Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Day

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

We'll see how well that goes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simcoe Shores finish line. 

Enjoying the breeze on the Seguin. 

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

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

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

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

Thank you for being there. 

Here's to 2012! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Medical Waltz

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

Good lord!

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

First - the ear nose and throat appointment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to the gait analysis.

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

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

I didn't run a step.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Didn't I Learn This Already?

I must be getting better...

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

I think I was made to be a swimmer.

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


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A New Skill

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

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

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

I mastered the art of blogging (I think).

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

I learned how to design my own website.

I learned how to swim...properly.

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

Yes folks, I can cough sous l'eau.

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

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

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

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

It was surprisingly easy - and effective.

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 19, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Six Minutes

Yesterday I walked 8 minutes and then ran 2.

I did it again.

And again.

For thirty minutes.

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

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

It's bizarre how quickly things change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's TIME!!

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

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

Surprise!  Everything felt fine.

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

Day One of the Stress Fracture Return To Running Program.

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

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

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

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

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

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


The first hurdle has been overcome.

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

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Big Day

My sister is getting married today.

Our blessing are chosen.

Our speeches are ready.

Our dresses are bought.

Our shoes are broken in (sort of).

The secret tasks we've been assigned are accomplished.

Our nails are done.

Hairstyles are still up in the air.

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

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

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

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

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

My sister will be beautiful.

Her groom will be perfectly perfect.

And it will be over much too soon.

Stay tuned for pictures!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Less is More

There's a new guy at the pool.

Two new guys actually.

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

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

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

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

His sidekick is driving me bananas!

There's a lot of splashing going on.

A hell of a lot of splashing.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Last week they were in my lane.

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Setting My Sights

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

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

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

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

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

If all goes well has become my new running mantra.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Timing is Everything

Technically I can start running any time now.

Any day.

Any time I want.

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

The timing, unfortunately, is not ideal.

My little sis is getting married in 4 days.

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

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

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

My life is not my own this week.

I am 100% ok with that.

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

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

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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Different Kind of Training

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

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

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

Some are top secret.

Some are not.

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

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

No matter how much they want to.

Apparently it would be somewhat of a fashion faux pas.

So I've had to buy fancy shoes.

This is what I ended up with.  

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

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

So now I'm in training.  Sandal training.

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

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

The things I do for my little sis.