Last night I had the privilege of taking part in the 4th Annual Blog Out Loud Ottawa event! Called BOLOttawa for short, it is a night where local bloggers read a post from the past year to an incredibly supportive and engaged audience. I found out about the event one week before submissions were due and I was so thankful and excited to have been selected.
The post I submitted was one I wrote back in April, shortly after I realized I would have to take a hiatus from running in order to recover. You can read the full post here. I had to shorten it for the event and included the text at the end of this post.
It was an amazing event. It was at turns insightful, funny, sad, inspiring, thought-provoking, and above all, honest. I definitely need to check out each of the readers’ blogs as I was amazed by all of them. One funny one was about a sex education instructor figuring out how to explain the birds and the bees to her son. Another was about struggles with depression. It was quite the varied group and never a dull moment.
Of course I had to get a few pics taken! Thankfully, Joyce accompanied me to the Arrow and Loon and was willing to play photographer.
We ran into one of our professors from Carleton and, after chatting with him and explaining the event, he offered to take a picture of us. I think he was a bit taken aback by the concept of people not only blogging, but reading their blogs out loud.
Jillian took some photos of me while I did my reading. I was so nervous! My knees were a-knockin’ as I waited to be called up. Thankfully, I had a contingent of supporters there to cheer me on: Joyce, Madeline, Robyn, Brittany, Jillian, Tracy, Nancy, Pam and Adam. I don’t know how I would have gotten through the reading if they weren’t there!
Before going up, I tried to think of a way to take my drink with me (I had ordered a blueberry cider. It didn’t taste like blueberry. Nor did it taste like cider. I didn’t drink most of it) to help me calm my nerves while speaking. I realize, however, that holding a drink, holding and flipping the pages of my speaking notes, AND make hand gestures would all be impossible to do at the same time. So I left the drink behind.
Note to self: order wine bra.
And the photo bomb award goes toooo…..
I kinda look like a zombie.
After all the readers were done, I hung out with my friends for a bit. Note to self: if you jokingly offer an autograph to Jillian, not only will she take you up on it, but she’ll request that you sign her “titties.”
Clearly I couldn’t refuse such a request.
I hope to take part in the event next year – as a reader, spectator or even helping to organize it. I hope people in other cities have opportunities to take part in events like this; such a unique way to connect with people you may otherwise only know online.
Many thanks to Lynn at Turtlehead for founding and organizing the event!
Finding Joy in Going Slow (BOLOttawa version)
I think the reason I hurt my ankle is because I was so focused on running faster. I had decided that I wanted to run the half-marathon in under 2 hours and I was determined to make that happen. And it was happening; I was running faster splits and it was getting easier to maintain a quicker pace during my long runs. I stopped paying as close attention to what was happening around me – the sights and sounds – and even to what was happening with my body. I kept looking at my watch to see how fast I was going and how far I had gone.
And then running stopped being as fun for me as it used to be. I started dreading some runs. I had turned it into a chore instead of the activity I could always count on to help me unwind after a stressful day, think and make decisions, or just not think at all and focus on my breathing, the feel of the ground beneath my feet, and the sounds all around me.
I still can’t pinpoint when my ankle started bothering me, probably because I wasn’t paying attention and because I kept running. For the sake of training, I continued to run through the discomfort, and, increasingly, the pain.
Not a smart idea and, luckily, I finally paid enough attention.
Now I’m moving slowly. When I walk even ten minutes, my ankle gets sore from the repetitive impact of my foot hitting the ground. Running is out of the question unless I want to cause serious, long-term damage.
Soon after my ankle started bothering me I started reading the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. I had heard a lot about it – a must-read for anyone serious about running. I finished the book after realizing I needed to take more than a couple of days off. I was frustrated and disappointed with myself. I had let myself down. I didn’t know if I would even be able to run in the half-marathon at the end of May.
In the book, McDougall describes seeing the faces of ultrarunners and the Tarahumara as they ran extreme distances (100 miles anyone?): they were relaxed, smiling, and thoroughly enjoying running. Sure, they were going fast, but, as McDougall writes, perhaps the reason why they were able to run fast is because they loved what they were doing and they were having fun.
Reading this immediately brought to mind a run I had last summer while training for the Army Run. It was about 17-18 km long on a beautiful, sunny Sunday that took me along the canal, over into Gatineau and along the river and then back into Ottawa. I stopped every now and then to take pictures, have some water, and have a bit of a breather. It was an amazing run and at the end of it, I was barely tired. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and also felt quite relaxed. I can’t remember how long it took me; it doesn’t matter. It was a joyful experience.
I want to always feel that joy from simply being able to run, feeling the warmth of the sun, or even the bitter cold in the winter. To feel the ground beneath my feet, feel the sweat dripping down my face, and simply being grateful that I am able to get out there and move. I want my runs to be fun and relaxing, to add something to my life rather than feel like it is taking me away from other things.
And now I can’t run, for the time being at least. And now, I miss it. I miss it oh so much and I can’t wait to be out there again.
I went for a walk yesterday. It was such a beautiful day and I just wanted to be outside. I was having a not-so-good day and was feeling a bit mopey and sorry for myself. I took a book with me, thinking I would walk for a bit then find a bench where I could sit and read for awhile. That happened, but much later than I thought. Shortly after getting onto the canal pathway, I started to pass an elderly woman walking along, pushing her walker. She said something to me and I stopped to respond. I ended up walking with her for about half an hour, both of us going slowly. She told me to go on but since I really couldn’t walk much faster than her, I decided to stay and chat.
After she left the canal to return to her apartment, I did find that bench but in addition to reading, I looked around and paid attention to what was going on.
I saw a mother pushing her child in a stroller with a dog trotting alongside them. The dog was holding the leash in its mouth, content with the pace.
I saw the runners go by in front of me, some of them breathing heavily and pushing themselves, others more slowly and casually.
I heard the birds in the tree beside me.
I saw the duck on the canal, every now and then dipping its head below the water.
I heard the mother singing to her baby while pushing the stroller.
It all made me so very happy.
All of this, I realized, I wouldn’t have experienced had I been running. I would have had my earphones in, music going, checking my watch for my pace, and working my butt off to pass as many people as I could and trying to run faster for a longer period of time.
I found joy in going slow and I think, I hope, that I can find the joy in going fast again.
Soon I’ll be able to start running again. And yes, I’m sure I’ll still pay attention to my times and splits, but not like before. My focus is going to be on making sure I enjoy each run. I’m going to take out the earphones more often to listen to what is going on around me. I’ll walk when I feel like it, taking in the sights and sounds. I’ll pay more attention to how my body feels so I don’t injure myself again. Perhaps I will pick up my pace, perhaps I won’t. Perhaps I’ll finish the half-marathon in under 2 hours. Perhaps I won’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is enjoying the journey (or journeys, I should say!) and embracing how much running has improved my life. I’ll probably never run as fast and as far as the ultrarunners and the Tarahumara that McDougall writes about. That’s okay.
Hopefully you’ll see me on the canal soon, running or walking, and either pace, I sure hope you’ll see a smile on my face.