Friday, January 2, 2015

See ya, 2014!

It's my last post for 2014 and I hardly know where to start. 

You could read Kerry Gillespie's, "Memorable moments for Canada's Female Athletes in 2014."  from The Star. 
And I could simply recap the year with:
1. Decent start with 7 races from a 3,000 m on the track to a 30 km on the road.
2. Fractured femur. 
3. Decent finish with 3 road races of 8, 10 and 16 km distances.
It will certainly be a year to remember, particularly with my steady recovery that  transitioned to a successful return to full-time training and racing.
In November I had my first rust buster race, just over 6 months after my major injury. And in December I raced the Toronto Tannenbaum 10 km and Hamilton Boxing Day 10 miler road races to continue increasing my comfort with competing. With each race, I knew my fitness was that much better and I was equally more confident to test the depth of my base. My final 2014 race would be a good indicator of my physical and mental status, going into 2015, which would mark the start of official marathon training. If I said that all three races were perfect, I'd be lying. I recapped the Remember Run 8 km race in, "Mommy, please don't break your leg." 
As for the Tannenbaum 10 km, it was pretty straight-forward. The air was cool and crisp with a sunny sky and there were a few guys near me, which helped keep me moving. I don't love the 10 k as it seems like you are working hard, never getting a steady rhythm. Regardless, I kept the desired pace of 3:30/k or faster and was pleased with a solid finish. I believe my last km was my quickest. Always a good sign.
The more recent Boxing Day 10 miler however, was something else. I completed a few good speed and tempo workouts the weeks prior, and was able to enjoy a reasonable amount of Christmas food without overdoing it. It was a special treat to do an easy run the day before in shorts, on Christmas day! I did a few pickups and felt great. I sent Jonathan and the kids ahead to his parents' and got to bed in decent time as not only would I be racing the next day but driving 2.5 hrs immediately after for a family Christmas event. Warmup went well and I was glad to see last year's winner, Leslie Sexton, line up to defend her title. Again, there was a good group of guys nearby to keep pace. I, however, started with the wrong group of guys, doing too many quick kilometres, too soon. It's normal to have the first few be a bit fast. But running the first 4 km at an average of 3:21/km was too much. It was my first time running this race, which was apparently hillier than other years, and with my aggressive start it ended up being one of those races that seemed to get longer and longer. At 8 k, it felt like it was 10 k, etc. etc. I ended up running a good part with Kevin Smith and Alec Braithwaite, which was helpful. But they had a more appropriate start and by 12 km, I was done. Done. Done. It was survival mode at that point. So, with one mile left I was not surprised to be practically standing still, chewing Leslie's dust when she flew past me. It reminded me of this year's Toronto Yonge St 10 km where I led the entire race, only to be passed in similar fashion by Rachel Hannah. I still had gas in the tank then but when you are passed late in a race, you either go. Or you do not. Because you cannot! So I did not. Live and learn. Nine times out of ten I am a conservative steady eddie pacer but not this time. Sometimes you gamble and it works like I did in the 2013 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon where I ran 70:52. Other times you pay.I however will never let any race get me down. There is always something to be gained. The mental battle I conquered by finishing that race standing is something I will be sure to draw on in future races. Honestly it was one of the toughest races I've ever run, mentally and physically. It is crazy to say but it was almost like a marathon. I wanted to quit because my mind and body had been through enough. But I did not. I won my own battle. My quads were sore for a good few days after but a couple of easy runs, stretching and rolling, and time in the pool allowed me to get back to my first workout, four days later. I know I was fit enough to run my goal time of 56-57, and likely would have had I started out right. So we will continue to proceed with the scheduled training and racing plan. When the kids are back in school and we are in our normal routine, it will really feel like this is it. Time to get to work. The best part about that race was that I did not think about my leg even once, until the next day. A sure sign of healing.Over the last couple of months I have been looking at numbers from previous years, leading up to a marathon. I've completed 10 marathons (from a 3:28 to 2:28) and there are a lot of factors to consider - pregnant/breastfeeding, injuries, time of year, and weather, etc. Every build has been unique but quite similar. In summary, my current numbers are very comparable and I am mentally more prepared than ever. This will be the year of saying no more than yes, if it deters me from my ultimate goal. I have a window. And it is now. One factor I knew I needed this year was a decent winter. And so far it has been amazing. Last year at this time we had snow and ice and -30 temperatures for weeks. Every. Single. Day. I could deal with the frigid temperatures but like many, struggled with the difficult footing. This year we have only had one bout of snow that hardly stayed on the ground and temperatures have averaged around 0 C. My 2012 breakthrough spring came after a winter comparable to the beginning of this one. So, onward I go to get this big goal started. 2015 will be a big year. Big.

Tannenbaum 10 k, Dec 7 with Dan Way who breezed by me a few km's later. 

I'm really enjoying working with Sue - Spencefitness Brantford.  Not only is she a mom of four whom I've looked up to for years, she is an incredible leader, helping me with breathing and stretching exercises.

My sweet little girl, starting hockey at age 3, a year before I did!

Looking forward to training with Alec this winter/spring.