Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I'm two days late on my blog. I haven't run since Friday. Tonight doesn't look good for a run either. I'm such a slacker.

Or I may have overdone it last week. Last week, I imagine, was how a typical training week should look.; Long run on the Sunday, training run on the Tuesday, yoga class on the Thursday, hill training on the Friday, another yoga class on the Saturday. I got my cross-training in, I ran by myself, it was all good (well, except my diet, but that was last week's blog).

And then this Sunday I crashed. Felt really tired and headachy, bit of a scratchy throat. There are murmurs of something going around - or maybe it was having to sit through two hours of the "Fame" remake that day - but I fear my body might just be saying, "Whoa, hold up! This ain't you." And it's kind of right. I've never done that much exercise in one week in my entire life.

I'm a big believer that if you aren't feeling well, then LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It's telling you to slow down and take a step back. I usually listen (especially if I have a lot of things to do at work) but I need to keep moving forward to stick with this running thing. I can't lose momentum! People tell me not to push myself too hard with my training but I thought that just meant not to run fast. I'm SUPPOSED to be actively training, sticking to the schedule. I'm SUPPOSED to be cross-training. If doing what I'm supposed to results in getting sick, then I'm hooped.

Or maybe I'm just mimicking the economy, tapping into the collective consciousness. Last week I was definitely in a boom, I was a raging bull, but this week I'm most certainly in a bust and wanting to go into hibernation a la bear. I've entered a recession, I don't know how long it's going to last, and I can't see any stimulus packages in the near future. Anyone wanna bail me out?

# of km = 20
# of hills = 5
# of pieces of leftover cake = 2
# of bowls of buttercream in the fridge = 1
# of naps = 2

Want to learn more about L'Arche, the organization I work for and am fundraising for?  Go to www.larchecalgary.org

Want to support my efforts?  Go to www.canadahelps.org/gp/5210

Want to read about the marathon I'm running?  Go to www.marathondumedoc.com

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fill 'er up!

This week I learned something disturbing.  During a marathon some people have, um, accidents.


It can all be traced back to food, of course.  My BFF may very well betray me.

In any machine that needs to move, the fuel is the thing.  How the machine functions and performs is directly proportional to what is put in the tank.  In running, carbohydrates = good.  They give you energy.  However, sometimes complex, high-fibre carbohydrates = bad, particularly right before a marathon.  Apparently, speeding up your legs for that great of a distance speeds up other functions as well.  This is known as the "Runner's Trots".

As if I don't have enough to be nervous about.

I have a love-love relationship with food.  I think about it pretty much all the time.  I love to eat it and read about it and grow it and cook it and watch people scream obscenities at other people while THEY'RE trying to cook it.  Being part Ukrainian instilled this in me.  This culture is all about the food (and the food is all about starch and fat, which would apparently serve me well for a marathon).  It's also all about the celebration of food.  Probably because back in the Ukraine there was so little of it that they made a production of whatever bits came their way.

There seems to be a lot of planning involved when eating for running.  This seems like a lot of work.  Most of my life I haven't had to worry too much about what I ate.  My genes graced me with a reasonably fast metabolism.  In recent years, I've had to pay closer attention because of some health issues and because, since hitting 35, the metabolism has slowed and the view FROM THE BACK has grown more panoramic.

But for the most part, I've eaten what I wanted, when I wanted, and now it appears this is no longer possible.  I have to PLAN what I eat.  I have to think about it ahead of time, not just dream about it.  I have to be conscious of every morsel of fuel that goes into the tank.  I have to measure and strategize.  Now where is the celebration in that?  Can I be mindful and still enjoy it?  What happens if I cheat?

It will make a difference, though.  I know that.  I'm already feeling it.  I ask everyone I run with what they eat, especially before a run, because I can't seem to get it right.  The morning runs are the worst.  Even a small bowl of cereal congeals into a lump in my belly and subsequently gets tossed around - a deep tissue massage and not in a good way.  I tried running with an empty stomach and that was a big mistake.  I not only saw stars, I saw planets.  And then there's the nausea.  Tell me again why I pursue something that makes me want to throw up?

There is also the challenge of eating between runs.  Running naturally increases your appetite.  Before running I was pretty much ravenous all the time.  Now?  Well, look out.  Like right now all I can think about is the leftover cabbage rolls sitting in my fridge - and I just ate breakfast.  I also have this quirk where anytime I do anything that's good for me, be it a run or a yoga class, afterward all I want is a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips.  A big bag.  Don't try and placate me with suggestions of rice cakes or crackers.  You know it's not the same.

All of this could be a problem going forward.  Any tips and tricks you can send me would be most helpful.....can I get wireless access inside the fridge?

# of km this week = 15
# of hills = 1/2
# of cabbage rolls = 8

Want to learn more about L'Arche, the organization I work for and am running and fundraising for?  Check out www.larchecalgary.org

Want to support L'Arche and my efforts?  Go to www.canadahelps.org/gp/5210

Want to see what the Marathon du Medoc is all about?  Click on www.marathondumedoc.com

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Robyn - The Reluctant Runner

One year from today I will run a marathon.  God help me.

I hated running.  Didn't understand it.  Wasn't remotely interested in it.  Certainly had no inclination to do any kind of race and definitely not for any kind of distance.  I was in the camp that said, "I only run if I'm being chased."  Or if there was something particularly good at the end of it like a garage sale or my Babche's beet leaf cabbage rolls with cream and fresh dill, or Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in a top hat and breeches.

But in January I went for my annual check-up and my doctor did that evil Body Mass Index test and she noted, kindly, that mine was on the higher end.  I read between the lines: I was getting fat.  I went home right after, looked at myself in the mirror FROM THE BACK, and I knew that she was right.

So I bought all the gear (including a pair of running pants that looked good FROM THE BACK) and I joined a running clinic.  Even then I had no desire to do any kind of race.  I just wanted to put one foot in front of the other at a pace marginally faster than walking.  I was hoping I might even like it or at least tolerate it enough that I could make a habit of it.

And then in April I had a conversation.  The employee running club at Rogers Insurance is going to train for and run a marathon together and raise money for the organization I work for at the same time - L'Arche Calgary (www.larchecalgary.org).

(Pause for a HUGE shout out to Rogers!!!!!)

They are going to run the Marathon du Medoc (www.marathondumedoc.com) in Bordeaux, France in September 2010.  At this marathon you run in costume, you run by castles, and they feed you wine along the way.  Plus, the founder of L'Arche, Jean Vanier, and the original L'Arche community are an hour north of Paris and a visit can be arranged.

I had one of those moments where the hamster on the wheel in your brain steps off for a second to talk to you.  My hamster's name is Serendipity and sounds like Morgan Freeman and on that day he said, "Well, Robyn, I guess you'd better run, too."

And so here I am, training for a marathon and fundraising for L'Arche as well.  I decided to add the fundraising component to echo Rogers' efforts but also because I'm inherently lazy and I need lots of motivators to make this happen.  And I need other people to hold me accountable. And I need a space to process the experience (and likely vent).  And I need you to share it with me.  And because I hope you might reward my efforts by supporting the gift of L'Arche to the world.  Please note that I plan to cover all my costs associated with this endeavour (hurray for air miles and family birthday presents) so any contribution you make will go directly to L'Arche Calgary.

So I'm doing this blog and I plan to report weekly on my progress to tell you my thoughts and feelings on it all.  And of course tell you all about the marathon when I get to it and tell you about L'Arche.  I encourage comments and tips and thoughts of your own.  I just ask that you keep it clean and reasonably polite and maybe refrain from talking about how I look FROM THE BACK for now.

I've set up a Giving Page through www.canadahelps.org/gp/5210.  If you want to make a contribution to L'Arche Calgary (via credit card) you would do so here.  Tax receipts will be issued by CanadaHelps but the donation comes straight to L'Arche.  Please note that you can remain anonymous.  You are also welcome to wait until there is tangible, legal proof that I completed the darned thing.  And also please note that I will not judge you or berate you or publicly mock you for choosing not to donate to this.  I will do that for other reasons ;-)