Surviving storms of sloth, snow, and sand

In an effort to burn off some sloth yesterday, I went for a run in the snow. It was glorious. You might think me crazy, to love running in the snow, but it has its perks.

1) Chances are you’ll have the crunchy snow-covered sidewalk/road to yourself (well, except for the gazelle, who I did pass yesterday).

2) YOU DON’T SWEAT.

3) Believe it or not, once you get going, you warm up (but not enough to sweat) and don’t notice the cold.

4) Snow is frozen water, so if you’re far from home, you just need to stick your tongue out for hydration (I recommend finding a busy street and trying this, just for kicks).

5) YOU DON’T SWEAT.

But, today’s post isn’t about running in the cold. It’s about running on the beach! While I was chugging away catching snowflakes on my tongue like a child, I was reminded of a time when I ran through a(n admittedly mild, but nevertheless unpleasant) sandstorm a few summers ago.

I’m one of those annoying people who bring their running shoes with them when they go on holiday. And, for the record, I love to run on the beach. But, as those of you blessed to live lakeside or seaside are well aware, the weather at the shore can be dramatically different from the weather inland.

One sunny, calm summer morning, I laced up the shoes and headed out for a long jog while the cottage was sleeping. As I approached the beach, I could feel the wind picking up, but I didn’t really think anything of it. By the time I hit sand, well, let’s talk about what it’s like to run in a sandstorm, shall we?

1) Sand stings, burns, and aches when it blows in your face.

2) Aspirating sand stings, burns and aches in your windpipe.

3) Sand embeds itself everywhere – hair, ears, eyes, between your fingers, in your shoes, EVERYWHERE.

4) Sand does not taste good, and does nothing to hydrate you.

5) If you’ve worked up a sweat prior to running head-first into a sandstorm, you’ll come out of it looking like a great ape.

So, yesterday, as I was running through the snow, my mind drifted back to that hot summer morning when I ate a pound of sand and exfoliated my whole person. I don’t know why I didn’t listen to the weather report before I went out. I don’t know why I, after feeling the breeze become a whip, didn’t turn around and head back to the cottage. And I really don’t know why I continued to run, despite the thwacking I took from Mother Nature.

The thing is, despite the wind and the pain, that sandstorm was beautiful in its own way. As I slogged along the lonely beach, it was like the wind was putting on a show just for me. It was so mesmerizing, I forgot how challenging it was to run through it.

Sun, rain, sleet, sand, or snow, I’ve run through them all. But snow is my favorite. So, after the holiday sloth wears off, don’t be afraid to bundle up and head outside for a jog. Breathe deep and relish the cool air. And be sure to enjoy a sand-free hot toddy by the fire when you’re done.

 

PS – Apologies that today’s post does not contain stick-people illustrations. I’ve spent the week binge-watching White Collar on Netflix and have left my PC lonely and untouched. Even stick people need a break. ūüėČ

 

 

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A run with the neighborhood gazelle

My neighborhood is very runner-friendly.¬†There are¬†trails, rolling hills, outdoor tracks, and some not-so-rolling steep climbs. Over time, the neighborhood runners have got to know one another¬†well enough to share¬†“the wave”¬†as we pass each other¬†on our jogs.

Most of us are lions, but there’s a¬†gazelle amongst us. Tall, lean, and graceful, the gazelle turns heads wherever he goes.

the gazelle

In fact, seeing him trotting around town was one of many things that made me want to be a runner. Once, my husband and I saw him a good 20KM from home, not sweating, not panting, but glistening and grinning as he passed.

ice cream

One summer evening, I laced up my shoes to go for a jog.

“I’ll join you, in case it gets dark while you’re out there,” my husband said.

When we went outside, we noticed the gazelle stretching at the end of our street. We made eye contact, smiled at one another, and said hello. I assumed that would be the end of the exchange.

“Would you like to run together?” I heard from behind.

what do i say

“Sure,” I replied, and the gazelle trotted forward to join us.

There wasn’t room on the sidewalk for the 3 of us to run side-by-side, so we moved into a V formation, the gazelle and me in front, my husband in behind.

omgomgomg

“So, how long have you been running?”¬†the gazelle asked.

“Ummm, about 2 years,” I replied, trying to gauge his pace. I didn’t want this to become a mercy-jog, so I pushed¬†myself to match his stride.

“Very good. You run at a good pace,” he said.

I do

My ego sufficiently stroked, I asked him how long he’d been running.

“Oh, at least 15 years, I’m not sure, really.”

“Do you race?” I asked, still beaming from the compliment.

“Yes, when I travel, I always run a marathon.”

always1

“How many have you done?”

“75.”

im here too1

“Wow. Have you ever run Boston?”

“Oh, yes, several times.”

shoelace1

We were starting up a hill, and I was desperately trying to save face and keep the conversation going without passing out.

“You must be really fast.”

I don’t know what that comment was supposed to accomplish, but that’s what came out of my mouth.

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I’m older, so qualifying times are easier in my category. But I am working towards a sub 3-hr marathon this month.”

wait for me

I didn’t even know what to say. I could hear something behind me, but I was so focused on¬†making it¬†to the path that led back to my house that I didn’t acknowledge it.

“So, that was a crazy storm we had a few weeks ago. Did you have any damage?” I asked, at a complete loss for words.

“Oh, yes, our sump pump backed up on us. Water everywhere in our basement. You?”

“No, our house was fine.”

I don’t know why that made me feel validated, but it did. We’d left the hill behind us, and were now approaching¬†the path.

“So, another time around the neighborhood?” he asked.

“No, we’d only planned on a 5KM tonight,” I replied. We. I hadn’t heard from my husband in at least 20 minutes. Where was he?

walking home

I turned the corner and hobble-jogged back to our house. A while later my husband arrived.

“So, how was your run with the gazelle?” he asked, disgruntedly.

“Well, he’s run 75 marathons, and is training for a sub-3hr marathon this month,” I answered.

“Good grief! He’s Ironman!”

“He really¬†is… hey, you know what we should do tonight?” I asked.

“What?”

“We should order a huge pizza, split a bottle of wine, and watch a movie in our dry basement.”

We did just that.

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Hey, remember that time the Internet gave me an award?

inspiring1

The Very Inspiring Blogger award is kind of like the SAG award of blogging. Nominations come from the wonderful blogging community, and it’s really nice heartwarming¬†AWESOME to be recognized by your peers.

So many feels!

So many feels!

I wanted to take a few minutes to pass on the goodwill and tell you about 3 blogs that I love and why I love them. Here goes:

1) The Old Fellow Goes Running¬†– I was nominated for this award by the Old Fellow. Thank you, Old Fellow, so very much! Carl (the Old Fellow) is one tough dude, and I love his posts about long¬†jogs through beautiful¬†Simcoe County. He also¬†ran a marathon on a¬†busted ankle, and managed to finish with a really solid time.¬†If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is. Carl, hats off to you!

2)¬†Running Heartless – Like the Old Fellow, this girl is a tough cookie.¬†She just completed the Couch to 5K program, and is on her way to completing the 10K. I love this blog because she is so resilient. I encourage you to read about her journey, because she is a fighter. She’s on her way to running the Disney Half Marathon in 2015, and I know she’ll do great.

3) Lyttle Lamb – SFR might not have existed were it not for LL’s encouragement.¬†She’s one of my best friends in real life, and one well dressed lady. Her blog will put a smile on your face, and maybe some new clothes on your back! Be sure to check her out, you won’t be disappointed.

jeremy-renner-fangirling

Without further adieu, I shall accept the award by answering the requisite questions (okay, Old Fellow, I know I’m only answering a¬†few of them, forgive me, I’m so busy dealing with feels that I’ve lost my wit):

1)  Backpack or suitcase?

Gym bag

2)  Name 2 things you are most passionate about in life?

Two (of many) are my lagomorphs, Dean Martin O’Hare¬†and Maggie “Tribble” O’Hare (Maggie snores, but that’s for another post)

3)  If you had the opportunity to meet 1 celebrity in your lifetime, who would it be?

Walter Matthau, so that I can ask him for the rights to his name

4) What genre of music do you prefer, and list 2 of your favourite musicians?

Can’t boil it down to 2, but here’s a pic of my playlist from my first 10k (go ahead, make fun of me, I know ya’ll love The Final Countdown):

Playlist

5) What is the 1 blog post you have written, that you are most proud of?

I like my first post, In pursuit of the gazelle. It’s a good summary of who I am, how I became a runner, and what motivates me to keep going:

pudding

To finish off this week’s post, I’d like to tell you about my nominee for the Very Inspiring Blogger award, Fill Your Own Glass. I can describe this blog in 1 word –¬†LOVELY. Her posts are honest, well-written, and always about a subject one can identify with.¬†Her most recent post,¬†I don’t know why, I just do, had me smiling the whole way through. If ever you’re having a bad day, check her blog out. You’ll be smiling in no time. FYOG, you inspire me! ūüôā

rainbows

Ok, that’s about enough feels for me today. Stay tuned for next week’s post, when I’ll return to my regularly-scheduled storytelling and stick people.

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Tenacious Dean; or, why is the rabbit smoking a pipe?

I mentioned in a previous post that I have two rabbits, Maggie and Dean.

Maggie and Dean

Maggie and Dean

Those of you who’ve had rabbits as pets will appreciate their intelligence, humor and,¬†most of all, their tenacity. If a rabbit decides it’s going to do something, the something gets done.

When we brought Dean home, he sniffed out the house, curious-hopped his way upstairs, and found his personal utopia – under our bed.¬†If you’ve ever tried to catch a rabbit that doesn’t want to¬†be caught, you’ll¬†understand why¬†this was an issue.

Problem.

Problem.

It was clear the bedroom had to be off limits to lagomorphs. We closed the door, and assumed that would be the end of it.

We were so very, very, wrong.

It started with little scratches at the door. “No, Dean!” I scolded, as I shooed him away.

The scratches eventually stopped.

The digging started.

We couldn’t get him to leave the door. No matter what we did, he would run upstairs and dig at the door,¬†trying to¬†burrow his way into the room. This went on until one day we noticed a hole in the carpet.

Bad bunny

We grabbed a small, cement garden gnome and placed it over the section of carpet Dean had been digging at. It was too heavy for him to move, and we hoped it would deter him from his quest.

It did not.

He turned his attention to the door itself. He sniffed at it. Eventually, he found the weak spot. Standing on his back paws and leaning over the gnome, he pushed the door with his nose. We heard a creeeak, and under the bed he went.

the rabbit frightens us

We knew we had to up our game.

We¬†padded the back of the door with¬†a rolled up¬†towel,¬†hoping he¬†wouldn’t be strong enough to¬†push the door open with¬†it¬†in behind.

Up the stairs¬†Dean went and, realizing the door wouldn’t budge, he started to sniff underneath it. He flattened himself to the ground, stuck his nose under the door,¬†and¬†gripped¬†the towel. Once he¬†had¬†it in¬†his teeth, he pulled and dug at it until it came free.¬†The obstacle now out of the way, he pushed¬†the door¬†open and went back under the bed.

“I think we need a baby gate”, I suggested, as we tried to chase him out.

We set the baby gate up on the 2nd step from the bottom of the staircase, so that its top was a good 4 feet or more off the ground in our dining room. The whole 2nd storey was now a No Lagomorph Zone.

“There’s no way he’s getting over that”, my husband said.

 

Baby gate

Dean hopped over to the gate. He sniffed. He backed up¬†and stared at it. He stood up on his back paws to look over it. But he didn’t try to jump, and after about 10 minutes he hopped away from it, uninterested.

 

Why does the rabbit smoke a pipe

The next morning, he hopped over to the staircase, sniffed, looked, then turned to the dining room. When he was about 6 feet from the staircase, he stopped and looked over his shoulder. He pivoted to face the stairs. He stamped his feet, then took off at a mad pace. He launched himself airborne using the first step for leverage and over the gate he went, kicking it down with his back paws as he glided over. Up the stairs he flew, stopping only briefly on the landing to look back at his victory.

Because he's smarter than them

We could do nothing but laugh and applaud his tenacity. Dean won, and our bedroom was his.

The victor.

The victor.

The moral of today’s story, friends, is¬†simple. Don’t let “the wall” get in your way.

Outsmart it.

Jump over it.

Kick it down.

 

 

 

 

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Almost Kenyan: A celebration of mediocrity

It’s really not a secret that, when it comes to running, Kenyans rule.¬†One has only to do a¬†simple Google search of high profile races¬†to see that they just win EVERYTHING. Sometimes,¬†I wonder what it would be like to run¬†like them.

I’m painfully aware that I’ll never know. Not Kenyan

As¬†I mentioned in my previous post, The Story of Marathon Matthau, when I ran my first race, I failed to meet my goal time by a mere 10 seconds. 10 seconds, people! But I can’t tell you how many times I replayed the last minutes of that race over and over in my head, pinpointing moments when I could have made up that time.

short leg

In a race, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. There are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other runners, with lil’ ol’ you in the mix. Watching some¬†(or many, even most) of them pass you during a race can make you downhearted.¬†You might even feel¬†downright mediocre.

Never be a gazelle

I’m by nature a competitive person, so knowing I have limits¬†gets me down. Sometimes, I don’t see what’s behind me,¬†I only see¬†the gazelles¬†ahead of¬†me. Sometimes, I have to remind myself how far I’ve come since the days of tippie-toed treadmilling and sprained ankles.

That’s why¬†I came up with the expression Almost Kenyan. I know I can’t do what they can, but I can be my best. I can be almost them.

almost kenyan

So, rather than my usual self-deprecating post, I’d like to share some reassuring statistics to¬†prove that¬†all runners are¬†Almost Kenyan. They pick heavily on our American friends, but I’m sure they apply to other countries (except Kenya), too. Let’s assume they do.

1) Less than 10% of Americans can run a mile in under 10 minutes.

2) Only 1% of Americans have completed a 10KM race. I'm special

3) Less than 1% of Americans can run 10 miles.

4) 0.007% of Americans ran a half marathon in 2013.

5) 0.002% of Americans ran a marathon in 2013.

Now, let’s talk finishing times!

6) Less than 5% of runners can finish a 5KM race in under 20 minutes.

7) Only elite athletes can finish a 10KM race in 30 minutes or less.

8) Only 37% of male runners, and 15% of female runners can complete a half marathon in under 2 hours.

9) Fewer than 25% of marathoners can run a sub-4 hour marathon (that’s only 0.0005% of the US population, people).

And, last but not least:

10) Less than 10% of marathon runners will ever meet a Boston qualifying time (or, in other words, 0.0002% of the US population).

I’ll be honest,¬†the numbers are¬†from Google, so I’m sure a few are¬†guesstimates. But I¬†believe they aren’t far from the truth.

Google never lies

 

So what’s my point?

My point is, if you ever find yourself feeling the way I felt after that 10KM race, remember these stats, and remind yourself of these conclusions:

1)¬†If you can even run 1 mile,¬†you’re already ahead of¬†nearly everyone you know.

2) If you can just complete a 5 or a 10KM race, hey, man, you’re¬†top-drawer!

3) If you can run a sub-2 hour half marathon, you’re an elite runner. No, really, you are.

4) If you’ve¬†completed a half or a full marathon, you’ve done something not even a full percentage point of people can say they’ve done.

5) If you qualify for Boston, you deserve a standing ovation.

Conan clap

We’ve all got goals, and we’ve all got limits. There will be bad days, and sometimes, the gazelles will¬†beat you. But don’t let it get you down.¬†Celebrate mediocrity, folks, and salute those who pass you. And remember that, statistically, you’re Almost Kenyan.

 

 

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