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Posts Tagged ‘running events’

I chose last Saturday for my return to running because it was the anniversary of when I started a Couch to 5K program to train for my first race (2011). It felt amazing to run after being off pretty much since summer, even though the reality is that I have to rebuild my running base from the beginning again. As much as my lacing up again is good news, it isn’t all of the news I have to write about today. In my last post I mentioned that I had something to share about an opportunity to make a difference that is tied in with a Spring Race.

Back in mid-October I wrote a blog entry that illustrated how very important it is for people, especially women, to advocate for health care when it comes to matters of the heart. I often share the link on twitter and, a few days after, I received a direct twitter message from Seanna at Running Well. She told me how moved she was by my experience at the hospital and asked me if I would consider being a Run Ambassador for a new running event being held alongside the Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart on June 5, 2016. It is a Run/Walk along the Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto. As far as I know this is the only run to ever be held on this particular street. There are 5K and 10K runs as well as a 5K walk. Even better, it’s a family friendly event.
I didn’t even have to think about it.

YES!

RFH_F16_Ambassador_Facebook_1200x1200_v1I didn’t take this decision lightly as I have a tough road ahead when it comes to rebuilding my fitness. There are so many positive reasons to take this on that saying “no” was not an option. This run is for an organization that is close to my heart because I am a survivor and because of my family’s history with heart disease. I would love to have my story inspire more people to take the first step and do something to change their lives. While I hope that I have been able to do that already, I’m always game for other opportunities to help people find their fit side. Of course there is that message that my experiences send about the need for all of us to be proactive in our own health care whether that be with heart disease, diabetes, or any other health challenges we face. Running has been such a big part of my healthier life and being able to share that motivates me to keep moving forward.

I will be running the 10K. My goal is to run strong so I’m starting with a 5K program and then I will jump into a 10K program once my 5K base is solid. With the event being in late Spring it gives ample time to do this well.

It is my hope that people will choose to train alongside me using social media. I would love to have you share your efforts with me too because I find it very inspiring. You will find me on twitter and instagram as @innerpossible plus on DailyMile. I will be posting all of the fit things I am doing to work back up to the 10K distance and using the hashtags #RideforHeart, #CreateSurvivors, and #RunforHeart. You may also want to follow @TheHSF on twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

If you’ve never run before, seriously consider this race as your first event. Running is a wonderful way to get active and events, such as this one, are fun. If you decide to do this, please send me a note. I would love to offer my support and encouragement. If I can do this, you can too!

Registration for the event opens December 3rd, however, I will be sharing a discount code soon. Stay tuned!

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A week ago I completed my Cardiolite Exercise Test at the cardiology lab. My heart rate was a little elevated so I reached the 85% of max a little sooner than I usually do. No worries… it stands to reason after having two interventions in as many months, not to mention running on a 14% incline is nothing to sneeze at.

On the weekend things took an interesting turn. On Halloween I was taken to the ER at Hamilton General with similar symptoms as before when I had a 90% blockage. Let me say that the ER is a very strange and unusual place on Halloween especially when there is a full moon and a time change causing the nurses to have to work 13-hour shifts amidst the craziness. On Sunday I was transferred to the cardiac ward and scheduled for an angiogram to see what was causing symptoms that the doctors believed to be unstable angina. At first I shrugged off the discomfort and figured it was from running so soon after coronary intervention.

This brings us to Monday evening post-angio. There was nothing wrong from a cardiac perspective and anxiety had also been ruled out as well. The two places where I have stents are “widely patent” which in layman’s terms means that they are clear and blood flow is really good. The one bit of scarring that has caused a blockage they can’t do anything about is “well collateralized” which means I have new arteries handling the blood flow. That’s a good thing. So what was causing this pain? It turns out, or so we suspect, that I was experiencing a well-known side-effect to a blood thinning medication called Brilinta (ticagrelor) although there was some differences of opinion between my doctors. I started on this medication three weeks prior by the same doctor who I ended up reporting because he didn’t take my heart condition seriously. This certainly didn’t help my confidence levels that the medicine was the right one for me. On Tuesday morning I discontinued the Brilinta against the wishes of the doctor on the cardiac floor at Hamilton General. Instead I took a loading dose of the blood thinner that I was on up until early October. With that, the pain has completely vanished and I feel better than I have in months.

Once again there were issues with having to be aware of my condition and voice concerns to a doctor from the cardiac ward. He was going to prescribe a medication to help with the symptoms rather than remove the medication that was triggering the issue. The thing is what he wanted me to take lowers heart rate considerably. As a runner, my resting HR already sits around 50 bpm and if it were to be lowered further that could be actually a bit dangerous. When I spoke up the doctor realized his mistake and agreed. This puts me back at the realization that so many people would have just done what the doctor said without question. Being educated about my disease and advocating for myself has proven to be such a vital thing.

I came home after that, on Tuesday, and called my cardiologist, Dr. J.’s office. His assistant spoke to him about my refusal to take the Brilinta, my return to the other blood thinner, as well as the results of my Cardiolite Exercise Test. Yesterday morning when I was having tea with a dear friend I got that call that he felt going off the Brilinta was a wise choice. She also relayed that I had done very well on the treadmill, my heart is stable and I can resume running, cycling and most things at the gym in a few weeks. The only reason I can’t return immediately is that they did the angio on Monday via my femoral artery and I need a bit of time to heal. I can also resume weight training in late November or early December.

I have a few tidbits of running news.

I’ve signed up for the 5K distance at the Mercedes 10K race in Oakville on April 24, 2016. My husband Bryan will be running the 10K and it we will so some of our weekday runs together.

The other bit of running news is wonderful and it involves another Spring race… but I can’t share the details just yet. As soon as I am able to make things public I’ll post my news. What I can say is that a tremendous and exciting opportunity to make a difference has sprung out of the heart health hurdles I’ve had to jump these past months. I’m going to take this wee bit of down time to make a realistic training plan with the mind and there may be some shoe shopping… oh and my running playlist could use an update.

It’s all part of moving forward with strength, courage, and strong spirit… i mua.

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I have never been so happy to have put a year in the rear-view mirror as I have been with 2014. What a year! It started out with broken toes that weren’t quite healed and the roller coaster continued from there with the heart issues, bronchitis verging on pneumonia, and this last few weeks… the bloody flu. On top of that I was still grieving the loss of my Mom and there was quite a bit of anxiety that came to light after the heart procedure. Despite all of this, it was a good year with many firsts including my daughter’s first time at school and joining a gym.

As I have mentioned in years past, I don’t believe in doing the whole New Year’s resolution bit. I came to this conclusion several years ago. I feel that it sets me up for failure and when something I had resolved to do wasn’t realized I would beat myself up emotionally. Instead I like to look at the year as a book consisting of 365 blank pages for me to fill with the things that keep me healthy, happy, and fulfilled.  I prefer to choose milestones and make general plans with no set timelines punctuated with events such as running and camping trips. This year is no different and here are some of the things I’d like to accomplish throughout the year.

I’m committed to  spending less time online, plugged in and on the phone especially with social media. Those of you who follow me here and on twitter may have noticed that I’ve been pretty quiet since October and lately I’ve been less active on Facebook as well. Yes, I am ignoring you.  Instead of being consumed with social media, I’m spending more time with my children, husband and friends. I have been teaching my four year old little girl how to knit, sew, and cook. Next up… snowshoeing (if we ever get any snow). I will continue to walk back and forth to the school twice a day with the children. I could simply let my son walk his little sister as he is very responsible, but I choose to add the 15K to my fitness every week. I’m fortunate that being a writer allows that freedom and it is a great time to chat with my teenage boy. In the Fall he is off to high school and walking with Mom would just be uncool.

I mentioned in earlier posts that I am rebuilding my running base. I’m still working on that although I’ve been slightly sidelined by the flu. While progress has been slow, I’m still moving forward. My goal race is the Toronto Yonge Street 10K on April 19th. I’m very excited and I’m hoping to make it a personal record for 10K. Of course, I’ll be training smart and coupling that with workouts at the gym. The goal is to run another half marathon too. I’m not sure which one yet but I’m leaning towards the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon in June or the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in the Fall… or both. I would like to do another trail race too. That reminds me, I need to do some running shoe shopping.

I hope to cross a few things off my list this year such as the climbing lesson and belay certification that was put on the back burner when I first broke my toes. It didn’t end up being in the cards for 2014 but perhaps I’ll tackle it in 2015. And… I still want to try zip lining. Did I mention I am terrified of gravity? Boxing is still on my milestone list, as are many other things. What I tackle will depend on time. Our family plans to return to Le P’tit Train du Nord for a cycling and camping trip. Unfortunately between what was going on with me and Bryan’s travel with work, we didn’t make it back to the trail in 2014 but I’d love to revisit the area this year… without the rain.

Over the holidays I had the chance to spend some time with one of my dearest friends, Sandi. It’s hard to believe we’ve been friends for over 25 years (where did the time go?) and the last few years we haven’t been able to see each other as much as we would have liked. The weekend before Christmas we talked about making a point of seeing each other more often. Our boys (and husbands) get along famously plus we have similar interests which is great. We both love cycling so there will likely be some bike rides together in the Spring and Summer. Who knows, maybe I can even talk her into running a race with me or maybe not… lol.

While I still want to lose a bit more weight, I haven’t set an actual number because I’m more about the complete picture… body, mind, and spirit. I haven’t let the scale define me in years and will continue with that mindset. I’m more focused on being active, hydrating properly, and eating healthy. Speaking of food… my goals with nutrition remain the same as in previous years— I will continue to eat foods that are kind to my body in order to keep the side effects of diabetes and heart issues at bay. I appreciate being able to use nutrition and fitness in place of diabetes medications. I don’t diet, I simply eat according to my goals and to ensure I have balanced intake of nutrients. This is important for our whole family. Children, as you know, learn by example.

Eating fresh and local whenever possible is something I strive to continue although it’s nearly impossible at this time of year. In 2014 I started relying on our local farmers’ market and farm stands for produce. I would venture out on Friday and our menu for the week would revolve around what I came home with that afternoon. I plan to continue that throughout 2015 as I found the quality was often better than the grocery store and the produce seemed to last longer before spoiling. It’s a great for the children to learn more about where our food comes from and I like to support our local farms. I’m going to get back into growing sprouts and making my own yogurt. Both are really easy to do and will be good skills to pass onto the children. I have even done both on wilderness camping trips. I also love that this way of eating means avoiding some of the unnecessary things that are added to our food. Sure, it takes a bit more effort but that is nominal in comparison to the benefits.

Hobbies have come to the forefront lately. I’ve been teaching myself to knit plus I’ve started to do needlework and sketching again. I find that activities like this help me reduce stress and give me a way to unwind. Hobbies are much like running or the gym in that regard—being immersed in the task at hand takes the focus off whatever stress there is.

Work-wise, I completed my last client website and redefined my business. I’m still in the process of finishing my third cookbook manuscript. It’s due in March but I’m in good shape with it other than needing to take some more photos. My fourth cookbook proposal is on the table too. I’ll tell you more about that once I sign a publishing contract. I can tell you that it is going to be an amazing project and I am very excited about it. I’m also working on telling the story of my personal journey and, although I feel somewhat vulnerable, look forward to sharing that with my readers. Once again, I’ll be writing some freelance articles for a variety of publications. The outdoorsy project for families and kids that was to launch in 2014 should come to fruition later in the year.

2015 is all about forward momentum. It will be interesting to see how this year unfolds and what adventures my family and I get up to. I’ll keep you posted.

Happy New Year!

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Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it. – Michael J. Fox

Thursday morning…

After a two week bout of bronchitis, which I am still not 100% rid of, I sit at my desk while writing a note to Canada Running Series. As the tears roll down my cheeks I request that my registration be transferred from a full marathon to a half marathon. These aren’t tears of sadness, but of relief. I’ve been struggling with this decision for quite some time. I put a lot of pressure on myself not to let anyone down. I was going to run this marathon even if it took me seven hours. I made promises to Canada Running Series and myself.

So, if I wanted to run a marathon so badly, why the change?

The crux of the matter is that I have lost a lot of my running base because of being off with broken toes and the problems with my heart. Two weeks after the heart procedure my cardiologist said to hang on to the dream of running the full at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this October and a few weeks after that, I was running again. I got carried away with the excitement of making it through such an ordeal that I accepted the opportunity to run the full as one of the Digital Champions for STWM.  I was alive and felt great. My speed workouts were more effective. I felt energized and ready to tackle the marathon.

feet in training

moving forward

When I brought those Saturday morning long runs back in the mix it was a struggle. I could no longer run the distances I had become accustomed to the year before. The high heat and humidity were definitely factors that made the runs exceedingly more difficult. I convinced myself that maybe it was a mental block because I couldn’t seem to get past where I was before I had the heart problems. But if I am being honest with myself, that’s not all it was—what I had to accept is that my base has suffered. I was off for a few months with the toes and then a few more with the heart blockage, so it is my reality. Not to mention, my body has been through some trauma and I’m dealing with the side effects of being on a blood thinner (things like anemia and bruising).

Bronchitis meant more time away from building that base but it also gave me pause to really think about what I want to do… what I need to do. Time has become a factor. There are a mere 13 weeks until race day. This means I would only get one 32K training run in. For most first-timers that wouldn’t be a problem however being diabetic throws a wrench into things for me. I would like to have a few more of those long runs in a training plan so that I can learn how my body reacts to fueling. Not having a good handle on that can result in not being able to finish. The bottom line is that I could run the 42.2K but training without the solid base would open me up to injury or disappointment.

It just isn’t training time. It is also time with family. I’m a Mom first. My partner, Bryan, will be away on business for much of August and September. In August, he’ll be home on weekends but in September he’ll be at a huge tradeshow in another country. We won’t have a lot of time to spend together and training for the full will reduce that even further. This happens every other year and, in hindsight, I should have considered it when deciding to run a full.

Don’t mistake these reasons for excuses because they are not. I’m still going to be running and training. The only change will be the length of time I am putting in on those weekend long distance runs. This is acceptance of where I am at with body, mind, and spirit. It is the realization that this has been a really rough year and that I need to be gentle with my spirit while moving forward. I am at peace with the path I have chosen.

The goal remains the same—the timeline has merely shifted. I still consider myself as being in training for a marathon… I’m just taking a more scenic route to get there. I plan to become a stronger runner, build my core strength and flexibility, and listen to my body. I will run a few half marathons and perhaps Around the Bay 30K, then revisit the idea of a full marathon sometime in 2015.

When I shared the news of my transfer with my friend Kim, a marathon runner, her words summed it up perfectly…

Everybody seems to want to rush through the entire running bucket list. The marathon isn’t going anywhere—it will still be there when you’re ready.

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I’ve been under the weather with a nasty cold-flu-like bug for a week so this is a bit late in coming.  Here is what has been going on with my heart…

My Healthy Heart

Friday April 11th finally arrived. A mere two weeks after my heart procedure I sat in the office of the cardiology lab anxiously awaiting a consult with my cardiologist. While I had tests and had been in the hospital, Dr. J. and I actually hadn’t seen each other since August. There was a lump in my throat and I was feeling very stressed about the whole thing, yet I desperately wanted answers. I reminded myself that I could handle any news, good or bad, and took a deep breath.

The nurse came out and escorted me to the back so that she could check my vitals, weight, abdominal measurement, and run an EKG. Shortly after, I went to the consult room and Dr. J. joined me. He asked me how I felt about my family genetics catching up with me. I half-joked and said, “I wish I could punch my family genetics in the nose!”

A tear rolled down my cheek and I braced myself for the worst.  Dr. J. looked at me and said. “Your heart is strong and healthy. The two overlapping stents you’ve got are not going to be an issue. Given the condition of your heart from the running and cycling you could have ten stents and it would still be better than a single stent in a damaged heart. The valve issues are mild at this point and nothing should deter you from being active. In fact, I’d would like to have you back to running by the end of the month but first I’d like to do a myocardial perfusion so we know where you are at with blood flow. Oh and you can take that nitroglycerin patch off. You don’t need it.” He also decided against sending me for Cardiac Rehab because I had already walked more than 42K since being released from the hospital.

The word “shock” just doesn’t encompass the surprise I felt when I heard him say that I would be running again in mere weeks. I looked at him, somewhat puzzled, and said “I should probably rethink running the marathon in the Fall. Right?” His reply was, “if you want to run a marathon there is no reason that you can’t fulfill that dream. Which race?” So I told him about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and about my recent social media role with Canada Running Series for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K.

Speaking of which…

The Un-Race Report

a little warm-up run

a little warm-up run

Fast forward to Sunday April 13th. I don’t think I have ever been as excited about a race I wasn’t able to run. I made so many great running connections during my time as Digital Champion and I had decided that no matter what Friday’s outcome was with my heart, I was going to be there Sunday to cheer everyone on. My fellow Digital Champions had been an amazing support during all the health issues and I wanted to show them that I appreciated that.

We awoke uber-early on Sunday morning. Our friend Carla met us at the house, with coffee in hand, we strapped Kaia into her car seat and off we went. The horrible forecast had changed for the better and it looked like it would be a dry but windy race. The drive was pretty uneventful and parking was plentiful near the start line because we were a bit early.

A few days before I had exchanged messages with Krista Duchene and we were able to meet briefly before the race. I also met Robbie Watson. They were doing an East-West challenge so I wished them both a great race. It was great to meet both of them.  One day I will have to share a funny story about my first encounter with Krista about a year and a half ago. Meanwhile, Kaia and Bryan were running around near the start. This was going to be her last race in the stroller and she was raring to go. I’ve never seen a little girl so charged up about running as Kaia is and it isn’t every day I can let my child play in the middle of Yonge Street.

The Justice League

The Justice League

I waited at the start line and took photos of runners leaving the gate. I was using my Android and there was a glare on the screen so some of the shots were rather accidental. I did get a shot of The Justice League taking off which was great. I screamed loud encouragements to other friends as they started. I won’t sugar coat it, this was very hard for me. When I heard the gun go off and the announcer building up the excitement, I had to hold back a few tears. It was emotional for me on many levels but knowing that running is still possible for me, kept it from being anything more than damp lashes.

Then, after the last competitor was out of the gate, my friend Sheryl and I headed to the finish line. That didn’t exactly go as planned and her husband Ric had already finished by the time we got there. Oops. In hindsight we should have headed to the finish much earlier. We found a good spot and waited for Bryan, Carla, and Kaia. Sheryl and Ric drove Bryan back to our Jeep while Carla, Kaia, and I hung out at the awards ceremony. I met up with Andrew Chak, Jodi Lewchuck, and Mahnaz. Hugs all around. Then later I met Batman aka JP Hernandez and Spiderman aka Mark Sawh. Oh… and I met Alan Brookes as well. Can’t forget Alan! Everyone had hugs and it felt really great being there. I forgot how much I missed that beloved sense of community among runners.

It was a great day for a race. Rest assured that I WILL be crossing the Toronto Yonge Street 10K finish line next year. Maybe even as a Digital Champion! What do you think Mr. Brookes?

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This time off with my tender broken toes has given me a bit of time to think about how I’ve progressed in my journey as a runner and a healthier, fitter, me. While embarking on this lifestyle change was always about finding myself and being the healthiest and strongest person I can, I do love to inspire others. I try to do that as much as I can. After all, we have the ability to do anything we put our minds to. We just have to get over that fear of failure and there is NO failure in trying. It is my hope that people are inspired when I so openly share my own story and that perhaps they pay that forward.

The other day I was approached with a wonderful opportunity that would allow me to take that love of motivating others to a different level. Of course, I have said “yes” but I am sure there is a little more to it than that and I will find out more over the next few weeks. However, I am completely honored to have even been asked and this new possibility entices me. It is also an amazing way for me to give back for all the support and encouragement that has been bestowed upon me. Sorry to be somewhat vague but I promise I will fill you in on the details as this all unfolds. Exciting!

Running, as you know, has given me so much. Lately I’ve had some disappointments and I took those pretty hard but when I stumble I get right back up and move forward. I’m of the mind that the tough runs help me grow and the awesome ones remind me why I love to run. I’ve come so far from those first runs on the treadmill where I thought 3 minutes was going to result in collapse or even worse, my certain demise. I remember when 5K seemed like the longest distance in the world. I said that about 21.1K too. Now I am considering new goals and milestones.

I’ve already started booking events for 2014. My goal for all of these events is to cross the finish line stronger than I have in the past. I also want to try to improve my pace and increase my distances. It looks like my next year is shaping up to be quite the adventure.

This is what I have registered for so far…

Robbie Burns 8K
Burlington, Ontario
January 26, 2014

Chilly Half Marathon
Burlington, Ontario
March 2, 2014

Mississauga Marathon (Half)
Mississauga, Ontario
May 4, 2014

Sulphur Springs Trail Run 25K
Ancaster, Ontario
May 24, 2014

I’ll likely be adding the Toronto Yonge Street 10K and possibly the Mercedes 10K to the list as well as a few 5Ks, Run for the Toad and the Oasis ZooRun. I’m also seriously considering running the half or maybe even the full marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in Fall 2014.

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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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