Friday, March 30, 2018

Happy birthday to me!

As of today, I'm officially in my late 50s. It's better than the alternative, I know, but I can't say I'm thrilled about it. Of course, it doesn't help that it's a dreary grey day, and my back is aching. (Long story short, I had a minor altercation with a bus this week from which I'm still recovering. On the upside, it's a four day weekend, my Facebook feed and inbox are flooded with birthday wishes, and I'm fortunate that I landed beside, and not in front of, the bus.)
It hasn't been a particularly productive day. I slept in this morning to recover from a busy work week, then headed to Mahone Bay with Husband for coffee and treats at The Barn. We enjoyed our stop there immensely. It's an awesome little place with a terrific vibe so we were in no hurry to head home when the time came - except that this little guy was waiting for us.  

While Husband took Jackie for a long walk in the drizzle, I noodled over the menu for our official birthday supper. Husband's birthday is just a few days before mine so we agreed we'd celebrate them together tomorrow night. He requested duck so I've settled on duck breast with a port and cherry sauce, rissotto with artichokes and oka, and a tossed salad. The rissotto will be a bit of an experiment - my attempt to recreate a dish we had at Picnic a few weeks ago. Fingers crossed it works out.

So - back to the subject of aging. It ain't for sissies, that's the sure. Lately, it feels as if it's one thing after another. Husband's has had three trips to the dentist to deal with broken teeth and failed fillings, along with visits to the audiologist and optometrist to be fitted for hearing aids and glasses. I've just ordered my first set of progressive lenses, am still recovering from plastic surgery on my cheek, and am creeping out of bed like an old lady on account of my aching back. If we weren't otherwise so fit and healthy, it would be downright depressing.

Of course, the really hard thing about aging is coming to grips with the reality that there are some dreams it's just too late to pursue. At some point, it doesn't  matter how much you want something or how hard you're prepared to work, it's simply out of reach. The answer, I suppose, is to dream new dreams, and/or get busy pursuing those that are still possible, but it's hard not to be discouraged by all the closed doors.

What say you, dear reader? Do you still dream new dreams?  When is it too late to pursue them, and how do you know?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Lots of reading and a little running

It's taking awhile to get back to training regularly but, now that my face is healing nicely, I'm determined keep at it. Last week, I only ran twice but both runs were a reasonable length (7k and 8.5k) and felt good throughout so I seem to be making some progress at least.

This week, I'd been hoping to run at least 3 times but Mother Nature had other ideas. We had another nor'easter mid-week that kept me from running on Thursday as planned. I may still manage three runs if I take puppy for a short run this afternoon before my longish 9k run tomorrow.

I didn't used to be such a wimp about running in bad weather but these days I struggle to head out in less-than-ideal conditions - and there seem to have been a lot of them lately. We haven't had as much snow as we usually do this winter but the winds have been fierce and bitter.  The massive tree limbs littering the yard at our country place are testament to how nasty it's been.

On a more positive note, now that the time has changed, evenings are longer so I should be able to make a habit of taking Jackie for short runs at Shubie Park after work. We've made it out a couple of times recently, and have used the time to practice things we're learning in trail training classes at Oceanmark K9 Resort. It's amazing to see how quickly Jackie picks stuff up when her people to a better job of communicating what they want. And, so far as we can tell, she loves the chance to show us what she can do.

Of course, the best thing about trail training is how tired Jackie is afterwards. There's not much cuter than a tired puppy and I get lots more snuggles after we've spent an hour or two on the trails together.

In addition to working, running and hanging out with the critters last week, I managed to do a fair bit of reading. On the weekend, I finished Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, which was by turns hilarious and moving, along with Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

I'm not sure what to make of Manson's book. Clearly, he's no intellectually heavyweight and, at just 34 years old, he's not old enough to be credited with much wisdom. On the other hand, he does a reasonably good job of repackaging insights and wisdom from other sources and the book's an easy and entertaining read.

In particular, I liked his critique of self-help approaches that insist people should try to be positive all the time. To his mind (and mine), that's just dumb. Bad stuff happens and it's completely normal and healthy to feel crappy about it. The important thing is to be thoughtful about how you respond and to do so in ways that are consistent with your values.

Speaking of values, I like that Manson talks about them. It's not something a lot of people do these days but he encourages readers to identify their values, and consider whether they will lead to "a good life" in the long run. By his definition, a good life isn't a life without struggles but rather a life with struggles of your own choosing - a notion that certainly resonates with me.

Okay, okay. Enough about the book. It really isn't that good - though it did offer some interesting questions to noodle over while I work out when and how I want to move on from my current day job.

My other big accomplishment over the past couple of weeks was capturing a few more decent photos of Nemmie. She such a beautiful kitty, it's a shame it's so hard to get good photos of her.

I plan to spend much of this weekend following what's happening at the Barkley Marathon. There are at least two Canadians running - one of whom is an accomplished distance runner, well known in the local trail running community.  Of course, the whole world is cheering for Gary Robbins after his heartbreaking finish at last year's Barkley - me included. But I'll be cheering just as loudly for Jodi Isenor, who completed the 3 loop "Fun Run" at Barkley in 2014 in 36:36 - an incredible accomplishment for a first timer. Here's his account of that run.

Speaking of which, it's time to sign off and get on with my day. Hope the weather's cooperating with whatever you have planned this weekend. Are you following Barkley too? What's your take on adventure races and the people who attempt them?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Spring is here...we hope

The weather's been weird lately - far too warm  for February and early March. Mind you, I'm not complaining. It's tough enough to get back to regular training without the frigid temperatures we usually have at this time of year.

A couple of weeks ago, we had snow but it was so warm it didn't hang around long - though it sure was pretty while it lasted. It was so wet it clung to everything, creating a gorgeous winter wonderland. Husband and I took Jackie to Peace Park early enough to savour the effect before it melted off the trees.

It's a good thing Jackie's got brown ears and a pink tongue, or we'd have lost her in all that white stuff.

It was easier to keep track of her when we headed out for a short run up river the following weekend when the snow was mostly gone.

I finally signed up for the Bluenose 15k a few weeks ago, so it's time to get busy training. I'm hoping Jackie will accompany me on shorter runs and she's done pretty well the few times I've taken her - trotting along steadily, with only occasional stops for pees, water, and stick-chewing. Last week, we started a trail training class, which should help. She loved running and playing with the other dogs but we were all pretty tired by the time we got home. It turns out paying attention is almost as tiring for Husband and me as it is for her.

It will be interesting to see how my Bluenose training goes now that I've dropped a few pounds and had a long break. I've lost a lot of fitness and flexibility in recent months so it'll take a fair bit of patience I expect.  Most years, I maintain a solid enough base throughout the year that it's relatively easy to transition to longer distances when spring arrives but, after running so little these past few months, my base has eroded to the point that even 5k feels like a workout.

I'd be lying if I said I was okay with that, but I refuse to let myself be discouraged. After all, when I started running regularly at 40, I was 20 pounds overweight, desperately out of shape, with very little running experience, and I still managed to do things I never thought I would - like complete 9 marathons, a 50k ultra, and a slew other shorter races.  I may be older now (56 in a few weeks) but I've succeeded in keeping my weight down and still enjoy running enough to want to do it regularly, so there's every reason to believe I can find my way back to a comfy training groove soon. Here's hoping anyway.

Speaking of weight, Husband and I are continuing to track what we eat and avoid foods that don't agree with us and it seems to be paying off. We're no longer losing weight - which is fine since we're  happy where we are - but we're eating heaps more veggies, feeling better and no longer gaining, which is terrific. We're also expanding our repertoire in the kitchen. A couple of weeks ago, I cooked five spice duck breast with balsamic jus for the first time and it was pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself.

In other news, I've been busy making my way through a few more books on photography. I find them inspiring - but only theoretically, since I don't have a lot of time or energy for taking photos at the moment. I'm hoping that will change when the weather warms up and there's more daylight. In the meantime, I try to spend time each day "seeing photographically" and capturing images like these with my iPhone.

Finally, just because I so seldom mention her, here are two photos of Her Highness. She really is a beautiful girl - especially for an old lady of 15.

I hope spring has arrived where you are! Are you training for a spring race? How's it going so far? What tricks to you have for getting back to regular training after an extended break? When and how do you feel inspired to take photographs?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Currently...the February 2018 edition

Time and place...
A lazy Saturday afternoon in the country.

A Mexican-inspired rice and bean salad to take to dinner at Janet and Ron's this evening.

4:00 pm, when we will head out to pick up Jackie, who's spending her very first day at puppy daycare today. And, yes, I am a nervous puppy-mama - desperately hoping she enjoys the adventure and makes some new puppy friends.

Working on...
This post, at the moment, but I've been noodling a lot about work lately - how to get the pieces to fall into place on a major new project, while keeping all my other balls in the air. I'm also knitting a new wool vest for Husband and slowly getting back to running after nearly two months off. 

Lots of books intended to inspire creativity - including several books on writing, and street and travel photography. I'm hoping they'll motivate me to spend more time with my camera and notebook in the coming months. It would be nice to return from our next trip with some reasonably good images and stories to share. 

Listening to...
Husband vacuuming the house. Bless his heart. I guess that means I'll have to dust later.

A vacation. It's been far too long since I had a proper break. Fortunately, we've just booked two weeks in Ireland, with a quick stopover in St. John's en route, so I've got one to look forward to in a few months.

Donald Trump and his mini-mes.

These two. How could I not? Also Snapseed, a fun photo app I've just started using - mostly to tweak photos I post on my Instagram account.  

Did I mention we're going back to Ireland later this year? Also, dinner tonight. Its always lovely spending time with good friends.

Selected Olympic events. I loved watching the curling mixed doubles and team figure skating - and not just because Canada won golds. Both teams exhibited so much determination and class, they made me proud to be Canadian. The same goes for Patrick Chan. He may not have earned a medal in the singles event yesterday but he did us proud all the same!

The Plan. Both Husband and I have lost weight and are feeling better since we began following it a couple of months ago. My new favourite breakfast is this chia seed and blueberry compote. It may look a bit odd but it's high in protein, low in calories, and downright delicious!

Mirrors. My incision is looking much better three and a half weeks post-surgery but it's hard not to feel anxious about how the scar will "mature". I've been trying to think of it as "interesting" but am still hoping my right and left cheek will more or less match again one day.

What about you, dear reader. What are you up to...currently?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Battered and bruised, but (mostly) undefeated

I won't lie. It's been a rough week. The minor surgery I had on Tuesday turned out to be a bigger deal than I thought it would be. The surgeon had to make a larger incision than expected and my face swelled up like a balloon in response to the local anesthetic so I looked decidedly lopsided for a few days. As the week wore on, the swelling subsided but bruises developed around my eye and mouth that added a certain toughness to my demeanour.

Day 2, still swollen but not too bruised yet
I can't share a picture of the scar because it's still covered by surgical tape and, to tell the truth, I'd prefer to keep it that way for another few days since I'm dreading whatever's under there - though I'm hoping it won't be as bad as I imagine. 

There are a couple of things worth observing about the experience. The first is how challenging it was to deal with the surgeons. Upon my arrival at the "Minor Procedures" clinic, I was informed by one of the residents (blithely, I thought) that she would be performing the procedure while the supervising surgeon looked on. Don't get me wrong, the resident seemed completely competent and, if the surgery had been on almost any other part of my body, I'd have gone along with the plan quite happily but, since we were talking about someone cutting into the middle of my face, I asked my original surgeon if he could please do it instead. He agreed, but didn't seem entirely happy about it, which left me wondering if I might pay a price for my "disagreeableness". 

I hasten to add that everyone else in the room was kind and supportive throughout. One of the students in attendance even offered to hold my hand when it became clear how nervous I was, and the nurse on duty did all she could to ensure I was steady on my feet before I made my way outside to meet Husband. So, all in all, the experience could have been far worse. And to be fair, the surgery was a minor, run-of-the-mill sort of thing from the surgeons' point-of-view - certainly nothing to get worked up about. It was only my vanity that made it at all significant.

The other thing that struck me was how little empathy my younger female colleagues demonstrated when I returned to the office on Wednesday. Two of them reacted to my battered face by telling stories about friends who'd had similar procedures that went badly at first but turned out okay in the end (four surgeries and several years later!). Not what I wanted to hear! The third observed that she supposed I wouldn't be very worried about the scar given that I wasn't in my 20s. Seriously?  Fortunately, older colleagues and friends, not to mention my darling Husband, were far more sensitive and encouraging. 

In any case, the fact it had to be done and perhaps the larger incision means the cancer won't be back anytime soon, which would be a good thing. I'd prefer not to have more surgery if I can avoid it. 

In other news, though I haven't run all week (to avoid further bruising), I have been diligent about doing yoga. An appointment with my massage therapist Monday evening convinced me I need to make stretching a priority if I'm ever going to feel comfortable in my skin again. 

And, on the assumption that I'll soon be running regularly again, I've decided to register for the Bluenose 15k in May. It's the only race I haven't completed at Bluenose (because it's new this year) and, given how little I've trained in recent months, 15k will be challenge enough.  If it goes okay, I'll think about registering for a half marathon or two later in the season.

By the way, here's a photo of Jackie yesterday, sleeping by the fire after a big beach walk with her best pal, Jessie. 

The walk happened at Conrad's Beach, just a few kilometres up the road from our city place. I'm not sure why we'd never been there before because the beach is truly spectacular - the perfect spot for a long walk and romp with the puppies. The icing on the cake is that Jamieson's Irish pub is conveniently located on the route home. In fact, we stopped there for a yummy lunch after our walk. Jamieson's is always a treat - especially in the company of old, dear friends.

Before wrapping up, I want to recommend an article I read on Becoming Minimalist this weekend. It outlines 15 great reasons to blog and reminded me of how and why I starting blogging in the first place. Here's hoping it also inspires me to write more often in the weeks and months ahead. 

Until next time, happy running and writing friends! If you're a blogger, be sure to share a link to your blog so I can check it out!