In the fall I was approached by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute to be one of the telethon success stories. I was thrilled and honoured to be asked.
Some background – in 2003 I was diagnosed with an arrhythmia (supraventricular tachycardia and atrial flutter). I didn’t know there was anything wrong with my heart, having thought that it was normal to feel it beating and skipping beats all the time. Then one night while watching 24, it was as if someone stepped on the gas: my heart sped up and was bouncing out of my chest. I put my heart rate monitor on (being a runner helps sometimes!) and it registered 250 bpm. Off to ER I went, and ended up staying for 4 days while the doctors got my heart rate stabilized. After this I had many more episodes, and my cardiologist and I decided we should fix it. In 2010 I had a catheter ablation, and I’ve been great since! I am so grateful to the Heart Institute, it really did give me my life back!
A small family reunion was held at Steve’s brother’s in Rochester, NY. As is the norm in this family of ours, someone (Cameron) had the bright idea of finding a local race that we could all participate in. The Rochester Turkey Trot is an 8k Cross Country. Cam and the fam had trained in this park and mentioned that there was a hill affectionately known as ‘heart attack hill’. Alright then, we knew we were going to be in for a workout.
We stayed in the lodge (for lack of a better word) to keep warm until the start, then hoofed it down the hill to a line in the sand (so to speak!). I was a little worried because Katie (my baby girl), who had gone to the washroom, hadn’t come back to the lodge, so we were hoping she had made her way to the start ahead of us. Nope. Her sweetie Shervin ran back to find her and show her where the start was. Within seconds we had our instructions and off we went.
I was a bit concerned about Katie though, she wasn’t feeling so great and I wasn’t sure whether she was still going to run the race. Running along I’m looking back for her (nope) and looking at the flags and thinking “hmmm, without instructions how is she going to know where to go? She’s never run a trail race before and won’t know what the flags mean!” I kept hoping that she would find someone to tuck behind and figure it out.
I wasn’t feeling the fitness going in, with November being my recharge month, so I was going to just have fun with it. One woman and I played leap frog the first 5k. At some point I came across Johnny (nephew in law) and we chatted for a bit, and he said that he thought Tim (Cameron’s son) was with Katie, so I felt a lot better. I picked it up a bit, found cardiac hill (yeah, it’s a good one, short but very steep), and finally I was done! Steve and Cameron had finished and were cheering us in. Johnny came in shortly after me, then Katie! I was thrilled for her, because she beat her goal time by 5+ minutes, and said that starting after the gun should be her go-to from now on because she really hoofed it to catch up to the people at the back and then passed a few. Yay! Cam ran Tim in, and we were done.
Surprise surprise, I won my age group! I may have been a bit obnoxious about it, because I was REALLY surprised. I won a beer mug and a shirt. Booyeah!
I may be the last runner on the planet to read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. I’m glad I finally did! It was a bit of a tough slog for the first pages (I’m told 100 pages or so, but I read it on my Kindle so I’m not sure!), but I stuck with it, as instructed. It was so worth it! Once I was beyond the slow start, I was 100% invested. Unlike the Serial Podcast, I came into this aware that this IS a true story and not fiction… I’m never living down my comments about Serial. IMO Adnan is not squeaky clean, but Jay and others should be implicated as well… so fishy!
Back to the book, I knew it was about barefoot running, and some hippie dude in the canyons or something. It was so much more than this! Once I made it through that first bit, I didn’t want to put the book down, and I pretty much read it every spare moment I had. I laughed out loud so many times, felt enraged at others and simply fascinated by other parts. I knew of most of the ‘characters’, and loved how they were portrayed. Of course this is the author’s point of view and no doubt skewed so the best bits were put forward to make it a better read. It worked.
Reading about the race was intense. I could picture every scene, and feel every emotion and pain. Incredible. I went down an ultrarunning movie rathole after finishing the book watching every one that we own, and then all of them on YouTube that I could find. So good.
I read this book during this harsh Ottawa winter and it had me longing to run on the trails again. It made me want to run far, run hard, run in the heat, and run in new locations. Steve and I have had a long list of places where we want to run and race. It’s now expanded further. I’m a little worried about rattlesnakes though.
After the Sears runs I was actively rehabbing my IT band. It seemed to be coming along nicely, I was listening to Coach Ray and religiously following my much reduced training plan. The Thursday after the Sears run Steve and I ran the ‘Wellness Challenge’ 5k, and I had a PB! I have no idea how the heck that happens after attempting 100k, but once I warmed up I went for it, coming in at 23:47… 65 seconds off my previous PB!
While my IT band was still a bit angry, I was given the ok from Dr. Isaac (Chiro) to run Marathon #9 with my friend Mike Stashin, who was running 14 marathons in 14 days to raise awareness for the CHEO hospital’s HALO (Healthy Active Living and Obesity) Research program. I ran alongside Mike and his supporters for the first half, then he and I (and a pack of dogs?!?) for the second half. It was so inspiring to run alongside him, not only is he a tremendous athlete, he is a wonderful person, a wealth of knowledge and hilarious to boot! He also caught a snake, while running, with his bare hands. This is where I exercised my lungs and practiced speed work!! A photo from the finish = my body felt GREAT!!
The following Saturday, Nov 1, was MEC Marathon day and it freaken cold! I was a worried that there would be frost and ice on the road but we lucked out. The MEC Marathon was held on the Gatineau Parkway and billed as ‘Canada’s Toughest Road Marathon’. Don’t believe me?
This was going to be a true test of my leg! The course is really amazing and beautiful, and to be able to run it on the first day the parkway closes for winter… well, it’s special. Steve and I had run all parts of it in training, but we hadn’t run any elevation like this since the i2P 100k. The morning was cold, but it wasn’t raining or snowing, and not horribly windy. We gathered in the lodge and hung out with some friends, including Mike Stashin, who came out to take photos of the event and show his support (did I mention how awesome he is? No? Lapse on my part. He is amazing).
The marathon started out on a downhill at the intersection of the road to Camp Fortune and Fortune Parkway and went down and around the bottom loop of the parkway. The down hurt a bit, but the flat was a great warmup for the first climb. And climb we did! And I felt fantastic! It was really cool to see the half marathon leaders blast past us, and as they turned right at the junction to head to Champlain Lookout, we turned left to go down to the bottom of the Gatineau Parkway. Of course then we had to go back up 😀 . 18km up to be precise. Yeah baby!!
Unfortunately, just shy of the junction I saw Steve bent over in agony with seizing muscles in his back. At the junction I spoke with one of the marshals to give him a heads up that Steve may need some help to get back to the start, and later found out that he did the smart thing and conceded (which I discovered from my friend Sophie who was volunteering and asked where he was since she expected him to be blazing by before I ever got there, and when I told her what I saw she said ‘oh he’s THE BACK’ that was talked about over the walkie talkies). Speaking of Sophie, I walked a bit with her while I had a Justin’s nut butter, then off I went climbing. I then bumped into my niece Elisa and friend Richard at the next water station, they were dancing to keep warm, and near the top shared another hug with Susan, an amazing woman who wasn’t able to run it so came out to volunteer. I also got a hug from a very cheerful (and freezing) Melanie. Seriously, this race was so well staffed with volunteers/friends, it was incredible. Kudos to them, because it was cold, and now raining and windy. My leg was starting to hurt some by the time I got to the Lookout, but I knew that I was all downhill from here (no lie, the next 5-6km are pretty much downhill).
I passed several people on the last 4km of the downhill, I just opened up. I was so glad to get to the finish line (which ends on an uphill?? seriously???), which was hilariously being held up by the crew (the generator ran out of gas just as I approached the finish, so I helped hold it up as I went through!) because I was now freezing, tired, a bit queasy and sucking on a ginger chew. Which explains my expression while hugging my awesome friend Ben!
Ben, who had knee surgery earlier in the year, KILLED this race and qualified for Boston on this course. Seriously incredible!!
This race was tough, but I was elated with my performance once I defrosted. I was very very happy with my finish time of 4:21:42 (6:12 pace) considering the three ultras in the weeks prior, the marathon with Mike the week before, and the IT band woes! This was our last race of 2014, and we are already registered for 2015. LOVED IT. Highly recommended!!
On October 5th, 2 weeks after the Toronto Sears 100k Run, we had the Ottawa to Montebello one! My IT band was pretty irritated still, but I was going for ART and chiro and it felt a lot better. I had strict instructions to stop if it seized. I had my fingers crossed that that wasn’t going to happen. We had a really great run the day before, and came across the run signs!
Yeah, I’m a goof.
We gathered at the Aviation Museum in the early (read dark) hours of the morning to get ourselves ready for the run. Lucky for us, and super crew family Cameron and Monica, we only live 5 minutes away 🙂
Toronto was amazing, we met so many people at the start, (I forgot to mention ENDURrun Michelle was there!!), but in Ottawa it’s the home team. The crew are all very close friends of the GGT family, it was going to be a great day!
The pre-run speeches had us in tears again, and determined to get this run underway to show the kids and their families our support.
It was cold and rainy, but we were in great spirits!
The day was overcast and cool. And then it rained. All. Day. Long.
We had a blast though. Mike S drove his SUV with speakers hanging out the windows blasting music. Then at 20K he stood on the side of the road holding a serving tray with little paper cups with tiny umbrellas in them… skewered fruit. At 40k he stood there in the rain with another tray, this time, gelato. At 60k we were all pretty miserable, and I was freezing and by myself (as usual LOL) and he drove up along side me, and handed me a steaming hot cup of ginger tea with honey (and yes, he grated the ginger by hand on the course). It was heavenly. At 80k out came his Coleman stove again, to make us chicken noodle soup. On a cold, wet, long and painful day for all of us, you can imagine what joy this brought us. Mike is always ready with a smile, a joke, a hug. Top notch.
Also of note, our bike sweeper was repeat offender Trevor. He biked in the cold all day, and at one point couldn’t feel his feet or hands. He asked on Facebook a few days before the run for our power songs. I chose Van Halen’s ‘Right Now’. At one point I was really struggling with my knee, and he put it on. BIG GRIN. Then we played games – if I could guess the song at first note, I get to ride the bike. I came SO CLOSE with Sail (Awolnation), but never won.
Big props to Dr. Troy and Dr. Todd and the whole gang at Holistic Clinic, for working on us when we needed them. Troy fired me at one point because my knee was beyond help and further treatment would make it worse. My prescription – run until I can’t, then walk, then ice at the hotel, and have a drink. And that’s what I did.
Somehow I don’t really remember the ferry ride across, which is surprising because I’m terrified of boats. Once we got to Montebello it was pitch black and the team soldiered on in the dark with our headlamps. We ran in the last bit to the lodge, and it was so wonderful to be finished! It’s a lot of emotion in two weeks!
Team GoodGuysTri raised over a whopping $95K to end kids cancers through these two events. This will make such a huge difference. I’m honoured to have been a part of it.