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!