Moving On From Self Doubt

Yesterday I ran the EY River Run Classic Half Marathon.

RIVER CITY 2011
This was my first ever half marathon, back in August of 2011. (above)
I had just finished nursing school, just started my dream job as an emergency RN, just got married, and was in the best shape I had ever been in up to that point. I was able to train with three friends who through running became some of my best friends.
The race kicked my butt. It was painful, it was hot, it was hard. I left feeling more accomplished than any other day in my life. Non-athletic Sarah just did something few complete. She ran a half-marathon. Running was an outlet, a way to prove to myself I was capable of anything I set my mind to.

Flash forward to July 10, 2011: it was a humid, overcast day. One of my best friends and mentors signed up, and paid the $70 just to pace me. I was full of expectations. There was no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t achieve my 6-year goal of running a half marathon in two hours and thirty minutes-just one month ago I ran a 2:34 with digestive issues.

By 8km my  mind started to collapse. I started trailing behind, loosing time. I started thinking about how stupid I was for trying to conquer such a lofty goal (4 minutes faster in less than a month). My toe went numb, and then incredible pain. I was nauseated, my hands were swollen. I started working myself up so much I couldn’t breath because I was fighting back tears.
This is pretty much how the rest of the race went. I beat myself up emotionally. “You can’t do it”, “Just quit now”, “Why did you ever think you could do this? You aren’t an athlete!”, “What a bad friend, wasting Rebecca’s time”…. and on and on it went.

I knew my goal was gone….and then a few minutes later, a PR was also gone. I basically whined, and cried on and off from 8km all the way to 20km. I was ready to pull out my debit card and call a cab. I threatened to hitch hike home. I didn’t fuel properly, because I had already given up in my head. I drank way too much water, not enough salt…and hardly any carbs. Becky wouldn’t leave me. She encouraged me. She pushed me to work harder, and she pulled back when she saw emotionally I couldn’t push harder. She tried to remind me, just ONE MONTH ago, this would be a GREAT time.

At 2:42, 3rd to last, with tears streaming down my face, I crossed the finish line.

RIVER CITY RUN 2016

Today, after almost a full 24 hours of sulking, it brings tears to my eyes. Not because I am upset with myself for the time anymore-but because I was my own enemy. My own self-though process destroyed me. The race was over in my head after it had barely just started physically.

I took my time to sulk. I am now surpassing those demons that told me I wasn’t good enough on race day. I am good enough. I am MORE than ENOUGH.

I am pulling out of the full marathon in September, not because I think I can’t do it…I know I can. I want to love running. The best part of running is the self awareness, and confidence it gives me…. I lost that somewhere in this race.

I have two more half marathons this summer, one in august and September (switched down from the full). My biggest goal being to show myself love, and the love of running again. Run for enjoyment. Run to prove to myself I am ENOUGH.

…Because I am. 🙂 On to bigger, better things. SEE YA LATER SELF DOUBT.

Perspective

Per-spec-tive
Noun
1. the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.
2. a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

It is incredible how as humans, we have such ability to change our perspectives based on experiences.
I find it so interesting when you actually look at the definitions of perspective, you find at first a description which does not seem to fit with emoting. Two dimensional surfaces,  drawn in a way to so you can see them differently. How mechanical…but isn’t that really all the second definition is too? Our attitudes are so two dimensional, until we add our experiences and emotions giving them a three dimensional meaning.
Have I lost you?
Where are you getting with this Sarah?

My perspective has once again shifted. Having blurred my outlook, and lived in my own grief for a little while, I have had new experiences to shift my attitude, and give me a new perspective.

I find myself so INSPIRED.
I am LUCKY. I have been surrounded in a tribe of STRONG WOMEN. In my saddest, most selfish moments I have never been far from someone who is ready to pick me up, ask how I am feeling, share their story, allow me to open my mind and heart to the world and let beautiful things in again.

In so many ways my infertility has blessed me. I have become rooted in deep friendships and bonds which I doubt I would have found without a little struggle….

You see, we are all a little bit broken. Thats what makes this life journey so beautiful. That is what BONDS us. Our ability to change our PERSPECTIVES and see; the world is beautiful. The brokenness allows for such beautiful GROWTH, LOVE, SUPPORT, PERSEVERANCE. 

People die, hearts get broken, trust gets destroyed, dreams get shattered.
But isn’t this why we DREAM? Isn’t this why we HOPE? So we can take one step further away from the things that slay us, and into the light and beauty of this world.

I have a little saying that I now  find myself uttering  as my mantra. When I want to complain about how tired or broken I am, how my legs can’t run a step further, my heart can’t break again, how I want to GIVE UP; I find myself saying :

Everything worth having is HARD. The best things require HARD WORK. PUSH HARDER.

As we head in to Infertility Awareness Week in Canada, I just want you to know. You are not aloneWE (that 1 in 6 couples…and every single person who didn’t get married and have 2.3 children by 34 like society told them to) are not alone.

Dream. Hope. Want. Work for…. because even if you get a little broken along the way…
There is so much beauty in the broken, and WE have your back.

Not For the Faint of Heart: Fertility Treatments, IUI #1

READER BEWARE; I have spared no details regarding an entire month of fertility treatments-if you are disgusted by ‘cycles’, or medical things…or even hormonal emotions….Turn away now.

I have chronicled our first round of Intrauterine Insemination (Artificial Insemination) with injectables as a diary of sorts. Each day I checked in to show what I was going through. Here is our deeply personal, overly TMI month…. 

CD1: I have been VERY emotional, and crampy today. Part of me is so sad I didn’t naturally get pregnant last cycle [this is the first time I have ever cried-damn hope]….the other part of me is part terrified, part excited for IUI. There is SO much waiting in the journey of infertility! GAH! I called the fertility clinic to set up our IUI-which I was supposed to do today and I didn’t get anyone-FOUR TIMES! The answering machine says to call back tomorrow….*fingers crossed* it goes smoothly. I work tomorrow so I am a little irritated we couldn’t get everything planned out today.

CD2: After playing phone tag while I was trying to also work, I finally got to speak with the nurses at the clinic. They were so kind and helpful and totally eased my frustration and nerves. I start Letrozole tomorrow, one pill daily. I am feeling SO emotional this cycle which is very unlike me. Even the hubby commented on how emotional I am-I don’t usual get mood swings with my cycles. I feel like I am on the verge of tears all the time!!! Must just be the fertility jitters? I am crying over commercials! What is wrong with me! Ha!

CD3: Letrozole day one. Worried for side effects-the drug sheet warns of bald spots, mood swings, hot flashes, etc… EEk….

CD4: Went to church today….relaxed with the hubby…. Letrozole day 2. G has expressed slight panic about having to give me the HCG injection.

CD5: I have now taken the Letrozole twice-third dose tonight out of 5 total doses. Zero side effects so far. My emotions have calmed down a lot, and I am getting very excited. I wish time would pass more quickly this week! I have a follicle ultrasound on friday morning which will show if I am ovulating properly this month(if an ‘egg’ is going to be released, and aprox. when) and then hopefully will be doing our IUI next tuesday or wednesday. I find it slightly annoying that our clinic doesn’t do IUI on the weekends (it is a long weekend, and my proper cycle days line up on weekends) but oh well. Hopefully timing is on our side and it doesn’t matter!:) The plan is to go home this weekend and visit my parents-should help take our minds off the imminent IUI. Need to start planning things to keep us busy the two weeks after IUI so I am not thinking about IF we are preggo 24/7!!!!!!!! A super sweet friend agreed to help with the HCG injection so G won’t need to. He will be SO relieved.

CD6: We keep talking about baby names…pregnancy announcements. I think we are delusional. We are building this insane hope which I know is so dangerous. I wish I could stop myself and get back to my slightly cynical self which had developed over the past 3 years. Its a lot easier to deal with bad news when you aren’t hopeful.

CD7: Hope continues. Getting excited for our ultrasound on friday to date my follicles(if any). I keep thinking..man….by the end of October I will be pregnant…or know we can’t get pregnant this way. INSANE.

CD8: Worked all day.Awkward encounter: a girl was talking about infertility and blah blah blah. Essentially acting like she was the queen of knowledge, although admitting she had never struggled. She basically said that I didn’t have a right to opinion unless I was in the infertility position. I basically told her… Yah well, jokes on you because I am. Some people are so stupid-you have no idea what people are going though! SO many people feel they have to hide infertility, watch what you say! Im sure there are thousands of people who would be so aggravated by her and not say anything…thankfully I have chosen to be transparent in our journey! I don’t usually stand up for myself in those situations and I am SO glad I did. I have been craving mcdonalds french fries like CRAZY…..I don’t think that is a side effect of anything-I think I am just a french fry fiend…

CD9: I didn’t experience any side effects of the letrozole which is such a relief. I had my follicle-tracking ultrasound today. It was with a different doctor as mine was out of the office, but she was equally nice and friendly. My nurse is the wife of a doctor I work with which was also cool-we had lots to talk about, taking some of the nervousness away. My ultrasound showed two good follicles on the left- one 9mm and another 11mm. There were some follicles on the right but they were much smaller. From what I have read you need your follicles to be more than 14-16mm to release typically…but I still have 4 days for that to happen. One may release, or two. That gives us a chance of twins-which would be a blessing, but man would I prefer ONE baby at a time. haha. Of course, we will be happy for whatever we get, if we achieve pregnancy. Nervously hopeful. Sunday night will be HCG injection day and then IUI will be tuesday morning. We will be out of town so hopefully someone can do my shot since my friend won’t be able to if we are away. *Note to self* Wear a dress for future appointments. Its super awkward walking to the ultrasound in your paper sheet with nothing down below….

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CD10: Went boating/icecream with the parents and then had a camp fire in the backyard and decided to have an impromptu camp out since we had our tent, and I just needed to be under the stars.

CD11: Went fishing with my Dad and then returned right on time. HCG injection was this night. Surprisingly didn’t hurt a bit-my Dad did it for me since Graeme was too nervous.

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CD12: Woke up with morning sickness? Possibly from the shot…not sure. Lasted until mid afternoon when I ate a heavier meal and then I was just peachy. Started having some left sided cramping which is where my follicles were-so hopefully that is indicating ovulation.

CD13: Went in for IUI today. G gave his sample and then we went for breakfast while it was washed and prepared. The sample was a good count, but poor motility. This is a little disheartening as the last time we were told it had improved. I guess it just varies day-to-day. The doctor said she felt we could have success still though, so *fingers crossed*. The IUI was a little painful. They inserted the catheter through my cervix after a few minutes of not being able to get it in…then ensued major cramping. Like bad period cramps. They let my spasms calm a bit and then injected the sample. I then laid on the table for 10 minutes before going home. So glad I wore a dress! Its now almost an hour post procedure and I am still cramping/contstant need to pee…so hopefully that calms down. Taking it easy until tonight when I work-doc says working should be fine. (ps. my doc was still out of the office…so it was the other doctor) Now begins the two week wait until we get a blood pregnancy test to see if it works!

CD14: This is torture. All I can think about is if I will be pregnant or not. I just want to blurt it out to everyone. I can’t stop googling things I already know. Im so afraid I could cry. I just want this to work so badly. I feel relatively good today-a few minor twinges in my right side…nothing major. Im TRYING desperately to forget about all of this for a few days…but it is impossible, I am obsessed. Obsessed over if it will work…if I am doing anything wrong…obsessed over trying to figure out how we could afford IVF if necessary…etc.

CD18: Still going INSANE. I can’t believe it hasn’t even been a full week. Having some VERY light spotting. Makes me worried my progesterone is too low-I have read up a lot about having progesterone checks which my clinic doesn’t do…annoying. Progesterone is important to prevent you from miscarriage if you DO implant. Ive also had some occasional pangs in my low abdomen…its really sensitive. I think this is probably just a)psychosomatic or b)side effects of the injection

CD19: Oh you know. Insanity remains. Getting slightly more hopeless-more spotting today. Woke very nauseated, ate some toast and it improved. Later in the afternoon got very nauseated and exhausted all at the same time. Was planning to get back out and run finally tonight but I think I’m going to have to wait since Im feeling generally crummy today. I think I might just be getting sick! I think I may be spotting too much to have anything happen. Really wishing I was having progesterone checks. I have to keep reminding myself of the thing I told G the first day-“We will have a wonderful life whether or not we have a baby or not”
After G got home from work I started noticing a heightened sense of smell-or he is more smelly than normally. I couldn’t even tolerate it…I fell NAUSEATED from his sweaty work self and sent him straight to the shower. Meds have such a funny effect. I have also started having VERY vivid dreams of taking a positive pregnancy test. It is heart-breaking to wake up from these dreams.
CD20:  Broke down and checked a urine preg test- It was negative-which just means it is too early to check, and also that my HCG shot is out of my system. Ive been having a lot of spotting similar to before I get my period.
CD21: Ive decided Im going to test every other morning now until blood test day-I don’t want to fall apart on the phone with the stranger when it is negative-I’d like to already know…

CD22: Someone walked in on a conversation regarding fertility with a friend and with zero knowledge of our journey crassly told me I just needed to “RELAX”. I swear, if another person says that to me I might loose it. EDUCATE YOURSELF. Infertility has nothing to do with if I can relax or not after 3 years. Our specialist says that after 2 years of trying to conceive the chances of naturally conceiving are less than 10%.  1 in 6 couples in canada can’t conceive by JUST RELAXING. UGH. Got a negative preg test…but then I left it on the counter and an hour later came back to see a faint positive. Ive looked online a lot and apparently this is an ‘evaporation line’….you can’t read a negative preg test after 10 minutes. I was stupidly optimistic…

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CD25: How silly of me to have gotten my hopes up. 12 days post IUI…something should start showing by now if I was pregnant. Big Fat Negative. Time to start preparing myself for IUI #2. 😦 I feel silly to have started off so hopeful. this is our 36th month. Not looking forward to going through another cycle- I didn’t expect it to be so emotional. If I can’t have babies….why do I need to deal with this? I wish there was a way to just stop periods forever other than birth control and I also wish there was a way to know 100% if I would eventually conceive or not. This period of unknown sucks. I just want to be able to grieve and move on if I can’t have a child…

CD26: Feeling in much better spirits today. AF arrived and I just feel clear in the head. Happy to have a week break from thinking about fertility stuff before more appointments and what not. Start letrozole again on wednesday. Will be talking with the doctor at my next ultrasound to discuss possibly starting progesterone since I had spotting most days this month. My plan is to get back into running my normal amount-I hope that will help with the emotional whirlwind that is infertility. “We will have a wonderful life with or without children.” Filling up my social calendar for the next month feels great-I love knowing I will be busy. ALSO my best friend moved back home this weekend which I KNOW will help!:)

CD26 LATE EVENING: AF is gone. Now I just feel confused and emotional again. AHHHHH. I can’t wait for the HCG blood test tomorrow to confirm what I already know. I just want to move on. I really wish I didn’t have to go through this again…. But if we want to have a family we don’t have much of a choice. I have never had such an emotional journey in my life-I often find myself wishing I could be more removed from the whole situation. I am normally a relatively positive person and I just feel so negative…
People who continuously complain about their children are increasingly driving me nuts. Its so hard to hold back from saying something cruel. I just want to scream and tell them how damn lucky they are. Yet-every person who doesn’t want a pregnancy seems to be getting pregnant. Thanks world. Thanks. See what I mean-I should probably just keep my cynical hormone injection thoughts to myself so I don’t offend every good person in the world, right?

CD27: I went for blood work at 9am this morning, called the clinic at 10:30 and then again at 14:00 and still at 15:21 no one has called me back. I was so calm knowing the results……but now I have ZERO bleeding. As in..no spotting, no period…for the first time since IUI. What the heck? I NEED THESE PEOPLE TO CALL AND DEFINITIVELY TELL ME IM NOT PREGNANT BEFORE I LOOSE IT! In other news, I was very nauseated again this morning. I DID eat dairy two days in a row though, so I could be to blame.

Later on CD 27: The clinic finally called me back. HCG NEGATIVE. I am positively not pregnant. They do think it odd that we can’t figure out if my cycle is over or not yet though. Im to wait it out a couple days and see what happens. I have instant relief. Im not sad. I feel completely and utterly content finally. I have some time to just relax and not worry for a bit now until round two starts…Its incredible how emotional this journey is-I never fathomed I would be that person clinging to every little sign of hope. On to another cycle, another try.

Lo Mein [Gluten Free, Vegan]

Two weeks until the last marathon of the year. This means its time to clean up my diet, and put only good things in. This also means it is time to start introducing a few extra carbs! Here’s a way to do both, while satiating a chinese take-out craving [something that doesn’t come gluten-free in my city].

Low Mein [Gluten Free, Vegan]

All Veggie servings are approximate as  you can just use what you have/need to use up for this recipe. I just kept adding until my pan was too full! This recipe takes about 20 minutes start to finish and reheats well.

Makes 4-6 servings

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400g Rice noodles

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp canola oil

3 cups stir-fry mix (Mine had broccoli, carrots, sugar peas…all pre-chopped)

1 cup bean sprouts, chopped

1.5 cup baby bokchoy, chopped

1 can drained water chestnuts

1 can drained mini corn

2 cups broth (I used vegetable)

2 tbsp corn starch

Sauce

3 tbsp tamari + extra according to taste

1 tbsp minced ginger (I used ginger paste)

2 tbsp raw cane sugar

2 tbsp sesame oil

5 cloves garlic, minced

Heat frying pan over medium heat. Add oil and onion and cook until onions are translucent. While onions are cooking, make rice noodles. Cover noodles in a bowl with boiling water + 1 cup broth, drain once noodles are slightly firmer than al dente. Whisk sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Once onions are translucent, add stir fry mix and cover with lid. Cook until crisp but tender, aprox 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables, including water chestnuts, as well as the final cup of broth. Add sauce. Allow vegetable to soften, aprox. 2 minutes.

Drain vegetables, reserving the sauce. Add sauce back to pan along with rice noodles and corn starch which has been dissolved in a small amount of water. Allow rice noodles to finish softening. Once noodles are soft, toss in vegetable mixture. Heat until sauce has reduced slightly, aprox. 1 minute.

Once removed from heat, drizzle with sesame oil and serve. If you desire more flavour, drizzle with extra tamari.

To reheat, add a few tbsp warm water to a pan with serving, or put in microwave with a cup of water beside dish to retain moisture.

NOTE: If you would like to add some protein, chopped firm tofu, scrambled eggs, or chicken would be best added with onions at the beginning. I prefer to keep it vegan.

Buh-Bye Sugar!

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Due a general interest in increasing my energy, mood and health, I have decided to challenge myself to one month free of refined sugar or carbs. If you remeber from last summer- I began seeing a naturopath. Part of my journey to health involved cutting out refined sugar and carbs (as well as about 15 allergens and caffiene) for 6 weeks….but slowly over the year all the sugar snuck it’s way back in. I have been indulging in soda WAY more than appropriate (having a soda stream dosen’t help), as well as other ‘junk’. Being summer, it’s the easiest season to eat healthy…so why not! I’ll be travelling this week, so I am planning to start my plan May 29 and go until June 19. Wish me luck!

As I learned last year around this time, success is all in the planning. I know that cravings will come and I need to be prepared for both salty and sweet snacks. I also will need to amp up protein and fat to keep me satifsfied. I will try to share my meal-planning in case any of you want to follow along!=) I work shift work, so if I can do it…all of you 9-5er’s certainly can as well!=) FYI: I usually plan leftovers for lunches, hence no lunch categorie. For the 12 hour work days- I also bring leftovers for one meal plus eggs for another and tons of fruit and veg typically.

Breakfasts:

Omelettes (2-3 eggs + salt + pepper + almond milk + spinach + onion + mushroom + pepper + tomato)

Egg Cupcakes (bake shredded yam hash + sausage + eggs in cupcake tins in oven)

Monkey Salad (cashews + coconut chips + banana)

Fruit

Coffee and Vegan Creamer (Coconut Milk + dates + vanilla)

Snacks:

Monkey Salad

Fruit

Boiled Eggs with Salt

Dill Pickles

Turkey Wraps (Turkey + avocado + spinach)

Dinners:
May 29: Travelling, 7km run- Cobb Salad (bacon, egg, rotisserie chicken, tomato, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, black beans + vegan ranch)
May 30: 12 hr Day Shift
May 31: 12 hr Day Shift

June 1: 12 hr Day Shift

June 2: 12 hr Night Shift, Yoga- Baked Salmon (lemon, salt, pepper) + Kale/Mushrooms/Onion + Yam with coconut oil

June 3: 8km Run(last 4 race pace)- Yam Hash, Eggs, Sautee Kale or Spinach

June 4: 4km Run- Salad + Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken + Guacamole

June 5: 16km Run- Creamy Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Happy Eating!

Darkness

Darkness seems fitting. Daylight is elusive these days. The day-t0-day of going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark has begun. Relying on some running-high’s to keep my spirits in check with all of the darkness!

This week marks week one of my advanced 10km training plan. My plan is to train only 10km until christmas and then start half-marathon training again. This should have me ready for the Gopher Attack Half Marathon on April 18th. Well, I should be ready about a month before, but this will allow time for injury/illness/setbacks. Don’t want to set myself up to fail!

Week one is as follows:
5 min. warm up + 4.8 km at a comfortable pace
Cross Train for 45 minutes – Yoga
5 min. warm up + 4 km at 10 km race pace
5 min. warm up + 4.8 km at a comfortable pace
30 minute easy active recovery run

I am really looking forward to be working towards a goal again. Super bummed that we have reached winter weather however. It seems like the next six months will be the hardest six months to run. Pray for warm weather. I don’t do well beyond -15 C. May have to splurg on a track pass so I don’t turn hamster-crazy on the treadmill once we reach the weeks of -40 C.
I least I have my beautiful new mizuno’s to keep my soul warm. 😉

Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.  Earl Nightingale