Training and Extreme Cold Warning Day 10.

In our prairie province of Saskatchewan, in my city of Regina, we’ve been in a deep freeze for 10 days. -40 degree Celsius weather has been our daily average. Thursday we hit -49 Celsius.

With a long period of extreme cold, the challenge of my outdoor running, rucks, walks, and even today’s outdoor workout with my team become a mental battle of should I go or should I not. I really don’t like training in cold weather- even before in injury I didn’t. But I did it often before my injury and surgery. I could layer up, force out the mileage, and after a workout while thawing out – I didn’t hurt.

But now, intense cold weather makes my body stiffen, harden and flexibility and mobility are significantly reduced – so much I can’t really feel what my body is even doing, and when I do warm up, I’m hurting a lot. So for myself, it isn’t worth the pain it causes to force my body to train outside in -40 temps. Not being able to feel or have better control of my body risks injuries. And I don’t want to be on the sidelines again. I also now realize the risk in forcing myself out in the cold with my asthma and no inhaler available due to it freezing. I’d rather have a high quality workout indoors than a miserable workout outdoors where my body isn’t cooperating with me but I’m pushing it to anyway. I always felt there was shame and cowardice if I didn’t do my planned outdoor workout. Yet, more often than not, pushing through extreme weather has resulted in missing multiple workouts due to pushing my asthma and my body in elements that hurt me.

So… I’m learning to put myself first and that everyone is different. Some have no problems pushing through this weather. Others, like me, it ends up being a painful experience – such as asthma flare up or mobility issues due to an injury. So I’m learning it’s okay to choose the treadmill over an outdoor run. That the stationary bike is a great option when I can’t get my daily walks in. Or grabbing a kettlebell and doing some mobility.

It isn’t that I’m giving up by adapting my outdoor workouts to indoors. I am just doing what’s best for me today so that tomorrow’s workout and all the ones after also get the best of me.

And yes, I first did start the day with a protein tea latte, my weighted blanket, and a book. But I still plan to crush an inclined treadmill run after lunch.

I am a runner

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.

2020 – ready or not, here we go!

A blur of half of year went by and I haven’t written a single blog.

The remainder of my 2019 was spent transferring schools – I work for a school board with a transfer policy every 8-10 years – I was ready to move on to a new school but it has been a hectic start of the 2019-2020 school year. 2019 was also spent completing my thesis writing – done. Defending it in November – successfully done – Master of Education complete! Running my first big comeback 20k race since surgery in September – done. Continuing to manage post injury and post surgery flare ups. And just managing life, meal prep and nutrition goals, and training goals.

Where am I at? Well, though it often feels like not very far, I am at lot further than where I was this time last year. I survived a year of rehab, an after surgery setback of a stress fracture in my leg, multiple flare ups, and serious mental battle with myself about where to go from where I was in my training and athletic goals.

I found myself comparing myself to what others were doing and the results they were achieving. I compared myself to my old 2017 self that was crushing races and losing weight quickly. All of the comparing and degrading myself for not being where I thought I would be by end of 2019 left me exhausted and demoralized.

Then I remembered my go to – “She believed she could so she did.” One pronoun. Singular. This is my journey. Stop comparing myself to others and even to myself from previous years. There is no defined pathway for a journey. Sometimes you have to lose control to be reminded that you can’t control what has happened to you but only what you do with it. So here we go – ready or not.

In 2020, following a wise friend’s yearly tradition, I picked a theme for my year. I loved how each year she picked a theme and used that to live her life positively. I hate the idea of resolutions as for me, I am continuing the same healthy eating habits and training program as I did in 2019 with some slight changes. But an actual resolution seems pointless when I already have the tools I need for my goals. So I decided I would try this annual theme thing. I choose embrace happy.

I picked these two words and this phrase as throughout 2018 and 2019, I was constantly searching for happy in comparing myself to my past or to whom I see myself. I was searching for it by comparing myself by what I can’t do that my teammates and other athletic friends make look so easy.

But instead – I should be embracing happy. Each day. Every day. In my now. My morning routine. A cup of tea. A walk or ruck with Ginny. Supper with Brad. Each day has so much happy but I need to embrace it – to fully engage myself in it instead of monotonously going through the motions but only thinking how I can be happy in the future by losing the weight I want to be at or getting back to the running speed I was at. That isn’t going to help me be happy now.

I can also embrace happy in my challenges and any setbacks that may arise. A flare up of the hip – I’ll embrace that as it means I can focus on the tools I’ve been given to overcome it – stretching, foam rolling, mobility exercises. My car breaking down yet again (4 times in 6 weeks end of 2019 and also a car accident – oh, and a mouse in the car too)…is it possible to be happy in that? Yes it is – one, I have a car that I own fully and have the ability to pay to get fixed. And cars will break down – I can’t let that define my day or my year. So embrace happy as at least I do have a car that needs the occasional repair. Overloaded with marking, planning, and extracurricular as a teacher – yes, it’s exhausting and I have complained but I love it. I mean, who gets to be told by a student “You make me feel like I can do anything awesome in French.” Or, “I’ve never ran a real race before” for my school run/walk club. And sharing in a student’s first experience in running a real race? Priceless.

So yes. Challenges suck. Setbacks suck. I’ll likely post and share those too as they are real parts of my life. And who wants to see the perfect side only? But my goal will also be to post how that setback or challenge also brought me happiness – or if not immediately, I’ll share how I think that moment or event can lead to happiness.

So, each day, I’ll decide my own happy by being in the moment and embracing it – whatever those moments may be. I’ll decide the days, weeks, months, and year I’ll have. I will work at not comparing them to the days before or the days ahead.

Love to hear how you’ll embrace happy in 2020 for you. Happy New Year!

Nice & Vienna

After we left Paris, we jumped on a train south to Nice. It was so hot, sticky and humid in Nice but I loved it. It was slightly less crowded than Paris which was a treat. I ran a couple times while we were there along the Mediterranean Sea. It was heaven. One morning we even went (carefully and painfully) down the rocky beach so I could take a dip in the sea. I couldn’t leave without experiencing even one short swim in the sea.

The “beach” in Nice
Swimming in the Mediterranean

We had a great time in Nice. So much great food…we had pizza as this was the closest we would get to Italy during this European adventure. Italy is minutes away from Nice and Nice actually used to be a part of Italy.

Pizza in Nice cooked in wood oven

We took a night excursion to Monaco. It was lovely but I definitely did not feel as if I fit in there. Beautiful yachts and cars and the most glorified casino. 

Monaco

Walking the streets of Monaco

I look like I could fit into the millionaires and billionaires of Monaco?

After we left Nice, we hopped on a flight thst had a 4 hour layover in Brussels on our way to Vienna. So we had a bit of Belgium…in an airport. We used our time wisely. Well, Brad did. I haven’t yet been sold on beer drinking.

Beer at airport in Brussels.

Now Vienna…oh Vienna. It is considered a top 10 city to live in the world according to a survey done. This city is simply amazing. If you ever go to Europe, Vienna has to be on your list. It is so clean and not very crowded. The things the government does for the city seems to be in favour of its citizens. For example, a transit pass is 365 Euro a day. A euro a day for all the transit you want. And this reduces traffic and pollution a lot. You could tell Viennese people take advantage of this. They had many transit options too… underground metro, a tram and a bus routes. Simply flawless.

And the buildings. Brad and I fell in love with the history of this city. 

We visited the Hofburg Palace, the twin museums (one was fine arts and one was natural history. We only went inside the history one), Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna in the woods (which included two monasteries and an underground cave lake that resulted because of mining mishap), Stadtpark (statue park) and so much more things we just went and looked at.

The two monasteries and the grotto we visited in Vienna woods.
Inside of the first larger monastery we visited.
Mozart statue, Belvedere Palace, Parliament and then horse carriages were all over.
Hofburg Palace, building I forget but is beautiful, Queen Maria Theresa statue, Johann Strauss statue
Fountain near our hotel, a Mozart concert hall, and last photo is park near hotel

Brad and I joked about moving to Vienna. I would seriously consider it. What a place. 
And the food…oh the food. 

Food in Vienna

Brad and I have made it a point to eat local foods as much as possible. And it’s delicious. 

Thank goodness Vienna is considered very safe…low crime rate. I ran almost everyday here. And it was weird running by such important buildings. I could run by three different castles, opera house, so many Castle gardens, and numerous monuments. It was great.

Now off to Munich where Brad apparently plans to spend a lot of time in the Hofbräuhaus.

Bonjour Paris!

We have been in Paris for 2 nights and 3 days already. We are about to head off to Nice tomorrow.

Paris was pretty much what I expected. It has been a dream of mine to come here since I was 12. As a French teacher, I think I see this part of our travels in different eyes than my husband’s. Paris really isn’t clean and fresh. It’s overcrowded and the streets are filthy. But it still somehow shines for me. Brad even enjoyed many parts of it.

We enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Seine, a bus tour to Notre Dame Cathedral and Eiffel Tower and so much more, an excursion to Versailles, actually going to Eiffel Tower on our own and going up it, and finally the Louvre. 

Our first night in Paris – a dinner cruise on the Seine River.
Brad and I at the Arc de Triomphe on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.
View of Eiffel Tower from below – July 5 on a river cruise with tour group.

Les Jardins at Versailles

Me in front of the famous Versailles gardens.

Madonna on the rocks
I fell in love with this one. The dogs just connected with me. Probably because I miss my pup a bunch!
Inverted pyramid at the exit of the Louvre.
Cathedral Notre Dame
Eiffel Tower at night. Note the soccer ball hanging from it honour of the Euro soccer 2016.
After crossing “going up the Eiffel Tower” from my bucket list. So happy.
Enjoying a sunny beautiful day on the Eiffel Tower.
My last photo of the Eiffel Tower with me in front of it.
Entrance and the pyramid of the Louvre
The Mona Lisa- was hard to get a good shot of it.
Front of Versailles

And oh my…the food…we have definitely enjoyed so much French food and wine during a 3 day visit in the capital of France. 

Some of our food experiences in Paris.

As for fitness, Monday was my rest day but we did a LOT of walking. I didn’t get to run yesterday. I had hoped to do one after getting back from Versailles but a demonstration in Paris slowed down our return to hotel. Instead of being back at 6, it was just after 7pm. So we went for supper. I ran the streets around my hotel this morning. Not bad. More hills than our flat Saskatchewan land. Streets smell as that isn’t fun while running and breathing heavy. But I did 4k and happy I did.  I wanted to run in that park near my route (which is also a cemetery) but it was closed at 6am. They lock up their parks here at night. 

A bientôt! I’ll see you next time from Nice. 

Au revoir from Paris. 

Setbacks and Breakthroughs

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.

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Before Wednesday's 5k run
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After Wednesday's 5k run

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.

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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.

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One of my favs - chicken teriwacky

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.

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Wish me luck on that 14k Trail run. 😊

Numbers…

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It’s been awhile but it has been a crazy month. Attempting to do a grad class in a month instead of over 4 months. But I did it. Final research project presentations tomorrow and done. Class 2 of 10 towards my masters of education degree.

I’ve kept up with running. Hasn’t been easy with two nights a week at class. But I did it. I’ve been dealing with some issues with my teeth. Root canals failed so they have to do an apicoectomy. It’s been torture getting in for that. I was booked May 30 but specialist cancelled. Finally in this Thursday. Been in pain from the 2 infected teeth since February.

I started something new the last month. I realized what I’ve done to get to where I am now is not going to help me anymore. I’ve lost 60 pounds and have plateaued since November. I haven’t changed my meals. So I did some research and I’m upping my protein and decreasing carbs. Going to change when I eat my high intake of carbs to after my workout instead. I want my running to use my body not the food I eat. I am also sticking to strength training more too. I especially love kettlebell workouts. If you workout at home, look up on youtube Bodyfit by Amy. Great video workouts for at home for busy people.

Some tasty options from my new meal plan?

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Buffalo Chicken butter leaf wraps
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Chicken fajita roll ups
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Zucchini chips

Also chicken lettuce wraps with balsamic vinaigrette, pecans, shredded carrot, feta. So good. Thought I took a photo but I lost it.

I ran a couple great running events but not feeling my best. Battling a cold. Still fun.

This week I realized I had a couple problems. One, my 10 pound kettlebell was getting too light and two, my pants won’t stay up. I really don’t like spending money before we have a big trip planned but I had to. Brad went and bought me a 20 pound kettlebell and I went in search of new pants. I was stuck between 14 and 16 for awhile so I went in hoping to find some size 14 capris pants as they’d be nice for Europe. Well of course I found some great capris but only size 16 or size 12. Sigh… well it won’t hurt…let’s try the 12… and

I fit and bought the 12. The new monthly plan has been working. I’ve dropped inches and I stepped on scale and I’ve finally broke my plateau too. I use to be size 24 in pants. Now I’m down 6 pant sizes.

Perfect thing to find out on my personal day I booked off from work today. So I spent it in the sunshine.

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Sadly the day off is over and back to work grind and my last night of class. Wish me luck for my poster presentation.