Saturday, October 25, 2014

Half-marathon Race Report - Yup! :)

"Tough times don't last, but tough people do." Robert H. Schuller

It was a beautiful fall day, perfect for my return to "racing". I put racing in quotations because I had only one goal and that was to enjoy myself. I knew I could finish it, but I already knew from my very relaxed training that I could have no time goal. Well, okay, I felt that if I came in around 2h30m I would be more than pleased.

Training went relatively well, as I chose a pretty easy-going program. I usually ran three days a week and over the last few weeks, I had started going back to spinning once a week and I started doing my strength workout once a week. Mostly, my runs were slow and all my long runs were done with a 9/1 ratio. I did minor intervals and no tempo runs. The goal was to continue enjoying myself out there.

By race day, I felt confident that I could reach my 2h30m goal. The weather was absolutely perfect, and although there was one very long hill from the 12th to the 17th km, my plan was to walk if I had to and not worry about it.

This race is part of a series of "Gourmandes" races with themes, ours was "Demi-marathon des r├ęcoltes" which means "Harvest half-marathon". They are smallish races and so we pretty much all crossed the start line within a few seconds of the gun. I love small races. My son had actually forgotten his bib (but had his shoe chip) and they just asked his name and gave him a new one with a new chip, no ID requested or anything. He was SO relieved. Having my son, my husband, my brother, my sister-in-law (who is my sole sister) and my brother-in-law running the same race...and my sister, my daughter and her husband to cheer us in, made it extra special for me. 

The first few kms I was being passed quite a bit, but my lungs warmed up and then I settled in to a comfortable pace. The colours were so beautiful and I truly appreciated being out there. I had a smile on my face throughout, my thanks to the volunteers were deep-felt, as were my smiles to the photographers. I was so proud of how "strong" I felt, especially of the fact that I did not walk during the long climb during the second half of the race. I kept to my 9/1 ratio and ran a bit slower, but steadily up the long slow climb. Around the 18th km there was a woman ahead of me with a blue t-shirt who kept stopping to stretch her legs and walk a bit. I had already reeled in a few people ahead of me (a few :)) but I wasn't thinking of trying to catch anyone. However, after another km, I realized that I was getting quite close to her. When we got to about the 20th km, I was right behind her and she was walking. In French, I told her to not give up...and "don't let me pass you". She started running again, but not for long and I did end up passing her...and wouldn't you know it, there was the photographer.

Around 600m from the finish line, there was my husband waiting to run the final climb with me. Just as we turned the final corner, the woman in the blue t-shirt passed me back...I let her go, considering she was way ahead of me for most of the race and I really just wanted to enjoying high fiving my family (everyone had finished before me and they were gathered at the finish line :))

2h26m and some seconds

Considering I was not injured, this is my slowest half-marathon. However, I truly managed to enjoy and especially appreciate every minute of being out there! Goal achieved!

Interestingly, this week, after a particularly intense spinning workout, I had purpura on my legs again (the first time this happened was some time in December 2013, and part of the reason I took a three month break from training). So, this was an important reminder that for me, training must remain only about staying healthy. No pushing. Just consistent training and registering for races to stay motivated, but not to actually "race". Who knows what the future holds, but health is my priority...because family is where my heart is and I LOVE spending time with my grand-children :)


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Overtraining, health issues and finding my way back!!

Isn't that sometimes true for all of us...It's all part of being human :)

Life is good. My grand-daughter runs to me saying "Mamieeeee" when she sees me and jumps into my arms! She has a little brother on the way, due mid-June, and my daughter is expecting our third grand-baby due in early December. My eldest son's novel has been accepted for publication and we're very proud of him (sort of like a figurative grand-baby). Our monthly family dinners are filled with laughter and love and we are just so blessed. 

The above is something I never lose track of when things are difficult in other areas of my life. After I ran the Philadelphia marathon last November, I was totally exhausted. Physically, I had no aches and pains, but my energy was very low. A week after the marathon, I went to a spinning class at the gym, the plan was to take it very easy and just basically use the session to recuperate. However, after only a few minutes on the bike I was not feeling well, I eventually decided to leave the room. Luckily, someone followed me, because I ended up fainting before reaching a chair. My blood pressure dropped dangerously low and it was not a good feeling. Tests revealed that my heart is fine and it was concluded that I was probably just exhausted. 

After the fainting spell, I waited a few weeks and tried the spin class again (once again I took it easy). This time, the next day, I had purpura on my lower legs (inflamation of the blood vessels).
Picture taken day 2

This led to a visit with the Rheumatologist who has since confirmed a mild case of Churg-Strauss syndrome. This is quite serious and requires blood tests and visits with the Rheumatologist every three months. I didn't highlight and give a definition of Churg-Strauss, because my case is mild and as long as we continue to control my lungs, chances are that apart from skin issues once in a while, I'll mostly be okay. However, this is an auto-immune disease and like most such conditions it can lead to fatigue and other minor issues. 

What all this means is that because I ran 760km more in 2013, than I had in 2012, in addition to strength training, yoga, spinning, snow-shoe running and hiking, well, for that end of the year marathon was not my best decision. I felt so great after my half-marathon in April 2013, so strong! I then pushed too hard, especially considering my auto-immune condition and ended up exhausted. Oh and you can add menopause symptoms to the package!

After a few weeks off, I tried to get back out there, but I just could not do it. My lungs just would not cooperate and I was completely exhausted. Coming in from a 3km run around the 'hood left me feeling as tired as the last 500m of my marathon. So...I took almost three months off of any training at all, except walking or hiking. Then, I slowly tried to start running again, but it was HARD. This was quite discouraging and I was beginning to think that this was how it would be from now on.

Finally, three weeks ago, I decided  to follow a "pre-training" program...but, progress was non-existant. Finally, last Tuesday, I felt good! Then again on Thursday's run...and my Sunday "long" of 40 minutes felt really good...and then today, as I was on the treadmill, my eyes teared up and I even choked up for a few seconds, as I realized that I was feeling like myself once again. 

It has been six months since my marathon and this is the first week that I have felt like smiling while running. 

A few weeks ago, we registered as a family for a fall half-marathon...I finally believe that, yes, I will be a part of that wonderful family experience!