Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another race, another carbo-load

Believe it or not, eating bagel after bagel gets boring after awhile. Today I had my last run before my race. It was tough deciding if I should run 10 miles or cut it short. I haven't run longer than 8 miles since my race as I've been recovering. This week I would have done longer runs but with a 50K race coming up, it doesn't make much sense to do a long run.

I played it smart and ran just over 8 miles and I think it was the right decision. It amazes me that I keep forgetting how hard running 50K really is. I've been fortunate enough to do many of them but the reality is that it's longer than a marathon. In the past, when I was training to run a marathon, I approached "race week" quite differently. Now that I'm becoming more experienced, I feel like I could run a marathon or more every week if I needed to. It's amazing how quickly my body seems to respond to the extra mileage.

When I made the decision to run for distance over speed, I seemed to relax more than ususal and that has helped me with my running. I no longer go into a race thinking about beating a particular time. In fact, there was a point in the Seaton race, where I took Diane off the course to show her some of the lookout points at the Seaton trail. That is something you would rarely see at a road race.

During these next two days I'll be resting and eating more carbohydrates to get ready for my 50K race on Saturday. I have no idea how long it will take me but the longer I can stay out on the course, the better it will prepare me for the 100 miler in a few weeks. There is a good chance it will rain on Saturday so that will just add to the fun I'm sure.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On the trails again......

Today was my first trail run since my race in the Seaton trail 10 days ago. I have been taking it easy running mostly on the roads more out of convenience than any other reason. Instead of running in the Seaton today, I ran in the Rouge instead. This is my 2nd favorite place to run in but it seems like months since I have been there. Compared to the Seaton, I find it easier to run in as it isn't as technical but there are still some challenging climbs throughout the course which makes it tough.

It was so nice to return to my "roots" and what made it even more special was when I saw a deer once again. There is nothing more breathtaking than seeing one of these magnificent animals in the wild. That site alone is worth getting up at 4:30 in the morning.

I was able to retell my Seaton story to Ken during our run today and it reminded me of how special that run truly was. As I prepare for my first 100 mile race at the end of May, I'll cling to those memories and will use them to motivate me when it gets tough to concentrate. I'm treating this race as more of an adventure than anything else. I know that if I relax and have fun with it I'll be fine. As soon as I start to overthink what I'm trying to do then I know I'll be done for.

My legs feel very good and I think that I've fully recovered from my last race and I should be good to go for Saturday's 50K. This race won't be on trails (unfortunately) so the hardest part about it will be staying focused. I'll be using music throughout and I hope to complete the race in 5 hours or less.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Is it April or December?

After taking the last three days off to rest my legs, I was back at it this morning at 5 AM. I didn't really have much of a choice as far as running this weekend anyway because I was watching my 2 boys. However, the three of us did get to go one of my favorite places, the Rouge for a little trail walk. The days off allowed my body to finish healing from my 50 Mile race. As stubborn as I can be, I know that I probably would have run this weekend if I didn't have my kids and that probably wouldn't have been the wisest of decisions. I was able to do about an hour of weight training on Saturday morning.

As for the run this morning, did someone forget to tell the weather man that's it's almost May? I was able to run in shorts, a long sleeve technical shirt and jacket but I had to wear gloves as it was pretty cold outside. Throw in the 35 KM wind gusts and rain, and I thought it was December for a second. On the bright side, I did see a Fox when I was running this morning. We both looked at each other for a brief moment and then we both took off. I usually run into rabbits, skunks, squirrels, deers, beavers and dogs, but this was my first fox sighting.

I've been slowly increasing my weekday runs as I'm in between races right now. I will be using my upcoming 50K race as more of a tune-up for my 100 mile race at the end of May. In all likelihood, this will be my longest run before the 100 mile race although I may try to sneak in a long trail run if I can.

It's amazing how out of shape I "feel" when I take more than one day off from running. Whenever I don't run it's like a part of me feels cheated somehow. I will continue to run up until Wednesday at which point I'll do a mini carbohydrate loading program.

I've had so many people approach me about Isagenix and the effectiveness of the program. Those who know me will attest to the fact that I would not endorse a product that I didn't believe in. When I did my last cleanse I really feel it gave me the mental preparation I needed to complete my first 50 Mile trail race. I plan on doing it again before the 100 miler at the end of May. For anyone who needs a kick-start to their eating plan or who wants to lose 7-10 pounds, I urge you to consider the 9 or 30 day Isagenix Detox plan.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Races, races, everywhere I turn!

The Ontario Ultra Series (OUS) started with my first race last weekend and the races continue until the middle of October. There are 13 races that I could enter between now and then but I'll probably do at least 1/2 of them. That works out to at least 1per month. The best part is that because there are so many available races, I don't have to do long training runs. Instead I can run shorter distances during the week and then focus on the races.

For example, next weekend I will be doing a 50K race. Unfortunately it won't be on trails but it will still be nice to see many of the familiar faces that I saw at the Seaton race. I will use this race as a tune-up for my 100 mile race which comes at the end of May. In between these races I will do some shorter trail runs to stay in shape.

Today I had the pleasure of teaching a client how to run. She did an amazing job and I can see her eventually doing longer runs in the near future. Today reminded me of the first time I ran. I didn't have the proper shoes or clothes and I didn't know anything about what kind of running form I should do. Maybe that was a good thing as I simply fell into what "seemed" comfortable for me. I know that the biggest trick to running is to relax and try not to become too mechanical. As my client progresses through each hurdle that I give her, I know she will begin to get even stronger and stronger. Who knows, maybe she'll complete her own 50 Mile race someday.

Great work Karen!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why run a 100 mile race?

When I finished running the 50 mile race last Saturday I was asked by so many of the trail runners when I was going to attempt my first 100 mile race. Most of them encouraged me to do so because they said that I had done well for my first 50 and that I was in shape physically to do so. Running a 100 mile race was something that I actually never thought about doing because I hate running at night (LOL). However, I was so surprised at how quickly my body bounced back after running the 50 that I said "why not try it?"

As soon as I made the decision to run the Sulphur 100 Mile race, I was encouraged by even more of my fellow trail running friends. I was lucky to get an email from one runner who is also attempting his first 100 mile race at Sulphur and we have agreed to run the race together. This will help to take the pressure off and honestly I'm going into this race as I did with my first 50 which is just to finish. I have 30 hours to complete this race and I'll likely need all of those. I also know that there have been much better runners than me who have tried many times to run a 100 mile trail race but who haven't suceeded yet.

Between now and the 26th of May, I'll do some practice running at night. I'll probably set my alarm for 1 AM and do a 10 mile run just so my body can get used to the idea of running that early in the morning. I'm also going to try and get a practice run in at Sulphur so I can get used to the conditions there.

During my 5 AM run today, my hands got really cold so I know I'll have to purchase some thin gloves as I'm sure the temperature will drop dramatically at my race. The one thing I'm most fearful of is having my core temperature drop too low during my race. I'll have to bring at least one or two changes of clothes for my race and most likely will go through two pairs of trail shoes as well. I noticed that after the Seaton race my new trail shoes already have holes in them. This will be my last pair of Brooks Cascadias as I simply cannot afford to keep buying a new pair of trail shoes for each race/run that I do. If anyone can recommend a more sturdy trail shoe, please let me know.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good run today

Today I wanted to test the legs and see what kind of "juice" I had in them. I realized quite quickly that I wasn't about to set any distance records as my legs felt a little heavy. Overall I was pleased with my 10K run and it was just nice to get out there after taking the last 3 days off.

Having never run a 50 mile race before, I had no idea what kind of recovery plan I should follow. While there are literally dozens of 50 mile training programs on the internet, I had a hard time finding any recovery plans. I guess with ultra marathoners you don't need a recovery plan.

Now that I've made the decision to run the 100 mile race at Sulphur I won't have to do much training for distance between now and then. I'll do a 30k or 50 K run next weekend but that will be my last long run until the 26th of May which is the day of the race.

Tomorrow I'll do a similar run as today and then probably take the weekend off to get more rest. I may do a light weight training workout on Friday and I'm sure I'll be sore as I haven't done any weight training in the past three weeks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ready to go again

I cannot believe how quickly I've been able to heal from the race on Saturday. It looks like all those runs in the winter really helped prepare me. I'm going to do my first post 50 mile run tomorrow (just don't tell my kids ok?) as I feel the need to run. I'll just run for fun tomorrow and for the rest of the week. I'll only go as far as I feel I want to.

I'm seriously thinking about doing a 100 mile race and maybe even sooner than expected. I will discuss with a few ultra runners that I know, but if I get the green light from them, I may do the 100 mile race in Sulphur Springs at the end of May. I want to make sure that I'm not pushing myself too much too soon and I know it will much harder to duplicate what I did on Saturday. I also realize that there have been better runners than me who have attempted the 100 miler and failed. As with the 50 miler, I won't know if I can do it until I try to do it. There may never be a "right" time but the way I'm feeling now, it may be that the right time is now for me. I should know in a week or two.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Now what do I do?

When I woke up this morning it finally hit me that my training has finished and my goal was accomplished. I'm someone who needs to live goal to goal so I have a few more races planned for the spring and summer months. They include at least 2 more 50mile trail races, an endurance race (either 6 or 12 hours, not sure which one yet) and possibly a marathon.

My immediate goal is just to heal myself from this weekend. My kids made me promise them that I wouldn't run until Thursday so that's what I'll do. I'll probably start doing some light biking over the next two days so my legs can recover quicker.

It is a little bit of a downer knowing that my training has finished as I looked forward to each run as I used it to build momentum for my race. After talking with several experienced ultra runners on the weekend, I realized that I don't need to do much training between races right now. My training was done in the winter months. Now I can use the runs to sharpen up different areas and then I should be fine for the races.

For example, my next 50 mile race will be at Sulphur Springs in May but I probably won't do anything longer than a 30K run between now and then. That doesn't mean I'll stop running but I can be smarter about my running between now and then.

I don't think I'll have any difficulty taking the next few days off from running as I have too many blisters right now anyway. I'll take these days to reflect on what I did right and what I did wrong during my last race and then I'll have a strategy ready for the next time I run.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mission accomplished

Today, finally, I can call myself an Ultra Marathoner!

The day started out as it usually does before a run, I had my normal pre-race tea with banana. I decided that today I needed a little more inspiration so I put on one of my favorite movies, Forrest Gump, and jumped to the scene where he is sitting on his porch and contemplating life. Just then he gets up and starts running. That part of the movie, to me, sums up my life and sometimes I wish I could just run forever.

I headed over to the race at 6:30 and was greeted by many of my trail friends, all of whom knew that I was doing my first 50 Mile race. They all offered support and encouragement.

At 7:00 AM we started running and I knew right away that this was going to be a very special day. I purposely didn't listen to music for the first lap (26 K) as I wanted to save my music for when I really needed it. I ran a little faster than I had wanted to, but I felt really good so I just went with it. I decided not to take any scheduled walk breaks and instead just walked the hills and ran the flat parts. The Seaton Trail has 6 climbs so it worked out perfectly for the first lap anyway.

Two amazing friends were volunteering at the race and when I saw them for the first time it gave me so much energy. I really can't thank them enough for being there because it made me look forward to seeing them and that kept me going. When I got to the turnaround point of the first loop, I realized that I would be coming back there two more times. I realized that I better start to slow down a little which is what I did.

Along the way back from the first loop I ran into a good friend and she asked me if I wanted her to run with me for my final lap. It didn't take me long to say, "YES!"
Knowing that she would be there for the final lap again made me look forward to something very special. Diane is an amazing trail runner and I was able to spend some time with her and Henri, her boyfriend, who I call the "Ultra Power Couple." They both are tremendous runners and I've learned so much from both of them.

I finished my first loop in just over 3 hours which was faster than I was planning on going. I knew that if I wanted to finish strong, I better slow it down. I put my music on for the first time and that seemed to energize me quite a bit. At the same time, I was also trying to remember to go slower. I knew that at some point I was going to hit that wall of pain but I just didn't know when.

The 2nd loop actually went pretty well and I managed to stay pretty strong throughout. One of the things that really helped me was salted potatoes. I had one of these towards at the halfway point of the 2nd loop and that really gave me plenty of energy. At this point I was getting tired of taking my gels and the thought of another one would have made me sick. I decided not to take anymore after I had that potato. Unfortunately they were the only aid station that had those potatoes so each time I stopped and looked for them, I couldn't find them. I used bananas, chips and watermelon for the rest of the race.

I reached the end of the 2nd loop at 6 hours and 40 minutes. Diane was waiting there for me and after refilling my water and electrolyte drink we were off. I felt very tired for the last loop and ended up walking quite a bit at the start. Eventually I would start to feel a little better and was able to run a little more. I had to stop to go to the bathroom about 4 times and during the river crossing I took a faceplant into the water. My legs were very rubbery at that time but the cool water seemed to help.

Diane asked me if this was now the longest run either in terms of distance or time that I've ever done and it made me realize that yes this was. By this time I was 8 hours into the race and had run close to 65K's. Running on the roads is one thing, but running in the trails adds another dimension. My longest training run was 5 hours and my longest race was a 50K trail race in Haliburton, so this was all uncharted waters for me. Although I had to walk quite a bit, it never entered my mind that I wasn't going to finish. Diane and I talked about everything in our lives and this really helped while we were running.

We reached the final turnaround point with plenty of time to spare. I needed to be at this point within 10 hours or I would be disqualified. I was just over 8 hours so I knew that no matter what, I was going to finish this race. I felt stronger on the way back home and was able to run a little more than at the start of this loop. I'm sure knowing that I would be done soon helped.

Diane asked me what my goals were and I told her that finishing was the first goal, under 11 hours was the 2nd goal and my dream goal was 10 hours. I knew that I was going to hit my first goal so it was just a matter of what other goal I was going to achieve. As I hit the 10 hour mark I still had another 5 K's left to go. Unfortunately my garmin watch died as I realized that the battery life is only good for 10 hours. My dream goal was not going to be reached but finishing under 11 hours was still there for the taking. I was able to find enough strength, even after running for so long, to pick up my speed a little bit.

There was a runner who was ahead of me for most of the race. Everytime I got closer to him he started to pick it up a little which was demoralizing. At this point in the race I needed something to motivate me and he was it. Eventually I was able to pass him and that gave me a huge boost of confidence.

I crossed the finish line at 10:54 and I was greeted by applause by the runners who were still there. I gave Diane a huge hug and the moment hit me that I had just run my first 50 mile race on one of the toughest courses in the series. So many people congratulated me and it was very overwhelming.

All those runs in the winter really paid off and I am very proud of what I have accomplished. Without missing a beat I was asked by so many people what my next goal is going to be. I told them that I want to run another 50 mile race. I was encouraged by many to run a 100 mile race. I may just do that........

A special thanks go out to Diane, Karen, Christy, Alleth and Janell. You women made this day extremely special to me and I'll never forget that.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's only a day away..........

With apologies to "Annie."

The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Just thinkin' about
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!

When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,

The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're always
A day
A way!

I finally got a good nights sleep last night which is good thing because typically the night before a race I don't get much sleep. Today will be filled with lots of positive thoughts, feelings and emotions. I've already got the two movies picked out for today (Remember the Titans and Rudy) and my food is close at hand. I will make sure that my last meal is exactly 12 hours before the start of my race which means I'll have a big pasta dinner at about 6:00 PM. This will give my body a chance to fully digest the meal and will also allow me to run on close to an empty stomach in the morning.

I'm going to make a bunch of pancakes and then put them in plastic bags and use them during my race. I find them very easy to digest and they provide just the right amount of carbohydrates for me.

I want to thank everyone for their support during these last 5 months of training. If anyone is interested in coming to cheer me on at the finish line, please contact me and I will give you the information.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I was the kid that others made fun of!

Yesterday I decided to take my kids out for dinner. Since I'm carbo-loading and I usually don't eat out that often, I figured it would be a good time to take them. Of course they picked their favorite and my least favorite restaurant, the Imperial Buffet. One of the reasons why I hate that place so much isn't just because the food is of low quality, it's also because I see so many people there who are overweight. More specifically, I see too many children there who are extremely overweight. It's one thing to be an adult and be overweight but when I see a child it brings back memories of my own childhood. The first thing I do when I see an overweight child is to look for their parents. More often they themselves are overweight too. A big part of me wants to run over there and tell them what kind of damage they are doing to their child (of course I never do but it's certainly tempting). Setting a good example isn't just something parents should think about doing, it should be the greatest gift they can give to their children.

There is a song by Tom Cochrane called "The Boy Inside the Man" and it's a song that exemplifies just how far I've travelled to get to where I am today. People often compliment me on my dedication and focus and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it all. In my mind, I don't think I'm doing something that others can't do but I'm reminded that this isn't the case. When you find your passion in life, as I have with running, then anything you do to further enhance this doesn't seem like a chore. I feel like I've been given a gift and that I'm supposed to continue to develop it. Sometimes when I run I think about my life growing up as an overweight child. It was extremely traumatic as kids can be cruel but they also will give you an honest assessment of what they think. They may lack tact, but you can't blame them for their honesty. A big part of me wants to shout out to all the kids who made fun of my weight and show them where I am now. Here's the lyrics from that song:

So long so long so long he's been away
So long so long so long he's back again

When I turned seventeen
We had passion, we had dreams
Thought the love we were fighting for
Was something holy, something more

When I turned twenty-one
we were outside on the run
When I walked out with my girl
We went halfway around the world
I dreamed I saw her standing there
Running for the boy inside the man
I was hit hard by the light so bright it burned
All at once I knew she'd understand
Boy inside the man
The boy inside the man
When I turned twenty-five
We were hungry, we had drive
When I turned much older then
When the boy was lost in pride

Now I just turned thirty-one
I have lost and I have won
Still I've kept my dreams alive
'Cause the boy will never die
Ah do you understand

The boy inside the man
The boy inside the man
So long so long so long
You been away
So long so long so long
You're back again

Sister cool this face
As if it's carved in stone
Don't leave me in this place
Like a boy without a home (repeat)
Boy inside the man

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

5 months has come down to this!

It started out as a very casual conversation between Ken and I as we were running in the Seaton trail one Tuesday morning. I told him about my desire to run a 50 mile trail race and was targetting Sulphur Springs in May. I told him that I wanted to run the Seaton 52K as a training run for that race. He then said, "why don't you run the 78K in Seaton instead?"

As he said that my focus shifted from Sulphur to Seaton and I decided that I would make the Seaton my "virgin" 50 Mile race. It made sense since I have been running the Seaton trails for the last 3 years. Even though I still get lost I still know the terrain very well. Many of the trail runners joke about the fact that it is my home base. In fact, I'm the only person from the Pickering/Ajax area who is signed up for the 78K trail race this Saturday which I find very ironic.

Whenever I make up my mind to do something I usually get it done and as soon as decided that this was something I wanted to do, I researched about a dozen different training programs for running a 50 mile race.

The problem was that there are so many different models to choose from and because of the fact that I have my 2 boys so much on my own, it limits my ability to follow an "exact" plan. There were times where I had to run for 7 consecutive days and then take 3 days off because that's the best I could do. Other times I had to run at 5 AM just to make sure that I got my mileage in.

These last months have taken it's toll on me physically and mentally mostly because of the extreme weather conditions that I have run in over the winter months. This has included wind chills of minus 25, freezing rain, wind gusts of 50KM's per hour, icy sidewalks and impolite drivers (LOL).

I've had to do the bulk of my training on my own which hasn't always been easy. I'm proud of the fact that I never quit on any run during my training and this has increased my internal strength tremendously. There were certain training runs that will stand out for me and that included driving to St. Catharines to run with Diane, who is an amazing trail runner and running through incredibly cold wind gusts where I honestly was hoping that a car would hit me and put me out of my misery!

Over the course of thes past months there must have been close to 80 training runs and I'll remember the good and bad ones while I'm racing on Saturday. I've done everything I can to prepare for this race and now all I can do is wait for Saturday to get here. Between now and then I'll do lots of thinking and will stay as positive and focused as possible.

It's over!

In the span of 12 hours both my Isagenix detox and my 5 month training program are over. The results from the Isagenix cleanse were as follows:
Starting Weight: 164
Body Fat: 12%

Ending Weight: 155
Body Fat: 12%

I am pleased with the results and feel better prepared to run my race on Saturday. I know that through the course of the next few days I will probably put back on 3-5 pounds because I'll be carbohydrate loading and will not be running or working out. I also realize that once my race is over I'll probably lose anywhere from 8-10 pounds on that day depending on the heat.

Overall it was a great experience and as I have told everyone who will listen, it is as much mentally challenging as it is physically challenging. It mimics the mental toughness required to run long distance which is why I feel that it helps prepare me for a race. I know that this will become a staple of my training program from now on.

Whether you are a runner or not though, the Isagenix cleanse is something that can benefit your mind, body and spirit so don't hesitate to give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Isagenix update

Starting weight: 164
Stating body fat%: 12
Current weight: 155
Current body fat%: 12

Today is my last day of the cleanse and if I had to give myself a grade between 1 and 10 with 10 being the best, I would give myself an 8. I had one dinner at a sushi restaurant followed by 1/2 desert (YES, I AM On my last shake day I became incredibly hungry in the evening so I had a few things to eat. Other than that, I would say it has gone very well. What has helped is the fact that I averaged about 1,000 calories burned per day throughout this whole process.

I did my last trail run this morning and it went incredibly well. I have so much confidence now that will carry me through until Saturday. Everything seems to be falling into place for me so I'm going to ride this positive wave of emotions for as long as I can. I'm purposely avoiding anything negative this week. If anything does come up I'm going to deal with it next week.

When I do my race I will have so much time to think about so many things. Some of these will be positive and some will be negative. This will range from past relationships I've had, my kids future, the different people who have come in and out of my life, my separation and even what steps I need to take to reach the goals I have for myself with regards to running and by business. It's probably why I have no idea what kind of emotional state I'll be by the time the race finishes. I've already resigned myself to the fact that I'll have to endure some pain. I'll have to block this out as best I can and work through it. Either way, Saturday promises to be a day that I'll never forget.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Forgive's race week!

If I forget to smile during the week,......... please forgive me it's race week!

If I feel like crying when I see someone run, knowing that I can't......please forgive me, it's race week!

If I feel like I've gained 20 pounds after carbo loading for three days....please forgive me, it's race week!

If I seem like I have the "deer in the healights" look all week...........please forgive me, it's race week!

If I have a hard time sleeping this week..........please forgive me, it's race week!

If I start wondering if I've trained enough for my race........please forgive me, it's race week!

If you hear me mumbling to myself about what the hell I was thinking about when I decided to run 50 miles.......please forgive me, it's race week!

If I run to the bathroom every 5 minutes from all the water I need to drink this week.......please forgive me, it's race week!

If you see me eating 6 blueberry bagels over the course of a day......please forgive me, it's race week!

If I start going through withdrawl from the fact that I can't run for most of the week..........please forgive me, it's race week!

And finally.....If I forget to thank all of you who read my blog and have wished me well with my race this week.............please forgive me, it's race week!

It's Race Week!

This is the start of what I like to call the final countdown to my race. All the hard work has been done, now all I can do is sit and wait for the day to come. In between now and Saturday morning, there are so many things I'll need to do and it will feel as if I don't have the time to do it. I will check and re-check my supplies about a dozen or more times. Make a trip to get some more gels, decide on what clothes to wear for the race. More than anything else, though, what I'll be doing is thinking.

My thoughts will turn almost exclusively this week to the race on Saturday. How will it look like? What obstacles will I have to overcome? I'll play out what I expect from the race and hope that it will match what actually happens.

With regards to my nutrition, I started the first of my last two days of the cleanse part of my detox. Once I hit Tuesday at midnight, though, I will ensure that I get myself properly loaded with carbohydrates, water and electrolytes. My favorite pre-race snacks are salted pretzels and I'll probably go through one or two large bags of these. I'll also reduce my fibre intake considerably starting on Wednesday so that I won't have to worry about an upset stomach come race day.

This week I'll be more focused than I usually am, which is scary for many of my friends to see. My running will consist of some light runs on Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday and that will be followed by resting after that.

I like to watch some inspirational movies throughout the week and especially the night before. Some of my favorites include Rudy and Remember the Titans. I'll more than likely get more sleep two days before the race then the night before where I'll be a bundle of nerves.

Despite being a tough week for me, I actually do enjoy the fact that it is finally here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Isagenix update

With only one more day left of the shake part of the cleanse, it will be harder to switch back to doing the cleanse days tomorrow. As I've mentioned before, I'm using this cleanse to simulate how I'll be feeling on race day next weekend. Just as I predicted, the first two days went by incredibly well and this was followed by the 5shake days which again were met with pretty good success (I don't foresee any problems today).

Tomorrow will be another story as this will simulate my final lap of the race. It will be a time when I'll probably say, "Enough is enough already, I just want to go home!" It may also follow with a few choice expletives (LOL). With regards to the cleanse, those last two days are hardest because I know that I'm almost done and I also know that I have achieved great things already. However, I haven't completed what I set out to complete so falling short of my own expectations is something that I have a hard time dealing with.

During my run yesterday I thought about how many people I've told about my race. Part of why I like to journal is so I can keep my thoughts and feelings on paper/computer so I don't forget them. The other reason I like to do this is because it keeps me accountable to others. I really like the fact that so many people like to read my blog and have encouraged me throughout my training these past 5 months. I feel like I have a responsibility to not let anyone down. As soon as I thought that, though, I realized that the one person I really don't want to let down is me.

I really don't know why I've been having such a hard time sleeping this past week (at least I made it to almost 4 AM today) but I'm sure it's a mixture of the detox, and the stress of my race coming up so fast. I'm hoping that a majority of it is the detox because I'll be finished this on Tuesday night and I really need to get more sleep this week.

The plan is to run on Monday and Tuesday, hopefully Tuesday in the trails, and then start to carbo-load beginning on Wednesday. For those who may not know what carbo-loading is, it's a process where I will be eating approximately 300- 400 grams of carbohydrates per day(the equivalent of 10 medium sized bagels). This will allow me to have more energy reserves for my race on Saturday. I will probably burn anywhere from 10,000 to 11,000 calories during my race so it will be important that I start the race with as much energy as possible. As the race nears, I will have a more detailed report about my pre-race diet.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sometimes it's best to go with your instincts

There I was, sitting in front of my computer at 3:30 AM, again failing to get a good nights sleep. I thought about going for a run, talked myself out of it and then talked myself into it again. Once I decided that I was going, there was no turning back.

Even though I told myself that I should be resting, I honestly didn't have a choice as everything inside of me was saying "run." My stress levels have been very high as my race is now exactly 1 week away. I don't only run to train for races, I run because it's my time away from everything else. It gives me that escape that I need and allows me to process things without distractions. I have yet to find something else that duplicates what running does for me.

I had no idea what kind of run I was going to have, or even how far I wanted to go, so I packed up 2 water bottles and a sports gel just to be on the safe side. I opted for shorts as the temperature was 5 degrees. When I stepped outside and took those first few steps, after taking yesterday off, it felt like I was "home" again. I don't know why I had so much energy this morning as I'm still doing the Isagenix cleanse and haven't been getting much sleep. The run today felt effortless and I felt as if I could have run forever. I took a different route here and there, ran mostly on the roads (did I mention I felt fearless at 5:00 AM too?) and only took one walk break where normally I would have taken about 3. I purposely didn't look at my watch throughout the run as I didn't want to be confined today. Everytime I passed a different checkpoint where I would normally stop and walk I talked myself out of stopping and just kept running. When I checked my mileage after my run, I realized that I had done almost 10 miles in about 5-7 minutes faster than I normally would go.

Today's run wasn't about training, it was more about just remembering why I run in the first place. Maybe that's exactly what I need to remember as I head into my race week. If I can just relax next Saturday and think of this race as just an opportunity to spend some time in the place I love the most (Seaton Trail) then I should be fine. Now, if only I could get some sleep......

Friday, April 11, 2008

Day 5 and I can almost see the turnaround point

Starting Weight: 164
Current Weight: 156.5
Total weight lost: 7.5 pounds

Having done this cleanse before, I know that the last two days will be the hardest for me. I will use those two days to simulate how I'll be feeling as I turn around and head out for another 26 K's after having already finished 52 of them at my race next weekend. The temptation will be there to quit and I'll be able to rationalize in my head at just how much I've already accomplished. To me, the race starts at the 52K mark.

After having run for the past 6 days and with the weather being so nasty outside, I decided to do the smart thing today and not run. I did 1 hour on the eliptical machine at work instead. I supposed I could have gone out but the reality is I don't NEED to go out as my training is winding down. I cannot risk the chance of getting sick now as I have invested so much of my time and energy into training. At this point, there really isn't anything positive I can get out of running in bad weather. I've already "been there and done that" all winter long.

I'm actually going to take the next three days off to rest and then run a little bit next Monday and Tuesday before letting my body heal for the three days leading up to the race.

My weight has remained the same as it was yesterday, which I expected and I'm sure it will hover around that same weight until I do my last two cleanse days.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Seaton is starting to become my 2nd home

I just completed another great trail run this afternoon and that makes 3 trail runs in the past 5 days. The weather was amazing and once again I was over-dressed. I took a look at the forecast for the 19th of April and it looks like it will be 14-17 degrees celcius which is just the kind of weather I love to run in.

I have been having a hard time sleeping the past few days. I'm not sure if it's because of my race or the detox that I'm doing. As with bad weather, though, I just roll with the punches instead of trying to fight it. When I finally did get to sleep last night, I had a dream about my race (of course it had to be right?). It was more of a nightmare than a dream actually, as in the dream I ended up sleeping through my alarm.
When I finally got up and looked at the clock it said 7:00 AM. There's only one problem. My race starts at 7:00 AM. I rushed out the door, barely had time to get my fuel belt etc. and ended up running to the race and then running it (I live about 7 KM's from the start of the race). All I kept thinking about was the fact that I only have 12 hours to complete the 78 K and I already was behind schedule (LOL).

I was so freaked out when I woke up that I think I startled my kids. I told my 2 boys about the dream and then I told them that daddy is going to have 3 alarm clocks set to wake him up on race day. They thought that this would be a good idea.

I noticed during my trail run that my energy level was a little lower than normal. I started the run at 1:40 PM and had my Isagenix shake at about 12:30. I also had 1/2 banana just prior to the run as I knew the run would use up most of my energy that I had consumed up to that point.

When I do my cleanse, I know that I'm probably exercising more than most, but I don't want to alter my life too much in the process.

The total calories consumed during the "shake" days ranges from 1100 to 1300. The total calories I burn when I run usually is also in that range. Therefore, the net effect is that I'm taking in zero calories on the shake days. Considering that I should be consuming anywhere from 2000 to 2500 calories just at rest and that's not a good thing. During the cleanse days, the total calories consumed each day was approximately 300 while I burned 1000 to 1200 calories during my run each day. This made the net effect a minus -700 to -900 calories just through exercise and food consumption.

Doing this type of high intensity exercise coupled with such a low amount of calories consumed is not recommended for an extended period of time but I have a very good handle on what my body can and cannot handle and I've been conscious about watching my blood sugar levels to make sure they don't drop too low. When I set up the plan for my individual clients, I make sure that I also pay very close attention to their exercise days and supplement extra food where I feel it is warranted.

In addition, after the cleanse is over, I'm very careful about transitioning then back into a regular plan again. The reason is that I don't want to put their bodies into too much shock. Going from the last two cleanse days where you are consuming so few calories to a "regular" eating plan is something that should be done by someone who has the experience in this matter. Not only am I qualified to do so professionally, the fact that I have done the cleanse myself, gives me an advantage over those who have not.

Day III completed and still going strong

Starting Weight: 164 pounds
Current Weight: 156.5

After having at least 2.5 fajitas last night and a handfull of almonds before bed, I didn't think my weight would move too much but I was surprised to see it drop another pound.

I've mentioned this before but it's probably worth repeating. I'm using this cleanse to prepare me for the race and the first two cleanse days for me was the first "lap" of the race. I started off with lots of energy and it's important to pace myself because I still have a long way to go both physically and mentally. Now that I'm in the shake part of the detox, I'm using it simulate the 2nd lap of my race. I can take some time to look back to see what I've already done and start to look ahead to what lies ahead. While the finish line is still not in my sights, I can at least start to envision what it is going to look like.

Today I'll be going for a nice slow trail run in the Seaton Trail. I'll use it to prepare me for my race. After that run, and a small run on Friday afternoon, it will be time to get some major rest as I prepare for the race.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Afternoon update

I seem to be riding the "wave" of momentum established by the first two days of the cleanse. I had a very hard time sleeping last night and probably only got about 4 hours sleep. I still was able to go for my 6:00 AM run in the morning but was thankful that it was 8.5 instead of 10-11 Miles. I was a little light headed when I got home and I was never more thankful for the fact that I was able to have an Isagenix shake for breakfast. I mixed two scoops with 1 scoop of the IsaFruits and ice and it was amazing. I made sure that I took every last drop (LOL).

The rest of the day went very well and I'm looking forward to having dinner tonight. I find that the shake days are really not that bad and that the anticipation of having a dinner, makes it easier to follow than if I had a regular lunch instead. Depending on how I feel after supper, I may have a few hard boiled eggs before going to bed. The total calories for the dinner will be between 500 to 600 calories:
1-2 large whole wheat flour tortillas
3 oz. of chicken breast
1.5 cups of green/red peppers/onions
1 tbps. of fat free sour cream
1 tbsp. of refried beans
1 oz. of low fat cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. of salsa
shredded lettuce

Usually for dinner when I have my two boys, I eat a smaller portion because I know that they usually will not finish their own food (and I hate wasting). Unfortunately for me, my boys LOVE fajitas so I'm sure there will be little leftovers available.

Tomorrow will be my 6th consecutive day of running and I'll do a 7th on Friday before taking the weekend off to rest. The following week will be extreme taper which means very little running and a grumpy nutritionist!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Isagenix Day II recap

Current Weight: 157.5
Total weight lost after 2 days: 6.5 pounds

I couldn't have scripted a better 2 days of the cleanse any better than what I've been able to do so far. Even after running close to 20 miles, including a rugged trail run, I managed to stay perfect with regards to following the cleanse. I still find it hard to believe that I have even more energy despite the fact that I've consumed a total of 4 hard boiled eggs, 10 almonds, and 10 carrot sticks of solid food in addition to the cleanse drink in the past 2 days!

Today and for the next 5 days, I'll be having an Isagenix meal replacement drink for breakfast and lunch and then a regular 400-600 calorie meal for supper. Tonight's dinner of choice will be fajitas.

With regards to exercise, I'll run another 8.5 miles today and follow that up with some core strengthening exercises.

I decided to look back at my last cleanse and compare it to the one I'm doing now and I've lost 1/2 pound more this time around. My starting weight for the last cleanse was 163 and my ending weight was 155. Currently I'm only 2.5 pounds away from that weight so it will be interesting to see what my final stats will look like. If I can finish the cleanse weighing close to 155 or lower, then that will be a big boost heading into the race. During the shake phase of the program, my weight during the cleanse stayed within 1-2 pounds so I don't expect to lose too much weight for the next 5 days. The final 2 days of the cleanse is where I'll probably lose the most though.

Day I results

I jumped on the scale this morning and to my pleasant surprise, I was already down 4 pounds. Of course burning over 1200 calories just from running yesterday certainly helped. I was still surprised at how much energy I still had.

This morning I got up at 4:30 to prepare for my early morning trail run. As I did with my previous detox, I did not alter my pre-run routine. That meant having a cup of tea and 1/2 banana. Never have I enjoyed the taste of a banana so much (LOL). I met up with my friend at 5:45 and both of were wearing our headlamps. It was quite interesting running in the dark at the best of times but throw in the ice, the fallen trees, stumps and rocks and you have the makings for a great adventure. It wasn't until we got to about the half-way mark, that the sun started to rise. I've spoken about the beauty of seeing the sun rise in the trails but it's something you have to experience to truly appreciate how magnificent it is.

Running on very little fuel, I was surprised that I was able to do as well as I did but it just goes to show you how much reserve we really have. If I can avoid eating before a run, which requires food, why should I want to eat when I'm sitting on the couch expending very little energy? It's something that we are all capable of doing and it really comes down to keeping yourself busy.

Now, on to Day II!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Day I is in the books!

Maybe it's because this is my 2nd time doing the cleanse but I didn't find the first day too difficult. I had psyched myself up enough so that I knew I would have no trouble doing the first two days of cleanse.

I'm splitting this cleanse into 3 phases, similar to what I'll be doing on race day where I have to complete three 26 KM laps in the Seaton Trail. The first lap I know I can do as I've done it before and my legs will be fresh from having rested for most of the week leading up to the race.

After my run this morning I took the first of my 4 cleanse drinks and went off to teach one of my clients how to run (she did an amazing job). When I got home I took 2Isagenix snacks and then headed back to work. I drank my 2nd cleanse drink at 12:30 followed by another 2 snacks at 2:00 PM and then another cleanse drink at 3:30 PM. I decided to have two hard boiled eggs at the same time.

At work I had the final two snacks and then my last drink at 8:30 PM. Tomorrow I'll be getting up at 4:30 to go for a trail run so it will be interesting to see how much energy I have.

After writing earlier that I wasn't going to post my weight I've decided that it would be better for me and others if I post it so it will keep me honest (LOL)

Starting weight: 164 pounds
Body Fat: 12%

Ultimately I'd like to run at 160 or lighter so I'm pretty sure I'll be able to accomplish that.

Work with what you have to deal with

When I got up to do my run this morning, I realized that I have to begin to slow down my mileage as my race is getting closer and closer. I usually do my 10.5 to 11 mile loop from my house but today I decided to do the smart thing and run 8.5 miles instead. My legs were a little heavy from all the running on the weekend and I made the mistake of wearing my CWX tights. On this day I found them a little too constrictive and I would have been better off wearing shorts.

I noticed right away that it was a pretty windy so I realized that this was going to be a tougher than usual run, even though I wasn't running my normal distance. Over this past winter I've had to run in some truly horrific weather conditions, but extreme wind and wind gusts, have go to be the worst to deal with. Because I've had so much practice running in them, however, I've realized that it's better to work within the conditions you are dealt with instead of trying to fight through them. What that means for me is that I have to slow down my pace, even to the point where it feels like all I'm doing is walking.

Running up a hill against a strong headwind, which is what I had to deal with today, reminded me of many conversations I've had with my clients about their own struggles. Whether it's working an overnight shift, dealing with a sick child, a spouse who is not supportive or even a death in the family, we all have to deal with our own "elements" on a daily basis. These can challenge us to stay on the right track. It's easy, sometimes, to just give up but if you can remember how important it is for you to achieve your goals then hopefully you'll take those smaller steps even if it feels like sometimes you are not going very fast.

What is important is that we keep taking those steps in the right direction and eventually we will get there. When I finally got to the top of the hill today I was able to appreciate the effort it took for me to get there and that propelled me through the rest of the run.

Instead of looking at what you haven't done, take pride in the accomplishments you have achieved. However small you feel they are, they are still steps in the right direction. Eventually those small steps will become even bigger and bigger and then you'll realize how important those small steps were.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mental preparations start tomorrow

Tomorrow I start the first day of my 9-day Isagenix cleanse. This cleanse has more to do about getting mentally prepared for my race than simply what it's going to do to me physically.

Contrary to popular belief amongst my clients, I too have to deal with cravings and temptations on a daily basis. Running has helped to increase my inner strength so if I do have an edge on most people it's that I fell I can block out many things. My dilemma is that because I run so much, my body is constantly running out of fuel and I have to ensure that it is well stocked at all times. The best fuel for a runner is carbohydrates so my diet consists of anywhere from 50-60% carbohydrates with the rest coming from protein and fat.

The first two days of the cleanse will be especially hard as I continue to run while consuming very little food. Because I run in the morning, I won't alter my pre-run intake of 1/2 banana and 1 cup of tea. There are some things that just shouldn't be messed with and running is certainly one of them. It will be the post-run meal and the subsequent meals afterward, which will put my mind to the test.

I've told everyone who will listen that the Isagenix cleanse is more about mental inner strength than just a physical cleanse. There will be times on Monday and Tuesday where I will have to tell myself that I can go without food even though my mind will be saying EAT! This type of mental training will go a long way towards helping me prepare for my race. Instead of food, my mind on race day will be telling me to just stop running and go home. I will have to struggle with this for the majority of the race.

During my past cleanse I put more emphasis on the weight loss or inches lost, but because this cleanse is more about preparing for my race, I've decided not to put the numbers up. I will give an update on how things progress after day I.

This is WHY I love running in trails

After a very nice run with friends yesterday morning, I wanted to test out the legs and the Seaton Trail at the same time. I knew that the conditions wouldn't be great but I was more than happy with what I found there. I kept a nice easy pace as there was so much ice and snow still in the trails but as I was running, two deers bounced about 50 feet away from me. The site was so awe inspiring that I went off the trails for a little bit to see if I could follow them. I quickly found out that I was no match for them (LOL)

Then as I was running along the water I noticed a family of beavers. The rest of the run was secondary to what I found today as it re-inforced just how nice it is to run amongst nature as opposed to running on the roads.

On the way back from my run I bumped into two of the race directors from the Seaton Trail. I know these two men very well and I ran with them yesterday. They were shocked that I was able to run in the trails after yesterdays long run.
They said I should be fine for the race in 2 weeks and that was something I enjoyed hearing.

To top of the morning, I taught one of my clients her first running lesson today and she did an amazing job. The thrill I get from showing beginners how to run is something that's hard for me to explain but let's just say I get a big kick out of it. I remember growing up there was a commercial by Pepsi I believe about teachng the whole world to sing in perfect harmony. In my case, I'd love to teach the world how to run!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I DO belong!

It's taken me about 3 running seasons but I finally believe that I belong with many of the runners who compete in the OUS series. Today I did the 1st "race" of the season but it was more about getting caught up and meeting some old acquaintenances and making some new friends.

I arrived at the High Park Curling Club at just after 7:30 and there was already a small gathering of people standing in a circle. As soon as I got out I was welcomed immediately. Most of the road races have so many people registered that you're lucky if you see a familiar face before the race starts. In the trail races, people purposely make a point to go over and greet everyone. I also knew about 90% of the people and the 10% I didn't know I quickly was introduced to. We talked about the upcoming Ontario Ultra Series and what races we had decided to run this season.

My main motivation for coming, besides to see many of the runners, was to pick the brains of as many people as I could with regards to the 50 Mile race. It's too late to do any last minute training sessions but what my conversation did confirm was that I had done everything necessary to prepare myself physically to run the race. My mental preparation will begin on Monday when I do the 9-day Isagenix cleanse.

The 28K route took us west along the lakeshore and then North along the Humber River path. It had just enough challenges to give us a workout but nothing that I wasn't prepared for. Having taken the last few days off I felt very strong today. The one regret I had was not sticking to my run/walk plan but I got so caught up in wanting to run with different groups that I found my pace faster than I wanted.

After the run we all gathered back at the club house and talked about the upcoming season. I'll be seeing most of these same runners again in 2 weeks at my race. Today was just the tonic I needed to propel me into the race and I'm on such a "high" that it's taking me everything I have not to go out for another run.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Tomorrow is the official start of my running season!

Even though my first race is two weeks away, tomorrow I'll be doing a warm-up race with most, if not all, of my trail running friends.

In the fall of 2005 I did my first two 25K trail runs (Run for the Toad and Vulture Bait). It was an experience I'll never forget and it had more to do with the people that as opposed to the race itself. I had only done a few road races leading up to running in the trails but I quickly noticed the difference between the people running trails and the people running on the roads. I can sum it up in one word, "fun." These trail runners made the experience so much fun for me and they were always there to lend a helping hand when I needed it. They were so quick to adopt me as one of their own and never made me feel like I didn't belong. They would encourage me to continue running trails and how I should compete in their season series the following year.

In 2006 I did just that and ended up finishing 3rd in my age category which I was very proud of. Seeing the same people race after race was amazing and I was able to build some good relationships with many of them. Even though I rarely see most of them after the season is over, it will be amazing to see most of them tomorrow.

To get an idea of the relaxed atmosphere at these races, I'm posting the race details for tomorrow. Maybe I'll see some of you there as all are welcome!

Location: High Park Curling Club, 100 Indian Road, Toronto
Date: Saturday April 5, 2008
Distance(s): 28k start at 8:00, 10k/20k start at 11:00
ie, there are five distance options: 28k, 10k, 20k, 38k or 48k
Fee: Any combination of distance for $35.
Entry: Cash or cheque payable to the Ontario Ultra Series on the day of the event. If you are unable to attend on the 5th but would like a chance to win the grand prize simply mail your cheque to Sharon Zelinski, 643 Willard Ave, Toronto M6S 3S1.
Or enter online
Reception/Facilities at the club: Pizza will be available at 12:00. The club has a fully stocked bar (that opens, by law, at 11:00), change rooms, showers, pool table, couches and cable TV.
Course/Aid: Two out and backs.
>>The 8:00 start will head west on the waterfront trail and up the Humber to the Hurricane Hazel memorial for a total of 28k. Water will be placed at Raymore Park (just south of the memorial).
>>The 11:00 start will head east on the waterfront trail to the steel bridge at Cherry Street and Lake Shore Blvd. Water will be placed at the washrooms in Coronation Park (SE of Strachan & Lake Shore Blvd). The total out-and-back distance to the water is 10k and to Cherry St. is 20k.
Proceeds: 100% of all proceeds will be directed to the Ontario Ultra/Trail Series (OUS/OTS).
Grand Prize: There will be one grand prize. One person who has paid an entry to the fun run will be eligible for free entry to the following events in the 2008 season. The winner does not need to be present at the curling club during the draw.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Riding my Crazy Train

As I was running early this morning, one of my favorite songs came on my mp3 (Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne) and I thought that song was appropriate given what I'm going to be doing in just over 2 weeks.

Whenever I mention to people that I'm running a 50 Mile race the most common response I get is, "are you crazy?" For some reason, running long distance doesn't garner the same respect as someone who is training for a Triathalon, for example. I've learned to live with that response although occasionally I'll chime in with a response like, "why can't you just call me dedicated?"

In any event, I really don't look for encouragement to drive my crazy train as I have plenty of that from within. I also know that come race day, there will be 20+ other runners all riding their own crazy train and I'll be more than happy to follow them for as long as I can.

At last count, there were 23 runners including myself, signed up for the race and interestingly enough, I'm the only one from the Ajax/Pickering area. That number may increase slightly, but probably to no more than 30. Last year there were 20 runners registered but only 13 that finished. I remember volunteering last year and the weather was in the mid teens with a slight breeze. I thought that it was a perfect weather day, at least for me, for running.

During my run I tried very hard to run as slow as possible so I could simulate the speed I want for the race. It's so difficult to run slower than you know you can and that's what takes discipline. Listening to music, as much as I love it, causes me to run faster so during the race I'm going to be very selective about when to start listening. My plan right now is not to listen to music until I start my third and final lap of the race.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


When I got up this morning and checked the temperature I saw that it was 6 degrees celcius. I just about leapt out of my chair and ran upstairs to get my shorts. After months and months of having to wear layers of clothing, it was so nice to head out the door wearing just my running shorts, a baseball hat, light shirt and jacket.

It was foggy but overall it was one of my better runs and the lack of extra clothing made it so much easier to run. I'm hoping I've seen the last of my heavy winter running gear.

During our run we talked about how much different it is running for distance instead of speed. It becomes so much more of mental barrier that you need to work through. This weekend, when I'll be running with my trail running friends, I'm going to listen to as many people as possible and soak up as much information as I can. These runners have done multiple ultra races and they will be the people who I'll be running with or trying to keep up with, during my race this month.

As we enter a new month, it's a good time to look back at what has been accomplished and look forward to what needs to be accomplished. Try to spend as little time possible looking back and more time looking ahead. I have 10 or 11 training runs left until my race and I'm going to savor each and every one them.