Today I am 40. I’m in a good place. A great place. I’ve achieved some incredible goals, which makes it a good place.And I am ready for more, which makes it a great place. I believe in setting the bar high, achieving, and repeating. I believe I can set personal bests at 40.
I joined Speed River with Head Coach Dave Scott-Thomas (aka Coach DST) in Guelph, where I completed my nutrition undergrad and played hockey for the University of Guelph. It has been a very positive transition. Coach DST and I have learned from each other, and he has already guided and directed me in many ways. I am learning to run more AYF (as you feel) on some days, and by listening to my intuition on others. I am already thinking differently and feeling mentally challenged in a new way. I think mileage and workouts are above par for this time of year, which pleases me, especially knowing this is just the beginning.
Many other qualified team members of the IST (Integrated Support Team) have begun to guide and assist me in several areas that I felt needed to be critically evaluated. I didn’t want to keep doing things just because I had always done them that way.Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.
Did I need to be pool running 1.5 h, 5 days a week? Should I implement a more structured and specific strength program? What kind of shoe might be better for me? Even though I’m a dietitian, what could I change? Could a sports psychologist help me take it to the next level? How much should I really weigh and when?
In my biweekly trips to Guelph I have been able to make my days full by connecting with several people to help me address these questions. Remember, my first marathon in 2002 was recreational, and 3:28. I was not coming from a formal, collegiate program.
So what exactly has happened? So far, Taylor has taught me strength drills. Brenda and Marcell have provided treatment, and advice about shoe wear and preventative maintenance. Eric and I have chatted about diet. Trent has provided research and guidance for various areas, including altitude training. Kyle has completed a body composition assessment. Dr. Mountjoy has reviewed my blood work, provided feedback and recommendations. And soon I will be connecting with Lisa for sports psychology. Speed River has mastered the art and science of running, while they continue to learn and adapt. I will complete the testing Coach DST feels is necessary but won’t have to unnecessarily fill my calendar. Coach DST and I agreed that there are some things my body can better tell us than any amount of data.
It is difficult to articulate my feelings. Over the years I have had these dreams where I returned to the University of Guelph to play hockey while completing some sort of post grad. And here I am, back doing the other sport I love, while not having to be a student again (phew!). I had my first track workout last week and had so much fun, whipping around the track, chasing and being chased by women half my age. It took me back to my Petrolia L.C.C.V.I. Lancer days with Coach Murray Jackson and teammates and good friends, Erin and Melissa. My first Speed River workout included about 8 or 9 in the distance group. We completed our warm up and cool down outside with our workout on the track inside.
My Olympic teammate, Gen and the rest of the group was very warm and welcoming. Even Eric was on site, cheering on teammates. Before the workout, many shared the uneasy feeling of hitting the track a bit rusty at the end of the Christmas break but by the end I think all were pleased with our progress. I drove to Guelph feeling uncomfortable for the unfamiliar. Because we had some mild temperatures I could have easily stayed home to run the workout on the track but this is what it was all about. No regrets. No, “Why didn’t I?”. My drive home had me feeling a new energy with thoughts about higher heights. The experience was exhilarating.
The last item I had frequently wondered about but had always been next to impossible to implement with young kids was a trip away for altitude training because I needed at least 3 weeks. Last month I began the conversation with my husband about a family trip to Flagstaff, Arizona. I could train at altitude while he and the kids skied. But after researching flights and discussing a different location for skiing that could include family, we came up with a different plan. A few days later I was discussing this while pool running with John, a frequent participant of high altitude training in Kenya with Speed River teammate, Reid. That is when it hit me. If I am going to be away for 3+ weeks anyway, why not finally fulfill my desire to go to Kenya?! I immediately texted Jonathan who thought it was a great idea. The kids were on board and up to the challenge, knowing how key their role was and how successful they were in carrying the household load in order for me to train for the Olympics. Coach DST gave the thumbs up and John and Reid assisted me in choosing the dates and making travel and accommodation arrangements. Prior to booking I had some reservations about leaving the kids for so long and passing all my duties to Jonathan. But then I thought more about #TeamDuChene, getting out my comfort zone and striving for the unfamiliar. We could do this.
I don’t think there is anything better that they could give me or I could want for my 40th. Back to the difficulty in articulating my feelings. Surreal? Crazy? Wishful thinking? It doesn’t matter to me. I’m ready.