And I’m back…

I have a band of brothers who are insisting they run with me during the Donald Half Marathon. Joke’s on them, They will be walking fairly quickly while I sprint my heart out to keep up.

In an effort not to let them down too much, I am doing speed work during the week to get faster. I’m not all that convinced it will work. This year has been such a training clusterfuck. I had surgery and injuries and set backs. All of which have been important learning lessons.

I can get the long distance in, the speed works helps somewhat so now its time to add the other piece of the puzzle.

FOOD INTAKE.

I have been pretty good thus far. I have been careful about what I eat, drink my water and keep sweets to a minimum. I have MAINTAINED….after I gained 10lbs. First I gained 10 then I held it there.

I re-installed Myfitness Pal again today and am in the middle of syncing Mapmyrun and Garmin connect with everything.

Why?

It makes me accountable. I want to lose another 50lbs this year.  (not by 2015 – I mean November 2015). I have the tools, I have the knowledge and I have the ability. I just HAVE TO RIGHT IT DOWN!

That part is the part that I am not consistent with. I started today.

I wrote everything I ate – including the Aero Bar and the Tostito Chips. I was 175 calories OVER my daily goal of 1790. That total will apparently get me to my goal of 2lbs per week for 1 month. Then I will adjust it to 1 lbs per week. It also helps me not go bonkers over Christmas. I didn’t last year and felt awesome. I will do it again this year.

It is interesting how I feel about food journaling. A year ago I would have not wrote the food in, giving myself a clean slate for tomorrow. Yet I wrote the good parts and the bad parts in. I am trying not to think about food in terms of BAD or GOOD. But rather in terms of fuel for running. I need to make sure I have the right amount of protein grams and carbs in so I will feel fab over my long runs.

On FB I have THIS as my profile pic 1375002_10152876402766337_9194937867845132687_nOn the side of the hat it says TRAINING. I have no plans to run the Calgary Half or Full next year because I am planning on really focussing my training on the Dumbo Double Dare. That means I am running ‘just 2’ half marathons. My training pal Liz laughed and said “Just two?”

Just 2. When did I become THAT girl? That girl who can now fit into a running jacket. That girl who explains fartleks to run club members, that girl who can talk about nutrition with beginner, marathoner and ultra runners. That girl who can hear about a foot issue and talk to people about solutions and shoes. That girl who understands clothing tech.

Yet I am still that girl who is scared to run with her band of brothers because she is slow.

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And because one of them looks like this:

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That is pretty much all the motivation I need.

 

Then there was that time I was in the Fall Classic…

A year ago today I ran in the Edmonton Fall Classic 5 miler. I had been running for only 10 months. I ran 5 minutes and walked 1 minute intervals. I finished in 1:28:08. Slow… but who cares? I was 20lbs heavier.

Today I walked the Edmonton Fall Classic 5 miler. I ran 3 times for a total of 6 minutes. I need to keep my heart rate at a certain level until I get the clearance to run again from my Doc. I Had surgery in June, did the Moose is Loose Half Marathon in July, split open incisions and went into shock. It wasn’t pretty. I was put on the injured reserve list by my Doc. No Running, no racing until the end of October. “But I have a half marathon the end of October” Well, I guess you aren’t training for it…said my Doctor.

But I walked, not hard and fast, I went out a few times to push the envelope to see how I was fairing. I felt healthier and stronger than I have in decades. But NO RUNNING.

Thursday I decided to enter the Fall Classic as a test race to see how I react under race conditions. Granted, there was only 160 racers entered. Sure it was a quiet and empty Ada Boulevard on a cool Edmonton Sunday Morning. But I wanted to know what to expect for next Sunday, The Inaugural Vancouver Rock and Roll Half Marathon. My very first RnR, so I decided to do it in Vancouver on their very first one too. Its a big deal for me and I don’t want to be swept. I walk very fast – yet I walk faster than I can run…. not really. Not any more. I have 4 hours in which to complete or they pick me up on the bus of shame.

Anyways…back to the Fall Classic.

I signed up Thursday.

I arrived early this morning because I was going to start with the 10 milers – I am slow, and I wanted breakfast with my team. I started out. In the far away distance, I could see a gal on her second lap. I had met her in Florida last year hanging out in the corrals. She is from Edmonton and she is also slow. I put her in my sights. And I walked.

I find walking harder in many ways from running. If you are consistent, there is no slow speed. When you do the run/walk method you get to slow down and rest. I hate this about walking so I would walk super fast 10:50/km then slow it down to 11:10/km. Now there are walkers in the 109 Street Club who were walking 7/km but we won’t focus on them. They can write their own blog. This fast/slow method kept me focused and I had a target in my sights. By the 5km, I passed her. I PASSED HER! I had never passed anyone before AND I left her in my dust!

That was an awesome feeling!

I knew about 155 people on the course so there was a lot of cheering and high fives. I still didn’t think I was doing very well, but my heart rate was where it should be and I was feeling surprisingly awesome (never before had I felt great in a race – until this one. I thought I felt great at Calgary – but no…I was wrong). The finish line came up fast. Last year I was tired. This year I was not. I finished today in 1:28:52. A few seconds slower than last year and I WALKED IT!

I am walking next week’s RnR. I want to run it. But 2015 will be all about running. My goal is to finish before the truck of shame. If I complete it, it will be my 3rd half marathon this year. Not too shabby for a a fat girl who was injured and couldn’t train the way she wanted too. By finishing next week, that would be a nice feather in my cap.

At any rate, it should be fun.

Happy Running!

Good News! I didn’t Die Today

It’s been a very difficult year for. I once sat in front of a gal who was gazing into my crystal ball and she told me that my life was going to be difficult for a few years to come. That was 3 years ago.

She was right.

It’s not that my life has been terrible, on the contrary. Growth and learning have happened at an exponential rate for me. All the great life lessons come to me at a price. They are never pleasant and they are never pain free. I learn best from hitting bottom than I do from skipping along smelling daisies. I am pretty sure I have reached Super Genius Level with all the life lessons of late.

My ‘not running’ lesson has been hard as well.

Since my Calgary half Marathon – my plans and goals were shelved.

Calgary was the most kick-ass awesome race experience to date.

  1. I felt strong
  2. I recovered quickly
  3. I was ready

I had set some pretty amazing goals for right after the race. I had planned on not losing my distance. I was going to maintain the ability to run16k for my longs. That to me works perfectly for half marathons – well, for me. I had the Moose is Loose lined up to walk it with my dad, then I was going to Disneyland to Run the Dumbo Double Dare (10km on Saturday and 21.1km on Sunday). The Vancouver Rock and Roll Half Marathon would be next the last weekend in October and then FULL ON TRAINING for the Donald in January. As you may recall, I achieved a DNF in WDW for a knee injury.

So where did I leave off?

Well, I had surgery after Calgary and my world fell apart. For the record, Patience is not a Virtue that I am very good at. I should have not walked the Moose with me Dad, but it was with my Dad and it was his first half and I am very happy I did it even though I experienced a major health scare. When I say major, I mean major. My Doc was not happy and wrote me a note forbidding me to run in Disneyland. So I deferred it until next year.

I watched all my pals and my daughter cross the finish line.

It sucked.

I was happy for them but I was sad for me.

Now looking at my calendar, the time table tells me that Vancouver is 6 weeks away.

I have been walking, I can do the distance, but time is a major factor. I am not elevating my heart rate lately so speed eludes me. The other side of that coin is…I am afraid I have lost my mojo.

Today was the day I would attempt to run again. I announced it at RunClub on Wednesday. In front of 60+ people who know me as the RunClub MC. IT made me accountable. So what did I do?

I went for a run today. And I didn’t die.

I brought The Captain with me. I knew that we would be stopping lots because he has to sniff everything.

I am out of Ghost6 runners. This makes it sound like a grocery list item. Well, for me it kinda is. I work in the running industry, so shoes are one of those ‘milk, bread and eggs’ items. I have a wall rack FILLED with shoes of every make and model you can think of. But Ghost 6 is my long distance shoe. My last two pairs are finished. I wore one yesterday on the floor at work, walked over 5k just doing my job, and got home to find my joints, back and shoulders were pain riddled. This is a sure fire sign that my shoes are done. I had discussed my shoe issue with Nic, my shoe whisperer. He had suggested that I give my Nike Pegasus 31 a try (I have 2 pairs) They are a neutral shoe with nice cushioning and a drop similar to the Ghost 6 that I have been using. I wear them all day for work and feel great! Odds are this was going to be a reasonable replacement and I was happy with that idea!

I began my run this morning at the top of Mill Creek Ravine. It is an old rail line that has been converted into a running path. It is paved and tree lined. When I say tree lined I mean it is bush. IMG_7680

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It feels like you are in the middle of no where. I love it. It is my favourite place in the whole world. It isn’t tainted by memories with others because I will not share it. It is my place. In fact, it is my happy place.

I just lied, I share it with my Captain, but only him.

The run started off pretty good. My legs felt good, lungs felt good, I kept my pace slow so I wouldn’t over do it. It was good….not great or fantastic, but good!

Half way I needed to stop and sit on the bench. I was getting dizzy and I blame my brain tumour. It makes me dizzy all the time, sometimes worse than others. Sitting calms things down. It was at this point The Captain decided he needed to chase rabbits into the bush. Ummm, no.

I was not going to bush-sack today. He looks at me and speaks like Chewbacca with groans and such. I looked at him and firmly said no. He actually  “harumphed” followed by a pout. He wouldn’t look at me for the next 10 minutes as punishment.

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Off we went, further into the valley.

It was at this moment I listened to my feet.

Feet: Hey Robyn, WTF is on us?

Me: Nike Pegasus 31

Feet: Where are the Ghost 6 that we love?

Me: I don’t have any left. Brooks has the Ghost 7 out now and we don’t like it remember?

Feet: Oh right, but that doesn’t explain the Pegs.

Me: True, but they felt so good on a 9 hour day, I figured they would be awesome!

Feet: well, now we know they aren’t. To prove this point, we are going to make the arches burn now. Followed by telling the knee you injured to get cranky because your arches burn and compensating for us is really going to make your knee cranky.

Me: DAMN, why can’t you two just be happy you are out running again?

Feet: Because, we want Ghost 6 strapped to us and we are not going to behave until you meet our demands.

Me: Seriously? you are holding me hostage? You are going to regret this feet.

And they did. But in turn, they made my last 3km H E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICK!

To make them suffer, I did a long a steep hill. This made knees really pissed at me. Heart and lungs were cool with it though.

Once I reached the top I paused to check out the view.

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To me there is nothing prettier than a prairie blue sky! The feet were finally relaxed about the running thing and felt happy again. Then Cap and I hit the road once more and the feet were ANGRY!

I ignored them, but ran to my store.

I entered the building, walked back to the clearance room, found the last 2 pairs of Ghost 6 size 10 Women’s and marched to the counter where I did a product check for other shoes in the province.

These were the LAST 2 SIZE 10 WOMEN’S SHOES LEFT. DAMN YOU BROOKS!!! So I bought them, and some KT Tape for my knee.

I ran just .2 shy of 7km. Not bad for my first day back. It took me a while, but that part will take practice. I have a 10km scheduled with Karen on Sunday, so I will run a couple of 4-5ks this week to keep the joints moving.

AND I will run in my new Brooks Ghost 6, training has begun for the Vancouver Rock and Roll. I have my health, the motivation and the shoes.

Bring it on.

 

No one told me THAT would happen!!

I have a secret that no one talks about.

When you lose a lot of weight, and I mean A LOT, your skin doesn’t spring back into place.

You know all those photos for people in bikinis with tight skin in their ‘after’ photos…yeah, about that…

So we all know what I have been doing since January 1, 2011. I have been living my life in a different manner. I began ‘lifestyle’ change not a diet. This is me before:

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That is over 100lbs ago – about 107.8lbs to be precise.

As I lost weight, it was like my body was melting from the top down. I still have a giant ass and legs, but the weight on top left first. Weird. I noticed things like, rings falling off, my cheeks didn’t obstruct my vision, shoes got too big and underwear would slide down my hips as I walked. I couldn’t visually see me change, except I found my collar bone.

I could sit in theatre seats, I didn’t need seat belt extensions for the airplane, my kids could walk past me in the pantry, I use to have to move out of the way so they could enter.

As the weight continued to disappear, I noticed something else. My skin stayed where it was and didn’t leave. Think about that. Lose a person the size of my 16 year old daughter and the skin doesn’t spring back. Skin is heavy.

I talked to me Nurse about this issue…was there a cream? Was there more time needed? What did I need to do?

She said something very shocking to me.

Plastic Surgery.

Whaaaaaaaaa??????

What the hell man! I do this the hard way, no surgery, no lypo, no bariatric and you expect me to cut off my skin? How is THAT even fair??

I had a preconceived notion that plastic surgery meant vanity.

It does to some people. I talked to my doctor about it. Skin removal would ease the strain on my neck and back. I would be able to move more freely. I would be able to see the change and keep moving forward because honestly, I am only half way in my weight loss goal. He talked to me about a plastics surgeon that only works with people who have lost weight and have been able to maintain the weightless for over 2 years. The candidate cannot be on a fad diet nor can they be yoyoers. They must be healthy and fit to meet these requirements.

I thought about it for a while.

This was a big change. People don’t really understand. I was at the point where I could easily give up and go back to my old ways. Removing skin was for me, a bigger change than I had anticipated. It not only meant physically changing my body, but it mentally implied that I was ready to move forward and keep going. My long term commitment was still not over. I would have a lifetime of thinking of food as a battle. I never could relax for a moment. Kind of like a person with a drug or alcohol addiction. It is always there in the background, never leaving you. Removing skin was going to be me saying to my body – I let you down, but I never will again.

I was asked to be put on the list.

2 years later, the surgeon calls me for a consult.

Took you long enough pal.

I figured a year because I needed to maintain or keep losing…I had done just that. I kept moving forward and waited a really long time for this moment.

I entered his office on clinic morning and an entourage of interns and resident docs paraded behind him. I was asked to remove my clothes and stand in front of the gang while they poked, tugged, lifted, made inappropriate comments.

First I said no – there is too many people here and this is weird. Get out. They all left but the Resident – she was lovely and had great bedside manner, a gift that will be beat out of her as her tenure for surgery continues – and my Doc. He kept saying “these are crazy nipples” I smacked his hand and said “DUDE I am standing RIGHT HERE and can hear everything you say!”

He apologized and from that moment on, we had a good relationship. He agreed to my surgery saying I was an excellent candidate and I needed to get on another wait list….WTF?

Another list?

So I called his office where is staff were lovely, kind and compassionate. I was asked to go on the cancellation list.

Then I waited.

less than one month later I get the call : So….how’s 3 days from now?

Ummmm….yes??? Maybe???

Things that crossed my mind:

  • I can’t leave work, we are short staffed
  • I can’t leave work because I took on the extra to help out my boss
  • I can’t because I am running races this summer
  • I can’t because I am scared

Then I cried.

I went into my bosses office and asked to speak privately. I have this issue with thinking in my brain before getting the entire story out so I began the conversation with, “so I guess I have to say no but…”

He panicked and said “No TO WHAT??”

I told him about the surgery.

At that point I was prepared to quit. I didn’t want to because I respect him too much and I couldn’t do that to the team, but I was willing to.

He told me to do it and not to worry about a thing. He organized everything and I left that weekend feeling relaxed and able to put work behind me.

Step one to a successful surgery : Zero Stress

Step two: be fit

Step three: eat protein

My the third day I was laying in Day Surgery at the Lois Hole Women’s Hospital starving to death. No food or water since 11:30 the night before.

I have this great ability to sleep anytime/anywhere – so I did.

Then they took me up to the operating theatre where they drew all over me in sharpie in (including a happy face for me later) obviously the doc cut along the lines.

I woke up 2 hours later and wanted to eat. They said I would be nauseous  – nope – food please.

Here is what I discovered:

  • my fitness level made my recovery fast and effortless.
  • my core strength made moving in and out of bed a breeze
  • the nurse was worried about my blood pressure and resting heart rate. Apparently it was too low for someone my size (64 people! that is awesome) I told her I just ran a half marathon, I am a runner – suck it.
  • I was also asked about diabetes – I lost 100lbs and I run – suck it
  • My blood work showed my cholesterol was normal – again runner!!! Suck it and I eat healthy.
  • Size discrimination is rampant

Here I sit, 5 days later – I nap frequently because surgery makes me sleepy and they cut off 6.8 lbs of skin people!!! Walking to the car, I noticed my neck and back felt fantastic! The weight was gone. Now if only the potholes would leave I would be a happy camper!

I am glad I did it. I look so different, feel fantastic and really need to run – but that is still 3 weeks away. I feel like I am on a really long taper.

The next phase will be the panelectomy  – the saggy skin that hangs low past my belly – I can’t WAIT for that one!

Meanwhile, I really feel like I am over the hill that was holding me back. Onwards and upwards and did you know that bras come WITHOUT industrial harnesses? AND in pretty colours?? Neither did I!

Me yesterday: My sister and I comparing chest sizes after I go from an I to a D – I still win 🙂

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The Calgary 50th Marathon or What was I thinking?

June 1st is a day that will live in infamy…at least in my mind.

I ran the Calgary half marathon and didn’t really train for it. Everything I could have done wrong I did and yet I never felt better completing a half marathon in all my life…true story.

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I knew after I completed the Calgary 10k last year that I was going to run the half. How could I not? It was the 50th year for the Calgary Marathon, the oldest Marathon in Canada. (not to be confused with the oldest race because I think that may be the run around the lake in Hamilton…but I could be wrong, in fact DO NOT USE THIS AS A FACT FINDING MISSION.

Calgary has a lot going for it, great speaker series, great course – it is NOT AN OUT AND BACK! Terrific crowd support and beautiful weather. I know they didn’t have anything to do with that, but they should still take credit! And ELVIS!

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He called me Darlin’. There was a ton of entertainment on the course. I love you for that Calgary!

I was really looking forward to the Speaker Series at Expo. I wanted to meet Bart Yasso and Dean Karnazes. I saw the both speak but waiting in lines is not my thing, so I just waited to meet Yasso. He signed my bib. I rubbed it LOTS on race day for luck and inspiration. I made the most shocking comment ever. I tell everyone who will listen that a Half Marathon isn’t ‘just a half’ it is HALF of nothing, it is far! Be proud! Yet when I sat next to Bart Yasso, the first words out of my mouth were, I’m only doing the half, I am not ready for a full yet.

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Being the Amazing Bart Yasso, he replied with, a Half is FAR. You are like me,I am a halfer. do not apologize for your distance, be proud.

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You are right Mr. Yasso….I am very disappointed in myself for saying that, and worse…THINKING IT!

The next morning I walked to the Stampede Grounds and waited with the Trusty Steed, Amy, Rachel, Tiffany, Greg, Brent, Natalia, and a bazillion others that I knew in passing from Edmonton and those who were strangers but became friends that morning.

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(Did I mention I was in corral B? I didn’t?? CORRAL B PEOPLE! That is the closest I have ever been to the front of the line. )

We all got caught up in the hype of the morning and took off like the Kenyans we are not. Once our hearts exploded we then found our pace and ran. I knew the first 10k of the course because I ran it last year. This year the Halfers had to cross the 10k track and merge over into the other lane. That was tricky. If I was faster than I would have beat the 10ers, but that was not to be my fate. No one died or was harmed in the merging but I really had to sprint. I hate sprinting, but I can now do it. There is something you never would have heard me say a year ago.

I learned a lot about myself. I am that person who will stop and help people on the course. I am NOT that person that runs past someone and thinks “sucka…I am passing you!!!” On the contrary, I am the person who will hold your hair while you puke, give you my last GU if you look like you need it, Wait with you until the first aiders arrive because you are delirious. Conversely, Karma was just as kind to me, I had spectators jump on the course with me a run a bit, they asked my story and seemed concerned that I wasn’t doing well. I have news for you – that expression on my face is a problem I have had all my life. It is called “Bitchy Resting Face” It makes me look like I am in pain, or tired or having problems when in fact, I had the best best run of my life.

I crossed the finish line and fist pumped the air because HAHA I DID IT! I had a massage, because for $20 it is stupid NOT to get one. And I walked back to my hotel. Now, this halfer was the first time I didn’t need crutches or friend support to hold on to me. I walked home with a spring in my step and felt fab. The only thing I wish I had was flip-flops. I didn’t want to endure bag check and really, I was fine. I still have all my toenails.

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Me and Aimbo (can you see the size of that Full Medal?? It is a belt buckle with a bottle opener. Amy just finished the Blackfoot 100k the weekend before and paced a group to finish 2 minutes under 4 hours for this one. She is a BEAST. This summer she is running the Sinister Seven and Death Race SOLO back to back. She is my hero.)

I broke the cardinal rule in Running and wore BRAND NEW OUT OF THE BOX Shoes. That was stupid, but Brooks Ghost is MY SHOE. They felt like home putting them on and I don’t regret it. I don’t advise this of you. I walked away blister and injury free. So it worked for me.

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Flat Robyn and her shiny new shoes!

I ate a steak sandwich because I was thinking about a burger at the 17km mark. GU just doesn’t cut hunger. I drank a beer because it tastes the best after a half marathon and I stole cupcakes because that is how I roll.

I stayed at the Fairmont Palliser and there was a reception in the lobby. Cupcakes were everywhere. I took one on the way up to my room. Sugar was good. On the way back down for lunch, I stole another one. Hunger is a problem for me after that many miles. I can only imagine when I run a full what I will need to eat.

Will I run this course again? YES! I really want the belt buckle that is also a bottle opener. It is the size of my head. Big in the way only Calgary can do. But I won’t be running it next year, I have new races to face.

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Happy Running!

That day I became became my own hero

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I did some things in the last 30 days that really amazed me.

  1. I took over the primary spot of managing at work, although temporary, I never excepted to be in this position. I have learned more about myself in a few shorts weeks than I thought possible. University was right, I am capable of so much more than I believed. It is a wonderful feeling to have the complete faith of those around you. I never had that in a work situation before. I like it.
  2. I fitness level is at a level that I didn’t believe to be possible and STILL carry around this kind of weight. I didn’t really train for the Calgary Half Marathon. The Trusty Steed tried to talk me out of running the half. saying I need to be careful, I might injure myself, I really need to evaluate the effects of recovery….blah, blah, blah….We have had this conversation before. I now just ignore him and do what I believe I am capable of. It’s not like I had never done a half marathon before. It wasn’t my first rodeo. I knew how far it was, I respected the distance AND I know about the best ways to reach optimum recovery for me. I ran it, and I never felt better during a half marathon. Never – EVER. I recovered right away and went to work the next day and stood on my feet ALL DAMN DAY. You know something? I have the medal to show for my accomplishment. I feel more proud of this medal than any other I have earned.
  3. I have always been afraid a body modification. The thing about weight loss that no one talks about is the extra skin that doesn’t spring back into place. I have people tell me that they had no trouble. Well, I am will to bet they didn’t 100lbs+. If their skin bounced back, I am super excited for them! Way to go! It is AWESOME that you loo and feel great! That didn’t happen for me. I am at the point of no longer seeing my progress. The more weight I loose, the same way I look. It is kind of discouraging. I talked to my Nurse at Weight Wise and she suggested Skin Removal. It isn’t for the feint of heart. I talked to my Doc and he referred me a Plastic Surgeon who specializes in procedures BECAUSE of weight loss. He won’t even talk to you if you are a yoyo dieter or a fad dieter or haven’t kept the weight off for years. I qualified. I had round one of 3 treatments. Let me tell you, after going through the first phase, I CANNOT WAIT for the second phase!!!

There you have it, 3 things that I did that amazed me. Each one will get their own special entry here on The Edmonton Tourist and here on Me and Mo. Stay tuned because we both know how I like to share crappy stuff that happens to me and then I turn it into lemonade – or Dole Whips because Dole Whips are better than Lemonade.

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My Olympic Training: Calgary 2014

As a kid I use to dream about being an Olympian. Not the kind of dream where I was an athlete and worked hard to advance so I could make the team. I was not THAT kid. I was the kid who would slide down a hill on my toboggan or Crazy Carpet and pretend that I was in Bobsled or Luge. I would skate at the local rink, flooded Tennis courts for non-hockey skaters and Hockey rink for those with a stick and puck. I would skate on either ice depending how I felt that night. My brother was always goalie and sometimes I was Karen Magneson – my Women’s Singles Figure Skating hero. I was never a good enough skier to fantasize about winning, I was too busy trying not to fall, but before bed every night, I would play out the role of winning a medal.

The closest I have ever come to playing out that fantasy is through running. It isn’t because I am a fast runner who wins my age division, don’t make me laugh. It is because of the participation factor and the opportunity to earn a medal at the finish.

If you have never had the chance to run/walk across the finish and have a medal placed around your neck, I recommend you give it a try. There is something very satisfying about training and the then completing an event. Lots of people I know, don’t care about the hardware. I have mine strung up on my office wall. It isn’t about winning, it is about the hard work and effort it takes to EARN them.

I had a conversation not that long ago with an employee. She had asked my opinion as a former educator about creating an even field where everyone gets a “good job” or everyone gets a valentine. Those two questions for me were separate, but not for her.

Everyone receiving a Valentine is important in life. Why? Social skills are how you navigate through life. If you cannot be kind to people for the sake of being kind, then your future home/career life will be very hard indeed. You don’t have to like everyone, but being kind and polite will get you far in this world. It’s about effort.

Effort in social skills and accomplishments is important. That old adage, Do your Best, isn’t just words, its meaning full.

I don’t think you should get a medal or a gold star for just breathing. I think effort needs to be applied. What do I mean by effort? That person needs to do their best work/job/attempt. There needs to show movement towards achieving more than they achieved yesterday. For example: I have set goals to achieve a faster km/min time with my running. I am doing the cadence and stair work recommended by my coach. I will still not be the fast group in the Calgary Marathon, so does that mean I am not deserving of a medal if I am able to cross the finish line? It isn’t like I am not trying, get swept and still expect a medal at the end. Cross the line one goal, Cross the line with a PR is another goal and being able to walk normally the next day is another goal.

To achieve this, I am doing speed work and distance work. I am also doing wall sits, planks, push ups and various other work to make my core strong. I also am focusing on nutrition.

I am realistic in my goals and know I will not win the first place age division. So does that mean I am not worthy of a “great job Robyn!”? The gal I was talking to said, ‘the world sets up for false expectations.” Does it really?

I think the world is a tough place and things need to be earned. There are consequences to actions. Great Effort = Great Rewards. Some people argue not always, but I disagree. You just may not see or acknowledge the reward.

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I ran three sets of stairs every time I passed a set on my run yesterday. I ran up and down each step except the last step, those led me to the top and yet I was still at the bottom of a hill, so I ran the hill too. My backside and hamstrings are feeling it today, but I was rewarded with a feeling of accomplishment. I celebrated with my coach and gave Hoff a big hug when I saw him. Did I win? No, of course not. My chapter 2 is not Ting’s Chapter 37. Ting is an amazing runner and is faster than I will likely ever be. He is also 20 years younger than I and has been running years longer than I. However, My Chapter 2 of my story is better than my Chapter 1. I am progressing and I am pretty happy about that. I try not to measure my success against others. Perhaps being 46 years old is the reason I don’t need to. I am secure in myself and focused on my own goals, I don’t need to worry about anyone else. I am competitive enough with myself, so beating my old time or distance is enough of a win for me.

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I was taught to do my best, and my best I did.

Calgary will be my Olympics and I am pretty excited about it.

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3 letters no one wants to hear: DNF

This is the most painful post I have ever had to write.

I DNF the Donald Half Marathon and it hurts.

So why do I just not ignore it, but instead tell the world about it?

Well… I have always maintained that this forum is for me. It is a record of my achievements and failures. It keeps me accountable and provides an opportunity for growth.

I woke up half marathon morning scared. I mean TERRIFIED. it is something I have never experienced before. I realize now that anxious, nervous and apprehensive are not fear. Fear is a completely different emotion.

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I felt out of my element. I was not ready and worst of all, I was going it alone. I didn’t let myself rely on my team or friends.

I walked to the bus pick-up at my resort and boarded the bus with 70 other would be half marathon finishers at 3:00AM. We traveled together in the dark and sat in somber silence.

When I arrived at the EPCOT parking lot, I searched out my team and felt sick. Sick from fear, sick from apprehension and sick from aloneness. How can you be in a crowd of people you like and be alone? Good question but we have all been there and I cannot explain it. This was my first major race – I don’t count the local races because the volume of people just was not the same. Never before in my life had I run with 29 000 other people. For a girl who does not like crowds, this was intimidating.

I approached my team and the first person to catch my eye was Mitch. Relief flowed though my veins. I saw  Brian and we hugged like long lost friends…wait… we are. Teammates that I had knew but never meet before came and hugged me or chatted, photos were taken and jokes were told and the fear in my belly eased.

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We stood around for a long while before the long march to the corrals began. I was hot – too hot for a night race, the temperatures were typically what I finish my Sunday morning runs at. The humidity was high and my hair was a mass of curls. The mile walk to my corral (I kid you not – it was FAR) was lonely. I was the only one I knew. Other teams were floating around me, but I knew not a soul, nor was I in the head space to make friends like I did the previous morning.

I stood in corral P, the last one. 80 minutes away from the first corral. I remembered what Happy told me about standing – DON’T. So I sat amongst the thousands of people standing. Slowly we made our way to our start. The runners from the first corral were making their way to the finish by now. Soon there would be a winner and we hadn’t even begun.

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Donald Duck and Rudy Novotny sent us off. The crowd rushed forward. Soon I found myself in the middle of the pack. Not last, which was a surprise for me, but middle. My knee was throbbing from my run the day before when I had slipped on the uneven surface. I figured at this point I would be in agony by mile 12. However, at no point did I think I would get there.

We ran past Jack Sparrow and the Pirate ship out on the highway, We ran past puppets and birds and bands, we ran past first aid spots of chaff fixing stations and then we ran through the gates to the Magic Kingdom Parking lot. I was getting  closer to the Castle, my goal for the first part of this race. I ran for a while with the Team in Training Coach. Her calm quiet words soothed me as we approached the mile 3 water station. 3 miles in and I was on target. I was well ahead of the sweepers and I was feeling good except for the throb of my knee. I knew how to mentally block that feeling so I was good to see this thing to the end. I let myself think about seeing Mitch, Brian and my girl in Magic kingdom. I was excited to hear the cheers of people on Main Street.

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As I approached the water station I was shocked at the amount of cups on the road. I kid you not, it was ankle deep. To make matters worse, it was a Power Aid station. The road was slick with water from rain that night and greasy from spilled power aid, the waxy cups on the ground added to the complicated nature of navigating across. I wasn’t as careful as I should have been. Me, the girl who runs on ice, knew this would be fine.

I was wrong.

Half way through the station I lost my footing and slipped. I turned my knee in such a way I was sure I would puke from pain. I walked through the rest of the station, took a deep breath and kept moving forward – which is after all Walt Disney’s famous quote – KEEP MOVING FORWARD. So I did. I started to run again.

With the water station behind me and the 5k marker ahead, I felt my knee cry out in pain be very step of the way. As I rounded the bend in the road to cross the 5k mark, I heard the words of Mike Scopa from Mickey Miles Podcast come back to me. He had injured himself before and kept running with big regrets. I had a week of work ahead of me and I don’t get to sit – how was I going to manage? 3 more strides and I knew I was done. The pain was getting worse. I crossed the 5k mark and stopped. Shoulders slumped and a defeated air over took me.

I hobbled over the the van at the 5 k and told him I needed medical. He pointed up the road and said its 1 1/2 miles that way. I replied with a “I will never make it. I am sure I blew out me knee”.

He was on the radio and in 5 minutes a brigade of first aid cyclers pulled up. One gal talked so calm and kind to me that I just started to cry. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The disappointment from pulling yourself out from a race was more than I could bear. Even now writing this I am crying.

They asked me questions and and I told the I had tore my MCL before and knew I had done it again. The pain was the same – only this time I knew what it was. They wrapped my knee and asked if I could walk to the van. I said yes but when I actually began to move – I couldn’t get my leg to cooperate. How did I get from the water station to the 5k mark? I had heavy assistance climbing into the van.

The door shut and there was my journey done.

My dream of “One Day – running the Donald was over”

They drove me back to the finish line where the medical tent was. We had picked up people along the way – people who were swept because they were too slow. They were happy and pleased with their performance and there was me – sitting in pity and trying not to cry.

At the medical tent, everyone piled out before me and then people climbed in to asses my knee. I knew what was wrong, I explained what I was feeling and I told them what I needed. Aside from a hug – I needed ice and help out of the van. Stairs appeared and many hands helped me out and over to the bench where a medical personal assessed  further. He wrapped my knee with ice, taped my knee up and gave me water. As we sat there talking and deciding what to do next, a medal appeared around my neck.

I asked what this was for and the gal whispered into my ear “This medal is not for crossing the finish line, it is for the miles and hard work you put into before you even arrived here. It is for the pain and suffering you endured. You earned this as if you crossed the finish line. Wear it with pride.”

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Then I began to cry like my heart was broken. Pain more sever than the MCL injury. Ego is a tough thing to over come.

I made it back to my room, showered and iced my knee some more, took meds and limped over to meet my team. By the end of the day – I had enough hugs and support to feel better until the last one. We were parting ways until later that night when one member wrapped me up and hugged me hard – once again I cried from disappointment but comforted by his understanding. Mitch let me lean on his shoulder and use it in a way I had never relied on anyone before. I needed that sympathy and understanding. Once that was done, I felt better. It no longer mattered that I didn’t finish. It was over and I could move on.

For the first time I allowed myself to feel the disappointment instead of mask it. Feeling it let me move on quickly and look forward to the rest of the weekend. What a huge difference it made.

A week later with some distance behind me, I find I am feeling a bit scared to run. This tells me my knee isn’t ready. It will be soon and I have registered for the next race. I need to have a run with an excellent outcome, I am ready for some good.

Meanwhile, I love my team. Thanks you guys.

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The Interview

December 16, 2009.

That was the day I sat at a table in my classroom and cried after school. Well…I sobbed like my heart was broken.

It was, but not in the traditional sense. I was crying because I hated my job. I hated my life and I hated the dark path I was spiralling down. Between that day and January 11, 2010 my life is blank. I cannot tell you what happened or who I spoke to or why I did things. I can’t tell you because somehow, I have erased it from my thoughts. I suspect it was to dark and sad to bother remembering.

Why January 11? I started a conversation with someone that day that changed the way I look at things. I didn’t know it then, but January 11th was the first day of a brighter future for me. I learned about running. I didn’t take it serious and still thought it would never be for me. But it interested me.

I began listening. More importantly, I began thinking.

A friend of mine who would become the most influential reason for change, asked me a series of questions one day. They required answers to questions that I had never thought about. Things that made up me. Books I read, movies I liked, favourite foods, activities I enjoy. It sounds inane, but for me I called this the interview.

The interview required me to examine myself. Look at myself in a light that was honest.

I don’t remember doing that before.

Looking at myself this way required me to examine my life and actions and discover why I was loathsome. Why I behaved the way I did and why did I always put myself last. The ironic part of this whole scenario was – my friend who asked me these questions, asked because they thought I had it all going on and wanted to learn from me.

HA!

They soon learned that we were the same except for one small detail: I aspired to change at faster rate to achieve a level that would put me on equal footing with them.

Did it work? No.

I realize now that we were equals. I never saw myself equal to anyone. I saw myself as less than average. Less than normal, and less than what I could possibly every hope to be.

3 years ago I never thought I would be a University graduate. I never thought I would ever run a half marathon, nor would I ever be working at a job I didn’t hate.

2 years ago I never thought I would be starting a foundation that would assist researchers that can find a cure for a disease that changes the lives of children and families in ways that is to painful to imagine it happening to you. I never thought people would stop me on the street because they recognize my face and know my story. I never thought I could do things independently and still be accepted by friends and family.

1 year ago I never thought I would work in the fitness industry. I thought I would always be discriminated against because of my weight. I thought pretty things were never meant for people who looked like me. I thought fitness clothes were just for gazelles and gorillas like me had to wear ill fitting mens clothes. Never did I think I would influence an entire industry and see the change happen in the spring and because I had the courage to speak up and ask for something I think I deserve.

Today I sat and cried just like I did 4 years ago, only this time I am crying because I do not recognize that place where I was. I cry because I turned dreams into goals achieved. Dreams without goals and a plan are just wishes. Wishes are just fireworks that go up in smoke.

A woman came into work the other day because she had heard I was working there now. She wanted to meet me. She wanted to hear my story. 4 years ago I just had a sad story. I still have dreams. Not all of those dreams will get goals and steps to work on. Why? Because I have learned that not every dream comes true because you out grow them. 4 years ago I had different dreams. None of them came true and quite frankly I am happy about that because you never know what is around the corner.

I don’t expect all my dreams to come true, but I have steps in place to make them a possibility.

Possibilities are endless.

This is me 4 years ago.

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This is me 2 weeks ago. My new shirt with the Foundation’s named and my new look never would have happened without a goal with a plan. It made all the difference…and so did the interview.

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The First Valley Run of the Winter Season

Lately it has been super cold so I rode DangerBike on my office. I haven’t been for a run farther than 8 miles in a while…a long while. I have a month-ish before I have a major race at Walt Disney World, so I made it outside today and the first 7km were lovely! The last 4km? Well, lets just say it was my intent to run 13km but trudging through the city streets made it difficult and exhausting.

(Follow me on instagram to see my video of my run – you can hear what the cold crunch of northern snow sounds like http://instagram.com/ragrobyn)

Today’s run has to be the most difficult 11km run I have ever done. Period. That includes the run I did when I was dehydrated or the run I did in the pouring sideways rain. Today’s run ended with a trek UP Walterdale Hill (FYI – that was stupid and it is a ONE and DONE hill…not again this winter!) after running on un-shoveled sidewalks and roadways. Lumpy, uneven paths are difficult to navigate.

BUT.

Millcreek was ploughed by City Tractors and it was gorgeous running.  I ran down the creek into the river valley. I was hit on by Hobos who wanted to kiss me, I said no thank you. Then they asked if they could run with me, I said, no thank you. They were disappointed, I was a little scared. Running in the opposite direction of them and towards the University Run Club Men made me feel a little happier.

The biggest issue I find with running in the winter is the cleats I have to wear. Running without them is too scary for me. I easily lose my footing and am thankful for the solid feeling my YakTrax Run provide me. But, my feet get tired quickly. I was at about 8km and I wanted to pop the cleats off. If I remember correctly, it will take me a few weeks to build up the strength in my feet again. It should make me feel like I am flying for the WDW Half Marathon!

Next week, my coach has me running 5k on my long run and then 15km the following week. I have to say, 5k almost feels like a waste of time, but 5k I shall do. Why? Because I trust him. He hasn’t let me down yet.

Meanwhile, keep warm and Happy Running!