Happy marathoniversary to me

… Well ok, I’m late on that, but it was May 5, 2019, that I ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon. A full year ago.

It seems weird to look back on, given the current state of races.

Me, a year ago, with my medal

Even stranger is the fact that I just checked my Final Surge account to look at my recent runs, and was reminded that I had set up a ‘half to full marathon’ bridge training plan to start two weeks from now. That would have been a week after the Ottawa half-marathon, planning for either the Victoria or Niagara marathon in the fall.

I’ll sadly have to change those plans. I’m no longer running the half (more on that in a moment) and it’s not super likely any fall races I had wanted to sign up for will go ahead.

But let’s not dwell on that too much. A lot has happened since my last update here.

I got a treadmill

It’s not fancy. It only has one incline mode that is manual – meaning you have to stop the treadmill, step off, change the incline, step back on and start again. But for someone with knee issues, this is fine. I run flat or at a very slight incline most of the time anyhow.

I had looked at a more feature-rich model, but given I’m the only one using it and plan to return to mostly outdoor running once it is safe, it makes more sense to go with the lower-cost option. This inexpensive model was on sale for under $400 at Canadian Tire. Naturally, I went for it, and have been pretty happy with that decision.

Getting a treadmill has given me some much-needed anxiety relief. I haven’t felt comfortable, or safe, running from my front door for some time. The treadmill has allowed me to run in the comfort of my dining room instead.

It’s been a bit of a challenge to figure out the best setup – where do I put the fan? Where should I sit the treadmill so it’s level on the floors of our 100-year-old house? But overall it has been an enormous relief. No more worrying about if I’ll be able to physically distance properly, and no more stressing about the dirty looks I sometimes got from people (simply because I was running). There’s been a lot of stress out on the streets lately! While that will start to improve now that Toronto is ‘opening back up’, I think it’s going to be a while before things settle into a new normal and I feel ok with running outside.

Me after one of my first Peloton tread workouts.
Right after one of my first Peloton treadmill workouts!

I started using the Peloton app & doing online Pilates

On the very last day that they offered it, I got a 90-day free trial of the Peloton app. To my pleasant surprise, it includes a heck of a lot more than cycling. There are workouts on the treadmill, yoga, stretching, strength training, and even meditation.

I’ve tried a few different things, including multiple styles of running workouts. I’ve enjoyed all of it! I’m honestly considering paying for the app when my 90-day trial ends in July.

I’ve been using my iPad to stream the runs on my treadmill and can stream workouts from my laptop for yoga/strength/etc.

As for pilates, I grabbed a 2-week trial of Zoom classes from Misfit Studio here in Toronto and liked it so much that I’ve now been doing weekly classes. They’ve been great for strengthening my core, glutes, and hips, and the classes are just a nice way to connect with others. They seem to have the ‘how to teach a class online’ part down at this point, so if you like creative pilates mat classes, you might enjoy these.

For now, I’m focusing on shorter distances

I made this decision over the last two weeks.

The overall picture here in Canada is that no major events with large crowds – festivals, parades, races, concerts (to name just a few) – will be permitted to go ahead until we have a vaccine.

We’ve also been told a vaccine is one or two years away.

So slowly, I’ve watched tons of big events get cancelled. Here in Toronto that has included Pride (June), Canada Day (July), the Caribbean Festival (August) and The Ex (rounds out the summer, late August to early September).

I also watched as the Victoria Marathon and Maritime Race Weekend were cancelled, due to provincial orders limiting crowds through the end of this year.

I am guessing that Ontario event cancellations are not far behind.

With no races on the horizon, I feel happiest just running for fun and for my health. So that means sticking to about an hour or less.

That said…

I’ve been doing virtual races

… but only in shorter distances, and for fun, not ‘race pace’.

I was originally signed up for the Ottawa half marathon, which would have been a week from now. I was very excited to get out there and represent Team Awesome and crush my first post-knee-injury big race.

But of course, the race went virtual, just like many races this year.

Given where I am in my fitness right now (and what I said above about running for fun), I just felt more comfortable downgrading to the 10k. I’m actually pretty excited to do it and have it in my calendar for May 30 or 31.

Screen grab from the ottawamarathon Instagram account - showing the cool race medals!
Those medals look nice! The 10k is in the middle. Photo snagged from the Ottawa Marathon IG account

I’ve also done the My Home Course 5k in honour of the tragedy in Nova Scotia. While I’m not from Portapique, it still hurts my heart, given I’m also from a small community in Nova Scotia.

Proceeds went to a fund to help the families of the victims. My overall ‘place’ changed as more people uploaded their time.

And I just signed up to do the Under Armour 8k ‘Spring Runoff‘ Virtual Race. I’ve done the Spring Runoff in High Park every year since 2010, except one year that I had a foot injury and couldn’t run. So while I won’t be doing it on the usual course, I’ll still get out (or treadmill it) for 8k sometime in the next few weeks and earn my medal virtually.

That’s it for ones I’ve actually paid for. I’m also considering doing the VR Pro 5k Canada Day race, and may participate in the Maritime Race Weekend virtual event they said they’ll be announcing in August.

I’m doing fitness challenges

To help keep me motivated, I’ve also been doing a variety of fitness challenges.

Some of these have been Strava challenges. We’ve had a Workout Challenge (yoga or strength train 4 days per week), Lululemon Move and Stay Connected Challenge (do activities at least 5 days per week for a month), and a 5k run in honour of our front-line workers.

My team at Nuun just announced a fun challenge for ambassadors, where every Sunday you get out and move in some way for a minimum of 60 minutes. So I’ll be doing that as well since I always have my long run planned for Sundays anyhow. I’ll have to do a bit of extra walking in my warmup or cool down to get to the full hour this week, but next week I should be at an hour no problem.

And last but absolutely not least, over the next month, I’ll be doing a multi-day ‘Fort to Fort and Lake to Lake’ challenge, hosted by the folks who run the Niagara International Marathon. This one is to run or walk a total of 57km, which is the distance between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie (or between Fort Mississauga and Fort Erie) along the Niagara River. Of course, you’re doing it virtually from your own home – not really going to Niagara (as much as I wish I could!). I have until June 13th to do this, logging distance as many times a week as I want. So far I’ve gone 10.5km, with 7-8km planned for tomorrow. I should hit the infamous falls sometime next week!

Map for the Niagara River 'Fort to Fort' challenge.
The map for our challenge

Overall, I’m adjusting to the ‘new normal’

In some ways this isn’t a bad thing.

Don’t misunderstand – I am longing for the ability to travel, to see friends and family in person and not over Facetime, and to run outside comfortably.

But if there can be a good side to this, it’s that it has forced me to slow down and allow my body more time to heal.

My knee has been feeling very good most days. I think the extra strength training, pilates and yoga I’ve been doing has been helping. I’m happy to take the rest of this year and just focus on getting stronger and building a new base of endurance back up, after a year of running sporadically due to my knee (and then due to COVID until my treadmill arrived).

We’ll see how it goes.

Wishing you all good health and safety in these weird times!