Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Breaking Bones

Yep, I've done it again. I broke another bone.
Since last writing, I just nicely started to get into the thick of my marathon build for the October 18 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. On August 9, I did the Fergus 10 km, which was a good kick in the pants. I had an excellent base with a great cross training routine and was succeeding in completing the mileage with appropriate long runs but wasn’t quite hitting the interval and tempo workouts. I knew, when entering the race that it would not be fast. Add the bad time of the month, a 30 km long run three days prior, and a hilly course and you get 10 km at a pace slower than marathon pace. I let it go but knew it was time to get down to business. With 10 weeks to go, it was time to focus and push a bit harder to increase the quality of my running. Consequently, I then had a great 160 km week, which included a solid 6x1.2km workout and a personal best treadmill tempo/long run of 40 km@3:57/km with 13k@3:35/km. Then on Monday, at the end of an easy run, I stepped on a rock. When going over it, it hurt and felt like it was happening in slow motion. But I easily made it home and didn't think much of it. It was a bit sore to walk for the first few steps when getting up after sitting but otherwise seemed fine. On Wednesday, I completed a solid 6x1 km workout, more or less mentioned the sore foot in passing to Rick, and looked forward to a well-deserved day off and taper for the August 23 Edmonton Half Marathon. Still, just a bit of pain. It wasn't until my Friday physiotherapy treatment when I realized it was an issue. Both Paul and Patricia determined that the pain was coming from a bone in my foot. It was an easy discovery when they simply pressed on that specific bone, from the top. Very specific pain. Coach Rick was there during my treatment session and we agreed that I had to make the call. If it didn't improve, and got worse, we had a red flag. So I boarded my flight to Edmonton and decided that my easy pre-race day run would be the determining factor. I was so glad to have my good friend Mary Davies as my roommate. It's tough to go through these things alone and away from home. On Saturday we did an 8 km with a few pick ups in the morning and I knew my answer. When I saw elite coordinator, Brian Torrance, I asked him what I would do if I had to drop out of the race. Not a good sign. I emailed Rick that my foot now hurt with running, and was even worse with the strides. I couldn't even imagine putting on racing flats as I knew the walking pain was more while barefoot than with shoes.  So, like a good coach, Rick kindly recommended that I not start. The truth hurt. It took most of the day to process it, going through the denial and anger, fully knowing it may mean changes for my fall marathon. As the day progressed, I chatted more with Mary about it, and enjoyed dinner out with her and Rhiannon Johns, also in Edmonton to race the half. Later that evening, I finally informed Brian and Rick that I would not start. A long way to go to not even start a race. But I was certainly not having another out-of-province-run-a-half-marathon-break-a-bone-requiring-surgery repeat. No thank you. So on Sunday morning I headed to the start line to cheer for Mary and the others and assist John Stanton and the race crew with some announcing and giving medals at the awards ceremony. After the race, I had a nice walk back to the hotel with the women, including getting to know the race winner, Jess Petersson. I then said good-bye to Mary and struggled through a long and teary day, travelling back to Brantford, finally arriving home at 1:00 am. Rick had already been in contact with Dr. Dill who I would see first thing the next day. Monday morning I had an X-ray, which was normal then later a bone scan, which clearly showed a problem. I've never looked at ultrasounds or X-rays like I know anything but this time it was very obvious to my untrained eye. Trouble. The nuclear medicine chief and orthopedic surgeon met to review the results and it was determined that I had an acute break, likely from the rock, rather than a stress fracture. So, Rick, Dr. Dill and I had yet another conversation about my return to running. It certainly wasn't as serious as my 2014 femur fracture. In fact, Dr. Dill explained that an acute fracture often heals much quicker than a chronic stress fracture. So, we decided to postpone any racing decisions, meet again in two weeks, and focus on cross training with pool and bike workouts similar to my training plan. It's kinda crazy that I could walk out of the appointment with no limp, looking completely normal. When I came home and told the kids, it was almost like, "Ya, another broken bone. So what's for dinner and can we go swimming now?". So we headed to the pool and I started my two week non-running training plan. No use in feeling sorry for myself. As a believer, I know we don't always get what we want nor do we ever need to understand why these things happen. I told the kids that God can use us in different ways and even though it's odd, I can keep breaking bones and having great comebacks to give Him the glory. Again, I have peace about this and am only seeing this as the glass half full. I know I have been known as the marathon mom who got faster with 3 kids. Now with a third broken bone (fractured ribs in 2013), we will have to see if I am now also the marathoner who got faster after 3 broken bones. 

Fergus 10 km. Image: Tony Saxon, Mercury Staff. Story here. 

Coach Rick's athletes after Kip completed the Edmonton Half Marathon. Great job, Kip! 

L to R: Jess Draskau-Petersson (from Denmark, living in Colorado), myself, Mary Davies (from New Zealand, living in Houston) and Rhiannon Johns (from Canada, living in Indianapolis) after the Edmonton Half Marathon. Way to go, 1(Jess)-2(Mary)-3(Rhiannon)!

Beautiful scenery we enjoyed from downtown Edmonton.

What a great friend! Great race today, Mary. You are in the perfect spot for your fall marathon!
Pathetic-looking ice apparatus but it gets both top and bottom of the foot. Ice, time and x-training is about all I can do now.

Family selfie taken to cheer me up while on my way home from Edmonton. 
Micah broke his arm in July. Enough DuChene broken bones!

A love/hate relationship with this road now? This is where I returned to running in August 2014, after my femur fracture and where I stepped on the rock, breaking my foot in August 2015.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Summertime: Marathon Training and the Pan Am Games

Here I sit, again in my happy place at the cabin amongst hundreds of beautifully mature trees, a sunny sky and peaceful breeze. Life is grand. Simple. Adored. I love this place. 
Last year I spent a significant amount of time here with the kids and my sister’s family as my husband was travelling a lot for work and I was transitioning from rehabilitation to base training after my injury. The combination of steady exercise and easy parenting with plenty of rest and relaxation was perfect. Everyone was happy; I could do a mix of running, swimming, cycling, and visiting with my sister while the kids could play freely all over the grounds with their cousins. It was a summer I will never forget, particularly because it started with a mere shuffle and ended with my first complete run, confirming my heart’s desire and body’s ability to go back after that 2016 Olympic marathon standard. And on April 12, 2015 in Rotterdam, Netherlands I ran my second fastest marathon ever, in 2:29:38, making that dream a reality. It was incredible. I was elated. Emotionally it took about 2 months to recover from the events of the previous year but I patiently waited until my mind and body was ready to commit to another training build. Unfortunately this meant that I had to forego competing for Canada at the July Toronto Pan Am Games and August Bejing World Championships. Naturally, a marathon six months later in October would be a perfect fit so it was a no-brainer to choose the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. And once again there were so many other great reasons to compete in this event: no travel, less time away from home, nearby for spectating family and friends, an IAAF gold label, a competitive field, excellent care, our national championship, and my “home” marathon. Paul Gains wrote an excellent press release for Alan Brookes and the Canada Running Series. Read it here. 
I am now in week four of my sixteen week build and fairly successfully replicating last summer’s positive experience, splitting time between home and the cabin. I’m back to running in the country, riding my bike in the cabin, swimming with the kids, and loving the time spent with my sister and her family. I will have averaged nearly 135 km and 15 h total training (run, bike, pool) per week for the month with the usual tempo, interval and long run sessions. I continue to take care of myself with a daily 30 minute preventative maintenance routine, and weekly physiotherapy and massage treatments. Coach Rick and I feel I am right where I need to be. 

On June 30 I opened my season with a 5 km rust buster race and succeeded in running a bit faster than goal marathon race pace with a 17:05, placing second overall (first woman). The Peachbud race in Grimsby was an excellent family event and it's always so special to remember the late Race Director, Jerry Friesen. Due to some heavy traffic, we were a bit delayed in our arrival. So I did my warm up, back and forth along the 1 km fun run route while cheering for Seth and Leah who were competing. For my cool down, I switched my shoes and ran with Micah as he raced the 5 km. Jonathan was support crew for the night, cheering us on, taking pictures, carrying gear and getting us to our various start lines in time.   

Here we go again. Another DQ Peanut Buster Parfait before starting a new season free of sweets! Oh, it was sooooo good.

All smiles for Seth.
Micah nearing the finish line for a new 5 km PB of 26:48. 

Go, Leah! 

Sporting the new Smith sunglasses. Love 'em. I'm so pleased to be partnered with them!

Team DuChene
So pleased to be part of Smith Optics.

Pan Am Games

Even though I wouldn't be participating in the Toronto Pan Am Games, I was honoured and privileged to be selected to carry the torch as part of the relay that went through Brantford on June 19. What a fun experience! It was a bit of a hectic morning because I had to train, feed and arrange childcare for the kids who would watch my part on route, and meet them in Harmony Square afterwards for the festivities. But we succeeded. With Mr. Walter Gretzky and several others from Brantford, the torch bearers were instructed in how to receive, carry and pass the torch. We did a little fun warm up to the Pan Am theme song and took pictures before loading the bus. Fortunately we got to hop off to watch Mr. Gretzky pass the torch to figure skater Mary Orr who did a short performance with her partner on the ice at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre. What a thrill. There were a lot of spectators in the building and it was near deafening with the enthusiasm from so many. Eventually it was my turn. The plan was to do the 2.5 km "endurance leg" at about 5 min/km but I ended up running closer to 4 min/km! I must say it felt somewhat like a race with the adrenaline and that the torch was much heavier than I thought. I had to switch arms several times, while keeping it from singeing my hair. Celebrating afterwards with autograph signing, local sport performances, music, games and other forms of entertainment made for a wonderful afternoon. I was ready for bed that night! 
Day 20 video here with Brantford at about 2:40.
And here's the link to the 100 Huntley Street report from the 2015 Pan Am Games, which aired July 20. They followed my story from July 2014 to July 2015.

Mr. Walter Gretzky loves his Brantford.

What a great experience. Photo: Sean Allen, Brant News.

All Saucony at the cabin. Family.
Coach Rick and I will again keep it simple with races leading up to the October 18 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM). I plan to do the Fergus Highland Games 10 k on August 9 and the Edmonton Half Marathon on Aug 23. Until then, I'll keep plugging away with juggling the kids and training while enjoying my wonderful surroundings.