Posts categorized "Running"

Hitting the (Goal) Wall

I haven't blogged much about running this year, mostly because I haven't blogged much about anything and because I was in a nice routine and routines don't really make more interesting blog posts.

Except that stuff got pretty interesting and I don't mean the half marathon (which was great!) 

By interesting, I mean messed up, but it took me a while to get myself to the point where I would accept that I'm not going to make my running goals this year.

Back in late June I started getting weird pain and numbness in my right leg.  I had a really sore spot in my butt that I figured was a result of tight hamstrings or IT bands or something sport related.  Ball hockey season was coming to an end and we had some pretty intense games, I got injured or something, no biggie.  I would just take it easy and it would go away.

Except it didn't.  I couldn't sit for more than 5 minutes without pain shooting down my leg.  I got another sore spot in the bottom of my foot.  Google was saying sciatica AND plantar fasciitis and it was all sounding horrible.  And ya, I shouldn't have googled...but I wanted to fix what was wrong with me and didn't think it warranted medical intervention beyond physiotherapy (which was helpful, but didn't make the symptoms go away).

I was having a hard time at work (I sit 99% of my day) and I couldn't stand being in the car (of course this summer we drove almost every weekend, sometimes up to 8 hours on a trip).  It was horrid.

Did I stop running?  


In a lot of ways it felt better to move than not to move.  It didn't hurt at all to run and the leg numbness would go away.  So I kept at it.

By September I realized stuff wasn't getting better.  I finally went to the doctor. Turns out I have an L5, S1 herniated disc.


That's old, sedentary person stuff.  Not 40-something, in the best shape of my life, happy healthy stuff.

Turns out that sitting all day is one of the main culprits and that my active lifestyle and healthy weight kept things from being worse.  No one is sure what caused the injury (usually there's something) though I suspect it's either ball hockey since there's lots of twisting and some body contact or it might have been my new bike.

The much loved coaster brake took some getting used to and I'm pretty sure in the beginning I was coasting to an almost stop, stepping down and then using my body to come to a full stop.  That's not a good thing to do, especially with a 22kg bike.  I've really started thinking about how I stop and have tried to not do that anymore.

Regardless of the how it happened, I now have to live with it.  The treatment: core work.  Pilates in particular.  Also, lay off the running, get up every 20 minutes at work, be careful on the bike.  I added, no more high heels (sniff, I have some poor Fluevogs that need to hibernate for a bit).

I didn't lay off the running right away since the half marathon was a few weeks away from the diagnosis.  In fact I kept running but at very low mileage until about 2 weeks ago.  Now I've stopped completely.  Getting the flu made that easier, but now I'm almost recovered and I look longingly at my shoes and get jealous when I see other people running along.

I have never been a very high distance runner, I average about 20kms a week but I miss getting out there a LOT.  I need that exercise for stress reduction.  I feel better when I get out and move.  I don't want to gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose.  I'm not even thinking about ball hockey even though Spring sign ups are only a few weeks away.

Sad thing is, that week in bed really helped.  The shooting pains are gone and my butt and foot are almost better.  The herniated disc presses on my sciatic nerve and I need to get the disc goo back in place to stop that pain.  Rest is the key.

Stupid rest.

I've also started Pilates back classes.  My physiotherapist is also a Pilates instructor and has started a series of classes aimed at rehabilitation for those with back problems.  It seems to be helping.  I need to get a bit more disciplined about doing the exercises at home, but I like the active approach to managing this.

I was really hoping to run 1000km again this year.  

And I got so close.

Running goal
I'm still debating whether I start a slow run again next week or try to just walk instead (less jarring) or just give up on the goal and find an alternative exercise.  

It's all wait and see.  I'm considering a gym membership so I can use an elliptical trainer (no room for one in my house) but I hate gyms and the idea I have to actually GO somewhere and not just run out the door when I feel like it. 

I've also been assessed for a sit-stand desk for my office.  I have 25 years of work ahead of me and I don't want sitting to make things worse.

So that's my running story for 2012.  I'm not setting a distance goal in 2013.  I need to see what my body wants to do.  Right now, I'm just hoping that running is a part of my exercise routine next year.

Which was more challenging?

What a weekend!  Two big things happened:

1. I finished Breakwater (Rhinebeck sweater number 2)

2. I finished my first Half Marathon

Which was more challenging?

The sweater.  It was a total slog.  I realized a few things about what I like to knit when making a sweater getting through this one.  

I have no problem with endless stockinette but I hate top down sweaters.  The endless rounds with no end in sight, the flipping around of the sleeves and the dpns, the monotony just about killed me.

This is no slight on the pattern which is simple and straightforward; it's about my knitting style and it's good to know what that is.  


The yarn is Indigodragonfly MCN sock in The World is Doomed! (Giles) and I love it.  The colour is a pleasant neutral and while it seemed loose and wobbly in the sweater while I was knitting it, after a wash and a dance in the dryer it came out full and soft and fantastic.


This is a knitted sweatshirt and it's great.

I skipped the waist shaping because it doesn't work on my body but should have tapered in the body a bit after I divided for the sleeves.  I needed the 38" size for the shoulders and bust, but not the rest of me.  I know better for later (note to self: remember and listen to myself when this arises!)

Now for the Half Marathon.

It was awesome. I had so much fun.  Even two days later, I'm still riding on the crest of accomplishment (and perhaps endorphins--I still hurt).

The day didn't start out promising because it was raining.  Hard.  I hate running in the rain.  

At least the temperature was a warmish 14C so I put on my big girl pants and my running hat and made myself a garbage bag rain cape and fretted about a wet race on our short drive over to City Hall for the start.

I also had on the most awesome armwarmers.  That helped my mood.

Arm warmers











After a wet and long wait for the porta-toilet (a pre-race must), I got myself over to my starting coral and the rain stopped.  Perfect timing.  I started to feel the good anxious instead of the impending doom anxious.

I decided the day before that I would run with the 2hr 15minute pace bunny since I knew I could run the race in that time and thought the pacer would keep me on target.  

We started and it was all good.  Except I was having trouble keeping to the pace.  It was too slow.  

I stuck with him for 6km and then noticed I was creeping up on my pace and just went with it.  I chatted with a really nice seasoned runner during this time. He was in his 60s and this 1/2 was a warmup to his full marathon this weekend in Amsterdam!  He told me I looked comfortable and could up my pace and was really encouraging.  

So I did.  And I got faster.  We met a few times more and he said something really interesting: "I bet right now you're thinking, I wonder how much further I could run?"

And he was right.  I had such a good time and felt so good, I am thinking that. It's crazy.

Here are my splits (according to my Garmin, so they won't be perfect) and I ran the last 5km fast.  

Half marathon splits




















My brother who came to see me at 8km and 17km said I looked good and like I could have ran faster (he's very sporty so I welcome his advice).  

I had a great race finishing in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 30 seconds and I'm happy with that, but also think I could have started faster and maintained a faster pace throughout.  

21.1km in 2:11:30. Go me.

(I was totally hurting once I stopped running.  But man that post-race burger tasted good!)

It wouldn't take off a lot of minutes, but probably a few and I realize that while I want to let go of time goals, I am motivated by them and I need to work with that.

I guess I'll find out on my next one.

Wish me luck, or something

I'm running in the Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon tomorrow morning.

It seemed like such a good idea when I entered in April. 

Now I'm freaking out.

Holy crap a half marathon is 21.1km.

I've kept up a reasonable running program, but nothing like those weekly emails I've been sent with a sample training plan.  I'm not getting in the distance recommended for a 2:30 walk/run finishing time.  I'm not sure what that means except I know I will be faster than 2:30.

But I've done the long runs (longest was 18km) and I feel good so it'll be okay.

Except for the stupid rainy forecast.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Nature Run

I try to run 3 to 4 times a week and most weeks I succeed.  I'm a bit boring in that I have about 10 routes I follow depending on the distance, weather, time of day (no Don Valley trail at night for example) and if I feel like hills or not.  Right now I'm pretty sick of them all and need to scope out some new spots to go that don't involve me getting in my car to get there.  I have considered hopping on the subway, going to a suitable distance away and then running home, but even that seems like a lot of work to change up the scenery.

Last weekend I was away in Tweed and really did get to mix things up.  The cottage is situated along part of the Trans Canada Trail and I get the luxury of running in quiet surroundings, on gravel (nice on the legs) with new, pretty and interesting things to look at.

The view 2km in, as I cross through Tweed to re-connect with the trail.  It's a palette factory.  They seem to be busy.


On my run

If I go the opposite direction towards I'm not sure where (but sorta north) about 4km, I see very few people (the odd walkers and ATV types) and there's this nice bridge:

On my run

While natural settings are nice, there aren't a lot of markers of my progress.  This bridge gets me almost to my turn-around point on a 10km run and that's a good thing.

On this run I stopped and had a look.  There's quite a beaver dam near this bridge (didn't see the beaver though).

Beaver dam

Closest to home is the prettiest view.  It's great right now because there are no leaves on the trees and Lake Stocco isn't full of weeds yet.  

More run

It also means I'm less than a kilometer from finishing.  That's always a nice thing.

Happy New Year! (with some goal setting mixed in)

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2012.  For those of you doing the 12 knitted things in '12 may your needles be swift and your projects delightful.  For everyone, I wish health, happiness and a stash that makes you happy.

Me, I'm not any more reflective than I usually am about stuff.  But since this blog has always been intended as a space to say what I like, I'll put forth a few goal like things:

Running:  I want to match my 1000km running goal (btw I ran 1036km in total over 150 runs!!!) and I'm considering entering a 1/2 marathon this year.  Truth be told, I will be 42 in July and a full marathon is 42km, so I'm stewing over the idea of doing a full, where perhaps I will discover the meaning of life, the universe and everything in my exercise induced euphoria.  (See what I mean about my self-reflexivity?)

Spinning: It's like many people's get healthy goals.  I once again vow to spin more often.  I haven't done more than dust my wheels since the summer.  Must try to develop a more regular practice and improve my spinning.

Weaving: This winter I need to weave Craig the scarf I promised two winters ago.  Maybe I'll warp the loom today just to get things started.  This is one craft I feel I have balance with.  I pull out the loom when I want a scarf and put it away when I'm done.  I could learn more about it, but I don't feel any burning desire to tackle it now (saving it for my retirement).

Knitting: It was a good year for me.  I completed 6 sweaters, 2 pairs of socks, 7 accessories (hats, scarves etc) and a blanket.  I have a few FO's on the go and don't like to over plan my knitting life since well, other life does tend to get in the way.  I would like to tackle some stashed projects, knit some knee socks with some handspun sock yarn (already spun) and make stuff that makes me happy since that's really what it's all about.

Finished objects, 2011

(I love these mosaics!)

Stash: My stash is healthy.  It doesn't really give me much stress until it moves beyond the furniture I have to contain it in.  Right now, I actually have empty storage spaces so I'm pretty content.  The biggest problem is that I have so many nice yarns and fibres and not enough time to play with them all.  For 2012 I will continue to add to the stash wisely, sell or give away what doesn't give me pleasure and keep working on getting the yearly kilometers of yarn equal or less than the 2011 number of: 57.14km.  (I like how that sounds much better than in metres!)  That's down from 65km last year so that ain't bad.  One way I do this is by making sure my stash is up to date in Ravelry.  Then I can shop in my "personal yarn store" before I venture out and buy yarn.

Career: This was a good and bad year for me at my job. I don't blog about work much because I don't think my big boss likes it very much (because I've been chastised for my time online in the past).  Even saying that might be too much, but really, I do feel that I should be able to write about my work in a general way (ie not blog the content of my work, but what I'm working on) and how I FEEL ABOUT my work.  (That felt good to say).

I was fortunate to be selected into a mentorship program in 2011 and it was a great opportunity for me to make connections in the University, learn from someone who does a very different job than me and to spend time thinking about what I want to do next in my career.  I have some good ideas and I'm thinking about what I might do to get there, like... 

  • Project management courses with possibility of getting PMP certification
  • Talking to more people at the University to learn about their work and their career paths
  • Thinking about work outside the University.  I really like academia as a place to work but wonder if I'm limiting myself by trying to carve out a career in one place (which has fantastic benefits and good work/life balance).  I plan to do a bit more exploring of the world outside the ivory tower and see what other opportunities Toronto has to offer me.

Wow, that's a lot more goal setting than I planned when I started this post.  But there it is.  I am still the #womanwhogetsshitdone and now I'm going to have a nice long bubble bath!

I would love to hear your goals too!



I tweeted this after my run on Monday, but want it on my blog for posterity...

I have logged 1001.5km in 2011!

My goal was 1000km for this year and I hit it with 18 days to spare.  WOOT!

I'm a data geek and so I've been using Runkeeper to log my distance and moved it all to excel to get some metrics on my running.  I'm pretty pleased with what I see.  I'm not going to win any races (even for my age group) but I've got a good solid running routine and I'm feeling fantastic!

I haven't set a running goal for 2012 yet, but I have some ideas swirling around.  I'll consider them on my next few runs and let you know what I decide.


Sunday, November 13, 2011: Running in Shorts

Tonight, after a long day of not going for my usual Sunday long-ish run, I decided to head out for a 5-6km run, just to say I did some exercise today.

Check the weather:

Note this is 2 hours after I checked.  It's 12-freakin'-Celcius outside.  In November.  In Canada!

I put on SHORTS and head out.  I'm too hot in my lightest long sleeved shirt by 1km.  

It is beautiful out.  The wind is rustling all the leaves on the ground.  The air is warm and just a bit crisp.  It smells like autumn--not a hint of winter.

By 6km, I decide I'll do 7.  

I stop and take in the skyline over Riverdale Park.  I love my city.

By 7km, I tell myself it's less than 20 more minutes to do 10km.

I run 10km.  Feel great.  Happy Fall.  I wish it would stay like this until Spring.

Midsummer Night's Run


On Saturday night I ran the Midsummer Night's Run 15km race (almost 10 miles, or 1/3 marathon as I liked to call it).  
It was an interesting format.  We started at 6:45pm and run through an industrial area by the Lakeshore into a park/wetland/nature reserve on Lake Ontario and back (Leslie Spit for you Toronto types).  It's dark by finish time.  People dress up with wings and funny costumes and there are Pace Faeries and other silliness.  We all got race shirts with wings painted on the back and the front says:
It was a nice run, but I found waiting all day to do it was rough.  I was home alone (which was not rough--I knit and watched a lot of Weeds) but didn't know what to do with myself, when to eat etc.  But of course, the whole point is that it's a night run, so having it in the morning wouldn't make much sense.
That being said, I had an awesome run.  10km is the longest race I've done before and I set myself a goal of 1hr 30min for this one.  It was tough, but I came through in 1:29:31!
I was 57th out of 281 for my age (40-49) so I felt really good about my time.  I am a tad sore even today (it was a rough bike ride into work this morning) and have been eating anything that isn't nailed down (I rather like that part).
I'm am feeling like I would rather run shorter distances faster than proceed to a half marathon.  I confess that by 12km I wanted it to be over--not so much physically as mentally--I was almost bored.  The thought of 22km and running for 2.5 hours is not particularly pleasant.  My hat is off to anyone who does it.  Maybe it's because I've only run with others twice since I started running.  Maybe a half with a buddy to chat with would be fine.  I'm not sure.
Here I am after the race.
Midsummer run
It started to rain at the 13km mark and it was hot so I dumped my water over my head at the last water station, hence the drowned rat look.  But you can see I'm happy and that's BEFORE the 2 pints of Guiness, lasagne dinner and sticky toffee pudding (I swear I run for beer).  


Kicked it!

I ran the Sporting Life 10km on Sunday--my first race--and I'm super pleased with my result!

55 minutes, 24 seconds.  That's over 2 minutes less than my best training time.  Go me!

I placed in the top 30% for my age group and for women overall.  And I caught the racing bug.  It was awesome to run with 12,000 other people, seeing the sea of runners going down Yonge St.  and just trying my best.  I confess that I think I could have pushed a smidge harder because I wasn't dead when I finished, but I didn't want to walk over the line either--I guess this comes with experience.


Here I am with Glenna C (who also had a personal best awesome run!) after the race.  I'm loaded up with clothes because I'm freezing (I'm a sweaty runner)--I looked much sleeker when I was on the course :)

Next race? The 15km Midsummer Night's Run in August.  If I can find a 5km or 10km in between I might do that too, but I've wanted to do the night run for a while and am looking forward to it.

Running Update: Who Have I Become?!

I know I haven't been the most prolific blogger lately, and I'm sure I haven't talked about running in months.  So it's time for an update.

I'm still running.  And I like it.  A lot.

I ran all winter, increasing my distance per run and distance per month.  I'm getting stronger and faster.  I feel fantastic and I even get a bit cagey when I don't get a chance to run for a few days.  I almost *need* to go--I call it running away from home (So far, I always come back).  I ran in the cold and the snow and the bleh, but I still don't run in the rain (I hate cold and rainy, it chills me to the bones and I just don't do it).

I even signed up to run the Sporting Life 10km run May 1.  My first race with a number and a chip to time me and the chance to completely make an ass of myself amongst a crowd of 15,000 other runners.  I'm terrified and excited all at the same time.

Though really, I know I'll be fine.  When I started running way back whenever, I couldn't even run for 2 minutes straight.  Then I was up to 5km.  Now I can run 10km in under an hour consistently and am running between 25 and 30km a week.  

Who have I become?!

I dunno, but I rather like her.

I'll let you know how the race goes.