Sunday, March 1, 2015

A bitter sweet victory

I finished the Phoenix marathon with a personal best of 4.01!!!

Staying warm before the race


This is a great accomplishment considering my winter training. I did a test to see how my fitness would hold up after a few months of training in the cold outside just by effort. The outcome is that I kept my fitness and was able to finish in a fantastic time.

But there is a downside. The marathon is not a race to underestimate. For me every marathon I learn something. This time my old friend of intestinal discomfort visited me around mile 14. First I thought I was ok and could run on but I was wrong. I used the port a potty and lost maybe a minute of 2 or 3 but it didn't end there. After that I had two more stops to use the bathroom due to pretty bad diarrhea. In short, I could have done this race in about 3.55 or so. That means I could have qualified for Boston (50-55 age group) with a few minutes to spare. 

However as every marathoner knows, there's always something. It's too hot, too much wind, diarrhea, too cold etc etc. It is what it is. I did very well and know that I can get my BQ. I just have to be strong enough to overcome whatever it is that particular race. 

I also learned that with my colitis I need to travel at least 2 days before the start of the marathon. This race I arrived the day before and it just does not give me enough time to settle my stomach. I won't give you TMI here. Live and learn. 

About the Phoenix marathon. It's a great race. The course is slightly downhill, I liked it a lot, not too much pounding for the quads. The weather was perfect. Dry, not too warm and overcast. Very well organized and lots of nice goodies at the finish line. I was also very impressed with the tank top that I got, very good quality. 
It's not a race with a huge crowd and lots of support. There is some support though and the race is fairly new. I think it will only get better. I personally like a smaller race a lot. 

I also got to see some of my running friends and of course my super supportive coach Susan Loken. She is the one that helped me to train hard and improve my time from a 5.30 to around 4 hours. Can't wait to see what else I can do, there's always new goals and improvement!

That's it for now. I am thoroughly enjoying my time in Phoenix and Seattle. Don't think winter is over yet, I will be shuffling through cold and snow until at least mid April. But I know it's worth it!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Shake it out!

Not much to mention this week. Tapering is hard. Especially the last 2 days because I hardly run and eat more. I feel like a sloth, a big one!
angelo-cavalli-woman-jogging-monument-valley-navajo-tribal-park-utah-arizona-border-usa.jpg (366×488)
Did my 2 mile shake out run today in about 72F/22C degree weather. To me it felt like 85 degrees. Loved it! But I'm still happy the start is at 6.30 tomorrow morning.

It will be an interesting race tomorrow. I have never trained like I did this winter. I just ran by effort and basically have not really an idea how that will transfer to running in nice weather on the road. So we'll see what happens. I am determined to finish it no matter what!!!!

For now it's hanging out in the sun (no wine though ugh :( )

Thursday, February 19, 2015

25 pounds in 9 months

First things first. I am in my taper for the Phoenix marathon on February 28. Now since I have been running by time and effort instead of miles it's a bit tricky to know how to do this. I am following the schedule my coach Susan Loken gave me for the NYC marathon. This taper was a little longer and worked well for me. However I am taking the miles and convert that into time (kinda). So if she wrote 5 miles easy that means I will run for about 50 minutes now. Running 50 minutes in extreme weather will not give me 5 miles but that's ok. It's all about the effort.

So this week is nice and easy. I am swimming on my off days just because I like it. Easy does it though!

Now on to good news. I lost 25 pounds since last May. That's right, slowly but surely. Anybody who wants to know what I did, I finally learned to be wise and went to a dietician. I have been losing and gaining pounds all my life but always thought I could do it myself. With the result that I went from one way of extreme eating to the other. Sure I made my own food, ate mostly healthy but generally too much. I actually never really learned what worked for me. This time around I simply listened what Jess told me and did it without thinking I know better. She gave me great dietary advice for the marathon as well which has also worked very well for me. I had a metabolism test as well as a sweat test from which I learned a great deal.

Now the interesting thing is that I lost a large amount of that weight during the winter months. Usually I gain weight during the winter, especially here because it's so flippin' cold. That makes me hungry all day and because of the cold I really think I deserve some extra goodies. This winter I was determined to stick with my servings/amounts (It's a simple system but I won't go into it here). I am making a lot of soups and stews that are not high in calories, have a shipload of veggies and fill me up to satisfaction. This works great for me, especially in the extreme cold! I actually got really good at it, the combinations are endless.

I feel great! I have less intestinal issues. Running is obviously easier but what I like about it the most is that I feel at ease. I mean at ease with eating, at easy with stepping on the scale (which I hardly do but when I do I don't freak out because I know it's ok) But most of all at ease with feeling relatively full after a meal. I know what I ate was good, not too much and is fuelling my body the way it should. No panic feelings like OMG I ate too much so now I am going to starve myself tomorrow morning and workout more etc etc. I know this sounds psychotic but that's how I usually reacted. I realize that even more now that I don't have that response anymore.

Also I feel bones where I have never felt them before. Especially when I sit on a hard surface. First I thought I had a growth on my tailbone or something like that but now I realize my buttcheeks just don't cushen things up that much anymore.
Problems problems.....:)

Anyway, I could go on and on about this but I won't. Ask me if you want to know more. I'm sure I can fill a few hours of your time.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Running by effort

I have been busy that's why I'm a bit behind on my blog posts. Don't panic, I have been keeping up with all my runs. Another 20 miler last Sunday, I'm done with the really long runs now. Tapering until the marathon February 28.

Last weeks total mileage was 52 miles. All ran outside in a pretty brutal week. Temps around -30C/-22F. Windy. I added a layer for my legs (3 layers now) and that actually really helped. It's hard to find the right pant for winter temps. Some have extra wind stopper pads on the front but then my hamstrings get extremely cold. Legs need to warm up so more layers work.

Arizona and I are going to be friends, I can feel it!

Tapering for Phoenix now. I'm very excited to spend a few days in warm temperatures. I also will be visiting my son in Seattle for 2 weeks so I'm for sure going to be spoiled weather wise. I know Seattle can be rainy in winter but I don't mind. I love it there and I think it's gorgeous!

I have been running by effort these past few months since the NYC marathon. No use of a gps since it's only going to be frustrating. The run will feel hard but the gps will show a slow jog. So that's why I am also going to run the marathon by effort, no watch. I am curious how I will do. Will I have a hard time even finishing it or will I have maintained a fairly decent fitness level? I don't know, we'll see. Either way it's going to be interesting.

I gauge my effort by the way I breathe. Long run effort is usually breathe in 3 steps, breathe out 2. Nice and easy. A tempo run I will usually run at 3 steps breathe in, 2 out then 2 steps breathe in 2 out. So that counts 3 in 2 out, 2 in 2 out. Faster effort like longer track workouts, a shorter race or the end of a longer race I breathe 2 steps in 2 steps out. Then you have all effort, 400 meters etc, anything goes, just breath hard and run hard until you feel like puking.

I have been racing one half marathon and one full marathon without a gps watch and I loved it. It's great to just listen to your body and run accordingly. It feels a lot more free from numbers. Also you don't have to panic if the watch doesn't receive the correct data like in big cities. Just go naked!
Interestingly I have been doing quite well at the naked races. My half marathon was actually a pr and at the full I was only 2 minutes off my pr but felt extremely good until the end.

Just try to run without a watch if you can. Even if it's just your easy runs. You'll love it!

I want to be this dude!! (stolen from the adventure running blog)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl Sunday Split

I finished up a 48 mile week with a 20 mile run on Super Bowl Sunday. However I have to be honest, I did not run the 20 all consecutive. I ran 12 mile real early (6am). Then 8 mile mid afternoon.

I planned it that way. I really wanted to do 20 miles but I knew it was impossible to do it all at once. Running in subzero F temperatures is very hard on my body but also mentally a huge hump I have to get over everyday. I read up on splitting up the long run and decided to do it. I don't think it's ideal but under my circumstances it is the best choice. To get the best effect on running on tired legs I also ran 9 miles Saturday late afternoon. Hopefully that will give me the results that are most similar to a 20 mile long run. 

I started in the dark at 6 am. It was -26C/-15F. I stayed in town so the wind wouldn't bother me that much. In the afternoon it luckily had warmed up some, I guess about -20C/0F or so. The final 8 miles actually felt good. I feel good about it. I'm curious where this winter outside training will leave me comes spring. Will I have kept my fitness? Improved? Got super slow? (my fear to be honest) who knows. I do have to tell myself it's a nice test and certainly makes me feel a lot better than logging the miles on the treadmill.

One of the reasons that I don't like to go out of town in the dark ^ apparently these whiskered friends seem to be around quite a bit. I am easily spooked!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The porta potty is my friend

How happy am I that our town kept some of the porta potties down at the trail for the winter.

It's very obvious that I am the only one using it, it truly feels like home. Well not really. Taking your bottoms off at -30 is no fun albeit necessary when I know I won't make it back home. 

Just a short update. 6 miles yesterday, just easy recovery miles. I will do 8 today, with 4 X 800 meters hard effort. Mustering up courage again to get it done. It's getting cold again. -30C/-22F forecasted for the coming week. On a positive note, the days are getting a bit longer. Spring can't come soon enough for me but I know I have a few months to go yet. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Long Sleeve Sunday

Ended a gorgeous unheard of week of nice weather. At least for us. Everything is relative.
How I felt running in 40F weather

Total of 45 miles this week with a 17 miler on Sunday. It did not feel that hard so I guess my training is going well.  And yes it happened. I actually ran a few miles in just a long sleeve shirt. Only a few miles when I had the wind in my back. Running against the wind was still cold and hard. Crazy for this time of year here, but I'll take it.

On Saturday it was actually nicer and I felt so happy running in nice weather. Just wonderful. I can enjoy it for just a few more days because next week it's -20 again.

This is what I felt like eating yesterday, had serious sugar cravings.

This is why I don't buy any of these goodies. I would eat it all if I had it in my house. Instead I ate rice with lots of stir fry veggies and turkey. I did make a picture but it looks gross so I will spare you that. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The running procrastinator..

It was a busy week but I still managed to run 53 miles. That seems like a lot but I'm not able to do much speed or tempo training therefor I'm not afraid of injury. I really had to take advantage of the nice weather.

I ran everyday with two long runs on the weekend. Running longer than 12 miles is very hard even though it's not that cold. It still is below freezing and there is a lot of snow on the ground. It's just harder than when the roads are clear. 
I'm very happy though with my decision to run through winter. I really feel a LOT better than last year. Even though I often procrastinate and it's still really hard to do, being outside is just good for mind and body. 

Procrastination is a serious issue though this winter. I really commit to running early in the morning but I just cannot make myself do it on some days. Like today. I really didn't want to write another blog post but it's better than getting out there in the cold so that's what I'm doing. Next will be panic and running out of time before it gets dark. Anyway, it sure is a luxury problem.

If you procrastinate you do see nice sunsets..

This is what other people see but if you are the one running there it still sucks!! 
I feel invincible when I'm home though, so it's still worth it

Thursday, January 15, 2015

0C/32F makes for...

One sweaty Momma and a panting dog!

That's right. The body adapts to just about anything I guess. After a long stretch of extremely low temperatures freezing point feels kinda balmy.

Monday: 4 miles recovery
Tuesday: 8 miles, 3 miles tempo
Wednesday: 8 miles

It looks like it's going to stick for a few more days. Lucky me!!

Lots of running means good fuelling. Last night I had a wonderful winter salad. Spinach and kale with toasted quinoa, roasted butternut squash (yes plenty of olive oil) and some pulled pork. Very yummy!!

This is my favorite home made dressing: 1/3 cup of mix of lemon juice and balsamic vinegar (I use mostly lemon juice, just a splash of balsamic), 1/3 cup of olive oil, honey, tsp of good mustard, minced clove of garlic, salt, pepper. You can add herbs like basil if you want depending what kind of salad you are making. But it's good enough the way it is. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

45 mile week

Finished a 45 mile week today. It was a tough one. I don't think the temp. was above -30 for the entire week. It's been extremely cold for 2 weeks now and I had enough. I really need a little break. Hopefully next week is better.

Sunrise this morning.

I did 12 miles today but I divided it in a morning and an afternoon run. I just can't run that long in this cold. It's too hard on my body.

Polar vortex dog. Allie loves running outside in this weather

I also have to find a way to keep my butt and thighs warmer, they just get too cold no matter the layers. Anybody with suggestions feel free to let me know. 

Ok enough with the whining. I am still going and part of the success is for sure  you people reading this blog. This week I was seriously contemplating the treadmill but I made a deal with myself to run through winter so I'm going to keep at it. 

Thanks for reading. :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What a difference a day makes

Beautiful sunny day to run 6 miles. Can't believe what a difference of 10 degrees of windchill makes.

The temperature today was the same as yesterday -20C/-5F however the windchill today is -27C/-14F compared to -37C/-34F. This really made my run a lot easier. My bones were not so sore and I did not have to wear as many layers.

Sunset in freezing clear temperatures can be gorgeous. The snow reflects the beautiful pastel colors of the sky.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I want it back!!

This will be just a short post. As some of you may know our truck was stolen at the airport when we came back from vacation and today is a lot of phone calls and paper work. It was an old truck so not insured for theft. UGH! I really hope we'll get it back, but still it's just money....

This is where the truck used to be..

Today was another brutally cold day in the frozen tundra. The forecast said -20C/-5F but it had a wind chill warning. With the wind it was -37C/-34F. That is quite a difference but very important for outdoor activity. That means an extra layer on my head and one for my legs.

I did 7 miles and got way too hot. It's almost impossible to dress for outdoor activity in this weather because safety will tell you to dress a certain way but the body eventually does warm up and produces a lot of energy. My legs actually never really warm up so running is hard on those legs.

The reason I mention the temperature on almost every post is that I really need it for my own feedback, this way I will be able to look back and learn from how I felt. But also I have noticed that I get a lot more traffic for my blog on days that I mention the temperature compared to days that I don't. Especially from other cold countries like Sweden, Lapland, Russia etc. I really hope other runners get inspired and get the courage to run in their climate. It's possible and rewarding!

Finally a picture from the northern lights. I did not take this picture but I've seen it this beautiful. I guess you need a good camera for that. There's beauty everywhere, go outside and look for it!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

From plus 30 to minus 35

And I'm back!!

After my last post I did not get to run again in Nicaragua. I had too much diarrhea and felt too weak. Fortunately I was not too sick to enjoy my vacation. I felt ok but too weak to run. I tried it once again but felt shaky and my heart really started to race. It just did not feel good.

Poor me feeling not so good ^
The t-shirt says run now wine later hahaha, I thought that was funny.
Goodness I look really terrible and visibly dehydrated in this picture.

I'm back in Canada now and happy to have free health care. I had all my fluids in and out of my body tested right away. No results yet but we'll see.

The good thing is that I feel basically normal again so I went for a run today.
It was -35C/-29F. Yes that is quite a difference to the heat and humidity in Nicaragua. But nothing that good clothing can't handle. 
I don't know what I dislike more, extreme cold or extreme heat. I can handle dry heat like in arid desert climates but humidity is truly a battle for me. 

I did 5 easy miles today. I thought it might still be a bit difficult so I prepared to go real slow but surprisingly I felt very good. I played a little with my tempo but kept it easy. Hopefully I will stay ok and be able to pick up regular daily training again. 

I noticed that in this extreme cold shoes do not cushion at all. Whatever shoe I'm wearing it feels like a racing flat. I had noticed it before but not really paid attention to it. This time I really felt it. I guess the material it is made of is not working in these temperatures. It's not a big deal since the snow softens the landing on pavement anyway. I tried out a pair of shoes that I bought for winter running a few years ago but did not like. I actually do like them now, they are stiff but work well in this cold. They also have a double insulated layer so that my feet stay nice and warm.

Saucony pro grid razor ^ worth a try if you live in a cold or wet climate

No matter what, running outside is awesome. Forward movement is a wonderful thing!