Thursday, February 11, 2016

New Year, New Me, But It's NOT What You Think!

We're well into the New Year, and Zahida is a NEW WOMAN. No, this isn't a late New Year's Resolution post about weight loss blah blah blah. But it's all about my 2016 with a renewed spirit and a new perspective.

So when I wrote my last blog post, I was certain I would be blogging more regularly. Life had returned to normal, my schedule ceased to be insane, and I was able to refocus on myself. I was able to run again and enjoy my sport. Certainly I would have a lot to say.

What's kept me from this blog is that fear of publicly declaring a goal and not seeing it through. It's like when I told one person I was ready to train for my first marathon, it snowballed into me telling more people than just the one, to declaring it here, and then next thing you know, May 2012 rolls around, and I complete my first marathon. I started talking to a friend about how to build strength to better my marathon performance, and next thing you know, in the summer of 2012, I got myself my first ever gym membership. More marathons followed, about 20 half marathons, and several other events. Every time I would declare an action to my peers and definitely putting it down on "paper" or in "blogger blood", I felt the need to complete the goal, no matter what.

But things changed. I needed some time to sort out exactly what goal is important to me before I publicly declare it here. I have it figured out now. Finally.

In 2014, one week before my wedding, I tore my soleus muscle (part of the calf muscle) in my right leg. This was excruciatingly painful and had me hobbling for days. Luckily, it didn't stop me from floating down the aisle or dancing the night away on my wedding day itself. I think wearing high heels oddly felt good and of course emotion kept me going. But because of the torn muscle fibers, my return to running was slow, very slow, but steady. I had to treat myself like a beginner as my right leg simply did not have the strength it was accustomed to. I spent an absolute fortune on rehabilitation, but the biggest blow was not to the bank, but to my ego. I skipped events I was training for, letting my registrations go to waste. And when I did run, I had to take walk breaks. A lot of walk breaks. This marathoner was running 2 minutes and then walking 2 minutes to prevent muscle cramping. 2 minutes on, 2 minutes off. A week later, 5 minutes on, 2 minutes off. And so on. My ego was suffering.

I finally got the strength to run continuously again, and participated in several events in early 2015. But the speed I had in 2013 and 2014 pre-injury just never returned. I was so desperate to get it back. I pushed myself so hard, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I was hungry.  I'm not really sure when it was exactly, but a dear friend of mine set me straight once. I was talking about how I had to break the times I set in 2013. I think my competitiveness and my ego were really obvious (likely obnoxious too). And she responded with such kindness and a directness I wasn't quite ready to take. In fact I almost resented her for her words then because I just couldn't hear them. But today, I'm thankful for those words because it's a perspective that makes a lot of sense to me. They are words that have very much stuck with me. "Zahida, why must it always be about how fast you are? Why can't the fact that you're just doing it be enough?"

And that's the thing. When you hurt yourself and you can't do it at all, that's when even the slowest 2 minute on and 2 minute off run is a gift. Just doing it would be the most amazing gift in the world. I would give anything to just run.

In the summer of 2015 began a cascade of injury and health problems. Yes, more injury. The root of it was insufficient rest and workplace stress.  Because of too much sitting and too little activity (yet not enough proper rest), I hurt my hips and back. This was the worst back pain I had experienced since my weight loss - in other words, the worst back pain I had in 8 or more years. I used to get issues with my back when I was heavy, and it would be so bad, I literally needed help to get out of bed and onto the toilet. This was motivation to lose weight, and doing so and getting myself active solved this problem. But the problem returned with vengeance because of the circumstances I was in. Luckily I am now strong enough that it didn't debilitate me the same way, but the pain was the same. And mentally and emotionally, I had reached a low point in my life. It was a dark place. I'm thankful that I have now rectified this and have my health back on track.It took lots of rehabilitation, a Disney vacation and a new career path to get me out of this funk. I missed every running event I was signed up for after June 2015. I didn't do another event until December - two different fun run Christmas-themed events. No serious races. My ego was hurting so badly now. I lost my swagger entirely.

I started running again in October or November or so, 2015. This is when I confidently proclaimed I'd be back to blogging. I was running again and feeling great. But I was running mostly without a watch, without a plan, without any cares. I was finally free. I was finally happy with just doing it.

But those who know me know that I am motivated by being signed up for races. I've been asked about which races I plan to do, how many half marathons or marathons, or if I was focusing on faster short distance races. Thing is, I haven't been 100% sure. I said early on, I would run 1 or maybe 2 half marathons in 2016. This way, I don't push myself too hard, but I still have to train. But then I'd still feel bad if I ran an event and didn't do so with the speed I used to. So I didn't know what to sign up for, what to tell others, and certainly, not what to say here, online in "blogger blood".

 If you want to go fast, you have to push yourself and train for it. The last thing I want to do though, is push myself TOO hard. I spent a chunk of racing season the last 2 years on the sidelines from pushing myself too hard. What I'd really like to do, is to spend all of 2016 OFF the sidelines. Zahida is NOT a wallflower and she wants to run all year long, injury free!

So there you have it - my goal is not about a fastest anything, but a healthy, fun-loving, injury-free Zahida. That's the new me! Simply put, I want balance. I want to be able to do the events I want to do, have fun at them, and thrive in all other aspects of my life too. Career, family, my creative pursuits, etc.

I don't care how fast I am. I can still be an athlete with this attitude, and I will prove this to you.


My next event is the St. Patrick's Day 5K, but what my training is really focused on now is the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fools Run on April 3rd. I'm running this half marathon for the 5th year in a row, and it's going to be SWEET!!!! :) Come join me!