Monday, October 5, 2015

I Signed Up For A Marathon… Then Quit

(An explanation, featuring all the times I truly loved running)

I signed up for a marathon a year in advance thinking it would give me lots of time to wrap my head around the idea of running this distance as well as lots of time to train. A year later (and two weeks out from the race) I no longer have a marathon in my sights. Weeks ago I dropped down to the half and I’m not even fully ready to run that.

So, what happened?

A few things. I got physically sick and fell a little behind in my training. Then I started suffering from depression and could barely get out of bed, let alone run. Then, I found my heart just wasn’t in it.

I thought I had to take my running game to a new level with faster speeds and further distances. I thought that all the blogs I followed were inspiring me, but I think they were making me feel like I needed to compete… and that’s not the fault of the blogs. That’s my own nature.

It makes me feel incredibly sad to admit I’ve fallen out of love with running. Too much structure turned running into a chore instead of being something that made me feel free.
I want my freedom back.

I’m going to run this last race and think about 2016. I’m going to think about what I want to get from running and what will make me happy. I’m going to read the blogs of those I admire and be excited for their accomplishments while keeping my own goals and feelings in check.

As a runner I’m going to work on growing my mental game and see how that affects me physically.

I’m going to run for me. I’m going to be proud of me

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hello, October (I'm Back)

Hello, October.

After a long hiatus I’m back. After struggling horribly with my depression and finding a lack of motivation and inspiration because of it, I’ve started to take a long look at how I’m living my life.

The short story is that I need to do things and write about things that make me happy and I enjoy, and all of the things that define who I truly am.

I’ve started volunteering more, I’ve started adding in runs where I don’t track time, distance, or speed, and I’ve started opening up my eyes and my mind to things I never considered trying before. Hey, I even agreed to go camping (IN A TENT) this summer - something I swore to my boyfriend I would never do.

I think my blog is going to be moving in another direction, one that feels more natural and personal. I’ve laid out a few goals for myself this month to match these changes I’m going through:

  • go hiking at least twice
  • be more mindful, make more time to journal
  • work on my spending/saving habits
  • do something nice for someone else

What are you looking forward to in October? 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Struggling with Depression

Lately my depression has become intense. I haven't been this low since I was first officially diagnosed in 2009 and I'm really struggling.

Over the last six years my depression was manageable. I could usually fight my way out of the darkness and had a variety of techniques that I knew worked. Unfortunately they're not working anymore.

I feel lost. I've been research new ways to combat my depression but in the back of my mind I have a feeling I'm going to have to return to medication. I have nothing against taking medication for depression - I know many people that are on anti-depressants and I spent a year on them at the beginning of my diagnosis - but I almost feel disappointed in myself that after all this time I'm starting to lose my fight.

This explains why I haven't been blogging (I haven't even been reading my favourite blogs). My marathon training has taken a backseat. I'm constantly tired and anxious. I always have this horrible gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. Everything I do feels like it takes so much more effort that it should.

Right now, I'm not me. When I am I'll be back but for now I need to heal.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Humidity Woes & Breakfast Salad

Surprisingly back in the winter I was much more dedicated to working out than I am now.  I was getting up early before work, I was doing really well with staying away from all those things I’m constantly trying to cut from my diet now, and I was getting tons of sleep. Needless to say I have not been as dedicated lately, but I did get out for another easy trail run this week.

It was so humid so it looks like I worked much harder than I did. Seriously, all of that sweat came from four easy kilometers.

Of course this guy joined me again.

I don’t know if he’s sad or that he knows I’m feeling down lately, but I’m loving all the puppy cuddles that have been happening.

Also, apparently "breakfast salad" is a thing and I love the concept. All week I’ve been creating my own. It’s pretty plain but I’ve been obsessed with topping raw baby spinach and turkey bacon with two eggs. So amazingly simple but satisfying. 

Can I proclaim once more than I am awful at blogging? I took my boyfriend, Michael, and our dog with me on a hike yesterday and I didn't take any pictures until right at the end when we were cooling off in the water. 

I really want to try this hiking trail again. We hiked less than 7 kilometers but it was so tough! Maybe when it's less humid we'll try hiking further in.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada day! 

I'm typing this on my phone because this is my current view:

It's 9PM and I'm in bed watching What Women Want on Netflix because I really want to get to the gym early tomorrow before work, but mostly because as soon as the fireworks start going off this puppy is going to lose his mind. 

I wish I could credit for this photo but it's all my sister:

For the second year in a row my boyfriend and I went to a Jay's game for Canada Day. 

Good news: The Jays beat the Red Sox!
Better news: I got to devour a ballpark hot dog!

Besides the Home Opener this has got to be the best game of the season. Between the amazing show of Canadian patriotism and the excitement of the sold-out crowd, you can't help but get lost in the atmosphere.

Today was one of those days where you eat junk, you don't exercise, and you in now way benefit your physical health, but your mental health takes a huge boost. Tomorrow I'll avoid the sugar and fit in a workout, but today I'm fighting against depression in a different way.

I hope you had an amazing Canada Day (or an amazing typical Wednesday).

Monday, June 29, 2015

Marathon Training - Week Eight (Here We Go, Again)

Happiest Monday to you!

Slowing but surely my mood is lifting and the depression is lessening. Despite having a grey, rainy weekend I felt content instead of miserable and sleepy, which can happen when I’m struggling with my depression. I am hopeful.

Week past:

I didn’t really talk about it last week but I obviously have cut my distance down. I had originally had drawn out a very slow climb from the half to full marathon distance and was happy with that until I was forced to take a few weeks off. I’m still doing (what I think is) a slow build to the full distance and I’m working up from 18K.

18K was a perfect distance to get myself back into running longer distances, and although it sucks to bring myself back down, it’s exactly what I need.

I wasn’t about to do 18K on a treadmill so I went on one of the wettest runs I have ever done. Not only were my clothes soaked but there were stretches of sidewalk where puddles were completely unavoidable. I ran with wet, heavy shoes for over two hours and gained three blisters. I almost never blister so you can bet I was whining like a baby.

My IT band was extremely sore so I massaged it out and iced it last night. It feels so much better but I’m going to fit in some easy yoga tonight just to be safe.

Week ahead:

Here is my tentative plan for the week. Wednesday is Canada Day and my boyfriend and I have tickets for the Jays game so I’m going to try my hardest to fit a workout in before we have to make our way into Toronto. No promises.

Easy run, arms & abs
Speed training
Full body
LSR (20K)

Full disclosure: I’m also planning on devouring the biggest ballpark hot dog I can find.

Do you like to workout on holidays or are they automatic rest days?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Furriest Training Partner

Huge news: I’ve actually been active this week!

For a while my body was physically capable of running and then between getting sick, the death of our family, and my general mood, my heart wasn’t in it. Lately I’ve been struggling with my depression and it’s been difficult to want to do much besides lie in bed and power-watch Suits.

On Monday I finally committed to a short run with some trails near my house. It was a humid, difficult run, but I took my dog and (besides the Nike run) it was the first time I felt like myself in a long time.

I usually prefer to train alone but I think I’m taking on a new, furry training partner.

I also fit in a workout yesterday before work. I went to the gym and did some cycling and leg work. I jumped into it like I hadn’t had a three/four week break and that was a huge mistake I’m paying for today. I’m so sore but mentally I feel more clear.

I thought about fitting in an early workout this morning but I think I made the right decision last night by setting a later alarm. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and not overwhelming myself. I really don’t want to send myself back into a place where I feel stressed and anxious, and with little motivation for anything. Plus, I went to volleyball this evening and running through that sand with my sore leg muscles was enough of a workout for me.

I’ve planned for a LSR this Sunday to get back into marathon training. I’ve decided to re-work my training schedule and I’m going to try to climb about 2K/week starting with 18K. I’m also going to easing back into focusing on nutrition. My food choices have definitely not been ideal lately, but the last thing I want to do is deprive myself.

It’s funny how all of the things that can lead you to be physically healthy can have a strong negative effect on you mentally if you’re not careful. It's a struggle for me, at least.

How do you bring yourself out of a slump?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Update & Nike Run Pictures

My current state of mind is not what I want it to be. 

For years I've struggled with depression and it's had different effects on my life. In high school I was lucky to get a university acceptance letter. In my second semester my depression became horrible, I lost all motivation for school, and my grades didn't slip -- they plummeted. I was lucky to have a strong first semester and the ability to pull them up just at the end (with the help of medication) to squeak into school. 

Now, I just want to sleep. After being sick and losing our furry family member I've found it hard to bounce back. I'm constantly tired and just wanting to sleep. I've fallen three assignments behind in one of my accounting courses (thankfully due dates are just guidelines and as long as I have all of them in by the course end-date I will pass) and instead of feeling motivated to get them done I need feel like I'm being crippled with anxiety. 

Besides the Nike run and beach volleyball, I haven't been able to find the motivation to workout or run and it's weighing heavily on me. I know once I pull myself back into a routine that exercise will drastically improve my depression but beginning it is a struggle. 

I think I'm slowly coming back, though. I knocked out two assignments on Friday night and I'm working on two more to put me ahead. I skipped my long run this morning but I think I'm going to go a short one this afternoon, and move my long run to Wednesday morning. Yesterday I spent most of my day out of my house, away from my bed, and my mood greatly improved. This week I'm going to take my life one day at a time and continue to try to rise out of my depressed state. 

In the meantime, here's a few pictures from the Nike run. One, I love that they were free and Two, the smile on my face while running gives me hope. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nike Toronto 15K Recap

Nike held one of their legendary races in Toronto and my entire experience was absolutely incredible. Seriously, after my experience I would 100% recommend a Nike event to anyone who asked. It was a 15K run so I was really curious to see how I would like the distance.

Let me throw this out there: the race was $120. I have never spent this much on a race but it was definitely worth it. They had paid staff working the event (there may have been volunteers but one person I spoke to specifically mentioned it was hard not to spend the money she was making this weekend on all the gear they had at the event), the atmosphere was so upbeat and everything you would expect from Nike, they held free events over the weekend (Lakey Peterson was even there leading a fitness class!), the race medal is actually a Tiffany’s necklace, and because Toronto’s race was actually held on Toronto Island it covered the cost of your ferry both ways.

Race Kit/Expo:
I picked mine up at the expo but they actually held pick-up opportunities at various locations around Toronto for those that couldn’t make it downtown on the weekend. I think that having that option is a great idea. In your kit you received your race shirt, ferry ticket, a wristband with your wave on it, and a course map.

The expo was incredible. They brought so many products with them and I somehow narrowed it down to a singlet, a pair of capris, and a tank top when I had so much more great stuff in my arms. They also had running analyses happening, so many picture opportunities with tons of great motivational sayings.

They were also renting out shoes! One of the staff members convinced me to trade in my flip-flops and ID and walk around in a pair of their shoes for a couple of hours. I just walked for a little bit but tons of people were literally running around trying them out. I tried the Fly Knit Zooms and fell in love so hard that I went back inside and bought a pair.

Race Day:
My mom and I took the GO train into Toronto to catch the ferry. Ferries were leaving starting around 6AM but our Ferry ticket was for 8AM and the earliest train got us there just in time. Everything about the ferry process was flawless and we had no problems getting onto the island. On our way to the baggage check-in they had so many things to look at. They had a variety of food trucks that were already selling food around 9AM and more opportunities for pictures. They even had staff station to take your photo on your own phone for you. Since my mom and I were in a later wave I took advantage of that.

The rain was starting to spit as we checked in our bags so the staff at the baggage tent starting handing out clear disposable rain ponchos. I had brought a garbage bag just in case but this was so much better. It even had a hood! Thanks, Nike!

The rain cleared up before our wave left but it started again around kilometer 10. I almost wished it had rained the whole time because the humidity was really hard on me. Before the race I hadn’t run or exercised in any way since before I was sick… almost three weeks ago! I knew it was going to be difficult but I didn’t realize how much of my endurance I had lost. My legs felt like they could go forever but my chest was where the struggle was happening.

Otherwise the course was amazing. The was the first time I’ve run a race on Toronto Island and it was incredible. Some parts of the course were a little tight but not unbearable if you weren’t looking to PR. It was also cool to get to run on the tarmac at Billy Bishop Airport, then through some foliage, then past some really cute houses on the island, and then along the boardwalk just before the finish line.

I started doing 10:1 and it took me 1:52:02 to run the 15K race. I was so tired and I had painful chafing happening under my arm but when I saw that little blue box all of my struggles melted away. I would run 15K in the pouring rain any day for Tiffany’s.

Overall, 15K was really fun to run. I didn’t feel completely drained like I do after a half, but being longer than a 10K was a fun challenger to try to pace myself to. I’d be interested in trying different race lengths besides the traditional 5, 10, 21.1, or 42.2.

My mom had to catch a VIA train from Oshawa at 4PM or else we would have liked to stay and keep checking everything out even in the rain. Despite a huge line we only had to wait for one ferry to leave us before we were able to board. If you didn’t mind paying the water taxis were also running.

If Nike decides to come back to Toronto I will definitely run it again. I’m also interested in seeing where they hold their 2016 races because I loved it so much I would be willing to travel to take place in one of their events again.

Have you ever participated in a Nike run? What has been your favourite race to date?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rapid Fire Friday III

Found these at the Farmer’s Market before work -- so happy they’re back in season!

Most humid night for volleyball ever.

Also super dirty after volleyball.

Sick of omelettes but never eggs.

Really missing this guy.

I miss living in Ottawa and having the sassiest mayor ever.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Loss of a Furry Loved One

Last night, Tuesday, June 9th, around 11pm my mom was knocking at my bedroom door. Our family dog, Hunter, had pooped in our hallway and was acting strange. At first I thought he was just feeling a little off and was acting weird because he never has accidents in the house (we got him at 12 weeks old and now that he was just shy of 11 years old I could count how many times he had an accident inside on one hand). After vomiting his entire dinner he started to lose balance and wasn’t steady on his feet. Eventually he slowly was able to climb onto my mom’s bed where he eventually lost all ability to move his back legs. He then lost control of his bowels completely. He definitely was not okay.

Within an hour my dog had gone from perfectly normal to obviously distressed and seriously ill. At over 75 pounds my mom, sister and I had no idea how we were going to lift him from her bedroom, down a few stairs, and into the car. My boyfriend, Michael, ended up coming over and carrying him out for us.

Because we Hunter was taking up two spots in the backseat of the car I asked my boyfriend to drive my mom and sister with Hunter to the emergency vet clinic. I pet Hunter, I told him what a good boy he was and how much I loved him. Once they left I knew I wouldn’t see Hunter again.

I sat with my other dog at home and waited for my family to come back. I’m glad I sent my boyfriend because he had to do most of the talking with the vet because my mom and sister were so distressed. I also knew that because they were going to have to put our dog down that he would be able to handle the situation and drive them home.

I am so thankful to have such an amazing person in my life. I don’t know many people that would drop what they are doing, get urine and feces on them to lift a lanky, 75-pound dog, and sit with two crying women in a waiting room past midnight. He was so patient and kind to my family, and I will forever be grateful he was able to be there for us all.

Hunter was an incredible dog. My sister and I would refer to him as our brother, and I’m not being cliche when I say he was a family member. He was there through good times, and he was there through times of sickness, heartbreak, divorce, struggles with depression, and so many more. Living in a house with three women he had his nails painted and wore holiday costumes, yet we still called him the man of the house.

Hunter typically didn’t like men. I knew Michael was a keeper the first time he came over and Hunter was all over him. Over the past four years Hunter and Michael have probably spent more time cuddling than Michael and I have.

Hunter loved to howl, run, and swim. He loved his morning piece of toast, dog biscuits every time he came in from the outdoors, and sleeping in a pile of pillows. Hunter had the most beautiful ears that felt like velvet and he loved being scratched behind them. He hated having his nails cut so they usually grew really long before we did anything with them, and we lovingly referred to them as his “witch nails.” He howled at everyone we passed during walks or at the dog park, and he usually got a howl in return.

The last time I took him to the dog park, just a few weeks ago, I was asked how old he was.

“Almost 11.” I replied proudly. His bones were a little stiffer and his had some white around his face that was new, but he still moved like a young pup. No one ever believed he was that old.

When I came home from work yesterday Hunter was running along the fence like howling at the neighbours’ dog like he always did. He ate all of his dinner like he always did. He cuddled with me and enjoyed some ear scratches while I watched Netflix like he always did. He went outside one final time before bed and howled to come back in like he always did. If someone had come to me 30 minutes before it all happened and told me what was in store I would not have believed them.

I think that’s what makes this so hard. I always thought we would look into his old eyes and see that he was in pain and know it was time to put him down. I thought it would be a slow progression over time.

Dogs are a lot of responsibility but the hardest part of owning one will always be the end. You don’t remember how much poop you picked up, or how much they whined, or what they chewed over the years. You will look into their loving eyes and see all of the good times you had, and all the times they loved you unconditionally, and in that moment you will really want to invest all of your life savings into trying to heal them, but you will know the most humane thing to do is let them go and it will break your heart

As sad as I am today, having Hunter in our lives was completely worth it. Without him our family won’t really feel complete but the unconditional love he gave us over the years taught us about patience, kindness, love, and survival. All I hope is that he knew that he was so loved and cherished and when he slipped away he was at peace.

No questions. Go hug something furry (or slimy or scaly, whatever has your heart) for me.