Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Workout Wednesday: My Running Story

Prior to 2010, I wasn't a runner.  Not even close.  The last time I could remember running was in 10th grade with my friend Kimmy and I hated it and, therefore, didn't do it often.  That all changed one day in January, when running suddenly became the most important thing in the world.

My dear friend and coworker, Anna, had just sent me a facebook message.  Since I'm not on FB anymore, I can't repost the message but the gist of it was "I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma last month.  I wanted you to hear it from me before I announce it at work today"

I was stunned.  Anna was the most active person I knew.  She ran marathons, for cripes sake!   How could she suddenly have cancer?!?!   Hubby strolled into the kitchen while I was still digesting this.  I looked up at him and said "Anna has cancer.  I need to find a run for Lymphoma and do it!"   Without batting an eye, he looked at me and said "But you're not a runner" and I told him "I guess I'm gonna become one!"

With that one statement - my world became a much different one than I had ever known.  I was a woman on a mission.   I searched and searched for lymphoma races.  I was thinking 5K would be good. Something to honour a friend and, maybe, raise a little money in the process.  I was coming up empty.  It seemed no one had a race for lymphoma.  I even wrote to the Lymphoma Foundation of Canada and, after taking their sweet time, they wrote back "We don't hold any races but I think the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society does something"

A quick Google later made me wonder why something as big as Team in Training had never popped up in any of my searches!  Soon, my hopes were almost dashed by my mental state.  The shortest distance I could run for these guys was a half marathon.  And it seemed so huge - running that super long distance and raising THAT much money to do it.   But I quickly slapped myself upside the head and said "This isn't about you - dummy.  You can totally do it and it would be a wonderful way to honour a friend who's been pretty good to you over the years"

I looked at the races that were available, but the training had already started for them.  I spoke to the lady at the head office to see what races might be coming in the Fall and she started to list off what was coming up. When she said Nike Women's, I stopped her.  That was a race Anna had done with her daughter a few years earlier.  THAT would be the race to do to honour her.

In late February, I started to teach myself to run using Couch to 5K.   It was really hard for me.  I was down about 15lbs from where I had started the year, but I was still carrying a great deal of weight and was still fairly out of shape.  The program made it manageable, though, and I found myself looking forward to lacing up my runners and hitting the pavement.  I signed up for a 5K goal race at the end of May to keep me motivated (and to allow me a few extra weeks in case I needed them).  Then I heard about another 5K race in early May that benefited the NICUs where my daughters had spent their first week and signed up for that too.  Suddenly I was signed up for 2 races and I hadn't even finished learning to run yet!

At the end of April, I attended the info session for the Fall season of Team in Training.  I was a bundle of nerves - arriving early and anxious about what was to come.   I was sitting in the room when I heard a familiar voice behind me and I turned to see a girl who I had sat next to in a SharePoint course a few years earlier, checking in.  We immediately started to gab and get caught up and I felt my anxiety start to go away.  I had a familiar face who would be doing this, too (Anna's daughter, was going to do it as well, but I didn't know her that well back then). At the end of the presentation - I signed up and walked away with my training shirt and instructions for setting up my fundraising website.

A couple of weeks later, I started training with the team...and I ran my first 5K the very next day.

The months that followed are a blur to me.   I ran several more races as my distances increased, just to keep myself motivated.   I made amazing friends who became my running family.  I became a part of a community working towards a great cause.  And I became annoying to pretty much everyone I knew as I came up with new and creative ways to fundraise (that fundraising minimum is nothing if you pluck away at it in $200 chunks!)

Running had become a part of my life!  Something I couldn't do without.

As I trained that summer, I found other benefits to this new lifestyle I had adopted.  The Saturday morning runs got me out of the house and gave me a break from the twin terrors, er...toddlers.  I got to talk with other women and relate on a level I had never related before.  Running made me a better mom to my girls because it gave me something that was my own and let me step away so I could come back stronger.

By September, the big race was looming.  Only one month to go.  I started to wonder if everything I had gained was going to just vanish when we were done being a team.   Turns out I wasn't alone.   A few of us started to make plans to keep up the Saturday runs after we were done with TNT.  We discussed other races we could run.  We started to register to run these races together.   There was definitely going to be a running life after TNT!

Suddenly, it was the middle of October and hubby and I were on a plane to San Francisco, with the twinners left at home with Gramma.  I didn't know it then, but that weekend in California was going to be one of the most emotionally wrenching of my entire life.  This was where we really saw the difference we were making for LLS.  This was where we really became a team.

Lining up at 5:30 am in Union Square with tens of thousands of other runners.  I found myself quite unprepared for the excitement of a big American marathon.   I knew I was ready to run this thing and I was mentally prepared in case I ended up running it alone, despite hoping to stay with my friends.  Anna was there too.  In remission and running her first half since her diagnosis.

I started the race with my friends, since we were good at keeping pace with each other.   Unfortunately, a poorly timed drink of water at the start line meant that I was suffering by the time we were out of the financial district.  I needed a portapotty and fast.  I thought if I could just run ahead of the group, I could get through the line and meet the girls at the other side.   That thought changed as soon as I saw the lineups.  I was stuck waiting.   Twelve minutes later (as per my Garmin pause), my friends were gone and I was on my own.

From miles 4 to 9 - I plodded on solo.      I was losing steam.  I was mentally beating myself up.  Then, at one point in that solo trek, I came to the mission mile...a mile dedicated to all of the people we were running for.  Each region had photo collages up and, as I looked for the Prairie region one...I saw Anna just ahead of me.   I ran to catch her and, with tears in our eyes, we had our photo taken with the collage.   I hugged her and ran with her group for a little bit and then I was ready to go again.  I took off, with renewed determination to finish this.  I now remembered why I was there again! 

At the mile 9 marker, I stopped to take a self portrait with the sign and a girl came up to me and offered to take that picture ofr me.  Turns out she was on my team - I'd just never met her because she hadn't trained with the rest of us.  We decided to finish this sucker together and get our pictures taken with the lovely Tiffany-bearing firemen at the finish.

Suffice it to say - we crossed that finish line.  We got that Tiffany necklace.  Then we parted ways.  For someone who I had never met and whom I had shared the end of an emotional journey with, it is odd that I never saw or spoke to her again.   But I'll always remember her.  We may nothave known each other, but that day we were a real team.  I wish I could have crossed the finish line with my friends, but doing it this way made me realize that I was doing it for a bigger reason than myself.

Since that day - I have run a lot of Saturdays.   I trained throught he winter with my runner girls to keep us motivated and then we ran a snowly half marathon to celebrate.   We've run a lot of races - some together, some not so together.   We're a different kind of team now.

Since that race in October, I've run:
  • 5 half marathons
  • 4 10K races
  • 4 5K races
In another couple of weeks, I will run my 7th half marathon in less than a year!  Craziness for someone who never thought she could be a runner!

and then there's this insanity of attempting a full marathon.  But with as far as I've come - I am so glad that I have this in my life.  I'm glad that I am healthy and strong and can do this.  and I'm excited to see where this journey takes me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Techy Tuesday: Samsung Galaxy Tab

The longer my husband's iPad has been in the house, the more I have come to like the idea of a tablet.  I WANT an iPad - I really do, but I HATE the size of the thing.   I found myself often in the tablet section of a store and always gravitating to the smaller 7 inch tablets.   Then, this week...I had a chance to get one for free.

Say wha?  Free?

Bear with me really wasn't free, but using my geek girl logic, I can totally justify the way I got this thing.  And I do need to send a big shout out to hubby for making it happen because when it looked like everywhere was sold out of these, he managed to secure the last one in the city for me.

With the release of the new Samsung Galaxy Tabs in the near future, Rogers was clearing out the older stock.  Free tablet with 3 year term.  Hubby is already a Rogers customer so the tablet was basically just an add-on to his existing data plan (cheaper than getting my own account).   At the end of 3 years, I will have ended up paying for the tablet in full plus having paid for approx 1 year of data for 3 years worth.  Score for me.  Now I have a tablet with no money laid out AND I can use it from home on WI-Fi or take it on the road with me (meaning larger screen to play internet videos on in the car to shut up the twins on road trips)

So now, with the explanation out of the we go with the unboxing and my impressions.

In the box were the wall plug and usb cable, nice headphones, and manuals.  No case, but next Tuesday I'll address that.

Along the bottom of the screen are 4 buttons - Menu, Home, Back, and Search

The screen is super clear.  Capacitive touchscreen so it reacts like an iPad screen and incorporates many of the movements that are familiar to Apple users.  I've found that Android Market has a wide range of usable apps for my purposes - including, but not limited to Cozi, My Fitness Pal, Kindle, Kobo, Zinio, and a slew of native Google Apps (a really nice thing about using a Google operating system is that the apps for their products are stellar).

I've found that good toddler games are a bit lacking.   iPad seems to be the winner here, but my daughters still enjoyed poking around in the couple that I downloaded for them.  I did notice that many of the app developers did build in functionality to lock the home button, which is my big complaint when it comes to the iPad (my daughters are too good at pushing the button and then deleting apps).   I really liked the app iStorybooks as it came with many free books and had options to have it play as a slideshow - reading the book aloud or to shut off that functionality to read the story together as a family.  I see us using this for kids ebooks ALOT.

I've been enjoying playing around with digital magazines in Zinio (I'll be reviewing this in a couple of weeks for you).  One of the big things about decluttering our home was trying to figure out how to keep the magazines and kill the clutter they cause...this might just do the trick in that respect.

I am happy to have a reading device that I can use for Kindle - though I doubt I will read many books on this screen (too hard to read for long periods on a backlit screen), it is nice to know I have an option for when a book just isn't offered in any format but Kindle.

The size of this device is the real winner for me.  It is almost the exact dimensions of a kindle (slightly thicker but within a millimetre otherwise).   It can be held comfortably in one hand and is a good size to surf the net or just do my daily tasks on.   I already find myself gravitating to it to update my daily apps instead of doing it on my Blackberry. 

The unit does come with a couple of cameras built in - a 3MP and 1MP.  The quality isn't stellar, but it is enough for doing video chat.   I didn't want it for the cameras, was purely for the browsing experience and it quite satisfies me in that respect.   

Speed-wise, it is quite snappy.  I don't notice any real lag to it, though Hubby does say the iPad is faster in his opinion.   I've still found him reaching for it a few times instead of his iPad, so I think he might be a little fond of it as well.

The battery life is really decent.   After the initial charge, I didn't need to charge it again for the next two days.   It was used just as heavily (if not moreso) than our netbook would have been and it was nice to not need to plug it back in every couple of hours like the netbook (try and guess what will be hitting Kijiji this week).

All in all - I'm very happy with this.  I'm glad I stuck to my guns and went with the smaller size.  I think it will be a very useful device for our family...and one that fits in my normal-sized purse at that.

Monday, August 29, 2011

MOMday: Mommunity

For the past 2 weeks...nay, longer...there has been some bug or another running rampant in my home.   Hubby seems like he is always on the verge of something or is being flattened out by something else.   Every time a tooth cuts on my girlies - there is a type of cold they get (that vanishes suddenly when the tooth appears).  Everybody gets sick.  But me.   Must be my Mommunity.

Don't get me wrong...I've been feeling pretty ughy myself for the past couple weeks.  There may have even been some interesting colours finding their way out of my body at different points (TMI, I know...just bear with me)...but just when I thought the cold was going to take root and knock me went away.  JUST. LIKE. THAT.

I joke and say that it's my magic multivitamins that keep me healthy.  I used to get sick all the time before I got preggo.   Nasty, lingering colds and flus.  Days and days off work.   That kind of sick.   As soon as I started taking prenatal vitamins - all of a sudden I wasn't sick anymore.  My entire pregnancy, I got one cold the week before I gave birth and I just saw it as a warning sign that something was imminent.  Once I was in the hospital - the cold went away.

While I was pumping for my girlies - I kept up the prenatals.  They were cheap and plentiful (ladies - just buy your vitamins at many for soooo cheap).   Colds came and went from our house and I didn't get sick.  Sometimes I would start to get sick and so I would double or triple my vitamins that day and the cold never got past the sore throat stage.   Those vitamins were magic, I tellya!  My friends were anxious to test my theory about the vitamins and most of them came back and told me I was crazy - it just didn't work that way for them.  They don't have kids, though, so I think it must just be my Mommunity.

What is Mommunity, you ask?  Simple.  It is a special immunity that only Moms get.   That way they REALLY never get a day off.   No luxuriating in bed while daddy takes the kids to the dayhome...that just isn't in the cards.  I may be lying here...I started to get sick a few weeks ago and, after a sleepless night with sick babies, hubby took the girls to the dayhome so I could call in sick and sleep.  I took 4 multivitamins before I laid down :P  Really, though...I didn't spend the day luxuriating...I slept til 10 and then got a migraine right after breakfast so it's not like I could even sit in bed and read for the rest of the day.  Fun day - right?!?!

The other times I kind of got sick were a) on a 2 week family vacation in Mexico...and the girlies and hubby were sick too so I had to take care of them, b) that time me and the girlies got the stomach flu and I was off for a week - not because I was sick...because mine only lasted 24 hours...because the girlies took turns throwing up for an entire week. 

But I digress...mommunity sucks.  It really does.  I feel like I've spent the better part of 3 years on the edge of a cold but never really allowed to get sick.   To sit in bed all day, wiping my nose while I read and drink copious amounts of ginger ale.

The sad part of never really getting sick, though, is that I get tons of sick days through my work and I never use them!  If the girlies are sick - I have to use VACATION DAYS!!!   How is that fair? 

But I knew the job description when I signed on for motherhood.   Fair doesn't matter anymore and my day off is on Saturdays when I disappear for a morning to run and visit and drink a latte the size of my head.  Truly, I think that morning off does more for my mommunity than anything else because it gives me a chance to let go of everything for a few hours and chase any bug away before I return to the sick house...and I am better equipped to deal with it when I do.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Reads: Bossypants by Tina Fey

BossypantsFINALLY!  A book worth reading.  It seems like I've had my fair share of duds lately.  Picking up a few too many non-fiction books has been weighing me down and the fact that I have abandoned half of them before finishing them - depressing.  I used to credit myself with being able to read through ANYTHING.  Not so - apparently.

But then there was Bossypants.  Tina Fey's laugh-out-loud funny tome was just what the doctor ordered! J had warned me months ago, via her blog, that it was not to be read in public.  Did I listen to her?  Nope...totally didn't.  Did I almost snort barley soup out my nose...yep, might have almost happened while reading at lunch.

In large part this is a memoir.  Fey was in sketch comedy at a time that was a turning point for women in the business and she tells, with great hilarity, the lessons she learned along the way while sharing some incredible stories of how she made it.  There's a little something for everyone, but this will be especially appreciated by those girls who lived on the fringe of the "in" crowd.  I particularly loved her motherhood tangents (of course).  

This one is a quick read - I finished it in a couple of short sessions.   Highly recommended.  Somehow, Fey manages to turn the little things in life into hilarious memories.  I loved every page. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Official Photos: Edmonton Half Marathon 2011

Holy cow, that was fast...they were ready yesterday, but since I promised y'all to not flood your feed readers - I restrained myself til today!

Here are my official pics from Edmonton!   Mostly finish line stuff...but there was one on course pic.  No wonder I didn't see any of the on course photographers - I was staring at the ground apparently!

Is the guy behind me "adjusting himself" for the camera?

and I'm glad to see that I don't look as fat as I am feeling these days...

and my finisher certificate:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Fitblogger Day!

Wow - my weekend must have really distracted me!  I completely forgot that I was a Guest Contributor on Fitblogger!  I am very excited!

To all of the new visitors who discovered me there - WELCOME!  I hope you'll enjoy poking around my little blog and following my journey.   The post I contributed was one that I posted here a couple of months ago that really resonated with a lot of people and I thought perhaps a larger audience might benefit from what I wrote.  I hope it helps you find what works for you. :)

and to those of you who have had their feed readers fill up with my posts today - *insert sheepish look here*  sorry.  It's just been a really prolific day in my brain.  Last post today - I promise.

Inspiring Words

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
~ Jack Layton

This was the closing line in his farewell letter, once he found out his cancer treatment hadn't gone as they'd hoped.  I loved it enough to share it.

(I'm not much for politics, but I did like Jack - even if he didn't get my vote.   I hope his legacy lives on and brings real change someday)

After the 29K

Well - I must admit that I am feeling pretty great after my 29K yesterday.  I was feeling a bit stiff when I went to bed last night but that seems to have passed overnight and today I am feeling good.  Much better than I expected, considering how I felt after 27K last week.

Here's what I am considering to be the things that have helped this time:

1. Taking it easy on that half marathon.  The slower pace and longer walk breaks really helped save me.
2. Putting my feet up on the dash for the entire trip home (4 hours in the car).  Having them elevated must be what's helped with keeping my feet from swelling
3. Wearing my vibrams around once we got home - whenever I have post-running foot pain, I've started wearing these and it goes away. 
4. Icing my shin - I had some pain in my right shin last night (felt like I'd been whacked by a baseball bat) and so I iced it while watching True Blood and the pain is gone now
5. Advil and early to bed - I was in bed around 9 last night and fell into a coma.  Woke up feelin great.

I survived my second longest run in this training plan and am not questioning my decision to run this Full in October.  That is huge for me because I was sure the longer distances would make me scared...but now I feel like I can definitely do this.   42.2K in 47 days.  Ready or, wait.  There is no NOT in this equation...I am so gonna be ready!   It's all mental at this point...and taper starts in 2 weeks! Yay!!!

Race Report: Edmonton Half Marathon 2011

As part of my summer of craziness (aka Marathon training), I signed up for a bunch of half marathons to keep me going on those long runs.  Yesterday was one of those halfs...the Edmonton Marathon Half.   It was only going to be part of my run for the weekend (since I decided to go for 29K this week instead of next) so I knew I needed to be super smart about it.

We picked up my race kit on our way through Edmonton to my in-laws place.   The expo this year was ALOT better than last year.  I wish I'd thought to bring more money so I could buy some goodies because there was some pretty cool stuff there.  Instead, I picked up some more bondibands in colours I didn't have yet.   The race package didn't contain anything too special...just my bib, the requisite flyers and the second ugliest race shirt (second only to last years for this event).

Oh - and then there's the timing chip.  it was a bib chip...but it was a bib chip that makes those other bib chips from my Calgary races seem like the best thing ever.  This one was a sensor that laid flat on the paper and then had  a giant foam thing over it.  ya - comfortable.  bet those full marathon people really love that.

But I favourite part of the expo was discovering Embee body wallets.  I was stupid and didn't buy one for myself right then and there, but it was such a cool idea for runners that I know one is in my future.  Maybe she'll be at Okanogan so I can get an expo deal on it (they are quite a bit more expensive to buy online).

Ok - so that was the Expo.  Saturday, I spent hanging out with family and taking Doodle to emerg (ya - good times...luckily just an ear infection but still gives a sense of how much sleep we had this weekend (Read: none)

On Saturday night, I asked my father in law how long it would take me to get from Stony Plain to Northlands park for 7am on a Sunday...he told me an hour.  Sunday morning, I was up at 5 and out the door by 6.   It took me 25 mins.  No - I didn't speed.

Upside to arriving an hour and a half before the race starts?  Well - you get super great parking.  I was really close to the start line (very important for finish line stumble back to car).  But no one else was there so I sat in the car for 5 mins and contemplated what to do...decided maybe getting that 8K in BEFORE the race might be nice because then I could just get my medal and leave after the race.  So, that's what I did :)  

Running through the early morning streets of Edmonton was much like going anywhere in Edmonton is...not too exciting.  It's not that pretty of a city.  If I had given some forethought, I might have tried to get to the paths of the river valley but I didn't want to get lost when I was on a timeline to get back to the start line.  I just ran a quick out and back to get in that 8K (I got back to Northlands just in time to see the full marathoners heading out!) and then hit the washrooms (yay for real toilets at the start line) and lined up for the race.   It was 5 mins to the start.   This meant that everyone was quite crowded in and there was no way I could work my way forward to run behind the 2:30 pace bunny.   Instead, I was surrounded by walkers.  No worries, I thought - I'll run with the back of the pack and just go with it.  I have a goal of 2:45 for this and running at the back might actually help me stay on track for that slow of a half.

And the full marathoners are off!
The start line from the back of the pack

The race started at 8am and was a slow crawl to the start...and then we were off...I felt like I was going slow but a quick glance at my Garmin told me I was going quite quick (sub-6 min/km).  I felt good, though so I just tried to back off a bit and keep going.  Out of Northlands park and onto 112 Ave.  My first observation about Edmonton roads is that they are in much worse shape than the Calgary roads...very uneven and in desperate need of repair.  One of the best parts of this race, I soon discovered, was that they have portapotties at EVERY waterstation - SCORE!  I took full advantage of that along the way - since I wasn't racing this.

Then it was onto Jasper Ave and into downtown.  I was feeling good, but the temperature was really staring to climb.   So hot.   I was grateful when we turned into residential and the treelined streets.  I passed the 10K mark in around 1:10 and thought that was a nice pace to settle into for the rest of the race.   There was this one bridge we passed over that was super ridiculous...the bridge wasn't paved - it was all this open grating!   with the road it passed over VERY far below.  More than a little disconcerting to run on.   Shortly past that point, I saw one of my TNT buddies, Tim, pass in the opposite direction with the full marathoners.  I called out to him, but he is so fast that I don't think he heard me.  Then, a little after that I saw my bloggy friend, Sue, pass.  She looked much happier than she had the last time I saw her in Lacombe!

I was soon on my way back.  Through the treelined neighbourhood, across the horrid grate bridge (I took the sidewalk this time) and back toward downtown.   I was starting to slow myself down ALOT with my walk breaks getting longer and longer.   Shortly after entering downtown, this lady started running toward me with a big smile on her face - and it was my runner girl JS!!! She was in Edmonton for her brother in law's wedding and the hotel was near the race route. :)   I was so happy to see her!  Especially at that point where the heat plus my added distance was starting to make this race feel really hard.  We walked together for around 5 mins and then, as we came up to the running Elvises, she turned back and left me recharged to run for a bit longer.   I was able to run fairly steadily after that - still taking very long walk breaks whenever I wanted them - and it wasn't long before I was in the homestretch on 112 Ave again.   There was no shade in this stretch.   The heat was baking me and a mosquito had somehow gotten into the top of my bra and bitten me (he paid for his crime with his life).  I was starting to get really out of it and my Nuun was running low.   Another lady wheezed to a stop near me and, sensing she was looking for someone to chat with, we walked together and talked races.  She told me about how this was her second half and that she had done San Diego a couple of months ago.  I told her I had a couple of friends who ran it with TNT and she said she had done hers with TNT, too - meaning she had been on the same team as V and Mary!  She totally remembered them and for a moment, me and this stranger (Jodie) had bonded.  I shared the story of my TNT experience and we walked to the entrance to Northlands Park - agreeing to run to the finish from that point.  

We started running together, but she quickly gasped and told me I was too fast and to just go on without her.  I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 2:46 exactly and, as I made my way through the finish chute to the medals, the volunteer was standing there reading to put the most amazing medal over my head.  I felt like an Olympian!  I had just run 29 kilometres and won a finishers medal for it.   And what a medal it was!  Wide ribbon.  Substantial medal.  This was no light bauble on a lanyard!  See for yourself!

and the Garmin (loved the new Garmin, light and comfy):

The time discrepancy is because of the potty stops)

Things to love about the Edmonton Half Marathon:
  • Very well planned
  • Decent Expo (this year - I imagine it can only get better in future years given how much better it was this year from last)
  • Well spaced water stations
  • Superb volunteers - very encouraging
  • Portapotties at every water station
  • Roving medics that moved along the route in a little utility truck
  • Real toilets and running water at start/finish (much nicer than visiting a portapotty at either of those points)
  • Awesome medal!
  • Friendly runners - so many people encouraging each other along the way.  It was refreshing.
  • Excellent post-race spread

Things that are Meh about the Edmonton Half Marathon:
  • Horrible race shirt - unisex, huge logo, just generally ugly
  • Unexciting race route
  • Not many spectators (though there were some very enthusiastic, elderly lady cheerleaders at one point)
  • Road quality - very uneven.

Things I learned running at the back of the pack:
  • It's a very lonely place to be.  In a half of this size - the middle of the pack is fairly dense and you are never far from another participant.  The back of the pack thins out quickly and, while you aren't weaving around many people, you are also very alone for the majority of the race.
  • Along that same vein - you miss out on the energy of being in a large race.  
  • Being passed by racewalkers really sucks.
  • Finding out that racewalkers can WALK faster than you can run really, REALLY sucks.
  • Some of the more inspiring stories are found at the back of the pack - people who are testing themselves.  People who are achieving something they never thought possible.  It is kind of amazing that way.
  • I won't run at the back again unless I absolutely am forced to...that's my biggest lesson.  There's nothing wrong with being back there - I just know now that the energy of the middle of the pack carries me when my own energy starts to wane.

MOMday: The Virtual Memory Box

I'm not a particularly sentimental person.   I try to not look backward too much because dwelling in the past has often been the root of so many issues I've had in life.  Arguably, both my and my ex-hubby's tendency to dwell backwards was likely the root cause of our divorce (amongst MANY other things).  So, last year, when I was culling through my "stuff", I came across my memory box.  A giant Rubbermaid bin of clippings and journals and tchotkes of my past that I simply could not let go of (well - aside from the little box in that bin that held the things from  my ex, that is).  It made me think about why a non-sentimental person like myself has such a huge bin of schtuff that I never look at.  

Am I holding onto it so I can one day share them with my kids and show them the things I did when I was young?

Am I holding onto it thinking that when I die, it will be a nice place for people to look into and see what I held dear?

Am I holding onto it all because I am just afraid to let it go?

I still don't have the answer.  The reality, however, is that that rubbermaid bin could be put to much better use than to hold a bunch of scrap paper.

That is when I realized it...I could keep the stuff without actually having to KEEP the stuff.  Duh - we live in a digital world.  Our music is digital.  Our books are digital.  Our movies are digital.  Why can't a memory box be digital?

For over a year, I have kept our family photo album on a Shutterfly share site.  It serves as a place to share our photos with our family and friends, as well as to be a backup of our photos in case anything happens to our computers.   I find great peace of mind in this and our families love that they have instant access to all of the latest photos of the girlies.   Since it is free to set up a Shutterfly share site - I went right in and created a second one for myself called "Cori's Memory Box".   It's going to take me a while to do it, but my intention is to scan all of those strips of paper in that memory box and then file it into my new virtual memory box. 

Honestly - I think it's a better solution than the Rubbermaid bin.

My decision to do this reminded me of a conversation that I had with my sister-in-law a few years ago.  She was struggling with the overwhelming amount of clutter that comes with 4 kids.  She told me how she has bins to put each kids school work in and she wanted to cull through them, but so much of it felt like something that should be kept for them to see one day.   I told her quite simply that the kids likely won't care about each little piece of paper she kept and it was taking up valuable real estate in their home.  Why not scan everything and store it all digitally - then she doesn't have to throw anything can all be kept for them and would take up next to no space in their house.  She thought it was an amazing idea (though I seriously doubt she ever went anywhere with it - she does have 4 kids, after all). 

Perhaps this should serve as a preemptive lesson to me.   Maybe my kids need their own virtual memory boxes where I can start to store everything for them now.  Once it was set up, I'd just need to add the new thing in as it is created or as the memory is made.  They may not care about the scribble they made when they were two, when they are 12...but right now they are darn proud of that scribble and I can only keep it on the fridge for so long.  Plus - by involving them from a very young age - they might actually embrace the process and not be stuck with giant rubbermaids of their own one day.

Off to Shutterfly now to make a couple extra share sites!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Edmonton Half Marathon 2011

Ok - no time to write a full race recap tonight.  I am soooo exhausted from running 29K total and then driving the 4 hours home.  But it will be up in a couple of days.

I just thought I'd post the highlights.
  • I ran 8K prior to the half so I could get in 29K for the day
  • It was really bloody hot out there (30*C day)
  • I was aiming for 2:45 to keep me nice and 2:47:17 (thanks to the sheer number of portapotties on course - score!) 
  • Ran near the back of the pack...won't be doing that again...
Fun fact: I did go my usual pace until the turnaround point, but then the heat and my brain decided that I should really stick to my 2:45 goal so I wouldn't finish dead.

and in the end...I got this lovely bauble for around my neck...not a bad way to do 29K in marathon training :)  I felt like an Olympian when they guy put it over my head :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Road Trippin'

Today, we are heading north.  Waaaaay north to the thriving metropolis of Edmonton...well - just west of Edmonton, actually.  The in-laws live in just outside of Stony Plain.

Betcha wish you could be me! 

I mean, who wouldn't want to be trapped in a car for 4 hours with two toddlers, two dogs and a hubby.   I'm trying to time the trip JUST RIGHT so the toddlers will sleep (AKA nap) the whole way there.  That is so not going to happen the way I wish it to.  Instead, I envision those two little voices, who are starting to get a pretty good grasp of the English language, screaming for food.  or stuffies,. or stickers. or shoes. or needing us to stop because they threw their lovies into the trunk with the dogs.  Or, my personal favourite, yelling at me to "STOP!  Go Away!".

The dogs aren't small dogs so they take up the entire trunk of our Forester...and one of them doesn't like anyone to be in her personal space so every 3 miles, one of us will shout "Shut it, Cali!" to keep her from snarling at poor Abner who really just wants to throw up back there (oh ya - did I mention that Cancerhound gets motion sick?).  

I'm hydrating for my 29K on we will need to stop every half hour so I can pee.  Good thing there are lots of little towns along the QE2 because there certainly aren't many rest stops.   Hubby is still sick so there is a good chance I'll be driving a large chunk of it (not really a problem for means those bathroom stops will happen on MY schedule hee hee).

Then we have the luggage.   With the above-mentioned doggies taking up the real estate in the back, that means the trusty ol' Thule gets to be loaded onto the roof.  We're hauling a little less stuff than when we made this trek last year...but there is still much to be packed into that sucker.   For example, my dream of not packing the playpen - dashed.  There is no way these guys are ready to sleep in a bed on their own yet...if we want any downtime after 8pm - they need to be contained in the playpens.  So, that gets loaded first and half of our cargo space is suddenly eaten.   Then around the playpen, an assortment of small overnight bags are packed in.  Then we have the pillows and blankets.   Let's not forget the dog food and bowls.   Luckily, I have a rule that travelling to Gramma's house means no packing any toys except those we need to sleep with.  Grammas should always have an assortment of toys.  We were also really smart and forced the grandparents to buy 2 umbrella strollers each so we never need to haul a stroller.  They also each have a playpen so we only need to bring one with us (a good thing too, since we never bought more than one :P)

That Thule holds a fair bit.  It also turns our little 4-banger SUV into a highway snail.   Definitely need to add travel time when that thing is on the roof.  By the time we reach our destination, we all feel like the wind has been pressing against ourselves the whole way and all we want to do it drop into a coma.   Until the girlies somehow end up being given something made of pure sugar the second we get there...while we watch them zing around the place, we will attempt to have narcoleptic conversations with family before finally excusing ourselves and falling face first, fully clothed onto the bed and falling asleep to the wailing of two toddlers who don't want to go to sleep yet.   And they've become really hard to ignore since they started addressing us directly...

Oh dammit - we totally forgot to bring the dog in while he was playing keep away in the dark on the 5 acres surrounding the house...does that mean we've freed up some cargo space for the ride home?  

But, it is totally worth it, in the end.   Hearing the girlies get so excited about going to see Gramma and Bappa (and after showing them photos and hearing them address them without being told which Gramma and Bappa's house they are going to).  Knowing that there will be grandparents there to play with the toddlers that they don't see as often as they'd like.  A gaggle of cousins to wear those toddlers out.  A giant slip n' slide put on the hill into the valley of the acreage.   A huge deck bordering on a giant forest. 

This could be a really fun weekend once we get past the "getting there" part.

Friday Reads: Unlimited by Jillian Michaels

Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional LifeI like Jillian Michaels as a trainer.  I really do.  I don't follow the Biggest Loser or whatever her other show is called.  I'm not allowed to watch "reality" TV because I tend to become too emotionally involved.  It's just not pretty.  But I do own a couple of her workout videos - 30 Day Shred and the Rip:60 workout she did - and I really like her no nonsense approach to fitness.  When I saw this book, I liked the premise of it but I didn't have high hopes for the content.   Something about celebrity trainers writing self help manuals just doesn't jive with me.   I still tried to keep an open mind about it.  

In Unlimited, Michaels tries to give you the tools you need to build an exceptional life.  The life we all deserve, as it were.   In page after cliche filled page, she spouts how we are only limited by our own minds and that if we can let go of anger, we can do amazing things.   As far as I can tell - she really has no qualification for some of the psychology she preaches..aside from a  lifetime of therapy and a mother who is a psychologist.   Many times throughout the book, I was hit by the sharp feeling that she was a patient who had suddenly decided she was an expert.   She fills the book with the inspirational quotes from famous figures and bases her plan for change around these.  

I started the book with the grandest intentions of following along - doing the exercises (I even started a journal to write everything in). By the time I hit the halfway point in the book, I admit I was skimming more than reading it (and the journal lay forgotten).

I am sure that this book would help give many people the boost they need to start in the right direction to changing their lives.  For me - it just felt like I'd heard it all before and it was ringing pretty hollow.  The cliches really got to me fairly quickly.   I finished it just in time for the library to claim it back into their ebook list and I am just really glad I didn't spend money on it. I don't feel it really gave a solid enough toolkit to work from to figure out any direction for my life.

To keep it in perspective, though, I have worked in career counselling and have had a bit of life experience that I have learnt a great deal from.   I know better ways and have a more logical brain than her techniques would ever be able to touch.  Not being cocky, here...I just have a better sense of self than I think the target audience for this book has.

If you need direction in your life - I do think there are better books and workbooks out there than this to help you.  In fact - in Canada, there are so many government agencies that provide much better guidance than this...and it's free and comes with the support of an actual person...not just some celebrity trainer who likes to name drop and peddle their own fame into a book contract.  I'll stick to her fitness videos and leave her books on the shelf, going forward.

I think I need to read fiction for a while...something light and fun....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Funnies

Just some mommy funnies to brighten your Thursday :)

And this one is totally me!   Well, the bladder part anyway...everything else (well - except the feet) totally shrunk after I was done being preggo and started being a running momma.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

I'm very sore this week.   Not as bad as I used to be after my first 3 half marathons...but sore nonetheless.  While I felt pretty good for most of my 27K on Saturday - the stiffness has definitely set in and my body knows I did something to it...and is trying to prevent me trying such silliness again.

Usually, I equate Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMS) with knowing I did something good for my body.  That little tight soreness after a strength workout usually makes me smile.  I really like it when that soreness is in my abs.  My legs, on the other hand...not so much. 

I just want to RUN right now...I want to strap on that new Garmin and put it through it's paces.  I was looking forward to every single run I had this week - leading up to my half in Edmonton - and this morning, I had to come to the realization that maybe I need to dial back a bit this week.  To save myself from myself, as it were.

I ran a speedy 5K last night.  Well - 32 mins and change.   I remember when 5K was a 38 min endeavour and how my 32 min finish in my first 5K race blew me away because I didn't think I had it in me (might be time to register for another timed 5K...just to see how fast I am now).  So a 32 min training 5k seems super speedy from that perspective.  It felt good to run it.  I tried to take a slightly different route that, if I'd taken the right entrance to the crescent, might have yielded a good alternate for me.   I felt like I was flying most of the time.  I also didn't have the alarm set on my watch so I took walk breaks ever couple of kilometres instead of at the 15 min mark.

It felt wonderful...until I started to get ready for bed that night...then the wave of stiffness washed over me and I was suddenly sore and exhausted.   This morning, I woke up with such sore quads and glutes that I am pretty much uncomfortable no matter how I sit, stand or move.  Well, hello there 27K run.  Guess I should have taken it a bit easier.  I'm suddenly realizing how marathon training can hurt...and am really grateful for taper in a couple short weeks :)

This bout of soreness has made me realize that I really do need to do the 29K this week and take a super easy week until the 32K super-beastly-long run on Sept 3rd.  That way, I will have 2 weeks to kill off any residual soreness before I tackle that challenge.  Look at me, being all smart and stuff.  

My Thursday run this week is going to be traded for some bike time and I will concentrate on stretching, resting, hydrating and carb-loading.  I plan to rock this 29K.  Any other tips y'all might have for killing DOMS would be greatly appreciated!

Note: I actually got a full night's sleep last night so I can no longer blame this 29K crap on sleep-deprived insanity...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Crazy, Messed-up Mommy

It was much easier to ignore my kids screaming before they started addressing us.

I think the lack of sleep is getting to me.  For the last few nights, Doodle has decided that 1am is snack time...only she won't admit it outright.  All she does is SCREAM and scream and scream and SCREAM.  It always ends the same way, though...she finally whispers "toast" and I make her toast, she devours it, chugs some water and then falls into a coma until morning.   If I try to make that toast at the start of the episode, is NOT what she wants and it gets thrown across the room.  So I sit for an hour waiting for that whisper.  The big problem, however (as if the lack of sleep wasn't enough) is that she managed to wake her sister in the process so I have two screaming who wants toast and just doesn't know it yet...and one who is tired and just wants to go back to bed...but not until her sister does.   Ah fun times.  Last night, it was the entire family sitting up at 2 am going through this episode.   Made me realize we may be in serious need of a night duty schedule for me and the hubs or we will never be guaranteed the freedom to sleep.

Really, though, these night interruptions may actually be driving me crazy.  I've been having silly thoughts like "Perhaps I should just run an extra 8K after that half marathon on Sunday and call it my 29K run".   It would just add an hour to my overall running time and I'd get a medal partway through the run...

and then I remember the steep, long hills that surround my in-laws acreage and think I may be insane to want to do 8K on that.

Then I realize - "Hey - the half is right in Edmonton...I could just run there"

and then I remember that I really don't know all.  there might be murderers there who prey on crazy, lost mommies....

Yep - the lack of sleep might be making me insane.  It's definitely got me crossing the border toward crazy, though...

Techy Tuesday: Garmin Forerunner 405CX with HRM

Garmin Forerunner 405CX GPS Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor (Blue)If you read Saturday's post about my long run, the topic of this week's Techy Tuesday shouldn't be much of a surprise.  I have a new gadget to share!  My trip to Costco ended up with me bringing home a birthday present.  Shhhh - no one needs to know that my birthday is still 3 months away...hubs and I tend to do this. Fun things come up and they tend to become gifts for the next big occasion.

Well, this year, my birthday prezzie is a shiny new Garmin.  A Garmin Forerunner 405CX.   Costco was selling them for only $199 (a $70 savings over what the Running Room sells them for).   What was wrong with my 201, you may be asking...well, nothing really.  It has been taking a bit longer to pick up the satellites lately and I've had a couple of instances where it didn't want to sync for me (though that might have been a daily mile thing).  Ultimately, though, I probably would have been perfectly happy with it until it died had I not seen this one.

Costco used to sell the Forerunner 305 and I really hated that style.   It has a ridge on the underside that dug into my wrist and I really have no clue how people with larger wrists can even wear them if it hurt my teeny wrists!   So, I knew I would never own that model.   But I have been drooling over the 405 and the 110 for their simple style and minimal bulk.  I knew that if I were to replace my Garmin - it would be with one of these two.  It was purely serendipity that these were in the store this weekend...really.

Ok - on to the unboxing.


What's in the box:
  • Garmin 405CX
  • 2 velcro wrist straps (to fit larger and smaller wrists than the built in rubber strap)
  • Strap changing tool
  • Heart Rate Monitor strap
  • ANT+ usb thingy
  • Charging clip
  • wall adapter (including 3 different prong styles which makes it ideal for travel!)
It doesn't come with the ANT+ foot pod, but I think I may invest in that on a later date...I like the idea of having it in case I am traveling and need to use the hotel gym.

My initial thoughts:

  • It is much different to set up than the 201 was.  I fiddled with it for about a half hour before I had to concede and go online in search of training videos.  Once I watched a couple of the ones on the Garmin YouTube Channel - I went back to playing with much better luck.
  • The touch bezel is weird at first, but it starts to make better sense fairly quickly.
  • I really like that it only has 2 buttons.  I have a really bad habit of hitting the wrong button when I mean to hit STOP on my 201.  This one has a start/stop button on top and a lap button on the bottom.  Easy peasy.  I expect my race times will be far more accurate for it :)
  • While I do have teeny wrists, I found that I can probably get away with the strap that it comes with instead of swapping it out for one  of the velcro ones.  Guess we'll see how I feel after a few more runs.
  • It is definitely lighter than my 201...and since it takes up less real estate on my arm, I find it more comfortable.
  • I can't figure out how to set up the alarms like I have them on my 201.  I just want it to beep every 15 mins.  No biggie, though, since I can always set up a workout on it to time my walk breaks.  I just don't like that bossy beep that tells me to run again after a minute :P
  • First run with it, I had issues with the GPS, but it was an operator issue and it picked up within a half a block.  Much faster than my old one.   I think I have it figured out now so it won't happen again
  • It also took me a while to figure out how to sync with the ANT+ usb stick, but once I downloaded the software for it - it synced right away (to both Garmin Connect and Daily Mile) and was super speedy.  I'm impressed.   A firmware download was also super speedy.
  • It feels weird to not power this thing off after each run...instead - it just becomes a wristwatch.  It is going to take some time for me to get the hang of turning the GPS on and off before and after each run.

I have only run with it once so far (my legs (27K) and the thermometer (27*C)  did not want to cooperate with me getting in a Sunday run this week) but I really like it so far.  I am actually looking forward to wearing it for my half this coming weekend in Edmonton.