Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Training Weeks

Most weeks are pretty predictable in terms of their activities and their level of stress and busy-ness.  During predictable weeks, getting my exercise in is half about pure enjoyment and half about staying healthy.  I love working out and I am happy to make time every day to do it.

This week and next are NOT typical weeks.  Here's the story.  Three years ago, it was decided at work that we would organize staff training weeks.  Two weeks, back to back, where we would offer a lot of the mandatory training that all employees require (First Aid, CPR, Non-Violent Crisis Intervention, rights training etc).  We would also offer training that, while not mandatory, would certainly be beneficial for everyone.  The idea was that we would create two identical weeks of training.  Half of the staff would attend the first week.  The other half would attend the second.  It allowed us to train a lot of people very quickly.  It allowed people from different programs to have a chance to mingle and share ideas.  It allowed us to keep all of our programs running during the training. It was, and is, a really good idea.

The task of planning these weeks fell squarely on my shoulders.  Creating the schedule, booking the trainers, planning and running full and half day sessions myself, planning meals, conducting evaluations and dealing with unexpected events (can you say blizzard?).  It was a lot of work and ended up being really stressful to coordinate (again - blizzard).

The first year, I was pretty stressed.  In fact, it was one of the most stressed times in recent memory.  I woke up on the morning of the first day to discover that several blood vessels had burst in my right eye.  One of the staff, a nurse, promptly announced that it was due to stress and said it would go away in a few days.  It did but, in the meantime, I looked like I had been in a nasty fight.  I also, by about day three, caught a nasty cold which made presenting for 8 hours straight a bit of a challenge.

I decided that I never wanted to be that stressed again.  Particularly about something work-related like that.

Year two, it was a lot better because I knew more what to expect.  I had worked out a lot of the kinks the year before but it was still pretty overwhelming and exhausting.

We're now into week one of year three.  This year, I am determined to take care of myself so I can finish the ten days feeling sane and relatively rested.

That's where exercise comes in.  Normally, I would lapse in my fitness routine in an effort to conserve energy.  Sacrifice the workouts so I could keep my energy for the training days. What I found was that I did not get more rest or sleep by not exercising - all I did was fill the hours I would normally be exercising with something else I had to do.  So I was stressed, tired and feeling decidedly unfit by the end.  On top of that, we sit around a lot during training weeks so my blood sugar tends to climb due to lack of activity.  Not good.

My fitness routine, which normally keeps my happy and healthy, will, for the next two weeks, help keep me sane and grounded.

Monday morning, I was at the pool at 6am.  I still had a lot to do before 9am and I was facing a long day of training.  It was tempting to get an extra hour of sleep.  Instead I chose to swim 80 lengths and am very glad I did.  I felt energized all day - there was no mid-afternoon slump - and my blood sugar ran a little higher than normal but not the usual craziness that comes from sitting all day.

So Monday, Wednesday and Friday - I'll be at the pool the moment it opens.  Tuesday and Thursday - I'll look forward to a run right after work.  Repeat again next week and I will have survived my third annual staff training weeks.

Bring it on!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ian's Angels

During the winter months, Doug and I curl on Friday nights.  It's a fun evening because we get to spend time together, get to see our friends, get to play against a different team every week and enjoy a little friendly competition.

If we win - yay!  If we lose, the other team buys me a glass of red wine.  So really, what's not to like?

Last year was my first time curling - ever.  Doug has been curling for over twenty years so he's, to put it mildly, pretty damn good.  He plays on Thursdays in a competitive league.  Friday is more of a social thing - mostly couples.  So we convinced Janice and Chris to join us and we formed a team of curling runners. Or running curlers?  We had lots of fun and learned the basics quickly enough that we were actually able to hold our own against teams that had been playing for a few years already.  It does, of course, help that our skip is talented enough to be able to clean up the mess of rocks we leave for him.

Now we're in our second year and we've recruited four more players.  Benny and Leslie play on Chris and Janice's team.  Klari and Steve play on ours.

Last Friday, we were scheduled to play against Chris and Janice's team.  It was bound to happen eventually since you play against every team at some point.  It just so happened that Klari and Steve were away so we decided to shake things up a bit.  Doug recruited Ian (from his Thursday night team).  Doug, Chris and Benny formed one team.  Janice, Leslie and I formed the other, with Ian as our skip.

Essentially, it was boys against the girls (plus Ian).

Ian's Angels we called ourselves.

The first end the ice was really slow and we could hardly get our rocks across the ice.  Our aim was off and we really didn't throw well at all. The boys handily took two points and we girls braced ourselves for what we thought was going to be a pretty painful evening.

The second end, we were down to the last rock.  Three of our rocks were in the house but only one was counting because the boys had a rock in there too.  Ian was going to throw a safe shot and try to get two points.  Janice suggested he be a little more aggressive and try to knock the boys' rock right out.  So he tried - and succeeded!  We got four points.

In the third end, we all threw some amazing shots.  Ian threw a zinger of a rock to clear the house and we ended up taking four more points.  The game was now 8:2 for the ladies.

The boys were not impressed.

We only got one point in the fourth end - making it 9:2.

They got one in the fifth - 9:3.

We got a final point in the sixth and won the game!

It was fun of course because we played so well but it was also a great night because we switched things up.  We played with different players and got to watch our significant others in action.  We don't usually get to see that because, when we're not throwing, we're busy sweeping their rocks to actually watch them play.

When I agreed to try curling last year - I figured it would be a fun way to spend an evening.

It is.

But I had no idea how much I would grow to love the game.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Pain Perception

I don't think it's a prerequisite that athletes have the ability to handle pain...but it sure does help.

If nothing else, they had better get used to some pretty major discomfort.  Particularly if they're going to take up a sport like running.  Running hurts.  So do the massages and chiropractic appointments that keep runners upright and moving forward.

When I was running full speed ahead last year - training for Around the Bay and then the marathon - I got pretty used to pain.  I was seeing either Janice and Geoff every second week and trust me when I tell you that there was a lot of tears and nausea as I clung to the bed in agony.  In fact, I once suggested to Janice that she put a little barf bucket under the hole in the headrest of her massage table...just in case.  She never did and, so far, I've never needed one.  But it's come close a few times.

During last year's running madness I also got used to shin pain.  I learned to recognize when things were tight but ok.  I learned the pain that told me to ease off because I was on the edge of shin splints and, most importantly, I learned the pain of shin splints telling me to take time off and call Geoff - again.

I was also pretty shocked when I was introduced to the unforgettable pain of a stress fracture.

So yep, I know pain.

On top of that, having Type 1 diabetes means that I am keenly aware of how I'm feeling pretty much all the time.  As I sit on the couch typing this blog, I have ice packs on my calves, I am listening for the laundry to know when it's done, I am sipping my red wine and composing my story of the day.  Despite all of these distractions, there is always (and I mean always) a part of me that is checking in to see how I'm feeling.  How's my sugar? Am I climbing after dinner?  Crashing after my run? Am I yawning because I'm tired?  Because I'm low?  High?

So to recap, I am usually very aware of how my body is feeling at any given moment and I've learned to identify and put up with a whole variety of pain options.

Now on the to the point of my story.

Last week I went to see Janice.  I've been going to her every four to five weeks rather than every two since I wasn't running and my legs really needed some down time to heal.  She started working on my calves and I was shocked at how much they hurt.  I mean really hurt.

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed.  I had worked so hard to keep my calves loose and limber and there they were feeling like rocks.  I said as much to Janice and she said that they were actually surprisingly loose.  Better than she had felt in a long long time.

Well, that's good - so why the pain?!?

Well, she said, probably because it's been so long since you've had a massage or pushed those muscles that that they are no longer used to hurting.

Bloody hell!

I knew I had to rebuild my leg strength and my running endurance after ten weeks off.  No one told me I'd have to rebuild my pain tolerance too.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Feet

During the month of December I went for two pedicures.  Ok, fine!  It was two mani/pedis if you really must know.

Typing that feels like some sort of confession...

Anyway, the first was the night before my sister Gabrielle's wedding.  My other sister, Geneviève, and I went for manicures and pedicures and, while the lovely ladies pushed back our cuticles and massages our calves, we wrote our speech for the wedding.

Not that you really need to know this but the colour I chose for the wedding was fire engine red (very festive and it worked well with my silver sandals).

The second time I went was with my mother.  It was the day before Doug and I headed to New York and a few days before my parents headed to Israel for wedding number two.  I felt the need to look at least 10% glamourous before heading to the Big Apple and my mother wanted nice toenails for the beach.  This time, I chose a dark purple colour called Lincoln Park After Dark.  I chose it 40% for the colour and 60% for the name.

Anyway, the whole point about this story is that I apparently have very nice feet.

Normally, when one goes for a pedicure, they fill a foot bath full of hot water and soak your feet in it.  Then they cut and shape your toenails and work on the cuticles for a while.  The last step is to work on your calluses.  I've seen some ladies squirming in pain (or perhaps they're just very ticklish?) while their calluses are vigorously rubbed off.  I've seen other ladies sit immobile as a razor is taken to their feet to remove all the dead skin.

The first time I was there, I witnessed the razor thing.  I decided then and there to refuse that option because a) that's just plain crazy and b) I don't think taking a razor to a person with diabetes' feet is a really good idea.

When the lady lifted my foot to look underneath, her eyebrows raised in shock.  "You have really good feet!" she exclaimed.

Ummmm, thanks?

The second and third time I went, I got the same shocked reaction.  Apparently my feet, which I took as normal since they're the only feet I've ever known, are not all that typical after all.

Despite years of running and virtual lack of care (I wash them in the shower and that's pretty much it), they have no calluses, no blisters, no hard skin to exfoliate.

So, while the other ladies around me writhe in pain or squirm with giggles as their feet are exfoliated, razored and buffed to a shine, I get an extra long calf massage and a "you have really good feet!".

Perhaps I should ask for a discount?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Juggling Act

Life gets crazy sometimes.  There is no one I talk to these days who isn't overly busy, slightly frazzled and juggling one too many things.  I don't know about you folks but I can only keep so many balls in the air at any given time.

Some of those balls I refuse to put down.  Taking care of my physical health, my mental health and my diabetes are things that I refuse to compromise.  No matter what.  So those balls keep getting tossed into the air.  Even when other things are vying for my attention.

Other things must compete for their chance to fly.  I love reading books but don't always have time for it.  So I go through times when I'm taking out four or five books from the library on a Saturday morning and spending and hour or two each day devouring them.  After a few weeks of this I realize that, with all my reading, I've neglected my photography so I put down my books, drag out my camera and head out on a few photo shoots.

As I'm importing my photos I realize that it's been a little too long since I've backed up my photos on my laptop so I spent every evening for a week doing backups and clearing out my hard drive.

When I'm training for a long-distance race, reading and photography get put aside because there just isn't time for everything.

The same thing happens with friends and family.  I saw a lot of my family during the months of November and December.  Between weddings, showers, funerals, Christmas and holidays - I saw my family every second or third day for two months.  It was wonderful to have so much time with everyone but it really didn't leave any time for friends.  It was just too crazy.

Christmas is over.  My sisters are back in Israel and Toronto and family time has settled back into the regular Sunday night dinner routine.  That means it's time to reconnect with friends I haven't talked to in a few months.  I emailed my old university friend this week and we discovered that we're both free on Saturday.  We're meeting up for lunch so we can catch up on the last few months, share stories and just enjoy each others' company for a few hours.  Fun!

The next email goes out tonight to my two high school girlfriends.  We see each other a few times a year.  It usually takes an email from me to get the ball rolling but, once it starts, we get all excited planning a dinner somewhere between Niagara and Toronto so we can get caught up on everything we missed.

It's wonderful to have friendships like that.  They wax and wane during the busy times but we always find each other again and, when we get together, it feels like no time at all has passed.  Friendships like that are unconditional.  No questions asked about why it took so long to email.  No questions asked about why we didn't wish them happy birthday until two days after their birthday. There is only happiness when we connect and find the time to get together for a few hours or for the day.

To have such a strong bond of friendship that it survives distance and time apart is a gift and I am so lucky to have friends that have been there for decades.  Through marriage, divorce, children, breakups, deaths - they are there for me.  Just like I'm there for them.

Come what may.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Six Days

Six days is the magic number.  That's how I know I'm doing ok and taking good care of myself.

Some people know that they're doing well when they get enough sleep and feel rested.  Other people know when they drink enough water and feel hydrated.  Or when the don't get sick.  I know I'm doing well when it's six days between insertion site changes.

When I first got my pump, I would change my site every three days (dutifully) because that's what I was told to do.  Then I clued in that I still had a day's worth of insulin left in the pump.  Changing my pump site before the insulin ran out seemed wasteful so I pushed it to four days.  That's where I stayed for the first two years.  Four days.  Sometimes four and a half.  The odd time, I would last five days.

During the last 6 months or so, I noticed that I was lasting longer and longer before I ran out of insulin.  That was also the same time that I was losing weight.  Ten pounds down - I figured my body just required less insulin - which is at least partly true.  But really?  Ten pounds = two extra days between site changes?

Last fall I went from four to six days before I my pump ran dry.  That's a huge jump in terms of insulin use.  I have been consistently lasting six days for months now.  I'm talking six days right down to the hour.  I change it in the morning before I go to work.  If I change the site on a Monday morning, I can bet $$ that I'll change it on a Sunday morning the next week.  Then a Saturday morning the next.  Clockwork.

During these last few months, not only have I maintained my weight loss but I've also kept to a pretty predictable schedule in terms of eating and exercise.

Last week, for the first time in a while, I only lasted five days.  One day less means that I used a heck of a lot more insulin.  That means that a) I was eating a whole lot more food, b) I was eating a lot of high carb foods (desserts etc) or c) I had a lot of high blood sugars that needed insulin to come back down.  None of those options are good in my books.

This week, I lasted 6 1/2 days.  I can also confirm that I ate well, at consistent times and consistent amounts.  I can confirm that I didn't have too many highs and (other than one crazy day post-period) I didn't have too many lows either (which often lead to rebound highs which require more insulin).

Even though I may feel my best when I eat well, get to bed at a decent time and exercise regularly, the best proof I have that I'm taking good care of myself is when I last six days between pump changes.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just Like Riding A Bike

On Friday night, two of the members of our curling team were in Florida so Erika and Perry were kind enough to fill in.  Erika threw first, I was second, Perry was vice and Doug skipped. We had a scary first end (lost three points) and we all thought "uh oh, this is NOT going to go well".  Then we took two points in the second end, another few in the third and then we went back and forth giving and taking points.  The last end we were up by one and managed to take another for a satisfying win!  Yay us.

After a curling game, the winning team buys the losing team their first drink.  We all sit together and get to know each other a little bit.  I had only met Perry that night so we chatted about all sorts of stuff.  Talk turned to running, as it often does, and he said that he had tried running.  In fact, he ran his first Santa 5k in December.  "But it's really hard" he said.

I agreed that starting to run is really hard.  So is running even after you've been doing it for years.  I compared running to cycling.  This is probably a huge generalization but I would argue that anyone with even basic fitness can climb on a bike and cycle for 30 minutes.  Not necessarily far or fast but they could do it.

Running for 30 minutes.  Now that takes weeks of training.  Most regular humans do not pull on running shoes and run 30 minutes on their first try.  Or their second.  Or their 10th.  There is a whole other level of commitment needed to run. You have to be willing to be humbled.  You have to be willing to struggle through ten minutes and then go home and try again the next day. And again.

On Sunday, my friend Shane (hi Shane!) mentioned on Facebook that he had gone swimming.  And he also mentioned that he had forgotten how hard swimming laps was.  I agreed because swimming laps was ridiculously hard when I started back in October.  One does not just hop in the pool and swim for thirty minutes.  It takes time to build up the endurance to swim two laps without panting and holding on to the side of the pool.

Endurance and fitness in one sport does not guarantee anything when you try another sport.  I would argue that fitness in one sports makes fitness in another come a little faster but that's about it.  The learning curve is pretty steep for anyone who starts.

Except cycling.

Yes, it's true that it takes time to get the strength needed to cycle long distance, cycle up hills or cycle at a fast pace. But even on day one, I would argue that a person could keep their legs moving at a nice leisurely pace for thirty minutes.

No wonder people say that it's just like riding a bike.  Once you've found your balance, you're off!

And no wonder it's such a celebration when someone runs their first 5k.  Everyone who crosses that finish line has put in weeks and weeks of heart wrenching, humbling effort.  And I would argue that, at some point during the training, most people never thought they'd be able to do it.

And that, my friends, is an entire blog post written thanks to a one minute conversation over victory drinks on Friday night.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Break in the Weather

We had wicked wind and snow squalls yesterday afternoon.  People were stumbling through the doors at work covered in snow with their hair whipping around in all directions.  I kept looking out the window thinking "I have to run 25 minutes - oh good lord!".

Aside: injuries are very helpful for giving perspective.  No matter the weather, the wind, the rain or the cold  my brain always tosses the same thought my way "you should be grateful you can run at all!".  And then I realized that I am grateful and so I run without (much) complaint.  

Moving on...I left work at 4:15pm, took five minutes to clean off my car and soaked the bottom 6 inches of my jeans in the process.  I got home and joined Doug as he shovelled out the driveway.  Then I pulled on my running clothes, looked out the window and saw blue skies, white snow and a lovely sunset developing.  The storm was over.

I quickly checked my sugar and discovered a 4.1.  What?  I expected it to be around 7.  So I had a gel, a date and four giant rockets.  Lots of unwanted calories for a wee run but there wasn't going to be a run unless I ate and the sun was looking so darn inviting...  I waited about five minutes, yanked on my Yaktrax and headed out the door.  It was gorgeous out - the temperature was comfortable, the wind was strong but not overwhelming and the air was crisp and clean.

I came home, did my strengthening exercises, stretched and got ready to shower.  Better check that blood sugar again:  7.0.  Perfect.

Shower, change, start laundry and head down for a dinner of leftover beef barley stew.  No point in checking my sugar - I had done that about 15 minutes earlier.

I bolused, we ate and did the dishes.

I walked away from the sink, felt lightheaded and thought "uh oh".

I checked and discovered a rather disconcerting 2.9.  One juice box and a piece of maple fudge later things seemed to settle a bit.  Of course, once the barley stew and baguette transform themselves into glucose my sugar will continue to climb and I'll be faced with the decision of whether or not to bolus the high that will inevitably follow.

That's what I thought anyway. But my sugar never made it past 8.9 despite the rather large hunk of fudge I inhaled.

Yesterday afternoon the weather was stormy and unpredictable.  Yesterday evening the weather settled and my blood sugar took over the stormy and unpredictable role. The end result was that I took in a lot of unnecessary and unwanted calories just so I could have a 25 minute run in the sun.

I had forgotten that part of running.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Human Metronome

So here's my confession for the day:

I am a heavy walker.  I land hard on my heels when I walk and it's not at all ladylike.  Stomp, stomp, stomp I go through the house.

I am also a heavy runner.  I land hard on my heels when I run.  Pound, pound, pound - like a delicate lady-elephant on her way to the waterhole.  Pound, pound, pound.  You can almost feel the ground shake.

I went to see Geoff on Tuesday for the first time in four weeks.  He was pretty excited to tell me all the stuff he's been reading about.  Apparently he's taken my shin splint / stress fracture case under his wing and is determined to make me a stronger and less prone to injury runner.

He said that he read all sorts of journal articles about shin splints.  Some say one thing, some say the opposite.  But one theme that held true through them all was that heavy runners who land hard on their heels are more prone to stress fracture relapses.


That's not good news for little miss twinkle toes over here.

He started talking about running cadence.  Not how fast you run but how fast your feet turn over.  The longer your feet are on the ground during your stride, the most stressful it is on your shins and calves.  If you keep your legs under you and increase your running cadence, you naturally strike the ground with your mid foot rather than your heel.  You strike the ground with less force and your feet stay on the ground for less time.  All of this means less stress on your legs.

Apparently the ideal running cadence is 90 steps per foot per minute.  Or 180 steps per minute.

And apparently the amount of stress on the shins and calves is reduced by half when you go from 160 steps to 180 steps per minute.

So he suggested that I try to increase my cadence.  180 steps per minute sounded pretty fast.  Geoff said to aim for about 20 steps per foot over 15 seconds.

I headed out the door and started running.  I made a very conscious effort to keep my legs under me and speed up the turnaround time for my stride.  Geoff made it very clear that a runner can increase their cadence without increasing their speed.  Perhaps that's true but I have no idea how one does that.  I shortened my stride, sped up my cadence and found myself running 5 minutes per kilometre instead of my usual 6:15.


I could NOT slow down my pace without slowing down my feet.  I just couldn't figure out how to do it.  I can rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time but running faster and slower at the same time was NOT working out.

After about five minutes of this I gave up trying to run faster and slower and decided that it was time to count.  I figured I had better see what my cadence was before I worried too much about adjusting it.

I counted the total number of steps I took in 15 seconds.

Twenty-four.  That's 12 per foot.  That adds up to 92 steps per minute which is, no matter how you look at it, a wee bit slower than the 180 steps per minute that it ideal.

It's also a little short of the 160 steps per minute that Geoff said most recreational runners typically do.

So either he's exaggerating about the cadence of normal people or I have a very very slow cadence meaning that I have a lot of work to do.

Supposedly one can buy a cadence contraption that you can attach to your coat.  You set the cadence you want to run and it beeps every time your foot should be striking the ground.

Kinda like a metronome.

I took piano lessons long enough to know that those things are both a blessing and a curse.  I think I'll try a few more cadence runs before I invest in something that will quite likely cause me to simultaneously trip over my feet and lose my mind.

So between swimming across the pool without taking a breath and running at a 160 beats per minute cadence - I have a LOT of work to do.

Recovery update:  I felt some mild shin splint aches (not pain!) in both of my shins after running 30 minutes on both Saturday and Sunday last week.  So Geoff has me redoing last week's running schedule rather than moving on.  Can't check off a week until I can do all of the runs without any pain.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's That Time

It's week four of four.  This is the week where I get to enjoy any or all of the following:
  • extreme fatigue
  • breasts that feel like bowling balls
  • weight that goes up by three pounds
  • blood sugar that climbs climbs climbs and then crashes.  
  • debilitating cramps
  • sleepless nights
  • nausea
  • ravenous hunger
  • absolutely nothing out of the ordinary
Some months are fairly benign.  I sleep poorly for one night, I'm a little extra hungry one day but life goes on.  Other months I leave work early because I feel so awful and I crawl into bed with my magic bag and fuzzy socks.  Sometimes my blood sugar takes me for a roller coaster ride and other times it's steady as a rock.

The symptoms are always the same when I get them but it's always a surprise which ones will show up for the party.

I remember one of my appointments at the Diabetes Centre.  They asked me if I had a temporary basal rate I used the week before my period. Ummm...no?

Pre-period blood sugar craziness is pretty nasty when it happens but the randomness of when it happens is just as nasty.  If I set a temporary basal rate every month for the three days before my period I would be in pretty good shape some months and I would be clearing all the juice boxes out of the Superstore the next month as I fought continuous lows.  It's just not worth the risk so I fight the highs when they come and, in exchange, I don't have crazy lows.

Diabetes is predictably unpredictable.

It's also, for the record, annoyingly annoying.

Did I mention it was ridiculously ridiculous?

Funny how one actually adjusts to unpredictability and it becomes, well, almost predictable.

After nine years, I have figured out that my blood sugar will do one of about three things before my period. It will do one of two things during a curling game.  One thing and one thing only during my swim and one of about eight things during a long run depending on the weather, the wind, the time of day and the angle of the sun.

Random predictability.

Also known as crazy-ass crazyassness.

Best photographic representation of diabetes I could find.  
Calm and sedate one moment, completely crazy the next. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hot Pants

Anyone else out there use Groupon? WagJag? OneSpout? I do. I've bought a few things over the past year - notably a coupon for a bike tuneup at BikeFit and a few restaurant Groupons. Other than that, I check them out every morning and quickly decide that I don't need teeth whitening, acne cleaning or all inclusive weekends in Bermuda.  Still, there are enough good deals on there that I keep coming back...just in case.

Monday's Groupon was 58% off Weight Loss Hot Pants.

It's hard to dismiss an offer like that. Particularly when one has absolutely no idea what Weight Loss Hot Pants actually are.

So I clicked on it. 

The first thing I saw was a closeup of a woman's behind as she ran up a set of stairs.  She was, I assumed, wearing Hot Pants.

Then I read the description of the item.  Here is it for your enjoyment:

"Today's athletic wear incorporates technological innovation into its very threads, a feat visible in styles that force legs to jog and promise to tickle their wearers until they've reached their maximum heart rates."

Followed by:

"Zaggora's hip-hugging HotPants slim bodies by up to two jeans sizes in two weeks using a comfortable bioceramic material that emits infrared rays to help women naturally and efficiently amp up weight-loss regimens. The shorts' Celu-Lite technologysmoothes thighs and other dimple-prone areas by galvanizing the skin's internal zamboni to promote a deep warming of body tissues and promote lymphatic drainage. This process boosts sweating by up to 80 per cent and aids in eliminating the toxins responsible for cellulite. Ladies can sport HotPants alone or under other clothing while awake and active, asleep in bed, or while executing a series of high kicks when sleepwalking."


I clicked on the links and checked out the website.  I went to their Facebook page and read post after post on their wall.  I checked the calendar to confirm that it was indeed January 16th and not April 1st.  And I concluded that this is a legitimate Groupon offer.  In fact, over 22 had been purchased by 10am.

So either I am really gullible and this is some sort of Groupon joke or lots of other people are really gullible and believe that wearing ticklish zamboni shorts will somehow contribute to weight loss.  

This is where I sigh. 

I do not struggle with obesity but I know how hard it is just to maintain my weight so I can imagine (a little bit anyway) how hard it must be to lose weight.  I am not dying of a horrible disease so I can't imagine (although diabetes helps me imagine a little bit) how tempting farfetched cures like shark cartilage and peach pits must be.  

These Hot Pants are really funny in some ways and it's easy to laugh at the ridiculousness of the description.  

But people buy them because of that description.  Because of the comments on a Facebook wall swearing that they helped someone lose two dress sizes in two weeks.  Because they've tried everything else and this is their next hope. 

And that makes me sad.  

And angry.  

People who are vulnerable, people who are desperate, people who have tried everything else will try anything in the hope that it will work.  And products like Hot Pants capitalize on that desperation.  

If only it were that easy. 

We'd all be sporting Hot Pants and our body sizes would be shrinking by the minute.  

For the record, the cost of those pants is approximately the cost of a three month unlimited membership at my local pool.  Just saying...

Monday, January 16, 2012

This Is War

Don't be put off by the title of today's blog post.  It's actually the title of a pretty cool song.

I am reaching the end of my stress fracture recovery program and, as such, things are ramping up a bit.  I am now running thirty minutes but I'm also running more days per week.  Last week I ran four days a week, this week I have to run five.  Two 30 minutes runs, two 35s and a 40.

I wouldn't have said this in August but I'll say it now - that's a lot of running!

So I dusted off my iPod shuffle this past weekend.  I haven't run to music since last October.  Mostly because I didn't run for 10 weeks.  Partly because, when I did start running, I was not running for very long so it seemed silly to drag out the tunes.  And a teeny bit because I used my music to motivate and inspire me during marathon training and I wasn't sure I would want to hear the songs I used to run to as I gingerly trotted along for 15 minutes.

Saturday morning, I popped in my ear bud and headed out the door.

Shuffling music is fun because sometimes you get a bunch of songs in a row that are pretty benign.  Other times, you get a bunch in a row that all trigger emotional responses.

Saturday I got a bunch of songs that were nice, easy listening, keep your feet moving kinda songs.

Sunday, the first song that came on brought me right back to last summer.

This is the song:

I first heard the song when a friend posted this link to a Harry Potter YouTube video.  I love Harry Potter and was pretty moved watching the video because the creator used music and video clips to tell a powerful story.  A story of courage, pride, fear, despair, loneliness, friendship, giving up, and overcoming.

It's a powerful summary of the Harry Potter story.

It's also the story of running a marathon. All of those emotions, and a few more, become familiar friends by the time you have completed all of those long runs.  Every time the song came on, no matter how exhausted I was, it inspired me to keep moving forward.  I remember one run in particular.  It was hot and I was hurting.  I had run 28k and there were still two more to go before I reached the car.  I just wanted to walk it in and had lost the energy to fight with myself.  The I heard the first few notes of the song and I, to quote Lady Macbeth, was able to "screw my courage to the sticking place".  I hit repeat over and over again until I made it to the car - running.

Sunday morning, as I stepped out the door to do my 30 minute run, the song came on.  I was tempted for a brief moment to skip ahead to the next song.  I hadn't heard This is War for months and wasn't sure I wanted to hear it yet.  I forced myself not to skip ahead and, within a few seconds, was bounding down the road with a huge grin on my face.

You see, the song worked perfectly during marathon training but it works quite well now because the last few months have also been about fear, despair, hope, friendship, loneliness, giving up and overcoming.  Injuries, as it turns out, are just like marathons.

They're hard but you survive.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bucket List Item #428

Swimming, like any other sport, involves seeing the same people time after time.  Some say hi.  Some wave and look away shyly.  Others know my name, call a hearty hello and chit chat for a minute or two before we both pull on swim goggles and begin our essentially silent workouts.

One girl named Mary started off with a shy smile.  Then a hello.  Now we actually speak in full sentences. We talked on Wednesday about the crazy conditioner routine we both have in an effort to save our hair from the ravages of chlorine.  She has the added challenge of trying to keep her platinum blonde hair from turning green.  So far I'm happy to report that she's winning that battle.

Anyway, Mary and I swam in adjacent lanes on Wednesday morning.  She's a little faster than I am but she takes more breaks so we're constantly passing each other.  On one particular length of the pool, we both started at the same time.  I figured she'd pass me fairly quickly and I'd catch her again when she stopped.

What I did not expect was to see her head down to the bottom of the pool and begin swimming along the bottom at pretty much the exact pace I was swimming on the surface.  I got to watch her since she was below me.  It was crazy!

At first I figured she was having fun and going to head to the surface any second.  As I waited, I took my usual breath every third stroke.  After having taken two and then three breaths, I went from interested to impressed.  She was swimming the length of the pool under water!  Could she make it to the other side?

I kept swimming and she kept right up to me.  I inhaled six times on the way across the pool.  She pushed off from the bottom and surfaced at the wall.  Twenty-five metres without taking a breath!

I practically shouted "that was awesome!!".  She looked casually over and said "oh, you saw that?".  Um yeah!  And the fact that she said "oh, you saw that?" without sounding like she was going to die was even more impressive.

Guess what my new goal is?

Go on - guess!

Yep, swim across the pool holding my breath.

I explained that goal to Doug and was hard pressed to explain why that was a sensible goal.  It's not like I'm trying to improve my stoke, my arm strength or my speed.  What's the point of crossing the pool holding your breath other than you can hold your breath longer?  I guess if I ever decided to do synchronized swimming it might come in handy.

I tried to explain that it would improve my lung capacity.  "Um ok."  It will improve my ability to exercise without oxygen.  "And when will you be running and holding your breath?"  He didn't actually say that but I could tell he was thinking it...

So, not having done any real research into why I should do this, I'm still inspired to try.  I did in fact try in the pool that very morning.  I was too embarrassed to push off and swim along the bottom because I figured I'd make it about 3 meters before darting for the surface.  Plus Mary would know I was trying to copy her which, let's be honest, I totally was but still...

So, I kept up my regular freestyle routine but tried to increase the number of strokes between breaths.  I went from three to four and then from four to five.  Five felt pretty hard but once I got over the panic that I wasn't breathing enough I learned to slow down the rate of exhalation. That made me feel marginally better because there still seemed to be oxygen in my lungs.  As long as there was oxygen coming out I felt ok that there wasn't any going in.

So Friday's goal is six and perhaps even seven strokes between breaths.  Not the whole time mind you but enough times that I get one step closer to crossing the pool sans oxygène.

Anyone else having swimming across the pool without inhaling on their bucket list?

Friday morning update: got to the pool at 5:45am.  Sat in my car until 6:15.  No head lifeguard = no keys to unlock the building.  So I drove home.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is It Just Me?

Calling all insulin pump users...

I have a question for you.

So here's the deal: when I unhook my pump to shower or to swim an air bubble often (but not always) appears in my tube.  Right where it connects and it's about an inch long. There is no rhyme or reason to it that I can figure out.  I have tried hanging the tubing down off the counter so that gravity could do its magic.  I have tried lying the tubing flat and I have tried elevating it.

Sometimes it's fine and the insulin fills the tube right up to the edge and I can hook back in without a problem.

Other times there is about an inch of air in the tube.  Those days, I have to do the fixed prime thing to force the air out before I hook back up again.

When I shower, the pump is unhooked for about ten minutes.  When I swim, it's unhooked for about 75 minutes.  I never turn off my basal insulin when it's unhooked so one would figure that, particularly after a swim, I'd come back to find a puddle of insulin.  Nope - normally I find an inch-long air bubble waiting for me.  What about all the insulin that should have flowed through in that hour?

What gives?

It's not a huge deal but I do hate wasting insulin and doing a fixed prime to get the air out always results in a few drops being forced out too.

Swimming three times a week plus showering once or twice a day equals a lot of little drops.

Anyway, just wondering if I'm the only pumper out there with rogue air bubbles...?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Where's The Food?

I would like to promise that this is the last NYC post but I can't because there's just SO MUCH to talk about!

When we were researching the trip, we read about a lot of delicious-sounding restaurants.  I started bookmarking websites of amazing restaurant after amazing restaurant.  Then, as I began to feel crazily overwhelmed, we decided that there were so many amazing places that we'd just walk around and pick from the hundreds upon thousands of amazing places to eat.


Until you're hungry after having walked forty blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art back to 44th street with a detour to the Ralph Lauren mansion just for kicks (I still cannot believe that  I can write a sentence like that and it's not made up).

We walked down Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue for most of the 40+ blocks.  We spotted one italian restaurant around 70th street but figured we weren't even in the hub yet so we'd wait.  Then we spotted a few hot dog vendors and some sellers of giant pretzels and roasted chestnuts.

Looks tasty but not exactly dinner material.  How many carbs in a chestnut anyway?

Can you believe we walked almost back to the hotel on 44th before we found ANYTHING?!?  By that point I was rather incoherent with hunger.  We spotted a restaurant called Café Un Deux Trois.  It was hopping so we figured it was good (or perhaps it was the only place around?).  We snagged the last table.  Paté, Boeuf Bourguignon and profiteroles went a long way to helping with the hunger pains.  Thank god for the French! 

The first night, we actually had reservations.  There is a famous oyster bar in the Grand Central Terminal and we wanted to make sure we got in.  

We did! 

Clam chowder (New England and Manhattan) followed by calamari and then a plate of oysters.  Pretty decadent if you ask me.  During that meal I learned that I much prefer East Coast oysters to West Coast ones (in case you were wondering) and that just a titch of red wine vinegar and horseradish on top is pretty close to perfection.  

I learned that they don't heat Grand Central Terminal.  The heat from the trains keeps the temperature nice and comfortable even during the coldest days.  I also learned that more people go through Grand Central in one day than visit the Statue of Liberty in one year.  THAT surprised me. 

Blood sugar wise - eating in NYC was a bit crazy.  We walked (a lot!) so I purposely underestimated the insulin for most meals because I didn't want to be fighting lows all the time.  Instead, I found myself fighting ridiculous highs.  I'm talking about 15s and 20s several times a day.  I'm not sure why but it was so consistent that I began to think that New Yorkers season their food with sugar rather than salt. 

Whether they do or not, several restaurants actually listed calorie counts by each item.  Scary in a way but it did have a huge impact on the food choices I made.  So pretty effective too. 

Just to wrap up the NYC diary, here are a few photos from the trip that make me smile. 

They even got the accent right! 

Doug and a random child watching the skating at Rockefeller Centre.  Notice the tall guy is on tiptoe.  The short kid is not. 

Taking pictures from the Top of the Rock.  Hair tied up because it was whipping around in the wind.  The Chrysler tower in the distance and down to the last few hours in the Big Apple.  Quelle aventure!   

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Try The Chocolatey Nuclear Witch Apple - They're Delicious!

Yesterday's blog was written sitting on the couch at the end of a long day of exploration and travel.  I tried to capture everything about four days in NYC in one photo essay but there were so many little things that got missed that I'm taking you back to New York just so I can share some more.

Today's themes are a little more random and will include being tested for nuclear residue, delicious witches and Apple.

Twice during the trip I had to run the airport security gauntlet and twice I was pulled over.  Both times I declared my pump, my needles and my above the limit liquids.  Both times, my luggage made it through without a hitch but I was asked to step to the side for extra screening.  I was asked to handle my pump (i.e. touch it with both hands) and then they swabbed my hands.  According to the nice lady they were looking for nuclear residue.

Funny how, even though I was 100% confident that I had not been handling radioactive substances, I immediately thought "Omigod, what if I touched something that someone who had just make a bomb touched and now they're going to find it on my hands!?!".  Thankfully radioactive materials are a little less common than, say, cold germs so I survived without a swat team intervention.

Still, I'm always glad when I get the ok to put my shoes and belt back on and carry on with my journey.

I just have to show you this:

This, my friends, is a Fat Witch brownie.  It is officially (as in I have declared it so) the world's bestest and most richest, yummiest, chewiest, chocolatiest brownie. 

You can get it at the Fat Witch bakery at the Chelsea market and it is worth the airfare just to go stock up.  

Trust me.

And if I find out that anyone within driving distance from Niagara has been to NYC and has not brought me back a dozen of them - there will be hell to pay. 

I just checked their website and they do ship brownies. I will pretend that I did NOT just read that...unless anyone wants to join me in placing a large order.

Finally, may I just say the Apple is officially the coolest store?  We saw three Apple stores in New York City and two of them were quite impressive.  The third was just regular run of the mill awesome. 

The first was in Grand Central Terminal.  Doug was excited to go and I figured it was an Apple store.  You know, glass everywhere, hip looking tattooed kids talking the talk and wearing their apple logo t-shirts.   Tiny computers and huge screens.  

I did not realize that Apple had somehow managed to obtain the entire second level space at the terminal and that they had an 'open air store'.  It extended through several rooms but there weren't really walls or doors or anything.  It was just a big open space full of technology.  Kinda like a really cool flea market. 

Walking up Fifth Avenue towards Central Park, we got to the edge of the Park and were checking out the Park Hotel.  Very famous!  Across the street, we spotted a glass cube with an Apple logo on it.  I figured, as first glance, that it was an advertisement. 

We looked more closely and noticed doors.  And stairs.  And an elevator!?!  Yes indeed, there is an Apple store below Fifth Avenue. 

Doug heading underground to the Fifth Avenue Apple Store.  I took the photo standing on the sidewalk. 

The final shot taken from inside the store.  The store is at the bottom of the shot, the stairs take you up to the street.  The elevator goes up and down the centre of the staircase and the Park Hotel is visible across the street.  How very Steve Jobs. 

Stay tuned for Wednesday's tale of the sights, smells and tastes of NYC. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

New York City

We're back.  And by the time this blog post goes to print, I will have finished my morning swim and will be getting ready for work.  I haven't had to work for sixteen days.  I spent twelve of those days in blissful lethargy - I read a lot, went for walks, visited my family and friends, ate, drank and pretty much did whatever the hell I wanted to.  The last four days were a little busier but a heck of a lot of fun. 

The reality is that one does need a paycheque in order to do fun things like, say, trips to New York.  So I guess I'll be showing up to see what messages await me in my inbox.

Anyway, no one gives two hoots about the fact that I am going back to work and I really don't expect pity from anyone.

So, who wants to hear about New York?

New York, my friends, is fabulous.  I felt like I was walking from one movie scene to another.  From one television episode to the next.  Several times I thought I was in the opening scene of Armageddon (remember that loud guy with the little dog? - we saw lots of that kind of stuff).  I felt like I was in Sex and the City with all the taxis and beautiful people in fabulous clothes.  I saw the Park Hotel where Crocodile Dundee popped his head out the window and yelled about the bidet.  I hung out at the Rockefeller Centre looking for Lucy Lemon (no luck).

In fact, despite valiant effort on my part, no one famous person was spotted.  I thought I saw Bill Gates at one point but that turned out to be a false alarm.  Other than that, there were no stars to be seen.

That's not to say that we didn't see famous places.  Those were ridiculously easy to spot.

Some highlights:

- we ran twice.  I blew my 17 minute run time out of the water and, instead, ran for 24 minutes.  But I just HAD to get to Central Park and do a wee loop.  It took me 7 minutes just to get there -  I was NOT going to turn around before getting a taste!

Doug ran a little further and got to go all the way around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.  So he got to see views like this: 

- we walked and walked and walked: 

from on end of the city to the other

- we explored all of the famous shops: 

- we explored the culture of NYC: 

- and we saw the sights: 

Grand Central Terminal 
(see the second floor? The entire floor is the newest Apple store.  How cool is that?)

Trump Tower

View from the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Tower).  See the Statue of Liberty off to the right? 

Times Square

My new friend

New York was everything it was supposed to be.  We had a fabulous time and I felt perfectly spoiled from start to finish.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

We're Off!

We're off to The City that Never Sleeps.


Money Town.

The Big Apple.

I googled NYC nicknames and found one site that listed 98 of them.  Crazy.

Let's just call it New York City shall we?

This morning we head to the Buffalo airport.  This will be my first time flying from Buffalo.  I've heard that airport security in the US is a lot stricter than in Canada so, as a diabetic traveler carrying insulin, insulin pump supplies, back up needles, test strips, ridiculous amounts of giant rockets (not the destructive kind) and a pump on my belt - we are leaving even more time for security scrutiny.

Once through the metal detectors though, watch out!

We have three days planned out that will take us from Chelsea to Soho.  From Times Square to Fifth Avenue.  Rockefeller Centre to the Imperial Theatre.

We're going for a run in Central Park (Doug will run an hour, I will run my 17 minutes and then find a cool coffee shop to hang out in).

We're going for oysters at Grand Central Terminal (after we go to the Apple store of course).  Did you know that it's not actually called Grand Central Station since, technically, it's a terminal?  Me neither.

We're going to the MOMA and the Guggenheim.  We're going to B&H.

We're going shopping and my goal is to find something, anything, that does not cost over $300.

We're found so many amazing restaurant options that we've finally stopped looking and decided that we'll just play it by ear when we get there.

Sadly, there is not enough time for the half-day Sex and The City bus tour.

Oh how I love those ladies! 

Funny enough, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero and the Empire State Building did not make it on the list of must sees.  Once the travel books were opened and the maps poured over, they just didn't seem all the important to get to.

I think we found a good balance between typically tourist and off the beaten track.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

All Or Nothing

I often think that having a seven day week is rather inconvenient.

Especially when you have to (or want to) do something every second day.

Having an odd number of days in the week means that what you did on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday last week you will now be doing on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday this week.


I swim Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Those days never change and I like the predictability of that schedule.

Currently, my back to running program has me running every second day.  Last week, I ran Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  It worked beautifully.  I got out of bed every morning and did something.  I showered, dressed, had breakfast and felt energized and ready to tackle the day.

Even if the day was spent reading on the couch.

This week, thanks to our seven day cycle, I have to run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I am not going to give up my swimming on those days so now I am faced with a dilemma.

Do I swim, shower, come home and eat breakfast and then run later on in the day - only to have to shower a second time?

Do I swim, pull on running clothes, drive home, run, stretch, shower then have breakfast?

Do I drive my car to the pool at 5:45am, run for 17 minutes, stretch, then swim for an hour?

Two showers in one day makes for a lot of wet hair.  Swimming for an hour + running and stretching means that breakfast won't be happening until 9am (even though I got up at 5:30).

None of these options are particularly appealing.

Neither is the idea of not doing anything on Tuesday and Thursday.  I am under strict instructions to take rest days for running.  I can't swim those days since the pool hours don't work for me. It's getting pretty cold out so cycling is not happening unless I want to get on my trainer in the spider infested, kinda musty basement.  Even power walking needs to be limited because it's too much too soon for my recently healed stress fracture.

Only a few more weeks of tightly scheduled runs and then things lighten up a bit - in terms of schedule strictness.

Then I can happily swim Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  Run Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  And luxuriate in bed on Sunday morning with a good book.

Speaking of books, I am in the middle of reading Tina Fey's book Bossypants and have put myself on restricted reading access.  No reading in public.  No reading when someone else is in the room.  Most importantly, no reading when someone is lying in bed beside me.

This book is so ridiculously funny that I break into frequent bouts of hysteria (complete with tears running down my face and no-so-ladylike snorts).  I put the book down, giggle like mad, finally gain some semblance of control, pick up the book and dissolve into hysteria again.  And again.  And again.

Gentlemen, I'm not sure how entertaining you'll find the book.  Not because it's anti-men in any way - just because her stories are often about the craziness of being a woman (brick-sized maxi pads, trips to Korean-owned mani/pedi shops that are apparently the same anywhere you go etc etc).  It is however a fascinating story to follow as Tina Fey learns improv, joins SNL and then goes on to 30 Rock.

Just don't read it alone on the subway.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

So Hungry I Could Eat...a Duck?

It was 6:30am and there was just me and two rubber duckies in the pool.

Apparently Monday, January 2nd at the crack of dawn is not a popular time to swim.  I thought there might be a slew of new years resolution swimmers but I had the entire pool to myself - well except for the two little yellow ducks floating in the lane beside me.  Leftover from the family swim the day before I expect.

Three lifeguards were there in case I ran into some serious trouble. No pressure at all as three pairs of eyes watched me swim back and forth and back and forth.

I let myself sleep in until 6am because, well, because I was tired and I am on vacation after all.  Thirty minutes is thirty minutes.

I woke up with a blood sugar of 7.4 so I didn't eat anything.  I just pulled on my bathing suit, my warm fuzzy sweatshirt and comfy pants and padded over to the pool.  When I got there and found myself alone I figured I had better look lively.

I swam the first twenty lengths and struggled a lot with my energy and my breathing.  It dawned on me after a while that perhaps my iron is low.  I struggle with low iron and one of my tricks is to make a breakfast shake every day with Vega powder.  It's pretty high in iron and helps keep me in a good range.  I haven't had my shake once since my vacation started.  Instead, I've been enjoying my Dorset cereal with a banana and a ridiculous amount of pomegranate seeds on top.  It's super tasty but not exactly iron rich. Other than the steak I had the night before, I haven't eaten much red meat in the past few weeks either.  Or spinach.  Or cream of wheat.  Uh oh.

I told myself to take an iron pill when I got home and, in the meantime, suck it up.

Twenty more lengths and my energy seemed to pick up and my breathing seemed to settle.

When I hit 76 lengths (I remember it being that exact number) I realized that I wasn't quite ready to stop yet.  I had a bit more left in me.  Plus, not having to work this week, I also had a bit more time.

So apparently this was the day I was going to try my hand at swimming 2.5k (100 lengths).

I swam 82.  Felt ok.  84 - still good.  86 - still good?  By 88 I was fading. Thankfully I don't really like the number 9.  So the thought of swimming any number of lengths beginning with a 9 was not appealing.  It was going to be 88 or 100.

Being the stubborn lass that I am I carried on.  It wasn't elegant but I did manage to swim all 100 lengths of the pool.  In exactly one hour.

I was pretty exhausted by the end and was wishing that I had eaten a few dates and taken some insulin before my swim.  The blood sugar was ok (9.3) but I was starving.



Those rubber duckies were looking pretty tasty...

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Worth The Time

I ran for fifteen minutes on New Years Eve.  Fifteen consecutive minutes with only a two minute warm-up walk to get the legs moving.

It felt really good and there was no pain.

Funny thing was that I left the house at 8:30am.  I was home by 8:50am - and then the real work began.

First thing I did was take a rubber band and tie it to the couch leg.  Then I spent about five minutes doing several different leg exercises designed to strengthen my knees and my hips.  Pull sideways.  Pull at a 45 degree angle.  Pull backwards.  Etc etc.

Once the rubber band exercises were done I had to stand barefoot and do very subtle things with my feet to work on improving the strength in my arches.  I have lovely arches when my feet are in a resting position but, as soon as I put weight on them, everything smooshes down and I become completely flat footed.

Geoff is on a mission to improve the strength in my hips, knees and feet in an effort to thwart off further injuries.

With his consent, I make an orthotics appointment and should receive my new arches on the 9th of January.  He suggested I take advantage of my benefits before the end of 2011 to get orthotics but he doesn't want me using them until he sees if I'm able to improve my foot strength.  So I'll have them in a box in case I need them.

After the rubber band pulling and the foot strengthening, I then tied the rubber band around my legs (above the knee) and did my funny sideways duck walk across the floor.  Another exercise to increase my strength and make the neighbours laugh if they happen to look in the window.

Finally, I sat down on my yoga mat to stretch everything out.  Calf stretches, downward dogs, pigeon poses, hip flexor stretches, back stretches - you get the idea.  Follow that by some Trigger Point to loosen things up even more.

I rolled up my mat at 10am.

Seventy minutes after I came in from my 15 minute run.

It seems like a ridiculous amount of time to spend on muscle fitness and I have no idea how I'm going to keep it up once I go back to work.  But I must say that I felt loose and limber as I bounced up and down the stairs.

I remember reading that people who exercise live longer than people who don't but that all the extra time they get is spent exercising.  So, time-wise, it doesn't work out to be any more.

I think the most important part though is not the extra time we get for taking care of ourselves but how good we feel because we take care of ourselves.  Taking 1 1/2 hours to do a fifteen minute run may seem counter-intuitive but, when you feel as good as I did when I was finished, it's absolutely worth it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The First Day

I love even numbers so the year 2012 looks, in my humble opinion, much prettier than 2011.

2011 had some redeeming qualities - if you add up all the numbers (2+1+1) you get four which is the best number going.

2012 is pretty cool because if you take the 12 and multiply it by the 2 you get 24.  I love 24.

Anyway, happy new year folks!

I hope you all enjoyed the transition from 2011 to 2012 - whether you sat in your pyjamas and watched Sex and the City reruns with your cat or whether you crawled home at 4am with tinsel in your hair and a new friend named Raoul.

January first always feels like a fresh start.  A clean slate.

I don't make resolutions today because I feel like I spend plenty of time during the rest of the year setting lofty goals for myself thank you very much.  No need to make a new list just because everyone else is doing it.

Twenty-twelve holds plenty of promise and is already shaping up to be a year of fun times and memorable moments.

In a mere four days, the adventure begins.  You see, I opened one of my presents on Christmas morning and discovered tickets to Billy Elliot.  Pretty exciting!  I love the theatre and Toronto is always fun to visit.

Doug suggested I read the tickets a little more closely.

Ok, tickets to Billy Elliot on January 6th.  At the Imperial Theatre.  Where's that?!?

...New York!!??


We're off to NYC for three days next week.  Shopping, running (17 whole minutes!) in Central Park, theatres, art galleries and restaurants.  I'm so excited!

February, my little sister and I are going on a makeup adventure.  She is taking me to a half-day workshop in Toronto that teaches you all kinds of fun tricks.  We figure we'll be the worst students in the class since we have no idea what the hell we're doing but it should be fun. February is also the month where I run a trivia night for a great group of people so I'll be spending all of my free time gathering 100 awesome questions.  On top of that, I will hopefully have completed my return to running program and should be running 40 minutes to an hour by then.  Right on time for minus 30 + windchill.

March is Around the Bay.  I won't be running it this year since I won't be able to do that kind of distance yet but I'll be there.  Doug's running it.  So is Scully (I think?  Are you running it Scully??).  And so is Jeff - all the way from Boston.

April seems pretty quiet so far but I may try to run the Chocolate 10-miler - depending on how my legs are doing.

May is the Cabot Trail relay.  Klari, our fearless Simcoe Shores organizer has set her sights on the Cabot Trail race - a 298km, 17 stage relay that takes runners through the Cape Breton highlands.  It may take some convincing to get enough runners to sign on but I have a pretty good feeling that I'll be driving a van full of sweaty athletes around Cape Breton island.

June begins triathlon season and, with all the swimming I've been doing, I think I may give it a try.  I'm not sure if I'll like open water swimming in large groups but there really is only one way to find out.

July is the first of two family weddings this year and Doug and I have been asked to be the photographers.

August is birthday month but beyond that bit of trivia we haven't got anything going on...yet.

September and October look pretty tame at the moment but I would like to run a 1/2 marathon at some point this year so that may be the time to do it.  I also have a goal of getting to Israel within the next 15 months.  Either September of 2012 or, even more fun, March of 2013 to run the Tel Aviv 1/2 marathon.

November is the New York Marathon.  Doug has a guaranteed entry into the race thanks to his superb time at the Hamilton marathon.  If I can convince him that he really does want to go to NYC twice in one year...we may be back there again.  November is also my ten year diaversary.  Anyone up for a celebratory party??

December is family wedding number two and the return of the Israelis for Christmas.  Speaking of those two lovebirds - here is a link to Afterglow's blog if you want to see some of the wedding photos.

Life, as I know well enough, never goes as planned but the road ahead looks pretty appealing.

Welcome to 2012 folks.  I hope the year is good to you and that, most importantly, it's full of good health and happiness.