Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Checkin' In

I am about three weeks into training for my 72 hours at the ATY and I've gotta say things are looking up. My friends tell me I don't update my blog enough so by writing this I intend to silence them. Three weeks ago I got a last minute text to be a part of the MitoCanada team at the Grizzly Ultra in Canmore. The Mito team has been doing incredible work raising funds and creating awareness for families with children battling this debilitating disease. Simply put by my friend Blaine Penny, "We run for those who can't". Not only did I have a blast that day hanging with friends at the Nordic Centre but we also won the race setting a new CR despite the slowpoke on the lead leg (me). The rest of the week I put up some descent mileage trying to slow my pace as I get ready for the painfully slow shuffle commonly used in these multi-day races. Saturday Oct. 17 my friend Misti suggested I run the MEC marathon the next day. Truth be told I was planning to run 40-50K anyway so I told her sure, what the hell. I
showed up race morning to register, the cost was $30, yeah that's right 30 BUCKS and that's the cost to us last minute folk. I later found out it was $15 for those with better planning skills than Mr. Proctor. The gun went off and my plan went to pot right away. I got talking with the lead group and my plan of holding a 4 min/km pace throughout turned into a 4:20 min/km first half simply due to the excellent conversation that we all were having. Half way in I picked it up to 3:45 min/km and came in around 2hrs 53min. I was very happy with the effort and how I felt at the end. Oddly enough this was my very first marathon, weird huh? Costing $30 I thought the race would be dodgy at best but I was pleasantly surprised with the race markings, aid stations, fuel provided, and start and finish line. I will totally be doing another MEC race again. Only two days later I ran at the Miles for Microcredit fundraiser who's intention was to gather as many
Calgarians as possible and try to collectively run, bike, or walk the distance from here to Guatemala to deliver much needed micro-credit to women in need. The week prior I was contacting as many runners I could to get them out to the Prince's Island Park in Calgary to join me in the attempt. I spent the whole morning and early afternoon circling back and running with friends. Problem was that all my fast friends showed around lunch so there they were ready to giv'er while I was already 50-60K in. Sheesh who needs enemies when you've got friends like these. The day came to a close with me running 67K. Since then I've run a few longer runs and am generally feeling great. Sharon's support for my questionable sport has been unwavering, thanks Sharon! The monkeys are busy having fun at school and the funds collected for the Care4Rare fundraiser are quickly approaching 5G's.

The closer I get to race date the slower my pace will get in order to prepare my body for the task at hand. In my opinion, the slower the pace the more collision takes place with every hit so an obvious adaptation must slowly occur between now and then to ease my tissues into the plan of impacting the ground 600,000 to 700,000 times in the three days. Now that I've put it that way I'm not so sure this is a good idea...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Across The Years for Care 4 Rare

In Glendale AZ from December 29 through January 1 I will be racing my very first multi-day race at the renowned Across The Years ultramarathon. The race will see runners run 24 hr, 48 hr, 72 hr, and 6 days straight with the objective of accumulating as many miles as one can travel within the time allotted. The rules are simple: run, walk or crawl. Sleep when you want, stop when needed and when stepping off the track one must re-enter where they exited. It's a flat course, incredibly well supported, and has stiff competition making the race a perfect venue to rack up a huge amount of miles. Sharon and the kids will be track-side along with my brother Dan, sister-in-law Laura, and my Mom and Dad kindly offering me their support as I attempt my largest running goal yet. The lofty goal has two parts, one of far more importance.

One goal is to break the 48 and 72 hour Canadian records. The 48 hour record is currently held by Canadian running legend Trishul Cherns set in 1995 when he ran 355.875K. The 72 hour record is 496.482K held by a pedestrian racer by the name of Richard Lacouse, completed in New York city in December of 1881. Yes, that's right, 1881! That's a 134 year old record!!! In a future blog post I'll write about the fascinating pedestrian racing history in the late 1800's and I promise you it'll blow your mind; the truly amazing athletic feats our ancestors were achieving well over 100 years ago. After setting a new Canadian 24 hour record in April 2015 of running 257.093K, I feel these two goals are lofty but yet obtainable. I hope to only sleep 2-3 times for a maximum of 90 minutes per sleep session. Should get interesting.

My other goal, and by far the most important of the two, is to create awareness and funding for an organization that has grown near and dear to us Proctors called Care 4 Rare. This is a wonderful group of scientists, clinicians, bioinformaticians, and researchers with the goal of improved clinical care for patients and families affected by rare diseases.

Our story began in March of 2010 when our son Sam was rushed to the hospital with flaccid paralysis. Terrified, Sharon and I looked on as our 13 month old perfectly healthy son was now hardly able to turn his head and blink. After numerous tests the doctors at the Alberta Children's Hospital informed us that there was nothing they could find that caused this episode and it was most likely a virus that attacked Sam's brain and that he will most likely recover quickly and this will be just a bad memory. Sam's recovery was swift,  all except we noticed he was all wobbly and wibbley. In March of 2011 our world was shaken when Sam was hospitalized yet again with the exact same symptoms that crippled him one year prior. This round the recovery was slower and the worry deepened as Sharon and I came to grips that this was a serious ongoing issue that needed serious
attention. A team of neurologists, geneticists, and countless other doctors combined efforts. A trip was made to the Mayo Clinic and test after test were performed to identify what was ailing Sam but nothing was found. In the past 5 years, we received over-the-top support from government agencies, organizations like Cause And Effect, physiotherapists, OT's, and most notably Sam's CDF (Child Development Facilitator) Nicole Lightfoot. Sam will be turning seven this coming February. He finds all gross and fine motor skills challenging such as walking, feeding himself, writing, and everyday things we all take for granted. We've been spending the past few years coming to grips with the notion that we will most likely never have an idea what is causing our son's ataxia (lack of balance and coordination) and better preparing him for a life of challenges...

...That is until three months ago when we had a meeting with geneticist Dr. Micheil Innes from a group called Care 4 Rare. He explained a study called whole exome sequencing in where they could investigate Sam's entire genetic data in search for the glitch that causes Sam's ataxia. This is the latest and most detailed genetic investigation method. It was music to our ears when he broke the news that Sam and 499 other children with undiagnosed diseases and disorders from all across Canada will partake in this $11 million study to identify new genetic diseases. Any parent will tell you that the feeling of not having answers and being unable to help your child is one of the lowest and most helpless feelings but now thanks to Care 4 Rare we have a renewed optimism and new found hope. Dr. Innes explained that given recent studies similar to this one there could be a 30-35% chance of a diagnosis upon completion of this study. THIS IS HUGE!

Currently, 25% rare disease patients wait 5-30 years for a diagnosis; 40% initially receive a misdiagnosis; and half will never receive a diagnosis. Securing a clear diagnosis means that patients and families can make future projections about their healthcare, tap into best practice guidelines, seek reproductive counseling, and potentially start therapies.  

In the past 5 years of parenting a special needs child we have found it astonishing just how many special needs children are undiagnosed. This baffled me, until I realized that scientists have just scratched the surface of the underbelly of diseases and dysfunctions science has yet to understand. What upsets me the most is that while Sharon and I are celebrating being part of this study there are thousands of helpless and hopeless families, many of them worse off than us, still left wanting an answer about their child's rare disease. This is especially disheartening knowing that the technology is ready and available but the only thing lacking is funding.


Some say the reason why rare diseases don't receive the attention and funding that known diseases get is because people don't identify with things they don't understand. We can all put a face to Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism. Here is the face of a rare disease...and he is beautiful.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Quick Update

A lot of you have been asking me how I've been feeling since my major and premature crash and burn at Run Rabbit Run only two weeks ago. The simple and honest answer is that I feel great. I've gone for 8 runs since and all's good in the hood. I haven't been pushing the pace or distance but I feel a bit of conservatism is necessary during the weeks following a hospital visit. The doctors agreed it wasn't my heart that failed only 2.5 miles into the last race but a number of other circumstances that led to my collapse on Mt Werner. The possible reasons I've had explained to me were exhaustion (16hr drive to get there), electrolyte deficiency, over training, altitude, low body fat, and a minor virus I became aware of 24 hours prior to racing. All things considered the one certainty is that I've gotta start taking my sport more seriously and it turns out that racing 100 miles is a damn hard thing to do.

So I'm gonna continue on with my race schedule with a focused effort of all the peripherals that are essential to ultra running. Any sign of chest pain, my season is done, like a midget at a urinal I'll be on my toes.

Yes I'm disappointed but self-loathing is so pathetic. Instead all guns are pointed at the next race and believe me you, it's a doozy. I'll be announcing my next goal later this week and not to hype it up too much but it'll be the most important endeavour yet.