Thursday, April 30, 2009

One more month is over

I ran five miles the past two days with Skender's Boogie Run team and with my just-tri it group. Work has been very demanding and it has been difficult to squeeze a run in before I pick Skender up. The weather has also been cold and windy which has been a deterrent to running. I have also been busy cycling and cleaning my yard and getting the flower beds ready for spring. Because of all this, my mileage in April was way down compared to March. I've decided I want to pick up the pace and have a 120 mile month for May. This will mean I will be just under 500 miles by June 1st. Total miles April 30, 2009: 369.

Just completed "The End of the Alphabet" by Canadian Author C.S. Richardson. The book is about a couple who are dealing with news that the husband has a fatal illness that gives him a month to live. This is a good read but for anyone who has lived through the illness of a loved one where death is imminent, it is also a difficult read. I found that it brought back memories of my father's illness and that of my good friend Warwick. Both men fought courageous battles against cancer with neither one admitting defeat even in those final moments of life. Whenever I feel I'm at the bottom I think of these two men who both cheered me on in life and I draw upon the courage and strength that they taught me. If you would like to know what they would think of all this running, they'd both just smile, not say much and in their hearts hope that the running would give me exactly what I hoped it would! My crazy ideas were expected, most often they brought amusement or disbelief (and depending on the idea sometimes worry) and so these two men became witnesses to a continual flow of unpredictable life changing ideas that were almost always followed by my determined action. They watched me dream, struggle, win and lose, and I knew that with each crazy idea, they were both right there in case I needed them. No wonder I think of them everyday and miss them so very much!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boogie Run Training

I ran 1 mile today with Skender for his Boogie Run school club. The Boogie Run is a community fun run that takes place in mid-June. They held the first run two years ago and Skender and I have run both years. The first year we did the 2km and last year we did the 5km. The final part of the race is running a lap around Griffith Stadium, the University of Saskatchewan running track.  It is really fun and Skender and I always race this part of the run as fast as we can. He always beats me!

Skender's school started a running group to train for the Boogie Run and today was the second training day. It was fun to have a little run with Sken and his classmates, however all of the boys dropped out last week after the first training session. Sken is in a running group with only girls so I don't know if he will stay interested in the training group given that he is 9 and not 16. 

I cycled tonight with my triathlon training group. I really enjoy working with the women in the beginner cycling group. My role is to support the group leader and help anyone who is having difficulty. The picture above is of our group and yes, I did have my helmet on before I started my ride :)

Skender's father surprised us by getting married this weekend. His new wife is a wonderful woman and they make a great couple. Skender and I knew they were going to get married but they surprised us (and I think many others) by marrying this past Saturday. Upon hearing the news I had a strange feeling that Adil had gone on with our life without me. While the feeling was brief (and I admit unexpected and weird) it was accompanied by a sense of release that I am finally and completely on my own. I think in many ways I have been waiting for this exact feeling since my divorce but never felt a complete end to the marriage.

As we move out of our marriage there is virtually no road map to let us know how we should or should not feel or react to the many events that mark our lives with our ex-partners. Co-parenting children organize our relationships but so much more underlies our experience in these uncharted and at times stormy waters. I am lucky in that I have a good and respectful friendship with Skender's father and his new wife. I greatly value my relationship with them and the three of us have approached our relationship with Skender's needs and happiness at the center of all decisions and interactions. 

So if you are wondering, since the news of Adil's marriage I have given my ex-husband a great big hug and wished him the greatest happiness. I have also loaded my summer tires all by myself into the back of my Martrix for the trip to the garage, a seasonal job usually requested of my ex-husband. And so another page is turned.... 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Perfect day for running

Great day for running. I ran the bridges and felt really good when I was finished. I need to get more of these long runs in before the half marathon. 362 miles!

Friday, April 24, 2009

I want to sing back up for James Taylor

No running today, combination of work exhaustion and snow. Tonight I find myself curled up on the sofa watching Elvis Costello's new show Spectacle. James Taylor is his guest and within the first five minutes I have once again fallen head over heals for JT. One of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time; such a unique and beautiful voice, and an enormous talent for writing lyrics and music.  How could I not be in love? James Taylor's band has an impressive group of backup singers and I would happily trade in my laptop and stressful job for a chance to join them. Wouldn't that be fun! I have a few favorite singer/songwriters, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Sarah McLaughlin, Bruce Springsteen, Norah Jones, Paul Simon, Don McLean, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson  and my favorite Tom Waits. There are many more but these are some of my very favorites. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

355 miles!

I ran 5 miles tonight. I had set out to run my long run but I think I am a bit dehydrated from Sunday and completely exhausted from work so I cut my run short. It was a beautiful spring day and I ended up running sleeveless for most of the run but just had nothing in me to push for a longer run. I came home early and met Kathy at the Spadina Freehouse for Chicken Burritos (they are the best). They were grrrrreat!

Monday, April 20, 2009

cycling night

No running today. I had my cycling group tonight. It was a nice night for cycling and it went by really quickly. Now that the duathlon is over I plan to set my sights on running the half marathon on May 24th. I mapped out a training schedule on-line tonight and will do my best to stick to it. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I am relaxing on my sofa watching reruns of Law and Order, feeling quite pleased with myself for completing the duathlon this AM. It was a very positive experience, beginning with the opportunity to get to know some of the women from my Just Tri-It group a bit better. We were a small group (our larger Just Tri-It group is around 70 women) among a field of about 5o duathlon participants. It was so nice having a group connection with the other women as some of the other participants looked rather intimidating in their fancy running and cycling gear. Some of us did the long course 3km run, 20km cycle, 3km run and others the short course 1.5 km, 10 km and 1.5 km. I think we were all a little nervous starting out.

The pictures above are from before and after the race. I don't know what my time was but I tried to keep a steady pace so that I could finish. I felt great afterwards which made me think I could have pushed harder, however I know that when I was cycling and running I was pushing as much as I felt I could at the time. I had a few aches and pains, mostly in the last 3km but nothing too bad. I was very thankful to have my road bike which made cycling easier than for those who had hybrids or mountain bikes. One of the most difficult periods in the race was the transition from cycling to running. My legs and feet felt very strange but once I got going it became easier. 

A surprising outcome of the experience is that without any previous experience I realized I had no idea how to pace myself (last competitive racing I did was when I was 12 and I outran the field because I had trained so much, broke the record which wasn't broken again until my niece Rhonda broke it 23 years later or I was lapped by the leaders because I blew off training and made the mistake of thinking that I could still run a competitive race without training, I was 14) . Having other women from our group helped but I realized that as I have been training the past few months I haven't really pushed myself all that hard. I keep a steady pace, sometimes do sprints, but in general I have a comfortable pace that works well for me (I'm very slow). I also cut my runs short if I feel sore or have muscle problems that feel uncomfortable, again something that occurs in a race but in training I deal with by heading home. Today's experience made me wonder what I will do in a race where I do experience significant pain. I know my friend Sue has told me about the pain that she has had during races and how she has had to come up with strategies to deal with the pain and the knowledge that she has a significant distance still to go. I think I'll ask some of my friends who are runners how they deal with what their body and mind throws at them during a race. For now however, the question is whether I can get off the sofa without too much pain and enjoy the rest of the day :). Congratulations Just Tri-It ladies, We Did It!  (350.7 miles)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Short morning run

Ran a little over 3 miles today (347). I wanted to get in a short run before tomorrow. It was nice and sunny, a little windy but not too bad. As the weather warms up there are increasingly more and more people on the running trails. During my run today I thought of all the cities in North America where people were waking up and heading out for their Saturday morning run. I then thought of my grandparents and how strange they would find this running phenomena. In their lives, exerting all that energy without a practical reason would have been unthinkable. Lacking the many conveniences of the technology we have today, their lives were so much more physically demanding than ours is today. While there are physically demanding jobs today, generally the work and domestic demands placed on our grandparents' generation has been eased significantly. So, instead we run. 

My preparation for the duathlon tomorrow is very simple. I'm enjoying Ben and Jerry's "If I had a 1000 flavours," ice cream (inspired by the Barenaked Ladies), reading a wonderful novel by C.S. Richardson, and heading to bed a little early.  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

344 miles!

Ran four miles tonight with my running group (344 miles). It was cold at first but our running leader had us run sprints and we warmed up quickly. She gave me some feedback about my running form which helped...basically I need to keep my arms up higher. A couple of women from my running group are also registered for the race this weekend which makes me feel less nervous.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Only spectator globe trotting tonight

Another day off running. I couldn't get away from work early enough to run or cycle. The weather was also cooler so taking a pass on a run was not all that difficult. Skender and I went to see the Harlem Globe Trotters tonight. Sken loved it. We had court side seats so we were right down among the action. It was really fun. I took a few pictures with my little camera which I have been using a great deal more than my larger SLR FinePix. My SLR requires a bigger commitment as a camera of choice (it is heavier, more intrusive and expensive to replace if lost or stolen). However, I love using it when my sole purpose is to take photographs and over the years I have taken a number of photographs with it that I'm very proud of. My little Canon SureShot has become my camera of choice for events like tonight and to record pictures for my blog.  It takes a very decent picture under a range of conditions and is small and portable. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It is all about me

Ran seven miles tonight (340). I wanted to set a comfortable pace for my run this weekend. I'm going to try and get out on my bike tomorrow if I can find some time at the end of day. I feel quite nervous about this weekend as I am not much for public running events. I prefer either the solitude of running alone or going out for a fun run with friends. I'm mostly nervous about the cycling and the transition from running to cycling. My plan is to try and enjoy it, set my own pace and forget about the rest!

Several people have suggested that if I'm running a 1000 miles I should find a charity to raise money for as part of my effort. From their point of view my goal would be more meaningful for others if I had a worthy cause that would benefit from the miles I rack up. I have thought seriously about their suggestion and haven't written off the idea of running with a charity group that is attending one of the major marathons in North America. There are several advertisements for charity running groups and I have wondered what it would be like to be involved in a group like this. However, I don't have an overwhelming desire to raise money for a charity as part of my running program. One of the main reasons I run is to get away from the daily pressures to achieve something for the benefit of others. Running and exercise in general, is something I do just for myself; a little piece of the day when I feel connected to my physical as well as mental self. Attaching more purpose than this, including raising the expectations of others is the last thing I feel like doing. Running I want to keep for myself. I also have no expectations that anyone reads what I write in this blog, a little self indulgence for the sake of posterity.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

Best that I don't have super powers

Tonight was my cycling night with the Just Tri-It group. It was a perfect night for cycling, not to hot, not to cold and no wind.  The leader of the beginner group wasn't there so I had to take the group out for their ride. We cycled a portion of the Bridge City Duathlon biking course, an event that is happening this weekend. The course runs along the rives and is a 3 km run, a 20 km cycle and another 3km run.  I registered last year for the race but it was cancelled when the weather turned bad. It looks like there will be good weather for it this weekend, so I registered again. I love that there is no swimming, definitely a better fit for me. 

My cycle tonight was really fun. I love cycling because it pushes my body differently than running does. I have this wonderful road bike that is so fun to ride, it flies compared to my mountain bike. The street along the river has a bike path but at this time of year it is full of loose gravel, potholes and other debris making it a danger to anyone riding a road bike with any speed. The street itself also has some significant winter damage that has been filled with loose gravel, making it even more of a danger for a bike ride. Luckily my group had mostly mountain or hybrid bikes so there was less of a danger that they would have an accident caused by the road conditions. During the ride as I routinely looked over my shoulder to see how my group was doing, I kept thinking about Haruki Murakami's description of how he hit a pole while riding his road bike because his attention had been distracted. This made me extra cautious and in the end we all had a great ride.  I was able at times to pick up my speed as I waited on people and then hurried back to take up the lead. It felt great to get my heart beating and push for a bit of speed. After we finished I rode part way home with the "big kids" who were on their way to tackle some hills. It was fun riding faster, despite a guy yelling at us from his car window that we should "stick to the bike path and stay off the road."  My first thought after he drove by was how fortunate it was for him that I didn't have super powers, because if I did, he definitely would have been driving the rest of the way home with his butt for a head (I don't think I ever gave the full premise of "Butts from Uranus," the book Skender and I read together, but this satisfying thought is not original:). 

At the end of the evening I felt so relaxed. While not the greatest workout, I really enjoy spending time with this group of people. However, I agree with Murakami's assessment of cycling. Having to deal with traffic on the roads and pedestrians and runners on the paths makes it difficult to cycle in ways that are optimal for training. The best situation that I have found is cycling on the highway with a group. The highway gives you better road conditions, it is easier to maintain your speed and with a group of cyclists drivers are much more likely to see you. I still feel really exposed to the traffic no matter what road I'm on which takes away from the pleasure of cycling. I have had a couple drivers yell at me (one at 6AM on the Broadway bridge when no one else but the two of us were heading down the bridge in different lanes) even though both times I was cycling at the speed limit. I imagine these folks simply hate to share the road with cyclists and a petite woman on a bike is a easy target for their rage. They are soooooo lucky that I don't have super powers :).

Finished Haruki Murakami's memoir, "What I talk about when I talk about running."  Mike hit the mark, he was right, I loved it. I am unfamiliar with Murakami's writing but because I enjoyed his running memoir so much, I plan to pick up one of his novels very soon. Murakami's memoir was not only about running but it was also about his experience as a novelist and just about life in general. I enjoyed it immensely and I decided after reading it that my love for running is something that I now know I share with a famous Japanese (international) novelist. 

After reaching the 300 mile mark I have been struggling a bit to push myself physically on my runs. While I am keeping up my milage, I have not set a new goal but just maintained my level of training. Reading Murakami's memoir has prompted me to ask myself if there is anything that I want to accomplish this year besides a 1000 miles. Maybe a half marathon? Maybe a full marathon? I'm now contemplating what training goal I want to set. I also plan to buy a second copy of Murakami's memoir and send it out into the world with the intention that it circulate among those who love to enjoyable reading relay for runners. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Documenting my morning run

Had a great early morning run, 5.5 miles, (333 miles). There was only a slight wind and not many people on the trail. I took my camera along to record my run (the beautiful little tree two photographs above is the tree I begin my runs from). Unfortunately the pictures uploaded without taking along the full color so the sky in the photos looks washed out whereas on my computer there is much more detail. While there were only a few people on the trail, I had the pleasure of meeting two really cool dogs...I love the way they smile at you when they're running beside you..."Havin' fun Caroline...huh? huh? huh? Havin' fun?" just cracks me up. I love that look. I'm hoping to meet a canine running buddy this year that I can ask along for a run once in awhile. However, the joyful look on a dog's face when he/she is running just makes me laugh which is really hard when you're running. When I lived in Boston I lived with Shammie (Shamrock) a chocolate lab that because of her wonderful personality had a better social life than I did (maybe that says something:). All weekend people would call our house asking if Shammie could go for a walk or a run with them. I found myself booking her appointments for Saturdays and Sundays. A dog's life!

Happy Easter everyone! Enjoy spring is finally here!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Flying Troutmans, Kafka and a Runnner's Memoir

Still in my pjs, no running yet...later. Rather than taking an early morning run I decided to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and finished reading Miriam Towes' most recent novel, "The Flying Troutmans." I became a fan of Miriam Towes a few years ago when I read "The Summer of my Amazing Luck." While I enjoyed it, this lastest novel in my opinion, is much better. It also turned out to be a perfect selection after reading "Amerika: the missing person" by Franz Kafka. Stories about ordinary life and the unexpected twist and turns that make us who we are. I highly recommend reading these two novels back to back (in this order)'ll understand why when you do. My little literary gift to you.  

With my second cup of coffee I picked up a book by Haruki Murakami, "What I talk about when I talk about running: a memoir." This book came to me as a gift from my very good friend Michael McGovern who lives in Calgary. Mike and I were roommates in Montreal for a year and even though we don't see each other often, he probably knows me better than most people do. How do I know this? Because in just the few brief pages that make up Mr. Murakmi's foreword, "Suffering is Optional", I found myself laughing, wistfully sighing and finally welling up with tears...not sad but truthful. I want to give Mike a big hug because this wonderful gift I already know will bring such pleasure...and I anticipate mindful pause about my 1000 mile year. Flipping back to the picture on the book jacket so I could see Mr. Murakami's photo and bio, I also discovered that he recently received the Franz Kafka prize and has written a book entitled "Kafka on the Shore." Isn't that a funny little twist of literary fortuity? 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

327 miles

Ran 3.5 miles tonight with my running group. It was a nice run except the wind was a bit chilly. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring cycle

Cycled for the first time tonight. It was great. No running today, back on the trails tomorrow to hopefully run the bridges. 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A leisurely Sunday run

A leisurely Sunday run today squeezed in between house cleaning and picking up Skender at his buddies place. The sun was shining and it was quite warm. Ran only 3 miles so I feel like I have been a bit of a slacker the past couple days. No worries, I could use the rest as I hit the ground running with work last week when I returned from our vacation. Did a bit of reading today and hung out with Sken, who is presently editing my writing. 324 miles! Still no soup???? Just haven't been motivated since the little accident with the food processor in January :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Just tri-it triathlon training begins

Began my women's triathlon training group tonight. We ran about 4 miles and I ran an extra mile there and back. It was fun to be training with a large group of women. I like running alone but prefer to run with others. We train three times a week, one night running, one night cycling and Sunday AMs we swim. It is a great program for any woman wanting a training group that is fun and supportive. I was in the group last year and discovered how much I like cycling. We train until mid-June which gives a great training start for the year. Photos above are of our warm up exercises and two of us after completing our run. Hats off to the volunteers who run the group, they do an amazing job! 

Day off training tomorrow. Beer and nachos at Amigos to celebrate 300 miles! Now at 321 miles. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Running the Bridges

After a remarkable recovery this afternoon, I went for my first outside run. I ran the bridges which is a run just under eight miles that includes both sides of the beautiful Saskatchewan River and five bridges (I ran across the two end bridges). My house is right on the river and over the winter I have been missing my river runs. I ran from 6:00 PM to a little after 7:00. The sun was shining, no wind, and I only ran into a wee bit of ice (which I avoided because I knew no one would come to my rescue if I fell and sprained my ankle). I had plans to just run three bridges but the run felt so good that I did all five. As I ran I thought of how lucky I am to live in a country where a single woman can own her own house, be a university professor and freely decide when and with whom she wants to have sex (April 8th...a little foot note needed here...since writing this, and having it posted to my e-mail by a colleagues, I have several people jokingly asking about my "sexual freedom"...while I would love to see all you happy married folks live vicariously through my exciting single life have you forgotten that I'm busy running a 1000 miles and writing blog every night...get your minds out of the gutter!!!! :) ...Oh, and also decide to go to the grocery store for ice cream without needing to ask a man (and have men not think this is a problem....ya Canadian men)! In all of our good fortune including our wonderful freedom and human rights protections, we should all take a wee bit of time to do whatever we can to demand the human rights of all, including Afghan women. We need to send a clear message to our politicians that we do not want our military defending a foreign government that legislates the oppression of women. Our military deserves better, we deserve better and above all the women and girls of Afghanistan deserve better. My thoughts at the 315 mile mark!
You can send your message to Stephen Harper by e-mail or write or fax the Prime Minister's office at: Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, K1A 0A2 
fax: 613 941-6900

Just messing with you guys!

I have spent the morning receiving the most wonderful heartfelt e-mails from across North America and beyond...well except for Doug Campbell's! He's just a smart ass :) I haven't stopped laughing since coming into work! Everyone was totally fooled which led to a least one physical beating by one of my colleagues. My tummy is still sore from laughing.  I love you all for being such great sports :)!!!! For some, yet again!  The one day out of the year we're not laughing at some bizarre, crazy, or just plain stupid (remember the boots?) thing that I have done!

And the academy award for best actress faking a leg injury goes too....April Fools!!!!