Good love

They say a good love is one that sits you down, gives you a drink of water, and pats you on top of the head. But I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like a wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch! I say that’s a good love; one that burns and flies, and you run with it!
C. JoyBell C.

The Race

It was 5:30am. My alarm had just gone off. I think to myself, why do these races need to start so early. I’d rather be sleeping still, in a warm bed mind you. I was cold. We camped out in our motor home for the first time. We didn’t have the heater on and it was chilly. The kids were excited to sleep in the motor home, and our youngest was up several times through the night.

Sleep deprived, Jenn and I make our way to the Calgary Marathon. It was her first marathon, and I had signed up for the 10km. I hadn’t trained. Although I figured if I could walk 3 km in a half-hour, then I should be able to do 10km in around an 1:40 walking.

We get to the grandstand and the morphic field of the race hits me. I’m suddenly energized. The music, the other racers; I’m ready to go.

The marathon and the half start first. Then a half hour later, the 10k starts. I start out with another friend. I sacrifice the shivering in the beginning knowing I will soon warm up. My strategy is to finish and to walk any hill.

The first hill is a short one at the 1km marker. I walk it and loose my running partner. I start to get my groove and move past my stiff legs. Once I get going they loosened out.

Close to the 4km marker the song Live Like You Were Dying comes on my playlist. I start to think of Jenn dedicating each kilometer to her friends and family. Then I think of all her breast cancer friends. I decide to push for it and run through the song for all Jenn’s breast cancer friends. Thinking there were some who may have been too sick to run.

Shortly after the 5km marker, my daughters’ 3 favorite songs come on in a row. First, Reika’s favorite, Everything At Once; followed by Reese’s favorite, Let It Grow; followed by both their favorite, I’m a Monster. I look at the time and saw it was around 8am. I figured the girls were just getting up and were with me at that point of my run.

Close to 6km, I remember thinking, I’m hungry. I reach for a jelly bean then think how delicious the pancakes were going to taste at the end. And they were mighty fine pancakes. Thanks to the Calgary Stampede Caravan for those.

I cross the river and reach one of the largest spirit hubs. I was trying to figure out what my distance was as the last couple markers were not clear. I round the bend and I see the 8km marker and think, “Sweet! Only 2 left to go.”

I dig in a little further and round the final stretch. I give it my all to cross the finish line. I looked at the clock and saw 1:54. I thought, “Ok, that’ll do. What do I expect for not training.” I then realized it was the time for the half-marathon and to knock 30 min off. I was then happy and proud of myself. My official time was 1:22. I text my husband to let him know I finished and my time.

My kids were excited and Reika thought her and I were twins since we both had medals. Hers from soccer, and mine from running.

I was happy to meet up with my family to enjoy the day and cheer Jenn across the finish line.

It’s not about the race, or the shirts, or the medals. It’s the fact you chose to get out and be active. It is simply having the power to start and cross the finish line, no matter your time. It is about inspiring yourself to become a stronger person. You can do it, you know you can!

Right foot, left foot.

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Hair’s Off To You

A few weeks ago I was pondering life when a crazy thought came through my head. I was going to shave my head to help my friend, Jenn McCrea, raise funds for Rethink Breast Cancer. I quickly sent her a note asking if I could do this at her fundraiser. She was in awe I would even consider shaving my head, and she quickly got the ball rolling.

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Almost 5 years ago, I met the wonderful Jenn at a baby’s and you class we both attended. We were to introduce ourselves.

My name is Jen, my daughter’s name is Reika. She was born at the Rockyview General on September 23rd, and we live in Copperfield.

As I was saying my info, Jenn thought to herself: I’m Jenn, I live in Copperfield, and my son was born September 23rd at the Rockyview General. We instantly connected, and soon became great friends.

Shortly after Reika was born, I had a feeling I needed to run a half-marathon. That’s 21.1 km or 13 miles. I tried signing up for a race and it was full. It turned out alright as a few months later I was pregnant with my second daughter.

When my second daughter, Reese was born, I decided I was going to finally do the Melissa’s Road Race. When Reese was 1, I finally did the Melissa’s. This was the same year Jenn was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She was following my Facebook posts about my training progress, and after her double mastectomy, she took “I can’t” out of her vocabulary and decided to become a runner.

After her first race, she became hooked. Last year we did two half-marathons together. This year, Jenn is doing her first full marathon.

Through our running, we have been an inspiration to each other. Last year I sported pink hair extensions for Jenn during the half portion of the Calgary Marathon. This year I will be running the 10km with a shaved head in honor of the brave young women fighting, or who have fought breast cancer.

I may not be fast, yet I’ll be running; and Jenn, I’ll be there to cheer you across the finish line!

20130512-003803.jpg Photo courtesy of Douglas Dixon Photography http://www.douglasdixonphotography.com

Just Do It!

I lie awake in bed. My alarm has just gone off at 6am in the morning. I think to myself I need to get up and go for a run. Yet the other voice says, I’m so comfy in my nice warm bed. The first voice reminds the second, you have a 10km race coming up in just a few weeks and you haven’t started training.

I reach over and change my alarm to 6:45am and close my eyes. I lay in bed half asleep for another 30 minutes before finally crawling out of bed. I put on my running gear and decided to go for a short run. I took our puppy with me, and it ended up being a short run. It was under 2 km and I ran about half the distance and walked the rest while towing a tired, uninterested puppy behind me.

First thought, this was a pitiful run. Second thought, at least I laced up my shoes and went for a run.

As I was running I thought of my friend Jenn McCrea training for her marathon. I remember her telling me she took “I can’t” out of her vocabulary.

I also thought of Nike’s long time running ad campaign, Just Do It. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Do_It_(Nike)

I got out and Just Did It. One Nike ad that came to mind was of the heavyset kid going for a jog.

For me, exercising feels like a chore at times. Yet when I do get out there, I remember how good it feels.

The run was great. The weather was perfect. Cool, not to windy and dry. Even though it was short, I still enjoyed every minute. It only takes one step to get you started. So Just Do It!

Runners Unite

Last week’s news of the bombings at the Boston Marathon shook the world. How could someone do this?

I normally try to avoid the news as everything is always depressing. Yet some events, like this one, get everyone talking.

The whole thing kind of rattled me as I have run in a few races over the past year. As well, one of my good friends is training hard for her first ever marathon.

I knew I wanted to write about my feelings, yet I wasn’t sure how to express them until I read a Facebook post by Ben Zander a friend had shared.

Carol Burnett’s mother woke up everyday and made a decision. She then said: “I love my life.”

He gave the following assignment to Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra this past week: Wake up each day, think about it for a moment, then say “I love my life.”

One of his students had expressed difficulties with this assignment as she knew people who had been directly involved in this week’s event. How could she say she loved her life when she knew so many people had suffered?

I have always found it most important to go through a gratitude list when troubling times occur. This can shift your thoughts from worry and despair to thoughts of love, light and hope. The simple act of reminding yourself how grateful you are that your loved ones were safe. Or if you or a loved one were affected by the blasts, that the kindness of strangers to assist those that were injured. Another friend had shared with me that she had seen images of runners taking off their fuel belts to act as make shift tourniquets.

I am grateful to call myself a runner. As a runner it takes a lot of motivation, will power and determination to get yourself across the finish line. Whether it is a small race or the race of your life. Remember, you have taken the first step. One that many fear. There is no can’t!

My prayer is that these bombings will only make people stronger. I pray that the people affected by this event will be empowered to stay strong. I pray for those who have lost limbs to have the courage to carry on and once again race in the marathon. I pray for these people to keep moving forward one step at a time. Sure it is easy to give up and quit, yet it is another thing to have the strength to carry on.

The last half-marathon I ran, my legs felt like they were giving out on me at the 15 km marker. I started to cry. I simply wanted to lie down on the road and quit and cry. My friend whom I was running with is a breast cancer survivor. I helped to get her to this race. She was running ahead of me, and I swallowed my pride and told myself I cannot quit! Jenn would never quit, so I cannot quit! I have to finish this race for Jenn. It was at that point I decided to simply walk the last 6 km. I made it to the finish, and I did a personal best.

Bostonian’s, marathoners, fellow runners, and everyone. Never give up! You can do it. Even if you have to crawl across that finish line, you can do it!

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The first picture is of my friend Jenn and I after we completed our first half-marathon together at the 2012 Calgary Marathon. The second picture is my husband Ryan pushing my 2 daughters with me running to the finish line at the 2012 Melissa’s Road Race. The last picture is of my friend Jenn and I just before we ran the 2012 Melissa’s Road Race.

I think I can…

I’ve been seeing this story floating around on Facebook this past week about the father/son duo, Dick and Rick. If you haven’t heard the story, in a nutshell it is about how the father, Dick, has pushed his disabled son, Rick , in 85 marathons. As well they have also competed together in 8 triathlons, including Iron Man Hawaii.

This story nearly brought me to tears. I think of my own journey as a runner, and of those people around me. Too often we tell ourselves we cannot do it. Or people close to us think we are nuts and believe we cannot do it. Yet we CAN accomplish anything when we put our minds and our hearts to it.

Rick was disabled from birth and had no use if his limbs. The doctors told his parents to institutionalize him. They never did. When Rick was in school he wanted to participate in a charity run for a classmate. His dad, Dick, pushed away his fear and pushed his son in their first run together. Rick later told his dad that while they were running he felt like he was no longer disabled. Rick inspired his dad to keep running and to become more fit, eventually saving his life.

My friend Jenn never thought she could run. It took breast cancer and a running friend to make her think she could. She is now hooked and is the spoke person for the Calgary Marathon as the winner of So You Think You Can Run.

I have always loved running, yet I never really got seriously into it. I’m still not a serious runner and I tend to only lace up occasionally. More so when I know I’ve signed myself up for a race.

All it takes is one tiny step. Right foot, left foot… You know you can do it. Anyone can. Now is the time.

No Regrets

On my way to work this morning I was listening to some tunes when Tom Cochrane’s No Regrets came on my iPod. I thought to myself, how fitting right now. When you reflect back on your life, ensure you have no regrets, remember the good times you had.

As many of you know already, I ran another half-marathon on the weekend. I would have to say this was the most difficult run I have done to date. I now also know what my husband means by a “blown run”. (Fellow runners, you may also know what I mean by this term)

I was running with a great friend of mine who was inspired by my running when I did the Melissa’s road race last year. She was as much of an inspiration to me as I was to her. She wanted to finish the race in under 2:45, and her husband told us to start with the 2:30 pace bunny. We were keeping good pace for around the first 5-7 km when we heard, “runners onĀ  your left.” Jenn looked behind us and said, “are you the 2:45 pace bunny? I can’t possibly finish at 2:45.” I told Jenn to go ahead, that I’d be fine. I stuck with the 2:45 pace bunny, or just slightly back, for around the next 7 km. By the 15 k marker, my legs said they had enough. The devil on my shoulder was telling me to quit, lie down on the road and cry to my heart’s content. The angel was telling me not to quit, that Jenn would not quit. The angel kept telling me I could do it. I’d done that race before, so what was different. The angel even reminded me of a similar situation I was in when I had my second daughter. I was exhausted and getting frustrated about breastfeeding. The pediatrician asked if I breastfed my oldest. I told her yes. She asked for how long. I told her for 11 months. She then told me I could do it, and to not worry. I went on to breastfeed our youngest for 14 months.

This race was not for me. I was there to get Jenn where she needed to be. In fact, life has a funny way of working out. It was about 4 years ago I got the inkling to even want to run a half-marathon in the first place.Yes, that first one was for me, yet it inspired Jenn who had never been a runner in the first place to lace up and find a new passion.

I did finish the race, and ended up walking the last 5 km. My husband was waiting at the last turn with my 2 beautiful daughters in the stroller, and as a family we all came in together. I couldn’t have done it without my husband, and without Jenn. I’m proud of us all.

I’m dedicating today’s blog to all the people who are fighting a battle with cancer, have fought a battle with cancer and won, and those whose battle was lost. You can do this, you can reach the finish line.

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