Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not So Hilly Half

Well, not one to shy away from setting tough goals, I have decided to attempt this Sunday's infamous 'Not So Hilly' Half Marathon (NSH) in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland.  This will be my third  NSH in four years (I missed 2010 because the date conflicted with a full marathon I had already committed to run in Halifax).  Newfoundland is best known for its hills, so the existence of 21.1k of continuous flat road is considered satirical.

As a full marathoner, the half marathon has always been considered a speed drill of sorts. the two previous times I ran it, I entered the race on tired legs, having previously run several marathons in the month leading up to it.  ironically enough, I would cite my 2009 and 2011 NSH races as the two most perfectly-executed races of my career as a distance runner. In both cases, I entered with a specific plan to run all 21 at consistent paces, and did so almost perfectly. in 2009, my goal was 5 minute kms, and in 2011, it was 6 minute kms.  In both cases, I crossed the finish line just mere seconds faster than my goal.

Anyway, 2012 is a very different story.  I have not run a formal race since Oct 2011, when I struggled through the Cape to Cabot 20k - a race I ran on extremely bad knees and under conditions of being grossly over-weight and under-trained.  Well, 3 weeks after that race, I woke up one morning with ankle pain, which turned out to be a torn ligament. It seems that a challenging summer of running on bad knees, and under-trained muscles, had put extra pressure on the ankle to the point where it eventually just gave out.

Anyway, after several visits to the physio clinic and only a handful of short runs, while still extremely painful, I have built up a muscular support system that has at least allowed me to run on the ankle without risking any further damage (beyond what would otherwise be considered regular risk probabilities).

Bottom line, although I had done practically no running in Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb and March, I was finally able to start logging some miles in April. In the past 6 weeks, I have had 8 runs of 8km or greater; including 1 at 16k.  It's hard to believe that I have not run 21.1k or more since I limped my way through the Newfoundland Provincial Marathon in Sept 2011, which i finished in 5 hr 56 minutes.  but my recent 16k demonstrated to me that 1) the ankle can handle this, and 2) as poor a shape as I may be in, I can still do this within the 3 hour time limit.

So there we have it. a goal of breaking the 3 hour time limit. I guess that works out to slightly more than 8 minute kms.  Quite sad to think that my goal is to finish dead last. but at the same time, to finish this race at all, is something I would have considered unthinkable, a mere two weeks ago.

After reflecting on my blog and vlog that I posted yesterday after my disappointing 10k training run, I figured that the best way to get myself fired up and excited about life again, was to set extremely ambitious, yet attainable goals.  running this race and crossing the finish line will put some legitimacy on my comeback, as while not a full marathon, this will still represent a significant accomplishment as my first post-ankle-injury race.

For those who are not aware, ligaments are probably the worst thing you can injury: bones heal, muscles repair themselves, tendons and ligaments generally do not directly heal. once you've stretched or torn them, they are stretched for life. in the case of a ligament, if you completely severe them, you will need surgery to weave them together - like a wicker basket.  In my case, I have two torn ligaments, but they are not severed, so I have been advised against surgery but to strengthen the muscles around them and adjust my running motion.  losing some weight would also be advisable, as I know I ask a lot of my entire body, by carrying around what has got to be 80 pounds too much.

Anyway, sure, there is always a chance that I will not finish this race, but heck, I live my life based on a probability matrix.  I have just about everything to gain, and only a minimal chance that I will actually come out of this with something to lose. So it's on! looking forward to finally pinning a number on my running shirt again. and excited that what has traditionally been my busiest running month (May), will not be completely shut out.  While it still remains unlikely that I will ever run another full marathon again, this is at least something positive.


torontonorth said...

to what lengths will you go for attention? entering this race, and wasting the entry fee, is beyond ridiculous, and makes you an embarrassment to the running community. So many reasonable people train and prepare properly for a race, at any distance, that you just look foolish, and frankly, stupid for risking this venture, even at a walking pace, in the dismal physical shape you are in. 8 runs over 8k in the last 6 weeks? Are you kidding? That wouldn't prepare you for a 5k. You've made your choices, taking unnecessary hormones to grow breasts puts your NECESSARY organ functions at risk. Running at such an obese weight puts strain on everything, including your sprained ankle, which, btw, could use some help in the way of reduced weight as well. Anyhow, grow up. This is not an aggressive or challenging goal - it is just plain stupidity. Can your vast army of doctors not advise you better than this?

Jennifer McCreath said...

unnecessary hormones?? oh, so u are all of a sudden qualified to make medical opinions on my hormonal arrangements? geeze... i thought giving medical advice without a doctor's license was illegal?

i'll let the people, and my 2 boston marathon medals, decide whether or not i am an embarassment. how many of those do you have??

torontonorth said...

i'm just quoting your own blog comments about the 'choices' you made on the p-hormones, and umm..what people? and boston? you are referring to the first race you squeaked in on extra time and qualified as a male and ran as a female, or the second one where you ran as a male and used that time to qualify as a female? tsk. not quite stellar accomplishments are they. and oh yea, the times you posted on those important races?

if you stopped being so full of yourself and the trans this and trans that poor me thing, you'd see that this is probably the most reasonable 'medical' advice you've gotten. it would make a lot more sense to deal with your issues, train properly, and enjoy running for running, not for attention seeking. just saying. and that's all i will say.

Jennifer McCreath said...

for someone who doesn't think i deserve attention, you certainly seem to be paying quite a bit to me. glad to see that you have read several of my blogs and know most of my history.

attention is not sought for personal reasons, but to educate society about trans issues so they can better learn how to negociate trans people without having to face discrimination lawsuits, brought on by their own ignorance and stupidity.

overglorifying my accomplishments is the best way to demonstrate to the world that trans people are not mentally ill or incompetent, but are people with just as much ambition and dedication to maximizing their potential and embracing life.

regardless of what preconceived myths or prejudice people in the running community may have about trans people, showing up to your local community 5k race in a boston marathon jacket breeds instant respect.

elite athlete? hell no. but the most known and most respected athlete both in and out of the running community in st. john's? absolutely!

as a trans pioneer in newfoundland who has been so open about the process, i have been the catalyst for strong systemic change that have made it much easier for others to transition here in present day.

i'm gonna run a half marathon this sunday and i am gonna finish the race with a smile on my face. if this bothers you, then u are the one that needs to look in the mirror.

over and out

torontonorth said...

ok, i wasn't going to continue this, but it's so obvious you have missed the point, i tought i'd give it one more try..

first off, i do want to say sorry for some of my comments seeming harsh. it has nothing to do with you being trans, you have a very abrasive personality and style and that irks me. my bad. i am more accustomed to my own network of running friends who, like me, find more pleasure in quietly celebrating our successes, whether it be a 5k fun run, a marathon, an ultra, or an ironman. yes, we do it all, properly prepared and trained, and btw, a boston jacket is simply something you spend money on. boston is just another of the larger american marathons, set apart only by it's qualifying times, which, i still don't believe you legitimately met (the whole male/female thing - you were male when you ran your 'qualifiers', so you should have stayed in that category. yes. i have amused myself with your blog for a while, so i am well aware of how you spin things to suit your needs. again, i apologize for it now seems your need to be noticed signals a sadness in you. i do think you suffer from some issues that are not trans related at all, such as egotism and false sense of importance, but that is your challenge, isn't it. personally, i suspect your 'in your face' bravado does more to harm your trans world than help it. quit looking for discrimination in every glance or every word, maybe it is just you they don't like, not the trans person. give it some thought. i have a feeling i have grown bored with your same old, same old. have a good day.

Charis Maloy said...

Jennifer, run this race for you. For the knowledge that you can do it. You mention concern over weight issues. So run carefully so that you have less risk of further damage. I trust in your awareness of your own body that will tell you if your ankle can't handle this. I also trust that you value your body enough to listen to such signals from your body.
You have not run a distance event in 8 months. Psychlogically, you need this. Completing, even dead last, will help you overcome any lingering doubt as to your abilities in regards to your ankle. Should you need to stop in order to listen to the demands of your body, you will know better what you need to work on for next time. Listen well to your body, and there WILL be a next time.
I know that you are entering this, not to compete, but for the structure and challenge. Run well, be safe.

Jennifer McCreath said...

thanks everyone for the feedback. it's essential for me to gain a strong understanding of how i am perceived. yes, i understand i come accross paranoid and with a chip on my shoulder - but that seems to be the way i have been conditioned by a world that has often been harsh. i am so used to being overlooked and discriminated against, that i have no other choice but to prepare for it and to expect it. offline and in person, in the right setting and right context, i think you will find me to be very different than i appear on line.

i don't think i need to justify my boston qualifications. the boston athletic association runs the race. whether i met their guidelines or not may be questionable, but they are just that: guidelines. they reserve the right to offer race access to anyone they like; as well as deny access to the race to anyone they like. they felt i deserved to be there and that's the bottom line.

as tough as life may seem for me, i feel lucky to be on the upper end of the financial health of the trans community. most of us live below the poverty line and could never even dream of buying a pair of expensive running shoes, let alone travel to boston and all the other places i have ran. anyway, i'm up early and ready to run.... should be a great day!