Tag Archives: UBC Run Study

The Road to Redemption

Another half marathon has come and gone; my feet and leg muscles no longer ache with every movement I make and my insides are once again hydrated… well, as hydrated as can be in this crazy assed heat. As is always the case for me post race, I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about the journey to redemption: the triumphs, the challenges, the lessons, the moments, the people.

The last 15 weeks was spent again with a select group of women, between the ages of 18 and 60, volunteering their legs for the UBC run study, which is investigating running injuries in women. The road to redemption was not only my journey but theirs also. Like the previous study, most of these women had never run a half before, many were novice, they were excited, they were nervous, some came to the first session with knocking knees. To see them grow, to see how far they had come with their running, to see them push their bodies week after week, to see them not quit, to see them with the biggest smiles on their faces post race – that was pretty freaking amazing. Seriously, my heart is still bursting.

This was our journey – most definitely emancipated from mental slavery 🙂

15 weeks: friends, fun, fortitude

When I agreed to take on the leadership role of the UBC run study last fall, I was at a crossroads with my running; I was in a state that was fast becoming find some inspiration, find something to regain the love, or move on. When the opportunity was first presented, I had some hesitations: I had never led a training session before; I am seriously directionally inept; what about the Little Ring sitting; could I put my goals aside to help others with their goals?


The 15 weeks of training ended about three weeks ago and this week I am about to embark on my second stint as run leader with the UBC run study. If that’s not evidence enough that this was very much the missing link I needed, I don’t know what is.

How could this not be considered fun???

How could this not be considered fun???

Finally, I was happy running again. Some days the program was more challenging than others, but because I was the leader, there was no whining or wimping out, I had to lead by example; it was full boar up those hills, and gust or bust through those speed intervals. And while the numbers dwindled somewhat over the weeks (might have had something to do with the light snow and sharp cold) there was always someone(s) to run with. I was no longer lonely running, which was pretty freaking awesome. But it wasn’t just running with other people, it was running with these chicks!



Finally – finally! – after a crazy long search, I had finally found another group of solid favourite running chicks. Seriously, I am not just saying that. It took all of one, maybe two runs with these chicks to feel as though we’d been running together for years. We griped at things, we laughed at things, we told stories of our lives, and yes, we even talked poo!

That’s huge.

Running with my new set of favourites didn’t feel like a chore. I was excited to get on the trails, the roads, the hills with these girls. I wanted to be out there. And even though the majority of our runs were repeat runs, routes we’d done time and time again, it didn’t feel repetitive, it didn’t feel long. Some of the speed intervals were out and backs multiple times which I normally loathe, which normally feel so tiresome and long, but with these chicks, it was like a snap of the fingers and the run was done. And almost always, if not always, with a smile at the finish.

That’s huge.

So many laughs!

So many laughs!

And so, when the organizer of the study asked me (probably in the best way possible, calling me a favourite) if I’d be interested in taking on another group of ladies, there were no hesitations this time. I knew I could do it. I knew I loved doing it. And by golly, I convinced a few of my favourites to keep coming out, hells yes I was going to do it.

Tomorrow starts the first day of the next 15 weeks.

Here’s to the love of running again 🙂

(Final note: This is a promise: I will be posting about the dynamics of the study and the man behind the study in a future post, just not as of yet.)

All struggling. All smiling.

You win some, you lose some. And yesterday’s run, much to my dismay, was very much in the loser file.

I could not get my bearings at all. My ankles felt crazy wobbly, and the upper half of me felt as though it was going all over the place too. My breathing was heavily laboured. I was crazy overheating. My stomach innards were flopping. And Dear Diabetes was being a major jerk face!

I woke up at 4 a.m.. I didn’t intend to, my blood sugars went low, and by the time I’d finished slamming back some oj, my brain had turned on, my eyes wide awake, there was no falling back into a slumber. That was just the beginning.

It seems Dear Diabetes is making a habit of getting in the way of my Sunday runs these days with her stupid hypoglycemic ways. So I thought yesterday I’d head it off before it had any chance to begin. I had a full banana, instead of half, 30 minutes before the run. I cut my basal insulin by 50 per cent starting 15 minutes before the run. Two seconds before the run, I chomped on two shot blocks. And instead of waiting 30 minutes into the run before fuelling up with my homemade sports drink, I started right off the hop. Surely that would make a difference.


Twenty minutes in they had gone from 9.4 to 5.5 (I further reduced my basal to 90 per cent at that point) and by 40 minutes in, they were 2.9. That sucked.


Four shot blocks stuffed in my mouth and every last bit of my sports drink downed in seconds. Hello gut rot.

Yes folks, if the above issues weren’t enough, the last 30 minutes of my run had me dealing with serious gut rot. It took everything in me to keep going, to focus on the running, and not the disaster that was my body. There were moments where my eyes were blurred, and maybe even a few where they were completely shut, as I tried to find my happy place, the zen running zone, the one where my pace is being pushed but I don’t feel a thing. That, my friends, is one of my most favourite places, and yesterday it was so incredibly hard to get there. But the last 20 minutes of this run, despite everything else wrong going on, was spent in that place. That’s a positive.

I may have nearly crippled myself running in that place though. Heavy rainfall the day earlier left a few sink holes along the trail. Sink holes and blind running don't really mix!

I may have nearly crippled myself running in that place though. Heavy rainfall the day earlier left a few sink holes along the trail. Sink holes and blind running don’t  mix!

8:45 a.m. BG before: 9.4
Temp. basal: -50 per cent (to start) -90 per cent (to end)
Pre-run carbs: 1 banana plus 2 shot blocks (no bolus)
Time: 1:34:24
Workout: 90 minutes: 10′ warmup; 80′ alternating 15′ at half marathon pace and 5′ 30 seconds slower than half marathon
Distance: 16.25 km
Average pace: 5:48 min/km
BG: @20 minutes: 5.4; @40 minutes: 2.9; @60 minutes 3.9
Fuel: honestly, I can’t tell you. I was just stuffing my mouth full of shot blocks and sports drink to keep my blood sugars afloat.
11 a.m. BG after: 9.3
Temp. basal: +110 per cent (2 hours)

As I’m sure you can gather I was pretty disappointed with the majority of this run. It wasn’t just the unfortunate events, it was the fact that this run, in my mind, was to be a measure of how well my training has gone the last couple months. I haven’t written much about it, but with this training program, while it’s not much harder, if at all, than Coach NZ’s program (maybe the hills) I’ve found my consistency has been near bang on, and I’ve really felt I’ve pushed myself well and seen the results in my Garmin stats. And so, with this run, given that the majority would be spent running at half marathon pace, a new speedier pace that I intend to attempt, I made this run was THE marker.

And when everything was seemingly going down hill, I’m not going to lie, there were moments where I felt I failed that marker. But, you know, sometimes there’s just one thing to do: scream at the top of your lungs, EFF IT!!! (Or maybe I did that in my head 😉 )

It was a beautifully muggy morning that felt as though I should be in shorts, not tights; I wasn’t in an area being threatened with the blizzard of the century; I was running with some of the loveliest running chicks around; I was running.

Parts of it were crummy, yes, but other parts were pretty freaking fantastic… like this moment:

Being chicked by a high school girl's soccer team and both of us thinking: Give it 10 years then let's see how fast you are!

Being chicked by a high school girl’s soccer team and both of us thinking: Give it 10 years, then let’s see how fast you are!

And this:

A mid run stripping of the layers. All struggling. All smiling. LOVE THESE GIRLS!!!

A mid run stripping of the layers. All struggling. All smiling. I LOVE THESE GIRLS!!!



Seeking accountability

Dear readers,

I need your help. I am in desperate need of accountability – verbally, writtenly, kicking in the buttly.

The holidays, they have kind killed me, or, at least, my running consistency. Last week, I was not so much a leader (sorry run study!); I was not the example to follow; I did not hold up my running values; I did not put running first. Not by a long shot. Nope. I was the girl snuggled in slippers and flannel pj’s; extendable waist as far as it could go.

Normally on Thursday I run with the UBC run study girls, but because Thursday was Christmas Day, the group run was cancelled. I had every intention to get that run in. At first I was trying to motivate myself with an early morning run that would end with waffles on my plate. That didn’t work. I was feeling pressure in my inner left knee and started second guessing whether I should be doing tempo intervals. I spent the day foam rolling and proceeded to plan for a make-up run Boxing Day morning. But then, the morning of Boxing Day was grey, dark, wet, ugly. I thought, okay, I’ll hold off, I’ll do a run later. That didn’t happen.

I did not run. I didn’t get my Friday run in either, and while I did run on Sunday, it was likely because I had people counting on me. But this week…


I have no one. One of my regular Tuesday partners is heading out of town, the other I have yet to hear from, and Thursday’s run is yet again solo because it’s New Year’s. And I’m freaking out! I fear another Thursday like last week will happen ALL week this week. There will be excuses, there will be ugly weather, there will be phantom aches and pains, there will be more days spent run free than running.

I do NOT want that.

So, I’m hoping with me putting this out for all to see it will force me to keep up with my runs. Tomorrow, I am to run hills, 8 x 75 seconds; Thursday I am to run speed intervals 6 times 3 minutes; and Friday an easy 50 minutes. Alone. By myself. Completely solo.

No excuses.

Get me out of here!!!

“Get me out of here!!!”

8:45 a.m. BG before: 7.2
Carbs: 1/2 banana (no bolus)
Temp. basal: -40 per cent (2 hours)
Workout: 100 minutes alternating 20 minutes easy, 5 minutes half marathon pace (5:10-5:35 min/km)
Time: 1:41:13
Distance: 16:10 km
Average pace: 6:17 min/km
Average cadence: 86 spm
BG: @30 minutes: 6.0; @70 minutes: 5.7
Fuel: 2 x 2/3 (400mL) homemade sports drink, 2 shot blocks
11:30 a.m. BG after: 9.3
Temp. basal: +80% (2 hours)

Chasing the carrot

I’d forgotten what it was like to have a carrot.

Two years of training solo. Two years of doing speed intervals on my own. It was good for getting my mind in the right frame of competitive running, pushing myself to the limit and not prematurely kacking out. But, there is something to be said for the carrot.

Tonight was proof.

My study gals and I did our first set of speed intervals along a straight dirt track, pretty much out and back. All out over the course of 30s; 45s; 1:00; 1:15; 1:30; 1:45; 2:00; 2:00; 1:45; 1:30; 1:15; 1:00; 45s: 30s with a 1:15 ‘ish’ walk break between each.

There’s a few speedy girls in this group, like, super speedy. And I was perfectly fine, or so I kept telling myself, to let them go their pace. I knew what my pace should be and I was going to keep to my pace. Note the operative word “was.” As is usually my style, those competitive juices had me surging after those girls, trying to keep up. When I felt myself slowing, I heard the Kiwi voice of Coach NZ speaking to my feet: “quick fast turnover.” When I felt like I wanted to puke, I sucked in my diaphragm and squared my shoulders. When I heard my breathing get loud and asthma-esque, I tried to channel my inner yogi, but then remembered I have no inner yogi, so I got louder instead.


Chasing the carrot.

In the end, my legs were not as speedy as some, but they weren’t that far behind. And looking at Dear Garmin, wow, I blew some of those times out of the water… for me that is 😉 My normal speed interval pace is 4:30 min/km, tonight, based on the program, I was to be aiming for 4:50 min/km with the 30s sprints up to 20 seconds faster and the 2 minute sprints up to 20 seconds slower. Look at these results:

45s: 3:49 min/km
1:00: 3:52 min/km
1:15: 4:03 min/km
1:30: 4:21 min/km
1:45: 4:43 min/km
2:00: 4:38 min/km
2:00: 4:51 min/km
1:45: 4:40 min/km
1:30: 4:41 min/km
1:15: 4:38 min/km
1:00: 4:17 min/km
45s: 4:10 min/km
30s: 3:55 min/km

(Note: the first 30s is missing because I, erm, kinda stopped my watch instead of lapped it. Oops.)

Carrot, indeed 🙂

5:45 p.m. BG before: 5.2
Temp. basal: -50% 1 hour
Carbs: 1/2 banana, no bolus
Time: 1:09:19
Distance: 8.3 km
Average interval pace: 4:12 min/km
7:30 p.m. BG after: 7.4
Temp. basal: +50% 1 hour
Carbs: 1/4c almonds



Ps. I think it’s high time I brought out the ol’ proper camera so I can ACTUALLY get in-focus photos!

Running chicks FOUND!!!

So. What have I been doing lately?

Well. Not a whole heck of a lot of running… until this week that is. More on that shortly.

Since starting back at school 2.5 months ago, my life has pretty much been a non-stop study hole. I study before classes, between classes, after classes, when the boy drops off for his evening snore fest, and sometimes in the early morning hours when the rest of the loft is pitch black and sleeping. And holy crap, let me just say, this studying thing, it kind of works, who knew (oh right, every teacher in high school and every prof who had me my first go at college that told me so). Seriously, I’m like a friggin’ genius. My test scores are in the high 90s! Oh, and I’m a keener too, sitting front row, arm perma stuck in the air, repeatedly answering questions. I’m like the student that used to annoy the heck out of me … and I don’t even care 😉

But with that, as already hinted, my running has fallen completely off the map. Now, granted, I did not have a good season at all, and the weeks leading up to school starting, I had pretty much already lost all motivation. Sure, I had a few bursts of running greatness this season, but the majority, I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, it sucked. I had fallen out of love with my love for running. And wow, that was a major depressant.


Far too many of these looks this season 😦

My first DNF at Scotiabank; my ongoing blood sugar dramas every single run; losing sensation in my arms for months due to run-induced hypothermia; the screaming battles in my head every time I laced up; my first DNS at the inaugural Rock ‘N Roll Vancouver for no reason other than I didn’t want to; colds, flus, and, oh yeah, there was that time I had Norwalk too. Plain and simple, this was not my season.

I pretty much haven’t run more than 5 or so kilometres since my triumphant Vancouver Eastside 10k in mid-September. And believe me, I riddled myself with guilt; I tried to push through it; I even tried reverse psychology. Nothing worked. It was like you know how magnets repel each other, that’s how it’s been with me and my sneakers.

I needed a break.


Last run of the season; good riddance!

But then there was a tweet, a tweet I had forgotten about, a tweet I saw weeks, or months ago. Something about a run study out of UBC, something about studying the effects of running biomechanics on injury rates, something that was being held fairly locally. Hmm, I thought. Interesting. I filled out the form and forgot about it.

Screen shot 2014-11-16 at 7.47.20 PM

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the director. Not to participate in the study – but to lead the runners! Turns out, I didn’t qualify under the study’s group specifications: examining the biomechanics on injury rates in novice, recreational, female runners between the ages of 18 and 60. Apparently I’m not novice enough; damn those repeated half marathons and marathons under my belt!

At first, I was kinda blown away. Me? Lead a group? Hmm… Well, I am beyond directionally challenged; I do tend to run faster than I probably should right off the hop; I always sometimes complain about speed intervals (but get er done). Why yes, I would be perfect for the job 😀


Anything to be running with running chicks again 🙂 🙂 🙂

So there you have it. The next 15 weeks I will be spending my Thursdays and Sundays leading a group of new running chicks (soon to become favourites, I am sure) training for the Vancouver First Half or Langley Historic Half. There will be none of the racing pressure I’ve put on myself the last few seasons; none of this solo running business I’ve been experiencing the last couple years; but there will be accountability to myself AND others.


Thursday was our first run. Yesterday was our second run. I am still smiling.

8:45 a.m. BG before: 12.8 (yikes!)
Carbs: banana 20 minutes earlier no bolus (see above BG)
Temp. basal: none (See above BG)
Time: 60 minutes, easy pace
Average pace: 6:47 min/km
10:15 a.m. BG after: 6.9 (phew!)
Temp basal: +50% 1.5 hours