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.

Running Adventures with Friends

Depending on where you live, this past week may have brought some snow!  Not everyone is an all season runner, but for myself it’s no longer up for debate.  My goals keep getting bigger and therefore my running season continues to expand.

My training in 2015 started pretty much in January, leading up to some early spring races, one of which was Around the Bay.  It only continued to grow from there!  Before I knew it I was booked with races in May, June, August, September, October and into the first weekend of November.  Not all marathons, but regardless I seemed to be racing most weekends.  I have one race left to go on New Years Eve.

The race I think I was most looking forward to this Fall was the Ottawa MEC Race.  I wasn’t originally going to run it because it was 2 weeks after running the Toronto Marathon.  After having a conversation with Chris Chapman, the race director, I decided I wanted to see how I’d do in what is quickly becoming known as one of Canada’s toughest races. Besides how many races offer poutine at the end! I had seriously considered running the marathon, however, after running Toronto I had a minor lower leg issue surfacing and did not want to risk an injury.

The morning of the race was beautiful.  I woke up excited and nervous.  I had gone up to Gatineau Park a few times for training but really did not know what to expect of the hills for race day.  I happened to run into a friend of mine before the race started.  She was already running with a friend of hers but invited me to join them if I wanted.  So I did, at least I figured starting out it would be nice to be accompanied by others.

The race start line is approximately a km from the finish line.  So it required a light jog or walk down the approximately 1km hill (the race is set up to require a km climb at the finish, brutal)!

By the time we made it to the start line we had about 30sec. to get organized and then we were off!  I believe the first 4 km’s or so were relatively flat with minimal climbs.  Then the hills began!

MECrace

The views throughout the race were spectacular, but this one was worth stopping for.

Beaver damn

Beaver damn

At the top of the longest stretch of an incline someone yelled out in victory and I think those of us within earshot celebrated with them!  The best part was the 4-6km decline towards the end of the race, followed up of course by the last km climb to the finish line.

Allyson, Kristina and myself managed to keep each other in our sights for most of the race.  During some of the more difficult climbs Allyson came up with a 10sec. run/10 sec. walk chant to get it done!  We used this near the finish line as well.   You can do anything for 10sec., right?!

mecracefriends

This was the first time I met Kristina. What an experience to share.  We ended up with a very respectable time considering we were only wanting to complete it!  I loved the company and would seriously consider doing the marathon in the future.

The week after this race I ran the Cookie Run.  I decided early on in 2015 that I was going to participate in more local runs.  This was the 2nd last race of the year for me.  The weather was perfect, the course was fantastic with a 5K loop, that we did twice.

What I love about the running community is the friendships you can make.  Your life can be completely different from one another and yet running can bring you together.

Start line

Start line

That’s how I met Agnes.  We are huge supporters of I2P and through mutual online friends we connected.  There was an event where Ray Zahab (founder of Impossible2Possible and adventure runner) and Christopher McDougall (author of Born to Run and Natural Born Heroes) were speaking in order to raise support and awareness for I2P.  Agnes was coming up to Ottawa for the event so she figured she might as well run the Cookie Run in the morning. 🙂

leannerace 2We made arrangements for coffee the day before to meet in person for the first time and then decided to run together the next morning.  It was a blast!!  We ran very well and talked throughout most of the race.  So fun!

I’m currently enjoying my down time from formal training.  I am continuing to get out for runs and doing back to back longer runs in the trails on the weekends, no pace in mind just a length of time on my feet.

2016 goals are now set and I’m working on the details.  I cannot wait to announce my BIG race goals!  This year will be more about training and much less racing!

How about you?  Do you have your 2016 goals set yet?

 

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!

#Runfie – What’s the Point?

Online Friends or Foes?

I belong to a number of closed groups on facebook and to often I see posts from people saying, “I know you guys will understand, I can’t post this on my personal wall because my friends and family don’t get it” or “my friends and family are sick of hearing about my running, blogging, (insert whatever)”.  More hurtful, “my friends and family have posted for me to shut up, or messaged me telling me they do not appreciate or care about the things I post”.

I understand that what others post (myself included) can be annoying to some, I really do.  I also get that sometimes we simply do not relate or have any interest in what some people post about.   If you do not like what is coming up in your newsfeed all the time then you can choose to unfollow someones posts, this allows you to still connect or message one another (especially helpful if it’s family 😉 ).

Everyone uses social media for different reasons.  For some it is to stay connected with friends, for others it may be to connect with a special interest group, hobbies, favourite past times.  Still for others it can be used mainly for business.  Whatever the reasons shouldn’t we respect one another more and judge others less?  Why is it some people expect others to use it the way they do?  Why is their way correct?  Is there a correct way?

Why Post?

So why do I post?  Why do I take selfies or “runfies” as we call them. 🙂

If you know me it should not come as a surprise that I love to encourage people.  I think it comes out of my own life of being misunderstood and not really having people believe in me or support me much.   Our past shapes us and for whatever reason I believe in people.  I have a soft spot for people who seem to be misunderstood or not heard at all.  I am naturally open and vulnerable–“what you see is what you get”.  I don’t pretend to be someone I am not.  I have long since stopped trying to be liked by everyone, because the reality is not everyone is going to like me.

What really bothers me is when someone judges me and they know nothing about me.  OR worse, they actually should know me, yet they assume the worse.  This can be difficult for me as I naturally assume the best in people most of the time.  So it’s hard for me to accept that sometimes, someone is just plain mean, critical and judgmental.

Okay, so back to why I post about running/fitness.  It is a way for me to be accountable to myself!  I have many goals and if I share my journey it helps me get out the door.  It is a way for me to connect with some amazing friends I’ve met online who are also chasing dreams.  We encourage one another with cyber high-fives and way-to-go chatter.  I hope to inspire others to find something they are passionate about and do it.  I often help people privately who reach out and want support, encouragement and accountability.

I have also been blessed with being involved as an ambassador for a number of my favourite fitness products.  Part of being an ambassador is posting, tagging and doing shout outs to introduce others to the products that I love and believe in.  I am honoured to be teamed up with these companies and I love sharing about them.   I am also involved in a number of online fitness/sports related ambassador programs that require you be active on social media.  That means sharing your journey, with the idea of encouraging others to be active.

I feel bad for the people who feel they cannot post on their own facebook walls!  Seriously, it’s their wall.  We all have “negative Nellie’s” on our feed, again you do not need to follow their posts.  Why should someone be made to feel bad for getting in shape, or setting goals and achieving them.  Why should they feel guilty if they are changing their lives for the better??  Why should they have to seek a private group on facebook, with strangers, to be encouraged because their facebook “friends” criticize them.

At times, we may post an opinion about politics, movies, events in the city, etc.  This can open a door for others to jump in and offer their own opinions.  I think we can expect this, however, I also believe we should be grown ups about it.  Be respectful.

I also use social media at times to highlight how proud I am of each of my children.  I love to support them and over tell everyone the great things they do.  I am their biggest cheerleader and will forever be proud of them.  Social media allows me to share with others some of the neat things my kids do.  My intention isn’t to make someone else feel bad, I just want to give a shout out to my kid.  I’m also very respectful to my kids, I almost always ask their permission (to be that mom).

I understand that maybe you just do not want your feed filled up with things you just do not care about, that’s cool.  It’s YOUR feed!  As previously mentioned, you can control whose posts you see?  You can actually unfollow someones posts, but remain their friend (mine included).

Truthfully, I’m just being me, doing what I love, trying to enjoy life and hopefully connect with others along the way.

www.dontbeachicken.com

www.dontbeachicken.com

Can I perhaps challenge you? Maybe instead of being annoyed or frustrated, maybe you could message someone and encourage them on their journey. Tell them you are inspired by them or you are proud of them for their hard work.  Maybe their posts have nothing to do with fitness, but instead just maybe they’ve been going through a hard time and have been sharing their story of getting through it.  You’ll be amazed at what a kind word can do for someone.

Fueling the long run

Training Week in Review

Monday: Yoga/Extended Stretching
Tuesday: Steady 10K – lots of footing issues again
Wednesday:  5K EASY
Thursday:  7.25K Steady Run
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  17.5K LSD (long slow distance)
Sunday:  15K LSD

While training for a marathon, or in my case an ultra marathon, fuelling starts to become more and more important, everyday.  I’m coming to the point in my training where I start to feel tired a little more during the week.  I go through periods of feeling starved, especially Mondays, which makes sense after running double long runs on the weekend.  This means I still have work to do in my own fuelling strategy.

I have almost eliminated milk products and wheat from my diet (still working on completely removing it), mainly because of food sensitivities.  As you can imagine, this can make fuelling a little bit more of a challenge.  I am always looking for additional ways to add protein to my diet.

Training for a race is often more about the months leading up to race day.  I continue to make changes to my diet as I discover healthier options that will either fuel my body or help in the recovery process.

HempHeartsI came across Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts at a local health food store and immediately saw the simplicity of adding this super food to my daily diet.

You can sprinkle the hemp hearts on your morning oatmeal, yogurt or any cereal of your choice.  It can easily be added to a lunchtime salad.

There are so many recipes on their site that makes it very easy to add extra protein to your diet.  Delicious recipes!

I was given the opportunity to review the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, so of course I said I’d love to.  This is a must staple super food that should be in your pantry.

Hemp Hearts can help reduce inflammation, improve your cholesterol ratio, and help reduce PMS symptoms.  In addition hemp can support healthy hair, nails and skin and is also a rich source of magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron.   There are many other benefits of this powerful superfood.

Adding extra protein to your diet is  very easy and Manitoba Harvest helps you select the right one for you with their Hemp Protein Comparison Chart.

Having quick healthy snack options available help when I’m in a rush or on the go.  I recently made these energy bites (I added some flaxseed).  What I loved about this recipe is that if you are already trying to eat healthy, then all the ingredients should now be found in your home.  hempbitesI doubled the recipe knowing that in my house these type of energy balls do not last long!  I was correct, and they turned out to be a hit with my whole family.

Hempmixed HempEnergyBitesThere are many energy bite recipes online, so adding the step of rolling your favourite recipe ball in the hemp hearts can be a simple way to get the added benefits of hemp seeds into your diet.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts has graciously offered a free bag of hemp hearts to one of my readers.  All you need to do is comment below telling me how you currently use hemp hearts in your diet or how you will add it to your diet.  Is it a favourite breakfast smoothie?  Will you add it to your oatmeal or salad?

Also, follow Manitoba Harvest on Twitter and Instagram for inspirational ways to add hemp hearts to your diet.  Would love for you to tweet about the giveaway.

Good luck, I will choose the winner on Wednesday, March 11th.