Monday, October 13, 2014

Prolotherapy for Plantar Fasciitis- does it work???

As most of you already know I have been working out with Innovative Fitness Kits for over a year now as one of their sponsored athletes. (and I LOVE IT!) One of the things I do for them is write a monthly blog for their newsletter. Most recently I blogged about my experience with Plantar Fasciitis this year, and more specifically on whether or not Prolotherapy was an effective treatment. So I thought I would share it on my own blog for ya'll to read:)

Plantar Fasciitis- Just Go Away Already! Does Prolotherapy Help?

Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most frustrating injuries I've ever endured. In fact it isn't “one of”, it is by far the most frustrating of them all. If you've ever dealt this this injury you know what I'm talking about. It can stick with you for months and sometimes years. This is because there is no tried and true way of getting rid of it. There are certain forms of rehab that work for some, and for others are completely ineffective. I'm gonna talk about everything I've tried so far, including my most recent treatment- Prolotherpy, and give you my 2 cents on its helpfulness in healing my heel.

PF (plantar fasciitis) is one of the most common and painful injuries runners encounter. For those of you that don't know what PF is, here is a quick definition from Wikipedia- “Plantar fasciitis (also known as plantar fasciopathy or jogger's heel) is a common painful disorder affecting the heel and underside of the foot. It is a disorder of the insertion site of ligament on the bone and is characterized by scarring, inflammation, or structural breakdown of the foot's plantar fascia. “. In my own words- PF is a nasty angry devil bitch in your heel. It starts off as a “soreness” in your heel. Maybe you wore the wrong shoes out for a run? No, you wish it was as simple as that. It's an annoying (often excruciating) pain on the inside of your heel (sometimes feels like your entire foot hurts....) that is with you each and every step. For a lot of people the pain is the worst in the morning and it gets better as the day goes on. Not for me- mine just hurt all the time, walking or running. Ok so that pain in your heel is getting worse and you go to your physio and he gives you the devastating news that you have PF. Here are some of the things he or she will tell you to do in hopes of getting rid of it.... all of which I have tried and will tell you about.

  1. Wear some sort of night splint or Strassberg sock. They are designed to keep tension on the tissue (plantar fascia) so it heals in a stretched position at night. Yeah, that did nothing for me except annoy me while I was sleeping. But many people have found success with this simple method
  2. Strengthening exercises and rolling your foot out with a ball. After 6 months of this, I still have PF, so not sure how helpful they have been....
  3. New shoes or orthotics....tried about 8 pairs of shoes and 3 pairs of orthotics..... nothing seemed to make a difference for me.
  4. Icing and ibuprofen. Icing helped relieve the soreness/pain after a run, but it would quickly return the next day when I ran. Advil just helps with the pain...doesn't actually help it go away.
  5. Get your foot adjusted. I saw a chiropractor, he adjusted my foot/heel. This did not help, it only hurt while he was doing it.
  6. Take time off. Completely unload your Plantar Fascia. Limited walking and definitely no running or other weight bearing activities. I took 6 full weeks off of running and work. When I first started running again (very limited amounts at first), the pain was definitely diminished. But within a month of being back into my full time training, the pain was almost unbearable again.
  7. Shock wave therapy- I have not tried this myself, but know a few people who have. There conclusion is that it helps initially- for a few days...but the pain then returns. And the treatment itself is quite painful.

So this brings me to the last method of treatment that I tried- Prolotherapy. After 3.5 months of dealing with this terrible injury and trying so many things that just weren't working, I was feeling frustrated and hopeless. My sports med doctor presented me with a few more “advanced” options. By advanced I mean last resort kinda stuff. She was hoping one of the more simple methods would have worked by now, but since they were not helping we had to try something new....

  1. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy- “It utilizes platelets from your own blood to rebuild a damaged tendon or cartilage. It has been successful in not only relieving pain, but also in jump starting the healing process. Your blood is drawn and placed in a centrifuge for 15 minutes to separate out the platelets. The platelet-rich plasma is then injected into the damaged portion of the tendon or cartilage with the guidance of an ultrasound machine.” (
  2. Corticosteroid Injection- “Cortisone is a hormone that is naturally produced by your body's adrenal gland as a response to stress. Cortisone injections contain a synthetic version of this substance and are given as a shot directly into the injured plantar fascia ligament, or into the side of the heel. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory substance. In the case of Plantar Fasciitis, bringing down the inflammation surrounding the plantar fascia ligament can then lead to relief of pain” (
  3. Prolotherapy- is a regenerative injection therapy. It involves injecting an otherwise non-pharmacological and non-active irritant solution into the body for the purpose of strengthening weakened connective tissue and alleviating musculoskeletal pain. Thanks Wikipedia for that definition.

So I was presented with these three options, knowing that they would all require 2 things that scared me- 1. more time off of running and 2. needles into my heel. We decided that Cortisone injections would be my last resort, as the possible side effects were the worst of the 3. So it was between the PRP therapy and the Prolotherapy. We decided on the Prolotherapy treatment, as it was a bit less invasive.

The following week I had my first appointment with Dr Bovard who would be giving me the Prolotherapy. I would be getting the injections once every week for 6 weeks. During this 6 weeks I was still allowed to run, but very limited. No longer then 45-50 mins, 5 times a week and only if the pain level in my heel was less then 4 out of 10. I was very happy I was still allowed to run at all.

I knew that the injections were going to hurt. Even though there was a numbing drug put in with the prolo solution, the first 20 seconds were pretty painful. The entire procedure is less then a minute, so really its not so bad. For the first few hours my heel felt good...cause it was numb! But then the next 24 hours it was very sore and tender. My heel was more inflamed then before....but this was the point- now my PF will start healing faster. That's kinda how prolotherapy is supposed to work...I think....hahaha I can't explain all the science behind it, so please goggle it if you really want to know exactly how it works.

So every Monday for 6 weeks I went in and got the injection. It has been almost 7 weeks since my last injection. Each week my heel was supposed to get better, and by the 6 weeks after my last injection, my heel should be much better. Well not sure that this is what has happened. I knew that Prolotherapy wasn't a miracle cure and that I wouldn't be 100% pain free. But I was hoping for close to that....Each week after the last injection I began to increase my mileage and the intensity of some of my runs- as long as the pain wasn't getting worse. Some days I felt almost nothing when I ran- it was amazing. I really felt like I was making progress, and that I was gonna kick this PF once and for all! But then there would be days where my heel was angry and painful again. In the last few weeks, progress has come to a standstill, and the pain remains on a daily basis. It is not bad like it was in the spring or summer, its manageable....but none the less there is still pain.

So did the Prolotherapy work? I definitely think it helped, but not to the extent I had hoped for. I am running pain reduced, but not pain free, which is obviously where I want to be. People who have had PF tell me that one day I will wake up and it will just be gone. It is hard to imagine just waking up one morning and having no pain in my heel. Just the thought of this happening brings a smile to my face. While I wait for this miracle to happen, I will continue to do my exercises, ice my heel, get regular massage and physio, and pool run on days when my heel is extra sore. As long as it's not getting worse....I feel like I'm making progress. And if things start getting bad again- well then I still have 2 treatments to try- PRP therapy or Corticosteroid injections..... Let's hope we don't have to try either of these....

For those of you that don't like needles....don't watch this.  Here's a video of Prolotherapy.  It's hard for me to watch, and think that I had that done to me!  Yikes. ouchy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Hello! Hope you haven't all forgotten about me....I know its been a while since my last blog- as usual. I always say I'm going to blog more often and then I don't. Sorry. So what's my excuse this time? Well I'm still injured and haven't raced in almost 5 months so I haven't been very motivated to write a running blog. But that's still a shitty excuse, cause there has still been lot's of cool stuff going on.

Ok lets start with the injury situation, so we can get the no fun stuff out of the way. Last time I blogged right before the Sun Run, I had been dealing with an “unknown” issue in my foot/heel for about 3 weeks. We thought it was either Plantar Fasciitis or a calcaneous stress fracture. I got a CT scan and a bone scan in May and the results showed a huge amount of inflammation, but didn't look like a stress fracture, but still not 100%. To be safe, my physio put me in a walking boot cast for another 3 weeks (at this point I had already taken 3 full weeks of NO running). After 6 weeks of no running at all, and very minimal walking (I didn't work either), my heel was still hurting a bit. If it was a stress fracture, it would have been healing or healed by now. So I decided to treat it as Plantar Fasciitis and began a walk run program. For the next month I slowly got back into running, but my heel was still hurting.

In June I got an MRI, which confirmed a nasty case of Plantar Fasciitis, but NO stress fracture. I finally got back up to about 100km a week for a few weeks, with some tempo runs, but it was all in pain. I knew I could not continue running like this. Not only was my heel hurting, but I also developed peroneal tendonitis in the same foot (pain under and around my right ankle. Feels like a sprained ankle). I was trying to avoid the pain on the inside of my left heel (where my Pf hurt), so I was running on the outside of my foot so much, that I was pulling and straining my ligaments on the right side of my foot/ankle/calf. Not cool. So basically at the start of July my foot was a mess and not getting better. I was extremely frustrated, because nothing seemed to be working. I tried all the exercises, the icing, stretching, different shoes/orthotics, ect. I just couldn't kick this injury! Disheartened and feeling hopeless I was wondering if I would ever run pain free again....was this the end of my running career? Something had to be done.

I sat down with Dr. Rose Martel (sports med doc at Fortius), to discuss my options. She suggested a newer therapy called prolotherapy. But- she said there was a long wait so I wouldn't be able to start the 4-6 week treatment until october. I then talked to my physio Chris Napier about the prolotherapy- and he was on board and he actually knew someone that could do the treatment for me starting right away! The only difference was that he was a private doctor, so I had to pay, instead of it being covered by bc health care. (approx $1000 for everything). I knew that I needed to start this therapy right away, so I was willing to pay. However, I am EXTREMLEY fortunate to have one of the the most amazing sponsors out there- Innovative Fitness Kits, who offered to help pay for my treatment! Absolutely fantastic news, and I can't thank them enough for their support. Through-out my injury, the whole IF team have been unreal. Always encouraging me and helping me work through my injury. Not being able to run hard or very much at all has been tough. I miss that feeling of working hard and pushing myself. So its been awesome coming into the gym twice a week and really working hard with my trainer. They always lifted my spirits, and kept me positive.

Ok back to the prolotherapy! What the heck is that you may be wondering? Well here is a definition I stole from the website- “Prolotherapy, also called regenerative injection therapy, is a series of injections which provide or promote the release of growth factors which can help rebuild and strengthen these ligaments and tendons. Once your body has rebuilt these structures, the source of the pain disappears.” So I got my first injection on July 22. Um, yeah it hurt. Even though Dr Bovard added freezing to the injection, it still freakin hurt. And just so you all know I'm a huge baby when it comes to pain, so I was terrified of getting this treatment. However, I somehow managed to survive, and didn't even cry like I thought I would. While I'm getting prolotherapy, I am allowed to run about 5 times a week for about 40-50 mins each time. But no hard running allowed! So I'm keeping busy in the pool too:) Getting a tan in kits pool these days- pool running ain't so bad. But don't get me wrong, I'm still working my butt off in the pool with lots of interval sessions:)

It takes a few weeks/injections before you see any results. It's only in the past week that I've actually noticed improvement. It's still a bit painful when I run, but much more tolerable and definitely better then last month. Progress is slow....but any progress is better then no progress. I still have a a lot of healing to do. I have 1 more injection, next week on the 25th. I'm hoping by September, I'll be seeing some big improvements. This is the first time in months that I am feeling hopeful! Not being able to train consistently or race has been devastating. I have missed out on 5 months of racing. And its looking like I will miss most of the fall season. But, now things are looking up and soon this injury will be a thing of the past. I know I just have to stay positive and eventually “this too shall pass”. I'm taking things one day at a time, and not planning any races. Once I'm back training consistently, then I will start thinking about racing. But, for now I'm just concentrating on getting healthy:)

The past few months have definitely been a struggle. It's been tough....this whole injury ordeal. Some days I was so discouraged and sad I was near tears (ok i'll be honest, there were lots of tears...I'm a big baby!) But the running community has been amazing. So many wonderful friends, encouraging and supporting me. In particular- Katherine Moore, Catherine Watkins, Dayna Piderosky and Rachel Cliff- you ladies have been awesome. I really can't thank you all enough for always being there for me- whether its to go for an easy run, pool run, coffee, drink, whatever. You've all listened to my endless complaining about my injury, and never told me to shut up! You've kept me positive and helped me believe that eventually my heal will get better! Thanks ladies. Love ya. 
Catherine, Dayna and I:) love these girls!

Ok on to the cool stuff that's been going on. I've picked up a few new sponsors! I'm now an ambassador for NUUN hydration and CEP compression Canada. Two awesome companies that I'm stoked (and very fortunate) to be an ambassador for.

NUUN hydration is an American company, just getting things rolling in Canada, so I'm excited to be one of their first Canadian distance runners to be sponsored. I can't wait to get back into my marathon training, so I can start using all my tasty lil NUUN tablets!

I do almost all of my long run/tempos/progressions in CEP compression socks or calf sleeves, so to have them on board helping me out, is amazing. In fact, I wore my hot pink CEP socks today on my run, as I find they are really helping out with my peroneal tendonitis. These CEP compression socks/sleeves have so many functions! What a great product:)

So, I picked up 2 new sponsors, but also resigned with one of my current sponsors. I am so happy that Asics Canada will be keeping me on their roster for another 3 years. In the last year Asics Canada has put together a wickedly talented team of distance runners- Lanni Marchant, Jessica O'Connell, Rachel Cliff, Erin Burrett, Luc Bruchet and Charles Philibert-Thiboutot. I am excited to be a part of such an awesome team of runners. 

 Asics photo-shoot with David McColm

Thanks for the great photo David McColm

Asics Girls!  Lanimal and I!

The Beauty of Sport issue of Sporstnet Magazine came out last week. It's pretty cool (and surreal) to see myself all dolled up in the magazine! I had lot's of fun shooting with the Sportsnet team this past May in Lake Louise, Alberta. I wrote a blog about my photo shoot experience for Innovative Fitness. I'll post it on here too. You can buy the magazine at most places that you would buy magazines, so go check it out!

Ok, that's certainly a long enough blog I think. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

Happy Running! 

Here is a link to the TV clip for breakfast tv.  Just chatting about Sportsnet Mag.

And here is a link to some of the Sportsnet beauty of sport pictures and videos:

Photo shoot fun! Thanks for the awesome photos Chris Thorn!  

 Lanni was in town, so I brought her into Innovative Fitness for an awesome WO

Wicked session with Strength and Conditioning Coach Jon Kowamoto. #BCEP
There's definitely been a few nights out with the girls!

Germany won the World Cup.  That was cool.  




Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Hello! Sorry its been so long since my last blog- I have no excuse accept laziness. The longer I go in between blogs, the harder it is to get back into blogging. But anyway, here I am blogging again.

So what's new since my last blog in January? Well it's been a bit of a tough go for this lady. After the marathon in October, I took 6 days of absolutely no running, then jumped back into training for Canadian Cross Country Championships that were at the end of November. I had a few minor injuries popping up that month, but I trained through and ended up running well at XC champs. I continued on training through December, but was really struggling with consistency. I would get about 7-10 days of good running in, then feel really fatigued/sore/like a bag of shit, and need to take a few days off, or skip a hard workout. I just wasn't recovering.

When January came, I just wasn't feeling like myself, physically or emotionally. I had some pretty heavy personal/health stuff to deal with, and it was affecting my running. I raced twice, and both results not what I wanted. So I backed off the workouts in January and just ran. No track stuff, no pressure. It was exactly what I needed. In mid February I was starting to feel good again, and getting in some consistency. Then I strained my left hamstring during a local half marathon (First half half marathon). This was the beginning of the nightmare that is the left side of my body. Since then, I've really been struggling with pain and tightness in my left glute, SI joint, piriformis, ect.  Basically my entire bum, hip, groin, lower back area on the left side. It wasn't sidelining me, and I was still able to run my hard workouts, but my off day runs were often quite painful and I not so much fun. Regular massage, and my savior of a physio Chris Napier were holding me together. My massage therapist compared me to a someone in a sinking ship constantly just bailing out the water to stay a float. I totally related to that! But that's all a part of training for a marathon. It's a grind and it's gonna hurt. You need to know when to push and when to rest. It's a fine line. One I'm still trying to figure out.

I pushed through and by the end of March I was finally feeling fit and ready to run fast. I raced the Modo 8km at Stanley park on March 24th during a somewhat high week of mileage and managed to pull out a pretty good time of 26:38. I was very happy with that, and felt good doing it. I knew I was ready to run a fast 10km, probably a PR, and was excited to get to race one in Stanford on the track only 2 weeks later. However, things didn't end up working out the way I had hoped.

The day after the Modo 8km, I noticed that my right heel was a bit sore. I just figured it was from racing the day before, then working 7 hours serving right after. Either way, I pool ran instead of running and all was good on Tuesday when I threw down a pretty decent track workout with Rachel Cliff. The pain seemed to be gone. Saturday morning, the 28th, I went out to do an easy 10k before my flight to California and was surprised with how much my heel was hurting.

I arrived in Santa Cruz with the rest of the BC Endurance Project for our 2 week training camp. I mentioned to the team that my right heel was really hurting. They were all like “uh oh....that is NOT good. Probably Plantar Fasciitis”. Something I knew almost nothing about. I have never had problems with my feet. They went on to tell me what a bitch it is, and how hard it is to go away. I was not happy, but was sure that it would be something I could deal with and keep under control.

20km the next day was supposed to be awesome as we were running along the cliffs by the ocean. I felt pain. Pain with every damn step. It was getting worse. The next day, we (coach rich) and I decided to give the heel one more run- it wasn't good. But I thought, yes, it hurts, but I can handle this. I really wanted to race on Friday night (only 5 days away). So I decided I would just keep training no matter how much it hurt, then I would rest it after the race. Well, I attempted to do a track workout the next day and it was a disaster. I limped through the warm up, winced through the strides, then hobbled one lap of what was supposed to be a 1k. I wasn't as tough as I thought- it just hurt too damn much. I walked off the track distraught, sad and frustrated.

Decision was made to skip the race and cross train (pool run) for a few days and see if that helped. After 3 days, and lots of rolling and icing, I did a little 6k run. Pain. But it was still a little bit better. So the next day I ran again- this time 14k. Pain, but somewhat manageable. Then I tried 20k the next day. Made it 16km and knew I couldn't continue to run in pain like this. Running in pain is no way to run. I love running, and I was hating it with every step. I knew that day that I couldn't run through this injury- whatever it was (still not sure it was PF). The realization that I would have to take weeks (months?) of no running and only cross training was setting in. I was devastated as I knew this meant that I wouldn't be able to train properly for the Ottawa marathon on May 24th. No Ottawa Marathon also means no chance of making the Commonwealth games team. This was my last (only) opportunity to try and run the standard of 2:35.00.  Totally bummed. Withdrawing from the Ottawa marathon really sucked, but I know I will be back to run a fast fall marathon:)

As for the rest of the spring season.....Who knows? I'm taking things day by day, seeing how my heel feels. We aren't sure if it is actually PF. Could be a calcaneus stress fracture (awaiting a bone scan this or next week), or an irritated fat pad. I had not run since April 7th, until yesterday when I ran 12 mins. I was really hoping my heel would feel good, but it was still hurting. Better, but definitely far from good. Pretty disappointing to say the least. I had been holding on to some hope that I would still be able to race the Vancouver Sun Run this weekend. That hope is all but gone now. I would say there is a 1% chance that I will be on that start line. Oh man that is pretty heart breaking for me. That is the one race all year that I really wanted to crush. I must say I'm pretty gutted to have to sit this one out.

I've been working my butt off pool running and biking. I know that if I continue cross training like a champ, I'll be able to stay fit. And when my heel is “healed” and I'm able to run again, I'll be ready. On days when I'm lacking motivation, I think of Lynn Kanuka (Williams)- She spent weeks pool running and biking with an injury, and within a few weeks of being back running was in the best shape of her life- setting the Canadian record in the 3000m. She is my inspiration, and I feel so fortunate to have her giving me advice and guidance with my current injury.

The last few weeks have been pretty tough. I was finally feeling fit and ready to run fast- excited for the spring season of races. And in a matter of days, it all changed. Knowing that my heel could take months to get better means the probability of no races at all. I've cried. I've felt sorry for myself. But that is doing no good (especially not for my teammates, coach, family and boyfriend that have to put up with sad Tasha). I have a good friend who is an elite runner and was very sick resulting in a 10 day hospital stay. A blood infection that now has him on I.V. Antibiotics for weeks. He will not be able to run for who knows how long. I have no right feeling sorry for myself, when someone else is going through something far worse. Really puts things in perspective for me. Suck it up princess- that's what I'm telling myself.

So I'm trying to stay positive. I've been very fortunate with my health up to know. I have had no big injuries for years. And all this cross training has helped my evil left side. It's feeling great! These things happen to all distance runners. I may miss a few races now, but there's lots more to come. I'll be back- and I'll be faster then ever!

 Taking the "W" at the Modo 8km

 Photo shoot for AQR Sport with Chris Thorn

 Fun time taking pics with Chris Thorn in Squamish. 

 One of the only runs I did in California with my bud Dayna.  

 Dayna and I met up with Lanni for dinner while she was in Cali to race.

 Beauty day taking pics in Squamish.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Hello everyone and Happy New Year!  Pretty sure I can still say happy new year even though, the new year started 9 days ago?  Whatever I've been saying it to people all week so I'm just gonna keep saying it for the whole month:)

Well what a year 2013 was!  Looking back it was pretty crazy (both in life and running).  Here are some of the statistics from my year of running in 2013-

-I raced 19 times in 15 different cities, 11 of which I had to fly to. (hello airmiles!)
-I ran Personal Bests in 5 different distances- 10k road, 10000m track, 5000m track, 8k road and 3000m indoor track.
-I raced 2 new types of races this year- steeplechase and the full marathon.
-highest mileage week- 152 KM (yes I work in km not miles- I AM CANADIAN!)
-lowest mileage week- 0.  lol its called a rest week!  and I enjoyed every second of it!

Here is a list of all the races-

Victoria- PIH 8km- 25:28 (PB)
Jamaica- NACAC XC Champs 6k- 21:07

Seattle- UW indoor invite- 3000m- 9:02 (PB)

Poland- World XC Champs- 8k- 24th place

Burnaby- SFU Invite- 3000m Steeplechase- 10:24 (PB) first and last steeple ever.
Walnut, California- MT Sac Relays 5000m- 16:00 (PB)
Vancouver- Sun Run 10k- 32:42 (PB)
San Fransisco- Stanford Invite 100000m 33:09 (PB on the track)

Vancouver- BMO half marathon- 1:15:17
Ottawa- 10k- 33:20

New York City- Mini 10k- time was very slow dont even remember.
Moncton New Brunswick- Cnd track champs 10000m- 33:30- 1st.
Vancouver- Scotiabank half marathon- 1:14:55

Vancouver- Summerfast 10k- 35:00

Nice, France- Francophone games 10000m- 33:30 4th place
Toronto- Cnd 10k champs- slow. 4th place.

San Jose, Califonia- Rock and Roll half marathon- 1:14:39
Toronto- STWMarathon! 2:35:11 (chip time!) 2:35:16- gun time. BC record

Vancouver- Cnd XC Champs 7k- 1st.

It was a busy year!  Now looking back perhaps I raced a bit too much....and definitely lacked focus in the spring.  This year my focus will be 10k/half marathon in the spring, and full marathon in the fall.  I sat down with Coach Rich the other day and went over my race schedule for the winter/spring- its very exciting!  Very much looking forward to my first half marathon of the season in Phoenix next weekend.  Training has been going well- keeping consistent and staying healthy:)

Keeping things similar to last years recap blog- I will summarize my favorite moments of 2013.  We will do a top 5 (and i'll keep it running related- cause lets me honest the personal life was a bit sucky this year).  Making this list was not easy.  The 3 best running moments of my life took place in the same year!  I was blessed with a truly wonderful year of success in running.  Thank-you to everyone who supported me and cheered me on:)

    I was fortunate to be selected to Team Canada for the Francophone Games in September.  We were there for 12 days, and it was so beautiful!  I raced the 10000m, which was an ok race, but I didn't taper at all as I was in full blown marathon training.  So while I was in Nice I was able to get in lots of great running, including an epic 32km progression run from Nice to Cannes with Chris Napier.  Chris Winter and Rejean Chaisson rented bikes and rode the whole way with us, ensuring we got out Gels and water along the way.  They were amazing. We spend the day in Cannes and took the train back. It was a great day- one of my favorite days of the whole year!
we made it!  on the beach in Cannes after our run.

   Going way back to the beginning of the year- the first weekend in January.  I took the 7am ferry over to Victoria for my first race of the year- my club PIH's annual 8km race.  I wasn't expecting much, just ready to have some fun and put in a hard effort.  Well I certainly surprised myself (and everyone else!) with a huge PB, course record and unofficial Canadian record- 25:28.  This was a huge break through for me.  Gave me the confidence I needed going into the 2013 season. 
highlight video of the race.

   From my first race of the year, to my last one this past November.  I have never won a XC National title, so winning this year was really special.  It was a great way to finish off my 2013 year of racing.  I wrote a blog for one of my fantastic sponsors Innovative Fitness about my experience and a little bit about what Cross Country running is-

What is Cross Country?

I recently raced at the Canadian Cross Country National Championships on Nov. 30th. I was surprised at how many people had no idea what Cross Country running was. No its not a marathon, no its not a road race, no it does not involve skis, no its not on the track and finally, yes I still race if it snows. Cross Country running takes place on any surface that is not on the road or the track. So it can be on the grass, dirt, trails, golf course, etc. Most Cross Country races are on a combination of both grass, dirt and trails.
The course is mapped out to whatever distance it needs to be- for men the race distance is usually 10-12km and for women its usually 6-8km. Most often the course is made up of “loops”. So we will run 3 X 2km loops, etc. This is good for spectators because they are able to see you more often and cheer for you! Many courses include both flat parts and hills. Some courses even put in obstacles such as hay piles for you to jump over. I raced at the World Cross Country Championships this past March in Poland and they had man-made mud piles for us to go over. It was pretty cool.

Of the 3 running disciplines- Track, Road and Cross Country- XC (short for cross country) is definitely my favorite. You never know what you're gonna get on race day. Will it be a super hilly course? Is there gonna be mud everywhere? Do we have to jump stuff? It's always exciting. XC running is fun- getting out there in the trails and just running hard- no worries about time or splits. Its all about just racing- which I love.

So when I found out that our XC national champs were gonna be held not only in Vancouver this year, but in my backyard- Jericho Beach, just 2 km from my house, I was so excited! Racing in front of my home crowd on a course I knew like the back of my hand. But as a hometown girl and race favorite to win, I felt a lot of pressure. I had ran my first marathon just 5 weeks before national XC. Would I be recovered enough? Did I have enough “speed” in my legs to run a 7k XC race? I was very nervous on race day and was feeling a little unprepared. Usually I train all fall for this race, but this year I focused on the marathon in Oct and therefore only really had a few weeks of actual “XC” training (intervals on the trails, grass, etc.)

My coach gave me a simple race plan- Don't lead the race at all, just run in the front pack and kick in at the finish. I am very impatient and have a hard time just “sitting” in the back. But one of my strengths is my final kick, and knew if it came down to the final 100m, I could sprint past any girl. So the race started and it was very slow for the first 1km. But I didn't lead at all, just chilled out in the back pack of about 10 girls- making jokes about the muddy course, and actually laughing a bit with my friend, running buddy and biggest competition- Rachel Cliff.

At about 2km, it was just 3 of us up front now- Rachel, Jessica and me. I let Rachel and Jessica lead the way through the mud and slush. At 4km, Rachel and I went down a big hill and dropped Jessica a bit. I knew this was our chance to “break her”, so I said to Rachel- “lets put in a surge and get a gap on Jessica”. Which is exactly what we did- and it worked. Going into the final 2km of the race it was just Rachel and I. She was about 5 meters ahead of me. I was feeling good, but was not sure how much I had left. Was getting worried that she was going to drop me and I wouldn't be able to catch her at the finish. But I hung on for dear life and stayed on her heals. We came around the final wet, super muddy corner with about 200m go to and I could hear my guy teammates (they were in the next race), Kelly and Luc absolutely screaming full force at me to “GO NOW!!!!”. So I kicked it into over drive. I sprinted past Rachel and hammered it to the finish line for the win. I couldn't believe how much I had left at the end of the race! My little legs were going so fast- it was exciting. I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face- my first XC national title! It was an amazing feeling. My friends and family were all there at the finish line. I was so happy they were there to support me and share my win with me. A group from Innovative Fitness came to cheer me on as well, including both my fabulous trainers- Michael and Mark. Thank-you so much for coming to support me on such a miserable, cold rainy day.

Cross Country running requires a great deal of strength. Uneven footing, obstacles, hills, mud and sometimes snow. The training I do at Innovative Fitness is a huge part of my training for XC. It's not just about running all the time. I am a stronger more powerful runner because of all the strength work I do at I.F. My national title would not have been possible without all the work I've done at I.F. Thank-you guys:)

     it was muddy.  
happy girl:)

   My first experience at the world XC Champs was one of the best experiences of my life.  Making it to the World Championships in your sport is what you strive for.  Just being a part of the Canadian team was an honour.  I recapped my experience in my blog last spring, so I won't go into too many details- but it was a special trip.  My parents were there- which was awesome.  I was very sick and somehow managed to pull out one of the best races of my life for a 24th place finish.  I never realized how tough I was until this race- both mentally and physically.  What a great trip- with a great team:)
 im on the left:)
right after the race with my parents.

   Yeah you probably could have guessed it!  I wrote 2 blogs about my debut marathon this past October.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life- not just the race but the process of training for it.  I learned so much about myself as a runner and as a person.  Although at times it was damn hard, it was worth every second of pain when I crossed that finish line.  Looking forward to my next marathon already!  maybe this spring???  hahaha no no- probably in the Fall:)
  hahahah look at my face in the left picture!!!  that's the finish.

Well it sure was a good year of running!   A few great moments that didn't quite make my top 5- Winning the Sun Run and running 9:02 in the 3000m. 

  I only had a few little injuries- thank-you Chris Napier from Restore Physio for keeping me healthy!  And thank-you Innovative Fitness for getting me strong- I feel like a much more efficient, powerful runner!  And of course, thank-you Asics for my endless supply of amazing running shoes and gear.  Loving my Hyperspeed flats- best racing flat for marathons. 

One thing really stuck out to me when I was recapping my running year- my parents were there for my most important, memorable races.  (STWM, World XC, National XC).  I am so lucky to have such supportive parents.  Thank-you so much for being there for me every step of the way this year.  

Ok everyone, have a great 2014- and I promise I will blog more often this year!