Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter over water

I was so comfortable living in denial of an impending Ontario winter, but alas (perhaps quite appropriately), on Friday the 13th I was smacked in the face with it. I jogged to the gym in shorts at 5am under a light drizzle, hammered 90min on the elliptical, and innocently stepped back outside, only to be flung sideways by a massive gust of wind and blinded by a pelleting snowstorm. Awesome! I somehow made it to my Southern destination of Starbucks despite jogging at a 45 degree angle, where I anticipated being greeted with incredulous stares at my naked, flushed stems. Instead I was for once treated like a normal human being. What the? The Starbucks employee even asked me – quite nonchalantly - if it was slippery out. Seriously?! Did she actually think I went for a legit run in shorts in -20C and snowing?! I suppose I am beginning to comprehend just how crazy they think I am.

The next day, however, I bundled up in some impressive ninja attire and did 90min along the Lakeshore. It was -25C with the wind chill, but it actually didn’t feel so bad. After this run, however, I got a slew of comments from everyone all along the lines of “I can’t believe you are running in this!” A familiar face from Starbucks, Matthew, introduced himself to me and proceeded to ask me if I had a certain inclination to running in extreme conditions: “I saw you run every day in the summer through some pretty bad heat waves. And it’s like -20C today! You must run marathons.” I have to say Matthew is pretty astute – he recognizes all kinds of crazy when he sees it. And after watching the marathons in Houston this weekend, I agree you have to be a little whacko to keep at this marathon game. As someone very intelligent once said, “running is a very hard thing.”

All weather aside, it feels great to be back running and doing workouts that do not involve the pool. I think I’m actually scarred from all the swimming and pool running I did. I am terrified at the thought of ever entering a pool again! It did nothing to help my injury and is now only associated with feelings of hoplessness, sadness and despair. Perhaps you may think that I am overreacting but I beg to differ! However, I should probably make up a more hardcore story to defend my pool phobia, like almost freezing to death in the ocean or something. Actually, now that I think of it I did have a near-death experience in water before. It was in the South of France when I was about nine years old. I was playing in the water pretty close to shore when a GIGANTIC wave tore through the water and sent me crashing face-first into the rocky ocean floor. It was terrifying. I didn’t know which way was up or down and spent a good minute just getting grinded into the ground (twss). I thought I was going to die. Suddenly I felt a pair of hands grab me and lift me up. It was a French lady who began to scream things at me that I couldn’t understand, so naturally I ran away from her and found my parents, who were up on the beach...probably sipping on Champagne or something (they never were the overprotective type). My terror quickly turned into pride as I began to tell them in grandiose fashion about my battle with the giant wave and struggles to escape the swallowing seas. I showed them my scrapes from rocky encounters and bruising from my initial impact. I described how my life flashed before my eyes and I contemplated giving into the water’s strong arms, but then valiantly fought back and conquered Mother Nature’s force. My parents ooohed and aaaahed as if I were reading from a Jules Verne story, not really believing a word I said. This made me pretty frustrated, so I stomped into the streets of Nice and bought a huge pack of postcards and decided to write my story to absolutely everyone I knew in Canada, including my entire fourth grade class. They would believe me! When I got back to my parents’ blanket they actually showed genuine concern, since the frazzled French lady had come and yelled at them for neglecting me. Ha! Still, I wrote my story on every postcard and sent them out. It got pretty tiring writing the same story thirty times over, so the story got progressively shorter. My old babysitter still laughs recalling the postcard she received reading ‘Hi Paula! I am in Nice, I got hit by a wave and almost drowned. Bye!’ However, I did return to fourth grade a hero and a veteran of the dangerous Mediterranean. That was pretty cool.

So there, now I have a legitimate reason to be afraid of the pool, right? I suppose a pool story would have been better, but this will have to do. After all, I would never just make up a story...

So running-wise I’m putting in about 70k a week with one day off and supplementing with a ton of cross-training. I am actually enjoying my elliptical workouts since it’s the only time I can really push the intensity and get in a tough workout: my jogs are still executed in grandma-like style. I am happy to report, though, that I have graduated from extended laps around my block to legit out-and-back routes! The shin soreness comes and goes so I know I still have to be careful and continue to strengthen it. I’m rocking the 30lb weight dorsi-flexion routine so if that doesn’t eventually get it strong enough, I don’t know what will! Well, I guess I do, but it involves a lot of sharp pins and electricity coarsing through my tendons and muscles, which is much less pleasant than weight-lifting.

Speaking of weight-lifting, I’ve decided to work on my all-over strength, so I am rocking the weights with a bunch of big dudes every other day. I’m getting pretty into it. Need to work on my grunting and dramatic , face-twisting, torturous finishes to the last lifts of each set, but otherwise I think I fit in just perfectly!


  1. Admire your dedication! 70km + cross-training sounds like a strenuous schedule! What does a typical day of working out look like for you? Curious! Congrats on the injury recovery.

  2. Hi there! Yes my schedule is pretty full-on. But I'm really enjoying it right now after so many months not feeling like I was doing anything. During the week I'll do around 90min on the elliptical in the morning and go for a jog or a shorter elliptical session in the evening. On the weekends I do a mix of run/elliptical or bike once per day for about 2hrs total of cardio. I do 8-10mins of plank every day and strength 2-3 times per week. Yep, you could say that keeps me busy...;)

  3. When do you think you'll graduate from grandma jogging to ninja speed work? Do you find the increased intensity bothers your shin?

    Anyways.. glad to hear that you're back at it! Too early to start thinking about race plans? Will you return to defend your Grimsby Half title?

  4. Hi Anon #2! I will definitely not be racing anytime soon. My tendon isn't fully strengthened/healed so my guess is that I won't even begin workouts until mid Feb or March. So Grandma jogging it is!