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.