Monday, October 29, 2007

A 5K "fracaso"

"Fracaso" is the Spanish word for when something flops. A common use of the word is in the phrase "un fracaso total", or "a complete flop".

I can't say that last weekend's race was "un fracaso total" because I got a PR - of sorts - out of it. But there were blips.

When I went to pick up the race packages for a couple of friends who were running, as well as my own package, I noticed that there were no timing chips handed out. I asked, "So, there's no chips?"

I was told, "No, it's an untimed race."

My first thought, which I did not voice was, "Well, isn't that a lovely oxymoron - an untimed race. Isn't the point of a race is that it is timed???" But I bit my lip.

When I got home, I checked the registration web page and they had used words like "race", "racer" and "competitor". Then, I read the material in the race package which stated that they had decided not to time this year's event, but make it a "family fun run" instead. The race pack info also said this was to be the last time they were going to hold this run, due to costs.

Being the student I am, I pick and choose my races carefully because each one costs money to enter. Needless to say, the race director got a polite but pointed e-mail that runners should have been informed of the change, so that we could make informed decisions about how to spend our money.

I was not a particularly happy camper, but I decided that since I had my Garmin, I would time myself.

On race day we lined up at the start line, the gun went off and away we went. A few minutes along my friend caught up to me and told me that the 5K route was "back there"! I was running with the 10K group. I learned later, there was a staggered start and I started with the wrong group. Then, I missed the turn-off for the 5K route (precisely because no one had turned off yet, because the 5K runners had not even started yet.)

I thought, "Screw it. I've got a Garmin. I'll stop it at 5K and that will be my time."

Now, I don't know why, but my running brain works in miles. My Garmin is set in miles. I turned it off at 3.2 miles. Turns out that's 5.15 K, not 5 K. Oh well. Anyway, my time was 27:15 for 5.15K. That's almost a 4-minute improvement since my first 5K in May. So, that's something to celebrate.

Also, because it was Halloween weekend, lots of people were dressed in costumes and it was a hoot to see them. The weather was good - dry and cool. These are also things to celebrate and enjoy.

Starting with the wrong group, missing the turn off and having to walk back to the finish line after 5K - yeah, that's the "fracaso" part.

I have decided that one of my goals for 2008 is to program my Garmin to display kilometres and (more difficult) program my brain "run in metric".

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Life zooms along...

Well, it's that time of the semester again... I'm up to my eyeballs in "stuff" - scholarship applications, conference proposals, ethics clearance application and let's not forget - my own research. I am buried, I tell you, buried in stuff!

The car got fixed and now I need to start thinking about snow tires. More financial fun!

The cat continues to get better. She still has her cone on, poor thing. I've tried taking it off, but she starts grooming compulsively and re-opens the wounded area, causing it to bleed. So, the cone stays on until she's healed.

My room mate, Gord, finally headed east to his new home in Cape Breton. So, the house is quiet. Or rather, "the house is less full of laughter". Isn't it funny how it's less likely that the house will be filled with happy laughter when you're the only one in it? I am more of a "quiet ponderer" type when left alone. Sometimes good. Sometimes not good.

In any case, I am on the hunt for a new roomie. I have been reluctant to post ads on public bulletin boards around school, hoping instead that something will come up through people I know. But I may post an ad yet. We'll see...

And now for the juicy stuff. Running! (You were expecting something else?)

I have a 5 km race this weekend, which I am looking forward to. I know, I know, I said I was not going to do any more 5 km races; they're too short. But I wanted to see if I could end the season with a better time, so we'll give it a whirl.

The marathon decision is out. Karen wins! At this point I am planning to run the Calgary Stampede marathon next July. The only possible glitch is that I may be funded to go to a conference next year around that time. And if I can get an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe, well, I'll pick another marathon. (Who wouldn't? I mean, really!) But the decision on that won't be made for several months, yet. In the meantime, I will train like I'm running in July and if I need to postpone, I will.

The other thing I've been exploring with running is how to train using heart rate as a guide. I've done a bit of reading and would like to learn more, so suggestions for Sarah's reading list are most welcome.

OK, folks, time to return this pretty little head to the books.... Will try to catch up on blogs soon. I miss you guys!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Running away from problems

I am happy to report that the cat is doing much better. She still has her cone on, but the healing is progressing very well. She still hates being showered, but so would I, in her position.

Having to deal with that little surprise caused a small dent in my bank account. Then, it got worse when I took the car in for an oil change and asked the mechanic (whom I trust) to check the leak under the car.

Was it a small leak? Well, yes, for now. Will it get worse? Yes. Is it cheap and easy to fix? No.

A "classic" problem for GM and Chrysler cars that use this stuff called "Dexcool" has finally hit my car. Aparently this Dexcool stuff corrodes the gasket of the intake manifold, eventually requiring said part to be replaced. (Aren't you impressed my mechanical vocabulary?) You can't use any other kind of coolant in cars that require Dexcool and yet the stuff basically breaks your vehicle down over time. There's been law suits over it in the U.S. I understand, but not in Canada. Anyway, now it's time for my intake manifold to be replaced. Excuse me while I cough up another $900.


These two things have me reeling. I am generally responsible with my money and I know surprises happen, but why can't they just space themselves out a little better? Being a student has its downside... the biggest one being finances, I think.

Anyway, I decided that adding a little bit of insult to injury wouldn't hurt, so I went and signed up for another half marathon (Nov. 11 - The Last Chance Half Marathon), just to distract myself and make myself feel better. I mean, these other expenses make a race fee entry seem small, in comparison.

I felt more focussed and positive after I did that. I thought, "I'm a runner. I'll cope. That's what we do."

In years past I would have stuffed my face full of junk and drowned my sorrows in pop. Now, apparently I just rust run away from my problems. :-)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Things I think about while cleaning my cat's behind...

This week started off with a trip to the vet for Princess Cone Head (the cat formerly known as "Nimbus"). I found an abscess in her hind leg on Sunday night. It was nasty.

The vet said it was about the size of a tennis ball and most of it was inside. Yummy.

This week my training has included learning such tasks as:
1) How to give a cat a pill (an exercise in will, strength and patience)
2) Hydrotheraphy (at least that's what the vet called it). The real name for it is "Giving your cat's back end a shower". That could be somewhat likened to wrestling with a tiger.

I shouldn't complain. She's a good cat. What seems to stress her out the most is not being able to wash herself at all because of the cone. She found a way to reach the last couple of inches of her tail and she purrs like a freight train when she cleans it.

I think this qualifies as "Mom duty", no??

A nice bonus is that I was able to fix up Turtle Guy with a new girl. She's a 4-month old kitten that a family had brought in to be euthanized because she scratched their baby. The folks at the vet clinic decided that at four months old there was a chance she could be socialized and trained to be less aggressive, so they asked if they could attempt to do that and re-home her. The family agreed. The vet clinic said that within a week she'd come a long way and they hoped to find her a home soon. I thought of Turtle, who lost both his cats not too long ago and next thing you know, I got a photo of his new little treasure, who has yet to be named, I understand. In any event, for sure she'll find a good home over at Turtle's.

As for running training, I've been in recovery this week, doing short, easy runs. I realized that I ran pretty hard last weekend and my legs still feel heavy. I'll go out again today, but I think I'll only do 5 miles or so.

In his last comment, Rob asked if I was going to start training for a marathon. The answer is yes.

Now, there are various other questions to answer... Which one? Where? When? How to train...?

I've started to put together a training calendar that spans several months. It's only in draft form and I'll definitely consult with a few people on it, but at least it gets me thinking about it.

I've been asking around as to what's a good marathon to run. Various answers have come in. Karen says I should do the Stampede marathon here in Calgary (so she can cheer me on, bless her heart!) Robb says I should get my butt home to Halifax and run the Blue Nose Marathon next May long weekend. Dawn has said we should train together for the marathon on Prince Edward Island next October.

My chiropractor has suggested that I consider the Okanagan International Marathon or the Royal Victoria Marathon, both in the neighboring province of British Columbia or the Portland Oregon Marathon, all of which would be exactly one year from this weekend. His reasoning is that it means I wouldn't have to do long training runs in the bitter cold of Alberta winters... and that running at lower altitudes is easier.

I am undecided. I like Karen's idea because my first half marathon in July took me over some of the same course this year. I could run the rest of the course in my training and really know what I was getting into. Besides, I like the idea of running at home and having people I know be there!

Robb's idea is my dream; to go back home and run in the city where I grew up would be thrilling! I know many of those streets, too. I could catch up with old friends and meet Robb and Running Wife, which would be very cool.

The idea of training with someone, Dawn, and going to a race together sounds like a blast! She's an experienced runner and I am guessing that I'd have a good time no matter what.

Hhhmm... Decisions, decisions.... Anyone else got any ideas??

Oh yeah, training advice and recommendations for books to read are also welcome.

What is that expression? "The journey of 26.2 miles begins with a single step," right?

Here I go...