Monday, June 13, 2016

I raced! (Guelph Lake 5K)

Post-Race, post-awards.
Yesterday, I decided to test out the ol' body at the Guelph Lake 5K. It was my first race in months and, more importantly, my first race since starting iron supplements and starting to turn this lovely anemia around. I'm likely not quite fully recovered yet, since it's only been 2 months, but I feel good; I must be very close.

So, back to yesterday. I raced. I raced a 5K and it didn't go badly! It was perfect temperature, but it was windy. I'll take that over hot and humid weather! The course is a loop of rolling hills through Guelph Lake Conservation Area (campground), starting and finishing near the main beach.

I was happy to see my final result of 21:28, which is actually my second fastest 5K, and to see that I finished 3rd place female. It's nice to know that I can run like myself again.

Now to keep working hard to prepare for ENDURrun, which starts in less than 2 months (a very scary thought right now)!

Saturday, May 14, 2016


I'm excited about the progress, so I'm sharing!

On April 12th I had my blood drawn in an attempt to determine the cause for the various symptoms that had been thrown at me. This week, I went back to the lab to see what improvements, if any, my blood would now show after one month of iron supplements and dietary changes.

April 12, 2016:
May 11, 2016:
As you can see, my ferritin level has increased from less than 5 up to 40! I'm still anemic, but I now have the iron stores that my body needs to get out of its anemic state. I'm very happy to see my hemoglobin up from 99 to 113. Soon, I'll have the blood of a healthy person again!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Training, "racing", and health.

It's been an interesting few months since I last posted...

I got a coach.

After a month of attempting to figure out some sort of training plan, getting nowhere other than to the land of frustration, I decided that I needed someone else to do that for me. So... I started looking into coaches online. I was looking for someone with ultramarathon experience, since I plan to continue running at least one ultra per year most years. I found someone that looked like they could be a decent option, and asked my friend Adam, who is a coach, for his opinion... which ended up turning into him becoming my coach! It was something that neither of us really considered because of the above noted ultra criteria, but after some discussion, figured this could actually work. So, I am now training with Fastisfun Personal Running Coaching.

I attempted to race a few times.
The key word is definitely "attempted."
I had my worst races in 3 or 4 years.

My first race of the year was the Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 mile on February 21st.
It did not go well. I had difficulty trying to even stay below marathon pace.

Here's what I wrote in my log after the race...

That sucked. I'm not sure why, but I didn't want to race; there was no adrenaline, no excitement, etc. I think I kind of went into it with a negative frame of mind... thinking about how I was more fit last year, etc... essentially setting myself up for failure.
Mile splits: 7:08, 7:32, 7:41, 7:38, 8:05, 8:12, 7:53, 7:29

On the plus side, it was a fun pre- and post- race with lots of great performances by friends and teammates. Also, I had some fun with being a double agent of sorts. Fastisfun had put in a couple of teams, so we took some photos with the singlets, etc, but I was racing on a team with Health and Performance (I'm still a member), so that was the shirt that I was actually wearing during the race. Terry, from H+P took the following photo:

On April 3rd, it was time to run Around the Bay 30K, which is generally one of my favourite races of the year.

Log notes from that day...

I felt so rushed this morning.... things were not going right on my way to the race, so it took longer than it should have.. I jogged from the car to the stadium, threw my stuff inside (after it took forever to get to the section where I was supposed to be meeting some people and where I was going to leave my bag), hit the washroom, then back out for a km more and 4 strides. Then got into my packed corral.

The Race:
Cramp in my side around 12K, took a while to go away.. when it did, I felt nauseous.... and the nausea kept recurring for the rest of the 30K. I kept taking walk breaks to try and make it resolve.. I would start to feel better, get back to running again.... re-pass a bunch of people... then it would come back. This was the cycle for over half the race.

(Something I didn't mention above was my ring finger on my right hand.. it went numb before half way through the race and did not return to normal until after I finished)

Wee Cool down of sorts:
I was cold... so I went back in after slightly more than a km.

I finished ATB 15 minutes slower than last year.

And then the following Saturday was my Aha race.... ENDURrace 5K.

Log notes:
First bit of the race was good. I felt good. But... before 2K I was already feeling drained and starting to slow down. I was asked right after I finished by a runner that I'm usually pretty evenly matched with if I've had bloodwork done recently because she's noticed that I'm not running like myself. So yeah... today was the day that I now really do think there might be something wonky going on. I have my doctor's appointment on Monday, so I'll get him to give me a requisition for a whole whack of stuff and see what (if anything) is going on with my blood. I kind of hope there is something... 'cause then there would be an explanation and hopefully an easy fix so that I can get back to running well.

There was a bit more to it than what I wrote above. Around 2.5K, I had a bit of numbness in my legs. Just before 3K I tried to get back to a normal 5K pace... I got there ever so briefly. I felt like I was running hard... the effort was there... but I glanced at my watch and thought "really?" I was only going approximately half marathon pace. I kept trying to push but the pace would not improve. In fact, it got slower and I was down to marathon pace and slightly slower by 4K. After the final turn, about half way to the finish line I tried to kick. Everything from 3K on had been a test at this point, trying to see what my body would allow me to do. So.. I pushed HARD... the end result? Not even what I would normally average on a 5K. I at least got just under 7 min pace in that final short stretch, but barely.

My finish time was 23:48, which was my slowest 5K since 2012.

I saw a doctor.
Two days after my "aha moment" of ENDURrace 5K, I had an appointment with my doctor. I rambled off all of the random symptoms I had been having, some of which I had for 3+ years (see photo to the right for a post-run hand for me), but never thought a whole lot about them until they became more and more frequent,

I had Raynaud's symptoms for over three years. They started in 2012, but were infrequent. White fingers only occurred maybe once every couple of months and resolved fairly quickly with some warm/hot water. They also used only affect maybe half of each finger until this past year, when (as you can see in the photo) the full fingers started to be affected and symptoms became more and more frequent, occurring after almost every run.

Other symptoms I had recently were: cold hands and feet, headaches, needing to sleep 9+ hours per night, fatiguing more quickly when running (workouts had gotten more and more difficult... I kept feeling like stopping in the middle of workouts and runs... it was frustrating and was very difficult on the mind), and some numbness in a finger and also in my legs. The fatigue and the numbness were what brought me to the doctor. By the time I attempted the 5K, I figured it was quite likely iron related.

I was given a requisition for blood work including a CBC and ferritin and I was on my way. I promptly stopped by a lab that same morning to have my blood drawn.


I actually laughed when I saw the results the next morning (I love being able to get my results online!). I expected them to be off... I expected low ferritin, but I didn't expect the ferritin to be THAT low and I also didn't expect full blown anemia.

I called my doctor's office to book an appointment to go over the results, but they stated they would review the results and call back with recommendations. So... I waited.... and waited... I got a call back at the end of the day requesting for me to come back in. So, I booked an appointment and wandered over to Shoppers to talk to a pharmacist. I wasn't going to wait until I went back to the doctor to start supplementing. The results were clearly showing iron deficiency anemia and I was going to get started on treatment ASAP. (as a side note, I read and assess lab results daily as part of my job, so I do have knowledge in this sort of thing). I discussed my lab results with the pharmacist, who recommended ferrous fumarate 300mg tablets. He mentioned that these particular pills have a tendency to cause more side effects than some others, but that it has the highest amount of elemental iron, so due to my super low ferritin, this would be ideal. So.. starting the same day that my lab results became available, I was on iron supplements three times a day.

A couple of days later, I saw the doctor again, went over the results, answered a bunch of questions to ensure there was no other cause for anemia suspected, and was informed that I was doing exactly what would be recommended to me. Excellent!

I left with another requisition, which I will use mid-May to see how things are progressing and to make an educated decision on whether or not to run the marathon that I'm registered for at the end of May.

I'm on my way back.

As of today, I've been on iron supplements for three weeks. I'm amazed at how much better running feels already. I am definitely not 100% yet (and won't be for another couple of months, most likely), but seeing as I was likely anemic or at a bare minimum iron deficient for a really long time, feeling part way to normal is amazing! Workouts are no longer something I dread. I don't feel like I need to drag myself to complete a longer run. I am enjoying running again... and I absolutely cannot wait to have normal blood with enough hemoglobin to deliver all of the required oxygen to my muscles!

I am actually glad that things got as bad as they did because otherwise I might not have seen the doctor, I might not have had bloodwork done, and I might not be on this road to becoming a person with healthy, normal blood.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

2015 has come and gone... and so has the first month of 2016!

I guess it's time to finally post a year in review.

At the beginning of 2015, I decided on three main goals for the year: my first 50 miler, ENDURrun, and a fall marathon. Here's how they went.

50 Mile
My first 50 miler. Rock the Ridge in New Paltz, NY.
It went better than I could ever imagine.  I headed into it with an "A" goal of 7:45, thinking that would only happen if all the stars aligned... but I somehow managed to finish in 7:39:24, taking 2nd place female!

I truly enjoyed this race and was running with a smile on my face through most of the race.

Three weeks before ENDURrun, I stupidly jumped my weekly mileage up by 20 miles. I new it was a dumb idea, but mentally, I felt like I needed to have a 70+ mile week. I hated how low my mileage was in June and July and I needed a confidence boost.... a confidence boost and a sore ball of the foot. Whoops. Turns out I sprained my second toe on my left foot.

So.... needless to say, this event did not go as well as it did the year before. The foot was mostly OK, but it acted up on a few of the stages. I did manage to run a faster 15K (stage 2) and 30K (stage 3) and felt fantastic during those stages. I almost dropped out of the race during stage 5 when I was in pain for the first two laps of the 5 lap course. I told myself that if it still hurt at the end of lap 3, I was out. But... the pain went away and I actually enjoyed the last 3 loops of this course. I saw my chiropractor immediately after this stage. She gave me a mini lecture, telling me again to STOP WEARING FLIP FLOPS (not while running of course.. haha.. but post race, and just walking around, etc) but also told me to finish ENDURrun since there were only two stages left, This time I listened. Too bad I love flip flops. I miss them. I used to live in them as much as possible.
So back to the event... I ended up finishing the week in a very similar time to my 2013 result, which I was fine with. This year... this year it will be much better. :)

I wrote about each stage as they happened. These recaps can be found here: August posts.

Fall Marathon
In October, I ran the County Marathon. I won't go into details, since I wrote all about the race here.
I went into the race with a goal time of sub 3:30 and finished in a net time of 3:27:52, a PB by almost four and a half minutes. I was definitely happy with how this race went.

Some other races happened as well.. and they went mostly well.
Below is a list of all races I raced or participated in during 2015 and my results.

- Frosty Trail 6 hour (as a training run) - 52.5 km, 2nd female.

- Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 Mile - 59:55 - 5th female.

- Around the Bay 30K - 2:22:07 - 111th female.

- Marden Half Marathon - 1:39:24 - 5th female.

- Rock the Ridge 50 Mile - 7:39:27 - 2nd female.
- Seaway Run 4 Jump 5K - 21:41 - 1st female

- Niagara-on-the-Lake 50K - 4:26:45 - 5th female.

- The Limberlost Challenge 28K - 3:16:09 - 6th female.
- Dirty Dash 8K  - 42:06 - 2nd female.
- Downtown Kitchener Mile - 6:26 - 5th female.
- Health & Performance 2.2K - 9:21 - 13th female.

- ENDURrun - 15:12:56 - 8th female

- Harvest Half (ran as a marathon race pace workout) - 1:45:57 - 10th female.
- Laurier Loop 10K (ran as a progression run workout) - 49:49 - 6th female.

- The County Marathon - 3:27:52 - 5th female
- Oktoberfest 5K - 21:16 - 13th female.

- REMEMBERrun 11K - 51:18 - 3rd female.

- Santa Pur-Suit 5K - 22:08 - 6th female.

So there you have it, 2015. There have been lessons learned. Now to put those lessons to use and come out with a fantastic 2016! My first race of the year will be the Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 mile, which is coming up soon in just 2 weeks. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The County Marathon - October 4, 2015

As I mentioned in my last post, my drive to Picton took longer than usual, but I was still there in plenty of time to swing by the Crystal Palace to grab my number, shirt, etc.and to meet up with Pat, his family, and Kyle, who were already having lunch at Coach's Pub just a block or two down the road.

After consuming a wrap and some fries, it was time to head to Barley Days Brewery, which was conveniently on the way to Pat's cottage and was also one of the sponsors of the race. 
Pat and Kyle at Barley Days
After some samples and purchasing some bottles of Wind & Sail Dark Ale (4), Harvest Gold Pale Ale (2), and Snake Bite Apple Ale (1), we headed to the final destination of the day: Pat's cottage. 

Pat's Cottage, on Lake Ontario

After getting settled in at the cottage and getting race clothes, etc ready for the morning, Christian (another friend from ENDURrun) and his wife stopped by and we had a pasta dinner. During the conversations that occurred, Christian mentioned that he was just running this marathon to cross October off his list (he's running one every month in 2015), so he didn't care about his finish time... so.. I took this opportunity to suggest that he could run with me if he wanted to. He asked what I was planning to run and I said "sub 3:30"... he said OK. So... it looked like I would have some company!
Dinner time!
After dinner and dessert, there was a bit more chatting and hanging out before heading to bed at a reasonable hour. There were races to run in the morning!

Marathon Morning: 
I got up 5:45ish, poured a cup of coffee and made myself some oatmeal. After eating my breakfast, I hopped in the shower quick, got ready, packed up my car, and then we all drove in a caravan of sorts to the start. My car was staying at the start but the other three cars were being taken to the finish. Pat's daughters (Hunter and Taylor) were running the half and had to be shuttled to the start line from the finish area, so Donna (Pat's wife), Taylor, and Hunter drove their two cars and Kyle's car to the finish. 

The start was at an arena, so there was a lot of space indoors for people to wait and plenty of washrooms. No getting cold standing around before the start... that was definitely nice.
Bag check was being done right next to the start line, which was also great because you could keep extra clothes on until the last minute. I had arm warmers on, but took them off just before I handed in my bag. Pat had handed out throw away gloves that morning, so I kept those on for the start of the race.

Race Time!
I got ready to line up and noticed a 3:30 pace bunny, so I said to Christian that the bunny is not allowed to pass me, and plopped myself just a little in front of him.

Air horn blew and we were off. I started slightly quick, but not horribly quick and I settled into the pace that I wanted to be in pretty soon after.

Christian didn't start right beside me, but he caught up to me just after the first turn and we ran together for pretty much the rest of the race. 
There was an aid station every 2k, which seemed to make the time FLY by. I kept thinking wow... there's another one already? and said things like "we're already at 16K?" It was a great feeling.
A Pit Stop..
What I was dreading before the race, happened. I had to make a pit stop. I was thinking about it for a bit and then decided to stop at the 20K aid station to use the port-a-potty. I was in and out in less than a minute, but saw an unfortunate sight when I started running again.... the 3:30 bunny was ahead of me! The pace group had passed me when I was in the john.... I started trying to catch them because I was supposed to be ahead of them! But... then realized what I was doing after a few minutes and thought about it logically. I was running on pace for what I wanted to do, which meant I was running slightly faster than that pace group, which also meant I would catch and pass them eventually. There was no need to try to catch them NOW. So.. I resisted the urge to chase. It was too early in the game.  

I did pass them eventually... it took about 10K to do so.

The rest of the race
Christian stopped a few times on the course to use port-a-potties and to say hi to his wife. This was mentally good for me since it mixed things up and I sort of had a little game of sorts... "how many km until he catches back up to me?" :)

So... the first time he stopped... it was 2km. The second time.. 3k... the final time was over 4. That was around mile 23 or 24... I don't remember exactly, but I know that it was when I decided to push. He mentioned to me after the race that I was pulling away from him up a hill, which was very nice to hear.
I was extremely focused for the last bit. Not that I lacked focus early on, but I pretty much had tunnel vision for the last 4km. I had a job to do and I was going to haul my ass to that finish line as best I could. 
As I had mentioned to a few people, I had a dream two nights before before the race where I was looking at the race results and my finish time was 3:28:00. My goal for this marathon was sub 3:30, so the time in my dream made sense... and on race day, I crossed the finish line and looked at the time... 3:27:57. My net time was 3:27:52; a new PR by almost four and a half minutes!

My previous best marathon was 3:32:19 at the Buffalo Marathon last year and prior to that, was 3:51:28 at my very first marathon in 2011 (Mississauga).

Back to this year... overall it was just great. The temperature was really good... the wind was a little strong and in a less than ideal direction, but the course was nice and there were more spectators than I expected.

I'm very happy with how I ran my race. I ran smart.

I ran the first half of the race in a little under 1:45 and the second half just under 1:43. It was my very first negative split and it felt good.

Race results can be found here.
My medal - it's in the shape of Prince Edward County
After the race, I enjoyed some Barley Days beer while chatting with some other runners and then watched the awards, where I won a pair of Altra shoes as a draw prize.

After the awards were done, Pat drove me back to my car in Wellington and I headed up to my sister's house to spend the rest of Sunday hanging out and drinking wine. Thanks Alison!

This was one of the best race weekends I've had in a while, since it was truly a race weekend away and not just a race that happened during a regular weekend at home. It was great to stay with runners the night before the race, (Thanks again Pat!) and it was nice to be able to extend my weekend into Monday and not have to drive straight back home on Sunday afternoon. I'm looking forward to having more weekends like this in the future.

Friday, October 23, 2015

It's been a while...

My last post was back in August... ENDURrun time... and I had an injured foot.
Since that time, my foot got better, training resumed, and racing happened. I was going to write a post about the time from then until now, but it turns out that's 10 weeks! So... I will break up this update post into two or three posts. Today's post will cover the weeks between ENDURrun and The County Marathon.

August 17 - 23
Total distance: 15 miles
The foot needed to get better and I needed to let it. This became very clear when I attempted to run on the Monday. I started running, it started hurting, I headed home. I ran one mile that day and I didn't run again until Friday. Those rest days were very good to my foot; I ran a pain free 7+ miles with Craig and Val on the Friday morning! Saturday and Sunday, I was camping with my family at Silver Lake Provincial Park so I kept the runs short (3.1 & 3.5 miles), but also did some paddling on both Silver Lake and Black Lake.

View from my SUP: Silver Lake

View from my SUP: Black Lake

August 24 - 30
Total distance: 61.3 miles
This week, I got back into training. I did a couple of workouts with Health and Performance, had some solid longer runs at decent paces, and was back to running every day. It felt great to be able to get back into training and not have pain.
M: 7.7 miles total including 3x (5 min half marathon effort, 5 min 10K effort, 3 min recovery) and some strides
T: 5.1 miles solo
W: Track Workout - 9.2 miles total including 2x (1 mile at half marathon pace, 400m recovery), 1 mile 10K pace, 400m recovery, 1 mile 5K pac
T: 7.7 miles with Craig
F: 4.2 miles solo
S: 10 miles with H+P
S: 17.3 miles with Lumi from Runners' Choice

August 31 - September 6
Total distance: 54.3 miles
I did one track workout (Yasso 800s) on the Thursday and it went quite well. On the Saturday, I had to drag myself through my 18 mile long run on a hot day. The rest of the week was relatively uneventful: just regular runs. I took one day off this week.

September 7 - 13
Total distance: 73.1 miles
Solid week with a midweek workout alternating marathon and half marathon pace and a Saturday long run of a little over 20 miles.

September 14 - 20
Total distance: 59.2 miles
M: 7.5 miles including 20 min half marathon effort, 4 min recovery, 6x 1 min on/off.
T: 8 miles
W: 6 miles including 10x 1 min on/off
T: 3.5 miles
F: 5 miles
S: 20.4 miles including 13.1 miles at slightly over marathon pace at Harvest Half
S: 8.6 miles
Finishing the Harvest Half - photo by Kailey Haddock

September 21 -27
Total distance: 46.4 miles
Taper time. Runs were a bit shorter, but included two H+P workouts a progression run on the weekend at the Laurier Loop 10k.

September 28 - October 4
Total distance: 49.9 miles
Marathon week! Shorter runs, a wee workout of 1 mile marathon pace into 1/2 mile (ish) half marathon pace, then 5x 1 min on/off, a day off on the Friday and a super short run on Saturday morning before hopping in my car and sitting in it for way longer than expected due to a highway closure... but I still arrived in Picton in time to grab my race number and to meet up with friends for lunch. I will go into this weekend in more detail in my post about The County Marathon, which I will write in the next few days.

So there you have it... somewhat of an update. Really, just a boring list of runs... but at least there were a couple of photos! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

ENDURrun Stage 7: The Marathon

On the way to stage 7 yesterday morning, someone on the radio mentioned a heat advisory. What perfect weather for a marathon!

I already knew this was a "no pressure" marathon for me, which felt great.

I was going into the final stage in 6th place for the week, so top three was not a possibility unless something bad happened to those ahead of me, which I'm happy to report did not happen.

Earlier in the week, it looked as though I had a chance to beat my time from last year, but the slip 'n' slide that was Chicopee made that disappear. The only way I could get a personal best ENDURrun week would be to run a 3:22 marathon, a PR by 10 minutes. That would be an extremely tall order on a perfect weather day after a nice taper, let alone on a day with a heat advisory after already running 120km in the week leading up to the race. So since that was out of the question, I knew I could run a nice comfortable marathon, enjoy the day, and survive.

The start of the race was more conservative than I have ever seen it. I was happy that people looked like they were going to be smart out there. It was not the day to be reckless. Not that recklessness usually gets you anywhere... but a fast start often happens.

I was initially in a bit of a pack, which started to thin out after the first couple of kilometers. I then ran with Lumi for a while, up to maybe 5 or 6 k, and then ran the rest of the marathon with Joanne. It was great to have someone to run with. I truly enjoyed having company the whole time.

About 1km from the finish, telling the photographer (Jeff Wemp) that I was glad to see that he was still in the shade.. apparently I talk with my hands.
After we finished the seventh and final stage, I ran to my car to get the beverages for Joanne and myself that I had mentioned and promised earlier in the run, and then hung out with all of the other ultimates, guests, relay team members, family members, friends, volunteers, and the race director. What a great group of people to spend time with on a sunny Sunday morning and afternoon!

The week went by quickly, as it always does, and now it's unfortunately time to get back to regular life. I know many people are already planning for next year's ENDURrun. For me... I first need to focus on making sure my toe/foot heals properly, then get back at it and hopefully run a strong fall marathon.

Thanks to everyone in the ENDURrun community, both near and far. Although each year it is a little different and some years have more positive aspects than others, the positives ALWAYS outweigh any negatives that there might be. This week truly is a highlight of each year for me; I love summer camp for runners!