Run as fast as you can: Ekiden recap

On the longest day of the year, Toronto runners meet up on Leslie Spit for a relay race.

A very, very, very fast relay race.

Last year, when I agreed to do it, I had no idea what I was getting into. “Those running the 10k need to be fast,” I was told. But fast is relative. In my run crew, I am not fast, but not slow. So I said I’d do it.

Then a teammate looked up last year’s times.

Oh shit.

When we showed up, it was a who’s who of the fastest runners in the city. There was an Olympian. But we did our best, didn’t come last and team #notlast was born.

I said yes this year, hoping for an easier assignment. Then they changed the format.

Teams of 6 running mile repeats, 4 times over. So I’d  have to run like hell. Repeat. Run like hell. Repeat.

I was nervous. I had just raced the Waterfront 10k. I did my second-ever post-injury speedwork on Tuesday. I didn’t tell my coach about this. I didn’t know how my body would react.

But I got out there and ran like hell.  I felt OK. I was tired and got lapped by almost everyone. But I didn’t come last. My body held up. It was hard, I was tired. I got slower with every repeat. But I did it.

I need to work on getting out of my head. Laying it on the line, and seeing what happens.

What’s the worst that could happen? I slow down? I come last? I DNF? It’s happened before. It’s not the end of the world.

This is supposed to be fun. I’m the one making it work.

And, despite how intimidating and hard Ekiden was, I had fun. So let’s keep having fun.

A very good place to start: Toronto Waterfront 10K recap

Photo credit: Tribe Fitness

I had no idea what to expect heading into this race. My coach told me to run it hard so we had a base for training paces. But after doing no speedwork in like 8 months and only running regularly the past few, what is hard? What was I capable of? I mentioned sub 55:00 on the phone to my coach and she was coy, in a way that made me think I could definitely go faster. But was sub 50 possible? It didn’t seem so.

I decided to go for the impossible. The guy who ran my last marathon training clinic once said— after I said there was no way I could run a 1:45 half-marathon — “What’s the worst that could happen? You DON’T run 1:45? Who cares?” I try to remember that every time I set a scary goal. Running, as important as it is to me, is meaningless. I am the only person who is going to care what those numbers are.

A couple other runners also wanted to go sub 50, so my plan was to stick with them until I blew up. I was nervous, but also in the back of my mind started to believe sub 50 was doable.

We all went out too fast.

Race excitement, a downhill start, a crowd surge — it pushed us all forward.

I immediately fell behind my friends, but had them within sight.

4:51.

No need to catch up.

4:51.

Whoa, consistent splits?

I CAN do this.

4:56.

Still on pace for sub 50.

458.

Slowing down is bad.

Then it got hot. And I got hungry.

5:07.

Fine.

I need water. I walk through the water station.

5:25.

Damn it, pick it up.

5:02.

Ugh, not enough.

I’m still hungry.

Oh more water, thank god.

5:33.

Two km left, get up this hill.

5:17.

If you run like hell… maybe? Probably not, but 50:XX would be great.

So I ran like hell.

4:51.

51:06.

I could have pushed harder. I could have been smarter. I could have stayed more positive. But 51:06 after almost 8 months of being on the injury/comeback train is a good place to start.

Round and round and round I go

Tuesday was a rest day. I only did my foot PT exercises. Yet by the end of the day, my hip flexor HURT.

Was it how I sat? The shoes I wore? How I bike? I have no idea.

It’s now Wednesday morning and it still hurts.

This is the downside of injury. Pre-injury, I would have just shook it off. Now, I’m worried it’s something more, a step back, a sign I’ll need to take weeks and weeks of running again. And it leaves me unsure about what to do today. Do I do my scheduled run? Scheduled gym session? It’s impossible to know what makes things better, what won’t matter and what makes things worse.

I’m about to run. 5k easy + strides. I guess we’ll see.

I’m in my room, it’s a typical Tuesday…

It’s Tuesday morning. Apologies Taylor Swift.

I thought about going to yoga this morning, but didn’t. I was wiped from my gym session last night and yoga was not on the schedule today, and I’m trying to respect my coach’s plan and follow it. I definitely move stuff around way too much, but life. I also usually do more than she tells me to do, which is a bad habit and is going to lead to burn out.

My hip’s feeling all right these days. Like 90%? After months and months of it being broken, I’ll take it.

I have a list of 10 things I try to accomplish every day:

  • PT exercises: foot
  • PT exercises: hip
  • Wake up before 7
  • Spend $0
  • Eat vegan
  • Meditate
  • Read
  • Don’t drink any alcohol
  • Take my vitamins
  • Do core work

I feel that if I accomplish them all, I will have a good day.

I have never accomplished all of them on the same day.

Yesterday, though, I only missed two (spending $0 and reading). Reading is one I usually get every day. So if I keep this monastic life up, maybe I’ll hit all of them one day soon.

It’s gonna be me

It’s May. May 7. The first week of this month kicked my ass, but for no real reason. I just had a lot going on and, as a result, struggled with food (ate poorly), drinking (drank too much) and getting in all my fitness (got all my cardio sessions in, but missed a yoga session and a couple strength sessions.) Now I’m beating myself up over it.

I shouldn’t do that, though. I should instead be focusing on the opportunities this provides. I have time this week to focus on planning and prepping food. I don’t have any events this week that I feel I’ll need alcohol to enjoy/get through (which is another issue entirely, but let’s park that for another day.) Work should be a-OK this week, so I can focus on food, fitness and rest.

So let’s do that, eh?

I also want to write more. I say that every time I pop in here to write a blog post. But I struggle with putting my life on the internet. Does it compromise my work? My relationships? My mental health? I go back and forth on all these quite a bit. And it always comes down to this: I have no idea. But I do know I need to a creative outlet. We all do.

So let’s see if I can put aside my anxieties and actually put things on the internet again.

It’s been a long time coming, but now it’s here

The first third of the year is over.

My worst third.

I mean that only in that it’s the busiest, most stressful third. Work takes priority over pretty much everything, including my comeback. I feel like I was making progress, but then I got sick, then I had the busiest work week of my year and now I am back at ground zero.

That’s okay though. Because to climb a mountain you gotta start at the bottom.

My hip is okay. My glutes are okay. Apparently my back is fucked and that’s what causes all my other problems. So going to work on that now.

Running hasn’t been fun. It’s been slow and heavy. My legs feel like lead. Things hurt. But I’m running. That’s what matters. I’ll get to where I’m going eventually.

I write so much in my fitness journal for my coach that I don’t know what this blog is for or why I’m even typing this after months of not logging in at all. But the writing itch is back. And I have time to scratch it now. So I might as well and see where it goes.

Wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser and I’m older

I’m trying to become a breakfast person.

It’s hard. I just ate some fruit + oatmeal and I feel gross. Nauseous. Really full. Years of skipping breakfast until like 10am or 11am is doing a number on this early AM feast. (I didn’t even eat that much, like a cup of oatmeal and a handful of fruit. But I ate it at 7:30am.)

But they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They say eating breakfast will curb my hunger later. They sat eating breakfast will give me more energy. Will make me healthier.

So I’m trying. It’s hard to find the time. For years, my morning priorities have been sleep > fitness > food. I’m trying to shift that to: sleep + fitness + food.

Change is hard.

But so is becoming a better runner, and a better person. And if eating breakfast will help that, then so be it.

Now when did you last let your heart decide?

A year ago this week, I did the Dopey challenge in Disney World with my sister and my friend Julie.

4 races over 4 days. 48.6 miles in total.

It was to be my second Disney race experience, having done the Princess half in 2016, to celebrate Jill’s 30th birthday.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I walked away with one of the most important lessons I could have received.

Running should be fun.

Imagine that?

Yes, you should work hard and go after big dreams. Disney is all about dreams, after all. But you need to find enjoyment in the experience, in the moment. Why else do something so difficult and time consuming? You need to love it.

I hope to carry this lesson through with me into the next phase of my running career: the phase where I go all in on Boston.

Every year’s a souvenir that slowly fades away

For the past couple years, I’ve had a “word of the year.” a guiding phrase to remind myself of my intentions, what I need to work on.

2016 was FOCUS. 2017 was LOVE. I can’t remember what 2015 was.

I really struggled to come up with a word that worked for 2018.

I wanted it to be positive. I wants it to guide my marathon training, but also be relevant to the rest of my life.

I recently read How Bad Do You Want It and Boston Bound. A common theme in both these books was that the best athletes are not outcome focused. They are process-focused. Present. Engaged in the activity they are doing at the moment.

And so, reluctantly, I think my guiding work for 2018 will be PRESENT. I recently started meditating (which I have mixed feelings about). I also struggle with runaway thoughts, stress, worry. Being present will remind me to chill out in everyday situations. It will also remind me to think about, and appreciate, the workout/moment/situation I am in.

I also like the second level of meaning: how I present myself to the world. Am I positive? Engaged? Grateful? Am I treating myself with respect? Others with respect?

I’m not sold, but I think it works. Sometimes these things are epiphanies. Sometimes you just pick something and make it work. And that’s life.

You’ve heard about me, I’ve got some big enemies

There are two things I need to work on during this period of injury.

Sleep.

And food.

I’m a shitty sleeper. It takes hours for me to fall asleep. I wake up at any noise whatsoever. I set my alarm ambitiously early, feel like garbage when it goes off and usually – especially in the dead of winter – turn it off, roll over, and go back to sleep. I need to figure out what it takes for me to fall asleep sooner, sleep deeper, and get up when that alarm goes off in the AM so I can crush my goals. It was easier when I had an AM fitness class with a teacher who knew me and called me out when I skipped. Right now, my schedule is pretty light so I’m jut pushing my workouts to the evening. At least they are getting done. But soon my evenings will be full and this won’t be possible.

I’m not a terrible eater, but I don’t prioritize it or plan it well. So I eat healthy, but not enough, then end up starving at 8pm with literally nothing in my fridge. I’ve gotten into the swing of lunch prep, but one busy weekend and that’s out the window. I need to work on 1) planning everything I eat for an entire week and 2) prioritizing meal prep even when I’m busy/tired/don’t want to do it.

These aren’t hard, fast GOALS, you know? Rather things I’ve noticed and will make an effort to improve, but won’t beat myself up over them if I have a setback or slip-up. There are so many big goals, and big changes, you can take on at once.