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Saturday, November 6, 2010

W.A.R.R 2010

September 25, 2010 W.A.R.R (World Airline Road Race) was held at the Docklands in London, England. P-Friddy and myself decided that it would be a wonderful way to represent our airlines, have a goal for a run, and a vacation rolled into one neat package. Unfortunately, Pammie was unable to attend, when she advised me I was disappointed and then the waffling started. Should I go on my own, should I stay and pick up extra flying to save for Christmas, etc. Oh what to do. On a Sunday afternoon while eating lunch with my folks I mentioned that I might head to England. I did not realize that my mum would talk to her brother the next day and in conversation mention that I was heading to London. Well, Auntie Dorothy (A.D) and Uncle Peter (U.P) got all excited and started planning places they could take me while I was visiting. Needless to say, I started getting excited about going back to England after all it had been 24 years since I was there last. Let the planning begin.

I picked up travel guides, spoke with my relatives in England, purchased a map of London, and scoped out the info on the internet :).  I was giddy to say the least.  The next day I woke up 20 minutes before my alarm went off, to get ready for work, checked the flights and purchased my ticket. The flight was in one week :). 

On Sunday the 19th Pam drove me to the airport and my adventure began. It was the first time I was flying KLM, I expected good service and wasn't disappointed. When I landed in Heathrow on Monday afternoon, U.P and A.D were there to pick me up, we drove to their home north of London. I was exhausted, but determined to stay up until at least 9 pm. I didn’t sleep on the airplane, and held out having a nap when I arrived. We went to the local pub, a glass of wine and then dinner followed by a 10 hour sleep that night. It worked out wonderfully, when I woke up I felt refreshed and never experienced Jet Lag.

St. Georges Chapel.. Windsor Castle
On Tuesday we headed to Windsor Castle. Incredible.  Wednesday was Waddeston with A.D, then Indian night at the local pub. Sweet. When dinner was nearly finished I pretended to head to the washroom, instead I went to the bar and paid the bill. U.P and A.D were wonderful and I wanted to do a little something in return. When we got up to leave U.P decided to and pay, so I suggested that we ‘dine and dash.’ Like I would ever do that, didn’t do that as a teen and certainly wouldn't do it now, but I wanted to give them a bit of a hard time :). Before he asked the manager for the bill I mentioned that I paid, he didn’t believe me!!! The manager said it had been taken care of, when U.P then decided to tell the manager that I suggested we dine and dash, the manager said that North Americans would never do that! It was pretty funny.

Waddeston Manor
Thursday was Oxford. U.P and I hopped on a tour bus, but the operator was a mumbler and we couldn’t understand a single word, we jumped off and wandered around. After lunch we found a bus stop for the tour, I showed our tickets, and we went to the top deck. Part way through we realized that we had already done the entire tour. Funny.

On the Friday, I bought a ticket at Chiltern railway and headed to London. I took a double decker tour, after 1 1/2 (only half of the tour), I got off at Tower of London. Took the DLR at Tower Gateway to the Docklands. Checked into my hotel room, the Novel Excel London, and picked up my run package for the next day. Had a shower, changed, and spoke to the ladies about Dream Flight.  This was the charity that every runner was raising money to support, as chosen by British Airways.  Then, I hopped the DLR, took the subway, and walked the rest of the way to meet coworkers at Leadenhall Market for dinner. Another amazing day.

Is this My Recorder? Oxford.
The run was Saturday morning. After a good night sleep I woke up went downstairs for breakfast, and got ready for the race. I picked up my Ironman to ensure that it was set for 10 & 1s. It was then I noted the time was 2:30am. OMG. There was no way I was running with a time that was showing a time that I should be sleeping. I advanced it 7 hours, and waited until it was show time.

I was nervous. When I was in Calgary Pammie’s man (boyfriddy) asked if I was going to run the 10km sub-60. I didn’t know that meant in under 60 minutes, that is until I told him I had no idea what he was talking about, then he explained. I hadn’t given it much thought other than run the race and then hang out some more with my relatives. That morning though I knew it was time to run it under 60 minutes.
U.P and Me before the race.

U.P and A.D met me at the race start, cheered me on, and took a number of pictures.  As I glanced at my watch with just over 1km remaining, I realized I could make it in under an hour. So I picked up my pace and ran the last stretch as fast as I could. As I approached the finish line I noted the time, and as I went through I knew I did it! It was incredible. I usually run a 10km in about 1h 4m. This time I was done in 59:21! A Personal Best.

Thankfully the wonderful people at the Novatel let me have a later check out time so I could shower after the race. U.P had parked the car near the start so he and A.D drove the car to the hotel, while I walked the 2km. Figured it was good cooldown, and would stretch out my legs. While I walked I texted Pammie to tell her about the sub-60, and thank boyFriddy for the suggestion. I then texted my sister to let her know. I probably should have made sure it was a reasonable hour back home, but I was too pleased to think of those details.

Sub 60 :)
After the best shower ever, we toured around London. I think I walked about 8km, and dragged poor U.P with me the whole way. We left Auntie Dorothy on a park bench while we wandered to Buckingham Palace and retrieved her on the way back to Trafalgar.

A bit of home in Trafalgar Square :)
I am so happy that I did decide to head out on an adventure by myself, meet new friends, spend time with loved ones, and take time to see a country that I have loved since I was a little girl. The memories of summers in England (my mum is the only one to Immigrate to Canada), and a realization that it is really only a hop skip and a jump away from Canada. No reason that I shouldn’t go at least once a year. The souveniers that I brought home were all related to being a child. I brought home Club bars, disgusting tasting crisps, humbugs and tea. They were wildly successful. Nothing like happy reminders of childhood to bring a smile to everyones face. Well except my dad, he is Italian :)


Monday, September 6, 2010

When Did That Happen? My Narcissistic Treadmill Trance.

As I rolled over this morning and peered at the time on the clock radio I was already thinking about having to go for a run. It was a must because I set myself a goal of 60km for the week and I was approximately 20km shy of the target. It had been a long day of flying and we arrived into Ottawa late at night, or more accurately early in the morning so my desire to roll out of bed, change, and run was missing. I laid in bed for 5 minutes before deciding that what I needed was a triple shot Americano and an oatmeal. Decision made I hopped into the shower and got ready to face the day. With my oatmeal in my belly and the Americano in my hand I headed past the Parliament buildings towards the market. I purchased farm fresh raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries….oh so delicious.

On my way back to the Radisson I noted that Chapters was open and decided to wander into the store. If you sense a bit of procrastination in this story you would be correct in your astute observation. The problem is that I love books and I could spend hours in a bookstore. Thankfully I only spent one hour and no money, a rare feat for me.

 After I made it to my room I was resolved to go for a run and feeling revived and ready to attempt my first 20km in over a month. I changed and headed for parking garage level one. No, I had no intention of running around a parkade but for some strange reason that is where the fitness room is in the hotel. No one was using the facilities so as I had my choice of the two treadmills. One faced the wall with a full length mirror the other faced the opposite wall with a full length mirror. The second one had an air conditioning unit, which I know does not work, on the upper part of the mirror but it has a functioning fan beside the treadmill. That was the deciding factor. I stepped on the treadmill, picked my playlist on my iPhone, turned on my Bose quiet comfort 15, started the treadmill, my nikeband and watch. It was time for action. I was a little daunted about the prospect of running a 20km, never mind running it on a treadmill.

 As I began to run I remembered what Christoper Bergland said about a trance like state when he runs. Mouth slightly open, head moving side to side, and tongue sticking out slightly can induce a trance like state. I gave it a go. I found myself thinking, “is my throat going to get dry with my mouth open? Is my tongue out enough? Is is the natural motion from jogging that moves your head or do you have to make it move more?” Needless to say all of that inner chatter wasn’t going to make my trance state appear very fast if at all. So I turned up the volume a little and tried to think of other tips he has in his book The Athlete’s Way. Ah, bingo there was a mention of fixating on a light on the treadmill to help the zoning out process, perfect. I looked at a piece of the air conditioning unit, took off my glasses, all the while running, to induce my trance.

As I ran and fixated I looked in the mirror and thought ‘When did that happen?’ The top of my head, from the nose up, was chopped off by the a.c unit, so when I looked in the mirror I saw from the nose down. I looked at the person in the mirror, and all though I knew it was me my brain seemed to be removed from the process. The body was moving, and the mind was observing. Is that me? I looked at the tanned toned arms, the sweat glistening on my skin, the slimmer waist and hips, and the lean leg muscles. I was dissecting my body. Yet it didn’t feel like that was me because my body was moving without any participation from my brain. At least conscious participation. I looked at my tapped knee, my Nike Air Pegasus 27 Trail runners, running skirt, my iPhone attached to my arm, and my running tank so it was definitely me moving. With that verified I went back to wondering when did that happen. I know friends and family commented on me loosing weight and looking good. But it happened so subtly that I never quite noticed. There were changes, my pants didn’t fit me anymore so I had to go purchase three new pants and a pair of shorts for summer. The new shorts became to big, and the jeans that I purchased in Montreal three months ago seemed to be getting a little to big.

 That was confirmed last week when I put on my newly washed and hung to dry jeans, no dryer for I did not want them to shrink. When I pulled the jeans over my hips I went to do up the zipper and button….ah, weird the zipper was already zipped. I thought I was loosing my marbles, there is no way that they went over my hips zipped up! So I did an empirical test, yep I pulled my pants down over my hips with the zipper still zipped. ACK! Good thing I am not 8 years old because I could be in trouble. My nephews, both 8 years old, have been going through a spell of pulling down each other’s pants in public. Sneak up behind the other boy and surprise. Needless to say if I were 8yrs old I would start wearing a belt.

 I knew my body was changing, but the only mirror I own is the one attached to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. No real opportunity to see myself head to toe in a mirror to see how my clothes were fitting. As I focused on the body in the mirror and remembering about any changes that happened and figuring out when they may have happened the treadmill began to slow down. Oh what a pain in my butt, dumb treadmill. I looked down at the control panel and realized an hour had passed by and it was starting the 5 minute cool down period. Holy Moly, how did that happen? So I sped up the treadmill because I didn’t want to cool down. ACK, dumb treadmill has stopped. Oops, 5 minutes is up, make that one hour and 5 minutes with 6.27miles. It dawned on me that there might be something to this trance thing, I fiddled with the controls to get the treadmill going before I started thinking about running. Away I went. I peered into the mirror and started my narcissistic treadmill trance (NTT). If obsessing about the body in the mirror got me through the first 10km without realizing it, I was going to keep on focusing on me.

 Over the next 5 km I thought about writing this blog, revising it, and all the while looking at the jogger in the mirror. Before I knew it, the 5km disappeared effortlessly. Sweet. 15km down only 5km to go :) Then I goofed, I decided to slow down the treadmill. I had been running for 15km so I figured I should drink some water and walk for a minute. After a minute and a half I sped up the treadmill. OOPS, I took too long the trance was broken, my legs and back protested as I began to run. Although I didn’t get my NT T state back it wasn’t until the last km that I was feeling ready to get off the treadmill, but with the knowledge that I only had 1 km left I kept going. There was no way I was going to stop short of my goal, especially by one measly kilometer.

 I smiled as I stepped off the treadmill because I tested the trance state idea and was victorious. The key for me was not fixating on a red light, but on thinking about something other than the running process. This time it was all about me, next time I will focus on another topic. One thing is definite, I now have a new tool in my running tool box!



I have come to the realization that motivation is a daily endeavor. After the Canadian Death Race I took the month of August to relax and heal my body, mind, and spirit. As the end of August approaches I find myself trying to find out what to do, where to find the motivation to do what I have set out to do, and actually going out and doing it. September 01, 2010 is the begining of the end of my training vacation. I find myself wondering “how?” How to start. How to continue. How to keep on going. I also wonder ‘why?’ Why I am doing this? What do I want to accomplish? To assist me I started reading “The Athlete’s Way,” by Christopher Bergland. I read it last year, well at least the first 3/4s of the book. Just as I did then I find it very interesting, it is an easy read, informative, and full of wonderful ideas and quotes. So as September has now begun, I am embracing his suggestions of writing a log for the next 56 days tracking distance, exertion, insights, how I felt before/during/and after the exercise. The thing I really appreciate is that he is an elite endurance athlete and yet his definition of an athlete encompasses so many ‘regular’people. His definition, “Anyone who exercises regularly with intent.” He further states that ‘”The Athlete’s Way’ is the process by which you go about doing what you do.” I am also going to test out his idea of going into a trance state when you run. He acheives his by opening his mouth, having his tongue stick out a bit and with the motion of his head moving back and forth he is able to enter a trance and the running becomes effortless. Hmmm, effortless I like the sound of that!! If you have not read the book, I highly recommend it as reading material. His topics encompass who he is, what he has accomplished, the science of sport, positive psychology, a training program, nutrition, stretching, etc. Maybe he is such an inspiration because he seems like an every day individual that overcame substance abuse to win the Triple IronMan three times, and yet considers everyone who “exercises with intent” as an athlete. That makes me feel like I can be part of an amazing community and able to accomplish anything that I choose to accomplish. Which is truly amazing

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Time to get serious! And time to avoid the Grizzlies!!!!

It has been wonderful taking time to heal from such a grueling training schedule.  Essentially, the entire month of August has been a training holiday.  Just knowing that a simple 30km/week is okay while recovering was an amazing feeling. The tough thing was having my bones and muscles protest throughout the night, and as I stepped onto my feet in the morning.  I learnt very quickly that stretching out my legs, with damaged knees, is something that has to be done slowly.  It only took me one night where my right leg was straightened and the instantaneous pain in my knee made sure that it would be done very gingerly every night thereafter.  It didn’t matter that I was barely awake.  
Even though it has been a time of healing I still had to get on the treadmill or hit the road , and some days it was tough.  The left knee hurt for a couple of weeks after the race, usually around 7-9km into a run.  My solution would be to slow down my pace so I was not pounding on my feet as hard.  It seemed to work, and by the end of the second week no left knee pain.
The right knee is a different matter.  It still hurts.  After all it took the brunt of the remaining race (38km).  Running throughout August it didn’t feel any worse and certainly it didn’t feel any better.  Being smart I realized that I would need to seek professional help (not of the psychological least not yet).  Plus, Pammie and I made a deal when we were descending Mt. Flood.  It was agreed upon that if I went to a physiotherapist and got my knee checked out she would get her knee checked out.  Which incidentally has been hurting her off and on for a few months.  
Brrr, it's cold in Kananaskis! 
So I made an appointment at Active Physiotherapy in Bridgeland.  I am incredibly happy that I went, and highly recommend it to anyone in Calgary looking for a physiotherapist.  Laura was fantastic.  No surprise I do have issues with my right knee.  She completed a thorough examination, asked many questions, explained what she was doing and why, and then administered some treatment.  The difference in the right knee during the assessment and after the treatment was huge.  Of course I have to go back for more treatments, and I have exercises to do daily.  Thankfully I am still allowed to run.  
I set myself up an appointment for a sports massage at Leela Eco Spa & Studio, which I went to this morning.  The idea was to go the day after my first long trail run, thinking it would be very beneficial.  It was very beneficial but I never did complete my long trail run.
Super Pam denanananana Super Pam!

The plan was to run Turbine Canyon in Kananaskis.  Great, a 30km trail run which meant I could do a couple of easy 5km runs throughout the week.  We arrived at the Upper Kananaskis Lake parking area to find a warning of a Mamma grizzly with her two cubs  are around the area of that trail.  No worries, Grizzlies are scary enough, Sow Grizzlies are way scarier so we changed our trail run.  A nice run around Upper Kananaskis Lake would be fantastic.  Not the distance planned, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.  On the trail there was a big pile of Berry Barf.....ewww.  Heads up, it was fresh.  We kept going, stopping and taking pictures along the way.  Chatting while we ran and the bear bells tinkling.  As we approached the other parking lot, approximately a third of the way around the lake, Pam mentioned that she was struggling.  As much as I didn’t want to be struggling, I was, and I admitted it.  VERY SMART, as it made her start to walk and we talked as we went from the picnic area to the other end of the parking lot.  I would say that Pammie is very intuitive, at that moment she asked “What do we do if we see a bear?”  As soon as those words were uttered we both stopped dead in our tracks.  A male adolescent grizzly walked out from the bushes 25 feet in front of us.  He looked at us, and Pam started to turn around to walk away.  I said, something to the effect of “don’t turn around, back away slowly, not so fast, nice and slow.”  He looked at the bush in front of him and then looked at us.  Unfortunately the wind was howling towards us, so our human scent was being taken away from us and not towards the Grizzly.  Most bears will avoid the trouble of humans, unless startled, we surprised him just a tiny bit.  Thank Sweet Baby Jesus.  He looked back at us, as we kept creeping slowly backwards.  Essentially letting him know that we were not a threat and didn’t want a confrontation.  Since we were not a threat he left us alone.  When we hit the pavement of the parking lot, after getting a picture, we headed to the pay phone and called in a report.  

We let the people in the parking lot know the bear was just on the other side of the lot down the trail, and very close.  They all hightailed it out of there, very smart.  
After the call was made we decided to return the direction we came from, we certainly were not going to head back towards the Grizzly. We walked and talked,  and definitely did NOT run.  Let me tell you it was a long 4.5 km back to the other parking lot.  The heightened sense of awareness was incredible, something I have never experienced before.  The adrenaline crash after we were safely back in my car was something I was familiar with.  
He is actually Big! Just can't tell with this shot :P
It was an incredible experience, one that I don’t really want to experience again.  But when you trail run in Alberta the chances are high that there are Bears and Cougars in the area.  Take note of the signs, avoid areas they have been spotted, and always carry protection.  Well the protection works for a bear, kiss your life goodbye if you are being stalked by a Cougar :P

That ended our day of trail running, so we headed home via the Smith-Dorrien trail and Canmore.  Where we spotted a baby moose.  So cute!   Needless to say my respect for wildlife is enormous, and seeing a Grizzly that close I have even more respect...if that is possible.  I am sad to say that as summer disappears so does my trail running in the mountains.  I will try to get as many mountain runs in September as possible, since my training schedule is finished summer holidays.
Baby Moose on the Smith Dorrien Trail

Monday, August 2, 2010

Death Race, part deux

Claudia's description has nailed the essence of the race for me.

It *was* all about the energy. The random volleys of "Go Death Racers" echoing through the forests inspired my own hearty replies. The comradery that flowed between other like-minded crazy runners was phenomenal; the shared adventure was like a potent drug that made us all best buddies for a moment in time. Crazy signs cropped up at unexpected locations, bringing smiles & chuckles when we needed them the most. It was phenomenal and like all good drugs, I crave more.

Claudia was amazing. 8km into the race, she gets injured and then, in a nod to her British ancestors, stiff upper lips it not only to the end of the first leg, but then gamely continues on to finish the second leg as well. 38 kilometres on an injured knee - my friend is the Queen of Perseverance, let me tell you. I am totally impressed with how she soldiered on, constantly saying "Next stop I'm done" when really, she wasn't entirely set on opting out. She has the most formidable spirit I have ever encountered. And inventive - the backwards manoeuvre was as hilarious as it was clever. Most notable though, she never let her disappointment claim her - girl was as chipper as a kid in a candy store!

There was no way I was going to leave you, Claudia, even with your best intentions. We started this as a team and we did it as a team, to whatever end it would lead us. And it was a great end, my friend. We conquered - our very first running race... and we did 46km. Injured. It was glorious.

And more importantly, it gave us a training strategy for next year. All 125 km next year - injury free!!! Yeah, I'm looking at you too Sabrina :)


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Canadian Death Race

The Canadian Death Race was this past weekend in Grande Cache, Alberta.  What can I say, “AMAZING”.  It was an experience that I will never forget, and I am definitely signing up for next year.  
The citizens of Grande Cache were incredible hosts, friendly, and they were in some of the most unexpected places sitting on chairs along route cheering everyone on.  Cars would honk and people would shout out loud:  “Go Death Racers!”  I think my favourite cheer was at the start when a gentleman shouted, “GO DEATH RACERS, You crazy bastards.”  I am not capable of explaining what the energy was like throughout the event, because the words simply fail.  
I loved the experience, but the hardest thing was fighting the disappointment.  Around 8km into the race I took a digger and torqued my left knee causing an old injury to flare up.  Just after 10km I was at the EMS station getting taped up, a couple of motrin, and analgesic stick to try to get rid of the pain.  I pushed along slowly, but surely.  Thanks to Pam, who ran along side me, and when I had to stop because my knee couldn’t take the pounding she walked with me.  At the 19km, end of leg 1, we swapped out our camelbacks and I spoke to Ben our support crew.  He advised that there was a first aid station part way into leg two where I could could opt out of the run, if I couldn’t continue.  However, my pain tolerance is fairly high and at every opportunity to opt out, I opted to continue.  After summiting the mountain, we had to go down, and down, and down, and well you guessed it.... DOWN some more!  Since I couldn’t go forward, I had to descend the mountain backwards or sideways.  The sideways was actually fun, my left leg was straight as a board and my right leg would support the slide.  That was only during slugfest, the remainder of the downhill was backwards. I told Pammie to go ahead, she was going to aim for leg 3 and I didn’t want to mess up her time.  She stuck with me and I felt supported and blessed.  
Blessed to have such an amazing individual as my best friend, she just kept saying she wanted to do this with me and would stick with me until I couldn’t go further.  It was a beautiful day, and because of her positive attitude I was able to brush off my disappointment.  At the point that the athletic tape wasn’t supporting my knee sufficiently, and there was the odd tear in my eye, Pammie was there offering me her tensor bandage, which helped me limp along.  I also believe that her attitude help me persevere.  I knew that if I made it to the 46km mark I would have to quit the race and save myself from any potential of permanent damage.  That way we could start training for next year.  
It turned out that Pammie wiped out around the 40km mark and torqued her knee, so it became the gimpfest.  The pain was so sharp her lip quivered and there were tears from pain in her eyes.  When I asked how she was doing, her reply, “I just need a moment.”  Meanwhile, she fought the pain, and then persevered.  Totally inspiring.  She even refused to take back her tensor, granted it was dirty and disgusting, but since she is so generous in spirit she decided that I needed it more.  We finished Leg two, and hobbled to our ride.  

The pics:
1.  Me, Pammie, and Allie 
2.  Me going backwards
3.  Pammie with uber dirty legs
4.  My uber dirty legs

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stampede Challenge 2010

Okay folks here is the serious part of training.  The day it took place was Sunday July 04, 2010 At 9:00am.  The location Mum and Dad’s yard, Stampede Breakfast.
The course was a 75 foot long inflatable obstacle course, rated for Adult weight.  After so many Stampede Breakfasts Clem became wise and stopped bringing the inflatables just for kids.  He was tired of seeing all of us adults on the children’s bouncy castles. Really, what adult isn’t going to act like a kid when given the opportunity?
I know I will!
We acted as all good grown ups should and let the kids take the course first, followed by breakfast and digesting.  Once that was finished we decided “GAME ON”  
The first up for the Challenge was Pam vs. Shanna.  Oh, what a sad sad moment, when Pam got her ass handed to her :0.  I don’t think her laughing throughout the course assisted her in any way, but never the less it was a bit sad.  So, it was then up to me to hand Pam another whopping.  Unfortunately for me, Pammie left me in the dust and my pathetic show on the course was noted by many.  Including my sister, Jackie, who yelled out, “you call yourself an athlete?”
Apparently not.
The pictures that follow are from the days festivities.
  1.   The Course
  2.   You can see Pam trying to make her way between the horizontal rows
  3.   Me finally making it down the 16 foot high slide
  4.   My nephew Connor and I in a competition.

Ride to Conquer Cancer June 26-27, 2010

On Sunday June 27 many  riders, including myself crossed the finished line after an incredible journey.  Over two days we rode 220km around the hilly terrain of the Foothills of Southern Alberta.  

Saturday was the first day of the ride and the route was 115km in distance.  It began with hills and ended with a couple of spectacularly long hills.  The crazy thing with riding into rising terrain is that just because you go up doesn’t mean you are going to get to go down.  
The toughest thing about day one was that the in the last 30 km’s of the ride there was a 13km hill, that just didn’t stop, followed by a bit of a respite (scheduled break at the 1 km flatland), and then a 5km hill, before the most amazing downhill towards the camp.  With 0.7km left in that first 13km hill I was starting to loose steam, and completely lost all momentum when I got stuck behind a couple of riders that went to a standstill. The thing is that it wasn’t their fault that I stopped.  I could not manage to get my legs to produce enough power to overtake, or my arms to be fast enough to break out from behind and turn the handlebars to the right, or get my hands to shift down a gear, before the stop happened.  At that moment I hopped off my bike and walked the last 0.7km.  I felt defeated and a little relieved.  
Pammie was waiting for me at the the rest stop at the top, and I admitted my defeat.  Then she told me her inspiration...”Every time I am tired I think of my Opa going through Chemo, and he fought hard, and went through so much more than I have gone through today.”   With my butt sore, my legs tired and knowing that I was going to face 5kms of uphill terrain, I gingerly sat on my bike and began to ride.  For the rest of the ride, when the going got tough I just kept saying to myself...”this is for every chemo pill my dad has to take,”  “this is for the radiation,” “this is for you Dad,” “this is for you Uncle Tony, Zia Gigetta, Nonno, and Grandpa.”  And I made it to the top of that 5km hill and finished the day without stopping.
Day two was 105km in distance, thankfully the route was over more gentle terrain.  Oh, there were hills, but the hills were not as daunting, my legs were stronger even though they were tired, and the pain was just bothersome not overwhelming.  My strength and inspiration throughout the entire day was my dad.
With that said, the sweetest thing was the downhill of 22x and the right turn to the finish line.   As I crossed the line, I saw my mum,  Auntie Chris, Lori and Todd cheering me on....and  just like in all classic moments the words that passed through my lips were:
             ‘Hi Mum”
 I am so proud to share my journey with everyone, and want to express my gratitude as this weekend would not have happened without your generosity.  Your support has been wonderful.
The total money raised was $7,300,000.00!!!!!  Just amazing.  
Thank you

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


 I have run over 1,000 kilometres since November.


I didn't expect to put in that kind of mileage in my first year of running, let alone the last 6 months. Guess I have to stop calling myself a slacker! :P

Happy trails!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Accepting setbacks and forging ahead

Yeah, not so good with the blogging. :D  However, am ROCKING the running, even if it's only in my own mind.

Had a rough couple of weeks, got beat down by a pinky blister that refused to go away then, just as I finally got in a couple of runs in, I was beat down again by some weirdo cold/flu. Two weeks of reduced mileage; I was tweaking hard. HARD. I'd get jealous of random runners as I passed them in my car, not-so-secretly wishing to be in their shoes instead of mine. Then came the irrational fear part: what if I couldn't regain my former mileage glory? What if that whole cut back week theory was a LIE?!?!

Now obviously I know better, but still... I am rather amused how irrational I was getting over something so minor. But as everyone with a schedule to keep finds when delays set in, the brain comes up with extremely creative ways to magnify the situation and turn it into a freak show.

Needless to say, I did get over it. Probably ran a bit sooner than I should have but well, I can only sit still for so long.

Now that my brain has calmed down, I have turned my wicked ways towards tormenting my feet. Heh.

Picked up a pair of the Vibram Five Fingers in groovy fuschia, although have yet to get them outside other than a cursory run around my back yard, giggling like a schoolgirl. My gnarly pinky toes haven't adapted yet but given my masochistic tendencies it won't be too much longer until I'm tooling around the paths in them. Grass only though; my feet aren't very fleshy. :(  Apparently this is something to adjust slowly to, so given my complete and utter lack of patience this will be a new challenge.

And just to make things more complicated for my feet... I went and had a custom orthotic made. Feels like heaven! I've read mixed things about orthotics but I like to try things for myself, even if it turns into an epic fail. So far so good though. Going to take them on a 20k trail run tomorrow so we'll see how much I love them tomorrow night! Haha (OK, I am not supposed to run this long in them tomorrow but see above paragraph for reasoning of bad behaviour) :D

Happy running everyone!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm an Athlete

Pam and I have started to put long runs back to back.  Like last weekend we did 20km on Saturday and then I followed it with a 32km on Sunday.  Sunday was hard, but not as hard as the very first time I did 29km and thought I was going to die.  My hips were killing me that run and I was starting to wondering how much more effect it would take if I started to crawl.  But I made it through, just as I made it through the 32km this weekend.

I was pumped going into the weekend.  Maybe it was becasue my Chiroprator that 2 months ago was wondering if running maybe wasn't the best choice for my body, told me Friday that long distances looked good on me, and that my body wasn't a mess anymore.  I was in great shape to run.  He was surprised, but I was surprised more when he called me an athlete.  I zoned out for a couple minutes after that, at 30 years old I'm an athlete??? Really this coming from a guy that treats football player, is actually calling me an athlete, no way this is GREAT.  Funny how when I was in High School playing basketball all the time being an athlete was no big deal, it was easy to run around, throw a ball, but at thirty it's like a badge of honor. Something that I want to scream out at the world, "Hey world, look at me I'm an ATHLETE.  Ya that's right, me the person that 2 years ago was pretty sure running more than 5 mins wasn't possible"  But I won't, I will tell people about how 2 years ago I liked my couch more than my runners, and that I don't ever want to go back there, and hope that more people will get off the couch and join the ranks of us athletes.  It a pretty cool place to be. 


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Don't Think Just Run!

“Don’t Think, Just Run”
Sounds like a fabulous motto to me, however, it was actually advice that I received from the Running Injury Clinic (department of Kinesiology) at the University of Calgary.  I went for a GAIT Analysis, and that was one of the pieces of advice they gave me when reviewing my results.  It went something like this:
Don’t think, just run. You are structurally symmetrical, excellent biomechanics, flexible in all areas but one (left hip internal rotation), and you have a stride and cadence that runners try to attain.   So don’t think when you run, we don’t want you altering your biomechanics.
Well that sounds good to me!  Especially since I don’t think of myself as a runner, what are the chances that it should come naturally to me?
Before I lead you astray with all those glowing comments it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, or puppy dogs and rainbows.  Apparently, my hip area and hamstrings are weak.  The hip abductors (L & R), Hip external rotators (L & R), hip internal rotators (L & R), hip flexors (L & R), and my hamstrings (L & R) are all lacking in the strength department.  With 6 of the previously mentioned areas having the muscles inhibited.  

They gave me some exercises to do before I go to bed, and in time these areas will strengthen, this will make me a more efficient runner. 
Today as I hopped onto the treadmill to run my 12km I thought, “Don’t think, just run!”
And that my friends is my new motto.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies!!

The 40 year old slacker is in the house. HAHA.

Except it's only been slacking on the blog. In real life I've kept up my training schedule, totally aced (and exceeded) a 29 km long run. I love my Nike band but I am in the process of re-syncing it, since it is now under-reading distances. Oh well. Imperfect technology but does what I need.

On Tuesday, I bought my bike. Yesterday I rode it home - first time I've been on one since my early teen years, after I broke my arm riding when I was 10. You know that expression "like riding a bicycle"? Yeah, WHATEVS!! 

So my new bike is fitted with the clip pedals, and some cute riding shoes. Given my propensity to take diggers at the most awkward of places, I got the mountain bike shoes with a bit of grip, since road shoes have soles designed of jello. I looked at those shoes and got bruises. *shudder*

The folks at Bow Cycle were wonderful. They spent time with me, making sure I understood the way to successfully engage & disengage my shoes as well as making sure I understood how to shift gears. I'm still not 100% on proper gearing, but I had enough to get me home in one piece.

But wow, that ride home.... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh sweet mother of pearl. I spent a good 10 minutes behind Bow Cycle propped up against a garbage can, trying to clip myself in and work up the nerve to push the pedals. It's a bit daunting because starting with both feet in is scary as hell, so I finally worked up the nerve to just do it. Didn't fall! I was totally on top of the world, although laughing pretty hard because I was wobbly like a toddler. Straight line, ooh that was tough at first.

It didn't take long before I was feeling pretty fine... until my first dismount - cars were making me uncomfortable and I had to turn, so I played it safe. Getting back on took less time, but was a pretty laughable affair. I also had some challenges finding the right gears for some pretty minor hills, and took a rather public digger just after crossing the Trans Canada. I was only half clipped in, but fell on the clipped side anyways. Good grief!

Anyways, long story long, it was a gong show but fun. When I made it to my stomping grounds, it was weird being on the other side of the bell and dinging the runners. I'm going to need better padding though - my butt still hurts from that seat!! And that was with those giant maxi-pad cycling shorts. Sheesh.

Off to do a 10k - breaking in new shoes again. Went for Nike Vomeros, they are supposed to be nice & cushioned. Apparently I have strengthened my ankles so much that I am now in a neutral shoe - had 2 assessments done because I couldn't believe it. Crazy!!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A couple days off

I'm down but not out.  My calves are throwing a temper tantrum because they don't like hill training. I have tried talking nice to them, when that didn't work I moved to drowning them in ice baths, but still the tantrum continues, so they are going to get what they want.  The first demand was a week off, which I'm in the process of doing(4 more days till I return), and the second demand is no more hill training.  I figure I should listen now before my calves move from a mild tanturm to a full blown breaking things type of tanturm that would have me out of running for months not just a week.  Really one Sunday morning of not running drove me insane I can't imagine what more would do.  I can't seem to remember what normal people do on Sunday mornings, when you aren't running for 3hours so I drove myself nuts trying to find things to do.  I almost even cleaned out my car, wait one minute I wasn't that desperate for things to do, but I was almost there.  Hopefully this Sunday I will be out running my very first 29km. 


Monday, February 15, 2010

23km Conquered

Being a single girl I'm lucky enough to have quite a few great friends that get me out and about.  Now that I've added in the long distance running it has seriously cut into my Friday and Saturday nights out, because running even after 2 glasses of wine isn't pleasant when you are running for more than 20min.  The past couple of weeks I've started to miss the nights out, I'm not a big drinker but I feel like I need a night out to have wine and laugh with the girls and not think about the fact that I have to run or work in the morning.  Really isn't life about balance, plus I'm starting to feel like I live in my workout clothes and I need a reason to put on a dress, and look like a girl. 

On the upside Pam and I completed our very first 23km run!!!! YA US.  It's was a brisk Sunday morning, and the trees were painted white with frost so it was beautiful looking.  I wasn't so sure that I could do 23km but Dave brought us cookies, and chocolate to have at the half way mark so I had to go, and well it's better to run back then walk that far so I did it.  I love Sunday morning runs, but I love the coffee and snacks after even more.  Add in friends and laughs, and I wonder how I ever started a Sunday any other way.  I have surpassed a Half Marathon distance and I've never even done one.  I'v almost run 1/5 of the distance I will be doing in Aug. 

On the block this week I start my new job Wednesday, and tomorrow I get my blood drained for all sorts of tests, to makes sure I'm healthy and working properly. 

Oh and I've lost 11.5lbs.  This marathon training is doing me good. 

Cheers Sabrina

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm Backkkkk.....

Ok so I have thought many times about posting and then got distracted, or wasn't at a place were I could add a picture to the blog. A week ago Friday I got a new running partner(dog, that's her over to the left), and really what would a post like that be with out a picture. She is turning into a great running partner.

ast week was packed full of running I finished the week with 42km under my belt, which is the most I have ever completed in a week, and made the 121km from all of Jan look like nothing.  Plus I ran 19km on Sunday which was great and another feet, because that's the longest I have ever run.  Which may explain why I was so keen about doing the Death Race, because I've never run anything more than 16km soooo, I don't know how much pain 125km will cause me.  No knowing is bliss.... I also added a 11km walk on to my Sunday to get the doggy some exercise she isn't up to 19km of running yet, plus I figure it's about time to start getting used to being on my feet for more and more time. That's a total of 30km on my feet in one day...ummm I was sore and tired after that, and I'm still 95km short ohhh, I starting to wonder how I will feel after Aug long weekend. 
Oh well that's all I got for today...I will have to post again soon oh and because I have my camera hooked up here are some more pictures.

We built a snowman after a run and a running partner added a hat for fun..

This is half of the people that show there bright shining faces on a cold yucky Sunday Morning run.  It's 8:30 people so back to bed...Oh wait then I would have no one to run with...WAKE UPPPPP!!!!!

This is me being respectful and using my colorful monekey mitten to smoosh the heads of the instructor telling his half marathon clinic what they are running, and my fellow group leader jumped into the picture to take his own picture as well.  Sorry Dave, but it's not my fault you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, I hope I didn't hurt you. 

That's all I got today.  Enjoy the pictures. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Remember...

I remember my first day of my very first Learn to Run Training and how scary it was.  I remember how nothing in the world could be harder then running for a full 3mins and then repeating it 5 times. Then thinking "How the hell am I going to do a 4 whole mins next week???"  The first 3km seemed like it was so far away, and the the first 5km I did seemed like it was never going to end, but it did. My first 8km was a race, and half way through I though "Oh crap what was I thinking when I signed up", I pushed through it, with the help of some friends, and I pushed myself so hard, I puked when I crossed the finish line.  It was a crowning moment, and I was so proud have finished, puking at the end means I pushed myself as gross as it was.  Then I remember taking years off and having to start from scratch again, knowing that I could do it but it was still hard.  Then came the first 6km without doing 10's and 1's, wow that was hard!!! I remember the day 3km turned into an easy run, and then the day when I didn't warm up till 3km into the run.  Then 7km went from a long run, to an easy weeknight run, now 10k is the same.  Watching all the people I instructed learing to run, going through the same thing I went through when I started running, and realizing I'm not the only one that doubts what they are capable of.  I know that 90% of a marathon is mental, and it's got to be the same in an ultra-marathon, you just have longer to think about it.  I'm sure I will wonder at time if I can finish as I charter new distances, or struggle to push myself to go faster, but now I know I CAN . So for all the times some little voice inside said "I Can't" that little voice CAN shove it, because so many times I HAVE!!!

I know I'm not the only one that wonders if they can finish, but looking at how far we have come sure helps get through it. 

Cheers Sabrina

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gait analysis goodness

This is me trying out for the new Tron movie.

Needless to say, I didn't get the job.

But I did get to find out some rather neat stuff about my biomechanics, so it totally evens out i my favour!

Good news is that I don't run like a coked out monkey. That actually makes me a bit sad, I really enjoyed saying that and might just continue to do so. Apparently I have reasonably good biomechanics with the exception of my hips, and my left hip in particular. However I have been given an exercise regime over and above my regular one, and in theory I will have whipped my lazy ass hips (and glutes) into shape in about 6-8 weeks. SWEET.

I went down to the Running Injury Clinic at the U of C for this wizardry, and had a blast. The ladies there knew their stuff and even put up with my peanut gallery (a feat in itself some days!), although they did get their's with a bit o' punishment when we did some muscle strength tests. The picture is indicative of my favourite part, when they lit me up like a driver's nightmare and let me loose on the treadmill. If I can figure out how to convert it properly, I'll post my little skeleton legs running. I don't know who thinks of this stuff but at any rate I had a blast and would highly recommend it.

Now I must put away my shorts and dig out the winter stuff for a run. :D


Slacker alert!

Being a Canadian with a January birthday, anytime I can celebrate being in shorts & a tank, I'm over the moon. This year was the big 4 oh, so I did what any reasonable woman would do - drag my bestie off to DisneyWorld to hop a ride on Dumbo!

It was fantastic - the weather was accommodating and the Disney experience was hassle free. My only disappointment was the lack of fitness facilities which led to us only sneaking in one 4.5k run around the resort we stayed in. There was a 1.4 mile trail around a typical Floridian body of water... and that was it. So much for sticking to the training schedule. But rest is good, right?

However in terms of training, not all was lost. We did our first 'on the feet' of the training season - almost 11 hours of non-stop wandering. OK, so this is a terrible rationalization but in fairness, a slow meander for Claudia and I would probably pass for power walking to the casual observer.

There was also the fact I did score Sabrina a sweet hat for running.

Now I am back, somewhat on track, and about to go get hooked up to some computers for a 3D gait analysis. SUPER EXCITED! Which is kind of strange, since it's going to tell me that I run like a coked out monkey, but hey I'm an Aquarius and that kooky stuff is totally up my alley. :D


Friday, January 22, 2010

King of Blog...or Queen

Just quick post, full of nothingness. I got in an 8km run last night.

Today I'm queen of this blog, free to wreck havoc and chaos on it!!! Because my partners in crime are off visiting Mickey Mouse, and getting me a fun hat to run in. Not that I would wreck havoc on the blog, but that's not the point.  The point is I'm FREE to do so.  Mwahahahah.  Also I should have pictures from my running group posted on Sunday, we have having a photo hunt on our long run, me being a picture fiend I'm in heaven.  Running and taking pictures of people doing funny things. YAHOO!!!! That's why I love running in my group, always something to keep it interesting. 

Oh and it's was Pam's Birthday yesterday!!! Happy Birthday. I already sang to her, and broke her eardrums I'm sure.

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back at it...

Sabrina Here...
I was going to post before my run but I'm glad I waited till after.  First off my Dad is doing ok, he came out of the Double Bypass surgery fine, and he finally finished his will.  YA!!!! That was a huge win for me.  Now it's just a matter of getting some answers from the doctors.

I haven't run since last Thursday I was going to try Sunday but I just napped and then ended up driving to see my parent on Monday and driving home Yesterday.  Now I know if I didn't before I'm addicted to running.  I was craving it worse than I have craved chocolate.  My legs could feel the freedom of being allowed to just be free and run.  I even dreamed about it last night, but unlike the craving for chocolate, which is never as good as I imagine it to be, my run was even better.  It first I was scared, it was my first night as a group leader, and the first time I've ever run 9km straight through, and the first time at a 7:08/km pace.  On top of it I was suppose to be in the front, not at the back which is easier. Oh crap Oh Crap Oh crap.  That was all that went throlugh my head for the first 4km.  At some point I realized that I was fine, and I was doing it, and hey this didn't feel so bad.  So much for worrying about if all these experienced runner were going to over take me and throw me out as a group leader, and that I would let them down.  I WAS DOING IT!!!! 9km straight through at an average pace of  7:01/km plus I even went back and picked up the back group and added another km but I did take a bit of a break there.  Woot Woot 10km tonight, what a great way to come back and run. 

Oh and I'm super proud another one of my clinic people that started with me at the learn to run level also joined the Half Marathon!!! Sorry I didn't get to do a little excited dance for you Sharlene, I was all caught up in my head, and next week Val starts her training.  I'm all giddy for them. 

Pam and Claudia are off in Disneyland or world, not sure I always get them confused.  But I hope they have a great time and bring back lots of pictures to post, and a fun hat for me to wear well running. 

Good Night or good whatever time of the day you are reading this, in my world it's sleep time.  zzzzzz Sabrina

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I fell down

Yesterday just wasn't my day.  I ate crap for breakfast, and then my Dad just decided to mention that on Monday he is going in for Bypass surgery, he said he didn't tell me sooner so I wouldn't worry. Crap!!! There is a whole lot of other stuff that goes with this situation I won't get into, but it's stressing me out.   Yesterday was definately my day to fall off the wagon.  I should have run out all the stress but my legs for still sore from all the running this week, so I went drinking.  Today I'm still off the wagon due to the headache and a hangover.  I now remember why I don't drink very much.  It was an ok night but it didn't solve anything.  So what lesson did I learn.  Well drinking doesn't help and had I run through my problems yesterday I would be feeling a lot better than I am today, still sore but better!!! At times like this I see how easy it would be to give in and quit, but then again anything worth it isn't always easy.  So I'm going to pick myself up after having my poor me day and hopefully be well enough later to still get in my 13km run today. 

For right now I'm heading back to bed for a nap.  Sabrina

Friday, January 15, 2010

3 Minutes: A Recent Memory

This morning when I awoke in my incredibly comfortable bed at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, I knew today would include my first 11k run.  Of course that would take place after my morning habit (a Grande Americano whilst enjoying a leisurely walk).  

After I finished my coffee and browsing I headed up to my room and changed into my workout gear, and then went to the gym.  It didn’t escape me that I began my running adventure last year, May 01 to be exact, at this gym.  I did not know then what journeys I would be embarking on in the year to come.  But do we ever know?

As I approached the treadmill, with some trepidation, I could hear Sabrina coaching me: “You need to slow your pace to increase your endurance.”  With complete faith in Sabrina’s infinite wisdom I gingerly stepped on the treadmill, selected the manual program, started my time, and I began to run.  While I was watching the time tick by, and the miles slowly increase a gigantic smile spread across my face, and goosebumps graced my skin.  A glimmer of a recent memory tickled my mind.  The memory of 3 minutes.

Last year I downloaded a program for my iPhone that would bring any person from sitting on the couch to being capable of running 5k.  My first run with that application was in Orlando, the program had me running for 1 minute and resting 90 seconds for various intervals.  No problem.  However, as the program progressed they expected me to run for 3 minutes. I remember sitting with Pam in her basement suite, enjoying a glass of New Zealand red wine, and asking “How?”  “I don’t think I can run for 3 minutes.”  Pammie with her unerring positive attitude looked at me and said something to the effect, “I don’t know but I can’t wait to find out how this works.  They designed the program, it must work.”  

The morning of reckoning, I drove to Edworthy Park, and started the application.  As my feet hit the pavement, the sun shone on me, and the breeze drifted off of the Elbow River.  The chime rang, the time for walking was at an end, and I started to jog.  My lungs screamed in agony, my legs protested, and I huffed and puffed my way to 3 minutes.

Today, with the knowledge that both Sabrina and Pammie would cheer me on, I jogged my way to 11k.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mixed Bag

Soooo much to say and so little time....Here are a bunch of little bits...

Tomorrow is my last day instructing a clinic. Part of me is excited that I will get to move on and focus on my goals, but part of me is sad that I won't get to see my group all the time :(.  I will miss instructing, and the people that I met from it.  I guess that means that I just have to do it again.  In Aug was my first Women's only- Learn to Run Clinic, and then a 5k Clinic.  Some ladies from the Women's only followed me in the 5k and we picked up some new friend for the 5k. All and all it was a great time, and I made some new friend.  Wow some of them even moved on and are in 10K clinic and even a Half marathon Clinic, I'm pretty sure when they were running 1min and walking 1min they didn't think a 5mins of running was possible let alone 21km. I know I was pretty sure in my Learn to Run that running for 3 WHOLE minutes was the hardest thing I ever did, and I had to do it 4 time, what the Hell.  It makes me proud to see, them stick to it!!! Way to go!!!

Time to move on to my training, I showed my training schedule to my roommate yesterday, he was shocked when he looked at it, and opened his eyes super wide and exclaimed that he knew I was crazy before and this little sheet of paper just confirmed that fact. I emailed the Evil Dr. Myles that is also a personal trainer, to see if he has time to put together a strength training program for me, I have the running schedule down.  I'm pretty sure he will, mostly because he likes to help people that are willing to do whatever it takes to get better.  Yes I know that, I would be dancing with the devil, because he likes to push you to work harder, and it will hurt, but that's a good hurt.  That hurt will make me run faster, run longer and make it less likely that I will get injured. Plus the strength training will force my lazy glutes, to get off the couch, and get to work!!!

Note on my glutes/thighs it appears that the cottage cheese is losing the battle on my thighs and has been retreating!!!! Death to Cottage Cheese on my thighs....

Today I didn't do my lunges like I should have, BAD me!!! I will do them after my 10km run, I may even sucker some people into joining my lunges MWhahahaha, I'm spread around the pain and misery.  But I did do some other interesting exercises, like a single leg deadlift. Seen here and a single leg balance reach seen here  They were cool exercises and based on how hard it was for me to hold my balance, I need to do more of them.  I didn't feel a huge burn, but gaining balance is always a good thing. 

Cheers Sabrina

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Glutes are a pain in the ass

That's not my bum, so don't get excited. :P

First off my glutes are lazy buggers thanks to the modern sedentary lifestyle. So I try and do them a favour by exercising them and what do they do in return? NOTHING. Like some unemployed ex living off my good graces, they have the gall just to hang there and laugh at the rest of the muscles in the body for picking up their slack. Oh wait, that was a personal bitter moment. My bad.

I guess I am being a bit mean to my glutes, after all I can no longer grab a flabby handful like in that picture the way I used to. Not having a clear picture of the communication between my muscles, I like to envision my quads & hams threatening a rumble if they didn't start pulling their weight while I am doing weights. Or running. Or anything really. I've noticed an improvement of late, a soreness after a run and a some actual resistance when I do the poke test. Hawt!

Today's workout was probably the most shocking. No, the glutes didn't do me proud and suddenly go all applebutt on me, but I noticed them working - for an exercise I didn't know they were involved with. Fortunately I am at an all women's gym, so I didn't really feel much shame in covertly feeling my bum with wonder whilst doing some kind of back/ab thing. Yes, I am terrible with proper names for things and it's highly unlikely that I am going to change. At any rate I think this is the first time I've actually felt my glutes exerting themselves and quite frankly, I am a proud parent.

Gotta go to Staples and find me a pack of gold stars. It may not be an applebutt, but it'll be all glittery if it keeps this up!