Wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser and I’m older

I’m trying to become a breakfast person.

It’s hard. I just ate some fruit + oatmeal and I feel gross. Nauseous. Really full. Years of skipping breakfast until like 10am or 11am is doing a number on this early AM feast. (I didn’t even eat that much, like a cup of oatmeal and a handful of fruit. But I ate it at 7:30am.)

But they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They say eating breakfast will curb my hunger later. They sat eating breakfast will give me more energy. Will make me healthier.

So I’m trying. It’s hard to find the time. For years, my morning priorities have been sleep > fitness > food. I’m trying to shift that to: sleep + fitness + food.

Change is hard.

But so is becoming a better runner, and a better person. And if eating breakfast will help that, then so be it.

Now when did you last let your heart decide?

A year ago this week, I did the Dopey challenge in Disney World with my sister and my friend Julie.

4 races over 4 days. 48.6 miles in total.

It was to be my second Disney race experience, having done the Princess half in 2016, to celebrate Jill’s 30th birthday.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I walked away with one of the most important lessons I could have received.

Running should be fun.

Imagine that?

Yes, you should work hard and go after big dreams. Disney is all about dreams, after all. But you need to find enjoyment in the experience, in the moment. Why else do something so difficult and time consuming? You need to love it.

I hope to carry this lesson through with me into the next phase of my running career: the phase where I go all in on Boston.

Every year’s a souvenir that slowly fades away

For the past couple years, I’ve had a “word of the year.” a guiding phrase to remind myself of my intentions, what I need to work on.

2016 was FOCUS. 2017 was LOVE. I can’t remember what 2015 was.

I really struggled to come up with a word that worked for 2018.

I wanted it to be positive. I wants it to guide my marathon training, but also be relevant to the rest of my life.

I recently read How Bad Do You Want It and Boston Bound. A common theme in both these books was that the best athletes are not outcome focused. They are process-focused. Present. Engaged in the activity they are doing at the moment.

And so, reluctantly, I think my guiding work for 2018 will be PRESENT. I recently started meditating (which I have mixed feelings about). I also struggle with runaway thoughts, stress, worry. Being present will remind me to chill out in everyday situations. It will also remind me to think about, and appreciate, the workout/moment/situation I am in.

I also like the second level of meaning: how I present myself to the world. Am I positive? Engaged? Grateful? Am I treating myself with respect? Others with respect?

I’m not sold, but I think it works. Sometimes these things are epiphanies. Sometimes you just pick something and make it work. And that’s life.

You’ve heard about me, I’ve got some big enemies

There are two things I need to work on during this period of injury.

Sleep.

And food.

I’m a shitty sleeper. It takes hours for me to fall asleep. I wake up at any noise whatsoever. I set my alarm ambitiously early, feel like garbage when it goes off and usually – especially in the dead of winter – turn it off, roll over, and go back to sleep. I need to figure out what it takes for me to fall asleep sooner, sleep deeper, and get up when that alarm goes off in the AM so I can crush my goals. It was easier when I had an AM fitness class with a teacher who knew me and called me out when I skipped. Right now, my schedule is pretty light so I’m jut pushing my workouts to the evening. At least they are getting done. But soon my evenings will be full and this won’t be possible.

I’m not a terrible eater, but I don’t prioritize it or plan it well. So I eat healthy, but not enough, then end up starving at 8pm with literally nothing in my fridge. I’ve gotten into the swing of lunch prep, but one busy weekend and that’s out the window. I need to work on 1) planning everything I eat for an entire week and 2) prioritizing meal prep even when I’m busy/tired/don’t want to do it.

These aren’t hard, fast GOALS, you know? Rather things I’ve noticed and will make an effort to improve, but won’t beat myself up over them if I have a setback or slip-up. There are so many big goals, and big changes, you can take on at once.

I’ll be picking up bottles with you on New Year’s Day

I’m still injured.

It still sucks.

I think I’ve moved into a better place, mindset-wise though. After seeing a physio I didn’t like and a chiro whose approach wasn’t working, I finally found a physio that seems to get what I want to accomplish: get better, get faster, keep running.

I hired a coach. This has been super helpful, because it gives me a schedule, a routine and a plan. Before, I was floundering and not knowing what was right, what was wrong, what was working, what wasn’t. She’s building me a rehab plan, and it feels so good to see those little “scheduled workouts” in my calendar. I thrive on homework, on following orders. It’s still early, but this seems like one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while.

The title is a Taylor Swift lyric. It’s about the work that goes behind the scenes: the crappy stuff you need to do in order to a build a life, make a night special. But it’s okay if you believe in it and have good people by your side. And that’s what this is. It’s work, but I need to enjoy every minute of it.

Here’s to 2018, getting better and chasing down big dreams.

I don’t want to fall asleep

Actually, I do. I really, really do.

Played bball Monday night. Definitely set the hip back. Felt totally exhausted and unmotivated to do anything on Tuesday, so I didn’t. Now that fall is over, I need to find routine. Purpose. Motivation. But it’s so cold and dark and I’m so tired.

I need to work on discipline.

But also forgiveness. I’m still not 100%. A day off is a good thing. But I mentally beat myself up for this. I’m lazy. I’m weak. I’m not good enough.

I need to spin this internal dialogue around.

I’m taking care of myself. I’m rebuilding for next training cycle. I’m honouring my body and where it’s at. I’m preventing this injury from getting worse.

Why is being positive so hard?

Same old story, not much to say

Got up early this morning. Went to yoga. Glute felt tender. Shin felt weird. The new normal.

Thought about the week ahead. It’s hard, lately, to make a fitness plan for the full week. I have no idea what will feel normal, what will hurt, what my energy levels will be like. I’m trying to roll with it, but it’s hard.

Made all the food. Got new casual shoes to walk in. Did all the laundry. Read the paper. Listened to American Top 40. It was a quiet day, but a good one.

Get up early. Get shit done. The pieces will fall into place eventually.

You got it bad, you got a bad attitude

I’m still not better.

It still sucks.

It seems like my hip is improving, but then my shin decided to light up.

I have no idea why. I’m hardly running. I’m mostly doing what I’m told to do by medical professionals. It’s frustrating and demoralizing. I know there’s a lesson here about working with what is sent your way and accepting what you can’t control, but fuck that right now. I want to be better. I want to run again. I want to work towards a goal that isn’t “Not injured anymore.”

Clearly, this attitude isn’t helping.

So let’s talk about the positive things I’ve done.

I hired a running coach. I’m really excited. I think having an actual human assessing my progress and giving me feedback and working with me on goal setting is going to be great for my next step, running wise. I had a coach for my first marathon and it was hugely helpful. I’ve been winging it for a few years now, and while I’ve made great progress with a combination of joining a running crew and using the NYRR training program, it’s time to step it up even more. Plus I think a human will be better at helping me navigate injury recovery and comeback better than a digital plan. She’s young and a new coach, but I did some research and she hit all the things that mattered to me: she was responsive, she was very invested in the WHY and explaining the WHY of stuff and she didn’t have a lot of clients. She’s not based in Toronto, which I am disappointed in, but that’s not a deal breaker. It has made me realize there aren’t a ton of one-on-one options for people in Toronto. So that has gotten me thinking about maybe getting my own running coach certification, but that’s a thought for another day…

I signed up for the Chicago marathon lottery. We find out if we get in on Dec. 12. The ultimate, A+ goal of 2018 (after getting over this injury, of course) is to run the fastest marathon I can. I’m on the cusp of needing a 3:40 to qualify for Boston. I really, truly believe I can do it. It’ll take a lot of hard work and it might take a few marathons and a few years, but I believe that I am physically capable of it. So if I get into Chicago, Chicago is the goal marathon. If I don’t, it will either be Toronto or Philadelphia, depending on my fall work schedule.

I’m seeing a physio/chiro guy once a week and an RMT regularly. The hip is definitely improving. It’s not 100% yet, but it’s getting there. It’s just a question of when, and of not being stupid. Not being stupid is harder than it seems. But I’m trying.

So 2017: get over with already.

2018: the year I get better, blog more and go for a BQ.

I’m ready.

Let’s just hope my body is.

Me, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time

All right. It’s time to just say it.

2017 has sucked.

It sucked for the world. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Fires. Politics.

But it has also sucked for me personally, even though there isn’t any particular thing I can hang that on. No one died. I didn’t have any dehabilitating personal or professional setbacks. But I felt lost, stressed, restless. I didn’t find balance or harmony in anything. I constantly felt like I was outrunning something or trying to catch up to something. And that sucks.

I’ve been injured since Labour Day so I haven’t been running much either. Which sucks. But it’s proven a bunch of things to me.

First, I need a hobby that isn’t fitness or reading. Something outside myself and my need to set goals and develop. Something I do just for goddamn fun.

Second, running is essential to my wellbeing. Last fall, I was my as close to my best self as I think I’ve been in years. Why? I was running a lot. Work was going well. I had a solid schedule that was challenging and fulfilling. And I’ve been struggling to get back to that this year. All year.

And now I can’t run.

There’s not much I can do about it. Rest. Rehab. Find meaningful things to do other than running.

And plan for the future.

The rest of the year is going to be about building a base. A base of mental health I can draw resilience and mindfulness from. A base of physical health I can lean back on to start marathon training in January. Because right now I am floundering. I have nothing to stand on. Nothing to lean on for support. I am going to fall and I am going to drown and I don’t want that to happen. I want to stand tall, be strong, crush my goals.

2017 has sucked. But it’s not over. We can turn this around.

10 years in Toronto

I moved to Toronto in September 2007.

I did so reluctantly. As someone from the East Coast, I was taught to hate Toronto. Toronto was stuck up. Toronto believed it was the centre of the universe. Toronto was rich and privileged. Toronto was big and busy. Toronto was concrete and glass and highways and assholes.

I came to Toronto because I decided to pursue a career in book publishing. And Toronto may not be the centre of everything, but it’s the centre of book publishing in Canada. I enrolled in a year-long book publishing program here with a plan. Get my diploma and a few years of experience under my belt, then, somehow, someway, make my way somewhere else.

Life never goes according to plan.

I got the diploma. I got a job. I quit that job. Then I floundered. Then I freelanced. Then I got THE job. The job I went to school for. The job I dreamed about once I decided book publishing was a thing I wanted to do.

It’s hard to leave a place when you love your job.

But the job wasn’t everything. With that job came a community. A community of people love who loved books and culture. A community of people I’d see two, three, four times a week as I went from event to event, networking. Building my career but also building a home. Some of my closest friends are from that early career grasp-at-anything-because-god-I-need-a-job-and-to-be-good-at-that-job-and-also-friends-are-nice-too moments.

With the job came a need for hobbies.

I decided to say fuck it to my fear of biking in the city and just do it. The first time I ever got on a bike in Toronto I repeated “I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die” over and over in my head until I got to my destination. Spoiler: I did not die.

Biking opened up the city for me – it seemed smaller and more manageable. I could get places on my own time, on my own terms. I could buy more groceries. I did not have to crowd on to a TTC subway car during rush hour. Deciding to become a cyclist is one of the greatest choices I ever made when it came to embracing living in Toronto.

The other was becoming a runner.

I decided to start running because I wanted to take control of my health. I wanted a physical activity that fit into my busy, scheduled life and had some sort of competitive element.I was always fit, so a half-marathon seemed like an achievable thing to do. I hated it. But I kept going. From there, I ran another half, and another, and another and – finally – a full marathon. But what that did for me was open up the city. I’ve run to Mimico. To Port Credit. To the Junction. To Scarborough Bluffs. Through Open Streets. Through a Labour Day Parade. To Kringlewood. To Drake’s House. Around Toronto Island. To Evergreen Brickworks. Through the Belt Line. Running showed me that Toronto isn’t that big. You can literally run a marathon through the city without ever hitting a city street. Toronto is a patchwork of communities, each with a unique identity. I’ve heard that, but I didn’t believe it until I ran through so many of them.

Community. I have my book people. My running people. But what really did it? The little street I live on.

We bought a house in 2010. I recognize now how fucking fortunate we are we were able to purchase property at a reasonable price in the downtown core. But at the time, I was 25, had a partner who was keen to buy and had 5% down. I didn’t really think about it. I figured if it all went to hell, we could just sell. I realize now, my 25-year-old self was a stupid as she was lucky. But we moved into a neighborhood where people knocked on our door to say hello when we moved in. A neighbourhood where we learned our neighbours’ cats names. A neighbourhood where people tell me they heard me on the radio or they liked my partner’s most recent column when I see them. A neighbourhood where we gossip about the neighbours who moved or the neighbour who fell ill. A neighborhood where we all know the homeless man who collects our cans and I can’t go outside without running into someone who knows me and knows my business.

Which is as about small-town East Coast as you can get.

Sure, the scale is different. My hometown has 3,000 people in it. Toronto has three million. But, at the end of the day, Toronto became home because I live in a neighbourhood I care about, hang out with people I care about, do things I care about and have a job I care about. And that is bigger than any place you can call home.