Monthly Archives: November 2011

Asking for help, and other things I’m not good at

I’m not very good at asking for help.  I actually really suck at it.  It makes fundraising a little awkward, no?

I don’t know why I find asking for things so uncomfortable.  Maybe I’m afraid people will say no.  Or they’ll just think I’m weird.  But does that really matter?  People might say no, but I won’t know unless I ask.  And quite frankly, I am a little weird.

I finally took the plunge and started to tell people that I signed up for Joints in Motion, and the response so far has been really positive.  It turns out, lots of people really want to support what I’m doing.  Yay!  Now I just need to keep up the momentum, without becoming … you know, one of those annoying people who asks for money every you see them.  I don’t want to be that person.  But I really would like you to sponsor me for this event, and that means I need to ask.  So here goes …. [clears throat, and stands up straight].

Please sponsor me for Joints in Motion and help make a difference for arthritis. Every donation helps, and I would really appreciate your support!  You can make your donation online through my personal fundraising page here.

Even though the marathon isn’t until October 2012, my hope is to have my fundraising completed by May, so I can focus the rest of my time on being physically prepared for the event.  For me, May is when the crazy part of marathon training will really start, with long runs that get longer and longer, and daily training that will generally take over all bits of my life that aren’t my day job.  Completing my fundraising goal early will help give me the time I need to balance that (something else I’m not very good at). So please donate, and consider donating early!

I’m also not very good at staying in touch with people.  That’s one of the reasons I set up this blog – so I can share my progress with you along the way.  So check back here often for updates on fundraising activities, my training progress and other news that might entertain you.  And please, support my campaign.  It’s for a great cause, and it would mean a lot to me!  Cheers 🙂

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I couldn’t have said it better myself

Here’s an interesting video from the Arthritis Society, with stories told by people who are directly affected by arthritis.  Definitely worth watching.

Three things that suck about rheumatoid arthritis

It was my mom’s fight with arthritis that made me decide to sign up for the Joints in Motion program.  Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease.  An autoimmune disease is one where the body’s immune system becomes confused and begins to “attack” the body.  In RA, the target of the attack is tissue in the lining of the joints. This causes swelling, pain, inflammation and joint destruction.  Once damage occurs, it is not reversible, and it can cause significant pain and disability.  That sucks.

For my mom, it was most obvious in her hands.  She had trouble doing ordinary things like using a can opener or opening a screw-top jar.  As the years passed, the damage was obvious in the way her hands became deformed.  Later on, it affected her knees and other joints.

RA usually starts slowly and spreads to different joints over time.  Early treatment is critical to minimize or delay damage to the joints, but medications often have side effects.  What sucks even more is that they don’t work forever.  My mom’s diagnosis got worse with time as various treatment combos stopped working.  She had surgery on her hands when I was a teenager, and she went through endless combinations of medications over the years to manage her pain.

What else sucks?  Like many other diseases, there is no cure and no one knows why people get it. With thousands of people being diagnosed with RA so early their lives, more research is needed to help us to understand and treat (and maybe even cure!) this disease.  Support is also needed to help people manage this disease today, so they can live and enjoy their life without the pain that RA brings.

I didn’t understand a lot about my mom’s pain.  Like so many people, she didn’t like to complain.  I wonder today what more I could have done to help her, but there’s no real answer to that – I can’t change what she had to live with.  But through Joints in Motion I can do something to help those who suffer from RA today and in the future.  You can too.  Thanks for visiting.

OMG, there are mountains in Switzerland!

Lausanne, Switzerland

"Between the lake and verdant hillsides."

Of course there are, duh.  Where did I think the Swiss Alps were?  But I wasn’t thinking that this marathon is going through any mountains.

A friend recently said to me, “Switzerland, wow, that’s gonna be hilly,” and I said “no, no – it’s along Lake Geneva, it will be fine.”  Then I went back to the web site for the marathon, just to make sure.  It says that the marathon runs “between the lake and verdant hillsides”.  Between.  That’s the important part, right?  It started to occur to me that maybe that doesn’t mean “flat”.

I began comparing this description to write-ups for the half-marathons that I’ve done.  The Niagara Falls race is “considered flat and fast”.  The Toronto half-marathon is “flat, fast and scenic”.  The Ottawa half-marathon and the Army Run (also in Ottawa)  have been described as “excellent for first-timers and those looking for a personal best”.  The Lausanne Marathon is “between the lake and verdant hillsides“.

The elevation chart on the website doesn’t look so bad, but the pictures of the race course are making me a little nervous.  Really, though, what did I expect from a country that has 65% of its surface area covered by mountains!?

For now, I’m taking deep breath and reminding myself that I’m not setting out to break any records – I just want to finish.  In one piece. I’m also making a note for my future training plans that incorporating some hill work might not be a bad idea, just in case.

The tortoise and the hare, and other training lessons

I’m all about the tortoise. Especially when it comes to running.  I have never been a fast runner. I’m just not built for that.  I don’t run to win – I run for health and fitness, and because it’s cheaper than therapy.  I prefer the ‘slow and steady’ race strategy (although I’m under no illusions about winning anything more than compliments for my efforts).  My approach to training will be much the same. Put another way, move nice and slow, and nobody gets hurt.

I didn’t always think that way. Although I’m no Speedy Gonzalez, I used to be a little obsessive (!) about tracking my mileage and analyzing my average minutes-per-kilometre to make sure I was still on target to make my ‘race pace’.  I wanted each race I ran to be a personal best.  After a few years and a few half marathons, that became – well, boring.  The run became more about how long it took, and less about enjoying the scenery.  Going for a run became a chore.  As life got crazier, I started running less, which is the opposite of what I should have been doing, because I still couldn’t afford a therapist.  So finally, I decided to slow down.  To a ridiculously slow pace. I still tracked my mileage, but I set an alarm on my Garmin to make sure I didn’t go too fast.  There were people out there who walked faster than I was running.  And I loved it.  Less stress, less injuries, more fun.  Slow was the new fast.

I still run that way, but my love affair with running has still had its ups and downs. My last half marathon was over a year ago, and was a narrowly averted disaster (a story for another day).  I took a break for a while, and now I’m ready to get moving again.  My decision to take on the Joints in Motion challenge will help bring some focus to why I am running, and will help keep me motivated.  I have given myself plenty of time to build up my base mileage again before kicking it up a notch, which will help keep my injury-free.  But even when race day comes, I’ll be in no big hurry to cross the finish. This race really is all about the journey.

So although I won’t be taking any naps along the way, I won’t be going all out crazy as I get myself ready for Lausanne. I will be cruising the neighbourhood at leisurely pace, letting the dogs sniff the fire hydrants, and maybe stopping to smell a flower or two myself. I hope you’ll follow along.

“But you said running a marathon was crazy!”

I might have said that once.  Okay, I think I said it a lot.  I probably said it at least three times for each half marathon that I’ve run.  So that’s like, two dozen times.  And really, let’s be honest – it is a little nuts.  So if I think that running a full marathon is crazy, then why am I doing it?

Mostly, because I believe I can do it.  Well, I’m pretty sure I can do it, but it will be a challenge.  But if I’m asking all of you to support my campaign for arthritis, then I owe it to you to make my own investment.  Not just in the effort that it takes to raise money (which I don’t underestimate!), but the effort I invest in taking on a physical challenge that’s going to take some chutzpah.

Running a race of any distance is challenging in its own right, and anyone who takes it on has a reason to be proud.  I’m fortunate enough to have completed eight half-marathons.  Right now, for me, the full marathon is my Mount Everest.  The crazy distance that takes a level of effort, commitment and discipline that feels like a goal just beyond my reach. But I have a good reason to try (that’s you, Mom), and I’m confident that I can do it. And with your help, I’m confident that I can reach my fundraising goal too.

So yes, it’s a little a crazy, but it’s for a great cause and I think it’s worth it.  I hope you do too.  In the meantime, I’m looking forward to running a marathon in Lausanne, Switzerland in October 2012.

So what exactly am I doing?

Here’s a little snippet that tells you more about it.