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)


  1. It was a pleasure to be there for you and the other participants Sophia! I know how much this day, this anniversary and this race meant to you. What a great turnout! Yes, they really should call it a trail race or a 9.5K ultra! I had no idea you were struggling initially as you seemed happy and looked to be running strong. I really enjoyed reading your recap from your point of view. Your confidence us back and you are ready to rock Calgary on June 1!

    1. I was extremely happy to run this race, no matter what, for two reasons:

      - organ donation awareness. Reminded me of how lucky I am to be a transplant recipient;

      - that I was able to race after that horrible illness and short hospital stay.

  2. Still reading! Was so much fun standing in the snow waiting. Except we snuck off for a coffee during first lap, and you were SO fast, you beat us back to the end of lap. Glad you had a great day.

    1. LOL you are exaggerating how fast I was! One of the things I've learned though is that I take my 10 min walk breaks right after I've run a mile....kept stopping to walk at the same point in the loop! So glad you enjoyed it in spite of the snowy weather!

  3. Your story is amazing Sophia, great job in the race! I've also been loving the posts on instagram lately about your daughters marathon training.

    I've nominated you for a Leibster award because I enjoy reading your blog and your story :), the details are on this post:

    1. Thanks Terry! Hope you'll have some patience, as I am not always good with updating my blog regularly. I'll let you know when it's posted!

  4. Hi there! My name is Cameron Von St. James and I had a quick question for you & was wondering if you could please email me when you have a free moment. Thanks! I really hope to hear from you soon and appreciate you taking the time. ☺ cvonstjames AT gmail DOT com