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Archive for October, 2013

the dnf

pre-race

pre-race

This is a tough post for me to write—my first DNF. For the non-runners among my readers, that means Did Not Finish and today that happened to me for the first time.

I woke up to rain and lots of it. Bryan and I dropped the kids of at the Grandparents and headed to Heidleberg, Ontario for the Horror Hill Trail Run. I had signed up for the 5K as had my dear friend Mandi. Bryan was along as my chauffeur and to cheer us on. When we got to Waterloo the snow was falling. It was the first snowfall of the year and the flakes were huge.

Despite the weather everything was great. I felt good. My blood sugar was near perfect. I was properly layered and comfortable. I had determination. The gun went off. In the first 500m I went over on my left ankle and twisted it. It was just a twinge so I kept on going. I stumbled-fell-clambered-slid up the first little hill which was small but steep. The mud and leaves and snow made conditions a little treacherous. I was having a hard time. I fell behind quickly and ended up walking quite a bit.

By the end of the first 2.5K loop I made a tough decision to pull myself from the course because I didn’t want to risk further injury. Finishing that 2.5K wasn’t worth the chance of something more serious. I was disappointed. I always thought my first DNF would be some big ultra or some sort of hardcore injury rather than my fear taking over. Part of the issue was my shoe choice. I should have been in proper trail runners and not my good old Asics Cumulus. I believe that would have made all the difference.

The fact is that some runs just don’t work out. I still had fun and I was able to see Mandi cross the finish line. I feel pretty hardcore for even showing up in the blustery weather. I will return to this venue next year and I will be sporting the proper footwear. It was a very pretty course and the event supports a great cause… a camp for children with cancer. That is what is important; giving back. 

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running my heart out

running my heart out

Run for the Toad is a wonderful event at Pinehurst Conservation Area near Paris, Ontario and it now is in the running for being my absolute favorite trail venue.  The event, organized by George and Peggy Sarson, had the best opening ceremonies which even included a Pipe and Drum Core. There was a catered lunch for the runners and a small expo. A tent of activities had been set up for the kids which was an amazing idea. Run for the Toad was a great race but a tough one for me.  My time was far from stellar and this was a walk rather than a run for the most part. Get comfy, because this is going to be a long one. I say that a lot around here don’t I?

Here’s what happened…

Before I share the story of how I messed up, I want to mention Mandi because she deserves recognition. Like the awesome friend she is, she stuck by my side for the entire race, sacrificing her own finish time.

All week I was getting up really early with Bryan and then staying up past when he went to bed to work on a project for one of my clients. Thursday he pulled a 23-hour day and didn’t arrive home until 4:40 am and worry-wart that I am, I stayed up until exhaustion overcame me at 4:00 am. Then I had my typical lack of sleep the night before the race. So, there you have my first mistake… I was exhausted before I even put my shoes on. Some people have bags under their eyes but I was carrying the whole set of luggage.

The second issue was a bit of a bigger one and I am really upset with myself for not being more proactive and careful. Earlier this year I had sodium deficiency problems when training for my first half and I had a real handle on it for a good month before race day. I ran a similar relay the week after the half marathon. No problems. My last blood work showed that my sodium was still below the reference range. I knew I hadn’t been getting enough in my diet and I should have really paid better attention. Why? Well about 8K in I had debilitating calf cramps. Like Charley-horse pain. The pain was awful but I could have pushed through, except it seemed like the muscles in the meatiest part of my calves just locked right up. It almost brought me to my knees.

As I neared the finish I heard Mari S. and company shout out some words of encouragement. It was so wonderful to have such support. Just then the calves seized up again and I almost went down. Everything seemed to be okay running down or uphill because I think the muscles were getting stretched but on the flatter areas they would cramp up and cease to move. I stopped several times to stretch and I had been holding back tears for a few kilometers but by the time I got to cross the timing mat, the tears were flowing.

the ice queen

the ice queen

As soon as Bryan took the strap from my ankle I headed directly to the medical tent where they iced my calves for me. Carla took a photo of it – too funny. Speaking of funny, I guess when Bryan took the timing strap from my ankle and headed out running, some guy who had been behind us made a comment about him being very insensitive to take off without seeing to his teammate. I believe my friend Kristin said to the guy, “that’s his wife!” Hysterically funny. I would have actually been very upset if Bryan hadn’t taken off to at least try and make up some of the time I cost both our teams.

I headed to the medical tent where staff wrapped ice bags on my calves with cling wrap. If you could have seen the look on my face when they pulled out the wrap. I seriously thought it was tape at first. I sighed relief upon realizing it was just narrow plastic wrap. Carla took a photo just for fun. After all, it’s not every day I can be the Ice Queen. The ice felt really good. I followed up with some Nuun and salty pistachios. Then after awhile the legs started to feel better. It was a tough thing for me to swallow but I still felt pretty hardcore for persevering and crossing that finish line even if there were tears streaming down my cheeks. I hung out and enjoyed the rest of the event with my friends.

I’m all about being positive, as you know, and I can usually find the good in everything including Run for the Toad. It was a lesson and a good one at that. I need sodium in my diet or this is what happens. I need to be as careful with that side of my nutrition as I am with everything else. I had fun despite the painful parts. I spent Run for the Toad with seven good friends plus I ran into some great folks that I am connected with on DailyMile.com. I finally met Phil and gave him a great big hug even though he was a total sweaty beast. The weather held although at 5:00 am that morning I wondered if we’d be running in. The rain held off but the temperature dropped a bit. I was chilled after the run so I especially enjoyed a hot chocolate as my “recovery” drink.

And… I finished. I finished Run for the Toad. This is one of the most well organized and fun events I have ever been to. The only negative thing I could say about the event itself is that several of my teammates could not partake in the post-race meal because there weren’t gluten-free options made available even though a request had been emailed a few weeks before.

I will be signing up for this race next year. It was a well organized and very fun event!! Sheryl, Carla, Mandi, Ken, Eric, Kim, and Bryan… you all rock! And I can’t forget about Kristin and her two lovely girls who came out to support Ken and the rest of us.

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