The one on the exhale…part II

Asthma Story_0In my last post, The one on the exhale…, I spoke about my history of asthma and the frustrating judgement I feel when people immediately connect the limitations of my lungs with my overall physical fitness. As I mentioned in that post, I usually try to avoid doing cardio in public because of the embarrassment I feel looking weak and out of shape while struggling to keep up.

A coworker recently invited me to attended a new class that was starting up at the gym. She describe it as being a mix of spin and circuit training and I thought I might check it out because at least on a spin bike I don’t need to worry about falling behind. The class, which is mostly attended by experienced endurance athletes, is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.

Don’t get me wrong, challenging is a great thing. The first couple classes we went through a nine-station circuit including kettle bell swings, ball slams, battle ropes, Bosu hopscotch and a slew of other things, mixed in with 15-minute sessions of intervals on the spin bike. I didn’t in any way feel strong throughout that 90-minutes, but I finished and felt accomplished for having done so.

This week, things changed a bit. The class was taken outside, which is something I had been dreading. All day at work I prayed it would rain so we wouldn’t have to do the class outdoors. Breathing outside is an entirely different scenario compared to inside. I suddenly have to contend not only with my usual exercise-related asthma challenges, but also with the environment. Allergens in the air, the wind, the temperature, humidity (or lack thereof) and a host of other factors all irritate the delicate bronchial lining of my lungs, leading to increased mucus production and airway inflammation.

The plan for the class was a trail run to a steep set of stairs, followed by stair sprints, some flat sprints then a trail run back to the gym for a spin session and a bodyweight circuit. I had kind of hoped there would be at least one person in the class who was not a runner, like myself, and that I wouldn’t be the only person holding everyone back. The last thing I wanted was to draw attention to myself. Unfortunately, that’s what happened.

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The one on the exhale…

asthma_inhalerPicture yourself at the gym, on a treadmill next to someone else. The person next to you doesn’t appear to be exerting that much effort but is red-faced, winded and wheezing. Most people’s first thought would be to assume that person is out of shape, maybe even lazy, especially if they happen to also be overweight. A lot of people avoid going to the gym because they assume these thoughts are rampantly playing through other people’s minds as they work out. For me, it’s why I avoid doing cardio in front of other people.

Anyone who knows I am a regular to the gym would assume that I am in shape, given that I have been a frequent gym goer for more than a third of my life. When I do cardio though, I become the dictionary definition of what so many people think of as “out of shape.” I wheeze, huff and puff and get red in the face while doing something as simple as walking on an incline or pushing the stepmill up to level 2.

Like 3 million Canadians and 15 million Americans, I am asthmatic.

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The one with a fond farewell…

It is with great sadness that I announce the retirement of my favourite Nikes.

So long, old friend

So long, old friend

Admittedly, I allowed these runners to extend well past their prime. I loved them though – both aesthetically and for comfort reasons.

I have a hard time finding running shoes because I have an odd shoe size – 10.5 – and most companies either only go up to a 10 or only have half sizes up to 9.5. Nike is one of the few companies that makes running shoes that fit me perfectly.

I got these in the fall of 2012 and I have put well beyond the recommended 500 miles on them. They’ve gotten me through multiple races and everyday cardio but as I was training for the Bluenose Marathon these past couple of months I really started to notice that they were near the end of their life. The tread looks good from the surface, but below it, the midsole has worn down considerably, leading to a fairly noticeable underpronation.

For a brief moment, in the days leading up to the Bluenose, I considered running in my trainers (gasp!) because I didn’t think I would have a good run if I wore these and it was just too close to the race to get a new pair of shoes and break them in. I knew deep down though, that they could come through for me one more time. So I strapped them on, relishing in the comfort that comes with a pair of shoes that has, over time, conformed to the exact shape of my foot and I ran the best race of my life.

Finished the 2013 Bluenose Marathon 10K a full 10 minutes faster than last year!

Finished the 2013 Bluenose Marathon 10k a full 10 minutes faster than last year and 2 minutes faster than all of my training runs!

Now it’s time to say goodbye to my faithful friends and send them off to running shoe heaven. Hopefully I will be able to find a pair of Nikes that I love half as much as my Lunarglide 2’s (they’re actually on the Lunarglide 4 now!) and if they could be pink… well that would just be the perfect way to pay homage to the shoes that took me from out-of-breath-after-30-seconds to 10k’s.

The one when week three ended…

The past three weeks have absolutely flown by. I’ve gone from the week one baby giraffe to the week three fierce lioness and I can’t believe how super pumped I am every day I wake up to be working towards such an awesome goal. In some ways I feel privileged to have such a powerful motivator in my life as being able to watch my physique change from week to week. Seeing real results makes me want to push a little bit harder every day.

I definitely am starting to see some results, too. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I hate scales. I hate how the numbers, although mostly arbitrary and not at all indicative of body composition, have a negative stigma but mostly I hate the discouraging feeling I get when I don’t see the results in the numbers that I feel. I’ve been feeling really great over the last week and knew I wanted to take my body fat percentage before I have my “official” check-in next week and that meant hopping on the scale.

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The one at the end of week two…

Made it through another week of my road to the WBFF 2013 Atlantic Championships and I have nothing but good things to report.

My diet has been smooth sailing, I’ve had no problems staying on plan and my cravings for sweets have literally gone from uncontrollable to non-existent over the past two weeks. I’m never in a situation where I’m bored and feeling like I need a snack because I always know there’s another meal just around the corner so if I want to eat something I’ll cut up some cucumber or bell peppers and snack on that just to tide me over until I get to my next meal. (That’s happening right now actually, I’m munching on some green pepper because I know I have a full meal on the way in a half hour.)

It’s only been two weeks but I don’t think I’ve noticed any real changes as of yet. I should break down and weigh myself (I typically stay far away from scales) so that I can properly take my body fat percentage. I’m trying to get down to 15% body fat in increments of %5 at a time so I do need to keep an eye on how that is progressing, despite my reluctance to ever put any kind of focus on arbitrary numbers on a scale.

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The one with my results…

Tomorrow will be a week since the Blue Nose Marathon so I figured I might as well catch you all up on how I did!

I could not have asked for a better day to run this 5K. It was a tad on the warm side but luckily I wasn’t going all that far. Keeping the course in mind I had set a goal time for myself of 35:00. Again, slow, but I am a tortoise and proud of it. We started running just after the marathon runners which was a little intimidating because they were SO in it to win and I was like, “Yay 5K! Go me!” haha

My bib and shirt!

We all got warmed up with a little pre race Zumba which was fun, and a different way of warming up. I quite enjoyed it except I almost killed the girl next to me when I stepped on her foot. Oops!

Then we were off! I will say that one thing I didn’t like was that there was no order when they lined everyone up at the start. There were nordic walkers and walkers at the front which made it very challenging to try and get out of the pack.

I spent a lot of time (and energy) dodging around walkers, fighting to get myself to a point where I could set a steady pace and stay in it. Every time I tried I would catch up to a pack of walkers that were walking three across or had nordic poles that I had to try and get around.

I had a chance to make up some of my time when I had the most energy at the start of the race but that took a lot of my time.

Regardless, I managed to get myself behind someone who ran about as fast as me and just settled in. The hill getting up to the top of the Citadel was unreal. I won’t lie, it was downright hard. What surprised me though was that it wasn’t the hardest part. I got up the super steep hill thinking to myself ‘Wow, that wasn’t so bad’ but then had to tackle to really long gradual hills and I found those far more draining on my energy. I pushed through though!

Once I got to the top of Citadel Hill and I knew that all that was left was downhill, a flat section, and a slight uphill to the finish I got a little excited/emotional. It was a beautiful view from way up there, I could see the entire city – so impressive. I really had to hold myself back when I actually said to myself, “The hardest part of this is over. You’re going to finish strong.” That was at the 3K flag.

Admittedly, I didn’t finish as strong as I would have liked to. I made a stupid mistake on the downhill section. I thought I could pick up some of the time I lost on the uphill by speeding my jog up to a run. The problem being that I didn’t really slow back down when I got to the flat section and by the time I hit the uphill to the finish I was toast. My body rebelled against me and just came to a complete stop. I had to walk for about 30 seconds but I did NOT want to walk across the finish line.

This is where it gets kind of funny. I needed to run again but my lungs were burning and my legs hurt and I just wanted to be done. So I resorted to drastic measures and said to myself, “Dinosaurs are chasing you. You’d better run.” For some ridiculous reason that worked and I scrounged up every tiny bit of energy I had left and sprinted to the finish line. My finish line photos are simply horrendous. I look TERRIBLE! lol

I finished though (within a minute and a half of my goal!) and that’s what matters. Now, I just want to get a bit faster!

Blue Nose Marathon 5K Results 
Goal time: 0:35:00
Finish time: 0:36:17.1
663rd place out of 1414 runners
179th out of 298 women 20-29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next race: Support the Troops Navy 10K – 19 August 2012

The one about race day…

The race is tomorrow.

I did a trial 5K Thursday and it went better than I had been expecting. I finished in 32:49. Now, for those who are runners that might seem like a really slow time but for me that is about top speed! 😛 If slow running was a sport, I’d win gold.

It was actually a pretty comfortable run. I went on the track at my gym, I started to get a little tired about three quarters of the way in but I pushed through it and really managed to pick up the pace for the last four laps. I’m going to try another one today, early enough that it won’t make me too tired for tomorrow.

The thing I worry about the most for tomorrow’s race is mostly the course – it’s not easy. There has been a lot of criticism in years past that organizers have made the races (5K, 10K, half and full marathon) too “elite” and challenging for the average runner. Marathoners have had issues with a very lengthy steep downhill section while the 5K and 10K runners have had the opposite problem – very steep uphill.

This year they have changed the routes around, moved the start and finish and tried to make everyone happy.

I remember when I first saw the breakdown of the new 5K route how my heart started pounding just a little bit harder than it should have…

Turn left across Trollope Street and Ahern Avenue and head to the north entrance of Citadel Hill. YES, YOU’RE RIGHT, WE SAID CITADEL HILL!!!
TIPS FOR THE HILL: approaching, whether running or walking, the best strategy is to maintain your effort. This means you can expect your pace to slow down, but the effort exerted remains constant. The Hill is steep so shorten your stride and keep your shoulders relaxed. Enjoy the vista at the top and the downhill on your return.
Going up the Hill, staying on the right hand side of the hill with the cones on the left!
Turn right at the top and complete one full loop of Halifax Citadel, the most visited National Historic Site in Canada. Enjoy the best views the city has to offer!
Once completing the loop, turn right down the north roadway (the same road you came up)

This is my route map: http://www.bluenosemarathon.com/ckfinder/userfiles/files/map%205%20km%202012%20-%20F(1).pdf

The marathon has been changed slightly to get rid of the steep downhill, it’s now a street that has a more gradual decline and amazing views of our Naval dockyard. The flip side is that they have to go up a street known as “Giv’er Hill” at around the 15K mark. I almost got an apartment on that street but didn’t because I thought it would be too hard on my car to go up and down that hill – that’s how steep it is for about 500 metres. I could not do it, I don’t know how the thousands of people who are running tomorrow can! I have so much respect for their abilities.

I look forward to the moment that the announcer yells my name as I cross the finish line. It might only be 5K but this is kind of a huge deal for me. Next year when I do the 10K I’ll feel the same. 🙂

The one about countdowns…

I have to admit, I’m feeling a little stressed.

My life has been sort of a whirlwind the past couple of weeks (hence the lack of posts) because I am currently on my internship for school. It has kept me very busy and mentally exhausted so although I have a lot of ideas for Fatty that have brewed, I haven’t had the energy to sit down and write them.

One thing that hasn’t faltered (maybe a little) has been my workouts. I have made that a top priority. My job starts at 8am so it means I have to get up and go to the gym earlier than I was before and I really only have an hour once I’m there. My gym doesn’t open until 5:30 and I have to leave my house by 7:30 in order to get to work on time. So I’m somewhat restricted in what I can get done.

I have had plenty of time to focus on my strength training but my cardio has suffered. I have taken to doing some cardio after I get home from work but I seem to lack some of the enthusiasm that I have in the mornings. This wouldn’t be an issue except that the Bluenose Marathon is THIS WEEKEND.

Being realistic, I called a changed my registration from the 10K to the 5K because I haven’t ran a solid 5K in … two months? Before I started my internship I had been doing sprint training and was only doing endurance cardio once a week and usually on a bike (more kilometres, less time). That has sort of left me in a precarious situation because I feel like I am going into this under trained.

Anyone who runs halfs and marathons is likely rolling their eyes at my pathetic fears of delivering a weak 5K but running is not a strength of mine at the best of times. I am built for strength, not speed. I just don’t want to be disappointed with my results.

I’m going to try and get a couple of 5Ks in this week, then take Saturday off completely to rest up for Sunday morning. Wish me luck, I’ll let you know how it goes!