Stephen Smith's Blog

Musings on Machine Learning…

Posts Tagged ‘arthritis

Running for a Cause

with one comment


Today, I’m not going to talk about technology or ERP. Instead I’m going to talk about one of my other loves, namely running. I started running back when I was 35 years old. For most of my life before that I couldn’t put on weight no matter how hard I tried, I was perpetually extremely skinny. Then I turned 35 and things changed. I started to put on weight quickly, my only exercise was various weekend warrior type activities. As a result I ended up hurting my back during some ice skating and ended up immoveable for several days. As part of my recovery I went to physical therapy where they basically blamed everything on my lack of physical fitness.

Once I recovered from my back injury, I pledged to start exercising regularly. At that time I lived in Tsawwassen and several of my neighbors were avid runners. So I started getting up early and going for a run every second morning along the dyke. Once I got going, I joined the Tsawwassen running club the Bayside Striders. After that I worked my way up running in 5K runs then 10K runs then half marathons and eventually full marathons.

I found that only running and running the long distances required for marathon training was too hard on my body and I would frequently get injured. So after running four marathons I took up triathlon which then mixes up the training between swimming, running and cycling. Since doing that I haven’t had a sports related injury (knock wood). I worked my way up to participating in the Victoria Half-Ironman race. Then since then I’ve continued training, but only participated in a few running races including the Sun Run and the Terry Fox Run.

Setting Goals

I’ve found running and triathlon are great ways to stay in shape. But for the last year or so I’ve been letting other priorities get in the way of my regular training. As a result I’ve gained back some weight and ran my slowest Sun Run since my first year participating. I think part of that is that I haven’t been entering races. I think unless you have a goal it’s just too easy to let other things take precedence.


My wife, Cathalynn, has been afflicted with quite bad psoriatic arthritis for the past few years and volunteers for the Mary Pack Arthritis Program. She was attending a party thrown for volunteers and found out that the Arthritis Society was participating in the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon Charity Challenge. I found out about this just as I finished the Sun Run and realized that I would have two months to train and bring my running distance up from 10k to 21km for the Half Marathon distance. This seemed like an ideal goal. Improve my fitness by increasing my running distance and raising money for a charity I really believe in. So I set this as my goal, started fund raising and started increasing my long runs by 2km each week.

Cathalynn has written a guest piece for this blog on her Arthritis experience here.

2012 Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon

Setting a goal has definitely made a difference. Rather than just skipping a midweek run just because I have a busy day or too many meetings, now I find a way to get that run in. Similarly now my long run becomes much more important on the weekend.

Running for Charity

Running for charity is a great way to combine a running goal with giving back to the community. Fundraising is easy now with the Web, whenever you sign up for one of these, a web site gets created that people can contribute to.


So if you want to check out my site, its at:

and please sponsor me for this race. It’s a great cause.

Garmin Smart Watch

Well, I guess I can’t really blog entirely without mentioning technology. When I run I use my Garmin GPS watch which records my route and all sorts of running data along with it. So for instance you can see the data for my 14km long run last weekend here. It also has a heart rate monitor and will record your heart rata data as well (though I didn’t wear it on the run in the link). There is a lot of talk about Apple coming out with a smart watch, but I tend to think that Garmin has been doing this successfully for quite some time now. Incidentally Cathalynn gave me this watch one Christmas, so thanks for the great gift.


Running is a great way to stay healthy. To reduce weight and increase cardiovascular health. The main obstacle is usually fitting it into our busy schedules. Setting goals like big races is a great way to provide motivation and to give our running priority. Running for a charity is a great way to make it personal and to provides a great way to give back to the community.


Written by smist08

May 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Oranges for the Arthritis Blues

with 2 comments

This is a guest blog posting by my wife Cathalynn Labonté-Smith on her experience with Arthritis. You can sponsor me in my run here.

I sat on a denim loveseat drinking blueberry punch while flat bluebirds and delicate azure flowers peered down at me from the ceiling. No, it wasn’t an Alice in Wonderland-type daydream; I was at the Mary Pack Arthritis Centre Volunteer Tea in celebration of their 75th Anniversary. As a patient, sporadic contributing writer and volunteer, my interest perked up when I heard there were 10 free entries to the ScotiaBank Half-Marathon and 5K Run for anyone willing to raise funds for the Arthritis Society.

Steve was looking for a race goal he could manage around all those business trips. He loves meeting all of you readers and has a severe case of travelophilia. However; it does make it hard for him to fit in triathlon training into his busy schedule, but a half marathon when he was just coming off the annual Vancouver Sun 10K Run sounded perfecto.

I did that race in my pre-arthritis days. I envisioned a brisk downhill pace from the top of the University of British Columbia campus to the Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park. I didn’t expect a heat wave so I left behind my hat as did many other runners who succumbed to heat stroke that day. Being fair-haired and freckle-faced I don’t take to heat well and knew I was far off even my usual snail’s pace when the walkers started passing me. Finally, the ambulance crew on bikes pulled up to me and asked if they could have their picture taken with me at the finish.

“I know what this means,” I said between laboured breaths, “I’m dead last, aren’t I.” They didn’t get a chance to answer because a petite runner ahead of me passed out. I felt terrible for her but was glad that the cheerful paramedic pair cycled off to someone in much more need of their services–I was still upright, after all.

I was about a mile from the finish when Steve came into focus, “Where have you been?” he asked. I can’t remember my answer it was probably a half-sobbed, “Here.” He gave me a pep talk and got me to keep up with him that last painful stretch. In the end, I got my medal and fell apart like two year-old when I found out there were no orange slices left because all the food was gone to the finishers before me.

I thought life was tough that day because I was poorly prepared for a long hot run and they were out of oranges—until the Arthritis Fairy in her blue tulle dress and cruel twisted wand came to town. About six years ago I went to sleep a busy teacher and recreational athlete to wake up an arthritis sufferer.

Since then it’s been years of constant pain, crutches, physical therapy, occupational therapy, medical leave, water walking, splints, braces, four trials of biologic drugs, off-label chemotherapy, side effects, countless tests, specialists, total life makeover, adjustments, modifications, plethora of changes little and great, losses and gains, like two new walking partners (Chihuahuas Patches and Vicky) and the people who were the keepers, like Steve.

I won’t be running any foot races with inflammatory arthritis affecting over 20 joints mostly in my feet and hands on any given day, but I will be participating in a 1K Walk to fight Arthritis next month with my casual pokey posse—Steve, our kids with paws, niece, Katrina and her entourage, neighbours, friends, their kids and/or their kids with paws. To me this is as big a milestone as any previous athletic accomplishment pre-arthritis.

If you have arthritis or know anyone with arthritis, which strikes people between the ages of two—when sufferers are too young to even say the word–and 102, please consider sponsoring Steve in his half-marathon. There is still much research to be done to make the quality of life better for those of us who suffer from one or more of the 100 different types of arthritis. I’ll be dropping him at the start of the race making sure he has a hat and be there at the end of the race with a bag of orange slices waiting with a big smile on my freckled face. Go Steve Go!


NOTE: For those of you who will ask or just silently wonder about my last name. I didn’t tack on Stephen’s last name to Labonté. Indeed, I kept my maiden name—it just happened to be hyphenated and the second name happened to be Smith. I wasn’t specifically looking for a mate with a last name that was either Labonté or Smith to make things easier in the not needing to change one’s driver’s license department but it was a happy coincidence.

Written by smist08

May 11, 2013 at 10:35 pm