Blah, Blah, Blah, Running

I was reminded by Andy yesterday morning that I had not written in nine days. That’s a lot more days than I normally let go by between posts. Lately though I’ve been thinking that all I had to talk about was blah, blah, blah, running… stairs… sore. There’s only so much you can write about running. Really though, that’s why I started this thing. So here we go with some blah blah running.

facebook

 
This week was hella cold, so James and I hit the indoor track at the Canada Games Centre on Monday for some non frigid running. It was nice to wear shorts I have to admit. I pretty much live in shorts once the temperature hits at least eight degrees in the spring until the cold temperatures thwart me in the Fall (Fall being early September here) and I’ve missed them. We did devil sprints for about 45 minutes and it was fun to run around the track fast(ish). One lap of walking between sprints was not enough to get my breathing back to normal, but even so every second lap was a hard run… except that one time I may have used the “distraction talk” technique to my advantage and talked about video games for a lap and a half until James said “wait, is this our second walking lap?” I put on my best innocent face and told him there was no way to know. I knew.

 
The next day we did a 5k at the track and it was my fastest run yet. I ran 5k in 37:26 which is an average pace of 7’28” per km. My fastest pace before this was 8’25” per km. Keep in mind that the track is flat and the air is warm and who knows exactly how accurate my fitbit is based on steps instead of GPS, but still that’s a lot damn faster! Almost a full minute per kilometer! After that run James condemned me to a 10k next week as I still had some life in me after that run. I should have looked more tired.

 
Wednesday the world was still frozen so I hunkered down at home for some strength training in my gym. I lifted my little heart out and then had trouble doing anything else with my arms for the next few hours.

 
Yesterday was the most frigid day of the week at –25C and I was back at the Games Centre to run with a new friend. I met Jody through the blog and I was stoked to meet her in person. We’ve been trying to hook up for a run for a couple of weeks and today it finally worked out. Turns out we’re great running buddies with a similar pace. I am definitely looking forward to running with her lots in the future!

 
So what else have I done this week? Well, I sat down to a Netflix 90’s show nerd marathon and gathered all the running magazines that I’ve collected for the last three months. I cut out my favorite photos and quotes and then rearranged and cleaned up my little gym downstairs and put all the photos up on the walls. It looks pretty awesome I must say. I plan to spend a lot of time in there this winter so I’m glad I’ve made it feel a little more like my place.

 
I ordered some winter running stuff from Sugoi and MEC last week and this week it came, which is pretty fast for mail in the Yukon. The Salomon tights I ordered from MEC came first and I was pretty excited about them… but they didn’t fit! Based on the measurements online I was sure they would fit so it was pretty disappointing. They also weren’t as insulated as I hoped they’d be, so they will be going back. This got me a little down to be honest. I’d been so excited to get some winter running stuff and I really need it too.

 
Then my Sugoi stuff came. I love Sugoi and I was really excited about it. I ordered the Subzero Zap tights for winter running and based on the measurements online I thought they’d be a little small. I ordered them to save them for the middle of the winter, but these ones FIT! Very exciting. I also got a nice running jacket. It’s a beautiful Ignite Shelter jacket and I love it, but need to shrink into a little. This time instead of getting me down, the jacket being a little small made me want to work on operation shrink into jacket ASAP. It was motivating instead of disappointing. I’m not sure why it was so different than the tights earlier the same day but it was. It was a rollercoaster of emotions… I don’t like emotions much, but I’m starting to get used to them.

ignite jacket

 
Now I’m back at work for a couple of rest days. It’s funny to look forward to work because you get to rest your aching body a little bit. I pretty much live in soreness now. I can’t remember a day in the past month that some part of my body or another wasn’t sore. Blah, blah, blah, ouch.

 
Next week I’m on to 10k at some point which I have been informed is 40 laps around the track. That’s a lot of laps with the same view. Hopefully my sparkling personality and cunning wit will get me through the monotony without going insane. I’ll let you know how it goes and try to remember to get a couple of pictures of the track.

 
Here’s to a warm, dry, flat 40 laps!

 
~PP

The Inaugural PPR Vlog

Today Alison and I completed the ceremonial dumping of the sand, and we videoed it. I hate pictures, and I hate videos even more. I was thinking there was a good chance I’d just keep this for myself. Then I realized that was the easy choice once again. It was a pretty cool experience and Alison’s idea to do this is amazing.

The video changes quality a couple of times because my phone decided it had enough of the cold and shut down in the middle of filming. So we switched to Alison’s phone which is in a derp proof case… probably an excellent idea. Perhaps a GoPro will be on my Christmas list if the vlogs continue (the vlogs will probably continue).

I woke up at 4am today and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was so excited about doing this. The vampire transformation has begun…

I hope you watch and enjoy our shenanigans.

The song is Naked by X Ambassadors. Partly because I love the song and partly because that’s how sharing a video makes me feel – naked… figuratively.

~PP

A Real Runner Now and Three Month Results

I started this blog last night. I was writing it on wordpress in a browser, like an idiot. Around midnight I had it 90% complete… and then my browser crashed and I lost it all. I growled, said “fuck this shit!!!!” and went to bed. So now, a day older and a little wiser I start again; this time in Word, like a genius.

This week started out for me with a stair session with the Ginga Ninja and Mister James. We did our half hour and my brain was in the “yay! I’m done!” zone. Then James asked me if I was just going home to assassinate, which is code for play video games. I was indeed going home to assassinate. He informed me that instead I would be staying for a full hour of stairs. He had another group coming right after us, unluckily for me. I stayed and suffered for another half hour while he made me do progressively more flights of stairs two at a time until the last time I went bottom to top double stairing it. That was Wednesday… my legs still hurt.

The next day I woke up after a post night shift nap to a delightful message from James telling me that it was a solo run day for me and that he was sure I’d get it done. I had planned a solo nap day. I thought about it as a good chance to try out the new Yak Trax that I had just bought so I got up and headed out around the neighbourhood. There is a big hill in the middle that has repeatedly defeated me. The first time I “ran” this route I had to stop four times to catch my breath while walking up it. I still can’t run it but at least I can walk up it without stopping now. I will slaughter that hill one day… soon.

The run was cold and windy and painful in the leg area, but when I got home it was the first time I felt like a real runner. I think it was because I really didn’t want to go and I was tired and hurting but I went anyway. Even though I walked the hill in the middle of the run when I got back I thought “I think I’m a runner now”. There’s always a bit of a debate of when a person can call herself a real runner. Some say it’s when you get out for your first run, others when you finish your first race… I think it’s when you feel like a runner and it’s different for everyone. The feeling finally happened for me and now I think I can call myself a runner.

Here’s my new Yak Trax. They are amazing! Your feet feel a bit heavier but the traction is pretty epic. FYI, running on snow is hard… not as hard as sand, but still pretty hard.

Yak2

YakTrax

The next day James wanted to run and it was the first time I had to tell him “I can’t”, which hurt me in the soul a little bit. I’ve tried very hard never to say that to him and just to suck up my “I can’ts” and do what he tells me to. But I could not. My legs were two pillars of soreness that would barely move forward after the hour of stairs followed by my first snow run. He gave me a choice between doing upper body at the gym and a walk. I totally chickened out of the gym (with lots of people with lots of eyes to see me) and choose a walk, which was lovely. But now I kind of feel like the old Kirstin was around that day and she chose that. If I could go back in time I’d chose the gym, because that was what I didn’t want to do; it was the hard choice. I chose the easy way once again and I regret it. I have to keep making the hard choices and next time I will choose differently. My legs regretted it too, even walking was pretty ouchy.

Yesterday Alison and I went to the Wildlife Preserve for another 5k run. It was actually the first time we’ve run together. We’ve worked out together and climbed stairs together and kickboxed together (so much fun!) but it was our first run… and my legs still hurt like mo fo’s. We strapped on our Yak Trax and hit the road. I was struggling pretty hard and was once again defeated by the hill… those damn hills. Truthfully I was defeated before the hill and we walked for a bit. The lynx were out for once though so that was pretty cool. I was convinced that my legs were done for the day but once we got to the top of the hill I told Alison that I was going to run from there to the end and I did it. We were having a good chat which was very helpful. Talking always distracts me from my misery fairly effectively.

I haven’t had the pain in my leg that had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, but when I woke up today there it was again. The same sharp pain in the exact same place just like a bitch. So I will ice it and tape it up and rest it if I need to and keep on keeping on… but it’s super annoying.

This week I’m hitting the weights. James says it’s time. I’ve had some success with Les Mills Pump in the past so I’m starting that again. It’s a 90 day strength program that I’ve achieved some good progress with twice… and then never bothered to finish. I’m great at starting shit, but my finish needs some serious work. This time I’m gonna rock it all the way to the end. Today is day 1 and I will fit it in around my runs, which will always be priority number one.


So! It’s been three months… what have I achieved?

I finally lost ten pounds! I stepped on the scale Saturday morning and when I saw I was at the ten I did a happy dance and yelled at Cameron immediately “I finally fucking lost ten pounds!!!”  He rejoiced with me and it was a good start to the day.

I also did some measurements and here are the happy results, which are actually even more exciting than the ten pounds. I must be packing muscle onto my legs because these results don’t make sense with only ten pounds lost otherwise. All the following losses are in inches.

  • Waist  -3
  • Tummy   -4
  • Hips   -3
  • Thigh -2 (on each leg!)
  • Arm   -1
  • Neck  -0.5

Here is an example of my running progress. On the left is a solo run in August shortly after I got my Fitbit. On the right is my best 5k run so far which was a couple of weeks ago.

progress

I’m really happy with all of those results. While progress has been slow with weight I’ve managed to look beyond that and see the change in how I look and my improvement in running as my main markers. Someone that I haven’t seen in a couple months walked into my lair at work the other day and immediately said “holy shit Kirstin are you losing weight?  You’re fading away!” That felt pretty damn good.

In three months I’ve gone from deep rut to real runner. I’m starting to think of food as fuel and not just yummy yum yums. My brain is in the right place and my feet are firmly on the road.

This week Alison and I are going to haul ten pounds of sand up and down the stairs for a while and then dump it out at the top in celebration of my ten pound loss. It was her amazing idea and we plan to do it every ten pounds I lose until I reach my goal. Hopefully there will be a big old pile of sand up there soon… we just have to find some sand that isn’t currently frozen. I keep bringing my phone to runs and stairs and forgetting to take pictures. I will not forget at the 10 pound celebration though… I will not.

Stay awesome!

~PP

Jedi and Padawan – A Running Tale

kirstandjames

My Jedi and I had an interesting run. Everyone has limits and Friday, James reached his. I will outline the picture for you and then let James colour it in.

It was a day after I did stairs and we had a millennium trail 4.2k loop planned in the afternoon. In the morning James asked me if I would keep up with him if he wore full fire gear and weights totaling 100 pounds. Last time he wore gear he was wearing 92 extra pounds and I was still falling behind. That was only last Tuesday. I told him that while I’d like to say “hell yes” I had to settle for “I’ll do my absolute best and hope so.”

On Tuesday I was between night shifts and very tired both in the brain and the body. It was a miracle I made it around that trail without stopping to walk. Friday I felt exactly the opposite. The sun was out and even giving off a little warmth. The sun always makes me happy. I had a case of stair legs from the day before but I still felt good, full of energy and excited for a run. James was coming straight from a hard stair session. In fact he got a new PR of 36 seconds to the top of the stairs beating his previous record by 4 seconds. Let me remind those of you who have never been there what these stairs look like.

stairs

Thirty-six effing seconds.

So with that considered and feeling good I thought I might have a chance to keep up. James put on his weight vest and fire gear and had to load up his jacket pockets with weights to reach that 100 pound mark. He wanted 100 because that was where I started and he wanted to know what it felt like to run with the challenges and discomfort I face, which is pretty damn cool.

We set out. He was breathing hard right away. This time though, instead of the satisfaction I felt last time from knowing James was human, I was a little worried… and I don’t generally worry. About anything. After 1km-ish I had 100% Medic brain. I couldn’t stop asking him if he was ok… I think I asked him about 10 times and that was half as many times as I wanted to ask. He assured me that he was in the zone and it was all a mental game. It seemed like a physical game to me. I didn’t know a person could breathe like that for so long and keep going. It made me think that as hard as feel like I push myself, a person can push harder; can push harder. I thought about how my legs were sore for a total of two seconds before my mind went back to him and getting him around the trail alive. I told him his legs were strong.

I didn’t think about myself again for the rest of the run. It must be how he feels when he runs with me or any of his other clients who’s fitness level is so far below his own. There’s a fine line between pushing someone farther than they think they can go but really can go, and pushing them too far. I realized I didn’t know how to walk that line for someone else. I had to trust him to know where his limit was, because I most certainly did not.

We ran for another two kilometers, I worried for another two kilometers. He was obviously hurting, and at about 3km he found his limit. We stopped, James breathed. We walked for a bit and he was still hurting. I asked him how much his air tank weighed. He said it was about 35 pounds. I told him to give it to me. After some protest I managed to get the tank from him on the condition that I had to run with it on. I put it on and it felt pretty heavy. But it still wasn’t even taking half the extra weight he was carrying. So I sucked it up and we started running which was hard, but I was doing it. We didn’t last long before James was done. We walked the rest of the way. I tried to take the weights out of his pockets but he wouldn’t let me. Eventually he told me to give him his tank back. I asked him if he was one thousand percent sure he was ok and really wanted it back and he said he was. I called him a liar, but I gave it back anyway. We made it back to the parking lot and once he got his gear off we sat in the sun for a few minutes reflecting.

James told me that this would make an interesting blog entry. I told him I didn’t think I’d write about it and that I thought he should instead. And he did. Obviously I ended up writing about it too, but I didn’t know what he was thinking and feeling and that is a vital party of this story.

So, here are some words from James.


Its somewhat ironic that the first blog entry I write is about personal defeat, rather than victory.

As a personal trainer who prides himself on never quitting, leading by example and working in areas that are otherwise uncomfortable to most people, it is difficult for me to start here. However, as a part of my journey to be better than I was yesterday while learning more about fitness leadership, I will agree with Kirstin that writing this narrative as my first blog entry is not just a good idea, it is necessary. And yes, it is uncomfortable.

I push hard. I am inspired to push hard because of various moments in my life, good and bad, that have shaped me. I haven’t always been like this, but I have always been fairly extreme. Most of the life changing lessons I have learned come from mistakes I’ve made working as a firefighter and a fire chief for various small departments. Like everyone else, these moments have made me the guy I am today, and I am thankful for all the lessons I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn today.

The other day I attempted to run a 4.2 km course with “My Princess”. I carried with me some extra weight in an attempt to replicate the challenge similar to what she must face, or anyone for that matter, attacking fitness for the first time against tremendous odds. The weight was not important. Nor was the distance really. The fact was, I was determined to push myself to a breaking point and keep going.

Beginning the run, I felt great, although a little tired from a workout I had just completed 30 minutes prior. I had done this same distance a week before with just slightly less weight and so I knew it the task was completable, with determination. But it certainly would be a test.

I told myself the usual motivating quotes to get through the workout… ” No one else can do this”; “This is what I do… no other hobbies; just run with a ton of shit on my back”; “there is no other place I would rather be right now!” For the most part, that worked.

I was beginning to break down fast. My spine felt like it was going to snap in half. The lead vest under the air pack was banging against my vertebrae and I could feel a bruise developing. Kirstin then asked if she could carry my gear. I knew she was in full Paramedic mode watching out for me, listening to me breath, as in between gulps of air I made various funny noises struggling under the weight. I told her, in the most steady voice I could muster, that was normal and that I had been here before. Which I had.

Then at about 3/5ths of the way through the course, I stopped. I just stopped.

I couldn’t believe it. I quit an exercise a year ago and it affected me for weeks! And I had just quit again! Its strange; when I quit a workout, I dwell on it.

Hunched over trying to straighten my spine, and again she asked if she could carry my pack – a Scott NXG-7 System with Carbon Fibre 4500psi bottle rated for 60 minutes; equivalent to about 35 lbs.

I was stunned for a second and agreed. I gave it to her, gladly.

After a minute or so of walking, weight vest and 4 sets of ankle weights still crushing my spine, I had a shameful thought. Here I am; the fire department fitness trainer, Special Operations, assigned to help people get fit, and I am the one being helped. I wanted to take the NXG Pack back immediately, Harden the Fuck up, and move out.

As time went on, I was mostly consumed by my selfish thoughts; feelings of disappointment and embarrassment. But at the same time, I was very proud of my Princess for taking the additional burden off my shoulders. The unexpected benefit of my failure while trying to feel what she and others must feel, and push though that discomfort, was that she was now the leader, protecting me. She was not concerned with her own pain, ability or inability and was solely focused on me. She had taken on the responsibility of carrying my gear; something I haven’t let anyone do since I was 17. She essentially was carrying me.

As we emerged from the forest trail, I demanded my pack back. I was too embarrassed to have her carry it where others could see. I’m ashamed at this request now as I reflect back on the moment. I should have allowed her to carry it the distance. Kirstin had earned the right to carry the weight the rest of the way; I had not.

She knew it was important to me and returned it for me to finish off the course, walking.

What did I learn from this experience? Quitting sucks – I knew that from last years failure. Most human beings have breaking points. But just because you quit the workout, doesn’t mean you give up. Perhaps giving up is even worse than quitting. Giving up to me means, you’ll never do it again. Yes, I quit the workout, but I won’t give up. I’ll go at it again when I’m ready. I also learned that it’s great to see people I help take the leadership role. That’s really awesome. Also, to accept help when offered and to have the humility to be thankful for it.

I’m not afraid of failure and I’m not afraid of finishing last; I am afraid of quitting. One of my heroes, Rich Froning once said “I Failed, is 10 times more of a man than someone who said, What If” . I believe that. I will attempt this run again soon. I may fail again. But at least I tried. And my partner, my Princess will be there to support me as I will continue to support her on this journey of ours! And together, we may fail and fall a few times, but ultimately, we will accomplish our goals together! I am proud she has chosen me to join her on this journey.

~J


When I read that I had already written my part of this blog except this one paragraph. It made me a bit sad that he was beating himself up so much, but very proud that he did something uncomfortable for him and wrote about it for me. Just last week we were talking about some run or another and he told me that I’d get used to being uncomfortable while I’m working with him and that it builds character. Obviously, he walks the walk.

James has been dragging me through runs for almost two months now. I make him talk to me when I’m tired, he is constantly encouraging me and making sure I’m ok. He carries my phone and my keys when I have no pockets and my gloves when my hands get too hot. Now I finally got to carry something for him, to encourage him, to make sure he was ok. It was awesome.

It made me want to push my limits and find out what they are. It made me want to go farther and faster and harder. It made to want to stop fucking around with my nutrition and get it right, and I’ve done it since that day.

I wouldn’t trade that run for a run that went well, or even one that was great. I wouldn’t trade it for a personal record pace that was a minute faster than my last time. It wouldn’t have learned so much from it, and I wouldn’t remember it like I will this one.

So here’s to James, my Jedi! When he is weak, he is still strong, and I feel so lucky to know him, and run with him, and learn from him.

~PP

IMG_0139

When You Can’t Sleep, Blog!

countingsheep

It doesn’t happen to me too often but it is one of those nights when sleep is elusive. I was lying in bed and my brain wouldn’t shut up. Getting up and writing seemed like a good alternative.

Last night Jenna and I went to the gym and the pool again. I did 25 minutes on the rowing machine and I can feel in in my back and shoulders today. I really like that thing. We went to the pool after and it was busier than last time. I wanted to get the eff out of there when I saw it was busy, but Jenna wasn’t having that and we got to swimming. After we finished 40 minutes of lengths we hopped in the lazy river to float around in it for a minute. It turns out that the lazy river is not so lazy, that sucker moves! We ended up laughing our faces off for 20 minutes while acting like children. It was awesome.

Today I was back at the stairs with quite a few friends. I wanted to get a photo of all of us but I forgot and I’m kicking myself for it because it was a great group. I did six (I think) sets of stairs in 30 minutes. I forgot to start my watch at the beginning of the workout so I can’t say for sure. It was either six or seven, although seven is a little hard to believe since my record before today was five. But either way, improvement! One of the guys was trying to be super encouraging but every time he told me something it was less than helpful. Here’s one example –  “don’t worry, it gets easier. Well, no it doesn’t actually, you just get faster. It doesn’t ever get easier.” He got a sarcastic “thanks” for that little gem. He was super nice and encouraging though, and I appreciated the effort if not the execution. I reminded myself that I called him (along with James) “Satan’s Minion” in the blog after my first stair session and gave him a pass.

After the stairs today and a lot of assassinating people (while playing Assassin’s Creed) I was pretty beat. We went to bed at about 9:30 and I thought I’d fall asleep right away. I even said to Cam that going to bed when you’re super tired is the very best part of the day… but it didn’t work out for me. My brain wouldn’t shut up. I was thinking about workouts, and whether I’ll be able to run tomorrow or be walking instead due to stair legs from today. Then I thought about what I was going to do on the weekend. That led to thinking about next week and fitting in my runs around work… then how I can get some exercise done at work between calls but without getting down on a gross ambulance station floor or getting too sweaty. I did not find a solution.

I thought about my nutrition and how if I get that shit on track the pounds and inches will hopefully start melting away even faster than they already are. I thought about all the clothes I have tucked away that will fit me soon… and how I don’t have any smaller running gear waiting so I’ll have to get new stuff as I shrink, and that was exciting.

Usually putting on my sleepy time playlist works so I fired up the music… which made me remember that I left my guitar in my locker at work and that I need to remember to pick it up tomorrow… then what songs I’m working on and what new songs I want to learn. Then what song I would sing if I was told I had to sing my last song ever. I thought about that for a while; I couldn’t decide.

So I started counting sheep… which made me think about knitting and what projects I’m planning for this winter and what I want to get started asap for Christmas. I decided to go the knitting store tomorrow, then I got excited about that.

Finally I said “fuck this!” and got up. So now you know a little bit more about how my crazy brain works, I’ve had a bowl of frozen blueberries and now I’m off for a midnight hot tub and then hopefully to sleep!

Here’s to Z’s!

~PP