Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wacky Wednesday

The other night, I crawled into bed just after midnight.  We were still enjoying the hot summer temperatures so our bedroom window was still open. 
"Eww, what smells?" I asked.  I jumped out of bed to close all of the windows, thinking that one of our neighbourhood skunks was letting his presence be known.  But as I neared the window, I realized that it wasn't a skunk smell.  Disgusted, I crawled back into bed.
"Is that you?" I asked my husband.
"Yes, it is."  I was convinced it was him.  "Did you shower before going to bed?"
"No, you did not.  You absolutely stink."  I wasn't thrilled about having to wash the sheets the next morning.
"It's not me," Dave replied.  "I showered."
"Then what is it?"
Out of bed again, I marched into the bathroom to see if the skunky smell was coming from the backyard and, sure enough, I found it.  I closed the door and crawled back into bed.
"Never mind," I said.  "It's just my running gear from my workout."

How do you protect your clothes from the "sweaty" smell?  Do you use a sports detergent like Sport Suds?  I use Tide Pods but am starting to think that a sports detergent may be in order.  What tricks do you have to prolong the life of your gear?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Making It Work

Some days, it is easy to get through the "to do" list; others, it seems just plain impossible.  On those days, cutting out my run seems like the most logical thing to do.  However, when that happens, I get angry at myself, feel uptight until I get my next workout in and am simply crankier around the house.  My run, then, is rarely missed - unless kids get in the way.

My boys are my priority.  With back to school this month, I've had less time with them.  I realized the impact that this had on LI the other morning when he said, "I like it when you drive us to school because it means we get to have some time together."  Wow!  Those words made it clear that I need to spend more time with the family.  The question, though, is "How?"  How do I work, run, get all of the household tasks done and still have some time set aside with the family?  What has to go?

Nothing.  Life is full of compromises and give and take.  And life is about balance.  Somehow, some way, everything will get done if I juggle things carefully.  Last night was a good example.

My husband was away overnight and Saturday was filled with "kids' stuff", which meant I couldn't run until evening.  By the time we got home, it was 6:00 and the boys needed dinner.  Daylight running time was becoming shorter and my motivation to run was quickly dropping.  I looked at both boys and asked, "Do you want me to do my long run tonight or tomorrow morning?"  I really was hoping for a couple of mama's boys who wanted a quiet Saturday night together.  Instead I got, "I'd prefer that you do it tonight."  The other agreed, "Yeah, tonight.  We're good."

And that was the kick that I needed.  I could have made the decision not to run but I did get it done, albeit at the unusual time of Saturday night.  But the boys realized that I need that time to get out; they knew how important that run was for me.  So I changed, laced up and ran a comfortable, carefree ten miles.  And when I got home, they were "good".

When I think about making time for the things that matter, it can be done.  All you need is (1) a goal to do it, (2) commitment or determination and (3) support from others.  Luckily for me, I have all three.

Looking back, though, I do wonder: just why did they prefer that I run?  Hmmmm....

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Packing Lunches

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved going back to school.   The last days of August were filled with the excitement of seeing friends again, getting new pencils and other school supplies and, if I was lucky, buying new shoes to replace the ones that I outgrew during the summer.  I suppose that actually liking school itself also made going back special.

And now, decades later, I still get excited about back to school.  I can see my friends again, get new school supplies but, instead of shopping for new shoes for me, I end up buying them for the boys.  As an adult, though, there is one thing that I really don't enjoy during this time of year: packing lunches.

Skipper and Little Ironman are picky eaters; they come by it naturally.  Unless I put thought and time into their lunches, they are bound to come back home nearly or completely untouched.   Mornings, then, are often spent cooking pasta or rice, baking breads and snacks, and chopping fruit.  Little Ironman has to have goldfish in his and Skipper looks forward to chocolate in any shape or form.  The list of "refusals" is huge.

The boys are getting fairly reasonable lunches, but they are admittedly boring.  This fall, I am going through recipe books and websites in search of new ideas to fuel the dudes' brains.  You can be sure that I'll be sharing new favorites here.

Meanwhile, if you have a favorite recipe of your kiddos, share it in the comments below.  We'd love to give it a try.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Importance of "The Back of the Pack"

Last weekend, my husband and I headed to Guelph, Ontario so that he could participate in the Guelph Tri II.  Now Hubs is not a hotshot tri-head; he likes to participate and he likes to have fun.  At this race, he made a last minute decision to do the Sprint course instead of the try-a-tri and his goal was to finish.  My job was to cheer him on.
We decided that while Dave was warming up and in the water, I should use the time for my own run.  I got back too late to see him head out on the bike, but I was there to cheer him back in - and I did loudly as he came in at the back of the pack, smiling through the transition area.  We expected that his run would be slow and it was but he crossed the finish line smiling, feeling good about himself.  Time didn't matter; personal success did.  Goal accomplished.
This post is not about my husband's success, though.  It is about the attitude towards new triathletes that was conveyed at the event (and, as such, this applies to new participants in duathlons, road-racing and trail racing).  I am referring to specifically to one conversation that Dave had with a man from a respected Ontario triathlon club who had the nerve to say "Some people just don't belong here."  It takes a lot for me to say nothing.  This time, I was speechless.
I was completely dumbfounded by this comment.  He had a medal around his neck for placing in his age group, but it's quite likely that he didn't always place.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  Yes, people may have been slow in the water, on the road or during the run but they were outside and moving.  They were doing something positive for themselves.  I'm pretty sure that it is safe to say that they didn't just wake up in the morning and say, "Hmmm, I think I'll race a triathlon today."  They spent weeks, perhaps months, getting ready for it.  They set a fitness goal and would have had to follow a healthy lifestyle to achieve it. 
Secondly, have you ever considered that our tax dollars are being spent on smokers and other addicts who are supported by our health care system?   Some "newbies" were once a part of this group.  Some were also overweight and their cardiovascular health was at risk, again creating a burden on health care.  Slow?  Maybe.  But not belonging?  Absolutely, they do belong.  They are helping society; they are giving our government a few extra dollars to put towards medical research and development and towards those people who are suffering from tumours, cancer, Alzheimers and other illnesses.
We should also consider the economy of the triathlon.  When more and more people participate in the sport, products become more available to purchase and less expensive for everyone.  Wetsuits, for example, use to cost a small fortune.  Now they are cheaper and much easier to find.  The registration fee for a triathlon would be much higher if there weren't as many participating (for example, think about the number of paid-duty officers needed and how much they have to be paid).  It is simple economics: the more participants there are, the overall cost of the event per participant decreases so the registration fee can stay lower. Putting on a triathlon puts money into the economy in other ways; jobs are created and money goes towards charities.  And, again, the more who participate, the more jobs and funding become available.  So why wouldn't you want to encourage people to "try" a triathlon.
These athletes also show commitment, a valuable trait to possess.  Our society has hundreds of people who simply cannot stick with something that they started and that carries into other areas of their lives, such as jobs and relationships.  When someone makes a commitment to something like a triathlon (or training for another race), they are more likely to see successes in other aspects of their lives.
Lastly, when more people race, there are more likely to be awards which correspond to the numbers.  For example, bigger events will have 5-year age groups but small ones will only have 10-year age groups; I've even seen some with a 20 year spread.  So at the Guelph Lake Tri II, where there were lots and lots of participants, more were able to walk away with medals around their necks.  Sadly, the guy who had the nerve to say "They just don't belong here"  was also wearing one; yes, he worked for it but the sheer numbers of people behind him gave him the chance to brag about his age group win at the office the following Monday.
Everyone has to start somewhere.  Think about your first race.  How did you compare to others then and where are you now?   Because you are answering this question, you realized that you do belong. Anyone who is willing to make the commitment - to do take on a new challenge, try something new and improve themselves - absolutely should be there.   There are so many benefits, whether it is from training, participating or racing, that it is a win-win. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

The "O" Word

For me, one of the toughest parts of aging is the physical aches and pains that come with it, especially when it comes to running.  This past year has been especially tough in that regard.  Since the marathon in May, it seemed that I was always complaining about something - my foot, my hip, hamstrings, glute - and every week had a different flavour.  The constant nagging of something not feeling right was one of the reasons I volunteered to take time off at the beginning of July.

In August, after a month of lower mileage (about 40 kilometres per week), my foot continued to scream at me.  I saw my physiotherapist, who commented on a huge callous forming ("I've seen callouses on your feet before but nothing like this," she told me), and suggested seeing a chiropodist to have it looked after. 

Last week,  I went to a foot clinic, fearing the worst.  I worried that they would think there was a fracture or a break, something that would mean staying off my feet for a few months.  The chiropodist spent a few minutes stretching and manipulating both of my feet and asked a few questions of my running and the aches that my foot gave me.  And, then, I got the news.
"Your second and third metatarsals have dropped.  We can fix that with orthotics."

I did not see that coming at all.  "Really?" I thought. "I've been sitting here for less than 5 minutes and you want me to drop $500 on orthotics.  Don't you think you could, at least, schmooze me a bit first?  At least, give me 7 or 8 minutes."  Instead, I bit my tongue.  "I don't want orthotics," I replied.

And I don't.  It has nothing to do with the cost (but I have to admit that it does have me thinking twice).  I just don't want them.  I had them 2 years ago and they were heavy; they slowed me down and my glutes were always tight.  I got rid of them and my feet and legs started to feel much better.  I tried to explain this to her but she countered, "They aren't that heavy.  Lots of runners wear them.  You won't even notice them."

But I will.  I asked about doing other things, such as watching my mileage, making sure my shoes were always supportive (mine had worn out in June), working regularly with my physiotherapist and having my calloused feet pampered every 5 weeks or so.  I will do whatever it takes to stay out orthotics.

I do realize that most of the aches and pains that I've been feeling stem from the dropped metatarsals.   And, yes, I know that I need to do something but to jump right into orthotics without trying simpler methods first does not make any sense to me.  So I am going to try all of the above and, if I don't see any progress by the beginning of December, then and only then, will I consider orthotics.

How many of you wear orthotics?  Who has worn them but got rid of them?  Why?  Tell me your story, please.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wacky Wednesday: My Junior Designer

I love my running skirts.  I've worn them for years and never tire of them, never think about going back to shorts.  Running skirts by Running are comfortable, feel great and are fashionable.  Mine also double as work clothes when I coach track and cross-country at school as I can wear them in class and easily get to practice quickly at lunch without worrying about having to change.  So I was devastated a few weeks ago when the little dude asked, "Mom, when you run with me, do you have to wear a skirt because it's kind of weird - you know, running in a skirt?"  It's a good thing that I was speechless or I would have grounded him.
On Saturday, though, the dude suddenly turned his thinking around when I got back from my run in the original camo skirt.  "Mom, wait there!  Look at your skirt!" 
"Oh oh," I thought.  "Here it comes again."
"It looks like Minecraft!"   He looked closely at the skirt, pointed to the different sections and added, "See.  It's just like the blocks in Minecraft!  That is so cool." 
He was absolutely fixated by the style and had to show me on the computer.  "Look at the blocks.  They're the same.  Mom!  It's a Minecraft Skirt!"
Clever kid.  His sense of fashion suddenly expanded to women's running gear (and, in the process, redeemed him from his senseless comment weeks earlier). That night, he put together the visual above to compare the two and explain the new name.   It looks he may have a future in marketing. 
And, by the way, he still lets me wear a skirt when I run with him.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lighting the Spark Again

There must come a time in every runner's life when the motivation simply isn't there.  It could be a cold winter day or a busy day at work that keeps us from running.  It could be children who need help with homework or ride to a soccer game that gives us the excuse we need not to run.  

And, sometimes, we realize that we just need to take a break from it all.  That was me this summer.   I was tired from work, busy with family and frustrated that I wasn't running the way I wanted to be.  My times were slow and my body was hurting - not as in an injury sense but in the "not feeling right" sense.  For whatever reason, my head wasn't in the game. I shut down.

There was only one thing that made sense: to close for maintenance.  Taking time off would give me the physical and mental rest that I needed and it opened up my day so that I had more time for my family.  At the beginning of July, and oddly enough at my favorite time of year to run, I hung up my shoes and turned to gentle cross-training.  Two weeks later, I returned to my club's Monday night workout and that Thursday night, I raced a 5K - not a stellar performance but a respectable time (21:05) and enough to keep me running.  However, I still wasn't ready to throw myself back into it and, since  I wasn't 100% ready, I continued with my maintenance: 3 or 4 runs a week, and nothing longer than 12K.

A few weeks ago, I went to Brantford, Ontario to race the Carrotfast 5K.  Oddly enough, even though I had not pushed myself throughout the summer and did not have a lot of speedwork behind me, I still had visions of a strong race - and that I did.  But my time was slower than it was a month earlier, about 40 seconds over.  While it's true that you can't compare times on two different courses, I did.  But that became the spark I needed, the motivation to push myself again - to set concrete goals and work towards achieving them.

Over the past few weeks, with the support of my family and the help of my coach, I'm mentally back to where I was a few months ago.  My mileage is climbing back up and I'm excited about running and racing.   I'm looking forward to a few road races and cross-country this fall, and I have eyes set on a spring marathon.  I'm back to chasing my dreams.