seventeen to 371

“your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue.  Your only recourse is to call on your spirit.  Which fortunately functions independently of logic.”

tim noakes

after a confident 32 km run today, I can look back on this week with a feeling of moderate satisfaction with my training.  At my staff meeting last week, I felt all of the love poured onto me from everyone I work with.  It was our last staff meeting before I leave and I couldn’t hold back the tears as they wished me the most heartfelt farewell.  I was asked how I was feeling, and I didn’t even know how to answer that.  My emotions are constantly running on high as I edge closer and closer to my departure date.  The only thing I remember saying, is that my mind and heart are both 110% in, my body just needs to keep up.

but there are days where my body fails me. Where my feet plead me to rest.  Where my hip flexors and calves remind me with every step I take in my own apartment to just sit the fuck down.  If I’m being honest, I have a hard time listening to my body.  I still don’t feel like I’m training enough.  I rely on other people’s advice to tell me what the best thing to do for my body is.  I’m a competitive person at heart- and I struggle with letting myself fail at something.  I’m guilty of thinking more is better, especially being seventeen days away from getting on a plane to run this beast of an ultramarathon.  I hope everyone who has given me advice knows that it all sits in a little drawer in my brain that I pull out when I’m at war with myself.  I’m so afraid of not finishing this run.  I’m terrified that there will be a point where my body begs me to stop- and I’m terrified that my mind will follow suit.  It’s not that I’m trying to prove to myself or prove to anyone else that I can run 371km.  It is so much bigger than that.  I want to push myself to my absolute limit and once I reach that point, I want to push myself farther.  I want to cross that finish line in Jacmel on my own two feet knowing I left pieces of my heart along the way.

i’m willing to suffer for reward.  I’m willing to put my physical abilities on the line so our Team Tassy kids can stay in school.  I’m doing this so our Team Tassy moms and dads can have the opportunity for a job and proudly provide for their own families.  I’m running to ensure they are able to receive health care to stay around long enough to watch their grandbabies have children of their own.  I’m willing to do whatever it takes to cross that finish line and give these families a chance at a better life, away from poverty.  That is the reward. No medal or Boston qualifying time could ever touch that accomplishment.

and when I’m back home from this run,  I want our Haitian families and all the people of Haiti to walk along the roads I just ran, and pick those pieces of my heart up when they feel they need help.

or a reminder to know there is an end to all of this.

for haiti.

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twentynine to 371

29 days until I leave for Haiti.  I have officially left the 30’s and have less than a month until the race of my life is here.  I know that my blog has been somewhat fixated on numbers- counting down to my departure, how many km’s I’ve ran during the week, what my pace has been hovering around on my garmin- but all of these numbers keep me focused and inspired.

i’ve raised $3,996 so far for our families.

as a team, we have raised $47,451 that is directly going into creating dignified jobs for these families.

in Molea, Haiti, 97% of the families we met regularly experience food security issues

88% of those families do not have a clean water source.

Of the 158 children under 18 years of age surveyed, only 14% were enrolled in school.

in Menelas, where our families live, the median household income for a family of 6 is $30 USD per month.

in 2016 Team Tassy celebrated their first 2 graduates!  They’re studying for university entrance exams with hopes of completing a college degree.

8 surgeries that Team Tassy has facilitated with.

38 Team Tassy kids that are enrolled in school.

we have 140 family members in Menelas and that number continues to grow, giving these families a chance at a life away from poverty.

2 incredible people (and teachers) , Escane and Jules, who I had the privledge of working alongside at the summer school in Haiti, have given our Team Tassy kids the opportunity to improve on their studies, learn English, explore career goals and build a peer network.

i have 2 pairs of running shoes that I’ll be bringing with me to Haiti- both of which have put 1000’s of kilometers into their rubber soles. I’d get new ones but I’ve spent so much time with them that they both feel like my children.

i have 2 people coming with me to be and represent my entire support system from home.  And these 2 people’s lives will change because they are changing the lives of the people of Haiti.

there are 25 runners all running 371km for 1 purpose.

i still have all 10 toenails. (ask me how many I have in a month)

while numbers may seem irrelevant to some, they all sit in a little corner of my heart that pump through my body every day I run- to remind me what I’m doing all of this for.

this week I trained a little differently.  Today I finished an 18km run and it felt amazing to be outside again.  It was still icy, and muddy, but a little mud on the tires never hurt anyone.  I also did a 10km heat training run for the first time at the gym I cross train at.  it was 35 degrees celsius in Haiti this week so I figured I better get my butt on the treadmill with 4 layers on and a toque to try and simulate what I’ll be experiencing in just 4 weeks.  I know for a fact I looked like an idiot,  with sweat pouring off the ends of my hair, but I also didn’t care.  I struggled through it but I was thankful to have a few friends from work come cheer me on half way through.  Heat training is no joke- I finished running at 630pm and was still sweating at 1030pm (to the point where I soaked through two t-shirts after my shower).  I tried to drink as much water and electrolytes that my stomach could handle, but it resulted in 4 trips to the bathroom to pee during the night, and a headache when I woke up. As much as it hurt, I’m aiming to heat train twice a week leading up to my departure, fully knowing that nothing will prepare me for the extreme heat and humidity that Haiti has to offer next month.

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i also want everyone to know that I have days where I absolutely do NOT want to run. Or train. I often see on social media little quotes that say “the days you don’t want to train are the days you need to the most”.  Well I say that is bullshit because when my feet are throbbing and it’s -18 outside and I’m hungry, the last thing I want to do is lace up and say ‘see ya later’ for 3 hours while I up my weekly mileage. So, there were days I didn’t run this week. And I ate Triple 0’s with Brody and felt like a slug on the couch watching the Food Network and enjoyed every tiny second of it.  This, however, did not stop me from believing I wasn’t training hard enough.

the truth of the matter is, is that I’m not a professional runner.  I can’t devote my entire life to ultramarathon running, as much as I wish I could sometimes.  I don’t have unlimited access to massages and physio, chiropractors and foot doctors.  I eat what I can afford and make do with the time I have to train. I’m in nursing school, and the night before I was supposed to do a long run, I had to remove the clothes and the wedding band of my patient who passed away.  I woke up the next morning having to go to work, and try to process the fact that I didn’t feel that I had the honour to remove such a valued piece of who she was.  I hope she knows I did it with all the compassion I had to give.

to our 140 family members, and for the unknown number of people reading this, I wont let you down.

pou haiti.

thirtynine to 371

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hope.  We’ve all used that word in some context or another.  We’ve all hoped for a better body, we’ve all hoped for good grades in University, and we’ve all hoped for the Canadians to beat USA in the World Junior Hockey gold medal game.  As I wore my hope bracelet around my wrist during this long run, a bracelet I took home from my previous trip to Haiti, I’m reminded that we can’t just hope for a certain outcome.  We can’t just wait for someone else to do the work- to do something good.  If we rely on hope for change to happen, then we’ll all look around at eachother, hoping somebody, somewhere, will step up to the plate.  Why not you?  Why not me?

i decided to step up to the plate 11 months ago when I signed up for this Run Across Haiti.  I’m not waiting for hope to make a difference- I am the difference. Even if it is in one person’s life.

raisons, check.
fruit bars, check.
saltine crackers, check.
tums and gravol, check.
GU’s and hydration, check.
150 laps… check.

one hundred and fifty laps around CNC’s indoor track.  that’s 36km and roughly 37,000 steps around and around in a circle, periodically watching three different soccer games below me, and being careful to not be trampled by the track team doing sprints beside me.

I wish I could tell you what went on in my mind for those 3 and a half hours.  But I honestly can’t.  I did five 25 lap segments and restarted after each quarter.  It helped pass the time and it forced me to focus my mind on the here and now.  I wanted to train my body to receive hydration and nutrition every 5km, which is what I’ll be doing in Haiti.  The process worked and I felt energized and fuelled the entire run.  Until I got to lap 125 and my body wanted to keep going. And I did, except I cried. For no reason.  I hit this mental block and started to dedicate the next consecutive laps to my family- lap 125 to my dad, lap 126 to my mom, lap 127 to my sister, laps 128/129 to my grandmothers and lap 130 to Brody. Don’t ask me why I did this- I was an emotional basket case and I guess I needed to find inspiration outside of the white lines beneath my feet and the 4 walls surrounding  me.

lap 150 was dedicated to little Michy.  I remembered her jumping into my arms when we visited them at their home in Menelas-  she put on a 10 minute dance for us, (twice) while her dad watched with the most love on his face that will make your heart grow 2 sizes. I fell in love with this family and they are who I am doing all of this for.thumbnail_img_1641

classes haven’t quite started yet so this week gave me a chance to focus on my training.  I’ve been dialling in on keeping my body agile, strong and healthy.  Foam rolling is the biggest love/hate relationship I think I’ll ever have.

i took my cross training to the gym, pool and steam room.  As I got into the water, I quickly mentioned to the lifeguard that I’m using the pool as part of my training and that I’m not a great swimmer.  (I don’t own goggles or a cap so I keep my head partially out of the water while doing front crawl, aka, I’m no Michael Phelps).  After a few laps, the lifeguard told me the way I was swimming was a lot harder of a workout than doing a regular front crawl.  Legit she was being nice ’cause I looked like a drowning seal.

i really tried to focus on my hypoxic breathing while I was swimming.  Hypoxic breathing means making do with less air.  Breathing every 4-5 strokes.  Swim coaches have favoured hypoxic training for so long based on an assumption that you could simulate the effects of training at high altitude by breathing less often while swimming at low altitude. Studies of swimmers who live and train in places like Colorado (usually at 5,000 feet or more) have shown that they become highly efficient oxygen-processing machines. Among other changes, since your body doesn’t get as much oxygen, it makes more hemoglobin, the element in blood that shuttles oxygen to the muscles. It takes ALOT of hypoxic training to really reap the rewards, but I like to think I’m cool when I do it once a week.

the steam room has been somewhat of a place of meditation for me.  I use it to get a good stretch in and focus, I mean really focus, on my breathing.  There were a few older gentleman in there with me one day and one asked if I was a “yogi”.  I told them I was a runner and they asked what distance I like to run.  like to run.  I couldn’t answer that question seriously, so I briefly mentioned that I’m running across Haiti.  Immediately, one man piped up with, “will you be running with armed vehicles beside you the whole time?”  I’m shaking my head as I type these words.  Armed vehicles?!  Are you kidding me?  This wasn’t the first time this type of comment came up to me.  This is also why I am running. I’m running to show everyone that Haiti is not a place to be feared or pitied- it is one of the most beautiful, kind, and welcoming countries that I’ve ever had the privilege of spending time in.  There is this insanely inaccurate assumption that people who are in poverty are also people who are violent and dangerous.  That could not be farther from the truth.  I hope all of you go to Haiti one day and shake hands with the mothers who work 15 hour days away from their young children to give them the ability to go to school.  I hope you go to Haiti and hug the fathers who collect leather and tire scraps to hand make and sell shoes to put food on their table for their families.

i hope you all get the chance to go to Haiti and fall in love with it as much as I have.

pou haiti.

fortyfive to 371

my current mood after new years celebrations is portrayed beautifully by this little half naked munchkin who fell asleep in my arms before I captured this angelic moment.   Sleep and pizza. Repeat.

quinn kindly reminded me that I only have 45 days left until I leave.  Not 53 which I woke up thinking it was.  My math clearly sucks.

this past friday I set out to do a long run.  I had my GU’s in my pockets, new Kanye on my ipod, garmin fully charged, and was mentally prepared to get it done.  Unfortunately, I was trying my hardest not to slip on the ice that covered every sidewalk, and every shoulder of every road while simultaneously trying not to twist my ankle on the ice blocks that caked the sidewalks.  Despite having traction aids on my shoes, my feet were slipping out underneath me with every step I took and I struggled with keeping a solid stride.  I should also mention that snot was uncontrollably pouring out of each nostril and freezing to my upper lip.  It was a scene straight out of Dumb and Dumber.  I tapped out at 10km and quickly jumped into a hot shower.

the weather should never be a reason to stop training.  Except when the chance of falling and breaking your face and looking like Ronda Rousey after her defeat against Amanda Nunes is greater than the improvement of the training itself. I decided to take my long runs inside- to the CNC indoor track.

the CNC indoor track is a 300m oval that smells like cleat and shinpad sweat from the soccer field it hovers above. The air conditioning and fluorescent lighting also hurts my eyes and makes them water, so please don’t judge me if you ever see me running there with sunglasses on. It’s purposeful, not because I’m a fan of Corey Hart.

300 meters= 1 lap.  I ran 100 laps.

if you’re wondering how many km’s that is.. it’s 30. 

brody ran the first 25 laps with me.  Which I am thankful for because running in a circle 100 times is unbelievably mentally challenging, so to have him do 1/4 of it with me was appreciated.  It’s funny how weak or tough my mind can be.  As we were warming up, I looked at the track and thought to myself, “how the hell am I going to do 100 laps.”  but once I ran 50, I told myself I would run until I hit 65 laps to get some nutrition and water.  Well, 65 laps came and went and I didn’t grab water or fuel until I ran another 25 more.  I did a quick shoe change, fueled up and was back on the track within 30 seconds.  I love pushing myself farther than I think I can. I crave proving myself wrong and feel satisfied when I do. I think I started hallucinating around lap 91.  But that’s yet another thing that I love so much about running: I become so focused on what’s going on in my own head and I forget that my legs are still moving.  It’s a reassuring reminder that my body was born to run.

on the 100th lap, I ran hard. I ran strong. I ran with purpose. I ran for Haiti.