Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Running lessons: Take it one day at a time

I took a vacation day on Monday so that I'd have a longer weekend to savour the last of the summer weather. I'm really glad I did. It was a little cool to swim but there was plenty of sunshine and Husband and I spent heaps of time outside. In addition, I spent several hours on my motorcycle (Patti) over a couple of days.

Sunday morning's weather was warm and clear so Patti and I took a quick trip to Blue Rocks, a picturesque fishing village about 20 miles up the road. I brought my camera along intending to spend some time wandering around the village taking pictures but instead got caught up in conversation with a CFA ("come from away) who summers there. And, unfortunately, of the few photos I took, only a couple seemed worth keeping - the one above and this one.

After Husband and I finished our chores on Monday, Patti and took another short trip - this time to Risser's Beach - to visit my Mum who was camping there.  It was a perfect beach day so I hung out on the beach with her for an hour or more, chatting and listening to the waves, before heading back to the house for supper.

A friend asked me once why I like Risser's Beach so much. I told him it is because it's the one place in the world I feel truly myself. It's also because there are nearly always waves and the sound of the surf breaking on the shoreline is good for my soul. Patti seems to like the beach too.

Patti, strutting her stuff at the beach
I tackled my 29k LSR first thing Saturday morning to get it out of the way. I was dreading it, to be honest. I'd completed a strong hill training session Wednesday morning but my tempo run Thursday night felt abysmal. In fact, it felt so bad that I gave up even trying to run tempo pace and jogged slowly back to the house after only 6k.

Given that Thursday's run was so bad, I wasn't sure what to expect when I left the house Saturday morning - especially since I'd slept so badly Friday night (more on that below). In order to ensure it wasn't too painful, I knew I'd need to run slowly and focus on keeping my neck, shoulders and legs relaxed. My route was the same one I did two weeks ago with 4k tacked on at the end but, for some reason, it felt much easier - so much easier, I opted to run up and down this steep 0.5k hill at the end.

I can't say the hill felt easy but at least I had enough gas in the tank to manage it. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty darned pleased with myself when Husband picked me up (fresh coffee and pasty in hand).

While I ran my long run, I thought a lot about an old friend who's just been diagnosed with multiple myeloma - a nasty form of blood cancer with some discouraging statistics. He has a couple of young kids and is the sweetest guy imaginable so it seems totally unfair that he's got such a tough fight ahead of him. Not that cancer's ever fair, of course.

Naturally, he's struggling to remain positive in the face of the diagnosis (who wouldn't?) and it's hard to know what to say or how to help. As I lay awake thinking about him and his family Friday night, I wondered how I'd cope in his shoes. What would sustain me through the testing and treatment, the waiting and worrying? It's impossible to know but it occurred to me that I might try to take a few lessons from marathon training. To begin with, I could focus on one day and one challenge at a time. I could also try to notice and appreciate the slivers of light that made their way through the darkness - the love and support of family and friends, the natural beauty of the world around me, and the laughter of children, for example. Finally, I could remind myself that, tough as any given day might be, there would almost certainly be better days ahead.

One thing's for sure, learning about my friend's diagnosis has made me more grateful than ever for my life, and for the fact that I'm able to train for races like the ones I plan to run this fall.

On that note, I suppose it's time I signed off and headed downstairs to eat supper. I'm just back from doing this week's hill training session. To be honest, I wasn't feeling up to it when I got home from work - in part because I made a blood donation last night - but then I thought about my friend and the challenge he faces and realized I had no choice but to get my butt out the door.

For the running geeks in the crowd, below is a summary of last week's training. Happily, there's only one more big week of training ahead before I start tapering for Maritime Race Weekend.

Total distance: 53kms
Total # runs: 4
Longest run: 29k
Hill training: 6 x hills
Tempo runs: 0 

Happy running and writing, friends!


  1. There's a funny story about the two times I've visited Blue Rocks, in two consecutive years. If you follow one of the little roads down to the very end, there's parking for maybe 3 cars, and a little footbridge leading to a tiny island with 3 homes on it. It was used during a Tom Selleck movie. Just across from the parking is a wonderful couple that know the B&B lady we stayed with in Lunenburg once. It ties into the house we almost bought there. I love the zigzag orange stripey rocks. Why didn't they call it orange rocks?

    1. Glad you discovered Blue Rocks, Keith. I think it's one of the loveliest spots in NS. And I know what you mean about he rocks. Maybe it's called blue rocks because the water and sky look so blue when the sun shines?

  2. So sorry to hear about your friend, Janice!

    1. Thanks, Janet. I'm very worried about him but also have the strong feeling that all will be well in the end. Treatments have come a long way in the past decade and he has many friends and family who will do everything they can to help.