Setbacks Are An Opportunity For A Killer Comeback

comeback

Two weeks ago, I ran my umpteenth obstacle course race this season. I’ve completed about 12 Spartan Races and a Tough Mudder this summer, and those were considered to be the ‘harder’ obstacle races.

It was raining the day of the Badassh Dash in Kitchener and I was running in the Elite heat. The Elite heat was a bit longer than the regular scheduled 7km course and had different options (which are harder) at the obstacles for the Elites. It was raining that morning so it made everything slippery and some obstacles harder than they actually were. As I was climbing up the slippery wall using the rope, I let go of my left hand to grab the top of the wall and then my right hand grabbed the top. As I tried to hoist myself up and over the wall, my foot slipped and I jerked back while still holding on the the top with both hands. At this point I heard a popping sound in my right and knew then and there, that my shoulder had popped. I’ve never dislocated a shoulder before but the popping sound and minor pain made me very aware that it was dislocated. I hung there for a bit not knowing if I should go back down or climb over the wall to the other side and use the rope to get down. I ended up pushing myself over the wall and once I grabbed the rope on the other side, I asked a Medic if he could help  me down because I popped my shoulder. As he put his hands on the base of my feet and lowered me down, I was still holding on to the rope. My arms were extended and I heard another popping sound. This time, it felt like my shoulder popped back in. As I stood on the ground, the Medic asked if my breathing and heart rate was okay. Then he made me raise my hands over my head and squeeze his hand to make sure I was fine. I felt fine and he said it was my decision if I wanted to continue or not. So of course, I decided to continue the race.

I was cautious and was running with my left hand holding onto my shoulder. About 20 minutes after, I got to another climbing obstacle and I  slowly started climbing over the wooden bars and heard another popping sound. I knew this time I had to stop. I tried to climb over the wall and the pain was getting stronger as I was making my way down. I was weak in my right hand and could barely grip the bars anymore that I had to jump down. The volunteer asked if I needed a Medic and I said yes. When the Medic got there, I was hoping they would be able to pop it back in and that I could finish the race. Not the case. 😦 He said he had to take me back down to the Medic tent and get it looked at there. I asked how far I was in the race and the volunteer said more than half way. I asked if I was able to run it and the Medic said no and that it may get worse. Being an athlete and having participated in numerous obstacle course races for the past two years, my pain threshold was pretty high. I’m used to pushing through the pain, the unpredictable weather, the difficulty of obstacles; but having an injury was too serious and as much as I wanted to finish the race and earn that medal, I knew I had to be smart and called it quits. It was my FIRST DNF ever.

As I was being taken down on the ATV, all I could think about was that I didn’t finish the race. I was sad and disappointed in myself. When I found out that I had to immobilize my right shoulder for four weeks, I was totally bummed. I was sad I would no longer be able to compete in the Spartan Race World Championships in Killington, Vermont the week after with athletes from all over the world. That was the race I had been training for. To compete in the hardest obstacle race terrain of all obstacle races. It was the ultimate challenge and I thought I was ready to tackle it. I had also been training for my first marathon and felt good that my training was on track. Now not being able to run for four weeks and my next check up at the hospital being four days before the marathon, I was at a loss of what to do.

Everything happens for a reason. At least I hope they do. Perhaps I was not ready for the World Championships and that I would have gotten injured in Vermont. It’s probably better to get injured on home soil with health care then in another country. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. There is a reason I needed this four week break. I am not able to drive, go to work (I’m right hand dominant), and can not run or even walk with some pain in my shoulder. There is a reason for all of this. I just don’t know what it is yet.

With 19 days left until the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, it’s panic mode. I have not been running or doing anything active in the last two weeks. Even if I was not able to run the marathon, I still wanted to be able to walk it. I decided I needed to start taking action and do what I can with what I have. I decided to make the best out of my situation. I did my first workout in two weeks!

Photo Collage Maker_k4m9Hj

I have not decided if I will still run the full marathon or walk it. If I will downgrade to a half marathon instead of the full. So many decisions to make and so little time remaining. I know this race will no longer be a goal time race for me. It will just be a goal of completion.

I cannot wait until my sling comes off and I can get back to running and training again. Being off for two weeks now, I was able to set some new goals and plan some of my races for 2015. I know I will be back better, faster, and stronger than I was before my injury. There is always room for improvement and I have lots to improve on. I will turn my setback into a killer comeback! 🙂

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Training For My First Marathon: 6 Week Countdown

GetStronger

With the prospect of completing my first marathon looming around the corner;  I decided to write a weekly recap of my training and my road to STWM. Not for others to follow, but for myself. So that I can look back and see how far I’ve gotten, how much I’ve grown and how strong I’ve become, both as a runner and person.

Six weeks to go and I am getting excited and nervous. I’ve had so many positive encouragement and feedback ever since I wrote about my confessions of running my first marathon. From family to friends and other runners that I don’t know or will ever have the pleasure of knowing or meeting other than on social media. I just wanted to say THANK YOU! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and thank you for following me along on this new quest of mine.

With a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication, I cannot wait to finally be able to change my title to MARATHONER.

Weekly Training Recap: Monday, September 1st – Sunday, September 7th, 2014. 

MoIMG_20140902_154217nday, September 1st

Thankfully it was a long weekend because I did not have time to do a long run on the weekend. I spent my Labour Day running the Culham Trail of Mississauga. It included hills, trails, gravel and some road. It was nice to explore new trails and push myself to achieve those extra kilometers in my training. I knew that if I did not run more than 30km, I would be behind in my training. This run was a difficult one. Especially since it was a sunny and humid day and running for a few hours in the heat was not how I would normally spend my holiday day off. I guess priorities change as my focus and goals change.

Tuesday, September 2nd

REST DAY (31km was the longest I’ve ever ran, so I figured I needed a rest day to recover)

Wednesday, September 3rd

Cross training and obstacle training day.IMG_20140903_214151

Not only am I training for my first marathon; but I am also training for the Spartan Race World Championship in Killington, Vermont on Saturday, September 20th! It will be my first time participating in a U.S. Spartan Race and it will be alongside some of the Elites from all over the world. I can’t wait!! More to come on the World Championship in a separate blog.

 I do my obstacle training at Alpha Obstacle Training in Toronto.

Thursday, September 4th

IMG_20140905_070502I run with the Night Terrors Run Crew (NTRC) on Thursdays for a #doubledigitsthursday long run. A few of us did a pre run before the official run with the rest of the crew. It was a special run as it was the Night Terrors Run Crew LA’s 1 year anniversary. We had a surprise route that mapped out the shape of the word LA. It was pretty neat. After the run, I ran a little over 2km back to the subway station to go home. Running a half marathon and then some on a weeknight feels amazing. I can already tell I’m becoming a stronger runner. Training for a half marathon before seemed really hard; now I am doing them on weeknights!

Friday, September 5th

REST DAY

Saturday, September 6th

IMG_20140906_162337Alpha Obstacle Training organizes an in house race once a month and Saturday was the Alpha OCR Series #7. I ran the race with my OCR team P4ID. It was a lot of fun and a good OCR fix since the Spartan Race Eastern Canada season ended in July. It’s not hilly compared to a Spartan Race, but it was a good challenge and my ideal way to spend a Saturday morning; climbing monkey bars, flipping over cargo nets, climbing ropes and walls, flipping tires and lots more fun obstacles.

Sunday, September 7th

I try to get one long run in on the weekend and it’s usually on Saturday with my Tribe Fitness; but when I have a race, I run on Sunday with NTRC. Our goal for Sunday was 36km. We ended up beasting 38km and it was my longest run ever! Since training for STWM, every week has been my longest run ever. We ran through trails, road and along the Lakeshore. It was an awesome route and a hot day. By the end of the run, I was feeling the humidity. We picked up the pace the last 2km because at that point, I just wanted the run to be over with. I was hot, tired and hungry. Surprisingly when the run was over, other than feeling hungry, tired and a little sore; my legs felt okay. I was not in pain like during the early days of my long runs and training. With every run, I get stronger. Both physically and mentally.

This week capped of my highest mileage week EVER for me! 105km in 6 days and I feel fantastic!! I won one of my Nike Running challenges of 100km in a month. I have been running over 100km every month since January 2014; but never would I imagine I would run over 100km in a week! This was definitely a milestone week for me. I don’t know if I can run over 100km in a week regularly, or even again; but I do know that I am becoming a stronger runner and that I am ready to crush my first full marathon! 🙂

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This was one of our picture points and our view on Sunday’s long run. Toronto! My city! What a beautiful view. 🙂

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Confessions Of A Soon-To-Be First Time Marathoner

DontQuit

So I am officially registered for my first full marathon this October! (See blog post here) 47 more days to go! I am feeling nervous, scared, anxious, and I just really want to get this first marathon jitters over with. 

As part of the Digital Champions duties for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, we are required to submit a blog post about our training or something that readers and fellow runners can relate to or feel inspired in preparation for the big day. There are a few inspiring pieces already submitted so I thought I would write about what my feelings and thoughts are about running my first full marathon. I know there are a bunch of first timers that will also be running at STWM so hopefully they can relate to my blog.

I’ve copied my blog post below and you can also find it here on the STWM Blog.

Confessions Of A Soon-To-Be First Time Marathoner. By Linda Nguyen

TORONTO August 31st 2014. Linda is an avid runner and obstacle course racer. After fracturing her right ankle pretty badly during an obstacle race in October 2012, and missing out on her first half-marathon opportunity at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Linda started running again in February 2013. She crushed her 2013 fitness goals completing 12 road races and 5 obstacle races with some notable achievements including having completed her first half marathon, running 25k (her longest race), completing Tough Mudder in a snow and hail storm and becoming a member of the Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe. 2014 will be a big year for Linda as she will be running her first marathon at STWM on October 19th. Connect with Linda on Twitter @lindamnguyen and on her blog.

Confessions of a Soon-To-Be First Time Marathoner. By Linda Nguyen

Hi, my name is Linda and I am soon-to-be a Linda Warrior Dashfirst time marathoner. Is it too soon to call myself that? Maybe I am jinxing myself. What if all this training isn’t worth it and I don’t officially become a “first time marathoner”? What if I cramp up and have a repeat of my sad performance at last year’s STWM? Maybe I shouldn’t tell all my friends (and all of social media) that I am running the full marathon so that I don’t have to tell anyone how I did. All these thoughts are running through my head as I continue my training and quest for the title of “marathoner”.

There’s something about the word “marathoner” that makes you feel special and stand out from the crowd. It might not sound as elite as “Olympian” or “Professional Athlete” but I’m sure it does feel extraordinary nonetheless. Training to be a marathoner is not an easy task. It is a title that is earned and not given. Gone are those days of sleeping in and weekends of staying out late. I’ve had to decline invitations from friends if it conflicted with my training or race schedule. Yes, I know it sounds like an easy way out, but it’s true! I need to hold myself accountable and ensure I get my mileage in every week.

STWM is where I ran my first half marathon last year. So I am excited to return this year and try to complete the full marathon distance. That’s twice the distance and twice the training effort. I get nervous and nauseous just thinking about it. Now that we have approximately 8 weeks left before the big day, I find myself feeling panicking and pondering these important questions.

Pre-race panic:

What if I don’t get my mileage up enough?
What if I get injured?
How many days a week should I be training?
How much nutrition should I pack?
What will the weather be on race day?
What should I wear on race day?

During-race panic:

What if I get cramps?
Should I try to run it continuous or run 20 and 1’s?
Do I stop at all the water stations?
What if I don’t want to run the marathon anymore at the split mark?
What will happen if I just try to stick with the half marathoners at the split?

Post-race panic: 

Will my family and friends be there to watch me finish?
Where do I meet everyone?
What if I start bawling at the finish line?
How far is the medic area from the finish?
Should I get a massage?
WHERE DO I GO FOR BRUNCH?

So friends; if you are reading this, know that it’s not because I am avoiding you or that I don’t want to be with you, but because I am in training mode and I have a ton of questions I need answered on my path to STWM. Hopefully you won’t be upset, but will be able to support me as I cross that finish line and crush 42.2km on October 19th and can proudly change my title to MARATHONER!