This is the year of new. I sit here in my new office on a beautiful snowy afternoon, drinking tea from the new mug given to me by my colleagues. Tomorrow I start my new job, the first major change in 17 years. While I am excited, I am also a little nervous.
I didn’t initially seek out this change, the change found me. This story began July 2016 when my father broke his neck. An unstable fracture of his cervical spine that left him in bed and paralyzed. Luckily, I was there and was able to provide some intermittent support during the first few months. A great surgeon, many miracles later, along with hard work and determination, my father was able to regain the use of his legs again.
While I continued to run, bike and swim, many workouts were missed in favor of spending time with my father in the hospital, making the 4 hour commute each way at least once a week and trying to carry on with some of my other responsibilities. My life was full. Actually, my life was stuffed. Still, I managed to get a lot of stuff done. I was juggling many balls and it was only a matter of time it would all come crashing down. Self care and friendships were the first things that were easy to dismiss. Consistent training, my podcast and blog were next. Luckily I have a great coach who knows when I am being a slacker and when I have reached my capacity. He pushed me when I needed it and provided some gentle guidance when I needed it as well.
I didn’t make it to many races that year. Two races did manage to stay on my calendar….The MultiSport Barrelman 70.3 and the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon. While I didn’t crush any personal records that year, the friendship, community and environment of these two races is just what my soul needed.
As you can imagine, 2016 left me completely exhausted. I wasn’t going to race at all in 2017, except for Ragnar Niagara Relay. It didn’t consider it a race , it was more of a running adventure. A weekend getaway/roadtrip with 5 other van mates with some running mixed in. Ragnar became 3 training runs where I would test how well I ran with a lack of sleep and a lack of food. Pace didn’t matter. I was running Ragnar Niagara for the experience. It was the first time Ragnar Relay series was back in Canada and I wanted to be part of the first race. The rest of the year , I would train for the sake of training and trying to improve my cycling and really fall in love with my bike. I was also going to concentrate on getting my house in order, spend more time with my husband and my kids who really missed having their momma present.
Peer pressure set in and of course I decided to join 2 friends, Rebecca and Tracy, for the Niagara Falls International Marathon in October 2017. It was going to be Tracy’s first marathon. While she has completed may half marathons as well as a few 70.3 distance triathlons, there is something to say about tackling your first Full marathon. We started training together. One speed work session during the week and a long run on the weekend. Life was great. It felt amazing training with the 2 women.
In the spring of 2017, the cancer diagnosis came for my father. Once again, re-arranging my schedule and making the 4 hour trip each way to be there for key appointment and making it a point to spend more time with my parents, my life began to burst at the seams once again. I was exhausted. My body ached. I longed to run my long runs with my group. We pushed each other, we encouraged each other and we vented to each other. Running became therapy.
In August, while at my parents, I get a text from Rebecca telling me I had won the “Ultimate Getaway” for Niagara Falls International Marathon. I couldn’t believe it. Naturally, I chose Rebecca to share the experience with me.
Late summer, we got the call that the cancer was shrinking, and while he would never be cancer free, this would buy us some time. That was great news. The long runs with Rebecca started again.
A friend of ours had just lost her father a month before I received the invitation. Her father, a cyclist had always accompanied her to her races. She wanted to honor him by racing he Barrelman 70.3 as a relay. Rebecca, Jax and I became Jim’s angels. While I wasn’t planning on racing more than the full marathon that year, I just couldn’t pass up
this opportunity. It was an honor to race in Jim’s memory. Once again, that weekend getaway was just what my soul needed.
The Barrelman 70.3 Relay provided me once again the hunger to race Even if I hadn’t trained as much as I would have liked, I still managed to exit the water in a decent time. While Jax was on her bike, Rebecca and I made our way to T2, managing our way around closed streets. I decided to run the 21.1 km with Rebecca that day, since I had a 26 km run that day on my training plan . What better way to get my training run in then to run with Rebecca.
In late fall, I was diagnosed with depression from a medication I was prescribed. I had been showing signs of depression since Labor day weekend and they were getting progressively worse. While all I did was cry, work, train and go to bed, nothing else really mattered to me at the time. The only time that I felt good was while I was training and racing. The rest of my life was a mess. The 2 race weekends were my first eye opener that something was wrong. Luckily, I had an appointment with a covering Dr who really took the time to listen. He realized what the issue was right away and made the necessary changes. Life was looking up.
This was also the time when we got the call that a new cancer has emerged with full force. Esophageal cancer this time. Once again, re-arranged my schedule to make the trip for some key appointments. I was ready to fight this thing, as long as my father wanted to fight.
Mid December, I moved in with my parents to help with his care and to support my Mom during this time. He fought hard, until he decided he had had enough. He passed on Dec 31, 2017 with his family by his side.
I am learning many lessons over the last few years. I will be going through many firsts this year as well. First Family day without him, first birthday etc. While I know it won’t be easy, I will try to experience them fully. It’s time for a fresh start. A new outlook on life. A new mantra. While I may not have all the answers right now, as I start moving down this path, I will be looking for the signs along the way. The new job and a new racing plan and a lot more time for family and friends this year is just what my soul is wanting and needing.
Till next time, have a great active day.