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 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 164 of 365: Planning The Next 12 Weeks

On October 20, 2013, I’ll be running my third half marathon.  It the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon.  (There’s a full marathon too but that’s not my plan.)  The last time I ran a half was ten years ago so I’m excited to take on this challenge.  This half marathon is in 19 weeks.  My online half marathon clinic has begun and I am now following a training plan for this event.  It’s an 18 week training plan so I’m repeating the first couple weeks which is great because I have a little extra time to focus on pace and try to figure out my goal time.  Right now it’s somewhere between 2:00 and 2:15.

In the next 12 weeks, I’ll be travelling…a lot.  Here’s a brief overview of where I’ll be and the order the travel will be in.  Currently, I’m in Poland.  Starting June 27th I’ll fly to Thunder Bay followed by Burlington, Toronto, Poland, The Netherlands, Poland and then finally back to the Toronto area by the first week of September.  These next 12 weeks are going to fly by.

With my focus shifting to half marathon training, I’m going to be running 4-5 times per week leaving two days for strength training.  I don’t want to give this up.  It’s important to me.  I suspect on the weeks where I run only four days, I’ll substitute in a yoga video or extra strength training.

The day I travel to Thunder Bay will be a lengthy day.  Flight from overseas lands in Toronto around 2:30 PM.  Clear customs, get bag, and check back in for my connecting flight to Thunder Bay at 5:40PM to land around 7:45 PM.    So, how on a day when I need to catch my first flight before 6:00 AM will I be able to fit in some activity?  Well, here’s the plan.  I’m going to change into my runner gear at the Toronto airport.  Once in Thunder Bay, I’m going to have my dad drop me off 2.5 KM from my parents home so that I can run!  Yep, I’m going to run to my parents and through their neighbourhood to get my training run in for that day.  Crazy?  Maybe.  Doable?  Absolutely.  I’m a lady on a mission who has a plan.

This morning I woke up at 6:00 AM to get my training run in.  A 3 KM tempo run in 18:06.  During my last kilometer, I was going too fast and had to remind myself that I’m training, not racing.  My last kilometer was about 20 seconds faster than my first two.  After work today, I went for a Thai massage.  My body really, really appreciated this.  Right now, I’m feeling pretty good.

Day 161 of 365: Nine Years

After sleeping in this morning, I woke up and decided not to run but instead to do a strength routine in my hotel room. It was the same as a couple of days ago (calf raises, leg raises, plies, push ups, tricep dips, donkey kicks, etc.). It was a quick and sweaty 25 minutes.

Today my husband and I are celebrating our nine year wedding anniversary. We went out for breakfast in Victoria Street near Grassmarket and for dinner we will go for some pizza on Garbary Street in Poznan. Yes, that means our little holiday is coming to an end.

Nine years has gone by quickly. It has contained many adventures, both positive and negative. At times it’s been easy and hard. Throughout the years, we’ve always taken time to laugh, reminisce, and talk. We are very much in love and we are very good at driving each other nuts.

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Day 148 of 365: 36 Years Later

Thirty-six years ago today, my parents were married.  Through ups and downs, adventurous children, active grandchild and fun daughter and son in-laws, they have always continued to be in love.  They hold hands, share kisses, and dances in the living room.  Above all else, they always, and I mean ALWAYS tell each other “I love you.”  When I was around twelve years old, I asked my mom why they always say I love you and give each other a kiss before one leaves.  She replied, “It’s because you don’t always know if you will see the other person again.”

My brother and I were very lucky to grow up in a home that has been filled with lots and lots of love.  My brother’s marriage and my marriage are strong reflections of what we have learned from these two amazing people who have always been in love.

Congratulations Mom & Dad!

Congratulations Mom & Dad!

 

Today, my husband and I ran for 37:20.  We don’t know the distance and we didn’t plan a route.  We just went out and had some fun.  We even ran some sprints just to shake things up!