Sunday, 27 April 2014

Another Race, ELM's Half Marathon Clinic and Random Thoughts for the Week

Today I switched gears and raced as a downhill skier in the annual Royal LePage Snow to Surf Race.  I was part of a two team Equilibrium Lifestyle Management (ELM) contingent who took home gold and bronze in the Master's Women's category and 2nd and 4th women's teams overall.  We had a SUPER fun day.  My part involved climbing up a part of the ski hill in my ski boots with poles, clipping into my skis and then tucking straight down to the bottom where I handed off to a snowshoer, who handed off to a nordic skier, runner, runner, mountain biker, kayaker, road cyclist, and then 2 canoeists.  The team required 10 women in all, making 20 ELM women on the course all cheering, sweating, smiling and having a grand old time.  It was great to relax and enjoy the day as this is my absolute favorite race day of the year.  Winning a chocolate medal and a spot on the podium at the end of the day didn't hurt.

Last Sunday was supposed to be the start of our 4 week taper.  Because we were racing in the STS today, I needed to get the 30K planned for today in on Friday.  My husband is away for a few weeks and the only way I could make that happen was to do 30K over a 24 hour period Thurs-Friday.  So that meant 10K hill repeats (again on a LONG hill in town breathing horrid exhaust fumes) Thurs night while a girlfriend watched my kids, 10K the next morning on the treadmill while my son's babysitter was the iPad, and then another 13K Friday afternoon while he was in his 2 hour gymnastics class.  That meant that over a 6 day period this week I ran 86 km, 10 hours 27 min and 4 sec, completed 1982m of elevation and burned 5886 calories.  That didn't feel like much a taper to me.

I'm tired.  With my husband away, I've had to make friends with my treadmill again, and have paid more than I'd like in babysitting fees.  My house is a mess, we haven't been eating that well, and I haven't been getting enough sleep.  But I am getting my work done, took the kids to church and camping for 1 night, the laundry is done, and I'm committed to cooking more and restocking the freezer this week.  Something has to give when you are running 10 hours per week as a single working parent.  I've chosen to clean up the day before my DH gets home, and to buy takeout occasionally for supper.  So be it.
Liza Howard and baby

On that note, there a two GREAT URP podcasts that I want to mention right now.  Two moms that have inspired me.  This interview with pathologist Pam Smith was one of the first URP podcasts I listened to.  She is a physician mom who talks about making it work in the real world of motherhood.  I like her style, her attitude.  Another interview that really interested me was just posted this week with Liza Howard.  She’s 42, she just ran a course record 15:07 at Umstead 100, and she did it all while stopping to pump on the floor of an outhouse.  She also did a 40 mile training run on a treadmill.  Wow. The co-hosts sat down with her to talk about running through-and post-pregnancy, adapting to training with kids, wilderness survival, beer, coaching, and running camps.  If you’ve got questions about normal women running after pregnancy, this is not the podcast for you. However it was interesting to see what can be done.  There were a few new moms on my Snow to Surf Team who are kicking ass as they get back into shape and this one is for you ladies!

Finally, the registration deadline for ELM Off Road 1/2 Marathon Clinic is less than a week away.  I will be coaching this awesome clinic (with the help of Sarah Seads and special guest instructors) starting a week from today.  If you are a runner who wants to get off the road with a good group of people with no fear of getting lost, with great coaching, resources and support...then this clinic is for you!  First time endurance runners will build gradually up to their goal distance with a focus on safety and injury prevention. Experienced distance runners will work on fine tuning form, training techniques, building strength and increasing stamina to reach their goal race times.

This is not just a running group! This is a weekly coached training program designed to improve your running performance, skills and knowledge. Learn effective running techniques to increase performance and decrease risk of injury. Learn trail running safety skills. Learn how to train smart, fuel smart and race smart. Get ready to work hard, have fun and improve your endurance this summer in the Valley's beautiful trails!

 Program includes:
14 Weekly on-trail coached training sessions.
Weekly e-coaching.
Files of all maps/routes travelled
Detailed 50+ page ELM Running Clinic training manual (e-version)
Detailed 14 week training program for the Half Marathon goal of your choice.
Free Entry into the ELM River Run Half Marathon Trail Race Challenge in August!
Inspiration, challenge, fun and big smiles :)
A part of our 2013 Off Road Half Marathon Crew!
Time: Sundays 8:00am
Dates: May 4-August 3th
ELM River Run Half Marathon Challenge: August 10th
Deadline: May 1st
Location of classes : Various trail routes in the Comox Valley area.
Instructors: Kim Senechal, Registered Physiotherapist, Sarah Seads Practicing Kinesiologist, and special guest instructors.
Prerequisites:  No speed requirement!
Novice: Ability to run:walk 8kms following a 10:1 schedule.
Intermediate: Ability to run 14km.
Experienced: Ability to run 21km.

Ever wonder if you can run far?  Let me tell you, you CAN.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Controlling the mind - how I'm staying sane!

This week it all came together.  My last long run before the big race.  It was
supposed to be next week, but the Snow to Surf is next week and I will be rather preoccupied
racing this awesome relay with the super ELM crew as a downhill skier no less.

Wildwood Forest Powerline Trail
By this time in my training plan I've spent a LOT of time out on the road and trails.  I've been spending an average of 6-7.5hrs/wk running over the past month.  All but my long Sunday runs have been alone.  Sometimes I don't want to listen to music so my legs can find their own rhythm, and at those times I listen to Eric Schranz (and Scotty) do a stellar job at interviewing the top ultrarunners in the US on a weekly basis.  I discovered them on iTunes, and have their podcasts set to download automatically to my phone for listening while I run.  I enjoy listening to the women and older runners the most as they are the most down to earth (no offense to the elite guys) and offer some great tips that have really helped me.  I also appreciate how the podcasts move along efficiently without a lot of self promotion like some other podcasts I've come across.  URP really focuses on running and the runners...the people, their stories, and what we can all learn from them.  Check them out!

I also am loving the current Top 100 Hits on my Jango Radio app.  It's not often that I like listening to the top hits of the season, but I have a mix of new music made up to use from 40-50K when my mind and legs need a boost that includes:
  • Happy (Pharrell Williams)
  • Radioactive
  • The Walker (Fitz & the Tantrums)
  • Wake Me Up (Avicii)
  • Pompeii (Bastille)
  • Summer (Calvin Harris)
  • Love Me Again (John Newman)
  • Counting Stars (One Republic)
  • Blurred Lines (Alan Thicke)
  • Everything at Once (Lenka)
  • Anything by Linkin Park, Meteora
  • Several ACDC classics
    Broke in my new Mizuno's pretty fast Thurs night in a torrential downpour!
    On the long Sunday runs, Sarah Seads, my training buddy/friend/coach keeps me sane.  It's amazing how she manages to stay clear headed the whole time chatting about everything under the sun, reminding me to pace properly, asking me if I've eaten, asking me how I feel, reminding me to not allow negative thoughts to control me..I often forget to ask her how she feels!  A good friend and one who is an experienced ultrarunner, is such an asset during those long runs into unknown territory. I'd highly recommend teaming up with someone who's been there before you if you ever decide to do something crazy like running an ultra!
Summit 1: Queso Grande

And I can't believe that I haven't mentioned that Sarah has decided to come and race at Sun Mountain with me!  So in addition to having my two besties along for the road trip and crewing for me, Sarah will be there running as well.  I have no illusions that we will be running together as we will need to each run our own race, but it will be so great to share my first time doing 50K with the person who has seen me through it ALL...and another bestie besides.

Summit 2: Nekkei Mountain
This week's run down: We ran for elevation and time rather the mileage this week.  Our goal was 5:45 and replicating the 3 peaks of elevation in the race as closely as possible doing the "Cumby Triple Crown" that normally only mountain bikers do.  We managed to blow past our elevation goal and ended up doing 1500m gain of elevation in 5:40.  I took salt pills every hour, drank Hammer Endurolytes, ate a LOT during the run, and drank 2.25L total which wasn't quite enough but adequate.  I wore my new shoes for the 1st 2 hours and then changed to the old ones to lower the risk of switching to new shoes at high volume.  I have seen a lot of amazing terrain over this training period but today only saw one cat scratched tree with no cat around :)
Summit 3: Upper Thirsty Beaver (or somewhere around there) I was quite tired to say the least. This series of 3 shots shows our progressing state of fatigue but we are still smiling!)
Total Distance: 38K elevation gain 1500m
Time: 5:40
Fuel: 1 Oskri bar, 1 Lara bar, 1 SunRype fruit bar, 1/2 cup mashed potatoes, 1 date, 1 Hammer Gel Blackberry Jet
Notes on Fuel: good on sugars and electrolytes this run!
Post run recovery: Epsom salt bath, compression socks, water, salty snacks, lots of walking and playing baseball with the kids!
Plans for next week: Clean up my diet during taper time, plan our road trip!

Gratitude: The human body's ability to adapt.  Amazing.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Lessons in Hyponatremia

This week I was back in the game for a 40K run.  We ended up doing 41K with 1110m (3640') of elevation gain.  That meant 5 hours and 20 minutes of moving my feet along an often very rocky, rugged trail and not always feeling so great.  We moved out to our summer campsite this weekend, where we spend almost every weekend of the summer camping at the best beach in the area (in my opinion).  I knew there would be sacrifices to be made for this running goal of mine, but going to bed at 9:00 pm on a Sat night and leaving my husband at the campfire by himself seemed just wrong.  However, I got myself to bed with the kids and woke at 6:00am with time for coffee and oatmeal in the camper, and a snap shot of the sunrise as I headed out to pick Sarah up for a 7:00 start at the trail head.

This run was LONG.  I thought I was ready.  I had my fuel, my water (2L), put on sunscreen as it was supposed to be a sunny warmer day.  We started slow and I was doing well until about 26K.  As we headed up our second long climb of the day along Branch 21 (where we saw the cougar 2 weeks ago), I went from feeling great to feeling totally crappy in a matter of minutes.  The sun was hot on our heads at that point, I was sweating, and I totally felt like I was going to be sick.  Really sick.  I didn't want to eat. My head was swimming and pounding, and I just felt like curling up on a ball.  I had been eating on schedule, drinking on schedule, but upon taking stock, determined that I must be suffering from hyponatremia.  Luckily, Sarah had some S-caps in her pack and I took 2 salt pills.  Slowed to a walk up most of the climb and just focused on 1 foot in front of the other.  It took a good 30-45 minutes before I was feeling better again.  Splashing water on my face from a creek helped, as did getting back into the cool of the forest plus eating more salty potatoes.

I haven't been using electrolytes to this point, as it's been so cool and I've managed to get salt, etc from my food.  But today I realized that it's heating up, I sweat a lot, and I need to start using something in my water as well as S-caps.  I can't believe I did another 12K after feeling so crappy, but it really is true that as long as you deal with whatever is making you feel horrid and just keep going, it gets better.  Having Sarah drag me along during that time sure helped too.  I'm glad I had that experience during a training run though and I sure hope I figure out how to keep it from happening again!

After the run we soaked our feet in the river which was sooooo cold!  I don't know which hurt more, my feet in the water or sitting down on that rock.  Today my run was followed by yet another son's birthday party, so there was no rest for this mom when I came home.  My experience running the longest duration I ever have was quickly forgotten in favor of bowling with ten 5-7 year olds, cake, candles and a pinata.  That is, until I sat down.

PS: My hamstring/sciatic nerve has recovered nicely.  I had treatments from 2 stellar therapists this week.  Sue Whitehouse at Cedar Therapeutic Massage worked wonders on me on Tues, and my coworker Kendra Mulligan at Ascent Physiotherapy tuned me up on Wed.  Between the 2 of them I feel amazingly better so THANK-YOU ladies!

Total Distance: 41.0K, elevation gain 1110m
Time: 5:20
Fuel: 1 Oskri bar, 1 Lara bar, 2 SunRype fruit bars, 1 cup potatoes, 1 Power Gel
Notes on Fuel: needed more electrolytes, but the sugar/carbs worked well
Post run recovery: Soaked feet in ice water, contrast shower, epsom salt bath, compression socks, water, salty snacks and iced my knees this evening as they got pretty sore
Plans for next week: Taking it easy for another 40K next Sunday
Gratitude: Sunshine and warmer weather and running buddy with salt pills in her pack!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Lessons in Injury

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis

Forget about cougars, the monster tree almost got me this morning!
This whole ultramarathon training process has been going really well up until now.  Amazingly well actually.  I've had no pain, no injuries, and I've been following good advice for recovery.  That is, until last Tues, 5 days ago.  I said I wanted to gain experience as a physio in the personal pain department.  Well here it is.

I have an old hamstring/sciatic nerve injury from about 2 years ago that occasionally gives me some grief, usually in the first 2-4 weeks of increasing mileage during a periodization period.  Then it disappears with a few physio sessions and when my body adapts to the mileage, but I am left with a chronically stiffer R posterior chain (back, buttock, hamstring).

Last Tues I was running my first time after a significant increase in "time on feet" and mileage.  It was to be an 8K tempo run.  I do these runs in town right after work and was about 3 minutes into my run (not warmed up yet) when I turned to cross the street and caught my left toe on a man hole cover.  Yes, after running hours in gnarly trails, a man hole cover got me.  That sent me flying into a dramatic lunge with my right leg as I tried to avoid plastering my "oh-so-valuable physio hands" and of course, my iPhone, into the pavement.  I felt a searing pain in my R hamstring and buttock.  Nothing popped, but oh did it hurt.  I had had a bad day at work and really needed that run for emotional medicine.  I thought that I had just torn my hamstring and almost burst into tears.  But after walking a few steps, then jogging with very short stride and high cadence, the pain subsided a little and I ran on.  I finished the 8K with a good tempo pace. Maybe not so wise, but it forced to me work on cadence as I couldn't stretch out my R leg at all.

That meds (reminder that current research does not support NSAIDS as a good treatment for running injuries), no stretching as I felt that the muscle had been yanked enough and needed to be left alone.  Went to bed and woke with burning pain from butt to ankle. Darn.

The next day I was worried. Really worried.  I thought it was all over.  I checked for bruising on the back of my leg, but thankfully there was none! I did acupuncture on myself (yes, I'm certified), gently stretched.  After explaining my issues to my coach and saying that I was going to take the day off, she suggested light cycling that day.  I should have thought of that, as it's totally what we learned in our recent running course.  Relative rest.  I had 6K easy on the schedule, so I biked 10K or 30 minutes, which I thought equaled a 6K easy run.  I kept it light, spinning with no pain allowed, and it felt great! I got off that bike totally buoyant with renewed energy.

The next morning I felt ok, a little tight but ok.  I had a long hill climb on the schedule and woke at 5:00 am to do 1km hill repeats on a long hill in town by headlamp.  The benefit of darkness allowed me the luxury of going slow and not freaking out about how long the hill was.  My mantra was "short stride, high cadence, no pain."  And it worked!

I am proud to say I followed the "Quantification of Stress" formula from The Running Clinic:
1) Apply stress not greater than 2-3/10 pain
2) Pain must return to baseline 30-60 min post-exercise.
3) No morning stiffness greater than the previous morning.

And I am happy to say that after a shorter 16K run today with some nice hills on my down week, my hamstring is only a little cranky and I'm going to be ok.  I am convinced that it's not only my hamstring but also my sciatic nerve, so will do some physio magic on that this week.  I feel like I narrowly escaped a show-stopper and that it's not over yet.  I'm going to take it easy this week as well to make sure I'm ready for 40K next Sunday.  Here's to a human body that heals!

Here's a quote from yours truly:  
"The human body will heal if you give it the conditions in which to do so." 
And there-in lies the science and the art of recovery.

Weekly Tally:
Distance: 68.4K
Elevation climb: 2194m
Time spent: 7:17
Pain level: at worst: 7/10  at best: 1/10