Friday, December 6, 2019

Ablation Anniversary - One Year Ago


Exactly one year ago today my heart would be changed moving forward. After my diagnosis in June 2018 of having an arrhythmia issue I chose to have an invasive procedure done called the Ablation!
Most of you know my story by now but if you just stumbled across my blog you may want to read my very 1st post.
This past year has been quite the roller coaster ride of emotions and anxiety but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The tribe of family & friends that have been there for me I am truly grateful.
As I sport this 14 day Holter where I will post numerous pics of wearing these electrodes aka pasties as it monitors my heart.

As I reflect on the past 12 months I can summarize the following:

3 months - the toughest part of recovery for a cardiac athlete is actually letting your body heal. Having to slow down was extremely hard and I learned that Dr Google is the worst physician 🙄

6 months - learning from the previous 3 months it was nice to get back moving and running as if I was finding my fitness. It was an amazing lead up to race weekend and to represent the Ottawa Marathon as a Team Awesome ambassador and of course supporting other runners as Xtra Mile Crew.
So heart wise mine was quite full meeting team members and helping many friends cross that finish line or just running with them even if it was just a short distance.

9 months - this was the absolute toughest block. I shall dub these the Michelle months. If you’ve followed along my social feeds where I rolled my ankle and suffered the worst sprain ever without breaking a bone. It was traumatic to say the least. BUT heart wise it somewhat helped. Weight wise it did not as I sunk into food as my comfort to cope but couldn’t get out of that funk which lead into the next three months. But one salvation was meeting my cankle buddy that helped bring me some perspective and knowing that I wasn’t alone. She reached out when no one else did. Probably because she had just come off of her own debilitating injury. So it was Cankley meets Michelle IRL (In Real Life).

Year 1 - the only saving grace was accomplishing one goal I had set out which really wasn’t a goal but to have fun but along the way. However recovery wiser I managed in:
  1. Doing a furry fun run with my oldest & Shade.
  2. Seeing my youngest get her G1 and
  3. Completing one final run; one final race & one final way to redeem myself by doing the 1/2 marathon at 9 Run Run.

The last few weeks have been a mix of burnout and just general anxiety. I took a break of almost three weeks of any activity feeling sorry for myself but after talking to my tribe the problem wasn’t me and I had to move on and get over I did. I volunteered to do photos for ArboRace2 (some cool photos if I do say so) and then Santa photos at the Old Fashioned Christmas Fair. Then I went back to the gym and crushed a workout then started heading back with the trail running group. It was those feelings I was missing. Those calls I was making silently weren’t being heard and within me I snapped myself out of the fitness funk I was in. I think just getting back out with people that just get me and understood who I really am and what I needed. So to those that listened me in those chats thank you! You know who you are.
So as I celebrate the one year Ablation Anniversary my wisdom to you all is
  1. Stop chasing people! Cherish the tribe that want to talk to & hear you. Those are your people.
  2. If you’re in a fitness funk it’s OK. You’ll find your way back. Take a breath! Just read wisdom #1 above. Reach out to those people that know you.
Hopefully at my next update you may see me as a graduate from the Heart Institute ❤

Some photos from the last few months that depict the roller coaster ride that goes from heart condition to fitness funk to finding fitness and the tribe that just gets me!
Happy Holidays all.

It wouldn't be the same if I didn't add a Hamilton reference

one of my tribe posted this and it helped me refocus

During that 9 month point I had one goal which ended up being a support for these two lovely ladies

If you know me this is me volunteering and giving back

ArboRace2 - collision course/obstacles

Volunteer Crew for the Goulbourn Museum Old Fashioned Christmas Craft Fair

You'll find me here almost every Saturday

The main crew and the 💓 of my life

The U2 - UltraCliff and Unicorn Chaser

Ottawa Mother Runners

I may not be a "Mom" but this crew gets me also!

Monday, November 25, 2019

11 months Post Ablation and the Fitness Funk


I've been neglecting writing a post for my 11th month post ablation as I didn't really know what to say. After my performance at 9 run run I think I peaked and then I had one more redemption run in me to go back to the MEC road race to see if Michelle can tackle the hills at Fortune and to really test if I can truly push myself heart wise and ankle wise.
Sadly the day before the race there was a wicked wind storm that took down a lot of trees in Gatineau Park and the NCC couldn't guarantee they would be ready let alone MEC, the organizers, to setup for the 5K and the 1/2. 
I still picked up my bib, but it wasn't meant to be as late Friday they called off the race.
Obviously for safety reasons, but disappointment was had and I was feeling empty. I ended up joining the Bushtukah crew and hoped that would do it as I had not run with them often and it would have been a good test to see how I would handle trails. I felt fine, but of course didn't push it.
Redemption was not to be had for MEC Road Race #2

Ottawa State of Mind

Now once I hit that peak and that disappointment I hit what I'm calling a "Fitness Funk" I had zero motivation and basically some negativity in my life that was sending me into some anxiety. It was hard to articulate my feelings and whether putting them on the blog would actually help or not?! I didn't know so part of my "funk" was self inflicted and I turned to some people in my tribe that just know me. One of them posted this on their IG story!
This helped steer me in the right direction!

If any of you know me I give myself and to the community. It's just who I am. When one person in your life just cuts you off (see image above) then they are not worth your energy. So the past few weeks I gave myself to the run community and it was hard to let go. I'm not going to lie. Moving on is not easy when you've been an integral person to them. Well at least you think you were. But I found in the last couple of weeks I need to break that funk and just move on.
Volunteering as a course marshal and photographer for Pathway to a Cure
It was at the ArboRace2 that I started feeling like myself again. I saw many runners that appreciated me taking photos of the race and just for giving back to the community. I needed that!
Then the next day I did more photography and helped out the Goulbourn Museum for their Old Fashioned Christmas Craft Fair with their Santa photos. It was my 2nd year doing the photos and it was another rewarding experience.
I felt the spark slowly coming back.
The many volunteers with Santa

Bushtukah Stittsville Trail Running, Evolve Run Club and Mill Street Milers

This past weekend I joined a plethora of running. I was welcomed back with no judgement and appreciated to be around this tribe of people. Words can't convey the gratitude I have for them. It's not just friends, but family. They just get me and helped steer me away from the negativity and direct my energies to where they need to be! So thank you tribe.
I'm sure the photos will speak for themselves!
P8 - Bushtukah Trail Running Crew

The way to the waterfall

Long exposure of the waterfall. Getting there was icy AF

Happy to make it back to the ruins of MacKenzie King Estate

Mill Street Milers - Newvember

Photos by BytownBoy (IG)

So my message to you all is to find your tribe. If you're feeling in a "funk" and you don't know who to turn to anymore when certain people are no longer part of your life. Look the other way or even behind you! You never know who will catch you when you fall and bring you back up. It could be as simple as just getting outside or reaching out to a random person that you've connected with that understand you. Sometimes it's the little things that can break that vicious cycle and allow you to move on! Stay strong and stay tuned for December as I approach my one year Ablation-aversry!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Fall Update

10 months Post Ablation

Again and as far as I know I am still in normal sinus rhythm (NSR). Since I won't be getting my last Holter until December and of course with "Michelle" the cankle that slowed down my entire summer of training and activities this was a huge benefit to being off.
Other than the Wiggle Waggle Furry Fun Run of 2K I didn't do much in September. I did some of the Interval Return to Running program with bouts of 3 min run/ 1 min walk. But I focused in the month of September and October to work on my stamina and endurance at OrangeTheory Fitness. After all I paid for it and the folks at Kanata South were more than willing to hold my membership until I'm better. I think for the last 8-9 sessions and I tried the treadmill running once and I lasted one block as Michelle wasn't quite ready so back to the stationary bike I went. Not a bad thing, but I also took out my road bike a couple of times and I'm enjoying the cycling. It is easier on the heart and if I plan to work on the cycling over the winter then this would a huge benefit in the off season of running. Yes off season, but I'll touch on that more a bit later. For now I respect the workout and of course being mindful of my heart and being reminded that it is still healing and if I don't want any more episodes I just watch the heart monitor and pace myself and take the breaks.


For someone who is recovering I've actually compiled a lot of running since Army Run Volunteering. Here's what I've been up to if you haven't been following along.

NPOMR - National Peace Officer's Memorial Run

September 28th I participated with my friend Michelle (real person not the cankle and also not named after 😏) in the National Peace Officer's Memorial Run to commemorate those law enforcement officers that gave their lives in the line of duty. Most runners ran from Toronto Queen's Park all the way to Ottawa's Parliament Hill and to the memorial beside Parliament close to East Block.
This was only my 2nd run which was tricky. One, it was rainy/misty day so it was humid. Two, I had not really run more than 2-3K so this was going to be about 5-8K depending as I met up with the bus at the Ottawa Police Station on Elgin. I parked and waited with a couple of others, but it seemed a majority of them were meeting at the Brewer Park across from Carleton University.
Michelle came by van as she wasn't running the previous leg as she was doing the final leg which was almost 8K, but according to my Strava it ended up being 7.1, but then I ran back to the car so it was a bit more which made it 8K eventually. It was a sombre run, given the news from the previous day. However, the spirit was still there and it was a fantastic way to commemorate the peace officers. In fact Michelle told me that it wasn't just southern Ontario it was many detachments outside even as far as Northern Ontario. In fact other officers not just police, but border patrol as well. 
Our official escorts

Real Michelle

Runners coming from Riverside South
3K left

Almost to Parliament

Uphill walk/run/march

Officers paying their respects
After the service and my run back with a Heather drive by

Longest run to date
I'm hoping if I do this again I'll be in better shape and able to go near the front as opposed to the caboose runner I've been so accustomed to.
Great day for a run and even a drive by honking by one of the work wives Heather (who confirmed later) who honked at me.

Gesine's Run (Cycling Photographer)

So late September early October-ish I was invited to participate by Gesine (who doesn't love this crazy ultra woman) to run part of the leg, but I wasn't sure if I could run any of it for a long distance and I considered doing some, but my confidence wasn't there. So then she said I could bike and take photos as she recalled that I took photos for Evolve Run Club with the Super Run Club. So I said sure I could do that! So I met them bright and early on October 5th and took the inaugural photo of another crazy ultra man Andre Andre. Once they started I drove and met them just around Westboro Beach to grab a quick photo and then I drove to Remic Rapids, parked and then hopped on my bike and started following them and taking photos at every opportunity I could. In fact the album is right here
It was a fantastic day. A bit cool to start, but it was actually refreshing, but I definitely got my mileage in. In total I biked about 35K in two different legs. 25.63 K to Aviation and back to Remic and then 9.52 from the Nepean Sailing Club to the start of the SJAM. 
Near the end it was quite the crew that assembled. Warm day and tired legs with an itchy photographer finger. Oh and of course the run was for WUSC Student Refugee Program.

The Ultra Twosome - Andre Andre and Gesine

The way back from Aviation

Remic Rapids

View from the Eddy Bridge

Hydration Station at the War Museum

The crew running by the spider and the basilica.

ready to depart from Aviation Museum

Remic Rapids

I never knew that was Queen Elizabeth in front of the GG residence. 

The Falls by Sussex

Reflections of the bridge not in use

Fall Rhapsody on the SJAM trail


Fast forward to October 9th where every year my workplace holds a 5K run for the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (dang that's a long title).
This will be only like my 3rd official race of which these have all been for fun/charity. I was only up to 3 minute run and 1 minute walk and I only wanted to finish around 35-37 minutes as I've not run around the campus since before the summer so this was going to be hard. But I went with two co-workers and it was just fine. No complaints. Great day and was fun to be almost last. 😃
Blue Man Crew


5K done and a decent pace!

Run to Beer (Brew Revolution)

Run to Beer in this case Brew Revolution in Stittsville

Inside the Brewery

Ready to get the runners going

Ashley/Maximus and Shade

Nice out and back with Shade.

Sticks and Stones

October 12 was to be a milestone for me, but sadly the events at the MEC Fortune Fell had changed my direction.
You all know the story by now and part of it showing up to surprise Eunice and Liisa was part closure. It was so amazing their reaction and of course just being there to cheer them on. The race was in Dundas just close to Hamilton. I had left the morning of Friday at 9:30, but didn't get into St. Catharines until after 5p. That will teach me to leave on a Friday. Should have headed out on the Thursday after work.
Now Saturday morning I knew they would be starting early, but of course I was an hour away so I left to meet them as they are getting close to 1/4 of the way and I got there I didn't realize I had to pay admission into the park. That was a bit of a surprise, but you do what you have to do to support your peeps.
I parked and it was busy in the lots so I had a bit of a hike to get to where they were, but it was easily marked so I managed to find my way. I was going to go somewhere along the loop, but I needed to get my bearings. I heard some cheering so I went towards that noise and sure enough there was a small crowd. Of course the race was many distances from 5K to the 50K. So once the majority of them had gone I went to just after the finish and I could see them just finishing their 3rd loop I tried to yell to them but I was drowned out by cow bells. So I let them head into their loop and made sure they didn't see me so I could make my way to the finish and about 100 m or so before the bag drop of nutrition. So I waited and I could see them coming and the expression on their faces was amazing. In fact they were super excited and I somehow made Eunice cry. Poor thing. Not my intention, but that was a great moment.
I pieced together some of my live photos and made a video of the moment and it was fabulous.
After I sent them off onto their next loop I stayed as long as I could before I had to head back for Grandpa Pak's bday supper.
But I did get a chance to do the loop backwards, just so I can the Ultra ladies pull of their amazing run. As usual I cheered on people as they ran by me. It was a fun day to be had and I'm glad I got to be a part of their ultra experience.

Happy Trails Racing

I just missed them as I arrived for their start of the 4th loop so I waited

Then they saw me. I made Eunice cry

The race the three of us was to train for, but sadly Michelle ruined it

Part of the Ultra Crew in the back Elissa

They surprised me with a token gift as part of the plan was to do the butter tart run on the way home.

Grandpa Pak

So of course if I'm headed down for a Thanksgiving weekend and found a way to get my visit in with Dad and see the ladies so it was a great visit since he was turning 91 on the Thanksgiving Monday.
Happy Birthday Ba!
As a birthday dinner we went to this place called Ma Restaurant and it was super tasty. We went there last year for his 90th so it made sense to continue the tradition!

Grandpa Pak - This is 91

Went last year to this resto

Trying to get a decent picture.

9 Run Run

October 19th! The day I took back a race!
(Cue Hamilton Reference) I didn’t throw away My Shot! Or rather I didn’t let Michelle take it away. In fact I took back what happened almost 14 weeks ago. Was I ready? Probably not but I went in with no expectations but to get to that finish. Time was on my side!
I reached out the the race director three weeks before race day to confirm if I could start before the official time and go with the walkers. I knew I would be slower than the usual, but also I didn't want to slow anyone else down and I wanted to focus on what I've been building through my time at OrangeTheory Fitness. I did as many workouts I could and focused on a lot of stationary bike. I didn't want to take chance on the impact of the tread to the ankle as the issue with going with the walkers is running on the sidewalks and soft shoulders of the road since the course is not officially closed until 9a. So I had a whole 1 hour and 15 minute head start from the speedy half marathoners.
I started the race promptly at 8a and all walkers got a photo with Brenda the 9 run run race director! Once we got the official countdown I officially started my run/walk at the 9RunRun half marathon!
The first 5K was pretty uneventful I made sure to keep a decent pace and to be mindful of the traffic. Most of the sidewalks were OK, but as I didn't want to criss-cross a lot to get to sidewalks I did some grass running or curb running to avoid traffic. The stretch from about Westridge/Stittsville Main was all soft shoulder and instead of running into traffic as is customary I decided to just keep on the road and ensure I didn't get hit. It wasn't a long stretch to get to Flewellyn, but definitely a slow steady uphill climb.
There was one lady that started with us and she was going pretty fast. I had to guess a 6:45 pace which was pretty aggressive in the early stretch especially in the category of walker. So I stuck to my plan and kept doing the 5 minute and 1 minute walk. I kept hydrated with my lemon lime Nuun in my CamelBak on each walk break. Since I wasn't sure how much hydration I calculated with the cooler temperatures I didn't need as much so I went with 1.5L+ just to be on the safe side and if I needed more I would just stop at a water table. Well as a walker a lot of that wasn't set up yet so be warned if you are a walker to plan hydration properly.
I made it to about 9K and took a photo as I took that to send to Kathy to give her an indication that I have a 9K head start to see if she saw the symbolism in the marker and know that she had a head start on her recovery at 9 weeks. 😊
By the time I reached 10K I could see the turn off onto Munster Road. I took a Fruit2 by Xact Nutrition & I decided it was a good time to get a selfie with the firefighters and other first responders. They humoured me. 😆 Once I made it half way I had caught up with Ana and she was starting to feel a lot of leg cramping so I had asked her if she had enough hydration. She said she was almost out. I didn't want to give her mine as I had electorlytes in the form of Nuun and I didn't want to give her something she wasn't used to. I said let's stick together and hope someone has something at the turn onto Fernbank.
I kept my pace and made it around the corner, but lost Ana. So I continued onto Jinkinson Road. I was greeted by several volunteers and some cheer squad ladies that were very enthusiastic. I was sad to learn I had yet another long uphill stretch to go towards before I could hit the Trans Canada Trail, but I kept going. Once I hit the turnaround I saw Ana coming towards the turnaround and I gave her a high 5 and said keep going you're going to catch up!
I made it to the TCT...the home stretch. I was getting excited. Only another 6K to go. Now it is a countdown backwards to the 21.1K.
By about the 16K mark area I came up on a lot of loose large rocks and it appeared as if they graded the trail for the runners and it came across this dip and all the loose rocks were there. So I stopped and walked through the mine field and was fearful to turn that ankle again. Once I made it through I continued the run. But I started feeling the effects of the soft shoulders and uneven road portions I ran and started feeling cramping in my right calf. So I decided to walk a bit longer. I made it to 17K and felt something odd in my shoe so I decided to take it off and that is when my right calf seized big time. It was rock hard. I could not move it. So I massaged it and it slowly passed and took in more hydration to see if that would help. I also took another Fruit2 by Xact Nutrition to see if I needed a bit of an energy boost. So I walked and ran and decided not to listen to my watch and go with feel. My body crashed hard and was revolting so I just coasted in, by about the 10K race turnaround the volunteer asked me "What race are you doing?" I told him I was one of the walkers for the 1/2 marathon and he and his partner cheered me on. I saw some familiar faces along the 10K route and then Ana caught up with me. We compared our pain and shared strategy how to get through the last 3K +
We ran/walk/walk/ran as best we could and my run became more of a power walk to stretch out the cranky calves. I knew I made it this far and I wasn't going to quit. I kept trying to track Kathy on the Garmin Live Tracker and I thought I had zero signal, but it turns out that her phone crashed hard and she couldn't get it to work and then her awesome playlist had to be parked. Technology damnit!
So I had the presumption that she was chasing me down so I said I promised her I would meet her at the end of the trail or at the finish so I had to make sure I made it. I owed her that much to get moving.
So as soon we got to the TCT lookout the photographer was there so Ana and I made it look good and he snapped several photos of us! Thanks at Finisher Pix for the awesome photos!
I have done that walk to the lookout with Shade so many time that I knew it wasn't much further. So I kept moving on my power walk and told Ana to keep going, but she was slowing as well. 
Once we hit back on the road the speed walking lady had caught up to both of us and she was moving! We tried to keep after her, but she was on a mission and she finished ahead of us. At that point I was done. I just wanted it to be over so I could stretch out my legs and rest, but more importantly I wanted to see where Kathy was. When I crossed the clock read something like 1:54 or something and I only wish I was sub 2 hours, but I finished in 2:49:46 chip time. Considering how under trained I was in terms of mileage I am counting this as a win. I wanted to prove this to me and no one else. This was my race to take back.
No time just one goal to finish.
Now I had time to chill, but I stood waiting for Kathy and was chatting with Mark K from running room and he congratulated me. He thought I ran the 10K, but I said no I did the half and he just was in awe that I took on the bigger challenge. Gutsy move he said. Heck go big or go home!
We both watched runners coming in that we knew and I kept checking the clock. As 2:10 hit and the bunny was finishing I kept looking for her. Then I saw just a few minutes behind the bunny. I called out to her and she saw me and I said let's go lady come and get me. I doubt she heard me, but I can tell from her smile she was happy to see me and I ran her in a la Xtra Mile Crew.
Also Finisher Pix got a great poster quality photo of the two us in a hug that we think is worthy of all the feels. We both did it! She took back her 19 seconds in fact A LOT more and I took back a race finally that I didn't want the cankle to take away and give me a Did Not Start (DNS). 
So raise a glass to freedom! Freedom from Michelle! 😉
Kudos to all the volunteers, first responders and organizers.

Start line Selfie



Munster Road

Coming onto Fernbank and they finally closed the roads

Long climb to the turnaround

Onto the trail and then 16K marker

Cankle Buddy

On the podium

Quitters treats

Shade felt left out

That feel good moment when two cankle warriors achieve their goals

I earned every kilometre of this medal.

The Canada Beer Run - West Edition (Photographer)

I was all set to recover in the comfort of my home, but I got a late message from Ron from whom I've volunteered with and got to chatting at one of the events we did. I wasn't sure I wanted to do this, but after all it was a reason to actually get the legs moving and hoping to get some of those stiff joints moving. So I said sure why not. It would have been an ideal gig if there was two of me, but it would have been nice to get some photos of the runners on the NCC trails, but sadly there were four waves so I needed to get as many of the initial group shot and the runs to the three breweries within a 100 m radius of each other. 
I saw many familiar faces doing this race and it was a lot of fun capturing the runners and some in some pretty hilarious costumes.
Album located here.
If you're in the West End near the high tech area. There are three breweries within a stone throws.
  • Calabogie Brewing Company
  • Small Pony Barrel Works
  • Big Rig Brewery
  • WhiprSnapr (Bells Corners)
  • Kitchessippi Beer Co (Bells Corners)
Also this was the inaugural edition of the West End version of the Canadian Beer Run and the downtown one was sold out.

Random Stuff in the Fall

Shade and I on the TCT just working on my 3/1's

Who knew it would be my right calf causing issues on the race day?

Also this lady from Kinetic Edge/Recover RX Dr. Joanna Taylor has been a saviour to Kathy and I.