Thursday, March 31, 2011

Self-Cleaning Ovens

What makes one day so different from the next?

Why do my reactions to things change from day to day?  My patience level?  My ability to handle change or my ability to focus on the moment?

Tonight I cleaned the oven.  Mixed together a potion of baking soda, vinegar and dish soap.  Donned my pink rubber gloves.  Put on Canada Live on CBC (k'naan was performing).  I scrubbed the oven and all of its parts. It took an hour.

Did I mention it was a self-cleaning oven?

Tonight, I just needed a mindless task to do for a while with an end result that was immediately evident.  Open the oven door and it's really damn clean in there.  Mission accomplished.

Ask me to clean the oven tomorrow and you may get a very different result.  Because normally I do not have patience for such tasks.  I hate the idea of taking on a job that takes a long time to finish.  A job that takes a long time and is finicky is even harder to tolerate. Painting a room had better take less than one day or I'm outta there.  Building a deck had better not drag on for more than one weekend or I'm fed up and don't even get me started on the idea of renovating an entire room.  Three days in and I'll be fit to be tied.  

You will never catch me knitting, sewing, painting, drawing, crocheting a rug or building a model car.

I have patience for people but not for tasks.

...well, most of the time.

Because apparently today was a good day to clean the oven.

So why are days different?  We are who we are yet our abilities to cope, to face challenges or just enjoy a moment change from day to day.

There are the easy answers: fluctuating hormone levels, amount of sleep or exercise, hunger, room temperature or blood sugar level.  There are the more complicated answers: stress level, horrible past experience with cleaning ovens or painting rooms, how our day at work went.

But it's more than that.  I can have a horrible day at work and come home in a great mood.  I can have a great day at work, come home and have no patience for the sound of the radio playing in the kitchen.

I'm pretty in tune with my body because I have to be.  I have learned that there typically is a very reasonable explanation whenever my body feels 'out of sorts'. I can recognize when my blood sugar is out of whack, when my iron is low and when my diet is missing something.  I make a change and things settle down again.

I'm trying to get better at being in tune with my emotions but I can't always figure out why I have patience one day and not the next.  Why I can tolerate background music one day and not the next.  Why it's easy to be in the moment some days and why I can't focus other days.

It would be easy if all I had to do was drink more milk or take an iron pill.  Instead, I need to get better at taking a deep breath, taking stock of the situation and understanding why it is that I feel frustrated, impatient or frazzled.

Or why today was a good day to clean the oven.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Walking Runner


Walking is really different than running - as I am discovering during my 'recovery week' after the Bay.

Thirty minute walk last night.  An hour walk tonight.  Maybe an hour and a half tomorrow?

First of all, how nice is it to come home from work and then head out for a walk?  No changing into running clothes, putting on glide, filling my pockets with carbs, kleenex and lip balm, putting on my Garmin and untangling the cords of my shuffle.  Just grab my gloves and go!

Know what else is cool about walking?  It's easier on the blood sugars.  No need to adjust my basal rates.  No need to be rigid on what time I'm going for a walk.  Or for how long. Just check my sugar, pop a few emergency packs in my pocket just in case, and head out.  Sweet!

No need to stretch before or after.

No need to shower and dry my hair.

No need to throw on a load of laundry when I get back.


It's almost too easy.

An hour walk takes about an hour and five minutes to complete - if you factor in grabbing gloves, zipping up a coat and checking blood sugar.  An hour run takes over 2 hours if you factor in changing, stuffing pockets, filling water bottles, eating pre run snack, stretching, running, stretching again and showering.

I seem to have a lot of free time on my hands this week.

But I can already tell that my body will not be happy with this routine for long.  Because deep down, I'm a runnergirl.

I'm a fast walker but a fairly slow runner.  Yet I prefer to run.

Tonight, I kept having to stop myself from breaking into an easy trot.  I was so full of energy that I could hardly rein it in.  But rein it in I did.  Because my body needs time to recover before the next running cycle begins.

And so I walk.

Want to know how to recognize a runner when they're walking?

They walk on the street - not the sidewalk.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More Than I Can Chew?

You never know unless you try right?

My running career started October of 2007.  I had stumbled upon a 5k race while vacationing in Ottawa and immediately fell in love with the idea of running.  I headed home all gung ho and immediately went to buy a new pair of running shoes at Runners' Edge. There were no running clinics starting until the spring because, as the extremely helpful staff said: "nobody is crazy enough to want to learn how to run in the winter!".

So I asked him for a few pointers.  I was told to keep my head up, keep my arms down and start slow. 

No problem!

I began setting my alarm extra early on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  I started by walking for five minutes, running for two, walking for five and going home. I added two minutes per week.

Here is what I learned in the early days. 

1. I could power walk faster than I could run.

2. Two minutes is a really REALLY long time. 

3. Monday runs were awfully hard, Wednesday runs were tolerable and, by Friday, I felt kinda like a runner.

I did this for three months and, in a fit of ambition (or insanity), I signed up for the Robby Burns 8k run at the end of January.  Four months after I started running - I did an 8k run. 

Silly girl. 

I learned that pacing is something I should really start thinking about.  Just because some people can run fast doesn't mean that I can too. I learned that 8k is really far.  And I learned that I can indeed finish something that seems impossible. 

I also decided to sign up for the spring running clinic which was the best thing I could have done and it has, without a shadow of a doubt, changed my life.

I started in April of 2008 and worked my way up to 10k by June.  In another moment of insanity, I figured I might as well sign up for the half marathon clinic that was starting.  I trained all summer and learned several important lessons:

1.Injuries happen - DON'T ignore them (thank you Janice!)
2.Chaffing is the WORST (Glide is my friend).
3.Investing in a good sports bra is absolutely critical (thanks Al for helping me find a good one and sorry for any embarrassment that may have caused)
4.Water belts are REALLY heavy so get the smallest one possible (two years later runners are still talking about my humongous water belt from that summer!)

I ran my first half marathon 11 months after I started running.

Then I plateaued for two years.  Plateau in the sense that 1/2 marathons became my distance of choice and I just kept training for and running them.  Take a few weeks off and start training for the next one.  I did a total of 6 in two years.

Running the 2011 Around the Bay 30k was a big step for me but one that I finally felt ready for.  Obviously I was because I did it and am walking around two days later hardly feeling the effects of running for almost four hours. 

While I certainly survived the distance, I am not comfortable with it the way I am with 21.1k.  The sensible me should stick with 30k for a while.  Train for a few more of those until they go from overwhelming to just plain hard.

But I'm feeling another bout of insanity coming on...

...and I might just try for a fall marathon.

A group of Runners' Edgers are going to train for Chicago in October.  I don't want to do that race but there is one in Niagara Falls two weekends after Chicago.  It's pretty tempting actually.  Do the training all summer with my friends and see if I have what it takes to do 42.2. 

Niagara Falls would a great race to try because it's local and it's an easy course to access on a bike.  Which means I could perhaps convince some of my support team to be there on the route.  Running that distance is a huge challenge for any runner but running that distance with diabetes is downright scary.  Having people out there on bikes with juice and other supplies would make all the difference for my mental health.

So Niagara Falls?  Want to be my first marathon?   Want to be a permanent fixture in my heart, soul and dreams for the next 7 months? 

I will if you will...

Monday, March 28, 2011

A New Friend

I am extremely lucky to have so many amazing people in my life.  

My family
My partner
My running, cycling, photography, high school and university friends.

Not only am I very lucky but I am also keenly aware of how lucky I am which, in many ways, may be even more important. 

My relationships with each of these people vary but they all centre around sharing special moments, mutual interests, adventures, and challenges. 

No matter who I'm with or what we are doing; whether it's sharing a meal, a race, a curling game or a photo shoot - one thing that has always been mine, and mine alone, is my diabetes.  

I don't hide it.  I will talk about it with anyone who asks.  I try to explain and answer questions as best I can to help make this invisible disease a little more accessible.  Many people do what they can to help me.  They carry my extra carbs during long runs, tell me every ingredient that went into the dinner they prepared for me, or simply keep an extra close eye on me when I pull out a pack of fast acting carbs during a cycling stop.  

But no one is involved in the daily minutiae that is diabetes.  No one counts my carbs for me, figures out how to adjust insulin for longer and longer runs, helps me calculate how many carbs I need to avert a low or keeps track of the things I've learned.  

It's all me.  

And I'm ok with that.  I'm stubborn and fiercely independent and would probably get rather annoyed if someone started questioning my carb counting.  So I do it alone. I experiment, learn, file knowledge away for next time and try again.  And again.  

Today I learned a valuable lesson in looking to others for advice. 

I read Scully's blog about her Around the Bay adventure yesterday.  She also ran the 30k for the first time and she is also type 1 on the insulin pump.   My diabetes did not cooperate during the race yesterday.  But hers did - amazingly so.  

Even more amazing was that she sent me an email explaining in great detail all of the adjustments she has learned to make to her insulin when she runs.  Heck, I thought I was good because I adjusted my basal rates consistently and rarely had lows during runs.  Well, Scully has this entire routine of basal adjustments that she has worked out for herself.  They don't always work (which is not surprising since diabetes is not known as being a disease that plays fair) but they often do. 

And she shared that knowledge.  

And I listened.  

And I get that she gets it.

And that's awesome. 

So now I have a new kinda of friend to add to my friend list.  I have a friend with diabetes.  And, while we share other interests as well, it's really nice to share that one.  

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Done and Done!

What a beautiful, sunny, crisp cool day it was today! A great day to run all the way Around the Bay.  Today, I ran 30k on my own steam, without my support team, and finished standing and feeling pretty good. Couldn't have asked for more than that. 

But man that journey from the start line to the finish line is never easy, never predictable and never once goes as planned.  

My sugar was 12.9 before the race and I had a gel to keep it up there. Things started off fairy well and I had a great first 10k.  My first sugar check was at 11k and I was 5.5.  Way way too low for the middle of a race.  So I had a second gel, two packs of fruit chews and three eload tablets.  

Kept running.  

Checked again at 16k.  I was 6.3.  OMG, way way way too low, especially considering I had just eaten 60 carbs.  So I ate another 40, had some Gatorade at the water station (ugh!) and carried on.  

Then the nausea set in.  I think it was because a) I don't usually eat that much during a run, b) nothing I had eaten would actually be considered real food so my stomach was sloshing around full of gummy candies and gels and c) I drank a lot of water while eating and was decidedly overhydrated.  

Nausea and running do NOT mix so I did the walk run thing for a few kilometres.  Every time I began to feel better, I'd start running and immediately feel nauseated again.  So I would make little deals with myself.  If I ran for five minutes, I could walk for 30 seconds.  

Checked my sugar again at 20k and I was 9.3 - I could live with that.  

Kept walk/running but was feeling better by the minute so I was able to run a little longer between each walk break.  

I was humbled by the last hill, the famous hill, the dreaded hill of Around the Bay.  4 kilometres from the end, it's deadly and perfectly placed to try any runner's spirit.  I made the last deal with myself.  I would walk the hill but then would run the last 4k in.  No more walk breaks, ignore the nausea and just run it in.  So I did.  I ran every last step of those last kilometres, crossed the finish line, made my way upstairs, fell into Doug's arms and had a good little cry.  

I did it!  It was harder than I expected it would be and yet easier in many ways too.  The diabetes gods wreaked havoc but the run itself wasn't nearly as long or as challenging as I expected.  

The best part of the run was all of the support.  Support from my fellow runners both before and after the race and support from other Runners' Edgers along the course.  Cow bells and cheers carried me through several tough spots and kept me moving.  

Last sugar check after the run = 18.8.  Insanity!  What the hell!?!

I took insulin, drank my chocolate milk, emend, water and coffee and felt much better an hour later.  Blood sugar 8.3 and has been behaving ever since.  Take that diabetes! 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Got It?

There's something to be said for friends.  People with whom you share interests.  People who just get it.

Today is the day before the big race.  Which means it's Expo Day.  Doug and I hopped in the car and drove up to Hamilton this morning to pick up our race kits and check out the vendors.  We hadn't even made it up the stairs to vendor alley when we ran into Chris and Janice.  Ten minutes later, we were chatting away with Erin, Vince, Angie, Alain, Leslie and Vanessa.  We're all running tomorrow and most of us are attempting to run all the way Around the Bay for the first time.  We were all exuding that high strung calm that comes before the last minute adrenaline (panic?) sets in tomorrow morning.

We've done the training and there is nothing we can do now that will make any bit of difference tomorrow.  Might as well enjoy the expo.

Speaking of people who get it, earlier this week I had the pleasure to meet a new friend in person.  We first met in the blogosphere but decided that it was time to meet for a real cup of tea. Her name is Scully and she's also tackling the 30k tomorrow for the first time.  She's a runner, a cyclist and an avid photographer. If that's not cool enough, she also has Type 1 diabetes and is on the pump.  Just like me!

Someone who gets it.

Someone who is probably doing some of the same last minute diabetic calculations and packing that I am.  There is comfort in that thought.

Tonight, in homes across Southern Ontario there will be people pinning on their race numbers, packing their bags and setting their shoes by the door.  Preparing for battle.  Preparing to face their fears and prove to themselves, again, that they are strong

and brave.

That they are heroes.

I get it.

And I'm glad that I have friends out there who get it too.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lessons Learned

Ahhh yes!

We're two sleeps away and that pre-race, zen-like feeling has descended upon me. 

I love this part. 

We're still far enough out that I can enjoy the excitement, look forward to the expo tomorrow and not sweat the small stuff. All my runs are done, I'm hydrated right up to my eyeballs, my feet, shins and calves are relatively under control and there really isn't much to do now except enjoy the fact that I can luxuriate in bed on Saturday morning for the first time in forever. Nice!

I was thinking this morning about past races and some of the crazy things that have happened.  All you pancreatically challenged runners out there will definitely be able to sympathize and the rest of you may have a better understanding of why my pockets and running belt are jam packed on race day. If I've learned anything, it's to be prepared.

Around the Bay 10k relay in 2009.  I was my first race wearing my insulin pump which I had only started using a few weeks before.  I had been running with my pump attached to my running belt.  Easy to access and not in the way.  On race day, it was an absolute downpour. My particular pump is not waterproof and I had nothing with me that would protect it.  I took it off  the belt and put it in my non-waterproof coat pocket which was already soaked but a least it was somewhat shielded from the elements. I had no other options at this point so I just kept running, hoping my new pump would not self destruct.  Luckily no damage was done but I now carry a small ziplock in my running belt for nasty weather runs.

The Midsummer Night's Run in 2009.  It was in the middle of August and it was hot.  Really hot.  I ran a fairly good race and was happy with my time.  Afterwards, we sat with my sister and her boyfriend to enjoy the summer evening and post race snacks.  Finally headed back to the car and I pulled the ol' change in the middle of the parking lot trick.  I lifted my shirt to discover that my insulin pump was no longer attached to my body.  It must have been the excessive heat and sweating that had dislodged things but it was literally swinging in the breeze, insulin trickling out uselessly on to the ground. I have no idea how long it had been like that but it could have been hours.  And, of course, I did not bring a back up set change. Nothing to do but hop in the car and drive, hoping that the insulin I had taken post race has actually entered my body. Fun!

Grimby half marathon in 2010. Middle of February and really really cold this time.  Cold enough that, ten minutes into a 2 1/2 hour run, my pump started beeping.  The battery was low.  What?!?  I've never carried a spare battery on a run and there had been three bars of power just minutes before.  Nothing to do but keep running and hope that the battery would hold up.  Thankfully I was able to finish the race, enjoy the post race snacks and the drive home without a dead screen.  But I've learned to carry a spare battery on race day. Oh, and a quarter so I can unlock the damn pump.

Around the Bay 30k 2011.  Still a blank slate but who knows what might happen?  I can imagine some pretty crazy scenarios but, chances are, whathever happends will be completely unexpected and worthy of a future blog entry!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Eload Overload

It's confession time folks. 

Today I ate 8 chocolate easter eggs and had a glass of red wine.  It's an absolutely delicious red wine. I may have a second glass before the night is out.  And no, I'm not alternating between a sip of wine and a sip of water.  Just wine thank you very much.  

Did I mention that we've only got three sleeps left until I run the longest run of my life?  

With my glass of wine in one hand, I'm going to explore the topic I touched on a few days ago: the ridiculousness of races.  

For the past four days I have been drinking water like a crazy woman.  I have been dutifully sipping eload throughout the day.  I have been eating my crazy breakfast shake and making healthy food choices at every turn.  My stomach does not know what to do with all the good stuff I keep tossing in there and I am getting rather tired of the taste of eload. Seven days of this for a 30k run is a wee bit tedious. 

When I ran 15k a few weeks ago I had steak and fries for lunch the day before.  I had pizza and wings (with two glasses of red wine) for dinner the night before.  And I had a fabulous run.   

When I did my 25k and 27k runs, I did not sip eload every day, drink water like a madwoman and eat salad and healthy carbs for a week.  I did my regular thing, went to bed, woke up and ran.  

So what's the deal about the extra 3k?  Enough already!!

That's why races are ridiculous.  If I had a 30k long run on the weekend, I would not be doing all this stuff.  Tack on the word 'race' to the activity and I become a crazy health nut who sprinkles chia seeds on everything and is singlehandedly lowering the water level of Lake Ontario.  

I've changed my battle plan.  We're going to try for a bit of balance rather than a week of extremes. 

I promise that I'm going to continue to drink my water and sip my eload.  I'm also going to have a glass of wine.  I'm going to eat my healthy food and enjoy some chocolate eggs.  I'm going to have grilled cheese for dinner tomorrow if that's what I'm craving (with some Franks on top of course) but I'll add some veggies on the side.  


You ok with that oh mighty running gods?  Because the alternative is that you're going to have an über hydrated, electrolyte overloaded, crankypants little runner on your hands on Sunday morning.  

Any nobody wants that now do they? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

180 Degrees

Four sleeps. And counting.

Time to stop focusing on the race ahead.  Instead, I'm turning around 180 degrees and looking backwards.

Back, back, back to Tuesday, January 4th.  A cold and snowy night no doubt although, truth be told, I have no recollection of what the weather was.  It was night #1 of the Around the Bay training.  I knew I was in for a challenge when I read that we had to run 13k on the first night.  I remember when we used to have to build up to that distance.  Now it was a prerequisite. It was a brave new world I was venturing into.

During the past twelve weeks, we have run through snow storms, wind storms, whiteouts, downpours, ice, slush and mud.  My glucometer has frozen, my pump battery has died, my ipod and Garmin have stopped working. I've had to learn how to blink so that my eyelashes don't freeze together during snowstorms and I have run without being able to feel my legs despite having two pairs of pants on. I have logged 183k on Saturday morning runs and roughly 100k on Tuesday night 13k runs.  That doesn't even include Thursday night hills and speed training.  Over 300k in 12 weeks through the harshest weather that Mother Nature can throw at us.

And I loved it!

I loved the wild and crazy weather.  The beautiful early morning runs.  The runs that intimidated me and the runs that made me cry. The runs that humbled me and the runs whose asses I kicked.  It's the journey that keeps me coming back for more.

This race on Sunday is a culmination of all of that.  It's a celebration of what we've been able to accomplish.  The medal we're going to get on Sunday isn't for crossing the finish line.  It's for having the strength and the guts to do the training it took to get there. 

I have the training schedule posted on the wall by my desk as work.  It seemed pretty intimidating back in January.  Now it's full of memories and stories and is surprisingly comforting to look at. 

When I turn back around 180 degrees to stare down that finish line, I take courage from the road that stretches out behind me.  It got me this far.  I'm confident that it will carry me the rest of the way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Preparing for Battle

Five sleeps. 

I feel like I'm heading into battle. 

Preparations are well underway.

Drinking Strategy 
- I've upped my water intake
- I'm making a big glass of eload in the morning and sipping it throughout the day to keep my electrolytes up.
- I have one cup of coffee first thing in the morning so that I can make sure it's out of my system on time for bed.
- I have not had any wine since Friday night (gawd!) and, unless we lose at curling this week, I probably won't have a glass until after the race.  In curling, it's tradition that the winners buy the losers a drink.  If we lose, I'll take it as a sign from the gods that I'm allowed to have a glass of wine. 

Eating Strategy
- My fairly healthy diet is now extra healthy.  I've gone back to making my breakfast shake (gorp as Doug calls it) every morning.  It's a bit of work and looks like a science expriment gone desperately wrong but it's tasty and makes me feel like I'm doing going things for my body.

My body
- I have a chiropractor appointment this afternoon and a massage appointment tomorrow.
- I'm wearing my super sexy compression socks to work every day.
- I'm getting lots of rest, making time to walk and stretch and enjoying an easy week of running.

My mind
- I'm updating my running play list with songs that inspire me, motivate me or have just the right beat to keep me going.
- I'm picturing the finish line, studying the race map and imagining what sorts of mental and physical challenges I will encounter en route so that I can practice overcoming them.

Race day carbs
- I've stocked up on GUs so I should have enough to run about 150k.  You never know, I might get lost or something.
- I have a fresh supply of Welch's fruit chews, my fast-acting carb of choice for running.
- My big bucket of eload is ready and I have about 8 packs of emend for after the the off chance that I need more than one.

Diabetes Management
I still need to sit down and do the math to figure out what exactly I'm going to do on race day.
a) what time will I reduce my basal rate and for how long?
b) how much will I reduce my breakfast insulin based on the fact that I'll be eating around 6:30am but not  running until 9:30am
c) will I eat something just before the race?  If so, what?
d) will I bring food with me during the race?  I don't usually do that but I also don't usually run over lunch.

Let's see.  I'm going to need a complete change of clothes for after the race and I had better bring my compression socks.  Some food that I know I will be able to stomach after running for 3+ hours.  Some juice, some chocolate milk and some emend. Emergency ice packs in case my shins flare up once I stop running.  Advil. Deodorant.  Perhaps a hair brush and clean hat.

Low maintenance indeed.

Five more sleeps.  And then it's battle stations everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Runner's Circle

Six more sleeps until Around the Bay and my first attempt to run 30k.

All runners face doubts when they tackle a new distance. Can I do it?  Do I physically have what it takes to run that far?  Will my shins hold up?  My feet?  My calves?  My shoulders? Am I mentally prepared to run when I don't want to run anymore?  Run when I don't think I can run anymore? 

Oh, and don't forget the never-ending concerns about misbehaving blood sugars, having enough fast acting carbs and insulin pump mishaps.  Did I mention that I won't have my beloved support team with me on race day?

That's when the really scary thoughts creep in. What if I can't do it?  I mean really can't do it?


Races are ridiculous.  I sign up for them because they motivate me to train.  I focus on them and that feeling I'll have when I cross the finish line.  I wear the race shirts with pride and have all my finisher's medals on my dresser.

And yet I don't really like races all that much.  What I really love is the training.  I love my solitary runs on Tuesday nights. I love the long runs on Saturday mornings that get a little longer each week. I love knowing that I'm getting stronger and that distances that seemed overwhelming during my last training are a little easier this time around.  I love that my shins and calves held up a few weeks longer this time before they started to scream. 

I don't really care about the race.  Sure, the camaraderie is fun and being part of something historic is exciting but, in many ways, it's rather anticlimatic.  Twelve weeks of work culminate in 3 1/2 hours of running and then it's over.  Another medal, another bib number, another race checked off the list.

When I ran my first half marathon, I went home afterwards and sat in my ice bath nursing my cup of coffee.  To celebrate, my partner at the time put on the song that I had played after every long run during my training. 

And I burst into tears. 

I felt so lost now that the race was over.  Now what was I going to do?

Thankfully, I've become a little less emotional since then.  I now look forward to my two weeks off after a race and I look forward to starting a new training schedule with fresh legs and a new race on the horizon. Crossing a finish line is no longer the end of the world - it's just the end of the race.

This time next week, I'll be enjoying my post-race day off.  I'll be walking kinda funny, drinking lots of water and enjoying one, maybe two, well deserved naps. I probably won't collapse into tears sitting in a bathtub full of ice water, wearing a sweatshirt and hat and nursing my hot cup of coffee (seriously, how pitiful is that image?) but I will wander around like a lost puppy for a few days.  Thankfully, I now know what to expect before, during and after a race.

Sign up





It's the circle of life Simba.

The life of a runner that is.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Low Maintenance?

I like to think that I'm a pretty low maintenance gal and I take pride in that fact.  I went to France for two weeks with one carry-on suitcase for goodness sakes.  We had everything we needed and didn't have to wait for checked luggage.  It was awesome!

Problem is that I went to France in my pre-diabetes, pre-running, pre-photography life.

My reality now is such that neither my interests nor my chronic disease fit neatly into a carry-on suitcase anymore.

Case in point: yesterday I drove to Lockport, NY to meet up with some photography friends.  We were going to photograph geese, herons and, if we were lucky, an eagle.  I left at 11:30am and was planning to be home for a late dinner.

It took two trips to the car to bring all my stuff.  Two camera bags and one tripod for the photographer in me.  A snack bag with a cliff bar, larabar, banana, apple, dates, and packs of fast acting carbs for the diabetic.  Three bottles of water for the athlete.  Hiking boots, gloves, coffee, maps, and passport for the traveller.  All that for one afternoon.

What the hell am I going to do when I go to Boston for a week?  For that trip, I will be a photographer, diabetic, runner and tourist.  We're going to have to add running clothes, running snacks, electrolytes, glide, TriggerPoint, laundry soap, maps and books to the mix. That's a lot of stuff.  Throw in a few sweatshirts and a heavy jacket for Cape Cod weather and we're going to need to rent a bus!

Thank goodness I don't wear makeup or feel the need to pack five pairs of shoes or eight different outfits.    

Pre-diabetes, I never owned a purse and would just pop my wallet in my back pocket, lip gloss and keys in my front pocket and head out the door.  Part of me would like to go back to those easy, carefree days.

But, let's be honest folks, my purse is not full of diabetic supplies.  They're there but I have to dig through the hand cream, lip gloss, Swiss Army knives (yep, two of them!), wallet, and pile of other things to find them.

Perhaps I'm just fooling myself re the whole low maintenance persona?  Maybe I am just a high maintenance person in denial?

While I'm deciding, if you need anything, just come find me during a run, photoshoot, or diabetic emergency.  I'm sure to have it and am always happy to share.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Can You Read My Mind?

So apparently I'm not a mind reader.

Despite the fact that I like to think I'm pretty good at it.

Here's what I do. I look at all the facts and the signs.  I add to that the facial expressions and the body language.  I subtract past experience and personal knowledge and I come up with a very nicely packaged interpretation of what is going on.

Not surprisingly, I'm often way off base.

The problem is that, the closer I get to someone, the more assumptions I make.  With someone I don't know very well, I'm quite comfortable asking what they're thinking, asking for clarification and asking for confirmation.  As I get to know a person more, I begin to take that knowledge for granted and just assume that I know what they're feeling and thinking.

That can be very dangerous.

What goes hand in hand with that, of course, is that the closer I get to someone, the more I assume that they can read my mind too.  I assume that my subtle hints are clear instructions and my gentle looks are an obvious roadmap to what I'm thinking.

Again, very dangerous.

Sometimes it's funny.  Misunderstandings can breed hilarity.  They can also breed frustration.  It depends on the end result and everyone's mood that day.

I guess what I need to do is to learn to be ok with not knowing.  To be ok with asking someone what they meant by their words or their actions.  Because being a good listener, daughter, friend and partner is not about being able to read minds.  It's about showing how much you care by taking the time to really discover what that person is thinking and feeling.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Being Green

I love that feeling when you're just so happy that it feels almost like a volcano of happy bubbles is building and about to erupt.  And yes, that's actually what it feels like.

I'm having a happy bubble day today!

It's St. Patrick's Day which is a good start.  I'm proudly sporting my green shirt and everyone I pass in the halls today is in green.  It's fabulous and we're all grinning like a bunch of idiots in on a strange little joke.

I started teaching a new class at work today and everyone who signed up for the class is one of those naturally happy people. I mean REALLY happy.  When they play a board game they get just as excited whether they roll a 1 or a 6.  They're just as happy if they get the answer right or wrong and they don't care if they go to jail or get out of jail free.  They're just happy to be with other people and to be sharing a fun moment.  They cheer everyone on, laugh when they get the answer wrong and shout with joy no matter what the dice say.  Put a group like that together for an hour and we were a complete giddy mess by the end. 

So, to recap, everyone is in green today and I'm riding a high from my new class this morning. 

Might as well call my little Irish Nana to wish her Happy St. Patrick's Day.  She answered the phone in her irish lilt and, well, she had me at hello.  We chatted about the sunshine and the weather and then the phone call ended with her warning me not to drink too much whiskey least until I got off work!  Oh Nana, you're so cute!

Afterwards, I read Dave Hingsburger's blog entry and it sent me over the edge, straight into my happiness volcano.  Dave writes a daily blog about disabilities and he's always thought-provoking.  Today's entry about St. Patrick's Day, inclusion and disabilities was wonderful and is very much worth the read.

With still half of my waking hours left ahead of me, a run in the sunshine and corn beef for dinner, this day shows no signs of slowing down.

So I'm taking a moment to be thankful for my partner, my family and my friends who fill my life with such riches.  And raising a glass to my Grandpa who is looking down on us today with a wee leprechaun on his shoulder and an amber glass of whiskey in his hand. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The luck of the Irish is a phrase that will be often repeated this week.  St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow and with it comes green beer, shamrocks, leprechauns and all sorts of Irish sayings that seem to get funnier with each passing year.

At least to me.

I come from good strong Irish stock.  My mother was born in Ireland.  Her father, my grandfather Seamus, came over to Canada looking for work.  Once he was settled in Toronto, he sent for my grandmother Maggie and their three children.  They boarded the ship, waved goodbye to their beloved green island and sailed off to Canada, landing at Pier 21 and making their way to Toronto.  My mother was eight - red hair, blue eyes and freckles. 

I like to think that luck crosses oceans because our family seems to have their fair share of it, despite being so far from the Emerald Isle.  As my sister once put so beautifully: we all have horseshoes up our @$$#$! Never for big things like lottery winnings but we just seem to be a little bit luckier than others. 

Lucky enough that I have learned to rely on it when I make decisions.  If I'm not sure about something, I'll weigh all the factors but also be confident that I can count on a wee sprinkling of faerie dust to tip things in my favour.

Since it's such a big part of my life, I think a lot about luck and what it really means.  There's the luck that happens at slot machines and black jack tables.  I don't have that kind (which is probably a good thing).  I have the kind where I go for a run and find a $20 bill lying on the ground in the middle of nowhere.  I'm the person who randomly walks into a store the one day a year that the item I'm looking for is 80% off.  The occasional week that I chose to do my long run on my own, it will almost invariably be lovely weather and the next morning, when the rest of the runners head out, it will be pouring rain.

Sometimes I think that it might be more about attitude and observation skills than about real leprechaun magic.  Maybe ten people walked by the $20 bill before I did and I just paid more attention and found it.  Maybe I think I get lovely weather when I run because I don't mind wind, rain and cold. Maybe things always work out because I have a naturally positive outlook on life so endings, even bad ones, don't really seem so bad. 

Or maybe I have a one of the wee folk looking out for me, tasked with the job of keeping me safe, healthy and happy.

I take great comfort in either option. 

And tomorrow, this little Irish lass will raise a glass to the green hills, soaring cliffs and hidden glens of the country that still calls to her from across the sea.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Waxing Philosophical

I don't often know what I'm going to blog about until I actually open the 'new post' window.  Then I sit for a second and something from the last day or so pops into my head, asking very clearly to be written about. 

Today's topic: what happens to love when the harsh light of reality shines down on it?

This is probably a good time to clearly state that this question is not one that I am personally struggling with.  I am quite warm and happy in my little cocoon of love thank you very much so, please, nobody panic!

The love/reality question came up during a wonderful dinner last night with a really good friend.  One of those dinners where the wine and conversation flow and the things that were talked about are still reverberating in my head the next day.

So, back to love and reality.

First there is love.  That connection that happens with another person that sets them apart from everyone else.  It's physical, it's emotional, it's visceral. 



You just want to be with the other person. All the time.  No matter what.  Consequences be damned!

Then...reality comes marching in.

What if they live in another city?  Another country? 

What if they live with another person? Are married to someone else? Are someone of a different colour, age, gender or religion than society expects you to be with?  Make tons more money than you?  Make way less than you?  Want kids but you don't?

I could go on.

Many of these challenges are really only little stepping stones that you can both hop along together.  Negotiating them helps make the relationship stronger as you learn to communicate and negotiate. 

Other challenges are....well, they're challenges.  Overcoming these challenges will be life-changing for everyone involved.  It will take time and effort and the end results are not guaranteed. 

What do you do?  Do you wait for the other person?  If so, for how long?  Do you defy society and proclaim your love despite the reactions that may cause?  Do you move to be with them? Give up your dream of having children? 

With every decision, compromise and change - will the love you share grow stronger or will it begin to crumble?

I find topics like this fascinating to discuss...unless I'm actually living them. Then it's agonizing because there are no answers.  Loving someone means taking a risk.  Opening yourself up means taking a risk.  Waiting for someone, moving in with someone, having children with someone are all risks.  The rewards might be wonderful but there is no guarantee. 

When it works - it's beautiful. 

When it doesn't - it's heartbreaking.

And that, my friends, is love.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Detailed Answer

I work with people who have disabilities.  All sorts of disabilities.  Some people are in a wheelchair and some use crutches or walkers.  Others have difficulty communicating.  Many have some sort of mental health concern and all have a developmental disability. 

I spend a lot of time trying to put myself in other people's shoes.  Trying to imagine what it would be like to try to learn how to cook if I couldn't read, couldn't follow directions and had difficulty problem solving. Trying to imagine how scary it might be to learn how to take the city bus if I had mobility issues or difficulty with directions or depth perception.  Trying to imagine how much courage it would take to face the world every day if I looked different, talked differently or processed things differently than other people. 

I try hard to imagine.  But I know I can't possibly come close to understanding. 

Just like no one can come close to understanding what it's like to live with diabetes. Because what it looks like on the outside is only a shadow of what's going on in the inside. People see the blood testing, the insulin pump, the packs of fast acting carbs that I carry.  They don't see the constant processing of information and weighing of variables that must happen to stay, as much as possible, in the 'safe' zone.

Ever had someone ask you what you were thinking?  I do that a lot to people.  It does not always go over well (trust me!) but it does provide some interesting insight into their thought processes.  Especially if your next question is "how did you start thinking about that?". 

Ask someone with a disability how they prepare a meal.  Ask them how they know when to ring the bell to get off the bus or how they tell the difference between a $10 and a $20 bill.  Ask someone in a wheelchair what they have to think about if they want to go out for coffee with a friend. Chances are the way that they look at the world and the things that they have to think about will surprise you.

Ask someone with diabetes why their blood sugar was high or low or ask them how they are going to calculate their next insulin bolus.  Specify that you want the detailed answer not the simple one.  And then pull up a chair and prepare to learn a lot about food, fibre, monthly cycles, types and length of exercise, insulin stacking, illness, intuition and witchcraft. 

Ask someone you love why they love you.  Ask for the detailed answer.  It might just make your day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston

I'm going to Boston!

Only 35 days until race day.

20,000+ runners from around the world will be there.  They all qualified for the honour.  They dreamed, they trained and together they will fight their way up Heartbreak Hill to cross that fabled finish line.

Over 20,000 runners.

And I will be cheering my heart out for one of them.

We're turning the marathon into a week holiday. Together we will explore the city, take in the sights and enjoy the food.  Together we will head to Cape Cod after the race to walk by the ocean, chase whales and visit the local artists.

But on April 18th, Doug will be running alone.

In a sea of 20,000 runners, he will travel 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers) on his own steam.

He will run by Wellesley College.  Apparently, you can hear the girls screaming miles before you get there.  According to the folklore, they can't graduate until they've kissed a marathoner.  So screams and signs saying 'Kiss me' signal to the runners that they have reached the halfway mark.

He will run up Heartbreak Hill, cheered on by the boys at Boston College.

He will turn right on Hereford and then left on Boylston.  And he will cross that finish line.  

And become a part of history...again.

It will be Doug's third Boston.  My first as a spectator.

It will be a day of excitement, unforgettable moments and plenty of tears.

Bring it on.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Moment of Zen

When I run, I typically run with the Runners' Edge running club or by myself.  Either way, I run along familiar routes in Niagara.  Country roads that are magical in all seasons.  We are so lucky to live where we live as we get to witness the entire life cycle of the orchards and vineyards that make up our countryside.  From quiet bare winter branches, to fragrant spring blossoms, to summer fruit and fall colours.  

The sights and smells are familiar, as are the people who share our roads.  Occasionally we pass another runner, one who is not part of our group, but it's rare.  More often than not, it's one of 'us' doing their own solitary run.

That's why today was so interesting.  Rather than meet up at Runners' Edge, we all hopped in our cars and drove up the QEW to Stoney Creek.  We ran along the Hamilton Trail for a change of scenery.  The trail runs along Lake Ontario and it was beautiful.

It was also loaded with runners.

Runners I didn't recognize and certainly didn't know.  Runners of all ages.  Running quickly, running slowly, breathing hard, breathing easy.  It didn't matter.  They were everywhere and we Runners' Edgers were sorely outnumbered.

Watching all the people, it got me thinking about what makes people run.  The reasons are as numerous and as varied as the runners themselves.

Why do I run?

I know why I started.  While visiting Ottawa in the fall of 2008, I stumbled upon the CIBC Run for the Cure 5k race.  Camera in hand, I decided to stand at the finish line and take some pictures.  Never having watched a race before, I had no idea what I was in for.  The emotions at that finish line were so intense that I forgot the camera and just stood and cheered.  Tears flowed and I left inspired to join the ranks.  I drove back to Niagara and straight to Runners' Edge to buy my first pair of real running shoes.  I started the very next day.

Why do I keep running?

The easy answers are:
- to stay healthy
- to control my diabetes
- to push myself

But I really do it for the quiet.  For that feeling that comes 8k into a run when I stop looking at my Garmin and I stop thinking about how tired I am.  The moment when I stop trying to run and start getting lost in my head.  It goes quiet, I no longer hear my breath and I, for lack of a better word, just go zen.

That feeling used to be fleeting, a few seconds at best.  Then it started lasting a minute, two minutes.  During this long winter of training, I began to find that I could run 5 kilometers without realizing it.  I would arrive at familiar landmarks and wonder what happened to the last 30 minutes.  Thirty minutes!  

It's is a peaceful feeling.  I think about things without really thinking about them.  I solve problems I didn't know I had and I notice the details of my surroundings.

People have all sorts of ways of finding a few moments of peace.

I put on my running shoes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Duct Tape and Paper Clips

Just over two weeks until race day. 

How do I know that you ask?  Did I look at my calendar?  Check my iPhone?

Nope, my legs told me.  Loudly and clearly.


This is their typical, predictable, I can set the clock to it, behaviour two weeks out from race day.  And I completely understand.  I have pushed them harder and farther than ever before, through the snowiest, slushiest winter I've ever run in.  We're two weeks out, the taper has started and they don't want to taper - they want to go to an all-inclusive resort and sit on the beach for a week. Preferably one that serves mojitos.

They're done.


Their little sighs have erupted into a cacophanous racket of complaints.  I went to see my massage therapist (also known as Janice, also known as the main reason I am able to cross the finish line of any race) yesterday.  She touched my calf and exclaimed 'whoa, that's not good'.  Tight, full of knots that have appeared overnight, unwilling to yeild despite her heroic efforts. 

I have prided myself on never asking for mercy, never begging her to stop because of the pain she was causing.  Yesterday, only my inability to talk stopped me from crying out.  She did what she had to do and I'm much better for it, but damn that hurt!

It takes a village to raise a child.  Apparently it also takes one to get me across the finish line.  My support team takes care of me during long runs, my running friends keep me focused, my diabetic team keeps me healthy and in control and Janice maintains my legs so they can keep running.  As they near their breaking point and I ramp up my self-care a few more notches, I feel like I'm being held together with duct tape and paper clips. 


MacGyver style.

Maybe I had better add that theme song to my playlist.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Painting With Light

A blog about diabetes, running and life will typically be guessed it



and Life

The diabetes part is pretty easy.  There's always something to talk about and the topics range from funny to scary and from fascinating to downright weird.

Running is also chock full of writing potential that can range from the painful to the euphoric.

Life.  Now that's just a little too broad and so I often end up writing about running and diabetes.

Today, in an effort to branch out a bit, I've invited a guest blogger to Running with Carbs.  Her name is Céline and she is my photographer alter ego.

You see, in addition to being a runner who happens to have the diabetes, I am also a photographer.  It's not my day job but it's something I love and occasionally get paid to do.

I love photographing anything.  People, still life, landscapes, sports.  I just feel good with a camera in my hand.  Sadly, during the winter months, the camera often gets a bit dusty.  This despite my best intentions to head out to photograph snow-covered vineyards at sunrise.  My excuse is that I spend so much time running in the cold that my body rebels at the thought of standing shivering in the snow waiting for the perfect light.  So the camera gets tucked away until spring makes an appearance.  Then I start stalking baby geese and lying in the dirt to capture the first flowers.

Tonight, in an effort to get my photography mojo back, I got together with a photographer friend and we learned how to paint with light.

In other words, we chose a cool object to photograph, placed it on a black chair, turned off the lights and then painted with light by waving a flashlight back and forth.  Here is the end result:

Pretty cool eh?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Playing the Diabetes Card

Having diabetes has its perks. 

Ever been to a venue (concert, museum or whatever) and had your bag searched.  Food confiscated?  Not me!  Mention the word diabetes and I can bring in whatever food I want. I bring in my friend's food too - who's gonna know?

Ever sat in a restaurant and waited forever for your order to arrive?  Not me.  All I have to do is say that I have diabetes, I've taken my insulin over 20 minutes ago and I really need to get my food.  Next order up?  Mine.

Extra drinks on the plane?  No problem.  I'm diabetic and I get really dehydrated.  Can I have an extra drink?  Two?  Thanks!

Remember last year's H1N1 scare and the incredible lineups to get the vaccine?  Remember when the clinics were only open to young children, seniors and those with compromised immune systems?  Yay, front of the line baby!

Ever had a complete stranger notice you from across the room, stroll over and say hi?  I have. All because they have an insulin pump too and want to share stories. I've also met complete strangers who were thinking about getting the pump and came over to ask me about it. 

Not sure what the menu is at the wedding you're attending or the conference you're at?  Find the chef and tell them you have diabetes.  You'll know the entire menu, right down to the type of pasta used and how many chocolate shavings are on the tiramisu, before anyone else in the room.  And you'll often get your food first because they know you gotta eat. 

I eat anywhere, anytime, with blatant disregard for the rules.  I've eaten standing on the curling ice in the middle of a game, during midnight mass, while making presentations, and directly under the "No Outside Food or Drink" signs in theatres and arenas.  I know, I know, I'm such a rebel.

Diabetes is part of my life and it's not going anywhere so I might as well enjoy the perks.  I don't play the diabetes card often but, when I do, it's pretty damn effective.

So remember, if you ever need someone to carry your peanut butter sandwich and bottle of juice through security, I'm your gal. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

All the World's a Stage

I hosted a meeting today that I really enjoyed and it got me thinking.  Thinking about the roles we play in this crazy theatre of life.

The meeting was with a group of ladies who all have a similar job to mine.  The thing that ties us most closely together is that, in our respective agencies, we are the only ones who have that job.  We do not have a team of colleagues that we can turn to for support, advice or the occasional griping session.  We often work in isolation and most people in our agencies don't quite understand what we do.

Put us together in a room and it's absolutely cathartic.  To be with people who understand, really understand, is such a gift.

And it got me thinking about the roles we play.  As I started thinking about them, it began to feel like we just spend our lives moving from one stage to another.  Not that I'm acting, or lying about who I am, just that I can't be everything for every person.  It doesn't make sense to live life that way.

At home I am the loving partner, the unconditional friend, the kitchen mate and midnight confidante.  At work, I am the rights advocate, staff trainer, accreditation queen and policy girl.  There is very little overlap between those two worlds.  I don't want there to be.  But I also think that people from one world would be surprised to see me in the other.  In many ways, I would be a stranger.

At the diabetes centre, I am the healthy, happy, active runner.  They know nothing about my job, my love of cooking or the fact that I'm really into curling.  At the running group, I'm the girl with the insulin pump who is slow but getting faster and who does a lot of the really long runs on her own.  I am the big sister who gets the jokes and understands the traditions.  I am the eldest daughter who helps solve computer problems, loves Sunday dinners and occasionally makes shocking announcements.  At the bank, I am the competent customer with a good credit rating and at the bulk food store I am the quiet girl who buys a whole lot of dates, peanut butter and raisins.

I have some friends with whom I share a love of photography, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of the Outlander books or of red wine.  I have some friends who share medical adventures, a love of Northern Ontario camping, a passion for theatre or an interest in biology. I am always me but I am always different.  Everyone knows a part but no one knows the whole person.

We share what makes sense in each world that we're in.  There is no point in talking about Buffy at home, the conversation would be rather one-sided.  I'm not going to talk about policy development with my running group, they don't care.  In each of our worlds, we find the common ground and build from there.

So today I spent the day with a group of ladies who know me like no one else does.  It was nice.

Tonight, I'm spending the evening with the man who knows me like no one else does.  That will also be nice.

Tomorrow, the next day and the day after that, I will spend time with people who know me as no one else does.

I wonder, if you put them all together, what I would look like.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Come What May

I'm not really into 'theme' writing but, without meaning to, this week's theme seems to be heroes.

Global heroes who can run thanks to medical technology.

High school heroes who are facing challenges with incredible courage.

Today's heroes are rainy day heroes.

The story actually began yesterday morning at 9am.  I've been very fortunate to have had the last few Fridays off.  Facing a 27k run (aka a 3+ hour run), I checked the weather and had the luxury to opt for a Friday morning run.  I was gifted with comfortable temperatures, a refreshing wind and the odd raindrop to help cool me off.

My running friends didn't have that option.  This week's Saturday morning run was 22k.  The weather was ferocious.  Trust me, when an all season runner says that the weather is ferocious, it means it's really damn awful.  Pouring rain and driving wind.  Too warm for winter running clothes, too cold for spring attire.  Just awful.

With rain lashing the windows and wind shaking the house, Doug raided the closet for waterproof gear. All decked out, he ran from the house.  That's an extra 2k to the store and therefore an extra 2k back.  In minutes, he's soaked through.  Wet shoes, wet socks, wet everything.  Wet = cold.  Cold hands, cold feet, cold everything.  Total discomfort within the first few minutes.  Only 2 hours and 20 more minutes to go.

He got to the store and met up with another 20 runners.  They put up their collars, pulled down their hats and headed out into the storm.  Normally the country roads around St. Catharines are lovely, in all seasons. Vineyards, fields, forests and beautiful homes.  I ran by a red-tailed hawk yesterday.  So close I could have touched him.

Today, open country roads meant being buffeted by incessant winds.  No protection.  Just runners versus nature.

The thing about running is that it's optional.  You can always turn off the alarm, roll over and run tomorrow.  There are countless reasons for not going for a run.  There are far fewer reasons to pull on your shoes and head out into a storm.

It takes guts, strength, a healthy dose of tenacity and a wee bit of craziness to run in all weathers.

It takes a hero.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I received a late afternoon text from a high school friend.  She lives in Mississauga but was jumping into her car and heading down to Niagara.  She had just found out that another high school friend has cancer.

Terminal cancer.

There is a fundraiser tonight in Welland.  Apparently the high school community is rallying.  People I haven't seen since 1993 will be there.  I'm excited and yet extremely sad at the same time.

I called my father.  Before he retired, he was our high school principal and was much loved by the students.  Even the bad ones.  The ones who spent more time in detention than in class liked him even though he was the one to send them to detention.  My dad was fair and had a lot of respect for the students.  Without asking, he commanded the same respect from them.

I am sure faces will light up tonight when he walks in.

I am grateful to be able to go with him.

I am grateful that I am healthy and that my family and loved ones are healthy.

I am grateful for the opportunity to see my friends.  To be able to run 27k today.  To have so many heroes in my life.

I am just so very grateful.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pass Me The Crayons

I'm colouring outside the running lines this week.  We'll see if it turns out to be a good idea or if I should just stick to paint by number running.

The plan this week, according to our running schedule, was to run 13k on Tuesday, run hills on Thursday and then run 22k on Saturday.  

I am not doing that.  

I did run 13k on Tuesday.  So far so good. 

Tonight's hill workout had to be passed up because I consistently get injured doing hills during the last month of training before a race.  So I've learned after many panicked trips to my fabulous massage therapist Janice that it's just not worth it to run hills four weeks out.  So I don't.  Even though I want to.  Even though there are deadly hills along the race route.  Even though all my friends are out there running them.  

Instead I ran 30 minutes along a very flat course.  Which seems like a pretty wimpy alternative to hills I know but there is method to the wimpy-ness.  

See, I'm also not running 22k on Saturday.  

I'm going to run 27k tomorrow instead.  

Let me add a qualifier here.  We have an amazing running coach and he has designed a really good, sensible training plan for Around the Bay.  I trust him and I truly believe that his plan will get all of us runners across that finish line.  

The reality is that I know myself and I know what things cause me stress.  

I need to have run almost the full distance (if not more than the full distance) of a race before race day or my mind doubts my body's ability to cross that finish line.  Our schedule had us peaking at 25k which is just not quite long enough for my mental health. 27 feels better.  If I imagine the actual race route, 27k gets me to the top of the awful last hill in the race.  As Doug says, it's all downhill from there to the finish line.  

So, I ran 30 minutes today just to keep the legs moving.  I run 27k in the morning.  

The route is mapped out.  Doug is tasked with driving out to meet me at the 1 hour 45 minute mark to refill my water and eload, replenish my carbohydrate stashes, take my gloves, pat my head and tell me that I'm doing a great job and already way past half way.  

If I start at 9am as planned, I will not be home until almost 12:30pm.  That's a freaking long time to run.  

So tonight I'm stretching, trigger pointing, drinking tons of water and pretending it's race day tomorrow.  

No bib, no shirt, no medal...but the peace of mind that comes with knowing that there will be a few less demons to conquer on March 27. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

We Could Be Heroes

I want to be a Global Hero and I want my friends to be heroes too. 

I know, I know, we're all heroes in our own right but sometimes it's nice to get a t-shirt to prove it. 

Medtronic Global Heroes started accepting applications and nominations yesterday.  Twenty-five runners from around the world will be chosen.  Not just any runners. No siree! They're not looking for fast runners, pretty runners, veteran runners or record setting runners. They are looking for runners who are able to run thanks to medical technology.  Insulin pumps, pacemakers, ICDs - that's what they're looking for. 

Robocop heroes.  Cyborgs.  Medical miracles. 

Those chosen will be flown (with a guest) to Minneapolis for the Twin Cities marathon or ten miler depending on your distance of choice. Accommodations are paid for, race entries paid for, food paid for.  A Global Heroes race bib, singlet and hat help the heroes stand out in the crowd.  Special reserve seating for family members and friends in the finish zone.  An invitation to the Heroes reception and a $1000 donation to the charity of choice. 

How fabulous is that?

I have my own hero that I would like to see at the start line.  His name is John and he is one of my great friends. He died on November 1st, 2008 and ran the Ottawa half maration in May, 2009. His story still gives me goosebumps and he is one in a million.  His personality is a combination of humble, sincere, commited and loving. We met through the running group and became kindred spirits during the dark cold runs in the winter of 2009. I always feel better just knowing he's in the room.  

He and I have been emailing back and forth today and we've both applied to be heroes. 

I have no idea how they decide who will be chosen and who will not and I'm sure that the list of worthy candidates is endless. But I love the idea of standing at the start line of that race with John beside me, in our matching Heroes bibs and hats.  Two people who, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, can run. Flanked on either side by Doug and John's wife Michelle, it would be the most entertaining, emotional and life-affirming 10 miler...ever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March On

It's March 1st today folks.  The lion is not exactly roaring outside, at least in St. Catharines.  It's a balmy +1, lots of sunshine and a lovely breeze.  If this is the lion, I can't wait to meet the lamb. 

March means lots of things in my world.  St. Patrick's Day is in March.  That means a family dinner of peameal bacon, cabbage, turnip and potatoes as well as green streamers, shamrock glasses and leprechauns.  Everybody wants to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day but only a lucky few really are!

March means the first day of spring, that crocuses will start invading my parents' garden and that we change the clocks.

This year, March also means that (omigod!) Around the Bay is almost here. 

Around the Bay, the oldest race in North America, is always held on the last Sunday in March.  The reason for this is that shipping into Hamilton Harbour starts in April so the race is held in March to avoid conflicts with the lift bridge. 

Back in October, when I registered for ATB, March seemed like a lifetime away. Now that I've flipped my calendar, it's not.  In fact, 27 days from now, I will have already crossed the finish line and will have a 30k race under my belt. Holy bananas!  Apparently time flies when you're training.

Goals for the next 27 days?

- stay strong
- stay healthy
- eat well
- get my runs in
- avoid injury (aka no more hill training for me until after the race)
- massages and visits to the chiropractor
- buy a new running hat because my old one is falling apart (I think I'll wait until the expo for something fun!)
- figure out what race I'm going to do next so I can sign up and keep myself motivated

I'm excited.

I'm nervous.

I'm sure it's going to hurt.

I'm sure I'm going to cross the finish line on my own two feet.

And that, folks, is about all I know.