I've managed to stay relatively positive the past few weeks while not running due foot pain. While there are definite negatives, I've tried to keep my mind open to staying busy to occupy my mind and time. I thought I'd create somewhat of a list of things I've done in hopes of giving others hope that it's not all doom and gloom.
My hubby Erick and I went for an impromptu drive and stroll (literally 500 meters out and back) with the dogs along the Martin Goodman Trail. When you are used to running the trail, it's refreshing to stop and explore a spot with no agenda or pace.
I also had a chance to check out the new subway line extension when I headed up to York University and the OMA track meet. I love how spacious the new stations are. Amazing that there is still space within the city to do this.
It's been years since I wandered around a mall. I do so much online shopping or shop at single stores downtown or 'big box' type stores. One weekend day I grabbed one of my Christmas gift cards and we checked out the not-so-new-anymore Sherway Gardens renos. At a couple points I sat to rest my foot while my hubby went into stores and people watched. At lunch time we checked out the food court, we so rarely eat fast food anymore, and was so happy to discover Chipotle! I now have a new go-to for vegan take out.
Given little Ailo this one didn't take much convincing! But you know those friends you've been saying, "It's been so long! We must get together!" DO IT.
My friends know I am already big into cooking and food prep. Sometimes this past year I've had two running events in a weekend which makes it challenging to fit it all in. The past couple weeks I've rejigged my tasks so I can spend my Sunday doing these tasks at a more leisurely pace. This has meant I've had more time to be creative in what I make and even make cookies for the first time in a couple years.
I'm sure this has really helped. I've continued to look into races, jump on a sale for run fuel and read interesting articles about running. Last weekend I took all of my medals and bibs from their storage box and sorted them by year and took photos for a blog post. I realized at that point that I was headed towards my fifth runniversary. The mental wheels started turning considering what I could do to celebrate. You'd think that all of these running things would get me down, but instead they have kept me inspired.
Okay, so maybe your parents already knows how to text. My Mum didn't. I recently gave her my old iPad and we got together to have a lesson on using it. It was weird yet fun to have the roles reversed and to be showing her how to do things. All of those little things we all thought we so cool when we first had smart phones or devices are new again. Emojis. Solitare. Sending photos. Gifs. And the good morning texts from your Mum.
Okay, so even some of our non-running events still involve running! Some of the fun stuff that's happened the past few weeks have been a Gary Robbins and Ginger Runner movie screening and interview of Where Dreams Go to Die, a post race coffee date and half-price pizza afternoon downtown.
Weekends are precious. It seems that there is always so much to do. You say you want to do something and never get around to doing it. This time off has been an awesome opportunity to do some of those things. We drove out to Bowmanville to see my niece play in a volleyball tournament. I'd never been to one and it was really exciting! Two weeks later we got to see my nephew play hockey. We've seen him play before, but it was a couple years ago. It was amazing to see how much he had improved!
One of my early thoughts when I realized my pain wasn't going anywhere was about the races I'd be missing. Well, as it turns out, I don't have to miss the races! I can still go, I just have to change up what I'm doing while there! Cheering at the recent OMA Mini Meet #2 and Robbie Burns was so fun I literally did forget that I wasn't racing. There's nothing like watching a huge crowd of runners take off at the start then experiencing the calm before the storm of their return. I think this has been a huge plus in my mental game.
I have to admit that spending the past few weeks mostly inside with warm hoodies, socks and tea hasn't been much of a hardship given the very cold and snowy winter! Our dogs have gotten the short end of the stick with losing out on their long walks. They have however received numerous extra snuggles. My hubby has been stuck with having me around more, which has meant cookies, so I don't think he minds! Things on my to-do list have been checked off and I've kept up with my blog, which, frankly has provided an amazing outlet for figuring out my thoughts. Which reminds me, it's time for tea!
Robbie Burns was the first race ever that I registered for, but did not run.
Last year this had been my PB 8K course and where I'd received my first OMA Road Series medal. I hadn't expected to better my time this year, but since so many friends had signed up and it was the selected OMA 8K race once again, it was an easy choice to add to my calendar.
I've now learned that the more races you register for, the higher your chances are of injury within that season. Just kidding (sort of). As race day approached I kept flip-flopping on my ability to possibly still race. Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I am so glad I didn't. Instead I decided I'd go to cheer on my friends, help them out as well as snap photos. I considered trying to give away my bib, but after having a quick look at the race website and not finding any info about transferring it, I figured I'd just keep it as this would mean I would still be able to eat some of those yummy post race cookies!
We coordinated an elaborate car pooling plan for race morning and seven of us were soon on our way in two car. We scored a prime parking spot near the school and I promptly gave Allison, Maria and Kate the low-down on where everything was (including the washroom that only has a line up in the last 10 minutes before the race start--shhh!). We collected our bibs intending to also collect Leanne, Erik and Michelle's. We scanned the list a couple times. No Michelle Clarke. I'm so glad I kept my bib! After a quick transfer at the registration desk, Michelle now had a bib! She kept thanking me and I kept saying it of all people it was an honour to have her use it when I couldn't.
After hanging around the school gym (I love this part of the race) staying warm, we headed out to the start behind the bagpipers. Ed Whitlock's son was there to start everyone on their way. Ed had been at the race last year, one of / if not the last races he was at before passing away.
After snapping some photos in the start corral, I made my way to the zone ahead of the start line to snap some photos of Krista DuChene, Mary Unsworth and other speedsters. Alan Brooks was there as well as Edison snapping a million photos for each that I took.
It's quite something to be on the sidelines when everyone passes at a race start. So much excitement, so many people, and then--NOTHING. I wandered over to the deserted finish line where volunteers started getting medals ready. Karyn and Dan were spectating as well, and we chatted with Alan about the recent Houston marathon and made predictions based on his very accurate calculations on when the first male and female would round the corner to the finish. The sun was out and I wasn't cold even though I wasn't running. We'd joked earlier about it being the nicest Robbie Burns weather ever and that there were going to be a lot of overdressed runners out there.
KARYN'S EPIC FINISH!
It seemed like just moments later when someone caught sight of the leader. Once he crossed, only seconds separated the finishers behind him. The lead female soon followed. I'd seen Mary Unsworth at the track the past two years for OMA. She'd broken the Canadian record for 5000 meter in her age the previous week. It wasn't a surprise to see her use every ounce of energy on that final sprint to second. Krista followed with an amazing performance on her road to Boston in a couple months.
As I stood with my camera at the finish, I saw many familiar faces as they approached the finish. My throat was definitely sore later that day from cheering! My friends all looked incredible as they ran those steps across the finish mats. I snapped a few more group photos and we made our way inside for snacks and awards.
I was so glad I was there to see Maria receive an age award! She, as well as Leanne and Mei received top results in the OMA Road Race series. I am so glad to have more friends in the medal race with Michelle and I!
PHOTO: LEANNE CHISHOLM
LOOK CLOSELY AT THE PHOTO ABOVE...31:12 FINISH TIME...NOPE. NOT MINE, BUT FUN TO SEE THIS LITTLE GLITCH IN TRANSFERRING BIBS TO MICHELLE!
PHOTO: LEANNE CHISHOLM
When I arrived home and was sorting through the photos, I realized that not for a moment did I feel sad that I wasn't racing. I had such a good time seeing my friends out there. Oh--and I still got cookies.
July 1, 2018 will mark five years to the day since I ran 5K continuously after 'learning' to run the month earlier.
October 20, 2013 was the day I ran my very first road race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5K. At this point I'd already registered for a second race with my sister later that month. I think it was some time around that fall that I truly felt like I could call myself a runner. ..Wow, if I only knew how my life would change over the next five years!
Given that I've been 'benched' for a couple weeks, I've had an opportunity to reflect on the past few years and where I'm headed. For one thing, I've realized that I've run a lot of races! I've tried track, trail, cross-country, and relay races. I've been an ambassador for several races. Our team Endorphriends was sponsored by Reebok for an incredible 300km Ragnar relay journey. I've helped coordinate an inclusive group of runners called JPsTeam. I've been able to better my race times. I've done a destination race. I've run in costume or tutu--a few times. I've run race distances that span from 600 meters to 30 kilometres. I've joined Ontario Masters Athletics and participated in all of their running events. I got a run coach. I've improved my health physically and emotionally. And I've made the most incredible friends ever.
I've kept every one of my medals and bibs since that first race. While some races don't have medals, all but one has had a bib (Ragnar trail had one bib for the whole team). I've always intended to have some sort of display, but have never been able to decide on what I wanted. Today I sorted through all the bibs and medals and placed them into decorative boxes by year. It was so fun to look back on each and remember parts of each race.
Hopefully I'll be lacing up my shoes and hitting the roads again soon. On the plus side, this time 'off' has been fun to reflect on what will soon be five years, and possible ways to commemorate this milestone.
Yesterday was the first indoor track meet of the season and my second year racing as part of Ontario Masters Athletics.
I honestly think I was more excited to watch, cheer and share info with my friends Maria and Mike who ran their first track races! At one point Maria asked me, "Aren't you going to warm up?" Oh yeah! I'm racing too! Needless to say I enjoyed telling them about waterfall starts, bell laps, track cough and some rules while the information was still relatively fresh in my mind. Also nice that Michelle didn't have to worry about relaying the repetitive details and just focus on giving them their pacing and racing info. (I did forget to warn them of the very loud starter's pistol that signals the start of a race--something I realized when I saw Maria jump at the first one. Oops!)
I had to laugh when they both said the same thing upon finishing their second race. The exact thing I'd said after racing the same 1500m then 600m races the year before... “That was so much better!”
I’m pleased with my first race of the season. It was two seconds slower than last year, but I think I ran a strong, evenly paced race and I look forward to pushing myself in the next two meets and championships later this season.
A special shout out to Leanne and Doreen for their constant support and love and cheers!
2017 was the year I tried several new forms of racing including:
WHAT I LEARNED:
Okay, so looking back on this now, maybe this was a bit ambitious to take on all in one year! I didn't really think of how it would pan out when I started the year. The important part is that I really did have fun, learned a lot and I know that the variety totally made me a better overall runner.
I'll always remember an article my friend Andrew Chak's wrote several years ago about the importance of having different goals for races other than getting a personal best every single time. Whether it's for a course PB, to not walk, only run, to get a negative split, to raise money for charity, to pace a friend, to practice for another race, or to just have fun. I would not have enjoyed track, trail and cross country races if it weren't for this mindset. For instance, in most of the track races I ran, I finished last. But, since I was able to better my time over the season and get comfortable with the how to's of this form of racing, I felt really proud. I raced totally for fun at Beaches Jazz Run and Tannenbaum. I also managed to train for and grab several PBs over the season.
It was definitely the busiest race year I have ever had, which, I won't lie, weekends in particular challenging to plan around. I participated in a racing event on 25 days, 2 of which were relays which involved 3-4 days. If you think that there are 52 weeks in a year, and most of the races fall in late spring to fall, you quickly realize how often I was racing. Coach Michelle never had to tell me to add races to my schedule for practice, that's for sure!
Jumping in didn't leave me time to be nervous about all the new things like I may have been in the past or if I was focused on just one new format. I don't think I could have done this comfortably had it not been for a few years of road running experience and the support of the running community. In all the new forms of running I did, I had someone I knew there to run with me or teach me the ropes. This was a huge comfort as no one wants to be THAT person! I absolutely love that my trying new racing formats may have been part of what inspired others to do the same. So many of my close friends ventured out of their comfort zone to try trail racing this year and are now in love with it. That makes me so happy. I know that a couple friends are going to be joining me at the track this winter and I look forward to teaching them about waterfall starts and bell laps.
Overall I'd say my biggest lesson over the season was being able to compare the exertion on a hard interval on the track with a hill on the trail or the last sprint of a road race. I think I was better able to accept and hold onto the discomfort in all of those areas mentally and physically.
MY 2017 SEASON:
OMA Mini Meet #1: 600m
OMA Mini Meet #1: 1500m
OMA Mini Meet #3: 800m
OMA Ontario Masters Indoor Championships: 800m
OMA Canadian Masters Indoor Championships: 800m (PB)
OMA Ontario Masters Outdoor Championships 800m
5 Peaks trail, Terra Cotta, 5.4K sport
5 Peaks trail, Rattlesnake, 5.3K sport
5 Peaks, Albion Hills, 6.5K sport
5 Peaks trail, Heart Lake, 7.5K sport
5 Peaks trail, Kortright, 7K sport
Run for the Toad, 12.5K trail
Ragnar relay Niagara: 11.4K | 9K | 9.1K
Ragnar Trail Cottage Country: 8.5K | 7.9K | 7.7K
Achilles St. Patrick's Day, 5K
Pride and Remembrance 5K (and OMA Road Race Series 5K race)
Beaches Jazz Run 5K
Fall Classic 5K (PB)
Sunset Shuffle 6K (and OMA Road Race Series 6K race)
Robbie Burns 8K (and OMA Road Race Series 8K race) (PB)
Toronto 10K (and OMA Road Race Series 10K race)
Bread and Honey 15K (and OMA Road Race Series 15K race)
Goodlife Toronto, Half Marathon (PB)
Scotia Toronto Waterfront, half marathon
OMA Cross Country Taylor Creek, 5K
Running. Design. Family. Dogs. Gardening. Food. Crochet. Canadian.