In summer 2020, I read “No One Ever Asked” by Katie Ganshert.
I highlighted this quote in the book: “I guess the question you need to ask yourself is, What do you really love? Running or winning? If it’s running, then you’re not really going to lose …”
Since March 2018, I’ve really faced missing out – on training, on running, and on races and events. I had to cancel all of my events in February 2020 due to my hip condition – even before that became a reality for everyone else with the pandemic. Everyone has been faced with missing races and fitness events as we once knew them since the pandemic a year ago. Sure, there are virtual races everywhere but any athlete will tell you that it isn’t the same feeling.
But when you’re also faced with being on the sidelines completely, the first thing you miss is not the races – it’s the running. It’s the training. While I am a positive person, I cannot deny how often I feel down when I can’t just get out for a run, ruck, or ruck. Or when I can’t just crush a kettlebell workout. As well, not being able to be a part of doing any training with my team has been very isolating.
Every athlete has had to face this pandemic reevaluating and replanning training and races. But my hip surgery has left me with even less, and some days that crushes you. Everyone is feeling the effects of the losses but some have lost even more. I am worse off than some, but I am better of than many too.
As a teacher, I truly love being in the classrooms. Teaching Core French isn’t just what I do but a part of who I am. I miss every moment I’m missing teaching. But I do have to take care of myself first – and that’s hard to do. I am better at taking care of others!
I can focus on all that I’ve lost this past year and that I’m losing right now in teaching, running and training. But if I focus on what I really love – while I can’t do it now, there’s a lot of hope that I’ll be able to in the future. I may be sidelined but what I truly love – running, rucking, walking, kettlebells – will always be there. I still don’t know what I’ll all be able to return to but I do know that I will be returning to my active lifestyle. It may mean long walks but no running. It may mean no swinging kettlebells but I will be able do other kettlebell work. Right now, I’ve been told nothing I was doing before this fitness wise is off the table yet.
So, if focus on my love of teaching, running, and other training and embody the reasons of why I love those into what I’m doing now in my recovery and whatever I’m able (or even not able) to do in the future, I am not “really going to lose anything.”
Last year, the world was feeling pretty dark and dreadful. I was just recently diagnosed with femoral retroversion – finding out my first surgery was only a fix of a secondary issue and not the main issue fixed. The pandemic was spreading and lockdowns began happening – resulting in making my surgery even that much more delayed. Spring’s usual joy was muted by so many setbacks.
This year, spring is the opposite. I feel so much hope. The pandemic is still surrounding us but vaccines are underway. There’s some light even with some uncertainty. My hip surgery happened and while I am still limping, have some healing issues to work on, and I have a lot of work ahead of me in my recovery, I’m on the other side of the journey. The waiting to be “fixed” side, the limbo side, is so much worse.
None of the last year’s struggles with the pandemic should be minimized – lives lost, jobs lost, homes lost, families broken – nor should the setback I went through either. But spring has a way of letting you feel free to let out the breath you held all winter and the really breathe deep. A real cleansing breathe. Something I think we all need right now. So, wherever you are – if you can, go outside and let out the breath you’re holding and take in a new one.
Hello spring. Welcome. You are very much what we need right now. Please be gentle with us.
I haven’t been running all my life. Heck, I haven’t been running even 1/2 of my life. I didn’t begin running until April 2014 – I was 29 years old. Yet, I rarely still feel comfortable calling myself a runner.
I had a challenging week with a stomach flu this week. Ever since my injury and surgery, I take even the smallest of setbacks and obstacles really to heart. I feel like I’m finally getting into a routine, sticking to my training plan – and bam, life has a different plan beyond my control.
Today I had planned to go for a long run. Yet, we had tons of snow fall and I knew a long run on many snow packed paths would definitely cause a hip flare up. If you haven’t ran on 7-8 inches of fresh snow along with many blown snow drifts, you wouldn’t get it. But it’s like constantly running in mounds of sand. It causes bad running stride – and there’s 0 chance I could do it painlessly.
So I decided I would go for a long ruck with Ginny instead. It’s getting cold so we layered up – I put on my 10lb ruck and I put on Ginny’s 2lb ruck. As we entered the nearby park with paths, only about 1km in, we encounter a dog off leash. It is city rules to have dogs leashes in city parks. Sadly Ginny was attached 5 years ago seriously enough for surgery and to leave her with anxiety. The dog prowled and jumped her – I had my dog spray and screamed loud enough to deter it. The owner, without apology, finally managed to leash his dog. Ginny and continue. Not even a full minute later, we come upon 2 off leash dogs from 1 different owners who have begun to chase other. I yell to them I have a dog who doesn’t like to be approached and they try to call their dogs. It took 3-4 minutes.
By now, Ginny is extremely stressed and anxious and I know her ruck is done. I return home defeated that we didn’t even get in 3k (did 2.67km). This was nowhere near my planned 105 minute aerobic activity.
I sat on the chair for a bit contemplating my afternoon. I have tons of school work unfinished. I feel completely off from the inpromptu flu – in training, in report cards, in lesson planning, in home chores, and just off mentally and physically too.
I don’t feel like the athlete I was before all of this. I have gained weight since the injury and surgery. I have battled numerous setbacks. I can’t seem to lose weight. I can’t perform to the extent that I used to. So I often just feel as if I’m working towards something I can’t even achieve.
I pushed these ever recurring thoughts aside and I decided I would walk on the treadmill. Not tracking it. Just walk as long as I felt like it. I also knew I’d play a movie I’ve wanted to for while off amazon prime – “Brittany Runs a Marathon”.
And just… bam. Watching Brittany’s fictional life had me reliving my own. I began running because I was told I was pre-diabetic. I started running to change my life. To change where my life was going. And while my abilities have changed a bit, and some things are more challenging than before, the reasons I run have not changed. I am a runner. I am still a runner.
We often define a runner as an extreme fit skinny long legged fast beast. I’m not extremely fit. I’m not skinny. I’m definitely not long legged (which makes running even more challenging). But I am a runner.
In the movie, someone says to Brittany “You changing your life was never about your weight, it was about taking responsibility for yourself.” This is the truth and love that I find about running. It’s a typical human habit to fall victim to not falling into the typical stereotypes of what we should be. But what is the most important about being a runner isn’t what others perceive of you, nor the medal around your neck – it’s about your own self confidence of who you are, of what you are doing, why you are doing it and where you are going with it. I am a runner. I run because I love it. I run because I want to become better. I run because I know I can. I run because it gives me quality time with Ginny – running with Ginny is an experience I can’t describe. You have to just experience your own run with a 4 legged partner. I run because I’ve taken responsibility for myself and how I live my life. I’m working also at taking responsibility at how I love myself.
I may not get back to where I was. My journey may have changed. But I am still a runner.
I. Am. A. Runner.
Oh, and you just have to watch “Brittany Runs a Marathon”. It’s priceless.
I finally had surgery on my teeth last week. 8 days ago. Two of my teeth had root canals that failed and I learned there is an even more in depth procedure to help that – an apicoectomy. And I learned there is a specialist for it called an endodontist, also known as root canal specialist. I had no clue before this.
My teeth started having problems in January. I scheduled an appointment with regular dentist and he said that he couldn’t see anything on xray so maybe just some trauma to tooth from bumping it. He expressed that there are rare cases when root canals fail and their xrays don’t pick up on it. However, he was positive that wasn’t my case. A couple weeks later and pain worsening, he referred me to the specialist who I had to wait to get in for 4 months. Finally in May, the appointment showed 2 of my root canaled teeth were severely infected. So she explained her best approach was an apicoectomy – going through gums to take out the top roots and leaving my crowns untouched. The surgery finally came (after a cancellation on their part making me wait almost 2 more weeks for new appointment) and finally last Thursday, it happened.
I was not expecting how bad the surgery would make me feel. I was in so much pain and I didn’t couldn’t run at all and only 1 day I managed a short walk (more so for my canine running partner than for me). I didn’t also expect a diet of mashed potatoes and soft foods (ice cream, Popsicles, smoothies) for so long. Sure, I thought one or two days but not the 5 days it lasted as it hurt so much to even eat soft foods. Opening my gums was painful.
I wasn’t too upset missing Friday. Saturday I was a bit glum….and it killed me to miss long run Sunday. And then Monday and Tuesday too. I had swollen up so bad on my left cheek thst it looked like I had actually been beaten. And the pain… wow. I was on a few meds (antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, pain meds, a special oral rinse) and those also made me feel worse in some ways. I missed 3 days of work and tried to return Tuesday. I barely survived the morning.
By Wednesday, I was beginning to improve but I felt bloated and disgusting. The 4 pounds I had just lost in May came back plus another 4. I wasn’t 100%… my gums were still sore and I tired easily. I planned to try a run/walk (more walk) in the morning) but meds made it hard to get going in morning. After surviving my first full day back and school, the last thing I wanted to do was run. But in the exhaustion and slight pain, I tied up the runners and went for an evening run. I decided to run 4 or 5k. When I hit 2k, I felt ok. I was slow but I was ok. I managed 5k… and it was humid, hot and sticky. Thank goodness for a running partner to look back at you with grateful brown eyes to keep you moving. After her hiatus, I could tell she also was struggling a bit but if I kept going, she didn’t give up either.
It was a hard slow run but just taking the step to get back at it was amazing. I took Thursday off to do a kettlebell workout. My motivation, and also my stressing, has been coming from a 14k Trail run I signed up for that is tomorrow (Saturday). I signed up for back before I even knew I had to have surgery.
Today I woke up and it was a teacher pd day. Prep and staff meetings and all that jazz. I decided to test myself for tomorrow. If I could manage 8k, even if slowly, I should be able managed the 14k tomorrow.
Well, it ended up being an amazing run and not a bad paced run at all.
It felt great.
My other setback was my eating habits. I was doing so good with making sure my most carbs were eaten after workout with less throughout day. More veggies and protein. But a soft diet does not help. The carbs and sugars I was eating through ice cream, Popsicles, smoothies and mashed potatoes definitely made my newly reformed body feel worse.
To be honest, I was being hard on myself. I would try to not eat just because of it wasn’t my typical diet but by day 3, I realized not eating made the nausea from meds worse. So I gave in for a couple days and just let it happen. As of yesterday, day 7 post surgery, I started eating my normal again. And it feels great.
This chicken recipe from looneyspoons cookbook is one of my favs. Chicken teriwacky they called it. It’s chicken teriyaki haha. So good.
And the breakthrough. .. I can survive a setback. I can survive a few days of no exercise. I can survive a few days of crap food. I need to take care of me and then when ready… I just gotta lace up those shoes and take one more step forward yet again.
I stepped on the scale today. I felt better after just 2 days of returning to my eating habits and 3 days of exercise. I wanted to see what the scale said. Even in just a short 2 days, the extra weight from the food or no exercise or just bloating has actually already disappeared.
My other breakthrough the past couple days has been the realization that my new eating the way I have changed me physically and helped to lose weight. It also helps me run better. I feel like I’m using my body and not the carbs I use to eat so much of. And I’m still eating carbs for those of you thinking “oh carb free diet, not good for you”. No… I eat them. I just plan for the main serving of them to be after a workout and then tiny or smaller servings at other meals. It is great. I’m actually getting full after better portions and not hungry all the time like when I ate carbs for everything.
But… I still know when it’s time to have a glass of wine… and after 6 months of teeth pain and no alcohol from constantly being on antibiotics and pain meds… today I am pain med free and having that freaking glass of carb loaded wine. I may even indulge in a second.
I haven’t written in a week or so as it has been non stop running and life.
I ran my 3rd half marathon on Sunday, May 1st. It was a great run. Not my best. Not my worst. It was hotter than usual for this run and being first aid certified, I stopped to help a few runners who ended up struggling for various reasons.
I do find running events challenging as the best time for me to run is early. I am usually out running between 5:30-6am which is very different than 8am or 9am which is the time of most events.
This was my first time running the local police half marathon event which was extremely well organized and had a snack bag unlike any other. I’ll run it again if I can next year.
Some photos of the event:
After that event, I needed a couple rest days but by Wednesday I felt like one. Turned into catastrophe.
My running partner – black lab named Ginny, is struggling with some anxiety with anything one wheels. She had a bad episode that left me with an unintentional nice bruise across my whole right forearm. I’ve been so focused on my own running goals that I have neglected the importance of consistency with her training too. She’s only 2 and being a lab, she has such a puppy brain still. Back to the basics for her. I brought out the training collar and training tools from the classes we took when she was a pup. Even after just a week of spending the time to work on her focus has made a huge difference. It’s more about training me too and not just her. When I focus in the run, I tend to forget I need to make sure she’s focused on me and understands the run is about me and her. Once she can learn that, we will connect together so much better and we can just run.
They say dogs don’t remember things for long but I don’t believe it. After the accident, she felt terrible.
No idea why I didn’t notice the calendar but somehow I signed up for a half on May 1 and a 10k event on May 7. Oops.
I was worried I was doing too much in one week but I hate backing out of races so I went. This one was hosted by a local group with a partnership with RCMP. It was at the RCMP site, normally restricted for non personnel. Many races suggest not to bring headphones for your safety but everyone ignores this as it’s never enforced. However this race made it sound mandatory so I didn’t take my headphones.
I think that was a great thing to try. I ran more focused than ever. I wasn’t trying to keep up to the music or slow down. Not going up and down in pace because of music made running easier. Don’t get me wrong. I missed my pumping tunes but without them, I’m a much more focused faster runner. However…side note – they didn’t make a fuss about people who ignored rule.
I ran a great 10k. I was very happy with my time and even did better in this run than at the half.
Relax and Recharge…
Towards the end of my first masters of education class, I decided to do something I’ve never done. I booked a room at a local spa and I also booked a 90 minute massage. That was in March. I decided to reward myself for the first class and the half. I even splurged for a jacuzzi room that had the special mineral water in the tub. The countdown was torture but the day came.
I turned off my phone and relaxed and read a book I’ve been trying to finish since summer. I had a whole 22 hours of me time. It was the best 22 hours I could have given myself before jumping back into a chaotic life. I highly recommend finding time like this for yourself when you can. I don’t really have extra money to spend but this was worth it. I might try for it once or twice a year.
While recharging, I took a look of my life the past couple years and where I’m going. I realized since I initially transformed my physical self that I hadn’t made any changes to my diet. Since losing 60 pounds running and by eating healthy, I didn’t change or reduce what I ate ad I lost the weight. I recently plateaued and I believe this is the problem. What I ate at the beginning to lose the first initial 60 pounds is probably way too much now. So hence “restarting”. I’m trying to reduce carbs and balance out nutrients better. I want less sugar and carbs and more veggies and protein. I have a meal plan. I also plan to still treat myself once a week. But eating better will also help with my running too.
I also need to start strength training regularly. I try to and neglect this the most. My goal is 3 times a week. I love the sworkit app for this. Easy to do on my own time in my crazy schedule.
As I restart, I find myself beginning my 2nd Masters of education class. Started tonight actually. Going to be an intense course. A whole course that is usually spread out over 4 months in just under a month. I’m excited but going to be a lot of work. It’s a new style of a class that has been a mandatory introduction course for ed grad students.
But it’s way past my bedtime and I want to run tomorrow morning so I better go rest and recharge.
Wow. 48 hours ago I was feeling down because I was struggling with running and my usual pace.
I woke up yesterday not feeling any different than all week. I, once again, planned a full weekend with little down time. I planned a 5k fun run with my run/walk club – a club I started at school in March. We were meeting at 9:45 so another colleague and I had to get out there at 8am to walk the course and get the signs up. So that meant walking the 5k before even running it. I’m suppose to be tapering for my half marathon on May 1st… oh well. I said I would do it.
Of course, good old Saskatchewan ruined a sunny day with 55km winds gusting up to 70 km. This made setting up signs slightly more challenging and also the walk to set up was much more chilly. We got it done and made it back to meeting point in time to drive to a gas station for bathroom break before the actual event.
While I was walking the course, I was going back and forth about just walking it again, forcing myself to be last, and collecting signs as we went. Or to run it and give it my best. Partially because I didn’t want overdo it but also because I didn’t want my students to see me at my worst. I also had brought my canine running partner with me and she hadn’t been feeling 100% after a bladder infection and strong meds for it. I was unsure if she’d want to run after walking the course with us already.
But when when the 4 kids showed up along with 3 moms who also decided to participate, I decided to run too.
1 km. .. 7:30 a km pace… whhaaattt?
And I continued to run decent splits all the way through even though I had to stop once to fix a sign and take one extra 100m walk break to give my dog a rest.
I felt great and running just made sense again. My body was agreeing with me and I was alive! My time showed it…I was back where I had worked so hard to get to.
I don’t know why. Maybe a group run is what I needed. Maybe I just had a bad week of running. Maybe I was overdoing it. But for whatever reason, I was back at it.
Today was my final long run before my half marathon next week. I had planned 12k but after yesterday, I knew that would be overkill. So Ginny and I ran an easy 8k.
And I still felt great. It was windy, rainy and cold but we pushed through it. Ginny even had her first swim of this spring/summer. She begged…I sure wasn’t going in but who am I to judge a water loving black lab who hasn’t swam since September? She never complained about the cold, or choppy water She kept diving in several times to catch a stick that I threw for her.
And just like my lab keeps diving into cold water with the sticks not going where I wanted them to go because of the crazy wind…I am reminded of how running also requires you to keep lacing those shoes and getting out there even if the elements and results aren’t what you expected or wanted. It’s the moment of embracing it all and what you make of it that really counts.