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Wow! My blog certainly has been idle for a long while. I took a hiatus for several months to do other things including to spend more time with my family. I’ve been staying active and trying my hand at gardening (again). I’ve been knitting and reading as time allows… sometimes I like to be a bit of an introvert and that seemed to be a theme this year as I worked through the frustrating feelings the health battles of last year left me with. Here is a synopsis of what has been happening in my life.

The Centre of My World

My children are doing well. I’m happy for summer break and a reduction in the amount of school-borne illnesses. It was a rough Spring with cold after cold that would spread to everyone in the house. I nicknamed it the “kindergarten crud”. My daughter is really excited about being a big girl going into the first grade. She’s working on reading by herself and learning to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels. I’m keeping the first aid kit well stocked for knee scrapes. Miss K. is somewhat competitive with her big brother so she shows great determination but the balance of riding the bike is a work in progress. Speaking of her brother, my son is turning out to be such an amazing young man. This is the Mom Brag warning. Now where was I? Oh yes, TC  is on the Minister’s Student Advisory Council for 2016/2017 and will attend the Ontario Leadership Education Centre this summer. This is his second term. He has also landed his first full time summer job and it’s a fun one. He is working for the school board as a day-camp counsellor. Seeing him leave for his first day last week was akin to putting him on the school bus that first morning 11 years ago. There may have been a few tears. I’m so proud of how he has taken such initiative. There are times though, that I miss my chubby-cheeked little boy.

A Slow Progression Into a New Career – Maybe

My last post was about my training to be a Physical Activity Community Educator (PACE) with the Grand River Community Health Centre. Training went well and I am into my fourth month of leading fitness walks each week. I’m also doing some one-on-one mentoring which I feel is an important support for people. I’m finding that I am getting as much out of this experience as the people I am working with. It’s very inspiring seeing the enthusiasm at the start of someone’s journey. This is also a great way to get me out of my office and into the community in a meaningful way. Sadly I have to step back for the month of August but I hope to be back at it in September.

Outside of the initial training for PACE I’ve taken a few courses on my own such as fundamental movement skills, physical activity in the heat, and concussion awareness. Currently I’m studying a 4-week course called Physiotherapy, Exercise & Physical Activity. I’m tossing around the idea of taking college courses to become a personal trainer or fitness coach – maybe. Or perhaps there is another book in my future? I’m still not entirely sure which direction I want to take with this. I feel that with my own journey I have much that I could bring to whatever I eventually decide to do… after all, I know how much dedication it takes to change your life.

Tent Time

Camping is on the summer agenda of course and I’m excited about that. We had to adjust plans to suit the boy having a job but it is all working out well. I’ve decided to pitch my tent at the same place where my heart problems started last August… Bruce Peninsula National Park. I’m considering the trip a bit of a restart. I promise to post some photos and a trip summary when we return. I bought a new camera as I broke mine at the same spot last year so I’m going to play around with that a little. And a dear friend and her family will be coming from Ottawa to camp with us. We met through running and get along quite well. I haven’t seen her in person since September and it is going to be a great adventure.

My Running Life

I ran two events this year. The first was the Oakville Mercedes 10K at the end of April. I chose to drop down to the 5K distance and walked more of the course than I expected to. It was great to be back at a start line though. There is just something wonderful about the race day vibe. The second was the 5K run at the Ride for Heart in Toronto. I was an ambassador for the Heart & Stroke Foundation so I got the VIP treatment. Here are the details.

I ran in memory of Chuck Orosz and Bill Langman.  Chuck was a friend of ours who passed away suddenly from a heart attack last summer. I missed his memorial service because of my own heart issues so I wanted to do this as a way to honor him. Bill was my Daddy. He died of a heart attack when I was a teenager and I miss him terribly.

Thankfully the rain held off and it was muggy but with a nice breeze. I ran some of the course and I went out really strong but I also walked a lot more than I had anticipated. I’d been dealing with all sorts of issues as I tried to rebuild my base so I knew that I wasn’t going with any sort of a running base. A few weeks before the event a lovely friend said to me that the victory lies in being alive to enjoy the start line, so I carried that thought throughout the race. During my extended walk breaks I took the time to talk to others walking about why they were running or walking this event. Some of the stories were incredible. One lady had emigrated from Israel and her family history of heart disease was so bad that two of her brothers became cardiologists. Another group was doing the event under the name Team Carol because their friend passed away from a sudden heart attack last year. With each story I realized what a gift it was that I could participate in the event and how being an ambassador for the race helped me through a very difficult time in my life. I ran most during the last kilometre where I encouraged a woman who was struggling so that she could cross the finish line as strong as possible. A few hundred metres before I parted ways with her and ran to the finish line.

Even though there were some things about this event that could be improved, this race reminded me about one of the things I love most about the running community and that is the way we support one another. Oh and being in the first group of runners to ever do a race on Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway was cool too.

Speaking of running, Bryan, the kids and I are participating in Chase the Coyote this coming Fall. It’s a trail race that has three distances. Bryan is running the 14.4K and the rest of us are running the short course which is 5.7K. Miss K is merely six years old so this will be a good distance for her. She’s quite exuberant about running so it will be fun to train with her. We are still undecided about which of us she’ll run with at the event but she seems to be leaning towards getting her brother to be her sidekick.

Well that’s all for now. I’ll be posting some gear reviews and other ramblings over the coming weeks as I start my return to regular writing.

Life is short… go out and embrace it! B(e) Positive!

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PACE

As usual it has been a bit hectic so I’ve been spending more time away from social media. There is the usual Mom business in the height of cold & flu season and I am back in the swing of training for my Spring running events.  I’ve been playing around with a Polar M400 and an in-depth review will be coming up. I’m still working on the manuscript for my third book and hope to finish it in the next month or so. On top of all of this I’m in career transition mode.

Quite some time ago I decided to close the doors on the web and graphic design business. I’d been designing since 1994 and, while I was very talented and the income was great, it had become something I wasn’t super-passionate about. Then, when I became a published author I realized that I needed to put my energies into work I am passionate about… work that I enjoy. Writing books and articles, as you have probably surmised, is something I love and will continue to do, however, I find I am being drawn in an interesting direction. It seems the more I fight it, the more the universe seems to be conspiring to make it happen.

You are likely wondering when I am going to get to the point of explaining how the title of this post, PACE, relates to my ramblings above.

Yesterday was the perfect day to walk to a meeting. Even if I knew how to drive, taking the car a half kilometre would be a waste of a beautiful morning walk.

I am now in training to be a Physical Activity Community Educator (PACE) for a local community health centre. This is a volunteer position that will allow me the opportunity to help others adopt a healthier lifestyle with one-on-one mentoring, leading group activity programs, helping create a physical activity library, motivational talks, and leading workshops.

Part of the reason I moving forward with this is to give back to my community and help others. I’ve always appreciated being able to make a positive impact in people’s’ lives. There are also personal and professional growth components to this. Helping others will keep me motivated and accountable, plus I have been tossing around the idea of doing more career-wise in this field. This is a wonderful chance to get my feet wet.

I’ve looked at several options including becoming a registered dietitian, fitness coach, or personal trainer. I’m not prepared, at this stage in my life, to take a four year BaSC so I am leaning strongly towards the personal trainer side of things once I surpass a few more milestones. While there is a lot of competition for positions, I do have a unique perspective that could set me apart. I’d love to work with diabetics in a training environment. I’m not there yet but it seems that I am constantly being pulled in this direction for a reason.

I have much to think about but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy helping people in my community learn that they can do things they never thought possible.

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hello 2016

2015 was a rather eventful year that held many wonderful moments along with struggle and sadness. With the roller coaster ride I have learned much about myself. I am resilient. I overcome obstacles. I am a survivor. And, I am grateful for all of it. Even though I leave 2015 behind, I carry with me joyful memories of time spent with people I love and wisdom garnered from making it through difficult times.

Resolutions are something I really don’t prescribe to, but you knew that.  Of course I do have a bit of a plan for the year. Last year my life took some turns that got in the way so I didn’t reach some most of my milestones. Some of my plans from 2015 will be left behind perhaps to be revisited at another time and others will be brought forward. In 2016 I will continue living active, embracing motherhood, advocating for my health, listening to my intuition, eating mindfully and having fun.

Fitness wise I am working towards rebuilding my 5K and 10K running base. Right now I’m battling a persistent cough which is irritating because it limits what I can do. My first race is a 5K near the end of April and the second will be the event that I am an ambassador for. It is a 10K Run at the Ride for Heart in Toronto in early June. In training for these two events I will be building towards the 21.1K distance again and perhaps even running a half marathon in the autumn. I keep a list of events I am registered for, or contemplating, here on my blog.

Out with the old and in with the new! All this talk about running and I am reminded that I need new running shoes. My current pair has about 780K on them. I noticed on my last runs that left arch is letting me know that it’s high time to replace my beloved Asics. I might need two pair this year if everything goes well. I plan to run quite a bit.

I haven’t been to the gym consistently in a while because of my heart and now this blasted cough so I’ll be heading back there soon enough. I love to hop on the bike, lift, and swim to cross train. I was determined that I wasn’t going to like the gym but I actually do. Go figure. I’m well over a year into my membership though and I still haven’t taken a class. I might have to try that out especially seeing as Movati has a wonderful new yoga studio. I like to think of it as my “Mommy Time Out”. The gym days usually mean some social time with my friend Carla who’s company I quite enjoy. She tends to be my adultier adult.

When the trails are open for cycling again, I’m hoping to get out on some longer rides with friends (this means you Jenha) and family. I love my bike. In the meantime, I’d love to see some decent snow on those trails so that I might snowshoe. Yoga is something I love practicing too and I let that slide when I was dealing with the severe bruising on my leg after my heart procedure. It’s something my wee girl and I love to do together. I also stopped the little plank and wall-sit streak I was doing alongside my son. The health issues certainly interrupted the fun I was having so time to get back to business.

Speaking of health, I’m still keeping close tabs on blood sugar and blood pressure levels in order to keep diabetic retinopathy halted in its tracks. While not to the proliferative stages, it has been worsening and was quite severe at my last visit. I see the specialist tomorrow and will go from there.

I adore being a Mom and I am blessed to be able to work from home which makes balancing motherhood with career a little bit easier. I’ll be volunteering at my daughter’s school a little bit and will continue to walk her back and forth to kindergarten each day. Hopefully her brother will join us from time-to-time. The trend our family started in 2015 was to have more unplugged times when the weather is too miserable for outdoor activity and that includes playing games, crafts, and, my favourite, colouring. It’s all about connecting to one another rather than the internet. That will continue this year.

When it comes to what’s going on with my work 2016 is going to be an interesting. Professional growth is the theme here. I’m close to being finished with the manuscript for that third cookbook. It has taken so long and there has been one hiccup after another but I’m plugging away. I was stuck for a bit and loathing the process. Think of my being at the point equivalent to the 35K mark of a marathon. Once a book is turned in I’m usually ready to jump into the next one—I hope to be sharing a proposal and discussing contracts by October.  I’ve also been seeking more assignments as a freelance writer and I will be studying towards earning the Editors’ Association of Canada’s various professional certifications.

Creativity is going to be back in the forefront this year. Yesterday I replaced my beloved camera that ceased working at Cyprus Lake last summer. I chose what is referred to as a bridge camera because it is weather resistant and that will be useful on our rainy camping trips.. I’ll be hacking around with that as well as my usual pursuits such as drawing, knitting, sewing, and reading.  It’s part of my plan to create bonding experiences with the children and Bryan plus redirect stress.

At the end of 2015 I started purging the contents of drawers, closets, toy boxes, cupboards, my office cabinets, the basement, and the pantry. Bryan started doing the same with the shed and backyard just before Christmas. I want to continue along those lines and get rid of the clutter. There are still unpacked boxes in the basement from our move in 2007 so it’s high time to see what has been forgotten in the cellar of this old place.

Bryan, the children, and I have yet to have a good discussion about our plans for vacation time. There has been the odd mention of another bike-packing trip in Quebec or some wilderness canoe tripping. I’d love to backpack again but my little girl can’t put in the kilometres for more than a day hike just yet. At the dinner table on New Year’s Eve we were chatting about what we did last summer and mentioned another visit to Santa’s Village. Our five year old piped up and said “I want to go to Cyprus again! Can we go there first?” So perhaps we will do that. Whatever we decide, there will be tent time.

And… I may just learn to drive a car this year.

Basically my year is a relatively blank and open book. Whatever 2016 brings me there is one thing I do know… it will be a year filled with gratitude, happiness, and love. I wish the same for you.

Happy New Year!

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farewell to 2015

In a few days 2015 will be drawing to a close. In many ways it was a wonderful year but part of me is glad that it is almost over. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some tremendously special moments even if it was quite the roller coaster ride.

The year started out positively enough with my cardiologist lifting all restrictions and I began to kick things up a few notches at the gym. It was much fun and without the restrictions I was able to work on lifting more weight. I was getting stronger. I would often go with my friend Carla and then we’d go out for tea or on a shopping excursion.

I started to knit more especially seeing that one of my very best friends was expecting. I swore at the beginning of 2015 that I would not end up with a yarn stash bigger than a single Rubbermaid container. My knitting and crocheting friends laughed but I insisted I wasn’t going to stash yarn. Well, I’m close to starting my third container. Oops. We won’t talk about the KnitPicks needle purchases. I managed to finish quite a few practical items including a blanket and hat for my friend’s baby, several winter hats for my daughter, baby washcloths, dishcloths, and a few cowls. I still have a poncho, a left yoga sock, a baby sweater, and another baby blanket to finish. Knitting really helped me get through some of the more difficult moments of the year.

I re-evaluated many relationships and made great change there. There were a few toxic people in my circle that I needed to distance myself from. This has been a recurring theme in my life as I tend to be overly accepting and kind even in instances where I probably shouldn’t be. I also tend to be too forgiving. My life has been much less stressful without the drama. While they may have been lovely people, sometimes that just isn’t enough. When someone is not respectful or honest with me then I am forced to make difficult choices and that meant that I had to put myself first by distancing myself from those who are not mutually supportive. These changes made room to grow relationships with other people where there is a balance between give and take.

I booked quite a few races for 2015 including a half marathon but unfortunately only managed to run at one event. It was painful for me to have to drop out of event after event and let my friends down. I did manage to run and walk at the Long Point Eco-Adventures’ Smugglers Run Trail Race in July. In hindsight, that might not have been such a good idea but at the time I was oblivious to the fact that my body had created scar tissue inside my stent and into my left circumflex artery. Still, the run was fun and memorable.

aerial

aerial obstacle course

We took our children to Santa’s Village in Bracebridge, Ontario for four or five days and they had a blast. So did Bryan and I. The guys completed the aerial obstacle course and did the whole ziplining thing at Sportsland. My little girl did her first flips on the trampolines there too. Santa’s Village is included in the camping package and is quite a lot of fun. The Sportsland side isn’t and it can get expensive, however, the adventures great albeit geared to the older kids and kids at heart. Santa came to our campsite a few times and the Elves even dropped off a gift in the middle of the night—it was like Christmas in July. My five-year old daughter was delighted and full of wonder. I think she may have even overfed Dasher. When we weren’t across the street at Santa’s Village, we were in the swimming pool cooling off.

One of the highlights of that trip, for me, was being able to perform a random act of kindness. As we were packing up to leave I took a half bag of wood to a family at a neighbouring campsite. This is something we always do when we are camping. This time around we had some extra Sportsland tickets to pass on as well. A grandmother was sitting at the picnic table while her grandchildren were at the nearby playground with my children. A tear streamed down her cheek as she thanked me over and over again. Then she struggled to her feet and gave me the warmest embrace. Sometimes we receive the best gifts in giving to someone else. You see, Grandma had mobility challenges and a limited income but took every cent she had to do this trip for her grandkids. She was their only guardian and wanted them to have some wonderful summer memories. She went on to mention that, after she paid for the camping package, she’d had only enough money to buy wood for the first night’s campfire and they wouldn’t be able to have a fire all weekend. It was Thursday and now they would have wood for a second night which she would save until Saturday. She was so grateful because she would get her pension on Monday and only then would she be able to buy more wood. I wished her well, told her I was glad that the wood would go to good use, and said goodbye. I spoke with Bryan and we agreed that my son and I would walk up to the office and pay for wood, as well as kindling, to be delivered to her campsite each day anonymously. The owner of the campground, Sarah, was so moved by what we were doing that she covered the cost of half the wood so that the family wouldn’t have to worry about a campfire for the rest of their stay.

A few weeks later, I learned how to shoot a handgun. Our family belongs to a local shooting range where Bryan and Tobias like to target practice with the bows and firearms. Bryan thought it would be a lovely to have a date night at the range. Firearms aren’t really my thing at all but I support his hobbies just like he supports mine. The handgun we were using was a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm. Bryan was positive that he was going to show me how it was done so he suggested a little friendly competition. I’m pretty sure that he figured it was beginner’s luck at first. By the time the third target sheet was finished he was ready to admit defeat. I’m a pretty good shot. It makes me smile to think that after two decades of marriage I can still get him to look at me with a twinkle of surprise. My arm was pretty sore from the recoil but it was much more fun than I expected.

sunset-cyprus

sunset at Cyprus Lake

Then it was off to Bruce Peninsula National Park, the Grotto and Cyprus Lake. We opted not to go canoeing again this year. While we adore paddling there are other things we want to do as well. Looking back, it was likely a good thing we weren’t in the wilderness this summer. I didn’t feel well on this trip but I thought maybe some of that was because my arm was sore from the adventure at the range and too many late nights. Later I found out it was because of scar tissue in the arteries of my heart which lead to the mild heart attack two days after coming home. Had I come home when this first reared its ugly head, I could have possibly have avoided some of the issues. It is what it is and there is no sense dwelling on how things may have been different. I wouldn’t trade hiking to Indian Head Cove with my son for the world but I should have listened more carefully to my body. Lesson learned.

September came, school started and I had the all-clear to start running again. Bryan headed off to Germany at the beginning of October and I ended up in the hospital again. This time there was an issue in another part of my heart and I had to fight to get the care I needed. A third hospital visit was necessary at the end of October. Thankfully that one turned out to be a mere reaction to a new medication that was prescribed by the hospital a few weeks before.  At the beginning of December I was given the all-clear to start running and going to the gym again.

This year, for me, was not just about physical survival, it was about surviving emotionally too. The loss of my Mom in 2013 returned with another tremendous tidal wave of grief and the heart issues also hit me really hard mentally. This wave of sadness wasn’t just because of missing her and the realisation that I came a little too close to having my own children grieve for me—this summer our friend Chuck passed away. I couldn’t attend his memorial because of my own health so I will be running in his memory for the 10K Run at the Ride for Heart as my way of honouring him. Chuck’s passing is one of the reasons I chose to accept the role of Run Ambassador for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. I am still here and that is a great gift not to be taken for granted.

The rest of the year was the same as any other. Many weeks I was a single parent and that wasn’t without challenges. Fortunately I was able to work from home so that helped tremendously as did my in-laws when I had to be rushed to the hospital. Bryan’s promotion to manager for Canada meant that he was busier but he loved the challenge, so it was all good. He was away a great deal including a second trip to Germany which occurred shortly after the attack in Paris.

It’s a good feeling to be on the threshold of a new year. There is a saying about it being akin to a book with 365 blank pages waiting to be filled with all sorts of wondrous adventures. I love the anticipation and excitement about what is ahead for me.

This year was about i mua (pronouced ee mooh-ah). It is a Hawaiian saying that means to go forward with strength, courage, and strong spirit. That theme will carry on throughout 2016. On Friday I will welcome in the New Year and give you all a glimpse of what is to come.

 

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dialing it back

I’m a horribly delinquent blogger but I figured it was time to post an update about where I am at these days with running.

First let’s take a look back. Two years ago, this very Sunday, I was running my first half marathon. I felt better than I had in my life and was so proud of doing something I once thought was impossible. 2013 was a great year for me from a fitness and running perspective until Fall when, unbeknownst to me, my heart health was affecting my performance. Then my left foot connected with the 5lb dumbbell and I broke two of my toes. The events that followed made 2014, as you’ve likely read, a total write-off for as far as running events were concerned. Last year was one of the toughest years for me both physically and mentally. I had delayed grieving for my Mom who passed away in 2013 and that, coupled with the heart issues, had rocked me to my core. My immunity also took a hit with bronchial problems that verged on pneumonia for most of the summer. I’m sure stress had quite a bit to do with that.

I pushed forward, like I always do. I changed my plans but not my goals and decided to strive for a half marathon in June 2015. I had the all-clear from the cardiologist so it was all good. Finally. I forged ahead. The plan was to run at the Toronto Yonge Street 10K (TYS10K) in April as part of my training for the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon in early June. Even though I knew better, I put off running and spent more time at the gym on the bike and lifting. I eventually started running again but my base wasn’t all that strong and I was only running one or two times a week. I had figured that all those hill sessions on the bike would have helped more than they did. The fact is, to be a strong runner one needs to run and I knew that but I kept putting it off. Finally, in March, I started to pour on the steam and got up to 8.5K a few weeks before TYS10K. It was tough and I was struggling on the longer runs but it still felt doable. Then… whammo!! I got the flu. I could barely walk let alone run a 10K race. It knocked me on my ass. So I bailed on race day.

Being public about returning to running made me feel as if I were letting everyone down when those plans went awry. I thought that maybe I should quit sharing my journey and almost retreated to my old ways of beating myself up over it. Notice that I said “almost”. I posted on my personal Facebook timeline about having to put aside running TYS10K. It was an easy way to let everyone know and what I didn’t expect was the support that followed. My friends are a supportive lot and certainly made me feel better about the decision. The messages from runners and non-runners alike, were amazing. One of those messages was from my friend Sarah. We’ve known each other since we were little kids. She is a breast cancer survivor who handled her journey with such grace and she gently reminded me that running isn’t about the races but it is about the transformation I’ve been working on. She spoke about how this has already saved my life and reminded me that the vulnerable moments can be an inspiration to others too. Knowing that I have such a wonderful circle of support has come into play with what you are going to read next.

For weeks my cough was nasty especially upon exertion and last week I decided to go see the doctor. The diagnosis… bronchitis. Seriously?! Again?! Frustration doesn’t even sum it up! That said, I had suspected as much and during this illness have taken some time to evaluate where I am at and what I need to do to get where I want to be. I took a break from twitter and poured myself into other projects. The break helped me to gain some perspective. I sat down with Bryan and chatted about what to do. What came from that is that I really need to take a big step back and begin again.

I’m fairly certain that I will be bowing out of the half marathon on June 7th, but I will still go out to cheer my friends on. My heart says to just throw caution to the wind and run but the fact remains that I’m not physically ready to run 21.1K with runs under 10K still being a struggle. I haven’t had a strong running base since 2013 and I should have built that up more over the winter. Had I done that, then illness right now wouldn’t have been as big of a setback, but I didn’t and it is what it is. There are only 34 days until the event it is time to be honest with myself. I have a lingering cough that worsens dramatically upon exertion. I have to be realistic and put off running a half marathon for now.

The bottom line is that sometimes reality sucks! I’ve lost endurance and it happened much more quickly than I expected but it stands to reason considering what a rough time I’ve had health-wise since I kicked that stupid dumbbell and broke my toes. My weight is up a bit too which adds to the difficulty when running. My sleep patterns have been erratic and I’ve been horrible about hydration. I’ve also been a little too lax when it comes to keeping an eye on my blood sugar and there have been significant gaps in that regard. Looking at the bigger picture, these are mere hiccups and nothing I can’t get past but I do need to get back on track. This means listening to my body and being proactive rather than reactive.

So here is the plan…

I have taken Jeff Galloway’s 10K Schedule and stretched it out over 16 weeks. The idea is to start this week, if the cough subsides enough. I like Jeff’s plan, and I looked at a lot of different ones, because the weekday runs are based on time rather than distance and there is a longer run on the weekends. This takes into account our plans to camp, hike, and cycle and allows for a great deal of cross training because running isn’t the only thing I like to do. It also helps me balance motherhood, career, and fitness. Galloway uses 3 runs per week so that’s perfect although there might be the odd week where I run 4 times. I’m going to plan for a 10K event in September—I’m leaning towards the Toronto Zoo Run with Bryan and the kids. I’ll will only consider a half marathon once I know my 5 and 10K base is solid and strong. Perhaps that will be a late October event such as the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon or perhaps I’ll wait until Spring 2016 or maybe I’ll just stick to smaller distances. Time will tell.

At this point I think dialing it back is the best course of action. I’m hoping it will reduce some of the pressure I’ve been feeling and help me feel the joyful side of running again.

Happy running!

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I’ve been under the weather with a nasty cold-flu-like bug for a week so this is a bit late in coming.  Here is what has been going on with my heart…

My Healthy Heart

Friday April 11th finally arrived. A mere two weeks after my heart procedure I sat in the office of the cardiology lab anxiously awaiting a consult with my cardiologist. While I had tests and had been in the hospital, Dr. J. and I actually hadn’t seen each other since August. There was a lump in my throat and I was feeling very stressed about the whole thing, yet I desperately wanted answers. I reminded myself that I could handle any news, good or bad, and took a deep breath.

The nurse came out and escorted me to the back so that she could check my vitals, weight, abdominal measurement, and run an EKG. Shortly after, I went to the consult room and Dr. J. joined me. He asked me how I felt about my family genetics catching up with me. I half-joked and said, “I wish I could punch my family genetics in the nose!”

A tear rolled down my cheek and I braced myself for the worst.  Dr. J. looked at me and said. “Your heart is strong and healthy. The two overlapping stents you’ve got are not going to be an issue. Given the condition of your heart from the running and cycling you could have ten stents and it would still be better than a single stent in a damaged heart. The valve issues are mild at this point and nothing should deter you from being active. In fact, I’d would like to have you back to running by the end of the month but first I’d like to do a myocardial perfusion so we know where you are at with blood flow. Oh and you can take that nitroglycerin patch off. You don’t need it.” He also decided against sending me for Cardiac Rehab because I had already walked more than 42K since being released from the hospital.

The word “shock” just doesn’t encompass the surprise I felt when I heard him say that I would be running again in mere weeks. I looked at him, somewhat puzzled, and said “I should probably rethink running the marathon in the Fall. Right?” His reply was, “if you want to run a marathon there is no reason that you can’t fulfill that dream. Which race?” So I told him about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and about my recent social media role with Canada Running Series for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K.

Speaking of which…

The Un-Race Report

a little warm-up run

a little warm-up run

Fast forward to Sunday April 13th. I don’t think I have ever been as excited about a race I wasn’t able to run. I made so many great running connections during my time as Digital Champion and I had decided that no matter what Friday’s outcome was with my heart, I was going to be there Sunday to cheer everyone on. My fellow Digital Champions had been an amazing support during all the health issues and I wanted to show them that I appreciated that.

We awoke uber-early on Sunday morning. Our friend Carla met us at the house, with coffee in hand, we strapped Kaia into her car seat and off we went. The horrible forecast had changed for the better and it looked like it would be a dry but windy race. The drive was pretty uneventful and parking was plentiful near the start line because we were a bit early.

A few days before I had exchanged messages with Krista Duchene and we were able to meet briefly before the race. I also met Robbie Watson. They were doing an East-West challenge so I wished them both a great race. It was great to meet both of them.  One day I will have to share a funny story about my first encounter with Krista about a year and a half ago. Meanwhile, Kaia and Bryan were running around near the start. This was going to be her last race in the stroller and she was raring to go. I’ve never seen a little girl so charged up about running as Kaia is and it isn’t every day I can let my child play in the middle of Yonge Street.

The Justice League

The Justice League

I waited at the start line and took photos of runners leaving the gate. I was using my Android and there was a glare on the screen so some of the shots were rather accidental. I did get a shot of The Justice League taking off which was great. I screamed loud encouragements to other friends as they started. I won’t sugar coat it, this was very hard for me. When I heard the gun go off and the announcer building up the excitement, I had to hold back a few tears. It was emotional for me on many levels but knowing that running is still possible for me, kept it from being anything more than damp lashes.

Then, after the last competitor was out of the gate, my friend Sheryl and I headed to the finish line. That didn’t exactly go as planned and her husband Ric had already finished by the time we got there. Oops. In hindsight we should have headed to the finish much earlier. We found a good spot and waited for Bryan, Carla, and Kaia. Sheryl and Ric drove Bryan back to our Jeep while Carla, Kaia, and I hung out at the awards ceremony. I met up with Andrew Chak, Jodi Lewchuck, and Mahnaz. Hugs all around. Then later I met Batman aka JP Hernandez and Spiderman aka Mark Sawh. Oh… and I met Alan Brookes as well. Can’t forget Alan! Everyone had hugs and it felt really great being there. I forgot how much I missed that beloved sense of community among runners.

It was a great day for a race. Rest assured that I WILL be crossing the Toronto Yonge Street 10K finish line next year. Maybe even as a Digital Champion! What do you think Mr. Brookes?

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