Setbacks Are An Opportunity For A Killer Comeback

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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!

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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! 🙂

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!

I Did It! I’ve Registered For My First Full Marathon!

Set A Goal

 

It’s official! I’ve taken that first step towards checking off another bucket list item. I signed up for my first ever full marathon – The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon! :/

Not only will #STWM be my first full marathon, but I’m excited to announce that I will be a 2014 Ambassador, aka Digital Champion, for the race as well! Check out the rest of the 2014 Digital Champions.

One of the items on my bucket list is to complete a full marathon – 26.2 miles for the Americans or 42.2 kms for the Canadians. I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into but there is no backing out now. I initially wanted my first full marathon to be one of the Top 5, but after completing my first half marathon locally, I realized I wanted to complete the full marathon in my hometown. I’m a bit nervous and scared but I know that I will be alongside my friends, fellow runners and Digital Champions, and that I will have my family and friends waiting for me at the Finish Line.

The next four months will be tough and require lots of training, dedication and commitment. I’ve got a packed obstacle race calendar as well, so it’s safe to say my social life will be put on hold until the season is over. I can not wait to cross that finish line in October and feel the overwhelming joy of accomplishment, of being able to check off that bucket list item, and that all my training has been worth it. My legs and my body may hate me for what I am about to put it through, but one of my favourite saying goes “A sore body today, is a strong body tomorrow.”

 

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You’re Tougher Than You Think

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This run was a tough run for me and it was the most challenging. I pushed myself but I also knew my body and when I’ve exerted my efforts. With every run or workout, I always push myself a little harder. Otherwise, you won’t get the results you want if you don’t consistently put in that extra effort every time.

It was a slow and steady 5k. I barely talked during the run, which for me is unusual especially if I’m running with someone. I wanted to concentrate on my breathing, on avoiding snowbanks and most importantly, on making sure I was able to finish the run standing upright and not feeling like I was going to pass out. During the run, I felt my breathing start to get heavy, my energy diminishing and I felt dehydrated. I barely even drink water for anything less than 10k. My calves were starting to hurt from running through all the unplowed snowed sidewalks. I ran at a slower than normal turtle pace and kept it consistent. I remember thinking and encouraging myself mid run “Finish strong”, “You’re tougher than you think”, “When did I become so tough?” By the end of the run, I felt so exhausted and dehydrated but super proud that I had finished my most challenging 5k run ever.

Some factors that could have contributed to my performance were:

TOWeather1. There was a snowstorm all day and the sidewalks were not shovelled, making it a difficult run in the snow.

2. Because of the snowstorm and wind chill warning, I was dressed the same as during my coldest run ever. I felt 10 lbs heavier during the run.

 

 

 

3. I was still sore from my intense bootcamp workout two days before

15secs pushup, 15secs shoulder press @ 16lbs x 10 reps.
15secs burpees, 400m run.
15secs boxjumps, 15secs squats @ 40lbs x 10 reps.
15secs jumping jacks, 400m run.
15secs wallballs @ 12lbs, 15secs bicep curls @ 16lbs x 10 reps.
15secs burpees, 400m run.
15secs tricep dips, 15 seconds tricep extensions @ 16lbs x 10 reps.
15secs jumping jacks, 400m run.

BloodDonation4. I donated blood in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TribeRun

Coldest Run Ever

InapporpriateClothing

Let me clarify. This run was not just MY coldest run ever – because I’m sure everyone’s definition of COLD varies, depending on your geographic location. But this run was also THE coldest run ever! Okay, I know those of you who live in colder climates will disagree, but this was the coldest day in Toronto thus far.

I love setting goals and challenging myself so I thought “Hey, let’s go for a run in the coldest day of the year.” 🙂 I wore all my baselayers and found some old windbreaker pants from the 1990’s ‘windbreaker tracksuit collection’. I couldn’t find the matching jackets but was thankful that I had saved the pants. I guess it helps to hoard your old clothes; you never know when you might need it or when it will come back in fashion again (if ever). I made sure all my skin was well covered. I thought about wearing my snowboarding goggles as well but since it was nighttime and my goggles were pink, I would not be able to see if I had worn them. I did however, wear my snowboarding mitts over top my running gloves. At this point, I would probably have been issued a ticket from the Fashion Police. Oh well, fashion had to take a back seat for this run and warmth would take the front. photo

After 20 minutes of getting ready and feeling 10 pounds heavier, I finally braved it out the door. It was a very slow run. I wasn’t feeling cold at all, I even started sweating. The snow mixed with the cold actually made my eyelashes freeze. About 10 minutes into my run, it was getting harder to blink and when I did blink, I could feel the icicles on my lashes. Guess I should have worn the goggles. 😦 It was a tough 7km during a wind chill warning. 

Recap of what I wore:

Bottom: 
Asics GT-2170
Smartwool socks 
Under Armour 3.0 baselayer pants
Lululemon winter running tights
Legwarmers (I forgot where I got them from)
Adidas trackpants

Top: 
Under Armour 3.0 baselayer top
Nike Hyperwarm hooded sweater
Nike Element winter running jacket

Accessories:
Lululemon brisk run neckscarf 
The Ugly Sweater Run toque
Lululemon brisk run mitts
Burton snowboarding mitts 

Oh and that white object I am holding in the picture is actually a block of ice. I found it towards the end of my run and decided to run home with it. It was good cross training! 🙂

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What was the coldest/hottest run you’ve ever ran?

Do you prefer running in the cold or heat?