Community The Nurse Who Came in From the Cold: Melanie Myrand

    The Nurse Who Came in From the Cold: Melanie Myrand

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    Melanie Myrand is a terrific runner and human being and her social media activity is impressive and entertaining. 

    • She hits the nail on the head, reinforcing what we need to keep doing to keep this pandemic under control. She’s practising what she preaches, wearing masks, keeping physically distanced, working in full PPE, and maintaining her social circle. 
    • Her workouts are phenomenal. Some are on her own, others are with teammates. Just recently she ran a workout of 70 minutes at 3:32/km! I think we can expect to see another personal best from her this fall.
    • From the smile on her face with a baby in her arms to the hugs with her in-laws, you can see that family is a huge part of her life. You can always see the love in her eyes.
    • If Mel had any more time in her day, she could likely write a food blog. Her videos and pictures are tantalizing. Her post workout meals meet the needs of an endurance athlete, plus she does everything with her trademark sense of dedication—and fun. 

    One theory behind Mel’s continued running success amidst a pandemic, where she is working full time as a nurse practitioner, is that her grind hasn’t been interrupted. She still gets that high of working all day while thinking of that evening’s workout that she nails before having a lovely dinner with her husband … followed by going to bed to wake up and do it all over again. 

    WORDS FROM COACH JOHN LOFRANCO

    THE FALL PLAN

    “The plan for this fall is to run at the Petit Train du Nord marathon on Oct 4. This marathon is a downhill course and not eligible for Olympic qualification. The goal is to “unofficially” run the Quebec record so that Mel can nail it in an official race in the spring (if available).”

    THE TRAINING

    “When the lockdown started, with Mel and all the others I coach, we talked about goals, what people felt up to doing and what they didn’t want to do. For some, they really wanted to do a time trial to “make up” for canceled races; for others, they were feeling kind of down and just wanted to lay low. In both cases, that’s the right call. Mel put training not on hold, but at a lower priority level when she was working on the front lines.” 

    MEL SPEAKS … BUT FIRST, A LITTLE INTRODUCTION FROM KRISTA 

    At the April 2019 Rotterdam Marathon, Melanie Myrand ran an impressive personal best of 2:33:20. Her time would meet the standard of 2:37:00 required by Athletics Canada to compete at the September 2019 IAAF World Championships. Over a dozen Canadian women would run under the standard by the end of that year. It was a big goal of Melanie’s to make her first major team. She waited patiently but it wasn’t until the day before the big race that Melanie would finally learn that she would run for Team Canada at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

    Melanie has a heart-warming way with her words. Her ability to articulate her love for running, family, friends, food, and her career is as admirable as her success in balancing these aspects of her life. She says it best … 

    Aug 30, 2019: The Exciting Announcement

    “Excited to announce that I will be running the marathon at the IAAF World Championships. Been sitting, hoping, wishing for this! No scratch that. I’ve been running, working and training as if I’m going to DOH—not because I assumed I would be selected or think I’m deserving of it—but because that’s what we runners do. We train for the unknown, we train for a start line we may never get to, we take calculated risks, we train for goals that might not be realized, ultimately to find out what we are made of and to push ourselves in every way possible. So, no, I haven’t been sitting and hoping, I’ve been putting in the work and planning for this race, but yes I’ve been wishing. Wishing because this runners dream of making a world team came true. ”

    Sept 21, 2019: Reflecting on her First Marathon

    “Five years ago I ran my first marathon in an oversized singlet and a brand new pair of NB 1400s. I took one gel at 32km and started way too fast like the hammerhead I am. Needless to say I’ve learned a lot since then and that woman who ran 3:04 in Montreal would have never imagined running a 2:33 five years later. Stay open, stay patient and the sport can reward you with what you want to get from it.” 

    Sept 26, 2019: Honest Emotions, Mental Strategies and Thankfulness Before the Big Race

    “The only walls that exist are those you have placed in your mind. And whatever obstacles you conceive, exist only because you have forgotten what you have already achieved.”

    We are one day away from the 2019 IAAF Doha World Championships marathon and I am filled with excitement, uncertainty and even a bit of fear. I’ve never been that scared of 42.2 which has led me to start fast and take some level of risk during my previous marathons, but this is different. The element of heat which I cannot control shall be respected and will keep me patient. I am prepared because of everyone involved and I am truly thankful and grateful for this opportunity to run on the world stage. Let’s do this.” 

    Sept 28, 2019: Gutting it Out For Her Team

    “The 2019 IAAF Doha World Championships marathon was wild, complete carnage, with 28 DNF’s out of 68 women who lined up. It was a test of endurance, a test for the ego, a test of patience and perseverance. There was no hiding, the heat and humidity made you completely vulnerable and exposed once it hit or creeped up on you. I had made my way up the field from 53rd to 26th before 28km when the heat started to overcome me. When it happened I did all I could to endure watching my pace slow to a pace I would normally consider my easy pace. The only thing I could think of in those last 14km was MY TEAM, who are the people I think of in the last 12km. I needed to finish for MY TEAM! There is no other race for me to justify a DNF, this was my race, all my eggs were in this basket. So I endured and preserved all I could, throwing water over my head at each opportunity and just focusing on moving forward. Coming around the out and back I could see Lyndsay Tessier and it filled me with joy seeing she was doing so well. One of my first questions to Trent at the finish line was how she finished. When I heard the top 10 finish I was elated!!! Two amazing 41 year olds, Roberta Groner and Lyndsay came 6th and 9th which continues to inspire the work I do.“  

    Jan 13, 2020: Life-long Passion for Running

    “A lot has changed over 20 years. One sure thing is I’m still a sucker for the suffering, but now I know how to balance it with easier efforts, breaks and down weeks. Keep it sustainable, keep that fire alive.”

    Jan 18, 2020: When Training is Gruelling

    “A long run in -22? Cross training for two mind numbing hours on an elliptical? Those things never get easy, but you’ve been to darker places. Dark moments often teach us the most so get your big girl panties on, complain a little and get that work in this weekend: there are more bright moments ahead.”

    March 18, 2020: Accepting the Uncertainties with Positivity 

    “How do you train without an imminent race in your future? 

    I guess there are a lot of things I don’t know right now, but what I do know is a start line is NEVER guaranteed.  Runners, I think, are used to dealing with uncertainty so I hope this helps us during these times. I know for sure exercising (while practicing social distancing) increases endorphins which helps us manage anxiety and stress. Running (and/or at home workouts) can provide structure to the day which is so important for our mental health. So, for now what I do know is I’m still training as if I’m running 5-10k races this summer and a marathon this fall.” 

    Apr 15, 2020: Transferable Skills: From Athlete to Nurse Practitioner 

    “When adapting to new working conditions I think back to this day. Running a marathon in Doha in 42 degree heat at midnight was untouched territory for me and there was a huge possibility I wouldn’t succeed. Now I find myself facing the unknown again with other challenges including providing some of my working hours back at the bedside. I haven’t been a bedside nurse in over five years which is challenging enough, but this time we have a new virus changing the way we manage patients, this time we are working in a hotel—not a hospital—to keep COVID patients separated from the others. I guess that can be analogous to running a marathon with the added challenge of heat and a midnight start. I’m grateful for the tools running has given me to overcome these new challenges ahead, also this time I’ll try to keep my eyes open.”

    Apr 21, 2020: Maintaining Sanity 

    “What’s keeping you sane right now? For me the answer is and most probably will always be running. It gets my crazies out in times of stress, brings a smile to my face and always ends up clearing my head.”

    May 4, 2020: The Heartbreak and Rawness of a Health Care Professional Working in a Pandemic

    “My heart dropped, not another call to work another shift. I barely had a weekend. How do you say no when they tell you they are seven nurses short? How will you enjoy your day off with the feeling of guilt inside your heart knowing someone probably won’t be well cared for and the team of nurses that go in will be run off their feet? This was actually just my sister calling who had left her caller ID off. The sense of relief I had when I heard her voice on the other end made me realize that COVID-19 is affecting me more than I realized, BUT I consider myself lucky. I’m lucky because I work mainly at the hotel right now where patients from private residence and CHSLD’s are transferred because they are COVID+ and their residence can’t accommodate them. I’m lucky because at the end of my busy shift I know the patients were well cared for. Our patients die comfortably, the ones that survive are well cared for (we have a whole floor of patients who are now negative). I’m lucky because although I’m working hard I can leave with peace of mind.

    However, my heart goes out to those working in the private residence and CHSLD’s. I’ve worked at one where all the staff got infected and the CIUSSS had to provide nurses and PAB’s to care for the patients. Often you show up to your shift and there aren’t enough people to care for the patients so you do the best job you can, often there is nobody to replace you when you’re done your shift so do you leave or stay for another eight hours? The horror stories I hear from nurses I work with who have worked at CHSLD’s where dressings weren’t changed, dentures hadn’t been removed and cleaned for weeks breaks my heart. I can only imagine the death of these seniors knowing how quick they can become symptomatic and turn for the worse without the proper nursing care to make them comfortable. How is this happening in 2020? How is it that these seniors who often suffer from dementia, whose families can no longer give them the proper care are treated this way? Quebec has dropped the ball on our seniors.”

    May 17, 2020: iRun Because…

    “What is keeping you motivated to get out and run? For me the things NOT motivating me now are racing (because there are none), guilt (because when I miss a workout/run the guilt lasts about two minutes, lol). What IS motivating me is getting out in nature or my usual strip of road after a day of work and literally “running off my day,” so I’m actually feeling fresh when I get home. My motivation to do workouts is the stimulation of doing something that requires more effort which actually makes my easy runs more enjoyable. Maintaining some level of fitness is a huge motivator for me because it makes me feel good! I keep running so I can continue to enjoy running.” 

    May 25, 2020 Tears to Smiles in PPE on a 12 hour Shift 

    “Me: can you tell me where you are right now?”

    “Patient X: I’m at Parc Safari.” 

    “Me (in my head): Yep, it’s pretty much a zoo right now. She’s definitely got something right.” 

    How is a patient not to be confused with a bunch of healthcare workers caring for her in PPE? She hasn’t seen someone she recognizes in weeks. Everything is kind of fuzzy behind PPE making it hard for the patients and the healthcare workers, but it’s our new normal and the way we protect our patients and ourselves.

    This week patient X lost her husband to COVID-19, she is COVID + as well, but doing ok. When she was told the news she put both hands on her ears and grimaced. It’s hard to comfort someone in PPE, we can’t give long hugs like we want to, she can’t see the expression of despair on your face and you only hope the empathy in your voice gets across. She sits in her chair all day and often has moments of lucidity. Yesterday was Sunday and her family was together so we organized a Zoom meeting. Her face lit up and she smiled, calling out and saying something to each of her family members when she saw their faces. I hadn’t seen her smile like that in all the days I’ve worked with her. I started tearing up behind my PPE secretly, thankful it’s fuzzy so nobody will see.

    Often we are most proud of the medical decisions we make or evaluations that go on to help our patients recover, but sometimes it’s the human things we do that make us happy and proud to be nurses.

    June 19, 2020: Appreciating the Losses and the Gains

    “I hope we can all finally see the light at the end of this tunnel we have all been living in for the last 100+ days. We have all had to deal with our own hardship and loss during this time but I hope and wish we can all come out of the pandemic with something positive or something learned. World champs brought me back to my first marathon. It resembled my first marathon in that it was hot, humid, with a nice blow up at the end. Despite the challenges we tend to learn most by these experiences versus the races that went perfectly. 

    COVID brought me back to my original nursing roots, back at the bedside for a big portion of my work. I witnessed death again, patients’ last breath, managed patients’ care with the team, keeping patients safe and providing the best care to help them overcome this virus. I’m proud of the team I worked with. In the CISSSMO Montérégie Ouest not one CHSLD in the public sector had a case of COVID. The private residences in my region were affected and quickly the staff from the cisssmo took over. The nurse practitioners in my milieu stepped up either doing rounds like the doctors in the private residences or working as nurse clinicians back at the bedside. The pandemic opened my eyes to the possibility of working more closely in the CHSLD’s as an NP in the future. This pandemic taught us how strong our team is and how quickly we were able to adapt to new teams, milieus of work, and a new virus. So just like running we often learn the most from our hardest races, we can come out stronger, we lost something but gained something as well.”

    July 1, 2020: The New Way of Racing, Virtually 

    “Nothing like working through some pain and dark places to start the day! 35:55. A nice little kick in the butt motivating me for some more miles and quality work moving forward. Thanks for organizing a fun virtual event, Ottawa Marathon and Athletics Canada.”

    August 16, 2020: Another Exciting Announcement

    “Nothing makes a goal more special and purposeful than a group of people to go through the process with you. Thankful for my teammates Athletisme Ville-Marie who have chosen to join me in the process of attempting a sub 2:29:28 at the Petit Train du Nord October 4th.”

    MELANIE, IN HER OWN WORDS

    “What is a Fitbitch? A female who is aggressively pursuing her athletic goals. A woman who is confident and competitive. It’s the woman I strive to be everyday even if I don’t feel it everyday. 

    Embracing confidence and competitiveness is not selfish, it’s not mean or “bitchy” in the negative sense, men are applauded for these characteristics all the time. Confidence and competitiveness should be what we work towards and not what we shy away from. When a woman is confident and competitive she helps other women do the same, she helps them rise up and push their own limits becoming stronger together.”

    PERSONAL BESTS

    5 km 17:44 (2014)

    5,000 m 16:39 (2016)

    10 km 35:06 (2018)

    10,000 m 33:42 (2020)

    Half Marathon 1:15:50 (2018)

    Marathon 2:33:20 (2019)

    MARATHON PROGRESSION

    2019 Rotterdam Marathon, 2:33:20

    2018 Chicago Marathon, 2:34:08

    2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, 2:39:10

    2014 Montreal Marathon, 3:04:57

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