Blog Posts

La Belle Mixtape

I love music, and I used to be SO all over new music; making mixes/playlists, following blogs and sharing my favourite new tunes with friends. The chaos of parenting/working and the responsibilities of everyday life have led me to let this part of me wither a bit. And that makes me sad, so one of my goals is to get back into music. Seeking out new music. Listening. Sharing.

So this if for you folks this lovely Friday morning! Happy Fall 🙂

 

xo,

 

 

Sarah

Fed Is Best.

Processed with VSCO with n1 preset

I’m sitting here in the change room of the spa/fitness area at a hotel where I’m attending a PQI (Physician Quality Improvement) workshop pumping milk. Yes, on top of doing a full time addiction fellowship training, parenting three young boys, managing our household and trying to find time for exercise  (and fitting my beloved Nerium partnership into the cracks) I’m still pumping milk.

Would my life be easier if I just stopped pumping during the day, switched the little dude over to formula (he’s almost 10 months)? Yes. But for some reason I just can’t bring myself to do it.  How long I keep this up I’m not sure, but for now I’m not ready to stop. Despite the fact that it’s hugely inconvenient. Lugging my Medela PISA (pump in style advance for all you not on top of the breastfeeding lingo), the cooler bag with the bottles of milk, and the freezer pack to keep them cool around with me as I trek from one location to another throughout the day means I’m usually carrying two if not three bags around. I’ve recently started taking my single pump on days when I bike to work, but it takes twice as long to pump so definitely a trade off.

It’s funny, because  as a family doctor who does maternity, I tell people all the time that fed is best. Breast milk. Formula. Whatever it is you can provide your baby is what is best. I tell them any breast milk you can give your baby is amazing, because it is! That if you need to feed your baby formula to give yourself the time to rest, time to sleep, time to yourself than you should do it. That your baby will be happier when you are happier. That your baby will be healthier when you are healthier. So why can’t I follow my own advice?

I don’t have just one answer for your. I think mostly, I have unreasonably high expectations of myself, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. When I had my first, I had a ton of problems at the beginning. He had a tongue tie and terrible latch, took us days to get feeding established and weeks/months before it wasn’t anxiety inducing. And then I went and got pregnant (whoops!) with Johann when Henry was just four months old. I managed to go on and exclusively breastfeed Henry until he was seven or so months but by that point I was almost 12 weeks pregnant and so exhausted that I eventually (and somewhat reluctantly) introduced formula.

Reluctant because I thought I should be able to do it all, breastfeed my still new baby while growing another baby; reluctant because I was worried about what other people would think of me; worried that people would judge me for feeding my baby formula; reluctant because I was worried that introducing formula and weaning him off the breast would impact the bonding. Looking back I can say I was wrong. Without a doubt. I couldn’t do it all, and once I finally introduced formula it was liberating. I could leave the house and not worry about where I could pump and not worry if I had enough frozen milk in the fridge. Hagen could put him to sleep because he would just as happily take a bottle of formula as he would the breast. And did it impact our bond? Absolutely not. We still had lots of snuggles and I was, and am still, his home base, his source of absolute comfort and security. Switching to formula would never interfere with that bond.

Because I was able to take a 10 month maternity leave with Johann and wasn’t pregnant by four months post-partum I was fortunate to exclusively breast-feed him until 10 months or so and then we started him on homogenized milk.  So now there’s Wil. Sweet, adorable Wil. I love nursing him and that bond that it creates. And I know how amazing breast milk is for him. But I’ve started back at work earlier for a multitude of reasons I’ll get into another time. And it’s wearing on me, working full time, studying, mommy-ing, pumping. But I can’t let it go. Even though I don’t like pumping (I don’t really think anyone likes pumping)  I like providing my babe with all the breastmilk I can. I have started adding in some formula, and our nanny mixes the breast milk with formula during the day. So that relieves some of the pressure. And he takes it JUST FINE.  Besides he’s 10 months and a very healthy eater. Despite all of this, and the fact that the exhuasted me wants to stop, the ever sacrificing mom in me just can’t let it go.

My mind is ready to leave the pump behind, but my heart just can’t quite stop yet. Anyone else out there feel me?

xo

Sarah

 

 

 

 

Why I have a #sidegig with Nerium International

A side hustle is not a part-time job. A side hustle is not the gig economy. It is an asset that works for you.

what if

You might ask why would I, mom to three boys under the age of four, full time physician currently undergoing training in perinatal addictions, add one more thing to my plate? The answer isn’t a simple one, but if you’re interested in finding out what led me to this place, read on!

I wasn’t looking for a side gig or anything more to fill my already overflowing schedule. Honestly, if someone came up to me six months ago and told me I would be running a successful side business in skin care and wellness products I would have probably laughed in your face. This wasn’t something I ever pictured myself doing. Skin care. Sales. The whole shebang. So how did I end up here?

Since last November, when I had my third baby at the age of 39, I started to think it was time to start really taking care of my skin. Having three kids between the ages of 34 – 39 while finishing my medical residency and starting practice was starting to take it’s toll. I was noticing more fine lines and looking generally tired (I know, I know, what did I expect?) So I started doing some research into skin care lines, but I was overwhelmed with what was out there. So many different companies, so many different products. The recommendations and routines seemed so complicated with retinols, toners, Vitamin C serums, facial cleansers and scrubs, etc. that I couldn’t find anything that I thought I could actually a) figure out without consulting someone smarter than I was when it came to skin care and b) would actually have time in the day to do. So I just kind of kept plugging away using the same mix of products I always had that hadn’t made any significant difference to date.

Then in May, my good friend Erin Beattie added me to her ‘Nerium Page’ on Facebook. My first thought? What is this? Seriously? Is she doing direct marketing? I was one of those judgey people who always kind of turned my nose up at direct marketing. But Erin is good people. She’s one of my best friends in life. She’s also a busy Mom, MD and I figured if she was into it there must be something good going on. So I looked through her pictures and was immediately blown away. “Will this stuff help my crows feet?” I asked. She posted a handful of before/after pics showing incredible reduction in fine lines. “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play” was my response. (I know, cheesy but true – see below if you don’t believe me!)

collage-1

I have such trust in Erin that I was almost ready to dive in immediately as a Brand Partner, try the products and possibly sell them. I just thought that if she was doing it, and they worked as well as the before and after pictures said they did, than I’d be a fool not to get involved. In hindsight, I wish I had signed up immediately and bought the biggest starter pack as it offers you a HUGE savings on the entire product line. But I wasn’t 100% sure, so Erin recommended just trying the product to start, and so I did.  I ordered the entire skin set and both my (very skeptical) husband and I started using it. To be honest, I hadn’t told Hagen I was ordering it. And when he found out how much the skin care set cost he definitely raised an eyebrow at me and suggested that perhaps I should have just started with one or two products. But I don’t have sensitive skin, and Erin’s results (see below!) were so unbelievable I figured why not??? I also told him I was thinking of selling it as well to earn them for free and he was NOT on board at first. I don’t know why the whole direct/relationship/multi-level marketing leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth (I’ll write another post on that at some point) but it often does, and it shouldn’t. Why wouldn’t you want to support your friend instead of a random employee at Sephora/The Bay etc…) But he agreed to take before pictures with me and started using the skin care set the same night I did as he saw Erin’s photos and was also keen on getting rid of his #tireddadeyes.

fullsizeoutput_376a.jpeg

So we took our (terrible, poorly lit before photos – lesson learned) and started using the set. I swear within days we both started noticing a difference. And my dear husband immediately changed his tune. He was in the shower one morning and called to me “How many people do you need to sell these to to earn them for free?” LOL. He was hooked. I took my first set of after photos (see below) about two weeks into using the set and was blown away. I knew I was noticing a change, but I wasn’t sure I was noticing a big difference, then I looked at the pictures.  I immediately signed on with the company. The products are amazing. They are plant based, developed by scientists at Princeton based Signum Biosciences and marketed by Nerium International, a family business who’s overarching goal as a company is to make people better.

EB0DC3D5-61EE-4E6D-AE41-C48AB1647A2E.jpg

Since signing up with the company I’ve achieved more success than I could have imagined. The positives are almost too big to list, but I will list a few because I want people to understand why I am doing this.

  1. You earn your (amazing) skin care products for free! –  Every month you have a minimum of three customers place an order (new or returning) you earn next months products for free. And the products sell themselves. They really do. Just look at the before and after photos. I don’t feel like I’m selling anything, I’m just recommending products that work!
  2. You are meet new people! – You get to work with a huge network of people all across both Canada and the US that are learning about the business and are incredibly supportive and inspiring.
  3. You reconnect with old friends! –  So far most of my business has come from my social media (Facebook) posts. I have added most people that I know, because you never know who might be interested in skin care (I didn’t think I would be!!!) and I have had the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends. Not all have gone on to buy Nerium, and that’s totally fine, just the chance to reconnect has been fun.
  4. It’s a positive environment! – The whole premise of the company, to make people better spills into everyday life. Working with a group of positive, goal oriented colleagues (and that’s what everyone is, a colleague because its NOT A PYRAMID SCHEME) is so inspiring. It’s motivated me to be more positive and goal oriented in all aspects of my life.
  5. It’s an extra income! I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up. Really I did it for the free product as I knew if Hagen and I were both going to keep using it (and trust me folks, he doesn’t want to stop) then we needed to earn it for free to make it affordable. But the more customers I got, the more of a side income I was seeing. And even though we are both physicians, we have a lot of expenses. We have a mountain of debt from our training (remember I had three kids in the last 4.5 years so I’ve been off on maternity leaves earning close to nothing a lot of this time!!!), a mortgage, two car payments, three children, a full time nanny….etc. etc. etc. So yes, we make an excellent income as physicians, but were we making a dent in our debt? No way, Jose. Not with all these expenses and the fact that my most recent maternity leave was unpaid after 17 weeks. So, we are now realizing this extra income from Nerium can help us move towards being debt free sooner than anticipated which is huge for us!
  6. It’s only getting started! – Honestly, this company is so new. It started in 2011 and only came to Canada in 2014 and it’s really now just taking off. And our product line is currently pretty small in Canada. We have the skin care line and only one of their wellness products, EHT (a brain supplement that is honestly amazingly science based). New products that are in the US are coming soon to Canada and the company has even more incredible products coming down the pipeline.
  7. I believe in the company – If you’ve read my previous posts you will see that I talked about being a) evidence based and b) I love me some plant based goodness. And this was BEFORE I stumbled upon Nerium. So obviously Nerium is a perfect fit for my values. It’s the best of nature and science. Honestly! Check out this video if you don’t believe me.

Honestly, I feel like I could keep listing the reasons that this side gig has had such a hugely positive impact in my life but I’ll leave it at that.  So, if you’re thinking of joining a direct marketing company, supporting a friend who sells through one, or are just learning about these opportunities take the time and consider getting involved. Why wouldn’t you?

sakluge.nerium.com

xo,

Sarah

“There is no downside to a side hustle. There are only benefits to building more than one source of income

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jrose/2017/09/23/how-starting-a-side-hustle-could-be-your-best-investment-yet/#3d7a8bdd38e5

Practice What You Preach: Part 1

1. do what one advises others to do.

Image result for practice what you preach

When I was in grade 6 one of my best friends, Amanda, and I had a killer science fair project. The title was ‘Does microwaving kill bacteria?’. We killed it with the petri dishes and I think we took home a $75 prize (which was a pretty decent prize back in 1990 for a couple of elementary school girls)……. but I digress. I mention this because someone in the high school category did a science fair project that was entitled ‘Practice What you Preach’ and though I’m not entirely sure the specifics, I think they interviewed parents to see how many actually followed the rules and guidelines they set for their children. It’s always stuck with me and now today as a physician and mom I feel like it’s time for me to check in and make a commitment to wellness and to do more of what I spend my days coaching other people to do. And the first thing on my list is meditation.

Image result for meditation brain changes images

I think that meditation is becoming more and more mainstream, which is awesome. And we’ve all heard it’s good for you, but I think until you know HOW it will help you and you understand that there is science behind it you may be a bit reluctant and slow to get on board. There is a ton of information out there, but sometimes it’s hard to weed through and sort out the legit from the hocus pocus. And on top of that meditation is HARD, I don’t know about you but my mind is a busy place.

Image result for meditation cartoon

So where to start? If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of meditation (which include decreased stress, decreased depression, decreased anxiety, reduced pain and improved sleep and an increased quality of life) this is a great article to check out. Not only is it easy to read, but it links to a ton of medical literature describing the evidence behind it – and if you’ve read my previous post you’ll know I love evidence based medicine! Another good read here and here if you’re still not convinced.

And if you are like I was, and you know the benefits but haven’t quite managed to find the time to fit it into your already crazy day, fear not! There are some great apps out there that require just minutes a day to get started! I’m still in the beginning stages and the apps I’ve been enjoying are Headspace (they have a great Basics/Learn how to meditate series you can use free of charge), Stop, Breathe & Think (which allows you to check in with how you’re feeling physically, mentally and emotionally and then suggests a few different short guided meditations based on your check in), and Insight Timer  which offers numerous courses (I’m doing ‘Learn How to meditate in Seven Days), guided meditations and also for the more seasoned practitioner allows you to set your preferred interval time, ending bell sound and ambient noise. A few other’s I’ve have heard good things about but have yet to check out include WhilCalm, and Buddifhy. I actually just downloaded Buddifhy today and am stoked to check it out as it’s focus is to bring a modern edge to meditation and mindfulness and has both solo and guided meditations for chaotic, busy lives (hello! me! me!).

Hopefully this post has motivated you guys to take the plunge and try to make meditation a part of your daily routine! So with that, choose an app and get your meditation om…….

xoxo

Sarah

 

 

 

Evidence-Based Crunchy

“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.”

― Hippocrates

This post has taken me a while to write, mostly because it’s incredibly near and dear to my heart, but also because I think it’s a subject that people potentially have strong ideas and opinions about, because I know I do. If you’re just reading for the first time, or haven’t read the ‘about me’ session, I’ll let you know I’m a physician. A western medicine physician. I went to a Canadian medical school and trained in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Family Medicine in Canadian residency training programs. What does that mean? It means I spent ten years learning the ins and outs of the human body; about anatomy and physiology,; pathophysiology and pharmacology; about health, wellness and disease; about epidemiology and evidence based medicine.  I learned this in both the classroom and at the bedside and I firmly believe that practicing evidence based medicine provides our patients with the best possible care.   At the same time I consider myself crunchy; I am both politically and socially liberal, health conscious, spiritual and environmentally aware and I don’t believe these things have to be mutually exclusive

As a physician of western medicine who firmly believes in evidence-based practice but also dabbles in essential oils, eats a predominantly whole foods, plant based diet and loves a good tincture and potion, I often find myself frustrated. Frustrated at the division between what people perceive as western medicine and all other forms of complementary medicine out there. Because I don’t believe there has to be a division. I believe many forms of alternative medicine and allied health professions, whether that be Chinese medicine, naturopathic medicine, registered massage therapy, physiotherapy etc., are just that COMPLEMENTARY and can be integrated into the overall management and support of an individuals health and wellness.

And so, I consider myself evidence based crunchy (a term I wish I could say I coined, but I heard it from a fellow colleague and thought, hey that’s how I practice medicine!). So what does this mean? It means that if the evidence shows that there is a non-pharmacological treatment or remedy for something a patient is presenting with, I’m game to try it, and to be honest, often times recommend them. Kiddo has a cough? Try some honey. [Just not under the age of 1 for the theoretical risk of botulism in unpasteurized honey].  Struggling with mild to moderate depression? The first thing I suggest are lifestyle changes including exercise, meditation, mindfulness practice and yoga.  But want to try some herbal supplements or natural health products? Go for it. There is some evidence for St. John’s Wort, Omega 3’s and SAM-e’s.  Want to try to bring your cholesterol down with diet changes? Damn straight! But you got a kid with fever? I will advise against using your essential oils to bring the fever down and suggest you go with something we know works like good old fashioned acetaminophen  A pregnant woman with a UTI? You need more than cranberry juice, my friend.  If some evidence in a peer-reviewed scientific journal comes out saying differently I’ll pay attention and adjust my practice, but until then I use what I know is safe and effective and is based on the evidence.

So why am I sharing this with you? I guess it’s because I want people to realize that a lot of us in medicine see the grey between the black and white; we see the desire that many patients have to pursue what they believe to be more natural remedies; we understand your desire to take control in your health and actually DO want to support you in that. But we want to do it in a safe, evidence based manner. I think what is often misunderstood is that natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe. Plants are powerful. Many of our most potent drugs in medicine come from plants. Digoxin, a cardiac medication that needs to be monitored very closely for it’s narrow therapeutic window, comes from Foxglove.

Image result for digoxin flower

Many chemotherapeutic agents used to treat cancer come from plants. Tamoxifen, a drug that dramatically improved the treatment of breast cancer,  is derived from the bark of the pacific Yew tree.

I can’t speak for other physicians, though I suspect that many feel the same way that I do; we DO want you to be engaged, to take control of your health, to get engaged, to educate yourself, to make diet and lifestyle changes, but we want you to do it safely. By all means, go see a naturopath, use essential oils but please talk to us about it. We’re here to listen and support you on this journey because some of are quite crunchy ourselves.

xo

 

Time MGMT

a.k.a – How to make time to train when you have three children under the age of four

I think this is the skill that I’ve likely honed most since becoming a parent, and yet still need to work on it (based on how long it’s been since my last post :). It’s incredible how many balls in the air you have as a mother: managing your kids needs on what feels like a minute-to-minute basis, grocery shopping, meal planning/prep, laundry, cleaning, feeding the cat, paying the bills, signing your kids up for activities on time….the list goes on. And have you noticed I have neglected to include one VERY important component? SELF CARE.

I don’t know if it’s our biology or rather that we fall into the habit of putting ourselves last but most women and mothers I know are guilty of the same. We are all great at taking care of our children, our spouses, our furry friends but sadly not always ourselves.

Now that I’m on baby number three I’ve come to realize that a) I’m guilty of this and b) this needs to change. Fortunately I have a husband who is super supportive of me making/finding the time to still do the things that make me happy outside of being a mother and for me that is fitness, running/biking/yoga. Those are my happy places. But that still doesn’t make it easy. Our days are full. FULL full. They start somewhere in the 6:00 am hour when our darling boys scramble out of bed full of energy and ready to get the day started and they don’t wind down until 8:00 or 9:00 pm at night after the kids are in bed, the dishes are washed and the toys have been tidied. So how do I find time to train? I’ve learned to make time. It’s never going to be the right time to go for a run, or to get to that spin class. Someone is always going to be crying. There will always be laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, beds to be made, PlayDough drying out that needed to be put away hours ago. But you have to leave it behind and just GO.

It’s funny, for Hagen and I the more kids we have it’s almost easier for us to find time for ourselves. Partly because we are more aware of how important it is and how having that little bit of time makes you a better partner, parent and happier self; but also because we have gotten better at scheduling, prioritizing what makes us happy and realizing it’s something you absolutely have to do.

So what are my tricks to try to manage my time and get it all done?

  1. Make the time. You’re never going to get out for a run, a bike ride, a cup of tea with a friend if you don’t schedule it it. Make it a priority. Days are full but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room. Hagen sets his alarm for the wee hours of the morning to get to the gym or out for a run. Sometimes I’m not leaving for an exercise class until 8pm at night because that’s when there is finally peace in the house. And some days when I’ve got a meeting and a few groceries to pick up and a baby in tow I travel by jog stroller. I run/walk to my meeting, the grocery store, etc. When the car needs service, I drop it off first thing in the morning and run home. I remember one of the few winters in the past four that I wasn’t pregnant (ha!) I’d get up early to run and the kids would be awake and not wanting me to leave so into the Chariot they’d go and we’d run past the fire station and by the bagel shop. Get ‘er done.
  2. Ask for help. Or pay for it. Full stop. We don’t have much family nearby. Hagen’s father lives in the city but works full time as a professor so isn’t around much to lend a hand. My family is all on the mainland. We are lucky to have a fantastic network of friends but most have kids the same age so not a lot of people we can lean on for childcare. So we have a nanny. Full time. Yes, I’m on maternity leave. No, I’m not ashamed. I have a few people ask me if our lives are as happy/fun as they look on social media and I can honestly say yes, they are. Because we have help. We know we need it. It makes us happier people and better parents. It’s a big expense, but absolutely worth it for our happiness. Our lovely Nanny has quickly become part of our family. She helps me run our home, she is helping me raise my children and she is helping me keep my sanity. I can get out for a strength training class, a trail run, and leave the three kids for an hour and focus on myself. It feels so good and I return refreshed and re-energized to deal with the chaos of a three year old who has decided he no longer needs anyone to wipe his bum after he poops or a four year old whose love of numbers and incessant questioning could drive you to madness. But it doesn’t, because I prioritize my sanity.
  3. Be accountable and make the investment by whatever means you can. Commit to meeting a friend for a run, offer to pick them up on the way to your yoga class. Schedule it into you planner so it’s there staring you in the face. Or pay for a trainer. Register for a series of classes. If it’s important to you, it’s worth investing in. If it’s going to make you happier and healthier than make the time and spend the money. It’s probably going to work out to be less $$ that how much you spend on latte’s a month so budget and plan accordingly. Don’t buy that extra bottle of wine on the week-end and put that cash towards the pilates classes you’ve always wanted to do. Always wanted to run a 10k – make a plan to run with a friend every weekend, join the local Running Room ‘learn to run group’ beacuse I guarantee you’ll meet at least a handful of people in the same boat as you who you can be accountable to. And do it now. Why? Because there is never going to be a ‘good time’ now is as good as it’s going to get. Life only gets busier. We all know that by experience.
  4. Manage your expectations. A.K.A Embrace the chaos. In an ideal world I want our house to be clean, everything in it’s place, our kids fed and happy and clean. You get the picture. But we don’t live in an ideal/perfect world. We live in chaos, like most families with small children do. So it’s OK if the French Press sits with old coffee on the counter all day; if the Paw Patrol toys are strewn on the living room floor; if the pile of unfolded laundry sits for just one more day. Now don’t get my wrong, I’m NOT saying let chaos rule, I’m just saying let a little more chaos into your lives. You’d be surprised how much happier everyone will be for it 🙂

 

IMG_0012.jpg

I’ll finish by saying this. I am by no means an expert, if you have other tips on how to fit training and self care into your lives I’d love to hear about them! I plan on doing another post on the importance of self care in general as well because I think this is something we women need to get better at!!!!

Until then, stay well and train. Hard.

xo

Aspiring to endure

en·dur·ance
inˈd(y)o͝orəns,enˈd(y)o͝orəns/Submit
noun
1.
the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.
“she was close to the limit of her endurance”
synonyms: toleration, tolerance, sufferance, forbearance, patience, acceptance, resignation, stoicism More
adjective
1.
denoting or relating to a race or other sporting event that takes place over a long distance or otherwise demands great physical stamina.
“the annual 24-hour endurance race”

 

Dare I say it? I do. I’m doing it. I’m going to call myself an aspiring endurance athlete. I’m declaring so for two reasons, really: 1) I’m a goal oriented/action oriented person; I can’t just run or work out, I need to train for something, aspire for something and 2) I hope to inspire/motivate/encourage you out there who have always thought about signing up for something, whether it be a 5k community run or the Canadian Death Race; I hope that after reading this you are inspired to sign up.

So why endurance, you might ask? I don’t know, really. It just attracts and inspires me. I like running (most of the time, though not so much these days). I really do. I was never super fit as a kid, not un-athletic, just average. I didn’t make any teams in junior high school. In Grade 10, I tried out for volleyball and didn’t make the team but was offered the manager position which allowed me to practice with the team then travel to the games to assist, which I was totally down with. I tried every sport under the sun, literally. Swim team, soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, rhythmic gymnastics, ringette, synchronized swimming, figure skating….you get the picture. I had incredibly supportive parents who would let me sign up for/try whatever sport I wanted, encourage me to finish what I had started but never pushed me beyond what I wanted. Sometimes I wondered if they had ever pushed me to pursue one sport, instead of try the pot-pourri that was my childhood athletic experience, if I would have ever really gotten ‘good’ at something, but then I think of all the incredible experiences I had and how they have shaped me to be the person I am today, and am I grateful for the way they chose to raise me.

So back to endurance running. I was fortunate to attend Rothesay Netherwood School for  Grade 11 and 12 (my final years of high school). Every year, after spring break, the entire student body participated in ‘Spring Trots’. Sounds like an unfortuage GI event to me now, but it’s actually a school running series where the elementary, junior and senior school students (and teachers!) run daily after classes working up to a set distance. I had never really run any significant distance before this and as a senior school student we worked up to a 10k run. There were lunchtime awards for most improved runner, which I was awarded at one step along the way, and although I was by no means the fastest, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. And after that, I always ran. I rowed competitively during my undergraduate studies and ran to keep fit in the off season.  Then, when I moved to Japan after my undergrad and experienced intense culture shock, running helped me stay grounded. So, for some reason that escapes me today, I signed up for my first 1/2 marathon in Japan. I suspect it was for the same reason that I’m now hoping to move into endurance distances: to motivate myself, to challenge myself and to stay fit. I made myself a training schedule and manage to follow it pretty religiously, and ran my first 1/2 marathon in Kashiwazaki, Japan. I was one of three non-Japanese people who entered and probably the first person who had never previously run any distance close to that. It wasn’t a huge race, maybe a few hundred people. It was tough: hot, lots of uphill and only one water station at the half way point. I think I was the third last person to finish (literally a few 80 something year old Japanese runners behind me). But you know what? I didn’t care. I DIDN’T CARE. Because I was running for me. I ran through the finish with tons of people cheering ‘Ganbari’ which translates to ‘tenacity, endurance’ and I shouted back ‘Ganbarimasu’ which translates to ‘I will do my best’. And I did.

After that, I was hooked. Despite literally being one of the last people to finish the race, I felt so good. I was so proud of myself to finish. Maybe I was lucky to do my first 1/2 marathon in Japan, so I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone but myself, and I think that was the point where I fell in love with running. I did a handful of other races that year, and actually got on the ‘podium’ for one race, coming third place in a ‘mountain’ race which literally had us running straight uphill for 5km then downhill 5km. So when I returned to Canada after my year abroad, I kept running. I signed up for local community runs like the Bluenose 10k and 1/2 marathon, Ottawa 1/2 Marathon, ‘races’ like that for fun and to give me something to motivate myself to get our there and train. I’m also  fortunate to have done a lot of traveling and have run road races not only in Japan but also in Tanzania and The Netherlands. I eventually got into triathalon and joined the Halifax Triathlon Club and started doing group training sessions.  During my first year of medical school I trained with the cross country club at Dal which was an incredible (albeit humbling) experience which hugely improved my running. Since then I’ve done a bunch of 5k and 10k road races, a few marathon’s and a handful of 1/2 marathons.

And then I got into trail running. At first, just casually and for fun/training to mix it up. And belive it or the the first and only significant endurance distance run I have ever done was ‘for fun’. My ex-boyfriend/training partner and I decided one Saturday for fun we would run Cape Chignecto in Nova Scotia..it’s somewhere around 50km. We started out late (I think we decided, or rather I decided, it was imperative that we go to the farmers market for Mary’s Cinnamon Buns before we headed out of town). But I loved it! We had a ton of fun, seriously. Except for the fact that we ran the last 10+ km in the dark….bad planning on our part.

Then I moved to B.C. for residency (and ended up staying…another story!) and found myself getting more and more into trail running. Then I meet this super cute resident in the same year as me who is also into trail running who tells me about some awesome trail runs in Victoria (spoiler alert: WE’RE NOW MARRIED WITH THREE ADORABLE BABIES!) So I started getting more and more into trail running and fell in love,  with trail running and also with said resident. I’ve done a few little trail races here and there. But now that we have three beautiful boys and our family is complete I’m excited to start training for some longer distance trail races.

 

IMG_7255

 

I’m fortunate to have a very enabling husband when it comes to fitness so I’ve already gotten the okay and even encouragement to sign up for some races this summer. I’m starting easy with a MEC 5km run at the end of march at Thetis Lake (start slow and build!) and then gradually building up with longer distances doing an 11km trail race at Royal Roads in April and a 7km trail race in Duncan in May. I’ll hopefully do a few more races throughout the summer and my hope is to finish the season off with the Finlayson Arm 28km race in September. I feel like that’s a reasonable distance to aspire to over the coming months. Then maybe next year I’ll tackle the 50km!

Diving back into running after three babies, and only a bit of running in between pregnancies has been challenging. I decided to make it easy on myself by following a training plan. For one thing, it forces me to take things gradually so I don’t go all in too quickly and end up injuring myself. The other thing it does is make me accountable. I’m following this beginner 10km training plan from Running Shoes Guru. Right now I’m on Week 4 of the plan and it’s going well. It’s easy to follow and gradual enough that it’s not overwhelming but definitely starting to challenge me. I’m trying to work on strength on off days through boot camp etc.

So race one is just over two weeks away and I’m excited. I know I won’t be fast, and even though it’s only 5km it will likely hurt. But it will feel so good to get back out there into that community. I love community races. You see people of all shapes and sizes and level of fitness ability. Everyone is so positive and supportive. I’m excited to get back into this world, and also to show it to my children. To show them how important it is to be fit and active and to challenge yourself. Wish me luck!!!

xo

Sarah