running 1 quinn

Rookie Mistakes

I guess I have to admit to my first rookie mistake right off the bat: starting a blog and then ignoring it for a couple of weeks.

The last couple of weeks have been busy to say the least as I continue training for the Grizzly Ultra Marathon in  Canmore in the fall. It’s a 50km run through the mountains, so, not only will it be the longest I’ve ever ran, I was also stupid enough to sign up for something that requires me to run straight up hill for nine straight hours.

In the time I’ve been training I’ve learned some tough lessons, and the biggest one is that I like to learn lessons the hard way. Oh and I’m a slow learner.

Here’s some of the things that I hope you won’t repeat:

Sleeping in on long run day

I think I’ll file this one under the August is hot category. Thanks Captain Obvious Quinn. The last couple of weekends have been particularly hot and humid in Edmonton. I’ve also had a tendency to sleep in the last couple of weekends and the combination has been disastrous. What were supposed to be more than 30 km runs turned into me calling my fiance to come pick me up closer to the 25km mark. I’m not a quitter but I really had no choice at that point. At one point I ran out of water and gels and had sweat enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. If I had started before 10 a.m. I probably would have been better off.

Skipping Hill Training

I’ve been running the 5 Peaks series the last couple of months to get me prepared for the Ultra.

The last run was in Camrose, and included 14km of tough hills. It had been raining the day before and the trail was muddy. I decided it was a great idea to run down one of the first declines, when I slipped. I didn’t fall, but I did a number on my ankle. I limped sadly passed the finish line in pain after running the entire race on an injury that probably could have been avoided.

I’ve used it as an excuse to stop training hills and that was a major mistake. I climbed 10+ hills on my last long run and it doesn’t take long to lose that stamina.

I also ran after the Camrose race and the hills from it pushed up my times immensely, and a friend of mine who is a trainer has said the best way to get your times down for a half marathon, is to do some trail running. So from this rookie, don’t skip hill day,as brutal as it can be.

Not resting an injury and not breaking in new shoes

I only link these together because I learned them at the exact same time.

The day after I injured my ankle at the 5 peaks race, I decided it was a great idea to do a 20km run through Edmonton’s river valley, on brand new shoes.

I was so excited to test them out and I didn’t think anything of it on the run, honestly. Until I got home…

My foot felt a little funny under my compression socks. I took off the sock on my left foot and realized they were a bit swollen, but it wasn’t anything too concerning.

It was the right foot that was the problem.

I took off the sock to reveal a completely black toe.

And then the swelling really started to kick in. Both feet ballooned up the minutes after I released them from their compression prisons. I walked like I had a stick up my butt for a few days waiting for the swelling to go down.

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Beginning stages. It only got worse. I’m now missing two toe nails.

High Heels

Do I really need to explain this one. One of my coworkers is running the Grizzly as well. We have both banned high heels from our wardrobes until October. (At least I have an excuse now not to be as girly.)

Skipping Stretching 

I used to do yoga, heck I used to stretch every single day. But I get tired, and my body pays the price. There is nothing worse than being unable to run your full distance because of tight muscles and preventable injuries.

Fuelling- or as normal people call it, eating. 

I’ve really fallen off the nutrition bandwagon as of late.

I’m not eating crap, I’m just not eating enough.

It means I’ve hit the wall harder and sooner on my long runs and has taken a major toll on my training.

 

All of these seem pretty minor, but they’ve caused a bit of pain that could have been avoided. I hope you heed my warning and steer clear of these rookie mistakes.

As for me, I’m hoping they don’t all come back to bite me in the butt when I hope to tackle the Edmonton Marathon next weekend.

What rookie mistakes have you made lately?

 

 

 

rain running

Running sucks, but you should do it anyway

I definitely don’t pretend to be an expert when it comes to running. What I can tell you is I’m not an elite athlete who’s spent years training for ultra marathons, marathons or even half marathons.

Instead, I started at ground zero.

After my trip to the ICU with anaphylaxis I couldn’t run a mile. I struggled for air, and my body screamed at me for even attempting it. This was my ground zero.

Running sucks and here’s why:

  1. Your lungs hurt and it takes time to build up your cardio.
  2. Your legs hurt. Your feet will hurt and will probably be full of blisters.
  3. It gets boring. You have to keep finding new ways to keep your brain engaged and distracted.
  4. It can take up a lot of time, especially if you are training for a half marathon or up. With my ultra marathon training, my long runs can take upwards of 4 hours of a weekend.
  5. Cardio goes away really fast.
  6. Getting out of bed when it’s cold, rainy, hot or windy to spend hours torturing yourself outside.
  7.  Race fees can be expensive, and if you decide to get all of the bells and whistles, like technical running gear, shoes, fuel belts, electrolytes etc. the costs can really add up.
  8. Your pants stop fitting properly.

I’m a girl who dreads hitting the pavement every day to go out and get in my miles, and long runs are my worst enemy. So why do it?

List #2

  1. It’s great for your mental health. A shout out to  Mental Rescue Society that focuses on the connection between physical, social and emotional well-being. Running is one of the few forms of exercise where you can think about everything, or turn your brain off and think about nothing.
  2. It’s a great way to explore your city, and the areas around your city. This is a huge shout out to Edmonton. The trail system in and around the city is unreal. There are few days where I end up running in the same spot more than once.  The City of Edmonton has a trail map on it’s website, and if you don’t really care how far you go, it’s always fun to get a little lost and try and find your way back home.  You’ll also find yourself wasting a lot less of the nice days that we have in Canada, inside.
  3. It’s a way to be alone, or to find friends. You don’t need a team to be a runner, but it’s also something you don’t have to do alone. When I first moved to Edmonton, I didn’t know anyone, so I used running to not only meet people, but also to pass time. See previous blog post.
  4. It’s good for you. I know it’s obvious, but it really is good for your body. The pants thing above is actually a good thing. Your gaining muscles. You improve your lifespan etc. and all those things actual doctors talk to you about.
  5. Finding “me” time.  I’m not a mom, but I do consider myself to have a pretty hectic life. Because of that, I do need a few minutes alone, and what better way to do that than to head out for a run. People who are non-runners will let you do your thing. Even if you are on vacation, or visiting relatives.
  6. Races give you a goal to work towards. My goal is usually just to finish, but being able to do something that seems crazy when you first sign up, is a pretty amazing feeling.
  7. Free therapy. Need I say more?

Running is one of the few things in life that I love to hate, and hate to love. You won’t see me talking about how wonderful my run was, calling myself a runner, or telling everyone how great it was to complete a race and I’ll keep doing it.

There are a few ways to make it better.

First of all, make sure it’s not all you are doing.  I also do weights, cycle, and once a week, I head to a cross fit class to keep my mind and my body guessing. I also feel like that makes me better at running, by giving my muscles a break, but still working others.

Sign up for a race. Nothing motivates like the fact you may be throwing hard earned cash away.

And, find a group who also feels the same way you do. Being able to text someone without being that person who posts every workout on social media will help you get through. They may motivate you to get out and get those extra miles or if you have really good friends, they’ll bring you wine and you can bitch about how much you hate running together.

 

 

 

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A tortoise in a herd of hares

I have to admit that I have major anxiety every time I step out for a run. I’m one of those people who thinks about all the things that can go wrong and none of the things that can go right.

I argue that’s what helps me in my job.  I see the bad in situations, before the good which causes me to question things, but it can also be a major hurdle when I’m about to tackle 21.1 km with 12,000 other people.

My finace and I “competed” in the Calgary Half Marathon over the weekend.

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The day before, we shopped, visited with friends and family and carefully laid out everything we would need for the race, from the shoes, to the outfit, even our bib numbers, because yes… we really are that cool.

We laid down to get a couple of hours sleep before our alarms went off exceptionally early and we’d put on those carefully laid out clothes, carefully clipped on our bibs and carefully filled up our water bottles, making sure that everything was perfect.

I tossed and turned all night, my mind pre-racing about everything that could have gone wrong.

Would I get lost (not like they’re pretty organized and there’d be lots of people to follow) ? Would I trip and hurt myself (most likely scenario)? What if I don’t have enough water? What if I’m late?

What if I got last? A turtle in a herd of hares.

I honestly was having nightmares of finishing hours after everyone else. I pictured elite marathoners easily whizzing by; and me breathless, energy-less and hopeless.

It’s not like I hadn’t been training, in fact I’ve been further than the 21.1 km. And  I’ve ran this exact race before, I should know that I’d be OK.

We arrived Sunday morning on time and ready, but I had two very large black circles under my eyes, signs of a restless night but hidden by large quantities of make up.

I started to calm down when I looked around and noticed people of every shape and size there to do what I was trying to do:  just finish.

The gun went off and I ran, just like I’d planned to do.

Surprisingly, it felt fairly easy. My legs and feet began to complain when I was nearing the finish line, but the mental battle was well over and Chris and I crossed the finish line with giant smiles on our faces.

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Right after the race.
I didn’t get lost, I only tripped once and I had lots of water.

And I didn’t get last.

In fact, I beat my old personal best by three minutes. It’s amazing what happens when adrenaline kicks in. What I thought was impossible, became very possible when I hit the start line. I stopped thinking and just ran.

I noticed that Chris and I barely spoke on the route, which is odd because usually you can’t get me to shut up, but my cheeks hurt from smiling.

The atmosphere in Calgary was electric. From people cheering on the sidelines, to random bands playing their hearts out and Elvis with a karaoke machine, it didn’t feel like running.

There was a moment, because I wouldn’t be me without one. Chris didn’t train very much for this race over the past couple of months. Plagued by injuries and travelling for course, running was on the back burner.  The furthest he’d done in training (and ever) was 14 km and I was so worried there would be a point where he would give up.

He didn’t.

We stopped speaking for a few kilometres because we were both tired and, as he puts it, “miscommunicating,” but he still pushed forward, kept my pace up and pushed me.

At the 18km mark I was crying under my bright green sunglasses. He didn’t complain at all about what I was making him do. Instead he gritted his teeth and kept going. He barely trained, yet he was still going to finish. Mind over matter.

As we rounded what we thought was the final bend he realized we still had a way to go and I got a, “where the f*&# is the finish line?” (Chris normally never swears in front of me).

But he still reached out and grabbed my hand and had a smile from ear-to-ear when we crossed that finish line.

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So many selfies!

I still consider myself a turtle. But what I’ve learned is it doesn’t matter.

There’s those rabbits, or superhumans, that can run those insane distances like it’s nothing at all in times that are incomprehensible to me.

But there’s also a large number of turtles, like me, and everything in between.

My next race is next weekend. I didn’t really plan that well at all, did I? It’s a 14km trail run as part of the 5 Peaks Alberta: North series.

When that’s over, I guess it’s time to sign up for a full marathon.

Let the anxiety begin.

Oh wait, didn’t I sign up for an ultra?

 

 

 

Photo Credit to my friend Chris Tse. Check him out at https://twitter.com/christse_

Staying positive

First of all, I want to give a huge shout out to an amazing group of people I’ve been able to get to know over the last couple of months.

If you follow me on social media, you know I like to proudly wear my bright green compression calf sleeves, if you are wondering what it’s all about, it all has to do with mental health awareness. (PTSD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc.)

Mental Rescue is a group of people (myself included) bringing light to the shadows of Mental Health. We will be fundraising to help those in our community, and there families who are struggling with mental health. More to come on that later… but take a look at an amazing girl who just chopped off her locks in support of Mental Rescue: First Responder PTSD Support YEG

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Photo credit to Chris Tse

Speaking of mental well-being, I have an annoying habit and it’s  one that I’ve had it for so long I don’t even know I’m doing it any more.

It started a few years ago when I first moved to Edmonton.

I knew no one.

In order not to go absolutely crazy, I would spend my days walking around landmarks in Edmonton like the Legislature Grounds. I was alone in a new place, scared and just plain lonely. I would go to work, go home, workout and that’s about it.

One day, when I was the Legislature, I was feeling particularly invisible. A guy on a bike rode up, he stopped, told me I was pretty and rode away.

I was in shock, but I blushed and I felt like a normal human being again.

Things have changed now. After four and a half years, I have a life here in the city including family and friends. Yet, I still find myself in some of the amazing places that Edmonton has to offer, alone.

Edmonton’s River Valley is an absolutely amazing place to spend a beautiful day in the city, and I’ve been known to frequent theMill Creek Ravine, whether it’s training for this half marathon or just taking Cassie for a walk.

That annoying habit? I smile from ear-to-ear, look into the eyes of every one I pass and say a quick, enthusiastic “hello!” to everyone who walks by.

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I remember those days when I was alone in Edmonton, feeling invisible and that one person made my day so much better.  Now, I want to do the same for someone else.

So if you see some happy, smiley person, who may also looked pained after running for an hour or so, but still wanting to quickly chat while I run past, I hope you won’t judge me to harshly, and maybe you’ll say hi to the next person.

Kindness is catching… and if you need proof, check out this story:

Edmonton woman’s mission spreading love among strangers

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What’s with the ring?

If you asked me five years ago, a year ago, maybe even a couple of months ago, I would say I had no intention of getting married.

It’s not that I didn’t want to get married, it’s that it wasn’t even on my radar as something that I should be considering. I’m still a baby. Too young to get married, start a family or be a *gulp* grown up.

NEWSFLASH OHLER! You’ve been a grown up for a long time!!

I moved out of my parents house when I was 18 years old  to go to college in Lethbridge. I paid for my own tuition and living expenses (well student loans did), I had jobs to pay my bills, several of them actually, I set up accounts with the  for power and water, I paid for my cell phone, even got a credit card.

I graduated from a post-secondary institution with honours and paid off my student loans.

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Photographic evidence that I did graduate (or at least wore the gown)
I started working at a local radio station reporting news. At the same time I worked at Global Lethbridge as a news reporter and eventually an anchor, and eventually I became the producer of the flagship News Hour show.

I moved to Edmonton on my own and hardly knew a soul. I’ve moved several times and made big bad grown up decisions for years.
I’ve been working in media for nine years.  Nine…

I’m not saying any of this to brag. I’m trying to say that despite the fact that I’ve lived and survived quite well on my own, I’ve been scared to death of becoming someone’s wife.

When it comes to dating, my record looks like a who’s who of bad life decisions. Some of which I think I subconsciously chose, because I knew there would be no chance in ever getting a ring from them. 

pizza

But something was different a couple of years ago when I found myself on the roof of a fire hall in Edmonton.

I was working as our Night Watch reporter when I was tasked to check in on a group of firefighters who had been camped out on the station for the past nine days. They had only been scheduled to be up there for four, but plans had changed when they weren’t anywhere near reaching their goal for Muscular Dystrophy Canada

To be honest, I was kind of mad that I had to go.

I had bad experiences with fire fighters in the past. I was tired, and it was freezing cold, but I went.

I got up on the rooftop and started setting up for our hit. 

There was two fire fighters left to battle the elements and appease any local media who decided to update their fundraising efforts. 

The first was a chatty guy, excited about the cause and a little overly excited to have someone new to talk with after being secluded to the rooftop for more than a week.

The second was a few years younger, mild-mannered, handsome and very quiet. 

I spoke with the more outspoken  camper,discussing what our plan was for the night and chitchatting about anything and everything. 

The second firefighter listened intently but not saying a whole lot, offering a smile or a few words and nods to stay involved in the conversation.

I could tell he was shy, but handsome, and nervous…. SOOOO nervous.

 His cheeks were red beyond what could have been done by the chilly wind that had been blowing all day.  His amber skin waned slightly until I spoke to him again, and the blush would fill up his face once again.

A call came in and the chatty host was off to answer it, leaving just the two of us in a little tent on the rooftop of a fire hall.

It felt like minutes went by without a noise, when he proudly piped up and asked with a smile, “do you screw up at your job a lot?”

I didn’t know how to answer I just laughed and blubbered “well, sometimes ya I guess I do.”

We chatted a bit more, I did my live hit, and left thinking to myself that I he was cute, and remembering the ridiculous first question he chose to ask me.

On Valentine’s Day, I received a message on Facebook thanking me for my time and helping them get down from the roof (they came down the next morning after a rather large donation.)

Since that message we’ve had drinks, played pool, went skating, ate cake, met each others family and friends,  been on multiple trips, shared holidays, made major decisions,got a dog, shared a home, laughed, cried, shared secrets, family/friends weddings, our first nephew…

And on a cold night in February, he asked me to marry him.

I said yes.

The girl who thought she would never be looking at rings or wedding dresses, now has to plan a wedding.

So for everyone who’s asked, yes it’s an engagement ring and I couldn’t be happier.

ring pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Falling off the wagon

Today I will not lie to you, and more importantly I will not lie to myself.

I will not be ready for the Calgary Marathon.

I made the realization yesterday when I was once again in the ER on high doses of epinephrine, trying to get yet another allergic reaction under control. It takes a major toll not only on my lungs, but on my entire body. Long story short, after coughing for hours straight, and putting my body through adrenaline hell, I am in major pain. There was no way I could have tackled the scheduled 19 kilometre run today.

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I have far too many of these pictures

This hasn’t been my only setback. It started three weeks ago when I was in Mexico. I missed two weekends worth of training at that time. I did run while I was there but not the distances I should have been.

Last weekend, back in Edmonton, I was scheduled to run 16 kilometres. I stepped out of the vehicle and started running, only to feel absolute unimaginable pain in my stomach, with no explanation whatsoever. It’s subsided and I was excited to get back on track this weekend, but that wasn’t the case.

Needless to say, I’ve fallen off track. WAY off track.

Because of these both self-imposed setbacks, and one not so self-imposed, I’m scaling back my marathon to a half marathon. Still a major accomplishment if I can finish, but not what I was hoping for.

It was a really, really tough decision for me, and I was embarrassed to write this post. But then I saw something from a fellow reporter (not in my city, or my company) share how an injury was going to put her training back for another race. It helped me realize that it’s not the end for me when it comes to marathons, and my health and well-being should come first.  She’s a great source for tips, help and motivation if you are a runner or a soon to be runner. Check out her blog at Kaella on the Run (I hope she doesn’t mind).

I will complete a marathon at some point, especially before the Grizzly Ultramarathon in October that I also signed up for, but for the time being I know that what is best for me is to take a step back on marathon training and focus instead on a lesser distance.

I guess there is one plus, my fiancé says he’ll run the half with me. We better get our butts in gear.

 

 

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Lessons learned while travelling with a two-year-old

Let me just start by saying I don’t have a two-year-old. I didn’t have to deal with the flights, the fussy nap-time rituals, or the diaper changes, but I had a pretty amazing opportunity to spend a week in paradise (AKA a beach in Mexico) with my two-year-old nephew, Rhett. His parents were in tow, which means all of that was left up to them. The fun and feeding of pizza and ice cream was left up to me.

It’s amazing what you can learn when you are somewhere new with a toddler.

My nephew is the spunkiest, most energetic and, of course, the cutest kid I have ever met. His vocabulary is astounding and his memory is even better.  For the most part, that’s a good thing.

We worked on his colours, numbers, words and animals all during our week-long trip to Puerto Aventuras outside of  Cancun.  But I learned way more from him than he could ever have learned from me in our (too) short stay.

What I learned while travelling with a two-year-old

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Laugh, a lot 

My nephew has the exceptional ability to make people laugh and smile everywhere he goes. He laughs at the little stuff whether I’m making funny faces or if je just thinks my normal face is funny.  It’s amazing.

No matter how crappy I feel, if he’s around, it changes everything.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

When Rhett couldn’t find his “hockey” stick (a spatula he started hitting balls with) he didn’t get upset even though he REALLY, REALLY wanted to play hockey. Instead he found it, and turned that into a game.

He would hide the make-shift hockey stick in the kitchen, then come running out with his shoulder scrunched up and his arms up near his ears saying “I don’t know” and then giggle and laugh and go and get it and then go back and hide it again… over and over and over again.

Share and accept every gift with gratitude, no matter the monetary value

The little monkey was eating his snack. Goldfish crackers. They are a treat when he’s on vacation, because they are easy to pack, and he loves them. He would eat a couple and then yell “Auntie!” and give me one, “Chris!” he got one too. “Grandpa!” *Grandma takes it and eats it. “Grandpa!” he said with a scowl. Eventually my mom did get a goldfish but it took some coaxing after she stole Grandpa’s.

It’s all he had, but he still shared and we treated each little cracker like it was the best thing in the entire world.

He also did the same thing with sand, rocks, fruit, ice cream, and one time a half-eaten piece of pizza.

I hope he does that with money when he’s rich and famous.

Never waste time 

The picture above is of him ready to go to the pool. He stood there for quite a while waiting very patiently. It certainly hurried us all up. He had seven adults in rush mode in no time.

Look at the world through the eyes of a child once in a while

There’s something amazing when you hang out with a young child. Something as simple as a piece of sand or a blade of grass may seem mundane to many of us but Rhett, and many other young children I saw at the beach, do something interesting.

They sit and study it carefully. He looks at it closely, feels what it’s like when it moves through his fingers, occasionally smells it and when no one is looking, sometimes tastes it.

I wouldn’t recommend doing that with everything, but it makes you think.

How much of the world do we miss because we think it’s just something ordinary or mundane?

Imagine looking at something you’ve seen a million times before through new eyes. What would you find?

I know if it’s anything like the eyes of my favourite toddler, the world will become a pretty amazing place.

Dance

…and when the two-year-old asks you to dance, you better be dancing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tales of a wandering mind while running

For some running is a form of therapy.

For me, it’s a form of torture.

In the last week I’ve put on more than 30 km in training runs through Edmonton, and on the treadmill. I’m into week three of marathon training for the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon in May, and I’ve already tried to give up close to 50 times. It’s meant a few days of pulling my butt off of the couch and getting out there, but having a goal has encouraged me not to put it off.

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Proof I actually registered

It’s also given me a lot of time to think.

Many runners will tell you about the remarkable stories, and the topics, that are not accepted in normal social circumstances, that are widely talked about on the trail. Everything from distances covered in a week, upcoming races, race day rituals (most are just plain weird) and of course bathroom routines (that also fits under the race day rituals topic).

My thought process is very different, mostly because I don’t consider myself a runner.

I run but I’m anything but an expert on the topic, and I haven’t trained for a race in a very long time. Everything I know, I’ve learned from John Stanton’s book. Stanton founded the Running Room and is from Edmonton, and his book has proven to be a great resource for the beginner.

 

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Meeting John Stanton at the Santa Shuffle in Edmonton. Cassie wasn’t as excited as I was.

The first couple weeks of training are now under my belt, and it has allowed me the opportunity to discover things about myself. Mostly, the fact I have a very active imagination.

As a reporter, my number one goal for most of my runs, besides not dying, is to figure out how to best tell the stories that I’m working on. But that doesn’t last too long. Turns out I get distracted pretty easily, when putting my body through torture.

Instead, I start thinking, and that becomes scary. My runs quickly turn from productive brainstorming sessions with myself (I know that sounds crazy) to the strangest inner dialogue I’ve ever experienced.

It goes something like this:

*singing to music*

Wow, someone forgot to clean up after their dog. That makes me so frustrated, they are giving all dog owners a bad name, including me. They are giving me a bad name. Man I hate people like that.

Maybe it wasn’t a domestic dog, but a coyote.

Do I have to pee? No.

What if it wasn’t a coyote, but a bear?

Are there bears in Edmonton’s River Valley?

Do I have to pee? No.

What if I ran into a bear? What are you supposed to do? Play dead or run? I’m barely moving right now, there’s no way I can outrun a bear. Should I start recording on my phone?  That would make some great video for the show.

OK I do have to pee. Do you think one of the people who owns one of the mansions over in the River Valley will let me use their washroom?

Do runners ask people that? Like, when you are running do you knock on a perfect strangers door asking to use the washroom? I need to plan better.

SQUIRREL!

(OK that actually happened… )

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Then there’s the unique ways to keep time. I have a running watch to keep track of distance and time, but I try to distract myself with tricks, like I’m sure a lot of others do.

If I run for two songs, that’s about four minutes a song, eight minutes total, that’s more than a kilometre so how many songs do I need to run through? Oh man, I lost track of how many songs, how am I ever going to know how much longer I have to run? Oh ya, I have a watch.

Do I have to pee? No.

If I take a picture here, I can take a break.

Man, I need to start wearing makeup.

Am I the only one who does this?

I guess this is just the beginning of what will be a long few months of training. I’m looking forward to the days where I don’t have to wear eight layers total, and the trails aren’t completely covered in ice.

But it’s nice to finally get outdoors in Edmonton in the middle of Winter. I’ve spent the last four years hibernating, and this was the excuse I needed to embrace what the city has to offer.

For now, I’m stretching/resting my tired legs, and looking forward to a time when I get a runner’s high instead of an overwhelming need to nap, and maybe my internal discussions will eventually become more intelligent. One can only hope.

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Tying up loose ends

I’ve realised that I may have left a few topics unfinished in the last couple of months. I apologize. It’s simply because I got distracted, or found something better to write about. It’s the journalist in me. Sometimes you move on to the story that’s better, not because the other story isn’t a good story, I just want to bring you the best story possible.

Here is my opportunity to change that.  In this blog post I’m “tying up loose ends”.

Grandma’s cookbook

The books have officially been sent out to my parents, siblings, aunts, and grandparents. Not because I was completely happy with the finished product, but because there was a 50% off sale on the site I was using to print them. I had 12 copies to print, and I wasn’t missing that sale.

I ended up completing five recipes. You can check out how the bread and two types of cookies, oh and the pie (my god the pie!) turned out on my previous blog, but I had to wait to taste the pickles, and man were they amazing.

I was disappointed that I didn’t make more of the recipes. Don’t think I won’t moving forward, I just would have loved a few extra pictures for the cookbook. Instead I filled them with sweet pictures of my grandparents and their family.

It’s an amazing experience to get to make the recipes of your family. It connects you in such a unique way. If you get the chance to even go through your loved ones old cookbooks you can learn so much, even if you don’t feel like cooking anything.

You can see the little things that make/made them unique, like the warnings (to me I’m sure) not to burn the icing, or overcook the ginger chews so they become ginger snaps (they still taste great!) It’s those little notes that made me smile every time I turned the page. I also had to laugh at the lack of instructions. I’m trying to figure out if my grandma was trying to send me a message that she wanted me to call more, or if she’s such a robot in the kitchen that she knows exactly what to do. Either way her food is still amazing. The recipes are awesome to have, but nothing will ever beat her home cooking, and I will always make any excuse I can to go visit and sneak a couple of treats.

Grandma received her book and phoned me about a week ago. She loves it, and I hope she understands how much fun I had making it for her.

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The finished front/back cover of the cookbook

 

Time to be strong

I promised I would work on being strong and I have been. I’ve taken steps to be eating WAY better. I’ve actually started eating. That’s strange for me to admit, but I have this weird thing where if I can’t decide what food is best for me or what I should be eating, I just don’t eat.

I’m planning ahead and that is working the best. No more excuses.

I’ve also officially signed up for the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon. It’s where I ran my first half marathon, and where I hope to complete my first marathon.

There’s more on this front… but that’s coming later. Stay tuned.

Superman

This was my biggest regret in writing this blog. I didn’t tell people how well my dad is doing after the crash that left him a quadriplegic so many years ago.

My dad is the strongest man I know.

He is still a farmer and uses a ranger to get around the farm and perform the tasks he needs to be a good farm manger. He is still very much in charge, my mom does a lot of the work, like feeding the cattle and other things where it proves impossible for my dad to get into the equipment needed to do it.

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Dad and I in the ranger about to go out and do chores.  This is when I realized I look like my mom.

He’s changed so many things on the farm to make it easier for him. A number of the gates have a few added “touches” to make sure that he can open them if need be. My mom usually follows behind to close them, or sometimes a neighbour closes them and he gets stuck inside the fence and can’t get out(right Colleen?) I’m pretty sure this is why cell phones were invented.

My dad is also a very active member of his community. He works with the Stavely Ag Society, helps out his neighbours every way he can and even took part in a high school demonstration aimed at teaching kids that life-altering incidents can happen in an instant. He was also a medal-bearer in the Rick Hansen Relay, marking the 25th anniversary of Hasen’s Man in Motion tour.

 

So basically he’s just dad. The same guy he was before. He just uses a wheelchair to get around now.

We have yet to get him wakeboarding, but he has started skiing with the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiiers.

 

And he loves his family.

He loves his grandson and his soon-to-be grandson, his kids, and his wife.

For the first time ever, our family will be taking a family vacation in February, and I can’t wait.

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Dad and I at my brother’s wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas with Superman

It’s funny how fast this time of year seems to sneak up on us.  The malls are always packed, like we didn’t know what day Christmas was coming; like it was a giant surprise that it comes on December 25th every year.

Christmas has never been my favourite time of year.

I accept it for what it is and celebrate like everyone else, stressed out and ready to hit the guy in the parking lot who parked like an idiot.

There is something magical though, I must admit.

Everyone has this little extra sparkle in their eye and spring in their step. They want to do something kind for one another.

No matter how hard we try to make Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, sometimes things go wrong. It’s my least favourite part of the holidays as a reporter, because between the stories of the kind stranger leaving Christmas gifts for kids in need,  terrible things still happen, especially when people expect things to be perfect.

I know what that’s like.

Seven years ago it was raining.  Then it froze. It turned cold, the roads were skating rinks, and I decided to drive.

I got in my car and drove an hour from Lethbridge to Claresholm, where I was coaching. I made it. Slowly, but I made it.

My parents decided they would take the 15 minute drive to Claresholm to feed me (I have the best parents in the world.) We met at my grandparents house, we had cabbage rolls, and my mom handed me an ornament for my Christmas tree. It was two skaters that spun around the ice, as a music box played.

After my parents left, I started watching TV with my grandma when an ambulance drove by. She immediately stiffened up and she knew something was up.

The phone started to ring.

A rollover.

My parents truck had rolled several times on a back country road on their way home. My mom was walking around outside of the vehicle. She’d used my dad’s phone to call 911, and they were both taken by ambulance to the hospital in Claresholm.

When I got to the hospital, they let me in to see my mom. She kept telling me how she should have cleaned her house, fixated on the fact that her house wasn’t in the shape she wanted to be, not the fact they had just rolled several times into an open field.

I knew something was wrong. Everytime I asked about Dad I got nowhere. I was calling my brothers  when I saw him wheel past me. My heart sank. My aunt, a nurse at the hospital pulled me aside.

“It’s his neck Quinn,” she said to me. “They think it may be broken.”

I ran to his side in tears. He was silent, and I didn’t know what to do. Then he looked up at me with his bright blue eyes and said, “Hi Sweety!”

I knew things would be OK from that moment on. My parents both knew who I was, and they were still very much themselves. What I didn’t know was the long road we would soon be headed on. It was a path we most certainly did not chose.

I rode in the ambulance to Calgary to the Foothills hospital that would be home to my dad for the next few months.

Yes, we spent Christmas in a hospital room.

What we learned though was remarkable, in fact that Christmas, filled with so much stress and uncertainty, was my favourite.

I  learned the value of a neighbour. Our friends and family opened their hearts. They sent food, came for visits, did chores and eventually held a benefit that helped my parents retrofit their home, so Dad could live on his farm.

I learned to be patient. I couldn’t just do what I wanted when I wanted in a hospital, as much as I tried.

I learned to celebrate the small things, from my dad learning to feed himself again, to feeling his feet when I rubbed his toes, sitting up, and eventually not falling over when I threw a medicine ball at his head (I didn’t change that much.)

Most of all, I learned to appreciate my family.

You never know what you have until it’s almost taken from you.

My brother’s were my rock when my mom was an hour a way in hospital (she was kept in our local hospital, much to her chagrin.) My sister-in-law became the mom we needed at that time, reminding us to sleep, eat, and brush our teeth. My aunt became a best friend when I needed it most, and slept with me in the lonely ICU when it was my turn to be at the hospital with dad. My mom’s parents were chauffeurs, shoulders to cry on, helpers on the farm and everything we could have needed or asked for.

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We spent Christmas at my sister-in-law’s house in Calgary. My mom’s family uprooted their plans for Christmas and we had a big Christmas dinner at my aunt and uncle’s place (sans Dad and Mom). We left a stocking from “Santa” for Dad to open when he woke up Christmas morning, and we exchanged small gifts in the hospital room. And we laughed, and giggled and took pictures, and just appreciated each other for being ourselves, for the very first time.

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It sounds so strange, but there was a silver lining to one of the most devastating things to have happened to my family.

Now, we make time for each other, especially at Christmas time. Our lives aren’t too busy.

We support one another, no matter what.

My Superman is 55-years-old, he’s stronger than anyone I know, he’s married to his best friend and his own superhero.He’s a farmer, the best dad in the world, and has taught us all to be better people.

As a reporter, he taught me what it was like to be on the other side of the story and to know what the people I’m interviewing are going through. It’s something I consider to be one of my biggest assets as story-teller.

Everyone has a story.

So while I sit here getting ready to head South for Christmas and visit my growing family, it hits a little harder when things go wrong for a family in Edmonton and area, but I appreciate so much more the magic of the season.

I stop to enjoy all of the Christmas lights, and the trees, and the kids excited to meet Santa.

What’s your favourite Christmas memory?

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Dad and I. June 2008, six months after the crash.
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My family at the Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion event in Lethbridge
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Grandma, Mom and I at my college graduation the spring after my Dad’s accident.