Sunday, April 27, 2014

CTR Captain Blues

My "long" run today took me to and through Shubie Park, one of my favourite places to run. There are lots of memories there - of happy times running with friends and sad times struggling to cope with life's challenges. It's a place my soul feels comfortable.

The run today was a bit tough. I barely slept last night because I was worried about my Cabot Trail Relay team. We lost three more runners this week so it's been a mad scramble to find replacements. Added to which, the team is mostly made up of newbies who haven't been able to provide much support so far. After a hard night tossing and turning, I spent the morning sending messages to try to get a handle on things so that I could feel less panicked. It worked but I felt really tired when I headed out the door and it showed. 

The other hard thing about today was that I was running "naked" - by which I mean without my Garmin. In fact, I've been without it all week because I left it behind in the country last weekend. It doesn't matter much since I know how long my regular mid-week routes are but I was only able to guesstimate my distance today, which I found unsettling. I told myself I shouldn't worry about how far or fast I went, and just settle into running for a couple of hours, but my inner control freak had a bit of meltdown. "What's the point of running if you don't know exactly how far and fast you're going?" she hollered. 

She's not completely wrong. With Cabot Trail Relay a month away, monitoring my pace is important. I only have four weeks left to get myself from winter slog mode to something approximating the preferred sub-6 min/km pace. The last two years, I managed an average of about 5:45/km at CTR but I was in far better condition. I'll be damned lucky to make the mat this year. My only hope is to train well for the next couple of weeks, then taper properly. A touch of bloody-mindedness will help too. Given that I'm the Captain of the team, there's no way I want to crash and burn in front of everybody. 

I don't think I've mentioned it but I ended up in the role of Captain accidentally. I offered to be someone else's lieutenant and, when she pulled out on account of work, found myself stuck with the job. I was thinking today about how often in my life something similar has happened - so often that it can't be just coincidence. I suppose it's because my over-developed sense of responsibility makes it hard for me to walk away when something needs doing, and people pretty quickly realize they can ask me to take stuff on and I will.

All of which is good in lots of ways. It's satisfying to step up and get things done when needed. Except that there have been far too many nights when I've lain awake for hours worrying about how to herd all the cats in the same direction. It's exhausting being so responsible. It would be nice to get involved in something without taking on a leadership role sometimes. I need to figure out how to make that happen.

Too tired to think or write more tonight. Bedtime cocoa awaits. Hope it's spring wherever you are and that you all have a great week.

Happy running and writing, friends. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

I got 'er done...and then I went for a ride.

Easter flowers from our nieces
A quick update so I don't leave anyone in suspense too long. I did in fact manage to complete my planned 20k run yesterday - though I can't say it felt great. It was a perfect running day - sunny and cool - but my body just didn't feel ready tackle this... least, not without being grumpy. Who can blame it? Ascents totaling nearly 600 metres would make most bodies tired, and then there was wine we had at Janet's on Saturday evening (not complaining, just saying...) In any case, I've planned two more trips up the same road before I start tapering for Cabot Trail Relay. Here's hoping all those hills pay off so CTR feels like a walk in the park. :-)

The rest of yesterday was spent mostly resting. Husband made a yummy supper on his new barbeque and we settled in for a quiet evening reading (him) and playing scrabble (me) by the fire, before going to bed early. Today was more of the same. I spent time writing a couple of emails this morning, listened to coverage of the Boston Marathon (was that exciting or what?), then got my butt out the door for my first real motorcycle ride of the season.  

Even with wind gear on over my leather jacket, it was cold on the bike so I was freezing by the time I got back. However, driving along this beautiful shoreline was totally worth it. 

And I was thrilled to discover that I actually felt more confident about riding today than I did last fall, which bodes well for the season ahead. 

When I got home, I whipped up a batch of guacamole and Husband and I sat on the back deck in the sunshine reading and snacking a bit, before I wandered inside for a long nap before making dinner. 

Sitting by the fire tonight, I'm thinking of two of my siblings who are hanging out in earthquake zones at the moment. My middle sister and her husband are in Ixtapa, Mexico celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, and reported via Facebook this morning that they were awakened by a quake! We haven't heard anything more so are hoping no news is good news. Meanwhile, my baby brother and his family are finishing a four month stint in New Zealand. They've been pretty sanguine about the risk of quakes down under but I'll be glad to have them safely home in a few weeks.

I'm also thinking about my TNT buddy, Brent, who ran Boston with a friend today. I can't begin to imagine what it was like for him. He was there last year, cheering near the finish line when the bombs went off, and he's worked tirelessly since raising funds for victims of the blast. In recognition of his efforts, the BAA offered him a spot in this year's race. From what I've heard so far, it sounds as if he and his friend had a great run. I'm so happy for him. He's a wonderful human being who's made it his life's mission to help and support other people. He deserved to be in Boston today honouring and celebrating the triumph of the human spirit over hatred and fear. 

That's it for now, folks. It looks like another busy week ahead but I'm hoping this long restful weekend has left me ready to deal with it. Hope your week goes well too! 

Happy running and writing, friends!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring has sprung. Now to find my get up and go.

Another long silence since my last post. What can I say? I mean to write more often. In fact, I do write...nearly every day...but only in my head. Somehow, the time to transpose all those words to this blog never materializes. Hopefully, that will change once the Cabot Trail Relay is behind me.

The other reason I haven't written much lately is that I'm struggling with my running. I'm not sure why. The winter's dragging on (we had another snowfall last week!) and I've been busy with other things but I usually feel more energized about running once the weather warms up. This year, it seems I feel less and less motivated as race season approaches.

It may be that knowing I haven't trained as much as I usually do over the winter I'm anticipating a tough start to the season. Or maybe my age is catching up with me. Or maybe my doctor's right and I do need to start taking thyroid medication. I dunno. But it sucks to feel this way five weeks before the race. I'd hoped all the hill work I've been doing lately would make me feel strong and confident about tackling the "rolling hills" of Cape Breton but so far it doesn't seem to be have had that effect .

On the upside, I had a pretty good run today - a mellow 10k along the LaHave River and up the hill to the top of town - that almost made me think my running funk is over. Tomorrow will tell the tale when I head up the Conquerall Mills road for a hilly 20k run. Fingers crossed it feels easier than it did two weeks ago.

Today's run felt good partly because, at 10 degrees C, it finally seems as if spring has arrived and I love seeing the new growth everywhere. For the first time since last fall, I took a spin around the duck pond in town (pictured above) and along the trail leading from the river to Wile Carding Mill. The trail follows an abandoned rail bed where I spotted this small pine tree growing out of a rock. Isn't nature amazing? How hopeful do you need to be to put down roots and reach for the sky in such an inhospitable spot?

Speaking of hopeful, despite being so busy, I've decided it's time to learn how to use the acrylic paints Husband gave me as a birthday gift a couple of years ago. I had my first class on Wednesday night and really enjoyed it so am looking forward to the rest of the 10 week session. Here's a pic of my first painting "in progress" - a simple image my teacher said is designed to teach me the basics of applying the paint using different brush strokes.

I'll try to remember to post photos of whatever I complete but don't expect much. Piccasso, I ain't.

In other creative news, I've almost finished the wool vest I'm knitting for Husband.

I spent a good part of yesterday picking up the 366 stitches needed to make the button band. Because I'm out of practice, it was frustrating and tedious, to say the least, but I got 'er done and I'm more or less happy with how it turned out. All that's left is to sew up the side seams and attach the buttons - which I plan to do l after my long run tomorrow.

Once again, I seem to have lost my way with this post. I'd planned to offer some deep philosophical reflections on all the things I'm thankful for when I run - like that little pine tree and the couple who live in the yellow house by the river who wave cheerfully when I run by - but I guess I'm too pooped. So how about a few inspirational quotes instead?
The passing moment is all that we can be sure of; it is only common sense to extract its utmost value from it...  W. Somerset Maugham
Slow down and enjoy life.  It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.  Eddie Cantor
How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.  Anne Dillard
I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that. Dean Karnazes
Happy running and writing, friends.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring may spring...eventually

House on a hill along my route last weekend

I know I've been delinquent. It wasn't deliberate. It's just that life has felt so damned overwhelming lately with work, volunteer commitments and training. At this point, what I want most to sleep for week.

Alas, that's not in the cards. There's far too much to do  over the next few months. Added to which, I've been trying to find time for some new things lately - painting and working on my novel.  How I wish I could retire - or had a rich spouse, at least. (No, I'm not serious. I'm very happy with the one I have, thank you very much.)

In addition to the frenetic activity levels, there's the little matter of the weather - which has been APPALLING.  Snow, rain, sleet, and hail for days on end. It could be worse. It's much colder in Alberta than it is here, and Newfoundland won't be dug out until August at least. But still...

I want to run on dry pavement, in shorts and a singlet. Two years ago, I did that on March 21st - which was surreal and kind of scary, but also pretty awesome. Here it is April 4th, and I fully expect to be wearing long tights for both my runs this weekend - not least because there's more rain in the forecast.

On the upside, I'm sure all this cold weather running is making me stronger. Strong enough to crush those Cabot Trail hills. Strong enough to run two legs of the relay if I have to. Strong enough to handle whatever else life throws at me over the next few months.

Which is a good thing because my spidey senses are tingling. There's stuff coming at me. I can feel it. And I want to be ready to face it is with as much strength, compassion and wisdom as possible.

Okay. That's enough for one night. I've blogged. It's not articulate but it's all I've got at the end of a crazy busy week.

For those who are curious about how my training's going, I've been running LOTS of hills.  Hill repeats during the week coupled with hilly runs on the weekend. Here's the elevation chart for my 18k LSR last weekend. Not bad for an old lady.

Oh, yeah, and I had another birthday. Fifty-friggin'-two. Lovely. On the upside, a kazillion people sent me birthday messages, which was wonderful and very much appreciated.

More posts soon. Promise.

Happy running and writing, friends.