Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

What was I thinking?

Short version: tonight I ran 14km.

Long version...  Do you really want the long version?   It may be longer than the actual running of it ;)

Okay so this story starts with me really questioning the half marathon goal ;)  Seriously?  It's fall now.  Being outside is not fun.   Running is not fun.   Why would I pick a target that includes two not fun things?   You know what would be fun?  A good movie, hot chocolate, and a fireplace.  That would be fun.  Regardless, stupid Lauren set a not fun goal.  I haven't run at all since Sat, mostly due to life, and I knew I wouldn't tomorrow so I wanted to get tomorrow's long run in tonight.  All good right?   Except cold, windy, and a crazy storm approaching.

So I went to the rail trail, thought being trees, lots of them, would help negate the wind and some of the rain should it hit.  When I started, my body worked very hard to convince me that this was a very stupid idea.  My knee hurt for a bit, then it felt fine and the other knee hurt, then I got a wicked cramp -- all within the first three km ;)   N I basically told my body to quit whining and kept going.   

Apparently it's a thing?!?!  Seems like a horrible idea really, but it did work.
Running on the rail trail where I go, the run out is all uphill and the run home is downhill.  It's a slight slope, but noticeable.  And I'm amused by the mental games I play.  I know most sports competition is in huge part mental -- but I'm just learning how that applies to running.  For instance, I had a plan to run 14km (which, btw, I should get a gold star for since the "official" plan was only 13 -- but I don't like how the official plan doesn't build past 16 before race day so I've altered slightly ;).  Anyways -- back to our story.  Targeting 14km.  At 3km I celebrated the half-way point.   And I wasn't wrong ;)  How?   Well 14km is 7km out and 7km back.  Half of 7km is 3.5km, 3.5km is a part of kilometer 3.  So therefore as I passed the 3km marker I justified to myself that I was almost half way there!  Easy!   Then when I get "there", I can turn around and it's "just run home".  And since it's downhill home, it's even easier.  

The other thing that keeps my brain occupied is basic arithmetic.  If I'm running for six minutes and walking for one, and my watch says I've been going for 52 minutes, how long till my next walk break ;)  I can honestly say that this is the only word problem that has ever applied to my daily life.  And I'm getting very good at solving for it ;)  Unfortunately that means it's not a particularly long distraction.

On this route, I consistently find the 5th km more of a challenge than the rest -- maybe it has a slight extra slope?  I don't know.  But I slowly made my way through it and got to the trains!  Wooho.  Now to be honest, I couldn't care less about the trains -- but it's something different so it's a thing.  It's a little thing, but a thing.   Shortly after km 6, I had to pause because a girl was riding towards me and her horse was having nothing to do with coming towards me, so I stood till he relaxed.  Girl was a good rider and dealt with him competently and thanked me for stopping so all good.  Issue is, when I started back up I hit the wrong button on my watch.  Fail :(   So I started it back up but of course it tagged it as a new run.  When I got home I googled combining the files but it was pretty much a fail :(   Sad -- I wanted my new trophy for longest run!  (I didn't have said watch when I last ran a 15k race ;)

Anyways -- the mental games continued with "only 1/2 km till you're there -- that's easy!" -- there, of course, being the 7km mark ;)

The run home was so much better!  My body wasn't hurting anymore, there was next to nobody on the trail, the wind was so loud in the trees I felt like nature was making up for the lack of music, and things were good.  At some point on the way my quads started to feel sore -- but the good kind of muscle sore, not hurting so okay.  And unfortunately it got rather dark.  Hmmmm tricky.  The rain opened up just as I got back in my car so I forwent stretching and hopped in.

Truly awful life choice.  By the time I got home I was so unbelievably seized up.  Ugh.  No fun at all. Glad I'm teaching XC tomorrow if for no other reason than it'll make me go for a long walk.

I also learned I'm going to have to figure out how to dress -- unlike other sports, you can't shed layers as you warm up.  Well I suppose you *could* -- but you run a high risk of losing them permanently.  And good exercise clothing isn't cheap.  At one point I realized my hands were so cold I couldn't feel my fingers.  Other parts of me were sweating and shivering at the same time.  This is much less fun than last week.  Ugh.  

5 weeks left (not that I'm counting down...).  Past history has shown that my determination (stubbornness?) will outweigh common sense and I'll stick to it ;)  But we shall see.

Determined or stubborn?  It's a fine line ;)
The end result, however, is the same...

Gold star to me :)

They literally gave me a gold star ;)
I am neither kidding nor exaggerating -- somebody actually gave me a physical gold star!   That might, in fact, be a first :)   

So at the performance awards at work tonight  -- you know, the event I originally wasn't going to be able to attend due to the jury duty selection -- I won a gold performance award!   And was simultaneously: 
A - super excited 
B - stunned 
C - super excited 
D - slightly overwhelmed 
E - super excited 
Followed about 15 mins later with disappointed I hadn't been quite impressive enough to make it on the cruise (one step higher than gold) ;-P.  What can I say, a bit of a perfectionist :). But even so, still grinning ear to ear so we're going with super excited ;). Haven't been here two years yet, but that's going to be hard to top! 

Also super exciting when people I work with win as well in the "I know them!" variety :). Was pretty thrilled by the number of people I work with regularly who won. Okay so I realize that may read oddly, but keep in mind the size of the organization -- I only know a comparative handful of people and I feel a disproportionate number of them got awards, so thinking I work with some pretty excellent people. To put in perspective, there were about 1500 people there tonight (and I have no idea how many absent).  Of the five of us who report to my boss, two received awards. Similarly, of the eight people on one of my project teams, three received awards. There are not that many awards (maybe 90 over 4 levels?).  So yeah - pretty excited. As I may have mentioned ;)

Now the tricky part is going to be falling asleep after combined sugar high and excited high in a reasonable timeframe to enable my stupidly-early start tomorrow.  Right.

High School Flashbacks

I live across the street from a high school; this is a complete non-issue in our daily lives -- we're at work while school is on, and conveniently there's a track I can use to run on and a pool to swim in both within a sixty second walk.  Awesome.

Today, however, I was working from home.  Still actually a non-issue, but what amused me was the deeply instinctive reaction generated by the school bells ringing.  In equal parts:
- omg I must be late!
- ugh, do I really have to go?
- What class do I have next?
- Frig, I didn't do the assignment
and as the bells chimed about 3:00ish,
- Sweet, time to go home!

Now we're not even going to discuss the multiple decades it's been since I was in highschool, and while some of the school associated thoughts may have been drilled in during uni, uni didn't have bells.  I'm sitting in my home office, working on the kinds of stuff they never taught us in high school, and every time one of those bells rings, I'm back to being 16 again.  I didn't love being 16, so the overwhelming feeling I'm getting after my brain runs rapidfire through the above list of questions is "Woohoo!  I don't have to go!"

Anyways, just sort of amused me.   As to *why* I'm working from home and not in the office today?  Well that would be because when Chris went to let the dogs out this am, he found a dead raccoon on our deck.  Awesome.  All curled up right next to the glass door.  So since he has *just* started a new job, combined with the fact that I was expecting to be doing the jury-duty thing today and had rescheduled most of my meetings to later in the week, I got to be the one to deal with it.   Called the humane society -- closed on Mondays.  Fail.  Except in a rather large win, they have a redirect in their voice mail to Animal Control.   Very quick conversation with them and they assured me they'd send somebody out.

In the meantime, Tucker eventually woke up and realized there was a GIANT RACCOON sleeping Right. Outside. His. Window.   Growling and clawing at the window endlessly, fairly horrified by this situation.  Which in turn terrified Sasha who was upstairs with me and promptly tried to turn into a lapdog.  Lol suffice to say this did not work terribly well, esp as I was trying to type!

Fortunately for all involved, the woman to deal with the raccoon made it out fairly early.  Tucker's "giant raccoon" estimate wasn't all that far off, she said it was one of the biggest she'd seen.   She bagged it and took it away and I washed the deck off (yeah for torrential rain shortly after) and we're good to go.  Why said random giant raccoon dropped dead on our deck?   Well that is a mystery I sincerely doubt we'll ever know the answer to.   When I did eventually let the dogs out several hours later, they didn't even pretend to hesitate there -- ran straight to their usual areas of the yard.   So I'm not too concerned about lingering scent or any issue there.

This is the second rather rude early morning in three days (Tucker had another run-in with a skunk on Sat); we've ordered one of the ultra-sonic pest-repellents for the garden.  We'll have to see how that goes. 

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia...

Was going through the excessive amount of stuff I still had in my parents' basement, deciding what to move, what to donate, what to garbage etc.  Opened a box that had stuffed toys, which were mostly being purged, but some are important.  Made a comment Toy Story style about "okay, which of you are coming home with me?" and got an answer!  Hahaha I'm not even kidding -- AG was in the box and apparently his batteries still work.   For those who have never had the honour of meeting an AG, I'm sorry.  The epitomic toy of the 80s, AG is voice activated and responds in bear growls, apparently even thirty years later.  Suffice to say, AG is now comfortably settled into his new home :)

So I've been missing writing and was considering Nanowrimo this year and trying to figure if there was any way possible to fit it into my schedule -- pretty much decided not.  Booo.   But then flipped through and realized I didn't even write any flash in 2015 and only one in 2016.  Ugh, the worst. Challenging as I write best late a night and well, late night is sadly spent sleeping these days. Adulting at its finest ;-P  So thinking the goal instead might be one flash a week through Nano?  Will decide closer to.

Also looking through I realized that one of my favourite flashes - the one with the sticky notes - had disappeared.  So sad :(   Found the script of it in my old notes, so thinking I'll recreate that one at some point.  Started to, but it's a tedious process...

So work announcement from a few weeks ago -- Chris got a new job with amazing opportunities and I got a promotion :)   Woohoo!   Gold star to us :)

Was supposed to go for jury duty selection this week but it got cancelled.  Divided on that -- I've never done it before, so I was sort of curious for a new experience.  But that being said, busy at work and definitely easier to not randomly disappear for three days ;)

Happy birthday to superpuppy!  Officially 5 years old :)

So much cute!

Slow runners make fast runners look good. You're welcome.

Last weekend I finished week four of my training plan.  And I was pretty stoked about it.  The long run was no problem, the short runs were getting faster.  I was sleeping as though I'd been drugged (for she who usually doesn't sleep well, this is awesome!)  And my body is starting to show the results, so pretty excited about that.  Only at the minuscule enough that only I can tell phase, but that's where it always starts right?  Month one, you notice; month two, others close to you notice; month three, random acquaintances notice.  Awesome, right?

Okay, now who amongst my fine readers noticed that the vast majority of that paragraph is in past tense?  Why is that?   Well because I never got around to writing my very excited "yeah I finished week four" post and then week five hit.

Yes, Week Five.  The iniquitous Week Five.  Otherwise known as the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, Week Five.  *sigh*  All of a sudden my times dropped significantly and I was so tired I couldn't sleep.  This is not fun.   Only saving moment is that looking at the schedule -- evidently Week Five treats everybody this way; the reason I say that is that the training plan, which thus far had been gaining in mileage every week, suddenly dropped noticeably.  So feeling particularly wiped this week, I've decided to group my two rest days together and give my body a recovery period.   Chill today and tomorrow, regular workout Sat/Sun, chill Mon/Tues (this is more life inspired than anything but fits well with the recovery idea), and then back to our regularly scheduled program.

And to ensure that return, I have actually registered.  Committed now ;)   And now I'm taking my commitment in search of a bubble bath.

Everywhere is walking distance if you have enough time...

Just got my Fitbit report from last week, 99,374 steps.  I feel like if they'd sent any kind of "you're close to breaking 100k" message I'd have taken advantage of it.  They send me a ton of other ones, let's just add this to the list, shall we?   Sheesh.

On the plus side - they have a new program I'm quite enjoying called Adventures which puts your steps towards a trail somewhere (I'm in Yosemite Valley right now) and shows you pretty pictures along the way.  There are also treasures to be found; this could be a snipit of information (one about Ansel Adams this am) or a suggested activity (one last night was to skip for one minute - did that ever drive the dogs crazy!).  Only down side is you have to sync to get the "treasures" so I miss at least %80 of them.  Boo.  I also have realized that with all this running my step count is way elevated, so I will be in trouble when I stop and suddenly all my averages are way off.  On running days, 20k is not unusual.  On non running days, especially if I don't teach, I have to make a concerted effort to break 10.

In completely unrelated news, one of the barns I'm teaching at now has a penned dog area for if you want your dog somewhere safe while you ride.  I just thought that was a brilliant idea :).  Save loose dogs running around while owners are mounted but still lets said owners bring their dog to the barn.  Little things in life.

Poor life choices

Let's chat about poor life choices.  Mine today was randomly deciding to run before work.  To be fair to me, as with so many, my poor life choice started out with good intentions.  I knew that my team was going to the Jays game this afternoon so I was likely to not feel like doing much after, and it was supposed to rain most of the day.  So I figured I'd run before work and be good to go.

So I gamely set my alarm accordingly, and indeed all started out well -- I actually obeyed the alarm and was actually out of the house within about 2 mins of when I'd determined I'd need to be to get my run in and still be at work on time for my first meeting. 

Sash and I stepped out the door to discover not only was it still dark (expected) but it was also raining.  Ugh.  Admittedly had I discovered that before leaving the wonderful cocoon of sleep, that would've been the immediate end to today's ambition.  But by this point we were already outside.  Okay fine.

I realized my favourite "from the house" route wasn't going to work as it involves trails by the lake and, well, I don't see all that well in the light -- not thinking I should try it in the dark.

Mentally determined a new route and away we went.  And tbh, it felt really good.  Strong and fast.  Have you ever experienced a time when your feelings did not reflect reality?  Such was the case with me.  Turns out I'm slow in the morning.  Really slow.  Again, logically I know this - there's a reason I go into work so early: I need time to adjust before I have to interact with people.  But somehow my little brain didn't interpret that to mean I'd be physically slow too :(.  Seriously demoralizing.

Ah well, felt like a good run even if the data doesn't reflect that.  I finished the route I'd invented only to be almost 2k short *sigh*.  Decided I'd solution that by going to the high school track across the street.   A few laps of that (which had Sasha very puzzled I might add, although she gamely went along with it) and we made up our distance.

But now I was soaking wet and significantly later than planned.  Fail.  Quick shower and dress and good to go.  Except it turns out I wanted to wear the same shoes for the ball game.  Which were now soaking wet.  First world problems eh?   Get to the train station and they're having the same kind of day - everything is red.  Frig.   

Ah well - eventually get on a train, sign into work, and am caught up by the time I get there.  Not enough time for breakfast, but otherwise good to go.

So in the spirit of optimism, we're going to call that a win.  In the spirit of realism, Sasha and I will return to sleeping in until the last possible moment.

No matter how slowly you're going, you're faster than everybody on the couch.

Gold star to me!
Okay the graphic needs some work, but the text made me laugh and it seemed about right.  A valiant effort indeed.  And what do I get the gold star for?  Getting off the couch.  I am not even kidding.

To put this in perspective, my calendar said I needed to run 6k today.  And had I been diligently following said calendar, this probably would've been a non issue.  But you see, I had to go and get all ambitious.  So Sat, I rode my bike for half hour or so.  This in itself is impressive as it was dinner time by the time I got around to it and I was feeling less than ambitious.  Usually half hour is about 10k, but once I got going, I was feeling good so it was a little further.  All good.  Sunday I felt fine, since Saturday's ride wasn't terribly intense.  This is key as that's the long run day this week.  Long being all of 8k (hey - it's only week 2 remember!).  And I did it, and felt fine after.  Awesome.

Then I got ambitious.  Monday was a long weekend.  With perfect weather.  And I now know where the start of the rail trail is.  So I took my bike and away I went...  At about 5k I was ready to cry, my quads were *not* happy with me (did I mention the rail trail from this point is up hill?)  But I was determined to do at least 20k, and really kinda wanted 40.  So I pushed past 5, at 8 I was regretting it, but somehow by 10 I was starting to feel okay...  Sweet.  So I kept going, aiming for the 15k marker -- but the 15k marker wasn't anywhere convenient to turn around so I figured I'd go to the next road, which was at 18k...  Here was a cruel and unusual tease of ice cream and cold  drinks -- sadly I carry no cash or cards with me when I ride.  And well, 18k was so close to 20, I figured I may as well go for it.  So I rode the extra couple kms and then randomly turned around in the middle of the trail.  At about 25k I was really regretting my current life choices.  But then, remember how I said it started uphill?  Well that goes to about the 15k mark.  Which meant the rest of the ride was downhill.  And FAST!
 So yeah, that was all kinds of fun.  Except those silly guard rails that you practically have to stop to get through (and yes, I realize that is the point, to keep me from zoom zooming into traffic, but still!)  At one point one of my quads seized and I had a moment of suspicion I might pay for this later, but then it relaxed again and I was good to go.

Went home, showered, slept, and then went for a 5k walk.  Not even kidding.  Sadly this does not in fact earn a gold star because the walk was to Dairy Queen ;-P   But at least I did something to prevent my quads from completely transforming to lead.

And that brings us to today.  Where the first time I had to go from the 12th floor to the 18th floor at work I actually stared at the stairwell door for a good 30 seconds before sighing and stepping through.  The elevator *almost* won.  Add that to starting work early and ending work late (short week, of which I'm on course two days -- that means the two days in the office are somewhat crazy) and I end up getting home shortly after Chris and I usually eat dinner.  Which means he's starving and would prefer we eat first and then I run.   Except who wants to run right after eating?  Ugh.

But I dragged myself off the couch and "run" I did.  If by run, you accept a slightly faster than a walk shuffly thing.  My running loop of choice has a steep downhill and a very long slow uphill -- at least the way I usually do it.  Today I decided to reverse it -- started out well with the long slow downhill, that then got randomly very steep.  As I got to the bottom I realized I'd taken a wrong turn, so I did a figure 8 thing that resulted in me running up the very hill I'd been avoiding running up, back down the steep one, and then finally pointing the right direction.  Sweet.  So next time around I manage it, going down the right hill this time, only to meet a nice woman at the bottom who warned me with a glance at Sasha that there was a pretty black and white kitty guarding the trail further on.

Guard Cat
*sigh* Turn around and shuffle back UP the hill I'd been trying to avoid -- for the second time.  Decide that loop isn't going to work in either direction and head back home, but am still only slightly over 5k at this point.  Conveniently the high school across the street from me has a really nice track that was deserted.  A loop around the track and the long way home and I hit my 6k.  It was possibly the slowest 6k on record, although I have to say my last km was my strongest.  And I am forever grateful to the stupidly expensive running socks I bought since they cushioned all the latest blisters nicely ;)

In other news, this week was super exciting as both Chris and I earned a *real* gold star in our professional lives.  Sadly, I cannot say more for a coupe weeks. But suffice to leave with WOOHOO!!!