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Run For Joy

by Lucy Smith

Updated: 2018-03-07T10:22:58.632-08:00




Run for Joy is Running to A New Site!

The all new is up and running. Please visit my new site @

Very soon, this blog will be taken down and will be located @

Postings will continue soon,




It Runs in the Family: Brother Dan Finishes 2nd in his Age Group at IM Canada

(image) My knee injury has kept me from competing for most of the season this year, but the rest of my clan is keeping up the Smith family tradition of excelling at outdoor pursuits. Dad, at 73 is racing his bike in the BC Senior Games this fall. Jo, while finishing up her Ph.D, just rode 100 miles to raise money for MS, and Dan just qualified for Hawaii IM on his first attempt. And that was not just his first attempt at qualifying; it's was his FIRST IRONMAN!

I may have been the sibling to pursue a career in competitive sports, but I certainly share competitive spirit with my family members! Growing up in our house was not for the faint-hearted. We turned everything into a competition, even dish washing (doing them in record time etc). If it was Mastermind, Boggle or ping pong, then you better be prepared to take it seriously. Scores counted and and were recorded. We actively searched for things to do where we could try hard and compete. Even if we were hiking, there were rocks to climb UP, and if there was ice on the pond there was an excellent opportunity to have a slide-off. I did a lot of racing around trying to keep up. There was no easy win when playing games with Dan. But I always came back for more.

After years spent racing Lasers, Windsurfers and mountain bikes (with a little triathlon in the '80's: Dan did triathlon long before I did. My running-only training regime was not to be messed with when I was younger), Dan decided to train for Ironman. The day after cheering me on to my 9th place finish at IM Canada in 2007, he signed up. (It gets them every time. Watch the race and you feel compelled to do it).

And did he ever do it. His 2nd place age group finish and Hawaii spot were cause for celebration in the family. His 5 hour bike split made us all proud. We've always been the kind of family that values honest effort and hard work as much as results, and when it comes together for a great day in sport, we can celebrate with joy.

Way to go Uncle Dan, we are proud of you!

Lucy, Maia and Ross




Gold Medal Winner, Open Water Log Kayaking, Ross WatsonIt's All Over for another 4 yearsMaia and I watched all 3 (or was that 4?) hours of the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. It was fascinating and fun as CBC had countless athletic music video montages of the games, day by day, medal by medal. Then all the dancers and gymnastics stunts came. I remember being 9 and watching the Montreal Olympics in 76 and that was the first time I remember being moved by the whole Olympic passion, so I sort of know how she felt when I saw the flame extinguished. We both felt sad and emotional. "We have to wait four more years?" she asked.I got up on Monday morning and noticed the absence of Olympic fever...I couldn't just pop on the TV and watch some cool sports, and some amazing athletes performing their skills. I love the Olympics and the endless parade of interesting characters, events and athletic skill. I love this 2 weeks where you can see diving, gymnastics, volleyball, white water kayaking, swimming, rowing, triathlon, women's distance running and anything besides guys playing hockey, baseball football and racing cars.Both kids were excited to watch the Olympics, and I don't think was only that the TV was on A LOT and they got to watch A LOT for two whole weeks. One night, while I watched the whole women's triathlon, Maia put out three yoga mats and gave Ross a gymnastics lesson. After Emma Snowsill won the race, Maia asked if there were any more kids triathlons to do this fall. After every gymnastics competition Maia asked me if I had registered her in gymnastics yet. Watching diving made Ross do somersaults. The Olympics are like that; they get you all fired up to do something great. It's like being at an Ironman event. I can't watch an Ironman without wanting to start training for the next one 'right now.' Here then, are our top highlights of the Olympics this year, as seen through the eyes of a young family:1. Phelp's 2nd Gold medal in the 400IM relay and when he went ballistic celebrating. Ross loved that part, and called him the 'Puff up man' because of the way he pumped his arms and all his muscles and veins popped out.2. The commercials are great during the Olympics! There were several good ones, but we liked the Bell one with the baton passing through all the sports, the RBC one where the muffin man builds an empire, and of course, Nike "Courage".3. Watching Simon in the last 800m of the triathlon. Wait a 2000, Maia was a tiny baby and I watched Simon do the same thing in Sydney and grab the Gold. Eight years later he does it again and she'll remember his wicked kick this time! 4. Every time any Canadian won a medal or even got close. Maia cheered so hard for all the Canadians.5. The almost insane clockwork quality to the logistics. Matching rain coats at the outdoor volleyball venue when the typhoon blew through. I swear it was part of the planning. How could everybody have the same pastel blue, yellow and green raincoats and umbrellas that matched the venue so perfectly? This was just one small example of the almost robotic perfection of the games.Yes, it was a fun two weeks. Despite the controversies and conspiracy theories, the hypocrisy and the commercialization that now comes with high performance sports, some things remain constant about the Olympics and the quest for personal best. I saw it when I was 9, I attempted to attain it when I was 26 and 30 and 34, and I still love it now. I actually don't know what it is called, besides life. Lucy[...]




Mount Munson, Penticton

Almost Back to Normal

At least I can run around with the kids now, as seen in this photo taken on our family trip and LifeSport triathlon camp in Penticton. That's Ross, flying down the gravel beside me. At this point, I can see that I will be back training by the end of August, just in time year!

10 Minutes of Running for Joy x 4

I remember doing a half Ironman about 2 years after Maia was born, and all I can remember from that run was that I was running without pain. I was so noticably pain free that it was all I could think about. I had spent a year recovering from back and pelvis pain, so just to be running was something to be happy about.

Right now I am up to 10 min run intervals with 2 min of walking, and while things are not perfect with my knee, running for 10 minutes feels pretty good, and the funny thing is...that the two minutes of walking are not bad either. I can look around, breathe, relax and appreciate the surroundings.




Slow Bikes and Fast Bum Shorts The Most Useful Birthday Present EVERThis is my prized purple Mongoose. Lance gave it to me. Lance has given me many useful gifts over the years, many that I still have and use all the time, like my first set of nice Lagostina cooking pots. Lance gave me this bike for Christmas in about 1994. I think he sold his first carbon fibre bike frame in order to buy it for me and I clearly remember how he surprised me by hauling it onto our king sized water bed on Christmas morning. I think that at the time, Lance figured we might get some mountain biking in, but I don't think he could have foreseen just how useful this bike would be.I have probably logged more miles on this bike than any other bike I have ever owned. This would be owing partly to the fact that I've owned this bike longer than any other bike, and unlike my sponsored Cervelo and Orbea racing bikes, you just don't replace your beater bike every year; then it wouldn't be the beater bike.It's an ordinary old 35 pound mountain bike with great heavy fenders and a cool bell. I can tow kids on it, and I can ride it in the rain, and I can tool around town with it. I can hop on and off trails, and I can ride it to school with Maia (though she really hates it when I show up in my spandex and colourful jerseys. "Why can't you dress normal, like the other mums?"). I rode it when I was pregnant because I could stay safely on bike paths, and I used it post childbirth as the position is easy on my back. It doesn't get flats and although they are getting old now, it has enough gears to get me up and down hills without too much stress.Today I rode my 35 pound beast for one whole hour and forty five minutes. My longest ride since Ironman Canada last summer. My purple Mongoose is now the Official Bike of my Knee Injury Rehabilitation, and until I can ride several 2hour pain free rides, I won't even think of getting on my carbon fibre Orbea. If I get on my road bike, then likely I will feel too much like an athlete again, and will try to train, instead of the spinning and strength therapy that riding is fulfilling right now.Back when I was a 3000m runner I used to train with a woman who fluctuated wildly between being one of the fastest runners in the world, and so injured she would get fantastically out of shape. We always knew she was back in racing shape when her racing suits came out of storage. We called our skimpy little racing shorts 'bum shorts' and for the information of the bikini wearing triathlon masses, track and field athletes have been competing in public in bathing suits for years.I realize I feel the same way about my mountain bikeI can ride incognito on my mountain bike; meaning other road cyclists don't feel they have to compete with me, as all they see is this nerdy purple bike with a 40 year old woman motoring along. I am left in peace to ride and enjoy the scenery, concentrate on form and getting my leg better. So far so good.Lucy[...]



What Exactly is a Tomboy: Have You Ever Thought About It?by Lucy SmithCopied from the May 2008 Issue of Island Parent Magazine.When I was a child I was called a tomboy. I remember processing it as a compliment, not a taunt, and took it as praise for being athletic, a fast runner, interested more in the outdoors than talking about dolls and boys. I was naturally athletic and I loved competition. I ran and played soccer and basketball at school. I sailed all summer, loved camping, hiking, rock climbing and back country skiing: anything that tested my physical limits. I took pride in being brave and fearless and tough. As the third and youngest child in an active family, I no doubt got positive feedback for having an independent attitude, and early success in sports only served to encourage my athletic interests. I had boys that were good friends, and all through high school had more boys that were ‘chums’ than boyfriends.As a child, I felt happy identifying as a ‘tomboy’, and during my adolescence, I believe my athletic abilities gave me inner strength to weather the high school scene. As I became a young woman, however, I gradually came to wonder how the boyish label fit with being a girl: I also liked nice clothes and shoes and had heartbreaking crushes on countless boys. I home permed my hair (with disastrous results) in grade 12, experimented with make-up, and stared at fashion magazines, all the while training for the Provincial Track and Field Championships.By the time I had reached University and my first women’s studies classes, I had outgrown the tomboy label and was a bona fide elite athlete, starring as a distance runner at University and going on to travel the world competing on national teams. At 23, I knew I wanted to be an Olympian and carve out a career as a professional athlete. I had forgotten all about the word tomboy, until I got to that inevitable crossroads in early adult life, where I had moved away from home and was trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted from my life.Over the next few years as I became aware of the forces of sexism in our culture, it slowly dawned on me that tomboy was a strange sort of expression to apply to girls. Why would we label an active girl to be ‘sort of’ male? It seemed a little confusing to me, as the messages that I saw around me, mainly through the media, seemed to suggest that being a girl and a woman, had a lot more to do with choosing the right eye shadow and preparing for the perfect dream wedding. Tomboy seemed to be a good thing when I was little; now that I was growing up into a woman, what was I?For a while in my late twenties I lived in Paris, racing as a professional triathlete on a French women’s triathlon team, but still mainly training with, and hanging out with male athletes, as women professionals were pretty scarce. While I loved the adventure of being in Europe, nothing could have felt more glaringly odd to me as a young woman than being a female athlete in the city of breasts, fashion and fragrance. I looked around at the billboards displaying airbrushed photographs of women without muscles, wrinkles or body hair. I knew that no amount of cream would melt fat or cellulite. I decided that someone was delusional, and it wasn’t me.Like a lot of women born after the start of the feminist movement I had learned to be wary of media images of beauty, and had learned to be a critical reader and observer of popular culture. Nevertheless it was hard to be an athlete and a young woman and to never, ever see myself reflected in those popular images around me. I didn’t know what to think for many years. I felt so strongly that I needed to reject the ‘girly girl’ image that seemed so false (and dangerous, as I noticed eating disorders, low self esteem and disempowerment) that in a very concrete way, I was rejecting the ‘buy in’ to the culture of beauty that I felt was so demeaning to women be[...]



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I might be injured but that doesn't mean that life is dull. (Life is never dull with kids around). This little push bike is built for a three year old to learn how to ride, but that doesn't stop Maia from using it as a stunt bike for her after dinner shenanigans.

This one's for you Linsey!



Recovery for the soul. Build a tower of cups for a toddler.

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Well, I have finally figured out how I can lead the Times Colonist 10k. Yes, I have won the race 6 times, but as the women's leader, I am still usually buried about 20th overall, behind the first elite men. This year I am participating in the TC10k as an honorary Ambassador and I will be the lead bike. I have had a persistent calf injury since January, and this one has been a doozy. I have been fortunate in my career and had very few major injuries. I had one when I was 22 which required surgery from which I successfully recovered. One in my last year at Dalhousie, which put me out for the entire summer season, but gave me a chance to rest after four intense years of university running--I moved to the west coast, lived on Salt Spring ran a sailing school. My next major injury wasn't until 1999, when I was 32. During the rest I got pregnant and gave birth to Maia. Becoming a mother was joyfully life changing: the best thing that ever happened. It also put me out of competition for a total of 2years, after which I was determined to take care of myself and stay injury free for the remainder of my career. I had to make a transition to balancing motherhood and high performance ever since Maia was born, and in 2005 when Ross came along and I was 38 years old, I have know that my elite competing days are coming to an end. And that is why I was so surprised that I let myself get injured this January.So, why did this injury happen? I don't actually know why, none of us ever really know exactly when or how we get injured through over training: in my case it was combination of getting busy and cutting down on yoga and stretching, doing too much running and not enough cycling, and swimming. Getting older? Not being mindful? The back country ski weekend in Lake Louise? Eating too much chocolate? Who knows. I haven't been able to run. I love running so this has been a bit of a drag. My sister sent me a research article on how scientists have now proven that runner's high is real. Don't I know it! With two kids, there is nothing like a run in the woods to make me feel all right! My swimming is going OK now, but I don't get the same euphoria from following a black line in the bottom of the pool.One thing that I do know, and I have been working on this for my whole career, is that while I have been a runner for most of my life, a runner is not who I am. I am the person that showed up at practice ready, I am the person who executed races to the best of my ability, I am the person that found joy in every step along the way. While I identified as a runner when I was younger, now I understand that running is something that I do. When it is taken away from me, either through injury or time constraints (both kids are sick!), I am not a lesser person. I can still be me inside, still be happy and feel peace. I would like to be running right now, I would like to have runner's high every day and feel my legs moving effortlessly, but I am not, and in this moment there is something else to do and to pay attention to. I'll be back and running again soon, but in the meantime I sense the end of a great story and a new one that will begin soon. And I have that TC10k race to lead!Lucy[...]



Dancing While Juggling

I stole this title from another article I wrote about finding a sense of balance in your life when you have lots on the go. 'Having lots of balls in the air' is a common expression you hear, but to me, it has an underlying anxiety to it, as at any time, one of the those balls might drop. So, when I hear than someone is juggling career, parenting, and a passion for training for the marathon or Ironman, it sounds like they are stretched, hopping from one activity to the other without a pause for breath. Determined to keep all the balls afloat no matter what. But oops! They are forgetting to breathe! The focus on keeping all those balls up, means the thought pattern is: better not drop one!

Wouldn't it be great if we could keep all those balls up there, and be thinking only: Isn't this awesome; I love the way these balls keep spinning around!

So I wrote the orginal article, pointing out how, with a few strategies and insights about yourself, it was possible to feeling like you are dancing with your passions, gracefully and energetically, and fully present to the moment. So that when you need to train, your gear is ready, you have a plan to follow, and you are free to enjoy all the moments you are training. When you are with your kids or loved ones, you are fully present with them, giving them the attention and authentic love that they need.

There are times when I really have felt that my life is a dance, usually something like Swing, and occasionally hip hop. I feel organized and on top of things like childcare and schedules, training and racing goals. But here's the reality. Everything is always changing (including my hormones) and I'll be honest that occasionally, it all feels nuts. Something happens and the dancing gets into a kind of crazy tempo, and suddenly I am juggling it all again, desperately trying to keep all the balls in the air. I know that motherhood requires juggling...the soccer, the lunches, the play-dates, the homework, quality time for self and others...but throw training goals in there, and it's a tough dance to master.

I don't know about you, but I don't like feeling maxxed out. I like having a full life, and I will always have passions like triathlon that I want to experience at a high level, but I'm not crazy about stress or anxiety. Anxiety is the little inner voice, always full of drama, that wants some attention. As soon as you wobble on one of those balls, it sees the opportunity to pounce. "HA!" It says, "You might drop that!"

So, what I have found in this imperfectly perfect path that is life, is that sometimes I will feel like I am juggling. One of the kids gets sick, or I lose a valuable babysitter so have less time to train. Maybe it's a ball that changes: an injury that throws me off my plans and mission for a while. when the tempo of the dance changes, I work on accepting the new dance. Anf guess what? The new dance is a good one too!

I have discovered that I can juggle and still carry on the dance, and that is progress!




winning a $1, 000 000 at the Sole Sister's ClinicHeading out with a Smile on Your Face!Lately, I've been doing my rounds of the spring running clinics that are held all over Victoria in preparation for the Times Colonist 10k which is held in late April. I love talking at the clinics and watching people's faces light up with understanding when I talk about pre-race anxiety, or finding time to train, or making the most of what little time you have. The run leaders often ask me to come and 'inspire' their runners, to talk about my life in sport, and how I balance training with 2 kids, but what they don't realize is that I always leave inspired myself, and energized by the runners and their new passion for running. They ask me questions about things I take for granted what cross training to do, or how to find the right shoe, what to eat before a race, or whether to drink water in a 10k.Last week I visited the 'Sole Sisters', a clinic run by Mena, the Energizer Bunny herself, a woman with a past career in professional figure skating, fitness training and coaching, and a present career in Saanich Recreation, as well as mother of 4 boys (1,4,6 and 8!). I went to Mena's clinic two years ago, in the late stages of pregnancy with Ross. I had a ball at her clinic, and remembered some antics she had dreamed up, getting me to 'win' a race in front of her clinic runners.I showed up at Colquitz School gym, and witnessed the 'signing in' of 70 participants, and noted that several women were wearing sparkly dollar store tiaras and everybody was smiling or laughing. After a brief (and note: the only) silent moment in the evening, in which Mena sat on a chair and led the women in a relaxation excercise while new age music played on the audio system (yes, this clinic had it's own dj--and musicians, I was to find out later), Mena proceeded to hand out draw prizes to diligent participants. It still wasn't my turn.Then, the women had to take a pop quiz on terms and running terminology covered in previous weeks. Things like R.I.C.E. and then one that was even new to me: B.R.A. Take a guess. Bounce Reduction Apparatus. I almost fell of the bench laughing! But that's not all. Mena then proceeded to sing a song to the tune of Mama Mia, about the perils of not wearing the right running bra, while performing a crazy skit that required her to wear about 8 layers of ineffective apparatus. By this point, I had fallen off my bench.OK, then it was my turn, and how could I not have a great time when everybody was already smiling and relaxed. I talked about finding that fun in sport, about using your time wisely and well, about setting goals that are truly meaningful and then surrounding yourself with people who will help make your dreams come alive.I was reminded of a really powerful message as I finished up my talk Mena's clinic, and that was the power of having a great attitude. That, expecting to have a positive experience is a big part of training and racing. I think that sometimes we wait until the end of the race or training session to feel good about ourselves. Starting out with a smile is just as important.I watched those women head out of the gym for the training run, laughing and chatting, big smiles on their faces, and I thought to myself: those women get it!About the music: after I had given my talk, Mena made me put on a number bib (in this case, a baby 'bib') and asked me to run a lap around the gym pretending to win the Times Colonist race so people could see what I do when I win. Always game for a bit of fun, I complied. Soon, I was running around the gym to the music of 'Chariots of Fire' being played on trumpets by two women! After, I 'won' a cheque for a million dollars. If I had a penny for every time this running life has made me smile, I would be a mill[...]



Run For Joy: 10 ways to energize your life and sport.1. At the start of the season write down your goals. Write down what you want to achieve, not what you think you should do. This is important to ponder. If your goals do not line up with what you really want, then you will be far less committed than if you embrace your true desire. If you sign up for Ironman because your buddies did, but you really want to test yourself over short course, those long rides are going to seem endless and even pointless.2. Once you have your goals written down (and you should write them down) then you need to look at your priorities in life and decide whether your goals match your priorities. I have coached several people to Ironman who were clear about it being a 12-month commitment that they had worked out with their families. If you have chosen Ironman, yet you know you will only be able to train on a very limited basis for the distance, it is worth adjusting your outcome goals to match this. If your priorities do not line up with your goals, then you will be frustrated and grumpy about your progress. It is ultimately more enjoyable to be fully emotionally present at your daughter’s Saturday afternoon soccer game than to be worried about the training miles that you aren’t getting in.3. Decide to be flexible and adopt an easy-going attitude about your sport. Plan for your goals to happen by setting short-term goals, a training schedule, or at least a weekly plan that includes time that you can train. Having a personal coach and finding workout partners are great ways to make your training happen and to make the most of limited time. At the same time, busy people with demanding jobs and especially parents with small children, need to be flexible with their lives. Being able to accept that your children are sick and need you, or that you have to travel to a business meeting is an easier task if your priorities are clear and you know that over the long haul, you are being consistent with your training.4. Be consistent about sleep. For instance, if you have an infant, or do shift work, you likely do not get enough sleep, so you need to make the most of the sleep that you get. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time on a regular basis will ensure you are as rested as you can be. Be aware of the things that will interfere with a good sleep too: alcohol, caffeine and chocolate in the evening, though they may be part of your daily treat schedule, can detract from a good rest.5. Understand your energy patterns and organize your day and train accordingly. Most of us have energy highs and lows in the day, parts of the day where we feel most alert and energized and those where we just want to take a nap. If you can, schedule your training around the times when you feel you are at your best, especially if you do only one workout a day. If you routinely train at night and have trouble getting to sleep, change your workout time and notice how it affects your training and your sleep patterns. Getting into a working routine with your sleep and your physical activity is part of optimal training.6. Go out and play. Participation in sport is playtime: adult fun in a life of responsibility, jobs, mortgages, and other such seriousness. Be one of the athletes who have tapped into their inner strength—competing with a sense of happiness as well as determination is how you perform at your best.7. Eat well and stay hydrated. Learn as much as you can about good sports nutrition, including what to eat and when, and what proportion of your caloric intake should be protein, carbohydrates and fats. Without being obsessive with your diet, make choices that feed your body and your soul, providing you with adequate energy to support your active lifestyle. Instead [...]



Memories of Yokohama 2004(first appeared in Her Sports 09/04)From the moment my daughter was born, my priorities in life have gradually shifted. As an elite athlete balancing my life’s joys of running and parenting, I have to choose where to put my valuable energy resources. I stress less about various trivial details, while other broader issues have come more into focus. I have been fascinated by the paradox of athlete/motherhood: how to take care of my own needs and commitment to being in top form while at the same time feeling an organic compulsion to give up everything for the adorable child that I love so much. I don’t know if it’s motherhood, maturity or a combination of both, but when I travel to races these days, it is a with a real sense of consciousness and purpose.It was serendipitous that an e-mail asking me to be a part of a National Team for the Yokohama Women’s Ekiden came across my desk. At the time, I was only four weeks into the new year of training: the tiring volume period of endurance running, and getting back into the swing of balancing my active three year old with my own training schedule. The chance to go alone to race in Japan, to stay in a luxury hotel, to train, write, walk, stretch, practice yoga and just “be” was just what I wanted. I said yes, and took care of the important childcare details afterwards, knowing that my husband loves to be the “go-to” guy when I am on the road.The Ekiden is a road-racing format run frequently in Japan, and not so frequently elsewhere in the world. Ekiden means "relay”, and a team of six runners race between 5 and 10k in a leg to complete the marathon distance (42.2km). Runners pass a brightly coloured sash or “tasuki”, which loosely translated means "circle of friendship". I have been racing Ekidens on Canadian teams since my early days of international competition over fifteen years ago and the event is a special one, where runners from across the country are invited to be team-mates and to race together overseas. Being a relay there is a sense of shared responsibility and teamwork not found in other solo running events and there is the added opportunity to adapt and learn while preparing for personal excellence in an unfamiliar environment.In Yokohama, we stayed at the Yokohama Intercontinental. Shaped like a wedge of Gouda, and with eight bars and restaurants, we were not roughing it at this race. The hotel is in the modern neighbourhood of Minato-mirai 21 (ports + future). The area is anchored by the solid and soaring Landmark tower, the hotel, and adjacent to that, the enormous Cosmic Clock 21, a sky high Ferris wheel that takes fifteen minutes for one revolution and goes around so gently that it doesn’t even stop to let passengers in out of the gondolas: the doors open and people just hop out onto the platform and several seconds later new passengers hop in.On my first morning in Yokohama, I woke at 5AM and forced myself to lie in bed for another hour before making some green tea and stretching. When it was light enough I eagerly headed out for my run. I had stayed in this same hotel for the Ekiden in 1998, before Maia was born, and being a sentimental person, I love to revisit places from a different time of my life. Since arriving at the hotel I had felt in a fog of déjà vu, as if someone had erased some of my memory but not all of it. This memory lapse could be due to that childbirth phenomenon, although jet lag could account for some of it too. I did remember that to get to Yamashita Park, the compact park where we train, we used to have to thread our way through a construction zone, old warehouse sites, past chain link fences and across vacant lots besides the bay. Since my last trip an amazing trans[...]



I have just finished reading No Shortcuts to the Top; Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks by the American climber Ed Viesturs. I love climbing books. I'm not sure what the pull is as I am not a big mountain climber. I have tackled huge physical and mental challenges in my life, but none of them put me out of reach of the daily lifeline like high altitude climbing does. I'm fascinated by the all consuming passion to get to the top, the drive, teamwork and organization that defines an expedition and the dreams that are fulfilled literally one step at a time.As an athlete, and as one who has been pursuing dreams and goals for over 20 years, I relate to the all consuming passion to climb, for while I have never been the most obsessed runner out there, my life has been running and training for almost as long as I can remember. When I hit 40 last April, I thought that maybe some magic age-related psychology would kick in and that I would start to feel less passion. Maybe I could kick back a bit, eat more potato chips and drink more wine. All that happened is that as time has gone by, and as my children Maia and Ross have appeared and added a dimension to my life that didn't exist before, old dreams have faded into becoming a part of my history. Whereas there was a time that I obsessed about making the Olympics, I now understand that this one goal will not happen and I have gently let it go. So now, at 40, I took a month off after New York City Marathon and was soon training again, building a foundation for another year of racing.As an elite athlete, the pursuit of high performance racing goals has to naturally run it's course. While I still won races outright in 2007, this year, I have my sights set on not only crossing the finish line first, but having some fun competing within the masters category in which I now find myself. Some athletes find the desire to compete wanes once they can't run as fast as they did when they were 26, or when they stop consistently winning races. When I look forward to 2008 and consider some of the races that I can include in my calendar, I get excited. My life long dream has been to be a runner and triathlete. I embraced fitness, health, racing and goal setting at a very early age and most of the decisions in my life revolved around these passions. Fortunately, running and triathlon have no age date on them. Competitive spirit and goal orientedness are character defining attributes, and ones that probably become more refined as we mature. I lived my dream yesterday when I went for a 30 minute easy run along Lochside Trail in the pouring rain. I lived my dream when I took off for an hour into the canyon behind the resort in Mexico where I was vacationing with my family. I ran along dusty tracks where huge green cactus sprouted up around me and Vultures soared overhead on their vast black wings. As I ran to the top of one hill I felt compelled to stop for a moment and look back to the ocean that stretched fuzzy and blue far in the distance. I could feel the heat and the dry air and, because I had stopped, I saw the most amazing insect with iridescent blue-turquoise wings and curly black antennae. Taking a deep breath, that moment defined my life as a runner at least as much as the Olympic Trials in 2004.While many dreams are tangible and linked to specific goals, like climbing Everest or competing in Hawaii Ironman, dreams are also the way we have chosen to live our most fulfilling lives. The dream IS the joy of doing what you love everyday and finding personal meaning there.Lucy[...]



Travel Notes: We all have stories. This is from Athens 2004.

I arrived at the airport in Athens jet lagged and dazed after the long flights from Victoria, Toronto and Montreal. My luggage was predictably lost in the exchange from Toronto’s Terminal 1 to 3, after a delay from Victoria and a switch to the Greek Olympic Airways. After the usual rigmarole to report lost baggage, made slightly more difficult with the language barrier (my rudimentary knowledge of French and German was to be of little use deciphering Greek), I left the arrival hall empty handed and joined Lance in the airport. I was officially in Athens, on holiday, reunited with my husband and a spectator at the Olympic Games. Jet lag and lost luggage were not a problem. The sun was hot, the sky was blue, and I was on vacation for the next eight days. I was not racing, which was poignantly clear in my complete freedom from anxiety about my luggage, my accommodation, my hydration or my feelings of fatigue. I was dazed and happy.

My first impressions were not all what I expected. I saw evidence of the Olympics as we drove towards Vouliagmeni, the triathlon venue and place we were staying. The roads were all freshly paved and black and there was a fast Olympic lane to drive in, the surrounding environment was dry, dusty and sparsely vegetated with shrubby silvery green leaved trees (olives). Everywhere was evidence of rubble, the whitish rock that is the foundation of Greece. The road led between storefronts and empty buildings, car dealerships and firewood stores, and everywhere lay the empty shells of half built abandoned structures. Almost every second building was unfinished, as if ambition to build, to start, was all that mattered. Concrete shells of two and three story buildings were littered everywhere, like a bombed out landscape, although these were merely abandoned starts, not fallen down rubble. It was hard to fathom the feeling of looking at all these ugly skeletons of houses, why they are allowed to exist and why people are allowed to abandon such projects, leaving eyesores littered along the streets and over the arid but beautiful Mediterranean hills. As the week progressed and this empty building phenomena became a discussion point, the theory emerged that there was some tax break in starting new house projects, so developers started buildings that they never had any intention of finishing, and also that the huge rush to complete Olympic venues created a massive shortage of builders and tradesman for regular projects. Whatever the reason, the appearance that these buildings gave the area surrounding Athens was a constant source of bewilderment to Canadians I was traveling with.


From time to time, I will post excerpts from my extensive travelling journals.



Today it is two weeks since I ran the New York City Marathon. To mark the occasion I went for a 20 minute unscheduled run. I ran just as it was getting dark, a bright wedge of moon slung in the sky, and I felt great. It's been a good rest. I didn't do much but walk and a few pool runs for a whole week, then I gradually started running a bit this week, keeping it very light and very short.
I don't think Lance figures I can last more that about two weeks without running or training anyway. He almost fell off the sofa when I said I was going to take a big break after NYC. "That'll last about 2 weeks"' he laughed.
But I am not going to launch into full training tomorrow. I am going to be clever and take my downtime from training and racing. It is definitely something I have had to practice. Resting while I was pregnant was easy, but resting for the sake of resting has taken some work. I'm very good at hanging up the bike and extremely good and letting the bathing suit dry out, but stopping running? That just feels plain unnatural.
I won't race for a while and in another couple of weeks, I will start building into longer endurance runs and increasing my volume. I was talking to a young athlete in the triathlon development squad and he mentioned, with a big smile, how excited he was for next season. I thought that was great. Even though the excitement was not focussed at any one race, he felt hopeful and positive about racing after a winter of training.
Sometimes unfocussed enthusiasm and joy for what you do is important. That's why I went and ran tonight. Not because I was training for anything in particular, but because I wasn't training for anything in particular. It's great to have a part of the season where individual training sessions don't mean much, where you go run in an unstructured way (sometimes I leap up steep hills because it's fun, or break into sudden fast strides ), and just relax a bit from performance.



My New York TripI didn’t take my laptop to New York. I wanted to travel light, and to record my thoughts and observations with pen and paper, the way I started journaling my running, when I was a young girl. I wanted to pare my trip down to the essentials: my running shoes and orthotics, essential running gear, my heart open to possibilities. Faced with a lot of free time and down time (no kids, no training!) I wrote a lot over the weekend. Here are some of my reflections from new York.Thursday, November 1, 2007The TRIP is finally here, the voyage to New York has begun with the issuing of boarding passes. I’m sitting in the afternoon sunlight, in the pleasant international boarding lounge of the Vancouver Airport. I love the silence and the softness of just sitting in a boarding lounge, waiting for the departure to new places. Even before I had children and life became so much more than my own path, I liked leaving for trips.I have always loved the adventure of travelling and a life in sport has afforded me many such adventures. I chose sport because I was well suited to the training and attention to optimum health, the time spent outdoors and the competition. Life in high performance also means travelling and hotel rooms and strange food and cities. I have come to understand the layers now: that I love the challenge of having to arrive at a starting line many time zones away, and be prepared and ready to execute a perfect race or as near to perfect a performance as I can. In my career I can honestly say that I have enjoyed and felt grateful for the privilege that my hard work has given me; the chance to race as an elite athlete, the bonus of hotel rooms and flights to new cities, the opportunity to toe the front of the line.One day I will miss the racing at the elite level, and can already appreciate the richness that it has brought to my life.I said good bye to the children this morning, already missing them and already looking forward to my time to be a professional. The irreconcilable emotions of motherhood.Friday, November 9, 2007The lobby of the Hilton is like Grand Central Station: huge and noisy. It is a circular room, and lined with rose coloured marble. It is busy and bustling and not cold at all. People are friendly here in New York this time, maybe excited, like I am for the start of the marathon. Walking across the Avenue of the Americas, someone holds the door of Starbucks open for me, people make small talk in the elevator. My room is on the 39th floor and from my room I can clearly hear the continuous intermittent honking of horns, the rush of traffic, the sirens, the blasting whistle of the bellman as he calls in a never ending demand for taxis. When I look down I see the tops of yellow cabs, stuck at intersections, moving right and left again. It’s all fabulous. it's a world away from my home in Victoria, where all we here is the wind. It’s New York.I am being treated very well. The New York Road Runners are adept and practiced at putting on events and taking care of elite athletes. The best in the world come to race here and to win, and all their needs are anticipated. Before I even raced, I was given gifts. A shoulder bag filled with goodies that I shall cherish, inlcuding an engraved pen from Tiffanies. You’d think that by now I wouldn’t care so much about getting race gear, but I still like it!In the elevator (and I’m in there for a few moments as it rised from the Lobby to the 39th floor), there is a small television screen playing an endless loop of the ING promotional video of the marathon. They have a runner’s eye view of the marathon course, speeded[...]



Coming Down from the Runner's High

Well, that was pretty much the most fun I have ever had racing. It was definitely my most fun marathon experience even if it wasn't the fastest. I will have much more to say over the next few days but for now, here are the highlights of my weekend in Manhattan.

1. Riding the bus to the start with a police escort and seeing the Statue of Liberty standing way out in the bay.

2. All the helicopters and motorbikes and fire trucks everywhere. It seemed like every police officer and firefighter in the city was there.

3. Seeing Lance Armstrong's black SUV parked in the elite area and thinking about making funny faces in the tinted windows.

4. Starting on that massive bridge with really really loud music!

5. The music all along the course. All types. Loud and fun.

6. The masses of people everywhere, especially 1st Ave. and Central Park.

7. Running the bridges.

8. Hearing someone call me by my first name and seeing Peter Reid in the crowd at mile 14.

9. Then seeing Malaika!

10. Having the elite men's motorcade catch me from behind and feeling like I was running from the cops. Then watching these incredibly beautiful runners bound by effortlessly.

11. Running the last 2 miles on air in Central Park.

12. The last 400 yards!

13. The elated, bright and joyous feeling I got at the finish. I was moved and overcome with a feeling of life. I wanted to run those last 2 miles again.

14. The feeling of wonder, that at 40, I can still have this passion about running!




Ready for New York City Starting the run at Ironman Canada 2007. That was hard!It's been about ten years since I ran my last stand alone marathon. Over the course of five years in the early 90's I ran six marathons, posting a personal best at California International way back in 1992. When I was a young runner, in my teens, I remember thinking that I would run a marathon before I turned 24, so I guess that's why I did my first one in 1992: I was already a year overdue. There's something about having a firm conviction about what you want to do and finding a way to make it a reality.Since that day in Sacremento, a lot has happened. (For one, when I went back in '94, my boyfriend proposed in the hotel room. That was Lance and that's another story). I turned away from marathons in '96, finding that my body couldn't handle the mileage required of world class marathoners, focusing instead on the wonderful intensity of cross country, the 5 and 10km events, and eventually discovered triathlon as a way to satisfy my desired lifestyle of combining being outdoors, competing at endurance events and cross training. In the last seven years I have raced three Ironmans and have given birth naturally to two children: at each of these events I swore at the time it was the hardest thing I have ever done. (In the moments after each of the first of these events I swore I would never do another--birth or Ironman). Some things just make you tougher.So, at the beginning of this year, the year I turned 40, I got it in my brain that I was going to do another marathon. I knew it would have to be a fall marathon, after Ironman training was stashed away as foundation. I considered the Royal Victoria in my home town, but then as fate would have it, when I went to race at Freihofers 5k in June, I was invited back to New York for the marathon. Once the seed was planted there was no turning back in my mind. I had to do New York. In my long career, it was imperative to do New York, and to do it this year. I said yes.I now I find myself staring down the last few days before this famous race. Soon I will be boarding a plane and flying from Victoria to JFK, will be making a room at the Hilton my race headquarters for a few nights, I will be hydrating and stretching and thinking about calories, what to wear and reviewing my pace plan.Right now I feel excited and yet calm and intensely alive. I'm ready and I'm strongly aware of the poignancy of the occasion--my high performance career is winding down, maybe not with this race, but soon. I feel honoured to be heading out for this famous event that runs through 5 boroughs of the big apple city (I can't wait to hear the Gospel singes in Harlem!). I'm curious to put my endurance to the test--how will I feel now that I have raced those gruelling Ironman events where the discomfort goes on for hours? I have run so many more half marathons, good ones, and my training is light years smarter than it was in '92. After all those early years of being anxious and nervous, of being worried about being good enough, the gifts that time has given me--the gifts of family and marriage and perspective--are with me now. I am going into this race clear headed and with a strong sense of joy. I can't wait. I've never felt more like a runner than at this moment and I know I'm tough enough!Lucy [...]



Cultivating a Calm and Joyful Mind

After twenty years in sport, I have a pretty good understanding of what physiological markers I need to reach in training in order to achieve certain goals in competition. I have never yet tired of the relentless pursuit of the perfect race, nor the simple act of putting on my shoes and going for a run in the woods. My life has changed immensely in the last seven years through the birth of my two children, and parenting has rewarded me with personal challenges outside sport beyond what I ever could have imagined.

What I love to work on now is the rewarding process of becoming an astute and balanced person while continually entering the high stress playing fields of competition. I practice cultivating a continuous calm and joyful mindset, a psychological state that is like happiness and contentment with the current moment, but is also manifest in a mental clarity that creates a stillness whether things are going really well, or very poorly. I’ve been through all the intense ups and downs of sport so many times I find solace in being able to remain confident and centred through everything that comes along. When things go wrong, I feel disappointment and then I move on. When I experience a win (or a 4th, as in my most recent World Duathlon Championships Result in Virginia), I smiled and laughed with the locals, then came home to my family in Victoria and resumed taking Maia to soccer, and watching planes with son Ross, equally important events in my life.

So, a good portion of my training energy is devoted to cultivating the kind of mindset that makes me feel good. How do I cultivate this feeling, this confidence? I use my time well. When I am training, I make a commitment to myself to put my best effort into each day, no matter how tired I am, or what has happened in my personal life. I contemplate how I feel when things are going well and the positive thoughts and attitude I have about myself, the world and my training. I work on eliminating negative self-talk, self- defeating behaviour and actions that sabotage success.

I like the discipline of training my body and my mind, of practicing how I am going to be confident and joyful on race day. The more I practice being confident in training sessions, the more easily that mind-ease surfaces on race day. I like getting to races ready to perform. I expect to be nervous before major competitions as this means that deep down, I care about what I do, but with my well of calm at my centre, the nervousness never becomes debilitating. I work to be free of worry and anxiety, to be able to focus on the process of running well. This practice serves me well, as when I arrive at a big event where the athletic stakes are higher, like a world championships, I have the comfort of knowing that all the strength and courage I need are right there in my soul.




Athletes and Artists: Not So Different!

I just came across another blog--this one about art and being creative. It's called Sixty Minute Artist, and the author has 4 kids and a full time job and needed to find a way to do art to stop himself from going crazy. So he finds sixty minutes each day to make progress on a painting.

hmmmm. Sounds like some other people I know. People who need to train each day to feel normal. hmmmm. Sounds like me.

So I read his latest post and it's about how to be a successful artist. This piqued my interest because I have always believed that there are similarities between athletes and artists and writers (and probably dancers, musicians, environmentalists and a whole lot of other similar people who have a passion for something.

He mentions that there are 3 things that make a successful artist.

1. Curiosity 2. Commitment 3. Good work habits

Now I am smiling. When I gave my Run For Joy talk at the marathon, I spoke about the many things I feel have been a huge part of my success and how we can all find personal success if we know what we are looking for. My top three were:

1. Overcoming personal barriers. 2. Commitment and dedication. 3. Creating joyful opportunities in racing and training.

My 2 is the same as his 2 and my 1 is the same as his 3. I would even say that my 3 is very close to his 1. Just a different way of saying it.

Curiosity, though. I like that word. It has got me thinking!




"What to do with an old box, Idea #546": Make an Alien helmet. (unkl Dan photo)What does this have to do with anything? The box started life holding the vase that I won for coming first in the Royal Victoria Half Marathon this last weekend. The kid inside is my son Ross. The cool alien helmet was made by his big sister Maia. This photo exemplifies how I balance my athletic professional life with my family.In case anyone is wondering how I do it, here is the short version. I left the house at 6:30 am on Sunday morning. Ross was already up, and I left him with Janet, our super-sitter, reassuring him with the usual "mummy is going for a run." That always works. It was sort of late for a 7:30 start, but this is my home town and I was pretty sure I knew where to park even on race morning. I love the drive down Blanshard before a race. I get on the highway at Royal Oak, favourite music turned up loud and pretty soon I can tell the other runners' cars: caps, running jackets, people with Ironman Canada stickers on their back windshields. It's like the pre-race rally. I nailed my parking spot, 3 blocks from the Empress.I was already sure I was going to have a great race. I am not exactly sure why this is so, except that I have never NOT had a great race in the city, and after years of practicing race preparation, my body just seems to go on positive thinking auto pilot on race morning.Nevertheless I was a little nervous. I was a little nervous because I had set myself up with some extrinsic goals on top of my usual run out of sheer joy and fun attitude. I want to break my course record, and I had publicly stated that I want to break that Canadian Masters record. I want to win (I always want to win, I admit. I have felt this way since I was 5 and it just doesn't go away, even though I am 40, have kids and should know better).I was nervous, because I had a pretty strange week as far as preparing for a race goes. After three easy and moderate weeks post Ironman Canada, I built into two very strong weeks of training, and felt awesome. At the end of that 2 weeks I performed an excellent training session consisting of a 2 and a half hour run with 80 minutes of strong tempo in the latter half of the run. I had to really commit to that run. It was hard but I was determined to make it happen. I was tired for a week after that training block and had to modify most of my sessions leading into the Half Marathon.I had a busy week with the kids too, with Lance away at the Hawaii Ironman (catch his commentary on They don't sleep well when he first goes away, and with soccer, swimming and everything else I was in full on kid mode most of the time.In fact, I took the last 4 days before Sunday so easy that I knew I would be OK. It's one thing I know about myself, I race well when rested.Despite the weather warnings, the morning was not cold, the wind was calm and the day was perfect for running. (that changed at about 10:30am, halfway through the race for the poor marathoners).I can honestly say that after the horn sounded, I just ran. I ran as hard as I could and when it started to get uncomfortable at 11k, I told myself to be tough. With Ironman still fresh in my mind (that's 10 hours of tough and at least 5 hours of really really tough), I knew I could hurt for 40 more minutes, or 30, or 5). At one point I felt my right shoe slipping a little on my heel. "Oh rats, I thought. I didn't tighten my laces enough. Now my Achilles is hurting. What if I hav[...]



Sunday morning.

A silver green sea rolls in under the light gray sky and yellow leaves are scattered over the lawn, remnants of the first of the mild Victoria storms we get each autumn. Dark streaks of massed kelp and seaweed heave in the rolling waves and in the distance, San Juan Island is misted over.

I'm getting ready for my long run of the week, a run of over two and half hours of marathon training. It's been ten years since I trained for my last full marathon, though I have done three marathons in Ironman in this time. This distance training is tiring, more physically taxing on my body than Ironman, which is why, probably, I chose to divert my attention from marathoning back in 1996.

At 40, I feel so strongly that I must train and race this distance again. Running is my roots, it's in my blood, as they say. (Not far from the truth, as endurance running has a lot to do with blood and oxygen.)

It's tiring work, but challenging and exciting and as I run through the autumn trails, the leaves plastered to the wet earth, my mind will be calm and my thoughts will be joyful.

How many millions of steps have I run in my life?





Ironman Canada has faded into the past already. It was a wonderful weekend, an adventure of a race and a true challenge.
I knew on Richter Pass, when Lance passed me, that it wasn't my day. I usually motor up Richter Pass, but that day I was awkward and dragging. The funny thing was, it didn't get me down at all. For the first time in Ironman, I wasn't scared of the distance. I knew I could still race 180k on a tough day. It was still a great day; it's not everyday you get to race 180k on your bike. Training for and executing Ironman is the feat, as far as I am concerned and I am proud of my 2 top ten finishes there.
So, Ironman was over and I threw myself into the last remaining days of summer before Maia started grade 2. Day trips to the beach, the annual fair, camping...we had a ball.
And then during my three week recovery, I dreamed up the remainder of my season. All along I had the intention of making my 40 year a good one.

I have three more races this year, three more races in 6 weeks. A pretty aggressive schedule by any account, but I race with my heart! First I get to race a half marathon in Victoria, my home town. Nothing beats this. Next I go somewhere I never have gone before--Richmond, Virginia--for the World Long Distance Duathlon Championship. It all culminates with the race of all races, an event I dreamed of doing as youngster, the New York City Marathon! November 4th, New York City. I am in the elite women's field, we start 30 minutes ahead of the thousands. I am excited!




(image) Saanich Fair, Victoria