Friday, March 23, 2018

Apology Not Accepted

Apology Not Accepted

The choices I’ve made weigh heavily on my heart and soul.  They keep me awake at night.  They inspire me to do the work when my everything screams no. My choices and I are old friends of contention.  We are thick as thieves in the predawn awakening hour of my consciousness.  They always bring along fear for a fun game of double dare.  I’m not sure if i win or lose this game.  It feels like a war I never actually fight; more like a battle that might forward the cause - if I were to win. 

If I were to emerge victorious… fear banished forever… and me, endlessly capable.

Disability likes to apologize. For getting in the way, for taking time, for even being present sometimes.  


“Oh I’m sorry, could you please read that form to me?  The font is too small for me to see it.”

“I’m sorry, could you hold the door for me, while I push my chair through?”

“I’m sorry, would you mind picking me up?  Dropping me off?  Letting me participate?  Allowing me feel like a valued member of society?”

I went for a run two weeks ago.  The last text I sent before leaving my house in the dark for a solo six miles read 

“I’m sick of being sorry”

Seems simple right?  I’m tired.  Tired of taking up time and feeling undeserving of it.  I’m sick of being the last one to raise their hand and bring attention to the things, the inaccessible issues that were forgotten.  I’m exhausted with being the afterthought, the retro fitted, the off centre, the last one chosen for the team.

The darkness takes you.  It makes you quiet.  it wraps around you, welcomes you to be part of the background, to blend in.  You can fight it, search for the place of light among the shadows, be the light for a time even; but darkness tends to win.  Darkness makes no apology. 

Darkness accepts no apology.

Sometimes the sound of my shoes on the road make me uneasy.  I tend block out that sound with soft music.  I stick to the routes I know, following memorized footsteps around the block, through the neighbourhood I’ve seen a million times.  I know the twists and turns, the uphills and curves.  I can time out a run to the minute with ease and confidence.  I can combine any number of trails or city paths, or sidewalks along the busy sections.  I know when to raise my feet more for the seams on the bridges and the curbs that are eroding away.  I blend in well with the darkness.  

I blend in well with the darkness.

I ask very little of it in return for safe passage.  Warning of a rising sun would be nice; although admittedly once every spring I get stranded on a street corner I know that I know, but since I have no sunglasses to buffer the truth of your now awake world, I become frozen. I give the urban wildlife their space.  I tread lightly along the edge of hope. I apologize for my intrusion and lack of grace while out there.

“I’m sick of being sorry”

The text rang through my head as I ran.  Why does disability apologize?  Why do we feel the need.  Why am I sorry for merely being here most days?  I’m caught in that struggle as I run.  What if I wasn’t sorry?  What if I just was?  Don’t we all struggle?  Don’t we all need help from time to time?

“Don’t be afraid to stop and ask for help along the way” a friend says to me while dialoging about fear.  The race I picked, the manner I chose, the shear volume of things beyond my control and the weight of all my decisions - oddly this hadn’t occurred to me.  Ask for help.

I’m sorry that I might not be able to do that.  

“I’m sick of being sorry” 

Road cross in the dark.  The smell of coffee in the air from the drive through near by.  The speed-bumps that give my feet extra reason to rise.  Another road cross, and another right turn.  Down the road, past the trail I dare not take in the dark alone.  Over the last bridge before the subdivisions just beginning to stir.  

Bridge seam.  

Left foot, right foot, repeat.

And then movement… across the road, on the other side of the bridge.  In the space I can barely distinguish, in the darkness yonder… Movement of a person, two hands on the cement wall, one leg up on the ledge, and jump.

Wait.  My brain can’t comprehend. It’s 5:00am on a Saturday.  And I’m running.  Did I just see that right?  Did that guy just jump off this bridge?  Into the cold water below?  Sure it’s not deep but there are rocks and holy crap I think he just jumped off the bridge!

I took my ear buds out.  I finished crossing the bridge, deciding what to do.  I got to the lights and waited.  Do I call for help?  Do I go and check?  Do I …

I crossed the road, more at a walk than a run.  My right foot had just landed on the opposite sidewalk when I saw this inconceivable thing.  The guy who I’d seen jump was clambering back over the edge.  How can the even be a thing?  

And I’m angry, because I worried.  Because I crossed the road to check.  Because this guy was obviously high, or drunk or both and playing such dangerous games with the dark.  

Two breaths of anger in and out.  And time sped up.  The guy was angry too.  Mad I’d interfered.  Mad that I cared?  Mad that I stopped?  Yelling.  Screaming.  No traffic on the road. And he’s running, rushing, towards me.

“I’m sorry….”

Running for survival is a very different beast.  It reminds me I could be free.  It whispers hurry hurry in my ear.  And the voice from behind me is cursing, is yelling, is threatening to shoot me, to wait there every day to shoot me.  

By now I’ve fished my phone from my pocket and, knowing my call will ring on my husbands phone I’ve called him. 
“You have to come get me? Please come get me.  He’s chasing, he’s yelling. Can’t you hear that?”

Up the road and quick into the subdivision.  I’m sorry for waking you.  I’m sorry for disrupting the peace and calm that dark can be.  The chaser ran out of wind and stopped.  He was no where to be seen.  I’ve rung a door bell and handed the phone to the home owner and begged to wait inside for Steven.  Let me harbour here briefly?  I’m sorry to intrude.

The police did not find him or signs of him.  The darkness faded to day.  The world carried on.  The run finished in my head.  One step, two step, repeat.

It took me a week to go out alone in the dark.  Friends got me miles while the dust settled on my fear again.  Sparks of hope glimmer in the ashes.  Inspiring stories of friends and trails and happiness kept me going.

A week later on my own again, I couldn’t run that direction.  I couldn’t breathe the first three km from the fear that oozed out my pores.  You can’t let it cage you, this fear, this helplessness, this neediness.

Parts of my disability will forever create a dependence within me.  

"I’m sorry to interrupt your trail run, would you mind calling out ever obstacle for the next 99 miles?”  

Do you know how scary it is to cross the shopping mall parking lot to catch that next bus?  Do you know how frightening it can be to stand in your doorway in the dark wondering if today you’ll be granted safe passage along your run?  

You can’t let it cage you.  You can’t let it define you.  You mustn’t.  


Don’t accept my apology.  That is my only ask of you; if we ever meet, don’t accept my apology.  I’m not sorry for taking up space.  I’m not sorry for trying.  I’m not sorry for not letting someone else definition of disability cage me into anything.  

Friday, February 23, 2018

Asphalt Aversion

I am training.  

They call this training.  The running.  Countless steps of movement. 
Movement.  

A soft spring to a step I have gotten comfortable with; the following. Yes indeed, comfortable.  I will follow you.

I could not begin to count the selfless guide runners I’ve met over the last 9.5 years of this ‘sport’.  Can a thing be a hobby, if it’s calling is a cold sweat soaked sheet in the hours most still think of as night?  Can it be a pastime, if it’s life-force carries your heart beyond the threshold of fear? An unfettering.

Indeed, I have become quite comfortable in the following.  I wonder if my guide runners know I wish they were close when I walk the bank to cash the work cheque?  I wonder if they know I miss them dearly when crossing the six lane, merge twisted city round about between me and my meeting?  I wonder if they know just how dependent I have become on their voices in my head?

My goal has always been to create awareness for Inclusive Sport.  This is what I cling to in the moments that my loathing for the actual ‘running’ creeps through. It always strikes me as funny when someone thinks I truly must love this sport. Everyone finds a voice and a medium.  Running just happens to be mine.  

Occasionally, when surrounded by the map in my head and the landscape that skirts my reality; yes, I do love running.  I love to follow the trail, see where it leads.  See what the world is like on the other side.  See who I am after the end.  I love that even when my skin doesn’t seem to fit, I can move along a wood, or a field and feel whole.  

Yes, I am training.

I picked this goal to run a map I can’t quite see, across Tennessee this July.  I picked it as focal point, as an “A” race.  I knew the training would be a must.  Not all of my training will make sense to you.  There is a side of fear I must visit.  There are demons there I have avoided at all costs, for far too long. There is this ‘independence’ syndrome that I normally don’t see in running.

The Last Annual Vol State; 314 miles of space I’ve never run through.  314 miles of unknown roads; of twists and turns and crossings and, apparently charging dogs. Outside of my ‘hobby’ of running, I tend to get angry at the levels of inaccessibility in the world.  When I’m running alone in the dark, I stick to the roads I’ve practiced while following you.  I might even have asked you to drive me down them first.  I like practice.  I like repetition.  I like loops.  I like to memorize the steps.

I like to judge the depth of a hollow from the sway of your hips.  I like to anchor to your footfalls on the earth.  The sound of your breath against the tree and rock are my most intoxicating moments on a run.  The way you ‘see’ the world and how you share that with me, is the biggest gift, you’ll never know you gave.

A gift is never is to accept. I am fully aware that my constant slow, decreases your pace for too long.  I am fully aware that to help me, you give of your own training.  I try to distribute guide running requests across a number of people.  This is so as to not take away too much from your possible.  I know how you runners celebrate and relish in your possible.  I’m grateful for all the guided steps I’ve ever been blessed with.

It is however a sheltering.  I am tethered to the want of your voice, of your instructions to navigate through the ablest world in front of me.  There is a child like ache in my soul to be ‘capable’ of just living.  It is a hard reality to swallow that the world is not set up to allow such inclusive living.  It’s difficult to look my children in the eye and say “I’ve done what I can, this is the way the world is”, and then sleep well at night.

As a whole, we can do better. 

And so I run.  I continue to flirt with this ‘hobby’ of mine. Space for disability in sport, and in life, may not come to fruition in my lifetime, but I will do what I can.

I am training.  But my training is a haunting, hollowing experience of loneliness and fear facing.  It is the running without you.  It is the unknown road in front of me.  It is the noise, the din that approaches in the light when I cannot see and have no telling voice in my ear to diffuse the fear.  It is the wind moving between me and the oncoming.  It is the edge of space where asphalt stops and more unknown begins.  Is there a ditch? A safe step at least?  When I get to that corner, will I be able to cross?  Is there a light?  A stop sign?  The driver of the car may have waved me on, but I’ll never know.  I can’t see through windows.

314 miles I’ve chosen to run alone.  In my head your voices will sound though, in all my moments of attempted bravery.  I hope to run most miles at night, but time will tell that tale for sure.  There is a rather big difference between the black dark of country roads and the street light bathed city streets a slumber.  On my side I will wear a BLIND RUNNER bib.  Most will only catch a glimpse of this as they whip by at racy speeds.  All the reflective and LED bright vests will be in my possession.  I have made room in my pack for fear; because she is my constant companion along the unknown asphalt for all 314 miles. 


Sometimes, to create space for a thing, a notion, a change, or a hope; you have to move beyond the margins you’ve been confined to and take up a previously shouldered place and do your best to be noticed. 



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

All In A Day's Work

Seventy-seven paces to the fire hydrant.  Two hundred meters to the lights. No advanced green. If you hold the cross walk button for five mississippi's it will beep.  Crossing the opposite direction, on the return trip from the bus home from work lands right at rush hour, and spasms of children running free from their educational cages all at once, in all the directions, in all the bubbles of noise.

Step down there.  Curb up there.  There's a drop off on the Tim Horton's side of the sidewalk beside the bus shelter.  Don't veer off.  Not even if the adolescent giants are hogging the entire sidewalk.  Hold your ground.  They will move.

They will move.  Surely they will share this space.  Dammit. Fine.  Step down into the drop off. Yep it's muddy.  Fucks sake.

Wait.  I don't have the next two steps memorized from here?  Fucks sake.

Merge lanes at this light.  Merge lanes and asshole coffee-aholics that think I can make eye contact with them through their car windows.  Panic rising.  Hands shaking.  Cane clicking on the ground in intervals that sound so.... controlled. So controlled in this ablest land of mayhem.

.... and that's just getting to work.

That's not running.  That's not trusting every footfall past the next.  That's not grand open spaces of adventure.  No sir, it's not.

That, my friend, is just life.

Don't mistake that for a plea for sympathy.  It's more of a gentle self reminder that life, this life, my life.... Is far from perfect.  But it's a life.  Delicate steps.  Delicate coordinated memorized steps.

Sometimes I run alone.  I like that.  Of course I have to convince my guides to run me that route a number of times first. Then I'll go back alone.  And if the weather changes, or the leaves grow, or the wind sweeps across the woods, or it's garbage day; I need to have them run me through it again.

And again.

To memorize it, to commit it to memory.  Every step, every nook, cranny, crack, root, rock, branch.  Just ask the people who guide for me.  When we are in the woods near my house, I give directions from the rear;

"You're going to come up upon some chunky roots under foot soon.  About ten paces past them, take a sharp right turn on the trail".

"Okay. yes here they are.. chunky roots.... and a right turn you said?"

"Yes, right"

"But that's a big hill?"

"That's correct"

People talk about running to zone out.  You know that thing?  That space?  That calm that over takes you?  Where nothing else can touch you?  You feel invincible?  Content?  In-the-zone?

That's great.  Good for flipping you....

Running only gives me a break from my 'every day' chaos of normal life, because I can't hold on to all of that 'stuff' while thinking about memorized steps, while interpreting your dialogue and descriptions about my next five steps, about my safety.  I'm not that good.  I have to focus.  I have to shut every thing else off.  I have to BE HERE NOW.

Try being that attentive for 24 hours straight.  Try.  Most of us can hardly make it through one dinner with family before glancing down at our phones for distraction.

Okay, in fairness, I'm being harsh.  I'm exhausted.  And totally by my own doing and choice.  No Sad Panda Points for this one baby.  Self induced...

.... as every Ultra is....

Remember?  You paid for this nonsense?  Fuck, you relished in it.  Let's be perfectly freaking honest right now; You're likely so sadistic you were lying in bed immobile from your last 'exposure' to the ultra world when you bloody well signed your life away for this one?

Right?

Okay.... moving on.

When you set up your race calendar for the year (oh no, don't you shy away from the screen now, I know you sit down in flipping November to think about your entire next year, you've likely submitting your work vacation days for the next 16 months to have the right weekends off)... you have your "A" races, your "Training" races, your "Goal" races, your "Family" races, your "Can't NOT do that one again" races...

I do this too.  Set up my list to serve my training purposes for the "A" race.  So what do you do when not one, BUT two of your "training" races go to shit?  Absolute literal shit?

Shakes the ground you stage your "A" race on right?

And I need to breathe.  Why do you run?  I run to feel like I can run.  It makes me happy to think that me running might in some strange twisted way, help you run.  I run to change the world.  I run to create space for Disability in Sport.  I run to try and inoculate myself against the harshness of the world in which the teenagers won't share the bloody sidewalk.  I run to feel brave.

I am not brave, let's be clear on that.

I'm also not the least bit fast.  I fight tooth and nail for every blasted cut off.  I crave the ability to browse UltraSignUp without the fear of finishing within the time line.  I sit around your post race camp fires like the outsider that squeaked in the back door.  I listen to your race banter and hope you don't notice that I'm under qualified to be there.  I keep showing up.  Rather quite lost most of the time.

Fucks sake, I get lost in bathrooms.

First thing I asked my friends to show me when we arrived at Three Days at the Fair was the bathrooms.  Goodness knows I should know where these are.  Let me describe this in my terms....

There's the start line.  Buildings on both sides. Cobble stone ground.  But random inlays in the orderly brick.  They fucked me up every time I crossed them.  Round patterns within the brick, taking my direction away, stealing any sense of finding I'd gathered.  Food on the left.  Lots of food on the left.  Oh the smells.  All the smells.   The start line itself was two cables.  Each end pinned down by an orange pylon.

Orange.  My favourite fucking colour.  Of all the colours I can't see clearly, orange in nearly every light, is completely invisible.  Why the fuck can't my ex be spray painted orange?  Because that's one thing I'd like to never see again.  But no, let's mark race courses with orange.  That sounds like an attention getting plan, right?

On the right is the timing screen.  Turns out I can read this from a few millimetres away in the dark. I hesitated to go over and look though, it gets addictive, knowing stuff. Besides "You make a better door than a window!" kept running in my head whenever I did.

Just up there's a wee right turn.  A few uphill slanted steps and garden like rocks on the right.  Don't veer right.  Don't pass anyone on the right.  If you miss the right, straight ahead are the bathrooms.  Bathrooms with two doors.  An entrance AND an exit.  OMG lost in the bathroom flash backs.

Why just last month I was running around an indoor track with my Steven and stopped in the loo.  Memorized the steps from the door to the stall.  Steps from the stall to the sink.  From the sink back to the door.  The door with no handle?  No handle?  OMG... There were two exit doors from that loo. But then taking them would put me where on the track?  How many steps off course?  How much in the way of the track team would I be?  OMG Lost in the flipping bathroom.  Someone please inform my Steven, that this, this right here, is who he intends on marrying.  For Fucks Sake.

Needless to say I did NOT exit the fairgrounds bathroom from the exit door.  Not once.

Okay right turn. Running in front of the loo. Garbage can on the left. The big kind with the lid.  Sharp left turn.  Or if you went straight in non chipped moments you could get to our site, to Robins car.  But then there was a divoty gravel driveway to navigate there.  It's a scary world batman.  One breath of running and another sharp right turn.  Don't veer right, there's a lip up on a interlocking brick step there.  But don't veer left on the right turn.  There's wooden barricades.  You know those triangle things?  Where the legs stick out WAY further than the tops?  Oh but you know, the top railing is super excited to meet your hip should you get too close.

Right this is the out and back strip.  Our tent is second on the right.  Camouflaged walls.  Hey as long as they're not orange.  Barricades all the way down this strip of road.  And at the end where you make the 180 degree turn left, two of them separated with a garbage can in the middle.  The toes of the first barricade are angled out a bit further.  And the edge of that garbage can is rather sticky.  Just saying.

Ok around the turn around corner and back down the road.  Do not turn to head back to the bathroom.  God knows what you'd have to step over.  Barricades continue straight.  It's just enough straight running to let you listen to the song in your ears.  Don't loose focus.  Right turn ahead.  Don't veer right. Drop off on the right.  And a misleading white arrow on the ground that if you follow specifically would have you run head first into a invisible fence.  Instead three steps left.  And a  white chain fence appears from no where on the right.  Twenty meters maybe?  Straight again.  Sharp left turn.  Optional gravel step off left.  I joked with Catherine as she zipped past me a hundred bazillion times, that's okay you're faster, I'm getting all the extra mileage going around that gravel spot.

OMG stop giggling to yourself and Turn LEFT NOW dammit.

I loved this strip.  Slight down hill.  Back side of the course.  Must be near a full km.  Okay I loved this strip minus the few trucks presumably transporting the chickens into their barn.  Minus the series of orange pylons that kept us left, that never seemed to stay still the entire 24 hours.  Sneaky little bastards were having their own party while I was running.  I swear.

Two garbage cans on the left along this strip.  Hey this was important to know.  Good places to barf and all.  Street lights.  No need for headlamps. Gentle turn left with the road.  More pylons.  Stupid left turn at the #8 gate.  Don't veer left.  Drop off.  Step down.  I tried to hit this each time with a left foot forward swing, so I could drop and hopefully jump over that spot.  Two breaths and a right at the stack of white horse fences.  Sharp left.  Optional grass section.  You go for it.  I'll be over here on the slight left, but not all the way left side of the gravel road.  Watch the left, there are pot holes there.  Don't pass left.  OMG there's three middle pot holes.  Merge right.  NOT THAT FAR RIGHT.  There's missing edge, like the spot where Catherines monster truck has chipped away the edge of my driveway.  Sharp right uphill turn. Barricades.  Garbage can.  Pylons.  Sensory overload...

Few meters of running and one left turn to avoid before finding that last left hand garbage can.  Turn left to come back around to the start line.  Two cables. Food smells.  And well, you get the idea.

And again.

And again.

For 24 hours.

Oh truth be told I was content to stop and sit down at 22 hours 13 minutes.

When we arrived Friday evening, the girls walked a loop with me.  Told me all the nooks and cranny's, fences and barricades.  First loop of the race, Robin ran with me.  Whispering sweet nothings in my ear about this step or that.  The thing about my memorized steps that always seems to surprise me; I can't memorize the moving parts.  People had been running for five days when we started.  Others for three.  Others for two.  And in our mix were marathoners.  Dammit they all refused to stand still.  The buggers.  Moving parts.

When I started running it was road racing.  Which I hate by the way.  Two much noise.  I used to pin bells on my guide runners shoes.  This helped me follow the right feet in the crowd.  The pack in this race was varying gate and shuffle.  Too many tempting sounds to follow.  We were blessed with a good 5 hours of overcast sky's.  I ran 'blind runner' bib on my back, but guideless along the memorized course.  Robin assured me she was only ever a mile away if I needed her.

Several things happened.

I couldn't handle the noise so plugged my music in. I let the moving parts move themselves.  I apologized in my head a number of times for bumping into them all.  I prayed they'd forgive my repeated clumsiness.

My tummy, which has been my biggest nemesis this year, revolted.  Revolted in flying fits and spurts of barf every which way and where.  As the day went on this made any attempts of a bouncy run step (which my legs seemed quite happy to do) impossible.

And the icing; The sun came out.

You may as well shoot me.  I kept thinking about the worse possible events here.  Like what if my flying spasms of barf happened in front of the food building?  What if I tripped off that gravel step down and knocked over the moving parts?  What if... What if... I failed.  What if ... I choose to fail?

Okay so here's the thing, the retreated sentiment of the day; I am only here as a training race.  Chosen specifically for the attempt at making my tummy digest and stabilize for 24 hours so I can trust it again.  But that goal was flushed down with the rice I had at four hours.  This unknown piece of fate that hangs around in the tear misted air around a "change of plans", leaves me heavy.  Here I am empty and angry.  Self induced, no Sad Panda Points, put myself exactly here on purpose.  Suffered the 12 hour tummy failure 8 hours early.  Ran a bit more anyway. And now?

And now?

Blazing brightness from every direction.  All the memorized bits and pieces, details of this step and that, and my head full of fear.

Then I did something I've never done.  And prayed it would help.  I began running with my white cane out.

Every turn, every obstacle I 'knew' was there, found me repeating to myself; I'm gonna die.  I'm not gonna die.  Is New Jersey a good place to die?  What are the death taxes like here?  OMG I'm gonna die.  Please please please don't die.

Someone touched my arm on the second loop with my cane out.  I unplugged my headphone to find Catherine "Do you need me?"... Of course I do!  I'm so glad you can't see me crying.  Every fibre of my everything wanted to cling to her TAKE ME WITH YOU! She came for a goal and was on track for it.

"No, I do not need you" But I do...but I do... but I ... Of for fucks sake run away faster.  As much as I loved her and her offer, ignorantly I jammed my headphone back in place. Hope she forgave my rudeness.

Robin found me too and asked.  I laughed and said I'm not dead yet.  Keep running.

Under-breath cursing, I ran a number of loops in the slow to set sun.  People say I swear a lot when I run.  I say you haven't met Catherine obviously.  But seriously, I spent $40,000 on a linguistic degree, figure I'm making use of the cost per swear rule with each curse.

Fucking sun.  Fucking Brightness.  FUCKING STUPID SELF IMPOSED ULTRA SUFFERING.....

I know y'all pray for the sunrise after the seemingly endless hours of lonely dark.  I love the dark batman.  Oh look!  I can see the timing screen.  Oh Look!  I can read the exit signs in the loo.  Oh look!  I can take the optional gravel L-cheater path to the left and NOT die.  Who knew?

Please, give me dark.  Endless hours of dark.

I did relent and nap.  Settled my tummy.  Well not entirely true.  Emptied my tummy and waited.  And faced the truth that this would yet again, not be a big number race.  Faced the truth that I would sink after.  I know that pattern.  Faced the fact that I'd have to face the fucking facts.  I came for what?  45 miles?

No.  I came to learn how to eat and survive a lot of running.  Also I had to pee.  And like hell I was going to cut back along the course, or worse, behind the car where I'd barfed about ten times, to get to the loo.  So I walked a loop to get to the bathroom.  On that loop I was discovered by Catherine.  "Movement is better than stillness" she sang as she flew past.  Oh fuck you too, I'm just going to the loo.

But I kept going.  And ate a few things.  Tentatively.  Anything over a swagger gate produced more endless threatening barf.  So as with the rest of my life, I did the best I could with what I had.

Darkness meant no cane, no blind runner bib, no music needed, no glasses.

Of course all things come to an end.  The night is no exception.

My "day" at the fair ended in a ridiculously low 65 miles.  Happily I can report fear did not win.  This time.

.... and no, I have not yet browsed Ultrasignup.   Maybe I'll take up full time knitting?  Or spray painting?

Oh but I hear my shoes calling me from down by the door.....

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Once Upon A Moon Hill...

It's not an odd thing to run twice in one day.  It truly isn't.  My family seems to think it's normal anyway.  When you're juggling around "responsibilities" and "commitments" and, well, life... You run when the opportunity presents itself.  You make use of every second you have; whether that's planking while your coffee is perking, squatting in the hallway between clients, or carrying all the bags of groceries home because you know there isn't time for weight training later... you make use of the time you have.

After all, we all get the same 24 hours every day.  Seriously, you there, reading this; why haven't you started a wall sit at the same time? Honestly...

Anyway, the curse/blessing of a double run day means you get ALL the weather in a season switch (-4C in the morning, 18C in the afternoon, and a windy 7C at dusk), it means your shoes get circulated.  Trail in the morning, road in the afternoon, hybrid in the evening.  It means headlamps recharge while you're out at lunch, and sunscreen sits abandoned at 9pm.  Reflective vests anyone?

Because nothing says sexy quite like a reflective vest, headlamp, trail shoes and snot rockets .... right?  Oh man I hope so.  It's like my mom always used to say, shave your legs... you never know.... or something like that.

It's 9pm on a Saturday.  Kids are in bed or organized with random activities.  Shoes are tied.  Headlamps are on.  Run key in hand.  Hybrid shoes on.

Wait, you never wear your headlamp?  Did I pick the wrong shoes? Crap.. Time is running out and 11km starting at my bedtime is not a super happy feeling to begin with.  But I'm committed to getting my mileage for the week up past 200km.  Why?  For no reason.  Why? Because it means I get to spend an hour and twenty minutes with this guy.  Why?  I'm not number obsessed.  Just a crazy ultra shuffler with laces tied.  Why?  Because, dam it.... I said I would.

And out we go.

He picks the turns.  Normally I fret about time, elevation, my pace, getting home, said I'd be home, this way is 40 seconds longer, that way has a bigger hill... I don't like waiting for traffic at that corner.  But tonight I let it go.  I let it go, and he picks the turns.  The night air is cool but not cold, and the shoes carry me on.

I breathe a sigh of relief when he skips the left up the hill.  I fall into step.  Not much to call out, very little to guide.  Help crossing the road, one or two curbs, a bridge seam, the mile beep.  And an unexpected left turn.

"Hope you love me?"

Oh you bugger... this hill, what we call the Moon hill, is way steeper than the road hill he just skipped.  You bugger.  Time is not on my side and the steepness means an extra 80 seconds on the ascent.  Gravel under my hybrid shoes crunching out against each toe off.  Fine.  FINE.  I'll run your dam hill.

Up and up and up and up.  It's really not that steep.  It's really nothing.  It's no mountain.  It's not escarpment.  It's just a hill.  I do like the view up there.  And the moon is so pretty hanging there, almost perfect, on the edge of my vision, just outside the headlamp hue.  At least now I know why the second head lamp.

Wait do you hear that?

"There are people up there?" I say.

"I hear them.  We're okay" he reassures.

People are fine.  But in the dark, on a trail that loops up to a neighbourhood, meeting the corner park at a three way stop between roads?  People playing music loud enough for me to hear down here?  I worried.  I worried about confrontation, about delays, about worse case scenarios.

"There's people up there on the left?" I said again.

The trail at the top does a loop, a circle around the plateau and the park.  When we run repeats here, we run the loop and back down the hill, turn around at the bottom in a round about and run back up.  At the top he veers left, towards the people, towards the music playing in the dark at 9:30pm.  I start walking five steps from the top, heart rate rising.  People.

"Baby I have to take a stone out of my shoe, I'm just gonna stop a minute" he says.

"Okay, sure, rocks are annoying and stuff" Plus I love to walk.  Seriously, you don't need to give me any excuse to walk.  I'm in.  Heck I only run with you people so we can walk sometimes.  Geez... stupid hills.

"Hey we're on our Moon Hill darling" he says.  Of course we are, you picked this left.  Truth be told I love that moon, love this hill; and he dam well knows it.  What a flirt.

"Yes we are.  It's special here" Or would be if not for the people?  Why are they here batman?  Weird of people to be out after dark and stuff.

I turn to him.  He's sweet to know the day has been long.  He's sweet to think I needed this view, this air, this time with him.  He's still on the ground.  Musta been a big stone.

"I'm going to do this thing baby" he whispers.  He never whispers.

Wait.  What thing?  Holy moly there are people here.  The music is off now though. And for all the space I had felt between us moments before, now there isn't but a breath, there isn't but a hairs width of emptiness.  I'm right there, in front of him on the ground.  Inappropriately close for public.  Of course we wouldn't be in public if those people would go home!! People are walking now.  They're getting closer. What thing?

From somewhere (I don't know where) he pulls a heavy handful of something.  Lifts it up to me.  This is no shoe stone stowaway.  What is this?

And I'm crying.

"I don't have a ring for you baby.  But I do have this" This? This... Oh my god.. I know what this is.

And I'm crying.

This is the Race Buckle from the race we first met at.  This is the beginning we never saw coming.  This was the first face to face we ever shared.  This buckle he earned for running so very far during our shared adventures at Dirty Girls 48hr race so many years ago.  I had a buckle from the same race. A much smaller buckle. I'd managed my first 100 miles there.  I'd seen him, just after he'd earned this buckle, I had begged him, having lost my guide in the night through some offence, I had begged him to come with me.  I'd only needed three more loops.  Please would he come?  He couldn't.  At the time, spent from having pushed so very hard, he couldn't.  There was nothing left in the tank.  And fearfully, I'd gone off into the darkness alone.  Running.  Running like all the scary bears in the world were chasing me.

Part of our story.  Part of us.  This buckle, this moon hill, this space and all the time it took to find each other through chaos and mayhem and friendship.  He knew.  He knew a ring wouldn't mean anything to me.  But this?

And I'm still crying.

"Baby will you marry me?" I hear him.  Think I hear him.  Can't be so.  Can it?

I pull him up.  Standing again, close to me and I'm now so grateful I didn't actually blow that snot rocket just before this began.  The people walked by and I see now why he wasn't worried.  They are not prepubescent hooligans, but a family who had come out to watch the same moon.

"Enjoy your run" they said in passing, going right around the loop.

"Run?" I said.  "You mean proposal!"

They "oooo-ed" and "Awww-ed" and laughed... under the same sappy mush ball moon he'd brought me to see.

Once they'd left, we were alone again.

"So is that a yes?" he asks.

'That's a yes" I'm still crying.

As we came around the end of the loop and onto the road, the people were all there.  To me there was even more of them.  Standing in the road, random moon sharing strangers calling out to me in the dark "Did you say yes?"

"Of course I did!" I called back....

and time, which never stands still for long, carried on... and we ran together under the moon, briefly holding hands....

"You are such a mush ball !!!" I said.

"Don't tell everyone my secret! They'll think I'm a softy" he answered.

.... but no baby... you are not a softy... you are my rock, my safe place.  You are my now and forever.  You are my always.  And you are so very stuck with me!

Okay, you can all stop your wall sitting now.  See how productive you are at multitasking?


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Just keep swimming... Anvil training week 8

T minus 197 Days 19 Hours 50 Minutes

Maybe it gets easier.  I keep thinking.  Maybe this shuffle and shimmy of minutes and details and priorities smooths itself out.  I keep thinking.  Maybe.  Maybe the bacon will cook itself.  Maybe I won't lose focus the first time I get sleepy, or hungry or ... wait was that a panda?

These are lies of course.  I've run 'long' enough times to know - it doesn't get easier; it gets done.

Still the lies comfort me in the wee hours of morning when I could be sleeping.  I could be snuggled right there, warm beside my BBF dreaming of the sunrise and all things coffee infused.  I dare not however, I know Catherine is on route to run with me.  And lets face it.... I'm more than slightly afraid of her.

Still my typical Wednesday hill running guide had the nerve recently to go climb mountains in Colorado, giving her an out for two weeks of of my company.  They were interesting weeks.  Getting up stupid early on a Wednesday and running, then going to work and trying to motivate myself to get in the pool for an hour or more at 8 or 9pm.  Can you say yawn?  Who stole my nap? Seriously?

It's then that the painful truth of this Anvil truth seeps in.  36 hours of race time available.  How will you use it Batgirl?

Sadly I'll likely be using every second actually racing.  Hello, slow moving bus over here.

The first 6 weeks of this plan now feel like a warm up.  Like the teaser days of those month long fitness challenges I always get roped into.  Ohhh a 15 sec plank!  Easy!! yeah wait for the end of the month when it's freaking 9 minutes long batman.  And I'm all shaking and hovering there on my forearms cursing the ones who threw my name into the challenge to begin with.  Speaking of which I have burpees to do today...

So the first six weeks I bitched and moaned and tossed and turned about details and frantic minutes here or there.  And now?  Now I'm having nightmares about getting out of the pool and finding the door to the ladies locker room to use the loo, then finding my spot in the pool again to swim the second half of my 3hour laps.  As if seeing it once wasn't hard enough.

I'm lucky to know enough long distance runners that there always seems to be a guide somewhere willing to travel a distance or two.  Training is supposed to be fun right?   It occurred to me last week I've done everything in my power to avoid running alone, even in the dark, since they took down my tree out front of the house.  I'm so concerned I'd not be able to make my way back home that I keep chickening out of the solo run.  It's a dangerous, dependent ground to stand on.  Sometimes you need to know you can alone.  In the shuffle of all the details, I've been allowing this to slip.  Could it be my own delicate fear of "dis"ability?

But then fear drives us right?  Pushes us, just past the place we used to sit comfortably?  It wakes us up with brilliantly insane ideas.

Possibility

Hope

Dreams

I've survived 8 weeks of the 'Anvil Plan'.  11 weeks total of this routine.  I'm certain it gets trickier.  Especially now that my Vermont 100 plan is overlapping the Anvil plan.  My alarm clock wakes me at times matching my step sons bedtime.  I nap before dinner when no one notices my absence.  I still fold laundry between sets of squats.  I do dishes between planks and packing lunch.  I eat lunch in bites between quad stretches held ever so carefully in the hallway just before my client comes out of the treatment room.  And blogging?  While  my head and heart spin out of control with thoughts of self doubt, progress graphs and omg did I turn the dryer off before leaving the house; the actual act of calming down the world long enough to write the words?

Don't get me wrong.  I wouldn't trade it.  To chase your passion?  To breath in wisps of intangible dream?  It helps when my BBF whispers this is who we are baby, it's what we do.  Plus, there's always a faint smell of trail bacon, bone broth, and tada muffins lingering around here, around home.

I got to see it again last Sunday.  I got to feel it.  We were climbing a hill on the far side of the tenth farmers field we'd crossed. A group of six of us, all sharing space on the northern end of the Grand Valley Trail.  Clambering up, sun just poking out.  Chill fading, frost melting, mud forming.  Wait, pause there just long enough.  Turn around among the snagging raspberry bushes, the baby would be briars. Turn around and catch it before it fleets away again.  Sunrise cresting the opposite hill.  Rows of snowy sleeping corn and bean stalks.  The blazes we'd followed poking out along the edges.

Breathe in.

This is why.

Move me as slow as you wish good karma.  But this is why I'm here.  This is me, being a part of being here.  To see where I've come. To see where I'm going.  To feel, where exactly, I am.



Monday, February 27, 2017

Houston... We have a problem... Week Three

T minus 222 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes

Oh week three.  You sucked.  You really truly did.

Our entire house was in various stages of the plague.  The plague that had no name.  The one that came with nearly no symptoms; minus of course the need to find alternative ways to breathe and the compulsion for endless sleep.  Endless sleep, like the one you crave at the end of a hundred miles.

Week three you made me look back on week two with a knowing glare; so that was coming.  No wonder I craved the end of every workout, the extra minutes of slumber.  No wonder I felt like molasses creeping out of bed in the morning.

Week three had two rest days.  One of which was entirely that.  I think I got up three times to make tea.  Holy cow you know you're sick when you don't even turn on Netflix?  Of course the loss of time created the internal debate; how much do you try and make up for?  How many miles, minutes, effort, do you back track over?

This debate has such colourful sides.  There's the side of caution, get better, rest, heal.  There's the side of reality, time stops for no one, 48 hours is a lot to lose, your body will ultimately decide.  There's the side of fear, but I have to train, I have to get better, I have to swim, I have to bike, I HAVE TO ....  Then there's the side of family, who remarkably haven't disowned me yet and still wish to spend time in the same proximity as me, who have also lost 48 hours with me.

Week Three I still managed to fit in 5 days of training; 127 min of swimming, 143 min of biking, 449 min of running, 85 min of strength training, 48 min of core, 112 min of stretching.  

My favourite day?  On the Bruce again.  Trying not to fall off the river bank.  Trying not to slid off the edge of the icy trail.  Trying to see the google app on my phone to read the reroutes for the trail we've lost.  Getting lost on a map.  Trudging miles towards earning a badge. Giggling in my head at the thought of losing myself in the woods right beside a city suburb I can't even see. 

My least favourite day?  The last swim.  OMG the pool was busy, open swim at the same time as the lane swim.  Which is fine.  I understand on some fundamental level that weird people like to just get wet, or just puddle around or like even go so far as to play in the water.  Man did it make for turbulence, and noise.  And every new nearly pubescent youth that joined the swim had to be tested as pool safe, had to pass the dreaded lane swim to ensure they'd in fact survive their fun swim. 
Oh joy, oh bliss… Guess in who's lane they tested each of these fearful flailing invisible children?  Well, if you guessed mine, you'd be right, but likely you wouldn’t be quite as surprised as me to learn it.  Apparently there was a sign.  Stupid signs, saying stuff.  Ugh.  Oh and here’s a thing.  Just a thing.  A small thing; but a thing nonetheless.  I was joined in my lane by an avid, obvious triathlete, master swimmer about half an hour in.  I hadn’t be swimming in circles.  I hadn’t been following the rules.  In my defence those rules were made to follow an organizational plan that isn't hugely accessible.  Swimming in circles suggests I might know how to draw, and follow, said circles… all while not drowning.  So after our near collision, which came within minutes of my thrashing child near collision, we met at in the swallow end and exchanged a few words. 

I started with apologies.  They weren’t well received.  I think he felt I’d been selfish, lane hogging.  A serious offence in a lane swim.  Here’s the thing, my small nit picky thing.  The moment I explained I hadn’t seen him, hadn't been following the “rules” was due to my restricted vision, because I am legally blind and was following the rope up and down; he faltered.  He perhaps even blushed.  We agreed to stay on our own sides of the remainder of the swim.  (This would prove difficult as the kids were progressively tested in our lane)  Something about the change of attitude and level of understanding from this swimmer nagged at me. In Disability theory, and throughout history, the only way in which a disabled person was accepted as part of the society was if they had ‘over come’ their disability and proved themselves stronger than the average person.  Why was this person so ready to meet the situation with anger before learning of my vision; and then so ready to tell me after that it was “incredible you are even here”?  Unsettled.  I was unsettled.  

Too much movement underwater, too many people, too much noise, disoriented, confused, just recovering from whatever flu I’d had the days before… Heart rate too high, breathing felt like I was gasping.  I know this feeling.  Panic.  I fought it off.  I struggled to convince myself it wouldn’t be calm during the Anvil race itself.  Told myself you can’t control the things outside of your control, just swim.  Isn’t that what you love about swimming?  That you can “just” swim.  Stroke stroke breathe… It abated, the panic, but it never truly left.  And when I left the pool I felt outdone by my goals.  And scared I’d not be able to pull this off.  

Week four was better.  Better in the sense that I had this major talk with myself.  Self, I said, self we have to remember a plan is just that.  A plan.  And life outside of that plan, carries on.  It doesn’t wait.  It can be forgiving, it can bend and flux.  But it will not wait.  And if it’s pushed too far in any direction, it will snap, it will break, and it will bite back with a force that will wake you from the deepest slumber. We must be flexible, self.

Of course I hated this.  I wanted to punch this side of myself in the face.  We can do anything self.  We can we can!  Struggle is all we know.  Struggle is all we ever have known.  Be like the salmon, fight for space, fight for…. But my other, calmer, craving peace self won.  And the week moved along smoother. 

Week four I took the time to stretch.  Admittedly not all the minutes I had scheduled myself to set aside for stretching, but I did stretch.  Self care stepped up.  I had a wonderful massage therapy session.  Figured out what was holding, what was tight. I focused stretches on the places that called out.  I made time to prep lunches, eat dinners, hydrate.  Oh my goodness the hydration is never easy.  I ran over 5.5 hours, I swam 2.5 hours, biked 2.5 hours, but my strength training was poor.  Part of me wants to grant allowance for this, recovering and all.  The other part is just as angry to not be invincible.  Whatever bug attacked our home left this lingering fatigue and chronic sense of grumpiness behind. 

At the end of the week I got to share a run with my BatCub3. My 9 year old son wasn’t about to wait for me to get over my selfish need for a rest day though.  The day before the two of us ran, he did a fast paced road run with my BBF.  Of course when the two of us took off I had to remind him we’d be pacing at Batmom speed.  He started walking.  This made me giggle.  Thanks buddy.  Snow had fallen, in this tease of a winter we’d lost too soon.  We took to the forest and broke trail along the single track.  We laughed loudly as we slid attempting to clamber up the hill I like to call the Baby Barkley hill.  Directly beside the sewage treatment plant, this hill is rather off the beaten path and offers a sense of OH MY GOD that no other trail hill around here can share.  We followed blazes along the Grand Valley Trail and my soul ached when BatCub asked if I’d take him to the Bruce someday.  “We’re really lucky to live so close to this forest Batmom”.  Yes we are pumpkin.  Yes we are.  How lucky am I to have found this love of the trail?  Luckier still to have found people willing to share in that affection with me?  To humour me with slow paced guiding?

The last bit of training I did for week four was, again, eye opening in this world disability and sport.  Back to the pool I went.  Again a rerun of the open/lane swim combo.  The near panic attack I’d had last swim during this type of pool time left me feeling rather less than.  I hate having fear.  I loath waking up in a cold sweat wondering how to “conquer” that.  I despise feeling owned by that feeling of specific avoidance of an activity.  I cannot imagine living under the thumb of any fear.  

In the pool this time there were the same two lanes on the right side for training.  The rest of the pool was full of boisterous hooligans.  (Yes I’m completely aware this is merely how my fear heard them, they were in fact likely quite nice youth)  Beachballs flying every which way and where; defiantly not just within the boundaries of the open swim side.  Man how I love invisible flying beachballs. Especially while my head is under water.  Anyway, I made sure the guard knew I was there, knew I had a vision impairment.  I made certain my lane mate (at the time only one other lady) and I had discussed and understood we’d stay on our own sides.  All went fantastically until a third and much slower swimmer joined our lane.  He didn’t seem to wish to have any communication about not swimming in circles.  I nearly ran him over the first time I found him.  I was hugely apologetic.  After the frustration of obvious lack of interest in conversation, I went to the guard to ask for direction.  I was again in the lane they use to test all the hopeful deep end swimmers, and now there were three of us.  The guard seemed confused.  I tried to make it light.  I find general public take disability easier when it’s light.  If only they knew the depths and heaviness it could carry.  The guard was still confused.  He did nothing wrong.  He didn’t react poorly.  He just didn’t understand my needs.  

If I had a penny for every time someone didn’t understand my needs…. 

Disability is like that.  Confusing.  Flux.  Flow.  Ever changing in an ever evolving world.  But surely we all have a place?  Surely we can all fit?  By god I hope we can. 

Like a frustrated and upset toddler this inner dialogue, here, interspersed in the loud obviously abled world of the OPEN/LANE swim combo, nearly brought me to tears.  Thank goodness for goggles.  Deep breathing.  I started again with the guard.  Explained how I didn’t “fit” into the way they’d organized the swim.  Explained that I have 8% vision and could not see people coming or going under water.  Explained I hadn’t brought a swim guide.  (Not that there are many of those floating around).  Explained that he'd need to let me know every time they tested a swimmer in the lane I was in.  Explained that I’d be happy to “get out of the way” and let everyone swim; but surely there was a place for me too?  And surely the only answer to this jenga puzzle wasn’t that I would have to leave and abandon my place in the pool?  Abandon my training for theirs?  Simply because the model wasn’t ‘inclusive’? 

The end result was of course some shuffling and better communication.  The end result was a conquering of my internal fear to put others out for the sake of allowing me ‘space’.  I have trouble taking up space.  My friends are laughing now, reading that, I’m sure.  They think I’m rather excellent at being loud and needy and demanding.  Self advocacy is not a pretty graceful thing for me.  My inner child dies a bit every time I have to use my voice for that. 

The dirty little truth about creating an inclusive world for disability, both inside and outside of sport, is that no one really knows what this looks like.  No one really knows the right non-offensive steps to take to get there.  And worse?  Very few people have even thought that this might be a thing, that this might be a need, that this might be necessary as a part of our societal evolution. 

In the meantime, at least I know why I’m here…


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oh Anvil.... Week Two - Don't Forget Your Towel

The Double Anvil (4.8 mile swim, 224 mile bike, 52.4 mile run.. 8% vision)

T-Minus 232 days: 20 hours: 33 minutes: 43 seconds...

I'm glad no one can see me at 4am.  Nix that.  I'm glad no one can hear me at 4am.  Usually singing under my breath, usually daring to fart outloud, usually cursing on my foam roller when I hit the edge of that tight hamstring, usually.... emotionally naked.  Definitely celebrating space and time with every ounce of the best lack of grace I possess.  Walk into a wall, yep I knew that was there.  Tripped on a teenagers shoe, OH MY GOD HE HAS BIG FEET.  Spill coffee while pouring it and cry a little.  Ponder licking it up off the counter. Wonder if cooking bacon now would wake up my house.

Let them sleep.  I have stuff to do.

Week 2 Day 1

4:25am before I find myself self caring on the same over tight right hip flexor that annoyed me last week.  And mmmmm cheerios.  Be the Cheerio.  Then it starts. All the 1980's TV commercials that plague my head... The unsinkable taste of cheerios.  I'd like to be unsinkable.  or something.  Week 2.  Be unsinkable.  But I've looked ahead, I know this week will be tough.  Clients every day, and two outside appointments, a specialist visit and a Birthday, plus transit.  The thing about "appointments" that seems so normal when you read that sentence the first time; it takes orchestration.  Not driving myself, not that 'moveable' in this big city life.  Public transit, favours from friends, makes a one hour appointment that you might fit in a lunch break, an entire half day or more for me. 

Aw well.  Be the Cheerio.  

Today - Bike 30 min, stretch 20 min, strength 35 min, core 11 min

Week 2 Day 2

4am and there's no freezing rain.  A runners bane.  Well yeah.  Black ice everywhere.  Every step a trust and faith balance of tangled hope and a toss up of bravery and cautious adventure.  Close your eyes and run that.  Wait, don't.  You'll likely fall.  And then blame me.  I have convinced friends in the past to run blindfolded.  I'm not certain it frightened them.  I think they got this taste of "wow" that's different.  Mostly I wish they'd stop the minute after the relief of removing the blind fold and think... man it's nice to have the choice to see again.  Disability is a funny thing.  I do not begrudge living in it.  It makes me who I am.  But there are times I begrudge living with a disability in an ablest world that cares very little.  There is no choice, no removal of the blindfold.  It's on.  Etching it's permanence into my milliseconds of this life. 

4:27am and out the door to brave this thankfully not frozen ground.  An hour alone on the roads.  An hour alone interpreting the landscape, the obstacles, the ... wait, is that a third grader?  sending on the corner?  At 5am?  Should I wave?  Debating... logic says a kid that age wouldn't be out here alone now.  But what if?  So I wave.  Just as a car goes by; it's lights illuminating the truth.  It's a paper box.  Well perhaps the paper box was just as lonely as a third grader might have been?  That's okay... I haven't said hello to any firehydrants recently.

Wow this is harder than it should be.  I haven't been running enough. Is that ice?  I haven't run enough. CAR. I hate running batman.... we must be on a hill.  Wait, I must be on a hill.  Stop talking to yourself.  Okay.  Up and up and up and up.  Running.  I feel like a hippo.  Those deadlifts, those lunges, those squats.  Sure I can lift a bit now, just not my arse up this hill!  I love running... we must be on a downhill.  Ugh stop talking to yourself.  As oppose to singing?  Right...  

When I got home I dawdled.  Stayed in the wet cold clothes too long.  Ever done that?  Oh man, it's hard to bounce back from that.  The shiver down to your toes.  The bottoms of my feet blanched white from standing on the chilled tile floor barefoot.  I had a list.  I had a list of things to do.  The stretching, the core, the ... dammit..  teeth a chatter I clambered into the hot shower.  Think I'll pay for this.

The freezing rain came later that afternoon.  It started as rain.  On run number two, thankfully guided, we zigged and zagged and jigged and jogged... on the road to avoid the icy sidewalks.  And there were people.  People everywhere.  People and no darkness to hid in.  I'm so much better at the hiding, at the slipping out into the world unexpected and unseen... There I go, putting myself on the edge again.  Catherine kept talking.  I love that about her.  I don't have to think.  The sound of her voice when it rises ever so slightly as a hazard arises.  I feel it creeping up her spine, what should I call that?  How should I word that?  What if she dies on my watch?  But yet, her story never stops, if anything it quickens.  It rises in tone and pace.  Next are the arms; hands flailing.  That direction over there, and the movement of her body either further or closer to me.  It's kinda scary.  But highly entertaining.  Road guiding offers me more time to interpret.  Once the danger has passed, she congratulates herself by creating the circumstances in which I survived, under her watch.  I love this.  The only real life use of my linguistic anthropology studies.  How articulate the syllables become when blood pressure is raised.  How big of a jump does that pothole require?  These details are intimately intertwined.  

Don't ask me how to guide.  I'd love to learn how to follow you though.  Teach me your language.  Show me how you see the world.

Today: 124 min of running.  And sheets of ice everywhere.

Week 2 Day 3 - 

Disheartened.  Yesterday all I managed to fit in was the running.  Not that I ran out of time, that I couldn't have done better.  Appointments, company, chaos, weather and family.  Today though... I am very aware, the settling stiffness reminds me, that I should not have skipped the stretching.  After all it's in the spreadsheet.  Never doubt the spread sheet.  

The wind is howling outside, across ice patches that formed over my neglected driveway.  Howling like the ghosts of stretches left undone.  I hear it creeping up the fireplace.  Day three is always hill repeats.  I'm no physicist, as my grade 12 math teacher was kind enough to point out, but the wind is always worse on top of them there hills.  

Hills and then a swim. (and when no one is looking, a nap please?)  We run typically up and down the trash heap hills.  I wonder if after yesterdays freezing rain it will be ice?  I know it will be.  I wonder if we will need to change our venue to fireman hills.  These hills are so named after the fire station at the bottom of the hill.  One time I actually saw a fireman running up and down it.  Or perhaps just some random guy with big bold printed letters FIRE on the back of his shirt.  It's a mile around the fireman hill block. One simple mile.  Easy enough right?

Todays swim should be interesting as well, since day one's weight lifting DOMS have kicked in.  Thank you bicep curls.  I don't mind drinking coffee with a straw.  No big deal ... unless you need your arms to, I don't know, stay above the water?  However, I am still pretty excited to have found a pool with a swim time an hour earlier. 

But back to the present, in search of balance in this hip stretch I should have done yesterday.  Why yes, yes I do know exactly what regret feels like.

The run; Round and round the block we go.  Round and round they run me.  Firehall then up and up and up and round and round.  It must be Wednesday Deb?  Feels like fucking ground hog day.  Firehall.  Round and round. Water there, on top of the ice, by the bus stop.  Don't forget that batgirl.  Round and round.  Ice on the right, the crunchy kind, four steps.  Up and up.  The trash heap was complete ice so we retreated to the fireman hill.  One mile loop round and round.  Up and up.  Ice and up and water and bus stop and school kids escaping every which way and where.   Make them stop.  Dodging pompomed hats and stringed mittens. Bags swinging.  They seem so unaware I can't see them.  Unaware we are even there, invading their little walk home from school world.  Not moving, unshifting, rhythm of what they know.  Escaping, stampeding little booger faced munchkins.  Round and round.  The girls keep talking. They keep asking me questions.  I can't talk, are you crazy?  I manage to spit out 'gonna die no talking'.  Ice there, four steps.  round and round, bus stop, firehall. up and up.  

Of course this day I feared boredom in the loop before we even started.  Told them as we topped out on loop two we needed to do ladders, to you know, keep things fresh. What was I thinking?  They're beasts.  Two hills for loop two. Three hills loop three.  Four hills for ... fuck me... loop four.  Because heaven forbid we have a normal boring run.  I can do this.. think about something else.  Ground hogs.  Hedgehogs. Pompoms.  I walked the last maybe 15 meters of the second last hill.  The girls were mad.  Mad mad mad.  Kindly friendly mad.  Accountability can bite me.  It wasn't lost on me I was then put in front of Catherine and beside Debbie on the last lap up.  

I'm certain Catherine knows I'm very afraid of her.  Oh look.  Firehall.  Grin.  Last loop?

We came home and I ate everything.  Popcorn, pepperettes, gluten free pasta with cheese and salt.  Salt.  You know, to stop toe cramps in the pool.  There is a swim to do after all.

What was I thinking?

Today - stretching 30 min, swimming 70 min, running 85 min

Week 2 Day 4 - 

Swollen Ass Syndrome

That's what I said.  Sorry mom.  Blog about redirecting your life around a passion has to be real right?  Oh it will likely get worse. 

Anyway, the SAS; I'm convinced that's what I have.  I self diagnosed this a few days ago.  The signs became obvious.  My underoos are .. ahem... snugger?  my yoga pants don't... ahem, move with the breeze as much.  My stair climbing is easier with stronger legs (I assume).  My deadlifts don't make me as dizzy.  I'm adding pounds to my squats weekly.  But what really gave it away?  Well, truth be told, the law of averages.  

Now wait, don't jump to conclusions.  I'm not getting "math happy" here.  But some things I make use of in my everyday life and stuff.  Not like measuring baking ingredients, but the law of averages.  Like for example, the percentile growth of the amount of times my BBF grabs a handful while walking through the room... Yup, self diagnoses, founded in scientific studies.  That's my statistical analysis; ass-grab-squat-ratio.  Take that Statistics 101... 

In the meantime, I swear this is important.  I took my swollen ass to the pool last night.  I was dreading the cramps.  They seem so unavoidable. I've been waiting to readjust to the whole swimming thing before starting to swim "drills" and practicing different strokes etc.  The cramps have been winning.  Off to the pool I went last night.  BBF set to run loops outside while I swam.  Love is... love is... postponing a run until your batgirlfriend (BGF) is ready to plunge into the chlorine for 70 mins.  Oh and can we drive to a different town?  They happen to have an hour earlier swim... I am a pain in the ass.  The good news is, I have one of those amazing BBF's who's crazy enough to run loops for endless hours (and I mean endless)... just about anywhere.  Love is being fully aware his love of running is way bigger than me?

So I'm swimming. I have to tell you the swimming in open water is so different.  In open water I get to tie myself to you.  I get to shut off completely and just be there.  I get to lose myself to the boyancy and forgiving nature of the water.  I get to trust you'll steer us.  I get to, just, swim.  And man I love that.  I love that feeling of the push back the water gives against my fingertips.  I love knowing that it's a relationship between me and oxygen and effort that keeps me afloat.  I love knowing I can.  For hours I can just... push back and glide through.  Have you ever swam so long the water feels as heavy and thick as jello?  Have you ever swam so far you can't remember how to make your legs work walking under gravity after returning to land?  Have you ever just, meditatited with each stroke?  It's a magical feeling.  Anyway, I'm swimming.  In the pool.  I'm swimming.  And not even 1000m in my feet and calves start to pull and twist.  I'm more than angry.  I even took a salt pill before getting in the water to try and prevent this.  

Pay attention batgirl.  Your body is talking here.  Pay attention.  The water is not your enemy.  Think think think.  Oh man I've been working so hard at building strength.  I even brought my SAS to the swim with me, you'd think... wait a minute.  Wait a minute!  That's it!  What's the point of having glute strength if you aren't going to use it?  Coach's voices in my head... they whisper: If your kick isn't coming from the glute, stop swimming, plank more on land so you float higher in the water.  This is the problem.  This is my issue.  Epiphany.  I was so excited I nearly choked on the water, giggling to myself.

I have been swimming - like a runner.  

Worse.

I have been swimming, like a bloody ultra runner!

Once I corrected the kick, once I started floating my tush higher in the water, my cramps went away.  My swim times were faster by the 100 meter measure and I was actually moving!  Nearly out of breath by the end of my swim, but so so happy to have "solved" this issue.  

Today - bike 70 min... yep that's it.  no stretching AGAIN... this week is just too busy.

Week 2 day 5 - 

The mat under me is laughing.  I hear it laughing. Try to pull this off without stretching.  Try.  You're not 20 you know.  I'm aware. It's my batcub2's 15th birthday today.  Trust me, I'm aware.  Stupid bendy stuff left me.   Oh dear god what was I thinking... Muscle fibres screaming.  They scream while the mat laughs.  Surely this is worse than talking to myself? Shut up mat. Shut up mat, or I'll get my BBF to kick your ass.  Shut up muscle spindles.  

I gotta get out more. 

Or lift stuff.  Maybe I should lift stuff.  Yeah.  That will help.

Note to self; when lifting a snatch, double check ceiling height before starting.

today - stretching 30 min, strength 30 min, run 62 min.

Week 2 Day 6 - 

I've been looking forward to this day.  I've been craving it.  A chance to take my batcub3, so eager eyed and hungry, out for a run.  A chance for him to realize he's a superstar.  9 year old and 5k together.  I hope he remembers this stuff.  I hope he looks back and thinks wow... life skills... I did that.  We did that. Maybe life gets hard, maybe it gets carried away, maybe it takes your breath away sometimes.  But we can use that energy for something.  All my cubs were with me in Boston in the bad year.  They all have to deal with a different side of the coin we shared that day.  I hope they don't forever associate running with "running away", with terror and fear.  I hope they can join others and run together like this often.  Or at least participate.  Volunteer.  Build community.  

Inclusive community.

Today - 90 min of running.  But more importantly watching my batcub3 smile and feel proud.

Week 2 day 7 -

family focus regroup day... unplanned rest day.  It appears we're under attack by some plague... And man I shoulda stretched more.

End of week thoughts?  Training is tough.  Not the training part, the fitting it in part, the deciding if you're sick or just lazy and tired.  The inner voice struggles are so present on a down week.  Why did I pick such a crazy goal?  What was I thinking?  Listening to your body is key.  Knowing that sometimes you need to push through and other times not.  My biggest concern... learning is not as important these days as 'unlearning'.  Unpacking old beliefs and baggage is going to be a big big issue for the next few months me thinks.  

Do you have things to let go of?