The Rocky Mountain Soap Co. half marathon on Saturday May 23rd is my first official running race. But the truth is, I feel like I have been running races for the past few years. Racing home after a day at work to race my kids to this lesson and that lesson. Racing to get the kids to bed on time so that I can spend some quality time with my husband, only to fall asleep on the couch. Racing to keep up with the on goings and happenings of my closest friends. I have been able to keep a good pace in all these races. I was behind my pace on the most important race of all, the race to keep myself mentally well and physically healthy. In the fall of 2014, I decided that if I was going to keep up at this pace, I needed to make a change. I needed something that was just for me. Something where I could challenge myself mentally and achieve something that would benefit me physically as well. I have several friends who are runners and have long admired their accomplishments from the sidelines. I also have a brother who runs like a gazelle. Somehow between wishing I could join my friends and thinking I have similar DNA as my brother, I decided I would learn to run.
At the same time I was coming to this realization, a friend of mine connected me with a personal trainer here in Edmonton that held a running club. She was looking for all ability levels. I was scared, nervous and intimidated. I looked at the Facebook profiles of the other members in the group. They were all sporting images of themselves at race events with big grins on their faces as if they just conquered the world. I wondered how I would fit in and questioned if I belonged. Plus, I had to overcome this personal hang up. You know that episode of Friends, where Phoebe is running through Central Park? Well that’s me. I have these awesome bow legs that make my running stride a little comical. But you get what you get right? The running coach got in touch with me and told me I was exactly who she was looking for. At the time I had no idea that she was who I was looking for too.
Day 1 of run club I was a nervous wreck. I woke up and had knots in my stomach. Running coach emailed the group the night before saying we were going on a nice light, easy pace, 5km trail run. Insert panic. Up until this point I was taking casual “jogs” that lasted about 20 minutes and I am quite certain my children could have lapped me and you likely could have walked the distance faster. But two days prior I went out and bought a pair of new shiny shoes, a headband and running tights. I arrived on time and introduced myself to the others. One girl wore a jacket with the NYC Marathon on the back, another with a Race the Planet badge on her sleeve, running coach had death race embroidered on her shirt. What am I doing here? You can only imagine the panic. I was grateful that I convinced a good friend of mine to join me. It felt better having her there. She kept reassuring me and telling me I was going to be ok. Off we went. One foot in front of the other, heavy breath after heavy breath. This lasted about 7 minutes. I started to walk and catch my breath; running coach said I was doing great. What? I feel like I am about to die! After a few minutes we run some more, walk some more, run some more, walk, walk, and walk. It took 45 minutes but I finished it. NYC marathon girl and Race the Planet girl gave me high fives at the end. Bestie hugged me. I cried. In that moment I knew this was exactly what I was looking for. This is what I was craving. Time to listen to my heart and time to connect with my breath. I knew that I would be back.
Fast forward 6 months and I can tell you that I am empowered. I am thankful. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I am running distances that I didn’t think were possible. Just last week, I ran nearly 25 km’s of amazing river valley trail. For the past six months, three times a week, I have been running these gorgeous trails in Edmonton. 25 below zero, no problem. Fresh snow falling, makes the run that much more thrilling. Running in the darkness with snow crunching underfoot, incredibly calming. I have made profound gains in my personal well- being. I am less stressed, exercise more patience and have a more positive approach to each day that goes by. At age 37, I am in the best shape of my life. I learned that runners are about the kindest group of people you can get to know. I have felt supported each step of the way by not only my run club, but by my husband, family, brother and numerous friends. Without all this support and encouragement, I am not sure I could have made it this far. I am blessed to be surrounded by so many awesome people who make active living a priority.
I am grateful that my first ½ marathon is the Rocky Mountain Soap Company race. Along with 10 of my best girlfriends, we are proud to be supporting Rethink Breast Cancer. By day, I am a surgical coordinator for a plastic surgeon with a specialty in breast reconstruction. Every day, I speak with women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Sometimes I sit across from women who are my age, sometimes ten years younger. The strength and courage these young women display is remarkable. Amidst treatments, medical appointments and filling out forms for surgeries, they are doing school drop offs and pick- ups and making sure there are enough frozen meals for the weeks ahead. Some are planning weddings and some are graduating from University. These women are survivors. These women are strong. It is a privilege to be running in support of an organization that highlights and brings awareness to the under 40 crowd.
On May 23rd, I will be sporting a t-shirt with the team name WTF? … ‘Where’s the Finish?’ There are 11 of us in all. But you’ll be able to spot me as I am the tall one that runs like Phoebe. I can’t imagine a time where I won’t be running. My only regret is that I wished I found it sooner. Crossing the finish line will be a thrilling moment for me and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Can you believe we are less than a week away from Race Day?
Are you excited? I sure am!! And little nervous too!
It's going to be my 36th half marathon, and I am still nervous. So, I thought I might share some race day tips prepared for race day.
1. RELAX and FOCUS
Before you start the race - no matter your pace - take some deep breaths. Focus on your breathing. If you start to feel nervousness build while running, think about your rhythm. Or sing along to whatever is on your iPod. It will help calm you down. Channel your nervous energy for good. I find that being nervous can be a good thing. Remember: You are fabulous.Stay strong, stay focussed and get 'er done! I find I often compare myself to other runners. And in a negative way. Negative self-talk leads to anxiety. When I get anxious, I like to practice positive affirmation. I HAVE. I CAN. I WILL. I AM READY! High-5, ladies. Let's do this!! You have no control over anybody else out there. Run your best race -- pay attention to yourself. Don't say, "OMG what have I done?" Tell yourself: "Hooray! I’m excited to be here. I can’t wait to start!"
2. HAVE FUN
Are you meeting friends? Great! If you are going solo, smile and within no time others will be chatting along with you. The atmosphere out here is awesome. Come early, walk around the expo, there are a lot of runners out here who feel just like you. You will no doubt have a lot of fun, checking out the merchandise, cheering other runners on and laughing with your new and old pals.
3. ROCK YOUR RUN
If you run with music, make sure you have some music that makes you wanna MOVE. There are always tracks that motivate. Load up that iPod with all your favourite tracks that keep you moving and put pep in your step! And yes...dance on the route if you want to! Or sing out loud. I have.
Rewarding yourself is important. Whether its with purchasing a little something at the expo, or going for a drink or lunch afterwards, it is important to celebrate your achievement. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and treat yourself!
5. PUSH ON
When you want to stop, keep moving. Remember, even walking is moving. It's all good. If your mind starts to say, "I can't", tell yourself you CAN. Push on and you will get over that hump. Repeat, if necessary, until you hit the finish! There are so many runners and walkers and cheer squads out there, so you know there they can raise your spirits and give you inspiration out there if you need that too.
The number one thing I tell myself before every race is: You Got This. Your pre-race routine should include nutrition (eat a nice healthy meal - nothing out of the ordinary) the night before race day. Remember that a warm-up (whatever works for you), positive self-talk, some deep breaths and pre-race port-a-potty visits are important. Get there early and soak up the amazing atmosphere. And the bathroom line-ups are shorter then too. (haha).
See you out there this weekend! I can't wait!