Friday, July 16, 2010

How we feel before has nothing to do with during

It is hot. Ridiculously hot. Day after day after day hot. Forecast unerringly predicting an endless string of 30-35 deg C days. I am almost taking the heat personally at this point; I am overwhelmed by a paranoid delusion that it is out to get me. It is claustrophobic, there is simply nowhere to hide. 

I know when people think of Canada, if indeed they think of Canada at all, the iconic vision of igloos and permafrost comes to mind. It does, however, get extremely hot in most Canadian cities. In my city, we will have 35 deg C days with a humidex of 40. But it ENDS! After a week or so there is respite. And there is almost daily respite in the form of a welcome thundershower. Here it is just bloody sunny hot day after sunny hot day. Ok, I'm grumpy and whiny.

So I thought this post was going to be about how lousy my training has been going in the heat. Which it has. But today out of nowhere I had a fabulous work-out despite it being 29 deg C at 5.45 am when I left the house. I expected another abandoned work-out in favour of a slow trudge because my legs were feeling incredibly heavy, stomach incredibly upset - complete and utter lethargy. As I neared the point where I would normally start my 5 X 1 km I decided just to jog, easy and go home. But as I hit the start line my body, unbidden, just started running the first 1 km repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until all five were done and very fast at that (3:32, 3:36, 3:29, 3:25 (WTF?), 3:31). This is faster than I have averaged for 5 since giving birth. Amazing how transforming a good work-out can be. Suddenly I feel hopeful and on track again.

This episode reminds me of a very important rule, one I always tell the runners I coach but often forget myself. Here it is: the way a runner feels immediately before a work-out or race has very little effect on the outcome. This obviously does not include extreme situations, if a runner is feeling the pain of say a compound fracture (cough, Steve) beforehand, than that might have a little effect on outcome. But lethargy, tightness, heavy legs, upset stomach, etc. etc. these little annoyances often vanish with the crack of the starter's gun so... the next time I am feeling terrible before a race I will remember this work-out and be confident.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A slacker and an overachiever

I have two guidelines when it comes to what I blog about. One, I don't share personal information about anyone other than myself and la cocotte. We have had a ton of family & friends come to visit us over the past 2 months which has resulted in many fun, interesting, wonderful memories and situations which I was tempted to write about but I feel I cannot discuss the other people in my life in a public forum, even for the sake of sharing and remembering good times. Eventually I will stop talking about la cocotte also. Two, I don't share anything personal that I would not comfortably announce to a stranger on the street - because essentially that is that a blog is - an announcement to strangers.

I have been wanting to write this post for awhile in the hopes of garnering some wisdom from other breastfeeding moms however it involves divulging stuff that is a bit more personal than I normally share. I wonder how many current or former breastfeeding moms already know what I am talking about from the title of this post. So, yup... right from the beginning of my breastfeeding "career" I have had one slacker and one over-achiever. Initially the difference was not so pronounced but over time la cocotte and I have come to depend on the over-achiever and come to expect nothing from the slacker and now, like any self-fulfilling prophecy, the difference has become quite pronounced. At this point I essentially have one A or even A-minus and one C which looks strange but whatever... I can live with the lopsidedness while breastfeeding. I guess I just want to know that this is not a permanent condition, that symmetry will be restored once I wean la cocotte.

My other issue is that between marathon training and the 30-35 deg C heat we are having here, I am drying up in general. I always thought that as long as I replaced the fluid lost through sweat and ate enough calories (I definitely do) that I would not compromise my milk supply however production is definitely at an all-time low. I had hoped to breast feed up to 18 months or so to help transition la cocotte into daycare and mitigate some of the daycare colds but I think this might not be feasible. Is there anything I can do to increase production? I am definitely drinking enough as judged by quantity and clarity of urine output. So.... any thoughts appreciated.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Runners, yeah we're different

Does anyone else remember that Adidas add campaign from the late nineties that features a series of normal runners doing normal runner-type things while being watched by non-runners who clearly found the scene very odd. If not, you can see many of them here. I loved that campaign because my reaction, and the reaction of most of my running friends, was along the lines of "I don't get it, why is that funny?" which was, of course, EXACTLY the point.

I was thinking recently about my own "runners, yeah we're different moment." My job used to entail a lot of travelling for work. One of my running ethics was that I would not miss a run because of work. Family stuff, friends stuff, personal stuff... sure. But missing running because of work really bothered me. This unwritten rule was made challenging to follow by the fact that my days sometimes looked like this:

4.30 am - wake-up.
6.15 am - flight to nearby one of many American cities
8.00 am - arrive in American city
9.00 am - arrive at client site
9-6.00 pm - work with client
8.30 pm - catch flight home
11.00 pm - climb into bed totally exhausted

Hard to find a slot to fit a run in unless I was willing to wake up at 3.00 am. I was not. So when my business trips followed a schedule like that I would often bring a backpack instead of a briefcase. I would hide the backpack as much as possible from the people I was working with so i would walk into the conference room with my laptop already out and immediately tuck the backpack under the conference room table. I would wear the lightest business clothing possible (cardigan instead of suit jacket etc.) and the flimsiest business shoes possible (black ballet slippers instead of heels). After saying good-bye to the client and politely but firmly declining their offer to call me a cab, I would go to the nearest washroom and change, superman style, from business attire into the stash of running clothing I had jammed into my backpack. I would cushion my laptop between the layers of the business clothing and I would be off... running along my pre-mapquested route to the airport, or, in some cases to the subway stop closest to the airport. This worked well in cities like Boston, less well in other cities like Philadelphia where I would just go for a run somewhere nice and finish up at a place where I knew I could grab a cab. I would arrive at the airport sweaty and disheveled. Stretch in line all sweaty while waiting to check in. Get my boarding pass. Find a public washroom, clean up the best possible (this became better once I achieved frequent flyer status and could use the lounges) and change lethargic-Superman style back into my business clothes.

I feel confident that no one reading this blog finds this particularly odd or even extreme. Neither did I. However one time after I had done the superman clothing change in the public washroom of the university I had been visiting, I bumped into the client I had been working with all day wearing short shorts, flimsy tank top and running shoes. It was this incredibly awkward encounter... almost like bumping into someone you know from another context naked in the gym locker room. I also had this feeling that this was somehow stripping myself of my professional veneer. He was completely confused about what I was doing, where my laptop was, the fact that I had a flight to catch. I felt like I had been caught in the act, doing something inappropriate, bizarreness all around. But as I recall, it was a great 10 mile run.

This whole episode also falls well within the realm of normal of other things I have done to make sure I get my run in (running back and forth in the underground concourse at O'Hare come to mind...).

I'd love to hear other people's "runners, yeah we're different" moments.