Sunday, 30 March 2014


Today a LONG run was on the schedule, and it was my son's 5th birthday party this afternoon.  So Sarah and I start at the crack of dawn at 7:00.  As we trotted along the river and started our climb UP, I was thinking about what I might blog about today, as I seem to be running out of great commentary.  Then, around 8:00 as we were climbing up to our first summit of the day along Branch 21, we saw...our first COUGAR ever!  I saw it first and thought it was a deer.  Then I thought, "Oh, that's some kind of wild dog!", and as I look over Sarah is pumping her first in the air and shouting "YA! It's a cougar!"  Hmm.  Not my first reaction.  It was definitely a small cougar though, with a white belly and a really long tail that looked something like this pic.  Luckily it was scared of us and ran into the forest about 200m ahead of us. Needless to say, Sarah checked her GPS and we had reached our goal for that climb and turned around to scamper out of there.  I'm glad I was with her and the kitty cat was keeping his distance!

Despite the pouring rain of the last 2 days, this morning dawned with dry skies (not dry ground) and a little sun.  We changed socks 2 hours into the run which was like a little slice of heaven.  I've never done that before and I will sure carry an extra pair now.  I also experimented with different food today.  I tried potatoes with olive oil and salt, steamed and then broiled.  Wow.  They hit the spot perfectly, although they took a little while to reach my blood stream. I also tried Oskri bars for the first time...lots of coconut that made my tummy squirrely after 4 hours, but good nonetheless.
Just after cougar siting.

Since I had a time limit due to my son's birthday party and this was the first time we added elevation to the long run, we only did 33K again rather than the 36 planned, but time of feet was a full hour longer than my previous longest run.  So recovery was super important if I was going to be functional as a mom this afternoon.  My epsom salts and compression socks came through again!

Some of the rain run off from the last few days!
Total Distance: 33.14
 Time: 4:21
 Fuel: 2 Oskri bars, 4 Mejool Dates, 1 cup potatoes (895 calories)
Notes on Fuel: worked pretty well, the coconut pineapple Oskri bar is best saved for post-run as it's heavier and hard to get down, the potatoes were a definite repeat item
Post run recovery: I actually gained 1.5 lbs this run but no symptoms of hyponatremia, and felt ok due to better fueling mid run, so the recovery routine worked well but my legs are pretty tired.
Plans for next week: Keep checking those runs off!
Gratitude: Cougars that keep their distance, and dry skies this morning!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Comox Valley Road Runners Half Marathon

Recovery is part of your training.  Racing is part of your training.

This morning was the annual CVRR Half Marathon.  I LOVE this race. Almost as much as I love the Snow to Surf.  This was the 6th year I've done it.  I had 33K on the schedule, so did 4K before (I ran from my house) and 8K after.  My coach Sarah recommended that I do the race even though I couldn't really "race" it given the extra mileage I needed to save energy for.  I followed her advice, but still slightly doubting the benefit of a road race with no elevation as training for a mountain ultra.

Well, here is what I learned.
1) Sarah knows what she's talking about.
2) Adrenalin does crazy things to the body AND to the mind.
3) My legs are not trained for 33K on the road.
4) Running a race in the middle of a training run prepares you to run on tired legs for the last bit.

Why was this race good prep for my ultra?  I really really really tried to run on feel for this race.  I didn't want to go out too fast, I didn't want to feel the pressure of all the other racers passing me.  I tried to run my own race, even if it meant not getting a PR.  The hardest part is that I COULD have blown my PR away - I felt great.  But I held back, telling myself that I had 33K to complete that day, not just 21.1.  I didn't have a watch and going totally on feel, I failed to eat enough and drink enough (lost 4 lbs).  I blame that solely on adrenalin.  I had only 2 dates the whole race.  I knew better, but I felt like a million bucks as I (yes I did) raced the last 3K to the finish line.  I had a girl panting down my back and just couldn't let her beat me!

But no sooner did I cross that finish line complete with the 100M sprint to the finish, and the adrenalin rush STOPPED. I chatted with friends for 90 sec and then started a painful trot towards the airpark to complete another 8K.  I didn't make it far before I needed to stop for 2 more dates and a fruit bar.  Pace dropped by 45 sec/km.  Hips seized up.  Once the sugar hit my system it was better, but I shuffled painfully up the hill to my house and collapsed on the living room floor totally spent.
My new ibuprofen...the Strawburst Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie by Scott Jurek (Eat & Run)

And to top it all off, I was out of epsom salts for my post-run bath!!!  Oh well, I survived and learned a valuable lesson:  No matter how well you practice, in a race situation your brain and your hormones can betray you.  In my big race I WILL watch the clock and eat/drink on time, regardless of how I feel.

Total Distance: 33K (road)
Time: 3:14
Fuel: 1 Fruit Bars, 4 Mejool Dates: 312 calories
Notes on Fuel: totally not enough calories or water (calories burned: 2259)
Post run recovery: water, water, water, and SALT!
Plans for next week: ramping up the mileage and more hills!

Monday, 17 March 2014

From Running Trails to Running School!

 This weekend, Sarah Seads (Kinesiologist, Personal Trainer, Run Coach and my dear friend) and I ventured across the water to Vancouver to take a course.  New Trends in the Prevention of Running Injuries, offered by The Running Clinic, was one of the best courses I have been to in a long while.  We came away with our heads FULL of new information based on ultra-current research.  We were encouraged that many of the things we are teaching our patients and clients are bang on correct.  However, we were also forced to change many beliefs that have been core to our rehab programs.

Sarah has summarized the most important points on her blog here, so I won't bother repeating it all.  You can go there to check it out!
It's crazy how much shoes have changed over the years.

My Personal Top 5 Take Away Points:

1) I will be getting back into my minimal shoes again and for good.
2) I will throw away my kids "big bulky shoes" and get them connected to the ground again.
3) Minimal shoes aren't going away.  "Barefoot running" is a great tool for most people, but must be transitioned into and executed correctly.  Minimal running is NOT for everyone.
4) Stretching....big changes that I must accept.  That's for another post.
5) Even though I do it rarely, I won't be taking NSAIDS at all anymore.  Nothing good comes of it.

We were reminded that 80% of all running injuries come from training errors. My impression is that the approach to running and injuries has changed more in the past 3 years than during my whole career as a physio (14 years).  Research is being published every day that is blowing our current belief systems to bits.  As health care providers we do the best we can with the knowledge that we have, but at the end of the day we have to accept that 5 years from now we may be doing things totally differently!

Guess who's leg is mine?

Friday, 14 March 2014


This week I desperately tried to get some climbing training in...without going into the mountains.  That meant a lot of stair repeats at Goose Spit.  I am a little maniacal about my GPS and my stats...and according to my records I managed to get approx 6000' of elevation in this week in total.  That is how much I can expect during my race, spread out over the whole week.  I'm going to have to ramp it up and pray that the snow melts soon.

I must say I'm tired and ready for a down week.  Sarah and I are headed to Vancouver this weekend for a course on running injuries.  Perfect timing as my body needs a rest this weekend.

Here are a few pics from this week!

Goose Spit Stairs - the view makes it all worth it!

Part of the ELM 10K group that I joined on Thurs night after a short chat about running injuries - this is also my summer Thurs night trail running gang...makes me long for summer.

Deb - always pushing the limits and dragging my butt up the hills!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Week 10: Lessons in Recovery

This morning the time changed...and the weather changed!  It was a grunt to get up early, but oh the reward.  Spring like temperatures and clear skies greeted Sarah and I as we ran from our houses to Seal Bay Park (yet again), twice around the park and home.  Hopefully this will be the last time the snow keeps us out of the mountains.

As my runs are getting longer, I am really trying to figure out what works well for me for recovery.  I am by now means an expert, and have been trying different things to shorten my down time.  The last 2 weeks I think I've done quite well.  Here are a few things I've learned about what works and doesn't work for MY body at THIS point in time.
  1. Eat within 30 min of finishing my workout.  This is really hard, as eating is the LAST thing I want to do, but if I can at least get something into me quickly it pays off.  Usually a shake or energy bar.
  2. Warm bath for 20 min with loads of epsom salts. I know ice is recommended, but this winter my core temp needed a hot bath!
  3. Stretching within 1 hour.
  4. Foam rolling, usually in the evening when I have the time to invest into it.  I have really loved using the foam roller the last few weeks.  I get really tight gluts and hamstrings, and the foam roller isn't always comfortable to use, but totally works.  Ascent Physiotherapy (my office) stocks them.
  5. Compression socks.  I recently got my first pair of these and I LOVE THEM!  I have bad veins in my legs (I've actually had vein surgery) and today these babies made my legs feel like they had springs on them all day long rather than sluggish dead weights.
  6. Hydration plus plus.  I drink LOTS of water all day after a long run.  Today I tried coconut water for the first time cause I've heard so much about it.  If you crave sweet things after a run, then it may be for you, but I found it sickeningly sweet.  I would rather get my electrolytes from a banana (per Sarah's suggestion) which is cheaper with less packaging than from a can of overpriced water.  I also usually crave salt, so sweet isn't high on my priority list.
  7. Easily digestable lunch.  I have been really liking having fish or chicken and rice or potatoes (seasoned with plenty of salt) plus veggies for lunch following a long run.  I am not a vegetarian, but am not opposed to those options also, however beans and legumes take longer to make and I usually do them for suppers.
  8. Finally - it seems that now that I'm running 5 instead of 4 days per week with higher mileage, I'm recovering better.  Seems weird but it's true.  My legs are just getting used to it.

Total Distance: 30K
Time: 3:23
Fuel: 2 Fruit Bars, 4 Mejool Dates: 480 calories
Notes on Fuel: more calories this week = better energy
Post run recovery: Compression socks rock.
Plans for next week: Joining the ELM 10K clinic to give the injury talk, followed by more hills!
Gratitude: Spring is in the air!!!!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Fitting It All In - Part 2 (An Ode to My Husband)

"Fitting it all in" entails not only training.  It includes getting kids to and from school, getting to work, making meals, shopping, cleaning the house, getting kids to their activities, church duties, scheduling sitters when needed, girls nights, guys nights, oh - and sleep!.  There were many many months when my husband was away for long periods of time when the kids were really small, and there was no way I could even think about running an ultra.  But now that he has a regular work schedule, I have the luxury to pursue this goal of mine. I fully realize the commitment that he has made to help me reach my goal.

Top 5 Things My Husband Does to Support My Running

1) Picks up the kids from school and makes some meals. He is a SUPER dad!
2) Eats anything I put in front of him with no complaints.  He has embraced my "healthier lifestyle" wholeheartedly including quinoa, hemp seeds, chia seeds and coconut milk!
3) Plans holidays around my runs.  He did get a trip to Hawaii out of one run though :)
4) Gives up every Sunday morning so I can do my long runs.
5) Tells me he is proud of me and rarely complains about my time away from the house.

My DH once spent the day before Thanksgiving up early with the kids to watch me run a half marathon in Victoria, then the rest of the day in the ER while I recovered from food poisoning from post race food that sent me into shock and severe dehydration, followed by a 3 hour drive home with 2 very tired little boys.  I am filled with gratitude that I have such an amazing supportive partner.

Before I decided to do this race, we made an agreement.  If during my training it becomes apparent that it's not working for me, my family or for him, then I will stop.  I gave him veto power.  None of this would be possible without him and I want to say THANK-YOU!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Fitting It All In - Part 1

My kids and I at the Victoria 1/2 Marathon 2012
Today was one of those days when the daily puzzle needed to fit perfectly. My alarm went at 5:00 am and I was running up the road by 5:14.  Being a working mom and wife, and training for an ultra is not easy.  But it has been possible thus far.  Here are a few ways that I manage to fit it all in.  If you are a running mom, let me know if you have any other suggestions!

1) I always have a plan.  I ran 65 km this week (my most ever) and you can be sure that it didn't happen by accident.  Of course I have my spreadsheet on the fridge.  That's only the beginning.  If I know I'm running tomorrow after work I pack my bag the night before.  If I know I'm running in the morning I hydrate well the night before, get my pack ready and go to bed early.  I am mentally thinking about the next run at least 12 hours before so that when it's time to run, I'm ready!  I also plan meals for the week in advance whenever possible.  The crockpot is my savior, I double recipes we like when cooking so I have extra meals with less work, and my freezer is full of soup at all times.

2) Communication.  I coordinate all my runs with my husband and confirm that our family schedule will work that week. My kids know that as long as they remember Mom has gone running on Sunday mornings.  "My family knows my goal. I can't say they always agree but they know it and it has become the norm now."  My running depends so much on my husband's support that there is more on this topic in Part 2 of this post.

3) Flexibility.  I develop workouts wherever I have time to run.  I prefer to run on trails, but sometimes getting to them wastes valuable minutes in my day.  The moment I am done work, I literally change into my running clothes and blast out the door.  I work in a variety of locations and utilize the geography of each area for variety in my runs.  Sometimes it's hill repeats, sometimes it's stair climbs, sometimes it's tempo runs on the long as I can get there quickly from work and pick up my kids after with a minimum of down time. Not a minute is wasted.

4) Be willing to get up early.  I prefer running after work, but Friday mornings I get up at 5:00 to get my run in before 7:00 when my husband leaves for work.  My Sunday long runs are also starting earlier and earlier because I have an agreement with by darling husband (DH) that I will be done by noon every Sunday and I will get up as early as needed to get that done.

5) Recognize that my running is a team effort.  It's not all about me.  In order for me to be able to run the volume that I am, my whole family needs to be on board.  The moment my husband or my kids start complaining about my running, I need to re-evaluate.  More on this in Part 2 of this post.

6) No excuses allowed. Barring illness or injury, runs are non-negotiable.  Our schedule is so tightly set that I really have no wiggle room.  When my schedule says run at 4:30 pm, I need to run that day because a make-up run simply cannot happen at any other time.  If it's raining, snowing, blowing, hot, humid, blah, blah, doesn't matter.  I simply cannot start giving myself excuses not to run or else it's all over.  That said, if I'm sick or injured, or my kids are sick...common sense and motherly instinct must prevail.  My family comes first.

7) No guilt allowed.  Running gives me so much more than it takes away that I simply cannot feel guilty for running.  It is my gift to myself, the way I fill my cup per se.  I come home from a run with my head clear of work stress, relaxed and ready to take on my motherly and wifely duties at home for the rest of the day.  The only time I feel a little guilty is when I don't plan supper well before my evening runs and feed my family late or with low quality food.  Reference #1.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Week 9 Breakdown

Trail running Today I passed the half way mark for distance on my long run. I highly suggest that if you want to run long and consistently, finding a good friend to run with is essential.  There are times I don't want to run alone and today was one of them. I ran today with my buddy Sarah Seads.  We planned a long climb up Forbidden Plateau, but bailed when I got stuck in the snow in the parking lot and it was snowing hard without a chance of letting up.  So we ended up on flatter trails near the ocean and "enjoyed" 3 hours of slipping along on slushy trails.  What is with our weather this year? I must admit this was not my favorite run ever, but having your trainer and dear friend along to chat with was a total blessing. I'm too tired for much diatribe, so here's the run down for the record books:

Total Distance: 27K
Time: 3:06 (I blame to snow for slowing us down)
Fuel: 1 Rice Ball (Scott Jurek), 1/4 c golden raisins, 1 Apple Mango Kale Happy Squeeze Twist (Costco); 290 calories
Notes on Fuel: Rice Ball kicked in about 20 min after ingestion; not enough salt today; raisins gave me immediate stomach cramps; didn't drink enough cause I was talking too much
Post run recovery: I drained the ENTIRE hot water tank into my bath, poured in the epsom salts, and spent 20 min there trying to warm up.  Note to self: dress warmer even though you're sweating.
Plans for next week: Seeing as the snow is hindering my hill climbing efforts in the mountains, on Sarah's advice I'm going to do 2 hill workouts during the week to make up for lack of elevation training on my long run until the snow melts.
Gratitude: buddy to run with; husband who cooks you mahi mahi and mashed potatoes for a post run lunch