PUMP up the JAMmie – Day 22: F*#k Off, Fear.

When I was a raging piss tank I didn’t really have fear on my radar. I basically had zero sense of self and did the same old things, day after day, unknowingly living in a shitty little comfort zone. I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but I was strongly avoiding making changes, and the unknown. These are two of the most common fears.

Nowadays, sober, I’m almost hyper-aware of the feelings that come up when I decide to make a change, try something new, or challenge myself. With change and the unknown comes fear, in some shape or form. Suzanne Fetting taught me how to view fear differently and how to approach it head-on. These days, when something I want to do brings up anxiety or vulnerability, I truly see it as simply a chance to tick that fear the fuck off my list. If the inner critic was a living, breathing thing, I’d punch it in the jugular. Worrying, approval-seeking, rationalizing, procrastinating and victimizing are things I just do not have time for anymore. Quitting drinking is the biggest thing that helped me get away from those self-sabotaging behaviours. I hope that by sharing some of the random shit that goes through my head, maybe someone else will feel inspired to stop letting fear hold them back from doing what they want to do, big or small! My current marathon mission comes with many forms of fear, but I’m talking about life entirely, not just trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Here’s one from recently:

Until two weeks ago when my friends and I went to Seattle for the Tenacious Ten, I had never rented a car, driven in a city other than Vancouver, across the border, or in the States. Terrifying!! LOL. To some, this may sound very odd. I hate driving a vehicle I’m not used to. Also, driving anywhere unfamiliar has always been one of those things that can cause me anxiety. Maybe it’s from growing up in a small town with four sets of traffic lights, no such thing as rush-hour or freeways, and never the need for directions. Who knows. I wanted to drive to Seattle from Vancouver for the race because it was cheaper than a second flight and I’m saving money for school, but more so because I wanted to cross this fear off the list! In July, when I head to Jack & Jill to Pump up the JAMmie, I’ll also be driving to Washington State (possibly alone), and I didn’t want it to be the first time!

When I moved to Vancouver for University over ten years ago, I didn’t have a car. I got accustomed to the transit system and therefore avoided city driving. When I graduated, I bought myself a brand new VW Golf yet continued to take transit a lot of the time because I had no self-confidence and driving in the city made me SO panicy. Eventually, I drove in the city regularly, but never 100% confidently. Then, I moved back to small town comfort! (NOT to avoid city driving, LOL!)

Last weekend I finally said fuck it and did what most others would do – drive to where they want to go! My friends helped with directions and I probably annoyed the shit out of them being so anxious, but it’s done and now I can drive to the USA and not shit my pants about it. Woo. Done. What was I afraid of?? Why did it take me until the age of 33 to do this? Because I used to unknowingly let fear restrict me; all I did was get drunk and never do much outside the box of mediocrity that I was existing in. I was oblivious to living fully and doing what I wanted to do, big or small-scale. I’m not being mean to myself, I am seeing the growth for what it is and appreciating where I’m at now. Yay, new life.

Fears I’m currently wrestling with:

I’ve wanted to do something different, career-wise, for years before I actually started making change happen last fall. Even though I loathe my current field of work, for a long time I believed what my inner critic told me and in turn, was too scared to act:

“You spent years getting this degree, this is what you do now.”

“This education was expensive, you can’t walk away.”

“You make so much money, just learn to live with the job.”

“Changing careers will require moving away temporarily, and you can’t do that when you’re a homeowner and have a spouse.”

“You could run out of money as a student without income. Way too risky.”

“You are too old to go back to school.”

“You’re selfish.”

FUCK. OFF. INNER. CRITIC!

School starts September 17th. I’m a bit scared, but it’s not holding me back. I look forward to being a student again, even though I have thoughts about being the old person in the class, fear of being a driver in a new place, and running out of money. LOL. Know what I have to say to all of this, though? WHO CARES. Don’t dwell, just do.

I hope that you can join me in screaming (in my head, cause I’m at work) BRING IT ON, FEAR. Seriously. Bring it on, any kind, really big or so small it seems ridiculous. It scares the crap out of me that I’m going to try to run 03:31:18 in the marathon this summer. What if I fail? Will someone laugh and say, “I knew she couldn’t pull that off“? Will I be able to withstand the training? Will I be confident and mentally tough enough to truly put forth my best effort, come marathon day?

I am scared, but these days it just feels like adrenaline. I’m not being held back by it, like the old me. Suck it, fear. There is no time to waste! Capitalize! Do you have something you didn’t do for a long time because it made you nervous, uncomfortable or anxious?? Or that you still haven’t done? Tell me about it.

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RUN 2017 – recap & lessons learned!

It’s mid-December. How? I feel like yesterday I was in the final weeks of training for the Dopey Challenge at Disneyworld. That was in January! So much happened this year in my running life. Awesome races. Some necessary let-downs. Some massive breakthroughs. This year, I can confidently say I transitioned from believing that I was “just a slow runner, running solely for fun” (my protection from failure) to knowing that I’m making serious gains by saying fuck off to negative, self-limiting beliefs about my body and mind’s capabilities. I also made the game-changing adjustment from being results-oriented to process-oriented. Yes, it’s an ongoing adjustment, but serious progress was made! Nothing makes me as proud as this and I can’t thank my coach and Lifelong Endurance enough for all they’ve helped me achieve so far!

Here are some highlights of the year of running, and what I learned from it all. Some of this is great, some not so much, but it ALL contributed to growth. People say to be patient, which is so annoying, but it’s true and worth it! I look to seeing what happens in 2018.

January

Completed the Dopey Challenge at Disneyworld! I went for the bling, and to run the marathon (my third) on my birthday! I ended up finishing in 4:11, which put me into a position of having run a PR in each marathon so far. I was now officially OBSESSED with finish times! (This is bad). The only marathon I had actually run strong and smart was the first one back in May. The final 10-15KΒ of marathons 2 and 3 were brutal. It would take me about nine months to understand the lesson that: focusing completely on an outcome instead of the process, doesn’t work.

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February

Now I was training for the Calgary Marathon, which I have no idea why I signed up for in the first place. I knew nothing about the event or course, which is not a good way to pick out a goal race. The lesson I would come to learn:Β when gunning for a big goal, pick a course that is supportive of said goal!

March

Double 10K weekend! I was still very intimidated by “running fast”, and shorter races generally require faster running! In the first of the two, I realized that the pace I had been thinking of running on Sunday (the goal race) was a total sand-bag. I ran the Hot Chocolate Run pretty conservatively that Saturday but it got me into a good mindset for the next day. The WestVanRun 10K was the first race ever where my average pace was under 5min/km. 4:59 baby! That was a big breakthrough for me, mostly in the confidence department! I ran that race strong and smart from start to finish. The lesson I learned: don’t set arbitrary limits!

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April

Rupert 1/2 Marathon time! At this point, I had only just broken two hours in the half marathon the previous November at the Vancouver Historic Half. Also, I had a slightly negative attitude towards small, local runs in my community. I enjoyed the hype of bigger events and the excitement of runcations. Looking back, I think I also liked how anonymous it was, running in cities that I didn’t live in. I went into the Rupert 1/2 with zero expectations but ended up tucked in behind the two winners for the majority of the race! This was the smartest race I’ve run, up until that point. I finished strong and earned myself a near 7 minute personal best and a silver medal!! (Two golds were awarded to the winners, my friends Jessie and Erin, who crossed the finish line holding hands!) Another confidence booster! The lesson I learned: the race is what you make it. I can do my best any time I decide to. Of course this had me plugging my new PB into all the race calculators to see if I was on track for a sub-4 marathon…I was now fully convinced that I should be able to run sub-4 in Calgary next month. (This is bad).

Shortly after I ran a pretty strong in the end, but poorly paced 10-miler in Seattle. I was a little over-confident from the last race and ran too fast in the beginning, fading significantly after 10k. Still a great race, awesome weekend with my girl Whitney, and a unique distance, too, for us Canadians.Β Lesson: don’t go out too fast. It always feels good at the start. Don’t.Go.Out.Too.Fast.

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May

Calgary. Ugh. Hahaha. I went subconsciously knowing I wasn’t ready for sub-4, but still wishing for it. That doesn’t make sense! My long runs in training were done with the wrong attitude and execution. My obsession with improving and running a “fast time” was unhealthy! Calgary sucked for me. I knew from like 12k in that I was out of my league, with regards to this arbitrary goal. The heat didn’t help, either. It’s okay though, because it’s been a big part of this marathon journey so far! Lesson: goals should be challenging, but realistic and approached with confidence. We can’t do in a race what we haven’t done in training. (Physically, or mentally).

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Crystal & I saved each other on this day! So happy to be done.

June

I felt ripped off and dissatisfied after Calgary so I frantically searched for another marathon to run! Stupid Calgary! LOL, just kidding. The Rock’n’Roll Seattle Marathon was three weeks later. I ran the first half with the 4-hour pacers, frantically looking at my watch and dreading failing again. Then, at half-way I had a GI disaster and the rest of the race I ran-walked in a “this is so unfair” head space. I fully admit it, I felt sorry for myself. I wondered why running comes naturally to others, but not me. I wondered if maybe I just wasn’t cut-out to run marathons. At least it was a gorgeous course and my weekend with Marcie was really fun! Finishing a marathon is a feat in itself, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be so I didn’t see it that way. This was destroying me mentally because I was chasing after something that I wasn’t prepared to achieve yet. Lesson: desperately chasing a goal isn’t the way. Build confidence through proper preparation and then stalk it down like a boss.

Let me say, I am so glad Calgary and Seattle happened. πŸ™‚

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crying on the inside ahahah

July

I ran easy through July, maintaining a good base but not doing any structured training. I’m proud of myself for this, because I am so goal-oriented that I seem to need a goal race on the calendar all the time and each week planned out! The CIM was on my December calendar, but the training cycle for that would start towards the end of August. Lesson: it’s important to take time to run just because you love it!

August

I ran a humbling 10K in Montreal. I figured that because over five months had gone by since that breakthrough in March, and since I’d been running more and training harder most of the year, that I should be able to run a PR. There’s that should again. I know better than to should all over myself! Suzanne taught me better! It’s not about what we theoretically could do, it’s what we ACTUALLY DO! Anyways, I went out too fast and obsessed over my watch instead of running the race! I was just thinking about the finish time! I still had no idea yet how to be process-oriented! So yeah, I blew up just after 5k and struggled to hold pace for the second half. Oh well, I really did learn a lot from how shitty I felt afterwards from burning out and totally giving up. The lessons I learned that day were: get that ego under control, a big ego is not your friend. And, dont’ go out too fast. I feel like I’ve heard that one before…

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September

I ordered a book called The Resilient Runner off Amazon shortly after that bust in Montreal. The book is awesome; simple and to the point, and it helped me focus on training one day at a time. I found some real consistency at this early point in CIM training when discovering how helpful it was to break up each run or workout into pieces to stay focused. I started running paces that I never thought I’d be able to. It felt so good to run “fast” (relative term, I know) and I hammered out each day’s prescribed run, feeling more confident weekly! This book really solidified the lesson to focus on what you’re doing right now, today. It’s really all you can do!

October

This was my month of shit-kicking all the workouts. I truly looked forward to every single run, but especially the tempo runs, interval workouts and even the scary track sessions. Coach Andrew had me run a fit test and it was a huge confidence booster! I held a pace for 20 minutes that, a year ago, I’d have laughed if someone told me I could one day run that pace at all, let alone for 20 whole minutes! Mindset was what made October so magnificent. I was believing in myself hard and making friends with being uncomfortable, learning the lessonΒ that by staying in the now and welcoming discomfort, really cool shit goes down!!!

November

The scariest long run of EVER was on the schedule – 30K progression-style run. I knew I could do it though, and I did. I had such an improved grasp on pacing by now and ran each 10K at easy, moderate, then up-tempo. WOOO!!! Finally, I felt like I could head out with a plan, and execute it. I was learning how to be in charge! I wrote a post about these feelings here, if you want.

Then, time for a tune-up before CIM: the RUNVAN Fall Classic. I wanted a PR badly, but the course looked challenging from a pacing point of view, so I went in with the goal to do my best and keep a strong mental game. It went well! I pretty much tied the Rupert 1/2 marathon pace, falling just 7 seconds short of a new personal best! I think I ran my fastest finish-kick EVER and really enjoyed treating the day as a dress-rehearsal for my goal race, now three weeks away. There was a point in the Fall Classic where I felt really tired and walked a few steps, two or three times. I was disappointed in this, but it reminded me that if I hadn’t walked, maybe I’d have a new personal record? Maybe! Lesson: shuffling is faster than walking. LOL. We are rarely incapable of running another step, unless collapsed on the ground unconscious.

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December

Marathon time. Ready! Now, I knew what it felt like to run strong and at goal pace, even after 2+ hours, because I did it in training! I knew how to start running easy, without thinking about the end. I had mantras. I had rituals. I was super excited about THE PROCESS. This was going to be an adventure, not a frantic struggle from the beginning to try to end up with a specific time on the clock!

I closed off 2017 in the best possible way – by running 42.2km from start to finish, smart and focused. When it was time to think about the final stretch (hint – when I got there) I powered through to the most rewarding experience of my running life. In November, I told Coach Andrew I had a boner (sorry, that’s what I said though) for a time of 03:51. We talked about an A+ perfect-day-ever goal of sub-3:50, but I told him about the 3:51 because it felt attainable yet very challenging, AND because I love math, it would be an exact 20-minute improvement over my personal record at Disney. We knew I was in the range of 3:59-3:49 for sure, unless disaster struck.

I finished in Sacramento with a 03:51:18. A twenty-minute, nine-second personal record! It’s funny because even though I love this SO much, it doesn’t really matter in the end. I ran the whole race, never walked, squished all negative thoughts, fought through the final 5km when it started to get really hard, and finished as strong as I could. I didn’t really think about my finish time until the final mile! Every lesson learned all year came into play at CIM. You can read about the CIM here if you are interested, it’s a fantastic event!

 

So that was 2017! I’m stoked for whatever 2018 will bring as I continue to work and grow with Coach Andrew and the Lifelong Endurance team. I have some fun races lined up and some SCARY AS SHIT (BUT REALLY AWESOME) GOALS!!! Those will come in another post. Coach Andrew and I are going to lay out some cool adventures, and it might be fun for you to follow along and see how it goes, or even join in on the training and/or racing adventures with us! Stay tuned and Happy New Year to you!!!

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Positive Feedback just made my day!

An acquaintance just approached me to tell me how my sober-related blog posts have helped her nearly eliminate booze! She told me that what I write about is making a difference in her life, and others. My heart is like exploding! I share what I do because there was a time when I needed that so badly, but couldn’t find anything relatable for a long time! Nowadays there are way more people pumping up sobriety’s tires and it’s so cool!!

I remember when I felt extremely embarassed by my thoughts about knowing I had issues and needed to stop. It felt like I was a big freak who had all these uncommon problems that stemmed from drinking too much, too often or both. These days, sobriety is a movement. People are getting tired of feeling like shit and being told by media, society, etc. that alcohol is required for everything! As a sober person, I now notice constantly how obsessed society is with alsohol. If you take a second and pay attention, you’ll see too. It’s annoying! And ridiculous. Celebrations, fun times, dealing with stress, coping with loss, relaxing, rewards, crafting, dinner parties, cooking, surviving parenting, and the list is endless! And sorry but what the fuck is beer-yoga?

Alcohol does not cause problems for all people, but it does for way more than I ever thought. I know this because people talk to me about it now, because they know they can. I love that! Congrats to you, if you’ve recognized that it’s better for you, as an invidual to cut down or give booze the boot. Clear headed, bright and shiny for the win.

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.Β  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.Β  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

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 VolΓ©e, 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?Β 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 πŸŽ„ 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 πŸ˜‰

@jammiekomadina