Friday, January 29, 2010

The runner's perspective on carrying the Olympic Flame...

So, I already wrote all about my torch experience on The Evolution of Me, but there are a few other things I wanted to write about that are more appropriate to this blog.

I remember the torch relay from 1988. I remember it coming through Medicine Hat and thinking that the coolest thing ever would be to be a torchbearer. It was even cooler that I had an uncle who got to run with the torch. And, if memory serves me correctly, he ran with it a few times in more remote areas. He worked for Petro Canada, and he was a runner, so it was a perfect fit. But that was his life, not mine.

When the Olympics were announced as coming to Canada, I knew there would be a torch relay, and I just knew I wanted to be a part of it. After seeing the torch in 1988 and celebrating with those red mini torch candles, I just wanted to someday be a part of that. So, when it was announced you had to apply for it by committing to improving your community, being active, helping the environment etc, I knew it was only natural that I would write an essay about being a good example to my boys, and trying to inspire others. I think I managed to do both. Personally, in the last year, I went from having a baby, to becoming a better runner than I ever have been. It took a lot of training and dedication, but it paid off on race days. And, I got someone else inspired and running as well. Cindy, went from being a running drop out, to finishing three 5km races, two 10km races and a half marathon. And she's now planning out her race calendar for this year, and inspiring others as well. It's amazing the power we can have on one another when we support and encourage each other. I look forward to watching more friends become active and want to run.

The day I got the email saying I had been chosen I will never forget. It was an email from Coca Cola and my heart started racing. Then, I opened the email and it clicked to a link that played the Open Happiness song and said "Congratulations, you've been selected as a torchbearer" or something similar. I couldn't believe it. I was absolutely shocked and so super excited. And when I got the uniform in the mail, I immediately had to try it on. It really was real. We travelled to BC and soon I was in a room full of torchbearers. Looking around, everyone was so happy. It was a diverse group of young and old, men and women. And everyone was smiling. We were briefed and soon headed out to be dropped off at our part of the relay. There were huge stickers with our number on them. I was running along Island Road in Oliver BC.

After watching various videos and hearing stories, it was my turn to meet up with my family. I was so nervous. I think the last time I was nervous like that I was in a job interview or speaking in front of people. I was a bit surprised actually. The outfits are white because that is the colour of peace, and we wore the red mittens as a symbol of winter in Canada. I chatted with my family and then I began my part of the journey.

I remember the silence. We were on a scenic road in the middle of interior BC. And it was away from the highway and very quiet. When the RBC and Coke trucks went by, there was music but soon they passed, and then the media vehicle passed, and then I could see the runner who was passing off to me. My torch was turned on, and then I went into the middle of the road to meet him. You could hear the noise coming from the fuel burning in the torch. The torches don't even have to touch each other. Once they were close enough, the flame from his torch lit up my torch. And I could hear this, and the silence around me and no other sounds. I mean, my family cheered me on, but once I was on my way, I was struck by how quiet it actually was. It was so peaceful. I had my escort runner with me, but even he was in behind at first. So, it was just me, on this quiet Island Road. I was just awestruck. Eventually I chatted a bit with the escort runner. When it came time to meet up with the next runner, it was again such a special moment, as the flame was passed on. And then, he was on his way, and my torch was turned off and once again, there was that silence. It was so peaceful.

There are several moments in my running career that have blown me away. The energy at the start of any race. Finishing any race. But especially, finishing my first ever marathon (totally teared up). Finishing a marathon pregnant with my first child. Finishing a half marathon under two and a half hours. Finishing the Goofy Race (half marathon one day, full marathon the next). Finishing a 10km on Mother's Day in support of Neonatal Intensive Care while listening to the songs that mattered when my son was critically ill (totally cried at that finish line). Finishing a half marathon while pregnant with my second child with only 18 seconds to spare. Finishing a 10km under an hour (this actually made me cry!!), and then doing it again two weeks later (no fluke there!!). Finishing a half marathon in under 2:05. And each of these moments was incredible, yet none nearly as amazing as being a torchbearer and actually carrying the Olympic Flame. Even as I type this I am teary eyed. I can't believe I was able to be part of something so big and so much more than any one person. I just remember looking at my torch, all lit up and being in complete awe of the whole experience. This is by far the best moment I have ever had in my running career. I don't know that it can be topped. I don't know that I would want to top this. I can't stop thinking about it. And it is just inspiring me to want to do more. To inspire others. To help people who want to be active but don't know where to begin.

For now, I will continue to relive this experience and allow it to keep me inspired and excited about what the future holds. And I will keep on listening to that Cold Play song, Fix You, "lights will guide you home and ignite your bones". The world hasn't seen the best of me yet. And I think this experience can only push me to better myself and inspire others.

Next up I'm gearing up for the Mother's Day run. This will be my fifth year doing it. I have done it ever since I became a mom, even though the first year, I shouldn't have been a mom yet. The money they raise always goes to help Neonatal Intensive Care. It is a very emotional race for me. And this year, Cindy and I are inspiring some other moms to do it with us. I'm so excited to watch these ladies stretch their limits and try something new.

What inspires you?

Monday, January 11, 2010

A broken record...

So, I feel like a broken record. I'm just trying to find some motivation again. I have my big goal race in August, but not much more before that figured out yet. And, sometimes, when the big goal is just too big, it's important to break it down into smaller steps so things don't seem so overwhelming. By choosing some shorter races leading up to the big race, I have more immediate goals that seem more achievable. However, my lack of motivation hasn't been for nothing...

My husband is in the midst of his training, and for the first time since we've met, he's actually been consistent in working out and quite motivated. I think part of his motivation lies in the fact that he's getting ahead of me. So, in some ways I don't want to wreck that. I won't stop working out just so he can feel good, but I think being ahead of me, is really good for his psyche!!

However, the time has come to once again, get back on that proverbial horse and get exercising. I'm excited. Today I go to the trainer and that will certainly be a good catalyst to get moving again. And, with my first race possibly only a couple months away, I will get a plan down on paper, and once that happens, the world is mine. I'll take a picture of the poster I make and get to work on filling in the squares!!

The one good thing is, it doesn't matter how many times you have to get back on that horse, as long as you do. There's always tomorrow. And as long as you are willing to get moving, it's worth it. It doesn't matter if you miss a day, a week or a month, just get back to working out. Your body will thank you for it!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's in you to give...

Over the years, I have had a turbulant relationship with donating blood. I tried for the first time at age 16, and got all lightheaded part way through, so had to stop, being only a half successful donor. When I lived in Florida, I twice did well at the blood mobile, and got turned away once for low iron, and another time had to stop part way through for lightheadness again. Back in Canada, I went and again had the lightheaded fainting issue. So at that point they banned me for life. I was very sad about this, as it was a simple thing I could do, but for some reason, my body was just not cooperating.

I know why it wasn't though. I was deathly afraid of needles. Hated them. Didn't like the site of them, or anything. Not good. And anytime I had to have a needle, my heart would be racing in nervousness and anxiousness. So, as a result, anytime I tried to give blood, my body was on high alert.

In 2006, I was pregnant, and trying to figure out how on earth I was going to survive labour and delivery (back to that sort of fear of needles and really just pain in general). Those fears had to take a backseat when, on March 24th, I had to have an emergency c-section as my unborn child was very sick and likely not going to survive. So, I sucked it up, and somehow made it through the needle in the spine etc. He was born and immediately rushed to Neonatal Intensive care. Over the course of his hospital stay, he received several blood transfusions. In all, 12, from 9 different people. That's a lot of blood products for a baby that weighed only 1 pound 13ounces at birth. And it really sunk in, how important it is that people donate blood. I was determined once again to try.

I called up Canadian Blood Services and asked if I could try again, and they said sure. I went in, and was refused because I was breastfeeding. Subsequently, I chickened out, and soon was pregnant again. Needless to say, I only recently became eligible again, and started checking out dates and times of clinics. I really wanted to go to the one at Cardel, by our house though, and knew the date was fast approaching. I told my husband about it, and that I really wanted to try. He was supportive, but figured I'd pass out or something. I drank extra juice and made sure I was well hydrated before walking over there. I took along a book to read that was all feel good (The Book Of Awesome). I filled in the paperwork, got the finger poke, figuring I'd fail the iron test, but passed (yikes!!), went on to the questionaire and before I knew it, I was waiting to be poked. The nurse spent a bit finding my vein (they can be tricky sometimes), and soon enough, I was donating. I read my book, and was just giddy with happiness.

And a funny thing happened, I succeeded. I nearly started crying when they pulled the needle out. Not out of pain or anything, just so happy that I was able to do this. I was a bit nervous, but mostly over what might happen, not about the needle or anything. I wanted so badly to succeed. And I will go again. I'm excited. I will be successful again. Because it's important.

One donation can help up to three different people. That's three people who might not survive for one reason or another if they don't get a blood transfusion. As a parent of a child that was critically ill and the recipient of several blood transfusions, I will always be grateful to the strangers who took time out of their day to donate. Without them, he wouldn't be with us, and he's great. He's an incredible little four-year-old who is curious about everything and gives the best hugs. Thanks so much for donating. I will continue to donate so that others in the same situation will get what they need. If you can, please take the time to try, it's so worth it...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New year, new resolution?

So, it's that time of year again when people make up their resolutions. Many seem to revolve around weight loss, fitness, eating etc. And it's a great time to do that sort of thing. I'm a bit slow on the resolution thing this year. My motivation has been lacking and haven't really thought too much about it. Part of this stems from my stupid heel constantly hurting, but that's not a real excuse. So now I will think about it, because really, now is the time to work on personal development and improvement. So what do I want to change or resolve to do this year?

1. I know I have a couple races to concentrate on, including the big one, the Calgary Ironman 70.3. And really, most of my training will focus on preparing for that, while doing a few other triathlons and running races in the build up to it. I am excited for the Mother's Day Run. The money raised at that event buys specific equipment needed at the Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Calgary. So, that run, is challenging but also very personal since obviously we wouldn't have our son with us, had it not been for the doctors and nurses of the NICU!!

2. Aside from exercise, I am hoping to put in some serious effort decluttering our house. The biggest area to tackle is becoming kids toys. The amount we have seems to grow exponentially!! As well, if there's less clutter then perhaps cleaning won't be such a challenge!!

3. I am also hoping to only use my mug any time I go to Starbucks this year. I have a fantastic new mug (thanks Ryan and Kim), and hope that anytime I choose to get a Starbucks, that I bring it along, so that I'm not constantly adding to the landfill with papercups.

4. Paying down some debt. This past year was great, but the income was a little bit small since I was at home with the kids. So we managed to rack up some debt. Time to pay some of that off!!

5. Do something that scares me. Not exactly sure what that is. Maybe paragliding. Maybe open water swimming. Maybe taking a scuba course for the next time we are in a scuba diving area!! I'm not exactly sure what it might be, but something that makes me expand my mind and push my limits.

6. Make time for reading. I love to read but it always seems like everything else comes before reading. I barely get through an O Magazine before the next two issues have come out. And novels, I'm lucky if I read five in a year. I'm going back to work now though, and I know I will have some downtime, so hopefully the reading challenge will be an easy enough one to fit in!!

7. Work on journals for my boys. I have a beautiful one started for Sebastian, but aside from getting one for Sullivan, have put nothing in it. I want them to have a special book from their mom someday. With little bits of wisdom, songs to listen to, movies to watch, conversations to read through, fortunes etc, these books are an insight for them, into who their mom is, but they won't get much of an insight if I don't get working on them!!

8. Volunteer at some races. Every year we have been volunteering for the Calgary Marathon, but I would like to volunteer for at least one other race this year!! It's fun cheering on athletes while offering them water or gatorade or whatever!!

9. Complete a personal training course. I want to get some training so that I can properly help others. I have tons of experience with running, but now I need the credentials to back that up. So many people out there have dreams but are just lost on the steps to take to fulfill them. I want to help others take those steps and become the people they are striving to be.

10. watch less tv. I mean, I don't watch huge amounts of it, and I record the shows I want to watch, but I think it's time to cut out a few shows maybe and spend that time reading or playing with the boys!!

Wow, so I have a few ideas of things to improve upon. Good thing is, it's only the start of the year!! I have lots of time to work on them. Hopefully this inspires someone on the types of things they want to improve. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you are hoping to accomplish. Support from others goes a long way towards helping you achieve your goals, and I would certainly be a cheerleader rooting you on!!