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 😉  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 🙂

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.

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 🙂  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’t 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 ‘hold down the fort’ 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!

For The Love Of Running

As a Digital Champion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon I’ve had the amazing privilege of connecting with so many wonderful people online.  Many training for their first marathons but a number of ultramarathoners as well.  Interacting with so many runners motivates and inspires me daily!

August was a busier than usual month for me in regards to races and boy did I have fun!  It’s hard to pick my favourite one however the Ottawa Foam Fest focused on FUNCORE.   This is a quick video of what I experienced with my husband and daughter running their first official races Ottawa Foam Fest Video.

23K Trail Run - Halfway and still smiling!

23K Trail Run – Halfway and still smiling!

Equally as awesome was my first ever trail run.  I absolutely love Ray Zahab’s passion and vision for Impossible2Possible.  So when I found out there was an organized trail run with distances ranging from 10K – 100K I wanted to be a part of it.  All proceeds went to support the youth ambassadors with I2P.  With a little encouragement I signed up for the 23K.  Thank goodness two friends decided to run as well, as it would have been a completely different race experience without them!  I think I’m pretty much hooked and am now including more trail running in my training.

My training has been going very well, I’m actually enjoying my progress and am having more fun!   Long runs are getting long, like really long – today I will be running 32K.  I still feel really good and cannot believe we are 6 weeks out from my goal marathon for the fall.

Oh and I have new shoes!  I’ve finally made the transition (okay, making the transition slowly) to a lower profile shoe to encourage a more natural running form.  So far so good, I still have happy feet!

Fun, right?!

Fun, right?!

Most recently (but certainly in my thoughts for 6 months or more) I’ve decided to get a running coach.  I realize that there are so many amazing athletes who have expertise beyond my own experience in running.  Running is not just recreational for me. I do run for fun, for therapy, and for the challenge and overall feel-good feeling I get by getting outside and running.  However, I want to be challenged more and accomplish more than I think I can accomplish.  I want to achieve some really awesome running goals and for that I will need someone who is more knowledgeable than me to help me achieve the goals I have.

I’ve decided to go all in (well, because that’s what I do! LOL)  My training schedule has changed and I’m trusting in the plan and of course my coach.  Week 1 of my new training schedule is now in the books and I accomplished everything I was told to do. Nothing more and nothing less.  Okay, maybe a wee tiny bit more BUT I’m learning to do a little less for now 🙂  AND I’m happy to be dragging a few running friends along for the ride, making memories, having fun and simply getting out and running!

Up next for me is the Army Run.  Not sure if I’ll be racing it or using it as a training run at this point but I know that it’ll be amazing and I’m looking forward to it.

How is your training going?  What was your summer highlights?  Would love for you to share.

 

 

 

The Forgotten Marathon Bag – Yes, It Really Happened!

When I chose to sign up for my very first marathon I had no idea the challenges that our family were about to face.  I could have chosen to wait and run another time but I had already made the mental commitment to run, I had already psyched myself into doing all that was required to run a marathon.  Running during that time became very therapeutic for me, almost necessary.  It became a place for me to process my thoughts and feelings, by talking it out with a new running friend, or being lost in my own thoughts and feelings on a long run.  I believe training for the marathon saved me in many ways.

So what happened when I discovered every runners worst nightmare and forgot all my gear in another city the eve of my run?

New Running Gear

New Running Gear

Read about it here on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where they posted my experience in their blog.  Honey, I Forgot My Marathon Bag!

Have you ever experienced something like this?

 

Let The Adventure Begin – Round Two Booked!

 

It’s official, the marathon is booked!  October 19th, 2014 is my goal race and I’m so excited to return to Toronto.  I always look for ways that I can run for others in addition for myself, so this marathon I’ve decided to fund raise for the Children’s Aid Society.  If you would like to partner with me and donate, you can do so here:  My Fundraising Page

My first marathon was Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2013 and I had no idea then that I would return for another year.  My plans for 2014 had included Ottawa and Calgary and then perhaps a different city or the Ottawa Fall Colours Run in the fall.

Due to my injury, my plans of course changed.  In hindsight it is crazy ridiculous how things have worked out and I am actually thankful for the experience and the connections I’ve made through the journey.  Maybe everything does happen for a reason 🙂  Hmmmm…..

As I train this year the experience will be completely different as I’ve been invited to be a Digital Champion (DC) for the race!  As a DC I get to do what I am passionate about doing, I get to encourage and connect with other runners online to help them achieve their own personal goals and have an awesome experience doing it!  Here is the list of all the DC’s:  Digital Champions

If you are married with children then you get how much of a sacrifice the whole family makes when you are training for a full marathon.  I am in awe of the parents who get it done and are still raising a young family.  I am at a stage in my life where my kids can help out and that they do!

There were so many nights where my daughter (15 at the time) stepped in and would make dinner on the days that I knew I’d be working late, or if I was heading out for a run she would take over and get the family fed.

Countless times my family would help me stick to my goals by keeping me accountable to what I said, or question if I should be doing something.  They always asked me how my run was or how many km’s I was doing on a certain day.  They made an effort to take an interest in what I love to do, or at least to pretend to, ha!

training

I am already looking forward to the cheering and support that they provide.  Yesterday, my daughter rode her bike ahead of me while I ran so I could run along the river and not be alone!  It was so great to be chasing after her, I just need to figure out what she could carry on her back that I want bad enough to run hard for!!

There will be other long runs that I think I’ll have my son meet me on the route to provide a smiling face and needed nutrients, especially on some of the hot summer days that are coming.

Even my eldest son who is living in another province will ask me about my training when he calls, how many kids do that??

My husband tries hard to ensure the kitchen is cleaned after dinner if I head out for a run, which I cannot adequately express how much I appreciate that!

If you do not already have the involvement of your family, might I suggest that you look for ways to include them.  Depending on their age, by including them you show them how much running means to you.  You demonstrate to them that it is healthy for mom to have a dreams and goals that she is striving for.  You might even spark a passion in them for running.

My daughter is the first to admit she has no desire to run.  She’s been watching me for years, coming out to many races to cheer me on, volunteering at countless races to hand out race kits, giving me massages when required, cooking dinner, and so much more.  This year there is a Foam Fest coming to Ottawa.  A 5Km obstacle course that she is so excited to do.  Say what!?

So much so that she has convinced the family to do it all together.  No one else in my family runs. It will be so much fun and you can be sure great memories will be made.

What are some of the ways your family supports you?  Have you found ways to include them to be apart of your journey?

 

 

 

When Plans Change

Do you set goals? 

I have to in order to be focussed and disciplined to get workouts in.  I love to run and planning for races helps me stick to a schedule that pushes me past what I might “feel” like doing.

I ran my first marathon in October 2013.  It proved to be a challenging but memorable experience.  I decided the day after that race to run another marathon, Ottawa Race Weekend, kind of as a do over.  It didn’t take me long, but I’ve since realized that there is no need for a do over, but instead it’s a new opportunity to do something great for me!

After signing up for Ottawa’s Marathon, I learned that Calgary was celebrating it’s 50th race weekend and I decided to sign up for it’s marathon as well.  No big deal, right?  Well, it happens to be the week after Ottawa.

I like to push myself and challenge myself to see what I can do, so the training begins.  End of November I starting running with the RR groups half marathon clinic just to keep a decent foundation in my running leading up to the Jan. start of the marathon training.  Ran through the most minus stupid weather throughout the winter months, outside, usually after a snow storm!  Challenge, character building weather, but great fun with great fellow runners.

By mid-February, on yet another snowy long run, my foot was achy…by treating it at home and icing it I continued to run another week or two, until after a 19K run, I realized that something was wrong and I was in too much pain.

Took 3 weeks to get a proper diagnoses, in which a bone scan showed that I had a Calcaneal Stress Fracture (across the body of the heel bone), a minor tibia stress fracture, a bone spur AND minor plantar fasciitis!  I believe this was due to a combination of things, some avoidable, some not.

So suddenly my big marathon back to back plans were in jeopardy!   What now?  Treatment consisted of a boot, for likely 8 weeks up to 12!  I immediately booked the half marathon in Calgary as a back up plan.  Figuring I could at least run the half.  Maybe, possibly run half in both cities instead.

No workouts aloud for the first 4 weeks!  Four weeks later, I’ve been cleared to start swimming and doing some non-impact training, but still in the boot.  Likely not able to even test my foot for another 4 weeks, and even then I need to start with walking!

What about my plans, I can’t run the marathons, that’s a given, but now I can’t possibly do the half marathons without risking injury.  *sigh*

Okay, there are worst things in life, right?  YES!  So how can I experience these great events and continue with my racing goals?  Well, we will volunteer (my daughter and I).  We usually do race kit pick up (we’re kind of pros now LOL).  My daughter and I volunteer for race kit pick up for a number of races every year.  I do it to be involved, she does it for the free shirt, ha!

So we are signed up to volunteer in both cities.  I’m planning on running the 5K (maybe 10k) in Calgary and I’m already preregistered for Calgary Marathon 2015!

I plan to run another shorter distance race in the summer, signed up for the  Army Run (half) in September.  Looking at a 5K/half in Nova Scotia for the fall as well AND then will focus on doing Ottawa and Calgary back to back in 2015 (full marathons).

Plans change, we cannot always control what happens to us or around us.  Life happens, I just love to run and love having goals towards to achieve new levels of training for me.  I love the friends that I’m meeting along the way and the shared experiences that I get to have with others.  I love how my family never questions the insane choices I make, but instead they support me all the time and challenge me if I do anything contrary to the goals and plans I’ve set out for myself.

Do you set goals?  What do you do when your plans change?

I’d love to hear your experiences as well 🙂

Happy RUNNING!