The Marathon

I started running back in 2012. It was really out of necessity. I was two kids in and could not run after them at the park when they took off on me. It was pathetic. It was also the cheapest thing I could do to get in shape and didn’t take a lot of time out of my already busy day.

Fast forward 8 years. I’ve run three half marathons, a handful of 10ks and many 5ks. And then the pandemic hit and I stopped running. (Okay, so I shouldn’t really blame the pandemic – several other things happened like a major depressive episode, my dad moving into a retirement home and a busy life with three kids). But suffice it to say, I got lazy. And soft.

One afternoon while sitting on my front lawn with my neighbors for a “physically distanced drink” my girlfriend texted me about having to walk her London marathon virtually and asked me to join her for a portion of it. I was a glass or three in when I wrote “I’ll do it all with you!”

So I started going for more walks to train. I started walking 10 km once a week to work and it felt good. About once a week I force myself out for a run, which is really mostly walking with some running. Every October where I live there is a big race and this year it went virtual, of course. The race organizers offered a deal where you can sign up for all four distances (5 km, 10 km, 21.1 km and 42.2 km) with the stipulation that you have to complete them during the month of October. Participants can run or walk the distances.

So, I signed up for all four races. I mean, it’s just walking, right? Can’t be that hard, and I figured I would run a little too. It was the motivation I needed to get my ass off the couch and exercise

The 5 km and 10 km races were easy. Not my best times to be sure, but that was to be expected given how lazy I’ve been all year.

I set out for the half marathon two weekends ago. By 12 km I started flirting with the idea of just doing the marathon. It had been weighing on my mind a lot. I was rightly scared of the distance and as I imagined finishing the half marathon I realized that I might not want to start over again another day to do the full. So after some back and forth texting with my husband who was at home with our 3 kids, I decided to seriously consider doing the marathon.

And I did!!!

The second half was grueling. My brother and his wife met me around 30 km and walked 4 km with me. The distraction was exactly what I needed because by then my hips started to hurt, the blisters on my heels were burning and I was feeling defeated. At 40 km I started texting my husband to meet me. I tried running a little because that didn’t hurt nearly as much as walking did.

And then I looked at my watch and saw it.

I became a marathoner.

And I’m pretty sure I will do it again. But maybe in a year.

An Apocalyptic Oasis

About a month ago we saw a good friend and his son for a socially distanced meet-up at the local park. Our friend brought some tennis rackets and we hit the ball against a handball wall.

I loved it.

Hubby has always liked playing tennis. I liked watching it. Never thought much about actually playing it. But after this one particular morning, I found it exhilarating. I insisted we go out to get some rackets. (Really any excuse not to run in this heat.)

Now, trying to find free courts to play on in the city is a little tough. Mind you, we were pretty lazy about making any effort to actually find one, that is, until my child’s camp counselor noticed our rackets and gave us an amazing tip.

The local high school has tennis courts. Open courts. Free courts. No one uses them kind of courts.

So we high-tail it over and found this:

Right!?

Now we really are living The Walking Dead.

Oh my god, we love it.

It’s totally us.

I ran another little race.

Last weekend, I ran a little race in my hometown along with 25,000 other people.  I ran this one before, back in 2015.  It was a half-marathon.

My training cycle took a huge nosedive in August when I ran too much while on vacation at the cottage.  When I returned to running in the city, my legs were very mad at me.  The nagging shin splints returned and I had to take a big break. I ran only once a week for the last month before the race.  I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to finish, let alone finish it standing up.

The longest training run was 16 km and I did that 3 weeks before the big day. My friend who is a triathlete told me that it was better to be 10% under-trained than 1% overt-rained. She ended up being right.

Race day arrived and I was a nervous wreck.  I arrive on course early to support a new friend of mine as he completed his 5th (of 6) marathons of the weekend (that story is for another post).  See, I joined this running team last spring, supporting someone who raises money and awareness for childhood survivors of sexual abuse and trauma.  Through this team I have met a group of remarkable people all who like to run.  Most of them run a hell of a lot faster than me, but they are an inspiring group of people and I am lucky to have found them.

I ran with one of these new friends for my half marathon.  He was running the marathon and didn’t want to go out too fast, so I asked him if he wanted to run my pace with me and he did.  We had a fantastic time. It was so nice to run with someone and be distracted from the fact I was trying to run 21.1 km.

In the end, I ran a good race and I felt great. Sure, my hips started getting tight at 9 km and the balls of my feet starting aching around 17 km.  All of that was expected.  Nothing actually hurt too badly, so I knew I could finish it.

I ran it for me – to challenge my mind, body and spirit.  I didn’t beat my previous time but I knew I wouldn’t.

I was almost in tears when I finished.  I just wanted to cross the finish line standing up and I did.

I ran for my dad.  He has prostate cancer, and the previous week we got word that his radiation treatment worked and he was cancer free.  I raised $500 for Prostate Cancer Canada prior to the race.

I ran for my classmate, colleague and friend who was murdered last year by her husband.   I wear the purple armband that I wore at her funeral.  I will wear it for every race until her murderer is convicted.  My friend was a runner.  She always supported my running on social media. I ran for her because she can’t run anymore.


 

 

 

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.

1101860210_400

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“.

contact_sagan

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.

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.   

  

1000 km in 2016

At the beginning of 2015, a fellow blogger asked me to join her in a running challenge. We were going to run 1000 km in 2015. 

Well today I got a message from Nike+ informing me that I didn’t quite reach my goal. I improved upon the 600+ km I ran in 2014.

 

I haven’t run in two weeks. I won’t belabour the reasons why, if you’ve been reading my blog you know why. I plan to get back out there this weekend.  My body and mind need it. 

I will try to get closer to the 1000 km goal in 2016. 

What are your goals for this new year?

  

Morning.

Day 16 – National Blog Posting Month

Pretty much this.

caffeineloadingKids were up early. Mommy and daddy slept in. Big sister made breakfast for herself and brothers (read: juice box, cheese and yogurt). Only decaffeinated coffee left. Hustled everyone in the car. Late for school drop-off. Drove to shopping center. Ahh …. coffee.

That was my morning.

How was yours?

October Run Report and Goalification

Day 2 – National Blog Posting Month

IMG_0633
October was a pretty spectacular running month for me. After a summer plagued with injury I was able to make a comeback and completed my first half marathon. It wasn’t fast but I crossed the finish line at 2:37:17 which was three minutes faster than my goal time of 2:40.

Currently I have no plans for my next race. For someone who swore she’d never enter a race, the fact that I have nothing planned honestly feels strange. Never thought I’d ever say that.

My running goals now are to change my long runs to 10:1 intervals – 10 minutes of running then 1 minute of walking. I would also really like to phase out the walking altogether on my regular runs. I’m also going to start running hill repeats once a week provided no new injuries arise. In the past, hills have always led to some sort of injury so I will keep on eye on that.  I have a weight goal as well which is totally silly, but there you have it. It’s the last on my list so it’s not terribly important but I have a number in my head and I would like to reach it. It is likely an unrealistic goal given that I am also doing some weight training and not really being very strict with my diet. One has to live, right?

I can’t wait to see what November brings!

21.1

(or 13.1 for my U.S. Readers)

Race nerves were an all-time high this time around. Earlier in the week I was plagued with migraine headaches and tummy issues and generally I felt like crap. By the weekend I was starting to feel better but couldn’t shake this feeling of a large pit in my stomach. Saturday night I ate turkey with all the fixings – mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and stuffing. My husband surprised me with a present.  He was going to give it to me after the race but thought it would be better if I wore it while running, which I did and I absolutely adore it.

IMG_0429I went to bed around 10pm but had a hard time falling asleep. Eventually I must have because when I opened my eyes is was 6:10am. I kissed hubby and crawled out of bed.

Coffee. Bathroom break. Toast with peanut butter and honey. Glass of water. Yogurt. Dressed. My neighbor offered me a ride as he was racing too, and we headed out at 7:45am.

By the time I made it through the lineup to use the port-a-potties it was time to head to the start line.  I found two friends who were running together and we started together but they quickly pulled away from me which was totally fine. They were doing 10:1s and I had my own plan.

0-5 km – this flew by. I was doing a lot of people watching and enjoying the crisp morning air. I was dressed perfectly. The leg warmers on my calves were a godsend. Nothing hurt. No shin splints, no groin pain, nothing. I stuck to my 1km run, 100m walk intervals and my legs felt good. I forgot to take sips of water but took some Gatorade at the 3km water station. I was wearing gloves and had to take them off by this point. The gravity of what I was doing kinda suddenly hit me. Jesus Christ I was trying to run a half f&#*ing marathon. What is wrong with me?

IMG_04595-10 km. This part of the course was fun. I was in a good groove and kept to my intervals. I took a photo of the downtown skyline as it appeared on my left, just before making the turn to run along the waterfront.  I started feeling a bit sluggish as I approached the 9 km mark, so so I ate a few of my GU electrolyte Chews.  As I made my way along the waterfront and saw all the other runners running back towards downtown I started to feel like a fish out of water. Like a poser, if you will. I was trying to push that thought away when something else caught my attention.

IMG_0460IMG_046110-15 km. Chest pain. What? It wasn’t time to walk but the sharp pain in my left upper chest wasn’t going away. I slowed down and started walking and evaluated. “I’m not going to be that runner who has a f&#*ing heart attack.”It’s just a muscle spasm, a stitch; I drank that water at the last station too fast.” I focused on my breathing and as it settled down I started running again. I had to laugh at myself a bit. Stupid doctor. That’s when I had to start taking more frequent walk breaks. I was losing steam. I ate some more chews and sipped water. Suddenly it was 14 km. Only 7 km more to go. I can do this.

IMG_0462

I felt a little burst of energy around 16 km. My legs suddenly felt light. I kinda felt like I was floating above the ground as I ran. I briefly thought, “this is the moment you pass out.”

17 km. Only 4 more to go.

1 km. WHat the actual f—?! Oh, that was the for the 5 km run. lol! I literally laughed out loud.

I was taking more walk breaks. Probably every 400 m now but only for about 15-30 seconds.

18km. I grabbed my phone and texted my friend who was volunteering for the marathon and who asked me to let her know when I was close.

IMG_046319 km. “What street am I on? Why can’t I see the finish line? Is that my name on that sign?” It was! It was my friend and I ran over to her and gave her a high-five. I wanted to stop right there. I didn’t want to go on. I ran some more, I walked some more. The cheers got louder. I saw a sign that said 500 m to go. Seriously?  Then 400 m. I walked for about 15 seconds but then felt embarrassed. 300 m. “Just start running. Don’t stop“. And I didn’t. 200 m. I want to die. 100 m. Is that the finish? Don’t trip. Watch the ground. Don’t look up. I think I just crossed the finish line. Thank f#&$ing Christ.

IMG_0464I walked. I felt dizzy. I grabbed a solar blanket thing. I got my medal. I was surprised now heavy it felt. I just kept walking. In a daze. I forgot to drink water. I texted my husband. Took a really bad selfie and sent it to him. I went to go find my other friend who was waiting for me with a coffee. (Bad idea, by the way, the coffee).

We found each other. I could barely talk. She hugged me. She looked like she’d been crying. She took a few pictures. I found the food line. I ate my banana. I ate the yogurt. I forgot to drink water.

Home. Nauseated. Stomach hurt. Wanted to puke. Never, ever want to feel that way again. What have I done to my body?

I wrote on my FB running group.  They were really supportive throughout my training.  I wrote how I was feeling.  Several women responded suggesting I was dehydrated and needed to start drinking fluids, electrolytes. I was in such a daze it never occurred to me that I was dehydrated. It was a scary experience. After I drank an electrolyte mix I felt a lot better. I am starting to feel better today and my body hurts in places I didn’t expect. I am exhausted beyond anything I have experience before. I’m not sure I ever want to run again.

Oh, but at the very beginning of the race I realized I turn 42 next August.

42.

Hmm ….

IMG_0447

Ready. 

I think I’m ready for the half marathon in a couple of weeks. 

This was my last long training run. My friend joined me for the first 7 km and I continued on as she turned back. 

I tried a gel for the first time. It was gross. I then tried a gummy energy chew and it was much more palatable.  I’m glad I used this run to figure that out. 

  
I feel like I’m capable of anything. I can’t wait for the race!