Back in the saddle (sort of)

Well after a month I am finally back out running.  Double pneumonia is a drag.  Couldn’t hardly do anything and had to get two rounds of antibiotics.  Blah!  Anyway on Tuesday I went for a gentle 6km road run just to test out the body and lungs.  Man….I lost a lot over that month off.  I could still run but I felt it everywhere!  However it felt fabulous  being back out there again.  I really missed running.  In fact over the month that I had to take off, I sat here and coughed and watched YouTube videos of trail running;  aching to be out there in the forest again.

Well today I did a short trail run with Annie (my dog).  Took it easy and picked my way around a short loop.  The smell of the flowers and other vegetation was incredible.  I missed the trails more than I thought.  It was like being back with an old friend.  Managed to do 6.5 kms and it all felt right.  A bit stiff tonight but again, after a month off I’m not complaining.

Now I just have to take it easy and not try and overdo it.  It’s gonna take a few weeks or more just to get back in the swing of things but I’m not complaining.  I’m back in the saddle again!!

On a side note, I tried out a new app called RunGo.  Basically it’s like a car GPS but it’s made for runners.  You can download routes or plot your own.  I plotted my road run on my laptop, downloaded it to my phone and sure enough, it guided me through the whole run!  Now I travel a lot for work and I’ve always dreamed of an app like this.  I can be in downtown Chicago (or wherever), look up my hotel on the map, zoom out and plot a course and not worry about getting lost.  Turn by turn instructions keep you on your course.  It’s really amazing.  Apparently it works for trails too.  Gonna have to check that out.  Would be nice on a new trail where there are multiple choices on where to go.  This way you’re not getting off the trail you want and into something harder (or easier).  I think it was around $10 for the full version but you can use the free version as well.  No excuses for running in new places anymore!

Pneumonia (double damn!)

(note: the xray image isn’t mine)

So my cough hasn’t been getting better.  Had another doctor visit today only to learn that the infection hasn’t gone away.  In fact it’s spread from one lung to both now!  Poop!  So the verdict looks like it’s gonna be pneumonia.  Got sent straight from my doctors office straight to the hospital for an xray.  2 hour wait for a one minute procedure.  Now it’s straight to the heavy meds (one for infection and one for inflammation) and another puffer.

I’m having a hard time relaxing and waiting to get better.  All I can think about is the trails and how I’m not on them.  Doesn’t help that I’m on Youtube watching trail running videos.  Just making me itchy.  By the way, just watched a Netflix movie called The Barkley Marathons.  I highly recommend it.  This race has been going on for years even though there are only a handful of finishers.  It’s a race that isn’t advertised, you have to basically know someone who raced it to apply, and the entry fee is $1.69 US!!  It’s a crazy race run by a couple of crazy old hippies.  Those that get entry have to bring a license plate from where they live and an requested item.  One year it was a white shirt, one was socks, the one in the movie was a plaid shirt!  Apparently the organizer figures out what he needs and requests that item!  I told you they were crazy.  The race consists of five 20-ish mile loops with a combined elevation of 60,000 feet (two Mt. Everest’s!)  Great movie.

So that’s it, probably another couple weeks at least before I can run.  I have nothing that I can do other than take my meds and rest.  I guess it’s a good lesson again but will I learn this time!!

Okay, back to Netflix!

Lung infection

Dammit.

I had been coughing for a couple weeks.  Took some time off running to clear up what I thought was a minor cough.  After a week and a half it was still getting worse.  People around me told me it was the “100 day cough” and everyone was getting it.  Just had to let it run it’s course.  Okay I thought, give it a couple more days then I’ll start some light running again and sure, I’d cough still, but I thought it probably won’t get worse.

Wrong!

After a night of coughing so hard that I could hardly get a breath in, my wife (the smart one in the family) called my doctor and made an appointment.  Sure enough, I get in there, he tells me to jump up on his examination table, takes out his stethoscope and there it was, an infection in my right lung!  Damn!  Okay now I knew it was gonna take some time before I could hit the trails again.  So he send me off with a prescription and an hour later I’m going home with antibiotics and a puffer.  To say the last few days have been hell would be an understatement.  For 4 days I’ve only managed a few hours sleep a night and I’m coughing so hard that I thought my head would split in two!  Not sure how long it’s gonna take to clear this up but I won’t be hitting the trails and roads like I was for awhile.  Two weeks turned into 3 and it’ll be at least another week and a bit before this is cleared up.  After that it’s gonna be trial and error to see if my lungs can handle any kind of run.  Might be a slow path back to where I was but it doesn’t matter.  The first time I’m on the trails, out amongst the trees, all this will be behind me and it will be nothing but a bad memory and a learning lesson.

I think we all know deep down when something is minor or could be major.  I think I knew it was a bit worse than a normal cold cough and if I would have been proactive I probably would be over the treatment by now and back out there.  It just isn’t worth it not to get checked out when you get that “feeling”.  The worst that can happen is the doctor tells you you’re fine and need a couple days off.  Big deal.

Let’s hope I learned my lesson.

New shoes!

2016-05-08 11.57.04Well it was finally time to bite the bullet and go shoe shopping.  There was a time where I was up on the new trends for running/trail shoes.  Back when I was into doing marathons, half marathons, 10K’s, 8K’s, etc I would do my research.  I’d walk into the nearest running store and the sales person would say “You have to try the new ‘Sukiyaki 4000 XL2’s’.  They’re the newest shoe that will make you a super runner”.  I’d say okay, spend the equivalent of a months mortgage payment,  and I would wear them out in the same amount of mileage as any other running shoe I bought in the past.  And when trying to replace them I’d find out they weren’t made anymore and I would have to get the newest “Sukiyaki 4000 XL3’s”.  Only now I’d have to spend only a month and a half’s mortgage payment on the newest model!

Fast forward to today.  I have a store in town I go to (Kintec) and shop as local as I can.  I have no problem walking in there every time and asking to see what the cheapest types of shoes they have on sale (there’s always a sale).  Last time it was Brook’s 7 and Montrail somethings.  Both worked great, both wore out about the same as any other shoe.  So this time it was a pair of New Balance Trail shoes with the Leadville 100 logo on them (my new favourite race to read about) and a pair of Mizuno Wave Rider’s for road running.  I put them on, they felt great and I’m sure I’ll love both.

I’m not a competitor, no plans on being one except the odd race for the fun of it.  As important as shoes are, it’s no longer important to get the best, newest, shoes out there.  At my age and skill level a shoe won’t make much difference.  I love being out there and shoes probably won’t make me love it more.  The only exception is having different shoes for trail and road.  They really are quite different.  Trail shoes on roads are pretty stiff and road shoes on trails don’t last long.  Other than that, don’t break the bank, make sure they fit, and most importantly just get out there and enjoy running wherever you are.

Now if I can only get rid of this chest infection or whatever the heck it is and get out there and put some miles on!

Running vest

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 1.20.06 PMI finally made the jump and bought a running vest.  I’ve been trying to stuff so much into a waist pack and it was getting a little crazy.  Plus I hated how it bounced around while I ran no matter how much I cinched it up.  Not to mention I never carried water with me unless it was over 12-14km.  Not a good idea.

I have been researching these things for some time now.  I loved that I would be able carry water without a big bladder tied to me (although you can add that to this pack).  Also I wanted a pocket in the back big enough for a jacket, extra clothing, snacks, etc.  Everything I wanted kept pointing to this vest, the Ultimate Direction PB 2.0.  The only problem was the price.  It’s a lot of dough to lay down just to be able to carry extra stuff on longer runs.  So I put it into my “maybe some day” file and continued to run with my bouncing waist pack.

I was gigging in Calgary one day and decided I had time to run from my hotel down to where my Mom lives for a short visit.  On the way back I noticed a Mountain Equipment Coop and decided to pop in.  Nothing.  On a whim I decided to ask a clerk if they had anything that I may have missed. Well it turns out they had 5 of these in the back but they were the small/medium size.  I thought well I’m here, I might as well try one.  It just fit, which is a good thing.  I means I can’t gain any weight or it won’t fit!!  So I decided to make the plunge and the icing on the cake is that it was on sale because the new version is coming out soon.  Couldn’t resist.

So now on my runs I can take a camera, water, jacket, etc and it all fits into this pack nicely.  Haven’t even used half of the pockets yet.  There’s places for keys, ID, gels, you name it.  This thing hugs me perfectly and doesn’t move an inch while I’m running.  Feels great.  A bit of a back sweat on hotter days but it’s a back pack, what do you expect.

I’m now ready for any trail run or longer road runs.  No excuse!!!

Overtraining!

Okay, I’m not technically training for anything but sometimes I get a little obsessive when it comes to running.  For some reason the trails have been calling me every day and I’ve been loving running all the trails close to home.  I found some new trails that some mountain bikers have made and they are awesome.  One is really tough on the uphill side and the one I run down is slow and meandering.  In short I became so obsessed with this route that I ran it hard 4 days in a row.

Cold season has been going through our house like a freight train and it started with my 3 year old daughter.  Of course 3 year olds pick up every cold and flu out there and bring it home.  She had it pretty bad, then my wife got it pretty bad.  I was starting to feel a cough come on and a bit of congestion but it was at the start of my new found trails.  So instead of doing the smart thing and taking a day or two off, I hit it as hard as I could.  The last day I was really congested and it was 27C out there as well.  Needless to say I was having trouble on my uphill run.  I was running out of breath because of the congestion and the heat was kicking me hard.  Usually I can run through heat no problem but not that day.  Anyway to make a long story short, because I wouldn’t slow down I ended up giving myself a major cold/flu and knocking me out of running probably for at least a week.

Thats the thing, it’s really hard to admit to yourself that if you’re feeling rough that you should stop.  Especially us guys tend to think “I’ll just run it off, it’ll be fine”.  I never learn and always get knocked on my ass.  I’m sure the next time it happens I’ll probably do the exact same thing.  I’ll sacrifice a whole week of sick time instead of taking a day or two off to get back on my feet.

Maybe I’ll learn my lesson!

3 in 3

Just finished 3 shows in 3 days.  Always love the challenge of that but unfortunately sleep always takes a back seat.  Finally getting home means trying to stay awake to give my daughter attention plus not screwing up my night time sleep routine!  Nothing worse than falling asleep on the couch for 4 hours and then staring at the ceiling at 4am!

Flew to Winnipeg, MB early Thursday morning.  A “limo” picked us up.  It was an old worn out passenger van that was crammed full of our gear.  Some creative packing was needed to fit us all in but we made it.  Headed to the hotel and dropped our stuff off.  Our drummer, Jayson Brinkworth, contacted some friends of ours at Farmery Brewery and they came by and picked us up and took us to their new headquarters.  Great hanging with these guys as they are true prairie people and we all share common roots.  Spent a couple hours telling stories and getting caught up on how their business is going.

Headed back to the hotel and got sound check taken care of.  After that it was a meal then some well needed sleep (had to get up at 3am to get to the airport!).  The show (the clubs name was Nashville’s) was great.  Pretty full house and Aaron‘s audiences are always primed for a great time.  Did our usual show but changed the encore a bit.  Aaron always like to add a bunch of cover tunes as a medley before the encore.  This medley was different than normal and it was the first time putting it out there.  It’s always a exercise in fine tuning to find the right songs to include and cull the ones that don’t work.  I think the one that our guitarist  came up with is going to work pretty good.  Hey, the kids dug it so it must be right.  Anyway the night was fun, everyone played well and everyone was happy.  Mission accomplished.

A couple hours sleep that night then off to Calgary the next morning.  Got in around noon and got picked up by a shuttle that was again a bit tight with all the gear and people but we made it.  Off to the hotel for a bite, a short nap then off to the club for sound check.  The venue today is Cowboy’s Calgary and it’s housed in the casino on the exhibition grounds.  Huge cavernous place but set up nicely for live entertainment.  Sound check went great and after that we headed to the hotel.  I threw on my running gear and headed out to see my mom who lives in a seniors centre in downtown Calgary.  Always great to do a “pop in” when I’m in town.  I don’t get to see my mom nearly enough so I always try to get a visit in when I’m in the area.  After I ran back to the hotel (stopped off at MEC and bought an Ultimate Direction running pack!  Awesome!), got a quick shower and off to the club.  Big surprise tonight when I found out my other boss, Natalie MacMaster, along with keyboardist Mac Morin and drummer Brian Talbot were in town on a night off.  They came down to the club and rocked out with us all night.  Nat and the guys had never seen me play with Aaron before so it was a real treat.  My niece Katie also came by so it was a great visit backstage with all of us (didn’t get a picture.  Shame on me!).  We hung out for quite a while so it was a super late night again with little time for sleep.  Well worth it though to catch up and visit with everyone.

Early the next morning we got the shuttle to the airport (cramped again) and rented a couple of vans to drive to Camrose, AB.  Perfect drive to get some sleep but instead I decided to work on a new intro file and try to get it finished for tonights show.  Arrived in Camrose and went straight to the venue.  Big event centre with concrete walls and lots of metal around.  A real special treat for our sound tech Emil Gawaziuk! Ha.  Got our set up done, sound checked, then tried out the new intro.  It worked but needed a lot of EQ tweaking.  Back to the hotel, grabbed a bite with the gang and then got back to work on the intro.  Tweaked it with the help of Emil and then it was time to go.  Full house tonight.  Intro worked great and we were off.  Had a nice surprise as a lady by the name of Lisa Waiting was front row.  Lisa hired me for her band in 1980 when I really wasn’t a very good player.  Anyway we did some shows around her home town in Saskatchewan and every one of those shows helped make me a better player.  We got to catch up on a few things after the show but there is never enough time to actually get a visit in with old friends.  We had to get back and try and get a few hours of sleep before our flights in the morning.

Up way too early again and off to the airport.  I always say I get paid for all the travel I do and I play the shows for free!!  The time on stage is the best ever, airports and vans and lobbies and……, well you get the picture.  It’s long, tedious and really hard on the body but that 90+ minutes on stage still makes it worth while.  Hope that never changes.

Now I’m home and back to being a Dad and looking after things around here.  It’s great when you have balance in your life.  I love both of my jobs and I really hope I can keep some sense of balance going for years to come.  Looking at my calendar I have some great gigs coming up (and lots more airports, vans, hotels, ……..)!

Great weekend of music

Nice to get back out there an play music again.  It’s been a bit of a dry spell so say the least but it was nice to be home with my daughter.

So Friday saw me flying off to Edmonton for a gig in Leduc with Aaron Pritchett.  It was a fundraiser and they are always a bit interesting.  A real mix of people coming for the fundraiser that aren’t fans and then of course the fans of Aaron’s.  Always fun playing with the band and except for me messing up one intro it went off pretty good.  It has been over 4 months since I last played these tunes!

Sunday was the British Columbia Country Music Association’s Hall of Fame awards show (wow that’s a mouthful!).  One band and one person inducted were very close to me.  I was asked to play some songs on the show which was a real honour.  The house band is basically a group of top studio cats who call themselves “The Lyin’ Bastards”.  To be on stage with these guys (and gals) is a real cool thing.  So, the band inducted was Farmer’s Daughter.  I was in this band for quite some time and I was asked to play a medley of their songs.  Its been almost 20 years since I was on stage with the gals and they came on like they’ve been playing non stop since then.  Nailed all the songs and sounded amazing.  Brought the house down.  Next was an induction of my brother-in-law (deceased), Mike Norman.  He was an amazing musician, studio player, songwriter, producer, and the list goes on.  One of the most talented, hard working people I know and we shared a common warped sense of humour that is still unmatched today.  My wife and I made a speech about Mikes life and friends sent videos of congratulations.  It was a great award for someone who contributed so much to the association and the music scene in general.

So my soul has been nourished, bank account a tiny bit fuller and it feels good to be back playing again.  The rest of the year is started to fill up bit by bit but not so full that I can’t still do the Mr. Mom job.  Balance is the key.

Back in the saddle

As a “seasoned” musician of over 30 years (really!!), one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the art of saving.  By that I mean money.  Doesn’t matter what level you’re at, there are always “dry” times and times when it’s raining cash (well not really).  Things can change in an instant.  You can be gig-less one moment and a phone call or email can change everything and you can be crying for time off.  The opposite is also possible.  You can be the hottest musician out there and all of a sudden you can find yourself in an epic dry spell.  Hence the art of saving.

Happened to me last winter.  Finished a gig on December 5th and almost 4 months later I still haven’t played a live gig.  Now granted I’m not really complaining as I was really busy last year and had to spend time away from home and my wife and daughter.  That’s the bad thing about this business….the more successful you get, the less time you’re home.

Anyway, 4 months is a long time to go without work.  This is where the art of saving comes in.  It’s always great when you’re working to look at your bank account growing and it’s really hard not to start burning through that cash satisfying your “want” list.  “Jeez, there is a great deal on a new $7000 bass and it would really be nice to have that in my arsenal”!  But it’s a great time to reflect on what you have and what you need.  Sure, I’d love that new bass but would it get me an extra seven grand worth of work?  Probably not so maybe I’ll let that one pass.  Of course if you need to really upgrade then have at it.  My whole point is to save what you can because a month off can suddenly turn into two, three, or more and could you survive if that happened?

I’m back in the saddle in a couple weeks again, out there hitting the stage again with my buds and with that, starting to put money in the bank again.  I’m always grateful for that.  As much as I need to make money, I need to play music for my sanity and for my soul.  The summer season is coming and festivals and one off will keep me going through to the fall tours.  However I’m always aware that my situation can change in an instant so I try to be as disciplined as I can when it comes to putting money away.

You just never know!