Monday, 27 October 2014

An Unhappy Update: Rock and Roll Vancouver Half Marathon

Yesterday I was supposed to run my 3rd #halfmarathon, the #RNRVan, Rock n Roll Vancouver. However, a lip of sidewalk during a post-work #running commute to meet my family changed all that. Instead in shorts and tee, I had a spectacular fall and skinned my elbow, gouged chunks of skin from my knee and wrecked my toe.

I was a bloody mess. At least it was mostly scratches and bruises, despite the bleeding. A suspected broken big toe was the worst of it.

In spite of my injuries just 48 hours before my flight, I still went to Vancouver. I still went to the RnR Vancouver Expo to pick up my bib and shirt, even though I wouldn't be wearing either on race day.
I enjoyed the expo, and I still felt the excitement and joy of being at a race, anticipating race day. I still felt excited for my friends, even for my sister-in-law, all from different walks of life, to run or walk their respective races.

On race day, I followed them on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, cheering on their successes and looking enviously at their medals. I wanted my finisher medal too; but it was not to be.

I'm happy to say that my injuries from that spectacular fall are slow but surely healing. The inflammation and consequent swelling has stopped; recovery has already begun. While I couldn't walk or even sit without elevating my foot, I can do both 48 hours later for a few hours at a time.

The physical wounds, in spite of the pain, are nothing. They will heal in time. But I am trying to heal my mental running state, my shaken and broken confidence in my ability to run a half marathon race. I think that will take much longer.

It's a crazy thing, the mental aspect of running. It can do so much for you, and yet it can crush you so fast and so deeply. Right now, I feel like I could never run another half marathon race again, because it feels like I almost always kill myself just before a race. And therefore, I have to drop out of the race or pass out after the race.

I'm an accountant. I hate wasting money. I hate missed opportunities even more.

Maybe I am bitter. I most certainly hope I'm not, I don't ever plan to be. I will gladly run a half marathon distance on my training runs. But I'm not sure I ever want to try and prepare for another half marathon race again.

It's heart-breaking after all my running challenges this year.

As a running year, 2014 sucks.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Transplant Trot 10k Race Recap

The 3rd week of April was National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. This week has always been a very important and very special week to me, as I had my kidney transplant surgery that week. Naturally, being a kidney transplant recipient, organ donation awareness is important to me.

(photo courtesy of Michelle)

The Saturday of that week, all across Canada, the Transplant Trot is held to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation. This year's Transplant Trot was extra special to me on several levels. First is raising awareness of organ donation. Second is that this year, the Calgary Transplant Trot is holding running races, in the 5k and 10k distances. But most of all, the Transplant Trot is being held on the 8th anniversary of my kidney transplant. 

My hubby, the donor, and me about 3 days post-transplant/post-surgery

I've had my husband's kidney for 8 years and it has enabled me to do so much. Especially so in running, where I never thought I would ever run more than 400 m, never mind a half marathon distance of 21.1 km!

This particular race last Saturday April 26 was also important to me, as it was my first race after my first half marathon, the Hypothermic Half. [That's a blog post which I still owe you all; I promise one day I'll recap that!] It was also my first race since I was hospitalized with sepsis after a 12k LSD run. While I bounced back quickly and was out of the hospital in 2 days, the physical recovery took a lot longer than expected. And the confidence I had in my body to run these distances were shattered for a time.

The race took place in the fields behind the South Fish Creek Rec Centre (basically behind the Shawnessey YMCA). It was a one mile loop around a soccer field and stormwater/overflow pond, as you can see in the map below:

1 mile loop for the 10k race, run 6 times over.
I showed up in good time which was excellent as I ran into so many friends from Kidney March and from the 2012 Canadian Transplant Games in Calgary. I was also elated to see that the Transplant Trot had the support of a number of the City Councillors (past and present), who all showed up to walk the Trot:

With fellow Kidney Marcher Tina and (past) Councillor Rick McIver (photo courtesy of Michelle)

Had a great time catching up with them all before it was time to head outside, warm up and start the race.

At the "start line" (photo courtesy of Keith)
Once we headed out, the run around the soccer field wasn't so bad, it was grass. Then we commenced on the path around the pond, and it was ok too, all gravel.

Then we hit the mud. And the pools of water. The gravel paths around the pond were flooded with water, and made for some muddy bits. I nearly lost a shoe to the hungry, grabby mud! After that first loop, I nearly had half a mind to just run to the finish line and be done with it, haha! But that would have made the part of me which was determined to run a 10k race really unhappy and unfulfilled. So it was on to the next muddy loop. And it was muddy:

Mud, and lots of it, all the way up to my @$$ (photo courtesy of Michelle)
It was a lot of extra work to run in these conditions, and made me think that all I needed was tree branches while running a mountain - perfect, challenging trail run. But I really had to focus, bc between the mud, ankle-deep water, and gravel and grass, I really suffered the first few kms as it was very hard work to put my body in running mode again.

The volunteers were fantastic and cheered all of us on. They were trying to help me count down the laps, and many thought I was already on my last lap when I had one more to go. Thanks for thinking so highly of my ability to run, but I just don't run that fast!!

I was also encouraged by my friends Keith and Michelle, who cheered me on, took pictures and generally hung out with me to chat and provide encouragement by the side of the race just when I needed it the most.

By the last lap, I started enjoying running through the varied terrain. By then, I knew where to avoid the mud, generally by running on the grass by the side of the path or through the ankle deep water on the gravel. I thanked every volunteer since I felt a kinship with them, having seen them 6 times, getting their encouragement and well wishes. I was very happy to see the finish line:

Heading to the finish line, as taken by Michelle

Sprint to the finish, as taken by Keith

I crossed the finish at 1:04:30!! For a moment I thought it was a PB; then I realized that the race course was only 9.5k distance. However, once I was done, I did a self-assessment of my body and my mental state. I felt awesome! No nausea, no pains or aches, just a sense of well being and achievement. I think the smile here said it all.

I'm done!!! 1st 10k race this year! (photo courtesy of Keith)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Rising up to the Liebster Award Challenge

Thank you Michelle of for indulging me with the Liebster Award Challenge! I'm not exactly a new blogger, but I sure haven't been blogging for a long time, so that's kind of like new, right??  ;-)

Here are the details:

The Liebster is an award to help promote new bloggers. The rules are simple:

- Mention the person who nominated you with a link in their blog.
- Answer the questions provided by the person who nominated you.
- Nominate other bloggers with less than 200 followers.
- Create a new set of questions for your nominees to answer.

And here are Michelle's questions for me!

Question 1: What is something you are very proud of? Why?

My tenacity. If my health challenges and my running have taught me anything, is that I've learned to be persistent, tenacious, determined.

I'm proud of my tenacity, bc it's what got me through the worst days of my health challenges, when my kidneys failed and I went to ER for evaluation and emergency dialysis. It got me through complications I had 6 months post-transplant, where there was the very real possibility I would lose that kidney transplant due to those complications.

When I made it through all those health challenges, I realized that, in the end, I could do anything I set my mind to. So I walked 100 km for Kidney March in 2010. Started running in 2011, when I could barely run 400 m, ever. I finally learned how to skate and ski this past winter. Things that I used to be scared to do, I'm no longer afraid to try.

And now I've run my first half marathon. And think about running my first marathon. And dream about running my first ultra. The best part is that, health permitting, I *know* I can do all those things, when I'm ready to go.

Question 2(a): When (and why) did you start running?

After 3 incredible Stampede breakfasts during Stampede week, I realized that I really was not going to be able to lose any more post-baby weight unless I did a little bit more than just walking. So I started joining the Run Club at the Eau Claire Running Room that very week.

Question 2(b): When (and why) did you start blogging?

The very first time I blogged was way back in 2001, with the very cute title of "Ladybug's Garden". Of course it was not a running blog back then, but it was a way for my hubby (then boyfriend/fiance) to keep up on my doings and my thoughts in Calgary while he moved away to work in San Diego. Yep, we were in a long term relationship. Turned out to be only 18 mths but we didn't know that at the time.

The current blog The Mama Runs was created after our good friend Keith bugged me to start up a running blog about a month after I started running in 2011. Haven't looked back since...until I was asked this question tonight. ;-)

Question 3: What does it mean to be a kidney [transplant] recipient? How has that changed your life?

To be a kidney transplant recipient is to have three kidneys.

That's my hubby's favourite line, anyway. To me, it is a new lease on life. While I may rely on drugs for the rest of the days my kidney transplant works (the average is currently 10-15 yrs), at least I'm not relying on a dialysis machine that can only function at a tiny fraction of regular kidney function. It means I have the opportunity to get pregnant and have a baby, which I was very fortunately able to do. It means I had a second chance to try out a lot of things in life that I probably would never have tried, because I was too scared before. But when you've stared death in the face because your kidneys failed and you feel the most horrible feelings in your life ever and you think any time now, you're gonna go into cardiac arrest and then that's it....a lot of things are no longer scary any more, especially post-transplant.

[the other] Question 3: What do you want your daughter to know that you didn't know growing up?

Don't sell yourself short. And especially don't let others talk you into thinking that way.

Question 4: If you could tell yourself 16 year old self something, what would it be?

Be patient, one day, someone will love you for who you are. Just be yourself, your best self.

Question 5: What is something that you are afraid of? Why?

Here's something totally irrational: anything (usually a fly) buzzing near my ear. I know it's probably because of some childhood experience where such a thing happened and freaked me out then...and it freaks me out now.

Question 6: What is your greatest joy in life?

My daughter, hands down. My kidney transplant from my hubby's kidney donation and my wedding day are very close second and third, respectively.

Question 7: What is your greatest challenge in life? 

Frankly, I think it will be trying to live long enough to see and enjoy the company of my grandchildren. Given that I was 38 when my daughter was born, my daughter is likely to have kids late in life, and kidney transplants and good health only last so long, I will consider myself very lucky if I can live long enough and be healthy enough to play with my grandkids.

Question 8: If you were stranded on a desert island with someone, who would it be? How would you occupy your time?

My hubby. Mainly catching up on ALL the sleep I've ever deprived myself of. Also talking with my husband. And...doing my wifely duty. Haha.

Question 9: Where is your favourite place on Earth? Why?

Even though I've only ever been to a very few places in my lifetime, I would say Melbourne, Australia. Definitely a family friendly place with pretty efficient public transportation and a temperate climate. The most magical garden - and we were visiting in the winter, without blooms!!

Question 10: What is something you would like the rest of the world to know? 

Be kind to yourself, and be grateful when you wake up every morning for all that you have.

Question 11: What is something you have never done but would like to try?

Ride a hot air balloon. I'm scared of heights though. But I'm working on it.