My First DNS

In running lingo, a DNS means “Did Not Start.” And this Saturday, I will experience my first one.

In reality I never really registered for the race, so it’s not an official scratch. But I do feel like it is.

The Joe Maguire Road Race in Woodstock, New Brunswick, has been an annual tradition for my family for several years. It’s just a given that we all run it every year.

Woodstock is my parents’ hometown — they are junior high school sweethearts — and they have been running it for about a decade. Since then, several other family members have used it as their first 5K goal race.

I walked it once when I was in university and have participated every summer since I started running. I always run the 5K and try to get a PR thanks to the really fast course.

To me, this race has always represented how far I’ve come in my healthy-living journey. There was a time, before I became a runner, that I felt guilty and resentful every time someone mentioned the race. I could never run 5K, I thought.

You can read a little more about my experiences with the Joe Maguire 5K here and here.

In June, a couple of weeks after the marathon, I wrote out a plan that I though would pretty much guarantee myself a PR at the race on July 27.

The wheels of that plan came off pretty quickly when I realized some lingering knee pain from marathon training was not going away.

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I made the shockingly responsible decision to stop running until I was 100 per cent better. 

Which means I’m not racing on Saturday. Sure, I could complete the 5K, with a bit of pain in the knee and a slow time. But I’m just not interested in that.

At first I was bummed … and then I was surprised how quickly I got over it. I’m planning to drive to Woodstock tomorrow and cheer on my parents. I’ll take in the sights as a spectator and just enjoy the day.

I’m looking forward to it — no pressure, and no guilt when I have a beer or two later tonight. I’ll probably still carb up, though.

Woodstock, I’ll see you next year!

I Was Afraid …

I was afraid … I would completely fall off the healthy-living wagon after the marathon because I no longer had a goal to work toward.

Instead, I took a week off and then got back at it in a gradual way. Now I feel healthier and more fit than I did while training. My clothes even fit better.

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I was afraid … of switching to strength training. I procrastinated for a couple of weeks and then finally sucked it up and went to the gym. It was difficult at first but gets a bit easier every day. I am proud of my progress.

I was afraid … of working out with my husband. I thought I might slow him down. Turns out we are a great team!

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I do two or three workouts with him a week when he is home on his days off. We do things in the weight room that I wouldn’t dare do if he wasn’t there with me, like the bench press.

I was afraid … I would be depressed from not running. I had a few days in June when I was still coming to terms with my injury and was jealous of everyone who was racing.

Thankfully, I got over that pretty quickly, and now I feel like a break of running is the best thing for me.

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In the end, there was no reason to be afraid. Life is good.

Seeing Progress

I’m finally starting to feel happy with my workout routine. I’ve been consistently going to the gym for about a month now — instead of solely running like I was doing before — and I’m starting to see progress.

Even the fact that I’m going five times a week is something to celebrate, and I’m getting there every day without having to push myself too much. I used to dread working out and now I’m excited about it.

I think one of the keys for me is doing something new every day, whether it be a different muscle group with weights or a fitness class. This morning I went to lap swim for the first time in a year and it felt so great.

On the weekend we had a visitor in the form of Tropical Storm Arthur. I was very fortunate to only be without power for a day and a half.

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Just one of the many trees we lost in my city.

During the storm I did an electricity-free workout at my parents’ house with body weight and dumbbells. The next day I went to the gym for a hot shower but decided I needed to earn it first.

I started off with my first treadmill HIIT workout. It was slow thanks to my dodgy knee, but I thought it was a lot of fun to do the intervals and it made the time go by faster.

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Charging my phone at the gym and taking selfies, like the mature adult I am.

I also brought along an old strength routine that my sister recommended to me in university when I was trying (and failing) to be more healthy. It’s designed specifically for my body shape: meso apple.

You’re a Meso Apple If You…
1. Are muscular and can hold your own on any playing field.
2. Have a dancer’s slim but strong legs.
3. Are like the best desserts: soft in the middle.

Find more about the workout here!

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With great workouts like these, maybe I will just quit running forever. 

I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

I still miss running a little bit. Today I have my long-awaited doctor’s appointment and I hope to get some answers about the knee pain that’s been nagging me since the marathon.

Fingers crossed.

Strength Training And A Shorter-Than-Expected Run

After the marathon I felt extremely weak.

I could run far, yes, but the training did a number on my body. I couldn’t stand on one leg without shaking — and after solely focusing on running for months, my upper body strength was a joke. I could hardly open a pickle jar.

My post-marathon knee pain finally forced me away from the roads and into the gym. I’ve been doing weight-lifting workouts for about three weeks now.

My husband has been home during the past three weekends and he’s helped steer me away from my beloved cardio machines and into the big scary weight room. He helps push me out of my comfort zone and provides support when I need it. We love working out together.

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Workouts with him tend to mostly focus on upper body. Arms, chest, back and shoulders with “heavy weight” for 10 reps and 3 sets of each exercise. I always do my physio exercises after, which are core-focused moves like planks, bird-dog and bridges.

During the week I’ve also done rowing, core workouts, spin class and Group Power, which is a weight-lifting/cardio class that I DO NOT recommend taking a year-long break from. Yowie.

I’ve said over and over again on this blog that I am not a natural athlete. And I’ve definitely experienced my share of frustration lately with how weak I feel.

I have certain problem areas that are very hard to train: I can’t do a push-up. Crunches hurt my neck. I struggle with soreness and I can pull things really easily. It’s always an uphill battle.

However, I have been seeing some improvements. Slowly but surely I am increasing some of my weights. I hope that if I can stick with this for three months then I will no longer feel like a weakling. And I know it will be good for my running once I get back out there.

Speaking of running … I decided to test out my knee on a short run today. It’s the beginning of a new week and I wanted to see if maybe my injury was behind me and I could start running again.

I headed out the door around 6:30 a.m. I skipped wearing my Garmin so I could run based on feel. I did two loops near my house and also went up a side street.

The first loop was terrible, but the second loop was a little better. I kept reminding myself that I was a marathoner even though I did feel quite out of shape. My knee felt OK — not perfect, but better than before.

I was hot, sweaty and tired when I got home and sat down to measure my run on Google Maps. I was guessing I had done about 5K.

Nope. 2.2K.

The uphill battle continues.

I’m Not Running Much … And It’s No Longer OK

The following post is a pity party — guest list: one. Enter at your own risk.

You will notice my feet are inside here. Not ideal.

My running sneakers have turned into inside gym sneakers. They’re sad about it.

I ran a few times in the first couple of weeks following the marathon before I realized I had a real problem with my right knee.

I had pain in it leading up to the race but I thought it was just overuse. I ran the marathon on a happy little cloud of adrenaline, so it didn’t really bother me. Whenever I run since then, and sometimes when I don’t, the bump on my knee really hurts.

After about four or five post-marathon runs, I decided I was tired of trying to run through injury. It’s just stupid. I decided to be smart. I stopped running.

After three months away, my husband came home the past two weekends and he’s been helping me learn about weights.

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In turn, I made him do planks with me. He hated it — just like that one time I made him run a half-marathon with me.

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I’ve been strength/cross training for about two weeks now and it’s going well. Mostly I just lift heavy things, yawn at myself in the mirror, and then put them down. I also do physio exercises to strengthen my core. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world.

I did two kilometres on the treadmill last night, one at 5K goal race pace, and then got off. It’s been a month since the marathon and my knee still hurts.

I’ve enjoyed my time off from running, getting stronger, having my workouts be one-hour tops and significantly less sweaty, but this past weekend that seemed to change.

I have a major case of running jealousy.

I feel like I’ve had my decompression time and now I’m itching to get training again. But I can’t. I always seem to be injured. When I’m not injured, I’m slow. I’m so tired of it.

I am a healthy 25-year-old female of a normal weight. I’ve been trying to become an average runner for three years. I’m still not there, and it’s frustrating.

Everyone and their dog seems to be racing every weekend and hitting new and exciting goals. Even my own mother did a secret triathlon on Sunday (yeah, don’t ask…)

I could tell you I’m happy for everyone. But the truth is, when I drive by someone who is running, I want to run them off the sidewalk. My anger feels like the heat of a thousand suns in the pit of my stomach. Hey, I never said I was normal …

My main goal is to get faster and live up to my potential as a runner. Here is my ideal plan: PR 5K at the end of July, PR 10K at the end of September, and PR half-marathon in October. Then eat a grilled cheese and settle in for a long winter’s nap.

My current PRs are:

5K: 27:42

10K: 58:41

21.1K: 2:17.01 (gun time)

I’m not sure my ambitious plan is going to happen — and I need to be OK with that. I will try to do everything I can to get there, but it just might not be in the cards for me. Until then, I’ll keep yawning in the weight room, dreaming of the trails outside.

I’m Not Running Much … And That’s OK

I think we can all relate to this feeling: when you’re not exactly living your healthiest life, it’s annoying to read about people who seem to be healthy-ing it up, all day, every day.

I haven’t been running as much so I haven’t been posting as much. When I was in this thick of marathon training, reaching new distances, getting my sweat on all the time, I never shut up. But now? Crickets.

Celebrated a recent run by drinking a neon green slushie, like any proper adult would.

Celebrated a recent run by drinking a neon green slushie, like any proper adult would.

I decided that today I would fight back about that tendency to shy away from writing when I’m not at my best. It’s nice to read about people’s accomplishments, but a glimpse beyond the shiny glossy happy world of running bloggers is a nice change too.

So, here’s the update.

It’s been 18 days since the marathon and I’ve run three times and not really worked out other than that. The weird thing, for me anyway, is that I have absolutely no guilt about it. I’m just chilling and enjoying time off.

After work, instead of lacing up, I drive home, make supper, and watch Mad Men or Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I eat a lot less than I used to. I don’t have to wash my hair nearly as much. I haven’t seen my Garmin in weeks. I do a lot less laundry and even less limping.

It’s a nice change.

Right after my marathon someone said to me: “Make sure you get back out there right away or you’ll never run again and you’ll get pudgy and your life will end!” Well, maybe not quite that, but it was something along those fear-mongering lines.

I just shrugged my shoulders.

Eventually I know I will find my motivation again. I used to be so afraid of going back to my lazy self. I’m a little more confident now. I know I’m not in danger of abandoning healthy living all together.

I trained from October right up to the end of May. It’s fine to take a little breather.

The once-a-week runs have mostly been to remind myself that my legs still work and will be there for me when I decide to get back at it. On Sunday I ran a 12K with my Dad and was happy with my pace, even though I ate pizza the night before and felt like vomiting the whole time. Last night I ran five hill repeats with run club. Hard, but fun.

I have bought expensive running sunglasses before and not been able to stand wearing them. Basically, I went three summers with the heat searing my eyeballs while running. I recently bought these for 12 bucks and they work perfectly but I look pretty goofy!

I went three summers with the heat searing my eyeballs while running because I couldn’t find a good pair of sunglasses. I recently bought these for 12 bucks and they work perfectly! 

I am a little curious about where I will go from here. I really want to get in the gym and start strength training — but I packed my bag every day last week and never went. It’s nerve-wracking to try something new.

I’d also like to get faster. Like I said before, I really want to run a personal best 5K in six weeks. But I’ve taken no steps toward accomplishing that — other than looking up a training plan, shrugging my shoulders again, and then closing the browser tab.

My knee is bothering me. I thought the time off would help it but it hasn’t yet. Fingers crossed a little more rest will be the only thing it needs.

And my measly three runs have been hard. I feel a bit of a burning in my lungs that I didn’t feel when I was in shape. My body is achy.

But I still love running. I still feel that love deep inside me — it’s located somewhere in behind my IT band, I think.

We’ll see what happens.

10 Things I Learned From My First Marathon

I’ve now run a total of one (1) marathon at the back of the pack. Logically, I’m now the world’s foremost expert in marathoning. You shall all come to me for advice from here on out.

All kidding aside, and despite the fact that I’m as far from a running expert as Australia is from Canada, I still decided to make a list of things I learned while training and running the marathon. Honestly, it annoys the heck out of me when bloggers act like experts, so you should know that I purely wrote this list because I made a lot of mistakes during this training cycle and it will be handy for me to refer back to when I decide to take the plunge again … someday.

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1. Don’t forget about mental toughness

I finished the Ottawa Marathon on a very hot day with a smile on my face and immediately said: “That was fun!” It was fun, and painful too, but for some reason I just don’t remember the suffering as vividly. I chalk this up to the power of positive thinking and the mental toughness that I practiced a million times during training and outside of training in my regular everyday life.

2. Practice EVERYTHING 

Nothing comes easy to me, except maybe singing karaoke. I find it hard enough to put pants on in the morning and not let the dishes pile up. Beyond just improving my running, I had to practice so many things to be prepared for this race. I was scared of passing out or getting pulled off the course.

Eating and drinking, clothing, pace, using a Garmin, mental motivation, not falling off a curb, wearing a fuel belt: I went over it all a million times. I even got lost several times and often started talking to myself on long runs so I eventually had to add “sticking to the plan” as something to practice.

These are the splits from my race. I rarely looked at my watch and it died before the end. I think all the practice really helped me have such consistent splits and prevented me from fading.

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3. Don’t scramble at the last minute

Before our wedding I made a deal with myself that I would accomplish all tasks by the end of Wednesday night and then relax until the wedding day on Saturday. It was the best decision I could have made.

I tried to do the same thing for the marathon. I did my shopping and packing several days before leaving for vacation, and visualized everything I needed to do before toeing the start line (i.e., picking up my bib, carb loading, etc.). After I had my plan memorized and finished my last training run on Wednesday, I took a deep breath and told myself I was ready to run. I had prepared myself as much as I could. Time to stop being crazy.

From that point on, I just had to stay calm and relax. While all other members of my family were scrambling around, I had my plan for race weekend sorted our clearly in my mind. All I had to do was lay out my race outfit on the floor beside my bed. I didn’t get worked up about anything that was going wrong. I lounged around and was asleep before 10 p.m. the night before the race. It was great.

4. Listen to your body

I followed my training plan too rigidly in the beginning and was injured because of it. It’s hard to find that fine line between taking the easy way out and skipping a workout for a good reason, but if you don’t listen to your body you could derail your whole goal.

I was dangerously close to missing out on the marathon when I kept running on a mildly sprained ankle and made it worse. After I stopped obsessively keeping track of my mileage, and started listening to the experts and my husband, things got better. I also started cross training a lot more and that helped a lot.

5. Don’t ignore strength training

Despite my best efforts, I knew this would fall by the wayside when my mileage ramped up, and I was right. Most of my injuries and pains were caused by lack of strength. I could have had a more enjoyable training cycle and faster time if I hadn’t skimped on this.

6. It’s not free

I remember when I first started running and thought I only needed a pair of sneakers. So young, so naive. I spent a ton of moolah on this race. The race registration itself was over $100, but it didn’t stop there. New sneakers, massage stick, fuel (gels ain’t cheap!), physio co-pays, souvenirs, gym membership for treadmill access, eating out because I was too tired to cook: the list goes on.

And speaking of that eating out thing …

7. Don’t be surprised if you gain weight

I was ready for it to happen and it absolutely did happen. This is a whole other post for another day.

8. Believe in the taper

Because of my injury I was a full-on madwoman during the taper. Thankfully the rest was exactly what I needed to get my leg healed up completely by the time I started the marathon. The taper works!

9. Do research

If you are a newbie runner like me, you probably need to do some learnin’ before training for a marathon. Training for a half can be cobbled together, but a full marathon is another beast. I read a few books (Runner’s World being one of them) and did a million hours of research online (and it still took me 5 and a half hours to cross the finish line). I also joined a Running Room clinic and learned a lot from my buddies there.

There is so much to learn!

10. There’s nothing like race day

Seriously — what is it about race day? I mean, besides the adrenaline, the crowds, and that fresh tapered feeling in your legs. I knew about the power of race day from past experiences but I should have believed in it even more. It is a completely different experience compared to a training run.


If you have anything to add in the comments, I’d love to hear!