Friday, October 31, 2008

To Veg or Not to Veg

Today, on the holiest of candy days, I thought I could bring up an interesting and sometimes contentious topic in the nutrition/athletic world. Vegetarianism

I am one of those "quasi-vegetarians" in that I don't eat red meat at all but I do eat chicken and occassional pork. It first started in University where I studied health promotion and was also living in student induced poverty so a meat free diet was a financial necessity. In all honesty, my interest in a vegetarian diet is not about the ecological factors or my love of our four legged friends (God love those selfless cows who gave me my fabulous brown leather boots). I simply don't enjoy the taste of meat and I feel much better when eating a "clean" diet with lots of veggies and fruits. On the other hand, my husband is a hard core carnivore and would rather gouge out his eyes with hot flaming sticks than give up meat. I refuse to make seperate meals so this is what keeps me from making the full "veg" committment. My husband travels quite a bit and when he is away, me and our children tend to eat a totally veg diet because it is my preference and I almost always feel better.

However, I wonder how it would impact me as a runner? Prior to being a regular runner, I didn't find a veg diet problematic but with these kinds of distances, I wonder if I might not be getting enough protien. Then I came across a Canadian superstar Brendan Brazier who is triathlete and ultra-marathon champ. He is a strong proponent for a plant based diet for all athletes and he really gave me a good prospective!

I also read a book that really gave me a HUGE push toward considering making the final plunge. It is called the China Study by Dr. T.Colin Campbell.

I strongly recommend anyone with even a mild interest in giving up Sam the Cow to read it. Even my husband had to give some considerations to how a meat eating diet impacts the Earth, the economy, and overall wellbeing of people.
I would love to hear how many of you are vegetarians, vegans or "other" - like me. I welcome your thoughts!
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

War and Peace

Today's topic:  How to be a loving and doting mother despite the natural human instinct to run from stressful situations.  

I have two beautiful and loving children whom I adore most of the time.  Ask any parent, and they will tell you that their children are the most wonderful of creatures who enrich our lives and make us whole everyday they are on the planet.  However, if the same parents are being totally honest, they would also acknowledge that there are moments when you must fight the instinct to take their most prized possession and set it on fire just to spite them.  

Today I have considered this very thing and have thankfully made it through to bedtime with Teddy's limbs still in tact...  See proof below (yes, Teddy is a lamb but calls him Teddy so we go with it):

It could be that I am more stressed than usual with my injury that has me grounded or the fact that I ate a chicken burger today and I never eat burgers and only rarely eat meat.  Who knows where it is coming from but it seemed that every thing that came out of my mouth was challenged by my two darling little monsters.  In all his six years on the Earth, my little man has only gone to bed without a bedtime story a small handful of times.   My daughter had her med injection today so I admit to indulging her on injection day.  This has resulted in a child that resembles the person who is next in line at Tim Hortons; just behind the guy getting breakfast and coffee for all 50 of his coworkers.    See example below:

However, after a long and taxing day, I have called a truce and we managed to have a nice quiet moment reading Lightening McQueen and the Ghost Light and everyone went to bed peacefully.  Normally I would now head out for my run but instead, I sit at the MAC, drinking the last of the Shiraz and wondering if tomorrow will be more peace - less war.  

Monday, October 27, 2008

Running to Stand Still

I came across a blog with this title and I just couldn't help but take a look. It could be because she is a Mom like me or any number of things but truthfully, I think it really described how I am feeling right now. I know I already had my little meltdown late last week so I won't beat that dead horse but now that I have resigned myself to the fact that I must wait on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, it is really starting to sink in. Reading all these fantastic posts about great races this past weekend is starting to bring out the green enemy! Don't get me wrong, I love reading how great everyone does - it is very inspirational. However, I was planning to let Marci talk me into doing Hamilton 1/2 marathon this weekend and now that is not even an option.

It could also be because I have been in perpetual motion since Friday doing work, kids, groceries, laundry, hockey practice, birthday party etc.. Normally I also manage to squeeze in the run which gives me my healthly and perfectly legal "boost" but without it I am starting to go a little nutty! I also think that my pants are tight and butt is bigger. Can that happen in just a week? My poor suffering husband...God love his tolerance of my endorphine mood swings.

So that's me, just Running to Stand Still until such time as my angry and inflamed appendage gets over its little temper tantrum and decides to play nice with the rest of my body.

Suddenly I have an urge to pull out cassette tapes of U2, The Joshua Tree and hang out in my bedroom writing in a funky journal...weird. :) For all those born in the is my contribution for the day. My man Bono - Enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Improved Attitude

Sorry about my previous post...I think my emotions got the best of me a bit and having this outlet was the first thing I thought of!  I really appreciate all the great comments and I am feeling much better.  I plan on taking on all the special tips you gave and try them all..I will try anything! 

In the meantime, I spoke with the coach for the Joints in Motion Team and he gave me a few other things to do and put my mind at ease.  I may end of changing my time goal but I can live with that.  I must admit, this was the first time I became this charged about running.  Do you think that means I have gone over to the other side where 5k's are a training run and I read new blog posts before I read the news?  Wow...that's great!

I know a few people are running this weekend so good luck to you all and I'll catch you on the flip side. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Lowest Day

Today is a bad day.  For the past few weeks, I have wrestled with a nagging pain in my foot (occasionally feet).  I went to a doctor, got the nod of "yes, it is an injury so just lay off running for a while".  He sent me to a massage therapist who is fantastic and also a runner so we had a mutual understanding that "no running" was not an option. She has given my a laundry list of things to do in addition to massage in order to alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis.  In addition, I trimmed back my running for the past two weeks and I also saw a podiatrist for custom orthotics (still working on getting those). I followed every instruction to the letter.  I ice constantly, I do more stretching than I ever have and I have attempted to ease back into running.  Last night I did 10km after doing just 4k and 5k for the few days leading up it and today the pain is right back where I started.  I just laced up to do a quick 5km and could barely get down my street.  If I lose much more time in the training, I will never be able to complete the race on Jan 11th.

I am totally devastated...I have been planning this run in Disney for months and months.  In addition, I have trained for a marathon three times and not completed it (2 times I got pregnant which is excusable but the first time, I had an injury).  I HAVE to do this.  

For those who don't know, I am participating in this marathon as a member of the Joints in Motion training team.  Last year, our two year old daughter was diagnosed  with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  For a long time, she struggled to walk and get dressed or just to play like normal little kids.  She has a great doctor and physiotherapist at the Hospital for Sick Children and in recent months, a number of procedures and some hard core meds have really made a difference.  Her condition will last forever and the relief is periodic so of course we want to fix it. Since I am not a doctor or scientist, this is the only thing I know how to do to make her life better.  My fundraising goal was $4000 and I have already raised more than $6500 (see my arthritis webpage) thanks to the fantastically generous friends and family we are lucky to have. In addition, my kids are over the moon with excitement to go to Disney AND to see Mommy run.  My son is in Grade 1 and he had to talk to the class about things that were important to him.  He chose to talk about how Mommy is running a marathon at Disney World so that his baby sister can feel better. There is so much more to this race than just my desire to finish so what do I do?...what do I do...?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Next Generation of Runners

A few weeks ago, a bunch of us participated in the Run for the Cure. It was great because it was something very close to my best friend's heart and we had a full team of gals. Some were runners, some walkers and some "in-between". This race is always about a lot more than running and the crowd was crazy! So much pink...

The best part was that I ran the race with my little neighbour. She is a die hard athlete for a nine year old and she is always asking me about my running. With parents permission, she joined our team and she managed to raise more than $400 which is the highest on our team! She was really excited about getting a number and painting her hair pink as well as all the vendors and various things to see (like the level of dedication to the outfit of many of the participants!). Standing at the start line, I could tell she was a little nervous but she was a trooper! For the first few minutes, I made her hold my hand because I was afraid of losing her in the crowd and I could not be responsible for returning without my neighbours child! She is an asthmatic so I had TWO puffers in my hands just in case..

Of course I ran with her the whole way and she was a star - we only stopped a few times! She was VERY excited when we crossed the finish line and like any true athlete she was anxious to know our finishing time. This week, she made up Thank-you cards for all those that sponsored her and brought one to me. In each of the cards she put a picture of herself crossing the finish line. I thought this was an excellent idea and one that I will be sure to do myself! You will notice in the picture that she looks like J-Lo crossing the finish line getting snapped by paps while her security runs nearby...that's me - security!

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Humbling Reminder

Today I participated in the Toronto Marathon on the relay team with Goodlife. It was my first experience with the relay and it certainly was an adventure! It seems getting to the transfer point was more of an effort than the actual 7km that I ran (the final leg)! Overall, it was a good experience but I don't think relays are for me. It doesn't have the same satisfaction and I was a little jealous of the snazzy medals given to the finishers!
However, I did get something out of the experience. I was standing at the 35km mark waiting for my relay transfer. We were having a great time cheering on the participants as they came into their final stretch and believe me, some needed it more than others! I was totally amazed at the variety of people - young, old, short, tall, pencil thin, pleasantly round - it was fantastic to see. Running 7km was the longest distance ever for my friend and she was in awe of the accomplishment of these people.
At one point, a young woman ran by and she did not look good. She was hobbling and cramped and didn't even seem to hear us as she ran by. She was strong and fit but just past the 35km marker she slowed and her body was forcing her to sit. She was fighting it and trying to stand back up but her legs just would not agree. Some people helped and then a medic arrived but she seemed to be physically and mentally defeated. She wanted to get up but there was no chance her body would cooperate. Her mental state resulted in her being more physical with the medics than I am sure she would normally be.
Witnessing this, my heart was broken for her because she was little more than 6km from the finish. Was this her first race? Has she already done a few and was going for a PB? I have no idea what her story was but I felt very humbled by how much respect we must have for the distance and the accomplishment. If anything, it made me realize how much I must keep to my running schedule and work on my mental training. I hope today she is feeling better and planning her next attempt with a fresh perspective.
Congratulations to all the finishers!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Run for the Goodlife

This weekend is the Goodlife Marathon and I am getting very excited but at the same time I am a bit bummed out. I work in the corporate office for Goodlife so I wanted to be part of a team. I am doing the relay in a group of eight runners so I am only doing 5km. In a strange way, it feels like I am cheating...isn't that strange? For lots of people (myself included just a short while ago), 5km is a really far distance to run but even after just a few months of running regularly, 5km feels like a quick warm up. This is especially true now while I am training for the full marathon and should be doing 20km on Sunday and not 5km. I suppose I could have done the 1/2 marathon but then to whom would I "pass the baton" to? What would I do while all my Goodlife colleagues are doing a group hug or team cheer?
However, the part I am really excited about is that some of the team members have never done a race before and are really nervous. I can't wait to hear from them after they have had the full race experience like getting your number, waiting for the mass start, seeing all the signs and cheering for people that are mostly strangers. And of course the total thrill at the end of the race when everyone compares notes on where the toughest hill was and what mile marker they crashed on. I wonder if this is what addicts feel like when they attract a few more junkies into the crack house?
Aside from my dereliction from the training schedule, I do love a good race - even if I am cheating!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why Do We Do It?

Following my return to the running world, I receive this question a lot. Especially after the birth of two children and all the time that consumes. This lead me to consider the many reasons why we, more specifically, why I run like I do.

The first and obvious one for most people is the health benefits, losing weight, the conditioning, abiding by the "active living" mantra, blah, blah, blah. While all very true and perfectly valid reasons, there is a way to stay active without having your toe nails desinigrate in the process. Not to mention, whatever land mass I lose off my backend finds its way to my calves and in the process I end up sacrificing my love affair with my brown boots.

The second could be to set a great example for the kids who mirror mom and dad like miniature stalkers. Again, it is a good reason and definitely one I considered but at this stage, the hero worship experienced one day is just as often replaced with sad little faces who just want Mommy to stay home and play snakes and ladders instead of heading out to run.

It could be the camaraderie of the races, networking with like minded people, sharing in the joys and pains of the strangers that tend to form into groups during the long races and runs. I have played team sports all my life and would argue that although running does offer these things - it is at the same time one of the most solitary sports. Years of soccer gave me a great respect for the team dynamic and I see this as the one weakness in running.

So many other things to consider...the feeling of accomplishment, the chance to be a champion (for some), the mental clarity and break from our multi-media world, the knowledge that running leaves a small environmental footprint when compared to other sports and so on. I am confident that if you interview ten runners you will get a different answer each time. So how would I answer it?

I have given it a lot of thought and tonight after I got home from my 10k tempo run in which I managed to accomplish my fastest mile, I knew what it was. While sitting in my chair regaling my partially distracted husband with a minute by minute illustration of my run, I realized that my chest felt overflowing with oxygen. I recognized the feeling immediately because it was the same one I get after races, long runs or any really great run. I LOVE this feeling. It lasts for hours afterward and I described it to my husband as all my reasons for running filling into my chest. In reality it is probably just that my lungs are exhausted from being so overworked, but it doesn't matter. That is my reason, that is why I do it.

Whatever your reason is worth it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Welcome All!

Hello All!

After many months of reading other posts and following so many running blogs, I thought it time to finally share my thoughts with the running community!  Despite the name of the blog, I promise not to bore you with too many ramblings about the joys of parenting or the ups and downs of scheduling running into an already overbooked life.  However, I may slip from time to time... 

On that note, I brief introduction is required.  As a young gal, I loved playing all kinds of different sports. Prior to the birth of my children, I loved the running and was known to periodically call myself a "runner".  With a brief return post baby number one, I found myself no longer worthy of the " runner" title after baby number two.  It seems two small children, a career, a husband, a house etc..does not lend itself to training the way I like to so instead I took the easy way out and just gave it up.  In the process, I lost myself (not to mention my body) and found I was giving up on more than my love of athletics.  After some prodding from the hubby and the return of some other moms, I managed to get right back in the saddle like I was never away!  Sure, the legs are a little slower and the cardio system needed a jump start but I am back at it with a vengeance, taking on bootcamp and tennis along the way.  

The number one lesson I have learned in my return is this:  It is not about how hard you train, but how to train WELL while still being a wife, mother, friend...a person. I hope I can impart on others the good, bad and ugly that I experience in order to add "runner" back to my personal identity!  Thanks for coming along!