A few months ago I was interviewed by the Canadian Running Magazine. I’m humbled by the opportunity to have shared my story and hope it inspires people to challenge themselves even if it seems impossible at first.
So… week 1 is done, checked marked off.
I was scheduled to run an easy 5k on Wednesday which I had a first. I ran my first ever 5k without stopping. This is huge to me and such a victory all on its own. It was just me and a back country road. Small steps lead to big steps. #MeVsMe
My next scheduled run was for Friday, which I’ll admit life happened and I didn’t get it in. I did however walk well over 5k around Toronto (avoided transit). I knew it was an error on my part for not getting out when I got home, but I know sometimes life creeps up on us. Plans change.
Today (Sunday) was the scheduled “long run”. Koren visited for some Summer weekend fun (bonfire, sunsets and smores), so this AM (Sunday) we got up to go out for our 7.5k run.
The sun was out, we were out with nature and off running. It was an easy path with some little hills.
I had a few things I normally do that I didn’t today (Sunday); I didn’t run with my hydration pack. I ran with everything in a belt around my waist (which doesn’t fit everything) and water bottle in hand. I was completely fine for the 5k with this set up but not for this distance. I think I need my pack for longer runs. It’s way more comfortable and offers me easier access for my puffer.
Today (Sunday) I also had another first…. a side stitch that all these people talk about. This was an experience. I said to Koren “is this a heart attack?”. I could barely breathe and I was bent over in pain. It was not fun.
So, I didn’t tell Koren but our 7.5k was actually 8k from where we parked the car to entrance to road we ran on. So it sort of helped a wee bit with missing the Friday run.
The one thing that as my kms increase u have to accept I don’t get pizza. The rule always was after any “run” I’d get pizza or a slice but not anymore. Now my reward is food to refuel my body properly (but I still think pizza is proper).
Marathon training is just not running but also food and mental.
So let’s see how week 2 pans out. Stay tuned.
Well I knew this was going to roll around sooner than later. I had a beyond lengthy discussion with my run coach on Tuesday. He and I discussed so many different logistics, including my health to just about what I’ll eat daily or mostly on days of long training runs.
Most important for summer training; listen to my body. Listen to my asthma. Don’t be a hero.
I have the schedule. I have the days written in my agenda, it’s real now. I’m going to do this.
I’ll be posting more as weeks go on, more so to keep myself accountable.
I thought a lot today while being crazy busy about the start of this journey. I realized my first 5k of this plan is (was) done on the longest day of the year, but mostly today is a new season. It seems fitting.
Last year I set a goal to do a half marathon. I accomplished that in October. Since the start of 2017 I’ve ran 4 half marathons and 2 10ks. I could of worked on my half marathon time and kept getting better times but I figured I needed a tougher goal. I needed to prove to myself this back of the pack runner can do a full. I can do the challenge. I can win and beat my body and mind. I’ll be a marathoner.
So stay tuned for this journey it’s going to be epic, an adventure and mostly me probably grumbling but the finish will be worth it.
This is my journey. It’s #MeVsMe
I am going to start this off with an open letter to Lululemon (Toronto):
You fine folks surely knew how to throw one hell of a party, the cheer stations were unreal, loud and proud.
Well now on to the race swag, well basically the top I got. I’m going to be real here, I am not a size 12. Check out my Instagram and you’ll see; I’m plus size and I’m a runner, yup I’m a runner (insert a gasp).
So you see the size 12 shirt just doesn’t work for me, I thought about maybe if I put on my saugage suit (that’s what I call my spanx), it might work, or look maybe some what acceptable to leave my house in, but lets be real also, I need to breathe. So maybe instead of a shirt (which was 68$), you could offer an exchange, or a second option, like socks. You see I wear your socks to run in, train in etc. They fit me perfect, and offer the right amount of comfort. So I’m ok with only getting an 18$ pair of socks, because I’ll use them, I’ll wear them with pride, I’ll incorporate them into my outfits so they match. I’d love the idea of an option for socks, because not every runner has a lululemon body. I totally get and respect your sizes are your sizes but maybe next year you’ll think of all shapes, sizes and remember its more than just about the miles.
Every single one of us who ran on Saturday, ran the streets of Toronto with pride and happiness. But some of us just can’t be fully part of the “cool kids” cause our shirts just don’t fit. So think about it for next year…. socks. (Cause I’d take a pair of socks now). My shirt is just going to the back of the closet.
But thank you again for an amazing experience but really think about the socks.
Yours in running
Now on to the guts….
Last year this was my come back run from having major life surgery. I had never ran a 10k before, and this was all new to me. I was nervous, I had my new found running buddy Alex (who I met day of run), running with me, keeping me going and not letting me stop. When I was coming to the finish my whole running family brought me home. I felt and still cry when I tell people this story, I felt like I was coming home and all I still feel is the love from that day.
This year it was #MeVsMe my goal was to finish and if possible set a new course record. This run had a first for me; I was not that last corral before the walkers, I was a corral up. I was the leader of the back of the pack. I was going to make sure everyone got to the finish.
I knew from the start I went out to fast, I felt like I made a rookie move and the whole time running down University I kept saying I need to slow down. When Blair sees these splits hes going to be upset. Once I got into the grove of things which took about a km I readjusted my goal, to just maintain a pace, run more and walk less. Push my body, but listen to my body. My goal was only to walk the “ramps” and pay attention to my asthma as it was HOT and sunny again, with no breeze.
Once I got to the area where I was meeting runners coming back into the finish, I started seeing my running family, this is where these people became my wings. I saw them, heard the cheers, the claps and the yelling to dig deep. So I dug deep.
I crossed the finish with a new course personal record and took 9mins off last years time. I pushed myself and I am proud of myself. I actually surprised myself.
I ran 10k to get my medal from Allison, who volunteered. I had my family giving me this medal in which I loved the journey to get it. So it was completely special to me.
Now on to a more ethical note about this run, they had towels that they were handing out at the finish (you know those ones you get from buffet restaurants or riding the VIA first class), but by the time I got to the finish there was none left, to me if you do the math they should of had one for each participant…. I actually stopped a group of runners who each had approximately 10 or so in their check bag, and basically told them to give me one, as there is none left and runners still out on the course. I said really one per person is the rule, common sense and a respect thing. But I smiled when I said all this.
People often forget there is a back half of a run, who have paid the same fee as you, ran the same distance as you, so next time you grab 2-3 banana’s or multiple bagels, ask yourself this….
Are there still runners out there?
Do they deserve to have food/water/treats when they finish?
Remember what took you 40 or so minutes to run a 10k, there is still a runner out there who will cross at 1:31 (ie me), who deserves the same as what you get, because really I might want a banana (the bananas on Saturday looked like they had been squished, opened and there was only about 20 left). So think before you grab!
I will be back next year, regardless that again I said again its too hot, but this run is becoming tradition to be my “spring finale” until the fall season kicks in. My asthma wins in July and August and this year I am listening to the team of specialists. I only have one body.
So thank you CRS for the excitement of the run, happy crowds and awesome medal.
I’ll see you next year.
This was the first time this running series was brought to Canada. It was on the bucket list for sure to do! I was beyond fortunate to be selected as an ambassador. I was able to be me, speak to women throughout my travels (and runs) to bring the idea forward of a diva filled women’s run.
The week before this run, my body fought me and won. I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and had a nice stay. All week leading up to this run, I was doubting my ability of evening being able to tie my runners without the side effects of the medication / treatment plan (to keep me going). All week I suffered. I told myself that just showing up was the victory, but even if I started and got a “DNF”, this did not change my ability as runner, it didn’t change me as a person. It was just me being smart and my body was talking to me. So yesterday I went in with the intention of just supporting women, doing a half marathon in the mind frame of I was going out there to pick daisies and make art from cloud shapes. There was no time in my mind.
Yesterday, well summer surely hit yesterday in Toronto. Monday we were freezing and yesterday we had a medical examiner heat advisory in effect. I was not prepared. My lungs were not prepared. But again, I was just going out to pick daises and try. I was just going to show up.
A couple of hiccups with the run was Toronto Island is flooded. So the course had to be changed last minute, this is nothing the organizers had control of, so we ended up on a pretty blah course, with very very very little shade. This didn’t deter women from supporting each other as they passed each other, had random conversations and just kept checking on each other. This is what women are about. We support each other.
Arriving for the run yesterday, I dressed cool as possible with the weather being so HOT. Koren and I started in wave 3. We were shot off around 8:48am. The sun was up but we had this breeze that was amazing. We started out slow and steady. My goal; just try to maintain a pace, not fall back and not give my body a chance to say… “STOP”. The side effects of the meds were still very present but I just said I’m tougher than this body. I will win. I battle daily with this basically invisible illness, I fight myself daily to stay out of the hospital, so I had to be the tough one yesterday and beat my body. It was a mental fight.
The course was an out and back, so we were constantly surrounded by Diva’s running. It was nice to see people, hear encouragement and just have so much positive vibes, even in the extreme heat.
When we hit the last 4 kms it was high sun and it was bad. I stopped to offer my nuun (hydration pack) to women who were suffering from the heat, we checked on women as we passed them. I knew I was suffering from the heat as I had goosebumps, and I was cold. I just said to Koren, please don’t let me go down. Lets get this done.
I crossed. I finished. Yesterday I won. Barely, but I did it. I earned the bling. I am a Diva.
I was happy to see many of my running family out yesterday, to the Holman family and to Mike and his wife Rose, I am thankful for these people, the cheerleaders and the supporters. You at times keep the wind blowing in my sails.
I can’t thank Koren enough for just putting up with my “ugly” and my emotions yesterday, there was times I thought of myself as crazy etc, but I actually felt good keeping a good pace, to what I thought I was going to be. I felt that I maintained a steady run. I didn’t push myself. I didn’t make my lungs scream at me. The only thing that hurt was my feet (I still have the blister from running my last half in Ottawa).
Anyone who has a complaint about yesterday’s run, remember hiccups were bound to happen as this was the first time it was here in Canada, as well as having 2 weeks to come up with a big plan B. Mother nature didn’t help. I know that next year they will make it great, hiccups will be ironed and and who knows it could be snowing come June, we can’t predict the weather, but just roll with it. Plus you did see the firefighters, although I wish they had the hose going and spraying us down at the end cause it was hot 😉
I was happy to be a part of this and I want to thank the Run Like a Diva Series (Canada) for letting me be a part of this. I truly felt empowered yesterday, and it was an amazing day full of positive. I’ll be back, because I need to keep my Diva status.
Ottawa Marathon Weekend, also known as Ottawa Race weekend.
What everyone first needs to understand about this weekend is; It’s the City of Ottawa welcoming you in, as if you are family. Restaurants, stores and attractions all were offering deals and specials, to make this weekend memorable. Everyone was talking to everyone, and the most often heard question was “are you here running”, which always opened the door to more conervsations.
Everyone had a fan, a cheerleader and a random stranger congratulating you.
Now on to the other good stuff….
Team Awesome! When I was selected to be a part of this family of strangers (minus a couple of peple I knew from my Toronto running family) I was excited and nervous. I was thankful that Ottawa Marathon took the risk in selecting me as I am a back of the half runner to be part of this unit.
I loved engaging on all forms of Social Media with Team Awesome as well as with other runners who ran this weekend, I had many people reach out to me and seek advice and just chat about training and all things the love of running with the challenges.
When I went to Ottawa and met these amazing people I felt like I had known them for years, this weekend just built the foundation for friendships.
So thank you for allowing me the honour of being a part of this amazing run and team awesome.
This expo is in such an awesome building which you basically went from the bottom to the top to get your bib, shirt and visit the vendors and sponsors of the run. It was great seeing old faces, getting hugs and volunteering at the iRun booth as well as seeing my nuun family. I love and always will love engaging with other runners and their family. I love hearing the whys, the nerves and the emotions. We all have been there and each run is different to each of us.
Now…. Preparing for this half
I went into this half marathon feeling ready. I was coming off an amazing 10k a couple of weeks before and I just felt ready. I went and saw my lung specialist and received the news that my lungs hadn’t improved but to continue doing what I needed to do, be careful and understand my body. I always listen to my body and trust in myself. There just are times that with the weather etc the conditions just suck, but at no time does it every cross my mind to stop.
The day of the run, half marathoners start at 9am and depending on corral spot of the actual start, I was in Red… no this did not mean I was in the first corral off, I was in the last corral which was where I belong.
Koren chose to run with me because she wanted to see if I could push for a new time. Plus her training with everything that has happened in the last month was not where she wanted it to be. But you know…. life happens and this is allowed.
On my way back to the Red (best corral), I ran into Robin who is a member of team awesome, he was great with me, he gave me advice on the course, told me there was no hills (not sure if we both have the same idea of no hills), gave a good description, but mostly he relaxed me. Made me feel at ease and ready. So Robin if you read this, thank you.
While in our corral I started talking to a girl who had never run a half before. I basically told her that with the heat we would be going slow and steady but pushing ourselves when we could, I said she could woggle along with us and we would make sure she finished. I told her I wasn’t going to go for time but for the victory of just crossing the finish line. I was happy to forego anytime to help a first timer cross the finish. I was able to offer her advice as to water stations, electrolytes and when to push and not, how to save energy for the end of the run so you could push it home. I was happy to help her and mostly see her finish her first half marathon. I once was her, so I fully got it. Everyone needs to do a run where you take someone under your wing, guide them and be their wings when they need it. This wasn’t my first time nor will it be my last time in helping a random stranger out.
I did have 2 asthma attacks on course, the first one hit around km 18, where one of the xtra mile crew, helped me, walked with me as I got my wings back. The next time we had an xtra mile person help us was getting us to the finish line I think by this time with the sun beating down on us for 3 hours, little wind we were just running on fumes, I crossed the finish line and to be honest I don’t remember much after that, but the medics helped me and I got a free wheel chair ride until my puffer kicked in. I think at this point I felt bad for the girl we ran with, that she was running with a half broken runner, but she was happy.
We ran the streets of Ottawa, saw some pretty crazy and funny signs, had residents hose us down, stand out and offer us refills for hydration packs and bottles. I kept my sponge and kept getting it wet at each water station to help keep me cool. The misters were great. The cops, fire men and volunteers along the way were just awesome. It was amazing to see a city out supporting all of us.
The only two negatives I had to this whole run was the weather and water stations out of nuun. The hot sun beating down on you, and this course offers little shade. If I could of went off with the marathoner’s at 7:30am, I’d loved it. It would of been cooler, and the sun wouldn’t of been so hot. I’m in the back half of a run, we are out there longer then most and we feel the heat much longer. I was thankful I had my hydration pack on me, but others didn’t and I could see them suffering. It took us until the 3rd water station to have nuun and after that it was just hit and miss, if any had it. Even when we crossed the finish there was no nuun being offered only water. This is a very important part of recovery after a run.
I’ll be back Ottawa. I have a course time to beat. I have more friends to meet and I loved the city vibe for the weekend. It was a truly special weekend.
Thank you Ottawa and Team Awesome for the memories. I collected a lot! 💜
There is always a time you forget why you even started or what made the change happen, to me I look at these two versions of me and I first off see beauty. Regardless I’ve always been beautiful.
The picture on the left is a version of me who was just a beach bum. Take me south, let me have drinks and just sit. I was “that can go to the back burner” sort of thinking.
When I hit my 30’s I took myself more serious, I started to realize my doctors just gave me the answers I wanted to hear. I started to push back, demanded more. I joined the gym to be serious. I started to focus on me.
Many don’t realize this but it will 3 years in a couple of months since I had my last sip of alcohol. I gave it up for me. To be a better version of me. It was not a need for me to be me.
I took control over foods entering my body. I learned to say no and realize that I don’t need to feel guilty saying it. I cut my food enablers off, told them all no more. I pushed further with my health and learned and got answers as to why on a lot. I tossed away plates and bought smaller plates. Small things lead to big changes.
I took up running. Yes both versions of me ran but I learned to fall in love with it. I learned to be the voice for the back half. I learned I can do anything if I push myself.
I made my own transformation when I took back my life and decided to quite hiding behind the “fat Jodie”. I left the safe zone.
My journey has included hills, valleys, mountains and straight stretches, but this is life. My story.
I’m beautiful. I’m me. I’ve never changed, but my back bone has grown tougher. My confidence is soaring within the clouds. I’m me and this journey as bumping, windy and curvy roads it’s far from over.
Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle and that includes your determination and goals.
I was never anticipating, thinking in my wildest mind that I would even make this list just because I’m me.
I am honoured to be in this magazine, to be acknowledged and let the world see that you don’t need to be a perfect to be a runner. You don’t need the perfect body. Your weight doesn’t define you. Nothing defines you, the only limit you have is yourself and your mind.
I am taking this to heart that being a good person, honest runner and mostly being true to myself in turn gives you recognition. I truly believe that I’ve inspired just one person. One person to try, to not be afraid of running in the day light, not afraid to start their own personal journey.
I believe that running never discriminates, which I never felt when I started running at well over 300lbs. I never felt people were looking at me, judging me or looking down at me. This community is full of nothing but supporters, cheerleaders and behind the scenes people.
I would and wish more people understand that there is no reason not to start. I am not a perfect runner, as you will see from previous blog posts that if you run with me be prepared to walk. I’m not a perfect but I’m damn well trying my best.
By being showcased in this magazine across Canada, I’m hoping it shows that perfect is just a state in your mind, its not a status, not a thing, its just a word, we all are perfect in our own ways. Just showing up to the start is the victory and that makes you a runner.
Don’t let fear stop you from trying. Don’t let fear being the excuse.
I am still humbled and still speechless I even made this magazine, but I’m truly thankful to be given this opportunity.
Please have a read of iRun magazine and check out the other amazing people who are in the 150, along with myself.
I signed up for this run, not only for the amazing cause that it supports, but for the fact I had not done a 10k since June of 2016 and this one worked out with my schedule.
I had heard mixed reviews from all levels of runners about this run. I went in with my training with eyes wide open and just to go out and have fun. On Sunday I said the victory was just showing up to the start line. I had no goals in time but to just beat my first ever 10k time, even if only by a second. I talked to my coach all week and just was telling him, I was unsure if my lungs could handle me going full speed, and expressed a lot of concerns. I had a lot of self doubt.
Run day, I met this amazing woman named Pat in the corral, she is truly a beautiful soul and we discussed the Toronto Island, running the Diva run, her age and everything in between. She showed me that age doesn’t slow one down nor does getting a few new parts. She truly is an inspiration for just showing up.
This run, I knew right away I took off too fast and talked to myself to slow my pace down by the 3km mark. It was the first run that I can say I randomly just kept pushing myself to keep going, not to give in when my body wanted to walk. I slowed during water stations to grab some water, check my body to see if my puffer was needed.
At the 7km point the sun was out full blazing and I kept thinking, I am soon going to see my Tribe Fitness family and that will be the push I need. I know this cheer section is going to get me across.
When I finally saw Heather and the gang, coming up in the straight stretch this was the push I needed, the high fives and the fact I knew I had this. I was ready to almost beg one of them to run me home, I was ready to stop, my lungs were screaming at me, but I knew I had this. To anyone who has never heard of Tribe fitness please check them out, they are the real deal.
I crossed that finish line, was able to get my garmin stopped before I had 2 medics with me asking where my puffer was, I pushed myself. I had to have assistance in getting out of the way. Once I got my puffer in me, walked a bit, got some oxygen I was fine.
I turned the corner and saw Koren dancing, she had yet to go and get her medal, she waited for me so we could go together. She was yelling out to me about my new PB. I was still grasping that I did this run, by more running than walking, faster than I was thought I could do.
The light went off. I searched my time and realized I had a new PB. I took 12mins and 29 seconds off my previous 10k time. I still was in shock, and not sure it was true.
So this positive run and everything that came with pushing myself a bit farther in being uncomfortable has me mentally prepared for my Ottawa Marathon weekend half. I know I can do it, I know that digging deep is just that digging deep.
So I’m now preparing mentally and physically for my next challenge, Ottawa Half marathon.
Yesterday it was my running anniversary. My first every registered run was Toronto Goodlife on May 5, 2013. I love how Facebook reminds me of such events. I did my first ever 5k in 51:46 mins. I’ve improved over the last four years but this doesn’t mean that I haven’t had set backs, crawl backs and stumbles, this journey has not been perfect and that is perfectly ok with me.
I’ve often had people ask me why I started running or what got me involved to become a runner, it was pretty simple after always being the cheerleader for my friends, I couldn’t come up with a justifiable reason on why I couldn’t be a runner. There was no reason a plus size person could not be a runner.
When I first started out the biggest hurdle I faced was trying to find clothing to fit a plus size person that didn’t make me feel like I was wearing a snow suit, which just made the sweat even worse, plus there was no such thing as “pretty clothing”. My next hurdle was going to running stores to discuss shoes. Not many people understood my concerns with needing shoes that take the weight of my body and keep my body from not hurting. People were looking at me like I was crazy at being over 300lbs and saying I’m a runner.
Now that I look back at it, I never once looked at a my weight as an excuse not to run, not to try. My weight never defined me. I never said I can’t to any run that I’ve come across. I never once thought to myself I can’t do this as people will stop and stare, or judge me. I was tired of letting people judge me, they didn’t mean a thing to me.
In the last four years I have grown more confident. I believe in me and love myself more now. I’ve changed as a person and grown more as a person. I’ve grown more confident in the goals that I’ve set, the dreams I’ve drummed up. I don’t back down, I chase the finish line just like everyone else.
I’ve learn to trust my body, trust the process and realize it never will let me down. What I put in, it gives back. It doesn’t cheat me. I can only cheat myself in not training.
This journey has brought some pretty amazing people into my life, I’ve met random strangers now turned friends in race corrals while waiting for the horn, I’ve travelled to run in their hometowns and I know I also have a support team ready to help me if I should ever hit a low point, they make sure I keep going. These people are family.
Although I’ve lost over 110lbs, changed my looks, my heart has not changed. I always will be the leader of the back of the pack, I’ll never podium, but I’ll always continue to be me. You don’t need to be perfect to be a runner.
So thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me, 2017 is looking to be another excellent year for me to continue to grow as a runner. Your support always means the world to me and I keep it close to my heart. Knowing I have each of you at times gets me through those tough moments.