postrace

Half Marathon Series: Post Race

postraceSo you have just crossed the finish line to your half marathon. Now what?

At the race:

For me, the first thing I do is grab some water or gatorade. No matter how much hydration you are syphoning down during the race, there is a high likelihood that you are dehydrated. I need to watch what I say here because there is such a thing as too much water and it is deadly. But if you have been skipping race stations, it is hot outside, and you are feeling lightheaded, grab a sports drink.

I then try to find a quiet, out of the way place to do some runners stretches. This article has a few stretches that I do often, but I try to go through a series of stretches that target the main pain offenders: hip flexors, IT band, quads, hamstrings and calves.

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quad

Then, it is off to find FOOD. I always carry a protein bar in my race bag, but some smaller races will have a decent spread. After the Endurrun, I feasted on fresh, home made bread, hamburger patties, vegan sweet potatoes and swiss chard, a smoothie and a gluten free brownie. But I can pretty much guarantee that not every race will offer such an amazing spread. Here is an important point: I normally am not hungry after racing.  Seriously. Despite burning thousands (yes, thousands) of calories, what happens in a race is that the blood used for digestion will often be distributed in other areas in your body to maintain your activity level. So even if you don’t FEEL hungry, you should eat. Your body’s stores are low in glycogen and it is important for a swift recovery that you get it in you! I normally have to eat a full plate of food while not feeling hungry, despite how counterintuitive it may feel, but it has done wonders for my recovery time.

After you have collected your medal, checked out your official time, eaten and stretched, it is time to go celebrate your achievements!

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Headed out – sweaty, happy and full of endorphins

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Post race treat — Not called Laces and Lattes for nothing!

After the race:

But you are not finished yet. It is time to go home and hop on that foam roller to flush and stretch out your muscles whenever you feel sore or have extra time.

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stick

Both the foam roller and The Stick are great tools for relief for muscle tightness and soreness. I find the roller best for after a run at home and often take The Stick with my when I travel.

Ice! I try to ice down my thutt (a made up word for thighs and butt) and calves after the race, but in the following days, if pain is lingering, smack a few cold things on your leg. Try to wrap it in a towel or cloth so you do not get frost bite on your skin. (Aka not what I do). I try to keep it to about 15 minutes an area.

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I basically am a professional photographer

PROTEIN. I use the following formula for muscle repair and recovery:

IMG_0531And sleep. The best thing of all!

Happy Recovery!

What are some of your tricks for recovery?

 

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100 Miles of Wild Recap

A big thank you to all of you were so patient as I pressed a giant reset button and took a few weeks off of blogging to go on the Trek and get organized when I returned. This past Friday night, I spent that majority of the evening unpacking, organizing and going over the financial details of the trip. Can I just say that driving all the way to North Dakota and back cost me a mere $330 in my Prius? LOVE my car!

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I have gotten a lot of people asking me about my trip. How it came about? How the experience was? How I am feeling? I have a lot of caring people in my life and I figured this is the best way to bring everyone up to speed.

How it came to happen:
A couple Wednesdays ago, I was sitting in my regular spot in Starbucks, sipping a latte and trying to hammer out my column for AJ: The Green Athlete. The latest one can be seen here.

I was short on time and I was scrambling to find an organization that connected athletes and environmentalism. I forget exactly how it happened, but I landed on Adventure Science out of the blue and read their information on 100 Miles of Wild Trek in North Dakota this spring. I began furiously typing up my piece, getting more and more excited about the organization.

I thought it was an American company, but I felt a compulsion to email the founder, Simon Donato, and said I wanted to get involved somehow. I was thinking helping with the website, content, copy or promotion, but within 10 minutes, he had emailed me back and said that one of his athletes was hit by a car and potentially could not participate in the trek and would I be interested?

The days before leaving were a blur of requesting time off from bosses, cancelling appointments and a surgery, borrowing gear from friends, getting travel insurance, buying gear from Adventure Guide and figuring out how to tell my mother who had left the country for a short trip and had no idea that I would up and leave for a 100 mile trek while she was gone. (She has known me for over 23 years, I cannot understand why she would be surprised anymore).

My favourite conversation was with my AJ boss before I left. I called him to ask permission to go:

“So, it is going to the badlands of North Dakota and running 100 miles and it would be my vacation time and I will get everything done that I need to when I get back and (Insert other run-on, desperate pleading sentences here)”

He was silent for a moment. “Jessica. I knew you were an unusual human being when I hired you, but I can never get used to the requests you keep throwing my way. But GO!”

So I went. I had a brief conversation with my father as I headed to the border so he could tell my mom and break it gently. He gleefully crowed “THIS is the reason I held you over the banister by your ankles and swung you around when you were young – so you wouldn’t be afraid of anything!” (Do not jump to thoughts of child abuse. We loved it and always asked for more.)

Anyways. So the drive was a LOT longer than I thought. I taught a spin class before heading out and was on the road by 8 am on the last Friday of April. I had loaded up my iPod with new music and an audioversion of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, but the roads blurred into each other and I was almost hallucinating when I reach Minnesota for the evening to stay with one of the trek leader’s houses.

I saw distances like this on my GPS.

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Drive 760 km, then turn left

Soon, I was in the barren world of cactuses, oil trucks and country music. I heard advertisements for liquor stores that were leveraging cattle branding parties as a reason to come in and buy booze.

I arrived on the Saturday to the tiny town of Grassy Butte where I abandoned my car, picked up my huge back pack and headed to the base camp with the leader of the trek, Richard.

From there, I met the team and was briefed on what we were to expect for the week.

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 3.09.13 PMWe were to head out into the badlands and would cover territory that people have never walked on and probably will never walk on again. We were to stop every 2-3 hours for “science” as they called it. We entered an analysis of the surrounding vegetation and wildlife into a book and took film and video footage to back it up.

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Why? Because they are planning on putting in 30 – 50,000 new oil wells in the badlands over the next 5 years. Our team’s goal was to go into the badlands as a completely neutral group of scientists and ultra runners, go to the wildest and most remote bits of the badlands and report back. The research will be taken to the University of North Dakota and the information will be presented to the citizens to help them make informed decisions when it comes down to the decisions surrounding the oil pads. Also, many years ago, it was the Badlands that inspired Theodore Roosevelt to develop the National Parks System and it was our job to see if the Badlands were as life changing now as they were back then.

I can tell you they are. I spent 7 days immersed in them, outside every day. Some days it was so cold that we woke up with frost on our tent and other days I came back with a sunburnt nose. We saw every form of wild life and woke up to sights like this:
Photo cred: Andrew Reinhard

Photo cred: Andrew Reinhard

I had experienced a lot of sad and discouraging things in 2013 – a break up, financial set backs, surgery, fear for Jolene. And even though the Badlands didn’t take any of that away, it was a reset button. I met some of the most incredible people who either love science or ultra running and in many cases both.  I was able to learn so much from the people around me. I learned how to orienteer from a US Army Ranger and discovered native flints in the creek bed with a geologist. The badlands broke me open and then filled me again.

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Getting away from the sappiness, an average day out there would begin with this.

We would put on our running clothes for the day (or in my case, almost every piece of clothing I brought to stay warm) and head to the eating area for Stoked Oats. (Buy them).

By around 7 am, we were ready to hit the Badlands with our maps, detectors and garmins. I was either on team Speed Deer or Mountain Kitty and we covered 20-30 miles with 3000-4500 ft of altitude each day. We would hike, climb and run through rolling buttes, grass lands, cattle feeding pastures and creek beds reporting on the wild life, landscape and oil pads, arriving at the last point at around 5-6:30 pm each night.

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Modelling some petrified wood

Modelling some petrified wood

Taken on the last day. They told us to take fun pictures but after running through miles and miles of cattle grazing, this was as creative as we could get.

Taken on the last day. They told us to take fun pictures but after running through miles and miles of cattle grazing, this was as creative as we could get.

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We were picked up and taken to base camp, which moved about 3 times throughout the course of the Trek. From there, we would “shower” (baby wipes), change into every article of clothing we had and gather around the fire to eat dinner and discuss our day, which was recorded or filmed to provide additional data.

By 10 – 11 pm each night, we would fall exhausted into our tents and the day would start all over again.

Our Team was the following:

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 3.29.17 PM[Photos from the 100 Miles of Wild Blog]

Simon Donato: Geologist, Elite Adventure Racer, Founder of Stoked Oats, Host of the tv show Boundless. (Watch the trailer here) Ultrarunner.

Richard Rothus: Archaeologist, Historian, and Owner of Trefoil Cultural and Environmental and was in charge of Basecamp and Logistics.

Andrew Reinhard: Director of Publications for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA), Archaeologist. He headed up the control group which walked the trails of the Badlands.

Tim Puetz: Biomedical Research, National Institutes of Health, Army Ranger. Ultrarunner.

Keith Szlater: Technical Service and Basecamp and Logistics coordinator.

Tyler Leblanc: Our paramedic and member of the control team.

Jane Davis: Community Health Educator and Ultrarunner.

and, um. Me.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful experience to get to know all of these amazing and accomplished people over the course of a week. Another cool thing about the trek is that we carried the Explorer Club Flag.

untitledThe Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research, of which Theodore Roosevelt was an honorary member. The flag represents the impressive history of courage and accomplishment, and has been carried by members to the Moon, the depths of the ocean, and around the globe. I am excited to be able to join the club having been on an approved expedition with the flag.

I will be going on more adventures with this team as I am now an ultrarunner for Adventure Science. I was given a huge boost of confidence by some of the ultra runners who told me they didn’t slow down for me. It instilled a desire in me to train harder, race more  frequently and in more international races and the belief that I am good enough to do it.

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It was sad to say goodbye to everyone on the team, but last Saturday, I dropped Jane off at the airport and began the long trek home. I stayed in Chicago for the night, ate deep dish pizza for the first time in my life (overrated) and slept for a solid 12 hours.

I arrived home on Sunday night and hit the ground running Monday morning.

Needless to say, with 48 hours of driving, I had a lot of time to think, some of which relates to the blog. Keep your eyes peeled for some new changes. Laces and Lattes will be around for a long time, but it will continue to change because I keep changing. Thank you all for being along for the run!

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For more reading on the trek, check out:

Adventure Science Facebook Page

Article in the Dickonson Press

Article in the Bismarck Tribune

100 Miles of Wild Press Conference

Weekend Recap: An Ode to Sunday

This weekend, I was thinking a lot about downtime.

As Jesse dropped me off after a friend’s birthday party on Saturday night, I asked him (with a day of work, tutoring and writing behind me) “Guess what we are doing tomorrow?”

“What?” he asked, with exhaustion and a clear tinge of irritation in his voice at the event that I again forgot to remind him of and was planning on dragging him to.

“Absolutely NOTHING!”

He grinned.

And that is exactly what happened. (Sort of).

We left early for church so we could stop at Starbucks and get our favourite lattes before church began. We stayed after the service and discussion groups to mingle with friends and catch up with their lives.

We went to a brand new restaurant for lunch and instead of ordering meals, just slowly ordered what we wanted, one by one, from the fresh menu and took a 2 hour lunch.

We went on a long walk.

We both took a nap.

We spent all evening cooking up a multi course meal and ate it slowly and watched a movie.

It was absolutely indulgent and completely what I love and need in a Sunday. Sometimes I spend my Sundays with family, sometimes it is helping someone out and sometimes, like yesterday, I just spent it with my best friend.

I love to live my life at warp speed, but the faster my life gets, the more jealously I guard my Sundays. For me, it is the one day where I can slow the pace of life down, unravel a bit of the stress and chose to do things the slow way, even if it is just for one day. I celebrate my relationships with those who are closest to me because they are often the first to get neglected when I am busy. I take the morning off to go to church because beyond so many other things, the simple routine, the loving people and the wonderful God are what help keep me grounded.

Sunday is my secret weapon to wake up on Monday and be refreshed, excited and ready to do the week all over again.

What is your secret weapon to staying balanced and managing stress?

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Aka My Happy Place

Last night was a revolutionary one for Jesse.

We were finishing up his birthday dinner and he mentioned he had gotten a few texts re: his birthday post. I hauled out my laptop and let him read what I wrote.

At first, he was touched.

He quickly moved on to…”Wait…how much do you write about me on your blog?”

I looked at him for a moment and then said, “Jesse…your mother and sister are some of the most reliable readers of my blog. Many of your relatives subscribe to my updates. You think they are doing it because I only write about myself?”

Thankfully he is not overly tech savvy, bless him.

Anyways, I am eternally grateful to his sister who provided proof that he has been mastering the “tuck and roll” from an early age.

And he’s still got it.

I digress.

I want to update you on my latest race, The Starbucks Run for Women (chosen for obvious reasons). It happened last Saturday in the quaint little city of Unionville. I can only describe it as that little town at the beginning of Beauty and the Beast where all the townspeople are bursting out of their windows and doors and shouting out “Good morning!”

Anyways, I awoke at a ridiculous hour of the morning, sped down the 401 and arrived in Unionville in time to grab my race pack, do a quick warm up and head to the starting line.

There was a 5 km or 10km option. I chose the 10 km because it was bound to be less people and if I am driving a distance, I want to run a distance!

This was a woman’s only race, so I gauged the runners and went to the front. I was standing behind two (what I can only assume to be) Kenyans and a woman who looked like she ate nails for breakfast and was wearing the tights that looked like this:

I tried to ignore the feeling I would be miserably passed, possibly lapped and tried to occupy my mind with the Starbucks coffee and oatmeal at the end of the race.

The gun went off and I started way too quickly and was in second for about the first km. Obviously I started getting passed but I was feeling great and running strong. I quickly altered my  goal to finish in the top ten.

I kept a strong pace for most of the race. It was beautiful! We ran through the town and it seemed as if all of Unionville was outside to cheer us on. When we were not running near people, we were in wooded areas and by large bodies of water. Gorgeous. It was a mixture of a trail race and a road race (aka, my happy place). I kept hammering on, slowly edging past runners and moving up.

I had a good sprint to the finish line and I finished in 47:10. I had just crossed the finish line when I bumped into an athletic woman and as I started to apologize, I realized it was Catriona Le May Doan. We swapped race stories and then I turned incredibly awkward as I started gushing on about how proud Canada was to have an athlete like her, etc. I managed to pull it together for her to sign my race bib and take a quick photo.

I went to check the times board and was shocked to see I came in fourth and first in my age group.

How can this happen? Well, this is the second year of the race, so there were only 334 people in the 10 km. It also was an all woman’s race so I am not competing against males who by nature are stronger and faster runners. Most ladies were making this a fun run with the girls as well. So this will probably never ever happen again, but it felt good to have my name this close to the top for at least one race. (Check out the ages of the ladies who won! They were amazing!)

Anyways, if you are interested, race photos can be seen here. (aka, there you go, mom).

I picked up my prize and collected my race bracelet that all runner get instead of medals (girls race, I told you!) and revelled in the high “estrogenness” of the race.

To cap off the “girl power” theme of the day, I ended up at the Lululemon outlet and of course found another piece to add to my obsessive collection.

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Do I have a sign on my forehead?

I have made a triumphant return back to the snow, multiple jobs and neglected essays. And I can tell you, it was hardly a graceful one.

The day of my return, I strode to the airline baggage department, picked up my luggage that never had left the airport and had an uneventful flight home in the clothing that I had worn in multiple ways all week. (If the pictures look like I wore the same outfit the whole time, your eyes do not deceive you). But seriously, other than looking like my clothing would stand by itself if I stepped out if it, I had pleasant travels home.

Until I arrived at the airport in London, collected my baggage, paid the parking fee and quickly ran to my car because I had 20 minutes to leave before I needed to pay another day of parking.

I turned the ignition.

Nothing.

I sat for a moment and turned the ignition.

Nothing.

Now, I was on the verge of a stage 5 meltdown because I would miss my French class and blogger training if my car didn’t start which which was the only reason I came home as early as I did.

I darted back inside and found an attendant who found a taxi driver who would help me…but nothing is free, just know that.

The lovely man spoke about 100 english words and I am so mechanically uninclined that I didn’t even know how to open my hood. (I needed to stop and think about what it was even called…) He had a little contraption that was useless so when he found out it was standard, he began pushing me around the parking lot in my car and getting me to release the clutch. We exchanged places and I found myself pushing my own car through an airport parking lot in 4 day old clothing with a foreign man screaming another language at me. Perfect end to the vacation.

We finally got it started when he hooked his car to mine and I handed him more money than he asked for. As he pulled away, he stopped and rolled down his window. My pauper student heart quickened, assuming he conjured up some pity for a hungry, tired and stressed out soul. No. Just wanted to give me a business card for the next time I had trouble. (Seriously…do I have a sign on my forehead?!?)

I then spent the next 20 minutes back in a dank little security office explaining my plight and I was assisted through the service entrance where I made a beeline to Starbucks so I could arrive at my meeting in dirty clothes and a jittery caffeine high. Honestly, it is a wonder that any organization takes me seriously…

So what did I learn in all of this? Truthfully, not much more than I already knew of myself. That I am an accident prone, disaster strucken individual who would not live life any other way. Because it is the unknown and the unexpected in life that makes my life worth living.

Oh, and that clean clothing is a blessing straight from heaven.

My Lifestyle

I have always been slightly envious of my sister. She is beautiful, strong, smart and healthy- and she has never, ever mistreated her body and only treated it with care. She has always eaten exactly what she wants, but remains active and healthy.

I, on the other hand, have not always treated my body with the respect it deserved. When I was in high school, my steady diet included McDonalds, cheese, cookies and Pepsi. When my youngest sister became anorexic, I changed drastically as well. I fell to below 90 pds, which is significant as I am almost 5’8.

I took my life back, however, and now am healthy and fit, not too big and not too small. I have found my Goldilocks lifestyle.

How do I maintain this? Well. I have been blessed to be raised in a family where this is a common sunday afternoon activity:

Or swimming in our pool all afternoon. Or snowboarding in the winter.
Or this: (but we won’t get into that)…

I have been raised on wind surfing, waterskiing, snow boarding, wake boarding, rock climbing, dancing, running, and sports. And I am grateful. It is where I gleaned my love for running and what motivates me to train for my half marathon this fall.

Food is a touchy subject in our household because I was anorexic and my sister still is. NO ONE in our house voices it when they have a fat day and we never diet at our house. I believe it is good, I am just sad it only came about through tragedy. I eat quite a bit because I train very hard- I run almost every day, not including all the other activities I do.
Some of my favourite foods are Starbucks lattes with honey, all natural peanut butter, my mom’s fresh whole wheat bread, gooey brownies, corn on the cob, the occasional burger and sweet potato fries.
I eat everything- sometimes too much, sometimes too little, but the way I see it- that is being alive.

This past weekend, I was talking to one of my best friends who is an exchange student from France. I was telling her (over my soulvaki and french fries) that I was not getting much sleep that weekend and eating really really REALLY poorly.

She looked at me and said in the way that only French people can: (as if I was absolutely dim)
“But that is LIFE!”

Thank you, my dear friend, for reminding me that enjoying oneself is LIFE! I intend to live it.

Cheers!