Thursday, April 28, 2016




KristainMontreal
Photo: Credit: Inge Johnson/Canada Running Series

Boom.
It’s a word that has taken on a whole new meaning for me this past month.
“Boom" has resonated with me since reading Mr. Eriksson’s words in Paul Gains’ CBC sports story,Canadian marathoners upset with Athletics Canada’s Rio qualification policy”, which was written shortly after the Around the Bay 30 km race where I failed to prove fitness on a cold and windy day with a 1:47. In the story, while addressing the requirement to prove fitness, Mr. Eriksson says, “Boom, off we go. Now you have got to do it.” And "Boom," yesterday I did it at the Montreal Half Marathon.
While I am glad to check the box in order to fulfill my requirements to be named to the 2016 Olympic team, running a 1:12:30 half marathon in April does not mean I will peak in a marathon in August. It doesn't mean I won't. The plan is to be at my very best, August 14 and I will do everything to make that happen. However for me, running a half marathon at marathon pace 6-8 weeks out, has proven that I am fit, and worked well in my previous builds to peak for my goal marathons. Replicating this pattern was not an option. It was 1:13:00 or try again. And again.
There have been inaccuracies in some of the stories and a lot of opinions with misinformation, and I am not about to address those. Not because I have now proven my fitness, but because I don’t feel it's necessary to engage. In his article, Mr. Gains did an excellent job in showing that making it to the Olympics is more than just achieving a qualifying standard. Shortly after Paul’s article, Reid Coolsaet followed up with a post on his blog, explaining his situation after also just falling short of the required time to prove fitness, at the World Half Marathon Championships where the men’s race ended in heavy rain and winds. I've always looked up to and respected Reid and was again impressed to read his blog with his objective way of showing his frustration with the system. That guy is an experienced marathoner who knows his body, knows his numbers, and knows what it takes to be at his very best.  Reid has run well under the Olympic standard twice in the qualifying period! He settles for nothing less. We're all trusting that the right decision will be made.
So, back to the “Boom!”
I had three weeks to recover from the Bay and prepare to run another race that would hopefully provide decent, not perfect, but decent racing conditions. Coach Rick did an excellent job of researching my options for a certified course, which was not easy. Montreal was the #1 pick. A big part of choosing a race involves the science of determining the best course layout, competition, previous times, weather, and travel logistics. But it can also involve the art of emotion. I know Eric Gillis has often chosen to train and race closer to home for this reason. Also a parent, he knows the benefit of staying local and drawing on the positive energy that comes from balancing family and life as an athlete. Not only did Montreal provide another great opportunity for me to race with the incredible Canada Running Series (CRS), but it allowed me to return to the race where I finished with incredible pain and tremendous emotion after fracturing my femur while defending my national title in 2014.  I know some are fatigued by me writing about my broken leg, old age, Christian faith, and life as a mother of three, but it's who I am. I've always wanted to be real and tell my story to encourage and inspire others, some who are reading it for the first time.
So back to choosing Montreal. The plan was that I would travel there, and decide to race if the weather looked decent. If it wasn't, I would wear my training shoes and run it as a tempo training run while waiting to prove fitness in another race. Fortunately, the forecast didn't change and we had a beautiful day. It was likely about 5C and sunny with a small amount of wind, which is always expected on the Parc Jean-Drapeau course. I felt comfortable and relaxed, trusted my fitness, and just treated it like any other race. I had a great group of men to run with and just started chipping away at 3:26 per km, the target goal pace. Like many races, I was conservative, which worked to my favour; every kilometre felt the same, a good sign of fitness.
There were many thoughts that went through my head during the race: 1. I kept thinking about my son who reminded me that we didn't get all those travel vaccinations for nothing. 2. Today was the day to do it. 3. The last time I ran this race, I hopped on one leg to finish. It would feel good to fly down the last 500 m today on two healthy legs!
I did it. And as I crossed the line, I couldn't help but smile. In my interview, just a few seconds after finishing, I thanked the CRS and the people of Montreal and the team at the Montreal General Hospital for their incredible support in 2014.
So what is next? A bit of well-deserved down time with training, some sweet indulgences, a video (Saucony) and photo shoot (an iRun cover!), and other extra activities. I will officially start my Rio build in May, which will include running the May 29 Calgary half marathon, which is also the Canadian championships. Onward we go.
Boom.


Rarely does everything come together on race day. But today it did with a group to run with, excellent weather, and great fitness and health. Photo: Canada Running Series/Scotiabank Montreal Half Marathon.
"Here comes the BOOM". At 42 years of age, a high school teacher and former wrestler saves the school music program by earning money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter. Like I say about my athletic career, just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean it can't be done. Age, major injury, a hockey background, and parenting doesn't stop me.

Just happened to notice the name of this radio station I was listening to on the way home from Montreal.


Good day for Saucony and Coach Rick Mannen. Krista with Kip Kangogo, winner of the men's race.

My son's baking tasted wonderful upon my return home. Wonderful. 
Excited to see the final product of a day in the life of Krista DuChene. The kids quite enjoyed having Gordon and Vance around. Glad to have scheduled this, a photo shoot, and a few other extra things before Rio training begins.




With the Saucony video shoot and a photo shoot for iRun magazine, it was fun choosing Saucony outfits.

Practising for the photo shoot while trying to stay warm in the van between sets. Not a regular or natural thing for me but honoured to be asked. Yes, there is grey hair there. I'm ok with that.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

We've Still Got This

Prove it!

A few days have passed since I raced the Around the Bay 30 km race in Hamilton so I figured I should write some sort of race report. 
I'll get right to the point in addressing what most people are wondering and asking. Did I "prove" my fitness in order to be named to the Olympic team? No, I did not. Despite my 1:47:47 time in very frigid and windy conditions, I did not run the required 1:46:30 to "prove" I am fit. I ran a solid race, narrowly missing the win (to a Kenyan) by 10 seconds. It was likely one of my best Around the Bay performances and the third time I ran a 1:47. Consistency is key.
Now, it was tough, like any race should be. I've always said the Bay is pretty close to running a marathon because it is so difficult. It was my 8th Bay race and I've completed 11 marathons so I feel credible in making this statement. There doesn't seem to be any point in the 30 km where you just settle into a rhythm. The course has changed in the past few years and my description is likely not completely accurate with km markings but it's close enough: The first 5 km can be fast so you must control yourself. Then you have about 5 km to get up and down the overpasses. After that it was straight into the headwind for 7 or 8 km. Then about 5 km of rolling hills, which is where I lost more time than I thought. It seemed harder this year than others because I didn't have the hilly training I used to get when I pushed my kids in the running stroller! The final 7 km are flat, in which I pushed for a solid finish. The leader and I ran much of the race near each other but in the final third, her lead was just enough ahead of me that I didn't catch her. It reminded me of the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where Lanni Marchant kept enough of a lead to earn the fastest Canadian Marathon title. Another second place finish for me, which makes three in the last three races this year. I'm itching to break the tape again.
So how do I feel? Well, I'm not ashamed to have been beaten by Kenyan, Risper Gesabwa. I had no idea who she was or what she was capable of running. Now that I've done some research, this young 27 year old has very similar personal best times to me. She was solid and steady. I will never be a sore loser and disrespect my competition. She deserved the win.
Physically, I've been feeling stronger and faster every week. I can really tell that the 1.5 hr weekday pool running routine and steady mileage and solid workouts are paying off. I'm getting leaner and more fit, which is excellent at the beginning of spring. 
So back to the required proof of fitness. What does it mean now? The Olympic team will not be announced until July so technically I have until close to that time to prove my fitness in a half marathon. The difficulty is that there are not a lot of decent certified half marathons at this time of year, anywhere in the world. I am willing to travel and chase this proof of fitness thing if that's what it takes but the problem is that it sets the athlete up to burn out prior to Rio, or to peak too soon. Kinda defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
But you know me, the glass is half full. As I crossed the finish line, the first person I saw was Coach Rick. Then I was pleasantly surprised to see my husband and 3 kids. My kids asked, "Mom, did you do it? Are you/we still going to Rio?". I told them that I did not run the required time, but said that Coach Rick would come up with a plan. On the way home I had the boys with me and it was a great opportunity to explain that I am completely trusting God's plan, as it's always better than our own. I believe I will be in that race, running my legs and heart out, on August 14. And they will be there, cheering for their mom! Besides, as one of my kids pointed out, our family already got all those required travel needles!
Mentally, I started moving after finishing.  I was prepared to train through April if I had to so that is what will happen. Currently we are looking into running a race in late April/early May. Funny thing is that I know I could "prove it" on the treadmill but that won't count. 
I'm recovering nicely since Sunday, not looking back but only forward. Before the race I kept thinking, "We've got this". So now it's, "We've still got this!".  
I've had incredible support and am grateful for every message and well wish received. I've been reading the Rick and Dick Hoyt book, "One Letter at a Time" and believe "Yes, we can" ... "prove it"!
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Canadian Running Magazine, "Krista DuChene reflects on proof of fitness requirement despite having Olympic standard".
CBC, Canadian Marathoners upset with Athletics Canada's Rio qualification policy Paul Gains.
Reid Coolsaet's, "Competitive Readiness" 

Congratulating the 1st and 3rd women.

Coach Rick!
Credit: Alan Brookes.

#TeamDuChene

Focus.
Credit: Canadian Running Magazine.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

When My Kids Need Me, They Need Me.


After writing, "Krista DuChene on the 2016 Chilly Half Marathon" I was really hoping to have an exciting post race report. But unfortunately it is not the case this time.
Going into Sunday's race, my training proved I was fit. The mileage was appropriate and I was hitting workouts close to when I ran my PB of 1:10:52 in 2013.  I was told that the time to beat to make the World Half Marathon team was 1:13:13 and I knew it was definitely within my capability. I ran 1:14 earlier this year in January and training had only improved since then. Other than a slow 1:16 in February in Vancouver due to inclement weather, I was confident that I could get the job done. Then I got sick. Now, I'm not new to this sport and know that when one gets sick or injured, it can be an indication that you are in too deep. You push your body to the limit but sometimes it fights back, telling you to take it down a notch.
Enter the marathon mom explanation.
Feel free to quit reading if my parenting talk exhausts you. That is fine with me. Or, think about everything your mom did for you as a child. Because I am no different.
For reasons I don't feel necessary to explain, I have not slept well for the past two months due to being up in the night multiple times for multiple reasons with multiple kids (and at times, the dog!). It has been exhausting. Five days before the race I had that trickle in the throat that hinted something was up. I continued with my normal routine, tapering for Sunday's race, having solid afternoon naps, eating well, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting to bed in decent time. I even slept in our basement with earplugs for the two nights before the race. But it wasn't enough. I thought I was fighting this nasty virus that was going around, and went into the race refusing to make it known because a) I was denying it myself and 2) I was proud and didn't want people to think I was already giving an excuse for a bad race before even starting. The two indicators that proved I was sicker than I thought were 1) my resting heart rate was high, averaging about 39 all week. Normally it would be in the mid-30's. My RHR tells me lot about myself. 2) due to my pounding headache, I actually took something for it the night before the race. The last time I took any sort of pill for pain was 2 years ago when I had my stress fracture. That tells you something.
Race morning was uneventful; everything was routine and going well. The weather was absolutely perfect and my legs were fresh. I was close to target at 5 km but as the race progressed, I slowed. I felt like my effort was there but just didn't have the pop or the numbers to prove it. At some point in the race I started to think about my B goals. I still had my time from last year that might earn me a spot on the team, and I still wanted the win. Then at 17 km, Leslie Sexton made her move. She is training for Rotterdam and had the steady-pacing rhythm nailed perfectly. Her coach rode past me on his bike and my body just didn't respond. She gained a decent distance from me and secured a solid win. After crossing the line, I was pretty upset. I congratulated Leslie. She is one solid runner, starting to really make her mark. Normally I'd stick around for pictures and the like but this time I just wanted to change my shoes, do my cool down, and have a good cry. Immediately upon finishing my head was pounding and fellow Saucony runner and masters champ, Predrag came to the rescue when his wife found me an Advil. He was also right there for me when I broke my leg, two years ago. I was so desperate that I swallowed the pill dry before heading out for my cool down. Once I returned I found a quiet corner and let the tears flow with Coach Rick and Josie. I've had my share of letdowns but this one really stung. As a mom, you hear every cough, sniffle, sneeze, cry, moan, shriek, sigh, door close/open, toilet flush, and faucet run in the middle of the night. It is not something you can easily turn off. When my kids need me, they need me. My husband is an incredible dad who works hard to provide for us but when his head hits the hay, he hears nothing! My tears were flowing because even though I have learned to be better at saying no more than yes this year in order to put everything into my Olympic year, I still struggle. Making sacrifices is one thing. But trying to be a princess with perfect sleep, rest, nutrition, training, preventative maintenance etc. is another. It's tough, incredibly tough.
In a few days the announcement will be made for the World Half Marathon team and I will not be on the list. Running the Around the Bay 30 km race was always the alternative so that is the plan right now. I have a bit more time to get over this cold, do some decent workouts, and get out on one of my favourite courses. Can't go wrong with another local, high-class race! I've done it several times and it will be an excellent way to prove my fitness for Rio, and end my winter/spring season.
I was looking up some verses on disappointment to help encourage me and remembered my own words, "God's plan is better than mine.". Onward I go.

Checking the watch. Photo credit: Fleur-Ange Lamothe.

Stretching out the arms. Photo credit: Fleur-Ange Lamothe.

Striking some sort of pose. Photo credit: Fleur-Ange Lamothe.

#TeamDuChene,  a great cheer-up after a bad race!



Saturday, March 5, 2016

2016 Chilly Half Marathon

The 2016 Chilly Half Marathon is quickly approaching. On March 6, runners in Burlington will be racing for various reasons: a rust buster after holiday indulging, a training run in preparation for a spring marathon, a fitness test after time off from injury or illness, or in my case, a chance to make the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships (WHMC) team.
Last year at this event, Reid Coolsaet ran 1:03:37, which still stands as the fastest qualifying time for the men’s WHMC team. At the time, he was using it as a sharpener for the 2015 Rotterdam Marathon where he would be aiming to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which he did. I too was using it for the same reason, and also successfully met the Canadian standard, which was announced a few weeks after we competed. But last year’s Chilly Half was even more significant for me as it was the first half marathon I raced since fracturing my femur at the Montreal/Canadian Championships Half Marathon just over 10 months before. After crossing the line in 1:14:01 on that brisk morning in Burlington, I clearly remember putting my arm in the air, elated and grateful, knowing I still had it. I was overcome with emotion as I realized that I hit my target exactly, and knew that with six more weeks of training I would be able to attack the Olympic marathon standard with complete confidence. It is a memory I will cherish for a long time.
The only other time I raced the Chilly Half Marathon was in 2012 (read about it here). It too was a significant year. Our daughter, who I was still breastfeeding, turned 1 that day. And after racing a strong Around the Bay race a few weeks later, my coach and I decided to compete in the Rotterdam Marathon as a stab at the 2012 Olympic Games Marathon standard. I ended up running 2:32, taking 7 minutes off my personal best but it wasn’t enough for the required 2:29:55. But 2012 became the year I put myself out there. I became a serious contender, able to compete at an international level. And the Chilly Half was a big part of that.
The Chilly Half Marathon is an excellent event for runners of all types. For me as a parent, it is ideal because it is close to home; I can be there and back with my family in half of a day. This year we will be celebrating my daughter’s 5th birthday once I return. Racing locally also allows me to avoid lengthy travel, eat my own food, and sleep in my own bed the night before. For me as an elite athlete looking for a fast time, the course is certified, record and ranking eligible, and flat with an out-and-back layout, my preferred type of race. While you can experience some wind off the lake when returning to the finish, the support from the other runners on their way out is motivational and encouraging.
In preparing for this event, I started with a similar build to last year by racing the same 10 km and 10 mile races in December. But instead of the 8 km race I would normally do in January and because I didn’t race a fall marathon due to a fractured metatarsal in my foot, I moved up to the half marathon distance right away. I completed the half marathon in Houston in January, and Vancouver in February. I didn’t expect to run personal best times at these races but knew I needed them to build my strength and fitness to have a spring minor peak before my summer major peak in preparation for Rio. I’ve averaged 125 km/week for a few months with plenty of cross training, weekly interval workouts and tempo runs, and most long runs of 30 km. The numbers are there and I believe I am ready for a solid race, particularly if the weather cooperates.
With “Chilly” in the race name, one can expect less than ideal weather conditions but based on the relatively mild Ontario winter we’ve had so far, I and many others are likely approaching it with optimism. If it is a cold and windy day, I’ll likely wear arm warmers or a thin layer under my singlet with a hat and gloves. Regardless, I will be in shorts with my usual compression socks as I find anything longer restricts my knee drive. Fortunately one can get away with wearing less clothing on race day as opposed to a training run because you heat up quickly with exertion, have the benefit of adrenaline, and if you are cold it can motivate you to run faster to get it over with sooner!
As for sport nutrition, if one uses gels, you should plan to ingest the same amount you normally would in such an event, regardless of the weather. As for hydration on a winter day, drinking less liquid would be appropriate as opposed to more when racing in hot and humid conditions. For me, I have an early light breakfast and hydrate well before the race so will likely skip the water stations but consume 3 gels, particularly because of a later 10:05 am start.
For those looking for a shorter race, consider the Frosty 5k that is also also a flat, fast, out and back course.
To all running, for whatever reason, have a wonderful race. Hope to see you smiling at the finish line with your arm in the air!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Love and Sacrifices are part of Team DuChene’s Olympic plans


February 14-15, 2016
Today is Valentine's Day and I am sitting alone in my pyjamas in my hotel room after having dinner alone. It is the first February 14 I haven't spent with my husband.
Tomorrow is Family Day and I will spend most of it alone without my family, on my return trip home.
After racing the Vancouver First Half Marathon, I was to fly home in the afternoon but that flight was cancelled, forcing me to wait until the next morning. But it didn't bother me. You see, every day spent with my husband is filled with tremendous mutual love and respect. And every day spent with my family is family day. I don't need these days marked on a calendar. This Olympic year is about saying no more than yes. I cannot and will not try to be super mom/wife and do it all. So if it means a lot of sacrifices along the way, so be it. We can celebrate in exactly six months on August 14 after the Olympic Women's Marathon when Team DuChene is in Rio. Not alone.

Last indulgence for six months until the Olympic Marathon in Rio on August 14, 2016. Chocolate always tastes better after a race! 


Race Reports

January 17, 2016. Aramco Houston Half Marathon - Houston, Texas.

Photo: Alan Brookes. Many Canadians headed to Texas to race in the half or full marathon. 

The Houston Half Marathon was my 2016 season opener after my two December 10 km and 16 km rust busters. I knew I was far from my best but was ready to test my fitness and put in a solid effort. Race conditions were ideal and I completed the race in 74 minutes, exactly the time I expected. The 1st km felt the same as the 21st and I enjoyed racing against a deep field of women, many Americans chasing the standard or preparing for the USA Olympic Trials. I did not have high expectations for a good placing with such a deep field but was pleased to be the first Canadian woman and pick off a few Americans near the end. Eyeing my competition ahead without paying much attention to my finishing time was great experience for the Olympic Marathon where placing means far more than finishing time as the course is often more suited for spectators than participants, and conditions are often far less than ideal.

February 14, 2016. Vancouver First Half Marathon - Vancouver, British Columbia.

Photo: Frank Stebner. 



Photo: Rita Ivanauskas.
The Vancouver First Half Marathon was to be a bit faster than Houston but with windy and rainy conditions on a curvy course along the seawall, it didn't happen. In fact most people ran slower times. Going into the race, Dayna and I knew 72:25 was the time to beat in order to secure a spot on the World Half Marathon team. When my fitness progresses, it is steady and consistent but reasonable so running two minutes faster than the month before was a bit of an ambitious goal but I was prepared to give it a go. Dayna and I discussed our strategy. She was going to go out hard, and I was going to try to eventually catch her. By the 5 km mark I knew it wasn't the race for fast times so I put in a solid effort, again feeling like my 1st and 21st kilometres were the same. When training for Rotterdam last year, I had many workouts that Coach Rick and I counted as "solid effort" workouts, usually because it was running intervals around the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in -30 C temps. It got the job done. Being attentive to splits is important but tossing the watch can also be of equal benefit once in a while.    

Upcoming Races

March 6, 2016. Chilly Half Marathon - Burlington, Ontario.


Kelly Arnott's photo.



Last year when I raced the Chilly Half, I was elated; it solidified my confidence that I could achieve the Canadian standard for the Olympic Games. And I did, six weeks later.  This year I will enter the race, hoping for another solid effort and hopefully a faster time. With the name, "Chilly" in the race title, it will be no surprise if the day brings snow or extremely cold temperatures but we have had a mild winter in Ontario so far so I will approach it with optimism.

March 26, 2016. IAAF World Half Marathon Championships - Cardiff, Wales.



Making the World Half Marathon team has always been a secondary goal for 2016. If I run the necessary time on March 6, the day before the end of the qualifying period, I'll be thrilled. Not only will representing my country at another international competition be a huge honour but it will help prove my fitness to be named to the Olympic team, and give me a tremendous experience running against some of the women I may compete against in Rio.

April 3, 2016. Around the Bay 30 km - Hamilton, Ontario.





Racing the Around the Bay 30 km race is a no-brainer if I don't make the World Half Marathon team. It is so close to home, draws an incredible crowd, and is a challenging final race as a finale to my winter/spring racing before a decrease in mileage prior to commencing my marathon build for Rio. I have done this race several times and it never disappoints. I can sleep in my own bed the night before and be home again in the early afternoon after racing.

So, onward I go. Steadily and consistently chasing my dream to be at my best, six months from now!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

At 39, Getting Personal about my Goals, Family, and the Rio Games


January 9, 1977.Today I am 39, which means I am in my 40th year. Yep, the big 4-0 is just around the corner.
Several years ago, when applying for a shoe and apparel sponsorship after my marathon times continued to become significantly faster, I set 2016 as my big goal year. I did the math, calculating how much faster I thought I could get after my debut marathon of 3:28 in 2002, including the addition of baby breaks and potential injuries. I estimated that by 2016, the kids would be in school full time and it would be a perfect time to train and compete, performing at my ultimate best. It also meant I would be 39, likely older than all of my competitors.  
And here I am! I have the Olympic standard for the marathon but am not counting any eggs before they hatch. I must be healthy, prove my fitness, and maintain one of the three fastest times to be named to the team for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There are some speedy Canadian women attempting the standard and I will have to run another marathon if my 2:29:38 is beat.
If I am named by Athletics Canada to the 2016 Olympic Games team, I will definitely be different than most of the other athletes, with the odds against me.
AgeI thought it would be neat to do some research about athletes' ages.
At the 2014 Winter Olympics, the youngest Canadian athlete was 16 year old figure skater Gabrielle Daleman, while curler Jennifer Jones was the oldest at 39.At the 2012 Summer Olympics, the youngest participant in the athletics competition was 15-year-old Cristina Llovera (100 m) while the oldest was 46-year-old Oleksandr Dryhol (hammer throw).At the 2008 Summer Olympics, the women's marathon winner was Constantina Dita of Romania in a time of 2:26:44. At 38 years of age, she became the oldest Olympic marathon champion in history. Previously the oldest man to win an Olympic marathon was aged 37 and the oldest woman was aged 30. And Constantina is a mom.When I competed at the 2013 World Championships, I was the oldest on the Athletics team, and nearly twice the age of the youngest member, pole vaulter Shawn Barber.At the 2015 IAAF World Championships, Athletics Canada's oldest athletes, male and female, were 33.
I've always believed that it's not how old you are but how long you have been at something, which can make you feel old. After playing hockey for 20+ years, I was ready to retire. But when I won the National Championships at the 2010 Ottawa Marathon, I remember saying in an interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au9wMMyNc3A) that I felt like I was just getting started, looking forward to returning to marathoning after a well-deserved break. I had run 4 marathons in 13 months, and we were planning for another baby. Leah was born 10 months later and I ran my first marathon 13 months after she was born, 2 weeks after she finished breastfeeding. I took 7 minutes off my previous personal best and kept setting the bar higher, toward my 2016 goal.So do I feel older now, 5 1/2 years later? Somewhat. I definitely know that I have to pay much more attention to my preventative maintenance routine to keep training and racing at an elite level. But I believe the experience and wisdom I have gained with age has far benefited me than anything else. I know I can't have it all anymore and have recently been able to better choose how I will expend my time and energy while juggling so many balls in the air, which brings me to the next topic.    ParentingI did some google searching to get a better feel for some Canadian athletes who are also parents. I was going to be interviewed for this article, had I chosen to run the marathon at the 2015 Pan Am Games: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/panamgames/2015/05/09/mothers-of-exertion-three-canadian-athletes-juggling-sports-and-their-children.html . It is quite impressive.
A few women in various events include: Rachel Seaman, racewalkerHilary Stellingwerff, middle-distance runnerJessica Zelinka, heptathlete Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, hurdler Their stories, and those of many other parents, are incredible. Of course there are some amazing dads out there - Eric Gillis, Alex Genest, and Dylan Wykes to name a few, who do an incredible job of juggling families while professional athletes but fortunately (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it!) for them becoming a parent did not involve significant weight gain, excruciating labour and delivery (far more painful than any of the 11 marathons I've completed, or bones I've broken!), breastfeeding, and hours of training to return to one's pre-pregnancy body. When I was pregnant with our first child in 2005, I got some disapproving looks and unsolicited opinions about running. Having a supportive husband and midwife was a blessing as I continued to do what I always did and loved. When 6 months pregnant with our first and third, I ran a half marathon and even played a fun game of hockey (respectively). It was a blast! Over the years I've been interviewed by various people about being active while pregnant and breastfeeding and I'm glad to have been a help, including assisting Francine Darroch in her PhD research. Many women have simply been comfortable "listening to their bodies" but some updated guidelines and recommendations would certainly be more reassuring for others.
Ageing is one thing but parenting is another. Being an athlete requires a certain element of selfishness. And when you are a parent and an athlete, you can't be selfish. A parent/athlete can never guarantee an uninterrupted day where everything goes as planned with workouts, naps, meals, and sleeping - to name only a few of the demands in a typical day.
Injury
Lastly, the final factor that will make me different than most of the other athletes is the seriousness of my near career-ending femur fracture that required emergency surgery for the placement of a plate and three screws. I remember telling my husband once that if that if I ever needed hardware, my career would surely be over.
Back to google I went to find a few athletes who are also competing with hardware. I already knew of Reid Coolsaet's collar bone injury after a trail biking accident, which required hardware insertion. In fact, he's shown me the pictures. Not pretty. But his progress since has proven to be unharmed, most recently running a personal best time of 2:10:29 at the 2015 Berlin Marathon, making him the 2nd fastest Canadian Marathoner in history, a title that we now both share.
Other athletes with significant injuries include Kyle Shewfelt (gymnast who broke both his tibias), Silken Laumann (rower who had her leg crushed, requiring multiple surgeries) and Alexandre Despatie (diver who sustained a serious head injury and broken foot).
So, put them all together and who do we have? Not many. But there is at least one that I came up with, and I'm sure there are others. Karen Cockburn. She is one of a few who has managed to tackle the odds by earning a bronze medal in trampolining at the 2015 Pan Am Games at the age of 35 after having a child and breaking her ankle, which required hardware. I was thrilled to read that she is training to compete in her fifth Olympics and glad to have someone to look up to who isn't so different than me! http://www.insidetoronto.com/sports-story/6220115-three-time-olympic-medallist-karen-cockburn-gunning-for-her-fifth-olympics/

So what is next for me in my pursuit to be my best in 2016, despite the odds that are against me? I ran a few rust busters in December - the Tannenbaum 10 km and Boxing Day 10 miler, which went relatively well. On January 17  I will compete in the half marathon in Houston. Earning a spot on the World Half Marathon Championship team would be incredible but that would mean running a low 72 minute half marathon. http://athletics.ca/national-team/athletics-canada-athlete-tracking/#sthash.UtXsXLYz.dpbs
I will have two other attempts at it when I run the Vancouver First Half in February and the Chilly Half in March but it is a secondary goal for 2016. The Around the Bay 30 km race is a likely chance and a perfect fit before commencing specific marathon training for Rio.
My body is healthy and my fitness is steadily improving, which is exactly where I want to be right now. An old girl can't ask for much more than that!
Source for above information: Wikipedia.


First race on my Road to Rio, the Tannenbaum 10 km. Photo credit: Beaches Runners. 

Enjoying a meal at the beach while on vacation in Cuba with Jonathan's family. Running and swimming on the road and  in the ocean in the morning, with a late afternoon session at the gym while not having to cook, clean, do laundry or fetch groceries made for a perfect training week!

Selfie with Coach Rick Mannen, shortly we started the Boxing Day 10 miler. 

Hoping for another Team Canada picture like this one, before the 2013 World Champs. Photo credit: Athletics Canada.

Highlight of 2015 - achieving the Olympic Standard, 11.5 months after my femur injury. Photo credit: Rotterdam Marathon. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Finding My Strong and Staying Focused.

With my pyjamas on and a latte in hand, I am finally taking the time to write an update. The kids have gone to their grandparents for a sleepover and the house is quiet. No hockey. No swimming. A free evening. Nothing. A rare occasion. So here goes...
After discovering I broke the second metatarsal in my foot by simply stepping on a rock in mid August while training for the October 18, 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM), I diligently plugged away at a fairly intense cross training routine, covering 2.5-3.0h/day using the pool, bike, elliptical and treadmill (walking). In addition, I maintained my usual strength training and preventative maintenance routine, and was pleased to keep a consistent body weight in the low 120's and resting heart rate in the high 30's.  Initially I was hoping to still race STWM but with each passing day I came closer to the reality that it would not happen. This was a big disappointment but I eventually got over it and looked forward to again being part of the broadcast team with Michael Doyle and Tim Hutchings. The next plan was to race the Nov 22 Philadelphia Marathon.  I told my good running friends, Dan Way and Darren Lee, who planned to run it and looked forward to a fun weekend. So after 4 weeks with no running and then being given the green light to resume, I logged 2 easy weeks, gradually transitioning from soft to hard surfaces. I then successfully completed a track workout of 800 m repeats, faster than goal marathon race pace, which is always my target after any significant time off. This bumped my fitness confidence to a comfortable level, allowing me to continue with the build. I was so pleased to personally discover that all the cross-training worked! The calendar didn't allow enough time for my usual build but Rick and I believed that with my cross training and quality kilometres, I could run a decent race. I didn't need to run a fall marathon but didn't want to have such a gap between my April 2015 qualifying race in Rotterdam and the August 2016 Olympic Games. However, I did have doubt, which can't happen when you are training for any 42.2 km race. Later in the afternoon after my 800 m repeats, I had some discomfort in my foot. It wasn't the same pain from the metatarsal fracture but still enough for me to know it was time to throw in the towel and call it a season. Risking more damage to the foot, even if soft tissue, was not worth it when I already had my standard. I took the advice I frequently give to my kids by placing my need ahead of my want and told Rick that Philly was a no go. It was actually a big relief.  I was off running for nearly a week before my return to the fracture clinic so fortunately by the time I got there the discomfort, which I only felt when toeing off, was nearly gone. I took one more week off then began walk/jogging again on soft surfaces.
I have now completely nearly 5 weeks of easy running with absolutely no issues with the foot.
I did a tempo workout earlier this week and today was my first track workout. Again I was pleased to run repeats faster than marathon pace. Certainly not speedy when you look at the numbers but with each pregnancy and injury, this has always been the system that works for me. I am not afraid to take the time to slowly get faster. And it doesn't bother me to humbly race the shorter distances, even if far from my personal best times, if it means I am healthy and progressing. I believe I have gained even more strength this time, particularly due to the biking and weight lifting. I logged my longest time ever of 2 hours on the bike, which was actually quite enjoyable because I watched Derek Drouin jump to gold at the world championships. And nearly all of my weights have increased by at least 10 lbs. I am more muscly than lean but know my body will get to where it needs to be.

Now to talk a bit more about what I really went through between August and October. Breaking my foot was a more difficult trial than breaking my leg last year. Really. By far. At the time, my husband was travelling a lot for work and the kids were on summer vacation, leaving me to single parent more than I desired. All while not being able to run. Not a good combination. It was really tough. I felt miserable but knew it was another incredible opportunity to mature and grow in my faith, again believing better things were yet to come. My sister was integral in encouraging me, and the two major speaking engagements I had allowed me to be honest and real about my struggles. I spoke about blessings - God's favour and protection. But more about trials - painful circumstances allowed by God to transform our conduct and character. I shared that I was blessed with so much and loved God, my husband, children and running but that no one is exempt from the trials and hardships of life. Without running I had the physical energy to handle the dishes, laundry, groceries, cooking, and cleaning but was really struggling with the emotional and mental demands of parenting three kids who naturally fought, whined, and got bored as soon as we returned home from our summer cabin. I put my thoughts together and wrote:
I will choose joy.
I will run again.
I will be thankful.
I will do all I can to heal and stay fit.
God's plan is better than mine.
I continued to speak these truths to myself, knowing that this trial would soon pass, again being better for it.
It is too early to feel like I am on the other side of it and quite honestly, between now and Rio I will likely be hypersensitive to any sort of discomfort or odd feeling. But covering myself with bubble wrap isn't an option so I move on with cautious optimism. The next 9 months will likely be the most significant in my entire athletic career. My dad used to say, "Krista, you can't do everything" and I am applying that truth more now than ever. I have already started to say no more than yes in order to keep my plate balanced. Years ago when I contemplated the notion to run in the Olympics, I knew my best chance would be in 2016, particularly because all the kids would be in school full time. It seemed so far away but that time is now.
The goal is to prove my fitness in the spring/summer, all the while being prepared to better my marathon time, should the need arise. It sure would be fun to compete at the world half marathon championships as Canada is sending a team but we won't be taking risks in this build to go after secondary goals.


Doing 400 m repeats wearing shorts & a tank top on Nov. 19 at 15C. Beautiful.  


Spending more time in the gym than outside.

Pool running in low 60's builds character. Again.

Back at the gym. Again. First one there.

So proud of the big sweat puddle after my longest bike ride ever of 2 hours. Got to watch Derek Drouin jump to gold at worlds during this ride.

Have always loved eating healthy. No two salads are ever the same. This one: kale, quinoa, beans, various vegetables, chicken.

Leah always there, assisting me with my preventative maintenance routine.  In this picture, she is giving medicine to my broken metatarsal. Sweetie.

Was a pleasure to introduce iRun's Ben Kaplan as speaker at this year's Kenyan Kids Foundation Harvest Half pasta fundraising dinner.

Plugging my Garmin in again after a 4 week rest. Worth taking a picture cause I was so excited to run again.

Feeling somewhat like a heptathlete with various shoes (for the pool, bike, elliptical and treadmill). 

Seth in pre-comp swimming.

Micah in Minor Atom AAA hockey.
Leah in ice kittens hockey.

Speaking about my trials. 


Still loving this road, next to our campground, even if only walking.

Coaching x country running again this year was a super experience. Micah and Seth on the start line with their best friend, Jacob (on right).

Would still rather race than broadcast but it's the next best thing.

Spiffy new Saucony Rides on a warm November day in shorts and a t.

Checking out the gym before leaving for Jonathan's work gala dinner.