Monthly Archives: January 2016

Running from Anxiety

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Yesterday, I ran an 8 mile progression run as part of my Boston Marathon training.  It was a windy ass day, but not too cold, so I headed out in shorts ready to get this thing done.  I started slow, I ran a 9:02, 8:59, 8:38, 8:23 and 8:11.  By that point I was feeling pretty good, but knew I wanted my last 3 miles to be epic.  At 5.25 miles I actually stopped at the local grocery store, Safeway, to pick up my prescriptions.  This was planned ahead of time, as I had worn my AltraSpire running backpack without the reservoir in it.  Went to the pharmacy, had the tech wrap everything up nicely, and plopped it in my bag.  I headed out to get the rest of the run finished.  Everything was packed nicely, but you could still hear the steady and constant shaking of the pill bottles, almost like maracas.  I ran mile 6 in 8:10, and that is when I wanted to turn it up a notch for the final 2 miles.  As the pills acted as a metronome, I pounded down South Parkside Drive and 10th Ave with all I could.  I don’t think anything could have broken my focus.  I hit mile 7 in 7:29.  I wanted to make mile 8 something special.  Hitting STOP on my watch as I hit that final mile, I saw my split was 7:24.  My progression run was a huge success!

After my stop at Safeway, I was initially bothered by the sound of the pills in my bag.  I thought it was going to drive me nuts.  But then I started thinking about those pills and how they aren’t a nuisance that should be driving me crazy.  I have been taking Escitalopram (Cipralex) and Clonazepam since 2010.  My mother, my husband and some close friends and family have been aware of this, but not a lot of others.  It is important to talk about, and on #BellLetsTalk day I figured today would be a good time to talk about it.

Escitalopram and Clonazepam are both drugs used to help with depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  I take my cipralex daily for help with anxiety, and I take the Clonazepam as needed.  I call this one my “emergency pill.”  The reason why I was put on these medications by my family doctor was due to many compounding reasons.  I have always been a bit high-strung and anxious, even if it didn’t seem like that during my high school years back in Wisconsin.  I had good marks and was involved and on the outside, very well put together.  But then, take into account my father died in 2004….I graduated university in 2007…I moved to a new country in 2008….I didn’t have a full-time job yet in 2010…I wasn’t in a great place, as I didn’t know how to handle with a lot of the stressors around me.

In early 2010 I went and started trying to talk to a counselor about the issues I had dealing with my dad’s death.  I have mentioned before in this blog that I think during my university years I kind of went through a denial stage that the whole thing happened, and just put on a tough face to hide the emotions that I had inside.  The counselor helped a bit, but we parted ways as I didn’t really see eye-to-eye with his philosophy.  With having no full-time teaching contract going into the summer of 2010, planning my December wedding, and then still having yet to fully deal with my dad’s untimely death from a few years before that, I knew I needed to talk to my doctor about options to help.

I was prescribed the two medications and have taking my daily one religiously since then.  After about a month, I could tell it was helping calm me.  I think one of the first times I took my ‘emergency pill’ was in November 2010 when I lost my passport at the Toronto airport and basically went into a ballistic crying spell.  By the time I got into the hold zone at security to try and find out if they could locate it, I had calmed down dramatically.

Since first starting the medications, I decided to try seeing a counsellor again about my issues with my dad’s passing.  I also, in 2013, started this very blog.  While the blog started as a way to remember my dad (and fundraise for heart disease research in his memory) as I trained for and ran in the 2014 Dopey Challenge during Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, it was also a coping mechanism.  The blog, the counselling, the medication….and the running….has all helped me become more of the person I want to be.

After finishing the Dopey Challenge, I could have very well ended this blog.  I used this blog to help bring awareness to my fundraising efforts.  But I realized that this blog really helped me as a person.  And after doing the Dopey Challenge, that was when I first realized that if I focused on just training for and running a full marathon I could maybe, JUST MAYBE, qualify for the Boston Marathon.

I trained for Calgary Marathon in 2014, and missed the qualifying time.  I was frustrated, mad and didn’t want to go through the training again.  But then I signed up for Edmonton, which would be in August of that same year.  Same year, same results.  I only bested my time by about a minute, and was still over 10 minutes away from the max qualifying time for my age group.  Maybe I should throw in the towel….but after thought and consideration, I registered for the 2015 Vancouver Marathon.  I regained my focus, and put my energy into following a new training plan made specifically for me.  Registering for many local races and seeing how my times were dropping were powerful and motivating; it kept me pushing.  While I had stopped seeing the counsellor by this time, running truly had become my therapy.

And if you’ve read my blog, you now know that in Vancouver I did succeed-I qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon running 20 minutes faster than my previous best marathon time, and beating my qualifying standard by just over 10 minutes.  Running had allowed me to do something I love, all while going through every possible emotion.  It pushes me to the limit, it makes me question what is possible…and it allows me time to reflect and become at peace with what is going on around me.  Running hasn’t solved everything, but it sure has helped me along the way, and without running I am not sure where I would be right now.

So, yes.  I am someone, like many, who takes a prescription daily to help deal with daily life.  I also take high doses of endorphins whenever possible, because that along with the adrenaline that racing produces has helped me heal, slowly but surely.  This isn’t something to be ashamed about, so I wanted to share it today.  You now know a little bit more about my crazy, imperfectly perfect life.

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2 Different Days, 2 Different Runs, 2 Very Different Results

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I am rounding out week 4 of my Boston training, and not without some interesting running the past few days.  This winter has been all over the place—colder than usual, and snowier than the city of Lethbridge is used to.  On Tuesday, a ray of hope appeared as it was above freezing and a lot of snow covered sidewalks were starting to melt.  During my speed workout that evening, I was able to just puddle jump no problem.  Little ice, just slush.  Fantastic!

Then, overnight, it dropped WAY below freezing.

By Wednesday, all those pathways that was slush and becoming clear now became a frozen apocalyptic disaster.  It was like hundreds of asteroids had hit Southern Alberta and planted themselves on the sidewalks I depended on running on.  I had brought my running stuff to work and as I headed out at just before 4 pm for a 60-75 minutes “easy-paced” run, I knew it would be anything but.  It was around 14 Fahrenheit outside, which I will say what I have said before…I don’t mind the cold at all.  But the terrain conditions were the issue.  I ran my first mile just a second above the max pace of my easy limit; 8:45.  I was encountering more ice than I had anticipated, and 5th ave North to 28th Street North didn’t clear way.  I was bracing my whole body so much as I ran, clenching my shoulders and watching my footsteps.  During mile 2 I decided right then and there I would just run 60 minutes, as to just get the ‘on my feet’ feeling in.  My splits were dreadful:  9:21, 9:24, 9:42, 9:41, 9:46.  I finished 6.5 miles in a pathetic-for-me 1 hour 1 minute and 39 seconds.  My whole body ached.  I was mad.  I went home and promptly molded myself into an Epsom salt and bubble bath filled tub.  It was an ugly day.

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My Thursday came and went; busy day at work.  Lots of kids in my room in the afternoon preparing for their math final exams and diplomas.  Before I knew it, it was time to go back home and get ready for my run.  It had been above freezing during the day, and clear skies, so I had a glimmer of hope that the sidewalks had cleared more.  Today’s workout was to be 50-60 minutes with 4 miles of it at my goal marathon pace.  My goal pace is a solid 8:00 minutes per mile (3:30.00 full marathon time); that’s what I trained for last year during Vancouver training.  Anything around that while in Boston I will be pleased with.  I was nervous heading out tonight, as yesterdays run was a complete pile of shit.  And I knew how disappointed I would be if I could keep 4 miles at this pace that was seemingly easy for me one year ago.

My warm up jog to Mayor Magrath/Henderson was 1 mile in 8:44, right at the top of my “easy pace.”  Alright, after I cross the street, I would head north towards North Parkside Drive, stay on the road but hug the gutter while on N. Parkside, go by exhibition grounds, down South Parkside on the cleared sidewalk, and repeat until I hit 4 miles.  My first mile felt shaky, and my legs were hurting bad.  My quads and hamstrings have been feeling the burn these last 4 weeks as I started my official training, and I am hoping that heaviness will soon pass.  I ran the first mile of my “goal pace” in 8:01.  Alright, that is fine…but could I do better than that for the last 3?  Or was I setting myself up to fail?

I rounded by exhibition grounds and Bullys to wear I got to the sidewalk adjacent to Henderson Lake Golf Course.  This was COMPLETELY clear of ice and snow!  YES!!!  I think I was smiling as I was running, even though I was running into the wind!  It was nearing the golf course entrance when I hit my second mile at goal pace, and I did so in 7:55.  Faster than the first!  Alright, I only had two more to go.

I rounded the corner of 10th ave and Mayor Magrath with some power.  I had to keep this momentum going.  I fought through some pain and hit my third goal-pace mile at 7:58.  Three down and one to go.

As I ran the last mile, I ran on the road on North Parkside Drive.  While Henderson Lake has a fantastic path, I could see out the corner of my eye that it had ice chunks and snow in various spots.  The road was clear, so I stayed here.  I wasn’t in the way of any traffic as I ran where cars would usually park on the side of the road during the summer.  I pushed until I hit my last mile and was more than ecstatic to see a 7:45!  I did it!

I rounded out the run by taking an easy jog through Henderson and headed back home via 10th Ave   And for the heck of it, I decided to stop my watch a bit early (about four blocks) from my house.  It was at that point that I hit 6.5 miles—-the same distance I did 24 hours prior.  The time today, though, was 53:45   Much more like it!

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To say I was happy about how today’s workout went would be an understatement.  After a dreadful Wednesday, Thursday bounced me back up on that high that I needed.  I love running outside, and I don’t want to give that up.  I know I could drive to the University to run circles on the track indoors, but I don’t want it to come to that.  Having a workout go as planned (and even better!) is a great mental boost.  Rest day tomorrow and then a 13 miler to round out the week.  Happy Thursday evening everyone!

 

Race Plans, Boston Training, & Clean Eating

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…For Boston Training that is!

I began my 16-week training plan for the Boston Marathon on December 27th.  It was a tough first week, as while I had been doing the RunStreak through Runners Soul all December, I really did not have the mileage (or speed…or skill) that I had last year at this time.  I had been taking it really easy the last two-three months (as I needed to) so getting back at it has been tough.  Those “Easy Paced Runs” aren’t feeling very easy, but I’m managing to hit my pace goals for each day so far.  This Saturday was my most impressive day, as I did 9.12 miles in 80 minutes in the nasty cold (-4F when I went out to start).

When I compare the data I have from last year’s training cycle for Vancouver to what I have so far for Boston, it is slightly frustrating as I was A LOT faster 365 days ago.  But, I was on a stretch of a bunch of races, and hadn’t taken a moment to slow down.  I took the time to slow down and BREATHE this fall, and have been managing with my foot bone-spur issue.  Will I be able to get to Vancouver 2015 shape by Boston?  Who knows.  But I do know I am going to Boston in April and I am going to finish that damn race and be happy no matter what my time is!

A better indicator for how Boston will go, time wise, will be the races leading up to it.  Other than my under-trained 5 km in November, I haven’t had a longer distance race since Labour Day weekend.  I have updated my race schedule for 2016 here.  There are quite a few unknowns, as two races I normally do (10 Mile Road Race & Rattler Run 10km) don’t have their registration up year, so I am not certain of the weekends.  I am also toying with the idea of doing the Calgary 50 km again (My husband and mom are going to yell at me when they read that).  That would in a way probably be my ‘last hurrah!’ before my foot surgery.  Or, if they schedule my foot surgery later in June or July, I would try to register for the coveted local race, LadiesFest, which is an 8km.  It is later this year than usual, as I am normally at ASAA Provincial Track & Field.  I have not done that race before!  Lets be honest, as long as my surgery isn’t until later in June, I’ll probably register for both…Might as well mess my foot up more before they cut it open!

As an unrelated (sorta?) thing….Dan (my husband) and I decided to not learn from our craziness in June 2014 and we embarked on the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge yet again.  I wrote about it twice on this blog, once at the beginning and at the end.  The beginning post from the last adventure is here.  Why the hell are we putting ourselves through this again?  Well, we did learn some great recipes the first time, we did lose some weight, and we actually had fun (in between our angry bouts due to lack of booze, sugar and salty snacks).  We also somehow convinced our friends Peter & Mac to join in on this, and they are doing it too.  We will all celebrate with pizzas and beer once the shenanigans are over.  The timing for these two weeks have been carefully planned, as we needed it to be two weeks where neither of us are too overloaded with work, as this requires a lot of cooking and time.  We did a weigh-in on Saturday and started the challenge Sunday.  Dan is documenting most of the cooking with pictures and videos on his phone, which yesterday consisted of me almost peeing myself laughing at the sheer size of the meals we were creating.  And the volume of dishes.  Lots and lots of dishes to wash…….

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How will this diet alter my ability while training??  Not sure.  When we did it the last time, I had just finished training for and running in the Calgary full marathon.  That marathon was the first attempt I made at qualifying for Boston, and I fell way short, running a 3:46.  I was in really good shape at the start of the diet, and the diet did really clean out any ‘bad’ I had going on.  But it did wreck havoc with my system a bit.  I had one race during the diet in 2014, Millarville Half Marathon, and I certainly did not feel the best when I was done.  I have some straightforward training runs the next two weeks with some basic speed work, so I should be OK.  Pushing through the long workouts while not ‘carbing up’ will be interesting, but I think this diet tying in to me getting back at it with my Boston training couldn’t come at a better time.  I will keep everyone posted on how it turns out in the end!  Until then, time to keep on running…Boston is less than 100 days away!!!!!!!!!!