Love On The Run

This piece started with my wanting to find out what makes my fitness-obsessed friends Gerry and Cheryl tick, but the hopeless romantic in me fell in love with their love story and I want to share it with you.

I adore hearing stories of how couples met – there is something magical about the moment two souls intersect which alters the rest of their lives. Call it what you will: serendipity, destiny, or divine providence, unions are nothing short of miraculous when you look at all the factors at play. Just think about it… of all the people the good Lord created past, present, and future, on this side of the planet, or the other – that two individuals unite and graft a life together because of that instant, blows my mind!

Gerry and Cheryl’s love story exhausts me – not that it’s arduous, but rather these two can’t sit still. They only have one speed – blur – and the fact that these adrenaline junkies stood still long enough to find each other makes their story even more remarkable.

Gerry, a trail runner, coach and trainer can’t recall a day without being active. He’s done it all: hockey, basketball, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, mountain biking, track and field, swimming, steeple chase, snowshoe running (good Lord, why?!), adventure racing, outdoor survival, – you name it, he’s laced up for it.

Cheryl didn’t take to fitness until she was 18, but once she got into it, she was hooked. She primarily did aerobics and eventually got into road running in her 30s. It wasn’t until a knee injury forced her into the gym and into a spin class Gerry was teaching, that BAM!, their magic moment happened. And the rest as they say, is history.

Gerry introduced Cheryl to the adventure lifestyle, taking her love of fitness to a new level. Over their courtship, they registered more miles on foot, than my last three vehicles combined! Gerry had no doubt he found ‘the one’, and proposed to the lovely Cheryl, dropping on one knee, in the middle of a 100-mile ultra-race. She said, ‘yes’, and off he dashed to complete the event, floating the rest of the way with a song in his heart and a grin on his face.

Ultra running

They had two weddings (darn ultra-runners, they outdo us mere mortals in every category!), a traditional wedding for their families, and a quintessential ‘Gerry and Cheryl’ wedding.

In their “Run by Wedding” the entire bridal party were 100-mile finishers. Even the pastor was a runner, but claimed theirs was the first wedding he had to train for. They ran on the picturesque Bruce Trail, and exchanged vows amongst the spruce and maples to the lullaby of a waterfall. To Gerry and Cheryl, it was “somewhere between heaven and nirvana.” If that’s the model, my next wedding will have to be somewhere between the Nutella and chip aisles at Longo’s.

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They honeymooned at Blue Mountain where they mountain biked through a swamp. Ahem… a swamp… really? That’s romantic? Listen up soulmate I have yet to intersect with, if there’s a swamp in our honeymoon, the Eiffel Tower better be right behind it!

Both Gerry and Cheryl admit that they couldn’t envision a life with someone who didn’t share their love of fitness. It’s not something they do, it’s something they are. They simply wouldn’t be compatible with someone who didn’t inspire them, or enhance their life. (Note to self: ixnay the Nutella-ay, and do not hookup with a food enabler-AY!)

They admit their best times are on the trail. They look for opportunities to challenge themselves and push their limits. They’re in their element when they’re in the elements! They run in thunderstorms, when it’s 30 below, and during ice storms. Gerry admits nothing excites him more than when his bride sees a storm rolling in and she gets a mischievous look in her eye, and suggests they “go out and play.”

Gerry and Cheryl’s “in sickness and in health” vow is being put to the test. Last November, Gerry was on the highway driving to work when he was cut off by a van. In order to avoid hitting anyone, he swerved and slammed into a concrete barrier at 100 km/hr. The car was totalled. Gerry managed to walk out of the car, but collapsed steps away. Thankfully, a nurse was nearby and stopped to assist him. He was rushed to the hospital and spent several days in ICU. He suffered serious trauma: crunched heart (which had to be restarted twice), smashed head and neck resulting in post-concussive brain damage, accelerator foot and leg locked and sprained, bruised pelvis, abdominal contusions, dislocated and sprained arm, and two broken ribs. The slightest movement was painful – it hurt to breathe, move, laugh and cry.

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Gerry is as tenacious with the healing process as he is with his fitness training. While his exemplary condition prior to the accident contributes to his surpassing all the timelines his specialists anticipated, Gerry continues to push his body beyond their recommendations. They urge him to curtail his activities, or he runs the risk of shutting off his brain, or his heart, which require rest in order to repair and recover.

These days, Cheryl works out on her own, and Gerry still coaches her. They have plans with a group of ultra friends to complete the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim ultra adventure and scale the Half Dome in Yosemite this fall, but due to the accident, Gerry will have to forgo it, which doesn’t sit well with his competitive and active soul.

Their drive perplexes me – it’s fascinating and foreign. I can’t relate to the desire to push one’s body like they do. I look for reasons not to work out… headache, sniffles, hangnail, yet for folks like Gerry and Cheryl, nothing short of a serious accident will stop them! Gerry admits to once spraining his ankle at the 11 km mark of a 56 km race. He continued an additional 14 km with the sprain before being forced to stop. These people be cray-cray!

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In an upcoming post, I will share more of our discussion regarding fitness. I went to Gerry and Cheryl seeking a prescription, but came away with a philosophy. In all honesty, the conversation was so profound, I’m still processing it. Like my young niece once said when her mom was teaching her math, “It’s making my eyebrows bleed.” Who knew fitness was so cerebral and romantic?!

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To view my Week 29 food journal, click here.

Say It Ain’t So

I had an extraordinary weekend without doing anything extraordinary. It started off like any other weekend – I woke up, stretched, wiped the sleep from my eyes and lingered in bed, staring at the ceiling making a mental list of all the checkmarks I needed to collect before I crawled back in at the end of the day. But the moment my feet hit the floor, the extraordinary began. I started to check things off my list at record speeds: I made and enjoyed a healthy breakfast; did 3 loads of laundry; cleaned the house top to bottom; wrote my first draft for my next plan; weeded the backyard; AND got a 45 minute workout in ALL BEFORE 11:45 AM! I even had time to procrastinate!

I didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I was curious to know what made me motor like Mrs. Howell when she ate radioactive beets on Gilligan’s Island. Then it dawned on me just as I finished my prescribed Biggest Loser 36 minutes of cardio, and was about to start my mobility routine. I have more energy because of the friggin’ exercise! NUTS!!!!

John Ratey, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, claims exercise will “supercharge your mental circuits to beat stress, sharpen your thinking, lift your mood, boost your memory, and much more” in his book, SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. DOUBLE NUTS! Only two weeks into working out regularly and I’m already charged, sharpened, lifted, boosted, and oozing much, much more of everything! CASHEWS, WALNUTS, AND ALMOND NUTS! How can I whine about hating exercise now that I’m seeing the benefits so quickly?

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I want to thank Tosca Reno, fitness guru, and author of The Start Here Diet (which I tested in Month 1 of 12 in 12) who recommended Dr. Ratey’s book. I had the privilege to meet Tosca in person a few weeks ago and she graciously taped a message for my readers….

To view my Week 28 Food Journal, click here.

If you read the blog in email format, you’ll need to click the title of the post (Say It Ain’t So) to be directed into the blog site to gain access to the video.

Every Day I’m Shufflin’

I’ve been blessed with some wonderful, colourful, and honest people in my life. One of these individuals is my friend and coworker, Jim, who recently lost a significant amount of weight himself by cutting back on his beloved “ranchin’ it” BBQs (which he has yet to invite me to). He’s eating more veggies and started walking on his treadmill, which by the sounds of it, was his clothes hanger for a time too.

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Jim has heard me complain about how busy I am, and how I don’t have time for exercise. He’s very encouraging of my journey and has given me some sage advice, which I respect since he’s gone from a before to an after:

Spend less time working out my fingers on the keyboard writing my blog posts, and use that time to work out the rest of me.

Well Jimbo (he hates it when I call him that), this one’s for you….

I never said it would be pretty!