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.

 

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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.

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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.

Family, Kids

Rudolph’s unexpected side effect.

“C’mon… you can do anything for 5 kilometres…”

These are the encouraging words I mutter to myself, as I dig around for some warm running clothes. It’s 5:34pm, dark and foggy out. The last thing I want to do is go for a run.

I always seem to think ‘challenges’ of most sorts are a great idea, and for the first few days I am so gung ho: Give up sugar? Yes! for about 31 hours. Plank Challenge! Yes! Until… meh.

So when the Run Rudolph Run popped up on Facebook, of course I was all over it. The basic premise is that you pick some variation of a run streak that lasts between December 1 to the 24th (hence the festive title). We bandied about some different ones but I eventually settled on “Consistent Rudolph”, committing to running 5kms daily for the duration. Easy!

Narrator’s voice over: “she thought it would be easy. It wasn’t”

I tossed the Run Rudolph Run calendar I’d printed on the kitchen counter, only to have Will scoop it up and ask what it was. I explained and he immediately replied that he wanted to join me in the challenge.

I agreed. I like company. Besides, I was 99% certain that after 3 days, we’d throw in the antlers.

Fast forward to day 12 of the challenge. We’re still going strong. And no thanks to me, that’s for damn sure.  I wanted to quit by day 3. I’ve suggested to Will that we take days off and use the make up days. I’ve proposed that he skip the run on swim club days. Basically, I’ve tried to be a terrible influence.

It hasn’t worked. He’s 100% in.

I’ve never run so many consecutive days in down jackets and mitts, in the dark by the light of weak headlamp.

But Rudolph comes with an unexpected gift: every single time we set out, it ends up being my favourite 30 minutes of the day because my eldest child opens up to me. It’s as though the movement of his feet loosens his tongue and he’s off. We talk about school, friends, politics, running, christmas lists, what he wants to be when he grows up. For those 30 minutes, all barriers come down and nothing seems off limits. We aren’t mom and son for that time; we’re just 2 people sharing a run and a good chat.

A small part of me wishes Rudolph could go on forever.

Random

‘Tis the (end of the off) season!

It never fails. I cross the final finish line of the season and envision the endless days of rest and relaxation that await me… No structure! Do what I want, when I want! Eat what I want! (wait… I do that anyway).

And those first 48 hours are just magical… I enjoy doing nothing. I don’t check training peaks, I don’t get sweaty. I read, I eat. I pretend I don’t like exercise.

And then, slowly but surely, the restlessness kicks in. Runs get scheduled, we go for rides. I start to troll my favourite websites for races I can sign up for. Sure, I can go out and “do stuff” but my type-A personality (disorder) misses the structure, the planning, the goals and those little green/yellow/red boxes that taunt me and motivate me.

Goal is more green, less red.

Coach liz and I joke that we have an illness. Maybe we do. But it’s one with good side effects, I think.

This year’s off season started before I went to Maui for the Xterra… that race was done on a wing and a prayer. So while, by all appearances, it may seem like I didn’t stop, I’ve been left to my own devices for *just* long enough.

Long enough that I asked if we could get back to the checking the little green boxes 1 week earlier than planned. I couldn’t help it.

I’m oddly excited for what 2018 may bring. New goals, new races, same great people.

Anyone want to go for a ride?

 

 

 

Race Report, Racing, Triathlon

Xterra Worlds.

Or as I like to refer to it,  the Perfect Racecation.

Once I signed up for Xterra Worlds, thanks to an underserved roll-down slot, I promptly put the event out of my mind. I sort of figured I could coast to the start line powered by residual fitness from 70.3 worlds and good will from the fitness gods.

As it turns out, you can’t just rock up to the start line of a world championships and expect much more than a “I’m just really happy to be here” kind of result with that kind of prep.

No matter! I got my ass kicked and I loved it. Truly.

Here’s how the race went down for me.

The day before:

Standard raceget your gear ready, eat, rest, blah blah blah.

Xterra worldsa 5K trail run sounds like a great idea! I should note that I told myself that I’d go easy, enjoy the scenery, shake out my legs.

I came 2nd in my AG and did none of the things I said I’d do.

Morning of:

Standardwake up at a time that borders on inhuman, choke down food, battle nerves and logistics till the gun goes off.

Xterrawake up without an alarm. Enjoy coffee and breakfast on the lanai. Eventually, and leisurely, we make our way to the race venue.

Swim:

Standard: stand at the start trying to quell the fear.

Xterra: stand at the start trying to quell the fear.

Truly. I mean, when we landed on Maui, the news was announcing that the Pe’ahi Challenge was on. The surf in the days leading up to the race was big, fun and scary. On race day, I stood on the start line legitimately concerned that I was going to be last out of the water (provided I managed to get past the break, that is).

The good news is that I wasn’t last. It was fun, hard, salty and people were spread all over the ocean. I got pummelled by waves. I had a big smile on my face when I emerged from the ocean.

Bike:

Standard: I get out of the swim and work my way to the front of the pack.

Xterra:  I very much noticed my lack of bike fitness pretty early on.  My heart rate was sky high. I talked myself off the ledge almost right away, then I spent the rest of the ride passing folks and giggling (when I wasn’t riding uphill). I yelled “on your left!” and “rider!” and of course said “Sorry!” a whole lot, and passed a lot of people. It was awesome. Hard, uphill, and awesome.

My biggest area of improvement here would be my sock selection. I went with short ones due to the impossibility of pulling on proper fun ones. Hardly acceptable behaviour.

Run:

Standard: I tick along at a pretty consistent pace till I get to the finish line.

Xterra: I alternated my pace between crawl, jog, sprint, jump, whimper (is that even a pace?), slog, shuffle, run and walk. It was ugly. And yet? I still passed people and it was still fun.

This is not running.

I crossed the finish line totally depleted and pretty sure it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. But the good thing about doing races like that is that it makes you hungry for more.

Thanks for capturing, JO.

We spent the remainder of the vacation recovering, rehashing and reliving. Within hours we were talking about which events we want to do next.

Pretty standard, I’d say.

Just the facts:

Swim: 33:24

Bike: 2:30

Run: 1:10

24th AG.

Kids

Walking that fine line.

The kids had a swim meet this weekend. It wasn’t their first, but it was their favourite to date. Shorter distances, candy at the finish lines, fun atmosphere.

In the car there, they all admitted to feeling nervous butterflies, and I stayed quiet and let them talk through it… “once you jump in, it gets easier and I’m not nervous anymore.”

I spend the meet wandering the deck and cheering. I’ve discovered that I cannot stand the screeching sound of my cheer voice, and want to tell myself to shut up. But I love cheering on my kids, so I don’t.

The kids don’t win – not by a long shot. But I’m proud of the fact that this doesn’t seem to bother them. This doesn’t mean they aren’t trying their hardest; they are, for the most part. Often times, they come over to me, dripping and smiling, and say “I didn’t come last! Can I have a snack?”

Then.

As we drove home, Will asked if we could start swimming together, before school. He wants to improve and hit some qualifying times, move up to the next level.

Here’s where walking the fine line comes in.

Of course I’ll take him swimming. I’ll impart what little swim knowledge I have (it’s easy to repeat what I’ve been told for years. Easier than actually doing it, anyway).

BUT.

How to help him improve without becoming *that* parent? I am loathe to step on coaches toes. Where does giving the odd tip end and become fake coaching? Do I seek out a few extra coaching sessions, or is that “buying speed?” I want to encourage but not be overbearing. Am I unconsciously pushing them to do something just because I like it? Or do they actually want to it? If they quit, is it my fault? My brain is melting.

Clearly, I am overthinking this in a big way.

Parents out there, what say you? How do you handle your kids competitive endeavours?

Maybe I’ll give it some more thought during today’s swim practice.

Day-to-day life

One of those days.

I woke up in the dark, to the sound of rain smashing down on the roof. I remember there’s a rainfall warning in effect.

I quietly head downstairs. Pour some coffee, check my phone. The first thing I read is that Gord Downie has died. It takes a moment to register. Then it feels like a punch in the gut. As the media said… we knew it was coming, that doesn’t make his passing easier. We lost a man who was the voice of my Canadian generation.

We chaotically get out the door. It’s wet and dreary; we all bicker and fight over trivialities, but we get to school, walk the dog. The usual. Exhale.

I get to work. I’m underdressed, it’s snowing. Hard. I spend the day feeling cold, kind of foggy.

I hustle out of the office with the intent of getting home, spending some cozy time with the kids, sneaking in a workout. Dinner and a glass of wine, maybe.

I drive 300 meters down the road, then sit at a standstill for 45 minutes, thanks to the unexpected snowstorm. It takes just under 2 hours to make the 38km trip.

I walk in the door, I’m greeted by a sea of wet coats, boots and bags. That’s ok, I think. They’re home, I’m home. Let the cozy times begin.

Cozy times don’t happen. The kids are amped. I’m tired, feeling both lethargic and frazzled. I don’t want to make dinner. I feel overwhelmed by everything and nothing in particular. I offer our usual Mile One, if they promise to bring homework. I plan on leaving the phone at home. Family time.

We’re at the door when we discover that yet another jacket has been carelessly left somewhere, never to be seen again.

Rationally, I know it’s just stuff. But oh, the proverbial straw and camel.

It’s been about 45 minutes since they put themselves to bed, after they made themselves dinner because I quit. Threw my hands up and declared myself done. 

You could say I had a hissy fit. Because I basically did.

And now I feel like a petulant brat. I want to go get their warm, sleeping little bodies, pile them into my bed, hold them close. I want to erase the last 4 hours. I feel regret for my words, my stubbornness. I feel that nagging mom guilt.

Instead, I’ll quietly go kiss them and whisper that I’m sorry. I hope they hear me.

Tomorrow will be better. It’s got to be. I will be.