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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Like Nothing Happened

Like Nothing Happened

I sit at my computer, hardly able to articulate how I feel. It's done. It's over. Like nothing happened. Other than getting in my first rust-buster race in a few weeks, I have checked off all the boxes on the recovery to full-time training and racing transition plan:
First full run with no walk break. Done. Aug 24.
First full km at goal marathon race pace. Done. Sept 2.
First solid run of 20+km. Done. Sept 27.
First 100+ km week. Done. Oct 12.
First run with scheduled pick ups. Done. Oct 18.
First track workout. Done. Oct 23.
First week with my favourite 28 km road/trail route. Done. Oct 25.
I fully realize there is much, much more work to do in order to get back to a sub 2:30 marathon but like we have said all along, there is lots of time. No need to rush.
When speaking at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon expo with Silvia Ruegger, we were asked about how we were able to overcome our significant injuries and return to successful marathoning. Silvia explained the importance of staying strong in other areas, i.e., hours of pool running and other forms of strength/cross-training, to which I completely agreed. I then spoke about how I compared this injury to another pregnancy. I needed to be patient, allowing my body to heal completely, knowing I would return with another strong passion to train and race like never before. You can't bypass the last few months of a 9 month pregnancy; I could not skip through the critical weeks the bone was healing.
As for the numbers, Coach Rick and I are following the training and racing plan executed after my last injury, which was a glute medius strain and tendonopathy followed by a few broken ribs around the time of Dec 2012-Feb 2013. This time we planned twice as long to recover from my femur fracture as it was much more significant. Comparing the six months prior to when I was in 2:27 shape for Worlds (Aug 2013), I am now about a month ahead of where I was then! I will again repeat with a distance of 8km as my first race back to get out the rust. Ideally I can hold on to marathon goal pace (3:30/km) but we have no high expectations. Running strong and steady with a solid finish is the priority.
I just finished two down weeks of 77 and 80 km, which was scheduled as a necessary recovery period before resuming 100+km weeks again. I get excited to look at the training and racing plans that is mapped ahead. As they say, "Onward and Upward"!

That day when I'd run 20 km with James and Clayton like nothing ever happened.  Happened. Sept 27, 5 months post femur fracture/surgery.
Enjoying a coffee after to celebrate our friendship. 

Great support team, checking my running form and reviewing my recovery and training plan. Thanks, James, Rick and Paul (Essential Physio). Missing: David (Therapeutic Massage Counsel).  

Kip Kongogo and I are all smiles for our Coach, Rick Mannen.

8:00 am. Getting ready to go live for the 25th Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. 

12:30 pm. And that's a wrap! Thanks for a great morning, Tim Hutchings and Michael Doyle. Next marathon...I'm racing!

Kelly Weibe and Krista DuChene, Saucony athletes. Unfortunately Kelly didn't have the marathon debut he would have liked due to injury. We will see him back at it!

Gorgeous day to do my first track workout in 6 months! I did 6 x 800 m repeats with 1:45 rest between, Oct 23. Not too bad.

Our 8 yr old is again playing rep hockey this year. We just love seeing his passion and talent grow. It's been said that he is very coachable; an honour for any parent to hear.

Love seeing our 6 yr old enjoy his swimming and piano lessons.
Back on the ice, teaching another one to skate. A few more weeks and she will be done with the pusher. All smiles.

Oh, the years I've spent reading books to the kids in the van before the childcare at the gym opens. Sadly, this is our last year as our youngest will be in full-time JK next year. I will cherish these days yet be ready to hand her over as she will be more than ready to go. I certainly don't look forward to the day they are all in school but will take full advantage of more opportunity to rest and recharge in my quiet afternoons. The timing is perfect for my long term goals.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Building a Base

Building a Base

So here's my mileage (in km's) since I started shuffling in early July: 11, 38, 52, 48, 58, 61, 70, 70, 78, 30, and 71. Yep, a little recent set back with the 30 km week due to a pain behind the left knee. Likely the transition to straight running with no walk breaks, increased road running, and a few higher intensity runs was just a bit too much. But after a few days of only cross-training, all was well. I've had some decent runs, I know my body is capable of race pace, and have plenty of time to continue building a strong base in preparation for a spring marathon. On Aug 31, I ran a steady 10 km at 4:18/km, four months post femur fracture and surgery. And on Sept 8, I handled 14 km at 4:17/km that included 2 km at 3:28/km. The numbers are encouraging, especially considering I was doing 300 m intervals just a few months ago. I will continue to steadily increase the volume, maintain the strength work, and keep completing a few pool running sessions each week. The plan is to stay healthy and do a few rust busters in November/December with the goal of a solid and consistent effort. I haven't weighed myself since July but am feeling leaner, am maintaining 12+ hrs/wk of cardio activities, am up to a 3 minute plank, and down to a 38 RHR. All good stuff. Getting there.Life has been busy for Team DuChene as we've been transitioning from summer to back-to-school mode. Packing lunches, life at the hockey rink and swimming pool, earlier bedtimes, and fuller schedules can make September a tough month but I was ready and am glad to be back in a new routine. This year our oldest son can participate in x-country running and when asked, I agreed to help coach, which has been another fun adventure as Seth and Leah are able to join the team at practice. Also at the school, I helped with the Terry Fox Run and signed on for another year as "lunch mom", which have been simple ways to give back.  Speaking of giving back, I was glad to participate in another Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope in Brantford, which raised over $54,000 for this year, and over $2 million nationally. Last but certainly not least was my involvement in the inaugural Run Waterloo Harvest Half with proceeds going toward the Kenyan Kids Foundation. I was honoured to be guest speaker at the Friday evening pasta dinner and silent auction, which sold out. The races the following day - the half marathon, quarter marathon and kids' fun run were a hit. We had some drizzly rain but that didn't stop runners from hitting the hills on the gravel roads in Mennonite country where Wesley Korir has done much of his training while with Tarah and her family when in St. Clements. Overall, we raised over $10,000, which will be put to good use in Cherengany, Kenya. The next big event on the calendar is commentating the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with Tim Hutchings and Michael Doyle. I've quite enjoyed doing this and it is the next best thing to racing these big events. The Canadian field is looking real good and I've been doing my research so as to be prepared with a bit to say on most of our participating stars. Should be fun!

Steady 10 km on the treadmill in 44:02 (4:24/km), four months post femur fracture and surgery with just this little scar to show.  The next day I did 10 km on the road in 42:58 (4:18/km). 
Glad to support another Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope. 
Mixed emotions as I donated our Chariot Cougar II running stroller for the Harvest Half silent auction. Kinda sad that this phase of life is over but thrilled that the money went toward the total of $10,000 raised for the Kenyan Kids Foundation.
So pleased to meet Scott Heipel, a 2012 Olympian swimmer, after speaking at the pasta dinner.
She is ready to race the kids' fun run!
Two running moms with their girls: Tarah and McKayla Korir with Krista and Leah DuChene.
Learning some massage therapy techniques. 
Finishing up a treadmill run.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Possible is not always Easy

Best hoodie ever. Coffee on the back deck at the cabin, "Living the Dream" with my sister.

Beautiful scenes enjoyed this summer while returning to running.

My training partner doing exercises with me in the cabin.

Rest. Rejoice. Recover. Yes!

13 years with this great guy!

Watermelon on the back deck at the cabin.

And they're off!

Saucony shoes x 11.

It’s been more than a month since last writing, shortly after being given the green light to start jogging that was 10 weeks after fracturing my femur on April 27 at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships. And I am happy to report that all is well. It’s great, actually. I started with sets of 15 seconds of shuffling and 2 minutes 45 seconds of walking, and slowly but surely decreased the walking while increasing the jogging.
Prior to my surgery in Montreal 16 weeks ago, I remember thinking that I soon as I woke up, it would all be about recovery from that point. Slow recovery. I knew that I would have to be very careful with my rehabilitation; it would be something I could not and would not rush. And the first place I thought of, which would be great for this pace was our cabin at the campground where I spent much of my summer as a child. It would be perfect. The kids would love the freedom and fun of riding their bikes, fishing at the creek, building forts, playing games, exploring, swimming, going to the candy store, and participating in programs while I would get to ease into training with a soft surface dirt road nearby, my bike on rollers in the cabin, and the campground pool. The atmosphere would be restful and relaxing, we would see Jonathan mid-week and on weekends since his work schedule would be so busy, have limited use of screens, and get to spend our summer with my sister and her three kids!
Now with only one week left before moving back home to prepare for the routine of the kids’ hockey, swim lessons, preschool skates and school, and my increased training, I can honestly say that I think it was been the best summer of my life. I have not heard the “b” word (bored) from the kids, have spent great quality time with my sister and family, enjoyed much spiritual growth and reflection, and immensely loved every bit of the outdoors. It hasn’t been our typical hot and humid Ontario summer, which has been just fine for me. It couldn’t have been any better. I have felt blessed, each and every day, and continued to dream and focus on my big goals and dreams.
The Numbers
Prior to getting a rehab training plan from Rick, I scratched down a few numbers to show where I was and where I needed to be in order to make the qualifying time in 2015 for the 2016 Olympic Games. The standards have not yet been announced but when they are, I will be that much more motivated! Here’s a breakdown of my progress:
  • At the end of week 2, I completed 300 m consecutively at 5:17/km within my longest jog total of 7 km, within a 37.5 km week.
  • At the end of week 12, my goal was to complete 5 km consecutively at 4:49/km, knowing I would need to complete a 20 km tempo at 3:27/km in March 2015.
  • At the end of week 6, I completed 5 km consecutively at 4:15/km the day after my longest jog total of 13.5 km, within a 61 km week.
I’ll say it again, like Bethany said in “Soul Surfer” after losing her arm to a shark, I needed possible, not easy. And what I defined as possible was being able to run at a decent pace without bone pain or any feeling of the steel plate and screws in the femur. Mission accomplished. And I am so grateful.
The Downer
Everything was going really well until the weekend of July 26. A few days before I tripped on a rock, catching myself on the bad leg, and it started to physically hurt. It also didn’t help that I was emotionally hurting a bit, knowing I was supposed to be racing alongside Lanni Marchant in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games (CG) in Scotland. Not knowing what was wrong with my leg and seeing all the CG action that weekend was a bummer. Lanni did amazingly well, placing 4th overall. We are great friends and fierce competitors; I couldn’t help but think how I too could have raced that day. I allowed myself to feel down for a bit yet still enjoyed the weekend, which included a day with Jonathan while celebrating my cousin’s beautiful wedding.
Coach Rick got in touch with James (Dr. Dill, ortho surgeon) and I was in to see him right away. I felt a great deal of relief after James revealed the bone looked great and I could continue with my return to running. I tell you, having a friend care for you during a low moment in your life is really something precious to be valued. After James sensed my emotional state and asked how I was really doing, I was able to articulate that I didn’t want to injure myself again. Through some tears I explained how I was struggling with trusting myself to “Listen to my body”, something in which I always took pride. We agreed that I would have to remember that initial, unique pain of the original stress fracture, and that I would eventually build that trust within myself with time and additional running. Most importantly through this period, I took great confidence and comfort in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The Routine
While at the cabin, I established a great training routine. I didn’t set an alarm, which usually had me heading out at around 6:45 am to a nearby, country road for an hour or so. The experience took me back to my childhood on the farm. I just loved walk/jogging alongside farms and fields with the blue, sunny sky and abundant greenery. No cement. No big buildings. Just country. I used my Garmin to know how far I was jogging for each set, in order to total my mileage for the day. Once I returned to the cabin, I got out my gear to complete my 20 minute stretching, physio and strength exercise routine while the kids ate their breakfast before jumping on their bikes to start their day.
In the afternoon, I would get on my bike for 30 minutes then grab the swim gear and head to the pool with the kids. While they played their pool games and swam like fish, I did a combination of water-running, swimming and treading for 60 minutes. Riding the bike and being in the pool with temperatures as low as 62 degrees wasn’t always my favourite but it built mental strength, necessary for my marathon return! 
The Joy
Having my sister with me at our campground was so special and meaningful. She helped out with the kids so I could train and work. And I was able to assist with her kids and some groceries. We often expressed our happiness with our “Living the Dream” summer. As a teacher, she was in her happy place and I was returning to my love of running while our families were enjoying hours of quality time together. This amazing summer is nearly over and I can hardly believe that the time is coming where I look back at this whole fractured femur thing as a distant memory.
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