Category Archives: Parenthood

Then the Wheels Came Off

This post is being published on a Monday morning.  For the last five years I have published my blog post on Tuesdays, so a Monday post is new territory for me.  But I ran in a half marathon yesterday, and since I have so many incredibly supportive people in my life, I keep getting texts and emails asking how it went.  I thought I’d write a post to give you my summary of the race, and how I fell way short of my goal…..

I tried to write part of this post ahead of time, you know, before I had even run the race.  I had some time mid-week last week, and because writing time is such a rarity, I pounced on it.  But the words didn’t come easily.  I knew what I wanted to write about, I just couldn’t seem to make it happen.  What I wanted to write about was the half marathon that I had been focused on for months.  I wanted to set the scene for you.  I wanted to talk about my mindset, my training, and my race prep, but my headspace wasn’t right.  I had doubts about my performance, anxiety about the forecast heat, and superstition about pre-writing even part of a post before the end result was known.

And so I write it now, with emotions running high and fatigue pulsing through me.  It’s 9:00pm on Sunday night.  My feet are up on our coffee table, there is a mug of Rooibos tea steaming, the hockey game is on, my tablet is laid before me, and I have had time to process what happened this morning.

Sigh.

You see, I’m trying to qualify for the 2018 New York marathon, which is traditionally built around a lottery system for participants.  Last year, more than 98 000 people entered the lottery, and roughly 16 000 were accepted- that’s less than a 17% chance of getting in.  The other 34 000 runners (yes, there’s 50 000 runners that run this race) come through various other means- 9000 charity spots, paid tour company entrants, New York Road Runners members, and NYC race volunteer spots.  The tricky part of these logistics is that my dear friend and training partner, Michaela, has never run a full marathon and NYC is at the top of her list.  So the best sure-thing option for both of us to get into the race is to meet the tougher-than-Boston qualifying standard; for our age group, that means running sub-1:34 in a race sanctioned by Athletics Canada.IMG_6581

Now, Michaela is much faster and a much more natural runner than I, and in fact, she ran 1:27 at the Hamilton half marathon last Fall on only two days/week of training.  She’s a natural, and her effortless pace still astounds me, as I huff and puff beside her on our weekend long runs.  In that same race last Fall, I ran 1:37, and battled stomach issues and under-training.  I felt old and slow and defeated and the doubts creeped in.  Could I manage to shave three minutes off my time?  I have a 1:23 personal best and I’ve run under 1:34 dozens of times, but with an extra 13 years and 2 kids under my belt, my abilities have changed.

So for the last few months, I’ve been focused.  I’ve run early.  I’ve run late.  I’ve run through blinding rain more times than I can count and an early-morning thunderstorm on the NorthShore hills.  I’ve run with my daughter in the Chariot, with tired CrossFit legs, with to-do lists in my brain, with sunrises and skunks and solitude.  And I remembered why I love this sport so much- this sport that’s been a huge part of my life for twenty-five years- sometimes in foreground but always in the background, a common thread through my teenage angst, my insecure twenties, my schooling, my cross-country move, my marriage, my kids, my career, my life.

But 1:34 still seemed seemed impossibly far away, my goal unreachable…. and then my training came together.  Fitness is like that, at least for me; weeks of effort will come together in a single run, and all of a sudden it clicks.  It clicked for me last weekend, when I tested my speed at the Moon in June 10k and surprised myself with a 41:46 and a first-place finish; my 4:11/km pace felt tough but manageable, painful but attainable, gritty but realistic.  Perhaps 1:34 wasn’t a carrot on the end of a stick I couldn’t reach.  So when I toed the line at the race this morning I had the usual doubts mixed with a taste of confidence and a sprinkle of hope.

Then the wheels came off.  I didn’t just miss my goal, I missed it by nearly six minutes, and I was the closest I’ve ever been to walking off a race course and calling it quits.  I went out way too fast, and ran my first 10k recklessly faster than I had planned.  But distance-running can be risky like that; it tricks you into thinking you’re feeling well and then it pulls the rug out from underneath you.  I hit the proverbial wall at 13km.  I stopped, I bent forward, my head between my knees.  I felt dizzy, my legs felt heavy, and I started to panic. I could feel my breath catching in my throat and tears came to my eyes.  But Michaela was there to talk me off the ledge.  “One foot in front of the other,” “you can do it,” “you’ve got this.”  I cried and ran and cried and walked for the next few kilometers, the heat becoming oppressive, and my mind jostling between pain and anger and frustration.  I wasn’t wearing a watch, I was running on feel only, and at the 17km mark Michaela looked at her Garmin and said “I know you won’t believe this, but we’re still on pace.  You banked enough time in the first half, you can still do this.”  Only four kilometers to go.  Four kilometers to reach a months-long goal and I just couldn’t do it.  I had nothing left in the tank, I couldn’t dig any deeper, I was running on empty.  I suspect we walked 2km of those last 4km and I hobbled across the finish line at 1:39FullSizeRender 16

But I hope this post inspires you.  I hope you don’t see failure, but rather perseverance.  I hope you see grit and determination and I hope you see that big goals achieved are that much sweeter when there’s been big struggle endured.  I hope my kids see that too- they saw me win last weekend and they saw me cry when I got home from the race this morning….. the ups and downs of sport and life.

I’m going to lick my wounds and nurse my ego for awhile and I’ll try again this Fall.  And if the wheels come off then too, well, I’ll try again.

 

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The Game of LIFE

I’m more productive when I’m busy.  I work well with deadlines and tight timelines and quick turnarounds.  Too much idle time gives my Type-A mind time to feel bored, ineffective, and squirmy.  I work best with goals and to-do lists.  And yet….

I need downtime.  Every day.  Even if it’s five minutes with my book in a quiet room or ten minutes on my yoga mat.  I need time for reflection and introspection and time to just “be.”  The introverted side of me craves this.

As a parent, I’m trying to identify these types of needs in my children early on, so that I can help them find ways to manage their emotions, their coping skills, their lives.  I already see that my eight-year-old son also needs daily decompression time, and I protect that time for him fiercely; he’s the best version of himself when he’s had time to regroup and recalibrate.  My five-year-old daughter seems to be able to roll with the punches a bit more, similar to my husband, and go with the flow, even if the flow is really busy.

thegameoflifeThis past weekend was a crazy one for us.  Over-scheduled and over-booked, Saturday was a day of running from one place to the next.  But Sunday was the opposite- it was one of those days at home that I love so much- puttering around the yard, playing in the backyard, tidying the house.  Just “being.”

I’ve written about things like this before, so I’ll re-post a little bit of what I’ve already shared with you, in the hopes that you’ll relate to a part of my message:

“Lately I’ve been talking to my children about “who they are.”  We’ve been chatting about things they like, things they don’t, things that are/aren’t important to them, and their hopes and dreams.  I’ve been trying to give them the verbiage of introspection, to open up their childhood minds to the language of what characterizes them, and makes them proud to be unique and special.  To be themselves, whomever those selves may be.

For now, my job is to give them opportunities to learn.  I see each exposure to something new as a chance for personal growth.  That’s why we spend our Summers traipsing around Southern Ontario and our Winters at every event within an hour’s drive.  We go to see monster trucks and rodeos and conservation areas and waterfalls and baseball games and theatres and ceramic studios and Teen Tour Band concerts and beaches and outdoor rinks.  We show them the world and try to help them figure out their role in this wonderful community of life.

I posted this on my Facebook Page a few days ago: “I really think a happy life is about balancing all of your favourite things.  Lower the stressors you have control over and prioritize the things that you love.”  And how are they to know the things that they love if I don’t give them the tools to discover that?

“Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good.”

And it seems to me that if you figure out your good, you will figure out your happy.”

The Game of Life rolls on…

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A Hall of Fame Journey…

My dad is being inducted into the Alberta Golf Hall of Fame tomorrow night.  Parents often tell their children how proud they are of them, but statements of pride and admiration don’t flow from child to parent as commonly.  AB golf hall of fame

This is one of those times.

I’m so proud of him.  And not even for the Hall of Fame induction per se, but for the passion that he’s followed his entire life.

I grew up with golf playing a major role in my life.  Until I was ten years old, we lived in the tiny village of Hughenden, Alberta, with a population of a couple hundred people.  The golf course of my early childhood had sand greens, and at weekend tournaments I would earn spending money raking the sand as each group played through.  We owned a two-seater golf cart, and I vividly remember learning to drive it when I could barely reach the pedals.  I remember Sunday pancake breakfasts at the clubhouse, disturbing red ant hills in the treed area behind the number one tee box, building elaborate wooden forts alongside the forested roadway entrance, and walking the course in the Spring as crocuses peeked up and signaled the end of the harsh prairie Winter.  At seven years old, we memorialized our poodle, Sugar, with a pile of rocks that lies deep within the forest off the number three fairway.  I can still imagine that clearing in the trees and see my mother’s tears.  Am I painting you a picture?  Can you feel the golfbag on your back, the crunchy grass beneath your spikes, the crisp Alberta sunshine on your face?

After our move to Sundre, at age ten, my love of the game waned.  Moreso, I suspect, due to adolescent moodiness rather than any feelings for the golf itself.  Nevertheless, golf remained a constant.  We played as a family nearly every Sunday afternoon, even as my teenaged petulance grew.  Now, with the benefit of hindsight and maturity, I can see that these afternoons were never about the golf for my parents, but rather a chance to spend some time together.  My brother grabbed this opportunity and ran with it, eventually earning a golf scholarship to a D1 school in the States, and lots of international travel and competition.  I went the other way, rebelling against a sport steeped in rules and tradition; my perfectionism, impatience, and stubbornness do not serve me well on a golf course, and these days, I limit my golf to the driving range and tee boxes only.

But I’m flying in for the event tomorrow; just me, no kids, and 24 hours in Alberta at my dad’s side.  I’m going to squeeze in a run on my beloved Snake Hill, snuggle with my baby niece, and enjoy an evening celebrating my dad’s passion.  Because really, “there is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ~Nelson Mandela

 

Les Swelin golf hall of fame

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