Game Time

“Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, I’ll try again tomorrow.”  Dennis Edney 

Picking my fall races is a challenge.   It’s cross-country season, there are lots of different distances for road racing and, of course, there are a lot of marathons.  There are so many great events to pick that I could race every weekend if I wanted.  I sat down at the computer a few weeks ago to try to decide on which races to run.  Resigned that I was not going to marathon this fall, I looked primarily at half-marathons and cross-country, but every single marathon listed seemed to jump from the screen.  “Pick me!  Pick me!”  I caved.

I love everything about training for the marathon distance.   Watching weekly mileage climb has a powerful feeling; every long run finished leaves me feeling satisfied; fulfilling the commitment to train, which means planning to eat, drink, and sleep around running builds mental strength.  Most of all, I love the sense of commitment that marathoners show and the confidence that they gain in training and elation of crossing the finish line.

When I made the decision to not run the Victoria Marathon, I was genuinely upset about it, but it was the right decision to make.  However, for weeks following, I was being tormented by the October line-up of marathons:  Prince Edward County, Scotiabank, Prince Edward Island, Hamilton.  All of them were doable, but how doable?  How much fitness did I lose?

After 2 rest weeks of lower mileage (40-45k) and no long runs, I had to test myself.  F

New Balance Shoes
Boldly making the switch to New Balance 1080’s

our Monday mornings ago, I woke up before dawn and finished 19K – and I felt good!  That weekend, I ran 21K, met my friend, Monica, part way through and felt not so good.  That same week,  I made a few minor changes to my running lifestyle, which included new shoes and pampering my feet a bit more, and my third long run (another 21K) felt great.   I looked at the fall racing calendar, my family calendar and my work schedule and I started to plan.  “I can make this work” I thought.  “I can be ready for Hamilton.”

 

post long-run
Post Long Run

And now it’s game time.  Yesterday, I upped my game and threw a 10K tempo into my long run (giving me a total of 25K) and ran a 12K trail recovery this morning.  In the past month, I have watched my weekly mileage climb from 40K to 66K, and I feel great about it.  This week, I get a little more serious as I add more yoga and 2 cycling workouts to my week so that I have a stronger core and quads so that I am ready for ‘net downhill’.

 

I know the next few weeks are going to be a bit crazy.  The boys are back in school, I have a new teaching assignment, and coaching soccer starts soon.  But, for whatever reason, running a fall marathon is in me and, like I tell the kids at school, “When you want something badly enough, you can make it happen.”  run over obstacles

A Good Problem to Have

I didn’t plan on becoming a soccer mom.  When my boys were younger – well, before they were even born – I imagined them becoming hockey players.  I would get them up in the morning and give them a bowl of oatmeal before Dad would take them to their 6:00 practices, and I would cheer loudly for them during games.  But this never happened.  Even then, at no point in my early parenting years, did I ever think that I would become a soccer mom.

When the boys turned 4, each was registered in the Timbits house league, practically a right of passage in town.   All of their friends played; I mean, ALL of their friends.  But as they got older, and their interests changed, they both walked away from soccer and got into other things.

Somewhere between chasing 4 year old Timbit players and going to High School, the oldest looked into working as a referee.  At the end of his grade 8 year, he took his first qualification course, CPR and First Aid, and he spent that summer getting himself to as many fields as he could so that he could work.  And he was good at it.  My 13 year old could control the field and the parents surrounding it – no easy feat- and that success propelled him to continue reffing during the following school year and summer.

soccer named ballsFast forward to the fall of 2015.  The Littlest Dude (TLD), entering Grade 5, decided that he wanted to play soccer.  Since the club was short of coaches and I was going to be there anyway, I decided to coach his team.  Within weeks, it became obvious that TLD was committed to the sport.  We registered him for another season, and I agreed to coach again.  When the Summer League opened, TLD wanted to play again – but he wanted more than a weekly house league; he wanted to play in the developmental program, which runs twice a week.

This year, it seems, I have officially become a soccer mom.  I am often helping my oldest with travel to his games or back home, since games can end late.  As TLD’s coach, I am committed to working with his team two nights a week.  And now, as he has eyes on trying out for Rep soccer in the next year, I find myself spending almost every afternoon taking him to a field, at his request, so that he can practise shots and play with his friends.  In an average week, I am making an average of 11 trips to any of the different soccer fields in town.

Honestly, I don’t know how this happened.  As a parent, I introduced my boys to different activities, hopeful that they would find one that they liked and would stick with it.  When they were younger, I told them, “It doesn’t matter to me what you do, but whatever you do, do it well.”   My oldest son chose music – played the piano, sang in a choir, played percussion in the band – and he was good, really good, in all.   He took swimming lessons and he ran cross-country, but that was really the extent of his interest in sport; his throwing himself into the world of soccer was a bit of a shock.  He refs, helps coach his school’s Senior team (grade 11 and 12) and mentors new referees.  My youngest?  He loves athletics but he never had any real desire to get involved in any kind of competitive sport.  Out of nowhere, something clicked; he constantly wants to play and, like so many boys his age, he wants to be one of the best. Soccer cleats

I like to think that my own racing and training have somehow rubbed off on my boys.   They have seen me throw myself into my running – especially during marathon season – and chase my own goals.  Secretly, I have been hoping that they would follow my footsteps, especially since they didn’t follow Dad’s path to the rink.  But they haven’t.  For whatever reason, at different points in their lives, both of them simply seemed to wake up one morning and throw themselves into soccer.  And they do it well.

Spending my time taking them from one field to another is a good problem to have.

 

Becoming Better Than You Were Before

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During the past week, I have had time to reflect on my past year – the good and the bad – and think about running goals for the spring of 2016.  I am not setting a resolution as I have never been a big fan of them.  But chasing a dream, setting a goal to achieve it, and becoming better for it: I am all about that.

But, like many others, I go through periods when sticking with those goals is tough.  Family life can take over; work might get busy; I might be side-lined with illness or some type of ache/pain.  So I have a couple of tricks to help myself stay motivated and work towards becoming better.

a.  Make a Commitment to Others:  For almost a year, I needed two of my training partners – Kelly-Lynne and Monica – to lyoga picure me to the Yoga Studio.  Don’t get me wrong; I like yoga, but I don’t love it.  I do it because it is good for me.  Between the three of us, the texts would fly during the week to figure out who could go to Friday night’s class and who couldn’t, who had to work late and who didn’t.   Nine times out of ten, if neither of them could make it, I would find something else to do.  But the more I went with one or both of the girls, the more comfortable I became to the point where I now make the effort to go to yoga on my own.  And, by the way, my fitness goal for the winter is to strengthen my core so I will definitely be frequenting more often.

b.  Put Your Goal in Writing:  This works for me and the more people who see it, the better off I am.  Write your goal down and post it in a spot where you will see it again and again: on the fridge door, on the bathroom mirror, at the top of your desk at work.   The more you see your goal, the more likely it will become a part of you.

c. Register for a Race:  If you are a runner and want to run a 10K in the spring, find one now and register for it.  By doing that, you have made a formal commitment to yourself and you have put it in writing.  My husband talked about running at The Eggnog Jog when I race many, many times until I finally asked him, “Do you want me to register you for it?”  Once I did, the talk stopped and the training started.  Registering gave him the little bit of motivation that he needed to start running again.

Eggnog Jog 2015 -Dave
Dave finishing the Eggnog Jog.  photo credit: Sue Sitki Photography

 

d. Involve Your Family:  I cannot stress how important this is – especially if you have young children.  When my boys were little, planning the week on Sunday nights also meant writing out the days that I would run and the type of workout that I planned.   Then, when I got home from work, they already knew whether or not I was going for a run.  That reduced the meltdowns at home and it led to my sons’ encouragement and support in my own fitness goals.

e. Join a Club or a Group:  This ties in with making a commitment to a training partner.   The advantage of running or working out with a club or a group is that it will always be there and ready for you – even if your friends can’t – and you are likely to make some new friends with the same goals as you.  I love training with Lions Valley AthleticsLVA uniform circle Even though I am the slow one in the group, I am always  supported and encouraged by the others in the group, and I have made some great friends.  This is a few of us at a training run back in August.  And, in case you are wondering, I made some great friends – including my yoga buddies above – through my former club, Toronto Olympic Club, and through Lions Valley Athletics.

2016As I mentioned above, my goal for 2016 is to build a stronger core.  Rather than focussing on it once or twice a week, I am changing my game plan: 20 in 16.  In other words, I am going to do 20 minute core workouts over 16 days in the month.  I have started a Facebook group – 20 for 16 – which people can join, set their own goal (e.g. 20 minutes of cardio, abs, strengthening, walking….), and we can all support each other on FB or Instagram.   You can check out more details on Cynsspace .  If you want in, leave a comment below.

Being better than you used to be: that is what resolutions are really about.