A month out from Mountain Madness.

Today I am exactly a month out from Mountain Madness. This is not, or at least, should not be a shock to me. I decided I was going to run this race way back at the beginning of 2014. In fact, in 2013 I knew I’d be running my first half, in a trail, it just seemed a lot further a way then and thus nothing to worry about.

My transition from road races to trail races hasnt been an easy one. Dirty Feet kicked my f***ing ass, and I while I pulled a 2hr finish at Golden Ears, I was only a few from last and felt a bit out of my element. OUT OF MY ELEMENT? How is that even possible? Nothing feels more right for me than a trail run. So, after that cold, drizzly, amazing race in May, I spent the entire summer kicking my own ass in every trail, every elevation gain, every technicality I could find.

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So how am I feel about Mountain Madness a month out? Confident. Determined. Strong, but not strong enough yet. I feel like I still have so much to learn. A few more group runs to tag along on. A few more weekends climbing the hardest trails I can find. I cant shake this feeling like I’ve lost out on time sitting out with injuries. The month of August went down the drain – the first month of the training plan.

On the flip, I’m trying to remind myself that missing that first month was ok. I didn’t sit it all out, I kept working on smaller, less strenuous things.  On top of that, I know I have a good enough base to get me to the finish. If the race were tomorrow morning, I would finish and I would be proud… but I want to push, I want better than my average, better than my usual. I’ve been working on my speed, working on my posture, working on my strength and endurance…. its time for hard work to pay off.

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Long runs are getting… long.

The roads and trails have gotten longer and hairier, the hours in motion are doubling and tripling as the weeks go by which has really been taking it out of me. Emotionally I am drained as well, this year has been an all around doozie. From finding out family secrets, dealing with my partner working away for months at a time here and there, and watching my parents pack up and sell the family home to move across the country…. you can imagine I am exhausted.

I haven’t been blogging as much about my training as I had originally planned. This was going to be “it” for me. After running every 10k I could find over the past couple years I was going to pick goal races and train “properly” and “consistently” for them. I was determined….  and you know what? I still am. Injuries in August got to my head, but Im back on track and feeling strong again. I’ve been following my training plan as close as possible and am feeling proud that even on days I’d rather have been home cuddled up on the couch with my netflix account, I tied up my laces and hit the road/trail.

Lately, I’ve been looking at 8-11km on weeknights and 14, 16 and now a 19km training run is waiting for me on Sunday. This will hands down be my furthest run. Til now I’d hit 15km in a race, 16km on trails and streets several times, but never more. Its intimidating, but its also invigorating.

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When I head out for those longer runs I make one promise to myself: keep moving. Its not about beating my last time, or hitting hard to reach goal I’ve set for myself. Its about small, continuous efforts. Day in and day out. Consistency. Everyday I wake up with determination, go out and kill it…. then I eat… a lot.

Honestly, this post was just a random dumping of thoughts. I go back and forth between am I getting enough kms in? Have I spent enough time on the right kind of terrain? Could I be working harder on glutes and abs? What if my injuries took too much time out of my training? Or… what if I kill it? What… if….

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We have work to do. Welcome to the Grind.

The only thing that went right in my life this year was running. The only thing I continued to grasp hold of as the universe sent me challenge after challenge were my running shoes pounding through the trails. In the midst of everything working against me I found my strong, I decided what I wanted, and I began to work.

On my playlist I have several motivators. Find your strong videos, running and trail running motivation, but this one will always be my favourite. If you’re an athlete, of any kind, then this needs to be a part of your life.

“With each step comes the decision to take another. You’re on your way now, but this is no time to dwell on how far you have come. You’re in a fight against an opponent you can’t see but one you can feel, you can feel them on your heels cant you, feel them breathing down your neck, you know what that is, that’s you. Your fears, your doubts, your insecurities all lined up like a firing squad ready to shoot you out of the sky, but don’t lose heart, though they are not easily defeated they are far from invincible. Remember, this is the grind, the battle royal between you and your mind, your body, and the devil on your shoulder whose telling you that this is just a game, this is just a waste of time; your opponents are stronger than you. Drown out the voice of uncertainty with the sound of your own heart beat, burn away yourself doubt with a fire lit beneath you, remember what we’re fighting for and never forget that momentum’s a cruel mistress she can turn on a dime or the smallest mistake she is ever searching for a weak place in your armor, that one tiny thing that you forgot to prepare for….  And when your time comes and a thousand different voices are trying to tell you you’re not ready for it, listen instead for that lone voice in decent the one that says you are ready, you are prepared, it’s all up to you now, so rise and shine.

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Selfie – Resting On the Trails

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Recovery is never without hiccup.

This is my mildly depressing yet optimistic blog post about how much I hated being injured, and what an asshole my back has been lately.

In August I screwed up my foot. I was incredibly lucky to have only over worked a tendon and was back to walking limp free in a little over a week. I waited through a couple pain free days before getting back to the trails last weekend and had a short, but awesome 5kms on the trail… admittedly not the easiest terrain, we grabbed a chunk of the 5Peaks Golden Ears trail passing the best waterfall, but we kept the climbing slow and ran a modest speed flat and down. LET ME TELL – after 2 weeks of longing I felt ah-mazing. I was sure this was my comeback.

So what happened? Well, in true Amber fashion, we don’t really know. It wasn’t until the next morning… again… that I noticed there was a problem. Notice isnt the right word. I was brutally slapped in the face by a problem. The boyfriend and I had planned a morning hike to Lindeman Lake. We drove over an hour and when we pulled up to the parking lot I couldn’t get out of the car.

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Yep. That’s right. I went to sit up and I got the worst back spasm you can imagine. I’d never felt anything like it before… pretty scary. I tried to move up. Couldn’t. Tried to go back down. Couldn’t. Tried to move to the left, and to the right. Couldn’t. The initial reaction from my boyfriend was of course to get back in the car and leave… but I wouldn’t let him. I got myself laid back down and reclined the chair a bit. We waited, I tried again, it happened again. After a bit of relaxing I was able to get out the car and walk around without any trouble. I was able to convince my boyfriend that this hike was happening… although he wasn’t happy about it.

I had absolutely no trouble with the hike. I felt great and my whole body was happy to be out on the trails on a cool morning. When we got to the lake we hung out for a bit withe a fishing rod in the water. I tried to lean on large rocks instead of sitting down fully and only felt a pinch here and there when I went to reach down for things.

Over the next couple of days I was at the doctor who told me to stop running (why do we go and see them anyways?) and to sit on my ass. Then the physio who told me not to sit still, to keep moving and keep stretching. I like him better. I know myself, and I know that this only bothers me when I am sitting. Today was my 2nd day back at my desk job, and I’ve been taking regular breaks to walk around and do some stretches.

Feeling about 80% about things today. The back bothering is minimal, the ache is small. But the worry is high. My original plan to end the season with 2 more 5 Peaks Races before racing my first trail half at Mountain Madness just isn’t going to happen. Taking it easy isn’t something I am good at, but I’m going to try my best.

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The Stages of Injury.

Stage 1: Denial

When you’re in the first month of your 3 month training program and feeling like a boss, you don’t want to let anything at all get in your way. “Injury? No way. I didn’t even do anything…. I had a great run last night…” 

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What the hell happened?! I went out for an “easy 8km run” around my neighbourhood the Wednesday before last. Sure, I was tired that day and I was feeling pretty run down, but I thought an easy run day was just what I needed. I felt awesome and energized the entire time. Got home with a smile on my face, showered, watched TV and went to bed. It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I could barely walk on it.

Stage 2: Realization

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After a day or so or two of not being able to put much weight on it I had to accept that something was really wrong. The realization was extra awful considering I’m only at the beginning of a really grueling training road to Mountain Madness.

Stage 3: Depression

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First begun the days of limping around the house and office groaning and glaring at whoever pointed it out. All the while muttering to myself under my breath about what this all could mean for my week, month, training, marathoning… etc.. etc…

tumblr_inline_n93dobMXVz1snbmlqEventually all of this muttering and internal worrying leaves me in a state of “there’s no hope, feed me pizza and leave me to die”. Ok, it isn’t that bad, but it sure isn’t pretty.

Stage 4: Acceptance

When I finally accept the defeat… I can be realistic and figure out what’s wrong with me. It turns out, I’m pretty lucky. What I’ve been told is that I have “tweaked”, “kinked”, “over worked”, “hyper extended”…. the thing. So taking care of it is and has been a matter of stretch, walk it off and easy physio exercises.

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You have to accept it eventually, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean you have to like it.

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Osoyoos – Family Reunion, Beaches & Sunburns

Last weekend the boyfriend and I took a mini vacation to Osoyoos. His side of the family had a huge family reunion we weren’t originally sure we would be able to make – but we managed to swing it by leaving early from work on Friday and driving up that night. It takes around 4-5 hours to get there so it was pretty late when we pulled in. I wont even pretend we were cool and stayed up to party… it was right to bed after the hellos.

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I love late night road trips; its pitch black when you get there, so you get the fun of waking up in a totally different place with completely different scenery. It blew my mind a little when the boyf told me he’d never been to Osoyoos, so first thing in the morning, I took him for a drive to coffee and the best view point in town.

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Selfie – Burrard Inlet

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Enjoying the last bits of summer at the inlet on the weekend.

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Run-Hiking – Elk Mountain

Not long ago, the best and I were looking for a challenge…. so as always, I took this seriously and delivered. I know you aren’t suppose to judge a book by its cover, but I just might have chosen to climb this particular mountain because the photos I saw of Elk Mountain‘s peak on the Vancouver Trails website gave me wonderful day dreams.

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Train your mind to see the good in every situation.

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