Sunday, March 9, 2014

Every. Damn. Day.

I can across this little gem recently and its spurred me to some serious action.

The language is simple.  Albeit harsh, but to the point and uncomplicated at that.  Given my recent shift off of the tri training horse and back into the saddle of the marathon running horse, I've been thinking.  I've been thinking about my running goals and my marathon goals.  I've had the same one year running goal for 4 years now.  4 years.  Recall:


And so I run a marathon; and I don't make it sub 3.  I'm at ease with not making it...really and truly I am.  I've had a few good kicks at it and haven't gotten there.  I'm still a decent amount of time away at 3:07.  7 minutes is a long time when you're out there on the marathon course.  As a matter of fact, this 7 minutes represents one mile of running for me and a slow one in truth; the pace for a sub 3 is decently faster than a 7 minute mile!  Not making it more than once has taught me so many important lessons about myself.  A couple I'll share here:

One. I set BHAGs.  Big. Hairy. Audacious. Goals.  How I know this is because I haven't made it.  Despite all the running and the yoga and the strength work and the speed work, I STILL haven't made it.  While I don't measure my success as a runner or as a human solely on the basis of this one time standard, it's still important to me.  What I do know is that I'm truly and honestly pushing myself to go big because it certainly has not come easily.  Life is so short.  I'd rather play big.  Period.  Even if it means one of my one year goals lasts far longer than one year.

Two. I am resilient.  I have failed.  Yes.  I have tried and tired harder and still failed.  Truth.  But I also know it doesn't define me.  That I will get it, and when I do, it will be a snapshot in time that I cherish based on how I will FEEL.  And that keeps me running.  It keeps my feet in shoes and my shoes on pavement.  No matter how many times it hasn't happened.

And now, because I mentioned action, let's get to it.

My attempts and re-attempts to hit this goal have always been hyper focused on running.  More speed work and less miles.  More miles and less speed work.  More speed work within more miles.  Following a more structured program with a coach.  Following a less structured training plan on my own.  Running a 26.2 mile road race definitely requires focus and training and there is certainly no shortage of information out in the world (human AND digital) to support a training plan.  The shifts I've made have ALWAYS focused on the running piece. 

And so, in the spirit of the journey and the practice of running, I'm shifting my focus.  I'm starting to look at my training in a more holistic sense.  What does this mean?  It means for me, that I'm considering how I'm fuelling this runners body.  My inner chatter used to tell me that I could eat whatever the sam hell I wanted BECAUSE I ran for miles and miles and miles.  And now, I am looking at the food and nutrition I ingest as a means to an end.  A way to stay healthy, a way to aid recovery and a way to honour this body that does crazy shit for me whenever I ask it to. 

Here it is in simple language:

I eat healthy, nutritious and whole foods that fuel and heal my body every day.

Note: no sugar.  no candy.  no processed bullshit.  I'm two weeks in and feeling fantastic.

As well, I'm focusing on the rest and recovery piece.  Pushing your body through this kind of training requires that you LISTEN to what it needs.  Sometimes, my body is screaming at me to rest: joints aching, chest hurting, exhausted all the time screaming.  Sleep often eludes me and, to be real, is a required part of training.  My body can't heal if my body doesn't rest.

Again in simple language:

I sleep 8 hours 4 times per week.

Note: no emails, social media or cell phone 1 hour before bed.  No emails, social media or cell phone until I have been awake for 1 hour.  I made it the first week.  The second week, I made it 8 hours for 2 days and 7 hours for 2 days.  I'm sleeping better and feel less scattered.  A small victory.

Food. Nutrition. Sleep. Rest.  Will it work?  Only the Marathon Gods know.  What I can tell you is that the journey is the part of this that I honour the most.  I will approach it like a learner and will appreciate every damn moment.


Do I want it?  Yes.
Did I write that shit down? Yep.
Can this be considered a fucking plan?  I believe so (just so my hard core running friends know- I have not lost it; there is still a running/training plan too).
And I'm working on it. Every. Single. Damn. Day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Expectation. Ego. Excitement. And other Es.

I'm an honest gal so I'll cut to the chase.

Not too long ago, I signed up for a triathlon.  The moment I did this, the following feelings ensued:
dread (my ass gets sore on the bike)
anxiety (when the mother eff am I going to find time to work tri training into my schedule on top of pursuing huge and important life and marathon goals)
annoyance (towards myself- WHY did I do this if this clearly isn't what I wanted to do)

Because I'm a Virgo and I run and I get to my mat, I let it marinate for a bit.  I asked myself many challenging questions.

What prompted a triathlon to make its way into my goals?
Were my established goals in triathlon REAL...and if they weren't what is the COST of keeping them?  For me, and for my peeps that I aim to support and inspire in living authentically towards their vision of life through their goals?
What was driving the decision to potentially NOT participate?  Fear of the unknown?  Fear of failure?  Or was it really and truly about what I really and truly aim to accomplish through my own goals?

I could write a novel here.  Instead, I am going to keep things short, simple and sweet.  Kind of just like me.

People in the world told me (from the most loving and generous place possible, to be clear), that  I would likely rock a triathlon and kill it.  A serious #goalcrush if you will.  This fed my ego (and yes, we all have one, good, bad and ugly) in the most external and unsatisfying way. When I'm real about it, the time for triathlon for me is simply not now.  It might not be ever...I don't know.  But when I look at my values, when I look at life, and when I dig into what I want to create, participating in a triathlon that I have no desire to participate in is in COMPLETE antithesis to all of these things.  

The cost of having an inauthentic goal, of any kind, for me, is simply a price I am no longer willing to pay.  It weighs on my psyche.  It weaves its way into my life in the most negative and unappealing ways.  Joy and happiness give way to anxiety, dread and fear.  But most importantly, how can it possibly allow me to stand for my people (my family, my friends and my team), lead from a place of authenticity AND coach towards CHOICE if I am making a conscious and active choice to keep a goal that isn't real for me?  I can't.  I won't.  It isn't who I am.

So I did what I have learned in the past year works for me.  I got out of my head.  And into my heart.  As Richard Wagamese (have you read his books yet?  #doitnow) states, "The head has no answers, and the heart has no questions."  And my heart is leading me here:

Removing the triathlon goal from my goals.  It is the right thing to do right now.  It makes me smile.   It makes me tingle.  It makes me excited for other really big and important parts of my life.

Instead, I'm committing to filling my goals with the things that are actually filling me up and are allowing me to live big.  I'm focused on the marathon and with it, I see many halves and 10ks in my future.  I'm focused on creating and sharing something special for the running community in #yeg.  I am focused on creating space for peeps to MOVE, EAT and HUG. 

And last, but certainly not least...

I am committing to having ready and posted on the wall by end of this week, beautiful goals that are set in truth, are authentic and are written from a place of supporting vision, legacy and LOVE. 

Thanks, JulieG, KatieC, LauraM, MichelleC, AinsleyR, AlishaK, BeccaR, TinaH, AmandaS and the entire army of people that support me on a daily basis to live in truth.   How lucky am I to have so many messengers of magic in my life. 

I am so excited for what is coming.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Ceremony of Running

Sometimes all we need is to find a little magic in the universe.  Magic.  It can come to us in many forms, any and all forms; human form, e-form, expected and unexpected, big and small.  But always amazing and usually for me, just what I need in any particular moment.

Not too long ago, I read this facebook status from one of my favourite authors, Richard Wagamese:

"I am drawn to ceremony like Earth is drawn in its circle around the sun. To begin a day's journey without a smudge, a prayer and meditation is to lack a center. I'm not a holy man or a great ceremonialist. I only know that ceremony is the magnet that draws me closer to Creator, to the Grandmothers, to my essential and truest self. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Breathing is a ceremony when it's mindful. So is walking. So is looking at something that moves me. So is talking when the talk is real and earnest. When I inhabit something fully, when I am mindful, when it increases me, I am in ceremony - and there is joy in the recognition of myself..."

And it struck me.  Running is ceremony for me, important because, as he so eloquently states here, it is THE magnet that draws me closer to my truest self.  It is these moments on any given day when I am on the pavement accompanied by the repetitive rhythm of my footsteps, the  steady, strong beat of my heart and the sound of my breath that I am most at home and at peace within my soul, simply because I am all there.  All right there in that footstep in that moment of time. 

Running, for me, started as exercise.

Running shifted, for me, to moving meditation.

And now.  Running as ceremony. 

I like it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Running Naked

Today, I went running.  Naked.

Not naked without clothes naked.  My currently geography is Edmonton and while -4C with windchill is certainly a welcoming treat  from -30c with windchill, No clothes naked would perhaps mean frost bite in some fairly interesting areas.  Plus, I'm kind of shy.

What I mean by running naked is that I went stripped down, bare bones, lets get real running.

This was the first time I've been running in 14 days.  It feels like the first time I've been running for months.  Maybe ever years.  I didn't over think it.  I committed to being a running virgin and dove right in.   It wasn't about any particular training run in any particular training plan to meet any particular running goal.  It wasn't to work any shit out in my head or in my heart.  It wasn't about finding the exact right winter running costume for this exact winter running temperature on this exact winter running day.  I just went because I was told I was able to go, and well, quite frankly, this is what I do when I'm done work for the day- I go running.

I was out for 25 minutes.  5 minutes longer than I was "allowed to be running" and one hour and 35 minutes short of an average Wednesday add some mileage run.  I had a thought for a moment about how this was frustrating, depressing and pathetic.  And then I remembered.  If this was how I was going to see the run and my current situation, then this was surely how it was going to be.  And so I chose.  I chose to see those 25 minutes of running like I've never seen running before.  I paid attention to my breathing.  I acknowledged that my chest felt uncomfortable and then I just let it go.  Its not good or bad, right or wrong.  I am where I am and my body is where it is and I have this incredible opportunity to start running all over again.  For the first time.  Naked.  Because when I strip it all down (forget the expensive running watch) and peel back the layers (forget the training plan, the pace and the distance) the opportunity that is before me is indeed a gift.  I have the opportunity to create the whole training path from start to finish.  The only thing possibly holding me back are my thoughts about what running was like.  What it has been.  Or what it possibly should be.

And my goals?  Just to be clear...they're still there.  I'm still after them.  And I will get them.  2014.  Its even and these will be mine.  A sub 3 marathon and a consistent 1:25 half.

Monday, October 21, 2013


This summer this happened:

It's true.  After, promising, threatening, goal-setting, and several cajoling conversations from friends that thrive on time spent on two wheels on the triathlon course, I committed to a goal that's spent a lengthy amount of time parked in my brain and, more recently, on paper.

I purchased a bike.  A tri bike.

As a result of said purchase, this summer this also happened:

I'm currently all sorts of excited for a variety of reasons, in no particular order:
I have a tri buddy!  The beautiful, talented and tri-experienced LC (not Lauren Conrad, in case you're wondering) has committed to making the trek from the mean streets of #YYC to join me for this adventure.  Thanks, LC!  Nothing seals a friendship like 6 odd hours or so of sweating it out on a triathlon course. #miserylovescompany
Next, I'm certain that the cross training I will accomplish for this triathlon adventure is going to mean great things for my running goals: a sub 3 full,  and a consistent 1:25 half.  Yes it will and yes I can.
And also, new training, new adventure, new PEOPLE!  Look out #YEG triathletes, I'm here and I'm pumped.  Let's create some magic together.  Let's swim.  Let's bike.  Let's run.  Sometimes all at once, too. 

Mixed in with the excitement and the commitment and the planning, however, is a tiny bit of nervousness.  Maybe more than a wee bit.  Why?  The truth is, I don't know how to bike, at least not in the technical sense I need to if I am to complete a 90k pedal over the course of the tri.  I know how to bike in the sense that one gets on a bike and pedals forward.  But that's it.  That's all.

Shit just got real.  For real.

However, I'm a gal that likes a challenge, and this one is no different from any other seemingly daunting physical challenge I've undertaken in the past few years.  I know that I have great support from peeps that have danced this dance long before I decided to undertake it and I hope they're prepared to be hit by a barrage of endless questions in and around putting my ass on a bike and getting it all trained up by the 7th of July.  I have no doubt that I'll do the work and I'll get there, but, truthfully, one small item of concern continues to nag at my brain.

And that is, unlike the running and swimming portions of this race, the concern for the bike portion comes less from the training required and more from the idea that I am introducing a MACHINE into the mix.  A machine with parts like gears and brakes and screws that could fail at any given time on any given point of the ride.  A machine over which I have no control.  Repeat, zero control.  And this bothers me greatly. 

As I runner, I am seasoned and prepared to rely on my body, and my body only.  I know my body will preform if I train it to perform.  I know with certainty my body has done amazing things on the marathon course, particularly when my mind shuts down and I am lost in a continuous and beautiful moving meditation, guided only by the sound of my feet on the pavement and the flow of my breathing.   With the introduction of the bike, a certain amount of control is surrendered, and I've struggled to remove this doubting, negative thought from my brain.

And then I remember.  That this is what I know to be true: control is an illusion and none of us have it.  Not in any moment of any day.  The bike may fail during the tri, just like my body may fail during a marathon, no matter what I've done to prevent it.  The only option then, is the choice I have in how I show up in any given moment of any given situation, regardless of the circumstances that brought me to that point.    ALWAYS about the journey, NEVER about the outcome.  No matter if applied to a triathlon, a marathon or any situation in my life.

The real truth of it all for me lies in this.  I love to push myself.  I love to set a goal that requires my mind to get the fuck out of my way so my body can do the incredible things it was built to do.  I love the physical challenge that training for an endurance race of any kind will bring.  And I simply cannot wait to get lost in the training, whether its in the pool, on the bike or on the pavement.  That's it.  That's all. 

Great White North Tri.  January 1st training begins.  YES.

Until then, tri biking tips.  Hit me, triathlon friends.  I'm ready.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Get By.

So simple.  So beautiful.  And so very true.  As I find myself in my second new city in under a year, I find these words work their way into my psyche often.  A small but very important reminder that even though it may be a new adventure, I am never alone.

I am so grateful to have met the greatest people in my short but very sweet stay in the city that rhymes with fun.  To say that they played an important impact on my growth over the last little while is an understatement of gargantuan proportion.  Saying good bye is never easy, especially for someone like me.  I thrive on people and relationships; I love being surrounded by my peeps, my family and my community.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  The people I love, I tell them.  When I hug someone, I mean it.  I hold on for too long each and every single time, but my experience in the past year has solidified for me what we all know to be true, and that is our time here is very short.  Because it is so, I have an incredible and overwhelming desire to always let my people feel just how much I care, even if it means holding on for just a second too long.  And while I may have just landed in a new city that certainly doesn't rhyme with fun (I don't think it rhymes with anything but give me time) I am so fortunate to have already been the recipient of some great hugs that serve as an important reminder.  That a place is just geography and the heart and soul that you connect to and dig in with are the people.  A comforting thought when times get tough and maybe, if I'm being honest, a tad bit lonely.

And now, because this is a running blog, let's get down to it.  The nitty gritty and the dirty.

First, a confession.

My level of fitness is at an all time low.  For serious and for real.  My health is something that I value greatly, and fitness is certainly something that cannot be taken for granted when you are going to embark on multiple marathons.  I don't let it slide.  At least not usually.  At least not until now. 

I could spend time outlining the reasons why, and believe me, there are plenty!  But an excuse is an excuse no matter what way I choose to look at it.  I was busy...most people are.  I was in recovery post marathon in Regina...there are other ways to maintain fitness in recovery, I just chose not to engage in any of them.  I had a few long (albeit incredibly fun) evenings on the town in the bubble; the 5 block radius around my former diggs which included several great places for wine and beer and food.  50% off wine all day every day- gets a gal each and every time.  I attended football games where the beverage of choice was certainly not water.  Summer in a can (Coors light to the average person) tastes great every time but is maybe not the motivating force required to get my ass out of bed and into the gym, yoga studio, or onto the pavement. 

And so, I find myself in a place I haven't been to for quite some time.  I'm sure I've got abs under here somewhere and my junk in the trunk is carrying just a little more junk than is typical, yes, even for me.  Typically, this might weigh on my mind more than the average runner (an extra 5 doesn't feel awesome when you hit the pavement for a  run of any length), but while I'm in the mood to confess, here comes a second one.

I am motivated by the challenge of winning my fitness back.  Super motivated, actually.  So motivated I find myself referring to my fitness like it was human.  Telling it to take that.  Telling it I am owning it like a boss and telling it that not only will I earn it back, I will surpass it and it will be taken to the next level.  And so the challenge #45in30 was born.  Simple: 45 workouts in 30 days.  Because I'm an aggressive and goal oriented gal by nature, I originally intended for a #60in30 challenge.  A little voice outside of my head (named Siebz with long blonde hair and an affinity for all things football and adventure) informed me that 60 workouts in 30 days was maybe just a wee bit aggressive (or fucking crazy if we're being truthful) on the bod.  Thank goodness for reason, even if its not my own.

So where am I with this whole #45in30?  I'm 7 days and 8 workouts in.  Which means that I have 23 days to complete 37 workouts.  Which also means that on 14 of those days I will have to double up.  Unless I triple up some days.  Never say never, I tend to be crazy like that.  And, in case you're also wondering, I'm feeling pretty fabulous.  This challenge has reminded me of something that I don't usually forget, but seems to have gotten away from me in the past 30 days of moving madness, marathon recovery and good times in the bubble.  That is that when I show up on my mat, in the gym and on the road, I show up for my life in the way that I want to show up.  I show up BIG.  Life marches forward, faster and faster, and I have far too many goals to accomplish, dreams to actualize, people to inspire and adventures to have to show up any other way.  An important realization in light of my brand new adventure. 

And so, with my peeps behind me, and my fitness in front of me, onward and upward.  I will not just get by.  I will crush it. 

With a little help from my friends. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Race

I didn't have the race I wanted.

I had the race I needed.

Its just past two full weeks since the Queen City Marathon went down.  Two weeks I've sat with the result of the latest 26.2 I've pounded out and my thoughts have marinated and rested and are ready to be shared.  I've smiled when people asked me how my race went and I've commented the way that I almost always do post marathon:

"Any day you finish a 26.2 mile road race upright and smiling is a great day."


It WAS a great day. 


My race wasn't where I wanted it to be.  Not even close.  9 minutes off my personal best from New York City in 2011 and 16 full minutes away from what is the ultimate goal for me: a sub 3 hour race.  I've analysed the race inside and out; I've looked at my splits, checked my mile repeats and even thought about how I fuelled.  And in the end, I don't know that I have any sort of great explanation for why or how my race went the way it went.

But I do know this.  I may not have had the race I wanted, but I had the race I needed.  I realize there are many runners who will read this (and several of you very close to me) that will always direct me back to the numbers.  Some will tell me to review my total mileage in training.  They will tell me to look at the pace work I did both in speed and any kind of race pace training.  They will tell me to look at my splits and to dig in and to consider how all of these pieces fit into the puzzle.  And I know they're right and the logical part of my mind wants to believe that the answer is here for me.

But I know me, and I don't operate that way. That's just not me.  Some time ago, I wrote about the idea that I go by feel and by heart both in life and in running, and this is why I know and I trust that I had exactly the race I needed on race day.  There is something about this race that gave me what I needed most at that exact moment at that exact point in time.   Whether it was the pain that came in the effort (and the hurt came and it came HARD in this one), the freedom I felt in my mind just being in that brilliant space of moving meditation or the peace I felt in my heart about the beautiful chaos that is my amazing life, it was some thing that my soul craved and the universe provided.  It couldn't be more simple and it couldn't be more right.

And so  in the next training cycle (was there ever a doubt there would be another race?)  I'm sure that there will be tweaks and adjustments that push me a little differently towards the sub 3 hour race I covet.  But the biggest and most important point of it all will remain the same; and that's the love I have for the adventure and the journey that is preparing for and running the marathon.   The process and the sharing and the learning of my journey in running and how so very closely it parallels the journey that is life.  It truly is what keeps me going.

And just in case you're wondering what I'm about to get up to in training:

Fitness.  Fitness Fitness Fitness.  I'm coming for you.  I will earn you back.  Hills, the gym, yoga, swimming, biking (yes, biking) and everything and anything in between.  Look. Out. World.  I'm comin' for you.