‘Twas the night before hip surgery…

It seems like a lifetime ago when my back and hip pain first began March 5. The end of winter, all of spring, and beginning of summer has flown by. Everyone’s lives around me seem to me moving forward and I feel stuck in the middle, unmoving. It’s an extremely lonely and isolated journey even with amazing friends and family. Unless you’ve experienced over 100 days in your bed, it isn’t something you can easily say you understand.

I’ve been to 6 doctor/surgeon appointments, 14 physio appointments, 2 cortisone shots, 1 ER visit, 3 X-rays, 1 MRI with contrast, and now finally tomorrow hip arthroscopy surgery. I was diagnosed on June 13 with a hip labral tear in my left hip. So on the surface – I’m ready for surgery as I have a month of meals planned, post op mobility equipment ready, and bag packed. And my body is ready to begin healing.

But mentally, I’m a mess – scared and anxious. I’m worried how this injury will affect my future and if it will affect some of the new passions I’ve fallen for in sports such as half marathon running and OCR races, specially Spartans. I’ve realized during this time off that I want to refocus my half marathon road racing to trail running by I still want to do it. I have fallen in love with my healthy lifestyle, feeling energetic, and moving freely feeling good. I’m scared of forever feeling pain in even just walking. But a friend shared this quote with me last week from soccer player Abby Wambuch: “You see soccer didn’t make me who I was. I brought who I was to soccer. And I get to bring who I am wherever I go. And guess what? So do you. As you leave here today and every day going forward, don’t just ask yourself, what do I want to do? Ask yourself, who do I want to be? Because the most important thing I’ve learned is that what you do will never define you. Who you are always will.”

Abby listed four rules:

1 Make failure your fuel

2 Lead from the bench

3 Champion each other.

4 Demand the ball.

So who am I? I am someone who has come back from other setbacks. Since 2013 and first starting this journey, I’ve always fought to improve myself. Even now from bed, I love seeing my teammates race this summer and conquer personal goals. I am a better athlete for who I train with. They push me forward and I hope they know I am cheering them on even from the sidelines. I want the ball back. Metaphorically. Whatever that “ball” is for me after all of this. Even my rehab will be a “ball” for me for some time and I’ll strive to be the best “ball” player in my physical therapy. From there, a day at a time and I’ll come back – even if it isn’t exactly to everything I was doing before.

In Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore said: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” So tomorrow I begin to live and I’ll figure out my dreams as each day comes. A new chapter begins tomorrow.

Here’s the link to the whole Abby Wambuch speech if you wish:


You’re so worth it…

On Sunday, a jar full of messages was given to me from my team and I know organized by an amazing teammate and friend. I cried with each message but I still did not see what they see. I lost sight of this girl, and it has always been very hard for me to look beyond my weaknesses.

I grew up feeling inferior, worthless, that my weight was the root of all my problems in life, being bounced diet to diet since 11 years of age, and thinking to make my life easier that I had to make people happy by doing what they wanted instead of my own dreams. I spent 24 years living like this until I set the most difficult boundary and break up of my life and began to slowly learn who I was and what I wanted — and that it was okay to do that.

At 29, after counseling to build the blocks of a stronger, no longer co-dependent me, I was ready to address the physical issue. In August 2013, a pre diabetic scare jumpstarted my first steps to tackle the physical and emotional weight I had been carrying for way too long. For the first quarter of my life, I thought it was my fault when each fad diet didn’t work, or if we had to spend more money on plus clothing. I was, whether intentionally or unintentionally, treated as an embarrassment whenever we went clothes shopping or had a special event to attend. I thought the fighting in my home was my fault. If I could only lose that weight that someone, who is supposed to love you regardless, so wanted me to lose then our family problems would be solved. A mixture of this daily struggle between us was partially for my health, but as I grew older, it was also apparent it was more about the image of the thin pretty daughter she wanted her to have. This manipulation ruled my childhood until the first years of my life. Arguments about weight, clothes, haircuts, sports, friends, hobbies, future career… could only be ended if I conceded to let her control the outcome or the process of how it happened.

I was never a wild child so though I know these are arguments many kids have with their parents, it’s hard to explain unless you lived it. I was counting calories at 12. I was told I couldn’t buy designer Tommy Hilfiger clothing because I lacked control to eat healthy and exercise at 13. I was financially supporting my parents since I started babysitting because “a family helps each other”. And yet the more I aimed to please my parents, the more wrong I seemed to do or it never was good enough. If I attempted to challenge the image of the daughter she had planned for me, I was unthankful, and the reason my parents were arguing so much- because I stressed them out. The best way to describe how this parent-child relationship was unhealthy is that my first thought whenever I had a new idea or a new dream was not of how much it excited me or how much I wanted it, nor a belief that it could happen. But I’d always first question myself if it would make her happy, doubt it would be encouraged, and I learned to stop asking in order to reduce our arguments. It’s a very heavy thing to do to live your life trying to impress someone who will never be happy with letting go and encouraging you to be different and to take risks and go for your dreams. When I did accomplish something that seemed to make her proud, it always felt more of a celebration of what she had done to raise me then the work I put into it.

I have never been this open before and it’s very difficult for me to write about this. For me, it’s not about blame or hurting someone. But it’s my story and I am learning it’s okay to share it, even if some may not agree with it. That is okay. That is their story.

Why do I choose tonight to write this? I have no idea. But a moment tonight had me realize that by keeping quiet, that story could become my life again if I don’t admit that it is still something I carry with me always. Part 1 of my story came with a huge loss in my life but it also was necessary. Why is this relevant now? I realized tonight why these past 2 months have gone beyond accepting the injury and the journey of healing and recovery. This injury has brought back my story that I’ve kept buried. As Thomas King says “The truth about stories is, that’s all we are”. This is my story. I aim to not impress or please anyone but to unbury what I keep inside.

I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want to hurt my family. But if I don’t begin to let ALL my story be told, I’ll never fully become the woman I want to be, and become again the depressed girl I’ve so strongly spent fighting to teach her to go for her dreams without needing approval of others. If I don’t pull the roots and lay it all out there for myself, my hidden story will always entangle itself in the new me and have a chance to take over again. If I want to come back after this injury 110% a better mental athlete I need to admit to why I struggle to trust myself to be able to do certain challenges and to confront why those fears are there. If I don’t, there’s a chance this injury could just become another story I shove deep down when over and as it tangles with my childhood story, I’ll never be able to see myself as the person everyone else sees. Each day I deny to voice the story of where I came from, I am allowing for that girl’s weaknesses of self doubt and self sacrifice to continue to control my NOW.

There is a reason for my journey that began at age 29 and both the good and the bad moments of my childhood part played a role to my moments of today. It is why I struggled (struggle?) with weight, taking on too much, not letting others help me, and easily becoming discouraged. The outside doesn’t always show it, but it is rooted deep inside me with the story only few of you know.

This hip injury had me becoming that girl of 12 again. Wondering if I did something to deserve this. That I guess I really wasn’t meant to run. That I’m going to gain back all this weight that took 4.5 years of damn hard work and no fad diets but passion, dedication and perseverance to do.

Bits and pieces of the messages I received in that jar (hope my team doesn’t mind me sharing but it’s my jar! Haha):

  • Dedicating and giving
  • Determined
  • Remember that girl who gave up? Neither does anyone else…
  • Positive and dedicated…it’s truly inspiring to watch you chase your dreams
  • Shine on little diamond
  • Fierce
  • Caring, dedicated, determined, and has a big heart
  • …most determined and perseverant people I know…you never hesitate to think of others before yourself…
  • Role model
  • Strong, dedicated chick
  • You’ve got this. We are all behind you 100%.
  • Tough lioness
  • I’ll never understand how such a huge heart fits in such a tiny body
  • You are developing strength for tomorrow
  • Your willingness to put others before yourself is what makes you amazing. But this time take the time for you.
  • Every time you find yourself knocked down, always remember to get yourself back up. Every setback is a lesson to help you grow and you have proven time and time again you can overcome everything that is presented before you.
  • And still laughing at this one: like planning trips with Jess as she takes the stress off of all the planning.

I read all of these notes in my jar once, twice, three times with tears streaming down my face. How is it that the hardest thing we do in life is believing in ourselves? What was evident the most was that all of these messages had similarities in their words. It is obvious with such common messages that these messages weren’t just written to make me happy. But to remind me of what I don’t often allow to see in myself and of myself. I didn’t really let that happen when I read and re-read these messages.

… until tonight. Somehow it took two dogs, Ginny (my lab) and Shadow (one of my best friend’s dog in dogsitting), to open my heart and my eyes to remember what I worked so hard starting at age 24 to change in my life. It took four years after that where finally was learning to be true to myself and that it’s okay to separate yourself from a cycle that doesn’t change. After the mental work, I was able to begin my journey of my lifestyle change. This time it wasn’t just about losing weight, counting calories, or finding the quickest way to do it. It wasn’t about doing it to gain the approval of someone I never could. Somehow with many careful steps, and yes so many setbacks, I had managed to find a smile I didn’t think I’d ever have in my life. A smile of someone finally living her life for herself, choosing what she wants in life and learning to not apologize if my dreams for myself didn’t match the expectations of another.

Tonight, I climbed into bed with a handful of meds, a heavy heart, a headache, eyes full of tears, and physically and mentally exhausted. And one dog curled up at my feet and another in my arms.

After 5 minutes of just sitting in bed overwhelmed by the simple and unconditional love surrounding me, I began to smile. And even if you can’t see it, you can feel it. And I know that smile. It’s the one that took 29-30 years to find. It’s one that used to come so easily to me these past 4.5 years. It’s one I kept finding over and over again as I dealt with physical and emotional blows, especially this past year. Even I miss seeing this smile on my face and before the moment passed I had to take a couple selfies so I have something to remind me this moment. My face is blown up from steroids, my face is scattered with acne, and I’m in pjs… I don’t care. It’s been too long since I’ve felt this smile. Lately all my smiles have felt forced and taken so much effort that I am not going to let anything miss an opportunity to lose this smile again. I know that now when I struggle to smile as this journey unfolds, I will be able to refer back to these photos tonight and it will all it come back again. The pain is still there but through it, I feel something even stronger. I feel beautiful, alive, and worthy again tonight. I feel what I’m told others see. I feel that woman that I decided to I wanted to be at age 24 and again at age 29.

It’s amazing what a team and two dogs can do that I didn’t think I’d feel ever again. I feel “so worth it” with these two curled up beside me re-reading for the fourth time the messages written for me. But this time I believe it and I feel it come back in me. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to hurt, or cry, or struggle during this journey of healing. But it does mean I’m going to fight each and every day to not let what I worked so hard for to slowly fizzle out.

It took just one moment, that is still making me smile ear to ear, for these two brown eyed, furry, four legged, non blood related dog “sisters” to finally let me see and accept what they saw – that I was beautiful, strong, and worthy of their love.

So I’m not going to let this moment be forgotten. I’m not going to let the struggle be the only focus of my day. Even if it’s a day like today, I’m going to take one moment, no matter how hard it is, and write one positive word or one phrase about myself that day with whatever I was dealing with, and add it to the jar. Even if it’s a message someone else sent to me. I’m going to take the bucket my team began to fill for me, and keep adding to it until I am allowed to carry this jar myself on my first workout back (whenever that is) and at the end of that workout, I will run (or walk depending on my recovery at the time) one kilometre with it to celebrate the end of this journey and a beginning of the next one.

I will be the one in control of this journey and the next, working each day to make myself happy as the sun sets and waking up each morning saying “What do I want to do today?” As Yancy Culp said “What big rock are YOU going to move today?” Not what rock I think my teammates or trainer want me to move, or Brad (spouse), or friends. My rock has to be what I want or it’s that much harder to move it. I’m still learning how to not be a person pleaser, but as a compassionate and reliable friend, that goes for what she wants in life.

I’ve also realized tonight that the difference of the girl who lived on a thin thread of a life lived for someone else and who I am today? Is the people I’m surrounded by that don’t allow me to live that life by modelling it for me with their own lives. I choose to be with family and friends who may tell me a dream is crazy but they never tell me not to go for it, and are always there when I do. And even if are right and don’t want my dream for themselves, instead of being told “I told you that was stupid” or “you shouldn’t do that”, they ask you what you want to do next to make that dream possible, even it comes along with advice of “take it slow” or “you don’t have to do it tomorow”. And what’s more is they give you everything (physical, moral, sometimes even financial support) they can to help you achieve it.

I’ve dug in deep, let it out, and this is my story. Now, as Thomas King said: “Take it. It’s yours. Do with it what you will. But don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You’ve heard it now.”

I am so worth it. You are so worth it.

And if you still can’t see it, come spend a day with my dog, or adopt one of your own. For whatever reason, a dog is able to see the person you are, and they have a way to make you believe it too.

It’s about the journey…not the finish lines

On March 5, my life would change drastically but I hadn’t realized it yet. My hip and back began to hurt. On March 20, it was obvious to the physiotherapist my doctor sent me to that there was a severe injury. Physio believes I have a hip labral tear in my left hip. I was put off work the next day by my doctor and referred to a surgeon. I saw the surgeon April 5, who assumes the injury is exactly that but only a MRI can detect it. In Canada, that means a wait possibly of 3-6 months. So now I’ve been off work since March 21 and on bed rest, while trying to manage the pain and still at least eat healthy while I’m pretty much bedridden. During this time I’ve been writing in a journal, listening to podcasts, reading motivational books for athletes, working on thesis when able, using Headspace’s app for mindfulness, and reading for fun when able. This has led to a lot of learning.

I made this huge life changing decision last week and only shared with a few people. It isn’t an easy one to make but it’s the right one. I’ve spent many moments since making this decision questioning if it’s the right one and wondering if I’ll be able to stick to it. I wasn’t sure when I’d share this publicly but the podcast I listened today featuring Jax Mariash opened up the door to share as well as reassured me that I’m making a smart choice for myself.

We already know my 2018 race season is over. My surgeon hopes to get my back for 2019 but over the past 6 weeks of bed rest and missing out on training, I’ve learned a lot of myself and some mistakes I’ve made in training and racing, that may have caused and/or contributed to my injury. In this podcast, Jax talks about a hectic race season where her body just began to crash. Her kidneys were failing and numerous other problems. After race season, it bounced back and they never found a reason why. She believes it was from not having proper recovery and back to back races and said she learned that year that you got to take care of your system. The host of the podcast, Margaret, piped in and shared that as runners and OCR athletes, we can get into this pattern of feeling really accomplished so all we do is “racing racing racing”. Racing fills up every weekend or every other weekend. she said “It’s like you race, you go home, you recover, you barely train again and then you’re at again”. After 2 years of this, Margaret suffered an ankle injury and she said it was like her body saying you need to slow down and you’re not going to do it on your own so we’re going to do it for you.

Back to Jax: she said the media always asked her “what’s next?” With her own ego combined with media expectations, she thought “shit I gotta come with a really intense schedule” and she got caught up in it instead of really listening to herself, even after her body was shutting down. She made it through season but at the end, her body was done. She took a long break and today she looks at it like this: “Do you remember the results or the journey? It’s the people you meet. The adventures your travel. The epic journeys people have come from. That’s the shit that matters. Be appreciative of the surroundings and what you get to do. Take a few moments, look around, and take it all in and put it into your memory bank”. Is it about crossing that finish line over and over again or is about how your journey to get there?

Back to me. I’ve had to time to think back to my past few years. I began to change my life and then I got hooked to racing. I’ve got swept away by that finish line feeling. The quantity of races medals, Personal Bests, and finish lines overtook me and blinded me to what’s really important.

From Jim Afremow’s book “A Champion’s Comeback”

It’s not about the racing. It’s about the every day. It’s about the places that the races can take me and the people I meet along the way. It’s about the workouts and being with my amazing team. It’s about the views I’ve seen during the races and the mountains I’ve climbed that I never used to. It’s about the time I spent with my four legged running partner. It’s about being healthy. It’s about planning just a few races to have fun and to see how my year of training has got me.

Spartan’s motto “I’ll see you at the finish line”? You will but it won’t be until 2020. My decision is that no matter what happens this year, and no matter when or if I can return to training and running in 2019, I will not be signing up for any races. Maybe I’ll travel to some with my team to cheer them on and be in that atmosphere. I’ll definitely attend local ones to cheer on friends and teammates. Maybe even volunteer. But my new plan is to be patient. To listen to my body. Once we finally pinpoint the exact injury and have a solution, I’ll take the time necessary and the steps set out by my surgeon and physiotherapist to fix the injury and heal. I’ll take any negative news with the positivity. The reality is we don’t know the severity or the exact injury and there is always the slim possibility that running or obstacle course racing may not be in my cards again. That maybe I need to focus on other goals – like kettlebells and walking. Hopefully I can get back to it all but I’m not going to jump right back in and return to my current situation.

This is about learning from the situation and applying it to my comeback, not about getting it over with and repeating same mistakes. Will I miss racing? Hell yes I will. But by taking a year off, whether that means next year or even 2020, I’ll learn how to plan the right balance of racing in my life. I want one full year of just training only before I return to race season and that might mean one year off or five years off racing. When I look back at my best 5 years, the moments I enjoy most are the daily workouts and challenges with my team, with Ginny, and with myself.

I’ve neglected training the mental athlete in me and that will also become a part of my routine. I’m not going to just be a runner or a racer. I’m going to be a champion. I can’t wait until the first race again but it will come when I’m ready physically and mentally, with the blessing of my surgeon and my trainer. I’m going to start planning races with my trainer instead of booking them all on my own and telling him my goals after I’ve already committed. I’m going to learn to focus on the journey and on the memories – not the number of medals I can get in a year or on the idea that I need to have personal bests every single race. As Dr. Jim Afremow’s book says – “This is where I need to be to get my game back”.

I’m going to get back to loving the feeling of living and not just living for the moment of short glory from racing.

I’ve listened to the Obstacle Order podcasts too and they, and many guests they’ve had, have helped so much. Most memorable is Yancy Culp – OCR athlete who had to take time off racing while treating cancer. He said what got him through every day was asking each morning “What big rock am I going to move today?” This decision has been the heaviest weight and the biggest rock I’ve ever lifted and moved. And I’m proud of myself and no matter how many people might say “Why not just one race?” I’m going to remember how hard this rock was to move and not fall into that. Just one can easily become ten. Before I can race again, I need to learn to be that girl who crosses the finish line and doesn’t care that she crossed a finish line or that she was in a race but that she had an amazing journey to get to the starting line, and enjoyed every moment to the finish line, not just the finish line itself.

From Jim Afremow’s book “A Champion’s Comeback”

“The most important workout is tomorrow’s”©️Riley Nadoroznick (my trainer)

I’d give anything to be lacing up my shoes to be running with her tomorrow . 💔

I haven’t posted in awhile. Been in a funk. I have been wanting to write but didn’t have the heart, the energy, or the words of what I wanted to say. This post isn’t about sympathy. It’s about a lesson learned as well as maybe to do two other things – to let others struggling know they aren’t the only ones and to let those who are able to run or walk but don’t due to stress, work, funks, exhaustion… to just do it and not complain about it. It could be so much worse. You might get told one day you can’t. Maybe for a week. A month. Maybe forever. If you have now, don’t waste ever take it for granted.

I’m here in hell. I haven’t walk, worked out, or ran in 3 weeks. An injury (I thought from shovelling March 5&6 but could have been from a run I did before shovelling, or from kettlebell workout I did 2 days after shovelling, or one that had been worsening for some time and I didn’t know) has left me in extreme pain and limited mobility. I kept working (I am a teacher and a mixture of guilt, stubbornness and a bit of denial of how terrible I felt) and my first idea was to try massage. Unfortunately, it got worse. So I went to my family doctor who prescribed anti-inflammatory and immediately sent me to physio. Saw physio last Tuesday (March 20). Physio thinks I actually have a hip labral tear and a back injury. She also believes it may have been one that started before shovelling and that just worsened it.

I think back to Sunday, March 4. I had gone for a 7k run in the afternoon of the day the large amount of snow started to fall. I could have skipped it. I could have done the treadmill. I could have freaking snowshoed – I have new ones I haven’t even tried yet! But I’m so strict on myself and my routines that I do fixate on that damn schedule I make for myself based off of recommendations. I let myself ignore that the training plan can be modified or skipped if necessary. Snow was up to my ankles or deeper. Today should have been one of this skipped or modified workouts. But it was long run Sunday and my stubborn self fixated on that so… I ran.

I thought it was awesome to be that runner who braved the elements and did her run anyway anyhow. But what I forgot in my superwoman moment was that running in snow so deep that made me run in a bad form – sort of like a wide leg hop run? If you’re a runner you probably know what I mean! So – was it worth risking an injury by running in it? Then, I’d probably say yes. Now – I know it was the worst decision. You never regret until it’s too late. Lesson learned and hopefully if you’re like me, you’ll remember this story and my hard lesson learned if you’re ever stuck with a decision of running in bad weather that will affect your form. My Conviction Fitness trainer has said to me before – “the most important workout is tomorrow’s”. I wish I’d listen to his advice that week. I wouldn’t have ran in that deep snow. I wouldn’t have shovelled for 6 hours straight. I wouldn’t have gone to a kettlebell workout exhausted and already sore from shovelling.

But back to that day at my first physio appointment. My therapist was shocked that I was working and adamantly encouraged me to take time off as I could be hurting myself even more. She also sent me back to my family doctor to discuss this time off as she can’t actually do the doctor note for work. Upon her suggestion, my doctor also ordered X-rays (though physio was sure that wouldn’t show the injury she expected, she was wanting to eliminate a fracture in hip). Pain meds were prescribed as this appointment showed him a side of me he’s never seen – he said he’s never seen me not smile even when sick or when I dislocated my finger. My doctor also referred me to a surgeon as urgent but the surgeon told my physician they don’t treat urgent referrals any differently. And it could be 3 months before I see him – for just a freaking diagnosis and plan. My doctor wasn’t happy. He has now referred to a special hip surgeon as only he can order an mri for it. He does treat cases based on urgency and is reviewing my case now.

I had physio again today. Though she can’t do as much as they normally do, she’s working on helping the muscle spasms by loosening the muscles around injury (not working the injury itself) very carefully with some finger pressure techniques. Taught how to do some at home. She said the muscles are extremely tight from trying to protect the injury which is causing some of my extreme pain.

The most positive news I’ve heard in some time was today when she said that it is actually better that I’m now being referred to this 2nd surgeon as only this doctor treats hip injuries like mine. If I’d waited 3 months to see the other one, he would have actually sent me to see the 2nd one himself as well – wasting all that time. She knows him and will email him as well hoping to help make my case even more a priority. I saw this surgeon’s website and he highly respects physiotherapists and says they should be able to do referrals to surgeons too. Something my province is trying to change. Hopefully her email helps. I hate being stuck in limbo. Freaking about the missed steps (typically 15000-25000 for me), the runs, the spartan workouts, the Kettlebell workouts, the adventures, the time with my fur baby running partner and just all the life I’ve been missing.

I went from 3 Spartan SGX workouts a week with the best team ever, 3-4 runs a week of about 25-30km weekly, multiple walks and hikes, bike rides (mostly in spring and summer), and 3 Kettlebell workouts a week – to literally nothing. Life isn’t meant to be alone from the world and stuck in bed on multiple pain meds just to function a little while waiting for the phone to ring and counting how many days you’ve already waited.

So when you don’t think you can get out there mentally but you can physically – do it. Don’t let the barrier from being physical be your excuses. Do it for me. Do it for others who can’t. Do it for you. And enjoy every single freaking moment of it. You can’t guarantee to get that run or walk or adventure you missed back if something ever happens that leaves you on the sidelines.

Life is meant to be lived hard and to be lived to the fullest. Get out there and do just that.

As for me, no idea when surgeon will call. I’m doing my best to stay positive but I can’t lie – each day hurts the heart and soul a little bit more. I have amazing family, friends, teammates, and trainer. I’ll let myself cry. But I’ll also keep my smile. I’ll get through this perhaps with some heavy leaning on friends and family. But I will get through it. This too shall pass and I will tie up those shoes again, remember this experience, and make sure that I’m always thinking about the most important workout – tomorrow’s.

My running partner is currently now my medicine for the heart and soul. Waiting by me patiently with unconditional love. Together we wait for the first day, regardless of when, to take the first walk (I want to say run but I know it will have to be a walk first) together after this injury.

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.

The Power of Photos

I took a selfie on a long easy walk with Ginny today. It still makes me uneasy taking photos as I used to despise them. After I took the photo, I look at it and I am yet again surprised when I don’t get that depressed feeling while looking at the image staring back at me. Instead, I find myself happy with the image and in shock that the person staring back is me. And it isn’t just about the difference of how I look because of weight loss. I couldn’t pin it exactly what it is besides the size of person that is striking me so. 

Selfie taken on today’s walk

Photos circa 2011-2012

After thinking about it, I looked up some old photos. It is immediately obvious what the difference is in these images. And it isn’t the weight I lost. It is in the smile. The person before would pose for photos (after trying to find my best angle…) and stress about it. I would sometimes avoid photos too. The person I was before would spend hours finding ways to edit it to make it look better. The person I was before would struggle posting photos that I couldn’t even look at without feeling ashamed. The person I was before smiled for photos on the outside but on the inside, I wanted to run away from who I was and looked like in photos. It is so apparent that I am sure even you can see that smile is so different from the one today. 

In those old photos, I was living life forcing smiles to appear on the outside when inside I was depressed and miserable. Today, I smile with ease and the happiness that shows outside is what is inside too. Not everything is perfect but it never will be. What has changed is how I embrace life and take control of it instead of letting life and its problems control me. 

The life I live in my photos today truly represent who I am and how I feel most of the time. Before the photos were attempts to be normal and try to portray a happy life.

Photos have a power. They tell a story but can also hide a story. I cannot wait to continue to upload photos that tell my new truthful story of inspiration, happiness, motivation, and dedication. I am beginning to recognize the girl in today’s photo and feel that strength she so powerfully shines through unedited.