Sunday, November 9, 2014

NaNoWriMo and November100Mile Challenge - Day #9: The spirit is willing, the body is weak

So far, so good. I can't pretend the first nine days have been easy. It's been far more challenging than I expected to run every day - though I've done only short distances and taken more walk breaks than usual. Day #6 felt so difficult, I seriously thought about giving up on my goal of running 100 miles this month but, fortunately, the last few days have been easier - as if my body is beginning to adapt to the extra exercise.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that it feels hard. After all, in the 12+ years since I took up running, I've never worked out more than two or three days in a row. In fact, whenever possible, I've let myself have 48 hours between runs to recover. Given that, running 9 days in a row is a major accomplishment. If I can manage 30 days and a total of 100 miles, I'll be thrilled. Only 21 days and 70 more miles to go!

My NaNoWriMo project is progressing well too. To this point, I've drafted two and a half stories. Though I'm not particularly happy with any of them, I'm hopeful that will change when I get round to rewriting them. The story I'm writing now has an intriguing premise. It's about a 59 year old man who, faced with the prospect of an unhappy retirement, decides to try to kill himself by running Cape to Cabot. A goofy idea, I know, but I'm hoping I can find some way to make it work.  In any case, I'm enjoying the process.

I booked an extra day off work tomorrow so that Husband and I could have a four day weekend in the country. I had hoped to get a bunch of writing done but so far I've been too tired and distracted by other things - spending time with my dad, gardening, neurotic cats and (most of all) bad news from Husband's family in Ottawa. 

It turns out Husband's sister, just a couple of years older than him, has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and is expected to live no more than a few months. The news has come as a shock for many reasons - not least because she's always been an active, healthy person, who regularly cross-country skied, hiked, canoed, etc. Cancer's never fair but it seems particularly cruel in this case. 

The fact that my sister-in-law has so little time left means Husband and I will try to spend more time in Ottawa in the coming months. It's also caused us rethink our plans for the future. To this point, we thought I would work work until 60 so I could retire with a reasonable pension. However, by that time, Husband will be 70, so we find ourselves wondering if it's wise to wait that long. We're both relatively fit and healthy at the moment but that may not be the case in another 7 or 8 years. On the other hand, early retirement means less financial security down the road - not to mention a leaner lifestyle now. Either option feels like a bit of a crap shoot so it's hard to know what to do. 

On that happy note, it's time I got back to working on my story. Fingers crossed I can find some way to make the plot hang together. 

Happy running and writing, friends. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

NaNoWriMo Day #2 - A very focused weekend

The good thing about taking on the duel challenge of running 100 miles (aka 160 kilometres) and writing 50,000 words this month is that it will force me to be very focused and organized. My goals for the weekend were to write 5,000 words and run at least 12 kms, which I managed to do despite various distractions and some miserable rainy weather. Of course, it helped that the time "fell back" last night so I got an extra hour's sleep.

In addition to all the running and writing, I tackled a bunch of chores, which included picking paint colours for the living room and hallway, making a plan for the flower bed so Husband can plant stuff that's still hanging around in pots, reorganizing the living room furniture and cleaning the study. I also spent a nerve-wracking hour this evening figuring out how to rebuild our iPhoto library when it stopped working. (Yikes! Glad I had a backup.)

Between chores this afternoon, Husband and I slipped out for an hour to check out the new Darkside Cafe, which opened a few weeks ago. We both enjoyed it very much. The cafe has a warm, friendly vibe, good coffee and delicious dark chocolate brownies served with whipped cream so it's well worth stopping by if you're in the neighbourhood.

The  best thing about today was that I got another story idea while I was running. I waited to tell Husband about it over coffee and, just as I hoped, he got all misty-eyed. (I love that he has such a tender heart.) Now, if only I can write the story to be as heart-warming as I'd like it to be.

I must say I look forward to finishing the story I'm working on at the moment. It's a very dark tale in which a nasty Gomeshi-like character plays a central role. At this point, I expect the story to end happily for my heroine and her friend, but it's a tough slog writing about such a violent, narcissistic sociopath.

Time now to have cocoa with Husband and tuck into bed. It's bound to feel like a long week with so much running and writing added to my schedule so I want to start the week well-rested.

Happy writing and running, friends!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo - Day #1

I'm on the board. Woke up a little before 6:00 and spent an hour cruising the internet before I got down to writing but still managed 768 words before breakfast. Not bad,

My project is a series of interrelated stories about 5 (maybe more) people running Cape to Cabot, a particularly tough race I did last fall. The collection is tentatively called "Running Lessons" (yawn) but I hope to come up with something more inspired in the days ahead.

The first story is inspired by Ghomeshi-gate, which has kept me mesmerized all week. Reading accounts of the allegations against Ghomeshi has been stomach-turning. On the upside, the news seems to have spurred useful discussion about sexism and rape culture that has the potential to nudge our society in the right direction.

Given that I've taken on a second challenge this month - to run and walk 100 miles - I won't have much time for blogging. However, I'll post as often as I can and you'll be able to follow my progress by checking the two boxes to the right. They'll report my total word count and total mileage.

It's raining now - a hard, cold rain - so think I'll tackle other chores before I venture out for today's 5k. Hoping to write a total of 5,000 words this weekend so that I'm a little ahead of the game going in the work week. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

November dreams with a deadline

It's been a tough couple of weeks. As I followed the Facebook posts and tweets of friends preparing to run full and half marathons last Sunday, I found myself suffering from a nasty case of "marathon envy". By Saturday afternoon, I felt nervous and excited for them and downright sorry for myself. Never mind that I hadn't registered. Never mind that I hadn't trained. Never mind that I'd made a deliberate choice to "run less" this year, my inner child was yelling that it was totally unfair that I wasn't running a marathon too. (sigh). 

All of which got me thinking about the importance of goals in my life. The truth is I need them - lots of them - just to get through an average day. I need goals to get me to the office on time in the morning, goals to keep myself from eating unhealthy snacks in the afternoon, goals to get me to bed at a reasonable hour.

And then there are work-related goals. Usually, they're set by other people but they're often arbitrary deadlines I set for myself to be sure I accomplish a reasonable amount of work each day. Other people may be able to beaver away taking pleasure in the process but not me. I need goals - real or imagined - to motivate me.

All of which likely explains why my running has been so blah lately. I haven't really had a challenging goal since Cabot Trail Relay and, as a consequence, haven't felt motivated to train well or consistently. 
And, unfortunately, it shows - in my waistline, in my pace and, most of all, in my attitude.

I was complaining to Husband the other day about how little I enjoy running these days, how my legs feel heavy and I tire more quickly than I used to. "I don't understand why I feel this way," I whined. "Do you suppose I'm sick? Or that maybe my hormones are acting up? Or is it because the summer was so busy and stressful?" His matter of fact response? "Uhm...I think maybe it's because you haven't been training all that much, Treas."  

Ouch. He was right of course. There's nothing "wrong" with me. It isn't that I'm sick, or menopausal, or stressed. It's that I  haven't been training consistently, and the only way to fix that is to get back into running more regularly, eating right, drinking less, and sleeping more. There's no magic bullet or quick fix. To regain strength, flexibility and endurance, I simply have to do the work.   

All of which was on my mind when I headed out the door for my long run last Sunday. It was a glorious fall day - mild, dry and sunny. I ran 12k thinking about what running meant to me and how I clearly needed new goals if I was going to get back into shape. I was also thinking about whether I wanted to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. (For those who aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, it's a 30 day writing challenge in which participants attempt to write the a 50,000 word first draft of a novel. I "won" the challenge the past two years, but have yet to edit either of the draft novels I produced.) 

Running beside the river, drinking in the spectacular autumn colours (see my last post for photos I took later that day), it occurred to me that I could kick-start both my running and my writing by doubling up on my goals - write an average of 1333 words and run or walk or at least 5k every day in November. 

I know. It sounds ridiculous. Given that I'm currently struggling to run 4 days per week, committing to 7 is ambitious, to say the least - but it should help that I can walk instead of run 2-3 days per week and, presumably, as the month goes on I'll be in better shape so the runs will feel less difficult. Added to which, since my plan for NaNoWriMo is to write a series of interrelated short stories, each of which has running as a central theme, a daily run/walk will help fuel my imagination. In any case, the notion of spending the month of November passionately pursuing two of my favourite activities is an appealing one so, with Husband's blessing, I'm going to give it a try.

Of course, taking on two relatively ambitious goals may be a recipe for disaster but, since this is the year I promised myself I'd "plunge boldly into life", the time is right. Even if I don't succeed, I'll get more exercise than I have in awhile and maybe finish a few stories. 

To close, a favourite quote on running from John Stanton:  
"The day will come when you cannot is not that day...lace them up."  
And, on writing, from Amy Tan: 
Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.
Happy running and writing, friends. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.