Race Report: Eggnog Jog 10.8K

Eggnog Jog 2015- with Dave
Pre-race at the Eggnog Jog, photo credit: Sue Sitki Photography

The Eggnog Jog is a popular race which runs out of the Terra Cotta Conservation Area, just north west of Toronto.  It is 10.8K, is unusual distance but the country roads in the area make  a 10K route difficult unless it is an out and back course. Regardless, the race draws over 600 participants; every year, it sells out so my husband and I registered early for it. This was my first race after the Chicago Marathon and the mid-December date gave me enough time to recover and work on regaining my speed.

Since the beginning of November, I spent my Saturday mornings focusing on speed work.  Knowing that the course has a challenging elevation, I incorporated hill training, mile repeats, and shorter intervals in those workouts as I could do them in daylight.  On the other running days of the week, I tempoed, did a long run (with my longest run at 17K) and just ran for the love of it.  I headed back to the yoga studio on Friday nights (and, by the way, yoga on Friday followed by speedwork on Saturday  makes for tired abs on Sunday morning).  Everything felt right.  I was ready and, hopefully, going to race a sub-50 minute race.

Dave likes this race because of the later start (10:30 a.m.).  I like it for the challenge.  The elevation drops about 100 metres over the first 2K and then climbs over 120 metres for the next 5-6K; the finish is a fast 400 metre downhill.

One of the biggest challenges that morning was deciding what to wear.  I had my LVA singlet, Saucony Sayonaras, and Sweaty band – but did I need one layer or two; tights, capris or a running skirt?  It poured in the morning and temperatures were hovering over 0 degrees at the start, so I opted for a t-shirt with my Running Skirt long sleeve and my tights.  I was worried about being over-dressed but, as it turned out, my gear was perfect for the day.

Despite the training I had done, when I started the race, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had 3 goals: to run as fast as I could, watch my pacing and try not to let any women pass me.  I took the first 2K conservatively as I knew that I had to start an evil climb right after.   In those first kilometres, I heard a woman talking to a man – something about keeping up – and picked up my pace enough to open a bit of a gap.  From that point on, I didn’t hear her again.

Once I got to 3K, I started to play cat and mouse with a few men.  They would run ahead of me, I would pass them, they would work to pass me again….It became a vicious cycle.  At 7K, another male runner caught up to us and, then, another at 8K.  I tried to stay with them but they were both stronger than I was – and finished less than a minute of me.  Once I got to 9K, I turned on what power I had left and gave myself another boost at 10K.

Eggnog Jog 2015
Racing the last 400m of the Eggnog Jog.  photo credit: Sue Sitki Photography

 

As I made the last turn towards the 400 metre finish, I focussed on stretching out my legs, which was tough to do when my quads were still burning from the rolling hills.   I saw the clock read 48:something and gave it everything I had to finish in 49:12.  About 20 seconds later, another woman ran in and called me a “powerhouse.”  Never in my entire life have I been called a powerhouse; it felt great.

 

I had no idea where I was in the final standings.  I felt that I was close to the top but, as I didn’t see any women ahead of me, I didn’t know if I was chasing 2 or 3 or more.  I was thrilled when I found out that I finished Third Overall.  It was a great way to end the season.Eggnog Jog 2015 - awards

 

This course was tough and I promised my husband that I would do my cooldown by running back out so that I could cheer him in.  I tried to convince a few other runners who finished ahead of me to jog with me and they looked at me as though I had horns coming out or my head.  So off I went on my own; the things we do for love.   I found Dave around the 9K mark and ran with him until we neared the finish line, when I let him close his race alone.

Both Dave and I got what we wanted out of the Eggnog Jog.  Dave wanted a goal race, a chance to push himself to run the 10.8K distance regardless of the time it took.  Me, I wanted a goal of running a sub-50 and I got that.  Best of all, though, was the chance we had to race together.

Now for Something a Little Different: Remembering.

Did you run today?  I didn’t.  In fact, I didn’t even wear running shoes to work, and I am always in my running shoes.  Today, I traded them in for my dress shoes – shocking, I know – and my “big girl” clothes.

Remembrance Day - meThere are so many days that I find myself reminding the boys and girls in my classes about how lucky we are to live in Canada.   Either they have moved to Canada, or their parents did, or their grandparents, or….In my eyes, Canada and the United States are still new nations and all of our families immigrated recently (relative to the time frame of World History).   When I read and listen to today’s current events in Syria and the Middle East, I am so grateful that I live in Canada and I am raising my children in a free nation.  It is hard to explain this to children.   I don’t want to scare them but I do want to make them understand.

So I make a big deal about Remembrance Day.  We have a lovely assembly at school and I make a point of getting dressed up for it.  My students notice.  It makes them think about the day and realize “Yes, we need to remember.”

This morning at breakfast, my 9 year old complained about missing gym class because of his school’s Remembrance Day Assembly.  “Do you understand why you have that assembly?” I asked, and I got a quick reply about having to remember the people who fought in the war.  “I want to show you something.  Wait here.”

Remembrance Day - uncles
Brothers in Arms

Minutes later, I was sitting beside him with pictures from my father’s family.  My dad, who passed away in April, was from Newfoundland and two of his brothers went to Europe during World War II.  I told the Littlest Dude that Newfoundland wasn’t even a part of Canada at that time (Newfoundland was its own dominion until 1949, when it became the 10th province of Canada) but Europe was in such trouble that when Canada went to fight with Britain, Newfoundland joined.  I reminded him of the day his granddad proudly told him about his one brother, who was a navigator of a plane called Sierra Sue, and his other who was a medic.  My dude was entranced by these pictures, accompanied by a newspaper article about them in their town’s local paper.  He turned the page and saw photos of their medals.  On the next page, he started to read a letter.  I almost took it away – almost.

“That’s the letter they sent your grandparents to tell them that your uncle died.”

Eyes focused on the typewriter text.  No expression.  He was so blank that I thought he might start to cry.  “Are you still reading?”  I asked.  He replied with a simple “yes”.

Finally, he looked up.  “Wow.  That would be an awful job – having to write all of these letters.  They would have written thousands.  I mean….” The Littlest Dude turned back a page to look at the picture of the medals and announced, “I’m going to go to school today and I’m going to tell my friends about my grand-uncles.  That’s who they are, right?”

A picture says a thousand words but these said so much more.  They gave my son a understanding that no book or assembly could have done.  This morning, World War II became real.

Because of my uncles and thousands of other men and women around the world who have fought and continue to stand for peace, I live in a free country.  For that, I am grateful.  I am thankful for the things that I have, for being able to dream about goals, and run.  And that is why, today, I traded in my running shoes for my dress shoes.

Race Recap: The Chicago Marathon

One of my greatest fears is sleeping through the alarm on the morning of a race.  The night before Chicago, I requested a wake-up call at the Hilton, set my alarm on my phone to go off at two different times, and set my watch alarm as the last call.  On Saturday night, my head hit the pillow by 10:30 and I slept until I heard the first ring at 4:30.

As I stared out the window into the darkness, I was glad that I had woken up earlier and earlier each Saturday morning for my long runs.   I was now use to pushing myself through the wee hours of the morning;  I was ready for this marathon.  Chicago - pre-marathon My headache from the day before was gone, but I felt flat, empty.   Something seemed to be missing.   I ate anyway, had a quick shower, got dressed and left Dave and the boys sleeping away as I headed towards the start line.

By 6:15, I had found myself a spot to relax before I had to get into the corral.  Aside from my running gear, I only wore a sweater that the oldest dude had outgrown.  Since I was going to toss it into a charity bin, I didn’t need to worry about the bag check.   All I had to do was keep warm, stay loose, and visit the porta-potty every now and then to make sure I was as empty as possible.

The first corral went out at 7:30 and mine (Corral B) started to move just minutes later.  From the moment I crossed the start line, I was amazed by the screaming crowds.  I expected that they would die down at some points but that never happened.  Block after block, mile after mile, the support was incredible.  Between the feeling of being pushed from behind and the sidelines cheering us on, I knew I would be able to finish the marathon.  All I needed to do was run those 8 minute miles, all 26.2 of them.

And I did – faster than that at first.  I glanced at my watch at every mile marker and realized that my pace was too fast and I tried to pull it back.  But the runners behind me kept pushing me forward.  And I felt good.  No, I felt great.   Mentally, this was going to be a tough race.  “Stay focused,” I told myself.  “Eight minute miles, eight minute miles…. Oh no!  How did I end up ahead of the 3:30 pace bunny?”

By  Mile 8, I felt my hamstrings start to tighten up on me.  The car ride from Oakville had caught up with me.  I tried to ignore it and looked for Dave, who was going to meet me around Mile 9.  He was nowhere to be seen.

By the end of the first hour, the skies were blue.  In fact, there was hardly any shade so I started to feel the slowly increasing heat.   At  Mile 10, I was starting to feel nauseous again.  “Focus.  Pull back a bit.  You’re doing fine but watch the pace.  Eight minute miles, eight minute miles….”

At Mile 12, I saw Marcia from Marcia’s Healthy Slice and her crew wildly cheer me along.  It was just the pick-me-up I needed.  Thanks to the superb water and Gatorade tables (2 city blocks long, on both sides of the road), I had more fuel in the tank.  My pacing was back to where I needed it to be and I was looking at a 1:45 half.

Dave finally appeared around 16k and again at 19K, where he ran with me for a few (2?) blocks.  “How are you feeling?” he asked, to which I replied, “My feet hurt and I need a bathroom.”  This was a marathon in which something always seemed to be bothering me.  But even though I felt sick, my feet hurt, and my legs were getting tighter and tighter, I looked around at the crowds of volunteers and spectators and thought “I want to come back next year.”

From that point, my marathon was a bit of a disaster.  It was hot.  Apparently, it was windy too, but I didn’t notice it because I was too busy noticing the aches and pains throughout my body.   I basically walked-ran the last 8 miles of the course and watched the 3:35 pace bunny run by, followed by the 3:40 and 3:45 pace bunnies.   By then, I was in the last 5 kilometres.  I was going to finish this marathon no matter what but, please, let’s get to the finish line with at least a BQ.

And I did.  I crossed the finish line in 3:51, which gives me a 9 minute window for Boston 2017.  That window can be opened a bit more and it has already has me thinking about winter and spring training and racing.

Chicago - Windy CityAfter finishing, I headed back to the hotel to meet Dave and the boys.   We packed our bags, checked out and did what every runner needs to do after a marathon – eat a huge bowl of fruit and spend hours walking around the city.  By evening, my legs felt great and were ready for the trip back home.

Even though I didn’t have a time goal, I was disappointed with my finish time and I realize now that I need to train for my next marathon with one in mind.  However, my goals in Chicago were met.  I made it to the start line and I crossed the finish line.  That’s all I set out to do.  Qualifying for Boston was a bonus and I am proud of that.   Despite the aches and pains, running Chicago was a fabulous experience and I want to go back next year.  I have left some unfinished business to take care of.

 

Travelling to the Start Line

Chicago - elevatorTwo weeks later, I am finally ready to write about the Chicago Marathon.  It was not my best race and it has taken me some time to accept that.  But, without a doubt, it is the best marathon course that I have run.  Even when my legs were tightening and I watched my pace get slower and slower, I kept thinking about how much I want to return next year.

For me, I had two goals in Chicago: getting to the starting line and, then, crossing the finish line.  I didn’t have a time goal; I had a hope but nothing tangible.  Getting to the start line was my way of challenging myself over the summer to get back into running shape, and I did.  I felt stronger and healthier than I had in years.   With my running history of not racing well at crowded events (I dnf’d in Boston in 2012, the year of the heat wave, and I had trouble coping with the crowds at the Scotiabank Half in 2013 but managed to run a 1:34 PB.), I wanted to test my mental toughness – to prove to myself that I am capable of running a big event and not dnf.  For that reason, I trained to cover the distance.  I was going to finish – no matter what.

On Friday after school, Dave, the dudes and I began what became 9 hours of driving (including a long wait at the border) to Chicago.  We bunked down for night in Jackson, Illinois, which kept us (well, me specifically) from getting too cramped from the long drive.  The next day, we arrived at the Chicago Hilton, the official marathon hotel, at 1:30.  I would have loved to have had a nap and an easy run but I had to pick up my race kit.  Chicago - expo So the two dudes caught the shuttle bus to the expo, did our part to stimulate the American economy and got back to our hotel by 5:30.

By then, my headache – unusual for me- and feelings of nausea had started.  The stress of travelling and dragging the boys to the expo had obviously caught up with me.   I hoped that the nausea was just unnoticed hunger and a good meal would be the cure.   While the dudes and I were at the expo, Dave, who had wanted to go out for dinner, screened the downtown core for potential restaurants but I suggested eating at the hotel.  “Why not?” I asked.  “Everyone staying here is involved in the marathon tomorrow so all of the dining areas are offering pasta specials.   And it is probably going to end up costing us just as much as going out somewhere, we don’t have the hassle of leaving, and there is no stress from looking for the right place and waiting for a table.”  It was the best decision of the day.  Dave and I had the pasta buffet (He supported me by eating pre-spectating carbs) and the boys ate burgers and fries.

Dinner did cure my nausea so I think I was just hungry, but my head was still pounding.  I took the boys to the pool and watched them splash and giggle.  An hour later, we headed back to our room.  It was close to 9:30 and I had just enough time to get my gear organized before hitting the pillow.

By 10:00, I had taken 2 Tylenol, crawled into bed and feel asleep instantly.   In less than 12 hours, I would be around Mile 16.

Tomorrow’s post: The Marathon.

Timing Isn’t Everything

LVA uniform circleThe past few months of training for Chicago has been a personal journey.    It hasn’t been about gaining bragging rights for finishing one of the world’s biggest marathons, nor has it been about chasing a BQ.   For me, The Chicago Marathon has about mental health, my mental health.

When I registered for Chicago, I saw it as an escape from the previous twelve months:  moving my parents into nursing care and closing the family home, watching my mother progress into the later stages of Alzheimer’s as my dad underwent rounds of chemotherapy; dealing with my own injury that resulted in a leave of absence for weeks;  facing the inevitable in the early spring.  In fact, I entered the lottery for Chicago after my dad passed as I knew that I would need the distraction of training over the summer.   At the end of May, after barely catching our collective breath, my brothers and I buried my mother just seven weeks after my dad.   I made it to the end of the school year knowing that I had something to look forward to: a summer of marathon training.

Going to Chicago has been about me – my recovery.  It has given me the focus I needed – pardon the pun – to get my feet back on the ground.  my teamThrough training, I have had to rebuild my fitness and my running mates have been instrumental in helping me do that.  I watched my mileage climb further than I thought it ever would, found some speed that I had forgotten about and, through regular yoga workouts, rediscovered my abs.  At the same time, I’ve spent the summer resting and catching up on months of lost sleep.  I’ve hung out with my boys and watched their interest in my marathon grow.   I’ve asked my husband for running advice (gasp!).

Today at lunch,  a co-worker asked me what time I’m hoping to run in Chicago.  “I don’t really have one,” I replied.  Her jaw dropped.  “You?” she asked.  “I don’t believe you.”

“I haven’t done much speed work; I’ve really only focused on building distance.  All of my long runs have been around 5 minute kilometres.  But I’m not really worried about time.  I mean, I think I’ll run around 3:30, maybe 3:45.”  She raised her eyebrows again. “I don’t really know, but I’m feeling strong,” I told her.  “Really strong.  I’m feeling fit.  I’m healthy again.”

And she added, “Cynthia, you’re smiling again.  You’ve got that twinkle in your eye back.”

Yup, I do.  And I am ready to take it to Chicago.

 

 

 

 

Testing 1, 2 and 3

Since mid-June, I have had my eye on the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box: the Chicago Marathon.   I’ve run hundreds of miles, added more morning runs to my routine (to get ready for the early rise on Marathon Sunday), stretched out the aches and pains at yoga, and made an effort to eat better and sleep more.  Today, I put all of that training to the test at the Toronto Ten Miler, a race that is part of the Excel Running Series races.

I was a bit apprehensive about running this distance just two weeks before the marathon, but after missing the winter and spring racing seasons and only shorter races (5k and 10K’s) to pick from through the summer, I mentally needed to run a longer race.  The Ten Miler was the obvious choice.  It was close to home, the date worked well in my training plan, and the distance was a better choice so close to the marathon than one of the many half-marathons that were held today.  The solid reputation of the race director, Michael Brennan, also meant that there would be many strong runners on the course, and a bit of competition is always a good thing.

Ten Miler - sunriseDave and I left headed to Cherry Beach in Toronto before sunrise as he had volunteered to help with the race (and was assigned to be the bike escort for the lead runner).  I picked up my bib,  Dave left for his volunteer duties and I enjoyed watching the sun rise over the Leslie Street Spit.   By 7:30, I was on the road to do a slow 4K warm-up for the race.

I was glad that I warmed up as far as I did.  Cherry Beach and The Spit are very scenic, which draws many runners and cyclists to the area, but they are also closed to traffic and that means the roads are beat up; there were lots of pot-holes and cracks.   The mix of shade and the sunrise made for poor lighting and that made me nervous.  By the end of my warm-up, I had added a second goal to my morning: to not fall down.

Ten Miler - finish
Testing the waters in my new Lion’s Valley Athletics singlet and chevron running skirt.

My primary goal today, though, was to put the past 16 weeks of running to the test.  I had on the shoes and skirt that I plan to wear in Chicago to make sure that both were comfortable and my skirt could indeed hold a few gels, my puffer and an ipod shuffle.  I wanted to run slightly faster than my marathon pace but my competitive edge quickly threw that plan out the window.  I ran my first kilometre at 4:42 and, despite common sense to bring it down to a 5:00 kilometre, I held onto it and ran the entire race “comfortably fast.”   I only used one of the two GU’s, at 55 minutes into the race, just as I will at the marathon, and I took in fluids (water and Gatorade) at the same points I am likely to on Marathon Sunday.   The best part of the morning: I didn’t need to poop while running (and I think that is from changing my diet a bit)!

The only problem I had was with my shoes.   With about 5 kilometres left to go, the ball of my left foot started to hurt.  I am fairly certain that this is from landing on some large stones on a few rockier parts of the course and it is something to keep an eye on over the next few days.

As soon as I saw 15K, I changed gears and started to push myself home.  I remember thinking that I should hold my pace but I also knew that I was heading to a finish time around 75 minutes.  Since I was already off-pace from an 80 minute finish anyway, I figured a few seconds faster at that point wouldn’t hurt.  I was really glad that I had picked it up as I heard people cheering in “Judie” who was obviously right behind me; I turned it up another notch and finished ahead of her by 6 seconds, resulting in a second place age group finish.

As I headed back to the car, I realized that pushing harder than I needed to was not the best idea as my legs were starting to tighten.  I did a slow cool-down, Kenyan style, to loosen them up and finished the day with a total of 25 kilometres.

And now I have just two weeks of easy running left.  I have no races, no speed work and no more high mileage.  All I need now is to focus on staying relaxed and healthy.   Let Taper Week 2 begin….

 

 

Just Keep Running

Yesterday, I breathed a sigh of relief.  I was almost at the end of my last week building up to the Chicago Marathon.   Running-wise, I had hoped to make this my highest mileage week but, as a mom and a teacher, this was my busiest week outside of training.  By Wednesday, it was obvious that I had to trust the training that I had done to this point; the goal for the week was just to keep running.

Early morning run
Love the peace that comes from running early in the morning.

Monday was a planned rest day and I spent my after-school time fulfilling mom duties.  On Tuesday, I got two runs in (5K in the morning and 8K at night) as planned, but I coached my first soccer practice on Wednesday night, leaving no time to run.  Despite a busy Thursday, I was able to make it another double day (5K in the morning, 12K at night), followed by an easy 6K on Friday after school.

Friday’s miles were tough.  My legs hurt – right behind the knees, both of them.  Looking back, I think it was from falling asleep late at night on the couch and overstretching the ligaments.  At the time, though, I was certain it was running-related so I did what most runners would do; I panicked.   I couldn’t be injured, not this close to Chicago.

That night, I decided to go to a power yoga class where I could give my legs the stretch that they needed. yoga drop I had been avoiding Friday night classes for weeks as I often end up dehydrated and that effects me the next day on my long run.   But the fear of injury trumped the fear of dehydration.  Fortunately, it did help but not enough.   I went to bed exhausted from the week and frustrated by the pre-marathon aches and pains.  On Saturday morning,  I woke up feeling better but not quite healthy enough to run long.

This weekend, then, I flipped my long run with my recovery distance.  Yesterday, I ran a gentle 15K, using the time to work on my form and stride.  After 30 minutes into my run, my legs were starting to feel more normal and, by the time I got home, they were fine.  I was ready for my long run.

This morning, I headed out the door while the dudes and hubby were sound asleep.  I had 35K in the books and wanted a 20K tempo in the middle.  An hour after heading out, I popped back home to grab some Gatorade before I started; the littlest dude was awake and happily watching television, seemingly oblivious to my presence.  I wondered if his older brother was still going to get up, as promised, and ride with me through the last 10K of my tempo; I was counting on him for fuel.   “He’s reliable,” I reminded myself.  “He’ll find me on course.”

My tempo was on a 5K loop – into the wind for 1K, down a hill and into the wind, uphill, down another less windy hill, and into the wind again until the end of the loop.  I had to run four of them.  The first three were fine;  pacing was exactly where I wanted to be, but I suddenly started to feel nauseous at 17K, probably from the lack of water/fluids; it was obvious that the Littlest Dude was still the only one awake at home.  I pushed through the next kilometre but had to stop at 18K.  I was done.  I decided to cool down and head home, for a total of 33K instead of 35K.  What was interesting is I ended up keeping my pace the same without thinking about it.  Sure enough, by the time I got home, one long tempo and a cool-down later,  the Littlest Dude was still the only one awake!

post long runSo, in my busy week with a birthday, a swimming lesson, soccer coaching (twice),  another soccer game and countless driving commitments from here to there, and work, I ended up with a fairly successful week.   With a bit of creativity and juggling things around, I finished the week with 83K and a tempo that had been a bit of a monkey on my back.  Now I can put my feet up in the air and start to enjoy the taper.

 

 

What Was I Thinking?

As much as I love the marathon distance, I have never really entertained running a fall marathon.   I have a classroom to set up, students to get to know, marking and assessments to complete, an open house, progress reports, cross-country coaching – and I also have the task of getting my own two boys back into their routines.  In the fall, my family, teaching and running lives collide; building mileage towards a marathon has never been in the cards.

getting back at it.
Starting to think about running a little more seriously at the end of March.

Until this year.  I really don’t know what I was thinking back in April when I registered for the Chicago Marathon.  I really must have been going through a period of insanity.  At the beginning of April, I was just getting back to working out again and, at that point, I was only running two or three times a week (if that); my weekly mileage was barely at 20k.   Breaking my jaw in the winter meant that I was missing out on the spring marathon season and I was bitter about that. I needed to fill that void.   My dad had passed shortly after Easter, my mom wasn’t well and I needed something to focus on – something positive and something for me.  Clearly, training for a marathon would fill my time even if my plan was simply to just finish.  Training for Chicago was about to consume me.

Before that final click to registering, I did think about the September start-up.  “You’ll be fine,” I told myself.  “You’re an experienced teacher.  You know what you’re doing.” Clearly, I was delusional as I clicked “submit”.  Then, I started dreaming about chasing ponytails and distance goals and it wasn’t long before I was focussed on rebuilding mileage and fitness.  If the first half of 2015 was a test of my inner strength, the summer was a test of my physical.  By the end of August, I had caught those goals.

And, then, last week happened: back to school.  Suddenly, late nights were filled with laundry and planning lessons while early mornings became even earlier with drop-offs at two different schools before I arrived at my own.  And, somehow, I had also planned to make last week my second highest mileage week before heading to Chicago – second highest, over 90 kilometres of running during the first week of the school year.  What was I thinking?

labour day
Monday: my double-run day.

But I got it done.  By planning 8 runs over 7 days, which included a double-run day on the holiday, a late night run and a very early morning jog, I was able to reach the weekly distance I wanted: 93K done!

Am I tired?  Yes,  I am justifiably exhausted.  Running is going well, school is great, my kids are happy and my house is a mess to prove it.   But I am feeling like a rock star.

This afternoon, after my 93K week, I suddenly started to feel really tired, more like a rock star who had partied way too much on the weekend.  Monday morning is going to hurt.  And, once again, I am asking myself “What was I thinking?”

 

 

 

Closure

The excitement of back to school is in the air.  My boys have spent the past two weeks organizing their gear, trying to guess which teachers they will have, wondering which friends will be in their classes, and planning their morning routines.  I have been busy setting up my classroom, planning with other teachers and getting ready to greet a new set of smiling faces.  While I enter September with energy and excitement, this year I have also been carrying a bit of fear .

Broken Jaw 1
The morning after my accident. The open wound is stitched, discolouration is beginning and there is some obvious swelling.

In January, I had a running accident, a freak accident if you will, when I fell on a particularly dark section of road and broke my jaw in four places.  I spent 4 weeks recovering at home, 6 weeks on liquids and 8 weeks without any physical activity other than walking.    I was lucky.  I could have broken my neck, I could have been unconscious…the list of “could have’s” is endless.   I only broke my jaw.

The one worry that I carried throughout my recovery, though, was about my teeth.  When I hit the road, my bottom front teeth shifted.  The sudden discolouration of some teeth made the oral surgeon think I would need a root canal or two.  It looked like I had some cracked teeth at the back of my mouth.   But I was told that teeth do repair themselves so there was no reason to worry.  “Wait 6 months,” he said.  “That will give your mouth the time that it needs to heal.  Then, we’ll x-ray and see what work needs to be done.”

“Don’t worry,” he said.  Of course, I worried – every time I looked in the mirror, brushed my teeth and ate.  And I’ve worried about the time that I would need from work for any reconstructive work.  And I worried about the cost.  How could I not worry?

So at home, when the dudes have been excitedly in their back to school frame of minds, my fear of my follow-up exam was consuming me.  I was glad that I had booked my appointment for the week before school so that I could eliminate my fear of the unknown; I had to have an idea of what lay ahead.   At least, then I would know; then, I could plan.

All smiles
All smiles after my great news!

Yesterday, I spent 40 minutes with my dentist who checked the top, front and back surfaces of every single tooth.  He did the “percussion test” when he taps on the teeth to check for any sensitivity.  Then he announced, “There is nothing wrong with your teeth.  Nada.  I can’t believe it.  They have repaired themselves.”

“Don’t you want to x-ray them?” I asked.

“I don’t need to.  You aren’t showing any signs of damage.  When you come back for your regular check-up, we can x-ray then.”

I could not believe it.  We – my husband and I – were certain that there was long-term dental damage.  The oral surgeon was right.  “Teeth have a way of repairing themselves.”  I am still shocked that he was right; I am completely fine.  The feelings that I had when I left the office were overwhelming – happiness, gratitude, relief.  I don’t tend to be an emotional person but I almost wanted to cry.  Almost.

When I left the dentist, I left my fear of the unknown behind me.  The accident is now a thing of the past, a memory, an experience, a challenge that probably made me a little bit stronger.  And now, as I head into a new school year, I can truly look forward to what lies ahead.

 

 

Running Like A Kenyan

run over obstaclesThis week, I faced what was probably the biggest challenge of my marathon training of the summer: finding time for the long run.  My schedule was busy enough with a few overnight shoots while prepping for back to school and keeping the boys busy in the second last week of summer.   Throwing marathon training into the mix was simply another test in creativity and time management.

LVA training run Oakville half
Members from Lions Valley Athletics about to coach runners training for the Oakville Half-Marathon.

Yesterday, my run club, Lions Valley Athletics, volunteered to organize a training run over all or part of the Oakville Half-Marathon course for participants.  It was a win-win for so many.  Runners had an opportunity to run the course, we collected donations for the Oakville-Milton Humane Society, and Lions Valley Athletics had the opportunity to give back to the running community.    While I wanted to focus on my own training – to run long on my own – it was a great opportunity for me  support other runners in their personal goals.  So I ran 18K on my own and finished at Coronation Park, where the group met.  After that, I ran another 17K with them, finishing the day’s mileage with 35K.

I was thrilled with hitting that distance (which equates to 22 miles).  It wasn’t just reaching it, though, that was important; it was what I learned along the way.  Since the training run was with new runners, the pace was slower than what I normally train at.  Knowing this, I made sure that my earlier run was at my marathon pace so that I could run like a Kenyan with the others.  You see, Kenyans run really slowly on their easy days so that their bodies can recover from the speed workouts and hard running that they do on others.  This is something that I’m not good at: mixing up the paces.  Coach Kevin and my friends often tease me about being a metronome because I tend to lock into a pace and hold it; the problem is I run that pace through the warm-up, workout and cool down.  Yesterday, I learned to slow my pace down.  I had to because that is what the other runners needed.  I learned how to “run like a Kenyan.”

Now I finally understand how much of a difference in variety of paces – from a marathon pace to an easier cool down pace – makes in how I feel the next day.  Today, my legs feel fresh.  I’m pleasantly tired, but I couldn’t wait to head out for an easy run this morning.   And the best part?  My feet don’t hurt – at all.

Yesterday, the ladies we coached through the route left feeling that they had a good run and are ready for their half-marathon in a few weeks.  Me, I left with a better understanding of pacing, the success of the longest run yet in my marathon cycle and satisfaction of supporting other runners.  It was truly a win-win.