My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

My friend Heather

If we are lucky, we have at least a few dear friends throughout our lifetime.

If we are very lucky, we find a friend like my friend Heather.

Heather and I have not known each other long, yet it feels like we’ve known each other forever.  We met a few months ago because we work for the same person, Nick Foley.  I have been working with Nick’s company Celebrate the Hero for almost 2 years; Heather has been working with him on his non-profit Move for Inclusion.  And for the last few months, I have been working with Nick and Heather on Move for Inclusion as well.  And that’s how Heather and I met.

I have to say that I liked her immediately.  She is one of those people that always seems to be smiling, and her smile just lights up the room.  And when she walks into a room, people just seem to gravitate to her.  At least that’s how it seemed to me.

Generally, I’m a shy person.  It takes awhile for me to open up to people, to get to know them, to let them get to know me.  But every once in awhile, I meet someone that is different; someone that I just connect with.  Heather is someone like that.

It’s kind of hard to explain.  We just seemed to click.  I found it easy to talk to her.  We can talk about anything and everything.  And she seemed to actually listen to what I was saying … I mean really listen.  To be honest, that doesn’t seem to happen often enough.  I’m sure we’ve all had instances where we are talking to someone but you can tell they just aren’t really listening.  I’ve been with Heather on several occasions when she’s been talking to others, and she always seems to really listen to them.  She makes people feel like they are the most important thing in the world at that moment.  It’s really quite amazing.

Heather and I seemed to have quite a bit in common, which is always nice to find.  And we work well together too.  We are serious when we need to be, but also love to joke around and have fun.

Heather has a such a beautiful heart.  You can tell how much she cares about everyone.  She’s kind, gentle, loving, and caring.  She’s funny, fun-loving, and silly.  She’s generous with her time and attention.  And she’s very smart, too.   She’s just an all-around amazing person.  She makes the world a better place just by being in it.  And she inspires me to be a better person.

I’m happy we met.

I’m happy we work together.

But most of all, I’m happy to call her my friend.


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Pre-training ends and Training begins

I’ve spent June doing what I called pre-training. I had lost some of my base over the winter and early spring because I didn’t do that much running, and I wanted to make sure my base was solid for training.
During pre-training, I made sure to run on a variety of surfaces, like sidewalks, roads, and trails. I also incorporated some hills, going both up and down. Running downhill is an art form, which I think I do pretty well. I struggle going uphill sometimes, but I’m getting better.

I also ran with and without music. I used to need music to run, but now it’s not necessary. I still like to have it sometimes, though.

My biggest concern is fueling while running. I tested out several flavours of GU energy gels, and was pretty happy with the taste and results. I think there was only 1 flavour I didn’t really like. There are more flavours I want to try, but I haven’t had a chance to pick up more of them. I also want to try out some chews. I also tried out mini pancakes (I’m a little obsessed with pancakes LOL) and homemade energy bars. I will be trying more things throughout my training.  I want to find something that tastes good, doesn’t upset my stomach, is portable, and will give me enough energy to get me across the finish line.  I will report on how my search goes.

I also want to try different ways to stay hydrated.  I’ve tried plain water, Gatorade G2 red (fruit punch), and NUUN strawberry lemonade.  All of them work well.  I want to try more flavours of NUUN, as well as other brands.  Again, I will report on my search.

I want to try different pouches and fuel/hydration belts as well, but haven’t had a chance yet.  I do have a handheld that I really like.  It’s good for short runs, but I think I need something that can hold more for longer runs and the race.

If you have any suggestions for things to try, please let me know.  I’ll appreciate all the help I can get! 

Throughout my pre-training, I managed 19 runs of varying distances, and a few recovery walks as well.  My shortest was 3km and my longest was 8.34km.  I think I did pretty well.  And I feel like my base is solid once again.

When I decided to do my first half-marathon, I knew I’d need a plan to follow.  The funny thing about that is I’ve never followed a plan before.  I just ran.  When I was still working with my trainer, he would tell me to run, so I ran whatever distance he told me to run.  That got me through several 5K and one 10K race.  But a half marathon is different.  It’s more than double my longest race, and just under double my longest run.  That scares me a bit.  It used to terrify me, but not anymore.  

Anyway, I wanted to make sure I cross that finish line.  And that means preparation.  And, to me, that means an actual training plan.  I looked at many different ones.  Many seemed too rigid.  I wanted something more flexible because sometimes life just gets in the way.  Most were 10-12 weeks.  I didn’t think that would be enough time for me.  After a lot of search, I finally found one that seemed to have everything I needed/wanted.  It’s a 14-week plan, which seemed the perfect length.  It has me running 4 days a week, which I think is perfect.  And it seemed pretty flexible, in case I need to move things around.  It also incorporates strength training and cross training, which I think are important too.  As well, I will be doing core work and stretching.  Hopefully it will all make me a better running and help me get across the finish line.

So today is Day 1 of my training plan.  

And I must say, I’m pretty excited about getting this started! 

It starts with shorter runs than I was doing during pre-training.  Today’s run was scheduled for 3.25km, but I pushed it to 4.15km.  I might push the first few runs a bit, since I have been running farther than that already.  As long as I go at least the distance the plan calls for, I think it’s okay to go a little farther.

As my training progresses, I will do my best to post regular updates on how it’s going.

When I first decided to do this race, I was terrified, worried if I could even do it, thinking I must be crazy.  And now I’m pretty excited, especially since the official training has now started!  I’ll admit, I’m still a little scared, but I think that’s okay.

Here’s to training for my biggest goal yet! Woot woot! 


I’m not a runner like you

When I first started running, I was reluctant to call myself a runner.

I thought of runners as those who have been running most of their lives; those who have always loved running; those who run fast.

I was none of those.

This is just my third year running; I hated running as a kid; and I most certainly am not fast — there are people who walk faster than I run.

And I always thought runners looked a certain way.  They were lean and muscular and athletic-looking.  Definitely not me.

I would often watch others running and think “I’m not like them.  I’m not a real runner.”


But here’s the thing:

None of that matters.


When you start running, you’re a runner.

It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve run all your life or are just starting out.

It doesn’t matter if you run for fun or for a purpose.

It doesn’t matter if you have the latest in running gear.

All that matters if that you go out there and run.


One of the things I’ve discovered about the running community is that everyone is welcome.

It is a very inclusive community.

And I love that.

We all want to feel like we belong, that we are a part of something.

And when I started running, I found that.

I’ve met a lot of people through running; even made a few friends.  People I probably would not have met otherwise.

When you talk to another runner, you have an immediate connection.


Another thing I learned is there is no such thing as a “typical runner”.

All runners are different.

We have different paces; run different races.

We have different gear; have different rituals.

We run long, short, fast, and slow.

We run in good weather and bad; when it’s hot and when it’s cold.

Some follow plans; others just go with the flow.

But we are all part of one big family.

And we welcome new members all the time.

All you have to do is lace up your shoes and run.


In running, I found something in me I didn’t know was there; and a part of me I didn’t know was missing.  I found strength and confidence.  I discovered I’m capable of more than I knew.  I surprise myself often with what I can accomplish.

Running helps me find solutions to problems that have been nagging at me.  I’m able to clear my mind.  I can sort of zone out and just listen to my feet hit the pavement.

Running has helped me learn more about the town I live in.  It’s helped me appreciate the beauty around me.

If I’m feeling blue or stressed out, going for a run almost always makes me feel better.

There is something empowering about running.

And as much as I hated it as a kid, I actually love it now.

I’m not fast.  I’m not lean and muscular.  I’m not athletic-looking.  I’m not what other’s might think of as a “typical” runner.

So no, I’m not a runner like you … I’m a runner like me.

And that’s how it should be.



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Lessons learned from today’s run

So today is the National Day of Running.

I couldn’t participate last year because I was still recovering from the car accident.

But I was definitely going to run this year!

Today also happens to be Camp Day at Tim Horton’s.  All proceeds from coffee sales today goes to send kids to camp.  I love that.  And since I also love coffee, it seemed perfect to combine the two.

I decided to make today’s run my long run of the week.  Normally, when I run, I loop around so I end at or near my house.  That really helps with a longish run, because I’m usually pretty tired by the time I finish.  But because I was planning on stopping for coffee, I decided to throw myself out of my comfort zone.

The problem was I didn’t plan it very well.

But I learned several lessons in the process.

Here’s how it went down:

I had my breakfast and coffee, as I always do.  Then showered and put my running clothes on.  It was a beautiful day, so I opted for a bright green tank top.  Most of the time, I don’t like tank tops, but this one I love.  Anyway, after getting dressed, I sprayed on sunscreen and applied some to my face.  Then I dug out money, found my asthma inhaler, put on my sunglasses and running hat, and grabbed my house key and phone.

I headed out the door feeling good about my run.  And excited that I was trying something a little different.

I decided to run to the farthest Tim Horton’s from my house.  And I decided to take a long way around to it.  I figured I would hit about 7km by the time I got there.  Usually, I map out my runs beforehand so I know the distance, but for whatever reason I didn’t do that this time.

I realize that 7km may not seem like a lot to many people, but I’m still fairly new to running so it’s a good run for me.  And plus, I would need to get back home, so that would make it even longer.

The first 3km felt pretty good. I had to stop a couple of times for traffic, but that’s okay.  I finally got to the path along the river so I wouldn’t have to worry about traffic for a while.  I did feel myself slowing down a bit, getting a little tired, but I kept moving.

The first big problem I encountered was when I got to the park.  Much of the park has gravel paths and they are a bit hard for me to run on.  Eventually I got to where the paths are paved.  But I could feel myself getting rather fatigued.  I was walking a little more often, but I kept moving.

I made it through the park, which I knew meant I had about 1km left before I was at my destination.  I was really slowing down at this point, but just kept going.

I had to stop for traffic a couple more times.  One car ran a red light, and if I had not been paying attention or if I’d been moving a little faster, I would have been hit.

I finally made it to the Tim Horton’s and I had never been so happy to stop.  7.14km according to my Nike training app.  I was tired and a little sore.  I was also very thirsty and starving!

I had enough money for a coffee and a small sandwich, and both disappeared quickly.  Too quickly, actually.

It was a bit of struggle to get there, and as I sat there resting up a bit, I wondered how I was going to make it home.  I hadn’t really thought about that before I left my house.

So after resting a bit, and using the bathroom, I headed for home.  I was exhausted and a little shaky.  But I didn’t have any choice.  I opted to just walk home instead of trying to run more.  And I decided to take a more direct route, but staying in well travelled area in case I needed help.

After what seemed like forever, I made it home.  Even more tired and still hungry.  I ate, and drank some coconut water and a gatorade.  Then I took a shower and laid down to rest.  I woke up a couple of hours later very sore, still feeling tired, and still hungry.  And I noticed after waking up from my nap that I didn’t quite spray on enough sunscreen.

I didn’t do much the rest of the day.  And I plan on going to bed early tonight.

So this is what I learned:

1) Take something to drink. You KNOW you will need it.

2) Take something to eat. Gels, chews, energy bars/bites, whatever.  Just take something.  Again, you KNOW you will need it.

3) Make sure you are wearing enough sunscreen.

4) Make sure you have enough money to take the bus home if need be.  You never know what could happen.

5) Take your phone charger if possible, at least until you get the issue with your phone battery fixed.  And maybe even still then.  If something happens, you may need to call someone for help.

All VERY important lessons.

I just wish I hadn’t had to learn them all in one day.

It wasn’t all bad.  I did do a few things right.

1) I made sure I had my inhaler.

2) I stayed in well travelled areas.

3) I did stop and rest.

4) I put on sunscreen (although not enough).

5) I wore a hat and sunglasses.

6) I did have my phone with me (although it was nearly dead by the time I got home).

All in all, it was a good run/walk.

7.14km out and 5km back.  More than I’ve ever done in one day before.

A good way to celebrate National Running Day.


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