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

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 363 of 365: Two…

My dear friend Sherri completed her first marathon today. She ran the last five miles in a downpour but still managed a 4:35 finish.

Congrats Girl! You owned no matter how much Mother Nature tried to interfere!

After tonight, I only have two more blog entries for the 365 day challenge. Tomorrow’s blog will be about 2014 goals. Tuesday’s blog will be a reflection on this challenge. (Between you and me, I’m really happy that it’s almost done but have little to no energy to be excited.)

Tonight my husband and I went for a thirty minute walk after dinner and then I spent a bit of time stretching. We’ve both agreed to go to the gym together in the morning. I need a good sweat!

Day 361 of 365: Four…

Day 358 – 30 Minutes Elliptical
Day 359 – Runner’s Yoga & Stretching
Day 360 – Runner’s Yoga & Stretching
Day 361 – 46 Minutes Elliptical

You would think that after 350+ days of this challenge which includes blogging that I would rarely forget to blog. Well, I forgot to blog for two days in a row!

Christmas did get the better of me. I was so caught up in all things Christmassy that did two nights in a row I went to bed without blogging. Christmas Day was the worst though. As I got ready for bed, I realized I hadn’t done any activity for the day. Could you imagine coming this far and missing Day 360!?! You should have seen the looks in mine and my husband’s face.

Aside from the above, Christmas was great! Christmas Eve was also great! Boxing Day was not very good but got better at night.

Today I finished knitting a baby sweater for two of our closest friends. Baby boy James will be five months old on December 31st. As always, I like to knit the 6-12 month size. I think it optimizes the growth and wear time.

With only four days left, I’m not sure what my activity will be tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be beautiful. Maybe I’ll go for a run outside. Maybe not.

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 338 of 365: The Holidays Are Coming…

  • Day 331 – 4.5 Hours Walking at Show
  • Day 332 – 20 Minutes TriAngle, 30 Minutes Elliptical
  • Day 333 – Yoga for Runners (plus a few other stretches)
  • Day 334 – Yoga & Stretching
  • Day 335 – 15 Minute Run on Treadmill, 33 Minutes Elliptical – Intervals
  • Day 336 – 45 Minutes Hill Walking on Treadmill – 3-10% Inclines
  • Day 337 – 65 Minutes Elliptical – Random
  • Day 338 – 30 Minutes Walk Through Neighbourhood

As I write this post, SNL Christmas is on the television and just earlier tonight, my husband and I walked around the neighbourhood not only to be active but to also check out the Christmas lights.  My shopping is almost done and most of the my Christmas cards will be in the mail by the end of the week.  This really means that the only thing left to do is enjoy the season and celebrate.  For me, this is the best way to celebrate the holidays.  (Okay – So we still need to mail some gifts and hang some Christmas lights in the tree outside but that’s nothing.)

As I logged my activity above, I originally came out to be at Day 336 however, there are only 27 days left in the year so something is off.  I suspect that between international travel and the fact that my blog post time is based on Central European Time since I created this blog while in Poland, that these reasons would point to where the count is off.  (When this blog posts tonight, it will show tomorrow’s date.)  I’m also at fault for not continuing to blog every day as I originally committed to do. 

So I’m down to 27 days.  Yes, that is less than one month.  On the last day of this challenge, I’ll be participating in a 5 KM run on December 31st.  It’s the Running Room’s annual event.  I’m really focused on just getting through this month and then taking a day off from being active.  Recently, I’ve been enjoying the gym a lot but going three days in a row is taking its toll on my mind and body.  By the third day I’m dreading it and I am genuinely tired.  To top this off, I have tendonitis in my right shoulder and have started to go to physiotherapy.  This is limiting what I’m able to do right now.  Really it’s just a lot of cardio and some mid to lower body strength work.

Soon it will be 2014 and I have yet to set any goals for next year.  I haven’t even had any luck brainstorming potential ideas.  Last year, my 2013 goals came to me pretty late in December but they were huge and I’ve been successful with them.  If you haven’t started to set some goals for yourself, don’t hesitate to.  Try completing the following sentence.  Fill in what sounds desirable to you.

  • 2014 was the year that I…

Day 294 of 365: Yesterday I Ran A Half Marathon

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, today’s post would be the sensationalized version of my half marathon.  Here it is…

It started on Saturday when we went to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon expo to pick up my race kit.  My tote bag include my bib, some goodies, and a bunch of flyers and coupons.  My husband came with me and we spent the more close to three hours at the expo.  It was a fun way to kick off the weekend before heading to Chinatown for lunch and then to our hotel.  We chilled at the hotel all night except to step out for dinner.  Very relaxing. 

When I woke up on Sunday, I was feeling good but very quickly my anxiety level start to climb.  It was not good.  As we walked over to the start (about ten minutes away from our hotel) it got worse and as soon as I started to see all the people, I became very emotional.  We were there 45 minutes before the start and I did not relax until five minutes before my corral started.  Everything that was going on was so overwhelming. 

So there were six starting corrals and they released one every five minutes.  It was really well spaced out.  Here’s a picture of me in a sea of 20,000 runners.  Actually at this point it was probably closer to 18,000 people or so. 

I'm the one in the white hat.

I’m the one in the white hat.

Once we got going, I was still wound up but really calmed down 5K into the 21.1 KM.  Around 6-7 KM, I saw my husband again on the side of the road.  He was there to cheer me on.  It was great to see him.

The run was starting to go well.  I trained to run 10 minutes, walk one minute.  I followed that plan, not running too fast, not getting caught up in what other runners were doing.  Sticking to the plan gave me confidence and helped removed any doubt I was feeling.

Before I knew it, I was approaching kilometer marker 17.  What a great feeling.  With just over 4 KM to go, I was getting exciting and feeling really proud.  Walking through the Gatorade and water stations really paid off.  The hardest part was the end of the race.  When they post signs saying, “500m to go,” “400m to go,” “300m to go,” 200, 100…this last 500m seemed so long.  There were kilometers that seemed shorted. 

Right near the end I looked for my husband and found him.  He saw me too and snapped this great picture of me.  My main goal for this half marathon was to finish strong and I think when you look at this picture, you can see I accomplished that. 

Approaching the Finish

My second goal was to finish under 2:15.  That didn’t happen.  Instead my time was 2:26:45 but I’ll be okay with it eventually.  And I’m now really focused on improving that time next year.

When all was said and done my feet were really sore but I was happy.  I love my medal however made sure not to show it off to too many strangers today.

Happy Moment STWM

I need a little break from running but more importantly from training for a race.  Right now I’m registered for the Running Room’s Resolution Run on December 31st (what a great way to finish this challenge) and then for a hilly 5K race in April 5th (Harry’s Spring Run Off).  For the remainder of the year, I’m going to refocus on strength training and building back some muscle I’ve lost while being focused on training for the half.

Tonight, my husband and I went for a 30 minute walk.  I’m also going to be doing some more stretching tonight.

Foil & Medal