Category Archives: General Reflection

Snoopy

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My posts since the month of June have been a little short and inconsistent.  The end of the school year with track season winding up caused some of that, but there was also a huge hurdle that hit our household.  That hurdle involved our dog Snoopy, who is a 10 year old purebred beagle.

Snoopy turned 10 this May.  And this past weekend, I celebrated his 10 year “anniversary” or otherwise referred to by many pet owners as his “Gotcha Day”.  I bought Snoopy back in July 2007, when I was still back in Wisconsin.  I had done my research on Beagle breeders in the general Midwest area and settled on buying Snoopy from Blackhawk Beagles in Mount Morris, Illinois (The couple who sold me Snoopy were on their last litter at that point and have since retired from breeding).

Left-Snoopy when I brought him home from the breeders. Right-on his 10th anniversary “Gotcha Day!”

But on June 1st of this year, my husband and I weren’t so sure if Snoopy would be making it to his 10 year anniversary.

Back in November 2016, we were told by our vet that Snoopy most likely had arthritis.  He had been exhibiting some pain from time to time, where we couldn’t exactly pinpoint what hurt him!  He’d be on the couch and you touch his head the wrong way; he’d yelp.  Touch his foot the wrong way; he’d make an angry face.  He from time to time couldn’t get up on the couch with ease or the bed.  He would also walk with a drunken stupor and have trouble standing.  Our vet checked his general reflexes and determined he must be having flare-ups of arthritis.  At that time, we were given a liquid anti-inflammatory to administer to Snoopy when we noticed a flare-up happening.  Repeat this for 4 days and he should improve.

This worked fine until the beginning of June.  A flare-up began, but it got worse VERY FAST.  I left for Edmonton with our Track & Field team for provincials, and my husband had to deal with seeing Snoopy deteriorate.  It was not the normal flare-up.  He was losing feeling in his front legs.  Dan took him in for an x-ray, but with him squirming around they couldn’t get a clear one.  We would need to bring him back Monday.  By the time I got home on the Saturday night, Snoopy really didn’t even want to get up from bed.  By Sunday, Dan had to carry him outside whenever we needed to get him out.  He could not stand on his own.  His front legs just weren’t working.

When we took him in on Monday to get a sedated radio graph, the results came back showing he had very bad arthritis all along his spine.  Calcification’s were present.  Spondylosis.  Snoopy could not stand or walk on his own that morning, and for the next week and half he needed to be carried carefully whenever he had to go out.  He was put on a plethora of medications (doggy morphine, nerve pain relievers, muscle relaxers) and also taken off the original anti-inflammatory.  We needed to introduce a waiting period to clear that out of his system before he received a new drug that would be more intense.

snoopy xray

It was really tough that week.  I cried A LOT.  My pregnancy hormones were out of control.  I hadn’t cried this whole pregnancy until this began.  Snoopy had been my fur baby since before I had even met my husband.  He’s been by my side since 2007.  We weren’t sure if he was going to get out of this struggle, if he’d gain strength in his front legs again.  The vet even mentioned if after this regime of drugs were introduced there wasn’t any improvement, we’d have to look at quality of life.  I did not want to even think about letting go of Snoopy.  He is an older dog at 10, but he isn’t even at the Beagle life expectancy  of 12-15.  We can’t put him down….

The week of June 12th he began his new anti-inflammatory steroid.  3 pills each morning.  He also started going to acupuncture on June 10th and would be heading to it 3 times during this very week, with the hopes that improvement would mean visits less often (we have to drive to Calgary to get this done).  Then, on Tuesday, what seemed to be a miracle occurred—he sat and stood up on his own.  I am so glad Dan saw it happen, because if I had told him it h would have thought I was lying.  He was wobbly as hell, and his front legs kept buckling, but something changed in his nerves that he was able to feel his paws again.

His walking reminded me of a baby giraffe.  For about a week, he figured out how to move again, taking steps gingerly.  We still lifted him onto the couch, bed, car…and we built a gate so he couldn’t get up the stairs to the patio.  He continued the steroid and a daily glucosomine tablet, along with acupuncture.  He tapered his steroid down to 1.5 pills every other day, with a new smaller dose presumably coming next week.  He has been to acupuncture 9 times, and does not need to go back until the first week of August.  He appears to be back at nearly 100% (we can also judge this based on the fact that he stole a chicken bone off Dan’s dinner plate, knocked over the garbage in the guest room, ate one of my leather shoes in the closet, and chewed apart the cardboard box that cloth diapers were stored in.  Basically, if he’s an asshole we know he’s feeling pretty damn good).

Snoopy enjoying acupuncture at Calgary Holistic Vet

So is Snoopy cured?  Sadly, we know he is not.  The arthritis is still there.  However, he is functioning, comfortable, and HAPPY.  We know the arthritis will not go away, much like it doesn’t in humans.  But with pain management, we hope to keep him happy for as many more weeks, months and years as possible.  We know he is on ‘borrowed time’ now, and that’s scary.  But, in a way, we both agree it’s good this happened now so we could get ourselves prepared for the tough decisions we may have to make down the road.  We just hope that road is a long ways away.  We really want Snoopy to be around when our baby is born this fall—we know how great he is with kids and having him with our baby will mean the world to us.

 

 

Millarville Half Marathon Relay 2017

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It had been a couple years since I ran in one of the Millarville events, so what better way to get back at it than do a relay with my husband?!?!?  I signed us up some time back, but had always planned that I would run the first leg of the half marathon and he would run the second leg.  We stuck with that plan as race day approached, since I would be over 20 weeks pregnant and the first leg was the shorter distance.  Having just come off a good race time at the Lethbridge 8km Ladiesfest I knew I could pound out a good time for the 9km portion of our relay.

Our alarms went off at 4:15 am that Saturday morning.  We would be driving up to Black Diamond and do our race pickup before the event.  The drive took about 2 hours, so we arrived with about 45 minutes to spare.  There was another reason why doing the relay was the better option for us—we had to bring our dog Snoopy along for the trip.  I’ll be doing a blog post at some point this summer about what has been going on this June, but the main point is that Snoopy has bad arthritis and has been going to Calgary for doggie acupuncture appointments.  We booked an appointment strategically for after the race, since we’d already be almost to Calgary.  Doing the relay allowed one person to stay with Snoopy at all times while the other person ran!

I was off at 7:30 am with the other runners.  All relay and half marathon runners started together.  The 9km portion I was running winds through Black Diamond neighborhoods, past golf courses, and onto paved trails.  It offers some rolling hills and lots to see.  Being the first leg of the relay had the benefit of having lots of other competitors around you as your ran.  This always pushes me more!

I had my phone with me, so I voice texted Dan when I had less than a mile to go. I wanted him to be prepared at the transition area.  I crossed the relay transition with a 9km time of 48:26.08.  My splits were 8:01, 8:55, 8:56, 8:59, 8:28 for miles 1-5.  The distance on my watch clocked in at 5.65 miles and I had an average pace of 8:35 a mile.  

I went to the car (where Snoopy was patiently waiting) and we drove the short drive to the finish line at the Millarville racetrack.  After parking and walking to the finish line, we didn’t have to wait too long for the first half marathoner to come across.  It was then pretty quick having other finishers for the various distances come by.  Dan came by with a half marathon finish time for our team of 1:43.50.  His split for the 12.1 km he ran was a 55:24.57.  This works out to a team average pace of 7:55 minutes/mile.  Not bad for a pregnant wife and a husband who still doesn’t really like to run!

Dan, Andrea and Snoopy


 

Lemonade

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Back in January, I wrote and shared the following post:

The Sourest of Lemons

If you didn’t see it originally, you can read through it.  The general gist of it is talking about the experience I had with my miscarriage in January.  My husband and I found out I had experienced an Anembryonic Pregnancy (blighted ovum).  We found out when I was thought to be around 13 weeks.  I had a D&C surgery a few days after, and really had no clue what the next months ahead would be like.  Was getting pregnant going to be easy, hard, or somewhere in between?  Would this just happen again?

Beginning of March, I take two positive pregnancy tests.  Call my OB/GYN because I was concerned that perhaps these were false positives; hormones still floating around in my body from the first pregnancy perhaps?  I had three blood tests to see if the HCG hormone levels were rising properly.  They were.  I had an ultrasound at what was guessed to be 5.5 weeks.  Couldn’t see much, but the tech did capture a video clip that showed a little blip of some kind.  Came back the following week and the tech could confirm that YES, an embryo and fetal pole had developed.  We saw a heart beat.  This was all new to us, since we never saw this the first pregnancy.


I was an anxious mess the following weeks, as we had to wait until after Easter holidays for the First Trimester Screen test.  This was the test where we found out the sad news in January.  Even though we saw the heartbeat at 6.5 weeks, and even though I was gaining some weight and having other pregnancy symptoms…I still didn’t believe this was real.  We drove to Calgary on April 24th for the appointment.  Once the ultrasound wand hit my belly BOOM-Baby.  Baby moving around.  Stretching out.  Fist pumping.  Yawning.  There was a baby!  


I measured at 13 weeks 5 days, and baby was about 6.4 cm long.  While some of our close family and friends knew what was happening (and various others who I couldn’t keep my mouth shut around) we had not made it public knowledge yet.  While I wanted to go home and announce it that very night, we waited until the following day.

April 25th

This is a day that since April 25th, 2004, I have dreaded.  It was the day my dad passed away.  While in the past few years I have been able to handle the exact day better, the days leading up to it and around it are always tough.  There’s usually a breakdown of some kind.  It has generally been a sad day since 2004. 

We wanted to make April 25th a happy day again.  We wanted to make that day into some sweet Lemonade.

I know my dad has been watching over me all these years.  There have been lots of moments where he’s been a proud, beaming father.  There have been other moments where I can guarantee he was swearing at me for being a f&$king idiot.  I know that on this day, April 25th, 2017, he was excited and sharing it with everyone—proud that his baby would be having a baby.


I think about you every day dad.  I am so lucky to have had a dad like you.

Je Me Souviens.

The Sourest of Lemons

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“…how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.”

This quote was said in episode 1 of NBC’s “This Is Us” which happens to be mine, and Dan’s, favourite TV drama at the moment.  I can say that with certainty because even though we rarely watch it when it is broadcast on Tuesdays (doesn’t air until 10 PM) we record it and he often doesn’t wait for me to watch it.  That show has been my replacement to “Parenthood”, as it really is my “I need a good cry” show.  And a lot of the time, if one of us watches an episode before the other, we rewatch it together.  That same quote was shown on the January 17th, 2017, episode.  And it was timely.

I wrote my last post about a big event in mine and Dan’s life.  I was pregnant.  Note, I say was.  Last week Friday, we headed up to Calgary to get the optional First Trimester Screening test done.  As we did the two hour drive, we talked about baby names, what we really wanted to do when we build the addition, that we should probably look on Calgary kijiji and see if there were any good dressers or rockers we could take a look at on our way home.  We checked in to the radiology centre, I spoke with a receptionist about how I get a free photo of the baby, and we went into the small ultrasound room with a tech.  The tech gelled me up and got the ultrasound up and running.

And  what we saw was just a black, blank space.

Dan was oblivious for a few minutes, as he doesn’t know what an ultrasound is supposed to look like.  I didn’t panic at first; I thought “maybe they just have to move things around and zoom in and there’s the baby.”  But then, the tech had the screen zoomed out so it was the typical ultrasound view you are used to seeing if you were to Google any pregnant woman’s ultrasound.  The black space where there should have been a fetus had nothing.

The tech was taking measurements and very quiet, then asked me to go empty my bladder and come back and do it one more time.  I knew this wasn’t going to be good, but I was still very confused.  I came back, same results.  She said she needed to go talk to the nurse and doctor and would be back.  As she left I curled into fetal position and cried holding Dan’s hand.  What was going on?

Eventually, some people came back and explained I had an “Anembryonic Pregnancy”, also known as “blighted ovum.”  I had gotten pregnant, and when the egg attached to the uterine wall, it never actually became a full blown embryo.  Reading information online tells us the embryo absorbed back into the wall, but a gestational sac and yolk sac still remained.  This gestational sac kept growing over these weeks, and at 13 weeks it was approximately 44 mm.  My body kept thinking I was pregnant this whole time, as I was having many pregnancy side effects-sore breasts, extreme fatigue, more visible veins, gaining weight.  My body had decided to not clear itself of the pregnancy.  This sometimes could happen at 8-12 weeks.  I never experienced any bleeding, spotting, painful cramps.  I was still holding on.

Eventually I dramatically stormed out of the office because a nurse I didn’t know was trying to console me by rubbing my leg.  But then, like in a sitcom, I had to come back into the damn room and grab my jacket.  I was crying in the mall somewhere in North Calgary.  And we had a 2 hour drive home.  As Dan drove, I cried.  I looked at the form the office gave me that had a conclusion statement of “An intrauterine gestational sac is seen but the fetus and fetal heart rate are not identified.  Findings are in keeping with an early fetal demise.  MISSED ABORTION”  What a fucking dark conclusion.

I looked up on reputable websites to find more information about Blighted Ovum.  Apparently it is the cause of half of miscarriages.  A lot of times, women don’t even realize they have it….maybe they didn’t even know they were pregnant and they miscarried before they even had an ultrasound.  I also read that many doctors believe this occurs because when the egg is fertilized, the body recognizes some sort of hormonal abnormality.  The body decides it shouldn’t continue on and it isn’t viable.  I am not a bio teacher, but to me that sounds like a crazy good thing the human body can determine that.

I got myself sort of together and phoned my mom.  I just stared at Highway 2 as she said “oh honey…oh honey…”  I cried.  I messaged two other important people in my life right away.  I had to tell them.  Dan and I stopped at some townie bar in Claresholm to have a beer and dinner.  Dan’s idea for this was that he didn’t want us to taint a place we have good memories of back home in Lethbridge, so we may as well stop at this hole.  Actually turned out to be a good meal.  Damnit.

Dan and I got home and I didn’t even know what to do.  The doctors in Calgary had informed my OB-GYN’s office in Lethbridge, but nothing could be done until at least Monday.  I already had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday, but obviously this would be a very different type of appointment.

The feelings I had were MAD and EMBARRASSED.  I was MAD because if I had been able to get an early ultrasound this could have been determined at as early as week 8.  Still would have been tough to find out then, but instead we got to Christmas.  Then me announcing it to everyone before my Marathon.  And then just earlier that week I told my students I teach.  That’s where the EMBARRASSED feeling comes in.  Now I had to go face everyone and tell them this wasn’t happening.  I know it’s not the right way to feel, but I felt like I had lied to everyone.  

That night, I texted a handful of friends who we had told earlier in December, before announcing it to the world.  I wanted them to know before I told everyone else.  Then, I drank a bottle and a half of wine and stayed up till 3 am.  Saturday morning, Dan made me eggs and I puked up the bottle and a half of wine and the eggs.  I posted an informative Facebook status saying what happened and I sent an email out to the staff at work.  I asked for the staff at work to not reply to my email, which everyone respected.  I didn’t say anything in the Facebook post, but I turned off notifications as I didn’t want to keep getting notified that people commented.

I eventually looked at the comments.  Publicly, people shared they had also experienced a loss.  I also got texts and messages from friends who experienced losses like ours.  Some of my friends I were aware had miscarriages before, others I had not a clue.  Hearing from these friends who have families of their own made me feel better.  I went to work Monday morning, even though many people probably questioned my well-being.  I needed to go otherwise I would have just laid around feeling sorry for myself.  I also had to go because I needed to tell my students what happened.  I teach many mature students, age 15-18.  So it wasn’t necessarily a complete foreign idea to them that this could happen.  But it came as a surprise to many I think.  I told it straightforward and informational…I didn’t cry…I held it together…and then I went on to teach them pre-calculus.  Shit.

At my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, I told my doctor about my ANGER and EMBARRASSMENT.  She said those were totally normal feelings.  And then, we made a comment about it being a ‘fake pregnancy’ and she stopped us right there.  She said if we went on thinking about it that way, we would be really messed up.  It wasn’t fake.  It was very, very real.  It is still a loss.  But we can move on and start over.

I had three options for management of the blighted ovum presented to me—let the pregnancy miscarry itself on its own terms, get medication to force the miscarriage, or get a D&C (dilation & curettage) performed.  I at first had thought I wanted medication, but it was explained that the medication sometimes doesn’t kick in right away….and sometimes it doesn’t clear everything out…and you still need another ultrasound to make sure all the tissue is gone…and you sometimes still need a D&C.  So we booked a D&C for Thursday.

I’ve been in surgery before, so I don’t really get bothered about the idea of getting put under general anaesthesia.  I just wanted this procedure to be completed so we could move forward.  Check in at 6:30 am…in a pre-op bed by 8 am…IV with saline by 8:30…. moved to a different room by 9:50….into surgery by around 11.  Last thing I remember before being knocked out was the strangely soothing jazz/blues/I-don’t-know-what guitar music that was playing in the operating room.  I woke up in another room and all I wanted was water.  The nurse attending to me talked to me quite a bit and I found out she rode her Harley with her husband all over and really wanted to go to Milwaukee.  That provided distraction as I told her all about the summer festivals, tailgating, the microbreweries.  I was a fucking Milwaukee tour guide while hopped up on what I later found out to be Fentanyl.

We eventually were on our way out of the hospital by 2 pm.  Long day.  Requested frozen yogurt, got home, and plopped on the couch in the basement to watch TV.  I was bleeding but not throbbing in pain yet, as the anaesthesia hadn’t worn off.  So I told Dan I wanted to watch “This Is Us” from Tuesday.  He had already watched it earlier that week, and when I wanted to watch it Wednesday night he said he wasn’t sure if I could handle it.  Oh shit.  Watching it anyway.

Well, we watched it together.  It was a great episode.  It was basically the first episode, but from a different point of view.  I didn’t cry, mainly because I didn’t have any tears left in my tear ducts.  I went upstairs to get my water bottle, and in the fridge I find a bottle of lemonade….

lemonade

The tears flowed.  I went downstairs and Dan and I hugged.  It had been a really, really, really shitty week.  Extremely.  But we are strong.  We are going ot move forward.  We have eachother.  We have our family.  We have our friends.  We can turn the sourest of lemons into something amazing.

 

 

 

My Next “Big Event”

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Hello and happy 2017 everyone!  I have recently returned from the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, where I completed the Goofy Challenge*…there’s an asterisk there because in the history books, this will be the race weekend that had the half marathon cancelled.  I will be doing a complete write-up on the weekend, but I wanted ot let everyone know some of the basics:

The WDW half, which was scheduled to be held on Saturday, January 7th, was cancelled the night before due to a threatening storm coming through the area.  Thunder and lightning occurred all throughout the evening and into the morning, and this would have cause the race to be cancelled either while we were in the corrals waiting to start, or after we started.  It would have been a disaster!  So, many runners did their own “unofficial” WDW half later that day when the storm system cleared.  I completed the 13.1 miles with two friends.  We wanted to complete the distance, so that we could wear our Challenge medals with pride the next day.  On Sunday, January 8th, the marathon went on without a hitch.  I was able to run with my best friend Ali, as she completed her very first full marathon.  It was an amazing weekend!

I alluded in my last post that I would be talking about what was in store for 2017…well, as you can see by my updated “countdown” on the side….I am pregnant!  I am due late July, and while I was in Disney I hit the 12 week mark.  Today I am 13 weeks, and will be heading to Calgary to get my combined First Trimester Screening test done.  My husband and I are very excited, anxious, nervous, scared, elated, etc.  We have always wanted to have a kid, but I was always the one who had concrete running goals I wanted to achieve first….qualify for Boston, go to Boston…then get foot surgery due to all my running…Really, I think waiting longer was also in my husband’s mind too, but I always was the one with the “bucket list” of things I wanted to achieve before we started a family.

WDW Marathon Weekend!

WDW Marathon Weekend!

I know runners who read this page wouldn’t think anything negative about it, but the general public I know will say “Wait…so you ran a half marathon and a full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant?  Is that safe?”  The long and short of it is, YES.  I had been in talks with my family doctor (who runs a sports medicine clinic) since this past summer and he was well aware of my Goofy Challenge goals.  When I got referred to my OB-GYN, the first thing I let her know was that I was flying out to Orlando in January to do a 39.3 mile challenge.  She said “Great!”  Everyone is different—obviously, if you were doing your first full marathon and just started running, there may be some hesitation.  This was not my first rodeo.  I also was not going for any time goal of say, a Boston qualification.  I had to change some of my fueling during the race (as in increase my food intake) and watch my heart rate.  I know my body, even when I have a baby growing in it, and I could recognize if there was any impending issues.  And now, I can say I completed a half and full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant!  Should I maybe have gotten an additional medal for each since really I ran for two?!?!?!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

So what’s the plan now going into 2017?  Well, I am registering for a few local races, with the farthest distance being a 10km.  I am planning on running 3-4 days a week, as long as I am allowed to during this pregnancy.  I will begin Runners Soul Marathon Club next weekend, where I will run with the half marathon distance runners on Saturdays.  My times will not be important, I am just doing this to stay fit and active.  Once I get to a 10 mile training run distance, I may have to cut it short or I may have to walk a bit.  And that’s fine.

So that’s my news.  My next big event.  The training will be a little different than what I’ve grown accustomed, but I’m ready to take it on!

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My “Announcement” shirt…wore the tank during my “unofficial” WDW Half


2016 in Review

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I like doing my ‘recap’ on the year of running events at the end of each calendar year.  Just a little summary of what my main take-a-ways are from the events I participated in.  I know I wrote a recap for each after they originally occurred, and I have all the stats and details on how I did on my Race Results 2016 link, but now that it has been a couple months since some of these events occurred I thought it would be fun to see what I think of when I reflect on what I did this year!

The Hypothermic Half Marathon was my first event of 2016.  I really have nothing to say about this event, other than I know I signed up for it to include it as part of a training run.  I really just remember being done and at brunch with Zita, Aimee and others, and us just talking about how unimpressed we were with the event.  I had a good time hanging out with them, I got a training run in, and I will not be running this event in 2017.

Moonlight Run 10km in March.  Always my first ‘race’ of the year.  I always get nervous for it too!  This was an exciting year as I got to wear my “Run Red Deer” shirt from the Woody’s RV Marathon, as I won “Runner of the Month” and was going to promote the Red Deer event at our local event!  I also was able to finally win some prize money at the Moonlight Run!  I always love this event not only because of how many people come out from the city to participate, but because of all the volunteers who are from Winston Churchill High School (where I teach).

Run the Trailbreaker Half Marathon back in Waukesha, Wisconsin, was a race to remember….as it was almost a blizzard the morning of the race!  In early April!  Weather was AWFUL but it made it fun for running.  Again, I used this race as a training run for Boston, and it was helpful to have the race while I was home visiting family for Easter.  Otherwise, I would have not wanted to go outside and run in that weather!

10 Mile Road Race was great this year, as I ran my personal best time for the event.  I also was excited to win some prize money that would be taken to Boston!  What I remember most from this day is that I locked my keys in my car 10 minutes before race start!  When I finished the race, I borrowed Dennene’s phone to call AMA.  They came and unlocked my car in time for the 10 mile awards!


BOSTON MARATHON….well, if this list wasn’t in chronological order and in an order where the best event of the year was talked about last….this would be it.  I still can’t even wrap my head completely around this experience.  Really, it wasn’t about just race day.  It was about the years I have spent running full and half marathons….the times I failed to qualify….all the training it took to qualify….the waiting to race day….It was a process!  My husband and I had a fantastic time in the city, touring it via public transit and my foot.  We saw a baseball game, went on a brewery tour, ate awesome seafood, drank a lot of beer, and even ran the B.A.A. 5 km together.  The trip will go down as one of my most memorable trips (in general).  My proudest running accomplishment was qualifying for Boston…being able to run in Boston was the reward.


I did only one Spartan Race this year, and it was the Montana Spartan Beast.  This was the first year I did not do the Montana race weekend with my husband Dan.  But, I got to do it with my best friend Ali!  She flew in from Redondo Beach, California, to deal with this crazy 14 mile course.  She has continued to stand by her statement that this was the toughest Spartan Race she has ever done…even a harder course than the World Championship Course in Tahoe!

A local Lethbridge 51 elementary school put on a little 2km/5km event in May.  The Lakeview Superhero 5km was a great event that the school did as a fundraiser for their new playground.  Lots of kids were out there doing the 2km.  It honestly was a bigger turnout than I expected!  Having a local elementary school do an event like this helps get the kids interested in running at a young age, and that’s awesome!

I’ve done the Woody’s RV World Red Deer Half Marathon before.  This was my 5th time running in it.  But it was definitely the nastiest weather I have had to deal with at it!  My husband also ran it (hadn’t trained at all) and of course….he did just fine.  I still beat him, but my time was not that impressive.  I was most impressed with him running while wearing a garbage bag as a poncho the whole time!  The downpour was ridiculous!

I had sworn I wasn’t going to do this race again….and then I  registered for it…again.  The Calgary Marathon Weekend 50km Ultra was being held for the 3rd time, in conjunction with marathon weekend.  I figured that since I had done Boston at end of April, and this was at end of May, my legs would still be primed for it.  I also wanted to prove to myself that I could run it faster than I did the year before, as the heat was pretty nasty the first time I did it.  It was again a tough race, but I felt more confident during it this time around.  I cut off a bunch of time from my first year  I ran it, and even walked away with 1st place in the female 30-34 category!  I now have two trophies in my race bling collection, and they are both from the Calgary 50km Ultras!  This race was also monumental as it was my little ‘farewell’ from running for a bit, as I would be going under the knife two weeks later for my foot surgery.  Figured my foot was already messed up, nothing that a 50km road race couldn’t do to make it any worse!


Lethbridge Police Services Run is an event I’ve been enjoying every year.  This year, I wouldn’t be participating in the half marathon, as my foot was not ready post-surgery.  I did join our cross country runners as they ran in the 5km.  It was a great event to be a part of, and I really enjoyed being able to see the kids out there.  It was also my 32nd birthday, so that marked for a fun way to spend it!

 

The first event post-surgery that I attempted to “race” was the Bare Bones 9km.  They have had a half marathon in the previous years, but this year it wasn’t an option.  So, I chose the odd 9km distance.  I pushed as hard as I could, and I felt completely beat afterwards, but I was pleased with how I finished and how my foot held up.  It was far off my times I was hitting the year before, but it was a good start and a great sign of things to come post-surgery.

 

The Claus Cause 10km is another local event that I have participated in quite a few times.  It was held in November, and we weren’t having November weather yet.  I wore shorts during this run!  It was still another test for my foot, and my foot did well.  And of course, the gingerbread men ‘medals’ were handed out for top category runners.  My gingerbread man had a bit of a foot issue….coincidence?  I have said in the past and I’ll say it again—I love the events that Runners Soul puts on in town.  It’s such a great ‘get-together’ at any of their events, because there are so many familiar faces!

My last ‘event’ of 2016 was the Santa Shuffle.  Put on by Running Room Canada, this is a small  casual 5km fun run.  I signed up for this for the sole purpose of adding mileage to my daily training run, as  I was right in the thick of things for my Goofy Challenge training by this first week in December.


So that was my 2016.  14 events over the course of 12 months.  And considering I was out of commission for two of the months, I’ll take it.  2016 will always be the year I ran Boston….that’s for sure.  That’s obviously what I’ll think of first.  But, all these other events that surrounded it have a special place too.  All the events I have ran since my first half marathon in 2004 have a special place.  Sure, the medals I receive for finishing a race or placing in a race don’t have much monetary value….but they have value to me.  Every.  Last.  One.

On to 2017!  What will it bring……?!?!?!?!??!?!

 

Reflection Post-Election…

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…But nothing to do with politics!

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post, which was about my last race.  In those weeks since, I have been trying to stay away from Twitter, Facebook and the likes….because it always just gets me in trouble.  I was really good up until the night of the election and then I just ugly cried into my beer.  Then I pounded another beer.  And then I believe I made some Facebook comments angrily…..mature.

I had been avoiding Twitter even more, because I was sick of seeing anything election related leading up to the election.  For about the last month I honestly did not tweet as much as I used to.  I get too aggravated seeing things that upset me at my core, and I can’t deal with my anger well.  So, I just cut Twitter off pretty much.

I know I said this wasn’t a post about politics.  It isn’t.  Trust me.  Because I’m done talking about it.  What I said above was necessary, though, because in my absence of Twitter I didn’t connect with the #runchat community as much.  I am not necessarily a huge contributor to the community, but a lot of the people I follow on Twitter are through Runchat.  Many of these people I have never met.  I joined Twitter initially to help spread the word about this blog.  To connect with other runners.  To read more about running.  To find out more information about RunDisney events.  To commiserate with others when I failed to qualify for Boston.  Twice.  To celebrate with others when I finally did qualify!  To be able to be part of #BQChat, and to spread the joy and recount my trip to the 120th Boston Marathon.  I joined Twitter for running.  Not for politics.  It’s just a shame that it had to overtake my Twitter feed for the past bit that it bothered me so much that I needed to just not open it for some time.

I love talking about running.  About other people and their running experiences.  About my own experiences.  About goals, plans, dreams.  But most of the time, I like to just run alone.  I know a lot of people need a group or a running partner when they go on a long run, but I still yearn for those long runs when I am by myself.  Today, I ran 14 miles in the Lethbridge River Bottom.  It is November 13th.  And it is ridiculously gorgeous out.  I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  And sunglasses.  I headed out at roughly 10 am.  Down to the river valley I went.  I looped through the paved paths of Indian Battle Park, down past the Helen Schuler Nature Centre, to the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands, back past the Baroness Picnic Shelter, over to Whoop-Up Drive, onto the shale and dirt filled path that takes one right underneath the iconic high-level bridge….I took breaks during this run.  I took some pictures.  I took my time.  I eventually made my way back home and took my shoes off to find new blisters on my left foot.  My right foot, the surgery foot, felt good though.  It is worth noting, though, that during this solo run I never felt alone.  I ran past tons of couples, friends, families….all out enjoying the beautiful November Sunday.  Some people I passed two times.  I ran into other runners, who as we crossed paths we gave the little head nod to acknowledge the other.  I had my mind entwined in all the crazy things I have been thinking about the past while.  And when I returned from my run, while those crazy things weren’t gone….they weren’t driving me absolutely mad.




Tension.  Frustration.  Stress.  Sadness.  Anger.  

These things were all released from the simple act of going on a run.

Happiness.  Joy.  Accomplishment.  Satisfaction.  Pride

These things were all gained from the simple act of going on a run.

I know running can’t solve all the worlds’ problems, but I know it helps a lot of us deal with them a little bit better.

 

Go run.  You won’t regret it.

 

Volunteering at the Lost Soul Ultra

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Copyright LostSoulUltra.com

For all the races I have ran in over the years, I had yet to volunteer at an event.  Until now.  Each September, Lethbridge is home to a well-known ultra marathon event-The Lost Soul UltraMarathon.  This year’s event fell on the weekend of September 9-10th, and offered three different race distances: The 50km, 100km and 100 mile.  The race winds it way through the challenging Lethbridge coulees, taking you way up on ridges that overlook the river valley, and then down along the river bottom.  The course is not just full of basic climbs and descents—it is filled with grueling hills, single track madness and rough terrain.  It is not for the faint at heart!

I signed up earlier this summer for two volunteer shifts.  I would be volunteering at the headquarters, which was located behind Lethbridge Lodge.  This is the starting and finishing point for all events, plus a transition area for different legs of the 100km and 100mile.  I would be working from 4-8 pm on the Friday evening and then a few hours later, the graveyard shift of midnight-4 am.

The Lost Soul committee put on a nice volunteer BBQ a few weeks before the event on August 29th.  We got to mingle with other volunteers, receive our shirts (I was able to get a long sleeve shirt since I signed up for two shifts) and basic information.  On race day, I reported to headquarters and found Lorelei, our station captain.  The only runners on the course at this time were 100km and 100 mile runners, as their event began at 8 am that Friday.

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Finish area by headquarters

The timing of my first shift ended up being a crazy time at headquarters.  Lots of runners from both distances were coming through transition area.  As a volunteer, we were to help these runners at the aid station.  Whether it was fetching their drop bag (all runners could leave drop bags or boxes with their race number at each aid station) or finding them food or water in the aid tent.  The aid tent was unreal-at my first shift, there was a gentleman manning the grill making bacon.  Lots and lots of bacon!  The runners needed their salt!!!  He later on made burgers for the runners.  There was hot chicken broth, various fruit, sugary candy, chips, coffee, water, pop, and a whole lot more.  Runners had to check in with the timers as their entered the aid station, and could stay as long as they needed.  We then would put their drop bags back and send them off.

I was able to see quite a few runners that I knew during this time as they came through the aid station.  It was great to cheer on friends and people I knew from marathon club.  During my first shift I even got to see the 100km lead runner crush the course record and finish in around 10 hours and 55 minutes!  My friend Bob was helping crew him, so I got to hang out with Bob and his daughter Abby as they waited to see him come in and take the title.

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Shift 1 done!  Also now sporting my Lost Soul buff I received for volunteering

I headed out to dinner with a friend after shift 1, tried to take a nap (but failed) and came back at midnight.  It was a lot quieter at headquarters then, as far as runners go.  The runners have gotten more spread out, and the amount of runners coming in to the aid station at the same time had dispersed.  But that doesn’t mean that headquarters was boring.  There were lights and music, lots of happy volunteers to keep the runners’ morale up, and more food being served.  The later shift was a lot of fun because most of the 100km runners that came through were finishing.  Some of these people were seasoned vets, and some it was their first 100km race.  My friend Aimee came in well under her goal finishing her first 100km race!  She ran the race with her Dad, who is a veteran of these types of events!  I also got to meet a lady also named Andrea, who was also from Wisconsin!  She came all this way to do this race!  I had brought some Sprecher Soda with me to the midnight shift, so I gave her a taste of home by handing her a Puma Kola when she was finished.

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Aid Station at Headquarters between midnight and 4 am

 

Volunteering was an awesome experience, and I wish I had done it sooner.  It felt great to give back to the local Lethbridge running community, as it has already given so much to me.  Honestly, running races in Lethbridge and finding Marathon Club at Runners Soul really has kept me sane as I transitioned from a Wisconsinite to a Canadian.  I have met lifelong friends.  I have been able to reach goals I never thought would be possible. Everyone who runs in races should try to volunteer at a local race to pay it forward.  I am happy I did and I know I will again.

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Lost Soul Ultra is a premier ultra marathon ran in Lethbridge, Alberta, each fall.  Runners from all over North America make it out to western Canada to tackle our beautiful coulees and river valley.  For more information about this prestigious event, go to Lost Soul Ultra

August 2016—All in One Post!

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So, I did around 3,500 miles this month!….

In my car.

I haven’t been active here lately, partly due to my roadtrip!  On July 31st, I packed up my trusty 2009 Pontiac Vibe and hit the road.  Along with the essential clothing, toiletries and podcasts to entertain, I also packed my 9 year old beagle, Snoopy.  Where were we heading?  We were going across the border south east to my hometown of Franklin, Wisconsin.  We had stopovers planned in Longville, Minnesota (my aunt and uncle live there).  Snoopy is an excellent travel companion; I honestly cannot say that enough.  He just curls up and sleeps the whole time, does not fuss, and is excited to arrive to any destination.  So I kept myself occupied by listening to a variety of podcasts and when I really started losing it I would talk to Snoopy.

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All packed and ready to hit the road!

 

We made it to my mom’s on August 4th, and we stayed until August 22nd.  During that time, I was able to see all of my family that lives in the area, attend a closing day of Badgerette Pom Pon camp (I worked for Badgerette for 5 summers), watch the State Distinguished Young Woman show with my friend Maureen (I won 2nd alternate back in it’s Junior Miss hey day), go to two travelling beer gardens, see a bunch of my friends back home, eat and drink my way through both Wisconsin State Fair & Zoo Ala Carte, go to my favourite Mexican restaurant 3 times, play in a bag toss tournament, and so much more.

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“Swimming” with Snoopy in Lake Wabedo in Northern Minnesota

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When you are in Longville, MN, you go to the Meat Raffle at the bar….and win!

 

The main reason I drove was so I would be able to bring back the remains of my childhood that was still housed at my moms.  It wasn’t that she was forcing me to take it, but I have been gone since 2008, so I figured it was time.  Yearbooks, photos, games, puzzles, Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop, etc, etc, etc….It is now all back in Alberta.  I also packed up some New Glarus Beer, a ton of Wisconsin cheese, 32 bottles of Sprecher soda, and who knows what else.  Snoopy and I arrived back in Lethbridge on August 24th.  Wow, it felt good to get back!  We both missed his daddy Dan and his brothers Woodstock and Faron.

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That’s for DAMN sure!

 

During that trip, I also started running.  I had done my first 5km run prior to the trip in a numbing time of 33:43.  I had walked and jogged a bunch during it.  That was on July 28th.  Remember, my foot surgery was on June 10th.  I had been given the clear I could start running after my 6 week post op on July 21st.  I did my first humid (SO HUMID AND HOT) Wisconsin run on August 7th.  It was a little 20 minute jaunt that average 9:40 per mile.  Oww.  On August 11th, I went out to try and beat my July 28th 5km time.  I did so handedly, running a 30:02!  So close to that sub 30!  I did a couple other 1-2 mile runs during my time in Wisconsin, but I wanted to try and get under 30 minutes.  On August 16th, I set out to do that.  I ran that 5km in 28:20!  These gains I have made in less than a month since coming back into running are huge.  I was going nuts not running for over 6 weeks, and taking this time to get my newly fixed foot used to running (and running properly) has been great.

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5km well under 30 minutes!

 

Since returning to Lethbridge, I am happy that the humidity is gone.  I have ran on August 25th, 26th and 27th, and the weather has been glorious.  The biggest highlight was yesterday, the 27th.  I went out to run a sole mile with the goal of getting between 8:00-8:15, a pace I was always easily able to obtain on my runs, and my sweet spot for my Boston qualifying pace.  I finished that mile in 8:14!  Guess what world…LAMMERS IS BACK!

And guess what today is?  Today marks the start of WEEK 1 of my GOOFY CHALLENGE training plan.  I have put together a very non-aggressive 19 week training plan with the goal of “comfortable completion” of the 2017 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge, which is a half marathon on Saturday, January 7th followed by a full marathon on Sunday, January 8th.  The even more special thing about this race is that I will be running my 2nd WDW full marathon alongside my best friend Ali.  It will be her very first full marathon!  I will be there to support her through those dark moments (especially between miles 15-23!!!)  She has run half marathons before, and I have set her up with a training plan to coincides with her Spartan Race and Crossfit schedule.  It will be a weekend to remember!

 

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The original “Pottage Pose” from the marathon portion of the 2014 Dopey Challenge in WDW

 

 

19 weeks is a LONG training plan.  When I ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2015 and Boston in 2016, I had an intense 16 week plan.  This plan does not include speedwork.  It just has two easy runs a week plus a long run on the Saturday.  Then, in late October, I add another mid distance run on Friday, which will help prepare me for the two day challenge that Goofy presents.  I am not going for any speed records at this race; I want to get my body back into running shape so I can begin to push myself again come the new year!

I have updated my 2016 race schedule, as I have a few local events in October and November.  I will be recapping those after they occur, and I will definitely be keeping you posted on how my Goofy training goes.  Until then, I need to get ready for my first day back at work tomorrow….Teachers start this week, with students coming in the day after Labour Day.  For teachers, this is our “New Year”.  Happy New Year to all the teachers, students and parents out there! 

So…How is my foot doing now???

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So, I’m sure I’ll get a lot of freaky foot fetish people finding this post, but I don’t care.  Having a few of my post surgery photos available for those who are going to be having the same procedure as me will be helpful, and I want to also let everyone know my progress now that I am 49 days post surgery.

Cliff Notes

Procedures-Bunionectomy (fix bunion on outside of foot), Cheilectomy (removal of bone spur), Arthritis of the big toe cleanout (called Hallux Rigidus…yeah, I’m only 31)….all on the right foot, big toe area.

Date of Procedure-Friday, June 10th, 2016 at Cardston Medical Clinic, performed by Dr. Williams of Chinook Foot & Ankle Clinic

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“Before” X-Ray from May 2016.  Look at that nasty toe!

My original post about post surgery experience is here.  I had meant to do recaps on how I was doing each week, but yeah…summer happened.  What have I been doing?  Well, I am really, really tan from laying on our rooftop patio.  I also got a whole math course worked through for the fall, made answer keys for the Mathematics SL IB World Exam, crocheted three pairs of slippers, and generally went crazy.  I kept occupied.  But I needed exercise.  On June 27th, I was given permission to go in the water for deep water jogging while at my two-week post op.  I had never been so excited to be in a pool (note:  I hate swimming.  I am more of a pool, margarita and tan kind of girl).  I went to our local YMCA and got a one-month membership at just below $60.  I used it, I think, 28/30 days!  I started with deep water jogging, which felt weird as I could not really move my toes at all.  I was nervous to flutter kick.  I didn’t want my foot to bust open and then have the lifeguards close the pool because blood was everywhere.

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After 2nd post op on June 27th.  Bandages of, steri-strips remain.  Foot sewn together.

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Later on the 27th, I had lost all but one steri-strip.  This is when I realized I didn’t want to bust my foot open

I also went lap swimming approximately 3 times.  That ended fast because I suck at swimming.  I even went and bought a good pair of goggles.  My best friend Ali, the swim coach, approved them, as she didn’t want me buying “cheap swimming lesson goggles.”  My preferred swimming stroke?  Lets call it “breast-paddle” or “doggy-stroke”.  I combine doggy paddle and breaststroke to create this beautiful form.  Gross.

I wasn’t going to be seeing my doctor again until July 21st, so I carefully kept walking in my medical shoe, making sure not to put pressure on the ball of my foot.  I iced a lot, and I was very careful.  About 3.5 weeks after surgery, all while still wearing the shoe, I had the need to sweat.  Walking more than around my yard was painstakingly slow, but I figured I would try an elliptical at the YMCA.  I kept the shoe on my right foot, with my Altra on my left, and got myself positioned on the elliptical.  Since you keep you feet flat and don’t have to go on the balls of your feet while using this machine, it provided another option in addition to water jogging.

As my healing progressed, I did more elliptical and less water jogging.  I would do the water jogging 2-3 times a week and would time it so I could stay in the pool an extra 45 minutes after the morning class and just water jog in the deep end by myself (a waterfit class was occurring in the shallow end).  My scab was gone, everything seemed to be healing fine, and my tattoo was lined up damn well!

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July 18th, laying on the patio with the beagle.  Probably with a beer.

My 6 week post op was on July 21st.  Doctor said everything looked good, however, I needed to be doing some physio with my toes, as since I had been SO careful to not bend them or put pressure on them, I was not able to bend them on my own.  I was also a little nauseated when I saw the x-ray, as the screws look like they could have been taken from my husbands shop.  But, I am told they won’t set off metal detectors.  And, look how good that toe looks!  Straight!  No bump!  Bright white arthritis gone!

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I’m officially screwed….hahaha

What have I done since then?  I have been to two physio appointments (I already had a physiotherapist from the months before) and he worked on my toes real good.  I’m doing exercises to bend them, and still icing as needed.  My YMCA membership expired yesterday, so I asked my physiotherapist if I could run today.  He knows how I am, and he told me to give it a shot.  My podiatrist also told me that when I did start running, I just would need to listen to my body.  So, I went to the lake and did 5 km!  I ran them very cautiously, with lots of walk breaks in mile 1, one walk break in mile 2 and then no walk breaks in mile 3.  My average pace: 10:52 a mile.  A far cry from my 7:13 a mile I ran back at a local 5km in May which was a few weeks after Boston.  But, I know there isn’t any racing for me in the near future.  I am not planning on ‘racing’ for the rest of 2016.  Just training and getting myself back to comfortable longer runs.  My goal race is the WDW Marathon Weekend, where I will be doing the Goofy Challenge (half marathon on Saturday, full marathon with my best friend on Sunday) and I am going to run them just for fun.  No time goal, no personal bests.  Just FUN!  My training for this race weekend begins officially on August 29th.

I was going to take a photo now of my foot before posting this, but I have been doing quite a bit today and had a sock on, so it’s really funky looking.  It feels great though!  Are my results and recovery normal for this type of surgery?  I am not really sure.  I know people who have had only the bunionectomy done and have had much more of a difficult time recovering.  My bunion was not completely horrible, but we decided to go ahead as I was being opened up anyway.  I was extra careful post surgery to not do too much and get infected…until I knew the scar had healed and wouldn’t bust open.  And while I told myself to wait until August 1st to try running, I knew being reasonable out there today would be alright.  I am looking forward to fully recovering and getting back to racing speed.

If you or anyone you know has questions about my procedures and recovery, please feel free to leave a comment or email me.