Saturday, April 12, 2014

In my head and in my heart...

I took up running late last summer, and it's been great! I was asked by my run club to speak about my journey and my inspirations. Here's a bit of my speech:

My running, honestly, started because a couple of work colleagues, whom I respect greatly are runners. Back in January of 2013, I embarked on a bit of an exercise mission - with the end goal to get in shape. Started very low impact with swimming (which I have a history with, so it was easy for me) and moved into swimming + the gym (weights and treadmill). I've been a treadmill runner since I first started going to a gym, but aside from playing soccer I really didn't run anywhere except on a treadmill. In speaking with my colleague, I decided to give running outdoors a go. So, in April of 2013 off I went. And it was bad... really bad. :) Legs-like-jello-lungs-about-to-explode bad. I turned to a colleague who told me not to get discouraged and to keep at it – it'll come. So, I persisted and continued intermittently throughout May, June and July. It really didn't get any better: it felt like a chore and I didn't feel like I was achieving anything. My Type-A personality was frustrated. I couldn't break 6k – couldn't do it. And I wanted to get to 10. The recommendation was to join a run club. The choice was between two – the Running Room and the Brooklin Run Club. And, as I've heard a number speakers say over the past few weeks,  "I'm inherently lazy", so the proximity of the Brooklin Run Club was the deciding factor.

August 6th was the first clinic, and I so clearly remember it. I showed up early, and nothing was ready, people just milling around. Sheree was talking about some vegan conference, and I immediately thought, "Oh dear God, these are not my people – this is not the right fit for me." The first Saturday, I wasn't on the group email so when I got to the studio everyone had already left. I had just caught the tail end of Wendy and Monty going up Way St., so I set out. I caught up with them, and the rest is pretty much history.

That day, I think we did 7k, and it wasn't as hard as I'd thought it would be – and I'll explain why shortly. The following weekend, I couldn't make it because of a work function in Ottawa – but that Sunday morning, along the Rideau Canal, with my work colleague, I finished 10k. I was ecstatic.

So, from August to December, I continued to train, and I ran three races – a local 5k, the Terry Fox 10k, the 10k goal race, Angus Glen. Since then, I've completed the Chilly Half in early March and Around the Bay 30k in late March!

One of the questions I asked early on in the clinic was, "How do you stay motivated to keep running when your the clinic ends, through this weather, or when your race is over?" Sheree's response was a personal one, and it was simply "book your next race." So with that advice in mind, I've already booked my 2014 spring, summer and fall races – a 10k, two halfs, a 30k and my first full marathon in November! I can't wait!

So, this talk was about inspiration, and I wanted to wrap it up neatly because, as I wrote my 10th version of this speech, I needed to narrow it down to something memorable. My inspiration comes from two places: me and you (this clinic).

From me: Running is now my head and in my heart. When I learned how to do it properly, it quickly went form being a grudge activity to the best medicine in the world. I have a fairly stressful job, long hours, with a moderate amount of reputational risk. Since I started running, anxiety levels are basically non-existent. And should anxiety start creeping in, I know that a run will wipe it away instantly. I won't talk too much about the physical benefits – we all know those – but Sheree's emails about prioritizing "you" and loving "yourself". Yah, after pouring my heart and soul into my kids and my job for four years, I needed to start prioritizing myself and I've seen amazing mental and physical benefits from that.

And from you/this clinic: I'd mentioned the first Saturday run, in August, and how we did 7k and it wasn't that bad. It's was about the people. About running with a group. It's that easy. I still struggle to run on my own; but when I'm with a group, there's nothing to it.

And I can't speak highly enough about the pacers this club uses.

Russ was my first(!), and hopefully he'll come back at some point, but I'm still in touch with regularly for advice and inspiration.

Nicole, you got me through the first really crappy winter run – I even have a photo to commemorate.

Christine, I need to buy you dinner or something. :) You got me to Around The Bay. That 28K in the middle of March, where I think I was literally gasping for air for the last 4k, you just keep talking to me, positive as ever, and I finished.

Gary, you got me through Around The Bay, which I don't think I could've done without you. I had planned to run it alone, but you were there for me, and it was amazing.

I cannot recommend enough to use your pacers and your run leaders. Ask questions, get their advice. It's priceless. Honestly, I wish we could create a database of it. Knowing very little about running, I was a sponge for anything that could help me improve and their advice has shaped how I run... the runner I am.

I hadn't anticipated such a community when I joined the Brooklin Run Club, but that's what I got. And that's what I needed in my life. It's the fun/social stuff when things are good, and that beacon when things get foggy or difficult.

So, remember where I started from? "Oh dear God, these are not my people – this is not the right fit for me." Yah, no... the fit is absolutely perfect. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Re-living ICE Week

I had an amazing opportunity this past week to go back to university! My university. :)

One of our product offerings was the subject case for the BBA program Integrated Case Exercise (ICE) week.

This is a pretty neat feature of Laurier's BBA program. All 3rd year classes are cancelled and the students are put into random groups and handed a real-world business problem to solve. The case is delivered on a Thursday afternoon and they have until the following Tuesday to provide a written report; presentations follow and then it's narrowed down to the semi's and then the finalists. The exhausted finalists then get to present their plan to the organization that is having the issue. Eighty cases were narrowed down to four, and we saw those today.

The students' ideas, professionalism and energy were amazing. It was really nice to see it from the other side, too.

Now to reminisce... the school is a lot older than I remember it. But, I do remember it... all the little hallways, shortcuts, nooks and crannies. Even though some of the fixtures have changed (i.e. the Second Cup in the concourse is now a full-blown Starbucks - woot!), it felt very familiar and comfortable.

University was definitely one of the best times of my life. People look at me, almost, with a hint of pathetic-ism when I say that. But, for me university was a place where I was with a group of people that were the same age, had the same goals (academic & social), the same drive, faced the same challenges and shared the same victories. I didn't realize how unique that experience was until I left.

I'm very proud that it was one of the best times of my life... and feel lucky to have had the opportunity to experience it.

(And, in typical Laurier "it's a small world" fashion... I bumped into someone from my graduating class at the school today, there to judge a different case competition. Great little reunion.)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Seasons: Corporate Version

I've had WAY too much time to think about winter this year. In looking for additional ways to throw shade its way, I ended up giving it a personality. The rest of the seasons just wrote themselves.

Winter: Old Man Winter (OMW), the disgruntled, drag-everyone-down employee that just won't go away. Not relevant, not wanted, not respected but will not leave without a legacy. And no one will tell him to get the f*ck out because he's about to retire. You know... at one point, there was a good feeling about OMW, but he's simply burned too many bridges.

Spring!: The perky newbie, full of life and fresh ideas. The exclamation point is actually part of her name. Lots of energy, just trying to find her place. Sporadic glimpses of brilliance, social butterfly, speaks up in meetings only to get shot down by OMW. But, her energy, coupled with the fact people are rebelling against OMW means that *maybe* she'll get her shot, and he'll move his retirement up a few weeks.

Summer: The back-from-mat-leave, already-pregnant-again 30-something. Lacking sleep, lacking empathy, lacking any moral filter. If she's not having a hot flash, she's having a cold flash, sprinkled with random floods of unexpected crying fits. Nickname: Stormy.

Fall: Summer is about ready to go off on mat leave in a few weeks -- oops, her water broke. That was fast.

Winter: Oh, look...he's back on contract. *sigh*