I recently read an interview with Kellyn Taylor who just debuted with a sizzling 2:28:40 at the 2015 Houston Marathon. When asked about how she juggles life as an elite level athlete, mom and student (to become a firefighter!), she said, "You learn to prioritize or else you miss out on things. Being an elite runner requires you to be selfish and being a mother requires you to be completely unselfish, so they clash in that sense."
She couldn't have said it any better.
As a dietitian, I've seen many overweight middle-aged women with elevated blood cholesterol and/or glucose. They have spent much of their life looking after everyone else, except themselves. You see, they needed to be a bit more "selfish" if you will. It is now that time for me. Me first. Time to be "selfish". Like I've said before, I've got a window. And it is now.
Everything is really starting to come together. And I am more than ready, willing and able to put my head down and get to work. I have just over 10 weeks until my big spring marathon, perhaps the biggest marathon of my life. The next eight weeks will be a solid block, averaging 155-170 km/week with the usual weekly intervals, tempo and long runs. Nothing fancy. Just sticking to the basics and doing what has worked in the past like I know how. I have my ducks in a row and I am prepared to do what it takes to race a solid marathon to make that Olympic standard. I am ready to be "selfish".
With three kids and a husband who spends considerable time and energy travelling for work and serving at our church, routine is essential. And as athletes, this is where we thrive. Sleep, diet, rest, treatment and training are high priorities right now, in order for me to be at my best. And balancing my energy is very, very important. I have always been the type to want to do everything. But I will not at this point in my running career. It is very difficult to say no, especially to extra events and speaking engagements but I must, I will and I am.
Here's how a week looks:
Monday. Morning - training at the gym. Afternoon - laundry. Evening - kids' swimming lessons.
Tuesday. Morning - training at the gym. Afternoon - preschool skate. Evening - massage and kids' hockey.
Wednesday. Morning - early training then groceries and preschool playgroup. Afternoon - house-cleaning. Evening - work as dietitian.
Thursday. Morning - training and stretch/breathing session at the gym. Afternoon - preschool skate. Evening - kids' hockey and ladies' bible study.
Friday. Morning - training at the gym and school lunch mom. Afternoon - physiotherapy and pilates/reformer session. Evening - family time and possibly more kids' activities.
Saturday. Morning - long run. Afternoon - kids' hockey. Evening - family time.
Sunday. Morning - early training then church. Afternoon - kids' hockey. Evening - family time.
Of course there is the daily: task of making breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the five of us, continuing to have my 1:00 pm quiet time, assisting with homework and piano practise, and doing my evening 30 minute core/stretch/breathing/physio homework routine. After Sunday's race, fellow dietitian and runner Rachel Hannah and I were chatting about our feelings over our evening homework routine. We do it because we have to but certainly don't love it! She rewards herself with eating dinner whereas I reward myself with putting on my pyjamas after completion. Whatever it takes. I am up to a 4 minute plank and really starting to see and feel the results. Additionally, I feel like my upper body is functioning better due to my stretching/breathing with Sue. It took a while to recover from those broken ribs in 2013 but with her help, and of course my weekly physio and massage, I think it is safe to say that it is resolved. Every bit helps.
For years I have battled and braved the fierce Canadian winter. I've always believed that it has made me stronger. Running 20 km with 2 kids in a Chariot running stroller in frigid temps will toughen anyone up. But last winter was brutal. And something I wasn't willing to put myself through again. So in the fall Coach Rick, Jonathan and I started discussing how I could escape some of the winter for some high quality warm weather training while not abandoning my family for too long. I still hope Team DuChene will go to Kenya for training and serving with the Kenya Kids Foundation but we are not there yet. So, I am thrilled to be heading to Houston, Texas in March to train with my great friend and fellow marathon mom, Mary Davies. She is returning from having her second baby and generously offered to train with and host me at her home! What an honour and how generous! She is a wonderful person. I will spend 10 days with her, then meet my family in Florida for another 7 days! As you can imagine, we are very excited about this excellent opportunity.
The Little Things
People like to know the little things I do to make it work. Here are some temporary sacrifices and changes I am currently making. Some are easier than others:
Eating even better. Getting the sardines, canned beets and such in. I don't love these two foods but when I return from the gym, I am tired and need something quick and healthy. Add them to some leafy greens, vegetables, and sweet potatoes with a glass of milk and you have one very high quality recovery meal.
Continuing to avoid sweets. I'll be honest, I've had a few bites since my last peanut buster parfait in July but it's all good. I thoroughly enjoyed a small amount of our friend Tony's cheesecake on Christmas day, my aunt's butter tart on Boxing day, and the chocolate cake my husband and kids baked for my birthday. But until my marathon, there likely won't be too much indulging.
Here is a tough one. Reading one less story to my preschooler before heading into the gym to train. I've always reserved the time between school drop off and training to give my full attention to my child(ren). It's usually only about 15 minutes spent on my lap with a Richard Scarry book but it is precious. Very precious. Now that my mileage is increasing, I need that much more time to get it in. My daughter starts school in September and I know I will have to adjust to missing the kids as they will all be in school full-time but I will not look back with guilt, regretting these choices.
Learning to watch a movie. Yep, that is right. Rarely have I sat to watch a full movie with my family. When the kids are quiet and entertained, there is always something else I could be doing nearby. But this is something I am working on changing. No phone, no computer, no papers. Just the couch and my Team DuChene from now on.
More dinner-time flexibility. As a mom and dietitian, I have always had strong feelings about cooking and eating healthy meals together. Cost, packaging and nutrition are always my top three priorities when feeding myself and my family. So when it's one of those evenings that I am tired and/or do not feel like cooking, I keep these priorities in mind as best as I can when choosing something different. Flexibility is important but again, no regret. Take-out pizza with salad and raw vegetables just has to do sometimes.
OK, so here is something I have struggled with for some time and have not yet changed. Cleaning. My house is in decent shape. The kids help out and my husband is amazing but with a family of five, including young kids and a seemingly forever shedding dog with a floor that shows everything, it seems to be a never ending job. Never. Ending. Honestly, you vacuum and mop, only to see footprints and dog hair, seconds later. I often tell myself that Heaven's floors will be spotless! I have contemplated hiring someone to clean but you need to clean when it is dirty, not wait for the scheduled cleaning day. Years ago I promised myself I would hire if I was training for something big, like ummm the Olympics. Well, here I am. I think I need someone just to tell me to do it.
Allowing the kids to have more screen time. Again, this is something I feel strong about especially the younger the child. But these days I am allowing my nearly 4 year old to watch more tv than normal while I am napping. Because I need it.
Keeping it Simple
On Sunday I raced the Robbie Burns 8 km in Burlington in 27:48 (I last raced it in 27:43 in 2012). It fit well into my schedule and was close to home. I don't have a whole lot to report on this race other than the fact that going into it, I did NOT want to have a repeat Boxing Day race, starting too fast. And I was not going for the win. So once the gun went off, I let Rachel Hannah speed away, and got to my own work. Other than my 2nd and 3rd kilometre, I was very consistent with a 3:25/km pace in quite frigid temperatures. The body felt healthy and fit and I finished strong. An interesting note about this race was that I couldn't help but think and look forward to doing a longer cool down after. Typical sign of a marathoner. Mileage. I don't want to say I didn't give my all but in heading out I felt like I could do a tempo run. Instead I enjoyed an easy 10 km with my friend, Mitch Free (26:55!).
I only have one more race between now and my marathon, which is the March 1st Chilly Half. Up until now, we have been fairly relaxed about goal race times but this one will matter. With five weeks until then, the plan is to train to run sub 73 minutes, feeling strong and spent.
|Greens, sweet potato, salmon, and left over cooked vegetables/fruit is my healthy go-to, throw-together dinner on Wednesday evenings when I am working as a dietitian. Looks terrible but tastes great. Of course my breakfast is still my loaded oatmeal with berries/hemp/chia/flax, peanut butter and protein, a grapefruit, cottage cheese and Liberte plain greek yogurt with walnuts, and two coffees.|
|Can't wait to train and live with Mary for 10 days. How generous of her! Go, marathon moms!|
|My weekly sessions at Essential Physio with Patricia for pilates/refomer and ...|
Sue for breathing/stretching is really helping. My chest feels more open when running now, for sure.
|Enjoying every precious quality moment with my last "baby" before full-time school in September.|
|Do not love my evening 1/2 hr rolling/exercises/stretch/core routine. Must do it. In my Saucony gear.|
|Juggler. Crazy moments. Not always easy.|