Day 365 of 365: Done!

This morning my husband joined me for my run. As I finished the run, I recognized that my running and general cardiovascular health is so much better. I ran with ease and comfort. A year ago, I huffed and puffed through an hour long 5KM walk. It was tough. I don’t know how far I ran this morning because I wanted it to just be a fun run. And it was and it lasted around thirty minutes.

My challenge is done. It’s truly been a challenge. If it was easy, then it wouldn’t have been the right thing I was looking for. Here are a few things I’ve taken away from this.

1. Even professional athletes have a day off. And I’m not a professional athlete. Wish I was. My take home would be much better and so would my benefits package.

Being active every day is harder than you think, especially doing it for this long. I’m tired and my body is regularly sore. Not in a bad way but it necessarily good either. It’s time for some rest.

2. This is a make or break challenge. Once you get through a certain portion of it (about five months for me), there was no giving up no matter what. Some days I had to get of a flight from Munich to Toronto and then run. Once that included a connection to Thunder Bay and having my dad drop me of a couple kilometres from home so I could get my run in at 11PM EST after getting up at 4AM CET.

3. Creativity is a must and so are mini goals along the way. Trying new activities and training for a half marathon allowed me to shift my focus from not only being active every day. If I didn’t do that, I probably wouldn’t have made it through.

4. Supportive family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers is a must. My husband and parents have been amazing. My friends have been keeping tabs. Acquaintances look at you like your crazy (which is a true sanity check) and strangers throw out random support and encouragement unlike anyone else you know.

Like I said before and will probably say for the next week, in so happy it’s over.

So what happens next?

I’ve decided that 2-3 rest days per week is important, especially right now. We’ll see how it goes and then decide if that should change.

I’ve signed up for a 10KM running clinic that starts January 8th. It focuses a lot on speed training. This will be followed up with a half marathon as I’m going to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon again in October.

I’d like to take some regular yoga classes this year. I’ve done that off and on for over ten years now. I’d like to get back to it again.

As far as blogging, I’m not sure if that will continue or how frequently I’ll blog. We’ll see.

On a special note, today is my farther’s and niece’s birthdays. That’s right, my Dad and his granddaughter share the same birthday if December 31st. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BOTH OF YOU!

Thank you to everyone who has followed my Avenue of Sweat Equity journey and for reading my blog. Have safe New Years Eve night. Happy 2014!

Jen

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Day 364 of 365: One…

A year ago tonight, I sat in a restaurant with my husband and shared with him my goals for 2013.

“2013 was the year I…”

  • Settled back in Canada
  • Challenged myself to be active for 365 days
  • Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.

A year ago, we were on a work assignment in Poznan, Poland.  This assignment had us spending the majority of our time there.  As much as our time in Poland was simply amazing (my views on life and culture have been greatly broadened), it was isolating too.  Not being able to fluently speak the language has major draw backs.  It’s limiting when attending parties or even considering joining a social group.  People were so kind and helpful but once the encounter of working through the language barrier was over, I both sides were happy to go along our merry ways.

Being isolated and feeling bored was no way to live.  And I was also feeling like I was on a treadmill, going nowhere.  I needed to get focused on something, anything (other than work) to help avoid wilting away.  The building our apartment was in had a good gym and pool.  We lived in a neighbourhood near three large parks.  Being active seemed like a great option.  I could challenge myself to try different activities and it gave me something to focus on each day.  At the same time, I also wanted to be back home.  We had not lived in Canada since 2005 and when we finished up in the USA, we went right to Poland.  An exciting adventure far away from where I wanted to be.  Exciting and boring all at the same time.  2013 had to be the year that I took my life back.

Setting these goals didn’t happen overnight.  In 2008, I came up with the idea of 365 days of straight activity while reading Julie & Julia.  The idea came and went because the timing wasn’t right mostly due to a lack of real motivation.  Getting settled back in Canada was something my husband and I had been focused on since 2010.  We knew our assignment in Poland would not last through 2013 so this was the time to seize the opportunity.  Personally, I’ve been struggling with being in touch with my feelings for some years now.  (Coming out of the other side of 2013, I believe this is natural for most humans.)  Overall, it took me about a month (December 2012) or so to get pen to paper and narrow in on three huge goals.

It paid off.

Getting settled back in Canada.  My husband and I finished up our overseas work assignment at the very end of August.  We were back in Canada for Labour Day weekend.  Part of settling back in Canada included stable employment, buying a home, reconnecting with friends, and getting engaged with the community.  Our employer was very happy with the work accomplished in Poland (and with the Dutch office) along with our dedication and flexibility in working in three major manufacturing facilities.  He has now assigned us to corporate global projects and allows us to be based in Toronto, Canada.  Prior to coming back to Canada, we were searching for a condo to buy.  In October, we made an offer and it was accepted.  We are almost homeowners being that we do not close until May 2014.  Until then, we live with my husband’s parents.  (It’s everything you could possibly imagine and more.)  We see our friends all of the time and we have begun to establish ourselves in our “temporary” community and in our “upcoming” community (which also happens to be the neighbourhood we lived in prior to moving to the USA in 2005).

Challenged myself to be active for 365 days.  If you are a follower, “THANK YOU!!!!”  There are 176 of you (and over 3800 hits!) and that is something I never expected.  Being active for 365 days was something else.  The first ten days were horrible.  Actually, one, two and three were not bad.  It was really four through ten but I’ll get more into that in tomorrow’s blog post.  Blogging as part of this challenge has been a great outlet.  Isolated in Poland, this blog allowed me to share with others in a free-flowing manner.  Daily blogging was also a chore.  I had two major times this year where 1) I had to take a break for a few days and 2) I just didn’t do it regularly.  I moved past both of those phases and I’m finishing the challenge strong.

Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.  As I mentioned above, I think most everyone goes through a phase when they feel like they are on an emotional treadmill.  Sometimes you need to be there to get through.  Treadmills are boring but if you use them correctly, you are a better, stronger person when you get off them.  This past year I’ve let go of some hurt and I realized what it is that I want and why I couldn’t see that I was actually moving in the right direction even when it felt like I was going nowhere.  Being on the back-end of this goal, I thought I would be in a different place right now but I’m not and I’m okay with that because where I thought I needed to go ended not being where I needed to be.  Emotions, feelings, desires…they are all tricky but as you peel away layers the fog slowly clears out and the view gets better and better.

With 2013 about to come to a close, I’m getting ready for a big 2014.  Most of my goals this year will be broken down into multiple projects, big and small.  In writing my goals and using the statement, “2013 was the year I…” I create a mini vision and/or feeling of what it’s like when the goal is achieve.  I start to create something to move towards.  Here’s what I’ve got for 2014.  Again, it’s all going to breakdown into a bunch of big and small projects this year.

“2014 was the year I…”

  • Became a homeowner in a neighbourhood and condo that I love.
  • Took control of my weight and moved my BMI to the lower quarter of overweight.
  • Helped my family move towards where they need to be. (Yep, this one has a ton of personal content.)
  • [I haven’t filled in this blank just yet.]

Today I went to the gym in the morning and spent 45 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

Day 357 of 365: A Dedication Run

When I woke up this morning, I headed straight to the gym. I ran exactly 2.62 miles (in about 30 minutes). I specifically ran this distance to dedicate this run to my best girlfriend who will be running her first marathon on Sunday, December 29th in Jacksonville, Florida.

When I saw her in November, everything she shared with me about her training sounded great and she looked really good. And as two runners, we went to a running store together and checked out all the socks.

This Sunday will be a great day for my dear friend Sherri. I wish her all the best for she will no longer be a runner. She’ll be a marathoner.

Day 349 of 365: Shovelling – Part III

This has turned into a three part series — no joke! The snow finally stopped falling at some point early this morning. Since it started snowing, we’ve received around 30 cm or 12 inches.

When I woke just after 7:00 AM, I looked outside and saw two things…1) It stopped snowing and 2) The street plough went by on both sides of the street.

Growing up as a Canadian with plenty of neighbours, it wasn’t uncommon to clean off each others cars (including work colleagues) and/or shovel snow on their property. This held true for closest neighbours either physically or emotionally and especially true for elderly or unhealthy.

When I started to clean the snow around 7:45 AM, I could hear I was the first one outside. There were no sounds of scrapping shovels or snow blowers. All I heard was birds. It was peaceful and calm. By 8:00 AM, I heard the first of many snow blowers. I worked my way from the back of the house to the front. I shovelled the sidewalk and then tackle the gift left by the street plough. I also did this for neighbour on the right.

By 9:15 AM, I had finished and went inside for a hot shower. After getting dressed, I was looking out the front window and saw a favoured neighbour out shovelling. Not a big deal except for the fact that he has been very sick with a sinus infection and his wife just had surgery on her hand. Quickly I put my coat back on and headed across the street with my shovel. Before he could get his snow blower out, I had done 90% of his driveway and helped push out a women who was stuck. He came out to a complete surprise and it felt great. He told me that I was welcome to use his snow blower anytime, and not just to take care of his driveway. He even through in some lessons too.

Shortly there after, my husband and I were driving down the street on our way to Starbucks. Not even a half block from our house, another person got stuck in the snow. We pulled over and jumped out to help. By this time, almost everyone in the neighbourhood was out cleaning snow. So many people were helping each other, no requests needed. It was a pure joy to be part of this community.

My forearms are sore. My shoulders are tired. My mind is shutting down. I didn’t have the most restful sleep last night however I’m certain tonight will be a different story.

Day 314 of 365: Good Night

Just now I had fallen asleep in front of the fireplace. When I opened my eyes, my husband insisted that I go up to bed. I think he just wants the television to himself so he watch football. But without a doubt I do know that he just really cares.

Tonight after dinner, we went out for a walk around the neighbourhood. We walked for 35 minutes and apparently got pretty close to the lake.

Time for sleep as I’m already ticked in bed. Good night.

Day 267 of 365: Not Done Yet

Day 263 – Walking and dancing!!!
Day 264 – Yoga for Runners
Day 265 – Yoga for Runners
Day 266 – Yoga for Runners
Day 267 – Yoga for Runners

So it’s definitely been too long since I’ve run. After a 75 hour work week (counting on-site hours only), a night of fun and dancing while walking approximately 8 KM was needed. It’s been such a long time since I’ve gone dancing too. It was…well…let’s just say I’m still smiling.

A few hours after I finished dancing, I boarded my first of two flights back to Toronto. Since then it’s been jet lag recovery and lack of motivation. Not a good combo. I’ve ended everyday with my yoga for runners. It hasn’t been my proudest activity week but everyday I’ve done something.

Not blogging has left me unaccountable. Also not good. Hopefully tonight many of you will give me what I need to get back out there and running. Whether it’s a tongue lashing, butt kicking, motivational quotes or inspiring stories. Whatever you’ve got, I need. So please leave some comments. I need all the help I can get.

Day 177 of 365: It’s Done

This morning my husband and I headed down to the gym to do our really good strength training routine one last time.  It took us an hours, like it always does.  We’ve been following this routine for about 7 or 8 weeks now.  It’s been great but when we return in four weeks, I’ll have a new routine for us to follow.

All day I was pretty stressed.  (Almost cracked twice.)  Ridiculous stuff with the airline or airlines depending on how you view a code share flight.  Last minute tasks at work.  Needing to pack five suitcases worth of stuff and clothes into four.  It was so much to get done and I could not stay up all night to deal with it.  We need to get up at 3AM to catch our taxis (yes, plural…four suitcases, two carry-ons, and two personal items) for a flight that is leaving before 6AM.  Luckily a friend stopped by just after a horrible phone call and she was able to distract me for a bit.

My husband has been great.  He knows I’ve been on the verge all day.  Multiple times he has said to me, “No matter what happens, I love you.”  He’s been great taking direction and offering help.  And when I have asked for help, he’s gotten right on it exactly as I asked.  (Yes, I am a Type A slightly controlling perfectionist.)  He even made me a couple of drinks (to try to help calm my nerves) and he made dinner, like he does on most nights.  He’s amazing and I’m very lucky.

So the packing is done.  I finished about 90 minutes ago.  This is my last task for tonight aside from packing my pajamas and continuing to calm down so I can fall asleep for at least 4-5 hours.  At one point today, I was so wound up that I actually stopped mid-way down a flight of stairs realizing that my blood pressure must be ridiculous right now and that I really need to calm down.  (This was while I was leaving work this afternoon.)

Now that I’ve written about my blood pressure, I do expect my father to have his blood pressure reader out for when we arrive tomorrow but just to make sure I give you a really good idea of how strung out I was earlier today let me say this.  If I was to do this post any time before 2PM this afternoon, it would have been in ALL CAPS!

So, 6AM CET flight out of Poznan and 7:30PM EDT arrival time in Thunder Bay followed by a 3 KM run to my parents house.  Yes, it will be a 19.5 hours of airport to airport travel time.  Knowing this, I expect my post to be short tomorrow.