Wednesday, 30 January 2013

2nd Annual Run For Sherry

I wanted to draw everyone's attention to this virtual run in honour of Mother Runner Sherry Arnold, on February 9th, 2013.  It is being organized by Sherry's cousin Beth over at Shut Up and Run.  Sherry left home on January 7, 2012, and never came home.  The unthinkable happened to Sherry (Beth tells her story here), and now her family is left without a mother, this is such a devastating, heart wrenching thought.  I ran the inaugural run last year and sobbed at the thought.

The run costs nothing, all you are asked to do is print the race bib from Shut up and Run, and run, walk, cycle, snowshoe...Whatever you want, with Sherry and her family and memory in your thoughts.  The goals of the run are as follows:

  1. To get the MOST love, momentum and energy moving in honor of Sherry. This run symbolizes a hope for continued healing and honors a woman who was courageous, strong and loved by so many. When we run for Sherry, we also run for other runners who have been brutally attacked.
  2. The run symbolizes our promise to run as SAFELY as we can, but to not fearfully scramble inside to treadmills or to stop doing something we love due to fear. Please read HERE for more information on steps you can take to run more safelysource
I truly believe in the power of uniting in positive thought, and energy, and coming together in prayer to benefit others.  

Much to my Mom's dismay (Hi Mom!), I regularly run in the early morning.  Here are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe out there:

  1. Vary your route to prevent someone from becoming aware of your routine.  You don't want to be running by the same spot at the same time on the same day every week.  Don't be predictable.  If you don't have a number of safe routes to choose from, run your regular route backwards sometimes.
  2. Tell someone where you are going and how long you will be gone.  
  3. Stay on the sidewalk, but run towards traffic.  This allows you to see approaching cars,  and someone pulling over.  On the one occasion that someone pulled over as they approached me I immediately crossed the street.  They just happened to be pulling over to go into the house I was running by, but you can never be too careful.
  4. Stay in well travelled residential areas so you can go up to a house for help if you need it.  Run where there are businesses that are open early in the morning (coffee shops, convenience stores, gas stations, 24 hour gyms).
  5. Carry a cellphone.
  6. Carry a whistle.  
  7. Do not listen to music.  Keep the earbuds out to heighten your awareness.
Stay safe and keep running!

And just to bring a smile to your face after a serious post.  Cooper got a new shirt.


Will you join us on February 9th?

Share your safety tips with us!

Monday, 28 January 2013

A Winter Wonderland

Got up early this morning and headed out for my scheduled 6 miler.  I opened the door and realized I was in for it!  There was about 6 inches of freshly fallen snow on the ground, the snow had stopped, but there was some light freezing rain falling.  I am working nights tonight, so knowing I had no other time to get my run in, I headed out anyway.  Now I must say, I enjoy winter running.  A blanket of snow mutes the whole world and makes my early morning run even more secluded, quieter, more about me and about my thoughts.  This morning those thoughts were, HOLY CRAP I feel like a hurdler!


Unfortunately, I wasn't envisioning myself as one of those strong, agile, fast sort of hurdlers.  I felt more like these guys above.  I struggled every step to get my feet high enough to get them up out of the snow.  It was also slippery and unstable, so by the time I hit a plowed area of sidewalk about 2.5 miles in my hips and legs were already SO fatigued.  About 2 miles of my 6 mile route were plowed, and I was grateful for that and managed to get my 6 miles in for the day.  It felt like the hardest run I have ever done, my right hip and IT band were screaming at me by the time I got home.  Didn't realize the extent of the beating my hips took until I attempted and awesome through the legs light saber move during a battle with Lucas.  So stiff!

Not from today, but a light saber battle none the less.

I will count it as a fantastic strength training session and hope for a smidgen less snow for my next run.  Usually if I need to do 6 miles I do 6.2 (to make an even 10K), today I rushed home to get Leigh off to work, so my extra .2 was shovelling the driveway.  

Came inside to this adorable little face, ready to start the day.  

I love him!

We stayed home for a quiet snow day sort of day, that started off with making Rice Krispie Squares.

I think the "sampling" is their favourite part

Lucas left to play Lego once they were in the pan.  As you can see Cooper remained committed to helping "clean up"

Leigh ended up being sent home from work once he had already driven an hour to get there.  So we ended up with an impromptu family day.  Can't complain.


How was your Monday?

Snow day for you?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Marathon Training Week 1 + Cooper is a tough guy.

I have been well aware that Lexie is the better looking of the two of us (and smarter) and I'm okay with it. But yesterday's post by her threw me for a loop. See, I have always considered myself the comedian of our family, It's kind of what I do. Lexie is clearly going for that crown too. I guess I can always claim best beard in the family.

Try not to look up my nose.
Yesterday was a big day for us. Most importantly because Coops finally got to head back to swimming lessons (a big day for him). But also because I became a real man and learned how mortgages worked.

Cooper had a blast at swimming lessons. All the chicks digged his scar (I thought it was just a saying, but its true!) and all the dudes were scared of him (including Lucas). He even had to get a talking to by Lexie for acting up, which is a big time sign that he really is back to normal. But in all seriousness it was great for us to see him back at normal activities.

I swear we feed Lucas 3 square meals a day and snacks

In running related news, Lex and I finished week 1 of marathon training this morning. We both ran 9 mile (14.5km) long runs. For once it was not -20 and windy (my beard didn't even freeze, which was a little disappointing). It was cold but still sunny. We are both looking forward to next week when the temps get above 0 for a little while. Running in the snow has been wreaking havoc on our calves. For those you interested here is a little breakdown of runs we did this week:

3 miles easy (Lexie did both of her three milers together)
5 miles with hills
5 miles easy
3 miles easy
9 mile long run

I would say it was a successful start to our training.

I want to say thanks again to everyone who has supported us in our quest to raise funds for Sick Kids. We are almost halfway to our goal already. We are humbled by the generosity of everyone, and the willingness of people to share our cause with others. If you want to track our progress there is a link at the top right of the site to our fundraising page or if you don't want to look back up, you can click Here.

Please leave us comments! We love reading them and it makes us feel happy! For those of you having issues, it seems to have something to do with the mobile version, so feel free to flip on over to web version to leave a comment.

Are you happy here are warmer days ahead?


Friday, 25 January 2013

A Video and Portrait of My Morning Run

Still cold here.  This is me getting ready for my run this morning...

"I can't put my arms down"

Seriously, I also had to stop for a bathroom break 1/2 a mile in.

And also as I ran by the driveway of a Tim Horton's this happened...Don't know what was up with this guy.  I made direct eye contact with him, he slowed down, and then turned into me anyway.  Guess he needed his morning coffee...Bad!  Stinkin' Marv.

I Thought he was going to hop out of his car and yell "Santy don't the funeral homes little buddy."

And in other news.  We sold our house last night.  So glad to put an end to the constant, obsessive cleaning, and hauling the boys out of the house for showings.  We are never moving again.

Be back later with a photo from swimming lessons.


Thursday, 24 January 2013

6 Weeks

Today we hit a milestone.  Cooper's repaired heart is 6 weeks old today!  He is now allowed to have baths instead of showers, and goes back to swimming lessons tomorrow.  His sternum is still healing, but 6 weeks marks the time where the repaired bone is stable.  Since the day of his surgery he has done exceptionally well.  It has been incredible to see him progress through his recovery.  Periodically I have reflected upon the care Cooper received at The Hospital For Sick Children.  As we have said before, the care he received was exceptional, it is the driving force behind our 100km, $1000 goal.  Being a nurse myself I have an intimate knowledge of the challenges of the profession.  I know how it feels to leave your own kids for a 12 hour shift to take care of someone else's family, how it feels to miss lunch, and dinner, to not have a chance to pee for your whole shift.  As RN's I know these, and other challenges exist for all of us.  The nurses that cared for Cooper were extraordinary, despite the challenges of the job they do, despite the challenges I KNOW that Cooper himself presented to them, they treated him with such dignity and respect.  They let him guide his care where possible, they didn't push because they needed to accomplish a task, they waited until he was ready.  I would like to share just a few of the experiences we had.

In the playroom waiting to be called to the OR

His first nurse in CCU, "N," will forever remain as an angel to our family.  N is a friend of Leigh's cousin.  The Sunday before his surgery, when Leigh and I were not is a good place emotionally at all, Leigh's cousin Siobhan communicated some of our fears and concerns to N.  He went out of his way to  advocate for our family.  He spoke to the surgical coordinator, he volunteered to work an extra shift to take care of Cooper, and he addressed some of our biggest questions and concerns.  All on his own time, and all out of the goodness of his heart.  What an incredible blessing he was.  I seriously do not have the words to express what this did for us.  He brought us in to see Cooper as quickly as humanly possible after his surgery.  We watched as he cared for Cooper medically.  We sat by as he ensured that his vitals were stable, that his pain was managed, that his medications were administered, and that his tubes and drains were working appropriately.  But he did not only accomplish these technical tasks.  When Cooper was agitated he soothed him with a soft reassuring voice as he stroked his his forehead until he settled.  I was touched to see him care for my child in the way one would care for their own.

Day 1 post-op in CCU

At change of shift we were asked to leave in order to protect the confidentiality of the other children in the CCU.  We came back almost like flies on the wall, seeing Cooper's new nurse "T," with him. As I approached from across the room I watched as T gently used a sponge toothbrush to clean and soothe Cooper's terribly dry mouth.  I could hear her softly tell him that she was going to help him get all cleaned up and handsome for mommy and daddy.  This was the first time he was awake and alert and responsive.  He just looked so engaged in what she was saying, and I knew that he was connecting with her.  It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of this interaction.  It was such a heartwarming feeling.  Cooper had a hard night that night.  He was in a lot of pain, they had removed his foley catheter and then had to reinsert it later, he struggled as they had to milk the tubes that snaked through his chest to keep them draining, and he was so thirsty he just begged T for "apple juice PLEASE, it's yummy!"  T was calm and collected.  She continued to connect with Cooper, reassuring him, comforting him, and giving him every single last drop of juice or water he was permitted to have under his necessary fluid restriction.

Watching Treehouse

In the morning "S" arrived and ended up being Cooper's nurse for 2 full days.  She was young, no children of her own, but she knew exactly how to handle him.  She was so attentive, so gentle, so loving.  Cooper wanted to sit up in his crib, but was uncomfortable.  She encouraged me to climb up with him to make him more comfortable.  He was happy and comfortable watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates on the iPad, so she insisted that I stay in there with him as she pushed both of us from CCU on the second floor to the cardiac step-down unit on the 4th floor, all in the name of ensuring that Cooper was as comfortable as possible.  I spent the rest of the day snuggled in the crib with my baby.  It was good for this mommy's soul to lay there curled around my sick baby, I like to believe it was good for him too.

Our first walk.  True to form, Cooper attempted to run in the opposite direction!
These are just a few of the memories we have of Cooper's care at Sick Kids. This is why we are driven to give back.

Hanging out with Daddy and Lucas tonight

Swimming lessons tomorrow!  I will make sure to grab a photo to post.  He is going to be so happy to get back in the pool!


Leave us a comment!  Tell us about the great nurses that have taken care of you or someone  you love.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What's in a Name?

I'm sure the topic I'm going to cover today would have been a good one to tackle in the first ever blog post of our newly minted blog, but there was a lot to cover, so here goes.

Between the two of us we read a lot of blogs. Mostly running blogs, but I also am a big fan of this Chicken Wing Blog. I don't really eat a lot of chicken wings anymore (one of the sad casualties of trying to live a healthier life). Some of our favourite running blogs include:

The Skinny Runner

Shut Up and Run

Run Eat Repeat

Pavement Runner


Another Mother Runner (this was just proclaimed the best of all by Lexie)

Check them out!

Beyond being fun to read, all of those blogs have something else in common; snazzy names. So when I was trying to decide what we should name our blog I wanted something short and that would represent our purpose for starting this adventure (or journey?)

So let me get the point. I settled on Running for 555 because that is exactly what we are doing this year. It is not quite as funny and ironic as I was hoping but it works.

So what is 555?

The Labatt Family Heart Centre is near and dear to our.....Hearts

It's the numeric in the address of The Hospital for Sick Children (555 University Ave). There you have it!

Tomorrow will is a big day for us and for our blog. It marks 6 weeks post-op for Cooper, a big milestone in his recovery. So check into the blog for more on that tomorrow.

A big shout out to Lexie for running in -30C this morning!

What are some of your favourite blogs? 

Do you like the name of our blog?


Monday, 21 January 2013

Today Is The Big Day, and Our 2013 Race Calendar

Today is the day I have been waiting for since I ran this trail half marathon on November 17th.  Since then I have not been on a training plan.  I have been flying running by the seat of my pants.  Four days a week, 30 miles or so, no hill repeats, no speed work, just running to keep my legs, heart, and lungs conditioned.  Today marks the start of a brand new training cycle, with a brand new training plan.  We started a training plan from the July 2012 issue of Runner's World to prepare for our first full marathon. The one thing we failed to plan for when determining our race schedule for the year was this...

Just a little bit cold here right now!  And the rest of the week (3 more runs to do) looks even chillier!

Leigh hit the treadmill to get his miles in, but I CAN NOT STAND the old dreadmill. I would rather bundle up and brave the cold then run 6 miles in the same place! I worked nights last night, so I hauled it out of bed around 12:30 and thought of the ladies over at Another Mother Runner, told myself "Don't Think, Just Go," put on several layers of clothes, dug out my sunglasses and off I went for an easy 6 miler. I don't know if it was the excitement of training for a new challenge, getting out for a sunny stroller free midday run,  or subconsciously trying to speed up to get out of the cold, but I didn't have my typical post-night shift-dead legs. I found that I had to reel my pace in several times to stay within my target pace.  I made my loop just a bit too long, so ended up with 6.36 miles under my belt, with many many more to come before marathon day!

So what are we training for?  Our first goal race of the year is The Ottawa Marathon on May 26th 2013.  We are both gunning for sub-4 hour finishes.  We will also be running The Around the Bay 30K on March 24th 2013, which we have worked into our training schedule on our 18 mile long run week.  The miles we put in training for these races will serve us well as a base for our training for The Sears Great Canadian Run.  

We would like to thank all those who have read and shared our blog thus far.  Thank-you so much for posting it to your Facebook walls, and sharing it with your friends.

A VERY special thank-you to all those who have already donated to Cooper's Troopers.  We are at 28% of our original fundraising goal, which is inspiring us to try to blow our goal out of the water and give as much as we possibly can to the Sick Kids Foundation.


Leave us some comments!!!! (we fixed it so anyone can comment, no special IDs required!)

How are you coping with the cold?

Any race goals for the year?

Saturday, 19 January 2013

First Post. The Middle of a Journey.

Two years ago we started a Journey. It was one of many new endeavours we have taken on in the last few years including moving to a new city, starting a family, and starting new careers. It was a journey to better health, both mental and physical, for both for us. We started running. 

Finish line of the Niagara Falls Half Marathon


That's a question be both get often. Sometimes earnestly, sometimes facetiously, but very difficult to answer. We both love it, it provides an outlet for stress, a way to stay healthy, a way to model healthy living for our children, friends, and families, and in all honesty, an excuse for eating a few extra treats. 

In the last few months, it's primary purpose has been to serve as a distraction for a very difficult trial our family has been through. It has been a place to put our anxiety, a time to process our thoughts, a place to pray, and a place to cry.  

Not long after his birth, Cooper (our second son) was diagnosed with a VSD or Ventricular Septal Defect (Learn more here). It is essentially a hole in the septum in his heart that separates his left and right ventricles. For the first two years of his life it was a wait and see approach. It was monitored by a Paediatric Cardiologist and we were told by various sources it would close on it's own. Two weeks after his second birthday Cooper went for another check up. It was here that we were informed, much to our shock, that there had been complications that had arisen from the VSD and he would require surgery to repair the VSD, and the resulting complications. At this point we were unsure whether or not it would be open heart surgery, a possibility that we dreaded. He was referred to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto where we took him for a sedated echo (an ultrasound of his heart under sedation, where we learned that Cooper is a mean drunk!), and were informed that he would indeed require open heart surgery. We were terrified. But through multiple trips to Sick Kids we couldn't help but recognize what a special place that hospital is. Everyone that Cooper saw from his first appointment right through to his post-op follow up treated us (and most importantly Cooper) in a way that made this very difficult time bearable. The Nurses, Radiology Techs, Clerks, Doctors, and other people we came across we nothing short of angels in our eyes, their care was extraordinary. 

Cooper's 2nd Birthday

This brings us to why we wanted to start this blog. From our first days at Sicks Kids, we began to realize the importance of the Sick Kids Foundation and the need for funds to help keep Sick Kids a special place. So we began to think of ways we could give back. What could we do that would inspire others to give to Sick Kids so that parents and children could continue to receive the amazing care that we did?

As Cooper napped the afternoon before his surgery, I (Lexie), sat on the couch in a state of anxiety and panic.  I desperately needed a place to direct my thoughts, so I turned to Google.  What did I search for?  "Runs benefiting Sick Kids Hospital."  Because when I don't know what else to do, when I don't have the ability to fix something, when I am stressed and afraid, I run.  I knew that we could run to give back.  It was then that I came across This. A 100km relay who's proceeds support the Sears Cancer Clinic at The Hospital For Sick Children. I floated the idea with Leigh, thinking we might run it with the 7 person team we ran the Great Muskoka Relay (100km) with in September 2012.  I was floored when he came back with the idea of running it as a two person team!

That's when we decided what we needed and wanted to do to give back. We are challenging ourselves in a way we could never have imagined. We will each run 50km on September 21st to complete the 100km race between the two of us. 

Our official goal is to raise $500 each (a total of $1000) through fundraising efforts. But in reality we hope to do much more. 

We named our team Cooper's Troopers in honour of our brave little boy who is an inspiration to us.

Please bookmark this blog if you want to follow along on our journey and learn more about our running, family, and the great things that happen at Sick Kids. 

If you would like to sponsor us on our run you can visit this page: