Jun 20

seattle rock n roll 2015!

it’s always funny/cool when i find myself doing the thing that i once imagined myself doing in the future. in spring last year i bumped into emily and i was pregnant and she was still nursing her not-even-1-year-old boy graham. She told me that she was training for (and about to run) the rock n roll half marathon and i remember thinking ‘woah, that’s amazing.’ and i remember thinking that in a years time my baby would be about the same age as graham and i wondered if i could possibly have it in me to train for and run a half marathon before my next baby was 1. with mika there would have been no way. I didn’t run my first post-mika half marathon until she was 18 months or so and even that felt HARD to train for with all the sleep deprivation. (but i wasn’t even nursing her at that stage).

and so when teo was 4 months old and i decided that i was ready to start running again, i was trying to be reeeeeally easy on myself. my goal was to stay HEALTHY and run frequently instead of far and do absolutely no speed training. i wrote myself a 12 week schedule, which generally had me running between 2 and 5 miles on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, rest on Friday, long run (increasing by 1 mile each week) on Saturday and rest on Sunday then cross-train on Monday.

and it worked! i managed to do EVERY single day of my training schedule. during the week i would run with the stroller and push both kids (or sometimes 3 kids!) or i would wake up before 7 and run alone or wait until after 6pm. On saturdays for my long run, ivan would be wherever i needed him to be to pick me up. I love mapping long new runs that end up somewhere new or random or fun and it is even better when i have a supportive family waiting there to meet me and bring me home.

I planned to run the Brooks 10km trailhead race 3 weeks out from the half marathon and it felt great. I finished 3rd in my age group and 5th overall female. The only problem was that it ended up feeling like such a big event that i almost lost momentum to run the half 3 weeks later.

But i set my alarm for super early on june 18th and ran/bussed to the start line at seattle centre. i had no idea how huge the race was, but i DID know how emotional i would get the moment i saw all the people/heard the national anthem/gathered at the start line. i have no idea why i get so teary and emotional during races, but i love it.

i took my phone and jacket to gear check and then went to find the 1:45 pacing group near the start line. the pacer told me that the course measured a bit long and that the second half was much hillier than the first. so she said they’d go out slightly faster to make up for it.

i headed out pretty fast and figured they would probably catch me up somewhere before half way but i never saw them again. the miles sped by and i choked back tears as i ran past supporters. i even get emotional when i approach the drink stations…i just think people who support and volunteer at races are SO great. the spirit and energy at a race is so wonderful and addictive.

ivan had said they’d try to meet me around mile 7 or 8, but i didn’t see them and then the course went into a long motorway tunnel and i realised i wouldn’t be seeing them for a while yet. i felt sort of bummed out/worried/all the emotions and then at mile 10 i saw them! it was over MUCH too fast but seeing them brightened me up and gave me exactly what i needed to finish the final 3 miles.

the final incline to the finish line was the same one from the seattle half marathon and it is THE WORST THING. it is such a small incline but still, it’s UPHILL and after 12.9 miles or whatever it is almost enough to make me walk in protest. but somehow i ran all the way and crossed the finish line in 1:43:31 which i was happy about. It put my average pace at about 7:50 per mile (or 4:53 per km) and i was 106th woman out of about 7,000. I know it’s much more about my personal time, but i think i would really like to place in the top 10 one day. i’m thinking of training for the seattle half at the end of november and incorporating some speed work. Maybe.

but after the race i bumped into emily (of all the thousands of people there!) and it totally brought me back to that time at the lake when she planted that little seed of an idea in my head that i could train for a race whilst nursing. it’s easy to beat myself up about my time or wish i could have done better or tell myself i should train harder and get faster, but seeing her there after the race reminded me that when i had seen her a year ago i thought she was radiant, strong, determined and inspiring. and so in a weird way by finishing this race it made me feel all those things too. (and wanting to high five all the mom runners i saw holding their wee babies after the race)

I have feet that make people do a sort of cringe thing when they look at them. if i was to write a list of things people will never say to me ‘oh your feet are beautiful’ would probably top the list. i lost 2 toe nails after my last race and the bunion on my left foot is only getting worse. once i had 2 stress fractures in one foot at the same time and my x-rays were used as freak examples for med students to study. what i’m trying to say is that i am quite positive there will come a time when running is no longer enjoyable for me and i’ll be forced to stop. BUT and SO.. until that time comes i’m going to continue to make the most out of how amazing running makes me feel. mika has mentioned a few times lately that she really wants to do a race with me and so i told her maybe next summer she could do one of the kid’s races. and then when (if, i know) she ends up running races later on in her life, i can be one of those awesome amazing supporters on the sideline that get me so teary and emotional. CAN’T WAIT.

Nov 25

Running with tears

The national anthem started and I had tears in my eyes. Was it my national anthem? I don’t even really know what that means anymore, so sure. I’m in America now and I got tears in my eyes during the national anthem.

I have no idea why I got tears in my eyes. Maybe the tears were for the fact that right after Mika was born I couldn’t imagine ever running again, let alone racing half a marathon. Or maybe they were for the fact that late that night before the race, Ivan had cycled to Walgreens to get my watch fixed which I’d only just discovered had stopped working, even though he has so much work to do, just so I could get to bed early. Or maybe I was crying because of all the 5am starts and cold rainy runs that I’d done, knowing that I was working towards this. Or maybe it was out of love and respect for my body – my body that had been feeling achy and ill all week leading up to the race – that was somehow able to pull this off. Or maybe it’s because for the first day in more than a week, there was no rain, and later the sun would come out.

I didn’t cry. Just so you know. But then the starting bell went and as we passed our first group of supporters, cheering and yelling, I welled up again. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I laughed to nobody at how ridiculously happy I felt and how surprisingly good I felt as I followed the feet of the pacer infront of me.

Running 13.1 miles is much easier than running 21.1 kilometres. For one, writing 12 splits on my hand is much easier than writing 20. And mentally I found this race possibly the easiest I’ve ever run. This is how I broke it down:

  • Run 5 miles at target pace. Assess how I feel at 5 miles. I was following the 1:45 pacer for the first 5 miles and I felt super.
  • Feeling good? Bump it up slightly and run another 5 miles. So I dropped the pacer and bumped up my pace until I was coming through 2 minutes under my goal splits for the next 5 miles.
  • Now I’m at the 10 mile mark. Only a 5k to go. Run that 5k as hard as I can. I was hoping I would pick up the pace even more. But my thighs were cramping up and I wasn’t even sure if I was running anymore. I kept up my pace, maybe increasing it a fraction, and wasn’t sure if I’d make it over the line in one piece.
  • Boom. Done. I made it. In one piece.

My PB for a half marathon is 1:30:00. There’s no way I’m training at that level now, but considering my training I’m extremely happy with my time of 1:42:48 for this Seattle half marathon. Only 10 minutes slower than my best!

Waiting for the bus to brunch, check out that amazing christmas train set!! Mika couldn’t take her eyes off it.

Ivan and Mika were at the finish line to see me cross and although my body was like ‘whaat?’ seeing them there in the super cold at 9am was possibly the best thing in the world (brunch at Chaco Canyon an hour later was a close second).

Alright, I’ve run my post-baby half marathon, we can have another baby now.

(p.s those instagram photos above are not mine, they belong to josephrlee, kelsnasty, missy_dearest, kaypearamsdale, pinkpre and runhappier. I didn’t take my phone with me)

Apr 04

On believing what you’re told. And running. Barefoot.

I’m reading that book that every runner should read. Or every one who has feet should read. Or even people without feet should read. Born to Run was recommended to me by a friend and I ordered it from The Book Depository. Free shipping worldwide? Was it too good to be true? Almost. I waited one month until finally a knock at the door one sunny morning in Obregon and voila! It appeared! My book!

So first of all you need to know a couple things about me: I have awful feet. Or so I have been told my entire life. I started playing basketball when I was 8. My brother and I were in a mixed under 10s league and our mum was the coach. It was awesome. We won the B division and I still remember the game as though it was the ultimate underdog story with someone in our team scoring the winning basket just seconds before the buzzer.

I continued to play basketball all throughout my middle and high school years. At one point when I was about 13 I was playing/practicing about 14 times a week for 3 different teams. My feet hurt. They hurt so badly that after practice I’d take off my shoes and cry. When I woke up in the mornings I wouldn’t be able to stand because of the pain so I would crawl down the stairs and complain during breakfast until my feet warmed up and felt a bit better. I have no idea why I didn’t tell my coach. I think I was scared of her, so I just kept going. One day after practice my Dad had had enough so he took me to the A&E. And so it began…

It turned out I had a double stress fracture in my foot. One near my big toe and one near the fourth toe. I was passed from podiatrist to podiatrist to orthopedic surgeon and back to podiatrist. I heard the word ‘pronated’ so many times it just became a normal part of my vocabulary. I wore moon boots, I had moulds made of my feet, I was trialled in many a running shoe. They begged me to get off my feet: just swim instead! they told me. But anyone who runs or plays a sport, knows what it’s like to be told to stop. I needed more opinions and every opinion said the same thing: get good orthodics, get better running shoes, and run less. I actually did eventually stop playing basketball. But I took up running (go figure) and have run many half marathons, 5 & 10kms and a few adventure races.

We were a bit geeky…:P

So I’ve been reading this book born to run and it is so captivating. Even more so when I discovered that a lot of the book takes place roughly eight hours away from where we’ve been living in Obregon. There’s so much to talk about – the whole book is just mind blowing – but what really grabbed my attention was the whole ‘barefoot running’ debate. Prior to reading this book I thought that anyone who ran barefoot was crazy, because every foot doctor I’ve ever seen has told me that we NEED SHOES. But really? When you really think about it, it sounds mental. I read somewhere that it’s like putting a cast around your neck and then taking it off and wondering why you have no strength. Apparently ALL running injuries are modern injuries, ie. have only existed since the invention of the running shoe!

From the author of Born to Run:
I began drilling into running-shoe research, and the further I went, the less I found. There’s nothing there. Nothing. No evidence whatsoever that running shoes do anything. Know why you’ve never seen an ad for a running shoe that actually tells you what the shoe will do? Because there is no evidence that running shoes do anything to prevent injuries. None. In fact, research currently in progress indicates that runners in shoes experience far more impact than runners in bare feet.

I feel a bit silly really. Why didn’t I question the whole running shoe thing earlier? Well duh, because the doctors told me it was the best thing for me. And as a 14 year old, you don’t really question the professionals. But the older I get, the more and more I realise the importance of questioning everything. The importance of keeping an open mind and reading lots and asking lots of questions and testing things out for myself as much as I can and never just accepting one answer from one person or even one answer from lots of people. Because theories are constantly being disproved, new solutions are always being discovered and curiosity is what drives us forward.

So I’m most definitely going to give this barefoot running thing a try. My feet can’t get much worse (way to jinx it though) and I’m so curious.

There’s plenty of places to read more if this kind of thing interests you. I did some googling so you don’t have to:

If you’re a barefoot runner or have tried it out, I’d love to hear your stories!

Jan 20

You Just Run: Some thoughts for starting out

What is more awesome than running around a lagoon to the original movie score from Predator?

Maybe running around a lagoon to the movie score from Predator imagining that you’re IN Predator. And oh, did I mention that I wasn’t actually wearing headphones – no – this music was being played FROM THE LOUDSPEAKERS that surround this lagoon. It’s beyond amazing. They blast epic movie scores to motivate evening runners. I.Love.It.

So as I was completing my Thursday run (I’m on week 7 you guys!!!) I was thinking about running and motivation and how freaking awesome I’m feeling compared to 7 weeks ago. And I figured I could speak with some authority on the subject of starting to run – for all you folk out there who don’t have an awesome lagoon nearby that plays inspiring movie scores to keep you moving.

Start really small

I have no doubt that you could get up tomorrow and run 10kms. Most people could. But the day after tomorrow your body would most likely disown you. So put the ego aside and start small really small. If you’ve never kept a regular running program, start with running for ten minutes every second day, building up to fifteen, then twenty minutes.

Put your shoes on

Not feeling motivated to run? That’s cool. Just convince yourself to put your shorts and shoes on, then tie up your laces. Still too hard to get out the door?

If you get too tired, walking is OK

If you can only run for 10 minutes before near-heart-attack, then bring it back to a walk. A great way to start building endurance is to alternate run/walk. Run for 2 minutes, walk for 1 minute. Repeat. Play around with this until you build endurance.

Just keep going

Honestly it’s gonna suck at first. There’s no getting around it. But just.keep.going. You won’t lose weight at first, you won’t look different at first, but you will feel different almost right away. And after the first week, everything will gradually start to get easier.

Follow a programme

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just take a piece of paper and draw up a calendar for one month. Write down the days you plan to run and how long you plan to run for. Here’s my running programme, or if you have never done much running before, check out the programme I wrote for Ivan. There’s also heaps of running plans online that you can follow.

Find a friend or a community

It can be so easy to let ourselves down. Sometimes all it takes is knowing that someone else is relying on us to kick our butts into action. So find a friend to run with. If they run faster than you – great, schedule them for your hard run. If they run slower than you, great, schedule them for your easy run. The point is, they get you out the door.

Pick a race

There is nothing more motivating than a looming deadline. Especially when that deadline is going to see you get your ass out of bed at 6am to join thousands of other people run a pre-defined route with little timing chips strapped to your ankles. So get online and find something that motivates you. Maybe it’s a 5 or 10km run. Maybe it’s a half marathon or a crazy adventure race. Whatever it is, find it and register!

[image source. And quote by John Bingham]

Dec 23

Get off yo’ ass and run.

(image found here)

I have started running again.

And since I’ve managed to keep to my plan for 3 weeks now, I feel ready to talk about it.

Of course it’s nowhere near as easy as it used to be. But I have a new level of respect for my body: I’ve grown a child for 9 months, given birth and now I’m still breastfeeding – so there are aches and pains and lower thresholds of pain than I’m used to. But i can do this. It may be embarrassing to arrive home feeling ruined after only 20 minutes of running when I used to do a 20 minutes run as a warm up to a daily 10km run, but hey – I have to start somewhere right? And as the wise old Bikram says, It is never too late, you are never too sick and you are never too old to start from scratch once again.

The big secret to successful running is consistency. I’m totally serious. Even if you start running for 10 minutes at a time, you’ll only improve if you do this every day (or perhaps with a day or two off each week). Small bites, frequently, is the key to catching the running bug. And when you catch it, it’s awesome. I’ve been witness to people catching this bug from never running, to feeling strange if they don’t run every day.

I’m on week 3 and I can feel the bug coming on. Yesterday I felt pretty urgh and unmotivated, but I got dressed and put my running shoes on (a wee trick to getting yourself out the door: put your running shoes on) and headed out for a 20 minute run. It was seriously the best run I’ve done so far. I felt light and nimble and quick and took 2 minutes off the short route I usually take.

So if you’re keen to catch the bug (do it before NY day), here’s my programme that I’m following. It’s for me, I made it to help me get into shape for training for a half marathon. I finish it with a 10km run, which I plan to run in under 45 minutes. In 2010 I ran the Vancouver Sun Run in 46:43 and I was in no way well prepared for that event. So bring it on.

Download my programme here.

Some tips to come. Maybe.