Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another marathon article!

I promise my final blog will follow soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I guess the fat lady is singing

Marathon Highlights:

* Watching drunk people run.
* Potato chips as energy food. This might be my sport after all.
* Seeing a dozen plus men, dressed up as Minnie Mouse, peeing in the vineyard. I don't want to tell you which one - I won't be held responsible for a subsequent decline in their wine sales this year!
* Doing likewise at a chateau (too much information?)!
* More men dressed in drag than at a Gay Pride Parade.
* Al the crazy costumes in general. The theme was comic book characters so there were Smurfs, Tintin, Asterix, Waldo, Disney, Simpsons, Star Wars...the list goes on.
* Passing people. I know this wasn't a competitive race but I confess that kept me motivated at kilometer 40.
' All kinds of music entertaining us at various stops.
* Eating grapes off the vine.
* Astounding chateaux and their landscaping.
* Several men's costumes featured bare chests - and bottoms.
* Village kids shouting "Allez, allez, allez!" and giving high fives to the runners.
* Other village kids holding up garden hoses to give us respite from the heat.
* Hundreds of people picnic-ing by the side of the route. This marathon is a regional spectacle.
* Running on everything from pavement to sand to rocks to gravel to dirt. No wonder my feet hurt!
* Fields of wildflowers interspersed between the vines.
* My snazzy SWAG: medal, backpack, t-shirt, and wine.
* No bugs!!
* Pouring water down my front and back to cool off.
* Being able to counteract my knee pain - which hit at kilometre 2 - with all the things that I learned from my therapists and it working the rest of the way.
* Getting an actual tan and about 30,000 more freckles.
* The recovery walk the next day past vines and sunflowers.
* Getting a little bit tipsy from all the wine tastings at the recovery walk.
* A fellow runner handing out tiny shrimp as a snack during the walk the next day.
* Watching Julie bandage up Bruce's feet the next day: four blisters on one foot. Yowch.
* The fantastic lunch the next day: charcuterie, lamb, chocolate cake, espresso, and wine.
* The Caribbean dance party the next day and my random German dance partner.
* Knowing I had so many people supporting me.
* Knowing with absolute certainty that I would finish.
* Finishing.

More thoughts to follow. Still processing.....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Marathon Newspaper Article!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

It's probably become pretty clear that I'm not doing this for fun. Sure, there have been elements of fun - lately we've taken to sitting in the kiddie pool at Eau Claire post-long run on hot days, protein smoothie in hand - but all this running nonsense has been for The Greater Good. L'Arche.

Up until a few months ago I'd been sticking to a degree of professional distance, trying to maintain that whole work-life balance thing. But at L'Arche those lines get blurred pretty easily. Lately, I've been wanting to connect more to these people in this Community that I feel lucky to be a part of. Hard not to when you are around the likes of Rosie, who greets me with a compliment every day and such a warm wave of welcome it's like a hug (and sometimes is). Or Basil, whose ongoing teasing about my high heels (he says I'm like a horse when I walk down the hall) makes me feel like I have a big brother. Or Dovie, whose unrelenting positivity and joie de vivre provide a swift kick in the pants just when you need it. Or Darryl, whose quiet, dignified passing in June has left a gaping hole in our L'Arche life.

L'Arche is home for all of these people. Safety. Comfort. Routine. Familiarity. Peace. Love. Laughter. Friendship. Belonging. Our homes are at the heart of L'Arche. These places where people with and without disabilities create friendships that transform each person and those around them. Though we are a registered charity, I believe there is nothing "charitable" about what we do. L'Arche isn't about 'providing service to' or 'doing for' people with developmental disabilities; L'Arche is about sharing life with them.

Think about what this means. It means an exchange among equals, each person giving and receiving, all having a place of the same importance. In the charitable world you often hear the phrase, "not a hand out but a hand up". To me a hand up implies one person above another. Not so in L'Arche. I often wonder what our society would be like if every "charity" looked at the work they did through the same lens as L'Arche. If we looked at those who were homeless, for example, and thought "I am sharing life with this person." How would it affect how we treated them? How we served them? How we walked through this world with them?

This whole endeavour is a fundraiser for L'Arche, my time spent a gift to them. Rogers Insurance Ltd., who I'm running with and whose idea this whole crazy thing is, has elected to have the funds they raise go to support the operations of our 5 homes here in Calgary. Though L'Arche does receive government funding we still need to raise $12,000 for each home each year to keep them safe and comfortable for our members with disabilities. These funds cover very basic costs like utilities and repairs and, this year, will subsidize some of our food costs as well. Rogers has raised close to $6000 to date and we would love for all of our efforts to reach $12,000 - to ensure one of L'Arche Calgary's homes is fully funded for the year.

If you still need to make sure that I finish, I respect that. I'm waiting to find out myself! (Though I gotta tell ya I feel pretty good about it) But I hope you will consider making a gift to L'Arche Calgary in support of this Madcap Medoc Marathon. All of your donations would go directly to a L'Arche home, none would come to me. I just ask for your positive vibes on September 11, when I'll be hitting the streets in French Wine Country.

To make a donation, you can go online at

You can also send a cheque to L'Arche Calgary, 307 57 Avenue SW T2H 2T6

As this race approaches (it's now a matter of days), I think I'm looking for reinforcement, for hands to hold and people to walk alongside me, for blessings from my fellow L'Archers. I certainly feel blessed to be part of this worldwide movement. I'm thrilled that I will get to meet its founder, Jean Vanier, as a result of this run. I'm happy that I now actually have some muscle definition in my thighs. I'm grateful for the one period in my life (outside of childhood) where I've been able to eat whatever I want. I may very well be the biggest beneficiary of all.

This isn't my last post. I'll try and do a couple from France and definitely let you know how I did. And I'll let you know when the two newspaper articles that are being done on us come out!

Thanks for sticking it out with me :-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Is the Loneliest Number

Every man is an island in the running world. Yes, you train in groups and race with a cast of thousands but at the end of the day you're running with yourself.

I don't know how to feel about this. It makes a huge difference to run with other people. Running alone, quite frankly, sucks. When I do my long runs on Sundays (26km this past weekend!) I feel like can take on the world. I haven't felt the runner's high yet but I definitely get into a zone of some sort. There are 7-8 of us all running at the same pace and we get into a rhythm which makes it easier to push on.

But running on my own for my training runs during the week is ba-ru-tal. Maybe I am just that boring, I don't know. I have to set my own pace and make sure I keep to it. The minutes drag. I feel every ache. I think I sub-consciously make my knee or Achilles hurt just to give me something to think about. I can only think about Colin Farrell for so long.

A few weekends ago I was wracked with guilt. In with my running group was my new friend C. She's been running about as long as I have, training for a marathon in December. And she just wasn't having a good day. So she dropped back about 3/4 of the way into the run. And the rest of us kept on going. It didn't feel good to just leave her and for the rest of the run I kept having this debate, "Should I go back? No, I gotta stick to my own pace". It just felt wrong somehow.

It reminds me of a story I heard from Special Olympics. I'm paraphrasing so I hope I get it right. It was a track and field competition and several Special Olympians were lined up at the starting line for a foot race. The gun went off and the athletes took off down the track. Part way through the race, one of the athletes tripped and fell, ending any chance he had of winning. The other athletes obviously had an even better chance to win the race with this new development. Instead, they all turned around and went back to help.

This story makes me cry every time. Another life lesson to be learned from people with developmental disabilities. That winning isn't the most important thing. That success is measured in other ways. That life lived together is better than life lived solo. So what's my strategy for surviving the marathon, where its every man for himself?

I will be running with 8500 people but I will be alone. That stresses me out a bit. I've relied on lots of other people to date but during the race its all up to me. Will the finish be as sweet then?

Check out the race I'm running,
Check out who I'm fundraising for,
Check out how to donate to my run,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Let’s face it, I took up running to look better. That’s what all runners do, really. "Being in shape" is a euphemism for "Dayum, I look goooooood". Being healthy as a result is a bonus.

I think I do look better, actually. My body has changed somewhat over this past year. I’ve shrunk in inches but my basic shape is still there. Unfortunately? Fortunately? My cursed knees are still fat (Moth of Optimism: beloved knees). But I’m toning for sure. .. from the bottom up and the top down. I’m seeing definition and musculature but it only seems to have made it up to my mid-thighs and from my shoulders down to my belly button. I’m trying to figure out what shape this makes me. I’m not an apple, or a pear, or an hourglass. I keep picturing in my head those yoyo-type toys where there are strings on either side that you pull to make the round yoyo thingy in the middle spin around really fast. Or a Tinker Toy.

My calves pack a punch but looking down on them they appear to be gigantic. Maybe a bit shapelier but that could be the huge, cramping knots in the muscles. They don’t fit into my zip-up boots anymore, though. I have mini-muffin tops!

Side note: have I told you about IMS needling? My physio does it to my calves. Puts acupuncture needles straight into the muscle knots to the base of the needles (we’re talking a couple of inches) and keeps moving it up and down, poking around the muscle to release the knot. This is an interesting kind of pain. It’s like it’s buried, muted some how. Kind of bubbles up to the surface. Last week she hit a capillary or something and I felt it in my toes. I think she’s in cahoots with my chiropractor. Some kind of fiendish, Sweeney Todd-like plan. (Moth of Optimism: they are saintly people with only my success in mind!)

I still have the squidgy bits at the tops of my legs but I learned a great thing: these bits are likely not fat but built up scar tissue on my hip flexors! Not good for running but good for my self-esteem. I’m hoping this applies to other parts of my body, like the bit right below my belly button, or the backs of my upper arms. In fact, I’m hoping that I am just a mass of scar tissue and not fat...wait...that would mean to get rid of it I’d need hourly ART and Graston therapy with a tool the size of a boat oar.

And then there’s my butt. I’ve been really hoping to see a big change there. It’s smaller, I think. But it’s retained its shape: pseudo-cube. My friend calls it Spongebob Squarebutt. I call it Office Butt; comes from sitting most of the day. I thought with all the leg lifts it would round it out somehow but no such luck. It does look okay in my new running skort, though. Skort!

Other good news: Yesterday I think I actually saw my obliques.

News to balance it out: I think the fat deposits that were there have moved around to my back.

Good news: Now that I’m starting to get some colour on my legs (albeit spotty) the cellulite is far less noticeable.

Balancing news: I think I have a varicose vein on my right shin. This may not actually be running related.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Some marathon links

Food! Wine! 8500 people! Mayhem!

All coming up in a little over 2 months!!!!!!

Note: I will NOT be running in a coconut bra!!!