My First DNF – Or Was It?

The Run

The i2P Run is a celebration of trail running and intended to highlight some of the amazing trails in Gatineau Park. The distances range from 10K – 100K so as to encourage a wide range of trail runners, it’s not a competition against others but instead against yourself! It is also a fundraiser for i2P (Impossible to Possible) with all proceeds from the run going to support this amazing non-profit organization.

My big training run was the Bad Beaver Ultra (BBU Recap) making my original plan for the i2P Run to volunteer. I asked my coach (Ray) a few weeks back if I should volunteer or run one of the races. His immediate response was to register for the 100K! I texted back a huge LOL and his response was “no I’m serious”. I then ignored him for a bit ūüôā This seemed insane to me. When I connected with Ray on the phone, he explained how the 50K night would be amazing night training for the Grand to Grand Ultra. He believed I could do the 100K but said lets focus on the 50K night and whatever happens the next day we can decide as we go.

So with just a week before my first stage race (BBU), I found myself now signed up for my first 100K! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, right?

Fast forward 3 weeks, and with the experience of BBU now available to me I was not really nervous about attempting the 100K. I actually felt strong mentally and physically leading up to it. Last week I was experiencing a little bit of tight muscles, more noticeably my right quad, and my right arch continues to need attention but overall feeling very good.

The Night Run (50K)

Participants of the 100K met at Breton Beach at Lac Phillipe in Gatineau Park as this would be the finish line (and most check points). Participants were encouraged to drive and park there as it was a perfect option to go back to the car to rest and/or refuel, again allowing you to carry very little.

From there we were transported to Cafe Les Saisons in Chelsea where the owner graciously allowed the i2P Run Organizers to host a private dinner for the runners. After dinner Ray Zahab, John Zahab and Mike Stashin shared some amazing tips. There was then time to get our things organized, chat with some new and old friends and then walk over to the Chelsea Visitor Centre for the start of the race.

I believe my lessons started with dinner. ¬†As with BBU, dinner was provided, ¬†more than likely you will be eating foods you do not normally eat. There was a note sent out to us that dinner was casual and if you wanted to bring your own food that was certainly an option. I didn’t worry about it and honestly only one person did bring her own food. I’ve never had an issue with food or hydration (until BBU). BUT then again, I’ve never ran these kind of distances before. Even with my training runs my longest are usually 25-35km back to back runs, with my longest being just under 45km.

my view as we headed out

my view as we headed out

We started at approximately 9:45pm from the Visitor Centre, up trail #1 (3+km climb), a loop around trail #6, down #30 to catch #8 and make our way up King Mountain. Lots and lots of stairs, no doubt contributing to my quad issue. We then began to make our way back to trail #1 and this is where my stomach issues started again. Gassy, bloaty and a wee bit nauseous. ¬†By the time we hit the first check point I felt like throwing up. It took everything inside me not to call it quit right there, but I didn’t. Of course, I did not let the amazing volunteers know I was considering calling it!

From there we made our way to Wolf Trail and headed down. This is when the knee pain started. Pretty mild at first, but the stomach issue was getting much better. I was now only drinking water and eating a few pretzels and crackers. Obviously this is not going to sustain me but it’s what I had to do. I also had a ginger-chew which is a bit like a treat and seems to calm my stomach. We caught trail #1 again and continued down to Meech Lake Parking Lot for another check point. This is when it was confirmed that a trail runner was missing. She was not from Ottawa and had somehow gotten turned around. Short story is she was found, she was fine and I was crazy impressed at how well she handled it all!! She caught up to me (and passed me) just after trail #36 that was very dark and lonely to run in the middle of the night. It is a beautiful trail that I love to run on during the day, if I had company I might have enjoyed it more through the night.

I continued making my way back to Breton Beach going through Lac Phillip camp grounds. I am not sure how long I ran with the knee pain but it continued to get worse, especially all the downhills. I’m guessing at least 15km’s or so till I finally made it in. I had 1.5hrs. to rest, recovery and get ready to head out for the 2nd 50K.

The Morning Run (50K)

When Ray heard my knee was giving me some pain his response was, “okay then were good. You did what we wanted, you got the night run in.” ¬†I of course, had not even considered not continuing. I immediately suggested that I’d go out for the next 23k and if I limped in we’d call it. I argued that he knew me and that I recover quickly and I could do this. He agreed ūüôā

85km Lake Superior Gate to Gate Girls (top photo Lake Superior, bottom photo i2P run photo bombed by Ray

My running sisters! 85km Lake Superior Gate to Gate Girls (top photo Lake Superior, bottom photo i2P run photo bombed by Ray

So at 8am it was back out to do the next stage, 23km. We headed out onto trail #55 with a smallish climb and then at about 1km we hit a downhill. I immediately felt shooting pain in the knee, I had to stop and walk down. If I was smart I would have turned around right then, but I’m more stubborn then smart. I could manage the straights and the inclines but had to walk almost all of the downhills. I finally hit the 12.5km turn-around. My sweet dear friend was there for the check point. I should have stayed with her and hopped in the van to go back to the finish, but instead we ate some grapes and I told her not to tell Ray ūüôā Again, stubborn!

So now I had to make it back to Breton Beach. At this point I was at the back of the pack. There were 4 walkers behind me and that was enough motivation to keep moving forward. I could not let them get ahead of me. I was now practicing mental toughness and doing everything I could to rid myself of the pain I was feeling (still mainly on the downhills). I started singing out loud for every step, and it worked. I was mastering the pain, I was pushing through and I could now start to run more downhills.

At this point I ran in to Steve and Sylvie and admitted to feeling the pain. They both told me firmly that I had to call it. It wasn’t worth it and I knew they were right. This wasn’t my goal race, I had to be in good form for G2G just one month away. BUT did I mention I’m stubborn?

I was still contemplating doing the next loop of 12.5km as it is more technical which I love but it would also allow me to complete 85km. With 8km’s to go I knew I had to call it when I got in.¬†I finally shed a tear or two accepting that the right thing to do was call it. BUT I still had 8km’s to get back to the beach. I used that time to work on my mental toughness and pushed hard to run without pain! I was lying to myself and it was working. I knew that when I arrived at the beach I couldn’t look at my watch or talk to anyone before finding Ray and telling him I had to call it – I needed the accountability to not let me go on. In the meantime, I came upon 3 separate runners at 3 different times. With each one my goal was to run enough to pass them and keep them behind me. Just a little win for me at the end.

Here is what I’m walking away with:

  • I ran a night run even though I was scared/nervous to do this alone (yay me)
  • Every run gives me an opportunity to learn and develop as a runner
  • I am mentally tough (yes, and stubborn but I can push past hard)
  • I have amazing and wonderful friends that celebrate effort as much as completion
  • I get so much enjoyment at seeing others achieve their goals
  • If you don’t go through the hard stuff, then you miss out on the lessons
  • I’ve come a long way! I only started running trails 2 years ago. My very first trail run was the i2P 23km run. I only seriously considered doing Ultra running less than a year ago.

So as my husbands said to me, “Did you DNF or did you run an extra 23km?” The goal was the 50k night run, I just wanted to do it all ūüôā

Have you experienced a DNF before? What was your experience?

 

Lake Superior – Gate to Gate Run

Goals and Friends

Running has allowed me to meet so many amazing people. I’ve met a number of people online and sometimes I get the opportunity to eventually meet in person. That’s what happened with my friend Agnes. Agnes and I met through facebook a little over a year ago when a number of our mutual friends kept popping up in our news feeds. Agnes and I both support i2P (Impossible to Possible) and we have the same running coach, so it seemed natural to connect.

From the beginning we supported one another with our running goals. The very first time Agnes and I met for coffee we chatted about our running goals ūüôā Agnes mentioned an idea she had for an epic run that she wanted to organize to raise awareness for i2P. My hand went up immediately, please sign me up!¬†Over the next several months whenever Agnes came to Ottawa, we would get together for a running adventure of our own making. It’s been fun. She is seriously a beautiful person with a¬†genuine heart to encourage others.

That of course was before I had any idea what my¬†own epic run in 2017 would require of me. ¬†When Agnes messaged me recently, with the details of her run, I wasn’t sure if I could commit. Would it sideline me from my own training? ¬†Did I want to put finances out when I was already under pressure for the financial commitment to my own run? Would my coach think it was a good idea? ¬†When my coach gave the thumbs up, I decided I had to do this with Agnes and the other stuff would work itself out.

I love what Agnes wrote on facebook about what we were doing? (copied below)

“ad‚ÄĘven‚ÄĘture: n. A challenging journey that pushes us beyond ourselves in a positive direction and allows us to engage the world directly, defy personal limitations, expand our understanding, and inspire others.” Tomorrow, this team is heading up to Lake Superior Provincial Park. This Saturday, we will be running from the North Gate to the South Gate, along one of Canada’s most scenic routes on King’s Highway 17 (part of Trans Canada Highway). This 83 km stretch hugs the rugged shores of Lake Superior, providing spectacular views that were a huge inspiration to Canada’s Group of Seven painters. This is not a race, there will be no medals at the end – we are doing this to bring awareness to impossible2Possible, an amazing organization that inspires us all to reach beyond our perceived limits and create memories of a lifetime.

The Weekend

The weekend started with a 12hr drive from Ottawa to Batchawana Bay, ON. I picked up Gesine early Friday morning and we were off. We ended up driving 12hrs, including a 2hr detour accidentally, but the drive was beautiful, the company amazing and I gained a new friend family member. Finally we arrived, met the rest of the team, had dinner and then a quick photo before heading off to our hotel to get organized and hopefully some sleep.

The Runners

The Runners

Woke up at 4:50 am with the sound of trucks whipping along HWY 17, the same hwy we would be running on. I’ll be honest, this made me somewhat uncomfortable to think that we would be running along this for most of the day/evening. There was no turning back, I pushed those thoughts aside.

Gesine and I realized we were not going to get anymore sleep so we got up and rechecked gear, clothes and of course water/nutrition (in the end we forgot our cooler of extra water/hydration mix)!! We met the other half of the team to start the drive to our drop off point, a 1.5 hr. drive along Lake Superior. We missed our drop off (construction on the road), making our starting time later than we had intended.

On route to our drop off

On route to our drop off

We finally got started close to 9:30 am and the temperature was already climbing, we knew we were in for a hot day.

The entire route was made up of rolling hills (part of the beauty when driving), with some inclines continuing for 2-4 kms at a time. The final 4 km was by far the the worst and steepest, but we completed it!

Shot this video at the 11 km mark along the route.

Some of my thoughts during the run:

  • I am not trained for road running
  • what was I thinking
  • man this is amazingly beautiful
  • no doubt people must think we are insane
  • these truckers are amazing – very supportive – I bet they are messaging other truckers to watch out for us
  • okay, seriously I am not going to be able to complete Bad Beaver let alone Grand to Grand Ultra
  • I don’t think I even want to! (see above thought)
  • Why am I even doing this…oh right, I wanted a BIG goal to demonstrate with hard work and a commitment to working towards my goal I could do the seemingly impossible – to encourage others to dream big….hmmmm
  • UGH why does this right foot always give me issues? I seriously need to have Ryan assess it
  • Just focus on counting, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; 1, 2, 30, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 20; etc.
  • This is spectacular! There are so many fire flies! ¬†It’s seriously magical.
  • Okay, for sure people think we are insane now – running in the dark on hwy 17 with headlamps/wrist lights and reflectors – what a site!

I’m sure there were a lot more positive thoughts as well but mostly they escape me right now ūüôā The whole experience was truly remarkable, I do not regret any of it! The reward was so great!

By mid-afternoon a thunderstorm rolled in with some lightning.  Obviously this caused some concern and we were careful to take cover when necessary. I believe we thought if we took refuge in the van the run could be over! I think we were all avoiding getting in the van. The temperature dropped significantly during the storm and we were drenched. When the rain finally stopped, the warmer temperatures and humidity returned. It did not take long for things to heat up again.

About 11.5 hrs into the run we needed to start preparing for night running. We had headlamps and reflective gear ready to go and of course we were very mindful of traffic (both directions). It was a unique experience for me to be running on a hwy in the dark with fireflies all around. I was accomplishing something I had never done before, the entire experience being etched in my mind and heart.

This video is of Anna and I with 5 km’s to go (for distance runners you get this time in a run when your brains have shut off and it’s hard to think clearly)

The goal: run from the North Gate to the South Gate along Lake Superior, a total of 83 km’s to raise awareness for i2P.

The start - North Gate

The start – North Gate

The Finish - South GAte

The Finish РSouth Gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

The experience: a total of 85 km’s (look out points/beaches along the route, running in and out of bushes (potty breaks) added to the total km’s. ¬†The route provided spectacular views of Lake Superior and gorgeous tree lines. The hwy proved to be incredibly hilly, the first 20-30 km’s seemed to be a consistent¬†incline. ¬†The middle portion seemed more flat(ish) with the decent towards the end. There was a final 3-4 km steady, steeper incline to finish the run. The support from truckers throughout the day was really special. 90+ % of them would move over (if possible), honk their horn and wave! Like cheering us on. Parks Ontario were on route to cheer us on and get some photos, they were really amazed that we were doing this.

Some of the views along the way:

(photo credits to Agnes, Pearl, Anna, Gesine and myself – as we uploaded a bunch and I can’t remember whose was whose ūüôā )

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Park Warden stopping in to meet us.

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Leanne RunsHere is what I learned about myself:

  • quitting was NEVER an option – did not even cross my mind
  • I will need to have salt tablets with me and use them before my fingers swell
  • little pieces of cold grilled cheese sandwiches does the body good
  • my mind truly is able to push my body to do more
  • I can run 85 km WITHOUT music – yup I did not play music the entire run
  • long steady inclines no longer intimidate me (steep hills I still despise)
  • I am trained more than I think – I was shocked at how fast and well my body recovered
  • I need to start asking more questions BEFORE¬†I agree to do things ūüôā

Most of my training has been in trails¬†so my biggest hurdle to push past was the physical and mental exhaustion of running road. It’s boring! With trail running my mind is busy looking ahead and anticipating where my foot is going to land next. I feel more engaged in the run when I’m out on the trails. Thankfully the route was beautiful as road running can get monotonous, just keeping one foot in front of the other.

We were five women who came together to share one goal, raise awareness for i2P (Impossible to Possible). We finished, having accomplished that goal but accomplished so much more in the process. The experience allowed some of us time to heal, a time to be renewed, to gain confidence, and a chance to encourage others. We also witnessed that some of our weakest moments  somehow were also our strongest.

My New Family

A highlight of the whirlwind trip was the company, the views were spectacular but the people I ran with are beautiful. When you drive a total of 22 hrs. with someone, you have a chance to get to know each other. I’ve never met any one like Gesine (The German Gazelle), I am inspired and in awe of her strength and her life story. Of course there is Agnes (Aggie Bear) who I admire for her experience and knowledge of the outdoors, her passion for inspiring and helping others achieve greatness and have fun! Precious Pearl is an angel, who took time off work to crew us and genuinely wanted to be with us and encourage us in every way possible. She stayed on course for 14 hrs to ensure we had food, hydration, we were safe and during the storm she circled around to make sure she was available to pick us up at a moments notice! Lastly there was Anna Da Bomb! Anna and I shared the experience of achieving a whole new level of distance together. We had both only ever ran 50 km’s prior to this run, so this was kind of a big deal for both us. Like myself, Anna seems open for anything, seems to enjoy an adventure and doesn’t ask a lot of questions. Anna quickly became my sista, someone who I knew was like me in a lot of ways.

Family

Family

I arrived on Friday in the company of strangers and left on Sunday saying good-bye to family.

Do you have a tribe either in person or online?¬†I’m extremely grateful for the running friends I have, in person and online.

 

 

May Madness

The month of May brought about some crazy weather, crazy training runs and crazy emotions! I am continuing to learn more about who I am during these training runs. Each one bringing more awareness of what I am truly capable of.

The beginning of May brought unusual temperatures here in Ottawa. One weekend training in long pants, t-shirt and sleeves the next shorts and a tank top! Certainly keeping things interesting.

I was finally able to pick up my new back pack and test it out. It is the Osprey Rev 24. So far it is working perfectly, my only concern is that it will not be big enough. It’s hard to imagine carrying EVERYTHING you will need for 7 days on your back! The other options I’ve been testing out are 25L (seems larger somehow) and 34L (love this one as the top rolls down and can be adjusted nicely). However the other two packs do not fit quite as snug as the new Osprey Rev 24 (24L) and fit is so very important.

So now that I’m testing the pack out on my weekend runs, I am needing to find the perfect top. I have always ran in tank tops in the summer, however for Grand to Grand Ultra¬†(G2G) I will need to be running in a t-shirt as it is mandatory to wear your country’s flag on the left sleeve. I’ve picked up two to test out over some long runs. One is from¬†Lululemon and one is from MEC. So far both seem to be doing a good job. It’s important that they are fitted and do not bunch up.

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the bear that was likely 10ft. away from the trail I was on, I took this as he wandered off

I’ve been doing back to back long runs on Friday and Saturday. For Victoria long weekend I added a third long run, making it three in a row. Each run ranged from 2.5hrs. – 4hrs and was 22-27.5kms depending on the duration I was out and how many hills were included ūüôā

I’ve had 11lbs on my back for most of the training runs. For the triple in a row I had 14lbs (including water). I’ve also been going out on new trails where navigating is part of the training, this can slow me down a tad! Running in to my first bear on the trail was also a unique experience.

part of the ski hill I had to run up

part of the ski hill I had to run up

Mentally, it was also a tough month, I began to feel discouraged about my fundraising results. I’m doing okay, but with a minimum requirement goal of $5,000 US and with the exchange rate, it’s not where I would like to be.

Discouragement had begun to settle in and I found myself having to encourage myself to not take things personally. I realize that there are many very worthy causes that are very important to people. People just cannot give to everything! However, knowing that your friends and family believe in you and support you can go a long way. The support I have received has come from some surprising places, and I am very thankful <3

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Back to running ūüôā I have never been a fast runner, and I knew going into training for this event I would likely be in the back third of the participants for G2G. ¬†My coach insisted that I participate in the Bad Beaver Ultra to help give me experience in a stage race, but also to build my confidence for G2G. I’m now realizing that I am very inexperienced with trail running (although I love it!) and I will likely come in LAST at this event. That is humbling….

Wasn’t that why I chose G2G though? To take on something that is beyond my comfort zone, that stretches me completely beyond what I would ever think I could do. I’m not a seasoned trail runner, I’ve never ran a stage race, I’m taking on a huge event to demonstrate that with a plan, hard work and an attitude to not give up, you can accomplish your goals. ¬†As individuals we need to look past what we think we are capable of and begin to allow ourselves to dream BIG for our lives. Make a plan, commit to the process and work hard to achieve whatever goals YOU have!

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I have resolved to not give up, even if it means I may come in last. To continue to work hard and to do whatever I can to make this goal a reality.

What about you? Do you have a goal that you want to accomplish? Are there steps that you can take to begin to work towards that goal?

 

When the going gets tough….you just gotta keep going

When you set goals, do you count the cost before making the commitment? Do you consider the sacrifices you are going to need to make? What about the kind of support that you will need? Are you willing to put the hard work in to make your goal a reality?

It doesn’t matter what kind of goal you set, these should be questions you ask yourself. When the idea of doing Grand to Grand came about I felt very strongly that I needed to do this. It was outside of¬†my comfort zone, it was beyond what¬†I was currently trained to do. I seriously thought that suggesting this to my¬†husband and coach would get an immediate response of,¬†“you’re just not ready”. I think often its a¬†good idea to bounce ideas off friends and family members, but in this case¬†it only mattered to me what my family and coach thought.¬†To my surprise,¬†my husbands response was simple “you can do it”, not as given me permission ūüėČ but he believed if I made the commitment to make this run happen then it would happen. Equally surprising was my coaches response, his only question was why I wanted to do it. As I shared with him my desire to encourage people, particularly young people, to look past their current situations and dream big for their lives,¬†it became very clear that it was extremely similar to the vision he has for i2P. I laughed out loud when this occurred to me.

Have you ever met someone whom you just know there is a reason why your paths crossed.¬† That is how I feel about my coach. We connected “by chance”, kept in touch and eventually¬†he became my running coach.

So why inspire young people?¬†Or really anyone who¬†might be limiting themselves to dream big or see a different life for themselves? I was raised by a single mom (with my father in¬†jail), with little extras in life. I grew up in neighbourhoods where patters were repeated, generation after generation. My mom wanted more for us, she wanted to break the cycle. I see¬†young people, especially today,¬†that have many challenges to overcome. Many kids today do not have the kind of support that says to them, “Believe in yourself”! I want to send a message to people to not focus on why you cannot accomplish something but instead start to look at what they would need to do in order to accomplish what they really want.

I knew the message I wanted to say but did not know how to tangibly demonstrate that message. How could I show people, that with a goal and hard work, the seemingly impossible could be accomplished.

Grand to Grand Ultra came across my newsfeed on facebook one day. I remember seeing it and thinking, wow, maybe one day. I had been running for a¬†number of years now¬†and loved training for marathons but this was beyond my current level of running. Then it hit me, wasn’t that the point. If I made a decision to chase this goal, to commit to the training and to work hard, wasn’t it possible to accomplish this. It terrified me but I felt that this was the kind of “out of my comfort zone” goal needed to encourage others to start dreaming¬†beyond their own comfort zones.

To my surprise my coach was immediately on board. Once I shared my reasons for wanting to do it, he said, “okay, lets do this”. He then went on to say how much he believed I could and would get me ready to do it.

I have been doing back to back long runs for a while now. Running 20km Saturday/Sunday, then 23km¬†on both days the following weekend, and even 29km back to back. All of it has been road running as I had sprained my ankle snowshoeing and couldn’t handle the instability of the trails/snow. It’s been good and I’ve been building up consistency. I had been running at least one of these long runs with the Running Room group for company as well.

IMG_0687About a month ago, my coach wanted to add hill training into the mix.¬† Both my long runs were now going to be up in Gatineau Park, still mostly on the road but with lots of hills mixed in. To get comfortable with the hills, my coach had me start with 10km both days, increase to 20km (both) the following weekend and last weekend he had me do 30km back to back. I have also been running these runs alone. I’m learning a lot about myself during these training runs.

What I learned this past weekend:

  • I enjoy the solitude that running alone gives me
  • I am no longer intimidated when seeing a huge hill
  • throwing an extra layer in the car “just in case” is a very good idea
  • figure out what you need to do BEFORE you set out for your run in order to get it done and not quit (ie., avoid going back to car in between loops)
  • use positive self-talk while running and recognize how well you are doing
  • avoid sitting on the “evil” chair (as a friend put it) when doing loops for your long run ūüôā

thechair

IMG_0659Preparing for these double long runs is requiring a bit more planning. I am now needing post run snack for the drive home and figuring out fuel for during the run. So far Nuun Active and Nuun Plus has been keeping me hydrated well. The weather has also been making it tricky to know just what to wear starting out as it warms up by up to 10degrees by the end of my run. Oh, and of course I’m training with my pack now so am carrying an extra 11lbs on my back!

Getting a recovery week and then training starts back in the trails!

Do you have dreams or goals that you’ve been putting off? What’s holding you back?

 

 

I Will Rise – Knocked Down But Not Forever

My life has been far from easy. ¬†In fact, it’s been a challenge since my birth. ¬†I have a friend who often will comment about my life, either to me or to others, in how I could have given up, or used my circumstances to not even try in life. ¬†I never did though, give up, it’s just not who I am. ¬†Why am I who I am though? ¬†I grew up without a father, he was absent before I was born. ¬†My mom did her best to raise me and my two brothers, however there were a lot of challenges. ¬†Looking back I feel like somehow I was in a love bubble, or that’s how I have to try and explain it. ¬†I feel like for some reason I was protected from all the rejection and pain, or at least in part.

Truth is I have very little memory of my childhood. ¬†I never doubted my moms love, however, she was busy working to make ends meet. ¬†We moved every year (or more) meaning there was no consistency in our lives. ¬†Relationships with others, in school, in the neighbourhood, etc. didn’t happen, we were never there long enough. ¬†It’s hard to build memories I guess when life is always changing.

The longest we ever stayed anywhere was when my mom remarried. ¬†We moved into a house (my first) and I entered Grade 5. ¬† We stayed in that home through Grade 9, or part way through, until we moved again. ¬†So for just over 4 years I experienced a little bit of consistency in my life. ¬†I was part of groups at school, I was a cheerleading for the community football team and I made friends. ¬†Two of those friendships that I’m proud to say we are still in relationship today.

My “parents” had started going to church and dragged me along with them. ¬†It was around this time I met my future husband in Sunday school (we were teenagers). ¬†We didn’t date, but we noticed each other ūüėČ ¬†Unfortunately, my parents split up and with that came yet another move. ¬†I ended up moving out on my own when I was just 17 (or so). ¬†Life’s challenges did not stop there. ¬†In fact it was during one of those challenging times, I was re-introduced to my future husband, Kevin, but this time we started dating ūüôā

After we were married and expecting our first child, we began questioning what we believed, what our role as parents were supposed to be. All of a sudden we were about to be responsible for another human life, what did this mean? I grew up with a very limited understanding of God or faith.  Sure my mom made me go to church but I certainly did not embrace it. Was there really a God?  If so, what did that mean? Why would He care about me? Where was He when I was growing up? These were questions I began to ask myself.

My husband and I have been on a faith-filled journey ever since. Thankfully, we do not need to have all the answers. We’ve overcome a lot together, through all of the difficult times I never wavered in my faith, not for long anyways.

So what was different three years ago? Was it all too much at one time? Was it the magnitude of the experience? Was it because the pain was so intense and great to the ones I loved the most? I really do not know why, but I broke. ¬†I still believed in God, I believed He loved me but that was it….the rest crumbled. My understanding of my faith shattered, I was lost.

This is when running really took on a whole new meaning for me.  I began focusing on distance and training for marathons. It was extremely therapeutic for me. I met some wonderful people through running and was able to share my heart on some long runs. It was what I needed for that season in my life.

In 2015, I knew I needed to work on getting healed up. I needed to let God begin to heal some wounds. I began to make small steps to building that relationship back up.  They were baby steps, sometimes forwards, and lots of times backwards, but I was moving again.

I have always loved to learn and am a student at heart.  I had received my Ministerial Diploma probably 15 years ago (a 3 year program). I found out that the school was offering a fourth year starting in September, only available to graduates. I knew I needed to sign up, it was to be part of my journey, but I was extremely anxious about doing so. I was still very lost, my confidence in who God was and what the word really said was extremely low. I decided not to let fear stop me, but to allow myself to be vulnerable.

It was also around this time that I wanted to do more with my running. ¬†To inspire others to not give up. ¬†Little did I know it would lead me to the Grand to Grand Ultra, I’ll continue sharing about that journey in future posts.

It’s been less than a year of intentionally moving forward, I’m amazed at how much has changed and yet I’m still working through “issues”. ¬†The negative “feelings” (anguish, despair, loneliness, helplessness, etc.) are no longer at the forefront, instead I’m feeling stronger, hopeful, and encouraged again.

I was recently invited to join an online group called Faithful Finish Lines. ¬†It’s a 7 week program where you are encouraged to achieve a goal, whether it be physical or spiritual. ¬†I accepted the invitation more for the spiritual. ¬†I wanted to surround myself with others on a similar journey, and I wanted needed accountability.

prayerrunOne of the members recently suggested a weekly prayer chain, we are invited to share a prayer request and each of us commit to pray for one another.  I took each prayer request and wrote them on a posted-note.

When the weather is bad I hop on my treadmill for a run and pray for these precious needs. Just one week in and I’m already thrilled with my decision to join.

How about you?  Are you on a faith journey? Life can be hard but we do not need to do it alone.

Bringing Together My Two Loves For One Grand Adventure

I did not go into 2015 with the intention of running so many races.  I knew that I would do a spring and fall marathon but all the in betweens just kind of happened.  Running can be an individual sport but also very social.  Given an opportunity to travel with running friends and run my first Ultra was too good to pass up!  AND I have no regrets in doing so.  I found out that my mental strength was quite strong.  This of course boosted my confidence for bigger goals.

I remember just prior to running my Ultra I thought I was going to take it easy in 2016. ¬†Allow myself to recover fully and give my body a rest. ¬†If I could just get through running this race then I would likely slow down for a bit. ¬†Ummmm, so that didn’t happen!

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Why You Should Volunteer At Your Local Running Event(s)

Volunteering – Is It For You?

Is volunteering for you?  Personally, I think volunteering can be for everyone!

Having worked behind the scenes at a number of different events in our city, I know the work involved in making an event successful.  For months and months, sometimes close to a year, there are people working to make the event a success for everyone involved.

Races are no different. ¬†Whether it is a smaller local race or the city’s main race of the year, there is much work to do. ¬†As a runner, I so appreciate the races available to me in my city. ¬†As a way to give back I try to volunteer for a number of them. IMG_0168My kids have even come out to help when they can. ¬†Races depend on their volunteers to help in a variety of roles, from race kit pick ups, water stations, safety/first-aid, bag check, the list goes on.

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Fall Into Fitness Exchange

Fall into FitGear Exchange-3I was recently invited to participate in a fall fitness exchange with Canadians. ¬† As a Canadian Sweat Pink Ambassador I thought this was a great way to connect with other Canadian Bloggers. Also, I love the idea of connecting with new people and if they love running/fitness as well, bonus! ¬†Besides, who doesn’t like giving and receiving gifts. ūüėČ

A fellow Sweat Pink Sister from Ottawa, Brittany, came up with the exchange idea. Brittany and I recently met as we were making plans to launch an Ontario Sweat Pink Chapter.    You can follow Brittany over at My Momma Journey.

There were some general rules to the exchange.  Share a favourite fitness dvd or book that you love (even if it is gently used), favourite recipe or two, a motivational note and an item of our choice.

Our names were exchanged and we were paired up with our exchange buddies. ¬†I ended up getting Rebecca, who crazy enough also lives in my neighbourhood, like what are the chances of that!! ¬†I was able to do up a gift bag and drop it off at her door!! ¬†What’s also cool, is Rebecca and I are both Team Awesome Members for the Ottawa Race Weekend 2016! If you would like¬†to see what I sent her, check out her blog:¬†¬†Running.Food.Baby¬†

My other exchange buddy, who had my name,  lives in Calgary.  Tina and I first met online through Bondiband, as we are both Ambassadors! She connected with me, asked some questions and came up with some pretty meaningful gifts.

Now before I unveil them, I’d like to share a few things. ¬†First, I love hearts, always have. ¬† After being diagnosed with a heart condition that seemed inevitable¬†that one day I would require surgery, I was determined to not let a diagnosis define me. ¬†Nor did I want to go on long-term medication if I could avoid it. ¬†I was not being stupid, nor do I recommend for you to ignore your doctors advice, however, my doctor and I came up with a plan. ¬†I continue to show improvements (which is a small miracle in itself) therefore I remain off medication.

The symbol of the heart is one of hope, strength and of course love.
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I got this tattoo as a symbol of the intense love I have for my family. My husband and I (the larger hearts) are intertwined, the three smaller hearts represent my three children and the small pink heart inside my heart is in memory of my mom.  The heart also represents the hope and strength I have to live and be healthy.

Now for the butterfly. ¬†A few years ago there was a series of events that took place that in of themselves, each one would have been heartbreaking, combine them over a fairly short period and it was almost too much for me to work through. ¬†During this time the butterfly became a symbol of hope. ¬†As I was working through life, the idea that “sometimes the struggle is part of the plan” came to me. ¬†Like the caterpillar there is a time in the cocoon (we won’t go into the gruesome details), and in the perfect moment the butterfly emerges. ¬†A complete transformation has taken place. ¬†It’s like pain with a purpose or a struggle with a plan. ¬†There was a purpose for the caterpillar to enter the cocoon. ¬†Just like I believed there was or could be a greater purpose for what I was going through (as well as my whole family).

So yes, another tattoo ūüėȬ†PicMonkey Collage

Of course I did not share this with my buddy, I mean gosh we just met. ūüôā ¬†I did however share things like favourite colour, number, workouts and that I do like the butterfly symbol.

Here is what she put together for me:

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Amazing gloves, cute bird paperclips, really cool race bib clips (wore them for my marathon last weekend – amazing!!), a bondiband headband (hearts and butterflies), a buff (more hearts) and a beautiful card…oh and inside the card was this (a magnet – now on my fridge)FullSizeRender (2)

The past two years or so this has been a thought of mine, and yes, I’ve said it out loud. ¬†Live Out Loud! ¬†Be, Do and Say who you are. ¬†Live authentically with intention. ¬†Be free to be who you were created to be, unapologetically.

It was a true blessing to open this gift with all the reminders of what is important to me and also to continue to “live out loud” proudly!

Thank you so much Tina!

Have you ever participated in an exchange similar to this?

Check out the others who participated in this exchange.


Help! Tips On Fitting in Fitness/Running

There are so many reasons why “life can get in the way” of our own fitness/running goals. ¬†Have you heard these comments, or perhaps even said them yourself?

    • I’m too busy, I just do not have time
    • My kids are to young, it’s difficult with them around
    • I can’t afford a gym membership
    • my spouse/partner is not supportive of my goals
    • I’m a single parent and do not have any support

 

As mentioned in my previous post, we all have 24hrs in a day.  However, we all live very different lives mostly.  So how can we balance our lives in order to achieve our goals.  First up, know what your goal is.  Do you want to workout 3x/week?  Do you want to learn to run? Run a goal race?  Know your goal and then write it down.

For myself, I tend to look at seasons and I’m about to enter a slightly more relaxed season but I do not want to lose my consistency with running, my base. ¬†However, I will be adding in home workouts for variety and strength training. ¬†I highlight any races coming up with purple, my running days get highlighted in orange and the rest just get marked on the calendar. ¬†This is my “plan”, but if I have to adjust I just change it on the calendar ūüôā ¬†We cannot always control our lives, but making “appointments” for ourselves helps us to intend to get them done!

FullSizeRenderAs you can see, I have 3 races in October and two marathons! ¬†So I’m actually slowing down with my running to get ready for those bigger races. ¬†However, I still want to be working out, more yoga/piyo and some running.

There are a number of challenges we are faced with as mentioned above. ¬†I’ve chatted with a number of people about this topic. ¬†Some ride/run to work, others get it done over their lunch hour, or hit the gym on the way home from work. ¬†Some single parents put their heavy workout schedule on the week their ex has the children. ¬†The challenges are real, here are few more tips:

Ray shares: (Adventure Runner; both parents running long distances)

It’s about recognizing that you both have goals. ¬†Respecting each other and stepping in where you need to, in order to make it happen. ¬†Getting the runs in where ever they fit in for that day. ¬†Sometimes that means an exceptionally early run, running when the girls are at school or one parent prepping dinner, hanging with the girls while the other gets a run in. ¬†Whatever works! ¬†Working together as a team!

Find our more about Ray and follow his blog.

Noel writes: (new dad) 

What I find tough is finding time to run and trying to adjust to à new way of life.

So far I have switched to running at lunch and after work (run home) so when I arrive at home I am ready for daddy duties. On the weekends I now run when I can, not always when I want to lol. Now that Morgane  is 4-months old I have just started running with her in the stroller and this allows me to run with my daughter but also give mom à break at the same time.

As an uber new dad, I have been able to train and got quite fit but dad duties, family stress with new baby and adapting to everything made races almost impossible. I ran one 5k and had to bail on planned fall marathon. BUT happy, have great family and still running.

I think there is always a way to find time to run, but its about being flexible, adapting to à new lifestyle and defining your priorities and determining your goals and what is important to you.

Find out more about Noel and follow his blog

Brent writes: (Brent and his wife are new runners)

Having two boys 5 and 7 it’s a bit more of a challenge for us but a good jogging stroller and two tablets keep them happy for an hour or so. Most of the time my wife goes for a run at 6pm when I get home from work and I go at 9pm when the kids are asleep. We have had the luxury of my mother in law being available to watch the kids for us to do ¬†full day events.¬†

Laurie Ann writes:  (Author, Mom and Outdoor Adventurer)

Parenting and fitness is a tag-team, juggling event in our household. During the weekdays I am often like a single Mom with Bryan’s travel schedule. I have Fridays off so during the school year I am able to hit the gym with a friend and now that my son is old enough he can watch my daughter from time to time. Bryan and I also take turns plus we do fit things that include the kids. After all, they need to keep moving too. When my daughter was little we used the running stroller and a bike trailer. When our son was 11 or 12 he’d cycle back and forth on the trail while I ran or he’d run with one of us. When he wasn’t old enough to babysit on his own he’d watch a movie with my daughter in the same room as my treadmill and I’d run with them in view. When Bryan and I would run at the track I’d start my run and then he’d show up later with the kids. They’d run with us for a bit and then we’d walk while Bry finished his run.

Oh and with the stroller… a MEC Newt Suit is indispensable. Kaia would sit in her stroller and even in the worst weather that one piece rain suit would keep her toasty dry.

Find out more about Laurie and follow her blog

Liette writes: (both parents running)

Challenges? Getting homework done is my number one (why so much, whyyyy??!!). My number 2 would be getting the laundry, groceries and any other household task done that I can’t accomplish during the week. Especially when the Sunday distances are long. Sometimes, it’s 2 o’clock by the time I’m cleaned up and fed. That reduces my weekends to just under 1.5 days.

So how do we manage? Barely. LOL! I do the bulk of my running during the lunch hour. He runs after work while I get dinner on the table. He cleans up my mess while I do homework with the little one and make sure the teenager is on top of his workload. We tag team the chores on the weekend. And meal planning is key! If I’m lucky, I can get a pot of soup, sauce or chill on the go Sunday afternoon so weeknight dinners are easier.

Jennifer writes: (mom and business owner)

It is super hard to make time for fitness as a mom of little ones. I only started when my youngest was 2yrs old, prior to that I just couldn’t get it together! But once my little one was in daycare it gave me much more time freedom. As soon as I started I became happier and much more productive in all areas of life. I realized that fitness/running/being outdoors gave me time to be alone, focus on my dreams and goals and in turn be a better mom and wife. It really changed my life.

In terms of time management, I only work out Monday to Friday so that my weekends are free to spend time with the kids. School/daycare are my saviors! 

Find out more about Jennifer and follower her blog.

Cathy writes: (mom of fur babies)

My hubby and I don‚Äôt have kids, but we are joint owners of a small business and our needy 3 dogs (one very senior, 2 rescues with separation anxiety). ¬†For me, I have a very understanding husband who knows how important running is to me. ¬†He is willing to ‚Äėhold down the fort‚Äô for my long run on Saturday. ¬†I do the same on Sunday but for him it is so he can work. ¬†During the week, I combine my run, walk or cycle with my commute to work. ¬†So I do arrive to work later than he does (he drives and brings the doggies) but again, he is very understanding and the amount of time for this varies depending on the season/closeness to a race.

Find out more about Cathy and follow her blog.

So as you can see, regardless of who you are, what challenges you have, what you do for a living or the goals you set for yourself, if you want something bad enough you’ll figure out a way to make it work. ¬†It’s often not easy, sacrifices often need to be made but you can figure out what can work for you. ¬†The key is to know what you want to accomplish, set a goal and then work towards achieving that goal.

my daughter keeping me company on the bike path

my daughter keeping me company on the bike path

Getting fit can also be done with your family.  Planned hikes, workouts at the park, kids riding alongside you as you run.  Be creative, have fun and find what you love to do!

Lastly, for those that find that they cannot afford a gym membership or that they struggle with getting to the gym at the times available for group classes, here are a few of my favourite home workouts.

PiYo (great for body strength exercises and a fantastic workout compliment workout for runners).

21 Day Fix (focuses on portion control with your diet and has a great mix of workouts to jump start anyone looking for a great workout).

I have a ton of dvd’s I rotate through but I seem to come back to these two often.

Do you have a tip on how you fit in your workouts/running with a busy life? ¬†I’d love to hear about it!

Memories in the Martimes

Ever stumble upon a race and think, “I have to make this race happen!” ¬†I can’t quite remember how I came to hear about The Maritime Race Weekend, but likely I stumbled upon it on social media. ¬†I connected with the race director (Michelle) and followed the race’s social media pages. ¬†Michelle does an amazing job with all the posts. ¬†She also does an exceptional job working with her sponsors and volunteers to get people engaged and excited about the race. ¬†Go follow the race now, seriously. ūüôā

Okay, so once I decided I wanted to run this race, I had to see what my husband thought.  He was all in for a family trip down east!  He has family in Canso and loved the thought of getting to see them while we were there.

Awesome!  Plans were in play.

We’re Off

Packed into a rented Malibu, we left very early on Saturday (4am) and drove straight through. ¬†Overall the drive down was great. ¬†Aside from the car being crazy full with all our stuff and of course the big bodies (we are a family of five, wife, hubby, 2 boys, 22/20 and our daughter 18). ¬†My eldest son is passionate about outdoor adventure and practically begged us to camp on the Cabot Trail. ¬†So in addition to all our stuff, we included 5 sleeping bags, 5 pillows and 2 tents!! ¬†I should have taken pictures as we left, but I trust most of you can get a visual. ūüôā

First Stop, Canso N.S

We arrived in Canso around 10pm, after some hellos and hugs we were all in bed by 10:30pm! ¬†We spent the next few days visiting our Canso family, exploring, dipping in the Atlantic Ocean and hanging out together. ¬†We headed out Tuesday to the Cabot Trail. ¬†It started out very foggy and we were not quite sure what kind of camping conditions we’d get by the end of the day. ¬†We booked our backcountry camping site and took a chance. ¬†It was approximately an hour hike, mostly down, to get to our site BUT what a view!

cabot trail camping

We were instructed to hang any food items up and away from our tents as there were black bears, moose and coyotes.  Needless to say, I slept extremely light!  We did not bring much with us so using my Ottawa Marathon bag seemed perfect to hoist our food up!

Birthday Baby

The next morning we woke up and my daughter was 18!! ¬†Happy Birthday Rebekah!!! We planned to celebrate with dinner in Halifax that evening. ¬†We still needed to climb back up this incredible trail that took a little longer and somehow was a little less enjoyable. ūüôā ¬†I questioned if I could actually run an unsupported ultra from this experience. ¬†Side note, I’m always thinking about future goals. ūüėČ

We made it to Halifax ¬†found a neat restaurant that apparently had just opened. ¬†Turned out that it was so new it didn’t have a dessert menu yet. ūüôĀ ¬†So much for cake to celebrate! ¬†Fortunately, Bec was meeting up with a childhood friend for the night and they decided to go for dessert together. ¬†We would continue to celebrate when we returned home.

The End of Camping

We decided the camping had gone well, so we ended up camping 2 more nights. ¬†We headed to Peggy’s Cove, as it was a must on our list.

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Lonely Rock, Fox Island, then Peggy’s Cove

The 3rd camping night we ended up getting rained out. ¬†So much rain, by 3am the boys had stuff floating around in their tent. ¬†From inside our tent there was a gentle mist covering us. ¬†We all hopped in the car and headed to Tim Hortons. ¬†By 4am we were back at the tents, hoping to sleep a bit. ¬†That didn’t happen. ¬†I called ahead to the hotel we had booked in Dartmouth for the race. ¬†Did I mention I was running? They were so accommodating, they told us to come anytime as they would have a room ready for us!

As mentioned above, Bec had a friend living near by and we are friends with her parents. Graciously they allowed us to go to their place and throw some stuff in the dryer and get reorganized.  We decided we were done camping and threw out some gear!  This of course gave us more space in the vehicle.

Tartan Twosome Races

The hotel had a pool, sauna and hot tub that we were all looking forward to enjoying.  We decided to order in and relax.  I had hoped to get a nap in before the race, as I had not slept at all the night before.  Not a chance.  Friday night was the Sunset 5K Race.  The weather forecast for the weekend looked very gloomy with lots of rain.  Fortunately, the rain held off until we were back at the hotel.  The next race was at sunrise!  Start-time was 8am and I was doing the half marathon.  The rain stopped about an hour before the race start, but when we started there was a lot of fog.  startOriginally, when I signed up for this race I somehow got the impression that it was a flat race.  Mistaken, I know!  Everyone I talked to when I first arrived just chuckled as there apparently is not a lot of flat areas in Dartmouth.  I was a little nervous mainly as I did not know what to expect.  I was also excited as this was a good test/training run for the MEC Race that I have coming up in Ottawa.

I decided at the last minute to run without carrying my own water. The first time ever that I would rely on water stations. ¬†I understood that there would be water stations every 3km or so, so I took a chance. ¬†I was so glad I did! ¬†I loved running “free”. ¬†There were more than enough stations throughout the course and I didn’t mind grabbing water for a quick break. ¬†Coincidentally, located often at the top of a hill! ¬†Oh and there were some decent hills, character building ones in fact.

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along the route, it’s impossible to really capture hills (I find)

What made this race so enjoyable was the energy of the runners, volunteers and community as a whole.  The pirate theme was fun and there were some really great costumes to admire.  Somehow I missed the pirate parade and the fireworks had to be cancelled Friday night due to the weather, so it would have only been better had I experienced these things.

medals

AND the medals!!!  BEST Bling EVER!

My husband probably enjoyed this race location more than any other race. ¬†Fisherman’s Cove is a pretty awesome place if you love the small fishing town feel.

I plan to race it again next year and highly recommend if you are looking for a race to travel to with family or friends, then do this one! ¬†Plan on dressing up for the Friday night run in your best pirate get up, you’ll love it!

My plan for the next 3-4 weeks is to do more hill training in preparation for the Ottawa MEC Race. ¬†We finally have a little taste of fall, my favourite running season, so I’m excited to kick it up a notch.

What about you, have you travelled for your races?  Do you have a recommendation for me?  What did you love about it?