Who Says You Can’t Run from Your Problems?

I finally got back out for a run today after more than a week “off” (I’ve done a lot of cycling over the past week, but no running).  I covered 6k today in walk/run intervals, but went back to a 2 minute running/1 minute walking schedule.  I actually realized just yesterday that the walk/run program I’m doing right now never has me doing more than 3 minutes running at a time, it just increases the number of intervals, so I figured that a few more days of 2 minute intervals would probably be worth it after my break from running.  

Once again, I didn’t want to go.  Today was a rough day financially and mental-health-wise, we got some very bad news, which I will not get into, but it upset me, and I didn’t feel like getting off my butt.  All I wanted to do was sit and eat junk food, but my brain wouldn’t let me.  I put it off until 5pm, then finally got up and headed out the door – grumbling the whole way.  I hated every second, and it felt amazing.  When I got home, I wasn’t stressed any more.  Que sera, sera.  Everything will work itself out, and there  isn’t much I can do, so why make myself sick?  

What it with that?  I’m not actually a masochist, why do I love running so much when it hurts so badly?  Why does it make my head so much clearer?  How is it better at reducing stress and anxiety than all my meds combined? 

Apparently,  the cycling has been paying off.  My legs and lungs are stronger, and tonight felt easier.

I made a decision yesterday too – I have a fun run coming up on September 18th, and it has a 5k option and a 10k.  I was going to do the 5, but I decided on the 10 instead – despite the fact that I have a 10k run 6 days later in Toronto.  I’ll just do some easy runs and rides in between, and I’ll be fine.

I met my first goal reward too – the new Warcraft expansion pack comes out tomorrow morning and I preordered it, because I have stayed away from the vending machine at work this month.  Now if only I was going to have time tomorrow to play it. 

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Lots of Changes Old Max, Lots of Changes

My cat Oreo during his most recent health crisis, titled “in which we discovered our newest cat has major kidney and bladder issues that will require months of treatment and very costly special food for the rest of his life”. Sigh. That’s a story for another day.

So in my Epic Quest post, I listed becoming a veterinarian as one of my ultimate goals.  When I listed it less than 2 weeks ago it was a pipe dream.  A remnant left that I couldn’t let go of.  

As a child, it was the life I dreamed of – well-past the point of “every little girl wants to be a vet”.  In Grade 7, I gave my final speech on James Herriot – my idol as both an aspiring author and future (so I thought) veterinarian. My teacher told me I would have done better if I’d chosen a topic that was of interest to anyone but me (like a hockey player, apparently).  Incidentally, James Herriot (real name Alfred Wight) died while I was writing my speech.  It went from being a biography to being a tribute, and I wanted more than ever to follow in his footsteps.

I was off to a good start – I loved animals of all kinds, as well as science.  I even won the science award at my grade 8 graduation.   Then I got to high school, and I became terrified of science – what if I had to dissect something? (Don’t worry, I’m past that now).  I started looking into other options.  I was going to be either a lawyer or an architect.  Law interested me, as did psychology,  and I figured the two went well together.  Architecture fascinated me.  I did an independent study course, involving building a website on ancient architecture,  photography, a sketchbook, and a scale model of my house.  

When it came time for university,  I didn’t have the math or physics grades to get into architecture.   My overall average would have been more than enough, but calculus had stumped me (despite hiring a tutor), and so I settled for psychology.   I was going to be a youth counselor,  then a psychologist or a lawyer.

After my first year of the bachelor of arts program in psychology I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do.  I found psychology fascinating, but I still wanted to be a vet.  I changed schools, switched to a bachelor of Science in psychology, and began taking biology electives. Unfortunately,  I was going through some diffcult health issues at the time, and I didn’t have the energy or focus to put into it.  I passed most of my courses, but not with the grades I needed to pursue anything further – not vet school, not teaching, not my Masters in psych – nothing.  I had shot myself in the foot, and it didn’t even matter that it wasn’t entirely my fault.

I walked away again.  Finished my degree, went to college, and got my diploma in social service work. I didn’t like where that took me either.

I went back to college for architectural technology, hoping to get into a university architecture program after that, and discovered that I just didn’t have the artistic ability. I left the program, and worked in child care for a bit.

Eventually,  I went back to school for the paralegal program, and thought maybe I had found my way into law school.  I was offered a job as a receptionist in a law firm after my fist year, and left the program to take the job.  I worked there for four years, and went nowhere.   A few jobs later, I work retail part-time, and I have a far better understanding of what giving up a dream will cost you.  

Through everything I’ve done, every other career goal I’ve had, I have still always wanted vet school – I just never thought it could happen.  Not since I messed up in university. Every time I walk into a vet’s office, it’s like a punch in the gut.  A little voice says “could have been you”, but I shake my head and ignore it.  Then when I sat down to work on my Epic Quest list, it came unbidden.  What would my life look like at Level 50?  I would be a vet.  My own practice, a successful writing career, and a house on the lake.  

Oh. 

Nothing short of that will get me to my ultimate life, and I will never be happy if I don’t try.

I told my partner,  who has always been incredibly supportive, and got an even better response than the one I had hoped for. “I was just waiting for you to make the decision.”  So we started planning.

For the next 3-4 years, we are going to save like crazy – enough at the very least to pay for my first semester at Guelph.  Then my partner will find a job there, and I will get my store to transfer me to their Guelph location, and we will move.  We’ll rent a house or apartment there, and I will go back to school.  Because I have a degree already, I can take two years of general study, get the prerequisites and the grades I need, and apply for the DVM program after those two years.

This is going to be extremely difficult.  I’m going to have to be frugal, and more than that, I’m going to have to study.  HARD (I’ve already started taking free online courses to prepare me so that I can get the grades I need when I start the classes).  But in the end, it will all be worth it.  This is what I’m supposed to do.  I’ve always known it.

Time to stop dreaming and start DOING.

Best Laid Plans

Welp.  Camping did not go quite as I had planned.

By the time we got there Thursday night it was nearly 10pm.

On Friday, we did a short hike, then spent some time at the dog beach.

Our dog, Miley, is a coonhound/lab/husky/akbash mix (whose behaviour is almost 100% hound).  She has webbed feet like a lab, but is apparently terrified of water.  We’ve been trying to help her over her fear, and finally managed to get her in the water – all the way to her ankles.

Miley and my partner going for a “swim”

I was a little more enthusiastic about the water, and decided to do my distance swim.  I set out for deeper water, and walked, and walked… at nearly 1/3 of the way across the lake, the water wasn’t yet waist-deep and the weeds were getting bad.  Finally I dropped and swam back towards shore until I physically couldn’t  (as in, “ran aground”).  I did learn that my swimming is desperately rusty, and i have decided to start swimming at the local fitness centre.  My partner and I will be getting YMCA memberships next month so that we can use the pool, track, etc. all year.

On our hike back from the beach, we had an incredible experience that I can only describe as a “gift“. (My basic acount won’t let me post videos, so I’ve uploaded it to YouTube and included a link)

It’s hard to tell from the video, but the fawn’s white spots were so clear they looked as though they were painted on.  I was afraid I wouldn’t have time to adjust the settings on my camera – turned out I had plenty of time.  It was an amazing encounter, and we were so lucky to share in that moment.  After I stopped filming, we thanked the deer and then walked away as gently as possible.   

 We had a campfire Friday night, then first thing Saturday morning I went for my trail run.  The trail had chosen was within the park, but a 25 minute drive from our campsite.  I got to the head of the trail, and read the sign. “Caution: This is a back country trail… NEVER hike alone.”  Ohhh crap.  Back I drove to the main part of the park, found another trail, and set out.  I reached the end of the trail just as my five minute warm up ended.  Okay.  Short trail.  I ran part of the way back, then found another short but busy trail.  So I walked.  My partner and I went for another hike later that day.   Well,  better walking than nothing.  Another beautiful campfire Saturday night and we settled in for the night to read.  

When we woke up Sunday morning, it was raining.  No… maybe that’s not the word for it.  Remember our dog and her feelings towards water? In all fairness, our site was ankle deep.

Big brave hound dog

It was a rough trip home, all of us wet and dirty from packing up in that weather, but we made it!

10k Training, Week 5, Day 2

I knew I couldn’t do today.  

I knew it.

I was wrong.

My run, according to today’s entry on the training plan, was to do ten repetitions of “run 3 minutes, walk one.”

Yeah.  Right.  I can barely manage 2 minutes running.

I somehow survived the first rep, but thought “there is no way in Hell I can do 9 more of those”.  

But I did.

It hurt.  But I pushed through, and got to see a gorgeous sunrise.

THAT is a look of triumph.

Then, because I am apparently a glutton for punishment, I put in 5.5 miles on my bike.  My legs were blasted, and I barely made it up some of the hills – but again, I did it.

My only real issue is that it feels like running isn’t actually getting any easier.  I push through, and I out-stubborn it, but every breath still hurts, every step is still agony.  I love it, but I hate it.  It’s not that I’m expecting it to be easy, but others run past me and I can’t hear them wheezing.  Their mouths are closed.  They don’t look like it is killing them.  I know I’m carrying a lot of weight, and I have asthma, but at some point it has to get easier, right?

We’re going camping tonight for the weekend, so I’ll be out of range from after work today until Sunday, but I’ll take lots of pictures, and get lots of activity in.  Tomorrow I’m planning a distance swim – not entirely sure how far yet – and Saturday will be a trail run.  Saturday’s schedule calls for a run with 14 intervals of 2 minutes running, one minute walking. I figure if I could handle this morning, I can handle that. I wish I could take my bike, too, but until I get a bike rack for the car, I’m stuck.  There’s no way to pack our little car well enough to handle all of our camping gear, plus 2 people, plus our 80lb dog, plus my bike.  

I will likely be blogging offline for the weekend, and posting when I get home, so I will have lots to say.

Confession

Time for me to ‘fess up: I missed a workout.  I didn’t run yesterday.  

I got home last night from work just after 9:00, with the intention of running,  and then cleaning the birds’ cage (we have 5 adorable tiny zebra finches) but by the time I got in the door I barely had the energy to microwave the plate my partner had put in the fridge for me.  I ate, crawled into bed, and passed out cold. 

I got up at 5 this morning, cleaned the bird cage, and went back to lay on the bed for a second before getting ready to go and make up yesterday’s run – and my back went into spasm. Wonderful.  I couldn’t move, and actually had to call my doctor’s office and cancel my appointment for today because I knew I wouldn’t be able to drive the 3-hour round trip to her office with my back the way it was. 

Now I had a problem.  By not running yesterday or making up the run today, I would have officially missed a workout.   According to my goal rewards, I can’t miss 2 in a row between now and the end of September – and if I didn’t do today’s scheduled workout or my run I would be two behind.  But what to do when you have a legitimate reason not to work out?  By later this morning I was doing better, but still not in running shape, so I decided to ride my bike to work.   It was perfect!  Great weather, and my back held up okay.

For a little bit of back story (see what I did there?) – my back has always been sensitive. The extra weight I carry – and the fact that it’s largely in my – uh – upper body  – puts a strain on it.  Then, in 2007, the car I was driving was rear-ended by a drunk driver while I was stopped at an intersection.  I was the first car at the intersection,  and I was so terrified of being pushed into oncoming traffic that I had my feet pushed on the brakes hard as I possibly could (yes, logically I know that wouldn’t really help,  but I didn’t have much time to consider my options at the time).  I  was braced so hard that with my back, I managed to twist the driver’s seat out of shape.  The glasses I was wearing were thrown from my face and found by the body shop under the back windshield, beside the brake light.  I went home that night after the accident,  but went to the hospital the next day (and stayed for two days) with abdominal pain that we later discovered was due to bruised internal organs.  My back has given me a lot more trouble since then.

I’m going to cut my losses on yesterday’s run, and move on.  One workout missed, back on track, and all is right with the world.  I usually get hung up on trying to make up missed workouts,  but I am really trying to get past it.

Bonus!  I discovered that where I work actually has bike racks!

Loot! (AKA Rewards)

One of the things that the Nerd Fitness Academy emphasizes is that there have to be rewards for achievements.  In video games, achievements get you prizes/tools/etc., and in life, we need motivation to keep pushing through the hard work.  It’s easy to fall into the trap, however, of rewarding healthy habits with unhealthy behaviours – junk food, etc – so it’s important to have a game plan beforehand.

I have come up with my personalized loot system to share, and I have a couple of different levels of loot.

The first level is for daily healthy habits.  I have created a jar with ribbon tape marking points along its side.  Each ribbon marks a level of approximately 50 stones, and I can earn up to 5 stones a day for meeting my goals.

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My daily goals are to eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, to drink 3 litres of water, to get at least 7 hours of sleep, to work out (biking to work, running, going for a swim, a hike, whatever), and to meditate or do yoga.  Each 50-stone line on the jar represents a $15 reward.  I can either redeem those stones as soon as they hit the mark, or I can keep saving them until I reach a higher reward level.  While it will be up to me to decide at the time what I want to use my loot rewards for, I have come up with a few ideas for some of the levels.

$15 – New book (digital or paperback), World of Warcraft mount/pet, inexpensive computer game

$30 – New nerdy t-shirt 

$45 – New running outfit

$60 – New bike tires or accessory

$75 – New craft supplies

$90 – New running skirt

$105 – New running shoes

$195 – SmartHalo for my bike (this is a major loot goal for me right now, it combines so many features I want to add to my bike into one device)

I also have major achievement goals.  

  • There is a new WoW pack coming out that I would like to buy – it costs about $70 USD.  Since I didn’t start my loot quest early enough to earn it before the release date, I have set a goal of not purchasing any candy at work (one of my biggest weaknesses – stupid vending machine…) from now until it releases on August 30.
  • There are a couple of piercings I want to get. Two, in fact, which will be hidden… *ahem*…  Anyway, I can get them if I don’t miss any two workouts in a row between now and the end of September.
  • I have my heart set on a running skirt from Sparkle Skirts, but they’re expensive.  If I complete my trail run in November in less than 1:45:00, I will be ordering one.
  • I am planning on running a half-marathon next June (more on that in a future post).  When I complete that, I will be getting a tattoo on my foot, which is going to be reflective of my running. I am going to post some design ideas later as well for feedback.

Lastly, for completing all of my workouts in a week, I will be rewarding myself with a long, hot candlelit bath.  It won’t cost me anything, but it’s something I don’t often take the time to do for myself.

I’m already noticing a difference in my behaviours with these rewards.  I look longingly at the vending machine at work, then remind myself that I want the game.  I almost didn’t get up yesterday morning to run, but then reminded myself that if I miss one workout, I’m more likely to miss two, and then I won’t get my piercings at the end of September (plus I get Epic Quest points if I stick with all of my workouts for long enough, so there’s another motivator).

So many things to work for, and I’m psyched!  Bring on the loot!

Freedom

For my 14th birthday, my parents got me a beautiful bike.  It was a deep-purple and black marbled Norco Bush Pilot 21-speed mountain bike, and I loved it.  For 4 years, that bike got me nearly everywhere.  It was my pride and joy.

Then I got a car, and eventually the bike was retired to my parents’ garage.  It made a brief reappearance during the summer after my first year of university while I was between cars, but returned to storage shortly afterwards.

Last fall, I retrieved the bike, and found that it was in rough shape – beyond my scope of repair, even with instructional videos – so it sat in my own garage until last month.

Then we had a string of bad luck that included our car being off the road for more than a week, and with both my partner and I having to get to work, transportation started to become very expensive.  I needed my bike.

A new shop had opened up in town – an amazing little coffee shop and bike shop combined, and I took my bike in there to be checked over and repaired.  It wasn’t cheap, but my bike was back to like new within a week, and the owner of the shop says it has another 20 years in it (god, has it really been that long since I was 14?).

I rode it home the day I picked it up from the shop, and learned two things along the way.  One, riding a bike really is the way people say – you never actually forget – and two, I LOVE to ride.  I had completely forgotten how free riding makes me feel.  How happy and relaxed.

Today I went out for what was only my fourth ride since getting my bike back.  I did 5.26 miles before breakfast, and could have easily kept going had I not decided I was hungry.

When I got home, my partner asked how the ride was.  Before I could even answer, they responded “I think somebody has found her passion”.  It’s true.  All day today I have been thinking about going back out to ride.

I just wish I had more opportunity to get better.  There is a women’s cycling group in the area, but one of the requirements to join is a road bike – which mine is clearly not – and it’s way out of the budget at the moment.

Someday.  For now, I ride solo,  and I love every minute of it.