Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Power of Running

I just got off the phone with one of my clients/friend/neighbor and had to share the news she shared with me.

Meg has been doing some personal training with me for only 3 weeks in an attempt to add to the running ability she has created out of thin air in just over a year. You see, Meg was never a 'runner' and in fact I think she used to look at me weird when I would take off for a run, saying- oh I could never run that far... I would NEVER run a half marathon. But then, something inside her started to change, and she began to run. All it took was one 5K and she was hooked. I remember her walking across the street with a huge grin on her face, excited to give me the play by play of her run. she shared her story, and said to me, 'I get it now.'

Fast forward to a year later, a couple half marathons under her belt, with her time increasing with each one I might add, and she knocks on my door. She loves running, but had just decided running alone wasn't enough. She wanted to kick ass and take names! Now we're talking!!! I got her on a great strength program to build her core and speed work mixed with tempo runs to build her speed.

I texted her today to check in on her at home workout, and she called me back immediately with exciting news to share.

She had gone to the Dr. today for her annual exam, and after the exam was over, sat chatting with her Dr. about how she compared to one year ago today.

One year ago, she was suffering from heart palpitations...today, no episodes, and no medication. One year ago she was suffering from anxiety...today, no anxiety, and no medication taken. One year ago today, her resting heart rate was 90 (it has been high her whole life)...today, 76. The Dr. seemed confused that all of her problems from last year had disappeared without any magic pill. Heavy periods...gone. Bad cramps...gone. Break outs...gone.

Meg didn't think much of it, but a light bulb went off when she got home. One year ago is when she started to run. One year ago is when she got the fire in her belly, to get out and push herself, to achieve goals she once thought impossible. One year ago is when she changed her old habits of heading to Target for a Starbucks to de-stress, and instead headed out for a kick ass run.

Now you might think this isn't all from running. And you're probably right. But running is what started it all. The transformation to a healthier life, making better choices to fuel your body, and dealing with stress in a productive, rather than a destructive way. Sometimes it's hard to see changes happening, mainly because focus is only there when you feel bad. You don't notice how great you feel because you have nothing bad to base it against. It's not until you sit down and really think back to how you felt before, that you realize all the good you have done for your body.

Meg took to running so naturally, and now I know why. Her body, mind, and spirit needed running. And it welcomed the new sport with open arms.

Now, how quickly can you lace up your shoes and get out the door for a run? Mine are going on as we speak.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Let me be Brief...

I am going to fucking KILL IT at the marathon in 2 weeks. (yes, there it is, the whole word. I am too serious to put dashes or asterisks.)

Let me explain why, but the above statement is not what I am talking about when I say brief.

Becky and I had our last long run yesterday morning, we went 24 milesssssss. Some people might think that is overkill for a marathon, but it is what my confidence needed after my showing last year. At this same marathon last year, by mile 21- which I know is where everyone usually hits their wall, I was dead. My pace was that of a snail, I could barely run for more than a few steps at a time, and the road seemed endless. So this time around, I wanted to taste the fear before the race, so I knew exactly how to dig down and get through it.

I felt amazing during the run, and ran it similar to how I want to run the race. I ran negative splits for the second half. Advice I had been given before, but some lessons you have to learn on your own. Instead of charging out and sticking to goal pace from the beginning, I am going to settle into it, get comfortable, and get stronger as the race goes on. And during this run, that is exactly what I did.

One of the greatest things about running a race with my girls is that we get to pick out a new outfit for each race. We are HUGE fans of Running Skirts, they are comfortable, have a lot of pocket room, and we look adorable in them! Right?

So Kim, Becky and I (missing our Amy) headed down for a trip to the Running Skirt Store, to pick out our new digs and have a yummy pasta dinner. We were hoping to find something on sale, that they had in all of our sizes, and preferably one that would match the black tank tops we already have. As the manager brought out the sale skirts, the other girls got so excited that they found the perfect skirt, in all 3 of their sizes. Well, low and behold the same skirt was in a pile I had with me in the dressing room. I normally wear a size 1 (these are their sizes, not true to a real size 1 of course) in the athletic skirt-that has shorts built in underneath. But this skirt was the real running skirt...briefs underneath. I went to pull it on...and man I had to PULL! It was waaaaaay too snug. No problem, just get me a size 2. Oh wait, you don't have another size 2? Super. They did have a size 2 in the athletic skirt, but it was too big. And that is one problem you don't want to have with a running skirt when you have 26.2 miles ahead of you.

So, being the AMAZING friend that I am, I took the size 1, itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, running skirt with brief bikini. Now we all match, and I look mildly inappropriate.

Well, I have to tell you, after running in our game-day-uni yesterday...I am now a believer in the brief! I was so comfortable, and it was nice to have the skirt fit snug. I didn't have to mess with it for the first 6 miles before it would stay tight on my hips. And, Becky assured me you couldn't see my thighs rubbing together from behind. Bless her heart I think she's lying but I am going to turn the other cheek and go with it! Haha get it...cheek.

I really hit my stride at mile 20 and was off for the final stretch of our run. I heard some cheering and looked up to notice 2 girls with skirts on cheering and jumping at the light. How funny, who on earth was running this way? As I got closer I noticed on the other side of the street there were more screaming people. And as my haze broke, there they were, some of our Moms on the Run running club members there to give us an extra boost! Now you all know what happens next, I of course start to cry. So sweet of them to coordinate to meet us...but then again, this is just who they are!

To our surprise they weren't only there to cheer us on. They parked at my house, ran the 3 miles to meet us, and were running the 3 miles back with us! Already pumped, I grabbed Karla and Vanessa and we started to book it. A few lights down, I looked at Vanessa, and told her she was responsible to bring me home. I was ready to push it and I needed her by my side.

I felt stronger with every stride, and it felt great to peek at my Garmin and see the pace number getting smaller and smaller. We rounded the corner to my neighborhood and I was determined. I dug deep, and Vanessa followed. We had to run past my house and loop back around to get the 24, but we did it...and it felt amazing.

Right as we stopped, there was the rest of the group charging down the street. We started yelling and screaming for Becky and her entourage as they raced home. She finished strong and fast, and the smile on her face told me everything. She was proud of herself, and thankful this run was OVER!!

Our friends waited on us hand and foot for the rest of the morning. Fetching us beer, watching my kids, filling up our ice bath, and feeding our egos. As always, it was wonderful to share in this moment with them.

Although the four of us (me, Becky, Amy, and Kim) will be alone on race day, away from our group, we know we have all their strength, love, and support. And that can get us through any wall we might encounter. So cheers to our Moms on the Run, words cannot describe how my cup runneth over.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thank God they're cute

My girls are adorable. No, seriously. and I don't say that just because I am their mom. I have proof. Old ladies walk up to me all the time and tell me how cute they are. It's practically written in stone.

I always thought it had to do with the great genes handed down by moi, and I guess you have to give a little bit of credit to my husband...they have his eyes, and our youngest could be his stunt double. Or maybe that their cute sweet exterior was a nod to my brilliant parenting efforts. But, who am I fooling...I have yet to have a day where the 'Mommy of the Year' award people are knocking at my door. I am holding out hope though...

No, it really has nothing to do with any of that. The truth is, they have to be cute, so I can keep from strangling them when they act the way they did yesterday! Their sweet smiles, and gorgeous faces make their ridiculous behavior almost tolerable. I have to assume that when these incidents happen, I will always look back and laugh. What a funny anecdote to share when they start making friends in school, or start dating...at 35. Perhaps their future in-laws will get a kick out of the crazy behavior they had as a child. To think the mild mannered, sweet, polite girl they know could ever be capable of these things would be beyond them.

Just like how every time I blame their crazy behavior on my husband (who was a wild child and crazy teen- compared of course to my pristine record in my adolescence) my Mother-in-Law reminds me of the ONE piece of incriminating evidence she has on me that she learned from my parents- I used to run out the front door and down the street every time my mom answered the phone. Seems super adorable to me...and if that's the worst they have on me, so be it!

Let me back up to yesterday to explain:

I am usually pretty impressed with how well I manage my life and drag 2 kids around with me. They go with me almost everywhere. Any errand I have to run, business meetings, classes, and occasionally Disneyland, the park, beach, play date, even Costco. I pride myself of instilling the wrath of me in my children so I can give them a look and they know to 'knock it off'. Now before I start sounding like Supernanny, let me just say that the look only works about 26% of the time.

I took yesterday morning off of teaching class to get some looong overdue work done. The girls played and, GASP, watched TV. I figured I needed to get them out to do something fun, and hey, run a few errands while we were at it. I took them to the library, and mistakenly tried to get a few books for myself too. Insert the very spirited Emma at 2 years old. She doesn't quite get the whole library voice concept, and my shushing was probably just as, if not more, annoying than her screeching.

I made it out with a few books on my list and we spent the rest of the time in the children's section. They both had their own bags, picked out a ton of books, played with toys, climbed on the furniture, and we even rented a movie. Feeling like a supermom, we headed out.

I only needed to run 2 errands. A quick few minutes, that I clearly pre-paid for with the fun trip to the library. I pulled into OfficeMax to return something...and it all began to unwind.

The store was closing so it was practically empty. Now, maybe it was the vast openness and lack of items on the shelf that gave my kids the idea it was a playground. From the minute we walked in the door they were all over the place. Don't ask me how, but no matter where we are my kids can spot Elmo, Dora, or the Backyardigans paraphernalia and instantly begin begging for it. I am trying to calm them down and tell them we are leaving as the clerk kindly lets me know that I waited too long for the return so now I could only use store credit. Awesome. I am pretty sure in that amount of time my kids have ruined $23.48 worth of items in the store.

I grab them making a beeline for the pen isle when, staring right at me, with a lovely 50% off tag, is a new corner desk that would fit perfectly in my 'office'. (I use quotations because it is more of an 'oh shit' room than an office) Suddenly this desk is the answer to all of my disorganizational problems, and I have to have it.

Insert problem here: They won't let me put it on hold, they won't let me pay for it and have my husband pick it up after work, and there is no way in you know what it is fitting in my car.

Meanwhile, Emma has kicked off her shoes, they have both found a pack of post-its, and I am sweating like I am doing speed work in 100% humidity. I am on the phone trying to track down someone to pick up the desk. My future organized and efficient self is so close I can taste it...I just need this desk!!!

I have my phone up to my ear, reaching down to grab Emma's shoes, yelling at Meadow to set the example...and off runs Emma, in her Minnie Mouse dress to boot, straight towards the fake wall in the front of the store. It is a metal frame with a canvas drape hanging down to serve as a partition of sorts, and there are about 8 linked together. She runs right through the first one, and in slow mo, as I run shouting Nooooooooooo, the rest crumble in a domino effect. The entire store stops on a dime to stare at the crazy kids and unfit mother standing front and center.

8 shades of red, with sweat now dripping from every pore of my body, I drop my phone, grab Emma, and stare at the mess. their staff, bless their hearts, told me no problem a million times and said they would fix it. They also asked me not to get mad at her. I guess they could see the fury unleashing in my eyes. And the manager kindly handed me back the label tape I needed to return with my receipt.

As I rushed to my car, I was yelling at them, actually myself, that I couldn't do anything anymore. I couldn't run one simple errand without the world crashing down on me. I put them in the car, turned on the AC and shut the doors...with me still outside. I needed a time out. I was so rushed and focused on the desk, and so uptight that I was responsible for their craziness.

Meadow rolled down her window(I didn't even know she could do that--it's all in the wrist, as she would say), and there Emma was, all smiles in her Minnie dress. I had to laugh. She's a wild one that girl...and lucky for her she will probably get away with it for years to come. She has no boundaries, no fears, no limitations, and she goes 100% all the time. I am figuring she will be the root of my first gray hair (who knows if it is already there or not, I refuse to look). But, I also know deep down that that will power, that strength, will teach me a few lessons down the road. I am going to focus on embracing their craziness and trying to roll with it. Soon they will be uptight adults like the rest of us. Don't we all wish we could be a kid again? Just for an afternoon? So I will let them enjoy it, and worry about the mess another time.

Oh, and btw, I got the desk. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It really is just a choice

First, can I start by saying the the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon is just about 3 weeks away. I am officially starting to freak out.

Sunday morning I hit my snooze button at 5:30am, opting against my 12 mile run alone. It was cold, I was grumpy, and I just didn't feel like it. I decided to meet up with the other girls at 8 to get in a good 4-6 miles with some chatting and good gossip. My weekend was loooong, and interesting to say the least, so I think I wanted to chat about it, instead of let it stew in my own head alone on a long run...which I knew wouldn't end in a happy place.

I forced myself out of bed, got dressed quickly, and fumbled to find my phone that was ringing. As I answered it, I looked outside to see it was soaking wet. How did I not notice it rained?(I probably would have been off the hook at 5:30 anyway.) Shelly was clearly in her car on the way to the beach asking, or maybe hinting that we might not be running due to the weather. I assured her I was on my way, despite my awesome early morning voice that made it sound like I was still sleeping.

I pulled into the parking lot, and quickly behind me came Chelyse. We gave each other the 'eye'; you know, the one where you silently let the other person know all they have to do is say the word and the run is off. Except that nobody ever says it. Getting out of the car, we quickly realize that the wind is crazy, and it is freeeeeeezing. We hop in her car to wait for anyone else, knowing of course Shelly was on her way. I was relieved to get a few more sips of my coffee in, and start the rant about my weekend. Shelly walked up and got in the car, and we were playing a fun game with a car next to us, who was also tiptoeing around the idea of actually going out in this weather. The members of the other car got out, lasted 1 minute, got back in and left. We took that as permission to continue my therapy session for a few more minutes...hey, we would get out once it cleared up. Then the rain started pouring down. Phew....we were not in the mood to run in the rain.

It was nice to still get my chatting time in with the girls, even without our run. I needed a little vent, a little perspective, and a few girls on my side to say they completely understand.

The conversation moved on and Chelyse said something that struck a cord with me and how I live my life, and of course it reminded me of some advice from my mom a few years back.

Being happy, enjoying life, and living it to the fullest really is just a choice. A concious decision you make and remake everyday. The happy people you see in life aren't the ones where everything is amazing...you just don't notice any of the bad stuff in their life because they are too busy smiling.

I think about people that have the worst cases handed to them in life. People who are paralyzed, lose their vision, or limbs, who lose a child, or battle a terrible ilness such as cancer. You see them out there training for triathalons, climbing mountains, advocating for safer laws, and fighting for those around them. They made the choice, not to bury their head in the sand and feel sorry for themselves, but to rise above, and enjoy their life to the fullest. It makes you wonder if you would be that strong. And then it really makes you think, what the hell am I whining about??

Maybe it's having running in my life that has given me the mental toughness and strength to know that I really can will myself to do anything. I know that mind over matter works, because I know how it feels at mile 22 in a marathon.

So choosing to be happy, to enjoy my life, and what I do, seems like a no brainer. You may say easier said than done...but I think that means you just haven't tried it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

If a tree falls in the forest...

My Sunday run was nothing less than spectacular. The best way to start my Mother's Day. Everything about it spoke to me, encouraged me, made me proud, energized me, pushed me, and gave me peace. Since my last long run, I had a lot go on, and it felt good to get back out there and prove that it wasn't all lost. To find the piece of me that stayed out there on the road, just waiting for me to come back and pick it up.

To sum up my last week for you, I had what I would now call an 'episode' where I felt light headed and dizzy, almost like I was floating out of my body, for 4 days straight. I couldn't get grounded, I couldn't find my balance, and I was completely exhausted. Now I can be extremely lazy when I want to...but normally I am bouncing off the walls doing a million things at once. For these 4 days it was all I could do to keep from falling asleep mid sentence. It scared me, I was worried something could really be wrong. I even went to the Dr., which I never do. Everything came back fine, and after a few days I am back to normal. I am just reminding myself every now and again to breath and that seems to be working.

So, the point of adding that in, was the Dr. told me not to run for a week. So I was a little nervous getting back out there for a long one, and in new shoes too. Yes, I know all of my hard core running friends are gasping at what a huge mistake that is...but they are the same shoes and there was NO WAY my old ones could make it another 2 miles, let alone 22!

I was actually really prepared for this run, everything set out, snacks planned, new play list made, etc. And I even got in bed at 7:30 when my kids went to bed. Becky would be at my door at 4:15am, and the night before I didn't get as much sleep as I would've liked so I was serious about getting some zzzz's.

Becky and I ran from my house, which we wondered why we didn't do this every run. So easy, no stress about leaving anything, and I can't be late if I am already here!! We were excited to have a new segment added to our route to break it up even more.

We headed out in the silence and the dark and started chatting away. We had a lot to say, maybe because it had been 2 weeks since our last run, and when I am sick she teaches for me so we don't get to catch up during the week as usual. We got to the beach and headed north, noticing that the runners we usually see were absent. Maybe because it was still early, or maybe because the men were fulfilling there wife's one Mother's Day wish...to get to sleep in!!! We started going over everything happening in the life of Becky's newly teenage daughter (which scares me to death to think of my girls hitting that age), I am glad I have her experience to help me out when we get there. Add in a few stories about our husbands, and I look at my watch only to realize we are at mile 10. Wait, what? 10 miles flew by without us even noticing??? Seriously, we are for sure real runners!

We flip at mile 11, and on the way back even tackle the hill we don't have to. Becky was clearly on fire and I was following her lead. With every run her confidence grows and it is so nice to feed off of it and coast along.

At mile 15 is where my runner's high kicks in, and I feel like there should be a mandatory dance break at every race at mile 15. My arms start flailing, my hips start moving, and I break out into whatever song is on my iPod. Becky loves this part of the run...probably because I have the sweetest voice ever.

We run on, having fun, being serious at times, and cheering each other on, and then we get a real treat. Along came some other Moms on the Run Running Club members heading past us, and cheering like crazy! We got hi-fives and whistles, and maybe a few butt smacks. It was great to see them and we got an extra little push! Amy even ran with us for a mile or two before heading back to meet up with the pack again.

As we kept going I was overwhelmed with inspiration. Becky has the amazing ability to look flawless when she runs. Her skin glows, she is calm and in rhythm, and she makes sweating look good. I started to think about the moment in the marathon when we will split apart, how we will say good-bye, and I start to get choked up. Yes, it's sappy...get over it!!! Then I start to picture the emotion she will have crossing the finish line, and the emotion I will have when I see her...and tears start to form. Just then she shares that she is remembering when we first started to train for a 5K, and she was tired after running for only 5 minutes. Oh how far we have come...how far she has come.

Also, I am inspired by our awesome friends that competed in the Gladiator Run the day before. I got caught up in the amazing circle of friends I have and how nice it is to be surrounded by all the positive energy! Not to mention the fact that they know how to have a good time!!!

Heading home down Magnolia is a bit of a pain, since you have to stop at the lights. But it didn't hurt as bad as I was figuring. As we inched closer to my neighborhood, I looked down at my Garmin as we were about to reach the light and noticed I forgot to start it again after the last light. I curse myself, and apologize to Becky. She says we are fine, we know where to stop to hit 22. But somehow, that wasn't good enough for me.

See, Becky and I have had a few runs that fell short. A few runs that were just under the mark, and I couldn't let that happen again. I knew it was about a half mile that we were missing, so I dropped Becky off in my neighborhood when the Garmin said 21.5, and I continued to run around the block to get us to 22. For some reason I needed that validation for us, to have proof that we actually did it. Even though we would both know it...I needed more.

It wasn't until a few hours after the run, and a chat with my mom where she called me 'a bit obsessive' (in a very sweet way) that I began to question myself. Why did I need that number on the watch? Why wasn't it enough to just know how far I went without the additional proof? It was impossible not to take this realization into my entire life and analyze it.

Why is it that I need validation for something that simple? For everything really. I feel confident in my abilities, I feel strong as a woman, yet I need to share with every one my accomplishments. Even my short comings for that matter. Do we all do that? When do we get to the point in our lives where what we think is the only opinion that matters? Does that ever even happen? Even now I am waiting to read this post to my husband before I put it out there.

We all need an extra push, we can never really do it all on our own. So, if it means that I have to throw it out there, to let people know that a tree fell, every now and again for an added boost to validate how I feel...so be it. I do know deep down what I am worth, it just feels good to hear someone else agree with me every now and again. :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends...

I have the greatest circle of friends on the face of the planet. Period. Hands down. Don't even try to challenge me on this one, I will take you to the mat! The women that I 'run' with are nothing short of amazing. Who knew that a large group of women could actually support and encourage each other to achieve success; instead of tear each other down and criticize and back stab. The quality of life that you can live, despite whatever else that may be going on in your life, with true friends by your side is astounding.

My mother's best friend, Lu,(who what a surprise, is her best running partner)gave a speech at my wedding that I didn't really get until about a year ago. She got up, and was very cutely pulling at her sweater to show some more shoulder, and talked about the amazing friendship she and my mom have had over the years. We all got teary-eyed, because we knew how true it was. They had been through a lot together, shared moments out on the trail that they will remember forever. And had some really good times involving tequila that have been sworn to secrecy! Oh boy I could go on and on...and on! After she tugged at her sweater until it couldn't go any lower, and still be appropriate, she said that while you are married to your husband don't forget about your girlfriends, for they are the ones that help you stay married!

Lu is hilarious, so I thought it was her being funny and left it at that. But after I started to 'run' in my current circle of friends it all clicked. Yes, you can vent to your friends about what irritates you about your husband, what you wished he did more of, or less of, but really your friends serve a much deeper role in your life. They fill the gaps, provide the comfort and support, when you need it most, or where it may be lacking.

Today I got a chance to do my second favorite thing with running- I got to cheer friends on during their race while I was on the sidelines. I love cheering for everyone, and believe me, Barb and I deserved an award for all the cheering we did today! It's just so inspiring to watch people run we couldn't help ourselves. It's seeing the look in their eyes, of fierce determination, or fear, or struggle, and watching them dig deep, find their inner strength, and power through that moves me.

I had a few of my very best friends running in the race today. You see, I already know how amazing they are...hence they are in my wonderful circle of friends! But out there on the course, on race day, I know that they to get to see the girl that I already know exists. The strong competitor, the mother, the friend, the girl that is going to give everything she has, and come up victorious. I know that they are going to be proud of themselves, and I know they are going to fight, and come out the other end stronger and happier.

So one by one, or in some cases, two by two, our Moms on the Run (oh and also some good friends from the AZ Run Like a Mother group) crested the looooong hill to Barb and I screaming like lunatics. We got smiles, and waves, hi-fives and tears, and also some flailing arms and screaming lunatics! These women have played such an important part in my life, that finally I got to be there for them too, filling in that tiny gap between exhaustion and the next water station. It felt good.