Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Across the border and pushing out of your comfort zone

Just like I have for the past two years, I trained all winter long for a grueling spring marathon and then get to reward myself with a Ragnar Relay with 11 amazing women that I am lucky enough to call my friends.  This time a passport was required as we headed north to Canada to run the 200ish miles from Cobourg to Niagara Falls.  I have only been to Canada one other time in high school for a band trip, we will leave that there, and I was looking forward to seeing many different places along our journey. 
Start of the Relay...Leg 1 of 36
For those of you that do not know what a Ragnar Relay can involve either 12 or 6 runners and covers about 200 miles on the road and is a point to point relay.  It takes about 36 hours to complete and there are multiple teams doing this at the same time.  The route in which we have to run is marked with signs from the race but generally speaking the individuals running may just look like your every day runner in the area unless you know that this relay is taking place.  The teams with six runners is referred to as an Ultra team and they would then run double the miles that the team of 12 would run.  I have done that once and not jumping in that van again too soon.

Coming in at Leg 1
This whole idea of creating a Ragnar team starting one summer afternoon sitting poolside with some ladies in the neighborhood. I am not even sure who brought it up first but it was discussed and a few of us thought it sounded like a good idea and thought we may know a few friends that would be silly enough to fall for it as well.  Our first one was done in DC, then Cape Cod, then Nashville Tennessee and then our latest, Niagara Falls Canada.  If you have followed me for some time you know that I like to run, I like to run long, and I like to try and run as fast as my body will let me at that given time.  Ragnar Relays for me are not about the speed or grueling push that I put myself through on a regular road race.  This is about the moms/friends that were sitting pool side and thought this might be a good idea to get away, to connect with women that we may not normally be with on a given day,  This relay was about trying something out of the norm and comfort zone.  Who knew it would be something we would fall in love with.
Leg 1 done

Don't get me wrong, the logistics behind it all is crazy and our captain has been amazing for the past three years getting us all in a line.  The guilt we feel leaving our families and little people is something we just have to let go of so we can go and make the weekend about us and our hopes and goals.  We pack in ziploc baggies and triple check the packing list that nothing is forgotten, especially the body glide.  We fill our tummies with sweet potatoes, coconut cookies, pretzel thins, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.  We look forward to showers and a soft pillow to lay our head on even if it is only for a few hours.  We are always excited for the first leg where the energy is amazing...the night run is sometimes a bit scary and lonely but this year it was perfect...I saw the skyline of Toronto along the lake the whole time...and the dreaded third leg is something that just has to happen in order to find that finish line
despite being so very tired.  I had just over nine miles and about 980 feet of elevation was a dozy but so beautiful!
Running in at the finish

My one girlfriend who was here for her second Ragnar kept commenting on how one of the great things about these relays is that it is filled with so many walks of life.  There is no pre-determined shape or body or mindset for these things.  These relays are about people that want to think outside the box, see a different part of the world, be a part of something bigger than a lonely run on a Sunday morning.  When I was on my first leg of the relay I was not feeling it as I passed a nuclear power plant, I was bumming out that I was not seeing the lake and all the beauty around it.  I looked down at my wrist and saw the slap bracelet that I had to bring to the next runner on my team.  There was no other way that she would begin with out me showing up.  These relays are about teamwork, about showing up, about being present in the presence of others.  In a time when we are all so connected via the social interwebs, this allowed us to disconnect and just be with each other.  I then rounded a corner on the path and came out on a beautiful view of Lake Ontario...the beauty was there...I just had to have patience.

Running is hard and not always rewarded with a fast time, or a feeling of euphoria as we cross the finish line.  There is nothing easy about pushing your body again and again on the same route to see if you can make that hill in your neighborhood not suck on that given day.  I have learned through my years of running that I always feel better after a run, I always enjoy the sweat and strength that is clearly present, and I always want to see what I can do better the next time.  My first race that I trained for was Army Ten Miler...I just registered this morning for my sixth one.  This race is so much more than a ten mile run...this is about a girl that listened to a friend and tried something different.  My first runs were done with a stopwatch on my wrist, whatever "running apparel" I had and sneakers that were probably too small for me and past their prime.  My training runs started with 1-2 mile runs...I did not start out running marathons.  Every runner starts somewhere and it is only one foot in front of the skill required there.

Realize that you can do hard things.  Realize that you will be rewarded for completing these tasks, and the rewards may be intangible.  Realize that you only have to focus on one day at a time.  Realize that we are all in this together and it is hard for everyone but somehow when you have a group around you it makes it a little bit easier.  If anyone asks you to do a race with them or a relay....say yes.  That person will be your accountability partner, your cheerleader, your motivator and your inspiration.  You will also find that you will be that for them as well.  The community that will develop from that one simple step will be amazing.  You will do things that you never thought were possible and you will find yourself wanting to do more, testing your own limits.

Team You Ran Me All Night Long
Embrace the Suck...choose you...hard is possible...enjoy this foot in front of the got this.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dying a little on the inside...loving a whole lot more.

So I am a runner, a fitness enthusiast and a mother.  Some times those three things play nicely together and other times I find physical conflict and internal conflict having them all happen at the same time.  I have coached a runner program for our kid's local elementary school for a few years now and my children have participated each year.  This year we moved to a new school and I am not sure if that made things more of a challenge for my daughter but it has not been easy.

follow in my footsteps
The running club is about nine weeks long and we meet two times a week.  I try my best to make this club fun, make sure there is a buddy or two for my girl to rack her laps up with, and occasionally may make up silly songs and cheers along the way.  Most of these kids start out with less than an interest in running.  Their parents know the benefits of running beyond physical and want to encourage their kids to start this passion at a young age.  I so much want my kids to have this spark lit as soon as possible.  By the end of the season they no longer are comparing how many bands they have to a friend...but how many bands they have to their own last run.  It makes my heart happy!

Two weeks into this daughter was not feeling it.  Every day after practice should we be crying and upset.  She was saying how she is missing time with her friends to do something she really didn't want to do to begin with.  I explained that I would be there every week coaching and she would have to be there with me either way.  I explained about her friends being there to run along side of her on the days she didn't have the energy or desire.  I would go in at night to give her a kiss goodnight and she would be so very upset.  She finally broke down and told me that she really doesn't want to do running club, but she know how much I love running so she does not want to let me down.

UGH!  Punch to the gut a million times in a row.  I was at a loss.  I felt like I failed!  It was a cross road and I didn't want her to take the place of a kid that truly wanted to be there.  I wanted to encourage and motivate and did not want to push and turn a deaf ear to her reasons.  She does not have to love running. She does not even have to like it.  She has been to many races to cheer and support, she sees the training that her parents put forth to propel themselves forward in our crazy adventures.  She knows all the smiles and love I have for my running community.  She doesn't want to do it.  It was a tough mommy moment for sure.

I brought her into my room that night a few weeks back and told her to give it one more week and if she really didn't want to do it, she could stop.  In a selfish attempt to keep her going, I told her that she did not have to do the 5k race at the end of the season if she didn't want to.  I asked her to try her best at each practice and if she just kept doing that, I would be very proud.  The mommy runner part of me broke a little bit.  The coach that tries to inspire these little feet felt like I let her down.  We were both kinda sad and a bit let down by each other.  We agreed to this plan and with race day two weeks away she is still not signed kills me but I am okay with that.

some days she is my running buddy
Being a mom is hard and lessons are learned and taught each day.  Molly and I both each taught each other something this season of running club.  We both had to bend a bit to make it work, we had to meet in the middle. I could have pushed her and had her truly hate it, or I could have let her fully give up and I would be so very sad.  So we compromised.  She has her days at club where she sticks with her speedy buddy and racks up the laps and she has days where she is more social and will run four in a row every once in a while.  But the part that I see when I call out one minute remaining and they have to cross the finish line in time to get an extra lap band...I see her push, I see her want to make it, I see her legs stretch and her face turn red by the end.  I see her want to do that for herself...not me.  I know it is in there, I know that runner athlete will come out soon,,.I know all that potential is locked up in there...I know it will emerge in good time...just like it did for me.  As Tom Petty says...waiting is the hardest part...but as a mom we do a lot of waiting and my gosh I love her so much...I'd wait forever.

Embrace the suck..choose you...happy mother's those monkeys.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What I am no is my day.

For the past three years I have trained for a spring marathon and I find a way of not closely watching what I am eating because I am so hungry from all the running!  I choose to not deprive myself and generally a few weeks post race I am up a few more pounds than I would like to be.  I know the tools I have in my back pocket to get myself back on track, I know certain foods that are my triggers, I know water is key to my overall success, I know the workout portion of the equation is the easier part for me...I know, I know, I know.  So much easier said then done.

seems like forever ago
But I also know this.  I am not the girl I was three years ago, two years ago and most definitely not 15 years ago.  I know today that those girls were great girls, girls I am very proud of, girls in that moment were rocking it and so very, very strong.  We all know things change and change is not a sign of weakness.  Change is the space within that allows us to grow and find something even better than what was there before.  I used to step on my scale every morning and hope that the number was where I wanted to be and then count the hours until the next time to step on the scale.  I was most definitely driven by the number.  Now I step on the scale but it is more of a weekly occurrence and one I am okay with the is my gauge.

Today is my day, not yesterday, not last week, not last year.  Every morning that I wake up I tell myself today is my day.  I cannot wrap myself up in a pity party looking at old pictures of me when I was 15 lbs lighter and in laser focus.  Today is the day that I get to make the choice of what I am going to do with me, and not have it be such a narrow view.  There is so much more to this journey than a number on a scale, so much more than how I look or don't look in a bathing suit.  At the end of the day I am the only one that is holding myself to some standard.  I am not saying to lower my standard, but to understand that you can only do what you are capable of at a given time.

me and my love bug
Life is beautiful and wonderful and joyful but my gosh is it also stressful, hurtful and dark at times too.  Any day can bring a mix of all those feelings and more and you cannot hold yourself to some crazy high standard of...that is what I used to be and I am nothing if I cannot be her again.  That is BS!  My littlest is in his mommy love stage right now.  His eyes light up when he sees me in the morning as he runs across the room to give me a hug, he asks me to snuggle with him at night before he falls asleep, he sees me put on human clothes and tells me how beautiful I am even without properly washed hair or makeup, he fills me up everyday with so much love I can't do much more than try to hug him extra tight and kiss him till he tells me to stop.  To think that I am anything less than wonderful because I can't fit into the dress that I bought 3 years ago to wear to Ben's work party would be so very wrong.  This girl right here is strong, driven, determined, loving and those qualities don't disappear if a number on the scale changes or I run a slower mile.  Don't get me wrong...I know I feel better when I am eating healthier and getting my proper sleep but I also know that I am not less of a person when that doesn't happen.  

I know I put a lot out there and it probably seems like I am spewing rainbows all day long.  I want you to know that I spew rainbows because I truly feel rainbows...I feel like if I can make someone's day a little bit better than that is a good day.  It feels good to make someone smile, it feels good to thank people for the little things, it feels good to be a good human being.  We all rush all day long to get to the next thing and stay focused on our goal...glad we have goals but don't forget other people do as well, can be a huge part in them making it to that goal if you give them some of your time.  Lift your head, smile at a stranger, thank someone for the service they provide, remember, this is them trying to make today their day too!

Embrace the suck...choose is your day!