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Archive for February, 2014

I want to share something with you this morning… the story of one of the truest and most meaningful friendships I have ever had.

If I had a time machine I would take you back to 1990. I was just coming out of a very abusive relationship. I was in university and I needed employment desperately. There was an advertisement in the local paper for a management position at a local brass bed and décor shop. This would be a short-term position while the manager was off for sick leave. I applied and was hired.

Enter Sandi. She was the manager who I would be filling in for. I was in my very early twenties and I was told she was in her thirties. She wasn’t. That always makes me smile because we are close to the same age, I was just really gullible back in the day. Sandi went off on leave and when she returned I was kept on as a salesperson. It was a crappy job but I had an apartment and tuition to pay for. Sandi and I started to do things outside of work.

Sandi was different than any of the friends I had ever had before. She was a little lot wilder and had this fun way of just embracing life. I was extremely shy and for the most part, a goody two shoes. I also embarrassed easily. One day I came into work late. I had been having an awful time dealing with the police charging my ex for assaulting me and whatnot. The mall where the store was had fines if you didn’t open shop on time. Great. Just add that to an already wonderful week. I came in and flipped on the power and at that moment I almost peed my pants. You see, Sandi had rigged the cassette player to come on full blast playing I Feel Good by James Brown. Once my heart rate returned to normal I had a really great laugh—you know the kind of laugh that brings you to uncontrollable tears. Best. Medicine. Ever. In some ways this epitomizes how her friendship makes me feel.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t always been rosy between us and there were times where we both felt the need to get some space for whatever reason. We always found our way back and our friendship has grown beyond that. Even though we had times where we drifted we always managed to be there for one another when chips were down. Sandi, and her husband Phil were there for us when our home burned to the ground in the spring of 2001… without hesitation. They took us in for pretty much the remainder of that year and it wasn’t easy for them. Imagine two couples, two big dogs and three cats in a two-bedroom town-house. It was nuts. In 2013 they were dealing with the biggest battle of their lives when their son Tyrel needed a kidney transplant. It was our turn to be there for them in whatever way we could be.

I think I can safely say that both Sandi and I are looking forward to some more quiet moments in our friendship. Now that it has been six months since Tyrel got his new kidney we are doing some other things. Sandi started running recently because she wants to participate in the Waterloo Transplant Trot as a way of giving back. I will be there right by her side every step of the way because I know this cause means the world to her. She’s training hard and to say she inspires me would be an understatement. Our sons, Tyrel and Tobias, are going to hangout and walk the course together too. It will be such a fun day with so many of our friends coming out to lend support. It will be great reuniting with people that I haven’t seen in quite a few years.

Sandi possesses everything I cherish in a friend. She has a huge heart and she knows how to be honest while kind at the same time. She’s loyal but will stand her ground if she needs to. She has this way of making me crack a smile even in the worst of situations and she always has my back. Sandi is the friend that will tell me I look absolutely horrendous if I try on something that does not suit me. We’ve laughed together and cried together . We’ve also shared some pretty deep, dark secrets and have enough dirt on each other to grow quite the garden… lol.

24 years. It seems like just yesterday I was standing next to the electrical panel in the back room of the décor store laughing hysterically at her little prank. That was the start of something really special.

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The other day I was chatting with a friend and we were discussing what our goals are. We chatted about the races we’ve chosen for 2014 and what motivates us. She and I have been on somewhat parallel journeys so it was great to talk with someone who gets the struggles I deal with.  And… we talked about the setbacks we have both experienced lately. Our conversation made me sit back and take pause. That’s not always a bad thing and I feel that it is good to re-evaluate my goals from time to time so I don’t lose sight of the bigger picture—a healthy life.

Setbacks happen and it is very important that I don’t beat myself up about a few steps backwards. It happens to all of us at one time or another. On November 9th, 2013, as many of you know, I broke two of the toes on my left foot when I accidentally kicked a dumbbell that was sitting against the big oak desk in my office. This meant that running, and pretty much any other exercise that involved my toes, came to a screeching halt. This time off from running hit me like a ton of bricks and I took it really hard. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t exercise or that I was concerned about diabetes. You see, I use running as my way of thinking things through and dealing with the negatives in my life. 2013 started with the death of my Mom and the time off finally forced me to work through some of the grief. I gained a little weight and started to self-deprecate. I had worked so hard. I was within 15 lbs of my goal and then I lost momentum. How could I let this happen? I could make all sorts of excuses but the bottom line is that I just gave up caring about myself because I was wallowing. The good thing is that it was a short-lived hiccup and I am back on track.

My motivation for running hasn’t changed very much. It’s still about having fun while working on fitness and enjoying activities that we can do as a family. Running is my insulin and my way to keep ill effects of living with diabetes at bay. It’s also a social outlet for me which caught me somewhat by surprise. I have met so many wonderful runners who encourage and inspire. This is something I try to pay forward. Being a Digital Champion for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K is just one way I am doing that. Giving back in other ways is important to me as well and I love fundraising for a good cause.

I also thought about the commitment and drive to improve. I like to dream big and sometimes I will chose a distance and think that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. That was certainly how it felt when I started training for my first half. During that time I discovered something… training isn’t a chore to me but rather something I embrace. I enjoy the process immensely—I love a long run on a Saturday morning and the way it makes me feel. It also makes me happy to see how I progress week after week and month after month. Being off with the broken toes reinforced how much I missed being in training for a long distance event. Every long run last winter and spring was a new milestone and on those runs I was able to gain clarity or perspective about things other than running. Accomplishing those goals gave me courage to make some wonderful changes in my life. My feelings about being a distance runner remain the same… I enjoy the process and it helps me grow as a runner and as a person. It’s a win win for me.

This year I plan to tackle the full marathon. It scares me because being diabetic adds some other challenges especially when it comes to things like fuelling, hypoglycaemia, and foot injuries. This adventure brings a good kind of fear too. It’s the kind of apprehension that gives me the butterflies but makes me feel really alive. This distance will be a huge challenge for me and the fact I am even going to try is very exciting. Training will be tough and time consuming but there is something about it that simply calls to me. I have an amazing circle of support and hold onto the belief that I can realize my dream of crossing the finish line after running 42.2K. I may not be speedy but I have spirit and I will cross a finish line in the footsteps of so many people that have inspired me to try.

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