Sunday, 24 July 2016

Conquer the Canuck 25k Trail Race report

   The Conquer the Canuck trail races were held on June 11 &12 at Shades Mills Conservation Area in Cambridge.  It was a weekend trail racing event, with racing options of 8.3k, 25k, Marathon, 50k and the 92.2k Ultimate Canuck.  I competed in the 25k trail race on Saturday morning, and had a great race.
   The course was an 8.3k loop that wound around the conservation area, passing the lake, and into the heavily-forested areas of the park.  I really enjoyed the course.  It brought back memories of racing at Shades Mills during high school cross country.  I remembered the major hill at 5.5k (I especially remember cursing it as I tried to drag myself up it in highschool XC races), this time, I took the hill at a much more relaxed and enjoyable pace - no cursing :)
Heading out for my last lap - feeling good.
Steve and I are happy to see Greg and the kids cheering for us during our 25k trail race at Shades mills Conservation area

Finishing the 25k in 2:00:51
   The race was 3 loops, my plan was to check out the course for the first lap.  In the second lap I was going to maintain a comfortably-hard pace, and I was going to push hard on my last lap.  When I got out there, I didn't end up following the plan.  I wasn't challenged for the women's title, so I just maintained my comfortably-hard pace for the entire race and ended up finishing 4th overall and first among the women in a time of 2:00:51.  The race felt great, and Greg and the kids were there to cheer me on.  It always feels good to see my family cheering me on as I run by.  After, the kids and I hung out in the lake.  This felt amazing on my legs, and the kids had a blast swimming with their clothes on.

Tessa chasing seagulls on the beach
It was so hot we were swimming in our clothes.  The kids had a blast.

This felt great on my post-race legs.  The kids joined me in the lake.

   The event was well organized and race director Tony Martin did a great job bringing back the Conquer the Canuck after a 10 year break.  All finishers received wine at the awards ceremony, and for finishing first female I was awarded a gift card for a local outdoors shop.  Thank you Adventure Guide for donating the prize.  Special thanks to Tony and his team of friendly volunteers for an enjoyable racing experience.  Thanks to my sponsors product sponsor CLIF bar.  I used razz shot energy gels during the race.  Thanks to my coach Derrick Spafford for preparing me for the race.  Next year, I look forward to Conquering the Canuck again.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

So much relief 6 years ago today


   6 years ago today was a surprise day full of relief, and lots of joy.  My middle daughter was born a month early after a very quick labour and delivery.  My pregnancy with her was challenging.  During early pregnancy, a very large hemorrhage formed between the uterine wall and the placenta - which threatened to detach the placenta. This led to me being on bedrest for 3 weeks, then restricted activities for the remainder of the pregnancy.  When the problem was first diagnosed, the odds were not great for the baby's survival, and I prayed and prayed that she would be on the positive end of the odds.   I was so grateful that she managed to keep growing, and remained healthy despite her placenta being threatened.  Even though the placenta stayed attached, the doctors spoke about an increased risk of premature delivery and were monitoring me closely.  The longer she stayed in, the better.  I was hoping to get to my due date of mid-August.

   On that hot Monday in July at 36 weeks, I noticed that I was having some cramping.  I called the doctor on call at the hospital and let him know.  He said that it was hot (and that was probably causing the cramps), and not to worry until the cramping starts to form a pattern.  I was noticing these cramps on and off all day, but they were really spaced apart and not too painful.  My sister-in-law was overdue with her baby at the same time, and she kept going to the hospital in false labour and getting sent home, so part of me thought that I was just hearing her stories, and having false labour too.

   Greg finished his workday, we had a bite to eat and I said that we should go to the hospital to just get checked out.  So we dropped our oldest daughter off with my parents and off we went.

   The next part of this story is a bit of a whirl wind.  Greg and I were sent to labour and delivery for an assessment and it was then that I learned that I was 8cm dialated and the baby was very low.  I panicked - the baby was going to be early, the doctor assured me that at 36 weeks, she'll likely need to stay a few days in hospital but odds are good that she'll be just fine (good odds this time - yay!).  The doctor broke my water at 7:16pm.  With 3 quick pushes -that I screamed through like you see in the movies:) my baby was born at 7:23pm.  She didn't cry and had some difficulty breathing, I held her for one quick photo, and she was whisked away to the special care nursery.  I told Greg to go with her, and I was left in the room, alone, suddenly not pregnant anymore and wondering how my baby was doing.  All in less than an hour after arriving at the hospital.  I made the phone calls to very shocked friends and family to let them know that my baby was here.  Then I wandered over to the nursery to see my baby - still in disbelief that she was actually here.  After months of worrying, July 19, 2010 was such a relief.  She made it, and when she was allowed out of the isolette, I would get to hold her.  Now, 6 years later, she's my spunky, strong-willed, passionate child who is such a joy to watch grow up.  Happy birthday sweetie!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Remembering Oscar -my always enthusiastic running buddy

Here comes a post that has been really hard to write.  Oscar died in the early hours of Monday June 20, 2016.  He was Greg and my first dog.  We adopted him from an animal shelter in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia while we were on our honeymoon and have shared the last 12 years with him.  Here's my goodbye letter.

   Dear Oscar,
   To my running buddy and faithful furry friend, Oscar.  12 years ago, I was so excited to get a dog.  Greg and I researched dog breeds, and had narrowed down a few that we thought would be a good fit for us.  Then, while driving past the Lunenberg SPCA building on one of our last days of our honeymoon, we stopped in for a look.  Um, well everything we read was completely ignored, as our hearts melted when we spotted you.  In the litter of extremely cute balls-of-fur at the Lunenberg SPCA, you are the one who ran right to me and jumped into my lap.  From that moment, I knew you were a special dog.  We weren't sure what breed you were, but from the markings - German Sheppard, and from the shape of your ears and head, and long legs we suspected Golden Retriever.  It didn't matter what breed you were, we fell in love and drove you home the next day.

   We shared so many runs together.  I would bring you to running practice with the Cambridge Harriers, and you were so excited to run with the group, that you would whine in the car as we approached the parking lot, then as the group gathered outside the cars, you had this amazing vertical leap that you would do whenever a new runner joined the waiting bunch.  It was hilarious.

   My running friends look back at your antics with huge smiles on their faces.  You really were a special dog.  We went on too many runs to count.  You were a very enthusiastic running buddy and loved leading the way.   Our last run together was on the snow-covered trails close to home during that April snowstorm this year.  You bounded through the snow with puppy-like enthusiasm.  It was a wonderful last run that we shared.
 My first student - I taught you to sit, stay, come, lay down, high five, speak, gently take food or treats, and to wait until I said "OK take it" to run for food.  You knew what "run" ment, and loved car rides because it ment we were going to go explore some trails together.

   You were there for the tough times.  You laid by the bed when I was on bedrest during my challenging pregnancy.  Putting your head on the bed trying to comfort me while I was terrified of losing the baby.  You were always there.  You welcomed each of my babies home, and were so gentle and protective of them.  On two occasions, while out for a run together, you bravely stood in between me and a charging, snarling dog.  You took a few bites for me, and luckily scared the other dogs off. It has always been very clear that you would do anything to protect me.  

   You were horrible to take to the beach - no one from our family could be in the water without you FREAKING out and wanting to rescue us.  You would bark non-stop from the shore, and if I let you loose you would sprint for whoever was in the water, and grab their wrist (or swimsuit) and attempt to pull Greg or the kids to shore.  Once while at a friends cottage, Greg got up early and took a canoe out on the lake.  He heard splashing a few minutes later, and there you were swimming behind the canoe, trying to rescue Greg....always making sure we were ok.  Thanks for that Oscar.

   Your exuberant love of life (and other dogs) became embarrassing at times.  Taking you to a dog park was problematic because of your need to show your doggie love to others.  You showed great endurance when you would hump other dogs, male, female it didn't matter.  You humped and humped and when the dogs left, you continued with a phantom air hump action that was just as embarrassing as the fiasco that preceded it.  I was advised on many occasions by frustrated dog owners who were watching their dog on the receiving end of a good hump, that I should neuter my dog.  I kindly explained that it's not advisable to neuter dogs more than once, and then apologized on my extra-feisty dog's behalf.  A month ago, I watched as you attempted to hump the cat.  Herman would have no part of that, so he swatted at you and ran away.  You were left to air-hump once again (which you happily continued). Oh my weird and wonderful Oscar.

   Thank you for the 12 amazing years.   You warmed our home and gave us endless love and laughs.  There is an unsettling quietness and empty feeling in our house without you there.  I miss seeing you at the door when I come home, with your clumsy full-body wag greeting.  You were such a good boy and I know you loved us so much.  When the time comes to welcome another wonderful dog into our lives, I know you will give her your, "hump of approval".  Love ya Osc.

The one who sneaks you all the table scraps when she cooks, talks to you like a human, and brings in lots of awesome smells on her running shoes.