Part II: Where and What is Home: Finding Home on the Gravel Roads

Phase Five: Home is a State of Mind

When I began working with a new mental performance guide in Victoria, my initial goal was to work on consciously tapping into a mental high-performance arena. I had gone through my PB races and the common denominator was my head space in all of them. I wanted his help to learn how I could plan to get into this headspace on demand. This was a tall order, but I do believe we made headway as I did manage to run multiple PB times every year I have raced. 

In my last year at the AC West Hub, I realized I was no longer working on strategies on how to groom my high-performance arena. Instead I was using my mental performance time to work on strategies of:

– How to shield myself and cope when I overheard teammates gossiping

– How to complete my workouts based on what I need, even though it was different than teammates. 

– How to belong to a team where I felt I had to hide and belittle my self

– How to win a race knowing my success will likely not be celebrated

– Why do I feel guilty doing well in a race and in key workouts?

– How to find “my space” by warming up in the corner and training on the outskirts of the team

Somehow I managed to lose my focus and shift away from my initial goal. 

The little voice was clearly indicating things were wrong and for the first time in 2019 I realized the only place I felt homesick was at the track. After a month of training camp and a return to our home-based training centre in Victoria, I did my first post-flight flush workout and confided I felt hollow, empty, and tired. This was devastating to me because the track had previously served as a place I associated a feeling of home and belonging. I don’t have an exact date of when, but in that moment I knew the Victoria track was no longer a place of home for me. Accepting this realization was difficult because outside of the track I had a beautiful home and life I had created on the island with my work colleagues, neighbours, and friends. These good-byes were very difficult, but the relief and freedom I felt in my decision to continue with my next chapter in sport gave me hope for what was to come next. 

One would think coming to my hometown would be an easy way to feel at home. But I was different, the city had changed, and I was very jet-lagged. I realized home had become unfamiliar. My family home still had the same layout, but I was out of touch with it. Likely because I was out of touch with my self. While I did my year review and planning for 2020  I realized that this year was scheduled to be Tokyo 2020 Olympic Year and I revisited my mental goals to achieve my high-performance arena. I realized I had been there once I made my decision to move home back to Regina. It felt good there. I ran PB Fast at Nationals, in the South, and Europe by embracing this HP arena. 

Without immediate races on my horizon, I have been working on how I can tap into this space beyond a race scenario. This ultimately has been leading me back to the question: What is home and how do I get there? 

Despite the obvious chaos of COVID-19 this year I spent a lot of time on the gravel roads outside the city because the track, weight room, pool, and well pretty much all of the City of Regina was closed. Open sky, gravel roads, the wind, and Adrea-time. There was comfort, beauty, snow, sunshine, animals, sunsets, and ultimately growth. That go for a run “kumbaya” feeling where I belong, feel safe, and am welcome. Away from the city noise, away from racing and every day conflicts. Just running in the middle of nowhere present in the now. The more I normalized the gravel roads into my new normal training grounds, I slowly started finding myself slipping back into my Home state-of-mind which was becoming synonymous with my high-performance arena. I was running free. I was looking forward to running. I was doing 200m repeats in a straight line. My passion was coming back. 

Eventually the track re-opened in an unexpected unveiling of the SK Re-open plan. When I made my way onto the Outdoor Douglas Park track I was startled that I dreaded being there and how uncomfortable I was. Not only was I shocked to see other people, but a part of me immediately cringed and felt uncomfortable. That first night I went to the track I found out it closed 30 minutes later, but in that brief time I walked back to my car and realized I didn’t want to go back to the track. I wanted to continue my workouts on the gravel roads. I wasn’t ready to leave home. (Flashback to my Victoria experience of homesickness!) I convinced myself it was because the gravel roads were closer than the track and this saved me a trip across the city. There were fewer people which made it easier to implement social + physical distancing to ultimately feel safe. Plus the track had restricted and often changing hours outside of when I initially planned to run. 

After x4 weeks of workouts and telling myself the above story, I finally acknowledged the real reason I didn’t want to go to the track. The track had become a place of business, work, and a reminder of the loss of home I had previously felt at the track. On the other hand the gravel roads had become home, a place of thriving, fitness, friendly neighbours, and a place where I felt passion towards running and my sport. My question became how do I feel at home at the track again? 

Starting with once a week I slowly made an effort to be at the track. For strides. For a warm-up before a run around the lake. For drills. Slowly acknowledging the previous shielding and other strategies I had been previously relying on to be at a track. After a few weeks I started realizing I didn’t need to do this anymore. It was okay for me to return to the track and in fact my return was welcomed by friendly and familiar faces. 

I finally realized, I was home. 

Recently I met with U. Regina Teammate Arthur Ward and fellow Olympic hopeful Astrid Nyame to do a photoshoot with Arthur Images highlighting how Saskatchewan athletes have been staying ready and motivated in our time away from competition and being back at home in SK. I am thrilled with Arthur’s project and how it turned out. Seeing my interview in filmed footage reminds me my journey this year with COVID was to fall back in love with running, and learn the lesson of how to move forward from loss. Now that I am home, physically and mentally, I am ready to continue building my empire with the hope for a 2021 competition season. Whether or not it comes to fruition. I will be ready. 

Sportrait Story: Gravel Roads + the Track By Arthur Images

#AdreaMade #TeamAlger #StayReady

What is the Opposite of “Racism?”

White Privilege. Racism. Black Lives Matter. REDress Project. Colonization.

Conversations about these topics are necessary and uncomfortable.

Why does seeing these words make us initially feel uncomfortable? 

Feel Guilt? Feel Shame? Feel Hurt? Feel Injustice? 

Perhaps the gift of being asked to stay home for safety from COVID-19, has also given us time to slow down and spend time in our spiritual home inside ourselves. By making time to check-in with now, it is obvious the old “normal” we previously accepted is ready for an update. In the safety of our internal homes it is my hope we can re-imagine a new “now” that is inclusive, peaceful, and accepting of one human-race.

The last few days my newsfeed has been full of close friends, fellow athletes, and neighbours sharing their personal stories and experiences of racism, fear of police, teaching their children safety, and their experiences being judged because of their skin colour. As a female, white, Canadian I can more than ever feel and be aware of the white privilege I have. In hearing the stories and injustices both abroad and in my own backyard, I also feel guilt and shame, that I have not leveraged my privilege to improve the environment for those around me, and that I am not more educated. To those I have let down, I am deeply sorry. 

The heaviness, the pain, the injustice, the fear, the racism. Thank-you to the bravery of those sharing their story, telling it straight. I hear you. I see you. I am trying to stand up for you. I feel my own ignorance. My choice and privilege to not have to know. It is my intention moving forward to no longer choose ignorance. Racism is not a subject that is only happening south of the border, or far away. Racism is unfortunately also prevalent in my own back yard in Canada. On the prairies. Towards Immigrants. Black Lives Matter movements. Indigenous Communities. Refugees.

It hurts. It’s frustrating. It’s painful. 

How do we make this right? What actions do I take? How to implement change? How does my community begin healing? 

I am flooded with questions. How to undo generations of learned hatred? How to teach love, kindness, acceptance, compassion? 

How to educate and start the conversations of such sensitive subject matter? How to create a safe space for healing when it has been repeatedly demonstrated racism is tolerated?

 How does the awareness start? It already has. 

Residential Schools. Colonization. Indian Act. REDress Project. Highway of Tears. 

Black Lives Matter. Security. Justice. Fear. MLK Assassination. 

Racism is not a new problem. These last few days I am reminded of the embarrassment of my own ignorance. Rather than repressing and ignoring this emotional reaction and surge of public interest, I am acknowledging the elephant in the room. Racism. There is a lot I do not know. This means there is a lot I can learn. The research has begun. Writing is how I make sense of chaos, it’s how I get grounded and reconnect to my self. I feel shame for my silence, my ignorance. I want to be better. Today I am writing and sharing this in an effort to start conversation. To acknowledge there is a lack of education, and accepting now is when this healing and awareness need to start. 

What’s next? 

After the recent outpouring of news and stories of racism, I found myself wondering, What is the opposite of racism? My own list was: Acceptance, Inclusive, peace, human-race, together.

I am disappointed at how short this list is and that the answer was not immediate. Hoping for more, I decided to ask Google the same question, what is the opposite of racism? The results:
Anti-racism, tolerant, multi-cultural, fair, impartial, unbiased, open-minded, equitable. In a quick search on my phone, it was difficult to find an antonym for racism, meanwhile endless examples of synonyms and definitions of racism populated my search. I did however, find there were others who shared the same question- but also lacked a satisfactory answer. There was unanimous agreement, the problem is racism. The next step, and my question, is identifying and taking action towards the solution. I am left concerned the solution is not as clear as the problem. Is it acceptance? peace? Inclusion? Or is it time to innovate new diction?

I want to honour the injustices of cases like George Floyd, the missing indigenous women of our Canadian community, and other long list of people who have been lost to racism. But I feel crippled in that I do not know how. I am still learning the best way to do this. For me, at this time, it makes sense to share my own learning curve, ask for guidance, and hopefully inspire helpful conversation and dialogue.

Actions to take now: 

– Education. The first step to solving anything is knowing what needs to be solved. 

– Read. Most of us have access to Google. And access to a library full of written literature and media. Search any of these key words. The resources already exist. 

– Listen to those sharing their stories locally. Do more than hear them. Listen. Demonstrate Compassion. Be Kind.

Choose Vocabulary. Think about the dialogue passing through one’s own lips. What am I saying? Is it helpful? Is it harmful? Is it a joke? At whose expense?

– Stand up and correct ignorance from family, friends, colleagues, teammates. 

– Have public conversations outside of social media. 

– Research. Investigate locally, how to make a tangible, positive change.

– Ask, does this feel right?

I realize I am not an expert. I realize I am only one person. I am trying to learn. I want to be better. I am certain this could have been written much better, but it reflects where I am at today.

Is there hope? It is my belief hatred is a learned choice of behaviour. Because it is a choice, this means there is also the choice to choose love. 

Changing behaviour is undoubtedly difficult, but I remain hopeful it is possible. Let’s make better choices. Together. 

Starter Resources:

http://www.redressproject.org/

https://www.obama.org/anguish-and-action/

https://www.oise.utoronto.ca/abed101/what-is-reconciliation/

ibrary.ca/services/reconciliation

Team Canada will not be at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

This is a powerful headline we received from the Canadian Olympic Committee last night. 

Throughout today more news has come through:

1) Athletics Canada has made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Track and Field Trials. This is the follow-up information we received at 12:30pm this afternoon by e-mail

2) IOC member Dick Pound released information the Olympic Games are likely to be post-poned. (Future Date: TBD). This is follow-up information received at 2:30pm this afternoon by CBC, Flo Track, and Social Media.

Today’s post takes a look at my less than 24 hour roller coaster ride of emotions in processing how these decisions affect me as a Canadian Athlete:


Continue reading for my full reflection:

Some of my initial emotions reacting to an uncertain future included:

(1) Disappointment: (of the EGO) This was year #5 of working towards my goal representing Canada at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it feels disappointing to consider the opportunity may cease to exist.

Reality: This is a gut-check. Clearly I care about reaching my Olympic goals, especially going through the mental drill of having this 2020 opportunity taken away rather than post-poned.

Reflection: As much as I care about my opportunity as an identified athlete to this Olympic team, I know I care more about the well-being of my friends, family, and human-being’s in general. Although the decision is direct, I agree with it, and am proud to be part of a sport body that prioritizes Global Human Health over the Olympic Games. 

(2) Fear: (FOMO) What if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) disregards Team Canada’s Choices and 2020 Tokyo Olympics happen without the Maple Leaf?

Reality: This is a risk COC has taken on behalf of all Team Canada athletes and there are 3 scenarios that result from yesterday’s decision:

1) 2020 Tokyo Olympics proceed – without Canada

2) 2020 Tokyo Olympics cancelled

3) 2020 Tokyo Olympics post-poned.

Reflection: These are not decisions I have control over. Seeing my options listed as such, I am hopeful for a Tokyo 2021 Olympics, but understand patience and flexibility will be required should this outcome come into effect. 

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(3) Guilt: The “What-if scenario”: If I was an athlete who participated in 2020 Olympics as is, I am certain I would feel guilty competing knowing I would likely be contributing to the second wave of this pandemic while putting my own, and others’ health at risk to testing positive with COVID-19.

Reflection: Even though the idea of giving up the 2020 Olympic dream feels like a bummer, I am extremely well off. I am healthy, at home, and fully supported by my family. As more information and decisions are provided, I am grateful to escape “what-if- scenario’s” and finally begin moving forwards with solid decisions. As the day continues, I also feel more deep emotions of:

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(4) Relief:  I can finally relieve the pressure to properly balance prioritizing my Tokyo Olympic Goals and the my Global Goals of:

1) COVID-19 Relief and 

2) Restoration of Global health

Reflection: Like most people, there are numerous people in my core support circle of family and friends who have been heavily affected by the actions taken in response to COVID-19. None of which have been easy for anyone to digest.

On a personal note, Both my Mom, cousin, and many friends work in the hospital. They already know COVID-19 is now here in the province of SK, know they will be coming into contact with it, know the risks of this virus, and have been informed (in hindsight) they will likely run out of PPE (personal protective equipment), ventilators, and potentially space for patients while caregiving. Yet they show up, putting themselves at risk, to deliver the care all humans are worthy of receiving. These people mean so much to me, the thought of more time to support while they navigate this as frontline workers brings me immense relief.

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(5) Hope + Motivation For Tokyo 2021,

As I was writing this reflection, the IOC released information early that the Tokyo 2020 games may be postponed. This means athletes will not be in Tokyo this Summer. Instead we will be with our families and building our community stronger in lieu of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Once we achieve our Global Goal of Good Health, then you will see us back in our appropriate competitions. This is an idea I believe in. 

Reflection: When my surroundings feel murky, I constantly check-in with WHY I do what I do. Like every other day, I’m sticking to my Why: 

The daily opportunity to be and achieve Greatness- both as a person and an athlete. 

Ultimately, my Why is pro-actively making the choice live my life as a journey in the pursuit to be, and facilitate greatness.


In Conclusion:

Thanks to all who read through my emotional roller-coaster. Information is empowering, and I am motivated to begin seeing light at the end of the tunnel. 

The modified Olympic Dream is tentatively Tokyo 2021. Like you, many plans have and will continue to adjust, but I am ready to lean in and embrace the chaos. 

Step #1: We’re all in this together, let’s Flatten the Curve:

– Wash your hands 

– Embrace physical and social distancing are a must

– Be Kind

Step #2: Shift gears into tackling Global Health to then plan for a magical Tokyo 2021:

– The Journey Continues!

#Tokyo2021

Much love, 

Adrea