Saturday, 25 April 2015

Race Recap: Transplant Trot 10k

Today was the 1st race of 2015 for me. After injuries and health issues last year, I vowed not to train for a half marathon or any race really, except for trail races.

But this recap is not about halfs or trail races. Just a good 10k road race for a cause very dear to my heart: the Transplant Trot. It is a charity race with walk/run distances ranging from 3k to 5k to 10k, for the Canada Transplant Association, which is a nonprofit devoted to organizing athletic events every 2 years for organ transplant recipients like me. This race happens at the end of the National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. Organ Donation is a cause I am passionate about, mainly because I am a kidney transplant recipient, thanks to my loving hubby, who donated his kidney to me.

Anyways, I had hardly been serious about training for this race. Sure, I have been running with the half marathon clinic at the Eau Claire Running Room, but it was more about keeping up and socializing with my running peeps and also training to lose weight (haha, a story for another time). I wasn't even serious about race day today: I booked a chiro appointment at 9 am, and then had to leave Confederation Park by 11:30 am so that I could pick up my daughter and have lunch with another family. If the Transplant Trot was not puctual in beginning the race, there was a real chance I would just have to skip the race and leave. Thank goodness that was not the case!

I was able to make it to the Transplant Trot in good time and meet up with some good friends and excellent volunteers and even one runner like me!

With Shauna Rivait, a ceaseless advocate for organ and tissue donation!

With Tina, a fellow Kidney Marcher AND runner like me!!

With Teresa and her hubby who "photobombed" our pic.

Instead at 10 am, we were lined up on the grass near the finish line and then off we ran when the word "GO!" was shouted.

I ran for some distance and then noticed a gradual creeping of hard breathing. I looked at my watch and - yikes! - I was running a crazy sub 6 min/km pace (I think 5:38 or 5:45). I knew I couldn't maintain that pace even at 5k, never mind a 10k! So, I forced myself to slow down.

It was a relatively flat and fast few kms...until at the 4k mark. Then - YIKES! - short but relatively steep series of hills. I took my time on those, and discovered close to the turnaround point that I would have to run them AGAIN, as part of the 2nd loop and it was right before the finish line!!

So I did strategize my run accordingly, to hold back a little on the flat portion and save my legs for the last 2k of the race when I would have to run those hills. The second loop was therefore an enjoyable run, even those I was tired. I thanked every volunteer I saw on the second loop and then focussed on the hills. I ran most of the hills, but only walked when I got close to the top of each of the 3 hills.

It worked for me, by and large, in that I did not hurt myself and was able to sprint the last 20-50 metres to the finish! When I saw the time on the clock of 1:05:20 as I crossed the finish line, I was so excited that I did a loud "whoop!" which surprised a few people and some even laughed. If only they knew what an exciting achievement it was for me to finish a 10k race and PB it!!

Afterwards, I looked at the time on my Garmin, and I was even more excited to see the time. I realized then that a sub-60 min finish is actually possible one day!! Especially given that I hadn't trained much for it, 5 lbs heavier than last year AND took time off the first part of this year to heal from injuries.

Per my Garmin, I could actually do this!!
The venue of the Transplant Trot was fantastic, not only bc it was close to my house, but mainly because it was a wonderful and beautiful park to run in. The race was well organized and so many sponsors were so kind to sponsor our race!! They had raffles (for which I wish I brought cash - a note for myself for next year!), food, AND massages!

I was very grateful for this race, not only because I got a personal best, which was of course awesome, but because of the awareness for organ and tissue donation and for so many people who came to support this race - so thankful for the organizers, the volunteers, the sponsors and MOST OF ALL for all those who made their wishes known regarding organ donation, whether by signing the back of their driver's licence, back of their health card, or registering their consent to donate via the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry. I hope you'll consider organ donation too.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Swimming

Been a while on this blog. My days are busy, and when it involves telling the world what I'm doing or thinking, I go to Instagram or Twitter to broadcast it. I just don't have the time or energy anymore to lay out a well thought out blog post about my doings as I previously used to do.

That being said, I feel like I need to start this up again, just to tell people where I am. My blog - just like my fitness and activities - needs a reboot.

So, for the first time in many, many, MANY years (like 35 years ago - wow, do I ever sound old!!), I went swimming. In a lap pool. Real laps.

Keith and Michelle had been bugging encouraging me for some time about swimming. Keith has done triathlons and Michelle is learning to swim and honing those swim skills towards doing her first tirathlon. In fact, she just did awesomely in an indoor sprint triathlon  - so proud of her!

So...on an early Saturday morning last Easter weekend, we met at Talisman to swim.

To be more accurate, they were there to swim, and I was there to see if I was comfortable in the water, remembered any kind of swimming, and then try out my ability to do laps.

It took me close to an hour to even feel comfortable being in the water...or rather, putting any part of my head in the water. I bobbed around and splashed and kicked and tried doggy paddling down the lane. Michelle was very kind to give me lots of tips, knowing how nervous I might be, as she was once the first time she swam. I wouldn't admit it to her then, but I was fearful...not necessarily of the water, since I knew I could put my head in the water and float and even front crawl (if I didn't have to breathe). I was really just fearful that after all these years, I would super hate the pool or hate doing anything like swimming, other than splashing around with my kid when she was a toddler. In the kiddie pool.

However, Michelle was very kind to help me through the change rooms at Talisman, as it was my first time there. She offered a safe spot for my glasses, as I was concerned somehow losing them at the pool. Then reminding me how to breathe and kick my feet and move my hands and arms, how to tread water. She shared a lot of her experience of her first time swimming. All these helped me slowly gain reassurance and confidence at the pool, even before getting into the water.

By the time the first hour had passed, I felt comfortable enough in the water to do a backfloat, which involved immersing my ears in the water. It was weird at first, so I almost didn't like it but I had to give myself a shake and a reality check, to come to the realization that in fact I did NOT hate having my ears in the water. After a little while, it felt ok and then I began to kick with my legs. As gained more confidence still once I started moving and before I knew it, I was fluttering my hands by my sides and moving a little faster.

Keith also helped me a lot with some times, giving me feedback on what I was doing right and tips to help me do better. He is a very encouraging guy and if he would be coach, I'd totally go with him! He told me that I started at about the same level as Michelle when she started, which surprised me greatly, as she is doing such a great job and swimming so fast after just a few months of swimming! He gave me some tips as well and even went so far as to suggest how to move my arms more on my backfloat/swim/crawl/etc. so I could cover more distance. It was fantastic!

Between giving myself time to immerse myself in the water, encouragement from Keith and sharing and tips from Michelle, I found myself enjoying the water again, and being amazed at the progress - skill-wise, distance-wise and especially confidence-wise - in my swimming. Turns out I could put my ears in the water, face in the water, and even open my eyes in the water. The challenge? Breathing under water. Trivial but lots for me to learn about it!

Where to go from here? Well, I am a long way from doing a triathlon...if I ever do one. But now I feel like I could eventually achieve more than I ever did in my entire life. I feel like proper swimming does not in fact suck. And that I really super like swimming on my back right now. I still have to take the time to get used to putting my face in the water and learning to breathe between strokes; important skills if I'm going to do a front crawl one of these days.

I would love to join Keith and Michelle whenever they swim but they have their own training and swimming to do, while I feel that I am still exploring the swim. I have ability to commit to swim times, between work and my kid's schedules and running and some biking thrown in there too. However, I'm hoping that there is an opportunity for at least the next 6 weeks to swim laps with hubby. Plus my kid tells me that she "will teach me to swim!"

I hope that I will be able to front crawl 25 m by the time she is able to. And that time is very close, since she is already starting to front crawl about 10 m. We'll see about that.

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.