Sunday, June 30, 2013

All the little details

Another great week of recovering and training with only 6 weeks until the big day. Time is flying now! I remember talking about my race schedule back in the early spring, noting that the Vancouver Half would be my last, significant race until Worlds. And here we are.
I'm glad Natasha Y. and I asked Coach for another recovery day before our weekly track intervals. My brother and his family were here to visit, and my body wasn't quite ready for speed work until Thursday anyway. One of the best recovery activities for me is the pool and I was able to get in it four times this week; there is just something about the benefit of the water.
On Tuesday, I did my usual treadmill tempo but a little slower at 3:43/km for 16 km. I think my fastest this season is 3:33/km for 20 km within a 28 km run at a total of 3:39/km. I'll have my most difficult tempos in the week (s) to come. Honestly, I think they make me the fastest and strongest; they are so key in my training.
On Thursday, I did 16 x 400m and averaged 74.0 with a 60 second rest between. Rick informed me that I did the same workout on May 29 in which I averaged 74.9 with a 75 second rest between. Not too bad considering it's a dirt track, which sometimes requires dodging puddles and highschool students!
The rest of the week was steady running and cross training for a total of 160 km (11 hrs) of running and 4 hours of cross training. Most of my long runs have been on the country roads with my friends, James and Clayton. Those two have been key in keeping a steady pace with enjoyable conversation about kids, food, and our day to day lives.
The next 3-4 weeks will be intense. I have two more 40 + km runs within 165-170 km weeks, which will also include my weekly track and tempo runs. My training may look a bit different from week to week due to schedule changes at the gym and vacation but I will get it done with the help of Team DuChene!
Another key to my recovery will be maintaining my regular weekly massages. After my 36 km long run at 4:16/km Saturday, Cynthia really did a great job at relieving a bit of soreness and fatigue. Simply walking into Therapeutic Massage Counsel and seeing Cynthia puts my body into a state of relaxation. I often ask her if I can just stay on the table, with her turning the lights out before she moves on to massage someone else! It's amazing how she can find the areas that need the most work without me saying anything. She really is incredible and I am so grateful that they support me.
I continue to go to physio weekly as well. Sherri is off for a while so I am now seeing Paul. I started with the usual reformer routine then he did a re-assessment, which was good so that he could see things from his perspective for optimal treatment.
In other areas of recovery, I aim to remain consistent in proper sleep, rest, hydration, and nutrition. It's paying attention to all the little details like: making sure my Emend is in my gym bag for immediate consumption after training (I usually drink about 5-6 cups), ensuring my Saucony shoes are rotated properly to avoid injury, and doing my stretches and exercises at home even if it means beside the bed in my pj's at night before calling it a day.
I continue to get requests for speaking engagements and the like, and am honoured.  But I am going to defer any decisions until I return home in August. I must remain focused and it can just get to be too much at times. Adam from Atomic Spark came to the house last week and filmed me talking about life as a Registered Dietitian and Marathon Mom. He's going to create a short 10 minute video that can be used when I am not able to attend events or speak to groups.

Ice cream on the back deck with my brother and family. So glad we were able to spend time together at the park, swimming, visiting, and eating!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Savoring the Moments but Hungry for More

Vancouver, BC
June 21-23, 2013
Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon article
Canadian Running Magazine interview

Saucony and Eload runners, Lanni and Krista, early in the race. CRS photo.

Traveling to Vancouver to race has been one of my favourite weekends in the past few years. I love the sights in B.C., the delicious food, racing to win (BMO 2010 and SVHM 2012 & 2013), and precious time with my friend, Stacey. When everything comes together as you hope and dream, you can't help but get goosebumps. I work hard and should not be ashamed to admit the dedication it takes to succeed.
Before leaving, I support my husband by having the fridge full, the laundry done and the house in decent shape. Lately he's been working long hours so I wanted to make it as easy as possible. I'm often asked in interviews how I juggle it all and never want to take my amazing husband for granted. When he can, he's home for me to go for treatment during the week, does the morning shift on the weekend when I'm out running, and is a great leader with love and truth in our home.
Eccl. 4:9-10 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
 Traveling Europe together the day after my World Champs Marathon will simply be amazing for us, on our 12th anniversary, Aug 11!
When I am away racing, often people ask if I miss my kids.This may sound terrible but nope, I do not. I enjoy Facetime and watching videos but I work hard to deserve a break and savor every moment from resting to racing. From lounging in my pyjamas in bed with a coffee after an easy morning run to multiple Whole Foods trips where I can wander aimlessly and pick great food from my candy store to focusing on what it takes to race, it's an incredible experience for me.
After we arrived Friday, Natasha Y and I decided to take the day off. Coach Rick had said we could do an easy 5 km if we wanted but I knew I would benefit mentally by logging zero km for the day. It was my first day off in three weeks. Simply changing my clothes for 20 min wasn't worth it. And Natasha felt the same way. So we enjoyed a walk down Robson St. to one of our many trips to Whole Foods. This store is amazing. Taking my time to enjoy the smells and sights of healthy and tasty food is so enjoyable for me. No kids tugging my arm or hockey practices to rush to. Of course I got the maple salmon that I craved since falling in love with it at this time last year. Natasha and I ate outside and enjoyed getting to know each other.
Later we went to a lovely reception back at the hotel, organized by Clif, Alan and the Canada Running Series crew. It was nice to meet the people who put such an amazing event together. From road logistics and construction to fund-raising efforts, I am always in awe in how they do it!
Saturday afternoon Alan had a casual q&a  "Meet the Elite"event. It was a beautiful walk to the convention centre by the water and nice time with the other runners. Later I got together with Stacey and Bella and we picked up where we left off from last year. It's great having a friend who enjoys just sitting outside on a park bench to visit just as much as you. Simple and savored.
Around 5pm Natasha Y. and I went for dinner. With an early 7:30 am race start, we wanted an early dinner. We both enjoyed a brown rice noodle, tomato sauce and chicken dinner. She then met up with a friend and I slowly made my way down to the water. I got a tea and texted with Jonathan then enjoyed the beautiful scenery before heading back to the hotel to set out my racing gear.
Saturday morning we were up before our 5 am alarm and had both slept well, which was a good sign. I never worry about sleep the night before a race but when it's great, it's a bonus! Adjusting to time changes has always been easy for me. So I had a coffee and bun with honey and started sipping my eload. We got to the start, did a 20 min warm up and were on the line ready to race in ideal weather conditions.
Going into the race, Lanni and I knew it would be a good go between the two of us. We respect each other and are friends but are ready to race when it's time. My goal was to go under 72 minutes. We started out fast, quite fast. In fact our 10 km split was 33:00, only 8 and 14 seconds slower than our recent Ottawa 10 km PB's!!  I wanted the win as defending champ but knew Lanni's talent would be difficult to beat. Later she said that just after the 10 km mark, I went up a hill a bit ahead of her and her legs just didn't make the move. I knew it wouldn't be a negative split with such a fast first half, rather a win for whoever could keep it together. Lanni played it safe by holding back a bit at 10 km and I took a gamble. Not once did I get into a comfortable rhythm; my heart-rate was elevated the entire 21.1 km but I was still in control...until the Burrard Bridge where "the race starts". Yikes, could I feel it then! But I kept on and was relieved to find myself a bit more comfortable once it was over, with only 2 km to go. Looking at my watch I then knew I would likely go under 71 min! I vaguely remembered looking at the course record before the race. I ended up finishing with a 70:52, 6 seconds shy of the record. I was extremely thrilled with the race because of my time and tactical decision to move ahead mid-way. The course is point to point with several gradual up and down hills so I don't know what my true half marathon PB is. Regardless, I think it's safe to say that I would have gone under 72 on a certified course. Doesn't really matter to me. Lanni finished second, only about 30 seconds behind me. Being such close competitors keeps us honest, hungry, and disciplined to go back to another 7 weeks of training.
Immediately upon finishing I again looked for Stacey. Hugs and tears in our celebration was so emotional. After a 20 min cool down, a great post race meal of a breakfast wrap and yogurt parfait while chatting with Catrin Jones and Lisa Harvey, we had the awards. As female winner, I was so pleased to be able to pick the Canadian Cancer Society as my charity for a potential matching donation.
I quickly grabbed my bag then headed out with Stacey and Bella to...Whole Foods. Again, the simple enjoyment of wonderful food (I got a "Nutter" smoothie) and visiting with Stacey was all I needed and wanted. I savored it. We then parted with hugs and tears so I could shower, pack and catch my flight home.
I messaged Coach Rick that I felt great (other than a few sore toenails) and confirmed our training plan for the next 2 weeks. Landing at midnight wasn't so bad because Jonathan was there to pick me up and take me home. I had a very short sleep so that I could be up at 5am to get in an easy 20 km and 1/2 hr in the pool before Jonathan had to go to work. The boys have swimming lessons in the afternoon so I hope to get a decent nap when Leah naps.
The next five weeks will be the heaviest training weeks of my life - and I welcome it! Like the food and friendship in Vancouver after the win and PB, it will be even better in Europe, Aug 11!

Eccl. 2:24-26 So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? 26 God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

We all post pictures of the things we love. Maple salmon tops the list of food faves!

2010 Winter Games Olympic Cauldron.

As Darren called it, "Breakfast of Champions".

Love these girls - Stacey and Bella.

Enjoying a tea in BC while texting Jonathan who was enjoying a tea in Ontario, just after getting the kids to bed. Kinda like a long-distance date? Yeah, we need our trip to Europe!

Beautiful BC.


So peaceful.

Natasha and I celebrating after our PB's, each one minute faster than expected!

Male winner and new daddy, Kip Kongogo.

This made the flight home a great end to the weekend.

Great news with Mary Davies winning a half marathon in Duluth in 1:11:07!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In This Together

Firefighter hat for show n' tell? Nope. Our kids get duodenal stents and sphincter tomes! Happy Father's Day to an amazing Dad who is the best role model through his employment at  Vantage Endoscopy, leadership to our family at church, love and commitment to his kids and wife at home.

New treadmills at the bright, new Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre. Many km's logged here!

Britanie with Chloe sporting her new spiffy Saucony shoes.

Cute racers.

Sometimes little Leah wants up on mommy's lap with Chloe! These two girls are real sweethearts.

Another morning at the gym. Time for home.

Another solid week of training with 170 km of running and about 4 hours of cross training with the pool, bike and elliptical. Monday was a 20 km tempo (total 28 km) on the treadmill, Tuesday was a 26 km Chariot run on the roads and trails, Wednesday was 6 x 1 km on the track, and Saturday was a steady 40 km long run with Clayton, James and Natasha. I'm really getting in some solid work and feeling great. My energy level remains high and I look forward to even more hard work in the weeks to come. My average RHR has been about 35 and weight has been 116 lb so I know I'm doing ok. They are always good markers of my fitness.
I'm starting to get a few, minor aches n' pains here n' there but thanks to Cynthia at Therapeutic Massage Counsel and Sherri at Essential Physiotherapy & Wellness, I am getting all fixed up. Both times the pain has been somewhere in the foot/ankle as a result of tightness in the lower leg. But with stretching, ice and massage, it's healed well and I haven't had to adjust any training.
In other events, sadly we got some more bad news this week. My amazing friend, Britanie, was diagnosed with breast cancer. This girl has been through so much in her life, particularly with the fragile health of her special needs daughter, Chloe. You can watch a video about Chloe, here. Britanie and I have been great friends since our eldest boys became classmates at school. We've hugged, cried, laughed and prayed since receiving the results of the tumor that was removed, which was initially deemed unlikely to be cancerous.
Britanie was going to help me out with the kids so that I could train this summer but instead I'll be watching her son a bit more, driving her to chemo, and getting up earlier to train. Plans change but God is good and I'm honoured to help a dear friend in need. The thing that inspired and encouraged me is when Britanie said that her faith would not waiver. I tried to look up scripture that would be encouraging to her and thought Psalm 71 was most appropriate as it talks about God's constant help, how our lives are a testimony of what God has done for us, and how we can suffer hardships but be comforted. More tests will be done to determine the stage and treatment details. Again we've been open and honest with the kids, explaining that Team DuChene and Team Summerhays are in this together. We're starting down another road but we're on it and we'll get there, with them.
I've been asked to be the honorary chair for the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope, September 8. Initially we were planning to be at the Toronto Island Run as a family but I feel I'm meant to be involved with this event instead. I'll take a positive, broad, preventative approach, aiming to represent all cancers like I did, here for another great friend, Stacey, who works for the Canadian Cancer Society in BC. I have been able to see Stacey while racing in Vancouver the last few years and really look forward to this weekend. I can't wait to catch up in person with her, enjoy beautiful BC, and run another speedy half marathon. Here's an article on the upcoming race, "Friendly Rivalry Renewed at Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon".Lanni is also in tip-top form and we look forward to working together and running hard as a trial run for Worlds, Aug 10th.
Better get your copy of the newest Canadian Running Magazine . Ben Kaplan wrote a bit about my faith in his article, "Higher Power" and Natasha Wodak is looking great on the front. Also, you might see a bit more of me in iRun Magazine as I've agreed to write a regular column on life as a mom, registered dietitian, and elite marathoner. Should be fun!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Therapeutic Massage Counsel

Rachel, Darren, James, Clayton and I out on our long run along the Grand River trails. Coach Rick leading on the bike. Great tempo going on here!

Great book to read with the kids as we continue to mourn Andy's loss.

Placing some Saucony and Eload orders with my happy girl.

Ready to get this run going!

Cheers, Darren! Emend it is, two years in a row!

On long run days, particularly in the warmer weather, I often don't get hungry until late afternoon. And because we usually eat later on the weekend, I make myself a smoothie to get by. Here's one with kale, frozen berries, milk, pumpkin seed butter, protein powder, flax/chia/hemp, and Liberte Kefir and plain Greek yogurt.

Recently in an interview I was asked if anything is different in my training program than last year, given my faster times. I believe that being 2 years post birth, coached by Rick for a full year, improving my diet, and increasing my mileage, intensity, and cross-training have certainly benefited my performance. But one of the most significant changes to my routine is my weekly physiotherapy and massage treatments. In the past I knew this was something I would need to do at this level and thankfully, two extremely generous people made it happen through sponsorship.
Sherri (and her physio husband, Rob who initially diagnosed the problem) at Essential Physiotherapy & Wellness is the reason I was able to return to running. Her treatment of my pregnancy-related unbalanced pelvis  was key. I am so grateful for her!
Additionally, my weekly appointments with my Registered Massage Therapist, Cynthia at Therapeutic Massage Counsel, have also been significant in keeping me in fine order. Cynthia and I met for 10 consecutive weeks for Structural Integration , which I believe has greatly improved my posture and created a much more efficient gait. At each 1 hour appointment, Cynthia would work on one area the entire time. She alternated between upper and lower body parts each week. Initially I didn't know how she could spend her entire time on one area but she did. And she did so well! Before I got on the table, she would watch me walk, from the front and back. She'd work on me for about 10 minutes then get me walking again. This would continue for the entire duration. Many times I saw her a few hours after my long run so was a little sleepy, getting off the table. At the end of each appointment, I could honestly feel a difference. It wasn't significant in that I wasn't going in with some sort of pain that she eliminated but it was more of a feeling of being smooth, relaxed and efficient, particularly in the shoulders. Now that the 10 weeks is over, Cynthia will continue to watch me walk in her weekly assessment, maintain the work she did through the structural integration, and focus on the little aches and pains that are now starting to arise with the greater training. She has really taken a preventative approach, which is so critical. Too many times we make those panicked appointments before races, to work out the issues that could have been avoided. The best part was that, although much different, physio and massage treatments were very complimentary with the consistent on-going assessments and advice. There's nothing worse than one health-care provider telling you one thing, only to have the other one contradicting the first. This has never happened.
It's 9:45 pm and I'll be in bed soon. I ran 170 km this week and just loved every bit of it. I feel so refreshed and energized yet we continue to play it safe. It's tempting to take a jump in the mileage because I feel so great but we are going to stick with another 170 km, high quality week. Saturday's tempo in the middle of my long run with the group was great. We'll have more of those. And tomorrow I have a longer, speedy tempo on the treadmill that I've been looking forward to since finishing my run this morning! Another race in two weeks and still lots of work to do before Aug 10th! Steady.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Real Work

Enjoying the view of the Grand River in beautiful Paris, Ontario where I do my long runs. These runs are enjoyed with friends on soft gravel roads with scenic country farms, which remind me of my home farming community near Alvinston, ON.
Once in a while when daddy isn't home and I don't feel like cooking, I take the kids out to eat!

While I was dozing on the couch, recovering from a nasty stomach flu, poor Leah decided to also take a rest.

I know I've said it many times before and I will again. I'm so grateful for Maureen and Jeanetta at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre where I train. The boys are getting a bit old for the childcare but seemed to do ok Monday (PA Day), which is a good sign for my summer training. Hard to believe they've cared for each kid since birth! When leaving the gym after nearly 3 hours of training, I often say, "And now it's time for the real work"!

Each child has done this while I'm pushing the Chariot on a run. I think it's the cutest thing, which makes me think it's the Chariot's wings!

With Jonathan working early (and returning late) for three weeks, there's going to be a lot of miles logged with the Chariot. Today we did 26 km. You can see that Leah is equipped with several toys to keep her entertained. 

Recovery after the Ottawa 10 km was fairly smooth. I was glad to get in 30 km on Saturday in order to have a complete day off, Sunday. Monday morning I was back in the water for pool running and lengths, followed by my usual treadmill tempo workout. Wednesday was 16 x 400 m repeats with (click here) Natasha Yaremczuk (and here), who is coached by Rick and in Paris for the summer. It will be great to get to know her and train together. And Tuesday and Thursday I got in a 22 and 25 km run before 7:00 a.m. Thursday night I attended a Kenyan Kids Foundation information meeting and brainstorming event. It's quite exciting to learn about the three major areas of work - education, health care and farming, as well as the start of the Canadian foundation. I look forward to the many exciting events planned in the next year.  Friday was a steady run with time in the pool, and Saturday I had a great 40 km run with a great finish. Then later that day, I knew something was wrong when I wasn't hungry at my usual 5:00 pm. A few hours later I knew I had a nasty case of the stomach flu, which Leah had a few days prior. I must say that the timing made sense with the events of the last month. I was due for a bit of a crash. I had already logged a decent number of km's so wasn't too concerned about Sunday. I managed to total 160 km with an easy 12 km jog Sunday afternoon, after nibbles of honey toast and staying home from church with Leah, and Seth who also came down with stomach flu Sunday morning. After a shower and a simple dinner, I was in bed immediately after the kids. I slept from 8:45- pm - 7:00 a.m.!
Monday morning I was back in the pool and on the treadmill again. Funny how you can be wrapped around the toilet one day then running well again two days later! Guess my body just needed a good 24 hours to repair and restore! This week the plan is to log 170 km. Saturday will be a pace-specific long run with a tempo in the middle. Darren Lee and Rachel Hannah are joining me with Rick on the bike so it will be good.
This week and the next two are going to be busy. Jonathan is working long days, out of town so I can't get any early morning runs in during the week. That means I'll be taking Leah twice per week in the Chariot for 25 km runs. It's harder but makes me stronger. We are busy with end of the year school activities and I'm between racing (next race is Vancouver 1/2), when the real work is done, so it will be important to take extra care of myself.
I still haven't been to our normal church service since Andy died due to my cousin's wedding, my race and recent illness so I really look forward to it. Just yesterday, June 3rd was a tough day as it was 18 years since my dad died and we attended the visitation for my friend's dad who also died of cancer. 

James 1:2-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

Faith and Endurance

Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.