Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I'm an Enigma

So…it’s been a while. There’s been a lot happening and not happening in my life at the moment. To be honest, I felt like blogging about it when it all started but then figured I’d try and let things sort themselves out before putting fingers to keyboard. Things still aren’t “settled” so to speak, but here goes nothing since I don’t have any sense of when they will be. Now, where exactly to begin?

Following the last post, which was mid-September, I had some pretty serious and yet completely baffling (at least to medical personnel) health problems.  I started experiencing chest pains on the Wednesday and let it go until Sunday morning when I eventually decided to go to the emergency room. Yes, I KNOW. I shouldn’t wait for things like that.  Believe me, I’ve been reprimanded by a number of health workers already. Anyway, the pain had mostly abated by Sunday morning but I had started to get a pressure in my chest (both the pain and pressure were only on the left side) so off we went.  I got in to see a doctor in less than an hour (woot!) who ordered an ECG and chest x-rays. All clear. He couldn’t find anything wrong with my heart and lungs, and figured it was pleurisy.  Anti-inflammatories and take it easy.
Like a good patient, I tried to follow up with my family doctor but he was unavailable so I went to see one of the other doctors in his office to ensure that I was doing everything I was supposed to.  Long story short, he told me it wasn’t pleurisy and that it could be due to, among other things, my breasts being too big. Yeah, I wasn’t very happy. He ordered blood work as an afterthought.  The following week, I was able to see my doctor who agreed and thought it wasn’t pleurisy but was unclear what it was. He ordered a second round of blood work and also called the internal medicine specialist I had seen a few years ago regarding my blood pressure.  The specialist disagreed with doctors #2 and #3 and thought it was pleurisy.  Sigh.

My doctor had advised me to go back to the hospital if the chest pains returned (I was just getting the heaviness/pressure at this point).  Sure enough, they came back the following week so off I went to the ER. Six and a half hours later…. I got to see a doctor. And that was with me being a priority patient with chest pains.  Ah, I finally see what all the ER wait-time complainers talk about.  To be fair though I couldn’t really complain; by the time I got to the hospital, the pains had ceased again. Plus there were people who I felt were far sicker than I was waiting longer than I did – including the gentleman beside me who was throwing up blood on and off all day.  I digress slightly again.  Another ECG – all clear (no surprise). The doctor (#5) didn’t think it was pleurisy (argh!) and figured it was just one of those unexplained pains that people get which they can’t test for specifically and it should go away on its own.

The pain comes and goes every once in a while now and I occasionally get the pressure in the left side of my chest.  My doctor has ordered a fourth round of blood work (just one test) that I have to do next week. It’s still indicating an inflammation somewhere in my body and the numbers are gradually getting better but it’s still there and he wants to keep checking on it.  The good news is that I was cleared to fly to Ontario. The bad news – I didn’t take part in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (half) that I had been (sort of) training for.  The ER doctor (#5) had said if I felt well enough to try it, she wasn’t going to tell me no. However, I thought it was better to skip it and instead cheer on the other members of our family who were racing.  
My mother, uncle Peter, and cousin Dan all finished the half marathon and received their shiny medals (I’m soooo jealous but very proud!).  And, in future news, we might be headed to (1) Jamaica, (2) Bermuda, or (3) Hawaii in 2016.  All offer great looking marathon weekends.  Mom was particularly taken with the Reggae Marathon in Jamaica although I’m partial to Bermuda (it would make a great birthday present!).  Hawaii would be nice but staying there would be wicked expensive.  And there are two, on different islands.  Oh well, here’s hoping I’ll have this weird chest problem sorted out soon and can get back to walking and maybe a little running.  I’m getting antsy just sitting on my behind and turning into a sloth.

Friday, September 12, 2014

STWM: Training Diary Week 12

Still struggling to pull myself out of the funk I've been in since the 10K a couple of weeks ago.  Slowly but surely... I was going to go outside for a walk on Sunday. Key word: WAS.  I had my running clothes on, belt packed with everything I needed, hat on, route planned. As I sat down to put on my running shoes, I realized I didn't want to go out. If I've learned anything over the past two years, its not to force myself to do something I'm not feeling like doing. So, I made a different plan. I would do a nice, slower walk on my treadmill and then another similar walk later in the day (also on the treadmill).  Seemed like a good plan and a nice way of splitting up an otherwise boring machine based workout.  Yeah... sure did. After a mere 10 minutes on the treadmill, I knew it wasn't going to happen.  However, I did log 4.5 miles which is more than I did the entire week previously!  Small victories.  To keep up my momentum, I walked to work on Monday, logged another 2.25 miles on the treadmill on Tuesday and lifted upper body weights on Wednesday. 
Tour of Alberta 2014 - Sharp turn at the bottom of Bellamy Hill
My weight is an issue. I'm feeling very sluggish these days and its not just the post-race blues.  Since starting my new job I've been even more sedentary than before which I didn't think was possible.  Unhealthy eating is out of control and soda continues to be my drug of choice. If I could afford it, I'd consider joining Weight Watchers again just for the accountability.  I definitely made smarter choices when I knew I'd be judged on how much I'd lost or gained each week.  Perhaps I need to focus on my health the same way I've been focusing on my finances lately.  Yeah, that's the ticket.

Speaking of the new job, its going really well. Busy busy busy! But I'm enjoying the challenge.  I'm not enjoying feeling slightly lost sometimes and not knowing what I'm doing but that will come with time. My small group is really great and I'm learning a lot.  Its still early days, I know and a lot can change in the course of two years but at this point, I'm hoping that the position becomes permanent.  Every week, I'm reminded by something small and seemingly insignificant of why I wanted a change in the first place.
As I've mentioned a little while ago, Emperor Nero had a visit with the new vet in order to have his nose examined.  The steroid shot didn't work and weeks later, it seemed the black gunk in and on his nose was getting worse.  After a number of calls between the vet and I, we decided to try Vaseline.  Yes, Vaseline.  His nose is also dry and the Vet figured .... why not?  Why not, indeed. Wonders!  It seems to have worked.  His nose is much clearer and he gets very little of the black crap along the ridge area. And, even more surprisingly, he doesn't hate it.  He doesn't enjoy it but then Nero doesn't enjoy much other than his morning cat treats and having his whiskers scratched.

Monday, September 01, 2014

STWM: Training Diary Week 11

There was no long walk this Sunday. I just wasn't feeling up to it.  Physically, things are fine. Mentally, not so much.  Ever since my race last weekend, I've been feeling blah.  Blue.  Meh.  I walked once on my treadmill on Thursday mainly because I needed to test out my new running shoes, not because I needed to train. Along came Sunday and I had to force myself to get on the treadmill again.  Pre-race I was excited and looking forward to the half marathon in October. Now? I've seriously considered switching to the 5K although I won't (and Mommikins wouldn't let me if she knew!).  Is this normal?  I don't know but I'm bummed about being bummed.  Bummer.

I bought a new pair of shoes a week or so ago.  They're going back.  Surprisingly, I love the colour. I know... what's wrong with me, right? See above!  Just wearing them around the house, they started to bother the arches of my feet.  I wore them on the treadmill yesterday (lasted a mere 1 mile!) and the Thursday (2 miles) and was uncomfortable with them both times.  I was reminded almost instantly why I switched from these last year.  Tight arches and calves, problems with my knees. Back they go! I'll be switching them for another pair of my beloved Mizuno Enigmas

That's it for now.  Trying to get back into the running/walking/racing mood.  Only 6 more Sundays and then... BOOM. Marathon weekend.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 Edmonton Marathon Weekend - 10KM Recap

I considered writing a nice long, detailed post about my 10K race today but I can't do it; at least not yet.  I was in bed Saturday night at 5PM, asleep by 530.  As a result I was up at 2AM on Sunday.  Six hours before I started.  Needless to say, I had plenty of time to gather everything together and be completely prepared.  Was I?  Nope, I forgot my toe caps and paid the price afterwards.
Ok, highlights:  I got the 2nd best hug ever from a volunteer around the 2K mark. I started dreaming of FatBurger around 3K.  At the 5K turnaround (cruelly situated right across from Vi's for Pies) I felt like crying.  There was a fabulous volunteer there who high-fived me and told me I could do it!  This race was difficult for a lot of reasons - I'm about 40lbs overweight; I decided to try running every kilometer marker when I haven't been running; and I was alone.  Mom saw me off at the start and caught up to me a few blocks down the road.  I had no one to look forward to at the finish line and no one to meet up with who may have finished before/after me.  This was a new experience and I didn't like it.  More than once I wanted to give up - who would know?  I would but pfffttt. Who cares. Somehow though I ended up at the finish line, running the last few blocks. Truthfully, all I could muster was a wounded shuffle - feet, back, and knees (both) were screaming at me to stop.  I heard Mark Connelly from CBC (our host for the day) call my name, raised my hands in the air and found just a little bit more.  I booted it to the finish and the tears started  to flow.  As I slowed down to get my medal, the wonderful volunteer who was handing them out saw me and gave me a huge hug.  I may or may not have left salty tears and a little snot on her shoulder.  As I made my way down the chute to the exit I kept crying and another volunteer put his arm around me and asked "What's wrong? You FINISHED!". I just smiled, nodded and kept crying.  Somehow I managed to  pull it together enough to snap this completely unflattering photo.
Other highlights:  I saw Batman, The Flash, someone doing the full marathon in a gorilla suit (yes full marathon = full gorilla suit), and at the expo where I was volunteering the day before, a mini-me version of Captain America, including helmet but no shield.  Love.  The results webpage will not load properly, keeps coming back with internal errors and timing out.  Somehow I managed (I think) to find my results using their app (which is also crapping out regularly).  Here we go...
So, it looks like I was the very last 40-49 year old woman running the 10K to finish.  Finally got through on the website: the results keep changing.  I am now 380/383 - I beat two 20somethings and a 30something.  And if I'm reading it correctly, former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan beat me by just over 10 minutes!

I'm very glad I did it although I have no idea how I'm going to manage the half in October.  My knees could be a big problem... 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

STWM: Training Diary Week 9

The best laid plans... I had every intention of walking 8.25 miles on Sunday. That's .25 miles further than my training scheduled called for but I was pumped. I was psyched. I was ready!  My bladder however was not.
As you might be able to tell from the picture above, it was taken before the overwhelming urge to wee hit me.  Let me start from the beginning...

Sunday was supposed to be the inaugural Earthgroove 10K Trail Race here in Edmonton. I had signed up for the 5K and planned to try and run part of it.  However, only eight of us signed up for it and it ended up being cancelled.  So, instead I was on my own.  No problemo.  As I mentioned above, I was excited to get out there and really put in some distance. 

Everything started out well although I felt rushed getting out of the house.  I had to be finished by 9:30 as I was meeting the family at Big Brother's house and I'd need to shower and rest before going over.  So, off I went, out the door and into the river valley just after seven.  Thanks to the attacks I suffered last week from the blood suckers, I opted to douse myself in bug spray this time out.  Sunscreen? Check.  Copious amounts of bug repellent? Double check (and double dose to be safe). 

By the time I hit the high level bridge, the urge to "go" had begun. Aw crap (pun intended)!  It wasn't too bad at this point so I figured maybe, just maybe, I could make it all the way to Hawrelak Park before needing to find a bathroom.  Nope.  Part way down Saskatchewan Drive, I realised that I was going to have to detour down into my old friend, Emily Murphy Park.  In my head, I quickly tried to map out a new route and figure out how far I could go.  Needless to say, disappointment quickly set in.  Relief also set in as I inched closer to the bathroom.  

I must have sweat off all of my bug spray.  Walking through the grass towards the bathroom, I encountered one adventurous mosquito that risked his tiny little life by trying to suck my blood.  He died valiantly.  However, when I came out and started on my way again, his relatives swarmed me en masse.  They were everywhere!  Sadly, thanks to the skeeter assault and the lack of a definitive route to get the mileage I wanted, I cut my morning short and did my standard 5.5 mile loop.

Some good news: on the advice of Pat the Runner, I decided to try a toe sleeve. It worked really well, at least at this shorter distance.  Here's hoping that the toe problems have been resolved or at least lessened.
Next Sunday, I'm doing the 10K race as part of the Edmonton Marathon weekend.  Stay tuned!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wheelie Time!

Confession time.  I've never owned a car.  Ever.  In all my 41 years.  

I'm going to change that come springtime.  I've wanted a car for a long time.  Heck, since before I could drive but I've never been able to afford it.  Plus Edmonton has a halfway decent transit system (although yes, I think Calgary's is currently better) so getting around has never been a problem.  I also have a super awesome Big Brother and a Super Duper SIL who have lent me their vehicles over the years or taken me where I needed to go when the bus wouldn't cut it.

My original plan that I hatched earlier this year was to pay off my student loans and my personal loan, and then save for a couple of years and pay cash for a car.  However, after dinner with friends last night, I got to thinking.  Why should I go car-less for the next four or five years while I save when I can finance a car and have it almost paid off in the same amount of time - while getting to drive! The difference in cost between paying cash and financing is minimal (I got an online quote this morning) so its not like I'll be paying 1.5X the cost of the car.
The car I'm considering is a 2014 Hyundai Accent GL 5 Door (Hatchback).  Automatic transmission.  Green apple in colour (would I get it in anything else?).  The payments are totally doable once my student loan is paid off in full (I'm anticipating March 2015) and I got a few quotes online for insurance.  However, I don't know the first thing about buying a car.  What do you do first?  Buy the car or get insurance?  Is there haggling involved or is the sticker price THE price?  Do you get the extra coverage through the dealership or skip it?  Argh.

Any tips from those of you who've purchased a car before?  Help!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Cider Wars

Today, I felt like a drink.  Something cool, alcoholic, and full of flavour.  Mmmm, cider it is.  The local liquor store though didn't have any Strongbow.  I would not be deterred so I reached for the Grower's.  I almost walked back to the counter to pay when something caught my eye.  It was this...
 Angry Orchard apple cider.
I'm not completely sold on it after one bottle but its not unpleasant.  Unlike Strongbow, its only 5% alcohol so it doesn't pack the same kind of punch and it took a while before the warm feeling began to spread throughout my body beginning in my tummy.  Its sweeter and has a stronger apple flavour.  I liken it to that first bite of a crisp, juicy, perfectly ripe Spartan/McIntosh apple.  Plus its got a wicked cool label.
It looks right at home on my balcony, doesn't it?   The sweetness takes some getting used to.  While I don't mind it, I'm not sure if I would buy this particular flavour of theirs again.  I'm more of a dry cider gal so I'd go with their Traditional Dry variety. I like that the company also offers seasonal brews - light tropical fruity floral for the summer, and their Sinful Apple which sounds right up my alley.  MUST FIND SOME.  

What's your favourite hard cider?

STWM: Training Diary Week 8

Another long walk can be checked off of my list.  On the training schedule was seven and a half miles and I ended up doing 7.25!  That's a full mile further than last week.  I'm back on track!  It was overcast and dreary when I started out early this morning, with a definite feel of fall in the air.  Even the trees were feeling it - every time I looked around, I saw a couple of yellow leaves here and there.

I headed off through the river valley to Hawrelak Park today.  The road around the lake there is 2.5K so it would be the perfect add on to my now standard loop. The park will be hosting yet another big world class event this summer.  
While the views are lovely and the road is removed from the hustle and bustle of the regular river valley traffic, the lack of hot temps and bright sunshine meant the skeeters were out and looking for a feast.  Lucky little buggers; they found me and my Type 0 blood which is apparently mosquito crack.  Total bite count for this morning:  9 (back of head - 2; back of arm - 1; shoulder blade - 1; back of legs - 5).
In a couple of weeks, crowds of people will fill the park to cheer on the athletes.  Today however, the only crowds (other than the swarms of mosquitoes) were huge flocks of Canada Geese.
I've heard the stories.  Geese, while majestic and beautiful, can be quite bitchy and protective. If there had been only one or two, I would have ventured a little closer and tried to snap a better shot.  Two different gangs of geese roaming the streets like a scene out of West Side Story?  No thank you.  I moved from the road to the path to the grass and then a few feet further away.
Two and a half hours later, I stumbled up the steps to my building.  The bottoms of my feet started to get a bit sore around 6 miles and then my right knee flared up for the last 1/2 hour but overall I felt great (and tired!).

The training diaries from now on are just going to focus on Sundays - I don't have much to talk about when I work out during the week anyway so why bother waiting???? 

STWM: Training Diary Week 7

SUNDAY:  Today, I had 7 miles scheduled but I'm a bit behind distance-wise thanks to one Sunday on the treadmill and then misjudging the distance I was supposed to go last week. However, I'm sticking to it and having some (VERY sweaty) fun.  Mom joined me for the first time today and we made a new friend.
Also saw these nut-like things and I have to admit, I don't know what they are. Does anyone have any idea? I feel a bit silly not knowing but .... there you go.
Unfortunately Mom couldn't join me for the whole walk; she had to get home and start getting ready for work. However, she walked just over 5 miles which is awesome!  She was so tired by the time she got home from work!  At the point where we went in opposite directions, Mom gave me a big High-Five and headed home.  Odd yes but that's how we roll.  I ended up walking 6.25 miles. 

Having a small problem with my index toes.  After my long walks, the tips of my index toes (where the calluses are) hurt when I take my shoes off and walk around barefoot.  It sounds like I might have Morton's Toe (aka Morton's Foot).  I'll be discussing with my Doctor the next time I go and see him.

WEDNESDAY:  Today I told the heat and humidity to get lost. Neither listened to me but I hopped on the treadmill regardless. I haven't felt much like working out in the evenings because its just felt gross by that time of day - hot, humid, no air moving. Ugh.  I had to do something. My training can't just consist of long walks on Sundays.  That's not going to cut it.  Plus I bought a new running shirt on the weekend and I really wanted to try it out.  Not only did I get on the treadmill and push start (a feat in itself!) but I ran for the first time in a while.  R1/W2s for 33 minutes.  I was definitely tired by the end of it and my head was dripping sweat (gross, yes - deal with it) but I felt fantastic!

We heard from my Aunt the other day; she's supposed to be doing the half marathon with us in October.  Unfortunately, due to a plethora of travel for work (she's a globetrotter!), she hasn't had much time for training.  Chances are she'll walk with us - if she's able to come.  From the sounds of it, she might have to be in Asia for part of October and might miss it!  Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!  Oh well.  We'll have to just see how things work out.  Fingers crossed though! 

Friday, August 08, 2014

The New Job

The new job began this week.  It was an unusual experience for me, beginning this particular new job.  I wasn't nervous or excited.  It probably was due to still being in the same area of government, the same building, and working indirectly with people I already knew.  It was a bit daunting though once I turned on my computer and began working that first morning. My predecessor started forwarding emails to me right away and I quickly had an inbox full of meetings to schedule, budgeting to do and random other items to get a start on.  Throw on some duties left over from my previous position (until they hire someone full time) and I was swamped.  However, I'm slowly getting a handle on things and I'm sure in a week or two, I'll be deep in the swing of things.

One good thing about being so incredibly busy - I don't have time to snack.  Oh sure, it also helps that the snack cupboard isn't located right next to my desk anymore now that I've switched floors but I just don't have time to think about reaching for something to stuff in my mouth.  And I don't (so far anyways) have much down time so I don't get those "I'm bored therefore I must eat" thoughts.  My waistline will hopefully appreciate this soon.
My new desk backs onto a window. Its wonderful!  I'm on the non-sunny side of the building which means it doesn't get scorchingly hot by midafternoon.  While that means I look out at Jasper Avenue and Churchill  Square rather than the beautiful green of Edmonton's river valley, I'm not complaining.  I could be stuffed in a dark, dank, sweat box with no natural light.  My small group of five all seem very nice and we're getting along well, despite having very different personalities.  Its still only day four but I think I'm going to enjoy this new challenge!