Not hardcore, but determined with goals

Where I live is getting hit with one heck of a cold spell. We are into day 7 of an extreme cold warning.

It’s really hard to be motivated when the air you breath hurts you and even hurts to just be outside. But I’ve let excuses get me to a spot I never want to return to again.

I decided to skip my long run on Sunday and do it Monday instead as my body was hurting from just returning to training and doing 2 weekend outdoor workouts back to back instead of just one.

I sort of regret it as Christmas Day is when the cold spell hit even worse then on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day was low key so after an early turkey dinner lunch to accommodate my sister in law’s 2pm shift for her nursing job, my boyfriend and I went home. I bundled myself and Ginny up and off we went.

My goal for my long run this week was 10k. At -40, I knew it may not be that long but thought I’d manage 8k. By 4K, I could tell that no matter how bundle we were, both Ginny and I were not going to make it past 6k. Even that 6th kilometre was painful for us.

So Tuesday, we bundled up again in another frigid day and did a short 4K to make my 10k goal.

I normally don’t run Tuesday’s but thought it would be a way to get in some kilometres since I couldn’t go past 5 or 6k in a run at -40 right now. Sure, I could use a treadmill, but I hate that treadmill even more than this cold weather.

Wednesday we managed a short walk with me wearing my 20lb weighted vest.

I was crosssing fingers and toes that by weekend hit and my training group was facing our outdoor workout, the weather would improve even if a little. Nope. We can sign up for either a Friday or Saturday workout but are allowed to do both if we feel up to it. I signed up for both and decided to see how it went. Friday’s evening one had us facing the coldest temperature we’ve seen yet at -45. It was not easy at all. I layered right.

But working out in multiple layers is not easy. It restricts you a lot! I normally wear runners with cleats on them for these workouts but at -40, I needed the warm boots. Running in heavy boots also adds to the workout. I actually had a (minor luckily) asthma attack midway through. I began to panic worrying I was going to have to stop or I was going to slow everyone down but then I just slowed myself down, stopped for a moment. I slowed my breathing down, dug out my inhaler, first puff, second puff. I could feel it help almost immediately. I waited a few moments and kept working at slowing down my breathing and regaining control. I did. With that, I had another decision to make. Stop or keep going. I wasn’t feeling that severe exhaustion or chest pain of a severe attack so I made the decision to push but go slowly. And I did! I had to be careful to not let breathing to get out of control so I worked at keeping my body working at the right level that I was pushing as hard as I can but without crossing the line of another attack.

I finished the workout.

So this morning came and I could slightly feel the affects of my asthma due to the cold air. The core temperature was extreme at -36 before even the windchill which made it feel like -40. But I had a tea, took emergency inhaler in morning and my daily one before I left. I had time to relax this morning with reading a book for my thesis. And by 9, I felt great.

I went to the workout. It was tough but more so because of the layers. I need them but they sure make it hard! But I was warm and I was healthy and I was strong. And I finished today’s workout too…without asthma attacks.

Asthma used to be an excuse of why I couldn’t do these things I do now. Now I push through and work with my doctor to make it work with me and not me work around it. I’ve learned when an attack means slow down or when it means stop. Working out has actually made the attacks less. That was the first one I’ve had since a a minor one due to humidity in the summer. I used to have them weekly, sometimes daily. Last night, it was the cold air that triggered it. I couldn’t have done anything to stop it. But I read the signals early instead of waiting until too late and treated it right away and followed my body signals to slow down.

I was told I was hardcore today. I’m anything but hardcore. I am mentally battling myself about being out there. I’m whining in my head when the hill sucks to run up with boots. But I have goals in my life now. One is not going back to the person who used to say “Oh sorry asthma attack. Have to stop now.” Or “nope sorry, can’t do that because my asthma may act up”. I am not hardcore, I am determined with goals.

Bring on 2018.

Sometimes the easiest races are the hardest

Fall flew by and I failed at writing anything. Even though I was on a sick leave due to complications from a dental surgery all of October!

After my first Spartan Beast race in Sun Peaks, BC at the end of September that earned me my first Trifecta (I wish I would have written about it right after as what an experience!), my life became a blur of dental appointments, pain and pain meds. It was one of the worst pain I’ve had in my life. I was on a liquid smooth diet and so much pain for 3 weeks. I couldn’t talk or eat well.

But fortunately that’s in the past! However, that one long painful experience has seemed to bring some bad luck to me. I’ve managed to get second degree burns from spilling tea and dislocating a pinky from slipping on ice just days before my second Spartan Beast race in Florida! Luckily I was able to still do the race.

Sun Peaks was a highlight of my 2017. It was 3 mountains and almost 10 hours of racing. I felt fantastic through all of it! It was over 2000 ft of maximum elevation and was 26 kilometres long. After finally crossing that finish line, teammates who had done several Beasts said this was the hardest one they’ve ever encountered.

So heading into Florida, it should have been a piece of cake after Sun Peaks. However, I went into it knowing I shouldn’t be racing with second degree burns. I went into it mentally exhausted by all the little accidents I had been having. The weather ended up being wet and rainy – making my apprehension of obstacles due to my little bad luck streak intensify. This race was flat flat flat. It was only 59 feet of maximum elevation. It should have been a laugh to complete especially as someone who has fallen in love with running.

But each time I reached an obstacle, the little voice in me said “What if?” What if I slipped? What if I got my arm wet? What if I bumped my arm too much? What if landed wrong? What if, what if, what if. My self doubts overpowered this race.

If it weren’t for my teammates pulling me through and talking me down every time I had anxiety, I don’t know how I’d have made it through this race. Thank goodness for the bucket carries, sandbag carries, log carries and farmer log carries that I crushed and helped build my confidence!

It is amazing what the mind can do to someone. I have never been the most confident in myself and have always battled self doubt. My family and friends believe in me more than I do. I think my lack of trust in myself and my lack of fighting to do things for me is why I almost ended up diabetic and obese. And unhappy. I had to push through a lot of hard work and mental battles to lose 97.5 lbs. But I did it. So yes, I may have had a bad streak of injuries. Yes, I may be short. Yes, I may not be the strongest yet. But I’ll be so much more if I can learn to let go of doubting myself and begin to believe in myself. I have a lot of goals for 2018. Behind each goal means letting myself know I can do it.

So Florida was not the race I expected it to be. I did cross that finish line in only 4 hours and I improved in many ways as an athlete if I compare stats to Sun Peaks but I lost more of myself on that Florida race.

In Sun Peaks, I never said I can’t do that. Sure, I got help on some obstacles but I did so with confidence and doing as much as I could on that obstacle. In Florida, I immediately froze at almost every obstacle and began questioning what I was doing. Now post race, I know exactly why I am doing these Spartan races. It’s to prove to myself that I can. It’s to work towards being able to do the obstacles I can’t do yet. It’s to learn that I can do anything I set my mind to. It’s to find that confident woman who was grinning ear to ear all the way through a third Sun Peaks mountain climb that was a straight incline that we had to crawl and saying “I’m living life hard and loving it”.

I don’t want be the girl crossing the Spartan finish line with regrets that I didn’t trust in myself more, failing obstacles I know I could have had and that I relied on others to finish a race for me. I don’t want to look at the finish line with relief that I’m finally crossing it. I want to be the girl who crosses a Spartan finish line after a super hard race with a huge smile of pride in myself knowing I did everything I could for myself on that course – knowing I’d do that race again in a heartbeat even though it just took almost 10 hours to complete. But that I had done it on my own strengths and belief in myself.

I hope that I can revisit this post this time next year and tell you how much I could do in 2018…just because I believed in myself.