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Archive for June, 2012

Wow, it has been a long time since I wrote on my blog. I’m notorious for spurts of writing followed by long gaps. Usually those gaps are an indicator of all sorts of other things going on in my life.

Running

TREAD, as you know, went incredibly well. I decided to take a break for awhile afterwards. Having ran too soon after the race, I was having some tenderness and pain in and around my hip flexor.  It’s not surprising that I had a little delayed onset muscle soreness. TREAD had some of the most rugged terrain I had run on. It all worked out and after a bit of time I felt much better. I have to also remember that I’m not exactly a Spring chicken.

Family

Kaia, my baby girl, turned two! Those two years went fast—way too fast. We had a lovely birthday dinner with her Grandma & Grandpa. Instead of cake we had a shortcrust pastry filled with custard and topped with strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi fruit. Kaia picked it out from the dessert case at the bakery. Her favorite word at the time was “strawberries” so the minute she saw the beautifully glazed berries she was all excited. We bought her a tricycle for her birthday. She was so excited about it that she ran to get her big brother Tobias all the while saying “bike, bike, bike”.  It was adorable. The trike has a basket on the back to carry things in. She tried to pick up our Shih Tzu, Thomson, and put him in it. He was not amused but he was a good dog and tolerated the attempt.

Career

I submitted a proposal for a third cookbook to my publisher. They loved the idea, or so I thought, but then it was rejected. I was really disappointed and somewhat frustrated but I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and submitted the proposal to another publisher. And… well… I’m going to leave you wondering about that one for a little bit longer but rest assured, there is good news on the horizon.

Health

I went to see my endocrinologist, Dr. B. It had been a year since my last appointment. He’s a runner so I was so excited to tell him that I am now running too. He seemed a bit negative about my running and I had  the impression that he was half expecting to put me back on medications to control blood sugar. He appeared a bit little shocked as he sat there and reviewed my blood work. It was as if he couldn’t believe the two separate tests he was reading. My hbA1C presents as a non-diabetic and has been for over a year now with 3 A1Cs coming back between 4.2 and 5.0. (Note: this does NOT mean I am cured or that I am no longer diabetic it just means that what I am doing to manage this horrible disease is actually working for the time being). Cholesterol and triglycerides are perfect.  Then he remarked that most people aren’t able to keep up with such a lifestyle. I was a bit defensive and said to him, “Well, I’m not other people. Dr. B., and I know you live a very similar active lifestyle, so why should it be different for me? We’ve discussed how I despise taking medications unless they are absolutely necessary and you know that if I can garner the same results with little effort and that means I don’t have to take oral diabetes medications or insulin then I will do what I need to do. I’ve proven that on more than one occasion. Sure it takes some time commitment but it also adds a great deal of time to my life.”

Dr. B. was quite concerned about the preliminary report from the cardiologist but I explained to him that I had undergone an exercise perfusion scan a week after that report and was given the all clear to continue running and training. Sure, I have to be careful and really keep an eye on things but the cardiac specialist said the benefits certainly outweigh any risk at this point.  Dr. B. had not been given the results of the more in-depth testing and my heart rate was a little low so that would explain his concern. Frankly, I think he was just in a bad mood overall. Finally, he shook my hand and said that he didn’t want to see my for another year and he congratulated me on reversing diabetes and keeping it up.

Fitness

I haven’t been running as much as I did prior to the races. This is partially because Dr. B.’s reaction really scared me and I ended up calling the cardiologist, Dr. J., for reassurance. Yes, I am a worry wart and yes, he is still okay with me being a runner. I see Dr. J. in August and I trust him as my cardiologist. Even though I haven’t been running as much, I have been doing other activities such as cycling, walking, hiking, and having fun with the kids.  In the past 8 days I’ve logged about 72 km between all of the activities. We had a bit of a heat wave here so it was nice to get out on the bikes in the evenings.

Motivation

Bryan said something interesting on Saturday after I had walked 3.2 K, run 5.18 K and then cycled for almost 20 K. “Laurie, if ten years ago you had said to me we’d be running and cycling in the same day, I would have told you that you were nuts. You have done amazing things and I love our active little family.” I had to choke back the tears and just keep pedaling my bike. It isn’t often that I am rendered speechless but this was one of those moments. I often forget the person I used to be and how far I’ve come. I am very close to my goal but the closer I get the further away it feels some days. His reminder about how far I’ve come was motivating and good because it affirms that if I can do what I’ve done already I’ll be able to reach my goal.

On the weekend I posted a quote on my Facebook wall. I’m not sure who said it but it reflects how I feel about many areas in my life like including integrity. It also speaks loud and clear about my weight loss and diabetes management. I could have taken an easier path with both but that wouldn’t be the right path for me. I’ll leave you with those words that, so perfectly, express the my feelings.

“Someone once asked me, ‘Why do you always insist on taking the hard road?” I replied, ‘Why do you assume I see two roads?’”

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After weeks of hill training and months of running I headed off to Mansfield, Ontario for the TREAD 6-Hour Trail Relay hosted by Chico Racing. I was part of an all female, 4-person team called the Sole Sisters. My husband, Bryan and my son, Tobias were on other 4-person teams. In all we had 12 runners. The plan was to head up Friday and camp for the weekend. Some of the others would meet us on Saturday and we’d see the rest the morning of our race. And, once again it was hot and sunny (something that never happens when my husband is anywhere in the vicinity of a tent).

Saturday was the big mountain bike relay. Bryan and some of the others went down to the start/finish line to cheer people on. He ran into his cousin Les who we hadn’t seen in years. Les is a die-hard mountain bike racing enthusiast. He’s hardcore and on a sponsored team. He asked Bryan if he was here to ride and Bryan explained that we were running the relay the next day. From what Bryan said, Les looked a little puzzled. It makes sense that he would be wondering because the last time we saw each other I was over 300 pounds. To think of that version of me running 4.2 km loops of steep hills and wicked descents must have been something. Later on I ran into Les and got a big hug with loads of words to encourage me. You see I was a little nervous, although I would never have admitted that to any of my teammates and Les alleviated much of that. Well, that was until he told me that the course was a nightmare on a bike and he couldn’t imagine running it. Thanks Les!

The day was a fun one. There was an energy at the event that was so amazing—people were friendly and the vibe was awesome. I chased Kaia quite a bit. She loved kicking a soccer ball and would say “kick, kick” as she ran up to it with her little foot at the ready. There is nothing like a busy toddler on a campsite to keep you moving and to make you forget that you are worried about something. I enjoyed delicious iced coffees made by our friend Kristin.  Ken, Kristin’s husband, was on one of the bike teams and they placed 2nd in their category!! This all put me in a really good frame of mind for the run. At least I was in good spirits until we decided to walk part of the course after dinner. Panic set in and it didn’t help that one of the people had been really negative about me being on our team from the get-go. On the way back down the first hill, I was biting back tears while I chatted with Tobias. I sucked it up, got it together and went back to camp. I kept telling myself I could do it and I started being more positive. I had committed to one lap and I could handle that. I was determined that I would not let the ladies in my team down.

Then my worst nightmare happened. I was on the way to the porta-potty when I stepped off the embankment and twisted my right ankle. I didn’t go down completely. I was devastated. I didn’t let on that it was bothering me but by 4 am I was up walking around to make sure it would be okay. The pain of it throbbing had kept me up most of the night. In the morning I let everyone know I was having issues and said that I would do my lap even if I had to walk it. I was not going to be the person who caused our team to be disqualified. However, as I walked on it and got ready for the race, the pain seemed to subside substantially. Whew!

rounding the corner

Our captain ran first and it was a fast lap. Then each lady ran and in turn handed the chip over to the next. Finally it was my time. I grabbed the chip, felt the butterflies in my stomach, gulped, and ran out of the staging area to start up the first hill. I felt strong. The ankle was good. The temperature was perfect as I headed off into the woods. The hills were insane—much more steep than the ones I trained on and the soil was very sandy. The bikes had really chewed it up the day before so there were some soft spots. I did my usual intervals and ran down all the hills but one. There was a very steep and sandy descent that had me at a crawl. During the last kilometer I saw a lady walking. I needed to walk for a minute so I chatted with her. Her sister worked there and had signed her up for the race. She wasn’t really into it. I told her that we were almost there and offered to run with her. So we ran at a good pace together until I could see the finish and then I poured on the steam for the last little bit. I swiped the chip and handed it over to Jenny. My goal was to run one lap in under 50 minutes. My time was 44:03!! I was so proud.

I headed back to camp so that I could check my blood glucose and have a snack. My reading was 3.0 mmol/L (54 mg/dL) so I had some chocolate milk. I also had half a banana-walnut muffin that I shared with Kaia. I drank a little water. Then I shared a bagel with my baby girl. I also had some energy bites. An hour passed and I checked my blood. 9.6 mmol/L (172.8 mg/dL). Crap!! I had over-corrected. It was coming up to my lap so I asked our team captain, if we could trade spots.

I felt horrible about it because it didn’t give our team captain as much recovery time but I also wanted to do a second lap for my team and for myself. It all worked out and by the time the half hour had passed and I was ready to start my lap, my blood glucose was in a better range. In hindsight, I might have been okay to run with the 9.6 mmol/L reading but I was worried that it would go higher as I ran and that scared me.  As I was waiting for Jenny, I realized I had forgotten to grab my MP3 player. Major crisis! I asked one of the ladies to run and grab it because I didn’t want to miss my lap. That would have cost us time. Anyway, she came back empty-handed. The horror! As it turns out I didn’t need it. There was a live bongo band in the woods just around the 1.5 km mark. I tried to convince them to run with me as they played. They didn’t go for it. There was music blasting at each of the eLoad stations too. My blood sugar crashed part way through the second lap and that slowed me down a bit. I should have had a Clif Shot Blok or two while I was running. Despite that, I still came in with a time under 50 minutes even though my energy was zapped. My official time was 48:51 for the second lap. Even better, the ankle didn’t hold me back at all. It was a wee bit sore during the last lap but nothing that I couldn’t handle.

The Sole Sisters, placed 4th in our category with 11 laps. While we didn’t make it to the podium we were still winners. That was not an easy course and we took it on like the badass runners we are!

my little runner

Bryan’s team placed 4th in the all-male category and Tobias’ placed 7th in the mixed team category.  Bryan and Tobias were amazing—everyone was. Bryan’s laps were all sub-30 as were Tobias’ laps. Tobias even had a lap that was 25:14. Tobias did an awesome job.

I was really proud of my little boy but not because of his lap times or his want to run a 4th lap. A lady named Ann came up to me after the race and told me how Tobias had encouraged her on the run. He came up to her when she was having a bit of a tough time and he ran with her. He asked her if she wanted to race to the finish together. I’m so pleased to know that he exhibited such great sportsmanship.

Earlier I mentioned the vibe of the event. One thing I have to say is a thank you to all the runners who encouraged me out there on the trail. People would say things like “you’re doing great!” as I ran. I’m a slow runner so they were passing me but those words gave me the courage and strength to keep my pace up. It also warmed my heart. I felt part of a community. We were all here to have fun and raise money for a great organization. Yes it was a competition but there was a camaraderie there that just simply amazed me. It was also a family-friendly atmosphere with biking and running races for the kids, a storyteller, and live music. It was much different than the other race I had ran the month before.

I still can’t believe I did two laps and I have to pinch myself every once in awhile. At the end of November I could barely run eight 1-minute intervals out of a 30 minute workout. I can now run two 4.2 km loops of difficult ascents and descents where there are roots and divots and spots where the soil wants to slide out from under your feet.  If you had asked me a month before, or even the day before, I would have told you it was impossible… that I couldn’t do it. But I did do it and it was another personal best as far as the distance run in a day goes. I had run 8.4 km that afternoon… up hills even! I was so happy and felt on top of the world!

This was a wickedly fun, challenging and amazing experience. I can’t wait until next year!!!

Now if only I can get the rest of the sand out of my shoes.

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Wow, it certainly has been a long time since I posted on my blog. May turned out to be an extremely busy month for me career wise and on the personal front as well. There were milestones met and conquered, two weekends of camping with the family, a week of vacation at home and the toughest race of my life. I will write about the highlights in two separate posts in order to split things up but brevity is not my strong point, so bear with me.

I hosted Outdoor Adventure Canada’s annual Spring Outdoor Gathering near the village of Glen Morris weekend before last. It was a holiday weekend here in Ontario. The weather was gorgeous and hot. There are usually quite a few people who attend this event, many of whom are good friends. The group goes canoeing along the Grand River but I planned that I would run instead. Saturday May 19th would be my last run before the TREAD Relay on May 27th. Not only did I have a hectic week ahead, I knew that I needed to rest and that if I did I would perform better.

the mill in the woods

Before we headed to the Gathering I consulted Google Maps and chose a route that I could take from camp, along the old rail trail, to a ruin that was once the German Woollen Mill. Google indicated that it would be 7.7 km including the return trip. That was perfect because I could walk 1.4 km, run for 5k and then walk the remainder back. When I run I do intervals of 10 minutes running to 1 minute walking so this would be perfect. I set off at 7:30 am before the rest of my fellow campers were up and while my children were still fast asleep.

It was a very cool morning considering how hot it was the afternoon before and the forecasted highs for Saturday. I walked about 800 meters and started to run because I was freezing. I ran. I ran some more. I ran and ran and ran. Finally I asked two other runners heading toward me if they knew where the old mill was. The reply was that it was just ahead at the 70 km mark. I puzzled a little as I remember passing the 66 km marker earlier. I shrugged it off and kept running. I turned around at the old mill and ran some more. Finally I looked down at the GPS and realized I had done running intervals for 7.69 km. What?!?!? That can’t be right. I was still a good 1 km from camp. By the time I got to camp the GPS indicated 9.27 km.

As I got to camp I noticed Bryan was up making coffee. My hero! I asked him if the Garmin could have been wrong. After all, it did cut out a few times along the route. He assured me that the GPS was indeed accurate. The mill was at kilometer 70 and the campsite close to kilometer 65 so that confirmed the GPS information too. I have to say that I was in a bit of shock. That was followed by elation. I had never run more than 5 k before and I had just run 7.69 km without thinking about it or really knowing that I was going so far. To top it off my pace was 8:50. Go figure!

I spent so much time looking at the wild columbine, the trilliums, some wildlife, and the beautiful scenery to notice that I was achieving a new personal best. Perhaps it was the cool temperatures or the natural surroundings. But maybe, just maybe it was something else—my mind not getting in the way for once. As you know from my humorous little posts about what goes through my mind when I run, I tend to over-think everything. I’m sure my friends are probably nodding in agreement at this point.

What this illustrates to me is that running is as much, if not more, mental than physical. I read that all the time but on this run I experienced how much the mind plays a role. My thoughts of it being hard or my legs being tired were not interfering because I was engrossed in the scenery around me and because of that, and the wee error with Google Maps, I ran more than a third further than I would have if I had been in my head more.

I was so proud and excited about my run that I had to tell everyone who would listen about it. I’m sure they thought I was a running-crazed lunatic. I even sent text messages to my running friends who weren’t there because I just could not believe I had run so far!! I knew then and there that all the hill training for the upcoming TREAD had paid off. I knew that I’d be able to be there for my team and I was excited for the upcoming relay.

Bring it on!!

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