Rain, Rain, Go Away

As in many parts of the USA, it is also raining here in Ontario and there is no sign of it letting up. After almost 48 hours of non-stop rain, it is really starting to irritate me.

Had I run on Thursday night, I wouldn’t be quite so fed up by now. But my mother-in-law arrived for a 4 day visit and I didn’t want to run out on her. Waiting until Friday seemed like a better idea.

But now I see that I should have followed the rule: don’t put off a run if you are up to it today. Really, I was up to it, but I was in a lazy mood. Blame it on the half-marathon I ran on Sunday. Or, perhaps it was the end of the week that just got to me. In any case, I did not run when I should have.

So now the panic is setting in. The 30K in two weeks time is becoming more and more of a worry. I’m starting to rethink running just 21K of it instead.

What would you do?

Running Magazines

At our house, we use the division of labour approach: I look after the inside while hubby tends to the exterior. Now, he hasn’t quite realized it yet but picking up the mail is an outdoor job; in the winter, I rarely get the mail.

WARNING: NEVER LEAVE YOUR RUNNING MAGAZINES AROUND UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THEM FIRST.

The problem with this is he sees my running magazines before I do. Being the A-type, gotta-have-control gal that I am, I am obsessed about being the first one to read MY magazines; in fact, there have been more than a few times when I have carried one to work and back to ensure that I will read it first.

There are a few good reasons why I never leave my magazines around for him to read first:

1. The Crease – When hubby opens it up, he neatly folds a crease down the side of the page so that it doesn’t fall back while he is reading it and eating breakfast. The new look is gone.

2. Food – Eating breakfast, hubby puts a glass of orange juice on it, leaving a ring and permanently removing that brand new look. With two boys, food is sometimes left on the kitchen table and it can also find its way to the back cover.

3. Bathrooms – Need I say more. Hubby is well-trained and does know better than to sit and read, but when the cat’s away….who knows what goes on?

4. Tech. Talk – After buying a new pair of shoes, I was recently asked by hubby what I got. “Asics,” I replied. “What model number?” Suddenly, hubby is as knowledgeable about running shoes as he is about cars and motorcycles. Whatever happened to just “the pink ones”?

5. Competition – Non-running husband announced last week, after reading my iRUN CANADA, that there is a fall marathon in Hamilton, just 30 minutes from home. This was on my list of “maybe’s” until hubby said he’s thinking of running it. I guess it wasn’t enough that I had to plan my schedule around music concerts for the boys. Now, I have to contend with my husband’s new running goals too.

Now, I am being supportive of his new venture, and I have told him that he can run Hamilton if that’s what he wants to do. After all, he and the boys have been very supportive of me for the past year and there is always another marathon for me to do – if I even go that route.

And, now I’m definitely going to start hiding my running magazines!


The Snow Princess Melted

The Chilly Half-Marathon Results:
Time – 1:49:39
Chip Time – 1:48:32
Division Place (45-49) – 21/224
Gender Place – 143/1671

This was not my best race, but I couldn’t realistically expect to have run any faster. A rough fall of pneumonia and a calf injury (warning: do not support your almost 40 pound child on your leg with your heal in the air or you may create an incredible knot that won’t go away for a very long time), I had very little base mileage – okay, none as of December 1st. Carrying my 40 pound sleeping child one cold January night resulted in a back injury that kept me off running for another two weeks. That left me with 4 long – if you can call them that – runs: 2 – 8 milers, a 10 and an 11.5 miles. So, realistically, I expected to finish between 1:45 and 1:50 and, that, I did.

The morning started off fine. Even Daddy wasn’t complaining too, too much about getting up early for Mommy’s half-marathon. Careful planning the night before meant that #2 didn’t find a reason for a last minute temper tantrum about what he needed to take or what he should wear (last race, he insisted that he should wear a t-shirt in zero degree temperatures). Once we got there, parking was simple and there were no outrageous line-ups for the bathrooms – pretty amazing for a venue hosting well over 3000 runners.

I waited at the start line with #2 and noticed my heart rate was starting to climb as it does before any race. But this time was for a different reason. When I write “start line”, I don’t mean at the side; I mean in the corrals with my four year old son, surrounded by thousands of half-marathoners. Daddy and #1 were nowhere to be seen and I wasn’t about to leave my treasured spot to go looking for them. With less than 5 minutes to go, I did think about walking away and starting late – but that idea only irritated me more. With less than 3 minutes to go, I looked at #2 and joked that he might be running with me (we spent all week prepping him for running with Mommy at the end). In the last 2 minutes, I did it; I pulled #2 out of the line and started looking for Daddy, who nonchalantly walked up to us and said, “I’m right here.” Fortunately, I didn’t have time to comment; instead I rushed back to the corral in time for the 10 second countdown.

Weather conditions were atypical with temperatures close to 12.5 degrees celsius at the end. Starting temperature was about 4 degrees and the first two kilometres were into the wind which brought the temperature closer to zero, pretty much been training in. Once we turned around, though, the wind was on our backs and I quickly overheated. By 5K, I was pulling off my hat and gloves, and by 6K, my outer layer was around my waist, leaving me with just my base layer. Between 4K and 9K, I was uncomfortably hot. By the time we headed back, there were only 8K left. We ran straight into the wind, which was much better and I quickly found myself pulling my outer layer back on. But I had such a terrible first half of the race that I just couldn’t hold my own for the second half and ended up walking quite a bit. Still, when all is said and done, sub-1:50 is respectable.

The biggest disappointment, though, was losing my fleece glove. I carefully tucked both into the back of my tights at 5K and pulled them out at the finish. Somehow, I managed to run 16K with a pair of gloves hanging out of my backside but I lost one when juggling them, a bottle of water, banana, cookies, medal, #2’s new-found treasure (a rock) and holding his hand. This pair was the first running gear that my husband bought for our first Christmas together 18 years ago, making them sentimental and comfortably well-worn. My moans about losing one made Daddy laugh. His solution is simple: buy another pair. Men!

Hmmm. My husband just gave me the go-ahead to go shopping. I guess it’s not such a disappointment after all.

The Snow Princess

This is not about some new Disney princess; it’s about me.

For the past few years, I’ve wanted to run the Princess Half in Disney. However, there are several prohibitive matters:
1. Location – Disney World is in Florida, a 2 day, non-stop drive or 3 hour flight from Oakville, making it a logistically difficult race to attend.
2. Work – Our March Break begins on March 12, 2010. As a teacher, it is difficult for me to justify taking this time off work.
3. Boys – Of course, I would have to take the boys to Disney, but they would end up missing school. Now, they might not be upset about this, but Mom and teachers would.

So, Disney – at least for this year – is out of the question. Instead, I’m staying put and running the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, Ontario, named after the typically cold temperatures and the distance. Between my wish to run Disney and plans to run the Chilly, it only seemed appropriate to dub myself “The Snow Princess”.

Ironically, after putting on my crown, the snow started to melt. In the past five days, temperatures have soared from zero to 10 degrees celcius. The Princess has requested slightly cooler temperatures than the 12 degrees predicted for tomorrow as she hasn’t had a chance to really acclimatize, but her pleas are being ignored.

So, the Princess will rise to sunny skies and her support crew – Daddy and the two boys – will take her to Burlington. There, she will run 13.1 miles while her Prince and children wait. They will cheer for her, meet for her at the finish line and take her home to the comfort of a hot shower.

That’s the way some days should be: all about me.

My New Trick

I got home from Monday night’s run really excited – not because I finished my last long run before the half on Sunday (and, I really doubted until that night if I would get my 11 miles in). I was excited because I learned a new trick.

This is one of many tricks that I’ve acquired to help me run through the winter. As an asthmatic, winter running is hard – really hard. I dread stopping at traffic lights or finishing my runs because that is when cold and moisture hit my lungs; and, when it does, I begin to cough and sound more like a regular smoker than a regular runner. This has forced me to stop running for many, many cold seasons. However, this winter I have been determined to not let my asthma stop me; instead, I have learned to better control it.

On Monday, 6 miles into my long run, I found myself at yet another traffic light, trying to control the coughing fits. That’s when I wondered what would happen if I tried to mimic my breathing so that it matched the breathing when I ran. As I approached the next light, I moaned knowing that I was headed towards another moment of misery but when I stopped, I remembered my plan: one quick breath in, three breaths out.

No coughing. One in, three out. Still no hacking. It was working. The guy in the car next to me probably thought that I was having an orgasm but my breathing was controlled. The light signalled green and I headed towards the next major intersection.

By the time I finished my run, I seemed to have mastered my new technique. I was on a runner’s high, not from running but from what I was able to do when I wasn’t running.

What tricks do you have?

Olympic Dreams

The past two weeks have really made me think about our Olympic athletes – about their natural talent, their work and drive to become our nation’s best and the sacrifices they have made to get there. I can only imagine the amount of hours they have given up from family and friends and the choices they have made about education and careers.

As a mother, I am constantly making choices – not sacrifices – to chase my own dreams. Do I run tonight or do I help my son with homework? Should I wake up my sleeping child so that I can put him in the baby jogger or should I run tomorrow instead? Which race does the family want to do (how far is the drive? is there a kids’ event? what swag will we share?)?

On Tuesday, I finally did something I had been putting off for weeks; I bought new running shoes. Between the boys, the boys’ activities, work, desperately trying to maintain some sort of order in the house, and store hours, it has been next to impossible to find the time to shop for shoes. So, on Tuesday night, after a friend picked up #1 for choir practice, I sacrificed my sons’ nutrition. Instead of grocery shopping, I decided to take #2 with me to the Running Room. Within ninety minutes, I had not only calmed him down from a major temper tantrum, but I was also able to drive downtown, buy shoes, and return home before #1 got back from rehearsal.

Like the Olympians, I made a sacrifice. I was tired of my feet hurting once I hit the 7 mile mark so I did what I needed to do; I went shopping. I then prayed that their teachers were not in the habit of checking my boys’ lunch bags, as I now had no choice but to feed them packaged cereal bars, apple sauce and crackers the next day. What was I thinking?

Okay, maybe comparing myself to an Olympic athlete is a bit of a stretch. I guess I’ll have to wait until the Mommy Olympics arrive.

“Off Day”

Normally, Sunday is my long run day. But, I had to juggle things around a bit after being sick, leaving today as a non-running day. Tomorrow, I’ll run 11-12 miles after work.

And, given my frame of mind, I’m due for an “off day”. I’m heading towards an afternoon with a bit of retail therapy (read “an afternoon away from the boys”) and an evening with a ride on the windtrainer.

What are you planning for your Sunday?

Strange happenings North of 49

This winter has been atypical weather-wise; for runners, it has been great. There has been very little snow and temperatures have hardly fallen below 10 degrees sub-zero. All of the winter storms have been out of my region, leaving me secretly hoping for a snow day while still thankful for the excellent running conditions this year has brought – for winter, that is.

On Sunday, I did make it out for my long run (you may recall I spent last Saturday in bed). It was windy, yes, but temperatures were hovering between 2 and 6 degrees. I left my hat (wore a band around my ears instead) and outer shell at home, something I’ve never been able to do in February. At the end of my 10 miles, I felt good, but the next morning was a different story.

The monster at the back of my throat appeared. Now, for me, sore throats and coughs almost always lead to bronchitis so this visitor was not appreciated. I held off running, day after day after day. Nothing was improving, but nothing was deteriorating either.

My anxiety, however, was sky-rocketing with each day of non-running. The half-marathon “that doesn’t really matter” is next weekend and I need to, at least, feel prepared. So, last night, I headed out for a quickie.

Conditions were miserable. It was becoming dark so visibility was poor; there were what could almost be called white-outs so visibility was worse. The sidewalks were puddles of slushy snow – clean, but still slush. This was a bizarre contrast to what I ran in just 5 days earlier when I dreamed of being in fewer and fewer layers.

But, when I got home, I felt great – and that was completely unexpected. My breathing was fine and the monster seemed to have run away. I guess I must have exhaled him during the uphill climb. The coughing subsided, my throat didn’t hurt (although my voice is still not normal), and my anxiety about the half, now only 9 days away, dropped.

Wierd weather. Wierd body. North of 49.

Running on Empty

Today, I had planned to run an easy 6 miles and tomorrow’s run was to be 11 miles. At 10:30 this morning, though, I realized why I’ve been forcing myself to bed early for the past few nights and decided that today’s run was to be a write-off.

The vomiting started. All through the night, I was up and down with trips to the bathroom; I blamed it on a lousy dinner. In the same way, I had the chills for the past few days – but only at night; those, I attributed to the cold house. Once in bed, I was able to sleep and be ready to work in the morning.

I actually think it was the over-the-counter cold meds that I took. Normally, I don’t use anything for colds, but I’m running a half in two weeks; I don’t need to be sick right now. So, yesterday, I reluctantly purchased the tablets, took them as directed and started with trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Since noon, things have settled down. I’ve been up since 5:00, showered, tried to clean and reorganize the disaster that the boys left for me (really, how hard is it to turn on the dishwasher?) and am trying to stay up so that I can sleep through the night.

Tomorrow, I plan to run. How far? Only time will tell. There is nothing left in the intestinal tract to get in the way, though. The question is: how far will I be able to run on empty?

What Moms and Runners Have in Common

Bathrooms and laundry: they can’t be avoided in the world of running and mothering. Today, my 4 year old made me realize that.

Recently, he has been getting into a tiny bit of trouble – the 4 year old kind of trouble – at school. Today, he called a friend a “poopie-head”. On the way home, I reminded him that poop, pee, bum – they are all pottie-talk words and we only use them in the bathroom. “Ma-um,” he replied, “you forgot about diarrhea.”

Then, once he got home from school, he rushed upstairs to change into his playclothes. This was a first! He came down, quite proud of himself, in pants and a matching t-shirt.

“You look great!” I commented. “Where did you find those?”

In my laundry basket,” he answered, “but don’t worry. I put the rest of my clothes back in the basket.”

Somedays, I just have to pick my battles.