Sunday, January 18, 2015

How getting sick can help you reset your goals

      It was not tough coming to a decision about my running. From one day to the next I went from one thing to another. It happened Friday, I got sick, not the kind of sick where you actually need medicine for, but the kind of sick where your body just calls it quits and there are no other symptoms but pure fatigue, heavy, achy unrelenting fatigue. My whole body ached, I had a fever, I could not even walk normally; this whole time, all I could think of was my warm, cozy bed and my favorite soft pillow. I took the day off work and slept in. Somewhere during my late breakfast and nightfall I knew that things had to changed in my thinking. That's the thing about big changes, they start, like teeny tiny little seeds, deep in one's innermost thoughts. Never underestimate the power of these tiny ideas...

     In my teens, I remember doing these ridiculous diets. Okay, back then I did not think they were ridiculous at all. I remember doing a vegetable soup diet and an all-fruit diet, and an all-fruit-and-veggie diet. Not surprisingly, they were often extreme enough, weird enough, depriving enough that they'd work. I'd lose a ton of weight....for a few months. Oh how I thought I was the boss of my body then. My iron will has always been good at getting me exactly what I want in life, except when it came to my body. My body would always come right back and demand what it wanted. These diets were very much like walking a tightrope, they required so much attention, so much dedication, and sacrifice that at some point it was bound to fail; Life, by its very nature would always come and blow me back.  

       This 50K was my next "tightrope". I had it set in my mind that despite my busy schedule, despite my many, many other projects, and most importantly, DESPITE an ongoing, pestering, lingering, annoying, not-going-to-go-away-without-rest-kind-of injury I was also going to somehow, someway... make my body train for a 50K and run one THIS Spring. To those who may not know, although a 50K race is only 5 miles more than a marathon, the trainings look quite different. In a 50k training schedule one most often has back-to-back long runs on weekends. For instance, in mid-training, you might have 20 miler Saturday, followed by a 8 or a 10 miler on Sunday. As my body fell apart in pure protest Friday I knew I had done it again, I has once again created a "tightrope" of which I have now fallen off. Once again, I was taking advantage of my iron will to override my body's voice. I had once again shut her up and put her second to my desires.  

       This morning, I woke up in much better health and went for a different kind of a run. This was not a training run, but in all its ordinariness (if that's even a word) it ended up being quite extraordinary.  Not one to cross off a 16-week training printout on my fridge, but it sure was a great new run, one of which I feel has helped me turn the page to a new phase in my running. What was different? For one, I smiled more, I closed my eyes for a few seconds several times to better take in the wind in my face, I fully stopped at the red lights and did not feel the need to keep hopping around to "keep up my training", most importantly, the pressure of making a certain mileage requirement was off the table, allowing me to out and back run end even though it was at 4.6 miles...What?  no running around the block to make that an even 5 miles? NOPE!!! 
       Is still plan on running my fall marathons, but knowing I have a few months of pure, unadulterated play time with my running really feels amazing. I know can truly focus on other goals I could not fulfill while training, such as feeding my body better foods, going to see the doctor about my recurring muscle pain in the back of my legs, and of course, simply enjoying those runs. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Now for some quality runnning

                  This new year has brought about some new thoughts about my relationship with running. This past year, I completed four marathons, yet, I finished off the year feeling like all those accomplishments were not enough. I got a bit upset and worried with myself in thinking, "Damn it, Miriam, when will it be enough?". 

               Back when I was single, I dated this man and we'd go out to dinner every single night. Although we were having a blast, soon, my summer babysitting money started to run out at a record speed. I soon realized that the relationship was not sustainable, he could not live without his nightly fancy dinners (where we'd neatly split the bill in half) and I needed to keep my money in the bank; not surprisingly, a breakup soon ensued. In worrying that my love of running might soon also become unsustainable I have decided to focus on improving the quality of my relationship with running this year. Taking a break from piling on the miles, more and more every year, will allow me to focus on other aspects of my running that are more qualitative in nature. Here are some of them....

1. I would like to focus on my diet. I have put on weight since last year and I would like to figure out my diet and perhaps be able to run 2 minutes faster a mile again

2. I would like to just explore what it feels like to just have a run. Not one that is part of a "training run", not wake up and think, "I need to do 6 miles today" and chug along the program like a stressed-out zombie. I want to get back to simply enjoying my runs, where I get to let out some steam, feel amazing, see sunsets....you know, running, without all the enormous stress that training adds to the equation. 

3. Practice thinking of myself as a runner. This might seem pretty simple to most, but, although I have run for 2 years now and have completed many running races and feats I still need to "bring the horse to water"and literally convince myself I am a runner daily....yep, on a daily basis. 

4. Explore and enjoy being a Marathon Maniac. I did 3 marathons in 41 days to quality as a MM damn it!!! and now I need to make this project come full circle and actually run some marathons as a Marathon Maniac and experience the camaraderie everyone has been boasting about. Nope, no need to sign up for that 50K quite yet, just a marathon.....

5. Try running on trails again. Trails are tough for a full-time working woman running alone. I'd need to run in daylight, I'd need to run on weekends.....maybe dedicate one run during my weekends to trails....but, oh, those trail runs are so heavenly. 

6. Stretch, use the foam roller, take hot baths.....It's about time I take some time to do some body maintenance and care....I need to take the time to heal my body after tough runs. So many days I just pass out without attending to those painful spots and they only can get worse when ignored. Yes, and go get that message....

7. Find the right running clothes that fit MY body. I am sure I am not the only person who has a cemetery of non-used running clothes in their home. I keep buying running clothes that are total wardrobe malfunctions and not returning them. I KNOW I will feel so much more amazing once I find the running gear that fits my body. Worth investigating, asking, trying things on AT the store and searching for just the right gear. 

                I sometimes forget that I have a whole lifetime to go further distances and reach new challenges. I sometimes forget that, God willing, I fully plan on being one of those elderly people we all see while running, scurrying along in a tight gait, getting her run in 'til I croak. In taking the time NOW to improve my running qualitatively, I will make next year's push for new heights even stronger. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Resolution- 2015 Here I Come

* Write in my blog more often
* Get my art resume updated
* Run your own race. 
* Sign up to NYC and Marine Corps Marathon lotteries and Sign up to Rehoboth Marathon and North Face Endurance again! 
* Don't try to fix everyone's problems, let people live out their choices on their own....
* Be more conscious with money PLEASE!
* Find other ways to give gifts that does not require $, bake for them, help them out, cook them a dinner, listen to them....write them
* Trust your first impressions, they are almost always right on target, stop doubting yourself so much
* More morning runs (Please, catch more sunrises this year)
* Continue to floss EVERY day.....(I have bad teeth, okay!)
* Reach out to all people who matter.....stop wasting precious time thinking you have time....we may not
* When with the kids, live in the moment...soak it in. They are only young once. Cuddle with them as much as possible....soon it will be uncool to even cuddle. 
* Assume the best first, always.....going to the worse conclusion first makes me into a bitter person
* Forgive, forgive, forgive....seriously, let go of those unhelpful thoughts and get over the small stuff....forgiveness heals the forgiver
* Be the best and most supportive great-auntie ever!!! woot woot!
* Pray more, pray with my kids, be open about what you pray for ...encourage them pray too.
* On Facebook: no more than 10 minutes a day...live life, don't spend most of it watching others live theirs. 
* Make art daily....it does not have to be the next solo show.....just make art, it makes more happy thoughts, happy moments. 
* Time to close the thought door to some folks who have caused pain in the past, and are still populating my mind...good bye already! 
* Get rid of clothes you do not wear....donate them....gift them away
* Place all art I make, no matter how small, on Etsy....just a year experiment.....let's see what happens...
* Read some of my blog posts to my kids.....I realize they don't know that side of me. 
* Take more family portraits....stop being the photographer always....kids need to see more of mom in the albums. 
* Help kids with their BIG ideas, no matter how silly they seem at first. Encourage their BIG dreams by providing what they need to make it happen....(but don't become the primary driver of them. )
* Be present with kids...get off the damn computer already and be PRESENT!!! 
* With hubby, don't hang things over his head if something did not really bother me.....be unpredictable for once and just let it go. 
* Water.....drink more water.....maybe get a water bottle that works 
* Continue more art playdates with whomever wants to make art AND deal with my kids at same time
* Run without music once in a while....don't be afraid to hear breathing for an hour.
* Let inspirational people inspire you, and if possible, let them know just how much they affect you
* Volunteer with kids....make it count
* When the kids want to do something, make time to do it.....fully
* Write letters.....and send them
* Leave for work on time.....allows you to drive safer
* Kiss kids and hubby every day before work
* Hug kids more.....lots and lots of hugs a day
* Cook better dinners damn it.....how about COOK dinner?
* LISTEN to what is not said....try to listen to all that is being expressed
* Tell each child what they are good at on a social-emotional/ personal level.....(not academics, or club talents)
* Clean up apt. more often so kids can have friends over more. Come up with a sustainable clean-up system
* Invite more people over to dinner

Monday, December 29, 2014

Never Give up, Never Give up, Never Give up

          Running tries us in so many ways. I feel like a "runner" some days, yet, on other days I feel like an outsider in this sport. Last month, while in the midst of holiday planning hell and all future days seemed booked for weeks, I truly, truly came to believe that I was indeed a stranger, an importer in this world of running, "surely I did not belong" I thought. I was so convinced of my duplicitous status that I was ready to turn in the towel and go back to my life as a non-runner. Just that day I get a very gracious post on my Facebook page from a friend thanking me for inspiring her to run outdoors in winter. I was reminded by this gesture that we are not only on this earth for ourselves, but that we are also here to service others. Just as I may have inspired my friend last winter with my posts about the "hows" and "whys" of winter running, she now inspired me to play my part, not just in running, but in life.
            This lessons of not giving up has helped me in so many other ways lately. Just this week, after eating holiday foods for days at a time, each run has literally felt like I was running through peanut butter with a sprinkle of pain for the first 3 miles. In addition, my pace has slowed down enough to make me, again, wonder if I should even call myself a runner. But the answer came swiftly and decisively this time. "Yes, I belong, this is my sport and all this will pass, never, ever give up". Whatever comes out of this "never give up" endeavour, it certainly will be a heck of a lot more positive than what happens if I simply chose to give up. In essence, LIFE is about never giving up.
             Robin William's suicide always comes up in my thoughts in relation to the subject of giving up. I wonder if he had a clue how many people saw and felt his movies to be a lifeline, a ray of hope. Him taking his life, in essence, left a lot of people feeling hopeless. For example, his movie, "What dreams may come" helped me deal with my friend's suicide 8 years ago, and therefore William's own suicide left me feeling betrayed, even hopeless. The take away from his death is that we all look at each other for hope, we all seek through each other and the messages we send through the way we live can very much be the lifeline to other's hope and dreams.
            For all these reasons, I can't give up. My pace has slowed to a crawl in the past week, my legs hurt more than usual for the first 3 miles of any run, I have gained some weight due to stress and holiday treats, but, one thing has become clear this year....giving up is not an option.

Rehoboth Beach Marathon

                    We get to the hotel and my only concern was how I would get to the race the next morning. I get this number and call it to set up a pick up. Took about 8 minutes to get there in the morning and was surprised at how easy it was to get to the start line, get my bib and my t-shirt. The race had this tubs for people to put their belongings in but we were told right off they would not really be keeping track of them much. 
          I walked to Dunkin Donuts and they had a holiday tree there with donuts on them. 


            I was early enough that I could walk down the beach and see the sunrise. I met three very nice ladies who took my picture. I wish I had gotten their contact info, but as it most often goes in these races, you make friends and then forget to share your information. I was surprised how close the beach was to town....it was a very nice morning.

             Me having a banana and half a peanut butter sandwich with my Dunkin Donuts coffee before the race.

                     T- minus 20 minutes....
                   After the race Rehoboth Beach Marathon threw a big ol' party. I had previously paid for my husband to also get the post-race lunch and kids ate free. The music was amazing and we all had a great time....oh, did I mention the FREE BEER....all you can drink? 

            The medal....I am finally a Marathon Maniac!! 3 marathons in 41 days. 

        Big boys always have a good time, as long as there is food. 


        Enjoying my free beer and meal....

              My son, who is rarely allowed to drink soda, gets to drink soda.....very fun. 


             Family photo.....we should have turned the other way I know....but my legs were too lazy and tired.
                At night we go out to the town to a family dinner....Nora, orders soup with me. A rainy cold night, not like the daytime....which, lucky for us, was a very nice day. 

       I love rain and I love Rehoboth...so overall this evening was so nice. The next day was so, so cold, we were all thankful that the race was not on Sunday for that would have been way too cold.....hopefully next year the weather will be the same....cool, but not windy. 

         Next morning we go to IHOP for breakfast. 


            Luke of course orders a chocolate pancake, the adult size....








I am absolutely going to do this race again...it was so much fun.....very quaint, friendly, awesome volunteers, awesome course, great after-party!!!




Saturday, November 22, 2014

Richmond Marathon Recap

This will be as informal a recap as they get...so, I apologize in advance.

I am trying to do 3 marathons in 90 days in order to qualify for The Marathon Maniacs. Knowing nothing about Richmond I opted to drive there that morning, park, run, then drive back home. Chris watched the kids and all three were texting me all morning with encouraging words. I got to Richmond and was very lucky to find parking right on 15th and Main Street, walked uphill to the race start and met a wonderful new marathoner in the bathroom line. Below is the machine where you get the info to park. I got my cell and it cost $5 for parking.....sweet!

These are the few pictures I did like of me of the many I noticed were taken....from mile 1-13 it was amazing....Richmond is beautiful this time of year. The leaves have fallen or are about to fall, the houses look interesting, the neighborhoods were very welcoming, lots of unofficial stops for anything from candy, beer to vaseline. at around mile 18 I was feeling to demoralized and exhausted, mile 24-26.2 I was my fastest....I have no idea where all the pain from earlier went, but it went away and I pretty much bolted to the finish line....I was so pumped at the end, even the person who gave me the medal even had to tell me, "you can stop running now"

I think I am going to leave behind my hydration pack next time. Maybe it will save me a few minutes on time.


Texting back and forth from the kids and hubby



         I walked 1.3 miles back to my car. A wonderful way to help recovery happen MUCH faster.....and this tree just looked amazing at the top of this hill.....

The medal is gorgeous and heavy....lots of fall leaves, even on the strap. My students on school really liked my medal and some even wore them during class. 





The clouds were very cool at the end.....and look at this public art.....

Me trying to be creative and take pictures of myself in the cylindrical reflection. 

Inspiration goes around and around

                 I was going through the "poor me's" a few days back. The "poor me's" means I was spending a lot of time feeling bad about myself. Distance running does a funny thing to ones perspective of personal achievement. Last week I ran and finished my 4th marathon ever, yet, the celebratory feeling never even got going. The last 2 miles, all I could think of was getting into my car and going home and getting this race behind me. What was I feeling so bad about? I was feeling bad about my time. It took me over 6 hours to finish this one. almost a whole hour slower than my fastest and 20 minutes slower than my previous, #3.  

                 What had caused me to be slower? I had gained some weight, 20lbs to be exact, and I was mad at myself for allowing this to happen. But share that gripe, about not being happy with your time, with any non-runner and they will pretty much tell you how proud you should be. Not even that, if someone were to tell me they just ran a marathon in that time, I would absolutely celebrate their accomplishment and make sure they knew how impressed I was. So why can't I do that to myself? Why am I holding myself up to a standard so above others?, why can't I just be happy with the fact that I ran 26.2 miles, non-stop....?

                  Just then, I get tagged on a Facebook post from by friend who had just run in very cold weather and she was thanking me for inspiring her and for teaching her to like running in the cold.....I can't give up after a post like that? No matter what my time is, running is a part of me and sticking with it, doing the journey with it is what it's all about. My slow, curvy, relentless racing self has a place in this sport, no matter how much my various self-doubts try to convince me otherwise. It's not about acing each and every race and getting a PR each time....It's about how you go about dealing with the injuries, and the tough cold morning runs, and negotiating what food choices we make, or don't. From this point forward I will simply ignore the self-doubts that creep in after these tough runs, or tough races. I will remind myself that my part in this sport is absolutely essential, if only to inspire 10, 5, 2 or even one other person to go out there and run.