Sunday, January 10, 2016

At 39, Getting Personal about my Goals, Family, and the Rio Games


January 9, 1977.Today I am 39, which means I am in my 40th year. Yep, the big 4-0 is just around the corner.
Several years ago, when applying for a shoe and apparel sponsorship after my marathon times continued to become significantly faster, I set 2016 as my big goal year. I did the math, calculating how much faster I thought I could get after my debut marathon of 3:28 in 2002, including the addition of baby breaks and potential injuries. I estimated that by 2016, the kids would be in school full time and it would be a perfect time to train and compete, performing at my ultimate best. It also meant I would be 39, likely older than all of my competitors.  
And here I am! I have the Olympic standard for the marathon but am not counting any eggs before they hatch. I must be healthy, prove my fitness, and maintain one of the three fastest times to be named to the team for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There are some speedy Canadian women attempting the standard and I will have to run another marathon if my 2:29:38 is beat.
If I am named by Athletics Canada to the 2016 Olympic Games team, I will definitely be different than most of the other athletes, with the odds against me.
AgeI thought it would be neat to do some research about athletes' ages.
At the 2014 Winter Olympics, the youngest Canadian athlete was 16 year old figure skater Gabrielle Daleman, while curler Jennifer Jones was the oldest at 39.At the 2012 Summer Olympics, the youngest participant in the athletics competition was 15-year-old Cristina Llovera (100 m) while the oldest was 46-year-old Oleksandr Dryhol (hammer throw).At the 2008 Summer Olympics, the women's marathon winner was Constantina Dita of Romania in a time of 2:26:44. At 38 years of age, she became the oldest Olympic marathon champion in history. Previously the oldest man to win an Olympic marathon was aged 37 and the oldest woman was aged 30. And Constantina is a mom.When I competed at the 2013 World Championships, I was the oldest on the Athletics team, and nearly twice the age of the youngest member, pole vaulter Shawn Barber.At the 2015 IAAF World Championships, Athletics Canada's oldest athletes, male and female, were 33.
I've always believed that it's not how old you are but how long you have been at something, which can make you feel old. After playing hockey for 20+ years, I was ready to retire. But when I won the National Championships at the 2010 Ottawa Marathon, I remember saying in an interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au9wMMyNc3A) that I felt like I was just getting started, looking forward to returning to marathoning after a well-deserved break. I had run 4 marathons in 13 months, and we were planning for another baby. Leah was born 10 months later and I ran my first marathon 13 months after she was born, 2 weeks after she finished breastfeeding. I took 7 minutes off my previous personal best and kept setting the bar higher, toward my 2016 goal.So do I feel older now, 5 1/2 years later? Somewhat. I definitely know that I have to pay much more attention to my preventative maintenance routine to keep training and racing at an elite level. But I believe the experience and wisdom I have gained with age has far benefited me than anything else. I know I can't have it all anymore and have recently been able to better choose how I will expend my time and energy while juggling so many balls in the air, which brings me to the next topic.    ParentingI did some google searching to get a better feel for some Canadian athletes who are also parents. I was going to be interviewed for this article, had I chosen to run the marathon at the 2015 Pan Am Games: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/panamgames/2015/05/09/mothers-of-exertion-three-canadian-athletes-juggling-sports-and-their-children.html . It is quite impressive.
A few women in various events include: Rachel Seaman, racewalkerHilary Stellingwerff, middle-distance runnerJessica Zelinka, heptathlete Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, hurdler Their stories, and those of many other parents, are incredible. Of course there are some amazing dads out there - Eric Gillis, Alex Genest, and Dylan Wykes to name a few, who do an incredible job of juggling families while professional athletes but fortunately (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it!) for them becoming a parent did not involve significant weight gain, excruciating labour and delivery (far more painful than any of the 11 marathons I've completed, or bones I've broken!), breastfeeding, and hours of training to return to one's pre-pregnancy body. When I was pregnant with our first child in 2005, I got some disapproving looks and unsolicited opinions about running. Having a supportive husband and midwife was a blessing as I continued to do what I always did and loved. When 6 months pregnant with our first and third, I ran a half marathon and even played a fun game of hockey (respectively). It was a blast! Over the years I've been interviewed by various people about being active while pregnant and breastfeeding and I'm glad to have been a help, including assisting Francine Darroch in her PhD research. Many women have simply been comfortable "listening to their bodies" but some updated guidelines and recommendations would certainly be more reassuring for others.
Ageing is one thing but parenting is another. Being an athlete requires a certain element of selfishness. And when you are a parent and an athlete, you can't be selfish. A parent/athlete can never guarantee an uninterrupted day where everything goes as planned with workouts, naps, meals, and sleeping - to name only a few of the demands in a typical day.
Injury
Lastly, the final factor that will make me different than most of the other athletes is the seriousness of my near career-ending femur fracture that required emergency surgery for the placement of a plate and three screws. I remember telling my husband once that if that if I ever needed hardware, my career would surely be over.
Back to google I went to find a few athletes who are also competing with hardware. I already knew of Reid Coolsaet's collar bone injury after a trail biking accident, which required hardware insertion. In fact, he's shown me the pictures. Not pretty. But his progress since has proven to be unharmed, most recently running a personal best time of 2:10:29 at the 2015 Berlin Marathon, making him the 2nd fastest Canadian Marathoner in history, a title that we now both share.
Other athletes with significant injuries include Kyle Shewfelt (gymnast who broke both his tibias), Silken Laumann (rower who had her leg crushed, requiring multiple surgeries) and Alexandre Despatie (diver who sustained a serious head injury and broken foot).
So, put them all together and who do we have? Not many. But there is at least one that I came up with, and I'm sure there are others. Karen Cockburn. She is one of a few who has managed to tackle the odds by earning a bronze medal in trampolining at the 2015 Pan Am Games at the age of 35 after having a child and breaking her ankle, which required hardware. I was thrilled to read that she is training to compete in her fifth Olympics and glad to have someone to look up to who isn't so different than me! http://www.insidetoronto.com/sports-story/6220115-three-time-olympic-medallist-karen-cockburn-gunning-for-her-fifth-olympics/

So what is next for me in my pursuit to be my best in 2016, despite the odds that are against me? I ran a few rust busters in December - the Tannenbaum 10 km and Boxing Day 10 miler, which went relatively well. On January 17  I will compete in the half marathon in Houston. Earning a spot on the World Half Marathon Championship team would be incredible but that would mean running a low 72 minute half marathon. http://athletics.ca/national-team/athletics-canada-athlete-tracking/#sthash.UtXsXLYz.dpbs
I will have two other attempts at it when I run the Vancouver First Half in February and the Chilly Half in March but it is a secondary goal for 2016. The Around the Bay 30 km race is a likely chance and a perfect fit before commencing specific marathon training for Rio.
My body is healthy and my fitness is steadily improving, which is exactly where I want to be right now. An old girl can't ask for much more than that!
Source for above information: Wikipedia.


First race on my Road to Rio, the Tannenbaum 10 km. Photo credit: Beaches Runners. 

Enjoying a meal at the beach while on vacation in Cuba with Jonathan's family. Running and swimming on the road and  in the ocean in the morning, with a late afternoon session at the gym while not having to cook, clean, do laundry or fetch groceries made for a perfect training week!

Selfie with Coach Rick Mannen, shortly we started the Boxing Day 10 miler. 

Hoping for another Team Canada picture like this one, before the 2013 World Champs. Photo credit: Athletics Canada.

Highlight of 2015 - achieving the Olympic Standard, 11.5 months after my femur injury. Photo credit: Rotterdam Marathon. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Finding My Strong and Staying Focused.

With my pyjamas on and a latte in hand, I am finally taking the time to write an update. The kids have gone to their grandparents for a sleepover and the house is quiet. No hockey. No swimming. A free evening. Nothing. A rare occasion. So here goes...
After discovering I broke the second metatarsal in my foot by simply stepping on a rock in mid August while training for the October 18, 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM), I diligently plugged away at a fairly intense cross training routine, covering 2.5-3.0h/day using the pool, bike, elliptical and treadmill (walking). In addition, I maintained my usual strength training and preventative maintenance routine, and was pleased to keep a consistent body weight in the low 120's and resting heart rate in the high 30's.  Initially I was hoping to still race STWM but with each passing day I came closer to the reality that it would not happen. This was a big disappointment but I eventually got over it and looked forward to again being part of the broadcast team with Michael Doyle and Tim Hutchings. The next plan was to race the Nov 22 Philadelphia Marathon.  I told my good running friends, Dan Way and Darren Lee, who planned to run it and looked forward to a fun weekend. So after 4 weeks with no running and then being given the green light to resume, I logged 2 easy weeks, gradually transitioning from soft to hard surfaces. I then successfully completed a track workout of 800 m repeats, faster than goal marathon race pace, which is always my target after any significant time off. This bumped my fitness confidence to a comfortable level, allowing me to continue with the build. I was so pleased to personally discover that all the cross-training worked! The calendar didn't allow enough time for my usual build but Rick and I believed that with my cross training and quality kilometres, I could run a decent race. I didn't need to run a fall marathon but didn't want to have such a gap between my April 2015 qualifying race in Rotterdam and the August 2016 Olympic Games. However, I did have doubt, which can't happen when you are training for any 42.2 km race. Later in the afternoon after my 800 m repeats, I had some discomfort in my foot. It wasn't the same pain from the metatarsal fracture but still enough for me to know it was time to throw in the towel and call it a season. Risking more damage to the foot, even if soft tissue, was not worth it when I already had my standard. I took the advice I frequently give to my kids by placing my need ahead of my want and told Rick that Philly was a no go. It was actually a big relief.  I was off running for nearly a week before my return to the fracture clinic so fortunately by the time I got there the discomfort, which I only felt when toeing off, was nearly gone. I took one more week off then began walk/jogging again on soft surfaces.
I have now completely nearly 5 weeks of easy running with absolutely no issues with the foot.
I did a tempo workout earlier this week and today was my first track workout. Again I was pleased to run repeats faster than marathon pace. Certainly not speedy when you look at the numbers but with each pregnancy and injury, this has always been the system that works for me. I am not afraid to take the time to slowly get faster. And it doesn't bother me to humbly race the shorter distances, even if far from my personal best times, if it means I am healthy and progressing. I believe I have gained even more strength this time, particularly due to the biking and weight lifting. I logged my longest time ever of 2 hours on the bike, which was actually quite enjoyable because I watched Derek Drouin jump to gold at the world championships. And nearly all of my weights have increased by at least 10 lbs. I am more muscly than lean but know my body will get to where it needs to be.

Now to talk a bit more about what I really went through between August and October. Breaking my foot was a more difficult trial than breaking my leg last year. Really. By far. At the time, my husband was travelling a lot for work and the kids were on summer vacation, leaving me to single parent more than I desired. All while not being able to run. Not a good combination. It was really tough. I felt miserable but knew it was another incredible opportunity to mature and grow in my faith, again believing better things were yet to come. My sister was integral in encouraging me, and the two major speaking engagements I had allowed me to be honest and real about my struggles. I spoke about blessings - God's favour and protection. But more about trials - painful circumstances allowed by God to transform our conduct and character. I shared that I was blessed with so much and loved God, my husband, children and running but that no one is exempt from the trials and hardships of life. Without running I had the physical energy to handle the dishes, laundry, groceries, cooking, and cleaning but was really struggling with the emotional and mental demands of parenting three kids who naturally fought, whined, and got bored as soon as we returned home from our summer cabin. I put my thoughts together and wrote:
I will choose joy.
I will run again.
I will be thankful.
I will do all I can to heal and stay fit.
God's plan is better than mine.
I continued to speak these truths to myself, knowing that this trial would soon pass, again being better for it.
It is too early to feel like I am on the other side of it and quite honestly, between now and Rio I will likely be hypersensitive to any sort of discomfort or odd feeling. But covering myself with bubble wrap isn't an option so I move on with cautious optimism. The next 9 months will likely be the most significant in my entire athletic career. My dad used to say, "Krista, you can't do everything" and I am applying that truth more now than ever. I have already started to say no more than yes in order to keep my plate balanced. Years ago when I contemplated the notion to run in the Olympics, I knew my best chance would be in 2016, particularly because all the kids would be in school full time. It seemed so far away but that time is now.
The goal is to prove my fitness in the spring/summer, all the while being prepared to better my marathon time, should the need arise. It sure would be fun to compete at the world half marathon championships as Canada is sending a team but we won't be taking risks in this build to go after secondary goals.


Doing 400 m repeats wearing shorts & a tank top on Nov. 19 at 15C. Beautiful.  


Spending more time in the gym than outside.

Pool running in low 60's builds character. Again.

Back at the gym. Again. First one there.

So proud of the big sweat puddle after my longest bike ride ever of 2 hours. Got to watch Derek Drouin jump to gold at worlds during this ride.

Have always loved eating healthy. No two salads are ever the same. This one: kale, quinoa, beans, various vegetables, chicken.

Leah always there, assisting me with my preventative maintenance routine.  In this picture, she is giving medicine to my broken metatarsal. Sweetie.

Was a pleasure to introduce iRun's Ben Kaplan as speaker at this year's Kenyan Kids Foundation Harvest Half pasta fundraising dinner.

Plugging my Garmin in again after a 4 week rest. Worth taking a picture cause I was so excited to run again.

Feeling somewhat like a heptathlete with various shoes (for the pool, bike, elliptical and treadmill). 

Seth in pre-comp swimming.

Micah in Minor Atom AAA hockey.
Leah in ice kittens hockey.

Speaking about my trials. 


Still loving this road, next to our campground, even if only walking.

Coaching x country running again this year was a super experience. Micah and Seth on the start line with their best friend, Jacob (on right).

Would still rather race than broadcast but it's the next best thing.

Spiffy new Saucony Rides on a warm November day in shorts and a t.

Checking out the gym before leaving for Jonathan's work gala dinner. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Breaking Bones


Yep, I've done it again. I broke another bone.
Since last writing, I just nicely started to get into the thick of my marathon build for the October 18 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. On August 9, I did the Fergus 10 km, which was a good kick in the pants. I had an excellent base with a great cross training routine and was succeeding in completing the mileage with appropriate long runs but wasn’t quite hitting the interval and tempo workouts. I knew, when entering the race that it would not be fast. Add the bad time of the month, a 30 km long run three days prior, and a hilly course and you get 10 km at a pace slower than marathon pace. I let it go but knew it was time to get down to business. With 10 weeks to go, it was time to focus and push a bit harder to increase the quality of my running. Consequently, I then had a great 160 km week, which included a solid 6x1.2km workout and a personal best treadmill tempo/long run of 40 km@3:57/km with 13k@3:35/km. Then on Monday, at the end of an easy run, I stepped on a rock. When going over it, it hurt and felt like it was happening in slow motion. But I easily made it home and didn't think much of it. It was a bit sore to walk for the first few steps when getting up after sitting but otherwise seemed fine. On Wednesday, I completed a solid 6x1 km workout, more or less mentioned the sore foot in passing to Rick, and looked forward to a well-deserved day off and taper for the August 23 Edmonton Half Marathon. Still, just a bit of pain. It wasn't until my Friday physiotherapy treatment when I realized it was an issue. Both Paul and Patricia determined that the pain was coming from a bone in my foot. It was an easy discovery when they simply pressed on that specific bone, from the top. Very specific pain. Coach Rick was there during my treatment session and we agreed that I had to make the call. If it didn't improve, and got worse, we had a red flag. So I boarded my flight to Edmonton and decided that my easy pre-race day run would be the determining factor. I was so glad to have my good friend Mary Davies as my roommate. It's tough to go through these things alone and away from home. On Saturday we did an 8 km with a few pick ups in the morning and I knew my answer. When I saw elite coordinator, Brian Torrance, I asked him what I would do if I had to drop out of the race. Not a good sign. I emailed Rick that my foot now hurt with running, and was even worse with the strides. I couldn't even imagine putting on racing flats as I knew the walking pain was more while barefoot than with shoes.  So, like a good coach, Rick kindly recommended that I not start. The truth hurt. It took most of the day to process it, going through the denial and anger, fully knowing it may mean changes for my fall marathon. As the day progressed, I chatted more with Mary about it, and enjoyed dinner out with her and Rhiannon Johns, also in Edmonton to race the half. Later that evening, I finally informed Brian and Rick that I would not start. A long way to go to not even start a race. But I was certainly not having another out-of-province-run-a-half-marathon-break-a-bone-requiring-surgery repeat. No thank you. So on Sunday morning I headed to the start line to cheer for Mary and the others and assist John Stanton and the race crew with some announcing and giving medals at the awards ceremony. After the race, I had a nice walk back to the hotel with the women, including getting to know the race winner, Jess Petersson. I then said good-bye to Mary and struggled through a long and teary day, travelling back to Brantford, finally arriving home at 1:00 am. Rick had already been in contact with Dr. Dill who I would see first thing the next day. Monday morning I had an X-ray, which was normal then later a bone scan, which clearly showed a problem. I've never looked at ultrasounds or X-rays like I know anything but this time it was very obvious to my untrained eye. Trouble. The nuclear medicine chief and orthopedic surgeon met to review the results and it was determined that I had an acute break, likely from the rock, rather than a stress fracture. So, Rick, Dr. Dill and I had yet another conversation about my return to running. It certainly wasn't as serious as my 2014 femur fracture. In fact, Dr. Dill explained that an acute fracture often heals much quicker than a chronic stress fracture. So, we decided to postpone any racing decisions, meet again in two weeks, and focus on cross training with pool and bike workouts similar to my training plan. It's kinda crazy that I could walk out of the appointment with no limp, looking completely normal. When I came home and told the kids, it was almost like, "Ya, another broken bone. So what's for dinner and can we go swimming now?". So we headed to the pool and I started my two week non-running training plan. No use in feeling sorry for myself. As a believer, I know we don't always get what we want nor do we ever need to understand why these things happen. I told the kids that God can use us in different ways and even though it's odd, I can keep breaking bones and having great comebacks to give Him the glory. Again, I have peace about this and am only seeing this as the glass half full. I know I have been known as the marathon mom who got faster with 3 kids. Now with a third broken bone (fractured ribs in 2013), we will have to see if I am now also the marathoner who got faster after 3 broken bones. 



Fergus 10 km. Image: Tony Saxon, Mercury Staff. Story here. 



Coach Rick's athletes after Kip completed the Edmonton Half Marathon. Great job, Kip! 

L to R: Jess Draskau-Petersson (from Denmark, living in Colorado), myself, Mary Davies (from New Zealand, living in Houston) and Rhiannon Johns (from Canada, living in Indianapolis) after the Edmonton Half Marathon. Way to go, 1(Jess)-2(Mary)-3(Rhiannon)!

Beautiful scenery we enjoyed from downtown Edmonton.

What a great friend! Great race today, Mary. You are in the perfect spot for your fall marathon!
Pathetic-looking ice apparatus but it gets both top and bottom of the foot. Ice, time and x-training is about all I can do now.

Family selfie taken to cheer me up while on my way home from Edmonton. 
Micah broke his arm in July. Enough DuChene broken bones!

A love/hate relationship with this road now? This is where I returned to running in August 2014, after my femur fracture and where I stepped on the rock, breaking my foot in August 2015.



Monday, August 3, 2015

Summertime: Marathon Training and the Pan Am Games


Here I sit, again in my happy place at the cabin amongst hundreds of beautifully mature trees, a sunny sky and peaceful breeze. Life is grand. Simple. Adored. I love this place. 
Last year I spent a significant amount of time here with the kids and my sister’s family as my husband was travelling a lot for work and I was transitioning from rehabilitation to base training after my injury. The combination of steady exercise and easy parenting with plenty of rest and relaxation was perfect. Everyone was happy; I could do a mix of running, swimming, cycling, and visiting with my sister while the kids could play freely all over the grounds with their cousins. It was a summer I will never forget, particularly because it started with a mere shuffle and ended with my first complete run, confirming my heart’s desire and body’s ability to go back after that 2016 Olympic marathon standard. And on April 12, 2015 in Rotterdam, Netherlands I ran my second fastest marathon ever, in 2:29:38, making that dream a reality. It was incredible. I was elated. Emotionally it took about 2 months to recover from the events of the previous year but I patiently waited until my mind and body was ready to commit to another training build. Unfortunately this meant that I had to forego competing for Canada at the July Toronto Pan Am Games and August Bejing World Championships. Naturally, a marathon six months later in October would be a perfect fit so it was a no-brainer to choose the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. And once again there were so many other great reasons to compete in this event: no travel, less time away from home, nearby for spectating family and friends, an IAAF gold label, a competitive field, excellent care, our national championship, and my “home” marathon. Paul Gains wrote an excellent press release for Alan Brookes and the Canada Running Series. Read it here. 
I am now in week four of my sixteen week build and fairly successfully replicating last summer’s positive experience, splitting time between home and the cabin. I’m back to running in the country, riding my bike in the cabin, swimming with the kids, and loving the time spent with my sister and her family. I will have averaged nearly 135 km and 15 h total training (run, bike, pool) per week for the month with the usual tempo, interval and long run sessions. I continue to take care of myself with a daily 30 minute preventative maintenance routine, and weekly physiotherapy and massage treatments. Coach Rick and I feel I am right where I need to be. 


On June 30 I opened my season with a 5 km rust buster race and succeeded in running a bit faster than goal marathon race pace with a 17:05, placing second overall (first woman). The Peachbud race in Grimsby was an excellent family event and it's always so special to remember the late Race Director, Jerry Friesen. Due to some heavy traffic, we were a bit delayed in our arrival. So I did my warm up, back and forth along the 1 km fun run route while cheering for Seth and Leah who were competing. For my cool down, I switched my shoes and ran with Micah as he raced the 5 km. Jonathan was support crew for the night, cheering us on, taking pictures, carrying gear and getting us to our various start lines in time.   

Here we go again. Another DQ Peanut Buster Parfait before starting a new season free of sweets! Oh, it was sooooo good.


All smiles for Seth.
Micah nearing the finish line for a new 5 km PB of 26:48. 

Go, Leah! 

Sporting the new Smith sunglasses. Love 'em. I'm so pleased to be partnered with them!



Team DuChene
So pleased to be part of Smith Optics.

Pan Am Games

Even though I wouldn't be participating in the Toronto Pan Am Games, I was honoured and privileged to be selected to carry the torch as part of the relay that went through Brantford on June 19. What a fun experience! It was a bit of a hectic morning because I had to train, feed and arrange childcare for the kids who would watch my part on route, and meet them in Harmony Square afterwards for the festivities. But we succeeded. With Mr. Walter Gretzky and several others from Brantford, the torch bearers were instructed in how to receive, carry and pass the torch. We did a little fun warm up to the Pan Am theme song and took pictures before loading the bus. Fortunately we got to hop off to watch Mr. Gretzky pass the torch to figure skater Mary Orr who did a short performance with her partner on the ice at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre. What a thrill. There were a lot of spectators in the building and it was near deafening with the enthusiasm from so many. Eventually it was my turn. The plan was to do the 2.5 km "endurance leg" at about 5 min/km but I ended up running closer to 4 min/km! I must say it felt somewhat like a race with the adrenaline and that the torch was much heavier than I thought. I had to switch arms several times, while keeping it from singeing my hair. Celebrating afterwards with autograph signing, local sport performances, music, games and other forms of entertainment made for a wonderful afternoon. I was ready for bed that night! 
Day 20 video here with Brantford at about 2:40.
And here's the link to the 100 Huntley Street report from the 2015 Pan Am Games, which aired July 20. They followed my story from July 2014 to July 2015.

Mr. Walter Gretzky loves his Brantford.

What a great experience. Photo: Sean Allen, Brant News.

All Saucony at the cabin. Family.
Coach Rick and I will again keep it simple with races leading up to the October 18 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM). I plan to do the Fergus Highland Games 10 k on August 9 and the Edmonton Half Marathon on Aug 23. Until then, I'll keep plugging away with juggling the kids and training while enjoying my wonderful surroundings. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Finding a Healthy Balance between Competition



It has been 8 weeks since running my 2:29:38 marathon in Rotterdam, which gave me the standard for the 2016 Olympic Games. And I think I can finally say I have recovered. Normally it wouldn't take nearly this long to recover from a marathon. After all, it was my eleventh marathon so I guess I should know. Physically, recovery wasn't too bad. I had a minor pull in my right hip, which hindered my training for the national 10 km championship in Ottawa so it ended up being just a fun season finale. But emotionally, I needed much more time to recover. As more time passed and the further removed I became from my Rotterdam performance, the more I respected and realized its significance. I was incredibly grateful and needed time to fully appreciate everything that happened. Making the Olympic standard on my first attempt, just 11.5 months after fracturing my femur, while being fully mentally prepared for three attempts, was something I would not take lightly. I wanted and I needed to smell the roses - figuratively, and literally - the ones from my coach, husband and children. The time was well-deserved and necessary, to let it soak in. And I certainly was not going to jump into too much training or racing, too soon, for no reason. 
I have clearly proven that I am the type of athlete who does well, starting from scratch. From nothing. After three babies and a broken leg, I knew what my body and mind needed. After racing the 10 km national championships, while waiting to provide my sample for doping control with Linsday Carson, she suggested that we do a cool down together. On any other occasion, I would have taken her up on the offer. But I was done. Done. Done. So I politely declined her offer. Instead, I enjoyed a quiet walk alone back to the hotel, had some dinner with speedsters, Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak, enjoyed a hot shower, got into my pyjamas, and savoured a scrumptious chocolate bar while visiting with my roommate, Catrin Jones, who would be running the marathon the next morning. I too was going to have an early start because I was again going to take part in the marathon broadcast. 
In the downtime after Ottawa, life was busy at home. The day after my return, Jonathan left for a week of work. Then I left for Calgary, the day after his return. Talk about two ships passing in the night! I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend in Calgary, providing the national half marathon broadcast for athleticscanada.tv at the Calgary Marathon, and spending time with our 7 yr old son who went with me, and Jonathan's family, which included a gorgeous afternoon in Banff. 
In the last 8 weeks I have averaged a mere 60 km/k of running and 10 h/wk of training (running, pool, bike) with the usual weight-training and preventative maintenance routine. I had some sort of speaking engagement or media commitment every day since my return from Calgary and attempted to keep up with the usual housework and busyness that comes with 1 dog and 3 active kids. Of course, I have certainly included a wide variety of sweets back into my diet, something I enjoy after every marathon. From warm chocolate brownies with vanilla ice cream to carrot cake and pecan squares from Sweets bakery, I have almost had my fill. Not sure I will get one of my Aunt's butter tarts this time but I will, no doubt, end with another peanut buster parfait, before commencing another marathon build. After reading about my Rotterdam recovery, it should come as no surprise that I have decided to forego running for Canada at the Pan Am Games (July in Toronto) and World Championships (Beijing in August). Deciding not to compete for my country was certainly difficult. But attempting to train and compete so soon would risk injury and jeopardize competing my best at the 2016 Olympic Games. Most marathoners run two quality marathons per year and I am definitely one of them. So, I continue to recover and enjoy my off-season while slowly building my mileage and balancing my other areas of life before getting back at it again.  

  






Ben Kaplan. What a man! He works the expo for iRun all weekend, on his feet, AND runs the marathon! Great to be part of the iRun team with you! 


It was so fun to see a marathon finish from a new perspective.  Post-race interviews were a blast.  I must say, I certainly saw a fair share of vomiting that morning!

Amazing marathon debut of 2:33 for fellow dietitian and friend, Rachel Hannah.

Ottawa 10 km, National Championships. Photo credit: Rob Brouillette.

Stunning views in Alberta. Beautiful Banff. Beautiful boy. Life is good. Smelling the roses is wonderful.

So glad we spent the afternoon in Banff, after the race and before our flight home.

We had a few challenges with the broadcast but had fun and got the job done! Click here for the entire broadcast.
A little selfie fun with our Calgary hats before flying home.