That time I didn’t go running

I stand on the edge, looking down into deep water. Is it colder in there than it is here on the deck?

There are a lot of bodies around. Who’s nervous? asks one of the coaches. A few hands go up, eyes catch each other’s glances in recognition.

It’s going to be fun! he enthuses.  I notice he is not in swim gear.

Who says that: ‘It’s going to be fun’?

Everyone says that. Nervousness and excitement are the same emotion.

I’ve made it to my first official group swim practice. I’ve done masters group swims years ago but it was nothing like this. It all seems so tame in comparison: there are probably 40 bodies here and once we get in the water it feels like a feeding frenzy the way the water is churned up.  It’s like each swimmer creates their own personal vortex.

I often choose my swim times when it is least likely there will be others. I like the feeling of calm water where I can control the amount of disturbance. Here it feels like I am battling white caps each time I try to take a breath.

I am moved from the beginner group to the intermediates before the warm up is finished.  “You’re with us” says one of my shark colleagues. I comply.

After a few laps it gets easier. I get my breathing settled. I remind myself that this is a workout I could have done last week and it’s just water. I move into another lane to reduce congestion and get into the back-and-forth of the rhythm.

The hour goes quickly. It was probably closer to 50 min. I finish the workout and completely ungracefully make my exit. I climb up the starter blocks and get stuck half way up, my belly not quite at my center of gravity and my feet kicking uselessly in the air. The guy beside me is too tired to even notice.

I don’t consider myself a swimmer, but maybe that’s not the point. The same argument goes with runners: you don’t have to race, or run a certain pace, or be able to run a certain distance. If you run, you are a runner.  I swam.

A small constant

Change is something we move through. Like the viscocity of air to water to pea soup it can come in degrees. Some of it we cling to, some of it we don’t even notice. Sometimes we rebel.


As our school year draws to a close, with it comes changes. I don’t cling to the changes of this last year: the fact that my daughter will be starting middle school in the fall, or that my son will be alone in his elementary school. I accept and know that it will appear before we even recognize that it has happened. Some things just “are.”

Recently my son went home with a friend after school. She had spontaenously invited him home; her mom called me later to let me know where my stray lamb had ended up. It was all good and they had fun. When he got home he exclaimed that he was invited to her goodbye party. I assumed this was an end of school celebration. “No,” he corrected me, “she will be going to a new school next year.” It turns out they are moving out of the province as her dad has a new job. I was sad that this happy playmate of his was leaving. I felt the loss – the loss of their friendship, the spontaneity of their joy, their support for each other – although it didn’t affect my life at all.

A family in our neighbourhood is also moving. Our kids are friends with their kids and they play soccer together. I like the parents — they are kind, considerate, and warm people. When I heard that they were moving I was again disappointed. It would not leave a ‘hole’ in my life, but they had become familiar to me. It was a change that was unexpected and a part of me rallied against it.

My kids don’t really care one way or another. My son rattled off all the kids who’ve left the school over the 3 years he’s been there. It was like blips on a radar. I know that relations formed at this age can last forever, however these relationships are generally based on the present moment.

Sometimes we can’t change what changes. Observing myself I find my reaction to these changes are as though my kids have suffered a loss. I am sad because I think they will be sad. Yes, they will be sad, but it won’t be forever. There is always another friend to play soccer with at lunch time.

With change, I dig into a sentimental box of feelings. Not all of these feelings are true but I attach them to what I thought would always be the same, these situations that are leaving my life unexpectedly. It’s like cleaning out your kid’s closet and when you want to throw out the toy they haven’t played with in years, suddenly it’s the one they cannot be without.

I think what I am craving is consistency. Part of finding that is perhaps not expecting things to look the same, in the same place. Change will always come, yes, but the feeling can move from person or situation as quickly as I allow it.  What is constant in our lives is in the attitude we create with the world around us, regardless of what or who mirror this back to us.


*Image was taken from

Monkey mind: running in circles

Last weekend I ran in circles. Actually it was a race and the course was laps. The circuit was switchbacks along a motocross course (think dirt and up and down) and then a bush trail that was also mostly up and down. We did three laps of this entire circuit. See this map for details of one lap, sortof: gutbuster run Running in races is still a learning experience for me. My Negative Nancy has had to keep her legs crossed and mind her manners. She doesn’t occupy a lot of reality in my mind-space anymore.  Most interestingly is how I am now able to manage these things during the race rather than just react.

My sports psychologist said that I’m very likely a type A personality: I am a runner, I  run races,  and I care what people think of me (and my results).  So when competition comes, type A personalities like to get fired up and get in the mix. I guess I used to try to keep up — energetically– but I didn’t actually move any faster. Once some passed me they kept on going right out of view and there wasn’t much I could do to keep up.

I would fight to run faster. It wasn’t very efficient or graceful and would end up draining me. I would negatively try to trick myself go faster. In the five stages I was deeply rooted in bargaining: if I ran faster usually the reward was something associated with food. My mind would go into all sorts of spirals as to why the girl with the cotton t-shirt should not be ahead of me, or why I should not have had that extra chocolate chip cookie a month ago, or why I was even bothering when none of this was even fun.

I was passed a few times in this race. I had already set the expectation at the onset that this was just a training experience and the goal was to have fun. My monkey mind still wanted to exude some heroic efforts, but to what end? It was hot, it was dusty, and I still have 2 laps of the course to go.

If you feel like a video interlude right about now this is your chance.  This 800m race at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich shows how important it is to just follow your own path and run your own race. Keep your eyes on the guy in the white hat.

Now back to the usual stuff.

I *did* have fun. I ran my own race and felt it was a solid effort in my training. My son and my mom cheered me on as though it was the Olympic trials.  There was watermelon at the end of the race. And there was this (in my age group): 20140523-112611-41171435.jpg