What’s in a Bib?

Last Sunday was the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, Ontario.  This race has become a staple on the winter running scene in southern Ontario and, with a few thousands participants, it has also become quite competitive.  This year, it was the half-marathon championship race for the Ontario Masters Athletics, a few Olympians (Reid Coolsaet and Krista Duchene) and other national level athletes like Lucas McAneney were on the line, as were hundreds more who were looking for a challenge and a fast time.

Race Ready: Nothing Can Stop Me.

Me?  In December, I wanted this to be a goal race, one in which to push myself to achieve a certain time.  But winter’s dark, Mama N’s ice and cold, and my nasty bruise from slipping on the ice put that plan on the backburner.  I still had the race in sight, but my goal changed to finish while feeling strong – and I was totally okay with that.  For me, the Chilly Half had become a ‘no pressure’ race.

On Friday night after work, I hustled to Burlington to pick up my race kit and bib.  When I got there, I stopped to chat with Lucas McAneney from The Running Room and told him that I needed to find my race number.  Lucas told me that they had been emailed but, somehow, I missed it.  I was directed to a girl with a terminal who told me “6, 6…..6.”

“What?”  I questioned.  “Are you kidding me?”  She passed me the terminal and I saw my name with 666 below it.  I could only shake my head and laugh as I went to pick up my bib.  The ladies handing them out stood still when they saw my number, looked at each other and were speechless until one commented “You could always wear it upside down.”

A couple of speed demons: Lucas McAneney and me.

I went back to visit Lucas and told him that I liked my number better before I knew what it was.  “Ya, I don’t have a very good one,” he said.  “I got 13.”  At least I wasn’t alone.

When I got home,  Dave told me that he could have saved me the trip to the expo and picked up my kit when he was in Burlington the next day.  “Are you kidding?
I asked.  “Getting this number myself totally made the drive in rush hour traffic worth it.”    When he saw it, Dave also suggested wearing it upside down.

At yoga that night, my friend, Monica, suggested that I ask the race director to exchange my bib for another number.  “No way,” I said.  “This is the bib that I was assigned so this is the number that I am going to wear.”

And I did.  On Sunday morning, I got dressed and pinned my bib to my singlet, ready to race.  But that is another post.

 

Fall Seven Times; Stand Up Eight

A few weeks ago, Mamma N and Old Man Winter got together and decided to curse runners with a dreadful winter: wind, snow, “something-stupid” below zero temperatures and, most recently, ice.  Now I’ve been able to handle most weather that’s been thrown at us but ice?  That is another story.

I am terrified of ice.  Two years ago, while running to the Rec Centre to meet some friends for our Wednesday night workout, my left toe hit some frozen slush on the road; I went flying, my jaw hit the ground and, as my friend, Amanda, likes to say, I broke my face – in four places.  I spent 6 weeks off work and developed a near paralyzing fear of ice.   So now, when there is any sign of it, I simply don’t run.

Post dreadmill: glad to have that run done!

Last week, Mother Nature gave us three days of ice and unpredictable footing so I had to modify my training plans.  On Monday, I went to yoga; on Tuesday, I gave in and visited the treadmill at the Rec Centre for the first time in over two years (yes, I was that desperate); on Wednesday night, I napped.   By the end of the week, the thermometer reached temperatures in the low teens and I was thrilled.  The only problem was the warmer weather  led to rapid melting; that, combined with the next day’s drop in temperatures and freezing rain, left us with even more icy roads on Saturday morning.

After our interval workout on the previous Saturday in -24C weather.

My friend, Monica, and I agreed that we should run with our club, Toronto Olympic Club, in The Six.  There, we had a choice of workouts: intervals with the Juniors or a distance run with the Seniors.  We opted for a long run along the waterfront trail, a pedestrian/cyclist pathway that the city always clears of snow and ice, and joined the guys who were heading towards the downtown core.   It wasn’t long before the men pulled ahead, Monica ran behind and I pushed to keep her in sight.

When I got to Ontario Place, about 4 miles from our start, I watched the guys run away from the main road towards  Lake Ontario.  I followed them, not really sure where they were going and not wanting to be alone.  “Hey!” I yelled in my head as there was no one around to hear me.  “It’s icy here!”  Of course, it was icy.  We were right next to the lake and that was frozen.   I slowed down, watched my footing, making sure that I stayed on concrete, and tried to keep my eye on Monica’s black ponytail in the distance.  Just as she turned out of sight, a piece of ice jumped from the sidewalk, grabbed my toe and pulled me into the ground – hard.  Somehow, I managed to roll onto my hands and knees; then, I sat down and wanted to cry.  I was angry.  My knees were sore and  I could already feel my thigh starting to throb.  Monica heard me fall and came back.   I got up and started to run, then stopped and cried, not because I was hurting but because I was so mad about my fall.   I went to Toronto so that I could escape the ice and there I was in the middle of it, desperately wanting to click my red Mizunos three times and go home.

Instead, I regained my focus, and Monica and I started to run.  Even though my leg was sore, I really had no choice as it was minus something-stupid and there was no other way to get back to our car.  I think that was actually good for me as the run forced the blood to move through my legs rather than pool in my thigh.  Wearing my winter tights which had compression, something that is always good for injuries, likely helped too.

24 hours later

By the time I got home, I felt fairly confident that I just bruised the muscle;  any type of fracture would have made running 5 miles back to the car impossible.    The bulging egg-shape surrounded by what seemed to be blood travelling to my thigh to protect it told me that my body was looking after itself.   Under the advice of many, I went to the hospital the next day, where a doctor confirmed that it was “just” a bruise.

A friend once told me “Don’t get upset about the things you can’t control; do something about the things you can.”  Falling was out of my control.  It was my bad luck and I am angry about that, especially since I did try to control the surface conditions that morning.  But this did not break me.  It might slow me down for a while but it will not stop me.  “Fall seven times; stand up eight.”

No News is Good News

During the summer, my doctor decided that I should have my breathing reassessed, simply to make sure that there were no changes.  We know that I have a few allergies, dust being the big one, and that I am asthmatic.   After an unhealthy last winter of colds, bronchitis and near-pneumonia, we both felt that something different may have started to surface.  So during the fall, I saw an allergist who declared that I had no new environmental allergies and a respirologist who put me through two sessions of asthma testing, only to conclude that I still have asthma.   I thought everything was status quo until a third breathing test was requisitioned, one which compared my breathing to my heartrate.

Fast forward to the end of November when I am being prepped for the cardio-pulmonary exam.  The technician checked the usuals – height, weight, pulse, blood pressure – then hooked me up to an ECG.  “Oh, look,” she said.  “You have a lot of inversions.”

“A lot of what?”

“Inversions.  See how the lines on the graph drop.  See those spikes.  Those are inversions.”

I really had no idea what she was talking about and I didn’t even notice when she walked out of the room.  But when she returned, one of the respirologists was with her, and she checked my wrist pulse, poked around my neck, and proceeded to interrogate me.  “Have you ever had a heart attack?  Do you have heart disease?  Does anyone in your family have heart disease?  Have you ever had a stroke?  Do you get dizzy?  Do you ever pass out?”  And the questions continued.

To each of these, I answered a firm ‘no’, eventually followed by a “What is going on?  Am I okay?”  The doctor didn’t want to test me as the inversions  are indicative of a heart attack; she didn’t want to do the test.  “Something could go wrong” and the respirologist didn’t want to take responsibility for it.  After finding a cardiologist who agreed on the exam, she relaxed a bit.

“Um,” I said.  “I think I’ll be okay.  I’m running cross-country nationals this weekend so I’m in pretty good shape.  And, if anything happens today, I’m already in a hospital so I’m in good hands.”

The following week, I met with my respirologist who said that the cardio-pulmonary exam was normal.  I just have asthma.  Then I asked her about the inversions, the upside-down spikes that sent people into a tizzy.  She was concerned about them as they indicate a problem with blood flow – possibly, a blood clot – and ordered an ultrasound of my heart.  “It could be nothing but let’s make sure.”

The internet can be a great tool but searching for information through Dr. Google can be terrifying.  I stayed away from it, but shared the results with two of my co-workers, to which one commented “You’ve had a silent heart attack.”

“A what?”

“A silent heart attack.  My dad went through this too.  He is okay but he needs to be monitored.”  Now I had new information so I went to Dr. Google who confirmed what the doctor and my co-worker told me.  Dave and I talked about it.

“In retrospect,” I told him, “this does make some sense.  I do get tired during the day and sometimes think I’m going to drop.  And you know how I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air – like something startles me?  Maybe it’s not an asthma attack.  Maybe my heart is jolting me awake.”

“Oh, you’re going to die in your sleep then.”

“Probably, ” I snorted.  “My grandmother did.”  And that was the end of that conversation.

Last week, I had my ultrasound and will go over the results with my own doctor in a few weeks.  “A few weeks?  That’s crazy!  What if something is wrong?” asked Dave.   I reminded him that if something is really wrong, we’d be called back to the hospital right away; we’ve been through that scenario before.  Anything minor can wait and, maybe, it is just an anomaly.  Only time will tell.

Just try to stop me. photo credit: Doug Smith

Since the first discussion that surrounded my heart, I have run an 8K national cross-country race, a 10.8K race with brutal hills, the Boxing Day 10 miler in freezing temperatures and I have continued to run status quo.  No one told me that I can’t run but, at the same time, I am being a bit more cautious with my timing and intensity.   I am trying to find more me-time:  rest time, quality time with my boys and time to relax.

Am I worried?  Not really, but I am aware that there could be a problem so I am always thinking about it.  But I also know that I’m healthy and fit, and that speaks volumes to me.  If this turns out to be something more than an anomaly, I’ll deal with it then.  But until I have something concrete to go by, I am going to keep chasing my dreams.

 

 

 

 

Always On My Mind

Blue skies make the coldest days (-20 with the windchill) a little more bearable.

“Embrace The Cold” has become my theme for winter.  We all knew that these cold temperatures, the minus-something-stupid numbers that we have, were projected weeks, maybe even months, ago.  For those who are enthusiastic about skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and any other winter sport, the past few weeks have been perfect.  For me, the warm weather lover, it hasn’t been so great.  But it is obvious that Old Man Winter is not leaving anytime soon so I am trying not to complain; I am learning to #embracethecold.

So, like an idiot, I decided that this is the year for my 12 year old to learn to snowboard.  Over the past few years, we have gone to Glen Eden fewer times than I can count on one hand, mostly due to our being spoiled with the  warmer winters that runners love but snowboarders hate.   The dude loves being on the slopes and he is good at it, probably from spending hours and hours on his skateboard or scooter during the non-winter months.  My mommy senses tell me that he is going to want to spend time on the slopes in his teen years, and I would much rather have him learn when he is younger than take the chance that he’ll head to the hills, try to figure things out on his own and end up injured later.   Our goal is to get him out twice a week, more during a break or long weekend.  Lucky me, I get to stand around, watch and embrace the cold while he plays outdoors with a snowboard.

On Friday, when we were coming back from Glen Eden, I asked the dude how he felt he was progressing.  “Good,” he replied. “Mom, if you want to get good at something, you have to be thinking about it all the time.  I’m doing that.  When I am not there, I am going over things in my head again and again.”

That made perfect sense to me.  As a runner, I am always thinking about the run.  I plan my day around when I am going to run and I involve my family in my weekly plans so that it is a part of our week, not just mine.  Running is in my morning, afternoon and evening, in what I eat and drink, and how I sleep.  It is in my closet and on my nighttable.  For me, running is everywhere.  Whether or not my shoes are laced up, running is always on my mind.

-19C and he keeps going back for more!

I was a bit surprised by the insight that my twelve year old had. “To get good at something, you have to be thinking about it all the time.”  He has a passion and dedication  for snowboarding that I haven’t seen in anything else that he does.  He has had to sit in the snow and struggle with his bindings again and again until he could do it on his own, and he falls down and gets right back up – only to do it again.  I know that his winter on the slopes is what my running is to me.  And I know that if he wants to be successful, he does have to go back again and again.

Embracing the Cold

This morning, I headed outdoors for my morning run under cold but sunny skies.  Tonight, even though I am heading back to Glen Eden to stand around in the snow and watch him in the minus-something-stupid, I can embrace the cold.   After all, if this is teaching my kid commitment and tenacity while keeping him active, Old Man Winter can’t be all that bad.

 

Race Report: The Eggnog Jog

Checking out the hills at the Eggnog Jog.

The Eggnog Jog may sound like a friendly race but it is on an unforgiving course.  After a quick downhill first mile, you spend the next 5-6 kilometres climbing hills until the roads flatten and you can finally cruise along a downward slope into the finish.  It’s the kind of route that leaves you thinking “never again.”

I’ve raced this  course 4 or 5 times and each time I do, I finish thinking “never again”.  Yesterday was no different.  In fact, yesterday, I realized how much the race is like delivering a baby.  Even though I always complain about how much the course hurt, the memories of that pain somehow subside, I end up registering again and the cycle repeats itself.

There are many reasons that I like the Eggnog Jog.  As much as I hate to admit it, I do like hills; I would far rather push myself up and down a hill than do speedwork running around an oval.  Also, being an early December race, unpredictable weather can also be challenging; this race tends to fall on one of the first really cold days that winter bring and, as expected, Sunday was cold.  We started to feel the chilling effects of the Alberta clipper and, in Georgetown, we also had the first snow of the season, which just happened to arrive about 20 minutes into the race, resulting in some slippery road surfaces.  Lastly, with local triathlons, duathlons, and marathons finished for 2017, this race can draw some strong competition.  Sure enough, the competition arrived.

Meet Lynn Bourque, another masters runner who is also my age.   We met years ago as competitors but have become friends, dubbing ourselves Betty and Veronica.  This fall, we both raced the Oakville 10K together, finishing 0.9 seconds apart.  At the Hamilton Road2Hope Half-marathon, we started in a downpour so we decided to work together; within the first kilometre, I watched Lynn pull ahead of me and it wasn’t long before she was out of sight.  I was excited to see her in Georgetown, but I was also nervous about potentially jostling with her for position over a few kilometres of hills.

I took the start of the race conservatively as I knew the hills were waiting near the 3K mark to test me for the next 5-6 kilometres.  During the fast downhill start, I watched many women, including Lynn, push ahead of me.  As much as I wanted to keep up, and I knew that I could for a while, I knew that the smarter thing to do was hold back so that I had more to push myself up the hills when I needed to.    By 5K, I had caught up to all of the women who had passed me at the start, and I spent the last half of the race trying to stay ahead of one.  I turned my pace up a few notches when we finally hit the flats, and it became a game of catch and release until the last two kilometres, when she pulled ahead enough to gain 27 seconds by the finish.  I was quite happy to learn later that she was 20-24, less than of half my age!

50-54 Age Group Winners!

In the end, I crossed the finish line in 50:53, which gave me an average pace of 4:43 per kilometre (remember, it is a 10.8K course), a 7th place finish on the female side and a first place 40+ finish for women.  Even though my time was about 90 seconds slower than it was two years ago, I am really happy with my result as this fall has been about running, racing and having fun.  If I can do that and still run relatively well, I’m doing something right.  This makes it easy to finish 2017 with some big hairy goals for 2018 – but I’m not ready to verbalize those just yet.

 

Tuning Into Your Surroundings

As we are moving into Fall, it is important that we constantly remind ourselves that it is getting dark earlier.  I don’t mind running in the dark but, unlike winter, fall nights can be pitch black as there isn’t any snow for the light to reflect from.  I am careful to run as early as I can after work, wear visible clothing, and not take chances.

Over the past several weeks, the Town has been resurfacing Upper Middle Road, a major road which runs across our little piece of suburbia.  Multi-bar crosswalks, the kind that reminds me of a Beatles’ album cover, have appeared at many intersections along it.  The first morning I saw them, I was blinded by their whiteness and complained about how ugly they were.  That same evening, though, when finishing a run, I realized that I would be that much more visible to cars when I cross those intersections; without a doubt, the bright white lines were going to make things safer.

“Beatle Bars” along Upper Middle, designed to make pedestrians more visible at night.

Tonight, Kelly-Lynne arrived at my house for an easy run.  It was still early (6:3o) and we planned to be finished before dark.  In true training partner style, we laughed as we greeted each other in bright pink shirts; apparently, we both knew that we needed to make ourselves visible to traffic.   Kelly-Lynne and I spent a good chunk of time running on sidewalks; we ran facing traffic when we took the road.  With less than a mile to go, we came to a red light at one of the “new” corners of Upper Middle Road.  Both of us stopped, made eye contact with drivers to make sure that they saw us, and ran across the “Beatle Bars” to the opposite side.  The light turned yellow while we were crossing and red – just as we were reaching the other side.

I had just put my left foot down on the sidewalk when a car rushed through a right turn on a red light, barely missing my right leg.  I screamed ‘Hey!’ and looked at Kelly-Lynne, who was on my left and she also jumped out of its way.  A lady who was walking two dogs gasped, yelled or somehow reacted as I bolted after the car, wanting to get its license plate; to my surprise, the driver pulled over and stopped.

“You need to watch where you are turning!” I yelled at her.

“I know.  I am sorry.”  The driver was in her 50’s or 60’s and had a man, possibly her son, in the passenger seat.

“You nearly hit my friend!”

“I know.  I don’t know how I missed you girls; you’re in bright colours.  I was distracted.  Is your friend okay?”  I looked at Kelly-Lynne, asked if she was okay, and she was fine.  I was fine.  Fortunately, neither of us got hurt but this woman made a right turn on a red light without stopping, nearly hit us, and that was not okay.  I was angry.  I looked at the man in the passenger seat again and realized that he was probably the source of distraction.  He showed no emotion – no reaction whatsoever.  Suddenly, I felt sorry for her.  I was still angry, but I got it.  And she stopped when she could have kept going.

“You need to slow down,” I said.  I wasn’t yelling anymore; at least, I don’t think I was.  I felt calmer, still angry but calmer.

“I know,” she repeated.  “I’m sorry.  I was distracted.”

“You need to slow down.  Nothing is worth rushing through a light for.  Nothing.  Just be careful.”

“I know.”

“Be careful,”  I repeated and I turned from her so that she could drive away.  When I got back to Kelly-Lynne, I repeated our conversation.  Kelly-Lynne told me that the driver in the car behind told her, “You girls were absolutely right.”

And we were.  We did everything right.  We wore the right colours and we crossed at the light.  We didn’t take chances.  But more important than anything else is we were paying attention to what was going on around us and that let us react.  Truthfully, I have never felt that I have been in that much danger before; I can still feel the car brushing against my right side as I write this.

Tonight, Kelly-Lynne went home to her husband and I tucked my boys in bed.  A split second could have left this with a different ending.

 

When Being Tough Can Be Cool

Night riding: be visible.

A few weeks ago, my son ended up hanging out at a friend’s house longer than planned, which was fine until he had to ride his bike home.  “Can you pick me up?”

“No, but I’ll bring lights for your bike.”  When I got there, he argued that it would be much easier to put his bike in the car, but I wanted him to ride his bike home.  He flat out refused the head and tail lights so I went to Plan B:  drive home behind him so that traffic would see my headlights on him.

The dude knows how I feel about bicycle safety.  I complain every time we drive by someone who rides without a helmet, through stop signs, doesn’t have a light…  Since that night when he was mortally embarrassed by Mom’s driving home behind him, he has been careful to get home before dark.

Until today.  He and a group of friends were out, lost track of time and were near busy-ish streets.  One mom and I realized that they would be riding home in the dark and started texting.

Mom: I might just head over and pick them up.

Me: There are too many bikes (5).  Some of them still need to ride.

Mom: Yup.

Me: I have headlights.  I’ll meet you down there.

I had four lights.  One came from the Energizer Night Race a few years ago, another from the Trek or Treat Race, and two others were won as prizes.  Fortunately, one of the boys had a headlight on his bike so we actually would end up with each kid being visible, as long as there wasn’t a battle about lights not being cool.

I was slow getting out of the house (after all, I did have to make sure that the batteries were working) and, when I got there, my son must have known what was coming because he ran to me and asked me to wait in the car.

“Um, no, I have lights so you boys can ride home.”

The youngest in the group ran up to me.  “Can I, please, have a light so that I can ride home with them?”  My guy gave in and I looked at the older boys.  “Here’s a headlight for you,” I said, starting with one whom I recognized as a former student of my own school.

“No, it’s okay.”

“All the cool kids have them,” I sang.

Supernova Lights – by Road ID.

“Okay,” he laughed as he took one.  The fourth boy followed.  Then, I clipped the Road ID  Supernova lights onto the backs of the two youngest.

“Wow!  You’re the cool mom!” I was told.

Energizer headlights and Supernova (Road ID)

Success! Within minutes, I went from being told to wait in my car to being respected as the cool mom.  They took off, I followed, and when I saw how visible the posse was, I drove ahead to meet them at the house.

One of the boys, clearly visible on a dark street.

And I might have spied on them, just to make sure that they were still wearing them, and everyone was.  No one complained when they handed them back.  Instead, they thanked me and reminded me that I was cool.

 

The Cynthia Arm

If you have been running with the same person for a while, or if you have watched the same person run often enough, you begin to notice their stride and gait until you can eventually recognize it from far away.  Years and years ago, my husband commented on “that thing I do with my foot.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You swing it out, or you kick it out.  I don’t know.  It’s just weird.  But I can see you from a mile away.”

Of course, I still carefully look at every photo of me running.  Am I doing “that thing with my foot?”  Yes.  And, even though I have known about it for years, I haven’t been able to change it.  I have always attributed it to my one leg being longer than the other; my body has had to accommodate for that when I am running.   You can see it here when I raced the B&O 5K Championships last September.

A few weeks ago, when at a morning practice with TOC, Coach Greg was able to watch my gait more carefully.  “You’re swinging your hips,” he told me at the end of the workout.

“What?!”  I was surprised, but it made sense and tied in with the foot kicking/swinging action that has been going on for years.  Now that my chiropodist has put in a bit of a lift inside my shoe, I am noticing that my hips are feeling straighter and, hopefully, “that thing [I] do with my foot” is disappearing.

These foot kicking/hip swinging idiosyncrasies of mine, though, seem to have created another unique feature: the Cynthia Arm A few days after Coach Greg pointed out that I swing my hips when I run, Monica told me that my left elbow sticks out.  Again, this was met with a “What?!”

“It sticks out – probably because you’re swinging your hips.”  And I swing my hips because one leg is longer than another and….Somehow I felt like singing: the leg bone is connected to the hip bone, and the hip bone is connected to the….

“Don’t worry about it,” Monica said.  “It’s your thing.  It’s like the Andre-arm.  We’ll call it the Cynthia Arm.”

Well, if it works for Andre de Grasse, maybe I should just leave it alone.  Perhaps my elbow will get me into the same club as the cool kids; maybe that’s my secret to becoming a champion, to going to the Olympics.   I wonder if I need to put an insurance policy on my elbow; after all, it has become my trademark.

Or maybe I should just work at tucking in my elbows more,  straightening my hips, pointing my toes forward, and keep on singing “Dem Bones.”

The Tale of Two Feet

Getting to the bottom of my foot issues.

For the past year, I have really noticed the effects of the aging process, the biggest change being in my feet.  Towards the end of training for Boston, I could barely get through a long run without my feet screaming at me.  I knew that I needed to pay some attention to the balls of my feet, but I wasn’t about to change shoes or add orthotics within weeks of Boston.  But that resulted in a marathon that broke me.  My feet were killing by the 10th mile and the sun was hot; the two were a rotten combination for me and I finished in an hour longer than planned – but I finished.  In Boston, that was all I needed to do.

Bye bye, Orthotics!

Once Boston was behind me, I started to research orthotics and look for chiropodists in my area.  I had orthotics before and hated them; they were heavy and painful to run in as they never seemed to target the part of my foot that was tender: the metatarsals and the midfoot.  Adjustments were done but they made running even more painful so, eventually, they were taken out and I only wore my orthotics for work, not running.  It wasn’t long before I took them out of my shoe and completely stopped wearing them.

Now, though, I was ready to go back.  It had become painfully obvious that I needed some kind of support or padding under the forefoot.  I met with a few chiropodists and decided to work with one who specialized in runners’ feet.   Over the past few weeks, we have started to find a solution to my aching feet.

The black lifts my heels to help straighten my hips.

The first problem seems to have been an easy correction: my left leg is longer than my right so that my left hip sits significantly higher.  Doc placed a heel lift in the bottom of my shoe, between the sole and the insole, to raise my right side.  Now my hips are straight, and it makes a noticeable difference in my running as I don’t feel that I am swinging my hips as much.

The sore forefoot is more of a challenge.  As it turns out, I have developed mild arthritis in my feet so that is part of the problem.  Since there is no cure, I need to find a way to work with what I have so that I can still run.  My feet are also concave, not convex like most, as the three middle metatarsals have dropped.  The good news is my bones are strong.  Other good news is Doc doesn’t feel that I need orthotics because of the way I land when I run – on my forefoot/midfoot.

Week One’s trial was a complete bust.  We added some poron to bottom of my insole to try to raise my metatarsals and create some cushioning.  My first run (4 miles) went well but my second (8 miles with some speedwork) was a disaster; that night I had such a burning sensation through my feet that I was sidelined and icing them in a bucket of ice water for the next two days.  When I started running again, I swapped the insoles for an older pair.

Week Two was better.  Doc removed and built more support under the footpad.  Every run, from an easy 4 mile run to 9 miles with intervals  went as planned, but I couldn’t finish my long run on Sunday; at 6 miles, I was fighting tears and ready to hang up my shoes.  I felt broken.

Later that night, I found myself playing teacher.  At school, I have to look at the strengths in kids and build on them.  Now it was time to do that with me.  Even though I have been having some issues, I still ran 28 and 35 mile weeks during these trial periods and my pacing is good.  My speedwork is getting better and my leg span seems to be increasing.  But on a long run, my feet hurt.

I’m now at the start of Week Three and am only one run in.  Today, things were fine.  Despite a bit of doubt that kicked in halfway through, I finished my run painfree again.  Optimism.

One day at a time, one foot in front of another, I am not giving up and will continue chasing my dreams.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

 

 

 

Keeping Ticks Away

Tick Repellants – Chemical and Natural

While ticks have been common in southern climates, they are still fairly new to those of us in Ontario.  I’ve always been a bit worried about them but, until this year, ticks simply haven’t been a huge problem.  At the beginning of March, that changed.

One night I was playing with Zeda and noticed something on her head.  It was like a giant disgusting pimple that wiggled back and forth when I touched it; I just wanted to squeeze it but I thought I would end up with blood everywhere.  Then I imagined some tiny creature with appendages everywhere slowly crawling out and I screamed for my husband.

“Dave, there is something gross on Zeda’s head!  I don’t know what it is but she needs to see a vet tomorrow!”

Dave didn’t even look.  He simply trusted my panicked tone and took her in the next morning.  To our surprise, Zeda won the first tick of the year award, a fully engorged tick – at the beginning of March, in Ontario.  This was unheard of.  Now it was an unseasonably warm winter but even our vet was surprised.  He removed the tick, bagged it to send it away for testing, and gave us Zeda’s tick meds.  I knew that we would have to do something more to be proactive about preventing ticks this summer.

My boys are old enough that they can handle manufactured sprays which contain Deet, but those contain chemicals.  My oldest, who is often on the soccer field at night, complains that everyone pulls out bug spray after dark; he can see a haze over the soccer field and it is hard to breathe.  So, once in a while, something like Muskoil is okay, but I thought it wise to try a bug/tick spray that was more natural.

So I went back to Dr. Google, who gave me a recipe for a natural repellent last summer.  All I could remember was it had water, vinegar and essential oils.  After some searching, I found it and started concocting what my boys call “Mom’s Witches’ Brew.”  All I have to do is mix up the following ingredients in a bottle.

Mom’s Witches Brew:

2 cups of vinegar (Yes, this sounds like a lot but the scents from the Essential Oils cover the smell of vinegar.)

  1 cup of water

Secret Ingredients: DoTerra’s Essential Oils

Essential Oils (I use DoTerra brand): 10-15 drops of Peppermint, 10-15 drops of Eucalyptus, 7-10 drops of Lavendar.  (There are other EO’s that are recommended, such as Lemongrass and Geranium, and I am going to try those in my next batch.)

I make a new mixture every two weeks and keep it in a spray bottle.  Zeda gets sprayed every morning (this is in addition to her monthly tick meds), I spray my shoes when I head out for a run and everywhere else if I am heading into the trails.   Even my boys don’t complain, but if left to their own devices (like on a recent school overnight trip in a wooded area), they prefer Muskoil.

This is really quick and easy to make.  I may get laughed at by the men-folk at home when I brew my magic potion, but it is doing its job of keeping us safe.