Thursday, April 16, 2015

Oh, What a Race in Rotterdam!

Worth a thousand words.

What a race! I am so absolutely thrilled with my performance today.
Throughout this season, Coach Rick and I focused on marathon pace for all of my races leading up to my first attempt at the Olympic Standard. I ran that pace in November in the RememberRun 8 km and worked my way up to that pace for the March 1st Chilly Half. In the last month of training, I then gained a lot of fitness, including spending nearly 3 weeks in Texas/Florida. I wasn't very vocal with this marathon, rather just wanted to somewhat quietly do the work and take a shot at it.
Heading to Rotterdam via Amsterdam, I had great travel with no major jet lag issues, an amazing roommate from Paraguay, and no pressure going into the race. The weather looked decent with good temps and some wind. 
Heading into the race,I knew Miranda Boonstra, from the Netherlands wanted to hit her Olympic standard (it was already announced, unlike our standard as Athletics Canada is waiting for the IAAF to announce it first) of 2:28:00. She had two pacers and the four of us stuck together, on pace until 30 km. Unfortunately she started to suffer from bad leg cramps and I was forced to go ahead on my own. At that point, the headwind was nasty and I had to make a decision: 1. aim to continue on my own at that pace, to break 2:28:00, also the Canadian record, and possibly suffer, risking my chance at the CDN Olympic standard or 2. play it safe, stay strong and consistent, adjusting my effort based on the wind and guarantee myself the standard. With the wind and solo running for the remaining 12 km, I chose the safer option. It was the right choice.
Although it wasn't a PB (which is 2:28:32 from 2013), it was the best race I ever ran, mentally. I was very calm and relaxed. Every time I felt a physical struggle, I just kept the rhythm and waited for it to pass. And it did. It was the first marathon where I felt, "Wow, only x km to go!" as opposed to "Ugh, there's still x km to go!". The crowds were great, especially when I ran with their local, Miranda.
When I crossed the line and knew I had the (2012) Olympic standard and was informed I was third woman, well first I vomited, then came the happy tears and smiles. 
I ended up taking 2 hrs in doping control to give the required 90 mL sample but had my phone and the company of a few other runners around me, one being Miranda. It was so nice to get to know her.  In 2012 when I ran Rotterdam, I was 2 minutes slower than our standard. She was 8 seconds slower in the same race. Today I have our standard and again, she does not have her standard. Marathoning is incredibly tough. Having a perfect race at this level is rare. Very rare. I certainly look up to her, at age 42, continuing to commit and work incredibly hard at something in hopes to succeed with no guarantee. 
When asked at dinner with the Speed River group, by coach Dave Scott-Thomas what was next for racing, I replied with a smile, "You know, that is a question I am pleased to have no answer!". 
I am going to do some travelling in Europe for a few days as a mini vacation, where I can eat anything and enjoy the wonderful surroundings, returning home to Brantford on Thursday. It will be great to see the kids and Jonathan, who has been juggling his busy job and their schedules and care since I left.    

Eload fuel, every time! In each of the 8 bottles I had Eload Fly (carbohydrates) and Eload Endurance (carbohydrates and electrolytes) with one gel taped to the side. I practise in my training runs to know what works best for my GI. Then when it comes to racing, you have to listen to your body to know how much to take in. When I ran the 2013 STWM, I was drinking most of the fluid and gobbling the gels. But today, I took in about half of the fluids and gels, particularly in the beginning when I wasn't quite ready and in the end, when I had a few urges to vomit, which fortunately didn't happen until I crossed the line! Sorry to those around me! 

Great support from Saucony. Fancy race kit too.

So impressed with this Belgian guy's breakfast, race morning. 10 pieces of toast. Yes, I counted. 

My fabulous roommate, Carmen Martinez. Way to go on setting another marathon record of 2:35 for Paraguay today!

Great pacer, Stefan from Belgium. AND a father of FIVE!

Saucony Netherlands and Saucony Canada. Congrats, Gert-Jan Wasskink on your National bronze medal today.

Great pacing group with Miranda Boonstra and the two pacers. 

Solid finish, getting the job done. Photo: David Hiddleston.
Honoured to run with, and get to know Miranda Boonstra while in doping control together. 

Well, that was a first. Blood on the race number, which was on my back. Good 'ol chafing.

Beautiful flowers and trophy. Elegant vase.

Enjoying my first treat of peanut m&m's, after the race with Carmen.

A huge thank you and hug to every single one of these people (and many more): 

#TeamDuChene: Jonathan, Micah, Seth, Leah
Coach Rick & Josie Mannen
Sherri, Paul, Patricia - Essential Physiotherapy and Wellness
Naomi, David, Ashley - Therapeutic Massage Counsel 
Sue - stretching and breathing exercises and an active mom I look up to
Maureen, Jeanetta - childcare at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre
Celine, Jonathan’s parents, Uncle Glen & Aunt Joyce - helping care for the kids
James, Clayton - super great running friends
Eload - sports nutrition
Saucony - apparel and footwear
Liberte - yogurt
Chariot - running stroller

Friday, April 10, 2015

Love from Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you so much for your incredible love, prayers, and support, particularly this past year. 
Here are a few options, if you are interested in following the 2015 Rotterdam Marathon. 
Start time Sun., Apr 12 at 1000 h local time (6 hrs ahead):

NN Marathon Rotterdam 
Twitter: @MarathonRdam

Photo at Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre by Sean Allen with Brant News, April 2015. Love the 4 yr old Leah DuChene and Coach Rick photobomb!
Sean's story:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Surviving Another March Madness

I Survived Another March Madness
2012 March Madness
2013 March Madness

Late winter/early spring is always a busy time for Team DuChene and this one proved to be no different.
I am relieved to know that I survived:
Four consecutive 160 km weeks in the coldest month in recorded history.
Two consecutive 170 km weeks in two different training environments.
One 20 km tempo run, one 38 km long run, and one 6x1 mile repeat workout in the same week as six Disney excursions with my family.
My three kids' birthday parties in seven weeks.

Since racing a steady 74 minute Chilly Half Marathon on March 1, everything has nicely fallen into place. I had another 160 km week to transition into my highest two training weeks of 170 km/week, which were planned for Houston and Orlando.

Back in the fall, we knew it was going to be necessary to escape the Canadian winter in order to log some quality kilometres at the right time in preparation for my April marathon. I could build a base in the winter months and consistently cross train but would especially need reliable footing in order to take it to that next level of fitness.

Houston, Texas
Mary Davies graciously offered that I train and live with her and I gladly took her up on the offer. So, on March 7 I flew to Houston and spent 10 days with her and her family. It was absolutely amazing. Mary was so hospitable and I felt very much at home. Her husband and mother-in-law were super supportive of our schedules, and an integral part in meal preparation and childcare. I helped out with some dishes, meal prep and playing with the kids but it was nowhere near what I would have had to handle at home. Each and every day I napped and rested in bed for nearly two hours in the afternoon. Two hours! At home, at the most, it is 45 minutes. And in the evenings, I was in bed between 9-10 pm. Rest and sleep have been priorities during this build and being in Texas was the perfect opportunity to continue implementing this. I am so grateful for Mary and her family.
As for training, our coaches were able to work with each other's plans in order to optimize our opportunity as partners yet keep the consistency we were each used to. So when I arrived, Mary had just finished two difficult days and I was able to adjust to my new environment as we enjoyed our first runs together at an easy pace. When I was there, it was cool and gray. Mary kept apologizing for the "cold" conditions but I reminded her that it was nothing, coming from -35 C with the wind! We got into a good routine with our morning runs and afternoon cross training sessions at the gym. Our speed and tempo workouts were done at Rice University with her coach, Jim Bevan. Jim and I enjoyed chatting about my Petrolia, Ontario background - the training camp I attended at Rice U. 20+ years ago, my friend and teammate Erin Brand, who went on to run for the Owls and our wonderful track coach, Murray Jackson. Mary and I did a bit of running with Becky Wade who debuted with a 2:3? at the 201? California Marathon but she was at the very end of her taper, getting ready to race the USA Marathon Championships in L.A., California. Other than the bit of humidity that played a bit with my G.I. system (that also happened to many of us at the training camp, years ago!), it was an absolutely wonderful and perfect experience. I didn't know it at the time but I logged my highest ever mileage week while there. On the final day, I did some 1 km repeats while Mary completed a paced run around campus. After a quick shower and breakfast, she drove me back to the airport to say our goodbyes. Mary is one great mom, wife, friend, daughter and marathoner! She juggles it all so well and with so much grace. I certainly admire her.    

Orlando, Florida
My flight to Orlando was rather uneventful, which is always desired when travelling. But when I got to the airport and checked my messages, I realized it was going to be a very late night. Jonathan was flying with the kids whose flight ended up being delayed by nearly three hours. I got a coffee and pulled out my laptop to do some work, which helped kill the time. It was great to see the kids again and their excitement upon their first airplane ride. After a few complications with getting the rental van, finding our way to and checking in at our resort, getting groceries, and settling in, I was in bed at 1:00 am with my alarm set for 6:00 am. Coach Rick planned that our Disney excursion days would be my easy run days. The first 48 hours of the trip were crazy but eventually I settled into another routine. When the 7 day trip was over, I successfully logged 170 km of running with some pool running AND Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, the evening Disney fireworks and electric parade, and Hollywood Studios. Naturally my body let me know it was too much by losing the battle to a nasty cold but I'm at the end of it now, as I begin my taper for my April 12 Marathon.

I have another 10 days at home before I get on another flight to put all this work into place. It has been a unique and challenging journey but I look forward to seeing what this body can do at another 42.2 km.

Getting my preventative maintenance done in the early hours of the morning before our flight home from Florida. 

Team DuChene with the mice.

Enjoying a Starbucks treat after one of many enjoyable runs together.

Coach Jim Bevan at Rice U.

The girls taking a break at Disney while the boys head off for a ride.

Fuel and hydration prep before our 40 km run in Houston, Texas.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Digging Deep and Running the Numbers at the Chilly Half Marathon

Today was a fairly decent day for me. After running four consecutive weeks of 160 km per week in this crazy Canadian winter, and a one week 120 km taper, I was able to put my fitness to the test at a distance more reflective of my strengths. Getting those 8, 10 & 16 km races out of the way and settling in to a half marathon was going to be more comfortable, and a good indicator about the depth of my fitness, exactly six weeks before my spring marathon.  I knew I was in decent shape; my mileage and tempo workouts were similar to my build before racing my last marathon in 2:28:32, the October 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Race day weather was a pleasant surprise with a very mild -7 C with little wind and good footing. I didn't have any women around me to drive a competitive pace but was glad to always have a few guys alongside to keep a decent rhythm. I was hoping to run around 73 minutes and ended up with a final time of 74:01. The last third of the race was my slowest with the wind off the lake but my final km was my second fastest at 3:26. I felt solid and in control for the entire race. A good sign, all things considered.
And just what do I mean by "all things considered"?
I've said before that I believe that the major factors for a great race include: weather, training, health, competition, pacing, and passion.  Some you can control. Others you can not.
Mainly, in comparing my training to previous years, my intervals are slower and my weekly average pace is much slower. I've been careful to keep my treadmill running at about 40%, which has included my weekly tempo runs. The great thing about the treadmill is the consistency. But my outdoor running has not been so consistent. This winter it has either been very cold with decent footing, or mild with poor footing. Take your pick! So my weekly outdoor intervals and long runs have been slow. Very slow.  I've been running my intervals around the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre because my 3 yr old is in the childcare and I can't leave the grounds. The roads are usually clear and one lap is nearly 1 km so we make it work as best as we can, while dodging the odd car or two.
I'm so glad that we decided to plan a short training period in a warmer climate. I can't wait to see normal pacing with the same effort while running outside in shorts while in Texas and Florida! And I am really looking forward to training with my good friend and fellow marathon mom, Mary Davies.
My last, "all things considered" is the dreaded female monthly issue.  There have been a lot of articles circulating on this topic lately. It's nice to see women speaking out about this subject. Even Paula Radcliffe spoke about achieving her world record with menstrual cramps while in mid cycle! Imagine how fast she may have been had she raced a week before or after! It seems that like many things, everyone experiences it differently. Some women get terrible cramps or feel off (tired, irritable, bloated) while others are not affected. Because I've had very few cycles within the past 10 years due to 3 pregnancies, 3 babies breastfeeding 12+ months each, and high level training, I didn't really know how I would be affected. But because it has been a factor in my last two races, I think I can say that I haven't been terrible burdened by it but have certainly retained a few extra pounds, which has slowed me down a bit. It stinks when you work hard to be light and lean to race and then handed a 2 lb weight to carry for the race! I am really hoping that the timing is right for April12. I sure will feel lighter, especially without all the crazy layers of winter running gear!
Regardless, we work with it, ignoring the things we can't change while focusing on those we can.
I am all set to continue doing what it takes to finish this training to execute a great race in April. One more week of winter, nearly 3 weeks of warm weather, and then a bit more than 2 weeks of tapering to go! Almost there.
I'll finish with some numbers and comparisons, just because we runners like that.

Here are my race paces from this season:
November 8 km, 3:31
December 10 km, 3:29
December 16 km, 3:35
January 8 km, 3:28.5
March 21.1 km, 3:30
I am feeling confident that I can keep progressing in my fitness and peak when it matters most.

And here is a really good comparison, thanks to my coach, which shows one can keep gaining momentum with just 6 weeks to go before a major race:
In 2012, I ran the Chilly in 1:15:42 (3:35.3/km) and a spring marathon 6 weeks later in 2:32:06 (3:36.3/km).
In 2015, I ran the Chilly in 1:14:01 (3:30.5/km) and am running the same spring marathon 6 weeks later. Should be a good one!

Hamilton. Ontario, Sunday, March 1,  2015 - Around 3000 runners toed the line in Burlington for the 19th running of the Chilly Half Marathon and Frosty 5k. Hamilton's Reed Coolsaet wins the race in 1:03:36. Photo by: Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator. a
Photo: Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator.

Hamilton. Ontario, Sunday, March 1,2015 - Around 3000 runners toed the line in Burlington for the 19th running of the Chilly Half Marathon and Frosty 5k. Womens winner Krista Duchene is oavercome with emotion at the finish line. Photo by: Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator.
A bit emotional. So much significance, just 10 months after my femur fracture, I just couldn't hold back the tears.
Photo: Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator.

    Embedded image permalink
    With the guys at Chilly Half 2015. Photo: @RebuildHamilton 
With the guys at Chilly Half 2012.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sticking with My Routine and A Little Goes a Long Way

Sticking with My Routine & 
A Little Goes a Long Way

(iRun part 1 January "Sticking with My Routine" and part 2 February "A Little Goes a Long Way")

I recently read an interview with Kellyn Taylor who just debuted with a sizzling 2:28:40 at the 2015 Houston Marathon. When asked about how she juggles life as an elite level athlete, mom and student (to become a firefighter!), she said, "You learn to prioritize or else you miss out on things. Being an elite runner requires you to be selfish and being a mother requires you to be completely unselfish, so they clash in that sense." 

She couldn't have said it any better.
As a dietitian, I've seen many overweight middle-aged women with elevated blood cholesterol and/or glucose. They have spent much of their life looking after everyone else, except themselves. You see, they needed to be a bit more "selfish" if you will. It is now that time for me. Me first. Time to be "selfish". Like I've said before, I've got a window. And it is now.

Everything is really starting to come together. And I am more than ready, willing and able to put my head down and get to work. I have just over 10 weeks until my big spring marathon, perhaps the biggest marathon of my life. The next eight weeks will be a solid block, averaging 155-170 km/week with the usual weekly intervals, tempo and long runs. Nothing fancy. Just sticking to the basics and doing what has worked in the past like I know how. I have my ducks in a row and I am prepared to do what it takes to race a solid marathon to make that Olympic standard. I am ready to be "selfish".


With three kids and a husband who spends considerable time and energy travelling for work and serving at our church, routine is essential. And as athletes, this is where we thrive. Sleep, diet, rest, treatment and training are high priorities right now, in order for me to be at my best. And balancing my energy is very, very important. I have always been the type to want to do everything. But I will not at this point in my running career. It is very difficult to say no, especially to extra events and speaking engagements but I must, I will and I am.

Here's how a week looks:  

Monday. Morning - training at the gym. Afternoon - laundry. Evening - kids' swimming lessons. 
Tuesday. Morning - training at the gym. Afternoon - preschool skate. Evening - massage and kids'  hockey.
Wednesday. Morning - early training then groceries and preschool playgroup. Afternoon - house-cleaning. Evening - work as dietitian. 
Thursday. Morning - training and stretch/breathing session at the gym. Afternoon - preschool skate. Evening - kids'  hockey and ladies' bible study. 
Friday. Morning - training at the gym and school lunch mom. Afternoon - physiotherapy and pilates/reformer session. Evening - family time and possibly more kids' activities.  
Saturday. Morning - long run. Afternoon - kids' hockey. Evening - family time.
Sunday. Morning - early training then church. Afternoon - kids'  hockey. Evening - family time.

Of course there is the daily: task of making breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the five of us, continuing to have my 1:00 pm quiet time, assisting with homework and piano practise, and doing my evening 30 minute core/stretch/breathing/physio homework routine. After Sunday's race, fellow dietitian and runner Rachel Hannah and I were chatting about our feelings over our evening homework routine. We do it because we have to but certainly don't love it! She rewards herself with eating dinner whereas I reward myself with putting on my pyjamas after completion. Whatever it takes. I am up to a 4 minute plank and really starting to see and feel the results. Additionally, I feel like my upper body is functioning better due to my stretching/breathing with Sue. It took a while to recover from those broken ribs in 2013 but with her help, and of course my weekly physio and massage, I think it is safe to say that it is resolved. Every bit helps.

Heading South

For years I have battled and braved the fierce Canadian winter. I've always believed that it has made me stronger. Running 20 km with 2 kids in a Chariot running stroller in frigid temps will toughen anyone up. But last winter was brutal. And something I wasn't willing to put myself through again. So in the fall Coach Rick, Jonathan and I started discussing how I could escape some of the winter for some high quality warm weather training while not abandoning my family for too long. I still hope Team DuChene will go to Kenya for training and serving with the Kenya Kids Foundation but we are not there yet. So, I am thrilled to be heading to Houston, Texas in March to train with my great friend and fellow marathon mom, Mary Davies. She is returning from having her second baby and generously offered to train with and host me at her home! What an honour and how generous! She is a wonderful person. I will spend 10 days with her, then meet my family in Florida for another 7 days! As you can imagine, we are very excited about this excellent opportunity.

The Little Things

People like to know the little things I do to make it work. Here are some temporary sacrifices and changes I am currently making. Some are easier than others:

Eating even better. Getting the sardines, canned beets and such in. I don't love these two foods but when I return from the gym, I am tired and need something quick and healthy. Add them to some leafy greens, vegetables, and sweet potatoes with a glass of milk and you have one very high quality recovery meal.

Continuing to avoid sweets. I'll be honest, I've had a few bites since my last peanut buster parfait in July but it's all good. I thoroughly enjoyed a small amount of our friend Tony's cheesecake on Christmas day, my aunt's butter tart on Boxing day, and the chocolate cake my husband and kids baked for my birthday. But until my marathon, there likely won't be too much indulging. 

Here is a tough one. Reading one less story to my preschooler before heading into the gym to train. I've always reserved the time between school drop off and training to give my full attention to my child(ren). It's usually only about 15 minutes spent on my lap with a Richard Scarry book but it is precious. Very precious. Now that my mileage is increasing, I need that much more time to get it in. My daughter starts school in September and I know I will have to adjust to missing the kids as they will all be in school full-time but I will not look back with guilt, regretting these choices.

Learning to watch a movie. Yep, that is right. Rarely have I sat to watch a full movie with my family. When the kids are quiet and entertained, there is always something else I could be doing nearby. But this is something I am working on changing. No phone, no computer, no papers. Just the couch and my Team DuChene from now on.

More dinner-time flexibility. As a mom and dietitian, I have always had strong feelings about cooking and eating healthy meals together. Cost, packaging and nutrition are always my top three priorities when feeding myself and my family. So when it's one of those evenings that I am tired and/or do not feel like cooking, I keep these priorities in mind as best as I can when choosing something different. Flexibility is important but again, no regret. Take-out pizza with salad and raw vegetables just has to do sometimes.

OK, so here is something I have struggled with for some time and have not yet changed. Cleaning. My house is in decent shape. The kids help out and my husband is amazing but with a family of five, including young kids and a seemingly forever shedding dog with a floor that shows everything, it seems to be a never ending job. Never. Ending. Honestly, you vacuum and mop, only to see footprints and dog hair, seconds later. I often tell myself that Heaven's floors will be spotless! I have contemplated hiring someone to clean but you need to clean when it is dirty, not wait for the scheduled cleaning day. Years ago I promised myself I would hire if I was training for something big, like ummm the Olympics. Well, here I am. I think I need someone just to tell me to do it. 

Allowing the kids to have more screen time. Again, this is something I feel strong about especially the younger the child. But these days I am allowing my nearly 4 year old to watch more tv than normal while I am napping. Because I need it.    

Keeping it Simple

On Sunday I raced the Robbie Burns 8 km in Burlington in 27:48 (I last raced it in 27:43 in 2012).  It fit well into my schedule and was close to home. I don't have a whole lot to report on this race other than the fact that going into it, I did NOT want to have a repeat Boxing Day race, starting too fast. And I was not going for the win. So once the gun went off, I let Rachel Hannah speed away, and got to my own work. Other than my 2nd and 3rd kilometre, I was very consistent with a 3:25/km pace in quite frigid temperatures. The body felt healthy and fit and I finished strong. An interesting note about this race was that I couldn't help but think and look forward to doing a longer cool down after. Typical sign of a marathoner. Mileage. I don't want to say I didn't give my all but in heading out I felt like I could do a tempo run. Instead I enjoyed an easy 10 km with my friend, Mitch Free (26:55!). 

Next Up?  

I only have one more race between now and my marathon, which is the March 1st Chilly Half. Up until now, we have been fairly relaxed about goal race times but this one will matter. With five weeks until then, the plan is to train to run sub 73 minutes, feeling strong and spent. 

Greens, sweet potato, salmon, and left over cooked vegetables/fruit is my healthy go-to, throw-together dinner on Wednesday evenings when I am working as a dietitian. Looks terrible but tastes great. Of course my breakfast is still my loaded oatmeal with berries/hemp/chia/flax, peanut butter and protein, a grapefruit, cottage cheese and Liberte plain greek yogurt with walnuts, and two coffees. 

Can't wait to train and live with Mary for 10 days. How generous of her! Go, marathon moms!
My weekly sessions at Essential Physio with Patricia for pilates/refomer and ...

Sue for breathing/stretching is really helping. My chest feels more open when running now, for sure.

Enjoying every precious quality moment with my last "baby" before full-time school in September. 

Do not love my evening 1/2 hr rolling/exercises/stretch/core routine. Must do it. In my Saucony gear.
Juggler. Crazy moments. Not always easy.

Friday, January 2, 2015

See ya, 2014!

It's my last post for 2014 and I hardly know where to start. 

You could read Kerry Gillespie's, "Memorable moments for Canada's Female Athletes in 2014."  from The Star. 
And I could simply recap the year with:
1. Decent start with 7 races from a 3,000 m on the track to a 30 km on the road.
2. Fractured femur. 
3. Decent finish with 3 road races of 8, 10 and 16 km distances.
It will certainly be a year to remember, particularly with my steady recovery that  transitioned to a successful return to full-time training and racing.
In November I had my first rust buster race, just over 6 months after my major injury. And in December I raced the Toronto Tannenbaum 10 km and Hamilton Boxing Day 10 miler road races to continue increasing my comfort with competing. With each race, I knew my fitness was that much better and I was equally more confident to test the depth of my base. My final 2014 race would be a good indicator of my physical and mental status, going into 2015, which would mark the start of official marathon training. If I said that all three races were perfect, I'd be lying. I recapped the Remember Run 8 km race in, "Mommy, please don't break your leg." 
As for the Tannenbaum 10 km, it was pretty straight-forward. The air was cool and crisp with a sunny sky and there were a few guys near me, which helped keep me moving. I don't love the 10 k as it seems like you are working hard, never getting a steady rhythm. Regardless, I kept the desired pace of 3:30/k or faster and was pleased with a solid finish. I believe my last km was my quickest. Always a good sign.
The more recent Boxing Day 10 miler however, was something else. I completed a few good speed and tempo workouts the weeks prior, and was able to enjoy a reasonable amount of Christmas food without overdoing it. It was a special treat to do an easy run the day before in shorts, on Christmas day! I did a few pickups and felt great. I sent Jonathan and the kids ahead to his parents' and got to bed in decent time as not only would I be racing the next day but driving 2.5 hrs immediately after for a family Christmas event. Warmup went well and I was glad to see last year's winner, Leslie Sexton, line up to defend her title. Again, there was a good group of guys nearby to keep pace. I, however, started with the wrong group of guys, doing too many quick kilometres, too soon. It's normal to have the first few be a bit fast. But running the first 4 km at an average of 3:21/km was too much. It was my first time running this race, which was apparently hillier than other years, and with my aggressive start it ended up being one of those races that seemed to get longer and longer. At 8 k, it felt like it was 10 k, etc. etc. I ended up running a good part with Kevin Smith and Alec Braithwaite, which was helpful. But they had a more appropriate start and by 12 km, I was done. Done. Done. It was survival mode at that point. So, with one mile left I was not surprised to be practically standing still, chewing Leslie's dust when she flew past me. It reminded me of this year's Toronto Yonge St 10 km where I led the entire race, only to be passed in similar fashion by Rachel Hannah. I still had gas in the tank then but when you are passed late in a race, you either go. Or you do not. Because you cannot! So I did not. Live and learn. Nine times out of ten I am a conservative steady eddie pacer but not this time. Sometimes you gamble and it works like I did in the 2013 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon where I ran 70:52. Other times you pay.I however will never let any race get me down. There is always something to be gained. The mental battle I conquered by finishing that race standing is something I will be sure to draw on in future races. Honestly it was one of the toughest races I've ever run, mentally and physically. It is crazy to say but it was almost like a marathon. I wanted to quit because my mind and body had been through enough. But I did not. I won my own battle. My quads were sore for a good few days after but a couple of easy runs, stretching and rolling, and time in the pool allowed me to get back to my first workout, four days later. I know I was fit enough to run my goal time of 56-57, and likely would have had I started out right. So we will continue to proceed with the scheduled training and racing plan. When the kids are back in school and we are in our normal routine, it will really feel like this is it. Time to get to work. The best part about that race was that I did not think about my leg even once, until the next day. A sure sign of healing.Over the last couple of months I have been looking at numbers from previous years, leading up to a marathon. I've completed 10 marathons (from a 3:28 to 2:28) and there are a lot of factors to consider - pregnant/breastfeeding, injuries, time of year, and weather, etc. Every build has been unique but quite similar. In summary, my current numbers are very comparable and I am mentally more prepared than ever. This will be the year of saying no more than yes, if it deters me from my ultimate goal. I have a window. And it is now. One factor I knew I needed this year was a decent winter. And so far it has been amazing. Last year at this time we had snow and ice and -30 temperatures for weeks. Every. Single. Day. I could deal with the frigid temperatures but like many, struggled with the difficult footing. This year we have only had one bout of snow that hardly stayed on the ground and temperatures have averaged around 0 C. My 2012 breakthrough spring came after a winter comparable to the beginning of this one. So, onward I go to get this big goal started. 2015 will be a big year. Big.

Tannenbaum 10 k, Dec 7 with Dan Way who breezed by me a few km's later. 

I'm really enjoying working with Sue - Spencefitness Brantford.  Not only is she a mom of four whom I've looked up to for years, she is an incredible leader, helping me with breathing and stretching exercises.

My sweet little girl, starting hockey at age 3, a year before I did!

Looking forward to training with Alec this winter/spring. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Mommy, please don't break your leg."

As a carded athlete with Athletics Canada, Coach Rick and I were required to submit various documents after my injury.  In confirming my intention to return to full high performance training and competition, many health professionals were involved in assessing my situation and creating a safe rehabilitation and training plan. I remember the excitement I felt when seeing, "November 1, 2014" as the earliest possible return date to competing. I couldn't wait yet knew patience was a must.
And we waited, carefully and steadily doing a bit more each and every day: walk/jog to running, cross training, weekly physio and massage treatments, orthopaedic appointments, and daily at-home routines. My rehab plan slowly but surely grew and transitioned back to my full-time training plan.
And on November 8, my plan included competing again, just over 6 months from my femur fracture.

Rick and I wanted to pick a shorter distance, low-key and local race that I could run without any pressure or high expectations. RunWaterloo's  8 km Remember Run in Cambridge was the perfect fit. I had been steadily progressing in my tempo and speed sessions on the treadmill as it was a safe and predictable surface for recovering. But by mid-October we knew it was time to hit the track again. The plan was falling perfectly into place; we were moving another step forward. 
For a few years, I have been using the North Park Highschool track next to the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre as it has been ideal when my children are in Childcare. It's not the greatest surface but it's what I know. It gets the job done and we can reliably compare numbers. Next year when all of the kids are in school full time I will be able to travel across town to use a rubber track on a consistent basis. 

As I was getting ready to leave for the race, in all sincerity and honesty, my 3 yr old daughter asked, "Mommy, please don't break your leg". I think that is when I realized that my injury likely affected her the most. She went with me to my appointments, helped me do laundry with a walker, assisted with other chores around the house, made the big trip with me to the mailbox every day, and saw me rely on a raised toilet seat, crutches and a cane. A lot from the eyes of a sensitive preschooler with a big hear. When I returned home, she exclaimed, "Mommy, you didn't break your leg!" What a moment.

Race morning, I enjoyed the short and quiet drive to Cambridge, thinking about the past 6 months. It was a gray and cool day, fairly similar to the weather we had on April 27. Warm up went well and a moment of silence was very meaningful before the start gun went off. I felt very relaxed and strong, not like what one might expect after not racing for so long. During the race I was a bit distracted by the trail sections as it took me back to my x-country racing days as a Petrolia LCCVI Lancer, 20+ years ago. The goal for this 8 km race was the same as any other race, after a major injury or having a baby. Marathon pace. So once finishing, knowing it wasn't a fast course, I was very pleased to cross the line at exactly 28:01. Mission accomplished. I did my cool down with Olympian, Alex Genest who was also using this race as a low-key return after some time off. We got to know each other when we raced with Team Canada in Japan in 2012. He too is a parent and University of Guelph Nutrition grad. We both returned home that day feeling positive and ready for more.
Training since has continued to go well. Since racing I've completed 110, 120, and 120 km weeks with yesterday's long run of 30 km being my longest. My fitness continues to improve (RHR is 37), my energy is good, and I am ready to keep implementing the training and competition plan. I look forward to running the December 7 Tannenbaum 10 km race, for the first time. Again, another shorter distance, low-key and local race without any pressure or high expectations. 

Feeling and looking solid in my first race back! Photo by Julie, RunWaterloo.

Alex Genest and Krista DuChene, parents and U of Guelph Applied Human Nutrition grads. We were very pleased with solid performances at the NovemberRun. First race back after taking a break for both. Photo by Julie, RunWaterloo.

So grateful that Therapeutic Massage Counsel and Essential Physiotherapy are kid-friendly. Here the kids were occupied with lunch and lego ... 

and here I was able to quiz my son for his spelling bee.