Thursday, April 29, 2010

"I'm not confused. I'm just well mixed." ~Robert Frost

I apologise in advance: this blog post is going to read like a mishmash of information because, well, it is a mishmash of information. I have snippets of things I keep meaning to work into posts and I never do, so this is all those odds and ends worked into one disjointed post. Hey, at least I know it's not good writing.

My final thoughts on the 10K: I am happy with the effort I put forth given my inability to figure out calendars and two chest congestions in the weeks leading up to it. If you had told me a month ago I was going to miss my goal by 8 minutes, I would have been upset, but having run it and gotten that time, I am happy with the time I got with the effort I put out. I should have known that the blister was going to get worse. I used to do ballet and did three years en pointe before a back injury forced me to stop. As a result, my toes smoosh under each other (and my toes nails... well, let's just say I'll never date anyone with a foot fetish) and I routinely get blisters on the inside of my baby toes underneath the fourth toe so I step on it with each step. Lesson learned: blister or not before the start of a long run, tape up my baby toes to ensure that doesn't happen again.

After working towards the 10K, I decided to take a week off running (I deserve it, damn it!) and as a result I've learned a very important fact: when I don't exercise, I don't sleep well. The downside is that now I'm suffering from a complete lack of energy which is making getting things done a bit of a chore. Memories of last year, of an unhealthier life style. I don't want to be that person again. I won't be that person again. It was nice for a little time off but this weekend, I'm back on the workout-wagon.

I need to start doing weight-training. I was doing it for a while, but I let it slide as school and work requirements grew and stopped it completely by mid February. The gym at Camosun is no longer feasible as far as getting there and back with their summer hours, so I think I will reactivate my membership at the Y for the summer (at least). The only downside is that I missed their free (to members) Women and Weights series which I could definitely benefit from. I did workout with a personal trainer upon a time (in a land far, far away... ) and learned enough at my boot camp sessions that I can figure something out, but it's just annoying to miss what I think would have been a great opportunity to learn. C'est la vie. I could possibly wait for their session in the summer (if they're going to have one) but that's so far away and I need to do this now. Doing almost all cardio and very little toning is really starting to show when I look at parts of my body. Who ever knew that I'd actually want some extra fat to stop the flab from flapping so much? Not me. To the toning weights!

The upside to sitting on my butt all week is that a) I got my taxes done (yay me! Give me my money, CRA!!) and b) it's given me a chance to think about activities I want to cross of my list this summer. I have the loan of Lisa's hybrid bike (It's good on ass! Well, I think I'm funny.) for the summer as she's not going to be able to ride for at least another six months, so I'm hoping to do a couple of day trips. I want to finally get Open Water Diver certified this summer so I'm starting to get the cash together for that. I am debating between a few day and multi-day kayaking trips offered by local outlets. Somewhere in all of that, I'm hoping to throw in a camping trip or two as well (and if that camping trip takes me up Tofino way, add surfing to the list). To top it off, the Juan de Fuca (which looks like it may have to be pushed back to September, but it will still happen this year). It's a big list, but I'd rather too many choices than too few. Adding to this list was discovery of this book from the BackRoad Mapbook series. How did I never know about this book before? Every page is a new idea for outdoor recreation this summer. It's awesome... now I just need to get a copy for myself. Once the summer's over, then I'll flip to the winter recreation section. That's right, it also lists winter recreation. Perhaps this will be the winter I finally rent some snowshoes... or at least contemplate it. This company does maps like this for most regions of Canada, so if you are into outdoor activities and are looking for a few new ideas of things to do or places to see, you should check this company out.

Finally, for those of you in Victoria who would like to support a good cause, I am taking part in AbunDANCE Dance-a-thon on Sunday, May 2nd (yes, this Sunday. This was one of those items which was supposed to be worked in two weeks ago). It's 10 hours (9 of dance and 1 hour lunch break with traditional Guinean food) with hour long lessons in Salsa, Polynesian, West African, Bollywood, Hip-Hop, and more, ending with a traditional Guinean doundoundba (circle dance). The money raised is being split between Matoto and EasterSeals 24 Hour Relay. If you're interested in pledging me, drop me a line and I'll add your name and pledge amount to the list and then cover you until I see you again.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I'm off to shower, but...

...I have officially run my first 10K. It wasn't the greatest run and I missed my target time by 8 minutes, but I did it. I ran (most of) the 10K. And you know what? I loved it. Every minute of it. I abandoned my 5:1 goal pretty early on because when you still have the energy to run and there's throngs of people, trying to stop for your 1 minute walk is difficult. Instead, I set distance goals and then I'd push myself a little farther. I'd pick a spot far off (but not too far) and then once I reached it, I'd pick another spot, and another, and another, until I was out of breath and I really did need to stop. I managed to convince myself to run entire kilometres that way. Then a nagging little thing happened: a blister which I had noticed on Friday decided to balloon into a huge pulsating pain in my left foot and it left me speed walking most of the last 3.5K It was frustrating because when I would start to run, it would ache and ache, and without anyone to push me past that pain, I just let it dictate "no running". As a result, I missed my goal of 1h20mins by 8 minutes. A thousand shoulda, coulda, woulda's race through your brain when you realise that you missed it by that much: if I had just said 'screw it' that last K and run anyways, if I had just bothered to do something about it when I found the small blister on Friday, if, if, if...

Then I remembered something: I just ran a 10K. Four months ago, I would have scoffed at the idea. Four months ago, I was content just to walk it. Four months ago, I thought running was the past time of already fit people. Four months ago, I decided to do something a little crazy. Four months ago, I would have let missing my time goal deter me. Four months ago, but not now.

What can I do in another four?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

This time tomorrow...

Tomorrow I will run my first 10K... and by run I mean 'attempt to run as much as possible'. I had been hoping that I would be up to sustained 10 minute intervals by the time the 10K rolled around (with a 2 minute walking period) but I know that I won't be able to keep that up for the whole race so instead, I'm dropping down to 5:1. I know that I can sustain that for roughly 5K; we'll see how well it works tomorrow morning with double the distance. I'm optimistic if only because I have no other choice at this point. Yay me! I can do it!! Sadly, I'm not really buying my own (false) positivity but my main goal is to beat last year's time when I walked the whole thing and I have no doubt that I can do that (unless, you know, I go ass-over-tit and sprain something). Regardless of the outcome, I will be saying I ran my first 10K!

In preparation for tomorrow's run, I spent today visiting my friend Lisa. I know I don't normally name my friends but then I normally can't say "that's my friend" about someone on the cover of and the author of a book about triathlon training for women. Lisa has consistently been one of my biggest cheerleaders in this whole crazy plan. From the "I'm going to hike the Chilkoot" to "I'm going to run a half-marathon", she been a positive voice in my ear repeating "you can do this". Lisa--who has won Ironman triathlons, competed in (but sadly didn't complete) the Leadville Trail 100, and competed with the Canadian Rowing Team--is currently laid up after some back issues so I went to visit, to help alleviate some of her cabin fever. It was wonderful to see her and to talk about the training I've been doing. I joked about how I enjoy running more than I ever thought I would and she asked me what it was that I enjoyed about it? I had never really thought about that before and it felt good to ponder and postulate ideas. It is definitely something I'm going to give more thought to over the coming weeks as I work out a training schedule for October and try to find cross-training activities I will enjoy just as much.

I stayed at my mom's house last night, slept on the futon in my old bedroom. It was a fairly sleepless night (different bed so I kept waking up, never got any decent sleep) so I'm off to bed extra early tonight so that I'm well rested and ready for tomorrow. All that means that I will need to post another blog as I've still got things from a week ago that I want to talk about!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can Your Emotions Make You Sick?

I didn't want to go to dance class today but I made myself. I wanted to sit on my couch and do nothing (well, as nothing as surfing the web can be); I wanted to save my energy for my run. No, I thought to myself, I'm just being lazy. I hauled my butt off the couch, got dressed and then headed off to dance with my cell phone in my hand. I had missed a call from a co-worker so I texted her. It needed to be a phone call, it had to do with a complaint that was filed against her for a privacy breach (We work with people's income and medical information, this is not an accusation to be taken lightly in our office and can result in dismissal), and she just really needed to talk to someone so we'd talk after my class. I already wasn't feeling well and now I felt down right sick.

I have to back track a bit here: back in September, a grievance was filed when I got a new position by two people who I have a history with. This isn't the forum to get into the why's and all that, but I do know that this grievance was thrown out at the start of this week. Today, one of those people wrote a letter to my supervisor to accuse two of my friends of a breach of privacy which happened a week ago. Let me repeat that: a breach of privacy which happened a week ago. She wrote the email today. The grievance was dismissed on Monday. I can't help but feel that this is in retaliation for the unsuccessful grievance and therefore, through a long and twisted history of Catholic guilt, I am some how responsible for this happening.

I threw myself into the class like I never had before, both figuratively and literally. I had so much anger and I tossed my body about like some sort of rag doll. I hit a point where I knew I should pull back on the moves and the energy, but I couldn't. There was so much frustration and aggression in me and if I didn't leave it on the dance floor, I would carry it with me into work tomorrow. Towards the end of class, I felt myself growing faint but I wasn't done so I pushed a little bit further. I finished my class, I left without saying a word to anyone, I walked a few blocks away from the main road, and then I threw up in a flower garden.

I didn't feel great before the class but I didn't feel sick. Lethargic, that would be the word to discribe how I felt. Instead of taking it easy, which was my intention when I got off the couch, I pushed and pushed myself until I was physically ill. I've never done that before (I'm usually very good at listening to my body), and I found it very scary so I cancelled my run and spent the evening thinking... a lot. I like my job and I'm really good at it, but is the stress caused by these specific coworkers really worth it? It is said that stress both contributes to weight gain and makes weight loss more difficult. If I am to be successful with my goals, I am obviously going to need to address this issue.

I had positive things I wanted to talk about in my post today, but they will have to wait for tomorrow... assuming the moving scarecrow doesn't get me in my sleep.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just because you're educated doesn't mean you're not stupid

The Gregorian calendar--the calendar system used by the Western World--was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. The Gregorian calendar was created to ensure that all Catholic churches were celebrating Easter (among a few other movable observences) on the same day. It's predecessor, the Julian calendar, had been in use since 45BCE when Julius Caesar (of the 'Et tu, Brute?' fame) reformed the old Roman Calendar to include a leap year. Prior to this change, the Romans would add a month to the calendar pretty much when they (and by 'they' I mean 'the senate') felt like it to realign themselves with the sun. Not only did this allow for years to be extended for political and not seasonal reasons, but a few forgetful Senate sessions and Satunalia was being held in summer (for those who are not as geeky as me, Christmas was moved to December to replace the Satunalia fesitval and entice the pagans away from the old Roman gods). Besides, a degree in advanced mathematics is pretty much needed to understand the old Roman Calendar. The Roman calendar was based on old Greek lunar calendars, those on Egyptian and Persian calendars... There's even a theory that Stonehenge was a giant calendar and carbon dating puts it at 2500ish BCE. It is safe to say then that calendars have played a part in the creation of civilization and that reading one is something any educated person is capable of doing.

Well, I'm not.

Today is April 18th, exactly one week before I'm supposed to run the 10K and exactly two weeks before I thought I was supposed to run the 10K. For some unknown reason, I added a week to the calendar and was completely unawares of exactly when my impending doom is. Instead of pushing through the head cold this past week, I was a complete wimp and am now futher behind where I wanted to be a week before the run. Egads! Crap on a cracker! Please, no! I'm doing what, when?!? It was never my intention to run the whole 10K (just most of it) but after a week of struggling to breath and a Saturday night spent eating pizza (with a salad) and watching Doctor Who (amazing, by the way, Matt Smith is incredible!! I still miss David Tennant, and always will, but I think Matt, critized by many before the first episode for being too young, will succeed in following DT where many other [older] actors would have failed. Edit: I just deleted 13 additional sentences about Doctor Who... I think I need to start another blog called Redorkulous so I can geek out over there and not here), I'm pretty much where I was two weeks ago. I also seem to be having problems with my new shoes and I don't have the time to return them and try a new pair. Again: Egads! Crap on a cracker! Please, no!

What was already a fairly emotionally stressful weekend (a friend's brother died in a car crash, my cousin in Ireland had a beautiful baby girl, I've been up and down all weekend) is now ending with a resigned *sigh* and the knowledge that although I will finish the 10K, I will not achieve my interval time goal. It takes a bit of the wind out of your sails when that happens.

All because I apparently don't know how to read a calendar.

Happy February, everyone!

Monday, April 12, 2010

When Geeks are Sick

At first I thought it was merely a sign of age as I am in my thrities now. My hangover, which seemed worse than I would have expected, lingered a much longer portion of my Sunday than I had anticipated. By this morning, I sounded like Darth Vadar's twin sister and I was moving like Jabba-the-Hut. I'm sick. It sucks. I had a few sniffles last week, the kind that don't get worse but don't get better, and I'm sure that Saturday night's antics plus a two nights of rough sleep pushed them into 'full stuff' mode. I'm in the proverbial sickness fog; everything aches and everything takes twice as long. But if this was exasperated by Saturday night so be it, it was worth it.

I was expecting a low-key affair and that was pretty much what I got. For me, it was perfect. In my invites I had jokingly said that if I got drunk enough, I would recite some Robert Service, but after a few people promised to hold me to that, I realised I was pretty much going to have to do it regardless of the alcohol consumed. As a result, I came up with a further idea of getting everyone to sign my Robert Service poetry book. It will be my frivolous item that comes with me on all my trips, so between now and the Chilkoot, I'm going to make friends, family, acquaintances, anyone who wants to sign it. After Saturday, it's looking pretty good.

I have previously talked about the awesomeness of my friends but I was really touched on Saturday because every gift they gave me had thought behind it relating to this blog. From my favourite spa treatment to the mini-journals and pen for the hikes to the MEC gift certificate and emergency supplies, I was touched by how awesome my friends are. You guys, you all rock. The person(s) that bought the shot that tasted like straight tabasco sauce however, you rock just a little bit less. There, I said it :)

Running this past week I've hit 10 minutes of solid running. On the one hand, I feel like I have so far to go. I'm only running 10 minutes at a time, shouldn't I be going longer by now? Then I remember that only two weeks ago, I was running three minute intervals. I'm at 10 and I didn't struggle with it. When I started this, I struggled so much with the 2 minutes. Part of that was my issues with my crap shoes, but another (larger) part of that was my horrible, horrible cardio. I still have a ways to go for my goal of doing the half-marathon in October, but the task seems much less daunting than it did just a short while ago. Bring it!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"No man can be a failure if he thinks he's a success" ~Robert Service

Tonight I will finally celebrating my triumphant arrival at 30 years of living with my friends as last weekend was family time. I chose the Bard and Banker as it's named in honour of Robert Service (the pub's building was once a bank which Robert Service worked in before moving to the Yukon). As I have mentioned in the past, he is my favourite poet and he immortalized the Yukon in his works. For me, he is synonymous with my love of the Klondike. I plan to hike the Chilkoot in my thirties, why not start my thirties by drinking in the building he worked in? I present to you, instead of a proper blog post, a poem by Robert Service. 

The Quitter
When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow . . .
It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.

"You're sick of the game!" Well, now that’s a shame.
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know — but don't squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit, it’s so easy to quit.
It’s the keeping-your chin-up that’s hard.

It’s easy to cry that you're beaten — and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight —
Why that’s the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and battered and scarred,
Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm cheap and I hate moobies, but I've got new shoes!

It is Tuesday, April 6th as I write this, but I honestly don’t know when it will actually get posted. I’ve being having problems with the internet connection all day. It taunts me with five minutes of connectivity and then it crashes. Part of the problem is that I ‘permanently borrow’ an internet connection from someone in my building. Well, I call it ‘permanently borrowing’ but I believe the internet providers would call it ‘stealing’. Potato, pota... oh, that doesn’t really work when you type it out. For the most part, this hasn’t really been an issue: I use very little bandwidth when I’m online and I don’t download anything which would be noticed by someone else. But then there’s a day like this when there’s obviously a problem and the actual registered user of the modem is most likely out. I can’t very well call up Shaw and tell them I think there’s a problem in one of the apartments. That’s a phone call that can only end badly.

It’s not that I’m against paying for the internet, it’s more of the fact that I’m cheap. Why pay when I can get it for free? I blame it on my Scottish half. Here’s how ingrained it is into the Scottish psyche to be cheap: I was adopted at birth and raised in an Irish family; I never knew anything about my birth parents until a little over a year ago when I finally decided to request my live birth certificate (which includes the information of your biological parents); I was 28 years old when I found out that my biological father was Scottish (my biological mother was Irish) and yet I’ve been using the term ‘permanently borrow’ since I was a teenager. I didn’t even know I was ½ Scottish and I was still cheap!

It was a busy weekend for me. On top of parent's returning from overseas, and a night out with my stepmom and baby brother, and family functions for Easter, I turned thirty this past weekend. Thirty!! Despite being one of those birthday's that women everywhere are supposed to dread, I'm really happy to be thirty. I can't quite explain it but there's some sense of accomplishment at having reached this age. I've done it; I've arrived. Screw you, twenty-somethings with your over-done face make-up, perfectly styled hair, and skirts with less material than my bra, I'm thirty, and proud, and I'm going to wear my sweatpants to the grocery store, dammit! The only downside to getting older (so far) is the realisation that I can't wear high heels when my calf is sore and then go for a run the next morning. It was very, very painful. As a friend commented "Welcome to your thirties; start buying ointment."

For my birthday, I treated myself to some new running shoes: the Asics Gel-Fortitude 3 (right). It's pretty much love... until I get another new pair in a few months. I went to FrontRunners and went through the whole rigamarol of getting fitted. It has been at least three years since I last did and after the fiasco of my last purchase, I figured a fresh start with shoes was in order. The guy helping me was very thorough and knowledgable, and I was feeling pretty happy that I had a smart and very attractive sales rep until I realised two things: 1) he's married, 2) he has fairly sizable moobies for someone who's so fit. I am well aware that the second point is really shallow but moobies freak me out, like, moving-scarecrow freak me out. Still, I pushed past my own personal issues, avoided both eye contact and chest region for the remainder of my time there, and after trying five different pairs, I came back to the Asics. I'm scared to run in them because they're so shiny and clean. I don't want to ruin that.

My next purchase will be hiking boots so I can make sure they're properly broken in before we head off. I checked out a few stores while I was in town today (and by 'a few stores', I mean MEC) to get an idea of prices and what to look for. I'm a bit intimidated by the hiking boots mainly because I really have no idea what makes a good hiking boot. It because clear today while talking to the very nice and informative lady, that I will need to do some research online so I am better prepared to sound like I know what I'm doing next time I go in. For example, there's a difference between day hiking boots and multi-day hiking boots... I had no idea! It has to do with the construction of them to take your body weight or your body weight + a 50lbs backpack. But if you're doing a relatively flat multi-day hike (say, the Juan de Fuca or the West Coast Trail), you could possibly get away with a day hiking boot (which are usually cheaper).

I'm starting to think I should just let the moving scarecrow get me.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Juan de hike with me?

Having found a passion for running I never thought I would, I find that most of my posts seem to center on that. It's great and I'm happy to talk about it, but it's not the reason for my blog. My reason is the Chilkoot and leading up to that, the Juan de Fuca and the West Coast. This year, 2010, I'm supposed to do the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Out of the three that I'm doing, it is the newest, most accessible and easiest of the trails which is pretty much why I put it first on the list. (Don't mistake 'easiest' for 'easy'.)

Created in 1994, Juan de Fuca Marine Park Trail connects a series of beaches along Vancouver Island's South-West coastline. The majority of the beaches are accessible for day use so for my first real hike, there's the added security that if it all goes tits up, getting out won't involve a helicopter (a la the West Coast Trail). When I made the plan last June/July, it seemed like a do-able option for the one year mark. Now, it looms ahead of me and I found myself in a slight denial that it was actually going to happen this year. Surely, I meant next year? Let me double check the calendar, nope, I said this year. D'oh.

This past week, I took the first tentative steps towards planning the hike. My mom and stepdad (who you may or may not remember is joining me on the JdF and the Chilkoot) had returned home from a winter trip to Vietnam/Laos and discussions have commenced on possible dates. This is it. I'm doing this! 2010 is the year I will look back on and say "I did the Juan de Fuca Trail". Terrifying, exhilarating, nerveracking and exciting... and all we've done is talk about dates!