Monday, 5 May 2014

My Defining Moment at the Vancouver Marathon

SPOILER!! To my surprise I did PB my marathon time!!

Passing kilometre 37 of the Vancouver Marathon, the rain not letting up once the entire race, wind blowing harder and colder. I can nearly see the end of Stanley Park. I felt so defeated and demoralized, the marathon was laughing at me.  I came all the way to Vancouver to run this marathon I was not leaving without a medal.

My legs and body were betraying me. I replayed the last 2 days and back to the last few months of my training, where did I go wrong, did I not fuel properly, maybe I'm really not  made for the marathon.

The final 5k of the race were the most agonizing and painful 5k I have ever run, taking nearly an hour to complete.

By the time I could see the finish line 250 metres away, the longest 250 metres I have ever witnessed. I was numb, unaware of my surroundings, I no longer felt the pain I just kept reminding my legs to keep going.

As soon as I crossed that finish line and left the finishing chute I bent over with my hands on my knees gasping for air. Eyes welled with tears asking myself, what am I doing, promising myself to never put myself through this type of physical and mental anguish.

I had been training for a 4 hour marathon but had a very rough winter training from weather to injury. I reassessed and believed a 4:15-4:25 marathon time was attainable. I was on track, I had gas left in my tank, I was feeling strong and confident but so quickly all that came crumbling down.

Running is suppose to be fun, suppose to keep us fit and healthy. After this experience I think running is actually hurting me. I'm sitting here typing and every muscle in my body hurts, walking up or down stairs hurts even more. Running should leave us feeling good, so why doesn't it?

Perhaps I'm pushing too hard, setting expectations too high. I know I'm never going to win a race or even come close to ever making money from running. I run because I love it, yet after many races I curse racing and say never again yet 1 month later sign up for another race.

When I first started running I never obsessed about my pace or time I just ran because it felt right and I enjoyed it. Now my eyes are glued to my watch, checking my pace deciding if I can push a little harder without pushing over the edge.

Running shouldn't be something I stress about, my friend Catherine always reminds me "running is a gift". It really is, we are very lucky we are able to lace on our shoes and run, whether it's for 10 minutes or 5 hours.

I want to go back to enjoying running, I don't want to feel defeated or left feeling like I got hit by a truck after a race. Running my first marathon last fall, not worrying about a time just going out there and having fun, I want to go back to that. I was really having fun, smiling and laughing after 42.2km run.

Every good tale has a defining moment, the Vancouver marathon was my defining moment. Perhaps pushing my body to the ultimate edge is not what I want. I no longer want to race marathons but I will certainly run more marathons.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Every Running Shoe Has a Tale to Tell

Since I began running I've gone through 2 pairs of shoes and onto my third. When my mom told me to donate the old ones that I no longer wear not even as "running to the store" shoes I realized I've become quite attached to these shoes. They all have a story to tell.


Nimbus 14

The very first pair of running shoes I bought to begin "training" for my first 10K race and half marathon. Didn't know anything about shoes just knew I liked the colour and they were pretty comfy.

These shoes will tell you it sat for weeks on end and whenever the sun came out we went on stupidly long runs without ever building up the distance.

These shoes ran through snow and discovered the Waterfront and Don Valley trails with me for the first time. These shoes experienced the excitement of being at the start line of a race with me for the first time too.

They've now become my winter/running on ice and snow shoes. Put some Ice Spikes in the bottom and they're rediscovering the snowy icy trails of the Lower Don.

Shoes that helped me run my first race can never be thrown out.




Nimbus 15

I bought these shoes just before I began training for my first marathon. I fell in love with the Nimbus and stuck with the same model when the time came to buy new shoes.

I hit many new milestones with these shoes, longest distances, running through wind, rain and mud. These shoes sat many days with newspaper stuffed in it absorbing all the water from wet rainy runs. It's heard many conversations between my friends and running partners Liz & Llorene on those long runs lasting 4+ hours.

These shoes helped me complete my very first marathon on October 20th, 2013. My very first 42.2. They certainly aren't going anywhere!

Nimbus 15

Another pair of Nimbus 15, I guess when you find something that works for you, you stick with it.

These were the first pair of shoes that experienced running 4 days a week, track days and -20C temperatures. It might have been November but I was training for my second half marathon in these shoes. My first out of town race, a half marathon in San Diego California.

I PBed my half marathon time in these shoes. They aren't going anywhere.

1 hour after completing that race these shoes walked 6 miles on the Boardwalk from Pacific Beach to Mission Beach and back. Good day, good weather and even better friends.

Through winter 2014 I have been doing all my outdoor training runs in these shoes. I have another pair that currently do indoor runs and are itching for nicer road conditions to come out.

Nimbus 15

Same shoe different colour. These shoes are destained to help me PB my full marathon time at BMO Vancouver Marathon in May, 2014.

They've ran many mile repeats, fartleks and sprints on treadmills and indoor tracks. When the road conditions get better they'll be out on more runs. For now they're quite comfortable indoors.

This story isn't complete yet, not until it sees the view of beautiful Vancouver BC and crosses the finish line of my second marathon.

They're also in my favourite shade of blue! :)

Nimbus 15

This story is still unwritten. As a runner when you see your favourite running shoe for more than 50% off you buy it. As you can probably tell, I have a favourite running shoe.

These shoes have big hopes and dreams. These shoes are going to train all summer and do what it takes to help me try to achieve my Boston Qualifier of 03:35 at a fall marathon.

They've got a big job to do but I know they're up for the challenge.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Train. Race. Friendship.

There is no doubt that the running community is special. We can all agree we are an odd breed of people, many of us by our freedom of choice choose to run in negative 30 degree temperatures and call it FUN!

Through running I have made countless friendships, through run meet ups or running teams. It was incredible meeting so many inspiring, amazing and incredible athletes. Whenever I tried explaining this feeling of the community to "non-running" friends (which there aren't many of these days). They just don't get it.

So what do I do? I recruit those friends to become "running friends" as well!

One of my really close friends Andrew always told me, "one day I will run a 5K with you".


One day was finally going to happen, not just a 5K but a 10K at this years Yonge Street 10K on Sunday April 13th!

Literally 25 minutes from the start of our conversation my friend Andrew was signed up for his VERY FIRST RACE! Yonge St. 10k quickly became the race I was most excited for this year. Having the chance to share the race experience with a close friend made it that much  more special.


Andrew is one of the nicest and most inspiring people I know and I am very grateful to call him my friend. When he sets out to do something his determination and drive will get him there, there is no doubt in my mind that he will succeed.

10:15pm and by 10:34pm Andrew was
OFFICIALLY
registered for his first race!
We have been keeping each other motivated thus far with training. Updating each other on new milestones and setbacks. We are both very excited to be racing TOGETHER April 13th, 2014.






I told him, "this is your first race but certainly not going to be your last" I am almost certain he will be running marathons in no time!


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Effective GRID Foam Rolling for Runners

**This post is done with the assistance of SMRT Core Certified trainer Quintin V. With his guidance we have put together a short outline of all the areas you should target when foam rolling before & after running. Have a questions Tweet @KOP7777!**


As a runner soreness and injuries are inevitable and it’s not a coincidence that you see runners swearing by their foam rollers.
So how does it work and better question is why does it work so well?
You know that tight sore feeling you get pre run, feeling like your muscles are still tight and not warmed up, or after one too many kilometers? It might not have anything to do with your muscles; it is probably your fascia.
Myofascia
Fascia is a collagen-based layer of fibrous tissue; it surrounds muscles, muscle groups, blood vessels and nerves, bringing together structures within the body. Imagine it as a layer of cushioning throughout your entire body. Fascia also allows other structures in your body to move and slide smoothly over atop each other. Fasciae are very flexible structures with the innate ability to resist unidirectional tension forces.

Lack of activity can cement these fibers into place causing the stiff tight feeling. Constant stress to the fibers can cause them to thicken as a defence to your underlying muscles.
The good news, any damage done to the fascia is 100% reversible with rest!
SMRT Core Roller - The Grid
SMRT Core rolling techniques works with the theory that through sustained posture, injury, or repetitive movement, adhesions within the myofascial network are created.  These adhesions are thought to inhibit normal movement and therefore negatively impact muscular performance.  The use of SMRT Core Roller brings about localized muscular stretching, pressure, friction and temperature change.  It is believed that these changes help “break up” adhesive scar tissue and improve muscle extensibility and function.


The GRID Foam Roller isn’t just for post workout, it is actually a great way to warm up your muscles pre workout!



Before a Run 
  • Long rolls to get the muscles moving, imagine rolling out like taking the hand brake off your car before driving.

After Run
  • Require short rolls to release the adhesions created through running.
** If before or after is not indicated the technique can be used for both **

Calves & Gastrocnemius
Long rolls over calves.
Short rolls over both gasrocs, one leg at a time.
Quadriceps
Long rolls over quadriceps.


Short rolls with your knee bent at 90 degrees.
With quad static on roller bend knee to 90 degrees
and straighten out slowly.


Peroneals
Slow long rolls over the peroneal on each of your legs.


IT Band


Find 90 degrees then pivot pelvis 15 degrees to the ground.


Glutes


Sitting on your roller, cross your right leg over your left knee and lean towards your right glute. Small rolls over your glute. Switch sides and keep your hands on the floor for support. 



Tibialis Anterior


Roll back and fourth while trying to keep most of your weight over your shins and not in your hands.


It will take no longer than 10 minutes to go through all of these and your body will thank you for it!

Friday, 21 February 2014

ARC'TERYX KAPTA JACKET - REVIEW

If you didn't know Arc'teryx made running gear now you do! Their ENDORPHIN line is intended for trail & endurance running, XC skiing, aerobic and multi sports. 

I was really excited when I got this jacket, I wanted to love it as much as I love all my other Arc'teryx gear...but I just couldn't. I'll tell you what I loved and didn't love so much about the Arc'teryx Kapta Jacket

ARC'TERYX KAPTA JACKET: RIPTIDE

What I like:

Moisture Wicking Fabric: I wore it on a short run when the weather was hovering around 2 degrees. With the fabric directly touching my skin I was concerned about sweat getting trapped on my arms and body. I sweat easily and a lot, this jacket was up for the challenge. I didn't feel cold or sweaty throughout the run. 

Fit: Fits true to the size, I am 5"2 and 130lbs a small fits perfect!

Colour: I love the Riptide blue!

Thumb Holes: Really soft, stretchy thumb holes. Nothing that digs into your hands. 


What I don't Like:

Seams: The seams are really big throughout the entire jacket. I'd be very concerned about chafing on longer runs if you are wearing just a tank or t-shirt under it.  

Lack of Pockets: There is ONE credit card sized pocket with a hole for your headphone. No phone will fit in there, best if an iPod Nano fit. Besides the one pocket there is no other pockets. For a running jacket I'm looking for pockets to store keys, gels, IDs and money. 


Not Reflective: There are 4 reflective lines on the jacket the length of my index finger. 2 at the bottom of the jacket and one on either sleeve. No reflectors on the front of the jacket! (Hey Arc'teryx, in case you didn't know when you run in the dark you are suppose to run towards traffic, reflectors on the front would be helpful!)

Short: The jacket feels a bit short, I know it says it's a "trim fit top" but I am 5'2 and it felt a little short on me, felt like I was always trying to pull it down. I bit of extra length would be nice when running. 

No hood: It would be nice if this jacket had a hood or at least a hooded option. 


Needs a Zipper Garage: The zipper can zip right to the top of the jacket but it's very tedious and unrealistic to zip it all the way up if all it is going to do is drive into your neck. Would be nice to have a little zipper garage preventing the zipping from rubbing against my neck. 


I certainly like this jacket and will wear it a lot but probably not while running. 

Overall it's a good piece of gear but with a few tweaks and improvements it could be a great running piece. At the retail price of $150 it's a bit pricey for a standard moisture wicking running jacket. It didn't quite live up to the expectations I had for Arc'teryx gear but I do love it to wear for day to day life! 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

2013 Gear Winners & Losers

Some of my favourite gear from 2013 and one piece of gear that was a real loser in my book!

Winners

I've finally found MY running shoe, has the perfect balance of cushioning and stability. I ran my first half marathon in the Gel Nimbus 14s and a full in the Nimbus 15. I just picked up another new pair of the Gel Nimbus 15s to start my spring marathon training in! Not to mention they come in pretty awesome colours!


Finally an armband that fits like an iPhone case. If you're a runner like me that likes to take photos on your runs, this armband is PERFET! The camera cut out is a perfect fit! AND it FITS, adjustable to any arm size. The case fits fully flush to the iPhone which allows for easy to access buttons, touch screen and it doesn't trap sweat and fog up your iPhone. 

They say a runners best friend is their foam roller. My best friend is my Grid foam roller, nothing else compares. I've tried wine bottles, PVC pipes and the cheap $20 foam rollers. The Grid has never gotten soft on me and the different sections of the roller makes for an effective roll out. 

I loved my full size Grid so much I purchased a smaller travel size one to take with me to races. It's also a great travel companion because it is hallow, which allows you to stuff the inside with socks and underwear for easy packing. 
Can't run in the summer with out my Mission Sunscreen. The only sunscreen I've found that is actually anti-sting, doesn't make you feel oily or sticky even when sweaty. It is really engineered for athletes. Their Facestick is also awesome, easy to carry around about the size of a small glue stick. Also is anti-sting and doesn't even feel like you're wearing sunscreen. 

The best investment I've made so far with my winter running wear. It's a bit pricey at $110 but worth every penny. When it's -15C outside I can wear my Arc'Teryx Rho base layer and an outer shell to block wind and snow on my runs, long or short. (With my hands and head covered of course!) The best part about it is it's actually moisture wicking. The first run I wore it I thought "wow it's so cold I didn't even sweat!"because I couldn't feel the cold air down my back that I normally did with my Nike winter wear. I came home to find I was completely sweaty but the Arc'Teryx base layer kept me warm and the sweat away from me! I will not run in the winter without any thing besides my Arc'Teryx base layers. 

Losers: I only have one, but it is a big loser. 
Shattered iPhone after my iPhone flew out of
my "EaseFit" armband. Poor iPhone had
no chance.

Belkin EaseFit iPhone 5 Armband
Let me simply list all the faults of this armband:
- It doesn't fit smaller arms
- The plastic "EaseFit" snap is very uncomfortable
- No place for your headphones to come out of properly
- iPhone camera lens covered
- Traps sweat and causes the moisture to reach your iPhone. It actually got the moisture into my camera lens which took a couple of days to clear.
-  iPhone is not secure, the lousy flap doesn't keep the iPhone safe. Flew out of my armband on a long run. 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Tips for Your 1st Marathon

WHERE HAVE I BEEN!?

My last post was the day before lacing up for my first marathon on October 20, 2013 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon!

I bet you thought the marathon actually killed me and I was never going to return to do a race recap. Wrong. I'm here, couple months late but school, work and life just kind of got in the way of me and this post.

Since I am a few months late, instead of giving you a race recap let me give you tips for running your first marathon or any race! (Since I'm practically an expert now after just one!)

1. Stick to What you Normally Eat and Drink: You don't have to carb load or over hydrate yourself leading up to the race. Some people will argue otherwise, from my own experience if I eat an entire bowl of pasta the night before or over drink, I'll be setting myself up for trouble! Stick to what you normally do.

2. Dress Accordingly: Dress for the temperature and not the weather. If the weather is calling for rain, more than likely you are going to get wet. Instead of layering up remember when clothes get wet they are heavy and chances are they are not going to dry while you're running.

3. Nothing New on Race Day: No new shoes, no new socks, no new clothes. Especially no new nutrition! Stick with what you have been training with.

4. Start slow run slower: Race day excitement is going to get your adrenaline pumping and you're going to feel like Superman..or Superwomen. Remember to start slow and run slower, it doesn't even hurt to run 10-15 seconds than your planned pace. Let all the excitement and hype die down, remember you have 42.2KMs to go! This really helped me enjoy the whole marathon experience!

5. Have FUN: Remember the race is the celebration of all the training that led up to this event. Some people lose sight of all the hard work they put into getting to those 42.2KMs. Don't sweat it, it's suppose to be fun! SMILE! :) Even when you are at KM 38 and you are just about ready to jump on the bus remember "YOU CAN DO THIS!"

If you're getting set to run your first or hundredth marathon good luck you'll do fantastic! Not many people ever get to say they completed a marathon so enjoy the moment! Let me know how it goes in the comments section below!