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Archive for the ‘motivation’ Category

Soon we will celebrate the beginning of 2016. There is a sense of renewal that comes with the dawning of a new year and and it’s tempting to resolve to make great changes especially when caught up in the energy of it all. Waiting in the wings, there is a multi-billion dollar diet industry that thrives on our want to better ourselves. Fad diets, quick-fix plans, and all the other tricks in the business of weight loss are designed to garner profits and create repeat customers. January is by far the most profitable time for such companies and one only has to look at this week’s sales flyers to see the plethora of offerings related to the business of New Year’s resolutions.

However, there is a saying… “Don’t make a resolution… make yourself!”

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions especially when it came to losing weight. I’ve always felt that this yearly tradition is a setup up for failure. For example, back in the days when I was morbidly obese I’d resolve that a certain year was going to be the one where I’d lose all of my weight. I’d start out strong with the latest diet plan that guaranteed success. More often than not the plan was flawed and the task was too daunting. By mid-February my umph was gone and I’d give up because it was just too hard. I’d hang my towel over the console of the treadmill and walk away. I saw it with many people at the gym this year. The gym was jam-packed during the month of January and a few weeks later crowds started to thin out. By the beginning of February things had died down quite a bit and by the end of February it was back to normal.

Why does this happen? My thoughts are because we choose resolutions that are too specific, too big, and too rigid and in doing so we set ourselves up for failure. Throwing in the towel often happens because the process is difficult or it’s taking too long and frustration wins out. It can become an “all or nothing” scenario. Sometimes it is a matter of pushing too hard, too soon, and burning out rather than making incremental and lasting change. Instead of focusing on how far we’ve come, we look at how much work we still need to do and that puts us in the wrong mindset for success.

The answer is easy… shift the focus. Change is very much a mind game. When I started to look at the days ahead differently, real change began to happen and there was a permanence to it. Instead of the typical New Year’s resolutions I adjusted my perspective and I found the results were amazing. In the process I lost close to 180 pounds and my lifestyle became dramatically different. Here’s what I did…

Rather than resolve to lose a huge amount of weight, I chose a few milestones that I wanted to complete. That first year was to go on backpacking trips and I accomplished that. I was morbidly obese so I knew I’d have to work up to backpacking. I started with short walks, then day hikes, then practice hikes with a pack. Next thing I knew I was hiking the rugged shores of the Bruce Peninsula. The weight was coming off and I felt better than I had in a very long time. Years that followed included activities like canoeing, cycling, bike-packing Le P’tit Train du Nord, running a half marathon, and all sorts of other fun adventures. Some of these milestones didn’t have set timelines but others had dates attached to them because of the need for registration or reservation as well as booking vacation time.

As I prepared for such activities everything else fell into place. I watched nutrition through moderation and mindful eating which helped to fuel my body properly. Not having a specific deadline lowered stress levels. This in turn reduced cortisol and other stress hormones which helped me to lose weight more easily. I trained so that I would be well prepared and not risk injury.

Accountability is a big motivator for me but I find a blanket statement like a that of a resolution just doesn’t cut it. My milestones, whether camping excursions, cycling trips, or running events, are what keep me accountable. Even those times when I’ve had to bail on an event, like this year when my heart had other ideas, I kept the next milestone in the back of my mind and did what I could to work towards that.

In a few days I will share some of my plans for the coming year and I would love to hear what milestones you have in mind for yourself.

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I chose last Saturday for my return to running because it was the anniversary of when I started a Couch to 5K program to train for my first race (2011). It felt amazing to run after being off pretty much since summer, even though the reality is that I have to rebuild my running base from the beginning again. As much as my lacing up again is good news, it isn’t all of the news I have to write about today. In my last post I mentioned that I had something to share about an opportunity to make a difference that is tied in with a Spring Race.

Back in mid-October I wrote a blog entry that illustrated how very important it is for people, especially women, to advocate for health care when it comes to matters of the heart. I often share the link on twitter and, a few days after, I received a direct twitter message from Seanna at Running Well. She told me how moved she was by my experience at the hospital and asked me if I would consider being a Run Ambassador for a new running event being held alongside the Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart on June 5, 2016. It is a Run/Walk along the Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto. As far as I know this is the only run to ever be held on this particular street. There are 5K and 10K runs as well as a 5K walk. Even better, it’s a family friendly event.
I didn’t even have to think about it.

YES!

RFH_F16_Ambassador_Facebook_1200x1200_v1I didn’t take this decision lightly as I have a tough road ahead when it comes to rebuilding my fitness. There are so many positive reasons to take this on that saying “no” was not an option. This run is for an organization that is close to my heart because I am a survivor and because of my family’s history with heart disease. I would love to have my story inspire more people to take the first step and do something to change their lives. While I hope that I have been able to do that already, I’m always game for other opportunities to help people find their fit side. Of course there is that message that my experiences send about the need for all of us to be proactive in our own health care whether that be with heart disease, diabetes, or any other health challenges we face. Running has been such a big part of my healthier life and being able to share that motivates me to keep moving forward.

I will be running the 10K. My goal is to run strong so I’m starting with a 5K program and then I will jump into a 10K program once my 5K base is solid. With the event being in late Spring it gives ample time to do this well.

It is my hope that people will choose to train alongside me using social media. I would love to have you share your efforts with me too because I find it very inspiring. You will find me on twitter and instagram as @innerpossible plus on DailyMile. I will be posting all of the fit things I am doing to work back up to the 10K distance and using the hashtags #RideforHeart, #CreateSurvivors, and #RunforHeart. You may also want to follow @TheHSF on twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

If you’ve never run before, seriously consider this race as your first event. Running is a wonderful way to get active and events, such as this one, are fun. If you decide to do this, please send me a note. I would love to offer my support and encouragement. If I can do this, you can too!

Registration for the event opens December 3rd, however, I will be sharing a discount code soon. Stay tuned!

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Yes, this is a race report. It has been a long time coming, hasn’t it? Now that you’ve picked your jaw up off the keyboard… grab your beverage of choice (I’m having Hibiscus tea) and get comfortable because this is going to be a bit of a read. Before I get into the summation of the event I will give a bit of a preamble for those who haven’t followed this journey of mine.

Where to start? Well, I suppose the last races are as good a place as any.

In October 2013 I participated in three events. The first two were on the first weekend of the month. Run for the Toad was a 12.5K leg of a trail relay on a very hilly course at Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area. The next day I completed a 5K Colour Run on the trails in Christie Lake Conservation Area. I felt unwell that weekend. The third race, later in October, was my first and only one that started but didn’t finish. I panicked halfway through the course. I was consciously worried about breaking my ankle but there was also a deeper level of anxiety. Ironically a few weeks later I broke my toes. The deeper anxiety, in hindsight, was that I was a running time bomb with an artery that was almost 80% blocked.

the hospital stay

the hospital stay

As you may have read, I had a procedure to fix that in March of 2014. Luckily I didn’t have a heart attack nor did I cause heart damage. Running had saved my life and I was determined to pick up where I left off in late 2013.

Recovery was tough. I ran but not the way I used to. Physically there was nothing holding me back. I had the all-clear from the doctors to run, train on hills, weight lift and whatever else I wanted to tackle. To be honest, I was terrified. I signed up for races and bailed over and over again. A full marathon, half marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks, all came and went. Race day would arrive and I would lose my nerve. Training suffered over the year and anxiety became the norm. I’d hop off the treadmill every 10 minutes during a run to check my blood pressure. I’d run a handful of times each month but training had gone to the wayside. I could bike 10 to 20K at an all-out pace at the gym but to run for even a few kilometers was stressful. Sure there were a thousand reasons why it was so hard, after all I had lost my base, but the bottom line is that I was scared. It takes a lot for me to admit that the thought of running at a race was so crippling to me. Fear and anxiety took over.

There was a breaking point. A month ago I dropped out of the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon. I wasn’t trained but I had agreed to run part of it. My friend Carla had signed up just after I had and I wanted to be there to support her like she has done for me over and over. A family issue arose and I had to cancel. In doing so, I felt that I had really let my friend down and I felt horrible about it. That said, I was relieved that I wasn’t running despite what was going on here. Fear had reared its’ ugly head yet again and regret crept into the mix. Letting myself down is one thing but letting a close friend down was really upsetting. I don’t have words for how bad I felt.

About a week before the Niagara event I signed up for Long Point Eco-Adventures’ Smugglers Run Trail Race near Turkey Point, Ontario. There were three distances but because it was trail run and my running base was shot, I chose the smallest of the three which was 6K. For weeks before the event I wrestled with whether I should run it. What if I had more heart problems? I could injure myself, after all I hadn’t worked on a solid running base. What if I was last? What would people think? What if the cardiologist was wrong and I had a heart attack on the course? What if something happened with the kids while I was out running? What if? What if? I was overthinking everything and being a little dramatic.

I resolved that I was not going to back out of this race. I was going to brave the start line and that even if I had to walk the entire race, I would cross the finish line. It had been 21 months since I had completed an event. 21 months! Time to suck it up and move forward. With the support of a great circle of friends I prepared for race day.

And… finally the race report.

pre-race selfie

pre-race selfie

I arose at 5:20 am and groggily got ready to leave. Bryan and I had an hour drive and wanted to meet our friend Mandi, around 7:30. The morning was gorgeous and the drive out was a little foggy but nice. We drove through the countryside and made our way to Turkey Point arriving at Long Point Eco-Adventures around the time that we had planned. Long Point Eco-Adventures is a wonderful facility. There was an observation tower, zip lining and all sorts of other things. The property was directly across from the Burning Kiln Winery.

We explored for a bit and had a snack. I was in capris but at the last moment decided to change into my running shorts because it was warming up considerably. Mandi was kind enough to share some homemade bug repellant that she had created and then we headed to the start line so we could cheer the 18K and 12K runners as they took off on the trails. In all there was about a hundred runners. I was mentally prepared that the worst case scenario would be a lovely walk in the woods. My mantra was that “forward is a pace”.

the cool race bib

the cool race bib

The race officials sent us out 10 minutes early which was great because I was raring to go. The course wound around and down a bit of an incline. So far so good. Then we got to a boardwalk and there was a right turn in the middle of it. No big deal, right? Well, it was quite a step down into eroded and uneven ground and it faced the steepest hill I’ve ever seen. Yes, steeper and longer than Skeleton Hill at Run for the Toad. Goodness gracious. Mandi and Bryan had run ahead so I was quite happily running on my own. I was dead last but I had the second and third last people in my sights. As I crested the hill and came around the corner into the fields, there was Bryan. He was waiting to run with me and he had picked a wild Brown-eyed Susan which he handed to me when I ran to him. I tucked it into my Bondi Band and off we ran.

© Wilson Photography

© Wilson Photography

He was determined to run the rest of the course with me. We spent quite a bit of time walking as the hills were brutal. Did I mention it was really hilly? Parts of the course had two-way traffic and it was quite narrow so there were pauses to let the runners doing the 18K pass by. Every once in a while he’d swat a mosquito on my back. I suppose I should have worn a light coloured shirt and used bug repellant on my torso. Oops.

Just around the 5K mark Bryan had an epic wipeout. He tripped on a root and his shoe went flying down a steep embankment and his iPod went in the other direction. Bryan landed right in the damp dirt. We were only a few meters from the paramedics when they heard me yell to see if he was all right. Bryan was a bit embarrassed and his toe is very badly bruised. We lost a few minutes while he retrieved his gear but this race wasn’t about time for us and the wee break gave me a little umph for a stronger finish. I was determined to finish even if I was dead last, but my chivalrous husband made me go ahead of him. I crossed the finish line with the flower still in my headband.

The best way I can describe this course is that if you were to take a 12.5K loop from Run for the Toad and condense the elevations there into 6K, you have the Smugglers Run. Holy technical and hilly—the kind of hills that chew you up and spit you out. My lack of training was evident and I had to walk more than I wanted to. The time on my Garmin time read 01:10:34 and my official chip time was 01:12:19.

the casks

the casks

After we crossed the finish line we collected our commemorative glass mugs that were given instead of finishers medals and headed over to Burning Kiln Winery for our complimentary glass of wine. I enjoyed a most delicious Cab-Franc as the awards were given out.

Would I run this again?

You bet, but I’d actually train for it next time. Long Point Eco-Adventures hosted a fabulous event. There was great volunteer support on the trail with water stations every few kilometers. The route was stunningly beautiful.

I am so happy that I went out and braved the start line. Of course, I had the typical post-race high and during that booked to run the same distance in another trail race named Chase the Coyote in Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. The race is at the end of September and that gives me time to get some decent hill training in. I’m running the Oasis ZooRun 10K in Toronto a few weeks before and that course isn’t exactly flat either.

I sure do things the hard way as this wasn’t exactly a moderate course for my first race after such a long sabbatical, but adversity met perseverance on Sunday and it feels great to be back! The crippling fear has been conquered and laid to rest.

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Seven months ago today I had been transported, by ambulance, from Hamilton to Brantford after undergoing the Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (formerly known as angioplasty). Later that afternoon I was released and I began the process of recovery.

Physically I recovered very quickly but emotionally the journey has been a little more difficult. It has been hard to try and wrap my head around the fact that I am okay. It freaks me out to know I have something foreign in my body. I underwent all sorts of post-procedure testing and that indicated that there could be a mild and reversible issue or that my ample bosom was interfering with the scans. In other words, I’m fine. As you know, I had been cleared to train for a marathon so that in itself was pretty positive. Yet, here I was struggling with runs and breathing. Five minutes into things I would start having troubles and my mind would automatically go to thoughts of it being my heart again. It seemed to be getting worse… until…

Starbucks with Carla.

Back at the beginning of October, Carla and I decided to catch up with one another over coffee at her favorite coffee shop. The next thing I knew my dear friend had convinced me to go for an orientation at The Athletic Club (TAC) here in Brantford. I can’t remember how we actually got on the topic but next thing I knew we were touring the brightly lit facility. She didn’t pressure me but she did share her passion for working out there. I could see why. TAC is open, bright, and not the least bit intimidating. It wasn’t at all what I had anticipated. So, on October 4th I committed to becoming a member for a year. Quite honestly, I have toyed with the idea on numerous occasions but Carla gave me the gentle push I needed.

With membership at TAC you receive a fitness assessment as well as a personal training demo. I went in to see Kelly Harker and we spent well over an hour discussing my history, current health, lifestyle, and goals. Kelly did all sorts of fitness tests and gave me a copy of the results. I have some work to do. Body fat is still a concern, but I knew that going in. I still can’t do a push-up to save my life. Well, okay… I managed one and even that was modified. Apparently I have average strength biceps… that one shocked me. I would have expected a poor rating there. My flexibility is shot… I used to be able to sit and reach well beyond the tips of my toes (lol – I’ll just blame that on being a runner).

I had gone in with extremely low expectations surrounding cardio-fitness because, when it comes to my health, I’m a realist. I had been off with broken toes, heart issues, and bronchitis that verged on pneumonia—it was one hell of a year. With the time away from training I had expected my cardiovascular ability to be close to rock bottom. After all, every time I would run I would feel like I was immensely out of shape in that regard.

face your fears

face your fears

I braced myself for the news that my suspicions were correct, however, my VO2Max was much better than I thought. I had expected to be in around the 21 V02Max range which is quite low. The actual assessment was much higher at 33.2 which is considered good. What!? At first, I thought maybe she had made a mistake. It was at that moment I realized the breathing issues I have been having when I run are not physical… I was dealing with anxiety. Knowing that has been a gift that has allowed me to move beyond fears that my heart issue wasn’t fixed. That one simple act of going to Starbucks with Carla that day started me on a course of action that would lift a great weight from my shoulders.

While I have your attention, I should update you on The Fall Challenge that I decided to do in order to support my friend Kim.

Here is where I am at…

Nutrition

I have done well with all the goals I set out for myself except I still need to focus more on breaking the habit of having lunch in front of the computer. I could still do with incorporating more dark leafy vegetables too.

Fitness

I’m walking, running, and working out at the gym where I am concentrating on the areas that need some attention. I met with Jenn Jones, a Personal Trainer at TAC. Jenn gave me some pointers on how to achieve my goals which are to increase strength especially in the core, reduce body fat percentage, bring up my V02Max even more, increase flexibility and lose a little more body weight in a healthy way that I can maintain over the long term.

I am somewhat lacking in discipline when it comes to doing the daily yoga flows and will continue to work on that during the last bit of this challenge. Soon enough it will be second nature.

Posture

I’m continuing to work on correcting decades of poor posture. It’s tough but I am determined to stand tall. The gym has mirrors and that certainly helps me check my form when I am lifting and such.

Other

I’m sleeping better. There are a few exceptions to this, like when my little girl has been coughing in the night. Cutting down on the caffeine and exercising more has been quite helpful in this regard.

So there you have it. I’m back to my run-bunctious self.

I feel good great for the first time in over a year. I’m starting to sign up for running events that will take place in 2015 and my enthusiasm for fitness has returned.

And… I couldn’t have done this without the people who have encouraged me, believed in me, and lifted my spirit.

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The last few weeks have been a period of transition. My baby girl is now a kindergarten kid and her big brother is in his final year of elementary school. I’m not sure where the time has gone. I spent the first week of school tying up some loose ends and putting steps in place to move my career as a writer forward. My husband has been at the IMTS in Chicago so I spent the school days writing and negotiating new ventures, one of which is a freelance food writing gig with a magazine that focuses on fitness. I also started working on the outline for my fourth cookbook.

Now that the children are settled in the school routine and my career is moving in the direction I want it too, it is time to get the rest of my life on track. As you’ve heard, ad nauseum, the last ten and a half months have been akin to a roller-coaster ride when it comes to my health. So much of it was out of my control and lately I’ve been dealing with the emotional side of that. Things started turning the corner a few weeks before school started and I began to contemplate what adjustments I should be making to move forward with my goals.

Mid-week I saw a post on my friend’s Facebook timeline about an eight week lifestyle challenge. She was asking for people to join her. I looked through the videos, looked at what the program had to offer and decided that I would create my own 8 Week program and call it my Fall Challenge. This is partially to support my friend but also in order to regain my fitness and make some positive changes. Supporting and encouraging my friends helps me too and it makes me accountable because I’ve made a commitment to myself and to them.

Below you will find an overview of what I plan to work on over this 8-week time frame. This weekend I will measure and weigh myself. Then the scale will be hidden away until the end of the challenge because the scale lies. You’ll notice that there is nothing mentioned about weight loss although I am sure that will be a side effect of this process. I’m removing the scale from sight because I don’t want the focus to be related to numbers, I want it to be about healthy choices, wellness, and fitness.

The Fall Challenge

Nutrition

Eating will be a conscious activity. All meals and snacks will be consumed in the relaxed environment of my dining room. This means no more eating while I am writing at the computer or checking email. I won’t nibble when I am preparing meals or school lunches.

Portion control will be a big focus. I haven’t been as careful with that as I should have been and I have gained eleven pounds since my half marathon in 2013. There are several ways I will implement being better about this and I’ll share those in another post.

Caffeine reduction is going to be a difficult one for me. I am susceptible to severe headaches when I cut caffeine out entirely so I will need to do this gently over the length of the challenge until I am down to one cup per day. I started to reduce intake recently because I realized I was drinking four to six cups a day. Another issue is time of day. There have been days where I have a coffee at 7 pm and I wonder why I am having interrupted sleep patters. It’s really the warmth of the drink I like so I will be supplementing with herbal teas and such.

Better hydration. One thing I’ve noticed during my running hiatus is that I am not hydrating properly. There are days I drink nothing but coffee and a single glass of water. While the coffee does add to hydration, I know that I am out of balance in this regard.

Choosing more whole foods especially when it comes to snacks is something I need to get back to. This year I haven’t been as selective about the type of snacks I’ve been eating and often reach for a few crackers rather than a piece of fruit or some veggies with hummus. While I did make more of a conscious effort to do this throughout the summer, I know I could do more especially in the dark green leafy veggie category.

There is one thing that I have been far too lax with and that is testing my blood glucose. I used to check multiple times a day but lately the only time I’ve done that is if it is a day that I run and as we know that hasn’t been very often. So, I will be testing more frequently and keeping a better eye on how the dietary adjustments are affecting my body from that perspective.

Fitness

I’ve already started making some of the adjustments, such walking back and forth to the school with my children even though my teenage son is more than capable of escorting his sister to her kindergarten class. I will continue this and walk a minimum of 18K a week. This will include the trip to and from the school as well as the warm-up and cool-down walks I do on days that I run. Some days I will use the school walk as my warm-up if time and weather permits.

I plan to get back to running a minimum of three times a week but no more than five days per week. I will take two rest days. I hope to have achieved this consistent level of running by the fourth week. I will also strive to be better about stretching after I run. It is important that I rebuild my running base and do it in a smart way that prevents injuries.

Every day I will complete a yoga workout whether it is for 10 minutes or an hour. I will vary what I do to keep it interesting and also to complement running and cross training. On the days I rest from running I will select a flow that is more on the gentle side so I can give my body the recovery it needs.

I’m planning to cross train more consistently than I have been. This could include hiking, cycling, weights, or boxing. I also have several DVDs that I can draw upon—everything from kickboxing and Pilates to Qigong.

The other important element here is intensity. I will ensure that at least two of my weekly fitness activities are at a much higher intensity than the rest of my workouts. This could mean hills or speed work if I am running. I will lengthen the time holding planks and yoga poses as I get better at them. Every week I will slightly increase the heaviness or repetitions of the weights.

The focuses will be improving cardiovascular ability, running endurance, core strength, and flexibility. The goal is to feel strong.

Posture

This has always been a big issue for me. I have rounded shoulders from years of slouching. I’m a tall and chesty girl at just shy of 6 feet and have always been self-conscious when it comes to my height. When I was a child I started to physically try and reduce how tall I appeared and some habits die hard.

Because I write for a living, I need to reconfigure the height of my laptop to help correct my sitting posture. Currently I have to look down and my gaze is practically at a 45° angle.

Strengthening the core will help as will watching my form while running. I will hold my head high and be proud about standing tall.

Other Adjustments

This is an emotional and social makeover too. Surrounding myself with like-minded, positive people has been so amazing for me. I don’t have time or inclination to invest in toxic relationships. The last one ended around this time in 2012 and through that I learned a great deal about what kind of BS I will not accept in my life. As I connect with new people I will remind myself to pay attention to the red flags rather than ignore them.

I won’t sweat the small stuff. This one may be easier said than done as I am a worrier by nature but I know worry is counter-productive. I need to have faith in myself and that I can overcome any problem big or small. When I start to worry I will refocus by distracting myself with something else.

Another aspect that I want to reincorporate into my life is time for me. For years I took 15-minutes a day just for myself. It made me feel good and that in-turn helped me to be a better wife, mother, and friend.

Since I broke my toes back in the latter months of 2013 I’ve been somewhat hiding out. It is time to be a little more social. This isn’t just from a family and friends perspective, I would like to be more involved with my children’s school. This week I went and picked up the forms to get a police check so that I can help out on their school trips. I will do some volunteer work as well.

One of the most beneficial changes will be correcting my sleep habits. Actually that should be lack of sleep habits. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends trying to balance being a Mom and a writer. I will attempt to get to bed at the same time each night. I will avoid caffeine after 3 pm. I will try to refrain from checking the messages on my phone if I wake up in the middle of the night.

Clutter on my desk causes clutter in my mind. It may sound odd, but for some reason it affects my writing when my desk looks like a tornado dumped half the contents of my purse, scribbled notes and scraps of paper, junk mail, flash cards, various chargers, USB keys and other odds and ends on its beautiful wooden top. I will spend a few minutes every morning to keep it from getting out of hand again.

My challenge will come to a close around the one year anniversary of kicking that 5lb hand-weight and breaking my toes. By then this should all have become a permanent part of how I live, at least that is my hope. I’m looking it as a bit of a reset—the end of 12 difficult months.

So there you have it, my plan of action—my Fall Challenge. I will start on the first day of Autumn and go from there. It’s not written in any particular order and I likely won’t be trying to do all of this at once. I believe some of this will progress quite naturally. You can find more about the program here at www.8weekchallenge.com or you could make your own version as I have. Throughout these 8 weeks I will share my successes, setbacks, and how I’m managing overall. I may even post a bit about what is going on in my kitchen with meals and even a recipe or two.

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I write this, still unsure about sharing such a personal part of my training as it makes me feel vulnerable. However, it is important, especially in the role of Digital Champion, that people see that this journey is not always an easy one. It is my hope that sharing the struggles as well as the triumphs will illustrate what we can overcome and how the marathon is already changing me.

Sunday was horribly hot and humid. The temperature with the Humidex was 39°C and the air quality was awful. I left early but not early enough and the heat zapped me. It was almost suffocating. My scheduled distance was 12K but I only managed 6.5K. Partway through the run my son sent me a text saying he was really feeling ill and here I was out on a run.  Guilt started to take over but it also became an excuse to bail. Bryan brought water to me when I was just past the halfway point and instead of refilling the bottles on my belt, I climbed into the Jeep and said “take me home” with tears streaming down my face. I was severely dehydrated and I felt emotionally drained.

Had you asked me after that run on Sunday if I was going to still run the marathon I would have said, “No, I’m dropping out! I can’t do this. It’s too hard.” In fact, I did say that to Bryan and my friend Kate T. that afternoon. I also wrote an email to the lady who oversees the Digital Champions program for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM), with the intent of stepping down.

The email to Canada Running Series sat in my email outbox… and remained unsent. It sat there waiting. I thought about sending it but every time I went to click the send button, I hesitated.

I pondered. Who am I running for?

I cried. Why am I putting so much pressure on myself?

I soul-searched. Do I really want to do this?

Bryan is on vacation right now… a stay-at-home vacation so we can get some things done on the house and enjoy downtime with family. I took a few days off from running which I totally shouldn’t be doing because I have a marathon base to build. It was necessary though, because, I needed a mental recharge and some time to think… to deal with the self-doubt and run away from it.

I found the answers and my head is back in the game.

I came to the realization that I have putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform at a certain level and it is a level I am no longer at. It has been tough coming back after my heart having gone through so much but the problem isn’t my heart right now. It is in my mind. Before the issues came to light I was able to run a half. Not fast… but I felt strong. The last event I was in was the 12.5K leg of an arduous trail relay in October 2013. My heart problems were, in hindsight, evident then. In February, I got back up to 12K and it wasn’t as strong because of what was going on in my body. This is hard for me to admit… but for the past two weekends I have had 12K on the long run schedule and both times I completely talked myself out of running around 6.5K or so. It’s almost like a panic sets in and I shut down. 12K seems to be such a hurdle. It’s hard to put into words but there is a fear that exists for me about having another issue with the heart.  Combine that with Sunday’s heat and I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel.

I never sent the email to JCRS. In fact, I deleted it entirely and reading this may likely be the first they’ve heard of it. That’s a good thing.

I will not give into fear. It’s a mere obstacle getting in my way.

I am not a quitter. I’ve proven that time and time again. I’ve been through so much and each time I have fallen I have picked myself up, worked hard, and tried again and again until I reached my goal.

I’m not having an easy time training in the heat but it isn’t supposed to be easy, is it?

So, what made me change my mind and delete the email to CRS?

Runners… I have never met a more supportive group of people.

I posted my frustrations on The Happy Pace, a little running group I host on Facebook, and I chatted with some of my fellow Digital Champions. I talked with my husband. I came to realize that training for a marathon is just as much a mental thing as a physical thing and that many others have gone through these periods of self doubt. Other runners shared how the heat was making them feel and I discovered that I am not alone. The time off for a little staycation fun really helped too. This morning I went out and ran a 5K at slightly faster than LSD pace. The goal was to simply enjoy the run.

I’ve decided to take a different approach with the 12K distance. I’m going to totally skip it and jump right to 13K. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, after all it is just a number, but maybe… just maybe that will help my mind get over whatever it is holding onto when it comes to 12K. I’ll take it gentle and slow because it is more of a jump than I had planned but it is only 1K more.

I’m going to handle my recovery runs on Sunday mornings differently by taking the pressure off pace and time and distance. I’ll record the details but I will not look at them as I run. I will simply run as far as I feel and then maybe go for a bike ride or do something else active later. It could be a hike, chasing the kids at the park, or whatever. I need to embrace some of the fun side of this again especially if I am going to make it through this hot summer. On my long distance runs I may enlist the help of a friend to meet me and do part of the run with me. Or maybe I’ll take my son up on his offer to bike while I run. I have plenty of ideas to help make this work and keep my mind where it needs to be… reaching for my inner possible.

I will not give up on the dream of running my first marathon.

This song says it all…

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In December, when I shared the news that I was invited to be a Digital Champion with Canada Running Series for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K, I had no idea what was in store for me. What transpired next was a fairly difficult time in my life.

I had returned to training after my broken toes healed but my heart had other ideas. I was unable to cross the start line on Yonge Street because I had to have a heart procedure mere weeks before race day.  Having to back out of something I had whole-heartedly committed to was devastating but my fellow Digital Champions never wavered—I was embraced by a circle of support that I hadn’t expected. Being a Digital Champion taught me that sometimes our connection goes far beyond training and encouraging one another. It was deeper than I ever expected… a kindred relationship that began with our love of the run and then transcended it. At that point I decided that I would be the best cheerleader I could be in the days leading up to the event.  As difficult as it was for me, I chose to be at the start line to see the other runners head out when the horn went off.  I choked back tears while cheering as loud and exuberantly as I could. A few weeks later I happily returned to running again.

Now that I’ve recapped things, I’ll share this secret I’ve been keeping…

I have been invited, once again, to be a Digital Champion. Of course I accepted and this time I will be representing the 25th Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) alongside 49 other runners marathoners who inspire me beyond words. You can find out more about this diverse group on the Canada Running Series blog.

I hadn’t intended that my decision to run a full marathon would actually be a comeback story, but it seems life has taken me in that direction.  As training progresses I will share more about my journey to the start line of my first marathon.  Please feel free to send me a message if you have any questions or comments. I’m @innerpossible on twitter or you can connect with all of the Digital Champions using #STWM.

 

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