The Child of a Runner.

Me: How was school?
11 yr old son: Good. We had Cross Country. I trained a guy.
Me: You did what?
11 yr old son: I was Jack’s personal trainer.
Me: Tell me more.
11 yr old son: Well, we had to do laps around the school. He went out way too fast and had to walk. I caught up to him and told him he had to pace himself and told him to run with me. So he did. We ran together. And we finished 2nd. John beat us but not by much.

Day 2
Me: How was school?
11 yr old son: Good. We had cross country again. This time I got a whole bunch of guys to run with me. I told them the key was to pace themselves. I was *this* close to beating my record yesterday but the teacher blew the whistle when I was 5 ft away from the end so we had to stop. I finished second again. John won again.
Me: You should have ditched the guys and sprinted. You could have been first.
11 yr old son: Whaa?? No way man. And leave my friends? That’s cheap.
Me: No, that’s competition.

Apparently the training that my kid did for his 5K race 18 months ago stuck. That’s cool. While I’m slightly disappointed that my progeny doesn’t have a competitive bone in his body right now, I think that in today’s environment where competition -> greed -> shareholder value is ripping apart our economy/the fabric of our society, his desire to help others instead of helping himself is a good thing. The fact that he wants to help others succeed at running? That’s AMAZING.

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Boondoggle, Beaches, Beasts and Bracelets; How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Summer’s over folks.  Today was the First Day Back To School.  In honour of that, I’ve revived that famous September essay topic:

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Boondoggle Square Zipper Pull

Boondoggle

This was the summer my 8 yr old was introduced to boondoggle aka gimp/gymp. She quickly learned that there were many different styles (square is so yesterday Mom!) and wanted to try them all. By “try them”, I mean choose the colours and have me start it, then she would work 3-5 levels and hand it back for me to finish. My son was interested but he had decided this was a gender specific activity and he was the wrong gender. He would work a row or two and then dismiss it as a girl thing. Bummer…I could have used an extra set of hands.

This is the life!

Beaches

We headed out to the East Coast for our vacation this year. We had such a great time in Prince Edward Island a few years ago that we decided to go back. If you’ve never been, you should go. It’s absolutely beautiful. The dirt really is red! The people are fabulous and the beaches are stunning. We stayed inside the PEI National Park. Our morning commute was a short walk across a road, over a sand dune and voila: the beach.

The view on my morning run.

Wee Jellyfish: Before

Wee Jellyfish: After

That's not Jello!

See if you can find: seaweed (2 kinds), shells (oyster, clam and quahog), crab legs and rocks.

Beasts!

I always find ocean beaches to be more interesting than lake beaches. This year the Atlantic didn’t disappoint. Jellyfish, crab parts, shells, odd bits of lobsters and a dead sea bird were some of our finds. Dead jellyfish feel like partly melted Jello, in case you were wondering.

One dinner plate sized jelly tore in half when a parent picked it up. Apparently the habitat the kids built for it wasn’t enough to keep it alive. 10 mins later all the kids on the beach had a piece of it.

Bracelets

We returned back home and the kids went back to camp for the last few weeks of summer. New counselors brought new ideas and friendship bracelets were introduced. I was a late bloomer when it comes to friendship bracelets. For the sake of brevity, let’s just say I inherited a tonne of embroidery floss in my early twenties and my university roommate schooled me in the art of knot-tying. When my daughter raved about them two weeks ago, I pulled out my stash which included some finished bracelets. Her her eyes lit up. Fast forward a few weeks and we had 4 new bracelets, happy kids and the end of Summer.

Designs from top to bottom: Chevron, the Fish, Zig Zag

My Marathon Story

Step back in the way-back time machine with me and let’s take a ride back to May. It’s the end of the month and we’re in Ottawa for Race Weekend. Specifically, we’re there for the Marathon.

Training had progressed fairly well. I was enjoying the long runs, feeling strong and really amazed at the distances that I was able to cover. Two weeks before the race, I felt a little twinge on the outside of my right knee. It felt suspiciously like my IT band. I had issues with that many moons ago and all had been well ever since I acquired a foam roller. By the end of this training run, I could barely walk up the stairs. My knee was t-i-g-h-t tight.

I had committed to a 5K mother-daughter race on the following day. I managed to pull it off but I don’t know how and in hindsight (isn’t hindsight awesome?) it was probably the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. After the race I took advantage of the free massage/phys. therapy and let someone work the crap out of my leg.

Training was fine for the week. I was tapering off. I headed out for a 16K run and at 13 I had to pull the plug. I had shooting pain down my leg with every step. Did I mention the race was 7 days away? I started hunting like crazy for an RMT/athletic therapist who could see me. I found one but only managed to be seen once before the race. He confirmed my issue was my ITB. He worked it a bit and pronounced me fit for the race. I rested a lot during the week. I was nervous.

Fast forward to race day. The start was gloomy but dry. The weather forecast had waffled between “it will/won’t rain for the race” and there was still no clear indication of what we were in store for. The energy was great and the pre-race scene was exciting. And then, we’re off! Looking good, feeling good!

Run, run, run. Rain, rain, rain. Rain? Buckets of rain. Rain dripping off the brim of my hat. Rain being wrung out of my shirt. Rain running down my body. I don’t mind a little rain. This was not a little rain.

At the 26k mark I couldn’t ignore my ITB any more. I had felt it earlier and convinced myself it was whispering to me and not singing loudly. I stopped at a medic table and asked for ibuprofen (yes, I know, you’re not supposed to take ibuprofen while you run but I was desperate). The kind woman replied that they had acetaminophen only. She handed me two. I said “Extra strength?” She said “No, I’ll give you 3”. There was a much younger, very fit looking guy there who was obviously experiencing pain in his calf. At the mention of 3 pills for me, he stood up and said “3? You only gave me 2!” and stuck out his hand. It was pretty funny at the time.

At the 36K mark I had to stop unexpectedly. My veil of anonymity on this blog has been removed and in the interest of being able to look co-workers in the eye, I’ve censored this part. Suffice to say that everyone I’ve told about this incident has stated that if this happened to them, they would have called it quits at this point. So you know whatever it was, it was unpleasant and added to the existing challenges I was facing.

When I was able to start moving again, the stop had damn near crippled me. Trying to get my legs to move was impossible without incurring screeching pain. I never doubted that I would finish the race. At this point I realized it was just a matter of how long it was going to take to make it through that last 6k. I wound up walking with sporadic attempts to run that ended almost as quickly as they started. 45 mins longer than my estimated “worst finish time”, I finished. It was done. It had stopped raining. Go figure.

Some highlights:
– running in the rain for 5+ hours makes clothing that is normally comfortable, uncomfortable. A step into the shower revealed undiscovered chafing (heart rate strap (front and back), waistband) and drew out one loud yelp.
– the crowd at the 30K cheering station were AMAZING! The MC called out my name and the whole crowd called out my name. I was still running strongly at this point and the crowd’s energy rolled off me. It was really terrific.
– Best signage includes: “Worst Parade EVER!”, “You’re not even CLOSE to being finished” which was posted at the 5K mark and one sign addressed to someone’s wife stating “That’s not rain, that’s the clouds crying because you’re kicking so much ass” actually made me tear up. I’m such a wuss.

Would I do this again? Part of me doesn’t hesitate in answering. Yes, yes I would. How could I not? That finishing time was horrible! Plus, just imagine the PR I could set. How often can you knock an hour+ off your time? And there’s no way everything that went wrong could possibly happen again. That was the perfect storm of challenges. I faced that and survived; I can face anything now. The other part says, um, I don’t know. It was either the training or the race or the injury or some combination thereof but I’ve had a hell of a time getting back into running since then. I signed up for a half at the end of Sept. I’m on track training-wise to finish it but don’t anticipate setting any speed records. Let’s see how that turns out and then I’ll make decisions about trying this again.

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