Monday, October 27, 2014

WTP Invades Niagara Falls & A Weekly Recap!

Wow.  Just.  Wow.  What a weekend.  I don't know if I could have jammed anything else into it if I tried.  After a long-ish morning bike ride on Saturday morning, G and I headed out to Niagara Falls with our run club for the Niagara Falls International Marathon festivities.  There were over 30 of us that went with about 20 of us running in either the 5, 10, half or full.   Our goal was to make sure we were there by 4:00 pm at the latest so we could participate in the #PhatAssChallenge.  That, my friends, will be a post on it's own.  I will say one thing:  Take the Amazing Race and add costumes.  Kind of.

But like I said, it deserves it's own post.  Complete with pictures of course.

Time to get on with the festivities of the week.  I'm having good days and bad days when it comes to my knees.  I haven't stopped running completely, right now it's only once, maybe twice a week and it's short.   I'm ok with that.  I don't want to push things.  It's still early days in the rehab process so I know that some days will be better than others and I can't let the "bad" ones get to me.  This week was probably about 50/50 and was saved from being even worse by my PT and the application of "Miracle Tape" on Thursday, which I kept on my knees until last night. 
My short tan is finally gone. 
Monday:  2550m swim.
Tuesday:  4km run on the treadmill, 70 minutes strength & mobility in the a.m., 24km on the computrainer in the p.m.
Wednesday:  2500m swim.  I actually felt really good today!
Thursday:  90 minutes strength & mobility.  Physio in p.m.
Friday:  Slept in
Saturday:  58km bike ride.  I could have ridden all day, it was awesome out.  It was probably one of the last rides we'll get to do outside in all the fall colours.  And it might have been the last ride I get to do with my friend Heather before she moves to B.C.  *Sad face* I shouldn't be allowed to take group selfies as I clearly don't know how to get everyone in the frame.  #SelfieFail

Sunday:  Niagara 5km.

Total: 7h 56 minutes. Pretty darn good.

I did spend a large part of the morning yesterday jumping up and down at the finish line of the Niagara Half.  It was so much fun cheering on the folks from my run group. There were a few PR's in the group, but the one that made me the happiest was my friend Bob, whom I've coached for the last 3 months.  He's been trying to break 1:44 and yesterday he came in at 1:42:27 and he finished strong.  He ran a smart race, paced himself well and had enough in his legs to pick it up the last 5km.  That was the highlight of my weekend for sure.  I saw him with about 500m to go, knew that he was going to do it and just about lost my mind.  

I also met up with two Facebook / Instagram pals in real life (Hi Shelley & Nicole!), which was a pleasure to say the least.  Speaking of Social Media, I had the funniest thing happen yesterday while we were spectating.  G and I were standing about 500m from the finish line cheering people on when this guy ran by, looked at me, pointed and said "Instagram!"  I just about died.  G couldn't stop laughing.  Oh the magic of the Interwebz once again.  Ian, if you're reading this, it was a pleasure to "meet" you and congrats on a fantastic race. 

Everybody had a blast this weekend and we're already thinking about 2015 and how we can make it bigger and better.

Anyone else race this weekend?  


Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Five: Reasons To Run a 5km

TGIF Gang!!! 

Once again I'm linking up with the Friday Five ladies, Courtney, Cynthia & Mar.  This week's theme is Five Reasons to Race.  It could be racing in general, or racing a specific distance or event.  I was going to post about 5 reasons to race but then figured since I'm racing a 5km this weekend, I'd chat about that.  One reason per kilometer.  Clever, right?

Should I be racing?  Well, that's probably another post altogether.  I haven't been told NOT to run, I've chosen NOT to run.  I just know that when I run, my left knee hurts when I start, then it feels fine.  The problem comes after.  My knees hurt when I go up and down stairs and sometimes when I walk.  My PT has said it's patella femoral syndrome.  So, I'm judging myself accordingly and only running when I feel ok.  And even then, I'm not running for very long.  I've been given a whole lot of "homework" (i.e physio exercises) to do which I will get into in a future post if that interests anyone.

Anyway.  On to the fun part!

1 Less chance of injury.

If anyone should know this, it's me.  This is one of the reasons I decided to focus on short distance racing next year.  Less mileage = less wear and tear on your body.  Fact.   Hopefully that will mean I won't burn through all my extended healthcare coverage by the end of the summer.

2.   Hello Free Time!

Imagine a weekend that you didn't have to go out and do some kind of long run.  What would you do with your free time?  You could sleep in and start your run later.  Or, you could get up at your normal time but be done training to grab brunch with your friends.  The bonus part, you'd still have the energy to do something else if you wanted to. 

3. More Bang for Your Buck

So many people think that training for a marathon is going to help them lose weight and become disappointed when their body doesn't change the way they had hoped.  I'll let you in on a little secret.  If you want to slim down or maintain your weight, short distance interval training is where it's at.  Short bursts of high intensity work are going to give you way more bang for your buck in terms of time on your feet.  I experienced this first hand when I started doing regular track work.  It was pretty incredible.

4.  Pain Free Shower

Those of you that have run a marathon know what it's like to pull of your shoes and socks or get in the shower after a race.  Both are done with a bit of fear and trepidation.  No matter how much body glide you apply, there's always one little spot you somehow missed, that you find when you get in the shower.  With a 5km you're not out long enough to do any kind of damage to any body part.

5.  The Quickie Factor

The shorter the distance the faster it's over and while it may really hurt, the hurt will be over before you know it.  You'll be showered and refueled before your long distance counterparts are even at the half way mark, which leaves you plenty of time to get that post race latte and make your way to the finish line.

What's your favourite distance to run?

Make sure you check out the link up.  There are some great themes today!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Setting New Goals

Normally this time of year, I'm in full on planning / race registering mode for next season.  But, given my current state of affairs in regards to my knees, none of that is actually happening and it's really beginning to wear on me.  I'm tired of hurting.  I'm tired of not being able to do what I love to do.  It's been a real struggle for me mentally.   To go from performing at a high level to barely being able to run 4km without hurting really really sucks.  It's very upsetting.  I was moaning away about it all last night, once again on the verge of tears.   I know I'm driving G a bit crazy because he just turned to me and said "You need to change your mindset".   I love him to bits but when it comes to this sort of thing, sympathy isn't one of his strong points.   This is where he and I differ.  He's a factual, just get on with it kinda guy and I'm an emotional, wallow in my self pity for a bit kind of gal.  Eventually I will kick myself in the ass and get out of this funk but right now I think it's probably a bit necessary. 

Another thing he said to me last night was that I needed to set new goals.  I thought about that a lot this morning in the pool.  He's right.  I can't think about races I want to run next year or times I want to beat.  To be honest, those things are not even remotely on my radar.  I just want to be able to run and move PAIN FREE.  Plain and simple.  That doesn't seem like a lot to ask, right?  I can't even do my regular strength training workout because of my left knee.  So no only am I not able to run, I'm not able to really push myself in the gym which is what I generally do in my off season.  It's killing me.  When I think about the mountain of things that are functionally wrong with me and how long it may take to fix them, I feel so overwhelmed it's discouraging.  I'm not the most patient person so being faced with a potentially long rehab process sucks. 

As usual, G really hit the nail on the head.  I need to set new goal and, like any goal, I have to put in the work and the work has to be done regularly.  I guess it's just like training for a marathon really.  You don't just go out and run 26.2 miles.  You have to put in the work and train for it.  You can't rush it and you can't think about all the things you're up against.  It may not be as exciting as chasing a finish line but unfortunately it's my new reality. 

 I do know that things could be much worse and I'm grateful that they're not.  It's not like I'm not able to do anything.  I can still swim.  Kicking bothers me sometimes so I have to wear a patella strap on my left knee.  I can still ride my bike, for the most part.  I am on my road bike these days so I can take the load off my quads.  There are days where maybe I've done too much so even riding isn't comfortable.  Those are days where I either take it easy or not do anything at all.  I can do pilates.  I still go to the gym, I'm just not doing leg heavy work.  I'm focusing more on balance & core work as well as doing my phsyio exercises. 

I have to look at this as a rebuilding phase.  Yes, I'm losing speed and endurance.  But all those things come back eventually.  I can't worry about any of that now.  None of those things really matter if I'm not running efficiently and pain free.  I have to concentrate on building a better, stronger, healthier me.  In a way that's kind of exciting.  If I can get my body to do all the things that it wasn't doing before, I can only imagine what it will be capable of when it's firing on all cylinders.

Look out may take me a while, but I'm going to be back with a vengeance.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Work In Progress, A Race & A Recap

So remember when I said I was done racing for the season?  Yeah....about that.  Well, this weekend my awesome run group is headed to Niagara Falls to run in either the half marathon or full marathon events.  Since I'm not really up to either of those distances at my current fitness level, I signed up for the 5km.   I figure I can tough that out.  I'll tape my knee up and give 'er. 

I know, I know.  I have a problem.  But it could be worse right?

Speaking of knees, I've been on one heck of a roller coaster ride these days.  I feel fine for a while and then I do something stupid, like 2 back to back hilly rides, followed by a run and then they bug me again.  I have an appointment to see Dr. Schofield at Pivot but I was so incredibly frustrated this past week (like to the point of tears frustration) that I decided to make an appointment with a physiotherapist.  So, back to Pivot I went to see Mary Ellen.  After much poking, prodding and testing, she determined that my left knee is fixable (YAY!) and that my deep core doesn't seem to work, along with my glutes.  Actually my glutes work but only on one side.  My hip flexors also like to take on a fair bit of work so I have to learn to shut them off.  She's given me 3 exercises to do every day.  One of them is so subtle it doesn't feel like I'm doing anything.  She also told me to continue with Pilates.   I have a feeling this is going to be a slow going process.  But I shouldn't be surprised really.  I'm sure it took me a long time to get this way so I suspect it will take me a long time to fix it. 

Despite the roller coaster ride this week, I still managed a pretty good week of activity. 

Monday:  55km ride (burned off my turkey and pumpkin pie)
Tuesday:  80 minutes strength & mobility, followed by a 5.66km run that sucked horribly.
Wednesday: 2650m swim in a.m., pilates in p.m.
Thursday:  75 minutes of strength & mobility in a.m, followed by 30 minutes on the computrainer in p.m.
Friday:  2100m swim - all stroke work.  FUN!
Saturday:  OFF - but spent a couple of hours walking around the Annual Fall Bike sale.  Finally got myself some decent warm cycling gloves as well as a nice warm jacket.
Sunday:  20km bike ride along the Scotiabank race course to cheer people on + 25 minutes of core & physio work.

Total:  9h 50 minutes

I had a blast cheering people on yesterday.  I knew so many people racing.  It was a little bitter sweet for me to not be doing the race this year.  It's usually my fall "A" race and this was the first time in 3 years that I didn't race it.  But my vocal chords and arms got a good workout yesterday - I had 3 cowbells and wasn't afraid to use them.  I love seeing the smile on people's faces when they hear their name called out.   My run club worked the Power Gel aid station so I hung out there for a bit and then walked over to the other side of the loop to cheer people on.   It was a perfect day for racing, nice and cool.  There was a headwind on the way back in though but there almost always is on this course.  Several of my friends had PR's which is fabulous.  Christina, being one of them.  I got a few shots of her flying by me.  One of my athletes, Kristen, also had a 4 minute PR even after suffering some knee issues in training.  My friend Heather also had a massive PR yesterday.  She took almost 10 minutes off her time from last year!!  I am SO happy for these guys.  Hard work definitely pays off. 

The lead ladies in a pace line.
Canadian speedster Lanni Marchant hanging with the boys.

Christina a.k.a The Athletarian on her way to a PR

How was your weekend?  Did you race?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Five: Fitness Tunes

It's been a long while since I posted about music on here.  Probably because I haven't been running so I haven't added much to my playlist.  However,  I managed to get out last week so in anticipation of that glorious excursion, I did add a few new songs to my playlist.   I do have a few songs that will ALWAYS remain on my playlist simply because they help me push through tough moments during a run or just because they have a beat that I really enjoy running or working out to. Those of you that followed my Playlist Thursday posts know that I have somewhat eclectic taste in music.  The list below is no exception.

So, what brought this music talk on?  I'm linking up with Cynthia, Mar & Courtney for their Friday Five link up.   This weeks theme?  Fitness Tunes!  I love any opportunity to talk music.  It's one of my favourite things (other than running, triathlon and beer).  I listen to it in the car and all day at work.   These are my top 5 faves on my current playlist.

1.  Lord Huron:  Time to Run.  I just recently discovered this band and I can't get enough of them.   There isn't one bad song on their debut album. 

2.  The Arkells:  Come to Light.   I'm totally loving this song by this Hamilton based band.  Yet another example of kick ass Canadian music.

3.  Rush:  Driven.   This song will probably never leave my playlist.  Something about the driving bass line really gets me moving.   I have a LOT of Rush on my playlist because, well, they just plain ROCK.

4. Reel 2 Reel:  I Like to Move It.   Tell me where else would you see Rush and Reel 2 Reel on the same playlist???  I make no apologies for this one, what can I say, I freaking love running to this song.  It's got the right beat and it totally pumps me up.  I have no idea what this dude is saying but I'm down with it. 

5.  Franz Ferdinand:  Right Action.  These guys are also peppered throughout my playlist.  Another band that I absolutely love.  I can pretty much guarantee that any time their tunes come on, there's a little bit of hand dancing that happens while I'm running.  I'm sure I look stupid but whateves.  I'm enjoying myself and that's all that matters.

What songs really get you moving?   Head on over to the link up hosts to check out other Friday Five playlists! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Getting my Gobble On & A Weekly Re-cap

I finally feel like everything is starting to get back to normal.  I'm slowly building my training volume back up, working on my mobility and I'm starting to feel strong again .  The best part?  I reintroduced running back into my life.  As much as I want to go nuts and run #allthemiles, I know better.  I'll gradually go back to running 3 times a week but for now they'll only be short runs.  I'm ok with that.  Some running is better than NO running, right?

I diced things up a bit this week with my first pilates session and some hot yoga.  One thing I've learned...Moksha Flow and my knee don't get along.  So, if I'm going to do any more yoga, it's going to be at a much slower pace, until my knee issues get completely sorted out. 

We've had some fabulous fall weather this past weekend so of course we opted to get out on our bikes, twice.  Gotta earn and burn that turkey and pumpkin pie!  Speaking of which, we had a huge family gathering at my parents place yesterday.  16 people and so. much.  food.   My cousin, her hubby and her son came as well.  It was so nice to hang out with her and catch up.

One of the two tables, set and partially loaded up...
My mom & my cousin
The real reason I rode twice this weekend.  Once for each piece of dessert.

Thankfully neither of these made it into a doggie bag for us to take home.  Not for lack of trying though.  Holy smokes.   I did end up with some leftover ham which will make for some tasty lunch tomorrow.  Anyway, enough about the food, here's what I got up to this past week.

Monday:  OFF - neck was still sore.

Tuesday:  90 minutes strength and mobility

Wednesday:  750m swim (neck was still really sore) 55 minutes of pilates in p.m.

Thursday:   Slept in and skipped the gym in a.m.  60 minutes of yoga in the p.m.

Friday:  2100m swim + 6.3km run

Saturday:  55km ride

Sunday:  3050m swim + 30 minutes core & mobility work

Total time:  8h 56 minutes

I definitely think I earned my turkey and pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An Attitudue of Gratitude

Thanksgiving has got to be one of my favourite times of the year.   It's a relatively chilled out holiday in comparison to Christmas.  You still get all the food and family time, you just don't get the presents and all the insane running around to get said presents.  I'm ok with that.  I actually think that lack of distraction really makes me appreciate all that I have to be grateful for. After these last few weeks of feeling not quite like myself, things finally seem to be turning the corner.  These last couple of days have made me realize just how important physical activity is in my life, not only for my body but for my mind.  

I laced up my shoes on Friday and went out for my first run in 19 days.  I swear I smiled the entire time.  During that run, and yesterday's ride I kept thinking about how awesome it was to be outside and moving.  As usual, my mind started to wander and I thought about all the wonderful little things that I'm grateful for:   

Running.  Family.  The wind in my hair.  Hard earned sweat.  Fall Colours.  Sunshine.  Fresh pavement.  2 Wheels.  Friends, both near and far. 

 My health.  Potential.  Legs that allow me to climb this, even after some time off:

Sure it wasn't pretty but there's nothing quite like the feel of burning lungs & screaming legs to remind you of what it feels like to work hard. 

There's always something to be grateful for, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.  You just have to maintain an attitude of gratitude. 

What are you thankful for?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Recruit the Glutes, Part Three: PILATES!

As part of learning to Recruit My Glutes, in addition to my mobility exercises, I figured it would be a good idea for me to try some pilates.  So this past Wednesday, I went to my first one on one pilates session with my lovely friend Elyse.  She reads my ramblings so she had a good idea as to what my issues were.  She asked me to re-cap all my issues (crossover arm swing, trendelenberg gait a.ka. hip drop, foot crossover) and then she asked me what gets tired when I run.  I immediately answered my "shoulders, traps, then my legs".  Legs are somewhat understandable.  But the fact that my shoulders and traps get tired, means that they're doing work that they shouldn't be doing.  So it would seem that not only are my glutes and issue but so are my shoulder / back muscles.  I'm beginning to think my entire back side is the issue, not just my glutes.

I've never done pilates before but I've been on a reformer once during a physio session.  My lack of knowledge didn't matter as Elyse explained the machine and it's various pieces.  Before she got me on to the reformer, she chatted with me about what my main complaints were.  She then did a little assessment with me (totally proving the fact that my right leg is SO much weaker than my left) followed by some mat work.  To start, she had me do some shoulder and core mobility work on a foam roller of all things!  It was challenging.  I'm so used to moving on auto pilot that I really had to think about what I was doing.  She then had me get on this squishy balance disc, which I totally want.  I did some glute bridges and we talked about where I was feeling things.  For the first few, my hamstrings definitely wanted to do the work but then all of sudden, I started to feel it in my glutes.   YAY!

After I was sufficiently warmed up she had me get on the reformer.  I was kneeling on the slide board with my hands in the pulleys and all I did was pull back with both arms.  Holy smokes was that ever hard.  I really had to work to try to engage my shoulder muscles.  Once again it took me a while to get things firing.  I think my mid back is pretty lazy.    She had me change my hand position and do it again.  I could definitely feel it.  I think I need to get some more pulley work in my life.  Good thing we just added this to our "Pain Cave" in the basement.   Lots of pulley action on this baby!

Next we moved on to working core and glutes.  She had me try a variety of foot positions while pushing up on the glide board.  Some were more challenging than others.  What I noticed the most was the tightness of my ankles.  Which, I'm sure is also a contributing factor to much of my problems.   There were some foot positions where I could feel my glutes engage but my quads definitely wanted to do the work.  I really had to think about NOT using them.  When I was lying on the glide board and doing the work, it didn't seem too hard but once I stood up, I could feel all the muscles I had just used.  It was crazy. 

The core work involved pulleys.  Thankfully I was lying down because if I had to do any of that stuff standing up, I would have wiped out.  Graceful is not a word I'd use to describe myself, ha ha.  I did a series of leg extensions then she had me do circles with my legs.  Clockwise and counter clockwise.  Holy smokes those were hard.  But I actually felt all the smaller muscles working. 

After the session I felt great.  My neck pain had actually subsided and my range of motion increased!  My shoulders and chest felt much more open.  I definitely felt like I worked my hips and glutes and I figured I'd be sore but Elyse said I probably wouldn't be.  She said I'd more than likely feel more "supported" which is exactly how I'd describe it.  I walked around yesterday entirely pain free.  My legs felt strong and I felt like my stride was different.  Like all my muscles were working as I walked.  I can't wait to go back next Wednesday for another session.

I feel so good, I may actually lace up my shoes and go for a short run this weekend.  We shall see. 

Have you ever tried pilates?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

If It's Not One Thing

It's another.

I think the universe is trying, in a not so subtle way, to tell me that perhaps I need to re-think this whole "being active" thing.    In yesterday's post, I mentioned doing something to my neck.   I went to see Peter at Pivot yesterday afternoon and it turns out I've strained a ligament.  Yes, I strained a freaking ligament in my neck by combing my hair in the shower.  WTF.   Of course my Saturday bike ride was NOT a good idea as it aggravated it even more.  So, now I've been told NOT to ride my bike.  I basically can't do anything that will strain my neck.  No sit ups, no overhead anything at the gym.  

Peter did some ART work on my shoulders and neck and did a small adjustment on my mid back.  I was sore afterwards so I went home, sat with the heating pad on my shoulders, then had a hot bath, took two Robaxacet and went to bed.  I felt a lot better when I got up so I went to the gym and did my mobility work, legs and biceps.  Now I'm sitting at my desk with the heating pad on my neck.  There is a good chance I may fall asleep.  He did tell me I needed to keep moving and that sitting at a desk all day was not the best thing for me.  Guess that means I'll be wandering around the studio for a large part of the day. 

One step forward two steps back.

At least he said I could try swimming.  Obviously if it hurts, I will stop.  He did say that I won't be out for too long with this so at least that's a positive.  I'm crossing my fingers I'll be good to go this weekend.  I'm going to need to be able to ride off my turkey and pumpkin pie! 

Have you ever had a "stupid" injury?   What did you do?   This is almost as bad as the last time I did something to my neck....that time I was sitting on the toilet reaching for the toilet paper.   Fun times.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Not That I'm Counting or Anything....

But it's been just over two weeks since I've run.  Do I miss it?  Kind of.  But I have to admit, I'm enjoying the free time.  In all honestly, I'm feeling a little bit of fear in regards to running.  Could I go out and run right now?  Absolutely, my legs feel like a million bucks.  Would it be pain free?  I don't know.  I'd like to think so but I'm not 100% sure.  If it's not, I know I'll be really upset.  Not to mention frustrated and worried.  That's what's keeping me from stepping out.  Oh and the fact that I promised myself I'd take more than a couple of weeks off.  I don't like to break promises, even if they are ones I've made to myself, ha ha.

On the plus side, the over use symptoms have gone.  I don't have any soreness or tightness in my knees any more.  Going and up and down stairs is a breeze.  For the most part.  I'm still having that weird sharp-ish pain upon extension.  I never know when it's going to happen, it just does.  So, just because my legs feel great, doesn't mean it's time for me to lace up my shoes just yet.  There's still some work to be done, starting with my first pilates session this coming Wednesday!

I had a 90 minute massage / ART session last Thursday that actually left me a bit sore BUT, feeling much more limber.  Until I went and slept funny on Thursday night, woke up Friday feeling a bit tight through my shoulders then somehow managed to pinch a nerve in my neck while combing my hair in the shower.   It wouldn't be the first time that sort of thing has happened to me.  Friday was tough as I couldn't turn my head to the left and certain movements really hurt.  I stretched and put heat on it Friday night and changed my pillow to something more supportive.  I got up at 4:00 am and took a Robaxacet.  That seemed to help.  So, I went out for a 60km bike ride.  That did NOT help.  I felt ok after the ride but by the end of the day on Saturday my right side was in a lot of pain.  I had hoped to swim or do something on Sunday but it was spent lying around in my pj's with the heating pad on my neck.  I did some moderate stretching, had a hot bath, took another Robaxacet and then proceeded to scour the Ironman website for a 70.3 to do next year.

Clearly I have a problem.

But we all know that...that's why this blog is subtitled: Adventures of a Racing Junkie.  

Anyway, now that things have gotten back to some semblance of normal at work, I've eased back into my regular routine.   Here's how last week went down:

Monday:  2400m swim - first one in 10 days and I didn't drown!
Tuesday:  90 minutes strength & mobility.
Wednesday:  1950m swim.  I died. 
Thursday:  90 minutes strength & mobility
Friday:  was going to swim but opted to sleep in.
Saturday:  60km bike ride.  Beautiful day for a ride but wow, did it ever hurt.  That's what happens when you take 3 weeks off!
Sunday:  OFF

Total time:  7h 8 minutes.  Not bad!  I usually aim for 8-10 hours of physical activity a week so I'm not too far off.   If we have more weekends like this past one, I'll be spending some quality time with my bike.

The all important coffee stop!

Perfect day for a ride!
How was your week of workouts?