farmer runner

I will be happy if running and I can grow old together…

Instagram would have you believe that running is only for those who get to take pictures on the top of mountains or after getting a medal at a race…  Saskatchewan farmer runners know better…

in Saskatchewan there are only two marathons… one in the spring in Saskatoon and one in the fall in Regina… I have to drive 2 hours to get to one and 4 hours to get to the other…  so ‘Medal Monday’ is not a realistic thing for most of us farmers…  also, mountains tops…  not an option… dirt road selfies anyone?

the solitude of running here is something that I have made peace with… it has made running very personal and my ‘why’ behind running has to be for myself… no one else knows what I am doing or sees where I am going…

when I was younger and I discovered sports – most importantly basketball – the feeling of running up and down the court, sweating – with my face turning purple… that feeling was the closest I had to knowing myself…  it was the most comfortable I have ever been in my own skin…  (although a purple face might not look comfy – believe me I was right where I needed to be)

orange, black bean quinoa salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup corn (I use frozen)
  • 1 can black beans, strained and washed
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1-2 oranges, segmented
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • avocado (optional)

Dressing:

  • 4 tbsp lime juice (1-2 limes)
  • zest of one lime
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 4 tbsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:

  • begin with the quinoa by rinsing 1/2 cup dry quinoa in a strainer and then add to 1 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil… when it is boiling, turn heat down and put on lid… cook for 15 minutes until done
  • add the other salad ingredients to a bowl and add the quinoa when cooked
  • shake together the dressing ingredients and pour over
  • chill in the fridge before serving

then when I moved out to the farm and had my kids, I just took care of them and the farmer and forgot how good it feels to be depleted, sore and sweaty…  when I first started running again, the fatigue in my legs felt like a welcome old friend…

I love dogs… they love running with me and we can experience flying around together, the breeze in our face and the sun beating down on our backs…

and when we return to our yard and I watch them happily lay in the shade I think to myself that they get it… they get how great it is to travel somewhere on your own 2 or 4 feet

find someone that loves seeing you purple in the face, sweating and exhausted and you know you have found the right person…

I made the farmer come watch me play basketball when I was in college… I think I needed him to see me in my happiest state of being… no makeup, no hair done up nice, no nice clothes on to hide who I truly am…  (oh wait – that is how I looked in college)

running strips that all away from you… it strips you of your pretences and the image you are trying to create for yourself and you feel pretty naked and vulnerable… it exposes how determined and positive you are…  you cannot run well and at the same time tell yourself that you suck…  I’ve tried… you have to be kind to yourself…

if you ever are starting to doubt human character, you need to go watch the finish line of a marathon… (set your calendars if you are in Saskatchewan – there are only two of them)… better yet, the Beaver Flat 50 is this weekend – go watch the finish line of an Ultramarathon and you will believe in the human spirit again…  you will see tears, love, support, courage, compete, and community…

you can’t be cool and run… you can’t be pretty and run… you can’t hide anything and run…  you see someone for exactly who they are… and it is beautiful…

I’ve watched parents this time of year at cross-country meets sobbing as they see their little ones running around and it begs the question… why does running bring that out?  I think the answer is determination…  when little Junior’s lungs and legs are screaming, it is their brain that has to decide to keep pushing

one of my favourite movies growing up was Chariots of Fire…  my family watched it over and over again…

the line that always stuck in my head was when Eric Liddell says “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

beef and olive empanadas

Ingredients:

Pastry:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg of cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Filling:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup green olive, sliced
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • hot sauce to taste
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • water

Directions:

  • for the pastry – process butter, cream cheese and cream in the bowl of an electric mixer… add flour and salt and mix just until combined and dough holds together in a ball… turn the dough onto a well-floured surface… divide into three pieces… flatten into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but ideally overnight…  take out 15 minutes before rolling if chilled overnight
  • for the filling – heat oil in a pan and add onion and bell pepper and salute for 3-4 minutes… add the beef and strain when it is done cooking to remove the fat…  place back in pan and add the olives, raisins, syrup, salt, pepper, cumin and hot sauce…  cool completely in the refrigerator
  • dust a rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out… using a 4 inch circle cutter, cut the disks…  scoop around 2 tbsp of the filling into the center fo the dough circle…  wet the edge of the dough with a finger, turn over and crimp edges with a fork or folding over in a decorative pattern
  • place on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with saran wrap and place in refrigerator… (or I froze mine)
  • when ready to bake, brush egg yolks/water mixture over them and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes (a bit longer if frozen but cook from frozen)
  • let rest and serve with lime wedges

now I’m not running at any paces that would make someone feel pleasure to watch… but I relate to this quote for how it feels inside of me…   we were made to run… your body knows that and when you run, you are rewarded

there is also pie…  you could reward yourself with pie

I will be happy if running and I can grow old together… 

cougar sighting

recently I was able to go on a trip to Squamish, BC… my teenage boys referred to it as an ‘old ladies hiking trip’...  I of course was picturing it in my mind more like an expedition to Everest and I packed accordingly

I booked this trip way back in January when the farmer was on a wild boar hunting trip in Texas…  I was so upset that first of all, the companies that take farmers on trips seem to believe that it is just the male farmer that deserves a bonus…  the female farmer should get nothing…  secondly, I was of course upset that it was a hunting trip when from what I saw from pictures no one was starving and they didn’t even eat what they were killing…

in a fit of indignation and rage, I searched some hiking trips, found one in Canada (as I thought my first solo trip should not be too far away) and booked it… this would be my first trip by myself and I was nervous that I would miss the farmer too much to enjoy myself…  I realize this might sound pathetic but when you have spent 20 years with someone as your travel companion and best friend, you tend to only imagine situations with them in it…  I really couldn’t imagine enjoying myself without him…

I should also add that I am terrible in airplanes…  I like to picture myself in a giant aluminum can hurdling through the air only seconds away from everything breaking down and plummeting to my painful death… and I won’t medicate myself for fear that if there was a bad crash I would be too ‘out of it’ to do something to save myself…  not sure what exactly I would do, but I’ve watched all of the Mission Impossible movies so I do have a few tricks up my sleeve…

once I was finally on the ground and in Squamish it turned into one of the best things I have ever done…  I was nervous to meet my roommate – yes, they give you a roommate – but that all went well and once the hiking began it was all I had hoped it would be…

we apparently were in bear country but no one seemed overly concerned about this…  secretly I was wishing I had packed a gun in my backpack like the farmer took on his trip…  but I had been too judgemental of him so I was forced to walk defenceless along the pine needle paths…

this is when we came upon a sign warning us of another predator in the area… the cougar…  this terrified me more than a bear… well maybe the same… I basically was constantly afraid

one of the younger girls on the trip found it humorous that I was taking a picture of the cougar sign and decided to pipe up with…

“well now there are two of you out here”

I looked behind me to see what old lady in spandex she was referring to so I could laugh along with her about her funny Cougar joke…  then a sickening feeling came over me…  she might be referring to me… I might be the Cougar… 

surely I was mistaken…  it couldn’t be me…  after going through my twenties having babies and raising kids in my early thirties, I finally was starting to feel like I was doing things for myself again and feeling great about myself…  so I surely am not old enough to have a joke said about me of this nature???

I laughed it off and decided I would google it later to see if I qualify for cougar age…  I knew I wasn’t single and on the ‘hunt’ so I couldn’t be considered a cougar unless something terrible happens to the farmer…

that evening when I googled ‘how old is a cougar?’, the first thing that came up was 8 signs that a woman is a cougar…

1- 40 years of age (one year away)

2- very concerned with face and skin (nope)

3- physically active and in shape (try to be)

4- trendy, form-fitting clothing, usually a bit adventurous for her age (solid yes)

5- enough money to provide for herself (again, yes)

6- not a party animal (oh no I’m a cougar)

7- knows what she wants in a younger man and not afraid to approach them (gross, I have a teenager who stinks like cat urine… no thank you)

8- looking for real, long-term relationships with younger men (wrong – looking for an older gentleman who is rich and on his deathbed)

if there was one thing this list did for me, it was to make me even more depressed about turning 40 next year…  at least now I could tell this younger girl “hey, wait a second there missy, I’m still in my thirties”

next year I will have to retort with “I’m married and not on the prowl” 

I do have to admit, sometimes my clothing choices are a bit ‘adventurous’ for my age…  after summiting the mountain and feeling like I was freezing to death, I wrapped an emergency blanket around myself for the climb down… it was useful for tobogganing down the glacier snow and also for frightening bears and fellow cougars in the area…

my last piece of evidence that I am not a cougar and never will be is this picture…  would a cougar go cross-eyed screaming down a bike path???  certainly not…

lastly – if women over 40 are cougars, what are men over 40? perhaps I need to do another google search…

beaver flat 50k

have you ever watched so many YouTube videos that you convince yourself you are capable of doing something?  only to discover it was substantially easier to watch YouTube videos than actually go out and do it?

the first hint that I should not have been attempting a 50 km trail run that involved 8000 feet of elevation should have been the fact that it was 50 km with 8000 feet of elevation

the second hint was that I had not ran in a month…  I hurt my knee running a marathon in Edmonton a month ago (in my trail shoes because I stupidly thought I should break them in for this trail run I was training for) and was in a shocking amount of pain… took some time off and then did some yoga and pilates but no running…

the third hint, other than a month long ‘taper’ of nursing a knee injury, was how I was popping Aleve and Advil pills like they were Pez candies… building up my tolerance so that on race day no amount of pain killers would dent the knee pain…

the fourth hint was my inexperience with ‘mountaineering’… just because you can run does not mean you can run up and down hills…

but I naively thought that 50 km is just 8 km farther than a marathon, which I knew I could hobble/shuffle through just fine…  so I found myself getting up at 4:15 am on Saturday, taping my knee up, getting in my vehicle and nervously heading off…

*** side note: just when I am feeling like a champ for being on the road at 5 am on a Saturday, I meet roughly 18 vehicles in the first few miles of my drive…  could people please stop working so hard so I can at least feel good about myself for one day?

this is my running buddy…  Jocelyn…  she had ran two marathons this year and I had ran a 10 km, half marathon and marathon so we thought we knew what we were getting in for…  she even planned on working her night shift after we knocked this ‘jog in the hills’ out of the park…

the run is called Beaver Flat 50lesson learned, when attempting a race for the first time, perhaps start with a shorter distance and work your way up…  or even work at the race as a volunteer and then do it the next year…  

this is us at 8 am…  misguided confidence written all over our smiling faces…

(we were also just happy to not be near the six port-a-potties… as you can imagine, when you are heading out for a potential 6-10 hour run with only one bathroom stop, the smell of the outhouses was somewhere between music festival bathrooms and a feedlot)

the race directors ask you to please file off in what you would determine to be your skill level, as it is a single lane trail and you don’t want to be holding faster runners back…

I found this very confusing due to the fact I was not sure exactly what I was looking for in comparing myself to other runners…  it reminded me of gym class in elementary school when you are picking a team…

am I looking for gender, height, weight, type of hydration backpack, age, choice of running shoes, size of quads and calves, general sense of confidence…

we filed in and tried our best to not be in the way

the beginning part of the race, after the big initial climb, was relatively flat and this is when my knee was still feeling half decent and I thought we should be maintaining a 9 minute mile pace…  we ended only going at about a 12 minute mile pace… 

Jocelyn had some stomach issues gurgling up at the beginning and by the time we arrived at the second aid station she had decided the solution was to down a glass of pickle juice… I have never seen anybody drink pickle juice before so this was a delightful experience for me to watch… I’m not sure if that is what solved it for her but she eventually got feeling better…

for someone like me who cooks for others all week long, the aid stations were the highlight of the run for me…  pb&j tortillas, potato chips, peanut m&m’s, gummy bears, pickles, pepperoni sticks, coke, electrolyte drinks, water, gels… you name it they had it

there are so many questions I have about trail running… such as, should you aim for a certain pace or just try to run with what the terrain allows you to do?

with the way my knee was, Jocelyn and I ended up passing each other on every hill…  I would power hike the hills, with my hands on my knees, and then shuffle/run at the top and either slide on my butt or gingerly tiptoe down the hill, while she would blow by me…  after doing this for hours on end we got into a certain rhythm with it!

the hills were dry and sandy with just the right amount of cactus to stab your hands and butt with…  then at the bottom were these soggy swamp areas, where your whole foot would sink under… (especially if you were at the back of the pack like we were!)

soon I realized I was going to have to make a decision if I could finish the race… they had advised us that the 33 km aid station was a good place to drop out of the race if you needed to…

so as we were coming into there I had made my mind up I was done… I’d have to come back a different year and attempt it…

I told the volunteers there I was done and sat down… Jocelyn went to use the bathroom and a girl we had been racing with came and offered me some ‘biofreeze’ gel for my knee…  she told me to change my socks and see if I felt better before I quit…

Jocelyn got back and I asked her what she was going to do… ‘keep going’ she said

I said ok and off we went… the biofreeze felt great on my knee for the first while and I felt a surge of strength and could run again…

this was gone by the time we rolled into the last aid station…  they told us 6 km to go… this is when Jocelyn caught her second wind and we left the aid station feeling excited and relieved that all this was going to be over soon!

and then we ran for another hour and a half...

this is when I hit my wall…  and sobbed…  we had three major ascents and descents left in the last 6 km and I cried my way down every one of them…

the wind had picked up and it was raining

for the final descent I had Jocelyn go ahead of me and put my hands on her shoulders and she guided me down…

as we crossed the finish line, it was a feeling of survival, accomplishing the impossible and relief…

one thing I did discover…  yes, we were not ready for the race… mentally perhaps (due to extensive YouTube watching and Jocelyn’s ability to push through anything)… but physically we were not quite where we should have been…

but those volunteers and race directors are just so excited to see you finish it… no matter what place you come in… in fact, the ones that are out there four hours longer than winner might be more exciting to see come in because you are so happy they can finally quit!

the girl that helped me came in after us and her husband was there to hug her… they were so cute and happy… and he looked relieved to see she was alive…

he mentioned to us that he had been watching so many others cross and everyone looked to be in so much pain he wondered why anyone would want to do this…

 I said ‘other than it being one of the sexiest sports out there, it is because we are curious to see if we can do it

as we were giggling hysterically at our ruined shoes, our blisters and the sheer amount of time we were out there for … we realized we both still had to drive two hours home…

and to top it all off Jocelyn locked the keys in her vehicle

doesn’t get a whole lot more glamorous than this

interesting people find life interesting… and this is why I love the running community so much…  everyone has their reasons to be out there but everyone that I meet is so generous, kind, encouraging and excited about life…

they want to know what your next adventure is going to be and they want to see you accomplish it…  I have loved competition my whole life and I finally found a way to compete in a friendly, non-hostile way… and that is through running…

depressed enough to run?

have you ever been bored or lonely and thought to yourself, ‘I should have a baby’… and then you get pregnant and you are like ‘oh my word, what have I done’…

similar to getting a puppy…  you are having an ‘off’ day and decide a puppy will fix it…  then you spend most of your spring/summer taking your three dogs to the vet to get porcupine quills removed… and your morning ritual is scooping poop and watching your grass and flower beds fall into ruin…

this is how I stumbled into running

it all started with a little bout of post-pardum depression after having my second son Ethan…  which is odd, because if you know the temperaments of my two sons, you would have put your money on the first go around at motherhood to be the fall into depression, not the second…

but depression is a tricky thing…  you never know when, where or why it shows up and bam… you decide running will fix it…

and running did help with the overall chaos and tribulations of early motherhood…  just to clarify, by running I mean I would head out for perhaps a 2 mile jog and follow it up with ice cream as a reward for my efforts…

as it is with any worthwhile addiction, you begin to not be happy with 2 mile runs followed by ice cream and you start to need more…

10 years later I find myself just completing my second half marathon, then a full marathon and less than a month away from a 50 km trail race…

right smack dab in the middle of harvest…

the fun part I’ve found about races, is signing up for them…  I love plugging them into my calendar and feeling like I have something important going on in my life…

the terrible thing about races is running them… this I found out during the 3 hours,48 minutes and 18 seconds it took me to complete my first marathon in Edmonton yesterday…

my son Ethan – the one that sent me into depression and thus running – thought that I should take his Go-Pro and document my adventures during the race… seeings how this is my third race ever, I didn’t think I was qualified to be videoing myself…

instead I’ll try to give a quick recap on my experience with running my first marathon…

  1. having 10 weeks of training (after running the half/marathon) and only 300 miles under my belt, I felt I should dive into a marathon as part of my training schedule – so I signed up on Monday to run the race on Sunday and booked my flight to my brother’s house
  2. I arrived in Edmonton and blessed my sister-in-law by breaking up her Saturday night plans and allowing her the pleasure of coming and grabbing me at the airport instead
  3. no time for chit-chat, I took over my 16 year old nephew’s bedroom, demanding fresh linens and a fan, and headed off to sleep at 9:30 pm
  4. I awoke, confused at 2:45 am, then again at 3:50, followed by 4:20 and then finally at 5:15 at which time I made sure my brother was up to make me coffee (it was his last day to sleep in before work started up again for him on Monday… but I could sense he was more excited about my race than sleep)
  5. I told my brother how important it was for runners to have a bowel movement before running a marathon…  he was thrilled to know this information…
  6. at 6:15 am we got in his car and drove to downtown Edmonton and the race began
  7. following the race, I only had time for a quick shower before my brother had to rush me back to the airport and tell me it was great that I came to town for a visit… I told him – you are welcome – and we parted ways the way we always do… without hugging… 
  8. I really never asked them if they wanted to do anything else on their weekend… I was too busy preparing for the race, racing and recovering from it… which makes you wonder if runners are narcissists as well as depressed

  1. Start of Race – the announcer had everyone who was running their first marathon  hold up their hand…  I did along with a few others and then I proceeded to tell a few runners around me that if they wanted to stick close to me I could pace them…  I feel like their laughter was more nervous and polite than sincere…
  2. Mile 6 – I felt wonderful for these first miles…  like my feet were barely touching the ground and the early morning light was so lovely…  I had settled into a comfortable 8:00/mile pace and was grouped behind two Oriental couples and another older couple (not sure what race… I was pretending they were German)… I thought it was wise to surround myself with older people who perhaps knew what they were doing due to the fact that if they didn’t, they might die out there…
  3. Mile 13.1 – we had looped back and were running past where the race had began…  at this point I was holding an 8:20/mile pace and was thinking to myself… ‘wouldn’t mind ending the race right now… half marathons seem like the smarter way to go’
  4. Mile 18 – my hips had started to go…  my pace had slowed to 8:44/mile and I was starting to look around at other runners to see if they looked like they were in as much pain as I was… I was only walking at the water stations (mostly because I can’t drink and run at the same time) but every time I stopped to drink it was a mental game to get my legs running again… also, I had never run longer than 18 miles in my training so I was fearful what my legs/body were going to do after this mark
  5. Mile 22 – the craziest thing had happened…  my pace had slowed again to 9:08/mile but I had felt for the first time in the latter part of the race what some might call a ‘runner’s high’…  (which, to my understanding, means you are in so much pain your mind separates from your body and you feel like you are in a state of bliss… while you permanently damage your knees and hips) I believe part of this ‘high’ was due to the playlist the farmer had made for me…  it was a streak of 6 songs that were excellent to run to…  I was all smiles to the crowds on the side, encouraging other runners, even a few high fives were thrown around…
  6. Mile 24 – the good music had ended and my hips, knees and feet hurt so much I actually contemplated either walking the rest of the way or quitting… the smiles and high fives were a distant memory and looks of pain and contempt had replaced them…  all I could think at this point was ‘marathons are a test of who can endure the most pain’… every step took all of my mental power to get my legs to do it…  I was looking down and willing myself to keep moving forwards through the pain…  I looked up to see a guy dressed as a TeleTubby with a sign that read ‘3 km to go’ and I almost cried…
  7. Mile 26.2 – when I saw the finish line, it was like someone had picked me up and was carrying me to it…  the crowd was cheering and probably thinking how awful it looks to run a marathon…  all I could think was if I get there, I can stop running

 

a few things I learnt from running my first marathon:

watching countless YouTube videos on running ultra’s and marathon’s does not translate into running them well…

I think you get better the older you get and the more you do – I could not believe the amount of older people rocking the marathon…

you should not wear your trail running shoes to run 26.2 miles on pavement

if you are used to running on gravel and dirt roads, the pavement is going to hurt your body in ways you never dreamt it could…

don’t be offended if your brother and his family bring you an extra change of clothes because they were truly worried you would soil yourself while running and they were not about to let you get in their vehicle with poopy shorts on…

you will claim after finishing that you will never do that again in your life…  but similarly to babies and puppies, you will find yourself a few weeks later on the internet, looking up races and thinking it’s a great idea to get another race booked on your calendar…

 

chickpea protein bites

two things get me out of bed in the morning…  well, other than the need to pee, my phone alarm beeping, the farmer getting a little too ‘handsy’, the need for 4 glasses of water, children to feed and pack lunches for and two dogs to kick out of the porch…

but there are two main things that excite me the most…  (apologizes to the ‘handsy’ farmer)

food… cooking, creating, eating…

and running...

(or other forms of exercising… weights, pilates, yoga… as long as I am sweating by the end of it)

so today was just about the perfect day...  I woke up knowing I was going to attempt my fourth try at a recipe I had been tweaking that a friend had sent me…

and I was going to get a run in on my treadmill while watching Netflix…

describe to me a better day… please try…

in my mind the best recipes involve fantastic ingredients…  the Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt bar is hands down the best chocolate bar out there…

and this raw almond butter is so good you don’t want the taste to ever leave your mouth…

I have three active kids in the house along with a farmer and myself who are attempting to eat well lately, so the food I’m making needs to taste good and provide sufficient fuel for the day…

we were going through so many protein bars, I figured I’d make a homemade version of a protein bar...

something I could have as a snack that would not only quench my sweet tooth but feel good in my belly and power me through my run while watching Grace and Frankie...

this was the epiphany I had… putting the chickpeas, maple syrup, almond milk, almond butter and vanilla in the Vitamix...  the consistency it beats it up into is perfection…

a few years back I came across a chocolate chip chickpea cookie recipe that changed my life… well my kids lunch kit life really…

so you can understand the level of excitement that flooded over me when my friend sent me a brownie recipe with chickpeas!

this is easily the best way I have ever incorporated chickpeas into my baking…

transfer the wet mixture to a bowl and fold in the brown rice flour, baking powder and chia seeds to bind it…

place in a greased square baking dish and think to yourself of all the power foods you just put into a brownie pan!!!

this is when the chocolate comes in… you might notice one square is missing… I attribute this to having to go to Parent Teacher Interviews last night and needing to make myself not feel like such a failure when I got home…

chocolate with salt has a way of making everything better…

who cares if my 15 year old is still hiding in different spots in the school to avoid class and eating his pencils?

chocolate made it seem just fine…

I had to showcase the decorative measuring spoons my mother brought me on her last trip out here…  they are so cute and remind me of her… (and sadly her hoarding habits)

once you sprinkle the chocolate and a smidgen of love on the brownies, pop them in the oven and allow yourself to feel the pure joy of making something that is good for you to eat… so good

gluten free almond butter chickpea protein bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds
  • 1 bar dark chocolate, crushed

Directions:

  • blend chickpeas, almond butter, maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla in a Vitamix or food processor
  • transfer to a bowl and add flour, baking powder and chia seeds
  • fold flour mixture in and transfer to a greased square baking dish
  • chop up chocolate bar and sprinkle over the top
  • bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes
  • let cool before cutting
  • freezes well

I’ll try anything once (maybe)

if you are in a pinch, McDonalds fries and  Junior Chicken burger can be your pre-run ‘carb’ meal…

this might gross out some of you ‘pure, clean’ eaters out there but my stomach is used to this and accepted it just fine…

the farmer, our daughter and myself arrived in Saskatoon Saturday evening before the big marathon event …  our boys both had hockey and baseball in Regina and we left them with other families and came to Saskatoon and checked into a hotel…

strangest feeling getting ready for something for me, not one of my kids…  I’m sure I was far more nervous than they have ever been for anything but it was great to put myself in their shoes a little bit and understand what it’s like for everyone to be getting up to attend something you are doing…

the Warriors game was on and as I water logged myself (again, I’m not a nutritionist so I really have no idea how to prepare properly for a run), I watch Klay Thompson have his best playoff game ever…  hitting 11 three’s and helping Curry beat OKC… he happens to be my favourite player and seeing his determination was truly inspiring as I went to sleep…

I had no idea what to expect at the start line Sunday morning…  the only other run I’ve participated in was the Bridge City Boogie 7 years ago, at which I ran a 10 km…  and my memory was not good enough to remember what it was like…

the farmer and Sienna hung out with me for a bit and then they left and I was standing alone…  not sure if I was where I was supposed to be…  worried I was too close to the starting line and faster runners were probably annoyed that I was in their way…

I got my Nike app all set to start so I knew how to keep track of my pace… and thought I’d get my music going after the race started…

and the run began…  I thought I was going to throw up…  we all began running and I noticed two older ladies that were obviously  seasoned runners and decided I’d try to follow them and keep their pace as they look like they know what they’re doing…

running on pavement was a new thing for me as well…  and I felt like a kid that had bought new ‘fast’ shoes and I felt like I was flying…

one thing I was not expecting was as we ran through neighbourhoods, families had come out on to their lawns with their coffee, dogs, kids and lawn chairs…  it was like we were a parade… and they were cheering us on…

which I could hear clearly because I hadn’t started my music and was too afraid to stop running to get it going…  I was too afraid the entire run to stop and never started my music … so the few hours it took to make that playlist was well worth it…

and there were stations that had free gatorade (well, obviously free… people weren’t stopping and pulling out their wallets to pay) and energy packs filled with some sort of gross pudding thing…  I couldn’t do those things but definitely took the gatorade…

when I told the boys you got that stuff for free it almost made them want to run someday just to get the free stuff!

I’ve never attempted to run while drinking gatorade out of a cup… and this showed… I tried to pretend like I was wanting to douse myself with gatorade to cool down…

speaking of cooling down, I had layered up a hoodie type thing because out in the country I generally need it with the wind whipping through…  but at about mile 3 I was starting to overheat… I thought about taking it off and just tossing it… but then remembered I had pinned my ‘bib’ with the timer chip thing onto it and would need to keep it with me…  so I took it off and wrapped it around my waist…  all while running…  very awkwardly… and then thought it probably looked like a had a cape on…

watching other people run keeps your mind occupied, especially when it is the first time you have ever seen anything like this, and when my headphones told me another mile had passed it surprised me because I was so lost in people watching… I noticed some of the good runners had an odd way about their running… it was like they were barely moving their arms and it was more of a shuffle…  conserving energy perhaps?  I actually tried to copy the one lady in front of me for awhile…

I thought this older gentleman was saying good job to me at one point and I told him ‘you too’… turns out he was just signalling that he was moving over to his right and was not congratulating me at all…

but the energy you feel with that many people running was overwhelming to me…  many times I teared up, just thinking about everyone out there, how much training had gone into this day, how everyone here is dedicated to living a healthy life and everyone cheering us on are part of a joyful community of people who want to see the best for others…  truly inspiring…

towards the end of the run, I had a man behind me that was not loving the experience quite as much as some of us…  he kept letting out these loud groans like he was in the most pain he had ever been in…  I actually looked back at him once and was hoping I had sent him a look like – quit with the groaning – but he was mid groan and had his eyes closed…  it motivated me to run faster to get away from him…

I had a man in kilt pass by me…  lots of things went through my mind as this happened…

as we ran up the last hill and were getting close to the finish line, I was wondering when I’d see the farmer and Sienna…

and there they were… with their signs and smiles… and so many emotions flooded up in me…  wishing my boys could have been there too…  I stopped to give her a hug and him a kiss and have never felt it more clearly that he is my best friend and I was so happy he could be there to see me finish something I didn’t know was possible…

my in-laws were there as well and I realized how important it is to show up and cheer people on…  how every time a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend has shown up to cheer on my children how great it must make them feel… that someone cares about what they are doing…

going through life with people in your corner is wonderful…

personal best is pretty easy to achieve when it is the first time you have attempted something…  I ended up running it in 1 hour and 52 minutes… my goal was 2 hours… so that’s why my smile looks like it’s cracking my face…

some stats… because I love stats…  and might want to look back at this blog post someday and I know I’ll love the stats…

Marathon

119 men, 59 women

(only 6 women in my age category… maybe this is a hint that you should not run marathon’s????)

Sergii Vashurin 2 hours 31 minutes (Male 25-29)

Erin Gardiner  3 hours 4 minutes (Female 25-29)

Half Marathon

333 men, 472 women

Ruslan Kramariuk  1 hour 12 minutes (Male 25-29)

Nicole Bletsky  1 hour 33 minutes (Female 40-44)

10 km

278 men, 612 women

Ibrahim Mohammed  34 minutes (Male 20-24)

Jennifer Souter   37 minutes (Female 30-34)

5 km

156 men, 239 women

Iian McCormick  17 minutes (Male 30-34)

Jodi Souter   18 minutes (Female 25-29)

best thing is there was an ice cream truck that we bought some Maple Walnut ice cream from and it was the best tasting ice cream I have ever had…

the main thing I have learned over the last few months of running, is that when you push yourself past your comfort zone, you find that the things you were doing before are not that hard…

I can enjoy a 5 or 6 mile run now, but only because I have ran 12 or 13 miles…  and this applies to life in the fact that you truly can only enjoy success if you know what is is like to fail…  you can only appreciate a deep love in your marriage if you have made it through the valleys…  I can only feel like having children was a choice because other women have chosen to not have children…  you take your health for granted unless it has been taken away from you at some point…

so running the longer distances has taught me that the farther you push yourself, the more life opens up to you…  push yourself beyond what you know and see what is out there…

still don’t think I could ever do a marathon though…  that boggles my mind…

run Catherine run 

 

“It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

this ‘The Man in the Arena’ quote from a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave has been quoted and used by many a motivational speaker…  and I have heard it and totally applied it to teaching lessons with the boys about winning/losing and with the pursuits that the farmer has gone after – work or sports related – and found these words very valuable for them…

as a mom, quite often our lives become basically a maid/cheerleader role…  dedicating our existences to feeding, watering, driving and supporting the children and husband in our lives…

and then it dawned on me…  I bet they are capable of supporting me in something… they might even get a kick out of it…

and a friend of mine that was running with me during a hockey practice in February told me that she knew I was able to run a half-marathon…  I told her she shouldn’t drink before she runs… it affects her judgement and most likely is really dehydrating…  she slapped me and told me she’ll drink and run if she wants to drink and run…  I thought, I should take her advice and start training for a half-marathon… (thank you Bobbi Sitter… I believe I remembered that evening accurately?)

beginning Feb 15 I started my training…  since then, I have ran 67 times…  278.8 miles (448 km)… basically could have ran to Calgary, but it would have taken 67 separate runs so that seems slightly impractical…

my favourite running trail is right beside my house…  it is a trail that I have met a moose on…  so there is an element of surprise and excitement added…

I would say 72% of my runs have involved my dogs… Ryder is a 10 year old golden lab (which I believe is ‘dead’ in human years) and Lacy is a 23 month Great Pyrenees/Bernese Mountain Dog cross … when they’re not running with me they like to hunt muskrats, defend the house from coyotes and porcupines, and pay visits to the vet to get quills taken out of them…

Ryder has loved running with me her whole life, but now is on two medications for her arthritis so she has to be a ‘smart’ runner…  I tell her how many miles, whether it is hill training or not… and she paces herself accordingly…  the hill training she sits at the mid-point of the hill and does not move…

Lacy on the other hand runs up and down the hill with me…  9 times and still doesn’t clue in what is going on…

when you truly do not believe you will be able to do something, largely due to the fact that you are not fantastic at it, it is shocking when you complete it…

some other runners I have talked to say words like ‘runners high’ or ‘feel alive’ or ‘I never feel like walking’…  and I thought to be a runner you maybe need to feel this way…

turns out you don’t…

I have never been a natural athlete…  no one will argue this… but what I have is a lot of determination…  and this suits itself to running I have found…

I start every single run feeling like death for the first mile…

then I spent the remainder of the miles trying to ignore whatever body part starts to hurt or the urge to go to the bathroom…

music is what gets me through… I have listened to many different albums throughout the 278 miles and love having the time to listen to entire albums…

I saved Red Hot Chili Peppers Greatest Hits for the final training run today…

I promised Ryder we’d do a little celebration selfie photo shoot to commemorate this special moment for us… if I know one thing about dogs it is that they love a good selfie photo shoot…

you can sense our excitement

I always think as I take a selfie how much pleasure the farmer will get when he receives it..  it is basically for him…  you’re welcome honey…

and then I thought I’d take a selfie with the landscape in the background… because I truly love running in the wide open of Saskatchewan prairies…

and my last shot captured me breaking down…  cuz it happened…

I’ve never ran a half-marathon before… which means I’ve never trained for one before…  and there were sooooooo many moments I truly wanted to quit…  everything in me wanted to quit…

so for some reason, today on our trail with my girls, it might be a more emotional and memorable experience than a run with strangers…

not that this was the last run I’ll ever do, but it is the last on my training schedule and that means I finished something I wasn’t sure I could…

the only thing missing was my oldest son, who did the odd run with me, when I needed it the most, and pushed me and encouraged me and knew what I was going through…

so, 100 days ago, I started running… just like Forrest Gump… and now here I am… terrified for Sunday and also excited to get it over with…

I need Vaseline

 ‘success is never so interesting as struggle’ – Willa Cather

Boston Marathon today… tiny bit discouraging realizing that the men’s winner ran a full marathon in the time I’m hoping to run a half…

but watching and reading some of the stories going on surrounding the marathon inspired me as I headed out for my long run today…

Brandon had gone for a run with me yesterday and it was so beautiful and I felt fantastic so I had high expectations for today’s long run…

my one dog and I set out…  temperature was just about 20 degrees and there was hardly a breath of wind… beautiful…

about mile 4 I notice some ‘chaffing’ going on in the armpit region…  now, new to running, I did not anticipate this… a seasoned runner might have a tube of vaseline or something in their little fanny/water pack…  I just had the rape whistle the farmer had got me in case a moose attacks me…  that did not help the chaffing at all…

at mile 5, half-way point, when I turned to come back home, I noticed my dog Lacy was in trouble…  she is the type of dog that jumps for joy at the sight of snow and you have to lock her in the garage during a blizzard or she’d just lay out in it… this distance running in mid-day heat was not agreeing with her…

it also occurred to me that if a ‘runner’ needed to use the bathroom, there were no options… no Starbucks you could just pop in to…  this was one of my worst fears with running… next to the moose trampling me while I blow my whistle…

it also brought up some questions in my mind as to what the farmers themselves do when nature calls and they are in nature…

there had only been two vehicles go past me during the first 5 miles of my run… my father-in-law pulling an auger and one of our hired men following him…

so the thought does cross your mind that perhaps you would have some privacy in the ditch…  if it came to that…

but with my luck that is when rush hour would hit the gravel road I was on…

I quickly placed voicemail call and a text to the farmer…  just to give him a heads up on some of the events that were going on…  in case he wished to intervene and come to my rescue…

(the previous day I had this girl following me on the Gator… would have been far handier) 

  

the text read as such…

‘come get Lacy… bring water and vaseline… I might be in trouble’

he replied…

‘now?  what’s going on?’

apparently he had to rush home to get the vaseline as it is not an item he has in the console of his truck…  which is probably a good thing…

he showed up when I only had 2 miles of the run left to do…

now, I have never quit a run before… no matter the conditions, everything in me telling me to quit… I have always reached the distance that my training schedule calendar has told me I need to get to…

this was a first… and of all days to quit on a run…  Boston Marathon day…

lessons learned…  carry more than a whistle in my fanny pack/hydration belt… maybe even get rid of the whistle…

and leave the giant hair ball of a dog home on hot days…

the farmer has told me that he is proud of me for running… yet sometimes I do wonder… what with the lack of energy I have and the only weight loss I have seen so far is what I did have for a bosom has disappeared… and then there are the texts to come rescue me while he is attempting to get everything ready for seeding… there is a certain odour I have… even after a shower… it’s like I never stop sweating during the shower and just keep on stinking even afterwards…  I have blisters and callouses all over my feet and I feel like I am 80 years old every morning when I wake up…

made me think, I wonder if Lemi Berhanu Hayle ever had days like I did today…  probably, probably… but look at him now… he just won a marathon…

 

have a day

 marathon training is no joke…  not that I’ve heard many people try to joke about it… but if they did try, I’d stop them in their tracks and tell them it is no joking matter…

I was on death’s doorstep sick a few weeks ago and then went to Mexico with the farmer, which I did attempt to run there but it was mainly really sweaty power walking…

so this week I’m still training but ‘hurting’ I’d say… my legs are like ‘what??’ …  they don’t get the sudden need to run forever…

so the other day I woke up, all mentally prepared to do my 8.5 mile run that was on my calendar…  running in the middle of now-where in Saskatchewan has its benefits and its downfalls…

this particular morning the wind was whipping through – just whip, no nae nae – and it was cold and cloudy and snow in the forecast…

I had my sometimes running partner, my oldest son, go out onto the road where you can feel the wind and tell me if I should run outside or do a terribly long 8.5 miles on the treadmill…

he came back in and told me ‘absolutely don’t run outside… I barely can get to the bus’…

now, my entire life, if someone has told me not to do something, everything in me wants to do it to just see why they didn’t want me to attempt it…  I decided I’d do two 4 mile laps… and then a bit more… that way if I needed to quit the outside running and hit the treadmill I could…

I put my older dog in the garage, bribing her with chicken bones, which I know some pampered dogs can’t handle eating but my farm dogs have no problem with… (again, don’t tell me my dogs can’t eat chicken bones)… and told my younger dog, Lacy, to get her game face on…  and off we went…

the wind was a funny thing…  running east, north and west was awful…  only direction that was ok was south…  I even yelled at the wind…  I said ‘are you kidding me… stop it’…  it seemed indifferent to my yelling…

there were 4 distinct times I felt like quitting… even had a tiny little cry the one time…

I picture some people running and they look all cute and athletic… I knew I was purple faced, snot on my gloves, tears in my eyes and luckily the wind was whisking away the odour pouring off of me…

I discovered that my music becomes a bit of a ‘white noise’ that helps me not to realize how heavy I am breathing… after a few miles my thoughts take over and I solve a lot of the world’s problems and my own problems…

only to not be able to recall most of my light bulb moments when I get home due to exhaustion…

not a single vehicle went by me…  I saw a fox, some antelope, lots of geese and swans… but not a human being… I was out there for almost an hour and a half and nothing…

when my headphones finally told me I could quit…  I collapsed down and hugged my dog… she was just as relieved as me… she told me that…

we had a makeout session…  I’m not sure if that motivates her to run again with me or if it is a deterrent…  jury is still out on that…  but I needed the love…

this all happened before 9:30 am and I felt like my family’s hero and a champion… I stretched, showered, iced and made the farmer a really yummy kale and egg lunch…

this is when the exhaustion caught up with me and when he came home for lunch and pointed out a book keeping error that I needed to correct, the water-works began…

it was like someone had died… that is how hard I cried… it felt like I couldn’t stop it and it was like every last bit of energy was coming out in tears…

he thanked me for lunch and tried to quietly slip outside and back to work…

I spent the afternoon correcting the book keeping error and then thought it was a good idea to call SaskTel, our cell provider, with a complaint I had with their rural high speed internet…  (high speed is a bit of an exaggeration)…

I began speaking with the first Sasktel employee and realized this was not going anywhere and asked to talk to his supervisor…  I got a lady on the phone after being on hold for awhile and my emotions were still pretty raw…

she basically told me my high speed internet was like another cell phone, with a limit of data I could use… blah, blah, blah…

I told her that Sasktel needed to up their game in rural areas and that I wouldn’t use so much internet if it didn’t take me the better part of a day to download a movie!

then it got sad… because the tears were right behind my eyeballs and I was fighting them and the lady at the same time…

some people say nothing they do in their life is a mistake…  that all your experiences lead you to where you need to be… I don’t agree…  I have many, many moments I wish I could go back and have a do-over…  this is one of those moments…

I said ‘so you think I’m a bad mom because I let me daughter watch old Full House episodes after school on Netflix… is that it???’…

‘my kids are very active, they aren’t fat tubs of lard sitting around watching YouTube all day’  (although lately they kinda are)

‘I have friends that don’t even have TV and just use their internet…  you are telling me I use more internet than them?’

‘how much money do you earn, Shirley?  enough to pay this bill that I am every month for crappy internet?  well, I’m not rich enough for this’

and then the tears won the battle and I had to excuse myself from the conversation… she said something  like ‘I’m really sorry you’re having such a bad day’ and at that point I couldn’t even form a sentence and gurgling some response like ‘thank you’ and had to hang up…

to make matters worse, the weather was getting better and it was turning into a beautiful day and here I chose to run at the absolute worst part of the day…  I’m not trusting the farmer’s sense of forecasting ever again…

the kids got off the bus and came in and I told them straight up ‘I’ve cried twice today for no reason so you all need to avoid me most likely’

my middle son told me ‘mom, whenever I’m having a bad day, I just think of my teacher…   she’s had a really hard life and a friend of hers just died this weekend… I’m sure your life is better than hers’

this made me laugh… and cry…  happy cry… but the kids all went far away from me just in case it wasn’t a happy cry…

that night, as I was heading off to sleep, the farmer said to me ‘this marathon training is really something eh?  you think it’s a good thing?’

 

for some people it is I’m sure… for some…