Embracing my first DNF

Blackfoot 50K mud

Bugger.

DNF? Are you kidding me?

DNF stands for “Did Not FINISH.”

When I saw those preliminary results posted on Facebook, I was gutted.

I clearly recall running, cantering, trotting and walking the entire 50 kilometres. 50K. On the trail. Over the hills. Through the mud.

I just didn’t quite finish within a reasonable time, I guess. I was under the impression I’d made the cutoff time, but I appear to have been mistaken.

I know I completed 50K.

YOU (now) know I completed 50K.

I just need to work on my speed. Because yes, I was out there for a ridiculously long time on my feet.

But I FINISHED.

So, I’ll see that DNF and raise you some courage.

Some confidence.

Some sore legs.

And some mild interest to do it all again next year just so I can get a legit time posted next to my name, and not a big, fat “DNF.”

Race recap – 5 Peaks Terwillegar

Finisher 5 PeaksWhhhyyyy do I do this to myself?

I really don’t like this course, but I knew I needed a swift kick in terms of getting off the road and onto the trails.

Trail running is so incredibly different than road racing, and 5 Peaks guarantees that you’re going to get a course that is a big fat twisty single-track adventure when you run at Terwillegar in Edmonton.

Organization
5 Peaks seems to be experiencing a bit of a growth spurt – the first race in the 5 Peaks Northern Alberta series was  sold out!  The race had vendors, snacks, package pick-up and a social media-driven car-pooling initiative going down.  All smooth, all good.  The location is the same as in years past, at the Terwillegar dog park.

Course
Let me just say… I hate this course. I hate it because it kills me every time. Which means I should really love it because I need to conquer it.

It starts innocently enough with flat double-ish track for a few kilometres or so, and then boom!  Up through the trees on a single track along the river where you find yourself running on what appears in the normal-person-world to be a hiking trail.  This twisty trail of fun continues through the trees with a descent, and then another section of undulating hills hugged closely by trees.  After you survive this bit, the path widens out and heads back down to the finish line. But wait, if you’re an idiot and signed up for the Enduro (14 km) course rather than the Sport (7 km) course, you get to do another loop of this foolishness.5Peaks Terwillegar course

My run
I seeded myself in the 3rd (final) wave of the start for the Enduro runners, and was in full panic mode as I covered the first few kilometres. WHY I was freaking out, I can’t tell you. Probably the same emotional rage range I experience when going to the dentist for a little drilling of the teeth. I knew what was coming. I knew it would be challenging. And everyone who signs up for these trail races are just so EPIC!  (Eeeek! Intimidating!)

Once I hit that hiking trail (yes, I will continue to call it a hiking trail) my legs turned to concrete and my heart was pounding right out of my chest.  Adrenaline carried me as my body went into WTF mode.  As we all navigated the steep, rooted trail, I played tag with a couple of ladies running together. I passed them, they passed me.  They rested, then I rested.  It was comforting to always have a someone (anyone?) in constant view. I managed to keep up an acceptable pace but soon enough the duo disappeared ahead as the real hounds caught up to me.

Released from the start gate, the Sport racers were already running up from behind. Total beast mode! I took advantage of their speed to catch my breath by stepping off the trail to let them pass, me cheering and clapping – because it WAS damn impressive.  During this time, I encountered the Enduro sweep who informed me exactly what I was: “the last one.” A little disheartening. Nonetheless, I stepped, cheered, ran, stepped, cheered ran – repeatedly – the next several kilometres as waves of runners came dashing through the woods.  AND I was also completely lapped by the leaders of the Enduro as well!  Freaking amazing!! These guys rocked.

By the time I reached the end of the first loop runners in front of me were veering off to the right, towards the finish line, and I couldn’t see a soul in front of me on the track starting the second loop. I’d lost the pair of ladies who were around my speed.  That first half of the race truly took the guts right out of me, and I was feeling rather alone in my great trail running baptism of 2016.

And that’s when I began to cry.  It was hot. I was tired. It was stupid, really. But it was overwhelming. I felt terrible and dumb and sad. Even the sweep wasn’t running at that point, as she’d stayed back to chat with volunteers.  And cheese and crackers, WHY do I do this to myself?? Why didn’t I just run the short course??  Well, because I knew I needed practice on a long trail run, that’s why.

However, at this point, “logic” didn’t stop the heaving, blinding, pathetic sobs.  I stumbled up the small rise at the beginning of the second loop, and when I was out of sight from the start/finish line and all the happy people, I sat down on a park bench and sipped some water. I sucked back a gel.  And then I got myself together.  Crying was NOT going to miraculously catapult me to the finish line.  I had a long way to go.

So, I kept going. I sucked air all through the hiking trail part, heaving as I climbed up the short, steep inclines, trying to make up time with fast descents. On the next part, a nice volunteer caught up to me.  He was busy plucking the markers off the trail behind me as I either ran or walked.  (Note: he could walk as fast as I “ran”)  He was retired, and we chatted about all sorts of running-related things. He didn’t start running until his 40s, and it cleared up his knee problems as his legs got stronger over the years.

The next trail angel I encountered was heading back to the finish after hanging out at an aid station post-race, and he walked/jogged with me. He gave me good advice on all sorts of trail-related things, including a walking gait to adopt that allowed me to walk faster while still being soft on the knees and providing recovery time mid-race.

My painfully clenched calf muscles (poor calves – shocked to have worked so hard!) had begun to subside by that point, but being a punk and feeling sorry for myself, I continued to walk the remainder of the course.  Every now and then I would trot, and the calves would protest, so I slipped back into walk mode. I figured last was last, and that’s all there was to it – no need to hurry.

As he and I power-walked monkey-style down the final stretch, we could hear the 5 Peaks announcers and the remnants of the crowd.  He told me this was my time now, and I needed to go ahead.  He told me to run and to throw my arms in the air as I crossed the finish line, because I’d earned it.  That made me feel both grateful and silly, mostly because I spent most of the race feeling sorry for myself. And I’m not sure I earned some fabulous finish.

Off I went, trotting across the finish line with a Forrest Gump wave to the poor volunteers who were waiting to go home.  Everyone was so kind, and they clapped, and the race announcer even gave me a Timex running watch along with my commemorative 5 Peaks pint glass for finishing the race. Awwwwww. Thanks, 5 Peaks!

The food table folks brought out a bowl of bananas they’d put away, along with a sleeve of cookies and a half bottle of diet cola. All the other snacks were gone, and as a little kid hanging out by the table lamented, he didn’t get pizza, either – lol.  I took what they could offer and went to sit and watch the dogs play in the dog park as I cooled off.Terwillegar 5 Peaks my run

Lessons
All in all, this race was a great way to get back on the trails and remind myself what work needs to be done = train for the terrain.

When I got home, I scrolled through the online race results and discovered that the ladies who’d been around my pace during the first quarter of the run had only finished about 6 minutes before me. Six minutes.

On the flip side, boy, I was whiny.  I need to – again – get out of my own head, and work on the positive self-talk.  These races are learning experiences and part of the process. I mustn’t get so discouraged!

I was super grateful to run into those trail angels who offered me advice, with no judgement. It’s amazing how far a kind word will go, you know?

And lastly – oh jeez. I’m striving to gain a little more running maturity (ummm there’s no crying in running??).

5 Peaks last place

 

 

 

 

 

3 behaviours I don’t want to repeat from my first half marathon of 2016

Disclaimer and/or fair warning: this entire post is a big, fat WHINE about why I didn’t do better on my first half marathon of 2016.

I hadn’t planned to run the Hypothermic Half in February, but the distance fell in nicely with my training plan so I decided to sign up so that I could see how things were shaking down, performance-wise.

Day of the race, the weather was beautiful – a balmy 4 degrees Celsius with sunny skies – and I knew the course from volunteering two weeks prior.  The race had three start times, and I chose the SleepyHead start at 10:00 am.  Ready to run!

Well….

1. I went out too hypothermic half 2016fast. SUCH a rookie mistake. I got completely sucked in to keeping up with the Joneses.  Even the back-of-the-pack Joneses.  Fueled with adrenaline, the first 3 miles were a pleasure – wow – look at me! All that training has paid off! I can run faster than I thought!  The next 3 miles slowed down a bit – very realistic though, and still feeling strong. The following 3 miles were back to my normal, distance-training pace. The last 4 miles? Crash cart required. Wheels came off. Walking, walking, ridiculous amounts of walking.

2. I was obsessed with time. It’s my first half mara of the year and I’ve been training for the distance, not for time, so why I expected to beat my other half marathon road race times…I don’t know.  Mostly a lot of hubris, I suspect. Throw in that over the winter I packed on weight, and boom! I came in the slowest I’ve ever done a half. My chip time was 2:58:41. Yep. Time to get over it. It’s part of the training process. I must move forward trusting the process.

3. I dropped the motivation ball. In the latter half of the race, I got lazy and my brain totally talked me out of any ambition. Albeit, I was tired, too, but instead of sticking to my walk/run pace, I started to just walk…a lot. In the last 3 miles, I saw a very fit-looking couple just up ahead of me who were walking for ages, and figured if they could do it, I could do it. I would run when they would run – which was not much.  And why bother trying to pass them?  What a silly goose decision on my part. I needed to stick to my training methods and I didn’t.

Hypo run mapTrust, motivation, determination…time to dig deep!  I actually have nothing to whinge about. I completed 13.1 miles when the training schedule only called for 12 miles.  I lived.  I got a tan that day.  I burned a crapload of calories.  I drank a lot of free orange juice post-race.  My only sore bits were my left hip and right calf (related?).

However, since that race, I’ve only been out running twice. I’ve completely allowed the (perceived) poor race results and stresses of life to scuttle my training schedule, putting me two weeks behind now.  I think the pity party is over.

Back to it.

(Long) weekend update: cookies & running. And more cookies. And maybe rum.

The beauty of a long weekend…perfect excuse to eat every delicious BBQ food in the WORLD.

It started quite innocently (let’s invite cousin Matthew & Martina for dinner) and ended in a new BBQ purchased, eighteen thousand full-fat side dishes to accompany chubby cheddar smokies, and pina coladas made with our fancy-dancy new blender thingy from Air Miles… (Bacardi makes pineapple and coconut infused rum. Just for the record.) Oh – AND – the baking of some crazy good (read: addictive) cookies. To eat with ice cream, of course. A few raspberries thrown in to avoid scurvy.

I mean, who doesn’t want Dulce de Leche Stuffed Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies?  Hello? Besides, it was an excuse to go buy a jar of dulce de leche… and try something new. I came across the Wright Family Table blog via foodie pic posts on Instagram and HAD to try these cookies. Yum.

Hot chocolate cookies

So, as you’ve guessed, the weekend tear through BBQ food world was delicious but not exactly on track.  My hands were even swelling two days later. (Sodium?  Lack of rum?) Training, however, was actually decent, and am quite proud of sticking to my little workout schedule leading up to my 10K run this Saturday.

Last week’s training plan and results:

MON: Easy run (30 min) = DONE. Ran outside for the first time in a year, and it was an all-singing, all-dancing panic attack. Every muscle in my body seized up and it was the hardest run in the world hitting the pavement in my neighbourhood.  I did get a high-five from a toothless guy having a smoke outside a local bar. That kept me going for two blocks, and then I had no choice but to keep motoring because the ladies on the next corner, like, OWN that corner and I am not permitted to stop.  In the end, my legs were rock and I could barely lift my feet. I counted the seconds until the 30 minutes were up.

TUE: Yoga – P90X2 “X2 yoga” (67 min) = mostly DONE. Beachbody on Demand streaming died two-thirds of the way through, and I could only hear Tony Horton, not see him. And then the stream kerplunked all together, so I surfed around in BOD looking for alternative stretchy clips. Found some “classic” (aka cheesy) old ones to do.

WED: Tempo run w/ speed intervals (30 min) = DONE and AWESOME. Went inside on the treadmill and calmed down (compared to Monday’s run) and got ‘er done. This was after a 0500 hrs workout and a night of stair walking in the River Valley. #crushedit

THU: Cross training – 21 Day Fix “dirty 30″ (30 min) + T25 “lower focus” (25 min) = DONE, mostly. Did the Dirty 30 but not the Lower Focus. I was beat after yesterday’s workout extravaganza.

FRI: Rest day – walking YEG river valley stairs at lunch time = RESTED. Needed it. Got in a short walk outside but that was it.

SAT: Long(er) run (4.5 miles/~7KM) = DONE, mostly. I had aimed for 4.5 miles, but managed 4 miles at my mellow, “easy run” pace on the treadmill. It took an hour…I am not winning any prizes with my pace, but I know if I keep up the training, my easy run pace will slowly increase over the next few months.

SUN: Easy run (20 min) + Sunday morning Yoga (Meadows Rec Centre) = DONE! The yoga instructor at the Meadows on Sunday is AH-MAZE-ING. She teaches so many lovely lessons about body and life throughout her yoga flow hour.

Loyalty vs. critical thinking: making the right choice for you

I’m a very loyal person.

Maybe it’s the Virgo in me.  Or perhaps simply because it’s a safe place to be – pick your team, support ’em, make it work. Be happy with your choice and be exclusive, no exceptions. Show everyone you are committed.

Well.  Perhaps loyalty can be slightly misguided.

I grew up with two kinds of pop (Coke or Pepsi), two kinds of toothpaste (Crest or Colgate), two kinds of gum (Dentyne or Trident), two teen hearthrobs (Leif Garrett or Scott Baio)…you get the picture.  When I was a kid, you staunchly defended one or the other. Never did you jump ship to the other side. (I still feel guilty that I like Pepsi now when I was a Coke girl all my life).  Now, I can stand for 20 minutes in front of a gum rack at the grocery store and still not know which one I want.  So many options.

Let’s take fitness: I want to believe that there’s one “right” way to get in shape, feel better and trim the fat. I like knowing I made the “right” choice, am following the plan and will get results. But that’s so far from the truth that I’m feeling a little foolish.  Not only is there NOT one way for everyone, there’s not even a single way for ME.

I suppose it’s all in perspective. I have to shift my thinking that I’m not cheating on running with yoga, but instead they’re both doing different, positive things for my body. That switching from one trainer to another will continue to build my strength and to try new things is probably good for me on a bunch of different levels. Just because I tried something and it didn’t work, the “failure” is a learning experience, not a reflection of a crappy choice.

Being practical, and thinking critically are habits I need to develop.  I want to be loyal. But I shouldn’t confuse loyalty with laziness (lazy to try, lazy to change, waiting for ideas to be handed to you….).  I have to face the fact that just because the marketing is good, or the concept worked for someone else, that certain fitness plans won’t always be the be-all, end-all solutions, and I need to be SMART about my choices.

I am here to be the best I can be.  So, I’ll continue to share my adventures… like trying out DietBet or Weight Watchers… this week I bought a new skipping rope and have been inspired to practice headstands.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Train your brain – 3 Day Refresh

So, April, I’d decided to push a little harder with my fitness goals.  (Gilmore Girls and ice cream drove me to this point).

I gave the 3-Day Refresh, a little Beachbody kick start product, a whirl to get the bod back on track.  I did it with the ever-amazing Miz J. as a rather spur of the moment kind of thing the Tuesday right after Easter. (What!? Huh?! Eeek!) We both happened to have the kit, and it was a huge “no time like the present” move forward.

(Admittedly, for me it was a desperate psychological ploy to make progress in my fitness regime.  I need to see results.  And I did – I got them.)

The Refresh has fibre and protein components, and the holes around it are filled with loads of water, green tea, fresh fruit and veg.  We did it bang on in the middle of the week  – Tue/Wed/Thu – and that helped with keeping busy and not sitting around waiting for our next feeding time.

Day 1 – Tuesday convo outtakes
“I’m at work surrounded by the scent of chicken fingers and a tray of sushi.”
“Two more days! We can do it!!!”
“I was grumpy between work and dinner.”
“Family wants Easter ham and blueberry waffles…I’m eating cucumbers and tomatoes.”

Day 2 – Wednesday convo outtakes
“I couldn’t resist, and I did weigh myself this morning… am down…! But don’t want to speak too loudly about it as I really need to keep this off. No more yo-yo stuff.”
“Woke up hungry this morning. Wanting coffee.”
“Tracking the food keeps me more honest.”
“Vinegar is my new booze. I just dumped it all over this salad and shot back what was left.”
“Made it [to the end of the day] … food all okay. Workout done. Self tanner on face to raise self esteem.”
“24 hours [left] – whooohooo!”

Day 3 – Thursday convo outtakes
“Empty colon” [check]
“For my healthy fat I brought a chunk of coconut oil. BLERGH. Like eating wax.”
“I’ve just had that fibre sweep and am counting down the minutes ‘til I can have lunch.”
“Good thing I have to stick to this strict plan. Mindless snacking would have started…”

In the end – we both lost weight (5 lbs each) in the three days, but this should be expected when, as mentioned above, our colons were empty and we were peeing every hour with all the water.  We kept up our exercising throughout the Refresh, and walking a lot.  And having a partner in crime made a huge difference…no man is an island.

Moving ahead, cautiously optimistic – suddenly I was panicked… what do I eat now??  With such a clean slate, I felt like I couldn’t possibly bring precious food into my system.  I agonized over every frigging thing I ate on Friday. It truly was a case of obsession. Today, I’ve relaxed a bit more, but boy – I think about everything before eating. That’s probably a good thing. It’s like my brain has been re-trained.

Overall, I feel less bloated in the tummy, lighter, experiencing clarity (right??) and as for cravings – like for SUGAR – are actually gone. Onward. Ho.

Weight update
March 30: 214 lbs
April 11: 207 lbs

Backcountry hiking, half-marathon running, fat-reducing is-it-summer-yet PLAN

I love winter.

I really, really do love winter. I play outside on my snowshoes. I find excuses to buy really awesome winter socks, and I now own three winter coats. I like frost and cold. I love the stillness of being in the woods, branches heavy with snow.

And, in the depths of this delightful deep freeze, I love, really love, planning for the summer.

I’ve had my maps out since December trying to figure out where to hike this summer, and how to work those trips around my running schedule and my girls’ adventure to Iceland and Scotland…

And the over-arching issue for all of these grand plans is simply to get in shape.

So, starting with my fabulous 37.9% body fat (erg – I should really just be calling that 38%) I need yet another plan…

Having blogged for about a year now, I’m seeing a bit of repetition… that there’s more plotting and planning than actual DOING going on a lot of the time. But being in a bit of a bind – getting chubbier again and having some big goals to kick this year – I need to get on with that DOING part.

The basic strategy for the next few months is to increase weight training and cardio while cutting calories via “clean eating”. Tah-dah. Yep, that’s it.

I’ve gone old school again, and printed out a calendar, upon which I’ve penciled in my workout schedule.  The training is essentially worked backwards from my half-marathon trail race in July and my half-marathon road race in August.  And the best part is that I reward myself with stickers on the days I work out. Oh yes, stickers work for me. And I work for stickers. (Who doesn’t love happy face stickers??)

So far, I have FOUR stickers!!!!!!!  WOOT!  And let the positive visualization begin 🙂