Dear Katy Perry (an invitation from 8-year old Isabelle)

This is a guest post by my daughter, Isabelle. This is a letter she sent recently to Katy Perry.  We’re posting the letter here as part of our efforts to reach Katy. If anyone out there reading this knows Katy, all help would be appreciated in getting this message to her!

*****

Hi Katy,

My name is Isabelle. I’m 8 years old. I live in Calgary, Canada.

I am going to your concert in Calgary on August 29th with my mom. I can’t wait. I know most of your songs. My favourites are Hot ‘n Cold, Roar and Firework.

As you will be in Calgary anyway (and the Edmonton concert is not until August 31), I want to invite you to a family party we’re having at our house on Saturday August 30th. It’s my Granny and Granddad’s 50th Wedding Anniversary party.

My uncle, Michael Dowse (the famous movie director who made FUBAR, Goon, It’s All Gone Pete Tong, What if/The F-Word) will also be there from Montreal, with my Auntie Jennifer and my cousins Wilson and Charlotte.

We are going to eat awesome mac ‘n cheese and ribs. And we’re going to have a giant Skor Bar chocolate cake, big enough for 35 people! But there will be only 14 people at the party, so there will be plenty for you to have some (and your friends if you feel like bringing some)! If you bring a friend, there’s still enough cake for everyone to have 2 slices. 2 slices!!

Would you like to come to the party?

Our address is XXX XXX XXXX [insert from Isabelle's mom: address blacked out here; but Katy, if reading, send me a note via this blog or twitter and I'll send you our address!] Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  You can come by any time after 4:00 p.m. We’ll be there.

Seriously.You should come. I mean, like seriously. The cake will be AWESOME, and I’d love to meet you and introduce you to my Granny and Granddad and Uncle Mike, who are also very awesome. Wait until you see my Granddad’s dance moves! And my dad’s.

Ok. Hope you can make it. Seriously.

From,

Isabelle Valiquette

p.s.  Our email is XXXX. Our phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX [Isabelle's mom again; Katy, please respond or see direct letter sent for details].

p.p.s. Me and my sister (Sophie, who is 5) are your biggest  fans!

The original letter...!

The original letter…!

 

katy perry letter 5

Call me.

 

p.p.p.s. Hi Katy, this is Isabelle’s mom again. I have checked with Isabelle’s Granddad about you attending the party. He’s down with it.

A Good Ride

I left the campsite at 1:20 p.m. The afternoon sky sparkled blue behind the mountains. The sun felt hot. It had sprinkled rain earlier in the day as we walked through the wooded trails by the creek. But it looked all clear now.

A perfect afternoon for a ride.

It was about 29 or 30 km from the campground along Highway 40 to the intersection with the TransCanada Highway. I’d arranged with my husband to meet me at the Casino at the highways’ edge. There’d be plenty of room for him to pull in with the camper. From there, we’d cruise on home together.

“I should be there by 2:30,” I guestimated. Not sure of the highway grade, perhaps that was an optimistic estimate. No matter. Give or take five or ten minutes, it felt about right.

So as my husband and kids headed off around the campsite for one last wander, I pedalled out to the highway.

Making a left turn across traffic, I cruised east along the highway. Traffic wasn’t busy; a lucky break for the dwindling hours of a long weekend. I settled into the comfort of the wide shoulder.

The first while was slightly rolling. My legs warmed up and found their rhythm. As I rode, I gazed at the forest and up at the geological marvel that are the mountains of Kananaskis country. I gulped in the opportunity to propel myself through this moment, these surroundings.

About 7 or 8 minutes passed before I saw a sign indicating 23 km to the highway. My bike computer broken, I still wasn’t sure of the exact distance I would travel. My elapsed time, my pace, my energy output? No clue. I’d left my heart rate monitor at home.

Just ride, Susan. Just ride.

Up ahead I could see the skies darkening. A distant thunder rumbled. A few minutes later, I felt the first drops of rain.

kananaskis ride

The highway ebbed and flowed. After a good downhill stretch, the first real incline came. My gears bottomed out. I sat up and loosened my grip on the handlebars. And pushed. My legs burned. But I knew the strength and power would come. Strength and power are always there, lurking just below the burn.

The sprinkles turned to a steady rain. The sky closed in. The rain eventually turned to sheets, bouncing off the highway. Each passing vehicle sent an extra wall of water into my path. Despite the hail spiking on my skin, my body felt warm. But I felt alone and unguarded in the grey mist, with vehicles hurtling by. My pace quickened.

Up ahead, a big hill. I’ve learned that hills always look worse in their approach. And there’s never anything you can do except keep pedalling.  I dropped my gears and buckled down.

Within a minute the grade forced me off my seat. There was no other option but to stand and climb. There never is. Stand and climb, baby, climb. I could hear myself panting, a guttural sigh escaping with each outward breath as I moved myself up the mountain.  At some point there are no more tactics. It all comes down to legs and lungs.

At the top of the climb, I stopped to let the panting subside. The rain was coming at me sideways. I could hear my drenched socks squelching in my shoes. My glasses were fogged. I watched the water stream from the crook of my elbows. Despite the highway traffic and moving water, all I could hear was my breath.

I started pedalling again. A tentative downhill. Easy does it. Downhill always makes me nervous.

Eventually the rain eased up. I passed a sign saying 7 km to the main highway. Shouldn’t be long now. Shouldn’t be long.

Around the last bend, I could see the Casino in the distance. A few blue patches were breaking through the clouds.

I glanced at my watch. It was 2:27. A moment later, I pulled into the parking lot. The rain had also stopped. Or perhaps I’d simply moved through it.

Another moment later I saw my husband pulling in off the highway. Perfect timing. I hopped into the camper and changed out of my soaked gear. Within another few moments we were moving again.

In the warm truck, my hair wet and skin tight and dry, my body tingled with gratitude.  Music played as our girls sang in the back seat. We turned back out on the highway, heading for home.

It was a good ride.

 

A new type of workout

I hadn’t been to “the gym” in years.

Apart from when I travel and use hotel facilities, my last foray to “the gym” was in 2011.

But this week it felt like time.

It felt like time to leave my solitary home gym (i.e., a corner of our basement) and my typically solitary workouts.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that little space in the basement. It has brought me hours of quiet joy and satisfaction over the last five years. There have been many moments of insight and quiet clarity of mind, in the wee hours of the morning as my family sleeps. In ways, it – and the sidewalk - have been my places of meditation and worship; of returning to the centre. And carrying the sense of self-care and accomplishment that comes each day from an early morning home workout has helped me in more ways than I consciously know.

It has also been proof that you don’t need much to have a great workout out. It can happen pretty much anywhere. Anytime.

But it just felt like time to do something different.

It felt like time to drive five minutes down the road to the local GoodLife Fitness.

To throw a few things in a gym bag.

It felt like time to enter a sports-oriented space and be with other living, breathing, sweating people. To walk among them. To see the whites of their eyes. To interact, even just subtly. A brief exchange in the locker room. A quick “can I rep in?” with someone at the pull-down machine. Simple stuff.

I didn’t really have a plan of what to do at “the gym”.

There’s no new program I’m following. In fact, one could argue that be being there didn’t make sense in the context that I’m preparing for a triathlon in a few weeks.

Don’t care. I’d had a great bike/run workout the previous day. And things don’t always have to make sense. Or be part of something. They just need to feel right.

And it just felt like time to insert different energy into my routine.

So I went to a group class. I did a bunch of mixed martial arts moves to music for an hour. It was great fun and a serious sweat-fest. And it made me feel like some sort of George St-Pierre Ninja warrior.

Then I wandered out into the free weight area.

I stood there for a minute or two, getting my bearings and formulating a workout plan in my mind.

Then I continued to have the best upper-body workout I’ve had in a long while.

I found myself working harder than usual. I picked up heavier weights. I did more exercise variations. I was able to check my form in the mirror and make adjustments. The moving and working out part was all very familiar, but the surroundings somehow changed things. Was I inspired by others working hard around me? Was it the lure of different equipment and options to explore?

I’m not sure. And I’m not sure it matters.

I left two hours later.

As a passed by the desk on my way out, the young lady who’d given me the orientation when I’d arrived said “How was your workout?”

“Great,” I said. “Really great.”

“Will we see you tomorrow?” she said.

“Yeah,” I said. “I’ll see you tomorrow”.

Zico! (Bless You)

I’m no food blogger, but I’m into food.

I think a lot about food. I eat a lot of food. I am on a never-ending journey to figure out how best to eat for me. To find the way that will give me energy, fuel my sports and workouts, keep me relatively lean and give me joy.

Occasionally I get an opportunity to try a new type of food. I’ve heard a lot about coconut water, but I’ve never paid attention to it (though my husband occasionally drinks it). But I like the idea of it. I’ve read about athletes using it during races or workouts as a natural alternative to those sports/energy drinks that are essentially sugar and food colouring.

So I was pretty pumped when this arrived in the mail from the good people at Zico.

photo 1

We love the popsicle making kit!! Our experiment went like this…

photo 5

 

photo 3

The results were great! A way better alternative for the kids than boxed fudgsicles. And look at me all making up recipes. It made me feel a little like Martha Stewart. However, the neighbour kid declared them too “banana-y”. Seriously, neighbour kid, don’t kill my buzz. I am a culinary genius. That is the story I’m sticking with.

And the girls loved the chocolate stuff straight up. Go figure. Add a little cocoa and extra sugar and anything is glorious. But, hey, that’s basically the way of the universe.

photo 4

Thank you Zico!! Three cheers for healthy alternatives and fun new foods.

We now return to our regular programming.

 

Triathlon, Soccer Tournaments, and Picking up Garbage

Yesterday I did a triathlon. I feel super great about it. Mostly because I simply did it.

This summer was starting to feel a bit like a re-do of last summer’s less than stellar triathlon season.

Last summer’s triathlon season went like this: I did no triathlons.

It’s sort of a unique approach to “doing triathlon”. You run, bike and swim a lot for practice. You sign up for two races that you back out of. One because your work schedule gets overwhelming and you can’t get away (sucks, but that’s life). And the other because your daughter is doing her first triathlon during the same event and the timing of my heat would not have me back in time to be there for my daughter (most awesome reason I can think of; read about it here). And then finally you get organized for a final race in August. You plan a whole family vacation around it. But you leave registering too late and miss the cut off. So you sob a little in front of the computer during the attempt at registration. But you go to race anyway, in course of family vacation, to watch and cheer. And you sneak in your own bike ride early that morning around Kelowna in the spirit of the whole damn thing. Because that’s really the point anyway. To move.

So this summer I was hoping things would be a little different. Because I sort of love the race atmosphere. I love the throngs of people doing their thing, as best as they possibly can.

But the first race mid-June didn’t happen to due same reason #1 as last year. I had a brief moment of worry that the universe was conspiring against me again.

But no. I listened a little more carefully to the universe and the message was different.

So I found another race. Because, well, damn it, because.  It was an hour from home. No excuses. We’ll be out, race done, and home for lunch, I figured.

Well, the race (yesterday) turned out to be the same day as my daughter’s year end soccer tournament. And because I’d left all my league volunteer commitments to the very end, I also had to volunteer at the tournament.

So you know what happened? Schedules got messy. Things didn’t quite go perfectly. But they went.

I got up early and went off, by myself, to my triathlon. No family, no friends. Didn’t see anybody I knew. It was cold, grey and very windy.

I raced. Quietly and with myself. My transitions were clunky. Mostly because I haven’t done a real one in almost two years. It took me two bobs to get out of the pool. Two swings to get my helmet on my head. Way too long to get my arm warmers on. Two attempts to get my pedals clipped. I got the weird ab cramp that I often get when I pulled off my bike shoes, and I had sit down to get my running shoes on. But when I actually got moving, I went as fast as I could. I even found some energy for a wild, ugly sprint at the end. I love the wild, ugly sprint at the end. I love it in everyone. It’s that brief flash of something mystical, when people realize they have more than they thought.

And when I was done, I immediately got in my car and drove back to Calgary. I went straight to the tournament and caught my daughter’s second game. She was awesome. She has improved so much over the season. Then I went straight to my volunteer stint.  Because what I really wanted to do for the next several hours was walk the soccer fields and pick up garbage and then take down soccer goal posts and nets. I was still in my post-race gear. I hadn’t brushed my hair. I hadn’t eaten a proper meal.

A random day in June

A random day in June

And when I finally got home, and after I’d showered and eaten, I checked the race results.  I came first in my age-group and third for women overall. I am super proud of that. It doesn’t matter that is was a small race. It doesn’t matter that no-one was there to watch me. It doesn’t matter that I could have gone faster. And it doesn’t matter that race results don’t matter. To me, it matters that I did it. And that it was fun for me. And mostly because it made me feel alive.

Growing Up Tri

My article about my daughter’s first (and potentially last…) triathlon experience is the May/June 2014 edition of IMPACT Magazine, on newsstands now.

It looks like this…

And it goes something like this…

“Mom, I want to do a triathlon,” Isabelle announced last spring.  She was six.   Her friend had come to school with race numbers on her calves and a medal.

This was Isabelle’s first declaration of a sports goal.  The idea made my heart jump with joy.

You see, I am on a stealth mission to instill a love of sport and movement in my two young daughters.  I see this as a core tenant of parenting, in the category “keep child well” along with shelter, traffic safety, and non-slip footwear.   But I know that as parents all we can do is suggest, support and role-model.  Our kids have to find their own ways into sports they enjoy.

There was one small problem with Isabelle’s announcement.  She couldn’t ride a bike.  Or swim.   Two fairly important things in triathlon.  A covert training strategy was required.

One week at bike camp last summer was all it took to finally ditch the training wheels.  This was followed by a lot of riding in circles around our cul-de-sac.  We also had a brick-like training technique called “drop bike in heap and run wildly down street until dramatic collapse from exhaustion occurs”.

Swimming took a little longer.  But after eight weeks of lessons this spring, the breakthrough occurred.  Isabelle could now swim a few laps of the pool, using various strokes including a curious side-stroke/front crawl hybrid and an oddly fast splash-less dog-paddle.  She also vastly improved her springboard cannonball technique.

She was as ready as she could be.

The big event was June 22, 2013 in Strathmore, Alberta.  The triathlon for under-8s was one pool length, 0.8 km bike, and 0.25 km run.  The whole thing should take about 10 minutes.  Though a little nervous at the start, Isabelle splash-less dog-paddled one spectacular length.   She peddled off on her bike, roaring back three minutes later.  As I waved her off on the run, the smile on her face said it all.  I positioned myself before the finish, turning briefly to find my husband who was keeping our 4-year old occupied.  I saw him behind the finish line with the camera.  I looked back to the road, expecting to see Isabelle running toward her moment of sports glory.

She was nowhere in sight.

It took a few minutes to register, through the flurry of kids all wearing the same purple t-shirts, that she was gone.  I searched the transition area.  My husband jogged out on the route and surrounding area, coming back empty handed.  Minutes ticked by.  Eventually I declared a mini-amber alert.  The announcer started calling her name over the loud-speaker.  Race organizers got on walkie-talkies.  A cast of race volunteers ran back out on the course with my husband.  I waited anxiously at the finish line with our 4-year old, worst case scenarios playing out in my mind.

About 20 minutes passed before my phone rang.

“We’ve got her!!”

Moments later, Isabelle and her dad came into sight.  She crossed the finish line in tears.  She wanted to go home, declaring she hated triathlon.

Slowly, the story emerged.  No-one stopped her at the kids’ turn around point.  She followed the signs for the adult course, eventually running out along the highway.

“I passed a lake,” she said.  “I stopped at the table and got some water. I was so tired I felt like crying.”

“How did you know to eventually turn around?” I asked gently.

“I came to a sign that said ‘turn around here’.  So I turned around.”  Makes sense.

I had this heartbreaking image of her running alone along the highway.  Like Terry Fox.  Except totally bewildered.  Another part of me was fighting proud.  Turns out, when push comes to shove, the girl can run.  We told her what an amazing thing she’d done, how she’d practically run the adult race.  We talked about how slip-ups are part of the game, mentioning her dad’s penchant for taking wrong turns in mountain bike races.  And the time I had to be rescued by the canoe during an open water triathlon. She didn’t want to talk about it.  She was exhausted and embarrassed.  We had to let it go.

The next day, someone noticed the race numbers on her arm.

“I did a triathlon yesterday,” she said, shyly, when asked.

“Wow!” said the asker.  “How did it go?”

I winced, knowing it meant recounting the experience.

“Mom,” she whispered.  “Tell the story of how I ran the adult race.”

Isabelle's Triathlon (52)

 

In transition...

In transition…

 

Isabelle's Triathlon (60)

A Parent’s Morning Triumph

Some days the little details of parenting can be overwhelming.

Some days things get forgotten, like library books and school forms.

Sometimes lunch kits end up in the wrong back pack.

Sometimes you forget that you’re supposed to bring tools, protective eyewear, and something to actually “deconstruct” to the Grade 3 After School Deconstruction Club on Tuesdays. (Listen, it was Lunchtime Running Club last Tuesday too; we were focused on remembering to wear appropriate outdoor footwear for running.)

And sometimes you forget to bring the vitamins in the car, which results in a quick but very powerful flood of tears from a certain 5-year old during the 2.5 minutes drive to school. This helps get the day off to a nice relaxing start.

Then there is the occasional day that everything clicks. And you feel like you’re doing ok. And you have to take a brief moment to bask in your achievement.

These are the things that went right this morning.

- “Fun Lunch” forms filled in. One on-line; the other on paper, with appropriate cash attached.

- Kindergarten library book found and put in (correct) backpack. “Late slip” from last week triumphantly scrunched up and tossed.

- Plastic giraffe located an inserted into (correct) backpack for Kindergarten “Letter G Day”.

- Extra lunch bag for Grade 3′er found, after delicate inquiry about WHERE ALL THE OTHER LUNCH KITS HAVE GONE and gentle reminder to PLEASE CHECK THE LOST AND FOUND AT  SCHOOL.

- Grade 3 library books found and put into (correct) backpack. “Late slip” from last week triumphantly scrunched up and tossed.

- Piano books put in bag and placed by front door, so not forgotten when Kindergartener gets picked up at lunch and dropped off to her day-home where she also takes piano lessons.

- Confirmed dentist appointment for Grade 3′er this afternoon at 5:30. Which is right after her 4:30 piano lesson. And right before her 6:30 soccer game. Which, by the way, I am counting on being cancelled. Due to the foot of snow that fell here over the weekend.

- Grade 3′er’s  “Construction Project” packed up in garbage bag and ready to go (note: not same thing as “Deconstruction Club; emphasis on putting together, opposed to taking apart). You should see the awesome bridge she and her dad built together over the weekend. It’s massive and totally cool.

- Wild sprint to get Kindergartener from our parking spot down the hill to her school door in time, and then back up the hill to the car to help Grade 3er bring her large Construction Project through a different door on the opposite end of the school and into her classroom before bell rang.  The unplanned workout was totally worth it to see the smile of pride on her face, as her classmates ooh’ed and ahh’ed over her bridge.

So I will enjoy this brief interlude of reflection and satisfaction, before I jump into my work. And before it’s brought to my attention later something that I’m sure I forgot.

You see, in parenting – as in life - you take the good moments when you can. And you celebrate.

And I will not let it bother me that I could not, for the life of me, find my car keys this morning. I swear to God I had them yesterday. I’m mean, I’m sitting here and my car is in the driveway, so they have got to be in this house.

And, by the way, where’s the salt shaker? Seriously, yesterday the salt shaker disappeared somewhere in our kitchen. I’ve looked everywhere. It’s gone. How is that even possible?

 

 

Unsinkable

I’m fascinated by peoples’ “whys” of fitness? What drives people to go new distances or push through discomfort achieve personal bests in sports? There’s a kernel of energy, it seems, buzzing though certain people’s blood.  It keeps them digging deeper. Moving. Pursuing. What is that thing? I never tire of stories of people who have it, and the stories of how it manifests in their lives.

Enter Silken Laumann’s memoir Unsinkable: My Untold Story.

unsinkable-by-silken-laumann

Photo courtesy of HarperCollinsCanada

Most Canadians of a certain age have heard of Laumann. She is a Canadian single scull Olympic rower famous for winning a bronze medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, only 10 weeks after a freak boating accident that tore apart her leg and broke her ankle. The book’s hauntingly beautiful cover reminds us of that.

There was something about her story that struck a chord across the nation and the globe.  I don’t know who won the gold medal in that race. And I’d forgotten (until I read the book) that the Canadian’s men’s eights team won rowing gold in the same Olympics. But I remember Silken. Her Olympic story of finding strength and focus against seemingly insurmountable odds translates to all of us. Not that we all seek to be Olympic rowers. But stories like hers give us all permission to believe, in relation to whatever obstacles or desires we face: maybe I could do that too.

So I couldn’t wait to dive into the book and read the detail of her tragedy-to-glory Olympic tale.

But the book, it turns out, isn’t like that.

The book starts with a relatively quick and matter-of-fact re-cap of the accident, the recovery, and the Olympic triumph. As I read, I waited for the but how exactly?, the magical insight. There were snippets. She writes briefly about moments of surrendering, tapping into a greater power, a deeper energy – both in relation to her physical recovery and the final surge of that race. But I couldn’t help sensing there was more to tell. That an untold narrative lurked just beneath her words.

Eventually I let go of the story I had expected and settled into the story that was told.  This isn’t a book of secrets about what drives amazing athletes.  Laumann holds onto that secret, as she has every right to. This is the story of her life.

Laumann weaves us through various chapters of her experiences thus far. She writes (ultimately forgivingly) about a challenging childhood with a tyrannical, plate-smashing mother who eventually abandoned her family. She writes of an eating disorder as a young woman and periods of self-abuse by way of cutting. She also writes about the solace and release of spirit she found in early athletic endeavours, first with running and ultimately in rowing. She writes about dissolving a marriage, the challenges and rewards of parenting, and ultimately building a new life for her and her children with her current partner and his children. And learning to build a relationship with and step-parent a child with autism. She writes about the power of friendship, honouring the friends who have been with her through it all.

Unsinkable is the memoir of a whole and complex women, who happens to excel at rowing. It is the story of a woman who wants to heard and understood. Kind of like we all do. I enjoyed the book in a quieter, simpler way than I was expecting. It left me wanting to have a coffee with Laumann, and dig deeper in how it all really went down.  That race, the eating disorder and journey to body acceptance, the moments of rage, the marriage. There could be more books in her. Several more.

My favourite part of Unsinkable came right at the end. In the postscript, she writes of recently visiting Lake Banyoles in Spain, where she won that famous medal…”a moment frozen in time and the moment people think of when they think of me“. She borrowed a boat from the local rowing club and took it out on the water, alone. She walks us through the emotional and vivid remembering of her experience there, her telling of the remembering more powerful than the front-end telling of the event itself.

LAUMANN  BRONZE

Photo source

The moment we all remember

The moment we all remember

Photo source: www.silkenlaumann.com

Then she writes:

“Sport is a great illustrator of the power of the mind, the body, the emotions and the role of grace. I am lucky to have experienced all those in the right measure, at the right time. More importantly, I am grateful that I did not become stuck there, that I moved on to other very special moments, in other very special places, with other very special people…We are not defined by one event, however spectacular or difficult.”

In the end, the book reminded me that sport is never really about just the sport. And athletes are never just athletes. It also reminded me that for some people, sport is a form of self-expression. It is a way – through physical movement of, and sensation in, the body — to be lead to the present moment. And in such moments, it allows for fleeting instants of authenticity, power, joy…and for certain people…Olympic greatness.

******

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for providing me a copy of Unsinkable: My Untold Story to read and review. I was not compensated for this review. The opinions and musings above are my own.

 

 

 

 

When What You’re Already Doing Is Enough

I just had an article published in a little magazine out of Ottawa called Healthy Smile!

(That’s their exclamation mark, not mine. It’s an essential part of the name. You know, just like P!nk).

Smile Magazine Article

I wrote the piece on New Years day. I was pondering health and fitness goals for the year, but realized I have none. And that I’m good with that. In fact, right now I love that.  It’s a re-hash of this blog post from spring of last year.

The article goes like this.

*****

It’s January 1, 2014.  Along with the rest of mankind, I’m pondering fitness and health goals for the year to come.

Against the good advice of most fitness experts, I’m moving away from specific goals this year.  Experts say be detailed when it comes to fitness resolutions: I will work out three times per week.  I will eat four vegetable servings per day. I will complete a 10 K race.

I understand that detailed approach. But here’s the thing.

Sometimes there is too much detail.  Sometimes the list gets too long.  Sometimes with all the “I wills” and “I musts” a girl gets exhausted.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to stop doing so much. 

In recent years, I have felt compelled to set goals around my workouts.  Complete a certain fitness program. Enter this or that competition. Train for this or that race. Always pushing for more. It’s never enough, it seems, to just move and sweat, to enjoy the feeling of being alive.

But somewhere in the middle of last year I realized something simple yet profound.  What I’m already doing is enough. My varied early morning workouts are enough. I needed to stop adding more things to do.  I’m good…right here.

It was May 2013. I was deep in a work project that was taking up a huge amount of time. I had signed up for an out of town triathlon in early June.  It’s a race my husband and I often go to for a weekend with a group of friends. It’s typically great fun.

But do you know what I did a week after I signed up for the triathlon?

I quit the triathlon.

I had one of those life moments when reality hits.  One of those moments when the to-do list and the self-imposed pressure comes crashing in.  Do you know those moments? And instead of sleeping, I found myself awake at 4:30 in the morning worrying about all the things I need to do in the next month.  I had two big work deadlines the week after the race.  I needed to get “real” rides in, but my bike was still hanging from the roof of the garage.  I needed to get to the pool more.  I needed to practice on open water.  I needed to rent a wetsuit.  I had two weeks of work travel between then and the race (which meant no bike and no pool).  It also meant a lot of time away from my kids.

Nothing earth-shattering; it was just my version of the life-list that everyone has.

Through all this… work, training, life…I also needed to sleep and rest.  I needed to not be awake hyperventilating in my kitchen at 4:30 in the morning.

So after a tearful conversation with my husband (which I’m sure he really appreciated at 5:00 a.m.), I quit the triathlon.

Immediately I was flooded with relief.  The entry fee already paid didn’t matter. Our portion of the cost of the condo rented for triathlon weekend didn’t matter. What mattered was the balance; the ever-tentative, teetering life balance.  There would be other triathlons at better times for me.  Actually, it wouldn’t matter if there wasn’t another triathlon.  The road, the pool and my bike are always there.  The point is to simply use them…and to feel the rush and enjoyment of my body strong and in motion.

So do you know what I did right after the tearful 5:00 a.m. conversation, as my breathing calmed and I physically felt the pressure lift?

I slipped on my running shoes. I stepped outside into my quiet neighbourhood.  It was just starting to rain.

And I ran.

Because I could, and because I wanted to.

And it was enough.

*****

P.S. I figure March 10th is as good a day as any to check in on people’s new year’s fitness resolutions. Did you set any? How are they going?

P.P.S. I’m getting a huge kick out of the fact that my name is on the cover of the magazine, right along side the great fitness/clean-eating guru Tosca Reno, who also was a contributor. I bow to the fabulous and fit 54-year old Tosca.

Tosca, call me.

Tosca, call me.

Announcing the Sears Pure NRG Athletics Giveaway Winners!

It’s as exciting as Christmas…!

As nail-biting as the Oscars…!

As thrilling as Canada v. Great Britain men’s Olympic curling match…!

It’s time to announce the THREE winners of the Sears Canada Pure NRG Athletics give-away!

[sounds of thunderous applause]

A theoretical Ed McMahon is approaching three people’s door steps right now (well, he’ll go one house at a time).

Ed McMahon with cheque

Image source

The TV crew behind is behind him.

Ed is holding the big cheque (i.e., a $50 Sears Canada Gift Certificate).

He straightens his tie. The make-up crew powders his nose and sprays his hair. Someone gives him a quick blast of breath freshener (for good measure).

The production team falls back.  A hush falls over the team.

Lights. Cameras rolling.

Ed takes a deep breath. He breaks into his winning, made-for-TV smile. And reaches in for the doorbell.

This is it.

And the winners are:

  • Sandra B
  • Tracee
  • Tamara
And the crowd goes wild.

And the crowd goes wild.

Image source

Contest Winners

Thanks to everyone who commented and entered!

Sandra B, Tracee, Tamara – I will be in touch with the details. Congratulations and enjoy your new Pure NRG gear from Sears Canada!