Bluenose – Part 2

My Dad and I after crossing the finish line.
You can see I’m still out of breath… This was my dad’s first race, I have his time (10 minutes better than mine) to live up to!!

“Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish, which trumps Did Not Start”  — Anonymous 

Months of preparations have lead me to this moment.
A Marathon Official screaming “Keep left for finish line!!” and hundreds of fans line Brunswick Street as I come around that last bend. Only 100 meters to go…
Coldplay’s Every Teardrop is a Waterfall is playing in my ears – fitting since I can feel myself tearing up with a mixture of excitement and pride already. 

I desperately try to soak in the moment while frantically searching the crowd for someone, anyone I know. 50 meters…
I dig deep, pushing against the ache in my hips, and the cramp in my leg I mysteriously woke up with this morning, and can’t seem to shake. 10 meters…
One last deep breath and I cross the first sensor marking the finish line, hesitating only slightly when I hear the announcer call MY name. 5 meters…
Arms over my head, one final burst of energy and I’m over the last two sensors and through the finish gate. “WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” I screamed as I erupted into a puddle of tears.

I did it.

I actually did it, and a whopping 40 minutes faster than last year!!!

The Journey

“I run the marathon to the very last mile”     — Beastie Boys

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. 2011 was a mixed bag. My heart had never been more full, my spirit had never been so broken. The defining moment, for me, was May 18th (2 days before the Bluenose). In a text message, I was told the relationship I had been pouring everything into was over, and there was nothing I could do about it. Defeated, heart broken, and severely depressed, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, but I had made a commitment. And so, I took to the streets of Halifax for the 10K, finishing in 2 hours – not bad all things considered.

I spent the next six months going through the grieving process: denying it was over; agonizing; bargaining; reflecting… In August I sustained a head injury that complicated my “recovery.” But, by January I had turned a corner. Enough is enough. It was time to get back up.

The Training

“Dig deeper. Push Harder. BE Profound.”  — Me

Having spent eight months in bed, I was in horrible physical shape. Mentally and emotionally, I was ready for this!
I began (at my cousin Sheldon’s insistence) with the Biggest Loser Bootcamp 4 days a week. Boy-O-boy did that wake my body up!! Four weeks later, instead of starting level 3, I started doing run/walks…
The C25K iPhone app soon became my favourite. My first outdoor walk/run was 5K, it felt amazing, so liberating (read more about that run here).
In March, I added the Map My Run app, which keeps track of my routes, speed, distance, and averages my pace so I have an accurate idea of how well I’m doing.

The Setbacks

“Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like muscles of the body.”  — Lynn Jennings

That first run was the beginning of a string of setbacks and complications that, to this day have not stopped, nor slowed me down. Shin splints, supination, pulled muscles, torn ligaments, heel spurs, clothing malfunctions, failure to lose weight/inches and progress through the training process… You name it, and I have likely endured it! 

The Motivation

“Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don’t think about them, I just do them. The decision has already been made.”  — Patti Sue Plummer

Changing my view on the world around me was not easy, but some how I seem to have accomplished it (9 days of 10, anyway). Oprah once said that running was the best metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put in. Adopting that philosophy in my life and surrounding myself with positivity and calm has become a passion of mine (right up there with writing). They’re both something I work hard at, and strive desperately to improve on. 

Equal motivation for me, was simply doing it. Years ago when I visited the gym regularly, the tredmill was always my favourite part of my workouts, and for years, I’ve hummed and hawed over getting a tredmill of my own. Instead, I began running outside. Outdoor running is MUCH harder than running on a tredmill, and I love the challenge!! Battling the elements; moving faster to get warm, or to get home because it’s raining, or because it’s hot, all par for the course…

I’m a game player too, secretly competitive – There’s no better competition than with myself!!
When I’m out for my run, in my head I’m playing game after game with myself:
Can you run faster than him?… I bet she runs slower than you… I wonder if I can climb this hill in two minutes… If you walk up the hill, you have to run down it at double time… If  you finish in less than 40 minutes, you can go to Booster Juice… Can you run to that rock?… Can you run up that hill?

If all that fails, I sing along to my iPod – OUT LOUD!

The Playlist

Music makes or breaks my workouts. All of my worst runs have been my worst runs because of iPod malfunctions. Music has been scientifically proven to positively benefit any exercise program:

There are four factors that contribute to a song’s motivational qualities: rhythm response, musicality, cultural impact and association.

The first two are known as “internal” factors as they relate to the music’s structure while the second two are “external” factors that reflect how we interpret the music. Rhythm response is tied to the beats per minute (bpm) of the song and how well it matches either the cadence or the heartbeat of the runner. A song’s structure such as its melody and harmony contribute to its musicality. The external factors consider our musical background and the preferences we have for a certain genre of music and what we have learned to associate with certain songs and artists (Click HERE to read this article in its entirety).

Here’s a short list of my “life saving” songs from today, many of which I sang OUT LOUD!:

The Pretender – Foo Fighters (I’m the voice inside your head you refuse to hear…)
She Knows What to do With a Saturday Night – Billy Currington
Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay (I turn the music up, I got my records on, I shut the world outside until the lights come on, Maybe the streets alight, maybe the trees are gone, I feel my heart start beating to my favorite song…)
Love the Way You Lie – Eminem & Rihanna
Look at me Now – Karmin
Forgot About Dre – Eminem & Dr. Dre (So what do you say to somebody you hate, Or anybody tryna bring trouble your way)
Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People (All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, You better run, better run, outrun my gun…
Thriller/Heads Will Roll – Glee Cast
Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
Never Say Never – Justin Bieber & Jaden Smith (I will never say never, I will fight till forever…
Crash Your Party – Karmin (Who do you think you are a super S-T-A-R…
Shoop – Salt & Peppa
I Love Rock N’ Roll – Joan Jett 

Now What?

 A much needed break, and back to running 3-4 times a week… There just might be something fantastic in store for 2013! 😉 Stay tuned!!

Peace and Love,
Mandixoxox

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My Musical Education – Part III

Adolescence is a hugely influential time in any young girl’s life. Add to that the drastically changing world of music and you’re probably thinking about the 90’s… At least, I am! 

For me, the 90’s brings about a HUGE melting pot of genres – some that hadn’t been labelled before this decade.
Alternative, Grunge, Boy Bands, Rap, Loud, and who could forget GIRL POWER! 

I could write for days on the musical influences I found just in the 90’s alone – probably because I came of age in those years. Born in the early 80’s, I remember a lot of music from back then (a topic for a future post I am sure). What makes the 90’s more distinct (musically) are the memories that go along with specific songs. When I hear a certain intro, back beat or chorus, I am transported back in time to the very moment that song touched me.

Four songs, by four girl groups, each of which has special meaning to me:

1. Salt-N-Pepa: Shoop

Jr. High School video dance; a practicing feminist back then (I laugh when I say this), I remember saying to a friend “How could those girls parade around dressed like that? Don’t they know they’re women, and not objects!?”
Twenty years later and THIS song is what I request EVERY time I go to a club or a party. I know all the words, and I have a little dance to go with it! 

2. Spice Girls: 2 Become 1

Probably not their most popular single, these girls invented the “girl power” genre. I loved them, hated them, idolized them, secretly loved them, and was very sad when they split up. 

3. All Saints: Never Ever

This song reminds me of my junior high school days. Boys and girls pairing off, holding hands, calling each other ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend.’ Only to breakup and do it all over again with someone new the next week. More a spectator than a participant back then, I am recently reminded of this songs relevance and the importance of closure. The opening lyrics say it all:

A few questions that I need to know
How you could ever hurt me so
I need to know what I’ve done wrong
And how long it’s been going on
Was it that I never paid enough attention?
Or did I not give enough affection?
Not only will your answers keep me sane
But I’ll know never to make the same mistake again
You can tell me to my face or even on the phone
You can write it in a letter, either way, I have to know
Did I never treat you right?
Did I always start the fight?
Either way, I’m going out of my mind
All the answers to my questions, I have to find…

4. Robyn: Show Me Love

The year is 1999. It’s late spring, I’m laying on an air mattress in the spare bedroom of family friends in England. A warm June afternoon, the window is open, I can smell the BBQ on the patio below me. My discman is cranked up to 10 (or louder), and I am belting out this tune alongside Robyn: Show me love baby show me everything you got and show me life… As the song came to an end, I heard an enthusiastic round of applause from below. I had forgotten that the window was open, and that everyone in the house, but me, was outside.

Other “girl power” songs to check out:
Alanis Morrissette: Ironic
Natalie Imbruglia: Torn
No Doubt: Don’t Speak

What are your “Girl Power” songs?

Peace and Love,
Mandixoxox

My Musical Education – Part II

Guitar rifts, twanging banjos, harmonica harmonies, fiddles, and violins. 

Country music has always been an integral part of my life. I remember helping my dad with projects as a young child. Working away in his basement workshop, the radio was always on, usually set to the country station. Back then, it was classic artists like Brooks and Dunn, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton that ‘Boot Scooted’ across the air waves.

Today’s “new” country has often been criticized as too pop, too rock, toosomething. It’s not all mainstream-hybrid muck, but it’s certainly falls under the “they don’t make ’em like they used to” category. But, long before Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler’s sugary pop-laced tunes there were artists like Hank WilliamsMerle Haggard, and June Carter Cash. I remember well, electric sliding around my livingroom and junior high school gymnasium to Alan Jackson’s Chattahoochee, and belting out Shania Twain’s Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under as though I had been the one scorned. 

Somewhere over the years, country music has lost it’s way. As has most music, its evolution has veered in the direction of pop-monotony. So, to break the chain, here are a few not-so-mainstream classic selections to whet your country curiosity…

Johnny Cash: Sunday Morning Coming Down
Best known, these days (sadly) for his Nine Inch Nails cover of Hurt, no country music playlist would be complete if it didn’t have at least one song from “The Man in Black.” 

On a Sunday morning sidewalk, I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cause there’s something ’bout a Sunday, That makes your body feel alone. 
And there aint nothing short a’ dying, That’s half as lonesome as the sound,
Of the sleeping city sidewalk, And Sunday morning coming down.

Reba McEntire: Fancy
The guitar in this classic Reba song, are iconic country, to me. One of the first songs I remember with a story line written in the lyrics, and a music video i always thought was a movie. 

Here’s your one chance Fancy, don’t let me down…

 

Willie Nelson: Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
It’s not often you encounter singing voices that are truly unique and recognizable across generations. Willie Nelson has one of those voices that any music lover, regardless of preference would recognize. This song gets me every time. I never know whether to smile fondly, or cry because the lyrics, accompanied to Nelson’s voice are so heartfelt…

In the twilight glow I seen her
Blue eyes crying in the rain
When we kissed goodbye and parted
I knew we’d never meet again
Love is like a dying ember
And only memories remain
And through the ages I’ll remember
Blue eyes crying in the rain
Someday when we meet up yonder
We’ll stroll hand in hand again
In the land that knows no parting
Blue eyes crying in the rain

Who are some of your favourite classic country artists?

Peace and Love,
Mandixoxox

My Musical Education – Part I

Working a close shift tonight, I had a rare chance to do something – create my own playlist. It is not very often that I am given the opportunity to listen to, and enjoy, the contents of my iPod while I am at work, all thanks to satellite radio.

Weird has so often been the adjective used to describe my musical tastes over the years. Almost always do I steer away from mainstream and instead search for lesser known jewels, letting my ears, heart and soul do the driving. 

While some may describe my tastes as weird, or “hipster-esque,” I prefer to use the terms eclectic, unique, and awesome. I’ve never been disappointed by ‘random finds.’ Some have turned out to be musical legends, while others have remained quiet favourites. Musical tastes ebb and flow like the changing of the tides. From country and rock inspired one day, to indie and dance the next. Below is a look at five artists that made an impact on my day:

Journey
With classic ballads like Don’t Stop (Believin’) and Faithfully, how could anyone not love this band. Even the permanent departure of lead singer Steve Perry in 1998 hasn’t stopped these legends of classic rock from touring and recording.

Wakey!Wakey!
Mike Grubbs’ guest starring role on One Tree Hill in 2009 is where I was first introduced to the soulful lyrics of Wakey!Wakey! Car Crash and 1876 – The Brooklyn Theatre Fire from the album Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You are examples of singing out your feelings – So now you are hurt, And you’re sure I could not be hurt too, And just because you’re bleeding, You think that I’m not bleeding, And just because you’re full of yourself, Doesn’t mean I’m not full of you…

Travis
I was first introduced to Travis in 1999 while staying in England. Their single Why Does it Always Rain On Me was in heavy rotation on every music channel and radio station.
Still able to escape modern mainstream ‘garbage’ that fills today’s radio and television airwaves, the album The Invisible Band boasts songs such as Flowers in the Window and Side, but it’s the chilling Humpty Dumpty Love Song that completes the album for me.
All of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men, Couldn’t pull my heart back together again, All of the physicians andmathematicians too, Failed to stop my heart from breaking in two…

Mozella
With her high voice, cheery and yet soulful songs, you can just sense she’s cute as a button! Introduced to her by a former coworker, I’ve found many a contemplative evening listening to songs such as I Will, Amnesia, and Going Home
“Give me a reason to love you, give me a reason not to go, and this might sound crazy, but I’ve loved you all along, so just humor my senses, as I sing this song, to you…”

Young the Giant
My first reaction to hearing the song Cough Syrup was that it sounds like something straight out of a John Hughes movie (Breakfast Club anyone?). Lead singer Sameer Gadhia’s voice is a cross between peppy 80’s pop and moody 50’s blues. And the entire self-titled album is no joke either, additional tracks worth mentioning include I Got, Guns Out, and Your Side. Also worth a look are their “In the Open” video series on YouTube.
What’s made an impact on your day? 

Peace and Love,
Mandixoxox 

Dark Roman Wine, and Awakenings in the Shower

Source Unknown

I always seem to do my best thinking either in the shower or as I am just about to fall asleep. There’s something about the water beating down on me and the close, warm, slightly darkened quarters that prompts deep moments of reflection. It is in these moments that I have made life-altering, soul-changing realizations.

While taking a quiet moment this morning, listening to Snow Patrol’s Dark Roman Wine, I suddenly heard a small, almost childlike voice in my head repeating the lyrics back to me, like a mantra for the day ahead: I will hang on the hook of your splendor, As the night rolls us up in its arms, And the square of your thumbs and your fingers, Is the blanket of sky that’s so warm…An incredible song by Snow Patrol, to be sure, and a beautiful message to start the day.

Listening to the arrangement below, from Royal Albert Hall in 2009, with it’s haunting organ accompanied to Gary Lightbody`s electrifying voice, I can’t help but close my eyes. As the song builds (The wind shakes the branches above us, And the cars shake the ground at our backs, But the dark roman wine in our bloodstreams, Makes the cold just a word, just a sound…), free of a heavily drummed climax, it rather drifts peacefully towards its end.

It was during my shower “meditation” this morning, that I made a not-so-sudden realization. Everything I have done thus far in my life has been to please (in one form or another) someone else; a parent, teacher, co-worker, employer, friend, boyfriend, etc. And, as a result, I have often felt inadequate, not good enough, and that I was in competition with those around me.

This was not my realization.

What I came to realize is this: The more time I spend alone with myself – in silence – the more I KNOW not only that I am good enough for the world around me, but that I am actually a force of positive energy for the universe!

Just over a year ago, I was overwrought with anxiety and stresses, I couldn’t stand to be alone with myself in a room without the TV on or music playing. I was so trapped within myself, I didn’t know up from down, left from right. Going through the motions of daily life, I was spiraling, content with mediocrity. And then the bottom fell out. My relationship ended suddenly, and I was alone again. I had two choices: (ONE) Live the victim “why does everything always happen to me?”  -OR- (TWO) Grieve, accept the cards I was dealt, and try to move on.

I chose TWO

Pulling yourself up is never an easy task, it’s sometimes more overwhelming than the fall. When I got up (and it was a slooooooooooooooowwwwwwww, and still on-going process), I felt more like me than ever before. I’ve embraced my spirituality. Some days I talk to God, others I talk to myself through meditation. Every day is an opportunity for learning. I am learning how to be on my own, and how to do big, exciting, sometimes scary things on my own, embracing the life I was given.

Writing this post to you now, I am surrounded by the gentle humming of my computer, the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard, my own breath, the imaginary sound of my laundry tumbling in dryer next door, and I am filled with peace.

I am alone in my own company and it is peaceful.

Peace and Love to you all,
Mandixoxox