My First Ice Bath and 18 Miles

It looks like winter has finally left us and on Sunday I only needed a thin hat, thin gloves and spring jacket for my long run. Of course, I decided to ruin the comfort of the mild temperatures by taking my first ever ice bath immediately after I got home.

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Let’s talk about the run first.

I think I mentioned that I’ve been feeling uncomfortable with the fact that there is only one 20-mile run in the plan that I’ve been following since getting injured.

My plan said 14 miles for Sunday, so I decided to return to the Running Room, where my marathon group — which I have abandoned lately in favour of running alone — was planning to also do 14 miles due to it being a taper week for them.

In the back of my head I actually wanted to do 18 miles so I could set myself up to run two 20 milers before tapering a couple of weeks before the marathon. This would coincide with a few other beginner marathon plans I’ve read recently.

I told myself to make it through 14 miles and then reassess and make the smart decision.

It was great to be out running with the group again. The half-marathon clinic also followed our route so I enjoyed chatting with a few different people along the way. It made the front portion of the run go so much faster.

At 18K, the half-marathoners were finished, so I set off for another 5K with a woman from my marathon clinic who runs a similar pace. My parents also joined — they finished the day at 23K, a personal distance record for them!

At that point everyone was heading home to eat brunch, but I was feeling good and wanted to keep going. I filled up two of my bottles, took another gel, did some stretches, and set off for another 7K. I was determined to get it done.

That last section of the run definitely became painful. I was pretty seized up in my lower back. The miles seemed to be tick away much more slowly. Even so, I’ve never really struggled with the mental aspect of long runs. I know how to push myself through, which is going to get me through the marathon, I think.

At one point I ran by an older man who said — “You must be running far!” — I think he could tell I was struggling.

“29 kilometres,” I responded with a weak smile.

“All in one day? Congratulations!”

It was a nice boost to propel me to the finish.

I finished my 18 miles and was pretty proud to have a new distance record under my belt. My pace has progressively been getting faster with each long run, which is also encouraging.

I drove to the nearest gas station and bought two bags of ice before I could change my mind.

When I took my sneakers off I realized my toes had poked through my favourite socks.

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Has this ever happened to anyone else?

As I poured the ice into the tub, it became very clear how much my life has changed since I started running. On Saturday night I drank water and ginger ale while out for “wine” with my girlfriends. I left early and was in bed by 10 p.m. Then I ran 18 miles out of my own freewill even after my running buddies had gone home.

And there I was back at home, alone, pouring two bags of ice into a bath I was planning to hop in.

I tried to get prepared. I wore a sweater, winter coat and my trusty fur hat.

And this is now on the Internet, forever ...

And this is now on the Internet, forever …

It really sucked. The first minute was the worst. I think I probably stayed in for about five minutes. And I think it definitely helped my legs recover.

Here’s a pro tip, though: don’t call your husband while you’re in the beginning stages of your first ice bath. I’m pretty sure he thought I was dying and yelled at me to get out.

Six weeks until the Ottawa Marathon

A Good Ol’ Fashioned Training Update

It occurred to me the other day on a run that, in a way, I have been training for this marathon for six months.

Bare pavement! An extremely rare sight here in Fredericton.

Bare pavement! An extremely rare sight here in Fredericton.

It also occurred to me that there has never been a day that I didn’t want to keep training; that I didn’t want try to run the marathon. I have cursed my injuries, wanted to stop being in pain, been too tired to run, yes — but I’ve never wanted to quit. I love running a lot and it has finally become a routine for me. And yes, it’s safe to say I’m pretty obsessed at this point.

I am still planning to run the Ottawa Marathon on May 25.

Here’s a good ol’ fashioned update about how it’s going.

I stopped obsessively keeping track of my runs. I no longer post a summary of my runs on this blog and I have abandoned DailyMile.

My original plan was to follow my Running Room clinic program religiously because I didn’t feel experienced enough to make my own tweaks. Because of my ankle sprain, I did have to make a few changes about a month ago. I am following a Hal Higdon training program with only four days of running a week and one day of cross training (although so far I’ve skipped it). It has only one 20-mile run but I’m trying to trust in the program!

I run most of my runs alone, except for when my parents join me. I still keep in touch with my running clinic when I can. We went out for supper on Wednesday as a big group.

I tried gels for the first time. They are disgusting! No one told me!

As my training starts to peak, I have been very tired lately. I am bad at buying groceries, cooking and cleaning. I’m also in a bit of a fog. I can’t even tell you how many little screw-ups I’ve had recently … including getting to the grocery checkout last night and realizing I didn’t have my wallet.

I downloaded an audiobook because I’ve been getting a little bored while running.To tell you the truth, I’ve caught myself talking to myself out loud. The audiobook was necessary.

I’ve gained weight. I knew this would happen but it still sucks. I actually feel like I’m not eating enough food, so I’m not really sure what’s up. I’ll figure it out after the race.

I swear I only had a few bites...

I swear I only had a few bites…

I still haven’t run 20 miles and I’m eager to get there. After that I think I will feel more confident about making it to the start line of the marathon.

That said, it’s starting to feel like more and more of a certainty instead of a possibility. I’ve even started thinking about my outfit!

Be The Best You Can Be

I’ve learned a thing or two during my health-living journey that started three years ago.

One of them is that many motivational quotes are cliché for a reason.

I know, I know, we hear them repeated over and over until we can do nothing but roll our eyes when we see them plastered across Pinterest for the millionth time. I used to be one of those naysayers.

I’ve since left my cynical self behind in the past and learned to embrace those cliché sayings — so many are tried and true mantras that are very helpful. One of those sayings for me is: “be the best you can be.”

Yes, the one-and-only motto of the United States Army. They sound deceiving simple, but those six words help push me to new heights every day while also making me feel confident in my own success.

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Let me explain why.

Running has grown so much in popularity and there are now people participating in the sport with a huge range of abilities.

I read a lot of blogs about runners who have BQed, run piles of miles a week combined with other types of workouts, and are doing amazing things on the race course. I love reading these blogs. I, however, am not-so-fast. And when it comes to other workouts, I can’t even do a pushup. Sometimes that can make me feel discouraged.

I have been told that I should try to improve my times instead of trying to run longer distances. But I prefer to run longer distances instead of going faster … so … what to do?

I had to come up with a plan to make myself feel proud with my progress and put aside the comparison game.

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My plan is simple:

Be the best I can be.

And it works!

There are some people who don’t believe in race participation medals. They believe no one should be taking walk breaks in a race (I run all my long runs with running/walking intervals). They think you shouldn’t show up if you don’t have a runner’s body, and don’t even think of wearing a tutu. For them, the last few corrals shouldn’t even exist.

I don’t hold the same belief.

On the flip side, I also don’t believe people should be entering races without trying at all, just to say they did it. I don’t believe in half-assing things. But the definition of “half-assing” it varies for many people. And none of it has anything to do with time.

I may cross the finish line at the same time as someone who didn’t train, but that has nothing to do with my success. And someone might come in slower than me that faced more obstacles along the way.

I believe we all have our own stories and we should all try our best.

That’s why I never give up on trying hard. I ask myself every day if I’m being the best I can be.

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And in the end, when the finish line finally comes into sight, at least I will know I gave it my all. And that’s all that matters to me.

I don’t normally ask questions at the end of a post but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this: What do you think of participation medals? How do you measure your success in running?

A Long Run After Work

I’m noticing a trend in my training lately. I have trouble on weekday runs, but long runs feel epic and amazing. Given the choice, I am OK with having successful long runs.

This weekend I travelled to Quebec City for a girls trip. I considered not going due to my training, but I am going through something personally right now that requires lots of quality time with friends and family. I decided to go anyway and enjoy myself.

On Friday I got in a quick 5K on the hotel treadmill. My ankle swelled up that night after an intense afternoon of shopping (although it doesn’t swell after 25K … hmmm) so I decided to take a break from running until I returned home.

That meant my long run took place Monday after work. Have you ever done a long run after working all day? It was a first for me. I was pretty nervous — I even caught myself breathing quickly as 4:30 approached and the run started getting closer.

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It was a little wet and muddy out there.

Here are the low points of my run:

1. I had been dealing with GI issues, and wasn’t sure how to eat since I usually run in the morning.

2. I waited for my running partner for way too long and got away an hour later than expected.

3. Seven seconds into the run, my running partner quit.

4. I lost two gels before I even hit the first mile.

5. My phone died before I started so I had no way to make an emergency call.

Even though the odds felt stacked against me, I kept going.

And I’m glad I did, because things only went up from there.

Highlights of the run:

1. While running on a lonely trail I spotted a familiar car up ahead. My dad had come to find me and join me for a run. He always runs ahead of me, so we rarely talk, but it’s comforting to know he is there. He covered 15K with me and I really appreciated it, especially when it got dark.

2. I didn’t wear a coat. The temperature was absolutely perfect.

3. I only had two gels, some Gatorade/water, and two chews and I didn’t feel depleted.

4. I skipped about half of my walk breaks because I really didn’t need them.

5. At the end, I felt like I could keep going, but it was past 9 p.m. and it was time to call it a day. I went home and ordered a pizza because I’m fancy like that.

And lay on the floor for a while pretending to stretch.

And lay on the floor for a while pretending to stretch.

16 miles done. I am inching very close to 20 miles, my longest scheduled long run. I still haven’t made an official decision about the “M” word … but things are still progressing, and I am ever thankful for that.

Have You Ever Called A Cab While Running?

If not for a lucky turn of events, I would have dialed a taxi on my run last night.

Let’s talk about everyone’s favourite topic: the weather.

In March, the average snowfall in my area of New Brunswick is 50 cm. This March we received 129 cm. This is not counting the storms since April started. And in the previous winter months, we also broke record snowfalls.

Our snow has never melted like in some of the more mild areas of the Maritimes. It just keeps accumulating. The snow is up to the top of my parents’ dining room windows.

I pride myself on being a winter runner, but when winter turned to spring and the conditions are still atrocious, I’m starting to get a little tired of all. My ankle injuries are totally exacerbated (and possibly caused) by running in snow for the past six months. I think I’ve run on bare pavement less than five times this season.

I’ve been turning to the treadmill a lot more lately. Last Wednesday I had 7 miles on the schedule. I made it two kilometres before turning back and going inside on the treadmill. But treadmill running is so boring, and last night I had 8 miles to complete, so I decided to try to make a go of it outside.

I knew it was a mistake as soon as I started.

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Not only are the sidewalks covered in snow, but the consistency is like wet sugar. You step in it and it sucks your foot down and then won’t let it go. You have to twist and slip your way through it. My ankles were killing me.

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By the time I hit the halfway point of my run, I knew I couldn’t turn back. There was no way I could run through that snow again to get back to my house. I decided I would call a taxi once I finished 8 miles.

Then I spotted some colourful jackets on the next street over.

My running group!

I’ve been doing the solo thing lately. My physiotherapist told me to avoid hill repeats, which is the Wednesday night tradition for Running Room, but I decided to sneak a few in with the group. They were running on the road and it’s much easier to do that in numbers.

Another good thing — my mother was in this group! After I finished my repeats, I covered two more miles on some side streets. I had to keep stopping when cars came by — there is barely one lane left on most streets downtown due to the encroaching snow banks.

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I ended back at the Running Room where I waited for a drive home with Mom.

When I got home my ankle was a bit purple, but it’s feeling better today.

In short: crappy conditions, very slow and disjointed 8 miles, but I didn’t have to pay for a taxi home. Success!

25 Kilometres On A Saturday

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My longest run to date was one of my favourite to date. I needed it.

According to my new marathon training plan, I was scheduled for 15 miles (24.1 kilometres) this weekend.

I know that personal distance records happen quite often during marathon training, but this was one to celebrate. Due to my training setbacks this winter, I had never broken that half-marathon barrier.

The new plan schedules long runs on Saturday, and because the forecast said “storm” for Sunday morning, I decided to try it out.

I had an out-of-town benefit breakfast to attend in the morning so I didn’t get my sneakers on until noon. About two minutes in, my feet were completely soaked, but the sun was shining and I felt grateful for that. As I made my way down to the river and over the bridge to the south side of the city, I shed my gloves. I had to keep slowing myself down because I felt so energized by the sun and bits of bare pavement.

Once I hit the downtown I met up with my parents who covered 14 kilometres with me. It was nice to have the company. We said goodbye as I crossed back over the river on the walking bridge. From there it was just over five kilometres — and a 1.5-kilometre hill — until home.

My brain was pretty foggy toward the end — don’t forget that I’m slow so I was out there for just over three hours — and I decided to tack a little bit extra on at the end. 25K was my total. My body was quite stiff, but I felt great mentally.

Later on I went out to dinner and then spent the night drinking and dancing with friends. At 2 a.m. I rolled into bed and realized it was probably a good thing that I had that much left in the tank. It was not too long ago that I would be completely out of commission after a 10K run.

It’s still hard to imagine if a marathon will be possible in seven weeks. A marathon is 17 kilometres longer than my big run this weekend! According to the plan, it will be possible, so I’ll keep on pushing.

In the meantime, new distance records are fun.

How I Feel About Running

Blogging has been difficult lately. I know I haven’t been living up to my commitment of documenting the process of making it to the start line of my first full marathon. Maybe because I didn’t think that process would be nearly so bumpy.

Running is still happening. I found a new plan to follow that says I’m still on track for May 25. You can check it out here.

I have a lot of jumbled up feelings about the goal I set out for myself last September when I registered for the Ottawa Marathon. I’m not ready to write about those feelings yet.

Today I just want to write a list of positive ways I feel about running.

1. St. Patrick’s Day marked three years since I went to my first Learn to Run clinic session. I showed up in cotton sweat pants and a Zellers wind breaker that was too short for me. I could barely jog for one minute. I’ve made a lot of progress since then.

2. This winter has been really long (NEWS FLASH) but if I hadn’t run through it, I would probably feel a lot worse than I do now.

3. Most of the time I run without music because I enjoy listening to my breathing. It sounds weird, but hearing myself inhaling and exhaling reminds me that my lungs are strong, my heart is pumping and I’m working my muscles. It’s nice to get out there and use the healthy gifts I have been given.

4. On Sunday I did a 13-mile long run and experimented with eating a bigger breakfast before. As a result, I didn’t feel “run hungover” for the whole day after my run. Success!

5. I may not be the strongest runner, and I may get injured a lot because of it, but I can look at myself in the mirror every day and honestly say that I am giving my all. I never cheat myself. For someone who used to have no will power, that is huge.

I’ll be back soon. Promise.