Monday, December 8, 2014

Sad, dark days ahead

It will have to be a short post tonight. I'm too tired and emotionally drained to write much.

Husband's sister Maryanne is slipping away quickly so life feels unsteady. It's as if we're standing on the upper deck of a ship desperately clinging to ropes to keep from being tossed overboard and watching long dark waves roll towards us. There's no way to avoid what's coming. The best we can hope for is to survive the storm, knowing nothing will ever be the same.

This past weekend, we began preparing for Christmas. Maryanne has always loved Christmas so we want to honour her by making the best of it, difficult as that will be. We didn't decorate a tree because we don't know where we'll be for the holidays, but we unpacked an assortment of ornaments, listened to Christmas music and drank our first glasses of eggnog.

I also went for a long, slow run up the river on Sunday, and spent the time remembering all the adventures we've shared with Maryanne and her partner Dick over the years - hiking, snowshoeing, bird-watching and canoeing. Their enthusiasm for the outdoors is infectious. A visit with Maryanne and Dick always involved plenty of fresh air and exercise, not to mention fabulous food, wine and conversation.

Tonight, as I sit by the fire writing this, it seems surreal that, just a few months ago, the four of us sat on Maryanne and Dick's back deck savouring a warm summer's night, sipping wine and talking of future adventures together, blissfully unaware of the sad, dark days ahead. How can so much have changed so quickly?

I comfort myself by remembering something my friend Annette told me shortly before she died of breast cancer. She said she believed death would feel like stepping outside into a cool, clear, starlit night after being stuck too long in a hot, smokey room. I hope she was right about that. Given everything Maryanne's been through, death should feel worth dying for.

With "real life" taking up so much of my time and attention at the moment, I don't plan to write much in the next few weeks. Hopefully, by the time January rolls around I'll feel ready to pick up a pen again.

Until then, happy running and writing, friends.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Running Lessons: Attitude is everything

Last evening, as I was walking home from the bus stop, I was reminded of the importance of attitude.

It was a miserable night - dark, rainy, and cold - and I'd just avoided being struck in a crosswalk by an inattentive driver. The wind was blowing so hard, I kept one hand firmly on my hood to hold it in place. As I hiked morosely up the hill towards home, my clothes and boots were soaked through and my mood was bleaker than the weather.

That's when it happened. From down the street, a child's laughter rang out and I looked up to see a small boy - perhaps 5 or 6 - coming towards me, arms outstretched, face upturned to catch the full force of the rain. He was skipping - no, dancing - down the street, savouring the excitement of the storm and chattering cheerfully to his mother, who walked beside him.

How, I thought to myself, could anyone be so happy on such an awful night?

How indeed?

I've not posted anything in awhile because, to be honest, I'm struggling to stay positive these days. Things aren't going well for Husband's sister so he was in Ottawa the past two weeks. Work is challenging. I feel as if I'm fighting a virus. The cats are squabbling constantly. By all accounts, it seems we are on the brink of a new Cold War. Bombings, killings, and injustices of all kinds dominate the news.

And, on top of all that, I gave up on both the goals I set for this month - to run 100 miles and write 50,000 words - soon after Husband left for Ottawa.  I just didn't have the heart or the energy to pursue them with so much else going on. 

The writing goal was the easier to give up. I knew when I started NaNoWriMo that all I really wanted was to write a single short story that I liked. I managed to draft three - including one I hope is worth revising - so I was content to let the challenge go for this year.

It was much harder to give up on the running goal. As recently as a few days ago, I was still trying to work out how to squeeze 40 kms into 5 days - arithmetically possible, but foolhardy given how tired and stressed I already was. Pushing myself to run so much in so short a time would only have made things worse.

When I stopped to think about it why giving up on the running goal was so difficult, I realized it was because I don't think of myself as "fit" unless I can run 16-20 kms with relative ease and, since I haven't done any serious training since June, that's no longer the case. In fact, a slow 13k to Shubie Park and back was the most I could manage last weekend.

And here's where attitude comes in. I could be frustrated and discouraged by the fact that I'm in such relatively poor shape. Alternatively, I could be grateful that I'm still able to run (when many others can't) and either get more serious about training or adjust my definition of what it means to be fit. My attitude towards both the rain and my current degree of fitness is entirely up to me.

I suspect I may not be done with running long distances just yet. A few weeks ago, I watched an amazing video that inspired me to think about what more I might want to accomplish in my running career. After all, there's no reason to think I can't get stronger and faster if I decide that's what I want to do. The question is do I?

Happy running and writing, friends.

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.

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 evidence of photography far better than my own available online?) 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. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Running lessons: You never can tell

One of the things I've learned in my 12+ years of running is that you never can tell. You never can tell when your body will feel totally awesome or incredibly awful. You never can tell when you'll have a fantastic run or a terrible one. You never can tell if you're actually ready to race on a given day.

The fact is that, no matter how well you prepare, stuff happens. The race that should have been your best ever is a complete disappointment (Fredericton last spring). Another that you expect to be a total pain-fest is a joy-filled personal best (San Francisco in 2011).

Some things simply aren't predictable. Sure, you can pore over details afterwards and, if you're lucky, identify what went right and wrong, then try to replicate or avoid it in future. But the truth is that a great deal of what happens during a run is simply beyond your control.

Life's like that too, of course. The places, people, experiences we expect to bring us happiness often leave us cold, and vice versa. Usually, it's our expectations that are the problem. They aren't realistic. People don't (or can't) live up to them. We focus on what's missing rather than appreciating what is.

Of course, it doesn't help that we live in a culture that encourages us to expect a lot, then feel dissatisfied when we don't get it. It's why marketers earn the big bucks. The more we want, the more unhappy we are when we don't get it, the more likely we are to  consume stuff in hopes it will make us feel better. And, when it doesn't, the cycle begins again.

So what should we do? Well, for starters, we should be aware of our expectations and examine them critically to figure out whether they're realistic, helpful, etc. I'm not suggesting all expectations are bad. It often makes sense to set goals and work towards achieving them. But, when the goals aren't attainable or when we expect other people to do certain things or behave in certain ways, we're only setting ourselves up for disappointment.

And what does any of this have to do with the photo at the top of this post, you ask? I took it Sunday afternoon while I was preparing to head back to the city. Patterns danced across the floor and up the walls as late afternoon sunlight streamed through tree branches swaying in the wind. Fascinated, Nemmie (the cat) sat in the hallway, staring at the wall, occasionally stretching out a paw in a vain attempt to catch the light.

I stood watching for several moments, then remembered that last week's theme for my photo group was "hallways and corridors". Fortunately, my camera was nearby so I was able to grab it and snap the photo before Nemmie got distracted by something else and wandered off. When I uploaded it to my Facebook page later that evening, a number of friends responded immediately, saying how much they enjoyed it. Something about the image resonated, which surprised me a little because, although I liked it, I didn't really expect others to. Which just goes to show you never can tell. Sometimes, when you least expect it, good things happen.

BTW, for the running geeks in the crowd, here's a summary of my training last week:

Total # runs: 4
Hill training:  6 hills
Tempo runs: 1 - 10k
Longest run: 17k
Total distance run: 40k

Happy running and writing, friends!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blogging buddies

Janet, Keith and me
One of the best things about blogging is meeting new people who share your interests. And one of the people I've most enjoyed getting to know in the past year is Keith Cartmell. (See his blog here.) Keith's posts often make me smile so I was excited to learn he and his wife would be visiting Nova Scotia this month. I got to know Keith through my friend Janet, who I also met through blogging. (Her blog is here.) It turns out we all like to like to write, cook, drink wine and stay active (running, cycling, whatever) so we have tonnes to talk about.

We three along with our spouses met up for supper last night at Janet's house. What a terrific evening! Janet and her husband prepared a fabulous dinner of scallops (to start) and salmon on the BBQ. Husband and I contributed an arugula salad with pears, walnuts and blue cheese and a decadent rum-soaked cake with whipped cream. Needless to say, we ate very well indeed. And talk - my goodness, did we talk - like long lost friends - about running, writing, food, politics - essentially, all the things we blog about. It was great fun.

We got together again this morning at Crescent Beach for a mellow 5k run/walk. I forgot to take my phone with me so you'll just have to take my word for it when I say it was lovely, despite being cool and misty. Here's an picture of Crescent Beach from a couple of years ago to give you the idea. It's a truly spectacular place to run.

I spent the rest of the weekend doing a 16k long run, cooking, shopping for shoes (I got some fun little booties for walking to work), riding my motorcycle, and taking a few photos. The theme for my photo group this week was black & white photography. Here are some of the shots I took over the past couple of days:

In short, it was a mellow weekend - which is a good thing because life has been just a tad stressful lately. Once again, I find myself puzzling over what I want to be when I grow up. (Will I ever figure it out? I'm 52, after all!) And Husband and I have been struggling with whether or not to put the country house on the market this fall. We love the house, but it seems downright silly to spend so much of our income maintaining two properties. On the other hand, neither one of us wants to give up the country life. Hopefully, things will become clearer over the winter. In the meantime, I plan to nestle in and savour whatever time we have left here.

Speaking of savouring, I had a pretty decent long run yesterday. My legs felt a bit tight from hill training Wednesday evening so I opted for an easy route along the river to Peace Park, then upriver to the footbridge and back. It felt great visiting the Park since it's one of my favourite places and I hadn't been there in months. As I was leaving, I ran into a couple of friends from community theatre days - almost 30 years ago!! (Yikes! Where has the time gone?) Seeing them reminded me of all the fun we had together. Community theatre is something I'd like to do again one day.

It's time now to sign off and get ready for the long week ahead. There's a fire in the fireplace to ward off the autumn chill in the air tonight. I'm disappointed summer is over so soon but the cooler temperatures should make it easier to tackle projects. For starters, I have to get my Rum Runners Relay team organized since the race is only three weeks away. After that, there's the little matter of prepping for a fall half marathon (What?!?!) More on that next time... :-)

Happy running and writing friends!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Savouring the last gasps of summer

The weather hasn't been awfully reliable the past few weeks but we did get some warm temperatures over the Labour Day weekend. On Saturday, Husband and I took advantage of them by spending time at Broad Cove (pictured above). I drove my motorcycle there while Husband followed me in the car with all our gear. It was windy and cool on the beach but still quite wonderful. We pitched our sunbuster and read happily for a couple of hours before heading over to Best Coast Coffee for coffee and cake.

Lemon poppyseed cake with lemon curd and whipped cream, to be exact. Delicious! After our snack, I broke out my camera and we went for a walk around the cove so I could snap a few photos.

There's an old graveyard in Broad Cove with many stones dating from the 1800s.  It was sad to see how young some of the people buried there were they died.

The children's graves made me especially sad.

On Sunday, I tackled a long run of 16k from our house in Conquerall Bank to LaHave. I didn't stop to take many pictures but couldn't resist grabbing a snap of these sunflowers. Aren't they glorious?

Husband met me in LaHave because we planned to have lunch there. Unfortunately, LaHave Bakery was packed on account of a folk festival taking place just up the road later that day so we drove back to Broad Cove and had a delicious lunch at the cafe instead. (The cafe's now closed for the season, but I'd highly recommend a stop there if you happen to find yourself in Broad Cove next summer. Both the food and ambiance are terrific.)

On Sunday evening we entertained good friends who were up from the Valley and, on Monday morning,  I arranged to meet my buddy Dave for a mellow 8k recovery run along the river. By the time I was home and cleaned up, the sun was peaking through the clouds so Husband and I opted to abandon our chores and drive to Risser's Beach (my favourite place in the world) for a walk. Fortunately, we brought our gear with us (sunbuster, beach chairs, snacks, books) because, when we arrived, we discovered it was a perfect beach day.

Though quite muggy and hot, there were big waves to play in and enough wind and cloud cover to make the sun bearable. We swam twice and spent the rest of the afternoon reading and talking before finally heading home at suppertime.

En route, I asked Husband pull over so I could grab this shot.We're incredibly fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

All and all, my runs last week went pretty well. I managed four in total, including a longish 16k on a hilly route and two runs at a tempo-ish pace (for a total of 35k). Last night, after a long tiring day, I got myself out the door for my first hill training session, which felt remarkably good. Slowly but surely, my body seems to be adapting to this increased level of activity. I've even started to enjoy running again!

I've focused a lot on on my form lately, which seems to be helping. By the time I did my fourth hill last night, I was making better use of chi running techniques so it felt noticeably easier than the first three. In particular, my shoulders, calves and hamstrings were much looser and more relaxed. It was great to feel the difference good form can make.

The other thing I'm working on is my diet. It's time to get a better balance of calories in and out - particularly calories from wine and beer. With three weeks left to Rum Runners Relay, I'm hoping to drop a pound or two and ensure my body is properly fueled to tackle a fast (for me!) 13+ kms. I'll let you know how it goes.

There's not much else to report, so let me leave you with a video I saw this week.  Is it any wonder I love living where I do?

Happy running and writing, friends!