Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Broken Dream Sprained Ankle

In need of your collective sympathy as I did a nasty wipe out this afternoon as I was heading out for my first outside run in Saskatoon. Luckily I was close enough to home to get back in the house and call Kathy to take me to emergency. I ended up with a badly sprained ankle that will take a number of weeks/months to heal and for me to get back on the trail again. I had my camera in my purse and once nurse Bonnie gave me some much needed painkillers and wrapped up my ankle, Kathy took this picture of "the end of the trail." The doctor said that he wasn't sure if there was any ligament damage so if the swelling and pain gets worse by tomorrow I have to go back to emergency. I remember about 25 years ago with Dan Salminen (who will now take me out for a 300 mile dinner with crutches) twisted his ankle and ended up with torn ligaments. This reminded me of that and I hope I don't have to go through what he did. However, I have Kathy and my neighbors on call to take me to emergency if  it gets worse. I'll send an update tomorrow. I love my great friends! For those of you who I didn't get to run with, next year!!!

The 1000  mile dream is a bust guys! But I guess I can still make soup!

Monday, March 30, 2009

My cool new running socks!

Ran three miles yesterday in Orlando in the rain (photo above). It was a nice relaxing run with a light drizzle. Later Skender and I got caught in pouring rain walking from the breakfast restaurant back to our hotel.  We were very sad to end our vacation but happy to arrive home. Skender told me this morning that he had tears on his pillow when he woke up because he missed the cruise ship so much. If he had things his way we'd forget about school and work and just travel around on different cruise ships! 

I ran four miles today at the gym. I decided it is still too icy and wet for me to run outside, maybe tomorrow. I am now at 307 miles. I find that starting a new 100 miles is the most difficult period to keep motivated to run. It feels like starting all over again however, once I get a few miles behind me I feel much better. Wore my new Just Tri-it red and yellow triathlon socks today (picture above). Pretty cool huh??? They were great to run in and I took the opportunity to show them off to Cathy and Daryl Moat who were at the gym...I think I heard them laugh as I walked away :) ??? Truthfully, I looked like some kind of goofy running geek, but despite this, I loved the socks. 

Added a few new pictures from our trip. Skender dressed up like a cowboy and had his picture taken. Pretty mean looking guy huh? Actually he looks exactly like my second brother Grant when he was that age. It is so funny how much they are alike. The other photos are of our mini jeep and snorkeling trip. No pictures of us snorkeling but a few others from the rest of the trip.  
For those people following my blog, please join us for celebration drinks for the first 300 miles! We plan to go to Amigos around 5;30 this Friday for nachos and beer. 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

300 Miles!

I have been running all week during our vacation and Thursday passed the 300 mile mark! It was a seven mile run partially on the deck of the cruise ship (the running track is at the back of the ship but unfortunately most days it was too windy to run outside) and the rest on the treadmill in the gym (a little wobbly because of the rough sea). We celebrated with champagne at dinner (group shot of our nightly dinner partners). Skender and I had a great vacation with stops in Cozumel, Mexico, Belize City, Belize, Costa Maya, Mexico and Nassau, Bahamas. The cruise experience was pretty amazing in some ways and in other ways made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I think Skender and I both gained about 10 pounds because the food was wonderful, this despite all the running and other activities that we did. The highlight of the trip for both of us was the snorkeling, which we managed to do twice (the third excursion was canceled because of the high winds). We also did a mini jeep tour in Cozumel which was great. We didn't meet very many people, partially because I didn't feel all that social and just wanted to relax and hang out with Sken. We did a lot of things during the day together and at night Sken went to the children's camp and I went to the shows. We did meet one person from Saskatoon, Carrie (in the group photo above). We also met a young guy from Peru who plans to come visit us in Saskatoon and has told us that if we want to travel to Peru he can help arrange things for us. I hiked the Inca trail in the mid 80s and fell in love with Peru so we may just take him up on the offer. Lima, Peru is a wonderful South American city and the rest of Peru is beautiful. The people are very friendly and the cultures of Peru are incredible. 

Our favorite place on our trip was Costa Maya, which felt like a place we could go and live for a couple months (too bad we have that job and school thing to worry about). The beaches, as you can see are beautiful and the Mexican people as always are wonderful. We also liked Belize and snorkeled on the reef near Belize City. Skender and I wandered around Belize City a little. It is the kind of city I love, busy, tons of people, and interesting architecture. However, I have to admit that while in the past I would not have worried much about making my way around the downtown, traveling with a child made me a bit apprehensive so we didn't wonder around as much as I would have liked. Also, Skender seemed to be oblivious to the traffic which was a bit unnerving. We are still in Orlando and I hope to take a morning run tomorrow AM before we fly back in the afternoon. Any chance the weather has improved since we left? 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Running on Empty

I ran 5 miles today (270 total). It was a difficult run because I had no energy and felt some muscle pain. I really do need a holiday!!!! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

265 miles!

I ran 10 miles today. It was a really comfortable run and my pace is getting quicker. I'm trying to make 300 miles by the end of March which maybe difficult given my plan to rest and relax for a week. I'm going to try and run when we are away however running will be a low priority as this trip is really about giving myself some time to catch my breath and forget about deadlines, goals and life in general.  

Monday, March 16, 2009

Skender's update

Hi it's Skender! I'm writing my mom's blog today. She ran about 5 miles.So now she has 255 miles out of 1000! Now i will let my mom type bye. 

Short run today because I was rushing to fit it in. Sken and I are patiently waiting to leave on our cruise. We leave Friday afternoon for Orlando and our ship sails Saturday afternoon. Hopefully by the time we get back spring will be here!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Blue Poppy

Day off today. It was nice enough to go for a run outside but I had a terrible sleep last night and I felt too tired to even attempt a short run. It looks like we are finally moving towards spring. The sun came out today and the temperature climbed above zero for at least part of the day. As the snow begins to disappear I can see the tops of some of the vines in my garden. With the exception of a few plants, my garden is full of a new mob of dwarfs, giants and climbers, some that travelled with me from Montreal, now in their second Saskatchewan home, a few from the gardens of family, friends and even a couple generous strangers, and of course, a few (well maybe more than a few) from various green houses across the country. I planted and mulched with the coldest of winters in mind, and I have been patiently waiting for spring to arrive so I can see the masterpiece (or more likely, the crazy jungle) that I have created. 

Tucked away in a shady spot of my garden is a tiny flower that finds its natural home in the Himalayan Mountains. My pretty Blue Poppy is the one little flower that I have worried about these wintery months. When I planted it I tried my best to find the perfect place that would give it the best chance to adapt to the climate and strengthen its root system so it could fight its way through what I knew would be a difficult winter. If it survives, than I have a second chance to nurture it for a few months more before winter makes another assault. It may sound strange to some, but to a gardener it is the most fragile beauties that steal our hearts, give us hope when they reveal even the smallest spring shoots and provide us such simple pleasure with their soft and mystical blooms. So while I continue to make my way to the 1000 mile mark, keep your fingers crossed not only for me but also for my special beautiful blue poppy. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

250 miles!

Ran eight miles today! I am now a quarter of the way through my 1000 miles, two weeks earlier than I need to be.  It was a bit of a let down having to run on the treadmill after running along the ocean in Victoria. I might try an outside run tomorrow. The running trails are clear (but icy in certain areas) and I'm tired of running indoors. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Victoria makes "the list"

Ran 6.7 miles (242 miles total) this AM with Drs. Robert Levy-Powell (in the blue) and Mazen Elchami (in the red). Looking at my running photographs I think I'm looking a little too much like a Montreal runner, way too much black. I may need to jazz things up for future photos. It was a very fun run on a beautiful clear morning. We stopped at Mile Zero for a couple minutes, the place where Terry Fox was to finish his cross-Canada run. The statue of Terry Fox is very powerful, an image of determination and physical and inner strength. He was such a young guy when he died yet his life and legacy gave so much in so many ways to the people of this country. 

I fell in love with Victoria. It was the first time I had spent a few days there (well except for the time I was deported from Australia and ended up on my friend Tracy's couch for a few days before catching a train back to Saskatchewan...but that is another story).  While I love Vancouver, Victoria has a slower pace and not that big city bustle about it. I love large cities and have been known to contribute to bustle when given the chance, but at this point in my life, I only like to visit, not live in, big city craziness.  Because I have only eight years to stay in Saskatoon before Skender graduates I have started a list of cities I'd like to move to to finish off my career. Victoria is now on my list along with Halifax, Nova Scotia, Charlotte Town, PEI. and Perth, Australia.  Apart from my years of traveling I have never lived in a coastal city, something I must do for at least a few years.  
So what am I reading these days? Well I am part way through Amerika: The missing person by Franz Kafka. It was completed in 1914 but was published posthumously by his literary executor. I love how different this genre of writing is from what I have been reading lately. I have to finish it up before we go on holidays so I can trade it in for a smaller and lighter novel for my trip. A secret I haven't revealed is that my bed is currently sitting on stacks of books (I couldn't get the bottom platform up the stairs in my new house so ended up using fiction to prop up the split mattress. Pretty smart huh? :) When new books come into my life they generally end up under my bed, I take them out to read and then upon completion return them for their second duty. However, this being said, I would LOVE for someone to recommend novels from the countries we will be visiting next week on our cruise (Mexico, Belize and the Bahamas). English translations of course! 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Busy conference day

Day off running today. Spent most of the day at the conference. In general my presentation went well. There were about sixty people and we had approximately 40 minutes for questions and discussion afterwards. I ran into a number of people that I knew and met some really cool new people. I have to admit that I have not been feeling my usual energetic self the past few weeks and at the end of my presentation I was absolutely exhausted. I keep thinking that in only a few days Skender and I will be relaxing on our cruise and I can forget about work, winter and all of the other things that are on my mind. I can't wait to see Skender discover snorkeling in the ocean. He is going to be amazed and because he is like a fish himself, it will be a ton of fun for him. 

I decided to run tomorrow AM with two colleagues from Nunavut and Prince George both formally from Montreal.  The weather is suppose to get worse but I'm hoping that won't be until later in the day.  I always worry when I run with new people that I won't be able to keep up. It is no fun when this happens, however people are generally very kind to adjust to a slower run. With one of the guys being 6'4'', I estimate two of my strides for every one of his, so most likely I have a bit of a challenge in front of me tomorrow. Don't you think he should have to run backwards to balance things out! 

The pictures above are of a group of very special and talented women who work tirelessly as front-line workers, researchers, advocates and clinicians to help women struggling with substance abuse problems. They come from different parts of the country and I had the pleasure of being in their company Thursday night at a meeting of their network. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sun, Sea and Samosas

Arrived in Victoria, B.C. this afternoon. It was -30C when I left this AM. According to the locals it was"only 4C" here but to me it felt like a warm summer day. My room wasn't ready when I arrived (they upgraded it to a harbour view! A little gift from the Gods), so I decided to go for a run straight away.  I ran 6 miles (236 miles) along the ocean (Dallas Road for those of you who know Victoria). It is my first time running in Victoria and it was amazing. Just what I needed to clear my head and nourish my struggling soul. There is something very special about the ocean, how truly peaceful and comforting it is, not to mention the spectacular mountains in the background. To have both in view is definitely a treat for a prairie girl.

The run felt great. I  hit my stride at 5 miles and felt like I could run forever. It was such a great experience  that I even stopped and asked a complete stranger to take a picture of me with the ocean in the background and to later e-mail it to me. It turns out the stranger is also a presenter at the conference. He is part of a group from Seattle, Washington, a group which now thinks I'm a bit crazy (established fact). They seemed pretty amused. I also know all the door men at the Empress.  They cheered me on as I left for my run (well maybe not cheering but smiling, taking pictures of me {my request :)} and giving me directions where to run). They were also waiting with cold water when I returned :), not to mention they carried my bags to my room (OK, I know that's their job). 

The view from my room is spectacular as you can see from the photos. The Empress is probably one of the prettiest and most majestic hotels in the country. Simply grand and I think they still serve high tea in the afternoons. Something I plan to explore tomorrow.

I attended a reception this evening for the presenters. It was wonderful to see colleagues from all over the country. I also found at least two people who plan to run with me tomorrow afternoon. I did my Peter Seller's routine at the reception, flipping a samosa right out of the end of a pair of serving tongs, high in the air, just as the host was making his welcome speech. I know! But I was really really hungry after my run and how disruptive could one little samosa be? Apparently when airborne they can be quite an attention grabber. "Oh, look who's here?" "Finally, in conclusion, let me just say this. Ta dah!" And that was just today's spectacular performance, wait until I legitimately have the room! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

230 miles!

I think it was the coldest day of the year today AND it is March! Everyone looked so demoralized this morning at the coffee shop. Old man winter definitely has the upper hand, a guest that has really overstayed his welcome. 

I ran six miles today, a good way to end a very busy and stressful day. Off to Victoria, B.C. tomorrow morning to present at a conference on fetal alcohol syndrome. I'm presenting my ethical framework idea which I hope will give people a new way to think about the way we engage vulnerable populations in government funded health care programming. Yes, believe it or not I really do think I can make a difference! An idealist or just very naive? Or possibly the eternal optimist because I so badly want to believe that government bureaucracies are not inherently immoral monsters driven by politics and economic bottom lines alone. In simpler terms, I'm trying to shame the government into being a moral thinking monster...kind of like Shrek! 

I can't wait to go for a run in warmer weather. I'm staying at the beautiful Empress Hotel, what a treat! I have been told that there is a wonderful trail close by the hotel. I'm hoping to have a nice long run by myself and also to convince a few of my colleagues to join me for a leisurely spring run. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

224 miles!

Had a very good run today, managed to get 8 miles in before picking Skender up. I am dreaming of running in Victoria later this week. It is so cold here, -25C right now and it is expected to dip down even lower tonight. Will spring ever get here? 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Which hat was it?

Day off running today however the controversy continues. If you have been following the comments over the past few days between my family members about our trip (28 not 32 years ago as first thought) to the southwest US and our van breaking down in Albuquerque, you'll know there are differing opinions about a hat that went missing. My question is, which hat? So I dug up all the photographs I could find and found not one, but several hats. No stuffed squirrels mind you, but some pretty fancy hats. No wonder the loss was so great :)

Back to running again tomorrow! Still too cold for me to run outside, hopefully by next week. 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lance Armstrong almost spoke to me today!

Ran 12.21 miles today (216 total). My longest run!!!! Imagine my anticipation as I ended my run and listened tentatively for Lance Armstrong to once again congratulate me on another "longest run." However, as luck would have it my ipod battery died at the very moment Lance was about to sing my praises :)  Next time a charged battery and 12.3 miles! My run was great today. The consistent training is making it easier and my leg feels like it is completely healed.  

A chilly reception last night from old man winter as I hopped in a cab and headed home from the airport. I hate coming home to a cold empty house! I was so tired but couldn't sleep, couldn't read anymore, didn't feel like T.V., so I tossed and turned well into the night.  

The picture above is of three of my colleagues and friends, Drs. Jane Freemantle (Australia), Janet Smylie (Toronto) and Sue Crengle (New Zealand). It was wonderful to see them in Albuquerque even if we only had a brief time to catch up.  The other two pictures are of beautiful Albuquerque. I fell in love with New Mexico and I think someday will take a trip to drive the historical Route 66 which goes from Chicago to Los Angelos. Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are the states that you drive through. I have been on this highway at different points a different times. Some of the most beautiful landscapes in North America. 

Someone asked me today about how I can afford to travel so much with my work. Well, in this case it was the Department of U.S. Justice that sponsored my travel and the talk that I gave. Ya, I can't believe how lucky I am either! I try never to forget how blessed my life is and that as my work is recognized I keep true to the women and men who give me the gift of their life story. 

Friday, March 6, 2009

Heading Home

In transit to Saskatoon. I left Albuquerque this afternoon. I was sad to leave because the second conference was beginning, bringing a few more colleagues that I didn't have near enough time to catch up with. I am happy, however to be heading home to Skender. Of course I have several presents, a reminder I received during each of my long distance conversations with him.  I think he is going to be quite surprised!

I ran 3.7 miles yesterday with Dr. Don Wilson (picture above) who is First Nations and the Head of Obstetrics at St. Joseph's General Hospital in Comox, B.C.  This is the first time that I've run with someone else this year. We had a great run but running at a higher altitude is a bit more difficult. Afterward we went with another colleague to a little winery for dinner (pictures above). It was a VERY FUN evening, good food, good wine and CRAZY conversations! However this is all I can divulge about the evening since I have been sworn to secrecy about the sorted details. After all "what happens in Albuquerque stays in Albuquerque!" The other photos are of the city and of my gigantic hotel bed. It was huge, I had eight (count them), eight pillows!!!! 

This morning the second conference opened with a talk by N. Scott Momaday, a Native American (Kiowa) author and a retired English professor. He is a wonderful writer and as I learnt this morning a beautiful orator. He had us all mesmerized with his soft and gentle prose, reminding us of the power of oral storytelling to feed our hungry souls. As he talked I thought our how much we rush through life, going here, going there, getting to this, getting to that...how very important we all are! His talk reminded me of the wonderful book I am currently reading (about 20 pages left that I am holding on to dearly, to read, maybe even twice, in the late night sky as I make my way home). The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is written as a series of letters between a young author Juliet Ashton, her best friend Sophie, her editor, Sidney and a group of people living on the island of Guernsey after WWII. While all I will say is that it is a very special literary piece, as I listened to Dr. Momaday I thought about the art of letter writing and the great care people use to take in crafting their thoughts to one another. Unlike today, where in our rush to get things done, we shoot off an e-mail or text, often without out as much as a greeting or a simple question, "how are you?". "Words are powerful" and today Dr. Momaday reminded us of the words, "I AM" and our responsibility to one another, to our collective and individual identities, in our understanding of those two very special and powerful words.  They define our being, they claim our individual and collective existence, and they place us in relation to one another. 

 "Who am I?" "I AM....

My brother Kevin's comment about a lost hat and a stuffed squirrel brought back more memories about our family van breaking down in Albuquerque 32 years ago. It was a very long time ago, a time if I remember, when dogs could talk. Was there really a stuffed squirrel? I have vague memories about a few odd things we gathered as we made our way across the southwestern U.S.  All I can say is, "Those were the days!"