Back In Training: Week Eight & Nine: To the One I Love


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Now that the holiday season has passed it’s time to pick up where I left off. I have three more sessions with my trainer.

Time to introduce that ol’ love of mine running back into the mix.

The last few days on the job I’ve been jump starting all the neurons that were firing on all cylinders prior to the Christmas break. All of us at the office have been winding up slowly.

The new running clinic at The Right Shoe began this evening and it was time to get back to it. I’m feeling so much stronger than I was just three months back. I was feeling a little anxious hoping that the run would ‘feel’ good.

The rain had let up and we had a lovely cool winter evening to greet us as we assembled for our run.

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This is the start of my sixth year with this group. Let me tell you, it felt like coming home tonight. Warm greetings and hugs were exchanged. Jennifer is still running with just six weeks left in her pregnancy.

Angie was in Ontario over the holidays and Siobhan was in Montreal.

Klaus got a cold for Christmas and his wife got the flu. Not the kind of gifts one wants.

Lara, our run leader was just glowing. Always with a welcoming smile she greeted all the newbies and of course us lifers.

I’m starting back at the beginning. I’ll rebuild just as I’ve done with my core strength.

I had a fabulous run! The heaviness I was feeling in my lower abdomen before is gone now. Oh, I’ve a long way to go before I’m back to my previous performance level, but this was a huge improvement from a few months ago.

Fit 3

I chatted with a few members after our run and then I had to leave. The tears were starting to come. The sweet emotions that were washing over me, the gratitude, the joy, and just how blessed I felt in that moment.

I didn’t want people to think I was upset, as I wasn’t. I love everyone in this group.

When I first started running with them I was huge! And I was still quite introverted and a wee bit shy.

I can tell you that I felt so out of place at first. I can also tell you that my discomfort was of my own making.

Everyone in this group made it a point to encourage me to keep it up. One of the first times we went up to Eric Hamber to train on the track, it took me close to four minutes for just one lap.

Yet every time another member ran past me they offered up words of encouragement and playfully teased that I’d be running circles around them soon.

And as I got in my car tonight it struck me then. This is where the big shift in my life started. The tears fell freely now. Five years ago I joined this group to train for my first Sun Run and crossing that finish line opened a whole new world to me

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I had choices revealed on that day that had always just been wishful thinking and was challenged to make them a reality. And I am.

Peace.

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Anatomy of a Race


The awardI had just awarded his medal to him and offered congratulations and he gave me a hug.

I’ve seen running in a whole new light.

I had volunteered to assist in awarding the medals to the incoming runners this year. There were two shifts.  I was on the second shift and had all the marathoners that came through.

I was delighted that I was able to place Lara’s medal on her person.  She is our run leader at The Right Shoe, where I train and a huge inspiration for me personally.  Her time was 3:16:11.

Fabulous!

What surprised me was how emotional the day was.  Perhaps because I ran the BMO Vancouver 1/2 Marathon last year at this time.  Perhaps it’s because I am a runner that I connected so deeply with so many of the runners.

I had a woman approach me crying.  I put the medal over her head and congratulated her.  “Could I get a hug?” she sobbed.

I folded her in my arms and just held her while she sobbed for a good minute.  I had tears in my eyes when I released her.  She smiled and said ‘Thank you.’

And I get it.

I understand intimately the emotional connection to running.  I totally get the emotions that run through you upon completion.

This was her moment and I was fortunate enough to share in it, however briefly.

I slipped the medal over this tall fella.  He just swept me up and gave me a giant bear hug.  I laughed, congratulating him then said “Go on and take care of those muscles.  Have a nice long soak.”

“Can I take you home with me?” he grinned back.

“You really are delirious, aren’t you?” I chuckled.

“Hell yeah!” Then he slipped away.

I saw people staggering over the finish line.  Saw the pain on the runners’ faces as their muscles began to seize up.  Saw the joy and the elation.  Saw some of them collapse. Medics moved swiftly to get them into a wheelchair and care for them.  I saw people swagger on rubber legs with spent expressions on their faces.

And this triggered so many emotions in me.

A year ago I was crossing the finish line oblivious to almost everything around me.  That moment of completion and the absolute joy that ran through me as I moved along on legs that were reminiscent of Gumby.

And how many did I see today that were reduced to tears?  It was a humbling and profound to be at this end of the spectrum.

I left my wig in the car.  It was raining, a drizzly kind of day.  I got good and wet but just fed off the energy.  My face was exhausted from smiling so much.

And each time someone fell into my arms or swooped me up, I was overcome with emotion.

I know the psychological battle that ensues during the course of a long run.  Your legs will feel as if cement blocks are forming on the feet.  Every muscle will begin to scream at you in serious protest.

But the mind will insist that you carry on.  You’ll dig down deeper and deeper.  You’ll become transcendent to some degree as the world around you fades at times.  Everything hurts but you’ll maintain your posture having had this drilled into you.  In fact you may very well give the appearance that what you are doing is effortless.

It is one of the most challenging thing you’ll ever do.

And you will learn more about yourself in these moments than in any other circumstance in your life.

I truly believe this.

For three and a half hours I offered up the medals and plastic sheets for the runners to wrap themselves in.  The rain could easily rob an exhausted runner and cause even more pain for a too rapid cool down.

My admiration and respect for the runners increased as the day progressed.  For everyone who ran this day, there was a story behind it.  There was a motive, passion, a need and desire to do this thing.

And when the finish line is breached, most surrendered to the euphoria and ache that greeted them.

Some gazed at pace watches wanting to have bested a previous run.  Some uttered expletives as disappointment was etched on their face realizing they had not succeeded.

Ah yes!  The forbidding clock!

For the time we subject our bodies to the agony and ecstasy of the race the clock pushes us forward.

I needed to take a break and headed into the hotel.  More than five hours had now passed since the start of the race.  We had been incredibly busy awarding the medals but now the stream of runners had thinned out.

I only had 20 minutes left on my shift but called it a day.  I had begun my shift an hour early.

All the volunteers were getting so caught up in the moment and this just made me smile.

I was tired, cold and quite hungry.

My daughter was heading over to meet me for lunch then we were going to head back and checkout her new place.

I had a great time yesterday.

Again I have been blessed as I experienced the fragility and strength of being human and the drive to succeed.

Why do we do this?

Our reasons abound as well.

To all the runners out there, congratulations!

 

At the Finish Line Through My Eyes


Sun Run 2014

 

This is what approximately 45,000 people looks like.

Yesterday I completed my 5th Sun Run.  I didn’t go into this looking for a fantastic time.  In the next few years I will set a few goals.  I would like to come in under an hour at least once in this lifetime and this is doable.  My best time in this run was 1:03 two years back.

Men

 

Banana

 

Eye Candy & a Potassium rich fruit

I have been recovering and the process has been slow.  I am rebuilding.

My daughter and I had a great discussion about the psychology of running yesterday afternoon.  My girl finished the race in 58 minutes.

She’s never done a 1/2 marathon but is considering it so she asked me about my experience last year as I trained and then ran it.

I told her that if you want to find out about yourself, train for a 1/2 marathon and keep a journal.  Your goals for wanting to do it will certainly be a different when you finish the race.  I told her about the race itself, how many emotions I experienced.

At times I would have a steady pace going and I’d just be in a trance like state.  I love it when I am in the ‘zone’.  I had a knot in my calf muscle that made the run a bit more of a challenge.

There were points in the race where I seriously questioned why I was doing this thing.  At times in my delirium I was chastising and condemning all that I was doing only to follow the line of though with positive re-inforcement.

As each kilometer slipped behind me it came down to dogged determination.

The single thought ‘I can do this.  I am doing this.  I will finish this.’

Okay, maybe that’s more than one thought but that became the focus as the legs began to feel like rubber and the body emptied itself of all the fluids it ever held yet still I was ringing out ever pour and the body was parched and wanting.

The final leg of the 1/2 Marathon is along Pender Street.  The last kilometer you can see the finish line.  And man, at times it seemed elusive.  I dug down a little deeper as people called out my name ‘Go Nancy!’

And I wondered how they knew my name forgetting that it was printed on my bib.

A weird smile that may have appeared as more of grimace graced my lips.  I dug down a little deeper.

‘You’re almost there.’ I assured myself.

The last 50 metres I felt as if I was running through quick sand.  And you know the funny thing is that as soon as I crossed the finish line last year, a rush of energy infused me and I felt a rebirth.

It is a remarkable thing to experience.

This year as I approached the finish line of the Sun Run I thought of how far I’ve come in the last 5 years since I began running again.  It has changed my life, literally.  It has saved my life, literally.

Several times yesterday I moments where tears pushed forward.

When I was running across the Burrard St. bridge I was reminded of the first run with my running clinic back in February 2010.  That I continued on with the program really is remarkable to me and what I’ve learned about self is that when I make up my mind to do something….when I make that committment…you’ll be hardpressed to try and persuade me otherwise.

And five years ago I had excessive weight still on my person and yesterday I knew that I would be able to shed the pounds accumulated during treatment.

It’s time to refocus.  Time to rebuild.  Time to carry on and live.

CosumesSpiderman

 

Comics!

Milestones!


This Sunday, April 27, 2014 I will be participating in my fifth Sun Run.

The Sun Run is a 10 KM run event  in Vancouver, BC.  It is the largest 10 KM run in North America as it typically attracts approximately 50,000 participants.

My world changed dramatically after completing my first Sun Run.  I’ve said it before and often and will say it again…running has literally saved my life.

The doors that have opened since crossing the finish line the first time, the change that has occurred in my person has been quite remarkable.

And I am humbled and blessed to still be able to get out there and do the damn thing.

I have included a link to Marathon Photos that document finishing the race last year.  They also have some video clips.  I look like Big Bird and I have the sign if you want to check it out.  You really cannot miss me.

Three weeks after this race I ran the BMO 1/2 Marathon.  I think I was in denial when first I saw these photos as I’d really become bloated at this point.  This is what I looked like just prior to being diagnosed with Uterine Cancer.

And I knew there was something not right but when you begin the process of diagnosis, your head won’t let you go to that dark place of ‘What if….?’

Two weeks prior to the events of last years Sun Run I had been given a medication to ‘soften’ my cervix for some tests that needed to be done.

I ended up having contractions as a result.  Not fun.  Not fun at all.

Last year at this time I was feeling a little beat up.

This year I’ve gone through the battle and won.  I’ve got the scars which are mending and I am rebuilding.

As I run this year it will be a reminder to me of the good fortune I’ve been blessed with in finding these ailments before they became a major threat.  It will reinforce the beauty of movement and allow me to honour my health and wellbeing.

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Below is a photo taken when I was invited to participate in The Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay.  Truly, it was a huge honour.  A few months ago I received an invitation to share my story.  I am attaching the letter requesting participation and Renee’s response to my submission.

In my submission I included the final chapter of my book as my experience with the relay is noted in there.  I was brought close to tears by Renee’s response.

This year the Sun Run will be a celebration.  I will be picking up my run package this afternoon after work.  Look for me a the finish line.  Cheers!

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Dear Nancy,

Rick Hansen and his Foundation team are working on a new initiative to encourage Canadians to become Difference Makers. And we need your help!

Will you share your story of how someone (including you) reached out and made a difference?

Someone facing a life challenge perhaps. Or going out of their way to help someone in need.

As a medal bearer during the Rick Hansen 25th Anniverary Relay, you know how people can have a positive impact on others.

Reply to this email by April 15th. All stories are confidential. If your story is one that Foundation would like to share, we’ll only do so with your permission.

Nancy, thank you again for all you do. Take pride in knowing that you are a Difference Maker!

Renee Eaton
Director, Community Giving
Rick Hansen Foundation
1-800-213-2131

 Dear Nancy,

Please excuse the delay in my reply. I was on vacation and then off sick with the flu.

 Thank you so so much for sharing your story. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to read about your journey and honoured by your honesty and courage. Our Difference Makers team will find your thoughts and observations so valuable to this new initiative. Especially the following, directly copied from your submission:

What a humbling experience this was.  I walked amongst giants that day and met the man in motion himself.  I realized we all make a difference but it is up to us what kind of difference we make in the human experience and how much of difference as well.   

And through my trials I now emerge simply as woman.  There are no barriers, no restraints.  This is who I am. ‘ 

 Thank you for writing so beautifully about difference making. The Foundation team is lucky to have you on our team.

Sincerely,

Renee Eaton

Firing up the Neurons…


free_your_mind-1920x1200The brain is back!  Yes, I am beginning to function in the relative term of normalcy once more.  It no longer takes me 10 minutes to figure out a joke!  I am back and able to discern and comprehend the jest within 5 minutes once again.  Yay!  And I can actually hold a thought longer than a nanosecond.

For the last four months I was feeling rather intimidated.  This head of mine that can hold and process a boat load of information with fabulous recall was failing.  I read articles that stated chemotherapy could affect the short term memory. The article pointed out as well that in some cases this could be permanent.

This really scared me.

As my memory seemingly evaporated at times, particularly when I was working or writing, I began to feel incredibly vulnerable.  What would happen if this ‘side-effect’ remained?

The brain is of course a muscle in many ways and needs to be exercised just as the rest of the body does.  And like the rest of my body the grey matter suffered during treatment.

December 4th was my last radiation treatment.  Over the last couple of weeks I feel as i though I am awakening from a long slumber.  I am a little achy yet but the energy is rushing through me, feeding every nerve ending and firing up the neurons.

On Saturday I did my first Yoga class in about six weeks.  On Sunday I went for my first run in over a month as well. And, oh, to just move again.  To feel the crisp morning air cool the body, to feel the motion of the body and the breath as it moves throughout.

I’ve got my work cut out for me to get back in shape but to still be able to do all of these things is truly a blessing for me.

I’ll take the weight off that accumulated during surgery and the subsequent treatment.

And I’ll continue to exercise this brain of mine.  Get it back in tip top condition.  With the new year now upon us, I’ve a book to release.  Gotta brush up on my photography and I’ve decided to take up hand drumming.

I am on the hunt for a Djembe drum.

A few years ago while I was practicing my Yoga from Prana Yoga College, I took a hand drumming class.  Pepe Danza and his wife Shakti Mha were the owners of Prana.

Pepe is a well-known percussionist.  He offered weekly group lessons and I decided to try it out.

After that one class it got into my blood and its been there ever since.  Of course, at the time I told myself I would take drumming up when I could find the time.  Now I tell myself, if you want this you’ll make the time.  And I want it.

When I think back to that class something was stirred deep within me. It was primal, exciting and the energy was electrifying.  I worked up one hell of sweat.  Didn’t have a clue what was happening to me but loved every moment.

The vibrations from the drum positioned between the legs just moved through my core. I had that odd sensation that I done this my entire life.

My focus will be on perfecting the things I am most passionate about.  I really want to work on not getting side tracked as so often happens.  I’ve a curious mind and if something catches my attention, often I am swayed to check it out.  That is not to say I shouldn’t but I need to just become a bit more disciplined in certain areas.

It feels good to be coming out of the storm relatively intact.

May the ebb and flow of the year ahead be a bit calmer.

Peace.

Radioactive


So far the worst thing about radiation therapy has been preparing for it.  Any effects have been mild.  I become incredibly sleepy in the afternoon to the point that I drift off for about 10-15 minutes. It can’t be helped.  Mild headaches and some minor muscle pain about sums up the effects thus far.

I am fine after these waves of fatigue hit me and the mild muscle discomfort passes quickly as well.

Last Saturday my Yoga class was intense.  I seldom had to break pose and in fact, I believe I only did this twice.  The focus was on core and this is one of the main areas that I am working to build back up.  It felt really good.

I am running again.  Last week was my first week back at the clinic.  I received a lot of hugs welcoming me back.  At the end of the run, as I departed, tears pressed forward as the emotions washed over me.

Running has indeed saved my life on a couple of occasions now.  I truly believe this. It has given me a freedom, an  odd rebirth in a way.  When I took up this activity again the doors that began to open just blew me away.  And this continues to be the case.

In another week I will be adding my Friday morning run back into the mix.  You have no idea how much I am looking forward to this.

A couple of weeks ago when I ran my 5 KM route that I typically do on Friday mornings, it was truly a spiritual replenishment of sorts.  I felt welcomed by the trees that line the route, by the earth beneath my feet, and by the very air that enveloped me.

It was an affirmation that I am healing.  Yes, the body still protests when first I push it to move in this manner.  The protest is short-lived, however, as the body warms then embraces the run.  The presence of the horse is with me always, encouraging and challenging my efforts.

The gift of movement is such a blessing, the gift of health is the icing on the cake.  To still have the strength that I do as the physical body is assaulted beyond the norm leaves me humbled and oh, so grateful.

I will continue to nurture the body, the mind, the spirit, the heart and the soul of my being.

Tonight after work I will be joining my running group again.  The old familiars are coming back into the fold.  Life is returning to some semblance of my ‘normal’.

And its good to be on track in this manner.

Enjoy your day.

Namaste.

 

It Starts Here


I woke this Sunday to a beautiful fall morning.  A brilliant blue sky had emerged from behind iron grey clouds that cast the lower mainland in a torrential downfall pretty much all day yesterday.  I decided today would be my return to running.

I did a yoga class yesterday that was pretty intense and while I haven’t been to the gym as often as I would like, I’m getting there.

My toes are still a little numb.  The sensation is minimal though.  This would be a walk/run in any case.  I have only run twice in the 4 1/2 months since the surgery.  I am all set up for the radiation treatments which will be starting in a couple of weeks.

I just want all of this to be done.  There has been an odd impatience as of late.

I’ve noted lately is that I have begun to feel rather irritable with all the poking and prodding.  Oh, you need more blood?  Oh, you need to put another mega needle in me?  Oh, you need to poke about my vagina a bit more?

My daughter smiled the other day at my rant about the nurses being unable to find my veins, but it can be frustrating.  I have deep veins that are small also known as ‘rollers’.  I make it a point to tell this to anyone who is going to attempt to draw blood out of me.  There is a huge ‘ick’ factor to having someone put a needle in you then begin to probe with said needle to find the vein they thought was there as it seemingly just disappears.

I shouldn’t complain and usually I don’t.  I think the fatigue experienced and the challenge to stay focused has worn on me a bit.

So this morning I thought I would try the feet out.  See if they were up for it.  They were.  I’ve got my work cut out though.  My core has lost a lot of strength.  This makes sense though considering that I had surgery and couldn’t do anything for a couple months afterward.

Still I had some really good long stretches where I ran it out for a good kilometer or more.  I did the 5 KM route and it took me about 45 minutes. Not too bad at all.

I want to put together a workout regiment now that will focus on core strength and losing this additional 20 lbs. that accumulated over the past few months.

I have missed running.  It felt good on the two long stretches that I got in.  Yes, the lower back and hips are tight but damn, despite the pain, I love the movement.  I know it will get better and better.  I’ll get stronger.  In a way I am starting over, but the difference this time is I know where this will take me.

I got my submission in for the CBC Short Story Contest.  Worked really hard on it.  At 1,500 words it is a challenge to tell a story in such a short span.  And in fact, you can’t really tell a story but rather share an event in a story.  The non-fiction portion will begin December 1st and I’ll enter that as well.  Might as well.  It is a good exercise.

Then we have NaNoWriMo this month.  I will give it a shot unofficially.  I’ve got the new book that I am working on and I am five chapters in.  So I am going to check my word count which I think is about 20,000 words and see if by the end of November I can have 70,000 plus words.  That would see the first draft at 75% complete.

I am just going to fight to get back on track to where I was prior to this whole cancer thing.  It feels longer than five months that I have been sucked in and consumed with all of this. And I just want it to be done.

Still, I am elated that I can introduce running back into the equation.

Enjoy your day.