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Have to acknowledge: apparently can't run . . .

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I've come to the reluctant conclusion that at this point I apparently cannot run.

It was so much fun experimenting with the podrunner interval programme plus the POSE technique: and I took huge pleasure in resuming running at the gym last winter, completing the 5k programme and then getting well into the "gateway to 8 k" follow up.

There was a little detour created by the surgically-removed toenail, but although that was ooey-gooey for awhile, no way was it going to stop me permanently: and I did get right back at it as soon as I could.

But: truth is, the right knee and right hip twinges were getting more and more frequent, persistent and finally blew up into really really serious pain . . . both knees, both hips, radiating and shooting . . . even when I wasn't running. All my carefully acquired new technique which had given me so much hope -- short stride, vertical posture, mid foot landing, running as if barefoot, fast cadence hovering like a hummingbird, never running two consecutive days, focusing on stabilizing the joints with strength training -- in the end, I couldn't delude myself any longer. It was not working. Years of 10 k a day every day, extended stride, heel pounding: I'm guessing that the damage was probably done.

Loved "identifying myself" (to myself) as a runner when I ran all the time: and was loving thinking of myself as a runner again. I't not just the running I love (and I do): it's thinking of myself as a runner.

When I found a few weeks agao that I couldn't run -- I stopped going to the gym much at all, without even realizing for a while what was happening. Working hard, short on sleep, just not rolling out of bed to get to the gym. Playing golf instead. Rather than admitting to myself that I wan't going to the gym at least in part because I couldn't run. And although I haven't put on weight, no gym is just not a good decision from a health/fitness/stress management perspective. I'm just one of those people who needs to work out: cardio, weights, abs, stretching: it's key for me.

And so: I'm back on the elliptical cross trainer again. Don't like it nearly as much as running, it doesn't give me that endorphin rush. And giving up running makes me feel about 107 -- But settling for the elliptical or the cross trainer or the rowing machine has to be much much better than getting myself into a state where I won't be able to do any significant cardio fitness at all. Now THAT really really is not happening!!

There it is. Not gonna pout about it, still may trot carefully around the track now and again when I'm not having knee/hip pain: but I can't legitimately be thinking of myself as a "runner" any more (much as I'd like to). Fact is, I have major osteoarthritis in both hands, have had thumb joint repair (not a successful operation, would not recommend it) and there's every reason to believe that I have a tendency towards osteoarthritis in other joints too. No point in hastening that process by wearing them out.

Had great cardio workout today on the elliptical machine, worked up a huge sweat, burned 475 calories in 35 minutes: and then a thorough upper body weights routine plus abs plus stretching. Then a shower, a whirlpool, a steam room, another shower: what's not to like?? Not a twinge from hip or knee for the rest of the day while I zoomed around and got all my chores done. Which makes me feel about 37: and that's as good as it's gonna get!!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LUNADRAGON 9/27/2010 1:09PM

    Hugs. I can't run either - mostly due to heart murmur, but then again, the back is not so hot either these days. I hated giving up the idea of getting back on my street bike, but faced that little devil, and enjoy my recumbent bike when I can, and the back allows it.

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KALIGIRL 9/19/2010 7:59PM

    Sorry about your discovery, but BRAVO for attempting to run. I do not like the elliptical and walk outside any time I can, but have found biking wonderfully liberating - maybe you could try?

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PHEBESS 9/19/2010 7:22PM

    So sorry, I know you enjoyed running. Maybe some swimming, biking, and walking? There are all kinds of low impact cardio - doesn't burn as many cals, but easier on our aging joints.

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TRYINGHARD1948 9/19/2010 6:06PM

    Ellen, there is life after running. This is my husband's experience. He does walk and has learned to love other exercises but it is never the same. Some things we just have to accept and you are doing it in an excellent way. All the best. emoticon

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WHOLY_FIT_48 9/19/2010 5:05AM

    Having become a runner myself in the last couple of years, I can relate so well to the endorphin rush. There is no cardio exercise I like better than running. But your thoughtful and honest post about your struggle to run again and accepting that it is not to be reminds me that I must build into my cardio routine cross training whether it be swimming, biking, elliptical, row machine, etc. I've been resistant to doing that because I enjoy running so very much and mentally it's a challenge to do anything else. I read your disappointment and yet you have not allowed that to stop your determination to stay healthy and fit. You are and will continue to find what works in the reality of what your body and mind can or cannot handle. Great example and inspiration to the rest of us. Blessings.

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WALKINGANNIE 9/19/2010 3:41AM

    After all that you have been through and all your determination, I'm very sorry to hear that you have been in pain and are having to make adjustments to your programme as well as to your own self-image. It's obvious that this is a big deal for you Ellen.

Now that you have acknowledged the issue, it's good that you are making plans to adjust and to deal with it. Getting stuck into some cardio and gym sessions seems like a good idea - finding a balance between pushing yourself enough to get some endorphins going but not going too far. You know your own body and will be able to assess what suits.

Accepting the change mentally sounds at least as much of a challenge to you as deciding on the physical options. I know that you will work through this and come to acceptance because you have dealt with so much. I don't know if it would help to think of the spectrum between you running and you at your most ill? You might not be as fleet of foot now but look at what you CAN do. There must have been a stage when your current fitness level seemed unreachable?

I wish that there was something more helpful to suggest. Accepting disappointment is a big test of character - and character is something that you have a lot of.

Thanks, as ever, for your support. You are a very special person.

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GEODAWG 9/18/2010 10:39PM

    I can't run either and never could for long periods. Even in high school I never ran a whole mile. No stamina I guess! Anyway, I can walk fast!

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FIDGIEGIRL 9/18/2010 9:11PM

    Sounds very disappointing. Swimming?

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The Gentian's Bluest Fringes

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When I was in about grade six, our itinerant music teacher Miss Guymer started off the school year by teaching us a new song for September. Here are some of the words:

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

The miracle of Google means I now know it was written by Helen Hunt Jackson; here's the link if you'd like to read the whole poem:


I loved the song -- it was sung as a round -- and I never forgot it. But it bothered me that I'd never seen a gentian and wasn't quite sure what they looked like.

As it turned out, it was almost 30 years before I found a blue fringed flower one September in a conservation area when I was out walking with my kids: it was unfamiliar to me, and I remembered the gentian song. When I looked the flower up in my wildflower reference -- there is was: fringed gentian. And such a gorgeous deep mauvy blue

That September when my kids were small there were only a few plants growing in among the goldenrod and the asters at the edge of a pond. Today, more than a decade later, I went back to look again. We've had an exceptionally warm and rainy summer: there is now about a half acre of gentians. The sun was shining, they were all open, and still an amazing blue: I don't know anything else quite the same colour.

Here's another link if you'd like to see a picture for yourself: apparently they are quite quite rare, biennials (living only two years, blooming only in the second year) and quite beloved by better-known poets than Helen Hunt Jackson!


All those gentians plus blue jays and deep pink waterlilies in the pond and the first leaves turning red -- but I was also on a mission for woolly bear caterpillars. None of those today. The width of the russet brown stripe in the middle between the two black stripes is said to forecast the length of the winter, but really I enjoy them because they motor so fast across the country roads. It's as if they're wearing jogging shoes on all of their feet! It's still a bit early for woolly bears: there will be time to find a few, and I'll be looking. They actually hibernate until spring and then form their cocoons: occasionally I've found one in a sheltered spot even in the depths of winter.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LUNADRAGON 9/27/2010 2:07PM

    Simply lovely. Thank you for sharing this.

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TRYINGHARD1948 9/17/2010 5:22AM

    As always Ellen, you add joy to my day with your wonderful word pictures. Thank you, hugs

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KALIGIRL 9/13/2010 1:13PM

    Your blog conjured up wonderful images of fall...

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PHEBESS 9/13/2010 1:10PM

    I'm smiling remembering my mother painting our cuts and scrapes with gentian violet - remember that purple stuff? It stained our fingers and knees for days!

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WALKINGANNIE 9/13/2010 12:58PM

    You have a keen eye for nature Ellen as well as a wonderful way with words. I enjoyed your blog and your shared memories.

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HAPPYNSMILING 9/13/2010 7:39AM

    I really liked your blog. I looked up the picture of the gentian...how beautiful!!
Thanks so much for sharing!!

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DBCLARINET 9/12/2010 10:42PM

    Awww, this post made me smile!

I love woolly bears, partly because we have an annual woolly bear festival here and during high school I played in the parade. Of course, that wasn't nearly as cool as actually FINDING one! When we were kids, you could be sure the kids on the playground in the immediate vicinity would all come running if someone found a woolly bear. So cute!

Thanks for sharing!

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They call it Labour Day because . . .

Sunday, September 05, 2010

yup, have a lot of work that I've got to get done. The usual laundry/groceries stuff, some dog grooming, a little attention to the garden -- but mostly "work work".

And today I whomped my way through a big whack of that.

With another round scheduled for tomorrow. (Highly time-sensitive deadline lurking, situation that would have to matter to anyone who cares about people at all . .. ).

But: tomorrow I'm committed to knocking off by 4 p.m. or so whether I am finished or not -- and heading to the golf course.

It's supposed to be a beautiful day!


How was it that the "labour movement" somehow bypassed my area of endeavour? No union, no overtime, no benefits: all the joys of self-employment!! And meeting payroll every week!!

Truth is: once had a unionized teaching job, and although I loved to teach, I really did not enjoy the resulting workplace politics. I do prefer being my own boss, doing whatever I need to do to get things done in accordance with my own OCD personality -- and then taking time off freely when pressures lessen. By and large, it suits me most of the time; particularly when I have got it done. Just another example of after-acquired motivation, I guess.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 9/8/2010 7:09AM

    I hope you had a fun time out at the golf course and enjoyed your day! :) You sound very happy with life, work, family, charlie, everything else and you! Have a beautiful day!

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KALIGIRL 9/7/2010 1:55PM

    Glad you took time for golf!

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DREMARGRL 9/7/2010 7:18AM

    Hubs was a teacher for 38 years and loved it most of the time, but spent his time in the gym instead of the teachers' lounge! lol. Worked for him.
I ran our businesses and I agree with you wholeheartedly....I LOVED BEING MY OWN BOSS. Sad to say....I also didn't have all the benefits one is accustomed to when working for someone else, but, hey.....I don't care! I retired myself 13 years ago and have loved every single minute. I sold antiques on Ebay for a few years, which was fun and lucrative.....Now....I just travel, clean, cook, take care of my family and play. It's wonderful and I hope you get to do that, too, one of these years. I'm glad you went golfing. Playing helps a lot! XO MaryAnn emoticon

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TRYINGHARD1948 9/6/2010 6:05PM

    Good idea to have a set time off and get out on the golf course.

Had just finished reading your blog Ellen and then looked at the Huie's motivational sayings for the day so thought I should share them with you:

Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work.
- Horace

The end of labor is to gain leisure.
- Aristotle

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.
- Anne Frank

They just seemed to fit. Have a wonder filled day.

Comment edited on: 9/6/2010 6:08:26 PM

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WALKINGANNIE 9/6/2010 1:21PM

    Hope you have a productive work day and then really enjoy your time on the golf course.

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TBANMAN 9/6/2010 12:52PM

    Have fun golfing today! It's pouring rain here.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 9/5/2010 10:38PM

    Wishing you a productive day and lots of fun on the golf course. I'll be thinkin' of you!
Usha xx

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SLENDERELLA61 9/5/2010 9:09PM

    Congrats on being so productive!! That being your own boss stuff is cool, too.

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WINE4GIRL 9/5/2010 8:16PM

    WOW - do you sound like me!!! I feel your pain - gardening, house bits, etc. You're right - if you work for yourself, the work doesn't stop, because we find something else to do!

Hope you get some down time - on your non-Labor day!

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Tomorrow's Lunch Salads

Sunday, August 29, 2010

. . . all made, sitting in the fridge ready to go to work with me.

And it includes: spinach, avocado, green beans, shelled fresh peas, radishes, carrots, red pepper, sliced brussels sprouts, large shrimp. I'll add lemon poppy seed dressing.

For my chopped fruit, I've prepared: fresh pineapple, small peach, blue concordia grapes, sweet cherries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries.

My my: this nutrition tracking requires so much deprivation and self-sacrifice. Not!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 9/8/2010 6:41AM

    YUM!! So healthy!

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FROSTIERACES 9/8/2010 6:41AM

    YUM!! So healthy!

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WINE4GIRL 9/5/2010 8:17PM


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TRYINGHARD1948 9/4/2010 6:26PM

    I see you are really doing this the hard way. emoticon

Lovely to see you and be able to drop by again. emoticon

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BRIGHTSPARK7 9/2/2010 11:26PM

    Thanks for helping me with my grocery shopping list! emoticon
SO GLAD you are taking exquisite care of yourself.

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IMAGINE_IT 8/31/2010 9:13PM

    Im coming over for Lunch!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PENNYAN45 8/31/2010 8:03PM

    I'd love to have some of that in MY refrigerator! Sounds deelicious!


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TEENY_BIKINI 8/31/2010 5:47PM

    Wow. Yummy!!!

What deprivation?!!


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1BIGDREAM 8/30/2010 12:21PM


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KALIGIRL 8/30/2010 9:33AM

    Sounds divine.

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WALKINGANNIE 8/30/2010 5:04AM

    Nom, nom, nom!

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Journey of Life: Five Travel Tips

Sunday, August 22, 2010

There's a fun article in the Saturday edition of the National Post about a recent travel writers' conference put on the by the Cuba Tourism Board . . . with a rebellious travel writer who decided pretty much not to participate in the programme laid on. Here's the link if you want to read the whole article:


But what I liked about the article most were the five "travel tips" he picked up on his alternate exploration with another travel writer. Which have general applicability beyond the travel context:

So here they are, in brief:

1. Wherever you are is where you're supposed to be.

2. Ask for what you want.

3. Trust your gut.

4. Smile as often as you can and as genuinely as you can.

5. The people you meet create the paradise you find.

Yeah, there it is. Why do we travel anyhow, except to find ourselves. And to re-create ourselves.

Maybe my "Murrican" friends don't get to Cuba very often -- and in fact although lots of Canadians love Cuba, I've never been there myself.

But probably all of this can be done, with the desired effect, from where we are right now.

Which is after all (see above, first tip) where we're supposed to be.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DONNACFIT 8/26/2010 9:10PM

    great blog,,let me get my pen to copy down those tips :)

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VALERIEMAHA 8/24/2010 1:39PM

    1. emoticon
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Love'em! Thanks...and I hope to make it to Cuba. I have a friend who lives now in Hawaii and studies dance in Cuba. She's bringing one of the teachers to HI for a workshop:


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KALIGIRL 8/22/2010 9:25PM

    Sounds right to me.

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WALKINGANNIE 8/22/2010 4:18PM

    These are great tips for any journey.

Thanks for sharing the article.

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    I may be "Murrican" but I hale from the northern mid-west... or as we call it "The United States of Canada"


Spenidng some time this morning doing some mental strength building by memorizing these five amazing pearls o' wisdom. Thanks so very much for the tips.


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SLENDERELLA61 8/22/2010 11:21AM

    Great wisdom! Thanks for sharing.

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TBANMAN 8/22/2010 11:16AM

    Wonderful advice - thanks! I'm off to read the article now. emoticon

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PENNYAN45 8/22/2010 10:50AM

    That is good advice! Thanks for sharing the list with us.

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DREMARGRL 8/22/2010 10:45AM

    I love those rules.....and try to live by them.....traveling or not. Thanks for the post and hope you have an amazing Sunday full of sniles and genuine love. XO MaryAnn

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GWENFITNESS1ST 8/22/2010 10:22AM

    I am traveling now and can really appreciate your comments. These are great travel tips. Thanks for sharing. emoticon

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VENISEW1 8/22/2010 10:18AM

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