Monday, February 16, 2015

Project Sweat Together

Because Sweating with Friends is more Fun...

I woke up yesterday in Canmore, knowing I wanted to run long and far in the mountains, but hadn't made a plan.  I called up my good friend, and rising star, 15 year old Lea McCroy.  We made a plan to hike Ha-ling in our microspikes.  We ran/hiked up through Grassi, and as we neared the trailhead for Ha-Ling, Lea was mid way through a story about having not accomplished her annual goal of running to Banff.  We had been talking about how important it was to set goals and take baby steps to make them happen.  And the things that got in the way.  I stopped.  "Well then let's do it!".

The Goat creek trailhead is adjacent to the Ha-Ling Trailhead so we turned, assessed our water and gear (I had a pack on that was NOT designed for running but it didn't really matter), and set off on the 18km trail to Banff.  We ran slowly, we chatted about life, boys, dreams, goals, sports psychology. Lea is a nordic ski racer and I can see big things in her future.  Especially with the mental strength and determination she exhibits.  She lost her mother at the age of four.  Her father, and one of my best friends, Heath, has done an incredible job raising her, in the very supportive and active community of Canmore.  Lea teaches me more than she realizes and I really enjoy hitting the trails with her, even if it only happens a few times a year.

It was great to share the run with her yesterday, and the sense of accomplishment on her face as we rode the transit bus back to Canmore.  It made me realize how much I enjoy seeing people knock down the goals they've set for themselves.

A few years ago I ran Trans Rockies.  When the training started, I honestly did not believe it would be possible to complete this race.  But once I had, I wanted to share the experience of doing the seemingly impossible with others.  I wanted them to feel that pride and sense of accomplishment.  I set up a challenge called the "Nothing is Impossible Marathon Challenge" and challenged anyone who accepted, to register for the Powderface Marathon, a classic and epic 44k run in the mountains near Calgary, Alberta.   You can read about that challenge further back in my blog archives.

I was so inspired by the people who took on and completed the challenge, especially my 58 year old father who had only really started running the year before.  And finishing that race with my dad was one of the best days of my life.  I was so incredibly proud of him.

Since that day, I've continued to race.  I've knocked down some pretty big goals.  The past few years have been challenging in a different way.  I switched from being a nutritionist to running a national trail running company with three of my best friends.  That, along with being a mom, has taken up all my energy and as much as I wanted to continue to train and race hard, I had to be realistic about what I was actually capable of.  Last year, in the middle of training to run a goal 36 minute 10k, I had to stop.  Something had to give and it certainly couldn't be kids or work.  I've continued to run, swim, bike and hike, but without a specific race in mind, more for fitness and sanity than anything else.  I've been racing for almost twenty years now.  Hard to believe.  And at this point, as I try to work myself up to run an even faster 10k or a sub 3 hour marathon, or take on a 50 miler, or 100k trail race, I just can't seem to get it.  Nothing is really inspiring me.

It finally occurred to me last week, in a conversation with someone I've never met, as he told me about his coach and how that coach had changed his life, that perhaps it was time to pay it forward again.

I realized that what I wanted was to inspire someone else again.  I think we're all here to help each other through some of the tough shit that life hands us.  And there is almost nothing better than going for a run or a ride with a friend, and just talking about life.  So much comes out when you're out there together.

My best friends are the ones I sweat with.  We laugh because with limited social time, often the friends that will sweat with you are the ones you connect with.  Combining social time and exercise in one shot.  Lately, I've been suggesting a lot of meetings happen over exercise instead of coffee or beer.  Even if it's just a walk.  Unless there is a full on snow storm out there, let's move together. Ideally in a beautiful, natural place like the mountains, or a city trail.  Without a race to train for, or a pace to stick to, I don't really care how fast we go, as long as we are together.  And sometimes we don't even have to talk, but it sure is nice to share ideas, experiences, stories.  To have someone to show up for.  How many times would I have procrastinated until dark, letting work get in the way, pushing the run to the next day, if I hadn't previously agreed to meet a friend for that run.  There are days where that first step out the door is the hardest, but once you're out, and within 5 minutes, you feel great and you go home feeling more focused and energized.

So I'm starting a new project.  It's called PROJECT SWEAT TOGETHER.

We're going to train together.  Pick and register for one of two epic races.  I'll be at both:

Trailstoke 55k Ultra on Aug 29, 2015
TransRockies Run3 Aug 11-13 in Colorado

I'm going to post runs on the Facebook group.  My goal will be to go every weekend at a minimum but I'm hoping others will post runs as well and we can all hit the trails together.  Not only is trail running safer in a group, but it's way more fun and we're more likely to do it if we set dates and times together.

So no matter who you are, where you live, what your pace or fitness level, let's give this a shot. Come play with us. It might be a run, a ski, a ride or even a hike.  And if you live too far away to join our runs, start your own but meet us at the race.  With an epic goal 6 months from now, there's nothing stopping us from succeeding.

Monday, February 4, 2013

At The Start Line

A new trail for 5Peaks Adventures with Amy Golumbia and Adam Campbell leading the way.
It is with honor and excitement that we announce the proud new owners of 5Peaks Adventures: Amy Golumbia and Adam Campbell. 
Amy Golumbia, nutritionist and owner of JumpStart Nutrition Clinics, mother of twin girls and competitive trail runner started trail running in her home town of Canmore, Alberta in the Rocky Mountains. Some of her first races were 5Peaks events at the Canmore Nordic Centre and the Delta in Kananaskis Country.  She has competed internationally for the Canadian Mountain Running Team twice and more recently has taken up the longer distances, having won two 50k races and placed 2nd in the team event at the TransRockies Run in 2010.  “The transition from teaching nutrition to sharing the trail running lifestyle I love so much was natural.” Golumbia said.
“I was so fortunate to grow up in a place where I could hit the trails right out my back door.  But not everyone has had the opportunity to experience trail running.  I want to share it with as many people as possible because of the freedom and challenge it offers.  Trail running for me is about more than just getting off the road.  It’s about thinking outside the box, doing something different, being open to anything the trail has to offer.  My daughters and I spend a lot of time outdoors and in the mountains.  I want them to have that same intimate relationship with nature as I do.  They’ve always participated in races I’ve done too but I’m thrilled to be able to raise them within the trail running community because of all of the incredible people it attracts.”
Adam Campbell is a Vancouver based lawyer and trail runner. He is considered one of Canada's most accomplished trail ultra marathoners over the past three years, having finished on the podium at major international races around the world.  He was recently named Canadian Trail Runner of the year.  A former International level triathlete, Adam's first trail race was a 5 Peaks race at Mt. Seymour in 2006 and following that event, he fell in love with the sport and has since dedicated his time and energy to exploring new trails around the world, but his favorite place to run remains the North Shore mountains where his trail running began. He's excited to introduce more people to the sport that he loves and to provide a great trail experience to runners of all ages and levels at 5 Peaks Adventure events. 
"While I love the solitude of day to day running, racing is a celebration of that hard work. It not only gives me a chance to experience new trails, it has also provided me a wonderful community of friends. I like to describe my racing as "suffering in beautiful places", sharing that sensation with fellow competitors leads to a strong bond and a special connection to the community and to the places I run. Trail running allows us to escape the routine of our daily lives and reconnects us with nature, this applies to runners of all speeds and abilities. The races that 5 Peaks Adventures put on are in some of the most stunning settings and attract a wonderful group of people. They are a wonderful celebration and are one of the reasons that I love the sport as much as I do. I look forward to meeting more people and running in new places through the series" says Adam.
Two of our partners, Mathew Bruneau and Rebecca Bruce, will be joining the Executive Team and bring many years of experience in Accounting, Finance, Business Analytics and Strategic Planning. 
Kathryn Stanton, the former owner of 5Peaks Adventures, had this to say about the change in ownership of the series she founded: “I could not be happier seeing 5Peaks go to such a great home. Getting to know Amy and Adam over the last several months, I know they are the right people to take this company to the next level. They have a lot of energy and some great ideas, and I can’t wait to toe the starting line at their events this year to do what I love most....trail run! I would like to thank the staff, volunteers and participants for all their support over the years. This is not the end, but the start of a new beginning, and I wish Amy and Adam all the success in the future of their trail and snowshoe running series."
Registration for 2013 in now open.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Happy Trails,

Amy and Adam

Monday, September 10, 2012

Learning to Fly Again

I wrote this blog a couple of weeks ago but didn’t want to post anything saying that I was healed in case it didn’t last.  But yesterday, after starting back to focused training two weeks ago, I competed in the Cause Canada half marathon.  I finished 2nd woman and am really happy with my time of 1:30 given how hilly the second half of the course was.  More trail than I was expecting for sure.  I have a lot of work to do between now and Toronto on Oct 14, where I will once again attempt to do a sub 3hr marathon if I can stay healthy and injury free.  And if not, that's OK too.

It’s 8am and I’m the first of four women to get up at a Rhonda’s cabin, where we’ve come for one of the last weekends of summer.  I’m usually the first one up and with no cell or internet service I am thrilled at the idea of a few moments of total peace, looking out the window at Upper Kananaskis lake before the others get up and coffee, breakfast, and trail running begin.  Not two minutes into my book and out of the corner of my eye I see something hit the window.  Thwack.  I go over to the full wall of windows and look onto the deck.  Sitting there is a tiny little chickadee, completely stunned.  I sit down beside the window in silence and watch him as he tries to flap his wings, tries to move his legs and almost topples over a few times.  More time goes by.  He’s breathing quite heavily, scared for sure.  He keeps trying to walk and I’m worried that his leg is broken and that his fate is sealed.  He blinks, looks like he's falling asleep, breathes, sits some more.  And resigns himself to total stillness.  There's nothing I can do so I stay on my side of the glass, just watching.

“Dude, I get it.  I went through the same thing.  I know how you feel.  You’re just flying through the trees on a Sunday morning, enjoying the sunshine, carefree.  You’re pretty high on life.  You look ahead and see trees, not realizing that in fact it is a bank of windows reflecting the forest behind you.  Bang.  You’re on your ass and you don’t even know what happened.”

That pretty much sums up what happened after the Phoenix marathon.  I was high on having accomplished something I didn’t think was possible or within my reach.  I had narrowly missed my "sub" 3 hr marathon goal by 52 seconds.  So I had set a new marathon goal and was working hard at it, and training was going so well.  Micheal Smith, of RunSmart had agreed to write a program for me and with each workout he sent me, I laughed at their seeming impossibility.  But somehow I was getting through them with the times he was asking.  I felt invincible.  Sure there was pain but I thought it was manageable. 

But the pain just kept getting worse and worse no matter what treatment I tried, how much time I took off (and I truly did take a good two week chunks of time off, on a few occasions).  I had never dealt with an injury that wouldn’t just go away, that I couldn’t heal and get past.    It was infuriating but only because I wasn’t really paying attention.  Had I been, I would have seen that my path was a reflection, a bank of windows and I was headed for a major crash at full speed. 

I’m hesitant but today was my fifth day running in a row, completely pain free.  I am about 6 weeks post PRP, so this is just about the time that it should be taking effect.  It has been seven months of pain so great that I was in tears every time I tried to run.  Of feeling like I had forgotten how to run.  Of putting a stone in each of my shoes so that that pain would take over and act as a pressure point rather than the Achilles pain.  I felt like I was an awkward colt who didn’t know how to gallop.  Of one race after another being crossed off the calendar, of watching everyone at TransRockies and really missing being there for such a great week of friends and trails.  And in case you haven’t seen it, this was pretty much the ongoing conversation I would have.

About a month ago I decided I should maybe just accept that the season was shot so I bought a road bike and have been loving it.  I’ve done two PRP treatments with Dr. Balharry in Canmore (last one was in July) and have hardly run since.  I’ve been working as hard as I can on core strength and engaging my glutes.  And just now, just in the past few weeks, have things started to turn. 

Remember when you were a kid and you would shoot baskets and say things like “if it goes in, he likes me”, or “if it goes in, i’ll make the swim team”.  Well I kind of had that chat with the bird this morning.  Come on little guy, show me that I can fly again. 

A few minutes later everyone came down to the kitchen and the day got started.  We went out for an incredible trail run up to Elk Lakes.  It is the most amazing feeling ever.  Truly it feels like flying now that I can run again without pain. 

I’m hoping this means that there is a possibility of doing a fall marathon, but if it isn’t meant to be I am ok with that.  There are races all over the place all year long.  Right now, I am happy when I come home from work, grab a quick dinner and am out the door to meet friends for a long ride in Springbank, or even just the time on my own with some music or a podcast in one ear.  The rides have been amazing and I feel like I can go forever without getting as trashed as I do on a long run.  My energy is great and while riding certainly takes a lot more time than running to get an equal workout, it’s also been a new challenge, and has at least given me back the social/active time with my friends.  The weather has been stellar here so on the weeks I don’t have the kids, my evenings have been riding as the sun sets. 

I had my eyes set on a goal and was just enjoying the flight after my marathon in January.  But had I been paying attention I would have seen that the path in front of me was a reflection, not more forest to fly through.  I should have known that that many repetitive miles on road and treadmill would take it’s toll.  I’m a born trail runner, never had I spent that much time on flat, letting a machine set my pace.  Had I been paying attention I would and should have seen this injury coming.  Nevertheless it stunned me and just like that little bird, there was no point in fighting it, I just had to wait.

And I will continue to wait, and listen to my body until it is ready to go again.  No more attachment to some unrealistic goal.  But I’m also more excited than ever to get back to training because having had something I love taken away from me, I now appreciate my sport so much more, and how careful I have to be with my body. 

The good news is that when we got back from our run today, I went immediately to the deck.  The bird was gone.  Sure, he may have been taken by a huge crow and if so, then that was his fate, but I’d like to believe that after waiting patiently to regain his balance, that he was able to resume flight.

*As a side note, there was also a tiny splat of whitewash where he had been sitting.  If I was a life coach I would have taken a picture and written something like "drop your shit and get back to flying".

A HUGE thank you to Susan and Dr. Balharry, who made the PRP treatments possible for me. And to my friend, running buddy, and brilliant physio Somer Willson, and Marda Loop Sport Physio for your ongoing treatment of my broken body. :) I would not be running without you guys.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Glencoe Icebreaker

Nothing very exciting to post on this one. Actually I never really know what to write about. I raced, it was hard, it hurt. Who wants to read that? I'd love to hear more about what you guys want to hear about.

First 10k since the same race last year when we ran on about 3 inches of ice the entire way.

This morning was beautiful and the temperature was perfect. Great to see so many friends and familiar Calgary faces on the start line. Congrats to everyone on a great race.

Rosemarie Gerspacher, my TRR teammate from last year, led the pack out, pushing the pace at 5:30 for the first mile or two. We hit the hill at 3k, which I'm pretty sure lasted for about 1km, or at least it felt that way. Grace, who won overall, took the lead on that hill and held it for the rest of the race, and while I didn't think I could do it, I passed Rosemarie part way up the smaller of the first two hills. One of Grace's teammates passed me at on the windy bike path along the Elbow river at about 7k and we raced side by side until the last mile when I decided to see if I had any kick in me even though I could feel my stomach coming up through my mouth. I surged ahead, certain that she would accelerate and out-kick me. But she didn't fight for it so I crossed in 2nd place with a time of 38.12 which is a PB for me by either 10 or 30 seconds. I can't remember. I would have loved to go low 37 but I'm still happy with my time on that course.

I had forgotten what it was like to race fast. So much of my training has been mileage lately, I haven't been doing much for speedwork. But it was a fun day. The Glencoe Club hosted a beautiful post race brunch, and there were a ton of great draw prizes.

Good start to the year after the Phoenix marathon. And while my Achilles are still really bad, I'm working to heal with Somer Willson's help at Marda Loop Sport Physio. Myron Tetrault had the same issue a few years ago, so today suggested I look at night splints. Sounds like torture. I love sleep. Splints? Really? Time off didn't work but I have some serious strength training to do and I'm hoping that will help.

The best part of today though was a run with Natalie and Jasmine. They've been begging me to take them running. I have never wanted to push it on them but they came to this on their own and have maintained interest over the past few weeks. So today we got them a pair of proper running shoes and jogged down to Riley Park, played for an hour, and ran home. They probably ran about 4k total. I was so proud of them. They've also decided that they want to be a part of Team MitoCanada and plan to run the Calgary kids marathon and raise funds for Evan. We'll take it slow and make it fun. I want them to love running for a lifetime.

A little less than 12 weeks until the Seattle marathon. Let the mileage begin.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Running For Those Who Can't.

I'm a little late this year on my annual "nothing is impossible challenge". In 2010 after I raced TransRockies (which I thought was impossible when I originally signed up), I challenged everyone to run this absolutely crazy marathon: the Powderface 42. Initially I had about 25 people sign up as part of the facebook group. And the day of the race there were 7 finishers that I could not have been more proud of, including my 56 year old father who I ran with for 8 hours through the mountains. You can read the post from last year. It was amazing. And for those who didn't make it to the race, I know that a lot of them started running or set new goals for themselves. And that is enough for me. I just want people to realize that sometimes you just have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and that more often than not, you will surprise yourself at what you are actually capable of. We tell ourselves stories and it becomes a pattern of "I can't". When in fact you CAN. So here is this year's challenge:

Blaine and Sarah Penny have a little boy, Evan, who is slightly older than my daughters Natalie and Jasmine. A few years ago Evan was a normal and healthy little boy. One day he complained of stomach pain, went into the hospital and came out a quadriplegic. He can no longer talk or eat. He has been diagnosed with Mitochondrial disease.


I didn't actually know Blaine or Sarah a few years ago and heard their story one day on CBC radio and I think because of how close Evan is in age to my girls, it really hit me hard. I couldn't imagine having something like this happen. Turns out, Blaine and Sarah are both ultrarunners (in fact Blaine won the 50 mile Canadian Championships last year despite going off course due to a flagging mishap) in Calgary and we know a lot of the same people, and their daughter now goes to the same school as Natalie and Jasmine. I have been so inspired by their story and their dedication to building awareness and raising money for research into Mitochondrial disease. They are tireless. And they have built incredible momentum. They were a huge force behind starting a non-profit "Mito Canada" and have rallied incredible support from the running, biking and skiing community, getting people to run for Team MitoCanada at any race they enter. They've got people all over the place "Running for those who can't." Blaine, Sarah, Evan and Julia, I'm sorry I haven't done more to support you.

So don't tell me you can't. Evan can't. You CAN.
And today is the day you are going to start.

I am calling you to the start line of either the Calgary or Ottawa marathon weekend on May 27, 2012. You can run a marathon, a 10k, a 5k or even a 2k. And there are kids races too! You can join the MitoCanada team and Run for Those Who Can't. Help Blaine and Sarah fundraise. Their goal is to raise $15,000 but if they get 200 people registered and each raises even $100 that's $20,000. I've got 250 people on my health coaching page alone, can I get 20 of you to sign up?

So whether you come to Calgary and run with me (I will be doing the half that day), or you get some friends together and sign up for a local race and have Blaine ship you a team Mito tshirt, let's all get behind this. You only have two months to train, I know. You should ideally have three. But you just have to get there and finish it. That's it. Just finish it. If you need help getting started there are lots of local running clubs, the Running Room clinics, or just step outside your door with a pair of running shoes. Grab a friend and do it together. Here is how to register and start fundraising for Team MitoCanada:

Please post your progress on my facebook page or through the MitoCanada facebook page or website or both, because it will help others to get inspired. Talk about how your training and fundraising is going.

Nothing is impossible. You just have to take that first step.

Power's On. Go!

You can watch the Running on Empty documentary here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let's Dance

I have to admit this about myself. I run faster with good and/or new music. I've just been introduced to a podcast so I don't have to keep buying music, and I can ditch my usual sound track which I was getting so bored with. Is this why I was running so slow? Because I was bored? Bored with my usual road route, bored with my music? I needed a change.

I just about quit running the other day. Seriously. I was ready to give up. My legs hurt, and I felt like I was getting nowhere and I was not recovering from my runs. And I had no idea why. On top of this, my Achilles seemed to be getting tighter and tighter and nothing was working. Not ice baths, not acupuncture, not even time off. It's been driving me nuts.

Yesterday I left work for a lunch run and almost cried my Achilles hurt so much. I stopped at home (only 2 blocks away from my office) to switch shoes as a last ditch effort. Instead of my old road shoes, I decided to try one more time with my new Inov-8's. As I ran down the hill towards the river, on my toes rather than my heels... nothing hurt! I was hesitant but finally I was able to hold a decent pace so I came back to work happy. This morning Matt and I ran a 10k loop and we were even able to hold race pace for 4k of it, once again pain free. I didn't think I could go that pace any more but the music was fun and it's warming up to 15 here today. Thank God. All is not lost.

We get to work together from a coffee shop this afternoon and then plan to do a nice long trail run with Maui at Nose Hill before we go babysit my gorgeous niece Blaire this evening. I'm hoping this is the end of the injury... knock on wood.

So assuming my legs hold up, here is the tentative race plan for the year. As usual it's a bit road heavy at the start but gets into the trails in July. I've also got the three trail running camps and plan to spend most of my training time after Seattle on the trails.

January: Phoenix Marathon. Done.

April 1: Glencoe Icebreaker 10k
April 29: Policeman's’ half

May 27: Calgary Half Marathon

June 23: Seattle marathon

July 14: Powderface 42 trail marathon
July 21: Nipika Crazy Soles trail 25k

August 14: TransRockies Run 3

September 1: Meet your Maker 50 Sept 1

October 7: Victoria or Chicago Marathon Oct 7

Now I just have to stay healthy and injury free!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gift from the Sea

My mother in law gave me a book when my daughters were born. Gift From the Sea was written in the 50s but I could not believe how applicable the concepts were to today, to my life. I felt like she was writing for me. She spoke of being a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter. Like me, she felt like she had to do it all. She addressed the feelings of 'motherhood guilt' that we all have, that we will never be good enough, give our children enough, and that the to do list is never ending, like waves filling in a hole you dig in the sand. Motherhood in itself is probably the most gratifying and fulfilling job in the world, but in those moments where you're buried under laundry and house cleaning and social engagements and work and you're going on no sleep it's hard to get perspective.

And stepping back sometimes, removing yourself from the situation even for a few blissful moments of silence, is often the best way to get that perspective. To learn that maybe you actually do love the chaos, the way your children wrap their arms around you, the constant laughter, being needed by a child. You can reflect on what they said and how much it meant, even though when they actually said it to you may not have paid attention because you were trying to get dinner on the table. And you can forgive yourself for not being present because for goodness sakes not everyone is a master of multi-tasking!

In Gift From the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes about a woman who takes a trip to a beach house, all alone and away from her family. She leaves with a To Do list... but while there realizes that there is so much renewal and re balancing that occurs as she learns to be still, to surrender, to be open and quiet. At first she feels odd and guilty, but then she relaxes and lets it take it's course. Her thoughts and realizations inspired me and made me realize that I too needed to ensure that I regularly took time to re balance myself, to come back to center, and that in doing this, I was an even better mother and wife than I would have been if I had tried to keep doing it all without stopping to breathe. It was an important lesson early on in motherhood. A few of her thoughts:

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.

I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelessly. (My thoughts on this are that while it's hard to see purpose in repeatedly doing the never ending chores, your job is SOOOO important to your family's stability. None of the jobs are sexy or rewarding, but they need to get done and usually we are the ones to just do them. Doesn't it drive you crazy that you have to be the bad guy, the disciplinarian that is there day after day, putting in the work, teaching consistency, cleaning up the messes, breaking up the fights, and that then dad or an aunt or uncle gets to swoop in and just reap all the benefits and be so much fun? It's like training for a race. No one sees the hours you put into the training, the work that goes on every day, even when your body hurts. But without putting in that hard work, you would never make it to the finish line.)

By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

This last quote isn't quite as relevant today for most North American women. We have gained a lot of independence and recognition for our 'unpaid' work. We are no longer tied to the house, or at least we have a choice now. And this has been written about extensively so I won't re-circle the argument, but suffice to say that a lot of women live in a constant state of exhaustion. I learned early on that I had to run to keep myself in balance. When my kids were little, my husband knew that at the end of the day when he got home, and I had been with the kids all day, that if I was on edge he just needed to push me out the door for a run and I would come back a different person.

Of my friends and the women I know, there seem to be two general types. Most of the mothers I know fall into the first category. This woman is constantly on the run but never really fulfilled. From the second she wakes up in the morning, she is taking care of everyone else, making breakfast, cleaning up, getting kids organized, driving to soccer or ballet or art lessons. Her husband is an incredible father and balances her and loves her, but also regularly takes time for himself to golf, play hockey, go for a drink with the boys. He also encourages his wife to take more time for herself, to go away for a weekend or even just to go for a massage. But she rarely takes him up on it. She lives in an almost constant state of exhaustion.

On the other side of the spectrum, I have a few girlfriends who have figured it out and are great role models for me. They truly walk around with a genuine smile on their face. These women, for whatever reason, know how important it is to take care of yourself. Because they know they will be a happier mother, sister, girlfriend, wife if they make sure that they are ok first. And they have energy. And they know how to say no. And they can delegate and ask for help. Believe me, there is proof that stress does a lot more damage than not finishing your vegetables one night. Living in a constant state of stress and overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system will directly contribute to aging, immune system depletion, and a general wearing out of the body. Your body can't even digest food when it's in this state of stress!

The reason I'm writing this is two fold. One is because I keep meeting new moms that are completely burnt out and trying to do it all. And they just refuse to be away from their kids for any amount of time. Sure they do it all but they are so burnt out that there is not an ounce of joy left in them, or color in their cheeks. And I just want to put them on a plane to a beach. Everyone would do so much better with a little break.

Secondly, yes this is a blatant pitch for some great running vacations I'm putting together through TransRockies events. There are three to choose from depending on your goals. It's not about training. It's about vacation, renewal, learning and meeting inspiring people. It's about YOU! And it's just going to be a ton of fun.

Remember, all of life is a cycle of build and destroy. You can't go hard without stopping. Bears hibernate, snow forces the flowers to sleep. A seed will not sprout without darkness and warmth. There is recovery in rest. Sometimes we build, sometimes we destroy, sometimes we rest and reflect. All of it is important, and sometimes you just need to step out of the cycle to shift your awareness. So consider giving yourself a break. The gift of rest so that you can recover and rebuild. You deserve it and will be a much happier person when you get back. Put a little joy back into your step.