Welcome! Thank you for following along! I am new to this, but I thought that it might be nice to start mnt explores at a place that has been at the forefront of my mind for several months now, which has been a place of reflection on how my passion for running began.
It’s not an uncommon place, having recently graduated university, I was consistently “athletic” (whatever that means!) and frequented yoga classes and the gym. I was just settling into “adult” life, trying to balance fitness, a new career, etc. etc.
Enter Louie the Portuguese Water Dog.
I was living in Barrie in 2008, and at just under a year old, Louie was a handful. I couldn’t keep up with all the energy he had, and quickly found that short runs (and lots of walks) were a great way to spend energy, and he was a great running partner. We spent those early years in Barrie running the trails down to and around the lake frequently.
Looking back, I know that the fun we had inspired my running, and I gradually increased my distance. I signed up for and ran my first half marathon, the Toronto Goodlife 1/2, that fall.
Fast forward to 2017. Since my first 1/2 that fall of ’08, I have gone on to run many races, growing in confidence, health and passion. Through running I have met amazing people that I consider good friends.
I have a partner, Alejandro, who is happy to run with me, and most importantly, support me without hesitation when I decide to sign up for “crazy” races (we all ran the Ruff Mudder , it was so much fun!).
I lost my first running partner Louie a few months ago. Cancer took him swiftly, which was the way we can all hope to see our pets go. His suffering was short lived, and he was able to fully enjoy life almost right to the end.
Having said that, I cannot sugarcoat that I was devastated by the loss. Losing a pet is different for everyone, and not having Lou around took the wind out of my sails.
Through late winter and early spring, I could hardly manage to even think about training for an ultra race.
All the while Alejandro and I were finishing (still are finishing!) the process of building a beautiful new home together. He was starting on a new career path, we were just SO busy. It was way too easy to come up with excuses.
But gradually I started to get back out there.
First, I joined a yoga studio, something I’ve enjoyed since I was a teenager. Ann Green Yoga is an amazing studio with a wide range of classes to enjoy. Everything from your standard hot yoga to restorative (my personal fav) to meditation (a work in progress for me) to aerial yoga (tried it for the first time the other day!).
Going inward and working on the mental training aspect is so important. I remember making this connection when I was training for my 2nd marathon in 2013, and I know that my mental strength was a big part of what helped me BQ that spring in Mississauga.
For a few months after Lou passed I could hardly go for a walk, forget building up my running mileage. No matter how much coercing, I just felt stuck.
Luckily I had already signed up for the 5 Peaks race series so I got out there (I had already paid and could not see it go to waste!). I had some fun, and felt like I was starting to get my legs back. I started running with a trail running group in my new community. I attended Jennifer Faraone‘s Trail Running Retreat and connected with like minded and inspirational people (PS Jennifer is just an awesome all around person to be around!).
I am starting to feel like my old self. Happy, passionate, capable. Inspired.
This weekend I went running alone for the 1st time on the trail that started it all. It is near where I lived before, when it was just Lou and I. It’s a beautiful section of trail that leads down to Lake Simcoe with numerous branches and ways to navigate down. It was “our” route.
Before this weekend I hadn’t had the strength to go there, even though it is only a few kilometers from our new home.
I shed a few tears, but I felt strong. I felt happy, and I felt confidence in my abilities to take things on, even without my “sidekick”. I was (am) grateful that 9+ years ago a crazy puppy introduced me to a sport that has helped me develop so much as a person through my adult years. I am so fortunate for my path in life!
Thinking of Louie brings back great memories that won’t be forgotten.
The trails energize me, the Lake soothes me, and on a weekend where we celebrated Canada’s 150th Birthday, I felt nothing but gratitude for being able to do the things we do every day and live in this amazing Country.
Thinking of the future brings hope and gratitude for the present, and the choices I have made and continue to make each day.