Thursday, October 16, 2014

Introducing Mr. Pyewacket

First, the good news. Nemmie's little brother arrived yesterday. He's a three year old, all black male - very cute and friendly - and very difficult to photograph with my phone. :-) I'll break out my camera and try to get better pics of him this weekend. Nemmie isn't terribly impressed with her new housemate so far but we'll wait and see how it goes. Hopefully, she'll realize Pyewacket is a good thing soon.

Second, I haven't forgotten that I promised a "painfully personal post". In fact, it's drafted. I just haven't had time or energy to finish it because we were away in Cape Breton for Thanksgiving and have been busy dealing with some worrying news from Husband's family. Things are settling down a bit now so I'll put a push on this weekend and try to finish it.

Here are a couple of photos from one of the walks we did in Cape Breton, the trail to Uisge Ban falls. It was truly magical. I'll share a few more photos with my next post.

Happy running and writing friends!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thinking again about why I blog

I read some great stuff about blogging last week - in particular, a piece on Zen Habits - which got me thinking about this blog and where I'd like to take it.

It started as a place where I could explore ideas about life, the universe and everything. Why are we here? How should we deal with various life challenges? What's the best way of putting values into action?

It quickly developed into a blog that's primarily about running and the lessons it's taught me, with occasionally posts on travel, food, cats, photography, writing - pretty much everything really.

I don't have a problem with that, except that it breaks the #1 rule of blogging, which is to pick a topic and stick to it. According to those who know, a blog is much more likely to find and keep an audience if it consistently offers good information and advice on a relatively narrow range of subjects. 

But the truth is in the 7 years I've been writing this blog, I haven't been all that concerned about "building an audience". Naturally, I hope readers will find it interesting/enjoyable/helpful but, at the end of the day, it's more like an on-line diary - a place to record random musings and explore my creative side. I'm happy when others find a post interesting and join the conversation by responding in some way but, even when they don't, it's satisfying to put pen to paper (so to speak).

I've also come to enjoy using it to share my photos. Let me be clear, I don't have any illusions about my talents as a photographer. (How could I with so much available evidence of photography far better than my own?) Nevertheless, I enjoy using photography to see and share the beauty around me and, every once in awhile, I capture an image I'm really happy with - like this one:


Speaking of photography, if you find yourself in Nova Scotia this month, be sure to check out some of the wonderful exhibits that make up Photopolis, a celebration of all things photographic  On my way home last night, I stopped in at the D'art Gallery to see "D'ance: A Dancer's View of Dartmouth". It's a terrific show for anyone who loves dance and/or Dartmouth. The exhibit is the result of the combined efforts of a photographer, a choreographer and numerous dancers - who together made beautiful, evocative images that have a lot to say about the power of dance to shed light on human experience. I especially loved the series of a dancer interacting with Dawn MacNutt's sculptures at Alderney Gate, and a group of ballerinas at Two if by Sea.  

Another show I'm looking forward to is a series of portraits taken by Aaron MacKenzie Fraser in the Roy Building shortly before it was torn down to make way for new development.  I've had many opportunities to visit and work in that building over the years so was greatly saddened to see it reduced to rubble and am hoping the portraits will capture some part of the soul of the place.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the blog. (See what I mean? No focus at all.)

In a post last summer, I noted that there are lots of topics about which I don't write - though the reality is they take up quite a bit of real estate in my head - family, marriage, work, aging, sex, for example. My reasons for avoiding such topics are obvious. They're too personal, I'm embarrassed, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and (most of all) I'm not sure I have anything much worth saying. (Like that's ever stopped me.)

On my long run today, I decided that maybe it was time to write about some of those subjects. After all, I've gained a fair bit of wisdom and experience in my 52 1/2 years on the planet - some of which might actually be useful to someone. And, who knows, maybe if I open up, others will too and we'll all learn something.

It's an intriguing to think about but scary as well. It's sure to feel downright uncomfortable at times and, of course, there are others' feeling to consider. On the other hand, my New Year's resolution for 2014 is to "plunge boldly into life" so the timing seems right to change course. Look for my first Painfully Personal Post later this week. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Race Report: Rum Runners Relay 2014

It's Monday evening and I'm still dragging my sorry butt around after another terrific but exhausting Rum Runners Relay. The weather was glorious, though a little too hot, and my teammates were friendly, supportive and fun so we had a great time together.   

I ran leg #1, which got underway at 6:30.  It wasn't my best run ever - in part because it was mostly uphill. (In fact, the first 7 kms were one long unremitting climb. No wonder I was in pain by the midpoint.) Added to which, I went out too fast - a rookie mistake I shouldn't have made but my adrenaline was up and I didn't realize how fast I was going until two kms into the race - by which time the damage was done.  

In any case, I didn't entirely embarrass myself. Despite the mistake, I managed to "make the mat", running an average of 5:54/km - not what I was hoping for but it could have been worse. 

At the beginning of leg 3, we managed to get the team together in one place long enough for a team photo. My buddy Dave is missing, unfortunately, because he came down with a nasty cold last week and sensibly decided to stay home and join us just prior to his leg (#10). We missed his company throughout the day but were grateful he found the energy to run well when he finally arrived. 

The relay route, along a secondary highway that hugs the coastline, is spectacular for much of the way,

...which took some of the pain out of running in temperatures approaching 30 degrees C, though it was still darn tough.

Several teammates took the opportunity to cool off with a swim when they finished their legs. Here's Delia getting ready to take a well-served dip at Queensland Beach after running the longest toughest leg (#4).

Despite the heat, everyone ran well and enjoyed the day, which was the most important thing, as far as I was concerned.

Before signing off, a huge thank you to race organizers. Once again, they did a fantastic job which was much appreciated by all the participants. Thanks too to my wonderful teammates who did an amazing job supporting and encouraging one another (and me)! Hopefully, I'll see many of my devilish friends on the Cabot Trail in May 2015.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ready to Rum Run

I'm finally organized for tomorrow's Rum Runners Relay. The team is lined up, food is ready to go, my race outfit is laid out, my Garmin is recharged, the team gear is loaded in the car, and my alarm is set for 4:45 am. The plan now is to take a warm bath, drink a single glass of wine, chat with Husband for a few minutes and fall into bed in hopes I actually sleep for a few hours. Yes, friends, this is what I do for fun.  :-)

Race report to follow soon.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Preparing to Rum Run

It's less than a week until my next big event - the Rum Runners Relay. I haven't done RRR in a few years but I remember it being a really fun event and it looks as if the weather will be perfect. The majority of my team members are folks who were with me on the Cabot Trail in May, with the balance being "friends of friends", so it should be a congenial group.

Much as I'm looking forward to the social aspects of the race, I dread the run itself. I signed up for leg #1 so I could get it out of the way early and focus on my duties as Captain for the remainder of the race. Unfortunately, that means running at 6:30 am - not exactly my best time of day. On the upside, I'll likely be too sleepy to notice when things start to hurt, which they no doubt will.

My training last week wasn't exactly stellar. Tuesday night's felt hard because I was still tired from the weekend. I completed a scheduled hill workout on Thursday but, again, didn't feel particularly good. Friday and Saturday mornings, my resting heart rate was significantly elevated so I opted not to run. I hoped to feel well enough to tackle a final long run of 16k on Sunday but, still feeling weary, elected to do a relatively easy 10k instead - a good choice given that it was as hot and humid as a mid-summer day. You can almost see the heat in this photo, which I took as a ran along the Centennial Trail.

The fact my heart rate was elevated is interesting. I suppose it's because I ramped up my training too quickly. After 3 or 4 years of racing regularly, I've gotten a bit too casual about prepping for events. I forget sometimes that my 52 year old body isn't capable of transforming itself from sloth to svelte athlete in a matter of weeks. More lead time is needed. 

Which means, of course, that Saturday's run is likely to feel tough. I'm more or less used to the distance (13+ kms) but haven't done enough speed training to make my goal pace of 5:45 feel easy. All I can hope is that excitement and adrenaline kick in and help me "make the mat" (the timing mat which gets picked up and moved to the end of leg #2 at around 7:50 am). 

Despite my worries about the race, I'm enjoying the perfect running weather this week. Yesterday, I did an easy (because I'm tapering) 5k on my usual route, stopping to stretch at the far end of Lake Banook. It was a beautiful evening with light bouncing off the water and a clear star-filled sky above.

In the four years since I moved home to Nova Scotia, I've run around the lake hundreds of times so it's as familiar to me as the back of my hand, and the transition from summer to autumn is one of my favourite times of year. On sunny mornings, reflected colours on the surface of the lake take my breath away. More often, it's dark by the time I run so I can't see the colours but the sharp, cool air, rich smells and gentle swish of fallen leaves remind me winter is just around the corner, which in turn reminds me to be grateful for however many lovely autumn days remain.

On another topic entirely, I've enjoyed watching the flag counter on this blog lately. My most recent readers appear to have been in the United Kingdom, Serbia, Malta and Norway, amongst other places. I can't help wondering who those readers are and what they found interesting so, if you're one of them, please leave a comment below and tell me a bit about yourself.

Happy running and writing, friends.