What got me across the finish line of my first big race

As soon as I crossed the finish line of my very first half marathon I might have fallen over if my run friend, John, hadn’t been there to wrap me in a hug and hold me upright. It wasn’t because I was exhausted or hurting that I was dizzy all of a sudden: it was from the overwhelming shock at having achieved the goal I had set for myself. I swear he was almost as excited for my achievement as I was and there’s magic in that.

Maybe magic isn’t the right word, because there was nothing magical about the sweaty training runs I pushed myself to complete in the months leading up to the Valley Harvest. No magic in the bloody toes and definitely not a drop of magic in the chafing caused by my sports bra. So if not magic, what the hell was it that kept me moving forward since I registered in May?

Strength?

I have certainly noticed a difference in my physical abilities since embarking on my training journey. I can run faster and longer and more efficiently now. I complemented my running with strength training and yoga and I’m fitter than ever.

just run

Focus?

Ignoring the cars that honked without looking to see who was driving because I needed to get through the next kilometre or up the next hill without giving up. Carefully selected playlists. Specifically chosen socks and tanks depending on the weather and distance and even my mood.

Determination?

I set a goal to give me direction through a challenging time in my life and there was no way in hell I was going to stop. I ran through sweltering heat and humidity and even through chilly rain. I ran jet lagged and tired and hungry. I swallowed more flies than I can count and even took a few home stuck to my contact lenses. But I never stopped moving towards my goal.

Support and encouragement?

My run club and fitness friends encouraged me and my friends and family supported me without fully understanding why I was doing it to begin with. I ran with an international army of supporters cheering me on.

I’m still not sure what got me across the finish line except to say I must have had it in me all along. No one followed my training or coached me on the way. My run club gave me the initial push to set the goal but I reached it. There’s nothing magic about what got me there but I think there’s magic in what I discovered along the way.

I realized that making the decision to start on a difficult path is the hardest part of the journey. Every step I took in training prepared me to enjoy every step of that race. Every beat of my heart reminded me that I’m living the life I choose to live and I’m heading in the direction I want to move in. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.

Running. First, you feel like dying. Then, you feel reborn.

I’ve found friends I didn’t know I needed. I discovered abilities within myself I never knew I existed. I have uncovered thoughts and feelings and ambitions that were hiding for years. I found a happiness and peace on the roads of San Diego and Cape Breton and right here at home that have allowed me to inhale a new life and exhale the past.

Maybe there is magic in that.

 

 

 

What next?

I just typed out a powerful and emotional blog post for you all and something flashed on my screen and it’s gone. All that was left was my working title What’s Next? I could cry in frustration but instead I’ll move forward. Because that’s what we do.

I’m a #goaldigger and that means I’m usually working towards something and I’m a force to be reckoned with when I’ve got my sights set on something. I’m driven and motivated to do better and be better.

I set a goal of running a half marathon. I made a plan and I followed a training schedule and on Sunday morning after 2hours 3minutes and 13seconds I crossed that finish line with a smile. I started a 12 week program with the Kilted Coaches to clean up my nutrition and improve my fitness. It’s week 11 and I feel better than ever. I drink more water and eat more protein than I ever have in my life and I even did 420 lunges one day.

I decided to commemorate my first half marathon with a tattoo of mountains. They remind me of the west coast beauties I left behind when I left my marriage, but they also remind me to keep climbing. I can climb whatever mountain life puts in my path and I’m facing some pretty steep elevations these days, folks. But just like I told myself during those last few kilometres to the finish line: keep moving forward.

finishline

So what next?

I ran the race. I’m done with Coach Rab and Coach Stephen next week. Keep moving forward. I’ll sign up for another race and I’ll set a new strength goal. I’ll keep drinking water, eating tons of protein and fibre and I’ll even work on cutting back on coffee. I will keep climbing.

I’ve heard some folks tell me recently that I’ve inspired them to recommit to their own fitness and that fuels me to keep putting one foot in front of the other even though I can’t see the road in front of me right now. It’s so damn foggy out there with support payments and dividing assets and doing what’s in the best interests of the kids and trusting my gut. Some days I feel like I keep climbing with no peak in sight but I need to keep climbing. I have no other choice because that’s what we do: we keep moving forward.

So, I’m not sure what’s next, but I know that the view from the top of the mountain (whenever I get there) will be worth every single step.

 

If you are struggling to keep moving forward please visit  http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/ Your life is worth living and you deserve to enjoy the view from the top. 

Why it’s awesome when things don’t go as planned

I’m an event planner and a recovering perfectionist so having things go according to plan is kinda my jam. I’ve done a lot of self-growth work over the last number of years, especially over the last 9 months, and I’m done with jam, (too high in sugar anyway.)

Tomorrow is one of my favourite days of the year: Falmouth TrALE Run day! I work on this event hosted by my bestie, Kathy of Fitness Junkies ,and this is our third year working together on this project and I love it more and more. I love it because the people involved are some of the best people I know, but also because it’s about having fun with friends, supporting local businesses, and getting outside and taking a moment to really enjoy life.

Today the plan was for me to join Kathy for a run of the trails at Castle Frederick Farms and get the safety marking done, and maybe catch up on each other’s lives outside of running our mini-empires. PLOT TWIST! It was piss pouring rain and looks like it’s going to be a seriously wet day so the plan needed to be adjusted. plottwist

You know what? Adjusting the plan is ok…I didn’t even feel that old rush of panic set in so I must be making progress! Kathy will go out later this afternoon or we’ll hit the trail earlier tomorrow. No big deal and that’s why this is a huge deal! I know my mother will read this and will remember back to my days as a student when I’d flip out over anything and everything not going perfectly. I have come a long way and seeing that growth is a great feeling, but it’s also motivation to keep going.

Life rarely goes the way we expect it to and our frustration and disappoint comes from this idea we have of how things should be. I’m learning to stop shoulding myself because it’s a ridiculous notion to hold myself responsible for being able to predict the future. The best things about my life are those that I never imagined would happen: starting a business, becoming a runner, being a single mom, or writing this post on the rainy day before an outdoor event.

 

my entire life can be described in one sentence_

There’s magic in not being able to know what’s going to happen next and being at peace with that because I have confidence that I can handle whatever comes next. So, even if it rains tomorrow on TrALE Run day, I’ll put my rubber boots and raincoat on and my crew of TrALErs will still have a great time!

 

Give me all the triathlons!

Tomorrow is the big day for our girl, Erin, and for so many others taking on the first Keji Multisport Festival and Women’s Only Triathlon and I can feel excitement while sitting at my desk typing this post. I asked Erin for some final thoughts and her texts are full of extra exclamation marks this morning!

A transformation has been taking place since I started working on this project. I have been learning about a new sport, meeting new people, but by far the most amazing thing is to watch my friend set a new goal and work her butt off to reach it.  It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Ms. Bremner already has a goal in mind for after this event…and she hasn’t even left for Kejimkujik yet!!!

I’ve heard rumours that there’s quite the triathlon training group growing in the Hants County area which was born from this event. This transformation is spreading: Erin has gathered a group of other inspiring and motivated women around her.  These ladies embody the spirit of what I believe the Keji Multisport Festival aimed to create.  Women ARE being encouraged and empowered to pursue outdoor endurance sports while enjoying the beauty of our natural surroundings. There’s magic in that idea and there’s magic in these faces.

Triathletes

The women in this picture ARE at the centre of something big and important: they are shining examples of the strength and power women have can awaken in each other. They have supported each other in doing something physically and mentally difficult. They have shown their families and friends that a woman with a goal is a force to be reckoned with.

I am so damned proud of these women and not proud in an ownership way like when you show off that amazing painting you just did while dizzy on wine at PaintNite, but in a way where you are truly excited to witness a fellow human being do something amazing.  I understand the struggle of swimming and I’ve never even been tangled in eel grass so I can imagine Erin’s joy and satisfaction in working her butt off and seeing improvement.

Erin and her girls are packing up the camper and will be headed to Keji this afternoon and I wish them and everyone else participating in the Keji Multisport Festival and Women’s Only Triathlon the best of luck. Erin joked that next year she might even put her face in the water, but her determination this year has been inspiring to watch. Inspiring enough to have me wondering if I might find myself dipping my toes in the water of a new sport…

 

Running makes life Worth Living

One of my Facebook memories for today came from 2011 when I ran my first Greenboro Run Club 5k practice run in 35 minutes. I feel like I’ve come a long way since that day, in more ways than just my pace.

When I reflect on the last 7 years I realize I’ve experienced a miscarriage, carried and birthed a baby boy, 4 cross-country moves, watched my stepkids graduate from high school, sent two little kids off to school, started a business, made new friends and reunited with old ones, and transformed my life into something new and exciting. One thing that has been constant throughout all of this change is running.

I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I once failed a math test in Grade 5 and my perfectionist nature got the better of me and I couldn’t cope: I cried myself into a migraine and went home from school sick. That fact that I remember the test was on percentages and was printed on blue paper shows how deep an impact it had. I’ve been through several rounds of counseling and I’ve taken medication. I’ve read all the books and even consulted with alternative therapists. I’ve learned to really tune into who I am and what sets me off.

I struggled with the darkness that loomed overhead for a majority of my life and running has cleared the clouds for me. I look back on the last 7 years and am so thankful for the freedom each step has allowed me to experience. I find myself a little more each time I lace up and hit the trail. Each run is a cathartic experience for me and I release the negativity and anxiety with each bead of sweat. I push up the hills and across finish lines with a new sense of the person I’m becoming.

A few days ago my mom asked me, with a note of disbelief in her voice, if I truly enjoy running.

YES!YES!YES!

Running is my therapy these days. I run outside and breathe the fresh air and feel the sun on my skin and the earth beneath my feet. I can think about everything or absolutely nothing! I listen to music that inspires my pace and I push myself to reach new goals and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other because that’s what life is, isn’t it? Getting up each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. Always moving forward.

One of those goals is to run the half marathon at the Valley Harvest Marathon on October 7th this year. It will be an important 21.2k for me as I have chosen to wear the Worth Living logo on my running singlet. I’ve joined this organization as a Run Ambassador to help promote mental health and to remind everyone that every life is worth living. Especially yours. Especially mine.

Untitled design (5)

Every step I take will be a reminder that I lost a pregnancy and survived. That I wandered in the darkness but found the sun. That I’ve struggled with anxiety but I’m excited for what comes next. Every step I take reminds me of how good it feels to be moving forward. Every step is worth taking just like every life is worth living.

What makes your life worth living?

Are you interested in joining the Worth Living Run Ambassadors for an upcoming race? Visit http://worthliving.co/wl-run-ambassadors/ 

 

 

Getting tangled in eel grass. Highway traffic that’s too close for comfort. A few missed training days.

There are plenty of reasons for Erin to halt her journey towards the Keji Women’s Triathlon but nothing is going to stop this gal! I checked in with her last night and like always, my conversation with her left me laughing and inspired and cheering her on louder than ever.

She got her wet suit and she’s getting more comfortable with open water swims. But that’s not what I want to focus on. The bring. it. on. attitude just oozes from her pores. She set a goal and she’s determined to reach it, come hell or eel grass. I’m not the only one in awe of her dedication, either.

If you’re a parent you probably know that immense pride you feel when your kid does something amazing. That feeling that wells up inside and it feels like you might burst into an ugly cry of happiness at any moment? Now imagine that your mom or dad is feeling that way about you right now. I strongly suspect Mr Bremner is one helluva proud papa watching his girl swim Lake Pisiquid and cycle around Hants County.  Rumour has it he even followed her on her cycling route in his truck. Is your heart full yet?

This is what I love about fitness and sport.

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.

The Keji Women’s Triathlon is not just about women swimming then biking then running. It’s about moms prioritizing their fitness and teaching their children to pursue goals. It’s about daughters showing their strength and confidence. It’s about friends encouraging each other to do difficult things.

Erin’s always been a bit of a character but I feel like I’ve had the privilege to bear witness to her true character throughout this triathlon training experience. I’ve listened to her express her fears while watching her actively work to conquer them. I’ve run behind her cycling, pushing myself to catch up only to find her waiting for me at the crest of a challenging hill. She tags me in her workout posts so I can share in her training victories. This is her true character: she loves and lives and wants everyone right there with her.

We’re two weeks out from the big event and this girl is going to crush it! Erin: so many of us are so proud of you! Thank you for continuing to share your experience with us.

 

 

Check out the Keji Multisport Festival and Triathlon:

https://raceroster.com/events/2018/16098/keji-multisport-festival-keji-womens-triathlon

 

 

 

 

Why you need to follow the rules!

I get inspired at the weirdest times and last night was one of those times. Actually, it was this morning at 1:44am when I wrapped up my weekly coaching call with the Kilted Coaches. I hung up from the boys and carried on an ongoing conversation with an MMA fighter I recently connected with who’s out on the west coast at the moment (stay tuned for a chat with him, by the way). Our chat led to me tuning into an episode of The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes podcast which discussed how to avoid anxiety and burnout.

I was exhausted but inspired by my late night/early morning session but I resisted the urge to hop out of bed and type out this post. Why did I set an alarm to write it this afternoon instead of doing it when inspiration hit? It all comes down to rules. I’m a law abiding citizen and was always a good girl in school, but those aren’t the rules I’m talking about (although I am strongly suggesting you obey the laws wherever you live!) I’m talking about setting rules for your life and sticking to them.

When I decided to separate from my husband I wrote some rules to keep me focused and guide me through this difficult process: rules like no trash talking on Facebook, consider the best interests of the kids when making decisions, make time for myself and my goals a priority, stay positive, not feeling guilty for making the choices I make…get it? In this episode of his podcast, Lewis Howes suggested setting rules for your health and fitness, too. Some of his rules are making your bed, setting a wake up and go to bed time, making a daily workout non-negotiable. That got me thinking about how it really is important to create rules and stick to them.

Think about the most successful people you know.

Their success is no fluke. They set up routines and systems and habits that they stick to because they provide direction and guidance and they work! In training for a half marathon I can’t just go out and run whenever I feel like it for random amounts of time or random distances. Every runner knows you need to find a program and stick to it!

I’m hearing the Kilted Coaches tell me to “stick to the damn plan” right now as I type this (it’s ok that I hear voices in this instance) and it’s so simple but we ignore the value of following rules and following a plan so often and that’s where we encounter doubt and uncertainty and get knocked off-track!

I encourage you to sit down and set a few rules for yourself RIGHT NOW! Set them then follow them, maybe even print them out and post them by your bed or in your office and let me know what changes in your life as a result.

 

creativity is Intelligence having funHere are my current daily rules but know that this list will grow and change as my goals shift!