On anxiety and running.

Hi, my name is Kenzie and I have pretty severe anxiety, I also like to run long distances.

I am also injured.

In the past few weeks I have had some pretty bad luck.  A car break in for the second time in a month, a lot of my gear stollen, school stressors, my car breaking down entirely… and an unresolved knee injury that is keeping me from being active.

Through all of this, it has made me realize how much a part of my anxiety management running has become.

I suffer from high functioning anxiety.  I can look very calm and collected on the outside, but for a few select people they know how bad I can get.  These people are pretty much just my parents.  I don’t really let a lot of people into this part of my world.  Growing up even the smallest of things could trigger these attacks, but as I have grown older I am slowly learning how to manage them myself.  Over the past few years (notably since I started running) I have noticed my stress and anxiety levels decreasing, to a point where almost nothing sets me off, aside from awkward social situations and the occasional scary car maneuver if I am a passenger.  I don’t use medications to manage my symptoms or attacks, I have managed to decrease them almost fully through long beautiful hours spent on the trails.

These past few weeks with everything noted above have been an incredible learning experience and eye opener for me.  I have been forced to rest, and deal with these problems head on instead of getting to run my worries away.  It has made me appreciate running and everything it has given me so much more and I will always cherish all of my days where I am able to be active and outside to the fullest.  The worst days out there will become the best days because even though I might be having a hard time, I will be able bodied and enjoying nature.

I have to say, though, even with my inability to melt the stress away in the forrest, I have handled these set backs fairly well.  No tears, no hiding away, no total melt downs.  I have accepted that things happen, there is nothing that I can do to change them and that there is always tomorrow, and tomorrow is a new day.

If anyone is struggling with anxiety, or depression please feel free to reach out to me.  I am here to lend an ear, a shoulder, distract you or give you as many hugs as you could ever need.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw

 

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Carkeek 12hr race report

I don’t even know where to start with this race.  Its such a great time.  Now, most people might be scared off from running a 1.93mile loop for 12 hours, but you shouldn’t knock it until you try it!  Now I am the girl that refuses to run races that are loops… but thats only if those loops are big loops.  I’m okay with the little ones.

Vancouver -> Seattle.  I drove down to Seattle after class on Friday.  Traffic was actually really great for once and I arrived at my friend Stuarts by a reasonable 8pm.  His roommates and him fed me a delicious dinner of soup and slaw, I got my things in order and headed off to sleep.  It was a pretty choppy sleep, but that is to be expected for me right before a race.

Race day!  

Stuarts house -> Carkeek park.  Luckily he lives 2.5 miles away from Carkeek!  It made it a nice and short drive there at 5:20am.  I followed him there, checked in, got changed into my costume and anxiously awaited the go command.  There I trod, off into the trails in the dark, as a train goes past, in a long blonde wig, fishnets and a jean jacket.  Half way through that lap I am united with Gretchen in her bacon/angel/bunny costume (what?) and enjoy a loop with her and Kim.  Stuart is waiting at the start and gives me a big high five before we start off on lap 2.  I stayed with the girls through this lap as well, it was a great way to start the day in the dark on the new to me trails.

After a couple laps the sun began to rise, and the rain began to pick up.  I was still running in the full costume, waiting until Glen was out to take photos.  Eventually he was out and snapped some photos and I then removed most of the costume after about 20km.  I have to say fishnets and jean jackets aren’t the most comfortable thing to be running in.  I’m by myself at this point, listening to podcasts and happily plodding around in the forest.  The loops aren’t bad they are hilly and technical enough to be engaging.

Robin Sparkles – Photo by Glen Tachiyama


Around 27km my knee started to hurt.  I’ve been having tracking issues with my knee cap and while its getting better its still hurting after a bit of distance.  So from then on I was reduced to a walk.  This was hard for me.  I had an insane amount of energy in the tank, everything else on me felt really great but this tiny 2 inch section below my knee was excruciating if I tried to run.  So I trudged on, staying out of pain as per my coach and physiotherapists request.  I took every slow step and agonizing mental pain as training for longer distances where its a such a mental battle.  At some point Stuart and his girlfriend came and dropped me off medical tape, doughnuts and a large peppermint tea.  I definitely did a loop while drinking the tea, it was glorious.

Soggy wet on loop… who knows!


After 15 loops of the 1.93 mile course, I was almost ready to call it quits because of my knee, the rolling of the course made it really hard to continue due to pain.  I was happy with that distance I had gone, but then decided to hop onto the short one with a bit of gentle coaxing from Matt.  I believe it was .58 miles.  I’m happy I did this because it put me over my goal of completing my 4th 50km.  The short course pretty much just went straight up and down, but since it kind of had stairs on the descent it was easy for me to descend without pain… because of this I ended up doing 7 little loops, and 15 big loops.

This race is special.  Matt and Kerri are amazing, and their races are fundraisers for the trails.  They have a low key atmosphere, potluck aid stations (the best) and the laps are kept of by stickers on bright colourful poster board.  They’ll encourage you to keep going, but be understanding when you want to stop.
The bibs are decorated by hand, the raffle prizes are funny (I won a copy of beetlejuice) and the metal is a ring pop on a piece of plastic string.  It is because of these special little things that I will keep on coming back to this event and any other that I can in the future.  I am excited to see what I can do next year with a healthy body.

Hand decorated bibs and ring pop medal!


Carkeek 12hr definitely gets a 10/10 in my books.

A total of 53.53km and an elevation gain of 2222m.  I am extremely proud of myself for getting this far with how I’ve been feeling the weeks leading up with all of the knee issues.   I am realizing now I pushed myself a bit over the edge for completing that distance, but I am optimistic in my recovery process because I have a great team standing behind me.  The way the rest of my body and mind felt during this run makes me less worried about my 100k other than the knee things.  However, I will be off running until the 16th of November, but it gives me time to decrease inflammation and start incorporating more focused strength training to help the muscle imbalances in my right leg.

Next up…

Black Canyon as I had to drop Deception Pass due to my knee. Fingers are crossed I can rehab it in time!!!

 

 

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Week 5/6

Late to the game as we’re half way through week 7, but week 5 was business as usual and week 6 was a taper into my October race Carkeek 12hr.  It was glorious.  Watch this space for my race report!  I’ll be putting it up very very soon, I just need to get some more photos in order!

 

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Week three/four

These two weeks posed some challenges for me, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and I believe that with ultra running our ability to let go and realize we need rest makes us stronger in the long run because it is such a mental sport.

Week three

Monday – Rest as usual.

Tuesday – Strength, my last day at crossfit.  Bitter sweet, I’ll miss walking into the box and seeing all my lovely 6am people!  I’ll be back one day, but I just don’t need the membership with coaching.

Wednesday – My long run this week consisted of sun showers, rainbows, three adorable dogs and a stunning fall day.  Zone training makes me laugh sometimes.  Especially when I accidentally end up at a hill but am supposed to be in zone 2.  I just picture what people would think if they saw me barely shuffling up the hill, which totally doesn’t matter because I don’t care what people think… but it must be funny!  I think I’m already seeing value in this style of training though.  I’m happily running up hills for up to 15 minutes at a time, and my flat pace is getting consistently faster.  This day I was out for 4:40, went just over a half marathon distance.  So, a fairly slow pace but when you are playing in different zones for specific amounts of time it takes a bit longer to go as far!  I started having some issues with my right knee, but am seeing a physiotherapist to get it sorted.  I believe the tracking is just off for my patella… it happened when I was 20, but hasn’t been bugging me for 7 years.  Of course as soon as I start getting serious into my training, even though I haven’t increased volume and have actually decreased intensity it has started to bug me.  Damn you knees.

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My puppy crew.

Thursday – Hill repeats into tempo… I think I made it to 4 reps before my knee started to kill and then tried for the tempo… it didn’t work, I ended up limping back to my car and calling it quits.  I also went to physio at Squamish Integrated where Will did all sorts of fun assessments on my legs.  We came to the conclusion that my posterior chain is tight tight tight, and while my legs are both strong, my right side where the pain is happening is weaker.  He gave me some exercises and pretty much said he wasn’t too worried.  We caught it early enough.

Zen looking majestic in the fall colours.

Friday – Strength day, at a new gym.  I’m now going to Mountain Fitness because they have a wicked student deal.  Its a bizarre world outside of a crossfit box, this was so uncomfortable for me.  I did my training at 5:30am, headed to school for the morning and then was met by Dave and Dianna to head south to Yachats for the Rainshadow Running Oregon Coast 50/30km trail races.  It was a long drive, but the company was great.  We picked up Sawna in Portland and checked into the hotel in Yachats around midnight.

Saturday – I was supposed to do a mellow run to shake out the legs and see how my knee felt.  I ended up doing timing all day, and then was asked to sweep part of the 30k course on the Sunday so skipped my run.  It was really awesome to be at a finish line and see all the amazing runners come through.  It just made me love this community so much more.  It was also Coltons birthday so we had a little party for him which was great.

Looking North at the Coast

What a scenic finish line.  Oregon Coast 50/30k

Sunday – Swept a 11km loop of the Oregon Coast 30k course.  It was AMAZING, such a beautiful trail.  Really runable, super green and I had pretty great company.  My knee didn’t hurt at all and I felt like I was flying in some sections which makes me excited to see how far I’ll come.

Sweeping views.

People and material sweeping.  Thankful for not a ton of signage.

Week four

Monday – Drive home from Yachats, its long.  Luckily no programming so its my rest day.

Our welcome home sunset.

Tuesday – Strength of course.  I skipped it in the morning, and I knew in the back of my head that I would have little to no motivation to get it done in the evening after massaging all day.  I know for the future so always force myself out of bed.  Anyways, I went and was slightly more comfortable at the gym.  I’ll learn to love it slowly but surely.

Wednesday – I went swimming.  I am not good at swimming.  Good thing I am a runner and not a swimmer or triathlete.

Thurdsay – 2hr run.  I went on the trails behind my house in Valleycliff.  I had requests by some people to take photos of the barbies nailed to trees up there.  Lets just say its not the best place to be starting off your run when you’re supposed to be in zone 2.  I also lucked out and managed to go out in a rainless patch during the day.  My knee didn’t hurt, I had two dogs with me and the trails were stunning.  I was stoked.

New hat matches my vest! By accident.

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One of the barbies.

Beautiful fall colours.

Friday – Strength.  I found the oly platform and I think it will be my little zone of solace.  I am excited because no one seems to use it.  Free weights? What are those?!  I’m not complaining though, more fun lifts for me!  I also totally rocked a practical exam today.

My happy corner.

Saturday – Rainy rest day.

Sunday – Bike ride!

Thats month one done!! Just over 4 months to go! Eeeek!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been asked why I run a couple times.  I think I’ll write a post in the next few days dedicated to that.

I am fundraising for Squamish SAR, the link to donate is under the fundraising tab.

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Week two.

I’m not going to write much about this past week of training, because it was a small one.  I ended up heading to Bend, Oregon to be a part of my beautiful friend Ashlai’s wedding.  What a beautiful bride.

On my way down to Oregon I stopped in Seattle where my new friend Stuart (met at Volcanic 50) took me in for the evening… Thanks again!! The next morning I woke up bright and early and headed south.  I had suggestions from a few friends to run the Eagle Creek trail out to Tunnel Falls.  I was only slated to run for 2hrs, and at nearly 19km round trip that would put me over the 2 hours of programmed running.  I absolutely love waterfalls though, so I was “bad” and went over by about 45 minutes.  This trail is stunning, it is really unable with so many beautiful waterfalls along the way.  Makes it hard to go fast because you’re always taking photos!  It was a perfect way to break up this long drive!

The next morning in Bend, I ran from my new friend Monica’s place and did some speed work.  In typical trail running fashion I migrated from the road onto a gravel trail I found as soon as it came across my path.  Later that evening was the bachelorette party.  I won’t dive into details about that, but lets just say I won’t be drinking for a while.

Day 3 in Bend, hung over, I took Ashlai’s dog out for a recovery wander in zone 1, tied up some lose ends and went for a couple coffee outings.

Day 4… wedding day!! Not much to say other than these two are the best and I love them to pieces.  I didn’t drink and just enjoyed all the shenanigans while level headed.

Day 5 = time to drive back to Canada.  I did the push from Bend to Vancouver, BC in one push with a stop in Bellingham to do another recovery zone 1 wander.  Big thanks to Riccardo who once again took this weary wanderer in for the evening, and a shout out to his new lady Kat who is super lovely… it was nice to meet you.🙂

Day 6… school, studying, life things and rest.

I’ve decided I will start my weeks on the normal day of Mondays from now on instead of randomly midweek.

And, thats it thats all.

Next week will be a bit more eventful because training ramps up, and then I will be heading to Yachats for the Rainshadow Running Oregon Coast 50&30k races.  If you are there, on Saturday I will be at the finish line doing timing, and Sunday I will be selling merch.  Come say hi!!

Once again I’d like to mention that I am fundraising for Squamish Search and Rescue.  Please donate a couple bucks if you have the means too.😀

 

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Week one.

Tonight concludes my first week of official training for Black Canyon and though I was initially intimidated it was pleasantly perfect.  Training wise, not day to day life wise.  I’m going to try and recount the week without giving too many specifics on my training plan, without making it way to vague. 😜

Day one – Into the gym, which isn’t new for me.  I really love lifting.  I really believe that strength training is an incredibly important aspect of running.

Day two – A variation of hills followed by some easy running.  Lara joined me to try and keep me from running faster.  I’m working on zone training so she was my “pacer” to keep me slow!  It was great, even if I felt silly about how slow I was moving.  I also had my friend Dylans dog with me which was great.

Day three – Bike ride!! I just got a new bike, so anytime I get to ride it makes me really happy.  I was sweeping for the Bell Joyride ride.  It started off with a talk at Tantalus Bike Shop about suspension set up, and then progressed onto the trails.  Our group rode up Panda climb, to Half Nelson and then finished with Pseudotsuga and onwards to the pub for nachos and beer.  It was amazing being surrounded by a group of rad ladies for this fun ride!

Day four – rest rest rest.  Except, it wasn’t very restful because someone broke into my car while I was at school.  They smashed my back side window and rummaged through my things.  I should keep my car cleaner, but in all honesty I didn’t think that garbage and running clothing were that inciting.  They didn’t take anything, but I had to replace the window which isn’t great on a student budget.

Day five – Strength and speed.  Time to get fast. Lara also joined me for this because she’s the best.  It makes speed work fun if you have someone to do it with!  I’m optimistic about getting faster, I think its time.

Day six – A long run, which turned into a weird outing.  I had to drop my car off to get fixed, so I figured I would run from the mechanic, up the dirt road between the golf course and Quest, upwards to the Legacy climb and then back down.  While I was going up the dirt road though some guys kind of followed along with me and gave me the creeps massively.  I turned around and ran out super fast after the 3rd time I saw them and then Lara picked me up and took me to the end of Perth where I continued my run into the Alice Lake area.  I was playing in zones, it was interesting.  After I emerged from the trails I went to Capra to visit Solana, and then continued back to pick up my car.

On this run, I actually ate which is great!  I’ve set my watch to do 30 minute interval beeps so I remember to eat every 30 minutes.  I think it’ll be like Pavlov’s dogs eventually where every time I hear the beep I’ll start immediately wanting food.

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I’m proud of this HR graph because it shows I was sticking close to my target!

Day seven – Hill repeats!! I guess I had never done hill repeats properly before.  These were weirdly fun, but also really tiring.  I’m really excited for how strong I feel like I’m going to get off this coaching.  I went out near the Mamquam river hydro plant.  I enjoyed myself and my day of procrastination leant its hand to a beautiful dusk temperature.

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I think its about time to retire my Altra Lone Peak 2.0 from trail, they are my second Altras ever and I LOVE them. They were with me for my very first 50.😥

Now to repeat!

On a different note I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped me out with my MS fundraiser, my goal was $450 and I raised $655 with your help!

For Black Canyon I am moving my fundraising goals over to support Squamish Search and Rescue which I think as a trail runner and other recreational user is a really important cause.  Help our amazing volunteers have more resources to support us in the need of rescue.  The link is in my fundraiser tab above.🙂

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Howe Sound Crest Trail! The 30km that takes longer than a 50km.

Okay, so I had written out a huge blog post and then my computer decided the internet wasn’t good enough to save anything.  So here we go… round two.

In the spring my beautiful friend Nadine (who makes really rad leggings) introduced me to a girl named Lara who was training for her first 50km!  The rest is really history.  Lara is now one of my best friends and now my favourite person to adventure with.  She has been dubbed my run bestie and is the most supportive, positive, forcer of eating food I have ever met.  When I first told her about my goal to run a 100km, her first response was, “DO YOU NEED A PACER?!?! I’LL BE YOUR PACER!!”  Oh course I said yes!

In the spring Lara suffered a pretty terrible ankle sprain which doused her plan of running the HSCT for her birthday, but it didn’t stop her from rocking it out, recovering strong and running her first 50km.  I was really stoked to be at the finish line for her coming through. It made me heart feel so full.

She also since being recovered had tried to find a partner for the HSCT on more than one occasion, but you know… life happens.  After so many failed attempts, I knew that if I had the opportunity to step in and be the partner she needed then I totally would.  After all, she’s flying to Arizona to run with me!  Even though I was only going to be 10 days out from Volcanic 50, on dead legs I decided to be that company.  I don’t regret it one bit.

So this finds us prepping our required supplies on Tuesday night. Approximately 13hrs worth of nutrition, a first aid kit, water filter, emergency bivys, extra clothing, headlamps, a knife, fire supplies, sunscreen, the works.  Laughing and getting really excited about the day to come the next day.

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Wednesday, 5am my alarm goes off.  I instantly text her.  I can tell through the text that theres so much excitement.  I gather my last things and head out the door to meet her and her wonderful husband at Porteau.  He woke up super early, just to drive us to Cypress so we could be spared the headache of shuttling cars.  How great is that?!  EVAN YOU ROCK!

We get to the parking lot just before 7, and head out on our way.  I am nervous because I remember hating the first climb.  It takes me about an hour to be sufficiently warm, and at that point we are nearly at the first summit.  We hit the summit of St Marks, giggle a whole lot, eat some food, take some selfies, bounce around and then head out on our way.

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Bright eyed and bushy tailed at 7am

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St Marks Summit views

Next up.. Unecessary and all of its damn false summits.. “OH WE’RE AT THE TOP” “OH JK, WE’RE NOT EVEN CLOSE”

 

Up next… the Lions.  Lara had told me that she was scared of the section where you traverse between the two mountains but she definitely handled it like a rock star this time around.

Then after a boulder filled descent, comes my most despised part of this trail.  The relentless, scrambly, steep ascent of James peak, the rope traverse in between the sub summits and then a descent down into a small meadow, which I’ve been lucky to use as a water source twice now.  The water here is sometimes dried up though, so it isn’t a reliable source.  On the way off James peak we found a bunch of garbage, at first it was just a couple pieces scattered around but as we went down the trail it was a collection of gel wrappers, mountain house dried meal bag, used antiseptic wipes, baby food pouch and a bag of grapes.  We were disappointed, but collected it all and packed it out.  COME ON TRAIL USERS, WE’RE NOT YOUR #@*%ING PARENTS PAY A LITTLE MORE ATTENTION TO YOUR KIT.  We all need to do our part to keep our wild spaces wild, and practicing no trace is super important.  I hike out a lot of garbage on my runs, and it makes me pretty sad that some people are clueless enough to let this happen.  We decided that this was likely a mistake rather than intentional, but still… pay more attention to your zippers, store your garbage more securely.

If you read this… and you recognize this garbage… you are welcome, Lara and I hiked it out.  We carried your disgusting antiseptic wipes out, and I got your fermented grape juice all over me while running.  Thanks!

Now, we climb up, up and away over David Peak, the last big climb of the day.  The views from the top are stunning, we sign the register and zip down the fun descent with lots of ropes and technical bits and head over to Magnesia Meadows. Another water stop, a buff dump and a soak the singlet break there and we continue on our way.  The second half of the trail ends up having similar amounts of giggles, more photos, some T Swift and the theme is fun loamy descents, beautiful lakes and stunning mountains.

After Deeks Lake… the descent… Oh jeez, talk about quad burning.  With 4km left to the parking lot I definitely wanted nothing to do with that downhill.  At that point it juts out onto an old logging road and my brain lost interest on being there.  All the stunning views were behind us, and all that was up front was tired legs.  Except, that wasn’t true… in the car we had cider, chips and watermelon waiting for us!! My legs decided to push through just a bit further.  Then, with 800m left we feel the cider calling us more and zip out of the trail head to the car, where a bunch of construction workers cheered us in.  It was really great.  We laid by the car, drank our recovery drinks like good girls, ripped open the bag of chips, tore off our shoes and then cracked our celebration ciders.

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All done!

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Sometimes parking lot “naps” are a must.

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Lara being all cute and stuff with her cider.

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The best tan is a dirt tan

Thats all she wrote!  Afterwards we popped by Porteau cove to put our feet in the water but the tide was too high, so drank cider by the ocean and then headed to the brewpub to eat.

I highly recommend this trail to people who are prepared to do it.  Its not a walk in the park, its an extremely technical trail, with limited water sources and bail out points.  I’ve learnt from experience that the bail outs on this trail are worse than finishing for the most part.  The trail gains nearly 1700m of elevation in the first 15km and then drops nearly 2600m throughout the whole thing  Its important that you take everything you may need to survive for a night or two if you get lost, and always take a buddy… also pack out everything you bring in!!  And, if you see other peoples garbage, do everyone a favour and pick it up.  We can all do our part to keep our parks pristine.

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On another note, today was the first day of coached training for my 100km!  I’m being coached by Jen Segger who is a total badass and I am excited to be working with her.

I’ll report back at the end of the week to see how week 1 of directed training goes.

xoxo

-Kenz

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