Thursday, October 17, 2013

From "I Can't" to "Maybe I Can"

Have you seen this?

This is Maria Kang, and she seems to be causing quite a stir.  There are camps that say she's knocking overweight women, and there are camps that are saying, "You go girl!"  I happen to be in the 'you go girl' camp, but that is neither here nor there.  Discussing the stir surrounding this picture is not my goal today, however.  My goal is offer understanding, and perhaps lend some perspective to the buzz.

No one gives birth to three children and looks like that without a lot of hard work.  However she got there, that's where she is, and I don't begrudge her that.

I used to come from a place of "I can't."  After the high school mile debacle, my mantra was "I can't run."  My ex-husband used to like to say, "She can't cook, she can't clean, and she can't sew."  (As if that's all a wife was good for!  Ha!  Good riddance, you jerk!)  So I didn't cook, didn't clean and I still don't sew.  I signed up for a 5:30 a.m. bootcamp once, and I was so tired at the end of the day, that I decided I couldn't do that either.

That all changed one day, when I said to myself, "Maybe I can."  A friend asked me to run a local half marathon with her.  Of course my first answer was, "I can't."  Then I asked myself why I thought I could not at least attempt this.  Why couldn't I try?  Why couldn't I train for this?  I could not come up with a good answer.  That is when I committed 100% to this goal of finishing a half marathon, and I've never looked back.

Unlike the high school cross country athlete who perhaps walks away from her sport to further her career, get married and have children, I was not an athlete as a kid.  I didn't do much at all until I decided to run a half marathon at the age of 44.  I wasn't a gym rat, I did some Jazzercize back in the day (now I'm really dating myself!), but exercise was not a part of my life.  

Deciding to do this seemingly impossible thing was something I committed to like it was my job.  Look for a coach, find a gym, do the workouts, read the books and magazines, eat the right food, and take it one day at a time.  One workout at a time, even.  When you approach a goal this way--take small bites each day in pursuit of your goal--it is completely doable and you learn so much about yourself while you're getting there.

If I didn't have that shift in my thinking, I would not be the person I am today.  Maria Kang's body didn't just happen.  Maybe she used to be in a place of "I can't" just like the rest of us.  You'd never know it from the picture, because humility was not one of her goals in posting it.  That's ok, everyone is different.  I'd rather allow people to see the good, the bad and the ugly.  You don't see all the hard work, stress on the family, sweat and discomfort that Maria endured in order to get to the picture you see.  I'm willing to expose that side of me.  Now granted, I don't look like she does!  I used to weigh 25 pounds more than I do today, but I'm still not that!  What I am is stronger, leaner and faster than I used to be, and that's what's important to me.  You can never go into something new and different without telling yourself that the only person that you're trying to be better than is yourself.

Today, when you're thinking of all the things that seem impossible to do, allow the thought of "Maybe I can..." to work its way into your brain.  We all have it in us to accomplish the seemingly impossible.  Instead of convincing ourselves that we can't, let the maybe in.

Do you have a goal that you think you can't accomplish?  

What's your excuse?

Happy Thursday, everyone!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wineglass Half Marathon Weekend Update

Sit down, grab some coffee and put those reading glasses on!  It's Weekend Update time!

This past weekend I ran the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, NY.  Ever since the hotel debacle that happened the night before my full marathon in 2011, I have been a stickler for booking the right hotel way in advance of race weekend.  Corning is about 190 miles away from home, which meant an opportunity for us to get away for the weekend at a nice, cushy hotel.  Hotel options were not abundant in Corning, so we ended up finding a very nice hotel in a little town called Watkins Glen, in the Finger Lakes region.  Watkins Glen is about 30 miles from Corning, but I figured that'd give us the chance to see the general area, and catch some local flavor.

My husband and I started our journey on Friday afternoon.  Knowing that this particular race was a "goal race," I decided that I would not be consuming a drop of alcohol this weekend.  If you know anything about me, you know I enjoy a nice glass of wine now and again, especially when we travel.  I am not the kind of girl to give up a beautiful Pinot Noir just because there is a race the next day.  In fact, once I completed a 20-mile training run while I was still tipsy from the night before.

During the ride, I had that feeling that you get when you know you forgot something important.  I mentally ticked off the checklist in my head, and realized that whatever it was that I had forgotten could be purchased at our destination.  We weren't visiting a third-world country, after all.  As we pulled up to our hotel, I am happy that it looks lovely.  Checked in, ordered some room service, snuggle into bed and had a good night's sleep.  Upon waking the next morning, I quickly realize what I had forgotten.

Perhaps you do not fully comprehend the exhaustive list of things you must remember for a race, especially while traveling.  The obvious things like running shoes, socks, outfit, and Garmin come easily.  The other things require some thought.  Should I run with music, or without?  With requires armband and headphones.  If I run without music, I need something to carry my phone, so I'll pack that little waistband thingy, which also holds my GU.  May as well pack another pair of running shoes, just in case, and ok fine, another pair of socks.  Then it's time to decide what kind of head covering to wear.  If it's going to be hot, a visor.  If it's going to rain, a cap.  Grab both, decide later.  Don't forget the ponytail holder.  Sunscreen, handheld water bottle, Body Glide, sunglasses, race-morning breakfast options, baby wipes for guerilla-type shower after race so I don't smell up car on the way home.  I got it all.  Except for one thing--underwear.  Yes, I remembered every piece of runner minutiae ever invented, but I forgot good, old-fashioned underwear.  Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and micromanaging.

Good thing we had Saturday to have some fun.  And underwear shop.  Before I continue with the rest of the weekend, I have to give a shout-out to Trip Advisor.  We used this app extensively to find the mall (underwear) and restaurants (breakfast).  Very useful.  Breakfast was at Savard's Family Restaurant, and they had really cool placemats where there are hidden objects drawn into the ads to pass the time while waiting for food.

This happened to be a place frequented by the biker crowd.  I would've taken a picture of them, but I feared for my life.  We're still not sure what the attraction of the bikers to that town was.  Maybe one of you know?

We headed to the expo from there to grab my bib, and little did we know that they gave out other goodies too!

I picked the wrong day to quit drinking!

There was a wineglass too, but Jim already wrapped it up.

The Corning Museum of Glass was next, since it was next door to the YMCA where we picked up the bib and goodies.  We saw the Hot Glass Show, where they demonstrated how to blow glass (very cool), and we shopped at the museum store.  Here are a few pictures of us at the Glass Museum.

I did mention our sense of humor was juvenile, right?

Since I was without significant underclothing, next on the agenda was, well, that.  Trip Advisor to the rescue again!  We found the local mall, and had a good time with the name.  It was the Arnot Mall.  As in, "We Arnot a real mall."  We found this to be true.  It was the most depressing mall at which we ever had the pleasure of shopping.  Since we were kid-less for the weekend, we decided to take in a movie at the (We) Arnot (a) Regal Movie Theatre.  We saw Gravity, with Sandra Bullock and five minutes of George Clooney.  We liked it.

Back to our lovely hotel for a nap, then dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant.

Sunday morning started out wet.  We woke up at 5 a.m. to pouring rain.  Good thing I had many cap options, and if necessary, we could've stopped at the (We) Arnot (a) Convenience Store for a trash bag rain coat.  Fortunately, it wasn't necessary!  Yay!  All the rain did its thing by 7 a.m., and it was cool, dry and absolutely perfect running weather.  Here's my selfie on race morning.

I will not go into all the runner-specific details of my race.  Suffice it to say, it confusled me.  That's pronounced 'con-fuse-eld.'  I was surprised at how strong I felt throughout the entire race, and thought I could turn in a significant PR (personal record), but it turned out I was a little overly-confident.  OK, a lot.  I ran a very consistent race, and in fact, my most consistent.  You see, I usually lose it at about mile 10.  I start to ask questions like, "Who the hell signed me up for this race?", and "I'm older!  What makes me think I can still run 13.1 miles again this year?"  But that didn't happen!  I was almost surprised at myself because I felt so strong at mile 10.  I thought for sure I'd run it faster than my best.

It's all good though, I was only a few minutes slower than my best, and I'm OK with that.  I like to think about my husband and kids as I cross, and the fact that I am completely in control of my accomplishments.  In fact, these days, I'm learning it's one of the only things I can control.  The race wound through charming towns, had friendly and encouraging crowd support, and the best thing?  The medal.  You've gotta see this medal.

And here I am, after finishing my tenth half marathon since I began running in 2010.  I gotta tell you, it's a great feeling!

Are you forgetful?

Do you have a juvenile sense of humor?  I probably would not if it weren't for my husband.  He brings out the best (worst?) of me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Too Fat for Shoes

"Comparison is the thief of joy," wrote Theodore Roosevelt.

With just a few words, this great man has not only acknowledged that we all compare ourselves to others, but he has also given us an excellent reason to stop.  To compare yourself to others will rob you of the joy that you would normally have, so stop comparing yourself!  What we all try to say with a whole lot more words, he has said so succinctly, and so perfectly.

I find myself comparing almost every day.  Even when I know that it's not a healthy thing to do, I find myself doing it anyway.  I was in DSW the other day, looking for a pair of boots.  A pair of brown boots, to be exact.  If you've ever been to DSW, you know how many aisles of boots they have, and I love it.

So I do the cursory browse down the aisles, but nothing is jumping out at me.  I saunter through a few more times, almost ready to give up and go home, when a beautiful, tall blonde woman walks very purposefully by me.  In five seconds flat, I scan her from head to toe when BOOM.  "Daddy, I want the boots she's wearing!"  (I'm trying to channel my inner Veruca Salt here.)  They looked so good on her.  I had walked by that particular pair several times, thinking they were 'too much.'  Well, not on her!  Too much was just right.

I follow her to the location of the boots she is wearing, where she is sitting down.  I casually walk by and said, "Oh, you've got those boots on, right?", pointing to the pair on the shelf.  She told me that she loved them so much, she had to get them in black too.  She quickly tries them on, they fit perfectly, of course, and she glides off to the front of the store to pay.  I never thought of myself as a visual person, but I think I'm quickly becoming one.  I had to have those boots.

These boots aren't just any old boot, they happen to be slightly over the knee.  Not too much, but just enough.  They are awesome.  I sit down to try them on and I am able to slip my foot into the boot itself, but now I've gotta do some finagling to get them zipped up.  These particular boots have a side zip that stops right below the cuff, so that the beautiful cuff can come up to the knee and just look fabulous.  I go to zip it up, and those beautiful, magical, tall-blonde-woman boots will not zip up over my gigantic calves.  Try as I might, I could not squeeze the fat down into the boot one more iota without performing do-it-yourself surgery.

So I begin doing what I usually do when I'm frustrated.  I talk to myself.  "Really?  I mean, I must be the only woman on Earth who, in the midst of a 300-pair bootapalooza, is too fat for the only pair I like!" and "This isn't happening right now," as if this is the most devastating news I could possibly hear right now.

I sat there for a minute, letting the gravity of the situation sink in.  I cannot wear these boots, because I am too fat for them.  But SHE wasn't too fat for the boots.  Oh, nooooo!  In fact, now she has two pairs of those sacred things.  Gosh, she even has good hair.  And that sweater paired with the jeans was just perfect.  Grrrrr, I hate her.  I want to be her.

That's when I stopped myself.  These calves may be too big for those particular boots, but these calves have taken me pretty far.  My hair may not be as smooth and shiny as that woman's, but at least I have hair, and I'm not struggling with chemo and losing it.  Who knows what else that woman struggles with that I don't?  Yes, I have my problems in life, but they're mine.  I don't want yours.

Do you find yourself comparing to others?  Do you catch yourself and stop, or not?

Do you have a shoe fetish?

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The One Mile Run Test

Do you remember the One-Mile Run test in high school?

For me, it was the worst day of the year.  When I found out that our gym class had to run the mile, I would literally break out into a cold sweat.  I hated
gym class, and I especially hated running.  Interestingly enough, I attended my youngest son's back to school night this past week.  Gym class is so much different than when I was a kid.  Now, you don't have to participate in the sport of the week.  Yea, you heard me.  Now, you have a choice.  You can go into the fitness center for some cardio or weight machines, you can go into the gym and shoot hoops casually, but you don't have to do the sport.  Life now is all about options.  You can do this, or hey, if you don't wanna do this, then do that.  As long as you're moving around, you're good.  No worries!  Not that I wish I was a kid growing up now, but a few choices would've been nice back in the day.

I have vivid memories of one year in particular, when we had to do the One-Mile run test.  I think it was part of the Presidential Fitness Test, or something like that.  Remember the shuttle run, the 100-yard dash, and that 'see how far you can jump' test?  Anyway, I was a junior in high school and it was one mile test day.  Mind you, the gym teachers back then didn't think it was a good idea to give any pointers to the kids.  "Hey guys, it's simple!  Just get out there and run a mile."  Running a mile, when you never, ever run, is really hard.  It would've been nice to learn a little something about pacing.  Go out slower than you should, and pick it up towards the end.  Some kind of advice for us fat kids would've been helpful.

So the whole class lines up on the track, and the gym teacher yells, "Go!"  So I went.  Like a bat out of hell I went, wondering why I was ahead of everyone else.  I thought, "Hey, maybe I'm not so bad at this whole running thing!"  Well, as you can imagine, by the first lap I was sucking wind.  I wasn't feeling so well during the second lap, and the third and fourth were pathetic.  I finished last, and with so many red blotches on my face, that the gym teacher sent me to the nurse.

The nurse said I should rest, then proceeded to call my mother to tell her to pick me up from school.  That's how unfit I was as a youth.  I hated sports, I hated gym class, and I really hated running, especially after this complete embarrassment.  Did I mention that I hated running?

How in the world then, did I get into running in my 40's?  Well kids, that's a story for another time.

Were you a gym class lover, or an uncoordinated unfortunate soul in high school?

Do you do something now that you hated when you were younger?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

An 8 Week Plan to Get Ready for Christmas: Runner's Edition

It's October 1.  You know what this means, right?

Christmas is coming like a freight train.  I really wish that the coming of October did not scare me to pieces, but it does.  Why?  Cooler temperatures mean fall, and fall is GYST (Get Your Shit Together) Season.  Christmas stresses the heck out of me, and it always has.  Playing Santa to four kids, my husband, two sets of parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, girlfriends, boyfriends, teachers, mailmen, paperboy, dry cleaners, UPS guy, and the dog ain't easy!  It's one of those things that, once you get going, isn't so bad.  Certainly, when it's over, the afterglow of happy kids makes it all worth it.  When you're in the trenches, though, it can be hell!  There's so much stress between Thanksgiving and Christmas, brought on by the retail industry, that I always second guess myself.  Do they all have the same number of gifts?  Did I forget the obvious gift that he/she wanted this year?  What about that one gift that everyone is getting this we need it too?

My husband made a silly remark the other day, challenging our family to have our shopping and wrapping done by December 1.  So I looked at it just like training for a big race; we have to plan this out.  This kind of goal doesn't just happen by itself.  So I've come up with a training plan for the beginner, intermediate and advanced shopper/giver/wrapper/decorator.  If we start today, I think we can do this thing.

Week 1 (10/1-10/7):
Beginner:  Buy a pretty new notebook to make lists of things in.  Oh, and pick up some brightly-colored pens. List-making is FUN! (Pace:  taking it slow)
Intermediate:  Beginners plan PLUS list the people you need to buy for.  (Pace:  If I don't stick to the plan from Week 1, I may fall behind.)
Advanced:  Intermediate plan PLUS come up with one major gift for each person.  (Pace:  Notebook-check, pens-check, list-check, major gift-check.  What's next, because I'm an overachiever.  Let's get this party started.)

Week 2 (10/8-10/14):
Beginner:  This is going to be so much FUN!  I love my new notebook and beautiful pens!  I still have time for all this silly holiday planning, so I'm just going to buy some pumpkins and decorate for Halloween.  It'll be so much FUN! (Pace:  I'm good.  I'm happy.  I'll be fine, really.)
Intermediate:  Scout on Amazon for major gifts.  (Pace:  I am so on track right now, and I feel great.)
Advanced:  Order major gifts on Amazon and have them shipped gift-wrapped.  (Pace:  Excellent, feeling good, although I could go faster, but it's still early.)

Week 3 (10/15-10/21):
Beginner:  I started making a list, but I was sidetracked by the fact that I still needed pumpkins, scarecrows and hay bales, but I'm FINE!  (Pace:  One holiday at a time, OK?)
Intermediate:  Is it too early to think about getting the Christmas decorations down?  (Pace:  Get the ladder, honey.)
Advanced:  Find excellent hiding spot for gift-wrapped packages, and while I'm at it, clean out that closet.  (Pace:  Overachiever mode.)

Week 4 (10/22-10/28):
Beginner:  Buy Halloween candy while shopping.  (Pace:  What?  Kids gotta have the candy, man!)
Intermediate:  All this early Christmas prep really screwed up my Halloween.  (Pace:  not feeling it anymore.)
Advanced:  Halloween shopping was done in August, dudes!  Time to wrap!  (Pace:  Definitely hyper-speed.)

Week 5 (10/29-11/4):
Beginner:  Buy more Halloween candy because you ate the supply from last week.  (Pace:  Where's my pretty notebook and cool pens?)
Intermediate:  Throw back a few beers after the kids are finished trick-or-treating.  Chocolate makes you thirsty.  (Pace:  Is it too soon to carb load?)
Advanced:  Fill in list with fun stuff and stocking stuffers.  (Pace:  I'm still so early, it's ridiculous!)

Week 6 (11/5-11/11):
Beginner:  Raid kids' candy stash.  (Pace:  I think it's the month Thanksgiving falls in, but I'm on such a sugar high, I could be wrong.)
Intermediate:  I could still do this whole 'be ready early' thing.  I totally could.  (Pace:  needing a kick in the pants.)
Advanced:  Why not go get a, make that TWO turkeys.  I'll need them this holiday season.  Preparing feels good.  I'm so much better than everyone else right now.  (Pace:  Woo Hoo!)

Week 7 (11/12-11/18):
Beginner:  What a nice little break between Halloween and Thanksgiving!  I think I'll put my feet up and relax this week!  (Pace:  La De Dah, La De Dah.)
Intermediate:  Holy Shit!  If I'm going to be finished in 13 days, I better start soon.  (Pace:  OMG, 13 days, really?)
Advanced:  I may start early meal prepping activities for Thanksgiving.  Yes, I'm calm, cool, and collected.  (Pace:  Arrogance.  Pure, unadulterated arrogance.)

Week 8 (11/19-11/30):  Yes, I know that 12 day weeks do not exist, but for purposes of this example, gimme a little artistic license, OK?  
Beginner:  Oh.  My.  God.  Who put Thanksgiving on the calendar so early this year?  Why are there no handy guides for planning for Thanksgiving, for God's sake?  Why is this whole Xmas thing so important anyway?  (Pace:  spinning out of control, I don't even have time to spell Christmas.  I mean Xmas.)
Intermediate:  I have slacked off for a few weeks now.  Check the list, shop for more stuff, buy wrapping paper, serve Thanksgiving dinner to 14 people with a damn smile on your face, find the ladder, get the decorations down, buy the tree, decorate the tree, run around the house spraying evergreen-scented air freshener, nag husband to put house lights up, think about wrapping gifts...(Pace:  frantic frenzy.)
Advanced:  Realizing that all gifts are wrapped, having a Homer Simpson "D'oh" moment when you realize you forgot the gift tags.  "Shit."  (Pace:  "Shit.")

So, you see, in my humblest of opinions, moderation is the key.  And by moderation, I mean do everything at the last minute.  Who isn't motivated by a goal?

Are you an early shopper?

Totally unrelated...What's on your Christmas (Hannukah/Kwanzaa) list this year?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Vicious Cycles

Don't pretend you didn't miss me!

Instead of being silent about why I've been so silent, I'm sharing a little bit about what's been going on lately.  We are having some serious family issues right now with one of our college-age kids, and it's really been getting to me.  It is affecting every facet of my life, including running.  I know for a fact that a good, sweaty run will improve my outlook on life, my mood and consequently, I run happy again the next day, and the day after that.  Well, it stopped working.  I mean, what the hell?  I thought this running thing was supposed to make everything better.  Can you actually build up a tolerance to running, like people do with drugs, where you need more and more to get your fix?

In the real world, bad stuff happens, and for me, running usually gives me a different perspective on the bad stuff.  Sometimes, all you need is a shift in your perception to change your reality.  But lately, the perspective has been going nowhere, and therefore the running is going nowhere too.  Add to that the heat and humidity of July (minus two wonderfully cool, glorious days last week), multiply it by the kid issue and snap!  You've got a vicious cycle on your hands.

So if you're in my head, this is what you'd hear:

Starting Point:  I feel like crap, so I'll go for a run.
While Running:  Jeez, I thought this run would make me feel better, at least temporarily.  So why the hell am I crying?  Oh right, because, unlike baseball, there IS crying in running.
Post-Run:  Well, that sucked.
The Next Morning:  I still feel like crap, so I'll go for a run.  Hold on.  This didn't work yesterday. Why would it work today?  But hey, you never know what fun things might happen when you get out there, so just go.  OK, fine.
While Running:  I got nothing.  Just nothing.
Post Run:  WTF?!?

See what I mean?  So the gigantic elephant in the room, the 100-lb. gorilla, the $100,000 question is...WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT, HUH?  Something's gotta give.  We cannot continue to do the same thing day after day, and expect different results.  Routines can be great, but when you've got this vicious cycle thing happening, you have to break your routine and do something different.

So mid-blog, I've decided what that would be.  I reached out to a friend and asked him to run with me this week.  I know it sounds like nothing, but I normally run alone, on my own schedule, according to my own psychoses.  But wait.  I do know that every time I drag myself (getting out the door is sometimes the hardest part!) to my running group, I always feel so freaking great afterwards.  I get this sparkling energy from my running friends, and it lasts me until the next run, and maybe even the next, to the point where my starting point dialogue magically changes.  This is exactly what I need in order to break the cycle and get a good run under my belt.

I know myself well enough to understand that once I get this way, I need a chain gang of people to pull the bad stuff out of my head, to make space to cram some positive energy and thoughts back in there. I'm usually pretty "up", especially when it comes to running.  Like, don't even ask me about a race, or my last long run, or how my already slow paces are just getting slower, or you'll see my inner running geek rear it's ugly head.  I'm normally pretty quiet, but when it comes to running, I'll talk all dog-gone day about it.  It gets worse when the running gets bad.  My husband is a great supporter of my running, but when I get into this negative spin cycle, he checks out.

I don't blame him.  Sometimes, I need to check out too.  Maybe I can't change my family issue right now, and I certainly have no control over the weather.  I can only change what I can control.  I know what works for me, and what doesn't.  I'm going to make this one small change this week, and I have no doubt that it will turn my running upside down, which is exactly what I need right now.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer in this kind of a setting, but I realize that everyone has ups and downs. Facebook is a wonderful tool for giving and getting motivation, but you usually will not see the mundane trials and tribulations of people's everyday problems (that's not 100% true--we all have those "friends" who share absolutely everything.)  I wouldn't be true to myself if I were to project only my happy self to you.  I've been in a slump lately, for sure, but I'm doing what I can to pull myself up out of it, with a little help from my friends.

What do you do when you find yourself in a negative spin cycle?

Did you ever realize that raising kids was this hard?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Follow My Blog...please?

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There's No Crying in Baseball!

I watched a movie yesterday afternoon because it was too stinking hot to do anything outside.  Flipping through the channels, I saw that "A League of Their Own" was on.  I've only seen this movie once, but the best line of the movie is when Tom Hanks says, "There's no crying in baseball!"  What a 1992 gem!

It's a great line!  It's been used by the trainers at my gym, after they made me do pull-ups once,  and I cried.  (Have you ever tried to do pull-ups?  They're really hard!)  "There's no crying at the gym!"  It's been used by my husband at the office when someone has a breakdown. "There's no crying at the office!"  It can apply to so many situations, so there are many opportunities to pull it out.

The problem is, I'm a crier.  You can count on me to cry at any cry-worthy opportunity.  But I'm not a bawler, like the girl in the clip, I'm a tearer-upper.  Tears will stream down my face if I know I won't see my kids for an extended period of time.  They pop up when I think about when my kids were little babies.  They definitely made a cameo appearance when I dropped my two oldest kids off at college, and again when I have to say goodbye after a long Thanksgiving holiday break.  Oh, and again after the even longer Christmas break.  The people that make tear-worthy movie scenes, it definitely works on me.  Here's me with Luke after I finished my first and only marathon, and I'm crying.

So this morning, during my early morning run, some stupid Alanis Morissette song came on, and it ALMOST made me cry.  So I pull out the old stand-by, "There's no crying in running!"  But then, when I thought about it, I really have to take issue with that statement because there IS crying in running.  The tears did not spring forth this morning, because I pushed them back down.  I swallowed the lump in my throat that started to form, because if I didn't, I would've had to stop running, and I was so close to home.

You have to understand that during my runs, I start off pathetic and unwilling.  The first few minutes I try to justify turning around, going home, and crawling back into bed.  I've waited too long, it's too hot (cold, windy, rainy) already, I'm never going to make it, why did you take up this sport anyway?  This litany of put-downs runs through my head almost every time.  Then after the first half mile or so, I've decided that I will not, in fact, turn around, and will continue.  After that decision is made, I then I start to feel pretty good because I'm running (Running!  Me!) at 6 a.m. and everyone else is probably still sleeping.  I make my turnaround, and now I'm really feeling totally awesome (Maybe I'll go a little further today than I'm supposed to, that's how good I feel right now!) and in total rock star mode.  Ideas are running through my head like crazy, inspirations popping up left and right, I am going to do so much today!

Then the stupid song came on and threatened to wash away all those good feelings.  Noooooo!  There have been plenty of times that I have cried during runs, and while it doesn't feel good at the time, those tears represent a physical or emotional barrier that I've probably broken, whether it's in miles, time or just being out there in tough conditions.  I remember one 16-miler in particular where it was so hot, I was jumping through every sprinkler that was on, cramping up like crazy, almost being run over by a 6-year old out-of-control bike rider, and finally breaking down and walking, emotionally and physically spent.  Problem is, I was still many miles from home and I had to get back.  I wallowed in my "poor me" film running through my head for longer than I should have, then I picked myself up, and started running again and got myself home.

It's never easy to get through the tears as they're happening, but when you do come out on the other side, it's like you've earned a badge of honor, a notch on the belt, total bragging rights.  Days, weeks, months later, when you have to call up that courage, you know it'll be there because of what you went through.  As painful as the tears may be, I know that they have created tough little callouses in me, making me stronger in ways I can't even fathom yet, and I know I'll be able to handle that much more because I got myself through what I felt was the most difficult situation.

Are you an easy crier?

Do you prefer to go around quoting movie lines or songs?

What inspires you?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Quiet Sunday Evening

It’s strange to be at the beach on a Sunday night.  Sunday night is when everyone packs up and leaves the island, and traffic is clogged as we speak, going westbound towards home, to obligations, and to musts.  Right now, I’m sitting here looking at this. 

It’s quiet here now.  As a mother of four, I never thought my life would be this quiet.  When my kids were ages seven, five, two and one, I never thought I’d have a moment to myself.  There were always bubbly baths to give, hungry mouths to feed, and tiny laundry to fold.  There were car seats, high chairs and diaper bags to pack.  There were ages and stages to share with other moms, there were activities to carpool to, and lunches to pack.  Not that I’m not busy now, but it’s different.  My “kids” are now 21, 19, 16 and 14.  All double digits.  I remember when my oldest turned 10—what a big deal it was!  Then there were the teenage years to deal with--middle school, and high school obligations and concerns.  I remember one year in particular when I had each child in a different school—one in college, one in high school, one in middle school and one in elementary school.  That year there were lots of bills (college), emails (high school), projects (middle school) and volunteering (elementary school) to deal with.

This coming fall I’ll have two in college (shout out to Virginia Tech and West Virginia University!), one in high school, and one in middle school.  The brood is becoming a smaller unit.  Where we used to be a family of six, we are now a family of four most of the time.  Travel is so much easier; dinner reservations, a snap.  But it’s not the same—something’s missing.  Isn't it hard getting older?

Sunday nights are for planning, and looking forward to the week ahead.  They are all fresh starts and quiet reminders of things that are on our agendas.  But they can also be melancholy.  Personally, today was the first day I had not run in six days--reason alone for the melancholy! That’s not the norm for me.  I’m usually busy working, weight training, and running, and it’s hard to fit it all in.  In the summer, I get to relax and do whatever I want to, without obligations, without musts.  So I’m choosing to run more often.

On this Sunday evening, right before the day gives way to night, I will look forward to tomorrow.  Tomorrow has possibilities, whereas today may have had disappointment and failure.  Tomorrow has light, whereas today, the light is almost gone.  Tomorrow is the future and today, almost past.

Tomorrow, I look forward to my run.  A day of rest gives me the realization that the daily chore of running is not really a chore, it’s a blessing.  It makes me happy, it gives me energy to do the things that I enjoy, and it affords me the happy, worn out laziness that I earned with my sweat.

As we close the book on this long holiday weekend, I’m almost giddy that tomorrow is Monday.  On any of the other 42 weeks of the year, that’d be grounds for  blasphemy, but during these ten blissful summer weeks, Monday will be a joyful experience, and I’m ready for it.

Do you get melancholy on Sunday evenings?

Do you EVER look forward to Mondays?

Are you at a different stage in your life, trying to figure it all out?

See you soon, 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Happy

Happy Fourth of July!

Last week I was running one morning on LBI.  I get to spend the entire summer here, and I love every stinking minute of it.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s cloudy and overcast, rainy and windy, or sunny and perfect, I love this place unconditionally.  This particular run was an uneventful run, as in bland, nothing amazing, nothing awful.  This is what I’ve come to realize is normal, and normal can be a great thing.  Normal means that I’m not injured, not sore, not agitated and not suffering.  Normal equals good.  At the age of 47, I’ve come to really appreciate normal.  Poor normal gets overlooked, in my opinion. 

Towards the end of my completely normal run, I picked my head up to distract myself with some people watching.  I happened to see a middle-aged (don’t you hate when people use that term?  what does it mean, exactly?) husband and wife getting ready to go for a bike ride.  It was a nice day, and they seemed to be nice enough people.  I was pretty happy with myself, because I get like that when I run.  So the husband happens to be wearing a Virginia Tech t-shirt.  Virginia Tech’s mascot are called Hokies.  What is a Hokie, you ask?  Well, it just so happens that my son Connor is!   He has just finished his sophomore year there, as a Forestry major.  On campus, that’s exactly what they say when you ask, too.  Question: “What’s a Hokie?” Answer: “I am.”  Yea, it doesn’t make much sense, but that’s what they’re called.

Since I’m at the end of my run, the endorphins are kicking into high gear.  I take one look at his shirt, break out into a huge smile, and I cannot help but say “Hey there, I have a Hokie too!!!”  Now who knows whether the guy borrowed this shirt, bought it second-hand, or just had no idea what he was wearing that day.   Do you know what he said to me?  He said, “Good for you.”  As in, the famous Christian Bale on-set rant.  You can see it here.  This is one angry guy. 

As a side note, it’s hard to say “Good for you” without imparting the slightest undertone of sarcasm.  Go ahead, try it now.  See?  I told you.

When I tell you I was completely flabbergasted by this man’s unfriendly response to my friendly greeting, I’d be downplaying it.  Since this guy has zero power over my endorphins, and I usually retaliate with humor to an uncomfortable situation, I pretend I’m running with a friend.  So I look over to my imaginary friend and say, “Wow, what a d!$&.  Oh, goooooood for yooooouuuuuu.  Good for me?  Absolutely!  Good for you?  Not so much.”  I mean, I’m gesturing to my imaginary friend, I’m talking to her, nodding, and she’s in total agreement with me.  Imaginary friends are perfect like that.

Now I cannot tell you what the conversation was between this husband and wife, but it was probably something like this.  Wife: “Honey, why you gotta be so mean?”  Husband: “Because that girl was just too goshdarn happy, and I wanted to impose my miserable mood on her.”  Wife:  “Oh.  OK.”

I guess my point is straightforward.  I run because when I’ve finished running, I’m happy.  The happy could last all day, or it could last for an hour.  But one thing is guaranteed.  For at least a portion of my day, I’m happy, and that's a pretty big deal, for me.  There is so much to be unhappy about, that you really have to make a point to squeeze in the happy, wherever you can find it.  Here's a favorite clip of mine, from Finding Nemo, about feeling happy.

I know it sounds ridiculously simple.  Kind of like when a child asks where babies come from.  Simple question, complicated answer.  I’ll go so far as to say that I’m a better person since I’ve started running.  Colors are more vibrant, friendships are more treasured, food tastes more better.  Yeah, I said it.  More better.   

I’ve come to know myself better and I’ve come to an improved understanding about relationships.  Sometimes it’s more difficult to understand those close to you, because by definition, the difficulties probably include you.  Running is not a cure-all, I know.  You could substitute anything in place of it, as long as it makes you happy.  I know my walker friends get the same happy feeling when they walk, and I know those who love to weight lift, scrapbook, volunteer, or finish a DIY project.  There are so many things that can make you feel happy, I hope that you know what yours is.  It’s important to define what happy is for you, and then make sure you include it in your life on a regular basis.  

Have you defined what makes you happy?

Do you go around quoting movies in your head?

Did you ever have an imaginary friend?

Enjoy the holiday!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Old Guy in Red Bermuda Shorts

Well, I just thought I'd regale you with the details of my little sprint this morning.  No big deal, really, to anyone else but me, but I thought you might enjoy it.

I know I'm not scheduled to run, but I'm not going to the gym anymore, so I'm filling in with running.  Besides, I'm miserable when I don't run (aka, yesterday), so I was definitely running today.  Started out uneventfully, happy, even, because when I stepped outside, it was kind of cool-ish, still humid, but less hot than it's been.  I know Bucks County has been getting rain, but so far, none here yet this weekend.  Walk down my driveway, cross the boulevard and start my watch.  Wait for the walkers, runners, strollers and bikes to pass, found my place on Beach Road, and started off.

At the half mile point, I pass a friend's house and I run just a little faster (you never know who's watching!).  Check out the runners on the other side of the road, and the not-so-bright ones on MY side of the road (aka, the correct side of the road to be running on!)  Give a few waves, a few thumbs up, a few nods.  Keep on running.  Pass a few walkers (yessss!), and then I come upon this old man running ahead of me.  He has a golf hat on with crazy browni-ish gray hair sticking out of it, shoes on that were NOT made for running, and red bermuda shorts.  Yes, that's right, with the pockets, cuffs and belt.  They could've even had little sailboats on them, I'm not sure.  He was running at a slow and steady pace, and I was taking him down (in my mind).  I wasn't sure how far I was running this morning, two or three miles, but at that point, I decided I was running three.  Passed the old guy, no problem.

My halfway point is the police station and the only stop signs on this particular stretch of road.  That is my cue to catch my breath and walk for a minute or so, and head back for the second half of my run.  Well, apparently it was Old Man's halfway point also.  Doesn't he run past me?  So I say, "No big deal, as soon as I start running again, I'll pass him again."  And I did, no problem, and I'm like, "That's right, old man, you got nothin' on me."  If people knew half the stuff that went on in my head, they'd think I was nuts.  Anyway, on I go, sweating now because of the humidity.  Passing some walkers, dodging some kids on bikes, the usual.

Up ahead I see some people standing in the road and I'm thinking I definitely have to go around them, into the road a little.  Well, when I come up on them, I see why they're standing in the middle of the road.  They're watching a house being demolished.  I had to stop and watch for a minute, and so I decided to remove the phone from my arm and snap a picture.

Pretty cool, right?  I thought so too.  I stood there for a few minutes, watching the backhoe take apart this house.  This woman in front of me thought it was pretty cool, too.  It was a nice break, to just stand there for a minute, catch my breath.  BUT WAIT!  I'm now behind again!  Oh no, I gotta go!  I look over at all the people I've passed, now a few minutes ahead of me again, and of course, Old Man was up there, plodding along in his not running shoes and red bermuda sailboat shorts.  At this point, I'm a little more than a half a mile from home, and now I have a goal.  I'm taking this guy down, for the third time this morning.  I take off from the house wrecking scene, and run ahead.  I can see the walker I passed, who is now running, who I also have to pass.  No problem, I got this.  I can see Old Man up ahead, but I also spot my street.  At this point, I am in a full sprint, my only goal being to pass Old Red Shorts before I get to my street.  He must've heard me coming because he turned to look and I whizzed right by him, broke the tape and won the race.  I make a right, head up my street, practically doubled over, I'm breathing so hard.  But totally victorious.  Aw yea!!

I'm sure he had no idea he lost anything, and he didn't even realize I was racing him, he was probably just happy to get out and run a few miles in his crazy getup.  But in my mind, I beat that guy three times today, and all before 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning.  All I have to do now is stop picking on poor old guys on vacation, who just want to run a few miles.  Maybe he forgot his running gear, and that's all he had!  At least the guy got out there and ran, even if he did look ridiculous.

I don't begrudge anyone who actually gets their butt out the door, because showing up is the hardest part.  Once you're out there, who really cares what you wear, how fast or slow you are, or what the other crazy people think about you?  All I know is that the Old Guy in the Red Bermuda Shorts got me to run a little faster, sweat a little more and think of myself as a winner today.  That's a pretty big deal in my book. And the reality is, his street was my street, and so we both ran the same amount of miles this morning.  Good, bad, ugly or wonderful, a mile is a mile is a mile.

Happy Running,