Monday, January 21, 2019

Work in Progress aka Life

In 2003, I was done with city life. We were living in Montreal, not a huge city, but big enough, dirty enough and fast-paced enough to qualify as a big city. Life was fast, cold, busy. We decided to take some of our savings, and borrow some, and buy a ruin in Northern Italy that we could fix up and maybe one day live in. We had experience: we raised four children, renovated an old stone farmhouse, and ran a small subsistence farm in the previous chapter of our lives.

We've lives our lives following our dreams. Sometimes they turned into nightmares, mostly not. We've been poor, rich, and in between. We've been lonely, together, with and without children. Now we have five grown sons and perhaps another chapter is opening.

In any case, our mountain hideaway is a big part of our lives, and it's always been part of other peoples' lives too. This past summer, we hosted our first "work-in-progress" retreat. It was a great success! It was a healing retreat for women, and we learned how to stop and let life happen. It was about fun, playing, resting, eating and drinking, hiking, and being ourselves.

This year, 2019, we have a huge building project! Our land has two stone structures on it. We've fixed up the small one:

and now we have to get to work on the bigger one!

This is the barn. It's a huge, beautiful stone structure with a giant corrugated iron roof, that was put up many years ago to cover the original thatch. The roof has to come down, the beams have to be replaced, and we have to put a new roof on that baby.

So no retreats planned this summer. But if anyone out there loves to build and you want to come and visit for a while? Come on down! 

Next summer, though, I have three fantastic retreats planned. I'm inviting eight women to come and learn how to rest. I'm inviting eight experienced trail runners who want to master trail running in these mountains ... 

and I'm inviting eight women runners who want to learn about running trails, in a safe and fun environment, with an experienced running coach.

Drop me a line if you're interested in any of these activities - more details and dates to come!

Work In Progress!

Beach day!

Sage Sticks

Monday, January 14, 2019

8 Kilometer Thoughts

Mostly cloudy, -12 (Celsius)

Hmmm glad I wore my cleats, it's super icy. Kind of getting sick of Kenny Rogers, gotta get some new tunes. No! Summertime Blues? Next...

Okay, out and back, four k out then turn... or should I shake things up a bit? Ok, light's green, it's gonna be an out and back.

So, why can't I be happy? I'm always miserable with everything. I just need to live in the moment. Mindfulness. That's what running can teach me. Good. Good to run. Remember how grateful you are to have a healthy strong body. 

I'm gonna go the long way around this roundabout, there we go. Gotta remember to do the same on the way back. Na, not feeling it today. 2 k blues. Weird how that happens. 

Great song! Love the Wood Brothers. Damn my nose is running a lot today. They said the sun was gonna come out. But no. Grey shitty day. Montreal. Why can't I be happy here? Ok, stay in the moment. Be happy! Breathe!

So, yeah, the difference between Goals and Expectations. That's gotta be my mantra from today on forever. No expectations. Ok, like, if I have a goal to, let's say, finish a marathon. That's a goal. Expectation to win? Haha. Expectations that the dishes'll be done when I get home? No! Not realistic, also I shouldn't think about what other people are gonna do. Ok, my mantra for the rest of my life. No expectations. But goals! Marathon. Training. Being a better person. All that. 

Damn! What a beautiful day! I'm so lucky to have a healthy bod. Gotta be careful to NEVER cross in the middle, runners get hit by cars because of the high. Wait for the light. No cars coming, ok, go! 

Yikes, that was a serious piece of ice. Like a skating rink, hard, transparent. You can still slip if you're wearing cleats. I hate falling. Gotta learn how to fall.

Yeah, stairs, I love stairs. Up, cross over the tracks, down. Good one! Great song! Love the old Led Zeppelin for good running tunes. Ya, the good old days. Revolution! Yeah. Damn my hankie is getting so wet. Hey another runner! 

So don't wave back, bitch. Was she wearing cleats? I'm a pussy. She was going faster than me. Taller too. I look like a short fat hedgehog running along. Who am I kidding. 

Oh, 50%, ok time to turn around, yay I don't have to cross R. street, never get the light. Nice, I feel good! four k already? Great! Ya, a little detour, the long way around, better. A fucking Maserati? Who needs a Maserati? What is wrong with everyone? Capitalism! Bullshit. Well, you're living it. I should just move up to my mountain. 

How fast am I going? Damn, speed it up. That's better. Ok, no checking my watch until I'm at 90%. Ok, what's 8 k divided by 10? Like, four fifths, and what's four fifths of 8 k? Ok, so 8 divided by five is. Ok, so five miles divided by five is one. But that's not right because I have 15% left, so what's 5% of five miles? Damn I looked at my watch.

Ok, sprint home, one k left. For fuck's sake, why are you PARKING on the sidewalk? Damn, you shouldn't get mad when you're running, mindfulness, happiness, feel good, ok, 110%...done. Yeah good run!

running down a mountain

Monday, January 7, 2019

Gym Rats and Runners

As everybody already mostly knows, I love to run. See that big ole smile? That's me on my 60th, when I ran a kind of ok time for my second half-marathon.

I started training recently for my second full Marathon. If you want to run faster and better, and you want to build endurance and strength, you really have to do some strength training. Also, you really have to live in Montreal to experience Mother Nature's sense of humor. The winter temperature can vary from -30 (celsius) to above freezing in a half a day. I love a nice cold run: -20, sunny, cold and beautiful. You just have to know how to dress. But if it's super cold and snowy, and then it goes above freezing and everything melts, and then it rains and then it goes dow hard freezing again, and then it snows just a little bit? Then you've got a skating rink covered with a little bit of snow that's just enough so you can't see what you're landing on. 

For those days, and for my strength training, I go to the gym. 

I like gyms, kind of. I like the feeling of everyone playing. There's a lot of good hormones flying around too, and that reminds me of my real love, midwifery. It's fun watching people get their bodies strong. I like to see how everyone's body is so different. And of course I enjoy working out and pushing my body beyond what I may feel I'm capable of.

But there's a gym vibe that's just so different from the running feeling. I joined a new gym; I had a one hour session with a trainer who gave me a program and showed me where everything is. I went there for the second time, eager to try out my program. But of course I didn't know my way around that well yet. So I start my first exercise, I have to lie down. Fine, I found a spot and did my thing, its like a bridge except with holding one knee to your chest. 12 reps, 2 sets. All good.

The I had to do my lunges. The gym was crowded and I found my weights (10 pounds) and looked for a spot. I found a little spot facing the mirror where it looked to me like no one else was lifting weights or doing anything too complicated. I start my lunges. A guy came by, heading for the rack to my side. He gave a little-old-lady tut-tut and looked at me like "Get out of my way bitch". Whoa! I didn't feel good. In fact I went and found another spot. Laughs on him because he strutted off to the bench and started benching a plate - one plate, dude!, with a great deal of huffing and puffing and drama.

One of my kids benches 225 lbs, and his PR is 240. And I made that kid in this skinny old body (well, I was younger then). And I made four other ones too, all equally impressive. But hey, I'm not here for a pissing contest. In fact, I'm wondering why pissing contests exist in gyms at all. Everyone knows that bodies are different. Why not learn from your runner friends how to treat fellow athletes?

I know someone who regularly runs ultras. He did a marathon last year and cycled up to Ottawa (200 k), ran the race, then cycled back. I met him last week as he was headed out for a run with a buddy. He knows I run outside all winter so he invited me along - I told him I'd slow him down. He said, na we'll just run back and forth, all good.

Runners aren't so proud that way. We help each other out. Sure, we race against each other (why oh why did I let that lady get ahead of me last May?). But we treat each other well, and cooperation is the name of the game. So, next time you're at the gym, be nice. It'll improve your gains.