5K Foamfest – Getting muddy again

Or … how to not take care of skinned knees

 

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I am known for my outstanding coordination and grace… Not!

Trail running 101… don’t tempt fate!

In early June of last year I did the unthinkable and inexcusable… I had a really bad fall while trail running in the Lac Du Bois grasslands. Why inexcusable? I had an event (Foam Fest at Sun Peaks) a week away so I should have been wrapped in psychic bubble wrap to prevent getting injured. I also tempted fate by saying to my friend Jody right before I fell, “I love this trail because I don’t feel like I’m about to fall!”…. BOOM!

We think I tripped over a rock although it happened so fast nobody is sure what happened. I went down so hard and so fast my hands didn’t even have time to react and brace my fall – they never touched the dirt. All the force went directly onto my knees… and my left knee in particular. Why is this unthinkable? It was an easy trail and I hadn’t fallen for a few months so …. back to tempting fate. I actually do fall a fair amount when I run. Oddly I don’t fall when I cross country ski, but running is a different ball game.

So, there I was rolling around on the trail screaming in pain and bleeding. I was screaming so loud Gerry, who runs ahead of us with headphones on and doubles back to check on us, heard me and immediately sprinted back. I decided I could walk back – not many options anyway. By the time I got home I could feel the swelling. I went to my chiropractor / sports guy and he confirmed that he thought it was a sprain and the standard rest / ice / elevation combo would do the trick. Hmmm… Ice was no problem. Rest? Hmmmm…. I had Foam Fest the next weekend and then I was doing a solo backpack to Egypt Lake a few weeks later. Hmmm…. The nightly swelling my left knee actually lasted for months.

 

I had also been invited to visit the set of the Movie if the Week I wrote. Trying to make a good professional impression wearing shorts because fabric touching the scab was seriously unpleasant. The timing for this injury was seriously unpleasant.

The biggest thing I was worried about was Foam Fest at Sun Peaks. It was our second time doing Foam Fest. We have a huge team and I was really looking forward to it. I knew my knees would get trashed in the mud, water, and on the obstacles so I was looking for a solution to keep the sores dry and protect them. I knew the sprain would probably get worse (bad me) but I thought I’d just rest and ice more later to make up for it (very bad me).

My solution!

Ok, this is not a blog post about what worked or what one should try in a similar situation, this is purely for entertainment purposes and to teach the lesson… DON’T DO AS I DO!!!!

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Supplies for high performance athletes (not!)… note the diapers (cue foreshadowing music)

 

Honestly, I thought these ingredients would work to protect my knee. I had high hopes for the infant diapers. Sliding my leg in sideways and taping it all up should work… right?

Remember that saying that Duct Tape is good for everything but ducts? Wrong!

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Foam Fest – Race Day!

So, since I really am that graceful, I fell on my knee and ripped the diaper before the race even started. Yup, that felt good! (not!)

Our team – Revenge of the MudMonsters, was awesome as usual. We had a blast and can’t wait for this year. My knee? It got thrashed. My ingenious solution to my knee issue didn’t even last through the first obstacle. Bending it in weird angles to crawl over fences or rope ladders was excruciating. I survived.

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Mudmonsters… all clean and pretty!

 

 

2016-06-18 | 2016 5k Foam Fest Sun Peaks

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So, the moral of this story is Foam Fest is awesome and diapers and duct tape won’t protect injured knees. See you in June of 2017… must remember to put bubble wrap on my calender!

 

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50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year – Recap

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With Dawn Nelson at the Polar Bear Swim – blame her, she started all of this!

The dust is starting to settle after my birthday and the completion of 50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year. I’ve heard congratulations from many of my friends, and even people I don’t know. I’ve heard of how my adventures have inspired others to try new things, and even some people planning their own list of crazy things before a significant birthday. It’s amazing how we can have an affect on people just by being ourselves, and sharing our lives.

In the past year I faced some of my fears head on. Think dating… and trapeze school! I may not have conquered them, but I stared them down and made them just a little smaller, and a little less powerful. Each time I try something that fear monster will keep getting smaller – I definitely confirmed that in the past year.

The Scream

The Scream

I did things in the past year that were just silly, or spontaneous like driving to Kelowna to do an escape room, or getting my nose pierced with Krista, Monica, and Jody – I definitely didn’t see that coming. These are the things we hear about and think, “Gee, that sounds like fun…” but then we get to busy and never do them. I’m happy to say I did them… and more! What I discovered is looking at the world in a certain way becomes a habit. If I saw the opportunity for adventure I usually took it, and I put it out there for others to join me. The cool thing is, they often jumped at it, and then we were all a little more spontaneous or silly.

When I went back to Meadow Lake, SK, in the summer with my mom I went back to the place where I was born. It doesn’t sound like a big deal. It’s not like I was born somewhere exotic. But I’d thought about it for so many years and found all kinds of lazy reasons not to do it. We went, and it was a good thing for both of us, facing the past and the future. I’m so glad we took the time to go.

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I did some things alone, and they were magical. I hiked the Berg Lake Trail, having never done an overnight backpack before. I spent time with myself and discovered not only a beautiful outer landscape but a special inner one as well.

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On the Berg Lake Trail – my first glacier

Friends and family jumped at the chance to get crazy with me, and several jumped multiple times. I had enthusiastic bridesmaids for the Rock n’ Roll 10K, a group of crazy people did the Conair plane crash hike with me. Amanda flew to Florida with me, ran her first half marathon (actually ran her first anything), and rode rides with me while risking the fact that I could very well throw up on her. Krista, Monica, and Jody (all repeat Crazy Thing participants) even ate bugs with me… that is true friendship! And I can’t even count how many people generously supported me by helping me raise an insane amount of money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand while they enjoyed “dressing the fairy”. Dawn Nelson, the crazy woman who suggested my 50 Crazy Things in my 50th year, even did the Polar Bear Swim with me and together we encountered magic we truly weren’t expecting. There were also countless people who supported me in the best way they could – by cheering me on, reading the blog posts, and enjoying my frequent episodes of discomfort. Support comes in many forms and I recognize and appreciate all the support I have in my life.

I want to thank all of the people who helped me, participated with me, and cheered me on. I love all of you.

The biggest thing I learned, or maybe remembered, is that life rarely happens when you’re sitting on the couch looking out the window. It happens out there. Habits are meant to be broken, and rebuilt as new habits. Bars are meant to be raised. Fears are meant to be faced.

What next?

I plan to continue my crazy things – just not with a deadline. I plan to live a crazy life. There were a lot of things I couldn’t fit into my year. The list is still there and it is growing. I will keep blogging about it because people seem to enjoy reading about my discomfort.

My whole reason for starting this journey was to stop the trends I saw solidifying in my life. My life was getting smaller… I’m stopping that. I was saying no more than yes… I’m stopping that too. I want a life that is richer, and one that is filled with more great adventure and more great people. My next 50 years are going to be very busy!

Oh, and to answer that question AGAIN… I am still not jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or tying an elastic around my ankles and jumping off a cliff! Crazy… not stupid!

The list

So here it is, the complete list of my 50 Crazy Things with links to each of the blog posts. Thank you all for sharing this with me. It’s been a wild ride and I’m only getting started! Who’s in?

#1 – Run the Disney Princess Half Marathon
#2 – Ride a roller coaster without throwing up
#3 – Fund raise for a charity
#4 – Run a 10K and a Half Marathon back to back
#5 – Run half marathons on each coast in the same year
#6 – Join the circus (Trapeze School)
#7 – Embrace Obstacles (Foam Fest)
#8 – Walk above the water (Suspension bridge)
#9 – The Berg Lake Trail
#10 – Return to the place where I was born
#11 – 10X up the steps to the lighthouse in Cochin, SK
#12 – Let my cousin drag me around a lake while she tries to kill me
#13 – Hike to the Conair plane crash site
#14 – Go on a date
#15 – Beat the Blerch – Get out of control
#16 – Ride on a motorcycle
#17 – Wear a wedding dress
#18 – The Moustache Miler – spontaneous mingling
#19 – Drive home in my pajamas
#20 – Night skiing away from civilization
#21 – Do a virtual run
#22 – Follow intuition and rediscover magic
#23 – Go out for New Year’s
#24 – Polar Bear Swim
#25 – Make a snow angel
#26 – Give blood again
#27 – Eat a bug on purpose
#28 – Ski the hills without putting the brakes on
#29 – Learn to paint
#30 – Climb a tree
#31 – Go ice skating
#32 – Go rock climbing
#33 – Get passionate (Passion Party)
#34 – Snowshoe race
#35 – Improve at a sport (Cross Country Ski Lesson)
#36 – Downhill Skiing
#37 – Have headshots taken by a professional photographer
#38 – Let a photographer do a portrait
#39 – Get a tattoo
#40 – Visit an Escape Room
#41 – Run a half marathon without training – just because
#42 – Volunteer somewhere scary
#43 – Ladies’ choice (get my nose pierced)
#44 – Ski a half marathon
#45 – Write a screenplay
#46 – Street photography
#47 – Photograph star trails
#48 – Take a selfie every day
#49 – Self portrait
#50 – Turn 50 with a smile on my face

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #41 – Wing it for a half marathon with Jody

Since my year began with running a half marathon (21K) I figured it should end with one too. Because Jody is always up for an adventure, she agreed to do this one with me. Her husband, Gerry, shook his head in disbelief.

Not only were we going to run (actually more walk than run) a half marathon on our own with no crowds, medals, t-shirts, or any kind of fanfare, we were going to do it without any training.

I cross country ski a lot in the winter and Jody had done quite a bit this year as well, so it’s not like we’re not fit. Running is like any other activity. Muscles like to do things they’ve been practicing. Our muscles have been practicing gliding, or showshoeing with our legs in a different position than running. Neither of us had actually run at all since December 15th when we did our 5K virtual cupcake run. Really, though, how hard can it be?

We made plans to meet at 6:30 am on Valentine’s Day at my house. We could run on the rivers trail and use my house as a washroom stop / aid station. Tomena, much to our shock, decided to join us for the first 9K. So the three of us reminisced about the slush run of last year and training for half marathons we all did last year. We watched a brilliant sunrise, and had a great time.

Then we got back to my place, reloaded our water, etc. and said goodbye to Tomena. 12Km to go – no problem!… actually… problem!

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Don’t be fooled – this is ice not water!

We agreed that we would walk the rest of the way because that would be easy… right? Wrong! By the time we got to 16K we were hurtin’ girls. My hips were sore but I think Jody was suffering a bit more than I was. It was a damp morning, which does nothing for either of us, and it was also icy. We didn’t discover that until Jody found what looked like a puddle and was actually polished ice. She went down backwards in slow motion and there was nothing I could do about it. After that we still had 5K to go. We managed to finish but I wouldn’t say it was our best run or walk. It took us four hours!

Of course, some of that time was spent doing what we do best – enjoying the scenery and taking pictures. Some of the highlights that distracted us from our pain were the awesome hearts strewn along the trail by artists wanting to brighten up Valentine’s day. We saw wildlife – a beaver underneath the Overlander’s Bridge and swans coming in to land. We met and interesting guy collecting cans and bottles, and we had lots of time for great conversation.

Looking forward to running season starting again, but not until I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every second of ski season.

Why was this crazy?

We spend a ridiculous amount of time training for runs – what if we just did the runs?

Would I do it again?

Probably not… I think training and building gradually to a distance is a good thing! I was in serious pain the next day!

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Finished! We got that sh#t done!

 

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #21 – do a virtual run

Maybe this isn’t crazy by some standards but it was to me. I have heard about ‘virtual runs’ in the past year but hadn’t actually participated in one until December 15th, which was also National Cupcake Day in the United States. Virtual runs are when you register for a particular event but you don’t have to travel – everyone who registers does it a home and then posts their results online. Beat the Blerch had a virtual option for people who couldn’t travel to one of the races and the Hogwarts Running Club, an online virtual running club, hosts a number of Harry Potter themed virtual runs through the year. The first one of 2016 is the Molly Weasley Ugly Jumper Run on February 6th, which is Arthur Weasley’s birthday.

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Each time I wanted to do a virtual run this year it either sold out, I was low on funds, or I couldn’t make the timing work. You still have to finish the run within a certain date range so it’s not like you can just do it whenever. The cool thing is you still get awesome medals (it’s all about the bling!) that they mail to you and you still have a sense of participating with a group. The thing is, however, you really need to do something to make the run special. When you run in a big event you have the crowd, fellow runners, the starting and finish lines, on route entertainment, and a racing element that even inspires turtles such as me to experience a boost of adrenaline. With a virtual run you either create that for yourself, or it could be a bit boring.

When we were at the Rock n’ Roll 10K Krista, Monica, Trisha, Jody and I were playing with the idea of doing one and the Cupcake Day 5K was an early contender. The medal was awesome (we’d seen it online). The charity was great – Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Plus, the race organizers wanted you to do it on or as close to December 15 as you could. December 15 is National Cupcake Day and if possible celebrate with cupcakes – how can you go wrong with cupcakes?

We decided to do it as a group and Tracy joined us as well. Trisha couldn’t do it on actual National Cupcake Day with us so she did it on another day. We planned our 5K so our starting and finishing line was at Sweet Spot Cupcakes in Aberdeen. I think the owner, Natalie, thought we were nuts but funny at the same time.

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Natalie from Sweet Spot Cupcakes

So December 15th came and because I’m just that kind of person I cross country skied 12 hard km of hills in the morning and then ran on icy and snowy streets that night. My legs were dead at the end. But we ran, slipped a lot, one of us fell on ice (oddly enough it wasn’t me!), and looked at Christmas lights while we made our way along our 5ish Km route. We got to the end and according to Run Keeper, the app we use to track our activities, we weren’t quite at 5K yet so we did laps around the Canadian Tire parking lot to make up the distance. After that it was all sugar… I had a candy cane cupcake and it was awesome!

Why was this crazy?

We had to make it crazy, and fun, and different, and way out of the ordinary. We all run all the time and 5K isn’t really that big of a deal, but we made it an event and celebrated the journey. And we all have the medal to prove it. The thing is, why don’t we make every day special and celebrate more? It’s not really that hard.

Would I do it again?

Of course! I’m already looking for more virtual runs. They’re fun and easy on the travel budget as well. Plus, I have the best running buddies in the world and we can make anything fun!

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50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #18 – The Moustache Miler – Spontaneous Mingling

I really hadn’t planned to go to Vancouver late in November. It’s not usually a time I drive down unless I have to because the roads can be very hit or miss. After meeting Gord Kurenoff from the Vancouver Sun at the Rock n Roll 10K, though, I suddenly realized I needed to do something a little spontaneous. He invited me down for the Moustache Miler – a fundraiser for prostate cancer and part of the activities planned for Movember. The idea is you run, you wear a moustache, and you have fun… all for a good cause. I realized I could get some business done as well when I came down so I threw caution to the wind and registered. I didn’t plan a lot, I felt very disorganized, and yet I just went for it. I planned two business meetings for the same trip to maximize my time and then I enjoyed two solo nights in a hotel with no schedule other than running the race on Saturday.

Gord and I had became friends on social media and he nudged me into coming and wearing a costume for the event. He was running as a moose with a moustache – a moostache (Gord is bursting with puns!).

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Gord Kurenoff – Moostache Miler

Deciding on a costume that Gord suggested, I promptly got busy doing other things and didn’t get my costume together much before the event. In fact, the important elements in the costume didn’t come together until the night before.

The Costume

My costume? The Swedish Chef from the Muppets! Gord had listed off a pile of famous moustaches for potential costumes and when he said the Swedish Chef a lightbulb went off in my brain! I love the muppets, I love the Swedish Chef… and hey… I’m Swedish!

Aside from a chef’s hat I got at Value Village in the Halloween area, a white apron from Krista Dick, and a plaid shirt I already owned, I had no idea how I was going to pull it off. How would I make my moustache and eyebrows? They were the key element in the costume. It wouldn’t be a Movember costume without a moustache!

It wasn’t until the day before the race that I was walking around downtown Vancouver looking for an idea when I finally came up with it in a cheap Vancouver souvenir store. I felt bad, for like a minute, but the colour was perfect, the price was right, and I had brought a sewing kit just for this purpose. That night in the hotel room I got to work.

RIP Squatchi

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Yup, I did it 😦

I skinned the little guy, one of the Vancouver Olympic mascots, and made eyebrow shaped pieces that I sewed right to the chef’s hat (stroke of brilliance)… I had started out thinking I would tape them to my eyebrows or my glasses but this worked way better. After a few attempts that didn’t look right I finally got a pair that worked. I had to wonder if Vanoc (the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee) or the IOC (International Olympic Committee) was going to come after me for desecrating a sacred mascot from an event that happened five years earlier… they have spies everywhere! And who knew my hair is the exact same colour as Squatchi?

Next, the moustache. I carefully studied pictures of my hero and finally came up with an appropriate mustache shape. There was so much mascot hair all over my room I’m sure the cleaning staff were going to be seriously confused… or maybe they were just too smart to ask questions.

I used double sided tape for my moustache, which worked in the beginning but by the end of the run had no stick left. Gord told me later that the moustaches always fall off due to the sweat factor and the best results came from using the glue that people stick false eyelashes on with. Obviously, I’ve never used false eyelashes… that seems pretty obvious.

Gord the Moose and I had fun. I met his awesome (and very tolerant) wife, and his mom and step dad who were doing their first 5K walk that day.

As a run it sucked – don’t wear flannel when running… I also can’t believe how poorly I run whenever I’m in Vancouver, it’s like I can’t breathe because of the humidity. But, I finished, got lots of high fives, lots of laughs, and had a really good time.

I still know nobody there except Gord and his family but I had a lot of fun.

Why was this crazy?

I don’t usually go to small events like this alone when I don’t know anybody. My introvert self kicks in and wants to hide in the corner and wish it would all go away. Not saying I didn’t do that, but at least I showed up! I didn’t say no just because I knew exactly how I would react. I forced myself to interact with strangers, have fun, and be lighthearted. Leaving the after party in the early afternoon I was exhausted… mingling is very hard work for an introvert!

Would I do it again?

Ugh. Yes. I will probably never like being in that position but every time I put myself out there it will likely be a lot easier. The run itself was great fun – I’d love to see one in Kamloops, and I’d definitely go do it again… but maybe not wear flannel next time!

Oh, and did you see Gord’s blog? I made two of his blogs this year and even his year end review… gotta up my game next year to three or more!

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Got the moutache medal!

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year # 17 – Wear a wedding dress

white weddingSo, obviously, I’ve never been married and I’ve never even really entertained the whole big wedding dream idea. It’s safe to say that even if I was going to get married, the whole wedding industry would collapse if they were relying on my business. The spectacle, the attention, the formality – I usually don’t even like going to weddings.

When my 50 Crazy Things list came up it was a bit of a joke that I should wear a wedding dress before my 50th birthday, even though at the time I hadn’t even gone on a date in years. I planned to wear a white running outfit with a white tutu and veil at a Colour Me Rad race but I couldn’t get the dates to work so I let the idea go until Jody Lenarcic, Krista Dick, Monica Williams, Trisha Cooper and I started planning our girls weekend at the Rock N’ Roll 10K in Vancouver in October. We were thinking of costumes and suddenly I got the idea that I could go as a Rock n’ Roll bride and that would satisfy the crazy thing. Well, apparently you can’t have a bride without bridesmaids! When I asked them if they would be willing to participate in my special day they all shouted “Yes!” and started pestering me about colour schemes – I was instantly overwhelmed.

The plan progressed and since I didn’t want them to go to a lot of expense for this, I said they should wear black and then they could put coloured tutus and accessories over top. I had transfers made for their shirts and I wore a white shirt and white tutu with some black accessories. Easy!

They each picked a colour and had hair things (name… kind of like a garland?), arm warmers, and skirts in their chosen colour. I made the transfers for their black t-shirts and at the last minute I had a stroke of brilliance (not even bragging!) – I looked for the font I knew must really exist and I was rewarded with much joy… the Iron Maiden font did exist… we were going to be the Bride and the Brides Maidens! It was brilliant! The front of their shirts said “Brides Maiden” and the backs said “We knew the bride when she used to rock and roll.” The front of my white shirt just said “Bride” and the back said, “Nice day for a white wedding.” I had a black veil, grey lace sewn to my waterbelt, a huge spider engagement ring, black lace arm things (name…I have no vocabulary for fashion), and we were all covered in tattoos… some were real… some, including all of mine, were fake. We also had plastic bouquets – all spray painted black. I have to say, we looked freaking awesome!

Conveniently the run is right before Halloween so we got great costume accessories at the Halloween Spirit Store and Value Village. Being frugal, we also realized that with a bit of tweaking we could use most of our accessories in our Sugar Plum Fairy costumes for the Santa Shuffle in December. Bonus!

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5 women, 2 nights, 1 SUV stuffed to the rafters

The trip was a riot, as always. We had five women in a quint hotel room at the Y Hotel Residence in Vancouver. It was like a pajama party for the over 40 set and all five of us had our own beds. Monica expertly handled all the ironing duties for getting the shirts done and we all spent the night before the race eating rockets (Halloween candy… prerace carb loading), drinking a little bit, and having a blast. Huge shout out here to my neighbours Patty and Stacy who let me print all the shirt transfers on their inkjet printer since my laser printer wouldn’t cut it.

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Hotel room selfie the morning of my big day

The morning of the race our costumes came together. Rock N’ Roll races are known for their costumes but this was pretty new to Vancouver so we didn’t know how many others would get into the spirit of the race – a lot did – including my future groom!

Wait for it….

We made our way through downtown Vancouver to the shuttle that would take us to the starting line. Already we were starting to turn some heads and get some laughs. The starting area in English Bay was a lot of fun. There were lots of costumes! We were getting our picture taken in front of the Inukshuk down by the water when we saw another group of costumed runners and in them was my future groom… Alice Cooper! A guy dressed as Alice was there and we had our picture taken with him. It turns out he belongs to a huge Running Race Costume group that I also belong to on Facebook and we both posted pictures later.

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Hey mom… I met a guy!

We also met Vancouver Sun sports blogger Gord Kurenoff, a former Kamloopsian, who included us in his blog. He’s an awesome guy and very inspirational.

As we ran the race Trisha went ahead as it was her first 10K and we didn’t want to slow her down. Monica and Krista run together so they took off too. Jody and I hung back and enjoyed running alongside women dressed as the Absolutely Fabulous duo and others. I have never had so much attention in a race – but a lot of people actually thought it was a staggette and I was really getting married. People were congratulating me all over the place. I tried explaining and finally Jody said to me, “Give up. Just say thank you!”

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We finished the race and had a blast and that night, over dinner in Chinatown, we were already thinking of what we would do for next year – it will be hard to top Bride and the Brides Maidens!

Why was this crazy?

Oh please! Have you met me? I am seriously not the wedding dress type. So many people were excited that I was going to wear a wedding dress, though, until they saw what it looked like. Then their dreams of Vesta in a poofy wedding dress exploded in a burst of gothic-looking confetti.

Would I do it again?

Hell ya! Would I do it for real? Not bloody likely! Hue thanks to Jody, Krista, Monica, and Trisha for being the best bridesmaids EVER!

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #15 – Beat the Blerch – Get out of control

reeds

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but it is a huge deal to me.

I am always the person who organizes, plans, controls. I don’t always want to be but often that’s the role I fall into and I do it fairly willingly. When something needs to be organized, the people I am with often look to me. I used to resist this, but I often end up with this attitude of, “I’ll do it because nobody else will.” That’s probably not true, but that’s the way it feels.

Lately, having started running with Jody Lenarcic and her wonderful husband, Gerry. I have been given the opportunity to let go of control a bit and it’s been quite liberating. Gerry is also an organizer, and when we run he picks our route and makes sure we don’t get lost on the trails. It felt a bit weird at first, but now it’s a lot easier. We run in the Lac Du Bois Grasslands area just above Bachelor Heights in Kamloops. There is an extensive trail network for runners and mountain bikers and this area is right above where Jody and Gerry live.

It feels a bit alarming but even though I’m pretty famous for memorizing landmarks and trails, I would have a hard time running in that area by myself. In the past year I’ve ceded control to Gerry when it comes to trail choice and making sure I don’t get lost.

We decided to do the Beat the Blerch 10K run in Seattle. The run itself is fantastic – one of the best I’ve ever done. It’s the brainchild of a writer and cartoonist known as The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman). He wrote an essay / book called The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances. In it he describes a creature called the Blerch – that voice in your head that tries to stop you from bothering to reach your goals. The idea is that the Blerch is always chasing you, trying to get you to succumb to laziness and excuses. The goal of any runner on any run is to literally beat the Blerch and not let it catch them. For this race, there are live guys dressed as Blerches chasing you on the course, there is a couch for you to rest on, magical fizzy grape juice and cake at the water station, and lots of people in costume. It was our first time at this event and it was outstanding. We will definitely be doing it again.

The crazy part of this trip, however, was only partially the race itself. It was the fact that I consciously, and deliberately, let go of control and refused to let myself organize anything. We had an entire weekend just outside Seattle and I organized nothing. I felt a bit panicked and out of control… like I was going to forget something, or be surprised by something, the whole time. Well, I was surprised… by a lot of things.

When I think about signing up for any race I always look at past results to see roughly where I would finish. I deliberately don’t do small events where I would likely finish last and they would be waiting for me to finish… memories of high school. I usually choose bigger events where I will likely finish somewhere in the middle.

For this event, I refused to let myself look at past results. Instead, I looked at all the fun we could have. Jody and I don’t run fast but we do like to have fun.

I also gave up all control – hotel, transportation, restaurants, etc… all of it… to Gerry and everyone else. There were 5 of us and I controlled nothing the entire weekend. I thought I was going to have a heart attack but I did it. Gerry picked the hotel and reserved it, I jumped into the backseat of their truck and took on the role of passenger. Diane and Catherine met us at the hotel. Right now I can’t even remember which hotel it was… this is astonishing for me!

I think it’s generally a good thing that I’m usually the organizer, but I think it’s good to not do it every once in a while too. The biggest thing I had to learn was to just let it happen, enjoy the process, and embrace the surprises that came my way when I wasn’t so busy making things happen.

We left on the Saturday and the run was on the Sunday. We were staying on the edge of Kirkland, WA (home of Costco) and all of my travel companions decided we would go down to Lake Washington to find a restaurant for dinner. Catherine had been there before. I was along for the ride and agreed to go anywhere. It turns out the waterfront area of Kirkland is spectacular and we were treated to a good dinner, and a fantastic walk after where we enjoyed one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen. I took hundreds of pictures. We walked along the dock area looking at all the boats, enjoyed the amazing array of street performers and public sculptures, and just had a wonderful time together. I probably would have looked for a restaurant close to the hotel and I’m so glad for the surprises we enjoyed that evening.

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This sculpture of kids playing Red Rover was too tempting – Gerry had to play.

 

The next day we went to the start area, which was somewhere in the country (??? no idea where) – I didn’t actually memorize the map of the area like I had before.

It was pouring rain and beautiful. Jody and I didn’t have a spectacular run – we hadn’t trained as much as we would have liked and the humidity nearly did me in. We didn’t finish last – I think we were somewhere in the middle. I don’t really know because to this day I haven’t looked at the results. I know I had a great time, and I know my time probably wasn’t great… if that makes sense!

When Amanda and I went to Florida in February I also gave control to her for the Disney World portion of our trip, and with good reason, she’s a Disney freak and possibly even more of an organizer than I am. She was brilliant! If you are thinking of a trip to Disneyland, check out her new blog Call Me Sweetness. I was in charge of our Universal day, however, so I still had some organizational responsibilities. It turns out they didn’t work out so well and we had to improvise… but no matter.

Why was this crazy?

We all have roles in our lives that we are comfortably, or uncomfortably, slotted into. These are the roles we are expected to fall into when we are with our friends, family, coworkers, etc. I am always the responsible one… it’s who I am. Choosing to not be that person, while not being irresponsible, was definitely out of my comfort zone.

Would I do it again?

Oh yeah! Not only does it make me try on and embrace a different role, it was unbelievably liberating. I felt like I was floating, often without direction, and going where the wind, or the people I was with, decided to take me. It’s a good thing to practice. It was definitely uncomfortable, but I just had to trust the people I was with and learning to do that is a very good thing as well.

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year – Thing #7 – Embrace Obstacles (plus bonus gift)

5K Foam Fest

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I really thought this crazy thing would be about going over / under / through / up / down obstacles, but it turned out to be a much bigger thing than I expected.

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Here we are at the start.

The 5K Foam Fest is a fun obstacle course race that takes place in different areas of the country. We first heard about it around Christmas, when a group of us were doing the 5K Santa Shuffle fun run for the Salvation Army. This wasn’t one group who have known each other for a long time, it was a bunch of women bringing in their friends to do a Christmas fundraiser. Through the miracle of Facebook, we started seeing ads for this obstacle race and some of us decided to sign up. Then we brought friends in to make the team bigger. A lot of us started as strangers but finished as friends. We started a message thread on Facebook and added people as others heard of what we were going to do. We chose a team name… OOYL (Only Once You Live… ala Yoda) and even managed to organize team shirts (thanks Krista!).

Starting line 2.

Here we are all warm and clean. That’s about to change. Photo by Nathan Froese.

The race was at Silverstar Ski Resort near Vernon and even though it was June and sunny, it was bloody cold – it even snowed the night before.

The idea of the event is you run through foam that’s deeper than you are, and then head out on a trail course where there will be approximately 20 obstacles you’ll have to tackle. Many of these obstacles involve water… actually, probably at least half.

Why was this crazy?

This was crazy for a number of reasons. First, there are the obstacles. I’m not really built for climbing, I didn’t even crawl when I was a baby (extremely sensitive knees!) and I was never really a monkey bar type of kid.

Second, I am an obsessively prepared person. I like to know exactly what I’m getting myself in for well before I show up for anything. For this event, I wasn’t even sure what all the obstacles would be although the promotional videos showed a number of them. I intentionally didn’t think about it. I didn’t look for ropes somewhere to try climbing those net things in secret when nobody was looking. I didn’t set up a mock obstacle course in some remote area so I could master the obstacles in secret. I just parked the obsessive part of my brain that needs to not look foolish and showed up on the day of the event.

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My favourite picture of me. I survived the Lily Pads! Picture taken by Nathan Froese.

Third, and this I didn’t think about ahead of time, I was on a team with a bunch of women – some of whom I didn’t know. This isn’t always a big deal but I work with almost all women, and have for most of my adult life, and sometimes things can get … bitchy or competitive. Hanging with groups of women is not something I normally pursue but I have done it more in the past few years. This turned out to be one of the coolest parts of my experience.

So my running buddy Jody and I showed up at the site, we tracked down our team members, which wasn’t easy given there were roughly 5,000 people competing through the day, and we lined up at the start line. There were 14 of us. It was awesome.

Let the obstacles begin!

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That bloody fence doesn’t look so hard from here.

When we started four of us wanted to run more so they went off ahead. The rest of us stayed together for most of the course. We went through foam, straight up a mountain, down inflatable slides into pools of freezing foamy mud, and then we got to a fence. I’m thinking it was about 10 feet tall and the horizontal slats were at odd distances from each other. Some of us hopped right over, but others, such as myself, had trouble with the physics of it. I could get up on the bottom rung but I couldn’t get my arm around to pull myself over. A boost from behind from my teammates and I was nearly launched over it. Obstacle complete, and I had my first sense of how amazing this day would be.

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We slid down these a lot! There is a pool of foam, ice cold water, and mud at the bottom – best not to hit that part head first.

We continued, more inflatable slides, back down the mountain, to a rope we climbed to pull ourselves up a hill that looked like straw but turned out be ice and snow covered by straw. Then we reached the lily pads. These are the type of mats we used in gym when I was in school. They were lashed together with rope into a long chain that ran almost the length of a really large pond. The idea is you have to run across these to the other side without falling in. Well, plenty of people fell in. Nobody survived with dry feet. I managed to stumble a bit but I made it across and it was a huge amount of fun. I was last in our group and the rest of them were on the other side cheering me on. Hmmm, this team concept might not be so bad. Then we had to crawl across inner tubes that were lashed together over more water – nothing was dry from this point on!

Next we ran up the mountain (other side of the valley) and encountered more obstacles – tires (like football players run through), more sliding, a maze of bungy cord that made me think I was training to rob an elite financial institution, and then crawling through mud below a web of bungy cord so you had to really crawl to make it underneath. There was shale in the mud so my knees, though numb from cold, were screaming! We slid down more slides into wet pools, ran through deep mud pools, and then reached a vertical web of rope that we had to make our way across laterally. Again, I was at the end of the group and I noticed that for a moment, the entire obstacle was covered in women in blue tank tops – my team. It made me feel proud – some weren’t confident on this at all. We heard it was best to grab the vertical parts of the net instead of the horizontal, which was more instinctive. It worked and we all made it through. There was another net that followed, but it was a huge, maybe 30ft, tent-shaped structure that we had to climb over. One of my team was on the other side ahead of me. She stayed in one place, keeping the ropes taut for me, so it was easier to climb over… teamwork!

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Stacy rocking the lily pads.

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These were super hard! Photo by Nathan Froese.

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You can’t fool us, there’s ice and snow under that hay!

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This was easily the worst part for me. My knees were screaming! It didn’t help that Krista was flinging mud back at us and hit me in the mouth.

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Grab the vertical parts, not the horizontal ones.

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Here I am coming down the slide at the end with Jody – caught Mid Scream. This is becoming a theme with me. Photo by Nathan Froese.

For all of these obstacles a core group of nine of us stayed together the whole time. The group didn’t move until every one of us completed the obstacle. That made me feel so good. And I’m super proud that despite a diverse collection of fears, none of us skipped an obstacle – we all supported each other and made it through every obstacle!

Two hours after we started (there were bottlenecks at some of the obstacles with long lines) we reached our last obstacle, an enormous inflatable slide that we went down two at a time. I’m not wild about falling / jumping from heights or moving fast. Jody and I did it together. I screamed. I loved it!

Here is the bonus I wasn’t expecting. We were a group that stayed together. Instead of egos there was problem solving. This person has short legs and a fear of heights, how do we get her over this obstacle? And then we made it happen. One of us turned her ankle. We all stopped until she was OK to go on. One for all, all for one!

I have never been so cold, wet and happy all at the same time! Next year we’re opening the team up to our families / partners. Current working team name is… Revenge of the Mud Monsters!

Huge thanks to my teammates – I am so grateful for every single one of them: Jody, Krista, Monica, Tracey, Trisha, Pam, Heidi, Stacy, Christine, Jillian, Diane, Dina, and Terri – while most of us stayed together, those that didn’t were still a huge part of my experience because the experience wasn’t just the weekend, it was the fun months of planning leading up to it!

Also huge thanks to Nathan Froese, who got way better pictures of us than the Foam Fest people did! Many of these pictures came from Nathan, and others came from three disposable waterproof cameras we had on the course with us. We are definitely doing that again next year!

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There we are, at the finish… all vertical and kinda muddy!

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A little foam cleaned us a up a bit! Photo by Nathan Froese.

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year – Thing #5 – Run Half Marathons on Each Coast in the Same Year

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The Pink Coast to Coast medal.

The Coast to Coast Challenge

Given I basically haven’t travelled in the past 20 years except to Saskatchewan, Vancouver, and Victoria, trying to organize and actually follow through with two trips to the US for something as frivolous as running was truly insane – and very much needed. I used to travel a lot. I backpacked around Britain and Ireland for two months after university, and then I moved back to Ireland for six months the following year. In university I travelled to Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Windsor, Toronto, and other places for exchanges or disabled sporting events when I worked for sport groups. After university I travelled to Niagara to fly with Air Combat Canada, kayaked and sailed in Haida Gwaii, and drove down the Oregon Coast working as a travel writer.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself in a travel rut and that rut has been getting narrower and narrower. This whole 50 Crazy Things started with me on Pinterest (drinking red wine – never a good combination) seeing costumes for RunDisney. Less than a year later I was in Florida, where I had never been before, running with Amanda Cowell. In August I just decided I would run for a charity, and ended up registered in the Pixie Dust Challenge in California the following May. It still blows me away that I just stepped out of my travel rut.

I’m now a seasoned pro again with baggage, flights, and US and Canadian Customs handled. On that first trip to Florida, Amanda breezed through US customs while I looked like a babbling idiot. Of course, she had a hunky guy who was flirting with her and I had a woman who looked like she might have prison guard figure prominently on her resume. I noticed going to and coming from California my customs luck had changed and I had hunky guys in each direction. Perhaps that was because I wasn’t travelling with Amanda. Food for thought.

The Coast to Coast medal is a free option from RunDisney and I didn’t know what a big deal it was until I’d already registered for the Pixie Dust Challenge. To earn a Coast to Coast medal you need to do one RunDisney Half Marathon on each coast in the same calendar year. To earn the much coveted pink Coast to Coast you need to specifically run the Disney Princess Half Marathon and the Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon in the same calendar year. Conveniently, I did just that. The regular Coast to Coast medal is blue. Maybe I need the set.

Why was this crazy?

I made myself leave the comfort of home, get out, move, do something unfamiliar. It’s been so long I forgot how to do it. I forgot how easy it was. And I remembered how hard it is. When you actually have a job and responsibilities it’s not always easy to just pick up and go somewhere, but for the most part, the rest of my world can adapt for a couple of days.

The Coast to Coast medal is more than a medal for running. To me it symbolizes travel that doesn’t really make sense – and that’s what makes it important.

Will I do it again?

Probably not the medal – but the travel…. ABSOLUTELY! There are places I want to go, places I want to take my mom. If I wait for the time to be right, it will probably never happen. The time is never right, and the time is always right.

50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year – Thing #4 – Run a 10K and a Half Marathon Back to Back

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3 medals / 3 shirts!

I have run seven half marathons in my past and have always kept to the rule that you don’t run back to back days. The rule, for me, has almost become a superstition and in my head if I run on back to back days very bad things would happen. My quadriceps may fall off, my hamstrings may decide to try macramé, or my Achilles Tendons would spontaneously shred and disappear completely – all of which would permanently cripple me. I have a very active imagination.

I started to notice a few years ago that some race organizers, and RunDisney in particular, were offering challenge races and everyone and their dog was clamoring for registration spots. These races are either on back to back days, or even on the same day. People also seem to want to register multiple years in a row which suggests that none of the above atrocities happened to them – they all seemed to have perfectly normal quads, hamstrings, and Achilles tendons. This intrigued me.

Challenge runs have been around since at least 2005 when RunDisney listened to people complaining about how they wanted to earn all the medals in an event weekend by participating in all the events. That year they offered the first Goofy Race and a Half Challenge as part of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. You could either choose to run the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon or Full Marathon, or you could choose to ‘do Goofy’ and run the Half Marathon and Full Marathon on back to back days for a total of 39.3 miles (62.88 Km). Now they even have the ‘Dopey’ challenge – which involves the running extremely ridiculous sequence of 5K / 10K / Half Marathon / Full Marathon on four consecutive days – truly a Dopey endeavour!

Challenges are seriously the latest craze and not only RunDisney is doing them. Most big races have this kind of option now and these challenges often sell out before the individual races do.

Why is this Crazy?

Pixie Dust Challenge medals

It’s all about the bling!

It wouldn’t be a crazy year if I wasn’t testing my boundaries of what I will and won’t do, and pushing myself past the places where I normally stop. Therefore, you guessed it, I had to do a challenge. I chose the Pixie Dust Challenge at the Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon, which involved running the 10K on Saturday, May 9th, and the Half Marathon on Sunday, May 10th . This would be for a total of 19.3 miles (30.1 Km). My biggest fear was that I would injure myself and not be able to run anymore.

Strategy

Running as part of Team Lemon with Alex’s Lemonade Stand, I was offered the services of an online coach – Coach Mary. She gave me some training tips that involved starting to run light back to back days and working my way up. This worked, but I still was doubtful, and actually really worried!

In talking to people who have done it many admit that they coast through one of the races and push themselves harder for the others. It’s all about the medals and by doing the Pixie Dust Challenge I would get three of the lovely beauties.

It worked!

I decided to go pretty easy on both runs. My only goal was to finish both while still vertical. I also had costume elements, heat, etc. to deal with and I wanted to have some fun, too.

I ran the 10K slower than I usually run a 10K and had a blast. I stopped to take lots of pictures, enjoy the sights, and I just ran to finish the race. Done!

 

Not Slow

OK, THIS is my favourite sign ever!

Still vertical!

Favourite sign EVER!

The next morning I wasn’t feeling sore at all and I ran the half marathon, also slower than I normally run, and also had a blast. I got the three medals, and the afternoon of half marathon day I noticed I was hardly sore at all. And the next day I was barely sore – not nearly as sore as I was after running the Victoria Half Marathon and the Rock n’ Roll Vancouver 10K within two weeks of each other last fall. In fact, I have never recovered so well from a running event as I did from the Pixie Dust Challenge. Consider my brain completely baffled… and thrilled!

Would I do it again?

Absolutely. The hardest part, in all seriousness, was getting up at 3:00 am for two mornings in a row. The running part was not too bad… and the medals… seriously worth it! Would I do Dopey?…. uh, probably not, but given the way this year is going I won’t rule anything out in the future!

Spread your wings

By slowing down and enjoying what was going on around me I actually noticed this sign – “Only two miles to go… Now spread your wings and let the fairy in you fly!”