Sunday, 25 May 2014

My shameful secret

The natural assumption is I can bike, swim and that a triathlon is the natural progression. My dirty secret is that I can't swim or bike. I never learned either as a child. In 2008, I took a 3 hour adult learn to bike course and can ride about 200 m down the street, but can't even turn a corner without falling. I went home after the class to practice and I SAW people leaning out of their cars and on their porches, pointing and laughing at me. It was not my imagination. So fast forward to today and I got my bike out for the first time since 2008. Rode a straight farther than I ever have before, maybe 500 m? and turned my first corner but along the way crashed several times into trees, cars, curbs and fell off. And because it was a nice day, people were outside, staring and laughing.

I know I "should" not care what other people think, but the shame is so strong. What to do about it?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Why I refuse to trail run

Every year, when the spring thaw comes, pretty much everyone I know heads out on the trails.  Not me.  "Just try it, you might like it!" they plead.  Nope nope nope.  These are the reasons why I will stick to the roads.

Mud and general messiness

I joke about fearing shoulder deep mud and water crossings wrecking my outfits, but seriously, mud washes off.  This is the least of my concerns.


Not only do I seem to get bitten far more than the average person, I have a very bad reaction to bites.  I have gotten bitten on my hands while wearing a jacket and long pants, inside a restaurant, and inside my car.  While wearing copious amounts of Muskol. The swelling that follows a bite can only be relieved by prescription strength antihistamines.

I like my ankles

I have broken my right ankle (fell down on grass while playing tag when I was 7) and sprained both ankles multiple times.  Every time I have injured my ankles, it's taken longer and longer to heal.  I fear the next time I fall down, it will be the Big One that puts me out of commission for months.  I've faceplanted on an unseen acorn or something while on the practically paved Chedoke Radial trail.  I can't imagine what a klutz like me would do when confronted with something more technical.

Bronte Creek Provincial Park: This is as trail-like as I get.

Occasionally, I do feel the urge to get closer to nature and I'll run in Bronte Creek or on the Red Hill trail. But I keep my eyes on the ground at all times, wear a lot of bug spray and I'm always relieved when I complete the run unscathed.  Or I'm super annoyed when I find new welts on my person and have to spend the next few days doped up on drugs.

I hope these are valid enough reasons to appease my trail-loving friends who can't seem to understand why I stick to the roads.  It's not about being open to trying new things.  It's because I can't.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

from the EachCoach newsletter

I've been minimally involved with EachCoach, occasionally getting a blurb printed in the weekly updates in the National Post.  I had a phone interview with Ben Kaplan last Tuesday and thought my picture would make last week's column and was somewhat disappointed when it didn't.  But then this email landed in my inbox this morning:

Amazing, inspiring, high five-worthy work on Sunday! Thanks for contributing your adventures to our page! You crossed your finish line, and are awesome.

Now, the big question is: What are you going to run next? No point training all winter just do stop here. Let us know: What will your next goal be?

As ever, here's a picture we love. This is Patty, a piano teacher who ran Mississauga, and needed help to make it across the finish line. "This was my ninth marathon and I made a stupid error," she says. "I thought I'd learned my lesson, but apparently not." 

We received all sorts of pictures, but chose Patty's for one reason. During her race, the worst thing happened. But Patty's not giving up. "Maybe I won't run another marathon until 2015, although, when I say that, that seems like a really long time," she says. "I want to cross that finish line on my own.

What are you running next? Whatever it is, let us know. We want to be there cheering you on.

Stick with it,
Ben and the EachCoach team

Monday, 5 May 2014

I am a sub 4 marathoner

Pre race goals: 
base: upright and smiling 
stretch: PB (4:10:28) 
reach: sub 4 

In the weeks leading up to the race, all I could think about was my TFL issue, considering there was quite a bit of pain even in my little 3.5K shakeout on Thursday. I got the KT tape people to tape it up at the expo, and initially it caused more referral pain, but by the time we left the expo, my leg was feeling significantly better. 

Race morning, I slapped a large amount of Voltaren on my hip and IT band, taped up both and met Sam J. and Amy D. at a plaza near Sam's house. 

Walking to the meetup and standing outside, it was COLD COLD COLD. Almost regretted the short sleeves, but I knew it would be much warmer in the sun. The first half was uneventful. Very uneventful. We talked a bit, probably more than Robin would have liked to. On Indian Road and Truscott, she told me to draft behind her to cut the headwind and it definitely made a difference. Aside from a little bit of strategic passing, the goal was to conserve energy for the end. Robin B.'s strategy was to run up the hills easy, which I thought I have done in the past, but not as easy as she ran them. 

1st half - 1:57:12. Right on pace. 

Then things got ugly. I was mentally prepared for brutal winds in the Lakeshore/Southdown stretch and was still drafting behind Robin, but I was a few metres behind. I didn't like running behind her because it felt like I was constantly trying to catch up. Made it to 20 miles still on pace. Robin giving me the pep talk "just an hour left!" "single digit countdown!" I took my 4th and last gel at 33K. STUPIDEST NEWBIE MISTAKE EVER. In past marathons, my fueling strategy has been 5 gels, one every 7K. Somehow I totally forgot this and only brought 4 with me. You'd think I'd compensate by taking Gatorade at aid stations..nope, water only. 

I'm sure you can figure out what happened next. I was falling off pace, Robin pretty much screamed at me non-stop, "HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT THAT SUB 4? DO YOU WANT TO BLOW IT WITH LESS THAN 5K TO GO?! DO YOU WANT TO GET THIS DONE NOW OR GO HOME AND THINK ABOUT IT UNTIL THE FALL?" I was trying desperately to keep up but my legs were rebelling. I'd stop for a 5 second walk break and Robin would stop, turn around and physically shove me onward. 

In my dazed state, I saw Greg at the 40K mark. At this point, I was barely functional but he knew that his job was to get me to the finish. I knew I was wasting energy by saying "I can't!!!" and at that point I was thinking I already had a huge PB in the bag and forget about sub 4. But Robin kept yelling... 

Then at 41K, I went down. Greg and Robin each grabbed one of my hands and pulled me back up. Apparently Elaine F. and Phil L. were there but I did not see them. Made the turn into Lakefront Promenade and I could see the number on the clock was a 4. The original plan, Greg was supposed to jump off since he wasn't a registered runner but I needed both of them to pull me along. I saw Sam J. and Irina S. cheering and crossed the finish line and went down immediately. But I stopped my Garmin! lol There have been several races where I thought, "I'm gonna give it all I've got and the medics are going to have to cart me off the course in a wheelchair." I didn't think it would actually happen but it did. 

In the medical tent, I poured water and Gatorade down my throat and recovered to stagger out to the finish, where Emma I. and Amy D. were getting their medals. I will always be sad I didn't get to see them finish! 

I had a little ache in the outer part of my foot so I thought a massage would be a good idea. I sat down to wait and then my hip flexor cramped up. Then both my calves, multiple times. And my foot joined in as well. I'm lying on the massage table with ice packs everywhere, freezing to death and it was hard to tell if my body was shaking from the cold or the cramps. Greg showed me the FB post with my chip time and if I wasn't so cold and in pain, I would have cried tears of joy. Every time I tried to move, another part of my leg cramped up again. So the massage people got another wheelchair and back to the medical tent I went, where I laid flat on my back and the nice medic people iced and massaged me a bit more gently and was finally able to stand up and stagger to the shuttle. My hip and IT band never gave as much as a twinge all day. 

So after 9 marathons, I have finally dipped under 4 hours, but not in the triumphant, fist-pumping way that I had imagined. I am SO SO SO SO eternally grateful to Robin, for putting up with me, especially since at the start Emma told her that I am not prone to whining and that's pretty much all I did for the last 10K. I am also completely grateful to Greg, because Robin could not have dragged me over the finish by herself.

This picture speaks louder than words.

Official chip time: 3:59:26 

Field Placement: 304 / 722 (42.1%) 
Age group: 30 – 39 
Group Placement: 36 / 86 (41.9%) 
Gender Placement: 98 / 305 (32.1%)