Thursday, June 30, 2011


Last week-end la cocotte and I were doing some shopping at a baby accessory store. Well she was more shoplifting than shopping. As we were leaving I noticed she had lifted one of the ugly baby dolls that was being used to demonstrate the change table. La cocotte toddled full speed towards the exit as if she would be home free if she could just get out the door with her baby. I caught her, "convinced" her to give up the baby and hustled her out the door. She wailed. And wailed. And wailed. It was clear that her little cocotte heart was breaking. At first I was impatient and annoyed with and by the fuss. Then it occurred to me that relatively speaking, the abrupt withdrawal of her baby was probably as painful to her as it would be to me if someone 5 times my size plucked la cocotte out of my arms with an abrupt: "sorry, you'll have to leave this behind."

This concept of the relativeness of experience is something I have been wrestling with for awhile. Do people experience their disappointments, pain and grief on a relative scale or are they experienced in absolute terms? Let me put this into more concrete terms... imagine a person who leads an extremely charmed and fortunate life in terms of health, wealth, circumstances etc.. This person, who has never experienced what most people would consider to be true hardship, might experience an event like breaking an arm as a true tragedy because in their framework i.e. relative to their daily experience, it is. Now think of a person is heartbreaking circumstances, let me use an example from a poignant book I have been reading lately about NGOs in Afghanistan, picture a women who has been thrown in jail for having "committed the crime" of being raped. Not only is she put in jail, but her children are put in jail with her and held, for years, without any kind of recourse. Could it be that the pain in these two cases is actually experienced in the same way due to the relative circumstances of the two people?

Relativism is a theme that comes up in many discussions. Cultural relativity is often used to make the [ridiculous] argument that certain actions, although reprehensible and heinous by our cultutal standards, are acceptable in other cultures and they should be judged within the cultural context in which they occur. So that although in our culture it is unacceptable to perform female castration or throw women in jail with their children because they were raped, within the cultural context in which they occur these are acceptable and behaviors and practices cannot be viewed in absolute terms. Bullshit I say. There are certain things that can be deemed to be absolutely morally WRONG regardless of the cultural context in which they occur.

But back to the relativity of human pain. How do people experience pain? Is it with an awareness of the absolute range of human experience or is it strictly within the context of what they themselves have experienced? I guess I struggle with this because I often get frustrated even angry with myself for being upset by the small things that go awry in my life when overall I really do have a charmed and fortunate existence. Like, for example, how can I allow myself to be so sad when every month I am NOT pregnant when I have an amazing, happy, healthy toddler whom I love and so many other things that enrich my life? How can I sometimes lose myself in this pain? I am so incredibly lucky and there are so many people who are truly in pain, it feels almost shameful to allow myself room for this pain. But I guess it is human... it is human to allow the pain in but perhaps healthy to always try to maintain a sense of perspective or in other words some kind of balance between the absolute and the relative.

I started reading blogs in the infertility community i.e. the blogs of women who were struggling with fertility issues as they tried to conceive. I read those blogs back when we were struggling to conceive la cocotte. I was often amazed by the warmth, support and humanity I found in the network of these blogs... on the other hand there was also somewhat an element of: no one is allowed to complain but us. I came across many bitter tirades against co-workers, family members, friends etc. of these women who would make the unforgiveable mistake of complaining about how exhausted they were as a result of caring for their children and the message I often found was loud and clear - no one who has conceived has the right to complain about their children or pregnancies after all the hardship I have been through. Which is kind of silly... just because I am having trouble conceiving doesn't make my colleague who has three children any less exhausted after being up for many hours at night with his children... it doesn't make my colleague who recently announced she is pregnant after trying exactly ONCE have any less morning sickness and, besides, all of these problems... not being able to conceive, exhaustion, nausea pale in comparison to the suffering of most.

But I don't mean to make this about infertility or conception, those are just examples. Where am I going with all of this? Not really sure. Just stuff I have been chewing on for awhile. I guess ultimately I think it is human to feel. Human to lose oneself a little in one's own experience and emotions relative to the context of one's own life. It is healthier and perhaps wiser to try to put one's pain in a larger context.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Holy Mother of OUCH!

Let me sum up this morning's outing on my bicycle as follows: the pain in my ass that I now have makes the pain in my foot, which precipitated the ride in the first place, feel like an utter joy in comparison. If running is akin to making love on a summer's night in a grassy field, under the moonlight with one's life partner, long and sweet, climaxing in simultaneous orgasm, than bicycling is a nervous, awkward, unskilled groping session in the backseat of a 1999 Honda Civic with fast food wrappers strewn all around and a foul stench in the air. Though, to continue the painful analogy, there is no passion between cycling and I. Zero interest in a long term relationship. I am just using the bike to breathe hard and sweat. There are no plans for the future, dreams or hopes so perhaps it wasn't realistic to hope for the satisfaction I get from a long, hard, um... run.

Also not realistic was the expectation that I could take my bicycle out after five years of use and actually have it work. Although the tires held pressure very nicely and the brakes functioned well, I had my "choice" of exactly one gear. A very, very easy, tensionless, legs spinning ineffectively gear. I realized the plan of going long and flat would not pan out and so decided instead to climb Montreal's famous Mount Royal along the route used by the World Cup cyclists when that event comes to town: a 400 foot climb over one mile. I did it three times, 9 minutes each, and that worked very well as a work-out. I was definitely breathing and sweating. A humbling new experience to absolutely the slowest person out there. I'm not kidding. I got passed by everyone. Professional looking cyclists in sweet looking gear but also her:

 and her:

I did pass one person when I finished my work-out and I was haplessly spinning in first gear along the flat road to work, but she was wearing high heels and a skirt.

So on the way home I took the bike into a shop for a tune up, I'll have it back in four days but honestly... I think I may be trading a broken foot for a broken ass. I really don't know if I can get back on the saddle again. When I road from work to the bike store I had to stand up the whole way because my hiney was too sore to sit down. I'm hoping that it is an adjustment issue and when I pick up the bike they will help me adjust it properly for me, all I know is that the seat and handlebars theoretically CAN be adjusted but I don't know what the goal in adjusting them should be. Other than that - cushier seat? Padded bikeshorts?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

After 11 days on's

First, thanks again for the comments that were left after my first post on this topic. I expected either a) nothing or b) scathing comments (echoing those in my head) along the lines of "stop being such a whiny obsessive jerk". So thanks. Several people commented that they didn't think W.ei.ght's was designed with athletes in mind. My feeling? Yes and no. The program is points based not calories based. Based on my weight and (fake) height, I am allocated 29 points per day. In addition there are 49 extra bopnus points which can be used throughout the week. Just to give an idea, a typical frozen meal (yes, I eat them, terrible I know!!) is 6 points. A frozen waffle (again, terrible, I know) is 2. An egg is 2 points. Or, for the more quantitatively inclined, 10 g of carbs or protein are each 1 point and 10 g of fat is 3 points. There is a place to enter one's activity and under running, one can select anywhere from 5(!) to 10 miles per hour... so clearly they are aware that people can and do run 5 miles an hour so there is definitely allowance for athletes. On the other hand I typically wind up earning 15 extra points through exercise or 50% of my baseline allocation and I am not sure if they really intended people to increase their allocation to that extent - they advise that everyone try to do enough activity per day to earn 2 points (20 minute of slow walking) so I guess the program does account of all kinds of people and activity levels.

After 11 days how do I feel? Well, first I have to admit that I have cheated substantially on 4 of those days (oops). However overall I essentially feel like I am buying willpower and accountability (even if only to the money that I spent). I now feel an awareness of what I am eating and am better able to monitor whether I am really hungry or eating for the wrong reasons. Yes, ideally I should have been able to do this on my own but I haven't been and now I seem to be able to so well worth the money spent. In terms of quantitative results, I am down 3.5 pounds... of course some of this is water fluctuation and noise but my clothes are feeling better and I *was* feeling better on my runs until...

[segue to different topic]

My car broke down. And by car I mean my 1974 Piccola Pine Cone with 80,000 kilometers on it and brand new Nike tires. I have this weird foot pain going on that I have never felt before. It is sharp feeling on impact now both running and walking, it feels like it is at the base of the 3rd or 4th metatarsal sort of  under the ball of my foot. So painful... and hard to be gentle with since even walking is painful. I was feeling really bummed for awhile because not being able to run essentially meant (I thought) not being able to work out since I use my commute to work-out for efficiency. If I have to set aside extra time in the day to work out well... there simply is no extra time for that. Even if I had the time to go to the gym everyday, it only opens at 6.30 am. if it opened at 5 am I could probably go to the gym but that's not an option. Then it hit me.... DUH.... BICYCLE! I HAVE a bicycle. I haven't ridden it in many years but riding bicycle is a lot like (wait for it) riding a bicycle! No one forgets how to ride a bicycle. This will allow me to continue to use my commute as a place to train. I pulled it out. Pumped up the tired, waited, they held. Tested the brakes, they held. Then I ran out of things that I know how to check on a bicycle (stop laughing Mmmmonyka). Anyway tomorrow is the maiden voyage. I'm kind of excited because I know NOTHING about times or routes on my bicycle, I have no idea what is fast or not or what I can do. I have no idea if my bicycle is good or not. I know I have toe clips instead of those scary shoes that latch to the pedal that make me panic. I also have no computer on my bike so I won't be able to get all anal about it. Ignorance really is feel like bliss. Tomorrow morning early I take the bicycle out to the very flat bicycle path along the canal and let her rip. I'm more excited that I thought I could be given that I cannot run.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What's the deal with the sucking?

I know that newborns & infants are programmed to suck. I get it. It's an evolutionary drive. Suck. Eat. Grow. Live. Flourish. But what is the deal with the continuing obsession with sucking as la cocotte nears her 2nd birthday? In a move that was traumatic to all three of us, we recently weaned her from her nuk (a.k.a. dummy, paci, soother, suss) though she still gets it in the stroller, the car and in bed. That's the deal we negotiated (negotiating with a two year old is like negotiating with the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company... not tons of wiggle room and prone to interpreting things favorably in their direction). But when she needs that nuk, she NEEDS it. I see her in her crib sometimes when it falls out and she (in her sleep) frantically opens and closes her mouth like a baby bird and will almost suck on the air. She is still nursing and I don't see her (actually to be honest, either of us) giving up that habit anytime soon. Heck is any of my random body parts get close to her mouth she will suck on them - recently my forearm strayed near her baby bird mouth while she was sleeping and sure enough, she latched. I'm not complaining, just puzzled. What is the deal with the non-nutritive sucking??

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Race Report: Fatter, Slower, Weaker

I promise this won't be a totally, self-indulgent, whining post, I just couldn't resist using that as a title. Who needs to go higher, faster, stronger when fatter, slower, weaker is just oh, so much easier??
So, yes, I raced this week-end [ed: now last week-end because it has taken me this long to post this post] and it was oh... so.... slow. I seriously would have sworn the course was long had it not had a certification number. I thought, FOR SURE, I was in shape for a 38:30 and, though I didn't admit it to, well, me, I actually felt like I might surprise myself with my first sub-38 of 2011. Well the gun went off and my body sure felt like it was running goal pace, somewhere between 3:48-3:51 per km. Only problem was I would hit 3:48, look up, and the kilometer marker would still be many meters distant. Ugly, just ugly. One bright spot is that I scored high in my age category. Normally I don't care about placing but this race is part of a series that I would really like to win because the prize is - free entry into all of next year's races. Sweet. The other bright spot is that la cocotte totally NAILED the monkey bars in the minutes prior to the race.

So yes, I am getting slower - a 39:01 10 km is definitely worse than an 18:29 5 km. I am getting fatter - clothing does not fit well, numbers on the scale are marching ever upwards and I could literally feel that with every foot strike propels me less far as my beer belly drags me persistently to the ground (oh wait, I promised no self indulgent whining). I am getting weaker - I can feel everything wobbling every which way as my core strength dwindles away. Here's the part I don't get - why is all of this happening when I am slacking off on training, not doing intervals, overeating, drinking too much beer? Why am I NOT immune to the fundamental laws of physiology and, perhaps, physics? Ok, seriously, here's the part I REALLY don't get. WHY am I overeating, drinking too much beer, not training hard etc. THAT the is the part I need to figure out.

This week-end in desperation I browsed over to the Canadian Wa.tche.r's site. I figured a program from them might provide the structure and discipline I am lacking. I also figured that actually paying money might incentivize me to stick to a plan. Their homepage asks for weight, height, gender and birth date. After plugging in my info, I was told that their online programs are not suitable for me because of my height and weight - read: I am not above their minimum healthy weight. I was told to eat some more ice cream, drink some more beer and get back to them. (no, not really).

What to do... only eat when I am hungry? Drink lots of water? Exercise? Eat high fibre foods, lots of vegetables and lean protein? That's just crazy talk! So, of course I instead, went BACK to the W.eigh.t Wat.cher's site and LIED about my height and presto bingo they took my money. I am now the proud owner of a fictitious 5'4" body. Ok, I realize this makes me sound absolutely a) crazy b) annoying to be whining about my weight when I am not even above the WW minimum c) annoying to be whining about ANYTHING related to my body when I have a happy, healthy body that generally lets me do whatever I want.... BUT... okay, I have no but (I have an ever widening butT but that's another story). No, wait, I DO have a but. BUT my goals require a lean, athletic body and this is something for whatever reason I am having a hard time maintaining. I feel like this is the beginning of a slippery slope. If I let these 7 pounds linger, 7 will become 10, 10 will become 15... It's a slippery slope I tell you! Not unlike using bad cliches like "slippery slope" in one's writing or words like "incentivize" that don't actually exist - eventually one's writing disintegrates into a jumble of incoherent, boring nonsense.

Bottom line - I am signed up with Wei.g.h.t Wat.che.r's. I am not crazy. I just want to get back to my fighting weight. A weight where my clothing fits. A weight where I feel strong and light while running.