Friday, 28 December 2012

Post-Christmas run

Today was my first run in quite awhile, but after eating a late brunch with my mom and sisters-in-law, I decided it would be prudent to head out for a run.  I stuck to the 2k run strategy and it seemed to serve me well; my knees are not sore and aside from some shin splints, the rest of my body fared all right as well.  It was my second outing in my new neighbourhood, so I took it as an opportunity to explore some new areas.  I found a pleasant little path through the woods around Hail Pond in Halifax, which allowed my knees to take a bit of a break from the unforgiving concrete.  
The trail itself was not completely flat, so it did provide me with some modest hills to train on.  I took the last two days off, which enabled me to run in the daylight today. 
Cute little tree decorated in the middle of the woods
In addition, the 2k limit seems to be the perfect distance to avoid any embarrassing bowel-related problems.  The run was completely panic-free.  I will endeavour to make this my first of three runs over the next seven days.  My overall time was 16:44, certainly not my best, and likely hindered by my picture-taking and hiking up of my lulus, but I will work on beating this time over my next few runs.  Even though I cannot increase my distance, I can at the very least increase the speed at which I run it!  

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Update and gratitude

My apologies, I have been MIA for quite awhile now.  My husband and I just bought and moved into our first house, it happened quite by accident, but after adding some new flooring and fresh paint, we are finally moved in and life is becoming "normal".  Or, as normal as it can be leading up to Christmas amidst boxes!  I wanted to provide you with a few updates on running and the runs.

In terms of running, this has been a rollercoaster for me.  I may not be made for running, which I am finding hard to absorb after reading Born to Run (amazing book, read it even if you are not a runner).  I cannot not get injured.  Call me clumsy, but I cannot seem to get on track and go two weeks without something happening.  Ever since I received the go-ahead to start running again I am plagued with a bum knee after each run that essentially prevents me from running for approximately one week.  I promise this is not me wimping out, it involves not being able to walk up or down stairs (off and on I am that girl in the office tower who takes the elevator up or down one floor - how very embarrassing).  So, my chiropractor and I have come up with a new game plan that is essentially one last kick at the can; she very diplomatically stated that if this does not work I should find something else to occupy my time.  The plan is to walk/run (or run as things progress) 2 km approximately 3-4 times a week for two months.  The reason why we chose 2 km is because my knee starts throbbing around 3 km, so the theory is that if I stop before then and master that distance I might just build up enough muscle to increase my distance after the two month mark.  If not, at least I have a cute lulu running skirt that I can wear around the house...  So have I been doing this?  Ha!  Once.  I told myself that over the next couple of weeks I should do what I can as we try to get the house somewhat organized before Christmas and in January I will commit to at minimum three runs per week. 

Now let's talk about the runs - I had a few days in the middle of the move where I hit around 15, but aside from that I am hovering in around five, which I can deal with.  My husband and I are re-introducing vegetables after a moving hiatus filled with garlic knots, slices of pizza, wine and beer.  For anyone with IBS you can understand how unpleasant it can be to convince your body to digest fruits and vegetables, but, I seem to be doing all right at the moment.  I certainly have not added in any whole wheat items at this juncture, that would have disaster written all over it. 

In the Christmas spirit, I thought I would share with you a little list of what I am grateful for in relation to the new house:
  1. I have stairs.
  2. Two sets to be precise.
  3. I adore the wall colours and flooring we chose and it makes me feel happy.
  4. It is fun living in a neighbourhood and it feels safer when I go for a walk at night.
  5. The house has more than one floor which enables me to feel decidedly un-hampster-like compared to the apartment.
  6. I cannot hear every move my husband makes.
  7. I have a propane fireplace and I turn it on even though I know it costs me money every time I use it.
  8. There are built-in bookshelves in the basement which allows me to partially live out my dream of a home library.
  9. My husband was comfortable with me taking up the whole closet in our bedroom, the downside being he has his own dressing room of sorts - my closet is bigger though!
  10. My closet has a tower for my shoes.
  11. We have a backyard! 
  12. Our barbecue is no longer sitting in our living room, it is on the deck and we are using it!
  13. We finally caved and bought a microwave after three years because there was a space for one in the kitchen.  I did not think I would like this as much as I do - I no longer have to heat my Magic Bag up in the oven.
  14. No fire alarms have gone off while making toast.
  15. No fire alarms have gone off period.
  16. No one is smoking in the building.
  17. My husband thinks he is Mike Holmes and is quite busy as a result.  I call him Tim Taylor.
  18. I am super excited to be in before Christmas - we are setting up our first tree ever!
  19. We have a dryer that dries our clothes in less than four cycles.
  20. We can hang our clothes to dry out-of-site in the utility room.
  21. I really feel married now, it felt kind of pretend before and I am excited to share this milestone with my husband.
Oh my goodness - I had to come back and add one last item - I forgot the most important item of all - two toilets!  This should have been at the top of my list!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Calling all multi-taskers ...

Let's talk about butts, specifically, let's talk about the ever-larger cushion attaching itself to my ass.  I am at a very precarious point here where my ass is so sore from being sat on, but I am oh-so exhausted from all that sitting, that all I really want to do is sit.  Feel me dawg?

I recently had the brilliant idea to go back to school, thinking I could coast through yet another class with targeted, yet minimal efforts.  The problem is, I actually care about what I am taking and I have officially enrolled in a distance PR program instead of the one-off business courses I was taking at the university (all very helpful, logical and above all boring).  The only drawback is that the class is very labour-intensive - thank goodness I only decided to take one course this semester! Someone hold me back if I ever suggest two again!

All of this would be fine if only I was not working full-time, if I had not decided to buy a house and have it renovated and if I did not do any volunteer work.

The result of the above is that I have been spending 16+ hours a day on my butt either doing my job, doing my homework, changing my address, booking contractors, participating in conference calls and frig, I forgot to pack!  I have also been eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly - and yes, I fully support the hydrogenated PB, none of that natural stuff for me!  (I have tried, I have failed). The Halloween candy at work is plaguing me and every day I bring my gym gear.  At the end of each work day I debate whether or not I should push through until the lights go out, or head to the gym and then go back to the office to continue working.  Well, everyone knows that if you leave, you definitely are not coming back, so I go with option A.  Which then leads me to doing quick cardio before I pick up my husband (average twice per week) or heading home to recover from the "exhaustion" of sitting.

Both the apartment and the house should now be listed as hazard zones, between the boxes, laundry and suitcases it is unsafe to be in either location.  I see sunlight on the drive to work, but otherwise, perhaps some vitamins are in order.  Occasionally when the mood takes me I do the token five or six flights of stairs so that I can say that I took a break and exercised!  Ha!  To top it all off, I have the lamest injury every - I injured my rib from too much sitting!  This is not even embellishment for comic effect. I injured my rib while sitting.  Specifically, my back has been going crazy (I have back issues and therefore have memorized my chiropractor and massage therapists' numbers), which put pressure somehow on my rib.  It no longer hurts to breathe and I no longer hyperventilate when lying on my stomach, but there is a definite dull ache that will not go away (likely because I am still literally sitting on my butt as I type this post).

So, my question to all of you multi-taskers (yes, all you mothers out there), how do you do it?  How do you fit in exercise when it seems impossible?  More importantly, where do you get the energy - without coffee (I am not a coffee drinker) and chocolate!  Au secours, I need help!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Close Calls

Not sure I should feel flattered, but it appears as though I am the unofficial office/friend guru relating to all things butt.  This was proven again last week when a friend shared this article (she thought of me immediately!) about the public washroom situation in Halifax. I felt the need to briefly comment on this article.  I agree with the statement that public washrooms are hard to come by in certain areas of the city and that in Point Pleasant Park the signage is lackluster.  Indeed, there is nothing worse than going for a run only to be overtaken by a sense of impending doom as you are trying to not-quite-walk and not-quite-run to the nearest washroom - and you have no idea where they are!  And when I say not-quite-walk and not-quite-run - I am referring to one of life's great dilemmas: is it better to run in the hopes of arriving faster - or will that only hasten the runs?  Or, do you walk to try to slow things down, but potentially not arrive fast enough?  I am stumped, someone please tell me the right answer!

For any of you with IBS, or perhaps even a bout of the flu, you can likely relate to that sinking feeling, knowing that the runs are on their way, whether you like it or not.  This often happens to me in transit (car, bus), at work, walking, running and travelling.  One of my closest calls ever was in the heat of summer, I went for a run, was feeling confident, so ran a little further, only to realize that I was in trouble.  I was near the junior high school where I grew up, so I turned in, dashing for the door, sweaty, crying and banging for someone to please open up.  Luckily, the janitor was there (which was a pure miracle considering it was summer), I yelled EMERGENCY and ran past him to the washroom.  He was kind enough to ensure he was not around when I finally surfaced.  Needless to say I walked the rest of the way home, but, ever since then, I always carry a cell phone when running, because you never know when the wave will hit you.  This may seem trivial, but, it was a traumatic event for me.  Let's be honest - no one really has a burning desire to crap their pants, let alone in public.  This is probably one of the worst things about having IBS, not knowing when it will hit and whether or not you will be prepared.  There is always the sense of dread that today will be "the day" that you do not make it.

Moments like these certainly make for funny stories after the fact ... "do you remember when I was late for our wedding?" "do you remember when you had to spend a half our in the stall with me holding up my wedding dress?" ..."remember that time on our honeymoon when..."... interesting how the big events in my life are all framed with toilet tales!  At the end of the day, all you can really do is laugh and hope that someone in urban planning has the foresight to strategically place washrooms and that Europe will someday embrace the idea of not having to pay for the toilet!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Food Gone Wild: The Gaslight Edition

After introducing you to the idea that sometimes the unhealthiest foods are the easiest to digest for some IBS sufferers, I would like to talk a little about a specific symptom - gas.  I have already covered fibre here and here and I have touched on my love-hate relationship with corn and rhubarb, but let's talk about some gas-inducing foods.

The first obvious one would be cabbage.  Can anyone honestly say that they have ever come out of a meal involving cabbage (especially raw) completely unscathed?  This is on my Do Not Eat List, and if you have trouble with gas as an IBS symptom, I would recommend adding this to your list as well.

Another obvious one is turnip, and I know I am not alone here.  I know a couple of moms who do not give their baby turnip because of the flatulence that ensues.

Broccoli.  A lot of people hate this vegetable, personally, I love it.  Unfortunately, as is often the case with IBS, it does not always love me.  But, if you steam the heck out of it, broccoli can be quite digestible and you should avoid any serious side effects.  I keep bags and bags of it in the freezer as a quick side to a meal.

Next vegetable... peppers.  These vegetables are tied with cabbage at the very top of my Do Not Eat List.  The colour does not matter and it can be a regular or hot pepper, there is absolutely no difference.  I can honestly say I have not willingly eaten one of these in roughly a decade.

The general rule with fruits and vegetables is - if it has a peel, peel it.  I do realize that a lot of the nutrients and fibre are contained in the peel, but, unless you want to fart your way through life and feel like a hot air balloon, I would strongly suggest that you follow this key step.  When I began to do this it was absolutely life changing.  This one small change has allowed me to eat zucchini, cucumber (small amounts) and apples again - and to eat them raw!

Other gas-inducing foods in the not-so healthy category are:

  • Frozen pizza/regular pizza
  • Cheese
  • Rice cakes (especially the flavoured kind)
  • Kraft Dinner
  • Munchies Mix
  • Ice cream

The final category worth mentioning are beans and lentils, which are problematic for most people, I believe.  They are so notorious, in fact, that they have been made digestively famous by many a rhyme ... beans, beans, make you... and every family has a story about the after-effects of chili night at their house!

So, to recap a few of the golden rules for a blissfully gas-free (or reduced) existence:

  • Peel it if you can
  • Steam your veggies
  • Try to avoid eating raw fruits and veggies 

For an excellent example of what you can do to relieve your gas, check out this post - but be warned, try this at home if you are having a bad IBS day!  In addition, if anyone else has recommendations of what to avoid or how to prepare, please, share your experiences so that we can learn from each other!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Cookies baby!

Tonight was an absolutely beyond amazing night for a run.  I did my regular pre-injury route, just at a  reduced distance.  It was slightly warm tonight but with a lovely breeze, a cusp-of-fall kind of night.  While I was away on vacation I did one run on the treadmill where I tweaked my knee a little bit, but aside from that it felt pretty good.  As I said in last night's post, we did some serious hiking on Thursday and my knees were complete jelly after we finally found our way out of the woods.  As I ran tonight I was very mindful and a little nervous of what might happen to my wimpy knees.  They are a little sore and I will certainly be icing both of them before I go to bed, but, I was able to climb the stairs in our building, so I took that as a good omen.

About a month ago I went running with a friend of mine who also happens to be my chiropractor. She is amazing and I am not quite sure what my body would do without her.  She was gracious enough to go running with me one day and critique my running form.  It was the one avenue we had not yet explored as to what might be contributing to my slew of injuries.  It was a fabulous experience.  We ran just short of 5km, with 5/1 run/walk intervals (including several hills), which we were both amazed by considering I had not done any serious running in many, many months.  I thought I might just drop dead or face-plant at the beginning due to sheer exhaustion, but my pride would not allow me to give in.  Pride - what a wonderful motivator!  The big take-away from that (aside from the post-run laser treatment due to ignoring my body) was that I am a ... heel striker! Gasp!  She explained to me that there is a higher impact on my knees when I heel strike and that could be contributing to my injuries.  Luckily, she did not notice any other issues with my form, my posture was good.  She showed me how to strike with my forefoot instead, so I have been diligently working on that ever since.

So tonight, I spent a lot of my time looking down, which I acknowledge is likely not advisable, but I am pretty much obsessed with trying to fix this.  Given my out-of-shape legs and the new (or attempt at) stride, I had bad shin splints and ended it one interval early.  I have been doing 3/1 and I was hoping to do five sets instead of four, but, I am comfortable with the results.  Another take-away lesson from my injuries is the virtue of patience, not one of my current virtues, but one I am working on, along with the heel strike!

What really got me through the run tonight were a few "power" songs, which I am throwing out there because I love to see what other people are listening to.  I kicked off the run with Carly Rae Jepsen and Call Me Maybe - I seriously adore this song and am not ashamed to say it, it is beyond catchy, as is the Sesame Street version - I am still deciding which one I like better!

The key song of the night was W.T.P by Eminem (W.T.P. = White Trash Party).  Does this make me WT for loving this song?  I hope not, but if it does, I embrace it.  This song is so wonderful that I played it twice and had a six-minute interval in there because - how can you not run while listening to this song?!  I also have to wonder if Eminem is talking to me when he says ... you got more junk in your trunk than I do in my car.

On a final note, I had a great laugh when I saw this spray-painted on the sidewalk ... did they know I was wearing my Lulus to go running?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Food Gone Wild

WARNING:  This is an IBS-specific post, and may contain TMI - Too Much Information.

We have all been lead to assume that fruits, vegetables, lentils and whole grains are healthy and should represent a large portion of our diet.  I would also like to believe this is true, but, unfortunately, for some of us, this can run horribly awry in practice.

For the last few months I have had the sneaking suspicion that I have been heading toward a full-blown IBS episode. Firstly, as my episodes are normally about every two years or so, I am clearly due.  What tipped me off though were the minimum of seven to eight visits to the ladies room each day (double what I think of as normal) for the past eight weeks. I have had gas so badly that I have been unable to sit up straight at work and have been forced to drop everything, call a cab and head home to my magic bag on more than one occasion.  It has begun to affect my routines, my corn starch usage has gone through the roof and I cannot decide whether sitting or standing is preferable.

In an attempt to combat this I have tried a few things.  I had my first abdominal massage, I am now seeing a naturopath (the third in my lifetime).  I find myself agreeing to consume tinctures and Chinese herbs with names like bu zhong yi qi tang.  I have yet to try a rice water remedy that is supposed to help regulate me.

The likely question here is - is it something I'm eating?  I tried that experiment - I did the clean eating thing - I peeled and steamed my veg and fruit.  I ate lots of sugar-free applesauce and fruit cocktail (fresh fruit can be tricky for IBSers to digest).  I ate more fibre, I drank more water (more than my 3+ litres a day), I drank digestive teas, I did the digestive-friendly yoga poses and lots of yoga breathing.  The results?  It gave me the shits, like, have-the-flu kind of shits.

Upon realizing that this was not going according to plan I bought a lot of Boost and Gatorade (to help replace electrolytes).  On particularly high-pain days I have been drinking 1-3 Boost.  Some days I have a completely liquid day so it does not hurt quite so much by the time I hit number 8. On better days I have 1-2 Boost, applesauce, white bread with peanut butter and either more white bread, applesauce and an egg or grilled chicken with steamed broccoli.

However, a funny thing happened.  I went on vacation.  In the land of Olive Garden salad and bread sticks, pizza, fried food, dessert and alcohol.
Amazing milkshake at Duckfat in Portland, Maine
Aside from a little gas, I was at 1-2 washroom trips a day - without the big D and minimal amounts of pain!  I even hiked up several mountains at Acadia National Park without crapping my pants or popping a squat!  The only real side effects are my clogged arteries and the extra padding around my tush.

View from Acadia Mountain

Another beautiful view 
What does this mean?  It certainly goes to show that stress is the leading factor contributing to this IBS episode.  It also shows that when in an episode food can have little bearing on your symptoms.  So does this mean I plan to continue along this road to chunky town?  Definitely not.  Come hell or high water I am putting my fat pants away.  But, it does mean that as I go back on "real" food, life will be pretty awful, for quite awhile as my body gets used to trying to process fruits and vegetables.

As an IBS sufferer it is often difficult to choose the right foods because my reaction to the good food goes against everything I have been taught - from the food guide to my specialist, to all the health, fitness and wellness bloggers out there.  The healthy choice certainly feels pretty unhealthy to me as I have to go every hour, on the hour from the time I wake up.  It certainly feels unhealthy canceling appointments and making up excuses as to why I have to miss that meeting or have my colleagues believe that I really cannot shake that flu.  It is also really awkward dealing with the corn starch in a public restroom - all signs point to addiction.

So today, my first full day back from vacation I started off with my morning shake (Shakeology, cocoa powder, cinnamon, skim milk, peanut butter and banana baby food) and stuck to real food aside from my one ultra dark chocolate truffle and some butter on my white bread.  My body certainly cannot take whole wheat bread and vegetables all at once - one step at a time.  As I slowly, but surely trade in my fat pants for my skinny jeans, think of me, perpetually on the throne, in a cloud of corn starch.  Think of this as installment one in Food Gone Wild - an IBSer's tale of strange food choices, all in the name of the colon!

For those of you with digestive issues, I would love to hear if you have any recommendations!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Point of View

As part of my group blogging experience (GBE2) I had to write a post this week based on the prompt Point of View.  The goal was to write two short narratives, one in the first person and one in the third person.  I thought that I would take my first ever crack at a short story of sorts.  I struggled with this one on several levels.  One - the petrified level.  I have only ever written "commentary" type blog posts or full-blown research papers or boring work reports.  The idea of creating a piece of fiction and a narrative left me feeling a little bit vulnerable.  For those of you who know me well will likely recognize that this is more than a little inspired by real life events.  Hope you enjoy!

Oh. My. Goodness.  What the hell is that?!  Frig.  Is that what I think it is?  Could it really be?  I don't know if I am equipped to handle this.  It looks like a mouse dropping, but it looks too big.  Oh my gosh, it is even worse than I thought ... a ... rat turd?  Oh good lord, in MY cubicle.  I will have to Lysol everything.  And I am wearing open-toed shoes.  Dammit, I knew I should have worn my hooker boots!  Crap, what about the shoes on the floor?  What if there is a flipping rodent hiding in one.  Okay, I must remain calm.  Deep, cleansing breaths.  Happy thoughts: puppies, puppies, puppies, puppies.  In through the nose, out through the mouth.  Happy, happy, happy, happy.

"Lola?  Is everything okay?  You look a little pale."
"I am so glad you are here, I am freaking out.  Can you look over there in the corner and tell me what you see?"
Megan stooped down to take a closer look, "do we have mice on this floor?"
"I know they are likely around, but I like to believe that they don't exist... so you think it is a rodent dropping," Lola squeaked, gripping the edge of the cubicle wall.  
"Well, either that or a raisin," Megan chuckled.
"Hey, George!  Can you come here a sec, we need your opinion," Lola shouted.
George turned on his heel and came to stand in the cubicle.  "Do you have enough shoes in here?  I would go with the green ones."
"Ha, ha," Lola rolled her eyes and pointed, "no, in the corner, what do you think that is?"
George stepped closer and squinted down at the small, brown pellet.  "Ewww, I hate to tell you, but that has to be a rat turd, it is too big to be from a mouse.  Don't worry, they won't hurt you."
Lola started backing out of the cubicle and down the hall.
"Lola, are you okay?  Are you really upset about this?"
"George, of course I am upset.  They are the scum of the earth.  Do you know how many germs they carry?  How am I going to be able to come to work knowing that there are..." she paused, swallowing hard "you know, those things around here?!"
Suddenly Sam, one of the building managers, came into the cubicle, which seemed to be getting smaller by the minute.  "Ladies, George.  What's all the commotion about?"
Lola's lip began to quiver as her eyes welled up with tears.  "Ummmm," she hesitated, "we seem to have a rodent situation, see, over there in the corner."
"Are you sure," Sam sighed.  
"Pretty sure, the three of us think it is either a mouse or a rat dropping.  Maybe you could set some traps," Megan suggested.
"Okay, well, I'll get rid of this first," replied Sam.
"Here you go," Lola offered him a tissue.  "The germs.  I have hand sanitizer as well."
Sam took the tissue as the three of them watched apprehensively.  He picked it up with the tissue and began to examine it.  He stood there for a few seconds with a puzzled expression as he turned it around, and around, and around.  Finally, he turned to them and said "helluva fuss over a raisin."  

Thursday, 27 September 2012

energybits Superfood Experiment

 This marks the inaugural product review on Running from the Runs.  To give you some background on how this came to be - energybits  has been all over Twitter for the past few months engaging with health and fitness bloggers, sports enthusiasts, #runchat, #fitblog etc.  I first took notice when they followed me and through various Twitter chats we mutually engaged in.  What really caught my attention was their call-out to bloggers offering samples in exchange for a short post with your thoughts on the product.  And what is the product?  energybits are made from spirulina algae, a super-food full of vitamins, minerals and protein.  The catch?  It is algae, definitely green and does smell like a fish tank.  However, being a non-coffee/tea drinker, I have dreamed of the day I might find something to boost my energy and carry me through the morning, a workout, a run or a rough day.  In addition, I am not what you might call a natural carnivore - I do not love protein, but know I have to find ways to get more into my diet.  So, it was a pleasant surprise when my "bits" arrived in the mail - with no shortage of literature on energybits and their other products.
The very comprehensive sample package I received, complete with literature!
For this post I wanted to give you a general overview of the product based on the literature and share my very early opinion, but I definitely intend on following-up with a second post once I have had the opportunity to thoroughly test them out.

Here are some quick facts:

  • The only ingredient is algae - there are no additives
  • 1 calorie per bit
  • 12 bits is equal to one serving and they recommend 20-30 a day minimum
  • A bag of 1,000 bits costs $115.00 on their website
  • You can either chew or swallow - I recommend swallow (see fish bowl comment above)
  • According to their literature, a serving contains approximately 64% protein as compared to meat which contains approximately 22%
  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Improves digestion (this will be interesting from an IBS perspective!)
  • High in antioxidants
  • Curbs hunger
Paula over at the Big Green Pen has written an informative and well-researched post about them as well.  It would be worthwhile to check out her post as she has some great links relating to algae.

I have had the opportunity to test drive them twice in the past week.  The first time was Sunday after a meeting as I was heading to the gym.  I took them when I arrived at the gym and hoped that would be enough time for them to kick-in. One recommendation, have a tissue nearby after you have taken them as there will be a little forest green residue on your fingers.  Swallowing them was not a big deal at all and for someone as finicky as I am, I would anticipate that most of you can handle it just fine!  In terms of energy level - I did not notice a huge difference at first, but I did make it through the workout and when I got home I certainly felt energized.  I think there is likely a need to determine how soon you should take them before exercise.
The second time I tested them was on Monday morning and, again, I did feel slightly energized.  I do have a confession to make though - I did happen to eat a piece of dark chocolate each time I tested them, so I am a little unsure as to what effect the chocolate may have had (70% dark).  I promise that next time I will keep the chocolate far away to ensure I have an accurate picture of how the energybits are working!
As you can see, they are very small, which makes them easy to swallow!
Stay-tuned for the follow-up to this post to find out how the rest of my energybits experiment has panned out!

Have you tried energybits, spirulina or other algae-related products?  If so, I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Field of Dreams indeed!

The season for corn on the cob is now well underway, therefore, as a brief tribute to that golden deliciousness I thought I would share some thoughts on the matter.  I fondly recall many summer evenings shucking corn on the back deck of my childhood home, the smell of it cooking, the butter and salt dripping down my chin and that first delightful bite.  This experience ranks as highly as fresh strawberry shortcake.

My husband is from Iowa, home to the Field of Dreams and one of the ultimate baseball movies of all time.

"If you build it, he will come" and "Is this heaven?  No, its Iowa."  One year my husband surprised me on Easter Sunday by stopping in Dyersville at Iowa's main attraction. Despite the fact that we had not hit corn season, it was pretty magical to be there.  My Dad was far more impressed with this quick roadtrip than any European adventure I have had, or ever will have.

Unfortunately, that is where the magic of corn ends for me.  Corn wreaks havoc on my body.  It is guaranteed that if I eat this, I will land on my porcelain throne in less than 30 minutes.
On summer nights I long to eat it, but only ever attempt it a maximum of once each summer.  On a long weekend.  With no plans.  With a toilet in very close proximity.  You only get burned once by an experience such as this.  That sweet, innocent-looking, unassuming corn.  Who would have ever thought that it could be so dangerous?   Explosions of flavour indeed!  Corn is such a reliable laxative that when I feel gassy or bunged up I will make a bowl of popcorn and then - hallelujah! - problem solved.  I do not find popcorn as potent as fresh corn, but it certainly does the trick.  
So, as you tuck into some of summer's finest, when it is uniquely acceptable to ingest copious amounts of butter and salt, I will be eating carrots.  Or celery, sans butter, thinking of the field of dreams.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Déjà vu or nostalgia?

Déjà vu is this week’s prompt for GBE2 (group blogging experience) … to be completely honest I had no idea how I was going to tackle this topic.  I was hesitant to share a moment where I can recall experiencing déjà vu; in fact, I am having trouble recalling a specific incident.  Instead, all I could think about was the word nostalgia, which is not quite the same as déjà vu.  Déjà vu expresses the sense of having seen or experienced something already – this can be related to either a positive or negative experience.  Nostalgia, however, is always associated with a positive recollection, perhaps a happier time.  

Nostalgia is often a sensory experience, triggered by smells, sounds, touch, taste or feel.  For example, the smell of someone’s home.  On a few rare occasions I have caught a fleeting whiff of something akin to the scent of my home in Angers, France with my dear French (host) mother Janine.  When I encounter this familiar scent I have a moment of pleasure and longing for that time, one of the happiest in my life.  

The smell of sunscreen is also a trigger for me, prompting memories of both my childhood and adolescence, spent, for the most part, on a beach swimming, lifeguarding, coaching and generally having a blast.  

People often associate music with certain moments or time periods in their lives.  When you hear a song on the radio that you used to listen to in high school, it generates memories from what feels like a lifetime ago.  In high school we used to listen to a lot of Dave Matthew’s Band while hanging out, participating in underage drinking and shuffleboard tournaments.  

Tonight I am headed to Citadel Hill in Halifax to catch Ben Harper in concert.  Ben Harper has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember.  I have no idea who introduced me to his music, but it was likely during a summer of lifeguarding.  I have carried his music with me for the last 10 years and await his latest albums with eager anticipation.  I am lucky enough to be taking in this concert with a dear friend from my junior high and high school days, someone who has indulged my Benny obsession for as long as I can remember, my partner in crime from my time at the beach, or maybe just my partner in crime for life.  

Nostalgia can also be the feeling you get when you return to a place from your past.  My return to Angers during my honeymoon made me nostalgic for my carefree days of pastry eating, wine drinking, French speaking and new love.  Walking through the streets of Angers with my new husband (whom I met and fell in love with in Angers) was pleasurable, eerie and regretful.  Eerie because the people we once knew were, for the most part, no longer there.  It was the exact same and at the same time very different.  It was regretful because it made us yearn for that life, where we had no responsibilities, where everything was new and exciting, where food tasted so damn good, where the lifestyle is so unlike our life in North America.  

As a final thought on nostalgia, or déjà vu, or however you would like to term it, we are having a rocking good dinner tonight of roast chicken with vegetables.  As my husband and I debated over how to prepare it, we thought of the many times Janine made roast chicken for us in France.  She had a way of injecting flavour by putting cloves of garlic, butter and thyme under the skin of the chicken. 

We briefly reminisced and engaged in friendly debate as to how to prepare it.  My final thought is on that wonderful smell, which brings back so many memories of dinners shared with loved ones.  If only I could share that with you tonight!  

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Swimming is my chocolate

You may or may not have noticed that my most positive, sarcasm-free posts are all related to swimming - not running.  I realize this is blasphemy on a running blog, but, to make it crystal clear, I Love Swimming.  I love swimming like I love chocolate - swimming is milk chocolate (my one true love) and running is dark chocolate (calculated and controlled).  I love swimming like I love the smell of gasoline, like the feeling of clean sheets (Egyptian cotton, 500+ thread count) after a nighttime shower.  I love swimming like I love my faithful Mr. Quackers nightie.
I love swimming like I love Jax Teller with short hair, or in that fight scene in Ireland.  I love swimming like I love Scarlett O'Hara and her forbidden love for Rhett Butler, or like Jon Bon singing Livin' On a Prayer in his leather pants.  But, most of all, I love swimming like I love my husband.
Swimming is comfort, refreshment.  Swimming is gliding, is weightless.  Swimming is a healer; swimming is tranquil.  Swimming allows me to attain that feeling of being wrung out, stripped, that moment of calm exhaustion as you slowly make your way out of the lake, legs unsteady, uncertain ... no thoughts.


I am about to make my first foray into a "group blogging experience" #GBE2, which  I found out about on Word Nerd's website.  It is basically a group writing exercise where you are given a topic and have one week to post about it on your blog.  This is my first crack at this, but I am excited at the opportunity to put my spin on a topic of someone else's choosing.  I have come to think of the weekly "prompt" as the equivalent of Fred Penner's Word Bird and the word of the day.  So stay tuned in the weeks to come as I endeavour to participate in #GBE2.  To my fellow bloggers ... I encourage you to take a look and join in if you are intrigued.  Do not forget to check out the hashtag on Twitter!

Monday, 20 August 2012

East Coast Kayaking

Yesterday my husband and I headed out on an afternoon date to Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia to do some sea kayaking with East Coast Outfitters (ECO).  We booked a four-hour kayaking excursion that turned out to be absolutely fabulous.  Our tour guide was friendly and energetic.  Her knowledge about the area and all things ocean was impressive!  She taught us about the lesser-known SS Atlantic, a ship that struck Golden Rule Rock in Lower Prospect, and as a result, 532 lives were lost, the worst marine disaster of that time, until the Titanic sank in 1912.  Interestingly, both ocean-liners were built by the White Star Line.  We also learned that there is no such thing as seagulls (just gulls, and despite common misconception, there is more than one kind) and she shared tons of information about the local fishery and wildlife.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time with her - she made the excursion educational and tailored the trip to our taste.
Despite the questionable weather when leaving Halifax, it became hot and sunny out on the water.  As we launched the water was so calm we almost thought we were on a lake - until a droplet of salt water came our way!


The water remained calm until we ventured further out into the open Atlantic to catch a few waves.  We were absolutely exhausted by the time we had a snack break on Ryan Island.  When we reached the beach we climbed up a cliff in order to check out the water and cove below from a better vantage point.  The view did not disappoint.


After a short break we headed back into the ocean for the second half of our trip.  We hit the water just as the fog really rolled in, which made for a completely different experience.  There was so much fog we could not see past our little group, which made for a decidedly eerie atmosphere.

Upon return to ECO, we pretty much collapsed into the car.  We were both so exhausted we could barely raise our arms.  As we walked back into our apartment I promptly hauled out the ice packs as a proactive measure to treat my shoulder (lingering rotator cuff injury - skiing), knee (running) and neck/back (life).  After this, I continued my preventative treatment with an epsom salt bath, tiger balm, heat pack, ice pack and muscle relaxants.  Man, I am high maintenance!  When I woke up this morning I had that "I am afraid to move" moment, where you are hesitant to find out just how much you can/cannot move your body.  I have to say, Dr. Runs knows what she is doing!  I am still sore (particularly neck/shoulder), but, for the first time in a long time, I was not incapacitated after a challenging physical experience.  And the runs, you ask?  The only real drawback of the whole day.  Like the true priss that I am, I scoffed at the idea of having to use the port-a-pottie ... twice!  My husband enjoyed watching my look of dismay as I realized there were no proper facilities.  I also had a serious moment upon realizing that there was no hand sanitizer available - he quickly responded that it would do me some good!  Luckily, I am learning to be flexible, so a meltdown was averted.

Overall the day was a complete success, perhaps owing to the fact that we did not choose to go out in what they call in the biz the "divorce kayak" (a double). 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

My husband bought me a treat...

Let me first say that I love my husband dearly and that he is so very sweet and thoughtful, but ... he has an uncanny ability to surprise me with my favourite treats just as I decide to go back on the wagon.  By wagon I mean the summer daquiri season is coming to a close, along with the summer eats (ice cream) - all for the benefit of my IBS, my running and my desire for a more svelte physique.
Will drive for homemade ice cream - Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
That being said, I definitely ate this football-sized chocolate croissant from Two If By Sea for dinner and it was without a doubt the highlight of my day.  They are so big that the first time I brought one home my husband thought it was a sandwich!
Length 7", Height 3", Width 5"
Now, to fully appreciate the naughtiness of this treat, it is important to note that rumour is at least a half block of butter goes into this flaky friend.  Let us be clear about one thing - there is absolutely no graceful way to eat these in public.  Do not wear nice clothes - grease is tough to get out, bibs or aprons are encouraged, a multitude of napkins are recommended, or at the very least, my personal favourite - the wet nap.

After you finish your last bite, you will finally understand what a beached whale must feel like.  A horizontal posture is normally required after such an indulgence and I certainly mastered that pose while digesting on the couch watching Coronation Street.  You might wonder how someone with IBS could possibly survive the ingestion of such a pastry, I am here to tell you that I do not know how I am not yet in the fetal position.  With IBS comes the great mystery as to how IBSers can possibly digest or not digest certain food groups.  I must admit that I am still in awe - awed by my guts of steel in the face of items such as Exhibit A and by my inability to digest key food staples such as vegetables.

After two hours of recovery, I decided it was time to work off at least a quarter of those calories and reluctantly got dressed for a run.  On my drive to the park (because thou shalt not run on pavement), I suddenly felt a burning desire to go for a swim, so I promptly turned down the nearest side street, drove home, ran into the apartment, threw on my suit and headed to the lake as sunset turned into twilight.  Surprisingly, the lake was a pretty happening spot, but luckily there were not nearly as many hooligans at that late hour.  What can I say about this swim?  It was blissful.  The water was calm and slightly cool as the lights from the houses danced across the lake.
The only drawback was my paranoia as I made my way through the wooded path to the parking lot - convinced there were coyotes or rabid raccoons just waiting to eat me.  Luckily I survived to tell that tale.  All in all, I came out pretty unscathed this evening, however, those are likely famous last words; as a rule food normally comes back to haunt you the next day.  Tomorrow I will be able to confirm whether or not I do indeed of guts of steel!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

This world has gone to the dogs...

I think it is fairly safe to say that my runs are rarely boring.  I came to this conclusion during my run yesterday evening as I headed to Point Pleasant Park in order to avoid all asphalt and sidewalks - as prescribed by my physiotherapist.  I was contemplating how nice it was to be in the park among the walkers, runners and pet owners, when I was rudely awakened from my reverie by two snarling dobermans as they came barreling at me, their owners completely oblivious to my clear discomfort.  I do realize that they were playing, albeit roughly, however, when one owns two dogs like that, you should realize that people do not take kindly to teeth-baring animals following closely at their heels, or said animals running past you over and over as they growl.  I was not particularly interested in being caught in the middle of a doberman tussle.

I would like to note that I am not a pansy when it comes to dogs; I grew up with a very large golden retriever and a bernese mountain dog - go big or go home, I say!

My little Dukey-bear!
So, with great reservation, I ran straight out of that park and broke golden rule #1 - thou shalt not run on sidewalks.  I quickly looped back into the park and onto a different path.  As I started to calm down, and my heart palpitations began to subside, I found myself face to face with the sign below.

Possible coyote sighted in the park.  And a reminder to keep small children and pets close by.  How very comforting.  I decided it was time to assess the situation: a) deserted backwoods path b) no bystanders c) possible weapons choices ... an ipod and car keys.  Conclusion?  I could be coyote meat.  Upon completion of this assessment, I decided it was time to run like hell and make for a populated area...  where I found myself face to face with those damn dobermans again. Lovely. This called for a third path change where things remained much calmer for the remainder of my 18 minute outing.

This is what I came for!  

Despite the short time frame, I can honestly say that this was one of the most adrenaline-filled runs of all time.  It was also one of the few times in my life where I did not come close to losing my lunch.  Progress?  I'll take it.  

Thursday, 26 July 2012

And ... she's back!

It has been over two months since my last run, and yesterday my physiotherapist finally announced that I was allowed to run, with the following caveats:

- thou shalt not run on pavement
- thou shalt not run up hills
- thou shalt not run down hills
- thou shalt not use the elliptical on a run day
- thou shalt not cheat on the specified program (walk 5 minutes, run 1 minute, walk 1 minute, R 1 min, W 1 min, R 1 min, W 1 min, walk 5 minutes)
- thou shalt not exceed two runs in one week

So, with Salt n' Pepa telling me to Push It, I went out for my first "run".  Honestly, it felt good to get back out there, however, it was a bit anti-climactic in the sense that I would just start to run, and then suddenly that interval would be over.  The non-running-lover in me enjoyed the fact that it was not at all taxing, and that there was no need to contemplate a shower.  What I really enjoyed was getting my butt off the couch and back in motion; I have felt chained to my yoga mat and the stationery bike, so moving at a slow trot felt rather exhilarating.  Probably the best part of the whole thing is not a sound escaped from my bootylicious bottom, not even in the confines of the stairwell. Not one rumble was heard from my stomach, no moment of panic set in, and no 100 yard dash occurred to make it to the loo on time.

The only downside to my run was my pair of Run Inspire crops from Lululemon.  I bought these running capris back in April just as I injured myself, I wore them on my last run and was less than inspired.  I have done some yoga, elliptical, walking and biking in these, and really, they should be the Stationery Capri - mostly because one must remain more or less stationery in them.  Another name for them could be Moon Run, because of the fact that I moon innocent bystanders when I wear these performance inhibiting tights.  I was extremely frustrated as even at my sub-running pace, I had to exercise my right to hike that waistband while running in public.  Lock up your children, Running from the Runs is showing her buns!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Swimming after silence

Swimming is one of those simple pleasures in life. Since becoming a runner earlier this winter I have been waiting for that moment when running feels just as natural and relaxing as swimming. I hope that one day I will be able to duplicate that feeling.

Living on the east coast of Canada, it is extremely difficult to avoid being near a body of water. Luckily, my parents recognized how important swimming would be in a province full of lakes and surrounded by ocean. From an early age I was in swimming lessons, followed by synchronized swimming and then eventually lifeguarding, teaching and coaching. Honestly, making swimming a priority was such an important choice. Through swimming I not only stayed active, but found a job, found volunteer opportunities, made lifelong friends and created amazing memories. Swimming is also an escape for me, and each year as summer approaches I anxiously await the moment when I either don my wetsuit or my bathing suit and take my first plunge into the water. There have been many a party-goer who has jumped at the sight of a wetsuit hanging on the back of my bathroom door.

Medford Beach, Nova Scotia
This year it was a little later than expected, June 21, but it did not disappoint. Each summer I spend as much time as humanly possible in the lake, a little less this year due to the injuries. I swim occasionally throughout the winter, normally when my back is bothering me or to prepare for summer swimming. However, nothing compares to swimming outside. My way to achieve serenity is to drive to the lake early in the morning when no one is there and go for a swim. At that hour the water is pristine. It is so calm there is barely a ripple. It is so quiet that the only sound is the slight splash your body creates as you glide through the water.

Early morning silence at the lake
Swimming is one of the gentlest forms of exercise on your body. It is low impact and serves as an ideal option for runners who are trying to crosstrain. If you are injured you should seriously consider going for a swim, especially if you have back or neck problems. This is one of the first things I do when I have an injury as it helps to promote healing.

Working at a lake each summer throughout high school and most of university completely spoiled me. I spent hours and hours each week in the water, and since starting my career I have been chasing after every spare moment to spend time swimming. I have become jaded though, I am forced to swim after work amidst all the young bucks and screaming children. I love children and have nothing against young adults, but, they cramp my style out in that lake. I want to swim in silence. I am selfish; I want the whole lake to myself, and call me crazy, I do not want to worry about a hooligan stealing my towel and car keys!

Chocolate Lake, Nova Scotia

Monday, 9 July 2012

Tuning in and raising a glass

Listening to your body – this is a skill I do not possess, but one that I am scrambling to develop.  If I had only mastered this seemingly simple skill earlier on in life I could have avoided many unpleasant situations.  

As a runner, I have come to learn this lesson the hard, and expensive, way.  I am still recovering from the crushing blows to my IT bands, knees, hip flexors and hamstrings.  I have been in physio for several months and have seen improvement, but I am still in pain and still not allowed to run.  I continue be outpaced by the geriatric crowd in the row of recumbent bikes at the gym.  I am capable of taking my legs out for a spin in the evenings, but the crunching noises when I do my calf raises, quarter squats and lunges remain worrisome.  

All of this could have been avoided if I had heeded the warning signs – the limping during or post-run, the leg stiffness that never seemed to end and the searing pain throughout the upper portion of my lower body.  All of this because I was afraid of looking like a wimp.  Well, now I am the wimp who listens to her knees snap, crackle and definitely pop going down a flight of stairs, who is too sore to handle a foam roller.  Instead, I am armed with ice and a rolling pin to treat the pain.  I spend at least an hour each day doing my physio homework to atone for my sins.  

This is not the only time I have been punished for not listening to my body.  My whole existence as an IBS sufferer exemplifies this.  My biggest issue with IBS has always been tuning in early enough to what my body is trying to tell me.  Specifically, I have difficulties realizing that I am stressed and/or sick.  I never clue until I am already in the midst of a full-blown IBS episode.  

Since my last episode in late 2009 I have been trying to pay more attention to these signals.  Yoga is certainly helpful – first and foremost, by the end of a class I am utterly relaxed.  In addition, the yoga breathing has helped me through many close calls and through the pain often associated with IBS.  Yoga breathing is a small miracle, I kid you not.  Finally, yoga encourages you to pay attention to your body and to relax targeted areas.  Through yoga I am slowly but surely tuning in and trying to listen.  

What I have learned since my injury is that I should not be too proud to slow down when trying to achieve a goal.  It is certainly more worthwhile to slowly improve than to go out guns blazing and injure myself.  I have also learned that patience really is a virtue, even though I curse patience on a daily basis as I diligently stretch and roll my way to an injury-free body.  I have also learned that a glass of wine can cure a multitude of problems – like “I feel sorry for myself”, or “I cannot face doing another clamshell” or “no, I cannot go for a run, I am still injured”.   With this, I raise my glass of Nova 7 and propose a toast to being a wimp.