Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pace, Pride and Perseverance at STWM2014

"Don't judge each day by the harvest that you reap but by the seed that you plant."
~Robert Louis Stevenson

It's easy to feel small, even insignificant standing shoulder to shoulder with runners waiting to start a race that boasts 26,000 participants; that's a lot of bodies and nearly twice as many feet. For someone running their first race at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) the electricity in the air can stir up even more anxiety than is typical at a race start. Even those who find themselves repeating this event can feel like  small fish in a big sea. This event is loved by a lot of runners.
At the start...

I stood in my start corral, among these runners, as I did last year when I ran my first marathon. This year a few things were different though. The corral color was different, for one. I had trained my ass off under the watchful eye of my coach, Rejean Chiasson at Pace and Mind and as such had made huge improvements in my fitness and subsequent pace times. I had some confidence in my ability as this would be my third marathon in a year. The goal I had set of a sub 4 hr finish was lofty, but reachable if the formidable running gods found me in their favor. I stood knowing I  would run a massive personal best time even if I didn't cross the finish at 3:59:xx. Last year I debuted as a marathoner at this race in a time of 4:51:xx; with all the hard work I did over the season my time would be better than that. The most important thing that was different this time, though was that my friend of more than 35 years, Laurie Ruyter, stood along side me in that corral, readying herself for her first half marathon.

Monday, September 1, 2014

My Past Her Future

"You weren't around for the first eight years of my life"

She said these words at breakfast while reading the paper. The statement was born into the room with the same 'matter of fact-ness' as though she had just commented on the weather. Asperger's does this. She's about the straight up facts, not the emotions. She didn't lift her beautiful blue eyes from the page; to her, this was not shocking or scandalous, it was just her reality. She wasn't laying blame she was just pointing out the obvious.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Checking in...

The training cycle for Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is moving along. I am feeling better out on the roads than I have in more than 7 months. I feel strong, healthy and confident about my abilities. My coaching relationship with Rejean and Pace and Mind is going really well and as a result #stwm is looking like it will be a good race for me.

As the weekly km total increases, so does the wear and tear on our feet. In honor of losing another toenail (which brings the current 'missing toenail' tally to 4) please enjoy the following post from the archives.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mountain Growth

 Easy does not change us; tough is where growth happens. Yesterday I grew by leaps and bounds, literally. In retrospect, the Northface EnduranceChallenge half marathon at Blue Mountain, in Collingwood may have been ambitious for my first exposure to off road running. It was the kind of race that experienced trail runners called challenging. I called it just plain hard.

With the completion of hard things comes a sense of pride. The harder something is that you stick through; the feeling of pride is multiplied exponentially. I headed out for the hardest run of my life to endure all that the Collingwood mountain terrain could throw at me. What I didn't know was that the landscape would get thrown in front of me again and again and again. The triumph of any given climb was short lived as another was waiting around the corner or on the other side of the forest.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Running Home, Not Alone

In the past I have written about my preference for being a solo runner. I have shared how following my own schedule and not allowing my running to be bound by a group running itinerary has worked for me. I am disorganized; fly by night and without pattern to my lifestyle. The only schedule in my life is my work schedule and that is not even consistent from one week to the next, so the thought of waiting for the clock to say a certain time to run has never appealed to me. Running on my own timetable and fitting my runs in between family and work without having to plan for a running timetable is less stressful for me.

Friday, May 16, 2014

For Nicole

The Ottawa Marathon is just a little more than a week away and my legs and hips are feeling good, but on Tuesday, my heart was broken. My sister in law, Nicole Belair died as a result as an act of heroism.

The link will direct you to a post I wrote for the Ottawa Marathon blog page. The post highlights my preparedness for the race next Sunday, along with a tribute to Nicole.

Rest peacefully, sweet girl...until we meet in Heaven xo

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Evolving But Never Revolving

 Spring is finally here! Spring is my favorite season because of the hopeful feeling it generates. It makes me feel inspired to do new things. So, I am going to share a few of them with you and see where we land...

Over the winter I had been feeling like I had outgrown my blog and until five minutes ago, this had caused me some distress. Moments ago, that feeling changed, just like that! When you change your perception, you change your opportunities.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Letter to Laura who is #BostonStrong

I have never been to the Boston Marathon to cheer or to run and maybe I never will. 

Today, on the first anniversary of the terror and violence that was unleashed at the finish line, my heart is heavy for those who were there and for those who were left to wonder about the safety of those they loved. My heart is even heavier for a young woman I have come to know on twitter who was there and saw too much. This is for @laulaubird...

Dear Laura

While I wasn't there in Boston when it happened, this past year has left me feeling, in some ways that I was. That is not to say that I know what you are feeling and how deeply you suffer, particularly on this day. It is to say that your experiences have impacted me. I am devastated to know that your life is forever colored by such a senseless act of violence. I don't know you any more than a few tweets and a few direct messages, yet somehow, I am connected to you because I am struck by your candor. 

In 140 characters or less, I can see the kind of day you are having, and I am amazed at the amount of information that can be shared so succinctly. I have seen the videos and I have seen the Sports Illustrated feature on the attack, but the imagery that impacts me the most comes from that which I piece together in my mind after reading your posts. 

I can only imagine the state of shock and disbelief you must have experienced as you saw innocent athletes and spectators with wartime-like injuries all around you. I have pictured this in my mind as if through your eyes, countless times. Imagining this nightmare through you brings tears to my eyes as I write and I feel a squeezing pain in my heart. You and all the others are innocent and undeserving of the events of that day and of the physical and psychological sequela that is now yours. 

The memories of the chaos of sights, sounds and smells that enveloped you must be unbearable at times and I wish I could wipe them from you. I wish you could go forward without the burden of all these things that have undoubtedly changed you. But you can't. The damage is done. I wish we could sit down and drink it away. But we can't because more damage would be done than it would serve to help.

I will not presume to understand what the past year has been like for you. I know it has been further complicated by the inability to do what you love which is running, but what I do see is a strong woman who will mend on all fronts. That is not to say that you will be without vulnerabilities or bad days or setbacks, but it is to say that you will once again be mentally and physically strong. 

I look forward to the day you once again run that marathon with your head held high knowing that you are #BostonStrong. I will be cheering loud and proud from where ever I am. As I have known heart break and disaster through your eyes, so too will I know the thrill of victory as you cross the finish line as a survivor.

Thinking of you

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

No Amount of Beer will Help This...

The past few weeks I have been struggling with my emotions...well, really it has been most of my life, but the last three weeks or so have been particularly challenging. Actually, to be completely truthful, saying the problem has been my 'emotions' might lead you to believe that there are a 'variety' of feelings that I am challenged by. This is not the case. I have been struggling with one emotion and that is sadness. I have been really, really sad. Sad enough that the amount of running I have been doing hasn't been able to neutralize it and the voice calling to soothe it with beer...or wine...or tequila has been loud. Rest easy though, I have
not stepped foot in a bar or liquor store.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Looking the Part vs Performing the Part

This is my third week working with the ultra talented Rob Watson. So far I feel like I might be letting him down a bit. I am not ultra talented and hopefully the nice folks at the Ottawa Marathon forewarned him of my underwhelming ability as a runner.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Somewhere along the road, during the past 18 months I have drifted away from my authentic self when I write. I began blogging by throwing all my sh*t out on the table for the world to judge, dissect, embrace or dismiss. Initially, I cared a bit about who thought what, but I didn't do it for the approval or rejection of others. I did it as therapy for myself.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Patience vs. The Ego

Wait! What?!

This was my response when I read an email from Annie at the Ottawa Marathon.

The email invited me to be one of four runners to be coached by Canadian Marathoner Rob Watson, for the 2014 Ottawa Marathon.

Wait! What?! <is this a joke>

It seems as though my experience of being a recovering boozer and a runner, along with my blog highlighting these accounts caught the attention of the folks in Ottawa.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Re-Birth Day

Three years ago, today I had my last drink; 18 drinks to be accurate.

On January 15 2011, I twisted the cap off the last bottle of beer I intended to ever drink and I said goodbye to a constant and loyal companion. So what if that companion caused me trouble and complication? The drink was always there for me when I needed it, but because our relationship had changed over time I saw that it was necessary to end things. With a heart made heavy by doubt and uncertainty, I placed the last empty bottle on the kitchen counter with the 17 others that came before it and passed out for the last time.

 The days, weeks and months that followed that night took courage to live through. Remaining committed to sobriety wasn't a walk in the park, but as those days have passed and led to this day, it has gotten easier. I remember hating hearing those words from people "it will get easier", but they were right, they knew it wouldn't always be the "in the trenches", "tooth and nail" struggle it was initially.

Much has happened in three years. Sobriety and life are not mutually exclusive and as such, while I was busy being sober, life has happened. Three years ago, when I first quit drinking, I left home and went to a residential addiction treatment center, planning a 28 day stay. It was during this time that I attended the only two 'A.A.' meetings that I have ever been to. It was there that I learned that to remain sober, the only thing that had to change was everything. I should take this opportunity to share that I am a rehab drop out and did not even complete the first week of the program. I quit and came home, but I did not drink.

The notion that sobriety was dependent upon making changes to my entire existence, was overwhelming. There were so many fixed attributes to my life that couldn't just change and I felt resentment toward the idea.
As I look at what defined me 'then' and what defines me 'now', I have to admit, they were right again. Little of my life today is the same as it was three years ago. Sobriety and change are also not mutually exclusive. While I was busy staying sober, my life was remodeling itself, piece by piece, a bit at a time. My health has changed, my hobbies have changed, my hair color has changed, my diet has changed, some of my friends have changed and my job has changed.

The best change I made was deciding to pick up running again. This addition to my recovery plan was the foundation for building a new life that did not include alcohol. Through running I have discovered the best parts of myself. Parts of me that were being drowned by alcohol have buoyed to the surface and parts of me that I didn't know existed are flourishing. Running has allowed me purpose, has shown me that I am strong
and determined and has provided me an outlet for my obsessive personality. As running is to drinking, I am an 'all or nothing' kind of girl. When I drank, I was all in and as I run, it's all I want to do. Running is not something I do, it is who I am and it is not by talent that this is so. I don't run because I can do it the fastest or the farthest, I do it because I don't have to be either of those things to be able to call myself a runner.

Because I am sober and because I am a runner, I have come upon some opportunities within the running community that would not have been possible if beer were part of the equation. I have been a part of some pretty cool opportunities through iRun as a running blogger and Canada Running Series as a Digital Champion for Toronto Yonge Street 10k and the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

 A new opportunity was presented to me last week that overwhelmed the sober pants off of me. I can't wait to share this news with everyone, possibly as soon as later this week. I truly cannot believe all of the great things that have come to me, all because I am not a frequent flyer at the liquor store anymore. It's like positive reinforcement..."stay sober and good things will happen".

I am happy to think that during the year, I get to celebrate a birthday, like everyone else, but then I also get to celebrate a re-birth day. Thank you for joining me today as I observe my re-birth day and stay tuned for
whats's to come :)

Happy New Year and all the best in 2014!