Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Running Chant...

Before I get into the gist of my blog, a HUGE congratulations to all the athletes who competed in the Great White North triathlon this weekend! I had a blast being cheerleader, and although I didn't lose my voice as I normally do, I did find it difficult to walk the next day as I was on my feet the entire time running with athletes and checking on them, jumping up and down (while also waving my arms) and sustaining a sunburn. Oops.
I also had my toe shoes on (Vibram Fivefingers), which I love because they are like being in barefeet. Unfortunately, because I hadn't worn them in a while my feet got all soft and weak from 'regular' shoes so I felt like I did a major weight workout for my feet - they were tight and sore!

It was an exciting day and to see Tom Evans win with such an amazing time was an honour. He is an amazing competitor!!

So I guess I should start telling of my triathlon training tales eh? Well, at the beginning of this year Julie said to me, I sense that this is going to be a big year for you Susi. Lots of change. Boy was she ever correct!

The changes started in about March 2008 and they have been progressing since. My health was deteriorating, I lacked focus, and things just weren't working for me. A couple of different occurences led me on the path known as 'mindfulness'. Slowly but surely I became more aware of how much time my mind spent whirling around planning the future, reliving the past, and just going off on all tangents. Once I started doing that, my health improved and I felt more calm.

I am still in the process of learning to stay in the present moment, but I'm now more aware than ever when I slip back into old, bad habits. And when I do slip, I have to stop and ask myself, what's going on? What's wrong?

I did that after the Chinook Half Ironman a few weeks ago. Part of what I realized was scary...

As much as I love this sport and all that it's given me, I'm starting to lose my passion for it. Just to write that honestly brings tears to my eyes. The sport of triathlon has given me much more than medals. It has helped me grow and become the person that I wanted to be. The one who had found some inner peace.

This is not the realization I was looking for considering I have two Ironman races this year...one a mere 54 days away.

I've been struggling with my workouts lately. Riding 102 km on my own Friday was, well, lonely. Normally I'm great with working out alone. In fact, I need it most times. Now though I feel as if I need someone with me to share in the joy of being outside. Perhaps I hope to gain some of their excitement. I know being at the race this weekend, although I didn't participate as a competitor, did help spark a little excitement.

Some may say if my heart isn't in the Ironman races coming up, then why do them? I've thought of that too. We all know that you have to be able to answer 'Why am I doing this?' on race day...

So why am I racing Ironman Canada? Simple. I have some unfinished business with that race course. It was my first Ironman race in 2007 and it was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced. Things did not go the way I had hoped in a very painful way. The two things that I take from that race that was positive; I finished and I finished with my beloved friend Tigger.

This year, the race is all about staying present the entire time. It will be my greatest challenge yet. There will be no time goal. No concern for what everyone else is doing or how I compare (my usual thoughts). This time it will be a Zen Ironman full of mindfulness. Knowing how these races can be that will be challenge enough.

And of course, this race is in memory and honour of Tigger. There is not a day that goes by since her passing that I don't think about her and want to race for her. The hard part about that will be not bursting into tears every time I think of her. It's so hard to race when you are crying!

As for Ironman Cozumel, well that will be a tourist Ironman! I always thought it would be cool to race internationally so that will be my chance. I wonder if they will serve marguerita's at the aid stations? Kidding, I'm not going to be in that type of tourist mode!

So, now that I have the reasons for my races in my mind and in print, I need to work on finding the passion in my training again.

Monday morning, while I was still in Stony Plain, I got up to go for a run. My feet hurt from the day before, along with my hip flexors. Hmm, perhaps my 0 seconds to sprint mode the day before as I raced ahead to take photos was a bit too much for this turtle?

Anyways, I decided I would walk for five minutes, then start off in a slow run to get the blood going. I wanted to practice my chi running as well. As I left the campground and headed onto a secondary highway I noticed that my mind was wandering all over. The gerbil in my brain had hopped onto the treadmill and was running like mad.

I had a vague sense of this going on, but did nothing. After about 12 minutes, I thought, WAIT! What are you doing?? You were just reading Thich Nhat Hanh's book on mindfulness and how to apply it to your everyday life and here you are with monkey brains. Aside from the fact that I was moving foward, I was not connected to my running in the least! Where was the mindfulness? Where was the chi?

I realized then and there I had to get my head 'in the game'. So I stopped running. I realigned myself in the 'chi' way, started running and started a chant that resembled one of the Buddhist chants I say in my head as I meditate.

It went kind of like this...

  • With each footfall I share energy with Mother Earth
  • With each footfall I gain energy
  • With each footfall I am aware of my whole body
  • With each footfall I am calm
  • With each footfall I am mindful
  • With each footfall I feel peace
  • With each footfall I let the wind blow away all negativity
  • With each footfall I feel light
  • With each footfall I enjoy the purple flowers along the road.

As I said this I felt my body relax. I was aware of my form and the fluidity of my run.

Then when I thought I was going to be mauled by a Rottweiler (one of my favourite dogs I might add) who came charging at me only to be stopped by a fence (I'm still thanking the Universe for that) I then chanted, with each footfall I forgive the scary doggy who wanted to tear my limbs apart.

Here's the wonderous part of all this...I felt amazing on my run! I DID feel light! I felt at ease and limber and so at peace! It was great. At least it's a great start to getting back some of the joy I normally feel when I'm training.

It's obvious there is a lot of change going on for me right now, but I am sure that as long as I stay aware of when my mind jumps off the mindfulness path, then I think I will be able to ride this wave of change like the best surfer in Hawaii!

Peace out my beautiful friends.


  1. Well, well, it sounds like you have found the purpose for each of the IM's this year. That is so much better than, why am I doing this again? BUT, don't forget, this IS the time for second guesses, doubts and worries. IM training is NO joke and, sometimes, it can take the life out of you...if you let it. Balance sista and it sounds like you're there.

  2. Our bodies have a rhythm and a current. Get with it and we can do amazing things. Try to go against the current and it's a fight every step of the way. It's worth it to take the time to help the current flow, and to go with it.

  3. Missy and Keith wrote excellent comments! I learned a lot from reading your post, Susi; and then as another treat, I learned some more from the comments!

    I am very proud of you for having the courage to be completely honest and open with yourself. WOW! It's hard enough to admit to yourself a picture you have painted of yourself is wrong, or is in flux -- it's amazing that you have the insight to call yourself on it and then put it right out there for the whole world to see.

    You inspire me Susi. Thanks for the reminder of Truth. :) :) :)