Tuesday, March 8, 2016

When My Kids Need Me, They Need Me.

After writing, "Krista DuChene on the 2016 Chilly Half Marathon" I was really hoping to have an exciting post race report. But unfortunately it is not the case this time.
Going into Sunday's race, my training proved I was fit. The mileage was appropriate and I was hitting workouts close to when I ran my PB of 1:10:52 in 2013.  I was told that the time to beat to make the World Half Marathon team was 1:13:13 and I knew it was definitely within my capability. I ran 1:14 earlier this year in January and training had only improved since then. Other than a slow 1:16 in February in Vancouver due to inclement weather, I was confident that I could get the job done. Then I got sick. Now, I'm not new to this sport and know that when one gets sick or injured, it can be an indication that you are in too deep. You push your body to the limit but sometimes it fights back, telling you to take it down a notch.
Enter the marathon mom explanation.
Feel free to quit reading if my parenting talk exhausts you. That is fine with me. Or, think about everything your mom did for you as a child. Because I am no different.
For reasons I don't feel necessary to explain, I have not slept well for the past two months due to being up in the night multiple times for multiple reasons with multiple kids (and at times, the dog!). It has been exhausting. Five days before the race I had that trickle in the throat that hinted something was up. I continued with my normal routine, tapering for Sunday's race, having solid afternoon naps, eating well, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting to bed in decent time. I even slept in our basement with earplugs for the two nights before the race. But it wasn't enough. I thought I was fighting this nasty virus that was going around, and went into the race refusing to make it known because a) I was denying it myself and 2) I was proud and didn't want people to think I was already giving an excuse for a bad race before even starting. The two indicators that proved I was sicker than I thought were 1) my resting heart rate was high, averaging about 39 all week. Normally it would be in the mid-30's. My RHR tells me lot about myself. 2) due to my pounding headache, I actually took something for it the night before the race. The last time I took any sort of pill for pain was 2 years ago when I had my stress fracture. That tells you something.
Race morning was uneventful; everything was routine and going well. The weather was absolutely perfect and my legs were fresh. I was close to target at 5 km but as the race progressed, I slowed. I felt like my effort was there but just didn't have the pop or the numbers to prove it. At some point in the race I started to think about my B goals. I still had my time from last year that might earn me a spot on the team, and I still wanted the win. Then at 17 km, Leslie Sexton made her move. She is training for Rotterdam and had the steady-pacing rhythm nailed perfectly. Her coach rode past me on his bike and my body just didn't respond. She gained a decent distance from me and secured a solid win. After crossing the line, I was pretty upset. I congratulated Leslie. She is one solid runner, starting to really make her mark. Normally I'd stick around for pictures and the like but this time I just wanted to change my shoes, do my cool down, and have a good cry. Immediately upon finishing my head was pounding and fellow Saucony runner and masters champ, Predrag came to the rescue when his wife found me an Advil. He was also right there for me when I broke my leg, two years ago. I was so desperate that I swallowed the pill dry before heading out for my cool down. Once I returned I found a quiet corner and let the tears flow with Coach Rick and Josie. I've had my share of letdowns but this one really stung. As a mom, you hear every cough, sniffle, sneeze, cry, moan, shriek, sigh, door close/open, toilet flush, and faucet run in the middle of the night. It is not something you can easily turn off. When my kids need me, they need me. My husband is an incredible dad who works hard to provide for us but when his head hits the hay, he hears nothing! My tears were flowing because even though I have learned to be better at saying no more than yes this year in order to put everything into my Olympic year, I still struggle. Making sacrifices is one thing. But trying to be a princess with perfect sleep, rest, nutrition, training, preventative maintenance etc. is another. It's tough, incredibly tough.
In a few days the announcement will be made for the World Half Marathon team and I will not be on the list. Running the Around the Bay 30 km race was always the alternative so that is the plan right now. I have a bit more time to get over this cold, do some decent workouts, and get out on one of my favourite courses. Can't go wrong with another local, high-class race! I've done it several times and it will be an excellent way to prove my fitness for Rio, and end my winter/spring season.
I was looking up some verses on disappointment to help encourage me and remembered my own words, "God's plan is better than mine.". Onward I go.

Checking the watch. Photo credit: Fleur-Ange Lamothe.

Stretching out the arms. Photo credit: Fleur-Ange Lamothe.

Striking some sort of pose. Photo credit: Fleur-Ange Lamothe.

#TeamDuChene,  a great cheer-up after a bad race!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

2016 Chilly Half Marathon

The 2016 Chilly Half Marathon is quickly approaching. On March 6, runners in Burlington will be racing for various reasons: a rust buster after holiday indulging, a training run in preparation for a spring marathon, a fitness test after time off from injury or illness, or in my case, a chance to make the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships (WHMC) team.
Last year at this event, Reid Coolsaet ran 1:03:37, which still stands as the fastest qualifying time for the men’s WHMC team. At the time, he was using it as a sharpener for the 2015 Rotterdam Marathon where he would be aiming to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which he did. I too was using it for the same reason, and also successfully met the Canadian standard, which was announced a few weeks after we competed. But last year’s Chilly Half was even more significant for me as it was the first half marathon I raced since fracturing my femur at the Montreal/Canadian Championships Half Marathon just over 10 months before. After crossing the line in 1:14:01 on that brisk morning in Burlington, I clearly remember putting my arm in the air, elated and grateful, knowing I still had it. I was overcome with emotion as I realized that I hit my target exactly, and knew that with six more weeks of training I would be able to attack the Olympic marathon standard with complete confidence. It is a memory I will cherish for a long time.
The only other time I raced the Chilly Half Marathon was in 2012 (read about it here). It too was a significant year. Our daughter, who I was still breastfeeding, turned 1 that day. And after racing a strong Around the Bay race a few weeks later, my coach and I decided to compete in the Rotterdam Marathon as a stab at the 2012 Olympic Games Marathon standard. I ended up running 2:32, taking 7 minutes off my personal best but it wasn’t enough for the required 2:29:55. But 2012 became the year I put myself out there. I became a serious contender, able to compete at an international level. And the Chilly Half was a big part of that.
The Chilly Half Marathon is an excellent event for runners of all types. For me as a parent, it is ideal because it is close to home; I can be there and back with my family in half of a day. This year we will be celebrating my daughter’s 5th birthday once I return. Racing locally also allows me to avoid lengthy travel, eat my own food, and sleep in my own bed the night before. For me as an elite athlete looking for a fast time, the course is certified, record and ranking eligible, and flat with an out-and-back layout, my preferred type of race. While you can experience some wind off the lake when returning to the finish, the support from the other runners on their way out is motivational and encouraging.
In preparing for this event, I started with a similar build to last year by racing the same 10 km and 10 mile races in December. But instead of the 8 km race I would normally do in January and because I didn’t race a fall marathon due to a fractured metatarsal in my foot, I moved up to the half marathon distance right away. I completed the half marathon in Houston in January, and Vancouver in February. I didn’t expect to run personal best times at these races but knew I needed them to build my strength and fitness to have a spring minor peak before my summer major peak in preparation for Rio. I’ve averaged 125 km/week for a few months with plenty of cross training, weekly interval workouts and tempo runs, and most long runs of 30 km. The numbers are there and I believe I am ready for a solid race, particularly if the weather cooperates.
With “Chilly” in the race name, one can expect less than ideal weather conditions but based on the relatively mild Ontario winter we’ve had so far, I and many others are likely approaching it with optimism. If it is a cold and windy day, I’ll likely wear arm warmers or a thin layer under my singlet with a hat and gloves. Regardless, I will be in shorts with my usual compression socks as I find anything longer restricts my knee drive. Fortunately one can get away with wearing less clothing on race day as opposed to a training run because you heat up quickly with exertion, have the benefit of adrenaline, and if you are cold it can motivate you to run faster to get it over with sooner!
As for sport nutrition, if one uses gels, you should plan to ingest the same amount you normally would in such an event, regardless of the weather. As for hydration on a winter day, drinking less liquid would be appropriate as opposed to more when racing in hot and humid conditions. For me, I have an early light breakfast and hydrate well before the race so will likely skip the water stations but consume 3 gels, particularly because of a later 10:05 am start.
For those looking for a shorter race, consider the Frosty 5k that is also also a flat, fast, out and back course.
To all running, for whatever reason, have a wonderful race. Hope to see you smiling at the finish line with your arm in the air!