Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Virgin London Marathon

I'm guessing that by my title that you probably know what I'm going to tell you.
Do you remember my crazy idea of running from Edinburgh to London came out of me not getting a ballot to run in the London Marathon for Guide Dogs?
Well, perhaps I should learn some patience, or perhaps fate has a funny way of working things out, but I got a phone call about a week ago telling me that I had been selected as one of the people to run the London Marathon for Guide Dogs.
At first, I hesitated and wasn't sure if I wanted to do it anymore. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to raise the funds for both events and if I'd be able to train for both, but then I started thinking about it and I realised that running the London marathon was something that I really wanted to do. So, I said yes. It hasn't really sunk in yet; probably because my time has been taken up with Christmasy type things in the last week, but I think in the next couple of days, with the holidays winding down a bit, I'll have to start putting a plan into action for fundraising and training.
I've already asked one of my guide runners if she'd be interested in guiding me. She is supposed to get back to me once the holidays are over. She really wants to, but is training for an Ironman which is to be run in July. She is worried that the two events will conflict with her training schedule. If she can't, I have one other person to ask and if that doesn't work out then the Guide Dogs events team people will start asking the pool of runners they have to see if anyone would like to run as my guide.
Running strapped to a stranger for 26 miles may be a bit weird, but it could also be a great experience. Either way, I am so looking forward to completing this marathon.
I never would have thought four years ago, that my sprinting, swimmer self would be taking on a marathon, and the London marathon at that.
Exciting stuff! :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Little Things

I have a feeling that there will be other posts with very similar titles in the next year. This crazy idea of mine is really starting to take off and sometimes I think to myself,
"What the crap are you doing?!"
Sometimes I wonder if I will be able to pull it off. These are usually my thought processes after I've spent an afternoon emailing potential sponsors or corporations to see if anyone could assist me and no one replies. I've talked from the beginning about this whole thing  not being  about me, but rather, it being about Guide Dogs and how it will take  a whole host of people to pull off. The silence is hard to swallow sometimes, but when someone brushes this challenge off as "something that we deal with every day," my faith in the chance of this being a success begins to wane. (I had one running shop tell me that! So, blind people run from one country to another every day? If so, can I speak to them so they can give me some tips)? Despite these reactions, all it takes is  one person who  surprises you with their kindness and support and it all seems possible again.
The last couple of days I was having a little doubt party. I had talked to a few different people about my challenge and I was greeted with indifference and suggestions of starting smaller. I've run into these attitudes before, but they were usually intermingled with votes of confidence and someone willing to lend a hand. The latter had been missing and I was getting a bit worried, but my bad attitude was beaten back this afternoon.
This afternoon Mr. K and I wandered over to our gym which has a Sweatshop-running clothing store-in its foyer. I am in desperate need of a few more running outfits and you can never have too many pairs of running socks. We also had the intentions of looking at some shoes for me as well. The guy behind the counter has been there before when we've gone in and he was incredibly friendly and helpful.
Mr. K and I meandered through the store, finding a purple and grey running t-shirt on the sale rack in the correct size and then settling for a pair of black and white running pants-trousers-that weren't so much on the sale rack. Once we had the clothes in hand, Mr. K suggested I check out the shoes. I wasn't going to initially. I figured I had a few good months out of the shoes I had now, but he convinced me by aptly pointing out that the pair I have are of a cheaper quality and really do need replacing.
The salesman spent a good part of an hour going through various brands and styles with me. Mr. K explained to him exactly what I was doing and that I'd need a shoe that was meant for a lot of miles. Originally I had tried on a pair of Nike shoes, but he had me try on a couple of more brands just to make sure I was getting what was comfortable.  I'm glad he did because I walked out with a completely different pair, even though it was a close toss up between the ones I got and the Nikes.
Upon check out he seemed slightly preoccupied and then surprised us by taking ten percent off of the whole purchase which included running shoes, pants, t-shirt and two pairs of socks. He then gave me a voucher for an online 16 week training plan and then tossed in half a dozen or so power bars just for good measure. He also suggested that I contact the Sweatshop and speak to them about any assistance they could provide. He even pulled up the website and described to us where to go to contact the right people. It was so generous of him.
It was with this act of kindness my faith in my crazy idea was restored. He'll probably never know how much of an impact his gesture had.
It's going to be the little things that get me through this adventure. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Little Insight

Pieces of this great jig saw puzzle of a plan are starting to come together. Guide Dogs are sending a fundraising pack to me, complete with t-shirts for me and my guide runners. I've had a few more volunteers step up to run different legs of the event with me and one of my other guide runners is on the mends from an Achilles tendon/ankle injury. Mr. K and I are also going to a local bike shop this afternoon to find out if they have cycle path maps that may detail routes from Edinburgh to London.
I've been trying to bounce my idea off of as many people as possible in order to get different angles on the event. The more minds working at logistics the better. It was during one of these email conversations with one of my friends, who is a four time Paralympian and multi-medal winner, that a good idea was put forward.
Why not have a website dedicated to explaining Guide Dogs  and also have posts from guide dog owners and the importance of these beasties in their lives?
It makes sense.
If I am going to ask people to dig deep into their pockets to assist me raise funds for this organisation, shouldn't these people know what their money does? And what better place to highlight these experiences than right here!
That's why I'm going to be starting a series on this blog that will feature current guide dog owners' experiences, written in their own words, to demonstrate the significant roles guide dogs have in people's lives.
To be honest, I don't know a whole bunch of guide dog owners from this particular organisation as I am new to this country and just getting to know people, but never fear: I will deliver! I am going to attempt to feature various guide dog owners/staff members/puppy walkers for the next 12 months on a biweekly basis. That way, it's not just coming from me how important these dogs are.
And what about the fitness aspect you ask?
It is also my goal to present facts about access to fitness for disabled people, guest posts from disabled people themselves and much much more. Highlighting the need for better access to fitness for disabled people is also very important to me.
My minimum financial goal is to raise 5,000 pounds by next November for Guide Dogs, let me show you why. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Happy November 01, everyone.
I'm not entirely sure where October went, but here we are in November already. It was just a month ago that I was sitting on my couch, buried in a puppy pile thinking about my future in sport and my crazy idea was formed.
Now, it is  just 365 days until I will take the first steps of the 600 plus miles towards London.
I can't believe it. I know a year can seem like a life time, but in the grand scheme of life, it really isn't. In the grand scheme of planning a huge fundraising event, it really isn't.
Take it from someone who just planned her wedding two years ago. It seemed like we had all of the time in the world, but in the last few days we were still running around like crazy people, trying to make sure the day was what we wanted.
Of course everything turned out, but I can imagine this challenge being kind of similar. Not only is there logistical planning to do, but there is training and then also the fundraising side of things too.
But, you already know this. I haven't stopped going on and on about "having so much to do."
So what steps have I taken to reduce this load?
Well, I've contacted a few larger companies in the hopes that they will be willing to donate funds/gear/guide runners/whatever they feel like giving. I've been "tweeting" like a mad woman and posting to Facebook about my efforts. I've also been looking for ways to run some simple fundraising events that will help generate funds off line. I've got a few ideas, but the problem is securing a venue that won't cost an arm and a leg. If I'm forking out money to raise money then that seems counter productive. I am also meeting withMiss F tomorrow-guide runner-in order to brain storm some publicity ideas and whatever else she may bring to the table. I'm looking forward to that meeting.
As for my route: I'm still trying to figure that out. I had emailed a local running shop, hoping that they would  be able to at least point me in the right direction, but I have not heard back yet. There was another shop that I contacted to see how much it would be to have custom t-shirts made for my guides and I. I had emailed this shop because they printed on actual running shirts as opposed to cotton t-shirts. Unfortunately, they don't carry sizes small enough for me. So, that idea is out for now. I'll do some more investigating into that eventually, but right now I really want to get this route planning under way as well as fundraising. Oh, and training too.
Today I write this post sitting comfortably on my couch, sandwiched in that puppy pile, but something tells me that the post in 365 days won't be so relaxed, never mind comfy. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

It's October 31! Do you know what that means?
Ghosts, goblins, witches and trick or treats.
We're not doing much for Halloween this year, even though it's one of my favourite holidays. School has got Mr. K and I both running around like chickens with our heads cut off...
Hmmm, that's appropriate for Halloween right? Headless chickens.
Oh, well. Not this year.
We'll carve a pumpkin, but I think that is the extent of our Halloween activities.
I normally would have had an outside run with Laura tonight, but I haven't heard from her. I'm not worried about that either as it's pouring rain here and running indoors may be more pleasant tonight anyway. Besides, running in the rain with the potential for ghouls and dancing skeletons isn't so appealing.
So, to all of you trick or treaters out there: stay safe and guard your candy from your parents.
And parents if you get into the kids' candy, or you have leftovers, remember running is a good activity to work off all of that extra energy you'll get from your sugar high. ;)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mrs. Money Bags!

...well, at least that would help. ;)
Since officially announcing my crazy idea and switching it from "crazy idea" status to "having to do this" status, I've been doing a bit more research/thinking/calculating and dude! I have a lot to work towards.
I set myself the lofty goal of raising 5,000 pounds for Guide Dogs because raising/training a fully qualified guide dog costs close to 40,000 pounds. So, my little-or not so little-fundraising goal doesn't even cover one dog. If I could raise more than that, that would be fantastic, but I think 5,000 is going to be enough of a challenge; on top of training to run the 600 plus miles.
Upon calculating a whole year divided by my hoped for fundraised funds, I came to realise that I need to be making around 96.23 pounds a week.
There are two things that make this goal possible though.
1. I have a whole year. I know the time will go by quickly and so that is why I am starting now. If I stay vigilant I think I can make the 5 grand and hopefully more.
2. The 96.23 a week was applied only to my online "giving"
page.2 I didn't factor in any funds that could be potentially raised from other fundraising activities/events. I didn't count those because I'm not sure how much I can actually count on, but I will be working on extra small events or activities to ensure I can reach my goal.
Since Friday I've raised a total of *drum roll please*
...10 pounds!
Look at me go!
Actually, to be honest, I was shocked that I received a donation already and I am so grateful to the person who gave me that little push I needed. She will forever be remembered as the person who got me started. :)
So, that means I have a wapping 4,900 pounds to go!
Bring it on!

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Official!!!!!

I thought I had a few more days. I thought that my crazy idea was just idea, but it's not just an idea anymore.
I have just received my first donation. This first donation makes it so much more real. It means that I really have to do this, and do you know what? I am so excited about it. A little scared too, but definitely excited.
I think I'm justified in my little bit of terror though. You would be too if you had signed yourself up to run from Edinburgh to London in just over a year's time.
Yep. That's right.
Over 600 miles of running and all in the name of raising funds for Guide Dogs and also to raise some much needed awareness of the great need for accessibility to fitness/leisure activities for disabled people. (That was a lot of needs).
I'm not sure what the stats are in the UK, but over 80 percent of (just) blind/visually impaired people in Canada are obese. Not to mention, if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you will be familiar with the difficulties of accessing sports and leisure activities as a disabled person.
The guide dog affiliation is probably quite self explanatory, but the short of it is that raising and training a guide dog is an incredibly expensive endeavor. The wait lists for guides are quite long due partially to this cost. As someone who has worked with a guide dog for ten years and is currently waiting for my third working partner, I am acutely aware of the benefits of these working relationships. I'd like to bring awareness to this organisation as well as raise some needed funds.
What better way to accomplish both of these goals than to run some crazy long distance as a blind person?
There are so many things that need to be organised before I can conquer this challenge. It is going to take a lot of support from family, friends and the general public. For example, I'm going to need guide runners to train with and to run different parts of the run with me; I need to map out a route; figure out accommodation along the way; organise fundraising events; recruit support vehicles  for the event. Oh, and train for approximately 21 days of extremely long distance  running. So much to do!
Baby steps though, right?
The most important part is that it is now official: this challenge of running from Edinburgh to London and hopefully raising 5,000.00 pounds (or more) for Guide Dogs is under way.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

High Tech Running

Today Laura and I headed out on a short run. It was a cool evening, but layers and a good steady pace took care of the chilliness. Since it is nearly winter here it gets dark quite early now, which makes us both a bit nervous to run on the cycling paths. You never know what lights are actually working and even though it was only 6:30 the paths were actually quite empty. Tis the season for hibernation.
With that in mind, we took along a new addition to our running duo. Roscoe, Mr. K's Black Lab-guide dog-was more than happy to accompany us through the fallen leaves and for the whole 2.68 miles that we ran. A big, Black dog no matter his temperament is a sure way to feel safer.
Since Roscoe is black and therefore blends into the dark areas of the trails, I rigged his collar up with a very loud bell. That way Laura could focus on guiding me and not have to worry about looking around for Roscoe. It worked, but to be honest, running outdoors is often enjoyable because of its peace and tranquility. There is nothing tranquil about a loudly clanging bear bell.  I think we may switch out Roscoe's equipment for a high visibility collar and one of those blinking lights that dogs wear when out in dense forest or the dark. Not that high vis collars or blinking lights are some amazing technological advancement, but having this however simple, equipment available to us is very helpful. It means we can still run on the wider cycling trails and feel safe as opposed to the more cramped city sidewalks that are not conducive to guide runner/guided runner teams.
Our other new addition was of the technological variety. I mentioned previously that Iphones are one of the most accessible cell phones on the market for totally blind individuals. With the Iphone comes the Nike run App and with that comes the possibility for me to keep track of distances, speeds, times and so much more. This evening's run was the first time I got to use the App and as far as I can tell it is accessible. I was even able to post my results to Facebook for my friends to see. They can even view the route from start to finish that we took. There is also a feature that saves your previous results so you can compare runs later. I was so excited when I discovered I could actually use this program on my own.
Heart rate monitors and fancy sport watches have always been equipment that has been lost on me. It's bothered me that I can't keep track of my own stats, but the Nike Run App has changed that for me. Oh, and Iphone too of course. I can even use the App while running on a treadmill, which is another bonus. Quite often, I end up running on the treadmill with no idea of how fast I'm going or how far I've gone. Again, this will no longer be the case. At every mile an announcement is spoken telling you what mile you are at and your average speed. I could probably check it while running as well, but even this little bit of information is very useful for me.
No more running for five miles without knowing how much longer I must suffer through the sweat and oxygen deprivation.
Okay, perhaps it's not that bad, but sometimes it's motivating to know that you're at mile three instead of at mile two. I haven't been able to try this out on a treadmill yet, but if it performs as well for me inside as it did outside, I will be one happy woman.
So, what have I learned today?
That although I hate technology, it actually will make this training thing a more feasible thing and probably more enjoyable in the end. It will allow me to analyse my own runs as well, which will be an incredibly valuable tool that can be utilized when training for my crazy idea. (Still can't say what it is yet).
Do you know what's even better?
The App is free. How can you complain about that?
Thank you technology for making training as a blind athlete accessible.

*Note: all of the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I did not receive anything from Nike or Apple for the opinions expressed, nor was I approached to test these products out*.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On the Mends

It's been about two and a half weeks since I got that weird stomach flu/intestinal thingy. It would appear that it's gone now, which means I have been able to eat solid foods for just under a week. This makes me very happy. Not only does it mean I feel better, but that I can also get back to training.
Since Thursday I have started slowly increasing the amount of exercise I do. At first just short walks made me feel weak and gross, but as I've been able to eat more, I've felt a lot better and have been able to increase the distances I have been walking. Just on Sunday I went for a two hour walk and another hour and a half yesterday. All of which felt good. tonight is another walk and tomorrow I will try running for a half hour.
It was amazing to me how quickly I lost strength and fitness. Being sedentary obviously contributed to this loss, but I think the lack of eating is what did me in. At first just carrying groceries home made my arm muscles hurt; and they were not heavy groceries. However, no matter how quickly I lost it, it will come back. Perhaps it won't be as quickly, but it shouldn't take long before I'm back to running five K easily.
I just have to remind myself not to over do it or I'll be back at square one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Food of Champions

I would go out on a limb and say that all elite athletes have been taught something about proper nutrition and hydration. It's impossible to keep up those levels of training without fueling the body correctly. There was always an emphasis on fruits/vegetables, whole grains and the "right" kinds of fat. Nuts, yogurt, milk and many other things that people cut out of their diets because they think are "too fatty" were encouraged. It's the simple sugars like candy and pop that you had to watch out for. However, we were humans, not machines, and we certainly indulged from time to time.
The last six days or so of my diet would make my coaches or our team's sport scientist cringe. It   wouldn't even support a normal human being never mind a training athlete. This morning I've managed to consume some apple sauce, a dry piece of toast and a glass of GingerAle. Yesterday I had chicken noodle soup and probably five or six crackers. Oh, and tea. Don't forget the tea.  I don't know if I feel worse after I've eaten or before because I'm so hungry, but then I eat and my body retaliates. But, really, you don't need to know about my angry tummy.
The importance of all this to my blog is that there is definitely no training going on over here. No fuel means no training and I am assuming it will take me a few days of eating like a non-sick person before I can get back at it.
In the mean time, I'll keep eating my dry toast, drinking tea and taking naps.
Speaking of naps, I think it's time for one now.

Friday, October 12, 2012

No More Tea!

I have no idea what awful bug ha climbed into my stomach, but this has got to be one of the worst stomach flu thingies I've ever had. I'm not even sure it's a flu. There's just a lot of cramping and nausea. Well, at least the nausea has subsided. But of course this means no training. It also meant that I missed my meeting with my guide runner this morning to discuss the particulars of my big project; so disappointing. However, it's probably good I didn't go because there was no need for me to infect everyone else in the coffee shop.
I was really disappointed that this hit now. I had just downloaded the Nike Run Ap and I was so excited to give it a try. As a blind athlete a lot of those types of training devices are inaccessible and thus I can't use them. Since the Iphone talks though and the Nike Ap can be downloaded to the phone, I think I can actually use it. I won't know for sure though until I kick this nasty bug.
So, instead of pounding out the kilometres, I am squished on to my couch with my dogs, fluffy blankets and thankfully Sprite instead of tea.
Peppermint is a great natural way to assist your tummy along when it's not feeling well. I think I've consumed at least five mugs of it today and another three or four yesterday. And I'm not talking little, tiny tea cups. I'm talking the huge mug that I use for coffee in the morning. I am so peppermint tea (ed) out, I think I'd be happy if I didn't drink it for another twelve months. That said, I think it actually helped.
Along with my litres and litres of peppermint tea, I've taken an Epson salt bath complete with lavender essential oil (good for relaxation) in the hopes that I will get better very, very soon. Even when my body is trying to force me to stay still, I don't usually do well as a patient for more than 24 hours...and it's been longer than 24 hours.
Is there a moral to this story? Be a patient patient I suppose. My logical brain knows that it's important to give yourself the time you need to heal, but my illogical brain just wants to "try how it feels." I know none of that will be happening. So for now, I will be content with my puppy pile, Sprite and fluffy blankets. Please hold the peppermint tea though.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Change of Plans?

So, where have I been for a whole month? That's a long story, but we'll just say that a few crazy life events have kept me from not only blogging, but my training has certainly been suffering. It's all good though because despite having run only twice in the last month, I've been making some progress on the more logistical end of things.
First of all, I've been working on scheduling a meeting with my university's Athletics team in order to have a team to train with and also to expand my pool of potential guides. I think things may move forward on Sunday morning, but we'll see.
I've also had a few meetings with another potential guide runner, who is currently working through an ankle injury, but who is keen to guide. (I've mentioned her before). We're meeting again this Friday to go over some details, including to work out a few things in regards to a crazy fundraising idea I have had.
This month's "break" of sorts had got me thinking. I really enjoy doing what I'm doing and it seems as though this whole Paralympic/triathlon thing probably won't work out. So, why not do something useful with my time?
I used to think that being in the Paralympics was the only way I could reach people. I thought it was the only means I had to implement change not only in the disability sporting world, but within the able-bodied one as well. It wasn't until recently that I realised this was the biggest reason I was holding on to this Paralympic thing. So, I asked myself what would be a different way  to achieve this? And, it sort of hit me, as I sat on my couch, trapped under a puppy pile, contemplating when I would get my replacement guide dog...why not run for a charity? One that I feel is a good cause; something I can stand, or should I say run, behind. I talked to Mr. K about it because this crazy idea of mine would most certainly effect his life too. I needed him to be excited about it too, or at least believe in me because there is no way I'd be able to do this without his support. When I explained it all to him he surprised me by saying that it was a great idea. And that's when the emailing frenzy began.
I started by emailing the fundraising contact I had within the organisation that I want to support. Then an email went out to my injured guide runner asking her if she would be on board. I got a hold of a freelance journalist that I've had contact with before and then it was time to Google every thing in relation to fundraising that I could think of. This was only a week ago and so there is definitely a lot of work to be done, but I think it can be done. This fundraiser isn't going to be a small thing. If you know me, you know I don't do anything small. I jump in with both feet; literally. That said, I've given myself over a year to accomplish this very lofty goal and I think I'm going to need all of the time I can get.
So what is this crazy idea of mine?
Well, I'd love to tell you, but I can't.
A little hint? has to do with running.
That's it. No more.
The fundraising coordinator for the organisation that I've picked has gone on holiday until October 29th and he and I haven't been over all of the necessary details. Until that happens, I need to keep the specifics to myself.
Why did I mention it then?
Because I'm so excited and I needed to get some of it off of my chest.
I've had a few nay sayers. Two people have suggested I start smaller, but I'm not sure they realise how these things work. I was really disappointed in their reactions because I thought they'd be as excited as I was. I asked Mr. K why they reacted that way and he said,
"because they don't know what you're capable of."
I think that is probably one of the best compliments I have ever been given. That definitely boosted my confidence again and I started back at my planning with gusto.
With this larger project comes smaller goals. In order for this long-term goal to be successful, my short-term ones need to happen. So, the first one I am setting myself is that I have to update this blog on a more regular basis. Once a month is not going to cut it. I think three times a week is realistic. If I post more that is great, but three posts must go up.
There. I've put it in writing. Since this week is almost over, I guess I better get cracking on the rest of the week's posts.
Stay tuned for more regular updates, and hopefully after the 29th, the full disclosure of my crazy idea.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Issue of Socks

As a swimmer there aren't many things to smell in relation to your sport. Your suit smells like chlorine, your towel may smell like soap after a shower and your skin may stink of chlorine despite showers and lotion. So, let me amend that statement: pretty much everything, including you, smells like chlorine. Sometimes if things aren't hung up to dry properly, things can get kind of "mildewy," but after one stinky swimsuit, I was quite conscious about hanging things out to dry. It is not surprising then, that I was shocked when my running shoes and socks started stinking something fierce. I think I've written about this shock before, but I was reminded of it this morning when I went to pull my socks out of my runners from yesterday's trip to the gym.
Originally, I was under the impression that socks and shoes got really smelly from running outside and the shoes getting wet and then having to dry over and over again. Living in Scotland, I decided that I'd live with this, since my shoes were definitely going to get wet multiple times a week and then have to dry. My understanding of how your shoes became stinky was quite wrong.
Of course I understood that shoes get stinky from your feet sweating in them, but I thought the extra stinkiness came from the wet/dry process. I was very incorrect in this assumption.
The shoes that live in my gym bag have never been used outdoors. I have done that specifically so that they have a longer life and so that they won't get as stinky as my "outside" shoes. Perhaps I was on to something with extending their life, but I sure wasn't spot on with the not smelling part. The socks that I pulled out of the shoes this morning smelled so horribly, I threw them directly into the washing machine. I wasn't about to put those foul things into my hamper in my room to have them stink up my regular clothes or my bedroom.
Admittedly, I probably should have removed them from the shoes last night, but I was so hungry and sleepy that I forgot. I will never make that mistake again. I had balled the sweaty socks up after my workout and stuffed them into the shoes in order to keep them from stinking up my bag. In doing so, I think I inadvertently trapped the smell in and made it worse.
Now, after all of that, you are probably wondering why on earth I would dedicate a whole post to my stinky socks. Do I not have anything more significant to write about?
I actually had a post planned about the Paralympics coming to a close tonight and how inspiring these Games were for me in my own quest for a coveted spot on the Canadian team in 2016, but the intensity of the stench from my socks was so profound that I thought it was necessary to share it with all of you. Besides, this whole training thing is what it is and I am going to share everything with you, whether it is glamorous or not. Smelly socks are definitely not glamorous, but they certainly are a part of this training thing, as I had discovered and was so aggressively reminded of this morning.
So, lesson of the day: your shoes are going to stink no matter what you do, but leaving your smelly socks rolled up in them over night does not improve the situation. So, to all you newbie, or would be runners, out there, from this newbie...air out your socks!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

More Potential

I'm starting to sense a theme in this pursuit of triathlon racing as a blind athlete: you are always trying to improve, you are always finding new "potential." Maybe that is what it's all about. Improvement is the name of the game, but I always equated that with fitness, training goals, finishing races, improving those race times. However, as I'm finding out, that is not the only arena where "potential" is found.
Yesterday I had another chat with yet another potential guide runner. It was a great chat and I think there is a lot of potential here. Our chat was almost two hours long and I think we got a lot accomplished. We established that training and/or racing together is something we both want to do, but I still encouraged her to go home and think about what we had talked about. I also suggested that she try guiding before she makes a decision as well.
Currently, she is battling an ankle injury, but thinks she'll be able to start running again in a few weeks. We are going to keep in touch in the next weeks and once she's at the point where she can actually run, we're going to go for a light jog to teach her how to guide and give her the opportunity to really get an understanding of what is involved. That way, she is making an informed decision when she says yes or no to guiding.
I think the most exciting part for me is that she is not only interested in guiding for running, but she is interested in triathlon as well. She's only ever done one triathlon before, but one is better than none. She had also been training for an ironman this past year, but unfortunately had to withdraw a week and a half before the race due to her ankle injury. Her strongest leg of that type of race is cycling, which is quite beneficial.
The only problem we may run into is accessibility to each other. She lives in a different city than I do and her job is closer, but still quite a ways out. That said, the building she works in comes equipped with a full gym and if I can figure out a way to get to her, we could do running practices on the track there. She said she would be willing to pick me up from the train station, drive me to her work and drop me off at the train station again. If we can just work out the travel details, I think we could have a good thing.
Obviously, we won't be able to train together every day, and perhaps not every week, but if we could get a few practices in a month, especially if we can get our hands on a racing tandem, this could go somewhere. I think the most important thing is that we're both willing to make this work. I'll keep doing workouts in the gym on the stationary equipment and getting out for runs once or twice a week with Laura and hopefully manage to meet up with this new potential guide. It's not perfect or ideal, but if the potential is there, why not give it a shot? You'll never know what could happen if you don't try: that is the beauty of potential.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Will Go anyway

Some days are easier than others to get up the motivation to get a workout in. I'm not sure why, but today is one of those days where I'd rather not go anywhere. In fact, I'd be quite satisfied sitting on my couch, with a book, drinking tea, snuggled up under a blanket. It's not particularly gross out or anything; it's actually quite nice, but for some reason, my hibernation instincts have kicked in. However, succumbing to these instincts does not lend itself well to progress or improvement.
Some days you are all excited and ready to attack the day's workout. Some days I have my running shoes laced up 45 minutes before I'm even supposed to start; okay, perhaps more figuratively than literally. But my point stands. I'm chomping at the bit to get out there; especially when it's an outside run. I, and probably most other runners, prefer to run outdoors. Treadmills can get boring. Despite today's run being outside, with a supportive group of runners, I don't feel like going.
Today I won't be lacing up early; figuratively or literally. However, I will still go. Sometimes a workout isn't a   struggle because you are running faster or further than you normally do. sometimes the triumph at the end of the practice is that you at least went. I know once I get there, my competitive self will kick in and I will put a good effort in. So, despite being perfectly happy, sitting   on my couch, I will go anyway.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


It has come to my attention that the coverage of the Paralympic Games in Canada is just absolutely atrocious. People in Canada who want to watch athletes are not able to due so due to   the very large lack of Paralympic coverage, and, this is unacceptable.
When I was competing, I knew that the TV air time that the Paralympic Games got was very minimal, but when you are focusing on being the best you can be, some things just slip by. You just don't have the time and energy to fight every battle. Now that I'm not competing, I have a lot of time and energy to devote to this battle and I am prepared to make a lot of noise.
The lack of coverage just completely boggles my mind. Here we are in 2012. There is no excuse people! None! Some people claim that the Paralympics aren't viewer friendly.
Tell that to the sold out stadium at the track heats yesterday morning. And that was just for heats!!!!
Again, really?
Tell that to the swimmers who set at least three world records just last night. Even more were broken the night before. Please tell me if I'm missing something, but when three swimmers come into the wall, less than a half a second apart for gold, silver and bronze, that is viewer friendly.
Sure, some of the classifications can be a bit confusing, but at least attempt to make that information accessible to the general public. There are  informational videos available on the main networks websites  carrying the Paralympics and even more on the various Paralympic youtube channels. In an era of social media, there is absolutely no excuse for the Paralympic Games to be ignored by large broadcasting companies.
The most amazing part to me is that Canada already has seven medals, just after day two, and most of the country has absolutely no idea that such a high calibre of athlete is representing their country. This lack of awareness is  because the TV networks' coverage is horrendous.
The Paralympic Games are the second largest sporting event in the world, coming second only to the Olympics. How is it even possible that there is barely any coverage? As a Canadian and a  former Paralympic athlete who was proud to represent her country,  I am ashamed of our media and their lack of attention to the Paralympic Games.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Yesterday I hopped in the pool for a workout. It felt so good to be moving through the water. Swimming has always felt so powerful for me, unlike running, which I usually feel like a lumbering oaf. I think I've improved in running, but swimming is still where I feel at home.
My workout consisted of 1.5 kilometres, which makes me laugh because my warm-ups used to be about that long when I was competing in swimming. It felt good with a lot of kick and some "pull," which in swimming lingo means arms only swimming. I borrowed a kick board from the lifeguard and the majority of my workout became kicking. I don't know why, but kicking has always been my strong suit and I've always enjoyed it the most. maybe it's because I can hear my feet and feel how fast I'm going all at once? Either way, it's funny to see how one can fall back into old habits. I'll have to make an effort next time to focus on full stroke swimming and more pull because that is what will get me through the triathlon. My legs will need to be good to go for the bike and the run.
The one thing that did change was how often I breathed. When I used to compete, it was really easy for me to breathe every second stroke which is not conducive to going fast. This is probably why I was a   sprinter because I could just keep my head down and breathe when I got to the wall. When I raced the fifty metres, I tried to breathe as little as possible and often got to  the wall only breathing maybe three times. My every second stroke breathing habit was probably one of my biggest faults and coaches of all varieties tried to change it. I continued to be a one sided breather, but eventually managed to breathe every four strokes for the most part.
Since getting back into the water, it's been really easy to slip back into my over breathing. However, yesterday I forgot my cap and every time I turned my head to breathe, water sloshed into my ear. This was  a very  uncomfortable sensation and it forced me to breathe every four strokes instead of every two. Wy didn't we try this before? :) When I start training for the triathlon at a more competitive level, I'm going to leave my cap at home in order to force myself to have a more effective   breathing pattern. That way, when I get my butt on that 2016 Paralympic team, I will have disposed of one of my bad habits that could potentially have made me less competitive.
Speaking of the Paralympics: have you been watching? I have to admit, I'm pretty riveted. I have little moments where I wish so badly I was there. This morning I looked up the heats for the women's S11-the classification I used to swim in-qualifying times and was shocked to see that I wouldn't have had to swim a personal best time to qualify. The slowest woman swims about a 1 minute .28 second 100 metre freestyle and I used to swim faster than that in practice. Of course the current world record holder from Italy goes a 1.08 with a few mila seconds added on to that, so I may have been out of the medal race, but I could have qualified. Also, who knows how much I could have improved. Maybe I would have been closer to that gold medal position. That said, hindsight's 20/20 and I hated the 100 free anyway. Plus, I retired for a reason. No point in thinking what could have been. I have new and exciting things to focus on...right?
I've talked to a few other retired athletes that I know and they are having a hard time too. Apparently, even one athlete who retired in 2004 is finding these Games particularly difficult. I think it's because London is doing such a great job with the Games. The atmosphere is just fantastic. For me, being so close makes  it harder too.
Regardless of whether I could have qualified or not, I retired and that is that. I have four years to get ready for 2016 and these Games is great fuel for that fire.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Bit Odd

Tonight is the beginning of the Paralympic Games. Tonight is the first time in 12 years that I will not be going to those ceremonies, all crammed into a bus, wearing my Canada gear, waiting to walk into a packed stadium. I'm not going to lie, it's a bit odd.
When I retired from swimming four years ago, I thought I was completely done. I had had enough and I wasn't going to look back. At least, that is what I thought. I have since learned that I was done with swimming, but not really with competitive sport. I always knew that I would never go back to swimming, even though in a sense it could be quite easy as it's something familiar, but that is certainly not an option for me. That is why I've embarked on this crazy journey to find triathlon guides and/or long distance running guides.
I am not done competing.
There is no way to describe the atmosphere of a Paralympic village. It is buzzing with anticipation, excitement, nervousness, joy, fear...a sense of community and all mixed in with an edge of competitiveness. When you walk by a fellow Canadian, or whatever country you are from, you wave or say hi; even if you have no idea who that person is. You are, for the time that you are in that village wearing that Maple Leaf, connected .
You don't walk around your home town waving to everyone you pass just because they are from your home town. But, in a Paralympic, or Olympic village I am sure, you make an effort to support complete strangers just because you have one common goal in mind; to represent your country the best you can.
You congratulate people when you see medals hanging from their necks. You even hug them; again, even if you don't know them. You lend a shoulder for someone to cry on when something just didn't work out. You cheer for your teammates even if you don't like them. You want them to be successful: you want them to win.
It's such an incredible experience and although I am certainly missing it, I am so very excited for those athletes that are there and wish them luck, but most of all, I hope that they enjoy the experience; take it all in because there really  is nothing like it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ondon Marathon

Running a marathon had become a secondary goal for me-after the whole triathlon struggle I've had. I needed something else to focus on and a marathon seemed like a good idea. It took me a while to figure out which one I wanted to do, but I've put an application in for the London Marathon 2013 and will find out in October if I got a spot. Not only do I want to run the marathon, but I've applied for a spot to be the fundraiser for the Guide Dog organisation. It's a charity that is close to my heart and so if  I am selected, it will be very exciting.
The only obstacle I had to work around was finding someone who wanted to run the marathon with me. I hadn't really put too much effort in finding a race guide as October was a   ways off yet. However, I've been talking with a friend who I met through a mutual friend, and she is interested in guiding. She ran the marathon last year and so would be a great partner in that she knows what to expect.
We chatted on the phone tonight and made a basic plan to train until October, find out if either of us were accepted and then go from there. She currently lives in London, so we are a bit apart, but we figure we'll each make a few trips to visit one another and use that time to train together. It would be beneficial to visit her in London because then we can do some of the trickier parts of the course in order to solidify our running partnership.
The situation isn't exactly ideal because it leaves me still trying to find training guides here and running workouts on a treadmill, but on the other hand, what would be the point of all of that training without having a guide to run the race with you at the end? I'll just have to run on the treadmill and make good use of the runs that I do get outside.
I am really excited about this whole thing and I think Miss P is too, which makes this even more exciting. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's all Good

Today I headed to my new gym for my "induction" session. Mr. K and I have been going there for just over three weeks now, but it took us a while to have our introduction. The guy who showed us around and explained the different machines was incredibly helpful and Mr. K and I were both extremely impressed at his instructions and explanations. He had obviously had thought out what he was going to show us and how best to deliver it. That in and of itself is impressive. We also may have struck an agreement that would be fantastic for my training.
As we were leaving the gym, he asked what we'd be up to for the rest of the afternoon. Mr. K said he had school work and I told him I had to give a massage. I haven't put a massage business into full swing, but I work on some clients from time to time. Today is one of those days. When I had been moving around the gym, I had mentioned my desire to compete in triathlon and he said that he'd be happy to help me with some workouts. He then suggested, half in passing, as I was leaving that we should trade triathlon instruction for massages. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a good idea.
Having some instruction would help me out greatly as I feel I've sort of run into a wall with regards to training ideas. Not to mention, he may know a person or two who would be willing guides. Paying for coaching is incredibly expensive and I just don't have that kind of money right now. So, trading skills works for me.
I've also been in contact with Para Triathlon Canada, thanks to a friend's suggestion, and they seem keen to help me with obtaining coaches, guides and perhaps a tandem bike. I don't exactly know what is all involved, but we're supposed to have a Skype conversation in the next few days. If I could somehow bring the personal trainer into the mix, that could make things easier for the Para Triathlon people.
It seems kind of funny to me that this whole triathlon thing, or even marathon running for that matter, is only slightly about the training and way more about finding the correct support network. I think all athletes need a support network to be successful, but I think athletes' with a disability networks have to be that much more larger and solid. I've been writing for months about small victories and potential help: I feel like that's all I write about. It's probably because, as of right now, I'm doing more of the leg work to get that network in place as opposed to training consistently. However, training consistently really needs to become a priority, otherwise, all of this will be for nothing. That said, at least it's finally all starting to move forward.
As for that training consistently, I'm off for a long run tonight with Laura. Let's hope the rain holds off.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sunday I ran a good 5 kilometres with a new guide runner. I met this guide through the running group Laura introduced me to a week ago. Laura doesn't run on Sundays because they are her recovery day and so this person offered to run with me on the days Laura wasn't available. She, we'll call her Eve, also suggested we go swimming together as she likes to intermix swimming as a cross training technique, which I like to do as well.
I was really impressed by how enthusiastic Eve was and how easily she stepped into a guiding role. She not only guided me on the run, but also through the gym facilities and all of the way back to my flat.
Our run took us over some rougher terrain, up and down hills, along smoothly paved paths and busy city sidewalks; quite a mess for a first time guide, but she did a fantastic job. We chatted most of the run and quickly developed verbal cues for directions and various obstacles. At some of the larger curbs, we just stopped running and walked over them as we were both not confident enough to run them. I think that perhaps once a guide and blind runner are more in sync such ground obstacles are easier to navigate and you are able to keep up your pace, but with us just starting to run together we took the safer route in order to ensure neither of us came out with a twisted ankle.
The only thing that worries me about Eve and I running together is that our stride is very different. I am approximately 5 foot six and even though this isn't particularly tall, I have a longer stride than most people my height. Eve is a few inches shorter than me and her stride is quick and short, which means we don't match very well with regards to stepping in sync. We are missing rhythm.
When Eve first started running, I was completely taken aback. I had forgotten that stride match was a concern. I quickly adapted though and we carried on. I don't think she even noticed. Every once in a while over the course of the run, we would fall out of sync and I would just hold a step or two longer until we were on the same foot and running rhythmically again.
I shortened my stride in order to run with her, but my hamstrings were all sorts of tight later that afternoon and the next day. I've read a lot of articles published on running technique and they suggest long distance runners take smaller steps, landing mid foot rather than on the heel strike, but I think that perhaps Eve may just naturally run with the smaller step.
The other thing that makes it difficult to read her body language is that she kind of hops when she pushes off; kind of like a show horse prancing. It's like she's using the force of her stride to go up rather than forward. A few of my friends described this as a jogger's style of running. I'm definitely not a running expert, but the bopping along  seems like an energy waste to me.
Despite her springy step, I think she'd be a great training partner. She's very motivated and wants to improve. She is also in better fitness than I am and that is important for a guide runner/blind runner combination. She's also pleasant to be around, which is another bonus when you're going to be attached to someone for potentially 20 kilometres at a time, but the stride discrepancy is something to take into consideration in the future.
As of right now, if I'm being honest, I'm hard pressed for guides so I will probably stick it out. One of my swimming coaches used to say that if you were going to practice it wrong, then don't practice it at all. I can see where he's coming from, and I definitely agree, but perhaps the shorter stride training will come in handy? Not to mention, if we only run together once a week, I should be okay for now. I'll keep my longer distance runs to be run with Laura because our stride matches much better, therefore, I won't be hobbling the next day from restricted hamstrings.
All in all, it was a very good run, but it gave me a few things to think about: one of them being that just because the willingness to guide is there, that does not mean that you will be compatible, whether it is personality wise or in relation to your stride. I knew all of these things, but I think it was a good reminder.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


With my training becoming more of a consistent thing, there seems to be more pieces slowly coming together. The pieces may not fit, but at least the opportunity to examine them and decide for myself is there. A lot of it  has stemmed from starting running with Laura. Unbeknownst to her, she has opened a whole lot of doors for me and I am truly grateful to her. When I thanked her she replied,
"you still have to run on your own two legs."
I laughed, but I really don't think she understands the full weight of what she's done for me. Because of her, I may have found a small pool of runners willing to run with me from time to time.
When Mr. K and I moved to our new flat, we not only moved closer to Laura but also to a different gym. She encouraged us to join this gym and after some discussion, we decided to do it. So far, I have really enjoyed my time at this particular gym and it's been because of this that I've met more runners.
The UK wide shop called the Sweat Shop organises community running programs and there just happens to be one associated with the gym we've joined. Laura spoke to the manager and he said it would be no problem for me to come along to the runs. They run Sunday, and Tuesdays and after attending my first run on Tuesday, I've found two other volunteers who are interested in guiding for me. There have been others who have put up their hands as well, which is very encouraging.
Laura usually only runs with the group on Tuesdays so having someone, or a few someones, there on Sundays would be great. I am supposed to run with one of the new volunteers tomorrow to see how she likes it and if we are a good match.
Laura and I are going to continue running on Tuesdays with her guiding me but as a part of the running group. We will also  do my long runs on Wednesday evenings just on the trails by my flat; just the two of us. She and I chatted this past Wednesday about a workout schedule and this week will be the first week I'm implementing it. I really hope with my new plan and potential guide runners, I can really get things moving even more than they already are. Exciting times.
On top of  all of this very exciting stuff, I've finally heard back from Triathlon Canada. I contacted them almost two years ago with no results. Para triathlon had not really taken a hold in Canada only two years ago, but with London 2012 approaching for Paralympians and triathlon being added to the 2016 line up, Triathlon Canada is starting to develop a Para-triathlon team. Originally, I had been in touch with the UK team, but no one was very interested in helping me go anywhere with triathlon. I suspect that it may be because I'm not from the UK and they'd be training me to compete against them. I hadn't entirely decided who'd I compete for, but if Triathlon Canada wants to take me on and support me, then I would compete for them.
The person I am supposed to talk to about my situation is currently on vacation, but hopefully I'll hear from him soon. The guy who responded to my enquiry, said that I was the type of athlete they were looking for and so, (hopefully again), something will come of all of this.
I also spoke to an acquaintance about potentially running the London marathon together. She ran it last year, but injured herself at mile ten. She finished the race, but she's hoping to better her time since she finished in over six hours. I've applied to raise funds for the Guide Dog organisation in the UK, whereas, she's applied for a general ballot with no fundraising pressures. We both kind of thought that if one of us gets a ballot, we may be able to work something out where we run together.
Again, more "hoping" and "potential," but I like this kind of "hoping" and "potential." A lot of good things could come of all of these things.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Looking Good

There really isn't anything pretty about someone who has been running for 16 miles and is in desperate need for some water, oxygen and a sandwich or two. Well, at least, I'm assuming there isn't because I haven't run that far yet, but the mud and the rain and the sweat shouldn't stop you from trying to look good, right?
Well, I'm not sure I entirely believe that, but I certainly believe that running in performance specific gear is helpful and with my 29th birthday quickly approaching, my friends and family generously bought me some great running gear to help me on my way to running a marathon.
Yesterday my best friend, Tenie, my husband, Mr. K, and I headed to a sports store in order to find me some better running clothes. The ones I've been running in are primarily cotton and from what I've read and experienced, cotton does not breathe or pull the moisture away from your body. I can deal with it if I continue just running 5 K or so and only three times a week, but once the runs start getting longer and more frequent, I'd really appreciate it if my body had as much help dispelling sweat as possible. Synthetic fabrics are much better at this, at least much better than cotton, and yesterday I was outfitted with a new pair of running pants, tank top and sports bra. We all know that a good sports bra goes a long way.
After doing some research, talking to Laura and observing what she wears, I quickly began to realise that I was in desperate need of more professional gear. One pair of my running pants had shrunk in the dryer due to them being cheap and cotton and the others have to be held on by a safety pin because they are too big. My shirts aren't much better. I have three that I primarily run in, two short sleeved and a long sleeved, and one of the short sleeved definitely is not meant for running. It too is primarily cotton and very warm, despite being short sleeved. The long sleeved is actually great as it was part of my gear from Team Canada when I was swimming, but seeing that it's summer here and your body is supposed to heat up 15 degrees warmer than the outside temperature when running, it isn't very helpful right now. The third shirt is better than the first, but when you are trying to run at least five times a week, and have plans of upping that to 7 or 8, you kind of need more than one comfortable shirt.
My sports bras are okay, but again, I'm lacking in quantity. I only have two that get the job done and when you are washing them so often, they will wear out very quickly; losing their elasticity and thus their usefulness. So, having three to rotate through would be beneficial.
Who would have thought serious, competitive running could get so technical with regards to clothes?
The pants I've been wearing were just a cheap pair I picked up from Azda, the UK version of Walmart, and when wet whether from sweat or rain, they are not comfortable; especially if I have to run in the rain with them. So, the new Nike made pants that claim to pull away moisture will be a welcomed change.
As for the tank top it's a part of the Dry Fit line and is purple. Dry fit, again, will be beneficial in keeping me from over heating while out running, but the fact that it's purple is just as  exciting. I know you're supposed to pick running gear based on its performance merits, and I did, but if I can get it in the colour I like, why not do it? I have a strong liking for the colour.
As for the sports bra, yes I'm going there, I am incredibly grateful for this little piece of equipment because of its snug fit and "moisture pulling away" fabric. I've read about chafing in unwanted areas and that a good fitting sports bra reduces this risk exponentially. So, of course a new bra was on the list of things to get.
The best part is that I still have room in y budget to get a new pair of running shoes. Mine aren't particularly old or worn out, but it's been suggested to me that I have a second pair so that I can rotate the shoes between runs. This helps the two shoes last longer as the workouts off allows the shoes to de-compress, giving you longer life. I'm not sure if that's true, but it sounds like good logic to me. Not to mention, running in Scotland means running in the rain more often than not, and so having a dry pair of shoes to wear instead of stuffing feet into day old, still wet shoes is also welcomed.
I also have good quality running socks on the way as well. When I initially started running, I thought that regular old cotton socks would do just fine, but since running in both running specific socks and just your every day socks, I've noticed the difference in foot temperature, and again, moisture. With only one pair of running socks, an extra few pairs wouldn't go amiss either.
So, am I necessarily looking good while running?
Perhaps I look a bit more like a serious runner, and maybe that means I'm looking good, but the biggest and most important thing is that I'm feeling good due to my gear functioning properly.
Now, all I have to do is go for  run and put my theories of good quality running gear to the test.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FFirst Foot Injury and 5.3 K

I've done a lot of reading about running since I really have no idea what it all entails. I keep reading horror stories about people with black toenails, rashes in terrible places due to chafing and so much more. I've also read how to avoid these things, but I really wasn't prepared for what happened to me less than a week ago.
Last Wednesday Laura and I had planned to run together, but the day was just horrible with high winds and flooding everywhere. I know that runners run in all kinds of weather, but when the water is swirling past my ankles and there is no sign of it stopping, I chose to stay indoors and do a core workout instead. It was that night that I realised there was something wrong with my left foot; the sole of my  left heel to be exact.
As I was curled up on the couch, drinking tea and reading my book before bed, I noticed a huge chunk of my heel was missing. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It was like I had gouged myself on something, but I could not remember doing so. I still have no idea what happened, but I suspect it had something to do with me wearing my every day shoes without socks while walking my puppy. I think the combination of the rubbing and the wet may have cracked the foot. It was so weird. When I was swimming I never had problems with my feet and only two or so weeks back into running and my feet are already acting up?
That said, I don't even think my first foot injury was even running related.
As a swimmer, I would have just gone to practice the next day and refrained from pushing off the wall with that foot, but I was forced to cancel my run with Laura the following day because it was too painful to even walk on. I probably could have pushed through it, but I figure taking one day off was better than sucking it up and running and then damaging the foot further and missing multiple practices. Friday Laura and I were able to connect, just two days after the mysterious foot wound first appeared, and we ran around 3.5 K. I just wrapped the foot up with medical tape and gauze and made sure to disinfect it really well when I was done.
With my foot healing up quite nicely, Laura and I were able to get a good solid 5.3 kilometres in today in 37 minutes. I was really impressed with that time since I haven't been back at it  for very long and also because it was another rainy, sloppy day. It just wasn't nearly as bad as last Wednesday.
With the rain falling down and a healing foot, I think 37 minutes was quite good. I felt really good for the whole run, but definitely was tired when we finished.
I felt for Laura as that was her second run of the day, having gone 9 miles in the morning. She is one dedicated woman and I love her for it. She told me today that she wouldn't have run again today if it weren't for me, but that it was a good active recovery run for her.
Not only am I glad I found Laura to run with, but I'm glad I found her because she is turning out to be a great friend. We have similar senses of humor and today we brought each other cake as an after run treat.
Great minds think alike, I suppose.
So, with a good 5.3 K under my belt, my foot on the mends and yummy cake in my belly, I look forward to my next run with Laura this upcoming Wednesday. Tomorrow it's off to the pool for me for some cross training.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Slowly But Surely

I didn't write earlier because I didn't want to jinx it. I'm not normally someone who believes in the power of  your lucky socks that you never ever wash because they make you win,  but you can never be too sure. So, I kept things to myself until it seemed like a sure thing, and, it seems like a sure thing.
*Knocks on wood*.
It would appear that I have a part time guide runner.
I'll give you a moment to take that in.
Are you good?
I'm still not sure I completely believe it, but after two runs, one of which was 4.5 K, the woman I met for coffee almost two weeks ago has asked me to make a more solid running schedule with her. We'll call her Laura. I am very excited about this.
As of right now, we are running twice a week, Wednesdays and Fridays, with Laura's boyfriend offering to step in on days when she can't make it. I've never met him, but I'll take any help I can get. She's a bit worried that once I reach higher fitness levels, I'll be able to outrun her, but we'll cross that bridge if and when we get there.
Currently, she is training for the Berlin Marathon to be run at the end of September, so our runs together are more of a favor to me than to helping her train as I'm obviously running at much lower volumes. However, I'm sure the double runs she's getting on those two days will help her as well.
I haven't asked her about guiding in a race because I figured that we should get more comfortable with just training together. Running is a recreational thing for her and so my goals of competing competitively may not be up her alley, so to speak, but right now the training is the most important part. It's so nice to get two runs outside instead of being inside every day.
Last Wednesday when we had our run, she had asked me if I still wanted to go because it was raining. She said it didn't bother her and it didn't bother me so we went. It was just good to know that a little bad weather won't stop her; especially since we live in a country where it is almost always raining. Not to mention, we seem to get along quite well. We chatted the whole 4.5 K and that certainly made the time go by. I struggled a little on the last .5 kilometres, but she was encouraging without being too pushy. She was also good with her verbal cues and describing some of the scenery as we passed by. All of these things help a blind runner be distracted from the discomfort she/he may be feeling. Sighted runners can obviously receive these distractions via their own eyes, but we ocularly challenged folks need a little help and Laura did a great job.
So, where do I go from here?
I'll continue training twice a week with her and hopefully meet other runners along the way who would be interested in training and/or racing. I have researched the London marathon and thought that I'd love to run it. It may be a bit of a push since a half marathon before it would probably be a good idea, but it's something I really want to do. So, I'll keep moving forward and see if I can put the infrastructure into place to get me there by next April. If not, I'll keep training and make the 2014 marathon.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Glimmer of Hope

As everyone who reads this blog regularly knows, finding sighted guides has been the greatest challenge for me as a blind athlete. Originally, I had wanted to compete in a triathlon and eventually attempt to make the 2016 Paralympic Games, but finding guides who are the same sex and who do all legs of the race has been quite difficult. So, I had made a few changes, deciding that finding a guide for just one sport, as opposed to three, would be easier. I'm not saying it was easier, but I may have made a small break through. In disability sport, every baby step is celebrated and so I am just excited to have made the progress that I have.
The website
Jogging Buddy
and the RNIB have partnered up to assist blind and visually impaired runners find guides. When new members create profiles, they are asked if they are blind or visually impaired or if they would be willing to be a guide runner. Because of this program, I may have made contact with two potential guide runners.
The first person I got a response from is a guy who lives in England, but he is very excited to guide and is willing to be a guide for races. We've already discussed some races to compete in and we're supposed to have a phone chat tomorrow evening. Sure, it's not ideal with him living so far away, but he's willing to travel for races and to help with a workout plan and that is a good start.
The other person is a woman who is actually quite local to me. Mr. K and I are going to be moving this upcoming weekend and our move brings us even closer to her. She and I had a little coffee date on Friday and then went for a short 2 K run to get an idea of whether or not we fit and to see if she liked it. We didn't use a tether, just draped my forearm over hers in order to learn how each other's body movements felt, but I think we did really well considering we had just met and she had never guided a blind person walking before, never mind running.
She is quite a bit taller than me, but I actually think that is good. Our stride is quite similar and we hardly broke step with one another. Her verbal cues were good as well. Once, she had to jump over a puddle, but I did not and she warned me well enough in advanced that she just hopped over, I kept running and then our feet fell back in sync.
We chatted the whole time we ran and I found her body movements really easy to follow. When she was going uphill, she leaned forward and I could feel the power from her legs pushing her up the hill. When going down, her weight shifted backwards and her stride lengthened, which I could feel without her saying anything. I was surprised at how well we worked together despite only having met an hour before.
After the run, I wasn't sure how she felt about it so I told her to think about it and to contact me when she had made a decision. We agreed that if she wanted to guide, we could make a schedule at the beginning of every week and go from there. Due to her working schedule, we can run together only once or twice a week, but that is definitely better than nothing
Needless to say, I was very excited when I received a text from her last night asking me if I wanted to run Wednesday evening. She's even going to pick me up. That last bit was every bit as surprising as the first. Here was a woman that I spent just over an hour talking with and then just under another hour running with and she already knows how to make things easier for me and she doesn't mind.
So, I think that if all goes well on Wednesday, I'll have a part time guide runner who is local to me. How very exciting.
I've always believed in the saying, "good things come to those who wait," but, to be honest, my faith had begun to waiver a bit. It definitely has been restored.
I've put a few more feelers out with other organisations and will continue to do so because the more guides I have, the better. So even though this has been a long process, I think persistence has won out here. There is still a lot of work to do, but each small victory moves me one step closer to my end goal of running a marathon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ever Present Paralympic Sport Politics

With the 2012 Paralympic games just 71 days away, I've been doing a lot of reading on the different sports that will be present this go around. Just for interest sake I looked at the swimming events available for totally blind women and was slightly irritated to see that six races were being offered. I wasn't irritated at the London Games, in fact quite the opposite. I was irritated with Beijing because they chose to get rid of  all but two races for totally blind women, which meant just 8 months out I had to start training for events that weren't my original races. I even had to change strokes. I'm glad to see though, that the Games seem to have expanded again.
After that I looked up the events offered to totally blind women on the track and was again irritated. It would appear that totally blind women can only run sprint distances. There isn't even a marathon offered to this specific disability. There are three marathon classifications for men, while there is only one for women and that is for female wheelchair users. You'd think that in 2012 we'd be a little more advanced than that.
Then, of course, I moved on to the triathlon, as it is still my goal one day to run one, and was confronted with a low vision American athlete suing the governing bodies of triathlon for the rule they implemented 2 years ago. The rule stated that all visually impaired athletes had to wear blacked out goggles during the run portion of the race. It was said to even the playing field because there were totally blind athletes and low vision athletes racing against one another. Usually, these athletes are broken up into 3 categories based on their vision loss, but since there apparently aren't enough blind/visually impaired athletes to break us up into 3 categories, they have thrown everyone together.
There are a lot of issues with forcing a low vision athlete to wear blacked out goggles, and I am certainly not debating that, but what concerns me is the articles being published about this lawsuit. The reasons being given, or at least the ones that the media is focusing on, make it sound like totally blind athletes are dangerous to themselves and others on the race course. The athlete suing gave examples of him trying to train in goggles and falling into a ditch and running head first into a pole. It makes me wonder what his guide was doing to allow him to do this. Not to mention, were they using a ten foot tether? I don't know the specifics, so I will attempt to keep my comments to myself, but using illustrations such as those makes it sound like all totally blind people run themselves into poles and ditches. He also used the example of him running into a volunteer at a water station during a race and again, this could be problematic for totally blind athletes who have fought so hard to have the right to run races with sighted athletes. We don't all run into volunteers.
I don't think this is  what this particular athlete is trying to convey, but that is the message coming out in the media. I'm not saying don't stand up for your rights, but the distinctions between a totally blind athlete and a partially sighted athlete really need to be made in order to protect the rights of the totally blind athlete.
So, here are some of the reasons why blindfolding a partially sighted athlete is a problem. (And I am sure I'll leave something out because I am totally blind, not partially sighted, and therefore don't know what all of the issues a low vision athlete faces).
First of all, it's the principle of the matter. Why are you disabling someone further and if you are going to force the athlete to wear blacked out goggles on one leg of the race, why aren't they forced to wear them during the whole race? I am not by any means suggesting that this should be done! It just doesn't make sense. People who know nothing about blind/visually impaired sport are making these decisions. Blind athletes have offered to sit on these committees in order to assist with decision making, but they have been denied. Who would know better about blind/visually impaired sport than blind/visually impaired athletes?
Another problem is taking someone who is used to seeing a certain way and expecting them to not see at all. That is the unsafe part. This athlete ran into a volunteer, pole and ditch because he is not used to being blind. People don't realise how much just a little bit of sight can make a huge difference and that is the reasoning behind blindfolding these athletes, but it is also a good reason not to. It is dangerous for them because they don't know how to be totally blind, and, I think, that is the point this athlete and his lawyer are trying to make, but the media has missed that essential point. Let's just hope the general public doesn't get a hold of this and misunderstands it because if they do, it could mean a lot of trouble for totally blind athletes. Races will start refusing entry to totally blind athletes and blind triathletes will be back where they were only five years ago; having nowhere to race because people think they are dangerous.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Running Success

Yesterday was all I could have asked for. I met with the running club at the designated meeting area and was immediately welcomed into the group by the woman, we'll call her FJ, who had volunteered to attempt guide running. She came over and introduced herself and we pretty much hit it off right from the beginning. We're probably the same height, she may be a little taller, and this lent itself well to us running well together.
We started our jog with my arm draped over her forearm; sort of a beginner's stance that allows the guide and the guidee to get very intimate with each other's movements. It wasn't long before we switched from that position to using a shoelace doubled on itself, between us, which acted as our tether. We both were a bit shaky to begin with, but soon we were running along, as if we had known each other forever.
I did find that I had to change my stride a bit, but I think it's due to the way in which long distance runners actually run. From everything that I have read, shorter strides are better for marathons and such long distances and most of the runners were running in this manner; including FJ.
I really enjoyed myself and was impressed at how easily FJ adapted to running with someone attached to her. She easily navigated me around people, frolicking children and leash free dogs. We ran at quite a slow pace as she is saving her legs for the London Marathon that is being run this upcoming weekend and also because I haven't really been as active as I should. Surprisingly though, I managed to get through two miles feeling really good. I was shocked at how quickly the time flew by and with it the distance. I had no idea that I would be able to run two miles. That was really encouraging to me. Perhaps a half marathon in October is a realistic goal. If that's the case, I have a lot of work to do between now and then.
Sunday I am supposed to meet with more of the runners at a cafe after their long run for the week. FJ won't be there as she'll be off running her marathon, but it will give me a chance to get to know other runners. Apparently, there are at least two other women who are interested in guiding, which will be really nice. The more guides I have, the more likely I'll be able to get outdoor runs in and be able to run that half marathon in October.
One interesting thing that I learned about FJ is that she does triathlons as well. This obviously made me very excited because that means that there is the potential for her to guide me in a triathlon eventually. Obviously, that is something to be discussed in the future, but it's good to know that it may be an option. I really enjoyed my run with FJ and I hope it's something that will continue in the future. She's already said that although she cannot guide me this upcoming Monday, she'd be more than willing to run another workout with me the following Monday. I think it's a great start and is incredibly encouraging.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Tonight is the night: I am off to meet potential guide runners and I am so excited. Okay, a bit nervous as well, but mostly excited. I'm trying to keep that in check a bit as I could get there and the runners may decide that guiding is not for them, but at least we're all giving it a shot.
Tenie, my best friend, has agreed to come with me because she's awesome like that. Actually, she is coming along to help me figure out the route from the bus stop to the sport complex where the runners meet. That is one small obstacle blind people have to figure out, but really, in the grand scheme of things, it's a small worry for me. Tenie is great at laying out routes for me and giving me the details I need to get to my destination safely and Glacier and I are a pretty solid working team. So, once she shows us a few times, I think we'll be able to get there on our own.
I'm also glad she's coming because she really knows how to help me break the tension about my disability; if there's any. I've emailed back and forth with the one woman who is interested in guiding and I kind of get the sense that the tension that comes along with the unknown probably won't be there. However, if it is, Tenie being there will smooth everything out.
I'm not entirely sure what we'll be doing with regards to a workout, but it will probably be light while we figure out how to run in sync and get used to one another's movements. Plus, the guides will have to get used to running tethered to someone else; slower speeds are a good idea. We'll be running along a wide promenade that parallels the sea and so it may be cold, but the width of the path will be an advantage for us. It is pretty smooth, with very few ground obstacles and since it is so wide, it will be easy to navigate around pedestrians and other fixed obstacles.
I haven't completely figured out where Glacier will wait while I run and that is another reason why Tenie is coming. She will hang out with Glacier for this practice and it will give me an opportunity to speak to the people at the sport complex to see if he can wait for me in their office during other workouts. I am so lucky to have such a patient, selfless and caring friend.
I realise this post is slightly inarticulate and all over the place, but I think it's the nerves and excitement. So, I will leave it for now and go and start getting my stuff ready; have to pack water and shoes and make sure  all three dogs are fed before heading out the door. Not to mention, I'll need a snack as well since I'm hypoglycemic...I'm rambling again. :)
See you on the other side, hopefully with guides in tow.

Friday, April 13, 2012

One Step at a Time

You'll have to pardon the pun that's in the title, but I thought it was kind of appropriate. After being a couch potato for the past month and a half-with the occasional visit to the gym when I felt guilty-I have managed to get in two beginner's workouts in the past two days. I feel really good about them.
Wednesday I headed to the gym, which is about a fifteen minute walk both directions. I count this as a part of my warm-up because Glacier, my guide dog, and I don't meander. When we are walking, we are on a mission and we walk at most people's jogging speed.
My workout would probably be considered a light one, considering I used to be able to run between six and seven kilometres without stopping, but I was happy with it. Just getting back into things, I didn't wan to over do it. Over training can lead to injury, fatigue and illness. I want to be healthy and ready to go on Monday when I have my first workout with the running club. So, I took things a bit easier than I would have liked to.
I started off with a 12 minute  warm-up on the rowing machine. It was supposed to be 10 minutes, but the gym staff forgot me and I was left rowing for a bit longer; not necessarily a bad thing. I think I went around 3.5 kilometres and I was feeling pretty good. Then I hit the treadmill for the first time in nearly two months. Every other time I've ben to the gym recently, I've avoided the treadmill; using the bike, or the cross trainer, anything to stay away from the treadmill. Knowing that I'm going to start actually running though, motivated me enough to get back on the treadmill.
My run was only 25 minutes long, with me going 2 minutes of walking and 3 of running. I only cycled through that four times and walked the last five minutes at a very brisk pace. I had thought to push through the last five minutes, but I told myself that I had set the workout out originally with the last five minutes just being a fast walk and that I should stick to that. No point in doing  it so that I wouldn't be able to come back the next day.
The intervals felt good, surprisingly, but I could tell that I was working at the same time. It's amazing how quickly you lose your fitness you've worked so hard to build up. However, I know that with a little consistent work, I'll be back there in no time. I think I'm lucky in that way: I don't know if it's because I was an elite athlete for so long or if my body is just meant for sports, but my body responds really well to physical activity and I am grateful for that.
Yesterday's workout was not at the gym and was just a very long walk. One of my friends and I walked from her flat all of the way into the down town area, which was calculated to be 2.7 miles each way; giving us a grand total of 5.4 miles. I'm sure with the extra walking we did downtown  that we hit the 5.5 mark. Again, she is a fast walker and I think a long, controlled walk like that was actually beneficial at this stage. Perhaps when I'm at the point of being able to run 8 miles it won't be as beneficial, but I think it was useful at  this stage.  The walk was  also refreshing because the sun was out and it was nice to be outdoors and not stuck in the stinky, stuffy gym, running on a machine that makes you feel  like you are on a giant hamster wheel. :)
All in all, I think the last two days were a good start. I actually wish I had a pedometre as I did a lot more walking than just the 5 or so miles into town. It would be interesting to know how far I really went.
As for today, I'm not sure what the plan is, but I definitely have to get some kind of workout in. My friends and I are planning for my husband's birthday and need to do a lot of grocery shopping, so perhaps I'll have to get a gym run in before we set out for the day. Either way, I'd like to exercise   today and tomorrow and take Sunday off,  but we'll see how it all pans out. If I mis today, or tomorrow, I'll be going in on Sunday. I figure I can have one day off; I'm just not sure which one it will be.
Now that I've managed to figure out this whole running club thing, at least it seems I have,  I have one more concern: I need to find running pants with a draw string. I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but sizes here in Scotland are designed bigger and my gym pants fall down when I'm running. Do you have any idea how awkward it is to have to keep reaching around to yank your pants-or trousers as they call them here-up while you are running on the treadmill or outside with a guide? We stopped in at one running store yesterday, but all of the "trousers" they had in were much too big. Even with the draw string, which I thought I could just tighten up, the pants were sliding down. Maybe I need double sided tape or something? I may need to pick a few runners' brains to see if anyone else has this problem and if they do, how they go about fixing it; especially since I will be getting smaller if anything.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Coming Together

Isn't it funny how you go long periods of time just waiting, with nothing happening and then, suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, things come very quickly together; almost like a snowball racing down a hill, gathering speed. It almost seems surreal and like it's happening to someone else. Plans have been made and I'll be meeting some of my potential guides on Monday. One person in particular is interested and we're going to do a  light walk/jog workout to get the feel of the tether and whether or not guiding is something this person wants to do. Looking toward the future, knowing that this potential guide is going to be running the London Marathon on the 22nd, makes me hopeful that I will not only have practice partners, but people who will want to guide in a race or two as well.
We've also made plans for me to meet other runners on the 22nd, after their 8 mile run, in order to discuss the possibility of guiding. They seem like a very social group and I think that sitting down in a non-workout environment would be incredibly beneficial. It will allow us to all chat without having to worry about completing a practice, which means we can just focus on getting to know one another. This was something ERC had talked about doing, but it never actually happened. I think that because this is a part of this particular club's routine, it will be even more conducive to getting comfortable. I think this laid back attitude will translate well into finding a pool of guides.
A lot of the other clubs that I contacted were very serious and very focused on training. As much as I think that is great and want that, I come from that background and I want training to be enjoyable this time around. If I learned anything from my swimming career, it was that there is a place for being "all work and no play," but that enjoying what you're doing is just as important. I think this club may, in the long run, be a better fit. Not to mention, their laid back attitude may be what makes them more open minded and willing to try new things. Needless to say, I'm incredibly excited and also a little amazed at how open and welcoming this club has been thus far. It definitely is a breath of fresh air.
With more solid plans laid out, that means no more excuses: I need to go to the gym and increase my fitness. It's not fair of me to expect people to help me if I'm not up to par. So, it would appear that I have a date with a treadmill later this afternoon, but the difference is, I won't be dreading this workout as I have done in the past because I know that there is a point to all of the madness. I will get to train outside and eventually, I will get to race.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Running On

I realise that this blog has been silent for far too long. To be honest, my triathlon/long distance  running endeavors have pretty much been absent from my life basically since my last post here. I was feeling defeated and decided that perhaps competitive sport didn't have a place in my life any longer. I started thinking about how maybe that chapter in my life was closed and that I would just go to the gym three times a week just to stay healthy. I even stopped going to the gym consistently; although it shames me to admit it. :) Then, in the course of a few days, things changed very quickly.
One of the members of the Won with 1 team emailed me to see how things were going. She had heard through the grapevine that triathlon wasn't something I was actively pursuing anymore. Her email was very sweet and considerate and it got me thinking again. It didn't ignite that crazy, passionate fire in my belly, but it gave me a little push to do some more enquiring. Somewhere along the way, I found myself emailing two running clubs and I had a response from one of them within a couple of hours of sending in my enquiry. I was surprised when I went into my in-box and saw the reply email and was even more surprised when I read what it said.
Basically, the woman I contacted said that they had had a low vision runner once, but that he had his own guide. My hopes sunk when I read that line as I had explained to her that I not only needed a running club, but that I was attempting to gather a pool of guides. She went on to say, though, that it would be a new challenge for them. Her email seemed promising and it turned out to be when I received another email this morning explaining that the question of guiding had been put to a group of runners last night and there were interested people. There is even a woman who assists a blind woman to go grocery shopping and such and she was definitely interested.
I was speechless.
For months, I sent out email after email; had meeting after meeting; attempted to make connections with various sport/disability minded organisations and all it took was one email to a random running club I found on Google. I had picked them because I had liked their website and the message of inclusion  they had conveyed. They welcomed beginners to the very serious marathoners and train very close to where I live. That means, getting to practices will be quite feasible.
I've been invited to come and run starting on Monday, and although I am very excited by their openness and enthusiasm, I may need to take some time at the gym to re-establish some semblance of fitness first. I am really impressed at how quickly the club has moved on this and I really hope that I may have found a new running home.
If so, that means this blog will not sit silent any longer. :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Different Angle

If you haven't noticed already, I've been MIA the last little while over on this blog. There are a few factors contributing to my absence-mostly a fundraiser I'm organising on my other blog-but also because my motivation seems to have gone out the door. My motivation to write and more importantly my motivation to train. This last part is a bit troubling. I know the main reason for my lack of motivation in the training department is due to the lack of potential guides.
Quite honestly, training day in and day out on a treadmill or stationary bike, not knowing if your efforts will even lead you to racing, gets a bit tiresome. Finding guides in the triathlon world has proven incredibly difficult in the area that I'm living in. People just aren't interested. I don't know  if it is because I am approaching the wrong people or perhaps I am using the incorrect approach, but for whatever reason, I've been guideless for two months now and it is time something was done about it.
After a long chat with my husband, Mr. K, I decided that perhaps triathlon is not the way to go; at least not for this year. We both agreed that it may be more realistic to find guides for one sport as opposed to trying to find someone who is good at three. I am clearly through with competitive swimming and was just enjoying my time in the water since it was a part of the triathlon. The logistics of finding/purchasing/renting/maintaining/housing a tandem bike is way above and beyond me right now and so that left running.
I know. I actually picked running over the other two sports. Someone should take my temperature.
In order to get the process of finding long distance running guides moving, I've been in touch with a representative at Scottish Disability Sport in the hopes he will be able to reach out to his contacts and find me a few guides. An article was published on the SDS website in the hopes of attracting a few potential guides. Other emails have gone out to Scottish Athletics in the hopes that the representatives there may have more contacts who may be interested in guiding a long distance running event. There were a lot of "hopes" in those sentences.
My plan is to get involved in the sporting community via long distance running and slowly make the transition back to triathlon. Long distance runners and triathletes seem to chat and I figure somewhere along the way, I'll find someone who thinks guiding in triathlon is a good idea. Or, perhaps, one of my long distance guides will become interested in the prospect of competing in triathlon and I can convert him or her. Regardless of the outcome, I know I have to attack this lack of guide problem from another angle and long distance running is my grand idea.
Getting myself motivated again is another important aspect of my master plan. If, or should I say when, guides come along, I can't be completely out of shape because I've been sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself. To combat my lack of motivation, I've signed up for an online training log that tracks everything from times, calories burned, heart rates, distances, various sports/activities Etc. The program allows you to commit to group goals that other members have also committed to. This element of accountability will, in theory, get me back on track; or should I say, treadmill?
Tomorrow's workout has been logged as "pending"-a 3 mile run-and I intend to change its status to "completed."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Training With a Cause: An Introduction

Besides training for triathlons, there is something else that is very near and dear to my heart:
Glacier (My current guide dog).

That's right: I'm a crazy dog lover; especially Labrador Retrievers. From the age of six, I have always had at least one Labrador in my life. Granted, two of them have been guide dogs, and another is my husband's guide dog, but Labradors are always around. So, that is why I thought it fitting that the cause I trained for was a Labrador Retriever Rescue.
is a non-profit organisation that re-homes Labradors all over Scotland. The organisation is quite active and even has a very busy and welcoming Facebook page.
With the current economy, and many other reasons, dogs are being re-homed on a regular basis. Labrador Retriever Rescue  Scotland (LRRS), works in conjunction with current owners in attempting to rectify issues before re-homing is considered. If a Labrador does need to be re-homed, LRRS works very hard to find the dog the perfect forever home. New owners are required to stay in contact with LRRS throughout the adopted dog's life and in return receives advice on a myriad of topics, including but not limited to: health, training and diet. Where possible LRRS likes to find homes for Labs where they can work: some have gone on to be great  scent dogs. The bottom line for LRRS is, that a dog is placed in a loving, safe home whether it is to be a pet or a working dog. With my affinity for Labs and my great appreciation for working dogs, I have chosen Labrador Retriever Rescue Scotland as the organisation that I want to raise funds for while attempting to attain my triathlon goals.
How will I  go about this?
As of right now, a "donation" button will be added to a page I will create with all of the information pertaining to LRRS and my training goals. The donations that come in will be split between myself and Labrador Retriever Rescue  Scotland, with LRRS receiving 80 percent of the funds raised. The other 20 percent I will keep to pay for the necessary expenses of training as a blind triathlete. Triathlon training is expensive, but if you double those costs-blind athletes often have to purchase adaptive equipment and pay double for travel/race entry fees Etc for his/her guide-training in an already expensive sport becomes nearly impossible without a sponsorship. Labrador Retriever Rescue Scotland has agreed to the split and was more than generous.
So, today when I hit the treadmill, sweating my way through intervals, I will be thinking of all of the Labradors out there that still need rescuing, re-homing or vet bills paid for. If that isn't motivating, then I don't know what is. :)

Guide dogs need a break too.