A New Training Cycle

I’ve started training for a 16 km (10 mile) race.  It’s in mid-September and since the half-marathon last fall, I have really fallen off track with my cross training.  I don’t think I picked up a weight in 6 months and my running took the toll. Everything just felt harder to do and the muscles got soft.

After the three races I ran in June I felt like I was finally back on track, so I signed up for the 16km race.  I also started weight training again as part of my cross training.  We don’t have that many weights at home and I don’t have time to go to a gym (you know, full time job and 3 kids) so I have to work with what I’ve got.  Husband and I have talked for years about converting our garage to a gym and maybe one day we’ll do it.  In the meantime, I’m happy to use my free weights.  I know it isn’t a lot of weight but for what I need for it to do it’s working well.

This time around I am also going to make more of an effort to incorporate hill training and speed workouts.  Hill training  involves running up a hill  repeatedly (fun, right?).  My first session last week saw me do three hill repeats.  The hill is about 200 m long and I have no idea what the incline is but it felt steep.  I’ve heard the hills should be 400 m long but again, working with what’s in my neighborhood.  Every week I will try to add 1-2 more repeats.

As for the speed workouts, this is a warm up of 5 min followed by 7-8 sets of 1 min sprint and 2 min recovery periods, ending with a 5 min cool down.  Ideally I would like to see these runs clocking in around 7 min/km or less.  This time last year I was running pretty consistently under 7 min/km except on the long runs.  I know my body can do it, it just needs to remember how and that’s why I think the weights will help.

Last week I had a specialized physical exam as part of my training for a new part-time job at a medical facility.  This included an exercise stress test and body fat analysis.  It was very interesting being on the other side of the examination table.  They calculated my BMI at 23.1 with a 28% body fat composition.  I was pretty happy with those numbers, even though I know they don’t mean a hell of a lot.  Still, the message I got was that running is working for me. I’m back in a good space with running and I hope it keeps up.

I dream of Space.

A few weeks ago, a FB friend posted a link to the Canadian Space Agency. For the first time since 2009, applications are being accepted over the next two months to pick the next 2 Canadian Astronauts.

Instantly, my interest was piqued.

Who hasn’t dreamed of being an Astronaut?

The first time I learned about space travel was probably right after the Challenger disaster in 1986.  I was 11 years old. I can kind of remember the chatter in my grade 6 class at recess about the space shuttle blowing up. We watched the news about it as a family later that evening.  When the Time Magazine issue was released (my parents were subscribers back then), I read over every inch of the article.  I was obsessed.  I would ask my parents to take me to the local library so I could read more about the shuttle missions.  I was obsessed for months about the tragedy.

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A few years later, my father introduced me to Carl Sagan.  He knew I was interested in space exploration and the Universe in general and he brought me a book he’d had on his bookshelf called “Contact“.

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After reading the novel, I started to think about life in the universe and truly wondered if we were alone.  I would look up at the stars at night and wonder what it would be like to meet an alien, or travel through space.  It would be years later that I would start watching science fiction television shows. My brother and father were big Star Trek fans for years. I never liked watching those shows when I was a teenager, I was far more interested in Soap Operas thanks to my mom.  Nevertheless, science fiction was all around me growing up, mostly on the book shelves in my dad’s office.

I became a sci-fi “geek” in University.  I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation after seeing an episode in my first year philosophy course. That episode was “The Measure of a Man“. The episode discussed the idea of whether Data was indeed a sentient being with a conscience. It was fascinating, and I was hooked.

Fast forward 20 years and I’m now sitting at my computer looking at the eligibility requirements to apply to the Canadian Space Agency.  I meet the height and weight requirements; I am a Canadian citizen; I am female; I have several university degrees; I am licensed to practice medicine in Canada.

Holy crap. I qualify to apply!!!!!

And then I started answering some questions on the official application.

“Do you have expertise in Materials Science?”

“Do you have expertise in Orbital Science?”

“Do you have expertise in Spacecraft Design?”

“Do you have expertise in Thermodynamics?”

“Do you have expertise in Space Physics?”

“Do you have expertise in Microgravity?”

“Do you have expertise in Rocket Science?”

“Do you have expertise in Geodesy?”

What the hell is Geodesy?

Hmmm … guess I’m not as qualified as I had originally thought.  Still, I’m going to apply anyway, why the hell not?

Maybe I’ll use this post as my cover letter.

Changes.

It’s been a while!

Hard to believe it’s almost the end of June. There’s been a lot going on in my world, most of it pretty good.

My dad is on the mend from his kidney stone issues and has remained pretty stable with respect to his memory and the Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Two rounds of infection, two general anesthetics, mild delerium and his memory testing was the same!  Unbelievable really. The thing with AD is that the patient kind of remains oblivious to the reality around him.  He recognizes that his memory has declined but he doesn’t understand anymore the impact it has on everyone else, his wife especially.  If there is any blessing with AD it is that the patient loses their higher executive, frontal lobe functioning early.  It is quite the opposite for the family.  My mom is a strong woman though and she is managing pretty well; she goes to her weekly support group, my brother works from their place once a week and she visits the kids when it gets too much.  I wish there was more I could do for her and for my dad.

As for me,  I’ve done two races this month with decent results, given how awful the winter was with my running.  I have another 10K race this weekend and I am not expecting to do any better than 1:15 but that’s okay.  It’s an opportunity to have some fun, run on the highway and get a cool T-shirt and medal!

I’m starting a new part-time job next month in addition to my family practice.  It is an opportunity I sought out and I am excited about. It is an opportunity to grow as a physician, learn about a different model of care and will be a great change of scenery for me.   I’ll be a lot busier, working 5 days a week (instead of 4) but I think I’m up for the challenge.  The future of primary care in my province is looking hazy right now and I am a little worried. We have been without a contract with our Government for over two years and they are planning on implementing change to how primary care is delivered without consulting the front line workers, ie me!  I felt it was time to start looking at other opportunities where my work is actually appreciated.

I’ve missed the blog.  I hope you missed me too.

 

What if?

What does a wife and mother to 3 children do when her husband (who stays home to look after the kids) is suddenly offered the opportunity of a lifetime but it means 2 years away from home while he tours Canada, the U.S., and Japan?

Gah!

So many scenarios run through my head…

Of course we could make it work.

I can parent three children on my own and still work 30 hours a week.

My job is relatively flexbile, I could change my hours to accommodate school pick up and drop offs.

I can’t let him pass up this amazing opportunity.

What if he resents me in 10 years because he didn’t go?  What if he resents me in 10 years because he did go?

I used to watch this television show called Fringe.  The main premise of the show was parallel universes.  I often wonder if there were a parallel universe or ten, what would it show me?  How would my husband leaving to go on tour for 2 years affect my children’s development? How would it affect them if he didn’t go?  Would it make me a more capable mother or would it make me worse?

I don’t think he’s going to go, but the exercise of thinking about it and wondering if I could handle running a household on my own really makes me realize how much I depend on him and need him. Sometimes I think I might take that for granted.

This also reminds me of my favorite poem:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

 

Life and a new pet.

It’s been a while. Work has been exceptionally busy at times. There was a stretch for a few weeks where I wasn’t getting home until well after 6pm. The busy pace is good but when it slows down it seems to really slow down. Like, snail’s pace slow. So slow that I’ve gone out for mid-day runs during the week.

My running comeback has been slow. I still struggle at times with shin splints and am pretty convinced it’s shoe related but just haven’t found the time to get new shoes. I’ve been wearing an older pair which is much better than my current new-ish pair but it’s not ideal. Unfortunately the old shoe isn’t made anymore, I don’t think, so I will have to spend some time trying on new brands and well, there just isn’t enough time right now.

Remember that sourdough starter? Well it’s still going! I’ve made several loaves of bread and have figured out what works and what doesn’t but making just bread all the time is getting boring.  Husband found me a recipe for saltine crackers.

  
They were so good, they rocked!! 😉

Yesterday I tried the Joy of Cooking’s recipe for pretzels. A little bit time consuming and laborious but well worth the final product.


We also have a new pet.

A mouse.

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Have I mentioned we also have a snake? He’s a ball python. We’ve had him for about 10 years now. My husband rescued him from his nephew.  He eats live mice.  Daughter is coming to the age where she understands that the snake eats and what he eats is live mice. Well one day over a month ago, she was particularly smitten with one particular mouse. She begged her daddy not to feed him to the snake.

When I got home from work that night, it was late and the kids were already in bed.  I was surprised to see that there was a mouse still alive.  Husband told me that daughter wanted to keep it, so if she woke up the next morning and still asked about the mouse, he would let her keep it.  First thing the next morning, she woke up and asked him if he saved the mouse.  How could he refuse her? Late that day, the $2.99 mouse was living in a swanky one bedroom apartment worth $75.00.  Almost two months later, he is alive and well and thriving.  Daughter takes excellent care of him.  She cleans out his cage every 2 weeks when the stink gets bad, she is responsible for feeding him and making sure he has enough water.  She has turned into a wonderful mouse mother.

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This mother couldn’t be more proud.

The mouse’s name is Speck.  Even the cat is tolerating him.

Reminder

I’ve been in a running slump. I’ve mentioned it before. I’ve only been running about once a week. I don’t know if I’m lacking motivation or what, but I just haven’t been enjoying the little bit of running I’ve been doing. That’s probably because it’s so few and far between and my muscles and joints are saying, “Woah there, honey. What are you doing to us?”

So after saying all week that I was going to go for a run today, or tomorrow, I finally made it happen. It wasn’t pretty and it was slow but I did it. 

I wore a specific race T-shirt to remind my legs that they have gone the distance and they still can. 

I just hope the next time I run isn’t another week from now.   

  

A Breadmaker?

Further to my post earlier this week, that first batch of dough I tried to rise in the refrigerator did absolutely nothing. 

Nada. 

No rising. 

I believe it had something to do with my starter. While there were loads of bubbles that I thought were yeast, the mixture wasn’t doubling. So I fed it some more and the next day magic happened. My starter doubled in size and I tried again. 

This time though I didn’t rise the dough in the refrigerator. I instead left it in the oven all day and husband looked in on it. By the time I got home from work, the dough had risen to double and I made some bread. 

 
Apart from it being slightly under-salted and having an extra crispy crust, it was damn fine bread!! 

From Scratch

I couldn’t let the day pass without writing.

It’s February 29!

Happy Leap Day/Year everyone!

There has been so much I wanted to write about but getting my thoughts down has been hard.  It’s been very busy at work and by the time I get home and see my kids, eat dinner and relax, it is time for bed.  I’ve been running about once a week which isn’t nearly enough and that has been hard to deal with as well. I just haven’t been motivated to run lately and it hasn’t helped that I’ve been on-again off-again having issues with my calf.  Coming home late from work also means there’s no time to run.  The kids barely see me during the week as it is, so it’s not like I can arrive home and immediately turn around and leave for a run. Needless to say, mommy guilt is at an all-time high. 

I have also been preoccupied lately with being an assessor for medical school admissions.  After doing a file review of 30 applicants, I also took part in the in-person interview. I’m not sure who was more nervous, me or the applicant!  Thinking back to my own medical school interview, it was an hour long while I sat across from four very important looking people. Daunting indeed. It was interesting being on the other side of the table. It was more a privilege than anything else. I felt like I was a member of a very important club and it felt good to be able to play a small role in choosing our future physicians. 

Husband and I have been watching a lot of Netflix recently.  We just watched a documentary called “Cooked” and it was a fascinating look at how we as humans approach food.  One of the episodes was called “Air” and it was a look at the art (and science) behind bread.  Did you know that if you mixed water and flour and left it to the air that something magical would happen?  You can make your own yeast sourdough starter!  You don’t need anything else but time and patience.  There are yeast spores in the flour and in the air, all ready to start doing their thing.  Ever the scientist, I decided to give it a try.

Day 1. A boring paste of flour and water. IMG_1336
Day 2. Something is happening. Those bubbles are CO2 being formed by yeast. After adding more flour and water to feed the fledgling yeast 

Day 3.  More feeding of flour and water. More magic. Now it’s starting to smell a bit funky, which I hear is a good thing.

  

Day 4 – today. Sour and pungent smell. It is almost ready. 

 
When I got home tonight I decided it was time to try out some bread making. Now the dough is rising for the next 12 hours (sourdough) and for the record had I known this would take this long to make one loaf of bread I would have just gone out to the bakery and bought one. 

😉

The Toddler

“Mommy, what’s that?”

“That’s a Death Star cookie jar.”

“I want that! Mommy, what’s that?”

“That’s a Chewbacca pillow.”

“I want that!”

“What’s that?  What’s that? MOMMY!  What’s that?”

“That’s a Boba Fett bobble-head doll.”

“Mommy, I want that! Mommy what’s that?”

“That’s a phone booth toy.”

We were at HMV this morning.  Husband was off looking for some Criterion Collection DVDs and I was on toddler duty. The store was pretty empty as it had just opened so we had the run of the store.  The toddler high-tailed it to the “toy section” and spent the next 10 agonizing minutes of my life with a game of 20 questions.

All this after a half-hour car ride which sounded like this:

“What’s that? Ooooh, treetcar! I want one. Daddy!  Look! A bus! Mommy!!  Mommy!!!!!!!  My boot fell ground! I want muffin! Daddy!! Bird, Daddy, look! What’s that, Mommy? Look, Mommy, a truck! I want one!”

Aren’t toddlers adorable?

I need a Tylenol.