Where it began…

Last December, I hit a low point in my ability to cope with life. After a long stretch of dealing with doctors, hospitals, caregivers, lawyers, and assorted signs of “well, this has all gone sideways,” I’d had enough. And it did. Go sideways. A lot. I kept everything going. Everyone who needed to be cleaned, fed, or cared for got most of what they needed, most of the time. I let the pandemic become the reason why I never went out or tried to do anything, because if I went out and saw anyone other than a sick relative, I’d for sure catch COVID-19 and bring it home to an invalid who very much didn’t need any more challenges. By year end, I was hardly moving. From my home office chair I ordered food and supplies delivered all over the place. I arranged services and argued with banks and lawyers and assorted people with power over our lives in between an equally endless stream of work meetings.

I reached a point where I did a solid week when I never once left the condo building, 4 days of which I didn’t even leave the unit to go down and check the mail. I’d shut myself in and closed off everything that wasn’t something clearly labelled as a “duty” in my mind. I also managed to pack on some more weight over the lockdown, weight I very much didn’t need weighing on my heart. My doctor observed that I was at risk for a heart attack if things didn’t change.

Oh-kay. Well, that’s not what I wanted to hear.

Apparently getting to keep living isn’t enough motivation…

I needed an activity I was capable of doing without support, but I needed some last little bit of motivation. The Mount Fuji medal came across my feed in Pinterest, whose algorithm has developed a pretty good sense of what triggers me visually. Bingo. Pretty, shiny, and mine in exchange for walking 74 kilometres. It was a virtual challenge. I could do it alone, where no one could see me, and laugh at how slowly I was progressing. On the plus side, walking is how I think things through, and it was the one activity I have always loved. I could do that. And if I did, a complete stranger would ship me a shiny medal. I haven’t won a prize, medal, or ribbon for anything at all since I cleared a four foot jump with a water barrier without my horse. (That’s a story for another day. Be patient.)

Aiming for mediocrity…

The first week was humiliating. I just did short loops around the block, but since there’s a slope in one direction, on the way home, I needed to go uphill. I wheezed. Since when? Where on earth had I gone? When did THIS become hard? I walked everywhere, growing up. Heck, I never even bothered to learn how to drive until after I got married, assuming that I was probably never going to be able to afford a car, so I might as well learn to love walking, and get really good at public transit. I remember fondly taking a Greyhound bus at age 16 from Montreal to Ottawa, just so I could walk around Ottawa and feel fancy. I bought an Earl Grey tea and a biscuit in a café, and I ate it while watching people walk by and sketching them. Mobility meant freedom and independence.

I wanted my ability to move back. I’d had enough of helping people with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs to be giving up so easily on my own ability to move through life when I still had control over the outcome. So, every morning I typed the previous day’s distance into the Conqueror app. I had to look at that number and ask myself if it was enough. The definition of “enough” was more than 2 kilometres at the beginning. Why? No reason. I just needed a starting point. After that, “enough” changed to “more than I did last week.” As I started to get closer to the 10,000 steps per day recommendation for a reasonably healthy adult, I stopped paying attention to the kilometres so much as the steps, because I was sort of hoping that if I could hit 10,000 steps five days out of the week, I was going to be reasonably healthy.

0 steps a day

I can do 10,000 steps a day now, six days a week without much fuss. It took some experimentation to figure out when exercise felt better, and how to make myself more comfortable doing it. I gave in and bought exercise clothes that fit the shape I am now, because I needed to admit that my figure isn’t changing. At all. No matter how much I hate that fact. I’ve got nine months of data that prove I can multiply my energy expenditure 4 or 5 times from where I started from in December and not lose a single ounce. There’s a rant for another day, but not today.

Today is the day when I did something impossible.

I completed a marathon. That’s a sentence I never imagined I would say. That’s my race bib over on the right-hand side.

I signed up for a Guinness World Records™ Official Attempt Run. Today (September 19th, 2021), we attempted the official world record of the most people to complete a remote 10 km (6.2 mile) run in 24 hours. This is an official Guinness World Records™ certified run. I checked it out… they don’t care that I can’t run, as long as I finish the whole distance on the appointed day. If I can send in a fitness tracker record showing the date, time and distance covered,  I qualify for the attempt. They don’t need me to do it fast, so I’ve got this! I signed up, and managed to convince my husband and a friend to join me in the attempt.

We did it. I’m not actually surprised that I did the distance. I’ve done 10 kilometres in a single day at least once a week for the last while. What I am surprised about is that I made it this far in my journey. I am a person who exercises. I am a person who signs up for marathons.

In 2021, I proved that I can carve out time to work on myself, not just work. I proved that I can stick with a physical activity long enough to build it into my routine, and make it something I miss when I am stuck at my desk. I attempted my first marathon. Who knows, it might not even be my last!

Now all I need to do is wait until the officials have confirmed the participant record count, and I get to proclaim proudly that I am a Guinness World Record™ holder. When the confirmation comes in, I’m taking Michael out to an Irish pub, where we shall hoist pints of Guinness to celebrate.

Guinness marathon race bib