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.