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.