Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Scenic Oval

I picked a good year to take a break from the indoor torture oval and do my speed work in the great outdoors.  Except for last week when the temps dipped to -30 and several windchill days in the -40s I have been able to have some decent workouts.

There is a beautiful neighborhood just over a mile from my home which is actually set up perfectly for a runner nerd like myself.  Its an oval of gorgeous old houses that wind around a river and its  3/4 of a mile loop.  You can imagine the laps you can do around this place with everything from mile repeats to 1200s to 400s and every variation. Its a running geeks dream.  Traffic is fairly low and footing not bad.

The other good thing about this little loop is its near an emergency care establishment which also means washrooms, and water.  You can also add or subtract this loop from your long run depending on how much mileage you need.  Its cool and shady in the summer and a lovely part of the Manitoba Marathon route.

As I did my speed work tonight I was still able to enjoy the lingering Christmas lights on houses, lit up living rooms looking cozy (looking forward to my own homeward bound cool down to my cozy home) the odd person going to the historic library building. Sure beats dodging a zillion teenage speedsters, various large objects being carried across the track and the odd stray soccer ball or gymnast that comes flying at you in the Max Bell building.

I only wish my lazy Florida cat would see the benefit of the fresh air and take a step outside once in awhile.  While I come home all in a good mood and refreshed I am met with an icy stare of when will the grass be green and the birds out.

So far its been a pretty darn good winter for us Winnipeg runners and for marathon training for Manitoba!

Posted by cathy in 23:36:43 | Permalink | Comments Off

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Patella Femoral Syndrome

The second last hill workout in November I started to feel a familiar pain yet in an unfamiliar spot on the knee.  With many things I hope they will just go away or fade into the background.  I don’t do this with my health or injuries as I know the longer you wait the worse it can be and the longer the recovery. Something I don’t want.

I dug through my familiar diagrams of knees, scrolled through this blog since most running injuries are reaccuring.  I went to the next hill workout even though I knew it was the wrong thing to do given my 10 mile run on the previous weekend was painful from the start. A stupid thing to do and I know better and am smarter than that.  One of the running club members is a physiotherapist and she thought it could be bursitis.  Perfect, yes, makes sense, had this before however I should get another opinion before embarking on any kind of treatment.  Unfortunatly my “usual guy” is on sabitcal so I saw his replacement. Not that impress but what I was impressed with was the student in her 4th year that does the initial history diagnosis and then the “real” therapist comes to check her work.  This student was very detailed and my luck a runner as well..although when she asked if I acutally did the full marathons vs the half when I said I was a marathoner I started to loose confidence.  Verdict was patella femoral pain syndrome..which I have had before due to muscle imbalance.  Since the last time I encountered this I was sure to include quad work into my ever expanding routine to keep my body healthy to endure the mileage I expect of it.  This time it was due to my knee cap basically not moving at all. The fibers beneath were so tight and they are not like muscles that can be stretched. She wiggled them around, put heat on them. Another thing I can blame on my parents, its herditary.

I went home and looked up every excercise for this issue. Went for one more treatment session but basically all I wanted was the diagnosis. I can save my money and look up what I need to do and do it.  They really didn’t offer much in the way of excercises to do so had I not been motivated to fix this issue things would have continued to grind away in the groove eventually causing a bigger problem.

After 9 days of an hour to 90 mins of a knee routine I could walk without pain.  I tested a run and felt pretty good.  Careful not to over do it I kept my runs short and 3 days a week.  I ran 10 miles today, as slow as it was I felt pretty good.

This felt like a new little success. I treated the boring excercises as my new routine I needed to do, just like one needs to put in many miles to run a marathon, this was all part of the big plan.  To see results so quick was amazing.

In those weeks I didn’t run I missed the fresh air dearly, as much as I curse the too fresh air of minus something stupid I still love being out doors and the tiredness it brings. Something you can’t get from a gym, a treadmill, which I never understood.

Although I have to stay away from hills for a bit and my short runs are followed by an hour of knee stuff causing my dinner time to be now 9pm I am back on the marathon pain train schedule!

Posted by cathy in 21:44:16 | Permalink | Comments Off

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Female Road Runner of the Year?!

This past weekend I attended the Athletics Manitoba awards brunch with a number of my fellow runners, friends teamates.  AM awards those in the Timex Road Race Series, as well as the youngster speedster track and cross country stars.  I knew I had won my age group for the series as did two of my close girlfriends in their respective age groups because the points are calculated after each race.  What I did not know, and was in complete shock, and didn’t even hear my name being called for female road runner of the year.

I felt embarrassed, not worthy of such distinction.  In fact on a marathon road trip to Minneapolis the beginning of October a few of us discussed this award.  I piped up with Dale Kirk’s name for the men because he had a fabulous season, won many races and also ran all 10 of the races, plus he is just an all around nice guy and a diplomat to the sport.  For females I said that no one really stood out this year. There is always new people that come out, us old people always there and none of us felt like we did anything fabulous.

As I sheepishly went up to accept this I shook Dale’s hand who was also called up and said “you are so much more deserving of this than me!”  Its not that I am shy or not sure of myself and abilities  but my year was not spectacular. I purposely backed off this year. My times had been consistent and not as horrible as I once thought looking back over past races and I did all but one of the timex races but still!..It was a non marathon year for me, not that it makes me a failure.  As I went back to my table a fellow named Bill who is Gwen’s (another fabulous runner) other half who volunteers at so many races turned to me and said “I am so happy you won this, you are so deserving, when I volunteer and see you run by,  people around me comment how inspiring you are to others.”  I thanked him and felt warm inside.  Sure I volunteer at races I don’t do because I enjoy cheering people on while I rest..knowing the pain they are in.  When someone asks me about my training I get excited for them, sometimes I need this to motivate myself.  I like to give back because I learned so much from everyone I have run with. 

I was feeling focused after my rest in October and this just gave me another little boost!  I only hope this knee pain that I am encountering during hill work subsides soon because I love the hills and I am hungry for Twin Cities!

Posted by cathy in 12:33:30 | Permalink | Comments Off

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To MaxBell or Not

Well after a two week hiatus from running, a light dusting of snow on the ground and a shiver in the air I am actually revived and ready to work hard.

Roadkill started back at the hill last week. I was easy on myself..did 7 instead of the 6 hill repeats I was instructed to do, however I did them at a moderate pace, lagging behind the new younger members. There was alot of competition in the air amongst the new members, us old fossils let them fill their boots. However tonight I notice a few of the newbies were a no show, the faster ones from last week had less of a margin ahead of me, endurance prevails.

I probably ran too far on Saturday for my long run, jumping from 6 miles to 10 and paid the price with a staggering joggle type stride up my street but thats okay.

We are being ousted from our indoor speed training oval this winter. A combination of University of Manitoba, Athletics Manitoba and the ever hating politics that get involved in the sport. The cost will significantly increase, the core members, myself included are worn down from the back and forth trying to come to an agreement and in reality I may not be doing any 5K races early in the season or the long list of Timex Races anyway..so my need for speed will not be until March when I can be doing it outside for free.

One member has been diligently working towards a night that would work and dividing the cost so that it works out to 8.00 a session if you can make every one of them. I toyed with the idea of flipping my workouts around to accomodate the new speed training night of Wednesday. This is not a big deal however I feel more of a pull to longer miles, a deeper base and when things get ugly outdoors I can pay my money on a weekend and get a good strong 13 miler in..when I feel the need to wear shorts in Janauary or February.

The verdict remains to be seen if there is enough interest as we need 20 to 30 members to make a commitment to have the cost affordable. I put my two cents in and said I was going to opt out for this one year however if it comes down to needing one more person to make it work I would certainly step up to the plate so that those could enjoy all the pain that I did for 9 years :) A few other veterans are thinking the same way. Andrea and my long run pal Kathy are feeling also like they need a break.

Max Bell Center will go on without me, right now I am intrigued with the hill and wonder how bad the wind chill will be there in January!

Posted by cathy in 22:10:25 | Permalink | Comments Off

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Funny how it has taken a little walk, well several of 4 to 6 miles to awaken my love for running.  You see, I have taken a self imposed ban from running for a couple of weeks.  Its a combination of an okay but lack lustre running season, little niggling injuries and lost passion for the sport that has j0lted me into the reality of “I NEED A BREAK”.  However its my walk today that had me thinking like the old days when I loved running.  The drifting off of the mind into feelings of what a good life I have of family, friends, work, fun which eventually drifts into what marathon will I run next, the plan of attack for training, what I will do different.  I have not felt that feeling while running in a long time. Its been more of “make it stop” “when will this race, run, be over”  “I feel like I am banging my head against a wall”

Just like I have neglected this blog I have neglected myself.  This year was to be an off year anyway. I was to be married, move to a different home. I am smart enough to know that these are major events in ones life and not to take lightly even though they are positive events.  One should not also take on marathon training.  I went through the year doing the races, training but then the weight hit my shoulders.  I could barely run 4 miles without feeling exhausted.  I think back to another major change in my life and was also training for a marathon. (The year I moved back to Canada from Florida and was trying to undertake the Long Beach Marathon)  The combination did not work.  Things did not go as planned. I called the wedding off because things were not as they seemed.  I was bombarded with opionions, negative prespectives when all I wanted to do was live one day at a time.  Two moves took place in a short amount of time. Not only were they physically exhausting but mentally.  Just as I have done before, I continued to run to keep some normalcy in my life.

I am enjoying some time off from the regimented training schedule. Shocking my body with different drills, yoga, fast walks. I don’t feel guilty or that I am cheating running because I am already hungry for a PR marathon that I did not get in Chicago in 2010.  I will finish 2011 off with some new skills, new drills a new plan and a goal.

I will always be a marathon girl. Hear me roar in 2012.


Posted by cathy in 23:21:12 | Permalink | Comments Off

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Burned In

Running is burned in my psyche.  No matter how much I curse it, try to walk away there it is.

After a strong racing season, solid training for Chicago Marathon, 10 10 10 I  appeared on the dreaded injury list. Sept 12 I ran my fastest 10 mile ever at 1:17…but then limped away, limped for days. Then my main focus was getting this figured out so I could salvage all my hard work I put in for the marathon.  $280.00 later I was much better.

My new injury which actually stems from old ones of course, was a tight peroneus longus muscle that ends at the bottom of your foot, thus the excuriating pain every step I made. I asked the athletic therapist if this was a common problem. He said yes among runners but for you its orginating from your right partially frozen shoulder. I knew there was something wrong with my shoulder…for over a year but hey, I didn’t run with it so didn’t worry about it and accepted the pain and uncomfortable feeling when I tried to put my coat on.  I was so grateful to have a diagnosis. After only a couple of weeks of riding my bike I was ready to scream because I couldn’t get that same endorphin rush unless I spent 5 hours out there and at that time it had turned cold. The ease of running I had taken for granted. Eat too much, no problem because I would be out the next day running it off. Suddenly because I couldn’t run I wanted to.  Felt like a 4 year old all over again. Give me back my running!

I missed almost 4 weeks of training before the marathon. People filled me with confidence with their stories of injuries before a marathon only to have run their best time after all the rest and their years of running..  I waivered back and forth between probably not being able to start given the pain with each step, to gradually getting better and checking out the “exit with dignity” spots on the course just in case, to “to hell with it, I will crawl to the finish if I have to”

Chicago is a fabulous city and I had a fabulous time with friends. The weather was warm to hot. I felt relaxed as I had no expectations and I even forgot at times that I was there to run a marathon. The marathon itself was anticlimatic after a long taper and I felt like I just wanted it done.  I started out slow and caught up with the 3:45 pace group and felt comfortable with them until about 21 miles when my calves started to quiver. I had been dumping water in and on me to keep cool. I certainly felt comfortable, no stomach upset but I was mad at the calves. They weren’t outright cramping yet but as I saw people around me clutching body parts in pain I thought I better slow down a bit to keep that at bay. I watched the 3:45 bunny go ahead, then I watched the 3:50 bunny come by.  The twinges started coming more often sending shock waves through me and I would yelp out at odd times and my leg would do its own thing. Quite comical for those on the sidelines.  I turned to the corner and saw the infamous hill and trudged up it. The end was near. At 3:55 I was happy considering a few weeks ago I thought I wouldn’t even be able to run. The hardest part of the race was climbing over a chain link fence to get into the proper coral because of a bottleneck at the start, and negotiating the friends and family location afterwards as I shuffled to the “W” (does that stand for worn out?) to see my friends.

Usually after a marathon I am ready for more and can’t wait to do it better. This one I remember saying “done, done and more done”. 5K girl here I come. I throughly enjoyed my week off and now back to 4 days a week I have no concern on pace,  mileage and even enjoyed the hill workout last night. For now I just want running to keep me in shape physically and mentally.  There will not be a 2011 marathon for me. After training for 10 and giving it my best shot and 100% I need a break. Perhaps perfecting my 10K or 5K time is my new goal…once I feel like I need a goal again.

Posted by cathy in 10:44:58 | Permalink | Comments Off

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Missed Speed Workout

What on earth would cause me to miss a speed workout session so close to a marathon. Not bad weather, an injury, a man…no a CAT!  Suzi went missing for 48 hours. She had her own agenda exploring a new neighborhood after several short outings. Early Labour Day morning was the last time I saw her. 

I had been basking in the aftermath of Saturday’s solid 22 miles at 8:30 pace thanks to Murray, Brett and Kathy who took turns wearing me out, dragging me along and pacing me.  The morning was gorgeous. The guys were full of energy, Kathy was feeling a tender back and felt uncomfortable but wouldn’t give in. She had 15 miles on her schedule so joined me later in the run but then added 2 miles at the end to keep me on pace. Sunday I allowed myself a non running day and just enjoyed a 6 mile walk with Murray to stretch my legs.  I was feeling my confidence come back. My speed work at the track had been strong. I ran some of my fastest intervals ever including a 6:43 mile amongst a ladder workout.

Monday early in the morning after several in and outs Suzi left Murray’s comfortable home to explore. I thought it would be her usual sit on the mat at the back door and look around even though she had been already climbing the fence and tight rope walking. When she didn’t come home by 9:30am I set out for a run around the neighborhood calling her name, this was followed by several walks around the neighborhood. By Tuesday I was frantic, sad. I needed to do something more useful than running around a track. I didn’t care about the 10 mile race coming up on Sunday, I didn’t even care about the marathon coming up in 4 1/2 weeks, I just wanted my cat back. My little friend for a year in Florida and almost 3 years in Winnipeg.  I made up some flyers with her picture on it, posted them all over the neighborhood, ran up and down the streets like a loon calling her name. Rode the bike  down the  back lanes. Went to the humane society. By Tuesday night I was exhausted and probably like her lacking sleep and food. I felt too sick to eat. The not knowing is what got to me, was she injured, being tortured, held captive in a garage. The bright side was I met alot of nice neighbours and even people that looked rough on the outside softened when I burst into tears showing them the picture. One guy I met was about 18, smoking outside a house and said it was a group home and he would put the picture up for me because there was always people coming and going. I thanked him and felt better inside.

I fell asleep exhausted. Murray was worried for me even though he didn’t know much about cats, he just knew Suzi was important to me therefore she was important to him. At 4:30am there was a strange bang at the back door, and then again. We bolted upright, Murray running to the door as I called out “could that be Suzi”, the next thing I hear him say rather sternly “go see your Mom”  I called out “is that Suzi!”  As if the wrong cat came to the door. There she was in all her purring glory. Safe and sound, smelling a bit outdoorsy, starving. If only we could know where she went.

I felt a weight lifted off my shoulder. She was more important than any old running routine and I probably would have continued my jaunts around the neighborhood with no mileage or pace in mind, just a quick way to get around and find her.

Now that she is grounded its back to training for me and perhaps the “rest’ did me good and I will come out strong on Sunday for this exciting new 10 miler in the city. The route is one of my same old routes and it feels comfortable.

Posted by cathy in 11:28:32 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Solid Racing…But

that self doubt is starting to creep into my brain now that the race is 8 weeks away.

I ran 3 solid races in the last month.  Grand Beach 10k which has the last 3k on the beach. The race times can really vary from year to year depending on the waves and what you have to scamper over. This year there was no step to get up on the little foot bridge that joins East and West beach so we all haulted mid stride, crawled up on the bridge on all fours. My lungs were hanging out of my mouth as I seemed to run in one spot. There was no good footing and I was hit with waves many times. When I finished in 51mins I was happy, A) because it was done and B) it was the fastest time for me yet on that course even when they cancelled the beach section one year because of high waves. So, either I was really out of shape those other years or am having a good year. The other runners also commented that this year seemed to be the worst for footing.

Two weeks later I ran the Hillside Beach Half Marathon. Hilly, warmish but for some reason I like this race.  I had good company with Maureen who is mentally tough, stratigic and suggested with 5 miles to go we pass the girl in front of us that was in my age group. We shared her last gel, became turbo charged and went for it. Finishing in 1:45 was awesome considering the hills. Once again, I know its in me but I often need someone to drag it out of me kicking and screaming.

A week later I ran a PR at the 10miler on the other side of the lake. I didn’t realize it until 2 days later when I looked up my old times.

However since these races my training has been pokey, lethargic. Racing sure takes alot out of you and I just can’t seem to cut myself the slack. Being on holidays for the last 2 weeks I thought I would feel spring loaded and full of energy but instead I felt sloth like, wanting to nap all the time. Perhaps I had Japanese Encephalitis or some other form of sleeping sickness, or maybe I am just middle age now and easing into my new age group with no grace whatsoever.

I took 2 days off and came to the track on Tuesday in search of something. My warm up was fast, my sprints went well and I launched into the 800s at my pre sloth speed. By the time I was into them I clicked them off in 3:14s and left feeling on top of the world. Amazing what a good little workout will do. However today on the hills I was back to the elephant walk and wondered now if I have enough mileage. I had a few weeks of upper 50s and now when I do 35 or so I feel like a major slacker.

Lucky for me I have a new inspiration in my life in the form of  another distance runner. He just completed his first 50 mile trail race. I often worry that he is over training. People tell me that we are a match made in heaven but next to him I feel like a joggler, those ones that strap on the reeboks and trot along with an awkward looking gait. He is inspiring to me. We are both motivated on our own. I can’t even begin to count the  number of running shoes between us, all I know is that we are a great match and there is nothing I don’t like about him because he is eerily like me!

The jury is still out on what the cat thinks of him.

Posted by cathy in 15:53:30 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Between La La and Marathon Pace

Here is it mid July and I am right in the thick of Chicago Marathon training.  All I can say is I’m Lovin’ It!  The warm, slightly humid days agree with me. I have been on schedule of having a 45-50 mile week every 3 weeks. My long runs of an 18, 20 and a 22 have all been at marathon pace with a hold back feeling. My 400s at the track were 1:27s, races have been strong.

I have been doing something a bit different with the tempo runs that seems to be working for me. 100m strides x 8-10 throughout an 8 to 10 mile run. What its supposed to do is increase your overall pace throughout the run, and that it does. By the last half you are flying. Varying my pace throughout runs including my long runs seems to be the key this year for me.

Still, there are the la la la pace runs, recovery runs, those in which I stop to pet the cats laying on the sidewalk lazily, the dogs that come running up to greet me. I notice the gardens, houses, what other runners are wearing. Basically I am not focused on my pace but instead my surroundings. Its a break for my body and my mind from the constant focus in which I engage in when the run has a particular purpose.

I have never felt stronger, more alive and from that it fuels me to push even harder.

Last weekend was the Grand Beach 10k. Felt more like an adventure run this year. The last 3k is always on the beach. This year the waves pounded the shore, there was no clear path to the finish line that didn’t involve scampering around and up sand dunes or getting wacked with a wave. With each step our legs burned as they sunk deeper into the sand. I have expected a rope bridge, a wall and other obstacles associated with marine training. The finish line seemed to never come. It felt like the hardest Grand Beach race I had encountered. I hadn’t raced since the end of May so wondered if I had become soft. When I finished everyone was commenting that it was the toughest one yet, times were easily 5 mins slower for everyone. The 7k mark I was on pace for a PR but I knew the sand was coming and I certainly wasn’t trying for a PR but perhaps it would have happened on pavement. One will never know, well until the fall, the next 10k.

Next Saturday is the Beaches 1/2 marathon, hilly course but fun. Can’t wait.

For now its a rest after my 22 miles this morning at 8:45 pace in the pouring rain. Now I am comfortably numb.

Posted by cathy in 11:00:25 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Speaking of 5Ks

I had been hoping to break my PR set 5 years ago at a race this past weekend. All my races this year have been inching closer. With a 75 min lightening delay,   wine tasting the night before (can recommend several if you like) and an old friend visiting from Florida it was a little from column A and a little from column B. I ran 22:51, 21 seconds faster than last year’s race but slower than my 5K in April.  By the time the race started I was sluggish and now starving. For whatever reason my body burns calories like there is no tomorrow and I run better on a full tank. Luckily one of the Roadkill guys let me steal a corner of some power bar. I should have been more prepared, just like we should always come with mitts and a hat in July to a race, one should always have extra food stashed away like I do in my desk at work.

I ran this 5K like the ones in Florida. All out and try to hang on, only this time I could not hang on. First mile was 7 mins, followed by 7:12, followed by I don’t want to calculate as I trudged up a hill, in both directions, into the wind and so the story goes. The highlight of this race is donated prizes that you can leave on your teamate’s lawns. Last year it was some garden ornament Rusty the Rooster. This year we saw an array of little bears which I was hoping to win to leave on people’s doorsteps as a childish prank (like the ones I like to play) Alas, no draw prizes for me, just a little medal saying I placed 2nd in my age group.

The race season is so top heavy (unlike me) in Winnipeg. There is 5 or 6 in a row followed by a big gap which I use to get some long miles in. The close of the season becomes  bottom heavy (like me) with alot of longer races. We have half marathons coming out our ears and what we need is some shorter ones. My other 10K race run in May was the exact same time as the one in April so by fall I am really hoping to break my PR.

This week will be my first 44 mile week since last year providing I survive my 18 miler on Saturday. What works for me is  18-22 miles every 3 weeks before a marathon. This will give me 5 of those before Chicago Marathon. What I am having problems with is wrenching myself out of the 5 day running week and getting that extra one in on Wednesday giving me only Fridays off. However I am spending more time on stretching, upper body strength, and core work. This has helped me maintain my form even when tired. When I start to feel tired I really make an effort to think of form (being a geek and studying Kenyan running forms on Utube helps) driving the knee forward, relaxed shoulders, proper foot placement.

I recently ordered the Newton neutral trainers. No sissy colour either, they are bright orange. I loved the Newton racers (and loved the colour more, a bright pink) and the trainers are more cushioned but oh so light I feel like I am flying.  You need your own shoe trafficker as they are not available many places. Luckily I have a few friends that work in running stores in South Florida where I can get the goods. One of which came for a visit bringing with her the shoes I ordered.  My first run in them was 13 miles in alot of rain. One thing I noted, they did not get waterlogged as the mesh lets the water flow right out from those raging streams I was finding on Wellington Cres.

Its time for me to get onto the wine wagon and into some big mileage.

Posted by cathy in 21:02:44 | Permalink | Comments Off