Making it Happen in March!

January and February were very dark months. Not only due to the obvious lack of daylight and uncomfortable amount of cold but I was in a schlump. I was stressed with work stuff and family stuff and friend stuff and so instead of turning to my running shoes for comfort, I found comfort in curry and my couch. Melted cheese and glasses of wine. I would drag my butt out for a run or two but nothing consistent and nothing too difficult. I’d claim to be getting back on the wagon but that didn’t really happen for very long either. My head was too many places. It wasn’t pretty but at the time I didn’t really care.

Then one day, I did.
I was getting ready to go out and changed my outfit about 5 million times. I was trying to find something that wasn’t tight and looked good. It was pretty impossible. I realized that this clothing angst hadn’t happened for ages and I remembered how it used to happen all the time. I realized that I was starting to make excuses for not going out and staying in because I just didn’t feel good about myself.. and that’s when it all clicked back again.
I wrote before about how unless something clicks, it’s nearly impossible to lose weight and make healthy choices. We have to want to change and we must crave the results. For some reason, during January and February, I didn’t want that. Note: I wanted it, I just wasn’t willing to work for it.
And so now March is here, I’m eating much better, making healthy choices, getting caught up with my running shoes, doing high intensity workouts and just generally feeling better about things. My mood is improving and I’m getting reacquainted with the motivated and healthier me! I missed that girl!
The dark days of winter are behind me and summer is less than 4 months away. The goal is to be back to feeling good and fit when beach season hits! Not long now……!
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Alone Time

Since August I have been running in the mornings 4-5 times a week. I should be in amazing shape however I’m running with 40-60 girls who while lovely in their own ways, take up more energy than the actual workouts. It’s been fantastic running with them and coaching them and getting to know them and seeing them improve but I’m starting to become anxious to get this season finished.

I miss my alone time. Running for me is about so much more than exercise. It’s about processing and breathing and getting my head in the right place before the day begins. It’s about being in tune with my body and what my body can do and should be able to do. It’s about getting myself grounded before the day begins.

When I’m not coaching, I actually do the 4:44am thing which is earlier than my coaching wake up call at 5:21 but I find I’m way more tired with this coaching thing. From before 7am I have the little voices asking me all sorts of things and it doesn’t stop until I’m tucked back into my hobbit hole of an apartment at the end of the day. I’m not complaining, I’m just noticing that it’s starting to drain on me. But the season is fairly short and we’re in the final stretch so I know it will all right itself.

I have learned so much from coaching and am forever grateful for the opportunity to do it. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about my students, myself and running. I am now in the process of setting my own personal goals and trying to figure out what’s next for me in terms of running and races and all of that fun stuff. I’ve been able to witness the excitement of meets and actually, right now I’m in Guam for a tournament. All good things but I’m also happy that the season is short.

I am so looking forward to November 5th when at 5 am it will just be me and my running shoes.

I run because he can’t.

Hanging in my parent’s basement is a calendar. My dad put it there. He uses it to keep track of the many miles he runs each month. The calendar has been blank since April. You see he, the man who has been a healthy runner for as long as I can remember, has become very sick. About 18 months ago he had a non-cancerous brain tumour removed. He miraculously recovered from that and we spent Christmas running together, for the first time. We ran lots of miles, he and I, talked about many significant and insignificant things and I loved (almost) every minute of it.  I planned to return to Canada for a bit this summer and continue to run with him as he added miles to the calendar.. but that was not to be.

You see, at the end of April he was diagnosed with a very serious kind of cancer. The word “terminal” has been used by health care professionals. This Thursday he started radiation and chemotherapy. I came home as soon as I could and will spend the summer taking care of him and being with him and just loving him. It’s all kinds of horrible. To see a person you have loved for your entire life, in pain, sick, weak… is really quite earth shattering. We are believing, hoping and praying for a miracle but at the same time, trying to accept the reality that he is indeed a very sick man.
And so the calendar continues to hang in the basement. He told me that if he can’t add miles to it, I should definitely do that. And so, with all sorts of heavy emotion, I lace up my shoes, head out the door and run along the roads we ran along together, not so long ago. In a time when I feel so helpless and unable to do that which really needs to be done… unable to cure horrible diseases and fix scary medical conditions– I look for simple solutions and coping techniques and so, I run for him because he can’t.

Keeping it Simple…

Once upon a time I had a friend who was going through a really difficult time. She felt like something was inherently wrong with her and so she went to get help. She was looking forward to getting some profound insight into her problems and difficulties but she came back somewhat disappointed. The counselor told her: eat breakfast, put on your running shoes and eat a multi vitamin.

So often our seemingly complex problems actually require very simple solutions. It’s nice when it works out that way.

Other times our complex problems really are indeed very complex and there are no immediate solutions. There are only small things we can do to get through each day.

Currently I am facing something rather large and out of my control and so naturally, I am looking for big, powerful, mind blowing solutions and answers that I cannot get on my own. Nothing I can do can fix this situation. I can’t find the cure for cancer, heck, I can’t even figure out how the gears on my bike work…

So what can I do to combat this feeling of helplessness? I can take care of the smaller details in my life… the ones that I can fix and I can control. I can focus on simple tasks and duties that if I do, I can more easily let go and trust God with the big stuff.

For me, this means that I need to tend to my heart and mind every single day. I tend to wake up feeling pretty sad and overwhelmed, I’ve written about this before. But instead of giving in to those feelings, I can turn them around by praying, reading the Bible and filling my mind with Christ’s words.. usually set to music. If I make sure that I spend time every day getting myself calmed down and focused, I am much stronger during the day.

On a more practical level, I need to make sure I’m exercising every day. It helps nothing to eat and drink as much as I want. I find that once I get outside, get those feet hitting the pavement, get my heart rate up, I’m much more alive and stronger in my body.. which transfers to my mind. I like the world more on the days I run. Simple solutions.

Now if only I could find a decent multi-vitamin.

My One Year Runniversary

A year ago, I ran my first ever 10K but this post isn’t really about that…

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Around kilometre 19 of my first half marathon (3 weeks ago) I really considered packing the whole running thing in and never putting on my running shoes again. I regained a bit of oomf and made it to the finish but I must say that a part of me left my runner’s heart back there at Kilometre 19.

After surviving my first half I really had problems getting back into running. I took some days off (mainly because I could hardly walk) and tried to stretch and pep talk myself back into wanting to run again. It was tricky. I went for three measly runs, varying in unimpressive lengths.. 3km, 5km, 6.5 km. Each run feeling sluggish and pretty darn awful. I wondered if I’d ever get my groove back.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I checked the weather hoping for rain. I did not want to run the charity 10K that I had signed up for months ago. But I had friends there and I knew I probably should. You can just quit after 5K, I told myself and that was my secret plan.

I got to the Registration table, got my number and free t-shirt and proceeded to psych myself up. I would be able to do it. I could talk myself into it. Actually, once I got going It wasn’t very hard at all. It was a completely beautiful day! Bright sun, blue skies, warm but not too hot. My friends were all in high spirits and it just felt like a good day.

And so I started to run… I decided to use my trusty 10/1 interval medley and off I went. And you know what? It felt great! It was fun! My pace was consistent and I felt strong. I remembered and appreciated all of the energy during races and loved being part of the whole thing. I had friends waiting for me at the finish and cheering me on and that’s just a great feeling!

I had told myself that I’d just run for fun and hopefully not be too much longer than an hour but I finished in 57 minutes which I’m happy about. But what I’m really happy about is what happened somewhere around Kilometre 7: I started to love running again!

Somewhat Despicable Me

dear-me Dear Me,

Sometimes you are really rather stupid. I’m writing this so that you can avoid such stupidity in the future. So you ran a race and then what happened to you? Yes, you were sore and tired and a little over the whole experience of putting on your running shoes and so you just… stopped? True, people told you to take a few days off, to recover and to just take it easy. But you took it a step further and just stopped. You know what happens when you stop doing something that deep down you ultimately love…. you get all weird.
Today you went for a run for the first time this week and notice how awake you are now? Notice how much better everything seems to be? Notice how good that morning shower felt? Don’t forget that.
Running in the morning is something that makes you, you. Keep doing it, even on the days you don’t want to. You know that you actually really and truly are a better person on the days that you run. Running affects everything: how you feel about yourself, how you feel in clothes, how you feel about life, what you decide to eat for breakfast, what you choose to mull over in your mind and what you choose to ignore. Running helps you burn through negativity and shows you what to focus on. You love running and you know that it is especially good on the days you really don’t want to do it. So no more! You are back to being the girl who runs 3-4 days a week whether you want to be or not!
Stop being lazy and stupid. You’re better than that!
Sincerely,
The Better Version of You.

And then I ran a half marathon…

race3 Well I did it! I completed my first half marathon!

It was a beautiful day for running and the course was gorgeous seeing as most of it was all along Japan’s coastline. I had a good group of friends with me. One guy ran the half with me and the rest of them ran and dominated the 10K.
Now it wasn’t my best run ever and I probably would have liked to do better but I’m choosing not to focus on all that went wrong or what I could have done differently and just celebrate the fact that I did it. I’m still rather blown away considering it’s only been within the last year and a half that I even started running.
The run started off really well. We were making good time and my running buddy was focused on having us keep up a reasonable time. I was a bit thrown off because there were hills. Oh there were hills! But we persevered and ran and ran. We continued to make good time. Around kilometre 15 we had to veer off the road and go into this big parking lot thing around a factory. That was rather anti climactic and I sort of hated it. Also had to insert a wee bathroom break. But continued to keep going even though it was not fun in there at all. (the factory.. not the bathroom)
Around the 17th kilometre I started to really hurt. Like really. I kept going but got rather fragile around the 19th mark. It was hard to find enough mental energy to keep pushing. I decided I hated running and never wanted to do it again.
But then kilometre 20 came up and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was able to push through and got myself over that line in a time that I was fairly proud to see! (and I was the first white girl to finish! There were only 2 of us but still!)
It’s amazing how emotional running that kind of distance can be. I think I experienced everything, happiness, excitement, energy, fear, hatred, anger, resentment, and then a major rush and pure joy! No wonder I was so exhausted when it was over.
We spent the rest of the day at a fantastic buffet in a fancy pants hotel and then relaxing in the onsen. Hot spring bath overlooking the Pacific ocean.. bliss.
At this point I make no promises about future half marathons and definitely nothing about full marathons (that’s crazy!) but I am so glad that I did run that race. It was good to see what I had in me.
Now I’d better hobble off to work! Who knew there were so many stairs in Tokyo?!?