Injuries: Part of the Marathon Journey?

As some of you who are reading this already know, I was 8 weeks into an 18 week marathon training plan when I got injured. This is my first time with an injury since I began running 10 years ago. I was hopping off of a curb and the drop was a bit more than I anticipated. I landed funny and felt spasms and twinges like fireworks in my back. Then I felt my left hip drop. I hobbled home. I started seizing up and could barely walk. I went to a chiropractor the next morning in tears over what was going on. That week there was a lot of chiro, massage, icing and Epsom salt baths. I noticed small improvements, but was still unable to walk properly and had no idea what was really wrong with me.

I found an amazing physiotherapist who diagnosed me with SI joint dysfunction. My pelvis was maligned and the left side was basically locked in a forward tilted position. The injury was from the incident, but was also part of the fact that I was and currently am breastfeeding a 9 month old baby – my relaxin-filled body = loose ligaments, and I neglected my core and pelvic floor after having two kids and trying to run 100km+ per week on a regular basis. Recovery was almost non-existent between running, taking care of a baby and a toddler and the lack of sleep that comes with all of that.

I was happy to have an answer, and a PT who is also a runner and could relate to me on that level too. I did my stretching and strengthening routines religiously. I didn’t want all of my training to be wasted, but I knew the longer it took to heal, the less likely a marathon would be. I’m so thankful for the team that helped put my body back together again (and for dry needling!). I’m also thankful for the support of friends, family and Oiselle Volee teammates who have been so supportive throughout this journey. It really does take a village!

It’s been two months since the injury happened and I’ve been cleared to run for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty solid runs and have made the decision to stick with my plan to run the Ottawa Marathon at the end of May. My goal is to qualify for Boston at the marathon, it always was. Before I got injured, I was running faster than I ever have and was secretly aiming for a 3:05 marathon. I’ve scaled that back and have decided that I will be satisfied with anything that gets me to Boston. I’ll explain the significance of this goal in my next post.

Already Thinking About Post-Baby Running

As a runner, I love hearing about other runner’s races, seeing pictures of them showing off their race bling that they worked so hard to achieve, but lately, I’ve been so sad that I am unable to join in on the fun.

It’s been -40C with the windchill where I live for way too many days in a row, so unless someone decided to host a treadmill running race, you won’t find me participating – also of fear of falling on ice. By the time spring rolls around, and the fall, which are my two common racing times, I’ll be nearing the end of my pregnancy, and in the fall, just getting back to running (as long as my doctor clears me as quickly as my first pregnancy).

A lot of people don’t let pregnancy hold them back from racing, but by the time race season rolls in around here, I can’t even guarantee I will be running. With Odin, I ran a charity 5k at 25 weeks pregnant, and the was the last day I ran until being cleared by my doctor one month after he was born. I’m running a charity 5k when I’m 25 weeks again this time around when I’m in San Francisco for work, but I miss half marathons. I actually miss training schedules and long runs. At the same time, after a bumpy road, I’m so thankful to be pregnant, let alone still running as this pregnancy progresses.

My ‘post-baby-exercise-plan’ is to train for my first full marathon. A few weeks before I got pregnant this time around, I ran a 1:34:01 half marathon. It seems silly to already plan out the races I want to do once this baby is born, but if you know me, this probably wouldn’t surprise you. I would like to run the 2016 Nike Womens Half Marathon, plan for a fall marathon or Ottawa Race weekend in spring 2017, which will hopefully lead to a Boston qualifying time.

It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s something I’ve dreamed of a lot these past few years. When I thought I was miscarrying again 6 weeks into this pregnancy, I had a total meltdown and started to plan my marathon training, because if I wasn’t having a baby, I was going to be running a marathon. Thankfully after a hospital visit and a lot of tests, I found out everything was fine and that I would be saving my marathon training for a later date – this way I have two little ones to push in the jogger and make me stronger to tackle Heartbreak Hill in a couple of years 😉

A Look Back at Running in 2014

Looking back on 2014 (from a running perspective), I would never have expected anything that happened this year – it seems too surreal. From joining the Oiselle Flock to running a 1:34:01 half marathon, I’ve surprised myself and have been so thankful for what running brought to my life this year. Personally, 2014 was one of the toughest years of my life. Running helped keep me focused and even keeled when times got really tough.

This year I started to truly love running. Getting up at 4:30am almost every weekday sounds terrible to many, but that’s what I did to get my runs in. I can’t recall a single day this year where I felt that I didn’t want to run or that I didn’t like it. When I started running back in 2006, all I wanted to do was run a 5k. Then quickly I wanted to run a half marathon. When people asked me if I wanted to run a full marathon, I usually said no, or that I would run one eventually just to say I did.

In 2014, I made the decision that I will run a full marathon, and would ideally like to qualify for Boston on my first attempt. It’s a lofty goal, but I feel like I can achieve it. When I ran my first half marathon in 2007, I was happy with a 2 hour finish. I decided then that My ultimate goal would be to break 1:45. After a few attempts and two finishes around the 1:47 mark, I felt like breaking 1:45 had become my ‘ultimate goal’ for the half marathon.

I took time off from racing to have my son, and got back into running as soon as I was cleared by my doctor. I ran with no expectations. My runs were fit in between feeding sessions and naps, which also meant that most of my runs were done with a jogging stroller in front of me. Being on maternity leave for a year enabled me to run quite a bit. Upon my return to work, I wasn’t sure how much running I could expect from myself (see the 4:30am wake up time above), but as time went on and my passion for running continued to expand, I realized I would be able to properly train for another half marathon. I also got exposed to an amazing community of female runners this year through Oiselle and the Flock. Being connected to such a passionate group of runners has kept my spark shining.

I remember a day in April when I was in a bad mood, wasn’t feeling the greatest, and I went for a run. I had no plan for my run, no distance or pace expectations. I just kept running. Before I knew it, I was approaching 20km, and I couldn’t believe the numbers I saw on my Garmin. I finished 21.1km that day in 1:37 and change. This number is significantly lower than the 1:45 time I had set as my goal for the longest time. A few months later, I went out for a run, similar in the sense that I had no expectations, and finished 21.1km in 1:34:57. I couldn’t believe what was happening. These paces were the fastest ones I’d ever run in my life.

The Canada Army Run half marathon was in September and I finished with a time of 1:34:01, which probably would have been a bit faster had it not started to downpour once I got to kilometre 15. I was ecstatic when I finished, but of course, I started getting my mind wrapped around running a sub 1:30 half marathon – which has become my new ‘ultimate running goal’ (for half marathons).

All of these results are part of my running journey, and even though I started running 8 years ago, I feel like I’m just getting started. I can’t wait to get started on my journey to a full marathon, and ultimately Boston. For now, I will be satisfied with the opportunity I had to run the Newton Hills/Heartbreak Hill and visit the place where I will one day run:

Boston Marathon