Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

Hello, walker February 10, 2013

Filed under: life,Run — wakingupincanada @ 10:14 am
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A lady sits across the cafe, and her long sleeved cotton t-shirt reads, “Running is Cheaper Than Therapy”. I smile, longingly. I agree; the roads and paths and trails and beaches that I have run on are strewn with my issues, worries and concerns and I picked up instead humour and perspective and peace.My hip is sore and it has been 2 weeks and 3 days since my last run and I miss him, my run. I miss my out of breath-ness and my rhythm, my focus and my time out. I miss him, my therapy called Runner.

I walk now. I need to do something, it doesn’t hurt (much), and it gets me moving. I am trying the slower pace of life. I have to work harder to stay focused or I lose speed and then I am just dandering around the countryside. I only like dandering around the countryside when I’ve planned to, and I don’t plan to. Not as an intention, I am not sitting here thinking, I will never dander around. Simply, it is something I don’t make plans to do. Perhaps it would be nice to.

In my 4 walks, I have managed to knock almost one minute of my mile, quite an achievement but not really, it’s more about oiling the wheels and remembering to push it, and now a runner with her blue headband comes in, purchases a coffee, or a green tea to go, and leaves.

I am sure there is a lesson in this. “Life is not meant to be run through” perhaps, or “slow down and savour the journey”. Perhaps it is simply, “Do not run 8 miles on a Saturday when you have barely done 8 miles in the past 2 weeks”. That, though, isn’t likely to make it on wall hangings or fridge magnets, but it should: more practical. Maybe it is, “Even when you can’t do it all, do some”

So I am a walker now. It is more empowering that injured runner. He is not quite the therapist my runner was, but maybe we will become friends.


To Remember To Run January 14, 2012

Filed under: Run — wakingupincanada @ 10:28 am
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I had a plan. I stayed up with the girls watching Bridesmaids, and drinking yet another bottle of wine, cringing more than laughing. This I thought would earn me a long lie in to prepare me for a long, long day and night ahead.

I awoke early, and instead of lying in darkness, I decided to do it: get up and run. Oddly, I didn’t need much talking to. The devil inside me must have been sleeping of the hangover. The snow was falling as I stepped gingerly over our ice-packed footpath and Banff was waking up, people making their way to work, heads down against the snow. The clouds were on us and all was white. In my luminous yellow jacket, I turned to face Tunnel Mountain and ran.

I was at the top of the hill when I remembered. I know that I love running, but sometimes I know with my mind and not with my heart. The weather is no excuse; on the occasions I venture out, I have no trouble with the ice or the cold or the snow. Yet, my running days have been few and far between.

At the turn around point, I kept going, one foot in front of the other, pulling up by butt, pulling in my stomach and sending my shoulders down my back. I followed the rhythm the snow and patches of ice allowed. I fell and got up and ran on. Falling reminds me that running is a kids game, enjoy it, be playful. I smiled.

I looked around, out through the trees over the valley. I saw the river far below, frozen. The forest went on for miles and miles. The mountain tops were not visible anymore. Running is my reset button. It brings my body and soul in line. It wakes every muscle up and they like it. When I run, I feel more like me that at any other time.

I said a thankyou. For the view, for the run, and for the nudge early this morning to remember to run.


Snow-running December 10, 2011

Filed under: Run — wakingupincanada @ 8:47 pm

I’ve spoken to quite a few people about running in snow. I’ve read magazines and googled it. I’ve paid attention to the footpath and wondered what shape the trails have been in. I’ve sprinted on the treadmill in the gym for my 30 minute maximum period allowed on the treadmill.

Today, I just did it. I pulled on my thermals and my hat and gloves and headed out. I paid attention to the ground and shortened my stride a little. I was deliberate in my footsteps. Along the dual carriageway, there is a footpath, now indistinguishable from the grass, just all white. I ran over and back, just like on the beach, trying to find the most solid footing. I breathed every so often through my collar to warm the breath in my lungs. I found my stride. In trying to keep my footing, my mind was completely on where I was. Surrounded by the white mountains and the solid trees and the cold wind, I loved.

So yes, you can run in the snow and ice. Carefully, but running.


Doing it better November 9, 2011

Filed under: Run,Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 7:38 am
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I am thinking about my run today. How long? Where? How fast? I remember the morning run I would do on Fridays at home. I loved that run, a 4 mile loop of the town, and I chose it because it was the only area that had any traffic at that time of the morning. People were friendlier. One morning, I helped an older lady cross the road. She was on her way to the hospital and we talked. She lifted my mood for the day and inspired my soul to kindness.  There were mornings I would head out in the dark and meet the sunrise en route.  Sometimes I ran alone, sometimes with my run buddy JK. It was the best way to start the day. I’d be home in 45 minutes and the idea that it was less than an hour helped me out in the morning.

It was the “easy run” of the week, 2 miles downhill, just under one mile flat and the rest uphill. We joked that we wouldn’t bother putting on our trainers for 3 miles. The 5 mile route we did in the evenings, that was the standard.

Here, my runs are sometimes 5 miles, and often are 3. 8 has been the furthest. 3 has not become the easy run because I run it hard, trying to find a speed I’ve never had before. I have not become lazier or busier. I’m actually faster, as my Winterstart Race on Saturday proved to the world and my sister. It strikes me that all that has happened is a change of perspective. I think what I am realising is that further is not better, that there are more than 2 ways of skinning a cat, and a change is as good as a holiday.

There are many clichés thrown in there. My point is though, sometimes we compare what we are doing now to what we did before. We think we should do more. We forget to wonder if we can do better.

We are always told we should mix up old routines to keep our bodies and minds working. I thought this meant going heavier, faster, longer.

Today, I am going to see if I can just do it better.


Winterstart November 6, 2011

Filed under: Run — wakingupincanada @ 5:29 am

My lungs were burning as I rounded the corner onto Marmot Crescent. I knew my watch was nearing the 50 minute mark. I had to push it harder. There it was. The finish line. I hit stop on the timing mats. 48.29.80. Tears came to my eyes.  I’d done it. I’d beaten my goal.

It had started with me well wrapped up at 7pm in around -7 temperatures among the throng. Only a little of our faces were visible. There were so many people we had to wait a while after the countdown before we were over the start-line and then we were off. It was another half mile before we got to the good part: running in the dark with the glow-sticks. After a mile, I felt a stitch. I heard my yoga instructo’s advice in my head; “Ask yourself, Can I make more space for myself?” I pulled in my core muscles and immediately the pain subsided. Everytime I let go, and felt the stitich again, she would speak and I would tighten.

Running up Tunnel Mountain was beautiful, the moon shone down upon us. I fought for breath but the scene was breathtaking. As the leaders ran past us downhill, we cheered. As we passed the walkers, they cheered. As we met the volunteers, we all cheered. Somehow, in the dark, we were all equal, all running buddies. Nobody could see what you were wearing or how red your cheeks were. Ladies, it didn’t matter if you had waxed your legs or not. Nobody knew under the layers of insulation. Only running mattered. Maybe a mile from the end, I  came upon a girl and a man I assume is her Dad. I was utterly amazed at this child, pushing it this hard and she inspired me to push harder. What a wonderful kid!

Somehow, tonight, I did not let myself off easily. I always upped it, just a little bit, then a little bit more. A group were cheering as we came under street lights again.  Then I heard “It’s Kellie”, “Go Kellie” “Yeaaaaahhhhhhhhh”. There was nobody else it could be but the guys from Lululemons’ RunClub. I had to push it harder just like I strained to keep up with Becky on my first run with the Club 8 weeks ago. I could feel my lungs bursting but my legs felt strong. I reminded myself that at the end I wanted to feel spent, exhausted. I didn’t want to jump over the line this time. I wanted my energy for the road. I got what I wanted. The tears were warm and welcome. I’d done it. I’d set an ambitious goal, and I’d exceeded it, doing it my way. Maybe I rested before I was meant to. Maybe I’d done faster sprints for shorter spurts. I ran 5 miles in 9 mins 42 seconds a mile. It may mean nothing to anyone, but to me, it is success.

I ran back to the Lululemon Run Club Cheering Squad. I had to say thank you. For the winter pants that didn’t let any cold in, the cheers, the RunClub and the goal that I had chalked on their blackboard weeks ago: “Run 5 miles In Under 50 Minutes”.

At home, I ran straight to my friends upstairs to share the good news. High 5s and hugs awaited me. Then they fed me.

My first Banff Goal is complete. I have run since 2006, and it is my first time goal met, and also exceeded. I am happy. Happy to be here. Happy to be running. Happy to be cheered on.

Let The Winter Begin!


Waiting for snow October 30, 2011

Filed under: Run — wakingupincanada @ 10:26 am
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It is 10am and the sun is beginning to shine down on the garden outside my kitchen window. I am sitting drinking hot coffee, in big socks and a blanket around my shoulders, slowly thawing out. I headed out in my running gear as soon as it was bright enough and ran 5 miles along a white sprinkling of snow. I didn’t realise what the ground looked like before I left the house, and I am glad or I may have stayed in bed.  Instead I enjoyed this morning’s scene. The cold was bracing. It isn’t completely white, nor even close. There is frost and, here and there, patches of snow. It was as if the snow was inside a giant shaker, the kind that sprinkles the top of brownies. A ridiculous gesture I think as the brownies are sweet enough and the fine powder doesn’t really do anything to enhance the taste. But the snow sprinkles this morning are beautiful. Some places have a gentle layering, others not a trace. At a couple of points the footpath seemed slippy but I ran on trails mostly and the snow was just perfect; white enough to appreciate, thin enough to run on. A few people were out and about, walking along, taking photos, smoking a cigarette while watching the river. After 5 miles, I ran towards the road, and there standing in a little green space along the path was an Elk. Standing tall and proud, he looked at me. For a split second, I thought he may ram me, or bolt in front of traffic. No. He stood still and calm and just looked. I ran home.

I know my days are numbered. Soon, the ground will be too icy to let me run, and then it will be the gym or the slopes. I came here to appreciate a long white winter and it is only now I realise that I will have to give up the running to accommodate the snow. I’d never thought of it like that before, perhaps I never realised running was something I don’t want to give up. I used to love good excuses not to run. I’m not sure when running stopped being about exercise and started to be something that brought me back to who I was. Somewhere on those trails, regardless of place or time or events of the day, I get my quiet head space and hear myself be me. We are waiting for snow in Banff. I think I’ll run while I can.


Footprints October 29, 2011

Filed under: Run — wakingupincanada @ 8:24 am
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Earlier in the summer, my sister and I ran along the beach closest to our home. It is the most beautiful place in the world. The waves crash in on the quiet sands. Running along, you have an island in front of you, a mountain behind you and headlands on either side. There is rarely other people, and it always feels like my family’s own private beach.

This particular day, the sand on the far side was soft, and just getting my feet out of it was difficult, like doing high kick ups with weights attached. My sister had gone before me, and so I decided to run in her footsteps. The sand was now compressed and I didn’t have to wait for my feet to sink before I could jump out again.

It was easier to get my legs out, but much more difficult to run straight. To get from one step to another, I had to twist my own body in an unnatural way. I wondered how she ran like this and realised right away, probably quite naturally. We each have our own footprints that are unique to us, our own way of crossing the beach.

It is very difficult to run in someone else’s tracks. Even when we have the same destination in mind, we each take a different route. Sometimes it is about wanting a different view or being more interested in different challenges. We may have an uphill where others have a downhill and still others are on a permanent flat course. Some people like to sprint, others prefer a marathon.

Yet it is often in our instinct to tread the path well walked. We see the people who went before us and try and be like them. We see the way things should be done rather than the best way for us to get there. We don’t always appreciate the work the person ahead of us did to set those footprints, the challenges they met, but clumsily follow in afterward because we can see them in the  far off distance and they seem to be smiling. We forget the only race we will ever have is inside ourselves and when we look back, we will see, we should have slowed down.

As I ran toward my sister that day, I was proud of her for setting her own course, for being firm in her footsteps. She has 4 sisters gone before her, and she is determined to blaze her own path. She does it very well. She will graduate in Ireland next month and then travels to the opposite side of the world. I wonder when I will hug my baby sister again.  Her older sister is just looking on from the distance, smiling proudly, cheering her on.