Timing Isn’t Everything

LVA uniform circleThe past few months of training for Chicago has been a personal journey.    It hasn’t been about gaining bragging rights for finishing one of the world’s biggest marathons, nor has it been about chasing a BQ.   For me, The Chicago Marathon has about mental health, my mental health.

When I registered for Chicago, I saw it as an escape from the previous twelve months:  moving my parents into nursing care and closing the family home, watching my mother progress into the later stages of Alzheimer’s as my dad underwent rounds of chemotherapy; dealing with my own injury that resulted in a leave of absence for weeks;  facing the inevitable in the early spring.  In fact, I entered the lottery for Chicago after my dad passed as I knew that I would need the distraction of training over the summer.   At the end of May, after barely catching our collective breath, my brothers and I buried my mother just seven weeks after my dad.   I made it to the end of the school year knowing that I had something to look forward to: a summer of marathon training.

Going to Chicago has been about me – my recovery.  It has given me the focus I needed – pardon the pun – to get my feet back on the ground.  my teamThrough training, I have had to rebuild my fitness and my running mates have been instrumental in helping me do that.  I watched my mileage climb further than I thought it ever would, found some speed that I had forgotten about and, through regular yoga workouts, rediscovered my abs.  At the same time, I’ve spent the summer resting and catching up on months of lost sleep.  I’ve hung out with my boys and watched their interest in my marathon grow.   I’ve asked my husband for running advice (gasp!).

Today at lunch,  a co-worker asked me what time I’m hoping to run in Chicago.  “I don’t really have one,” I replied.  Her jaw dropped.  “You?” she asked.  “I don’t believe you.”

“I haven’t done much speed work; I’ve really only focused on building distance.  All of my long runs have been around 5 minute kilometres.  But I’m not really worried about time.  I mean, I think I’ll run around 3:30, maybe 3:45.”  She raised her eyebrows again. “I don’t really know, but I’m feeling strong,” I told her.  “Really strong.  I’m feeling fit.  I’m healthy again.”

And she added, “Cynthia, you’re smiling again.  You’ve got that twinkle in your eye back.”

Yup, I do.  And I am ready to take it to Chicago.





Things Come in Three’s

My Parents, 1965
My Parents, 1965

Life is about balance.  For me, that means juggling my life at home with work and fitness.  Sometimes, that is easy; others, it is a struggle.  This year, finding balance has been one of the biggest challenges ever.

At the end of January, all fitness activities came to a halt when I broke my jaw.  It was a running accident, a freak accident at the end of January.  I was heading out to meet my club at a local recreation centre when, on a poorly lit road,  my toe caught hold of a chunk of ice, sending me flying.  My chin hit the pavement and I broke my jaw – in four places – and had not choice but to take time off work and all fitness activities.

A few weeks later and while I was still off work, doctors discovered a large mass of cancer on my dad’s brain.  He had been living with cancer for years and had undergone a variety of treatments, the most recent being radium injections in the fall.   My brothers and I had hoped that this would destroy the cancer cells but, instead, the disease became more aggressive.   At the beginning of April, I took another leave from work as we buried my father.

The beginning of 2015 had brought me a physical and an emotional challenge.   I was grateful for my job teaching at a school close to home.  I was able to return to work both times, forget about the things that were going on in my life away from school and focus on the kids in my classes and the runners that I coach.   This only lasted for a few weeks, though.

At the end of May, my brother called me to tell me that my mother went in her sleep.  She had Alzheimer’s/Dementia and we expected that we would say good-bye to her sometime before 2016.  That day came earlier than we thought; seven weeks after our dad died, we said good-bye to our mother.

Many people believe that things come in three’s.   Myth, old wives’ tale, fact or fiction, I don’t know how much value I have in that.  But I do know that the stresses that I faced during the first part of the year – my broken jaw, the uncertainty of my parents’ health and their deaths – are gone.   For that reason, I dubbed July 1st as the start of a new year, 2015B.  It is a fresh start, a new beginning, a time for me to set some goals and go after them.