Race Report, Racing, Travel

NYC, take 2.

What a difference 1 week makes.

It’s a day off here, and I’ve just returned from a light trail run with Will. This exact time last week, I was lying on an airport floor, with swollen legs and and tired eyes.

I think my legs felt better on that airport floor than they do today. That’s normal, right?

I’m not much for race reports these days, but I figure 1 marathon every 9 year gets itself a nod.

Highlights (in no particular order…)

  • It’s New York City! Duh.
  • Surprising my brother with the arrival of his best friend – see, we *can* keep secrets!
  • The food. Oh, the food. All of it.
  • Cheering Nick + Steph in their 20,000+ runners 5k!
  • Citibikes. These things made getting around easy and oh, so fun. Dangerously fun.
  • Spending good times with my brother and sister-in-law, who ran the marathon in her imagination and crushed it.
  • On that note, Stephanie wearing my medal and reaping the rewards that came with it (champagne, anyone?) made those 42.4kms completely worth it.
  • The noise. The endless, ceaseless noise that I both loved and made me appreciate my quiet country home all the more.
  • Sitting around on Staten Island, 3 hours before my start or so, watching the German runners enjoy a lung-expanding cigarette, pre-race.
  • Despite the aforementioned 3 hours, almost missing my start. I blame Janet.
  • All of those completely random moments and encounters that happen when you take a trip and make zero plans (with the exception, in this case, of running a marathon).
  • Seeing my crew out on the race course – being able to pick them out of a crowd of literally 1 million people for a high five? Amazing. Bobby, you’re an amazing guide.
  • Getting stuck on the other side of Central Park post-race turned out to be a highlight, too. 1 friendly cop + 1 citybike + 1 foil blanket made for a highly entertaining bike ride on tired legs.
  • Parking that same bike and walking into the restaurant to cheers from my friends, which led to cheers from everyone. It was both embarrassing and awesome. Because, come on.
  • The feeling that everyone in this enormous city is behind this event.
  • I’ve probably left out 47 highlights that I’ll remember at 3am.

 

The race itself, the raison d’être for this whirlwind trip, was unexpectedly, well… amazing. I came into it with low expectations, that’s for sure. I wanted to beat my pregnant time of ’09 (4:14 or so?), and have fun.

Before we even started, I think I had the fun portion pretty dialled. My training had been minimalist (that’s a nice term for short AF), but I got to the start line with no aches and pains, and a plan to eat a lot. That was it.

My train of thought for the entire duration of the race was summed up as: “Hmm. This feels too easy. Should I be worried? This pace seems fast. But it doesn’t hurt. So, now what? Ok. Eat. I’ll eat. High fives to that guy, that kid, that granny. I still feel good. WTF is going on? Am I going to hit the wall? If I hit a wall, Liz is going to roll her eyes so hard. Shiiit.”

And on and on these thoughts swirled. Yet, I never hit that infamous marathon wall. I ran under a banner at mile 22 that literally said “THIS IS THE WALL”… and, nothing. In fact, I kind of sped up. I guess I just wanted to be done and savour that beer.

I crossed the line with a big smile, a time of 3:35 and a feeling of ‘mission accomplished’.

What’s with the Texas                        Longhorns?!

Lowlight

  • Getting sick when we got to NYC sucked. But I think it sucked more for my friends because I guess I could sleep through all my own snoring and also, Sudafed got me to that start line.
  • That’s literally the only lowlight.

I won’t run another (road) marathon for a long while, I don’t think. This one has my heart, for sure.

So, on that note. Boston 2020, what’s your city bike situation like?

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Family

Six.

I start to hold my breath at the end of August until September 10th passes. When the anniversary of my mother’s death finally comes, I exhale bit by bit and sink into grief that still, 6 years on, can bubble to the surface unexpectedly.

Good or bad, I’ve created a bit of tradition for myself by writing about this time in our lives every year on this date. I make myself re-read old posts, I look at pictures. I dwell.

11 years ago. The blink of an eye.

This year, I won’t be surrounded by my 3 little pillars of support. I’ll be across the world, meeting new people, taking on new challenges. I can only imagine how excited Mum would’ve been for me, how anxious she’d have been for news of my travels (I think I’ve inherited a little bit of her travel nerves). Yesterday, as I dozed for hours on the plane, I could think of little else but her. I was consumed by memories, drifting in and out of dreams that felt all too real. I woke up more than once in tears.

There’s so little I can say about how much I still miss her. How often I think of her.

But as more time passes, there are days where she doesn’t cross my mind. I hate admitting that. Maybe that’s where that stupid saying “time heals all” comes from. One’s ability to move on from the really hard things. I don’t want to forget. The thought of those fading memories is terrifying. What makes me saddest is that she can’t be with us as our family grows and evolves, knowing how proud she would have been. She was a true matriarch.

I will forever be grateful for the time we spent together before she died, but there are so many things I wish I’d told her before she left us. Things I wish I’d asked her. Taken more pictures. It may be one of the only things I regret in my life.

Mum, know that we are doing our very best to honour your memory. Today and every day.

One. 

Two.

Three.

Four.

Five.

 

Random

Boredom begets boring

It’s about 2:30 in the afternoon. It’s smokey out, but beyond that, the weather is pretty summer perfect right now.

I’m on the deck. I’ve been here since I crawled out of bed.

Anja is brushing the dog’s teeth, and just gave the cat a bath.

Rory is attaching zip ties to his bike to make it sound obnoxious.

Not really sure where Will got to.

Every once in a while, they come and check on me.

“Whatcha doing, Mum?”

“Nothing.”

“Are you bored?”

“Kinda.”

“…”

They wander away, I continue my boredom.

It’s pretty great.

July went by in the blink of an eye.

School let out/Canada Day/Denmark/Summer camp(s)/Ironman.

That literally encompasses the month. There was nothing else. Which is why I’m milking this August boredom for all it’s worth.

Oh yeah. August doubles as fat camp (I get it, I’m not fat. But I’m not fit, either). So between books and hammock swings, I’ve returned to some riding, some running. Swimming can wait (beyond the mid-ride, sweltering, I’m-gonna-die-if-I-don’t-jump-in-right-now swims).

There are races to race, adventures to go on, things to eat.

You know what else is boring? This blog. Yeesh.

 

 

Day-to-day life, Family, Kids

The end is near

School’s done for the year in 3 days, 3 hours and a few minutes. I can assure you that I’m not the only one in this house who’s counting down.

Man alive, we are tired.

I can’t really put my finger on it, but it seems like the past few weeks have had a bigger impact on all of us than in years past. Will crosses out days on his calendar. Anja asks every day “how many more days”? Rory quietly goes about just being done, already.

Personally, I can’t wait to take a break from the endless cycle of lunches, homework, and the constant back and forth that essentially sums up life with 3 active, school aged kids.

It kind of feels like we’re all just keeping it together thanks to spit and grit. And band aids. A hell of a lot of bandaids.

These past few days, parenting has been boiled down to nothing more than managing emotions – including my own.

I’ll probably be eating my words in about a week from now… But until then, bring on the sleep ins, heat waves and evenings at the lake.

It’s easier to manage emotions when they involve popsicles and sunscreen. Mine included.

Day-to-day life

Filling in the gaps

How many times in the past few weeks have I cracked open the laptop with the intention of writing something mildly insightful? Plenty. How many times have I gotten distracted by something shiny and left the page open, untouched? Also plenty.

But it’s Monday morning… 9:22am. I’m caffeinated, have been up for hours and would like to continue to ignore the inbox and to-do list and the piles of laundry for a few more minutes. So here I am. Staring at a blinking cursor and wondering what to write about.

Frighteningly, we’re halfway into 2018. In January, I stated my intentions for upcoming year. I’m not one for looking back and looking inwards. But hey, why not see how it’s all going?

  1. More outside -> So far, yes. Spring and summer make me want to be outside always.
  2. Less inside -> See above. And we cancelled cable TV.
  3. More water -> This could use some work.
  4. Less booze -> Yes. Mostly. With a few exceptions.
  5. More extrovert -> Pretty much no. Getting outside of my happy little circle of people is proving tough for me.
  6. Less introvert -> But I’m trying.
  7. More together -> Not as much as I’d like.
  8. Less apart -> But that’s why there are phones. Hi, Lynn!
  9. More yes -> Yes! It’s fun when you can say yes when a no is expected.
  10. Less no -> And it’s scary (see above, #5).
  11. (But sometimes) more no -> I gave a big NO last week. Hard yet liberating.
  12. (and sometimes) less yes -> Learning that the answers don’t need to be instant.
  13. More bravery -> Sometimes, I can surprise even myself.
  14. Less fear -> The older I get, the more I am learning to be less scared. Imagine how fearless I’ll be at 86?
  15. More simplicity -> With objects, this is easy. With people…
  16. Less complexity -> People are complex. Very, very complex.
  17. More doing -> 100%
  18. Less wishing -> But I’ll never stop wishing.

And with that, I shall wish away Juneuary…

Above, a visual recap of sorts of life since January.

Random

Spring musings

It’s currently 6:18pm. It’s still light out, and miraculously not raining. Spring has been slow in coming. I’m answering emails from the comfort of the couch, glass of wine in hand. All I can hear is screaming kids on the trampoline.

It’s blissful, in its own weird way.

I love this time of year if simply for the fact that the kids just instantly drop everything the minute they come in the door to go back outside (I mean this, literally. Daily, I trip over backpacks and shoes when I come in the door and have to yell “PICK YOUR STUFF UP!”)

Neck breaking hazards aside, it’s liberating. No one asks for TV or whines about boredom. The backyard collects extra kids for trampoline time but just as quickly empties when a game of street-wide manhunt starts.

Every once in a while it goes eerily quiet… it takes me a few moments to notice the change. If I peer over the deck railing, it’s usually to find that the boys have scattered, and there are a few girls sitting on the trampoline, quietly talking about who knows what. I retreat as I don’t want to intrude whatever little world they’ve created.

It’s evenings like this that make me appreciate, even more than usual, the community that is created by small town living.

 

Random

My Modern Family.

A few weeks ago, Jay and I had a standard parent conference with one of the kids’ teachers. When it was done, Jay left ahead of me and the teacher pulled me aside.

(If you’re new here, Jay is the father to my 3 insane children).

Awkwardly, she broached the topic of our family life: “Are you?… I, um. I heard that you aren’t together anymore? Is this true?”

I confirmed, that yes, she was correct. She looked baffled for a minute and then said that she was surprised to hear this because we seemed to get along well and that the kids are doing well. Then she kind of congratulated me and I left, now the one feeling a little awkward.

Did she just congratulate me on not being a bitch?

People get divorced all the time. I get it. Did I think I’d ever get divorced? No, of course not. You don’t get married expecting it not to be permanent. At least, I didn’t. I fully expected to emulate my parents, married for a billion years.

Yet, here we are!

The kids are currently on their way to California for March break without me. They’ll be getting some quality Dad time, doing things his way without my interference and hovering.

But! Guess what? I’m flying down as a surprise to join them and spend a few days all together.

Fear not, I’m not ruining my own surprise. My kids don’t read this. They don’t even know what a dumb blog is, anyway. Maybe one day they’ll find it and be sooooo embarrassed, mooooom.

We’re going to spend a few days over spring break doing kid and family stuff. Together.

And you know what? I’m super excited.

Has life been as I planned it? Hell no. Is it easy? Also, no. Since we separated, I’ve experienced, in various forms: rage, anger, sadness, frustration, elation, joy, disbelief, and every single emotion in between. It continues to be a terrifying roller coaster.

But now, in its current iteration, our family ‘format’ works. Is that to say it’s perfect?

Of course not.

Does it change all the time?

Yep.

Do we know what we’re doing?

Nope, not really. Isn’t that what parenting is, anyway? Winging it?

Do people judge me/us and question what we’re doing?

Probably.

And so what.

I’m really good at being self deprecating, but this is one of those times that I can say how proud I am of how far we’ve come.

Our kids are happy, healthy. Normal. They love us, we love them. We’re in this together, like it or not. There’s days where we like it, days we don’t.

But we move forward.

In our own, weird, modern family way.

 

Day-to-day life

(Not so) Sparky.

I haven’t broken a sweat in weeks.

And I can’t say that I really care.

Most of the time, I love training for endurance events. But lately, I haven’t. I kind of feel like I’ve lost my spark.

The last 6 weeks or so have been a mix of mini-injury and illness. I guess I should count myself lucky, considering it’s been a long time since I’ve been sidelined for anything other than my own choice. Normally, when I’m not doing anything, there’s a itch to get going again, to sign up for something, to find a challenge of some kind.

But not this time. And it’s… weird.

That perpetual guilt most of us endurance nerds feel about not getting a workout in has pretty much evaporated. All those little red boxes in Training Peaks? Meh.

I was feeling fired up after an awesome little bikes-only getaway to Maui. Strong and happy.

But since then, the inconsistency that comes with not being able to get off the couch due to coughing like a life-long smoker has totally stalled me.

And now, I feel like it’s really hard to get going again.

I’ve given myself a 2 week hall pass to do whatever I want, whenever I want to. I’m hoping to reignite the spark by putting myself on a start line that I’m totally unprepared for.

That should work, right?

                             TAKE US BACK

 

Random

I’ll listen.

A year ago, I wrote a post about how I came to admit to myself – and others, by virtue of pressing “publish” – that I struggled with depression. It was scary but also really liberating. It was like I was forcing myself to walk the talk, to prove that there wasn’t stigma around the issue of mental health.

Fast forward 365 days. Once again, it’s “Bell Let’s talk” day in Canada. In some ways, very little has changed. In others, everything has changed.

A friend suggested that perhaps I write a follow-up, detailing how I came to tackle my situation. It took a while, but here we are.

I don’t know that one ever truly overcomes or gets “cured” of the twin towers of depression and anxiety. Rather, for myself, it is an evolving process of managing my symptoms and triggers, and figuring out what works for me. Maybe time will tell?

Of course, there are days when I feel unstoppable. Those as so fun. Partner those with days when I feel like I can’t get out of my own way and I think that’s a pretty accurate description of the roller coaster I pilot.

You know what I think that makes me? Perfectly normal.

The most critical piece in getting myself to where I am today has been to surround myself with people who make me feel safe.

I don’t think I’ve ever typed such a corny sentence, but voila. It’s my truth.

I don’t need to constantly talk about my feeeeeelings, but knowing that those upon whom I rely are there to listen if I need them is critical. Sometimes, it’s as simple as knowing that they’ll respond when I send that text that simply says “fuuuuuuuuuuuck…”. You know what I mean.

Seeking medical help (and continuing with it, still) was the best decision I could have made for myself – and for my kids. The next best decision was coming clean, as it were. Because no longer am I hiding behind a facade and suddenly, not only have I gained more people upon whom I can rely for help, I became someone that others could come to talk to.

And so, I listen. Because, I think that’s the other part of “Let’s talk”.

Let’s listen.

Here’s what I wrote last year.

I will never forget the day that I knew I needed to ask for help.

My life, as I knew it, was crumbling around me. My mother was dying. My marriage was falling apart. I didn’t know which way was up and was barely going through the motions. I was faking it in almost every aspect of my life. I was pretending I was fine.

I so clearly wasn’t fine. I was down to 100 pounds. I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t eat. I was barely present, I couldn’t focus and was operating in a fog, seized by anxiety.

I was scared, sad, and I felt almost paralyzed. Of course, I had a few close friends in whom I confided (to a degree), but those nights, alone at 3:00am, when my mind was spinning, it was a dark and ugly place to be.

My whole life, I’d always tried to power through the emotional stuff, driven by the motto of “this too shall pass.” Stiff upper lip, and all that, right?

But that day, as I sat at my desk unable to type because my hands were shaking so hard, operating on 3 hours sleep, I knew then that this had to stop. I called my doctor, and walked through her door 15 minutes later.

She knew immediately upon seeing me that I needed help. She was gentle but firm. She asked me what I felt were prying but necessary questions. She drew me out, listened to my halting speech, and by doing so gave me that tiny little bit of confidence, that little push I needed to take those first steps towards getting help and getting well. I needed someone to take control, to give me a plan, to confirm that no, I wasn’t losing it completely.

‘Cause it sure as hell felt like I was.

Fast forward to today.

I am healthy, mentally AND physically. I am SO much better.

I’ve learned to read the signs of when things are starting to slide. I know when to ask for help, and from whom. My treatment is, and will always be, ongoing. I don’t feel shame in this; rather, there’s a sense of power that comes with knowing that I was brave enough to take this on.

Today, in Canada, it’s #Bellletstalk day. The goal of this campaign is to invite others to join the conversation and end the stigma around mental health.

By sharing my story, I hope that in some way, you know it’s ok to share yours.

img_0933

Random

18 in 18.

  1. More outside
  2. Less inside
  3. More water
  4. Less booze
  5. More extrovert
  6. Less introvert
  7. More together
  8. Less apart
  9. More yes
  10. Less no
  11. (But sometimes) more no
  12. (and sometimes) less yes
  13. More bravery
  14. Less fear
  15. More simplicity
  16. Less complexicity
  17. More doing
  18. Less wishing

Happy new year, everyone.