Friday, December 26, 2014

2014, You Were Kind!

I can't believe it's already that time of year. Another memorable Christmas is over, and the year is winding down. Dreaming of 2015 and what it holds has already begun. So along with that, comes reflecting on the year 2014 was and has been. It was quite a year for me. I'm almost sad to wrap it up. But with every chapter ending, a new one begins. I am hungry for a new year along with all the milestones I'm expecting it to carry plus all the ones that remain mysteries and surprises for now.

My year was one of personal and career milestones. My soulmate asked me to marry him on Valentine's Day and I spent much of the coming months planning what would be the most memorable day of my life - our wedding day on September 6th. It was a magical time as I somehow got even closer to and more in love with those family members that helped make that day magical for us. And I don't want to make any of my readers queasy by saying how getting married deepened the love shared between me and my husband - oops, sorry I just did. 

On the career side of things, exactly a year ago tomorrow, I started working with Steve Nash Fitness Clubs. I felt like I was taking a big risk by applying for and accepting this position as I'd never done anything like it before and I had a pretty stable job. But I was stressed in the role I was in and not completely satisfied plus super confident in my ability to succeed in something new. I was also eager for the opportunity, and passionate about what the company stands for - making fitness the best part of one's day. The year there has been great - I have met the most incredible people through this position, I'm inspired every day by like-minded colleagues and club members, and it's a positive environment to be in everyday. But most excitingly of all, I was given the opportunity to pursue my personal training certification on the side of this while working for the company. I've just completed the course and 2015 will take my career within this company to the next level. I will actually be working with clients who want to change their lives through fitness and I really can't wait!

At the 2014 April Fools Run- photo credit Leo Lam
2015 was also quite a year for me as a runner. It wasn't what I imagined the year would be, but still quite a year! I was originally signed up to run a marathon, thinking I might actually run 2, but I ended up not doing any at all. After some really grueling half marathons due to my hip injury and muscle cramping in my quads, I switched my marathon plans to more half marathons (4 for the year) and all during the first half of the year. I was honoured to be an ambassador for the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fools Run as I was running this for the 3rd year in a row. While I had a lot of fun at this race being it is my favourite race, I didn't race well at all. After about 15km, I cramped and completed the race in considerable pain. My next couple halfs were thus both run without any intention of timing a certain way, but I ran them for fun as a reminder that I have the endurance to run long, but perhaps it was time I rested my body from racing that distance for finish time achievement. 

At the Calgary Marathon with Sheila and our giant medals!
The next couple half marathons I ran were just that - running a respectable distance as a reminder of how far my body has come over the years without the stress of trying to achieve something it needed a break from. I did well in both those races and had a blast doing so. Running the 50th Anniversary half marathon race at the Calgary Marathon was a particular highlight as it was a race in another province, a big milestone party for that race and community, a chance to visit my dear friend Jennifer and her family, and I ran the whole race side by side with my friend Sheila.

For the second half of the year, after running Calgary in June, I changed up my goals and started signing up for more short distance races including 5km, 8km, 10km and a 1-miler race. This was such a great experience for me as I discovered how racing these shorter distances is a completely different sport than endurance distance racing. I was hungry to learn more and push myself more in these distances. In many ways, training to get faster at these times is harder work than training for a marathon. You don't need to do the stupidly long training runs, no, but the intensity of the workouts are indeed turned up. You can't get faster without training fast. And I had to change things up in my resistance training too at the gym.

With Kirill, Ambleside Mile race director
The result of this were some unexpected achievements. I achieved a new personal best in the 5km distance at the St. Patrick's Day 5km race which is a race with a very fast field. 

I also finished the Ambleside Mile in 1st place for my age group in what was one of my favourite races of the year because my lungs were burning the entire way (I felt like a true athlete racing hard). It was my first time winning an age group and although this was a small race, this was a huge ego boost anyway!

And then there's my biggest achievement in running this year - winning my age category for the Lower Mainland Road Race Series (LMRRS). I have been wearing my watch I won as a prize for this every day as a reminder of the achievement. In case you missed it, here is the blog post I wrote after winning this award. I am going to run a bunch of the races in this series next year to give it another shot, starting with the Icebreaker 8km in February.

After the Squamish Days 10km, my final race part of the LMRRS, I tore a muscle in my calf and had to take time off to heal. In addition, the wedding was getting closer and closer and I had lots to do to get ready for it. My fall races were thus just about getting back into it and completing the races. After a few months of getting back into running and regaining strength and endurance, I'm eager to take my training to the next level. Once I pass my PT exam, I'm going to make this happen!

My first really important race will be the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fools Run (half marathon), returning as ambassador again and running this for my 4th year in a row. You should absolutely join me as this race is one of a kind! That's why I keep going back. What a wonderful way to see the Sunshine Coast and enjoy a daytrip away, plus the race seriously rocks. There's also a sweet discount if you register before Dec 31st - only $30. Sign up here today and tell them I sent you!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

BCPTI Graduation and Two Awesome Races in 2015

I've not posted since November 1st. My goal for this blog is to be done with such long gaps in writing. I have just finished what was the busiest 6 weeks I've had in a long while as I enrolled to complete the certification course at the British Columbia Personal Training Institute (BCPTI) which started November 10th and wrapped up only yesterday. I suspected I'd be challenged at finding time to write with still working full time, taking the course, doing my readings, assignments and practicum, while still finding time to work out 5x per week and spend time with family. But I'm done now, and what a great ride it was! I'm a little sore from yesterday's workouts, but not at all exhausted or drained from all the hours I spent "on" with little break these last 6 weeks. In fact, it's the opposite - I feel inspired and excited for my future and the next step of my career. It was a great course where I learned a ton from experts in the fitness industry. I write my exam in early January, and pending all goes according to plan on that day, I will then be officially certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Personal Trainer! 

With one of my amazing teachers, Shelley

I took this course for many reasons, but mostly because I really want to enjoy the rewards of helping others change their life through fitness, in the same way that fitness changed my life forever. I still look in the mirror at times and can't believe who I see. I get absolutely inspired every time I learn of someone who wants to make their own change, and I know how hard and scary that journey can be. I know I can assist others, but the missing piece was the knowledge. I'm well on my way now and I'm hungry to learn more and more so I have more tools and knowledge at my disposal to assist others. 

And also as a runner, I know full-well about muscle imbalances that can be caused from running alone, and I also know how a strength training routine has improved my running form, posture, endurance, and not to mention, it's helped me sculpt a body I never thought I could have to make me feel confident wearing short running shorts! 

So what's next for me as an athlete? I've been working hard to restore the strength in my calf at the gym and its endurance to run long after a muscle tear this summer and I am ready to up things again. The longest I've run is 16km, but part of that has been restrictions on time rather than anything else. So with January around the corner and my course complete, I will have more training time again. I've started to register for races in 2015, starting with the Icebreaker 8km in Steveston in February. 

But I would LOVE for you to run with me at a race or two next year. There's a couple special runs out there I want you to register for TODAY!
  • Whether you are new to running and want a short distance race to set a goal toward or you are a seasoned runner and you want to race 5km or 10km fast, the West Van Run is a great option! Race registration is very reasonable, and if you join my team, Run With Zahida, you can register with a 15% discount! Just enter discount code "@artbyzahida" (my Twitter handle - don't forget the @) and voila!
  • I'm back again as Ambassador for the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run, my absolute favourite half marathon. Register before Dec 31st to save and set a resolution to start training for this in January. This will be my first half marathon since June 2014, and I'm so excited to return to this race for my 4th year in a row. It's a race that's super scenic and an absolute blast to run! You do not want to miss this!
So what are you waiting for? Register and come join me!!!