Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Home sweet home

I'm back, safe and sound from Toronto.

Between the murder at the hotel, the smoking room, the wildcat transit strike, the smog advisory and the fact that my presentation wasn't exactly packed with people have me looking back on the trip as being less than stellar in many ways. The highlight was definitely the time with my family.

My laptop has started making a strange buzzing noise... I packed it well and treated it gently, but may have to have it checked out soon... Hhhmmm... Can't imagine life without the laptop!

A strange blessing though... I checked my backpack as luggage, only to discover once I was back at my car that the little pocket in the front that contained my keys and a few other sundry items was completely open -- and everything, including my keys, was still in there! How they managed to stay in, as the bag was being thrown around by airport staff, is completely beyond me -- but I sure as heck am grateful for it!!

I bought a copy of The DaVinci Code at the airport today. I only have about 20 pages to go, so I'm going to finish the book and call it a day. Happy to be home...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Photo and promised anecdotes

Here's the promised photo of Bryce, Marsha, their two kids - Wes and Katelynn, and (slouching!) Auntie Sarah.

And the promised anecdotes...

Anecdote #1 - Now, why would she ask me that?

It's a good thing there's a photo here, because you can all see what I was wearing yesterday... Another conference delegate, some woman who was... a bit senior, shall we say -- and someone I'd never met before, stops me in the middle of campus and says, "You look like you'd know about this... Have you found the fitness centre yet?"

I just said, "Uh... no... sorry... Don't know where it is..."

I was puzzled... Why on earth would she ask me, of all people?

This caused me to ask myself... What made her think I'd actually know?

I'm throwing this one out there because the only thing I can come up with is "thunder thighs"... sigh...

And in case you're wondering, no I was not wearing running shoes... Shoes would have been a dead giveaway right? But no... Just some clog-like mules... big clunky things that fit my orthotics... but nothing you'd wear to work out, that's for sure.

Anecdote #2 - York U. beefcake made me wanna wretch

That woman, along with
Janice's comment from a previous post, made me think that it might be worthwhile to actually find the fitness centre and see if I could get a real workout in.

Much as
Zouzoux's comment about nicknaming me Trinity, from the Matrix movie was flattering, I have to say, it just made me laugh. There were no bullets to dodge for the rest of the weekend and I could only ever hope to have a body like that. As they say, it doesn't hurt to dream, but reality is quite a bit different, I'm afraid!

Having said that, the tubing is great, but I have to admit... I got a little bored after 60 reps of each exercise... and still didn't feel particularly challenged. The thought of an actual workout rather piqued my interest. I thought I'd go check it out and see if I could arrange for a day pass. So, I went on a mission to find the York U. gym.

I asked at the conference info desk, located in a nice, central building and got some very convoluted instructions which was drawn out on a campus map for me and a not-so-encouraging, "It should only take you about 15 minutes to walk there."

"15 minutes? To walk to the fitness centre? Sheesh, they don't make it easy for people, do they?" I thought to myself, as I headed off with the map in hand. It only took about 8 minutes, but still... it still seemed off the beaten track a bit.

When I got there, the doors to the building had signs on them: "Please use south doors."

I looked up in the sky. It was around 1:00 p.m. Sun almost directly overhead. No other indication of which way was south. My outdoor survival skills would probably let me do just that... "survive"... which is quite different than "thrive". I had no idea which way was south. Needless to say, I had to circle almost the entire perimeter of the building before I found the one open door.

I went in and found a front desk with some security turnstyles there... along with rather fit-looking dark haired young guy working the desk, probably a student. "I'm attending a conference here and wanted to find out if I could work out." I said.

"Gimme your ID," he said, smacking his chewing gum. Now, I have nothing against gum per se. I've been known to chew it myself. But this was... well... a bit obvious... and loud.

"My ID?" I said.

"Yeah... Ya know... that name tag around yer neck." I looked down and then took off the name tag on the landyard that identified me as a conference participant and gave it to him.

He said, "Locker rooms to the left."

I said, "Oh, I don't have my stuff with me right now, I just wanted some information... How much does it cost?"

He rolled his eyes, smacked his gum again and said, "It's free."

"Oh... cool!" I said... "How about lockers? Can I rent a day locker?"

He sighed and nonchalantly replied, "Also free. Whatcha wanna do?"

"Ummm... cardio and weights." I said.

At that point, things changed. He quite obviously looked me up and down, and then... get this... flexed his chest muscles, leaned forward and in between what can only be described as “muscle head grunts” said, “Yeah… we got cardio machines… and weights. We got … everything,” he said in such a way that just made me gag.

More gum smacking.


I was annoyed. I thought, "Ya know... You might be a beefcake, but with an attitude like that, you are an absolute turn off. You're working in a customer service job, so do your freaking job!"

It’s a personal pet peeve – when someone thinks they are God’s gift to the earth for being some particular way, whether it’s beefy, brainy, beautiful, benevolent or whatever. I mean, we all crap brown, right? Like I said… personal pet peeve. This guy was no exception…

Besides, I've spent my fair share of years working in customer service as a student, so it's not like I'm judging without ever having done a similar type of thing at one point.

Instead of giving him a good smack (which he would have deserved) I just smiled sweetly and said, “Thanks. I’ll be back some other time.”

I did go back for a workout today. That’s worthy of its own post though… Later. For now, I’m going to pack, since I’m heading home tomorrow.

By the way, my presentation is done. I did OK, but not having it listed in the program was a bit of a bummer. Oh well… at least I did it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

More adventures in Toronto...

OK, so I have now heard from numerous sources that North York is not exactly the best neighborhood of Toronto.

When I talked to my sister, Tracy, who lives in Kitchener (about an hour's drive away), she said, "You're staying in North York? Oh my God! Come and stay with us for one night... PLEASE!"

And so, I did... spending a delightful Saturday night with Tracy and husband, Bill. They did a fantastic BBQ and invited their neighbour, Scott, over. The four of us had a fabulous time and I thorougly appreciated that they drove an hour to pick me up and take me to their beautiful home. (It's one of those that looks like it could be photographed by an interior design magazine without any notice at all...)

They have acquired a few more animals since I was there last time, bringing the total up to 4 cats and 1 golden retriever... all of whom seem to love me, and the feeling is quite mutual. I woke up at one point, to find that Kramer, one of the big (huge, actually) cats, had decided to sleep with me... or rather spoon. I must say... I've never had a cat do that before... He nuzzled and nuzzled until he was comfy.

What's a girl to do? Naturally, I just scratched him on the head until he went to sleep...

This morning, Tracy and I met up with our kid brother, Bryce, and his family: wife, Marsha, along with their two kids -- Wes (age 4 - almost) and Katelynn (age 2 - almost). Man, those kids have grown! I've got pictures, but I'm on a public computer at the University library at the moment, so I'll have to post them later.

I love seeing Kid, as I call him... though this time he got a hard time from me for all the grey hair he's sprouted -- especially in his beard. Not even 30 yet and already lots of grey! Poor Kid...

The conference is going well... sort of... I figured out that my name and paper title were left out of the conference program. This kind of sucks because no one will know that I am even presenting... except for the few people I've run into who've asked me and promised to be there.

I've confirmed that yes, I am still supposed to present. It was a layout error on the part of the typesetter (or designer...) I've been told when and where and of course, I'll show up and do it. (That's the only way you get to legitimately put it on your resume.)

But still... I doubt there will be very many people there.

Oh well...

The sessions I have attended have been interesting so that's one plus.

And I have a story about getting my fitness fix while I'm here, but this post is getting a bit long, so I'm going to make you wait for it...

I know, I know... You hate it when I do that... But I promise the aforementioned photos with the next post, too...

Until soon...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Adventures in Toronto

So, I am here in Toronto for a conference (a mere 3.5 hour plane ride east from Calgary, for those of you who aren't from around these parts).

It's a huge conference -- the biggest academic conference in Canada for the social sciences and humanities. My guess is that there are about 8000 people here.

On Monday I will give a presentation on the topic I am passionate about - marketing of language programs. Originally, I thought I was supposed to present tomorrow, but I see the schedule has been changed....

But as for today, it has been it's very own special adventure...

I am staying at a Comfort Inn, which, despite the name, isn't exactly high end. They're basic, generally clean hotels. This one is close to campus and I figured I could walk to the conference.

When I got here, I asked if my friend, Mary, had already checked in. She had, so I called her.

She immediately said, "My parents are here from the States. We're going for dinner and you're coming with us."

Kind of taken aback I said, "Oh! I didn't know your parents were here. Sorry... Didn't want to intrude. I can catch up with you later."

She said, "Oh no. This isn't a great neighborhood. It's not safe. You're coming with us."

The neighborhood is a bit industrial, but I didn't quite understand her insistent tone.

Over dinner I found out that earlier today the entrace to the hotel had been sealed off and there were police in bullet proof vests swarming the place. There had been a shooting... Well, a minor drug-related murder, actually.


Oh yeah, and I had booked a non-smoking room. There are none. They're all smoking. I'm on the ground floor... but there's no way in hell I'm opening the big glass doors that open out on to the parking lot. I'm tough... but not stupid.

Did I mention that this is a huge conference and there are no hotel rooms under $300 to be found anywhere in this town?

The priceless irony of all this is that a few days ago, when my trainer was showing me a tubing workout I could do in my hotel room he said, "So, you just loop the tubing around a pole..."

And I replied, "A pole? I don't know what kind of hotels YOU stay in, but the ones I stay in don't have .... like... big dancing poles ... or any other kind of poles ... in the middle of the room!"

Apparently, instead, they just have murders.

And everything in this room is pretty much nailed down, so I'm going to have to get creative if I want to do that tubing workout... Or maybe I could just go dodge some bullets. Yeah, that sounds like a good workout...

Well, I'd better go search the net and find out where I'm supposed to present my paper on Monday...

Wish me luck... and survival.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lucky 3 and marathon decision

Yup. Did it... 3 days in a row of pain-free workouts.

My knee was a bit swollen, but nothing serious, so we are going to say it's three days in a row.

For the first time in... a long, long time.

Man, I feel good!

(Insert James Brown music here.)

Did 22 minutes on the stationary bike (most I've gotten myself up to since being allowed back on it this time), followed by physio exercises, some core work, some hamstring work and modified one-leg press I do to strengthen my inner quad (VM).

Chased it all with a yoga class.

Oh yeah.

And I made a decision about the Calgary HSBC marathon. I had been flirting with the idea at one point of running the half.

But clearly, without running for months, it really wouldn't be a smart thing to show up there.

Or... would it?

I have decided that I am going... as a volunteer. I signed up on the website today.

Maybe I won't be running it, but I can be there... and support others who are.

(Insert James Brown music again.)

Four days? Do we hear four days, anyone? Going now to the highest bidder...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Can we make it three?

I keep a training log of what I do, followed by some general comments. For two days in a row now, I've had "pain free" workouts. Leg feels great. Knee feels really good. Lower back pain is non-existent.

I write, "I feel like ME again!"

And in case you're wondering... no little red pills, no red wine and no tequila (which is always my preferred pain killer, though not many people understand why...)

Keep your fingers crossed for me... Maybe we can make it three days in a row??

Monday, May 22, 2006

Squatter's rights and chiropractic update

As promised, a quick update on chiro, physio, etc.

The bottom line for the first few chiro appointments is that they were not fun. At one point, I could hardly walk.

I generally refuse - vehemently refuse - to take any kind of pain medication most of the time. But, when my brother looked at me and said, "You're hurtin', arencha?"

And I quickly shook my head and said, "Nah, I'm fine."

He replied with, "Liar! Here, take this. It's Ibuprophen." And handed me a bottle with little red pills in it.

He was right. I was hurting. I hated to say it, but he knew it.

It quickly turned into a three-day love affair with the little red pills. There may have been some red wine involved, too... Yes, I do believe there was...

There was other unexpected stuff, too... Let's just say the words "Mother nature", "surprise" and "excruciating pain" and leave it at that.

Three days later, I was back at Dr. Mike's and respectfully gave him hell.

He said, "This isn't unheard of... though it is uncommon." He said that most people don't feel anything to start... or maybe a bit of achiness... But generally, not a drastic reaction. He added that most women won't be honest enough to tell him about any "Mother Nature matters".

"Well, I'll tell you honestly, I almost didn't come back today. What did you do to me???" Not waiting for a response, I added, "Whatever it is, please back off!"

He said that the adjustments he had given me were actually quite gentle and promised to ease off. And he kept his word.

I have learned through this fitness and health journey that my natural tendency seems to be to push too hard, too fast, too soon. Whether it's a work out or medical treatment, things seem to work much better for me when the approach is simple, gentle and gradual, rather than shocking to my system.

I can be tough, but my body doesn't seem to need me to be quite so tough most of the time. If I treat it well... gently pushing and nudging it forward, it treats me well in return, slowly and steadily progressing. If I push it too hard, it hisses and spits, refusing to go anywhere.

If nothing else, this is a good life lesson for me.

The next few chiro appointments went much better. There have been moments with no leg pain, no knee pain and no back pain at all... I have remembered what it is like to feel like "me" again.

But so far, these are just moments... not days... Not yet, anyway.

I did go to Tim for a physio appointment last week and he has put me back on to squats again.

I never -- never EVER -- thought I'd be happy to be doing squats again.

But I am!

And they feel better than before... Not perfect, but definitely stronger.

I can't believe I am about to say this... I almost like doing them. (Gag!)

Do you see that, people? I do believe that is a teeny, tiny little light at the end of the tunnel! Stay tuned.... or you may just miss the upcoming post called "A return to running"!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Putting the pieces "back" together again

OK, so apparently, you all like guessing games!

Well, one of you is right… (Well done, TG!) And the rest of you are good guessers... or just plain funny!

After my last appointment with Tim, I did a bit of a re-evaluation. I really did feel that he had given up on me and ultimately thought, “I don’t pay professionals to give up on me and not believe me when I say that I am actually following their instructions (like doing my daily exercises and stretches). I won’t abandon physio completely, but I’m open to trying something else…"

Somehow, I just felt that the trust had been broken on some level…

It is hard to explain, because he’s extremely professional and knows his stuff… But when he didn’t seem to believe me when I said, “I AM doing everything you say!” I was totally exasperated.

“What the hell motivation would I have to lie?” I thought. “That wouldn’t help anyone – least of all, me!”

So… exasperation and frustration (and the fact that my insurance coverage is about to run out for reaching the maximum number of physio sessions) all cumulatively led me to consider another option.

While you all may think I was living it up outside the blog-o-sphere (which, well… I was!), I was also quietly scuttling off to the offices of chiropractor,
Dr. Michael Kricken (affectionately known to his patients as “Dr. Mike”).

I went to him on the recommendation of A., who has seen him for a year. Her partner, Mom and various friends also go to see him and all have reported good to excellent results.

As I said to A., “I am not convinced about this chiropractic stuff, but I’m running out of options here.” And off I went to see yet another specialist.

Turns out, Dr. Mike is also a runner. Marathoner, actually.

“Bonus!” I thought. “Someone who gets the running thing!”

The office staff took a detailed history which Dr. Mike then reviewed with me. He did a postural analysis and then a physical examination. He recommended X-rays and made absolutely no promises, saying that he wanted to see the X-rays first.

X-rays came back and we reviewed them.

Apparently, getting hit by a car as a pedestrian isn’t so good for a human body (happened when I was 21). Subsequent motor vehicle accidents don’t help much either. They catch up with you.

When you decide to take on activities that involve a lot of pounding (especially when you carry more than a few extra pounds, as I did when I started) and you factor in loose joints and hyper flexibility, the impact on the body is a bit much and suddenly, voila! You have yourself an injury… or a few... and a back that has been quietly waiting for years to give you pain.

I was shown the X-rays of my own spine… and pelvis. Even without medical training, I could see my hips sitting at an angle, one significantly higher than the other. He lined up the edge of X-ray envelope over the picture to show me the line of the top of my hip bones… definitely tilted.

Then, he showed me that my lower back with no curvature.





That’s not good. Lower backs are supposed to be curved.

So are necks. And mine is… a wee bit... but not much.

"You have great posture," he said. (Posture nazi trainer would be pleased, I'm sure.) He continued, "And that's because you're as straight as a soldier. It's too straight... Not much of a natural curve at all."

Add to that few bone spurs on the lower vertebrae (L4 and L5, to be precise) and the material in between them being squished together (“compressed”, I think it is called) and we start to see a picture forming.

“It’s another piece of the puzzle for you,” he said, explaining how backs are connected to all parts of the bodies and how the area of my back that is not functioning properly is directly connected to the knees. It seems that according to this philosophy, as long as my back is unhealthy, my knee won’t get better.

Another piece of the puzzle, indeed!

It’s one that explains why the injury might be hanging on… It helps to show why, when all my other tests came back normal that things still hurt. I thought back to my training sessions with Chris and he would often say, “Your right shoulder is creeping up. Keep it down!”

And I would growl back, "I don’t feel it! It’s not creeping up!”

"Yes, it is! Keep it down!" He'd retort.

Chiropractor agrees with trainer. Sarah is out-voted by two professionals.

The fact that I didn't "feel" it just means that I've gotten used to living with the misalignment.

So… pieces are falling into place. I don’t really like all the answers (bone spurs cannot be reversed, though their development can be halted), but some answers – especially logical ones – are much better than no answers. When I can start to put together what various professionals have been saying, the answers gain validity.

After the initial assessment, I asked the key question, “Do you think I’ll be able to run again?”

Basically, he said that with the orthotics to correct the feet and the chiropractic care for the back, the answer was, Most likely, yes.”

He was straight with me and said, “I’ll be honest. Your back is in rough shape. And it's been that way for a good long time. We need to work on it for a while first before you go out there and try and run again. Let’s give it a month and see how it goes. Then maybe we’ll start with a walking program… then run / walk… then running. For you, getting back to running would be an excellent goal.”

So, from there, we talked about a treatment plan that would include adjustments and later, exercises on my own. He said, “I can’t give you exercises now or you’d be in so much pain, you’d go through the roof. Wait. We’ll get there.”

Wait? I’m good at waiting. We know this. I don’t like it, but I can do it.

Bottom line, I was impressed by his thoroughness. I liked how he explained things in simple, but straightforward terms. I appreciated that he was direct with me and didn’t try to sell me empty promises.

This post is getting a bit long, so I’ll blog about the first few treatments next time. For now, I can say that I feel focused and truly hopeful for the first time in a while… Not to mention relieved… in so ... many ... ways.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Back from holiday time with the family

Well, I said good-bye to my cousins yesterday. They are now in Toronto with my sister and brother-in-law and will also get a chance to see my younger brother and his family on the weekend, too.

I’m back at work and feeling generally refreshed and focused, I must say.

There was a bit of a shock yesterday afternoon when we heard that Captain Nichola Goddard was killed in Afghanistan. She is the first Canadian forces woman to be killed in a combat role. And she’s the daughter of my Ph.D. supervisor, Tim Goddard.

As I was walking over to the student centre to get a coffee this morning, they were lowering the flag to half mast. A sad time for the family, indeed…

On a happier note, I have news about my knee and leg.

After my last appointment with my "other" Tim (the physiotherapist) -- only some of which I blogged about -- I felt a bit like I was running out of options. So, I tried something (and some ONE) new, on the recommendation of about 6 different people.

After an initial reaction that was not so pleasant (i.e. almost excruciating) which, I understand, is not a particularly common way to react (though not unheard of), I have seen results that can only be described as dramatic.

Lower leg pain – gone!

Lower leg swelling - greatly reduced!

Knee pain – greatly reduced!

Knee swelling – greatly reduced!

And it has only been just over a week!

I will post about it in more detail next time, but for now… any guesses as to what I’ve been up to or who I’ve been seeing??

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Family visiting from England

So, I've been out of the blog-o-sphere lately, mostly due to an extra-busy schedule. My cousin, Elaine, and her son, Adrian, are visiting from England at the moment and we've been on the go day and night since they got here last Wednesday.

On Friday, we drove an hour and a half up to Red Deer to get my brother, Aaron. From there, we drove another hour and a half north to the provincial capital, Edmonton, where we spent the day seeing sights and shopping. Here's a picture of Aaron and me sitting on the steps of the legislature, where we had a tour. (Hint: You wanted to see me with dark hair? Here it is... I still don't like it, but am getting used to it...)

Today, we drove four hours to the Columbia Ice fields, where we saw the glaciers and spent some time playing in the snow. Here's Elaine and Adrian on the ice fields...

Tomorrow we will spend the day in Banff and Lake Louise, before Aaron has to head back to Red Deer to get ready for work on Monday.

Then, I have Monday and Tuesday with my cousins, before they head off to southern Ontario (Toronto area) to spend time with our sister and younger brother there.

Although Adrian was here last year, his Mum (my namesake) hasn't been here since I was about a year old, so needless to say, she has a lot of catching up to do! It has been a wonderful visit so far and we seem to be going from early morning until late at night, but that is OK... It seems to be going well!

Now that I've given a quick update, I'm off to bed... Tomorrow is another busy day.

I haven't had much time lately to catch up on blogs. I'll be back in the swing of things next week and I'll look forward to catching up on blogs then... Promise!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Defiant and stubborn... or... determined and focussed?

It is almost six months to the day since I wrote in my training log that my knee hurt when I ran. I can’t believe it. Six months.

I have asked myself many times how this could happen. I have no answers. No one does.

I go from being hopeful to frustrated to downright angry… But usually I settle into obedient patience, diligently doing my physio exercises and following instructions on how to get it better. In general, I’ve stayed off it, no matter how much it tears me up inside.

Tonight I went out with Z. and Samuel for dinner. It was Z’s first outing to a restaurant since having her boy. They both looked great and the chance to visit was delightful. Our dinner took an extraordinarily long time to arrive. The manager came over and apologized, saying that the house would be pleased to buy us dessert. Sounded great to us!

During dinner Z. probed me about running… and other activities… What was it about running? I mean, it didn’t start out that way, right? I just wanted to get in shape… not run… So what’s the big deal about finding another activity? (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist.)

I couldn’t explain it… She was right… This started off as a quest to live differently and as part of that process, get in shape and be healthy. Falling in love with running (again) was unexpected. But it happened.

Then, I got injured. And, corny as it may sound, I felt like I was ripped away from a new love I had barely gotten a chance to know. Geez, that does sound corny.

I have asked myself if I am just being stubborn. I’ve been known to be that way, you know. I have wondered if I would still be this passionate about it, if it wasn’t “forbidden”. The deep down truth is, I don’t know. How could I know, except to get on the other side of this injury and see how I feel about it?

Yesterday I had another physio appointment… my 17th physio appointment, to be precise. Tim said, “I don’t think you’re gonna run again, Sarah. It’s time to think about other activities… biking, swimming… but not running. I mean… we can try one more time, but… I don’t think so…”

“Hmph!” I snorted, trying to be respectful... Involuntary tears welling up from inside me as I blinked them back.

I hate crying – especially in public. I probably wouldn’t have, if the rest of the week had been normal. But it wasn’t.

Yesterday would have been a great day to hear, “Your diligence shows. You’re stronger. Not having to use the knee brace is progress. We are going in the right direction.” The truth was, I really wanted some good news yesterday. I wanted a reason to hope. Instead, I was basically told to give up hope.

Tim was firm with me: “We’ll try one more time… Do your stability exercises for two more weeks. Then we go back to squats. If you can’t squat, you can’t run. You need to be able to load your knee with weight.”

I nodded in acknowledgement, choking back sobs.

Have I mentioned that I hate crying?

Today I decided that I’ve had enough. Although it would have been nice to have my efforts recognized, ultimately, I don’t need to hear it from anyone else. I know it. I'm dedicated... and disciplined... and patient... I’m lighter and stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m in way better shape than I was in November and I’ve done everything I’ve been told. And I have training logs to prove it.

I’ve had it. I’ve had enough of the injury. I’ve had enough of being obedient and following directions. I’ve had enough of being excruciatingly patient. I’ve had enough of feeling held back!

Walking and running are the most natural things in the world, aren’t they? I had no problems before November, and there’s no good reason for this injury to hang on like this.

After dinner with Z. and Samuel tonight, I felt gross. My salad was loaded with dressing and high fat “extras” that I just don't enjoy any more. To make matters worse, I had no intention of eating dessert, but ordered it anyway, since it was on the house and all…

“What am I doing?” I asked myself. “I don’t eat like this any more!” So I put my fork down and pushed my plate away.

By the time I left, I felt horrible… Thoughts of purging entered my head, but I shooed them away thinking, “No, Sarah, you don’t live like that any more…”

I wanted to move. So I did. Screw it, I thought. Legs were made for walking.

So I came home, ditched my bag and enjoyed the bit of daylight that was left, walking a loop in my community that I discovered when I first moved here two years ago. It was about 35 minutes of walking – just a normal pace. I mean, I’d already worked out today, spending longer on the bike than I have in months.

I was just fed up… and wanted to get outside and be mobile. So I that's exactly what I did.

And it felt good. As I write this, I have ice on my knee. Yes, it puffed up. But it doesn’t feel horrible. I’m tired of being “good”. I’m tired of doing exercises that make me stronger… but not strong enough to run. I’m tired of shedding pounds… but not enough for my joints to take the load. It’s been six months… the days are getting longer and the weather is getting nicer… I’m tired of waiting.

Maybe my physiotherapist has given up on me. But I haven’t.

My leg. My knee. My body. My love of running.

I’m not ready to give up yet.

Words of wisdom, hope and encouragement gratefully accepted.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Healthy kitty and a warm, fuzzy anecdote about G.

Tidbit #1 - Nimbus, the white cat

She’s fine. I noticed the night she wasn’t feeling well that she refused to come into my room, going instead to my housemate’s room… Very unusual… That was the same night I used a topical muscle pain reliever on my knee and leg. ! It’s kind of like A5-35, except that it is “all natural” and it’s called “024”. I sprayed this stuff all over my knee and leg right before I went to bed and I must say, it worked great. It smelled a bit of menthol and eucalyptus, but nothing that I thought was horrid.

Apparently, the cat disagreed. I later found out that eucalyptus isn’t so good for cats. My hunch was that the fumes got to her, so the next day I washed the pj’s I was wearing, and all the bed linens. The cat has been fine ever since. Who knew?

Tidbit #2 - Closure with G.

If you’ve been following the blog since last fall, you will remember the student from my Spanish class who was
struggling in Spanish, much the same way I was struggling at the gym. It broke my heart when he didn’t show up for the final exam, and I heard from other students that he’d dropped the class at the last minute.

I hoped that one day we could give things a proper closure. I figured that if it ever happened, it would probably be as a result of running into one another quite unexpectedly, taking both of us off guard, as these things often do, offering a brief window of opportunity to say what needs to be said. Today, it happened. I was coming out of the locker room at the gym and there he was.

It was an unusual place to run into him, since you tend to see the same faces around, even if you don’t know who everyone is. I’d never seen him there and as it turned out, he was just there on an errand.

“Hola!” I said, as is customary for me when I meet students outside class.

He looked at me, shocked and blurted out, “Oh my God! You look great!”

I have to say, usually I am slightly disappointed when my students can’t even muster up a reciprocal greeting in Spanish in response to “Hola!”, but, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised (and flattered) with that particular greeting today.

G. and I both started fall semester with long, curly hair (his curlier than mine). During the course, he shaved his head and donated his hair and I told him that I was on a similar mission, just not to the point of baldness.

So, hair donations became a natural starting point for conversation. After a few minutes we got down to the business we both knew had to be done…

“I know I was a disappointment,” he said. “But I had a really good time in your class. You’re a great teacher.”

“Well, thanks. But I’m not disappointed. You had a decision to make and you did what you had to do. I totally respect that. No disappointment at all. Besides, languages will always be there if you ever decide to go back to them.”

“Thanks,” he said. “That means a lot.”

After that, we chatted for a few more minutes, during which time I asked how his courses had gone and he said he’d done well in his first year and was pleased with his marks. He had just come from the bookstore with some summer reading… pretty deep stuff on humanism and philosophy, especially for an 18-year old. I was impressed and I told him so, wrapping up the conversation on a positive note. We parted ways on good terms, exchanging smiles and good wishes.

It struck me strange that our paths never crossed once during the winter semester, but rather, once classes had ended for the year, thus giving him the chance to honestly tell me that things had worked out well for him during the academic year.

It also occurred to me that it was ironic that our chance meeting took place in the phys ed. building… the very place I’d faced many of my own struggles in the fall semester. Seems we both overcame our respective obstacles… just in different ways.

Funny how these things work out, sometimes…

He’s a good kid… and didn’t deserve to carry around the feeling that he’d disappointed me… or himself. I was thankful to have the chance to get closure on the situation.

This has been one of the most stressful, draining and emotionally demanding weeks that I’ve had in a long time… Some of it I have blogged about and other bits, I’m not quite ready to blog about yet... but suffice to say, it has taken it’s toll… Today’s encounter put an unexpectedly positive twist on things and was a nice way to end the week.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tomorrow is a new day

The Calgary Flames lost. I watched the game. It was lousy.

My 11-year old white cat, Nimbus, who has a voracious and unstoppable appetite is -- for the first time in her life -- refusing to eat. She walks around howling, then sleeping, only punctuated by the occasional vomit.

My Dad hit a deer. He's OK, as is the car. The young deer got up and ran into the woods, so apparently, he's OK, too.

Oh yeah... and my cousin, Gary (brother to Brian, who died in 1995 from AIDS-related causes, and son to Donna, my aunt who remains in the hospital with a broken femur that refuses to heal -- both of whom I have blogged about in posts past) committed suicide this week by sticking a shotgun in his mouth and firing.

I just found out... (as the Flames were losing to the Ducks). The funeral is on Saturday. In Ontario. Neither my brother, nor I can get there for it.

I sure am glad tomorrow is another day... One that may well require a trip to the vet for kitty...

For now, it's definitely time to wrap up this day.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

For Angie - Hip ab- and adductor exercises

Since Angie asked what I am doing for my hip ab- and adductors (and I couldn't find an e-mail addy on her page!!) I thought I'd do a quick post.

Let me preface it by saying that these were not my idea. Chris, my trainer, went to a session given by Dr. Reed Ferber of the
Running Injury Clinic. Following that, two things happened. One, I got new (as in, more) exercises, including these cable extensions. Two, I went to Reed Ferber's session on injury prevention at the Running Symposium I attended in March and saw him speak for myself.

I was impressed with his knowledge, focus on research and what seemed like a good, solid, common sense approach. (And didn't Rob say common sense was sexy? Right on!)

Anyway, at my gym we have this thing called the Total Leg Machine. I'm sure it can subject its users to any variety of tortures, but my particular tortures are hip adductor extensions (4 sets of 10, per leg) -- as seen on this swanky
website -- and hip abductor extensions (4 sets of 10, per leg) -- going in the opposite direction. Hence, the 80 reps a day, per leg.

The idea is to do them daily until you have worked up to 4 sets of 10 (which I have). From there, you start doing them without holding on to anything for support. So far, I can only do the last two of my four sets "hands free"... It's way harder than you'd think! Hint: You have to be careful to control the motion and not let momentum take over.

The result has been an incredible increase in stability, at times, very sore hips and glutes and the development of "thunder thighs"... surprisingly strong thunder thighs, I might add! (No, that is not an invitation for saucy comments, so don't even think about it!!) I just want to run again!

So there you go, Angie. Hope it helps!

Monday, May 01, 2006

If you experiment long enough, eventually something blows up.

I had my hair cut on the weekend. I have decided that I like it short… especially considering my activity level these days. Nice and easy…

I worry about it looking butch, but everyone tells me that this is not something I need to fret about, so I tend to put it out of my mind.

This time, the Deva took one look at my hair and said, “It’s dry… and green! What did you do to it?!”

“Ummm…. I took swimming lessons?” I said, looking at him pleadingly.

He snorted, “I can see that! Well, we’ll just have to fix this up, now, won’t we?” He said with his usual flair, pulling out his scissors.

I didn't see the green myself, but I am no expert in such matters...

As he was cutting away he said, “With hair this short you need a kick ass colour.”

“Well, go mix one up then,” I said, adding, “You know I trust you.”

And I do trust him. We’ve been together seven years… including the two years he took off to go work on a cruise ship and we stayed in touch via e-mail. He sent long stories about life on the ship and I replied with messages such as, “Glad you’re enjoying the high seas, now get that beautiful black ass of yours back to Calgary so you can do my hair, dammit!”

And back he came… opened up his own salon, and has moved up to doing the hair and make-up for various local TV personalities. All the while, he has never forgotten his loyal clients from his early days. He's truly "good people", that Deva.

So basically, I let him do whatever… and usually I am pleased.

This time though… it’ll take some getting used to…

The result? Short, spikey… and a dark, reddish brown, with a few chunky blonde highlights. Dramatic… Which is not really my style… But, what’s a non-drama queen to do? Slap on some eyeliner and deal with it, I guess. Or at least, that’s what I did this morning.

I might get used to it yet… If not, it’ll grow out and I’ll change it next time. In the meantime, I'm gonna try to feel "kick ass"... So far though, no dice.