Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 always a bridesmaid never a bride

Is almost new years eve. Looking back at 2007 I am amaze of how fast everything seemed to happen. Here is a quick outlook at 2007.

the policeman's half, before that race I had never run a race longer than 10K, by then I was running enough I just didn't know if I could run it faster than my training runs.

Calgary Stampede marathon
, by now I am feeling a bit more confident, I had decided to try and qualify for Boston, I needed a 3:50:00 to do this, I was so nervous I ended up finishing at 3:39:42, I was going to Boston!

The Death Race, if I was feeling better after my half marathon,after my marathon I was feeling really good, I realized I was in better shape than I gave myself credit when I got up early, run a Marathon, drove home, made lunch for my kids, took them out, drove them to their grandparents a couple of hours away, went out for dinner, all without a problem. then I decided that evening to try an ultramarathon, I wanted to give back to the CNIB before I walked though their doors, running a half marathon didn't seem possible, so running and ultra marathong and collect pledges seem like a great way to give back.The Canadian Death Race was close enough to Calgary that I could be back to work on the Monday after. This was the race that forever changed me, I remember arriving there and realizing I was home, the strangest of it all was all too familiar to me, even though I ended up DNF ing at 94K it stretched my perception of what was humanly possible. By then I was not only a runner but an ultra runner.

Banff Japer Relay, this race was so much fun, I was in an all female team of 13 and we kick butt, winning gold for the all female team division, my leg was about 16K. The scenery was spectacular, it was inspiring been out there in such a beautiful part of Alberta

Five peaks in Canmore, this is an other race that changed the way I view running, trail running was my new passion. After this race I was 100% sure of what I wanted to do, run trails and run ultramarathons.

Winterstart in Banff, this will be my favourite race of 2007. This race was a present from my best friend Nadia for my 40th birthday, the race fell on that weekend, she took me and my kids to Canmore where the 5 boys got to play at the water park while we raced in Banff Saturday night, the race itself was only 5 miles, to make it more exciting I climbed Ha Ling that morning then raced in the evening, if at this point had any doubt about my life and priorities, they all vanished, I was surrounded by people that loved me and it felt amazing, turning 40 was not a lot of fun, but it sure helps to be with friends and family

The Last Chance Half marathon this was my last race of the year and it felt every bit like it. I finish this race tired and with a nagging injury, it was time to cut down in intensity and mileage.

My kids

Karl vision kept deteriorating, at the last parent teacher interview his teacher recommended teaching Karl Braille because he is having trouble keeping up with his classes. His spirits are intact, he discovered wrestling and he had a great time at his meet. Of course I wish Karl had never been diagnosed with a progressive condition that is making him blind and left him visually impaired, even if there where to find a cure there are things that he will never be able to do anymore, but I am thankful that he is taking it the best possible way. We sometimes have no control of what happens but we always have control of what we do about it. Karl is a perfect example of how all you need to have a great life is the right attitude.

Hans too had an amazing year, he straggled a bit at the beginning of the year, he was a bit angry because I had pulled him out of sports, I had a hard time scheduling all the activities. Once Karl's life was under control Hans was able to have more of my attention, he played soccer in the summer then he try out for the Sea Lions Swim team and in a short time he became their little star. His bone scan was abnormal but turned out to be nothing after further testing, Hans has Osteochondroma and has to undergo testing every year. At the end of last year I was unsure of how I was going to find the strength to keep my family from falling apart when all I need was them, Hans and Karl showed me what true strength really is, not the superhero kind of superpower, but the silent, quiet strength that comes from within, all I needed to do is to sit quietly and hear it inside

Love life

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????. Well I had to leave something for 2008

2007 was a year of many highs and some lows, in racing, it seems like I was almost there, like a bridesmaid never the bride. The beauty of almost is that it is that much closer, is all attitude and perception, half empty or half full. My life was definitely only half empty, but I am looking forward to toasting to a a fuller glass next year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I run therefore I blog

This has been the easiest week to get up at 5am to run. Even when the weather said -25c I couldn't wait to lace up to go out. This week instead of my usual 11 miles I was running 16miles/day. The reason? Scott Dunlap. I am a huge fan and have read his blog for a long time. I have never post a comment, why bother I though, I often feel like the Anna Kournikova of the ultra world. I never wanted him to know who I am, I just wanted to silently admire him form afar like a teenager with a crush.and there I was telling him how much I like his blog and he answer it! His words where kind and encoraging. Well unless you are a runner you probably don't know about him, but to me it was like having Lance Armstrong replying to your fan mail and wishing you luck on your Tour of Bowness. I am amaze of how giving the ultra and trailrunning community really is. I have talked to ultrarunners and they patiently answer my questions, wishing me luck even tough our goals are vastly different. I am a finisher, don't make a mistake and they are the elite. But down the line I feel closeness because is the passion that brings me closer to them, that and the common interest in trying yo figure out the exact point where the body gives up.

Scott has no idea of what kind of influence he had on me, and I am grateful for that! Googling somebody without care on a Saturday night is not the behaviour of a grown woman. But we need heroes, we need people to admire, in a culture where we build people up just to tear them down just as fast is not something I aspire to. But I love when somebody reaches fame and stays humble.

Going extra hard this week was a sign of how much I admire him. Is not like he is ever going to goggle me or anything but somehow I feel the need to do better, and in my runs I have been inspired and even dared to dreamed of finishing first at the Frozen Ass 50K. Now the odds of that happening are pretty slim, let's put it this way, looking at last years photos, I came across a picture of a very cute guy, I soon realized to my panic that it was my competition!. But something shifted, just being out there, being part of it is enough satisfaction for me, I am proud of saying I am an ultrarunner, even though I often get the " why" look it makes me happy. Is not like I need to look very far to find heroes, just looking at Karl and Hans everyday reminds me of the true strenght of the human spirit. I watched a movie of the first and only blind climber to climb Mount Everest and I called Karl to my room at the exact moment when he makes it to the summit, of course I am crying hard, and I would be even if Karl didn't have cone dystrophy. Karl just looked at me and said " what's the big deal?" "he is just blind mom" then it hit me, Karl doesn't see many limitations, I do. I am just in awe of how gracefully my kids are handling the changes in our lives, our world turned upside down a year and a half ago and they handled it with such grace, if you know me well you will know I didn't. But watching my kids everyday has giving me the strenght I needed to move forward. And running has brought joy to my life, out there in the mountains on my own, there is no better feeling that the quietness of my footsteps on a trail. I don't know if I am happy because I run or I run because I am happy. Doesn't really matter. Is out there where I find myself, find who I truly am. A mother, an ultrarunner, a friend, a sister, a daughter and that is good enough for me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.

The last 2 weeks have been really hard. I pull a tendon on my foot and couldn't run for a couple of weeks. I did everything else to keep sane, swim, row, spin. At one point I realize that I resembled the flight attendant who is trying to quit smoking on the TV ad. My foot has healed enough to resume my running. i am back to just half my mileage, can't over do it, I now run in the morning and bike in the evening, it amounts to the same mileage I was doing but less impact.

Is getting tougher to stay focus, I notice my motivation hasn't diminish, just the focus of my training. I am lacking the fire in my belly. for one thing is cold outside and I am doing a lot of indoor running on my treadmill. which is my favourite thing this week. My True ZI could go out but I don't want to slip again and re injure my foot. Second my next race is the Frozen Ass 50K in February, I was looking forward to it and maybe placing maybe 1st in my age group and then a saw the results. Syl Corbett was first last year, well what are my chances. There are also basically only 2 ages groups categories, under 35 and over 35, that doesn't really narrow it down.

I talked to a Friend of mine about it and I guess the focus of my training should be about finishing, smart tip given that ultras are all about insane endurance, and she is right, I didn't finish the Death Race and at the start of my training that was the focus, somewhere down the lines, as I get stronger, the lines get blurry

I have been talking to a lot of runners on-line and I am amaze of the different reasons people do what they do, some have been doing it for so long that they need no reason at all, is part of their life, just like going to work, or eating, other are like me, it was a way of coping with things such a divorce, the death of a child and such. Is strange that I feel so close to all this strangers, one common bound that keeps us stronger.

Karl and Hans had an amazing weekend, they both had swim meets and at different pools, somehow somewhere around 3pm on Saturday when i am driving from one pool to the other to watch them, cloning seem like a great invention.

Well Hans' meet when as well as his previous meets, he won 3 out of 4 and on Sunday he competed against the 12 year olds, I was lucky enough to volunteer that day, my heart was bursting out of my chest with pride, he looked so tiny compared to the other boys, he manage to place second, his arms and legs went so fast because he had to go that much faster than the other kids, parents around the pool pointed and laughed because he was trying so hard, but he did it, he was very determined and has been working very hard at it. i have seen him at the practices and he is always paying attention and he often begs me to leave him after practice longer and it showed this weekend.

Karl's meet was a lot different but just as successful, he is in Junior Lifeguards. he has never been good at swimming, the only reason why he is there is because the value team work and also because is the only sport he can do at the club. Karl's story was just like the movie Rudy, if you seen it you will know what I mean, he struggled though the whole event, he did win 1st for the rope toss competition, by 5:30 he was exhausted, he had been at the pool with bad lighting and no glasses for hours, the last competition was the 100m swim with obstacles, I was nervous watching him against the other kids. When the other kids where finishing he still had 50m to go, he just kept on going, I stood up and yelled his name, I wanted him to know I was there, so did Hans, all of a sudden the whole place was calling his name and clapping in encouragement, even the guy in the mike calling the events start calling his name. Karl never seems to care much about small things, he believes in trying your best and never giving up. When he finish, he had a standing ovation, parents around me where congratulating me and I was once again filled with pride.When went home that night laughing all the way. I place their new ribbons in their room. first and seconds for Hans and a first and third for Karl, the truth is there where only 3 kids on that competition, it didn't matter to me, he had earned, had he been too intimidated to show up he would never have gotten them.

So now, once again, showing up to my races is a reason for celebrating, I know I will check the results online after my race and maybe will be a bit disappointed, but I know that thanks to Karl and Hans I will always show up, work hard, go the extra mile,and give my best no matter the outcome.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The not so secret

I just finish my last race of 2007. The last chance half marathon. 1:39:04.An improvement from my last half by almost a minute. Not bad since it was a training run, I went on it as tired as I could be, to train my body to respond even when tired. When you run ultras, running tired is a normal thing, so asking my body to perform to such a level after a hard month is what it will prepare me for next summer.

I have decided to add a few more races to 2008. I am looking forward to doing the Swiss Jura marathon, 175K over 7 days or a half a marathon a day for a week , I am so excited I have been reading my race package as a bedtime story.

My best friend Nadia came trail running with me last month, she liked it so much we are talking about running transrockies together in September. That is 3 ultra in three months for me , Swiss Jura, the Death Race and Transrockies.

I have a idea on how I plan on accomplishing this, in two words, hard work. I feel it's a possibility, only because I see myself doing the work day after day. Now, I am not a big fan of the book the secret about positive thinking, I am old school. If you work hard at it, you can accomplish about anything.I don't want to sit at home and visualize myself on the race, I do it every time I go out for a run, or a power hike, a core session, every time I do I workout, I can see myself closer to my goal.

That's why the Secret is not my favourite book, for inspiration, I flip though Trail Running magazine or watch shows like Everest- Beyond the limit.

My favourite thing this week is friends. I just had a birthday,I turned 40 to be exact, and its friends that make times like that special, for my birthday, Nadia took me and my kids to Canmore and we raced Winterstart together, as I looked around I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than that, with friends, family, a race and beer afterwards in a parking lot.

As for not believing in the Secret, I do keep an empty drawer in my bedroom just in case.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Love that is not madness is not love

What a week it has been. I was out last night and I was amaze how hard is not to obsess. I don't think that I don't like to go out because I am OC about running. I really don't like it. I enjoy an intimate dinner party, movies, theatre, music. Is just the big impersonal parties that I feel like fish out of water. What can I possible have in common with a bunch of strangers that the whole goal of the evening is to get a s drunk as possible or hooking up with somebody before you friends do?
Nothing wrong but I don't like drinking much and I am want to go home alone since my kids are gone to a friends house and I am looking forward to an interrupted night of sleep.. Am I just terrible wrong?
Except for that my life is going great. Karl is getting all the help he needs at school. St. James is doing a lot more that they are required to do by law and I could not be more grateful. Karl comes home beaming everyday showing me all the special books or showing me all the equipment he is getting to help him be independent in school. Things like large font text books, extra light in his locker, a colored volleyball with a bell inside, a CCTV computer to enlarge text to any book at school. I am very grateful because he feels empowered. I don't want to sound like Oprah here but that is what a child like Karl needs.
There was a minor bump on the road, Karl has giving up riding his bike and is bothering him. I explained best I could that even as a fully able person, we still by choice don't do everything we are physically able to do, we still choose only the things that appeal to us, so in the greater scope of things he still was doing as much as anybody else, the only difference is the choice was being made for him. There are a lot of things that he still could do and concentrating on that was not a less courageous thing, it was just practical. Karl has been so determine to show himself and everybody around him that this is not going to stop him that he is not giving himself a break. So after talking to Hans we came up with perfect alternative tandem bike, Karl loved the idea, although he question my driving skills, Hans complained that he could never beat us since it was two against one. I love my family, I love that we are able to look after each other.
Hans had an amazing week as well, he did amazing yesterday at his first swim meet and won a couple. Greg and I sat there beaming with pride, seemed very normal until other parent came to congratulate me and my husband for Hans. "He is not my husband", I replied, "he is my ex'.. I didn't want to say my ex boyfriend because it sounds like it was just a casual hook up, I must as well say, this ex convict I dated for a couple of weeks.. To my kids he is like a stepdad" you mean your ex husband?".." Hans' dad?" " no, he is my other ex"... " I guess you can call him the exstepdad" .. I some how felt like Elizabeth Taylor and I was on my third husband by now. I guess looking from the outside it might be a bit unconventional.There is a reason why people decide it is not working for the two of you. but how about the kids? what do they have to do with it? They have a completely different relationship with that person and that's what I see.Their relationship was working amazingly well. I asked my kids a few month ago how they where feeling about the whole thing and they said that their biggest fear was never been able to see Greg again. That's when I knew I was doing the right thing.Is their relationship, they decide when is enough.

I am ready for my trail run, I went to Barrier lake last Sunday and I felt butterflies in my stomach, I get such a trill to be out there in nature running on my own. Is my favourite thing to do. I am waiting for my Garmin 305 to come, a present to myself for my birthday in a couple of weeks. I am exited about trail running and I would like to track my performance better, is becoming a bit trickier now since i also started my class from university, I can't just endlessly run, I need to train smart and accommodate studying on top of kids, their schedule and work.
Last night talking to a few people I felt uncomfortable, is not my world at all. Is not where I belong, I belong here in my life, with my kids,and doing all those things that make me happy, taking care of them,looking after them. I know they are growing and ready to go out in their own, that's why I run, that is the thing I do for me, it will be there when they leave.
At this moment I enjoy being there mother and taking care if them, I wish I could put them on a tandem bike forever and take them around their life with me protecting them from all their challenges they are sure to face. But my role is to love them as much as I do then let them go and be there when they need me.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Who knew

The results for the race are in. 3rd in age group and 6th overall female. I was happy about the results although I was hopping for 2 and third overall. I saw the girl who placed second, almost 2 minutes ahead of me, the winner I never did, she was almost 12 minutes ahead of me. I couldn't stop thinking if they where in better shape or if they could dig deeper than me. They did look in amazing shape, but I am not sure if I need to train more or to utilize what I have and think like a racer. For 2 minutes maybe 12 minutes ahead I am thinking she was fitter than me for sure.

Is funny how things have changed now, 2 years ago I was usually trying not to be last, and now I am placing to 10 and still feel disappointed.

I am ready to start my training again. I don't have any races booked until Boston, where I plan on staying on my same time 3:39 because is a harder course, if I can do the same pace then I am doing OK.

Here is what my training looks like until now.

I am running 6 days a week between 5-6 miles and a long day of about 12 miles. I have a one tempo day of 6 X 7 minutes miles and hill training day where I add 4X 10 second sprints at the end adding one more each week and building to up to 10. sandwich in between are 2 or 3 core training which usually is 3 sets of single legged exercises like walking lunges,single leg dead lifts, single leg squats and of course bridges, push ups and sit ups.

My next training will be like this, is a training I have used last spring that builds the mileage to 70 miles/ week. I add mileage gradually to avoid injury, only increasing 10% of total weekly mileage every 3 weeks until I am running 70 miles/ week and then cut down the mileage to 70%. The plan I took from Running Times Magazine. I am from the school of thought that more is more, I know a lot of people that run a lot less and are performing better than me. I just feel good running a race knowing that I am prepare, and my body can handle the mileage. I am only writing my plan because I have been asked many times. I am not a coach or anything , i just simply love to run and I read a lot of articles on the subject.

this is what my training will look like in miles at the end of my cycle 3 weeks before Boston, running everyday and resting on Saturday. I do adjust my schedule to fit my kids but the mileage stays the same.

week # Mon.. Tue.. Wed.. Thur.. Fri ..Rest ..Sun
Week 1 -4am/5pm ..7..4am/6pm ..9.. 8 rest
week 2- 4am/6pm ..8.. 4am/7pm.. 10.. 8 rest.. miles
week 3 -4am/7pm.. 11.. 5am/7pm 11.. 9 rest.. miles
week 4 -6.. 7.. 8.. 6.. 7.. rest miles

I tried this training very successfully last spring but I was spent for about a month, time commitment is big and forget about having a life.

I am mentally preparing for my next year, I am exited and for the first time I am thinking winning might be a possibility, since I will be in the 40-49 age group, I am not far behind the top age grouper, only a couple of minutes. Not for the marathon but for the trail running series, being lite is an advantage when carrying yourself up a hill, I just need to work on endurance.

My favorite thing this week is Maroon 5, specially the songs " Makes me wonder" and " Wake up call" my legs get faster just listening even if I am on my 15th mile.

As for motivation, is everywhere. I have been watching Karl struggle because he is doing new things that he is not used to and watch him try hard and learn his new school ground or try and fit in his Cross Country team. I know is hard because they train outdoors and he is often running without help, he is very slow since he has to run at much slower pace just to concentrate in front of him and his breathing gets compromised because he has to look straight down in front of him with his head down because he has almost no peripheral vision.

I went to Ha Ling again on the weekend and run it in an hour, 30 minutes less that last month, I just keep thinking of Karl and how hard is for him to just do the things we take for granted. Who am I to think my life is hard when I have been giving all the oportunities to succeed. Karl has been giving and unfair advantage and he doen't complain he just deals the best with what he is giving and try to adjust his life to his new condition. I think we can all learn a lot from that.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Danger is the new black

I still don't get why we humans behave the way we do. Buckle up when we drive but will pay money to jump out of a plane.

Danger is something that we seek right next to security. Do we need both to become happier humans or is it only the brave that attempts to have their cake and eat it too? I have a strong need to belong with my usual running friends, the marathoners but I secretly dream of racing ultramarathons. I pour though my Trail Running magazines and fantasize about all the ultras. Is the dream, the hope that you are going to do something that is dangerous but you are somehow going to come out of it victorious.

I don't consider myself a risk taker, but somewhere down the line, when the days become long and the tasks at hand become tiresome the dreams of escaping the monotony is the only thought that gets me though an other meaningless yet necessary task that I yet have to fulfill, like doing laundry. I have decided to race the Death Race, not just to finished but to actually race it. I spend my days calculating my game plan to get me there. There is a lot of information about running marathons but not a lot of running ultramarathons and climbing mountains at the same time, all I am going by my experience in my last Death Race. I didn't get passed on the flat surface, and very seldom on the incline, it was on the downhill where I lost most of my time so I am keeping the training to about the same distance, between 55-80 miles per week with speedwork and core training but adding hill training.

It should not add to any more time that I am already committing between 10-18 hours a week depending on how early I am on the training because all I have to do is to replace one of my easy runs with hill training. Other change that I am making is reversing my plan, concentrating on speedwork now and adding mileage later as suggested by Dr.David Martin from the Elite Athlete performance lab.

My favourite thing this week? My Asic Nimbus, great on the trail and the road.

I definitely feel very Lara Croft in Tomb Raider when I think about doing something so daring so bold. If you come over on a Saturday night and I am doing laundry don't be surprise if I am actually enjoying myself, I got plans of my own, plans of someday breaking out of this mold and turning into a butterfly.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If you don't like the ending of the book, write an other chapter

I have been thinking about what motivates us lately. My good friend from Venezuela stopped by Sunday night. I hadn't talked to her in a while, she is in love again and it showed. She is been separated from her husband for two years now and she is madly in love again. She is really pretty but she looked ever more beautiful as she talked to me about this guy. She definitely was glowing.

Passion is something that drives us to seek pleasure while risking pain.Is funny how my friend was looking at me with horror as I excitedly talked about the Death Race and my next race the five peaks in Canmore in a couple of weeks, 13K at the Nordic Centre? no way she said. The funny thing is that I was thinking the same thing about falling in love again. I much rather run 125K than falling in love again. At least for now.

What motivates us is either seeking pleasure or avoiding pain. Sometimes it starts like one and develops and an other. Running for me was a way of avoiding pain, the pain of laying in bed hour after hour thinking and unable to fall asleep. as the pain slowly left, I experience pleasure, the pleasure of feeling strong, the pleasure of keeping up to my best friend Nadia, a way better runner than me.

My kids couldn't sleep last night. Karl woke up at 3am with a panic attack, he is starting grade 7 next week and he is very nervous, he was worry his teacher wouldn't know about his eyes and would ask him to do something he wouldn't be able to do "Then you tell her you can't and explained why and what you need to do to be able to do it" I calmly told him. Then Hans woke up and joined in the panic attacked "What if nobody likes me" he asked, I had decided to pull him out of his school too and move both of them to a school that offered elementary school and junior high together. I feel guilty for doing that to Hans but family comes first. I need him as my spy, I know Karl will never tell me if he had a bad day, but Hans always will. After a 20 minute conversation with both of them about how we can't all do everything and event if we are able we might choose not to. and to Hans I simply said that if I could find friends he certainly could too, he looked at me and smiled.

I went on a short run after dinner and they both biked with me. Karl felt great, he knows the way really well and that makes him feel really good about himself. Is hard for him to do anything that is new, he relies on memory to fill in the blanks, is like doing things while squinting hard. Karl and Hans are experiencing pain but with time it will turn to pleasure, the pleasure of overcoming their fears or the pleasure of making new friends.

My run today was of about only 10K, I am going to supplement my running with biking to keep my fitness level and let my legs and joints rest a bit. I am starting to feel a bit bored of having evenings off, TV was a great distraction but now is really annoying me. Dating? too bad there is no training I can do to ease into it.

I figure if I can feel the same passion that I feel about my kids, or running,in my new job or a new relationship ( in time) there is really nothing that will stop me from succeeding at it anymore.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happly Ever After

How many times can you fall in love? At my age I didn't think it was going to happen any more. And it happened, when I least expected. Trail Running is my new passion.

I have done it before but not successfully. I went to Ha Ling Peak formerly know as Chinaman's Peak, the climb was 1:10 minutes but running down was only 35 minutes of pure adrenaline. I learned that I need to lean forward not back when running downhill and stay low to the grown to avoid getting too much air. I put my ipod on and I was flying and loving the burning sensation in my quads. Hiking purist be damn, I was doing everything hikers are against, trying to go as fast I could possible could up or down.

Well I did stop to look at the view, at the top for a few minutes to quickly eat a banana to refuel for the way down, then I jogged to downtown Canmore to my friends Greg's place where my kids where waiting for me.
I arrived 2:51 minutes later, dusty and limping a bit since my knee was giving me trouble the last 2K. Just like when you are seeing a bad boy, every time I go for a trail run everybody expect me to say, that is it, is over, almost like I had finally realize that is only going to turn nasty sooner or later.

So far is working out, just me and the trail, a match made in heaven.
There are a lot of running clubs that go out and train in the mountains, I am a bit selfish and have trouble sharing my love, Breena wants to go next time with me, I panic I am not sure I am ready yet, I told her we could go for a long run along the reservoir instead, she wants to do 24K next Saturday.
I have 5 peaks race in a couple of weeks at the Nordic Center in Canmore and I can hardly wait, 13k,now I wish I had sign for the half marathon.

Of course I should slow down and get to know each other first, 13K then maybe a half in a few months and aim for the full marathon at Powder Face in July. I need to remember that Boston is in April and I need to focus on speedwork and tempo runs as well.

I am having trouble finding songs that motivate me this week, after running so much I have played the same songs to death, so no ipod songs list this week.

It was touch and go for running this week, I had good days but most of it was junk mileage. Now that I have found the key to trail running I should go back to quality running again tomorrow.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Love, pain and the whole damn thing

I was reading Trail Running magazine and there is an article about running addiction. The article goes deep about when a good things goes terrible wrong. I started running seriously about a year ago and there is not a time that goes by that somebody thinks that there is something wrong with me or doesn't feel sorry.

I had a good chat with my friend Joylin today, she is been a runner for a long time and she often wins age group races by a big margin. I don't know how old she is but we both compete on the 35-39 age group, if I didn't know her I will think she was early 20's, she also has 3 young children often on tow. I like talking to her, she is always in a good mood, and she is the kind of person that makes you feel good about yourself. We started talking about running with the same passion people talk about a good movie or a juicy gossip of a friend having an affair, the way only a runner can talk to a runner with out feeling self conscious of being weird

When is a good thing a bad thing?. We as society we are quick to judge people around us a s different if we don't follow general rules, as we get older you are suppose to leave behind things that are not as important such as running and concentrate on working and raising your kids . I like running, a lot, and that makes me a happy person, a happy person makes a great parent.

What it seems to make no sense to people around me is that I spend so much time on a hobby, something that I make no living out of, and even if I improve I will never make it to the elite ranks. Reading the article I recognize some of the danger signs, " being constantly tired" for example. Well that I am, but I am not sure that running is the single source of my fatigueness, I work full time and have kids that alone will make anybody tired, I find that by exercising a lot I have more energy, sometimes training does catch up to me but sometimes works does or kids do when they are sick for example I am almost always tired but the source is different every time. " Missing out on social events" Well you got me there. I am known for missing out on going out and the only time I get to go out I know how to clear a room and it gets worse as the night progresses since I hardly ever drink, is hard to go out when you know you have to get up early and take your kids out the morning after, I haven't slept in since I had kids and until my kids are old enough to drive themselves it will be the case.

I am not sure if I have an addiction or is simply just something that I do to make myself happy, I like talking to friends such as Joylin who is excited talking about mile repeats and lunges with the same passion people talk about the new restaurant in town. I think that addiction is something that makes you unhappy when you are not doing it, I am happy when I an not running, and I am also happy when I am. Running everyday and sometimes twice a day seems a bit obsessive, and I am sure that there are people that really have running addiction sometimes we are quick to label people with having a problem just like we are quick to diagnose ADHD. I think we restore to go to mental stimulus like happy thoughts of running or planing my next week of training just like other people check their facebook account or think about golfing. Is just an escape of the daily routine, we need a mental brake everyday to cope with overstimulating ourselves at work or at home. it might seem unhealthy but is a preventive medicine, not a substitute of living but to enhance it not unlike taking vitamins when you already have a healthy diet.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

No Way..Never Again.. I swear I don't care that I only had 31K to go...

Is official, I am going back to The Canadian Death Race in 2008. I guess I am just like Joan from Lethbridge, I met her at the beginning of leg one, it was her 3rd attempt. She is an acquaintance of Darcy , I heard later she didn't finish this time either, I remember thinking, "get a life". I been thinking about the reason why I changed my mind and I figure races like this where there are a lot of factors that play importance on finishing or not is a bit like gambling. A random event, everybody has a chance. I enjoyed watching people that looked a lot younger and fitter and why not childless giving up, the part that makes me want to go back is the people that are less fit but better prepared that did finish, is sort of like playing the slot machines every day and one evening you watch somebody win the jackpot with only one quarter the first time they try on the slot machine you just walked away from.

Is been exactly 2 weeks and as predicted my legs where OK running today, I only took 2 days off but it hasn't feel the same until today. I started my new job Monday with my fingers crossed. Not that I am negative but just like the race, I might be the right person for the job and still not succeed because of other factors. I guess at this point I am just hopping I am prepared and fit for the job as well.

Harold from the CNIB was very happy when I called him with the pledge results, he said the money was going to be used in Calgary for a classroom they are building. I was happy then he said the P word. I have heard the P word over and over the past 2 weeks since the race. " You must be really proud" it got me thinking, why don't I feel proud, I feel happy, excited, I am proud of having amazing friends and family that responded so quickly to my pledge, but I wasn't proud of me, why?

What I am proud however is watching my kids win awards such as Karl's citizenship award. I felt my heart sink after watching some kids names being called to the front to receive their award,and watched with envy how their parents, moms and dads stood together side by side smiling with with pride. I felt guilty for not giving my kids the same advantage, because I thought as a single parent my kids where probably not excelling as much as kids who have both parents dotting on them. Then when it was time to announce the winner of the citizenship award, I heard the teachers voice cracked as she introduced Karl to the audience, I was so proud when I watch everybody in that audience give Karl a standing ovation, he was so modest about it,I cried so hard I had to run to the bathroom. I am proud of how Hans' classmates marched into the school office to request being placed in the same class with him again. I am proud that my kids are very well liked because they are good human beings and are fair to the people around them.

I figure why the word proud never crossed my mind when I think about myself and it is because of how I am condition to focus on the things I haven't accomplished not that ones I have. Karl is perfect example of how we should all live our lives. Karl loves hockey, he was disappointed to find out there is no league for the visually impaired. " It's a shame" he told me with sincerity " I am so good at it" . I love my kids but even I notice that Karl and great hockey player have never been spoken in the same sentence. Luckily for me Karl explained himself further. This is how he remembers. Karl never once told me that he only scored one goal in the whole season, the odds of that ever happening where not at his favour, you could hear me scream so loudly when it did because I had giving up the idea that was ever going to happen. What Karl did remember was all the things he did do. He blocked the puck from going in many times, or the many times he managed to assist a team member so he could get closer to the net. By the time Karl had finish his story I was standing next to Steve Nash and my little Karl was the MVP.

I wish that the world saw what Karl sees. I will still have my old job. I would not have sit in that office feeling like I failed them because I failed to produced the recommended new business revenue. I, just like Karl did stop my biggest client on my list from going to a competitor because they where a lot cheaper than us. 80% of sales are from current customers. I was made to quit because I failed the company 20%. Karl is right, if you take the amount if time is spent actually scoring and the amount of time is spent setting it up Karl excelled at the bigger part. It really is a shame that he will not be playing anymore, the hockey league will miss their MVP.

So I am proud, I did raised $3500, I did try my hardest, I didn't give up when all I could think was "I want to stop badly", as bad as it was I do enjoyed running a lot more now like Hans said when I came back from one of my runs last week "why do you have that creepy smile"and best of all I am proud that I didn't sit at home feeling like a victim because something like this happened to my family. That part is what I have learned for Hans. there is nobody better at moving forward that him. He spends almost no time crying about what happens and more time trying to figure out how to get out of that situation. I have learned from Hans that sometimes I have no control about what happens, but I always have control about what I do about it.

Next year when I see Joan from Lethbridge, I will tell her how proud she must make her family, after all the race is only one day out of 365, when I see her next year on her 5th try she already will be a winner. I get why her family was cheering from the sidelines, to them she is a hero, they have seen her dedication to training day after day. Joan is somebody that works hard at a goal and enjoys her successes along the way. Maybe I will meet somebody who is running the Death Race for the first time and when I will explain the is my second attempt because I didn't finish last year with a big smile on my face that shows how proud I am , I will not be offended by the sad look of " get a life" in their face, it will be Joan's and my little secret.

Monday, August 6, 2007

125K,24 hours to finish, 17,000 feet of elevation, freezing rain. What is this the death race?

This was no ordinary weekend. I arrived at Grand Cache Friday night to the mandatory meeting and looking around the crowd I was sure I had missed a turn somewhere and ended at Woodstock 2007. I started feeling nervous. It was pouring and I didn't bring extra clothing. John and I walked around the booth trying to find anything that was either waterproof or warmer. We did find a pair of running tights that would not keep me too warm but with their crisscross design would make me look fast as John casually mention when I showed up on them race day. I suddenly felt like I was Paris Hilton and this was my simple life attempt.

Darcy and I met at the start line, stage 1 was uneventful Darcy chatted with other runners, they all had stories of failed attempts or glorious victories, we settle into what seemed a very slow pace and kept a close eye on my pacing partner, Darcy after all had successfully finish his last 3 attempts.

Leg 2, the second hardest gave me a true indication of what was to come, climbing Flood and Grand mountain was a hard 4 hour long test of sanity. The climb was steady and the descend was even harder, the steep terrain was made even more difficult by the slippery conditions, I had trouble catching up to Darcy who was great at using his poles to aid himself on the descend. It was still raining but the rain felt nice and cool on my body.

Leg 3 was a breeze, only 19k long and rolling hills , armed only with my ipod and a bottle of Gatorade in hand I knew it was my only chance to gain ground. I passed Darcy in my first 15 minutes never to see him again, I told him I was going to go ahead since he was clearly going to catch up to me on stage 4 the hardest climb. He never did, the next day I heard he didn't finish either, he didn't said much, he was either too tired or to chocked to explain. From this point on I was 2 hour ahead of schedule, I was tracking for a 22 hour finish time.

leg 4 was by far the hardest thing I had ever done physically. I started the climb around 6, since leg 4 is 8 hours long and unaided I put as much on my backpack as I could physically manage. The climb is not technical like leg 2 but the 6986 feet climb start all at once. I hiked at a pace that didn't seemed fast, it feel like I hardly move but only two races past me and when I joked with them I felt I was hardly moving one of them motion me to look behind me, one of them said, " no, you are moving, they are not" behind me down below I could see people everywhere laying down or bent over trying to catch their breath. I keep thinking what Darcy said to me, " don't worry if you feel like you are slowing down, just keep moving, never stop" What it makes this climb even harder is that as the climb progresses there are longer periods of times where you don't see any body else. I got to the top around 9:30 and started my descend. The rain that had felt nice around 4pm was making my descend not very enjoyable as the light started to disappear.

I got tho the emergency station around midnight only to find out that I had to climb other 5 k before climbing down again, is what they called the Amber Loop. It broke my heart, It was pitch dark and I was alone for most of my hike, I had a head light but as I avoided 3 puddles I felt on 2. Finally around 2 am, and with only 9k to go to the next station I was stopped by the emergency crew patrolling. hypothermia was making me disoriented and I had trouble answering their questions, I was asked to get on their ATV and relinquish my timing stick and coin, the only proof a Death Racer has of finishing. I was in a lot of pain then but as I finally sat down on the ATV the pain that I was experiencing tripled. My support came to pick me up and I had only the energy to climb to the back of the van and I fell asleep fast.

I woke up 4 hour later and amazingly felt great, it was only when I try to walked that I realize what I had just done was not natural. At breakfast the town was full of people who walked funny like me, after a long shower I took advantage of the complimentary massage. make no mistake this was not Banff Spring Hotel, the massage felt like Chinese torture to make me confess, I knew I needed to release all the lactic acid that had build around my muscles. The girl that worked on my legs asked if I had stretched before the race, my IT band was too tight she noted. No I reply. "That is why you are so sore" I don't have a degree on sports medicine but event I know that no amount of stretching before hand will prevent my muscles of been sore after 18 hours of continuous effort.

My take on the race? it was all worth it. I think we should all do something that seems impossible once in our life time, something that brings us out of our comfort zone and forces us to look hard inside and ask the hard questions. Is easy to avoid dealing with ourselves. There is so much we can hide behind to avoid thinking, our family, jobs, or even when we find ourselves alone we are quick to seek companion in our solitude with TVs, radios, music, or even computers. Out there in the middle of the night, alone and with miles to go I had nowhere to turn but in.

I have now found the strength to keep me strong if more challenges come into my life as I am sure they will come.

From now on I will approach new challenges as the Death Race, I will take it one leg at the time, some legs will be more challenging than others but they will all be part of the journey and even if I don't win the race I will learn to appreciate that at the end I have grown a little bit stronger.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Big girls don't cry

I went for a bike ride today. Just for an hour. I haven't been feeling that well lately. sitting at home and watching TV every evening has made me feel a bit sluggish.

I had to go for a bike ride, I was experiencing stress and decided that an hour will probably be good. I had to resign my job today. if your clients are not calling you back because is summer , or maybe three new competitors opened their doors and your are sitting in your managers office looking fit and tan, then she hears that your are running 125K, no amount of explaining of how you are working your hours will get you out of that one.

Perception is a funny thing, people assume things just because of your clothes, hair or choice of car. I run at 5 am and evenings when I am trying to build mileage, I do my core for about 50 minutes in my lunch hour 3 times a week. I do run at lunch once a week with my best friend but I other than that I am working. I guess is human nature to try and size each other up.

When I stopped at Gord's running store to get my shoes I asked to speak with him, I was told by friends that because he is a well know ultramarthoner he was going to be the best person to help me. Then he saw me, I looked more like Victoria Beckham than Deana Kastor, I could tell he was a bit annoyed to be disturbed, once he heard how many miles a was logging a week he was very generous with his advise.

The beauty of my kids is the way they perceive themselves and our life perfect. They both are so embarrassed by me, they think I am a geek and refuse to be seeing in public with me, Karl who has to wear funny glasses that look like inspector gadget at school because he can't see the whiteboard and Hans knows everything there is to know about Star Wars and wears a Clone Trooper costume at home and yet somewhere down the line I became the dork. Nothing around matters is what we in our heads see that matters. I wish I could think like my kids and see myself not from the outside but from the inside.

This is my last entry before the race, I leave early tomorrow. Thanks to every ones generosity I have collected $3000.00 that is unbelievable. We are so close to finding the cure for blindness. Dr. Ells, was very positive, last time she saw Karl said we are approximately 10 years from finding a cure and even better, they are reversing the damage, she was very positive Karl was in time to benefit by all the research.

I don't think that my life is what fairy tales are all about, but even after all, lost jobs, flooded basements, broken hearts. I hug my kids good night and I feel just like a princess of a far far away kingdom.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I hope Fried Green Tomatoes is on TV tonigh

I am experiencing some soreness in my quad. I am not sure is serious but at this point I don't want to take a chance. A healthy average runner is better off on a race than a fit injured one. I have being sitting and eating comfort food and it might seem like a great day but, beware doing this will lead to endless channel surfing to find chick flicks.
I feel guilty for just sitting at home and not exercising, and just like somebody going though a breakup and sees couples everywhere, I too seem to notice people jogging, on bikes ,roller blading. Sunday when I went for a walk I saw the running groups everywhere, having a great time. I came home and ate more carbs.
I am leaving Friday and the day doesn't come fast enough, I never thought I was going to be looking forward to driving for 7 hours to car camp on a community parking lot and sharing the general showers. Not exactly a Club Med vacation.
I imagine that things would be different if I had been a single mother of girls. But would it? As a kid I was never allowed to play sports only dance classes. Sports where to tomboyish for my mom, in Mexico a good parent will make sure daughters are marriageable, and what nice boy will want a girl that behaved like a boy, my mom always said when I asked if I could play on a team.
In my teens too, I was never allowed to do anything that made me too muscular, back then models and actresses did not look muscular.I think I am finally coming on my own. I realize that the reason why I never did anything like this before was not because I don't enjoy it, but because I was never allowed. As a mother of boys, I am around sports that I always thought where for boys, and I have learn to enjoy mountain biking, running marathons, I have learned to love sports as a life style not just something you do to look a certain way.

On my ipod this week

1.Umbrella---- Rihanna
3.I am changing--- Jennifer Hudson
4.Sorry--- Maddona
5. Here I go again--- whitesnake

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The wating game

I started my taper and I am not feeling well. I have being running so much for so long that not running is making me cranky. Last time I tapered I insulted my best friend Nadia. Training at a certain intensity and then taking it away is like taking nicotine away from a smoker. I have been very emotional. I watched "Because I said so" and even though I knew it was bad I couldn't stop crying.

I am ready to go. I am as ready as I could be given the circumstances. I have being training for Boston so I haven't prepare for a lot of hills. I am no different that anybody else in terms of exercise. I drive to Memorial dr to go for a run or drive to and from the gym but never take the stairs. Now I am wishing I had taking the stairs a bit more often.

John stopped by today to go over next weekend. here is a friend who I hardly even know that when he heard I was going to race alone volunteer to be my support crew, our kids play soccer at the same league and we both volunteer for the association but including today I have met him only a handful of times. I told him he would absolutely hate me after the race. I guess it will be like giving birth in front of a person I hardly even know. John will be in my friends list forever, next time I move I sure know who I will call first.

We had a good chat until the part where he saw my equipment and then asked me why didn't I have the bear spray yet. Is wishfull thinking of my part. I know I am not going to be the first in the race and I am hopping to be somewhere in the middle, bears will be long gone by the time I go by I hope, unless of course I fall so far behind the bear come out from hiding. Maybe I should get a small bear spray, I am not sure I can operate the canister properly with exhausted arms, with my luck I will probably spraying myself and become peppered Mexican beef jerky.

I talked to my kids today. They left their cell behind and their friends are trying to get a hold of them. Talking to them eliminated any doubt in my mind. My kids had a rough year last year and now their only worry is trying to schedule play dates with their friends over the summer. I am thankful for all the support that got us there. I will try my hardest to make it as far as I can on the race, but just like John said "don't worry, if you don't finish I guess this will be your practice run for next year"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

you mean you will be in a lot of pain for 24 hours

I saw my friend Nancy yesterday and we started talking about the race. She was out for a walk with her husband and baby daughter. after trying to explain my best what this race is all about. " is it dangerous?" I guess there is always risk involved, I explained, but most people drop our of injury or because you are in too much pain. Nancy didn't even blink, " you'll be fine" she added. I guess, to a young mother who just experience childbirth, pain is not something that makes her cringe any more. There are experiences in life that stretches our boundaries of what we think is possible. I guess that is why when I got the call from the Death Race organizers and told me there was a spot for me if I wanted I decided to go ahead and not wait until next year.

I picked up all my gear now and I am ready to go. headlight for running at night, walking poles to try and use my upper body and give my legs a rest, extra pair of shoes 1 size too big for the later part ,my feet will swell a size I am told, table salt, electrolyte tablets, gels, boost, smart wool socks, moleskin, duct tape for my feet and an extra large camel back.

I went running for about 40 minutes and tried my gear, I need to know where it chaffs and where it pinches and try and be pro active.

The race is exactly in a week and I am feeling anxious, there is nothing I can do to prepare myself physically , is to late to get any fitter, I have to go with what I got, and I don't want to loose my courage. I am not afraid of the race I am more afraid of the week after. Reading racers stories of last year racers,it always ends the same way, it seems unbelievable how much your body can ache.

Well, the thing I am looking forward after the race is the fact that the next day meals will account for 0 calories, my body will burn so many calories that it will not matter. I am going to order that extra slice of chocolate cake.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I only laugh when I am nervous

Wow! I am screening calls now. I think I have collected more pledges from people that ask me not to do it that the other way around.

yes is nuts. I am very intimidated by it. some people seem to think is a cry for attention. I can think of better ways of crying for attention. Being 39,dressing up in animal print and hitting the bars. Now that sounds more like something that I could do this long weekend that will also give me attention.

I am really doubting my ability to finish this race now. When I first sign for it, I knew it was going to be crazy but there was a small part of me that thought "maybe" is not like I have being sitting in the couch and all of a sudden saying "My kids are gone for 2 weeks, let's see, I can get an other cat or I can race for 125K" .

The thing is, my life is getting easier, I am looking forward to my next Athabasca University class and the craziness of two preteen boys and their school and sports schedule, and it's getting harder for me to wake up at 5am every day to go for a run. The truth is a feel guilty for looking forward to a less stressed life ( I do have some stress, I am after all a single mother of 2 boys), if it's not for organizations like the CNIB that provide help to families like mine, I wouldn't have being looking into the possibility of going back to a normal life so soon.

I feel great about being able to give them 24 hours of my life so they can go ahead and do what they do. The strangest thing is that I almost never notice that Karl is visually impaired, but once a week I will get a yellow box with braille writing and a book on tape and I remember that they are only a phone call away

Before I ever considered doing the Canadian Death Race, I imagine this race being full of renegades, people who had trouble adapting to the norms of society and after talking to a few people who have done the race solo I realize they are your average white collar corporate Calgary. Sure is unusual to spend some of your hard earned vacation time to do something like this.

Darcy whom I met for a run so I could asked questions about this race never doubted my ability to do it. Darcy has run this race for 4 straight years and he is doing it again this year never needed an excuse for racing ultras, except that he just loves running . He was however very disappointed that the 100 miles Lost Soul Ultra in Lethbridge was full and I couldn't sign for that one too.

I am committed to do this race, I hope I completed so I don't have to give it an other shot next year, unless just like Darcy, I end up falling in love with the sport and I will look forward to spending my long earn vacation time in Grand Cache Alberta in the August long weekend.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

all of a sudden Britney seems emotionaly stable single mother

You can't be serious... There must be something wrong... I'll give you the $1000 if you don't do it...

that seems to be the reaction from some friends. On the other hand I have already collected $1000 in pledge money for the CNIB. First day and from only two friends that responded. I am so excited.

It seems to be a great concern about my mental health, sure, my kids are gone for 3 weeks and I am not the best of dealing with loneliness.. but this goal is tough but my expectations are realistic, to finish. will I be disappointed if I am force to drop out out of running out of time or injury? sure but I am determined to keep it relatively safe. Plus we all do stupid things once in a while, specially during Stampede, DUI, unprotected sex, parties with livestock and drunk oil employees trying to wrestle a baby calf. Well this is my own little stampede.

The goal is to finish, I will push trough blisters, fatigue, muscle pain and things like that. I will stop if I think I am in danger at any moment, plus is a 24 running and hiking. Like Karl says, "is just my eyes mom" " everything else works really well". Is just going to be a really long day.

Preparations are underway, I found a friend willing to car camp with me and be my support person, helping me with bandages, change my shoes, feed me, support is not allowed outside check points but having a friendly face specially on the night part will be invaluable.

My training now is mostly walking, my muscles are fatigue since I was training for the 5 peaks race mid September. I have to do a force taper to let my leg muscles rest.

top 5 songs on my ipod to get me going this week

1. la cadena de oro ---Cabas
2. party like is 1999---Prince
3. Daria ---La 5a Estacion
4. Tu tortura--- Shakira y Alejandro Saenz
5. Don't stop till get enough--- Michael Jackson

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I thought they were kidding too

I can believe this is is happening this fast. I started inquiring about the Canadian Death Race in hopes to race it next year and next thing you know I am going to be racing next weekend.
The only two people I had a chance to tell in person try to talk me out of it, so I do know how crazy this is.

I am exited, not about running 125K, but I am excited that I have found a way to give back to the CNIB. When Karl was diagnosed with Cone Dystrophy, I had a lot of questions and they took the time to talk to me and provided all the help I needed to help Karl. There are a lot of amazing organizations that help families or individuals like me deal with adversity.You never really appreciate it until you need them. They never made me feel guilty for thinking," what am I going to do" they understood that even though Karl was the one diagnosed, it affected as all.

Of course I relied on friends and family as well. So this ultra marathon is dedicated to everybody that held my hand. My kids are doing amazing now, they act like normal preteen boys and that is why I am so thankful to everybody.

I am sure this is going to be quite the adventure. Talking to a few ultimate runners I had the pleasure of hearing fantastic tips on how to suffer the least. I am told the pain will never stop but they are ways of lessening the pain.

So enjoy the ride is guaranteed to be a bumpy one