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Lindsay on the Run

Chasing finish lines one step at a time

Exploring New Territory

The day after Run Ottawa’s Cookie Run 10km, I closed my eyes and crossed my fingers when pressing the ‘submit’ button on my elite athlete application for the 2017 Ottawa Race Weekend 10km. The Elite B Standard for the race for my gender and age is sub 40 minutes. At the Cookie Run, I ran 37:54. Even though I ran under the standard, I still felt like getting accepted was a long shot. I don’t consider myself an elite runner by any means. I’m just a mom of two, I have a full time job, I take my son to hockey practice, and fit running into the equation by managing my time down to the very minute, every day.

I’ve had an interesting conversation with a few people lately. I feel like I’m entering a new space in my running – it feels like new territory for me. One that’s very exciting, and little intimidating. I was reading the “What does sub-elite mean?” post by  on the Salty Running blog, which outlines some of the different races and what their elite and sub-elite time standards are. For some races, my times from the events I ran in 2016 fit the bill. In others, they don’t. I ran a 1:27:08 half marathon in October, to later find out I was 8 seconds off the sub-elite standard for the 2017 NYC Marathon (the information has been removed from their site since then). Prior to this year, I didn’t even know these types of things existed. I knew about running a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, and that was about it.

Last week, I found out that my application for elite status for the 10km Ottawa Race Weekend event was ACCEPTED. It literally took my breath away, and when I read the email, time stopped and all I could do was stare at my phone. Many people told me they knew I’d get in, but I honestly was surprised. I’ve worked really hard this year to become stronger and faster, but I still feel like I have more work to do. When race day rolls around and I achieve my goal, I feel surprised, mostly because I know that anything can happen on race day, and I try not to go into a race with expectations. Sure, I have goals, and I do the best I can that day, but I don’t make assumptions for my performance. I find that this mindset helps me overcome the challenges when I ride the struggle bus on race day.

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I can’t thank the team at Run Ottawa enough for giving me this amazing opportunity. I’m looking forward to the end of May and laying it all out there on the course. I can’t wait to race with people I admire and look up to. I’m also looking forward to the challenge of racing with the elites and seeing just how far I can push myself. I am also thrilled to be part of Team Awesome for Ottawa Race Weekend 2017. The morning after the 10k, I will be running the 1/2 marathon. Leading up to Race Weekend, you’ll find me documenting my journey – my training, recovery, favourite gear, and fuel.

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Cookie Run 10k: Race Recap

On Saturday November 5th, I participated in the Cookie Run 10k, hosted by Run Ottawa. I planned on packing it in on the racing from after the Fall Colours 1/2 Marathon on October 9th, which was my ‘redemption race’ for the Army Run 1/2 marathon, when I struggled through most of the race and didn’t achieve a goal I knew I was capable of. Fall Colours ended on a high note for me. I dropped my 1/2 marathon PB from 1:33:45 to 1:27:08, was the first place female and time qualified for the 2017 NYC Marathon. I registered for the Cookie Run 3ish weeks ago whenever I stumbled upon information for Ottawa Race Weekend.

I learned that the Elite B Standard for the Race Weekend 10k was sub 40 minutes. A little voice inside me said “you can do it”. I thought I might be able to, as long as everything was working in my favour on race day. I’ve actually never raced a 10k before, so my strategy of ‘run as fast as you can and hang on for as long as possible’, was a strategy I wasn’t really use to, and I wasn’t sure if it would actually work. I also wasn’t familiar with the course. I knew I’d need to break out my ‘serious’ race shoes – Saucony Type A – for the occasion [which is also just another excuse to run in them ;)].

I met up with some of my friends – Erin (who ran to a PB in the 5k at the race!) and Heather, and Team Awesome 2017 members prior to the race. Heather and her daughters were kind enough to come cheer us on [and hold my spike bag for me ;)] I lined up at the VERY front of the line and waited for the race to start. I run with music – I have asthma and can’t handle listening to my breathing when I run. I honestly couldn’t tell you a single song that played during the race. I was so in the zone and the race was so much of a blur. I knew that one ‘bad’ kilometre could throw the whole race for me and I so badly wanted to see the clock with a 39:something on it when I crossed the finish line.

The course was two loops of the 5km course. Around the 1km mark my Nuun hat flew off of my head, but I couldn’t let it distract me. I just remember checking my Garmin for pace and telling myself to keep going. A few hundred metres from the 5km mark I saw Heather and her daughters. I don’t remember my average pace at this point, I think it was 3:42/km.

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Almost 5k in, the smile is my pain face

I ran up the small hill to kick off kilometre 6, and then started running into some of the people running the 5k event. This made the second lap a bit more challenging, as I had to weave around a bit more. For the first 5k, I just kept my eyes on a pack of guys at the front and chased. I spent the rest of the race telling myself to keep going and was ticking off the kilometres in my head. I saw Heather and her girls again near the finish and I could see the clock. I crossed the finish line in 37 minutes 54 seconds. I ended up running 10.2km at an average pace of 3:43/km. This is definitely the fastest I’ve ever raced. Having never raced a 10k before, I was simply relieved to run it in under 40 minutes.

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Just before the finish line
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Award for 1st place female

This was my third major running accomplishment of year:

  • Qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon – 3:17:35 at the  Ottawa Marathon, was returning from an injury and 10 months after having a baby. It was also my first marathon.
  • Qualify for the 2017 NYC Marathon – 1:27:08 at Fall Colours in October
  • Run the Elite B Standard for Ottawa Race Weekend 10k – Cookie Run!

This was also my last race for the year, as I need to take a bit of time to recharge before I begin my Boston Marathon training. I may have lost my hat, but when I look back on everything that I’ve accomplished in 2016, it makes me so excited and more determined than ever before. 2017 is going to challenge me in so many new ways, but I’m ready.

 

Recovery Re-Discovery

Back in the spring, I was training for the 2016 Ottawa Marathon. When training began, I was only a few months postpartum (Lennon wasn’t quite 10 months old on the day of the race) and I was exclusively breastfeeding during the first part of my training cycle. I was on a pretty intense training schedule, and began ignoring things I knew I should have been paying attention to – core strengthening, cross-training, body work…you name it, I wasn’t really doing it, other than running.

I thought that not running on rest day and inconsistent trips to a chiropractor and massage therapist, combined with a handful of stretches was good enough for ‘recovery’ – which, is definitely not the case when preparing to run a marathon.

Especially after just giving birth.

When it rains…

Halfway through training, I ended up spraining my SI Joint when I hopped off of an irregular curb – the landing, combined with all of my loose ligaments and core weakness was really the perfect storm. At the time, my world was crumbling and I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was 10 weeks out from running a marathon and I couldn’t even walk properly. At the time, I felt like it was the worst thing to ever happen to me, but when I look back on it, it was actually one of the best things that could have happened to me. Without this injury, I wouldn’t have understood the impact of childbirth on my body, even though I had gone through all of this before, and I also would probably underestimate what my body needs to support the load of marathon training.

The light at the end of the tunnel

It takes a village! I started going back to my chiropractor and massage therapist. I found an amazing physiotherapist that specializes in running injuries. I got to enjoy the wonderful world of dry needling (honestly, amazing). I followed a core strengthening routine. I committed to stretches I saw in Hit Reset by Erin Taylor of Jasyoga. I drank tart cherry juice like a boss – thanks to Lauren Fleshman. I was soaking in epsom salts and icing my body when needed. I tried foam rolling, which, to be honest, I really struggled with until I got my hands on some different products from Addaday.

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I’ve been using the Type C massage roller on a regular basis and it was love at first roll. The rollers rotate and dig in deep to work out those nasty little fibres that get stuck. The pressure is easy to control and the rollers help to pinpoint specific areas that need the most attention. I log a lot of miles, and I found that using this roller has really helped keep my legs fresh and has eliminated a lot of the soreness I was experiencing with higher mileage. To my kids, this roller is the newest item in their Jedi tool belts 😉

Getting some R&R

It’s better to take an extra rest day than it is to push through a run when you feel like an injury or illness is brewing. Think about it this way – would you regret skipping a run? Or would you regret pushing through on the running, and ending up injured? Sometimes the wisest choice is to set the training plan aside for a day and give your body the rest it needs. I was out of marathon training for 6 weeks, and I made it to the start line on race day. There were a number of days where I wanted to push through because I could tolerate the pain, but I knew that all those steps forward would mean nothing if I didn’t give my body a break.

I started listening to my body – really, really listening to it. I started making recovery just as much a priority as the miles I logged. I feel stronger, I run faster, and I feel better in general. I hope that the lessons I learned will help me do my best to prepare for the Boston Marathon in April, as well as the other races on my radar – NYC Marathon 2017, Ottawa Race Weekend 10k and half marathon. There’s a whole new meaning to R&R now – run and recover!

My Reason for Boston

I have run quite a few half marathons, and after having my son, noticed a drop in my running time. My first half marathon after having Odin lead to a 13ish minute PR, going from 1:47 and change to 1:34:01. Then people started asking when I was going to take the plunge and do a marathon. I told them I’d consider one when I was done having kids.

Odin was born on November 29th, 2012. In 2014, I suffered two miscarriages – one on Mother’s Day and the other in September. In October of that year, we took a trip to Boston to see a football game and to just get away from everything we were dealing with. When we were on our trip, I had my husband drop me off in Newton, where I ran the Newton Hills and Heartbreak Hill, down past Boston College and into downtown Boston. We spent time chatting with employees in running stores, going to the Finish line for the Boston Marathon and more. I started to think about what it would be like to run the Boston Marathon, and knew I’d have to qualify first. But the spark was there, the fire inside of me started to burn.

Shortly after our trip I found out I was pregnant again. I didn’t get too excited at first, as the miscarriages lurked in my brain. When I was almost 7 weeks along, I began bleeding. This is what happened with the previous miscarriages, so I immediately assumed I had lost this pregnancy also. I had told my husband that if I had 3 miscarriages, that we would be adopting if we wanted more children, because I couldn’t go through the heartache anymore. The next step would have been to go to a fertility clinic, but I didn’t want to be pumped full of hormones and I felt like I was living life in pause, afraid to commit to anything because “I might be pregnant” at that point in time.

The night I began bleeding, I was inconsolable and crying frustrated, angry tears. I started looking up marathon training plans and was going to commit to running the 2015 Ottawa marathon. I needed to channel my energy into something and I had told people I’d run a marathon when I was done having kids – so now was the time. Or so I had thought.

The next morning I woke up and the bleeding had stopped. This had never happened when I was miscarrying. Ryan was at work, so I packed Odin up and went the emergency room. I told them what happened and was brought in for urine and blood work, as well as an ultrasound. To my astonishment, I was still pregnant. Some people bleed a bit when pregnant, and unlike the previous two pregnancies, that’s all that was happening. The doctor showed me the baby, but couldn’t detect a heartbeat – which can be common when an external ultrasound is done early in a pregnancy, but still scared the crap out of me. They didn’t so an internal ultrasound that day, as I was booked for one at the end of that week. So I was told to carry on like I was pregnant – talk about living in limbo! The ultrasound at the end of the week would show that I was in fact still pregnant. As a precautionary measure, my doctor brought me in each week for blood work to monitor my hormone levels during the first trimester. It was the longest 3 months of my life and I was constantly afraid of losing this baby.

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On August 2nd 2015, Lennon Elizabeth Khan entered the world in a whirlwind 45 minute labour. Our family was now complete. When Lennon was 4 months old, I began training for the 2016 Ottawa Marathon in hope of qualifying for Boston 2017.

The marathon is so much more than trying to run a BQ. I feel like it is a symbol of overcoming one of the most challenging years of my life. The miscarriages and the experience at the beginning of my pregnancy with Lennon were tough on me physically and mentally. I think about overcoming the obstacles thrown at me in 2014 and can’t help but think about the Boston bombings and what people have had to overcome after that horrifying event. Those whose lives were lost, those who were injured, those who witnessed it, those who were present at the time – it was a dark time that people banded together in and emerged from it even stronger. Everyone has a story, their own journey, their own reason for setting goals and going after them. Aiming for a BQ has been part of my journey to heal the wounds of 2014 and celebrate the gifts – Odin and Lennon – that I have been blessed with.

Lindsay on the Run

Welcome to my second attempt at a blog, which, this time, I am committed to. 2016 marked my return to racing after giving birth to my second child. I set two goals at the start of the year:

  • Qualify for the Boston Marathon, even though I’d never run a marathon before
  • Qualify for the NYC Marathon, which would require a ~7 minute reduction in my 1/2 marathon PR.

I was up for the challenge. There were a few stumbles along the way – a sprained SI Joint, excessive heat on race days, life in general – but I managed to make both of my dreams a reality. I qualified for (and have been accepted!) the 2017 Boston Marathon with a time of 3:17:45, which I ran at the Ottawa Marathon in May, 10 months after having Lennon. It took me two tries to run the qualifying standard for NYC, which I ran in early October in a time of 1:27:08.

I run as part of the Oiselle Volee and Team Nuun. I plan on sharing stories of my training, along with gear I love, lessons I’ve learned and life as a mother runner. I hope you’ll run along with me!

 

Running Gear: Saucony Shoes

When people come to me for running shoe advice, I give them a warning before giving them a response, because I feel like I could talk about running shoes for hours. There are so many different things you have to consider when buying the right shoe for yourself and the way you run. I go through a lot of shoes, and have tried many different brands, finally landing on the perfect shoes for me when it comes to racing and training.

Running shoes are so important. I strongly recommend getting a gait analysis done to find out what you need to focus on when looking for a running shoe that fits the way you run. I also recommend rotating a couple of pairs at a time. After my SI Joint injury, I learned I needed a shoe with more cushioning and support, and I have found that my hips/pelvis area have been better protected by wearing a shoe that fit my changing needs as a post-baby mother runner.

Here are my current go-to shoes:

Saucony Type A – Racing Shoe

I love how light these shoes are. They are like feathers and they pack a ton of pop. They are a perfect match for the way that I run. I haven’t raced longer than a half marathon in them, but they were perfect for racing on smooth, paved surfaces. I also love the colour. If you know me, the brighter the better when it comes to all of my running gear. I wear these shoes when racing on paved surfaces, as well as during some longer training runs that I use as “race day rehearsals”.

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Saucony Ride 9 – Training Shoe

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I have to thank the friendly folks at Saucony Canada for introducing me to the Ride 9s. Saucony Canada sent me a pair after my BQ at the Ottawa Marathon and I was immediately hooked. They were a bit heavier than the type of shoe I was use to wearing, but this is also because I was training in shoes that were intended for racing. I needed more support in a training shoe if I wanted to prevent injury and keep my mileage up, and this shoe checked off all of those boxes – and then some! Once I got use to wearing a more supportive shoe, I realized that they actually weren’t that heavy at all.

I purchased another pair of Ride 9s when the Saucony Run Pops became available in Canada. They are lime green and the colour is so bright – I absolutely love them. I raced in them recently because the course has multiple terrains. They were perfect and I managed a massive 1/2 marathon PR in them.

I also want to try out the Saucony Fastwitch and the Saucony Kinvara 7 (Race Day Red is calling my name!).

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