Well apparently I take requests now! I have had a request to write about motivation, in particular in training for the Detroit Marathon. I guess since that’s where this all started I can oblige.
For those of you who don’t know I grew up in Windsor so the Detroit Marathon is near and dear to my heart, as part of the run is through my hometown. It is my favourite marathon (well, to be honest I’ve only ever done the half… but really the first half is the best part).
It’s an early start at 7am, it’s still dark and it’s usually very cold. I did the relay one year and I remember waiting, for what felt like hours, and my feet were frozen. When I finally started to run I couldn’t feel my feet for the first kilometre!
It’s usually a crisp fall morning. The sun is just rising while running up the Ambassador Bridge (which is really quite steep!) Running over the Detroit River and looking ahead on the bridge and to the east onto Riverside Drive in Windsor you can see a mass of runners filling the lanes and streets, it’s such a cool scene. This is one benefit of not being at the front of the pack 🙂 The course continues down Riverside Drive and through the tunnel back into Detroit.
The route takes you through cool neighbourhoods in downtown Detroit. (Yes, there are cool neighbourhoods in Detroit – It’s an awesome city… if you know where to go). The spectators throughout the course are amazing. Every year the start and finish line seem to change locations, the best was the year I ran the half and the finish line was on Ford Field (literally on the field!) where the Detroit Lions play.
Last year in an effort to get my family and friends to set fitness goals I suggested (some might say harassed) they participate in the marathon in some way. I sent out monthly motivational emails to get everyone doing something. Even those not participating got into it and did daily walks. The day of the race we had marathoners, half marathoners and a 5 person relay. Awesome turnout! And of course everyone, regardless of whether they had run or not, showed up for the after party!
So I thought it was a one time thing. This year I started getting questioned about why I wasn’t sending the emails. So I started writing them again and that turned into this blog. AND without my “suggesting” this year there are quite a few running again and some running a half or a full for their first time!! So exciting!
I am going down to Windsor this year but it won’t be to run. I am going as a spectator. As much as I like to participate I love being a spectator for this marathon. There are always many local runners. I get to see so many people I know running and I love cheering them on! Let me know if you’re running this year!
So if you’re registered for Detroit or any other marathon or run this fall I’m sure (hope) you are well into your training schedule by now. There will be days when you don’t feel like doing your training run and there will be days when your training run just doesn’t go well. Just remember you can feel sore tomorrow or you can feel sorry tomorrow – you choose.
I have a weakness for quotes (which you’ve probably already figured out…) so I will leave you with a few
I make a conscious effort to surround myself with amazing people. People who inspire, motivate and challenge me. These people inspire me to try new things and to be a better person. I strive for more because I see what they are doing and more importantly because they want me to succeed.
I love it when friends suggest things to me like “Hey, do you want to do the Tongariro Crossing?” I usually say “Sure!” to such requests (without actually thinking about what I’m getting myself in to!) A nice little walk they call it in New Zealand… “nice” and “little” might mean something different in NZ! It’s a 17 or 18 or 19km hike (depending on which sign or book you’re reading). It crosses over Mount Tongariro, an active volcano. (Side note – It hadn’t erupted since 1896 but did 10 months after I was there. Crazy things always happen after I leave a country, but more on that another time). But really, it was an awesome challenge with a great friend, exactly the type of experiences that I love my life to be made up of.
There is a downside to having all of these awesome ambitious people surrounding me though… I don’t own my accomplishments.
20 years ago I went to Boston to watch a friend run the marathon. It was the first time that I had been a spectator at such a huge event. It was incredibly emotional watching these people who have trained so hard to qualify, compete and finish. When I got home I started running. It was ugly! I remember running down the block and coming home, laying down, certain that I was having a heart attack! My running improved (slowly) and I ran a few 5k races. I never really considered myself a runner though. I know runners. They’re fast… faster than me. Real runners run longer distances than me.
At some point years later I decided to do a half marathon with my sister-in-law. It was a big deal! The thought of it scared me. But I trained and I did it. But I know lots of people who have done half marathons so, no big accomplishment.
Much to my surprise a few years after that I decided to train for a full marathon. Something I never believed that I could or would do. Again I trained and I did it! But I know lots of people who have done marathons so again, no big accomplishment.
A couple of weeks ago when I did the swim (post: Passion versus Fear) I was the first female, wetsuit in the 500m. It was exciting to be first…. but half of the people didn’t swim because of the cold water. Some of the swimmers did the 1km, if they had done the 500 they probably would have been faster than me and there were people without wetsuits faster than me. I won but I’ll put an * next to the win.
On Facebook I am part of a running group with runners of all levels. Last week a lady posted a picture of herself. She had just finished her first 5K race, she was proud of herself (deservedly), but she said “I know it’s peanuts compared to what most of you do”. My comment to her was “Own it!”.
And now I have to start taking my own advice. I am a runner. I finished a half marathon and that’s an amazing accomplishment. I finished a full marathon and that is truly an unbelievable accomplishment. And I finished first in my division in the swim a few weeks ago and I am going to own that! I am working on it, working on not making excuses for why I accomplished, or did well at something. I was at another swim yesterday and a woman told me I looked familiar. We talked for a few minutes trying to figure out where she might know me from and then her friend said “You won the LOST race didn’t you?” My immediate reaction was to say “No, I didn’t win it. I was the first female wetsuit in the 500m” instead I said “Yes, I did!”
Whatever your accomplishments are OWN THEM! No disclaimers, comparisons or asterisks. You don’t need to explain how or why you accomplished something, just that you did it. JUST OWN IT!
A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blooms ~ Zen Shin
When I attended my first Warrior seminar in November we talked a lot about joy. Up until that point I hadn’t really ever thought much about it. Our homework was to create joy projects. One of mine was to smile and say hello to people more regularly, particularly while running. It’s actually pretty entertaining to observe people’s reactions. Half of the people don’t even look at me and the other half look at me like I am crazy. Of course there is always one or two people who give a big smile back… and that makes it worth it. It’s such a small thing with so much impact. When someone looks at me and smiles it truly does bring me joy as I’m sure they receive joy from me and my smile. The other benefit of it is that even those who won’t look at me or think that I am crazy keep walking but might feel better because I said hello and smiled, even if they didn’t reciprocate.
I still continue to do joy projects and they are always changing. It’s not that I stop doing one to start another, it’s that after I do these things for a few weeks they become habit. So now I just naturally smile and say hello to people, it’s no longer a project.
I understood the joy that I gained from doing the projects but I didn’t understand how they actually changed my way of thinking until one cold snowy winter day in February…
I had an early flight to California. The weather forecast wasn’t showing any significant precipitation. They were wrong. I got up to drive to the airport. Outside there was a foot of snow on my car and it was coming down significantly… this wasn’t factored in to me getting to the airport on time! I cleaned off my car and started driving… it was a blizzard. As it was only 4am the roads were not good. I made it to the 401 and thought I was in the clear. 20 minutes on the 401 and there was a sign – Highway closed at Brock St. Ok, I have GPS but as I was driving in a snowstorm I couldn’t try to set it so I called the one person I knew would be up… my brother! He navigated me through the back roads getting off the highway before the traffic started to back up. Back roads in a snowstorm – not ideal! I made to the 407 and had a good drive from there. At the airport on time!
I boarded the plane… and waited… then we went to get de-iced, needless to say we were late taking off, an hour late. My flight was not direct so when we landed in Denver I RAN to the other terminal to catch the next flight. I missed it by minutes. The plane was still sitting there but they had already closed the flight. By this time I had met a couple on the same route as me, and in the same dilemma. We went to the counter to get rebooked. All of the remaining flights to Orange County that day were full. We had to fly to Phoenix and then Orange County. The wife of the couple that I had met was getting upset. She was complaining to the ticketing agent, she was really not happy. I thought – she shouldn’t get so upset, there’s nothing that anybody could have done differently and it’s certainly not the ticketing agents fault. I laughed, a few months earlier that is exactly how I would have reacted!
We got our boarding passes for the flight to Phoenix but the flight from Phoenix to Orange County was on another airline. We were told that we could go down to the US Airways gate and get the boarding passes for that flight. So we walked and walked to the end of the terminal. After 10 minutes of typing the agent looked up and told us that we could not in fact get the boarding passes as the flight was actually an American Airlines flight and while the two airlines had just merged their computer systems had not. We would have to get the boarding passes in Phoenix (the problem being we had a tight connection there). So back to our gate at the other end of the terminal. This might be a good time to mention that I was wearing heels!! (Which I have never done since!)
We boarded our flight to Phoenix. All good here, we’re in the south, no need for de-icing. Except we weren’t. We sat and sat and finally the pilot came on and said that they were having a mechanical problem. The part was coming and we would be ready to leave in 10 minutes. 20 minutes later the pilot came back on and said that they weren’t sure what the problem was and that they didn’t know when we would be leaving. At this point I looked at my new friends and asked if it made sense to stay on this flight when we were clearly going to miss our connection (again). The husband went and spoke to the flight attendant to see if we could get off the plane. She so kindly went and booked us on a later flight out of Phoenix. We finally took off.
We landed in Phoenix and now had a 3 hour layover. I headed for the bar! I people watched and I journaled for awhile and realized that I was having a great day… yes, really. I thought, I’ve had a lot of time to read, journal and I’ve met a nice couple. I started to think about it and realized how crazy it was that I was having a great day. If this had happened 3 months earlier I would have been miserable. I would have given myself a massive headache and I probably would have gotten upset at two or more airline employees. Instead I just let things happen.
Our flight to Orange County was uneventful (finally, something went as planned). When I arrived in Orange County I went to the baggage carousel fairly certain that my luggage would not be there. I wasn’t disappointed. I went to the baggage office. (Side note – I had taken my heels off by this point, I got some strange looks but I had a massive blister on each foot so I really didn’t care what anybody thought!) Nobody seemed to know which airline actually had my luggage as I had an unscheduled airline change mid trip. I was told that they would deliver it to my hotel when it arrived. I was skeptical! When I returned from dinner, the luggage still wasn’t there. I asked the front desk clerk to please NOT call my room when it arrived and that I would just get it in the morning. My luggage was there in the morning!
I had no control over any of the events of the day. I just sat back and let it happen. The part that I found really crazy was that I didn’t consciously tell myself to stay calm, that was just my natural state. Through changing my thinking on a daily basis and understanding joy, my mindset has changed.
Your attitude is everything. The women who I met was unhappy most of the day and what did it get her? We both got to California at the same time but I had a great day and she did not.
I have a passion for open water swimming.
For years it was on my list of things I wanted to try but it’s not all that common, so I didn’t. Three years ago I started looking around again for an open water race, a new challenge and I came across LOST – Lake Ontario Swim Team. They swim out of Oakville and I was living in Toronto at the time so it was perfect. The first Saturday that I showed up I got in the water and within the first 50m I was in love. This was amazing… no turns, no chlorine (which I’m allergic to), no lane swim hours to work into my schedule. I can swim as far as I want, whenever I want… kinda…
Of course it’s not perfect… this is Canada, we have cold weather and cold water! There are only a couple of good months to swim in the lake. Add to that it’s Lake Ontario… a very unpredictable lake. A few weeks ago I was swimming at Cobourg beach, it was awesome 70F, no wetsuit…. 4 days later 55F, even with a wetsuit the swim was brief.
So in comes the fear – I have a fear of cold water! There are times when I go in a pool that’s 80F and I think it’s cold!
Having a passion for open water swimming and a fear of cold water creates quite the dilemma especially when you swim in Lake Ontario.
I faced this dilemma yesterday. Every year LOST has a 3.8km race in August. I have done it for the past 2 years and signed up for it back in the spring. I was closely watching the Lake O temperature map all week. Last Saturday in Oakville the water temperature was 45F so I was happy when it was forecasting 65F for race day.
Race day – I woke up at 4:30am, drove from Cobourg to Oakville and parked at the finish line hoping to get a ride to the start line. I went down to check out the finish line and noticed that the registration table was set up… strange, as registration should be at the start. When I went to the table I was asked if I was doing the 500 or 1,000 (I was there to swim 3.8K so again I was confused). I was told that they changed the race to a 500m or 1km due to the temperature of the water. My stomach dropped. Reluctantly I asked what the water temperature was. 50F. My first reaction was to laugh and say that there was no way I was getting in the water. Instead I said 500m. As I walked away I was still contemplating not doing it. I looked around, there were a lot of people that seemed like they were going to do this. I thought well if they can do it so can I. Not to mention I just drove for 2 hours to get there! This was the perfect opportunity to step into my fear.
As we were waiting for the race to start I said to the lady next to me – there are a lot of crazy people here. She looked at me in my wetsuit and said and you’re one of them, you’re going to get in the water and do it!
Ok, start time… it’s a rocky beach so we walked down to the water’s edge and waited for the start. My feet were getting wet and I thought, oh the water doesn’t feel too bad. It could be because I was only in an inch of water.
The race started. I swam the first 25m head up. After the first buoy I put my face in the water, it still didn’t feel too bad… I think this was a very real case of mind over matter. My brain was convincing my body that it wasn’t that bad. It apparently was cold as I was having a difficult time getting breathes in. I was taking breathes but the air wasn’t entering my lungs. I told myself to calm down and just breathe every stroke. By the second buoy I could breathe… good news! And then I just started doing what I do… swimming! At the half way point I was kicking myself for not doing the 1km. Then I remembered that when I made the decision I was seriously considering not doing it at all.
As I headed to the finish I actually had to take my goggles off 10m out as they were so fogged up I couldn’t see the beach (there might have even been frost on them 😉 ) I got out of the water and ran to the finish. I was so obsessed with the cold that I forgot that this was a race. When I went to the computer to check my time it said Place in Division 1st – ummmm what? There must be something wrong… No mistake, I was the first female in the wetsuit division (believe it or not yes, there was a non-wetsuit division which several people did – there are people crazier than me!)
I got called up and my picture was taken with the other 1st place swimmers and the trophy. My name will be on it and it will be forever documented that I faced my fear.
You hear a lot of people talk about fear and facing it and that’s how you grow. I have to tell ya, they’re not just making this stuff up. Yesterday, I got it. Stepping into that fear was very scary (I did not want to get in that cold water) but SO worth it. First of all, I’m proud of myself for living full out and not sitting on the beach as a spectator. Second, now that I know I can handle the cold water, I will be able to swim in the lake more often without the cold holding me back.
Face your fears – seriously it will make your life better. If I can swim in 50F water, you can do whatever scares you!
Go be epic!
A few years ago I had a dream. A client that I was working with had a team involved in a bike race across America (RAAM). 3,000 miles from California to Maryland. I followed their training, helped them fundraise, monitored the race online. I thought it was amazing. I wanted to do something like that… but not that exactly… I don’t even own a bike…
So I did some research and found Ragnar Relays. Running… something that I do!
200 miles, 2 vans, 2 days, 12 people! How fun is that? (I know some of you are thinking that it doesn’t sound fun at all, that’s ok – it’s my dream!) I was so excited about it… and then something happened. That voice in my head started talking. It told me that it was too difficult to coordinate logistically, it was to difficult to find 11 other people who would be interested, it was too difficult to get everyone to agree on one race. And so the dream just sort of faded. Actually it disappeared… I had totally forgotten about it.
Out of nowhere last week this dream came back! I got excited again, only this time way more excited. A lot has changed in my life in the past year. I have joined Warrior Coaching where we have a big focus on working towards our dreams, I have started to be very intentional about spending time with people who are successful and passionate about life, who challenge and motivate me and who truly want me to succeed. My thinking in the past year has changed from, that would be fun, to which relay should we do and let’s start planning! I am way more excited this time because I know it is going to happen.
Side note – Some of you should get ready… you’ll be getting a call soon to join me in the relay! 🙂
I saw a quote recently that said “Enjoy life now. This is not a dress rehearsal.”
Seriously – WHAT are you waiting for? Stop pushing your dreams aside. Because the reality is the dream might leave for awhile, like mine did, but if it’s truly your dream it will come back. And to be honest some dreams are scary. The really good ones are. I have one so scary that I can’t even say it out loud… yet! But once you put things in place to start working towards that dream your life changes. When you wake up in the morning you’re perspective is different, your priorities are no longer the same. Things like watching tv don’t even enter your mind because you have steps to take to move towards that dream. You don’t have time for tv (I recently cancelled my cable as I hadn’t watched it in 7 months!) The more you move towards it, the more you want it.
So what is your dream that you’ve been ignoring. What are the voices in your head telling you that you can’t do? I would love to hear what your dreams are…
Go do something EPIC today!
What started as a monthly email to family and friends to motivate them to be part of the 2014 Detroit Marathon has led me to write a blog. I guess my “blogging” days started before I knew what a blog was, maybe before they existed. In 2004 I traveled around the world and sent regular emails to family and friends sharing my journey and bringing them along virtually. As I was traveling alone it was therapeutic to write and made me feel as though everyone was there with me.
So 11 years later I am going to try my hand at real blogging…
A couple of weeks ago I was at a cottage and I did a 2km swim with a friend. She had never swum that far before. In fact her longest distance up until that point was 1km. It wasn’t predetermined how far we were going to swim, we were just going. So we had swum about 700 meters and I asked her if she wanted to go further before we turned around. She hesitated. I told her I would tow her back if she needed me to. She agreed to continue and she ROCKED it! No towing necessary! When she finished she said “I’ve never swum that far before. I had no idea that I could do that”. She had a HUGE smile on her face. I was so proud and excited for her. What an amazing feeling to complete something that you didn’t believe that you could.
This is a problem that most of us have. We get comfortable swimming 1km or running 5kms and we think that is all that we are capable of. We are in our comfort zone and we stay there.
So here I am to push you out a little. And it just has to be a little. Don’t jump from running 5K to attempting a marathon just run an extra km or an extra minute or just run to one more telephone pole, just give a little more than you did yesterday. I will “tow you back” if you need me to… but I know that you can do it!