I love Christmas break so much. It gives me time to slow down from a busy schedule and do some of the things I love to do. Normally when I leave for work this time of year it is dark, and when I get home it is dark. With a whole week off I can get outdoors, enjoy the daylight outdoors and perhaps get out for a winter run or two.
I can spend some time with the family and catch up with reading and writing. Lastly, something I love to do, but don’t do nearly enough is do nothing and relax. Shut off the world’s distractions, and just reflect and lay low. And looking back, and reflecting over this past year, there has been some pretty cool things happen these past 12 months. So for the next little bit of time please allow me to share some of the highlights of 2017.
1: My Employment
When I reflect and look at it I’ve been pretty blessed, because it was through a running club at work that my running journey all began 5 years ago. Earning income at my job I am able to help pay the bills around the house, as well as little extras like for a new pair of trail running shoes now and then and a few race registrations each year. For the 5 years I have worked at my employment I have been in a fast paced warehouse. A lot of lifting and miles of walking, and at the end of the day my 59 year old body can get pretty worn out. Some days I would have a sleep in the car before I turned the ignition for my commute home. I’ve never been happy with my training for my running events. I always felt like I was going into these events extremely under prepared. There is a team of professional writers at work. I have no training in writing at all, and am not at a professional, but I asked my supervisor one day if there was any opportunity at all, I would love to be given a chance to write for the company. It happened, and I could not be more excited. Part of my workweek is in the warehouse, and the other part is now writing environmental posts for the marketing department. I can keep my general fitness up with the hours working in the warehouse, but now I also have energy left over so I can be more specific in my training and conditioning for those ultras. In the marketing department, I am with a great team of professional writers that have a lot of confidence in me. My first post was published around a month ago. Here is the post. What It Takes To Be Sustainable In Coffee Cups
2. Public Speaking.
For those who know me well, I am quite quiet and reserved, and one who will seek out an unoccupied corner in a crowded room. So it comes as quite a shock to many people who see me speak, as I tend to get very animated. Much like getting myself ready for these tough running events, getting on a stage to speak takes much preparation. In close to the past 6 years that I have been lay pastoring a church on the side (outside of my regular day job) I have spoken probably somewhere between 250 and 300 times. But this past year I did something very unique, and that was to speak at an “Ignite Talk”, which has been likened to a mini “TedX” talk. We have 20 slides, and 15 seconds per slide which auto advance for a total of five minutes. For someone who is used to an hour each week, 5 minutes go by SO fast. It was a completely different audience and setting at Ignite, than what I am used to and I had SO much fun. Ignite Talks are held worldwide. So check them out, to see if there is an event near you. Here is the link: Ignite Talks.
3. My 50 Miler
When I started training in the spring of 2012 for my half marathon later that fall, that half marathon seemed so unreachable. I struggled so much to get there. And the thought of standing at the start line of a gruelling 50 mile trail race less than 4 years later seemed so ridiculous. But finishing that 1st half marathon changes a person. Then finishing a full marathon the next year, and then some 50k ultras in years after that, every finish makes me want to attempt tougher and more challenging races. So that’s how I ended up wearing a headlamp at 5:00 am at the starting line of the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler. The majority of runners were 20 to 30 years younger than me. Fifty miles is a long way, anything could happen out there, and inwardly I was very scared. The race was extremely challenging and had me going through a wide spectrum of emotions. Without going into details how it ended, here is the link: My 1st 50 Mile Ultra.
4. The Running Community
Back in the fall of 2012 when I was attempting my 1st half marathon in Toronto, I was struggling badly. A lady came up from behind and started talking to me, concerned to know how I was doing. She was a very experienced runner, having completed several full marathons (including Boston) and was running a full marathon that day. She ran with me well over half my distance, talking to me, encouraging me, and believing in me that I could actually do this. It blew me away that this runner would give up a better finishing time to help me (a complete stranger) achieve my 1st half marathon. She helped take my mind off myself, and helped me focus on the finish line. I could not be more grateful to her.
It was a beautiful introduction of what the running community is like. I am always amazed by the running community. Since that cool October day in 2012 I have tried to be really aware of the other runners, to see how they are doing and if any could use some support and encouragement. It was 5 years later, another cool, rainy October Half Marathon, this time in Orillia I came alongside another runner who I sensed was slowly fading. Her name was Jill MacAlpine. She told me this was her 1st ever race, which amazingly was a half marathon. This was by far the longest distance she has run. Really don’t think I did much of anything, but just stayed running alongside her for support. Taking her mind off that 8 or 9 kilometers to go and focusing on 1 kilometer at a time, she fought though those mental barriers. And at the finish line, as our two sets of eyes were tearing up, I was thinking “It doesn’t get any better than this”. Definitely a highlight of my year.
5. My Health
I am turning 60 this year, and I can’t say enough how fortunate I am to have my health. Sadly this past year I lost a few co-worker friends who previously had worked with me in different jobs over the years. And it hasn’t been easy, and really makes me think of my own mortality. I can’t say how fortunate I am to be able to run. Running is a gift. It helps my mental as well as my physical health. As long as I can, I just want to keep running.
6. Lisa Tamati
The 50 mile race that I ran last July beat me up pretty good. This might be something only a ultra-runner might understand, but after that North Face race, I wanted to go even tougher and longer. But in order to help me get to that next level, I knew I needed help. Every level gets more and more intense, and proper preparation becomes more crucial. There are so many runners that I connect with on Twitter, and there are several who are professional running coaches. Who will I turn to for help? Lisa Tamati, who lives in New Zealand is one of the world’s top ultra competitors and has competed in some of the toughest endurance events on earth. They include the Badwater Ultra, a 217k race in the dead heat of summer through Death Valley, La Ultra-The High, the world’s highest running race of 222k’s through the Himalayas, and Niger, 333k’s through the Sahara. On top of being a high profile running coach, she is also a best selling author of 2 books, Running Hot, and Running to Extremes. Lisa Tamati is a keynote motivational speaker. She also hosts a podcast called “Pushing The Limits”. I connected with Lisa through Twitter and found out she offered an e-course called “Path of the Athlete” through her company Running Hot Coaching. It deals with mental toughness and a never quit mindset. This can apply not only to running, but to any challenge in life. I enrolled in the course and told her my goals. Having taken other e-courses before where the only feedback from the instructor was “well done”, I didn’t know what to expect. But this course has been way beyond my expectations. Lisa goes above and beyond with her feedback, often responding to my answers in great depth of her own personal experiences with raw honesty. She really wants me to be fully prepared for that next level and reassures me she has competed with and knows runners my age that are doing just that. I’m a third of the way through the course, and it has become a highlight this year. To learn more about Lisa Tamati, her website is lisatamati.co.nz
7. The Blogging World
At the end of each year I always like to thank all my blog supporters. Whether you have been with me right from the beginning of my blogging journey or joined in this past year, you are very important to me. You’ve read, liked, commented and shared. It has not gone unnoticed. Blogging connections have become friendships. So as I close off this post I would like to wish each of you a tremendous 2018 and present the 5 blogger friends who have interacted and commented the most on my blog. Thank you!
i: Natalie from the blog Natjtan—16 comments. Natalie is an adventurer of sorts. She likes to run obstacle course races, her lifestyle reflects care for the environment. And she takes amazing photographs. You will find a bit of everything on her blog, with a great sample being this post Late November Catch Up
ii: Travels With Choppy—21 comments. This is such a fun blog. Some posts involve Sarah’s dog Choppy and her cat Schooner that will make you laugh. Other posts involve Sarah and Choppy’s inspirational “Dog Walk Challenge” that was inspired by my niece Caron’s run-streak. The challenge of walking every day through all kinds of weather. The Dec. 26 post of Dog Walk Challenge will tell you how far the streak has been going!
iii: An Armchair Perfectionist—26 comments. Prajakta has a bit of everything in her posts. Some feature photography, other times she shares amazing poetry, and others she shares from her heart of what it is like living and working in her home country of India. In Canada we have come a long way with gender equality in the workplace, but in her post My Gender Prajakta shares bravely from the depths of her heart of the inequality found in India.
iv: Freedom Through Empowerment—29 comments. Tricia is an incredible encourager. Whether I have written about a race event, or a post on cancer, I am sure she will drop by with an extremely generous comment. And she is an excellent writer. A post that really resonated with me was called Unplugged. The opportunity of shutting off technology for a time and experiencing nature and all its analogies that can be applied to life.
v: Travel Tales of Life—31 comments. Sue and her husband Dave like myself are in their fifties, but boy they sure are adventurous. With the extremely descriptive posts you feel like you are tagging right along for the adventure. Sue does most of the writing, and Dave who is just as creative will sometimes share a post. I found Painted Irish Sheep very fascinating.
Thank you so much for sticking around as I shared some highlights of 2017. Once again thank you for all your support. Have a tremendous 2018.