Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Does this injury make my thumb look fat?

Three weeks ago (three!), I hurt my thumb. I was playing hockey and I was in screening the goalie and making a pest of myself (as usual) and a defencewoman from the other team knocked me to the ground, catching me off guard and I guess just the way I was holding my stick resulted in my landing directly on the end of my right thumb and it hurt like a mofo. I mean, I continued playing the game, but I couldn’t really use my thumb. By the next day, it was swollen up quite badly and bruised1 and I thought it might be broken, so I called my doctor, whose office is conveniently a block from my office, who had a look at it and said that we should get it X-rayed as it could be a compression fracture (happily, it wasn’t twisted or bent funny, which would indicate a fracture that might need pins in it). So then I walked a few blocks to the X-ray place and within about 10 minutes I had some X-rays done2. The verdict came back the next day – it wasn’t fractured, so I must have (and I quote my doctor verbatim here) “jammed it real good.”

Anyway, that was three weeks ago (three!) and my thumb still freaking hurts. And it’s swollen:

Injured thumb

As you can see, my right thumb is swollen. This photo was taken today.

Granted, while I took my next hockey game off (on the advice of my doctor), I did play the one after that and the one after that and then the one after that. And then I played five hockey games in three days3 – I had a weekend tournament, a regular season game, and then got called in as a spare for a friend’s team. And in the tournament I happened to get slashed *twice* directly on my thumb! Also, after the game, there seems to always be at least one person in the handshake lineup who won’t take off their glove to shake hands4 and so when I go to shake their hand they end up jamming their hockey glove directly into my thumb and it hurts like a mofo!

In other hockey news, I broke my hockey stick in my game yesterday. I was battling for the puck in the corner and as I was skating away afterwards, I thought my stick felt funny. I looked down and didn’t see anything odd, but after a few more strides it still felt funny and I looked again and heard a weird noise as I lifted my stick to try to look closer and then I saw it flop a bit. Yikes! I immediately dropped my stick – as a player must drop a broken stick because it’s dangerous to skate around with one – and skated to the bench so someone else with a stick could jump on the ice. Fortunately I had brought a spare stick – as I’m a 5 ft tall person who plays left-handed, there’s not likely to be anyone else who has a stick that I can play with – so was able to jump back out on my next shift.

Broken hockey stick

Broken hockey stick

So today I headed out to the Hockey Shop in Surrey5 to buy a new stick. I’ve never bought a stick there before – the last sticks I bought (which were this broken one and an identical one like that – I bought two because they were on sale for half price and my then-back up stick was an old wooden monstrosity) were from Cyclone Taylor in Coquitlam – but I was glad that I did this time because I found out that they have a shooting room in the basement where you can actually test out the stick, which is much better than just flexing it against the ground to see how it flexes (which is what you typically do in a store). The guy in the shop helped me select a few to test out – and also informed me that the stick that I had (as I brought in my spare so that I could get them to cut my stick down to the right size for me) was one that has its flex near the middle, which is more for slapshots. But I don’t really take slapshots6! So he got me one where the flex is near the bottom, which is better for wrist shots and snap shots, which is more what I want to do! I tested out the sticks and the one with the flex near the bottom (which is also a bit lighter) was waaaaay better for me. And so now I’m the proud owner of this Crosby stick:

My new hockey stick

So I’m going to blame my *terrible* statistics for the last few years on my inappropriate stick and I am confident I’ll now be scoring like gangbusters. Playoffs, here I come!

  1. And unbelievably, I forgot to take a picture of it! []
  2. For people who are worried that single payer healthcare systems mean you don’t get to see your doctor and wait lists are years long, I would like to point out that I got a same day appointment and then got an X-ray within 20 minutes of seeing the doctor and that included me walking from my doctor’s office to the X-ray place. I realize that the Canadian healthcare system is not perfect and that this situation worked out so well for me because (a) it’s a pretty routine health problem and (b) I have a family doctor, which many people don’t since we have a shortage of them. But still, no wait time, great care by a doctor that I’ve chosen, and I didn’t have to co-pay or pay for my own X-ray or anything. []
  3. Before anyone goes and makes a comment (*cough* Kalev *cough*) that I shouldn’t play hockey until my thumb is totally healed, we already know that I make poor life choices, so that wasn’t going to happen. []
  4. What is the deal with people who won’t take their glove off to shake hands after the game. Are they seriously worried about the germs on my hand after they have just spent 60 minutes with their hand in a sweaty hockey glove? I hate to break it to you, people who won’t take their glove off to shake hands after the game, your hand is already covered in germs! And if they think that the germs in their smelly hockey glove are at least their own germs and other people’s germs might make them sick, all I have to say is “aren’t you going to wash your hands anyway, since they’ve just been in that smelly hockey glove??” /. []
  5. As per usual, this is an unsolicited mention of a business on my blog. I just like their business and want to give them a shout out! []
  6. so I’m not sure why the person at Cyclone Taylor suggested that stick to me! []

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Hockey

Played my first (and second) game of hockey since my injury! As previously mentioned, my physio told me that once it felt OK to skate *and* it felt OK the next day after I skate, I was allowed to play hockey again. And since I felt OK on Friday after skating on Thursday night, I was approved to play today! My lower division team had a game at 2 pm, so I played that and it went fine – I’m definitely not as strong on my right leg as I’d like to be, but that will take some time and continued strengthening exercises to get to, and I wasn’t able to go as all out as I usually go, but I was actually surprised that I managed to have some jump in my step and didn’t suck wind too hard. My slightly higher division team had a game at 6 pm and since I felt OK after the first game, I stuck around and played that game too1. Game #2 also went well – I even got knocked down at one point and it didn’t hurt my hip (which was something that I worried might hurt). Afterwards, I came home, took some naproxen (an anti-inflammatory), took a long hot shower and did a bunch of stretching. I can feel that my back is definitely a bit tensed up, but that’s pretty typical when I haven’t played in a while – and it’s been three months since I last played!

Anyhoo, I’m going to see how I feel in the morning, but I’m cautiously optimistic that I might actually really be functional again!

  1. I brought some work to the rink with me so I could get work done in between the two games.Wasn’t a long enough break to make it worth going all the way home and then all the way back to the rink, but was long enough to get something to eat and get a bit of work done. []

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Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon

So I ran a half marathon last Sunday. And despite it being my second worst finish time of the 14 half marathons that I have run, it turned out to be the one that required the most perseverance and I am actually proud to have finished, yet a bit mad at myself for even having run it. As I mentioned previously, I was suffering from a gluteus medius issue that was so bad it was causing me to limp and it hurt to run. And nothing I was doing was working – it was like it was too tight to even get it to stretch at all, no matter how much I tried. Then I went out for dinner with my friend Linda and she told me about a physiotherapy treatment called intramuscular stimulation (or dry needling1.). This technique uses acupuncture needles, but instead of poking the needles into things that have never been scientifically demonstrated to exist, they insert them into tight bits of muscle. It seems like the idea is that your muscle is confused and thinks it should be shortened into this tight piece of agony and isn’t getting your message to just chill the fuck out already, so you poke it to sort of reboot the system.

Have you tried turning my muscle off and then turning it back on again?2

I did a (very) quick look at the research literature and, unlike acupuncture which has definitely been shown not be any better than a placebo, there really isn’t much research on IMS to know if it’s effective or not (at least as far as I can tell from my quick look). So I figured that it at least has some biological plausibility and I was desperate, because I knew I couldn’t run the race if something didn’t give. So I decided to try it as a Hail Mary pass.

It’s a very interesting sensation to have someone poke a needle in your muscle. It doesn’t hurt, but it feels… unusual. Also, when I told the physio that I wanted to be able to run a half marathon in 3 days, he decided to do electrical stimulation with the needling. So in addition to stabbing the muscles, he also electrocuted them. That felt in some cases like he was just flicking my leg and at other times it just made the muscles twitch repeatedly. Oh yeah, and a lot more muscles were messed up than just the glut med. The TFL ((a.k.a., Tensor Fascia Latae.)) was solid like a rock (which my massage therapist had also noted) and the quads and hamstrings were too. So he stabbed and electrocuted a whole bunch of parts of all of those muscles.

After the treatment, I could immediately stretch my hip more than before the treatment3 and it continued to loosen up a bit more each day. Could it have been a placebo effect? Entirely possible. Would it have loosened up in those days even if I hadn’t had the IMS. Maybe they would have, been there’s no way to know!

The physiotherapist’s advice was to try a little 1-2 km jog on the Saturday and see if it was loose enough to run. So we made our way to Kelowna on Saturday and then I went for a 2km jog, which I was able to do, but with a shooting pain with every step. It would get a teensy bit better, but if I stopped, say, to catch a Pokémon, when I restarted, it would hurt as much as the start of the run. What to do? What to do? I was of two minds: the one that said “Maybe it just needs a bit more jogging to loosen it up4. If it loosens up as much over tonight as it has the last few days, I’ll be fine. What if that happens and I don’t do the race – I’ll be walking around all fine and then I’ll want to kick myself! I can’t miss another race this year!” And then the other one that said, “What if you injure yourself more by running on this injury? That’s how you got this injury – running on the not fully healed sprained ankle! Do you really want to jeopardize your upcoming trip to Australia? The race fee is a sunk cost!” So Andrew made me an offer – I’d  start the race and if after 5km, I’m still in pain, I could call him and he’d come and pick me up. So that’s what I did.

Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon route 2016

Long story short: my hip was considerably looser the next day and combined with the race day adrenaline, the first 15 km were slower than I’d usually run a race, but faster than I’d expected given the circumstances. My hip didn’t hurt, it was more just uncomfortable. As I passed the 15 km marker, I thought “I’m glad I did this, I’m going to finish much sooner than I thought, maybe I should text Andrew to let him know as he might not go to the finish line in time to see me” and no sooner did I think that than a pain shoot through my hip – pain that would continue to shoot on every step of the remaining 6 km. Every volunteer I passed gave me a look of genuine sympathy and a kind encouraging word that I could do this. As I crossed the finish line, I was glad I was wearing sunglasses because maybe that would make the tears of pain streaming down my face less noticeable.

Kelowna half marathon 2016 - finish line 2

Me at the finish line. You can see the pain on my face.

Some thoughts on the race itself:

  • The route itself was gorgeous – it officially replaces Victoria as the most beautiful race route I’ve run. It started in the Vibrant Vine vineyard, ran through some wine country and farm lands, down a giant hill, through some neighbourhoods, and finished up in a park by the lake, where a wine festival awaited. I’d really like to run this race again when I’m not injured so I can more fully appreciate it.
Kelowna half marathon 2016 - actually smiling

This is me at some point before the 15 km mark, where I was only in mild discomfort. Or as I call it now “the good ole days”.

  • While the race as beautiful, the logistics weren’t the best thought out. For example, the website mentioned nothing about a shuttle bus taking runners to the start line, so we expected Andrew to be able to drop me off there, but then out of the blue the road was closed and they said I had to go wait for a shuttle bus. Since people weren’t expecting this, they didn’t allot time for it and they had to delay the race start to allow for more people to arrive on the shuttles. Even with that, I heard that some people didn’t get to the start line until after the race started because they had to wait for the bus they didn’t know they’d have to take.
  • Another example of poor planning was that the place to pick up your gear that you’d checked and your wine glass that was required for the wine festival tastings was at the very end of the festival compound, which meant you had to walk all the way to far end to pick up your stuff and then all the way back to the entrance to the festival to go to wine tastings. This was particularly bad for me since I was in a lot of pain and walking was not something I was wanting to do at that particular time.
  • It was different to run a race at the back of the pack. I mean, I’m not a top finisher by any stretch, but I’m used to being in the top half to the top quarter. Being at a slower pace meant I did have more time to look around and enjoy the scenery – though I guess that part of that was also the I chose to do that to try to distract myself from the pain.
  • I also had more time and attention to think about things. Who were my fellow runners? For how many of them was this their first half? Their 50th? Who else was running hurt, pushing through despite the pain? I thought about the saying that you should “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” What battles were my fellow runners fighting, physically or psychologically, that you just can’t see from the outside? What motivated them to run today? And conversely, who was having the best race of their life? And who else was in this for the wine?
  • I also thought about my dad. I find I do that often when I’m running, because I know he was a runner before I was born. Also, my dad was very stubborn and I was being stubborn too, by running this race.
  • The race medal was awesome. When I first saw it, I didn’t clue into what it was and just thought “It’s huge!” But it turns about that it’s a coaster for your wine! It’s easily detachable from the ribbon so you can actually use it! Though I’m sure I’ll just hang it on the wall with my collection5

    Untitled

    I do love a good race medal.

I’ve spent the past week since the race limping around – I saw the physio on Wednesday and he said I have acute bursitis and maybe acute tendinitis – and I saw the massage therapist today. I had to skip my hockey game today because I can barely walk, let alone skate. Here’s hoping the 16 hours of flying I have coming up on Wednesday doesn’t kill me!

The one silver lining – well, in addition to the awesome race medal and all the wine – was that I finally caught the damn Mankey that had been eluding me in Pokémon Go. Mankey isn’t that rare of a Pokémon – I just could never seem to catch one, until now ((Of course, once I caught one, I ended up catching a few. Now I just need to keep catching them so that I can evolve one into a Primeape!)!

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  1. As opposed to “wet needling”, i.e., injecting you with stuff []
  2. Props to Kalev for coming up with this line in a convo we were having yesterday []
  3. By which I mean to say – I could then stretch it more than 1 mm. []
  4. I had some bad shin splints earlier this year that took about 5 km of jogging before they disappeared, so this wouldn’t have been unprecedented. []
  5. Speaking of which, my medal rack is too full – I need a new one. But I don’t have time to deal with that right now, so that is after-Australia Beth’s problem. []

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Weights

My exercise comes primarily in the form of cardio (i.e., running, hockey, skiing) and not so much in the form of strength training. I know that strength training is good for your health. I know that strength training would help me be better at my other sports. I know that toned muscles look good. Yet I generally don’t seem to be motivated to get down to the exercise room in my building1 to pump some iron. Or should I say, I haven’t been motivated until now.

Remember how I’m going to Australia next month2? And remember how I said I plan to do some surfing in Australia? Well, my traveling companion, Andrew, has pointed out that surfing – or more specifically getting from lying on the surfboard to standing on the surfboard – requires some upper body strength, so maybe, just maybe, I should do something about that. Hence this:

Gym selfie!

I’ve got 6 weeks until I leave for Australia – here’s hoping I can get strong enough to pop myself up to a standing position on my surfboard!

  1. Yeah, my building has an exercise room with all the weights that I could ever need, open 24 hours a day, for free. So it’s not like I can say that inconvenience is a barrier! []
  2. Omg, I can’t believe it’s next month!!! []

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The Agony of Da Ankle

Hey, remember that time I rolled my ankle one week before the Scotiabank half marathon, but I was all “it’s just a little tweak and I’m totes going to be fine to run 21.1 km in a week”? Yeah, so, apparently that “little tweak” was a “grade 1 sprain” and I was totes not fine to run any number of km on Sunday.

On Monday and Tuesday I was in denial that this was really a sprain and was convinced I’d be fine by mid-week.

On Wednesday I realized that I probably shouldn’t play my hockey game, as my ankle was still swollen and I didn’t want to aggravate it such that I wouldn’t be able to run on Sunday1.

Ankle.PNGOn Thursday, I slowly started to come to the realization that I might not be able to run the race I’d just spent three months training for and it made me really sad. Like, I was on the edge of tears much of the day. Frustrated that I wasn’t going to get to add a new medal to my collection, despite having done my three months of training. Frustrated that the Scotiabank half marathon has a “deadline” for withdrawing from the race due to injury that is *two weeks* before the event, as if you can’t get injured in the 14 days leading up to race day2. Frustrated with yet another health issue that, while minor, was enough to screw with my running season this year. Wishing that I’d gone running last Sunday, when it wasn’t raining, instead of Saturday, when it was pouring to hard that there were giants puddles to hide such things as uneven bits of pavement on which an unsuspecting running might roll their ankle.

By Friday, with my ankle still just as swollen as it was on Monday and still not able to walk, let alone run, without limping, I had accepted that I really, really wasn’t going to be able to run. And I found myself in the bizarre situation of having to justify to a variety of other people that it really wouldn’t be a good idea to run on an injured ankle. Usually I’m the one who is all “I can just walk it off” and everyone else is all “Don’t be silly! You’ll make it worse and then put yourself out of commission for even longer!”

I went to the race expo on Friday to pick up my race package – since I wasn’t able to withdraw my registration due to injury thanks to the Scotiabank half marathon’s absurd deadline for such withdrawals, I figured I may as well pick up my race shirt – it is now officially the most expensive shirt that I own!

When I try to look on the bright side, this is actually the first race I’ve ever missed out on due to injury. And when you consider that I’ve run 13 half marathons, as well as 13 races of other distances, over the past almost 10 years since I started racing, that’s actually not a bad track record. And while I missed out on a medal, this year’s Scotiabank half marathon medal doesn’t really look much different from the medal I got from running the Scotiabank half in 2014, so it’s not like I missed out on an exciting medal for my collection.

Other random thoughts about my ankle predicament:

  • Not being able to do any physical activity for the past week and a half has been killing me. When you are in a routine of doing regular exercise, you get really antsy when you can’t do it. I only just occurred to me the other day that, while I can’t do any of my usual forms of exercise – running, hockey, or biking – I could use this opportunity to do some upper body weight training (while sitting, so as not to aggravate my ankle. In fact, I’m going to head down to my building’s exercise room to do that right after I finish this posting).
  • Also killing me is that I’ve had to wear flat shoes! Last week was particularly bad, as it was too cold and wet out for sandals, and I discovered I really only have one pair of non-sandal flats that I can wear to work. Clearly, I need to do some shoe shopping!
  • Even hobbling on a gimpy ankle, I’m still faster than at least half of the people in the Skytrain station.
  • Even with a bandaged ankle, precious few will offer you a seat on the bus or Skytrain… there were even people who I saw look at my bandaged ankle and then go back to reading crap on their phones. On one Skytrain ride a woman got up to give me her seat… and she was pregnant! I said I couldn’t take a seat from a pregnant woman, but she refused to sit down, insisting that both her legs were at least working. All around sat many non-pregnant, non-bandaged people watching this conversation, until finally one person actually offered to give up her seat as well.
  • When my mom heard about my sprained ankle, she suggested I try out Voltaren, a topical gel that works to decrease pain and swelling. I’d never heard of it before, but when I mentioned it to some people at work they were like “OMG, it’s the greatest thing every invented!!!” I’ve been using it since she suggested it; my sister asked me today if it was working and I said “I don’t know. I have no control ankle to see how it would have healed without it.” Her reply “Common Bethy…sprain the other one along with that one when it heals to test it out!” Obviously, I have failed as a scientist.
  • Speaking of Voltaren3, I keep forgetting what it’s called. I may have said that I’m putting Voltron on my ankle at one point, and I may also have said that I have to put some Virtanen on my ankle a few other times4. Jake Virtanen, for the uninitiated, is an adorable player for the Vancouver Canucks (who just so happens to have been born in New Westminster!).

My ankle definitely felt better this week compared to last, so I’m hoping that another few days of rest will have the swelling gone. I’m going to start rehabbing it with some ankle strengthening exercises. And I’ve already looked into another half marathon to replace this one: the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon on Labour Day weekend. You get to run through Kelowna, which is beautiful, you get to go to a wine festival afterwards, and there is a medal (though I don’t know what it looks like, I do know it will be one I don’t have yet!).

OK, I’m off to go do some biceps curls now!

Image credits:

Drawing of ligaments in the ankle. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1176993

  1. In retrospect, I think this was the “bargaining” stage of grief “If I skip hockey, I’ll get to run the race” – I seemed to have skipped right past the “anger” stage of grief. []
  2. I think they should at least let you transfer your registration to next year if you can produce a medical note to verify your injury. Because these races aren’t cheap! []
  3. Which autocorrects to Voltaire. Autocorrect, you are so pretentious! []
  4. The first time by accident and the other times because I thought it was hilarious. []

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One week until the Scotiabank half marathon…

… and this is what my left ankle looks like:

Swollen ankle

🙁

While out for a run yesterday, I stepped on an uneven bit of pavement and went over on my ankle a bit. I felt the tweak at the time it happened, but it didn’t hurt and so I continued on my merry way. And I was actually surprisingly merry given that it was a torrential downpour that I was running in! When I got home, I was so wet that I looked like I’d jumped in the river! My socks contained 57 ml of water1! Later in the day, I could definitely feel that I’d done something to my ankle, but it looked fine. I’ve kept off my feet as much as possible yesterday and today, but this afternoon I looked at it and saw it was quite swollen. I’m sitting with some ice on it right now and that seems to be helping.

This just seems to be par for the course for my training this year, which has gone something like this:

  • went running on Jan 9, then got a really bad cold that kept me from running
  • went running 3 times in a week (so think I’m really getting my training going) in mid-Feb, then got food poisoning and then before I got back to running, I got zombie eyeball disease

In March, I finally got back into running regularly, but it’s just been… hard. I usually have most of my runs where I feel great, whereas this year I feel like I’ve had at least a run every two weeks that’s been tough. My zone 1 pace (which is where I am supposed to do most of my training – keeping my average heart rate at ~148) has been much slower than I’d like and though it’s improved a bit, it’s not improved as much as I would have liked. Halfway through last week’s 19 km run, my IT band started killing me (though foam rolling this week seems to have helped). And now it’s a week before the race and I have an injured ankle. I was really hoping to do some good little race prep runs this week, but now I think I’ll hold off until my ankle feels better… or until race day comes – whatever comes first.

OK, I think it’s time to switch to a heat pack on my ankle.

Also – don’t forget that there’s still time to sponsor my run with a donation to my fundraiser for the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Organization!

  1. My socks were soooo wet that I just had to weigh them and then I weighed an identical pair that I have that were dry – the difference was 57 g, which means there was 57 ml of water in my socks! []

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Another Running Season = Another New Pair of Running Shoes

Just like last year around this time, I found that my shins were kind of hurting for the first several kilometres when I went out for a run, which is a sure fire sign that I needed new running shoes! Fortunately, when I popped by the Running Room on the weekend, they were having a sale, so I did what I always do, which is try on every pair of neutral running shoes they have in my size and then end up buying a pair of Asics Nimbus. I actually told the sales guy that this was what was going to happen and he said, “That won’t happen this time! I have a pair you are going to love!” and he handed me a pair of shoes that I tried on and decidedly did not love. I have high arches and the shoes he gave me (I can’t even remember what kind they were) had completely flat soles – no arch support at all. I told him that I didn’t like them and why, and he proceeded to completely ignore more for the rest of my time there1! He handed that pair of shoes to another women, who put them on, went out to run around the block in them, came back and said “These shoes have no arch support!” Despite the sales guy abandoning me, I had a pile of shoes that he had grabbed while he was grabbing the pair that he was sure I’d love, so I tried them all on, ran up and down the street in a couple of them, and bought, as usual, the Asics Nimbus. (I wanted to buy two pairs and alternate them, which is what I did with my previous pair of pairs, but they only had one of this shoe in my size, so I couldn’t. I really should go check out other Running Room locations to see if they have sales on too!)

Unfortunately, running shoe makers having come to their senses in terms of not making every pair of shoes in garish neon colours was short-lived, so unlike the shoes I bought the last time, which were reasonable looking white-with-blue-trim and white-with-green-trim (I had two pairs I was alternating between), this time I had to buy these garish orange things:

New ugly running shoes

I guess on the plus side, at least they aren’t hot pink with neon green!

For the record, I tracked my mileage on the two pairs of running shoes that I was using and I ran 342.8 km in my Asics and 300.5 km in my Sauconey. According to my extensive research (i.e., Google search), you should be able to run about 300 miles – which is 482 km – before you need a new pair of running shoes, so just like my previous pair, these guys did not last as long as they should have.

I’ve taken this pair out twice so far and so far, they feel pretty good. Here’s hoping they last me 300 miles instead of 300 km!

  1. This was actually quite surprising. Usually the staff at the Running Room are great. []

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My Friends and I Ran A Marathon Yesterday

Yesterday was the 45th running of the Vancouver marathon and I ran in it!

Other statements that are true include:

  • My friends and I ran a marathon yesterday
  • I ran across the finish line of the Vancouver marathon yesterday.

I did not, however, run the entire 42.2 km. Instead, I took part in the marathon relay with my friends Julie, Jen, and Pam. The way the relay works is that you have 4 runners on your team – Runner A starts at the starting line with all the full marathoners, but at the 12 km mark there is a relay exchange point at which Runner A hands off a belt, which contains your team’s timing chip, to Runner B, who runs the next 12 km, and then hands the belt with the timing chip to Runner C, who runs 5 km and then hands the belt off to Runner D, who then runs the remaining 13 km of the race. There are timing points at each relay exchange area, so the time of each leg, as well as the time of the entire duration of the race, is recorded. Honestly, I think this may be the only way I’ll ever participate in a full marathon – the way where you don’t actually have to run the full 42.2 km!

IMG_2380

Our team was named the Tenacious Tempos! Props to Julie for coming up with the name!

I was Runner D – also known as the anchor. The downside of being the anchor is that you do a lot of waiting – there are shuttle buses that take the relay runners from the start area to their exchange points, but the buses got us to our exchange point at 9:15 am and by my team’s estimates, I wasn’t expecting to start until 12 pm! Also, the area where the shuttle buses dropped us off, which is also where the portapotties were located, was about eleventy billion kilometres from the actual exchange point and while many runners went over to the exchange and then had to walk all the way back to go pee before they actually ran, a small group of us decided that we had no interest in doing all that extra walking, so we hung out by the buses (where there were benches and stuff to sit on) until it was time for a pre-race pee and then we headed over to the exchange.

Happily, it was a nice sunny day and I was prepared with sunscreen and a book to read. I also spent some time chatting with my fellow anchors from the other teams and Andrew dropped by to say “hi” to me as well.

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Me, waiting for Julie (Runner C) at the exchange point. I have no idea why my hair is this terrible *before* I even started running!

The plus side of being the anchor is that you get to run over the finish line! I tend to find finish lines very motivating and usually can find some energy to put on a good kick at the end – even if I feel like I’m just barely hanging on up until the finish line is in sight, once I see it, I find a previously unavailable store of energy for a sprint to the finish! But I’m getting ahead of myself!

The route that I got to run was a lovely one – we went over the Burrard St bridge, then along Pacific, which turns into Beach, which then takes you into Stanley Park, and then we went all around the Seawall, and then along Georgia and up to Pender to the finish line. It was flat and scenic, which is just how I like my race routes to be! It was also very hot – especially since I didn’t start running until about noon! I spent a significant portion of the race  wiping the fog from my sunglasses, because I was so hot and sweaty!

As for the running itself, I was pleased with my run. As you know, I’ve only really been training for about a month due to having all the sicknesses in the early part of this year, so my fitness level is way below what it was last year. I’ve been running my zone 1 runs at about a 7:30 min/km pace and my recent blood lactate assessment1 shows all my zones to be considerably slow compared to this time last year (which is not surprising, given that this time last year I’d spent ~4 months training for the BMO half marathon). But I decided that my relay run would be a good chance to see how well I could do in a zone 2 run (as most of my training focuses on zone 1, which helps to raise my aerobic threshold, but is not the zone that you want to run a 13 km or a 21.1 km race in), and I was pleasantly surprised with what I could do! I managed to run the 13.2 km at an average pace of 6:27 mins/km – and I felt strong! The last 3 km I definitely had to work to keep up that pace – my body was tiring and wanted to slow down, but I dug deep and focused on maintaining the pace. It’s funny, because as I was running I was thinking “Wow, I can’t believe how fast I’m running this! This is awesome!”, but afterwards I realized that last year I’d run 8 km more at an average pace of 5:45 km/km! But it’s all relative and given my start to this year, I was happy with my performance. The official race results clocked my leg of the race at 1:29:51, but that includes the exchange (which necessitated a hug with Runner C before I took off on my leg) – my runner watch indicates that my actual running time was 1:26:55.

After the race, the Tenacious Tempos went for a lovely brunch – which really is the main reason that we do these races. Well, the brunch and the medal!

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The Tenacious Tempos showing off their race bling!

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My race bib has taken it’s place on my board along with its fellow race bibs. Also, this is probably the coolest race number I’ve ever had: 9900!

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A new medal for my collection. Medal #2 for 2016!

  1. A new blog posting coming on that soon! []

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Blazing Blades – 2016 Champions!

Sunday marked the triumphant return of my Coquitlam hockey team, the Blazing Blades, to the status of Div 1 champions! You may recall that it 2014 we won the coveted trophy. Last year we did not, but this year we had our strongest season ever, going 21-3-1 in the regular season. We went 2-1 in the first round of the playoffs, which was a round robin, which was good enough to get us to the finals to face the Ringers, the only team who had beat us in round 1.

Lining up for a face off during the championship game

A photo from the game of us lining up for a face off in our end. I’m the one on the right of the photo – you can tell it’s me because (a) I’m shorter than everyone else and (b) my signature braids.

When all was said and done, the final score was 3-0 for us, and so the trophy is back in our hands!

Blazing Blades 2016 Div 1 Champs

The Blazing Blades – the Women’s League Div 1 Champions for 2015-16!

Isn’t the trophy pretty? And just like the Stanley Cup, players get to take the cup home for a week. I can’t wait to get my week – I’m going to take it in to work to show it off!

Blazing Blades championship celebration 2016

The cup

Of course, no victory celebrate would be complete without a drink from the trophy!

Blazing Blades championship celebration 2016

All in all, it was a great season – I’m really lucky to get to play with such a fun and talented group of women!

Tig Beth Ellen

On the left is game MVP, Tig (she scored 2 of our 3 goals, including the game winner) and on the right is team captain & coach, Ellen.

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Just me talking about running again

all races except marathons

OK, that’s entirely not true but I thought it was pretty freaking hilarious.

Sadly, my running season has been off to an inauspicious start. As previously mentioned, my pathetic immune system’s inability to dispense with a simple sore throat/cold has severely hampered my attempt at starting the 2016 running season. However, I finally felt well enough to run and, in fact, I went running *twice* this week! On Monday I was working from home because I had a giant pile of papers to read and I find that easier to do in the quiet of my apartment with my wee fuzzballs nearby and big cup of tea; this meant that despite the fact that it was pouring rain out, I could go for a run on my lunch1. I briefly contemplated using the treadmill in my building’s exercise room, but then I remembered that I absolutely hate the treadmill and would, in fact, prefer to run in the pouring rain. And despite that fact that my running was slow – I know it will take a few weeks of concentrated running to get some of my speed back – I actually felt really, really good running in the rain. And then yesterday it was actually sunny out, so I went for a run on my lunch at the office – it was awesome to get back out on the seawall for a sunny lunchtime run even though, again, I’m not nearly as fast as I used to be. Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that my cold is actually gone2 and I can get back into a training rhythm.

Given all this, I’ve been thinking about what races I want to do this year. My goal is to collect 6 race medals in 2016, so here’s my tentative plan:

  • Hot Chocolate 5 km Run – You get a shirt and a mug and a hot chocolate and a medal that looks like a hot chocolate. I’ve already signed up for this one!
  • BMO Marathon Relay (13 km leg) – I’ve already signed up for this one too
  • Scotiabank half marathon – my friend Christina said she’s going to run this one, so I’m planning to do it too and since I’ll have trained for the marathon relay, I may as well keep training as the timing is perfect for Scotiabank
  • USA Half Marathon – this is a qualifier half marathon (for which I have achieved a qualifying time) in San Diego in November. I couldn’t do it last year because I had a scheduling conflict, but that shouldn’t be a problem this year

Then I just need to find another couple of races. I can’t do the Green Sock half because it conflicts with my hockey playoffs, but the Vancouver Rock’n’Roll 10 km in October is a likely one, as they always have really nice medals. I’ve never done the Eastside 10 km, so that’s another possibility.

Anyone know of any races with really excellent medals that I should consider doing?

  1. At work, there’s a shower I can use after going for a run, but I don’t have a hair dryer. Plus, it was so raining the my clothes were soaked by the end of the run, so it’s much nicer to just be able to throw them in the washing machine at home rather than having to carry a gym bag full of soggy clothes home. []
  2. I still have a bit of a cough, but otherwise feel fine. *knocks on wood* []