It’s the end of a decade, but the start of an age: Reflections on 2019

The first half of 2019 was great, running-wise. Until I took it too far.

Ran more than I ever have. I had massages. Did physio. Strength trained. Went to bed early. Worked hard. Ran a few PBs.

But the week before my goal race, my body said ENOUGH.

I made it through the marathon, but since the result, effort and experience wasn’t what I wanted, I had a hard time seeing the positives of the six months I spent working toward that race.

The second half of 2019 was a write-off.

I stopped playing basketball. I didn’t sign up for any races. I gained weight and struggled with my mental health.

Then, the photos of me at Christmas broke my heart.

This isn’t about weight loss or body presentation. But those photos showed how far I’ve fallen since running the Manitoba marathon in June.

I have a big hole to climb out of. My hamstring is still tight as hell. My fitness is shot. I struggle with finding the “why” with too many things.

But I need to start somewhere. So I’m starting here.

I figured out my word of the year for 2019

After writing yesterday’s post, I spent a lot of time thinking about what word I wanted to embody 2019 for me.

I have settled on COMMIT.

I want to commit wholly, fully to what I choose to do: whether that’s marathon training, a clean diet, a hard tempo run, getting up early. It doesn’t matter. And if I can’t commit 100%, with my entire heart and mind, I say fuck it and don’t worry about it/don’t do it/don’t make it part of your plan.

There’s not much I want. And there’s not much I want to do. I want to be a better, healthier athlete. I want to be the best at my job. I want to have enough of a social life that I feel engaged in the world and fulfilled, but not overextended or OVERcommitted. And I want to enjoy my home and my little family as much as I can. Anything else? Doesn’t matter.

This is the case until my 2019 goal marathon race, anyway. It’s in June. I might shift gears after that. And that’s OK.

I have no idea what my word for 2019 should be

For the past couple years, I’ve had a word of the year to guide me. I usually stick to it pretty closely until April, abandon it totally for a few months, then come back to it in August/September – birthday/back-to-school time.

I’m really struggling to pick a work for 2019.

I’ve been super into Eliud Kipochege’s ideas of discipline, simplicity and freedom lately. That in order to be truly free you should live a disciplined, simple life. Then the joy, the success will come. For two weeks in December, I basically did this – had a rigid schedule of run, work, gym, home Monday-Thursday and said no to any social engagement that happened Sunday-Thursday – and it was great. It lightened my heart and my mind. But it did feel a little isolating and it’s not super realistic.

But those words: Discipline. Simplicity. Freedom. They feel to negative and too narrow.

This is what I want for 2019:

I want to work really hard on my health and fitness. Commit wholeheartedly to making good, healthy food and making good, healthy choices. To throw myself wholly into marathon training and finally walk away with a marathon PB I can be proud of. Work on my mental health – I sleep like shit and my anxiety spirals out of control sometimes.

I want to be present, engaged and positive at work. To bring my best self to the table every day and to commit to a positive attitude.

While I want to do do less socially – say no to events and invites I am only mildly interested in, say no to things that get in the way of my health and well-being even if it’s something like keeping me out until 10 or 11 when I don’t want to 100% be there – I want to be a better friend and show up for the people I do care about. Do more for them.

So maybe the word of the year is Commit? Full? All-in? Something along those lines: whatever I do, to do fully and with my best self, and say fuck it to the rest. Whole?

I’m probably overthinking this. But this is what I do.

I have this week of work and another Christmas this weekend. So I’m letting my own new year actually start on January 7. I hope to actually have a word by then.

And if I don’t, that’s probably OK. How can you sum up an entire year, an entire life, in a single word?

There’s glitter on the floor after the party: Reflections on 2018

At first glance, I felt 2018 wasn’t anything special. Maybe even a disappointment. But when I dug deeper, it was clear I was being too hard on the year, and myself. Surprise surprise.

After all, in 2018:

I went to Disney World with both my sisters and did the Star Wars challenge and got the coolest medal I may ever get for a race ever.

I did Ragnar with several of my running friends, and totally crushed the super hard final leg even though I was really uncertain about how that would go even though I was still in injury rehab mode.

I went to Chicago with a bunch of running friends, stayed in a mind-blowing condo and had a great weekend even though the race itself wasn’t anything special.

My brother-in-law got married, and we did a trip through Alberta where I spent most of the time gawking at nature and saying ‘WTF that can’t be real.’

I hung out with good people in big and small ways: had a nice little track routine on Tuesdays, have people to say hello to at my gym, ran with my crew almost every Saturday.

I found the Sweat app and spent the last two months of the year really getting intro strength training.

So, really, not too bad.

2018 goals: 1/3.. ain’t bad I guess

In the beginning of 2018, I had 3 goals:

  1. Get better from my injury
  2. Do an Olympic triathlon
  3. 3. Go for a big PR at Chicago.

2 and 3 were big fat NOPES.

I was so focused on rehabbing my injury and becoming a strong runner again that I didn’t make space in my schedule to properly be ready for an Olympic tri. Olympic tris take WORK. They aren’t a thing you can do haphazardly. So I dropped down to the sprint and ran my slowest sprint tri yet in the pouring rain. But I had fun.

I was on track for a PR at Chicago towards the end of my training cycle. But  I threw out my back three weeks before the race and the race became about surviving and staying positive. It wasn’t my slowest marathon ever and I had a good day, but that original goal of being faaaaaast (or, well, faster) wasn’t going to happen.

But that first goal? It’s December 2018 – 15 months after I injured my hip – and I finally feel strong, injury-free and ready to move forward. I wanted too much, too soon in 2018. It’s OK to dream big. But looking back on the year, I’m disappointed with myself. Not only with my performance, but with my attitude. I was too hard on myself. Assumed failure was inevitable too often. Talked myself out of too many work outs. That needs to change.

I’m not sure yet what my 2019 goals are going to be. A marathon PR, sure. But what else? I think I need to focus less on numbers and more on attitude. But what does that look like?

Why 145?

Why 145? It feels like an arbitrary number, and in many ways kinda is.

My last three half marathons were 1:50:XX.

The first two were part of my most successful marathon training cycle yet.

The last one was a half I didn’t really train for.

So to set a goal of break 1:50 seemed silly. I’m 12 seconds away from that goal. 1:45 is far enough away it’s scary, but is also doable. It’s 4:58 pace over 21.1k, and running sub 5:00 kms for that long scares me. But it feels doable, if I do the work.

I currently weigh 165 pounds. Which means I need to lose 20 pounds. This is a lot , I know, and I’m the first to admit that 145 might be extreme. But I want to get fitter (and faster) and looking at my eating habits seems to be the easiest way to get healthier and be more conscious about my health. Plus my sister, at her fittest, was around 145. Sibling rivalry gets us every time.

Really, this isn’t about the numbers. It’s about pushing myself, about thinking about my health, about seeing what I can do.

But numbers make great goals. And I’m ready to chase them down.


Now we got bad blood: Chicago Marathon Training, Week 2, Day 5

I finally had a bad run.

It’s been coming.

I had a tempo run on my schedule. Warmup, 2k @ tempo pace, 5:00 recovery, 2k @ 10k pace.

I handled the paces, but the effort was A LOT. I struggled. I needed to take a break. I walked the 5:00 recovery.

Bad runs happen. And the reason this one was bad was really obvious. I had run hard the night before with my run crew. I had run hard on the track two days before. Both those runs went well.

You’re supposed to take it easy between hard efforts. I didn’t. And I paid for it.

At the end of the day, this isn’t a big deal. Bad runs happen. The reasons why are easy to understand. The lessons learned should be easy to implement.

I just actually need to take the lessons forward. Learn, grow, get better. Repeat.

Groove is in the heart: Chicago Marathon Training, Week 2, Day 2

After a rocky return from Alberta, I’m in a groove.

Gym on Mondays.

Track on Tuesdays.

Run on Wednesdays.

Bootcamp on Thursdays.

Rest on Fridays.

Long run on Saturdays.

Cross-training on Sundays.

There’s a few other gym sessions in there and a few more runs, but those are my anchors.

Sometimes my runs are easy, sometimes they are hard. but for the most part, I’m hitting my paces. I’m not missing any workouts. It’s coming together. It always feels like I could be doing more, going harder, running faster, but it’s a long process. And I need to trust the process.

Relax, don’t do it: Chicago Marathon Training, Week 1, Day 5

Fridays are rest days.

When my rest days are crammed — morning announcements, evening events — it’s easy to not do anything. But on those kinds of days, I’m usually on my feet and completely stressed, so it’s not really rest.

This Friday, it was really rest. And it was so hard.

Work was relatively quiet, being a Friday in July. I slept in a bit. Left work at a normal hour. Had no plans in the evening. And I really, really struggled to not go to the gym. To do something. “I’m behind on my weekly strength,” I told myself. “You can just foam roll and do PT there,” I said.

But I know if I’d gone, I would have done more. So home I stayed. I became angsty, frustrated. Rest is really hard. To sit still, with your thoughts, with your body. To trust the process. To relax.

It’s just another thing to work on.