Let’s Get This Started – Grand to Grand Ultra

How do you start a 273km run? Just like any other run, one foot in front of the other ūüôā It seemed like forever to arrive at the start line and then suddenly Day 1 was here!

Day 1

what became my corner in the tent

what became my corner in the tent

I think most of us were awake before the 6am music started playing. This was our first night and morning adjusting to sharing a tent with strangers. There was snoring, rustling mattresses, zippers opening for middle of the night bathroom needs, etc. ¬†We were awake, trying to be polite and discrete as we tried to get organized to run almost 50km’s for Day 1.

myself, Lisa and Gary

myself, Lisa and Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jar of Hope - Team Jamesy

Jar of Hope – Team Jamesy

I had arranged to meet up with 2 runners, Lisa and Gary, to see if our pace allowed us to run the day together. There was such an energy at the start line, lots of excitement and nerves. This is where I was first introduced to Jar of Hope and why this team was running. I listened to James share about how he was literally running to save his sons life. I was inspired by his story, in his fight and would later connect with James to get involved.

warming up - first km of Day 1

warming up – first km of Day 1

Back to the start ūüôā ¬†We headed out from a remote location on the north rim of the Grand Canyon (altitude 5344 feet). Before we could think about it,139 runners set out to complete the 49.6kms required for Day 1. Previous Grand to Grand competitors shared that the first day could be brutal: it was flatter, a lot of the same terrain and full on sun, oh and consisted of a cacti minefield! They were not wrong. The temperature was actually not that bad, with a high I believe of 24¬įC, but with no shade to be found it was certainly hot!

cacti1

The cacti were a tad sneaky! I’ve never seen such a variety of cacti before. Some could be avoided but there were some little ones that were difficult to see and if you stepped on them it could go through your shoe. At one point I had one leap out from behind me and attach itself to my leg (or at least that is what it seemed like ūüôā ). It must have been loose on the ground and got kicked up by my foot. Thankfully, it did not really attach and was easily removed.

Canadian Gal Pals

Canadian Gal Pals

There were 24 countries represented with the 139 participants, 11 Canadians. Yvonne and Crystal were fellow Canadian gal pals with whom I had the privilege of connecting with on the course periodically.

 

 

 

There were a variety of challenges on this day, however, heading into camp stands out. We were still dealing with cacti but now there was a barbed wire fence thrown in for what seemed miles. Instinctively, I wanted to grab hold of this fence to help me, to offer some support, this seemed particularly cruel to me! ¬†I was tired, hot, not thinking clearly and now had to remind myself continually to not grab hold of that convenient fence beside me ūüôā

so many times I wanted to grab the fence!

so many times I wanted to grab the fence!

...Don't doubt it, don't doubt it Victory is in your veins...

…Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in your veins…

 

Lisa and I managed to stay with Gary the entire day, until the end, where we ran ahead listening to Katy Perry’s “Rise” on speaker as we crossed the finished line.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2

Remember the cacti? Well arriving into Camp after Day 1 it was obvious that we would be sleeping on top of many cacti! This made me nervous sleeping as I had an air mattress and heard that in previous years some had been punctured. I did not sleep well at all and woke up numerous times afraid to puncture the mattress (even though I had a tarp down to help provide an extra barrier).

Day two: climbed out of Camp 1 and ended up down in Camp 2

Day Two: climbed out of Camp 2 with a big decent to Camp 3

This morning we would spend a good portion climbing. The reality of what we were in for began to set in. I found Day 2 to be extremely hot and hoped my plan for fueling and hydrating was going to work!

These views though!!

These views though!!

2016-09-26_23-31-14_richardsonThe landscape was truly spectacular, like nothing I had ever seen before. Gary and I had decided to stick together for another day and had started to fall in to a bit of a rhythm. We were figuring out our strengths and weaknesses and how to push each other. We started seeing “regulars” at check points and running periodically with other runners who we would pass and then they’d pass us again later on.

2016-09-27_02-40-23_richardson

Day 2 Completed!

Although no one had dropped out on Day 1 (a first for G2G), today 5 competitors had decided to not continue. For all the competitors participating this was not good news, we really did want to see everyone finish.

Resting up, so I can start Day 3

Resting up, so I can start Day 3

Coming up….Day 3 and beyond…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setbacks or Injuries – Do They Hold You Back?

When I’m training for something, I’m all in! ¬†I am dedicated and focused and try my best to follow a plan. ¬†My husband is always amazed at how committed and disciplined I can be. ¬† That’s not to say it’s easy, however I try not to think too much and just do what is scheduled! ūüôā

So when I’m injured, or taking things down a notch to allow for recovery, it’s hard for me. ¬†It’s hard not to be “on” all the time. ¬†I like structure and being focused. ¬†Not being able to run drives me crazy! ¬†I tend to fall back on nutrition, tweaking my “fuel” more and finding new ways to get good nutrition in. ¬†I get on Pinterest more during this time!! (Are we following each other?)

Just before the marathon at the end of October I started getting a pain in my right ankle/arch area.  It became quite evident on marathon day that there was an issue there.  I took the appropriate time for recovery before getting back into my running but the arch pain has  lingered on.

I have a fantastic team around me and trust ¬†them completely! ¬†They have ¬†been working on dealing with the soft tissue damage and I’ve scaled back the running to give time to heal while we figure things out. ¬†In fact, I haven’t ran at all in the past 7 days! ¬†Seriously, 7 days and it’s driving me crazy! ¬†It’s such a minor issue, however being in the foot it is not one that I can ignore. ¬†I am usually a very optimistic person, however, mentally this is a bit of a battle for me. ¬†Having suffered from stress fractures in the past, this is now a new fear of mine, and it can kill confidence!

With such huge goals for 2015 I cannot start my year with this nagging issue going on. ¬†I must get to the bottom of it. ¬† We are 99% sure it is soft-tissue related and can be dealt with, but it’s funny how that 1% can over shadow things.

Today I am getting out for a run. ¬†I will pay close attention to how I’m feeling and report back to my team. ¬†I’m also having a scan that should confirm 100% if it is only the soft-tissue affected.

Throughout my years of running I have  been the one to make decisions about what, when and how I do things.  Choosing to trust others to make the decisions for me when it comes to my training schedule is hard but it is the decision I made when I enlisted their help!

piyoI’m not sitting around doing nothing though ūüôā ¬†I’ve started Basic Training with the TRX to build some core strength, I’m doing PiYo 2-3x/week, and I’m focusing on my diet with an emphasis on avoiding ¬†inflammatory foods and more protein.

More than anything I need to get my head in the game, build my confidence again so I can go into January confident and strong.  Training is as much mental as it is physical.  So I am working hard to trust myself, to trust my body and believe that I will have a very successful running year in 2015!

Have you ever had to overcome fear, disappointment or a lack of confidence related to overcoming past injuries or setbacks?  Would love to hear your experience.

 

Done and Done – No. 2 Completed

The¬†Toronto Marathon¬†did not disappoint!! ¬†What an incredible experience. ¬†Compared to last year’s adventure (read about it here), this race was everything I had hoped for. My goals for 2014 did not include having 2 stress fractures (same time, same foot), wearing a boot for 8 weeks, no running for 12 weeks and therefore not sure if running a second marathon was going to be possible.

If I was to run another one, I hoped to run again in Toronto to see if, with training and the right gear, I could do better. ¬†When I was invited to join the¬†STWM Digital Champions¬†I jumped in and fully committed to doing my best. ¬†This incredible opportunity gave me the extra motivation I needed to train hard and believe for a good race. ¬†My boot came off mid-May (official training started mid June). I did not have a solid base because of the injury and tried to ease back into running. ¬†My injury caused me to miss ¬†Around The Bay, Ottawa Race Weekend and Calgary Marathon. ¬†The boot came off in time to run Calgary, but with no training for the full, I ran the 5K just to experience it. ¬†I even dressed up in an 80’s running costume, something I never do as it’s way out of my comfort zone. But I thought, so what?! Participate, have fun and let loose. ūüôā ¬†What a beautiful way to see the city! I’m hoping to still experience the Calgary Marathon¬†in 2015 – but we’ll see.

So after an adventure filled summer of training runs and races, the day finally arrived for the marathon but so did feelings of doubt and anxiety. ¬†I fell on a trail run just 2 weeks before the marathon which caused a slight injury in my groin. ¬†I couldn’t run for a solid week because of the pain it caused. ¬†I got out for a shake out run a few days before and felt okay but not solid.

Toronto Start 2014My goals the morning of the race were to enjoy it, take more in, and be more aware of the people and my surroundings. ¬†My time goal obviously was to beat last year’s time. ¬†I didn’t know if I could get under 4hr. 45min., as I didn’t feel I was trained up enough. ¬†My, “I’m going to cry, can’t believe I did it goal,” was under 4:30 but I honestly had no expectations of that going in. ¬†The mental battle of self-doubt was strong and I wasn’t even sure I could complete the second half. ¬†I even gave myself permission that if I was in pain at 19K, near the split, I’d make the decision to end the race early and come in for the half-marathon instead.

I had hoped to meet up with the other DCs before the race, but got lost and ended up missing them.  I coincidently bumped in to a few of them near the start corals, said a quick hello, grabbed a quick photo and then we were off to line up.

StartCorals

Christine, myself and Susan

Once in the corals with over 25,000+ other people Susan from my running club – who I had no plans to meet up with – happened to find me! ¬†This, I believe, was no coincidence! ¬†We ended up running the first half together, pacing really well! ¬†I ran my first ever continuous 1/2 marathon and pb’d it. ¬†I had loosely planned on walking at water stations but because I really wasn’t sure how much pain I’d be in due to the injury I was open to do 10/1s or whatever I had to do to get it done. ¬†I hadn’t expected to feel so good. My biggest concerns during the first half was if I was overdoing it, was my pace too fast, should I pull back? ¬†What if I tank for the 2nd half? ¬†BUT Susan and I talked most of the time and I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard. Even when I suggested we pull back a bit, within moments we were back running the same pace, feeling good.

For the 2nd half I decided maybe I should switch to 10/1s to be safe–still concerned that maybe I’d tank after the 32K mark, knowing what was ahead still. ¬†I had seen Laura (also from my running club) earlier and she was focused, had a plan and was doing her 10/1s. ¬†I saw her ahead of me and kept her in my sight. ¬†When she walked, I walked, when she ran, I ran. I did this for awhile (I hadn’t set up my app for 10/1’s so this was just logical to me).

At around the 30K mark I was feeling a lot of pain in my right foot.  My foot pronates inward and I had been transitioning into newer shoes trying to solve my issues. Add the groin injury on the same side and I think I was overcompensating a bit.  I had to push through quite a bit of pain the last 3-4K.  BUT I still felt overall pretty good.  I was smiling at the camera whenever I saw it, I was enjoying the cheering stations and the people along the route and I even took time to pull alongside fellow DC РJP, aka Batman, to introduce myself in person as we had only been connecting online up to this point. JP is doing amazing things to raise awareness and support for Sick Kids Toronto (you can see more here: Batman Runs For Sick Kids Toronto).

There was a moment when a 4:30 was in my reach, but at around 39K I realized I was going to miss that so I allowed myself to ease up a bit as my foot was killing me.  BUT, not too much as I could still come under 4:35.  As we rounded the corner entering the final 500m run to the finish line I was hurting a lot!  I was considering walking it in when I saw two guys ahead of me, and something in me decided I was not coming in behind them.  So I pushed a little bit harder picking up speed for the final 300m passing them both and coming in strong!

When I kicked it up and passed them, the announcer called my name and Christine (pictured above) who had ran the half marathon started yelling my name from up above me somehow….and then it was over. ¬†It was amazing and I knew immediately I would do this race again!

TO Finish 2014

Official Time 4:33:52

Acknowledging the Wins!

Do you set goals?  Are you always looking ahead at what is coming up or do you take time to reflect on where you have come from?

How often do we take the time to just enjoy the moment or take in the day of a particular event or race.

I always have another goal or race coming up. ¬†It’s how I get up the next day and keep going. ¬†There is not a finish in sight for me but just moments and events to check off one at a time.

Having hired a running coach I am no longer “in control” of my running schedule and have submitted myself entirely to his plans and schedule for me. ¬†Part of my fall race plans included the Army Run. ¬†My coach suggested I run it hard. ¬†Now this can be up for debate with people as I’m training for a fall marathon (just 4 weeks away from the Army Half). ¬†Some choose to run it as such, a training run, slow and steady and others will race it. ¬†The difference when it falls into your training and is not your goal race is that you do not taper for it, you just run it. ¬†Tapering allows your body to recover before the race, and of course you’d take time to recover after as well. ¬†Army Run

After being told to race it, I had a time goal in mind.  To beat last years time.  I was short 18 sec. to accomplishing this and a tad disappointed when I realized how close I came.  When sending in my weekly report to my coach, I reflected on my week in review.  I quickly remembered that it was only 4 short months ago that I was removing a cast that I had on for 3 months!  I had come back from a serious stress fracture (including a secondary minor one).  I built my running back up quickly and most importantly I remained injury free!

So in fact, my race really was a victory for me.  I had been training differently, focusing on building strength and using different muscles for only 3 short weeks. I went into the race after a hard training week, including a long run the day before, and I experienced some special challenges the morning of the race, and yet I still came in ONLY 18sec. short of my time last year.

My disappointment very quickly turned around and I was proud of how I ran. ¬†Proud that I have worked hard at correcting my running technique to run more efficiently and injury free and the Army run wasn’t my goal race. ūüôā

Next up is my second marathon in Toronto. ¬†I hope to beat last year’s time, but again I have to celebrate the fact that after an injury I am going to be back running a full marathon and therefore need to be proud of that accomplishment regardless of my time. ¬†Getting a “personal best” is the bonus I hope to experience, however the real win has been the journey of getting to the race. ¬†The countless hours and kilometres that I’ve invested to achieve this goal.

ArmyRun DoneI’ve had an exceptional training season, new friends, new connections, being part of special groups including the opportunity to be a Digital Champion for my goal marathon and being given the incredible opportunity to test out new running gear and become an ambassador for some of the gear I’ve tested out and loved.

So my question to you: ¬†Have you taken a moment to celebrate where you are today? ¬†The personal development or steps that you’ve taken to achieve a goal you have. ¬†Again, it doesn’t have to be running related. ¬†Are you still moving in the direction of the goals you’ve set for yourself? ¬†Are you better today than you were say, even one month ago? ¬†Remember why you are doing what you are doing and celebrate what you have already accomplished.

Keep going. ūüôā

The Forgotten Marathon Bag – Yes, It Really Happened!

When I chose to sign up for my very first marathon I had no idea the challenges that our family were about to face.  I could have chosen to wait and run another time but I had already made the mental commitment to run, I had already psyched myself into doing all that was required to run a marathon.  Running during that time became very therapeutic for me, almost necessary.  It became a place for me to process my thoughts and feelings, by talking it out with a new running friend, or being lost in my own thoughts and feelings on a long run.  I believe training for the marathon saved me in many ways.

So what happened when I discovered every runners worst nightmare and forgot all my gear in another city the eve of my run?

New Running Gear

New Running Gear

Read about it here on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where they posted my experience in their blog.  Honey, I Forgot My Marathon Bag!

Have you ever experienced something like this?

 

The Ups and Downs of Training

Training for the¬†Toronto Marathon¬†officially began June 19th at the Running Room I run with. ¬†I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of runners who have chosen to run Toronto this year. ¬†I’m loosely following the Running Rooms Training Plan but will switch some of my runs on my own to trail running as I’m trying to challenge myself differently this season.

We ran an easy steady run on our first Thursday night together and it felt good.  It was my first time back running with a group since my injury in February and I missed it.  Saturday I was out for another easy 6K on my own and again felt really comfortable.

Before I officially signed up for the marathon, I had the privilege of connecting with Ray Zahab, who is the founder of i2p (impossible2possible)and chat with him about my injury and my goals for this season. ¬†I have been a huge fan of his for years, I recommend these books about his journey: Running To Extremes¬†and¬†Running For My Life: On The Extreme Road with Adventure Runner Ray Zahab. ¬†He was kind enough to connect me to Mike Stanish who runs¬†runeffortlessly.com, a run clinic that teaches proper running technique (as well as raising money for local charities). ¬†I took one of Mike’s clinics and have ¬†since been working at staying relaxed during my runs, it seems to be a little more natural now. ¬†Mike then connected me to Dr. Troy from¬†Holistic Clinic¬†who specializes in helping athletes through torture, ahem, I mean ART (active release therapy) treatments. ¬†He has been helping me with my hip issue. ¬†Dr. Beauchamp and Mat from Sante Chiropractic and Wellness Center¬†are part of my wellness team for massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic care, to help me get to the finish line injury free!

So back to training, on Sunday it was a 10K run with the Running Room and again felt really good.  Feeling rested, lighter on my feet, and encouraged that perhaps I was back from injury and ready to get into the fullness of marathon training again.

I need to learn to bottle that feeling up, as we all know that we will run into bad training days.

Week two proved to be less than stellar. ¬†Easy 6K on Tuesday on my own and it was an okay run. ¬†Wednesday met with the group and we headed out for our 10K Tempo run, which was my first 10K continuous since February. ¬†I believe our temperature was 89% humidity and 25 degrees (not sure the ‘feels like’ temperature). ¬†So it was hot and humid! ¬†I was feeling pretty good the first 7K, even chatted a lot during the run (on a tempo run you should not be able to have a conversation with someone, you should be pushing yourself). ¬†I even thought to myself, this feels good, I’m even able to chat. ¬†AND THEN, I had to stop talking.

happypaceI found it difficult to keep up with the group but kept at it. ¬†I realized I should stop and take a walk break but the others in the group seemed good, so I fought with myself for 0.5km. ¬†I was wearing my new¬†Bondi Band Headband¬†that says “Find Your Happy Pace” and I was telling myself, this is my training, I need to run it smart. ¬†It’s okay to walk if you need to and so on. ¬†I smiled at the thought of my headband and the reality of finding my own pace. ¬†I pulled back and took a needed walk break. ¬†I then proceeded to run my own pace to complete the run. ¬†I was disappointed and filled with doubt about my upcoming races, including the marathon. ¬†I was already in a slower pace group than I was in the winter, in hopes of giving myself a recovery period to train smart and not over do it. ¬†Then I asked myself, what would you say to someone else, and I started to encourage myself with those same words.

On to Thursdays 6K steady run.  I work long hours on Thursdays and need to bring my running gear to work and have a 15min. window to get to the running group.  As I was changing I realized I forgot my socks.  UGH!  This means going home and missing the group talk before the run.  Okay, no big deal, headed home.

Arrived as the group was about to head out. ¬†Again, humid day, high of 28 and lots of sunshine! ¬†We headed out and I intentionally pulled into the back to give myself room and run my own pace with only two others behind me. ¬†I ended up chatting again and it was a decent run. ¬†I turned to say something and missed the uneven sidewalk and for the first time in my life fell hard onto the ground. ¬†I’m not entirely sure how much of my body hit the concrete, but it seemed my shin, my right knee, elbow, shoulder and both hands showed evidence of the fall. ¬†AWESOME. ¬†Of course, the entire group stopped and helped me up and then shouted out “footing” the rest of the way back, LOL! ¬†I stiffened up after getting home but woke up feeling not too bad, the elbow/shoulder and knee sore but doing fine. ¬†So thankful, as the first thing running through my head when I got up to continue running, feeling some throbbing, was am I injured, is it adrenaline that is allowing me to run, fearful of another setback. ¬†Not concerned about much other than will this affect my training? ¬†ūüôā

Isn’t training very much like life? ¬†There are highs and well, there are lows. ¬†I think we need to celebrate both. ¬†The highs build confidence and encourage us, and give us a boost, a place of rest almost. ¬†The lows build character and are a mental challenge that we all need to face and overcome. ¬†One thing I do know, we get up the next day and we do it again. ¬†We commit to the training and we work out the ups and downs on our runs.

When Plans Change

Do you set goals? 

I have to in order to be focussed and disciplined to get workouts in. ¬†I love to run and planning for races helps me stick to a schedule that pushes me past what I might “feel” like doing.

I ran my first marathon¬†in October 2013. ¬†It proved to be a challenging but memorable experience. ¬†I decided the day after that race to run another marathon, Ottawa Race Weekend, kind of as a do over. ¬†It didn’t take me long, but I’ve since realized that there is no need for a do over, but instead it’s a new opportunity to do something great for me!

After signing up for Ottawa’s Marathon, I learned that Calgary was celebrating it’s 50th race weekend and I decided to sign up for it’s marathon as well. ¬†No big deal, right? ¬†Well, it happens to be the week after Ottawa.

I like to push myself and challenge myself to see what I can do, so the training begins.  End of November I starting running with the RR groups half marathon clinic just to keep a decent foundation in my running leading up to the Jan. start of the marathon training.  Ran through the most minus stupid weather throughout the winter months, outside, usually after a snow storm!  Challenge, character building weather, but great fun with great fellow runners.

By mid-February, on yet another snowy long run, my foot was achy…by treating it at home and icing it I continued to run another week or two, until after a 19K run, I realized that something was wrong and I was in too much pain.

Took 3 weeks to get a proper diagnoses, in which a bone scan showed that I had a Calcaneal Stress Fracture (across the body of the heel bone), a minor tibia stress fracture, a bone spur AND minor plantar fasciitis!  I believe this was due to a combination of things, some avoidable, some not.

So suddenly my big marathon back to back plans were in jeopardy!   What now?  Treatment consisted of a boot, for likely 8 weeks up to 12!  I immediately booked the half marathon in Calgary as a back up plan.  Figuring I could at least run the half.  Maybe, possibly run half in both cities instead.

No workouts aloud for the first 4 weeks! ¬†Four weeks later, I’ve been cleared to start swimming and doing some non-impact training, but still in the boot. ¬†Likely not able to even test my foot for another 4 weeks, and even then I need to start with walking!

What about my plans, I can’t run the marathons, that’s a given, but now I can’t possibly do the half marathons without risking injury. ¬†*sigh*

Okay, there are worst things in life, right? ¬†YES! ¬†So how can I experience these great events and continue with my racing goals? ¬†Well, we will volunteer (my daughter and I). ¬†We usually do race kit pick up (we’re kind of pros now LOL). ¬†My daughter and I volunteer for race kit pick up for a number of races every year. ¬†I do it to be involved, she does it for the free shirt, ha!

So we are signed up to volunteer in both cities. ¬†I’m planning on running the 5K (maybe 10k) in Calgary and I’m already preregistered for Calgary Marathon¬†2015!

I plan to run another shorter distance race in the summer, signed up for the  Army Run (half) in September.  Looking at a 5K/half in Nova Scotia for the fall as well AND then will focus on doing Ottawa and Calgary back to back in 2015 (full marathons).

Plans change, we cannot always control what happens to us or around us. ¬†Life happens, I just love to run and love having goals towards to achieve new levels of training for me. ¬†I love the friends that I’m meeting along the way and the shared experiences that I get to have with others. ¬†I love how my family never questions the insane choices I make, but instead they support me all the time and challenge me if I do anything contrary to the goals and plans I’ve set out for myself.

Do you set goals?  What do you do when your plans change?

I’d love to hear your experiences as well ūüôā

Happy RUNNING!