The Perfect Jumpie

Getting the perfect jump shot on your phone after a run is a wonderful way to celebrate your miles.  It takes a lot of practice and a whole bunch of jumping around before you get it right.  We have dubbed this shot the “JUMPIE” for our self-taken jump shots.

Some tips from the jumping trenches:

  1. Angle Upward: It helps to make you look higher off the ground when you jump when you angle your camera UP.
  2. Practice: Is it on 3 or after 3?  We have ONE person count and usually go ON THREE.  And typically we do a practice shot first.  But NOT after a 20 miler.
  3. Bend and Snap: Well, really just bend.  If you bend your knees – to the side or behind, you are more likely to get a good picture. And you look like you’ve jumped higher!
  4. BURST: The burst feature/ timer is your friend.  If someone else is taking the photo, have them hold the camera button (angled up!) when you start counting.  If you are using the timer, watch for the numbers and begin your jump when you see “1”.
  5. Smile when you JUMP: And watch your head position so you don’t end up with what I affectionately call, “turtle head”. It takes practice, but keeping your head forward and your body upward looks the best.

And have fun!!  Happy jumping!

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Hope.

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I often wonder when it starts.

When do we begin to shift from hopeful to cynical?

Does it start when we are in junior high and trying so desperately to fit in that we hide our love of Barbie dolls or Disney World or Transformers as to be “cool”?

Is it when we are in high school and our heart gets broken for the very first time?

Does it happen in college when our imagined major turns out to be nothing like what we thought it might be and it’s time to face “reality”?

For me it was all those things and many other moments – big and small.  I found myself pretending to be cynical and world weary and sarcastic to seem grown up and cool and not naive about the world.  Adulthood was hard enough without giving anyone a reason to not like me or determine they could take advantage of me.

Over the last few months – since the election really – I have been pondering our collective response to the world and the ways cynicism is everywhere.
The 0.0 stickers.
Social media comments and cruelty.
Watching things happen and not stepping in to say – this is NOT OK.
And the response to toughen up, accept that this is the world we live in.  That if you see it differently you are a loser or aren’t living in the real world.

But what is wrong with hope?  Or having a passion so amazing it makes  you spring out of bed in the morning?  

This past weekend I went on a run that reminded me of the way becoming a runner has changed my thinking.  It was a regular Saturday run with one of my favorite people in the world, Deb.  Snow covered our route and we passed the time as we always do – sharing stories, laughing and just being ourselves.  I left our 6 miles feeling a giddy joy that I have only ever found with regularity on a trail or race course.

And just like that… My sneakers became glass slippers.  

The magic of the miles brings me back to the present.  The world is full of possibility again.  There are other things that do that too, of course.
Moments with my family.
My son’s face first thing in the morning.
A beautiful sunrise.
Wonderful, long conversations with friends.
A REALLY good book.

But those moments often get lost in the shuffle of my day-to-day.  Running, on the other hand, is part of my routine.

I won’t pretend that I don’t run to stay in shape and to fit into my clothing and to get medals and to see great friends and to stay sane.

But I also run because of the positive energy of the running community.  Because of those glass slipper moments.  And we should all have those.  They make life that much more sparkly for however long we get to hold onto them.

WHATEVER your thing is… Love it.  Be it. Embrace it.  We only live once.  And I, for one, would rather live a life of hope than of cynicism.

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The Joy of Being is Worth the Pain of Becoming

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On a podcast, I once heard the great Brene Brown say that until she had fully worked through the big life somethings, she would not share her stories with her readers.  It wasn’t because she was trying to hide — she just had to get past the point where someone else’s approval could make or break how she was feeling. (My words, not hers.)  I related to that concept so much and it explains my lack of posting over the past few months.

What I am about to share here was hard for me to write.  But I have learned that those are the things I need to share and, often, that others need to read.  So this is me, standing in front of you, being brave.  And I thank you for listening.

Our story begins this past Sunday when I ran the Jingle Bell Jog 5k with a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while.  She had been busy moving further out west and having a baby.  (The nerve!)  When I found out she was running this race, I texted and asked if she wanted company.  More on our silly, fun, joyful adventure in another post.

What I wanted to share with you was what she said at about mile 2.7 of our 5k – “you have had quite a year”.

Her words have been playing over and over and over in my head.  That quite a year has meant a lot of things – finishing my first Ragnar Trail relay this spring and the Baltimore Marathon with a 30+ min PR in October.  2016 also gave me TWO shots at my 15 mins of fame –  speaking on the Another Mother Runner podcast AND having my hair selfie featured in a Women’s Running magazine article.  Goals were accomplished and shining moments abounded!!!

But there was also darkness for me.  

And that was the year my dear friend and I spoke about on Sunday – amidst sparkle and tutus and about a thousand running Santas – she gave me the gift of her listening ear, as only true runner friends can do.

As I have shared on this blog, I have lived with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember.  Over the years my toolbox has grown to be able to manage my mental health quite well.  But there has been one addiction I have returned to over and over again despite my all of my growth.  Shopping and debt.

You see, I spent years caring so much about what others thought of me that I would never take up drugs or alcohol as my addiction point – I chose the one that was most socially acceptable.  And from the very first moment I was handed a credit card, I spent money I did not have.

The behavior has ebbed and flowed over the years.  My husband, one of the most fiscally responsible people I know, has done his best to work with me.  He helped me pay off round 1 of heavy debt when we first got married, tried to put me on a budget, cajoled and pleaded with me to change… He got so frustrated with my behavior, he eventually just separated our finances completely so I could not hurt our future. As a responsible, educated 40-year-old mother this mortified me.

But he was right.  I could not be trusted with our financial future.  I had spent the last six years of our lives racking up thousands of dollars in secret debt.

I wanted to stop.

I tried to stop.

I read books and froze my credit cards (literally – froze them in the freezer).

I listened to self help books and tried to white knuckle my way out of the situation.

I ran miles and miles and miles.  And did yoga.  And meditated.

But the truth is, every time I would feel sad or frustrated or hurt, I would go back to my habits of spending hundreds of dollars in a sitting.

In June I had decided enough was enough and began attending Debtors Anonymous meetings.  Despite my own hard work and how much I’d finally embraced what I was learning – for the first time in 22 years – it was going to take a long time for me to fix what I had created.  And in the middle of ANOTHER budget discussion, I came clean to my husband.

And he did not leave.  And he did not hate me.  My biggest secret was on the table and he was still in his chair. There have been tears and anger and frustration.  But I have not used a credit card in 145 days.  And we are finally working through this together.

If it weren’t for running and knowing that I can do hard things, I would never have had the courage to face up to my own behavior patterns.  I wouldn’t have known that if I did the work, the path in front of me would illuminate.

This year has been harder than expected.  And it did change me.  In ways I never would have imagined on January 1, 2016.

And I remain forever grateful for every mile and every lesson.

Namaste.

Now What?

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This year I accomplished two goals that were two years in the making.

In April, I completed a trail Ragnar Relay.

And in October, I completed my second marathon.

Both had been on my mind for quite a long time, after watching real life (and virtual) friends tick these seemingly impossible races off of their bucket lists.  In 2015 I tried to join them, but my real life got in the way and I put my dreams on hold.  There is a part of me that is still amazed by the past year, but now that I’ve had a few weeks to reflect and bask in the glow, I’m ready for whatever comes next.

FIRST, I have decided that getting healthy is mission critical.  For three years, I have battled off and on with a calf injury that just won’t quit.  I’ve worked with an amazing chiropractor to keep me going from starting line to starting line.  And I put every band aid on this problem – shoes, inserts, calf sleeves, massages…. But the problem is still there.  And it is still there because I have a heel strike and a weak glute.

I have decided it’s time to solve the actual problem over the next month+ with focused strength training and shorter runs paying close attention to how my foot is striking.  I am also going to try a different type of neutral shoe to see if that helps me correct.

SECOND, I am going to work on quality over quantity for the coming year.  Translation:  a fewer number of races with more focused goals. Since really coming back to running, I have been all about MORE – 17 races in 2013, 22 in 2014, 27 in 2015 and 19 this year.  For those keeping track at home, that is 78% of my 106 races ever have been run in four years. And I need to shift my energy.  My medal rack will be sad and my sparkle collection a bit dusty, but I know this is the right direction.

THIRD, I need to change my approach to my work outs.  Over the past year or so, I have just gone out and gotten in the mileage.  Sometimes I do hills.  Sometimes I am really good about lifting – and other times, it’s just a part of my routine to do 5 miles, 5 miles and a long run.  If I really want quality races, I need a quality plan.

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With the help of a BUNCH of resources, I now have one.  And I am happy to share with you.  My goals are a sub-25 5k in February and a sub-2 hour half in May. With that in mind, my energy is on three things:

MILEAGE. Increasing my mileage in a thoughtful, focused way.  Everything I read talked about the impact more miles had on better speed.  For years, I’ve done enough to get to a starting line.  This time around, I am going to focus on what targeted workouts can do to move me forward, faster.

SPEED WORK.  Dedicated, consistent speed work.  On a track or a treadmill.  The intervals will help and I know they will help.  But they hurt.  A LOT.

STRENGTH.  As per above, I have to strengthen my muscles with regular work in the gym.  Yoga is amazing, and I will continue that practice, but it is not enough to make the kinds of strides I want to make.

So there we are… Looking forward to FINALLY meeting those goals!  Thank you for being here along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you never try…

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Yesterday I virtually watched several friends complete the Marine Corps Marathon. Their times ranged from 3:51 to over 6 hours.  Some were veterans.  Some first timers.  And others, somewhere in the middle.  EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM posted on social media about the pride they felt crossing that finish line.  And for each person – that moment started with a decision to try.

Over the past six months I have learned three things about change.

  1. It happens when WE decide to change.  At some point the spark is lit and we decide that there is something that we want very, badly.  A medal. A new home. A different way of living.  It can happen in a split second, but that little fire is what makes the new dream a reality.  For me, whenever I get lost, I bring myself back to that moment and it makes the process of change something I CAN do.
  2. It is very, very painful.  Even good change is painful.  Because it means leaving behind something or someone or somewhere we knew and were comfortable with/in/about. I have never made a major change in my life and not felt some level of angst about it. That messy part: the part where you can still see behind you, but cannot see in front of you, that is when the going back happens… We give up on the diet.  Or we say “a marathon is just too long”.  Or we go back to the bad relationship.  Or we pick up the credit card or the drink or the cigarette.  We either live through the pain or we stop the growth – it’s that hard and that easy.
  3. It requires a different kind of bravery.  For most of us, the change doesn’t come with banners and celebrations and TV appearances. Sometimes people don’t understand or even want us to change.  Or they have wanted us to change a behavior for so long, and we have failed over and over and over, that they (fairly) don’t believe the change is real.  So it has to be real FOR US.  And we need to be gentle and patient and kind with ourselves.  WE have to know that the end result is something we want and are going to be proud of – regardless of what others may think or feel.

But change and achievement and growth are all incredible things.  And the world changes regardless of what we want to do at that very moment.  RIGHT NOW your cells are changing, your children are growing, and the earth is speeding around the sun.  Even if you stay right where you are, nothing will ever be the same.  YOU will never be the same person that you are at this very second.

And if you try and fail?  You tried.  And now you have more information for the next time. And you will be ready.  Because, “If you never try, you never know.”

Namaste.