Sunday, 12 April 2015

Swimming

Been a while on this blog. My days are busy, and when it involves telling the world what I'm doing or thinking, I go to Instagram or Twitter to broadcast it. I just don't have the time or energy anymore to lay out a well thought out blog post about my doings as I previously used to do.

That being said, I feel like I need to start this up again, just to tell people where I am. My blog - just like my fitness and activities - needs a reboot.

So, for the first time in many, many, MANY years (like 35 years ago - wow, do I ever sound old!!), I went swimming. In a lap pool. Real laps.

Keith and Michelle had been bugging encouraging me for some time about swimming. Keith has done triathlons and Michelle is learning to swim and honing those swim skills towards doing her first tirathlon. In fact, she just did awesomely in an indoor sprint triathlon  - so proud of her!

So...on an early Saturday morning last Easter weekend, we met at Talisman to swim.

To be more accurate, they were there to swim, and I was there to see if I was comfortable in the water, remembered any kind of swimming, and then try out my ability to do laps.

It took me close to an hour to even feel comfortable being in the water...or rather, putting any part of my head in the water. I bobbed around and splashed and kicked and tried doggy paddling down the lane. Michelle was very kind to give me lots of tips, knowing how nervous I might be, as she was once the first time she swam. I wouldn't admit it to her then, but I was fearful...not necessarily of the water, since I knew I could put my head in the water and float and even front crawl (if I didn't have to breathe). I was really just fearful that after all these years, I would super hate the pool or hate doing anything like swimming, other than splashing around with my kid when she was a toddler. In the kiddie pool.

However, Michelle was very kind to help me through the change rooms at Talisman, as it was my first time there. She offered a safe spot for my glasses, as I was concerned somehow losing them at the pool. Then reminding me how to breathe and kick my feet and move my hands and arms, how to tread water. She shared a lot of her experience of her first time swimming. All these helped me slowly gain reassurance and confidence at the pool, even before getting into the water.

By the time the first hour had passed, I felt comfortable enough in the water to do a backfloat, which involved immersing my ears in the water. It was weird at first, so I almost didn't like it but I had to give myself a shake and a reality check, to come to the realization that in fact I did NOT hate having my ears in the water. After a little while, it felt ok and then I began to kick with my legs. As gained more confidence still once I started moving and before I knew it, I was fluttering my hands by my sides and moving a little faster.

Keith also helped me a lot with some times, giving me feedback on what I was doing right and tips to help me do better. He is a very encouraging guy and if he would be coach, I'd totally go with him! He told me that I started at about the same level as Michelle when she started, which surprised me greatly, as she is doing such a great job and swimming so fast after just a few months of swimming! He gave me some tips as well and even went so far as to suggest how to move my arms more on my backfloat/swim/crawl/etc. so I could cover more distance. It was fantastic!

Between giving myself time to immerse myself in the water, encouragement from Keith and sharing and tips from Michelle, I found myself enjoying the water again, and being amazed at the progress - skill-wise, distance-wise and especially confidence-wise - in my swimming. Turns out I could put my ears in the water, face in the water, and even open my eyes in the water. The challenge? Breathing under water. Trivial but lots for me to learn about it!

Where to go from here? Well, I am a long way from doing a triathlon...if I ever do one. But now I feel like I could eventually achieve more than I ever did in my entire life. I feel like proper swimming does not in fact suck. And that I really super like swimming on my back right now. I still have to take the time to get used to putting my face in the water and learning to breathe between strokes; important skills if I'm going to do a front crawl one of these days.

I would love to join Keith and Michelle whenever they swim but they have their own training and swimming to do, while I feel that I am still exploring the swim. I have ability to commit to swim times, between work and my kid's schedules and running and some biking thrown in there too. However, I'm hoping that there is an opportunity for at least the next 6 weeks to swim laps with hubby. Plus my kid tells me that she "will teach me to swim!"

I hope that I will be able to front crawl 25 m by the time she is able to. And that time is very close, since she is already starting to front crawl about 10 m. We'll see about that.

Monday, 27 October 2014

An Unhappy Update: Rock and Roll Vancouver Half Marathon

Yesterday I was supposed to run my 3rd #halfmarathon, the #RNRVan, Rock n Roll Vancouver. However, a lip of sidewalk during a post-work #running commute to meet my family changed all that. Instead in shorts and tee, I had a spectacular fall and skinned my elbow, gouged chunks of skin from my knee and wrecked my toe.

I was a bloody mess. At least it was mostly scratches and bruises, despite the bleeding. A suspected broken big toe was the worst of it.

In spite of my injuries just 48 hours before my flight, I still went to Vancouver. I still went to the RnR Vancouver Expo to pick up my bib and shirt, even though I wouldn't be wearing either on race day.
I enjoyed the expo, and I still felt the excitement and joy of being at a race, anticipating race day. I still felt excited for my friends, even for my sister-in-law, all from different walks of life, to run or walk their respective races.

On race day, I followed them on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, cheering on their successes and looking enviously at their medals. I wanted my finisher medal too; but it was not to be.

I'm happy to say that my injuries from that spectacular fall are slow but surely healing. The inflammation and consequent swelling has stopped; recovery has already begun. While I couldn't walk or even sit without elevating my foot, I can do both 48 hours later for a few hours at a time.

The physical wounds, in spite of the pain, are nothing. They will heal in time. But I am trying to heal my mental running state, my shaken and broken confidence in my ability to run a half marathon race. I think that will take much longer.

It's a crazy thing, the mental aspect of running. It can do so much for you, and yet it can crush you so fast and so deeply. Right now, I feel like I could never run another half marathon race again, because it feels like I almost always kill myself just before a race. And therefore, I have to drop out of the race or pass out after the race.

I'm an accountant. I hate wasting money. I hate missed opportunities even more.

Maybe I am bitter. I most certainly hope I'm not, I don't ever plan to be. I will gladly run a half marathon distance on my training runs. But I'm not sure I ever want to try and prepare for another half marathon race again.

It's heart-breaking after all my running challenges this year.

As a running year, 2014 sucks.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Transplant Trot 10k Race Recap

The 3rd week of April was National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. This week has always been a very important and very special week to me, as I had my kidney transplant surgery that week. Naturally, being a kidney transplant recipient, organ donation awareness is important to me.

(photo courtesy of Michelle)


The Saturday of that week, all across Canada, the Transplant Trot is held to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation. This year's Transplant Trot was extra special to me on several levels. First is raising awareness of organ donation. Second is that this year, the Calgary Transplant Trot is holding running races, in the 5k and 10k distances. But most of all, the Transplant Trot is being held on the 8th anniversary of my kidney transplant. 

My hubby, the donor, and me about 3 days post-transplant/post-surgery

I've had my husband's kidney for 8 years and it has enabled me to do so much. Especially so in running, where I never thought I would ever run more than 400 m, never mind a half marathon distance of 21.1 km!

This particular race last Saturday April 26 was also important to me, as it was my first race after my first half marathon, the Hypothermic Half. [That's a blog post which I still owe you all; I promise one day I'll recap that!] It was also my first race since I was hospitalized with sepsis after a 12k LSD run. While I bounced back quickly and was out of the hospital in 2 days, the physical recovery took a lot longer than expected. And the confidence I had in my body to run these distances were shattered for a time.

The race took place in the fields behind the South Fish Creek Rec Centre (basically behind the Shawnessey YMCA). It was a one mile loop around a soccer field and stormwater/overflow pond, as you can see in the map below:

1 mile loop for the 10k race, run 6 times over.
I showed up in good time which was excellent as I ran into so many friends from Kidney March and from the 2012 Canadian Transplant Games in Calgary. I was also elated to see that the Transplant Trot had the support of a number of the City Councillors (past and present), who all showed up to walk the Trot:

With fellow Kidney Marcher Tina and (past) Councillor Rick McIver (photo courtesy of Michelle)


Had a great time catching up with them all before it was time to head outside, warm up and start the race.

At the "start line" (photo courtesy of Keith)
Once we headed out, the run around the soccer field wasn't so bad, it was grass. Then we commenced on the path around the pond, and it was ok too, all gravel.

Then we hit the mud. And the pools of water. The gravel paths around the pond were flooded with water, and made for some muddy bits. I nearly lost a shoe to the hungry, grabby mud! After that first loop, I nearly had half a mind to just run to the finish line and be done with it, haha! But that would have made the part of me which was determined to run a 10k race really unhappy and unfulfilled. So it was on to the next muddy loop. And it was muddy:

Mud, and lots of it, all the way up to my @$$ (photo courtesy of Michelle)
It was a lot of extra work to run in these conditions, and made me think that all I needed was tree branches while running a mountain - perfect, challenging trail run. But I really had to focus, bc between the mud, ankle-deep water, and gravel and grass, I really suffered the first few kms as it was very hard work to put my body in running mode again.

The volunteers were fantastic and cheered all of us on. They were trying to help me count down the laps, and many thought I was already on my last lap when I had one more to go. Thanks for thinking so highly of my ability to run, but I just don't run that fast!!

I was also encouraged by my friends Keith and Michelle, who cheered me on, took pictures and generally hung out with me to chat and provide encouragement by the side of the race just when I needed it the most.

By the last lap, I started enjoying running through the varied terrain. By then, I knew where to avoid the mud, generally by running on the grass by the side of the path or through the ankle deep water on the gravel. I thanked every volunteer since I felt a kinship with them, having seen them 6 times, getting their encouragement and well wishes. I was very happy to see the finish line:

Heading to the finish line, as taken by Michelle

Sprint to the finish, as taken by Keith

I crossed the finish at 1:04:30!! For a moment I thought it was a PB; then I realized that the race course was only 9.5k distance. However, once I was done, I did a self-assessment of my body and my mental state. I felt awesome! No nausea, no pains or aches, just a sense of well being and achievement. I think the smile here said it all.


I'm done!!! 1st 10k race this year! (photo courtesy of Keith)