Saturday, April 30, 2011

Type 1 Does Not Discriminate - Neither Should We

I just read my friend Scully's blog today about running a 5k race to help raise money for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).  She talked about some of the misconceptions that surround Juvenile (aka Type 1) diabetes.  Namely that it only happens to kids.

It often does.  There are hundreds and thousands of children diagnosed with diabetes while still in diapers. It's absolutely awful and I can't imagine the stress on the families as they tried to keep blood sugars under control for little ones that can't tell you when they don't feel right.  Or young children in grade 1 who would rather run around than check their sugar and eat a snack.

But reality is that Juvenile Diabetes is very poorly named. Type 1 diabetes can strike at any age.  It struck me at 28.  It strikes people at 40, 50 and 60.  One day we're fine.  The next, we're drinking water like crazy and weight it dropping off at an alarming rate.  In a few short weeks or months, we end up at the doctor's office or hospital and receive a diagnosis that will change our lives forever.  Type 1 diabetes.  Insulin-dependent.

Nothing we could do about it.  No way to stop it once it starts.  No cure.  A life sentence.

I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that Type 1 diabetes is focused mostly on children.  From a fundraising perspective, it's probably more lucrative because kids have a certain appeal that adults don't.  Kinda like baby seals.  People are drawn to the idea that it's a disease that affects children and they feel compelled to donate.  I'm ok with that because a cure for one is a cure for all (I hope).

But those kids grow up...and they don't outgrow diabetes.  On top of that, plenty of adults are diagnosed with it too and it's no less traumatic to be diagnosed at 28 rather than at 2.

When those adults go to run a 5k race to help raise money for JDRF, they're going to feel left out because the focus is going to be on the kids.

It's ok to focus on the kids - but not at the expense of everyone else.

Good for you Scully.  You ran a great race, had a fabulous finishing time and helped raise money to find a cure for everyone - no matter how old they are.

Friday, April 29, 2011

One Step at a Time

Week one of my pre-marathon training training is almost at an end.

The goal: get used to running 5 days per week so marathon training is not such a shock.

Here's how it went.

Saturday was my regular long run and I did 10k.  Felt pretty good despite (or perhaps because of) having just come off a week's vacation.

Sunday we went cycling.  We survived the cold, rain and wind and I'm fairly sure my legs were thankful for the cross training but they couldn't actually tell me that because they had gone completely hyperthermic. 

Normally, I would run Tuesday and Thursday evening and then the cycle would resume on Saturday.  In an attempt  to get a head start on marathon training, I started increasing my mileage and the number of days I run.  

This week, I ran 5k on Monday, 8k on Tuesday and 5k on Wednesday.  Not much more mileage than I'm used to but more days on my feet than I've ever done before. 

Monday felt fabulous.  Tuesday felt pretty damn good too.  Wednesday my legs told me in no uncertain terms that they had enough.  I did a very very slow 5k with the goal to just keep moving and warm them up.  But my shins and feet were acting up and there was just no energy left in them. 

Thursday I did not run. I went to see my chiropractor who made my shins feels a whole lot better.  Today, Friday, I will not run but this afternoon is my regular massage which should limber things up a bit.

Oh, and I walked around in my Vibrams for about two hours every day.  They feel wonderful and I have to force myself to take them off.  I'm just super-paranoid about overdoing it.

All in all, not too bad for week one. 

The plan for next week is run Saturday (12k), cycle Sunday, run Tuesday (10k), Wednesday (5K) and Thursday (8K).  Despite how it may seem, I do not always have the luxury of having a chiropractor AND massage therapist work on me every week.  Most weeks, it's just me and my legs taking on the world.  So far, they're motivated to perform and not too overwhelmed by what I'm asking of them. 

So far...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hot Stuff

There's just no way around it.

I am one hot chick.

Bedroom window open all winter, comforter tossed to the side, running in -20 without gloves kinda hot.

My internal microwave oven makes me ideally suited to running in Canadian winters.  I love it.  Better yet, I have it all figured out. I know what to wear with every five degree change in temperature and in every sort of wind chill, snow, and icy condition.  I know my layers and we work well together. 

The problems start when the temperate gets to be above zero. 

At plus five, I'm in shorts.  At plus ten, I'm in shorts, a t-shirt and a vest and, by plus fifteen, I'm in shorts and a t-shirt.  Period. 

Things would not be a problem if Canadian summers peaked at plus fifteen.  But they don't.  They have been known to hit plus thirty-five with some nasty-ass humidity thrown in for fun.  This does not stop us from running hours every Saturday morning or doing hill repeats or interval training.  The heat-loving people in my life may disagree but I find it absolutely brutal.

I am not one to run around in my sports bra (between my insulin pump and surgery scars - a bare midriff would take me a wee bit too far out of my comfort zone).  So I'm stuck running in shorts and a t-shirt.  No matter how hot it gets, there are just no more layers to remove. 

I'm excited for spring.  I'm excited to see the buds on the trees and feel the sun on my skin.  But I'm also well aware that the days of running in comfort are rapidly coming to an least until October when things start to cool off again.  So for the next six months I am going to be one hot steamy lady... 

...and not in a good way!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Best of the Best

I bought myself a running hat in Boston. It's black and says Boston on the front in bright beautiful kelly green.  On the back it says "Wicked Fast Runnah" and one can't help but say it with a Boston accent.  I love it. 

I wore it running on Saturday.  It did not take me long to recognize the irony of mon nouveau chapeau.  One would expect to read "Wicked Fast Runnah" on the back of a hat of a runner that blows by you.  In my case, most of my running friends got to read the back of my hat as they blew past me.  Wicked fast runnah indeed! 

I'm ok with my pace - but it is kinda funny. 

On Sunday, I joined the Runners' Edge cycling group for our weekly ride. As per usual, I kept up but just barely.  Again, I'm ok with that.  I figure it's better to hang out with people with whom I have to struggle to keep in sight.  That way I'm pushing myself harder than I would otherwise.  But man, every Saturday run and Sunday cycling is a lesson in humility.   

Every once in a while it's important to step back a bit and get some perspective.  I hang out with runners and cyclists.  They are a strong, fit, kick ass group of people.  Within that group there is a range of abilities.  But the least able person can still run.  Or cycle.  Without collapsing from a heart attack three minutes in.  They are tough as nails, boundary-pushing, courageous athletes. The least fit person in my fitness world is fitter than most people on the planet.  

I need to remember that when I feel twinges of envy watching runners pass me on the hills, during intervals and, let's face it, on long flat stretches of road.  They may be faster than I am but, damn it, I can still run 10k, 20k, 30k.   I have a super healthy diet, I can run for hours and cycle up the Park Road Hill...and I do it all in spite of my faulty pancreas.

So I will wear my Wicked Fast Runnah hat with pride.  Those people I do pass may be impressed and those that pass me will be amused.  Either way, it's a really cool hat.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Battle Plan

I feel like I'm preparing for battle.  The marathon and I will be facing off in a mere six months.  The official training starts on June 20th. That gives me until then to do what I can to prepare.

My goal: to start my training feeling strong and healthy with no lingering injuries.  I've learned from experience that I will be struggling to get through the end of the training because my shins, calves and feet will be pushed beyond their limit.  Hopefully, with some pre-training preparation, I can keep the injury monsters at bay.

First off, thanks to the Boston Expo, I have two shiny new pairs of running shoes.  Normally I can only afford to buy one at a time.  I wear them for all of my runs until they are completely dead and then I buy another pair.  This time around, I'm going to be alternating between two pairs.  As my marathon friends tell me, that gives the shoes a chance to bounce back after each run before I use them again.  So I've cleverly numbered them 1 and 2 and I will be switching between them all season.

I'm also starting to get my feet and calves used to my Vibrams.  The goal is to be able to do my two weekly 5k runs in them to help strengthen my feet and calves.  I'm treating them like just another type of training.  Hills build endurance, intervals build speed and Vibrams (I hope) build strength.  I have no aspirations of ever running super long distances in them - I just want to use them as a way to get stronger.

Next step - track my running.  I have a Garmin which I love but the only thing I use it for is to check my pace and distance while I run.  I don't log my runs, I don't keep track of any improvements in my speed and I don't even wear the heart rate monitor so I have no idea about max heart rate. I just like knowing how fast I'm going at any given moment.  Doug gave me his über-detailed running spreadsheet that will help me track runs, distance, pace and even wear on my shoes.  Fabulous!

I'm making a point of fitting the short recovery runs into my schedule.  I ran 5k this morning and it felt great.  I ran smooth and easy and found myself back home in just over 30 minutes.  I've entered the run into my shiny new spreadsheet and feel ridiculously proud of myself.

Diabetes-wise, I'm going to experiment with food on long runs.  I understand the value of gels but my stomach can only handle one or two before I begin to feel decidedly nauseated.  If I'm going to be running for about 5 hours, I had better figure out a plan.  I'm thinking fig newtons and dates might be  good options.  So I'll start experimenting with them to figure out:
- how to carry them without completely squishing them
- when and how many to eat to keep my blood sugar stable and
- whether they will provide enough energy to keep me going

Rumour has it that running is 10% physical and 90% mental.  In my case, I think it's 10% physical, 20% diabetic and 70% mental.  On the bad days, it's more like 70% diabetic and the problem is that no amount of planning will guarantee a good run.  This summer I will be entering uncharted territory in terms of distance and time spent running.  The only way I know how to deal with that is by making sensible, yet flexible, plans.  I'm not one to stress about a missed run, a forgotten Garmin or a bad diabetes run.  Having a plan designed to keep me focused, fit and healthy, I can better handle the challenges that I will face over the next few months.

Stay tuned folks - I'll keep you posted on all things Vibram, diabetic and marathon-related.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lucky Number Five

First run in eight days today.  Apparently when I go to Boston to see a marathon I don't actually need to run.  I can just let everyone else run for me.  I filled a travel bag with good intentions: running clothes for all weathers and I fully planned to run three times while away.  Well, life happens and sometimes running needs to take a back seat.

I'm not training for a race at the moment so that pressure was off.

Doug wasn't running either after his marathon so that motivation was gone too.

So I tossed any feelings of guilt into the ocean and enjoyed a week's vacation.

We walked a lot - does that count??

We left Cape Cod yesterday morning for the long drive back to Canada.  Ten hours it took to get home.  Just the right amount of time for legs to swell, feel full of lead and laugh hysterically at the very idea of running.

Runners' Edge at 8am helped get things back on track.  I had no idea what my legs would feel like but it was great to be back.  Great to see people, share Boston stories and feel that motivation that comes from running with friends.

The run went fairly well actually.  My blood sugar behaved which is pretty impressive after a week of not running.  My legs held up and my body persevered in spite of the incredible wind that had us almost standing still at certain points. It felt harder than I would have liked it to feel but is was fun!

I'm now in the process of slowly, very slowly, breaking in my Vibram Five Fingers.  My goal is to build up to being able to run 5k so that I can wear them for my two shorter runs during the marathon training clinic which starts in June.  So today I'm wearing them around the house for an hour or two as I putter with laundry and other post-trip tasks.  Pretty freakin' sexy if I do say so myself.

A strange, amphibious, alien-like kinda sexy.

Poor Doug - between my five fingers, recovery socks and recovery tights - he's a brave soul indeed.

Marathon training apparently requires that we run five times per week.  I've trained for half marathons and a 30k race only ever running 3 times per week plus a Sunday bike ride.  Seemed like enough for me plus I have other things to do and fitting in three runs was enough of a challenge.  FIVE??  Plus a bike ride?  Some quick mathematical calculations tell me that I will have one, count it, one day off per week.  For four months.  Is this crazy? It sure as hell feels crazy...

Then again, so has every other running challenge I've undertaken. I've learned to just keep running as the voices in my head tell me how crazy I am.  Carry on little soldier.

So I start this week with four runs and a bike ride.  And a bit of time each day walking around in my five fingers.  Maybe next week I'll try a ten minute five fingered run to see how it goes.  Then fifteen, twenty and, soon enough, I'll be up to 5k and five runs a week.

Just in time for marathon training to begin.

Absolutely freakin' crazy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Five Percent

Apparently the sun does shine in Provincetown.  Even the locals are shocked at the weather today.  Blue skies, never-ending sunshine and, if you find a spot that's sheltered from the wind - it's actually kinda warm.  Not hot mind you but the wind has lost a bit of its nordic bite.  Nice!

Nice day to sit on the deck after breakfast, go for a morning bike ride through town and try our luck at whale watching after lunch.

In yesterday's blog, I mentioned some facts about right whales.  I have never seen one before and never been whale watching when they were in town so I was not aware of the rules.  Rules change when the rights are in the bay.  Ships must move slowly and must stay a prescribed distance away at all times.  Not exactly humpback watching where they swim right up to the boat to check us out.  But I was still excited to climb on board and feel the salt spray in my face.

According to current research, there are only about 400 right whales left.  Period.  Hunted down from tens of thousands to a mere handful.  According to recent flights over the bay, there were just over 100 right whales right off the coast of Provincetown.  Over 1/4 of all the rights in the world are swimming just outside our window.  That's pretty amazing! We left the pier and, within minutes, were spotting whale spouts all over the place.

We might not be allowed to approach them but they seemed ok getting pretty close to us!

Right whales feed on copepods which are tiny little lobster-like critters that swim in huge swarms this time of year.  So the whales just cruise along with their mouths open and take in huge mouthfuls of them at a time. Kinda like what people do at Mandarin buffets...

On the way back to the pier, we spotted one last whale.  He was slapping his flipper over and over against the water.  According to the onboard naturalist, they do this to communicate with other whales.  I  prefer to think that he was waving goodbye.

All in all, we saw about twenty different right whales.  In other words, five percent of the world population.  Ah-mazing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

East Coast Weather

It's cold, windy and rainy on the East Coast. 

Everything is as it should be. 

My father is French Canadian and, from my mother's side, I come from good strong Irish stock.  From the land of sunshine, rain, ocean winds and fog - often occurring one after another in quick succession.  You might leave the house in a t-shirt but bring a warm coat and umbrella just in case.  

This is the weather that I love.  It's so wild and unpredictable.   Fog is my absolute favourite because it cloaks everything in mystery.  That feeling that there could be whales just offshore is quite compelling.

Today was a smorgasbord of experiences.  First stop - laundry.  Clean underwear and socks do wonders for one's ability to enjoy each day to the fullest.  So we popped in a load of laundry and headed out to explore the art galleries of Provincetown... 

...which apparently don't open until the tourists arrive in May.

Coming in the off season means we can enjoy the town without tripping over other tourists but it also means that things might not be open when we'd like them to be.  I'm ok with that tradeoff.  I like the peace and quiet.

Provincetown, for those of you who might not know, is a meca for artists, dog lovers, gay men, lesbian women and transvestites.  Which makes for entertaining people watching and shopping.  We have seen big burly men walking (and talking to) their very well groomed lap dogs.  We have walked into a corner store to find anal douches where the city maps should be.  And we stopped in a chocolate shop to discover an entire wall dedicated to chocolate body parts.  And I'm not talking arms and legs...

...I'm talking about nipple chocolates, penis sculptures and vagina suckers...

We did not buy any but we sure as hell took pictures! 

After lunch, we drove to a nearby beach.  We hadn't even stopped the car when I spotted a whale spout on the horizon.  The rights whales were feeding just offshore!!  

Right whales, for your information, were given that name by whalers centuries ago.  Why?  Because they are very slow moving and, unlike some other whales, they float when they're killed.  So they were considered the right whale to catch.  

That name makes me sad.  

The fact that they are swimming right off the coast makes me happy. At one point, right whales had been driven almost to extinction but they're making a comeback and we got to see them.  I've never seen a right whale before so that made it even more exciting.  I thought I'd have trouble recognizing them from so far away but, after seeing so many humpback and finback whales, I could tell these boys were different.  Wicked! 

It has taken me a grand total of five seconds to readjust to life by the ocean.  I'm sleeping better and feel a sense of peace that I feel nowhere else.  

I'm an ocean girl.  


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wicked Fast Runnahs

Boston morning arrived with a whisper.  5am alarms were going off all over the city and runners slipped out of bed and into their carefully laid out running clothes.  Breakfasts happened quietly in dimly lit kitchens.  

My running man was calm and contemplative.  There will be plenty of time for excitement and adrenaline.  Gotta pace yourself right from the get go.

At six am Doug quietly opened the door of the apartment just as another runner walked out of their room. 25,000 of them are pouring into the streets and heading for the buses that will drive them to Hopkinton. The Boston marathon, as I discovered, does not start in Boston.  It starts far out in a little town called Hopkinton that is just about to be swarmed by runners.  When the race starts, they will run through six towns before they enter Boston for the final stretch.

There were several start times.  The wheelchair racers started first at 9:17am.  The elite women were next.  At 10am the elite men and the first wave of runners started.  The second wave was at 10:20am and the final one at 10:40am.  Because of their qualifying times, Doug and Jim were in wave 2. The rest of the Runners' Edgers were in wave 3.

Thanks to modern technology, we were able to track runners online and could see at what times they crossed each 5k mark.  It's reassuring to be able to see that those you care about are doing fine and holding their pace.  During one stretch Doug's pace dropped significantly and a bit of worry set in.  Turns out he was too hot and had to stop to take off a few layers and reattach his bib number to his t-shirt.

Spectators started lining the streets near the finish line at 7:30am.  Janice and I arrived at 10:30am and staked out a spot right outside the apartment.  The Boston marathon basically runs down one long road and then makes two famous turns at the end.  Right on Hereford and left on Boylston to the finish line.  Our apartment was on Hereford so we could see the runners turn the corner for the final stretch.

Being that close to the finish line means that we got to see all sorts of things.  We got to see the elite runners battle for first place.

We got to see the pain and determination on their faces.

We got to see the famous people.

And we got to see the sheer joy some runners felt as they reached the end of their Boston journey.

The crowds were amazing.   They screamed and clapped for hours and ramped it up to fever pitch for the runners who needed it.  After running for hours, some runners had nothing left.  They came to halt and start walking.  That's when the crowd would start cheering them on.  When they found the strength to run again, the cheer turned into a roar.  Countless runners were carried across the finish line by the power of the crowd.  

It's difficult to describe how it feels to be in Boston and to experience the marathon.  As a spectator, the sights are forever burned into my mind and the screams and cheers are still reverberating in my head.  As a runner, I'm sure it's a completely different and yet no less moving experience to run down the roads of history.

Walking back to the apartment afterwards, people on the streets burst into spontaneous applause when a marathoner walked by.  Runners wore their medals with pride and anyone who struggled to step up on to a curb was looked at as a hero.  Those who didn't run can't really know what it felt like, how hard it was and what demons were conquered.  But we do know that it takes a degree of strength and passion that has the power to move people to tears.

Congratulations runners!  You have run your dream and, in doing so, inspired others to dream with you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Living Every Moment

Day three of the Boston marathon (as I am now calling the days leading up to the actual race) began at 4:50am.  We awoke to a dark, cold and rainy world.  A quick shower and breakfast and we were out the door.  I am the warm blooded half of the couple and I left wearing two pairs of pants, two shirts, a hoodie and a jacket.  Nasty stuff.  

We hurried through the sleeping streets to the big white tent next to the finish line.  The Boston 5k race starts at 8am and we were lucky enough to be volunteers.  Shift duty started at 6am and, to be quite honest, I could not wait to get my very own Boston volunteer jacket.  The best part was that all the Runners' Edgers who were in Boston were volunteering. From all corners of the city they came.  Eight hours from home and I'm surrounded by friends in matching hoodies.  How very cool is that?  

Even cooler was when two runners from our group showed up to run.  They had received two last-minute entries and drove all the way from St. Catharines to Boston to run the 5k.  

Having run in plenty of races, it's nice to experience what the folks on the other side of the table do.  As the wind whipped and the rain lashed, we unloaded fruit cups, gatorade and bagels.  Lots and lots of them.  There were over 5,000 runners registered for the 5k which is pretty unbelievable compared to the races we're just to.  Once everything was set up we were put on guard duty to stop the runners from sneaking food and water before the race even started. 

The wind stopped, the rain cleared and the sun came out on time for the race.  We got to watch the start and then we were put on medal duty.  Unwrap 5,000 medals and get ready to hand them out.  

The first runner came roaring in at around 14 minutes.  The second was just behind him and then the insanity started and continued for 45 minutes.  The tent was packed as the herd moved through.  I spotted our two runner girls and had the honour of placing medals around their necks.  Another Boston moment. 

By 9:30am, our shift was done and we were ready to take on the town.  Doug headed out for his pre-race run and I headed down to Marathon Sports to buy myself a pair of Vibrams.  Yes folks - I now own five-fingered shoes and cannot wait to try them out.  

Run done and shoes purchased, we hopped on the subway and headed to the New England Aquarium.  Also known as the place where my marine biology dreams began.  It still looked the same - the same fabulous exhibits and the same amazing tank full of shark, rays, fish of all shapes and sizes and the giant turtle who has been there for forty years.  

This would be me holding a vertebrae from a humpback whale.   

And this would be a lovely sea dragon.  Which immediately made me think of My Little Pony.  

We headed to the Italian district for the requisite pre-race pasta dinner.  So did the rest of the 25,000 runners apparently.  We were lucky enough to beat the crowd and discovered a fabulous little spot called Marco.

They sat us at the bar and we were entertained by Matt, our charming bartender.  His dinner recommendations were spot on and his dessert ones were just as good.  Cannolis from Bova!  Yum!

One more stop on the way home.  We had already had dessert but someone had a craving.  And he's got a big race to run so how could I possibly say no??

Next stop: Hopkington.  For the start of the world famous Boston Marathon.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Boston - Deuxième Journée

The marathoners are here!  Run for your lives!!

There seems to be something big happening in Boston.  Tall fit skinny runners from across the globe are walking the streets of beantown.  Stores and restaurants are triple and quadruple staffed and there is absolute gridlock near the expo because pedestrians outnumber cars 10 to 1.  Cars just can't compete.  Share the road indeed! 

This morning basically confirmed how over the top and crazy it gets on race weekend.  The expo opened at 9am. So, we waltzed over there around 8:45am to find hundreds of runners already lined up.  In the ten minutes after we arrived, hundreds and hundreds more gathered behind us.  I had a sinking feeling that it would take a long time before we got inside. And yet, when the doors opened, we were completely swallowed up by the Hynes Convention Centre.  Plenty of room for a few thousand more.   

Step one - get your race bib.  
We just happened to spot Jim and his wife Janice in the crowd and apparently Doug and Jim run a very similar pace because, in a race of 25,000 runners, their numbers are ridiculously close.  

Step two - get your race shirt.

I did not take pictures of this part because, to be quite honest, the pictures would be x-rated.  You should have seen it - it was bedlam.  Runners got their shirts and immediately stripped down to make sure they fit.  Bare chested men and bra-clad women filled the room.  Apparently when you're used to dashing behind a bush to pee, peeling off your clothes in front of complete strangers is no big deal. 

Once the business was done it was time for the expo. And, as expected, it was fabulous!  We spent over three hours checking out vendors, agonizing over what Boston clothes to buy, watching emotional race videos and trying out all sorts of electrolyte, high protein, high energy snacks.  How my blood sugar was 5.2 at the end of it all I'll never know.  

I went to the expo with a few goals.  Find my favourite running shoes at a fabulous price (done!), buy some recovery sandals because I hate wearing running shoes all the time (done! and they're purple!!),  buy another pair or two of recovery socks (done and they are SO comfy!!)

I also tried on the coolest, most comfortable running shoes I have ever put on my feet - Vibram Five Fingers.  They're supposed to be great at building strength in your feet and calves thereby reducing shin splints and plantar fasciitis - my two nemeses. 

Now I have to decide if I want to buy them.  Any thoughts running friends??

Running brings out all sorts of emotions.  Today had a few teary moments and plenty of awe but for the most part I just kept flip-flopping between two thoughts: "Omigod I want to be a marathoner" and "Damn it! I could totally be a marathoner!"  

I now have a new dream and several lofty goals but, in the meantime, it's pretty fabulous to just be here soaking it all in and occasionally being mistaken for someone who really could run the distance.  

This man, on the other hand, can definitely run the distance.  So on Monday morning he'll tie up his running shoes and become part of history...again.

And I'll be the one waiting at the finish line with a bottle of eload, some warm clothes and a wagon to pull him home.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's Been Too Long

Dear Boston,

It's Céline.  I don't know if you remember me.  I've gotten a little taller and a lot older since the last time we've seen each other.  I'm the girl who used to gaze into the water looking for mermaids.  The one who loved to eat oyster crackers and who wanted to go whale watching every day.

I'm back for a visit and I wanted to say hi.

I'm a runner girl now.  I have diabetes and I wear an insulin pump.  I work with people, not whales.  That might surprise you.  It's nice to be back and I just wanted to thank you.

Thank you for lining the streets with motivational photos of the marathon.

Thank you for the posters in the subway station. 

Thank you for filling the city with runners - long, lanky, beautiful runners that exude health and fitness.

Thank you for mistaking me for a marathoner - twice!

Thank you for the delicious clam chowder, mussels and lobster.

Thank you for the cute little apartment right on the race route and thank you for putting a bunch of Canadians in the same building with us. 

Thank you for getting all the cold weather out of the way today.  Doug likes it a little warmer than it was today so, if you don't mind, an extra ten degrees and a lot less wind would be just fabulous. He would be ever so grateful!

I've missed you Boston.  It's good to be back.

See you in the morning!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

On The Road Again...

Our Boston 2011 road trip begins at the crack of dawn.  I waltzed out of the office today at 4:28pm and promptly forgot where I work, what my job title is and what's on my to do list for April 26th.

I am VERY good at being on vacation.

We leave in the morning so we're fully immersed in the fun job of packing.  The last load of laundry is in the dryer and the bed is covered with stuff that we will somehow find a way to fit into the car.

This is where being a diabetic, runner, photographer girl becomes a bit of a problem.

I am going to be away for 8 days.  So I must pack enough diabetes supplies for twice that time.  Because you NEVER know.  So I have insulin, infusion sets, test strips, juice boxes (never be without those again), fast acting carbs, batteries and a back-up needle in case my pump dies.  Not exactly going to fit in my purse is it?

Just because I won't actually be running the Boston marathon doesn't mean I won't be running a few times while we're away.  So my running clothes, snacks, water bottles, shoes, Garmin etc fill another bag.  I haven't decided yet if I want to toss my yoga mat and Triggerpoint in the car just in case...

Boston and Cape Cod are beautiful and I cannot wait to photograph the city, the race, the sunsets and everything in between.  So I need a camera, several lenses, filters, flash, tripod, a camera raincoat in case it rains, batteries and a laptop.

Two runners on a road trip means lots of snacks.  The kitchen counter is covered with Cliff bars, larabars, granola bars, cereal, peanut butter, pitas etc to keep us from getting too crankypants between meals.

Oh, and I might want to change clothes once or twice while we're away...

It will fit and it will be fine.

I'm sure it will...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Dreamed a Dream

When I was a little girl my family and I would hop in the station wagon and drive down to Cape Cod Massachusetts for our annual two week camping trip.

My younger sisters would stretch out in the back of the station wagon (seat belts?  what seat belts?) and I would take over the middle seat. We would drive down with the car loaded to the gills and pulling a camper behind us.  Our ever resourceful mother would head to the public library to get books on tape and would pack a bag full of activity books and other educational slash fun things to keep the wee ladies entertained.  Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang was the family favourite and we listened to it countless times as we headed for the coast.

We always camped at Peter's Pond, a campground with, you guessed it, a large pond that we could swim in.  Every day we would leave the campground and head out exploring.  We spent days on the beach, drove to Boston and visited the aquarium, drove to Salem and visited the horrifying Salem witch museum, ate saltwater taffy and went whale watching.

One summer, we found a beach where people were clam digging and we joined right in, collecting buckets of them.  We returned to the campground and my parents prepared a dinner of clams and spaghetti-o's. They had horrified looks on their faces because they had not realized that we needed a licence to dig for clams and we had horrified looks on our faces because they were ruining a perfectly good can of spaghetti-o's.

My birthday often happened during the trip and it was a challenge for my parents to find a cake for my birthday dinner.  Creativity was the name of the game.

My birthday bread loaf is still a family joke. 

Summers spent by the ocean gave me a love of the sea.  The ocean is where I feel at home and at peace. The smells, the waves, the ocean wind - they are in my blood.  So much so that, in grade three, I decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist.  That dream did not fade through the rest of grade school or high school and I headed to university to make it happen.  I did.  On paper, I am a marine biologist and I can pull out my degree to prove it.  I have dissected sharks and chased whales.  I understand ocean currents and think estuaries are fascinating.  Give me a tide pool and I'll be engrossed for hours.  Give me a snorkel and mask and I won't be home until supper.

My marine biology dream ended the day I walked into my current place of employment.  I was looking for a summer job to tide me over while I figured out the next step in my journey.  During that summer I discovered that I like working with people and that I'm pretty good at it.  I've never left.  Most days, I'm quite ok with that.

But the closer I get to the Boston marathon the louder the ocean is calling my name.  It has been a long long time since I've tasted the salty air.  I'm ready.  I'm ready to visit my old aquarium, chase whales, sit by the sea and dream the dreams that a long haired little girl used to dream.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Insulin Pump Photoshoot

As promised, here is the visual play by play of me changing the infusion site for my insulin pump.

These are the supplies I need.  An infusion set, a vial of insulin and a reservoir.

Step one: prime the reservoir.  In other words, pump it a few times to ensure the inside is lubricated (sounds weird but that's what the nurse told me to do so I do it).

Step 2: fill reservoir with insulin.  My reservoir can hold up to 3.0ml of insulin - enough to keep me alive for 4-5 days.

One full reservoir - and with no air bubbles.  Fabulous!

This is the tube that connects me to the insulin pump.  One end attaches to the reservoir, the other to the infusion site.

This fancy thing is the infusion set. Brace yourselves - the next few photos involve needles and a wee droplet of blood.

In order to get the small tube into my body, I have to insert it with a needle.  Needle and tube go in, needle comes out leaving the tube inside.

In this photo, I've inserted the needle and am about to pull it out.

I'm removing the old infusion set.  See the tiny little tube?  That's all that was inside of me.  It's a soft plastic and, once in, I can't feel it at all.

That's the tiny tube.

Now that the infusion site is ready to go, I have to put the new reservoir into the insulin pump.

I then pump insulin through the tube and ensure that there are no air bubbles lurking anywhere.

The tube is full of insulin and I send a little bit out the end before I attach it - again, it's all about clearing out any air bubbles.

I plug myself in and am good to go for another few days.  I send a tiny amount of insulin in to fill the little bit of tube inside me and my pancreas is up and running.

One more needle shot because they're just so scary looking :)

Well folks, I hope that helps those of you who prefer visuals and I apologize if I freaked out anyone with needle issues.

They Earned It

One week from today tens of thousands of athletes will be running the 115th Boston marathon.  Every runner followed their own journey to get to that start line.  Journeys filled with hope, pain, injury, tears and ultimately success.  They made it.  They qualified.  They earned the right to join the ranks and run the fabled forty-two point two kilometers.

There is a mystique to Boston that inspires those who have what it takes to qualify.  That same mystique humbles and awes those of us who don't.  It's always asked in a whisper, with a sense of reverence.

"you ran Boston?"  "wow"

And then one has to fight the urge to kneel before them. 

Don't get me wrong.  Those runners I know who have run Boston do not demand our respect.  They do not brag of their accomplishment.  They just exude a certain je ne sais quoi that gets our attention. They wear the jacket and that is enough.

The logo is instantly recognizable. The colours are too.  In fact, runners know what year someone ran because of the colour of their jacket. 

"Did you run the black and red year?  Or the blue and yellow year?" 

In a sport that welcomes all body sizes, speeds and abilities Boston sets expectations and demands them to be met. Most of us will never get there.  That's ok.  Because most of us know someone who ran Boston.  And that's just as awesome.

This time next week the runners will be running Boston.  And those of us who love running will be there just to breathe it all in.  To support our friends and loved ones.  To volunteer.  To stand at the finish line for a photo.  To cry as Dick Hoyt runs past pushing his son Rick in a wheelchair. To watch in awe as the winner finishes a marathon in less time that it takes us to run a half.  Way less time.

I will go to the expo and touch all the beautiful Boston clothes.  This year the colours are a very Irish kelly green and black.  If I were running, I would buy a closet full.  I'm not running so I will not buy anything that might make someone think I did. 

If I earn it - I'll wear it.  Until that day, I will hold the hand of someone who has earned it. 

That is enough.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Climb Back On

I have felt many emotions at the hand of diabetes.  I have felt humbled, frustrated, uncomfortable, capable, and inspired just to name a few.

I rarely feel scared.

This morning, around 3:30am, diabetes scared me.  It scared the shit out of me.

But it all started around 9:30pm last night so that's where the story begins.

Last night, Doug and I hosted a small dinner party with wonderful friends and delicious (if I do say so myself) food.  It started around 5 and, by 9:30pm, all was cleaned up and put away and we were watching the last end of the Scotland vs Norway curling game.

I checked my blood sugar and it was 3.0.  For those who might not know, that's pretty low.  Anything under 4.0 is a problem and the lower it gets, the bigger the problem it is.

So, it's 9:30pm and my blood sugar is 3.0.  Here's what I had to consider.  I took my dinner insulin bolus towards the end of the meal because most of the carbs were in the dessert portion.  So I had only taken insulin an hour prior.  Which means that the bolus was still working on the food I had eaten and my sugar was going to continue to drop.  I also knew that I had had a few glasses of wine which usually results in a lower blood sugar in the middle of the night (it's a liver thing).  So I had to eat and I had to eat a lot.

I had a banana, two dates, a scoop of nutella and some raisins.  All in all, probably close to 60 carbs.  That, I hoped, would take care of the immediate low and the one that I figured would happen around 3am.

I went to bed.

I woke up at 1:30am feeling pretty crappy.  Crappy like I had drunk two bottles of wine crappy.  So I checked my sugar.

It was 20.2

That, my friends, is bordering on insane.  I have had to figure out enough pre-bed snacks to know that I did not eat enough to go from 3.0 to 20.2.  What the hell was going on??

So I told my pump that I was 20.2 and it did the math and told me that I needed 4.6 units of insulin to bring me back down to a good number (5-7).  I took a little less than that to be on the safe side.  I didn't want to go from too high to too low - the yoyo thing sucks.  So I took less insulin than the pump suggested and figured I would wake up in the morning with a number between 8-9.

I went back to sleep.

I woke up two hours later and knew we had a problem.  I checked my sugar again and this time it was 1.7

I believe that is the lowest I have ever been in my life.  Readers with diabetes can probably imagine how scary that number would be.  For those of you without it, trust me.  It feels awful (you're shaking from head to toe, you're sweating so much you've created a small lake in the bed, you're scared and your heart is pounding in your ears).  My brain immediately asked "what happens if you drop to zero?"  I have no idea and I have no desire to EVER find that out.

The best solution in an emergency like that is send the person next to you to get juice NOW!  Problem was that we ran out of juice that evening.  And chocolate milk.  So, rather than explain what I needed, I woke Doug up and told him to come to the kitchen with me and make sure I didn't collapse.

I gagged down a few spoonfuls of honey (I hate honey but it works).  I mixed a glass of water and sugar and drank that. I ate nutella and I had handfuls of raisins.  I stumbled back to bed and checked my sugar again.



I told Doug that if I collapsed, had a seizure or whatever, to just call 911.

I had more carbs.

Ten minutes later I was 5.5.


I figured that my sugar would just continue to climb since I had eaten so much food but I didn't care.  After 1.7, I would take 20.  Anything to escape that terrifying number.

I lay there shivering while my body recovered and eventually fell asleep.  When I woke up this morning, I was 8.6.

Like nothing had happened.

Sunday morning is cycling morning.  I was exhausted when the alarm went off at 6:30 and felt like I had been to hell and back.

Not only did I wake up exhausted, I woke up terrified that it could happen again.  What if it happens when I'm out riding?  Out running?  Alone??  I just wanted to go back to sleep.  I didn't want to to anything that might cause my sugar to drop again. But I knew that I had to go riding this morning otherwise the fear would keep building and I'd be too afraid to run on Tuesday.  Get back on the horse.  Immediately.  Before the fear wins.  

So I did.  I did my usual routine, ate my usual breakfast, took my usual bolus and went cycling with my friends.

Everything went well and my blood sugar behaved.

I have no idea what really happened last night but it taught me a few lessons.  I'm heading out to buy juice boxes that will stay by the bed.  Others will be kept downstairs and I will NOT run out again.

A little voice keeps popping in my head saying "you could have died last night".

Lesson learned.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Insulin Pump Primer - Part 1

This morning I ran a great 10k.  Because of my recent race followed by a recovery week, it was the first time in a month that I went to Runners' Edge for my Saturday morning run.  It was gorgeous and sunny out this morning and, because the new running clinics have started, the place was overrun with runners of all shapes and sizes.  I'm not good at estimating but there must have been over 100 runners.  Crazy.

As I stood in the store waiting for the run to start, several people came up to me to say that they read Running on Carbs regularly.  Wow, thanks!  They also said that they had no idea how challenging running with diabetes could be.  They were surprised at how small my insulin pump is and how that blue thing clipped to my pants was keeping me alive.  They asked how it was attached and how it worked.

So I thought it might be time for an insulin pump primer.

First off, I apologize as there are no photos to accompany this entry.  I need to change my insertion site (more on that in a minute) in a day or two so I'll take some photos that might help make sense of the mysterious pump.

So, here's how it works.

My pancreas does not produce insulin.  Period.  My body (like yours) needs insulin to survive.  Think of insulin as a key that 'unlocks' muscles to let glucose in.  Without insulin, the glucose (or sugar) in the bloodstream will continue to rise to dangerous levels.  Worse case, with no insulin at all, the body could not survive very long (a couple of days at the most).  Not good.

Since my pancreas can't make the insulin I need, I use an insulin pump to get it. Other people use needles but I prefer the pump. The insulin pump is a small machine that delivers a constant stream of insulin into my body.

There are two words that are commonly associated with insulin (basal and bolus). I only take one type of insulin (Humalog) so the words basal and bolus are used to differentiate how it is used. Basal insulin is the amount of insulin my body needs to deal with regular physiological processes.  A slow, steady trickle is released from the pump and that is the basal insulin.

Bolus insulin is the insulin I take whenever I eat.  With every meal or snack, I have to figure out how many carbohydrates I'm about to eat. Then I check my sugar to see if it's high (over 8), in a good range (5-7)  or low (under 4).  I tell the pump what my blood sugar is and how many carbs I'm about to eat and it does a little mathematical calculation and tells me how much insulin I should take.  If I agree, I hit the button and it gives me the bolus.  There are other factors that affect the amount of bolus I will take (am I going to exercise after I eat?  How long and hard will I be exercising?) but that's for another blog entry.

So, the insulin pump looks like a pager and is typically clipped on to my belt.  When I run, it's sometimes tucked in my pocket.

The pump is connected to my body by a thin tube that is a few feet long.  The tube enters my body at the insertion site.  There is probably about an inch of the tube inside of me.  I know it sounds kinda gross but it's really not.

It doesn't hurt and I can lie on the insertion site without being bothered at all.

Every 4-5 days, I have to change the insertion site.  When I change the site, I also refill the pump with insulin. The entire process takes about five minutes and then I'm good to go.    

I can 'unhook' the pump to shower or if I want to go swimming but I really shouldn't have it off for more than an hour.  Typically, it's off for about 10 minutes a day (shower time) and that's it.  I'm hooked up at all times, even when I sleep.

If you haven't been exposed to the pump, it might sound like a very intrusive thing to be attached to all the time.  Having used it for over two years, I can assure you that it's not.  It keeps me alive and lets me do the things I want to do.  No complaints from this girl.

So folks, here's the deal. I write this blog to help people understand more about diabetes and to connect with others.  So, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to fire them my way.  I'll do my best to answer.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Day to Remember

Today I met one of my heroes.

He doesn't run, cycle, have diabetes or take amazing photographs (that I know of).

He drinks tea, not coffee.  He likes movies and dogs.  He thinks I look a lot like a girl named Emily.

His name is Dave Hingsburger and he fights for the little guy.

More importantly - he teaches them how to fight for themselves.

Dave teaches people to say no.  Actually, he teaches them to say NO!!  No to abuse.  No to discrimination.  No to people telling them how to feel or act.

Dave and his partner Joe came to our agency today. They came to teach a class on abuse to adults with a developmental disability.  Because people with developmental disabilities are more likely to be abused than any other population.

And the majority of this abuse is done by staff who are supposedly there to support them.

Think about that for a moment and let the horror of it sink in.

So Dave and Joe came to our agency today to teach people that they have a voice.  A right to say no. And a responsibility to speak up so that abuse stops.

Their two hour class was informative, hilarious and empowering.  I was there to learn how to teach the material but my role was to sit quietly, not offer any answers and not help anyone.

Within minutes, Dave had built a sense of trust in the room.  He empowered people to speak up, help their peers, share their feelings and stand up for themselves.  It was extremely moving to watch.  People with whom I work with every day surprised me.  Over and over.  Quiet people found their voice and said no.  People who are easily upset or stressed participated happily in role plays.  People who can't read offered to stand in front of the group and read - with help from a peer.

Today was every bit the day that I hoped it would be.

Dave and Joe were every bit as charming, entertaining, approachable and passionate as I hoped they would be.

The people who took the class were every bit as engaged, respectful and eager to learn as I hoped they might be.

And the staff left the session every bit as inspired as I hoped they would be.

It's nice when you set high standards for everyone and they exceed them by a mile.

Thank you Dave.  Thank you Joe.  You have reminded this girl why she does what she does.  I hope we can carry the torch that has been passed to us with the care and respect it deserves.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

iDream of iPads

Anyone know of a little company called Apple? 

They make neat little gadgets that play music and sexy-looking computers and laptops. 

You may have heard of them.

My family and I have been fans of Apple since their first computer came out and, other than my computer at work *sigh* my life is 100% Mac.  The Mac vs PC debate does not need to happen in our house.  There are three laptops, one desktop, two phones and several mp3 players that are all sporting the ubiquitous apple logo on them.  Oh and an AppleTV just to round things out in the entertainment department.

If Apple made insulin pumps, I would use theirs without question.  It would be stylish, have fabulous features, be absolutely intuitive and probably sing me to sleep if I wanted.

I have a few loves in my life.  Apple products are one of them. 

Reading is another. 

I learned how to read before they taught us in school and never looked back. I devour books and share the best ones with friends.  I've been accused of peddling books the way some people deal heroin.  At one point, three ladies with whom I shared an office were all reading the same book series at the same time and each one of them came in every morning with their update.  Having already read the books, I loved hearing their reactions to the latest plot twist - knowing that an even crazier one was lurking in the next chapter. 

For me, reading is both a solitary and a group activity.  Holding a book is a very tactile experience. I love watching my books get more and more worn as they exchange hands. I love a bookshelf overloaded with memories and I love rereading the best of the best. 

So here's the problem. I'm feeling a greater and greater pull to merge my two loves: Apple and reading.

The reason that I am agonizing?  the iPad. 

The thought of reading the newspaper or my favourite blogs on an iPad is quite appealing.  Yet, the thought of reading a book on an iPad still feels very aversive to me. 

I understand the appeal, I really do.  It's portable - I can bring a huge collection of books on vacation and never exceed the weight restriction on the plane.  It's instant.  I decide I want to read a book and it's on the iPad in seconds.  It's environmentally friendly - no trees will be cut down to support my habit. 

But I like holding my books.  I like the weight of them on my chest when I read in bed.  I like watching the bookmark migrate a little more each day. I like how pretty books can be.  I love lending them to friends and having them returned covered in coffee stains and apologies.  Books are meant to be read, shared and treasured.


The sad thing is that I know how this will turn out.  I know what will win out in the end.  I will be reading books on an iPad.

I think I'm just sad because it feels like the end of an era.  It was no big deal to go from cassettes to CDs and an even smaller deal to go from CD walkmen to iPods.  But it felt like the end of something important when we went from records to cassettes. 

That's how I feel now.  Maybe because books have been the norm for my entire life and, in a world that changes by the minute, that's a very very long time.  Maybe because I will agonize until I finally get an iPad and then, in a few years, there will be something to replace that.  I feels like I will be trading in a faithful friend for the gadget of the moment. 

Let me just get through the pile of books by the bed first and then I'll decide...

Of course by then it will be my birthday and I will probably get a few books as gifts...

...and then it's Christmas...


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Kitten and the Crow

I was reading Oh She Glows, one of my favourite food blogs this morning, and Angela had a video posted.  It was filmed a long time ago and Allan Thicke (the dad from Growing Pains) narrates.  The story is about a wee kitten who was rescued by a kindly crow and the friendship that developed between them.  If you have seven minutes, it's worth a watch.

The story has been rattling around in my head all morning.  Partly because the kitten is just so damn cute and the scenes of the two animals interracting are wonderful.  But mostly because it's such an unusual relationship.  Sworn enemies that, for whatever reason, don't see or don't care about their differences.  And they sure as hell don't care about what their friends might say as they stroll down the street together, tail in wing.

Perhaps they never learned that cats eat birds. 

Or that birds should be really really afraid of cats. 

I'm currently in the middle of a really good book called The Help.  It's set in Mississipi during the Martin Luther King era and it's about three ladies (two are black and work as maids and one is white and trying to make a difference).  The maids are responsible for, among other things, raising the children of their white employers.  When the children are young, they love their nannies and see no difference between them and anyone else in the house.  But, as their parents teach them the difference between black and white, the children develop prejudices and the cycle of racism continues.  One nanny tries to teach the children that everyone is the same on the inside but she knows her words and stories can't compete with the reality of the situation. It's awful because she knows that one day her beloved little darling is going to hate her.

Maybe someone forgot to tell the crow that it should have let the kitten die lest the kitten grow up and kill him one day. 

Maybe someone forgot to tell the kitten that crows are tasty snacks.

Maybe we could all learn a lesson from them.

Forget our differences. Let's share a worm and a plate of cat food and take a stroll down the street together.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Next Generation of Nutters

The wind is blowing from the west at 28km/h with gusts of 37km/hour.  It's already down to 4 degrees and dropping fast. 

And I have to run in an hour. 

Actually no, that's not true.  I don't have to run.  I want to run. 

Verrrry different.

There are no training schedules telling me what to do.  No pressure to fit the runs in. I'm just feeling the urge to go for a run.  Wizard of Oz winds be damned: I'm heading out after work for a wee trot down the local streets.

Which begs a few questions... 

What do you call a runner who heads out in nasty weather because they are training and need to get their run in? 


What do you call a runner who heads out in nasty weather with absolutely no excuse other than they feel like going for a run?

A nutter?

It's pretty easy to look at anyone who has a lifestyle different from our own and make some snap judgements.  But the choices we make make sense to us.  So, I won't make fun of you for going home and staying inside tonight if you don't make fun of me for going for a run in a windstorm.


By the way, I'm not the only nutter out there. The new Beginner Running Clinic starts tonight at Runners' Edge.  People all over Niagara are eyeing the trees blowing in the wind and wondering if they really want to go out in the cold, windy night to learn how to run.  When 6:45pm rolls around there will be a huge group of them out there ready to take their first running steps.  They will be cold, windblown and very nervous.  They won't think that they have what it takes to be a runner.

When they look back on tonight, 12 weeks from now, they won't believe what they were able to accomplish.  They will have gone from struggling through five minutes of running to polishing off 5k. And they will laugh at the wind, and the rain and whatever else the Running Gods throw their way.  Because they will be runners!

How cool is that?

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Change of Focus

Happy April everyone!

In the last 24 hours we've had sun, snow, thunderstorms and +17 degrees.  If March goes out like a lamb, April apparently comes in like a schizophrenic dragon who has been off his meds for a while.

March: the month of the longest runs of my life that culminated in the longest race of my life.  I survived and, looking back, it doesn't seem like it was all that hard.  I guess that in itself is something to be proud of.

April is shaping up to be less about me and my running pursuits and more about experiences, friends and food.  April 2011 means 4 things:

1. Dinner guests
2. Boston!
3. A week by the coast
4. Seafood galore

Bring it on.

The month begins with a Monday night dinner with our friend Erin (see, I write about you in my blog!). Erin has agreed to join us for a few glasses of wine and some culinary experimentation.  Two new recipes in one night.

Coriander Scallops with Orange-Ginger dressing to start followed by Rosemary and Mustard Pork Loin with Artichokes, Shallots and Vermouth Juice.

Could be delicious...

...or we could be ordering pizza.

Either way, it will be a fun dinner and perhaps a discovery of two new favourite dishes.

Cooking has evolved from something I did to something I liked to something that I truly enjoy.  With every new experiment, Doug and I are getting braver in the kitchen.  We've made appetizers, marinades and dressing, experimented with new vegetables, grains and meat, baked desserts and hosted a pile of dinner parties.  It's been a great way to discover how much fun cooking can be.  Combine it with friends and it's even better.

I'm glad that my race is over and that, for the next two months, I will be running to run rather than to train.  It means I can focus on other things - photography, cycling, cooking and sharing great meals with great people.

Train hard

Rest well

Eat good food

Share with friends


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

My recovery week is at an end.

I relaxed.

I walked.

I put my legs up on the couch and read for hours at a time.

It was nice which it lasted.

Tomorrow, I have to be up, fed and ready to ride with the Runners' Edge cycling club by 8am.  It's our first outdoor bike ride of the year.  The first since last November when it just got way too cold to be on the road.

It's too bad that we can run when it's minus 30 degrees out but we have to stop cycling as soon as it gets anywhere near zero.  But it's just too hard on a bike because speed equals wind which equals really really cold.  Imagine driving your car in the winter with the windows open and you get the idea.

Tomorrow, we're braving the elements.  It's supposed to be above zero but that still means that we will have several layers on and probably won't be able to feel our fingers, toes or face by the end of the ride.

Not having ridden outside for a few months, it's going to be a challenge to get the body moving again.  We've been riding our trainers indoors all winter but it's not the all. It's a lot harder on a bike when there are real hills to climb and incessant wind to contend with.

My feelings about cycling are really mixed.  I love love love being on a bike.  I love the speed and I love how we travel so far so fast.  Compared to running, we cover a huge amount of distance in no time at all and our weekend rides take us up and down the Niagara Escarpment as we explore all that this area has to offer.

My issues with cycling can be blamed entirely on my very active imagination and the very real car accident that my family and I were in when I was 16.  I am terrified of what could happen if I lose control or if a car pulls out in front of me.  I hate blind corners and I doubly hate steep hills that abruptly end at a stop sign.  Shaking, sweating, panicky kinda scared.  I am scared when other cyclists ride too close to my back wheel, when squirrels look like they might dart in front of me, or when I can't see right to the bottom of the hill.  It's just too easy to imagine all the things that could very vivid detail.

The good news is that I've never been one to let fear dictate what I do.  It's there and I can't make it go away.  But I've learned to control it.  I know how to breathe through the fear in a way that keeps me in control and lets me enjoy the ride.  I take my time in areas that frighten me and, when I need to, I will let everyone else go ahead of me so that I can go at my own pace.

The end result is that I get to do something I love, be with people I like being with, and prove to myself yet again that fear can be managed and conquered.

Plus we get to go to Tim Hortons afterwards for our weekly coffee klatsch which makes it all worthwhile!

Friday, April 1, 2011

I Choose Life

I run to keep the diabetes monsters at bay. 

I cycle so that the side effects of this insidious disease can't catch me.

I walk to keep my blood sugars under control.

These reasons are very true and they get me out of bed on dark, cold winter mornings when I have to run for 2 hours.  They are also what push me out the door when it's hot and humid and I have hill training to do. 

Diabetes gets me moving because, truth be told, I'm scared of what might happen if I don't.

But once my shoes are on and I am outside, diabetes no longer plays a role in my motivation.

My love of exercise takes over and I run, cycle or walk because I love it.  Because I love being outside in all weathers.  I love exploring Niagara. I love feeling strong and capable.  I love surprising myself with how much I can do. 

I don't want to be grateful for diabetes. 

I want to kick it in the ass.

Diabetes does not go away so I have two choices:
- accept diabetes and get on with my life
- let diabetes hang like a cloud over everything I do. 

I choose life. 

So I guess I have to be grateful for diabetes for forcing me to decide what is important to me.  Some people are never forced to make that decision and, as a result, life just moves quietly along... 

Diabetes forces me to make that decision every day.  Will I choose life?  Will I take care of my body today so that I can keep it strong enough to fight.  Thanks to diabetes, I have built amazing friendships with people who share a love of fitness and the outdoors.  I have run thousands of kilometers and cycled for countless hours. I have crossed finish lines and have a dresser top covered in medals. I am fit, healthy, strong and happy. 

Before diabetes, I exercised because I felt like I should. 

Since diabetes, I exercise because I can.

And for that I am so very grateful.

“This post is my March entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at