Monday, December 31, 2012

Moving Forward

It's the last day of the year and a few weeks since my last post. I've heard people say that bloggers often don't post when things aren't going so well. But one thing I wanted to ensure with my blogging was being real, being honest, and being consistent. I think that it's important to see how others struggle and cope with the ups and downs of training and racing, parenting and working. I think I blogged about the stress of moving, a few days after returning from the Rotterdam Marathon! Also, I've been pretty busy with the Christmas season and using my iphone 5 more so haven't sat at my laptop for several days.
As you know, December was to be a season of rest and recovery. And it's been, just that.
After many assessments, trips to the GTA, and discussions, we finally got my plan in place. Over the last several years, I've patched together my health care providers to meet my needs. Fortunately I never had a serious injury that kept me from training or racing for very long; I had little things here and there that were fixed by various local providers, who've been great. Going to Aurora to see Ron O'Hare regularly would be super, but a 3 hr return trip is not practical. I had a long list of various providers such as osteopaths, physios, chiropractors, and massage therapists in Dundas, Brantford, and Paris but was really hoping I could see one main person, in Brantford. I knew it wouldn't be a quick and easy fix, rather one that required specific routine exercises. Ron, Rick, Jonathan and I were trying to come up with a plan.
Then, I sat with Rob.
When things work out well for people, they often say they are "lucky" or ask, "What are the chances?". But,  I believe that when we give our problems to God, He works them out in His ways in His time. It had been 2 months since pulling my glute mede at STWM and my hip was still swollen with no plan in place. I had been able to train for and run in Japan, still had no pain, was enjoying the break, and maintaining my fitness but a bit concerned that I had no plan to get after this chronic tendon issue. And I was nearing the upper limit of the weight I did not want to surpass! I was feeling discouraged. Then during a 2.5 hr hockey practice, I sat with hockey coach and physiotherapist Rob McCall, and we got the ball rolling; I had an appointment with his physiotherapist wife, Sherri at Essential Physiotherapy, two days later. The two of them (and Ron) had come up with the reason for the tendon problem. Long story short is that my pelvis has likely been misaligned since my first pregnancy, 7 years ago! In 2010, after running 4 marathons in one year, I had pain in my right hip and right plantar fascitis. Then, I was pregnant again with #3. The break from running was good but again, the pelvis was unbalanced with a heavy load! The cambered running with my increased mileage also made the situation worse this past season. They were surprised it didn't surface earlier. The best part, about when Sherri and Patricia did my hands-on assessment, was that it was consistent with Rob's theoretical assessment and they didn't even blink because of their specialization in pre/postnatal care. Hey ladies, if you've been experiencing issues during of after your pregnancy, get yourself into this place. They know their stuff.
So, I've seen Sherri and Patricia 4 times in two weeks, which is pretty good considering the busy schedules and limited hours over the Christmas holidays! The first time they explained things to me and told me that my body had to stop compensating and retrain the right muscles to work properly, all I could think about was the expression, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks". I could hard recognize the muscles in my lower abs that had to be used right, despite the fact that I had routinely worked on my core. Also, the left leg was so weak that it shook during some exercises and we often had to use less weight to complete them properly. I didn't know how I could "retrain" myself. BUT, with prayer, practise, and patience, I got my green light December 28 to advance to pool running. Dr Richards/Leung had initially said that my left leg was 60% strength and I could pool run at 75% and run at 90%. I was so encouraged when Sherri assessed the leg and said, "Oh yeah, you can pool run". I knew the left leg was stronger due to rest, cardio, weights, and physio exercises at home, but wanted my providers to make the call. So, I'm guessing that we'll stick to pool running for a few weeks before starting some running. When I start running, we really have to make sure that I watch my surfaces with the wintry weather and cambered roads that were also a major contributing factor to the tendonosis. Good thing I'm a treadmill runner! I'm also making other changes such as not crossing my legs or ankles, watching my posture, and holding Leah in the middle of my body. No more baby on the hip! I've had my fill of sweets and turkey dinners and look forward to moving forward, getting back to where I belong. Rick and I are going to meet to discuss my training plan, now that my break is nearly over and my hip is improving. We'll likely start with workouts on the bike, elliptical and pool. Running will be easy, once I start. Realistically I see a solid six month plan, starting in February, leading to worlds in August. So, the races I had planned to do between now and then are likely going to be more for training than anything else; the Robbie Burns 8 km, Chilly Half Marathon, and Around the Bay 30 km likely won't be as fast as last year but I'll be pleased to get even one of them in, if that.
Recently Rejean posted about his running routes in Toronto, which gave me the idea to do something similar. So, I've included some pictures to show how I've kept my fitness and built my strength, indoors! I've done quite a bit of walking outdoors, including a great non-stop-talk 1.5 hr walk with Karen Harvey, but these pictures are to encourage you to explore the indoor options.
I'd better get to my laundry mountain, find and feed my kids but I do hope to return to my laptop to do a recap of 2012, perhaps tomorrow on the first day of the year after the New Year's Run with the Brantford Tournament of Races. 
Jonathan and Micah plan to do the 5 km together. Seth, Leah and I will do the fun 1 km run.Then, like last year we'll go to Cora's for Breakfast. We love family traditions.
Happy New Year!
2012 was great.
2013 will be even better.

Strengthening my quads and hamstrings.

Back on the elliptical.
These machines will remain part of my strength routine. Gotta keep the adductor and abductor muscles in fine form.
Of course there is the pool. I started swimming regularly in 2005 when I was injured and couldn't run. I tell people that it was likely the best thing to happen to me as it taught me the value of cross-training. I often tell people that swimming is my water physio. I usually mix it up between laps and pool running over an hour.
Herbie Jr. is my shiny red bicycle. It's been with me at the cabin and in triathlon races but mostly in the basement. As a mom, I'm so glad to have the bike for those days I need a back-up plan.

Here's the "Reformer" at Essential Physio. The first time I used it, I was pretty weak in the left leg. It's amazing how I've progressed. Thanks, Sherri and Patricia. I look forward to you providing my care.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

To Everything there is a Season

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Like many, this passage has been particularly meaningful to me during various times in my life. On a more serious note, it had incredible meaning when read aloud at my dad's funeral in 1995, after he lost his short battle with cancer. He was once a strong farmer who got six kids to their many extra-curricular activities while caring for my mom who suffered from mental health issues and cancer. I'll always remember our family Christmas trip to Florida, his keen interest in my hockey and running (he died exactly at the time of one of my OFSAA races), and the high level of respect shown to him in our farming and church communities. He certainly had his seasons, many of which we enjoyed together.
Like my father lived his life, I've always believed in enjoying every stage, or season, of my life.
When I became a dietitian, I was glad to leave the life of a student and start that of a career woman. 
When I became a mom, I knew I wanted to enjoy every part of it, starting with the baby stage (still my favourite, by far) while moving through the seasons with my husband and children. It has been the most amazing journey so far!
Now as a professional (if I can say that) marathoner, I am enjoying the many seasons of training, racing, and now ... recovering. As I wrote in October after the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I had an issue with my hip/bum. Prior to the race, I had some minor pain in the area (ok I'll say it now, a "pain in the butt"). During the race (at 35 km, around the time I fell off my Canadian record-breaking 2:28:30 pace), I thought I pulled something in my hip. I could not walk without pain upon finishing. I had some bruising for a few days, and some swelling, which has remained since. You can actually see the swelling in the 2013 STWM rack card (cool, on the rack card, not the swelling). I took 10 complete days off then was able to do some decent training (run, bike, swim) in preparation for a successful 5 km at the Chiba Ekiden race in Japan without any pain. While there, I was assessed by Team Canada therapist, Ron O'Hare . This guy is amazing. He and Coach Rick discussed my situation, and upon our return Ron made a few phone calls and appointments, and we soon had our answers. Thanks to Dr. Richards and Dr. Leung and the speedy MRI and x-ray they ordered, we now know that the chronic hip pain is tendonopathy, which existed prior to the race and is the reason the injury is lingering.  The acute hip pain was a grade one strain of the glute medius, which happened at 35 km, as it could no longer work for the weak tendon when pushed to the limit during the race. Camber and over-use are likely to blame.Also, when I was a 1 yr old, I broke my right leg so there was some question about whether or not there was a leg discrepancy but the x-ray revealed that this is not so. My left leg is at 60% strength but with some strengthening and rest, it should return to 100%. After discussion with the doctors, I was actually relieved to be told I should not run. I had planned to take December as a down month so this has made it that much easier. Ron, Rick and I will work together to get a plan in place so that I can maintain my fitness and recover completely, in order to be at my finest when I start training for worlds. So, I am enjoying this new season of rest and cross-training. I'm doing about 45-90 minutes/day of biking/swimming/elliptical as well as weights/core/stretching and some brisk walking. I've enjoyed staying up a bit later in the evenings, and having more energy during the day to get things done around the house (my husband installed a new central vac system that I have yet to use). We finally put some pictures and mirrors up on the walls (remember, we moved the weekend I returned from Rotterdam after going for the Olympic standard?!), and got the house decorated for Christmas on the weekend. I enjoyed a lovely day in Dundas with my friend, Adrienne (a yearly tradition since interning together in Kingston, 10 years ago) and have been active in the community with the Brantford Tournament of Races Banquet and various school and church Christmas activities, as well as the kids' usual hockey and school routines. I look forward to doing much more during this off time; hosting my family Christmas, seeing more family and friends, learning more about my NEW iPhone 5 (thank you, Jonathan), Christmas shopping, and scrap-booking.

To everything there is a season. Enjoy this CHRISTmas season with family and friends. "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Exchange - Reid to Krista at Chiba

Here is the clip of Reid Coolsaet passing off to me in the Chiba Ekiden 2012 race (click here). Kinda neat!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Joyous Japan Journey

OTTAWA- Athletics Canada officially named today the athletes who will travel to Chiba, Japan for the 24th International Chiba Ekiden Road Race Relay on November 23.  The unique event features teams of men and women running six alternate legs to cover the marathon distance of 42.195-kilometres.  
The Canadian team is led by 2012 Olympians Reid Coolsaet of Hamilton, Ont., and Alex Genest of Lac-aux-Sables, Que.  Coolsaet finished 27th in the men’s marathon competition at the London Games, while Genest recorded a seasonal best in the men’s 3000-metres steeplechase.  The team is also comprised of Krista DuChene of Brantford, Ont., and Lanni Marchant of London, Ont.  Both women have run under the 2013 World Championship marathon standard.
The race will unfold as follows:
1st leg – men’s 5km
2nd leg – women’s 5km
3rd leg – men’s 10km
4th leg – women’s 5km
5th leg – men’s 10km
6th leg – women’s 7.195km
2012 Chiba Ekiden Road Race Team 
Name Hometown Personal Coach
Reid Coolsaet Hamilton, ON Dave Scott-Thomas
Krista DuChene Brantford, ON Rick Mannen
Alex Genest Lac-aux Sables, QC Dave Scott-Thomas
Rachel Hannah Barrie, ON Rossario Ristuccia
Tarah Korir St. Clements, ON Peter Grinbergs
Lanni Marchant London, ON Dave Mills
Geoff Martinson Prince George, BC Wynn Gmitroski
Rob Watson Guelph, ON Dave Scott-Thomas (did not go due to injury)
Integrated Support Team
Jon Brown Victoria, BC Team Leader
Rick Mannen Brantford, ON Team Coach
Ron O’Hare Aurora, ON Physiotherapist
The first International Chiba Ekiden was held in 1988.  The event made the move to mixed gender teams in 2007.
I can't remember all of the details of the trip so may have a few things wrong but here goes...

November 19-24, 2012

Rick and I met the Ontario gang at Pearson Airport shortly before 10 am for our 13 hour 12 noon flight from Toronto to Tokyo. Once we boarded, I changed my watch right away to 14 hours ahead then didn't pay much attention to time afterwards. I kept myself occupied with napping, reading, and movie-watching in my fairly comfortable window seat. With long flights and time changes, I have found that one of the most difficult things is properly timing your meals. You do not want to over-eat yet don't really know when or what you will eat next so you eat most of what they give you whether you want to or not (did you get all that?). The food wasn't terrible, I had some snacks (trail mix, almonds, protein bars, fruit) in my carry-on, and had already eaten my bagged lunch (salmon sandwich, vegetables) so was nutritionally set as was fellow dietitian Rachel Hannah! We dietitians think alike!
We finally arrived, safe and sound, in Tokyo and had our first experience of Japanese culture. I haven't traveled the world but think it is safe to say that the Japanese are some of the most hospitable, friendly, highly-respected, professional and warming people in the world. From roll calls, friendly reminders to be punctual, and a professionally executed race (like nothing I've ever seen!), to caring for our luggage and ensuring we travel without difficulty, they had it covered. I knew they took excellent care of their athletes but this was something else. Boy, do they pay great attention to detail!
Once we settled into our cedar cabins (Lanni and I shared a joining room with Rachel and Tarah McKay-Korir), we tossed on our running gear and headed out for a short 4 km run. I had already run an easy 8 km Monday morning but since it was now Tuesday and I had been sitting for so long, it was good to move the legs. There was a wide variety of surfaces for running and throughout the trip we mixed it up between the track, road, and wood chip trail. We had our first meal then headed back for a shower and bed.

I can't remember what time I went to bed each night but I usually slept from about 9 pm to 4 or 5 am. I woke up a few times each night but usually had no trouble getting back to sleep. The beds and rooms were cozy and comfortable. About the only trouble I experienced with the time change was feeling sleepy around 5pm. Normally I would have napped at home for 20 min around 1pm but most felt it was best not to nap, just in case in turned into a long sleep!We did a short fartlek (total 9km) workout to freshen the legs up for the race. Let me tell you, running around the rice fields in rural Japan was amazing. Throughout the trip I wanted to very conscious of my surroundings and what I was doing, and this was certainly something I took in. Having grown up on a farm and being able to do much of my running on country roads outside of Brantford made for a great appreciation of what I was doing. Getting my legs, lungs and heart going while viewing the fields and gardens was peaceful yet exciting.
Later we met as a team to discuss logistics of the race and finalize our individual leg assignments. And here's how it would go: Geoff 5 km, Tarah 5 km, Reid 10 km, Krista 5 km, Alex 10 km, and Lanni 7.2 km. With Rob Watson having to withdraw prior to the trip, Rachel was left as our only alternate. She would have loved to run but easily switched her game hat to team support for this race, knowing she'd put on her game hat for the National Cross-Country race in Vancouver on Saturday (note: and she pulled off a 9th place, just a few hours after arriving home!). 

Apparently there was a little earthquake last night (magnitude 4.2), which is common in Japan. Most of us slept through it but not Coach Rick. He heard thunder-like sounds and felt his bed shaking. Here's the details (click here).
Shortly after breakfast and checking email, most of the 15 teams boarded buses for a trip into the city to see the temple and do some shopping. I think one of the best things about this trip was the fact that the race was very competitive, attracting many high caliber runners from all over the world - 2012 Olympic 10,000 m silver medalists Galen Rupp (USA) and Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) yet it was also very relaxed. I have not known of many (or any) races where nearly all of the competing athletes go for a bus tour the day before competing! We had a lovely tour guide who spoke excellent english and gave us great insight to her culture and way of living. From weather and religious rituals to customs, work, travel, and pleasure, again the Japanese covered it all. You can see from the pictures that the temples were quite the architectual design. The shopping at the mall wasn't all that different than North America with various stores and a food court but again, I took it all in for its unique experience. My sister-in-law, Aimee and friends, Matt and Clayton had told me quite a bit about Japan and I was glad to experience it first-hand. One of the most interesting things was the toilets. Aimee said there would be a variety of buttons for various reasons. I had a lot of fun playing with them - water for washing (bidet), warm air for drying, heat-seating for comfort, and flushing sounds for distraction, while doing my business. I had to contain my laughter once when I pressed the washing button for the first time! What I didn't expect was the squatting troughs in public places - that was interesting! They even had seats to hold little children while using the facility.
We made it back for a late lunch then went out for a short run and shower before dinner back again at the Nihon Centre. I guess I could write about the food now. It was excellent and there was a wide variety of both Japanese and North American styles.  Again, I wanted to take it all in, so dove right into the Japanese food. I thoroughly enjoyed small amounts of a variety of foods. Typically for breakfast I would have eggs, rice porridge, fruits (oranges, bananas) and vegetables (often tomato, broccoli, cauliflower), yogurt and cereal, toast and sometimes fish. For lunch and dinner, it was rice, miso soup, tofu, tempura, various dishes with vegetables, fish (meat or chicken) and noodles, and sushi. Lots of sushi. I think I had it nearly twice every day! 

After walking to the centre for breakfast we took a shuttle back to the cabin. It was only about a 10 minute walk or 5 minute shuttle (between the cedar cabins and dining/meeting facility) so we switched it up a lot, depending on how we felt or what we were doing. We relaxed a bit then each person started getting their race gear on. Of the girls, Tara was the first to head out for roll call then I was next, and lastly Lanni. Myself and the other 14 leg 4 runners assembled into the room, sat in our respective chairs and waited for roll call. With clipboards in hand, the race officials checked off our names, inspected our uniforms and ensured we had our proper labels (numbers on our bag and warm up gear as we would get our race number later, once we arrived to our start area) before boarding the bus. When walking out of the building they applauded and nodded with smiles and wishes of success in our race. The bus ride to our start was the quietest I've ever experienced. Really, you could hear a pin drop! Once we arrived each of us was greeted with a helper whose job was to basically take care of us and ensure we stayed within the boundaries during our race prep. They carried our things, pinned on our numbers, and instructed us throughout the wait for our turn in the race. After stripping down to our race gear we jogged back and forth in a very small pathway with our helpers' extra jacket (our own gear had to be bagged and tied at a certain time) to stay warm. Then the excitement heightened. You could see the Japanese race officials scurry around and talk even quicker when it was time to call the countries in order. We knew the Kenyan, Japanese, and USA national teams would be strong. Sure enough those girls were called ahead to get out on the road, ready to receive their sash in the exchange zone because they were in the lead. There was a very specific area where we were to receive the sash; stepping outside of it would result in disqualification. So, I waited for my "Canada" to be called. After the next three, Russia, Chiba Japan and New Zealand, it was my turn. I stepped onto the exchange mat and looked for Reid. After he handed me the sash and cheered me on with a, "Go, Go, GO!", he was done and I was off.   The New Zealand girl was up ahead and she was my target. At this point it was pretty rainy and windy so I buckled down and aimed to maintain a steady pace, fully intending to move Canada from 7th to 6th. The Japanese were cheering, my sash was flapping, I was wearing my first Team Canada racing uniform, and my heart was pounding. I was going to take it all in and make my country proud. There was only a 2.5 km marking, which I missed, and a 1 km to go so knowing my pace was difficult. I didn't wear my Garmin so just paid attention to my effort and breathing. A lot of the athletes were track runners so I knew that if I was consistent, my strength could work to my advantage in the end. Sure enough I could tell I was gaining and the Kiwi was fading. She was mine. I passed her shortly after the 1 km to go and worked hard to give us a bit of an extra lead. I looked ahead and got my sash off and into hand before passing it off and cheering for an excited Alex. As a steeple-chaser, it was his first 10 km road race. I was done and he was off. I think it's quite neat that I was the leg between two of Canada's 2012 Olympic athletes.
As soon as we were finished, we were whisked into a tented area. We received our bags and quickly changed into our dry clothing. I looked for my new USA friend, Emma but apparently she and the two other girls from the lead teams (still Kenya and Japan) were tossed into a cab to make it back to the stadium for the finish. Once on the bus we chatted with the other girls (much friendlier atmosphere after running!), enjoyed our boxed lunch (Aimee had told me about this) and watched the race on the bus's tv. To go from being in the race to watching it, moments later, was fascinating. Even more exciting was when we got out at the road once we knew we would not make it back to the stadium in time, to cheer for the final leg. So back to being in the race again!  The same teams had the lead and like Kenya and the USA battling it out, Canada and New Zealand was doing the same. I saw the Kiwi approach first, then Lanni was right behind. We cheered for our country and others, then got back on the bus to get to the stadium (about 1 km away). I let out a few hollers for Lanni to catch her and sure enough once I looked back up on the screen, there we were with our best Cdn place and time yet! We were 6th overall with a time of 2:11:01.  Wow, we did it! We got off the bus, were escorted into the stadium and looked for our teams. There were lots of hugs and smiles, especially from Rachel and Ron, and our proud coaches, Jon and Rick. Everyone ran a strong leg and we were very consistent across the board, placing from 3rd to10th in our individual legs. New Zealand's Robertson twins (Zane and Jake) ran the fastest in their legs but it was our depth that got us our best place ever! After some got a bit of treatment from Ron while others cooled down, we got on our Canada bus and enjoyed a fun ride back to the centre. We showered and got dressed up and headed to the banquet. They had already given the overall awards at the stadium so gave the awards for the fastest individual legs, and even did some fun awards (from pictures they had taken throughout the week, they gave best dressed, best smile, etc.). Teams exchanged gear (uniform tights, jackets, singlets) and enjoyed the evening together. Shortly before getting the shuttle back to the cabin, I hopped on the computer in the wi-fi zone (a very popular site all week for everyone!). My day was made even better when I watched a video of my husband and kids, saying hi to their mommy in Japan. Again, I took a moment to take it all in and reflect.

As per our tradition after racing together, Lanni and I did not sleep. This time, not at all! So, at 5:30 am we decided to put on our gear and what else, go for a run. We enjoyed an easy 10 km, again around the rice fields, farms and gardens. We had to ask for directions a few times, and like every other encounter with the Japanese people, we were assisted in a very friendly and courteous manner. We packed our bags then headed down for my much-anticipated onsen. Matt and Aimee had told me all about their experience and it was finally going to be my turn. I had told the other Canadians about it all week and was thrilled to discover that it was available at the Nihon centre. But sadly, I wish I had known earlier than the day before because when Lanni and I got there we were informed that the onsen was not available until 11 am. Our bus was leaving for the airport at 8:15 am sharp. So, back to the cabin we went. We got ready and ate quickly then boarded the bus to go. After lots of bowing, smiles, thank you's, and waves, we said good bye. Reid stayed behind since he has two more races in Asia in the following few weeks. After coming up with a plan on the bus (not only can Jon coach, he knows Japan, after living and training here previously in his career), we put our luggage in lockers, bought our train ticket and headed to Tokyo! We only had a few hours but the trip was well worth it. On the way, there was so much to see, this time more urban than the rural we were used to back near the Nihon Centre. We saw the Tokyo Skytree, the world's highest tower. Then, we experienced the crowds of people (Clayton described rush hour at the station like ants coming out of an ant hill), sites, sounds, and smells at the market and on the streets. It was simply amazing. Matt had told me about tiny little sectioned booths where you could get food. Saw it! We purchased a few items then went to a little restaurant to enjoy an authentic Japanese meal. While waiting outside for tables to clear, we looked at the food on display in the window (another thing Aimee told me about). Once we sat down, we pointed to our meals from the menu, and again took in the atmosphere around us. We looked at how other people ate - eating with your chopsticks and bowl in hand up near your mouth was acceptable. Once our meal came it was devoured in no time. We were hungry and it was delicious. Shortly after we raced to board the train with just a few minutes to spare before heading back to the airport (even the airport staff outside stood and waved!) for our final journey home. We were told this part of the leg would be the most tiring. Basically, with the 14 hr time change and 13 hr flight, time stands still. Our Japanese clock will have us ready for bed but our Canadian clock will be mid-afternoon. There is only 2 hours left on the flight! I was fortunate enough to have two empty seats beside me so have already had a decent nap. I want to finish the book my mother in law let borrow for the trip, maybe catch a quick nap, and watch the rest of the movie I started on the way here. It's about two young female runners in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. And they have another meal to serve! I guess a 13 hr flight isn't too bad after all.
I look forward to debriefing with Rick about this race, and our season. What an exciting year it has been for us. December will be easy with lots of mental and physical recovery.
And of course, I can't wait to see Jonathan, Micah, Seth, and Leah. Other than Rotterdam, I have never been gone from them for this long. They will be at the airport once we land. And I will ... take it all in.
Cozy and comfy bed.

The many toilet buttons. Fun and interesting.

Girl power for Team Canada.

This was as close to an onsen as I got, unfortunately. A few times I sat and lathered, just to say I did (Aimee, I was so bummed that I missed the onsen experience). Sigh (youtube of onsen)

Vegetable and noodle dishes with sushi - a common meal for me at the Nihon Centre.

Slippers - a must when indoors.

Event poster.

Japanese muppets?

Japanese kids' tv show.

Wood chip trail.

Is this the ladies' washroom? Yep.

Hmmm, what should I order?

Lanni and Krista - Saucony girls rooming together again in another country.

Enjoying a treat from the station before heading to Tokyo.

Geoff getting his ice cream bar.

The real deal, enjoying a delicious meal in Tokyo.

Handy for holding little ones while using the washroom.

Japanese headbands and chopsticks.

Leah's Hello Kitty purse - it's a pretty big thing in Japan!

Alex getting a coffee at the Nihon Centre where we had meals and the coaches had meetings.

Japanese pancakes (kinda small, don't you think).

Vending machine with items on display.

Our cedar cabin.

Coach Rick with water, clipboard and Canadian gear.

Brantford to Japan.

Dietitians, Rachel and Krista (Alex is completing his course too!).


Sites from the bus.

Our tour guide.

Rice fields - everywhere!

Team Canada at the temple.

Kimono store.

Japanese fashion.

Trays are used when paying for things. Tarah is getting her change after getting a little something for McKayla.


Kenyans shopping.

More rice fields.

Krista on tv waiting for sash from Reid to start her 5 km leg of the relay race.

Additional Links

Japan Running News - race report
Reid Coolsaet - trip and race report
Wesley Korir and Tarah McKay-Korir - Kenya Kids Foundation
Nihon Aerobics Center - dining, meeting, and lodging

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tokyo to Brantford

From Tokyo to Brantford. Coach Rick and I proudly wore our Team Canada gear at the Brantford Santa Claus Parade, about an hour after we returned from Japan. Blog report to follow but sleep needed first!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's time for Chiba Ekiden!

Exchange during  Chiba Ekiden.

I can't believe that in 15 hrs I'll be on a plane to Tokyo, Japan. Really? Me? An energetic mom of three going on a 13 hr flight? This is really going to be something. I'm not much of a movie watcher or reader so I have no idea how the time is going to pass! At least I know the flight to Amsterdam in April was much easier than I had anticipated. But then again, I flew through the night and slept most of the time. Our flight to Tokyo is smack-dab in the middle of the day! Yikes. The strangest thing will be coming back because with the time change and length of flight, we arrive in Toronto around the same time we departed Tokyo, like time standing still! It will be in the afternoon in Toronto but feel like midnight. Hard to wrap my head around it but I figure that I've had enough sleepless nights with the kids (and dog) that I'll survive. Jonathan is going to pick us up so I'm sure we'll stop for a Starbucks coffee on the way home. That should keep me going until bed, especially since I've decreased my coffee consumption to fairly minimal amounts (the last few days) and won't likely drink too much over there!

My bags are packed but I have this strange feeling that I'm forgetting something. It seems it should be more difficult to pack for this trip than any other, considering where I'm going and the time I'll be gone. Oh well. I guess it was easier than other races because: 1) I'm only packing for myself (no kids' lunches, backpacks, suitcases) and 2) It's not a marathon so no need for bagels, gels, and such.

I look forward to the team atmosphere with this race. It will be a change from the marathon, which is so individually focused, and take me back to the days of highschool cross country and university hockey. I especially look forward to the post race banquet with all of the other countries (around 15 or so). The Japanese people really treat athletes with a high level of respect, I'm told. I can't wait to really experience the culture of Japan. My sister in law, Aimee and friend, Matt have really got me excited as they were able to tell me about their experiences. I've done a bit of research on the "onsen", shoe etiquette, bowing, and cuisine. Wow! It will certainly be like nothing I've ever experienced! Can't wait!

Canadian Running has a nice write up about the Chiba Ekiden (click here), which is an extremely competitive and popular race. It is composed of of six legs, 5K, 5K, 10K, 5K, 10K and 7.195K, which add up to equal the distance of a single marathon. Together, we'll go for a fast cumulative marathon time. Last year’s Cdn team was 10th in 2:13.The race alternates between men and women. I'll either do a 5K or 7.2 K. After we get there, talk about how we're feeling, do a bit of easy running, and meet as a team, we'll decide who is doing which leg. Here's a link to the race. Our Canadian team includes: 2012 Olympians Reid Coolsaet and Alex Genest, as well as Geoff Martinson, Rob Watson, Lanni Marchant, Tara Korir and Rachel Hannah. The two coaches are Jon Brown and Rick Mannen, and the physiotherapist is Ron O'Hare.

Speaking of Reid, you'll have to take a look at his  blog. Like my husband, he too is taking part in Movember. Gotta give credit to these two and the many other men participating in such a worthy cause, which is to raise funds and awareness for men's health, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives. Go here to support my husband, Jonathan. Or here, to support Reid. Right now Reid is at $215 and Jonathan is at $25. If, upon my return, Jonathan is at $215 or higher, I will give $215.


Well, it's time for bed. I'll get up early tomorrow to go for a little run before showering, eating breakfast and heading out. It'll be a busy household as I'll be leaving at the same time the boys go to school. But grammy is here so it should be fairly smooth.
Looking forward to writing about my experience upon my return. Thanks for your encouraging messages and prayers, folks!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Super salads, each unique ... try it for yourself!

I must say that I've had a pretty positive response to the salad I posted a few weeks ago. It was kale with scrambled eggs, feta cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Obviously as a dietitian and runner, I eat a fairly healthy diet. Salads are often perceived as boring or for dieters but that's not how I see it! You can do anything with a salad, getting a lot of excellent nutrients without the excess calories. For me, every salad is different and I love it! Start with your dark green leaf (kale, spinach, mesculin mix or a combination), add your lean protein (egg, tuna, salmon, poultry, beef, pork, tofu) and raw or cooked vegetables (peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, etc.) with some dressing (my favourite is olive oil with balsamic vinegar) and a few extras (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, olives, feta or goat cheese). Toss it together with a glass of milk and piece of whole grain bread for a great meal. Love it!

Mesculin mix and spinach with salmon, cucumber, mushrooms, olives, craisins and yellow pepper.

Kale and spinach with steak, sweet potato and onion.
Spinach with chicken, cauliflower, mushrooms and red pepper.