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.
Read more from Marathon Mom, Krista DuChene
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Proclamation: Nine Months.

Nine months.
No, I am not pregnant. It’s almost as good.
I am running again! Well, jogging…but still! And I’m doing it with goals and dreams.
Big goals and dreams.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Everything has fallen into place beautifully since fracturing my femur, 11 weeks ago.
The glass remains half full. God is good, all the time!
So here are my big goals and dreams:
1. My goal is to run my first marathon in April 2015, nine months from now, one year after my major injury. So far I have surpassed all of my little goals along the way, while recovering from this busted leg, so why should this be any different? You know me—set the bar high, achieve, and repeat. Originally, I thought I’d be on crutches for 2 months; it was 5 weeks. I thought I’d need a cane for 3 weeks; it was two. We thought I would return to running at 3 months; it was 10 weeks. Etcetera, etcetera. There is no stopping me.
2. My dream is to make the qualifying standard within the qualifying period to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, I’ve said it. You read it here! The bar is set. I’m moving forward!
It certainly won’t be easy but like Bethany said in the movie, “Soul Surfer” when returning to training after losing her entire arm to a shark, “I don’t need easy. I need possible”. I’ll be honest, I kept my return to jogging quiet, mainly because I didn’t know how it would go. Speed walking is one thing. Running is another. Despite reassurance that the plate and screws are securely in place, I had no idea what it would feel like. I don’t know many athletes with hardware in their femur, trying to make a full return to training and racing. But, there are some, somewhere. And I hope to be one, sometime.
So let me go back a few weeks since my last post. On June 20, I had a bone scan, which confirmed that the critical blood supply was indeed not affected by my injury. I had been told this by the surgeon in Montreal, Dr. Jarzem, but a thorough exam nearly two months after the injury and surgery would give us a clearer picture. At this appointment and upon discussing my continued, positive progress, Dr. Dill then moved my next appointment up a few weeks. On July 4, I had an x-ray, which again showed continued healing in the bone. I again cringed when I saw that hardware drilled into me. I rarely think about it unless telling someone so when I see it on the screen, it seems very foreign. And like watching the iRun video of me finishing the race, I shudder.
Coach Rick came with me to the appointment because of the possibility of me being allowed to start jogging, provided the x-ray was good. Sure enough, Dr. Dill was pleased so we started discussing how I could safely ease into it. We understood the great importance of being very careful. Very careful. The bone was healed enough that I could gradually start but was still healing. Doing too much, too soon could be very problematic. I remember being told in hospital to be very careful in the first 48 hrs after the surgery due to risk of dislocating the hip. It was concerning. And I was very cautious. The last thing anyone wants is a major setback. We talked about using soft surfaces (treadmill, trail, dirt road), continuing to cross-train, walk-jogging, and paying great attention to being slow and steady, stopping if it was painful. Rick explained how I eased into it after the last injury, saying that we expected this return to take longer.
So we left the hospital with smiles on our faces, ready to start the next chapter. Of course, I started with a few shuffles that very day. I just had to! And it was neat because Crossroads Christian Communication (100 Huntley St.) was there as they are covering my story in my attempt to recover and participate in the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games. After our taped discussion about my story, they filmed my first few shuffles with Rick by my side at the North Park track in Brantford at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, where I train. They will see some big improvement when they tape me the next time!
On the first day, I likely did about six, 10 second shuffles with walking between. The next day within my 45 minute walk I did 8 x (0:15 shuffle & 2:45 walk). Since then, I’ve daily added a few more sets with a few more seconds, working my way up to a 60 minute walk with 22 x (1:10 jog & 1:50 walk). I started wearing my Garmin and doing the math in my head to begin estimating my “mileage”. Week one was 11.2 km and today was 4.4 km total. It’s thrilling to see it in writing!
It took less than a week to go from a shuffle to a jog but I know it will take much, much longer to go from a jog to a run. What I mean by a run is heading out at a steady pace, for a decent length, not thinking about anything. I know I can—and will—do it!
As for how it felt, the various areas of soft tissue were tired by the end of the day, especially due to the increased walking that week. Most importantly, there has been no bone pain! The most entertaining aspect of my first few shuffles was the “jiggly” left cheek compared to the solid right. But even that has improved by leaps and bounds in just over a week. I am into a great routine with my morning walk/jog with stretching and exercises, my afternoon bike and pool time, and evening plank, averaging 2 hrs daily.
Oh, and one more thing about the nine months. Just like I gave up any sort of junk food for 3 and 6 months prior to my last two marathons, I’m doing it again. Yep, bye bye goodies until April 2015! It’s all good, folks!

Healing well. Don't think I'll ever get used to seeing this foreign object. At least I don't feel it when running!!!

Kids made the news, running with the weather gal while promoting the Harvest Half!

Get your tickets at

It was good while it lasted. See you again, Peanut Buster Parfait (and other sweets), in April 2015!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sometimes you have to look back to look forward

June 15, 2014
It has been seven weeks since my femur fracture and I continue to progress in leaps and bounds.
The most rewarding advancement has been the return to my daily routine. Initially after Jonathan's parents left, it took nearly an entire day to do the work I did in addition to my training. "Simple" house-hold jobs like laundry, cleaning, cooking, and tidying up for a family of five were quite difficult to accomplish with crutches, on my own. But I managed to find ways to function safely around the house to get it done and it began to get easier as my leg got stronger. Of course, I had help from Team DuChene. Now I am back to getting the kids ready in the morning, heading to the gym, lunch and quiet time with 3 yr old Leah, those house-hold jobs, after-school activities, dinner, and bed-time routines.
My spirits remain high but I am human and there are times I've felt a bit bummed. Missing planned races, not seeing my name on the Canadian team for the Commonwealth Games, and the occasional, "You should be careful" from people I hardly know has sometimes bothered me but has been short-lived. I look at where I've come from and where I'm going and expect it to be one serious come-back!
I've had many people contact me with their stories and the one thing I continue to believe and apply, in many areas of life, is to remain positive and not compare myself to others. Although possibly similar, every situation is unique. I choose to disregard the negatives and focus on the greater steps to come.
Initially, there seemed to be so many things I couldn't do - stairs, walking, driving, standing on the broken leg and the obvious, running. But now running is about the only thing I can't do. Every few days I am able to do something new, which is both encouraging and exciting. A few days ago I was able to take 5 or 6 steps, without limping and without my cane. Two days later, I completed 3x5 minutes of walking on the treadmill, hands-free! This morning I did my longest walk (with the cane) of 1 hour, followed by 30 minutes of cycling, which felt great. Every day the soft tissues are getting stronger and stronger.
I think I will be able to wean myself off the cane by 8 weeks, which will give me 4 weeks of steady and solid walking before I attempt jogging. In my mind I will take about 3 months to progress from jogging to running. I've often compared this injury to that of a pregnancy come-back but to be honest, I think this will be easier. Because I was back to my gym, physio and massage routines, less than 3 weeks after my surgery, I did not lose too much strength or endurance. Before the fracture, my resting heart rate (RHR) was 36, and when in my best shape it's been as low as 29. For me, tracking this is a good fitness indicator. After my fracture, my RHR was up to 48 and now it's down to 41. Getting there.
As for pain, I continue to be without it. The odd time I may experience some is when I quickly catch my balance on the fractured leg, usually to prevent a trip over one of the kids or dog. Ten legs around your two can sometimes do that! I guess I could say I've had some pain in the soft tissue in the left leg, as it has been built, but it is certainly nowhere near the bone pain from the fracture.
In terms of set-backs, I have also been very blessed in this area. I did however, get a second infection in the same area as before. For those of you who know anything about surgery, particularly involving bones, you do not mess around with this. I notified Dr. Dill right away and we gave it a few days but it was not getting better as I likely had a dissolvable stitch that did not dissolve. So, off to the fracture clinic I went. Weak stomach? Stop reading here. As a parent, I've always believed in taking kids with you to appointments. They need to learn how to behave appropriately in such environments. However, this was one time that I had to go solo. After freezing the area, Dr. Dill essentially cut a tunnel, 1 cm x 1 cm in diameter and 1 inch deep. Yes, 1 inch deep. So much for what I thought would be something simple like removing a sliver! His wonderful nurse, Susan, assisted him in filling it with packing tape, and covering it with various layers to keep it clean, dry and protected to heal from the inside. At one point, Dr. Dill consulted with an infectious diseases doctor and did a swab to confirm that it was a simple, bacterial external infection. If it was some other strange bacteria or infected internally, near the hardware or bone, we would have one very serious issue. I had to have the area changed 5 times in the first week. It is healing quickly, I am now finished my antibiotic, and hopefully I will be able to resume my pool work in another week or so. No rush.
I have missed the water but have still been able to get in 1.5-2 hrs of daily activity. At the gym I use the elliptical, stair-elliptical, bikes and treadmill. At home I walk outside and bike downstairs on rollers. The walking allows me to build those glute, quad and hamstring areas, necessary for running but does not create much of a cardiovascular workout as I can only get my heart rate to about 100 BPM. The other methods provide a great variety where I can usually keep my heart rate at about 150 BPM, allowing me to get back into decent form. I do some stretching and a variety of upper and lower strength training, nearly back to my original settings. Both Sherri (physio) and David (massage) think I have about 80% strength in the left leg. I am hoping that this previously weak left leg will be and stay at 100% in another 5 weeks when we expect to get the green light to run. Well, jog. In the evening, I am up to a 2:15 plank, 25 pushups, and a steadily growing variety of other exercises.
I have a bone scan, June 20 and my final ortho appointment with x-ray is July 18. I am still enjoying this break but am mentally starting to really miss running. I know I am not ready yet but believe that my mind and body will be in synch when the time is right. #KristaStrong

All smiles as I hop on the elliptical for the first time at 5 weeks.

I won't include pictures of what's underneath but post-surgical infections are something to not take lightly.


At 1 week, it took nearly 30 seconds to get my leg off the couch.


 At 7 weeks, I completed 3 x 5 minutes of treadmill walking, hands-free!

Psalm 37:4-5 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.