Thursday, December 23, 2010

December, and On to a New Year

[This is a cross-post from Snowshoe Magazine's Blog.]

I'm not sure if it's the getting used to the darkness and cold again, or the hustle and bustle frenzy of holiday hubaloo, but December and I don't get along very well. I tend to feel down, negative, and easily overwhelmed. Pull over, I want off the Busy Train and just sit and watch the stars. Like my garden, I need a bit of time to sit fallow.

I love the New Year though, and this year I'm particularly looking forward to it. I found 2010 a bit of a struggle, but the good news is that it is ending on a much better note than it started. Today is my last day of work until Jan 3, and I'm lucky to have some downtime to relax and spend time with family. And run a million miles.

I haven't made resolutions in a few years, but this year I jotted down about ten without particularly giving it a lot of thought. That tells me something. I'm trying to keep them framed in a positive way, for example instead of saying "I'm going to stop doing X", I think it's healthier to say "I will do Y." I want to simplify and streamline, but in doing so I don't want to define my life by what I don't do.

Last night we ran later than usual, and the woods were snow-covered and intensely peaceful. It was just what I needed, I was off that train and everything felt just Right. After moving a computer mouse all day, it felt so good to move my body, be in nature, breathe the air.... just be.

A very happy holiday to you.


Stars or snowflakes?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Training: Week of Dec 6

M - 30'
T - 52'
W - 50'
T - 70' [incl 10' tempo, 3 x long hills, 7 x short at little cat; felt ham tendon on loose snow, so shortened to packed upper hill and was fine]
F - 32' fun strength w/o in snow after
S - am 31', pm 43'
S - 40'

Total 5.8 hours

No long run killed the total compared to the last two weeks, but that's okay. It was uninspiring here weather-wise today, to say the least. Felt kind of tired, so happy to keep it short.

Put up a post on La Sportiva's mountain running blog.

Reading Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, and it's surprising how much I'm not liking it. It's not that he isn't interesting, and I agree with him about some things, but despite really wanting to like him, I'm really just not.
EDIT: It's getting better. Figured it would so stuck with it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Training: Week of Nov 29

M - 43'
T - 52' Waterfront in town, windy
W - 40' Cat W first snow on ground
T - 68' [with 10' tempo, 6 x Yarker hills (86 to 76 sec)]
F - 41'
S - 30'
S - 3:20 Front Pk, Arkon W, Bufflehead - Moulton, Little Clear, BSL. Great until bonkage last hour. Light snow, beautiful day on the trails. Park empty... everyone at the mall. (We stopped at Chapters on Saturday and even the overflow to the overflow parking lot was overflowing.)

Total 7.9 hours

Graduated to monthly physio appts. Felt solid on long run structurally. It's like a miracle to be training again. Big pot of chili waiting when we got home.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Training: Week of Nov 22

M - 40'
T - 51'
W - 46'
T - 62' [wu, 10' tempo + 5 x Curl Rd Hills (~1:45 up), cd]
F - 45'
S - 40'
S - 145'

Total 7.2 hours; In general I'm also doing post-run stretching and strength/rehab 5-6 days

Just over a nasty November cold, but I usually get it in December, so it's nice to have it out of the way. Thursday workout felt amazing, no twinges of pain at all and able to maintain good form easily. Officially now "uninjured", and a great week to start training with. VERY happy to be back! Would like to race before Feb...don't want to let my 30s pass me by without doing that as a goodbye to my "youth", ha ha ha ha ha.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cold Weather Running Contest

Okay cold weather runners, here's a contest you don't want to miss - La Sportiva is offering up an incredible prize package for the best winter running story. Get creative, and

enter here

You have until December 17th to enter. Good luck!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I'm fast approaching physio graduation, after making rapid improvements over the last month. Things are really starting to come together now, and I'm excited to build up my training, and finally race again this winter. When I look back over the last year since I 'checked into rehab' (so to speak), I feel in such a better place. I feel like I missed out on a lot, but in the end I know I am coming out in a better, more sustainable, and wiser place.

The hardest part was in September after realizing that I had to let go of precious mileage and long runs that were just getting my nose above water again, and cut back again to let my new physio stuff really kick in. It made sense on paper that the quickest way forward was to hit the pause button, but by then I had used up all my patience. I was in an ugly mood let me tell you; it was so frustrating to miss another fall without a goal race.

My physiotherapist, Stacee Smith, is incredible. She really understands how interconnected the body is, and keeps the big picture in mind as she corrects imbalances with stretching and progressive strengthening. I've learned so much from her, and my running will always be better for it. Even after she proclaims me well, I'm going to keep going for maintenance on a regular basis in the future. We ask a lot of our bodies and need to take care of them. Somewhere along the line I really started taking mine for granted.

Another amazing healer who I've been going to this year is Dr. Sonya Nobbe, a Naturopath. She has also helped me a ton with her advice and recommendations of supplements based on my blood work, diet, lifestyle, etc.. I've had absolutely great results so far and can really feel the difference. For example, she casually mentioned in my first visit that we'd get my iron stores above 50 and I thought, 'wouldn't that would be nice, but not possible'. Just a few months later, they were at 51.

When we hosted the Sydenham Fall Trail Run two weeks ago, I stood by the finish line, where I always do, and was struck by the emotion of individuals and groups coming in. All shapes and sizes of people, all ages, some with pain written on their faces, and some with huge smiles. A group of women wearing matching pink shirts streamed in whooping it up, and the thought that this little race has become special to a lot of people was overwhelmingly satisfying. I was glad I was wearing my sunglasses. I still can't watch it in the video without welling up.

We're all connected, and I've learned we don't always need to achieve something ourselves to gain from it. I gained 223 times over that day, and am grateful to my fellow runners for giving me that. I'm certain that without my year of injury it would have just been a rather nice but exhausting day, but instead it turned out that it gave me my fall race after all.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fun, Fall, Frontenac

Some scenes from yesterday's long run.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Workout Bliss

Derrick and I did our first real workout together last night in way too long; maybe a year even, yikes. A ridiculously long time, and oh how I've missed the fun we have. (When I say we do it together I really mean we warm up together, do the same workout at our own pace, then cool down together.) The workout was a tempo run around two loops of a combination trail and road route with a big uphill at the end, so it wasn't a super-fast loop, but the effort felt great.

The cool down is always so fun because we chatter away in our sweaty-tired satisfaction about how we felt, our pace, blah blah blah, just basically analyzing every little thing in absurd detail that a non-runner would find extremely bizarre and tedious.

On normal runs you can let your mind wander, but in a speed workout your world becomes narrowly focused down to your own little bubble. I crave that, and that's a big part of why I love workouts so much. They are uncomfortable, but they have to be to get to that place where all the clutter in your brain just falls to the wayside and you're floating free.

A Siku Workout: Spinning in Circles

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Colorado II: James Peak

We woke early, hopeful that the window of good weather would stay open for us to reach the summit of James Peak. At 13,294 feet, it would be the highest we had ever run, and after only five days since leaving Ontario, it would be a good challenge.

During the previous days in Colorado we hadn't let the altitude hold us back, but had tried to be smart by sleeping in Boulder for two nights before moving on to St. Mary's at about 10,000 ft for the rest of our trip. During this time we hiked and ran up to higher elevations a couple of times each day. Luckily we all coped pretty well which was a relief.

We were staying just a short distance from the St. Mary's Glacier, a really neat snowfield at around 11,000 ft. We had all been up there to hike the day before and scouted out the area above it, to around 12,000 ft. The vast landscape above treeline was incredible, I never wanted to come down. A couple of hikers confirmed that the blob of mountains ahead of us contained James Peak, and that it would be a good target for the next day. We learned it was on the Continental Divide, which I got so excited about and it became an even bigger pull.

Starting up the trail, I tried to pace myself, but even so I found that I was huffing pretty hard early on. I hiked the steeper part of the glacier before returning to running when it mercifully flattened out. Once we made our way further up James Peak the going got very tough and I was hiking more than running. The grades didn't seem too bad with all the switchbacks, but the altitude definitely made it a lot harder. It was a bit frustrating to have to go slower and slower to haul myself up, all the while breathing harder and harder, but I told myself not to be stupid and just be happy that I was able to do it at all.

Finally reaching the summit, we took in the hard-earned view before heading back down. Going down was so easy with the gentle slopes that prevented it from being overly jarring, but it seemed to take forever to get to the bottom. I felt pretty good about making it up all that way.

What I loved about this whole area is that it wasn't busy. Down on the glacier area there were a lot of people, but getting up higher it was empty. If there had have been a 14'er in the area, we guessed it might have been packed. On the entire run up James Peak we only met a group of two on our way up, and another two later on our way down. It was nice to have the mountain to ourselves.

After this run I felt completely and utterly useless until late in the afternoon, similar to after a really hard race effort.

Photos, going up and then coming down:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Late Summer Update

I got to a certain point in my recovery which I was finding difficult to get past, so I have been going to see an amazing physio who specializes in running. I'm completely impressed by her approach, how she has been looking at the big picture of how things are working together.

Frankly, I have no patience left to throw at a slow recovery, so I have cut my mileage for a few weeks and am rehabbing like crazy to get things off the ground. Cutting my mileage is very hard because I'm just starting to get some fitness back, but my gut is telling me that if I can just hang in there to lay a good foundation from this particular rehab, then I will be in a much, much, much better place to increase. In three visits I'm already noticing massive improvements in my pelvic alignment and glute function, so at least I have obvious feedback that I'm on the right track.

Running-wise it's been a very challenging year and I'm feeling a bit desperate by this point, but I have to acknowledge that a lot of good has come out of it. I should be all positive-minded and list those good things, but I'm not in the mood to do that anymore. Seriously, time to move on.

UPDATE: I should delete this post for being so whiney!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Ahh, Colorado.







If you want inner peace find it in solitude, not speed, and if you would find yourself, look to the land from which you came and to which you go. - Steward L. Udall
Read more on Colorado (run up James Peak) here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer: Over-rated, but still lots of good things

Summer isn’t my best season, due mostly to the fact that it is too hot and humid to ever be comfortable running, plus the mosquitos are atrocious which can make working or relaxing outside decidedly un-fun. So a big fat double boo hiss to summer for messing with two huge parts of my life.

Anyway, I decided to make a list of things I actually DO love about summer.

- Butterflies and dragonflies
- Birds singing
- Swimming in a deep, refreshing lake
- Getting a tan
- Dressing very light when running
- Blackberries
- Fresh produce in general
- Long, long hours of daylight
- Greenness
- Open windows
- Outdoor shower
- Clothesline
- Thunderstorms
- Our Fiskars lawnmower

Cooling their paws after a big storm, from L-R Siku, Neeka, Mali, Jesse, Willy, Meela

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Great Summer Read: Endurance

If anyone is looking for the perfect adventure story to read this summer, try Alfred Lansing's 1959 classic (the 1999 2nd edition is widely available) Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage.
It is an absolutely fascinating account of the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition that went horribly wrong. Lansing wrote the book after interviewing and researching diaries of the majority of the expedition's members. It's a tough one to put down.
“For scientific discovery, give me Scott. For speed and efficiency of travel, give me Amundsen. But when disaster strikes and all hope is lost, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.”
–Sir Raymond Priestley

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Training sensibly and seeing where that leads

All through the last year of spiraling down into injury and then building back up to recovery, I still "loved running" as a life philosophy, and basically just something I deep down really do love. But really? Many, many, many of those runs were pretty darn sucky. I was hurt, burnt out, and then finally just plain out of shape.

The last few weeks things are really starting to click again, and I'm loving running as an actual Thing To Do again, not just a theory. In a way I'm loving it more than I ever have, because I'm so revived and appreciative of it after the break from training, and I'm also returning in a sensible way.

This sensible approach business feels so good I think I'm going to continue it. Instead of my usual high weeks then really low weeks where I'm toast, I'm going to pace myself, increase mileage gradually, and just generally be a whole lot smarter.

I'm in the middle of a recovery week after three consistent weeks of 7-8 hours each, and I'm recovering really quickly while only dropping down to about 6ish. A more typical pattern for me might have been something like 11, 14, 4, 6 ....not intending the 4 or the 6 but paying the price. I still want to increase, but I'm not going to try going from A to Z all at once. Skipping those other letters is not a good idea at all. I think I'm going to really enjoy those other letters.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Da Plan, Boss! Da Plan!

After averaging about 6 hours/week for the past three months, and up to 8 hours/week now, I felt the time had come to make myself a current training plan (with a little help from Derrick). I find having a plan helps me to stay on track and to progress.

I need a training plan that has the perfect balance of Set-in-Stone and Flexible. The Set-in-Stone aspect is that the basic framework is non-negotiable unless there's a BGR (bloody good reason) for missing a run completely. This at least gets me out the door.

But besides that, there is a lot of flex:
  • A range of times.

  • Morning runs either before work or over lunch, while second runs can either be over lunch or after work. That way I can fit the day's training around other priorities.

  • Choice between weeks A and B. Right now I'm doing a bunch of A's to build volume and get used to workouts again before sprinkling in more B's later on, which have two workout days.

  • Workout options: Currently my workouts are more of a 'steady to low-end tempo', but soon I can add hills, tempos, intervals, progressions, etc. (Workouts will eventually get a plan of their own with more specifics.)
Q1: Do you find that you need a training plan, or do you prefer to make it up as you go along?

I had an interesting discussion with Karen on our lunch run about where that deep-down desire to take the plunge and commit to a challenging race even comes from. Q2: Any thoughts on that topic?


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An Unexpected Gift from the Rockies

Sometimes you have to go on a date with a supermodel to appreciate the girl next door. When Derrick and I went to Banff National Park last October, I was concerned that being in this iconic mountain landscape that I had dreamed of seeing for so long would ruin me forever for living in Ontario. I’ve loved being in mountainous places in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Quebec, BC, Oregon - but always I had put the Canadian Rockies on the high pedestal of being my Dream Place, sight unseen. And maybe they still are in a way, but I was also paradoxically given a huge gift in that they made me appreciate home.

And it’s not to take anything away from the spectacular scenery and wildness of the Canadian Rockies. It is impossible not to drool over the eye-candy scenes that are literally everywhere; to enjoy the endless trails; to marvel at being among grizzlies and cougars; to soak up the pure, invigorating air; and to relish the space that we luckily had mostly to ourselves in the post-summer/pre-ski season. It was really, really awesome.

Everyone we knew joked that we’d not want to leave, and prior to the trip I would have agreed that I’d be happy to stay forever in my Dream Place. And it was true that driving back from the airport in Toronto, passing such a high population density all the way to our house, we missed all that great western space. Even on our little dirt road in the relative middle of nowhere, it felt cramped with houses everywhere. And of course we missed the mountains, as we always do when we return from them.

But at the same time I felt completely at peace with being home, and have ever since. For some reason I’m now better able to appreciate the landscape and trails we have here for what they are. We’re lucky in that they are almost always deserted, so we have the natural world to ourselves. We see a surprising variety of animals very close to where we live. Even better, just twenty minutes from our house is the edge of the massive Canadian Shield. Suddenly we cross over into a world that is full of constantly rolling hills, and filled with jutting granite, shining lakes, abundant wildlife, and endless woods.

Happily, our nearby mountain playground of the Adirondacks in New York is also now dosed with more of my appreciation. These ancient mountains are undeniably gorgeous, and such a short drive away for us. And as trail runners, it’s really nice being able to reach the summits of any of the endless peaks with relative ease; every single one we see is fair game.

As much as it is a welcome joy to run trails in new places, it is also getting to know particular trails intimately from countless journeys that is part of what makes a place special to me. I think Leslie helped me realize this with how much she loves where she lives, in Banff. And it’s not about the tourist views; it is about deeply knowing her environment from countless hours spent traveling on foot through it, wandering into the deepest corners until it becomes enmeshed in, and inseparable from, who she is. I took that lesson home with me and it opened my eyes and made me appreciate what I already have but was too dense to see.

The beauty of our Shield-next-door is more subtle than the supermodel mountains, but is lovely in its own unique way. I have always known that loveliness, but coming back I felt something shift as I saw it now with no qualifications or inadequacies attached. As in, I got it, registered it and – as I keep repeating - appreciated it.

It’s a theme that life keeps teaching me over and over in different ways, about feeling okay right where I am. Like peeling the proverbial onion, here’s yet another layer of it.

Heading to Colorado this summer, I’m excited to see the U.S. Rockies and enjoy the serious eye candy with fun new trails. And then come home and run our own serene, beautiful trails at home. And be happy with that.

Just one of many in the land of the tall, freakishly beautiful, somewhat inaccessible, and very photogenic.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Return from the Dead

My boss when I worked in Toronto used to say to clients that something was 'a process, not an event' to temper their expectations of an unrelealistic timeline. My return from the grips of the grim reaper called Injury has had its ups and downs over the past few weeks, and I'm seeing that it is a process, not a matter of having one decent run and - presto - being back to where I was.

It does seem now that the ups are getting higher, and the downs are fewer and farther between.

After last week's big down of not getting very far into a race attempt, I actually ended up having a great week. My first tempo run in nine months was on tuesday night during the heat wave, and it went quite well, considering. Then some barefoot runs on our property trail, which I always love. And finally, today we capped off the week with my best long run in ages and ages and ages at Frontenac.

It was a beautiful loop, including a cut-across trail that we rarely use (Bufflehead), which was gorgeous. Early on we saw a sweet Canada goose family very close up. Two adults and five little fuzzy ones just about ready to start getting their feathers. I felt good running, really at one with the trail, and finally felt that some long-run fitness was returning. When we finished at 3:08, I was happy to be done, but still felt really great. It was nice that the humidity had dropped and we were mostly in the shade of trees and clouds the entire run.

The most amazing thing was sitting in the car on the way home, when I realized that my left hip area wasn't seizing into a painful throbbing knot of spasms. I just sat there peacefully and it blew me away.

So with a little more patience and some good training through the summer, I think I'll look at the Haliburton 50k again as a goal race. If I feel ready for something before then, then maybe Finger Lakes 25k, but I really need to feel confident before I race again. Today was a good step in that direction.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Run for Tomorrow Trail Marathon and 10K

What do you do when a trail marathon is held just around the corner from your house? Well, even though I’m coming off a long injury and had no business thinking I could run a marathon, I went to run it anyway.

The event is called the Run for Tomorrow Trail Marathon and 10K, and is put on by Malcolm Anderson in Yarker, Ontario. He has carved out a 2.1 km loop that weaves through fields and woods on his property. All day I kept thinking of Field of Dreams and ‘If you build it, they will come’. Malcolm, who has a similar zeal for marathons that Ray Kinsella had for baseball, did indeed build a very pretty trail, and a nice little crowd came out in the first year to test themselves on it.

A small group of us lined up at 9am for the start of the marathon. There was even a couple from England to make us an international field! Malcolm sent us off, and it felt good to finally be running. We completed a partial loop, and then started the countdown of 19 more to go.

I started off easily, and kept in mind that the stars would really have to line up for me to make it to the finish even at a very comfortable pace. The repeated short loops made it convenient to hit the aid station at convenient intervals, and each loop held the anticipation of heading back into the beautiful dark woods where the trail passed downhill by a pond and then up two hills to keep your muscles working in different ways for variety.

Out in the open I was slowly starting to cook under the now blazing sun, and wondering how much longer I’d want to keep going. I'm not my best as a heat runner, and certainly not in May when the last long run I did I was wearing a hat and tights. Then I saw Karen and Julianne Murphy, which was a nice surprise and gave me a lift. I asked them if they were running the 10K which was to start soon, and Karen said she was kicking herself for not bringing shoes. So I tossed my extra Skylites at her to much laughter and applause from the gathering group of 10K runners, and she ended up running a great race.

As for me, those stars didn’t line up, but I managed some decent heat training before pulling the plug for the day. I was happy to get in a few hours, and also that my hamstring held up well and my hips felt pretty good too. Definite progress. I'm in a place now where I can start full-on training and am very excited about that.

Derrick and I stuck around for some lunch and to chat with other runners, and thought about coming back later for the live music that was to take the outdoor stage later. As it turned out we were too tired, but we live so nearby that we could actually hear a few strands of music later when the wind blew just right. We smiled that we weren't missing out after all.

It was a very fun day! Many thanks to Malcolm for hosting a great event!

I received a nice shower from a tent before the race - I really could have used this a bit later!

Aid station being set up.

Race Director Malcolm busy on race day.

A 10K runner rounding the loop and looking strong.

Cute and extremely obedient spectators, the Murphy Dawgs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Recipe File: Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Potato Layer
3 large potatoes
3 large sweet potatoes

Lentil Layer
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can lentils
1 can diced tomatoes, or 4 fresh medium tomatoes chopped
½ cup salsa
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
½ tsp hot sauce
¾ cup dry breadcrumbs
½ cup TVP (texturized vegetable protein) chunks or slices
1 can corn
1 red pepper, chopped
Spices: cayenne, cumin, thyme, salt, pepper, whatever you like, to taste

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cube and boil potatoes until soft and then mash. (Optionally add whatever you normally use in your mashed potatoes, but the sweet potatoes make it creamy and tasty as is.) Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Cook onions and garlic until tender. Stir in rest of ingredients and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Transfer mixture to a large casserole dish.

Smooth the mashed potatoes over top. Sprinkle with paprika, ground flax seed, sunflower seeds, or other topping of your choice.

Bake 40 minutes.

Lentil mixture:

Potato toppings, flax and sunflower seeds:

Dig in!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'll have what she's having...

Nature Girl had her redemption run last week, and I set off for my long run on Sunday needing one as well. After my stomach woes last week, the goal was to get this one in without dying. Turns out I was sick with a stomach bug for most of last week, so that explains why last week's run went south so badly. I had a very light week of running as a result, so I went in to this one well tapered.

Derrick and I did a loop of Big Salmon and Little Clear Lakes at Frontenac Park, where the first hour was extremely technical. That tired me out and made my hips sore, but once we rounded Big Salmon into the northern part of the park the surface started to get smoother and I felt much better. We ended up doing exactly three hours, which was a big milestone for me. It was cold out so I was wearing lightweight tights, a jacket and a buff around my ears. Very different than last week's hot long run!

Last night I followed up with an hour trail run with some good climbs, trying to blow some more rust off from the winter of injury. Today I have nicely sore (as in not in an injured way) leg muscles. That feels good!

Derrick mentioned Fred the Breadmaker in his latest blog, but Fred isn't the only new addition to our household. We also picked up Viren, our new manual lawnmower from Finland. He is a Fiskars Momentum and works surprisingly well. We spent a bit more on a good quality design and we're glad we did. Living out of town we drive a lot, but we decided we could stop using the gas lawnmower at least. We're leaving wider borders around the edges of the lawn and encouraging wildflowers to grow. I think it is going to look great, and suits us nicely.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Finding My Lost Self on the Trail

You have to be very needy for a long run to enjoy even a good bonk.

Yesterday we headed to Frontenac Park, in all it's single-track glory. Derrick was running with Taylor and I opted for a smaller loop than them, but still one that would take me on a tour of the northern loops (North Big Salmon, Hemlock, Gibson, Little Clear). My hamstring has been feeling really good, improving significantly since Karen and I have been doing hill workouts the past three weeks. I was so excited to hit the trails feeling in such a good place.

Everything felt perfect on this run for the first 90-100 minutes. Even though it was hot, there was a bit of a breeze and I felt amazing, just flowing along the trails happy as anything, and grateful to be there. The green of the woods was back, with trilliums everywhere, and lakes brimming with life. I felt the rejuvination of spring mirrored in my own recovery. The rolling hills that I sometimes struggle on felt almost easy just because I was so happy. And really, not yet being in peak shape for going long feels a whole lot better than the 'scraping the bottom of the barrel' I felt last year. If I had kept it to a 2-hour loop, all would have been 100% perfect. But I was on a 2.5 hour loop, which was a bit more than I could handle given that it was an increase of a half hour for me, it was hot, I hadn't eaten much, and I only brought one water bottle to wash down my gels with. Not being long-run fit right now, my margin of error isn't wide enough to get away with all of that so I paid the price.

It was kind of interesting how spectacularly I bonked. I've had some very bad long runs before, but never, ever, ever have I not even been able to shuffle back, however slowly. This time my stomach was so upset and I was so zonkered I actually sat down at one point. It was heaven to sit down, and I was hoping my stomach would calm down. I had to get back though, but couldn't manage to run for more than 5 minutes at a time before having to walk. Hills were out of the question, I had nothing left. I felt so BAD physically, but still I was so HAPPY. There was no hint of despair, it all just felt good, even in it's awfulness. The amazing first part of the run more than made up for the challenge at the end, it was so incredible to be back on the flowing trails.

I've been in bliss ever since, even if a bit queasy still. I feel like I have come home. When Derrick and Taylor passed me, Derrick gave me some more water and even met me near the end again, both of which helped. But besides that I was grateful to have the run to myself, I really needed it for me. A few weeks ago my Naturopath asked me if I had anything besides running that helped me deal with stress, and sure, dealing with stress is one thing, but nothing fills up my soul like a long run through the forest. Through nature and on trails that are soft dirt from only ever being covered by footsteps. It's undeniably my church, my meds, my cleansing; it taps me in like nothing else. I knew how much I'd missed it, but I didn't appreciate how deeply that went until yesterday.

I know what my Naturopath was getting at: running relies on the body, and is therefore a vulnerable connection to rely on. Injuries, sickness, accidents can take it away in a flash. Still, what choice do I have but to accept that. In "Body, Mind, Spirit" the body comes first, it is of of equal importance. But all the Vogue magazines have it wrong; the beauty is in the function. To me the Body is the vehicle through the Mind and ultimately to the Spirit, and to have use of it is a true gift.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Types of Runs

Some people, like Siku here, always seem to have consistently Good Runs. I'm not like that. Here's a small sample of the variety of runs that are in fact possible...

Kill You or Cure You Run - Feeling run down and zombie-like, and figure a brisk run will either push you over the edge to being sick, or magically make everything better.

Let's Snot and Just Say We Did Run - Those cold days when your nose is running harder than your legs.

Paranoia Run - Coming back from injury and worried the whole time that you'll aggravate it and make things worse.

Hurts So Good Run - The whole point - whether it be hills, tempos, intervals - is to get out of the comfort zone.

Bad Eats Run - Running too soon after a big meal or junk food. Significantly worse if the run is a workout. Could lead to the dreaded...

Runs Run - Dash to the bushes required.

Why Did I Bother Run - The rare run when you probably shouldn't have, for whatever reason. Usually end up wondering why you suck so bad instead of learning from it.

Fueled by Anger Run - Not typically a very long run as it starts out at a rage-infused, unsustainable pace before tapering down to a crawl when you calm down.

Puff and Pound Run - Up and down a mountain. No warmup possible, just up and up, puffing the whole way, followed by a quad-pounding descent.

Kill Me Now Run - Treadmill. 'Nuff said.

Not Even a Run - Crosstraining.

Calorie Run - Any run long enough to eat more than two gels.

Bonk Run - Shoulda brought more calories!

Sauna Run - Way too many layers.

Stripper Run - Ditching several layers mid-run. Sometimes right to the downright scanty. (You know who you are.)

Off the Map Run - Getting lost. Or going off-course during a race.

Knobby Tire Run - In serious mud and thankful for well-tractioned trail shoes to keep you on your feet. (Love my Crosslites!)

Zen Run - One-with-the-Universe bliss achieved on those days when everything feels good. Zen Plus if it's in the woods. Zen Minus if it's during a race (sorry, I'm just jealous). Aka Siku Run.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

More is more and less is less, but sometimes less is more effective

A long-recurring problem I've had with my training is that I think of my weeks as 'Mon - Sun' and try to cram in as much as I can handle, which leaves me in a position where my Sunday long runs get any scraps of energy I might have left over. Then I get frustrated when my long runs don't go very well and question how I can ever run ultras if I can't even do long runs!

So, over the past two weeks I've been following a plan that Derrick has set up for me. Right now, coming off injury and trying to regain fitness, I'm finding it very helpful to have these guidelines to hold me back earlier in the week and save something for Sunday. I think there is a place for my usual approach of trying to max out mileage every day, but I'm just not ready for that yet.

And really, seeing how well I seem to be feeling, I'm re-thinking my old strategy and might try to see how taking a day off a week works for me. (I do normally take days off on a 'as needed' basis, but sometimes by then it's too late to do as much good.)
It's hard to make the switch though. Now that I'm starting to feel a bit fitter, the thought of my zero day today is bugging me. I would really prefer to run a million miles. Okay, I'd be happy with four or five miles today. BUT....maybe I'll feel decent on my long run this Sunday, which would be kind of great.
I'm going to put my feet up and give it a try.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

For Sale: One Square Wheel (Cheap!)

On second thought, I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

The last two weeks I have made a lot of progress with my injury rehab. I have increased mileage, and finally found myself in the position where it was my fitness holding me back more than my hamstring. To help me get through that, I asked Derrick to make me a training plan for the next few weeks. Not only do I trust him because he totally knows what he's talking about, but it's also a mental relief from obsessing about it. It was honestly a bit hard for me to give up control over my training, but now I'm loving it and have been following his plan to the minute.

One of the most surprising things was that once my hamstring really started to heal, it felt really strange and awkward to run as my left leg adjusted to being able to function again. For so long it felt like it was dragging behind me, like I had "one square wheel" as they say. Not good, but that eventually became my "normal". No wonder my hips were so messed up. Now that I'm getting more accustomed to using both legs equally again, I'm feeling much smoother.

I hope that someday soon I'll have something interesting to talk about instead of my hammie! I'm looking forward to getting back to some rolling single-track soon. Hopefully in a few weeks!

Love this classic:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Snowshoe Magazine Blog: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times; On Listening To Your Body

Snowshoe racing season is over, and I didn’t get a single race in. That really bums me out. My hamstring injury is my own fault for violating the first rule of running: Listen to your body.

Read the rest of the blog here

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


We enjoyed the sunset last night while looking out over our spring pond, and watching countless flocks of geese fly north. It's such a nice time of year, lots of sun and warming up, but still no bugs.

It's been amazing to get out running with shorts on. I've graduated myself out of the gym and am back to all running again. It helps to have the soft, smooth Cataraqui Trail free of snow now. My plan is to hold the mileage steady at around 6-7 hours per week of easy effort and adjust to that fully before increasing anything.

I think it's a reasonable plan, but it's hard to not overanalyze every little ache right now. Just like going into a race you have to trust the training, I guess with coming off an injury you have to trust the healing.

Also from last night, Siku looking serious moments before being pounced on by Jesse (in the background).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Plan B

HAHAHAHA. That's my body laughing at me for declaring that I'm going to start training. It was going well until Wednesday when I tripped on a stick and set back my hamstring. Tripping on a stick is very common when trail running, and usually isn't a big deal, but obviously I was still vulnerable. Since then when I try to run I've been compensating, which is leaving my back and legs feeling sore and out of whack. When I get back to where I was a few weeks ago, I'm going to have to be more careful and stick to easier trails.

Plan B is to get my butt to the gym to cross train. I so despise the elliptical, but its now officially desperate times.

HAHAHAHA. That's me laughing. Oh wait, not funny.

Update: I made friends with the new ellipticals at our new gym. It was good.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Furry Fury

A wise friend of mine pointed out that whenever we become passionate about an issue, we can usually count on, in the same moment, becoming a hypocrite. Most issues have layers of complexity and shades of gray, and the people examining them have their own biases, temperaments, priorities, backgrounds, and even ignorances. Nothing is simple, and we all have equal right to our views and resulting choices. I'll defend anyone's right to that even when I emphatically disagree with them. We're all on our own journey.

Usually when I rant about something, I eventually remember of all that and my rant fizzles out before I ever get around to typing it. I can count on one hand the issues that, for me, would get out of my own head, past that filter, and wind up here as a rant. But all winter I've been seeing students (on the campus where I work) with Canada Goose jackets. Are all these kids really going off to polar expeditions or climbing Everest over their holidays, which is about the level of cold these coats were designed for? Can they really justify the need for a fur ruff to keep their faces from freezing in southern Ontario? No, they are walking to and from class draped in coyote in the name of nothing more than having a trendy, expensive status symbol. An unnecessary, wasteful, insulting, offensive and disrespectful status symbol. And call me a hypocrite in my own down jacket if you like - I'll be the first to agree that I have blood on my hands just like we all do - but it still really pisses me off.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Welcome Back to Winter

My friend Deb is in town, visiting from Taiwan, and we spent a few days north of here at a cottage and doing some trail running. On snow! What a concept! Deb has always loved snow, and I miss snow with all the ice we currently have, so we both had a great time playing on the trails.

The pretty view from the cottage. This is the Mississippi River, not to be confused with The Mississippi River.

Trails at Wheeler's Pancake House, in MacDonalds Corners (near Perth).

Deb made this snow angel!

All the maple tubing made for lots of limbo fun!

This guy is staring down a cat.

We also saw sheep, lots of woodpeckers (including two really big ones), and a red fox on the way out.

Deb, this is what The WHEEEE Monster looks like!!

First time on snowshoes!!

The feast after. When we were done, half that bottle of mapley, slurpy goodness was gone.

What a perfect winter day. Thanks, D!!