Run, run, run away…

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I’ve finally managed to get a bit of a running practice/groove going on here. It has been 10 years since I ran a marathon—  (it appears that I am still wearing the same running shoes!) and although I have only ever run the one (there were a few half-marathons in the year or two before and after ‘the one’) despite wanting to, because of a myriad of reasons (moving to a city that is a frozen tundra for 6 months of the year, tearing a hamstring in a supermarket fall, starting and trying to finish a PhD etc… etc…)  I have not been able to get back to running regularly, never mind train for a marathon.

Before I go on, let me just make this clear;  ‘running’ for me is a very broad term– I define it here, for the purpose of this blog post as; “sufficiently moving my body in such a way that may resemble shuffling or walking, yet which results in my face turning beet-red and me breaking a sweat.”

I have been using a “>Couch to 5K app – Every morning  a disembodied voice greets me at 5:15 am with a cheerful (no, make that creepy) “Hey awesome runner!” and then, throughout the next 35 minutes instructs me when to walk or run and adds further peppy comments like “Great! You’re doing it!” (No sh*t-Sherlock – you think I’d be listening to you if I wasn’t out here plodding along the deserted streets at dawn?!) I tolerate her banter only because it keeps me honest. I’m good at following instructions and I fear that if I was left to my own devices I’d give up and walk more than, run.

I have to say, I am really, really happy to back at it. Over the winter I was desperately trying to find an exercise regime that made me feel everything that running does for me, energized, raring to go and mentally clear. But, despite sticking to a gym-based routine that included time on the elliptical machine and weights it always felt like a chore. I have been faithful to my daily home yoga practice (inspired very much by the book Yoga at Home that I return to again and again) but desperately knew I needed more.  And, I have to admit being outside, after a looooong hard winter in which I was I was sick a lot… colds, hacking-persistent coughs, fevers and even a pneumonia diagnosis at one point. I am just so happy to be outdoors. Plodding along.

Early morning is my absolute favourite time. I love the nearly deserted streets. I nod to the few other runners I encounter on my way (and pick up my pace to save face when they come into view) and feel total respect for all those on the first bus of the morning (already standing room only). I keep only one ear bud in so I can hear my creepy-disembodied running coach chirp her commands and inspirational catchphrases (“You’re almost there! Keep going!”) But my other ear is tuned to the morning birdsong — for me, the best kind of inspirational catchphrases.

Besides the beet-red face and sweat, running both clears my mind and gets the ideas flowing in a way that nothing else seems to be able for me. Most mornings, part ways into my run, I am fumbling to record a voice memo on my phone (temporarily silencing Suzy Slogan the running coach) while mid-stride because I have an idea for a artistic project, or (on the best days) a few words come together that help bridge something I have been mentally sweating over in my PhD thesis revisions. Sometimes I try and make it home and go straight for my notebook when I walk in the door to scribble down some notes that may or may not be indecipherable by noon, but, never mind- I am already in slightly giddy from the feeling that the creative juices are flowing all before 6am.

Some mornings, along my route I look for ‘signs’- clues, or prompts that may get me going… thinking beyond my research and my own little mental bubble.

I have been running past this car ever since I started back running six weeks or so ago. Each day I would try to come up with different signs it offered me. Abandoned car, (vehicle, machinery, transportation) multiple parking tickets (violations, fines…) AND (it’s hard to see in the photo) but hanging from the rear view mirror (LOOKING BEHIND? BACK?) is a dream catcher (!) I took the photo a week ago– just because it was inspiring so many ideas. But, today the car was gone.

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So, I will continue my early morning shuffles. Searching for more clues.

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Not waving but drowning…

I really think I need a different hobby… This running thing is KILLING me, which is kind of strange since I have been running very little lately. I’ve been THINKING about running a great deal and driving myself insane…

I need to figure out this IT band thing, and I need to figure out a cross training activity that I can fall in love with and commit to. I feel drawn to yoga, I did a few classes of Mike Dennison’s Runners Yoga which I liked very much- but as with everything in my crazy life, so much of it has to do with fitting it in to my (or the kids) crazy schedule.  I know a regular yoga practice would probably do wonders for my aches and pains, it’s just a matter of doing it- I am setting my sights on next week. Next week everything will change.

I was quite excited about this week- it was the first week since my work term had ended and I had BIG plans, that included running, yoga classes and working on my Grad school application… but then sick kids and school professional days happened and I have got NOTHING done.

I need to regroup, refocus and face the truth. I will not be able to run the half next week. there is an 8k race I will have to do that. I just bought myself a very expensive race t-shirt. boo.

My IT band is sore all the time, not just when I run. I have pins and needles running down my leg constantly. Not good. I want to fix it. I want to run another marathon.

I miss running- I really don’t feel “right” when I’m not running on a regular basis- I’ve got to get back there somehow.

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I miss running. I miss running a lot. Lately as I been driving like a crazy woman to work and back, picking up and dropping off children, I will pass places that I used to run when I was training for the marathon. It is the “far away” places that get to me the most. I see them and I can remember how I was feeling. Pacific Spirit Park across form #’s 1 and 2’s school, The MacD’s in Kerrisdale that became a regular bathroom stop on long runs, the intersection of West 33rd and Granville…crossing Granville always made me feel like I was truly doing a long run.

I am too busy to run right now. I usually make an argument about this, knowing that I must always give myself that push to just make time- but I have less than no time… I’m fighting to stay a float here. Just a sampling of what is going on; I’m working 2 days (plus 1 short morning) a week, I am WAY behind in this for-credit university course that I am taking and trying desperately to catch up, we are full on in reno-hell here . Our downstairs is unusable, everything is jammed into the upstairs, there is dust and debris everywhere with a constant parade of trade guys coming through the house, and the ol’man goes to work and then comes home to work on the house which means that I have to do all the extra-curricular activities on my own, these include for this week 9 hockey times (games and practices) 2 piano lessons, 1 choir rehearsal, 1 1st Communion class, 1 Confirmation Class and 2 dance classes. I have not gone to bed before Midnight and I have gotten out of bed at 5:30 everyday. And then there’s the homework, (mine and their’s )and lunches and cooking for 8 people everyday. Oh yeah, and I’m taking the boys to U2 tonight and I have tickets to see David Sedaris Sunday. STOP THE MADNESS!!

I am really not complaining per say, it is more like I am trying to let myself off the hook for not getting out there to pound the pavement, because I do, for whatever reason feel a tad “guilty” for not running.

 

But mostly I just miss it. My body misses it. I just don’t feel right.

October 31st marks the anniversary of my Marathon journey. I cannot believe it was a year ago that I started this whole thing. In the back of my head I have a plan that would see me, on Nov 1st, starting it all over again. That is what I would like to do, I would however also like a nap. We’ll play it by ear.

…Ain’t No Cure For The Summertime Blues

As much as I love summer and the opportunity to break with the monotony of schedules, the racing from one activity to another, the juggling, the “lets GO! everyone in the van!!” I am certainly finding, in terms of ” getting things done,” I thrive in that atmosphere, when there are a billion things to get done and get to – including training for a marathon, I do much better in the chaos than in the slower summer pace. Let’s face it I’m not one to sit still, OK for 5 minutes maybe but then I need to go- go- go!  I’m not saying I’m not enjoying the break, because I am, it’s just I expect I should be able to get stuff done and it doesn’t get done- and that includes “extra” stuff like finally cleaning out the kitchen cupboards or sorting through the mound of papers collecting in the “home office” but somehow there isn’t the time. I’m still up at 5:15 am and I haven’t filled up the time with the pile of “summer reading” that I wanted to get to, I haven’t done my daily strengthening exercises I had planned on doing EVERYDAY and I haven’t taken the kids to the beach nearly as often as I would like- so where has all the time gone?!!

As far as I can figure it’s the lack of  “quiet time- that magic 2 hours when I could count on #’s 1,2,3 and 4 to be in school, #5 to play happily on her own and #6 to have his nap- that was my time- somehow I could pack more into those 2 hours than any other time of day- often running on the treadmill, paying the bills, doing the laundry, prepping dinner and STILL having 10 minutes or so to flip through a magazine whilst enjoying a cup of tea.

Now that everyone is under foot that does not happen- there is always something or someone who needs dealing with and as much as I hate making bag lunches during the school year- I now have lunch dishes to deal with! (did I mention I don’t have a dishwasher?!).

Ah well, the theme running through my life these days seems to be ” go with the flow” and not getting worked up about things not going exactly according to plan- after all, that’s what summers all about non?

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Are We There yet?

Next time I tell you that I’m looking forward to spending 4 days in a hotel room with 6 kids slap me ‘k?

 

No, really, I joke, a lovely time was had by all for the most part, except for the first night when I sliced open my hand on a wine glass that I had tried to stop from falling when #5 knocked it over at dinner… I probably needed a stitch or 2- but that would have been a HUGE inconvenience- thank God for waterproof band aids… Oh, and then there was my van breaking down on the way home… kind of a bummer when your vehicle just loses power and you are in it with 5 children! (The ol’ man was in the truck with #1 because we cannot all fit in one vehicle) The saving grace? we had made it all the way back into the city, like 10 minutes from our house, I was in the curb lane and was able to coast to the side to pull over, we have BCAA roadside assistance who were great and towed us to a garage (turns out it was the alternator- replaced for $350- not in the vacation budget but what can you do?!)

We really did nothing on vacation but swim and eat and watch Seinfeld reruns- but that was OK-  we all just needed to hang out together- so mission accomplished. There were almost no skirmishes (the last evening being the exception when choosing a movie became the issue) I didn’t run at all because I felt bad taking off and leaving everyone, but that’s OK too. We swam close to 4 hours a day- the pools there are gorgeous and warm and the little ones especially had a blast. Another big event was (and always is) trying to get all the kids in one photo smiling or at least looking at the camera- we could not quite pull this one off.DSC_0237

So when does school start?!

 

Kidding!

I’m actually looking forward to these slow start mornings (Look! It’s 7:16 am and I’m not running around like a mad-woman!) I’m planning on lots of beach time- hanging out in the backyard and taking everything at just a slightly slower pace (I know, I know… good luck with that one!)

Today is also my first official day of training for my next half which looks like will either be  Diva on The Run or The Fall Classic. My neighbour and several other friends ran The Scotia Bank Half  yesterday and I have to say I was a little envious, a good sign that I’m ready to get out there and train. The last few weeks have been very low key running wise- really it’s all been low key since the marathon- I had wanted to jump back in but should have known better that the end of the school year and all it’s craziness would take over. As well, my knee is still not cooperating fully. I went for a 5K yesterday and it was giving me trouble- I am far from panicking but it’s a concern all the same.

I’m still searching for the perfect programme- if anyone has any suggestions I’m open! Something challenging yet easy on my middle-aged mother of 6 body being preferred.

More about B.J. McHugh

I really love this woman because she possess some key traits that I strive for (NOT easy!) and completely admire in other people; she’s upbeat and positive, humble, she doesn’t complain and not only does she believe in always having a goal  but she reaches them!! True beauty I say. I only hope I can have such optimism, strength and get up and go at 81.

 

Check out this article at iRun magazine (you can get a free subscription if you ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon btw.)