Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Day

Today is the last day of 2011.  Which means we're spending tonight with some friends, enjoying the last big meal of the season, planning running relays for 2012, playing games and trying to keep our eyes open until 12:05am.

We'll see how well that goes.

Twenty-eleven was a roller coaster of a year.  Some periods felt calm and predictable but, as I sat on my couch thinking back on the last twelve months, I was surprised how up and down the road actually was.

I started blogging in early 2011 - on a whim.  I told no one for the first few weeks and simply wrote what was in my head, hit post and watched my stats to see what would happen.  I got a reader or two every day - nothing exciting.  Then I started looking for other type 1 runner bloggers out there.  I found their blogs, made a few comments and they found mine.  Along the way, I made a few friends.  Scully was the first and, after exchanging a few emails, it wasn't long before we decided to meet up in person.  Since then, we've trained together, shared diabetic tips and complained about everything diabetes together.  Jeff is coming to Hamilton to run Around the Bay in March so we'll get to meet up too.  Three type ones in one building - watch out world!  Blogging opened up a whole new world for me and I'm so glad I listened to the little voice in my head to try it.

In 2011, I decided to try running all the way around the bay.  It was a tough haul - training for 30k in the Canadian winter.  Not for the faint of heart to be sure.  I survived the training and I survived the race.  I learned a lot about myself as a runner.  I also learned a lot about long distance running and diabetes.

In April, Doug and I went to Boston.  He ran the Boston marathon for the third time and I was inspired to try my hand at 42.2k. After the race we galavanted around Boston and Cape Cod.  I discovered that I love oysters and I was reminded how much more peaceful I feel when I'm by the ocean.

The summer of 2011 was consumed with marathon training.  The schedule was posted in the kitchen and it served as my guide, my motivation, my conscience and my ass-kicker.

I took it down in October - mere weeks before the race.  I was sidelined with a stress fracture and would not be running the 2011 Niagara Falls International Marathon.  Before I took it down, I snapped a photo.  To remind me of how close I came to that start line and to serve as inspiration should I decide to try again.

Despite a gruelling running schedule, I was able to squeeze a few other activities into my summer.  We went to Gravenhurst for a few days - to celebrate my birthday as well as the fact that we survived our second Simcoe Shores ultra distance relay.

Simcoe Shores finish line. 

Enjoying the breeze on the Seguin. 

I learned a lot this year.  I learned about friendship and I learned about death.  I learned that life throws curveballs and to never take things for granted.  I learned to swim and I learned to sit patiently with ice packs on my legs when all I wanted to do was run.  I went to cheer my friends at Niagara Falls and discovered that I did have the strength to watch the race I was supposed to run. 

Two weeks later, I cheered Doug on as he ran the Hamilton marathon.  

The next morning, I went to the pool at 6am, swam two kilometres and realized that I was ok with not running. 

Thank you everyone. For following along as I muse about life.  For leaving comments.  For understanding when I take a week off and don't write a word.  

Thank you for being there. 

Here's to 2012! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Medical Waltz

My life sometimes feels like one giant medical soap opera with doctors parading in and out on an almost weekly basis.  I sat down to write about my bizarre gait analysis appointment and realized that I completely forgot to write about my equally bizarre ear nose and throat appointment from last week.

Good lord!

So grab your coffee, sit back and prepare to learn all about what's going on in my body - from top to bottom.

First - the ear nose and throat appointment.

For those of you who don't know (or remember) - back in August, when I was running long long distances, I began to experience a weird thing after running about 2 1/2 hours or so.  My ears would begin to plug up and, by 3 hours, I could hardly hear.  By 3 1/2 hours, I was pretty much completely deaf.  I'd stop running and it would go away within 10 minutes or so.

I asked at the diabetes centre but they had no idea so I was referred to an ear/nose/throat doctor.  December was the first appointment they had so I finally got in last week.

The first thing they did was check my hearing.  I immediately got nervous because I have no idea how good (or bad) my hearing is.  With sight, it's pretty obvious if you can or cannot read something but with hearing - it's hard to know what you're not hearing...cause you can't hear it.  So they put me into a silent, tomb-like little room and made me respond to beeps, repeat words and do other fun things.  Afterwards, I was informed that I have above-average hearing in all ranges.  Yay! That might explain why I'm constantly turning down the radio and why I absolutely abhor noisy places of any kind.  And why I can't concentrate on a conversation if there's background noise.  Or why I hate restaurants with televisions.  Or loud cell phones...

It's either my superhuman hearing or I'm just really cranky pants and overly sensitive....

Anyway, they poked and prodded.  They checked my ears, my nose, my throat.  They asked a barrage of questions and, at the end, I was told that they have absolutely no idea why my ears plug up.

The best they could do was say "it's probably a build-up of pressure".  No suggestions for how to avoid it.  No idea whether it was causing any damage or not. They just told me not to worry about it and, as long as it didn't bother me, I could keep running.  Come back in a year for a follow-up hearing test.  So I'm no further ahead other than I now know how well I can hear.

On to the gait analysis.

Dr. Prince, the guy who ordered my bone scan and who told me I had a stress fracture, referred me for a gait analysis to see if they could figure out why I'm prone to shin splints.

I received a letter of instructions in the mail.  Bring comfy clothes (check).  Bring your running shoes (check).  Bring your work shoes (ummm...those are my running shoes).  I showed up with my bag of stuff and slightly elevated blood sugar in case I had to run for a long time.

I didn't run a step.

She had me take off my socks, shoes and stand up.

Aha!  (she actually said aha!).  You have a very pronounced deformity in your feet.

The first thought that popped into my head was "deformity?!? do we even use that word anymore?".

I have very flat feet - I always have.  They had me in arch supports as a child but apparently these things don't fix themselves.  So I have flat feet. Long, elegant, pretty flat feet - with red nail polish!

She checked my flexibility.  She had me lie down and painted lines down the back of my ankles and heels.  Then she made me stand up and showed me how her straight line was now angled. She made me walk and then announced that my deformity was worse on my right side when I stood but then became, and I quote, very very bad on my left when I walked.

Very + bad + deformity = a remediation class in appropriate language.

How about:  your overpronation is much more pronounced on your left side when you walk.  That sounds a little nicer non?  

Anyway, I got over the language and listened to what she had to say.  Apparently my deformity (ok, I didn't quite get over the language) makes me very prone to shin splints and stress fractures.  She prescribed orthotics to help correct the problem.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.  Not sure I want to correct one problem if it might result in another as I change my gait.  Not sure I want to start wearing orthotics since they don't fix the problem, they just make me reliant on a $500 piece of equipment.  Not sure I want to get them since there's no guarantee that they'll fix anything. Not sure I want to base my decision on the fact that she looked at my feet and painted lines on my heels.  What if my shin splints aren't caused by my feet at all - but by weak hips?  Or tight calves?  Or a myriad other things working together to create the perfect storm.  She didn't even watch me run for goodness sakes!

So I'm taking a few days to think about it.  To talk to my running support team.  To wait to hear back from my blogger friends - what say you folks?

Isn't it funny that a one hour appointment can find nothing wrong with my ears but a five minute 'gait analysis' can completely diagnose the cause of my shin splints?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Didn't I Learn This Already?

I must be getting better...

...the loads of laundry are on the rise!

Swimming does not create much laundry.  One towel every second day needs to be washed.  Bathing suits and goggles need only be rinsed.  Other than that, there's not much to it.

Running on the other hand requires lots of laundry - especially if you're a sweaty Betty like I am.  Even a 30 minute walk/run results in drenched pants, socks, long sleeved shirt, jacket, gloves and hat.  So a full load of laundry is required every time I pull on my running shoes.  My schedule has me 'running' two days in a row with one day off before two more days on.  So I'm doing a load of laundry a night just to keep the clothes clean.


I had forgotten how much laundry it took to keep me running.

I had also forgotten how much thinking went into running.  Pre-planning basal adjustments.  Eating the right amounts at the right time.  Carrying food.

Apparently I have a very short-term memory because I no longer remember how I used to adjust my insulin.  I never wrote it down because I was doing it so regularly that it felt like second nature.  Apparently one does forget these things so now I have to relearn what used to be instinctive.

Swimming, as it turns out, is ridiculously easy on my blood sugars.  So much so that the two juice boxes I dutifully place pool side are looking a little worn out.  Nine weeks of swimming three times a week means that I've been to the pool about 27 times.  Not once have a I had a low blood sugar.  Nothing even close to a low.

I've been 'running' four times now and I've had one low while running and two lows immediately after running.

I think I was made to be a swimmer.

Too bad I love running too much to give it up without a fight.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A New Skill

When I think back on the last year - I have mastered a lot of new skills.

I have mastered the art of walking in high heel sandals.

I have mastered the balancing act of keeping blood sugars in range when running for 3 1/2 hours - both in the cold days of March and the sweltering heat of August.

I mastered the art of blogging (I think).

I have sorta figured out the art of applying eye makeup.  For those of you who only know me as a makeup-free tree hugger - forgive me. I did have a lot of fancy events this fall.

I learned how to design my own website.

I learned how to swim...properly.

But I think that the most bizarre skill I mastered this year was the ability to cough underwater.

Yes folks, I can cough sous l'eau.

Why did I learn this skill you ask? Because I was getting a little sick (and embarrassed) of coming to a dead stop in the middle of the lane every time a drop of water caught in my throat and I had to cough.

People looked at me funny and I don't like that!

It never occurred to me that I could cough underwater until my friends Erika and Klari were talking about it.  Erika was complaining about having to cough underwater again (again??!).  I pretended to sympathize but my brain was too busy wondering how that was possible.

So last Friday I tried it.  When I turned my head to breathe and a rogue droplet tickled my throat I made myself keep swimming.  I made myself put my face back into the water and...cough.

It was surprisingly easy - and effective.

My throat cleared, the droplet was expelled, and I was able to keep swimming sans problème.

On Monday morning, I coughed underwater about ten times.  Each time worked perfectly.

I no longer get funny looks from fellow swimmers as I bolt upright in the middle of the lane.  But I wonder what the lifeguards think as the girl who never wears a swim cap goes by and huge bubbles randomly burst forth from her head?

I guess it's better than some of the other options...

Monday, December 19, 2011


It's hard to believe that it's only been ten days since my sister's wedding.

It's a little shocking how much of an emotional roller coaster life can be sometimes.

I spent a lot of time with my family last week.  My mom and I had several long talks and we spent a lot of time talking about health.  How precarious is can be.  How ridiculous it seems that some people take so little care of themselves and seem to live forever while others try very hard and are felled by seemingly random illnesses or events.

We decided that, even though there are no guarantees in life, we're never going to stop trying to take care of ourselves.  I'd rather be fit and healthy and feeling good for a shorter period of time than live a long time feeling awful.

So, despite the roller coaster that last week was, I kept up my swimming, my back to running schedule and my healthy eating.

It's a new week.  By the time friday comes, I will have graduated to running 8 minutes, three times in a half hour.  That's 24 minutes!!  Pretty impressive non?

Now if only I can find the time to get my Christmas shopping done.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Six Minutes

Yesterday I walked 8 minutes and then ran 2.

I did it again.

And again.

For thirty minutes.

It was Day 4 of my recovery program and I have now graduated to six minutes (total) of running.

Not much but I doubled my three minutes from Monday and, within ten days, I will (hopefully) be up to 27 minutes of running (with a few walk breaks in between).

It's bizarre how quickly things change.

My last good run was back in August and I ran 30 kilometres in about 3 hours and 20 minutes.  I felt tired but strong and confident.

Last night, I felt a little overwhelmed with two minutes.  It went fine and no body parts acted up but my body felt out of practice.  My breathing was ok, my legs held up, but I no longer felt like I could run forever.

I could run two minutes - but could I run ten?

I've kept my fitness up and have become a strong swimmer who swims 80 lengths three times a week.  When it comes to running though, I no longer know what I can and can't do.  So I'm hesitant.  I'm aware of every feeling of discomfort, no matter how mild.  I feel how weak my legs seem to be after so many weeks in the pool.

If only I could run with my arms rather than my legs - I'd be all set!

While I'm confident that it will come back - it's humbling how quickly I've lost my runner's edge.

If someone had told me in July that, by December, I'd be relearning how to run and I'd be a 6k a week swimmer, I'm not sure I would have believed them.

And yet here I am - in my running shoes, ironman hat with a faint smell of chlorine on my arms - trying my best to rejoin the road warriors.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's TIME!!

Friday night, at my sister's wedding, I danced for pretty much three hours straight wearing high heels.  I don't think I've worn heels for three hours straight in years - never mind wearing them for nine hours and dancing in them for 3.

I figured that, best case, I'd be limping around on Saturday.  Worst case, I'd be on the couch with ice packs and ibuprofen.

Surprise!  Everything felt fine.

On Sunday, things still felt fine so I decided that Sunday was the day.

Day One of the Stress Fracture Return To Running Program.

Day One - walk 30 minutes.  If everything feels fine during and after, move on to Day Two.  If not, redo Day One the next day.

Everything felt fabulous. My legs were so glad to be moving on pavement again and my lungs were grateful for the fresh air.  Swimming is great but the pool air leaves a little something to be desired.

Monday was Day 2 of the training.  I had to walk 9 minutes and then run one.  Repeat three times for a total of 30 minutes.  I was busy, really busy, at work all day so I didn't think too much about it.  Selena and I chatted a bit about the fact that I would be running (albeit only one minute) for the first time in almost 10 weeks but I didn't feel much other than mild excitement.  We also talked about what to wear.  Running clothes would be too cold since I'd only be running for three minutes out of 30.  Winter walking attire would be too warm for the running parts.

I settled on winter walking snuggliness and figured I'd take the heat rather than be too cold.  It's going to be trickier when I'm walking for only half the time but we're taking this day by day so day two = a big coat, my bright red Olympic mittens and my Ironman hat that Michelle and John gave me last year.  I figure it would be good motivation!

I started walking and things felt fine.  Checked my watch and saw that three minutes had passed.  Then five.  Then six.  My stomach started churning and I was hit with a mild case of nerves.  Three more minutes until I try running.  What if it hurts?  What if I can't run?  What if what if what if....

Before full blown panic set in - my watch said 9:00 so I just started running.  The first step felt fine.  So did the second.  I trotted along waiting for some dramatic pain to suddenly materialize.  Sixty seconds later, I stopped running, resumed walking and felt 100% fine.


The first hurdle has been overcome.

It doesn't mean that things won't feel bad when I start running five minutes, or ten minutes but the odds feel a little more in my favour when I can run, even for a minute without pain.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Big Day

My sister is getting married today.

Our blessing are chosen.

Our speeches are ready.

Our dresses are bought.

Our shoes are broken in (sort of).

The secret tasks we've been assigned are accomplished.

Our nails are done.

Hairstyles are still up in the air.

Makeup - well, let's hope it all works out.

Timing - not sure if we can pull it all off but we'll try.

I have larabars, cliff bars and bananas ready to go.

Comfy shoes to pull on when my feet start to cry.

I'm switching from the insulin pump to the needle 'cause my dress won't hide a pump and, just for one day, I don't want to have to think about it.

My sister will be beautiful.

Her groom will be perfectly perfect.

And it will be over much too soon.

Stay tuned for pictures!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Less is More

There's a new guy at the pool.

Two new guys actually.

They both look quite fit and, when I spotted them slipping into my lane last week, my first thought was - oh, crap, I'm going to have to swim fast to keep ahead of these two.

Please understand that I am under no illusion that I am an Olympic swimmer.  I am sure that there are hundreds of adjustments I could make to improve the grace and efficiency of my stroke.   I know I am faster than a lot of people but I am also slower than plenty of them.  I'm a middle of the pack'er in the pool.

That being said, I'm not exactly one to judge other people in the pool.  So, normally, I don't.  

The first guy was a pretty decent swimmer.  He's about my speed and, though he stops more than I do, he's fairly consistent and strong.

His sidekick is driving me bananas!

There's a lot of splashing going on.

A hell of a lot of splashing.

If he was swimming in the ocean, he'd be attracting sharks from miles around thinking that there was a wounded humpback whale making a huge commotion.

I should feel bad for him because he's wasting so much effort splashing the water that he's hardly moving forward.  A few simple tricks would make a huge difference for him.

I cannot feel bad however because halfway across the pool he gets exhausted and just gives up.  Flips over on his back and drifts to the other end.

Despite the fact that a girl in blue goggles is bearing down on him.


I am 100% supportive of new swimmers.  Hell, I was new just two months ago.  I get the exhaustion, the tired arms, the panting for breath halfway across the pool.

I have 0% tolerance for people who do not show consideration for others in the pool.  Splash all you want but, if someone is right behind you, pull over and let them pass.  Don't drift on your back and force them to come to a halt half way across the pool because there's no way to get around them.

Last week they were in my lane.

This week they showed up and hopped into Mary's lane beside me.  They both waved at me.  I gave a half smile back and told Mary she could join me in my lane.  Didn't take long for her to take me up on that offer.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Setting My Sights

My marathon training program has long since been removed from the kitchen chalkboard.

Today, my new training program was posted in its place.

While not as exciting as a marathon training plan, it's arguably a lot more important.  It's my stress fracture recovery plan.

If all goes well, it will take me from one minute of running to 40 minutes of running in six weeks.

Since I won't officially be starting this plan until Saturday (post-wedding craziness), the plan will take me to January 21st.  If all goes well.

If all goes well has become my new running mantra.

Working up to 40 minutes of running by the middle of January means that it's not very likely that I'll be running all the way Around the Bay in March.  Too much too soon is the best way to end up back on the disabled list.

So I wave goodbye to my 2nd Bay run and set my sights on a spring half marathon.

I haven't picked one yet.  There are two in Israel at the end of March - one in Tel Aviv and one in Jerusalem.  Either one would make for a fun excuse to visit my sister.  Sadly my vacation time doesn't kick in until April 1st so that won't work.

But.....there is a half in Montréal at the end of April.

Montréal en Avril - c'est une idée super agréable!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Timing is Everything

Technically I can start running any time now.

Any day.

Any time I want.

All I have to do is pull on my shoes and head out the door.

The timing, unfortunately, is not ideal.

My little sis is getting married in 4 days.

Our days are filled with a flurry of phone calls and texts that I try to answer between meetings and classes at work.

Evenings are filled with a flurry of activities, last minute details and pre-wedding dinners.

I can finally run and yet I have no time to run.

My life is not my own this week.

I am 100% ok with that.

But regular blog entries and a return to running are not guaranteed this week.

My goal is to survive, not get sick and enjoy the ride.

But next week the running shoes are coming out damn it!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Different Kind of Training

T-minus 8 days until my sister's wedding.

That means that my parents' house has become a flurry of activity and my sister is running from last minute dress fitting to hair trials to hall visits.  Everybody is crazy busy.

I have several jobs to do too.  Some have been tasked by my younger sister.  My mother.  The bride-to-be.

Some are top secret.

Some are not.

But the most bizarre thing I've been doing in the build up to the big day has to do with my shoes.

Because, you see, one cannot wear running shoes with a sexy black dress.

No matter how much they want to.

Apparently it would be somewhat of a fashion faux pas.

So I've had to buy fancy shoes.

This is what I ended up with.  

I'm actually pretty proud of myself for a) surviving the great shoe search b) not buying the first pair I found and c) getting a pair that met all of my requirements - silver, sandal, relatively comfy with not too much of a heel. 

Not exactly my Brooks Adrenalines but I think they'll look a little better with the dress.

So now I'm in training.  Sandal training.

Every night after work I change into my comfy clothes and pull on my new sandals.  The first night I lasted about 30 minutes before I took them off.  The second night - 2 hours.  The third - I kept them on from the moment I got home until I went to bed.  

My goal is to bond with these puppies so that, by next Friday, I can walk beautifully in them.  I can go up and down stairs without holding on to the banister for dear life.  And I can wear them for 12 hours without having a completely breakdown. 

The things I do for my little sis.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Licence to Try

Exactly eight weeks after I hung up my running shoes - I have been given licence to run. 

Well - actually - I have been given licence to try to run.  

Geoff checked my calf, asked me a pile of questions and said that things sound like they're in pretty good shape.  There's a tight muscle running down the back of my calf but it's much better than it was.  

Plus, other than the achy pain I felt after wearing the wrong shoes (i.e. shoes that were not running shoes) to the mall and walking around for two hours, I have had no pain in almost two weeks. 

All good signs. 

So I get to try to run. 

Geoff will be emailing me a safe return from a stress fracture running program.  It's based on a combination of minutes of running + how quickly I recover from each run. 

Sharp pain = stop running 

Bad pain = stop running

Aches and pains from not having run for two months = keep running. 

How far I run depends on how long it takes for the aches and pains to go away. 

In other words, if I run on a Monday and feel fine by the Tuesday I can run again on Wednesday and increase the number of minutes.  

If I run on a Monday and feel pretty sore on Tuesday, I run the same number of minutes on Wednesday. 

And, if I run on a Monday and feel really really sore on Tuesday, I reduce the number of minutes on Wednesday or, if it's really bad, I don't run at all.


Yeah, me neither. 

I'll feel better when I see the schedule. 

Apparently he and I will be texting a lot over the next few weeks as I report back after every run and he gives feedback.  Between Doug, Geoff, Janice and my running friends, the support I have had through this journey has been pretty incredible. 

Now I just have to see if there's any time left in my schedule for running.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Does anyone else have crazy nightmares when their blood sugar spikes during the night?

Sunday night, my sister arrived from Israel and landed in Toronto.  My parents picked her up and they stopped at our house for a late dinner on the way home.  Dinner was even later than expected due to a nasty headwind that delayed the flight by 1 1/2 hours.  No big deal but it meant that I took insulin about an hour before going to bed.  Not a good thing when you consider that it takes 4 hours for the insulin to completely disappear from my system.

Basically that meant that I was going to sleep without really knowing how my blood sugar was doing.

Right before bed, it was 5.4.  That seemed ridiculously low considering that I had three more hours of insulin left.  So I had three fig newtons, crossed my fingers and went to bed.

I fell fast asleep and then spent the next three hours running away from this.

and this

My nightmares were absolutely terrifying and cruelly realistic.  I could smell the dragons and feel their body heat as they hunted me.  All the next day I could still hear their high pitched screams as they plunged out of the sky in full attack mode. 

Finally I wrenched myself from sleep and, once my heart stopped pounding, I reached for my glucometer. I was 12.2.  Not ridiculously high by any means but if I hang out anywhere near 12 or above for too long - the nightmares start.

I took about half the recommended dose of insulin that my pump suggested and went back to sleep.  

Three hours later I was 3.4.  How did I know that?  

Because the dragons were back.  

Fire breathing, high pitched screaming, mind-numbingly terrifying dragons. 

I also have nightmares when my sugar drops too quickly. 

I had a juice box and went back to sleep. 

Two blissfully peaceful hours of sleep and then my alarm went off.  

It was 5:30am, my blood sugar was a perfect 6.6 and I had 80 lengths of a pool to swim.  

Up and at 'em girlie - the pool waits for no one. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Curling Havoc

When it comes to wreaking blood sugar havoc, running takes the cake.

It wins hands down in terms of how quickly and dramatically it impacts my numbers.

Wanna know what sport comes in close second?




Hell no, swimming makes my blood sugar go up not down.

The second place winner in the blood sugar games is....

....wait for it...


Yup, curling.

The sport where I spend most of my time standing around, leaning on my broom, waiting to do something.

But when I have to do something, man, it's hard.

Bent in half over the broom sweeping my little heart out - it's aggressively difficult work.  Kind of like running the 100m dash.  From nothing to all out to nothing again.

Repeat about 36 times.

The first few times we curled, I tossed a few bags of fruit chews in my pocket out of habit more than anything.

Then I had a few lows in the middle of games.  There I was standing out there on the ice, dripping with sweat and gulping back handfuls of fruit flavoured candies in between sweeping frenzies.  It's crazy.

This weekend we played on Friday night and then practiced on Sunday.  Lows both times.

I think I'm going to have to start lowering my basal rates 1 1/2 hours before I get on the ice.

Who knew?

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Rumour Mill

As I mentioned yesterday - it's been seven weeks since my last run.

That also means that it's been seven weeks since I've run with any of my runner friends.  Add to that the few weeks when I was injured but still hobbling along on my own and it has probably been close to three months since I've seen many of them.  That's a quarter of a year.

Some of those runners read Running on Carbs so they have a sense of what's been going on in my world.  A few of them are friends so I see them regularly and a few I curl or swim with.  So I'm still in the loop - but only sort of.

I hear snippets of how people are doing and they hear snippets about me.

Which leads to conversations like that one I had with my friend Judy from Runners' Edge.

We ran into each other at the mall.

She said hi, gave me a big hug and said she had heard I was now training for triathlons.

She didn't ask "hey, are you training for a triathlon?"  She said "I heard you're training for triathlons now". 

Ummm.....?? I'm swimming - yes that's true.  I cycle - also true.  I will soon be running again.  I've toyed with the idea of trying a tri but as for officially committing - well I'm not quite at that stage yet.

So we laughed about the craziness of doing three sports one after the other and agreed that running was definitely the hardest of the three.  And then she told me that she was thinking of trying a triathlon next summer.

Guess that makes two of us eh?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


It's been seven weeks since my last run and there's only one more week until the magical eight week healing period is over.

I was planning to write weekly injury updates during my two month running hiatus but then swimming became so much fun that I focused on that instead.  

Two weeks ago I did not feel ready to run.  Things still didn't feel 'right' in my calf although I was hard pressed to describe the symptoms.  I just knew I wasn't ready yet.

Last week, I was still a little hesitant at the idea of running.  I wanted to...but not yet.  

This week - my body has gone crazy.  It is raring to go.  It wants to run to the car.  It wants to spring up the stairs.  It feels like I'm constantly holding myself back from sprinting down the street. I feel like a puppy waiting not so patiently by the door for her walk.

Even better is that I don't feel anything at all in my calf.  I haven't felt anything remotely out of the ordinary in a week.  Not a twinge.  Not a tweak.  Nothing.

How nice is that??

I'm behaving myself.  I see Janice on Friday and Geoff next Tuesday so I want to get their expert opinions before I do anything. I won't run until I get the official approval and, even when I can start, it has to start off really really slowly.

We're talking run a minute then walk a minute - repeat ten times and go home.

Not exactly 25k but still - I might be able to run next week!

OMIGOD I'm so excited.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Love Story

I started writing Running on Carbs back in January - kind of on a whim.

One early January morning, I was checking email at work and I received an email from another agency that encouraged me to read David Hingsburger's blog.  I had heard of Dave but had never read his blog.  Until that day I had, to be honest, never read anyone's blog.  I clicked on the link, read, was inspired and started thinking...

I like to write.

I have lots of things in my life that would provide some writing inspiration.

Why the hell not?

Dave was on Blogger so I copied him and signed up. I picked a standard template (remember the red?), created a tagline and Running on Carbs was born.

The whole process probably took less than an hour.

When I started, I figured I would write mostly about diabetes and running because those were two things that were pretty significant in my life.  They were also topics that allowed me to share a lot of thoughts and struggles without delving too much into my personal life.  Because, believe it or not, I'm a pretty private person.

I choose carefully who I share things with and I keep my cards close to my chest.  I have a public side and a private side.  And they don't often meet.

I am also conscious about sharing information about other people.  I could write all sorts of blogs about what happens at home but that would be completely disrespectful to Doug who is also a very private person.  So I write about things that are fairly benign and I respect, as much as I can, his privacy too.

How's that for a long winded introduction to today's blog?

Today's blog is about a wedding.

My sister's wedding to be exact.

The middle sister is supposed to be rebellious, adventurous, courageous, and independent.  She is all of those.  She is also beautiful, talented, hilarious, strong, vulnerable and wonderful in more ways than I can possibly describe.

She has had quite the journey in her 33 years.  Her journey to find happiness and love has not been an easy one. She has travelled the world, learned several foreign languages, studied in schools across Canada and the world, tried more scary foods than most of us will ever try and filled her passports with more stamps than I can count.

She is an adventurer - full of passion, independence, love, kindness, talent and strength.  And she is also an emotional woman who needed to find someone who could love her independence and stubborn streak while also nurturing her gentle heart, encouraging her endeavours, and supporting her when she needs support.

Finding someone to fill those shoes has taken her all over the world and it ended, eventually, in Israel.

It was quite a journey but she found him.

And, in a few short weeks, she will marry the love of her life.

Folks, I have watched a lot of movies in my time and have read a lot of books.  Love stories are everywhere and many of them melt our hearts, inspire us and have us leaving the theatre with tears in our eyes.

My sister has lived that love story.  Tears have been shed, hearts have been stretched, broken, and healed again.  I watched her struggle, hope, despair, hope again and finally, love.

Two people, from different countries, cultures, customs have found each other.  It has not been easy but they made it work.  Not only did they make it work - they taught us all that love really can conquer everything.

She comes home this weekend.  He arrives a week later.  His family arrives a few days afterwards.

And then, in front of everyone who loves them almost more than they can bear, they will marry.

I will stand behind her.  Her proud older sister with tears in her eyes.

Love is different for everyone.  It is often private.  It is often personal.

But sometimes it inspires the world.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Half Ironman Craziness

I think, after six weeks of swimming, I can officially call myself a swimmer.

I'm not sure what the official criteria is but I have made up my own set of fairly strict standards and I now meet some of them - most of the time.

  • I can swim across the pool without drowning or requiring third party intervention of any kind.
  • I put my goggles on right side up most of the time.  I don't know if there is a real difference when they're upside down but the Nike logo looks funny so that's enough to make me double check when I put them on. 
  • I no longer forget things at home (like my underwear or shampoo) and I no longer leave things at the pool (like my goggles, flip-flops or bathing suit)
  • I now know how long I've been swimming without needing to look at the clock because I have figured out the lifeguard rotation.  They rotate chairs every 15 minutes.  Every time they move, I have to have swum 20 lengths of the pool.  It keeps me moving! 
  • Other swimmers recognize me even with my goggles on and when my friends arrive they stand at the edge of my lane because they recognize my swim style.  Kind of like knowing a runner by their gait.  (the fact that there are juice boxes at the end of my lane may also be a clue to who I am but still...)
  • People who were faster than me a month ago are no longer faster than me. 
  • I can breathe! Back and forth across the pool I go and I hardly ever lose my breathing rhythm anymore. 

So I am officially a swimmer.

The other crazy thing I've discovered - and by crazy I mean that it just confirms the fact that my body seems to thrive on things that other people find kinda painful - is that I think I'm a long distance swimmer.

I know I'm a long distance runner.  I dislike running pretty much any distance under 10k because it never really starts feeling good until then.  After 10k my body just magically changes from forcing myself to run to not wanting to stop. My favourite distances are 12-25k - anywhere in there makes me happy.

Every morning when I start swimming things feel kinda hard.  I'm out of breath, my arms and legs feel sore and tired and I'm stopping every 50 metres.  The first 20 lengths of the pool are like that.  The next 20 start feeling better.  During the final 40 my body suddenly finds its rhythm and my mind actually starts to wander.  I don't think about breathing - I just do it.  My body no longer feels tired, it just swims merrily along and no longer wants to stop.

Did you do the math in that last paragraph?

Yep, I'm now swimming 80 lengths of the pool.  That is 2000 metres my friends - 2 kilometres! I tried it last Friday and it went really well.  I did it again yesterday and managed to finish in 55 minutes.  I could hardly do 60 lengths in 55 minutes a few weeks ago.

Just in case anyone was wondering, most triathlons require you to swim 750m.

The half ironman swimming distance is 2.0km.

I know I can run a half marathon.

So now I just have to triple the distance I can do on a bike and I'm all set.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just One Of The Crowd

I met some cool people this weekend.  Some were athletes.  Some were moms.  Some were high school or university students.  One was six years old with a green belt in Tai Kwon Do and another was a lawyer by day and a jazz singer by night.

All have one thing in common.

All have Type 1 diabetes.

Mount Sinai Hospital hosted the Annual Type 1 Diabetes Update on Saturday.  Doug and I made the trip up to see what it was all about.

It was pretty cool actually.  Walking into a room full of diabetics is pretty awesome.  Little kids, seniors and everyone in between was there - rocking their insulin pumps.  In fact, sitting in the auditorium during the presentations, I kept hearing the familiar beep of an insulin pump and it felt oddly comforting.

One guy I met, a marathoner and triathlete, was diagnosed two weeks ago.  We chatted for a bit and I assured him that yes, he can still do the things he loves but no, he probably won't go for runs or bike rides without stuffing his pockets full of carbs.  We laughed about how much easier it is for girls to have diabetes - they can stuff all their paraphernalia into their purses.  What do guys do with all their stuff anyway??

Animas was a major sponsor so they had a cool display with their new insulin pumps.  The pumps were submerged in large tubes of water - a pretty effective demonstration of their waterproofness.  It got me thinking.  When I had to decide on the pump I was going to get two and a half years ago - I weighed the options.  Here's what it came down to: Animas was water proof and Medtronic had the option of a continuous glucose monitor.  I didn't really see how waterproof was important given my lifestyle at the time and a continuous glucose monitor sounded pretty useful.

Two and a half years later - I am a swimmer - and I really dislike the CGM so I never use it.  Oh well, by the time I can get a new pump in another 2 1/2 years, the ones I saw on Saturday will be pretty outdated too.  Wonder what the newest features will be then?

Saturday was a pretty empowering day.  It helped me appreciate how important it is to find people like me.  I hang out with runners and photographers - people like me.  I have seen first hand how fun it can be to talk to people who understand running lingo and photography terms. Before this year, I had never met another person with type 1 diabetes.  I did not know that the DOC existed.  I had lots of people who understood lots of parts of me but, when it came to diabetes, I was pretty much alone.

Not anymore!

Hanging out with people with diabetes was pretty cathartic and it's so nice to feel 'normal'.  In fact, that's the most important lesson I took from Saturday - I'm ok.  I'm doing most things right and, when things go wrong anyway, that's normal.  Every story that someone told had all of us nodding our heads and laughing in unison.  Yep - we understood each other.

That's pretty powerful.

Oh, and guess who Scully and I got to meet?

The famous Kerri from Six Until Me

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Of Two Minds

I'm usually a one topic a day kinda blogger.  I like exploring one thought rather than jumping all over the place.

With that preamble out of the way, I'm happy to announce that today's blog is a two-topic blog.  Partly because there are two things I want to write about and partly because I have a dinner/concert date with my mom tonight and don't know if I'll have time to write a blog for Friday.  This may be it for the week.

Part one: Diabetes + Swimming = blood sugar weirdness.

When I started swimming six weeks ago (yep, it's been that long already) I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of blood sugars.  I had done a good job at mastering (as much as that's possible) running and cycling but swimming was an entirely different beast. Since I was swimming at 6am, I knew I didn't want to wake up at 4:30am to change my basal insulin.  I figured I would compensate for having potentially too much insulin in my system by eating a snack.

Week one, I ate a date or two before each swim.  After being in the pool for an hour, my blood sugar climbed by 4-5.

Week two, I ate one date before each swim.  My blood sugar climbed by 4-5.

Week three, I didn't eat anything.  My brain told me that was crazy but my numbers told me that made sense. My blood sugar after an hour in the pool climbed by 2-3

Weeks four and five were the same.  I was still in the pool for an hour but I kept increasing the number of lengths I swam so I figured I would start seeing a drop in my blood sugar from the increased activity.  Still, my sugar would climb by 2-3.

For those of you who are thinking "helloooo??? the dawn phenomenon!?!" - yes I did think of that.  But I was being extra cautious because I had learned the hard way that running even thirty minutes in the morning required 20-40 grams of carbs to avoid a low

And for those of you who are thinking "what the hell is the dawn phenomenon?" here's a quick diabetes lesson.  Blood sugars tend to rise in the early morning hours.  That means that those of us who are on insulin often need to increase our basal rates in the early morning hours to avoid a spike in blood sugar.  This can also mean that exercise in the morning can have a lesser effect on our blood sugar than exercise in the afternoon and evening since our bodies are pumping out extra sugar.

Moving on...

On Wednesday of this week, I woke up with a BG of 7.2.  I figured what the hell and took 0.5 units of insulin.  I ate NOTHING and swam 60 lengths of the pool.  My post workout sugar was 5.8.

If I tried anything that crazy on a run or a bike ride, I would be in some serious serious trouble.

Swimming, it seems, defies all diabetes least for me.  Not only do I not need to eat anything but I actually need to take insulin to prevent my BG from climbing despite doing a 60-minute full body workout.

Let me tell you, it's an odd yet refreshing change to be able to exercise and not have to eat unless I want to.

Part two: Bone Scan Update

Last week, I wrote that my family doctor had called me to say that my bone scan showed shin splints but nothing else of concern.

Well, yesterday I had an appointment with my sports doctor and he showed me the bone scan report.

It very clearly says that I have an early stress fracture in my left tibia.

So there we have it.  A diagnosis.

Even better - it's a diagnosis that explains the symptoms I had two months ago as well as the symptoms I have now which are very different.

One shouldn't do a happy dance when they hear the words stress fracture but I'm the kinda gal who likes to know what's going on.  And now I know.

So I'm supposed to take six weeks off running (which I have done as of the 14th) then ease back into it.  Run/walk every three days on a soft surface like a trail or a track.  See how it feels and built from there.  Stop if it hurts.

I think, based on the fact that things still feel tentative, that I'm going to be an 8-week off stress fracture patient.  That gives me two more weeks to heal plus I have one massage and one chiropractor appointment in the next two weeks so that will give me two more expert opinions to add to the mix.

So I officially have a stress fracture.

I'm surprisingly ok with that diagnosis.

At least now I know what the hell it is.

Just to add to the fun - I've been referred to a biomechanics specialist for a gait analysis.  That might help determine why I'm always suffering from shin splints as well as determine what may have caused the stress fracture...and stop it from recurring.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in Céline's Running Adventure.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Vision

I don't talk a lot about work on my blog.  Partly because that's not what I want to blog about but mostly because I work in a field where confidentiality and privacy are absolutely key.  I work with adults who have a developmental disability and I would never dream about exposing any part of their lives for the sake of a blog entry.

There are days however when what I do gets me thinking and I feel the need to share a tiny bit of that part of my life.  Today's blog uses work as a jumping off point.

We do this thing at work where we help people using our services figure out what their vision for their life is and then we work with them to come up with a plan for how to achieve (or at least get closer to) that vision.

Visions (or dreams) can be as lofty or as far out as the person wants.  Vision statements have been things like: "I want to make my own decisions about the support I receive".  "I want to be surrounded by people who love and care for me".  Pretty powerful words from people who sometimes require twenty-four hour support and spend most of their days with paid staff.

Once a person has a vision, our job is to help them break the vision down into goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, accountable, realistic and time-limited). Work on one (or a few) at a time and it's amazing how far people can come.  I've known people who lived in 24-hour support for decades whose vision was to live independently one day.  Bit by bit, goal by goal, they learned what they needed to learn to be independent.

One of my responsibilities at work is to meet with staff as they work through this goal/vision process and provide guidance, suggestions and a lot of encouragement.  I spent a lot of time explaining what a vision is versus what a short term goal is.  In doing that, I pick examples from my own life because that's what I can relate to.

I explain that a vision is something that we always strive for but never really reach.  It's like that mirage in the desert that keeps us moving forward.

The vision I always use when I'm teaching people is: "I want to be as healthy as I can be".

I think it's a fair statement because it's something that keeps me moving forward but yet something I will never reach because, let's face it, I can always be healthier.

Then I give examples of all the different things I do to help me get a little bit closer to my vision.  I make goals like: I want an A1C of 6.9.  I want to run a marathon.  I want to lose 10 pounds and keep it off.  I want to get eight hours of sleep every night.  I want to find a work-life balance that works for me.

And on and on it goes.

S.M.A.R.T. goals that all lead back to my vision.

When it boils right down to it - that's my life in one sentence.

I want to be as healthy as I can be.

Sure I drink too much wine.  Eat too much chocolate.  Drink too much coffee.

Sure there are lots of things I choose to do that don't directly affect my ability to be as healthy as I can be.

But there is no other theme that has a much impact on my daily choices than my health.

More importantly, my drive to be as healthy as I can be.

Because I may never achieve a goal of being 'healthy'.  That's like trying to be perfect.

But I can always be healthier.

And, as life goes on and diabetes continues to rage its war on my body, complications may arise.

Yet the vision will still hold true - no matter what my future health challenges are - I can always try my best to be as healthy as I can be.

I think I've come up with a pretty good vision.

What's yours?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finding My Own Pattern

I missed my Friday morning swim last week because I had a wedding on Friday night in Toronto and didn't think I'd have the energy to go from 5:30am until 1am without sleep.  Lack of sleep is my kryptonite and is always recipe for disaster.  I do not pull all-nighters.  I tried it once in four years of university and that was enough to teach me not to procrastinate.

So, long story short, I did not go swimming on Friday morning.

Which meant that, by Monday, I was craving the smell of chlorine.

So, while the rest of the city was asleep...well, except for the lone jogger I passed...I drove to the pool.  And yes, even though I was excited for my swim, part of me ached to pull on my running shoes and join her.


When I got to the pool the swim team was there in full force but the length swimmers were few and far between so I snagged my own lane.

Those are the BEST days.

I slipped into the water, armed with Jeff's novel-worth of swim tips from last week and a deep motivation to swim without having to stop and catch my breath.  The first few lengths went well but it didn't take long for me to start gasping for breath again.

I swam about ten lengths like that, panting at the end of the lane  trying to catch my breath before swimming another two lengths....

...and I thought, this is RIDICULOUS!

No one else is stopping.  Some people swim much faster.  Some swim much slower.  But, as far as I can tell, they all seem to just keep swimming.

So I decided to switch it up...again.

I used to breathe every second breath but that was a little too frequent and it was causing my shoulder to hurt.  Then I switched to every third breath which did wonders for my shoulder but left me constantly out of breath.

I like patterns so I decided to create my own.

I would breathe twice on the right and then twice on the left.  Then back to the right again.

In other words, I would breath on stroke 1, stroke 3, stroke 6, stroke 8, stroke 11, stroke 13 etc.

It's only the first trial but it seemed to work.  It had me alternating constantly between breathing too much and breathing too little.

I still had to stop but not as often and I managed to pull off 60 lengths in just under 45 minutes.  That's a new record for me.

During my last few lengths, I looked up and spotted a new person coming out of the change room.  She looked strong and fit and was saying hi to everyone.  Ah, a regular that I haven't seen before.

Then she said "hi Céline!"


Cathy is one of those absolutely amazing people who both humbles and inspires.

My goal one day is to have a 42.2 sticker on my car.  She has a 100.2 sticker on hers.

She has twice(!) finished the Comrades Ultra-Marathon in Africa.  She has run 50+K races.  She's run Boston several times - in fact, this year she used it as a training run.

She cycles.  And when she joins us on Sunday morning rides, I have no hope of catching her.  

She swims.

And she's the most down to earth, unassuming person going.

We chatted for a bit and then swam a few lengths.  I gave her a few to warm up and then timed the start of my to start at the same time as hers.  It was probably a bit childish but I just wanted to see if I could compete.  I don't know if she knew I was 'racing' but I managed to keep up - barely.  We started at the same time and reached the other side at the same time.  This may be a good time to point out that, when fully stretched out, I am probably a good foot longer than she is.  So I probably should have given her a wee head start.

As I was leaving, two more of her friends walked in.  Tall, thin, muscular swimmers.  She introduced us.  They smiled, shook my hand and asked "are you training for the ironman?"

""  (but thanks for thinking that I could be)

Trying to get good at running, swimming, cycling is such a humbling experience.

But it's the people you meet along the way that make it all worthwhile.

Because whether they are training for their first 5k or their 3rd ultra marathon, they understand how it feels to be humbled.  You only have to look them in the eye to know that they understand.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I'm not a big fan of smorgasbords.  I much prefer quality over quantity.

That being said, there are times when smorgasbords are just so much more fun than a beautifully plated scallop sitting atop a bed of arugula.

This past weekend was a smorgasbord and I feasted on experience after experience until I lazily collapsed on the couch on Sunday night ready for a mindless hour or two before the new week started.

Friday, I left work early and did something completely out of character.  And I mean completely.

I went to M.A.C. and asked the nice lady there if she would teach me how to put on eye makeup because I was going to a wedding.  I walked in fresh faced and walked out with four different (yet complimentary) colours on my eyelids.  It looked pretty cool.  

After a quick change, I hopped in the car and drove to Toronto, picking up my friend Brigitte en route.  She and I have been friends since grade 2 so we share a lot of history.  We picked up my sister and her boyfriend and then headed to the wedding of my friend Pam.  It was a great night surrounded by high school friends, people I haven't seen in 20 years and a whole bunch of people who knew me by name but whom I had never met.

It's fun when worlds collide.

It's even more fun when friends are around for a long long time.

Here we are in 1992 (3?)

and here we are almost 20 years later 

ummmm, and here's me modelling fashion from the tickle trunk

Saturday's smorgasbord continued as I spent the morning helping photograph and document hundreds of items for the annual Rotary auction.  After Friday night's evening of fun, food and friendship, Saturday was a morning of meticulous organization.  I like meticulous organization so it was a chance to flex my Type A muscles.   

Sunday, I had another photoshoot.  

This time it was boudoir. 

So I spent a few hours spent flexing my creative and artistic muscles and helping two friends discover their inner goddesses. 

It was a busy weekend but one loaded with experiences. 

Man I'm full! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Book of Better

I like the blogging world for a whole bucket full of reasons.

I love writing and blogging is an easy way for me to get my daily writing fix.

I love reading other blogs and meeting new people who have similar interests - running, cycling, cooking, diabetes (not that that's an interest so much as a reality but still...).

Speaking of diabetes - the fact that I can read, almost daily, other blogs about diabetes mishaps, frustrations and successes that closely mirror my life makes me feel like I'm part of a crazy group of people who are just like me.

Recently, I'm loving all the bizarre connections that seem to happen because one person reads somethings and shares it with someone else who is somehow knowledgeable about (or merely interested in) the topic and suddenly I have a new friend. Considering how many connections I've made in the 10 months that I've been doing this, I can't even begin to imagine where this journey will take me next.

The most recent unexpected thing that happened as a direct result of Running on Carbs is that I was contacted by Jonathan at Three Rivers Press.  He found my blog and wanted to know if I would be interested in reading a new book that's just been published about Type 1 Diabetes.  No strings attached.  No requests to blog about it.  He just thought it was a wonderfully positive book about Type 1 and thought  I might like it.

I wrote back and, when I got home today, there was the FedEx envelope from the publishing house with my brand new book.

Instead of a book about the bad stuff.  The scary stuff.  The dire consequences we will ALL face if we don't maintain tight control and an A1C of 6.0, it's a book about the positive stuff.  

....I know, it's crazy! 

The basic message, from what I've gleamed from reading the back and flipping through the pictures is: 

Don't aim for perfect.  

Aim for better.  

You can't ever be perfect but you can always be better.  

Ahhhhh.  That's music to my ears.  I'm guessing it will be music to a lot of T1 ears.

So this weekend I will be plopping on the couch with a glass or two of wine, a big bowl of pomegranates and my shiny new book of better.  

And, even though they have not asked me to do this, you can expect a book review asap.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

No News is Good News?

My GP called me.   

Correction: the receptionist at my GP's office called me. 

Apparently the hospital forwarded her the results of my bone scan.  

The receptionist told me that the bone scan shows shin splints but no other issues.  

Translation: no stress fracture. 

So I guess that's pretty great news. 

I've had shin splints to varying degrees for the past two years.  I know what shin splints feel like when they're starting, when they're mildly annoying and when they're debilitating.  

I know I have shin splints now.  

I also know that what I'm feeling is NOT shin splints.  Or, if it is, it's some crazy-ass form of shin splints the likes of which I have never felt before.

But the good news is that there is no stress fracture.  

So now what? 

I'm giving Dr. Prince, the sports injury doctor, until tomorrow to call me with the results of the bone scan.  I'd like his opinion on the results. 

Then I'd like to ask him what to do next.  

It's been five weeks since I've run.  My calf/ankle issues are certainly much better than they were five weeks ago.  But I also know that it still doesn't feel quite right.  Shin splints don't feel quite right either but I've learned to recognize the pain that I can run through and the pain that indicates a problem.  I've even learned that there are times when running helps loosen things up and makes them feel better. 

With this pain slash weird feeling in my calf, I don't know what to do because I've never felt anything like it before. 

So do I run? 

Do I push through the pain? 

Do I take more time off?  


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back to the Drawing Board

This week, for the first time since I started swimming, I did not add ten lengths to my morning workout.  Last week I hit sixty lengths (1500m) and I figure that's a pretty good distance to work with.  Now my goal is to get better at swimming 60 lengths.  I want to complete the distance in less time and I want to work on pushing my body to work harder rather than pushing it to work longer.

I tried pushing harder this past Monday and discovered (yet another) unexpected challenge.

Panting + swimming = a lot of stopping.

After a few years of running, I have learned how to listen to my breathing and judge how hard (or not hard) I was working.  I would speed up or slow down as needed and it all worked fairly well.  I didn't have to stop running if I was panting, I could just slow down.  Because no matter how laboured my breathing was, I never had to worry about when to inhale.  That's one of the benefits of exercising on land.

The problem in the pool is that you can't breathe whenever the hell you want to breathe.  You breathe when your mouth is not under water - or pay the consequences.

So, I began to experiment.  Here are the things to keep in mind:

- I want to get comfortable breathing every third stroke so that I can alternate between my right and left side.

- I want to get faster and be able to push harder in the pool.

Here are the problems:

- the faster I swim and the harder I push, the more oxygen I need.  Instead of exhaling nice and slow, tilting my head and taking a deep breath, and then exhaling again - I was now exhaling quickly, then holding my breath until I hit the third stroke and then gasping in as much air as I could.

With each length of the pool it got harder and harder to breathe so every fourth length I had to stop to catch my breath before I could start over again.

Correct me if I'm wrong Jeff but I'm under the impression that, during an open water triathlon swim, one cannot stand up every 100m to catch their breath.  

I then tried a completely different approach.  I decided to stop trying to swim faster by kicking faster and moving my arms more quickly.  Instead, I would focus on making every move more deliberate.  Pulling the water with my arms.  Kicking efficiently with my legs.

Keeping in mind of course that I really have no idea what efficient kicking and effective arm movements are...

...if anyone is agonizing over a Christmas gift for me, a few sessions with a personal swim coach might not be a bad idea...

So I focused on good arms and good legs. I moved better through the water (I think anyway) but it dragged out (by mere nanoseconds I'm sure) the amount of time it took to complete three strokes.  So, even though I wasn't panting as much from exertion, I was still struggling with the amount of time between breaths.  I didn't have enough air in my lungs to exhale for as long as I needed to exhale and, once the air's gone, I need to inhale ASAP.  I'd gasp as soon as my mouth broke the water surface and felt constantly out of breath.  I ended up stopping every 100m again to calm my breathing down so I could resume.

Swimming 1500m in 100m stretches with 30 second standing breaks between each stretch is not my idea of a really good workout.  Yes, I'm panting but not so much from exertion as from the fact that my breathing is all screwed up.

I learned how to run and then, once I figured that out, I had to relearn everything so I could learn to run better, faster, stronger.

I learned how to cycle and, after an enlightening chat with Scully last night, discovered that I'm going to have to relearn how to cycle so I can be better, faster, stronger.

Now I've learned how to swim but feel like I need to hire a swim coach to help me unlearn it all so I can do it better, faster, stronger.

Good lord, it's amazing that I learned how to walk as a child isn't it?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Versatile Blogger

Lindsay, from Lindsay On The Go has tagged me so now I'm 'it'.

She tagged me as a Versatile Blogger.

I've never been really good at 'tag, you're it'.  The hardest part of the game for me was always tagging someone else.  I always felt kinda guilty about it.  Luckily, tagging someone else is step three of the process so I'll get warmed up during steps one and two.

Step one, I'm supposed to thank the person who tagged me.  Ummmm....thanks Lindsay.  Nothing like being pushed a little out of my comfort zone :)

Step two, I'm supposed to share 7 random things about myself.

Here we go!

I don't like the number seven.  I'm a big fan of even numbers.  Four is the best, eight and two are tied for second place.  Six will do in a pinch.  Seven - not my favourite.

I have kissed the Blarney Stone.  Kissing it is supposed to give you the gift of the gab. Sometimes I've very gabby and can be fairly eloquent.  Most of the time though, I'd take quiet over chatter.

I have three tattoos.  An orca, the Japanese symbol for water and the Celtic triskel (or triple spiral).  I love them all and am often thinking about what I'd like to get next.

I have my grade eight piano.  I played piano as a kid because my parents wanted me to.  I only lasted a few years because I really didn't like it.  When I was in my late twenties, my parents decided that they were going to sell their piano. I decided to give it another shot and fell in love with it.  Played my way from grade four to grade eight but then I discovered running and there just wasn't time for everything.  Sigh.

I have some pretty nasty scars on my stomach from past surgeries.  Plus I have an insulin pump that is always hooked up to me somewhere on my waist or stomach.  It's not a pretty sight but my stomach, more than any other part of me, tells my life story.  I wouldn't change a thing about it.

I hate crafty things like knitting, sewing, painting, crocheting, scrapbooking or anything else that's finicky and can't be completed in one sitting.

I have very nimble toes and can pick up all sorts of things with them.  I tried to teach myself to hold a pen between my toes and write my name.  It didn't go super well but it was fairly legible and not much worse than I could do with my left hand.

Well folks, that completes my list of seven completely random facts about Céline.  Thank you all for reading along.

I now tag Selena at Journey to Health to carry on with the game.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Road to Hope

The Hamilton Marathon was fabulous!

It was a gorgeous sunny day.  A bit of a nip in the air which called for a Tim Hortons coffee stop part way through to warm up but otherwise, no complaints.

Doug and I arrived at the start line in plenty of time.  Especially considering that the race start was delayed by 10 minutes to allow time for all the buses full of runners to get from the finish to the start line.  Apparently there's a lot of traffic in Hamilton on a Sunday morning.

We met up with Scully who had come out to cheer as well as Barb, Cathy and John, some pretty amazing runners from St. Catharines.

Once the gun went off, our race stalking plan went into action.  We raced to the 8k spot where we met up with Erin.  Hi Erin!  Despite the fact that we were freezing, Doug and Barb handed off vests and jackets when they passed.  I guess standing around doesn't burn quite as many calories or create quite as much heat as running does.

Next stop - right at the top of the Red Hill Expressway.  That's where we caught up with Klari with her perfectly coordinated Boston attire and matching cowbell.  We were at kilometre twenty-two and as soon as the runners passed us, they turned right, ran down the on ramp, ran on to the expressway and headed down down down the escarpment to the beach strip.  No wonder Hamilton Marathon is one of the fastest races in North America with such a huge downhill stretch.

Doug, right before heading on to the Red Hill.

It's hard to believe they shut down a highway for five hours.  

Our plan was to race down Centennial Parkway to catch the runners again when they came off the highway at kilometre thirty.  Well, apparently all roads in Hamilton are pretty busy on a Sunday morning because, by the time we got there, we had missed Doug.  Off to the finish line we went. 

Standing at the finish line of the Niagara Falls marathon a few weeks ago, we saw all sorts of runners who were in obvious pain and distress.  But we were watching the runners who were running a marathon in over four and half hours.  Many of them were running their first marathons and, even for experienced runners, running 5+ hours is hard on the body.  The finish line after 4 1/2 hours is not always a pretty sight. 

Standing at the finish line of a marathon waiting for four people who, combined, have run over 80 marathons is a whole different ball game.  They know what they're doing and they make it look (almost) easy.  

Doug was hoping for a 3:45 finish time.  He got a 3:38, placed first in his age group and got a guaranteed entry into the 2012 New York Marathon 

John finished in 3:57. 

Cathy ran a 4:03

And Barb did a 4:04. 

But the craziest thing of all was this kid who beat the pants of all of them. 

There was some confusion as to whether he was 13 or 15 years old but, either way, holy bananas!  He finished in under 3:30.  

I have yet to stand at the finish line of a race and not feel all sorts of conflicting emotions as I watch person after person complete whatever journey they were on to get there.  

Hamilton was no different.