I have been in the military since 1990 (I was 17 when I enrolled)...
I joined as a clarinet player in the Navy Reserve. It was my way of paying for my education... In the band, you have to play together and you spend long hours practicing - but this is all fun. I have to admit, I was not in my best physical shape back then. I also truly believe that none of my supervisors at the time would have thought that I would become an officer. I was a good follower and I did not have much confidence in myself.
After completing undergrad and a master degree in psychology, I transferred in the Army as a Regular Forces Officer in 2001. Emma was 5 and Maggie was 3. At that point, I had to go through the basic officer course and my occupational qualification courses. I did well, but I struggled with the run!
I mean: I could not run!!! The first part of an officer training is very physical. After having babies (BTW I was in very good shape all the way until I finished college), that was not my forte, as a matter of fact, it was my weakness... I met the minimum physical standard, I was not a quitter and I know that my endurance and determination allow me to get the job done.
A couple of years after that, I was posted away from my family. I was bored, lonely and I was working too much. I needed to look after myself and decided to start training. That year, I trained 3-4x/week on a treadmill and signed up for my first half-marathon!!!
I DID it, I can RUN and I can LAST!!! It was in September 2004, almost 10 years ago.
A ran my second one just weeks after - not a good idea! I cut more than 5 min to my time but I was pretty sore...I learned that you need some time to catch up and you need a training plan!
Skipping ahead, from Summer of 2005 until my posting to Kingston (ON) the following year, I had cancer. My first tough was: surgery, remove it and let's move on with my life! It did not happened quite like that. I went through more than 6 months of treatments. I was stunt by the incredible support I received from my colleagues at my unit. I never expected them to be so nice to me... After my doctor told me I was "clear", I felt incredibly relieved but I was not fully recovered. It took me more than a year to get my health back form the drugs side effects.
Two years ago, I celebrated my 5 years of remission by joining my friend at the Royal Military College (were I was posted) for my 1st Relay for Life. (I did it with my daughter Emma who was 15yo ... and I posted a blog too!!!) I did not do it last year as I was in the middle of our move - we got posted to my current unit.
The Relay for Life is not a competitive event - it is a fun event to raise money to fight against cancer. It is my way to fight back, to remember and to get closer to some of my friends who have been touch in so many different ways by this sickness.
This year, I decided (last minute!) to create a team and encourage my unit to join me. 12 did! (including my youngest daughter Maggie who is now 15 !)
We did a few unit activities to raise money (2225$ to be precise!) and it was a great way to bring people together and get to know them on a different level. . To tell the truth, my main goal was not the $ (I even thought we would not make it to the minimum of 1200$ suggested!) but to show my appreciation and support to two very special ladies - Jeanette and Irene (in yellow shirt front row)... There job at the unit is to support us and in return I wanted them to know that I was also supportive of something that is close to them- to fight again cancer together as survivor! (We wear the yellow shirt to identify us as cancer survivors...)
I like the look of my outfit that day! My Commandant allowed us to wear our combat dress with a slight modification! I felt like a true warrior-survivor!
So the event start at 7:30Pm and kept us moving on a track (this year it was a field!!!) all night. At dusk, the lantern ceremony was, as always, very touching.
I ran more than 21 km that night and, when I was not running, I kept walking non stop (except for short healthy pauses - you know what I mean) until the clean-up around 6:30 AM. I did an overall of 65km. No need to say that my legs were very tight but I was very happy that I did not quit, so as Maggie!
She did not covered the same distance but she stayed all night and she was very proud of her accomplishments - not only she raised close to 200$ but she was an excellent team member!
So what I learned - When it feels difficult, support will make it seems easier (of course that is conditional on finding the right people... but it can also be conditional on letting other people help you along the way).
The other lesson is: Training and working out can be a lot of fun. Take this short story for an example. Last Winter our Ops Officer coordinated a Winter fun competition. At first most people were looking at this thinking: "I have too much to do, I will be wasting my time and I don't feel like doing this..."
Well, we were all wrong! We had a lot of fun doing winter "crazy" quasi military team races...
And guess what? ... In a command relay race -where as you pass the kit to the next runner the kit keep increasing in weight and volume until you get to the Commandant (see below)
and the Deputy (me), competing for the victory ...
(yeah, it is me!!! discovering a new running style!)
It is not how strong and big you look that will assure you the victory! The bets were certainly not against my team - we even had 2 officers from the Caribbean's who where not too familiar with the idea of playing in the snow! But the victory did not matter because, as a good officer, I pass on the glory to my boss and told their team that we should have been disqualified because I carried my snowshoes instead of wearing them!
P.S. I still prefer hot sweaty summer workout! And I have to give a
to my sparkfriend Elaine Runner4Life for her incredible way of finding healthy opportunity & keeping a positive look to her daily routine!
And to my Sparkfriends who are, like me, cancer survivor...
I am celebrating 3 years of Spark - and I am addicted to it!