Crazy Runs and Mountains

One lovely summer evening, my friend Tamara and I were running by the river. Tamara, you should know (because it’s relevant to this story), is a little bit crazy. She runs crazy races in crazy costumes and thinks nothing of getting up crazy early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to run 10k.

I should have kept this in mind when registering for a race she told me about.

Alas, I didn’t think about any of that (which might have been because she bought me ice cream after that run by the river). Instead all I heard was “Banff” and “night race” and “glow sticks.” I heard “five miles” and mentally translated that to 8k and decided all of those factors added up to a race that I should register for. I’d get to run in the mountains in one of my favourite towns, it would be my first night race, and the distance was just enough to push me to run a little bit more than I had been. So I registered, booked us into a hotel for the weekend, and considered myself quite adventurous.

Somewhere between registering and race weekend I started thinking of the race as 5k (instead of five miles), and it wasn’t until I was talking to a co-worker last week about our weekend plans that I remembered. “Um, isn’t that race five miles?” she asked. “Um, shit,” I thought. Yes. Yes, it is. Ah well. I’m sure it will be fine, I figured.

Racers in the dark near the start line

Racers in the dark near the start line

And then race day came and we headed out of town. My mom (who always manages to catch these things) saw on Twitter that the race course had been changed because there was a Grizzly on the original course (and I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t want to be eaten by a large, hungry, male Grizzly who’s stocking up before hibernating for the winter). And I looked at the description of the race and realized the course had us running straight up a mountain road. The original course, which I hadn’t bothered to check because adventurous people don’t worry about these things, also had us running straight up a mountain road, but there was also, I think, more of an over-and-around element to the original course. The revised course was pretty much exactly straight up the mountain and then straight back down again.

Did I mention it was snowing?

It had snowed all day and I’d been up that mountain road many times before (by car, thank you very much) so I knew how long and steep it was (and how icy it would be coming back down) and I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

I couldn’t do much but ignore the butterflies in my stomach and put on my Yaktrax and see what happened.

Glow sticks going byRunners with glow sticks

What happened—the details—doesn’t really matter. It was part painful and part exhilarating, part dark and slippery and part beautiful. It went from a ridiculous-sounding idea to actually quite fun.

Mostly, it was a reminder that every once in a while we all need to do something just a little bit crazy.

 

I’m joining Greta from Gfunkified as co-host of #iPPP (or iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. Link up below!

GFunkified

Lacing Up

I’ve had lots of excuses for not running in the last 18 months. At first it was because we had just moved and there was a lot of snow on the ground and I didn’t really feel like breaking my neck. And then I got pregnant. And then I had just had a baby. And then there was snow on the ground again.

Then my husband got me some Yaktrax, which removed my fear that I might break my neck. The first time I wore them it was -18C (about 0F) and I managed to stay warm enough and figured I was good to go. But then in January I twisted my ankle and I stopped running, and I didn’t really start again.

I started to think maybe I wasn’t a runner anymore. I was feeling too old and achey. My knees weren’t cooperating. I was sucking wind and generally feeling like all my running mojo had veered off the path and run away without me.

I did other things. Boot camps and Jillian Michaels workouts and yoga. Long walks with big hills. Pilates. All of which were fine, but I didn’t find myself in any of them. There was a piece of me missing.

So I took to the trails again.

I’ve walked a lot in our area in the short time we’ve been here, but when I started running I didn’t yet have my go-to running routes the way I used to. And we live on a ridge, so no matter what direction I go I end up coming home on a hill. But still, I ran. I looped out and back, and followed paths. I found some trails and ran them to see where they went. I still sucked wind, but I was running. I had no particular thoughts about it; it just seemed good enough.

This morning when I got up I re-evaluated my planned run. My knees were complaining and I was sore after a challenging yoga practice last Wednesday and a stroller fit class on Friday. I was feeling like I’d been working hard and maybe skipping a run wouldn’t be a bad thing.

And then I got inspired and figured I’d do a short one. It was my day to walk the dog anyway.

If you follow my Facebook page you know how it turned out. I got to the end of the “out” part of my planned out-and-back and saw the entry to a path I hadn’t seen before. So I went down it. To make an hour-long story short, I got lost. After following a series of paths I ended up way, way down at the bottom of a glen and, just as I was starting to wonder where the trail came out, it ended.

end of paved path

Apparently this is where the sidewalk ends.

I have no idea why the trail ends there. At some point, someone must have decided that was all they were going to do. Or maybe they ran out of asphalt.

In any case, I found my mojo. It was down at the bottom of a glen, waiting for me on a rainy Sunday morning.

I’m a runner again.

Wrap-Up: 30 Days of Exercise

It’s done. I did it. I managed to get some form of exercise for 30 days straight, thus knocking off another item on my life list. Final evaluation? It’s not so hard.

Let me explain.

When I put that item on my list I had no intention of trying to do hard core exercise for 30 days in a row. I just wanted to push myself to move. Admittedly, I have a fairly specific idea of what constitutes exercise and my goal was to exercise every day and not just say, “Meh, that counted.” Well, my friends, I think I had three days where I determined at the end of the day that what I had done that day was just gonna count. That’s the way life works sometimes, and I’m okay with it. (Mostly.)

Having said that, some observations:

  • A loose definition of exercise worked better for this than a strict one. If I had forced myself to bust my butt for 30 days in a row I probably would have psyched myself out by day four. And I didn’t push myself to do 30 minutes every day. Sometimes 20 minutes of yoga is enough. 20 minutes of Jillian Michaels’s 30 Day Shred is definitely enough.
  • My determination in the beginning to focus on the goal of getting outside more — to get fresh air and just be in that moment — was one of the best parts about this. I breathed it in, and it felt damn good.
  • It helps to sweat. The three days that I decided I could count, but just barely, involved walking. I did some intentional walking on a few of the 30 days and really walked - I went long and far and hard. I did hills. I walked until it made me sweat. On the days I just strolled, I sort of felt like it wasn’t really enough.
  • I need to incorporate more yoga into my life. I knew this already and that was one of the reasons I was excited about this challenge. In the end I did more yoga than I had originally intended (which was partly due to rolling my ankle halfway through the month) but it left me in a much more calm and centred place. My flexibility is better for it too.
  • Variety is good. Variety is very good.
  • I really like a good, push-yourself, kick-your-own-ass workout. I need to do that more often. Jillian Michaels and I will continue to be friends.
  • I like running. I miss running. I’m incredibly annoyed that I hurt my ankle because it put me off running for a good part of the 30 days.

So there you have it. Not so hard and, in the end, really kind of beautiful.

snowy path

30 Days Straight

Today is January 2nd (for a little while yet, anyway), which means yesterday was January 1st and therefore the 2nd anniversary of this blog. I didn’t have a post about that yesterday because, frankly, I always feel that if I write something on the first of the year it should be profound. And yesterday I wasn’t feeling very profound. So instead I’ll now say the usual things, like I can’t believe it’s been two years. And I‘m grateful to have this space and the people I have encountered through it. Truly – I thank all of you who read and comment and share. My life is undoubtedly richer because of you.

How’s that for a cursory celebration? I do like to acknowledge these things, but right now I’d rather just get on with living life instead of writing about how I write about living life.

The living I’m doing right now relates to my post about taking on a challenge to exercise for 30 days straight. When my friend Melissa first challenged me to tackle that item on my life list I started to regret having put that silly idea on there. But as Christmas crept past and the food kept coming and the couch kept calling I decided it was a good thing someone was willing to push me. So I began to psych myself up for it and figure out what variety of things I wanted to do over the 30 days, both so I could manage it after being less than active for the last while and so I wouldn’t get bored after a week.

And then the day came.

And I started!

I started the 30 days by going for a run yesterday. It was beautiful – I went later in the day than I had intended (entirely due to small people’s needs and not at all because of lack of motivation) but in doing so I caught the sunset. And I looked out over the roofs of the houses in our community and was treated to a gorgeous glimpse of the Rockies, which fill up my soul every day.

mountain-sunset

I ran alone, with no agenda other than completing 30 minutes. I zigged through our neighbourhood and zagged down trails just to see where they went. I passed people sledding as the sun went down and the lights in the houses behind them came on. I encountered two other solo runners with whom I exchanged The Look. The one that says, “We’re alive and we’re out here and isn’t it beautiful?

sledding

I kept running, knowing I was taking myself father than a 30-minute out-and-back required. I turned onto one street because I hadn’t been down it before and chose another because it had pretty Christmas lights. And when my 30 minutes was up I stopped.

I ended up a little way from home, which was ultimately sort of deliberate because I figured I could use the cool down, but I so enjoyed the alone time. It was cold enough that I could feel every breath deep in my lungs, and early enough in the lateness of the day that the sky glowed.

mountain-sunset2

And that’s why I put this item on my life list in the first place. Because when I get out there it’s good for me and I notice things and I feel happy.

That’s why I wanted to do it, so I’ll keep doing it. For 28 more days. And probably more.

 

I’m using the hash tag #30daysstraight on Twitter and Instagram if you want to follow along. As well, another friend has joined in starting today, and if you want to try this too I would love to hear about it. 

Striiver’s Log, Week 2

This is the second week of logging my activity with my Striiv fitness device and Coach Striiv kicked it up a notch this week. Here’s how it went down.

Wednesday 

Went to Calgary for the day and had to take my Striiv off at airport security. Damn, six precious steps not counted! Then when I got to the Calgary airport there was a moving sidewalk. I love those, but Coach Striiv wouldn’t let me on it. Had to walk on my own, she said. Gotta admit it felt kind of good powering past all the people standing there gliding along on the moving sidewalk.

On my way back I had some time to kill before boarding so I decided to wander down to Starbucks. Came across this:

Starbucks sign

How did they know?!

Thursday

Coach Striiv apparently doesn’t differentiate between normal walking steps and the running-around-like-a-chicken-with-head-cut-off kind. Crazy, ridiculous day. But I got enough credits to donate a day’s worth of fresh water to a child in South America!

Starting to obsess about building things in MyLand. Got greedy and built some cool things, but only have the foundation. My Tree of Ages is in place but I need more energy credits to get it to grow. Must focus.

foundation of Striiv's Tree of Ages

Getting started

Friday 

Last day of work. Walked up to get a hug from Rita, who’s nearing the end of The Year of Hugging Fearlessly. Great hug that put me in a good mood, so I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and go for a walk. I even did some challenges. Coach Striiv was impressed.

Home from work and the husband was tired. Graciously offered to take the dog for a walk so he didn’t have to. Got some energy credits and ended up at over 10,000 steps for the day. (That’s harder than I would have thought. Noted, Coach Striiv.)

Saturday

Coach Striiv put the pressure on today, so I went for a run. Ran around the bog and somehow managed to end up on a big hill right in the middle of a hard challenge. Coach Striiv pushed me on. No stopping! It worked and I got to grow my Tree of Ages and my Greek Vineyard. Nice!

Striiv's Trees of Ages

After my run - enough to grow to the next stage!

Went out for dinner with friends, which turned into a bit of a bar hop. Stepped right through midnight and already had some credits toward Sunday. Partying does pay off!

Sunday

Hit the museum this morning for one last visit before we move. Some good walking but our visit was at a three-year-old’s pace so we didn’t stay too long.

Lots of packing in the afternoon, which doesn’t add up to many steps. I want credit for being on my feet all day, but Coach Striiv won’t budge. Threw in another dog walk with some challenges to get my step count up.

Striiv on a trail

Striiving through fall

Monday 

More packing. A little low on steps throughout the day until we started loading things into the moving container. Got energy credits and some extra for the stairs, so I guess there’s that. Then a dog walk again. Never been so motivated to walk this dog in my life.

Tuesday 

Last day of the challenge. More packing (when does it end?) and some stairs. The toddler got antsy in the afternoon so I took him and the dog out for a walk. Did some challenges, even though it was pouring rain. Coach Striiv has this motivation thing down to an art.

Ended up at almost 47,000 steps by the end of the week. I donated three days’ worth of water and collected a whole bunch of trophies.

I really like this Striiv – it’s a great motivator with enough different things to keep it interesting. I love the MyLand game (similar in concept to Farmville for those who are familiar with that, though not nearly as annoying) but I really want to get far enough to unlock the next level. I guess I’m going to have to keep walking the dog!

 

I was not compensated for this but I would like to thank Striiv for providing the device to support our Just.Be.Enough. challenge. 

Want a Striiv of your own? You have the change to win one, along with some other cool prizes, at our Twitter party on November 29th. See the Striiv wrap-up post on Just.Be.Enough. for details. You’ll also have a second chance by linking up with Be Enough Me on Monday, November 28. The prompt for this week is: What are you striving for?