeated most often.

2) If you want to know what the best running form for you is, try going barefoot. He suggests that what is natural to one person, may not be natural to another. He also mentions that going barefoot forces us to land lightly and to use the proprioreceptors in our feet as a guide (thus, not likely to land on our heel).

3) He is a fan of minimalist shoes, but again, he suggests a gradual transition (i.e., only running a few minutes more in the new shoes each time until our body has fully adapted). He also repeats that going barefoot once in a while is a good way to maintain form. (Living in Qu├ębec city, he doesn't do barefoot only).

4) In order to keep the foot landing underneath the body and not in front of the body, it is important to have a cadence that is around 180 steps per minute. Thus, helping us land lightly on the mid-foot and take shorter strides.

Lots of what Mr. Dubois said reminded me of Born to Run (though he's been giving these talks for a few years already  and uses only research studies to back his points - he never mentions the book Born to Run). But, he also feels that running shoe companies are only about making money.  He showed us shoes from 1960 till now and then showed us how the new minimalist shoes are all very similar to the cheap 1960 and 1970 shoes (when apparently, the percentage of injuries was lower).

There is so much more, but you can check out the link to his website. He was funny and showed cool videos...it was a super interesting conference.

I went with UberH and my Super SIL, who were seated on either side of me. Everytime he mentioned that the transition must be done gradually if we want to give our body the chance to adapt, they would nudge me and grin. Yes, I know, I have learned my lesson and will take things gradually. It's hard, because I usually go quite quickly when I learn something new...but running requires patience. Ok...I can do that, I can be patient :)

 No running yet, but I'll definitely keep you posted!
Enjoy your runs, because you can!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Decision taken!

"Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free.”
Paul Tillich

Here's the whole story. The main reason I was looking to register for a marathon in February is because I have agreed to be part of a book project profiling first time marathoners. It's a great project and I love the idea of being one of the chosen runners. However, as with any project, there is a deadline. Thus, the decision to try and run in February.

The reason I started running in the first place was to improve my lung capacity and thus, my general health and quality of life. I was trying to wean myself off prednisone and I wanted to do everything I could think of to one day be completely prednisone-free. It's working! Although, I sometimes have to take prednisone for a week or two, I am officially weaned off prednisone and my adrenal glands have started working on their own again (no small feat). As wonderful as that is, that's not all I got from running. As is often the case, there was a ripple effect and my husband (Uber H), started running with me. After 30 years of marriage it was amazing to find something that we share a passion for. It has brought us closer than we had been in a while and given us even more to look forward to together. Then my brother and sister-in-law joined us on this journey, and friends, and my SIL's brother...and the ripple continues to extend beyond my own circle.

So, the idea of running my marathon out in Florida, perhaps in the heat, by myself, or in Hyannis in the cold and again, by myself, seemed anti-climactic. My family has been there with me through this whole journey, from my first minute of running non-stop to my first full month off prednisone to my first half-marathon to my first 4 consecutive months off prednisone to now. I want them there with me to celebrate my big goal of running a full marathon. What should I do...

I slept on it and decided to go with my gut and listen to my heart. This is an important milestone in my life and I want to experience it with my family. Believe me, I did not take this decision lightly, because I knew that Melinda (the author of the book I mentioned above) could have chosen someone else, but she has chosen me. Still, no other decision felt right. If that meant that I could not be part of the book, then I would have to accept that. However, I am very happy to report that with Melinda's blessing (thanks again for understanding), I have decided to register for the...

Ottawa Race Weekend on May 29th, 2011!
Where family and friends will join us as "Les Lacets Rouge".

Where my Super SIL will be running the marathon with me :)

Being surrounded by family and friends for this big day feels so right. Add to that the fact that I can take my time, heal properly and prepare fully, increasing my chances of success. I'm ready to take it nice and easy as I help my body prepare for my Victory Lap!

Thanks again for all your support!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Plan B it is...

“We must cut our coat according to our cloth, and adapt ourselves to changing circumstances”
W. R. Inge
25K fail! - moving on to Plan B.

Here's what's happening. First of all, I went back to the gym on Thursday and did another barefoot 7K. You'd think that having transitioned to minimalist shoes, running barefoot would not be much different. But, trust me, there's a difference. My knee felt better when I ran barefoot, but I started feeling some pain on the ball of my left foot. I may have been overly cautious with the right knee and stepping down harder on the left foot. Who knows. So I stopped, but I guess 15K in two days was too much barefoot running for these virginal feet.

So, I took two days off and hoped for the best. Then, today, as I started my supposed-to-be-long run (with shoes), the ball of my left foot felt very crampy and before long, my knee started giving me grief. Yes, I shed a few tears, but now I'm ready to adapt to this situation.

The KNEE: It had been doing so well and improving at an excellent rate. I ran a nice 18.8K two weeks ago and there was no pain. It went great. Then, I went and "raced" my half-marathon last week and my knee was like, "What the? Why so few walk breaks? What's with the last 3K being the fastest you've practically ever run?" ...sigh. I got carried away and ended up finishing my half-marathon two minutes faster than the 18.8K I'd done the week before. Yes, I sort of regret it...but, I had such a great time and felt so good...sigh.

Now, I'm paying for it big time and my knee is like..."Hey, lady, you didn't listen when I yelled...now, back to the beginning you go." And my foot is like, "And don't make us pay for the knee, take it slow if you want our help."

ALRIGHT! I hear you both...so no marathon for me on October 24th...although, I do think I'll be able to do the half.

PLAN B: I'm working out the logistics, but I'm going to register for a marathon in February, 2011. Here are my three choices, if you have an opinion, please let me know. First choice is the 26.2 with Donna in Jacksonville, Florida on February 13th. Second choice is The Fort Lauderdale A1A marathon on February 27th. Third choice is the Hyannis marathon in Massachusetts on February 27th. All three have something that would make it interesting for me...what do you think?

TRAINING PLAN (for now): I'm taking a full week off of running. Only eliptical, bike, and my gym workouts. Then I will take it very slowly. I definitely plan on building gradually towards running one of my weekly runs barefoot on the treadmill (which, I will be buying next week :)). My outdoor runs will also be very gradually increased.  Hopefully, by starting over and doing what Joseph, my PT, taught me, I'll get back to where I was and then keep improving. If I don't start seeing significant improvement over the next two weeks, I already have a referral for an x-ray and an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. Will keep you posted, as usual.
Can't wait to read all your race reports!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another convert to barefoot running...

“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one”
Hans Selye

Let me begin by saying that I am certainly not trying to convert anyone else. This is about what works for me. It should come as no surprise that I am crossing over more and more to the other side. It certainly makes sense to me as I've always been attracted to what seems most natural in the grand scheme of things.

It all started when I bought new shoes and ended up hurting my knee. When I first saw Joseph, my PT, the first thing he did was have me run with no shoes on. You may remember that he was quite thrilled with my natural running form when I took my shoes off. The minute I put my shoes back on, things deteriorated. So, he suggested I get the most minimalist shoe I could find. 

 Enter my new Saucony Type A4

It took a while to transition to these new shoes and I discovered new muscles I didn't know existed in my calves, but I was loving this new way of running. My knee did improve and I was able to run my complete half-marathon in my new shoes last Sunday. However, I did start to feel some knee pain around the last 5K. I was probably quite tired by then and my form may have suffered. Then, by that evening and all day Monday, my knee was really sore when I bent it. I iced regularly and took it easy and by yesterday morning, all seemed much better again.

Two things happened this weekend that impacted today's run. First, someone mentioned on their blog that when they wear their Vibrams they sometimes go back to heel landing and that made me think that maybe I was more likely to lose form with my shoes, even though they are minimalist. Second, I am reading "Born to run" and you have no idea how often I am like "yeah!" "uhuh" "of course" nod nod nod :) ...SO. This morning I went for a run and after 2K my knee was starting to hurt...sigh. Hmmmm why not, may as well try. Off came the shoes and off I went, running barefoot on the street (well, I stuck to the white line of the bike trail cause the road was too bumpy). No knee pain...really? After only a short time, there was no more white line and so I put my shoes back on and walked home. Drove to the gym, took my shoes off and got on the treadmill. Did 5.2 miles before I felt it was best to give the ball of my foot a break. My knee sometimes felt tight, but mostly it felt fine and I have no lingering pain. Having learned proper technique with Joseph, my cadence is now quite naturally at 180 steps per minute and I couldn't believe how straight my back was and how my arms pumped without my even thinking about it. Another really cool thing that I hadn't noticed before is that I actually could breath with my mouth closed...I was not at all out of breath! I've fallen in love with this new running form and cadence and today I realized how much easier it is to control when I have no shoes on at all.

Obviously, if I don't want to be running on the treadmill all the time (considering winter is almost 10 months long here), I need to maintain my form with my Saucony's on. I figure if I do at least one of my weekly runs in my barefeet, then I hope my body will become better at remembering and maintaining this form when I have my shoes on.

Fingers crossed...Cheers!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Montreal half-marathon race report! :)

"I've never known anybody to achieve anything without overcoming adversity."
Lou Holtz

Let me start with the expo. If you ever decide to do the Montreal Marathon, do not do it for the expo. Just thought I'd let you know. There was nothing going on and only very few stands. Thank goodness it's downtown Montreal, so you can still spend money if you wish. I did get new socks and an extra pouch for my fuel belt, but not at the expo. Regardless, we had fun and a great dinner where we talked about running all evening, with my bro, P, and my super-SIL, J. Then last night we had our pasta dinner and a special sugar pie in honor of P and J, who were running their first marathon.


Before the race. The weather was perfect!

Ready to go!

The view up ahead. We're on Jacques Cartier Bridge.

Sorry, no pictures during the race...but, here's something interesting. I have a new little mp3 clip on and thought I might use it today. So I clip it on and pass the earphones under my top, put in the earphones and figure I'm ready when I need it. Around 5K I realize I haven't turned on the music yet, so I decide to give it a go. However, the first song is not over and I'm thinking, "I don't feel like listening to music now, I just want to soak in the atmosphere". Maybe later. So I turn it off again, only to reach the finish line never having turned it back on. Basically, I ran with earphones for no reason. I rarely run with music...and I guess during a race, I don't really need it. Well, maybe when I run 42.2, I'll appreciate a little extra distraction/motivation.

I'm very happy with my race. Although, I was supposed to take it easy...I ended up feeling so good most of the race that I just went with it. So, I ended up with a PB by 3 minutes, at 2h18m29...oops! The weather was perfect and, for most of the race, so was my knee. I did start to feel some pain around the last 5K, but the rest of me felt great. A little ice and a little rest and I should be good to go. The pain was definitely bearable and I guess the next few longer runs will be most telling when it comes to the final decision regarding my fall marathon. If today was any indication, I continue to feel confident :)  

Bravo J and P!!!!
You have no idea how proud I am of these guys. J is a determined and strong woman. She is a topnotch ICU nurse and an amazing mother to her three teenagers. When she decided to join me on this running journey, I don't think even she realized how far it would take her. P is one of the most devoted and loving fathers I know, he's super smart and extremely funny. He didn't do the half-marathon with us last May in large part because despite how awesome he is, self-esteem "was" not his strong point. He's always been a runner, but a fast and furious runner. He slowly started joining J on her longer runs and realizing that he could do this long distance running thing. Before we all knew it, he was registered to complete his first ever race...a marathon! Today...both J and P were totally successful in their attempt. They both finished the race with a smile on their face and their arms in the air. J completed her first marathon in 4h46m...amazing! P completed his first marathon in 4h39m...what a great athlete!

I love you both very much and I can't wait for us to register for our next race together!

The journey continues!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Three Things Thursday!

1) Instead of a quote today...let me begin with this book excerpt that a  friend once sent me :

"I'm going to share a secret with you. Running has always been a source of
my stamina. Early in my career I learned to run until I was tired, then run
even more after that. But all the running I did before the fatigue and pain
was just the introduction to my workout. The real conditioning began when
the pain set in. That was when it was time to start pushing. That was when
I would count every mile as extra strength and stamina.

What counts in the ring is what you can do after you're exhausted. The same
is true of life.

Outrun the people who quit when they feel discomfort, outrun the people who
stop because of despair, outrun the people who are delayed because of
prejudice, outrun the people who surrender to failure, and outrun the
opponent who loses sight of the goal. Because if you want to win, the will
can never retire, the race can never stop, and faith can never weaken"

Muhammad Ali

2) The knee continues to stand up to the challenges that I present it. Today, the knee and I did a 12K, which included 4 X 500m hill repeats. That's right, hill repeats...I'm hardcore like that :)
Only 3K to go...look at that ponytail fly!

Phew! It was crazy humid!
3) Tomorrow is the Expo for the Montreal Half-Marathon and I'm super excited to go. The first and only Expo I ever attended was for my Ottawa Half last May and we were very rushed and didn't end up doing anything more than picking up our bibs and shirts. So, this time, we will take our time and visit the booths and shop and enjoy the atmosphere. Things I want to try and find include a new fuel belt, because mine doesn't have a big enough storage pocket and has gotten a little loose; some injinji socks, because I often get small blisters on my toes; and anything cool on sale :)