Open Water Swim & Transition Bootcamp

Summer Swim Meet at the Windsor Pool this Saturday so looks like a good day for an Open Water Swim session and Transition Practices. The current forecast is calling for the rain to clear early Saturday morning and be overcast…. which means the beach will be empty and sad without us. Perfect chance to practice for most triathlon set ups- but especially great for prepping for Aylesford Tri.

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Get Ready To Run! Spring 2018

Happy to say that there are lots of running groups and informal clubs on the go in the Valley these days. Still, finding that there are many people looking for a carefully guided introduction to running for fitness so they don’t get injured or get caught up in the enthusiasm that so often leads to the terrible “toos” – too much, too soon, too hard.

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Remembering Jeremy

January 2nd, 2018 started out like so many other January 2nd’s of my 57 years – its a pretty scary number actually! Not sure I’ve ever had the whole pool to myself to start a new year before today but it might have made me a just a bit sadder to be the one and only swimmer. One of the lifeguards was looking sad too.  Just a few days ago we both would have learned of the passing of a young man from our community – he was an amazing young man with a kind heart, huge intellect, the son and grandson of friends, and a long time competitive swimmer. I last saw Jeremy about a month ago as he came on deck to speak with his varsity teammates.  He loved swimming and there he was, as I often saw him throughout his life…. at the pool. Word was that the rare cancer he had so valiantly battled for years was taking charge and there he was saying goodbye.

It seems not so long ago I was registrar of the Tritons Swim Club and he was a little guy with big bright eyes and a happy disposition trying out a sport his mother happened to excel at. I knew his grandmother long before moving to the area through running and had heard the stories of the family’s active athletic endeavours, including informal off-road triathlons quite ahead of the curve before triathlons were a highly organized sport.

I wasn’t thinking of Jeremy when I first started to swim this morning but 100m in and I started to feel panicky. I stopped for a bit, considered how the space felt different today-  empty and still.  For a second I wanted to bail from the workout, and from being there. I left the wall again, this time on my back, breathing easier and relaxing into a rhythm that felt neither forced nor enthusiastic.  I tried to focus on the workout I had planned to do then wondered why I was committing to it. Hmmmm, a good question for a 57 year old who has yet to have clarity on any performance goals for 2018, other than to be strong, healthy and energized.

I determined that the most important thing about this particular swim was to focus on how I wanted to feel and that any metrics from the heart rate monitor Garmin would only be mildly interesting. I was able to convince myself that looking at the clock to see how the 70% effort, then the 80% effort compared to the 90% effort reps were all about control and feel, not so much about the time. There was comfort in this and permission to be grateful that I have this choice to be here and do this.

Between sets, I couldn’t help but look around and think about how one space can hold so many memories, with shifting players and each season having a slightly different character. From season to season the changes can be so subtle. To think that small gestures and kind hellos can hold such a big place in your heart – my mind drifted once again to remembering Jeremy as a youngster always smiling and saying “hello” when passing through the halls on the way to and from the pool.  Swimming moms and swimmers pass each other daily, maybe even twice daily – the sport has its way of creating a strong community and ties that reach beyond the swim club time.

For several years many of the swim kids would participate in a fun family triathlon I started in our community. Jeremy and his best friend Brendan were among those kids and their families were active supporters…especially his grandmother, Mary.  My daughter was older than the boys but living in a small community with one school and few facilities these become the faces and names we see daily.

Staying home for university both Jeremy and Brendan landed on the varsity swim team and they agreed to be key players in an after-school swimming program I launched through my work with the Town.  I could not have asked for better leaders and role models! Honestly, they were the dream team!

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Later that summer Jeremy and Brendan joined our local multisport club for some open water swimming and bike riding at the very same lake where local multisport history was made with Jeremy’s family creating their own triathlon adventures. I loved when Mary recounted the antics. Jeremy and Brendan wowed the Blomidon Multisport Club with their amazing swimming skills and won everyone’s heart with their fun-loving approach to cycling. Jeremy was optimistic about getting in cycling shape and positive energy through and through!

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It’s never easy to hear that our fellow teammates or work out buddies face life-threatening illnesses, especially when so young.  We share time enjoying living in the moment, breathing hard, sweating, laughing and only wish good health for all. Cancer is a formidable opponent we all fear. It was heartbreaking news to hear from Mary that Jeremy’s cancer had returned earlier this year.

Reading about all that Jeremy accomplished academically, and of his contributions to future research during these last few years with such difficult health challenges is truly awe-inspiring.  Also remarkable is how someone so young can leave such an indelible impression from consistent but limited interactions. His pleasant and upbeat greetings and presence will be remembered and missed.

Swimming joyfully, consistently and fearlessly may be the best tribute and all the motivation I need.


Resisting Resolutions

Never one to get too crazy over making New Year’s Resolutions – probably because growing up my goal setting was such that by January 1st of any year I was already totally immersed in a training regime and on my way to hitting targets…. such is the life of a young athlete. September was also my time to set academic challenges and get into a new routine; this routine also seemed to stick as I headed into the work world and parenthood, so September always feels more like a new year to me than January 1st.  That said, New Years 2012 is one that I decided to put together a vision board with my plans to do Ironman Mont Tremblant and express my already established goals in a visual and creative form. For me, the goal-setting process is about clarifying my priorities so that I minimize the overwhelm brought on by wanting to do too much in the confines of a 24 hour day. I learned at an early age to push the limits of time …… I’m remembering early starts with 5 am swim practices and ending the day at 11 pm at age 13. Maybe amazing, but not adviseable.

So now in my Third Act of life I like to think I’m smarter and more realistic. I love the creative process of doing a vision board and it really does help clarify what items on my “to do” or “wish list” are most important and what may be more whimsical or distracting as they take valuable space in consciousness. I’ll likely hang on to the many things that have joyfully anchored themselves in my lifestyle, embrace a new project that excites me and hopefully edit some of the less satisfying notions.

A couple of years ago my daughter Meg and I organized a Vision Board Workshop.  It was a great day with a wonderful group of random women…. and we’ve witnessed several of the participants experience amazing transformations in their life since that day. With a few excercises to get particiants clarifying and editing we facilitate goal setting in a totally creative, fun and supportive way. One does not have to be an artist to create a totally kick ass vision board!  Having been to many 2 hour goal setting workshops that fail to inspire so I will be hosting a rad Vision Board Party on Sunday, January 21st at Ridgeway House in Wolfville.  Whether you’re looking to identify your 2018 North Star or excited to express your 2018 Vision think about joining us for a fun filled and productive day on January 21st!

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Unexpected Intensity to Close November

…so I decided to have a “20 min” nap before going for the run…and when I finally woke to the stove timer going off it was 4:08 and I was supposed to have been a couple of blocks down the road meeting my long distance run buddy by 4:05… so I sprang to my feet, threw on a buff, gloves and vest then flew out the door to find Pauline chugging up the hill to get me! Great run…but almost missed it….legs feel spring loaded…. yeehaw for short fast runs like the unplanned ones this week, with younger speedsters like my friend Madeleine, balanced with the longer runs with my regular run mates, Pauline & Heatheranne.

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Today is the last day of November, a weekday, and by tradition my last day of the off season before launching back into training for the coming year’s athletic/fitness goals. That said, it’s been an interesting week of more intense training than I had planned with awesome friends – one in particular, with a newly purchased training plan for her spring marathon. To be clear I haven’t decided on any race goals this year so I’m happy to play for the love of it and focus on coaching others! And so it happened that on my last week of off season / down time I ended up just “givin’ ‘er”…. and so reved by a late night speed workout I was unable to sleep.

Last year was my bi-decade year for a big long distance event so yes, I enjoyed a few naps while training long.  At age 57 I’m finally truly understanding the POWER of sleep, rest and recovery! Without having to punch a corporate time clock for the last couple of years I’ve finally made the shift to resting more and getting used to not pushing through tiredness and exhaustion to be productive, stay fit and strong. This comes at a time that I am witnessing my daughters juggling parenting, career and homelife with their fitness and energy levels….. brings back such a flood of memories and pulls at my heartstrings ….. a lot!

Over the years I have developed a habit of editing consumer driven Christmas mania from my priorities, and instead welcome December with a calmness and anticipation for more minalmist approach to the season with unexpected opportunities to nuture creativity, healthy activity outdoors, relaxed coffee dates and workouts with friends, and in recent years to spend precious time with sweet grandchildren (and if this gives some my adult children some moments of stillness and rest, all the better!).

So with all my heart I welcome December and look forward to the day to day surprises, creating new memories and loving every minute of it….. including lung busting hill running with speedy younger friends! (Going to love me some recovery naps too!)