Saturday, April 28, 2018


My last post was written almost exactly one month ago and was titled enthusiastically about my return to racing after an awesome month of March. Now here I sit at my computer injured. In fact, I have been hurt since about two days after that last post was written. I was in denial at first, and optimistic that it would be short-lived. I thought for sure that I would not miss the April Fool's Run, as I never miss that race. I've been doing it every year since 2012, including last year when I was pregnant. So what was a little injury? I didn't realize how hard I hurt myself until I went to see my physiotherapist and the simple exercises she assigned me to do were so very hard. If I can barely balance on the hurt leg for more than a few seconds, how do I expect to run 10K which is essentially thousands of repetitions of balancing on one leg over and over with no break?

I was in denial because I don't really know what I did to hurt myself. There was no one defining moment where I fell or twisted wrong. I just didn't feel good during a training run but got through it anyway, and the getting through it anyway thing was the worst thing I could have done. My knee stiffened up more and more as the day progressed, and my whole leg got very angry until I could barely move it. Despite this, I decided that it couldn't be a bad injury because I have never hurt my knee. There's a misconception that running is bad for knees and I cringe when people ask me if running so much has ever hurt my knees. Well, it did now, but this is after running for 8+ years and thousands and thousands of miles with zero previous knee pain. I think the combination of relaxin hormone in my system, a body shifting back to normal post pregnancy, yet still hanging onto a few extra pounds, plus shoes that were maybe at the end of their life worn a bit too long, and maybe a few other factors. There was no one defining moment, but rather numerous variables coming together like a perfect injury-inducing storm.

The first few days were the worst because the pain was debilitating. I could barely walk and so taking care of my daughter was really a challenge. Having a baby is physically tiring with all the carrying, lifting, etc., done throughout the day. Holding her in my left arm almost all the time has meant additional stress to that side of the body, likely another factor in the knee injury. So having to continue to care for her with this hurt body hasn't helped recovery. I continue to stress my knee out every time I lift her or hold her on one side of my body while I do things with the other, dominant side of my body, which places me in imbalance over and over again as each day progresses.

But the worst part of being injured is the missing out on everything part. I missed the Fools Run. I missed a weekend getaway to the Sunshine Coast with my family. I missed running with a friend. I have missed sunny day after sunny day this glorious spring where I could be training and wearing shorts! I have missed hiking invitations. I have missed social running opportunities. I have missed out on my favourite exercise and the ability to burn mega calories (which until now had helped me lose some of my baby weight). But also I find that when I run, I crave healthier food and I treat my body better. I am missing that and definitely feeling guilty about not eating super well this last little while. I have also missed out on my "me time" as I usually run solo and as a way to decompress and promote better mental health. I have missed out on something that is so me in so many ways, and I am absolutely itching to get it back.

It isn't forever, but it's been a month, and while I have made progress and can walk comfortably, I know I still have a little way to go yet until I am running well again. I will have lost so much of my fitness and will have to start back ever so slowly as to not risk further injury. I won't be starting with 10Ks and working up to a half marathon. A half marathon this fall might be too ambitious. I will be starting at the beginning all over again, just like I had to returning to running post-partum. Slow, steady, and boring.

So while I am so discouraged, I also know that running will always be there for me. I didn't ruin my knee. I have an injury that I will overcome. And when I can return, it will feel oh so very sweet. I will do all the wonderful things I wish to do as a runner. It just might not be in the timeline I had hoped for. But it will all still happen. Until then, I just need to find other ways to keep myself grounded and better focused on healthy habits. Until then I simply need to keep my chin up and keep working at getting stronger. Eyes on the prize!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Return to Racing!

Oh dear, it's been over two months since my last post. Time really does get away from you when there's a little one at home! I am very pleased to report that I have completed two races since my last post, and I have one coming up soon. I regret not writing a race report after each of the last two races, so I will do my best to recap here. My next race will be the April Fool's Run that I do every year on the Sunshine Coast. Because of my history there and my relationship to that race, I will do my darndest to write a blog post after that run as quickly as I can. My apologies to my social network that would have appreciated more timely reports on my other two races.

West Van Run 10K
The first of the two races was the West Van Run 10K on the first weekend of March. I love this race and this was a must-do event because of my friendship with the race director and my membership with the West Van Run crew. This race was my first 10K completed post-partum, and it was a "big long run" type goal. It was quite fitting that this event was my return to racing post-baby because of the way it book-ended my pregnancy in 2017. The West Van Run of 2017 was my first race after learning that I was pregnant, and its sister event, the North Van Run, was my last run completed during my pregnancy at 37 weeks. My daughter was born 2 weeks after that race, and I set my eyes on the West Van Run as a goal to achieve in 2018.

I did it, but it wasn't easy. It wasn't easy because it was indeed my longest run completed post-partum. I had intended to complete the distance at least once in my training but things got in the way such as the flu, a lingering cough, and an unexpected snowstorm! But I had done 8km a few times and knew I had it in me to push a little further on event day. It was also not easy because of sideways rain that day! And I also had a very tough night the night before the race after a very difficult day before. This is what happens when you're a new mom - sometimes you have an insanely hard day. I LOVE being a mom and I feel so incredibly blessed to be experiencing this journey and to have my beautiful daughter in my life. There are some elements though of motherhood that are challenging mentally, physically, and emotionally. And that is putting it very lightly.

I do not feel like publicly detailing the challenging day that I had, but it was ugly and I could not sleep after all the negativity and many many tears. In fact, I almost skipped the race entirely because I didn't feel like I could fake a smile when I would bump into my friends. But this race was a goal of mine and I knew that not doing it would make me feel worse. I had to show up and prove to myself I could do this. And so I did. And it was hard. And when I got to the finish line and saw my loving friends there cheering, I burst into tears. I was so very very embarrassed too for my emotional outburst, but my friends were so full of love and understanding. Thank you ladies! I avoided seeing other friends, especially those with cameras, and dodged nearly all small talk. I avoided socializing. I avoided all the things I normally would do after a race and I promptly returned home. Running did make me feel better about the situation I was upset about, and don't worry, it's now all completely a thing of the past and I am just fine. And I have this bad boy in my possession!

My finish time has long been forgotten and it's nothing exciting to report on. It was my 2nd slowest 10K race (I was slower when I ran the Eastside 10K at 35 weeks pregnant, of course). The race was organized impeccably and it was great to be out there. Thank you to Kirill and all the amazing volunteers for the hours of work put into making this event happen. Hope to be back for the summer event in June!

St. Patrick's Day 5K
And as per tradition, I ran the St. Patrick's Day 5K again this year. This year the event fell on St. Patty's Day itself which made it that much more special. This was a bit of a spur of the moment decision to run because I saw that my husband had the day off work so his help with our daughter that day was available. I didn't want to make demands of his time so soon after the West Van Run, but of course, he was happy to take on a morning of parenting alone since he was freed up that day. So I contacted my sister in law, with whom I have run this race the last few years, and we made a plan to run together. And I know the race directors for this event too and was given the Running Room staff code to make the race even more affordable and a no-brainer to complete.

This race was, as always, a blast! My friend Monica ended up running the whole race with me, which was a lovely surprise. Michele was feeling particularly speedy and good and we didn't hold her back. We of course sported our festive green and enjoyed Irish stew, some beer in our new commemorative glasses, good music, and good company at the finish line festivities at the Stanley Park Pavilion. A good time was had by all indeed!

And next in line....

So next will be the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fools Run on April 8th. It'll be my 7th year in a row participating, but this year I'm not officially blogging as ambassador. I wasn't sure I would run up until recently when I discussed with Monica and we decided to complete it as a two-person relay team. So I only have to run half of the half marathon distance (so just over 10K). I had this race on my hope list but only confirmed recently that I'd indeed run. It's hard to make plans for my time too far in advance these days when I'm my daughter's primary caregiver, plus I wanted to see if I felt OK running 10K before committing to doing it. Well, a bit more than 10K is fine as my running recently has been a lot stronger, even since the West Van Run. I have a run partner to do the relay with, and my husband has the day off to ensure that I can be freed up from mom responsibilities for a little while to allow me to run. He and our daughter will be coming along and we're going to make a weekend of it, staying the night before in Gibsons. Should be a lovely time! Stay tuned for a timely race report following the event :-)

After that, I am not sure what's in store. But I am hoping for a fall half marathon!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A New Year for a New Mom Runner

Please forgive me for it being a little over a month since my last post. Baby nap times are precious for getting things done, or catching some rest, so sitting down to blog doesn't happen as often as I'd like. The last month has been very very positive for me as a mom and as a runner. I've been able to run 3x/week consistently and I'm up to 7km now for long run day. I am intentionally progressing my mileage really slowly as my abs are still a little tender (but improving), and I am not exactly at my ideal running weight yet either. Because of both of those factors, running has been really hard work! I don't want to push myself too much too soon. The plan is to get to 10km for Feb 1st so I can practice that distance a few times ahead of the West Van Run in early March. A fall half marathon sounds like a reasonable goal too! Maybe the Victoria Half in October? It won't be the type of running year that's typical of Zahida, but I think still respectable, and all about returning to action and fitting a running lifestyle into my new life as a new mom.

I know a lot of people set fitness related goals as New Year's Resolutions. If you know me well, you would know that this is not my style. I'm goal-driven by nature and set goals constantly. Through and since my health transformation, fitness related goals have moved me forward. I am always working toward something. Now that I have "baby weight" to lose, I have that goal in mind, sure, but it has nothing to do with New Year's Day and everything to do with always wanting to live in the healthiest version of my body that I can. My true goals are more about health and how I want to feel when I run rather than a number on a scale. Despite not setting resolutions, that's not to say that I don't get reflective when a new year begins. I like to think about what I accomplished the year previous and what lessons I learned. I take those lessons to decide on a theme for my upcoming year.

Last year was defined by my pregnancy and the welcoming of my baby girl in October. Long before I knew of my pregnancy, I decided my theme for 2017 would be kindness to myself. My husband and I had been trying for a very long, painful time to get pregnant and I was often very upset at myself and worried it would never happen. The moment I let go and shifted my mindset toward kindness, the miracle we were looking for arrived. It enabled me to maintain a healthy and active pregnancy. It also allowed me to enjoy my pregnancy! Imagine that. You remember though, I ran up until week 37 and completed 10 races with baby in belly.

My daughter is here now, and I'm so full of love and wonder toward her. I can't stop staring at her precious face. So this year, I really want to enjoy every single moment with this miracle. My theme is about appreciating the little things and living in the moment more than I do. My daughter is almost 3 months old now and is indeed already growing up too fast. I don't want this time to slip by because I was in too much of a rush to do the next thing, trying to accomplish something comparatively unimportant, or too focused on bigger details, that I missed the little ones. I want to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Life will get busier once my maternity leave ends, so before it does, I need to embrace the slow life and all those messy, imperfect, quiet, cuddly, sweet cooing, crying in my face, diaper-filled moments.

So it was rather fitting that I began the New Year with the Resolution Run hosted by the Running Room. Being a fun run, rather than a timed event, I decided a while ago that I would likely walk the event with my daughter in the stroller. And since my husband got scheduled to work that day, that was indeed my approach. So I dedicated my bib to her.

It was my first time walking a running event, and most definitely my first event with a stroller! It was rather a special time with my daughter, even though she slept the entire way there, the whole walk, all the way home, and for two hours after that too! She has no idea she was part of this event, I don't think (I'll have to show her photos one day)! Here we are at the start line. Notice my lack of run gear? Odd to show up at a race in regular clothes...

It was a cold 0 degrees (Celcius) morning with lots of fog, but it wasn't raining and Stanley Park is always beautiful. The energy was very positive and I loved the special time with my girl. At the finish line, the Running Room store hosted a waffle breakfast with door prizes from Brooks. It was hard to get around in there with the stroller with all the store fixtures and other people, but I didn't let it stop me from enjoying. I also got to introduce my daughter to some friends who'd never met her before, including my running buddy Karen.

So what's next? The West Van Run in March where I'll be doing the 10K. I haven't decided on other events yet, except maybe the Victoria Half in October. Anything in between is still up for decision as now any race I do requires someone to look after my daughter, likely meaning my husband has to take time off work (he often works weekends). I'll keep you posted on what I decide!!

Thanks for tuning in and Happy 2018 to you and yours!