Thursday, July 30, 2015

Running this week - even at 4:30AM!

This is what Hank looks like after a 2.8 mile run/walk at about 24C.  

That was Tuesday night after I felt really crappy about consistently not getting up to run early. I'd even written off running that night after we'd stopped at the vet, the library and the post office to get some errands done.  We still had to have dinner and it was almost seven.

I was bummed.

Then my super-awesome husband said, "why don't you take Hank for a walk or run now and I'll make supper."

So, off Hank and I went.  He had some issues that night with being a bit aggressive to other dogs, but we hadn't walked him that morning so I think it might have been more our fault for leaving him with way too much energy.  That's also why the run ended up being 2.8 miles instead of the usual shorter distance.  When we caught up to a family walking two dogs very slowly, I made the decision to not follow them down the path they were going, instead running out to the main road and some extra hills.

Hank got home, drank water and crashed - first on his bed, then he decided he'd rather hang out with my husband downstairs (where he can make sure no one leaves the house without him) and he sprawled on the floor at the bottom of the stairs.

This morning when my alarm went off at 4:30, I turned it off planning to go back to sleep.  About 5 minutes later I dragged myself out of bed and got ready to run.  Then I realized that my phone wasn't charged so I couldn't track my run (the horror!).  I attempted to get it charged before leaving the house, but it lasted less than 5 minutes before the battery saver shut down the GPS.

But that doesn't matter.  What matters is that I actually went out and ran in the morning again.  In my new running skirt!  Without my phone, it's hard to judge, but it looks like I even managed a good time.  So I manually added it to Runkeeper with my estimated time.

In June, I ran 13.1 miles.  I targeted 20 miles for July and today I pushed past 20 miles with a distance of 2.3.

July has a lot of records, but most importantly, I met my distance goal!

Here's the thing, sometimes it's hard to get back into the routine.  It's hard to get motivated.  We have lives and families and sometimes we just want to sit on the patio with a bottle of wine.  It's been a huge struggle for me to get back into it, which was a surprise for me.  I missed it so much when I couldn't run, but apparently I got in a couch rut.   This article from Runners World helps a bit.  Ugh, I have to get back into weight training.

Then I packed myself a delicious breakfast - a peach, some jarlsberg and saskatoon banana bread.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - Saskatoon Raspberry Muffins

Saskatoons are in season right now and on Saturday, I picked berries with a friend.  We came home with berries.  A lot of berries.  She had fifty-four cups of berries.  I think I had fewer, but not by much.  I got tired of picking and slowed down at the end.

I had about 2/3 of a stockpot full of berries.  Gorgeous, plump berries.

First thing we did was freeze about 2/3 of them.  Then I was left with a 9x13" pan full of them in my fridge. The picture above is what is STILL left after freezing and baking. Next up, we might try infusing some gin or vodka with some berries.

Growing up, Mom had a pretty great cookbook that she's long gotten rid of, but I remember baking banana bread and blueberry muffins from that cookbook - the Harrowsmith Cookbook.

This is probably why I struggle to lose weight.

I used to bake the blueberry muffins all the time, so this is my best guess as to the actual recipe from my memory.  It's been a few years so it's probably not quite right and I'm pretty sure it didn't include raspberries, but these turned out pretty darned great.

For cupcakes without frosting.

I stored these in a ziplock bag and tossed them into the freezer so I can have a quick breakfast to grab on my way to work with some fruit and cheese.

Saskatoon Raspberry Muffins

1/2 cup butter, softened (just use butter, it's always better)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 cups unbleached flour (reserve 1-2 tbsp for the berries)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups berries - I did 2 c saskatoons, 1 c raspberries
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease your muffin tins. You can use liners if you like, I have some silicone ones, but I prefer without.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well.

Toss your berries with the flour until evenly coated, set aside. Then mix the remaining dry ingredients together well. Finally, mix together the buttermilk and vanilla.  You may find that you need a bit more or less buttermilk.

Alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, 1/3 of each at a time.  When it's just blended, fold in the flour-coated berries. Do not overmix.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove to wire rack and allow to cool.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Kayaks, cancer and my life this week.

Last night, my husband and I went out for our second kayak lesson.  This one focused on practicing what we learned in the last class as well as rescue skills. The important part - how to get back into your kayak when you've fallen out of it.

I am so so so bruised from trying to claw my way back in on the self rescue portion. The good news is, I can get myself back into the kayak so long as someone is there with me.  So we're all set.  If I'm ever off kayaking alone, I'll just stay close to shore.  That way if I capsize, I can swim ashore and climb back in on land.

Last night I also realized that today marks a year since I discovered I had cancer.  I celebrated by starting the morning picking saskatoons with a friend.  

Well, actually I started with a book and a giant dog snuggled up in bed. Because, lazy.

Speaking of giant dogs, our new addition has a name.  We finally decided on Hank.  Hank is an excellent running partner, wonderful walking buddy and generally just awesome.  I walked him down to the vet yesterday.  He has his first appointment later this week and I wanted to make sure that we didn't have an unpleasant surprise.

Kind of like when we attempted to give him his first bath. We learned a couple of things that day - Hank (purportedly a Lab cross) hates water. No, he more than hates water. There is no word to describe our new buddy's feelings for water.  We also learned that he is big and strong enough to push open a reasonably heavy unlatched door. To get away from water.

Back to the vet, no unpleasant surprises there so I had him step on the scale.  He's 96 lbs and they feel he might be a little light.  

Good news, no one should bother me on my runs with him around!

The past year has brought many changes to my life, most of them unpleasant. I'm never quite sure how far to go when I talk about my experience with cancer. Last year, my husband and I were sitting in a parking lot in south Calgary, trying to absorb the diagnosis and I was trying to stop crying. 

It's been a long year and now that it's over, finding ways to move on and forward and live my life is interesting. I feel an urgency to do the things I've always wanted to do, but put off because there was always more time.

I guess that's the big lesson I've learned - there isn't always time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday

I have a pretty extensive wishlist when it comes to running.  There isn't much I can say about some of the items on the list (oh, for a 30 minute 5K), sometimes it's fun to share this kind of thing.  So I'm hoping to make this a regular installment on my blog.

Wishlist Wednesday.  Items I covet.  Things that would make excellent Christmas gifts.  Events that seem like they'd be worth a hotel stay and maybe even some airfare.

Today, I'm going to start with the  Road ID.

This is exciting - it's been awhile since I've looked at their website.  Today, I found that they have a product that works with my Fitbit Flex.  I love my fitbit and adding yet another item to my wrist (becuase the fitbit is worn WITH a GPS watch sometimes) just seemed like overkill.  Enter the Road ID for Fitbit.

As for safety, if something should happen to you, the Road ID provides emergency contact information and can also include vital information such as medical conditions and allergies.  While I'm certain nothing will ever happen to me while I run, safety equipment is really only there for the exceptional occurances. 

The more I participate in events and those events get longer and/or further away, wearing something that can provide emergency workers pertinent information in a hurry seems like a great idea.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Running Buddy!

Back in April, we lost our 9 year old Yellow Lab, Tucker.  He was a pretty special dog to us and we both felt the loss.  In the days and weeks after his death, we decided we weren't going to adopt another dog until our elderly, cranky, dog-hating cat died.

Three months later, that decision is out the window as we found a perfectly delightful, four-year-old black lab cross at the Humane Society.

This picture is a little deceiving.  He looks like your average lab, right?

Some perspective, my husband is 6'3" tall.  And this is my new running partner's party trick - sit, sit pretty (90 pounds of black dog, sitting pretty!) and then hugs.  And apparently kisses.

He is a big, sucky, lovebug.

He's actually pretty well trained and understands "out!" means get out of the kitchen.  He also has sit and lay down.

And he's a runner.  I took him out for a jog this morning and while it took a little longer while he sniffed and poked around and did dog-things (like trying to chase deer and cats) it was a pretty successful run and he dragged me out of bed at 4:30 when I felt guilty for rolling over and going back to sleep instead of taking him out for a walk.

He is still the dog with no name as we try to figure out what's going to work.  The name he was assigned at the Humane Society is not going to work and he didn't respond to it anyway.

Anyway, loving our new dog, even as I worried that I'd come home to find he'd escaped from his kennel, eaten the cats and chewed a hole in the couch. I arrived home to find him casually hanging out in his crate, excited to get out and explore the back yard.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fixing my running problem

There was a time when I thought I could consistently get up at 4:30am to run.  Lately, it seems I'm more likely to hit the snooze button (or just reset the alarm completely) rather than actually get up and run.

And when I get home from work, I've convinced myself of three things:
1.  I'm too tired to run,
2.  I don't have enough time
3.  it's too hot/cold/rainy/windy/sunny/cloudy to run.

Yeah.  This is not a recipe for running success.

So last night, after dinner, I dragged my butt out into the pretty much perfect running weather.  I'd love to say that I was faster than ever.  I wasn't.  The first mile, as always, was a liar and it felt crappy.  It's also the mile where I do all of my uphill so there's that.  The second mile was infinitely better and by the third mile, I actually felt like I could complete three miles.  A look at the clouds surrounding town made me change my mind.  I ran about 2.7 miles.  My GPS had a bit of a hiccup and I ran through some houses on the map so I'm not really sure how far I went. Technology is great.  Until it isn't.

So, I'm trying to figure out how I can fix this motivation problem I have.  Once I get out, it isn't so bad, but getting up off the couch is pretty hard sometimes.  Running in the morning is clearly not working.  Running after work might work better if I plan for it.

I also have another option of running at lunch time, but I hate getting back to the office and having a bright red face.  And lately I've had SO many meetings that there's a good chance I can't just hide behind my computer screen.

So.  Next week, I'm going to plan for evening runs, even in the heat.

If that fails, I'm going to do a lunch time run, an evening run and a morning (weekend) run and see how that goes.

I want to run.  I love running.  I don't get it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Kayak lessons

After kayaking in Vegas in April, we decided we enjoyed kayaking enough to want to learn more about it.  We definitely needed to learn more about safety and and what to do if you flip over.  And better information on strokes, stopping, etc.  So we signed up for a lesson with Undercurrents here in the city.

We chose Undercurrents for a few reasons.  First, they're certified with Paddle Canada.  While this isn't absolutely necessary, it does give us a bit of confidence that they know what they're doing.  Also, they have small class sizes - max. six for the introductory class we did last night.   Finally, they offer a variety of locations for the lessons.

We still ended up at one of the furthest locations from our house.

This first lesson (Fundamentals) taught us what equipment is required, what to do when you flip over (demo on dry land), how to set up the kayak for ourselves, and how to sit in the kayak.  He also went into a description of the equipment (different paddles, different boats, etc)  And then we got into the kayaks and out onto the water for basic strokes, turning, edging, stopping, etc.

Finally, we had the option at the end of the class to flip a kayak over and practice exiting.

Yup, I did it.  I was the first one if you don't count that time my husband flipped his kayak while practicing edging.

We definitely enjoyed kayaking and the lesson we attended (excellent instructor!)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The introvert as a runner

I'm an introvert.  I don't tend to like people all that much and when it comes to running it's easier for me to run slowly by myself than feel like people are judging me for being the slow.

I've been reading more and more about how running with someone can be a benefit, particularly for the slower runner.  They pick up their pace while the faster runner gets a low intensity workout and you both get some social interaction.

Social interaction, something I'm not all that good with most of the time.  Part of why I love running so much is that I can do it without having to interact socially.  It's how I recharge.  I love that time by myself, listening to myself breath, listening to my feet on the pavement, listening to the birds.  It's magic.  Pure magic.

So yesterday, when my Mom wanted to come with me on my run, my first thought was "Nooooooooo!" While nodding my head and saying "Sure. Let's go!"  I dreaded it.  She isn't a runner, but she is much faster than I am even as a walker. She is a power walker.

Then something amazing happened - partly because I didn't want to be judged for my speed, but also partly because I was busy and concentrating on something other than how my legs felt like lead - but I ran/walked faster than I normally do.  Much faster.

Sure it was flatter than my normal run, but 2 weeks ago I ran it and I was a good minute/mile slower than this week.

So there you have it.  Maybe there is a benefit to getting out there and running with other people.  Maybe I will get something out of the running room classes.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Running Room's Survivor Clinic's for CIBC Run for the Cure

This week, I signed up for a local Running Room clinic.  I'm in training for the CIBC Run for the Cure in October and while I'm okay training on my own, the Running Room gave me an offer I just couldn't refuse.

The Running Room = the Godfather.  Sure.  Why not.

Anyway, for breast cancer survivors, they're offering a free running clinic to prepare for the CIBC Run for the Cure.

Yup.  Free for breast cancer survivors.  Seems like  good idea.

Are you running the race?  Are you a survivor?  Have you signed up for a local Survivors Clinic?

Friday, July 10, 2015

8 Things I Wish I'd Known as a New Runner

1. Speed Doesn't Matter!

When I first started, I hated that I was so slow.  When I was doing the C25K program, I hated that in the first week, my workouts barely took me 1.5 miles.  Here's what I've learned since - all runners appear to believe that they are slow.  At least all recreational runners.  The reality is that whatever your pace, you're still running and you'll likely get faster.  I did.  And when I did, it felt amazing!  PS.  I'm slower than a 12 minute mile.  :)

2. C25K Programs Aren't Accurate

In fact, they're liars if they're based on timed intervals rather than distance.  In the program I completed, the last workout was a half hour run.  At that point, my 5K time was closer to an hour than a half hour.  I felt like a failure and even now, a half hour 5K probably isn't in the cards until probably next year due to the break I had to take and the lingering effects of chemotherapy.

3. Never again is also a lie.

My first race ever was a half marathon.  I can't include what a bad idea that was in this list because I knew that going in, but it was one of those things.  A bucket list thing, even if I didn't call it that at the time.  I'm pretty sure I was still running the race when I started to say those words - "Never again."  Other words were said as well, things like, "OMG, what was I thinking!" and "I HATE RUNNING!"  and "Hey, the girls doing a shot a mile probably had the right idea."  That medal up there is the first I ever earned.  I crossed the finish line as they were dismantling it.  They were out of medals.  I hurt.  My husband had spent time finding the closest entrance to the hotel, and I think I spent my entire limp there cursing and swearing and telling him he'd found the furthest possible entrance.  I got to the hotel room and I said "Never. Again.  I don't think I'll ever run again.  I'm definitely not doing another half marathon.  What a stupid sport.  Holy crap, this ice water is cold!"

My friend's husband actually gave me his medal that night so I'd feel better until my medal arrived in the mail shortly after so I did eventually get a medal.

The next morning, I was looking up 5Ks for the next year.

4. Medals are fun

8 Things I wish I'd known as a New Runner
Calgary Marathon 10K

The only event where I had to wait for my medal, is the first race I ran.  Every other event, I've been able to get my medal as I crossed the finish line.
8 Things I wish I'd known as a New Runner
Millarville Cinnamon Bun Run
I love seeing the different medals for races and I'm a little guilty of choosing races by their medals a time or two.  It's also why I tend to run longer distances.  They're more likely to have a medal than a 5K.  

5. Hills suck, but they're good for you

Look, we're already out there sweating and red-faced.  The last thing we want to do is make this running thing harder to do.  And then they say to do hill training.  I avoided it as a beginning runner.  Mainly because I was already painfully slow and I felt that any hill I would attempt would result in me walking up a hill.
Sometimes when I'm running hills, I feel like my dog in this picture - like I've bitten off way more than I can chew.  I live in a neighborhood where hills are kind of required.  My average run has an elevation gain of 150-200 ft, depending on the route I choose.  Yes, it makes me slower on THAT run.  But hills build strength and endurance and on the flat, it seems easier to run and I get faster running where it's flat.  Running faster makes me feel better.

6. Rest is important

Rest days always make me feel a little lazy
But the reality is that we get stronger as our body repairs and rebuilds.  I probably could have avoided much of the swearing during my first half marathon had I rested when things hurt instead of trying to run through the pain and racing injured.

7. Massage is your friend.

This includes paying someone to make you want to scream in pain while they jam an elbow into that knotted muscle as well as learning to use foam rollers and various other methods of torture.  While they're painful at the time, they can do wonders for helping you stay injury free and relaxed.

8. I'd get up early to run.

Mornings are not my favorite.
But they can be absolutely peaceful and beautiful.
Calgary Marathon start line
Or full of other runners waiting to start a race on a beautiful spring day.

I find it much easier to get up and run in the morning - especially in the summer when the days get really hot.  I have more energy after I'm done and I feel like I accomplished something.
And then I can go and sit on my front porch and have a coffee on a Saturday morning and not feel like I've wasted my day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Canada Day!

We didn't do much for Canada Day.  A bit of housecleaning, a bit of reading, a bit of cutting a quilt out. And a bit of discussion about what we eat and how we can fix that.

So we set some goals for July.  We've been doing a great job of eating at home rather than out and we've been particularly staying away from fast food.  But we have been eating a LOT of junk food.  I don't know why, but chips, pretzels and candy have been finding their way into our house (and my desk drawer!) way more often than they should.

So, for the month of July, we're aiming to eliminate crap from our diet. If I'm going to run a half marathon next year, I've got to get better focused on what I eat.

And I need to get running again.  A combination of the heat and a lack of energy at 4:30 has meant I haven't run in the last week and a half.  I have great intentions, but when that alarm goes off after a night where I've struggled to sleep due to the heat, it's way to easy to reset the alarm and get another bit of sleep.

In June, I ran 13.1 miles.  In July, I'd like to see that number go up to at least 20 miles.