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Monday, December 5, 2011

Contagious Motivation...

It's Day 339 of this year of running!  For some miraculous reason I'm still alive !!!

Who knew?

1864.52km so far this year.  Clinging to the hope of 2011km by the end. 27 runs left.

So here are my random ramblings for the day...

Some call them goals, others say dreams, it really doesn't matter.  Inspiration, motivation, urge desire whatever... What does it take to see it through?  What does it take to visualize the finish?  We've seen the end of training, the end of the race, the goal time on the clock.  But when have you done some crazy thing for absolutely no reason?  People are asking me, why did you do this?  For the cake I say. (because we celebrate with cake every 25 days)... 

In truth I don't know why. Perhaps that is why.  I wanted to fall in love with running.  I wanted to want it.  I wanted that yearning you feel for it in taper tantrum moments when all you can think of is the run.  I wanted to embrace the disdain you have for it on the rainy forgetful busy chaotic days when the run doesn't fit.  I wanted to let it soak in my soul and leave me feeling some sense of completion I haven't felt for years.  I wanted to want it the way you preoccupy yourself with daydreams of that first kiss....

I wanted to know if I could....

If I could do it, if I could complete it, if I had it in me, if I could want it bad enough....

The question becomes, what motivates YOU? What drives you to that point of pushing yourself past the moment you knew all there was to know about yourself?  What creates the need to know more?  What wakes you up in the night with a the sense of determination in the air?

Is it a race? Is it a healthy lifestyle change?  Is it a challenge from a friend? Is it a hope?

What plasters the picture of your future on your wall like a teenager self decorating?

More importantly.... what takes you there?  What carries you through? What moves you from the dream to the reality?  How do you get yourself in the poster?

Very infrequently miracles are stumbled on... especially if you are sitting still. 

If you long to stub your toes on the little life changing miracles of accomplishment, you have to walk the path.  Walk it fearless and barefoot.  Walk it unleashed and unarmed.  Walk it without regrets or someone else's judgement.  Through the mud, through the tangled roots, over the rocks and under the shrubbery. 

And when the bears start growling in the distance, instilling fear or doubt.... walk faster, think clearer.... Don't EVER give up.  Life, it turns out... waits for no one.  No matter how special you are. 

And those.... are the ramblings of this blind girl....

Happy Monday!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dirt under my nails

Everything is worth a fight... and the things that aren't worth the fight... well...

see they aren't even worth the words I could have said about them...

But the things that you know are worth a fight, worth your fight, are worth your absolutely everything.

Here is my biggest self discovery moment of the last 331 days.  Are you ready? Got your cup of tea? Sitting down?  It took me a while to get here, to this place of knowledge, or rather of acceptance... or rather of sweaty acknowledgement.... So in my thinking, you'd best be prepared for what follows....

I am a very intense person.

There I said it.

I don't know how to do anything "... a little bit".  I don't feel fantastic dabbling in anything.  If I'm gonna love - you better watch out, because I am in so deep you'll wish you had brought oxygen reserves.  If I'm gonna study something, I'm gonna be the best that I'm capable of.  If I'm gonna commit to something... like say running every day for a year... well then dam it... guess what?

There is nothing holding me back because there is such a huge amount of everything trying to.  I don't even love the fight.  I just seem to end up there, facing down my opponent and knowing in that last moment I may lose completely ... but it sure as hell won't be for lack of trying.

When I wake up in the morning the first thing I put on is my mental boxing gloves.  Every time some small thing jumps in my path I stop and take that breath that decides my fate.  Do I stand up to this?  Will I let this defeat me? Can you see me on the other side? Can I? I've been asked this year... what are you afraid of?

Everything.  Especially chaos.


put your gloves on.... (or running shoes as the case may be...)

There is no point in fighting the fight if you are not ready to embrace that chaos.   Let it take you by the throat and move you to that place that dangles your feet just over the edge of hope and above the canyon of fear... Then take it by surprise every time by turning to face it and smiling.  That's when the shock loosens it's grasp and you have your edge.

People are questioning my next years goals.  What do you plan to do for a year now?

I .... I.... this me.... I fear  ... maybe....

You know, sometimes, just looking into peoples eyes (especially when you know I'm legally blind and a bit of my behaviour traits)... sometimes, that's enough to make people shudder.  It's not that I'm special, or important or better than.  It's just too much truth in one moment of time for some people to accept.   Too much truth, too much fight... too much stubbornness.

I'm afraid to set a 2012 goal, because I know I will keep it.  There is still dirt under my nails from this years goal.

This year I have learned there is nothing you can't run through.  Sickness, health, busy schedule, travel, broken hearts, new jobs, exams, graduations, post marathons, when someone is holding your hand, more importantly when no one is....

This year I have learned that running can be as much a part of me as breathing, washing, eating. 

Next year I will have to learn that there can be a day WITHOUT running... Not a lesson I'm looking forward to learning.

And if you think you've lost your sense of humour.... get to day 331, where you've had a cold for a week, a migraine for 2 days, you're babysitting, you (remember 8% vision which means no driving) take 4 kids to the movies alone, your cat's in heat (again), your house is taking out stocks in tissues, the movie theater is 2.4km away and it's raining...

This is why you have a choice. Some things seem so karmicly chaotic that you can't help but laugh.  You can't help but stop and embrace it all. It's still your day 331.  You are still alive.  And as someone else offers your kids a ride home after the movie, but has no room for you or the stroller... and you in jeans and a winter coat.. standing in the rain... have a choice.

Well I was, I figured, wearing running shoes after all.

todays run... (although I am hoping for more) day 331 of 365 days of running - 2.4km solo road run pushing an empty stroller through the rain, home from the movies... 15mins.

current total 1795.8km  Still hoping for 2011km by the end of the year... 34 runs from now....

Peace to you in chaos :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's always someones something...

Went for a run yesterday, because I'm stubborn.  Snow on the ground enough to steal away most of my sight.  No guide arranged.  No help organized.  This is not uncommon but in the snow... it is a problem.  My run started at my house post school bus, travelled down to the path near my house, travelled up the path for just over 6k and then finally finished back up on the road that brought me to the YMCA for my favourite strength class.  My feet, ever so cautiously moved me towards the trail... usually I can see the trail, the ground that looks bare in front of me.  As if the trees backed up a smidge to allow my passage.  But yesterday, the only hint of  path I could make out.... was nothingness.  This gap in space where something should have been.  But here only brightness existed.  Here only glare to force my eyes shut.  Here only the devilish laughs of doubt.  And still I ran.  I ran as if I were running on a cloud ... visually lost my feet.  I could see my black pants but my shoes dissapeared into the nothingness underfoot.  So running I convinced myself every step I did in fact exist.  I am here... I can feel me.

A lady ran past me.  I said good morning to the movement as she passed. "where did the snow come from" she asked... "Not sure but It makes it hard to see" my response. "to see?" her question... her pace slowing in contemplating thought. "Oh you mean from the glare!" her resolution.. pace picking up again.  Right I thought exactly.

She didn't know this was my day 322.  She didn't know I was a legally blind runner.  She didn't know anything beyond that fate gave us this sunrise to share this trail this moment in time.  She didn't know, nor did she want that responsibility.  She ran.  She seemed free to me... running on the nothingness underfoot. As if a unicorn galloping among the clouds.  And I let her go.  Even though I longed to cling to that vision she could have shared.  I let her travel ahead to the point where she was lost to me among the brightness.  To the point where I couldn't even hear her. 

After all, it may not be her day 322 but it certainly was her something.  Let her be to embrace that something. Let her soul dance in a happy runner tango along this trail.

I ran and ran... Distance was lost to me. It wasn't a long run but I will tell you, if you want to forget how far you have to go... worry instead about falling into the creek along side the path of nothingness.  It will take your mind off time and pace and distance.  Everything becomes ghostly against a backdrop of "stay alive".

I met the lady again after she'd turned around, claiming her half way mark some distance ahead.  "the bridge is slippery" she warning warmly as if her runner courtesy was accomplished.  "thanks" I replied with a smile.... I let her have that moment of warmth in her head.... I did gain knowledge from her words... I now knew there was a bridge coming up.  That was something.  At least I could pretend to not be surprised when I hit it now.  Things were looking up.

I couldn't look up.  Up was all things staring into a flash light. Down made my head spin with my missing feet on the path of nothingness. So I did the only thing I knew how to do... Laugh and run.

When I hit the road again, the ground turned slippery and danger changed dynamics a bit.  Now there was no creek but oncoming traffic to worry about.  People hustled around on the road and the sidewalk I could barely make out.  They had lives to live.  They had errands to run.  They had their somethings today.  Their stories filled my heart as I travelled down the road.  Each step reminding me .... today is not to be wasted.

After all today is always someones something....

Today is my day 323... Current total kms 1755

Go make your today awesome!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chard, Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew

Tonights dinner!

2 tbps of sunflower oil
1 large onion chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
400g of sweet potatoes, cut into medium chunks
1/2 tsp of crushed chili flakes
400g  can chopped tomatoes
140 g salted, roasted peanuts (I used almonds)
250g of chard, leaves and stems and washed and roughly chopped
750ml of water

1. heat a large saucepan with lid over a med heat and add oil.  Add the onion and fry until light golden.  Stir in the cumin seeds until fragrant, about a 1min.  Add the sweet potato, chili flakes, tomatoes and water.  Stir cover and bring to a boil then uncover and simmer for 15 mins.

2. Whiz the peanuts in a food processor until ground but not butter.  (yeah I put the almonds in a zip bag and let my four year old beat the crude out of them). Add to stew and stir and taste for salt.

3. add in the chard and treturn to a boil for another 8 mins... or about the time the kids start yelling "When's dinner????" Serve hot and with pepper (hey I didn't write this... taste it ... spicy...)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NEVER say never

Not in the quiet when you think no one's listening, not in the shower when you think the water drowns out your doubt, not uttered into your coffee hoping the sleepy slurp will mask the fear....

NEVER say never... because you don't really know when your soul will take you seriously.

Day 310 we took to the road in Hamilton Ontario and ran 42.2km past fields, through streets, too close to the water treatment plant, down the mountain on the highway and along a trail that made me want to run all day.  As it turned out, all day took 4:59:03.... This my sweet surrender of self, this my beautiful culmination of blood, sweat and tears, this my tantric fantasy mixed into sharp shooting pains of doubt and fear... this my Boston Qualifying marathon time... This my next tattoo.

Never say never... someone may believe you.

Guide switch four days pre race... ask Rick how it feels to know not only are you guiding a marathon you haven't trained for, but also that there is a Boston hope lingering on the curb .... like the can you kick along the way home... Last minute daycare (Thank you MOM!!!!)... Last minute chaos... last minute cold and cough.  Last minute near giving up.  Last minute putting myself out there and realizing...  I had to run this day anyway... It may as well be a marathon right?

Never say never... Someone is learning from you.

The wall I had hoped to find, certainly found me.  At 36k in.. two steps past the farthest distance I ran in training.  But that came after my fastest half 2hrs 24mins ... The wall came after I sang outloud with no voice on the top of that mountain.  It smacked me in the face post waving and shouting at passing cars... making a fool of myself... loving every second, every millisecond...  Then something happened...

Never say never... if you hold on to doubt it fills too much of your heart to let hope in.

We started to go down hill.  I have never EVER felt that kind of pain in my life.  I would rather birth ten babies than run downhill for 5k.  I would rather be repeatedly run over by a truck than do that again.  So much pain.  We plugged through.  I can't remember about 10k in the middle... Perhaps my guide will comment and fill in the hole here.  I know at one point I ran solidly for a while with my eyes shut... in search of my happy place.  That mystical thing I haven't been grasping much lately.  But alas... much of that time between 25 and 35 is missing. 

Never say never... You are someone's something.

35k in was our last walk break.  We had stopped every 5k for fuel... at one water station I think I ran away (and into oncoming traffic) from Rick.  Oops... sorry... girls gotta do right?  Pain added a few extra short walks.  But 35k was the last one. We were suppose to have another at 40k... Something magical happens after the wall comes.  Something so otherworldly that no one can grasp the attention it takes to move into knowing anything else at that moment.

Never say never... Inspiration is born from the smallest flame.

36km... my wall... I didn't stop for.  I felt it. Like a wave washing me clean of any emotion.  There was nothing left in me there.  even my pain was gone.  I was immersed in this thing.  Lost to its wonders and despair.  I was standing alone at the edge of my universe.  Oddly not seeking help.  Oddly not looking at the view.  Just running along the edge of sanity as if there was no fine lines left.  As if the heavens sang out this next wrinkle we give you along your chin embodies this fight.  As if the stars were out and the sun was in a tango with the moon.  What did you do when you meet your wall?  I knew there was no stopping.  I knew it was now or never.  And DAM it... NEVER say never to me...

Never say never... you may be counting on you....

What did I do? I cried, with abandon... as if nothing mattered... I remember saying "this is that place... that place where I haven't been... this is that place I was looking for" And all my tears melted tracks through the salt, through the effort, through the pain.. through the fear.  It stopped my heart to realise....

Greatness is not a thing you can ever hold on to.  It is not a noun you can own.  It is a thing you can chase... it is a moving, breathing, living current... It is a verb.  And baby... I wanna be a verb for the rest of my life.

Never say never... Someone might be writing a dictionary.

We did not stop at 40k.  I asked if we still had a chance.  My answer was "if we hurry".  FUCK me... Hurry? now? 40k in?  Hurry? Have you felt my pain? Oh hell lets hurry then... I have a Boston guide waiting... (CHEERS TO YOU BLUE!!!)... There's a fritter somewhere in this day.  So hurry we did...

4:59:03 chip... 4:59:59 gun... Boston cut off time? Sight impaired... 5:00:00.

Never say never.... The feet believe what the heart tells them.

Thank you all for helping to see me through this crazy day in running :)

Day 313 of running current total 1696.74km

Sunday, October 30, 2011

run on sentences....

The thing about running is there are so many many things... there is more than shoes and hope and faith and effort... there is an endless supply of run on sentences in your head on the trail...
There is a need that comes in the middle of the night before a race.  It takes you by surprise when you were quite comfortable in your thinking before slumber.  The you that went to bed was excited, nervous, anxious, ready... The you that wakes you up in the middle of a quiet blissful dream is more on edge, determined, focused, impatient and resolute. 

Your challenge in life becomes about bridging that gap between the you that was and the you that seems oh so present and about ready to birth itself in this new found reality you've created.

You realise, you ARE a runner, good, bad or slow, fast... doesn't matter... The you that lays in bed staring up at the ceiling so mesmerized by the cobwebs and your hopeful cleansing... that you is a runner.  Whether injured or trained, whether starting or finishing... a runner.

The most insane moment of my training, this crazy ass training that seemed so important at the time... was about ten seconds ago... when I discovered the part of my upcoming marathon I was looking forward to the most is the part where it all falls apart.  That moment when my feet give up and my heart has to take over... Or further, when my heart says screw you you babbling idiot... and my stubbornness gets to win the day... I cannot wait to meet my wall, greet my wall and embrace it, breathe it in... Swim in it  a while and feel its calm caress against my will power.  As if to say ... "are you sure?"

Just between you and me and all things in chaos... .... ....

I have never been so sure...

I am a runner... I was not born this way.  I was not made this way. 

I ran this way.

Day 304 of 365 days of running... current total 1625.24km

Full marathon seven days away :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In The Silence What Do You Hear?

So last night, day 293, I was lucky to participate in a poetry reading downtown Peterborough at The Spill. Thank you WORD UP for having me there and hearing my silly poem.

The following is the poem was what I shared. It needs some explanation however. A few days before the event my dear friend John posted on the groups Facebook page this question; In the silence what do you hear? It inspired me to write the following. When I read it last night I asked John to take part by reading the question at intervals during the poem.... thank you John for helping create this sharing :)

In the silence what do you hear?

What do I hear? I hear a chorus of mayhem, of chaos, of thoughts rebounding off the metaphorical walls someone else put up. I hear a musical being orchestrated off the cuff in your head without the fear of judgement or the need to appease. I hear the song you sang in the shower still ringing in your head... I hear my breathing. I hear my heartbeat. I hear my life living.

I hear your question again....

In the silence what do you hear?

What do I hear? I hear angels dancing on the wind. I hear the worms burrowing further underground. I hear the trees letting go of their leaf attachments, preparing for their empty nests. I hear the compost gathering warmth before the coming frost. I hear the moon claiming time and the sun relinquishing the same. I hear the stars aligning for all to share. I hear your wish unsaid in your soul, longing to felt.... I hear my breathing. I hear my heartbeat. I hear my life living.

I hear your question again, as if some part still unanswered....

In the silence what do you hear?

What do I hear? I hear the road calling my feet. I hear the trail tempting my presence. I hear the breeze wishing to move my hair. I hear the chamomile wanting a last embrace. I hear the mud turning as if to twist in my treads. I hear that bridge 13.33km away sending me the image I could see if I'd just run towards its hope. I hear faith pushing all my buttons, flirting with my stubbornness.... I hear my breathing. I hear my heartbeat. I hear my life living.

One last time I hear your question....

In the silence, what do you hear?

What do I hear? What do I hear? Perhaps the question should be; what do I allow myself to hear? But alas... What do I hear?

In a word? I hear my answer, resonating through the earth, off my soul, around your fear, across the galaxy and back... like a cosmic pinball game... I hear my answer... In the silence, what do I hear? In a word, what do I hear?


Friday, October 14, 2011

... as if I could

The day you learn to trust yourself is usually the day that fate or destiny or karma or God or 'insert descriptive here' decides to throw something new in your face that cannot be ignored.  This day when you wake up and have such a mental realization as to start your life anew in all things you were missing... this day is the day your adaptation to change just begins.  It's the day that pushes your every button, the moment when you genuinely believed for a few paralysing moments you had things figured out.  The coffee tastes too perfectly perked, the breeze blows just right across your face so as not to cause frizzy hair, the embrace you'd been longing for is suddenly offered, and all the heavens appear to inhale at once allowing for your heartbeat to fill the air in solitude. 

Then something changes... Or perhaps... you change.

The creamer for the coffee is sour, making you ponder whether or not you should cut back.  The child who was completely at peace in one moment is now dissolved in tears over a unsolvable issue ... like a broken graham cracker.  The hairspray bottle is empty and your goal of impressing someone today drifts into allowing them to see you all too clearly... when all you wished for was one moment of time when your best foot landed first.  That relative calls with strange altering news.  The babysitter cancels making your breath increase.  And all the heavens seem to laugh as if to watch your coping tactics in that moment when your heartbeat overfills your chest and life is, you realise, in flux again.

A run is like this.... especially if you are in the training for some big goal and everything is going well.  You start to trust yourself.  You start to let things be as they are.  You are so focused on focus you don't see the injury coming.  How did that happen?  How did that cosmic crash end up in your front yard like a pile of elephant dung you managed to not only tread in, but completely cover yourself in?

And how do you breathe in that moment when all your body is feeling disappointment and lack of hope?

Every day in those weeks between feeling great and wanting to conquer the world and the realization that things will have to change, that you are in fact not invincible... every day feels like forever.  Every day feels like a loss.  It sparks such mourning in my soul as to prompt a ritual ceremony from the dark ages.  Bring on the drums, lite the fire, send the smoke signals in the air, dance the mystical dance of healing and pray, chant, focus.  Let the doves fly free, let the horizon clear with the dawn fog, dissipating in the distance like a curtain lifting.  And all of life in balance. Please... heal.

Support comes in waves from friends, family and others.  All of which I am grateful for.  All of which I am thankful for.  In the palm of one hand are those that believe my goal for this year is manageable, is worth completion.  It is problematic to ask for help when you know 9 out of 10 people will tell you "this is your fault, stop running". 

Stop running? as if I could.  as if I had a choice.... there is so much of me scattered out among the fall leaves that I need to collect.... there is so much of me I am still piecing back together... there is so much of me needing this cleanse, this healing, this last 77 days, three races, four cakes and one soul changing journey. 

Stop running?  the mirror cracks so close to repair... the shoe laces far too close to untangled... the delicate frowns nearing undone... the strength I seek in myself so figuratively unearthed... Have you felt the ground underfoot ? It calls to me like a child in the night, like a soul mate in the quiet dream, like heaven in tall grass and bare feet.

Running... allows me to center, gives me focus, grants me peace... helps to ground me to this balance and patience I seem to search for, seem to yearn for. 

Such a long two weeks of recovery.  And still so much time ahead of slower pace, of listening to my capabilities every day, every minute, every step.  All you can do is..... Be here now. This my day 288 I ran, as I did yesterday, as - God willing- I will tomorrow.

Peace to you in running, May your every step bring a fresh ability to adapt to whatever change you are dealing with in life.

Day 288 current total of 365 days of running - 1549.98km

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sweet Silence

All things stand still in the quiet, in the hush, in those moments of harsh truth when words too much to hear were heard. 
All but the clocks ticking in a thunderous rhythm upon the wall, counting down, relentlessly pushing forward.
That flag I carry in longing, in wait, forever searching for the infamous perfect place to strike it into the ground, as if to claim space... it rests still on my shoulder.
As if to claim space that was never mine to have.

Figuratively speaking, I feel my feet on the ground.  I certainly felt them yesterday at 34.5km into  my 36km run when the worst foot cramp I've ever had filled me with intense reality.
Unbeknownst to me, in the quiet, in the focus, in the momentary hunt for glory... someone else's discovery takes the place of my feet on the ground. 
As if to brush that ownership of life deep under the rug, where it falls grain by grain through the floorboards, forever forgotten.
In silence.

Distantly I hear the voices of support, striking a cord I continue to ignore. 
They call to me in a whisper, but that's more likely because I'm not listening, they could be shouting for all I know.
Too long in solitude, too far gone to stubbornness, too quiet in my shoes, standing tall and hypocritical of hope.
I am lost in this world, this current chaos, this cosmic interlude of hurt and anger.

Such reasons to celebrate, such focus as to forget, such time as to be still. 
Such reasons to weep, such loss as to remember, such time as to quicken my pace.
Each day a new pot of coffee, each day a new sunrise, each day a glisten of hope I do not embrace, each day a new day. 

And this day, day 269... taking stock of all I have seen this year; hope, faith, kindness, fear, abandon, goals, smiles, tears, hurt, anger, pain.... taking stock of all I have run through; chicken pox, board exams, races, sleepless nights, flooded basements, near bear experiences, a change of pace, the end of a marriage, the beginning of change.... taking stock of all I foresee; yet more hope, yet more faith, countless prayers, yet more fear, the overcoming of that fear, more goals to accomplish, and still much hurt to travel through. 

Mostly... I see 96 more runs.  Runs in the rain, in the sun, on the road, on the track, the hill, the trail.  Runs close to home, runs to the finish line, runs with new friends, with old friends, guided, solo.  Runs for focus, for guidance, for peace.  Runs for abandon, for joy, for the seeking of all goodness and calm.  Runs in the dark when no one is looking.  Runs when I least expect them.  Runs planned.  Runs in my new pink shoes.  Runs along the path of this life, so carelessly lived .... up til now.

Day 269 of 365 days of running current total - 1468.28km

begs the question, how many steps does a lifetime take?

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Running Poem...

.... as read Wednesday night at The Spill WORD UP poerty reading

Before the run...

In the quiet hushed moments of slumber before stupid o'clock rings on the alarm... I feel myself start to stir.

As if my soul knows it is about to tangle itself around the dirt in my shoes.
As if my third eye foresees the hill I've set out to run 5, 6, 7 + times soon.
As if acceptance isn't far behind and all of my being is saying.... “yes please”...

In the dark gentle miiliseconds of lost sleep after the shock of stupid o'clock.... I give myself hope.

It seeps into my bones like a caffeine drip, pushing my every go button.
It creeps through my veins like an inoculation against all things negative.
It crawls across my skin like the taste of forever on your lips.

In the anticipatory pause filled with steaming tea sipped by indiglo microwave numbers... I lose all fear.

It drips away from my neediness like honey on a spoon, slow and steady, making my hands sticky as it passes consciousness.
It oozes past my peripheral senses like neglected boogies on my sons cheek, reminding me of all I've forgotten.
It lingers briefly just past my reach as if tempting me one last time to re-embrace it with welcoming arms.

In the climatic seconds searching for my shoe in blackness, tripping over black kittens on the black rug.... I let myself laugh.

The giggle ripples through my nose faster than I can stiffle it down, threathening to rouse the sleeping house.
The giggle rushes to the surface of my happy, otherwise so carefully collected, or at least collecting dust.
The giggle bubbles out of the tears I'd let fall if I'd just remembered to pack a tissue or two for this morning's journey.

In the peaking heartbeat drama as I open the door greeting stupid o'clock with my run... I allow myself peace.

Peace of mind that I made this happen, this piece of me, running free in the dark... intangable and incoherent in headlamp and spandex.
Peace of freedom in that drop of sweat that just fell, christening the earth that blesses me with both space and time, so sweet as to give me wings.
Peace of heaven that fell from the sky, perhaps restarting the beat of these blind girl runner feet.

And in every moment before the run...another reason for the next footfall.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lessons I learned on day 261

Dawn? no ... twilight? perhaps... Dark and quiet. Ponderous and still.  Laying in the dark staring at the ceiling awaiting my alarm.  Stupid o'clock calls again. I feel it in my bones, like an unrelenting itching that needs to be scratched.  Patience, breathing, waiting, ... not my talent.  This day, my day ... can't wait to devour it.  No apologies there.  This run, my run.... my second chance at this distance. Last week 29km 3:22:19.  I have nothing to prove, and yet.... every day I have surprised myself.  Every day I have proved myself wrong. So why not?

Not to be out done by time, my captor so complete, I turn off the pending alarm before it can ring.  There is tea to drink, steaming in the dark, offering its warmth against the fear of night.  There is oatmeal to eat, caressing all the emptiness inside craving attention.  There is.... Oh hell I just had to pee ok?  So up... I'm up.. And getting ready... 5degrees celsius... my coldest run.  Long sleeves.  Winter running gear is not sexy.  Oh well, I'm only impressing the lamp posts and mailboxes at this hour anyway. 

A text, my guide is sick.  That is problematic.  On two levels, as she is a dear dear friend and I want to pause the world and go take care of her, and ... uh... 29km is a tad scary.  Tea to drink, fear isn't welcome here.  I'm stubborn but not stupid and take the suggestion to wait an hour.  So as not to fight off bears on the trail in the dark. After all, with no guide to feed them I'm screwed... All current 112lbs of me... This training takes more time to eat for than run for I swear.  Just cover me in apple sauce and call me bear bait....

I try to sleep again.  Dam patience.  Not sleeping.  Not moving.  I decide to run the run in my head.  Round that corner, through those poles I know mark the trail, but I can't see, stop wait listen to cross that road... No fear allowed.  Dam patience. 

Alarm goes off.  I must have drifted off.  Just past stupid o'clock now.  And I'm gone.  Hoping for 10km as my knee is not happy all the sudden.  Packed for 29km though.  Stubborn.  Too used to making things happen for myself.  Too used to pushing the limit. 

Garmin free today as I will be getting used to that.  Unless it starts raining garmins.  But I know my route, know my markers, know my pot holes too.

Out into the world, sexy headlamp on and going.  New shoes too, which I'm told are pink.  This new me... Colourful. Who knew?

I think if 10km why not 13km?  That works with my original route.  Then I can decide.  I get to the point of making decisions.  I can't say no.  I'm not dead, I'm not dying.  I'm running.  This me... always running.  Onwards and forwards. 

It occurs to me I wanted this.  It occurs to me I'm going to have to say no to myself some day.  That day will be the worst day of my life I think. Stubborn.  Aggressive.  It's not today.  Keep going.

Headlamp off. Transition.  Right here in these few moments before sun.... this is when I can see.  Truly see.  God's gift to me in these 20mins.  I'm so thankful to be out in them.  I see the rabbit cross the path, not just movement up ahead.  I see the dew on the trees, the mist on the stream, not just feel them in the air.  I think... oh crap... I think... I'd see the bear too.... Run girl run..

Ok first road... it's crazy early not much of a wait.  By the end of this run I will have spent 9:14min waiting to cross roads.  What a waste of time. Get out of your cars, embrace the breath in the air.  You know not what you are missing.  It's vibrant out here.  It's karmic out here... Oh hell, at least let me cross.....?

The leaves on the ground remind me that time waits for no one.  Again stuck in that.  I love the idea of being here in this moment... Somewhere someday there is a high backed low chair waiting for me on the end of a dock.  Somewhere someday there is stillness and contentment.  Somewhere someday there is just me... and perhaps the mosquitoes.  My uninvited guests.

There is still no one to share this trail, 16km in and not a soul.  This sunrise masks itself in my selfish embrace.  This bridge, forever laying in wait, seems present just for me... Specifically just to let go.  There is no one here to watch me cry or hear my tedious sobs.  This space, seems just.... in the right place.

Turning around is the hardest part of my long runs. Parts of me I don't understand scream no! KEEP GOING! Crevasses I haven't visited in my soul beg for continuance.  Yet I can't seem to cross this bridge. It's the place I'm stuck, forged against the sky as much as in my better judgement.  Last deep breath and a long sigh.  Even if there is nothing else.... There is always me.  That seems to bring comfort. Back home I head.

Pink shoes, serving me well.  Jumped all the horse dung along the trail on the journey out. The memory of a blind girl, so distracted by life in its current state isn't as good as it should be... was that big pile at 18km or 22km?  Left or right?  Thankfully running into the wind.  And my shoes are still just pink.  There was some fancy foot work though.  Why is there always crap along the path of a magical quest?

I reach this place, this place where I feel a push from behind.  I can't pick up speed at 26km in a 29km run?  Who does that? I'm not a fast runner, I'm not a strong runner.  I'm a currently unguided solo blind runner on a trail that in the last 3km has become quite busy.  Undeniable push.  Unrequested shove.  Unrelenting urge ...just to see (not see but find out)... could I go faster?

At 27km I pass a guy running with his dog.  The dog has a stick in his mouth.  Easily 5 - 6 feet long.  The guy doesn't care.  The dog.... happy to bring a piece of happiness along for the ride.  Tells me no journey is worth taking alone.  Bring happiness with you everywhere, with disdain for judgement on that.  Smiles weigh nothing.  Pack them.

At 28km I pass over a line drawn in the dirt.  I look again... I says FINISH just below it.  This makes me laugh out loud.  I've run someone else's trail.  I've run someone else's mile.  You may be done gentle soul... But there is still another km to go for me. With every fiber of my being.... I AM NOT FINISHED YET.....

Lived to run another day.  Lived to live another day.  Lived to smile another day... in this my skin. 

Today's run 29km solo trail run 3:14:46 ... Surprised myself again.

Day 261 of 365 days of running current total 1405.38km...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A day in the life....

Day 250... My first day home with the kids since school started.  Their second day back.  My littlest monsters meet the teacher day... my day.. a short story.

3:28am - monkey 3 gets up and goes tot he bathroom.  Typical.  Convince him to go back to bed with promises of his classroom and cake.  After all it is day 250.

4:15am - alarm sounds.  Stupid o'clock.  Tea in the dark? no stamina... water and half a banana.  Loaded my running bag with 2 sand bags.. 5 extra pounds.  wish to goodness it would hold more, but then the water would have to be removed.  Balance, all things in balance.

4:55am - exit the house (later to learn the door awakened monkey 3 who then persisted that it was morning.  Typical) Got my super sexy headlamp on and headed in the abyss of potential violence and construction.  To be honest I'm realy only afraid of garbage day. Blind girls nemesis... unforeseen obsticals.

5:01am.  I see a bobbing light ahead... Must be a twin headlamp. Guide is still not well.  I hear here long before I see her.  Hills will be interesting for her.  And we are off to find an conquer 7 mountain ridges.  Ok in truth the darkness expands the city hills.  We made it through.  I still love that part when you realize you have forgotten you're carrying extra weight.  Freeing and character building.  Helps me focus.

5:45am - return home find monkey 3 up and wondering in the dark.  Convince him to hit the hey for 15 much needed minutes. Lights on now and the Avery house is up.  And cue chaos...

6:00am ... coffee?  Lunch making, bag prep.  Me sitting still.  Rare.

6:30am monkeys 1 and 2 hit the floor... more like are sleepily shuffling towards the bathroom... which they then realize they are both headed to and take flight to a sprint.  Battles ensue and time stands still.

7:15am - monkey 1 makes some off hand comment that her desk is beside 'the boy'.. my heart skips a beat.  I ask Is this the year of the boys? she blushes.  My heart nearly stops.  I laugh.  Part of this journey.  I may not be ready.  That doesn't seem to matter.

8:10am - monkeys 1 and 2 head off to school, monkey 3 is combing his hair for his teacher meeting.  He's been doing this for an hour. It's still sticking up. Typical.

9:00am - we are at the school and monkey 3 can hardly contain his excitement through national anthems and prayers. I can see the pitter patter in his eyes.  It's screaming set me free.  Let me be.  I wanna.

9:05am - sitting in the classroom.  I feel like a giant.  Miniature objects ... Plays with the blind girls mind.  Depth perception be gone.

9:15am - my turn to talk.  Yes my child is wonderful.  yes he is smart.  NO he can't sit still.  Yes he will drive you crazy but you will smile every second.  That's his job.  That's his passion.  Laughter.  It's what his name means, youthful laughter. And then news of bad news to come.  Yes we are in transition.  Yes this will be difficult. No this is not the way I wanted things to go.  Yes we will work together.  I'm feeling like I'm starting to shrink.

9:45am - walmart. Monkey 3 needs a waterbottle.  ends up getting a cars thermos and sandwich containers.  Monkey three. walking like a big boy.  Seeing over the counter. Breaking my heart.  Making me smile. Testing me every second. 

10:00am - ymca.  Monkey 3 into a craft drop in.  Time for a swim.  Blind girl can't see the clock in the water.  I hate not knowing when I need to be done.  Swim faster swim faster... choke choke sputter.  1500m done 42 mins. This day was suppose to have a bike in it too. Oh well.

11;)2am - pick up excited monkey 3 who is so proud of crafts and telling the story of them a mile a minute.  I keep thinking who needs tv when you have this wonderful bee in your ear?

12:00pm - nap refusal.  Typical.  News of my mother coming down with cake.  After all it is day 250.

2:30pm - mother drops in with muffins.  celebrations ensue.  Talk of things to come.  Comfort there?  Not sure.  Can't change the snow ball once it starts. Just watching it roll.  Praying every turn.

3:55pm - monkey 1 and 2 reappear.  Bags and hats and paper I can't read.  News and yard tales. OH the noise noise noise... I smile.  I laugh..  I think is there any other way?  I've lost my floor.  Snacks, muffins of course after all it is day 250!

4:30pm - dinner is cooking.  Realising as it does I forgot to eat lunch.  This isn't good.  Sunday is 29km ... I add more pasta to the pot.  Take care of me to take care of them. Little steps.  Balance focus.  Smile.

4:55pm - that moment when you have the last chance to save dinner from overflowing or burning or whatever.  Running times times with monkey 2.  Trying to stump him.  Impossible.  Nothing will stop this child. He will save the world.  I'm given homework from monkey 1 (for me to do)... in a million words or less describe your child.  Ok I can do that. Dinner.. Balance.  Monkey 3 wanting ... wanting.... me? let it boil over.  Smile laugh live.

5:04pm - sad dinner on table. happy kids in the chairs. Monkey 3 protesting.  Typical.  Monkey 1 bought out a health pamphlet on changes in puberty.  Should I throw this out? it's from last year.  I looked at her and said... are you done changing? Where is your desk again?  she blushes... MOM!!!!... oh no... boobs, boys, and pads oh my!... she flees the room in giggles.  I notice she keeps the flyer.  Smile again.  She knows we can talk.  Hope she holds that thought through the I hate mom phase I know is coming. I feel it like the blister I'm going to get sunday.  Sunday... long run... eat more.

6:00pm - table cleared, kids reading... time to ... what? sit and enjoy the air.  Laugh at the monkey 2's jokes of the day. listen to stories of other kids not washing their hands post bathroom trips at school.  say silent prays mine do.  Hand out vitamin c just in case.  Laugh some more. This is life.  Laugh some more

7:00pm - monkey 3's lack of nap has caught up.  The entire neighbourhood knows it.  Breathing and helping.  distracting and moving through the last moments before bedtime routine.  Song comes on the radio ... monkey 2 says how can jesus put you on hold? monkey 1 replies sometimes you have to wait for your prayers to be answered.  My heart ... my heart... the things they know.  The things I need to learn.  The things I'm so afraid of. 

7:19pm - monkey 3 finds a spot on the floor and starts to snooze.  I've turned my head..  two minutes too long.  tickle fights ensue typical... smile chaos... would be find but he has gas from too much raw veggies  and is farting from the laughing... we are dying... we are all laughing.. I am crying.. They don't know. girl.  One day at a time.  One lesson at a time. 

My heart stands still waiting for whats to come.  Waiting and hoping I know what I'm doing.

7:45pm - monkey kisses... monkey 1 reluctantly gives kisses but we follow tradition and make ewwww gross faces after.. He's not a kisser.. I tell him wait for it.  It will come.  Some day you'll find that person. That one that makes your world stop spinning.  Then things will change.  Smile... time stands still for no one.  Not even a hopeful thankful blind mother of three....

good night my babies, good night my monkeys... sleep sleep I will miss this you tomorrow... sleep sleep grow and learn.  Sleep sleep you are my heros....sleep sleep I love you.

day 250... a day in the life of... this life

Monday, September 5, 2011

Clarity and prayers...My sprint tri

Miltons Womens Only Tri

Day 247 of 365 days of running;

12:49 am checked clock... nope not yet time....
1:53 am checked clock.... damn time.....
2:36 am checked clock..... tell the butterflies to stop dancing in my tummy...
3:45 am alarm rings.... holy mother of god.... must have been asleep?

A Sprint triathlon... I'm insane. My bike has no gears. That hill is 6km long.

Boil the kettle. Drink the tea. '750meters 30mins... transition one 5 min....'
Drink the dam tea.

4:30 am staring out the window in the quiet, in the dark waiting for my guide.... '20km bike ...1.5 hrs... those hills'.

4:35 am in the van with guide Shannon and Doris (tandem) ... 'Transition two 3 mins....'

6:25 am at the parking.... unloading Doris... careful careful watch the bell.  '5km run... 40mins....'

7:00 am registration desk... smiling talking happy. Setting up transition.

'My life is transition' Notice the swim course is clockwise.  Crap. Double crap I don't breathe on the right.  'My life is transition'

8:15 am watch the first supersprint go.... brave souls 400m to go, you will love this like ice cream on a hot day.

8:23 am smelly bathrooms to pee... prerace jitters

8:29 am beginnings of wetsuit tactics... '750m swim 40mins... transition one 5mins...'

8:33 am wet suit up to my calfs... Why do they make these so hard? '20km bike 6km hill... no gears... no fucking gears...' did I just swear out loud? perhaps no one was listening.... Smiling

8:44 am wet suit up to my waist... waiting for 9am 'Is it a wee bit chilly out here? Don't mind me covering up....'

8:47am wet suit on. walking to the water. Can I wear my goggles now? It's so bright out here.... Saying good bye to my bike.  She and I have to share encouragement. After all we are in this together. My new life, my new beginning.  My new me.

9:02am (all these times are in my head like I stand still and count the seconds until they will set me free) In the water. Wet. Waiting. Rocks underfoot. '750m swim 30 mins.' OUCH... stupid rocks. Moving back, purple caps, pink caps... Golden caps...

9:11am There is a barn on the opposite shore.  Shannon says the buoy is siting on that line.  I can just catch the glimmer of it's roof against the trees. Truth is, I don't care. I just wanna swim and set free this fight that is hanging in the balance.  We swim...

and swim

and swim

The water is cloudy. Warm and caring. Just me and the bubbles. Bubbles I can't see but feel as I pass them on to the next stroke and the next. I don't have to hear anything.  Shannon and I can swim.  We can flow with the waves like maple syrup on pancakes.... like butter melting on toast... like ... what?  Oh you want me to turn right? ok... start again. This swim I could do all day.  I am eerily happy here in this water.  No thought beyond that.  This could be easier than running. Did I say that?

That must be the shore up there in the distance. It's not the barn. It's not the shore either... it's moving... oh ... kayak ...

There is the shore. And those rocks.

Running running... 'transition one 5 mins....'

My glasses... So happy to see them. Wet suit down... water on the ground.  I shed it like a skin of lingering pain.  Gone from me.  Owning my new life.  Owning this time.  Owning this race. '20km bike 1.5hrs'. Helmet on. running. running... they love watching this. I hear it in the crowd. I get to live it.  So lucky to be me.  So lucky to believe that finally.

Pedal pedal huge speed bump.  My poor poor tush. My body says we will remember this.  Good I think. It's mine to remember.

Turn and pedal more.  This is the start of the hill.  Up and up and up and up ... stand up and push.. stand up and cry a bit.. stand up and want to give in.. Stand the heck up and take that moment because you can't take it away from a willing fighter.  Up and up and up... '20km bike 1.5hrs'... smiling.. turn around... coasting down.  We can't even pedal.  Doris is free in this moment.  No pressure, no fear.  Glory and wind. Hope in my heart.  Flying fearlessly. Smiling... I yell to Shannon "I've got a new plan"... what she asks... " let's not crash and die!" must be 49km/hr.   We laugh and go with it.  She says did I find the vultures overhead disheartening? Vultures I ask?  Is that a metaphor?  Truth.  GO doris go... 'transition two 3 mins'

Dismount.  Coordinate and focus. There are two people jumping off.  Running.. setting doris down.  Running... for real now.  '5km 40min'...

The ground is warm.  The air is heavy with effort and inner growth.  Up the hill around the corner.  One lap... and turn around.  The air gets lighter... we are nearly there... Up the last hill... they aren't going to give you this race for free.  Push legs, you've trained for this.  Up Up ... and run.  The finish Shannon points.  Just my luck.. It's green.  Therefore invisible.  I don't care.  Run run... let everything go on the wind.  Run run.. believe in myself. Strong enough for this.  Strong enough for me.

Happily crossed the line.  Hugs abound.  All clocks stop.  Hearts stand still in wonder.  All things accomplished.  Glorious day.

Finish time 1:54:19....  tethered swim 750m 25:37, tandem bike 20 km 59:32, tethered run 5km 32:11

Hell yes... hell yes....

Thank you Shannon.  Thank you Doris. 

Thank you everyone for support and encouragement and focus.  Thank you for belief in this blind girl..

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On The Brink

Gathering courage in the quiet.  Speaking the words to myself.  Establishing a game plan.  Detailing my finish.  Mounting that hill.  Sweeping fear away.  Lost in the details of tomorrow.  Lingering in the thought of this goal so intensely set in the supports of my soul.  Every corner another moment to steal me away.  Every minute a reason to hold my breath in anticipation of this beautiful beginning. Dancing to crappy music just because it has a beat and my spirit can't be denied anymore.  Turning the music up too loud and singing loudly off key without remorse for my spectators.  The taper dance? the new life dance? .... Today's dance... This race... My race... Tomorrow's race... and my only serious plan: smile forever, live forever..... and carefully count butterflies on the breeze along the way.

Day 245 (yesterday) of 365 days of running current total - 1300.59km
today a running rest day.... 1km to get it done....
tomorrow Miltons Women's Only Sprint Triathlon... In a thunderstorm :)   

Saturday, August 27, 2011

When you are ready...

I have to tell the tale of day 238 and how this all came to be... I have to spin the web of glorious everyday nothingness and see if I can pinpoint when it happened.  I've been a runner for officially three years this week. I've never in my life been in this place.  Right here, where I sit.. I feel ready, very nearly comfortable in my own skin and in the flow of some very sweet karma. Being comfortable in my own skin is the biggest accomplishment to date.  I share a delicate love hate relationship with food and all things self imposing.  However I've been winning this fight for a while.  Lately... I haven't even noticed it around.  I figure that counts beyond words, beyond all memories made and moments you'd like to forget forever.  I feel ready for what's coming.  Sprint tri (my first) a week from tomorrow.  And here I am... prepared in body and mind.  Here I stand being brave in the balance of an upcoming taper.  Here I stand tall when no one was looking.  Here I stand tall for me.  Here I stand.... ready.

750m open water tethered swim, 20km tandem fixed gear bike on hills we've never climbed, 5km tethered run.... I've only run tethered for 700m. 

I feel like throwing my hands up in the air and singing outloud highly off key... embracing this chaos of my life and riding the waves with nothing but my wetsuit on.  I feel like this time for me.  This time for me.

Day 238 was the day.  The magic started a few days before while running hills with extra weight trying to confuse myself into believing me capable.  That moment when you forget you are carrying anything.... That moment when you reach the top and know you did this... one step at a time.  I knew the flood gates were open.  Day 238 was my longest run. 26km guided trail run.  I haven't run that far in over 7 months.  Didn't know what to think but entered that run with an open heart and a spirit to find out what was possible. 

My guide and I moved through those kms like they were candy; each more sweet than the last.  Above is our turn around point.  We saw the sunrise on that trail and I saw hope right there in front of me.  Every possible barrier to my success in life stepped aside to grant me a glimpse of hope.  Hope is beautiful, hope is wholesome, hope is calmness and energy tangled together, hope is better than any words I could write to its credit.

Post run, no queasiness, no fear, no lingering soreness... In fact we went to the YMCA in town and attended our favourite class... "Simply strength" Every time I go to this class I feel like I've found a bit more of me lost in the droplets of sweat.  Our instructor knows I am a runner, however I did not inform him before just how far I'd gone.  Whether he could see my fatigue during class or not I'm not sure.  Just my luck we were working legs during this class.  After class I did tell him and managed to snap a picture of this wonderful trainer.... Wesley ... Cheers to you!

Everyone should have someone who kicks their butt once in a while....

After the class and the run... I have to say I just knew.  This is it.  I will be able to run a full marathon in Novemeber.  Sometimes the hope is in the knowing.  Sometimes hope is in the believing anyways... sometimes the hope is in your blood and you can't deny it.  You can't deny it or your future.

So here we are day 239 and I've biked 20km, swam 1500m, run a superfast (for me) treadmill km... and have no pain to report.  No doubts and no pains.  Chaffing and blisters aside my only complaint is that the world need to spin a little slower for me to enjoy ... for me to savour every last second ... of these 365 days.

day 239 of 365 days of running current total 1274.28km

Monday, August 22, 2011

This me

This me, woke up this morning and decided that today would be all I made it out to be.  This me, danced in the rain on the 7th km of a 23km run yesterday.  This me made tea today and sat down and had a nearly life changing conversation with myself about the power that potential holds.  This me, crumbled in the corner... will not give up. This me, can make that fixed geared bike go up that mountain tomorrow.  This me, will swim fearlessly in that water hiding my future so brightly on the sunrise.  This me, stuck in the memory of failure, will not give in.  This me, will move with the beat of my own drum, will sing out loud when people are listening, will not look back (kinda pointless anyway right?).   This me, will be in your face until you show me the right direction, or at least get the heck out of the way!  This me, in these unattractive stained running shoes, will not care what you think. This me, is terrified. This me, will run those miles, will make a memory worth keeping.  This me, .... There was a point..... This me... This me... Is racing again in 13 days.  And needed to vent.

This me, will make this a race you wish you'd seen.  This me, will make this me proud.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Claiming ownership of titles.... I am a runner.

Footsteps in the sand, bring me to face hope disadvantaged in its disguise as fear....
Footsteps in the dirt, spin time and focus disregard into the treeline quite near...
Shuffling feet on that trail so well travelled.....
     Disturbed mudpuddles keep me distantly unravelled....
Hear my feet, here my feet, lose them in timeless moments of being me here and now.

Drops of sweat on my sleeve, rendering effort spent countlessly caring not....
Drops of sweat on my cheeks, eloquently masking for all that I've fought....
Undone laces on that trail so often spanned....
     Ever altered landscape casting disillusion on the preplanned...
Hear my feet, here my feet, find them in endless moments of quiet chaos on the road.

I am a runner. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cobourg Try a Tri 2011 - A blind girls tale....

Memoirs of triathlon virginity lost...

Restlessness.  It fills the morning fog with chaos and excitement.  Tension building in the coffee pot quietly perking in the dark.  A quiver on my lips before you notice.  A momentary relentless need to scream as the alarm finally signals the allowance of sunrise.  Creeping in through the curtain like a soft toxin taking over.

Breathe in.  For goodness sake.... breathe out.

Accomplishments in the small things.  Five people in the car by 6am.  Breakfast turning in my tummy  Bags packed and unpacked a dozen times.  All things forgotten.  Remember your courage.

The course, the registration table, the parking, the kids transferred to friends, the transition set up... all a blur.  A winding twirling maddening blur of movement and noise.  Sunglasses begging to cover and protect my eyes... I was trying to transition with the sunrise.  Trying not to panic at the moment of big bright lights when they came off.  It was working.  It was maddening.  Every second brighter.  Every second busier.  Every second loss of vision. 

Breathe in.... And out. Almost there.

Met the course director.  A very nice guy, well seasoned in the rough water and cold weather.  Wet suits mandatory.  Good.  I didn't bring it to look funny.  At least this way I'll fit in.

PA greetings and instructions.  Comments on the bike.  Notification that we are on the course.  Oh good... if I lose my guide someone's likely to point me to the finish line now.

Down to the water, forgot the tether. I'll stand here looking silly.  You run guide run.... My husband.  Bless him... My fear all bottled up in a knot knowing he is here.  I am not alone.  Except, I realise, I am alone... currently on a crowded beach... with noise and no glasses.  And no guide. 

Breathe in ... And out.... I hear my kids. No one else makes that much noise. 

Get wet they say... they chant it like seagulls in a disney movie.  I'm listening... get wet.  SWEET  JESUS water should not be that cold.  I'm not a penguin.  My feet have disappeared.  But we are late and ushered back to shore before it can seep past my senses and into the realm of reality.  I must be dreaming.  That water is impossible.  God's idea of a joke.  I see him sitting there looking down thinking... You crazy fool... Do you not have limits?

We are in the second wave.  Yellow caps everywhere.  There's a guy in a yellow wet suit.  All quite humorous to me.... yellow is invisible.  It's a nothingness. As if in a void... we all have no heads.  but there is no skyline there either... just.... nothingness.  now is not the time for giggling... The air gun is not working...

Breathe .... in and out... your future is calling out in that nothingness.

I imagine myself swimming without a head.  And we are running.  Brave and free... strong and tall.  And all completely headless. Then it hits me.

My hands are numb.  My feet are gone.. ice everywhere.  Sharp stinging needles from my calves up.  This is not swimming... This is not racing, I am not moving.  I am frozen in space and time.  My hearing fades.  The waves and the wind and the calm that spins me away. 

Swirling and sweeping in and out of focus.  I see the sun like a brilliant beam of brightness spilling into the water.  My only landmark.  I hear my guide saying reassuring things.  How can you talk I think.  I can't think. My hand brushes a swimmer in all the wrong places.... I take a minute and breathe... into the wave.  cough cough sputter... My guide is on the other side.  Not my husband that I just brushed so delicately in the water.  Apologies unspoken.  Keep swimming headless penguin. You will live to be grabbed another day.

Breathe girl breathe.... in and out.  Fear doesn't live when you are surviving. 

Faster strokes.  End up under my guide.  Oops.... On track.  Standing up now... running now... I hear my kids.  No one makes that much noise.  Run, zipper, run... I've never been so happy to see my glasses again.  Vision rushes back like a gracious gift from the heavens as if to say, you have passed - bike if you can.

"Doris" Leans there beautiful in wait.  My streamers flashing in the sun.  All the fog gone now.  I'm so happy to see her.  Wet suit off. My shorts dripping.  We are running.  People are smiling at our Doris.  She is sweet.  She is innocent. She is about to be set free.  She is about to prove her worth.  She is squeaking like the dirty old hag she is.  That is her promise.  She is not perfect.  That's okay - neither am I.

Breathing without help now. Blood and feeling in my hands and feet.  Slowly but it's coming.

We are on the bike pedalling.  Good old Doris, makes a handful of passes, up the hills, down the hills.  10km of bliss on her.  I can't help it. I'm singing out loud.  I never sing out loud.  Here I am, a glimpse of a hope of a future I didn't intend.  Crying and smiling and singing. All with the most important man I know.

Two people shout "that's cheating" I answer didn't you see me standing up?  I think if this is cheating It's cheating death.  It's cheating misery.  It's cheating sedentarianism.  This, my friend, is all things possible in the breath of a blind girl blessed to be alive. 

Back into transition... I hear my kids... No one is that loud.

And we are running.  Good-bye beautiful Doris, leaning there on the fence.  She stands tall, proud and tired. She will not likely race again.

Feet don't fail me now.  Come on it's only day 226.  2.5km is nothing.  Lets go.  Guide sets a 6min/km pace.  My sprint.  We slow.  We run. I'm still smiling.

Friends on the side of the road.  Waving shouting also smiling.  So at peace in this part.  Running.  This is me.  The me I have come to know.  It's not fancy, It's not fast, glamorous or perfect.  It's just me.  Feet kissing the earth singing every step... Accept this me.  Love this me.  I am this me.

I hear my kids, almost there.... no one is that loud.

Faster than the fading of the memory of the cold water the race is done.  It's over. I am standing still again.  already counting days until the next time.  Thanking Doris, my husband, my family, my friends. 

Sinking into my impatience..... This race pushed me when all I wished  was to be pushed.  Yes I will tri again.  I wonder if there is more of me in those waters?  Where do you find the little pieces of yourself? I found many that night in the grains of sand in my bed.  The beach saying thanks for coming. 

The race people gave us some hardware.  That's exciting.  Another little piece of me.  Created into memory.

Day 227 or 365 days of running - current total 1186.76km

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The end of the beginning

There's a moment when you know you can't stop, you know that somehow you've built up so much energy that inertia alone will carry you through the next terrifying moments of chaos. 

When you are standing there, staring tentatively downhill at the obstacle before you knowing that the skiis are strapped on, the parachute is ready, the lights about to turn green and pink slips are on the line.... when you are quivering in your core at the thought of the next five seconds.....

Inevitably that's when you'll worry if you've tied your shoes.

Gates are open! Tapers done!  Everyone says things like "we knew you could"  "we never doubted" and you imagine having for an instant that kind of commitment to belief.....

And if you knew, Why the heck did God keep it from me?

Four sleeps until race day.  Four sleeps until waking up and not crying in front of the kids in fear of leaving my glasses on the beach.  Four sleeps, three runs and ten million cups of tea.  But you believed and that means something.  I never did.  I was just trying to prove you wrong. 

Four sleeps, one squeaky bike, a near hole in my wetsuit and the tremble in my tummy that shifts my hunger out of reality.  Four sleeps and ten millions thoughts of what could go wrong.  Four sleeps, three runs and one more strength class .... Taper does not live here.  But you believed and that counts against it all.  I never did.  I hoped, I thought maybe... I think now wouldn't it be nice....

Memories of sweat, thoughts of the space between running up half the hill and making all the way up over weeks of time.  Growth and strength lost to me.  It's hard to watch the baby grow in your arms.  It's hard to drink from the cup of life with a hole in your straw.

.... time to let go and trust.  Time enough for this.  Time enough for me. 

But none of it possible without you believing and supporting - thank you all for that.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Triathlon Training Tantrums

Four weeks to race day.  My first ever tri... Four weeks until I lose the glasses that protect me from so much and give up and give in and give everything  - plus a drop of sweat.  Four weeks left to jump in the water and push myself.  Four weeks of promises kept.  Four weeks of courage and strength and sleepless nights worrying about disappointing onlookers.  Four weeks of deceivingly slow calm sips of coffee when you're looking and frantic gasping when you've turned away. 

Four weeks to stand up straight and practice the picture pose.  The one you'll see and I won't.  Four weeks of .... waiting, trying, hoping.  Four weeks of training.

Today I swam 1km in the pool beside a boy half my age with perfect form.  His breast stroke was twice the speed of my crawl.  His waves were synchronized in such an intimidating fashion.  The force of his stroke and speed pushed me against the ropes.  It took my breath away and rammed pool water in the tiny intricate spaces of my lungs where only air should be permitted.  I hated it.  I cursed his approach every lap. 

Then the pool cleared out and he moved over to the next lane.  I nearly asked him to come back.  Return the chaos to my swim.  I'm soon to be lost in it.  I'm soon to be stuck in it.  Forcing me to breathe tactlessly, gracelessly and with a hunger that only a labouring woman would know.

I closed my eyes. I swam faster.  I pushed and hoped the clock would stop.  The funny thing is I wasn't racing for a personal best, I wasn't trying to find my limits.  I just knew that my daycare in the gym was about to end.  Hurry hurry... I'm nearly done kids.

It did come out my personal best.  I managed to only throw in 4 laps of breast stroke in 40 of crawl.  27mins. I'll take it.  I'll thank my kids.  Do what you can with what you have.  I had 28mins.... It all worked out.

It came after a bike, a run and a workout.  There was another young man spinning beside me at the gym.  He asked me (during his endless uphill ride in which he never sat down) if I cycle a lot. I do not.  I'm a runner I said.

Who am I to say what I am?  I haven't lived my life yet.  I am anything.  I am everything.  I am transitioning.  Hmm... fitting for tri training.

15km spin today... 25:06min.  I wanted to stay on that bike until he had to sit down.  Until he gave into the need that his legs created and crumbled.  Not to see him fall, but to watch him get back up and try again.  Motivation comes from odd places.  I had 26mins set aside for cycling.  It all worked out.  I'll be there kids.

The treadmill makes me dizzy.  When the only thing that you base your foot strike on it the passing wind, or the sound of others footsteps and then nothing is actually moving... It's problematic.  I climbed the speed in the familiar ladder I was used to.  Only the treadmill was on the other side of the gym, and the sun was glaring on the panel.  Thinking I was at 6.8 I managed to hold 7.0 for a full min. 

Who am I to say who I am?  I haven't lived my life yet.

Run was 3km 15:26mins.  I had 15mins set aside for the run.. I figured.... the spin was faster and I hadn't fallen on my face walking to the treadmill so why not?  I'm on my way kids....

The mat and I share more sweat than I'd care to admit.  The odd time I can catch the glisten of the bead as it reflects off my glasses on its way down.  It speaks to me, it says... I am leaving but you are beginning.  And I wonder... Is this what you see?

Time holds meaning beyond meaning for me.  It's the one thing I do not have any of in my life and the one thing that seems constantly stolen from me.  They say no one can take what you do not willingly give. 

In the mean'time' my bistro set sits unattended, lonely and sullen.  It says stop waiting for someone to make you tea and take your hand and walk you here... come and sit and be still....

This is my tantrum.  This is my training vice.  Time and space..... And a quiet cup of tea.

day 197 of 365 days of running current total 1014.23km

Monday, July 11, 2011

tangled laces...

There are days I close my eyes just to stop myself from trying to see.  That might not make sense, but sometimes letting go is the hardest thing to do.  Do you remember when you were little and riding on the handlebars of your friends two speed bike down that big town hill towards all things dangerous and forbidden.... closing your eyes and just letting go?  Or grabbing that swing rope and taking that last big inhale before swinging out over the water? 

Running for me is like that.  ... Most days.

The days it's not are the days I know something is off.  Then I know it's time to refocus and find myself.  I'm sure I'm here, somewhere lost in sweaty clothes and tangled shoe laces.  So what does a runner do when they need to refocus?

Why they run of course.

They find that long stretch of road, and go when no one is looking or in my case when everyone is sleeping.  They feel the rhythm of their feet pushing the ground away.  They count the blessings of each golden drop of sweat as it drips down their face.  They listen to their bodies sighing with sweet relief for just running - not for a race, not for a dream, not for a someday.... For now.  For here, in this moment... for the greatness that comes from untangling your shoe laces and reigniting the fire under your soul.

Somedays I close my eyes when I'm running, I trust the ground that has always been there, will indeed rise up and greet my feet as old friends.  It's in those moments, when I'm not holding on to anything - that I have everything I every wanted and more.  

365 days of running current total day 192 ... 984.1km

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In the distance....

In the distance, far ahead there stirs a silence so consuming that no butterflies dare attempt flight through it.
It sits like a fog overhanging trees, caressing mossy rocks, blanketing the rays of sun that fight to push through.
It stands there occupying space and time as if to declare.... tread no further until you've thought this through.
Pooh bears thinking spot would be more welcoming than this calm imposing quiet.
But there is no honey pot here.

In the distance ever reaching, parades the hope you haven't yet managed to duct tape so securely to your belt.
It dances like the grass skirt you'd never be brave enough to wear.
Sweet forced stillness evermore intense, evermore dense takes over all thinking
And you are left, swimming guideless across this ocean....

In the distance vastly present, seen without the prescription quite required for a typical clarity moment, a future reaches out and waits.
In the haze of your creation, all things become translucent and transcend.
When the leaves fall they'll take with them this chaos of unknown direction and shine the light on the path beneath.
Temporarily displaced, untethered and alone in land of in between, waiting.

In the distance, see me sitting, peacefully plotting... images of grandeur and all things blissfully possible.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Taking stock

Updates to start -

 Ottawa half marathon done and finished with a 5min PR.... 2;25;13.... All made possible by my wonderful guide who never gave up on me. Very excited about that.  However much it makes you realise that life will only get easier if you allow laziness to enter your dreams and stifle the fire in your soul.  I say put up a safety perimeter and let those motivational flames burn so friggin' bright that you scare the neighbours.  I say (not so quietly from behind my keyboard and softly clicking mouse)....  NEVER say die... Hope breeds like rabbits... set it free.

 First ever Zoot Open Water Swim race done.... 1km of wetsuit swimming tethered to my dear darling (and oh so brave) husband, 34:40min... I'm sure he's dreading my next big idea. Ok so the time kinda sucks but you know what???? I did it.  I took off my glasses (the only thing that allows me the 8% vision I have) and gave up my hearing (thus nullifying all direction and bearing) and swam.  I swam with trust and hope and the all out notion that gosh darn it.... there has to be a shore somewhere.  I swam realising that the impossible is only so because I allowed someone else to place it on such a high unattainable shelf. 

All of which makes me wonder - under who's dictatorship do I live and why did this become so?

Graduation and award ceremonies done.  Dress donned and hidden well under the gown of the day.  Three years of no sleep and determination, three years of life changing horrific home life challenges, three years of not feeling the ground under foot for more than a few tainted moments, three years of secretly crying in the dark hoping to be enough..... three years to put on a polyester gown that smelled like last years occupant and all their hopes and dreams. .... Three years to feed my family on rice and beans and all things student loans granted and denied.... Three years to have them tell me I could not have a guide to help me walk across the stage.  To which I say.... Watch me... I believe enough in my self to not fall off.  Watch me...

And now... eight days left until my board exams.  Eight days until I can finish this culmination of greatness that amounts to .....? Now there's a question.  Real life, oh how I've hidden from you.  Real life with all your hopes and dreams, all your fears and misconstrued directions.... Get me lost... I'm so much better that way.

 Friday I had the time to run solo on country roads.  Directions given from a loving friend by phone, notes left for dear husband, shoes on and water bottle in hand.... Proving once again the only thing you need to run - is the will to run.  Freedom with each step. Salt on my lips. Slow sweet time ticking by garmin free. Watch your feet, no one else here to help.  Teaching me to be responsible.  Teaching me to turn the talk inward and stand tall.  Chin up and see the next hill without fear.  Works for me as I never see the hills coming.  Not until they are underfoot. 

Take the path, follow your heart, show yourself you can.  If you have to stop to walk in between, whether it be for a crossing turtle or a speeding pick up truck or simply to stop and see how far you've come.... then walk.  All forward motion counts. (Even if you have no clue where you're headed)

Peace to you in all things running and beyond.

 365 days of running current total as of the end of day 162 - 842.46km

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two weeks worth of coffee left to drink

I'm thinking perhaps I've lived my life in countdowns for far too long. And yet, here I sit again, counting down to race day, counting down to board exams, counting down to the beginnings of triathlon training, counting down to the next cup of coffee.  ... As if the stirring will move my dreams into focus and reshape reality into the stepping stones needed underfoot.

It's a chilly rainy day here in the Patch.  Perfect as always for a solo long run.  The heavens have cleared the path, created the way within the chaos for me to run. This, my 135 day of this "runstreak" .... will be.  No adjective there - it just will be. I'm not predrawing those descriptive lines, I'm not constricting it's possibilities.  Let it be.  By the grace of God and all that is good and peaceful, let it be.....

There is a calmness to this chaos.  There is a methodical manner in coping with the movements through the minefield.  It creates a stubbornness all too familiar to my senses.  It manifests itself in the moments of potential that take your breath away.  It whispers softly..... all is possible.... reach for it. 

Of course I reach in the darkness, from hope and into the mist in front.  I may not actually see any of it there  .... But believing is the most important step.  After all, this ain't no line dance... step out and break it down!

365 days of running current total = 682.28km Today's 20 will get me over 700km.... kinda cool :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Four Weeks From Now....

Transitions carry us from one point to another.  Transitions boggle our minds with frustrating moments of stages and inches of progress.  Training is transition.  Four weeks until race day.  Ottawa Half Marathon has my bib #  in it... Three weeks of long runs left.  Three weeks of speed work.  Three weeks of tempos.  Three weeks of figuring out what I'm made of.  Three weeks of healthy eating and stretching.  Three weeks of singing loudly off key and dancing around the living room when no one's home.

Transitions.  I'm in my cocoon.  You can't see it, but my wings are growing.  My colours are going to blow your mind.  Just wait until you see my wing span. 

Transitions.  What if I can't fly?

In the moments of quiet (few and far between in a house of five).... But in the moments of quiet, just after the birds start their praise, before the thundering feet of 3 year olds.... In those moments my heart steals my attention.  It says this, with every lub...

...... "You don't even realise..... you're life is lived in transitions"

And it seals it with each dub.....

Then the world takes over and you're caught in the swing. 

Time to get my run on.  Solo 18k waiting for me.  It's a nice dark day.  It's a great day to be alive and feel free. 

365 days of running total 587km....

Peace to you in running and all transitions.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A solo lesson learned...

Stubbornness is so problematic...  And it eats away at you.  It masks fear and rearranges logic.  It's the voice in you're head that denies reality just for that pertinent moment of decision making.  It stops you from looking both ways before crossing the street because you didn't hear anything coming.  It sends you on that last lap around the track when you know dam well you're done and now risking injury.  It's the motivator for greatness 2% of the time.  It's your date with destiny the other 98%. 

Stubbornness and I have a grand long winded history.  We've seen each other through the most dire moments of weakness and pain.  We've carried the torch together through road blocks and past failure.  I owe a great deal to it.  I have friends that call me a 'high-maintenance' blind girl, because I can't stand to pass up on things.  But yesterday stubbornness and I switched roles.  Usually (pardon the language) she's my bitch, yesterday - she put me back in my place.  She reminded me just how mortal (and dumbassed) I am.

My 7km trail run, solo guilt inspired because I passed on hills in the rain; turned quickly into a 5km trail run.  The above tree greeted me ever so gracefully with a not so gentle tap on the head.  It reminded me of the kick in the pants that karma gives you when you know you deserve it. Ego bruised, I retreated home.  Now fully embracing my new founded reality of life, liberty and the need of guide runners. More importantly the need to ask for help and not be so stubborn all the time.

Stubbornness can carry you only so far, love takes you the last dash. Stubbornness can breed isolation.  Nearly 33 years into this life and I'm still learning the value of community and shared spirit.  Peace to you in your running.  Share it with someone you love and bring a smile to their lives too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thoughts on a Monday

A race, cold wind and the splatter of snow on my cheeks.  There is no exit from the greatness you wish to accomplish within yourself the moment they say start. All systems go, whether you've managed a pre-race pee or remembered the straightening of your sock.... It's time. Will the road under foot.  Will the space of your heart to hold the hope of your goal.  The nearness of breathing leaving your lungs too soon.  Push push pushing... Feel the whining in your subconsciousness. Left on the side of the road like dog droppings to decompose in its own inner battle of judgement. 

I am here.... I am here.

Heart in my ears, guides encouragement on my periphery.  Focus on something but brightness everywhere.  The goal ahead but every second an internal battle not to close your eyes and give in to failure. It's there, so close you can taste it.  No one counting on me but me.  Yet here I am.  Fighting my way up this hill that feels like death on a mountain.  Tempting me to stop, find another ambition in life.  Search for some other passion to pour my soul into.

I am here.... I am here.

No ipod in my ears, just the sound of feet, cars, and sweat crackling off my forehead.  Focus and breathe.  Hurry hurry they are waiting. Those I must hug, those that brought me here.  Those that saw me through when I could not see myself.  So often I can't see myself.  Through shrouds of doubt, misgivings and in vain attempts to push beyond and above... There is no shadow to remove on the race course, Just you and your truth.  It all comes to bare.  You lay it all out like stained imperfect laundry for the neighbours to see. Opening yourself up for judgement and fear.

I am here... I am here....

Just before we started, a woman seemed surprised that my goal was 2:45:00.  Hers? 1:55:00... I'm not here seeking that kind of miracle.  I'm here for the taste of salt on my lips.  I'm here for the burning in my calfs.  I'm here to find something to be proud of.

After we'd finished a comment from a friend; surprised I'd done so well considering I hadn't run much lately.  Apparently my last 107 days meant nothing.  Sweat laid down, matched drop by drop with tears.... Means something to me.  I've created myself with every step and every hopeless encounter with myself.  I've etched myself in my destiny...

Day 108 529km total... ottawa half marathon on may 29th... there again to stand firm on my ground and say....

I am here... I am here...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Taperless taper?

In the space between words I wait for you
Like a 7 year old for birthday cake
In the pause between baited breath I wait for you
Like the moment after jumping and before diving
In the crevice of mental clarity self denied I wait for you
Like the realization that your little white lie is no longer yours to keep
I wait for you....

Clothes laundered and set out neatly... in the bunched up pile at the foot of my bed
Shoes laced and orthotics inserted... or I'm sure they're around here somewheres
Water bottle filled.... minus several nervous sips and a few spills
Gu's bagged and ready... oh wait I still need to get those....

Willing the clock, stopping the dance that causes me to think and second guess my sanity
Through mud, rain and on yonder un-run roads.... I come for thee....
And sure I may pray the guide doesn't plan practical jokes of leaving me,

To race, to run... to see what will become... to step across that land of what I know to be true and to ......
To above all create a place in my future for me ...

Alarm set - that I'm sure of... For tomorrow is race day!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Melted snow and dragonfire...

Snow melted and I hear the call of the worms...
Moon dancing and I feel the urge to move...  It calls me at 4am when I'm stirring for my books, ignoring my feet.  So close, reach to touch it... distraction takes me away.
Lost in a sea of responsibility - tasks to accomplish, greatness to attain...
Prays spoken in the dark, thoughts of future, fear of past and embracing the present....

Here I am - forever staring down the loss I nearly ran from.  Strength gained from the depths of could be despair.  Turn and fight. Life is a struggle, embrace the struggle.  Find a fight worth fighting. Fight for yourself. Struggle for your today.  Make it great.  Make it worth living  - because if you don't, who will?

Soon the books will be shelved.  Briefly the sleep will come.  Time will bring back my 5am runs.  Alone in the dark, with nothing but me and my proposed self struggling to see who will be victorious in the end. 

Soon the seasons will bring me the waters my arms wish to swim, the pedals which I will freely push downhill, uphill and around the corner... like a kid just free of training wheels.  Soon the trails will dry and I'll have a free day to press my imprint in the dirt. Soon there will be time enough to wave to the cows, wish for outhouses and long for water....

Time to breathe some dragonfire.....

365 days of running current total = 376km