Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Changing My Gait - A Visual Progression

 I've been talking about changing my gait and the work that I've been doing at the Runner's Academy for the last little bit but I've never actually gotten down to the nitty gritty.  Firstly, what IS the Runner's Academy?

This is their mission statement and vision:  The Runner’s Academy is a health and wellness studio offering Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, Personal Training and Run Technique Coaching. The Runner’s Academy is targeting the running community of all skill levels and ages, by bringing education, treatment and performance training to this specific clientele. We will teach you how to Move better and Run faster!

They offer gait analysis, massage therapy, personal training, acupuncture, Chriopractic therapy AND they even have an Alter G treadmill!  It's a Runner's NirvanaI have the lovely Sasha Gollish to thank for recommending this place to me.  Specifically one of the founders, Dr. Kris Sheppard.   Herein referred to as the Running Wizard.

I had been getting frustrated with my lack of progress in terms of my knees.  I had gotten my glutes and hamstrings firing but I was still having problems.  I was working on adjusting my gait but I couldn't seem to put it all together.  Enter the Running Wizard.

My first visit was an evaluation.  I was ill prepared for it as it was a last minute appointment.  I at least had some shorts but I was wearing a sweater and borrowed running shoes (Sketchers Go Runs, which were AWESOME btw).   I got up on the treadmill and started running.   Kris took some video.  Here's a screen grab of that first run.

screen grab from Runner's Academy Ubersense Video

It doesn't look *that* bad, right?

He gave me some things to work on - specifically high knee drills, really focusing on picking my legs up and upping my cadence.  The goal was to create more of an oval shape with the movement of my legs vs. a tear drop shape and I had to stop over striding.  That was putting more load on my knees than was necessary.  The goal was to have my foot land as close to under my body as possible.

I came prepared for my next appointment.  He immediately had me get up on the treadmill and start running.  This is what I looked like.  Worse than the week before.  Maybe I should have put the Sketchers back on, ha ha.  Kris had me to a bunch of drills involving jumping over hurdles and running with high knees and then he put me back on the treadmill.

screen grab from Runner's Academy Ubersense Video

This is what I looked like after.

screen grab from Runner's Academy Ubersense Video

My foot is landing a bit more under my body, and my leg isn't trailing out the back in the swing phase of my gait.  It's moving in a tighter circle as you can see by the lack of space between my legs.  I'm getting good push off with my leg and my knees are driving forward.   The first few times I started running like this I felt like I was hopping.  It was very bouncy.  But as I've progressed, I feel like there is less bounce and more forward motion.  It still feels a bit odd to me but it's only been a few weeks.  I know I'm definitely using my glutes and hamstrings because they have become perpetually tight.  I can also feel the power I get from them when I'm pushing off.  It feels so much different than the way I used to run. 

You can really see the difference in the videos so I'm going to see if I can get them from Kris.  

My knees no longer hurt when I run so that is a plus.  However, there are all sorts of other small muscles that I guess I wasn't really using before that I certainly feel now.   I usually gauge my effort by heart rate but when you change your gait, especially your cadence, any sort of heart rate based training goes out the window.  You're moving differently than what you're used to, therefore your muscles are using more oxygen, which in turn taxes your aerobic system.  Until your body gets used to these new movement patterns, your heart rate will remain elevated.  I know I'm making progress because with each run my average heart rate seems to be dropping. 

I'm still doing my physio exercises and Kris has given me a few more things to do involving various sized rubber bands.   The big one is used as a resistance band for my high knee drills and my VMO strengthening exercises.  The small one is used to help fire my gluteus medius (also known as your side bum!)



Tomorrow I'm headed back to have my first session with Justin, who is a personal trainer that also works with some of the U of T track team.  He's going to add to my list of things I can do in the gym.  I desperately need some help in this area.   I've been working my upper body and core but neglecting my legs, other than doing the things prescribed by my physio.  So my legs have started to get "soft".  They also feel like they've lost some strength so I'm hoping he can help me get it back.  Stay tuned for an update on that!

I'm looking forward to the day when all of this is history.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that day comes soon.  




Monday, March 23, 2015

The Best Intentions

Ok where did last week go?  I had every intention of posting more than once last week but that never happened.  Life got very busy and I was too mentally exhausted to even think about finishing one of the many draft posts I have tucked away.  Sad I know.  Sometimes even the best intentions are never realized.   Luckily for you guys, I spent a good chunk of time this weekend finishing up a few posts that I will publish this week.  Good thing, because these next few weeks look like they are going to be B-U-S-Y for me.  Multiple shoots, consecutive days.  Enough said.  We'll see how my training goes over the next couple of weeks.

I had a really solid week this past week even with my knees acting up.  I no longer have knee pain when I run, it's only post run and it's a low grade burning pain / soreness / tightness all around my knee cap that I feel when I'm going up or down stairs.  Kris has been trying acupuncture to treat it.  Sometimes it helps, other times, not so much.  I've resorted to icing and taking Aleve a couple of times a week.  I really don't like taking anti inflammatories as they mess with my stomach but I gotta say, I felt like a million bucks after taking them.  Between that and smearing Voltaren all over my kneecaps at night, I've been managing the pain.  It's frustrating because I feel like I'm doing everything right.  I'm retraining my gait so I'm no longer over striding.  I'm landing with my foot under my body so the load has been taken off my knees yet my knees still hurt.  I refuse to accept that this is my new normal.  Not when I have to take drugs to manage the pain.  Not only do my knees hurt but I'm also experiencing sciatic nerve pain on the left side of my body.  I think my left side is so tight, especially in the glute and hip area, that it's putting pressure on my sciatic nerve.  I'm good for about the first 5-6km of a run and then I can feel it starting to flare up.  Maintaining my form when that starts to happen is a real challenge.  I had a bit of meltdown on the phone with G on Thursday because I was just so frustrated.   I get that with healing, there's always going to be peaks and valleys.  I guess I'm currently making my way through a valley right now.  But, at least I'm running so there's that.

I led another Computrainer class on Sunday which was fun.  The regular instructor is back next week so I'll get back on track with my regular Saturday morning run.  Although the group did invite me to come back and ride with them next week since one of the members will be away.  I may actually take them up on that.  Unless of course it's nice out.  Then I may end up going outside and riding.  There's just over one month until Paris to Ancaster and I REALLY should get out on my mountain bike.  YIKES.

Anyway, that's a freak out for another day.  For now let's recap my week.

Monday:  3000m swim in the a.m.  4km run followed by Pilates in the p.m.  More rotation work.  To quote Elyse: Rotation is my friend!  I felt so good at the end of that session, I slept like a baby.  She showed me this shoulder / back extension thing that I can do on the foam roller and OMG it loosened up my shoulders and back so much.  I felt so relaxed afterwards.  I did it again at the gym a few days later.  Sooooo good. 

Tuesday:  60 minutes of strength work, then I was off to the Runner's Academy.  Knees were so damn sore I couldn't really run so instead this happened:


 Did a solid 60 minute ride on the trainer in the p.m. as the thought of running didn't really appeal to me and my sore knees.  And it was super windy out. 

Wednesday:  2200m swim that kicked my butt.  It was all short sprints.  Holy moly.  Wednesday p.m:  8km run.

Thursday:   60 minutes of strength work in the a.m.  60 minute trainer ride in the p.m. at RPM.

Friday:  a glorious, well deserved sleep in.  I had every intention of going to hot yoga after work but at about 3:00 pm that afternoon, I gave up on that idea and went for this instead.  I did lie on the living room floor and stretch after.  That counts for something right?



Saturday:  12.43km run in an hour.  That, my friends, is my longest run this year.  It wasn't pretty but I got it done. My legs certainly felt it by the end of the day.


Sunday: 2400m swim followed by my longest trainer ride this year: Just over 55km in 1h 45 minutes.  Followed by eating everything in sight and encasing my legs in compression tights.


This has been my biggest week of training in a while at 11 hours 32 minutes.  I'm hoping to build on that this week with a bit more running and some more time in the saddle.

How was your week of training?  Who raced this past weekend?








Monday, March 16, 2015

A Flurry of Registrations

I had every intention of getting another post out last week but work and life got the better of me.  It didn't stop me from hitting the registration button on a few races though.  Not the "thing" I alluded to last week, that's still simmering on the back burner.  I did, however, commit to a few late season events and another event in early April.  Surprisingly G was the one who convinced me to do the one in April.  It will be his first running race in about 2 years, ha ha.  We've signed up to do the Harry's Spring Run Off 8km.  I also signed up for the Scotia Half in October because I had a free entry from working one of the Aid Stations last year.  So that's two running races I've committed to.  This next one was a bit of a departure for me but given that I'm doing one bike race this year, I figured this wasn't going to be too much of a stretch.  I will have to put some serious time in the saddle though.  I've signed up to do the Epic Tour of Halton 125km with my pals David B & David L.  Here on in referred to as D Squared, ha.  This may also mean I'll need a new road bike, ha ha.

I've been slowly ramping up my running.  My knees are still bothering me a bit but the pain is somewhat different.  Dr. Sheppard thinks that the nerves around my knee caps are hyper sensitive so the goal now is to calm everything down.  He's been doing acupuncture on my knees which is incredibly uncomfortable given there isn't really any fat around my knee caps.  But, it seems to be working so I'll suck it up.   My gait has also changed a lot which is taxing other leg muscles and elevating my heart rate to a much higher zone than what it would normally be for the pace I'm running.  It seems to be getting better though so that means I'm adapting.  I actually managed to run 10km on Saturday, which is my first double digit run in about 6 weeks!  I was pretty pumped about that.


I also led my first ever Computrainer class on Saturday.  THAT was so much fun.  Probably because I knew pretty much everyone in the class.  I also didn't have to worry about figuring out a workout as that was already pre programmed.  I just had to explain the workout, encourage folks, engage them in some healthy competition and make sure they had water, towels etc.  I brought a bag of assorted gels and other training nutrition and passed them out mid workout.  I have so much stuff at home and I went and bought a few extras with some of my winnings from the Frosty 5km.  That went over well.  There is a chance I may lead it again this coming Saturday, we'll see.



I had a really busy week at work this week but I still managed to get a few good workouts in, even with a 12 hour shoot day on the Thursday.   This is how my week rolled out.

Monday:  3100m swim
Tuesday:  60 minutes strength & physio work
Wednesday:  2100m swim in the a.m.  7.6km run in the p.m.
Thursday:  60 minute ride after work - AFTER a 5:15 am call time and 12 hour shoot day. Woohoo!

Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  10km run
Sunday:  1h 15 minute early morning ride, followed by a 2700m swim.




Total time:  7h 29 minutes.  Not bad for a busy week!

I've finally managed to figure out a plan for the next few weeks in terms of building up my running.  Now I just need to stick to it!

How was your week of workouts?  Who raced this weekend?



Monday, March 9, 2015

Things Are Afoot....

Well, THAT weekend blew by.  Guess that's what happens when you decide to celebrate your birthday for the entire weekend, ha.  Friday night G and I went to see the musical, Once (SO amazing).   I had a rather lazy Saturday morning, G had to go out for Pickering for 9 am so I lazed about until about 9:30 and figured I'd better get my butt out the door and do my run as I wanted to hit up a yoga class as well.  Saturday night we went out for dinner with a couple of friends.  They stopped by our place for some drinks first.  My friend Kiki went out west and picked this up for me so of course we had to crack it open.



Needless to say it was a late night.  The clocks springing forward made it an even later night.  I dragged my butt for most of yesterday.  I still managed a good hard bike ride.  And then I had an excruciatingly painful massage that afternoon that totally wiped me out.

But that means my legs should be good to go to start building up my mileage again.  Of course this means that I've been thinking about some longer distance races.  I'm not going to spill the beans just yet.  I'm going to see how my running progresses over the next couple of weeks before I commit to anything.  But, I'm happy to say that things are definitely afoot....and that's where I'm going to leave it for now, ha ha.

Anyway, I got a really solid week of training in which is good as this week will probably be pretty sparse since I'm on location on Thursday and Friday.  Both of which are going to be long days.  So I've kind of written them off for doing anything.   This is how last week went down:

Monday:  Swim 2600m
Tuesday:  70 minute strength workout
Wednesday:  am:  6km run pm:  45 minute trainer ride
Thursday:  1h and 40 minutes of physio, weights, strength work + gait work.  This was split between the gym and the Runner's Academy.  I got my butt kicked at the Runner's Academy.  I was totally sweaty by the time I finished my appointment.  It was awesome.
Friday:  2550m swim
Saturday:  7.3km run then 60 minutes of hot yoga.  Boy did I ever need that.
Sunday:  1h 27 minute ride, with 2x20 minutes at 150 watts + 5 minutes at 200+ watts.  Holy jello legs.

Total time:  8h 58 minutes.  Yup, it was a big week.

How was your week of workouts?  







Friday, March 6, 2015

Mind=Blown: The Frosty 5km

You know it's been a brutally cold winter when you think that a high of -5 is balmy.  I have news for you.  That's still flipping cold.  Especially when there's a little bit of wind.  That was the forecast for Sunday's Frosty 5km.  Not having run outside much these last few weeks (or at all really), I was totally unsure what to wear.  I knew that my Zoot jacket would be too heavy.  So I thought layers would be a good idea.  As an afterthought I packed my 2XU wind blocker vest.  Best decision ever.  That outfit below was promptly changed when I went outside race morning, ha.


I contemplated a heavier long sleeve and then thought "Nah", I'll be fine.  Famous last words.  But as usual I'm getting ahead of myself. 

I signed up for this race in January when my knees seemed to be getting better.  I was hopeful I was on the mend.  But then things started to seem to be regressing and I got frustrated so I stopped running regularly and went back to once a week.  If that.  Although when we were away I ran three times.  I couldn't pass that hot weather up.  I had good intentions of doing speed work and I did do a few harder paced runs.  But mostly I stuck to riding my bike, swimming and doing my physio exercises.  I figured I was only getting so far with the physio work, I needed a second opinion.  I started going to the Runners Academy to work on retraining my gait - there will definitely be a post about this as things progress.  At my most recent appointment, last Thursday, three days before the race, we actually got down to doing some drills and treadmill work.  This work involved me lifting me knees more and really using my calves to push up.  They were a bit sore after but not too bad.  I stretched when I got to work and then foam rolled them when I got home.  When I got up on Friday they were tender and sore and by the end of the day they were killing me.  Saturday was even worse.  I went to the pool to try and swim out some of the soreness and then I spent the rest of the day in compression socks.  I was really worried I might not be able to run.

Sunday morning I got up and my calves were still tender to the touch.  Not as bad as the day before, thankfully.  I decided I should go out and test my legs.  So I got dressed, laced up and headed out the door.  Amazingly, once I got going, they felt ok.  My gait was slightly altered but I figured with a good warm up, I should probably be ok.  I got myself sorted, ate my breakfast and hit the road.  It only took me about 30 minutes to get to Burlington so I parked in the usual lot, sat in the car and enjoyed my coffee, then opted to make my way to the Performing Arts Building to drop off my bag.  I hung out in there for as long as possible then went out and did a warm up run.  It was then that I realized just how bloody cold it was and how inappropriately dressed I was.  Awesome.  It was still really early so I made my way over to the Waterfront Hotel where the start of the 5km was and went inside to get warm and use the facilities.  I hung out in there until there was about 10 minutes until the start then I went out and did a bit more running and some drills.

I wedged myself into the crowd and positioned myself a little bit towards the front of the crowd.  I had ZERO expectations for this race, as I typically do given that it's the first race of the year.  This was going to be a benchmark for me to see just how much work I had to do to break 20 minutes for a 5km.  I was thinking that given my lack of proper speed work, I'd probably come in between 21-22 minutes.  Anything faster than that was going to be a massive bonus. 

The race start got delayed by two minutes so I had to continue my jumping up and down.  My arms were cold.  As were my hands.  I had gloves on but clearly they weren't warm enough.  I kept blowing into my hands, hoping that once I started running, my hands would warm up.  Finally they started the countdown and we were off.

There were a few women in front of me, a couple of which took off like a shot.  There was no way I'd catch them.  But, there were a few others that were just slightly out in front of me.  A 5km is about pushing as hard as you can for as long as you can.  I am notorious for going out too fast in events like this and this was no exception.  I caught one of the ladies within the first half km.  When I hit the first kilometer mark I look at my watch and saw 3:51.  Had I not been gasping for air I would have said WTF?   I didn't think I'd be able to maintain that but I was sure as heck going to try. I caught the other two ladies just before the 2km mark.  My 2km split was 4:01.  That was still way faster than I thought I'd be.

I could see the turnaround up ahead.  The lead girl had already gone around it and was making her way back just as I hit the 2km mark.  She was FAST.   At that point I realized that I was in 3rd place.  Say What?  Certainly not what I expected.  Now I just had to hang on to it.  I was really starting to hurt as I made my way towards the 3km mark and I thought for sure that I was slowing down.  I heard my Garmin beep and I looked down to see 4:00 on the nose.  Holy crap.  I had no idea where this was coming from, other than perhaps my newly recruited glutes, but I was happy. 

At the turnaround we started running into a slight headwind.  It wasn't horrible but it was cold.  By 3km my hands were frozen, my nose was running like a tap and my lungs were burning.  I just wanted to be done.  I remember telling myself that I only had about 8 minutes left if I didn't fall apart.  I could feel my form starting to get really sloppy and I figured this next km wasn't going to be pretty.  I heard someone call my name and I saw Brenda from the Toronto Triathlon Club.  I was nice to see a familiar face!  I was really hurting when I saw her so it took my mind off the pain for a minute.  As I got closer to the 4km mark, I could feel the wheels slowly falling off the wagon.  My legs were fatiguing.  Sure enough, that km was 4:07.  The worst part was that I knew there was a small hill and the false flat up to the finish line in the last km.  I thought for sure I'd totally cave.  But I somehow found another gear and pushed a bit harder.  I heard footsteps behind me and glanced to my left to see a guy catch me and pass me.  Then another one.  As long as it wasn't a woman, I was happy.

I rounded the corner towards the finish line, right behind them.  They pulled away up the incline and it took everything I had to push my body towards the finish line.  I could see the clock counting down to 20 minutes.  I thought for a second I might actually make it.  Then I thought I might actually have a PR.  I heard Kevin McKinnon announce my name, followed by "and she'll take the overall Masters Female win".

Excuse me?

I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin.  20:09.  Two seconds off my current 5km PR.  Apart from wanting to barf, I was completely gobsmacked. 

I got my medal and immediately went to get my jacket.  I was FROZEN.  While I was getting warmed up they posted the results so I went over to take a look.  Apparently my Garmin was wrong.  I was actually 20:07.  Which is my current 5km PR that I set in August last year.   It's gotta be the glutes, man.  It's gotta be. 


Mind=Blown.  Once again.  This has given me so much hope for a stellar year of racing once I actually get back to proper training.  The fact that I did this with NO speed work means that a sub 20 minute 5km is in my future.  It's totally going to happen. I'm so close I can almost taste it. 


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Improving Your Swim

It's the first Tuesday of the month, and in addition to it being Tri Talk Tuesday, it's also my birthday!  YAY!  I'm quickly getting closer to being firmly ensconced in my mid 40's.  I certainly don't feel like it most days and apparently I don't act or look like it either.   I'm totally ok with that, ha.

Anyway, on with the business of today's post.  I'm linking up with my absolutely lovely fellow Tri Talk Tuesday ladies, Courtney and Cynthia to talk about my least favourite of the three sports; the swim, and how you can improve it.


Of the three sports, I'd have to argue that swimming is the most technical.  Moving efficiently through water is much more difficult than moving efficiently through air.  At least that's been my experience.  I've had to put in a fair bit of work to improve my swim, most of it focused on technique.  In order to really improve you have to understand what your body is doing (or NOT doing) in the water.  So, without further ado, here are 3 tips to help you improve your swim stroke.

1. Video Analysis with a swim coach.

Yes, this is probably going to be pricey ($100++) but it will be worth it.  Swimming is all technique so to have someone point out what you're doing wrong and show you how to correct it is one of the best ways to improve.   This won't be an overnight fix, it will take some time and effort as you'll have to practice what you learn.   If you don't want to spend the money, you could have a friend video tape you and compare it to video of an efficient swimmer, like Andy Potts.   You should be able to see what you're doing differently and work on correcting it in the water.  

2.  Swim with a Group

I think this applies to all three sports but I found it especially helpful with swimming.  If you can, join a Masters swim group.  Or a triathlon swim group.  Swimming with other people gets you comfortable with having people around you - very important in the swim start of a triathlon.  I've also found that I push myself that much harder when I'm swimming with others than I do when I'm swimming on my own.   I also didn't have to think about my workouts, they would be written up and posted on the board so all I had to do was swim.  I improved a lot when I started swimming with a Masters group.



3.  Mix it up.

Don't just swim freestyle because that's what you're going to swim in the race.  Learn some other strokes and work them into your swimming.  I've found that by learning fly and doing it from time to time really helped with my freestyle breathing as well as pull strength.  Doing other strokes also gives your muscles a bit of a break from the repetitive motion of constant freestyle.  I make a point of doing back stroke and breast stroke during my warm up and cool down.  Sometimes my coach actually has us doing them in the workout. 

Are there any other tips you'd add to this?  What's worked for you?  



 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Spring Is Around the Corner!

First off, I want to say Thank You to everyone for your condolences regarding my Aunt.  I really appreciate it.  It was a tough week, that's for sure.

Secondly, Oh HELLO MARCH.  I can't believe it's here already.  I ran my first race of the season yesterday (recap to come) and tomorrow is my birthday.   Yup.  44 here I come.  Top end of my age bracket this year.  FUN!  Now that March is here, spring is literally just around the corner!  The temperatures have even started to rise.  Yesterday was a balmy -7 at the start of the race. 

Speaking of March, tomorrow is the first Tuesday of the month so that means Tri Talk Tuesday is back.  Tomorrow we're talking about the swim and how to improve it so if the swim is where you struggle, you're not going to want to miss it!

This wasn't a crazy busy weekend so I'm not really sure where the time went.  We went out with some friends on Friday night and then had a lazy Saturday morning.  I picked up my race kit from my friend David and then dragged my butt to the gym to go for a swim since I hadn't been almost all week.  I got in 2500m, mostly with fins to try and stretch out my super sore calves.  It kind of helped but I think I really hammered the crap out of them on Thursday.  I've started going to the Runner's Academy to continue working on my knee issues.  The focus now is on retraining my gait.  There will probably be a pretty massive post on this at some point soon.  Anyway, Saturday afternoon just seemed to fly by and then Saturday evening we went over to a friends place to hang out for bit.  They have a huge rink in their backyard so G brought his skates and joined in a game of 3 on 3.  It was fun to watch. 




Yesterday most of my day was spent traveling to and from the race as it was out in Burlington and I stuck around after the 5km to cheer on my friends and athletes that were running the half.  When I got home, I still had a ton of energy so I got on the bike for an easy spin.  Well, really it was more so I could watch Vikings, ha ha.  Anyway, this is how my week went down.

Monday:  2500m swim in the a.m.  Pilates in the p.m.  That was such a great workout.  Elyse took my MRI results to her mentor for some recommendations on the best things to do and my next few sessions with her are going to be all about rotation.  I said she was going to turn me into a whirling dervish and we had a good laugh about that. 

Tuesday:  50 minutes of strength & mobility work + 20 minutes on the treadmill.

Wednesday:  60 minute trainer ride at 70.3 race pace.  THAT was awesome. 

Thursday:  60 minutes of strength & mobility work in the a.m., 35 minute ride in the p.m.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday: 2500m swim

Sunday:  2km warm up, 5km race, 45 minute easy spin on the trainer.

Total time:  7h 27 minutes

Because it's my birthday week, I get a free class at Moksha Yoga so I'm going to make a point of getting to that, hopefully on Saturday.  I really need to stretch out my legs.  Especially now that I've been told to start increasing my run mileage.  YEAH!  That was the best news I had all last week.  So of course, I automatically start thinking about what races I want to do, ha ha.  I don't think I'll be ready for an early May half marathon but we'll see.  I have two athletes running the Mississauga full and one running the half so I was going to be there anyway....we'll see how things go. 

How was your week of workouts?  Did you race this weekend?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Saying Goodbye

I think every family has someone in it that is the pillar, the glue that holds it together.   In my family, that would be my Auntie Carol.   On Tuesday this week, we lost that pillar.  We knew it was coming, however it came much quicker than any of us had expected.  Two days later I'm still trying to process everything. 

My Aunt was the embodiment of class and grace.  She always looked fabulous and she was always the life of the party, no matter whose party it was.   If there was good music on (especially if it was Hot, Hot, Hot) Auntie Carol would be up and dancing.  No one was allowed to sit down and be a wallflower if she had anything to say about it.  She was the one out on the dance floor getting the party started, usually with a conga line, pulling all of us young 'uns out of our seats.  You couldn't say no to Auntie Carol, nor did you really want to.  Her enthusiasm was infectious.

She always took a keen interest in my athletic endeavors.  Her first battle with cancer inspired me to enter my first ever race - the CIBC Run for The Cure.  That race sealed the deal for me and running.  I was officially addicted.  When I went on to do my first Ironman, I raised funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, with her and my two grandmothers in my thoughts.  She was always so supportive and encouraging, always checking in to see how training was going.  

It's never easy losing someone you love, even if you know it's coming.   As G so aptly put it, we are getting to the stage in our lives where we're going to start losing people.  He's right.  Cancer has taken 3 people from my life in the last 6 months.  Two of them were my age.  It's sad but it's a fact of life.  I know Auntie Carol wouldn't want me to sit around crying - I've done a lot of that already - she'd want me to remember the good times.   It's easier said than done but I'm going to do my best.  My sister and I were chatting the other night and we both feel pretty lucky to have had someone like Auntie Carol in our lives. 


I'm not normally a betting woman but in this case I'll bet you anything that my Aunt is leading a conga line up to St. Peter's Gates.  Heaven's not going to know what hit it, but I can bet you it will be a much more lively place with her there.



R.I.P   Carol Kolb, December 2, 1945 - February 24th, 2015.    You will be missed.



Monday, February 23, 2015

Winter Blahs

I know I just went away, but man, that seems so darn long ago.  This past week back really wore me down.  Bone chilling temperatures, more snow and grey skies really took the wind out of my sails.  It's times like this when I wish we lived somewhere warmer, somewhere that didn't get snow.  Maybe one day.  But for now, I've got to suck it up and deal with it.

At least my first week back from holidays was a short week.  Usually that means it's a little nuts but thankfully that wasn't the case.  I was able to ease back into my work week without having to jump in with both feet.

I did the same thing with my workouts.  Normally I would have jumped right back into training but whatever I did to the back of my knee / calf over the holiday was still bothering me so I opted to not run for most of the week.  Riding was better.  There was still some pain but it wasn't too bad.  Apparently I've probably aggravated my Baker's Cyst because I hyper extended my knee while playing in the surf.  Awesome.  I had a massage on Friday and it seems to be better.  I've been icing it as well so that has helped.  I still managed to get a solid week of activity in.

Monday:  40 minute ride
Tuesday:  60 minutes of strength work
Wednesday:  2550m swim in the a.m. 50 minute trainer ride in the p.m.
Thursday:  60 minutes of strength work in a.m.  60 minute computrainer ride at RPM in the p.m.   Thursday nights at RPM are Time Trial nights so if you're looking for a little extra push in your training, this is for you.   I know some of you are thinking - why would you go and ride there when you have a computrainer in your basement?  Well, I'm learning how to use the Multi-Rider computrainer software that they have at RPM so I can eventually lead some of the Thursday night TT classes.  Yup, you read that correctly.  Mrs. "I get freaked out speaking to groups of people", is going to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers and lead them through a workout.  GULP.   But hey, if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you, right?


Friday:  2500m swim
Saturday:  5.5km slog in the snow.  I shouldn't have even bothered, it was so slippery.  But I did get some pretty pictures.



Sunday:  3200m swim, 1h 10 minute computrainer ride.   Which was fueled almost entirely by a huge coffee.

Total time:  8h 31m.  That should help get rid of the last couple of holiday lbs, ha ha. 

This weekend marks the first race on my 2015 calendar - the Frosty 5km.  Normally I'd be running the half but my knee issues kept me from committing to any early season long distance events.  I don't really have any expectations for this race as I'm not really sure what my body is capable of right now.  I haven't been doing any real speed work so I'm thinking I'll probably be around the 22 minute mark for 5km.  Maybe faster if it's not too cold.  Who knows. 

I have several athletes racing this weekend too.  Nicole & Chris will be doing The Chilly Half so I'll be there to cheer them on after I finish my 5km and Christina is off to Phoenix to kick some butt.  I can't wait to see how everyone does! 

Anyone else getting ready for their first race of the season? 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Where Did the Time Go? Happy Blogiversary!

In the FOUR (yes, four) years I've been writing this blog, this is the FIRST time I've actually "celebrated" my Blogiversary!  I don't have any crazy giveaway or anything planned, just a short little retrospective of my 4 years on the Interwebz.  

I started this blog to chronicle my journey to running a sub 1:40 half marathon just after turning 40.  I was coming out of a pretty dark period in my life and was just starting to get back into running in a big way.  It was originally called the 1:40 at 40.  I hit that goal (smashed it actually) and contemplated stopping the blog.  But people seemed to like it and I enjoy writing so, I figured the next logical step would be a rename.  That was how Blisters and Black Toenails came to be.

With the name change came a lot more traffic.  Obviously the title strikes a chord with most runners, ha ha.  Over the years I've written countless race recaps, gear reviews, some pieces on training and specific workouts as well as a few more introspective and dare I say, "artistic" pieces.  It's something I've come to really enjoy and it never feels like work, which is a good thing!  


The best part of all of this Blog business are the relationships I've built and the people I've met because of it.  If I hadn't opted to put myself out there, I can pretty much guarantee I wouldn't have met half the people I interact with now.  The internet has made this great big world of ours a much smaller place, easily connecting people with similar interests with the click of a mouse.  As much as people slag technology and the internet, I can honestly say that it's added a whole new dimension to my life.  If it wasn't for the internet, I know I wouldn't be coaching half the people I'm coaching.

Looking back over the last four years of my life,  I'm really proud of what I've accomplished.  When I started this blog, I never imagined that I'd be capable of doing some of the things that I've done (a marathon P.R at Boston that STILL has me gobsmacked).  I think writing this blog has definitely helped to keep me focused and motivated and as long as I continue to swim, bike & run, I will continue to write about it.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my ramblings.  Here's hoping that one day our paths may cross in real life.  In the meantime, I'm going to go get myself a cupcake to celebrate!