Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays and some exciting news!!!!

Happy holidays everyone. We received an early christmas present this year. Follow the pictures below and Lucas will reveal the happy news :-)

We are all very happy and excited for the arrival of baby #2. It will be great for Lucas to have a little brother or sister. I am 11 weeks pregnant and due on the 14 of July 2014. As when I was pregnant with Lucas I have been feeling a little nauseated on and off most days but otherwise doing fine. I have been running every day in the mornings (approximately between 90-100km a week) and swimming/aqua running in the afternoons. Nothing too intense and just listening to my body. Since  I am close to 12 weeks pregnant and I am starting to feel less nauseated I am planning on doing some sort of interval work (maybe 200's/400's/800's on the track) and a shorter tempo or fartlek once a week. Nothing extremely strenuous but just to get the legs turning over a little quicker. And of course with the doctors approval :-)

My running goal I set last year of making the NZ team for the Olympics in Rio in 2016 still has not changed and is in my mind every day I am running. My tentative plans for after recovering from the birth in July is to slowly return to running/cross training. Each week I will add a little more mileage and intensity.  I will start with mainly cross training in the pool and on the elliptical and slowly transition to running. I am hoping it will be easier the second time around as I have some idea of what to expect. However I have to be very careful not to come back to fast and get injured like what happened after having Lucas. Hopefully if all goes well I can run a qualifying time in the marathon in either spring or fall of 2015 (most likely fall to allow my body more time to come back gradually). This however will only be possible if everything goes perfectly with no injuries. It will be one day at a time. This is a long way in to the future however it is good to keep this goal in mind. It helps keep me motivated while running every day. Even though I am running much slower than I was before World Champs just keeping the impact on the legs and the aerobic system going is very important to come back faster and hopefully in time for the Olympics.

I am so happy to share the news of my pregnancy with you all. I will keep updating my blog and how the pregnancy is going. I plan to write a blog each month about an issue that is important with pregnancy and running. I hope this can help some fellow pregnant or pregnant to be mums out there :-) I will also post my pregnancy weight gain chart like I did when I was pregnant with Lucas.

Happy running everyone and . . . . .


I will leave you with a few more photos of the family:

Lucas the little biker :-)

Enjoying the sun at Galveston Beach

Thanksgiving holiday at Galveston Beach

Lucas on his cool new bike


Lucas at his Christmas party all dressed up :-)

First image of baby #2. SO EXCITED!!!

Baby #2 is on the way :-)

Dinner out for Gabriel's birthday at Brazilian churrascaria :-)

Papai e Lucas 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Long overdue update

The Scotiabank Toronto waterfront marathon will be held this weekend. I am very excited to watch online and cheer on some of my running friends. However I am sad not to be back. The Toronto marathon last year was my breakthrough race. I will always have fond memories of this race. After the world champs marathon disaster in August I had a tentative plan of running the Toronto marathon. However, sadly I was not able to train enough. After getting back from Russia I started to train again but only if my side was not hurting. Most days I was still in pain and then a couple of weeks after our return my side got very painful and I was very nauseated and felt awful. I went to the doctor and had so many tests done . . . ultrasound, blood test, MRI. It felt like all of my time was at at a doctors office or lab. Anyway from all these tests they found a small cyst on my spleen. I am still not sure if this was causing all the pain during the marathon and after but am glad that it has gone away. Dr McClintock the chiropractor I see thinks it may have been something muscular. I had a few treatments which did help.

After the pain and nausea subsided (about one month ago) I have been slowly adding mileage and intensity. Nothing spectacular or speedy but just building. I am not sure of my running plans for next year yet. Maybe a spring marathon or I may get back on the track and try and qualify for the Commonwealth games in the 10,000m. I have not run a track race since college so I am excited to do a few track races :-) However right now my focus is to get back to the fitness level I was at before world champs. It is so hard once you have time off to start again. I pretty much had 3 months of very minimal running. I could not even cross train due to the pain. So right now I am very happy to be out running again pain free!! I will update more often.

Happy running everyone and to those of you running the Toronto marathon have a great race and enjoy!!! A special mention to Krista Duchene and Lanni Marchant who are going after the Canadian record on Sunday. Have a great race ladies!!!!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My world champs experience . . Not the one I was hoping for :-(

August 10, 2013
World Champs marathon, Moscow, Russia
Goal: Personal best marathon time (sub 2:28) and a good placing.

Result: Absolute disaster :-( I have never been in so much pain. Even during childbirth!!!

Here is my recap:
The week leading in to the race I felt great and so excited. All of my runs had been right on pace. My last set of 1km repeats were the fastest I had done, the last tempo felt very relaxed at 3.21min/km and I was ready!!! However on the Thursday afternoon before the race I went for an easy 40min run and during the run I had a strange stitch like pain on my left side. I thought it was because I had eaten lunch a little too close to running. I had been trying to simulate running at 2pm all that week as our race started at this time. However the pain did not get better and that evening was having trouble taking a deep breath. I went to the team physical therapist to get some treatment. I was a little worried but thought it would be fine by Saturday. However on Friday it was still the same and I was pretty worried. I tried to forget about it and just focus on the race and hoped it would not happen during the race.

Race day:
I woke up feeling pretty lethargic and still with the pain :-( Not a good sign before running a marathon, let alone the world champs marathon. However I put the pain and negative feelings out of mind and went to warm up. During the warm up I could tell something was not right. Just doing an easy jog my chest felt tight. I thought it was my bra so did a quick change before the start. I met up with Krista and Lanni in the call room. We had planned to work together as much as we could during the race which we were all excited about as we were all aiming for around 3.28min/km pace. 

From the warm up track we got bused to the stadium where the start of the marathon would be. Walking out into the stadium was a very awesome feeling and one that I wont forget. We lined up and bang we were off. After such a long and hard build-up it was a very surreal feeling those first few laps of the track to finally be racing in my goal race. I got in to a good rhythm and was feeling pretty good. I was surprised that my side was not bothering me but very happy. The first 5km were great and right on pace. However around 6km that little niggle in my side started to come back. All I could think was "NOT NOW"!! "PLEASE NOT NOW"!! By 8km I was in so much pain and breathing was both painful and very hard. It felt like I was breathing though a straw. I tried to remain positive and just hoped the pain would go away so I could pick back up the pace, however this did not happen. Everything just got worse and I got slower and slower. I ended up running so hunched over to try and relieve the pain. I stopped on many occasions to stretch my side and stomach. take deep breaths, push on the area . . . anything I could think of to try and get the pain away. I thought about pulling out every kilometre since 10km but I had worked so hard for this moment and even though it was not my day I wanted to enter that stadium and cross the finish line!! Also I knew that a lot of the girls were struggling with the heat so my goal and focus through the pain was to pick up as many places as I could. For me that was the most frustrating part. My body was so used to running in extreme heat and humidity that the temperature really did not bother me. I have run in far worse in Houston. The heat definitely wold have been to my advantage had my side and breathing not been a problem. 

From kilometre 10 to the finish is a bit of a blur. The remaining memory is pain and wishing the finish line would be closer. I entered the stadium barely being able to run. Not the finish I had imagined during all those long 30km runs pushing the pace and visualizing that finish line. I was very emotional after the race. Angry, sad, frustrated etc etc. It took me a few hours to come right. Breathing was pretty painful for a few days after. However after an evening of complaining and wishing things had happened differently (thanks Gabriel and Lucas for listening and putting up with me) I put things into perspective. In the end it is just running and just one race. There are far more important things in life and there will be other races and other opportunities to perform. 

The NZ sport doctor thought it was probably a virus that affected the lungs and breathing. And possibly a strained muscle. Not sure if this is what happened but I hope I never experience this again. The doctor suggested getting more tests done when I got back to Houston to make sure it was nothing more serious than a virus.  I have had an X-ray, ultrasound, and blood work done. Nothing really significant has shown up on any of these tests. I am still in a little discomfort when running but nothing like it was during the marathon.  My focus now is rehab and getting the side and stomach 100% right. I have started to run again and am slowly building both mileage and intensity but listening to my body and backing off when I need to.

On a much happier note I had a lovely couple of weeks in Moscow with the family. A much needed physical and mental break form running. Moscow and St Petersburg are lovely cities and I am so happy we got to visit these areas together.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and for all your kind comments following the race. It really helps to receive encouraging messages and feedback.

I will update you again on my progress.

Happy running everyone.
I will finish with a few pictures from Russia

Very early on in the marathon . . Still feeling good here :-) With Lanni and Krista

Start of the marathon in the stadium

Watching the 10,000m and 100m final with the NZ team :-) 

Touring Moscow


Church of the spilt blood, St Petersburg

Enjoying mint tea and Russian honey cake :-)
Lucas practicing running in Moscow :-)
Lucas favorite park in St Petersburg
St Petersburg
Beautiful St Petersburg

Having fun in St Petersburg

Sunday, August 4, 2013

6 days to go and blog about tapering

Only 6 days left until the 2013 IAAF world championships begin. The marathon is on the 10th of August which is the first day of competition. I am currently in Berlin with the other NZ team members. It is great to be around some Kiwis again. I hope I can get some of my accent back :-) The support team here is great and have provided us with everything we need. I am going to the NZ team physio every day. I am enjoying the taper but am missing Lucas and Gabe lots. The longest time I have been away from them. However they will meet me in Moscow before the race :-)

Training since getting to Berlin has been really nice. A drop from 97% humidity to 50% is a lovely change!! Also the temperatures are lower. I was a little worried after training through the Houston heat as I was not always able to be on the pace I wanted. However since getting to Berlin running feels much easier. I did my fastest set of 1km reps here in Berlin which is a nice feeling :-) I arrive in Moscow on the 6th of August. I am excited to get to Moscow and see the marathon course. The IAAF have released the course map but it does not show the elevation. The marathon will be run on a series of loops starting and finishing in the main stadium. I am already getting nervous about lining up on the start line but I know I am ready!!! This has been my longest build-up for a marathon and my longest period of time without injury. It is an exciting time and I cant wait until August 10.

Now to talk more specifically about tapering:
Tapering is an essential part of a marathon build-up. Tapering is cutting back mileage. It is important to taper in order to allow your mind and body the opportunity to rest, recover and prepare for the marathon. Training for a marathon takes months and months of long hard training and dedication.
You don't want to mess that up by not resting enough. In the last 2-3 weeks there is not much you can do to improve your marathon performance but there is a lot you can do to decrease your performance by overtraining in these last few weeks. Below is a link to a paper published in the physical performance and fitness journal on tapering and the effects this has on performance. It is a good read and provides some good information. The most important points from this paper I have summarized below:
1) Decrease training volume in the last 2 weeks 41-60%
The study showed that the length of taper for improvement in performance should be individualized. Anywhere from 8-14 days showed the most performance gains. Anything less would not be enough to reduce fatigue and more reduction could lead to detraining.
2) Keep intensity the same when you drop volume. This is important so no detraining effect occurs and your VO2 max does not drop.
3) Eat a high carbohydrate diet (75%) 4 days before to enhance your glycogen stores.
The paper outlined 3 possible mechanisms to explain how tapering can positively affect performance
a) an increase in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max)
b) an improvement in power and strength which can influence the energy cost of exercise
c) a rise in the amount of glycogen due to tapering may increase aerobic endurance

Link to paper published in the Physical Fitness and Performance Journal:

A few guidelines I stick to when tapering:
1) Mainatain a good diet and do not try new foods. 3-4 days before the marathon my diet consists mainly of carbohydrates. Up until the day before the marathon I consume only complex carbohydrates. These kind of carbohydrates are found in whole grains, vegetables, peas, beans. These kind of carbohydrates are better for you as they provide vitamins, minerals, and fibre, however they take longer to digest which is not ideal before the marathon. The day before and the day of the marathon I eat simple carbohydrates like white bread and pasta and some fruit. I also eat a low fibre and low fat diet the day before and the day of the race.
2) Limit the amount of time spent on your feet in the final week
3) Be confident in your training and stay positive
4) Do not lift weights in the final week. You don't want to break muscle down at this stage

I hope this information on tapering is of some help. I did an interview for a New Zealand radio station which I have provided the link to below:

Happy Running everyone. I will update you on my progress when I get to Moscow.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A key component of my training and recovery: WATER RUNNING

Deep water running with an aqua belt provides a great training stimulus and more closely simulates land running than most other cross training forms. Running in the water works all of your muscles, and if done correctly provides a great cardiovascular workout. Water running also gives your body a break from the constant pounding on land.

Water running is an essential part of my program. I water run 6 days a week for a minimum of 45 minutes. On Mondays I do long intervals in the pool ranging from 8-15 minutes at a high intensity. This is a tough workout but allows me to get in an extra interval session per week. This workout lasts 80-90 minutes. Coach and I call water running 'hidden mileage' as you are still getting a great workout but allowing the legs to recover. When I first tried water running I did not like it much as the whole movement felt strange. But now I love getting in the pool. Even after a really hard workout in the pool you get out feeling more recovered than when you got in :-) Water running is pretty tough mentally. You really have to focus on your heart rate and keep the intensity at an appropriate level. However by learning to focus more in training it has made me a better runner.

 Some key factors to remember when water running are below:

1) Keep upright when running. I like to lean forward a little but no more than 10 degrees. Definitely don't lean back as your legs will come up too high and you will not be able to water run with enough intensity.

2) Keep your arms close to your sides the whole time to mimic land running. It is easy in the water for your arms to go all over the place. If you do this too often your body adapts to this form and can cross over in to land running. I have learnt this from experience where I did not have the correct arm technique in the pool and then when running on land my arms where crossing in front of my body too far throwing off my stride.

3) Wear a heart rate belt to gauge your intensity.

4) There are many types of water running belts available. I wear a very light belt that my coach Ian Babe designed. This belt does not provide as much buoyancy as some which is good as you have to work harder. Other belts that I have used provide too much buoyancy which makes it hard to get your heart rate high enough as the belt is doing a lot of the work. I have also experimented without using a belt. I find this beneficial but only for the recovery sessions. During the long interval workout I need to get my arms and legs pumping really fast to mimic the land running and without the belt I find this is too hard and my heart rates goes too high. 

One of the difficult aspects of water running is gauging your intensity level. It is very easy to get in the pool and not work hard enough. In order to get your heart rate to a high enough level to have any benefit you have to work hard. One way to ensure your intensity is at the correct level is to wear a heart rate monitor. The Karolinska institute in Stockholm published a paper that showed that when running in the water your heart rate will be around 10 beats per minute lower than running on land (J Svedenhag, J Seger - Medicine and science in sports and exercise journal, 1992). According to the paper this is mainly because of the pressure of water on your body. This pressure allows increased return of blood to the heart which in turn means that with every heart beat more blood is pumped. For example if your heart rate in the pool is 160bpm then on land this would be the equivalent of 170bpm. You also don't need as much recovery time in the water when doing intervals. Once a week I do long intervals in the pool. Some of my intervals are 15 minutes long at a high intensity but because it is in the pool I only have about one minute rest between each interval. This is due to the fact that you have no impact on the legs.

I asked my coach Ian Babe to contribute to this blog as he is an expert on water running. Below is his input:

Within Mary's total training program the water running component plays a key role. We try to focus on the following points:

a) Helping significantly in the elimination of neuromuscular trauma created by land running where most activity is performed by the lower body.

b) Because the muscular skeletal system bears no weight in the water the body can recover from the pounding of land based training while at the same time conditioning the cardiovascular system. In this way Mary can improve her cardiovascular system while giving her weight bearing joints and muscles a rest. So in short Mary's water running training component targets both recovery and also gives opportunities of being able to safely add another interval workout and also add extra aerobic sessions. This allows Mary to add more endurance to her programme without the pounding.

c) The athlete needs to be technically correct in the pool, mimic excellence, visualize success, focus, believe. Its all part of the journey.

d) The need for shorter recovery time. Both as fitness develops and also because of the density of the water.

e) Water runnings scientifically proven training gains comparable to land running.

f) water running is mentally tough. It is not for wimps but this factor is also a bonus for tough focused athletes.

I hope you will all try out water running. Let me know what you think. Thank you very much to Ian Babe for his input into this blog and also for your outstanding coaching. I really appreciate your support and guidance on this journey.

Only 24 days to go until the IAAF world champs!!! Next blog I will update you on how preparations are going . . . 

Happy running everyone and let me know if you have any questions on water running. Can't wait to represent New Zealand in 24 days time!!

Can't wait to represent New Zealand in 24 days time!!!

My wonderful coach Ian Babe. Thanks so much Ian for all your dedication and commitment to coaching. 

Running in One Tree Point New Zealand. I sure do miss running here!!  Athletics Whangarei is my club team in New Zealand. Thanks to Athletics Whangarei for there support.

Friday, June 28, 2013

New half marathon pb and plans for Moscow :-)

The Gary Bjorklund half marathon in Minnesota was a great experience. Duluth was a lovely little town and I enjoyed meeting some new and old running friends. I had been trying to get entered in to the USA half marathon champs which was on the same day and the same course just 20 minutes earlier however I could not as I am not a USA citizen. However I was able to enter as an elite in the general race. I was not sure if there would be any competition but Ian Babe and I decided that it was important for the build-up to the world championships to do a half and put in a really hard effort.

I enjoyed warming up and actually feeling a little cold. There was some light drizzle around for the start and very foggy but the temperature was perfect. Houston has been really hot and very humid lately which makes training harder. It was a nice break from these conditions. Just before the race started I asked around to find out if any one was wanting to run sub 1:11. I met one guy who was aiming for 1:12 and one guy who wanted to run around 1:10. I decided to go out with the man wanting to run 1:10 and see how I was feeling. For the first 4 miles I ran with him and was feeling good however I felt the pace was getting too much and then after this I ran by myself the whole way which always makes it harder to keep focused and hit the right splits. My goal was to run sub 1:11. I fell short of this by 07 seconds. I was a little disappointed when I crossed the finish not to go under 1:11 and regretted not sticking with the lead man for longer. I also felt I had not given everything I had when I finished and felt I lost a little focus in the middle of the race. However overall I was happy with the effort and excited to have a new half marathon personal best. I learnt a lot during the race and am excited to improve on what I was disappointed with during the marathon in Moscow!! The course was good. Rolling hills and flat. Just the finish was not great as there were a lot of sharp turns which really slowed me down when I wanted to be pushing hard. I was pleased when I crossed the finish line to hear that my time was faster than the women who won the USA half champs.

There are only 7 weeks left until World Champs and I am very excited. My tickets are booked which makes everything seem more real. I will go to Berlin first as the New Zealand team is having a training camp there. I leave Houston on the 28th of July (one day after Lucas 2nd birthday) and stay in Berlin until the 6th before heading to Moscow!!! After the marathon we are traveling in Moscow and St Petersburg for 2 weeks which will be great!!

The next 5 weeks I have to really push hard and be focused. Then I will start to taper. I have to keep paying attention to all of the details: Getting active release done, eating properly, stretching and strength exercises, and foam rolling. A key area during this build-up in the Houston summer is to keep well hydrated. I have been making an extra effort to drink more fluids and have started drinking more eload (a Canadian brand recovery drink) after long runs and workouts. Also I have had to switch my weekly tempos and a few 2 hour runs to the treadmill to give my body a break from the heat and allow me to go at a quicker pace. Not the most ideal situation but as long as I am doing most of my running on land Ian and I are confident it will work out well. At least by training in these extreme conditions my body will get used to the heat as the marathon in Moscow will start at 2pm and could potentially be quite warm.

I will keep you updated over the next few weeks as to how the last phase of training is going. The next blog will be about water running!! A part of my training that is key to keeping me healthy and to get in extra mileage without the pounding.

Excited to cross the finish line with a new personal best!!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Walking a tight rope and Gary Bjorklund half marathon

After the Ottawa 10km I had some small problem with my hip. The tightness and little pain only stopped me from a few trainings but reminded me that preparing for the marathon is like being on a tight rope. Every week the body is getting pushed to its limit and each week the goal is to get a little quicker than the week before. Over the years I have learned to listen to my body and these warnings signs and take action immediately to get these small niggles taken care of before they turn in to an injury. The same day I felt the tightness I went to see Dr McClintock for active release. This helped but still I was having tightness and it was a little sore the next day while running. l talked with Ian Babe (coach) and we decided to skip the interval training on the track and do it in the pool water running instead. Although not as fun still a great workout and makes you mentally stronger. The hip is better now. Dr McClintock thinks it was my gluteus muscle that got really tight where it attaches on to the iliac crest. Hopefully no more niggles before world champs!!!!

Tomorrow I am running the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon (part of Grandmas marathon weekend) in Duluth, Minnesota. It will be my last race before the world champs marathon in August and I am very excited to race.  I have enjoyed a short taper and am ready to put my fitness to the test. It will be great to get out and push my body and see what I can do. I am not sure what the competiton will be like as most of the really fast ladies and men will be competing in the USA half champs which is on the same course as the Gary Bjorklund half just 40 minutes earlier. As I am not a US citizen I could not enter in to this race but was able to get a spot in the general race. The organizers have been so wonderful and I wanted to give special mention to Sarah Culver for all her extra work in getting me entered as an elite in the general race. The weather does not look the best for tomorrow. Possible rain and thunderstorms but I am just focuing on the race and my splits and will try not to let the weather affect this. Duluth is a lovely little town and I am staying in Fitgers Inn which is located right on Lake Superior. The inn first started as a brewery and the bulding was built in 1857. It is nice to stay in such a unique and historical place.

I will update you after the race and let you know how it went.
Happy running everyone!!!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Great weekend in Ottawa!!!

The Tamarack Homes Ottawa 10km run was held this past Saturday. It was a great opportunity to test how the training was going, get some speed in to my legs, and hopefully give me some confidence. Also my body needed a drop in the volume from the heavy training for the world marathon champs.  I really enjoyed going back to Ottawa. Even though we are enjoying Houston I really miss the Canadian running community. It is very close and everyone knows each other so well. I hope to run in Canada more often in the future. It was great to catch up with some old friends and to meet some new ones. I had a lovely time rooming with with another marathon mum Krista Duchene. She is such a lovely lady and good friend. We are always emailing each other about problems we are having or questions relating to running which is very helpful as marathon running can be a pretty lonely sport sometimes. I also enjoyed running with Lanni Marchant Sunday morning after the race. We have both lived in Ottawa so it was nice to re visit the Ottawa river and the lovely pathways that Ottawa has to offer. Definitely something else I miss about Ottawa.

Now to the race: The women's race started at 6.26 pm and the men would start at 6.30 pm. We had 4 minutes to get a head start on the guys and try not to get passed.  We were off and at a very quick pace. I missed the first kilometre mark but apparently we went through the first kilometre in just over 3 minutes!! Too quick considering there was still 9km to go. I was with the front pack for just over 1km until they put on another surge. I decided not to go with them as the pace was too quick and I was pretty sure some of the ladies would drop off near the end. I tried to stay as close as I could and felt as though I got in a good rhythm even though I was running by myself. It was encouraging to see that every kilometre I was not losing any ground on the front pack and maybe even catching a little.

I went through 5km in 15.53!! A new pb in the 5km even though it doesn't count as one. I was a little worried when I saw my 5km split and hoped I had not pushed too soon. However I felt so strong and I could feel I was making ground on the lead group. I knew once we hit 6 km there would be some head wind so I really tried to mentally prepare for this and push through it. By 7 km the front pack was falling apart and I started to pass some ladies. Always very motivating and gives you a little extra energy. The crowds were great and really behind the runners. At 8.5km I passed the lady who was in third and was really starting to feel the pace. I was not sure if I would be able to hold on to third place. In other races this is the point I normally lose focus and seem to almost give in. However in this race I found I could really push my body and mind to keep going and pick up the pace. By 9km I had made a bit of a lead on the lady behind and was just wanting the finish line to be closer. Then I heard some heavy breathing and very fast foot steps and vrooom the leading mens pack went flying past and made me feel as though i was standing still. I even managed to laugh at how fast they went by. They were really moving. This gave me an extra kick and I really tried to sprint. I could see the two female leaders up ahead and was making ground on them but I was too late to catch them. I crossed the finish line in 3rd place with a time of 32.08 (average 3.13min/km or 5.10min/mile).  A 45 second personal best which I am thrilled about. I was also really happy to hear of the great performance by Lanni Marchant and Krista Duchene (first and second placed Canadian runners) who ran huge personal bests :-) Good sings for Moscow girls!!!

There is a replay of the Ottawa 10km that can be found at the following link. You can see shots of me in the background.

There are 71 days to go until the world marathon championships in Moscow!!! The time is flying by but I still have a lot of work to put in before that. My next race will be the Grandmas half marathon in Duluth, Minnesota on June 22 as a tune up race.

My next post I will focus on water running. How to perform it effectively and why it so beneficial.

Happy running everyone.  I will finish with a few photos from the race and of course little Lucas :-)

Start of the Ottawa 10km - Elite women start 4 minutes ahead of elite men :-)

Just after the start of the elite women's 10km
During the 10km 

Lanni Marchant and Erin Burrett - Lanni and I went for a nice run along the Ottawa River the morning after the race :-)


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Training Update and Active Release Therapy

Hi all

I am endeavouring to make my blog more interesting. Once a month I will post a blog and will focus on one subject that I feel is important for successful running. I will try to ask an expert in each field to provide information also. Of course I will still provide updates on my training and upcoming races but I want this blog to be of some help to others not just about my training and my racing. I will start each week with a short update on how my running is going or any races or race recaps. Then I will focus on one important topic. Let me know if there is any topic that you would like me to higlight.

After recovering from bronchitis and the flu my training has gradually gotten better and I am back to the same shape I was in before getting sick :-) I have been preparing for the Houston heat and so far it has not been too bad. A little humid some days but overall manageable. I know in weeks to come this will change and my body will have to adapt. My next race is the Ottawa 10k on the 25th of May. This will be my first race since the New York half. I am very excited to race again and to be going back up to Ottawa. Race weekend is always a lot of fun. I am especially looking forward to catching with fellow runners Krista Duchene and Lanni Marchant. The elite list released a few weeks ago looks very competitive and I am already getting a little nervous. I will provide another update on the 10k closer to the time. Now to switch gears and focus on Active Release Therapy:

I will start this week with Active Release Therapy (ART). When I mention to other runners that I am getting active release some people have not heard of it before. I would like as many people to know about ART as it is so beneficial not only for running but for everyday activities. Before finding this technique I found that I was always stiff and more prone to injury. I had no flexibility, decreased range of motion, and my stride was very limited. I have been regularly getting active release for the past two years and have seen great improvements in these areas. First I was getting treatment from Arthur Cuenco in Ottawa and now with Dr. Lance McClintock in Houston at Greenway Chiropractic. I go to see Dr McClintock every week sometimes twice if I feel something is tight. I firmly believe this is a key aspect of running injury free. I wanted to provide you with some helpful information about ART and how it may help you. What it is and why it is so beneficial. I decided to call in an expert to do this and Dr McClinctock gladly obliged. Below is his piece on ART. If you are in the Houston area I highly recommend booking an appointment with Dr. McClintock.

Decreased Mobility?
Chronic Tightness?

While some injuries are caused by a traumatic injury, such as a fall or tear, a large majority of injuries result from repetitive motion and improper biomechanics. These injuries are known as overuse injuries or accumulative trauma injuries.

These injuries lead to the formation of scar tissue and adhesions, which hinder the proper movement and function of soft tissues (muscles, ligament, tendons, and nerves). This can result in symptoms of pain, decreased range of motion, stiffness, numbness, tingling, and weakness.

Active Release Techniques or ART®, is considered the gold standard in treating these soft tissue injuries. We evaluate the tightness, texture and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Then treat the abnormal tissues by combining precisely directed tension with specific patient movements. The goal of ART® is to return tissue to its correct tension, texture, movement, and function; thus eliminating pain and increasing performance.

Common Conditions treated with ART®:
• Plantar Fasciitis
• Shin Splints
• Ankle Sprains
• Achilles Tendonitis
• Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
• IT Band Syndrome
• Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
• Groin Strains
• Iliopsoas Syndrome
• Hamstring Strains
• Piriformis Syndrome
• Sciatica
• Lumbar Radiculopathy
• Lumbar Strains
• Rotator Cuff Injuries
• Rotator Cuff Impingement Syndrome
• Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)
• Subacromial Bursitis
• Bicepital Tendonitis
• Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
• Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
• Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
• Tension Headaches/Migraines

Dr. Lance McClintock, DC

Thanks for your input Dr McClintock and valuable information. I hope you all find it helpful. Give ART a try and see if it works for you. Let me know how it goes. I will finish this blog with a few photos.

Happy Running everyone!!!!

Mothers Day dinner

Mothers day dinner with my mother-in-law Eurides. 

Off swimming :-) 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bronchitis/Flu update and Exciting news!!

Bronchitis and the flu are definitely no fun!!!! After racing the half in New York City my doctor told me to do no physical activity for about a week or until I could breathe without coughing and my resting pulse had returned to normal. Not having suffered from bronchitis before I was thinking it would just be a few days and I would be feeling back to my old self. Well this definitely was not the case.  I had fever off and on for three days, aching body, difficulty breathing . . . and the list goes on and on. I cant remember being that sick before.  I would normally be very anxious not being able to run but with how bad I was feeling I could not even imagine running. Just walking with Lucas to the park got me exhausted!!! I tried to go for a light 30 minute jog 5 days later and could only make it 12 minutes.  Every muscle was aching and I felt so weak. Definitely too soon to try running!!! 10 days later I managed to do 40 minutes with not too much effort. Since then I have been slowly increasing the volume and intensity but being careful about it. The time off gave my body and mind a forced rest that I would not normally have taken.  Now I can start my build-up to Moscow with fresh legs and mind.

Anytime you get injured or sick it makes you really appreciate the days you are healthy and are able to run.  Some days when the training gets really tough and motivation is lacking it is good to remember the times when you have been injured or sick.  When I do this the thought of not being able to run always pushes me out the door as I know how tough it is when you cant train. You also learn to really respect your body. The amount of training day in and day out that is required to run the marathon is a real strain on the body both physically and mentally. However hard the training is though I just love to run and am so happy I am getting the opportunity to do what I love.

During the week when I was really sick and feeling awful I got some very exciting news from Athletics New Zealand. I had been officially selected as part of the team to run in Moscow. It was great to get confirmation as I can now really focus all my attention to the marathon. I am very honoured and proud to be chosen to represent New Zealand.  I am really excited about the trip to Russia. It will also be a family holiday as Gabriel, Lucas and Gabriel's Mum Eurides will also come. It is always great when Lucas and Gabriel are there when I am competing. I feel I push that little bit harder as they always try and follow me on the course to cheer me on and I know when I cross that finish they will be there waiting. I will never forget the day when I won the Toronto marathon seeing Lucas and Gabe. It was such a special time to have Lucas in my arms.

I am planning on doing a few races before the Worlds which I am looking forward to. My tentative race schedule is below:
May 04 - Lone Star Stampede 10km, Houston
May 25 - Ottawa 10km, Ottawa
June 23 - Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, Vancouver

I may also do some local race in April but will have to see how the training goes. I am looking forward to going back to Canada to race. The race weekend in Ottawa is a great event and the city of Ottawa really gets behind it. Also spring in Ottawa is beautiful and hopefully the tulips will still be in bloom.

I will end this post with a few photos from Easter. Lucas really enjoyed hunting for eggs and seeing what was inside. Although he did not eat any of the easter treats he loved the looking part. It was fun to watch. He is already 20 months. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. I feel so lucky to have such a lovely little boy.

Happy running!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New York City half recap and bronchitis

I was so excited heading in to the New York City half and had set big expectations for myself. I wanted to be top 10 and run a personal best - under 1:11.50. Both of these I did not achieve as I came 15th and ran 1:12.06. I was very disappointed after the race and could not really explain what had happened. Right from the beginning I just could not get on pace. My goal was to run 3.20 min/km or around 5.21 min/mile pace.  My pace ended up being 3.25min/km or 5.29 min/mile.  I am nearly doing this pace every Saturday in my 70 minute tempos so quite frustrating.

At the start line I was nervous but very excited. Lining up and seeing all these amazing runners everywhere was great. Even though I had warmed up very well I was still freezing and waiting for the gun to go off seemed like forever. The temperature during the race was minus 1 celsius which my body was not used to after being in Houston for 6 weeks where the temperature averaged around 20 celsius.  Once the gun went off I tried to forget about the cold and just focus on getting in a pack and pushing through the first 10km in Central park as this was the hilly section of the course. I passed the first mile in 5.27 - already well off pace. I just kept thinking about pushing strong and trying to increase my pace. I got in to a small pack which was good and we were able to push the pace a little. However at 5km there was a big hill that seemed to go on forever. I just could not function up the hill and the pack got away from me.  I tried to stay focused and kept the pack in sight and used this as my motivation to catch up. Once we got out of central park my goal was to really push and get back on pace. However my body just did not feel right. My legs were heavy and still cold and just could not move faster :-( I caught up and passed a few girls after mile 10 and just wanted to get to the finish. I was still hopeful at mile 10 of a personal best but crossed the line short.

My splits are below:
5km: 16:53  10km: 34:21   15km: 51:24   20km: 1:08.22  Finish time: 1:12.06

After returning to Houston I began to feel really bad and had fever, headache, bad cough and aching chest and back. I went to see the doctor and found out I have bronchitis and the flu. Not a very nice combination :-( I did have some coughing before the race so not sure if the bronchitis was starting then and maybe this had some impact on my performance in the half. Or maybe just a combination of everything. I have to take about a week off from any physical activity until my resting pulse is close to normal (normally 45bpm and now 88bpm) and I don't have trouble breathing in. I have to give my lungs a chance to recover. Also this small break may be what my body needs before the build-up to the world championships in Moscow on August 10.

Even though the race did not go as I wanted racing in the New York City half was a great experience and I was lucky enough to be amongst some of the best runners in the world. It was lovely to meet some new runners and get some new contacts. It is always great hearing other runners ideas on training and racing. You always come away with valuable information. The course was beautiful and running through Times Square was exciting (even though I could not pay too much attention to the surroundings). I also got to meet David and Jane Monti and the other New York Road Runners staff. They all did such a great job in hosting the athletes and putting on a great event.

I am very excited to announce a new sponsorship with Lance McClintock. He is a wonderful chiropractor who I am going to every week to get therapy and active release. Lance is a great guy and I am very grateful for his services and sponsorship. As every runner knows a critical part of training and improving is staying injury free. Seeing Lance every week and getting therapy is one way of doing this. If you are in the Houston area and need treatment I would highly recommend Lance. Lance works at Greenway Chiropractic. Their phone number is 713-355-5343. The link to his website is:

Also thanks to Mizuno for their continued support. It was exciting to put on the lovely yellow uniform and be racing under Mizuno. Congrats to Caroline Rotich also Mizuno runner who won the race!!

Photo during New York City half

Thursday, February 28, 2013

New 10km PR and listening to my body

The Conoco Phillips Houston rodeo 10km run was on Saturday. It was a great opportunity to get in a race before the New York half. I finished first female with a time of 32:53. A new PR which I am pleased about. It has been a long time coming. My previous best was 33:08 on the track back in 2006.

I was excited for the race however had developed a cough or some virus a few days before which always makes for a tough day. The goal was still set for sub 33 minutes however I was hoping to run closer to 32:30. I passed the first 5km in 16:12 and felt great. I thought I would have been able to keep this pace going however my second 5km slowed to 16:41. A couple of factors came into play in the second 5km. First I thought that the course would be pretty much flat all the way however the second half of the course was slower due to three overpasses (bridges) and a slight headwind. Also I feel I lost focus from 7-8km and did not push hard enough. Even though I was very happy with the PR, I was frustrated with myself as I crossed the finish line feeling as though I had not given everything. Overall a good day and tune-up race before New York half.

Also this week I had to listen to my body. Sunday after the race I went for a run and afterwards my left quad was pretty sore and I was very worried about an injury especially with New York half right around the corner. Monday morning I went to see Dr. Lance Mclintock at Greenway Chiropractic here in Houston. He assessed my quad and performed active release. He thought there was a slight strain of the vastus medialis and advised me to cross train Monday and Tuesday. He also advised me that my glutes were not firing effectively and gave me plenty of exercises to help strengthen these areas. If this had happened last year I probably would have just gone and run hoping it would clear up. However I have learnt that even the smallest niggle needs to get looked at straight away to prevent the injury from getting worse. I am so glad I went to see Lance. I went back to see Lance on Wednesday and thankfully the pain has gone and I started running again. Still doing some cross training to gradually ease back to normal training. I will keep seeing Lance every other week to get active release and treatment to help avoid injury.

I am also very thankful that my coach Ian Babe has so much knowledge regarding water running. I was able to switch over all my training in to the pool very effectively for the 3 days. Even though doing a 6 x 1200m workout, (which is normally on the track) or a 90 min run in the pool is not as fun you can definitely work just as hard and get your heart rate elevated.

I am really excited for New York half and hopefully no more niggles or sickness. Also a big thank you to Mizuno for their continuing support. I just received a package of my favourite shoes (mizuno wave precision and wave ronin) and a new racing kit which will be great to wear in New York.

I will end this post with a few photos from after the race. Don't worry we did not have to race in the cowboy hat to enter the rodeo run. The hat was one of the prizes :-)