Monday, February 22, 2016

Oh how the time flies by

I'm ashamed at how long it's been since I've written. I rather like writing, especially knowing that very few people actually read it, it's more for my enjoyment of actually getting my thoughts down rather than entertaining readers. I've been overwhelmed with thoughts lately and it's time to let them flow. I'll be coming up on two years in PEI this April. Hard to believe it's gone by so fast. I've settled into life here, finally just got a part-time teaching contact and have really been enjoying Crossfit. Problem is, after almost two years here I still don't have any friends. I've got acquaintances, I've got workout buddies at the gym, but as I realized tonight, I don't have a single friend I could call up to bounce thoughts off of.

I find it hard here especially, people are friendly, but because they've mostly had the same friends their entire lives they don't need or have room for new friends. Not to mention a large part of many people's weekends revolves around drinking and "going out". They problem I'm finding is that I lie in a limbo of sorts: too old to hang with the twenty-somethings, but too childless to hang with the parent crew. It makes for a lot of lonely afternoons and evenings. Not to say I don't enjoy my alone time, I do. I actually prefer to do a lot of things alone, but I definitely miss my days abroad with endless friends to adventure with. I miss having girlfriends to chat with, friends to check out a movie or museum with, you know people who are genuine and actually want to spend time with you. In my experience here(prepare yourself for a generalization) people tend to be nice to your face but mean and judgemental behind your back. Obviously not everyone does that, but it seems to be a trend with some.

I find it much harder to acclimate to life in PEI than anywhere else I have lived. It constantly has me wondering why I can't seem to make connections here when I've never had these struggled anywhere else.
I wish people would just be straightforward instead of the fake niceness I've experienced. I continue to try to make friends regardless of the negative experiences that keep happening, but it can be frustrating and disappointing at times.

Wah wah wah, my woe is me rant is over. Tomorrow's a new day and I'll keep trucking along.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Can't get out of my own head

It's been six months since I returned to Canada from my life abroad, it still blows my mind how much my life has changed. Since moving to PEI in May, life has been a whirlwind of classes, assignments and work. Summer time is a great time to be on the island and I have been able to keep busy with friends hitting the beach and other fun adventures. With how busy I am, my mind is often filled and doesn't have time to reminisce or miss the life I lived in Korea, but every once in awhile those thoughts sneak back in and I wonder what my next step will be. And now I'm on vacation so I have ample time to think and over-think things.

When I first came back I had a definite plan: Finish school, find a job in Dubai. That was it. But as they do, circumstances have changed. I'm beginning to rethink that plan. I turned 30 this year, maybe it's time for me to "settle down" get a job in Canada and make a life for myself. I wrestle with these thoughts daily. I miss the travelling life so much, yet I can't help but think that maybe I'll miss out on things like marriage and kids if I keep travelling. I find myself mulling over the options, go to Dubai, stay in the Maritimes, teach up North. And to complicate matters even more, I unexpectedly found myself a wonderful boyfriend who I happen to dig very much. So now not only do I have fears and anxieties about what my next step will be, I am navigating the complex maze that is a relationship while trying to subside the fear of getting my heartbroken yet again.

I know I struggle with over-thinking things, and I know others do the same, but it's hard to see it from another perspective. This one year course will help me move on to my career as a teacher that much I know, but everything else hangs in the balance. Everyone always says you have to just be happy, however, sometimes I feel like happiness, true happiness, is just a myth everyone talks about but no one ever truly achieves. It's so hard to make decisions for your life, how can one just be happy? My boyfriend is great, very patient and forgiving. I want to commit fully to him but I still have that fear, that I will get abandoned yet again and be alone to fend for myself again. That fear makes me think that maybe I should just plan for life on my own and never try to share myself with anyone. Maybe I'm just not the marrying type? Maybe I'm not meant to have kids and a family of my own. Maybe I'm not worth the trouble. And maybe I'm just over-thinking things again.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Oh hello thirties, you look fun!

I know I've been slacking on the posts lately, its been a combination of not having motivation and being so busy with school that I don't have time! But I figured since last weekend I turned 30 that it was time for an update!

We've all read the posts women write freaking out about turning 30, and I'm not going to lie, I definitely had those moments. I look back at what I thought my life would be like at 30 and this is not what I had imagined. Younger Caley always thought she'd be married by now with a career and possibly kids. But as it happens, present Caley is unmarried, childless and currently back in university attempting to get another degree so she can actually get a decent paying job and support herself. It's not all sad sob stories though, I did accomplish quite a lot on my pre-thirties bucket list, and I've definitely done a whole lot more than I ever imagined. Those adventures and experiences have shaped who I am. I am not mature by any means, I still laugh at dirty words and I think like a kid most of the time, but I have begun to realize I am who I am and that's okay. I don't drink anymore and I don't feel the need to provide an excuse for why. I wake up early and I like it. I have zero desire to go to a club or to go partying anymore. I like tea, lots of it. I like staying home on my couch and cozying up to a movie. Do I still want to see the world and have adventures? Heck yes!! There are so many places to go and people to meet! But I am beginning to see the benefits of settling down, starting a life and supporting myself.

I am excited to be in my thirties now. I made a lot of mistakes in my twenties and learned from some of them(still waiting to learn those other lessons!) but I am pretty sure my thirties are going to be wayyy better!

I think the biggest thing I am learning as I grow up is that it's okay to do the things you want to do, and be the person you are. Am I super annoying in the early morning? You betcha! Am I antisocial and introverted sometimes? Absolutely! Am I overemotional and stressed out over ridiculous things often? Yup! Do I jump into things headfirst without considering the consequences? Yes ma'am! But those are just a few of the things that make me the person I am, and I am learning to love that person more and more everyday. There is only one me, love it or leave it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Locker room rant: Ladies of North America, it's time to embrace the naked!

Tonight I realized something that has really changed in my mind since living in Asia. There I was at hot yoga, just finished up class and in the locker room unwinding and getting ready to head home. The locker room is rather small and only has two washrooms. As I strip down and change into clean undies, I head over to the washrooms to pee, only to find both of them full. As I stand there and wait, I realize the occupants are not using the washroom, but changing their clothes!! SERIOUSLY LADIES?!! You would think that at a yoga studio, of all places women would be more at peace with their bodies and not feel ashamed about getting naked in front of other women. Why is it that people in North America think/feel that way? I've been noticing since attending this studio that women are often changing in the shower stalls or hiding themselves behind towels to put on their bras and undies. COME ON PEOPLE!! No one cares what you look like naked!

After living in Korea where it's bare all or go home, I've become very comfortable with walking around the locker room nude, or in my undies. Here in Canada, I find myself almost feeling ashamed yet again for being that person who bares it all and doesn't care. Why is it that our society almost forces us to feel like we need to hide our bodies, especially in an environment that is all about loving yourself and your body? If you're going to pay exorbitant amounts of money to belong to a yoga studio and dress yourself in all the expensive yoga clothes, at least put some effort into actually trying to feel comfortable in your own body. I mean I do not always have the highest of self-esteems, but I sure as hell can get naked in a locker room!!! We need to start changing the way our culture thinks. We are teaching the next generation of children to be ashamed of their bodies, thus continuing the ever growing number of women with eating disorders and body image disorders.

Rant over. Please return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hot yoga might be changing my life.

Well I'm a week through my 12 month Bachelor of Education, only 51 more to go!! This week was great and went by so quickly. Monday we began with orientation, we got to meet the profs and the other 60 some people in the program. It was a lot of fun and I was pleased to meet a handle full of others who have taught in Korea as well. It was nice to have that to bond over.

Classes were great. I am amazed at the enthusiasm from all of the profs. They are all very passionate about teaching and it definitely shows. Our classes are 3 hours long, but for the most part they go by in the blink of an eye. Everyone in the program is great, super friendly and excited.

I've been going to hot yoga for two weeks now and I am shocked at how much it has changed my life so far. I've been going to the 6am class before school and it feels amazing to start the day with yoga practice.

But the biggest thing I have noticed is how well I am sleeping. For the past six months I have been having a terrible time sleeping, I had become dependent on taking Benedryl every night to help me get a good nights rest. In just two short weeks that has all changed. I've been sleeping clear through the night, going to bed around 10pm and waking up at 6am without an alarm. It has been amazing!!! If that alone is the only benefit I ever get from hot yoga then I'll be happy! I think there will be more however, I've noticed I am a lot calmer and more patient already as well.

Getting out of bed at 5:15am to bike down to the studio is tough, but the benefits are worth the effort it takes!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Settling in to a new life

Anyeong from Charlottetown! I've been spending the past week settling into this new city I will be calling my home for the next year or so. I moved down Saturday morning and with the help of my little brother, Jeremy, got my apartment set up.

I bought a couch and love seat off kijiji from a guy who lived in the same building. Got a nice deal on them and they are almost brand new from ikea! The apartment is really cute and has lots of storage space. It's in a pretty decent location, super close to school and the farmers market! 

It's been nice relaxing and getting settled on my own. I've been out on my bike everyday exploring and finding out what is nearby. I've joined Dynamic Fitness and have been going to hot yoga and spinning classes. I've done hot yoga before, but only in Korea where it was difficult because I didn't understand a lot. I am surprised by how much I enjoy it here, I can't get enough! I've been going everyday and love it!! I think it will really help me in my training for the marathon this year, among other benefits. 

I've spent the afternoon today sending out applications for jobs. Hoping I can pick up a part time serving gig somewhere soon. Would be nice to have some income again!! I am looking forward to classes starting next week, I think it's going to be a really great year! I was able to get out for a run yesterday morning so I used it to explore a bit of downtown. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

So many races!

Well I am pencilling in so many races to the calendar. I'm going to Fredericton in a couple weeks to run the Fredericton Half Marathon and I just signed up for the CIBC Run for the Cure in October. I used to do it every year when I was in Fredericton so I figured I'm back so I should start again!

If you'd like to support me by making a donation, click the link below and donate away!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dentist and a sunny run!

Today is day 10 of my Whole 30 and I am finally feeling like I have my energy back. I was up and ready to get moving early this morning so I went for a walk with my mom then I headed downtown to the dentist for a cleaning! I'm embarrassed to say it's been over two years since I've had a cleaning. I used to be a twice a year girl, but then after some bad experiences in Korea I just kinda get putting it off. It was nice to get them cleaned again finally by my dentist! I've been going to the same one since I was a kid, they are practically family down there.

After my appointment I laced up my new runnings shoes and decided to go for a run downtown since I was already there! I got my new Brooks Pure Connect 2's in the mail this morning so I was anxious to try them out.

I've been running in Brooks Pure Grit's for the last few months and I really like them, so I figured the Pure Connect's would be just as good. Trying them out today was fun. They felt great on, a little snug in the toe box compared to the Pure Grit's but I think they will be fine for street running. They were nice and light with just the right amount of cushioning. They definitely helped get me through the windy 8KM of hills today! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 7 and guess what I did?!

Good morning folks! Today is day 7 of my Whole 30 challenge and I feel like I have a bit more energy than yesterday at least. I spent the morning searching for apartments in Charlottetown and getting ready to go down to PEI next week to look for one. While I was searching apartments I also stumbled across a PEI running club and was taking a look at the races for this year. One caught my eye and something inside of me decided to sign up.

Yup, everyone was right. When I said I'd never run another marathon again, I may have fibbed just a bit. Up until recently I really had no desire to run another one, but lately, I've been getting that tiny voice in the back of my head telling me to try. It tells me that if I train hard I can better my time. So on impulse(like many of my decisions) I signed up for the full marathon on October 19th.

Looks like it's time to get training huh? I filled out my training schedule and it will start strictly mid August, but until then I will keep running consistently and hopefully this time around I can avoid being sick and get to race day feeling strong!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Whole 30 Day 6

Since I spent the bulk of my trip in the states eating everything in sight, when I arrived home my jeans were a bit tighter and my face a bit rounder. So I decided to embark on my second round of the Whole 30 program.

It's 30 days of pretty strict Paleo. No grains, no dairy, no added sugar. I've done the Whole 30 strictly once before and I try to eat pretty close to it most of the time (except while on vacation, obviously). The first couple days are always pretty easy for me. My body loves the fresh feeling it gets from eating clean, but after the first few days the cravings start. Specifically I have a mad sugar addiction, it is going to be worse this time I think because of how much sugar and junk I consumed in America. (Damn you Reeses Pieces!)

The lovely folks at Whole 30 came up with a timeline of how your body generally reacts to cutting everything out.  Being unemployed  and stuck at home most days makes this endeavour a bit harder. When cravings hit all I want to do is eat! Luckily my parents eat relatively healthy so there are not too many options in their house to slip up with, although I know there is ice cream in the freezer! Must avoid ice cream, must avoid ice cream.

I'm going to try to write my meals down to keep track and keep myself in line. 

Today's breakfast(note I know smoothies are generally frowned upon during the whole30, this one is technically okay, but I mostly had it because I didn't feel like cooking)

Smoothie: 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup pineapple, 1/2 cup mango, 1 cup almond milk, cinnamon, ginger, organic brown rice protein powder
Small apple cut up
6 almonds, 6 cashews
Cup of chai tea

Lunch: 1/2 avocado mixed with can of white tuna in water, 
4 cherry tomatoes
8 almonds
1/2 banana

Snack: Cashew Larabar

Dinner: Spaghetti squash topped with homemade tomato sauce & extra lean ground beef

Meals are typically not a hard part for me, I normally eat very healthy meals, it's snacking that gets me. Especially at night, I find I crave sugar so much! Hopefully this 30 days without it will help! 

Even though there is still tons of snow on the ground I haven't biked in months so I got my mountain bike out today, tuned her up and went for a 30 minute spin. It was crazy windy which made it a pretty good, heart pumping workout! Can't wait to be able to bike again everyday! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life after Korea: Reverse culture shock and loneliness.

I knew that leaving Korea would be a tough thing for me to do. I'm a creature of routine. I loved Korea and everything it had to offer, the endless opportunities and adventures, friends available at a moments notice, miles and miles of running trails. It was hard to decide to leave. And when I made that decision I knew that assimilating back into life in Canada would be a hard, slow process. I didn't realize how quickly the sadness and depression would set in.

My hometown is very small, something like 12,000 people, very few jobs and not a lot going on. I've been here less than a week and I already feel trapped. I feel anxious to get out, to get moving, to a big city, any city, with noise and cars and people, lots and lots of people. I never thought that a day would come where I actually missed those things. I miss people bumping into me. I miss getting lost in the sea of Koreans on the subway into Seoul. It's easy to be invisible in Korea. I miss the independence. The ability to jump on a train or bus and be anywhere I want to be. I miss my usual Saturday plans of hashing all day. I miss my Crossfit community. I miss my hash family. I miss my kindy kids. I miss it all.

I'm finding it hard to relate to people here in Canada. No one understands what life is like in another country. And no one cares either. And why should they? Their lives are here, it's not even in their realm of knowledge. I find myself grasping on to the friendships I've made in Korea. I don't want to let go of any of them, because without them, it's like my life in Korea didn't exist. But it's difficult to maintain friendships with people you meet in a foreign country, everyone is so transient. You never know when you might see each other again. I feel desperate and out of control. My future is up in the air right now. I am waiting on paper work and loan documents to be figured out so I can hopefully go to school in May. I am tossing around the ideas of different schools, moving to Vietnam, joining the military, or just sucking it up and getting a job. I feel like I am walking around waiting for something to happen, I'm waiting for opportunities, I'm waiting for friends, I'm waiting for a relationship.

I know I have to force myself to push through. Running and going to Crossfit are the only things I do now. The only people I talk to are my parents, which is lovely after being away so long, but without friends, without my independence, I am drowning. I don't know what to do with myself. I want to make a choice for my life that is good. I want to teach, but that means more debt. The army is an easy fix, but I don't know if I'll even like it. But it means I wouldn't need to depend on/take handouts from my parents anymore. I'm almost 30 and I have to sit here and watch as my parents spend every last penny they have to try and help me, when they are struggling enough on their own. I feel like a failure. I was an honour student, smart, outgoing, I should have been successful. I should be able to support myself. Instead I am 29, lonely, broke, in debt, jobless, carless, friendless and living in my parents basement. I am lost.

Monday, March 31, 2014

See ya later USA!

Well it seems it's time for my vacation to end today. I am flying back to Canada this afternoon after an action packed time in America. This past week in DC has been amazing. I flew in on Wednesday evening and met my friend Emily, we got our rental car and took to the streets to go meet our friends Maddie and Ed for dinner. DC is probably the biggest city I have driven in and the traffic and highways were insane. I opted out of the GPS for the car because I wanted to save money, but I definitely regretted that decision after the 3rd or 4th time of getting lost and having to back track.

On Thursday Emily, Ed and I spent the day being touristy and visiting all the monuments and government sights in downtown DC. We took our friend Morgue along with us for photo ops. 

Thursday night we headed out to run with a hash group in DC. The Everyday is a Wednesday Hash House Harriers were an awesome bunch. The pack of about 40 was large by our standards, but apparently the smallest they've seen in awhile. I loved the trail. The pack was fast, much faster than we are used to, it was tough to keep up, but we had a blast. When we arrived I was surprised to meet up with a hasher I knew, Yari Ben, whom I met while he was visiting Korea from Japan this past summer. I love how small the hashing world is! 

Emily and I spent Friday wandering around some of the Smithsonian Museums. We had a great time exploring and wandering. I loved being able to spend time with my Korean friends outside of Korea. 

Saturday was the big event we all came for. Our friends, Ed and Maddie were getting married! We were so excited to be able to go and we would be reuniting with some friends from Korea while there. We got all fancied up and headed out to the venue. It was absolutely gorgeous. Maddie looked stunning and the boys didn't look so bad either. I felt really honoured to be part of their special day, they are so in love and I know they will have a wonderful life together. I found myself in tears pretty quickly once the ceremony started. Just being able to be there and experience the love they have for each other was amazing. 

They had a delicious dinner and then we spent the night dancing away. Our crew basically owned the dance floor until they literally kicked us out of the building! 

Meeting up and hanging with the hashers was awesome and today I am really depressed about leaving and heading back to Canada. The prospect of having no planned visits or future trips with hashers is terrifying. Emily just left on her flight and I am sitting here, alone again, wondering what the future will bring. Plans for school are progressing but I am still waiting to hear if I will get a student loan for the program. If not, I don't know what I'll do. Maybe head to Vietnam to try to teach there, or I've been really leaning towards perhaps joining the military. Either way it is all new and I am scared. I have been blessed to have met so many awesome hashers who I know call family, I just don't know what I am going to do without them around all the time. This trip has been an awesome time of reunions, new places and closure. I've been on such a high being around all the people I love that I am afraid of the low that will come this week when I'm back in Bathurst, in the midst of the horrible winter. I'm trying to take it all as it comes. It will be a new challenge that's for sure. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Georgia ain't half bad

All week long I've been wanting to sit down and write about my adventures but I just haven't had the time or the inspiration. I've been in Georgia for a week and I'm having a blast. Not only has the weather been fantastic and warm, but the state itself is gorgeous. I arrived in Augusta last Monday night after taking the bus from Charlotte. Taking the bus is America is much different than taking the bus in Korea. Let's just say I don't plan on taking it again unless absolutely necessary. My good friend , Truck, picked me up from the bus station and brought me to his house. For most of my trip I had planned out everything I wanted to do while I was in each location, except for Augusta. I left the 10 days I would be here open so I could just relax and go with the flow. 

The first morning I woke up and had a phone call from a long lost friend I met in Korea. He lives in Macon, Georgia about two hours away. Since Truck had an emergency at work and had to go in, I decided I would rent a car and head to Macon to visit him,(sorry Mom!). Being out on the road alone was awesome, I took some scenic roads to get there and really enjoyed driving through the countryside. I was meeting Drew at his work, and I was definitely nervous. I hadn't seen him in over three years, I was excited but at the same time it is really weird seeing people outside of Korea in a different light. So I met up with him and we went out with a few of his friends. It was really nice to catch up with him. By the time I even remembered to look at my watch, it was dark so there was no way I was driving back to Augusta that night. Drew offered me a place to stay at his house, but after spending sometime with him and seeing his house, it was clear to me our lives had gone in two different directions. Granted he is a few years younger than me, but he still lives the life of a young college student. That night I realized a lot about myself. I told him I was going to get a hotel and crash for the night. He couldn't understand why. So I told him exactly what was going through my head. When we first met, our lives were at the same place, he was in Korea with the army and I, a first year teacher, our lives revolved around partying and drinking and it was nice. But now, I don't drink, I don't party, my life isn't the same. And his is. I told him I just wasn't comfortable with staying at his house but that we could definitely meet up the next day. So I headed to the first hotel I could find and got a nice room at a good price! 

The next morning I woke up rather early, but being a morning person I called him anyway! I told him I would come get him at 9:00am sharp and if he wasn't ready by 9:05 I was heading back to Augusta. I drove up and he was out the door by 9:01am. Haha I'm demanding I know, but I get results! We went wandering around some National Monuments and Native American burial grounds. We walked through downtown Macon and had lunch at a nice little Greek restaurant. It was nice to be able to hang out with him in a non-drinking atmosphere. After our morning of hanging out he had to get ready to go to work, and I had decided I was going to keep the car for an extra day and drive to Savannah to check it out. I had come all this way, I might as well see some different places while I'm here. 

Savannah was gorgeous!! I could definitely see myself living there! The old houses and buildings were amazing, and the historical downtown area was great to just walk around. I spent the morning exploring downtown and then headed to a nearby beach for the afternoon. The weather was gorgeous and I had a great time enjoying the day to myself. Once I'd had enough of the beach I headed back to the car and made the two hour trip back to Augusta. 

Friday the weather was gorgeous so Truck took me out on his harley for the afternoon. It was my first experience on the back of a motorcycle and at first I was terrified! But as the day went on I got more comfortable and actually enjoyed it immensely! After the ride we met up with some friends of his at this neat pizza restaurant called the Mellow Mushroom. It was a good dinner with some great convo! 

Saturday was yet another amazing day weather wise so we took the harley to Dublin, Georgia. Obviously it's named after Dublin, Ireland, so they have a huge two week long St. Patty's day festival every year. We headed in to check out the parade and arts & crafts fair. Afterwards we drove to Macon, where there is a huge Cherry Blossom festival going on. Truck dropped me off and I spent the day visiting with Drew(well he was actually working for most of it) and hanging out with his friends. It was a really awesome day. It's funny how you can not see someone for years and then it's almost like things go right back to the way they were before. I spent a lot of time debating whether going to see Drew was a good idea. He had hurt me pretty badly when we were in Korea, but since we have remained friends and still talk quite often. After having spent some time with him, I am really glad I was able to see him again. It was nice to spend time with him and it made me more aware of who I am and what I want in my life. 

So now I am back in Augusta with one day left until I head to DC. It has been an awesome time hanging out with Truck and chatting with him. He is a great man. I'm scared of heading home to the maritimes again, I am so used to having friends around and things to do all the time, it's going to be hard to be alone in Bathurst or Charlottetown and not have my hash family around to support me. I am however, very much looking forward to meeting up with Emily in DC on Wednesday and seeing everyone for Maddie and Ed's wedding on the weekend! 

I got in a little run this morning which was nice, I have been eating everything down here, trying all the southern comfort foods, so I am definitely putting on some weight. But I am trying not to worry about it, and I know I will get back into my healthy routine once I get back to Canada. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A weekend in Charlotte

It's a chilly, rainy Monday and I'm sitting here in a bakery in downtown Charlotte escaping the cold! My weekend in Charlotte has come to an end and I am awaiting my bus to my next destination, Augusta! Charlotte has been fun. I was reunited with my good friend Kat, got to meet her boyfriend and family, ran a 4 mile race, attended my first American Hash run, explored Discovery Place, and completed Crossfit Open WOD 14.3 at Crossfit Eternal. It was a busy, fun filled weekend! Seeing old friends really makes the transition from Korean life to North American life a little easier. I still find myself comparing everything to Korea, beginning sentences with "in Korea", and experiencing reverse culture shock of how things are here in the West.

The more I travel and hang out with people who know me well, the more I am beginning to know myself. I have always felt pressure by others to be someone I am not, whether it was to drink more, stay out later, go with the flow, or dress a certain way. I always felt the need to conform to others ideas of who I should be. As I grow up I've begun to realize my life is so much better when I stand my ground and do things the way I want. I know I am not a huge partier anymore, I'd rather have an action packed day full of adventures than sleep in and have a long night of drinking and partying. I know I am a loner, I crave personal space and am comfortable going at things alone. This weekend has only helped me be more confident in my choices. I attended the hash with Kat and not knowing anyone it was a bit difficult to tell them(the members of a drinking club with a running problem) that I am sober and no longer drink. People are quick to judge, but for the most part everyone was cool with my choice and didn't really give me a hard time.

I'm trying to remind myself that I am allowed to screw up, I am allowed to gain weight and not always be perfect. It's hard to eat healthy and on a Paleo diet while travelling. I know I am gaining weight by not eating my normal foods and by not following my normal eating plan. I gain weight easily and quickly, so even though my initial reaction when looking in the mirror is disgust and hatred, I am trying to actively say it's okay, it's okay to gain 5, or even 10 lbs while on vacation. It doesn't change who I am. Other people don't stop loving me just because my stomach is flabby, so I shouldn't stop loving myself either. It's easier said than done.

Going to Crossfit this morning was awesome, I got to complete this week's open WOD and did an additional little WOD as well. It made me feel good to push hard, especially because of all the junk food I've been eating so far.

Next stop on my adventure is Augusta to visit the one and only Little Bunny Foo Foo! I am very excited to spend some time with him and just relax! I am possibly going to take a day trip to Savannah to hit the beach! Who knows, no plans yet!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Another airport, another adventure

Airport's have become some of my favourite places. Being in an airport either means I am heading out on an adventure, or coming home from one. Today I am heading out yet again. After 6 days in Bathurst, I am on my way down to good ol' America for a couple of weeks. As soon as I boarded the plane this morning I felt a wave of calm wash over me. I don't belong in a small town being idle. Don't get me wrong, it was nice to be home, but I am more myself while exploring and being out on my own. I love the freedom of travelling alone. I can do what I want, when I want and not worry about anyone else. I can eat what I feel like, sleep when I want to, workout when I want to and explore the way I want to. Additionally, you meet so many people while travelling alone. This morning on my red eye flight to Montreal, I sat next to the nicest lady, she was in her late 60's but was travelling alone visiting long lost family she had only met a few years prior. She was so sweet and interesting to talk to. It's things like that that make me realize I am a lone traveler at heart. When I am kicking it somewhere for awhile(think months, or years) I love having a big group of friends to depend on, but when it comes to short trips and discovering new places, I love doing it alone.

So today, 46 days sober by the way, I am heading to Charlotte, North Carolina. I will meet up with my good friend Kat, whom I met in Korea. We have a race and a hash run planned for this weekend and I am very excited! Also on the agenda for the next few weeks are Augusta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.(with perhaps a stop over in Columbia, South Carolina!) I am looking forward to reuniting with old friends and exploring new places(and getting out of the cold, snowy north!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The time has finally come.

I didn't believe this day would ever actually arrive. Currently I am sitting in the Incheon Airport awaiting to board my first flight in my epic journey back to Bathurst, NB. Seoul-Tokyo-Toronto-Montreal-Bathurst. As I sit here, I look back on the last few months and am astonished at how quickly the time has gone by, it seems like it was just yesterday that I started applying to schools and deciding that this would be the year I leave Korea for good. This past week has been one of the hardest and longest I've had yet, the goodbyes seem to be never ending. It's hard to hold back tears while reminiscing about all the amazing adventures I've had here and the wonderful people I've shared them with. Coming to Korea was difficult and saying goodbye to home was hard, but knowing I would always go back "home" was comforting. Leaving Korea and my hash family isn't so easy, I don't know when I'll see them again or if I'll ever come back to this home. It's the end of an era, another chapter closed.

I've always been a little nervous about flying, but today the fear is not of the flight, but of leaving this place I have loved for the past three and a half years. It's a fear of the unknown, a fear of making a mistake, a fear of being alone. What if this is where I belong? Everyone keeps telling me this change will be good for me, it will be a new beginning, but right now it seems like an ending. I feel loved by so many, yet all alone.

I spent my last night in Korea amongst friends. My very good friend, Nathan, was kind enough to invite a few of us to a home cooked Mexican dinner by his visiting mother. It was a night filled with some of my dearest friends and the most delicious food. It was all a girl could ask for as a send off. Leaving was tough. Saying those last goodbyes, giving my favourite pup, Bruiser, one last snuggle, going back for one last hug from Nathan, a friend who has seen me at my worst and still loves me dearly. I never had friendships like this back home. The bond of living abroad and travelling together is stronger than any I have experienced yet. Shared goals and experiences brings us together.

Korea has been a roller coaster ride for sure. I have changed and become a totally different person from everything I have experienced here. I am so happy I took the leap to move here alone and I will always look back on this as one of the best times of my life. Things in Korea aren't quite right, and I like them that way. Maybe I fit in because I am a bit (NQR) not quite right myself!

A new adventure looms around the corner, I know it, but the older I get, the scarier the adventures become. Will I always be adventuring alone? When will I figure out what it is I want from this life? Or will I ever? For now I look forward to seeing my family and a few weeks spent reuniting with friends in the US, not to mention a hashy wedding at the end of March! And finally, after a nice month off, back to school, back to school. The world is mine for the taking!

Breathe in, breathe out, move on. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The beginning of good-byes and so longs

What does a 29 year old do in Seoul on a Saturday night? Any number of crazy adventures could happen: a dinner with friends at a BBQ joint followed by a night belting out tunes at a Noreabang, drinks with the girls and then off to a swanky dance club to boogie down all night long, a movie night relaxing with close buddies, a concert, a show, a museum, the options are endless. And with less than two weeks left in this magical city, I'm spending a Saturday night at home in my sweat pants, thinking, reminiscing, pondering what is next for me in this big world.

The past few months, everything has been leading up till now. I always knew the day would come when I had to make the choice to leave Korea. I fell in love with this country and my life here. It's easy, it makes sense. It's filled with fun adventures and amazing people. But for a city that's always moving, my life here isn't going anywhere. I am not advancing. So the choice was made. I must leave this place that I've called home. And the time is coming, soon.

Last night I had to say goodbye to a good friend. He's in the military and will be away on exercise until after I leave the country, so we had our last hangout, and I had to say my first goodbye. It's weird thinking I may never see him again. The world is a small, but big place, and while I know some of the friends I've made here are lifelong, I know I may never cross paths with some again. It left me kind of in a daze. I hadn't realized until last night that I am living a life of "lasts". Last dinners, last sleepovers, last nights out, last hashes, last heart-to-hearts last shopping trips, last adventures in Korea.

Walking through Gangnam today with less than 12 days left, I realized I may never walk through Gangnam again. Trying to soak in everything I can, yet sort of shut down. I've never been good at change, I'm a sucker for routine, leaving this place that has become my home, and my expat family, is something that is really hitting me to the core. These friends I've made have impacted my life so greatly. Some for the better, some not so much, but ultimately, they have all changed me, and helped me get to who I am today, right now. I may not know who that is exactly, but I know I am different than who I was when I first stepped off the plane in this country. Moving here has changed my life completely. It opened up a world I never thought I'd know. The opportunities are endless, with friends scattered all over the world, I can travel anywhere and always have someone to see.

I know going back to Canada is going to be hard. I think about it everyday. I think about the uncertainty, what will I do, how will I get by? I think about the people I'm leaving behind, who will keep in touch? Who will fade into distant memories? I think about my kids at school. Will they miss me? How will they do next semester? I think about how I'll make new friends and how I'll relate to people who haven't travelled at all. It's terrifying. It keeps me awake at night. As I sit here in my almost empty apartment, I remember having those same thoughts upon moving here. Change is scary. But I am not that 26 year old small town girl anymore. I have gained confidence in myself and my independence since being abroad and on my own. If I can make it in a foreign country alone, I sure as heck can hack it back in Canada, where at least they speak English.

So with one week left at work, my bags are almost packed, I'm preparing myself for my final weekend here, to say goodbye and so long to my hash family, who, have supported me, been there for me,  have picked me up from my lowest lows, have high-fived me and celebrated my successes with me. I know it's not going to be easy, it's going to be filled with tears and reminiscing. But the good ones will stay in my life forever, and the bad ones will fade away into the past. One thing I do know, is that it's time for my next chapter. A new beginning, a chance to start over.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My decision to quit alcohol.

Beer, wine, vodka, whatever your preference, alcohol is readily available wherever you go. I come from a small town where drinking starts at a young age. I remember hanging out in friends basements as young as fourteen drinking Rockaberry Coolers thinking how awesome our lives were. Those coolers turned into vodka, which turned into beer, then wine and so on. As with many young adults, my life revolved around drinking. Jobs were a means to getting drunk on the weekends. University was a constant party and I loved it! For most of my adult life, I worked through the week and partied on the weekend. I have pictures of awesome times I had with friends, dancing, clubbing, hanging at the pub, but the memories are mostly blurry. In my early twenties it was easy, I could drink all night and have no problem getting up for work the next day. But as I grew older, it became harder to balance work life with my party life. I realized I had all these "drinking friends" but how many real friends did I have?

When I moved to Korea, that lifestyle got even worse. Korea is known for it's drinking culture. Employers take you out to dinner and buy drinks all night. As a foreigner it's how we bond. We work all week and then drink it all away on the weekends. Seoul is one of the top party cities in the world. A bottle of Soju costs $1, and you can buy beer, wine, and liquor at every convenience store(of which there are thousands!). It's very easy to blow all of your hard earned money on drinking, and wake up Monday morning not remembering a thing. My first year in Korea was spent doing just that, and I had a blast! But then my lifestyle began to change. I realized my love for running and cycling, trumped my love for drinking. It was no longer easy to wake up in the morning with a hangover and go to work or go for a run. So I started taking weeks and months away from drinking. It wasn't easy, especially when you belong to a club with the slogan, "A drinking club, with a running problem". But, it helped me sift through the "party friends" and find the real friends.

After my break up last year, I spent the good part of the summer and fall drinking the pain away. And let me tell you, it got very messy. I am a very emotional person. I've been dealing with some eating issues, including binge eating disorder, for the past few years. I am realizing what I do in times of emotional stress, I either binge eat or binge drink and often I do both. I have been working hard on controlling my eating issues and I find that staying active and healthy has helped a lot. I spent most of January not drinking, I'd go to hashes, drink water and have to explain to everyone why drunk Steak wasn't making an appearance. I'm saving it all up for a big night out in Hongdae for a friend's going away I would say. Which I did, last weekend. My good friend Emily is leaving Korea so we had a big get dressed up all nice and fancy last night out in Hongdae(the university party area of Seoul). And I had a blast. I drank, a lot, and danced, a lot, and ate, a lot. Sunday morning came and no surprise here, I felt terrible. Not only was I ridiculously hung over (why didn't my vodka/water/lemon concoction work this time?) but I felt terrible about myself for eating so much and for feeling like I was inadequate. So I proceeded to spend Sunday and Monday stuffing my face with everything and anything I could find. And I cried. A lot. About everything, I cried about my failed relationships this year, I cried about my inability to be confident in myself, I cried about my lack of willpower, I cried about my uncertain future, and anything and everything in between. I work so hard towards my goals in Cross fit and running, how could I sabotage them like this?

After peeling myself up off the floor, I looked in the mirror. Really looked. Why am I doing this to myself? I am very good at convincing others of how confident and great I am, I nail job interviews, I get asked out by great guys, I have tons of friends, why can't I convince myself of the same things? So I thought about my goals and what I want for myself. I want to be healthy, and fit. I want to be independent and able to take care of myself. I want to be able to control my emotions and my eating. And how does drinking attribute to these goals? The answer was clear, it doesn't. Drinking does nothing but derail my progress. It was at that moment that I decided I don't need or want it anymore. Will it be hard? Yes. Will I lose some friends because of it? Probably. But the people I really want in my life are the ones who will love me no matter what. The ones who will stand up and support my decision even if they think it's the wrong one. The ones I can call no matter how long it's been and they will listen and understand like we saw each other yesterday. Those are the people who matter.

The ones who tell me that drinking makes me more fun can suck it. I am who I am. As many of my friends will tell you, I am polite upon first meeting someone, but after that I close off. It takes me a long time to let people in, in my mind, I feel like I need to really know someone before I am willing to put the time and effort into being their friend. Does this make me a snob? Maybe. It definitely makes me a bitch at times. But it also means that I have friends whom I care about deeply and for whom I will do anything for. If you are a friend who falls into that category then you likely know everything about me. You know I am confident on the outside and insecure inside. You know I am sweet and thoughtful and full of feelings and emotions. You know I am stubborn and determined and will fight for my way no matter what. You know I fight for control over things in my life, and you know that instead of showing my feelings are hurt I close off and get defensive. If you are one of those friends, then your response to my declaration of soberness is "Awesome Caley, you got this", not, "Life is boring without drinking". I'm not choosing to be boring, I am choosing to live my life without the negative parts, and alcohol is a negative part for me.

A chat with a good friend this morning helped me feel more confident in my decision. He is brutally honest and at times it sucks, but he knows me well and knows that's what I need sometimes. I told him of my decision to quit drinking and he responded with, "you've said that before Caley." Which I have. And then he made me realize it's time to take a hold of my life. I've got a lot I need to work on, but it's time to make real concrete changes. Get control of my eating and drinking issues. Get control of my debt. Finally live my life for me and not for someone else. I need to stop wishing things will change and make them change. It's going to be hard. But I know I am driven enough to do it. Five weeks left in Korea. Big changes are happening, and I am not going to let anything get in my way. Definitely not alcohol. This is my life and I will be successful!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Another (half) Naked Race in Korea!

 As I said in my last post I am trying to live everyday I have left here in Korea to the fullest, so last weekend I ventured up north to Pyeongchang with some fellow hashers to run in the annual Naked Race. I've run this one once before, two years ago with some of the Seoul Flyers, and I guess I was crazy enough to do it again. The race organizers gave us a bus to transport us up there so we all met bright and early at 6am to begin the trek. 

The race is labelled a "Naked" race but participants actually need to wear a little something. Men were allowed to wear shorts only and women shorts and a sports bra or t-shirt. It was a chilly -5C with a windchill of around -8/9C. It was not the warmest! But crazy as we are, we stripped down and prepared ourselves for 5km of cold!! The Koreans at the race were fascinated with us crazy Waegooks (foreigners) so they were interviewing us and taking lots of pictures. We definitely felt like celebrities! 

Posing for pictures

One of the hashers in his running attire for the day!

At the start line getting ready to run! 
At the start line I was prepping myself for a slow run, I wasn't planning on breaking any of my records or anything like that, but once I began running I realized I was running at a good pace and was feeling pretty good. After the first 2km I stepped it up and decided I was going to try to beat my best 5km time which was 25:56. As I approached the turn around I realized I was relatively close to the front of the group, so I kept on pushing. I caught up with a Korean woman who was running at a good pace so I tried my best to stick with her. It was clear she didn't want me there as she kept trying to lose me but I pushed on. When we got down to the last 150m she stepped it into over drive and out sprinted me to cross the finish line about seconds before me. I crossed with a time of 25:12, my fastest yet! And to my surprise the woman in front of me was actually disqualified for her clothing(she wasn't wearing shorts) so I placed 5th in the women's 5km. I was joined on the finishers board by my friend Damien, who got 3rd overall and my friend Leigh who was 4th in ladies. We even got a special foreigners ceremony because we missed the actually prize ceremony. 

Just about to cross the finish line 

Who says hashers can't run fast?! Winning!
We had a great time and everyone who came along enjoyed it! I'm glad I decided to run it again and this time with my hash family!

Some of the crew after the race

Warming up around the heater after the race

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bright and early on a Saturday morning

My eyes opened this morning around 5am and decided they didn't want to close again. So I grabbed my laptop and did a little surfing while I was waking up. I came across this video on Facebook and it really hit the spot.

The landscapes in the video I have seen from almost all points of view. I have run circles around, over, up and down this city over the past two years. As a small town girl, I am lucky to live in such a vibrant, fast paced big city. Seoul will always have my heart, it is my home away from home. 

And now, I'm having a dance party as I get ready to go run yet another epic hash trail around this fabulous city!

Living everyday to the most, I've only got 8 weeks left in Korea! Make the most of it!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Flying into 2014, literally

It's 10:20 am on December 31, 2013 and I am sitting in the Toronto airport awaiting my flight back to Seoul, where it is already 2014. Airports are one of my favourite things about travelling, there's no better place to people watch. Everyone is coming and going, visiting family, reuniting with friends, it's a community within a community of people with the same goals. As I sit here and look back on all the things that have happened this year, I feel lucky enough to even be sitting in an airport ready to board an international flight. Not everyone gets the same opportunities I have been lucky enough to have. I have been lucky enough to travel the world, make new friends, live in a foreign country and so much more. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond the stress and strife of daily life and see how lucky we really are.

Looking back at the things I hoped to accomplish in 2013 it's hit or miss. Some things I checked off the list, others I didn't, others I accomplished and didn't even know I would. I travelled to Japan, became GM of my hash kennel, had my heartbroken, fell in love, met new friends, took a solo trip to Busan, ran my first full marathon, applied to school, visited my family, sprained my ankle, embarrassed myself while drinking too much, cried, laughed, loved, and so much more. It's been a year of learning and figuring things out. I turned 29 in June and celebrated with my birthday twin and all of our friends. This last year of my twenties has been a big one in helping me evolve and grow. I have made friends who will be friends for life, who have helped me change and have picked me up when I was down. I know I am still learning, I am still lost and trying to figure out who I am and where my place is in this big crazy world. 

This next year brings a lot of change into my life, I will be leaving Korea after three and a half years for the unknown. I've applied to schools to take my Bachelor of Education so once my contract is finished in March, I will make my way back to Canada to await what I hope are acceptance letters. Australia is a back up plan should I not get into school, so there are opportunities on the horizon. It's a lot of change for me and I am genuinely terrified to leave Seoul, the place I have called home for so long and my friends who are now family. But I remind myself that when I chose to take the leap and move to Seoul originally I was also terrified of what the future would hold. I was, as I am now, terrified of being alone, scared of not making it on my own, but everything worked out then and I know it will work out now. It's time to open a new chapter of my life and this is the year. It'll be a year of focusing on myself, my health, my future, and figuring out who I am. 

So as I fly into 2014, I am thankful for all that I've experienced this past year and I am excited for all the new adventures I will have this year. I know the things I need to do to make myself the best I can be; eat healthy, run, workout, sleep, love, be loved and go with the flow. If I can do all of these things in 2014, it's destined to be a great year!! ON-ON to Seoul! Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lost, and home isn't home anymore.

As you probably know, I have been living abroad in Korea for the last three and a half years. In that time I have gone home once after my first year. This year I was excited to be able to come home for Christmas. After counting down for many months, the time finally arrived for me to board my plane and make my way back to the east coast of Canada. After more than 30 hours of travelling I arrived home. But after a few days, I've quickly realized home just isn't home anymore. It has been wonderful to spend time with my family and see my old friends, but I feel so out of place here. Like I'm not really here, I am just watching from the outside. I've always known that the longer I stayed away, the less I could relate to my friends and family back home. I have lost touch with many friends and the ones I still remain in contact with just don't understand what life is like away from home. I have nothing to say to people around here, they don't understand why I would want to live in a strange country or why I choose to not have a white picket fence, kids and a husband(well the husband part really isn't my choice!)

I feel completely lost and like I'm wandering around looking for the place that I belong. I'm living the aftermath of yet another break up, trying to figure out where I always go wrong. It's been a tough year for me. After the horrible, heart wrenching break up I went through in May, I was reluctant to let myself love anyone again. But as they say, love came along and I wasn't expecting it. Despite my best efforts, I found myself head over heels in love with one of my very good friends. He was someone who had seen me through the rough times and still wanted to be with me. This was the first time I had ever dated someone who I was good friends with, and it definitely made us a lot closer much more quickly. I fell hard and fast, despite the constant fear that I would have my heartbroken yet again. And as it happens, on the last day before he and I were going to leave each other for three months, my fears came true and my heart was broken. It seems inevitable now. Every time I let myself fall, every time I let my guard down and let someone in, I get hurt. How many heart breaks can one girl take? People always say 'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I'm not sure I believe that. Not only did I get my heart crushed, but I lost a very important friend in the process. One of those friends you can talk to, who will be there when you need them, who knows the bad things about you and still loves you anyway. If I had chosen friendship over love, I would still have that. Of all things I've done in my life, this is one I regret. I made the wrong choice.

I am officially unemployed this coming February. I will be leaving Korea, the place I've called home for 3+ years and my friends who have become my family, and moving back to Canada to await a letter telling me if I get into university or not. I'll have no job, no house, no car, no boyfriend, no friends and no plans. It's terrifying. I'm nearing my 30th birthday and my life is not even close to being figured out. I worry about what I will do and how I will support myself. I am ashamed that I've reached this age and have nothing to show for it, yet I wouldn't trade my travel experiences for anything. I'm embarrassed that I am going to be sleeping on my parents couch and going back to school yet again. I'm afraid I'm making the wrong choice, yet I feel I have no other choice. I'm doing my best to tell myself it's time to make a change, and change is good. It's a new chapter with new adventures. It means saying goodbye to friends, but saying hello to new ones.

I'm worried I am becoming jaded, that the more I get lost and the more I get hurt, the higher my wall goes and the harder it will become to break it down. Can I really keep hoping?  I've always said I am a hopeless romantic, but every time someone loves me, they decide they don't want to put in the work. Maybe I really am destined to be alone. Maybe I am too selfish, or too unloveable, or too mean for anyone to really love forever.

All I can do is continue on, day by day, hoping that I what am I doing is leading me to my best self. And hoping that one day I will find that place I belong and the person I belong there with.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Things I will miss about Korea (Part I)

It's  the beginning of December which means the weather is getting chilly, the holiday buzz is on and I've got roughly two and a half months left in this country. It's hard to even think back to when I didn't live here. All the little nuances and cultural differences are a way of life now. Integrating back into North American life is going to be hard for me so I've decided to do a series of posts featuring things I'll miss about Korea. 

First and foremost, my kiddos. While I may complain and gripe about a bad day, these guys are saviors for my sanity. Their smiles make my day every day. They come to class excited to see me and have a good time at school. Hanging with them is awesome and I'm going to miss not having them to go see everyday.

Random street art everywhere. The alleys and streets of Seoul are filled with graffiti and art work. Some of it's amateur work and some of them are genuinely gorgeous works of art. You never know what might be around the corner from you. 

Seoul skyline. I love this city. I fall in love with it every time I look around. It's a small but big city and every neighborhood brings something different. A new adventure, a new view and new experiences. 

It's such a digital world. Pagers for everything! No waiting in lines here. I'm currently sitting in a 24 hour coffee shop sipping a green tea latte and writing this post from my iPhone. Korea is so connected, there is free wifi everywhere!! Even on buses and trains! At times it's overwhelming how many people have cell phones or tablets in their hands on a daily basis but at other times it's a life savor. There is an app for everything in this country. You can find out which subway to take and exactly what time you'll get there, or what bus to get on and the exact current location of it. You can find restaurants and bars, compare shopping and order just about anything you can think up. 

The hashers. For the past two years my life has been about the hash. Every Saturday and Sunday I wake up early to trek to Seoul to run with this bunch of crazy lunatics. Over that time, I have made countless friends, fell in love, had my heart broken, discovered my second family and fell in love again. The hash has shown me more parts of this great city than I ever could have explored on my own. It has taught me to keep going even when times are tough. It has taught me to forgive and forget, and to let other peoples differences be keys to great friendships. The hash has become my family and of all the things I will miss about Korea, they are the biggest one. 

Time for breakfast! Stay tuned for my next post!

Monday, October 28, 2013

How I became a runner and my first full marathon!

What does being a runner mean? And how does someone become a runner? Personally, I think it's all in how you view yourself, and what running does for you. I began running back in 2006. I was in an unhappy relationship, depressed and had gained a lot of weight. I needed something to help me get out. I began walking and jogging intervals. For a year I continued this and was able to drop the weight. I went back to university and continued running for weight loss. I ran several times a week, but I still didn't consider myself a runner.

It wasn't until I moved to Korea, in 2010, that I finally began running for a different reason. My weekly runs were no longer about losing weight, they were about destressing, clearing my head, and finding myself on the road. My first year in Korea I ran my first official 5km race. It wasn't easy, nor was it my best time, but it opened up an entirely new world for me. A few months later, I ran my first 10km and six months after that my first half, an accomplishment I never thought I could ever achieve. In my mind I was a "real" runner  now. When people asked me what my hobbies were, I would answer with, "I run". Running has saved me from myself. When I am down and sad, I go for a run and return feeling on top of the world. I have the word "run" tattooed on my wrist so I always remember the one thing that showed me who I really was and what I could do. Since my first half marathon, I have run multiple more, even one on the Great Wall of China.

The idea of running a full marathon was always in the back of my mind. I would see others doing it and think if they can, why can't I? Last fall I decided I would run the Seoul International Marathon in March. I began training through the winter, turns out training for a full marathon is a huge commitment and by February my training hadn't reached the point it should have so I opted out of the marathon.

The thought still lingered in my head, I really wanted to complete a full marathon while being in Korea. So I signed up for the famous Chuncheon Marathon. Toted as the most beautiful marathon course in Korea, it was also well known for its hills. I began my training in the heat of the summer and kept it up relatively well. I had worked up to 30km long runs on Sundays and was feeling strong. That's when the bronchitis hit. With one month to go until race day I was sick as a dog. Every week that went by I rested and hoped I would get better in time. I ran a few short runs in the weeks while tapering but definitely not what I should have been.

By the time race weekend rolled around, I was still sick, but slightly better and determined to run. No way was I quitting this one. All I had been doing for months was talking about it, I couldn't back down now. So Saturday evening, my running partner, Emily and I headed up to Chuncheon to stay with a friend of mine. It was nice to be able to get up there the night before, otherwise we would have had to wake up at 4:30am to get the bus up with our running club, the Seoul Flyers. I knew I wouldn't get much sleep either way, but it was great not having to worry about waking up early.

7AM finally came and it was time for us to get up. The nervousness began to give way to excitement, I was about to run a FULL marathon!! We stuffed ourselves full of our go-to breakfasts, me with my paleo pancakes, banana and almond butter and Emily with her quinoa, jam and banana. Into a cab we went! We arrived at the race site to meet up with the other 30,000 runners. That's right. I said 30,000. Nothing like getting up close and personal with a bunch of sweaty marathoners! Our first stop was the bathroom, lines, lines and more lines. Luckily it didn't take too long.

The morning up in the mountains was pretty chilly. We had both brought shorts and tank tops to run in so we were hesitant to check out bags until the possible second. We walked around and managed to meet up with the Flyers. After securing spots back home on the bus, we stripped down to our running gear, checked our bags, and found our corral. The race began at 9:00AM, but we were in G corral so we thought we wouldn't run until closer to 9:45. We lined up around 9:15 and lucky we did because we crossed the line shortly after 9:20. I looked at Emily with excitement and fear(and maybe a tear or two) I was running my first marathon.

It was chilly and foggy for the first 5-7km but then the sun came out and the views were gorgeous.

If you look closely you can see runners on both sides of the river!

Emily and I rocked through the first 21Km in an awesome time. We crossed the halfway mark at 2:04, I was elated, at this rate we could possibly get a 4:15 or 4:20 finish. Pretty awesome and way under what I was hoping for. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come.

At around 23km I started feeling pain in my knee. Funny thing was, it wasn't the knee I have tendonitis in(and was wearing a knee brace for) it was the other one. I started to worry, we were only half way, what if it got worse? I kept my eyes open for the medics on the side with the magical numbing spray. Unfortunately I didn't see one for awhile and by 25km my knee was screaming at me. Not wanting to let Emily down, I continued on in pain. On a bathroom break at 25km I accidentally stopped my Garmin so I was about 3km off, which drove me crazy as I didn't know how far we had gone. A friend had warned me that I would go to a very dark place in this marathon, and he was not wrong. By 27km I was fighting a hard core battle. Not only was my right knee in horrible agony, by left IT band decided it was going to seize up as well. Finally I found some spray and numbed both knees. I even switched my knee brace to my right knee since it was hurting much more than my left. Okay, I began to feel some relief. In my mind I kept repeating mantras over and over. I got this. Don't stop. You can do this Caley. Prove it to yourself. Out loud all I did was complain(sorry Emily!) When would this be over? Why did we do this? I will never run again!

By 30km, I was unsure if I could finish. I had visions of lying down and curling up on the side of the road. No one would notice, I'm sure I could just take a quick nap. I was breaking down physically and emotionally. I was stopping at every medic and spraying my knees as much as possible to dull the pain. Side story: My ex boyfriend Ben bought me a hash necklace with my hash name on it when he went to Malaysia last year. He wore it while completing the hash challenge, a 42.195km hash through the Malaysian jungle. He told me it was the hardest thing he had ever done in his life but he had to keep going for me, so that the necklace meant something. Immediately when he told me that I knew I would have to wear it for my marathon, likely the hardest thing I will ever do(at the time we were still together.) Since breaking up, I have fought with myself over whether or not I would wear it for the race. Part of me didn't want to because I didn't want to think about him the whole time, this race was for me, but the other part of me wanted to because it means so much to me still and this race would make it mine. At the last minute before starting I decided I would wear it. Funny thing is, I only thought about him once. At one point around 31km, when I was on the brink of giving up and lying down, I touched it and wondered if he had felt the same excruciating pain while doing the hash challenge as I was in at the very moment. I knew then I couldn't stop. That necklace would be mine, I needed to earn it.

Emily and I trucked along, at a very slow pace. My dreams of a 4:20 marathon were long gone, now I was only dreaming of survival. Emily had her watch so I kept asking her, how far are we? what's our time? Finally we rounded a corner and we saw the bridge our friend Sessions had told us would be about 2km from the finish. We were almost there. Keep going. One foot in front of the other. I was dying, barely shuffling. I would not walk across the finish line, I would run. Those last 2km were terrible, the longest two kilometres I have ever run. Even when we hit the last kilometre I wasn't sure I would make it. I turned to Emily and said, "I don't think I can keep going. I can't do it." She looked at me and told me to keep going, I could do it, less than a kilometre left.

Coming up to the finish line we saw some Seoul flyers on the side cheering us on. We crossed the line at the same time 4:47. We were done. A wave of emotion came over me, tears in my eyes, Emily and I hugged, and congratulated each other. We made it. I could barely walk, but I did it. I finished the marathon and I earned my necklace. Walking around after crossing the finish line I told Emily I might quit running, I never wanted to run again, that was the worst idea I'd ever had and the hardest thing I'd ever done. We both knew that wasn't true. I am glad we did it.

Smiling after crossing the finish line! 

We met back up with the Seoul Flyers crew and went off in search of what Chuncheon is known for, it's delicious Dak Galbi! After stuffing our faces full of food, we hopped on the bus for a traffic filled three hour bus ride home. By the time I got home it was 10PM and my knee was the size of a grapefruit. A sign that I should probably not have run without more training. Lesson learned. Thanks marathon.

I may never run a full marathon again. That kind of pain and agony is not something I want on a regular basis. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and I did it voluntarily. Crazy? Maybe. Was it worth it? Heck yes! I proved to myself I can withstand more than I ever thought I could. Oddly, I thought I would come out of this race with the mentality that I could handle life on my own, that I had done it all by myself. But that is not the case. Without Emily by my side, and without the countless Koreans yelling, "FIGHTING!" as we ran by, I would not have been able to push myself to finish. I now know I am strong enough to bear more pain that I ever thought I could, but I can't go at life alone. I need to ask for help sometimes and I am so grateful and blessed to have friends like Emily to keep me going. One thing I do know is, as my nana used to say, I am one tough cookie. And I am a runner. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Positive thinking day

September 13th is positive thinking day. I have a tough time remaining positive a lot. I'm very pessimistic in my thinking generally. I've been trying to be more open and positive lately so I'm glad for today. I will try my best to remain in a positive mindset all day. 

Today I'm also experimenting with cutting out fruit in my diet. I've become addicted to fruit! I eat a lot everyday and my carb intake from fruit is crazy high! So today I'm focusing more on protein and fats. I had strawberries for breakfast and will have an apple for snack this afternoon but that is it. Time to cut those sugar cravings!!

Positive thinking day

September 13th is positive thinking day. I have a tough time remaining positive a lot. I'm very pessimistic in my thinking generally. I've been trying to be more open and positive lately so I'm glad for today. I will try my best to remain in a positive mindset all day. 

Today I'm also experimenting with cutting out fruit in my diet. I've become addicted to fruit! I eat a lot everyday and my carb intake from fruit is crazy high! So today I'm focusing more on protein and fats. I had strawberries for breakfast and will have an apple for snack this afternoon but that is it. Time to cut those sugar cravings!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

One years difference

Last year in September I began changing my way of life. I embarked on the Whole30, a month of eating strict Paleo foods in an effort to become healthier and lose weight. Since graduating university I have been relatively active. I have been a runner for years and have almost always had a gym membership. Even when I came to Korea I continued to run and remained as active as possible. But I found that these things were not working for me. Over the past year I have struggled testing out new eating habits and exercises. I have had months that I worked out endlessly and others when I was sick and suffering from IBS(irritable bowel syndrome). I have been dealing with IBS since high school but for some reason during the winter last year it flared up and I had a really hard few months. Luckily I have managed to keep things under control since about February.

After my break up in May, I really started to focus on my eating habits and how they were affecting my workouts. I have been going to Cross fit consistently and am training for my first full marathon in October. I try to stick to a pretty consistent diet, it's easiest on my system. I avoid all grains because they are too fibrous for me and almost always cause stomach issues. I rely mostly on lean protein, veggies and fruit. I allow some dairy here and there, but not very much. I have noticed huge gains over the summer based on how I eat. I have lost a significant amount of weight and am beginning to see muscle definition.

Before Sept 1, 2012
During Sept 1, 2013

The before photo is from September 1, 2012, the after photo September 1st, 2013. I have definitely made a lot of progress. I still have more work to do until I am fully satisfied but I am definitely happier than with myself now than I was a year ago. I have had multiple friends tell me they think I am too skinny. To that I explain I am eating quite healthy and am very conscious of what I eat and when. I eat to fuel my workouts and restore my muscles. Yes, I eat much less than a lot of other people, but the majority of people eat way too much than they need. I have struggled with how much to each, and how to not eat based on my emotions. I had a hard time during my break up, I didn't eat a lot at that time. But I know that if I want to fuel my workouts and compete at the level I want to athletically, I need to eat properly to do so. 

Living an active healthy life is not always easy. There are days I slip up, just this past weekend I ate pizza and ice cream. And boy did I pay for it. My stomach was a mess for two days afterwards. Each time I binge, it's easier to say no next time. I like feeling like my body is healthy and ready for anything. Eating like crap doesn't achieve that feeling. I have been spending a lot of time reading fitness and health blogs in order to remain motivated. Less than two months left until my full marathon in the mountains of Gangwon-do Korea! I am nervous and excited at the same time! 

Next week is Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving so we get a 5 day weekend! It is also the beginning of Hashathon, 12 days of hashing in the ROK. It will be a busy two weeks! I am looking forward to logging as many kilometres as possible! 

Recently, I received two little bits of advice from two different friends that have been helping me get through the days. At Crossfit this week, I was figuring out how much weight to put on for a WOD and my coach and my workout buddy both encouraged me to add more weight even though I was reluctant. I finally did and ended up getting through the WOD and feeling great, to which my friend added, "See, you're stronger than you think you are. " It has been ringing in my head ever since. 

And another day this week, I was having a really tough day, one where I just want to burrow down under my covers and cry for days. A good friend sent me a clip from the movie Finding Nemo and told me to fast forward to a certain part. "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming." Every time I have a bad moment or a tough day now, I find myself repeating it over and over in my head, just keep swimming, just keep swimming. 

I have been keeping to myself a lot lately, not socially too much because unfortunately, my ex Ben and I run in the same circle so I have been avoiding our social scene to keep potential run ins to a minimum. But I am lucky to have two close friends I have able to confide in and who both have been there for me no matter what I need. My workout buddy, KA and my close hasher friend NL. Without their love and support over the past few months I am not sure I would be where I am right now. The following quote seems to sum up everything for me,