Monday, December 30, 2013

Can you believe that is ME? Hiking in Vegas. What happens in Vegas (training) will come home with me!

If you have been keeping up with my blog, you know that in the past few days, I have been doing a lot of hiking here in Las Vegas, with Marc.  And a whack load of it is UPHILL.  So, here I am, 46 years old, still closer to 300 pounds than 250 and its incredible because HILLS HAVE STOPPED PHASING ME.  Now, don't get me wrong. Marc calls me his 'Canary in a coal mine' since if the grade changes even slightly I can tell with my breathing however I no longer stop and stay 'I can't' (well, there was one time yesterday but I just wanted one day in Vegas where my butt and legs and hips weren't screaming with soreness.) I know I can.  I take my time.  I do it slowly but I do it and you know what? It does not take ma a whole lot of time to recover anymore.

I contrast this with the me who does not like to climb stairs  if avoidable, or to walk on pavement let along ankle breakers and gravel (which is way harder than I thought, especially since i am a total klutz!)

That same me, hunted for a vacation place where i could walk and hike and made it a priority every single day!  Every time Marc asked me what I wanted to do, I answered, 'well you know my priority is hiking!'

Even days after experiencing extreme soreness at night, I did not make the decision to walk or not to walk until seeing how I actually was, instead of deciding not to because I felt awful at night.

One of the most amazing things about this whole thing (and a month from now, we will be in Orlando, pre race) is the changes in my head.  Also, being here has made me  realize that it really is getting out the door that is the hardest thing.

When I was working that insane six weeks or so, there really was no way that I could have trained.  My body was falling apart as it was.  The good thing is that from doing my research and learning about endurance training, I know that Rome was neither built or destroyed in a day.

I am coming home to God only knows what , weather wise, but it is my intention to endurance walk outside whenever possible.  I will see about joining the Mac Gym for a month or maybe the other one that is cheap but only if I can do it short term.  I don't know exactly how busy I will be in the next month but I am definitely prioritizing training otherwise 1 month will turn into two and while I know I CAN finish even without finishing training, I really want to not be dead on my feet for my last two days in florida!

I just cannot believe where my willingness has gone in the last 5 or so months, since I started training on August 12.  If this is possible, maybe anything is?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Training in Vegas...Dec.31 fast approaching!

Yesterday, we went on a ten k walk.  We had plans in the afternoon and had to get it done pretty fast so we just walked down East Tropicana until we hit 5k and then turned around and came back.  I wore new socks that were 'anti blister' and new shoes and I am not sure which caused the problem but from km 7 or so I was dying.  I developed blisters  and my gait changed as I favoured the right foot.  I finished but it was not easy like the first half had been.  This tree is on the street our hotel is on.  I guess this is the extent of the Fall season in Vegas.

Smiling for the picture but dying inside from pain in my right foot!

In any case, it was a nice day weatherwise and it cemented to me that I really don't live walking where there're cars.  I like clean air...

Today we went out to the Red Rock Canyon.

I don't know if you remember this sign from the last trip 
But today we saw 

The last time we were in Las Vegas it was 120F.  We could never have gone hiking there then.  Oh. Wait.  The last time we were in Vegas was before I started training for Team Yachad at the Miami Marathon.  So, not only was it 120F, but we also would not have gone hiking, even if the weather had been like it was today. So, since walking was the purpose of the trip today, I did all sorts of research and found a route that was the right distance on our training plan for today, and not too difficult.  We drove out to the Red Rock Canyon and parked at what we thought was the right Trail head.

This was a hell walk not just a bitch walk.  The path was rocky and in places required rock climbing.  I really wanted to turn back and god only knows why we didn't.  The hike was less than 2 k but took 1.5 hours and included scrambling up the hill you see here which looks innocous enough but is actually an insane hill with bad footing a lot of rocks, dry vegetation and no handholds.

To be honest, I was terrified.  the angle was incredibly steep.  I kept seeing little holes in the ground too which just served to remind me that there were probably rattle snakes inside some of those holes.

and then there was the 2 k back to the car.  Oy.  

On the other hand, as much as I hated it, I did it.  IT WAS HARD. harder than sassafras.  Harder than anything I have ever done before.  and I did it.

the next day, we went to the hoover dam and did  the walk that goes up to lake mead.  We did not do the whole thing because we ran out of time and the damn hike was ALL uphill which on the heels of the red rock canyon's hell climb was not great for making speed.

in any event at least that had a smooth path and even though it was all uphil, at no point was there any feeling of 'if you misstep, you are going to die!'

On Shabbat we did not walk and I had some delayed onset muscle  soreness which was insanely painful last night walking around.  We were going to do the 21 k today but we were up way too late and we are going to go walking today but take it easier.  I am torn between taking advantage of my last opportunity for a 13 mile walk and not killing myself.

On the other hand, we moved our return flight to tomorrow night so theoretically we could do it tomorrow, althought without support of a hotel room. and showers and such.  ugh.

oh well, we will let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Let me preface this to say that in fact this post is not about amounts of money.  The donations I am mentioning are amazing for various reasons.  And the amounts of money they refer to range from $5 to hundreds.  I sincerely appreciate every single donation, every single note sent to me privately or publically offering moral support and every single bit of advice given to get me started or keep me going.  You all have made this journey SO special! If you aren't sure why, read the rest of my blog!

The idea for this post came to me last Sunday.  I was on my way to Toronto with a wedding cake for the wedding of friends and I got a text from Gabe Chaimovitz.  His son's Upsherin (when a jewish boy gets his hair cut at 3 years old, a tradition some people hold) Gabe, who has gorgeous curly thick hair that he had been growing for quite a while auctioned off the cutting of his hair to raise money for yachad and sponsor me in the marathon.  He accomplished the impossible by making me completely speechless.  I had no idea that he was going to do this for Yachad.  I was absolutely blown away.

Gabe and his wife Corrinne are always good friends and they are truly stellar people.  To have shared Jaker's limelight with Yachad to help us raise profile would have been enough to help me accomplish my goal of raising profile, but to also raise money just elevated this mitzvah to a level that is so incredible!  Gabe owns a business called TEGS Tools ( and I have asked him for some interesting things (mostly involving welder's glass- once for an eclipse and now for our plague bags for passover!) so give him a call if you need anything!  His customer service is second to none!

Adaliah Schweitzer offered to make me a pretty profile picture to support my blog and my fundraising for Yachad (since I had been hoping the blog would be something i could capitalize on for corporate sponsorships.)  We have not had time to actually get this together but it was so thoughtful and much appreciated.  Adaliah is a very talented photographer.  You can see her work at She takes breathtaking pictures.

Next is my friend Adrienne who while I have never met her in person, I have known for many, many years.  She gave me a donation just because I asked.  I have to say that that is a concept I never really thought about before. I often don't take action on donation requests for cash flow or other reasons sometimes even because I am just too lazy to go get my wallet out and find my credit card.  Adrienne's donation made me think about the fact that it is not about how much, its' about responding to the ask.  She actually changed my way of thinking on the topic.

My friends Jonathan and Jocelyn did something interesting too.  They sponsored me for every achievement that I made.  5k, 10 k and so on.  It was a truly inspiring way to both support me and yachad!

Then there are the Christian Ministers.  I have friends, Ray and Rosalind MacDonald.  My mom is friends with Reverent Sherif Garas.  The MacDonalds work for Leket Israel so they are also very into fundraising.  Rev. Garas' wife Magda works with my Mom in her very high special needs class in Applewood School in Toronto.  When the Garas' and the MacDonald's donated, both of the donations came with big blessings and a huge amount of interfaith appreciation. I wonder if my friends were randomly asking for support of Christian causes, if I would have even thought about sponsoring them.  Ok, maybe because if they were doing something physical like me, maybe, but still, the Garas are complete strangers to me!  And Ray and Rosalind who love Israel and Jews just the way they are, well, your generosity in sending me dollars that could also have gone to Leket, is appreciated!

And then there is Gloria Christianson.  One day, I was standing in Fortino's and the cashier was new or something and started talking to Gloria.  Somehow we got on the topic of the Marathon and she handed me $100 and said, ' I had a severely disabled child who died when he was 18.  Please take this donation because I so appreciate what you are doing!' I did think to get her a tax receipt, so I have her contact information but other than that she was a total stranger!

My daughter Ariel committed ten percent of her Bat Mitzvah money to charity.  She gave a donation to Leket Israel, and also to my Team Yachad.  I love that it was SHE who remembered that it needed to be done and prodded me til it got done (i have a credit card!)

Then this past week someone contacted me to say that they would make sure we got to $3000 but just to let them know on Dec. 31.  I don't know what happens if we make it to $3k before that, but that was kind of a leap of faith !  And it's good to know that I will hit 3k even if people wait until after January 1.  Of course hitting 3k does not mean I have to stop!  It just means I met my financial goal!

My friend Moleigh made a donation a few months ago and then asked me a question that gave me a totally new way of raising money.  She asked if a donation could be made in honour of/ or memory of someone.  This prompted me to be able to collect some donations for various things and the OU/Yachad sent out cards to the recipients once the donation was made.  If you are considering making a donation for a simcha, please consider doing so to my Yachad account.  Or, if it is after we stop collecting, to Yachad period.  They will send cards!

And to you 'anonymous' who blew me away with a $200 donation that was just completely unexpected- I can't say too much about it without giving away your identity, but I just want to say that you rock and I am currently and always have been so happy to know you for so many reasons!  Your good nature is awesome and inspiring!

And then there are all the donations that were so generously given in all sorts of amounts.  You ALL rock.  Yachad thanks you and I thank you!

OK! GOTTA GO FOR A TEN K today in this 17C weather!  PERFECT walking weather!

OH the places you will GO!

Here we are.  I am on vacation in a place where the forecast is 17 C.  The last six weeks have been a training DISASTER because I have been working so many hours. Finally when things got going better, the weather became disastrous (some years it does not snow until february!) and between snow, ice storm and extreme cold (which as we already know makes me sneeze!) I have not been able to walk outside due to the extreme sneezing situation which occurred after the Santa Shuffle.  I am very prone to tongue ulcers from sneezing (its the way my teeth hit my tongue and it hurts like CRAZY) and they don't heal FOREVER once I have them.  That 27 hour sneezing fit caused some which I was lucky to have averted a serious problem with due to oral steroids, but you can understand my fear of sneezing- lets just call it achoophobia, since there does not seem to be a scientific term...

Now you have to understand that I have been saying since the summer, 'Oh NO, I like the cold, no way in hell, I am working out on a tread mill.'  I don't however like snow and ice and the sneezing thing was totally unexpected!  I did consider working out at the Mc Master University track, but its 200 m, and the idea of going in circles make me crayzeee.  Plus its 50 bucks a month for just using the track.  You know what is most interesting about this conundrum?  That it is a problem because we don't intend to stop walking after the Miami Half.  At the Santa Shuffle I met a Lady who told me that she and her husband have already completed Half's in every province and now they are moving on to one in every state.  Personally, I think one on every continent might be ccool!

A bunch of people I know belong to what used to be Phoenix fitness, but I can't say that I really want to commit to a membership.  Especially when I don't intend to work out indoors when the weather is good.  And I doubt that I would cross train with anything in a gym either.  I think that I will figure it out as soon as we get home though, because we are about a month away!

So, we decided that since we have a week childless and we have both been working insanely that we would take a quick trip and it ended up being Vegas because with pricing and timing and known awesome walks, we got the most out of Vegas.

This is our first day in Vegas and it's Christmas Day.  We hope to meet up with Marc's cousin Marc (thus mine) and his fiance, Tanya who are coincidentally in Vegas from LA.  Otherwise all we plan to do is hike.  It's funny because both of us brought more gym clothing than anything else!

We are in a condo type hotel and we have a full kitchen so we bought groceries and will mostly eat in and take food with us.

Here are the hikes we are hoping to do (not at race pace, just for endurance)
the 13 mile driving road for the Red Hill Canyon (its paved, so not a hard hike but long.)

Around Lake Mead Area- Still unsure which hike of hundreds but thinking about the Wetlands.

Dying for a hot spring walk....

Anyways, we are working those things out now and very excited!

Today we plan on doing a ten k. Then, tonight on the strip with our santa costume!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

So Much to Catch Up ON! Blood tests (if you only knew...), Winter training and 'you wannna do what for your vacation?!?!?"

It's been around a month since I wrote, and truthfully, I have not been walking for training purposes either, because I have been working one 12 hour day after an other for a little over five weeks.

In that time, I did do the Chanukkah Hustle and the Santa Shuffle, both of which I blogged about but really, I have been so overwhelmed by the physical part of my job that it has been all I can do just to get through one day after another.

A few things that I have wanted to write about.  First, at the end of October, I went for some blood tests.  It was a check up and I told my Doc to put everything remotely needed on the list.  He was away for a bit so when he got back a month later, imagine my surprise when he said that my blood work was totally normal, I could have fallen over in shock!  The only thing that was a 'little' elevated was my triglycerides which he wants me to see a nutritionist for, not even go directly to drugs.

I laughed out loud when I heard that.  He said 'what?' I said that if he only knew how much meat I ate that he would think that my triglycerides were a freaking miracle!  At that appointment I also got results back on wearing a holter monitor for 24 hours. Totally normal.And my base heart rate is 60.

It was so not what I expected as a 46 year old very fat woman.  I thought he was going to read me the riot act about my health.  It was totally unexpected that it be normal!  Miracle of miracles, I am also coming up on three years since my bout with pancreatitis and I could not be more grateful that my blood sugars are all good.  I thought for sure I must have sustained some damage, but I guess I am good so as long as I take care of me, I should continue to be healthy.  To that end, I have booked an appointment with a nutritionist in the beginning of January and am going to ask for an eating plan that is appropriate to endurance training.  I know that losing weight would do great things for my times but it is a crazy eating trigger for me to lose weight  or even weigh myself so I hope to find a plan that will be on its own merit for supporting my training.  If that is the focus, I hope it will be enough.

So now we come to winter training. I thought through the fall that winter would be no big deal because around here we don't tend to have so much snow and I don't mind cold as long as there is no snow.  Sadly we seem to be getting socked with more snowfall in the past few days than we had in previous years until february.

And then there is that horrible sneezing fit I had after the Santa Shuffle and the fact that the Miami Marathon is in , well, MIAMI and its all adding up to a pattern that says 'get a gym membership and train there for the next forty five or so days.  So I hope to do that today or tomorrow.

And then there is the weirdness that happened yesterday when I was randomly looking for places for Marc and I to get away for a few days and all I could think about was getting back to Las Vegas so that we can hike in the Red Rock Canyon since it is cooler now than in the summer when it was 120F.  or to find anothe place to go where hiking would be the big attraction.  I would LOVE a 12 or 15 mile hike!  not at race pace, just to do it!  WEIRD WEIRD WEIRD WEIRD!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Biggest problem post race so far... SNEEZING NON STOP! (also a few things from that race that I did not put in before!) This update is needed!

I have had a most interesting two days following the santa shuffle 5k....

Remember when, after the Hamilton Half Marathon, I gave you the litany of after effects from taking on such a Herculean task? I had a minor side effect which at the time was minor compared to the asthma cough I had for a week after.  I did my research, as I am wont to do and went out an bought a Balaclava that covers my mouth and nose, since apparently that can help greatly. 

I started the race with both the balaclava and my Santa Beard over my mouth and about a kilometre into the race, I was DYING.  It was like, HUH?  Then I realized that the Balaclava was totally interfering with my breathing and I pushed both it and the beard out of my way since at that point I was like, 'so if i get disqualified for not wearing the beard, I will still have a time, but like this, I cannot breathe!'

In the middle of the race, a couple who were letting their dog walk on a very long leash almost tripped me and when I suggested that they keep it on a shorter leash, was told rudely that it was a public park and they could do what they want.  As far as I know, letting your dog be a nuisance in a public parc is not remotely legal.  It put such an icky taste in my mouth, but eventually, as I got away from them, I let it go and tried to do the friendly thing without stopping or slowing down!

At the last kilometre of the race, I caught up with an older woman who had been walking at my pace but ahead of me since early in the race.  We walked the last km together and it was nice.  She was walking sort of weirdly which it turns out is because she is training for a half in Jamaica in two weeks and though a size 6, was wearing so many layers, she was looking like a 14!

She told me that she was in awe of me because when SHE weighed 300 pounds, she would not have been doing what I was doing.  It turned out she had gastric bypass surgery and then started walking and now she and her husband, who runs, go all over the world walking and running together.

Last year they did a half marathon in every province.  It was a little like seeing me and Marc when we are older and retired.....

It was a lovely way to end the race, and while I am actually pretty sure I could have shortened my time a little, the interaction was very nice and very motivating.  Good thing I am not the most competitive of individuals!  My gun time was 1:00 exactly and my chip time was 59.02. This was 2 minutes faster than the wellwood walk time gun time of 1:01. 

So, here comes the part about the sneezing.  I finished the race and started inside for some water or whatever.  Finding none, I realized I had water on my belt and decided to walk back to the car instead of taking the santa trolley.  As I walked past the finish line again, I had a fit of sneezing like crazy.  I was ready for it, since it happened after the Road to Hope but OH MY GAWD, it lasted for well over 24 hours!  Apparently this is normal for cold weather training but my mouth nose and stomache are so sore from it that I am now seriously considering training inside at mac or something. My friend Jeff says your body gets used to it and stops with the sneezing but I don't know if I can tolerate getting used to it!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

On the heels of last night's post...Ultimate weirdness. Being one santa in a thousand in a 5k race!

More weirdness, dressing in a  santa suit this morning to do a 5k.  I am having a heck of a time getting my chip time result but I know that from gun time my time was 1:00 so it was better than that since I don't rush to get out of the crush of santas.

I walked really as fast as possible the whole way.  I learned that the balaclava has to have a mouth hole or i feel like i am suffocating.

I jogged the last ten feet or so because i wanted my gun time to be an hour.

Later, I was talking to someone who had been at the hanukkah hustle and who believe it or not used me as an example of someone who was getting out there and DOING it- another example of how odd it is to be used as an example!

I cannot for the life of me stop sneezing though.  whats up with that?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

One thing you know is true. If I can do it, you can do it! The idea of me being inspirational is just.... weird.

Periodically, I hear from people who are following this blog and reading about my development into a marathon walker from puddle of goo (ok, not quite, since being a caterer is not exactly a sedentary job.)  I hear that they read my blog, or my Facebook status or maybe they see me walking and suddenly, they are also inspired to hit curves, or the gym or even go for a long walk.  Or, they are inspired to tell me how I am ten times fitter than they are and in total awe. And, wow, its so weird to be 'that' woman who actually is crazy fat and 46 but still working toward a major physical fitness goal.

Whats amazing about it is that hearing about your reading my blog-it totally keeps me motivated to keep on keeping on.  I also love hearing that people are supporting me in lots of different ways, from sponsoring me to sending good thoughts my way, to going for a walk because I inspired them to do so.  It is amazing to know I am not on this journey alone and that my journey is connnected to all of your journeys!

I will say this.  Signing up for timed races is necessary to keep me motivated but it's also sort of a drag!  For example:  being in training mode and being in pre race mode are two different things.  Like last week, somehow I managed to chafe myself and thus this week, being pre race mode again, I was reticent to head out because bleeding body parts do not make for good races. So, tororrow, I will do my 5k, and then I think I will walk the 5k back to the car because I don't have any races for a while, and it's been a while since I did a ten k.  I know there is a shuttle, but I don't really care, actually.  Assuming the weather isn't totally a problem, I want to do it.

So, being in races keeps me motivated, it keeps me goal oriented (like improving my times, pushing myself for short races) and as far as the longer races go, I want to be those people who walk 18-20 k without thinking much about it and just do it for fun.  Such oddness really.  There is a tonne of goal making involved in all of this and so much potential for making new goals! But it's also incredibly weird being the person who is motivating others just by sharing my own experience.  Me, who would typically avoid stairs or walking of any distance, even at a saunter.  Me who has never exercised regularly.  Me who was never  a jock in high school. Me who even though i was a swimmer- meaning lifeguard and instructor, was never a swim team participant (except as a lifeguard) and almost fell over in shock at grade 9 track and field day when I came in third in a sprint race because I had been jogging around the driving park track and somehow that made me faster in a sprint.  I think my response to 'congratulations' was 'youre joking!"

I have been thinking recently about nutrition as it relates to the training thing and I have to admit that I am starting to consider following some sort of a training related food plan.  I am doing my research and speaking to 'my' professionals and l am gearing up to make some decisions about how I can change how I eat to benefit my activity without completely throwing me into some sort of a crazy eating binge- the like of which have brought me to my current weight because following a food plan is a HUGE trigger for me and while left to my own devices, I can maintain my weight and not gain (I recently threw out a bunch of clothing i was sick of- that NEVER used to happen-and yes, I am still buying the same size but it's been something like 7 years at this weight now, and the last insane increase happened after a debacle with a 'support' who was not a professional and which spun me out into the atmosphere so badly that not only did I regain all the weight I had lost, but I also gained another twenty to spare.

For years, I felt hopeless about my weight.  in 2009, I had occasion to go to a sleep clinic and the doc there connected me to some medical professionals who I have been working with to try and find a solution to my weight issues without going nuts and spinning off again.  I know that the process has really helped me because I went from completely hopeless about ever finding a solution to hopeful that some day enough factors and supports would be in place that I would be able to pursue weight loss again, or even just follow a maintenance plan.

Anyways, I am just saying out loud, because as you know, I am big on accountability that I am considering this seriously.  I recognize that weight loss will never happen to me   if left to my own devices, but wanting to increase my speed and lower my times is something that is directly weight related.  There is no going around it.  If I remain the same weight and keep working out, of course, I will increase my speed but it would be alot easier to do it the easy way, by losing weight.

So the rules of eating upstairs are changing (downstairs is biz).  No white flour or pasta, or grains.  Eat more fruit and vegetables. Avoid recreational sugar if at all possible, but not at all costs (like, morning races require fast carbs and I am not a good breakfast eater- race days builder bars are my best bet and for long races and workouts, sports beans are helpful...)  Thats as far as i can go today. because increasing the quality of my food is a huge deal.  And for today, it's enough.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

When you should volunteer at a race instead of running it! Hanukkah Hustle 2013- Race dedicated to Sharon Flynn!

Sharon Flynn has been a friend of mine for almost 17 years.  We don't really see each other in person but we do stay in touch on FB.  A while ago, Sharon had a severe and very complex fracture of her leg.  She has been recovering for months and despite her agony and how she has to learn to walk all over again, even with ongoing serious injury she has been positive and upbeat and her own adorable self the whole way.  Last night, I decided to do the Hanukkah hustle (fundraiser for our local Jewish retirement home 's active living programme) in honour of Sharon's recovery and since I gave a donation in addition to signing up for the race, I mentally thought it would be nice if the merit for that good deed went to Sharon's recovery in the hope that it will be speedy and complete.  So, despite the debacle that was my morning (in more than one way!) I decided that in the race itself, I would be cheerful, upbeat and positive in honour of Sharon since despite her massive injury she has been that way through her recovery!  My only other goal was to beat my Wellwood time of 1:01 and change.  Oh yeah and not to fall since I fell both at Wellwood and the Hamilton half marathon.

Here are the debacle things!

1)  I could not sleep last night.  I guess I was charged from an event I did and then it just took me a long time to settle down.  It was 4 am when I finally fell asleep.

2) I did not lay out race clothing and equipment or charge a wireless headphone.  Marc found me some ear buds.  This figures prominently in why this race was a totally failed attempt at a better time in a 5k!

3) I did not lay out the builder's bars which i bought for breakfast (I am not a breakfast person but you gotta eat...)

4) No coffee cause I didn't want to have to use porta potties.

5) When I got into my car, it would not start but it was blocking the other car so we had to push it out into the street.  This contributed further into us being quite late.

6)  Race kit pick up ended at 9:45 and I dropped Marc off at 9:40 and then had to park .6 of a k away (which actually was a great warm up since it was right before the race.)

7)  They found my registration but not Marc's

8)  They sent him through the process to register but when I told him I was sure that I had signed him up, he asked them to check again and they found it however I was stopping every couple of seconds to try and find the confirmation email and answer the phone which flew out of my hands a number of times....

9)  Eventually I got there, and he gave me my bib but we put the wrong ones on each other.  Then Lori pointed out that we had no chips on our shoes (which I had never seen before because both the other races I did had chips in the bib- waaay easier!)  We went to go get chips, put them on, and then had to exchange them when we realized our mistake.  We changed both bib and shoe chips (thanks Jeff Laskey for helping me with mine!) and all the sudden, I realized the race had started.

10) Technology was a serious issue this morning.  It was so stupid.  First my phone was not sufficiently charged.  Then I had to wrestle with earphones.  wires just don't work for me when walking and ear buds never work at all.  I can't tell you how many times I had to start and stop, even once the race started- first I put my walking playlist on, but for whatever reason it did not shuffle.  Then the ear buds kept falling out.  Then I realized my battery was going to die.

11) so then I needed a place for the ear buds and put them around my neck but they fell off at some point and some nice gent picked them up and asked each runner if they lost buds.  Thanks man!

12) the plastic on the cover of the iphone holder thingy needs to be cut out.  It is nearly impossible to use with the plastic cover, necessitating stops to fix whatever the issue is.

13)  There were so many people I knew and who were participating!  First I saw the guys from Beth Tikvah house, and then I saw Aunt Goldie who is my late Grandmother's youngest living sister.  Both the Beth Tikvah guys and Aunt Goldie had done the 5k walk.. I HAD to stop and hug and say hello  and take pictures.  I WANTED TO!

14) I suspect I have gained some weight, because my body felt really heavy.  This is the first time that I actually remotely felt motivated to start following a food plan that will allow reasonable weight loss as I continue to participate in this sport that I love so much.  THAT  is a freaking revelation because as a compulsive eater I have felt like the whole thing was a lost cause for a long time and my goal was just to get fit instead of losing weight.

After seeing Aunt Goldie, I was a klik in and at this point, I had no breakfast, no water, no coffee and all of this annoyance as well as the joy of running into people who I was SO proud of for doing the 5K and hugging and chatting and photo ops, so I decided a bunch of things;

1)  Screw the playlist.  Just use runkeeper.  Except that in fact I did not end up walking to beat my time since I had so many interruptions.  I KNEW I wasn't going to beat it but decided having a good time was a more important thing to do!
2)  Walk with a big smile on my face at all times!
3)  Say hello or 'great job' or something to every runner running in the opposite direction or coming up behind me.  It was surprising how few people at this race commented back versus the Hamilton Marathon.  Hopefully even those who didn't reply appreciated it!  If not, it made ME super happy!
4)  In the parts where there were no people, I did walk hard.  Today my fastest pace was actually 9:38 which is considerably faster than the usual 11:40 I usually walk and which is my current marathon pace.  I plan on starting to sprint in my training.

5) I was pondering my weight loss thoughts throughout and decided that I WANT a food plan.  A reasonable one that won't leave me starving but which will make my body feel good and hopefully help me to release weight that is dragging me down in my sport.  I don't want to do anything crazy because that is a HUGE trigger for me to go nuts eating again, but I will sort out a generous but smart food plan in the next week.  That was something that became really clear during this walk and which for the first time in a very long time, I feel the desire to do in a smart way. My goal is still not weight loss overall but how to make the sport easier and faster for me!  I know, I am so selfish!


In the end, I had a great race!  I came in 8 minutes LONGER than the Wellwood race, but I had such a great time!  And I did hit a personal best pace time within that longer race!  What I decided is that next year, I am totally going to volunteer at this race because it will give me the opportunity to cheer people on and have a great time.  I can walk to my station if need be and still get the walk in but I KNOW I will be a great volunteer!  Also, I want to be in charge of volunteer RUACH (Spirit) if they will let me to make the runners/walkers feel entertained, amused and appreciated!  After two races with volunteers with noisemakers and pom poms and stuff, I sort of missed the spirit today.  One volunteer was clapping and shouting nice stuff but the others were mostly quiet and serious.   It makes much more sense for me to contribute to this race as a volunteer than as a racer because I am incapable of not stopping and talking.  I can do other timed races where I don't know people!

AAAnyways, that was my morning and the hanukkah hustle.  LARGE KUDOS to my husband Marc who had a personal best time!  Once again, I am SO happy that we do this together!

Sharon, I did you proud baby!  I did this race like you are doing your recovery!  Don't take it personally when you think people are not responding positively to your postivity. They are mired in their own stuff and its enough that YOU are positive for YOU!  And you never know, its possible that at some point one of them will start feeling positive and start doing it  themselves, or at least appreciating that you do!  One of the things I am going to bring along to races if I can get my hands on them are some cheerleader pom poms!  They arent' heavy!  I can walk with them!

I wore the rain hat because I thought it was going to rain and I didn't want rain down the back of my neck but instead there was no rain and I just looked dorky!

Check it out my Hamilton Marathon injuries have healed.

Monday, November 11, 2013

More Road to Hope 2013 debriefing- Whatever possessed me to try so soon?

So the day started early and we got to the Confederation Park Lot where there were school buses waiting to take us to the start line.  There was such a feeling of reality having gone missing- here we were with all these ATHLETES.  People who LOOK like runners.  People who clearly belonged there. It was super cold and I was struggling with how many layers to take.  Luckily I had brought something I bought for a couple of bucks at the Christmas tree shop, since I had read somewhere that a marathon that starts cold is a good place to get rid of old sweatshirts.  Runners dump stuff along the route which is then picked up and usually donated somewhere it can be used.  All along the route I saw gloves, sweats and even a pair of pants.

I ended up leaving my own windbreaker in the bathroom at the community centre where we started.  I actually forgot it, but I doubt it would have helped much to have another layer on.  The wicking stuff can't work without eventually being exposed to air, so having something that does not breathe would probably have made me sweaty.

I think I made it out to the start line after the actual start of the race, which of course does not really matter since I knew a couple of things- the race starts for each runner when your chip goes over the starter thingy and thus, its a personal time.  I suppose if you wanted to make sure you got out in front of the pack so as not to get stuck in the congestion that exists until the pack thins out,  then it might be annoying, but as far as I can tell, being in the back of the large body of starters is just as useful, especially if you have no expectation of being anything but last!  In addition, I wasn't seriously doing this marathon, I was just trying to get some experience!

Marc started out walking with me, but when he realized how hard it was going to be to slow his stride for so long, he went on ahead with my blessing.  For the first 5k or so, there was a cop car on my butt (literally) and I had the thought that this poor cop was gonna be there for a looong time, if he followed me all the way.   After we got on the Red Hill Parkway, there was no one following because it was shut down though so the poor guy caught a break after all.

I have to say- the crowds and volunteers that were at the sides of the road were awesome.  Some were there looking for specific runners, but others just seemed to be there.  At one point a whole group on a bridge erupted in cheers when I came down the  expressway and I shouted ' you guys must be freezing' and they shouted 'no we are warm cause we are watching you!'

Just before the Red Hill, the first runner ran by me.  He had gone 19 km at that point and me, 5km.  As he passed, he said really loudly and clearly 'YOU are doing GREAT!  Keep up the good work!' and that was when I discovered that respect is earned in a marathong JUST by showing up.  People respect that you are there and others are not.  No matter how fast or slow, running or walking.  They just respect your presence.  It was more than respect.  It was like KAVOD which in the simplest of terms means 'respect' in hebrew' but its like honour, really.  It's more than 'just' respect, sort of like respect and admiration mixed together.  That is what I got from the guy in first place, and I was clearly in last!

And thus began all the 42 k people passing by me and it was remarkable how many greeted me as such.  I was so glad not to be wearing earphones, because if I had been, I would have missed all those awesome greetings and the opportunity to return those good wishes to them!

Coming down the Red Hill was gorgeous and it was FREEZING because there was a head wind off of lake ontario.  I was pretty warm by then and the cold didn't really bother me.  I can't imagine walking a half marathon in hot weather- the day was gorgeous and clear so it was beautiful  and crisp and the view was spectacular.

At that point, I kept laughing about aiming for last place to all those people at the side of the road, but in truth, I wasn't sure I was even going to finish! That was too hard to explain really, so I just kept saying 'aiming for last- right on target!'  and thought that I would figure out exactly what I was aiming for once I got to fifteen km, which was my goal.  I knew from some other walkers that at about 17 k, I could skip the loop if I wanted to come in without going the whole way, so when I got to about 14 or 15, and the diversion was there, I was still feeling pretty good and decided that I would just go with it since I was doing ok anyways.  The thing is that its a really good thing I did that.  I would have learned stuff anyways had I not gone farther than 15k but I learned the most after I started getting blisters and then wearing out at about 16 and 18 km.  18 was about when I felt the 'pfft' happened and all in one second I learned how important carb loading and sports beans and or gels are.  After that point, I was seriously green for the rest of the race.  exacerbated by drinking which I had to do and which might have been alleviated by eating some sports beans but I was too nauseated to do.  This means next time, I need to schedule the eating of the beans by the kilometer so that it isn't all at once and is a steady stream.  I know it was also exacerbated by the fact that I did not carb load properly since my natural preferences run to eating proteins.

I ran into Marc who was doing great guns  as I turned down to km 16 and that portion was all along the waterfront.  Lake ontario was gorgeous and blue and the path is stunning and in excellent shape. seeing him lifted my spirits too!

at around 17 i discovered that what i thought was gravel in my shoe was actually a blister.  Even then i never intended to stop, thinking that the worst thing about blisters is that they are annoying. They hurt but they dont kill you!

So, finally, here I was, approaching the finish line.  People are cheering and talking to me and I am literally steps from the finish when BOOM I am on the ground and my left calf is charlie horsing like I never felt before in my life!  I had tripped on someones' water bottle that was in the final runway and I guess since I was so tired, could not avoid tripping and falling.  The jolt caused the spasm and I heard the words 'RUNNER DOWN' and thought 'OH SHIT they think I am dying!' and suddenly I am surrounded by first aid people. I keep saying 'I am ok, I am just having a charlie horse in my left leg, I am fine- I will stretch out and finish' when one of the first aiders says ' youre bleeding.'  So, yes, I was, my thumb was bleeding and I was going to get a fun blood blister, but it was no worse than something I could give myself with a ceramic knife in a catering situation.  Or even just cooking dinner for my family!

Someone went and got a wheelchair and I was like 'HELL NO' I am just going to stretch this cramp out and walk across the finish line!  Someone figured out that it would be easier for me to get up if I got on my hands and knees from the uninjured side (I landed on my left arm and leg- to this day, my left leg is sore in places when I get on it in the wrong position), so I did as they suggested and got up to someone saying 'you need first aid' and I was like 'sure, just let me WALK across the finish and I will come to the tent for first aid.'

I walked across the finish line, made sure a number of pics got taken with my bloody thumb and a crazy look on my face and then went over to the first aid tent.  They were hemming and hawing over me needing stitches and I was like 'um. I can do this to myself in the kitchen.  The bleeding will stop, the skin will fall off and it's gonna be fine.'  They bandaged me up and we were like 'hey listen we have a massage appointment at 2 in Niagara Falls, so BYE!'

It was sort of comical and then my friend Ira, who is an emerg doc told me that someone actually died that day and I felt bad for not taking the first aid people seriously.  After all, what else would they think when they see a 300 pound woman on her butt after 21.1 k.  Of course they thought I was dying!

Thats two for two though folks, because I fell at my first timed race too, although I was ok.  That time I missed the curb to get out of the way of a city bus!  But then I finished the last 4k.

So I am pretty much done with the race itself although next entry will be about a call I got after the race, and which was so inspiring.

I am off to the after hours clinic because I am having some symptoms that are concerning and want to get them checked out.  Believe it or not, I think I am anemic (who could possibly eat more meat than me?!?!?) and the symptoms are annoying so I need to get it fixed up.  Or maybe it's something else, but I definitely need to find out what is going on.  I am feeling like light training only until I figure it out.

These are symptoms I have had before but not quite so much of it.  I don't know if the half had anything to do with it but I know that this new walking and race thing has spotlighted to me how much I want to keep my health, so, instead of ignoring it, I am going off to the doc and seeing what is up!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

This incredible woman just inspired me to make this the beginning of alooong road in endurance walking!

When I  read this article, I was so overwhelmed by emotions.  Having walked and completed my first half marathon on November 3, 2013, the same day as the New York Marathon, I was absolutely flying.  Me.  A nearly 300 pound, 46 year old woman.  I walked 21.1 km.  Continuously.  In a timed race.

So, waking up and reading this story, both brought me to tears and filled me with joy.  It brought be to tears because I was sad that this woman passed away, but filled with joy because I cannot imagine a better death than one coming after a perfect day of doing what I love, like this incredible marathoner.

I was also experiencing joy, thinking that I never thought I could be one of those people who participate in extreme endurance sports into their mid eighties. I realize that at 46, my mid eighties are forty years off, but on the other hand, since beginning this journey, I love this sport and I know that the key for me to remain motivated is participating in these races.  5k, 10K or halfs.  I feel like the potential for continuously growing and achieving is endless.  I especially loved reading elsewhere about this woman, I saw that her times got longer over the years but she still participated right until the end!

I really had so much that ran through my mind in last week's race.  I also realize that I didn't really tell you all the weird stuff and the funny stuff.

So, let this be about Joy Johnson.  May she rest in peace, and may she always be at the head of the pack.  Like she said 'I am just lucky to be here- so many people my age are in wheelchairs.  And that is how I feel.  I don't mind being in the back of the pack.  Because everyone who isn't in the race is behind ME!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hamilton Marathon- Road to Hope -I CAME IN DEAD LAST, BUT I CAME IN! and that is so much more than I ever dreamed I could do!

I had a lot of time to think about this post on Sunday.  like 4 hours and 20 minutes as I walked the ENTIRE Hamilton half Marathon.  Yup, 21.1 km or 13.1 miles.

I went without the intention of finishing.  I went to see what being in one of these things is like and to get some experience, so that when it really counts (FOR TEAM YACHAD IN MIAMI ON FEB. 2) I would have a clue what I was getting into.

We got up around 5 am and slathered ourselves with body glide and a product from,  their 'Double Rich Body Butter' (70% pure SHEA!) in the more delicate places.  I was told by Jean at Moving Comfort ( to make sure that I slathered myself with the stuff everywhere chafing could possibly take place.  That meant wherever clothing ended, had seams or met with skin.  Yup pretty much everywhere.  Jean was actually quite a font of information about what I needed to know.  I met her when I picked up my race package and then was thrilled to see her twice on the day of.  She actually works for a company (moving comfort) that makes sports stuff that might actually be large enough for me! This of course is one of the interesting things about being a super overweight half marathoner- most stuff in running stores made for endurance (like flat seams etc.) is made for runners who are often very small in size.  I realize as an oddball I have to do my best and have been cobbling things together to the best of my ability so I am not complaining, but the idea that there is a serious running company out there with stuff I would be able to wear if I lost a little weight is amazing!

I wore three layers of tops and shorts and capris for pants.  I also turned some socks into legwarmers because I knew it was going to be about 2 C and windy.  I took a fanny pack from Mountain Equipment Coop ( and a water bottle.  I had purchased some Jelly Belly sports beans at the Expo tent at the race kit pick up Friday and had frozen some water in the bottom of my bottle.

I made myself a Starbucks plain iced coffee with about 4 ounces of water, because I wanted to make sure I didn't set myself up for needing a porta potty (I HATE them!)  I took along some shreddies and a single pack of cookies I got in my race kit at the Wellwood walk.  We set off to Confederation Park and then headed toward the buses.  The buses took us to Arcelor Mittal Park and we stayed in the nice warm arena until it was time to get out to the start line.  Things to remember from this part:

1)   I lived in Vanier Residence in my York University days.  We had co ed bathrooms.  I have ZERO problem with seeing a guy at a urinal since you can't see anything.  Lines to mens rooms are shorter because the only guys who are using the stalls are the guys who need to have a sit down and the womens bathroom lines are nuts.  All in all there were over 2500 of us JUST in the half marathon. You can imagine what the bathroom lineups were like.  I am glad I went to the mens room because I would have been still in the bathroom for 15 minutes after the race started.

2)  I need to find things I LIKE to eat before a race and don't involve preparation.  Next time, energy bars, like clif or lara or something. And I need to eat at least two of them.

3) I dislike carb loading since my favourite foods are all proteins.  best way for me to carb load is a thick chicken noodle type soup, or beef soup.  or with wet rice.  But just choking down carbs is not gonna happen and protein makes me too full to eat enough carbs.  Loading food of any kind sort of goes against what I think is a good idea in general, but it is absolutely needed for even a half marathon.  I could feel the moment I ran out of the carbs pre loaded.  Its a horrible feeling.  Sports beans probably got me through but on the other hand, choking them down dry is hard and it would be better if I didn't need too many of them while moving.

4) If its a cold day, I need a face mask.  My face was FREEZING!  I could barely talk!  There was a very stiff breeze coming down the Red Hill expressway and by the time I got to the lake my face was numb.

5)  Baseball hat good but band needed over it to keep it flying off my head! Also velcro to secure the back band which opened during a flying off episode.  Or maybe wear my outdoor research hat which has a string on it and is lined with gortex.  (now you know that since my next race is Miami in February that I definitely intend to keep doing this....)

6) LOVE WICKING CLOTHING! Have Bought from Addition Elle, Penningtons, Lane Bryant, Walmart, MEC, and Costco Make sure everything I buy has flat seams.
7) Buy blister resistant socks (Nike)!  What doesn't give you a blister at 14k could give you one by 16k
8) Buy throwaway layers to wear when I see them cheap.

I have to go get shopping for United Shabbat so I will have to continue this later!  Thank god for Advil!
Please consider sponsoring me!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Picking up race kits for the Hamilton Marathon Half?!?!?!? WHAAAAAT??? Getting up at 4 am is gonna be the worst part!

Yup, its true.  After I write this, I am going to pick up our race kits for the Hamilton Marathon.  Honestly, I never thought I would even consider writing words like this, because at so morbidly obese and so uninclined to exercise, it would have just been a ridiculous idea.

So in the mean time, if you have been keeping up with my blog, you know that I now do regular 10 k walks and one Shabbat did a 13.5 k walk so 21 K is no longer the ridiculously unachieveable goal I might have once thought it was.

In fact, the idea of going to pick up the race kit is more intimidating to me than the actual race.  Its totally bizarre.  Totally.

I am all ready for Sunday.  I was actually pretty sick to my stomach this week and did not go walking but that is actually perfectly acceptable behaviour for a week before a race.  Escpecially since i did not have 3 weeks notice, like you would normally have for toning down the training.  Hopefully the problem with my stomach will be resolved by sunday and the day will dawn (and I will get up at 4am- OY!)

I have my clothing picked out, my shoes are ready to go, and I am packed for a post half marathon recovery day on Sunday night before heading into United Shabbat shopping on Tuesday. I just need to go buy some electrolyte jelly bellys since i have no idea how gross the jell is and i am not going to risk barfing all over the course on sunday!

I decided to do this for a  lot of reasons, and my big concern was that they were going to shut down the course before I got off it but it turns out that as long as I can get off the Red hill parkway before 11 am (starting at 8:30 am - no sweat) they keep the chip timers up until everyone who is going to finish, does.  I have a massage scheduled in Niagara Falls at 2pm so hopefully I can finish and get there in time as well!

So, think good thoughts for me, and sponsor me on team yachad please!  The organization is amazing and I am so pleased and proud to be representing them.  Even if not in this particular race!

My goal is just to do it until I can't do it anymore.  I do think there is a reasonable expectation that I can finish but its not my goal, unlike with Miami.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What goes up, must come down, and go up, and down, up, down, up, down, up, down! (Torpitt Rd to Bayview Wildwood Marina 10K)

Another revelatory walk today.  We walked a 5K loop from the cottage we were staying at to the Marina at Bayview Wildwood Resort.  I gotta tell you, it was a crazy walk with serious up and down action as well as rain, and cold.

After the first two hills, I was in no way going to continue the walk, given that we have a race in a week and its a downhill course.  The last thing I wanted was to get all sore and crazy from doing up and downhill 10K a week before a race.  I almost gave up and turned around but Marc was my cheerleader and I decided what the heck.  So as we were doing this crazy up and down walk, yup, another bitchwalk, I noticed something.  I would see a new hill and get this crazy sinking feeling  each time but somehow in doing the actual hills, it wasnt as bad as I thought it would be and the hills just sort of started ending up being non issues, (well except the one called everest...)

In any case, I was not looking forward to going back because of all the hills and then, it started raining.  I discovered the coat I was wearing which I thought was waterproof, isnt but the hat I bought last week, definitely is, so yay.

I have to tell you that it was sort of a shock that all the sudden these brutal hills were much easier to do.  If anyone is wondering what I am getting out of this training that is measurable- well, the ability to walk uphill without being utterly out of breath is one thing...

Next Sunday is the Hamilton Marathon.  I don't expect we will be walking much this week since I learned my lesson last time about not going into a race exhausted.  Today was a cinch even with the hills, and nothing hurt at all.  My pace was even better- especially given the hills.  I totally understand why we wind down with the training before a race.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hamilton Half Marathon... I can't believe we actually signed up! NOVEMBER 2, 2014

On Sunday at Wellwood, Rebecca pointed out that there was a half marathon on November 2, in Hamilton.  My first instinct, was 'Are you insane?  I am no where near ready for that!'  Then, I think it was Joy, pointed out that in fact we could drop out at any point and we did not have to complete if we did not want to.  I thought about it and it is true that my goal is to complete the Miami Marathon but in fact, I can walk however much of the Hamilton one as I feel is possible.  And when else would I get the chance to walk on the Red Hill Parkway?  And in fact, it was  good experience to go through the marshalling and everything since the Marathon season here is going to shut down soon and I would rather not go through the operational part of being in a marathon on Feb. 2, for the first time.

Marc and I talked about it.  We agreed that it was worthwhile as an exercise in training.  So, this morning, I signed us up.  Now you know where I will be on November 2.

Suddenly, instead of being in training mode, we are actually in pre race mode which means not  to train too hard.  So for the next couple of weeks, we won't be making insane kilometer gains in our walks.  The guy at the running room suggested that we not go further than 10K.

I see why actually.  Last week, I had a crazy week spending at least 60 hours on my feet with United Shabbat.  And the day before that I had walked a 10K.  So I missed walking and on Shabbat, we went for an 8 k. walk.  My leg was sore throughout that walk and I pushed through it anyways, because I missed (missed as in not doing something you like to do) walking when I was working that insane week. Then, Sunday, I walked Wellwood, my first timed race. I was in poor form, could not get into my stride (falling didn't help but I don't think that was the main issue) and my leg hurt the whole time.

After Sunday, I took a couple of days off.  And then one more, to be sure I was fine.  Last night, Marc and I walked 7 k and after the first couple of klicks, I hit my stride again. My time improved, my body felt almost liquid, even working hard, my breathing was better.

When we got home, I researched the concept of hitting one's stride as it relates to walking or running.  I found that this is very common and that most people don't particularly enjoy the first couple of klicks or even miles, when they are serious and regular athletes.  To me that is profoundly interesting.  In fact, it's just one more of those things to be grateful that my own body, fat though it is, reacts like everyone else's given the same stressors.  I am so normal, and this is really quite a mental breakthrough.

Why?  Well, remember that I had to make the change back to pre race mode.  So, short walks will be 6k or so and longer 10k until the Half on November 2.  So, on the one hand, I was feeling like I should train harder, because I really have only been doing this for a short while, but I keep telling myself that this  will not be in my best interest.  There have been a number of indicators that I am just like everyone else regardless of size and not to trust that feeling  and somehow think I am unique is not going to serve me well.  And then there was what the Running Room guy pointed out which I had also read online.

In two weeks, you will not lose fitness, even if you don't work out at all.  On the other side, in two weeks, you won't make great improvements either, because our bodies take time to increase in fitness especially (since rest is part of the increase-increases actually happen during rest.)  That said, there is not a darn thing I can do but train the way you train a couple of weeks before a race, because to do so will put me in the same position i was in in the Wellwood race.  Exhausted, miserable and unable to really enjoy the race.

To boot, my goal is not to finish here.  THAT is my goal for yachad.  Not that I won't continue if I can, but the deal is that I stop when I am ready to stop, and use the experience, not do something I dont believe I am ready for. 

I know it is a fast course because it is downhill, so it's possible that I can go farther than I expect.  Remembering that one of my longest walks was about 13.5 k which is actually 2/3 of the distance.  I don't have any goal though, other than participating.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Well, I was aiming for last...First timed race at Wellwood walk for Colorectal Cancer- Team Bubby Faye!

This morning was the Wellwood Event for Colorectal Cancer.  We signed up so we could support wellwood, but also to start getting some experience for how races work.  You aren't supposed to do anything for the first time on the day of a race, so to get some experience before Florida is my goal.

I just could not get on top of my game today so to speak.  My breathing was off, my left leg hurt, sort of crampy, I forgot to take advil.  I thought about walking to mac to help in warming up but we ran out of time.  At one point in the race, an HSR bus was suddenly on the course and we had to get up on the curb.  I misstepped up, and fell flat out.  Boy that was fun and embarrassing.

Then, a headache started along with the other aches from my fall.  I was bitchy and cranky.  Ariel was kind enough to walk with me and that was lovely of her since she is so capable of walking faster than me.  I felt like I never really warmed up and never really hit my stride, so all in all, not a fun walk.

It was nice, however to have my team waiting for me at the end and I have to admit I was so dejected about my time (about 12.20 km) that i really did not feel it was much of an accomplishment.  I regularly walk more than 5k and often way faster than that, so it was a bit of a let down that after two months of training, I was walking at such a pace and actually not really enjoying myself either.  Honestly, people carrying babies  and walking with canes were walking faster than me!

Marc was saying in the car that it was funny he had to convince me that finishing was an accomplishment.  I said everything he said above and he responded by saying 'Come on, if I had said three months ago that we were going to do something like this, no only would you have not done it but you would certainly not have trained or whatever (not like the training did much for me time wise today.)

So eventually, I changed my perspective and decided I was aiming for last since I thought I was last anyways.  Strangely when I decided that, all the sudden, I started passing people, so I failed in coming in last.  I will have to work harder at that next time!

Also, in two weeks time, a few of us from Team Bubby Faye are considering walking in the half marathon for the hamilton marathon.  We figure we are nowhere near ready but it is race experience and we don't have to finish it either.  Personally, I am not even aiming for last there, but just to finish, if I am up to it...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pouring rain, cold, shabbat walk....sore back, sore left leg, but still did it to the tune of 8 km

This week, I hadn't walked since Monday.  From Tuesday on, I was heavily involved in my volunteer work for United Shabbat which happens monthly at our Synagogue. They were some long and uncomfortable days so walking was not  really a possibility.

After the United Shabbat lunch, it was raining lightly and I took one look out side and decided that there was no way I was going to miss walking today for a bit of rain.  Marc found me a windbreaker thing that was water repellent and he wore a rain coat and we both set off to find Jeannie and head out for a walk.

We took the rail trail and went as far as old ancaster in dundas and then returned.  We walked an hour out and back.  It was miserable.  we were so wet (between sweat and rain) and it was kind of chilly too.

I refer to walks like this as bitch walks.  No amount of warming up makes it feel better and my back killed all the way through.  Not particularly enjoyable.  If it was like this every time, I would never have gotten so excited about all this training.  Truth be told, it's great that I know that when  a bitch walk happens, its a pretty one time thing.  Tomorrow we have a 5k for Well wood, and if there is an opportunity to walk 10K I will.

In any case, I am so glad I went.  So glad.  I did not let a little rain stop me and I pushed through my discomfort.  It wasn't much of a walk distance wise, but I think sometimes the idea that we did it anyway is worth something.

I do know I am going to have a hard time convincing my walking partners to walk through the colder, more miserable weather though.  Hopefully, it'll be a mild winter, because I don't particularly fancy walking an indoor track or treadmill....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hitting my stride. In a way I never thought I would understand from an athletes perspective...

So today was supposed to be a short walk but it was  a beautiful day and my walking parner, Chana, knows all these great trails and stuff...we got to where it would have been 6 km round trip but we were half way up the escarpment and it seemed like going all the way up the escarpment was just too cool to give up.  Weird to hear myself saying that.  Me, who doesn't like exercise, me who doesn't like going uphill.  Yup, me who weighs way too much and  is way too short and way too old to consider walking a marathon.  IIIIII want to walk up the escarpment, just so I can say I did it.  Freakish really.

I can't actually get over what this is doing for my sense of everything that I thought was doable, not doable and worth even trying.  I find it enormously amazing that not only have I come so far in such a short period of time, but also that I LOVE IT.  It is the weirdest thing ever.  Yes, each time I walk, I have to get past the whole thing with the warming up, and today was no different.  Until I warm up, I feel pain and discomfort in the walk but after that, its incredible, because suddenly, I am capable of hitting my stride which is something I am not sure I ever would have expected was possible.

I always understood the idea of hitting my stride in a literal way, but actually doing it in a sports sense wasn't really something I had expectations of ever experiencing. i guess it is a logical thing to have happen but again, its weird realizing that i am recognizing those things from experience is just so unexpected.   I guess about as unexpected as me signing up to do a half marathon and then actually following through on doing it.

I cant believe that every single time I go out there is something amazing to report.  I thought at some point this would end up being drudgery instead of some sort of spiritual and personal quest that made me joyous and appreciative.    I had the thought today that if I can do 10k's regularly then it might not be crazy to do a full marathon next year....Honestly, now that would seem like a crazy thought if I had not come this far.  Not so much, given what I have learned this past couple of months.  But I guess I am getting ahead of myself, because ultimately, even within the confines of a half marathon, I still have to consider being able to make a pace that works in the time allotted for the marathon.  Still, I do have a number of weeks before the 'start from scratch' training plans even begin training, so I am thinking that if things are going this well then maybe I will begin pacing myself eventually too.  I do say that I don't care how long it takes me but I just want to finish, and I do say that even if they stop timing, as long as I finish I will be happy, but if I need another goal, finishing in the allotted time, strikes me as a reasonable one.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

2 Months in to training- NO LONGER INSANE! ...This was a 30KM week! PUMPED!

Two Months, Two short months.

Two months ago, I went for my first training walk in my quest for the ability to participate on Team Yachad in the Miami Marathon's  Half Marathon .  My goal was and remains walking the course.

Two months ago, I thought I was insane.  Late in July, I was so grateful to Yachad for what they gave to Max this summer in the vocational programme at Camp Moshava Ba'ir.  He got an amazing work experience and they worked on many things in a work environment that were absolutely amazing and that in fact, took me years to figure out myself once getting into a work environment.

One night after taking him out for dinner, I saw the Facebook ad for Team Yachad at the Toronto Marathon on Facebook.  I looked it up and every little inch of my gratitude welled up in me and I was blindsided by the urge to sign up.

You have to know that what I was looking at were options.  Toronto was one option, with a 5k in May, but that did not seem remotely a large enough gesture to reflect my gratitude to Yachad. Yachad has a team at the Denver Marathon but I thought that adding the complexities of training at high altitude was not such a great choice for someone with no long distance walking background.
Jerusalem would be an awesome option except, well, getting there was not cheap.  Team Yachad Miami would be the most logical one for me.  Not inaccessible, and a 13 plus mile walk seemed like a pretty momentous goal for a 45 year old who was nearly 300 lbs and while not sedentary, definitely not in shape. I signed up and then started publicizing the heck out of it.  I posted on FB and told everyone I know so that I would have no option to back out.  A couple of weeks later, I found someone to get me started walking and we did- it was August 12.

I have learned so much since then.  I have walked regularly, although I did miss a couple of weeks with the final rounds of holidays, and being busy for work, which is a physical job and which I just find incompatible with training after 15 hour days on my feet (remember- I said I was not sedentary.)

  • I have discovered the beauty of going long enough to get past my muscles warming up and then being able to feel great, even while doing tough trails.
  • I have learned that I much prefer walking with someone else, and audio books are alright but I still prefer a walking partner.
  • I have been able to start seeing differences in my physical condition, including my heart rate slowing faster after a really hard work out and the ability to walk up hills that used to require frequent stoppage to get up.
  • I have learned to enjoy the adrenalin or endorphins or whatever that  makes me feel awesome and which, amazingly helps me to keep motivated even after difficult workouts that feel like they are going to kill me while I am going through them. Like Sassafras.  I wanted to die doing that trail, but I felt so good after doing it, that WOW when my friend Jeff commented that I should walk that trail until I OWN it, the comment resonated with me.  I am thinking that I will probably try to do that trail once a week or so until it seems like no big deal to me.
  • I have learned that the right equipment makes this process a lot easier.  I bought a hydration system (which I have not been using so much because for shorter walks, a 1 litre water bottle is enough, but I love the backpack I bought for the hydration system.  Mountain Equipment Coop is like my new bestest friend.  Wicking fabrics make all the difference to someone who is a total sweater (like sweater or swelterer, not a clothing article) and I also bought Trail shoes because I discovered that I really love walking off road.  I am glad I waited to decide what to buy until my actual needs declared themselves.  I also bought a garmin watch - a basic one to be able to download my routes and keep track of mileage and such.
  • That being said, thank god for google maps, because in fact, I can usually figure out how far we walked from Maps, for example on Shabbat when I don't use the watch.  Shabbat is a great day for me to walk because honestly, we have time and Marc is home and he LOVES walking.
  • Which brings me to the nice side effect of having quality spouse time with Marc.  I have never been a walk enjoyer before but he is and he really wished he could have a consistent walking partner.  I made it eminently clear that I was not his man.  Until now.  After so many years, he finally has a fellow walker in the fam.  I would say that as long as the weather is remotely decent, we will be heading out on Shabbat most weeks and sometimes we also head out when he gets home from work, although those tend to be shorter walks because it's late.
  • We figure he walks around 4 km a day just getting to and from work, so he is sort of in mild training just by doing that.  We actually really hope to do this together!
  • I realize that this whole thing is sort of a metaphor for life in general.  I never could have predicted that I was going to enjoy this process.  I mean, I heard myself last week saying, that I might actually plan a trip to Jerusalem for the half marathon there a month after florida...I was fearful in the beginning but it turns out that there was really nothing to fear, because I am liking this so much!  Sometimes you just have to do it.  Get started, get out the door, push through the yucky stuff and once you warm up, find that  you are having a completely different experience than you ever thought you would have!
Yup, I think that walk today was over 13 kilometres.  Can you believe it?

To sponsor me, please go to
Yachad is an amazing organization and I am doing this to raise their profile and raise money!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

When everything goes wrong and I still did it.

Today's walk was a total drag.  My GPS kept turning off and I specifically did that trail so that I could see how far one part of it was.  I decided to try another trail that sounded attractive and as it turned out it was a total botch.  All uphill.  It took me an extra ten minutes per km because i had to stop and rest constantly it was so uphill.

IN any case, once again, I am home and my body feels good and i know that however much I did not enjoy it, I seriously accomplished something today!  I kept pushing through even when i just wanted to give up and go home.  As useless and stupid as i felt going so slowly, had my GPS actually recorded the final 2k of the walk, as soon as I hit flat ground, i was back to my usual pace, so that was also reassuring. I met a nice girl on the trial, last part of it, who just moved to Hamilton for Grad School.  I so much prefer walking with someone!

And pretty as it was, I did not enjoy my surroundings so much because I was working so freaking hard.  BUT, it was pretty spectacular when I got this close to this deer and about ten or fifteen feet from two more!

I figure today was about 6 k, but it was a HARD 6k.

Post script. my GPS software is recording this as miles.  Truth is It could have been.  In which case the walk was 9.12 km

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why was I inspired to do this?! How Autism Spectrum Disorder came into our lives.. Part 2

One of the things Chedoke held for parents of the newly diagnosed was a course on how to get your child to improve his speech (or start to speak if he didn't.)  We had a speaking child, but he needed some further development and we attended this workshop for ten weeks.  We met other parents who had kids like ours and at the end of the series, we were sent three people who were on the Autism Spectrum who told us about their lives.  One of them was my cousin David (who I ran into and walked with today.)

When he walked into the room, he saw us and his face fell.  It was clear that he knew why we were there and he was sad to hear it.  After his speech and the rest of the speakers, he came to tell me that if my child ever needed support or to talk, he would be happy to help.  He also advised us to get him into sports that were single- like swimming or track because he would be able to be part of the team.  David is a highly accomplished marathon runner, so he knew what he was talking about.

My gut reaction was that if my kid turned out to be a mensch like David, how bad could having a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum be?  Anyone who knows my kid, knows he is a mensch, and honestly, I know people who would be happy to trade their typically developing kids with bad attitudes for a kid who might have issues, but is a mensch.  Thanks, David, for being the first person to make me realize that the DX was not some sort of a death sentence.  Today, I hope that I returned the favour by suggesting that David hook up with Yachad in Toronto.

The things that Chedoke provided us enabled us to really get practical and when we moved to Boston, we connected with a Doctor who was referred to us by our Developmental pediatrician at home.  She was amazed at our acceptance of the situation and how knowledgeable we were about our child as well as the disorder.

We have had our ups and downs over the years with regard to living with ASD.  In Boston, he qualified to be in a programme for kids specifically on the spectrum with teachers who had master's degrees in spec. ed from the New England Centre for Autism.  We pushed for integration, which was one of the things Chedoke had pushed us for in terms of advocating for our child.  The Board of Ed saw that we were specifically including him in programmes out in the community which were integrated and that we put our money where our mouths were.

When we came back to Canada, our decision process for where to live included Hamilton because we thought there would not  be a snowballs chance in hell that he could go to Jewish school until grade 8 in Toronto, but with smaller class sizes, it might be more likely in Hamilton.  Both Kehila and the HHA were good to him and he graduated in 2010 with more jewish education than I had.

He went to public school, where while he had an iep, he did not qualify for services, so he had quite a challenge in terms of getting used to classes with 30 kids in them (versus 8 in grade 8) and a school with 1700 plus kids in it.  He did have a learning resource teacher, but sadly he had 50 kids with iep's attached to him and i know he felt like our son needed more. He did pretty well through those years, but we knew that with some extra support, which he did not qualify for, he would excel!

At the end of Grade 10, our son was invited to the pilot Social Communications Programme at Ancaster.  That summer, we went to Israel for the summer and when he returned, he started at the new school.   Before leaving for Israel, he participated in a Shabbaton for Yachad in Toronto and came home thrilled with the new friends and contacts he had made.

In the new school programme, he has done incredibly well.  He has been getting an incredible amount from the programme.  All the students are high functioning kids on the spectrum and one is only allowed into the programme by invitation.  He got straight A's last semester and we were so thrilled with his progress, that whe he asked if he could work for the summer instead of going to Camp, we were open to it.  The next day we discovered that Yachad had a vocational programme at Camp Moshava ba ir and we signed him up.  He lived in Toronto on his own for seven weeks and the programme was amazing.  They taught him to negotiate the world of work, about professionalism, about dealing with colleagues and supervisors and how to be an attentive and agreeable employee.  My understanding is that next year, he will very likely be hired as regular staff.

Both of our kids now participate in Yachad.  They go to events and shabbatonim, they get volunteer hours for their participation and make new friends each time.  It is an inclusive programme where everyone but the advisors are participants and its really amazing to see.  Kids qualify from the age of 8 to participate in yachad programmes and they work to ensure that there is enough support for everyone so that everyone can participate and enjoy.    My son finally has jewish friends again (he had lots of non jewish friends...) and both of them look forward to participating in the programmes in the year to come!

Needless to say, this forms the basis of my intention to participate in the yachad marathone.  I love the programme and i think what they have set up is incredible.  I love how all are welcome.  Part of the goal here is to finish the walk and part of it is to raise yachad's profile and get people connected to yachad who might otherwise not know about it.  And of course to raise  money. 

Sum up of my past couple of weeks plus personal and earth shattering revelation about warm up! 9.2 K today!

Two weeks ago Monday night, Marc and I went walking.  I don't recall what route or how long although I imagine it was around an hour since that is what we usually aim for.

After that, it was shopping and cooking for Issy's Bar Mitzvah, and then shmini atzeret, shabbat and then simchat torah and then Issy's Bar Mitzvah!  Of course, I reconciled the whole not training when I am working 15 hour days on my feet a few weeks ago, but I was sad that I could not get out during the chag and shabbat to go for a walk.  I think at times like those I need to give up my dreams at Shaarei Yishayna and just get up and go walking instead.  It's not my usual, but then neither is training to walk for a half marathon either!

This past shabbat, we walked about 5.5 K as a family.  We went out the rail trail to Aberdeen, down dundurn to main and back to cline.  We decided to walk together since we are doing the Wellwood Walk this weekend at Mac.  It was very nice to walk together and we also stopped to talk to the guy who bought our house on Herkimer in 2002.

I am learning something interesting about warming up.  The first couple of kilometres are killer.  No matter what.  After my body gets warmed up, I feel like I can walk a whole marathon, let alone a half, but until that point, oy va voy li. Today I worked out that it probably takes a couple of kilometres for me to warm up.

So, this is pretty much earth shattering to me.  Why?  because honestly, If it was up to me  to stop when I felt like I was not enjoying the walk, or when it was uncomfortable, I would never get past that first couple of km.  Once I get past them, I feel totally like I can go forever!  Today, I went with my friend Jeannie and we walked 9.2Km.  We also stopped for a bit to talk to my Cousin, who is a marathoner, David Morris (and then he joined our walking for a few km) so it took longer than it would have but it was a gorgeous day and we both enjoyed speaking and walking with David.

At the end of our walk I actually said to Jeannie that if when we got to the car it was anywhere near 9.5 km I would walk the extra kilometer, but it was just 9.2, and I decided tomorrow is another day after we walked up the hill at the end of our hike back up to the residential neighbourhod where we parked.

Tomorrow, I have a meeting with a new family Doctor.  Ours, even though we love him is never available and we wait months for things like check ups and such because he is a sole doc in the practice and is often shut down for months, either because he breaks something in a bike race, or for vacations.  I am going to see how far his office is now and see if I have time to walk down to the appointment after 11:30, when my work finishes.

Jeannie and I decided we make excellent walking partners too, so hopefully we can walk some of the trails she knows and then I can share them with marc when we walk together!  She seems to have a pretty good handle on them!