Monday, December 23, 2013

'Tis the Season

First of all, a big congratulations to Mary exciting with baby #2 on the way! As one who has successfully returned to training and racing after childbirth x 3, let me tell you that it is both very rewarding and challenging. The decision itself to postpone a season with the hopes of having a baby is difficult. You want your privacy and don't know if it will even happen, and have onlookers wondering where you've been and what is next. You stay active in the best way you can for 9 months then once giving birth (and I could write an entire post about this!), you have a sweet, little bundle of love who is entirely dependent on you. You shove your much bigger-than-normal breastfeeding boobs into what now looks like a tiny sports bra and dash out the door hoping the EBM (expressed breastmilk) does not get spilled. You are up in the night, barfed and pooped on, and pray against colic. I could go on and on.
There is nothing more motivating and exciting than returning. You find a rhythm with your baby and a healthy balance between experiencing this blessed adventure as an art and a science. I always slept/rested when the baby did, and knew by my body's and baby's signs when it was time to feed. It really is a wonderful thing. You continue to listen to your body, set realistic and timely goals, and make adjustments along the way. One very valuable thing I learned from Jonathan's cousin (who has 5 kids) is to not look at the clock. Don't get caught up on the number of hours you or your baby sleep (or don't sleep). Some of my best races were after sleepless nights (hey, I had a bit of practise on occasion)!  I always followed the E.A.S.Y. pattern. Eat. Activity. Sleep. You.
And I loved it.
I've given many tips to many female athletes over the years - from the recreational runner,  "Oh dear I'm pregnant and am to run a marathon next month...please keep it confidential and what should I do?" to the elite runner, "Can I train and race competitively while breastfeeding?" (of course! I ran my 2:32 in Rotterdam, 2 weeks after my 13 month old stopped nursing) and much more in between. Somewhere in my answer it will always include,"Listen to your body".
I think I will be referring people to Mary's post (link above) from now on. She is realistic, honest, wise, and driven, and has really captured it ever so well. She is a great friend whom I highly respect and so wish was closer. Like Lanni and I after worlds, she will be looking for redemption after her similar not-so-great experience. Her PB is also 2:28 and there's no doubt in my mind that she will turn some heads in her return.  Having a baby and returning to an elite level of competition, including hopes to qualify for the Olympic Games, is no easy task or guarantee but there's a hunger like no other. I guess I should know (;

December has been a great month. I'm nearly back to my weekly physio and massage routine, and have continued to increase my running intensity and mileage with cross training, weight training, core, and stretching. I've had some tough treadmill speed workouts in prep for a speedy spring. The Commonwealth Games standards for the 10,000 m  were recently released - A 31:45, B 32:05. Not sure I will be able to crack it and won't risk injury in the attempt to do so but will benefit from the effort.We may adjust our plan, depending on the details of the standards for the 2016 Olympic Games.
I've continued to enjoy a balanced diet with a few more sweet treats here n' there. There a a few items I will eat once a year in my off-season e.g. cinnabon, burger n' fries, peanut buster parfait. I enjoy the moment and it seems to only be necessary until the next off-season. At this time of year, there isn't anything better than getting in a great workout followed by a turkey dinner, shortbread cookie or butter tart (my Aunt makes the BEST butter tarts that I look forward to savoring every Boxing Day).
Thank you for your continued love, prayers, and support. 2012 was a great year, 2013 was even better, and 2014 will be so much more!
Enjoy this CHRISTmas and remember - Jesus is the Reason for the Season!
I'll leave you with some more pictures and a great quote, recently written by Ryan Hall.

“I don’t run for a paycheck, for fame, or to meet others’ expectations. I run to test the limits of my God-given ability and go after the dreams He has put in my heart- big dreams.” ~ Ryan Hall

I've been so blessed to have access to free, toddler skates at the nearby Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre twice per week. The timing is perfect to go right before getting the boys from school, across the street.

Love. If only there was a dark chocolate, peanut butter combination chocolate bar. Lanni, you must know!

 Saucony "Find Your Strong"? She's right here, finishing her last (8th) round of chemo - a great Christmas gift don't you think? Britanie and I have drawn strength from each other in our journeys this year. As they were trying to get her uncooperative port to work that morning I supported her by saying, "The last mile is never easy. And often very ugly!".     


Lanni and I look forward to another healthy rivalry in 2014. Thank you, Canada Running Series.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

From burpees and pushups to banquets and skating

November was a great month of resting and relaxing while slowly building some mileage and a tiny bit of intensity with the usual cross-training, core, strength work, and stretching. I've enjoyed the change-up in routine with things like burpees, pushups, planks, heavier weights, and circuit work. Takes me back to my hockey days at the University of Guelph. After a 2 hr practice on the ice we would often head over to the athletic centre to do weights and circuit work. I was about 15+ lbs heavier and could bench press my weight (135 lb). What a difference in body types between sports.
December and January will see a gradual build as I prepare to compete in my first race, sometime February. Coach Rick is finalizing the plan with the focus of 10k/10,000 m and half marathons in the spring and summer.
Again, the pictures tell the rest of what I've been up to. Forgive me for the hashtags. It's just too easy.

Coach Rick and I did a presentation to some phys. ed. students at North Park Highschool in Brantford. It was a great way to say thanks for letting me use their track. Didn't get a picture of us but captured this great shot of Brantford's, Kevin Sullivan. If it was his 5th gold medal at OFSAA x country, I remember watching him win that day, after competing myself.

After dropping off the boys and getting in a Chariot stroller run, we rushed downstairs so I could ride the bike and do some other exercises while watching my 100 Huntley St. recording. Leah thought it was pretty neat to see her mommy on the screen!

5 main factors that make a great marathon: weather, training (volume & intensity while free of injury/illness), competition, pacer, and passion. Yep, that's what Lanni and I had, Oct 20, 2013!

She is just loving am I! It's a lot of work to get them bundled up and into the van. It starts with just a few minutes but quickly grows to a great amount of confidence and independence. We've only been out three times and she's already without the pusher.
Chocolate chip, whole wheat, pumpkin and banana muffins. Great for kids' lunches and adults' coffee breaks.

Must set the bar high. I was recently asked how I went from 3:28 to 2:28. My reply was "1 hr faster after: 11 years, 10 marathons and 3 kids #dreambig". Write down your biggest goal and when you want to achieve it, then work backwards. A few years ago, I set a goal of running fast enough to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games by doing some math, which included baby breaks and faster times in shorter distances. Almost there!

Getting out the door can be difficult with kids. I must say I am thrilled with our new system, which teaches our kids responsibility, respect, and independence. I'm no artist but I think you can figure it out!

Had a great time at the Grand Opening for the new Black Toe Running store with Olympians Eric Gillis, Sarah Wells, Matt Hughes, and Damian Warner.

Rejean (pacer at STWM 2012, 2013) is working at the Black Toe Running store. Great name, don't you think!
Soon enough it will be Leah's turn for swimming lessons and hockey.

Like many parents, after a while we give our smart phones to the kids at the arena when they get bored. They can keep themselves entertained with a lot of movie-filming and picture-taking.

Had a great day with Brittanie as she flew through chemo #6/8. That pneumonia only cost her a week so she should still be done before Christmas!!!

On the GoTrain for another Toronto event. Half hour drive to the train and 1 hr to Union. Napping, reading, emailing, coffee-drinking, and relaxing beats driving through Toronto any day!

No afternoon nap for this 2.5 yr old that day. I guess the winter air in the cozy Chariot running stroller  for 1.5 hr will do that to you.

Thank YOU, Alan Brooks, for everything you've done for runners and the GTA community. Outstanding.

So glad I could share a few words before helping with the awards at the Canada Running Series STWM Charity Awards night.

Lanni just returned from another Chiba Ekiden relay in Japan with Team Canada. She officially started her well-deserved break with some turkey while celebrating American Thanksgiving.

Just saw this the other day. Love the spirit! Thanks for sharing, Alyssa. Great support from the Canada Running Series. #CDNmarathoningparents
Great way to end the weekend with a family skate at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, our second home. #nobrokenribsthisseason