Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The race I wasn't meant to run afterall

It's been 5 days and slowly my small family is getting back into our new routine. I still look back at last week and shake my head in disbelief that so many things could go wrong at one time but the fact remains that they did and now we're moving on.

For the first time ever I had a whole week of vacation leading up to a big race. Then a quick visit to the dentist to check out an odd white spot in my daughter's mouth sidelined our travel plans for a few days so the new found "shark" tooth could be moved into its correct position. We all tried to make the best of it; we hung out around the house, went to the beach and took our time packing for our big camping trip on my husband's family camping spot in Cape Breton. I did one last training run with our dog Spencer and finally on Thursday morning we were ready to go.

The trip up was great, it even seemed faster than usual (for once). We arrived at the camping spot and setup our trailer then played a game of soccer-my daughter and I against my husband and our dog (girls vs boys). We had a great time, running and playing and enjoying a truly ideal day. If I only knew what was to come.

The next day (the day before the Lou52 race) we all got up and watched my SIL take the latest litter of pups to their new owner and tried to cheer up my niece and nephew. My FIL suggested we check out the race course which would help get the kids minds off of missing the puppies and help out my support crew coordinate for the next day. Each of the families had their own dogs on the camping spot so each dog was put into their owner's trailer. Doors shut, we headed out on what turned out to be a 4 hour tour. I was surprised it took so long but as we drove back I felt that we all had a really good handle on where and when to meet up with each other the next day. I was planning what I should do when we got back to the trailer to prepare when I saw a blond figure lying on the ground by the driveway leading to the camping spot. As we got closer I saw it was my family's dog and knowing our dog (and that he would NEVER just be lying on the driveway like that) I knew the worst had happened while we were out. He somehow got the latch open on the door and had been killed on the highway below. My husband and his father took care of the body while I tried to comfort our daughter inside our trailer as we both sat in shock and disbelief. The skies had opened up at that point and it was raining hard, almost as hard as we wept.

A few hours later my husband asked about the race. I told him I didn't know what to do. But as the hours passed I knew my heart wasn't in it anymore. I felt incredibly guilty for leaving Spencer, for not taking him with us on the route scout and for putting us all in this place and position in the first place. It was a horrible accident. The next morning I laid in bed with an hour to go before we were to head out to the race. Spencer usually slept with me on these camping trips and I missed my little snuggle buddy and my running partner.Tears streamed down my face and I knew my heart wasn't ready for this, that when things got tough out on the course I just wouldn't have the reserves to keep going. I crawled into the bunk with my husband and told him I just wanted to go home. He said he did too. So, just like that the decision was made and we packed up, said goodbye to my husband's family and headed home. The vacation was officially over.

I haven't had it in me to run just yet. As we arrived home I saw all the spots that Spencer would love to stop/run at when we were our on our training runs. The bush of flowers he always insisted on running underneath, the big bunches of grass and hay at the village corner he would crash into as we passed, it is still all a bit much. I unpacked and did what seemed like 100 loads of laundry, then saw my race pack from the Lou52 and tucked it away. I still feel guilty that it was the race that led us to make the choices that led to the accident. Maybe in a few weeks I can open it and enjoy some of the really nice kit perks that were included. But not now. As much of a pain as he could be on our runs Spencer was still my buddy, my companion, my friend. RIP Spencer. I miss you little buddy.

RIP Spencer (2012-2013)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Do you do a birthday run?

Okay, so this past weekend was my birthday (yay). I had my day all planned out; sleep in as long as possible with a 6 year old and a dog in the house, go for a long run, come home to prepared bacon and eggs (thanks of course to my wonderful hubby), open gifts, then off to a movie and dinner with my mom, daughter and husband. There. My dilemma? It was also National Lazy day. Ugh. Could there not be a more perfect storm of motivation not to run (birthday + national lazy day = run?) So I compromised. I still ran-a solid 13km-but it was no where close to the 3 - 4 hour long run I should have put in. I still feel like I earned those eggs and bacon though ;-) While I was on my run I thought about what other runners do on their birthdays. Alot of runners I know (online) celebrate their birthday by matching their age with the distance they run on that day. 35 probably would have been around what I should have run but....IT WAS NATIONAL LAZY DAY! Other runners take the day off to celebrate, knowing the roads/trails will still be there the next day. And I'm sure there are other type-A runners who simply stick to the training plan de jour and run whatever is scheduled. I came to the conclusion (as I tried to rein in my overly excited pup) that you should simply run whatever makes you happy-whatever distance or time make you-the birthday person-the happiest. It's your day, so shouldn't that be the point? So I did my run and didn't sweat the extended walk breaks I took and picked a route that gave me a scenic view, although neither jived with my training plan.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hot Weather Running Tips

Since I've spent the summer training for an ultra marathon I think I've amassed enough tried and true tips for running in hot weather. My first tip is, of course, try to avoid running in really hot weather (run in the early morning, on an indoor track or in the evening if possible). But when all else fails or you are actually trying to acclimate to the heat then maybe some of the following tips will help make your run a bit more enjoyable:

  • Keep your run to under an hour (if possible), or break it up over the course of the day into smaller chunks. This gives the sun less time to cause heat exhaustion, sun stroke or severe sun burns.
  • Wear Sunscreen. Always. Even if its a bit cloudy. Make sure you wear the "sport" or "water proof" sunscreen as any other kind will be quickly wiped away once you start to sweat.
  • Bring water with you, if you are running for an hour or less. Bring an electrolyte drink if you plan to be out for more than an hour ( a general rule). This replenishes the salt you've lost during the extended run. If you hate to take hydration with you on a run, make sure you take some change to buy some from a gas station or corner store en route. I'll usually bring both; hydration and some change-just in case.
  • Wear (or bring) some form of ID with you. Not just because its hot out-you never know what may happen out on the road so just in case you are too exhausted to remember your name this will give someone a helping hand to help YOU out.
  • Dress as if it is 5 degrees hotter than it actually is. Trust me, you'll warm up.
  • Wear a hat, a visor or something on your head. Not only does it provide sun protection but dipping it in a cold stream of water feels really nice on a hot day.
  • Do a "systems check" every half hour. How's your breathing-is it labored more than usual? How do your legs and arms feel?-are they dragging like weights or still peppy? Are you thirsty or hungry? etc. If anything doesn't pass the check consider cutting your run a bit short to avoid injury that may cost you more time down the road.
  • Run slower. By about a minute per mile-depending of course on how heat acclimatized you may already be. If you really need to get that speed session in, go to an indoor track or run on a treadmill. Speed sessions can be pretty dangerous during very hot days as you are constantly elevating your heart rate. Combine that with heat stress and you might put your heart in a bad position.
  • Find a shady path...no don't run into the "shady" part of town, try and find a tree-lined path or road to run on. I find in the city there is usually one side of the street that gets more shade than another.
  • If you have to run hills try and run the uphill portion early on in your run. You are less mentally tired, less heat exhausted, it works better for your whole body.
Happy hot weather running!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Blog Symposium Post! Is there too much emphasis in the (trail-running) media on ultra distances?

This month's question got me thinking: Is there too much emphasis in the (trail-running) media on ultra distances?

My short, quick answer is "Yes, but of course there is." I think the media likes to put emphasis on the ultra-distances because they have the elements of what a good news story should have; an interesting narrative, in overcoming personal or technical obstacles, unforeseen circumstances (blisters, a fall, weather), maybe a personal revelation and a mighty victory over all hardships at the end. Who doesn't want to read about that?

But, in reality, the emphasis on the ultra-distance can take the spotlight away from just as spectacular shorter distance races. Unless the race is for the world championship, anything under 26 miles doesn't get the same attention as those who go really really long and hard. Personally I've found the same elements that can make an awesome ultra-distance media story can be found (in smaller amounts) in the shorter distances. Sheesh, take my last 13km trail race through the mountains of Wentworth. Plenty of hardship, overcoming adversity, laughs and life lessons taught there, and all in 2.5 hours (!) but there's something about people pushing those extreme boundaries that captivates an audience and thus garners more attention.