Thursday, May 26, 2016

It's never a good time

Life is a busy time every day...and when we have a break it's usually short lived.  When nothing is going on I tend to think that I have forgotten something...fifty percent of the time it's probably true!

I was challenged by a friend to do 22 push ups for 22 days to raise awareness of suicide with military veterans...everyday 22 veterans take their life.  This is a hard challenge, physically and mentally...I have miserable form and when I want to stop I think about these veterans and how they never stop...they never get to throw in the towel and say well that just isn't going to happen.  

As I started my day with snuggles with G4 in bed after G2 finished her breakfast and we were all piled into a twin bed...we began our morning process.  We escorted her to the bus and had a jump start on the day together.  G3 came down wearing her graduation cap...she made my morning.  I know that I am only on day 5 of this challenge and it is not getting any easier.

So I dropped to the floor in my kitchen and did my 22 push ups...every one of them was hard, difficult, strenuous, shaking and not in perfect form.  I agreed to this challenge and I will complete it and hopefully improve my form in the process.  I could have waited til 9pm tonight to get this done...but I chose 7:55am.

It's all hard...making the time and not the excuse is really the hardest.  My physical activity of choice is running and as much as I choose to run...every mile is still difficult.  It doesn't get easier but it becomes my routine...and that is what becomes easier.  The activity is still a challenge...the time that I make in my day to ensure it happens...that is what becomes easier.  And every day that I make that lace up my shoes and not deal with a messy playroom or laundry to be folded but rather make sure my time is becomes easier.  

The other thing about routines is when they happen...everyone else is aware of them and they stop questioning what you are up to.  When I make my food choices throughout the day and the kids see me measure and weigh's not bizarre to's just what mom does...and that doesn't make me feel out of place.  When I hop on the treadmill at 2pm to be done by the time G2 is off the bus at 3pm...G3 and G4 play...and don't really even talk to me while I am running except to ask what I would like my "play recovery meal" to be.  I am always greeted with a huge spread!

Making the decision to start up these routines is hard...and all you want to tell yourself is I have to get ready for x or y...need to do something with the kids...I need to give another 60 minutes to this project for work.  At the end of the day...the project that everyone will benefit from in the long run is you.  You need to feel good about you on the inside and the outside.  You need to realize that timing will never be ideal but that is no reason to not start or continue.  We all would like to just list off the excuses as to why we can't do I challenge  you to list of the benefits of you becoming a stronger healthier you...I think you'll like that list much better!

Embrace the suck...choose is the time!
memorial day 5k 2015...making the time

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What starts out as one thing...ends as another

This morning I laid in bed so angry with the fact that I did not want to get up and run.  I knew this would be my ONLY window for an outside run and I just needed to suck it up and get out of bed.  I was turning since 5:30 am knowing that my alarm was going to go off and the run would be upon me.  I finally made my way out of bed and now what was planned as a 7 mile run would have to be 4 due to time restraints.

Did my normal loop in my hood and it was a bit chilly and the ground was wet.  No precip was happening yet and I was feeling pretty good post Ragnar Relay...I headed back home with 4.5 done and planned to do 2.5 on the treadmill...hubby and G2 were running late...I got to finish the entire run outside and the skies did open and I was now fully wet.  People always say you never regret a workout after it is was a perfect example of that!

Beyond words Beautiful!!!

Last Thursday I headed to Chattanooga TN with two women as we were on our way to meet up with the other nine women that would complete our Ragnar Relay Team..You Ran Me All Night Long.  This was our third time running as a team and this go round we had two newbies to our of which had never done a Ragnar before.  This was going to be a great adventure!  We headed out in our swagger wagon around 9am arriving in Tennessee around 6pm.  We were greeted by an excited group of ladies that were ready for our first night out.  A lot of introductions were made as well as welcome back hugs and we were on our way!

I have only been in Van 2 for these relays so that means our running will begin mid afternoon on Friday.  Van one kicked things off at 7am and we meet up with them at the first major exchange.  This relay only had 180 teams where the one we did last May had 400.  Things were much quieter..calmer..and just a bit more relaxed.  I wouldn't say it was bad or good...just a different overall feeling.  The sun was shining and we were embracing the sun's rays and warmness on our was amazing compared to the rain haven we have been experiencing for the last two plus weeks here.

Leg 1
Van 2 only had 5 runners so we had to make up the three legs that our other runner would have run.  This meant my first leg was going to be a big one....11.7 miles.  I was the second runner to go in our van and was getting very anxious for it to begin!  The best part of these is NOT about speed, pace, where you finish, if you broke a is about your love of running and sense of community.  I started my run just before was 70 degrees and beautiful!!

We finished our first set of legs, headed to our hotel for a quick shower and change then into a small town for some dinner.  Table for five and let's all get a chicken sandwich!  Didn't want anything that would upset the tummy during the night run.  It felt great to sit and be clean and just enjoy each other's company.  Our next run was going to begin by 10pm...we were ready!!

Chilly Night Running
In the past two Ragnars we did I ran my night runs alone.  I tried my best to keep a blinker in view from a runner ahead so I knew I was not truly alone but I remember they have not been fun!  I was determined for this night run to find a buddy.  As we waited for our first runner to come in I surveyed the area and hoping to find anyone that would be willing to put up with me for over six miles.  There was a guy in the shoot waiting for his runner...they called both our team numbers so we were both up next...I asked his pace...he told me...I said...Can I run with you...and we were off together!  Not that Ragnars are "scary" but solo runs in the woods with just you and headlamp can be a bit unsettling.  Eric made my night!  He and his team do one race a year together as well...we talked and talked...who are we kidding...I talked mostly!  I never felt scared...well maybe just once when a dog started barking at another live animal in the woods...but it was a great run!  The next three runners in our van ran with his runners on their team.  IT WAS AMAZING!  Our rookie was definitely not feeling the night run and having that buddy made it great for her...they were our life savers in reflective vests!!

When we finished leg 2 we headed back to hotel, showered and slept...those 2.5 hours felt like 5!  It was great and we woke at 7am and headed back to the relay.  Our final runner in van 1 was on her way to the exchange and we were all going to be done soon!  That final runner in van 1 had pretty major back surgery 8 weeks ago and she rehabbed herself and ran every single one of her legs!  I am so beyond inspired by her...she NEVER gives up and was an awesome example for our team.  Another woman that kicked some serious Ragnar butt is our Rookie.  She has completed her first half marathon...just a few months ago...and on this relay she knocked out over 16 miles!  She doubled up her final leg to make up for our missing runner...and despite her feeling like death in the moment...she is beyond proud of herself and will be ready to crush her marathon in the fall.  She learned a valuable lesson this past weekend...and the bottom line is this...she is capable of amazing things!  

Our final legs in van 2 took us right into Nashville.  The sun had come back out and we stood in a park in the middle of the city waiting for our runner 12 to appear.  All ten of us had regrouped and were ready for this thing to be done.  When she appeared...she was smiling and was a true vision of beauty...we had accomplished our goal...and we all ran in behind her leading the way to the finish line!

In typical Ragnar awesomeness...our medals double as beer openers and a puzzle.  We built our puzzle and took the required pic with our foot in it...without any of those feet we would not get to that finish line.  These relays are a true sense of community and I am so honored to be a part of a team that continues to push limits and find a new part of themselves along the way.
Medals, puzzle, beer opener :)

So we finished, we celebrated, we laughed and maybe cried a little.  We again accomplished something that others may hope to do someday.  By us continuing to do this with each other we can show those hopefuls that hard is not impossible, that you are capable of amazing things, that what you may have thought about yourself at the beginning of all this has probably changed, that sometimes it feels amazing to run in the rain, that despite all your inner energy telling you that you can' do!  These relays are about a lot more than running in the dark, decorating a van, checking boxes and covering 200 miles.  I am so honored to have these women in my life...I can't wait for our next adventure...I am so thankful for my team and all that you continue to share with me and inspire...and thank you for putting up with  me!!  No regrets...always amazing with you ladies!


Embrace the Suck...Choose You!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

so much to little time

yup...I have a house that is flipped upside down, laundry to be switched over, dinner to be prepped, sheets to put back on beds, swim team suits to inventory....the list is WAY TOO LONG!

So I will sit here and do a quick mental check in.  I am recovered physically from last week's marathon...the head and heart are still a bit sore but I can sit down on the toilet with out assistance.  Post race I had only run a total of three times and none at anything close to race pace.  This morning my alarm was set for 5:50am to go and tackle the hood...did not happen.  Turned off the alarm and convinced myself I would go when the littles were at school.

I ended up running with a friend and we both pushed each other way harder than I think we were either planning on doing.  It felt great!!

There is a part of me that gets a bit broken after a race...good or bad outcome.  All that build's like a wedding or a vacation...looking forward to it...planning, prepping, training...and then it's over.  There is a definite bit of a let down.  So I ate a whole bunch of crap food for over a week...haven't tracked a thing that I have put in my mouth...and just was kind of going through the motions.  Today I flipped that switch.

post 12.8 leg in last years relay..wicked hard
That is the thing of never know what it will take for your switch to flip.  Today it was six miles for me at a fast pace which resulted in a lot of hard breathing and a full on sweat!  It felt awesome.  It made me so happy I decided to run and check in with said friend if she wanted to meet up. 

This weekend is my third Ragnar Relay...we head out Thursday morning and I can't wait to spend four days with 10 amazing woman.  Life can get so heavy on the heart and mind that these relays are great reminders of the things that I love so much.  I look forward to hearing some amazing stories, meeting some inspiring people on the course, and laughing.  These Ragnars are such a great mental break from life and kind of let me know I am okay.  These days are not about speed or distance covered but about people that are doing what they love...even if the moment it may not feel that way.

Today I hope a switch is flipped for you...I hope you are feeling a bit warm and fuzzy on the inside on this dreary chilly day.  I hope that you don't take this as a day to feel sad, lonely or unloved but maybe remember the love you have for your family and they have for you.  It's okay that everything is not perfect...things have a way of falling as they are supposed to.  Not always understood at the forefront but makes sense as the time goes on.   Perfect is BORING!

Trying to not get all sappy sappy on myself but it comes down to this...we get this life to love and live...and today is a gift!  Keep smiling and running if that is what moves you!

Embrace the suck...keep choosing you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

the stars weren't aligned

Pre Race Day - Ready to crush it!
After my second marathon on April 26, 2015 I missed a time goal by 13 seconds. I signed up within a month to run that same marathon on May 1, 2016 and told myself that I would train harder, faster, stronger than I did previously and that alone would make that goal a reality.

Today is two days post race legs are sore. my toes are raw and my heart is happy. I missed that same time goal again...and I even missed it by more than the last year. All of my hard work let me cross that finish line in one piece, and let me be okay with the fact that "it" didn't happen that day. In all of my trying to figure out the perfect formula to have the perfect race I have realized that the day of the race pretty much has to have perfect star alignment. And despite the fact that my stars were not aligned on Sunday it does not take away from the hundreds of miles that I ran, the planks that I held, the cold and hot runs in the dark and blaring sunshine...all of that work was still needed.
Ready to RUN!

That race morning there was nothing I didn't think I would accomplish. I walked with my friend Julie(a real person, not me talking about myself in third person) to the start after we were dropped off and saw my friend Laura waving at me from the out shoot of the main runners exit. We had our picture quickly snapped and made our way to the corrals. Julie wanted to make sure I found my 3:35 guy and gave me a big hug and told me I was good and ready. I settled in with the fellow pace runners and we chatted a bit in the nervous energy to get to know each other a bit. We all wanted this 3:35 finish time and we were quite a pack.

Started at 7:33...we were the third corral out...and we were off. I saw my crew at the exit and there was a lot of hooting and was awesome. We cruised along and headed to mile 2.5 and I knew the crew was going to be there again...they were in transit and I saw them sprinting towards the 11 year old made it with a big smile and wave and I saw my hubby shuffling along carrying our three year old and the others were in the space between. My heart was happy. I was going to see them again at mile 9 but they missed me...I was going to have to wait till the finish line to see their faces again.

Pace group 3:35
We moved along and the miles were ticking away...the weather was not ideal but we were still mostly inland and the wind had not hit us yet. The group was sticking together and the pacers were telling all these crazy stories trying to keep our mind at bay. I was with the front pacer for the first half no issue...then I was finding myself between the two and then at mile 15 I found myself just barely holding it with the second pacer. Paul was the pacer I ran with last year...and we had messaged prior to race day...he knew what I was training for.

We were now at mile 15 and Paul asked how I was doing...I shook my hand to say so so...he then said...Julie if you can't answer me then you need to back off...You need to be able to finish this. I knew I had lost the pace group last year at mile 18 and this year I knew I had family waiting for me down at mile 18 and 20. My goal was to stay with the pace group to that point and seeing my family would give me the energy burst I needed. My calf was killing me...and I knew my plan was going to have to change.

Crossing the mat at mile 20
I held as tight as I could to keeping 3:35 in my sights and that was all I could hope for. I wanted to make it to mile 23 before hearing the 3:40 pace on my heels. At one of the turn arounds Paul and the pace group were just cruising along...and he gave me a big shout out..."There she is...Orange Visor!!" I knew how bad I wanted to be running with them...and I knew it was not happening today. I saw my family at mile 20....I was doing all I could to just keep going and get off the boards after crossing mile 20. The wind and rain was miserable and it was going to be a long 6.2 miles to the finish.

I saw my buddy Mike who was getting served a very tough first marathon while I was on the stretch back up the highway. He was cruising along in cold, wet, windy conditions...left, right, left, right...while wearing his orange visor. He gave me a burst. I tried to push a little bit...doing the math I knew that sub 3:40 was not going to happen today and at this point I just wanted to finish without stopping. My leg was still in a lot of pain and I knew how lonely and long this final stretch to the finish was. One mile at a time was all I could focus on.

I made the turn at 25 to get back on the boardwalk...there were not a lot of spectators on the boards like last year...I so badly just wanted to be done...wanted to be warm...and wanted to see my family. I was not sad that it was not going to happen. The stars were not aligned....but I was still not going to stop. I went past the stretch were the bars were packed and hopping last year...I heard my friend Sharon shout in my head....go JULIE....and I so badly wanted to push. I had nothing left. I kept looking for the mile 26 marker and never saw it...that is where my family was last year and I just wanted to see them.

finish line in sight!
I finally saw them and I could see that coveted finish line. I had no juice left to sprint up to that shoot...and the cheers from the family were quiet. They knew that my time goal was not going to happen today and they just wanted me to finish. I crossed and walked and was so very happy to be able to stop running. I was freezing and felt a little sick to my stomach...but I just kept going to find my people. Paul was there talking with the runners he brought in with the 3:35 group...and he found me. He asked how I was feeling...and he assured me I will get it!
Happy Finisher 3;42:40

Ben found me as I made it through the food tables and just gave me a big hug. He was upset and I assured him I was okay. I knew at 15 it was not going to happen and to finish with a 3:42:40 in as much pain as I was in...was beyond a success. Qualifying for Boston is not an easy feat. Training to run a marathon is hard enough but then putting it all out there for such a HUGE goal makes it that much more mentally challenging. I never doubted myself that I was able to make this goal, I am still confident that it will...and maybe even this year...but I know that I gave all and everything I had that day to that race. My day was my day and I would not change it.

Life is full of so many ups and downs and we need them all to have balance. When I cross that finish line under 3:40:00 the stars will most certainty be aligned...nutrition, mechanics, heart, soul, weather, and a little luck all have to go in your favor on that day. My people were there with me, they hugged me while my teeth chattered for a solid hour after the race and they will do it again.

To say that I am not disappointed that my BQ did not happen on Sunday would be a lie.  To say that I didn't shed a few tears while recapping this here today would also be an untruth.  When you find something that you are passionate about and people believe in you and truly want you to want that goal even more.  Work is work for a reason and I will go back to the drawing board and start this whole process over again.  Dreams have a funny way of coming true when they are supposed to.  So thank you for believing in me, for cheering for me, for asking if I am okay, and for smiling and congratulating me.  I never knew that these dreams would be the ones I would be chasing...and loving every minute of it! 

Embrace the suck...choose you....keep dreaming...the stars will align!
Splits NJ Marathon 2016