I have always tried to keep things pretty light and positive on this blog.  I believe very firmly that maintaining a positive perspective is one of the most important things you can do in life in general.  I also feel like I am probably one of the luckiest human beings in the world and have no right to complain about anything.  I am, however, committed to staying honest.  The reason for having a blog in the first place is to be honest about my goals, my progress, and all of the challenges that I may encounter.  So here is a very honest post about some of those challenges, as I stare spring racing season in the face, and try to decide when to bite the bullet and sign up for my first half marathon.

Spring 2015 is going to be absolutely nuts at my house.  Joe is finishing residency, which means 2 things.  1.  He is writing his royal College Exam this spring, and 2. We are moving to a new city.

Let me explain.

1.  The Royal College Exam is kind of like the Bar Exam for doctors, except it’s on steroids.  Not all doctors have to write it; it’s for specialists, but since Joe is an Emergency Medicine specialist, he needs to write it in order to be Royal College Certified.  I think this is only a thing in Canada, but it’s similar to the American Board Exam for doctors.  Except that in Joe’s program, they write the American Boards for practice every year, starting in their first year, and he has been passing every year.  The Royal College is a lot tougher than that.  People are very afraid that they might fail…  they start studying a year in advance (a year) and they are all working full time as well.  So as you can see, this thing is big, and it’s been a major player in our lives ever since this past summer, when Joe’s study schedule started.  We are now entering crunch time for Royal College, meaning that the next 3 months are all about survival for Joe, and me doing whatever I can to be supportive so that he can pass this thing, and we can all move on with our lives.

2.  Because Joe is graduating from residency, pending he pass his exams in May and June, he has accepted a position as a real, grown-up doctor in another city.  He got a few offers, and we’ve considered all the pros and cons and visited different cities and attended interviews and mulled it over, and we’ve finally settled on Toronto.  So this summer, we are moving to Toronto…  meaning that I have an exam of my own to write, in order to be licensed as a nurse in Toronto.  And jobs to apply for, and interviews to go to, and apartment hunting to do…  all while Joe crams for his exam, and we both continue to work full time, because life has a way of throwing everything at you all at once.

The good news is, when the exams are all finished, and I’ve officially left my job (a whole other post on how sad that day will be for me will, I’m sure, appear on this blog at some point), and we’ve found a place to live and we’ve moved all of our stuff…  after all of that has happened, we are taking a month long vacation to Asia, where we will finally get the Honeymoon we never had because we were too busy when we first got married.

OK, so what does all of this stuff have to do with running?  Well, I’m honestly not sure what to do this spring…  Part of me wants to just sign up for a half marathon and go for it.  Jump in with both feet.  I feel like if I don’t sign up, I’ll never get motivated to push myself, and it’ll never happen.  I know I can do it, even if my time isn’t fabulous, and it hurts a bit (or maybe a lot), this is something that I want to do.  The problem is that we’ve got so much big stuff happening in the coming months, I’m not sure I’ll be able to commit to training.

So there is another part of me that thinks I should wait it out until fall, when things have settled down a little.  Find a job, find an apartment, move, go to Asia, come back, join a running group in Toronto, and aim for a fall race.  But there’s part of me that is worried about that too…  will I be able to stay in shape while on my belated Honeymoon?  Will I have enough time to train when I get back?  Will I be too overwhelmed at my new job to stay committed to my training goals?

So this is my dilemma.  I feel different about it every day, and I’m honestly not sure what decision I’m going to end up making.  But in the name of honesty, there it is!  What I do know is that running will help get me through the chaos of the next few months.  And as crazy as this spring and summer are going to be, I am wildly excited for all of this.  🙂

Do you have any big races coming up this spring?

How did you decide to run your first marathon or half marathon?  Did you plan it all out, or just jump in with both feet?


The Playlist Post

Well, hello, friends…  Just checking in quickly.  I`m about to head out to the gym for an afternoon of cardio…  So, what will I be grabbing as I walk out the door?  Aside from the obvious house keys and water bottle, I never leave the house without my headphones.

There are times when I do a full workout without any music on at all.  I know people who never listen to music when they run…  I generally nix the music when I’m having a post work workout, and I just need to de-clutter my brain after a long day.  I actually find an hour of silent cardio very therapeutic on days like that.

Today is not one of those days, however.  This is my only day off all week (including last weekend AND next weekend, both of which I am working) and if I’m going to fit a workout in this afternoon, I could use a little pumping up.  So I thought I’d share some of my favourite workout music, and invite you to share yours!  I could always use some new music ideas!

What do you like to listen to on a run?  Are you into the slow burn of laid back tunes that carry you through a nice, relaxed jog?  (I went through a phase for a while where all I would run to was Band of Horses.)  Or are you all about the upbeat pop?  I, myself, have a heavy preference for rap and hip hop, but there’s a bit of “hipstery” stuff thrown into that mix, too.  (What does “hipster” even mean?  I use that word semi-sarcastically.)

Sometimes I like to just throw on an album and listen to the whole thing, and sometimes I put on my running mix.  Either way, here is a glimpse into my music taste…  a pretty strange little mix, I will admit, but hopefully you will discover something you like!

My top 3 workout albums right now are:

Kanye West Presents Good Music Cruel Summer (you cannot go wrong with the song “Clique” and it helps to have a lot of Pusha T in the mix)

CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe (I love just putting this album on and listening to it from start to finish on a run)

J Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (mainly because this is my favourite album in general right now)

My favorite songs for working up a sweat are:

Worst Behaviour, Drake (I just put this song on repeat sometimes, and run to it for like, 3 miles, before switching to something else)

Partition, Beyonce

Sweatpants, Childish Gambino (working out to this song is great for your ego…  unless, of course, you think having a huge ego is a bad thing…  in which case, i guess you shouldn’t be listening to any rap songs at all…)

The Mother We Share, CHVRCHES

Workout, J Cole (obvious, but still very motivational)

Midnight City, M83 (never gets old)

Underground Kings, Drake

G.O.M.D., J Cole

Clique, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean

Bad Girls, M.I.A. (because I like to pretend that I, too, am a “Bad Girl”)

Believe Me, L’il Wayne feat. Drake

0 to 100, Drake

Trophies, Drake (yes, you ARE sensing a theme here, but this one’s really awesome for getting pumped up and being all “f*** the world, I’m RUNNING!” …as I’m sure Drake intended when he wrote the song)

XO, Beyonce

Chandelier, Sia (I know, that one seems a little random, but hey…)

Love Me Harder, Ariana Grande feat The Weeknd (for once, the Weeknd doesn’t totally ruin this song, and it’s got a great driving beat to keep your feet moving)

When I’m Small, Phantogram (one of my all-time favourite songs, period)

Can’t Tell Me Nothing, Kanye West

Annnnd, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I can always get a good run in listening to old school Mariah Carey.  There, I said it.  Now the whole internet knows that I still listen to “Always Be My Baby.”  (Even if you can’t run to it, it’s always a gem at karaoke.)

Happy running, everybody!

Home is where the heavy bag is

Today is supposed to be leg day at the gym for me.  I had a beautiful day of cardio yesterday, and left the gym feeling fresh and rejuvenated, which is the perfect lead-up to my crazy intense leg day.  But…  and I know you could all sense the “but” coming…

I just can’t get myself out the door.

There are two reasons for this.  Reason #1 is that my gym closes at 6:30 on Sundays, and I really prefer to go at around 8:00.  Reason #2, which is the more substantial reason, is that I have a million things to do at home, and I will feel like a horrible, selfish person if I totally neglect everything else in my life so that I can spend 2 hours at the gym doing leg exercises.  Today is not the right day.

My week this week is going to be nuts.  I work every single day except for Wednesday, and I have a very good friend visiting from out of town.  Every minute of the week is spoken for.  Meaning that the huge mess of dishes and laundry that is currently piling up in my apartment is only going to get bigger as the week unfolds.  And that guy I call my husband who has been working his butt off all week doing a ridiculous mix of Emergency Department shifts and being the Resident on call for Toxicology, will barely see my face before next Sunday…  I really need a day at home today, or I may not survive this upcoming week.

So I made myself a new plan for the afternoon.  Once the laundry and dishes and grocery shopping has been dealt with, I’ve designed a lovely little workout for home that Joe and I can do together…  (Did you see what I did there?  Mixing couple time with workout time.  Yeah, that’s right…)  5 rounds of boxing, a painful mixture of burpees and burnouts on the heavy bag, and some pushups, pullups and ab work to finish.  This is how we used to get down, before the days of personal trainers and half marathon aspirations.  It’s the equivalent of a date-night in our house.  Two bottles of Gatorade, two sets of hand wraps, a good playlist of old-school rap music, and voila…  romance.

I’ll be back at the gym this week, in between the girls nights out and the crazy work schedule.  I’ll find a way to make it happen.  But tonight is protected couple time.  Just me, Joe and the heavy bag.  🙂

Valentine`s Day and this week in exercise

Well, hello, friends.  Happy Valentine`s day to every one of you!  As cheesy as this holiday is, I actually really love having an excuse to shower love on my friends and family.  So I`ll start out by sending some out to all of you.

valentine meme

(A little Harry Potter humor never hurt anybody…)

This week was the first week of my new workout program.  And it is tough.  I feel like I felt back in November when I first started meeting with my trainer…  totally awkward and intimidated by all of the new exercises I`m supposed to be able to do.  I will share my leg day and upper body day routines with you in my upcoming posts.  They`re hard.  I miss squats and lunges and bicep curls.  I do not like one armed pushups and sprints…  just when I was getting comfortable…  BOOM.  Welcome to hell, body.

So I`m sore every day and pooping the Advil again.  The fun part is that I know my body will adapt over the next couple of weeks, and I`m going to get great at this stuff.  Except maybe the one armed pushups, which I may never be great at.  We`ll see how that goes.

I`ve been at the gym every day this week except yesterday.  I`m on nights at work this week, so today is a recovery day for me.  I`m about to spend it on the elliptical doing 45-60min of cardio.  I may even throw in some deadlifts and squats, but that has yet to be decided.  It depends on how much exhaustion-nausea I still have once I`m at the gym.  It`s days like this that remind me why I love running/cardio so much.  I am already looking forward to that feeling that I’ll have after a good sweat.

I rang in my Valentine`s Day by admitting a little patient who was in a house fire.  He and his cousin came to our hospital with some bad smoke inhalation.  They were transferred from a smaller hospital, and arrived by plane just after midnight.  They are perfect little boys.  Chubby little toddlers who are just growing into boyhood.  They are very sick, but I have hope that we`ll help them get better and this will all just be a crazy nightmare far in their past one day.  It was a crazy shift last night.  But seriously, guys…  I don`t care if you`re in a relationship or not, I know there are people in your lives that you love.  Parents, sibling, nieces, nephews, best friends…  Do me a favor and ask them to be your Valentine today.  🙂  (Or at the very least, say something nice to them.)

So after I go to the gym and show myself some love, it`s all about quality time with the husband tonight and with the girlfriends tomorrow.  I wish all of you a fabulous weekend.  here’s to taking good care of yourself and of the people around you!

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, and an essential truth about Nursing

I know this blog is primarily about fitness.  But sometimes, I like to talk about my work as well.  Mainly because there are a lot of similarities between having a challenging fitness schedule and having a challenging job.  It`s almost impossible not to apply the life lessons I learn from nursing to staying fit, and vice versa.

This past weekend was a great weekend at work.  It was tough and scary at times, but utterly satisfying in the end.  My patient went from being crazy unstable to being sort of stable…  three days of solid work by a great team of surgeons and ICU doctors and nurses and RTs.  It was one of those weekends that makes me love my job.  It`s absolutely humbling being entrusted with such fragile little patients, and it`s a great feeling to know that I can help them get stronger.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, it’s made me reflect on how far I’ve come in my career as a nurse.  When I was a new nurse, this patient would have terrified me.  And I’ll be honest, we had some pretty intense moments with this little patient over the weekend, and it was still pretty scary at times.  But somehow, in the past 5 years, I’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  That stress that I feel when I see something going wrong and I need to act fast is actually a very good thing.  I’ve gotten to know that feeling, learned to act on it and live with it in my work at the bedside.  That feeling is part of being an ICU nurse.  Instead of trying to avoid it, like you do when you’re young and inexperienced and everything in the hospital scares you, good nurses learn to use it.  That “oh shit” feeling is your friend in a lot of ways.  It makes you act, and take control of the situation.  You learn to love the discomfort.

I could apply this lesson in a thousand ways to other parts of my life.  Let’s talk about the “oh shit” feeling you get when you hit a wall during a tough run.  I’m pretty sure we’ve all felt it.  How can I learn, as a runner, to get comfortable with being uncomfortable?  Well, I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that one.  And I know you all do too, because it’s kind of obvious.  Practice makes perfect.  The more unstable patients I have, the better I get at taking care of them.  The more I push myself past my comfort zone when I run, the better I will become at dealing with it.

As obvious as all of this seems, it’s nice to have a reminder of it every once in a while.  I guess I`m having an “oh yeah” moment.  This is why I train hard.  So that when I’m uncomfortable during a race, I’ll be ok with it.  I’ll know how to take control. 

I’ll be honest, I’m still learning that lesson when it comes to my fitness.  I used to really just run for fun, so if I wasn’t feeling it, I didn’t have much motivation to push through and keep going.  But if I’m serious about running longer distances, I’m going to have to learn how to be uncomfortable.  Eeesh, this doesn’t sound fun.  But I’m pretty sure I can do it.  If I can adjust to caring for critically ill children, I can probably adjust to anything, right?

So that’s my essential truth about Nursing.  If teaches me how to be better in all areas of my life.  And I think that’s probably true about running, about loving, about doing anything that’s actually worthwhile.

Fun at the gym

I think it is a good thing that I took yesterday off training, because it meant I was rested for today`s trainer session.  And still, I almost died.  It was the first day of a new program, so I know I`m only going to get stronger after this.  I`m really starting to love the first couple of weeks of a new program, because it`s so challenging, and I know that within a couple of weeks, I`ll be much stronger.

So my warmup today was all body weight exercises.  Burpees, squats, pushups, pullups, and then some time on the rowing machine.  Then repeat, x5…  I love how that was only the warmup.  I was feeling pretty good about myself until my trainer ran me through a new upper body routine and my new leg day routine.  We did each new exercise once, to get a sense of how heavy I should lift to start out.  I`m telling you, by the end, I was done.  There were multiple points where my muscles just failed.  It is hard to do one armed pushups after “warming up” with pushups, pullups and burpees!  My trainer would be yelling at me for “one more!”  And my arms would just stop working…  I had no juice left.  I couldn’t finish my new ab circuit either.  Again, my muscles just stopped working, and all I could do was laugh at myself.  One more felt like an insurmountable task at that point.

So today was super challenging and fun.  I won’t see my trainer again for two weeks, but it’s really cool to think that I’ll be able to complete my entire program by then without hitting total muscle failure.  She’s really pushing me, but I like it!!  It’s really nice sometimes to have one of those workouts that is totally ridiculous, in the sense that it’s so challenging that the only thing you can do is laugh at yourself.  I’m telling you, we laughed a lot today.  🙂

When you’re out there killing yourself to get through a workout or a run, try to take a step outside of yourself and remember to laugh.  It’s ridiculous what we put ourselves through in the name of fitness.  But keep it light if you can!  When you’re hurting and you’re sweating and you’re pushing so hard, I mean, that’s what it’s all about, right?  And when you hit that wall super hard like I did today, take a mental note of it.  Remember that moment.  And come back and try again tomorrow…  the wall will be further and further away every time.

Saturday Night Failure

How do you know if you’ve been a nurse for too long?  You can no longer tell the difference between weekdays and weekends…  That is what happened to me tonight.

Maybe it should have been a sign that something was off when I left my freshly made coffee at home this morning.  I have felt like this all day:

first world problemsAnyway, so I had this big plan to head to the gym after work today and get in 45-60min of cardio.  Of course, silly little me…  I forgot that it’s Saturday!!  My gym closes super early on Saturdays (I think at 5pm) and so when I arrived, it was closed!  How could I forget??!  Am I the only one who’s done this?

I am upset about this.

Seriously, I’m super disappointed to miss cardio day.  As tired as I was after work, I know that when I get in some good time on the elliptical or the treadmill, I not only feel amazing afterwards and sleep super well that night, but I have more energy the next day.  I’ve really started to rely on post-work cardio to help get me through my back-to-back-to-back shifts…  and tomorrow is going to be a huge day at work for me, so I was really looking forward to my gym time.  I’m actually cranky without it.  I never thought I’d be this person, but here I am.  Little miss I didn’t get my run in today crankypants.


I considered running outside, but it’s 15 below and super slippery out there.  Walking home from the bus was harrowing enough.  It just isn’t an option tonight.  So I ended up coming home and doing a Gillian Micheals workout DVD.  I used to do these and think that they were super tough, just pouring sweat the entire time, so I thought it might be a good substitute for cardio day.  Sadly (well, maybe not sadly, I guess this is a good sign) I am left feeling completely unsatisfied after that workout.  It wasn’t that hard, and it only lasted 25min.

Insert your that’s what she said jokes here…

So the good news is, I’m much stronger than I used to be back when I thought Gillian Micheals was tough.  Silver lining, I suppose.

Tomorrow night is a day off because I have post work dinner and drink plans with friends, so my next gym day is Monday.  I have a trainer appointment, so at least I know it won’t disappoint.  Until then, I am going to be spending the rest of my night online looking for genius at-home cardio ideas for those who live in small downtown apartments and don’t have treadmills (and whose husbands are at work so they can’t box together right now.)  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!