Run # 15 Jan 30 – Mundy Park 5K

Mundy Park

Mundy Park

Right now, here I am sitting at my dining room table blogging away.

Just a short while ago, I was in this very same spot enjoying two boiled eggs and toast with honey. It was delicious. I had built up quite an appetite after this morning’s run!

Following my ‘late breakfast feast’, I got my MacBook Pro out and was about to start updating my blog when my dear wife Marjory reminded me that I needed to go quickly and take our son to his Wednesday afternoon Challenge program class.

Once our little lad had been safely delivered to his afternoon class, I did a quick side trip to Starbucks and then returned home. Now I am back here at the table with a tasty looking non-fat latte close at hand, ready to tell you today’s running tale. So let the blogging begin!

First of all, I am very pleased to let you know that my brand new North Face jacket that I purchased yesterday performed exceptionally well on it’s first test run today. It’s certainly very breathable but when the temperature really goes up quickly, you can always activate the pit zips; they  open easily and work great!

It did not rain more than a few drops this morning, but when it did, the water just beaded right off the new  jacket, no problem at all. All in all, I am very happy with my purchase. It will work well for my running and also for walking, hiking and snow-shoing, I’m sure.

As for my run this morning, it was the usual routine for me. I dropped the kids at school and then headed for the trail. As I was telling my friend Kathryn as we walked from the school to our cars together, I really had no plan for where I would run first this morning.

Como Lake

Como Lake

I drove off and almost went down the hill to Port Moody, but changed my mind at the last moment and headed the opposite way towards Mundy Park. On the way, I swung by Como Lake to get a photo to post for you on last Thursday’s run. The lake was a bit more misty today but still quite beautiful.

After parking up the car at the park entrance, I remembered something exciting for today’s run. I have a new app loaded up on my iPhone 5 called Strava Run that will track the stats from my run using GPS. The fellow at the Atmosphere store that helped me with my new jacket yesterday recommended it to me. I go to Atmosphere so much for hiking, camping and running gear that I have got to know this fellow quite well and we usually chat about something to do with ‘getting out there’ while I’m there.

As I was about to take off on the trail this morning, I decided to put on some music for the journey. I went with musica intima’s ‘Into Light’ again, just because it’s awesome.

Then I clicked on Strava Run and pressed the start button. How exciting, I thought. This great little app and my amazing new iPhone 5 are communicating with a GPS satellite and together they track my running distance and time and calculate my average pace. The app probably does a lot of other things with the data that I will be able to explore when I have finished my run and have more time. Can’t wait!

Perimeter Trail

Perimeter Trail

With all of that technology stuff done, I headed off down Perimeter Trail to enjoy the simplicity that is running. Similar to last Sunday’s long run, I soon noticed that I was feeling quite a bit stronger when I am running. I now manage to maintain a respectable pace and do not feel laboured and desperate for breath. This is a good thing, I thought as I powered up the first long hill on the route.

I soon noticed that there were lots of unleashed dogs on the trail. Mundy Park is a designated off-leash dog area until 10am each day so I am no stranger to running through large excited packs of dogs. However, this was a lot more than usual but they were all too busy socializing to notice me.

I was feeling so good that before I knew it, I was back at the parking lot and feeling great. I remembered to stop the Strava Run app but really  didn’t look at it. Then I started my ‘slightly expended’ version of the chronic pain workshop’s Moving Easy Program. As I was finishing the last stretch, who should come up the trail but Kathryn from school along with a friend and their two dogs.

We said hi and I excitedly showed them my new Strava Run app. It worked beautifully but I was quite surprised to see that the Perimeter Trail route is only 4.1K. I thought that it was close to 5K. My time was 28:56 at an average pace of 6:58 minutes per km, which seemed okay. It certainly felt okay which is the main thing.

I guess that was just confirmation of something that I have known for a few weeks. I need to find some new longer routes either in the park or elsewhere. The park should offer something. After all, there are lots of different trails in Mundy Park and they are all beautiful. I will try and devise some longer runs there before my next run in the park. Otherwise I will just ‘wing it’ which would be okay!

As for my runs at Rocky Point Trail, well, I simply have to run beyond Old Orchard Park. I know this from my long training that I did for my last marathon, about 5 years ago now.

For those of you that might know the area, I would run from where I used to live at Lougheed Road and North Road, up and over Burnaby Mountain and down into Port Moody. Then along the Rocky Point Trail past Old Orchard and all the way out to Belcarra.. and then back the same route home. That run is about 32kms and would take me about 3 hours. Oh, those were the days!

As for right now, given what I have been through for the past 2 years of rehabilitation for my brain injury and concussion, I am very pleased with what I am able to accomplish.

Right now, I am really looking forward to running the Vancouver Half Marathon in May!

Run # 14 Jan 29 – Rocky Point 5K

Rocky Point Trail

Rocky Point Trail

It was another long day today. We are still doing lots to take care of my mother and father-in-law’s needs. Carl is doing a bit better but still in hospital and not yet out of the woods.

I did, however, get a lovely run in on the Rocky Point Trail in Port Moody this morning after I had dropped the kids at school. It was damp and quite overcast as it usually is here on the west coast, but there was no fog at the water’s edge when I arrived at the point around 9:15am. There was lots of snow on the mountains that surround the inlet but none down at sea level. I suspect that it was around +5C, which is a superb temperature to run.

I did my normal 5K run out to Old Orchard Park along the water and it was beautiful as always, but fairly uneventful.  What was nice this morning was that for the first time in this Vancouver Half Marathon training schedule, I really felt that I found my second wind and that I was running with relative ease. It was quite excited to make the turn at be Old Orchard Park and head for home with energy to space!

I got back to the car and did my Moving Easy Program, which is a 12-minute stretching program that I recommend to the participants in the Chronic Pain Self-Management Programs that I facilitate for the University of Victoria Centre on Ageing. I am going to try and do the program after every run. My current Earl Haig workshop participants will be so proud of me when I tell them on Thursday!

After my run, I grabbed two cups of coffee and a scone at Cafe Divano and popped over to the hospital to visit Carl and have a chat. The good news is that if he continues to progress with his mobility and the pain management program is working okay, he may get home by the weekend!

Then, after my hospital visit, I drove down to Atmosphere at the Coquitlam Centre mall and brought myself a new North Face ultra-lightweight and breathable running and hiking jacket. The zipper had gone on my old jacket so it was time for a new one.

The jacket’s a nice green in colour and it has a hood and pit zips too, which is a nice feature for long runs and hikes. It fits well on me and I think it looks pretty sharp.

I am so looking forward to taking my new jacket out for a test run tomorrow!

Run # 13 Jan 27 – Mundy Park 10K

Perimeter Trail - Mundy Park

Perimeter Trail – Mundy Park

Well, my life is still borderline crazy!

Essentially, I am stretched all ways with taking care of things for my father-in-law Carl while he is in hospital and also taking care of lots of things at home because it’s exam time in the piano world and my wife Marjory has pre-exams for her exam students this weekend.

To add to that, I’ve been staying up late at night all week getting all of my running logs that I have faithfully written since the New Year posted to my Blog. Needless to say, I’m exhausted but so glad to get everything done and caught up.

As for this week’s long run, I literally couldn’t find time for it on either Friday or Saturday, so I decided to get up early this morning and just get it done.My iPhone alarm first went off around 7:30pm but at least it’s soothing music. I selected a track from musica intima’s ‘Into Light’ album. It’s has an exquisite name … ‘Agneau de Dieu’. I love the album and this track in particular. Be sure to take a listen on iTunes.

After quite a few snooze buttons, I got straight into my running gear, did some laundry to make another dent in the pile, and then had a quick bowl of Quinoa meal mixed with raisins with almond milk and a splash of maple syrup. If you haven’t tried it, you really should. It’s just like oatmeal only even healthier. Yummy!

As I headed out the door around 9am, Marjory reminded me that I said that I would sit in on Megan’s Grade 1 piano pre-exam, which was scheduled for 10am at our house. ‘That gives me an exactly hour’, I thought. I better get the route right, time-wise.

So I decided to keep in simple. I would run up from our house to Mundy Park, then run around the park and then come back home. ‘That’s about 15 minutes each way to and from the park and a half hour around the park. That seems about right’, I thought, and off I went.

The Laurentian Street hill that goes from our place to Austin Avenue en route to the park is steep, so although I took it steady, I was breathing hard and glowing with perspiration within the first 5 minutes of the run.

Earl Haig Retirement Residence

Earl Haig Retirement Residence

At the top of the hill, I pass by the Earl Haig senior’s home where I am facilitating my Chronic Pain Self Management Workshop. I was hoping that I might see one of our workshop participants taking in some exercise by walking around the block, but no luck. They are such a lovely bunch at Earl Haig, their manager Stephanie is super and it’s a beautiful place to live. It’s a real pleasure for me to go there every week.

Within 5 minutes or so I was passing by our friends Kathryn and Nick’s house and soon after I was at the park entrance. By this time, I was too warm even though it was only about +2C. I quickly took off my fleece and put it up in the bushes thinking that I would pick it up on the way back. Phew, that’s better!

Then off into the park I went with the serene gentleness of musica intima’s album ‘Into Light’. It was filling my mind as well as my ears. It’s really quiet lovely for running.

I spontaneously decided to take a short trail that went into the trees off the main path. I was soon through the trees and onto my old friend Perimeter Trail.

As I headed up the first long and steady hill on Perimeter, my mind drifted and I thought about my first marathon. It was in the early 1980’s and I had started running to improve my squash game. After a month or so, I was running so much that suddenly it seemed that I had no spare time for squash!

1983 Toronto Marathon

1983 Toronto Marathon

I had been running full time for about three months when I first conceived the idea of running a marathon. Then before long, I decided that I wanted to run the Toronto Marathon by the lakeside. I used to live in T.O. and I have fond memories of the city, still do!

Since I lived in Calgary at the time, it was a big deal when I signed-up for the race and booked the air tickets. I was now fully committed and promptly put together my first Marathon training plan. That was an exciting time. It’s hard to believe that it was over 30 years ago!

As the Perimeter trail flattened a little, I drifted back and remembered how much I enjoyed my marathon experiences. Once I had started my training, I would be constantly making minor adjustments to the schedule based on how I was running and what life dished up for me. I always tried to stay true to my weekly mileage objectives.

Towards the end of my training, I would push myself to make sure that I did all of my scheduled long runs to build up my confidence and stamina for the real thing.

1985 NYC Marathon

1985 NYC Marathon

Then there was the last glorious week before the race when I was able to enjoy what was a relatively restful, low mileage week. I would be brimming with a quiet confidence that only comes with knowing that you have prepared well and you are ready to race.

I always remember feeling quite calm and serene on the mornings of a marathon. I would make my way to the start line, listen to the chatter of the other runners; we would have the countdown and then hear the gun sound. Then I would really feel the rush, that sudden surge of collective energy that seems to send thousands of runners slowly forward as one. There were about 20,000 of us all crossing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge together when I ran NYC. It was a beautiful thing.

For the first 10k of my marathons, my priority was always to ensure that I did not go out too fast so I would monitor my times carefully while enjoying the moment. Passing the half way

2004 Royal Victoria Marathon

2004 Royal Victoria Marathon

point with plenty of energy left in the tank was always a nice feeling, but it was so important for me to remember that I would need every bit of that energy later.

The next 10k after the half way were all about pacing for me. I would try to be very aware of the people around me but to run my own race. I might exchange a few words and a friendly smile occasionally but no more. I did not want to expend energy that I knew would most likely be required later.

They say that the marathon begins at 30k and I believe that to be true. Running from 30k to 40k is where you know whether your training plan worked and if your race pace thus far was right. Even when it seemed that I had got it all right, it would still take great strength and determination to maintain a reasonable pace and keep going during this part of the race. My mind would try and convince me to take a break and rest my tired and aching body, but I would have none of it!

This was also the time in the race when my overall body strength would be tested. I remember at this point, while running Vancouver one year, my upper body was the most tired and vulnerable part of my overall body by far. My lungs and legs were just fine but my shoulders and upper arms hurt. After that Vancouver marathon, I ensured that I cross-trained to make sure that my whole body had the endurance I needed.

1984 Vancouver Marathon

1984 Vancouver Marathon

Race organizers often mark every kilometer between the 30k and 40k distance and it can seemingly take an eternity to run just a kilometer at that time in the race. I would watch people slowing down, some would be struggling to walk and other had to stop with injuries. At that time, I would always be thankful for those long, tough training runs.

Once I saw the 40k sign, my spirit would start to soar and a weight would be taken off my back. My legs felt light again and I just seemed to find the energy for the finish.

1983 Toronto Marathon

1983 Toronto Marathon

When I finally heard the race announcer and the clapping and cheering of the crowd, my energy level would really surge for the finish.

As I entered the final stretch, I would hear the full roar of the crowd, see my family smiling, clapping, cheering, and beaming with pride, sometimes with a tear in their eye, my heart would soar with joy and anticipation.

Over the final 100 meters, I would pick up the pace but not too much. One must be respectful of others finishing and also avoid any last minute injuries. I would hear wall of noise coming from the gallery of spectators at the finish line. I would be floating on air in a dream like state, raising my arms as I went under the clock and across the finish line!

Wow, I was so into the marathon reminiscing that I did not realize that I had already gone up Heart Attack Hill. I was now cruising downhill towards the trailhead where I park.The run from the park back to the house was a breeze since it was mainly downhill and I was feeling quite good having now got my long run in for the week. I checked my iPhone as I slowed down and walked the last few meters to the house. Great, I had run for just over an hour and I still had a few minutes to dry off and put on another shirt before my daughter’s pre-exam. Perfect timing!

Mundy Park - trailhead

Mundy Park trail

When I first thought that I should run a race again as a part of my rehabilitation, my heart really wanted to run the full marathon. After all, I have done 9 of them and it would be nice to do a 10th marathon and get into the double digits.

To help ease my burden and also bring a smile to my face, my good friend Jeff Comba once reminded me that stopping at 9 marathons was perfectly respectable. He added that Beethoven and Schubert would certainly agree with him, since they both wrote 9 symphonies. Jeff has a music degree and is a talented French horn player!

So I wish to publically thank my friend Jeff. I have repeated his remarks on many occasion when talking to others about my 9 marathons. I also wish to thank my dear wife Marjory who tempered my heart’s desire to run the full Vancouver marathon. She reminded me of how far I had come over the past 2 years and to use my head rather than my heart when signing up for the race.

I used my head and followed Marjory’s advise and now I could not be more excited about running the Vancouver Half Marathon in May!

Run # 12 Jan 24 – Como Lake 4K

Como Lake Trail

Como Lake Trail

Again I had trouble fitting in my run. My schedule is just overloaded lately, as is Marjory’s and the rest of the family. I knew that I somehow have to make some adjustments to my schedule and take something off my plate soon, otherwise nothing I am doing will get done well.

Today was busy, I first had to get the kids to school and then drive over to see Bozena at the hair salon at 10am to get my haircut. She’s a great stylist, by the way, and a lovely person! Her prices are very reasonable too. I highly recommend her if you live in the area.

I was scheduled to be at a nearby senior’s home at 12:15pm to facilitate the 3rd in a series of 6 weekly Chronic Pain Self-Management Workshops.  Somewhere that morning, I was also planning to get my training run done! Tight for time, I drove towards home after my haircut and decided I just had time to fit in 4 laps of the Como Lake trail, which is about 1km in length. Como Lake is a beautiful spot in central Coquitlam, in the middle of a beautiful residential area. A real gem of a spot and a great place for a short run or a walk!

The run itself was fairly uneventful and I just focused on getting the laps done and dusted. I was somewhat amused watching the ducks and geese waddling out on the frozen ice. The air was crisp and clear, the sun was bright in the clear blue sky, so it was a pleasure to be out there doing a run.

So there were no reflections or grand revelations today, my friends. I was just pleased to have raised my heart rate and to have done the required distance.

After I had finished my run, I did a quick stretch up against the car, took one more look at the lake, jumped in the car and went quietly on my way.

Run # 11 Jan 22 – Mundy Park 5K

Mundy Park

Mundy Park

Today was one of those busy days where I had to get what I could done early, otherwise I would not get it done. My wife Marjory is still feeling lousy with her infection and she is still going to the hospital for IV antibiotics twice daily. Consequently, I have lots of extra tasks on my daily agenda.

My daughter was scheduled to go skating with her class this morning. So I picked her and a classmate up at 9:30am, drove them to the rink, helped them into their skates, got them to the ice, and I left them in the capable hands of their teacher.

They both smiled as the skated off across the ice surrounded by their school friends. I was also smiling because, as you may have guessed, I was going out for my run!

I headed off down the road towards Mundy Park with the hope of getting in about 5K or so within the allotted time. They would be on the ice for an hour exactly 1 hour. I plugged in my iPhone ear buds and selected Miles Davis, yet again. I am not tiring of this album, I thought. His cool trumpet puts me in the right space lately.

It was not more than 10 minutes before I was entering the park and found myself going down that familiar Perimeter trail again I knew that I was a little tight for time and I was in the mood for something different, so at the first trail intersection, I turned off Perimeter and up Owl Trail, a route that I had not taken before.

‘Owl Trail, I like the sound of that’, I thought as I increased my pace a little. I was soon making good progress and running effortlessly through the woods. It was still a little frosty but very pleasant. Before long, I was headed up a fairly steep pitch and I was now breathing hard. ‘Good call, John” I said to myself somewhat sarcastically.

As I ‘knuckled down’ to tackle the steep hill in front of me, my thoughts turned again to my father-in-law Carl, struggling to regain his health. With the number of specialists trying to help him right now, I also reflected on my own experiences with specialists over the past 2 years of concussion rehabilitation. I saw quite a few and the experiences varied dramatically.

My first specialist experience was with a cranial massage therapist who was recommended to me by someone in administration at the concussion centre. I visited this specialist quite soon after my accident. After just three sessions, I concluded that the treatment plan that she had in mind was going to take a long time and I was not feeling the benefits, other than it was quite soothing. She was a little annoyed with me when I told her that I was not going to continue, but I think that it was the right thing to do for me. You have to follow your intuition on these things!

After waiting about 9 months for an appointment set up just after my accident, I finally got in to see a neurologist. My first impressions when I walked through the door and then started talking with him was than he was particularly stoic and quite blunt with no bedside manner at all. After waiting 9 months to see him, it was quite disappointing.

He then asked me some basic questions about the accident, how I felt right now. ‘Are you depressed’ he said without even looking at me. I replied that I was definitely feeling miserable about the whole situation, and that seemed reasonable to me considering what had happened and how I was feeling physically and psychologically!

To my surprise, he promptly gave me a prescription for antidepressants and told me to rest and stay quiet. He closed our appointment by saying that I should come back and see him if the medication did not work for me. I was stunned as I left his office.

In fairness, once my family doctor made some adjustments, he antidepressant was quite effective at reducing the severity of my migraine headaches. I was not exactly sure what to expect from a neurologist but I expected a little more empathy at least!

Around the same time after my accident, I went to see an Ear Nose and Throat specialist who, as  it turned out, was quite helpful. He gave me afull  hearing test and then examined my inner ear looking for physical damage. Although he did detect some hearing loss in my left ear, which was a new thing for me, there was no physical damage seen in either ear. He explained to me a little about tinnitus and mentioned that if my tinnitus should still with me 2 years after the accident, then it would likely remain for good.

One thing that the ENT specialist did for me which was extremely valuable and fortuitous is that he gave me the referral for the St. Paul’s Tinnitus Clinic which allowed me to connect with Dr. Wilensky. My tinnitus, along with my general well being, did improve quite dramatically as a result of my EMDR work with Dr. Wilensky. However,  there is still ringing in my ears is still at the end of most days when i am tired and also comes on when I get stressed. So although the ENT specialist may have been technically correct regarding chronic tinnitus, it is possible to improve some chronic symptoms such as tinnitus with the help of a specialist and specialized treatments.

Another positive specialist experience was with an amazing physiotherapist, Jessa Eng, who I discovered in a Physiotherapy clinic close to our Coquitlam home. Marjory was there getting treatment for a hand problem. She’s a classical pianist and a fine piano teacher so her hands are important to her. Her hand therapist was fantastic and she was generally impressed with the clinic, so I asked the clinic manager whether they had anyone there who had experience with concussion therapy. They recommended Jessa, explaining that she specialized in treating neck injuries, so I decided to give her a try.

Well, within minutes of my first visit, Jessa detected an undiagnosed upper neck vertebrae problem and soft tissue damage caused by a whiplash from my fall. I was wondering why I still had neck pain. By the end of that first visit, I was feeling some relief and after just 6 treatments at the clinic and some daily neck stretch exercises that Jessa gave me, my vertebrae were realigned and the neck pain had virtually gone. It was quite miraculous!

So based on my experience, I would recommend visiting a physiotherapist experienced with neck injuries and concussion. It makes sense to me that if you have hit your head hard enough to cause a serious concussion then you probably have sustained a neck injury and soft tissue damage, so it’s advisable to get checked out early.

In summary, I have seen quite a few specialists over the past 2 years with mixed results. I guess that my ‘bottom line’ if you will, regarding the many specialists, treatments and therapists that you may consider seeing yourself or go to see on referral is to simply trust your intuition and listen to your body. If you have a good family doctor that you trust like myself, that really helps, but still you should trust your intuition and go with what ever works for you.

Suddenly, after what seemed like no time at all, I was leaving the frosty trails of the park and back on the road to the ice rink. By the time I got back to the car, I just had time to stretch, towel off, and quickly change into a dry tee shirt before going back into the rink and meeting up with my daughter and her friend again.

‘Wow, she’s really moving across the ice’ I thought as I caught the final few minutes of her skating. I was so impressed! Then it was the quick get them off the ice, skates off and dried, in the car, short drive back to school, back into the classroom routine. Whew!

‘Quite a successful morning’, I thought as I drove home to take care of the chores that were piling up at home. ‘Let’s see’, I thought. ‘I did some volunteering for my daughter’s class, teacher, she went skating at the rink and had lots of fun, and I discovered a new trail in the park and got my training run sorted.

Didn’t I do well!

Run # 10 Jan 21 – Rocky Point 5K

Noons Creek bridge - Rocky Point Trail

Noons Creek bridge – Rocky Point Trail

Well, I missed my planned long run at the weekend. We were just too busy with family activities, complicated by family health problems.

My father-in-law, Carl, who has been struggling with excruciating back pain since just before Christmas, is now in hospital for some serious pain management assistance and to check out some other known problems. Right now, I am not quite sure when he will get out. Realistically, it could be quite a a while.

Additionally, my wife Marjory now has to go to the hospital twice a day for IV antibiotics. She has a mysterious and painful eye infection that she most likely picked up while visiting her Dad at hospital. Ouch!

Well, at least they’re being treated at the same hospital! I’m just trying to find some positives regarding this situation!

One thing that this situation has reinforced is that stress still brings on my concussion symptoms. I have had headaches and ringing in the ears for the last few days and this morning it was particularly bad. However, I was determined to get a run in and get back on track with my training schedule.

So after dropping the kids at school, then ensuring that my wife was being looked after at the hospital, and visiting my father-in-law to say good morning, I drove down to Noons Creek trail that follows the creek down to Rocky Point Trail and the Port Moody inlet.

Port Moody Inlet - Rocky Point Trail

Port Moody Inlet – Rocky Point Trail

I quickly parked the car, jumped out and headed off down the trail for a nice 5K run by the water. Wow, it was nice and misty today!

Apparently, thick fog was prevalent throughout the Vancouver area early this morning, and the Port Moody inlet was no exception. I thought it was great, as I ran through the mist, along the Noons Creek trail, past the Salmon hatchery, under the old trestle bridge and then along the Rocky Point Trail path by the inlet towards Old Orchard Park.

I am very fond of this trail and I run it a great deal, but it looked quite different today. So mysterious in the mist, I thought, as a small gang of crows made a huge fuss and then flew off over my head.

When I reached the park, I checked my watch and I had only been running for about 12 minutes, so I ran on up to the road and continued my run. Nice water front houses, I thought. There probably was a time when they were affordable.

Old Orchard Park - Rocky Point Trail

Old Orchard Park – Rocky Point Trail

I looked ahead and there was a cyclist struggling with a broken gear change cable. There was a time when I had a good racing bike and competed in several triathlons but the bike was always my weakest discipline. I never fell in love with cycling like I loved running. The cyclist eventually got his bike going but it was making an awful cranking sound as he passed me just before my turnaround.

I took a few moments at the turnaround to gather my breath and my thoughts and then headed back with resolve along the road and towards the inlet trail.

I had my newly acquired Miles Davis with John Coltrane and Bill Evans ‘Kind of Blue’ album playing, which suited the misty day and my contemplative mood perfectly.

Despite waking up to headaches and tinnitus again this morning, I am feeling good and doing okay. After all, hear I am training for a half-marathon. Okay, it’s now taken me over 2 years to get to this point, following my accident. Yes, it’s a long time and I still have issues to resolve, but I am doing okay, and life is good.

I was now in the moments, running in nature and surrounded by beauty, enjoying every breath and every step on this most beautiful morning.

No longer pressured by time, I stopped several times along the trail to take some photos of my morning run so that I might revisit my experience once in a while, and also to share it with you.

Slowly but surely, the sun was burning off the mist as I made my way back along the trail toward the Noons Creek turn-off. And as the mist slowly dispersed while running by the inlet this morning, so did my headache and the ringing in my ears.

Run # 9 Jan 17 – Mundy Park 5K

Mundy Park

Mundy Park

I headed out at around 9:15AM this morning after dropping the kids at school for a nice 5K around Mundy Park.

It was chilly, around -2C and there were quite a bit of ice on the ground. Early on down the trail, I reminded myself to take small and calculated strides to ensure that I did not take a tumble.

It was a sweet but fairly uneventful run around the park, although I did see a group of ladies from our school out with their dogs for a morning walk. I gave them a warm smile and said ‘hello’ as I passed them and then accelerated a little up the approaching incline.

I did take the time to stop and take a few photos when the scene grabbed me. The early shots were cold and icy whereas the ones towards the end were much warmer with the sun now shining bright and the snow and frost on the fields positively glistening.

Before I knew it, I was back at the car park and feeling good. I forget to bring my watch but my body clock said it was around 38 minutes or so which was a good time considering my steady pace and the photo op stops. Best of all, it seemed relatively short and easy, which means that my training is already showing signs of paying off!

At this time of the run, I normally stretch and relax around a bench at the end of this run. But this time I decided to venture into a small glade of trees just off the path where I had stopped. As I made my way into the trees, I turned on my iPhone and selected ‘Kind of Blue’ by Miles Davis; my latest iTunes download.

What a great album, I thought as I wandered into the glade and started my stretches against a tree. It was a really great place to cool down. Miles Davis and John Coltrane just enhanced the whole experience. After my stretches, I stood and meditated for a few moments, focusing on my breath, the beauty of nature, and simply being present in the moment.

Meditation glade - Mundy Park

Meditation glade – Mundy Park

As I slowly meandered back out to the path from the woods, I saw the ladies from school and their dogs that I passed earlier on the trail, returning from their walk. We stopped to talk. They asked me how I was doing and we exchanged some small talk.

Then Tara, the woman that I probably have talked to the most about my injury said ‘So John, how’s your head doing with all of this running’. A fair question I thought, so I pondered for a few moments.  ‘Well, the ringing in my ears is loud right now, and my head may ache a little more later, but right now the benefits outweigh the increased symptoms’, I said, and gave her a smile. She gave me a warm and understanding smile in return. It was a nice moment.

I thought about her question and my response on my drive home and I concluded that it did indeed feel great to be running again.  To have a training schedule to follow and to be committed to running in a major race again felt great.

However, the increased symptoms I mentioned were real all right, and they were something for me to monitor closely. If it becomes a concern, I thought, then I must be prepared to adjust my schedule. Perhaps reduce the number of training runs that I do each week. All manageable, I thought, as I pulled up at the house.

By now, I was feeling very good and now looking forward to co-leading my second of six Chronic Pain Self-Management Workshops at the seniors residence just up the road from my house. The first workshop went well and the participants are such a great group of people. We will all learn a lot from each other during this workshop, I can already tell.

I really enjoy working with the University of Victoria Centre on Aging and co-leading the workshops. They are so therapeutic and positively fulfilling, for myself as well as the participants.

I will be sure to tell you much more about my workshop experience at another time!