Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last run of 2008

I went out for my last run of the year today. I did 5 miles (8 km) in crisp, but not cold air. It was only around -5 C, just below freezing. The sun was shining bright and I thought about the year to come.

So what did I do when I go home?

Registered for the marathon, of course!

Bring on 2009!!

Happy New Year, all.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Time for something new

Two and a half years ago, when I started on my fitness journey, I had a trainer who was into monitoring your heart rate while working out. I bought a Polar F4 heart rate monitor and despite the fact that the watch unit was a bit big, I loved it and I wore it all the time.

This semester, I has all but given up the ghost. It is scratched beyond the point of being decent. I've dropped it one too many times on the locker room floor, and the LCD display is now all blotchy. It constantly tells me the battery is low, even though it just got a new one a couple of months ago. It occasionally resets itsef to its orignal settings and I have to re-program it to tell it what time and date it really is. Oh yeah, and a few weeks ago, the button to do just that fell off.

I don't really need another HR monitor, since my Garmin has one. What I do need, however, is a reliable watch. It damn near broke my heart, but today I used some gift certificates and replaced my dear old Polar F4 with a Timex Ironman Sleek model for ladies in dark purple. I really love the colour!
I am nostalgic sometimes and I'm a bit sad to retire the Polar. It's been with me through so many ups and downs and has been good to me, but I'm also excited about the new watch. It's so much more feminine and just plain snazzy! I figured it was time to change things up a bit.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Northerners do it in the cold

Well, it's been bitterly cold up here - and unusually snowy, too. Boo!

Today it has warmed up. It is finally warmer than -20 C (-4 F) for the first time in about 10 days. It has been as low as -42 C (-43 F) with the wind chill. I didn't run outside that day.

In fact, I have succumbed to the treadmill twice. I haven't run in 2 days. Ugh! As I write this, it is currently -15 C (5 F). Woo hoo! I will most definitely go out for a run after this.

Just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas (or a Happy Holiday season, whichever fits best with you). Here's to a happy and healthy 2009!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Life is good

Well, I pulled off a 15-miler (24 K) this past Saturday. It was the first time since September I've done more than 13 miles, so I'm happy. Overall, my weekly mileage is gradually increasing and I'm loving it.

The downside is that I'm spending less time in the gym, but that's OK. I love running, and I'm so grateful that my legs and knees are letting me do what I love. I have learned that I have good stamina and I'm learing to appreciate it. I find this sense of tranquility out there on those long runs, alone with my iPod.

Tonight I did an easy 10K (6 miles) after school. We had a big dump of snow yesterday. The sidewalks were slippery, with ice in some spots, snow in some spots and black ice in others. There were very few spots that were very well cleared and safe. So it was slow going. But who cares? It was blissful.

Can you tell I'm feeling grateful? Yesterday I attended a funeral for the husband of a classmate. He didn't suddenly of a massive heart attack. So sad. And today is the anniversary of my Mum's death. It's been 9 years. The sharpness of the anguish has subsided, but I'm not sure the sadness will ever completely disappear. That is OK. I'm not sure I'd want it to.

Now, instead of the sadness overwhelming me, it makes me contemplative. That leads me to think about all that I have... all that I enjoy. A loving family and excellent friends top the list. Good health is up there, too. And I appreciate having the fitness level to do things like 15 mile runs when I feel like it. Really, with these things, life is pretty darned good.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Finding my way

On November 27, I turned two. On the same day in 2006 I went for my first, full 30 minute run, after having tried and been sidelined by injuries for over a year. In September 2006 I started on a walk/run program that had me running non-stop for 30 minutes on November 27.

And so, that weekend (which also happened to be the weekend I celebrated my "real" birthday), I spent the day with many friends enjoying a variety of activities, including, of course, running!

This fine trio of Karen, Jason and Carla spent 45 minutes with me enjoying the river pathways, under a bright blue sky and sun shine. Karen had baked some muffins which we enjoyed after the run.

The rest of the day was also filled with many activities, laughs and good times. I am so thankful to have so many wonderful people in my life.

It makes me sad to think that I may have to leave all this, and the many people who are near and dear to my heart, just to find a job. That is a reality I have been trying to face as I apply for jobs in the U.S. I haven't even started to look in other countries yet, but it is coming, I'm sure.

I am trying to focus more on the possibilities of good things that I do not yet know exist and be open to the adventure of it all. But I am not so easy to uproot, I must confess.

I'm sure I'll find my way eventually. One step at a time, as always...

And speaking of steps, running has been super as of late. The long runs are getting easier and the short runs are getting a bit faster. I've been running for 2 years now and I feel like I'm starting to find my legs.

That probably sounds strange, doesn't it? I've been experimenting over the past few months with my form. I experiment with how I plant my foot when I land, trying to be lighter on my feet, trying to increase my cadence and decrease my upper body movement. The results have been a few aches and pains, a mildly tweaked hamstring for a few days, but overall, a joy in discovering new ways of running. My speed seems a little faster and in general, things feel less "clunky". I am learning to tap into the power of my legs to move me forward.

I'm not exactly sure what I was doing before, since running is all about legs and feet to start with. I just know it feels a bit different now. It is still hard work, but less... struggle, at least in a physical sense.

Something Leslie said about trail running after the Death Race has stuck with me. She talked about dancing over the tree roots and rocks. I have thought about the dancing analogy a lot and have tried to incorporate lightness and playfulness into my running. It has helped! There is more joy and less struggle now.

With the snow and ice on the ground now, I dance around patches of ice on the sidewalks and pathways. I think about all parts of my body moving in synch, with my steps offering a rhythm to move me forward. Sometimes I speed up. Sometimes I slow down. However it happens, it feels light and free!

These days I am depending on my legs for that feeling of lightness and freedom. It helps to keep my soul at peace as I find my way into unchartered territory.