Asthma and Winter

After finding out last year that I have asthma, I followed my doctors instructions on managing it last winter.  Come spring, I  gradually weaned myself off the preventer until I was able to go drug free for over 6 months during the warmer weather.  With the first cold snap around Easter and a mild cold virus, symptoms kicked back in again and I started back on the preventer.  I was nearly through my script though, so it was time to go back to the doctor and get a plan together as to how I should properly be managing this, as I felt like I was making it up on the fly with no real guidance.

Since we moved house at the end of last year, I hadn’t needed to visit the local GP and find myself a new doctor.  So off I went, was told how damn healthy I was, but that I should get a spirometry test to check things out.  I was booked in for the following week and, following some reading on the internet, took myself off my preventer for the week prior.  Luckily things had settled down and nights weren’t nearly as cold, so it wasn’t too much of an issue.  Turns out I did the right thing, although I probably didn’t need to stay off it for quite so long.

The test itself was pretty simple.  Breath out into a tube as hard and for as long as you can.  It took a couple of goes to get the hang of it and then turned out 3 fairly similar results in a row.  That gave us a baseline.  Then it was two puffs of ventolin, wait 10 minutes and go again.  All done and dusted and I was booked in to get the results later the same afternoon.

My GP was happy with the results.  They showed that I do have asthma, but it is very well controlled and has likely not caused long term damage to my lungs at this point.  After the ventolin, my output increased by approximately 5%.  He helped me put together a bit more of a plan on how to manage things.  Two puffs on the preventor each morning during winter, adding in two puffs in the evening as well if I start to get any sort of cold/virus/respiratory infection.  Ventolin as needed if I start feeling like I can’t quite catch my breath.  Then, as spring starts, as long as I’m not needing to use the Ventolin I can start backing off on the preventor with the aim being to wean off it for the summer again.

Other things I found out is that I have excellent lung capacity at approximately 120% of the “normal” for my age/sex/ethnicity/height.  I also seem to be taller!  I’ve “always’ been 168cm, last year at the GP I was 169cm and this year I have reached 170cm.  When I mentioned this, they re-measured only to confirm that I may even be a bit over 170cm.  Both of these things I’m going to give the credit to running (well, ok and genetics, especially for lung capacity).  My posture has definitely improved since I started running and I stand taller and slouch less.

So management has started.  I have a healthy baseline from the spirometry testing which can be used for comparison in the future.  I am more confident in what I should do daily and how to manage any minor issues that crop up.  Fortunately, other than when I had swine flu a few years ago, I’ve never had a major asthma attack and hopefully with good management, I can keep it that way.

Best part – all the doctors I saw (three different ones) told me to keep up the running!

Lessons Learnt

Some big lessons, some reminders and some things I really should know better after last weekends trail race.

  • Don’t ignore your asthma, just because it’s seasonal, mild, whatever. You have it.  Carry a puffer. Don’t be slack with taking the preventer.
  • In preparing for a hilly trail race, run hills and trails in training. To be fair, I knew this  and had planned more hills and trails. Calf issues early in the year and achilles pain more recently had me pulling back on this and running mostly flat road runs. Which would have been great for a flat road half marathon. Not so much a lesson as a reminder that the way my training went meant that while I am fitter this year, I’m still not trained for the terrain. It did at least have me fit and able to run, rather than injured and having to sit it out completely, but I was never going to get my time goals training this way.
  • Strength training will help! Yes, of course I know this. But I’ve never had it thrown in my face quite so effectively 🙂 Those calf raises, squats and bridges my physio keeps telling me to do? I need to start doing them. I worked out a bit too late the perfect time to do my calf raises – while I wait for the train in the morning on my way to work. Every day from now on! Now to find the perfect time for the others.
  • Sort out fueling. My husband told me after the race that I need to start fueling earlier as I was getting snappy. I think my first thing was less than 40mins in though.  Personally I think I just don’t like people talking to me when I’m not in the mood for it as I often do runs over an hour without anything. But I do need to sort it out, I just didn’t prioritise it. Work out if trailwind, nuun, whatever, work for me and test them – preferably before I hit a trail with no nearby toilet stops!
  • Make sure I get out on the course a couple of times in training where possible. I had been on the first part several times in the past six months which made it a comfortable, known section. While this is our third year running the event, having a couple more outings on the latter parts would definitely help.

Plenty to work on for next year and I’m sure it will help with everything in between as well.  There were some things I did right as well though, so maybe they will make it for another post.  Next up, Sydney Turkey Trot on 2nd July!

Great Nosh Footrace 2017

The day started out overcast, but slightly warmer than the previous couple of weeks
had been in the morning. Big relief as it had been getting damn chilly in the mornings! I even had hopes that I wouldn’t need to wear a hat if the clouds could hang around. But the clouds cleared to a gorgeous sunny, cool morning – perfect weather for some time on the trails. Nick dropped our girls off to spend the morning with the grandparents then we headed off to the start. Easy pickup for our race bibs, a quick snack and join the queues for a last minute toilet stop.

Made our way down to the start about 15 mins before time, not many down yet and most people didn’t head down until right before start. It seemed a lot busier than last
year. Realised near the start that I had forgotten to take my asthma preventer this morning and didn’t have my ventolin with me as planned. Shouldn’t be an issue though since it was a warmer morning than usual with a gorgeous sunny day ahead, so I wasn’t expecting any problems. Our pace was steady and constant in this first section. A pause only to eat my first bit of cookie and take a look at Nicks pack to see if we could work out what was jingling around. Had a few people sitting on our tail in sections that were happy to pace from us – annoyed the crap out of me though as they were sitting too close on my tail which is uncomfortable on technical track. Managed a PR on a couple of strava segments in this section. Get to the first checkpoint and same time as the last two years! I really thought I would gain a couple of minutes on this one. Admittedly we were still surrounded by people this year, whereas previously we had already been dropped by nearly the entire pack.
CP1: 48min (6km) – no change

This section always seems to be hillier than we expect and I could feel the start of a
blister on the edge of the ball of my foot – a surprise since this shoe/sock combo has
never given me any issues before and is my go to trail wear. There was a photographer
sitting about half way up the first bastard of a hill which we were walking up (much
more strongly than last year). Had a chat, started jogging and thumbs up – gotta look
good for the photo. Chatted with a bloke wearing a parkrun shirt who was a much
stronger walker than us on the hills but not as quick when we got running again. He
was up in Sydney visiting his daughter and had jumped at the chance for a trail run
while here. We spent a lot of time playing leap frog with him all the way to checkpoint 2, I always enjoy the chatting on these events. Made sure we had a few words, or at the very least a good morning and thank you to all the volounteers along the way. Happy to pick up a few minutes here.
Mid point: 1:13 (8.7km) – 3mins saved!

Started well along here. We had dropped a few people and with no one for a fair way in front of us we were able to move at our own pace. This is generally a bit faster than average on the downhills and slower than average for the rest… So if we’re around people it tends to get a bit frustrating (for everyone!) on this very technical single track. Was starting to struggle a bit with my breathing along here, having to stop several times to get it back under control, really wish I had my ventolin with me at this point. Caught up to a couple of others at a tricky creek crossing /boulder crossing. One was an older guy with headphones in. He really struggled with any climbing but flew along in the running sections. Very frustrating as he never heard us coming and it was hard to get in his line of sight so we could get past him. Mostly walked quite a bit of this due to the technical nature and my fear of doing something nasty to an ankle. I had one twinge from my achilles which had me swearing and slowed me for a little while, but it didn’t cramp and I was able to move comfortably again pretty quickly – phew! By the time we had climbed out of the single track and had a bit more space to move my blisters started to really bother me on the rocky surface. See the gate at the end of the trail, checkpoint should be just around the corner, but wait – it’s not there!!! Kept going an extra couple hundred metres to finally get to the checkpoint. Spent a bit too long here (again), topped up my water bladder which I had emptied (and then didn’t drink from it again…). Nick mixed up some Nuun and shared a bit with me to keep us going for the final few kilometres. Lots of strava PRs in this section, picked up only a couple of minutes though which was disappointing, however there wasn’t much I could do about my breathing.
CP2: 2:09 (13.4km) – 4 mins saved!

The final big climb and my glutes were really starting to bug me. Gees – I’ve finally got my running sorted so I use my glutes more and not just my quads/calves and they go and wear out first. Continued having trouble with breathing which was getting more frequent and not helped by my muscles desire to stop. For the first time we’ve done this race, the trail was completely dry – a very different race from last year.  Almost at the end and I started coughing and coughing. Stop. This wasn’t a “cough”, I was struggling to get enough air. Make myself stop, relax, stand up straight, breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Stay calm. Tell Nick to stop and come back to me. I was ok, time to get moving again. Out onto the oval and the final 50m dash for the finish line. Nick  comes around and beside me, we lengthen our stride and start sprinting. Around the  finish chute, people are clapping, cheering and calling out to us, encouraging me to “stick your elbows out” to make sure Nick doesn’t get past me. I think he pipped me at the post though, but we finished with big grins and a bit of a laugh. Apparently we finished too quickly though and the photographer missed it!
Finish: 2:39 – 5 mins faster

While the photographer is suggesting we “re-run” the finish so he can get a photo (not going to happen!) I’m busy trying to get the words out to ask for a ventolin. After a couple of attempts, Nick manages to ask for me and I’m whisked off to the medical tent. Spend way longer than needed, but appreciate that once they treat me, they have to take all the details and make sure I’m 100% ok. Can guarantee I won’t be doing a long run again without my ventolin on me. Another one to notch up to experience.

While I was (very) disappointed with our time. We finished in much better condition than previous years. Given the slow pace, caused mostly by my breathing issues, other than my blister and slightly tight achilles, we’re both feeling pretty good today. Muscles know that they did a decent run yesterday, but there were no issues going up the stairs at the train station this morning and I reckon I’ll be back out again mid week. As it does every year, there is plenty to learn and take away and work on to make sure I do better next year! But that’s for another post.

Results were online straight away due to the use of timing chips this year. We were in the final 10 runners again, although they separated out the walkers for the first time and another 20 or so finished after us there. We both came 33rd in our age group – last for Nick, but 3 more in my age group came in after me. Photographs were up Monday, but sadly none of us. It looks like in most cases the photographers had left before we got to their locations and then they missed us coming in at the finish as well. Bit sad about that one. But I have the shirt!

Race Day!

It’s finally here!  I’m not sick or injured and my tummy seems to be behaving.  Today is my chance to do better than I have the last two years on this course.  The big question is, what can I do?  I’ve looked at my past two years and each time it’s been the hills in the middle section that have done me in.  Hopefully I’m a bit stronger and have a bit more cardio fitness to go the distance this time.

For reference, times from the last two years:

2015 (15.7km):

  • CP1: 48min (6km)
  • Mid-point: 1hr 11min (8.3km)
  • CP2: 2hr 6min (12.5km)
  • Finish: 2hr 38min

2016 (16.5km):

  • CP1: 49min (6km)
  • Mid-point: 1hr 16min (8.8km)
  • CP2: 2hr 13min (13.3km)
  • Finish: 2hr 44min

April-May Stats

Well, it’s been a while since I looked at my stats for a month.  The last two months have been my biggest ones so far – even with a few skipped runs this month due to the wrong shoes.  So, with no further delay, here it is!

April

  • Distance: 85.6km
  • Elevation: 873m
  • Number of runs: 10

May

  • Distance: 75km
  • Elevation: 559m
  • Number of runs: 8

That’s 160km in two months!!!  That’s huge for me.  Two years ago I was lucky to hit 30km in a month.  I’m now kicking close to 600km in the last year.  Even better, my new shoes arrived yesterday so here’s hoping for more pain free running in June.  But first, on Sunday, there’s the NOSH 16km trail race!

Shoes, shoes, shoes…

About a month ago I had to admit that my trusty Brooks road shoes were on the last legs.  It was time for some new shoes.  While the Adrenalines were generally comfy and didn’t give me any issues, they did give me a few hot spots and the last rogaine gave me a couple of blisters.  So I thought I’d check out some other shoes and see if I could find something that fitted a little more like the comfy slippers that were my trail shoes.

Tried on a few different ones and it came down to the Brooks Ravenna and Asics GT-2000.  In the end, I decided to go with the Ravennas.  My first run in them was amazing, it was fast, comfortable and I felt like I was floating.  Next run, not so good.  After only 4km my knees started aching, by the end of the run my knees hurt, my shins ached and my hamstrings were tight.  I put it down to doing my longest run to date.  The last two weeks the only runs I’ve done are my long runs on the weekend as my legs have been so sore.

Finally clicked that it’s probably the shoes – they’re great shoes, just not right for me.  So, a new pair of Adrenalines is on the way (I considered the Asics, but maybe next time) and I ran todays long run in my old pair.  Soooo much more comfortable, fast and no pain.  Just happy, tired legs.  Can’t wait for the new pair to get here!

Cronulla Rogaine 2017

I’ll start by saying this was by far the least enjoyable rogaine I’ve done to date.  This had absolutely nothing to do with the rogaine itself and everything to do with me.  The weather was perfect – clear, sunny blue skies and very warm.  The course was interesting and varied with plenty of options for route choice.

So what went wrong?  I had a low grade cold for a few weeks leading up to the event culminating in two days of high fevers 5 days before.  I only ran twice in these three weeks, so I was feeling pretty run down.  This also kicked off my seasonal asthma, so everything was a bit of a struggle physically.  But I woke up Sunday morning feeling good and ready to get going again.  Then the babysitter didn’t show up.  Luckily, we plan to arrive in plenty of time, so by the time we got hold of her and she made it over we still had enough time to drive to Cronulla (traffic worked in our favour!) and some planning time.  This placed a bit of stress on us though and we ended up forgetting our pre race munchies of hot cross buns and bananas – BIG mistake.

The individual competitors started off at 10am with the teams trailing after from 10:15.  This worked really well to split up the pack and meant the early controls weren’t overcrowded and we experienced zero queueing at controls the entire event – amazing!  We jogged along as we made our way around Cronulla point – beautiful part of the world with some amazing water views and small, sandy beaches.  The fast teams were all ahead of us, the walkers behind, we were collecting points as planned and keeping an easy pace.  Then I hit the wall.  Completely and utterly.  Only 45 minutes in.  This was not good.

I was exhausted, depleted and had no energy to walk anything more than a very gentle pace.  Grabbed a Powerade at the first shops we passed as planned, carried it to the next control and then walked another 5 minutes before finding a spot in the shade to sit and drink it.  My coordination was failing me and I hadn’t been able to walk and drink, my legs were too tired to even stand.  We decided to continue on, even if it meant walking the whole rest of the way.

I continued to struggle through the next couple of controls.  We grabbed some chips at the next shops we went through.  The following half hour was awful.  My mind sunk as my body refused to play.  We shuffled along, there were many pauses.  I doubted my ability to run, I was convinced I should just give up my ambitions to run any sort of distances.  That I was stupid to think I could possibly run a half marathon at the end of the year, that maybe I should just give up running altogether, I obviously wasn’t cut out for it.

I very, very slowly started feeling a bit better, still only up for walking though.  We had dropped off a couple of sections we had planned to get when we thought we would be able to run most of the way.  45 minutes to go, we stopped to reassess.  I was still tired, my legs were aching so we sat down – and were promptly scolded by another pair of rogainers passing by, you don’t get points sitting down!

Plan made, we walked on, pushing a little more now.  My legs were hurting, I had blisters forming on the inside of both heels and was till pretty unhappy but had pulled my self out of the doom and gloom of earlier.  With just under twenty minutes to go, we realised we would probably have to pick up the pace a little to get done what we wanted, so I tested the legs out.  It actually felt ok!  So from there we did an easy jog on flats and downhills while walking on the uphills.  With about one kilometre to go, we realised we were going to have to really push things to make it back in time.  Uh oh…

Up the final hill and about 600 metres to go and less than 3 minutes to go.  All downhill and we ran and ran.  6min/km pace, then 5min/km pace then faster still and we were in!  40 seconds over time so we would lose 10 points, but we were certainly not the last ones in.

An interesting postscript to the event – we failed to register at one of the checkpoints.  It seems that only one of us was recorded as being there.  I queried it, was told basically it was bad luck and move on.  No big deal, we’re not competitive.  Shortly after that, a follow up email said there had been more than one query on this particular control and we should challenge it.  End result – it seems the control was tampered with and while it worked perfectly for most people, there were several that didn’t, so we got the points.  Bumping us up a decent number of positions.

End results:

  • Score: 1010 points
  • Distance: 16km
  • Overall team position: 25/95
  • Mixed teams: 12/59
  • Mixed veterans: 5/19

In the end it was a surprisingly good result for what felt like a completely rotten event.

Still Running…

It’s been a busy couple of months with starting a new job and still trying to find time to get in 2-3 runs a week. The training is going well and while most weeks I’ve managed 3 runs, some it has only been one or two while I gave my body a rest due to a niggle in my calves or pushed my way through the usual autumn colds.

My longest run was 17.5km two weekends ago and boy was that one tough! Getting the trots around kilometre 15 sure didn’t help, especially when I was still 1km from the nearest toilet. That was a pretty desperate time and I was lucky to make it… I’ve stuck mainly to road runs with only one or two longer runs on trails as they seemed to stir up my achilles and I didn’t want to risk being out of action for the final run. My physio helped to sort things out and reckons I’m good to go, so I’m glad I got on to it before it all went bad for once.

There have been good runs – the effortless 8km one Friday morning with brand new shoes – and bad runs – the slow, painful first time I ran 13km – there have been boring runs – treadmill intervals anyone? – and fun runs – 16km from Balmoral around to Sirius Cove and back with my husband on a sunny Saturday morning. My most recent 13km felt great and was 30 seconds per kilometre faster than the first time I did it four weeks earlier, so obviously something is working!  I was supposed to run today, but my legs are a bit achy after the physio dug into my calves yesterday, so another rest day might be in order instead.

I have a draft of my rogaine report from April that I wrote shortly after the event which I’ll get posted soon too and hopefully I can keep on top of posting here again.  It’s been a bit quiet on the orienteering side of things since Summer Series finished at the end of March and I’m guessing it will continue to be a bit quieter over the winter months, although we hope to get along to a few events we’ve made it to the last two years as well.  There’s also another asthma update to be written and the Great Nosh Footrace is less than two weeks off – then we’ll see if the training has paid off!

 

Training Plans

Four weeks in to my chosen training plan and I would say I’m going “ok”.  I’ve managed the three core runs each week (except for this week!) but no extras and I haven’t stuck to it 100%.  But that’s ok and I’m happy with what I’ve been doing and my legs feel like they’re getting stronger.

Most weeks I’ve managed a 45 minute orienteering run which I’ve counted as a “Speed” session along the lines of a fartlek/interval.  Although with my toe still in recovery mode I’ve been taking it a little easier and am just getting back to pace on these now.  There’s been a treadmill session each week which has mostly been intervals. My paces on these are based on a line I semi-randomly chose from the Nike training plan based on one of the only times I’ve done a straight 10km run and my currentish 5km road pace.  I’ve been finding these a bit slow and the intervals a bit easy, so I’ll probably increase these paces a little over the next few weeks.

Then there’s the Endurance run on the weekend.  I think I’ve done one of these properly which was last weekend.  The first two weeks I was supposed to do a 6.5km slow and steady – one week I did trails and the other I was on a girls weekend away and managed to squeeze in a fast 4km instead.  This weekend I’m a bit under the weather, so chose not to run.  So the only real one of these I’ve done is last weekends 10km.  I didn’t want to run the hilly 10km my husband heads out on most weekends, so just did a flattish out and back instead.  It’s a long time since I did a 10km steady run – in fact, I’ve only ever done it twice before!  I slowed right down and managed to keep moving the whole way (minus two pauses at traffic lights).  My other goal was to slightly increase my pace as I went which I also succeeded with!  Every kilometre in the second half was faster than every kilometre in the first half with kilometre nine being my fastest.

Now it starts getting a bit more focussed.  The speed sessions get a bit more intense and I’ll be increasing the pace as well.  The long runs also get a lot longer quite quickly, jumping from 10km to 13km next week and 16km the following week!  The treadmill is definitely getting some use.

Coincidence and Training Plans

I’m currently bang in the middle of two weeks work free while I’m between jobs.  I had grand plans to do some runs in different locations or even put in some decent length hikes, but the broken toe put paid to those plans – for the first week anyway!

So I’m trying to make sure I don’t waste all of my time and wrote a ridiculously long list of things I wanted to achieve across the two weeks.  Within that list was to find a training plan so that I can try and make sure I’m ready for the Nosh Footrace this year.  Both times I’ve run this I’ve ended up with horrible cramps in my achilles and really struggling – but this is my year!  Using trusty old google search, I quickly discovered that there weren’t too many free pre-written training plans for a 16km (or 10 mile) event.  The 5km, 10km, 1/2 marathon and marathon are extremely well catered for, not so much the less “standard” distances.  After scanning over a few of them – one had me running only 3 times a week, one running every day and the length of plans ranging from 8 weeks to 16 weeks I opened up the Nike 10 mile training plan to take a bit more of a look.

Gotta say, it looks pretty intense!  Taking a closer look it breaks down into 3 “workout runs” each week and 4 “recovery” days which can be either shorter run or no-run days.  This could actually work pretty well.  I’m going to have to review it all and make some changes based on the fact that I’ll be doing a trail run and I’m pretty sure this is written for a road race, but I think it’s a good starting point.  It’s also a 14 week plan, which I thought was probably a good idea – a longer plan probably eases into it a bit better for me.  So I checked my calendar to see how far off the Nosh is – it will be exactly 14 weeks from this Sunday!  Couldn’t have planned that better if I tried – coincidence?