Strong

Strong is one of those words that can be associated with many things. A strong cocktail, a strong tasting coffee, a strong chemical smell of a cleaner, or a strong towel that holds up to tug of war with your chocolate lab. Strong can also be associated with a state of mind, mentally and or emotionally. Lastly, strong can be associated with how physically strong a person is or can be. As I did my shakeout run yesterday (Sunday), I was thinking about how many times in my life I have been told that I am strong. Just this past Saturday, two days ago, my massage therapist told me my body was strong, and that he thinks I am definitely strong enough to tackle this marathon on June 17th. It made me think of all the times my running buddies have shared with me how strong I look on any given run they have seen me on lately. My thoughts navigated to when my running coach ran past me on the trails just a few weeks ago, and said the same thing about how I looked 10 miles into a 16 mile run. My thoughts then jumped through time to when my mom passed away, 24 years ago, on June 3, 1993, and how my friends and family told me to be strong for my brother, and my family that still remained.  My mom would want me to be strong.

Strong is something that I feel is relative. Relative to the time and space you are in. The mental state and the emotional balance within you dictates how “strong” your character and mindset are at a given time. The work you have put into your workouts: runs, strength training, yoga, etc. can determine how strong your body is. Strong can be something you push past when your brain wants you to give up. It can be the point just before a breaking point for a muscle. It can be a compliment. It can be an insult to an emotionally shattered child grieving for her mother. It can be a pick me up when a run really sucked, but you gave your all and then some anyway to get it done right.

Strong. Strength. Relentless forward progress. I personally took the comment from my massage therapist, who is also an athlete, as a compliment. I AM strong. I AM mentally strong and prepared for this marathon. I have the strength to move forward, relentlessly, to complete marathon number 10. I CAN do this, because I AM STRONG!

Marathon number 10 is happening in 5 sleeps! Bring it on!

 

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Reset, Recharge, Refocus

I’ve seen a theme amongst my fellow runner blogger friends: time to check out, recover, regroup, and refocus. I too took a time out when I chose not to be a pacer for a local training team this past fall. While I absolutely loved being a pacer, and met some fantastic people and friends along the way, my body had grown weary after four full seasons of non-stop training. I had taken a hiatus from marathon training since October 2015, but it didn’t seem to be enough. It was excruciatingly clear that I was in need of a personal time out when I crossed the finish line of the Norfolk Harbor Half in November 2016 with both hamstrings literally seizing up to the point it was a challenge to even walk to get my Gatorade and banana. I remember practically collapsing on the floor of the team tent, sobbing uncontrollably, unable to speak, trying to massage those too tight hamstrings back to some normal feeling instead of the shooting, sharp pains I was feeling. I was so mentally and physically drained that I refused medical help, and just laid on the floor. It was a confusing moment for me, my teammates, and my two best friends, who had never seen me succumb to the pain and emotions rolling through my body. It was then and there I decided, enough is enough. I need a break from goals, from running, from pushing past the pain and tightness, from the lack of rest and recovery. I ended up taking nearly 6 weeks off from running altogether. I had zero urge to lace up my shoes. I wasn’t envious of the runners I saw alongside the road. My heart had hardened to the sport I have loved and done my entire life. I clearly needed a vacation from the hard work I demanded of my body weekly, and a chance to recharge. I slept more than I ever thought I could. I ate well, and splurged on a sweet or two. I spent time with friends and family. I played with Murphy way more than usual, and enjoyed his cuddles, his antics on our double walks, and his puppy kisses. I refocused. As 2016 came to a close, I found myself at home in New York, with family. It wasn’t until the second to last day before I headed back to the beach that I reached for my phone and texted my best friend. “Why did I leave my running gear at home? I want my running shoes!” I knew then that I was ready to run.

Once I returned to the beach, I got my running gear out and insisted on a run with my best friend on the trails asap. It was a fun, exhilarating, semi- warm run, and just what I needed to jumpstart my training for Grandma’s Marathon in June 2017. Grandma’s Marathon was looking for someone to write a short paragraph of advice for new marathon runners, and I opted to submit some words to be considered. Well, not only was I chosen, but they used my words of advice in their social media! I was invited to come run Grandma’s Marathon in June, and jumped at the chance to try a second time at tackling the course. As I write this, I am in the second week of taper for this very race. This will be the first time in 20 months that I have run a marathon. My body knew what was coming as I tackled mile after mile, trail after trail, and bridge repeats weekly. My mind has been challenged as I remind myself constantly I can do this, but the negatives and doubts still creep in. I remind myself that bridge repeats are my favorite, and I feel strong every time I reach the crest of the bridge. I think about how each time I nail a negative split run I hit the save button on my Garmin with a smile on my face because I finished strong. I think about how each long run has been a challenge, but I haven’t backed down even when I puked up my chomps and had a throbbing headache. I knew those were minor setbacks, and my body proved capable and able to push forward to complete the runs. I learned that when I focus on someone else, I can run through the doubts rolling through my mind. I’ve learned that when I acknowledge things on my runs that make me happy, and smile, that I instantly feel a little more perky.

I’ve learned that marathon training isn’t about the time on the clock for me. It’s about feeling strong, capable, and running for those who no longer can. This will be Marathon number ten for me, and I will be running it for my parents. Both have had their own struggles and successes. Both can no longer run. I hope my mom will be watching from the heavens above. And I hope my dad will be able to recognize my voice through the fog of his advanced Multiple Sclerosis, and be as excited as I am when I call him when I’m done. I hope my stepdad will be just as happy as me to know that I also will run for him because he’s been just as much of a supporter and cheerleader in this running journey as anyone else!

Grandma’s Marathon, I am coming for you in 12 days, and believe me when I say, I’m strong and I’m ready to kick your asphalt!

#grit #gmas17 #runforthosewhocant #skirtsportsambassador
#realwomenmove
#badassrunner
#hillsdontscareme

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Street Smarts for Any Runner

One of the things I have learned through my lifetime of being a runner is being smart about when and where you go running. You should always be aware of your surroundings, and this includes being familiar with where you are running, making sure you are visible to those who are driving, walking, or riding a bike, and having ID of some sort on you in case the unthinkable happens.

If you are running in unfamiliar territory, ask someone from the local community, preferably someone knowledgable of running routes, to share some locations with you. For safety reasons and to help in case you get turned around, be sure to carry your phone with you so that you can turn on a map app to find your way back to where you started.

Being aware of your surroundings is so important so that you, the runner, are safe at all times. Look for landmarks that you can easily remember in a down and back route or that you could recall if you get turned around. Be sure to have one earbud out at all times to listen for emergency vehicles. Better yet, run without music and enjoy the sound of the location where you are running!

Visibility is super important when it comes to any time of day while running.  Be aware that most drivers are NOT looking for you on crosswalks or as they turn onto their streets to come from or go to work. You have to be aware of this and make yourself as visible as possible. One of the many items that can help make you visible is by wearing clothing that has reflective stripes or designs on it that shines brightly when light hits it. Another way to make yourself visible is to wear reflective straps and or blinking fluorescent lights that will also stand out amongst the normal atmosphere. My favorite thing to wear during night runs is a white shirt with reflective stripes and my headlamp turned on at a brightness that’s appropriate for where I am running.

Last, but certainly not least, is the importance of carrying an ID with y0u at all times in case there is an accident or medical mishap.  I personally have asthma and have to carry an inhaler at all times in case there is an emergency and I need it. I also keep my Road ID bracelet on me at all times so that if something were to happen to me, my family could be notified, and I can easily be taken care of. Road ID is a fantastic company that came about because of one of those unfortunate accidents. You can read more about their story here: http://www.RoadID.com. I personally have my full name, and contact information for my 3 closest family members on mine. I also have my favorite quotes on it: Live. Love. Run. and RFP!  If you are interested in getting $5 off your very own Road ID, please use this link here: Get $5 off your Road ID! Click me to do so!

Be safe out there runner friends!

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Project Reset Commences

IMG_6661.JPGAfter 37 days of not running, the last 11 bronchitis related, I have been itching to run. I kicked myself for not taking running gear with me on my trip home. Although getting outside in the “feels like 19” and flurries might have been fun, it would have been short lived!

Fran joined me for some miles on the Narrows trail and day one of Project Reset. It was exactly what I needed: a run, some walking, and lots of photos for the #RunChatHunt! The skies were so blue and the trails were beautiful. It couldn’t have been a more perfect way for me to hack up the remaining junk in my lungs….. oh, wait, I mean to start on this next training cycle!

As I thought eagerly about this run on the LONG and chaotic drive home yesterday, I considered my focus and my word of the year: grit. My goals this year are for me, solely me, selfishly me, because I can. I want so badly to focus on time goals, but I want to finish a race feeling strong, like I dug in with all I had, and I beat that asphalt up as I forged toward the finish line. I want to kick the dirt, to fight hard, and coerce my body to be a safely strong as it can be from the inside out. Grit is where it’s at. Grit is what that’s all about. So grit is my word. My mantra as I move towards my bucket list goals in 2017! And dear body, listen up, as this little guy is singing to you:

 

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Project Reset is…

IMG_6387.JPGalready in full force. I am taking the time to focus on me, to truly relax and unwind, and to work on my bucket list goals.

One of the many things I have wanted to do for some time is to continue to write, as I love doing it, and it’s another avenue for me to share what I know and invite conversation from others. So today I have sought input from friends and families about the types of subscription boxes they receive and why I should try them too. I am looking forward to trying new things as we wrap up 2016 and move into 2017.

Project Reset also involves me focusing on my own bucket list dreams of inching closer and closer to a 1:50 Half marathon and a 4:00 marathon.  If I don’t chase those bucket list dreams, no one else will do it for me!

Lastly, I am continuing to pursue fundraising to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. My dad has suffered from this terminal illness for some time, and I am fundraising in his honor. Send me an email if you want to donate!

Leave a comment below about your own bucket list goals and choices of subscription boxes! I would love to hear about them!

Project Reset- here we go!

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Disappointed is Another D Word

There are times when the things you really want to be a part of just can’t happen for a variety of variable reasons that are out of your control. I have not been sick all summer. I had an absolutely crazy, whirlwind, fun, sleepless summer!

Then comes teacher week, and on the afternoon of Day One, I had a horrible migraine and a sore throat. Fast forward to Day Four, and I’m calling out sick because I’m running a fever of 101, can’t swallow because my throat hurts so bad, and feel so completely out of it because I’m so overly hot. Bam! Hello sickness. Day Five results in a trip to the doctor that steamrolls my plans for a fun filled Labor Day Weekend. Doc says its strep throat, and I am to rest with plenty of fluids, ibuprofen, and antibiotics. So I ask what all runners ask when they have a race in a few days “Can I still run??” Doc says “No, definitely not. You need rest.”

So much for my 9 year streak of running Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. And then, cue Hurricane Hermine, making her way up the coast from Florida. The wind and rain alone were crazy enough; I couldn’t imagine trying to not be blown away. Oh wait. Yes, I can. I’ve run in those same elements on many a training run and certainly many race days. The only benefit for Hermine visiting was that it gave me an opportunity to defer my race, which I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

To this end, I’m still disappointed because today’s run would have been one of the coolest runs for RNRVB ever. I’m disappointed that my body can’t seem to win when it comes to strep. And I’m disappointed that I’m stuck at home over another holiday weekend.

And now that I’ve let it all out, I’m excited to say that I get to be a coach at my school’s running club this year! I am thrilled to take on this opportunity! It will be fun to not only teach these young minds, but to share my passion of running with them too! Disappointment does not mean defeat. Disappointment means defiantly driven to try again!

 

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When a House Becomes a Home

I often think about the words house versus home. Sometimes they are synonymous with one another. Sometimes they aren’t. While VB has been my home for some time now, I’ve always called the place where I reside a house. It could’ve been an apartment, a condo, a townhouse, or an actual house. It didn’t matter. As I settle into this place I purchased on my own, I find myself still struggling to call it a home. It’s my house, yes. But those definitive lines seemed to blur today as I literally dumped and crushed every last box. I was determined to make this house MY home.

The symbolic act of depleting my home of the simple cardboard box, a ways and means to maneuver one’s belongings from one place of residence to another, truly allowed the idea of my home to settle in. I have no need for the box any particular item came in. I am not saving it for the next move. I can truly put away the packing tape. I can proudly display both grandmother’s blenders proudly on a kitchen rack instead of keeping them swaddled in cloths and nestled in boxes marked “fragile,” and “NO, REALLY- I mean FRAGILE.”

As I slit the last piece of tape, and crushed the last box. I felt a sense of being grounded, of relief. No need to worry about how or why something will be shuffled around. No need to worry at all. Well, maybe a little about Murphy’s crazy, constantly wagging tail. And the sense of happy has come full circle again. #happyadventures

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