It’s a New Year

I finished up 2016 with 823km under my belt. My first full year of running, and quite the improvement over my 168km total for 2015!

My longest single run for 2016 was 21.2km, and I clocked the most kilometres during March, April, and December – just over 100km in those months!

The winter season arrived but that didn’t hold me back from continuing with my training. I had all my layers ready, and my best purchase ever was the IceSpikes I got for my shoes.

The IceSpikes allow me to stomp my way through the iciest of conditions without slipping, it’s amazing! (There is nothing more frustrating than having to waddle your way through a winter run!)

Then for Christmas we got a treadmill – which was the best surprise ever! This allowed me to squeeze in quick runs at any time of day over the busy holiday season – and probably the only way I would have been able to keep up with my training over Christmas/New Years!

Because I was able to keep up with my training, I decided to sign up for my first winter race in January: 10k at the Richmond Road Races. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being able to PR my 10k time in the winter, but I did!! Such an amazing feeling!

My training on the treadmill shows me running at a much slower pace than when I’m outside on the roads, despite the fact that it feels like a much harder workout. I sweat buckets working out on the treadmill! But all those indoor runs must’ve done some good after all. I don’t take 10:1 walking breaks on the treadmill, so I definitely noticed an improvement in my endurance, which may have been the key factor to my faster race time.

Another challenge that I decided to take part in was Run Ottawa’s January run streak, where we run every day for the entire month of January.

Because I have the treadmill now, I knew hopping on for a quick 1 mile run those days in between training sessions would be easy for me.

I amazed myself by being able to hang on to my running streak for those first three weeks ..but then was hit hard by an unexpected bout of depression.

I could feel it coming on in the weeks prior, but because there was always so much going on I would try to distract myself with the next task or activity. And at night I would blast tv shows into my head until I fell asleep so that I didn’t have a chance to think too much and trigger that downwards spiral. Every morning I would wake up with a start, as if someone had sent a current of electricity through my heart. Just a pure jolt of anxiety to start my day. It was inevitable.. Each day I became more and more anxious and it became harder to repress. I stopped being able to sleep and even eat, and dropped a good 20 pounds in the span of a few weeks. Then one day I woke up with the darkest of thoughts swirling around in my head, and I knew I was done fighting. I had reached my absolute lowest point.

The next couple of weeks are a blur for me as I immediately fell ill with a fever too, which lasted for a few days, then developed into bronchitis; lots of sleeping, lots of blasting sounds into my head so that I wouldn’t have the chance to think or feel. I went back on medication to help bring me back, but it didn’t feel like anything was helping this time around. I had never hit such a low like this before. And I was wracked with such guilt and shame because all I could do was sleep and lie in bed for days on end.

I don’t know how many other runners out there also suffer from debilitating mental health issues.. How you manage it and how it impacts your training. But for me I was at the point where I was just done and couldn’t picture myself getting back into running ever again. Having just become a member of Run Ottawa’s Team Awesome, My Peak Challenge, and Oiselle Volée, I felt like I had failed and let everyone down. I had also signed up for the full marathon clinic at the Running Room and had already missed the first two weeks of training. I felt like I was in way over my head and should probably back out of everything.

Fast forward to today and I’m doing a lot better than I was before. Though I’m taking on a whole lot less than I had been previously. Trying to keep myself from getting too overwhelmed; trying to stay stable. My life is very simple these days.

I did venture out to join my marathon clinic for a run yesterday evening, however. I quite enjoyed the outing, though I still feel incredibly terrified by this challenge I’ve set for myself – marathon ready by June when I’ve only run a half marathon distance once?!? But I guess it doesn’t hurt to try and see how long I can keep up, while at the same time benefiting from the training.

I feel my enthusiasm for running coming back, and so I’m just going to take things one day at a time.


My First Half Marathon!

I suppose this all started with me just needing a good run to clear my head, even if only temporarily.

I got out and the weather was amazing: 15°C and sunny – not your typical weather for November in Ottawa! So I decided to go off on a little adventure, and headed to the Prescott-Russell Trail. Usually I just run a short part of it and then continue on through the neighbourhood. But this time I decided to stay and do my whole run on the trail. It was nice and quiet, and my legs felt good. Realizing I could certainly benefit from a little pick-me-up, I decided to try again for that 21.1km goal!

I had to laugh at how ill-prepared I had been for this run once I got into it. I mean, it was only 2km in that my bluetooth headphones died, leaving me with nothing but silence and the company of my own thoughts for the duration of my run. I didn’t think to bring gels or sustenance of any sort, but had thankfully eaten a piece of toast with peanut butter before heading out!

I wasted time taking selfies, and even stopped to catch a frog!

Then I used my precious limited amount of water to wash my hands afterwards! Not preparing for a half marathon meant that I only had my two little bottles on me instead of a full hydration pack. So I was kicking myself when I ran out of water with over 6km of running left to go. But by then I was determined this was going to be the day! I needed this! I had to complete this run!

I managed to make a good run of it until about 16km, at which point I realized that I still had a whole 5k ahead of me – and it wasn’t that long ago that 5ks used to be my entire run! I started to feel my legs weaken as I hit uncharted running distances.

I debated quitting as I continued my run through the neighbourhood, close to home. I had been out of the house a long time, I was thirsty, lacking confidence, and feeling hot in my long sleeved shirt. I had every reason to give up, but sheer determination kept me going. I was going to finish 21.1 kilometres even if I had to walk the last 5! 😉

And it all paid off. What an amazing feeling it was to see that I had completed a half marathon all on my own! So proud! In disbelief! And so excited to share my story – You guys won’t believe what I did today!!!

I definitely have to dedicate this momentous run in memory of Chris. ❤

Thinking about it, I’m glad that I did my first half marathon on my own rather than in a race. It was a difficult challenge that I wasn’t too sure I could complete (as I had tried on my runs a couple of times before). Running on my own also meant that I could pace myself and take as many walking breaks as I needed without feeling any pressure to speed up.

That being said, today the Army Run opened up a special discounted registration for next year’s race and I did just sign up to do the half marathon – eeek!

So now I focus on working towards building up my strength, stamina, and endurance, and hopefully be ready for my first half marathon race 317 days from now! 😉

9 Run Run

Somewhere in the back my mind I thought that maybe I could finish out the running season with a half-marathon. I don’t know what form of logic drew me to this conclusion. I had spent the last half of summer training specifically for faster 5k races, and so I hadn’t been getting as much distance training in – save for a couple sad attempts at exceeding 16k without dying. Then after the Army Run I caught the flu, which had me completely non-functional for a good 8 days. That left me with approximately 15 days to get my legs used to running again, and then adding on the extra distance training to tackle my first ever 21.1k.

Yeah, should be a piece of cake.

I did manage to work my way back up to 12k, but every run felt like I was slogging my way through oatmeal. My running times took a huge hit and it was like I was learning how to run all over again. I debated just going for the half marathon anyway, for the fun of it, because I am way too enthusiastic about new accomplishments. But ultimately I decided to wait until my training was there so that it wouldn’t be like, “Yeah I finished a half marathon! Totally took me 4 hours, but I did it! Next stop, the hospital!”

Even signing up for the 10k, I didn’t expect this to be a PB race for me due to the recent setbacks in my training. So I went out with the goal of just having fun. The thrill of one last race before winter sets in!

Stittsville is.. a heck of a long way out from where I live. In Friday’s rush hour it was even worse. In hindsight, I should probably have waited until the actual day of the race to collect my bib for this one, as it was a lot of driving for me two days in a row. Particularly when I am so needed here at home that my every outing causes a huge inconvenience to our household.

The day of the race I woke up before my alarm, around 6am, and was out of the house just after 7. I wanted to be sure to give myself a good couple of hours to drive into town, find good parking, make my way to the race grounds, use the porta-potty, and then navigate my way to the starting line. As somebody who is late for everything, I was pretty pleased with myself! 😉

As luck would have it, the highway was smooth sailing! And when I arrived there were plenty of places from which I could choose to park. I chose the lot at Bradley’s Insurance, which had lots of space and only 3 other cars parked there at the time. I then had a good half-hour to relax and eat a yogurt before I made the arduous 260 metre walk to Village Square Park. 😉 I blasted the heat, as it was currently only 2°C, and peeled off one of the two jackets I was wearing over my tank top and long-sleeved technical tee. (Not a cold-weather person.)

After an impromptu selfie for Instagram, it was time to make my way out to the race grounds! The walk only took a minute, and there wasn’t much of a wait for the porta-potties either (I don’t drink before races but somehow always have to pee), it was great! I had about 25 minutes until the race began, and so I followed the crowd heading along a path through the wilderness, which lead me to the starting line.

As I said, I was not expecting exceptional greatness from myself this race, and so I decided to give it my all, but to also have fun with it.

Here’s a photo that was taken of me recording video on my phone when we left the starting line, haha!

2016-10-15 | 2016 9RUNRUN

I took random selfies and didn’t really focus too much on my watch. For that reason I ended up missing my first walking break after 10 minutes, but was able to keep going until the next one. When I felt like I was going too fast I would find people running at a steady manageable pace and just run behind them. Even with my 10:1 walking breaks I would keep catching up to the same groups of people running continuous!

Zoomphoto is a great Canadian-based photography company that I would highly recommend for all races! Their photographers were so nice, cheering on the runners and even calling out names as they caught a glimpse of our bibs. They definitely brought a smile to my face during this race, and captured many great shots that we will treasure forever!

During the last 4 kilometres of the race I was amazed when I looked down at my watch to see that I was maintaining a 6:30min/km pace! It was at this point I decided to really push myself/maintain this to the finish – even though the 55 minute, 1 hour, and 1:10 finish time pace bunnies had already long since gone by.

Occasionally I would need extra walking breaks, but I didn’t linger in them. And when I saw the finish line I just went for it with a burst of energy that came out of who knows where!! I couldn’t even feel my legs and just hoped I wouldn’t fall on my face crossing the finish line, haha!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when my Garmin congratulated me on my new record-breaking 10k (which still turned out to be a bit slower than the actual chip time because I had started it before crossing the official start line). A police officer placed the giant medal around my neck. I was beaming. Never in a million years did I expect to run my best 10k that day!

And what a great race! I would love to do it again next year! ..However, I would also really love to do the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as well, which many of my online running buddies from Run Ottawa’s Team Awesome attended. Unfortunately STWM and 9RunRun fell on the same weekend this year, which may mean they will again next year.. I just have a feeling that all of these big races are going to be extra special next year in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, and so just this once I would love to be a part of all that excitement if I can!

2016-10-15 | 2016 9RUNRUN