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.
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.
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.