Packing Light for Life

The longer I live, the quicker life goes.

  • Somehow, in the blink of an eye, I turned 40.

In fact, I kind of forgot that I am getting old. In the last decade, I feel like I have reverse-aged and become younger than I was when I was 30. It helps to have made some of the hardest decisions of my life and walked through hell a few times. When you travel to hell and back, you learn how to pack light so you can travel faster and get through the chaos sooner.

As my birthday gift from me to you, here are eight life lessons I have learned over the last decade.

1.  Hot Does Not Equal Happy

For every woman out there, please hear me. Being hot only makes you, well, hot.

There is a pervasive lie out there that if you are beautiful, then you are happy. Happiness is an inside job. It is truly accepting yourself, working to be the best version of your self each and every day, and not worrying about your dress size or comparing your latest lash and botox treatment to the newest woman who walked in the room. If you only focus on the outside, all you will have is a beautiful shell with a dark hole where your heart is supposed to be.

Fall harvest in falun

Being yourself might require a machete … just saying …

  • There is always someone prettier, hotter, thinner … but there is no one more ‘you-er’ than you.

So be yourself and learn to live in all your skin.

Focus on your heart, learn to love yourself, and kick ass at being you.

2.  Start.

Someone once said that the best time to start was yesterday and that the second-best time to start is now.

  • Do you want something? Do it. Start. Go. Try. Fail. Be terrible.

Anxiety, fear, worry, and self-doubt are wonderful things because you can have them while you’re hiding away, not living the life you want or while you are living the life you want and experiencing all the things you want in life.

My whole career has been a series of saying, “Sure, I could do that …” and figuring out how to do it. Feeling like a fraud is a feeling that is well known to me like an old friend who often comes and whispers in my ear.

Hey, Crazyloree … ummm, what are you doing? This is going to be terrible!

And when I hear her fear-mongering, I simply smile and give her a giant hug and let her know that we’ve got this. Her presence means I am doing something right and am about to grow and become better at something.

You’ve got this. Just start.

3.  It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster.

Last year around this time, I bought myself a sweet road bike. I went to the store with a budget in mind, but once I met this beauty my wallet and heart opened. It was some of the best money I have ever spent. This summer I rode over 2,150 kms – that is nearly like riding from my house in the subarctic to St. George, UT!

Cycle Edmonton River Valley

It is hard NOT to be happy when this is how you start you day.

  • My first day of riding my new speedy bike was ridiculous.

Clipped in, I had no idea how to shift or to brake. I nearly fell over 5 times and all I wanted was to be back on my familiar mountain bike. Due to my fear of doing an ‘endo’ downhill if I encountered gravel, I braked hard and may have maxed out at 30 kmph. As the summer commuting wore on, you could find me riding at speeds of over 40 kmph on the flat and grabbing my drops on the downhill, hitting 60 kmph without much thought.

My daily output of power didn’t change, I hit every ride hard, trying to go as fast as I could, chasing the man on the red bike up the hills every morning, and racing cars off the line at red lights.

  • Never once was a ride easy, I just got to work faster.

This is also how life works.

The days aren’t easier, you simply get more done and are able to accomplish things you could have years before. If you want more, you just have to put in the effort and not worry about the outcome. When it gets easy, look for a new challenge and pedal hard.

4.  Love Like You’re Going To Lose.

Eventually, you are going to lose, your heart is going to break, and life is going to run you over. As much as I wish that what I just said isn’t true, it is true.

It is easy to live guarded, to not let people in, to not love. When you love, you are giving your power to be in control of what happens with your heart to someone else. Nearly six years ago, when I left my marriage and found myself ready to love again, I made the purposeful choice to give my whole heart to my next love.

Glacier Grey

Anyone who risks going on a glacier with me after I fell over just walking and gave myself a massive black eye just the week before … crazy and fabulous!

To be seen, to see, and to let someone into all of who you are is an act of extreme bravery as you have given them the power to hurt you.

Yet, to spend even one day not loving your person to the best of your ability and living a shallow life is like only seeing in black and white while living in a world of amazing colours.

  • If you knew you only had one more day to love the people in your life, what would you do?

Do those things.

And when your heart breaks into a million pieces, trust that you will eventually rise like a phoenix from the ashes because you know how to love well and took every opportunity you had to do so.

You fly again, it simply takes time.

5.  One Day At A Time.

Entering my thirties, I quit my job, started a business, competed in a bodybuilding show, got extremely ill with an autoimmune disease, and was in a terrible marriage, just hoping to be noticed.

Looking back at the Donloree of 10 years ago, I want to gather her up in her arms and let her know that it is going to get worse, oh so much worse, but that she is going to make it. And the only thing she needs to do is the next, best thing.

Licanbur Atacama Donloree

You can find some pretty beautiful roads on the way to creating the life you want to live.

Building an amazing life comes from living today well.

Being and doing the best that you can and choosing the most healthy, best, and kindest actions and then following through on them one choice at a time creates amazing momentum towards the life you want to be living. It isn’t all shiny, nor is it easy, but it is worth it.

  • You are worth it.

Pick a direction and then worry about today.

What must I do today?

What does an amazing today look like?

What can I move the needle on today?

Taking time to ask these questions and then actioning what comes to you will change your life.

  • Do them even if it means your life implodes. Sometimes the very best thing you can do is start over, even when you think you might not make it.

Stopping is a sure-fire way to not get what you want and will require you to settle for a life that is second-rate. Trust me, I know. For nearly all of my twenties and then half of my thirties, I lived a terrible existence. Choosing to lose everything meant I eventually won a life I love to live, day in and day out. A wonderful man to travel the world and adventure with, a job that makes me crazy because I care so much about it, and friends and family who love me for me, not for making their life work.

Happiness bubbles out of me and it surprises me on a daily basis.

One day, thing, good choice at a time gets you farther than you could ever imagine.

6.  Impress Yourself.

I run with this crazy group of runners who have amazing athletic talent. And then there is me, the woman at the back of the pack whose physique is reminiscent of a farmhand, not a cheetah. The coach and shop owner has woven “Impress Yourself” into his coaching and shop. I am never going to impress anyone who shows up to run. In fact, I am completely un-impressive to most of the Speedsters, but I impress myself.

The fact that I can hike like a mountain goat (I even hiked to the top of Mount St. Helens!), run a half marathon, or cycle 50+ km without any real thought is impressive to the woman who used to weight 60 more pounds, didn’t own a pair of athletic shoes, and couldn’t run for more than one minute without wanting to die. That Donloree of 20 years ago is blown away by who I am today.

And at the end of the day, her opinion is the only one that matters.

Lake O'Hara Huber Ledges

Going beautiful places with wonderful people is not a bad way to go about living life.

  • Are you doing things you are proud of? Do you sit back and think about what you’ve done and a smile crosses your face? Do you love what you are about?

If you answered, “No,” then change something.

And don’t worry about being weird, the world needs more weird.

7.  There is no Can’t, There is Only Won’t.

Overcoming an eating disorder is an epic thing.

I no longer count calories, get up at 4:30 am to do fasted cardio and then eat one rice cake with a tablespoon of peanut butter smeared across it only to be really hungry for the rest of the day.

Going to social events where there is food is no longer a dance of putting things on my plate, smooshing them around so it looks like I ate, and then sneaking away to eat a fully measured meal I had stashed in my massive purse while hiding in the bathroom. I don’t go to bed starving and wake up to starve some more while trying to smile.

Sunset in the Atacama

Fully being who you are and not worrying about how much gravitational pull you have on the earth makes you able to fly!

What this means is that I weigh 15 more pounds than I want to and am an extremely solid woman, coming in at a size 8.

It also means that I eat when I am hungry, I have energy, I am able to laugh from my belly, and food is no longer my enemy. My life is my own and I choose what I do and where I go, being hot according to society is no longer the requirement to live a good life.

The other day, some funny words came out of my mouth.

I can’t lose more weight. This is the size that I am … I am just a solid woman.

Truth be told, I can lose more weight. I can drop 20+ more pounds off my frame, but I won’t. The cost is too high. I value my health, mental and emotional sanity, what I do with my life, and my relationships, I will never sacrifice them again so that I can be the envy of a handful of people.

  • We all have things that we say we can’t do, but in fact, we just won’t do them, don’t want to do them.

Honesty is liberating. It is time to be honest about what you won’t do.

8.  ‘Lost and Scared’ is also ‘Excited and a Million Options.’

Training to be a life coach saved my life.

Learning how to understand what I want in life and being given the tools to chase down the life I want opened up a world of possibility.

  • The art of perspective.

Nothing is only one thing. You are never just scared. Usually nervous, worried, excited, anticipating, and curious all woven together is labelled as ‘scared.’

Yet, what if you are actually excited?

When I find myself feeling lost in the world and not sure what to do, which is a normal experience for me, I remember to see what the possibilities are.

When I am ‘lost’ it means there are a lot of options and no clear path, that I get to make my own way in the world and choose. There actually is no right answer in these scenarios. What an amazing and liberating realization! There are a million and one things you could do, it is yours for the making. When the company I was working for closed its doors and I was unexpectedly jobless with legal fees for my divorce pouring in and paying a mortgage that two incomes were set to pay, it was an opportunity to reset and reorient. Even in the chaos, there was an opportunity to pick something new and try on new opportunities.

The next year was a year of contract after contract, completely unstable work that came and went, dependent on the needs of my clients. And yet, there was freedom and flexibility. Month-long travel to Europe, hiking every weekend in the mountains, and whimsical trips to the coast filled the gaps and I grabbed onto every single one of them, sure that I wouldn’t always have such a ‘chaotic’ life.

It turns out that we normally miss what we don’t have and didn’t necessarily love what we had when we had it the way we wish we would have. So change that story by living well today.

What if lost means options?

What if scared is excited?

What if an ending is a beginning?

Make sure to pack light as you travel through life. There is a big, wonderful, and amazing life waiting for you … don’t delay!

Doing It Right {Mountain Musings}

Over Canada Day weekend, we took advantage of the fact that the holiday was a Monday and planned a mountain adventure with friends.

The plan was rather simple – everyone converge in Radium and spend Sunday hiking Kindersley-Sinclair, a top rated hike in the Rockies. This particular hike requires you to be at least a group of four due to the fact that it is in Grizzly territory.

We were nine, so it was just fine.

The only problem was, well, snow.

Something that is hard to take into account is what the weather will do and how much snow pack will be left at certain times of the year. This year is incredibly late with the melt and as such, we had to modify the plans. Hiking in an avalanche zone just didn’t seem like a good idea.

  • Especially when your name is Donloree.

Instead of doing a 17.5 km hike with 1,055 meters of elevation, I concocted the idea of doing a shuttle hike that required four cars, two at each parking lot, and was 31 km long with what seemed to be 2,000 meters of elevation gain and loss.

Arnica Lake

Mountains make me happy. Especially when you stumble across a gorgeous lake after hours of hiking!

I basically doubled the day and didn’t bat an eyelash.

Nor did anyone else in the group.

The morning arrived and we hit the trails. Within about 23 seconds, the runnerly people in the group picked up the pace and ran away from me and a few others, never to be seen again that day as they were intent on a good day of training and a specific end time.

  • And then there were two.

One of the things that I enjoy about hiking with others is that you have time to have conversations that don’t require constant talking. Long pauses, contemplated answers, and well-examined points are all hashed out on the trail.

On this specific day, I was gifted to be able to hike with a friend who has a welcoming heart. He chooses to be a friend, first and foremost, and doesn’t require anything back other than your open heart. It is always a pleasure to be able to talk to someone and only sometimes use words.

As we headed back down the mountainside from one of the passes after being off course for 3 km, back to the start in search of a friend that might be behind us while Speedy ran ahead to see if she was in front of us, we had an exchange that lodged itself in my brain.

If you aren’t enjoying yourself, then we have to change something so that you can.

Enjoying the View - Arnica Lake

I love stopping to smell the mountain roses!

How much of our lives is pushing through what is and trying to get to the finish rather than making the necessary changes to enjoy the journey?

Like hiking, most of life is working towards mountaintops, not being on them.

The view from a mountaintop is incredible and your heart usually wants to burst with joy when you arrive, but within a short time you realize that you have to keep going. No matter how much you linger, you eventually have to go back down to the start and choose a new mountain to climb.

95% of the hike is either striving for the mountaintop or moving away from it.

Why do we only look forward to 5% of life?

Savouring the process of working towards something means you’ve found a way to live a good life. Isn’t most of life spent climbing, working hard, and moving forward even when your lungs want to explode and your legs are jello?

  • The view from the top doesn’t matter if you don’t have amazing people to share it with and you hate everything about getting there.

How go you about your day is what your life will become, so why not find ways to enjoy it?

Savouring the small things in life matter.

  • Drinking french pressed coffee out of hand thrown pottery mugs at 5:30 in the morning while I write
  • Using the heated seats in my car when it is -40 outside or just whenever I want
  • Planning 3 trips at any given time and making custom Google Maps loaded with a million ideas and about 1,200 to do lists with sharpies
  • Having sheets that make sleep come quick
  • Taking the long way home on my bike whenever I can and want to
  • A glass of wine on the balcony while watching the day slowly slip away into tomorrow
  • Having friends over even when the house isn’t spotless and dinner isn’t perfect
  • Trying new things and allowing myself the option to hate them

Living a life of small pleasures doesn’t mean that you aren’t striving for big accomplishments, it simply means that you are choosing to enjoy both the big and small of life, as much of it as you can.

Kootenay Parkway river

I fully support stopping on the side of the road and exploring, just because you can. Does it really matter what time you get home?

Practicing gratitude and enjoyment of the mundane, every day life means that when chaos and hard times come, which they always do, you have the ability to still have something to enjoy, something to look forward to, something to appreciate.

  • In the midst of the horrible, you can still find a way to live a good life if you’ve practiced how to when things were going well.

By learning how to weave in good moments into the fabric of your day, the tapestry of your life suddenly becomes a piece of art that you don’t mind having on display.

What must you change in order to enjoy your day? Your life?

Planning Faux Pas Or Fabulous Fashion Sense?

Some mornings start out perfect.

Wednesday was the perfect morning. Up at 5:30 am, drinking french press coffee, writing, and then cycling to the office on a beautiful, summer morning.

I couldn’t help by stop and take a picture of the gorgeous morning sky. 

As I was enjoying the view, my biking nemesis pedalled by. The daily chase of the man on the red bike was on. While I nearly caught him on the uphill and was foiled but the changing of traffic light, I had a thought.

I should really keep some work clothes at the office. You know, have a backup outfit or three in case something goes wrong. Yes. I am SO organized. I will do that.

Just moments later, it went wrong.

Pulling my clothes out of my backpack, I had everything but my wraparound blouse. No matter how much I rummaged in the backpack, it was not there.

  • Disaster.

A woman really needs a shirt to get through the day. Especially when she is the HR Manager.

Who talks to the HR Manager about her inappropriateness at the office when it is the HR Manager who is running around with a skin tight bike jersey on or just her bra?

Exactly.

Zipping my sweaty, skin tight bike jersey back on, I hurried to my office to see what my options were. A spring coat was hanging in my wardrobe. It is a funky coat I keep just in case the office is extremely cold. Quickly buttoning up the three massive buttons, I partially unzipped my jersey so it would no longer be visible and tucked the corners under my bra straps for safekeeping.

Not sure if I should put my running shoes on and have a quick jog to the nearby mall, I had a quick confab with the Executive Assistant.

DonloreeSo, I have a personal question to ask you.
Executive AssistantUh, sure?
DonloreeDoes this look like an outfit to you? (small twirl)
Executive AssistantWhat? Yeah … it’s a cute coat. (Pause) What is going on?
DonloreeI forgot my shirt today. Do you think I can wear this all day and get away with it?
Executive Assistant (laughing) – Yes, totally fine. You are always cold in the office. Perhaps your office is extremely cold today? *wink*

Sitting down at my desk, I wondered if people would think it odd that I was wearing a coat when it was going to be nearly 30 degrees outside.

“Nice outfit!”

“Such a cute top!”

“Love the print, where did you get it?”

Perspective.

Apparently I was wearing the best outfit of the day. The compliments kept rolling in and even came the day after.

“I just love your tops. Especially that top you were wearing yesterday. Or was it a coat? Whatever it was, stunning.”

I just laughed and tried not to tell everyone that they were witnessing a massive planning faux pas, not a fabulous fashion choice.

Due to the meeting schedules, there was not time to run the 2 km each way to the mall and try to find, buy, change into an appropriate shirt, and cool down enough not to be pouring sweat during my afternoon meeting with the boss.

Even if I did have time, I am still cut off from running. Re-injuring my hamstring in an effort to be less weird didn’t seem like a good idea. One ridiculous adventure shouldn’t be followed by another, if one can help it.

I rocked the jacket look all day long and applied extra deodorant when it got too hot.

specialized ruby edmonton

Own your weirdness!

After three compliments and five applications of deodorant, I realized no one was the wiser and it seemed I made the right choice to just stay put and pretend I meant to wear the jacket as a top.

Let’s be honest, I am weird, might as well embrace it.

Let’s just say, I am compiling some ‘emergency‘ clothes for the office because I am not sure what I would do if I forgot my pants … and that is not something I want to find out any time soon.

  • Somehow I don’t think I can craft a wrap skirt out of my pashmina and get away with it …

I am simply going to try to keep future adventures to things like biking 50 km after work, hiking to the tops of mountains, and enjoying fabulous corners of the earth.

Anyone else out there found themselves shirtless at the office?

Cycle Chic {On Riding}

Most mornings, April to October, I can be found clipped into my bike pedalling towards work. My hair, sometimes still damp, is flying out behind me and my small, packed to the hilt backpack is crammed full of high heels, a dress, dangly earrings, and some sort of lunch.

  • Let’s just say I have come to embrace wrinkle free fabrics and become an expert clothes roller.

After a few years of cycle commuting, I finally ditched the hairdryer and straightener … there is only so much you can haul back and forth before your pack or back gives up the ghost.

All of this results in a rather interesting hairstyle.

I call it Cycle Chic.

Within nine minutes of arriving at the office, I have transformed from the woman in the stiff cycle shoes and chamois padded spandex shorts to high heels, a dress, and a hairdo that embraces a wave reminiscent of bicycle helmet hair vents.

  • You can only do so much in life and apparently having fabulous hair isn’t high on my list of priorities.

Within twelve minutes, a messy bun or a cute side pony to show off my earrings has been pulled into place and then the next eight hours are spent around a boardroom table or doing HR things which sometimes makes my head want to explode.

Donloree and her bike

I trade having great hair for happiness. Sometimes you just can’t have both!

The ride home is always the perfect way to decompress.

Usually by the time 5:00 pm rolls around, I rarely want to ride but as soon as I clip in and my Garmin reaches 25 kph, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried.

One of my happiest places in the world is being clipped into my bike, exploring a fabulous trail or racing down a bike path as fast as is safe for a clumsy woman such as myself.

This week it has been snowing which means riding to the office was not in my best interest. Sliding off the road and having another trip in the ambulance with my bike is not something I want to do again any time soon.

  • Welcome to May in the subarctic!
YEG River valley bike trail

My happy place. Clouds, open trails, and my bike.

When I came home from work on Monday and found a quiet house filled with expectations of making dinner, cleaning, invoicing my clients, and other miscellaneous adult tasks, it didn’t take much for me to swap my heels for clips and hit the trails.

The morning snow was gone and before I could decide to be responsible, I was layered in spandex and Gortex and was speeding towards the river valley.

I rarely ride with anyone but myself.

In fact, I shy away from riding in groups or with others because when I am in the saddle, listening to the hum of my hub and trying to avoid death while clipped in, my thoughts and feelings meet me.

I sort through the days and years and take time to think through who I was and who I am becoming, remembering that the only thing I have control over is right here, right now.

Edmonton road biking

Sometimes you’re the only one out there … and oftentimes, it is more than ok!

Your now is incredibly important, despite how it often feels.

The moments and days go quickly and seem insignificant, but they are the things that add together to make your life and shape the potential and opportunities of the future.

If you want something tomorrow or to be someone who can do something incredible, you have to work for it now and choose to keep going despite how hard, ridiculous, or demoralizing it can be at times.

Success is when opportunity knocks and your unique blueprint of hard work, skills, and experience is the key that unlocks the door.

I often feel like I don’t fit in and am the odd woman out everywhere I go. Which, after all these years is no longer stressful, it just is. There are moments in life which require a woman who embraces Cycle Chic hair and when those moments come, there I am.

There is more.

Being able to climb hills that used to require me to hop off and finish on foot brings a smile to my face and gratitude for the me who decided to start biking all those years ago. Gratitude for the woman who couldn’t do what I can do now, but opted to fail time and time again in search of elusive success and fitness.

I ride with the woman I was yesterday and the woman I will be tomorrow, striving to make them both proud of my effort and who I am each day – both clipped in and not.

Starting is important, but even more important is continuing and practicing your craft and sport no matter your speed, no matter your current limitations.

Each and every day, I strive to practice who I want to be.

I want to be the woman who takes time to see you, all of you, when you show up at my desk in crisis, the woman who doesn’t care what people think and rides to work in spandex and has high heels in a backpack, and a woman who embraces failure as a means to develop success.

Mactaggart Sanctuary

Get out there and explore, even when it looks like it might storm. The destination is worth the journey

When you choose to fail at something over and over again, there are small gains and improvements, despite the continual failure. To finally make it to the top of a massive hill without walking, having your chest explode, or falling over while still clipped in is an amazing feeling – both in the saddle and in life.

You don’t know if you can do something until it is done. So don’t stop …

… even if it means embracing Cycle Chic hair.

If You Let It

Auntie! Build a castle to the sky with us!

The call of her sweet innocent voice from behind a pair of pleading brown eyes framed in windblown hair lured me away from the waves and back up to the beach.

It is hard to turn down one of the cutest little girls on the planet.

Sand.

The beach has taught me something profound about life.

When scooping up sand to build castles to the sky for my nieces, the best way to get a lot of sand all at once is to put my hands together open, palms up. Although effective, it is precarious. The sand can fall and anyone can knock it out of my hands, but if I try to protect the sand by making fists I can barely hold any sand at all.

  • The tighter my fists, the less sand I can hold.

I find this is true in life too.

As hard as it is, I try to live with open hands and not clench the people I love, my dreams, work, and plans in my fists.

It is vulnerable to live like this; it means I am not in control nor is there guaranteed security with what I have in my life, yet I have more than I thought possible when I keep my hands open.

Photo

Keeping my heart open.

Living with open hands and an open heart means you get to receive as well – you are ready to receive amazing people and great things when they come. If all I did was clench my hands around what I already have, I wouldn’t be ready to receive when opportunities come along.

The longer I keep my hands open, it seems the more I am able to hold.

  • And the more I have to lose.

While updating my personal information at my Financial Planner’s office awhile ago, we went over the fact that the job on file was no longer my job because the company I was working for went bankrupt. It had been awhile since the woman who was starting over at the age of 35, had just been handed a mortgage that two people were supposed to be paying, and still had thousands of dollars in divorce *ahem* freedom bills coming her way showed up on his doorstep. The woman with a broken heart, a few pairs of fabulous shoes, and a hope of a much less traumatic future who was putting one step in front of another day by day and painfully making her way through the world.

Financial Planning Man – “Wow. You really have been through a lot, haven’t you?”
Donloree – “And you only need the half of it.”
Financial Planning Man – “Some people have it rough … not sure why …”
Donloree – “The only good thing about tragedy, heartbreak, and loss is that it can make you an extremely compassionate person.”
Financial Planning Man – “Really? It seems to make people bitter.”
Donloree – “Well … only if you let it. Who you become, in all circumstances, is up to you.”
Financial Planning Man – “Hmmm… never thought of it that way.”

Open heart.

All of us know so little about what really has gone on in each other’s lives. We don’t know the journey the person in front of us has taken or what the experiences they have gone through to make them who they are; we simply see them and know them now.

  • And we judge. Oftentimes harshly.

What if we stopped the judging and simply saw each other and accepted each other with open hearts?

What couldn’t we accomplish if we chose to accept, receive, and let people be who they are rather than try to make them who we want them to be?

Photo

What if we chose love instead of selfishness?

So many people grasp their grains of sand with a death grip, desperately trying to preserve the little that they have left, that their hearts atrophy and love is something they only know of from fairy tales and in other people’s lives.

  • I know what it is like to lose. To lose nearly everything. To have empty hands and have to start over again.

In these moments of loss, when the sky turns darker than a moonless night in winter and the future seems hopeless, the bravest and most courageous thing you can do is simply stay open and choose to keep going and get ready to receive, to choose to love, and put one fabulously clad foot in front of the other.

Open up your hands and build a sand castle to the sky while waiting to see what the wind brings.

  • Wind has brought me some incredible things and people over the years.

Eventually, the winds of change will come and when it is your turn to both let go and receive, try your best to have open hands and an open heart.

Photo

The gift of loss and brokenness is learning how to expand, how to rebuild, and how to let the light shine through.

When the winds of change come, are you going meet it with open hands and heart? What kind of person will you let yourself become?

Running for Rape Prevention

Running away from reality for weeks on end is something I think everyone should do now and again.

Some people call this vacation; I call it keeping my sanity.

Now my style of vacationing is not for everyone. I like to run around and explore things, climb mountains, walk for 20 kilometers one day in a city seeing what there is to see, and tromp across a country going from place to place to place.

El Chalten, Laguna Torre hike

Whenever possible, find yourself in beautiful places and ENJOY!

  • I usually need a vacation from my vacation by the time I am back home.

Something interesting about vacation is that you learn about yourself in new ways, you see yourself in places and are in situations that you aren’t in every day and there are some ah-hah! moments along the way.

For instance, after spending three weeks in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, I now know that I:

  • Actually do like fruits and vegetables and would miss them if they were no longer in my diet.
  • Can overcome my Canadian ‘niceness’ and leverage all my Spanish skills to get us on a plane that we have tickets for but no seats and somehow ensure we are first in line of the 12 people that the airline decided to screw that day.
  • Am still not agile enough to grab a camera lens before it rolls down a massive sand dune and is lost forever.

My biggest revelation this trip was figuring out why I run.

Nearly every time I run with the Speedsters, someone asks me the dreaded question.

What are you training for?

Nothing, the answer is nothing.

I am not going to solo Sinister 7, the Death Race is nowhere on my agenda, and running a three hour marathon is nowhere in my genetic potential.

  • My running goals usually have to do with staying upright and not getting lost from the group.

You may find me running a random cross country race, a 10K, or even a half marathon, but that is about it and usually with about 12 minutes of notice, simply because I feel like it – nothing more.

So imagine my surprise when I find I actually do run for a very specific and practical reason.

I run for rape and pillage prevention.

Not in general, just for me … my own personal rape and pillage prevention foundation.

We spent three weeks exploring the south of South America. Buenos Aires, Colonia del Sacramento, El Calafate, El Chalten, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine, Punta Arenas, Calama, San Pedro de Atacama, and Santiago.

  • 269 kms hiked, 10 places visited, and logistics galore.

With the agenda I had created, there really was no room for error; all the flights, buses, car rentals, and boat transfers needed to work.

It was encouraging when we arrived at El Calafate that there was a man at the rental car counter and he knew we were coming, even if it did look like we woke him up from a nap.

After a lot of conversation about how to drive in Argentina and what to do and not to do when driving as well as a lot of highlighting about how to not break the car, including watching the doors for wind, we were on the road in a cheap, white Ford.

Perito Moreno, here we come.

Perito Moreno

Seeing this gem was high on my list!

Photo

Experiencing this massively tall glacier was high on my list. After a quick bite at a corner café, we were on the road.

  • After about two kilometers of driving, there was a little ding. I looked to see what it might be and nothing seemed amiss.

Perhaps the cheap, white Ford was just happy to be on the road?

I shrugged and we kept driving towards the glacier. After all, we had to get there and enjoy it before it closed since we were only in El Calafate for the afternoon and it closed in 3 hours.

It was getting warm in the car, so I turned on the air conditioner, full blast. Heat came out.

Strange.

As we started up a hill straight into the extreme wind, the car struggled. I thought it was due to Ford’s choice to make a gutless, extremely basic car – it was no match for the wind.

Putting it in fourth did nothing. The car started to choke, sounded like it was stalling, and then it slowed.

  • With the pedal to the metal, the gutless car was able to muster 60 kmph up the hill.

The ding happened again and this time when I looked at the dash, the red engine light was on and we were overheating. Pulling over onto side of the road near the top of the hill, we wondered what to do as the car buffeted and threatened to topple in the wind.

No cell coverage. No town. No water. No food.

Just a whole lot of wind and arid, empty landscape.

El Calafate

Beautiful … but rather devoid of help when you need it …

Springing into action, we applied sunscreen, I pulled my hair into a bun, we put all our money and ID in our pockets, and then started down the hill to look for a cell connection and help.

Nervous to leave the car behind, but more nervous to die on the side of a windy hill in nowhere Argentina, I followed, hoping no one would steal our stuff.

  • Losing all your belongings in Patagonia, just one week into a three-week trip seemed less than ideal.

Being kidnapped from the side of the road and sold into slavery wasn’t high on my list either, but a woman’s got to do what a woman has got to do when life hands her a crappy rental car in the middle of nowhere.

Speedy said what I was thinking. “I really wish I knew more about this part of the world, if it is safe for us to leave our stuff here or if one of us should stay with the car.”

Relief filled my veins. I knew we needed to divide and conquer.

“I will go. Give me the papers. I speak Spanish and I have my new runners on. I am ready.” I replied as I pointed to my new-for-the-trip trail running shoes which I had slapped on my feet earlier that morning for some reason rather than my ballet slippers.

  • It was fate.

With hesitation, he turned his back to the wind and expertly tucked the rental papers in the plastic file folder that I had with all the travel information and then kissed me goodbye.

“Worst-case scenario, I will be back with a taxi. Wait here.”

And I was off running.

“You don’t have to run you know!”

“I know. But the wind is pushing me.”

As I ran, I wondered what the heck we were doing … perhaps my adventurous spirit had gotten the better of me.

Cars and buses full of tourists whizzed by, all confused at the very white woman who was running with a clear plastic zip file folder full of papers.

I was just glad that they were all tourists and not the South American mob.

The threat of having a car of bad men patrolling the area for foreign women that they could sell into slavery seemed low, so I just kept going and somehow a smile and laughter found its way to my mouth.

I couldn’t actually walk down the hill with the force of the wind, so I let it push me at a slow run back towards civilization. The sweat poured off my elbows as I jogged and I was glad that I had drank a whole bottle of water at lunch. And then I was nervous for Speedy, alone and without food or water. I had no idea how long this was going to take.

As I ran, I saw what looked to be an Estancia off in the distance. I wondered what the people there were like and if they were friendly … if they would be ok with a Canadian woman with crazy hair and medium Spanish skills landing on their doorstep, asking for help.

As I neared, I realized it was the Glaciarium, a place I had mocked when reading about it in the Lonely Planet book. Never so glad to see a museum about ice in my life, I checked the hours of operation on the road sign and was happy to see they are open daily until 7:30 pm.

Glaciarium El Calafate

Help might be on the way!

It was only 5:15 pm – perhaps I had time to be rescued.

The road sign let me know that I had another 1,300 meters to hit the front door. With help in sight, I started running uphill on the rocky terrain. I actually felt athletic and was glad that I go to Fast Trax twice a week.

  • A girl needs to be able to run for help when life requires it!

Coming through the front doors, I made an effort to not look like I was in complete crisis, which was hard since I was sweating like crazy and my hair was a complete disaster from the wind.

Luckily, I had taken the kilometer and a half up the hill to practice my speech.

I opened the door and pretended to look at the signs and brochures, as though I was there to see the video on glaciers. I wiped the sweat pouring off my brow and sauntered up to the desk and asked if the woman spoke Spanish. She looked at me with a furtive smile, “A little.”

“Bueno. Hablo un poco de Español.”

I had no idea how to call anyone in the country, my previous attempt at trying to call a taxi company in Buenos Aires proved that no matter how many numbers I put into the phone, I would never make the phone ring.

After watching her eyes widen at my story of disaster on the side of the road, I asked her to call the rental car company for me. She dialed like a phone maven and handed it to me once it was ringing.

From her intense listening to the phone after punching 48 numbers into the phone, it seemed like ringing after dialing wasn’t always a thing that happens in Argentina.

Thus began a long, random conversation with the man at the car rental place.

After we agreed that I did in fact rent a car from his company just hours previous, we had to get to the part where it broke, how it broke, what we didn’t do to make it break, and where both Speedy and I were and how we weren’t together.

The hardest part was ensuring that he knew that Speedy was with the car and that I wasn’t with the car, but at the Glaciarium, NOT the Glacier.

  • The second and third largest issues were ensuring that he picked us up, not just the car and that there would be a replacement car for us as we were due in El Chalten for the night.

“Glaciarium. Museo. No hielo.”

“So you at glacier? It is very pretty.”

“No. Estoy a la Glaciarium. Es un museo circa de El Calafate. You have to pick me up and pick up the car – two places, two people. Hay dos lugares a los que debe ir.”

“I call you back. 5 minutes at this number.”

The most troubling part was there was no hope or clear plan when the dial tone sounded.

Eight minutes later, I acquired help to call back.

“I was just calling you. A truck is coming for the car. Una hora.”

“But what about me? I’m not with the car.”

“Ok. He come for you. Then you get car.”

“One hour?”

“Si, una hora.”

“What is the name of the man coming for me?”

“Antonio. Big truck. You will see him. Adios.”

The sweat had finally dried and my internal body temperature had returned to normal. There was a plan. I am a woman who loves a plan. Now with time to kill, I shopped in the gift shop, bought postcards for my nieces and wrote in them, looked around the outside of the building, and bought some water.

38 minutes left.

When you’re waiting for rescue, life goes slowly.

65 minutes later, my North American time clock was ticking and Antonio was late.

Lateness brings its friend anxiety with it every time it shows up.

Suddenly, the petite woman with the ability to dial numbers and make the phone ring came up and rattled something off in fast Spanish.

My brain was moving under water. “No entiendo.” I don’t understand.

“You have to go to road. Man in big truck get you there. He called. He is coming now.”

“He’s picking me up on the carretera?”

“Si. Ahora.”

Yelling, “GRACIAS POR TODO!” over my shoulder, I started the kilometre and a half run back down to the highway.

  • I didn’t want to miss my ride back to civilization.

Arriving at the road, it was just me, the beautiful view, and some tumbleweed … for a really, REALLY long time.

5 minutes. 10 minutes. 15 minutes.

Buses and cars full of tourist on their way to the glacier zoomed by. No big truck. Looking towards town, I scoured the highway in hope of seeing a big truck driven by a man named Antonio.

Nothing.

15 more minutes.

Did I miss him? The Glaciarium was closing soon … in about 20 minutes I would be without someone who can actually dial a phone in Argentina and make it ring on the other end.

  • Disaster and being sold into slavery started to feel like a possibility.

I decided to not panic for another 10 minutes. With the time for losing my mind set for 7:15 pm, I relaxed and enjoyed the view of the lake and interesting landscape.

Without notice, a very large truck rolled in behind me and bared down on me. Apparently my time to panic needed to be moved up from 7:15 pm to NOW. Being all alone, I wasn’t sure what to do when the door opened and the men in the truck started in on whatever it was that they had in mind. I fervently prayed that some tourists would drive by and rescue me as I was being pulled into the truck kicking and screaming.

The door opened and Speedy tumbled out. It was my rescue! Somehow he got Speedy, the car, and all our belongings, and didn’t grab me.

In fact, it seemed like he didn’t actually know to get me.

When he rolled up to the car, he had no English words for Speedy, just a winch and expertise of fetching broken rental cars on this road.

I climbed up into the cab, made space amongst tools, greasy rags, and the gearshift, and wedged myself between a man named Antonio and Speedy.

“You are Antonio! Amazing.”

“Si.”

Antonio is apparently a man of few words.

After dropping the car off at the repair shop and being dumped on a corner in town, we were in line to get a replacement car and continue our adventure which included having a Dutch woman throw herself at our car in the dark on the highway and demand ride into town. Her boyfriend was trapped on a cable run and hanging over a river, trying to avoid a horrible death; in fact she was pretty sure he was dead.

  • My Spanish and calming panicked people skills were required once again as I translated the crisis to Spanish for the rangers.

In the end, just like our car, it turned out to be a rather minor incident and deciding the worst is about to happen is never a good idea; it never helps you make good decisions.

El Chalten road, fitz roy

The road to adventure is a beautiful thing.

When people ask me what I train for while running, I am now going to tell them to be able to run for help when traveling in a foreign country.

I run for rape prevention.

Not in general, just for me – my own personal rape prevention foundation.

It is nice to have a reason for doing what you do.

Maybe I am not crazy after all.

Sucker For Punishment

Earlier this winter, while attempting to be sporty I fell hard on the ice in a dark corner of the river valley.

Lying on the ice underneath Edmonton’s newest attempt at upgrading our city, I stared up at the funicular, wondering if I was going to pass out or throw up from the pain and also how many homeless men just witnessed my ridiculousness.

I decided to tough it out, but three weeks later I was still not sleeping and biking, running, weight training, and getting dressed in the morning were harder than they should be, so I went to a physiotherapist for some help.

A thin, blonde, judgemental physiotherapist.

When I called the clinic, I was disappointed that I couldn’t get in to see the recommended physiotherapist, but there was an opening with the blonde, so I took it.

Before I went to the appointment, I was surprised that I was able to get in so quickly but once I experienced her judgements, I realized I was never going to come back and that I wasn’t the only one.

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – So you fell and didn’t go see a doctor? And now you’re here because you’re in pain? How much pain are you in? On a scale of one to ten?

Donloree – What’s one and what’s ten?

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – One nap on a beach, ten you’re bleeding out on the highway after just being run over.

Donloree – Well that’s quite the range … four? Maybe I do have high pain tolerance. Maybe it is a six on your scale?

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – Sure. So if you’re not in much pain, why are you here?

Donloree – Because I am in pain, can’t sleep, can’t move my arm, and I have no strength …. but I am going to live. No calls for 911 required.

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – But you didn’t go to see a doctor? Why? 

Donloree – Sometimes it hurts with white hot pain and then gets better. At least I can concentrate at work again, but I can’t lift my purse. Perhaps I need to take some things out of it? Of course I do, but as you know, a woman needs things! And she should be able to put her purse on the passenger seat of the car without weeping, right?

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – It’s fine. We are a primary care center. We can treat you. It’s just that if you were in as much pain as you claim, don’t you think you would have gone to a doctor?

Needless to say while she was jamming her fist into my rotator cuff, I nearly jammed my fist into her solar plexus. But being Canadian and a woman, I took her patronizing instructions to heart and nodded in a docile fashion, after all, I was paying for the adventure in scolding, might as well get something, anything out of it.

I left with a few feet of yellow physio banding and instructions on how to move my arm and where to shove a lacrosse ball into my shoulder until tears leaked out of the corners of my eyes.

Diligently, I did those things for a few weeks, hoping strength and mobility would come back.

Sleep remained to be fleeting and lifting more than 10 pounds over my head remained impossible. Sadly, chasing down my goal of a 100 pound overhead shoulder press was put on the back burner.

Christmas, an incredibly busy job, additional contracts for writing and coaching to do in my non-existent spare time, and some random home renovation projects, along with being a human who loves people filled up every inch of my life.

Time to go to physiotherapy didn’t exist and fear of the Bearded Physio Man kept me from booking an appointment.

  • It would get better on it’s own … right? 

While lying awake, again, at 3:17 am, wondering what it would take to learn to sleep on my left side and then getting up to rummage around or some Advil to help me sleep for another 2 hours and 28 minutes, I realized I needed to swallow my fear and book an appointment with the Bearded Physio Man.

In reality, after he shoved some needles armpit deep into my arse and rendered me useless and unable to walk, I was actually healed. I have been running without excruciating pain for months now.

Embracing the pain.

Bearded Physio Man – You’re back! Where have you been? What are we treating today? How’s the glute?!

Donloree – I fell. Two months ago. I still can’t lift anything over my head and I am pathetic. Everything is hard and my pants are starting to feel tight due to less physical exercise. Help. I just want my pants to fit again.

Bearded Physio Man – And your shoulder to stop hurting, right?

Donloree – Side benefits are welcome.

After the tests which involved trying to push him all around with my right arm and being officially pathetic at most of it, the diagnosis of a strained rotator cuff and strained long head bicep was pronounced.

Bearded Physio Man – So how do you want to do this?

Donloree – The way where I don’t see you much. And when I am in South America in a few weeks exploring the Andes, I am able to put on a backpack without crying.

Bearded Physio Man – So the painful way. You hate needling, right?

Donloree – Who likes it? 

Bearded Physio Man – True. It always hurts you way more than it hurts me.

While shoving a needle into my shoulder, we discussed my upcoming travel plans and how not having children makes my life better than his in an effort to keep me from screaming and swearing too loudly.

Donloree – Sorry about that. I really don’t mean to grab onto you while we do this. You really think I wouldn’t grab you anymore.

Bearded Physio Man – True. I’m used to it by now. So you did this running? 

Donloree – Trying to be sporty, embracing life and all.

Bearded Physio Man – You know you could just go to Mexico and get a tattoo in an inappropriate location if you are looking to feel alive. Fitness could kill you. They have a cure for Hepatitis now, which makes it pretty much risk free! You should really consider making wiser choices.

My retort was squelched by a primal scream as my arm flopped around on the table like a fish out of water.

Bearded Physio Man Looks like someone was doing some decent work at the gym before she fell. Look at those shoulders.

Donloree – What every girl needs to hear – check out the linebacker shoulders!

Bearded Physio Man – I didn’t say you and Peyton Manning share a tailor or anything.

Donloree –  But if the football pads fit?

Why does the path to betterment always hurt when your name is Donloree?

  • Lesson of the week. Go with what you know works, even if it makes you scream and unable to effectively shift your little red car on the way home.

Instructions to ice twice a night and do many seemingly ridiculous exercises shall be followed by your’s truly. The epic, south of the equator adventure is looming and I just want to be able to put my backpack on all by myself.

Also? Maybe I should take up a few less risky behaviours and learn to skydive or downhill BMX …

Running may just kill me.

My Happiness Secret

2018 has nearly come and gone, which means my 39th year on the earth has nearly come and gone.

Being born two weeks before the end of the year means, at least for me, that planning, goal setting, and dreaming of accomplishment starts early for the upcoming year. The planning is always a bit ridiculous, but what else are you going to do on the short, cold winter days, other than plan for the days when the sun never sets and adventure is calling?

And the reflections … those happen too.

It seems that every year has a theme, whether I chose it or not. The last year has been about acceptance, more specifically self acceptance.

What you want and what you get aren’t always the same.

Acceptance is an art form which requires perseverance to go through things when life hits hard, wisdom to know when you need to give yourself a break or keep pushing, courage to change things in your life that don’t work for you, and optimism to remind yourself of everything you have and what is possible.

Photo

  • Acceptance is anything but passive.

Oftentimes I wonder why I run, especially this past year. 2018 has been a year of injuries, plateaus, and inability, culminating in a fall on the ice that resulted in a severe rotator cuff strain. While laying on the ice in the dark river valley and trying not to pass out from the pain response, all I could think was, “I was just trying to be athletic … will I ever be competent at this sporting thing?” The tears on the 3 km walk back home were more about my inabilities than the pain.

Nearly half of my 2,250 kms this year were modified, trying to recover from injury and going slower than I wanted to go.

Yet where else can I practice the art of active acceptance like I can with running?

I am one of the most competitive people I know. I am also one of the least athletic people I know.

  • When you put these two things together, well, it is just funny. And deeply disappointing on a personal level.

A childhood full of reading books, studying Spanish, working at McDonalds after school, and baking ensures that my biomechanics are severely underdeveloped and my imagination and ability to create a future out of words is overdeveloped.

Now, if you need me to walk up and down mountains all day long and carry heavy things long distances without caring how long it takes, I am your woman. Unfortunately, this is not a valuable commodity in today’s world.

Like any good cake, it is good to have a few layers; let’s add in being a woman.

My Eastern European heritage and fabulous autoimmune disease ensures that I will never be thin and willowy unless I embrace an eating disorder. Trust me. About 10 years ago, I gave it everything, and I mean EVERYTHING to become society’s picture of perfect and it literally nearly killed me.

  • Enter the battle of ‘er’.

Thinner. Hotter. Smarter. Richer. Funnier. Cuter. Curvier. Fancier. Faster. Stronger. Smoother. Younger. Prettier. Bustier. Perkier.

Part of being a woman is not being told you’re not enough and fighting the constant losing battle of age and society’s expectation of perpetual youth.

The comparison trap is real, even when you’re 38, nearly 39-years-old.

The hardest realization I’ve had to accept as an adult is that I am severely average.

I am never going to win a race if more than 10 people show up; a sponsored athlete, I will never be. Giselle has nothing to worry about with me running around in the world in my size 8 pants. And I didn’t burst onto the scene at the age of 25 as an amazing writer who wowed society with her abilities which outshine her age.

Growing up and being told that you’re special and amazing is sweet … but suddenly one day, you just realize that it’s not true.

The gift of this realization and resulting acceptance was a deep relief that I’ve been living up to and expanding my potential even though it didn’t previously feel like it.

Through these past years, I have found the secret for happiness – be weird, lean into the chaos, and enjoy the ride.

Just accept your weird self and do not try to fit into any societal molds or measure yourself by other people’s expectations.

  • Do your thing, be great at what you want to be great at, and don’t worry about things that you aren’t great at if they don’t matter to you.

I will never be a domestic goddess or athletic superstar, but loving my people well, writing, being great at my job, experiencing wonderful corners of the world, and summiting beautiful mountains; these things I will be amazing at and do with my whole heart.

Suddenly the world opens up and you find yourself doing things that you never thought possible, living a happy life which results in not being able to think of one thing to put down on a ‘What to Accomplish Before I Turn 40” list because you’re already doing everything you had previously been dreaming of.

Donloree Angel's Landing

Grab the moments when they come and savour them. Getting to the beautiful places isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it!

Acceptance is a deep understanding of what is true and what exists, but it doesn’t mean you have to live in your current situation or boundaries.

Acceptance is the starting line, where you go to next is up to you.

Pushing, building your capacity, failing, getting up, smiling, and remembering that the whole thing is a journey and not a destination is active acceptance.

And perhaps that is why I run, simply to practice expanding myself so I can build my capacity to keep going, do more than yesterday, and build an amazing life. Even if I am only merely average to the onlooker, I am amazing compared to the Donloree of yesteryear and that is all that matters. I have spent the last few years doing incredible things with very special people and living a better life than I ever knew was possible and it all started with acceptance, a full heart, and open hands.

Practicing acceptance allows you get to grab onto beautiful experiences and live a great life because you’re not caught up in trying to change other people, complaining, or holding onto bitterness.

And yes, it is true, with a full heart and open hands, you are ready to receive and also lose. The fact that both happen isn’t important. What is important is how you manage through loss and gain; both require acceptance.

Donloree bike country road

When you find yourself in the country, smoked out of the mountains from the summer fires in BC, adventure can still be found. Happiness comes when you are where you are with your whole heart.

Accepting the daily struggle and finding the glass that is half full leads to having bigger glasses to fill.

And eventually you find that you can fill your glass past half full.

What if your glass eventually starts to overfill? What if you just get to be happy?

If I Hold Your Hand, It Doesn’t Mean I Love You

Or even like you all that much.

Even if I do show you my pink, lacy underwear. Again.

Bearded Physio Man – “You really have to stop holding my hand.”
Donloree – “I know. It isn’t because I like you. I don’t trust you.”
Bearded Physio Man – “How about you help by just holding your IT band steady and stop moving?”
Donloree – “It is hard to not want to harm you while you shove needles into my hip you know.”

It is hard to like someone who is stabbing needles into the the tightest part of your arse and then twanging them for good measure.

  • It is possible that I don’t know how to follow instructions. Or that I don’t really read or refer to them much at all.

Needless to say, you never want to build IKEA furniture with me … mostly because I will build it three times, incorrectly in a new way each time, and then finally fish out the instructions with the Oompah-Loompah shaped man showing you what to do. Chagrinned, I will follow his pudgy lead and eventually build it correctly.

I just don’t like instructions.

I am a learn by doing kind of woman.

This is probably why I found myself, once again, desperately trying not to slide off the physio table while squirming away from the Bearded Physio Man and sweating like I was running a marathon in Death Valley in the heat of summer.

If you make me stab myself, it is really going to put a strain on our relationship.
~ Bearded Physio Therapist Man

I thought I followed his instructions. Truly. And I was so happy to have graduated and I really didn’t want to see him again which, in my opinion, is the sign of a healthy patient – physiotherapist relationship.

Apparently I referred to the instructions and threw them in the garbage. Taking it easy to me is biking to work and back 3-4 times a week, running slowly after the Speedsters twice a week with my new, amazing running form, and then hiking up a mountain or three on the weekend.

I really didn’t think I was pushing it.

Now I am back to square one – cut off from everything once again. This past week has been torture just doing my strength exercises as assigned by the Bearded Physio Man, Running Yoda, and my massage therapist who cringes every time I land on his schedule.

After a week of being completely boring and a long weekend that included picking out paint colors and cleaning out the storage closets in my house rather than fun, outdoor adventures, I needed a reprieve.

While trying to get off the physio table and not slip off of it from all the sweating, I brokered a deal.

Donloree – “So am I done? Can I leave the den of torture now?”
Bearded Physio Man – “Yes, off you go to do nothing other than your exercises.”
Donloree – “I have to do something. Please. I am tired of being pathetic.”
Bearded Physio Man – “What do you want?”
Donloree – “I want to hike.”
Bearded Physio Man – (Watching me struggle to stand up) “How long?”
Donloree – “10 km?” (Thinking one way and not saying it out loud)
Bearded Physio Man – “How much elevation gain?”
Donloree – (bats eyelashes while trying to stand up like a normal woman) “900 meters?”
Bearded Physio Man – “Fine. 2 hours. 10 km. No more than 900 meters of elevation gain.”

Proud of my negotiating skills, which definitely need more honing since he gave me everything I asked for, I lumbered out of the office like a drunk elephant.

So I have my instructions, which I have already modified in my weekend planning. If I take out some elevation, doesn’t that give me more distance?

My math makes sense … doesn’t it?

Mountains here I come!

All You Own Is The Effort

In the continuing saga of, Donloree Tries to Become A Runner, I decided to go a different route with the professional help.

  • The one thing that is clear with all of this is my need for professional help.

After graduating from physio, I continued to hurt while running and even hiking. I have continued to do everything I was instructed to do, except for stopping when it hurts. If you are 19 kms into a 34 km hike on top of a mountain, there isn’t much to do other than to keep going.

Skyline Jasper

19 kms into Skyline in Jasper on a blustery day. Sometimes being in the storm is just where you need to be!

Calling for a helicopter seemed like an over reaction to the Bearded Physiotheraptist Man’s instructions to, “When it hurts … STOP.”

In an effort to avoid more needles being shoved into me and then twanged, I sent an SOS message to Edmonton’s running guru and owner of Fast Trax, Jack Cook.

Jack is the Yoda of running.

He is a man of few words with a running resume as long as the North Saskatchewan and also a bit elusive. You never know if he is going to be at the shop, running a race, or even in town – he simply appears from the behind the running shoes in the shop some days. Where he wasn’t, suddenly there he is.

Seeing how there is nothing Yoda-esque about me and I am usually tripping over something, I realized our schedules would never align to talk about my inabilities and get some personalized advice while waiting for everyone to show up to run on a Wednesday night or Saturday morning.

So I sent a smoke signal, AKA Facebook message.

It went something like this ….

Hi Jack – random question. Do you help people figure out how to run better / correctly? I am pretty sure this might be half of my problem. I can’t seem to make it more than 10 km these days without seizing up and I am tired of hurting constantly and being SLOW. Or if you have a recommendation for someone who does this, it would be appreciated. I have also been told I run like Captain Jack Sparrow, if we could work on removing the pirate from my gait, that would also be appreciated. THANK YOU!

Apparently technique advice is something the Running Yoda does – who knew?

I showed up in all my pirate running-esque glory on a Thursday evening just as the work day was ending. My wrap dress, heels, and pearls were quickly swapped out for shorts, a running t-shirt, and my new running shoes specifically made for people with high arches who supinate and heel strike … whatever that means.

All I knew was that I was ready to be assessed.

Which I loudly announced to Jack and the other people in the shop. What can I say? When I get nervous, I tend to talk louder.

A giant smile from the Running Yoda and we were headed towards the treadmill.

The first thing we did was break into a slow walk and then a medium paced walk. Let me tell you, I am amazing at walking. Suddenly confidence that I probably shouldn’t have had filled in all the places fear had been hiding.

  • 5 mph on the treadmill and I was still walking. Like I said, I am amazing at walking.

Finally the treadmill went fast enough that I was forced to run. And I did so in all my heel striking, supinating glory. It was even caught on video. After a bit of running, we assessed my inabilities in slow motion.

Then the exercises and practicing began.

It turns out that my amazing walking is screwing me over. I run like I walk, which is an injury waiting to happen.

  • I actually have yet to become a runner.

I suppose this is why you go see the Running Yoda, how else are you supposed to know these sorts of things?

Due to all my bike riding and weight lifting, I am a quad and calf dominate woman who doesn’t use her posterior chain to move herself forward the way I am supposed to. I basically muscle myself forward and walk extremely fast, so much so that it appears to be running to those casually watching.

Lovely.

Running Yoda“How does it feel when you run?”
Donloree“It hurts. Everywhere. All the time. And it is demoralizing. I am slow.”
Running Yoda – Nods thoughtfully
Donloree – “I just want to be able to run and be happy. And not have EVERYONE run away from me ALL THE TIME. You know those weirdos who say it was fun? I want to be able to say that one day. I guess I want to be a running weirdo.”
Running Yoda – “I see. At least your problems are easy to fix.”
Donloree – “Amazing. I love easy to solve problems. Music to my ears.”
Running Yoda – “We are going back to the beginning.”

  • Anyone who has gone back to the beginning of anything knows that it is absolutely demoralizing.

For the next 30 minutes we worked on my running form while running 2-3 mph.

It is hard to even walk this slow – running at this speed took all my mental discipline.

Many videos of the slowest running on the planet were taken and reviewed and then coaching, exercises, and tweaks were applied. By the time I left, a hoard of snails had lapped me and were at the bar drinking martinis, laughing at the tall, very white woman who runs like an elephant.

I would also laugh if I saw a very white woman running at 2 mph with her arms crossed. In fact, I did laugh … a lot.

Another one of my nervous ticks – laughter.

My new running mantra:

  • Start running earlier, run slow, sooner.
  • Little circles, little circles!
  • Core, chest up, less arms.

I put it all into practice on Saturday morning. Instead of running 26 one-minute intervals with the Speedsters, I simply ran to make the Running Yoda proud. 8 km later, I was suddenly walking extremely fast again and not running. I began to hurt and I lost my ability to make little circles. So instead of trying to muscle out the remaining 4 km back to the shop, I simply called it a day and walked it in.

The good news of Sunday was that everything was sore, not just my right calf. Muscles I hadn’t used in awhile were talking to me and I knew I had done the right thing.

I struggle with the fact that I am nowhere even close to being a decent runner and that on race day, I come across the finish line long after all the Speedsters do.

While the snails were passing me and laughing, the Running Yoda reminded me that none of us are going to the Olympics.

At the end of the day, all I own is the effort.

How much did I give it? Did I give my day everything? Did I make myself proud with how much I tried?

  • Outcomes rarely belong to you. In fact, they don’t.

The only thing you can control is how much effort you give towards your work, training, relationships, and the things you want in life. There is never a guarantee that you will achieve anything, so you had better learn how to have fun along the way.

Photo

Somewhere along the way, I lost my ability to have fun while walking so fast that I appear to be running.

Remembering that the only person I ever need to race is the Donloree of yesterday is an amazing gift. Kicking her ass is a whole lot of fun and the only thing I should ever care about.

At the end of the day when my head hits the pillow, being able to say, “Yes!” in response to, “Did you kick Yesterloree’s ass?” makes a smile stretch from ear to ear.

Impress yourself.
~The Running Yoda

Smiling through life, no matter how hard it happens to be at the moment, is an amazing way to live.

All you own is the effort.