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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ultrarunning vs pregnancy

I was recently asked if I felt ultra running was comparable to pregnancy... This is what I came up with...

Ultrarunning vs pregnancy;

(in my NOT so humble opinion)

1. Pregnancy makes you bloated. As does ultrarunning.

2. Pregnancy gives you a reason to justify grumpy. As does ultrarunning.

3. Pregnancy makes you think sex is unsexy. Ultrarunning, after about 50k, does the same.

4. Pregnancy forces an entire wardrobe change. Ultrarunning demands it's own attire too.

5. Pregnancy has an end but you can never feel that until you're actually there and then you have to go through hell to get there. Likewise to ultrarunning.

6. Pregnancy is contagious. It looks great from the outside and everyone is doing it. (literally) ... Likewise to ultrarunning.

7. At the end of pregnancy you get a cranky pooing puking demanding baby. Ditto ultrarunning ...


I rest my case.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

An idle ironmans wife....

Time stands still, only every second counts. How can counting occur if time froze in its tracks? One two buckle my shoe.... And I sit here in wait. Like a Neanderthal for the next lightening strike to cook my supper. Like a classic bronte character for the spring thaw.

Oh sure, there's technology to help me keep track. Or maybe track my brain cell loss? Or trace my decomposing patience with every refresh click. Three four shut the door. And I sit here in wait. I can't run you in. I can't tie your shoe, check you pulse, feed you... No all I can do is curse you. In such a loving way from so far away. This idle ironmans wife ... Sits in wait, like a spider who walked in fresh paint.

Real life is unforgiving. People want food, attention, things ... Time and love from me. And that's complicated as I am as scattered as stardust on a kentucky wind. I'm neither here, nor there. Five six pick up sticks. And I sit in wait. Or don't sit, as the case may be. I shuffle, I move, I act all engaged. But this thing you chose to do, to accomplish, is disengaging my core. Even if I pushed you to test yourself. To try to be the better you. To try to hope you escaped your youth unscathed and unscattered and committed. Leaving me so scattered wondering if there are pieces to pick up.

You don't come from privilege. You haven't the best toys and gadgets and gizmos. You have drive and love and the will to keep going past the point where we all would stop, us idle ironmens wives. We'd stop and say that's enough for today. And make tea and fold laundry in quiet contempt of the clock that steals away our dusk. Seven eight Lay them straight. And I sit in wait. So uncomfortable and in such longing to know... Are you ok?

And you on that road, shuffling your feet... To a beat with the giggle of the goonies in your head. To the smell of that tim hortons coffee in your dreams. To the swagger of your 4yo sons singing to somebody that I used to know. And me here, so far away, an idle ironmans wife... Nothing but time and space. Nine ten lets do it again. And I sit in wait. Humming along to the thought of you persevering, to the hope of you hoping, to the need of you moving forward. One foot then the other... So far away from here.

Soon your race will be done and you will rest and recover and drive the long 12 hrs to see me, us, again. Soon you'll realize you've accomplished you've won this deep inner battle with the demons you didn't know. Soon you'll be here sitting beside me, holding my hand saying thank you for the support and kindness and love... And this idle ironmans wife, with every ounce of love and respect, will smack you upside the head and shout "why couldn't you just be an ultra runner???!?!?!"

Until then from this idle ironmans wife.... A million X's and O's...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Through your eyes

I see hope .. Through your eyes.
I see strength ... Through your eyes.
I see my race ... Through your eyes.
I see my faults ... Through your eyes.
I see courage ... Through your eyes.

Closing my eyes ... This blind girl sees more than your bated breath.

I feel my belief tangled in the steam from my morning coffee.
I feel my specific disregard for rules in the pony tail I feed through my running visor.
I feel my 'self' coming apart under foot as if the earth has turned to dust.
I feel my excitement raging in every fasicial cell, slow twitch every ready to release.
I feel my path through every hushed prayer cried into my silent pillow.
I feel .... Gathering resolution...

I feel grateful to run.
I feel thankful to have dedicated guides by my side.
I feel... Which is foreign of late in itself.

Somewhere in this 24hr race I will lose myself, glimpse myself, release myself, hold myself and find an all too extinct smile I'm sure I buried deep under 100k or so...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Inner strength

Any runner could attest taper is hard, both mentally and physically. Any runner could also tell you having to pull out of a hopeful race is another hurt altogether.

So it's true, I'm not invincible. However that's only because I haven't perfected my invincibly booster juice yet. I'm working on it. I've found the end of my run streak... How sad that is. It wasn't the day of bad family news, or the day of overdue bills, or the day after my marathon and not even the day I had a drink before bed then realized... Oh crap I haven't run yet. It was exactly where it needed to be, on the day I asked my body to run and the response was no.... Not today dear.

Strep throat plus fifths disease both took advantage of my weakness and moved into my ear. With one hours warning, a full rupture of the right ear drum stopped my break neck chaos in its shoes. Literally.

But I am blessed. 498 days I got to run. 498 days I chose to see past excuses and through unmotivated moments. 498 days I had the chance to connect with myself through this small and simple gift I call running. Thunderstorms, freezing rain, black ice and every possible heat wave in between... All taught me the inner strength needed to move on.

And here I am... Not running. The most frustrating place to stand is still. The most difficult task to undertake is not that hopeful marathon you'd someday like to finish. It's here... Not moving. Seemingly not breathing. Not doing much of anything except... Healing and gathering inner strength for your next step.

So many many people both physically close and online distant, helped support, motivate, inspiration, tolerate and guide me through my run streak. Endless thank you's sent out to the universe.

Plans have changed, as plans do. Ironman dreams postponed for a year. And run streaks to resume in the fall. Summer promises new landscapes as our family preps to move cities. Trail running is about to win. Bringing this blind girl closer to nature and closer to balance. August will be my first ultra race... The dirty girls 24hr ultra in mansfield Ontario. And September I'm lucky enough to run a 50k course close to my husband.

In the meantime, to give you an idea... I have 8% vision and before could run solo at the right time of day (darkness) However with only one functioning ear I am stumbling and clumsy ... There is no hope of running solo until at least some hearing returns. It's amazing how much we make use of our senses without actually knowing it.

My challenge for all the brave runners out there... Find a friend, go to a track, take turns running a lap blindfolded and guiding a lap... See how things change when your world takes on a very different shape. And let me know how it goes!

Disabled athletes everywhere would love for your volunteer time as a guide runner, biker, swimmer... Look for Achilles track clubs near you to volunteer.


And as ever.... Peace to you in running :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Giving Grace

.... One Introspective Runner Moment  (or getting through injury/illness while training)

Giving grace the control I long to keep just for myself.  Giving grace the soul that I have claims to but no ultimate authority over.  Giving grace my every hope, my every dream of being better, of better being.  Giving grace the desire I breathe in every time I turn over in my sleep.  Giving grace the need in my feet to move the planets to make the world feel whole. Giving grace my fear that reflects back at me with a devilish daring grin.  Giving grace my suppression, my hold back, my just a little bit of myself for protection.  Giving grace my appreciation, my love, my affection, my lack of it.  Giving grace my fight, my stubborn, my determination, my imperfections, my perfectionism.  Giving grace my anger, as it serves no one, Giving grace time to fix my heart. Giving grace the sight I don't have to direct me in the brightness.  Giving grace my faith.  Giving grace that longing in my every muscle fibre that prays there is some kind of truth found at the end of a 100 mile run.  Giving grace my gratitude for those who tolerate my insanity to continue searching for it.  Giving grace my DNA to mend and find a way to make an entire person out of what culture deems to be incomplete.  Giving grace my hands to help others who cannot help themselves.  Giving grace my everything lost in the quiet.  Giving grace that sunset, that sunrise, that moment in time that stopped and took in just one molecule at a time selfishly just for me not caring about mother earth or the status of laundry.  Giving grace my guilt and reservations.  Giving grace back my angel. Giving grace my inner compass and intention.  Giving grace my balance and my chaos and my unintentional search for them both. Giving grace my sad song sung in the moments of near giving up. Giving grace my perceptions of truth and reality.  Giving grace my here and now, my external boundaries, my every energy.  Giving grace my sense of karma, my sense of score keeping.  Giving grace my hurt and blame. Giving grace my voice... it's not mine anyway.  Giving grace my notion of can do and impossible. Giving grace my goals and standards.  Giving grace sensory disruption and focus. Giving grace more than grace wants all in prep for overcoming obstacles and surviving half ironmans and ultra running.  Giving grace my gravity.... so that I might fly...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Holding Joy

I am lucky.
I am blessed.
I am present.
I am both Moon and Sun.
I am the tide that sweeps away your driftwood.
I am the dandelions you smile to see, then think to pull.
I am the ice cream you ate first and the icing you saved for last.
I am the impulse shirt you bought and love to wear.
I am the saving grace you didn't realise you called the heavens for.
I am the fight and the flight.
I am your motivation.
I am the distance that pulls you forth.
I am the memory you carry still.
I am lost in that moment you whispered hope into your coffee presuming no one heard.
I am present.
I am blessed.
I am .... lucky.
.... I am a random pointless prose on a Monday afternoon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Episode 5.... CHAOS

Long over due... Our episode on chaos did evenutally come together.  However, there is a place or two the volume is really quiet.  We do hope you enjoy a quick look into our chaotic lives.  It's funny how there was so much chaos in the way of the making of this video.

Thank you Terese (director) for all the hard work.

We love to hear from you!  Is there anything you'd like to know about what training is like for a blind althete?  Any comments or questions please email rmavery@primus.ca





Friday, April 13, 2012

mood swings

Every run has a mood... Every hope has a dream.  Every coffee has a sip... Every sock, if worn long enough, gets a twist, as if to say..."Hello up there!!! We didn't agree to 36km!" Every day has a sunrise, even if you can't see it, even if you choose to ignore it, even if you hide your head under your pillow and ignore your alarm.  Every ounce of karma has a direction.

I ran on the trail today.  As I crossed that fence that takes me there, I found a coach standing.  I love coaches.  They are my inspiration.  They are my fuel.  They are my drive to see better in myself.  No I do not have a coach. I think they'd hate me too quickly.  Anyway, there stood this coach in her hoody, clip board in hand... Pen whistle stopwatch and mood.  Standing there...

Here comes the front runners... Highschool cross country? Time trials? Effort oozing...
 Every one of the runners I pass in the next 1km exude a different running mood.  each one I have had myself in the past... Some I like more than others.  Some I embody more than others.  Here is my list of running moods... as seen in the highschool track club.  Do you see yourself? What's your running mood?

The "Beast" - This guy, was in the zone... He was grinding his feet into the path as if to say... dam it move out of my way! Today I'm the only hero in my story... No smile, Just sweat.  No breathing.  Just effort. Just now.  Born from a nike commercial...

The "Tester" - This guy, found behind the other guy.... Was thinking out loud, I wonder if I pushed a bit harder what would happen?  I wonder if I'd gotten my other shoes on this morning if I could move just that much more effectively?  I wonder if shorts were a good idea today?  I wonder if I should pass the beast in front of me? I wonder if he'd be mad?  I wonder If I came back later, alone, if I could do it faster?

The "Grinner" - This guy... was catching bugs in his teeth he was smiling so big.  This guy was thinking about how he'd tell this story of third place to his proud momma at dinner.  This guy loved the way the world seemed to be offering him a fantastic day.  Lets face it, this guy had a fantastic day every day. 

The "Grimace" - This guy hated his coach.  This guy hated the wind up his shorts.  This guy stayed up too late.  Had gas from hot peppers, forgot his deodorant, knew he couldn't stand beside that pretty girl for the rest of the day... this guy was going back to school to drink a coke and fall asleep in math class... This guy pissed me off mostly because he was still running way faster than I ever could.

The "Proof" - This girl had full awareness.  This girl had perfect form.  Her gate was practised.  Her feet made no sound landing.  This girl was going to the olympics on hard work and skill.  This girl paved the gravel path in grace and kindness. 

The "Goof" - This guy was in Pj pants.  Showed up at school with tousled hair and figured he got points for showing up.  This guy was content to be in the sun instead of english class.  This guy embraced each step in a calm quiet excuse to slow down.  This guy was looking forward to telling his momma later how he really could have slept another five minutes that morning.  That "its all good momma!" as he runs back out the door to take out the trash without being asked...

The "Supporters" - These were my favourites... The girl jogging, not running beside the guy who was truly trying his best.  The girl fully acknowledging that her speed didn't matter if she had to go alone.  This girl quite content to be there in that moment, laughing and inspiring this guy who needed her for help and support.  Feeding off each other they would get it done, each with new happy running memories to take away.

The "Survivor" - The last of the pack... The football player that hasn't played in two years.  The guy that came out to the team practice because the coach looked at him like potential not like a has been.  The recently (last 15 minutes) ex-smoker with a dream.  The guy that would walk if he had to, the guy that would likely not say anything to his momma later... But the same guy who might go out on sunday after his chores were done... to see if he could run a little bit on his own. The guy who was gathering strength and following a new path.


Today was my day 468 day of running... I am a moody moody runner... Are you?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Packing

Shall I bring you? Carry you with me to this new home?  At the time you seemed so important to me, so integral to my safe keeping.  At the time... you seemed so groovy, promising me glamour and shine.  At the time you moved me more than I could ever have hoped to accomplish alone.  Shall I carry you with me? Where do you belong now?

Maybe you are tired?  Longing for a break, hoping for a rest... a paused sip of tea.  Maybe you like to collect dust and only to remember the way we were so long ago.... all tangled together in the wee hours of the morning, before the children woke, before the coffee perked, before I thought about my day.  Maybe you wish to stay there, in my thoughts wrapped up in my sheets counting the minutes we could share before the alarm screams.  Shall I leave you to that peace? To that place when I would never have allowed the image of another to whisper on my pillow the way you did.  Maybe the hurt is too great for you...Now that I have moved on....

Shall I knot you to my soul in the present tense and bring you along to see this new life I'm about to live? Or would you feel left out amongst my new identity?  Shall I let you have your own life now? Or do you wish to stay a part of mine even in this downgraded role?  How will you feel watching me dance with another just your size? How will you hurt as I smile in the embrace of anew?  Maybe I'm not cruel enough to let you witness that.  Maybe I should once and for all, free you to see the world on your own.  Maybe I need to give you the space to love and be loved again.

... I am packing.  I am moving.... I am undecided how much I love you still....

And oh how I've loved you....

... My old pair of running shoes.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Out like a lion...

There is nothing to stop the fire that burns in your toes when spring is in the air.  There is no holding back that spirit that drives you to jump out of bed at 4:45am and get your shoes on five minutes early just to see if you can beat the birds wake up call.  That awkward place between winter running wear and summer skin is bridged.  All the crap on your mind dissipates in the quiet mist when seconds don't matter and seem not to add against a tally of your days countdown.

There is just you, the smell of thawing worms, the lingering dream of Boston marathon 2013, and your shoes....

Let it run.  Let you hope spring forth and set the pace.  Let the tingling in your toes bring a smile to your face and a restless sleep before a hill workout.  Let that stupid stupid mistake in your past stand on the curb while you run free... I promise you ... it will wait for you.  Let yourself just be.  You and moons last beams can dance along the path, road, trail as though no one is waking... Just be.

It's nearing the end of March.  I am not afraid of April.  I'm feeling ok with May.  June has me a wee be jittery.  July ... July... I cry myself to sleep worrying about those hills on the bike route of my half ironman.  But it isn't in vain... It's in the tangle of finding who I am.  I am here.  I am learning that is enough...  I am carrying this fierce hope.  It maybe carries me.  I bring it with me on my way to work.  I sing to it while I sip my coffee.  I nurture it in the snuggles with my kids.  Hope... I am here.  Me and the thawing worms.  Dancing in the wakeful dark on each morning run. 

You might laugh if you saw me ... I keep trying to convince myself you need something special to push through chaos and emerge an ironman...

The truth is... You don't... Just be you and start.  Butterflies are just well practised caterpillars.

It is day 447 of my run streak.  I don't go far.  I don't get there fast.  But I go. 

Today... You go... See what you find along the way.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Episode 4; The 1/2 Iron(wo)man, Saga of a blind athlete

What it takes....

We had some technical issues this weekend, but here it is!!!  Episode four :)

Please keep sending your feedback by either commenting or emailing rmavery@primus.ca


Turn your speakers up and enjoy!


Thanks Terese (13) for filming, casting and editing...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Episode 3; The half iron(wo)man - Saga of a Blind Athlete

episode three! Target Practice

Thanks for tuning in again!  We are loving sharing this journey with you all.  Keep sending us your feedback and thoughts to rmavery@primus.ca

Turn up your speakers... Time for a bit of goal talk...

Awesome job Terese (my daughter 13) on directing and casting :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Belief

Hope and faith are wonderful.  They caress my stamina in the hush before I travel from that place of thinking maybe I will get out of bed and go run... to that place when I feel unstoppable on the run running the first 25 meters of my morning... down hill of course.  Start every journey with hope and faith...

Finish every journey with belief.

I went for a swim today.  Put my cane down by the lane, walked my towel over to the hooks.  Placed my glasses carefully on the ledge.  Walked back to the lane I had chosen.  That's your impression watching from the side, or the hot tub, or not watching at all because nothing seemed odd.  What really happened was this - I went swimming today.  Came out of the ladies change room and noticed there was no guard standing close enough to ask which lane was free.  Walked slowly around to the deep end as if with purpose.  Judging movement in the water.  Tested a coughs echo off the wall.  Stepped around the puddle I knew to be always there.  Placed my cane on the ground by the lane I hoped and prayed was in fact empty.  Took three deep breaths to ensure no movement there.  Turned and walked to the hook to hang my towel and place my glasses on the ledge.  Turned again... Recounted the steps and the angle of my turn to get back to my lane without falling in the pool.  Felt the grate under foot and my cane with my left finger tips.  Sat down and put on my cap and goggles.  Someone came and sat beside me. They asked to share a lane.  I went into a big "absolutely... sorry if I bump you ... I don't see very well" speech.  Start every journey with hope and faith.

Movement and chaos in the water brings me to swim faster.  As if my body is craving a rush or my head just wants to get out of the pool again.  Give me a quiet still water and I could swim in silent peace forever. Movement and chaos and I'm counting strokes to the next breath.

Finish every journey with belief.

From the pool to a strength class.  Not my usual instructor.  I get to give my speech again.  To my trainer, to my neighbours, to .... who knows... This trainer doesn't demonstrate the same way.  We are both learning today.  Start every journey with hope and faith and carry stubbornness with you close at hand.

Walking home from the gym my mind is on fire.  It's also asleep.  Singing the same song on repeat.  Usually I have a Tom Petty, Elton John, American Pie internal carrying tune.  Today my walk home was inspired by the dark side of motivation... and "I'm not afraid" ... but maybe I am... and just don't care? Truth is a horrible companion.  She is a needy cranky unaffectionate soul that stops me in my tracks without notice. 

Yes I am afraid.  I hate crossing this road.  I hate not knowing if your turning signal is on.  I hate that look I'm thinking you are giving me as if to wave me on... I want to scream..."I CAN'T SEE YOU" ... but instead I give my speech..."sorry (grin) I don't see very well... didn't mean to get in your way"

Finish every journey with belief...

... It occurs to me that I give an impression as a disabled person.  A heightened illusion that we are calm and sturdy and all things capable.  That we have a sense of fight and determination that seems lacking in ... say a teenager when you are trying to get them out of bed on a Saturday.  This is false and I am endlessly sorry for that.  I struggle in every moment.  I stand up straight only when you are looking.  The problem is I never know when you are looking... I strive to bypass an understated expectation of the disabled person.  However... in so doing... people believe in me. 

Let me be the first to admit that is an intense responsibility.  There are days when the sky is dark enough for all things...and days when I cannot leave my house.  The space in between is carefully frustrating.  Especially as a parent.  Start every journey with faith and hope....

Today I stopped at a Tim Hortons and bought myself a coffee.  That's what it looked like.  But really what happened was... I thought about it for five blocks.  Wondered if I could cross the drive through.  Panicked about whether a driver would wave me on.  Considered my actual need for coffee.  Which was increasing with the stress. Misjudged the distance between me and the puddle I could hear them driving through.  Shoved my chin higher... scrambled to read the amount I owed that no one read outloud.... Started to sweat in my winter coat from stress. Crossed the same drive through.  Stood on the corner and thanked the lord for a red light so I could catch my breath.

Finish every journey with belief.

It's Runstreak day 433 today. I did that, despite and because of.... my disability.

Peace to you in running :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The 1/2 Iron(wo)man; Saga of a Blind Athlete Episode #2

The Right Stuff....

So here it is!!! Week two of training!  Terese's fancy filming and my boys both helping. 

This week we took a minute to pause and see what kind of equipment one might need (as a blind athlete) in order to train for a 1/2 ironman. 

Enjoy!  Again, we are still working on our volume issues (although I'm fairly convinced it's the equipment)

Lets us know what you think! Also we are looking for future contributions so drop us a line!!! rmavery@primus.ca

Peace to you in running :)


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Two Months In..

March

.. and I'm back in grade one. Learning about lions and lambs. Learning about what it means to be "other" in my own skin, in my own class, in my own idea of "other" so kindly given to me.  And Oh how I have lived it... this disabled life.  I park in the special close spots.  Correction, those who drive me get to park in the nice spots.  That surely must be a perk right?

January made me think I was over thinking.  February made me feel.... embraced in an idea.  This notion of alone in a crowd.  Shuffled between the known and the assumed.  And yet I am still living the "other" in this new world of athlete that I have pretended to be a part of. 

Perhaps I don't run fast.  I know I'm not strong.  I know that by all rights I should be able to lift that weight, or run that long.... I am .... unnerved at my belief in these words "able" and "should".  I am ... forever redefining my opinions on gravity.  I am ...

I have no clue.

This is week one of the official half ironman training.  I thought it was a lot before.  I thought my hair couldn't get any frizzier from being frazzled.  I thought I would stop waking up in the kitchen at two am eating bananas and bagels.  I thought I was losing my mind before.

I thought wrong.

My solo half marathon left a traumatic nervousness in it's wake.  I jump at all movements.  Spin around at the slightest noise.  I see shadows in the mirror and say excuse me.  I haven't found peace in a run since.  I wake up in shakes and sweats, afraid to miss the train tracks in my dreams.  I feel my heart rate racing when I am late for things.

And I still wake up eating bananas on the kitchen floor at two am.  There are callouses forming on my hands from gripping metal free weights.  My elbows have rug burn from alternating planks.  My hair is frizzy.  I have hopes that calm comes before the race. I have hopes that life will stop whipping around like a tornado and settle in the dust of collective thought.

I am....

... still deciding what exactly it is that I am.

February's Stats;

Running - 33 runs, 125.87 km covered, Runstreak maintained

Biking - 9 bike rides, 183.7km covered.

swimming - 5 swims, 7.45 km covered.

weights - 8 weight workouts

core - 7 core workouts

toenails - 2 toenails lost

yoga - ok I admit ... zero yoga... I'm working up to it.... I swear.

And to March?

Well, if she's anything like me... she'll come in like a lion and leave in the same manner.  I'm not sure I operate in any other gear.

Peace to you in running :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Solo Racing, Peterborough Half marathon



Time stands still, however illusionary that truly is, for my last breath of comprehension... just before they finish that countdown.  Chaos and crowds and eyes everywhere.  Music too loud, and obstacles everywhere... I keep waiting for that voice to my left to say, heres the mat... step up...

There is none...

There is nothing...

Nothing but chaos and crowds... and eyes everywhere. 

Breathing deep, too deep to stop my feet.  No garmin, no bunnies, no stopping my panic.  No knowing, no trusting and no room for error.  No voice on my left.  No external encouragement.

Nothing but chaos and crowds .... and eyes everywhere.

I'm longing to close mine.  Block out the sun. Cancel the plans.  Return the ship to shore.  Move away from this challenge with my shortest of tails between my legs.  No one to talk you down. No one to spin the distraction away.  The crowd hasn't thinned.  That worries me.  I expected to run alone.  Turtle pace. Happy solo run.  It's not to be.

Nothing but chaos and crowds... and eyes everywhere.

Moving moving forward... for three brief seconds the sun hides behind a tree.  I wonder, as I find the road for the first time in 3km... Is this what solo racing is like for sighted athletes?  Alas no, because even though the sun hid revealing the road... I still only saw it with 8% vision.  I still only captured my location for 3 fleeting seconds. 

I have plugged in now.  ipod on... blocking out the chaos and the crowds.  Nothing can stop those eyes though.  When you put yourself out in the open... expect onlookers.  No one notices you in the shadows, hoping for the world to change.  Not even the world will notice. 

Somewhere around 3km there is a bunny passing... and a friend I knew that was aiming an easy 15-25 mins faster than me.  I cannot contain my laughter.  I am trying to keep up with the wrong crowd it seems.  And not for the last time this race I remind myself ... I'm not running their race.

This inner battle is raging.  Who's race am I running?  Not mine surely?  Creating awareness requires a shift is consciousness that comes from being uncomfortable.  So am I running their race? No... but still.

People on the course are helpful, if not curious.  I asked one kind racer to tap a pylon to let me know how far out I had before on coming traffic would be my doom.  I asked another to read a km marker sign.  Touched the following from there to count.  Some other racer warned the on course traffic cop was letting some cars through and I should stop.  Then asked how blind blind was.... 8% I answered with a smile.  "Does it affect your quality of life?" he enquired.  I quick self reminder... I'm not running their race.  The war raged on in my head.  Or was I?  Awareness my goal... surely I've done that?  "No" I answered.... (in a language that made sense for it's target) "I have a job, three wonderful children" ... He seemed lost in thought... I left him at 6km.  My own hill to climb.

A local member of our Achilles Track club passed me on that hill.  Wished me luck.  I returned.  Awareness.  She knew.  Silent words between us.  She's guided me in a race before.

"WATER?!" I heard them calling.... "water?" I asked... both hands up... "yep here" I was given this small clue.... Judging from that sound... Four feet away.  I waited... No more hints.  "keep talking?" I asked hands still raised... Then there was a cup... Grateful sips... Bright sun.. if I throw this will someone get wet? Another clue.  Thunk... there's a can here.... small steps... Thunk.  Found it.

Plug back in.  Breezed down that hill. Felt fantastic.  Running my race. Wait, now it's my race?  Journey in my ears.... So many eyes on me... I start singing.  Outloud.  Not caring.  Let them think.  Let them wonder.  Let them smile.  Dancing at 7km. This is not awareness for disability.  This is awareness of personal needs.  Dam it... I pull it together a bit more.  You can't represent unseen faces, even if you are one, no matter what you do.  Someone's needs will need fighting for.

My pylons have disappeared.  Replaced by ankle high invisible markers. I'm following the shadow of the hydro wire on the road for guidance.  Go for a drive and watch them.  They bellow and move... up and down on a curve... As did my running.  So bright. Longing to close my eyes. Block out that sun.

8km I hear my name.... I turn the music up... I'm not running their race.  I'm not running my race.  But I am running.  Turn around point I manage to send a text to Rick... to someone? to whomever was last on my list... 11 was what I hoped it said.  I'm still alive is what it meant.  Don't save me is what I meant.  Let me fight this is what I meant.

I can't fight it with the direction change.  I close my eyes.  I comprise by blinking every ten or fifteen seconds.  Open grimace, no barriers next ten feet... close them. Laugh how the hell would I know if there was something 8 feet from me?  And no barriers?  Ha!  This whole thing is my biggest barrier ever.  Ever.  Keep running.  There is a hill coming.  I'm not running my race.  Awareness won't come from me dying.  Keep running.

My feet shift in angle.  Here is my hill.  Only I know, climb the hill, turn the corner climb another.  Ran up the first, walked the second.  "WATER?" I hear that clue... here we go again...  Marco? I'm not running their race...

Down the hill.  Turn the music up.  I send another text.  16 it said I hoped.  I'm alive it meant.  Don't save me I meant.  Let me fight this war it meant. 

17km.. 18km... Turn the corner... dragged my feet over three sets of traintracks times two... Memorized their place in my race.  My race?  no... not my race...19km... and it hits me...

I've done this. And I'm gasping for air.  Crying without reserve.  Like a fool.  Now this is not awareness... Or is it?  And for whom?  Them? me? .... me....

20km theres a truck driving towards me on course.  No crowds.  No marshals.  No help.  Just me and this truck.  Still crying... Still thinking don't die.  Awareness does not come from death.  Not today.  I played the longest game of chicken I've ever dared with that truck.  Crying.  Waiting.  Praying.  no text now... what would it say? 20?

21k... I see that noise ahead.  I know that I'm done.  No crowds. No garmin.  No voice on my left to tell me heres the mat step up... Crying... Giving up... Awareness... Waiting to stop looking.. Longing to close my eyes.  Make it dark.   Make it stop.  Make awareness someone else's job now.

.. Hands found me.. Some I knew, others I didn't.  Some I let hold me... Others I shook.  They said accomplishment.  Crying... Not my race.  But so very much.....

 my race.....

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The 1/2 Iron(wo)man; Saga of a Blind Athlete Episode #1

The following video is what happens when 13 yo creativity meets stubborn blind runner training.  We're hoping to have a 5min video every week.

Terese, my daughter, is going to document my half ironman training for the next 19 weeks.  Race day is July 8 2012, Race location? Peterborough Ontario! Training starts tomorrow, Monday Feb. 27.  Today we celebrated our upcoming adventure by having our entire family out to the Peterborough half marathon.  Terese volunteered the entire afternoon, Xavier(10) ran the 5km race (35mins). Izaack ran most of his 1km race. Rick came in first in his age group in the 5km  race (21:40mins) and I picked my hometown to run my very first and only solo 1/2 marathon race (2;29;33). 

This will always be a kid friendly video clip :) Thanks for the help and contributions all!

The volume control is something we are working on... but considering we know nothing... we did pretty good!  Turn up your speakers and enjoy :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Some days...

Some days you just have to write.  Some days the words need to free themselves and you are nothing more than an instrument of action.  Some days are filled with potential, ringing true with hope and ... whats this? Pride?  Or possibility the potential of pride?  Who knows...   Some days you feel like the run needs to move you, free you from what was your past and move you into the future of the you you long to be... If you know what I mean...

Some days tears need to fall, memories need confronting and the concern of future good byes might silence the now temporarily.  Some days all the butterflies wings freeze in time and all there is, or all there seems to be is the movement of the steam from my coffee.  Some days I love you more than I thought I could.  Some days I realise it's me that needs to claim that love and to be okay with this moment in time.  Because in truth this moment is the only moment.

Some days the swim is the best part, because no one can tell you are crying in the water.  Stroke, stroke stroke breathe... Or gasp and sputter.  Either way it gets the air in.  And with each release of the negative... the hope that even if cancer has imprinted on that distant figure I have called my father for a life time... That I am still here in this moment... moving this arm over my head.  propelling me forward. This moment is all there is.  Movement and change are the only truths. 

For so many reasons I challenge myself everyday.  For so many reasons I give up a little piece of the me that I thought I was and move constantly into that space of unknown... to find out who I can be. 

Weekly (or weakly?) I scream into the abyss "who I am?" .... The only answer I've gotten so far is....
"... In which moment?"

Peace to you in running... Peace to you in general. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 410 poems to share

Ok so it's not really a poem... technically it's no where near a poem... but I had an audience and couldn't help myself.

First some intro thoughts... I'm in this place in training where all I've been doing is training for the training that's coming.  Technically my offical half ironman training does not actually start until Feb 27th.... But here is what I've come up with so far.  Also remember, my tandem bike is a fixed gear back pedal brake bike... which changes training dynamics. 

As read at WORD UP in Peterborough Ontario at The Spill Feb 15 2012


What they don't tell you about ironman training...

Things I've learned in four weeks of training...

People line up to use the YMCA at 5:25am thereby proving I'm not the only insane person alive.

The pool water tastes like other peoples body cream.

Occasionally you'll turn your head to breathe in the water and inhale someone else hair.

Bikini line Razor burn at 5:30am in chlorinated water is a form of mid-evil torture.

Bathing caps are NOT sexy whether they are blue, yellow or purple.

Goggle face lasts four hours at it's worst.

There ain't nothing you can do to hide how cold you feel during the walk from the pool to your towel.

Runs are not the same when you're biking and swimming as well.

Your random leg complaints can't be placed into the blame of just a run. Even if it's day 410. They blend with was that the hills I biked? The lane rope I kicked? The squats and lunges with my 4yo on my back?

Runners and triathletes are very different groups. Runners I think shy away from having to communicate to each other in speedos. Where as triathletes like to compare tan lines.

Changing into long johns and polar fleece from a bath suit seems great until you're hair turns to ice and gives your ears frost bite on the run home from the pool.

Biking is no fun in the winter.

Watching old classic action films while on the bike trainer passes the time but reduces your IQ considerably.

Someone should have taught the blind girl how to shift gears.

No one tells you that the front tire of your bike will be propped up on a milk crate to accustom your tush to the angle of ascent of the hills on your course.

The stubbing of your toes on said milk crate at stupid o'clock will prove more painful than the actual biking with it there.

Bike seats are unforgiving. We're not talking the grade five school yard you stole my soccer ball unforgiving... But the Clint Eastwood coming to shoot your ass kind of unforgiving.

You will remember last Saturdays 90min ride next Tuesday in your calves.

Everyone around you laughs at the way you walk.

Most people think your body will decrease size as you train but in truth you can't seem to fit your new found butt muscles in any of your pants.

They also look funny in all your old lingerie.

The best bike rides end in that moment when your leg refuses to lift over the bike and you start channelling your inner dog to help raise it.

Sex, for the love of god, can wait until after the damn race.... Even if thats eight months away.

You eat, sleep, and poo thoughts of that finish line.

Sometime in the middle of a training run you wonder, if I'm literally tied to a guide for 7+ hours.... What happens if I have to fart?

You spend calculated amounts of money turning your heat up to mimic 30C plus humidity while biking.

A post workout beer never tasted so damn
good.

No matter how intense your workout, how crazy your effort was, nothing hurts quite as much as getting yourself lowered onto the toilet seat.

And nothing is quite as embarrassing as having to call for help to get up.

On your lazy days you use your 4yo as a weight during a workout.

You randomly challenge your 10yo to a plank competition and lose after 7 one minute planks.

You bribe your 13yo to rub your back, feet, shoulders.

The thing you are most thankful for every morning is that your husband makes coffee.

You didn't ever think you could do this... You just wanted to prove someone wrong who thought you couldn't.

Nothing matters if you don't believe in yourself.

Somewhere along the way, you will have to forgive your imperfections and embrace such cosmic chaos as to reverse the spin of the earth.

Somewhere along the way you will need more from yourself than you've ever given, more than you even know is there.

Somewhere in the middle... You'll find a bit of yourself. A little piece of the everything you are worth.

Life doesn't stop for training.

Life doesn't stop while you struggle to place hope.

Life keeps on living and challenges you to live a hundred lifetimes in a day.



Peace to you in running!  And beyond!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

One month in



I feel like doing the hokey pokey... Put your left foot in....

That's how I train when there's no goal... or the goal is too simple, too attainable, or too far away...

January was an oddity in that my training only really started to focus two weeks ago...

So as we flip the calendar page and I get a brief encounter with my months endeavours, I gain the opportunity to see my lazy days, my less than prefect days... and my tried really frigging hard days... I get the chance to know how much better I can be in February.  I can this grand fantastic chance to do something about change.  To try again. 

It seems if only we can have that in our lives, have the chance to try again... and maybe the resources to embrace that opportunity instead of resenting it.... Then we are okay.  Life is truly about this moment and my breath in it.

So a months worth of reflection? Well, first some January stats....

Running totals; 34 runs... 97.74km covered between the road and treadmill.  Run streak maintained.

Swim totals: 3 swims.... 2.55km covered ... all indoors (brrrr)

Bike totals: 7 bikes.... 100.6km covered... between trainer and a spin bike... my poor poor tush...

Weight totals: 9 total workouts... (ok I'm working on it..)

Yoga stats: 0 accomplished... Now I did stretch on several occasions but we all know this is not the same thing!

Books read: 4 total... 

My general opinions of winter running are : it doesn't have to suck... but there are days I just wanna die and crawl up in a fetal position and pretend I'm not an athlete. Dress for less than you think, Don't be afraid to carry a bag (not a water bag but a full backpack) for your stuff... (like a swim suit or work lunch...) and I've kept my ipod off this entire month for fear of road running.

There is this other thought, this nagging impression that perhaps moves me to think, to ponder the possibilities... When I get the gym, I get in the way.  I'm a blind swimmer invading your lane, bumping into the ropes, tripping in the change room, looking just slightly awkward.  There's the odd time I am aware that I'm not the only one thinking that... that the other gym attendants are a little less patient with my time taking movements....  I can understand, I can empathize...

The kicker is that on race day, the same faces will cheer, will say good for you for accomplishing this feat. 

I wonder if they'd rather I train in the quiet, when no one is out, when my actions wouldn't interrupt...  I wonder.

Zen breathing and calm hearts... I am just as ignorant of a sighted life....

February brings all things groundhog furry and unearthing my seemingly hibernating fury to train harder.  February brings me to this... less days, more to do, .... February trusts me to see it through... When trust is given it should never be abused or wasted.  It is such a gift.  And if an entire calendar page believes I can fill it up with life, love and training... who am I to deny effort? who am I to stop trying?

Peace to you in running!

Run streak day 397 here :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Forward Movement - Day eight of training



Every once in a while there is moment of greatness near... You can catch a glimpse of it if you turn your head too quick for karma to shuffle it out of the way.  You can catch a sniff of that aroma hidden deep under the smell of sweet sleep at 4am.  Quietly at midnight when you turn from back to side you might feel that tingle of belief.  Maybe it's not your own.  Maybe you are not quite there yet to that place where you know, where you just can let go and trust that all your hard work will pay off.  But it's someone's belief.  It's someone's belief in you.  It's the most intimidating heart rate raising realization when you drop the barriers long enough to soak in the idea that someone is putting their faith in you.

It's day 8 of training.  Half ironman training for July... First ultramarathon training for Sept... I have no idea what I've gotten myself into.  I have no idea who pushed that glowing indigo start button in the dark.  I have no clues as to what drives an insane hope in the desperately stubborn soul. 

I just know I'm here. 

I wake up and find myself here.  I stir my coffee and feel myself here.  I hold my children and know I'm meant to be here.  I may not be good at any of this running, biking, swimming stuff.... But underneath the chaos there is a hidden driven purpose I have yet to understand. 

Day 8 of training... and my muscles are in shock.  My body is in place that feels like complete revolt.  As if all the powers of heaven are manifesting in my every muscle spindle sending signals of spasm from head to toe.  I pushed so hard, perhaps in efforts to prove someone, maybe me?, wrong... I ache so badly that I woke myself up from slumber in the night crying. 

Every fibre of determination fires on autopilot.... Must do... Will do... Can do...

Belief is a powerful thing.  It moves your sadness to a smile.  It wipes a tear to the side.  It brings a spring to your step when all other reasons have been removed.  Belief always gives a gracious gift along..... Hope.

My tandem is collecting dust in my basement.  I hear my Doris when I'm on my trainer upstairs calling me... Let me out she calls.  Blind runner bib still pinned to her fender, Tassles tangled against the growing pile of boxes leaning against her.  Each knot a tale of triumph, each sparkle a twinkle in my eye.  Soon... soon... soon.

My head is full of the music of my dreams.  Carrying me out to sea... winding my sails... abandoning my fear amongst the passing seaweed...

....".... This is gotta be the good life....."

Peace to you in training. May belief carry you through, beyond your fears and into possibility.

Day 391 of running....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pausing past reflection

Saturdays creep up on me... they seep through the chaos and force their way between the edges of the bricks that control my concrete sidewalk.  They fray the seams I've cross-stitched together.  The moments of I can and the glue of I wish all come out in the wash on a Saturday.  Over folding towels and hanging linens and mismatched socks I linger... Over the delicate pattern of wear I notice on my face in the mirror... the one I likely imagine more than see... I ponder.... breathing in the steam from the tea I was allowed to sip.... I smile....

Saturdays always creep up on me. 

Today the paper airplanes flew, the lego battles were won, the snowforts constructed and crumbled.  Today the movie was watched snuggled together, today there were no naps, no quiet times, no play dates... Today there was teenage drama, there was four year old contemplative understandings of the interworkings of the dishwasher, the clogged drain, the superhero demeanor.  Today there was the offical writing of a training plan into the planner so that every day I would know....

Saturdays creep up and seem to slip away just as fast.  Teasing me with their brief moments of calm.  Taunting me with temporary sibling cooperation.  Today my son did planks with me.  Today he ran with me.  Today he told me that in english they had to pick someone to write about that they thought of as a role model and he chose me.... Thankfully we were running ... thankfully he didn't see my tears... thankfully he didn't hear my snort when I asked him why and he responded..."because I didn't know anyone else".....

Saturdays slide out of my reality faster than I can force a focus on them.  They dissipate quietly into Sunday catch up and are seemingly lost forever amongst the Mons, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri....

Then just as unpredictably ... Saturdays seem to forever creep up on me again.

At the very beginnings of this half ironman training... I want to embrace that creep... I wish I had seen it coming.  I wish I had prepared for quiet moments of God given happiness so evident in my life...

Run streak day 386... Peace to you in running from this humble blind runner :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 383 Poetry....

As shared at the Spill during Word Up :)

(pardon the typos)


Introductions of this me....



I could speak of the me which you might know, the me I let carefully allow to show.



I could grace myself with that her that moves in time, that her that swings the weapons of passive aggressive directions into a land mine.



I could tangle you several sticky webs of the lives I have lead, I could build you a boat and send you out to a barren sea with dread.



I could utter memories of cold dark nights left alone with regret, I could sing to you of the exceeded expectations I bled to have met.



I could place you on the snowmobile that rammed the tree when I was eight, the one that wasn't steered by the drunken father given to me by fate.



I could bring you to an isolating guilt inspired by my dinner, perhaps entrap you briefly in how an apple might make me feel a sinner.



I could share a brief moment of chaos after laundry, dishes, children, work, and more, I could whisper “mommy” to wake you once you've been exhausted to the core.



I could weave you in the scrap yarn used to knit scarves when none else could be bought, I might cook you in the stew made from nothing but the hand me down pot.



I could coax you, persuade you through three natural labours, I could don on your shoulder a baby sling to carry your favours.



I could hush you a lullaby to sing you to sleep, I might stir you a cup of tea to force a quicker steep.



I could place you at the end of such an accomplishment as to fill you with elation, I could leave you in moments of abandon which would overfill your desperation.



I could describe the things I cannot see, or perhaps you might describe them to me?



I could grant you an honours degree, a college diploma and allow you to feel wise, then remind you half the jobs you seek will force you to put your disability in disguise.



I could move your feet to rhythm and show you how much your soul loves to dance, ever so slowly edging away the furniture you're bound to bump as you carelessly prance.



I could attempt to shout “you can't” in your face a zillion times to watch your frustration, daring you endlessly to transform it into a tempting motivation.



I could stop and stare, I could assume you wouldn't care.



I could assign you an unreachable task, just to test the 'ability' you might mask.



I could ..... introduce you to this me, but it's not the one I usually would let you see.



After all, who am I to say who it is that I am? I haven't lived all my days as yet. The me I'd like to introduce is one neither of us has met.








Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ode to my Cup of Coffee

Oh jumping bean in my cup... how inspiring you are.  I wish I could sit calmly and sip.  I take that back.  I do not wish for that, but can you imagine that quiet?  Can you imagine that stillness?  My soul does not know such pause.  As I sip, I greet new dreams as if they already exist.  They flirt with my reality.  They jingle around in my tummy, that intuitive place that sets you on fire. In the next moment I say these aspirations out loud.  Why, dear coffee in my cup, do you move me so?  Why, dear coffee in my cup, do you speak my words before I think them through? Why, dear coffee in my cup, do you create that feeling of invincibility down to my toes that I know will fade near the end of every race? 

More importantly.... why do I let you?

And now, hands still warm from the cup of my weekend treat.... I dialled my most spontaneous guides number.... and ask that quizzical question that has been nagging my deeper consciousness...... "how would you feel about captaining my fixed gear tandem bike for 90km?" 

I expected a laugh, a giggle, a moment of silence to suggest how insane I actually feel. 

I get hardly to end of my question, barely to the intonation that should come when asking, and theres a "YES!" on the other end. 

Then I get myself deeper into dreamland with every breath....

The commentary continues with much discussion of whether my tandem will actually survive such a distance.  We decide my 1970's Doris is solid enough.  We assume we are both crazy, I mean determined, enough.  We conclude that we must conclude our conversation, our fantasy aired out loud.... we seem to both finish elated. 

And in the next moment, with my hands still warm from that magical cup of cheap coffee.... the realization of the impending half ironman in July I just committed to.... Sinks down to the synaptic clefts of my every nerve impulse... Reality, it seems, leaks a bit of lactic acid with every neural firing.. leaving behind just enough of a kick in the ass to get me moving.....

Time to make my training plan.  Time to write my eulogy.  Or perhaps, time to stop pretending to be brave and actually start being so.

Either way, it is time.

peace to you in running and more..... on this freezing day 379 of running :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Endlessness

Day dreaming.  That's how I feel I entered this new year, this fresh calendar page.  As if dancing in chaos at a costume party.  Only I have forgotten my mask.  I have forgotten the dance steps.  I have misplaced my motive along the way, amongst the flu, intermixed with the nauseous calls of "mommy" in the dark, splattered against the overdue bills that wallpaper the house I must prep for sale.

And yet somehow, with the reassurance of my friends, both online and not, my family and my stubbornness.... I made it through the year.  The 365 days someone so off-handedly suggested I couldn't run.  I still breathe, although currently its entwined with spasms of coughs that land me on the floor when no one is looking.  I still feel my heart pumping the blood that carried life through me for the year. I hear it most in my plugged ears that have forsaken me to infection, congestion or otherwise, thus stealing perception beyond belief.  I thank my lovely children for sharing this cold, this virus that has taken its turn with each of us, a week at a time, over the last month.  I thank them for their endless hugs and snotty noses, the ones I will miss when my house is silent not too many years from now. 

So through a fog, through a haze, a fever or two.... my goal has been reached.  365 consecutive days of running through 2011... bringing with it 2011km of distance run.  For each drop of sweet sweat and bitter crusting of mud, I am thankful.  So thankful.  To have been capable, to have been able.  Funny how little that word means to me...."able".... Too often trapped in my own self identity as "disabled"... For whom?

My self labelling helps the world understand my clumsiness.  Helps me to find ways to 'adapt' (also a word I carry distaste for).  My self labelling, not meant derogatory, not meant to be infused with 'can'ts' but to carry some semblance of  'perhaps' and 'maybe'...

I am not that calm.  I am not that patient.  I am not that mild.

I am the lion that charges in.  I am the "watch me" that forces all doubt to the wall.  I am the child that likely gave my mother a heart attack everyday. 

I am the "here and now" that planned every step through the quicksand, too angry to sit by and wait for someone to figure out the route. 

And now, here are my thanks, here are my hopes and dreams of one challenge done.  Here is me saying I am nothing without those that push me.  I am nothing without those who love me.  I am nothing without support.  I am forever thankful, forever grateful....


Back to that fresh calendar page, so taunting and new. Back to that new challenge so simple and true.  Back to that me that can't turn down a fight.  Back to that inhale just before we take flight.

2012 goals... let it be known... I already botched one....

- limit of one cup of coffee a day (can you guess which one I blew?)
- to run 2012km in the year
- to run my first ultra in october 50km
- to read 12 good books
- to stretch more (ouch)
- one complete surprise I will not tell....

And because I haven't decided to give up my runstreak... I'm still running at least 1km every day (challenging as I still feel like a festering piece of dung, but that will pass I'm sure)... It seems I haven't said good-bye to it yet.  I'm sure there will come a day when I do not wish to run.  Today is  not that day. And so we continue. 

Peace to you all in running and more :)