Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Dear Renee

Dear Renee,

Today Paula, Lori and I went to the gym while you were at work. We ran side by side on the treadmills, reading the closed captions of Live! With Kelly and Michael while you sat at your desk, working hard and wishing you were with us. Or maybe you're just laughing at us behind our backs while you eat popcorn with your feet up on your desk.

We thought of you often as we ran, wondering why we were here and you were not when this whole thing was your idea. We questioned why we were at the gym for the fourth day in a row, working harder than we ever did when we were running three times a week outside. We praised your ability to motivate us to be here day after day while you send us updates on your new Garmin monkey Todd and his banana addiction.

We tried to make you proud. I ran my first 5k since the stress fracture. Lori has been running 10k a day. Paula has added biking to her routine. Oh, and I can't forget the weight training.



We hope you had a good day without us and that you didn't miss us too much. We did miss you but we know that before too long you'll be back with us, running side by side, trying to get that PB for Todd and feeling like death when we're all done.


Oh, and by the way, you may not have noticed, but we have not had a post workout tea break since this whole gym thing started. That was one of the deciding factors of joining a gym. So you owe us big time.

See you in the New Year,

Your Bestest Running Gym Buddies.





Sunday, 20 December 2015

Spider Pig

Eight weeks.

I haven't been running in eight weeks and truthfully, I haven't missed it one little bit. I could so very easily give it all up and forget that I ever decided I wanted to learn to run.

Except for the fact that I'm registered for a half marathon. And I convinced Renee, Lori and Paula to register as well. If I give up now I might as well enter the witness protection program.

The results of my x-ray were inconclusive. No stress fracture could be seen, but as I have learned, x-rays aren't the best option where stress fractures are concerned. It is however, awesome at letting you know that plantar fasciitis may rear its pain filled head at some point in the future.

Since the x-ray wasn't of much use, my GP suggested I have a bone density scan. I signed up and had my appointment three weeks later.

Fortunately, I don't have a lot of experience with hospital procedures which is probably a good thing since hospitals have the ability to make me pass out. I don't know why, but every time I sit in a hospital waiting room, it gets unbearable warm and I have the uncontrollable urge to lie down on the cold tile floor to prevent myself from collapsing into a heap of uselessness. Giving blood and have injections also have this same effect.

So while I lay on the x-ray table, feeling the cold alcohol wipe run across the back of my hand, I tried to focus on something other than the fact that the last time I had a needle stuck in my body, I passed out. The cute animal pictures on the ceiling weren't helping so I put all my concentration into getting as much oxygen into my body as possible, taking big deep breaths, trying to not let the technician know that I was a basket case.

It must have worked because I didn't even feel the jab and the technician didn't waver in her explanation of what was involved in a bone density scan.

Right now I was being injected with a small amount of radioactive material - the same amount I would be exposed to during a regular x-ray. I can't really comment on what she said after this point because my brain was now singing the Spider-Man theme song.

"Is he strong? Listen bud, He's got radioactive blood.
Da da da, dum dum dum, something, something that rhymes with blood.
Hey there, there goes the Spider Pig!
Can he swing from a web, no he can't he's a pig..."

I apologize to all the Spider-Man fans out there. I really know nothing about the guy. I am, however, more familiar with the Spider-Pig. For those of you who aren't, here is a short video.


But I digress.

Results of the bone scan didn't show any break or fracture but it did show that there had been some sort of inflammation in the area that had been causing pain. Everything looked good now though so my GP gave me the all clear to go for a short, slow run.

Yay.

Motivating myself to go out in the cold to start running again proved to be no easy task so when Renee suggested we join a gym I jumped at the idea. Well, not really jumped. It was more like resigning myself to the fact that it was time to get off my butt and get back at it.

Five days before Christmas we had our first visit to the gym. I headed straight to the treadmills determined to get my first run done and prove to myself I could still do this. Renee hopped on the machine next to me and we started out at a brisk walk for half a kilometer. The goal was to start running at this point. As we neared the 1/2 k mark, I started to feel scared. What if I started running and felt the pain in my foot again? What if all my cardio was back to square one? What if I couldn't do this anymore?

With Renee cheering me on, I started to run. It was slow and short like my GP recommended but I did it. There was no pain and I could still talk to Renee as we trotted along side by side. I'd say Day One was a success and I'm actually looking forward to Day Two.

Maybe this won't be so bad after all.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Boot

Renee is going to have a field day with this.






I'm sure I can hear her laughing all the way from town, shouting "Karma!!!" from the top of her lungs as she does a hip hop routine she choreographed in my honor.

How did I get to this point? Come, sit a while and let me tell you my tale.

About a week ago, I noticed a slight pain near the top of my foot after a long day of standing while at work. I brushed it off as a side effect of the work day.

The rest of the week went the same - foot pain in the evening after being on my feet all day. Still nothing to be alarmed by, or so I thought. I kept up the running because my foot felt much better when I was wearing my amazing Saucony's.

Enter the weekend. The pain started showing up earlier in the day and by Monday morning, it was there from the minute I woke up. I had visions of what was coming. Stress fracture. The boot. No running. Renee giggling.

But maybe, just maybe, I was over reacting.

I managed to get in to see my Doctor that day. "Looks like a stress fracture."

Balls.

My GP is also a runner so he is quite familiar with the entire process. He told me I would have to take a break from running for a while.

I had mixed emotions at this news. On one hand, I was planning on taking a break anyway since my vacation time is just around the corner. On the other hand, my vacation is just around the corner and I don't want to be propped up at the bar watching Todd dance like a lawnmower instead of being out on the dance floor myself. However, now I don't have to pack any running gear. But I may have to wear a boot in the hot tub.

Since I'd had the pain for a couple of weeks, the Doc figured I might benefit from an x-ray. Apparently stress fractures only show up on an x-ray once they begin to heal. He also mentioned that a bone density test might be in order. Fun times.





I had some time to think as I sat in the waiting room. A stress fracture. Me. How is that even possible?? Don't you have to run hard and often to end up with one of those? I drink tea and walk half the time.

And what will this mean for my half marathon training? Just how long will it take to fully heal? I have to be able to train. I already bought a thirteen one t-shirt from Road ID.

I decided to ask the internet. According to most (somewhat reputable) sites it can take anywhere from six to eight weeks to fully heal. That will take me to the end of the year. That still leaves me plenty of time to train, but I'll be starting from scratch, learning to run all over again. I wonder if there are any training programs that involve sitting down for two months?

The staff at x-ray were very efficient and I was in and out of the hospital in less than an hour, almost without my pants. The technician who took my scans commented on how much she liked them and told me she tried to by the same pair last week but didn't have any luck. I think she was considering asking me to change into a hospital gown.

It will take a week or more to get the results of the x-ray. I was feeling in limbo about what I should do in the meantime. My foot was aching and I just wanted it to be fixed. Sugar suggested I get a boot and start wearing it now to get a jump start on the healing process. I think Renee has been texting him.

I went online to the ultimate source of running knowledge, the PRC Facebook group. Finding a boot was proving difficult until the Awesome Ed Long offered me the use of his, delivery included.

Now I'm clomping around the house like a bowl legged member of the walking dead, but at least my foot isn't hurting. I'll miss the group run tonight and every night for the next few weeks. That makes me sad but I know it has to be done. I have to take care of myself so I can get back to walking/running and drinking tea with my peeps.

My blogs may be fewer and farther between, but I'll still be here. I somehow have the feeling that not running won't make any difference when it comes to my running adventures.  ;)


Monday, 12 October 2015

10 Kilometers and a Nap

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time to think about all the blessing in your life, the people you hold dear, the food you are going to eat with reckless abandon and for runners, the possibility of getting a personal best at the Turkey Tea 10 km Road Race. Or in my case, the possibility of staying in a warm truck and driving to finish line.

The thought did cross my mind as we waited at the start line. I could get back in my vehicle and drive to Tim Horton's for a hot beverage. I could easily convince Renee to come with me. We could finish our nap.




There was just one thing that prevented me from hopping in the truck and driving away like Mario Andretti in the Batmobile. The person sitting in the back of my vehicle, staring at the start line, looking like she's about to toss her cookies is Paula.

Paula is fairly new to PRC. I knew she would fit right in when she posted after one week of running with us: "Saturdays are my favourite..... And it has nothing to do with the raisin tea bun at coffee matters either". Friend request sent.

The Turkey Tea was Paula's second 10 km race. On her first 10 km race she ran 10 and 1's but this time she was determined to run the whole distance without any walk breaks. She was obviously nervous and there was no way I could leave her to run alone. Puking on the side of the road is bad enough. Doing it without any support is unbearable.

So when the whistle blew to mark the start of the race, I was there, knowing that I was only 10 kilometers away from tea and cinnamon buns.

The first few kilometers went by in relative silence. There were comments on how much hills suck and how we were so cold we couldn't feel our fingers. By the half way point things had improved. The sun was up and we were starting to feel too warm. Gloves came off. We waved like the Queen as we ran through intersections full of cars who had stopped to let us pass. Renee was doing jet├ęs.

I think it was near the 7 km mark when I mentioned that the distance left was roughly the same as a run around Neil's Pond in Paradise. Paula, who had been concentrating fiercely on finishing her run, finally realized how awesome she is and stated "I can do this!"

As each kilometer passed, Renee equated the remaining distance to landmarks along our usual running route. Then the bright orange pylons that indicated which direction we had to go to get cake came in to sight. The PRC cheerleaders were on the corner, drinking coffee.

We started together and crossed the finish line together. Renee and Paula both had a personal best and I had a great run with my running buddies. Paula sent me a very sweet message later that day thanking me for all the help and encouragement I had given her on the run. It made me glad that I didn't leave her alone at the start line.

Our finish line picture is now NL Running's Facebook cover photo. That means we are awesome. I love the look on Paula's face - she's looking up at the clock and fist bumping the air with happiness. I also love that Renee looks like she's about to go back and finish our nap.

We celebrated with tea and various treats provided by NWRC (New World Running Club) and all three of us won a prize. It was a great way to end the racing season and a wonderful reminder of how much better racing is when you don't do it alone. It's just one more thing to be thankful for.



Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Dread Pirate Roberts


We all have that one movie that sits firmly at the top of our favorites list. You've seen it a hundred times. You can quote 90% of the script by heart. You force your friends and kids to watch it. You own the VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray, not to mention the t-shirt, mug and board game. 

For me, this movie is The Princess Bride so it was an obvious choice to use The Dread Pirate Roberts as my pirate name when I registered for the pirate-themed 2016 Maritime Race Weekend half marathon.



Yes, you read that correctly. I, the ten-is-the-most-I'll-ever-race-yes-I'm-serious-no-I-won't-change-my-mind reluctant racer, have registered for a half marathon.

I really never thought that I would ever want to run a half marathon. EVER. I mean who in their right mind wants to run 21.1 kms? That means running for two and a half hours! Why would I ever consider doing that?

Yet, here I am, registered.

I guess it's because things have improved for me on the running scene this past year. No, I haven't gotten any faster. No, it hasn't gotten any easier. But I made a few changes that made running more enjoyable which means the longer distances are no longer something only to be observed from the side lines. 

Plus there are about 40 PRCers going and there's a huge party afterwards that I don't want to miss. 

According to the race website, maritimeraceweekend.com, there is a massive Pirate Jamboree post race which includes music, food and libations. Everyone will be dressed like a pirate. That's exactly how I want to celebrate my first half marathon. 

It's also two days before International Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19, 2016) so fingers crossed the pirate attitude will carry over to Sunday's flight home.

The race was the primary topic of conversation at the Thursday evening run. Sporting our new Biped running shirts, it took me all of five seconds to convince Renee that she was going to do the half as well. We discussed what our training plan should be and both agreed that following the typical training plans just wouldn't work for us. Running five days a week? Not happening. Fartleks? Umm, no. Tempo runs? Very funny.

We decided on a plan that has mostly 5 K runs with a long run every second weekend, with the scatter 8 K thrown in for good measure. There are more rest days than run days. The most important part of the plan would be having tea post run. And maybe a doughnut. Or McDonald's.

I know this probably isn't the best way to train for a half marathon but it's what will work for me. If I have to run five days a week, do tempo runs, hill training, fartleks, cross training and strength training all while still trying to have some sort of a normal home life, I'll quit before the first week is out. 

The goal is to cross the finish line. I won't be at my peak physically and I won't be breaking any records. At the end of the day I will have a half marathon PB and the time it takes doesn't matter. The course is open for 6 hours and I'm sure I can make it across the finish line before the last ambulance does. That is if I don't get sidetracked by eating the candy and relaxing in the Adirondack chairs that are available along the route.

I just have to figure out how to carry all the Rice Krispie cookies I'll need for that distance. But there's plenty of time for that. 

In the mean time, I think I'll watch a movie. In case you're wondering, The Princess Bride is On Demand. Inconceivable!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Me and My Peeps

5:00 am - The only reason anyone should be up at this time of day is if they are on their way to the airport for a vacation down south.

Yet, here I am, in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning, up and ready to go running.

A normal person would be sleeping in until about ten before pulling on a pair of fleecy pants and slowly heading to the kitchen to have a cup of tea and enjoy a breakfast of eggs and bacon. Me, I'm scarfing down a banana with a Gatorade chaser.

A normal person would look at the notification of a frost warning and pull that comfy blanket a little closer as they cuddle on the sofa with their spouse or pet. I'm trying to decide if I can get away with wearing just one layer out in the -2 temps.

It's Huffin Puffin day and as I do every time race day arrives, I question my sanity. Why am I doing this? Why did I pay good money to get up in the dark and stand outside in the cold? What possessed me to want to do another race? Am I turning into a race addict?

It is at this point that I have to remind myself that if I didn't run this race, I'd end up feeling disappointed that I missed out on a great experience with my PRC family. This is probably the main reason I race. That and the free t-shirt. And the post race BBQ. And Renee said I had to.

I continually reminded myself of these things as I stood at the start of leg 2, wrapped up in my snowflake blanket, wearing my Peep Buff, waiting for Renee to come into sight. What's a Peep Buff? This highly attractive, handmade piece of finery:




Sticking with the PRC yellow, we brilliantly decided to call our relay team the PRC Peeps. For those of you who would like to know how to make your own Buff, all you have to do is cut a sleeve off an old shirt and put it on your head. I highly recommend removing the Buff from your forehead before using a permanent marker to draw the eyes.

Back to the race. Renee got to the relay point at about 8:24 am and put me out of my freezing misery. I ran fairly fast starting out (for me) in an attempt to bring my body temp back up to a level where a pulse could be detected. Maybe it was the cold (it was definitely the cold) but my pace didn't drop a whole lot for the entire race. As long as I was running, I was staying warm. If I ran a little faster, I could get closer to the heated seats of my vehicle more quickly.

Around kilometer seven in the midst of the hills, I decided it would be okay to slow down just a little. I could feel my toes again and my fingers were no longer numb. Then just ahead of me I saw the familiar yellow shirt of M.E.P.C (Marathoner Extraordinaire Pam Collins). She seemed to be struggling a little on this her second marathon which meant I had to try and catch up to her and make sure she was doing okay. Never mind that her pace starts with a five and mine starts with a seven. Never mind that she was about half a kilometer ahead of me at the top of a hill. Somewhere in my hypothermic brain I figured I could catch her before I reached the finish line.

As luck would have it, she stopped for a pep talk from fellow PRCer Joyce and that gave me the edge I needed to catch up. She wasn't having a good run and was doubting if she could finish the race. I offered her the only solution I knew of - one of my Rice Krispie cookies. She ate it and ended up not only finishing her race, but passing several people along the way. Moral of the story - eat cookies, finish a marathon.

I made it to the finish line in about an hour and ten minutes and handed the relay band to Wendy. It wasn't until I was on the way home that I had a chance to look at my pace info. Actually I probably wouldn't have looked at all (because I really don't care), but Sugar asked about my time. My average pace for the race was 6:52 with kilometer times varying between 6:32 and 7:15. I'm pretty impressed with that. It's a great reminder that I can actually do this when I put my mind to it. Or at least when the temperature drops below zero.

It took us about five hours altogether, but the Peeps finished the relay. We placed 78th out of 90 teams. Rockstars.




We were at the finish line when the last of the PRC Marathoners crossed. You forget how cold you are when you see someone you know crossing the marathon finish line for the first time, tears of joy and proud accomplishment written all over their faces. It almost makes you want to go out and register for one yourself. Almost. Not really.

But it does make me think about registering for the next race on the calendar, the Turkey Tea. I'm sure in a couple of weeks time, on Thanksgiving Sunday, I'll be questioning my sanity yet again and trying hard to remember how awesome it will be when it's all over.

I can be a normal person on Monday instead.



Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Not So Serious Training

It's been a crappy running week.

I don't mean that the running has been awful, just that there hasn't really been any running. Not since Renee's impromptu visit to the ER.

Last Tuesday it was raining and we all know that Sugar doesn't run in the rain, which means I also don't run. Sugar did do a stint on the treadmill though and guilted me into going on the recumbent bike to keep him company. I also don't love the bike but at least I can sit there with my tablet watching Scott and Bailey on Netflix while giving the impression of working out.

I missed Thursday night's group run because of the kid's curriculum night at school. Having to do anything kid related gets you an automatic pass on running activities. Not sure if you all knew that but it's true. It one of the benefits of having little people in your home. You can blame just about anything on them and no one questions your sincerity.

Then the Saturday morning run was preempted by a Friday night open bar wedding complete with fries, dressing and gravy at midnight. I don't think I need to elaborate on this one.

By this point I was starting to feel guilty about not running. Or more accurately, about eating and drinking like I was on vacation and doing nothing to counteract the calories. I sent Renee a message and suggested we go for a run Sunday afternoon when we were finished marshaling at the Terry Fox Run. She agreed, as long as it was 5k. Sounded perfect.

On Sunday, Renee showed up at the TFR in her running gear, ready to go for a run as soon as we were done. I showed up in jeans and a t-shirt. Somewhere in my brain I had thought it made sense to go home and change instead of being ready to go straight after marshaling. We had a discussion and we* decided that we would wait and run on Monday instead.

Monday it was raining. A lot. I was helping out at Renee's place of business in the morning and I think the first two sentences we spoke to each other were, "It's raining - we're not running in this are we?" and "Not a chance."

Apparently "Not a chance" = "Definitely".

Since there were only three more group runs before the Huffin Puffin and we still hadn't run the route for the second leg of the relay, we decided that tonight was the night.

I met Renee at the Boulevard just after 5pm. I had my reflective arm bands, G2, Rice Krispies and my mind prepped for the Mount Everest incline towards Bowering Park.

A little side story before I continue. On Sunday, Renee and her daughter gave me a little present when they arrived at the Terry Fox Run.




Funny, yet awesome.

I was particularly happy to have these on Monday evening when I discovered that the homemade versions I had made had mysteriously disappeared. Sugar suggested that in future I should bag them and hide them where he couldn't find them.

Back to the run.

As usual, we made a couple stops for photo ops along the way.

 
             

We also decided to take a shopping break at Biped. This obviously wasn't well thought out. Running up Waterford Bridge Road carrying shopping bags isn't exactly ideal. But we got the shirts we wanted so we didn't mind looking a little odd to everyone who drove past.


We finished our 10k-ish run in the dark and I have to say, the route wasn't as bad as I had envisioned. Sure there are some hills but there are a lot of flat parts too. So for anyone else doing leg 2 (or 4) don't stress about it. Think of it as just another run and you'll do great.



*While I would like to blame this change in plans on Renee, I have to take the heat for this one. She was ready to go. I was a wimp.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Emergency!

During the month of August I had the privilege of writing the PRC Blog (here). I discovered that writing about my running was a great way to get through a run without hating it. When you're thinking about all the things you can write about, it's easier to not notice all the crappiness that often accompanies a run. I also discovered that my running exploits resonated with many others. I have had requests for more blogs and after today's events, I think it's time to get back to sharing my experiences with you all.

If you've read my previous blogs, you'll know that I am running the Huffin Puffin Relay on September 27th. After test running leg one on Labour Day, we planned to run the 10k leg two today. I picked up Renee and we met our newest running buddy Lori at Bowering Park before heading down to the Boulevard to start our run.

As is our habit, by the time we reached the start, we (Renee) had changed our planned route and distance.

There were several reasons for this change.

#1 - All the other people who planned on running with us could no longer make it.

#2 - I wasn't feeling the best due to events that involved a late night, delicious beverages and a hot tub.

#3 - Renee's toe was about to fall off.

#4 - Lori is new and easily persuaded.

Let me elaborate on #3. Renee did something to her toe and it was so swollen she could barely walk. Yet, she figured she could run 10k without any problems. I would have been home on the couch watching Border Security and eating the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms.

But we decided to try the run anyway. After 0.16k Renee couldn't go any farther. She took the key to my vehicle and went to wait while Lori and I did one lap of the lake, which was just under 4k. Not the 10k we had planned, but as I mentioned before, sometimes it's okay to stray from your running schedule.

When we rejoined Renee, she had decided that it was time to go to the hospital. Renee asked us to drop her off at the ER but, being the good friends we are, Lori and I decided to stay with her. Plus it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Problem #1. We were pretty sure that hospital parking meters were active even on the weekends. We were in our running gear with no change.

Solution: Drive around the parking lot until someone leaves and hope they still have time on their meter.

Problem #2. Nobody was leaving the hospital.

Solution: Drop Renee at the door and drive up the street to find a meter that wasn't active on weekends.

We spent the next hour in the waiting room discussing the possible outcomes of Renee's injury. Renee was hoping amputation wouldn't be an option. I was rooting for the boot. I think Lori was wondering what she had signed up for.




You can only sit in a waiting room for so long before you start to go stir crazy. It was decided that if I went to get tea for Renee, she would most likely get called in to see the Doc the minute I was out the door. I brought Lori to her car and went to Tim's. Renee went in to see the Doc before we made it across the parking lot.

With the tea delivered, the waiting continued. And the best way to make the waiting end and have the Doc show up is to do this:





The Doctor came in within seconds.

For those of you that find yourself in a similar situation, but sure to introduce yourself as a friend, or a running buddy, not a partner in crime. It causes all kinds of awkwardness.

Fortunately, the Doc did not have to amputate any appendages. Unfortunately, he recommended no running for a week. And no boot. Although, he seemed game to write a prescription for one if I really wanted it. He would probably make a great addition to our running group.

And that's where our adventure ended. But if history is any indication, I'm sure our next run will have its own memorable events.