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? 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Let The Anvil Fall.... Week One: I WAS IN THE POOL!

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

T-Minus 242 days 11 hours 31 minutes and 50 seconds...

Well sometimes I think this training blind stuff is 'normal'.  I guess that's true, since it is MY normal.  Sometimes I think it's annoying.  Organizing the run based on availability of guide, or in the cover of darkness.  Speaking to the life guard and other lane occupants to explain why I may unknowingly swim directly into them.  Or why I may walk into the mens change room from time to time.  Sometimes I think it's entertaining.

Once in a while I remember I'm doing it for reasons outside of myself; to work towards creating change in this highly ablest world of disability and sport.  

They call this "training"; I'm not so sure?  One week and I'm cringing at the thought of setting tomorrow's alarm. I'm dreading the calculations of minutes, seconds, distance, and calories.  Dreading may not the right word.  I'm desperately attempting to out-source my math.  I'm texting my son in class time to ask conversion on units.  I'm emailing pictures of my bike pedometer (sorry maybe that's a cadence monitor?) of before and after my ride, to my BBF  (batboyfriend) to read and subtract because not only can I not see it, I have no clue how to reset it.

And then there's the spreadsheet.  Don't get me started. Suffice to say glitter glue and coloured pencils don't help me with averages and percentiles.  The ceiling on this is too high.  I out-sourced the creation of my spreadsheet too.

And now, on a Sunday night I sit with my Batgirl journal, all its lines etched in ink and minutes averaged out, and the calendar, and the appointment book, and the work schedule and yes... even the days I need an extra three minutes in the shower to shampoo my hair.  I guess, making the plan, is a bit like making my own map.  How to get there - this place where I am that person who can swim 4.8 miles tethered to a near stranger, tandem bike 224 miles with the same near stranger and then run a double marathon guided by what I can only assume will be a tired not so strange stranger, in 36 hours - from here.  Here. Where the heck is that anyway?

Either way, I decided the plan is 35 weeks long and if I don't write about the chaos in my head as the journey goes... Well then I might actually explode, or at the very least drive my family nuts. So how did week one go?  Oh boy.. let me open a door for you, paint a picture for you...

Jan 30 2017, week 1, day 1 -

When I was little, I never wrote the year on anything.  It was as if I didn't expect life to be quite that big that it took up so much space; that one calendar seemed enough.  Twelve entire pages.  Isn't that long enough?  Don't they know how long that is?  I can hardly wait until dinner, let alone 11 move pages.

When I was a teenager I never wrote the year.  It was an absolute defiance that one day I might forget I'm here now, living this.  Isn't once bloody well enough?  I remembered everything dammit.  How could you forget such things?  I'll not grow old anyway.  Too many pages for me.

.... too many pages for me.

Oh but how I love the blank page.  Its offerings, its peace, its pure potential in time and space.  Imagine all the possibilities in the world, all the worlds you could write about, create, invent... the stories you might spin. Yet I always land exactly here.  In my head just here.  Rehashing the obvious lack of dates over too many pages.  Forever counting down, or up, to ... something.  Usually with cold tea perched close by, wondering if any of it means something at all.

Today - swim 53 min, strength 39 min, core 15 min, run 61 min

Jan 31 2017, week 1, day 2 -

Yesterday I ventured to the gym.  This is a big deal.  New spaces, unmemorized steps, corners, couches, tables, weight plates, and people.  UGH I don't like people.  I don't trust people.  They keep moving.  They keep changing their clothes.  They smell different.  They are very nearly unmemorable.  I don't like feeling "different" in a group of people.  Can you tell I'm disabled?  I mean, if I wasn't bumping into that squat rack, or swinging my white cane around.. if I just acted like you... sigh.  I am not you.

I don't like being obvious.  But man, if I don't open up my cane to walk the pool deck then you might not know.  And that, might be deadly.

The weight room was busy.  Older men doing, and redoing the bicep curl, the tricep extension and the chest fly machine.  Closed chain exercises.  Twenty times through eight reps, and I could hear the swing and plink of the weights from the bike.  Why?  It's a circuit.  CIRCUIT... not circus.  Those muscles aren't going to change staring at them.  Swing and plink. I'll just pedal.  Counting minutes. Thinking to myself, that's okay, I'll see you in my massage therapy treatment room in a few weeks complaining of an overuse injury.  I sat on the edge of a spin bike, on the edge. Always on the edge.

That a good sun. Good?  Evil.  Windowed room.  I'm forever on the edge of normal, this cusp setting.  Stupid three sided windowed room is so scary.  Moving parts.  I like my edge.  I'm aware I keep myself here more than they keep me here.  On the edge of the room in the relative safety.

Then it happened.  A public plank.  I can't think think about this in hindsight.  When I"m in my basement shaking, quivering, holding on like a shipwrecked pirate ; I'm pretty dam sure I seem as a drowning alligator must.  A fury under the shake to simply just hold on one second longer. ONE SECOND LONGER.  My life in seconds. My hatred for this world, its expectations of my expectations in one more bloody second.  A war in my soul.  The quiet corner so picked to hold this plank was bursting over the room with a silent scream for ONE MORE SECOND.

Three planks total 5:45, 2:30, 1:30.

... but that was yesterday.  This is today.

It's 4:19am; the laundry is half washed.  Yesterdays aches are filling my head as I stretch, as I convince my muscles... stretch.  I fit stuff in. I squish and twist until 39.43 seconds counts.  If I love you, my greatest gift is time.  Never forget that.  It's so hard to invent time.

From the planks to the pool yesterday, my 2000m swim took me nearly 53 mins.  Disgraceful I tell you.  I'm ashamed.  Dam you world for expecting my expectations.  And the toe cramps?  Fucking awful. Just awful.

Following the bike, the planks, the swim, there was a fitness test yesterday.  This makes me giggle.  The assessor, the would be coach, with his terrible boredom and uninterested tone.  Darling, should you not be inspiring?  Things I found out during my fitness assessment; My squat form is just fine, the lunges illustrate my balance is not good.  The medicine balls are stored in the corner fifteen paces before the stack of mats.  More and more ... he could actually nap.  I feel it oozing from him.  "What are your fitness goals?" me... not dying reinventing myself (in my head though? Getting away from you, I fear it's contagious)  Lets time your plank now.  Egads batman, where were you 90 minutes ago?  He counted up by uninterested 5's.  At 1:45 he actually paid attention.  At 2:00 minutes he walked all the way around to check my form.  At 2:10 when I couldn't hold on any longer  he actually saw me.  Too funny... where were you before I swam and biked and planked already?

Yesterday ended with an hour run.  I'm tired. The kinds of tired that soaks you up and calls you for snuggles.  The perfect time for an insomniac attack right?

And today?  I'm hoping to survive.  Glad I've stretched, although man it makes my handwriting such a squibble.  And the laundry calls.

...

Lifting weights seems so odd to me.  Lift things that are fine where they are.  Pick them up - put them down.  Why?  So I can hurt the next day apparently.  My arms feel like they're dragging on the ground, like I'm an Ape doing a post ultra shuffle ... Great, now I'm stuck on the letter "A", obviously... alligator, apes... oh and I'm craving popcorn.  Do Apes eat popcorn? Can they lift their arms to do so?  Oh and I could nap.  Is napping part of this "plan"? Let me check the spreadsheet.

today - bike 30 min, strength 40 min, core 10 min, stretch 20 min

Feb 1 2017, week 1 day 3 -

My body hates me.  Or this is how I feel.  The urge to pee lifted me from sleep around 1:30am.  But the first movement, that first wiggle hurt down to my toes and back. I don''t know why they call it DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).  There not much delayed about it.  You move, it fucking hurts.  My arms hate me for yesterdays 7:15 min plank, for the french presses.  I was hovered there on the yoga ball, a 15 lb dumbbell overhead descending behind ... thinking, well this is dumb.  What doesn't kill you, gives you DOMS? how do you stop this?

Of course the only way to avoid DOMS is to lift more regularly.  Yeah.  Try telling yourself that while falling ungracefully onto the toilet seat because yesterdays deadlifts have rendered you incompetent mid squat to eloquently lower yourself.  Oh my god... I'm going down!  You know you could avoid this in future by adding weight or reps to those deadlifts right?  THUNK.... really? Helpful thanks.  Or , or, heres a thought, I could instal hand rails beside the toilet, they'd be useful after 100 mile races anyway.  This was my thinking as I fell at 1:32am.  Please please let the boys have put the seat down?

But up now to stretch again at 5sm.  And they all sleep.  I'm blown away at how far away my toes are this morning.  Look up... wayyyyy up...

In other news, I survived yesterday without a nap.  There should be some award for that shit.  Today's pool time doesn't start until 9pm.  Should be interesting. Bring on the Alligators.

today - swim 52 min, stretch 20 min, run hills 80 min

Feb 2 2017 week 1 day 4

Busy busy bee... biked, core, stretched and lifted.  Night shift day.  night shift days are tough.  I like to be in bed at 9pm typically.  There an odd karma in watching people sleep when you're tired.  Yesterdays swim was crazy.  New to me pool.  More unmemorized steps.  Hell if I know where the ladies locker room is.  I'm fully aware I came out of that door.  But man if only I knew which one it was again.  I went swimming at 8pm (instead of 9).  The life guard explained the lay out of the pool to me; the end two lanes were currently the lane swim lanes.  The middle two lanes were for the life saving youth, (great I'd get to hear a chorus of "HELP" as I swam... try ignoring that with your eyes closed!) Okay and I was assigned the lane rope right between them both.  Excellent, increased risk of being kicked in the head by a 10 year old.  Gotta love adventure.

The thing about me and swimming, once I'm in the water, there's no white cane buffer to explain to others that I'm legally blind.  They honestly have no idea (and by rights neither do I) that I'm going to rudely blast head on into them if they come my way.  Oops sorry, oops pardon me. Just stick to the lane rope batgirl.  Todays self talk. Stay on the edge, again. Surely the guard will tell them.  Surely the guard will let them know.  There's no possible way they've changed shifts and this guard has no clue.  One two three breathe.  Please don't die.  Stick to the lane rope.  Maybe I should actually try paying attention? Like actually try and look up? Ugh I hate looking.  It's exhausting.  And I always... get... dam...

water in my ears.

Man this tri stuff must be incredibly hard when you can see.  Oh no... Oh no... TOE CRAMPS!!!!

I'm sinking.  I'm gonna die.  Worse no one will hear my "help" over the life saving 10 year olds.  Oh no... this is it... I'll never kick again!  Oh who am I kidding?  I'm a runner, we never kick anyway.

Out of the pool, find the change room door.  Is it this one?  Yes, the distant squeals of hair drying little girls.  This one.  Why, why do I always run 90 mins of hill repeats before coming to the pool?

today - bike 30 min, strength 30 min, core 20 min, stretch 20 min

Feb 3 2017 week 1 day 5

today REST DAY  Just shut up

Feb 4 2017 week 1 day 6 -

Oh I've been waiting for this day.  Today we go to a snowshoe race.  6km of floundering in the woods on invisible white ground in this insanity they call winter.  Where every little hill is buried in the back drop of nothingness.  Wait my friends are all here.  I get to just have fun today.  I don't hear your feet? Did you cut them off? What do you mean root middle?  I can't jump in these shoes? oh oh oh I get to step ON the root.  Whoa.  Weird.

These people have no idea how much I love them, how brave I think they are, how tolerant of me they've become, how insanely grateful I am... How bearable they make  'sport' for me.

Guides.  Otherwise known as my family.

today - 60 min of snowshoeing

Feb 5 2017, week 1 day 7,

Sleep escapes me.  This is not unusual for me, I suppose.  This plan, this week of this plan, had so little run time I worry.  I worry and I miss it.  My body remembers how I'm certain.  But still.  There's an ache.

I'm ending this week with a group run.  Today we ran the Waterloo half marathon route.  This is a race (42.2km) I'm booked to run at the end of April, the day after running 50km at Pick Your Poison. It's a winter wonderland out there.  Blowing snow and mismatched run clothes.  Layers upon layers to hide in.  Thirteen people came to run, several more to volunteer.  Again, I am blown away a the community.  It amazes me how many people need sport in their lives.  Plan a run and they come.

We jumped snowbanks and dodged snowplows.  We spread out along the 21kms of road by our comfortable speed.  And yet, we ran together.

Sport is like that; sometimes apart and quiet, but always collective, always together.  At the end of my week one, here I am... hoping beyond hope that this "togetherness" in some way includes disability too...

today - 160min running, 25 min of stretching