Tag Archives: Running

Oreo brownies and the Deception of Sunshine

Sunshine can be deceptive. Sunshine can glisten and warm everything up with light without actually adding any heat to the air. Sunshine can’t stop wind from blowing.

Sunshine can make you optimistically pull on your bright pink running shirt and slip into your baby blue, slightly chewed running shoes. It can give you a little bit of a boost as you run with the wind, pushing yourself a little farther than you should, enjoying the feeling of the strength in your legs and the sun in your eyes.

But, like I said, the sun can’t stop the wind. It can’t prevent the wind from blowing so hard as you turn back for home that you’re not sure if you’re even moving much anymore. It can’t warm up a face so frozen and wind-burnt that you can’t feel it and every face twinge feels odd.

Just don’t forget about the cyclist who, as she passed you in her layers of scarves and appropriate cycling clothes, grinned and said, “Good for you!” And don’t forget about the brownie waiting for you when you get back, chocolatey and delicious. These other bits of sunshine can’t stop the wind either, but they can keep you going, over the hill and back up the long, steep driveway of your parents’ house.

And don’t worry. That feeling like you’re going to pass out? It will pass.

(I ran 5.3 km on Sunday with the help of one green-clad cyclist and these tasty brownies, made by my mom who used the recipe from How Sweet It is.)

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Run, Mocha, Run!

Mocha can be both the best running partner and the worst.

Just looking at her, you wouldn’t think she runs at all. She’s a small dog. Last we weighed her, she was a grand total of 13 pounds, just about the same size as my parent’s monstrous cat. She’s got long legs, yes, and they seem to get longer every day, but they look more like the frolicking kind of legs than the long distance running kind.

She is an amazing frolicker. For Thanksgiving, we took her to M’s parent’s place. They have a beautiful backyard, a hill that descends from their back porch to a tree-framed creek. The weather was beautiful, and Mocha was in love with the feel of clean, thick grass under her feet (or maybe that was me… I’m getting sick of concrete already). She frolicked. There is not other word for how she bounded down the hill chasing butterflies and little invisible monsters, and then turned to rip back up the hill to where we sat watching her in a couple bright yellow Adirondack chairs.

Ever since we brought her home, I have been determined that, when she’s old enough, she will be my constant running partner. But what’s old enough? And, if you wait too long, will she get so confused by the process, being so unfamiliar with long-distance running, that she’s hopeless at running in a straight line with no purpose but to run? Having no answers to these questions, I decided getting her running sooner rather than later was the best idea, even if those running excursions were just 1km or less in length. Now that she’s almost 6 months, I decided it was time to test her out with something a little longer.

Of course, this decision perfectly coincides with my yearly running itch, the time when, suddenly, I’m feeling like I’m spending far too much time in doors and not nearly enough time exercising. It’s kind of a sucky time. I start to feel fat (even though I’m not) and lazy (even when I’m not) and my motivation to put on my running shoes spikes through the roof for what seems like no reason. Last week, I put my runners on for the first time in weeks and clipped Mocha’s leash on at the same time. This week, I’m determined to make good use of our evenings.

Monday’s run was just under 4K. Yesterday’s was just over 5K. Today is our rest day.

Mocha is, to say the least, the most adorable runner you have ever seen. When she hits her groove, you can see her focus. Her ears flop around and her legs move so smoothly. At first, she would try to trip me, make me stop. But now, she seems to enjoy the movement. She yips at me when I slow down too much, or pulls out in front to tug on her leash and get me going faster. Even at my full speed, she’s tugging at the leash. After a bit of a lengthy sprint, she wouldn’t let me slow to a walk for any more than a minute. Her energy is constant, never diminishing.

But, then we meet another dog. And suddenly, it doesn’t matter that we were doing so well. Mocha is a little social butterfly, and if she doesn’t get her nose kisses, she’ll pull in the wrong direction until they’re out of sight or I give in. And once we’re in the park, we might as well just give up, especially if there’s a playful looking black squirrel.

I don’t know how she feels about our runs. I hope she likes them as much as I do. I hope I don’t push her too much. My favourite part about them, though, is not the running: I love curling up with a tired dog on the couch and having a sleepy snuggle a couple hours after we get back.

I have never seen her sleep so hard.

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Re-running

It’s a little muddy out there still. A little wet. I arrive home with cold feet and sopping socks, but the ache in my legs and core feels great. I am running again.

My shoes look a lot more like this

than like they did when I bought them just under a year ago.

(No, they’re not actually changing colour. You know what I mean.)

I can’t run as far yet, of course, or as long. But so far, I’ve been doing pretty well, especially considering I haven’t been running for approximately 6 months. 4.2 km on Sunday. 4.8 km on Tuesday. Not a bad start.

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Athleticism versus physical fitness

When I was a kid in elementary school, I was actually an athlete. Surprised? I used to play volleyball, soccer, and even road hockey. I ran cross country and even won track and field for my division at my school every year from grade 4 or so to grade 7.

Grade 8 I was angsty and uninterested. I think that’s where the downward turn happened. I didn’t get along with the type of girls that played sports. I prefered solo activities like piano and writing. In grade 9, I quit playing soccer and turned solely to other artistic pursuits.

Sometimes, like this weekend, I regret that decision. M is athletic. He plays volleyball, hockey, badminton. This weekend, he had a volleyball tournament in Belleville. While he played and had fun, I sat on the bleachers and tried to catch enough of the game so I could at least know if they won or lost. A lot of the time, I was bored stiff. While being bored, I found myself thinking about how my life could have gone in a very different direction. What if I had stopped playing piano instead of soccer? Perhaps I would have become a team player and far more of a people person than I am.

I doubt, however, that I would be in better shape. For about 40 minutes, the length of one of M’s volleyball games, I went for a run. (Through a cemetery, at that. On Halloween.) I think, with the help of my mother, my childhood athleticism has transitioned into a desire for physical fitness. Instead of playing a sport, I’d prefer to run for an hour. I find myself competitive against myself. I enjoy walking for 25 minutes to get to school in the mornings and in the evenings.

M is athletic. I focus on being in shape. I just hope we can maintain what we’ve got as we get older.

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Beep test

My mom is taking a course in fitness of some kind as she works toward her certificate in kinesiology distance ed from our Rural Ontario farm. (If you remember, I may have mentioned my personal trainer from time to time in this blog. That’s her.)

For her course, she needs to do fitness assessments on people. She asked me and of course, being the good daughter that I am, I agreed. After our final wedding dress shopping trip, we found a flat space and pretended I was on a track to do the first phase of it: walking, then running.

And then, tonight, I did the second phase on my own at the Catholic school track down the street.

A *&@#^%$ Beep test!

I did one in high school. It was torture then and it wasn’t much less torture now. The requirement is that you run 20 meters in shorter and shorter lengths of time, signified by beeps. When I failed the first beep after level 5 was called, I gave up and packed it in. It took all of 10 minutes, at the very most and took me well over 30 minutes to regain composure. If I hadn’t been feeling so terrible, I might have gone for a run in the dark on that beautiful track.

I’m going to get M to do the beep test this weekend. Aren’t I evil?

All complaining aside, it was kind of cool. And, I’ll admit, somewhat affirming. Turns out level 5 is a fair score and nothing, really, to be ashamed of! Perhaps I should set a goal? Reach level 6 before Christmas, level 7 before the wedding?

Or maybe not.

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One run a week…

…is all I’ve been managing to do with this new routineless routine of school. Fortunately, I have a fiance who encourages physical fitness and reminds me that I like to run, so I haven’t fallen off the track completely. I’m still contemplating the half marathon here in my city, which is run next April or May. How crazy would it be to be training and running a marathon in the same month as my wedding?

According to this show I’ve been watching, Rich Bride Poor Bride, it would be absolutely crazy. Apparently, planning my wedding is supposed to make both me and M horrible people, especially to each other. Watching the show, I’ve learned what NOT to do.

Anyway, back on topic. My run!

4.39 km

30:18 minutes

Average pace: 6.8min/km

Not such a great pace. But, it felt good, so I’m not dwelling on it. I’m going to M’s parents’ place this weekend. I’m going to bring my running clothes in case there’s time to go for a run. Sometimes just being in a different place, taking a route I’ve never taken before is all the motivation I need.

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Week 7

Despite reaching my goal of 4-5 days a week for 6 weeks, I’m still running. I’ve taken a break from morning running though. I wonder if the trick is to change my routine every 6 weeks to keep myself interested and my body going.

Running in the evening means my body had more resources to run longer. No way could I do such a long run in the mornings. No time, no food.

I took a picture of myself after a good run last week just so you can see how funny I look when I run.

Yesterday’s run, 5:30.

9.1 km

58:13 minutes

6.4 average pace.

I walked a bit, I’ll admit. And I was hoping for 10K, but since I don’t have GPS and didn’t map out my run before hand, I was a single, measly km out. Still, it was a good run.

It will be the only one this week too. I need to let up on myself and try to not feel like such a failure when I don’t run. Running should not be an activity of guilt.

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Week 6, Day 5

1.3km

7:20 minutes

Pace approximately 5.6 min/km.

I grumbled my way out of bed this morning, decided I didn’t want a repeat of the past two days’ horrible runs. So yes, you’re reading my post right. I ran for less than 10 minutes this morning. And I’m glad I did it. I’m both glad that I didn’t force myself when I didn’t want, but also glad that I still managed to get out.

I came back and did a solid half hour with my resistance bands. They’re no where near as effective as free weights (perhaps mostly because I actually know what I’m doing with free weights?) but, I figured, better than nothing.

Week’s summary

18.7 km

119.17 minutes

Average pace 6.4 min/km

It’s THE wedding weekend! Rehearsal tonight! Wedding tomorrow! Family reunion (for the other side) on Sunday.

I’m contemplating sneaking away for an hour or so on Sunday and borrowing my mother’s bike, if she’ll let me and if the weather’s good. Either that, or a 10K run around the block.

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I write blog posts in my head while I run

Week 6

Day 3

5.8km

39.12 minutes (this is a bit of an estimate: I did not wield my stopwatch well this morning.)

Average pace 6.74 min/km

It was a horrible, horrible run this morning. As if that wasn’t obvious from my pace.

I just didn’t want to go. Every step, I had to fight with myself to not stop and start walking. It started to rain on me on the last leg of the large block I ran. And I cramped up in the last 500m. There’s something about that route, maybe the steeper hills, that causes me to cramp up at the very end. Painfully.

I finished strong though. Mostly. Lured my cat out from under my neighbour’s porch with treats and got out of the rain far later than I would have liked. Late for work this morning, not that there is any.

Buckle up for a bad day.

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Week 6, Day 2

5.5 km

34.14 minutes

6.2 minutes/km

What’s my goal anyway? What’s the point of keeping track if I don’t have much of a goal, just a vague hope for improvement?

The run felt good today. But every twinge as my body warms up is starting to worry me. I’ve been reading far too many blogs by runners trying to recover from injury. I wonder if I do enough to warm up. If I do enough to stretch things out afterwards. If I push myself too much to speed up or go just a little farther during my run.

Either way, it felt good. I’m feeling good.

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