Re-learning how to run – AGAIN

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Some of you may not find running once a week (or more) in 2018 impressive, especially since my max has been 5k. For me, it’s been a show of strength, both physically and emotionally.

Until grade 8, I thought I wasn’t an athlete. I had been told by classmates for too many years that since I had asthma, I couldn’t do sports. No teacher built up my confidence about team sports, so I still avoid them. School also doesn’t support the types of athleticism I loved (ballet, downhill skiing, and outdoor sports like hiking and canoeing).

In grade 8, my gym teacher looked at me and said, “Janessa, you can run.” So I did.

Every gym class in the spring we did laps outside, and I kept up with the boys who were in competitive soccer. It was the best feeling, especially when I won 400m or 800m sprints. In grade 9, I got to try hurdles. It felt like I was flying. From then on, whenever I’d be stressed, Mom would tell me to put my running shoes on, and I got that runner’s high. It was the first time that I was proud of my “thicc” legs. I began to regularly run 5ks, and loved it.

When I was 19, I was an idiot and slipped my L4-L5 disc lifting canoes. Since then I spent hours doing physio, crying, gained weight, went through a severe depression, and lost running- one of my favourite ways to de-stress. I had an amazing physiotherapist during my undergrad, who focused on getting me strong enough to re-learn how to run, but I didn’t take it to heart. I would skip working on core, and every time I’d run, I’d cry. I wasn’t running as fast or as hard as I wanted to, and some days I’d get 2k in and my back would hurt.

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I stopped for a long time, and focused on powerlifting. During my first year of my Master’s program, I realized that I was lacking in core strength that was preventing me from getting my lifts heavier. I started researching what was the best for core strength for powerlifters, and got strong at that. No more low-back pain.

I had a single, scary thought in fall 2017.

I wanted to run again.

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I set myself a goal of re-learning how to run in 2018. I had to run at least once a week, even if it was -20*C outside, no matter what distance worked for me. I also signed up for a MEC fun run April 15.

Progress was slow. I ran 7km/h, it took me weeks to get up to 5 k, and I still can’t run 5k unbroken. I didn’t get that joy when I put my running shoes on, it was just to prepare myself for the race, and because I wanted that runner’s identity back.

Things changed on April 7 when I decided that instead of running a 5k, I wanted to do sprints. They were hard. It hurt so much the next day. Bu

 I felt like I was flying again. I cried on the jog home.

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The next Tuesday, April 10, I went for a lunchtime 5k. I ran 2.5k unbroken, faster than 6km/h. I enjoyed it.

Today, Sunday, April 15, Nic and I ran a 5k MEC Race. It was very, very windy and cold, but it was my first time running 5k unbroken in years. I’m super proud that I did it in 29 minutes, and can’t wait to get down to 25min. I definitely thought I was going to pass out the last km, so I’m very thankful that Nic ran beside me the whole way to keep me going faster, and kept encouraging me. (Sorry you didn’t get a great time 😉 )

Tips for re-learning a sport:

  • You might not be the same athlete you were before your injury. That’s okay. You probably don’t even remember how hard it was to get to the level you were before. You have a second chance to be good at the sport, with more information about how to do it safely. Be humble about it. We all start somewhere.
  • Never stop your physio. Ever. Incorporate it as much as possible. I have to do core bracing, so I do that as I’m going to sleep. I make sure that my core exercises are at the end of every powerlifting session.
  • Warm up properly. I have some weird stretches to do before my lifting sessions, and that’s great. Don’t be embarrassed. My only excuse is when I’m panicked to find a squat rack 😉
  • Surround yourself with knowledgeable people. My chiropractor knows what’s wrong with me right away, and is a runner, so she has lots of great suggestions.  Ask lots of questions of people who are better at the sport than you are. I send my lifting videos to a friend, and post them on my public Instagram.
  •  Take time to recover, and vary your activities and intensities. While I was training for this race, I’d run home 5k at a slower pace, and do 2.5-3.5k runs at a faster pace. I also train at the gym 4 days a week, so my legs can get banged up. Lots of epsom salt baths, yoga, and foam rolling. When you’re starting over you need to make sure you take care of yourself.

Good luck!

We can do it!!

Handpoke experience - JanessaMann.com

My First Hand-Poke Tattoo with @Miniminiminatures

Handpoke Experience - JanessaMann.Com

This past weekend I went to Toronto, and managed to find time to get a beautiful handpoke/stick-and-poke tattoo of two mint sprigs. My friend Ang had gotten a bunch of pieces from Odette(@miniminiminiatures), and I knew I wanted something fun.

Nic had a blast hanging out with Lupe, Odette’s boston terrier!

It was really fun collaborating with Odette on how exactly I wanted the poke to look. She had sent me some sketches, and then we worked together to chose the exact angles and the tufts etc. What is the significance of the mint? I love mint.

Handpoke Tattoo Experience - JanessaMann.com
Two sprigs of mint

Cleanliness:

Some people wondered how clean a handpoke tattoo can be, but Odette’s studio is super professional, clean, and comfortable. She had a table (like a massage table) set up in her studio, proper gloves, proper needles, cleaning supplies, etc. All the things that you should ALWAYS look for when you’re getting a tattoo. It’s creating an open wound, and putting foreign matter into your body. No glove, no love.

Pain:

The only real difference between the poke on my bicep and the machine-made tattoos on my feet is the level of pain. On my feet, my tattoos felt like a power drill into my bone. On the arm, it was like a long allergy test (minus the itching). It took about an hour with going over it a couple times. Handpokes, since the needle is smaller, takes longer even though the art is usually smaller.

Handpoke experience - JanessaMann.com

Aftercare:

I used an oil cleanser to be super gentle, dried it with paper towel, and moisturized it with shea butter. It seems to be healing well, and there’s no redness.

Cost:

Cost always depends on the studio, the artist, size, time, etc. One small foot tattoo (about 3 inches long, narrow writing) cost me $120. This tattoo which was about the same size, but way more talent is involved, was cheaper. Studios often charge by hour, but an individual may be able to adjust their budget for you.

I’m super pumped about my newest tattoo (and the fourth one is coming in January, it’ll be a big rib piece!) and can’t wait for it to heal.

The Drake Devonshire – Prince Edward County

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.Com

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com

In July, we took a weekend trip to Prince Edward County with some friends. We had beautiful weather, and loved checking out the wineries, a cider company, and breweries.

Saturday night we went to the Drake Devonshire for  our 5-a-7. The location was beautiful. So great.

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com

It’s got the same cool, mid-century feel as the Drake Hotel in Toronto, but more Palm Springs inspired with all the outdoor aspects due to it being right on Lake Ontario. I would absolutely love to stay there and wake up with their yoga classes on the waterfront, and a phenomenal brunch.

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com
*cheering emoji*

They had some delicious mixed drinks. I got their Wanderlust (grapefruit, cucumber, mint, raspberry, lemon, seltzer water, and added tequila). We also had their “loaded potatoes” with a delicious spicy sauce.

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com
the lakeshore

Wouldn’t that be an awesome view for your morning coffee?!

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the patio

The Drake Devonshire - JanessaMann.com

Certainly a boutique hotel and restaurant is a little more expensive than others, but I’d say it was worth it. The Drake was wonderful, and I’m looking  forward to trying it again next time we head out that way!

Mother’s Day in Ottawa

Mother's Day in Ottawa - JanessaMann.Com

I’m very lucky that Nic and I live in Ottawa near our parents. The Saturday before Mother’s Day, I invited my moms out to lunch. We had an amazing brunch at Wild Oat in the Glebe (definitely going back!) and enjoyed a walk through Ottawa’s Tulip Festival.

I got the wild breakfast plate, two eggs, homemade bread (with their own jam!), yam hashbrowns, and sauteed vegetables. SO good. I can’t wait to go again!

Mother's Day - JanessaMann.Com

Mother's Day - JanessaMann.Com
Magnolias

I definitely love being back in Ottawa again – great to be with family, and the city is so beautiful!

Central Experimental Farm

Looking for something fun to do in the spring in Ottawa? The Central Experimental Farm has lots of baby animals that you can meet. Obviously one of my favourite things to do!

We went to the farm with Nic’s family, and the piglets, baby goats, lambs, kits (baby bunnies), calves, etc., were so adorable. For lunch we went to Rosa’s on Dow’s Lake, then walked around Hogs Back Falls.

Nearly done second term of grad school… Where have I been?

2 Terms of Grad School in  - JanessaMann.Com
Studying hard!

Where have I been? That’s a great question.

This term (January-April) I have been taking 2 courses for grad school (full-time), working as Mennonite Central Committee Canada’s Ottawa Office research internship, still at my part-time House of Commons job (30 hours of work a week total), singing in Cantata Singers of Ottawa and church choir, as well as volunteering as a youth sponsor for church. Sometime between all that, I get to the gym, hang out with my husband, family, and friends, and attempt to keep up with hobbies.

Yup.

You read that right.

No wonder I haven’t felt interested in posting here.

I have to admit it though, I have missed having this outlet to share my life. Get ready for hopefully one post a week.

On top of my regular school work, this term I have to submit my research proposal. More on that later.

2 Terms of Grad School in - JanessaMann.Com

Looking forward, this summer term (May-August) I’ll be on co-op. That’s going to be my first time working full-time for the whole summer. That seems strange considering all the jobs I’ve had, but sometimes it’s been a couple part-time jobs combined, or working at camp 2 months of the summer only. Obviously the paycheck is going to be phenomenal, as well as having weekends off (last summer I worked Saturday morning and Sunday evenings) to go camping or to the cottage.

 

A Statement of Affirmation and Acceptance

Affirmation - JanessaMann.Com
It’s time to heal in God’s presence

Sunday night, my home church finally voted on a statement of affirmation for the acceptance and participation of queer Christians in church membership, baptism, leadership, and pastorship. It’s been a long, emotional year for our congregation, and I’m so happy to see that we got an 89% acceptance of the affirmation statement. I can’t wait to see where this takes our church!

I had prepared a statement to read at the congregational meeting. I knew that I was mostly talking to a small number of families who were not affirming, but I needed to remind them how much OMC (and churches in general) should be a place of refuge. I also took the time to thank everyone in our church for being my home. Of course, I was in tears the whole time. And managed to get a lot of other people to tear up.

OMC has been my home my whole life. I was born and raised in this church, was baptised here, was married here, and every time I come back, I feel comforted. I was accepted when I was angry at God for injuries and mental health, and encouraged to seek healing in God’s word. There are so many wonderful, loving people in this community who have shaped who I am, and I am thankful for that. I see so much potential in our church for living into our Christian faith through our words and actions. A large part of this means supporting the statement of affirmation in each of the four aspects. God made us in his image, and loves us for who we are. The church is supposed to be the safest, most encouraging place in the world. Jesus taught us to love each other, without fail. I urge you to consider what we are teaching our youth and children about God’s love if we even remotely consider excluding queer Christians from church participation. This year has been so hard for those in the congregation who are queer or an ally. This morning, we sang about having the strength to love our brothers and sisters: for some of you, this process will be very scary, but OMC should be a welcoming home for all of us. I pray that God will mend our broken hearts so we can move forward in his Kingdom.

I’m so proud of so many people who stood up and expressed their feelings. There were so many beautiful “mic drop” moments, and the youth and young adults started doing poetry slam “snaps” to cheer people on silently. Thanks for all the words of encouragement after the meeting. Thank you to Carrie for being so strong throughout this, we’re all indebted to you. Thank you to the Discernment Committee and Church Council for the challenging work done over the last year.

I’m so ready for queerness to not be a thing, and people to just love each other for who they are. Like I said, God made us, and loves us. Let’s love each other.