Posts Tagged ‘Running’

Stress is going to be a theme for the next 20 months as I go through my Nursing School Program.  I realize that, and am prepared for that.  Some tools I have for managing my stress are:

  • This blog — blogging for me is a place to reflect on my life, my experiences and to process what’s going on in my world.  It’s a tool I’ve been using, it’s a place that I hope provides my readers with stories and insights into my world. A place that I hope provides others food for thought as they too seek to live their lives well.

  • Exercise — exercise is a key stress management tool for me.  It’s helpful that I know that when I’m working out regularly I’m generally healthier, better able to function in my stress.  But, the challenge I have is balancing everything. In past degrees I’ve fallen victim to the panic that if I’m not studying every second I’m going to do poorly.  This degree I’m NOT going to let that happen because I do not want to gain the ‘Freshman 15’.  So what tool am I using to make sure that I don’t fall off the running wagon (at the very least)? Train for races. I’ve been training for a marathon with the specific intent to keep running goals as a priority.

  • Friends — I have some friends on campus — close long time friends — so getting together with them for lunch occasionally really helps. Also another friend is a nurse and is also in school again so she’s a great resource and it is great to have her ‘in the trenches’ with me.

So what are some stresses that are coming up for me now? There’s nothing particularly that is causing me acute stress right now, but there are many little things that I’m sorting out and such.  So there are things that causing me the beginnings of stress and I’m working through them right now and I don’t yet have all the solutions to the concerns

  • Financial — I have a bit of a student loan but got no where near sufficient money to cover costs of living etc. I’m still working at my job, and am trying to stay, BUT, it wont cover living costs even remotely.  So I’m going to work on this a bit more this weekend so that I can at least have a plan in place.  I am trying not to stress about generating debt because I know that the current canadian pay rates for nurses — even if I’m at the lowest level and don’t work any overtime — means I will be okay once I’m done (assuming the fraser health authority restructuring doesn’t spread).  But, given my ‘hate debt’ sensibilities, it’s tough. Given my life dreams. It’s tough.  It’s also easy for me to fall into the pressure of not having a life to save money, but I don’t want to regret this time, I don’t want to hate my time in nursing school — I want happiness and amazing memories. Both in school and out.  So I will travel, visit those I want to visit (like going back to New Mexico), and enjoy my life to the best of my ability.

  • School — I haven’t yet figured out the tools I need to keep up with the work and to really learn the work.  I have to learn them quickly because my first final is on October 9th.  Yes, OCTOBER 9th.  So this means that keeping my job is stressful (yet not keeping my job is also stressful) because it’s a lot of hours that I could read (that being said, I took tonight off — was wiped out) and study.  How to balance everything is a learning process in itself, and it will come. The one benefit is that at least the material isn’t difficult, there’s just a lot of material to learn.

  • Personal life — the stresses in my personal life relating to family — that led to much reflection, counseling and processing last year are still on going. They’re under control because I have boundaries in place to protect myself.  One thing we’ve been talking about in school is connection and support networks.  This is an area of stress because I sometimes wonder if I have a good support network.  The challenges I’ve faced this past year or so have meant that I’m careful about who I lean on very much for support.  And as time goes on I really will need the support so I need to work on trusting those who could give me support, and not putting on a mask of ‘everything’s okay’ just because other people have betrayed my trust in the past.

  • Relationships — this both amuses me (as I watch the young girls in the program flirt with the few young single guys in the program) and makes me sad.  I guess this is somewhat connection with my personal life comments above — a lot of students in the program who are my age are married, often with kids. I’m comfortable in my situation because they all have to balance much more complex lives than I do.  But, the type of support that they have available is something I miss.  But, I need to relax on this and not start stressing because, really, I’ve been accepting that there are few men in this city who capture my interest (now if we talk about outside this city, that’s different — but that’s a different topic). Also, if there were someone here with me I would need to split my time more.  So I’m okay with where I’m at, on the whole, but due to ‘distractions’ in my life there are certain things that have the potential of stressing me out.

BUT all these things (except financial — that is more of a present concern) are things that have the potential to stress me out if I’m not careful.  So I’m trying not to let myself focus on them and instead I’m trying to do what I need to on any given day — such as this week I’m tired at the end of it, so I took the evening off last night and did nothing productive.

The rest of this weekend will be cleaning, planning (to reduce some of the stress I’m facing), and studying.  I’ll try the ‘timer method’ to attempt to get everything done. And now, since I’ve done little this weekend so far (except call a couple of banks, cell phone company etc — all important too) it’s time to start reading for next week.


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It was 5:15am, slowly it was time to get out of bed.  My ride to the race was coming to pick me up at 6am. I grabbed a mini-bagel with peanut butter and my homemade jam a teeny bit of coffee and got dressed. I didn’t really know what to wear as it was pretty cloudy — with one horrible dark grey cloud over my neighborhood. I ended up no bringing anything warm but did wear my long running tights and a short sleeved shirt (not the race shirt itself, I never wear that until after the race). At the start it was perfect, I was chilly but not completely uncomfortable. We got to the start line around 6:30 (after waiting in stupid traffic) and I spent ages waiting in the portapotty line up. I don’t know if it was just slow, there were fewer available, or that being located farther away from the center of campus meant that fewer people could find bathrooms to use. But it worked out, I did my thing and got to my meeting point on time.

What on earth was I doing so early this morning? The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon.  It’s a beautiful race, it starts up at UBC and takes us around campus a bit, down Marine Drive, along the beach, 4th Avenue, Point Grey Road, Past Kits Beach, Over the Burrard Street Bridge and ending up in Stanley Park:

Some call it the most scenic Vancouver Half Marathon. I’d agree with that! It’s a great race course, and I particularly love it because it’s part of my usual running neighborhood. They changed the course slightly so that we don’t loop as long on 16th as in the past — and we get more time at UBC before we head down the hill. I think this is a great change!

I run this race every year. This year, we started off nice and steady, I felt strong throughout the race — other than my foot bugging me near the end (I’ve had a nagging injury), I don’t think I pushed it as much as I could have going down marine drive but we had a rule — hills either up or down we keep running. As it turns out we only skipped one walk break, the rest of the hills were timed pretty well. I’d brought enough hydration for myself, and only got water once to dump on my head. By about 10k I began to regret wearing what I wore because it became a GORGEOUS day!  I was definitely wearing too much, but I wore the wrong bra — so I had on a standard sports bra rather than the more stylish kind that can be worn alone. Had I chosen the correct bra, I would have stripped down to it for the last part of the race.

At roughly 15k my running partner started to fade. She’d told me at the start of the run that her hip was bugging her and that if she decided to stop and walk a bit more that I should go on ahead.  So I did. I tried to keep up my pace, and I haven’t checked my garmin data yet, but I felt strong. I kept going but at around 18k my nagging big toe joint injury (dance related, I believe) I knew it was okay enough to keep going so I tried to push through it. 18k is roughly at the start of the burrard street bridge, and was exactly where I was standing for the Vancouver Marathon not that long ago. It meant the world. It was exactly that moment when my energy was flagging and I was digging deep to make it up that last hill.  They made me smile as they jumped and screamed for me!

I made it to the end feeling strong and happy with how I’d done.  I knew I was no where near my course PB but given the foot thing, the winter’s dislocated ribs and the 1000 other insane things that have gone on I was in a great position. My long term goal of breaking 2 hours is still far off.  But the coolest thing is this is the first time I’ve heard my name announced as I crossed the finish line! It made me find that teeny bit more.

You know, really, I have only one criticism of this race: the race fair. I love the fairs, generally it’s a chance to see what other races are out there, see different businesses in the running community. Sometimes organic or natural fuel (gels, drinks etc) are there — given my new no dairy thing I’m looking to change my fuel. But this time there were a couple of booths that are always there. I was pretty disappointed, because as much as I love Sporty Jewels, I wasn’t going to be buying anything this year. There was nothing there worth visiting.

But all in all it was a great race. After the race, I spent time with my running peeps comparing our days, and then we all went home to shower and change before our traditional post-race brunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon pampering myself and relaxing.

So today was a great day, even though my 2008 race will still stand as my course PB.

So what’s next?

  • Bootcamp — we’re doing another session of bootcamp. I’m hoping that I can get to that next level of fitness, break through a fitness blockade I think I have up and build more strength. This will mean being very diligent with my nutrition, and lots of careful planning — both for meals and for fitting in my workouts.  It’s going to be hectic, but I hope I will achieve my goals.
  • Marathon — I’m going to start training for my Second Full Marathon. The plan is do to the Portland Marathon on October 4th, 2009. It’s a bit of a challenge to me to train for this marathon, given summer and holidays and travel plans. But it’s important to me to be strong and healthy when the bend in the road happens. So, October is early, so it’s my first post-bend goal.  More about fitness goals later.
  • Yoga — I need to do more yoga. After bootcamp’s done I’m going to use yoga to complement my running.
  • Planning ahead — I need to spend some time planning my workout schedule from now until the end of the year. It’s going to vary month to month depending on schedules but, as a friend pointed out, I owe it to myself to make my health and fitness a priority. So I will sit down and have consistent goals. I may plan to run the half marathon in Seattle late November. But, that’s to be considered and planned.

For the next few days though I’m going to be taking it easy, hot yoga tomorrow, easy jog Tuesday (if I have the energy to wake up early in the morning), long slow run Wednesday morning (if my legs feel okay). Then it will be hours and hours of dancing in Austin, Texas! For now though it’s time to sleep and rest well from today’s race as I dream about the future and think about my future plans — in all areas of my life.

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Have you ever had one of those weeks? It’s the week where everything seems to go wrong. Yesterday and today at work have been incredibly frustrating, but as I choose to keep my work out of this blog I wont go into it in too much detail.  Some of it relates to the reality that it ‘comes with the job’ some of it relates to work-related finances and all the stresses that finances can bring.   It was also frustrating that my medical appointment request for yesterday’s Upper GI Xray and ultrasound was forgotten, so my manager was surprised when I sent out a reminder email. I ended up not getting the time off, but had to make up the time later. Working late bites!

The cool thing, though, was that at my appointment yesterday — which was to try to determine why my stomach hurts — the ultrasound technician showed me some of my organs. I got to see my spleen, my liver and one of my kidneys. It was also amazing, the technician offered to show me my heart — she hadn’t looked at it while she was taking photos. I was excited by that possibility and it was really cool to see her reaction. Her first reaction was to say with a voice full of awe ‘wow you must be fit’. When I let her know that I’ve done a full marathon, and am running a 1/2 marathon this weekend, she was very impressed. As a 10k runner she understands training and has a concept of how much work goes into training for any distance let alone a marathon, or a 1/2 marathon.  It was amazing to see how strong, slow and relaxed my heart was. She left the room to consult with the radiologist and as she left she said ‘wow, today’s a great day, I got to see the heart of a marathoner’.

The Heart of a Marathoner

What does that mean? Training for a race — whatever distance — it requires dedication, persistence, emotional and physical strength. Training for a marathon takes time, it requires establishing priorities and being willing to work through the aches and pains, it takes willpower and a lot of emotional strength to get through the long miles and to push past even tears of frustration. On race day it’s often pure guts that gets a runner through the long long miles and past “The Wall”. But the rewards are plentiful: physical strength, emotional strength, great legs (GRIN) and a level of fitness that is unachievable by most.  And yes, it gives you a marathoner’s heart.  The marathon is truly the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically, but it is also the most rewarding physical challenge I have faced (to date). Yes I can say that even with my love of amazing dances. Quite honestly, if I had to choose, I’d choose running over dancing. Well, most of the time (except perhaps between those, fleeting, AMAZING dances, those are hard to match).

Sometimes I think that the challenges of life are like that, they build the persistence and the strength needed to live life well, with integrity and purpose.  The challenges of life strengthen the emotional heart; they build the character of the one undergoing the trials.  This year and many recent years, have been like that — they are years that have been a hard marathon and I felt at several points like I hit that proverbial wall. Today, I can acknowledge, without the agony of previous days, that my life is not on the path that I expected to be on at this point in my life.  But, I’m a different person than I was in previous days.  The marathon built the strength of mind and body to get me through the long miles, past that wall and on pure guts, to the finish line strong and confident.  The emotional marathon I have been on in recent years has done the same for my life’s path — building the strength and persistence needed to live life well.

So, yes, I’m not where I thought I’d be at this point. But, for once, I’m okay with that. Yes, those heart dreams that I’ve always carried still exist, but for once I can look at my life and be thankful that I didn’t marry when I was younger because I was not who I am now.  Perhaps, I would have avoided challenging all my perspectives and world views (which is another blog post, but the evolution of my world view is perhaps why I’m not the same person now as I was); perhaps these would not have evolved as they have. For the moment, at least, I can see how, had I gotten those heart dreams at a young age, it may not have been the happiest path. Yes, I’m in the middle of a marathon full of aches and pains — but maybe, just maybe, I’ve broken through the wall that many marathoners have either experienced or train hoping to avoid.

I know that even with my moment to moment stresses about finances, the fall, future plans, and how they will all play out, I am on the right path. I have broken through the wall and I will persist, because I have the heart of a marathoner.

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Today was a long, busy, people-filled day.  It’s a day of craziness, insanity and people.  Today was the 25th anniversary of the Vancouver Sun Run.    This is my seventh time running it — in a row.  It was a lot of fun to be out there with the gang, working hard towards our goals. But I realized that I really haven’t been doing much to build my training, it’s been maintenance more or less — perhaps less given I’ve been sick for so often this winter.

But it also means that I have realized that I need to focus on me.  I need to focus on building my fitness. I don’t know how to adjust my finances to afford it, but I really need to afford what I need to do. This means I need to reduce my spending as much as possible. I really need to take time to figure out how to do this. Because when I am fit, I am confident. When I am confident I am happier. When I am happier I am more at peace with my day to day life even with the stresses.

So tomorrow, I will be figuring this all out.

After the run we all had our annual post-race lunch. At the lunch I was chatting with a friend, and the topic of relationships, playing “the game”, flirting and showing all this to someone. This brings up my usual rant about this city. I’m too tired to get into the rant right now, but suffice it to say, I don’t want to have to chase a guy. I don’t want to have to pursue a guy and ‘convince’ him that he should date me. If a guy is interested in me, I’d like him to show it.  I will certainly respond if a guy flirts (and I’m interested), but I don’t want to have to chase.  So being told that I need to chase, be the one to walk up to the guy in the bar, ask the guy out.  No thanks. As I mentioned when ranting about this a few months ago:

But I am worthwhile to be pursued. If you’re attracted to me, checking me out as I dance, you can get off your ass and walk up to me as I sit there alone listening to the band. Because you are not going to get anywhere if you don’t. I am beautiful, a good dancer and worthwhile enough to be shown that I am valued enough to make the effort — rather than forcing me to make the move just to meet a good looking guy in this bloody city.

Bah. I wanted to deck my friend. This is why, I’m going to do what I need to do right now, and as soon as that’s over I’m going to get out of this city. I hope. Because really, I’ve spent time in other cities, countries and guess what? It’s Vancouver. Grumble.

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Last night I had the hardest time getting to sleep, but such has been the case of late. It was mildly frustrating though because I knew I was getting up at 5am to eat properly before today’s half marathon.

Today was my third time running the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon and it was a bittersweet day. Other than not sleeping well, I awoke feeling ready to face today. I had my usual pre-race breakfast of oatmeal, a banana and yoghurt.   I spent the rest of my time puttering about and getting ready for the race. All those last minute details — gels, keys, sunglasses.  Paul, my running group coordinator, picked me up at 6am and we were at the start line at UBC at 6:20am with a vanload: 8 people and a large boisterous chocolate lab.

After a final pit stop, losing each other a few times and general chaos, we were at the start.  I was over the start line about a minute after the gun went off, and started off nice and steady.  I found my breathing was really laboured today, probably some effects from some sort of allergy that’s had my congested and sneezing and coughing all week. Also, my heart rate shot up and stayed up the entire race. The first 8k were around the campus and is generally full of small rolling hills that until you run a race on them, you don’t notice.  Then we headed down the long hill at NW Marine DR and along the beach. I knew by the time I reached 8k that today wasn’t going to be any PB, I just wasn’t feeling great. So I settled into my, slower, full marathon pace and decided to enjoy the morning. It was a gorgeous morning! 1000x better than last year! For anyone who ran the race last year who is reading this, you will remember feeling like an icy drowned rat. It was wet and cold. I was so wet last year I had to hold my pants up to keep them from falling off, they were very heavy and saggy with water.

Not this year. I couldn’t ask for more perfect race conditions, it makes me wish I was having a better race day. It was overcast when I woke up but the report said no chance of rain. So I dressed quite lightly and even by the time we were waiting at the start it getting brighter and brighter. But it was still with high light cloud, which is really great because it meant I hardly needed my sunglasses, and we weren’t dying from the heat as we were in the 2006 race.

By the end of the race, I just pushed myself to finish. I wished I had a runnig partner with the same goals as me so we could commit to working towards the goals together, I usually find that when I run with a partner we push each other when we each need it and we both run faster, and more consistent together than alone.  Not long now, though until my running partner’s baby’s born. I know she’ll need to adjust and recover, but I hope she’ll soon be back in running form. I miss her particularly on days like today.

Crossing the finishline was good. I was glad to be done the run, this route is one of my favourites, and I certainly run it for pleasure when I go out for runs! But, how I was feeling at today’s race made me sigh with a bit of frustration at how I was feeling. That being said, checking my time compared with last year, I am about 1min faster this year than last year, so it’s a course record for me. So that’s positive. But it’s also about 5min slower than my PB, and it’s about the same time as my marathon split, so essentially not that long ago I was able to do the same thing as today, but twice. Yikes.

Looking at my Garmin data, I can always tell when I’m struggling — my average HR was quite high, and didn’t ever drop. That’s always a sign that I’m not doing well physically. Last time that happened on a run, I ended up with bronchitis for 2 weeks and I ended up starting my new job with no voice.  So tonight I start ColdFX to help make sure I stay healthy.

So my plans:

1. DO YOGA! I really feel stiff, inflexible and sore, so I need to get some yoga done. I’m going to see if I can find a Saturday morning class on Granville Island so I can still meet up with my gang post run.

2. Train for the OIM (Full — Canadian Thanksgiving) with my running room running group (Sunday mornings).

3. Find a bootcamp that runs 3x/week for August and likely September.  I really need to get some cross training in.

4. Think seriously about repairing, or replacing my bicycle so that I can cycle commute to things more.

5. Find a half to run for around the end of August.

After the race was over, we hung out and cheered everyone on and flaked out wrapped in the thermal blankets.  Then one of my running buds and I went to Kits pool and sat in the shallow end to help our legs.  It was very soothing.  Not quite an ice bath but it was relaxing. After the pool we met the gang for our traditional post-race lunch at Milestones and then went to a beach BBQ where I’m afraid I wasn’t very social. By this time it was hot and gorgeous so I flaked out on the grass and napped in the sunshine. Unfortunately I missed another event I was supposed to attend, but I was so wiped I just needed to nap.  And that’s just what I’ve spent this evening doing. Napping. So now I have no food for lunch tomorrow, so I’ll likely have to buy something. But I’m feeling refreshed and ready to re-vamp and change my training for the rest of this year. Who knows, maybe I’ll get my goal PB yet in 2008.

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