Thursday, December 17, 2009

Decade in review + C4C

Today is Comments for Cans again. You know the drill, for every visitor that leaves a comment, I will donate a can (or other non perishable food item) to the Stittsville Food Bank. Feel free to jump to comments right away if you don't want to hear about my decade-long story of getting fitter ;)

With the new year approaching, I turn a bit nostalgic about old times. This year two digits of the year will change at once bringing us into a brand new decade. I have an urge to take you on a reflection of how physical activity has changed my life and ponder at what is coming next.

10 years ago was the dawn of a new era. I spent New Year's eve 1999 partying like it was, well, 1999. I played the beach bum in Costa Rica with dear friends and warm weather. I was not in the best physical shape at all, weighing about 40 pounds more than I do now and not exercising very often...

The decade that followed was definitively not a lost one for me. I started on the path to a much healthier lifestyle without an actual plan to get fit. It started when my work took me to a location that had awful bus service. I decided then that biking to work was a viable option with the 10 or so kilometers that separated my home and my work.

Things took an unexpected turn when, a few years later, I transfered to a location some 25km away from my home. The new location had, you guessed it, awful bus service. I have never been a fan of driving a car to and from work (or anywhere at all other than highways really) so I took to biking there and back once a week, twice a week and eventually everyday in fair weather. I braved the rain once and discovered it wasn't that bad so I kept on biking from around easter to around Halloween. At some point I even biked an extraordinary 160km in one day with all my gear in tow to go camping. Thankfully a friend with an empty van drove me back from my foolish expedition.

The year after, I moved work locations again. I was a bit dissapointed when my new work was only 8 km away from my house. The bike ride was barely enough to work a sweat. One of my colleague was a runner and was able to convince myself and another colleague that running was fun. Pretty soon things snow balled and we were a bunch that would go out a few times a week. Never the same group but there was always someone heading out from a group of 5 or 6. Running can be infectious like that.

That's where I fell in love with running. The simplicity of the sport. The freedom of surfaces on which it can be practiced. The variety of routes I could take. I went from aiming to finish the 6 or so km route we used at lunch without stopping to beating my previous time over and over. I even started to leave the bike at home and run to and from work on top of my lunch time training. My runner colleague came back from a marathon and he could barely walk. I knew there had to be something mystical about the distance for him to get in such shape for it. I wanted some of that too.

While running with some more experienced colleagues, I noticed that one of them was wearing an armband computer. I had a total geekout when I realized that the thing tracked speed and distance. I always had odometers on my bikes but never realized I could have the same info while running! I had to get such as device and after setting speed and distance goals (approximate distance of course!) and meeting them, I rewarded myself with the gizmo and it totally changed the way I trained. I put it to good use by entering a half marathon right away. My first road race! It was a painful race but I finished it. I was a bit over my innocent goal of under 2 hours but very satisfied with my performance nonetheless. The Endorphins were buzzing in my blood and I knew I could never go back to the way things were before I became an amateur athlete.

I entered other races and continued my lunch day workouts whenever possible despite the changes in employers. I am lucky that my employers are always so cool with allowing me to take a long lunch and make up the hours at night. I raced twice in my first racing summer and only once the summer after that. I got hurt while pushing too hard in the fall and had to take a break from training for a few months, while my injuries healed.

The following summer, I planned to make good on a 3 year old promise to run a marathon. While I trained all summer, I had not followed a real training plan and about halfway through my training I started getting soreness in my knees and had to slow down training. I decided to still keep my commitment for the full marathon in the fall. The race was hard and long. I never imagined it could be that long and lonely towards the end. I was determined to follow through on my goals and I finished the race, uninjured but way below my goal time, swearing never to attempt the distance again!

With the marathon distance conquered, I needed a new goal. I set my sights on a triathlon, having recently cheered for a friend of mine at a multisport event. You'll hear all about how training for the triathlon was in an upcoming year-in-review post where I'll go into more details of the various events of 2009.

Last week, I had 14 comments, so here is what the donation looks like:
Hopefully I didn't scare too many people away with my long winded reflection on my life changing decade and we can beat the 14 items that were donated for last week!


  1. I really enjoyed reading your recollection of events that got you into running!!! :) It's really interesting how everything just sort of snow balls into pace, right??
    Thanks for doing the comments for cans!!!!

  2. What a great story! I am always impressed by your biking commutes! Good for you and the environment :)

  3. Wow, it's been quite a decade for you. I enjotyed the reflection - this makes me think I should look back at the last 10 years of my life. What was I doing when I was 17? Nothing healthy, that's for sure!

    I've been so busy, I haven't had time to complile my donations. I'll try to do that tomorrow before we leave so I can drop it all off before Christmas.

  4. Wow! What a fantastic story! I always wondered how you got so involved with biking and running. Thanks for sharing it with us all. :)

  5. Great account! Like my better half, I always wondered how you started out. When I met you, you had a marathon under your belt.

    Congrats on your achievements!

  6. Great account of your decade!
    Sorry I'm late for the cans, but hope my comment will still count :-)

    And, thanks for the suggestion on which leg to run for the relay. Have a good weekend!

  7. congratulations on a decade of improvements.

  8. Sorry i'm late commenting!!!! But wanted to make sure I contributed to C4C! Great post, and congrats! :D