Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Shoeless Shin Saga

It's been almost three months since I tore up my shin. If you were to graph my emotional, mental and physical status throughout the last twelve weeks, it would probably look like a sine wave. For those of you who don't dig the math metaphors, it has been very...up and down. One could probably make quite a dramatic movie out of it: The Shoeless Shin Saga.

Sine wave


Folks, I have tried pretty much everything. I tried living in the pool for weeks on end. Then I tried giving up the pool and only doing short runs. I tried strengthening and massaging my shin every other day. When it began to hurt more, I tried to go back to the pool. I wore a friggin wetsuit to relieve any stress on my tibia, letting my legs float along the surface effortlessly while the rest of me thrashed through the water like a drowning whale. (Why a whale, you might ask? Oh, because I brilliantly decided to cut the collar off my wetsuit due to painful chafing, thereby allowing a river of water to rush in as soon as I went horizontal. Didn't help much that the wetsuit was already baggy to begin with...though it did make the workout more challenging with an extra twenty pounds to pull.) After a week of being mocked by lifeguards, randoms in the elevator and early-morning security guards on patrol for my ridiculous attire ("Are you wearing a WETSUIT in the POOL?!"; "Isn't the water pretty warm?!"; "What kind of bathing suit is that?"), I said screw it and gave up exercise altogether. Perhaps complete rest for more than a few days was what I needed? To be honest, the first two days were not quite on purpose, since it was a pretty intense weekend of partying that came at the tail-end of a six-day bender. Yes, apparently I thought I was 18 again and that it was Frosh week. I later realized (much later, since it took me a while to be able to form thought processes) that I had spent more time being drunk that weekend than sober. I'm not sure I should be proud of that, but it is still somewhat of a shocking fact. If I had tried to swim those two days I would have definitely run straight into a wall at some point. Or just drowned. I highly doubt the possibility of any other outcome.

'Recovery' drinks (Damn you Milne)


Nevertheless, this kick-started what was probably an *ultimately* healthy five days of complete rest. I didn't mind it much until the last day, when I was in an incredibly foul mood and was thinking negatively about everything. I'm pretty sure that's the day the b/f came to visit me and I not only cursed running but life in general. I also claimed I would never be healed since after five days my shin was the same piece of s*%$ as it was a month ago. Then I drank a bottle of wine, felt better, and woke up with a pounding headache AND a throbbing shin.

Whining and wining


Instead of succumbing to another day of sloth, depression and yet another hangover, however, I said 'eff it,' put my shoes on, and went for a run.

It felt amazing. The fresh, crisp air, the dark and empty but simultaneously comforting downtown streets, the unusual peacefulness of Yonge and Dundas Square at 6am. All the things I used to love about my early morning runs came rushing back to me within minutes. A good thing, since my run lasted a whoppin' 19 of 'em. After a few minutes of fresh, bouncy strides, the heaviness set in my legs, my left hamstring started to get sore, and I became legitimately tired. Oh my. I couldn't believe that a twenty-minute run had taken that much out of me. That used to be half of my warm-ups! I doubled my workout time with stretching and core, and returned to my apartment a new person: my headache was gone, I felt happy, and I was HUNGRY! I hadn't felt that deep, grumbling hunger in so long. I swear there is a specific type of hunger that is only triggered by running, and it makes food taste so good! I am not sure of everything I ate afterwards, but it was a lot, and it all tasted like it came from a buffet on a cruise to the Caribbean. (And if anyone has seen my fridge, it was definitely not food of that quality). Yogurt, honey, bananas, peanut butter, nutella, maple nut granola...I wanted to combine them all into one giant breakfast party in a bowl and devour it all at once. So I did.

Breakfast party in a bowl


The best part, however, was that I didn't feel my shin while I was running. It stiffened up a little afterwards, but wasn't any worse than before. So since then I have been running about 30min every other day and doing elliptical or biking the other days. Some days the shin sucks, sometimes it is OK. I have stopped worrying so much about feeling it all the time. I went to the sports doctor on Wednesday and she basically told me that the tightness I was feeling was scar tissue and lumps and bumps from it healing weird (I think she said something about high heels and vodka being detrimental to healing, but I don't think she was serious), and that I would need ART and acupuncture to straighten it out. I was relieved to hear this and am happy that I can hopefully get back to 100% with some therapy.

Best news? I found an awesome physiotherapist who is intent on curing Shoeless Coolis. He has apparently already been following my blog so I didn't have to explain my frustrations to him. His assessment of the situation is one I am in complete agreement with: the healing has happened. There is no more tear to be found. The other 'stuff' that is going on needs to be straightened out and strengthened. His plan for my shin is to 'kick the #$^% out of it, let it recover, then strengthen the %#$^ out of it, and repeat.' I like this plan. A lot. I have a feeling I will be in a lot of ART and acupuncture-induced pain in the next few weeks, but at least I can keep shuffling along in the early morning darkness and enjoy as many breakfast parties in a bowl as I wish.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Angel Jane



I've been in Toronto for five years and lived in four different buildings...all within a two kilometre radius. Suffice to say that I am a sucker for convenience. Not only do I like being close to work, but I like living downtown. Living at Yonge & Dundas Square means that practically everything is at my doorstep - the LCBO (I swear that wasn't the deal breaker for my latest move! Ok maybe it was), the Eaton Centre, awesome restaurants like Milestones, Jack Astors and Joeys, les Trois Brasseurs (and other less awesome bars), Goodlife Fitness, a ginormous movie theatre, several grocery stores, Shoppers Drug Mart (the most marvelous place besides the LCBO), one billion food courts, every Bank that exists, Tutti Frutti candy store and last but not least, there are FIVE Starbucks, each no more than two blocks from me. No joke. There is one IN my building, one across the street, one in the movie theatre, one in the mall and one one block east of me...and somehow le Blog du Rob was smart enough to start a bet with me on who could reach Starbucks Gold card status faster. FYI Rob, there is one pitiful, lonesome Starbucks in all of Guelph. And five within two minutes of me. I thought you were a smart dude, but now I'm not so sure. Perhaps this is the real reason you are making so many trips to Toronto?

Anyway, I reached Gold Status four days ago. That's right, I am now officially a Starbucks Gold member! Holler. You may win the odd party le Rob but I beat you to gold sucka! Yea. Not sure what this will really do for me, however, as I never get any of the syrups or flavour shots that I could now get for free. And I don't have a coffee maker for deals on coffee grinds. And I don't stay inside the Starbucks long enough to get a free re-fill. But at least I get a free cuppa joe every two weeks? The important thing, people, is that I am a Gold member, and therefore a superior member of society. That makes me feel pretty cool.

I was not intending on writing this blog about coffee, but somehow my dialogue about the convenience of my condo has brought me to the topic. Downtown condominium living has other quirks and perks, however. Like concierges. They are a unique bunch. They must see a lot of weird stuff since they basically sit at the front desk for 8-12 hours and watch people come in and out - all day or overnight. I would assume the night shifts are pretty boring unless you are working on a weekend, in which you could probably witness some pretty remarkable transformations. Like one night, when I had a lab party and left my place in an innocent collared shirt and black pants with my computer strapped to my back. I got changed at the lab and went to the party in one of my typical risque Jane outfits, which I obviously had to match with a reckless drinking style. The last thing I remember was taking shots to the song 'Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots, shots, shots!' Not surprisingly, it wasn't long before I was passed out in the washroom practically dead. When my labmates found me, I vehemently claimed that the floor was the most comfortable bed there was and that I would be sleeping in the stall that night. The next morning I woke up in my own bed, and was perplexed by how I ended up there. Apparently my labmates carried me home, through the front door and up the elevator, my arms hanging around each of these dudes' necks. Now THAT is classy. I wonder what the concierge thought seeing that come through the door? Who is that, who are they and where is her computer?!

In reality, I got along well with the concierges in my last building and they always said a kind hello when I was leaving or entering the building. The only time they made comments was when I showed up downstairs dressed like I was ready to rob a bank at 5am, waiting to meet the Angels for an early morning run. 'I can't believe you are running in this weather. In the dark. You are nuts!' they would always comment. Once I came down dressed in my usual sexy way and the concierge yelled to me 'It's only -8 today! It's only -8!!! Do you want to leave your neckwarmer here?!' It was pretty funny how excited they were that I would be able to run without coming back frostbitten, as they so often witnessed when I was unable to open any doors or retrieve keys or fobs from my pockets because my hands were completely frozen. Good times.

Now I am living in a new building with new concierges. There are four regulars who each have quite a unique disposition. The first is Frank. Frank is a funny guy. I am not sure where he is from but he has one of the strangest accents I have ever heard. I can hardly ever understand what he is saying. Furthermore, his tone is extremely high pitched such that he actually sounds like a young girl when he speaks. A young girl with a weird European accent...who is in reality a grown, chubby man with thinning hair. Frank has taken a particular interest in my running (and lack thereof). After I had been off running for a few weeks, I came home from work one day and he randomly called out 'Are you going running now? Running in the morning, running at night, you are ALWAYS running!!!' At this point I had to tell him that in fact I was not running at all and I had been injured for the past three weeks. At this point, the second awesome concierge Sam (I will get to him in a moment) jumped up and screamed: 'My angel is INJURED!!! What? What can I do? What happened? WHERE ARE YOU HURT MY ANGEL?!' as if I had just been hit by a car and was about to die. After I appeased Sam's concerns and told them it was just a torn muscle in my shin, Frank sighed 'Oh that's nothing, you'll be fine! A few days, ya?' his voice squeaking with each inflection. 'Hmmmmm' I wondered, 'How is a torn muscle not something to be concerned about?!' I was perplexed by their opposing and wildly inaccurate assessments of my injury, but just rolled with it. 'Errr ya I'm sure it will heal soon. No reason to be too concerned!' 'But I don't understand why you need to run,' Frank continued, 'You are so skinny! You don't need to run. Why do you have to run?' at which point I informed him that I had actually lost weight after I stopped running, another fact that he was incapable to comprehend. 'How is that possible? Jane, you need to eat more! Eat! Eat!' I told them that I likely would gain weight eventually, since I was already developing some pretty legit biceps from all the swimming I was doing. Frank liked hearing this and now every day he asks 'Did you swim today? You must go for your swim!' I am waiting for him to ask me to show him my awesome biceps, but so far no such luck.

Sam is just as much of a hoot as Frank, if not moreso. He is a large, black fellow who always has a giant smile on his face. The first time he spoke to me he declared that I was an Angel and that he saw a heavenly glow around me whenever I entered the building. I am pretty sure that was followed by an awkward silence since I had absolutely no idea how to respond. 'Thank you? 'Same to you?' Nothing I could think of on the spot seemed to make any kind of sense. But then again, his comment didn't either. Every day it's something different: 'You bring happiness to the world with your Angelic face, my Angel,' or 'Ah! I did not smile today because I hadn't seen my Angel yet!' However entertaining his comments are, I am very flattered that I am able to bring him such joy by my mere presence. If anything, he is the one bringing happiness into the lives of others with his warm, open and endearing personality!

What Sam sees?

Still kind of a badass Angel...

One day I went to pick up a package (sent from the awesome peeps at Adidas) and he asked the resident standing next to me if he thought I looked like an Angel too. Another awkward exchange. 'Umm...ok, you are pretty smooth dude,' was all the guy said to Sam. I think Sam was confused by this answer since I am sure he wasn't trying to be smooth at all, and does in fact believe that I am an Angel. He then turned to me and asked why I always received such mysterious parcels in the mail (maybe he thought they were from God?). His direction suddenly switched: 'Do you buy dresses online?' he then asked. I reminded him that I was a runner and that I was actually sponsored by Adidas. 'These are running clothes from Adidas!' I said, 'I don't have to buy them, it's great!' A few days later when I walked by the desk he bellowed 'I can't wait to see you in your winter dresses, my Angel!' I was bewildered by this statement, until I figured that he still believed that I actually ordered dresses online (and more specifically, 'winter dresses' - whatever that entails). I guess he doesn't buy the whole 'serious runner' gig I have going. The other day, he continued on his winter-themed comments, which only seem to get even more indecipherable: 'The winter time makes you look very special, my Angel' he smiled brightly. 'Wear your winter dresses soon!' Then there was the day it rained and I came home soaking wet, looking like a drowned rat (seriously). He immediately jumped from his chair and exclaimed 'My Angel! You look like a Goddess emerging from the ocean today! Have a nice evening!' WTF? If his comments continue on their current path of weirdness, I wonder what kind of things he will be saying in the New Year...

Another one of the concierges, whose name I don't yet know, thinks I am just as innocent (and perhaps Angelic?) as the other two. He is often there late at night and was shocked when I returned home late one night in a party Jane gettup that included a skirt and heels. 'WOW you went OUT TONIGHT!!!! Good for you!' Oh, if only they knew that I didn't need to be congratulated for getting out of the apartment. I laughed at his tone and wondered what these three would do if they saw party Jane in action. Perhaps one day, I will have to invite them out for vodka chez Jane. Though that might shock them into silence, and I am wayyyy too entertained by them on a daily basis to let my cover slide.

What the rest of the world sees. Sigh.


So for now, I live under the guise of Angel Jane, domestically and athletically. But those who really know me know that party Jane and G.I. Jane are the real deal. Just sayin'.

Angel Jane or Satan???

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thinking like a PRO

I am tired of analyzing the ups-and-downs of my temperamental shin, so instead I am not going to talk about it all and instead reflect on the ups and downs of the last two months of injury. I'm sure most can relate to some of this stuff at some point in their lives...maybe not quite everything...

Cons:

1. I can't run.
Duh. Running is, plain and simple, one of my greatest loves in life and she has been ruthlessly taken from me. *Sigh*. It has been a tough breakup, but I am confident we can re-kindle our relationship...when we are both ready.
2. The lack of endorphins must be replaced by hard drugs.
Running is slightly better for you than hard drugs, so I would list this as a con.
3. I am becoming soft.
I went from grinding out 100-mile weeks in icy -20C conditions to 130-mile weeks in heat and humidity...to being afraid of cold water...to buying a wetsuit to pool run...to stopping exercise altogether in favour of warm mugs of tea on my couch...yep. That's G.I. Jane for ya.
4. I miss my friends!!!
It sucks not seeing the Angels, my favourite group of girls. Though they have made up for this with GI Jane-centred martini nights, it doesn't replace the comraderie of trucking through long runs and workouts together on a daily basis.
5. Depression.
Though I have found a cure for this (see #2), you can't be high all the time.
6. Insomnia.
Yep, can't sleep. Luckily I've found a cure for this one too (see pros #7).
7. Pitiful appetite.
One of the WORST things about not running is not getting the same enjoyment out of food. I've come to the point where I never really crave anything (besides alcohol) and often forget to eat. What the hell? My former loves, peanut butter, bananas and whackloads of candy are now only a faint memory. It is so sad.
8. Muscle atrophy.
Since my appetite has diminished along with my exercise, my muscles are starting to waste away. For a while my injured leg was noticeably smaller than my non-injured leg. That was pretty weird. Now they are equally small and my pants are getting baggier. I want my runners legs back!
9. Chlorine intoxication.
For a while when I was in the pool 3hrs a day, I suffered from some severe chlorine-induced health complications. These included incessant sneezing (co-workers loved this), teary eyes, dry, scaly skin (the worst!), plus my hair was turning into straw regardless of the amount of conditioner I used. And of course the chlorine smell never goes away no matter how much you scrub. EVER. (It's really a turn-on to the opposite sex.)
10. Boredom.
Boredom all around people! Boredom while cross-training (Why does 10min of swimming feel like an hour of running? Brutal), boredom during the hours I waste when I'd normally be running, boredom because I am less focused when I don't run. Maybe I just get bored really easily.

Pros:

1. I am still a healthy, able-bodied human being.
Somehow us runners equate not being able to run to being physically challenged. We can walk fine, exercise fine, and when we get to a certain point we are likely not hurting day-to-day. Yet we complain just as much as if we were strapped to a wheelchair in chronic pain. It doesn't really make any sense (...unless you are a runner). But when injured, it is important to remind ourselves that we should be happy that we are fundamentally healthy, able-bodied individuals and we are pretty lucky not to have any serious problems. So yeah, I am grateful for that!
2. Insomnia.
Ok I realize I listed this under cons, but it can also be a pretty big pro. First of all, I can spend evening hours doing a lot more stuff, like getting extra work done, seeing friends, and of course dancing all night (in the process really helping the shin recover...yea).
3. Relief of pressure.
Even though I run because I love it, like most runners I put a lot of pressure on myself and want to perform my best. Now that I can't, a lot of pressure is relieved and I don't worry about everything that I do. It's nice to take a step back and really relax.
4. More time for work.
Yep, sadly this is a pro. I am trying to finish my degree after all, so it's nice not having to boot it all day so that I can get out and run before 6PM...plus with all my extra energy I am more productive at work...errr unless I'm hungover. On second thought, if you balance out the number of hard workouts in a week with the number of nights I currently spend going out, it probably balances out. Shoot. Scrap that pro.
5. My toe nails are growing back!
Ha! My feet are pretty far from normal, but they are becoming more normal, and have stopped hurting me all the time! That is, until I squeeze them into four-inch heels and go dancing. Then the whole blister issue tends to re-appear.
6. I don't have to worry about stomach problems.
I have a very sensitive stomach and a gluten intolerance, which is made one billion times worse by running. Now that I'm never really eating huge quantities and not jostling my stomach around on a run, I have found I can eat pretty much whatever I want without becoming very ill. I'll admit that drunk Jane doesn't really care about my gluten intolerance, so I've consumed my fair share of chips and nachos as of late. But with far less consequence than normal. It's pretty awesome.
7. I can replace water with vodka.
Need I say more?!

8. Spending less money on food.
Again, this is probably negated by the amount of money I spend on alcohol. Dammit.
9. I am spending time with non-runners and meeting more people.
This is probably a healthy thing. I can finally go out with other friends and understand how they can live the way they do. It's incredible how much more energy you have to do things when you don't spend twenty hours a week running.
10. Yea...meeting more people. Continuation of #9. Though one of them may be a runner, sometimes it takes a non-running scenario and two runners not currently running to realize that they may have more than running in common. Best part of this injury fo sheeze!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Heels for healing part II

So my shin was pretty painful all of last week even though I stopped running and was either doing nothing or hitting the pool in a wetsuit (i.e. ...nothing). However, as I have already made clear, I was more frustrated at my inability to wear heels than to run, so I wasn’t terribly upset about the situation. Until the weekend, that is. My distress began to mount as the Deadmau5 concert approached and my hopes of being healthy enough to wear my party shoes were quickly fading. How could I NOT wear my silver, glittery heels?! It was an essential component of raver Jane’s getup! For those of you who have never been to a concert like Deadmau5, it is perhaps second only to Halloween on the list of great excuses to wear something ridiculous and fit in at the same time. Since I pretty much always wear ridiculous things, it was a unique chance for me to be completely at ease while doing so.

Party pumps!


So what does the reasonable, disciplined G.I. Jane decide to do? Find a pair of flat glittery shoes? Wear some retro runners? Skip the night of all-night dancing? Of course not! Instead I took a few midday shots of vods and put on my party outfit, glittered stilettos and all. And suddenly my shin felt awesome. We went to my friend’s house for some more non-alcoholic beverages and I raved about how great my leg felt. I clearly have astute friends, however, since they dismissed everything that came out of my mouth and instead insisted that I tape up my shin. Not sure what really happened after that but I woke up with the circulation in my leg cut off and what seemed to be an entire roll of tape around my leg. Suffice to say I did a pretty good job of compressing that sucker. (Or was it not me who taped it? Mauricio? Tim? Argean? Deadmau5?). I also must thank Tim for rudely ripping off my beautiful blonde wig and telling me it looked horrendous. I actually thought it looked pretty good but it would have been way too hot at the concert, so I’m glad it was ruthlessly stolen from me. Tim, you are a true friend.

Moi et Mauricio


Mauricio and Tim. Good friends.


So, the concert. It was awesome. I think we got there *slightly* early (7PM may have been overkill) since we danced for almost 5 hours before the man (mouse?) came on. Sheeshus talk about a climax. That was the biggest buildup I’ve ever experienced (twss). My feet were already blistered and bleeding at that point but my spirits were high since I was winning the party in every way possible. I was outdrinking men (well maybe they weren’t really men, probably couldn’t even use powertools) left right and centre, and it was beautiful. We saw some pretty crazy outfits, not to mention dance moves, but the strangest part of the whole night was this tall awkward dude that kept following me around on the dance floor. I kept thinking he was trying to attack me after he almost punched me in the face about five times. I tried repeatedly to lose him but he always managed to find me and then start to pump his fist like a crazed madman. It was very strange. He then proceeded to tell me that he had been missing out on the electronic music scene because he had taken up the fiddle. Not only that, but he actually NAMED his fiddle Ramus. Who names their instrument?! But more than that, who plays the fiddle?! I was truly puzzled. And why was he telling me this?! Nevertheless, I think the event was an eye-opening one for him in which he realized that the hard beats and high-pitched screams of a computer screen were much more creative than the coordinated strokes of a guitar string by a regular human being. I mean, duh.

Awkward guy and non-awkward girl


It didn’t take long before the intense pain of my bleeding feet overrode the numbing effect of 40% alcohol, however, and I could no longer take another second in my glitzy heels. Naturally, I ripped them off and began marching around the Rogers Centre shoeless. No one gave me a second look, of course, since you can do pretty much anything at a Deadmau5 concert without it seeming weird (except maybe stand still and be sober. That would look awkward). I woke up the next morning on a glitter-stained couch with a pounding headache, black makeup all over my face and extremely dirty feet, but as soon as I got up and stumbled around, I noticed one thing that set this morning apart from those of the last six weeks. My shin! It didn’t hurt! I was incredulous. After an entire day of zero pain, I started to get pretty excited. Perhaps it was REALLY on the mend?



It’s been a week since then, and it is still feeling good. I feel a bit of stiffness when I swim, but no pain at all even on the elliptical. It is pretty awesome. I don’t want to start back before it’s perfect so I’m doing my resistance exercises every other day and gradually building up more strength in the muscle. What’s even better to know is that my native lifestyle seems to have a curative effect on torn shin muscles. Who would have thought?! Avoiding heels for the last six weeks was clearly my biggest mistake, and one that will not be repeated. So if anyone out there is struggling with a nagging injury and doesn’t understand why it won’t heal despite their best efforts, perhaps you should try wearing some high-heels, taking numerous shots of vodka (within a shot-taking competition for best effects), listening to some rave music and spending five to eight hours dancing your ass off until your feet bleed. (Oh, but make sure you tape it up. While drunk.) Worked for me!

Woot is right. Awesome stuff!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Heels for healing



You may remember me whining about the temperature of the friggin pool. It's seriously awful. Awful getting in, torturous throughout and numbing by the time I'm finished. It got to the point where my days would be filled with dread when a pool run loomed in the evening. Finally I lost it: 'Why am I putting myself through this insanity?! WHY?!' I screamed at my poor pool running partner, Mauricio. He gave me a strange look and told me to stop complaining (I didn't). I think he was confused by how someone who could run 130 miles per week in 40 degree heat with bleeding, blistering feet without thinking twice about it could be whimpering because of some cold H2O. And perhaps he has a point. Nevertheless, that day I reached my limit. I became lost, confused, empty and wretched, not knowing what on earth I should do next. It was really quite sad and exasperating. Kind of like when you've been dumped by someone awesome and you start dating someone much less awesome. It feels good when you finally dump the less awesome person, but then you're alone, and that can suck just as much if not more. So when my physio suggested to start focusing on doing short runs instead of pooling it out in misery, I jumped at the opportunity. And it felt. AAAAAMAZING.

Unfortunately, my shin wasn't quite ready for the runs, and after 4 little joyous spurts (is it just me or does that just sound wrong?) in a week it was feeling worse than before. So last weekend I was advised to stay in the pool and strengthen the muscle until it felt 100%. Once again, a dark cloud of blue frigidness came over me and I shuddered at the thought of my first workout back. Something had to be done. I couldn't continue living this way. I would turn into Mr. Krabs in a Spongebob seaworld again. So, what do I do? Suddenly an absolutely GENIAL thought came over me (happens from time to time): buy a WETSUIT! That was the answer! I'd be cozy and warm and dry for the entire time, heck I could probably stay in there for three hours if I had one of those bad boys on! I jumped and giggled at the thought. Suddenly the world was all flowers, rainbows and sunshine.

So I ventured over to Canadian Tire and found a pretty good deal on a full wetsuit. Last night I decided to try it out. I walked out onto the pool deck and smirked at Mauricio in his little shorts. He outright laughed at me in my ridiculous astronaut attire. Whatever, I would be warm and he would suffer. I knew I wouldn't have the last laugh! We got in the pool and before I even had a chance to start moving, something felt very odd. I paused, and instead of drowning like I normally would, I just bobbed there and floated around. WTF? Apparently the wetsuit was not only a warming device, but a flotation one as well! Now perhaps a normal person would be happy about this, since pool running took virtually no effort. But to me it was an epic fail. I wanted to work HARD in the water, not waste 90min floating around! I decided to give it a shot, however, and tried to make it more difficult my moving my legs as fast as humanly possible. I think I found the answer for G.I. Jane sprint training - I had some legitimate turnover going on, which I have never come close to before. I glided through the water, moving faster than the swimmers beside us. I felt like Jesus just hammering across the surface. I looked over at Mauricio (usually when I lapped him, every couple minutes) who was panting and periodically getting submerged under water due to his sinking frame. 'It's sooooo cold today G.I.' he uttered miserably. I didn't respond. I was not happy. All the glory I had envisioned was usurped from my being. I was ready to give up my spongey suit and suffer through the cold just so I could be working as hard as him. An hour later, he asked 'Are you still warm?' 'Yes,' I answered, 'But I'm also bored. This is too easy!' I thought about continuing until two hours, but figured it would still be a waste of time. So we got out 90min later, him tired and spent, while I felt like I could go and hammer two hours on the elliptical. Dammit!

So the wetsuit idea was not as genial as I had anticipated. Hopefully I will do some triathlons next summer and get some use out of it...errr unless anyone wants to buy a wetsuit from me?

Alright, next time I blog I will not have any shin pain. What is the reason for my renewed determination, you might ask? Well, it has nothing to do with running. There are no races in the immediate future and I am in no rush to start hammering out the miles. But it is holiday season (maybe only in my world, it starts in mid--October) and for me that means party time. And party time entails party outfits which means I get to sport my awesome heel collection. And for anyone who has seen my apartment, they have witnessed this fabulous collection of shoes that lines the entire length of my wall. Black, gold, white, silver, red, strappy, glittery, four inch, six inch, three inch, eff-me boots - I've got them all. And at the moment I can wear none of them. This is very sad. Wearing one of my two pairs of flats is not a la party Jane. So, I am strengthening my shin twice a day and massaging it religiously in order to get it strong enough to withstand some heel action. Somehow I have a feeling that this is what will make me healthy. Go figure!

Heeling power!


Awesome

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Motivational running

First off, in case anyone wants to read more of my Dalai Lama-like words of wisdom, you can follow me on Twitter (see side panel). Between e-mail, Facebook, my blog and Twitter I seem to have accumulated a fair number of distractions in my life. I figure that deep down I don't really want to graduate, since that might dampen my general bitterness and cynicism, which in turn would have quite a negative effect on the humour in my blog. Then I'd lose my blog friends, and then my life would pretty much suck. So pile on the distractions!

I haven't blogged since the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which was an incredibly exciting weekend. I have to give a shout-out to Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis for their truly inspiring runs. It was thrilling to watch Reid go for the standard so aggressively and run so well given the windy, cold conditions - AND pull off a great race after taking the world's fastest bathroom break! I obviously have a thing or two to learn from him (and Paula Radcliffe) about how to excel at the 'stop-and-go'...is this something I need to train for? I'm sure the city of Toronto would support this. Maybe I should just ask Rob Ford himself: "You wouldn't mind if I ran marathons around the city AND shat all over the streets, would you?" (I am SURE he would appreciate the humor in my comments, given how well he reacted when the actors on This Hour has 22 Minutes tried to play a joke on him. Wow!)

Anyway, although Reid was quite impressive in this feat there were other moments of heroism. With the cameras on him for most of the race, the country missed out on Gillis' extremely gutsy run. Thankfully they did catch his last 300m which were undoubtedly the most exciting steps of the entire race. Seeing him check his watch and realize he had seconds to make it to the line under the Olympic qualifying time almost gave me a heart attack. I have never seen anyone sprint so hard at the end of a marathon. The pained, exasperated expression on his face said it all; he ran those last 100m with everything he had - legs, head, and heart. He flew across that line with 0.7s to spare. Now THAT is inspiration.

Another hero was Fauja Singh, a 100-year-old man who crossed the line in 8:25. It is disappointing that he won't be recognized by The Guiness Book of World Records for oldest man to run a marathon since he doesn't have a birth certificate. I would think there must be a way to genetically determine his age, but perhaps it wouldn't be accurate to the exact year. Nevertheless, perhaps if they could prove he was born within a year or two of 1911, he could get the record? What a shame!

I have to mention Leslie Sexton's exceptional run, besting her time in the half-marathon by two minutes in 1:16:33. When I saw her at Acura in July I asked her what time she'd be aiming for at Scotia. '1:16' she said simply. 'Oh yeah?' I responded with a smirk, 'Any reason for that particular number???' 'Obviously, because I have to beat your time!' she responded. I have to give her props for going out and doing just that on a slower course and on a slower day. Leslie, you can go wayyyyy faster than 1:16 and there are lots of PBs to come for you! Awesome.

Speaking of fast half-marathons (and people not being awarded official records!), congrats to Dayna Pidhoresky for running the fastest half marathon by a female Canadian. EVER. 1:11:46. It's unfortunate that it won't count as a National record because of the 57% displacement between the start and the finish (the limit is 50%) but I have no doubt she can do it again. Even more impressive, she ran that seven days after demolishing the field in Detroit in 1:14! Wow.

A bunch of the Angels raced at Scotia as well - congrats to Kathryn who was 2nd in the 5k (18:33) and to Sasha Gollish, Katie S, Mama K, Jebs, Kap 'N K and V-Cash who ran very well in the half marathon. My Montreal sista Miss Ali-Khan ran an awesome 1:19:44 for a 6min PB in her 2nd half-marathon ever. Not bad for an 800m superstar!

So the good thing about all of these fantastic races is that it gets me pretty motivated. Now all I need is for my body to cooperate with me. So obviously I am dealing with my lingering shin soreness but conducting all kinds of experiments to determine what will actually heal it once and for all. The all-pool approach was decent but I felt that the water resistance and kicking was still using the tibialis muscle too much. Plus I was becoming pretty spongey like SpongeBob. I transitioned to more elliptical, which was fine at first until I hammered out a workout on it with a ridiculous amount of resistance that took the shin back a notch. My short runs haven't seemed to bother it, however...perhaps because it's the only activity where I don't push my limits...so my approach this week is short runs only and minimal cross-training. We'll see how that goes! For now I prefer to talk about other people's running, since mine throws me into the dark depths of depression. On that note, I will go cry in a corner somewhere. Happy running everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MY LEG!!!!!!!!!!



Well ladies and gents, I used all of my mental power to convince myself that my tibialis injury was simply an excuse for a hardcore pre-marathon taper and that I'd be good to go in a few weeks. Believe it or not, however, the physical reality of tearing a muscle in your shin kind of trumps any kind of positive thinking. Not that I have been Little Miss Sunshine for the past three weeks. In fact, I think I've metamorphosed through every character of Spongebob Squarepants (errr do I admit now that it is one of my favourite shows?). Starting off, of course, slumping around bitterly like Squidward (above), cursing my shin and life in general. After living like the slothful Patrick Star for a few days, however, my shin began to feel a little better and I began to make outrageously naive claims - in true Spongebob form - like 'my tear will heal in three weeks and I'll be able to hammer out 42.2k at Scotia!' These periodic moments of hope were usually usurped by my general Mr. Krab-biness, however, and I'd go back to being irritable and depressed moments later. My co-worker recently admitted to me that he was actually afraid of me (and FOR me) when I didn't exercise. Oh dear. Now that I am back to being OCD-on-exercise Larry the Lobster, I'm feeling much better mentally and physically - and best of all, people are talking to me again! Ha!

So. My stupid shin. Yes, I am convinced it has a brain and is stupid since it refuses to get back to 100% faster than a snail's pace. Not only is it taking its sweet time, it is undecided and waivering at every stage of recovery: one day feeling better, then going back to its pre-existing sore state the next. SO since it is slow and cannot make up its mind I have deemed it STUPID. For those who aren't aware of the diagnosis, it turns out I tore a muscle in my anterior tibialis. Yep, according to my oh-so-sensitive physiotherapist (who is really quite genial) I 'ripped 'er right apart.' Awesome. It is great to know that those stabbing pains during my execution run were really me tearing my muscle in two. Perhaps it is not my shin that is the dumbest part of me...

Speaking of dumb: Patrick Star (pretty much my favourite character. Ever.)


[Looking for Squidward in a crowd of squids]
SpongeBob SquarePants: Are you Squidward?
Squid #1: No.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Are you Squidward?
Squid #2: No.
Patrick: [to a fire hydrant] Are you Squidward?
[silence]
Patrick: It's okay. Take your time.


Anyway, it's been three weeks and it's almost there, but not quite. I can pretty much do anything without pain except for massage the area of the tear. Once the sore spot is gone I should be good to go. In the meantime, I am living in an underwater sea-world much like Spongebob. I wake up, get wet, leave work, get wet again (that's what she said? Sorry Watson that may have been a reach). The worst part of two-a-day pool workouts isn't even the boredom - it's how cold the water is. Seriously, do they HAVE to make pools that frigid?! I'd rather do a 30k long run in -30 than get in the pool and hammer out a 90min pool run every evening. I emerge completely blue and am sure my dry skin is verging on scales at this point, so I pretty much AM morphing into a fish.

Goodtimes.


Even though I won't be racing, I look forward to watching the action this weekend at the SWTM. It is going to be an intensely exciting race for Reid, Eric, Dylan and Rob in the full marathon and I also look forward to seeing Sexton and Cliff go after it in the half. Krista DuChene is making a return to form after her fourth child (!) and my Angel sisters Kap 'N K, Katie S and Mama K are going to tear it up for sure. Good luck to all those racing!

Pretty sure this is what I'll look like when I can run again


For those who don't get the 'LEG!!!' joke, it's a recurring line in Spongebob, by some random sea creature called Fred. He basically yells it out at completely random moments...of which there are a lot in this show...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Roadblock

It's amazing what one can go through in a week. Last Saturday I could barely walk. Today I'm frustrated I can't flex my foot. Last Sunday I tried to go to the lab - 4 blocks away - and was reduced to a hobbling, sobbing mess halfway there. I contemplated plonking myself down on the pavement in order to finish off my sob-fest to avoid the compounding effect of a stabbing pain in my leg. I'm sure everyone around me thought I had lost a family member or had just gotten fired from my job. Nope, just shin pain. That's when you know you are a nutso runner.

I spent the entire day at work, trying to do my experiments but getting teary-eyed partway through anything. I thought my running days were over. How could I have any hope when I was a complete cripple? I worried that I might have a stress fracture, or perhaps MULTIPLE stress fractures. Heck, maybe my leg was actually broken! I thought about going to the hospital next door and asking for some crutches. At that point I couldn't care less about Chicago or a fall marathon, I just wanted the pain to END. I called Mama K at around 5pm and told her I was DONE. Being the Mama K that she is, she told me to go home, rest, not worry and call the doctor tomorrow. How could she be so logical?!

Going home only made things worse, however, since it meant walking back four blocks and undergoing the same crippling pain all over again. The four IBUprofen I took may have well been sugar pills. So what do I do when I finally get back home? Why, crack open my 'post-marathon' bottle of vodka and say 'screw it!' obviously! This provided temporary relief from my misery...until the fact that I had just consumed several drinks BY MYSELF on a Sunday night actually sunk in, and I became even more depressed. Luckily, a friend called me shortly after and suggested we meet up. Oh boy did that save me from destruction!

The next day was another struggle, though I seemed to be hobbling a little more efficiently. Luckily my supervisor is an MD, and seeing me limp down the hall in agony, he offered to look at my leg. He is quite the personality; he is constantly distracted, always multi-tasking, and projects a comet of energy wherever he goes. He generally bursts into the lab in a discombobulated frenzy a la Cosmo Kramer and proceeds to pepper whoever is there with completely random questions. He is never doing less than five things at once, three of which usually include BBM'ing, meeting with someone and speaking on the phone.

His running commentary during my assessment was quite the spectacle. 'Oh WOW well first of all your shin isn't bruised, it's discoloured - look at the right vs the left, it's a reddish colour, not bruised. And it's swollen, very swollen, take your socks off! Your ankle is even swollen, wow you really beat it up. What did you do? It was acute eh? BAM! After one run, just like that? [Answers phone] 'Hi honey!' [Looks at me] 'It's my daughter, gotta answer for the daughter,' [Continues talking to me, though I am not sure about this for a few sentences] 'Are you taking IBUprofen? Do you take a lot of IBUprofen? That's probably why you have stomach problems...'[I tried to interrupt to tell him I don't take NSAIDS that often in case he was actually talking to me, but it was to no avail]...'Now the part I'm pressing on now is muscle, that seems the most sore, all down the anterior tibialis. But there's a part right on your tibia that's tender too, that's not a good sign..I'll call you back honey' [hangs up phone] I tried to interject to ask if it was possible that I had a stess fracture too. 'Well yes that's a possibility, but there is definitely some soft tissue damage here too. You've either SEVERELY strained your anterior tibialis or you've torn it. Hopefully you don't also have a stress fracture, but could be the case. Regardless, even soft tissue takes time to heal, so no running for you for a while. Your number one priority should be to take care of YOU, THEN your running. Got it? I can hook you up with some great physiotherapists, some awesome ones at St. Mike's, yep so you can't really walk eh? You're kind of hobbling around...how's your lab work going?' At this point he was halfway done writing an e-mail to someone and I began to retreat out the door. I limped off back to the lab, not sure what to make of this 'diagnosis.' My labmate asked me what the consensus was. 'Um...a severe strain, or partial tear of the anterior tibialis. And possible stress fracture.' 'Ouff so you kinda hit all the bases there eh?' Yep, I guess so! Friggin' AWESOME.

I spent the rest of the week feeling sorry for myself and waking up every morning in pain. On the bright side, it got a little less painful each day, to the point that I could actually walk fairly normally on Wednesday and Thursday. What a glorious feeling! My supervisor got me a second opinion at St. Mike's, which unfortunately meant a second vote for a stress fracture, so I got a bonescan on Thursday. When I was told the scan was negative, I jumped so high that I thought for a second I had now actually given myself a stress fracture. Thank GOD!!! At that point, however, I was already fairly certain it was just a bad strain, since the most painful movement was pointing and flexing my foot (and it no longer hurt walking). I tried doing the elliptical for the past few days, which seems ok, but Nic is concerned that any cross-training is still impeding my recovery time. So, for the next 48 hours I am not allowed to exercise at all (again!), which totally sucks mentally. But I agree will likely speed my recovery, and if I still want to hammer a fall marathon, every day counts. Seeing how far I've come in a week, I am confident that this is a minor roadblock, and that Ill be back on the highway in no time.

I will now leave you with an emotional ode to my shin, adapted to the awesome new Usher and David Guetta song, 'WITHOUT YOU'. It is best read along with the song. I.e. it sucks on its own.

WITHOUT [MY SHIN]

I can't win, I can't run
I will never do this marathon
Without you
Without you

I am lost, I am in pain
Will I always be this lame
Without you
Without you

I won't run, I won't fly
I will just sit here and cry
Without you
WIthout you

I must rest, I must fight
All I need is you to be right
Without you
Without you

Oh-oh-oh
Youuuuu
Youuuuu
Youuuuu
Without you
Youuuuu
Youuuuu
Without you

Can't erase, so I'll take blame
It's what you get for being insane
Without you
Without you

I can't quit now, I won't lose sight
No exercise and restless nights
Without you
Without you

I'll be sore, I won't climb
If you're not right I'm paralyzed
Without you
Without you

I can't run
I'm so pined
I lost my sport
I lost my mind
Without you
Without you

Oh-oh-oh
Youuu
Youuuuu
Without you
Youuuuu
Youuuuu
Without you

I am lost
I am in pain
I will never be G.I. Jane
Without you
Without you
Without you


Monday, September 19, 2011

The Execution

Hmmm so I know I just posted a blog about a death run, but there is a comparably deadly type of run that I actually do willingly every 3-4 weeks called the execution run. I'm not actually trying to kill myself on all my long runs, but running is a pretty risky sport, and sometimes it just can't be avoided...perhaps slightly moreso if you do dumb things like try to run 45k in a foreign town by yourself with no liquids when you're drunk and it's 35 degrees with the humidex. Or dart across busy streets in the pitch black during rush hour in the middle of the winter (or better yet - during an ice storm). But sometimes, your coach tries to kill you instead.

That's right. You thought the execution run was MY idea?! Think again. Nicole even wrote an article about Execution Runs in the Globe and Mail. Check it out. No wonder we're called Angels. She's probably already killed us all and we're training in the cemetery in blissful ignorance. Anyway, as usual I am off on a bizarre tangent. In the article, Nicole describes the execution run as "an awesome but grueling run." True dat. It is awesome - if you get through it. For the most part, it's just grueling. In my experience training with Nicole, every execution run has been slightly different.

Coach Nic executing


I'll never forget the first execution run I did with her, in the cemetery of course, in January of 2010. It was -20, windy, the ground was snow-covered, I had a tender hamstring and had never run more than 30km. So naturally I jumped into a 28k execution, not really knowing what I was getting into. I showed up to practice and heard the girls anxiously chatting about how early they'd awoken to eat their patented pre-race meal and what they brought for fuel. They carried all kinds of bottles, belts, bars and gels and seemed quite distraught over finding the perfect place to lay it all down. I, meanwhile, had bolted out the door straight out of bed, empty-handed, and was jogging around madly trying to keep my singly-layered stems and dollar-store-gloved hands from freezing over. Eventually we gathered around Nic and she addressed our terrified faces with a devilish smile: 'Alright,' she said, 'The rules are: Start out slow. And if you speed up you CAN'T slow down. Finish with 2k HARD - I MUST, MUST, MUST see a pace change!' 'So if we don't 'execute,' I thought, 'then SHE will execute us?!' I began to get nervous. But it was too late for that.

Seconds later we were off, trudging through the snow. I found myself wanting to push the pace almost immediately - 4:20s?! It felt like a jog. I could go faster than that! Nic warned me not to go too soon. After 1 loop (6.5k) at 4:20 pace, Nic released her verbal hold on me and I began to pick up the pace, falling into stride with Lauren King, who was back in Toronto for her winter vacation. The pace dropped immediately to 4:12s and we continued along steadily for another loop. It began to get tougher at this point and I finally began to understand the reasoning behind the whole 'starting off slow' thing. The pace fell again. 4:08. After 3 loops (19.5k) my hamstring started to act up and I decided against executing, for fear that it would literally kill me (or my hamstring). Luckily, Nic didn't punish me, but seeing the other girls flail and gasp for breath in the last 2k of their workout instilled enough fear in me to be deathly nervous for the next one.

Here I am almost two years later with many execution runs under my belt, and I am no longer afraid of them. After this weekend I would actually argue that perhaps I have begun to underestimate just how hard they can be on your body. Funnily enough, my approach hasn't changed much - I still don't take gels, and although I'll usually bring a water bottle, I rarely take more than one or two sips through the entire run. I also continue to dress poorly in the cold weather, meaning I wear shorts until it starts to snow and thin tights in -20C. I suppose the only thing that's changed is that I wear massive lobster mitts because I've gotten frostbite so many times. That'll teach ya.

The plan for the execution run this weekend was to run 16k at an easy pace, then do 3 loops (19.5k) at marathon pace (3:50-3:55) or slightly slower, and execute with 1km hard. I knew I was fit enough to do this workout without too much trouble, but I wanted to nail it since it was my last big run until the marathon. Unfortunately, my shin was pretty sore after my run Thursday night, and even after a day off Friday it felt tight and sore. I had had this kind of fascial pain before that usually went away after a few days, so I wasn't too worried. I decided to do the execution on it and rest up afterwards if it got any worse. Uh-huh. S-M-A-R-T.

I woke up on Saturday and headed out the door at 6:40AM for 16k easy. My legs felt good, but I could feel my shin. I worried a little that it could get worse once I started to run hard, but I'm G.I. (Great Idiot?) Jane, so obvi I ignored it. I met Anne at the cemetery at 8AM to start the marathon-pace portion of the run. We went through 1k in 4:13, making me cringe since I was sure it was at least 4:00/km. My legs got into it soon enough, however, and I finished the first loop with 4:00/3:59/3:48/3:47/3:48 kms and a 3:55/km average. I was happy - my shin, however, was NOT. I felt it throb, especially on the downhills, but of course didn't contemplate stopping - the rest of me felt GREAT (so logical). Donna hopped in for 5k in the second loop, helping me bring down the pace to 3:46s AND take my mind off my leg. When she left me I maintained 3:47s for another loop, still feeling strong. As I climbed the last hill before my 1k execution, I saw the Varsity girls taking off on their tempo run. 'Perfect,' I thought, 'I'll catch 'em on the execution!' I started to hammer and eventually chased them down, crossing the 1k mark in 3:30. I think I threw my hands up dramatically and swore pretty loudly at this point since I failed to get in a sub-3:30 (must have been entertaining as they ran by seconds later), but overall was happy with the run. It only took a few seconds before I knew I had better book it home as my shin began to throb profusely. So, 6k later, I hobbled into Starbucks with 42k in the bag and a 3:04 total clocking, including 20k at 3:49/km average. You'd think I'd be happy. But I wasn't. For the first time, I was executed by the execution run.

The rest of the day, I pretty much sat on my ass and refreshed the bag of ice on my shin. I occasionally got up to take some more IBUprofen or eat a bag of gluten-free chips in moroseful self-pity. It was pretty sad. My Dad, who suffers from arthritis and who currently has a herniated disc, was in town that night and took me out to dinner. It must have been a pretty funny sight: I'm not sure who looked more encumbered climbing up the stairs at The Keg - the 26-year-old light and fit daughter, or the 65-year-old arthritic Dad with a herniated disc. Sometimes I feel like this running thing makes you live in dramatic extremes, where you're either hammering out a 20-miler with youthful jubilance or crawling down the street slower than a senior citizen. Unfortunately, two days later I am still stuck in the latter mode (um it took me 15 minutes to hobble four blocks today. Enough said.), and after a diagnosis of a severely strained and potentially partially torn anterior tibialis muscle, I think I might be here for a while. Strangely, I am not *that* upset about it - it sucks, but I am welcoming a little break from running. There's nothing I can do but rest and hope for the best - if it heals soon, I'll run Chicago - if not, I'll just run a later marathon. No biggie. I know I'm already ready at this point. If anything, I've finally learned to respect the execution - and really understand the reason behind its "intriguing" name!

The Coolis Cripples trying to look happy

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Keep going

The countdown is on: four weeks to go until the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, hellz yes! I just completed another mileage PB for the week of 138 miles. My body has morphed into some kind of super-human running machine, I don't get it. I never thought I'd be able to run this much, but I'm starting to appreciate what the body can adapt to with slow and consistent increases in training. All I hope is that I keep 'er going for another two weeks, until the blissful taper begins!

Keep Going


Last week was one of my best weeks of training - not just because of the numbers, but because I got in two of my highest volume interval workouts as well as a solid overdistance run. On Monday I was advised to take it easy during the workout since I had just done a 50k run two days earlier. Being the obedient little athlete that I am, I went up to Churchill early and decided to do my own 'tempo pace' workout and end it in time to say hello to the girls. I'm sure this is hard to believe, but I ended up doing a little more volume than anticipated. I swapped the planned 400s for a few 3k repeats, which in my backwards way seemed less daunting. In keeping with the backwards theme, my legs only began to feel good AFTER 2x3k, so I tacked on another for 3x3k in 11:20/11:05/10:59. The ladies had already started on their 400s, and I guess I felt left out (or I am just nuts), since I decided to hop in for five of them. I got down to about 76s - perhaps a *little* out of range from tempo pace - then went on to join them for hills (‘hills don't count, right?’ I told myself). Such was the progression to me doing their full workout on top of 3x3k and not taking it easy at all! I ended up running almost 14k of intervals, more than I ever have before. Nice. I am SO good at following directions!

I took it easy for a few days knowing I had a 12x1k w/90s rest workout coming on Thursday morning. My legs felt pretty horrible on Wednesday night, meaning I shuffled pathetically home from the Ninja workout and took rest breaks at every stop light. When I am not dodging traffic, you KNOW I am tired. I am pretty sure I was running 6min/km but refused to look at my watch for confirmation of this depressing fact. On Thursday morning, I was convinced I’d feel the same way, but miraculously the legs came around. Again, I am at a loss for explanations here. I pulled off a solid effort: 3:52/3:40/3:39/3:36/3:35/3:29/3:31/3:27/3:30/3:29/3:30/3:25.

I felt pretty fresh on Saturday for the long run too and got in another over-distance run of 46k, which included 5k tempo (4:07/km) in the last 12k.

Ninjas Jeff and Rachael spreadin' the Energy and the Energizer Night Race!


Speaking of keepin' 'er going, Saturday night was the inaugoral Toronto Energizer Bunny Night Race, an awesome event put on by the Women's Only Series race director Cory Freedman, who is ironically nicknamed the Energizer Bunny for her permanently bouncy stride and contagious enthusiasm. The event was held in Sunnybrook Park at sunset, meaning we raced through darkness wearing headlamps powered by Energizer. I volunteered as a race route guide and had a great time out on the course - the entertainment was unbelievable and included glow-in-the-dark jugglers, hula-hoopers and clowns on stilts. It was so impressive!

Mama K and G.I. J chillin' with the bunny pre-sunset

A shout out to Cory is definitely deserved, who did an absolutely FANTASTIC job organizing this run. I think one of the highlights was the pre-race dance warm-up to Rihanna and Usher and various other awesome pop songs. The pelvic thrusts and hip rotations were a new and exciting addition to my pre-existing warm-up routine (of course it already included leg kicks and booty shakes) and one I think the Angels should definitely adopt. To hell with drills! I apologize for exposing you to more of my god-awful cinematography, but here is a little taste of this epic warm-up. ENJOY.

Note the awesome booty-shake.


SHAKE YOUR BOOTY

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Dartmouth DEATH RUN

Um so you MAY recall my innocent, off-the-cusp remark about 'attempting...a long run PB of 45km (insert joyous, light-hearted exclamation mark here).' Thankfully I did cap this thought off with an 'Oh dearie.' That would be a much more fitting description of the reality of my initial attempt, henceforth known as the Dartmouth Death Run.

I went to visit my brother in Halifax for his 30th birthday last weekend. The keyword being THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY. Another important word being TRAVELLING TO HALIFAX. Ok those might be more than one word. Anyway, the point is that I forked up half of my graduate student stipend in order to go visit the fool with the only point of my visit being to celebrate with him. I also happened to have a long run scheduled for the day following the party...a 45k long run. Some would call that an ultra-marathon. Pretty awesome eh? So what was I to do? Be a sober, lame party pooper? Or do my sisterly duty and get my brother severely intoxicated? (Obviously, it is impossible to get him drunk without getting just as drunk myself). Clearly, I had no choice.

Happy Birtday Jepray!


I arrived at Porter so early this time around that I had enough time to sit in the lounge area. Imagine that, I've never actually had time to sit in the waiting area! It's a pretty nice place - big, soft chairs, coffee tables, little reading lamps, and best of all - free refreshments! Lounging there does make you feel pretty refined. I made a quick transition from sophisticated to sloppy, however, as I booted it from the airport to the bar to meet my brother. I arrived there and was greeted by him and twenty friends, all of whom I didn't know. So how do you cope with the initial awkwardness of talking to twenty strangers? Why, finish your flask of vodka and then order two martinis at dinner, of course! Yep, obviously I didn't do this...I'm just saying that would have been an easy thing to do, Rrrright. Anyway, after dins we headed to what is now one of the most amazing clubs I have ever been to. EVER. I have no idea what it was called, but we walked in - no lineup - and proceeded to pay a ONE DOLLAR cover charge. I don't think I've ever paid so little to get into a club. I spent a good two minutes staring at the woman in disbelief, waiting for her face to crack into a joking smile. Instead there was just an awkward silence. I was incredulous! In a euphoric frenzy I went straight to the bar and ordered a gazillion shots for everyone (this is how I end up saving money, not sure how I'm always broke), thinking I'd put down a good $100. Well, do you know what 10 shots cost in Hali? $20!!! I'm not kidding. I think I am going to move to Halifax, it is such a wonderful place.

We danced the night away without incident, so of course I had to make up for this on the way home. As usual, I ripped off my heels once we got out of the club (a la Shoeless Coolis, obvi) and insisted on walking barefoot (the first time I did this in Montreal I earned the nickname 'Bitch with no shoes'...from my BEST FRIEND. I think I started yelling at some people who were making fun of me across the street. Whatever, who makes fun of a poor girl without shoes?!.). I was warned against doing this again, so of course I started to stomp around barefoot proudly, promptly 'stubbing' my toe on the concrete. Everyone pretty much ignored my cries (I deserved that), until we got in the car and I lifted my foot up, which was now gushing with blood. Turns out I had actually sliced it open. Nice. When we got home, my brother's girlfriend handed me a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, which I apparently began to pour all over my feet. 'It doesn't hurt at all!" I yelled. Awesome. Unfortunately, three hours later I would wake up with a throbbing toe, a pounding headache and the spins like no other (interpretation: still drunk).

So, what do I do when my alarm goes off and I'm still drunk? Bail on the run? Of course not! 'At least,' I thought, 'I'll run off the hangover!' I got dressed and out the door by 8am, at which point I fully realized I wasn't yet quite hungover. My head was spinning and I was a mess. My plan was to go to Dartmouth, where there is a lake I could run around for up to 30km. I tried for about 20min to find the bridge to get there (in my defense, it was strangely foggy that morning...and it WASN'T just my head!). I finally figured out how to get on the pedestrian sidewalk and into Dartmouth, and after about 45min I started to feel better. My head cleared up, and my legs felt good. My stomach, however, took a turn for the worse. I stopped at a gas station, which made me feel better...for about 20min. Then the cycle began: start 10min. Stop 5min. Start 10min. Stop 5min. It was like failing the Running Room run-walk program. This continued for the next hour, until the stops became even more frequent and I felt increasingly ill. Finally, 2hrs15min into my 'run' I called it. I was done, and I wouldn't run another step. I looked around. I had ducked into some trails by the lake and had absolutely NO IDEA where I was. To make matters worse, it was 30 degrees, sunny and I had no fluids on me. Compound the fact that I had been drinking all night and had consumed exactly zero ounces of water, and you might begin to understand how dehydrated I was. Not to mention starving. So I just started walking. About 45min later, I saw a sign saying 'CAMP SCHUBE'. 'Yes! Civilization!' I yelped. I found the main office and walked in, making the woman at the front jump in horror. I must have looked like a drenched, ghostly, starving, lost wild animal. Her reaction made me question whether I had also forgotten to take last night's makeup off; perhaps I was more raccoon-like than I had thought. I asked if they had anything to drink and she quickly pointed to a fridge at the back. It instantaneously lit up like a heavenly archway. Pepsi? Lemonade? Gatorade? Orange Crush? I salivated at the sight of everything. I wanted one of each. How was I to decide? I settled on several bottles of Pepsi and Lemonade, convinced that I would be able to chug 2L on the spot. I then asked the woman how to get back to Halifax. 'There's a bus stop around the corner,' she began, 'but you have to HURRY! It will be there any minute! You have to run! Now! Go! Goooo!' She became increasingly shrill. I let out a loud belch, thanked her for the pop and lazily made my way out the door, completely ignoring her frantic cues to hussle to the bus stop. I pretty much didn't care at that point - there was no way I was running. Plus I was pretty happy with all my sugary soft drinks, which I had already began to chug furiously. I got to the bus stop and big surprise - no bus in sight. So I decided I would hitch-hike. I figured Nova Scotians were a pretty friendly bunch. So there I stood, one thumb raised into the street and the other hand lifting a bottle of Pepsi to my visage, burping and chugging away. Several cars went by, but no one stopped. I couldn't understand why, but I began to get pretty discouraged. Then, I saw a big truck in the distance - no, not a truck, it was train. No, a train wouldn't be on a road, would it? Wait, could it be a...yes! Yes it was! It was a BUS! HALLELUJAH! The bus was late! I jumped for joy. I hopped on and eventually made it back into Halifax (small town buses seem to like to take a lot of detours...). I got off at a random stop - the right one by complete fluke - and managed to find my brother's place. By this time it was almost 1pm, and my brother and his girlfriend had just woken up. I walked in and they began to shower me with congratulations 'You did it! Wow! We are so impressed you got up and did your big run!!!' At which point I had to explain to them how I was out for 5 hours and only ran for 2 of them...nice. Ashley made everything better with copious amounts of scrambled eggs and sausage, however, and soon enough I felt back to normal. If I accomplished one thing on the Darmouth Death Run, I definitely got rid of all the alcohol in my system! So at least it was good for something?

Theodore Tugboat! (Not really related to anything in this post...)


An essential visit to SWEET JANE'S. Sweet Indeed!


So last weekend being a total FAIL, I pushed the long run to this weekend. I did it yesterday and in comparison to last week, it was about one trillion billion times better. I started out around 4:45-50/km and after 25k brought it down to 4:40s, then 4:30s and finished with 9k or so at 4:20/km for 50km total. The best part was how easy it felt...umm, perhaps because I had such a horrible comparison?! This is why, my friends, training off vodka can help you in the long run (in more ways than one!).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The head-bob battle

Every day at around 3 or 4 o'clock, it happens. A wave of fatigue rushes over me, my eyelids start to droop, and my head begins to drop. As much as I try and resist it, I can't fight it. I strain to keep my eyes open and my head upright. I blink and shake my head, adjust my posture, hell sometimes even refresh the browser on my computer thinking that I too will be in renewed in the process. This head-bob battle may continue for ten minutes before my head takes an even deeper dive, almost hitting my desk. A few hovering, shallow bobs later, my head is buried face-down in my arms - or on a bad day, lies exposed on the naked, hard, wood. In the past, I have conquered the head-bob battle more than it has conquered me: lately, however, I have succumbed to a pitiful defeat, ending in a deep, peaceful desktop slumber.

The head-bob battle is not new to me, nor I am sure is it new to anyone out there reading this. I wouldn't be surprised if my blog has even induced many a head-bob. If you've been in school as long as I have, however, it may be a little more familiar. I would rarely get through a class without feeling the need for a few minutes of 'blind learning'. In grad school, however, I spend most of my time at the lab bench - that is, on my feet and walking around. It's not often that I find myself closing my eyes and head-bobbing walking to the centrifuge, or pipetting into tubes. But lately, it has been happening pretty much anywhere. All rules thrown out the window. I think I could fall asleep using the ear-shattering sonicator for all I know. This could prove a serious hazard considering where I work, though thankfully mostly to myself, so I won't be sued for negligent induction of cancer on another human being. So it's really OK.

Once, I was beaten by the head-bob and was passed out on a pile of papers on my desk. I guess I had been there for a while, since I was eventually discovered by my supervisor, who came up from behind yelling "Are you DROOLING on that Chris Marshall paper?!" I jolted up, startled and discom-bob-ulated (no pun intended) only to see a large puddle of saliva over my now translucent papers. "Um...it was just so...salivatingly interesting.." I attempted to joke. He stared at me curiously. A pretty awkward silence ensued, at the end of which he asked if I had been drinking the night before. Just in case I wasn't humiliated enough, he - my BOSS - had to point out my napping AND vodka-bingeing tendencies in one go. How wonderful. I felt truly special at this moment (and worthy of a PhD).

At least that time my supervisor already knew me (or should I say 'accepted my uniqueness'). When I first arrived in the lab I had an unfortunate head-bob defeat at one of my first lab meetings. To make matters worse, the post-doc who was presenting was the one I was working under. I knew nothing about her research, making it that much more important that I be paying close attention. I was sick at the time and had taken some VERY drowsy cold medication the night before and so was extremely tired (I am convinced it was still coarsing through my veins the next morning...though it may have also been *slightly* compounded by a 5:30AM workout and a complete lack of understanding of a word the post-doc was saying). Nevertheless, my eyelids soon felt like 5lb bricks crashing down on my face. I had no choice but to surrender to the ensueing head-dive. I hoped that since I was sitting near the back and that the lights were dim no one would notice. Oh, how wrong I was! Afterwards, not only did my supervisor ask me what the hell was wrong with me, but I heard the post-doc ranting in the next room about my insulting behaviour. What a great way to make a good first impression (I seem to be good with these in academic settings...).

So here we are, years later, and my desktop napping has reached its peak (or at least, I HOPE it's at its peak!). Luckily my supervisor is away this week, since I have been beaten by the head-bob at least once a day. However, it doesn't help that I sit in an open-concept office and right next to another professor in my department. I am pretty sure he thinks I am either the laziest person to set foot on the earth or that I am severely anemic. But when the wave comes on, there's nothing I can do. I suppose I deserve this for running 115 mile weeks and waking up at 5:30 every morning, and perhaps this is just a bad week. I have never been one to take real naps (I think I can count on one hand the number of midday naps I've had since highschool). so these intermittent 'time-outs' are quite frustrating. Not just because they interrupt my day, but because I become useless and unmotivated afterwards. The only thing I want to do when I come-to is crawl home and into bed. Instead, I usually have to go run 12 miles. I have yet to bail on an afternoon workout, but I fear that day will come soon. And that day will be an ugly, sad, guilt-laden day my friends.

Luckily, once I get out the door everything seems to feel fine. My workouts over the past two weeks have continued to progress. Last week was a solid 115 miles coming off the 10-miler that included two quality workouts. Thursday was my strongest workout as it included 10km of volume with three hard intervals (two 1k repeats and one 2k repeat) where I finally dipped under 7:00 for the 2k loop (6:58). I have wanted to do that for the past year! On Saturday I got in about 23k of marathon-pace tempo within a 34k run - it felt pretty tough, but I was satisfied with how it went considering how tired my legs felt going into it. This weekend I will be in Halifax visiting my brother for his 30th birthday (wooot!) and I will be attempting a milestone of my own - a long run PB of 45km! Oh dearie. There could be a lot of head-bobbing next week.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Acura 10-meh-ler



I was stoked to race this weekend at the Acura 10-miler; the CRS put on a great event and recruited a great field to foster some good competition. As far as my performance goes, however, the day turned out to be rather underwhelming. It wasn't an awful race by any means, but it also wasn't a great race. In short: Meh.

A few days before the race my IT began to act up and was sore and throbbing until Saturday night. I decided to race on it anyway, vowing to back off and take 3-4 non-running days afterwards if the race made it any worse. Miraculously, not only did it feel fine in the warm-up, but throughout the race and afterwards. I have clearly found the answer to IT band pain -just go out and HAMMER a 10 mile run. Obviously, not sure why I didn't think of that one before! Nicole has a bit of a different theory - that perhaps it was pre-race nerves. Interpretation: I am actually crazy and made up the throbbing pain in my head. Huh? Good to know she thinks I am a stable person. She admitted to having these sorts of pre-race pains when she was in her prime, but SHE is obviously a whacko! Sheesh, I am completely normal.

So anyway, on the morning of the race, my IT may have felt fine but the rest of my legs most certainly did NOT (and no, I did not make this up in my head either!). They felt heavy and lethargic and completely empty of any pizzazz. How was I supposed to race without any pizzazz? Naturally, I sought it elsewhere. I decked myself out in hot pink and painted my nails malibu barbie, convinced that it was all I needed to feel fresh. I headed out the door on my warm-up, only to be crushed by the heaviness of my glittering legs (ya, I pizzazzed them too). I slogged down to the Distillery and finished my warmup with some slow-mo strides that I'm pretty sure matched my race pace. My head was not in this! 'Oh well,' is all I thought 'I'm just going to run my own race and that's that.'

The gun went off and about a hundred people blew by me as I ran at what I thought was a full-out sprint but what was more like a turkey trot. I fell into stride with a tall lanky guy who proceeded to pepper me with questions and state that he was going to stick with me and aim to run around 60min. I was jealous of his energy and bouncy stride, but am sure that he thought I was a complete bitch as I gave him curt, one-worded answers and then just completely ignored him for the rest of the race (I apologize if he is out there reading this!). If only he knew that a 3:50 first km was me working at maximum capacity! Surprisingly, he did stay with me until about 13k and was actually good company during the long, lonely kilometers along the Leslie Spit.

Starting out slow. Good times.


Though I secretly wanted to dip under 60:00, I quickly threw any time goals out the window when I realized that I was working very hard for a relatively slow pace. I stopped looking at my watch and just ran by feel, trying to push a little harder with every passing kilometer. I began to feel better as the race went on and at halfway (30:35) I peeked at my watch and was convinced I would be able to negative-split by a minute and snag a sub-60 performance. Of course, when you think you can negative-split, you usually run even, and when you think you can run even, you usually slow down (and when you feel like death, you will usually die...HARD). So even though I pushed the intensity in the last 6k, I only marginally increased my pace and ran a mere 10s faster over the second half. I was happy to get under the minute mark (1:00:59.5!) but overall not thrilled with my time. After all, I split 58-something en route to a HM this past spring. It was a fast course, but I had also run 3:45-7s for almost the same distance within a 21k workout two weeks ago, on a more challenging course - so how did this make any sense?!) I do understand, however, that things can change a lot on a given day and under certain conditions, so I'm certainly not going to question my fitness based on this result. And despite my time I was pleased that I was passing peeps in the second half and ended up 5th overall behind Pidhoresky, Asefa, Njeri and Sexton. Going into the race I knew I could run well and be as far back as 7th, so I couldn't really complain about my final placing and a $200 cheque!

Heading into the finish!


Award Ceremony


A bunch of the Angels raced and we all sported our new spunky singlets courtesy of Zensah compression apparel. They were very comfortable and generally awesome because they are pink. I know. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. We had a number of great performances in the group, including our newbie Gusto placing 8th female in 1:05, and Val in a big PB of 1:09. Good work ladies!

Congrats Gusto, Val and Kap 'N K!


Of course we went out afterwards to celebrate race performances and Mihira's birthday and were all drunk before noon. I'm not sure Mihira was all too thrilled with the vodka shot we made him take minutes after finishing his first beer, but a few minutes later he seemed pretty happy.

Happy Birthday Mihira!


We were also happy to bring along our honorary Angel, Ms. Sexton, who finally admitted to us how much she wanted a pink Angel's racing singlet. I am pretty sure she has been desperate for one for quite some time. Unfortunately, Sexton, eating and drinking with us does not qualify as training, so although you are an honorary Angel, you are not a real one. Brutal, I know, but in order to wear angelic pink you must come to out our practices! Um, ya, so just let us know when you're coming out! ;)

Yeah, we're cool.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dat's some MAINE MILEAGE girlllll

Apparently I am a cursed traveller. Perhaps *some* of the events of my Montreal trip were partially my fault, but my latest adventure leaves everyone to blame but myself. I SWEAR.

I was set to go to the exciting town of Lewiston, Maine for a research conference from Sunday to Friday. I arrived at the airport an entire 1hr45min early - PLENTY of time in Coolis land. Apparently, however, in anal airport land it's equivalent to arriving at Porter 20min before your scheduled flight. I ended up waiting in a never-ending customs line for over an hour (at the end of which, the official asked if I was old enough to attend a conference. With my passport in hand. WTF?!). I was left with a mere 30 minutes to get through security and onto my plane. Another lineup later, security demanded I take my shoes off - my 'shoes' being flimsy flip-flops, the only footwear that fails to encumber my painful conglomerate of plantar warts, blisters and missing toenails. I'm not sure exactly what happened to whoever was in line in front of me (and I don't think I really want to know), since the end result was a trail of blooding on the floor leading through the scanner and onto the other side. 'Umm...you want me to walk through this? Barefoot?' I asked timidly. 'YES.' He looked down. 'One second,' He signalled to someone with a tissue to come and wipe up the small pools of blood, as if THAT would properly sanitize the area and eliminate any risk of contracting some contagious disease! (As someone later astutely pointed out, it was far worse for the person behind me, who would undoubtedly emerge from security with bloodstained feet AND a fresh set of plantar warts. Duly noted.) Since I was too scared of the big burly man and too anxious about missing my flight, I hopped around the blood-ridden areas and through the scanner and grabbed my sandals, just as I heard an announcement 'paging passenger COOLIS to flight 3792 with service to Washington, DC, this the final boarding call. Your luggage is subject to removal from the aircraft if you do not show up at the gate in two minutes.' I flew down the escalators, suddenly realizing I had to pee more than I've ever had to in my life. I debated stopping at the washroom, convincing myself that I could be in and out in 45s and still make my flight. Fortunately I decided against it and instead strained to run as fast as I could down the corridor without compromising my bladder control. I got to the gate with seconds to spare, legs crossed like an un-potty-trained puppy, and was ushered down the chute to the aircraft. At this point I continued sprinting down the aisle toward the washroom, carry-on bag in hand. I am sure all the passengers feared I was some crazy terrorist fleeing to the back of the plane to set off a bomb - why else would I continue on with my frantic sprint?! Alas, to everyone's relief (but mostly mine) I soon exited the washroom and settled into my seat, avoiding the curious stares around me. The man sitting beside me turned to me and asked simply 'are you a runner?'. I nodded, and we were off.

Ironically, it didn't really matter that I made this flight, since my next flight was delayed for SIX HOURS in Washington. First, the plane was 30min late. Then, the crew disappeared. How does an airline crew DISAPPEAR? I wondered if it was possible they could get lost in the airport. I pictured them wandering around aimlessly, unable to find their next departure gate. I understand that airports can be large, confusing places, but really, that's like me getting lost in the lab. Do doctors get lost in the hospital? Does Obama get lost in the Whitehouse? The situation didn't seem to make much sense. We were then updated that the crew simply flew somewhere else. Ooohhh I see, so they were so confused they got on the wrong plane? And it took off? Our flight nearly got cancelled, until at 10pm they announced that we'd be getting a new plane and new crew members, 'and we'll see about your luggage.' 'SEE' about our luggage? WHAT? So the crew flew off in our plane, with our luggage? Did they just forget to board the plane? Is this what they were trying to admit to us? I was at a loss at this point. Apparently the woman working at the gate couldn't take the stress of 100 passengers asking her what the hell was going on, so she left too. Awesome. Soon after this, the phone at the gate started ringing. Naturally, some random dude on our flight got up and answered it. 'Gate D14 speaking,' he said a-matter-of-factly. At this point there was a chorus of laughter - at least people were finding some hilarity in the situation. I, meanwhile, had already started to blog about it and had been giggling uncontrollably to myself in the corner for the last two hours (this is what happens while I am writing blogs). They notified us of a futher delay and went back to their initial prediction of a cancelled flight. Then the phone rang again. 'This had better be fantastic news' was the greeting this time around. The man got off the phone and yelled to everyone 'WE'RE MOVING! NEW DEPARTURE GATE, WE'RE GOING TO GATE A PEOPLE!' Well glad we had some responsible patrons that were taking control of the airline communication! Finally - and I mean FINALLY - after we waited another 30min for the last crew member to arrive - we were on our way to Portland. We landed at 1AM and fortunately so did our bags. I ended this amazing trip with a 1-hour cab ride to Lewiston, where I would be staying for the next 5 days.

Bates College campus


Some would say this conference is a pretty big deal. At least, the people attending think they're a big deal. And I guess most of them are. So of course I am rooming next to professors from all over the world who have discovered some critical gene in cancer and who have probably cured one form of the disease or another. And it's my first time meeting them. So what do I do on the first day to impress them? Well, let me tell you! Of course I was running twice a day on this trip, squeezing in 12-milers before and after talks. So I got back from a run, left my room to take a shower, and returned wearing a skimpy towel and unruly hair only to discover that I had forgotten my key and was locked out. I paused and looked around, wondering what my options were. Walk to the security office (one block away) in nothing but a towel, and ask them to let me in? Try and scale the walls of the dormroom and enter via the window? Or ask some random person to call security for me? Just as I was about to leave the building and take my chances being seeing half-nude on the street, one of the professors from the conference turned the corner and jumped at the sight of me. I looked down in embarassment. 'Umm...I got locked out of my room,' I admitted shamefully. She looked at me sternly. 'Well, that's unfortunate! Where on earth were you intending on going in THAT?!' 'Uh. Security?' I responded innocently. 'Let me call the office, and I'll get security down here,' she continued, 'I'm on my way to meet someone, but I'll get someone sent over. What's your name?' I debated giving her a fake name, but realized that wouldn't help me any, so gave her my real identity. 'Are you one of the dancers here?' What? I thought to myself. This is just great. Not only do I come across as a complete idiot, but a hooker as well. That's just awesome. 'Um no I'm with the conference,' I answered, a little more firmly this time. 'REALLY?!' She could not hide her surprise. 'How old are you?!' Once again, I had to convince her that I was actually 10 years older than she thought I was. Luckily, after this she was much friendlier to me, and actually went to security and got them to come back and let me in. So now when my supervisor asks me if I met Adrienne Cox, a speaker at the conference, I can tell him that we actually had quite an intimate encounter, where she saw me half nude and mistook me for an exotic dancer. Nice.

The scientists I normally hang out with. Kinda laid back.


I later found out that it wasn't SO bad - it turns out there was a dance camp going on at the same time as the conference so at all the meals, half the room was filled with flamboyantly-dressed, loud and colourful young dancers and the other half with conservative, quiet and pensive scientists. It was quite an interesting clash of personalities. I actually seemed to fit in better with the dancers and ate a couple meals with them. They were an entertaining bunch. I especially enjoyed the one girl who was told by her instructor to get a new weave. I don't think she liked this idea: Girrrrl, 'I ain't gettin' no Maine weave! Who she tryin' to fool makin' me get some weave in Maine, yo they be messin' with yo hair down here. Girrrrrrl!'

As per usual, I digress. And of course with all the stories I have from this trip, I have neglected anything about my actual training! This week was supposed to be a low-intensity week with no workouts and plain 'ol mileage. I did doubles most days and reached a record mileage over 6 days of 128 miles. Although they were relatively un-intense miles, they weren't easy, as the small town of Lewiston was annoyingly hilly. At least they warned you with clear street names, such as 'Mountain Avenue,' (straight uphill), 'Big Road,' and my personal favourite - a near complete vertical road called 'OLD BLOODY HILL ROAD.' Amen! Why can't Toronto have such honest names? It would make for a much more entertaining tour of the city. Like 'Longest Street' instead of Yonge Street...'Rich Avenue' in place of Yorkville Avenue...um but mainly I'd way rather live on 'Money Road' instead of Bay Street. I mean, who wouldn't?!

So accurate


They also like to point out how big their houses are


Lookin' forward to a down week this week, capped off with the Acura 10-miler. Should be a great race with lotsa speedsters headin' down!