Monday, August 25, 2014

The Challenge

Nutrition has always been something I've struggled with.  Since I've started running, I am even more conflicted about how horrible my daily nutrition is.  Add to that, my recent diabetes diagnosis and I'm actually embarrassed at the things that I'm "fueling" my body with.

I'm constantly justifying the horrible things that I'm eating; I just ran so I deserve this, I refuse to deprive myself, etc etc.  It wasn't until recently that I listened to myself saying this nonsense and realized how ridiculous it is.  

My husband has also wanted to make a lot of changes over the past several months, but he depends on me since I do the shopping and the meal preparation and his lunch packing for work.  For many reasons, this change is important for him now.

I'm about halfway through my marathon training, and it has really brought about some changes.  I guess running over the past two years has slowly brought about the changes and awareness, but marathon training has kicked it up a notch.  I think marathon training has forced me out of hiding.  It's made me realize that I can do better and be better.

Today is the start of a 21 Day Challenge for my husband and I.  We are going to detox our body of all the shit we've been putting into it.  We are going to try to clear our bodies and minds of all the sugar and processed shit that we've convinced ourselves are delicious and satisfying.  

I am SO excited.  I am SO excited to feel better.  I'm SO excited to see the physical and mental changes.  Truthfully, this is going to be super challenging for me.  I will be whiny, cranky, and miserable.  I really believe that it's necessary though.  My body and mind are begging for this.

My hope is that this will also give my confidence a little boost heading into the the marathon.  I am starting to believe that I can do the 42.2k, but this will hopefully help me believe I can do it with a bit more strength and speed.

If anyone has any tips, recipes, or resources please pass them along.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trust the Training

As far back as I can remember, I've always had trouble quieting my mind.  My mind is always thinking, always criticizing, always thinking "what if?", etc.  It seems to never stop.

I've also always been a fairly goal-oriented person.  When I was training for my first half marathon last year, my running mantra was "no excuses" or "quitting is not an option".  It helped me just quiet my mind and push through those long hard runs.

This year, for full marathon training, my goal is to "trust the training".  I've read this and heard this SO many times.  I even think that I've said it to people before.  I'd never really believed it though.  It's just one of those things to say to make myself feel better.  This year, however, I'm trying to believe it and use it to quiet my mind.

What if I can't do all of my long training runs?
Trust the training

What if I'm not very fast?
Trust the training

What if I can't finish the marathon?
Trust the training

I've said to many people that the hardest part of my training will be quieting my mind, pushing out the negative thoughts, and being patient with my training.  I'm really trying to come across as cool and somewhat confident, but truthfully...I AM TERRIFIED!

Last weekend's 20k Beaches Jazz Run was a tough one.  I went into it telling myself to take it slow as I would any weekend long run.  I struggled.  It was hot.  I was disappointed throughout the run thinking that I was too slow, struggling too much.  Afterwards, I reminded myself that it was HOT and I FINISHED so I am on track with my training and that's exactly where I need to be.  Great runs, challenging runs, confidence crushing runs are all part of the training.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


My body has done nothing but fail me over the past several years. It is this failure that brought me to running. I'd always wanted to be a runner. I'd always been envious of runners. Their bodies, their commitment, and their achievements. It wasn't until my body failed me in the most hurtful way, that I finally became a runner. 

In 2008, I started trying to get pregnant. I suspected I might have problems getting pregnant, but nothing prepared me for what was in store. Long story short, a lot of doctors, a lot of tests, a lot of hope, and a lot of disappointment. 

In 2012, I tried invitro fertilization. I became pregnant. It was amazing. Then, I miscarried. I was devastated. I became very depressed and became worried when I woke up one morning disappointed that I'd woken up. Our septic system broke, so I went to the gym to shower before work. I ran a few laps on the track because I didn't want them to think I was just there to shower. Those few laps seemed to make my head a bit clearer. The joke is that I then became like Forrest Gump, and just kept running. 

I set a goal to run a local 5k.  I told my husband that I didn't want to talk about babies until I ran that 5k. So, for a few months I ran and ran and ran. One month after my 5k, I tried to get pregnant again, got pregnant, and stayed pregnant. 

Once I had Ethan, I set a goal to run a 5k six in six months. I achieved that, and have not looked back. Several 10k's, two half marathons, and now full marathon training. 

I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Due to this, I have blood sugar and insulin issues. For years, I've been fighting the official diabetes diagnosis. Today, I was officially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Diet and exercise is not working, so I'm now on medication. 

It's frustrating because I'm in the best shape of my life yet my body still fights me and fails me. I know that I'm lucky that it's something manageable, but, to me, it's just a reminder that my body is continuing to fail me. 

The balance is to fight back and prove to myself that as much as my body may fail me from time to time, it is also resilient and strong. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I am Selfish

Running is the most selfish thing I do.  I often complain about the challenges I face during training, but running actually gives back more than it takes.

People sometimes think I’m nuts for scheduling my life around training runs, running at night after a full day of work and toddler time, etc. My husband even rolls his eyes occasionally when I plan my life around training, but running has actually given me more than I ever imagined.

Running is selfish because it makes me look better.  Despite struggling with blood sugar issues and post-baby body issues, I’m in the best shape of my life.  Sure, there are things that could be better, but I feel great about my 36-year old body.

Running is selfish because it improves my mental health.  Being a wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, and full time employee can be tiring.  Running makes it all go away.  Running makes me happy.  Running makes me feel confident.  Running makes life better.

Running is selfish because it has created meaningful connections.  I am part of a running community.  I feel that sense of community whenever I read a blog about running, register for a run, go on Twitter, etc.  I AM a runner.  I BELONG to this community.  No one really cares how fast (or slow) I am or how far my most recent long run was.  Runners support other runners, and that’s all that really matters.  It’s awesome.

Lastly, running is selfish because it allows me to give back in ways that I never imagined.  Since I started running, I’ve been able to contribute to charities like the Canadian Diabetes Association, my local food bank, The David Busby Street Centre, Sick Kids Foundation, and more.  It’s been the most unexpected and rewarding thing about running.

So, running is something selfish that I do to enrich my life.  It’s starting to define who I am and it’s becoming intertwined with my values and beliefs.  It’s become the most amazing thing that I’ve ever done for myself.

Friday, June 27, 2014

At Least I Did It...

This is the phrase that sums up my Banff Half Marathon experience. It's a phrase that people say to me often when I get down on myself for my mediocre finish times. It's a phrase that I find obnoxious at first, but then feel a bit better about as the days pass. 

When I decided to consistently train to be a distance runner, I thought it'd be really cool to so some destination runs. Nothing too crazy, but some fun runs around Canada and maybe farther. My husband and I were planning a trip to Alberta to see family this summer, so I thought the Banff Marathon would be a great place to start. I'd maintained fairly good fitness through the winter, and followed a consistent running plan in the months leading up to the run. 

Truth be told, I was terrified to do this run. I was scared of the elevation change (and the thought of encountering a bear), but I tried to let the excitement be stronger than the nerves. I'd also tried convincing myself that my goal was just to finish and not to worry about finishing time. 

I believe there is a fine line between excuses and challenges. Let me set up race day...we arrived in Alberta three days before race day. My husband, our two year old, and I were sharing a condo with my sister, her friend, her husband, and my mother. So, I was trying to get my toddler accustomed to new faces, new housing, new time zone, etc. while also trying to hydrate and fuel my body. This was a disaster. I was skipping meals and not getting any sleep. 

Race day came and I was excited but nervous. The route was changed last minute due to grizzly bears so we were doing an out and back along the highway rather than along trails. The race started at 10:30am (12:30pm EST), there was direct sun (i.e. HEAT) the entire route, and there was no crowd support along the route. 

I started out very conservative and finished 10k in about 1:07. I was feeling good but HOT and my legs were tired. I was hoping to keep the same pace for the second half but I slowed considerably. I was exhausted. Approaching the finish line, I felt completely defeated. 

I finished at 2:30:16 which was so disappointing. I had to fight back tears as my family congratulated me on finishing. 

The silver lining was that as I crossed the finish line, a lady who had been running a similar pace pulled me aside and told me that I'd kept her going. She said that she was trying to keep up to me while she was struggling so that was really nice to hear. 

I ended up being 37/82 in my category which isn't too bad and maybe indicates that the run was a challenging one in general. 

Regardless of my disappointment, I'm thrilled to have an awesome Banff Marathon (half) medal to add to my collection-my second half marathon medal.  It was likely a once in a lifetime experience for me and was also the first-ever Banff Marathon. 

Realistically, I know that tough runs end up making you stronger so this will be great preparation for my full marathon training, but a big part of me still wishes this could've been different. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dream Big

Running has brought a lot to my life.  At first, it brought a distraction from a hard time in my life.  Then, it brought a sense of purpose.  It has continued to give me this opportunity to set goals and achieve them, which has been amazing.

The unexpected thing that it brought me was an awesome sense of community.  I've become part of a community of runners through social media.  I haven't met most of these people, but they've provided me with encouragement, advice, and motivation.  Some of them believe in me more than I believe in myself.

Last year, it was one of these unexpected connections that encouraged me to register for my first half marathon.  I'd looked at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon website and my initial thought was "go big or go home", but then self doubt crept in.  I saw a list of Digital Champions, and noticed that one was from Orillia.  Long story short, I messaged her, she gave me the kick in the butt I needed, and a few months later I was tracking her down at the race expo the day before running my first half marathon!

Meeting Christa, and being part of this online running community has inspired me to continue to dream big.  Again, this year I found myself wanting to "go big or go home", but filled with self doubt.  I knew that the big dream this time was the full marathon.  I also knew that I wanted to try to dream big in a way greater than the run itself.  I wanted to try to inspire others the way I have been inspired.  I hesitantly applied to be a Digital Champion, and I can finally tell everyone that I was recently invited to be part of this great group.

I'm really looking forward to this experience.  I hope people see that we all have a different story, but the thing that bonds us is this insane love of running and all that running has brought to our lives.

Let the adventure begin!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Starting Point

As I mention here, I have been running since 2011 with a little break to be pregnant and have a baby.  Within a few months of having my son, I began running again.  I'd obviously lost all of my fitness, and running after a c-section was challenging, but I'd set a goal of running a 5k race about six months after giving birth.

I achieved that goal, so then I set a goal of running a 10k race about four months after that.  For a few months, I was content on running 10k's and trying to improve.  Then I thought, lets go big or go I registered for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon and trained through a very very hot summer.  I successfully ran my first half marathon last October in just under one hour and twenty three minutes.  It was a HUGE accomplishment for me.

I slacked off after that half marathon, and wasn't quite sure what to do next.  Since then I continued to run about 20-40k a week through the winter, ran some Snowflake Series runs, and ran a 10k personal best at the Toronto Yonge Street 10k (57:37).

Once I fell in love with running and realized it would be a part of my life forever, I mentioned to my husband that I'd love to be a "destination runner".  I think because I run solo and don't have access to a running group, I love being at races.  I thought it would be so fun to travel around and do runs that could be incorporated into family trips.  So, I am now less than three weeks away from my first "destination run".  In less than three weeks, I will be running the Banff Half Marathon.  I am terrified, but beyond excited to get that medal around my neck!

As if fulfilling that dream wasn't enough, I also registered for the FULL Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.  I am beyond terrified about this, but again so excited.  My mind is telling me that this is almost impossible, but I'll give it a go and see what happens.

So, it should be a great summer of excruciating runs, challenges, successes, and doubts, but there's no turning back now.