I used to run regularly. Wasn’t particularly good at it but I did it. That was before depression it me again; before my dad moved to a retirement home; before the pandemic.
Since March of 2020 I struggled with false starts. In April I ran on and off for a few months. Then the summer hit and I’m not sure what happened. I started walking more I think. Started walking 10k to my downtown job and then signed up for a virtual race in the fall and walked a marathon.
I won’t lie. My body felt broken after that and I stopped everything again until January 2021. With the new year ahead of me I had another false start with running and did well for a few months. Then I stopped.
I’ll blame work. I started doing extra shifts at covid assessment clinics and vaccination clinics. I started working more Saturdays. Anything and everything to avoid having time to exercise, I think.
But then the fatigue set in. And the flab. Well, to be honest the flab has been around for a while. I started intermittent fasting in February but after 12 weeks there was no movement on the scale. So was I tired because of the fasting? Was I iron deficient? Was it my thyroid?
Doctors really do make the worst patients. How many patients have I seen with the same complaints? Their blood work is always normal and my advice to them is to start exercising.
So finally at the beginning of June that’s exactly what I did.
It’s been 11 days and I have gone for 5 runs.
They aren’t fast runs. They aren’t even steady runs. I had to go back start with 2:1 run/ walk intervals. My pace is slow. But the change in my energy level is remarkable. I might even have noticed a subtle change in my waistline.
I started running back in 2012. It was really out of necessity. I was two kids in and could not run after them at the park when they took off on me. It was pathetic. It was also the cheapest thing I could do to get in shape and didn’t take a lot of time out of my already busy day.
Fast forward 8 years. I’ve run three half marathons, a handful of 10ks and many 5ks. And then the pandemic hit and I stopped running. (Okay, so I shouldn’t really blame the pandemic – several other things happened like a major depressive episode, my dad moving into a retirement home and a busy life with three kids). But suffice it to say, I got lazy. And soft.
One afternoon while sitting on my front lawn with my neighbors for a “physically distanced drink” my girlfriend texted me about having to walk her London marathon virtually and asked me to join her for a portion of it. I was a glass or three in when I wrote “I’ll do it all with you!”
So I started going for more walks to train. I started walking 10 km once a week to work and it felt good. About once a week I force myself out for a run, which is really mostly walking with some running. Every October where I live there is a big race and this year it went virtual, of course. The race organizers offered a deal where you can sign up for all four distances (5 km, 10 km, 21.1 km and 42.2 km) with the stipulation that you have to complete them during the month of October. Participants can run or walk the distances.
So, I signed up for all four races. I mean, it’s just walking, right? Can’t be that hard, and I figured I would run a little too. It was the motivation I needed to get my ass off the couch and exercise
The 5 km and 10 km races were easy. Not my best times to be sure, but that was to be expected given how lazy I’ve been all year.
I set out for the half marathon two weekends ago. By 12 km I started flirting with the idea of just doing the marathon. It had been weighing on my mind a lot. I was rightly scared of the distance and as I imagined finishing the half marathon I realized that I might not want to start over again another day to do the full. So after some back and forth texting with my husband who was at home with our 3 kids, I decided to seriously consider doing the marathon.
And I did!!!
The second half was grueling. My brother and his wife met me around 30 km and walked 4 km with me. The distraction was exactly what I needed because by then my hips started to hurt, the blisters on my heels were burning and I was feeling defeated. At 40 km I started texting my husband to meet me. I tried running a little because that didn’t hurt nearly as much as walking did.
And then I looked at my watch and saw it.
I became a marathoner.
And I’m pretty sure I will do it again. But maybe in a year.
About a month ago we saw a good friend and his son for a socially distanced meet-up at the local park. Our friend brought some tennis rackets and we hit the ball against a handball wall.
I loved it.
Hubby has always liked playing tennis. I liked watching it. Never thought much about actually playing it. But after this one particular morning, I found it exhilarating. I insisted we go out to get some rackets. (Really any excuse not to run in this heat.)
Now, trying to find free courts to play on in the city is a little tough. Mind you, we were pretty lazy about making any effort to actually find one, that is, until my child’s camp counselor noticed our rackets and gave us an amazing tip.
The local high school has tennis courts. Open courts. Free courts. No one uses them kind of courts.
It was a difficult year, to say the least. A few days into January, my father had his first fall and we realized that my mom probably wouldn’t be able to care for him at home for much longer. Over the span of a few months, there were more falls, more calls to 911 for assistance to get him up off the floor, and my brother and I convinced our mother that a retirement home was the next step.
I thought I was handling things well but by June the writing was on the wall for him. Darkness, the black hole of depression, started to consume me and I was failing everyone.
The year ended better than it started. I worked my ass off at two jobs and kept very busy mostly to avoid thinking about it all. I know that doesn’t sound like a good thing, but really, it was. The only downside was that I basically stopped running.
But 2018 is done now, and so is the extra work and on new years’ day, I went for a goddamn run. It was glorious. The sun was shining and despite the chill in the air from the cold wind, I think I was smiling inside the whole time.
Hello, 2019. It’s nice to see you.
This weekend I ran my 3rd half marathon race. Grossly undertrained, I might add. My longest run had been 17k a few weeks prior and I would be lucky if I got one training run in during the week. I considered switching my bib to the 10k but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Finished another half just sounds better, right?!
I had no time goal other than to finish but if I’m honest with myself I knew I wanted to finish under 3 hours and certainly under 2:50. By some miracle or more likely sheer force of stubborn will, I crossed the finish line in 2:46:58. A minute slower than my previous effort last October and almost 10 minutes slower than my debut race in 2015.
About 10km into the race the outer aspect of my left knee started talking to me.
ITB. I haven’t experience ITB pain in several years. Uh oh. Not a good sign. A sign of undertraining in my opinion and poor post run stretch and foam roller etiquette.
But really, should I have expected anything different?
Oh and I probably needed new running shoes 6 months ago.
Now, on a training run I would pause my Garmin and stretch out my hip flexors but there was no way I was stopping on course. I knew that if I stopped moving to stretch I may not get started again. So, I just took extra walk breaks after 15 km or so. Before that I was sticking pretty well to my 1 km run and 100 meter walk intervals. After 15 km it was more like run 400 m, walk 200 m and repeat.
Looking around me, though, I saw other runners struggling too. I asked if they were okay. One runner had his hamstring seize up. For another it was her ankle. Others were just walking. Eventually I found the power walker I had been chasing unconsciously for most of the race and passed her. Yes! Not gonna lie. That was pretty awesome. All told when I crossed the finish line and before they gave me my medal, I burst into emotional, cathartic tears.
Last weekend, I ran a little race in my hometown along with 25,000 other people. I ran this one before, back in 2015. It was a half-marathon.
My training cycle took a huge nosedive in August when I ran too much while on vacation at the cottage. When I returned to running in the city, my legs were very mad at me. The nagging shin splints returned and I had to take a big break. I ran only once a week for the last month before the race. I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to finish, let alone finish it standing up.
The longest training run was 16 km and I did that 3 weeks before the big day. My friend who is a triathlete told me that it was better to be 10% under-trained than 1% overt-rained. She ended up being right.
Race day arrived and I was a nervous wreck. I arrive on course early to support a new friend of mine as he completed his 5th (of 6) marathons of the weekend (that story is for another post). See, I joined this running team last spring, supporting someone who raises money and awareness for childhood survivors of sexual abuse and trauma. Through this team I have met a group of remarkable people all who like to run. Most of them run a hell of a lot faster than me, but they are an inspiring group of people and I am lucky to have found them.
I ran with one of these new friends for my half marathon. He was running the marathon and didn’t want to go out too fast, so I asked him if he wanted to run my pace with me and he did. We had a fantastic time. It was so nice to run with someone and be distracted from the fact I was trying to run 21.1 km.
In the end, I ran a good race and I felt great. Sure, my hips started getting tight at 9 km and the balls of my feet starting aching around 17 km. All of that was expected. Nothing actually hurt too badly, so I knew I could finish it.
I ran it for me – to challenge my mind, body and spirit. I didn’t beat my previous time but I knew I wouldn’t.
I was almost in tears when I finished. I just wanted to cross the finish line standing up and I did.
I ran for my dad. He has prostate cancer, and the previous week we got word that his radiation treatment worked and he was cancer free. I raised $500 for Prostate Cancer Canada prior to the race.
I ran for my classmate, colleague and friend who was murdered last year by her husband. I wear the purple armband that I wore at her funeral. I will wear it for every race until her murderer is convicted. My friend was a runner. She always supported my running on social media. I ran for her because she can’t run anymore.
I am a day late in reporting in, but Monday got away from me.
I found a funny mole on my husband’s back over the weekend so that meant I had to get him in to see the Dermatologist on Monday morning to have it removed. Thankfully, the dermatologist didn’t think it was bad but took it off anyway.
But back to Sunday. I finally got out for my long run in the mid-afternoon. I headed east for the first time in forever and ran out 3.5 km and back. 7 km done! The wind was in my face on the way out and to my back on the way home and somehow I ended up with a few negative split kilometers by the end.
Overall pace was a bit faster than the last two weeks and I felt it in my legs a bit. I have to remember to try to keep these longer runs slower!
After a wonderful evening with my best friend and her partner, after eating prime rib and Yorkshire pudding and 3.5 bottles of wine among us, I woke up Sunday morning with a slight hangover and a tummy that was not happy about all the food. I hate to get graphic but I had a very upset tummy that morning, well actually, more like in the middle of the night, reminiscent of the stomach flu but thankfully no vomiting.
Remember, hubby and I have been on a healthy eating kick. We have small dinners of protein and veggies, no dessert and no booze. My system clearly didn’t appreciate the high fat and alcohol all at the same time. So Sunday morning came and I was like, “Long run? Not a chance.”
Instead we took the kids out and ended up at an aquarium store. A couple of hours later, we came home with a companion for our mama crayfish, a new aquarium for the two and a fire eel!!!!
Mama crayfish is the red/orange one. Royal blue crayfish is her new companion. The rainbow pebbles were chosen by our daughter.
We found the eel hiding under this rock a few hours after putting him in the tank. He is a bottom dweller and likes to hide. I think his little snout sticking out is super cute.
So it was around 5:30pm when we were done setting up the homes of our new family members and I decided it was now or never to run. So I suited up and forced myself to go out. I’m so glad I did. Though it was super slow, it felt great to be back out there pounding the pavement. I didn’t increase the distance too much, I had planned 6.7 km (10% increase from last week), but finished at 6.5 km due to general fatigue. Still, it’s in the books and I feel good about it overall.
Two months ago, I started tracking what I ate with My Fitness Pal. My husband and I had both gained weight, or more accurately, were not losing weight, and he wanted to start eating better and exercising more to see if it would help his chronic kidney disease. So together we decided to put an end to our big dinners and wine during the week. We started eating more protein and veggies at dinner and minimized the carbs – ie. no pasta, no bread – and less deep fried foods. We also stopped having dessert every night – no more Halloween chocolate, no cookies after dinner, etc. Wine is only on Friday and Saturday night now.
After a few weeks husband started noticing a difference and with me tracking my calories and trying to adjust my macros, I started seeing subtle differences in the way my clothes fit. He is running more during the week when the kids are at school and I am back on track with my running as well.
Now, I won’t lie, the nasty stomach flu I had over New Years’ certainly did help with the weight loss but surprisingly, the weight is staying off and well, I am pretty excited about that.
Since starting the healthy eating plan and tracking my diet, I have now lost 10 lbs. I can’t remember the last time I was this weight – well, yes actually, it was before I got pregnant with my 3rd child. My clothes fit better and I feel better. We both do.
He says I don’t need to track my food intake anymore, but I can’t deny that it has become a habit for me now and the scientist in me is enjoying the process. I can’t wait to see how the next few months shape up!