Tag Archives: heart disease

Running from Anxiety

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Yesterday, I ran an 8 mile progression run as part of my Boston Marathon training.  It was a windy ass day, but not too cold, so I headed out in shorts ready to get this thing done.  I started slow, I ran a 9:02, 8:59, 8:38, 8:23 and 8:11.  By that point I was feeling pretty good, but knew I wanted my last 3 miles to be epic.  At 5.25 miles I actually stopped at the local grocery store, Safeway, to pick up my prescriptions.  This was planned ahead of time, as I had worn my AltraSpire running backpack without the reservoir in it.  Went to the pharmacy, had the tech wrap everything up nicely, and plopped it in my bag.  I headed out to get the rest of the run finished.  Everything was packed nicely, but you could still hear the steady and constant shaking of the pill bottles, almost like maracas.  I ran mile 6 in 8:10, and that is when I wanted to turn it up a notch for the final 2 miles.  As the pills acted as a metronome, I pounded down South Parkside Drive and 10th Ave with all I could.  I don’t think anything could have broken my focus.  I hit mile 7 in 7:29.  I wanted to make mile 8 something special.  Hitting STOP on my watch as I hit that final mile, I saw my split was 7:24.  My progression run was a huge success!

After my stop at Safeway, I was initially bothered by the sound of the pills in my bag.  I thought it was going to drive me nuts.  But then I started thinking about those pills and how they aren’t a nuisance that should be driving me crazy.  I have been taking Escitalopram (Cipralex) and Clonazepam since 2010.  My mother, my husband and some close friends and family have been aware of this, but not a lot of others.  It is important to talk about, and on #BellLetsTalk day I figured today would be a good time to talk about it.

Escitalopram and Clonazepam are both drugs used to help with depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  I take my cipralex daily for help with anxiety, and I take the Clonazepam as needed.  I call this one my “emergency pill.”  The reason why I was put on these medications by my family doctor was due to many compounding reasons.  I have always been a bit high-strung and anxious, even if it didn’t seem like that during my high school years back in Wisconsin.  I had good marks and was involved and on the outside, very well put together.  But then, take into account my father died in 2004….I graduated university in 2007…I moved to a new country in 2008….I didn’t have a full-time job yet in 2010…I wasn’t in a great place, as I didn’t know how to handle with a lot of the stressors around me.

In early 2010 I went and started trying to talk to a counselor about the issues I had dealing with my dad’s death.  I have mentioned before in this blog that I think during my university years I kind of went through a denial stage that the whole thing happened, and just put on a tough face to hide the emotions that I had inside.  The counselor helped a bit, but we parted ways as I didn’t really see eye-to-eye with his philosophy.  With having no full-time teaching contract going into the summer of 2010, planning my December wedding, and then still having yet to fully deal with my dad’s untimely death from a few years before that, I knew I needed to talk to my doctor about options to help.

I was prescribed the two medications and have taking my daily one religiously since then.  After about a month, I could tell it was helping calm me.  I think one of the first times I took my ‘emergency pill’ was in November 2010 when I lost my passport at the Toronto airport and basically went into a ballistic crying spell.  By the time I got into the hold zone at security to try and find out if they could locate it, I had calmed down dramatically.

Since first starting the medications, I decided to try seeing a counsellor again about my issues with my dad’s passing.  I also, in 2013, started this very blog.  While the blog started as a way to remember my dad (and fundraise for heart disease research in his memory) as I trained for and ran in the 2014 Dopey Challenge during Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, it was also a coping mechanism.  The blog, the counselling, the medication….and the running….has all helped me become more of the person I want to be.

After finishing the Dopey Challenge, I could have very well ended this blog.  I used this blog to help bring awareness to my fundraising efforts.  But I realized that this blog really helped me as a person.  And after doing the Dopey Challenge, that was when I first realized that if I focused on just training for and running a full marathon I could maybe, JUST MAYBE, qualify for the Boston Marathon.

I trained for Calgary Marathon in 2014, and missed the qualifying time.  I was frustrated, mad and didn’t want to go through the training again.  But then I signed up for Edmonton, which would be in August of that same year.  Same year, same results.  I only bested my time by about a minute, and was still over 10 minutes away from the max qualifying time for my age group.  Maybe I should throw in the towel….but after thought and consideration, I registered for the 2015 Vancouver Marathon.  I regained my focus, and put my energy into following a new training plan made specifically for me.  Registering for many local races and seeing how my times were dropping were powerful and motivating; it kept me pushing.  While I had stopped seeing the counsellor by this time, running truly had become my therapy.

And if you’ve read my blog, you now know that in Vancouver I did succeed-I qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon running 20 minutes faster than my previous best marathon time, and beating my qualifying standard by just over 10 minutes.  Running had allowed me to do something I love, all while going through every possible emotion.  It pushes me to the limit, it makes me question what is possible…and it allows me time to reflect and become at peace with what is going on around me.  Running hasn’t solved everything, but it sure has helped me along the way, and without running I am not sure where I would be right now.

So, yes.  I am someone, like many, who takes a prescription daily to help deal with daily life.  I also take high doses of endorphins whenever possible, because that along with the adrenaline that racing produces has helped me heal, slowly but surely.  This isn’t something to be ashamed about, so I wanted to share it today.  You now know a little bit more about my crazy, imperfectly perfect life.

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Vancouver Marathon Race Recap Part 1….Before the Big Event

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I registered for the BMO Vancouver Marathon back in about November.  I was feeling really frustrated and defeated after my summer marathons (Calgary & Edmonton) as I didn’t come close to qualifying for Boston.  I ran 3:46.22 and 3:44.59, respectively, at both of these events….well off the qualifying standard of 3:35.00.  So when I decided to give my Boston qualifying attempt one more shot, I wanted to pick a race I hadn’t done before.  And a race that was known for being a good course for qualifying.  It was suggested to me by many people that Vancouver was the course for me.  Sea level, rolling downhills, late Spring, spectator support, large city….I registered, booked a flight, and started thinking about my training.

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I have mentioned before I had Dean Johnson create a training calendar for me.  It was a 16 week training plan, which he took into account my previous fitness achievements and levels.  Each day had set paces I needed to achieve and unique workouts.  Dean went above and beyond and updated my training plan to reflect the success I was having in half marathon and 10 km distances in late winter/early spring.  This training plan held me accountable, as I kept a log of how each workout went in a Google Doc, and it really pushed me above and beyond what I thought I was capable of. 1

So here comes May 1st.  The day I travel to Vancouver.  I was nervous, anxious, excited, scared….basically a pile of emotions.  I had been training specifically for this event for 16 weeks, but as I drove to the Calgary airport, it occurred to me that I really have been training for this since my first half marathon in May 2004.  I wrote about that half marathon here, as it was a race I ran in a daze….it was less than a week after my dad passed away unexpectantly from a heart attack.  I have been running long distances ever since.

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So this race was important.  I have been committed to running long distances for now over 11 years.  Some years were low, some have been high.  The past two years have been a steady high, with breaking personal records, getting podium at local races, and feeling like I am in the best shape of my life.  It was also low when I didn’t get that coveted Boston qualifying time.  I was out on this run to prove to myself I was worthy of running in Boston.

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The expo was held in Downtown Vancouver at the convention centre next to the Olympic torch.  I had stayed with my good friends Alex & Tim in Burnaby the night before, and they were nice enough to drop me off down at my hotel for the night, which was near the expo.  This hotel wasn’t originally in the plans, but my cousin Erin is too nice and booked me a room.  She would be staying there too!  I wandered over to the expo, and this is when I first started getting the chills….the expo was right on the water, it was a gorgeous, crisp and clear day, and the energy was high.  Packet pickup was extremely fast, and before I knew it I was on the merchandise floor.  There were not tons of vendors, but enough things to look at.  I bought a Run Van tanktop, which I know I will wear lots in the summer, and some more Nuun tabs from their vendor table.  Included in our race package (which was a drawstring backpack) was a commemorative shirt (which I really liked….a short-sleeved charcoal grey tech shirt), our race bib, and a transit ticket for the race morning.

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I ended up going back to the hotel to nap in the afternoon, as I didn’t sleep well the night before and was a bit worn from all my travelling.  Actually, before the nap I ordered pasta for lunch via room service.  Eating that in bed while watching HGTV was fantastic.  I was wide awake then when Erin and her friend Rob were ready to go get food for supper.  We went to this sweet market nearby and bought sandwiches and salads, headed to Stanley Park, and had a picnic.  The weather was gorgeous and this was a very relaxing way to spend the evening.  We were back at the hotel somewhere around 7:30, which gave me tons of time to wind down and get prepared for the big event in the morning.  I even was able to head to bed by 10 pm and slept great!  Now I just needed the following Sunday to be the best run of my life……

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Medicine Hat “Rattler Run” 10km 2015-Race Recap

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On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, I participated in the Medicine Hat College Rattler Run 10km.  This is the second time I have ran this event, the first being in 2013.  Back in 2013, I set a personal best of 48:39.  I remember being so elated at that moment of setting this time, and being able to place 1st in my division.  Since then, I have been able to bring my 10 km time down to a 43:47 at the Moonlight Run in Lethbridge this past March.  I was anxious to run this race in Medicine Hat, as I was familiar with the course, and hoping for another personal best.

This day also held importance to me going into the race as the 11th anniversary of my dad’s passing.  When I registered for the event a few weeks prior, I knew it was fitting to be running a race on this day.  I would have him in my mind all day and be running this race in memory of him.  I stated on my Facebook page the day prior to the event how the event’s motto is “I Run for Me” and to promote healthy and active lifestyles for everyone.  My dad lived a healthy and active lifestyle and was a fitness role model for myself, and while I would be running this race for ME, I was more so going to be running this race for HIM.

Medicine Hat is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from where I live in Lethbridge.  I have driven this distance before for races, usually to Calgary though, but the unique thing about this race is that the start time is 11 am.  I could sleep ‘in’ to a normal time, and still do the drive and make it to race packet pickup and warmup with plenty of time to spare.  I made it to Medicine Hat College at around 10 am.  Packet pickup was a breeze and it was of course great to see Randy and the crew from Racepro working the timing!  I also had enough time to do a good warmup, so I headed out for a 2 mile warmup at an 8:34 average pace.

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The events offered on race day were the 10 km, the 5 km and the 3 km distances.  The 10 km would begin first, with the 3 km following shortly thereafter, and finishing with the 5 km runners.  I was getting anxious at about 10 minutes prior to race start so I just milled around aimlessly outside doing skips and high knees.   When the announcer called for the 10 km runners to assemble, about 5 minutes before start, I headed right up to the front to get in good position.  I actually ended up standing next to a local runner from the Lethbridge area (Taber to be exact) Billie-Jo.  She recognized me and then I immediately recognized her.  It was great to chat before the race start and she left me with the words to “Go chase those boys!”

We were off and I headed out with the mindset of trying to get a 6:45-6:50 pace per mile.  With my interval running I had been doing lately, I knew this was possible….if I was on flat surfaces, with no hills and no wind.  I held a 1st place female position for the first mile, which took us over an overpass and onto the trail system.  The trail system is VERY curvy and lots of ups and downs!  The “Ups” were never that steep, and the “Downs” weren’t either, but there was enough of them to really get you!  At mile 1, a female runner passed me.  OK, I thought….since I was not in Lethbridge, I did not know who this runner was, so I really had no idea what she was capable of.  I kept her in my sight for the next mile and I was able to overtake her by the end of mile 2.  I kept telling myself to never look back, and to only wait until the turnaround to see how close she really was.  I could hear her breathing pattern initially, and then when I couldn’t hear her breathing I knew I was far enough ahead, for now.  I just would keep on trucking.  I ran mile 1 in 6:34 and mile 2 in 7:08.  I did not like that 7:08.

The turnaround was near mile 2.5 and I was still in the lead.  2nd place female was not far behind, but there was a pretty good gap between me and three.  Since this next portion was just heading back on the same route, I knew what was coming ahead.  It was motivating running towards other runners and seeing people I recognized from Lethbridge races.  I ran miles 3 and 4 in 7:01 and 6:52.

By this time, we were back to the overpass, and instead of heading back where we started, we looped around the backside of the college.  This was a very sparse area of the course, with no spectators and no other runners heading past you in the opposite direction. I knew I just needed to keep pace.  There was an aboriginal gentleman who I was running behind the whole race who I caught up to, and stayed about a few steps ahead.  His cadence was the same as mine, so I decided to keep with him.  The crazy thing about this man, though, was he was running the event in SANDALS!  Very thin sandals with a strap around the heel and then through the toes.  I don’t know if he normally trains barefoot, or just always with sandals, but it was a sight to see!

I was able to keep pace for mile 5 and then I knew I wanted to kick it in for the last mile.  We were heading towards people finishing the 5 km and would be hooking up with them for the final straightaway.  Seeing more runners ahead motivated me and I was able to push hard for that last mile.  I also never looked behind me to see where that 2nd place female was, which I will never know if that was a good thing or a bad thing….but it doesn’t really matter….because I finished ahead of her in a time of 41:30!  My final two miles had been 7:03 and 6:45….it was just what I needed!  I stopped shortly after the finish line and was shaking, grabbing my quads….I turned around and saw female #2 finish right after me.  She was right on my tail!  Turns out, my chip time only beat hers by 9 seconds!  Gun time was only 12 seconds!  I thought she was farther back, but apparently not.  I had won the female division in the 10 km—-a first for me!

I was so excited about this win but I knew I needed to keep moving so I didn’t tighten up.  I ran a 2 mile cool down at an 8:55 average pace to total my mileage to 10 miles that day.  Heading back in to the college, a nice spread of post-race refreshments were set up.  I immediately zeroed in on the chocolate milk and bananas!  I had brought clothes to change in to, as I didn’t want to be sitting in disgusting race clothes during awards and more importantly, my drive back to Lethbridge.  They held the awards in the College cafeteria, which was a great setting for the 10 km awards (which were last) but it seemed a bit crowded for the 3 km and 5 km awards, as there were a TON of young kids there and their families.  It emptied out quite a bit for the 10 km awards, which made it nice for us runners, as before it was too hard to hear or see what was going on.

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I sat with the Lethbridge contingency of us who were out at the race, which was nice since a few of us were called up for awards….so we had a cheering section!  I first went up when they called for the 26-35 age group for women (I know, weird age groupings!) and then again at the end when they announced overall in each gender.  This was my “Olympian” moment I guess, as I have never earned a 1st female overall in such a large event…I think this is my third 1st female overall ever, with the last two being from smaller 5 km races.  I am also really proud that my time was a personal best….not just by a little, but by a lot.  So I know personally I worked as hard as I could!  If I had been able to get 1st overall with a time slower than my personal best, I wouldn’t have honestly have been as proud.  Another sweet thing was the prize money—-$200!!!  That cash is coming with me this weekend when I fly to Vancouver for my main event!

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Would I do this event again?  YES.  It is extremely well organized and well worth the commute to Medicine Hat.  If you are looking for a competitive 10 km, this seems to be a good one, for both the male and female divisions.  This is also a unique event in that the whole family really can participate….if one parent wants to do the 10km, an older kid do the 5 km, and the other parent and small child do the 3 km, that would totally work.  The registration was also very reasonable.  The early bird pricing for race registration was $20 for race registration, and the late registration (after April 7th) was $30.  You could also pay with cash day of for $40.  This was the same price for ALL RACE DISTANCES!  This did not include a shirt, however-a shirt would have cost an additional $15.  The Rattler Run was in its 35th year, and I totalled the finishers in the 10km, 5km, and 3 km by looking at the Racepro.ca website- there were 754 participants.  This race reminds me much of Lethbridge’s own “Moonlight Run” in that it is a “tradition.”  Albeit, smaller in scale, but still recognized in the community, appreciated, and thriving.  This was a great event for myself, not just because of my personal accomplishment, but because of the significance that the date April 25th holds.  That date does not need to be a sad day; it needs to be celebrated.  And I am more than grateful that I could celebrate by doing something my dad would have been proud to watch me do.

Going Back to the Original Purpose…

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When I wrote my first blog post on January 6th, 2013, I stated some information about who I was, what I was about, and what I was planning on doing over the course of the next year.

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In those initial purpose and goal statements, running a Boston Qualifying race time was never an initial goal.  I ran more races than I ever had before, I raised money for a cause important to my heart.  I even started breaking my own personal best times and realized I could become a contender in my own right.  I went and achieved all my original goals.  The thought of Boston came after I completed the Walt Disney Full Marathon in January in 3:50:52.  It was a late-in-the-game goal.  I figured I might as well try.

 

As you know from my post yesterday, I didn’t achieve that goal.  But, as you also know from that post, I am not going to let it get me down and ruin me.  I think back to everything I have been able to complete and achieve this past year and it makes me smile.  It makes me happy.  And being happy is the most important thing to me right now.

 

Tonight, I head out California where I will be participating in something else that wasn’t in the original plan.  I am participating in the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend, and partaking in the “Dumbo Double Dare Challenge.”  Not as daunting as the “Dopey Challenge“, but still challenge enough, I will run 19.3 miles over the course of two days:  A 10km on Saturday (with my best friend Ali-her first 10km ever!), and a half marathon on Sunday.  Upon completion, I will not only receive the gorgeous Dumbo Double Dare medal, but I will also be the proud owner of the Disney Coast 2 Coast medal.  I will have completed two RunDisney events of a half marathon or longer on both coasts in one calendar year. 

 

I didn’t plan on this when I first started my blog.  But, plans change.  The Boston challenge was a stressful, demanding one.  I could have really let that get me down after not getting in at both Calgary Full Marathon in June and in Edmonton Marathon this past Sunday.  But I didn’t.  And now come the exciting change, that helps me bring this back to what it was all about.  It says so right at the top of my page:

 

Running, Disney World & Dad….How do they connect together? Follow my journey this year to find out.

 

It has now been well over a year since I first started that journey.  If you have been following me since then, I think you may better realize how they all connect.  I know I have a deeper understanding myself.  I am looking forward to doing this race weekend in Disneyland not only for myself, for my best friend, for my family members, but most importantly, for my dad.  If he could see me smiling running through Disneyland, that would be more important to him, even now as I near the age of 30, than me making Boston.

 

I love you Dad.  Je me souviens.

Father’s Day

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Last week, I avoided doing school work during my prep by choosing to clean my classroom shelves. I still had binders from my classes at UW-La Crosse! I had emptied many in the past and dumped them, but the few that remained in the bottom corner must be ones I thought I may use??…well, I still had some of my “methods” classes down there. Language Arts binder, Reading Methods 432…yeah, don’t need these anymore. The binders were in great condition, so I emptied the contents into the recycling bin and was going to call it a day.

Until I found my journal entries in the back of my RDG432 binder.

This RDG 432 course I remember clearly. It was fall of my senior year, and we met once a week on Monday. The class was 3 hours long. I initially dreaded it, because I really had no interest in teaching reading or language arts, but I came to enjoy it. Part of it was the professor, Michelle Boge. She was very humorous, approachable, and realistic. The journal entry activity was something she did with us at the start of a few of our classes, as it was something we could do in a classroom of our own. She wasn’t going to read them, but they were meant to get us to reflect on a broad topic for 5-8 minutes and write. Michelle would write a statement on the board for us to copy down, and then we had to write whatever came to mind. One entry I did was on chocolate chip cookies, one was on my first job of being a caddy. And the one below was on my dad.

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Was this a happy day I wanted to relive? Not really at all. But it is still a day engrained in my mind. Is there anything I can do about it, now 10 years later? Not really. Except not beat myself up over it. I have matured and I have come to better terms with the situation. I have handled the loss of my father by running for him, using that time during my races to reflect on our family and the times we spent together. I am still not 100%, nor will I ever be, but I can say I am in a better place than I was in October 2006.

It’s never too late to say “I Love You.” I love you Dad—Happy Father’s Day.

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Quest in Quebec City, Part II

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The post below is a continuation from two days ago. It is my recap/reflection on the experiences I had while in Quebec City!

On Thursday, April 24th, we arrived at Musee Bon Pasteur. I was looking forward to this visit—the second floor was advertised to have an exhibit featuring the orphanage my dad was born at! When my husband and I walked through the doors, the receptionist did not know any English. Dan spoke with her to let her know I did not speak French; she then asked if we wanted an English-speaking guide. I am very appreciative that they had an English speaking guide in the facility, because visiting the museum would not have been the same without Sister Claudette’s guidance!

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Sister Claudette met us and gave us an overview of who the Sisters of Good Shepard are, and how they were formed. The story is quite incredible, and I encourage you to go to Musee Bon Pasteur and read about how this group of women found each other. She knew we were most interested in the items on the second floor, so after her 15 minute overview on the history on the first floor, we headed upstairs.

This is where everything came out. She first asked to see what information I had with me. After pulling out the envelope with the ominous “680 Chemin Ste Foy” address on it, she quickly told us why we were confused when we went their yesterday—-because it’s actually at 1210! The addresses had shifted over the years! She gave us a postcard with an old photo of La Crèche St Vincent de Paul so we could use it when we went back to find 1210 Chemin Ste Foy.

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We then looked at the handwritten letter together, and Sister Claudette then had a surprise for us. The sister who had signed the letter was a very prominent Sister at La Crèche, and there was a photo of her on that floor of the museum! Sister James Philip had signed that letter in 1954! Below is a picture of the letter next to her photo—these items are displayed on the original baptismal font that was used at the original St. Patricks! This font was used on my dad’s baptism on June 10th, 1952, three days after he was born (we know this because of the statement on his baptismal abstract which was produced in 1957; we can only assume, and Sister Claudette agreed, that this abstract was needed by my grandparents for when he went through his American Citizenship)

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Lots of other artifacts were on site for viewing in the museum. There are pictures, which reminded me of yearbook photos, of the doctors and sisters who were at La Crèche during certain time frames. There are also pictures of the children being looked after. Sister Claudette said these photos were taken in the 1950s

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Sister Claudette then explained to us more about the timeline of my dad’s adoption. He was born on June 7, 1952, and we knew from original paperwork that he was adopted and brought across into the US on July 4, 1954…this approximate two-year window is important. She explained to us that when a woman gave birth at La Crèche, the choice was to sign the child over for adoption right away, or wait a maximum of two years. In those two years if she felt fit to take care of the child on her own, or in some cases if she had then wed the father and came back, the child would be reunited.

My grandparents worked with the help of Catholic Charities in Illinois to set up an adoption. The Catholic Charities sent a letter in May 1954 that a boy had been selected for them. They drove up to La Crèche to meet my dad. I would love to know if photos of this occasion had existed somewhere in my grandparents hands, but they moved so much all over the world they may have been lost. One thing I should have assumed but was never certain was my dad’s birth name. We knew it was Luke, as written on the old envelope. But that was the English spelling. Sister Claudette confirmed that the name on the “Alien Registration” form that was used when moving to the US was his given name—Luc Parent. This was not chosen by the birth mother, though. We learned that the doctors and Sisters had a list of generic first names and last names they went through and gave to the children. So my dad was given Luc Parent!

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It was an amazing visit. Absolutely memorable. I will never forget it! We learned so much in that short time at the museum. Plus, there is still a chance to learn more. Later that day, Dan phoned a number given to us by Sister Claudette. It was for Centre Jeunesse-Centre for Adopted Youth. There’s an outside chance they will let me provide my dad’s information for the archives, in case anyone from his birth family has tried looking for him. This is something traditionally the adopted child must do, but we may as well try. Problem was, we called twice, and the person on the other line had horrific English, and Dan’s French was just as bad. An English speaking worker was supposed to call us back by yesterday but hasn’t. I will tackle this feat over the next few weeks.

And 1210 Chemin Ste Foy? Well, we went the following day. On April 25, 2014, we walked the two miles to La Crèche St Vincent de Paul. My dad had passed away exactly 10 years before on April 25, 2004. How did I feel?—rejuvenated.

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Quest in Quebec City, Part I

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Oh wow. Where do I start? I am still trying to take everything in from our amazing trip out East to Quebec. I am going to share the family history highlights we uncovered on this trip, but also try to keep this post short. The post will be broken up into two parts, and I hope the pictures will speak for themselves.

If you have read my blog before, you now know my dad was an orphan from Quebec City. He was born on June 7, 1952, at the La Crèche St Vincent de Paul, a home for children born to unwed mothers. I have always wanted to go to Quebec City so I could be immersed in the surroundings, and hopefully get some answers in the process.
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The first we did upon arriving in Quebec City was trek from the Via Rail station to our hotel. During the trek we passed St. Patricks Church—I knew this name from all my years of looking at the papers we had of my dad’sthis was where my dad’s baptismal abstract was from! We went in and spoke with an incredibly friendly receptionist. She informed us that the original church burned down and all that remained was the front. An active St. Patricks church in Quebec City does exist, but it is not the one from the 1950s. The old building inside was rebuilt and now houses a cancer research centre. She was trying her best to help us with finding any thoughtful information. She told us to come back tomorrow, as she wanted to get us a name of a fellow who knew a lot of history of the church.

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The next day we stopped back at the former church, where the receptionist had a piece of paper for us with contact information for C. Robert McGoldrick. We thanked her greatly, and on we went to 680 Chemin Ste Foy, the address I had stared at so long on an old 1950s envelope. This address was that of the orphanage!

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The walk to the “site” of the orphanage was about 2 miles. When we got closer to where 680 was, I started getting excited. But then, there was nothing. No 680. Just a green space between a giant apartment building and some townhouses. This was not big enough to house a whole orphanage…I was so confused. Had it gotten torn down and part of the land was built on? Nonetheless, we took a picture and moved on to phone Robert McGoldrick.

Robert answered and Dan spoke with him briefly. He told us to look up Saint Sacrament Parish, on the corner of Holland and Saint Croix. Even though the original St. Patrick’s burned down, he said any documents that may have been saved would be here. This was a lot to take in! What could they have there?

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We now headed back 2 miles to Old Quebec where something very exciting was waiting—a museum with an exhibit featuring La Crèche St. Vincent de Paul. This is Musee Bon Pasteur (Good Shepard Museum). I had found this museum while searching things online some years ago. This was where I had to go. This was where I would find answers!….

Part II to be posted tomorrow….

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The Big Bang…(in a few short words)

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Wow.

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 has come and went. I prepared all year for this week….training, fundraising and reflecting…I haven’t even been home for more than 48 hours and I still can’t figure out how to take it all in. I know that as the days and weeks pass, as I start to sift through all the professional photos taken by MarathonFoto, after I look at our Disney Photopass pictures…..after I watch more race video recaps and read fellow bloggers’ recaps,…it may start to sink in how big this weekend was….

….until then, I wanted to share some highlights from the final day of Marathon Weekend—the full marathon. 26.2 miles, which took us through all four Disney theme parks! The first three race distances (5km, 10km and half marathon) went as planned…I went out for them slow and stuck with the game plan. I ran my half marathon 50 minutes slower than my October personal best, in order to conserve my energy and have some juice left for the full. I had it in my mind I could PR the full. So when my 2:45 AM alarm went off for the fourth day in a row, I rolled myself out of bed and started pepping myself up. I needed to be on the ball for this race today, as this was the big one!

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I timed arriving at the race start well, so all I had to do was head straight to the corrals. I got to corral B at about 40 minutes before the official start. The weather was ridiculously better than the previous day—a cool breeze and hardly any humidity. I knew I had to go for my personal best.

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After the official start, my corral was next to the start line. When we were set loose, I flew out of the gate and was going for broke. My first four miles were solid, but a little too fast. I was caught up in it all, but I didn’t let it stop me. I didn’t want to slow down.

My eyes swelled as I ran down Main Street USA…not to the same extent as the day prior, when tears streamed down my face…but I was still getting all worked up. I didn’t even pull my phone out to take photos, because I was on a mission to beat my 3 hours and 56 minute time. I took a short 5 second stop for a photo with Buzz Lightyear and in front of the castle (literally, 5 seconds tops each) and Marathon Foto captured these.
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This is where my mind started playing tricks on me.

It was still dark out and we had left Magic Kingdom. I knew the area from the day before, but I started to slow my pace and question if I really should be pushing it like I was. For a solid mile or two I kept going back and forth if I should slow down and just take photos and not go for the PR. Then, my stomach started acting up. I mean, imagine that….it’s the fourth day of four early races, and I’m eating and drinking vacation food, me also shoving sugar and electrolytes in my system….I took a two minute bathroom and banana stop—now I didn’t know if getting the PR would be possible.

I saw fellow Dopey Challenge “Team Wang” runners before this stop, Dan Tinney and Jason Perez. They were cruising! The brief time I s a w and chatted with them motivated me to keep pushing forward—-I had trained so hard all year for this, i just couldn’t slow down.

Animal Kingdom Park went fast and soon enough we were back on the highway heading to Wide World of Sports. The morning sun rising got me nervous that the heat would kick in, so I didn’t want to slow down and get caught in the heat. I pushed through to WWOS and just kept trying to smile the whole way. On the highway back from WWOS, I had reached mile 20. The first 20 take talent, the last 6 take heart. That’s the mantra I had going through my head.

I knew that once I got up the hill by the green army man, it would be all recognizable paths to the finish. I got into the Studios, and was grateful for the fruit snack stop. I then started talking to a girl who looked about my age, doing her first ever marathon. You could tell she was starting to struggle and may have wanted to slow. She didn’t have a Garmin or GPS watch and wasn’t sure if she could break 4 hours. I knew that even though she started in corral C, she was on pace to break it. We both were, and by the last 5 km I was still set to break my 3:56.

We wound down to the Boardwalk, past Yacht & Beach and into EPCOT. Dopey was standing near the World Showcase gate welcoming us in (I managed to get a photo with the bugger later as we walked back to our resort,) and I knew I had to keep on pushing.

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I spotted my mom and husband in the stands as I ran in, and the emotions were released. I finished with an official time of 3:50:52. And I felt awesome. I can’t even put it into words how I felt! Even with this being the fourth race in a row, I still had energy-the adrenaline was flowing! I went and picked up my marathon finisher medal, got my wristbands verified for the Goofy and Dopey medals, and then met up win my husband and mom at the family reunion area.
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“I am so proud of you.” This is in fact what both my husband and my mom said to me. And I know my dad said it to me too. He was with me this race, and he pushed me to achieve something I didn’t know would be possible at the end of four days of races. This was truly the most amazing race experience I have been part of thus far in my life. TO INFINITY & BEYOND!!

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More Than a Year’s Worth of Effort…It Is Here!

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The event I set as the goal of my running career so far is almost here-Dan, my mom, and I leave for the Dopey Challenge in less 40 hours! Dan and I have to get through one day of work tomorrow (January 6th) before we head up to Calgary to catch our red-eye flight to Toronto, where we will then catch a flight to Orlando. My mom leaves on Tuesday AM, and if all our flights are on time :::fingers crossed::: we arrive within one hour of each other!

At the start of this journey, I talked about how I was made for this race. I have had the picture below posted a couple times, and it’s currently both my cover photo on Facebook and background on Twitter:

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The year was 1988. I am almost four years old. I am sprinting up the driveway after running up the hill with my dad. I am sporting a Walt Disney World shirt, a gift from my Uncle Chuck & Auntie Debbie. I had not been to Walt Disney World yet. Little did I know, that after 1 trip in 1991, I would become an addict.

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Disney World became our family vacation destination. The three of us took six fantastic trips together as a family, the last being in Spring 2003.

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My dad suffered a fatal heart attack the following Spring, on April 25th, 2004. My life and my mom’s life were turned upside down. I turned my energy to running, and ran my first half marathon on May 1st, 2004. I haven’t stopped running road races since.

I needed to find a way, a suitable way, to honor my dad. It was time. I was finally able to handle the loss, and knew honoring him was my last step. Running and Disney….that had to be the combination. I set out on January 2013 ready to raise money for heart disease research…setting up fundraising accounts with American Heart Association and Heart & Stroke Foundation. I blogged about my running and races and Disney World and family memories. I signed up for more races in 2013 than I ever have done in my life—I ran 22 unique races over the course of this year! And most importantly, I signed up for the Dopey Challenge, which is to be held on January 9-12, 2014, during WDW Marathon Weekend.

I was meant for this race. My whole life. I never knew it until this past year. This week, when I step into the Walt Disney World Resort with my husband and my mom….I will be ready to run…more than ever….my dad will be with me too.

Je Me Souviens! To Infinity & Beyond!

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If you are interested in donating in memory of my father, Andrew A. Lammers, please click on the “Charities” tab at the top of the page, and follow the links to my personal fundraising pages with American Heart Association or Heart & Stroke Foundation. Every little bit helps and is appreciated more than you know!

How Do I Sum Up 2013?

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There is that. That picture is worth a thousand words.

While this is a mix of finisher medals, placing medals, and challenge medals….they all share in common that they are some pieces of special bling I earned during 2013. I registered and competed in 21 unique races so far in 2013.…I say “so far” as I will be doing race 22 tomorrow when I run the Brita Resolution Run 5km with my good friend Kelly! The mix of races I ran this year weighted heavily on half marathons, along with some 10kms and unique distance 10-miler and 35 km trail races. I also got snatched into the whirlwind that are Spartan Races, where I completed 3 Sprints (5km), 1 Super (14km) and 1 Beast (21km) which earned me a coveted Trifecta Tribe medal!

Those aren’t the only important numbers of 2013.…I went into the year with a two year old half marathon PR of 1:54:19, from Woody’s RV Half in Red Deer 2011. I wanted to break that sometime during this year! While back in Wisconsin for Easter……First race out, I hit 1:52:53….holy crap.….I was hoping that wasn’t the peak! I went on to break this NEW PR three more times during 2013! My best ended up occurring up in high elevation-ville of Lethbridge, where I ran a 1:41:07 at the Bare Bones Half! I never thought I would now be setting my sights at sub 1:40!

More numbers…..1155 & 1621. These are the dollar amounts I have fundraised so far for the Heart & Stroke Foundation (Canada) and the American Heart Association, respectively. I began this fundraising journey at the start of 2013, with the roll-out of this very website. My year would be devoted to running more races than my previous years, and all races would be ran in memory of my father, Andrew Lammers. This April 25th marked the 9th year since his passing. He was only 51.

While the medals are the tangible item I can now hold in my hand to reflect and remember the races of this year, there is much more that I have gained by competing in this ridiculous number of events. The personal bests…the fundraising goals being met and surpassed…the new race experiences….doing it all for Dad…….and now it’s one week until I leave for the culminating event of the year….the Dopey Challenge….2013 has been an amazing year. I can’t wait for the start of 2014!