a First-Timer’s Triathlon recap! and how it relates to CONFIDENCE

Endurance sports are so addicting. To push the body, brain and spirit and see what, as a trio, they’re capable of is so friggin awesome. If you know me, you know I’m pretty in love with challenging myself physically, but I also try to get out of my comfort zone often and test myself mentally and emotionally. This wasn’t always the case, but after working with Suzanne Fetting off and on for years, plus a lot of other growth in the last five-ish years, I have a very different perspective on trying new things that scare the crap out of me in one way or another! BUT, that doesn’t mean that this kind of stuff comes easy. I’ve come a long way in the confidence department, but I’m still human and trying brand new things makes me feel vulnerable and nervous! So here’s how the whole process went down, and if you decide to do a triathlon or any remotely related thing that’s new to you, I hope this will help you!

The Tyhee Lake Triathlon is an event I’ve heard about for ages, long before I became a runner, and I always thought of triathlon as something that other, cool, hardcore people did. Not me! Last year, my good friend Breeann participated and I was so inspired by her hard work and courage to accept such a cool challenge that I saw as extremely intimidating. In March when she suggested I come join her at it this summer, I didn’t think twice and just said yes immediately; I once knew how to swim quite well, I can ride a bike and I’ve been running consistently now for years. Then I proceded to ignore the fact that I had agreed to do a triathlon and I pushed it to the back of my mind for a couple months because it was too uncomfortable to think about. LOL.

Once spring marathoning wrapped up it dawned on me that I might want to get my ass in gear. I swam at the pool quite a few times (a challenge in itself) and was happy to learn that I still knew how, but I was VERY suprised at how extremely difficult it was from what I remembered from my childhood and adolescent swimming lessons.

I went to spin class two to three times a week for about a month and a half, borrowed a road bike from a friend, and then a couple weeks ago did a sort of practice-tri with a bunch of girls. We biked 20km out to a lake, swam approximately 800m (the opposite of fast, and with rests..but I felt I could survive the 750m distance) and then ran a 5km out-and-back before biking back home.

AWESOME. I knew I could do it! I did one more practice swim in my wetsuit* the weekend before in a different lake, and that was it. Triathlon was going down! AHHHHHH.

*The reason I bought a wetsuit (after much research) instead of borrow is because I want to do more swimming at the cabin whenever I can, and I knew for a fact I wouldn’t invest in it and only end up using it once. Don’t think you need to buy a wetsuit! It wasn’t even mandatory in Tyhee Lake because the water temperature was warm enough. If you are interested, however, I got the BlueSeventy Sprint full suit from a Canadian site, triboutique.ca

The week before the race, I started to really question myself. Sure, I can swim, bike and run well enough, but I didn’t have a clue about the logistics. Triathlon seemed way too hardcore for me. Why do we decide we aren’t good enough for something we’ve never even tried? What do I do with all the gear? What are the rules?? What do I wear under the wetsuit??? I am going to screw up and look dumb for sure. Breeann, who my sister and I were going to visit and stay with, was no longer participating in the team category like she had planned, and I thought, maybe I’ll just do a tri another day and spend the whole weekend with them. That was totally me trying to make an excuse because I was scared! I had also subconsciously hoped that my sister would bail on our weekend away so that I could use that as an excuse not to go. Didn’t happen, thankfully!

I read a bunch of articles online about what to expect in your first tri, packing checklists, and basic overviews of the transitions and felt a little more prepared but my nerves kept growing. My inner critic was taunting me. This is a bad idea. You don’t know what you’re doing. You didn’t prepare enough. The transitions are too foreign and scary. You’re a runner, stick to running. You’ll probably get a flat tire. Are you trying to be cool in your new wetsuit, poser? Now it was July 4th and the triathlon was on the 9th. I went online and registered and said I’m f*ckin doing this!

Friday afternoon my sister and I hit the road to Telkwa (tied for favourite place on planet Earth, with Mudge Island) and the whole time I babbled about how nervous I was because I’d never done a triathlon before. We stopped in Terrace and my new best friend at the bike shop showed me how to change a flat tire and sold me a little kit for under my bike seat. All I had to do was ask. Back on the road! More freaking out about getting a flat. My sister is a good counsellor! The bottom line, of course, was basically shut up and go have fun.

On Saturday morning I went for the most gorgeous and peaceful 20km dirtroad run and it boosted my confidence and left me feeling a little better about the situation.

Yes, I know a long training run doesn’t usually precede an endurance event, but I registered for this with goals of doing my best, learning and getting out of my comfort zone, not to go out and try to win it.

My sister picked me up as I reached the pavement at Highway 16, and we headed to the Bulkley Valley Farmers’ Market where we ran into a friend from Rupert who I knew was going to be there. She told me that two other girls from home had decided to come and do the triathlon at the last minute! I now had accumulated FIVE friends there. This made me feel really excited and slightly less nervous! Oh, but of course a sly comment from the inner critic, You are probably the only one who’s never done this before. (Untrue.)

You, reading this, might be thinking, wow this chick is sure being dramatic! If you’re the type of person who was born with amazing self-confidence and doesn’t bat an eye at the thought of trying something brand new, that’s awesome, but I know I’m not the only person who feels highly susceptible to things like failure, embarassment, being flustered or looking like a total ass when attempting something for the first time. So yeah. Onwards!

Sunday morning came and I went through my basic checklist.

  • sandals and warm clothes for before/after
  • my longer 5” tight running/biking shorts & crop top (for under wetsuit)
  • wetsuit, goggles, cap, towel
  • runners, socks (I refused to use the clip-in biking shoes this time around..)
  • bike, helmet, water bottle, spare tube & kit, sunglasses
  • Spibelt to store a couple gels and a cliff bar
  • hat for my run

We left early and got to the provincial campsite around 7:30.  The welcome email that I received sometime overnight told me I could check in and sign a waiver at 7:45, and that bike check began at 8 o’clock. I didn’t know what the hell bike check was and allowed that to make me feel awkward, but then once I was there and checked in (leaving with a badass Jiffy marker’d 51 on each arm and lower leg, hehe) I realized bike check was just a line up to have a bike guy give your ride a once-over and send you over to put it on a rack anywhere you wanted. I looked around to find out what to do next (who knew) and saw that some people had already organized their gear right beneath their bikes, so I set up my towel, runners, socks and running hat on the ground and put my sunglasses and fuel belt inside my helmet.

united with Rupert chicks!

Once that was taken care of, I felt one hundred times better. Now all I had to do was swim, bike and run, and not rush in between, because I knew that would screw me up. Each time I went to the washroom I met someone who was also doing their first ever triathlon! I wasn’t alone! I took my time and got into my wetsuit, braided my hair, put my goggles around my neck and took my cap with me to the grassy beach area to jump around a little and warm up.

My sis took my sandals and that was all that needed to happen before start time!

The swim began and right away my heart and breath went berserk. I breast stroked for a bit and did little stretches of front crawl, but it was very slow going. I felt pannicked like I was going to get seriously left behind (not that that would even matter!) but I just tried to relax.  In a worst case scenario, there were people in little rowboats as well as SUPs who were there to help and even offer a rest! I didn’t require that though. No kicks in the head, no choking on water, I just kept at it. By the first buoy (250m) I felt very happy that I was 1/3 done. Not going to lie, most of the swim was a struggle for me, but by the 3/3 250m stretch I felt a lot better and everytime I commited to my front crawl for as long as I could manage, I noticed that I caught up to other swimmers and even passed a couple! Woohoo! I swam until my hands brushed the bottom and felt so happy and proud that I completed step one!

The path from the shore to the transition area was a very short but steep hill and running more than a few steps didn’t seem to be happening so I focused on unzipping my suit and pulling my arms out as I made my way up the hill to the bikes, also taking off my cap and goggles.

Getting my feet out of the ankle holes wasn’t as easy but I got the thing off and partially dried my feet, put my socks and shoes on and attached my Spibelt around my waist. I’m glad I put the belt and my sunglasses inside the helmet or I would have forgotten them, I know it! As I was getting organized I realized some of my friends were around me doing the same things. Woo! Sunglasses on, helmet fastened, bike off the cross bar it was hanging on, and then I was wheeling my bike to the very clearly marked mount-line to hop on and start part two! Weeeeooo!

Once I was riding I started to really calm down. Biking seems much more second-nature to me than open water swimming, so I just enjoyed going fast on Karen’s super cool road bike that I borrowed and worked as hard as I could on each uphill, downhill and flat. I noticed that I was very much in the moment which isn’t always the case for me in a race setting. This made me really happy and I continued along as fast as I could with my quads feeling sore from my run the previous day but a huge smile on my face. I am not an experienced cyclist by any means and I’ve never been in a bike race, so I learned a lot on this one ride alone! The course was rolling hills and I loved figuring out the best gear to be in and what level of effort to throw down! Love learning shit! The turn-around point was definitely where I would have had a mishap if one were going to happen, but I went slow around the sign and then got right back at it for the 10km back to the lake. Ripping down the hill back into the transition area in the campsite was fun except the speed bumps really forced me to slow down. Didn’t want to launch off any jumps baahaha.

Shannon and I at T2

I reached the mount/dismount line and wheeled my bike back to it’s spot and hung it up, took off my helmet (which apparently is the one thing newbs forget to do and start running with it still on) and threw on my hat. It was time to run 5km! Running! My thing!!!

Lead. Legs. Holy. Shit. HAHAHA I have never felt my body like that before. It felt like I had no feet! My energy level and breathing felt normal, but my legs were like Gumby. I kept going, observing this interesting quality of my body that I’d never experienced before, and it got easier. A muscle in my right lower leg that I still haven’t identified was SO tight it was just about crossing the line between discomfort and pain, but I was careful as I ran. Even thought it was only 5km, it was SO challenging and the two water stations (and cowbell) were very much appreciated. Aside from one moment near the turnaround where my leg was really bothering me, this run was so amazing! I didn’t have a clue what kind of pace I was running since I started my watch on “other” at the start of the swim and left it alone for the duration of the race, and it was on a screen that wasn’t making sense. I absolutely loved that my only job was to do my best. I wasn’t comparing this run’s pace to any other run.

01:40:10 finish for me, whatever that means! lol

Finishing the race was amazing!! The support at this race is really awesome, and the number of spectators was impressive for a northern BC endurance event! I felt strong til the end, and when I crossed the finish I felt so accomplished. This was the most fun thing ever! Like, I love marathons and all running events a lot, but this was a whole nother level of cool. I wish I could put into words the feelings that come over a person at a time like this. Pride, excitement, a little disorientation, sometimes a bit of overwhelm and teary eyes. INCREDIBLE!!! Immediately in love and wanting to do another in the future!

Imagine I had’ve given in to feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Imagine I bailed on the tri just because my original partner in crime wasn’t able to take part and I didn’t want to be “alone.” Or if my sister for some reason wasn’t able to go away that weekend and I decided I wasn’t going to go either. Or if I were still a piss-tank and a weekend away only involved getting drunk. NO. I don’t want to imagine because that was one of my favourite days of my whole life! Not only did I get to take part in what I now consider one of the coolest events I’ve ever taken part in, I got to do it with five amazing friends and I made a couple new friends, too! I thought it was going to be terrifying, but like most things, it’s was only scary until I got there!

I will re-visit this experience the next time I’m psyching myself about something just because it’s unfamiliar to me. I will remember that my body is extremely capable, even though I remind myself almost daily of this, but hey that’s just the way it goes for some of us.

Do not let fear stop you from having the best day or best experience. Remember that people like to help, so ask questions and give yourself a break. Observe others. Remember that you will rarely be the only person doing something for the first time. And lastly, remember that extremely cheesy but true quote that I don’t really want to include here but I’m going to anyway..

comfort

@jammiekomadina

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Global #SportsBraSquad Day! What it is, and why it matters!

If you don’t know about the #sportsbrasquad, here’s a quick and dirty run down for you.

Kelly Roberts, also known as RunSelfieRepeat, was on a hot, sweaty run last June and was thinking about how f*cking glorious it would be to rip her shirt off instead of having a sweat-soaked top stuck to her skin. Thankfully, against the odds she won the all-too-familiar debate with the inner critic about what she’d look like, how she’d feel and what others might think or say. She ditched her shirt and continued on, far more cool and comfortable. You can read all about it at RunSelfieRepeat.com. Reflecting on the experience afterwards, the #sportsbrasquad was born and Kelly started her movement. Mission: empower women to embrace the strength and ability of their bodies; destroy the stereotype of what a healthy and fit body is “supposed to look like” based on a lack of representation of different body types in the media. Change how the world recognizes STRONG.

Oiselle, one of Kelly’s sponsors and my favourite running brand for whom I also run for with the Oiselle Volée, got right behind the movement. The world needs a reality check on how broad the spectrum is. We need a better representation of real, healthy women and the diversity of shapes, sizes and body types that strong and healthy exist as.

I believe in this. I love what Kelly Roberts stands for. I love that Oiselle is all for women in sport; all levels and all bodies. Oiselle and Kelly declared June 24th as #sportsbrasquad day, so I decided to establish the Prince Rupert #sportsbrasquad among all the others popping up around the world.

On June 24th at 7pm, the Prince Rupert Chapter was born!

But why? Why is over twenty women, from best friends to perfect strangers, gathering to run without shirts on, such a big deal? And why do women care so much that they organized their own bra-crew runs earlier in the day if they weren’t able to attend the event?

 

 

Because the issue behind this movement is so real and it affects everyone. The inner critic is real. Comparing one’s self to others plus totally restricted image standards, a completely self-sabotaging thinking habit, happens to be extremely common, and some might even say it’s human nature. The generally accepted health and fitness standard represented in media for decades has been a thin, very small-framed woman with basically zero body fat (possibly with the exception of full breasts), smooth, even, tight skin and whose flesh somehow isn’t affected by gravity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this woman (the real one, under the makeup and airbrushing), but she does not represent WOMEN. She represents ONE out of eighty kazillion body types.

 

 

The simple fact that a standard has come to exist is the problem. Show this standard on every TV show, movie, commercial, magazine and billboard across lifetimes and it’s no wonder there has been a mix up regarding what healthy and fit “should look like”. Why has it ever been about appearance over function??

News flash, mankind: healthy is a feeling, not a look. It feels strong AF. It feels like goals, challenges, effort, victories (and failures), growth, revisions, sweat and endorphins. Self-care and self-love! Maybe throw in an ugly-cry for good measure! This all relates to what our bodies are capable of and how empowering it is to exercise those capabilities.

Getting the ball rolling in the healthy and strong department can be really scary and really hard. Keeping that ball rolling is a whole nother story. Add on the fact that we ALL have our insecurities…those spots that are immediately apparent to us (and probably only us) when we look in the mirror or see a photo of ourself. Take into account the useless comparisons we make. Finally, top it off with the sad but true habit of judging one’s self more critically than any friend, acquaintance or sister, and people, we have a problem.

 

Christina went on a solo mission and killed it!!

 

Think about how you identify with the word Christmas tree. I bet you automatically envision an evergreen conifer such as a spruce or fir, or an artificial lookalike. It’s what we have been exposed to and accustomed to via tradition and little or no variance.

Alternative scenario. What if when we were little we were shown right off the bat that a Christmas tree can be any tree or plant you want, and it was different each year. It’s purpose, we would understand, is to be strong enough to stand up and support itself and some super fun decorations, which make it fabulously unique. If this were the case, Christmas tree and 🎄 wouldn’t automatically go hand in hand. A much more broad idea would come to mind. Let’s take on that alternative scenario now, with respect to what strength stands for.

This is what the #sportsbrasquad is about. Simply providing the world with more exposure to the variety of packages that strength comes in, while at the same time teaching ourselves to feel good to look good, not always vice versa. Variety. That’s the key word here.

Kerry reppin’ at K2 Cycle Fusion!

The #sportsbrasquad works because there is power in numbers. Support. Camaraderie. VARIETY before our eyes. Throw in some sweat, laughter and endorphins and there you have a step in the right direction. A big step out of the comfort zone that can lead to so many productive things, such as positive self-talk, the chance to inspire yourself, someone else or both, or a conversation that backs this whole movement.

On Saturday I arrived at our group run to find ten women already there. More came. Most got out of their vehicles wearing shirts or jackets. The vulnerability level went from an 11 down to a 10 and we all began chatting and feeling out the situation. Fast forward two minutes. We are taking group pics, shirtless. Fast forward another, no one is freaking out about a reporter showing up because we are together and rallying for something important, even if feeling hesitant. Now we are running. I see people pair up. I see people getting acquainted. I see women running back and forth, checking on friends or making sure nobody is too far back. I hear again and again how liberating and literally cool our physical activity is on this muggy evening. How enjoyable and empowering sweating is.

And now we are back in the parking lot, hollering at the girls finishing up, throwing out high fives to people we may have never met until today and SWEATY HUGGING. Oh fuck ya. Not just some chicks running around in sports bras!!!

Lets try our best not to see this movement as a struggle. Get fired up and consider it as doing society a favour and helping shift the perspective of strength and fitness. Do it for yourself, your daughter, sister, mom, best friend and neighbour. The guys too, they arent exempt from insecurities or stereotypes. Of course it’s not easy. Change is never easy. But the #sportsbrasquad is a change maker and we are doing it again really soon so stay tuned.

@jammiekomadina

How Running taught me to give fewer F*cks

What’s uppp! Summer is almost officially here, the days are long and there’s so much daylight before and after work to get outside and have fun! By fun I don’t just mean running, but that’s mostly what I mean ahaha. I’m really pumped about something happening on June 24th. Kelly Roberts and Oiselle have declared that day Global Sports Bra Squad Day. You can read about it HERE. The positive messages behind this amazing day really got me thinking about how running has boosted my confidence in so many different ways. Recently I had an experience that really showed me this. It was actually the day I joined the #sportsbrasquad. Myself and other #rupertrunners will be hosting our own Global Sports Bra Squad Day social run in Prince Rupert, so if that’s where you live, stay tuned.

About ten days ago I ran the Calgary Marathon and for me personally, it was REALLY hot out. I live somewhere very mild with a lot of rain and up until then I had never run in a sports bra before. The 25 degree weather in Calgary was starting to get to me on my three mile shakeout run the morning before the race, so I decided then and there that I’d join Kelly Roberts’ #sportsbrasquad at the marathon and run in just my bra. One less thing to worry about – feeling disgustingly hot for over 42 kilometers! When I arrived to the race, most people around me were wearing tank tops or racing singlets, some were even wearing long sleeves, and there I was in my small shorts and favourite race bra (Lululemon’s Stuff Your Bra…PLEASE MAKE MORE). It wasn’t even hot out yet, it was 7am. That’s when my inner critic started up.

I’m 32 years old and most days I feel like I’ve had enough time to accept the uniquenesses of my own body, meaning the parts that are NOT my favourite. However, insecurity arises in many forms and can pop up anytime, anywhere. Whether these insecurities relate to size, shape, weight, complexion, whatever, we are always hardest on ourselves. A friend can tell me something she doesn’t like about her appearance, and I don’t know what the hell she’s talking about. On the other hand, I complain about things that people have complimented me on. Prime example: I have huge calves from walking on my tippy toes until I was twelve (just way too excited all the time) and I hate them, but other people have told me they like them and they’re nice. When I look in the mirror on a non-confident day, I think they look so ugly and gross and like man legs (no offense, guys). I didn’t start wearing shorts until I was in my late twenties, except for at soccer when below the knee was hidden by shin pads and socks. Why do we pick out shit we don’t like about ourselves, but then look at others and see them as nothing but strong, beautiful, unique and natural? This topic is enough for a whole series of posts! Anyways, that morning when I left the hotel, all I cared about initially was not overheating once the sun was high in the sky, so I headed to the marathon with my bib pinned to my sports bra.

Then I arrived at the race, tossed my throwaway layer after warming up, and started comparing myself to other people. WHY DO WE DO THIS??? What was making me feel uncomfortable on this day were thoughts coming from various categories under the big umbrella of worrying about what other people think, not so much about my own body, but about not wearing a shirt. Here are some of the things my inner critic was throwing at me:

“put on some clothes, you’re half naked”

“you must think you look pretty good to wear no shirt.”

“stop trying to be hardcore like Shalane and Kara.”

“it’s not even hot you’re just trying to look cool.”

Years ago, I would have probably freaked out, begged for my checked bag to dig out a shirt and re-pin my bib, and then SUFFERED even more than I did anyway in the heat that day. Guess what. It’s not years ago, it’s now. Suzanne Fetting came to mind (if you don’t know who I’m talking about, read THIS) and I immediately stood up to these ridiculous thoughts that were coming up.

“put on some clothes, you’re half naked” – Inner Critic

“I’m about to run 42.2 f*cking kilometers and it’s going to be 25 degrees by the later stages of my race. I don’t give a flying f*ck if someone thinks I’m scantily clad.” – real Me (I know, I swear a lot. YODO)

“you must think you look pretty good to wear no shirt.” – Inner Critic

“I have been training for months and my body feels stronger than it ever has. Also, I’m here to run, not to look good.” – real Me

“stop trying to be hardcore like Shalane and Kara.” – Inner Critic

“Hardcore isn’t a look it’s a feeling, but if this ends up helping me stay cool and FEEL hardcore, BONUS.” – real Me

“it’s not even hot out you’re just trying to look cool.” – Inner Critic

“Let me explain a second time since you weren’t listening. I don’t feel like roasting, and I’m going to be REALLY warm by 7:03 am. Also, define cool!?” – real Me

I ran my race, it wasn’t my day and the heat affected me regardless. But guess what? I was way more comfortable that I would have been with a sweat-soaked tank stuck to my skin instead of air. Also, multiple runners said to me “I wish I was as smart as you and went shirtless.” Yes, man in full-length sleeves, you do wish that, don’t you! Why I was able to just not care in the end, is because running has taught me that I am strong, capable, mentally-tough, confident, and it has proven to me over and over again that I can and do believe in myself – and most importantly, that NONE of this has anything to do with what other people think about me.

The bra story is just one of many examples of how I’ve realized that running helps us get better at not giving f*cks. There are so many instances where, as a runner, you’re presented with perfect opportunities to tell that inner critic to shut up. Each run is practice!

When I first started running, I was so concerned with what I was going to wear, who might see me, what I would look like out there…I’d be cruising down a busy street and see people walk/drive by and glance at me, and my brain would invent thoughts like:

“I must run funny, bet that’s why they’re laughing.”

“I probably look like I’m struggling.”

“people are gonna know I’m new at this.”

“shit, people might see me taking a walk break and think I suck at running.”

“I don’t look like a runner.” (WHATEVER THE HELL THAT EVEN MEANS)

But after getting out there more often, I believed in myself more and more, and realized I do it for me, and me only. I was too busy working hard and taking care of myself to worry about other things. The stress-relief that cardiovascular activity can provide is amazing, and all of a sudden you feel more relaxed and the problems that seemed big, now seem small. Ahh, yes, less f*cks to give about molehills, save them for the mountains!

We become stronger. We start to feel more empowered. You’ll come to realize, as I did, that people may notice you running, but not negatively! Maybe they’re looking to see if it’s someone they know. Or because they feel guilty that they aren’t out exercising. Or because that new bright-coloured gear is so nice AND helped them not run you over! In most cases, it’s probably just curiosity. The BEST part though, is getting home from a run and realizing you didn’t think any of those silly things. The only thing on the radar was footfalls, breathing, Macklemore and spending some sweet ass quality time with yourself.

I stopped caring (in the good way). If you haven’t already, you will also stop caring. Every single run is a reminder of how amazing it feels to be strong, capable, driven, and most of all, excited to ask yourself “holy shit, what ELSE can I do if I can do that?” This is self-care people. Self-care increases self-love, and self-love decreases the giving of f*cks. HEY SELF, I CARE ABOUT YOU. YOU ARE AWESOME. YOU ARE FUN. YOU ARE STRONG AND SWEATY. ALL CHALLENGES: ACCEPTED.

Running is also a form of self-expression. Run where you want, when you want, wearing what you want. The opinions of others are completely bogus. Period. This becomes oh so clear as the sweaty journey continues.

It’s about you. It’s not about anybody else. Imagine a free activity that leads people to increased health and feelings of happiness, accomplishment, confidence, positivity AND to put a high value on how they FEEL about themselves, vs. what other people might THINK about them. OMG it’s real. It’s called running. Thanks to whoever invented it 😉

@jammiekomadina

Sober Project Update: How I get buzzed lately. (I haven’t had alcohol in 444 days).

It makes me sad when I think about the fact that for fifteen years of my life I incorporated alcohol into as many situations as possible, no matter what I was doing or who I was with. This is not an exaggeration. Don’t worry, then I get really happy because it’s not like that anymore. I try all the time to understand why I (and bazillions of others,) feel like alcohol is essential for a good time, or even an “alright” time. It’s so fucked up.

Living is how we learn things about the world and about ourselves, and we all do it at different times and rates and in different orders, but now that I’ve had a significant time away from booze and can see that I used it to blur the lines of life for so long, I have a new perspective and I’m just sharing a piece of it with you in case it’s helpful in any way. I’m not an alcohol hater and I’m not trying to preach, just sharing.

Before I began the sober project at the end of 2015, I didn’t really know I was doing it but I was constantly trying to use booze to feel more confident, care-free, relaxed, funny, adventurous or warm and fuzzy, just to name a few feelings that we are socialized to believe alcohol provides, or enhances. Why? I either didn’t have the personal resources to create those feelings on my own, at the time, or it could just be that I never tried! Drinking, I felt, was fully required to enjoy, succeed at or simply handle:

  • basically any meal with friends, family, acquaintances or strangers
  • work functions
  • meeting new people
  • a day off
  • bike riding
  • catching up with someone
  • time spent at the beach
  • cooking
  • shopping
  • casual walks or exploring
  • campfires
  • flirting, dating, romantic experiences
  • coping with loss
  • being the passenger on a road trip
  • winding down or de-stressing after work
  • boredom
  • watching TV shows, movies or sports
  • playing softball
  • golfing (yes, I’ve golfed a little)
  • riding a bus, train, ferry or plane
  • holding conversation at social functions with people I had nothing in common with
  • cleaning the house
  • enjoying a bath (or sometimes shower)

Okay, that is like the longest list ever. It’s SO EMBARRASSING!!!! (my opinion). I feel like I could sum up it all up by saying something like,

“hello! I have no real hobbies, interests or passions and I’m so uncomfortable in my own skin/head that I partially numb myself to all experiences! I also don’t like my friends or family (or myself) enough to enjoy spending time with them in my right mind!”

HAHAH like wtf!? Okay that’s an extreme statement and I’ll stop being mean to myself now, because that’s not cool. I was just trying to make a point. Most of the things on the list above are really fun, if you actually like the task or activity at hand, the people you’re with, you are in the right mood and have an open mind. It’s so simple now that I have a new frame of reference. Alcohol was decreasing the authenticity of all my experiences and therefore my life as a whole, as well as my future. For real. I feel like I’ve made the discovery of a lifetime!

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Kate is right!

I don’t care if you think this is corny or me attempting to stick up for sobriety because it has a bad rap for being boring and lame. Additionally, I understand that many people do not have issues with alcohol and everything I’m saying might be making you raise your eyebrows. This is just my experience, but the feedback I’ve gotten from previous posts about my counterproductive relationship with booze tells me that I’m not the only person who feels this way about alcohol. So back to the point. Now, I get a buzz by actually fuckin experiencing things in the raw. Undisguised, intense and unedited real-life shit!

Legit conversations with people I like and who I find interesting, vs. what I used to do at social events which was make small talk with anyone and everyone, as many of us created a false sense of camaraderie around drinking alcohol. Instead of sleeping in and feeling like shit, getting up before it’s light out to run, get fresh air, maybe see the sunrise and sweat my balls off with my friends before half the time zone has even woken up. Laughing at seriously funny shit and remembering it clearly later. Being by the ocean, on the lake or up a mountain, and fully experiencing my surroundings instead of chugging fireball and being half checked-out of the moment. Feeling fresh, happy and energetic in the morning, ready to start an awesome day because I don’t have a dehydration headache and I washed off my makeup before bed. Getting to enjoy a coffee with my amazing husband, hangover-free. There is way too much to go on and on about here!

For far too long I made the mistake of believing that booze made things more intense. Woooo let’s get pissed and have the best time! Wrong. Not drinking intensified everything in my life and it’s indescribable. Events, emotions, relationships. Not every intensified feeling is positive, don’t be fooled, but even facing shitty stuff head-on and coming out on the other side unscathed with some new wisdom and no hangover is pretty sick.

So that’s my non-drinking update. Yes, it’s stil going really well, and yes, I’d recommend it. No, I don’t miss having drinks, and no, I’m probably not going to ever drink again. My life is better and more fun and exciting than ever before. Okay, and I’m so sober right now and overwhelmed by how happy I am, I’m like crying. That’s some intense shit man ahahahahah ✌✌

“Everything you want is on the other side of Fear”…or in this case, Five.

I’ve told you about this before. Back in 2013, I subconsciously joined a non-existent club called the Slow Sucky Runners Club. Next, I developed a complex around running paces per kilometer that start with five. Anything below 6:00/km I classified as “too fast” and “too hard” for me. The numbers really don’t matter, this is just my example of something ridiculous and NOT REAL that I decided to believe about myself. Do you have a belief like this?

How can that be scary? Well, not being able to do something we want to do can be really scary. Fear of failing, not being good enough, etc, are common fears among many of us, not just relating to running or athletic performance. In running, the only way to fail is to give up. I am not giving up. And what does enough even mean? Good enough for what!?

Last Sunday, at the West Van Run 10km, something cool happened. It didn’t happen to me, I made it happen! I went in with a similar mindset to the Historic Half race in November when I broke two hours for the first time in the half marathon; I felt confident in the work I’d put in and I knew what I was capable of. I wasn’t thinking negatively about myself, I was believing good things and ready to try really hard and make good things happen. But first, rewind a bit.

I wrote exactly this in a recent post about self-limiting beliefs and upcoming race goals:

 

West Van Run 10km – March 5th

  • don’t go out too fast
  • say yes instead of no to discomfort
  • average pace goal 5:15

 

I’m calling myself out right now on the third bullet point. What a load of shit! I knew I wanted to run faster than 52:30 in this race, I wanted to run something closer to 50 minutes, with a very deep, secret goal to get down into 49:something. But I low-balled. Just in case I didn’t pull it off. WHY? After giving it some thought, I know it’s because if I didn’t do it, people would know because I shared it online. Because I thought I’d feel embarrassed that I thought I could run that time but I actually couldn’t. Because I’d have to admit to myself that I, on that given day, in those given conditions, didn’t manage to run as fast as I hoped to, although I knew it was physically possible and realistic. All kinds of inner-critic crap.

Just reading those reasons truly reminds me that it doesn’t matter if we set goals and don’t reach them on the first try, or second or third, or even ever! The point is that we are trying. I know deep down what is difficult yet realistic for myself, and so do you, for yourself. I also know that even though something may be possible, I still need to execute when the time comes to perform, and that isn’t always guaranteed to happen because I am a person, not a machine or a robot. From now on, when I share goals I’m going to triple-check with myself that I’m not bullshitting. If you read something I share and you think, “she’s bullshitting, that’s a sandbagger goal” then please, call me out. I’m going to go and edit that post with the spring race goals.

I didn’t go out too fast in the race on Sunday. I listened to my body, but also took full advantage of all the little downhills and wasn’t too conservative. I kept a close eye on my watch to make sure I didn’t make a rookie mistake and accidentally run a sub-5 minute kilometer early on. I reminded myself to respect the distance, like my friend Jeph told me to remember, and forced myself to keep holding back a bit. I trusted my training, and myself. My pace was pretty even up until around the seven kilometer mark and I told myself after that to start chipping it down. I definitely said yes instead of no to discomfort in the last couple kilometers. Mile repeats on the treadmill came to mind. Very hard, but manageable! The last 800 meters were basically gross, but I’ve gone there in training and I just focused on the fact that faster = being done sooner. I kept telling myself “you’ll be done in a sec!” and “today is the day” and “do it now.”

 

Shannon Banal Photography #westvanrun

 

The stupid fear of 5’s can piss off because I’m over it. My last three kilometer splits were 4:48, 4:40 and 4:30 !! Who am I? I’m myself, not that runner I decided I was before who never went out of her comfort zone. The times don’t matter. It’s the fact that I, and that we all, can do things that our inner critics tell us we cannot.

 

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Shannon Banal Photography #westvanrun – hmm my pain-face is a little misleading LOL

Guess what my average pace was, overall? 4:59/km hahaha! That’s right, not anything in the 5’s, 4:59/km! So yeah. Everything I’ve been wanting, or at least some of the things I’ve been wanting, like to trust my training, believe in myself and run my best 10k, were just on the other side of some fear. Where I’m at right now, it was just on the other side of FIVE. I know that what intimidates me will change over time, depending on where I’m at with running and what’s going on in my life; lots of what I want will be on the other side of other “scary” things. But what I have learned is that it’s not scary to try harder, it’s actually really fun and VERY rewarding.

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woo! like my Momentum Jewelry bracelet? I’ll have one to give away soon…

Running Past Self-Limiting Beliefs! (+ scary goals for spring race season)

WOOO it’s officially spring in less than a month, and spring training is well underway. Where I live, we have just four local races per year. Each is awesome in its own way, but I am extra excited this year. Our first one is April 9th and if you’re interested you can read more about it here #rupertrunners yayaaa

If you keep up with this blog at all, you may be familiar with the “category” I originally put myself in as a runner, which I now identify as the “slow, sucky runner” category, which isn’t even a real thing, by the way. If you run, you’re a runner. The terms slow and fast are totally relative and mean completely different things to different people. I do my best not to use the term slow anymore, because it is often used negatively, plus slow for one person is light speed to another. Running is running! However, I know I’m not alone when I say that right off the bat I decided I was slow, non-competitive and simply running to cross finish lines, stay fit, feel proud and collect bling. That’s it. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But looking back now, this was my way of protecting myself from failing, although I couldn’t tell you what that means exactly, and my way of avoiding doing difficult, scary stuff like trying new things and pushing through and past comfort zones. I didn’t even try to run faster until last summer!

Looking back now, this was my way of protecting myself from failing, although I couldn’t tell you what that means exactly, and my way of avoiding doing difficult, scary stuff like pushing through and past comfort zones.

I spent a large portion of last Fall working with Suzanne on extinguishing (or taming to the best of my ability) some self-limiting beliefs. Being a slow, sucky runner was one of mine that we focused on a lot, which really boils down to the Trump of all self-limiting beliefs for the majority of people, which is “not being good enough.”  When a person is born, he or she doesn’t have any beliefs about themself, the world or about life yet; we develop these beliefs over time based on our experiences and our interactions with parental figures and other authority figures such as teachers, coaches and care-givers. We then can find ourselves as adults with some very unhelpful ideas about ourselves. As we wrapped up the limiting beliefs unit (which was unbelievable, by the way,) the so-called finale was when I went to Vancouver to run Try Events‘ Historic Half with some friends. I got the chance to execute my race the way I wanted to based on everything Suzanne and I worked on together and it was a huge breakthrough race for me!

Here’s the story. In 2013 I ran my first half. The training was with Team in Training and I was very inconsistent. Despite half-assing the program I crossed the finish-line at the Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon in San Francisco in 02:32:xx and got my first taste of the complete race-day experience. Absolutely incredible! At the time, I knew nothing about pace or how long it took different people to run 21.1 km. I ran it to complete it, and in my opinion that’s exactly what should be done the first time around, whatever your first goal race is. I got a lot better with consistency and trained through the following spring to run the BMO Vancouver 1/2 in May 2014 and finished up with a 02:10:54. I was surprised and very happy with that 22 minute improvement! A new PR! (Personal record.) But I was still running totally within my comfort zone. By that time I’d gotten myself a watch for running (loved my Garmin Forerunner 10) and it was during that spring that I developed a full-blown complex around paces per kilometer that had a 5 in front of them. I for some reason decided that 05:xx/km was really fast, too fast for me to maintain, and that I was content staying where I was, pace-wise. These numbers are irrelevant to my point. Running faster was scary, hard and uncomfortable. So scary. But I decided it was okay because I believed I was just running to log distance, stay in shape, collect bibs and finisher’s medals and enjoy the camaraderie of running. At races, before even starting, I accepted that I was just there to participate, take it easy, let the “fast people” do their thing and be a part of the running community. The next three half marathons I ran I did not improve my finish time nor my race day experience, largely because of the things I believed about myself as a runner.

At the Historic Half, I didn’t believe that shit anymore, or was doing my very best not to believe it. I was focusing on new, inspiring beliefs that had real evidence. I proved to myself that I am not in fact a “slow, sucky runner” but that I am strong, and continue to get stronger every day. I can run faster and for a longer period of time than I believed was possible just a few months earlier. The sub-2 hour half was mine! This is just the beginning of a whole new mindset! If you are someone who has decided to believe something like I did about yourself, I encourage you to examine that belief and start to do what you can to change your thinking, which will in turn change your actions and your reality. Taking myself out of the slow, sucky runner category was the first step to seeing some great results and loving my sport of choice even more than ever!

Taking myself out of the slow, sucky runner category was the first step to seeing some great results and loving my sport of choice even more than ever!

side note: I am not saying that races are solely about finish times or about trying to win. What I am saying is that they’re the perfect opportunity to test the limits and prove to ourselves that we can do hard things that previously seemed out of reach or impossible.

I’m telling you all of this because self-limiting beliefs are a HUGE LOAD OF SHIT. Do NOT believe that you are not or cannot become as strong as you’d like to be! After I ran my first full marathon in 2016 there was a shift and I knew I was capable of more than I was giving myself credit for. Once I started experimenting with different kinds of speed work and doing workouts from my coach that intimidate me and make me uncomfortable (or even almost puke at times, lol) I realized that blasting through my perceived barriers was part of the exhilaration of being a runner! With all of this, and with Suzanne‘s help, I finally began to believe new positive and true things about myself and my capabilities instead of untrue things that held me back. We really do set our own limits. What we believe becomes our reality. Do not put yourself into a box. Don’t label yourself as a “back-of-the-pack’er” or “just average” or even as a runner who “places sometimes.” Try as hard as possible to shake off those preconceived ideas and GO FOR IT every single day. That’s my goal this season: to fully believe that I can keep getting better and better and continue to surprise myself by reaching new milestones – not every single race, but as often as possible.

That’s my goal this season: to fully believe that I can keep getting better and better and continue to surprise myself by reaching new milestones – not every single race, but as often as possible.

 

Really “Scary” Goals

(will be revised as races approach, and Coach Andrew might make them even scarier)

West Van Run 10km – March 5th

  • don’t go out too fast
  • say yes instead of no to discomfort
  • average pace goal 5:15 (totally bull. I wanted to, knew I could, and DID run faster than this. 4:59/km average pace!!!)

Prince Rupert 1/2 Marathon – April 9th

  • be mentally tough – don’t let the monotony of a road I run almost every single weekend psych me out or mess with my beliefs
  • approach “the big hill” as confident as ever
  • average pace goal 5:30, try for a final km split of 5:00

(this is not a sandbagger goal, I am running a 14 mile (22.5km) training run the day before and this is not a goal race of mine. If it were, I’d aim for more like 5:20/km average)

Tenacious Ten 10 miler – April 22nd

  • don’t go out too fast
  • 5:10-ish pace goal
  • be excited instead of nervous for this new and unique race distance
  • let the West Van 10km be a confidence booster!

Scotiabank Calgary Marathon – May 28th

  • STAY PRESENT and run the kilometer I’m in
  • trust my training
  • negative split the marathon for the first time
  • sub 5:40/km average pace goal

 

Remember those t-shirts that were an absolute must-have in the 90’s, NO FEAR? I want one. And that will be the end of this post. NO FEAR of discomfort, “failure,” new challenges or trying really f%#&ing hard.

nofear

 

Spotlight on the woman who teaches people how to create their ideal lives, Suzanne Fetting!

Have you ever wanted to make a serious change, or set of changes in your life but you either don’t know how, procrastinate making them happen, or just simply ignore the feeling all together? Have you ever compared things about your own life to someone else’s and felt numerous forms of discomfort because you want your life to be more like what their’s appears to be? I highly doubt anyone can answer a straight-up “no” to these questions. I can’t, and for a VERY long time my answer was a straight-up “yes”to both.

I was doing the things above NON-STOP in my twenties but didn’t know how to create the changes I needed to get closer to being genuinely happy. I was a stick in the mud. At one point, I found myself in such an uninspired place that I started to actively search for help. Maybe it would show up in a self-help book, or an inspirational speaker’s seminar or a course, but I was ready for anything because I was so tired of feeling the way I did; shitty with no goals and lack of excitement for daily life. Can you relate to this? Finding yourself in a place that maybe isn’t even necessarily bad, but could be so much better??

Deciding I wanted to feel better was enough to get the ball rolling, because during some relentless Googling in 2011, I came across a “Women’s Confidence Workshop” being held by a woman named Suzanne at Trout Lake Park in East Van. The tag-line was Find your Inner Strength! I had no clue what this meant but I signed up for the Absolute Confidence workshop anyway because I was desperate for some improvement, in any shape or form. I’m so thankful that I did, beause I ended up building a relationship with the best role-model I’ve ever met in my entire life. Over the next six years, including today, she has taught and continues to teach me how to create the life I want. This blog post is to shine a spotlight on my friend, Suzanne, possibly the most empowering teacher and mentor someone could hope to find!!!

So far, this post is a bit vague. Yeah, of course most people have had low parts of their lives..and yeah, lots of people would like to feel better than they already do, and everybody would like to have a life they truly love. Duh. Let me tell you a bit about Suzanne.

Suzanne is a coach who helps people uncover things about themselves (good, and not so good things) that they may not know, or be very in touch with. Things like:

  • passions
  • core values
  • goals
  • FEARS
  • self-sabotaging behaviours
  • beliefs formed about ourselves when we were little
  • people-pleasing
  • saying “no”
  • self-doubt

With her, a client works on strengthening the positive things, identifying negative things, and then figuring out productive ways to blast through barriers that are standing between them and absolute confidence in life. I’ll share the first testimonial that I wrote for Suzanne to elaborate a little on what I’ve already said. This was written in 2012 after working with her weekly for about nine months. Our sessions were on Skype for convenience, in case you’re thinking “well I don’t live in Vancouver.”

“Before hiring Suzanne, I was in the middle of a difficult emotional experience. Also, long before this particular situation, I had a low mood almost all the time and was living day to day worrying about the past or future and not enjoying the present at ALL. I had a lack of hobbies and passions and was totally unfulfilled with life. Prior to my work with her, I felt like I had no real purpose. It was like I was waiting for someone or something that would change things.

Developing confidence is important to me because it leads to finding your authentic-self. Working on this with Suzanne has taken me from where I was (the “dark place”) to where I am today, which is loving my life and enjoying everything I do on a daily basis, big and small. I know what I like and want, look out for #1 and feel fulfilled because she helped me uncover what excites and motivates me and what my unique gifts are. I was also able to finally give up the ways I allowed other people & my own thoughts to affect me negatively. Instead of waiting for life to change, now I make it happen by getting to know myself and creating opportunities. I actually feel really good nearly all of the time because I do things that I love and spend time with the right people. I’ve also learned to truly enjoy my own company which is really important, especially for someone who lives alone.

Working with Suzanne on a personal level is great. She’s welcoming and non-judgemental while always holding you accountable. She has great ideas and exercises and does a professional job running her business, always staying open-minded. The most important things Suzanne has taught me about are self-awareness, personal responsibility and how to really identify what matters to me most. My life is honestly different now; it was a major transformation and it’s not just me who notices. My friends and family also see that I have a completely different outlook and love life. I feel authentic and confident and every day is a good day.

If you’re thinking of hiring her, go for it. You will be amazed with what she’ll help you discover about yourself and the ways it will change the way you feel and live.”

So now you might be thinking, yeah okay well what does she teach people to make all of these great changes happen? Really good question with a very long answer, but I’ll try to be concise about the most important things I’ve learned from Suzanne and how she goes about coaching her clients.

Self-confidence, or a lack thereof, can be traced to the root of almost all personal successes as well as problems. This is not an exaggeration. Suzanne has shown me that the components of confidence, which include things like self-awareness, self-concept, assertiveness, belief systems, and personal responsibility are skills that can be learned and used to live the life I want and avoid most issues or challenges I face or used to face in daily life. Question: If you haven’t been taught how to change a tire, ride a bike, or cook a turkey would you expect to just magically know how to do these things? We, the adults of of today, are born in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. The majority of us didn’t grow up with a mentor who specifically taught us how important it is to know and like ourselves, value our uniqueness and take responsibility for our own happiness, so can we really expect these things to be totally second-nature? Sure, for a handful of people these things may come naturally, but if you aren’t in that handful, don’t beat yourself up. Suzanne is that mentor.

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An appointment with Suzanne is not like going to a counselor or therapist, it’s like having an exciting meeting with a friend who helps you crack open your brain, heart and soul and dig into the source of the issue(s) at hand. Need an example of an issue? Fear of going somewhere alone to meet people, going through a transition at work or home, doing things to please others before yourself, blaming someone else for your unhappiness, feeling you cannot be happy until you find a partner/have a baby/win the lottery or lose weight, fear of public speaking, saying you want to do something over and over but never taking initiative, believing things about yourself that aren’t true, feeling bored with life, not knowing how to stick up for yourself, etc, etc, etc!

After boiling it down together, she then provides the client with the tools needed to face these issues directly and learn to overcome them or manage them. That’s the homework. The sessions involve the investigation, and the homework is where the client takes responsibility and does the work; the reading, writing, monitoring, practicing and executing of the methods introduced during the session. It is up to the client to create new habits and make the magic happen under Suzanne’s guidance. And then report back to her! And when you do, she’s the most excited, supportive, enthusiastic person you could imagine having a personal discussion with.

Here are a couple more testimonials, also known as success stories, for you to read if you want some more examples of what Suzanne does for others! A very good friend of mine’s is here  and my own (more recent, from 2016) is here. I highly encourage you to read these. This woman is freaking unreal.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
– Steve Jobs

I wanted to write this post about Suzanne because she taught me how to create the life I want, just like I said in the title. She is the BEST. Everyone deserves to feel happy the majority of the time, and like they’re the boss of their own life. If you feel like you’re in a bit of a rut or need some assistance with things like prioritizing yourself, figuring out your passions, learning how to enjoy your own company, fear of “the unknown” or having more confidence in any area of life, think about connecting with her! Her business is something that I talk about daily to friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. I’ve had people ask me “how did you get so good at giving zero fucks?” and I just tell them, SUZANNE TAUGHT ME HOW. (She did’t call it that, though. LOL.)

She taught me the skills and wisdom necessary to create new habits and stop holding myself back from being the happiest and most inspired version of myself possible. It’s a good feeling! I want people to know that it is not necessary to settle for feeling less than wonderful.

One last note with respect to cost. Working on ourselves is an investment. It makes life better for the individual, but also for that person’s friends, family, partner and colleagues. Do you own an expensive pair of jeans, a snowmobile, electronics, go out for dinner sometimes, take a vacation occasionally or love to buy multiple pairs of sweet ass Nikes or RayBans? We spend our money on ourselves all the time. This is the same idea. It’s just not a garment, toy or glamorous trip. If you are feeling the slightest pull to contact Suzanne, DO IT!!!! Treat yo self!!! Or someone you care about! Or even just tell someone you know about her, because she’s the best and helps change lives ❤

suzanne

www.absoluteconfidence.com