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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

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 :)