Thursday, January 11, 2018

Who are you without that race shirt?

           Who are you without that race shirt?
I have been tossing around the idea of how some athletes, including myself, might at some point use our race gear to hide or to feel more emboldened in areas where we might feel a bit shy. Now hear me out. I find it perfectly okay when I see runners proudly display their gear. I myself cannot live without wearing my race tops everywhere. They are like a sweet reminder of badassery activity from the not-so-distant past. Yet, could there be such as thing as doing it for the wrong reasons? I fear that maybe the answer is 'sometimes'. For example, I myself, have often veered towards using a race shirt, to the gym, for example, especially on my 'feeling-less-than-confident' days. Wearing a top earned at my favorite race, for example, absolutely adds a little more confidence, especially when I might not be quite feeling it that day. In addition, as a Buddhist who is always trying to let go of all types of inner fears and always practicing deeper and deeper levels of self-acceptance, I do not like this occasional dependence I feel to wear a race shirt to feel better. IF I WERE to need to hide behind a race shirt that I then should work on not needing this so much. The worry comes from the idea that If wearing that shirt becomes a total dire necessity, not just a simple adornment, then what does that say about who we think we really are beneath all that gear? Byron Katie, a self-help guru whose books I adore, always asks the poignant question, "Who would you be without your story?". In asking us that question she pushes us to really question who we think we are behind all the narrative, all the medals, all the labels, whatever it is that we use to define ourselves to the external world. In a perfect world I should not feel the need to flaunt my accomplishments so externally, or so intensely or even all the time in order for my essence to come across clearly to others. In a perfect world I would very much hope that my own personality would stand on its own, without the need to embellish it with anything extra. And of course, I want to wear that shirt, display the 26.2 stickers and show off the my medals but not if without it I really think I'm nothing.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

That’s a wrap!!!

This is me a day back into school....not feeling this new year....but trying to stay positive. 

Finally some snow!! 

Finished at 948 miles.......okay so it's not 1000 but it's higher than last 2 years...

The Cutelis family....

Jenna-- made these amazing cookies....lots of amazing food this holiday....

And lots of hugs and love.....feeling so blessed!!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A glimpse into a busy working mom's winter workouts

                     I was just too tired this morning to go to the gym. After all these years of running I know very well the difference between tired and simply lazy. This was not lazy, I was honest to goodness tired. My throat was tight and dry and I have not had much sleep the day before and every part of me was still asleep when the alarm went off at 4am, so I allowed myself to not go and sleep for another 2 hours.  Now it's 7pm on that same day and everyone in my home has been fed and are now off working on their own projects. I came home straight from work and experimented on making a Mexican vegan quinoa recipe I found online. Dinner is over and sweet hubby is now reading, Luke is doing homework, Nora is sneaking a quick video game an I am warm and cozy in bed typing, beside me is my parrot on a stand enjoying the electric heater I plugged in for extra heat. But at 9pm, when the kids are getting ready for bed I will inhale some hot coffee, warm-up my car and head to the local 24-hour gym with my earphones and a fully charged iPad and maybe run for 1 hour as I binge watch new episodes of Black Mirror on Netflix and do weights for another hour and for a special treat to yours truly I plan to cap off the night with a free 10-minute water massage the gym offers. I could sit here and feel bad that I am not out there facing the elements but these days it's more important just to get the workout done. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Grateful for the little aches and pains

                      We were driving to my sister-in-law's house to stay there for a few days for the holidays and I kept being distracted by the tightness on my back as I drove. The day before I had done weights again for the first time in weeks and my body was complaining. We were staying at my mom's and hubby and I had gone to use the gym near her house. But I don't ever mind my body's tightness after a run, or aches after a hard workout. It says that my body is working and that pain and discomfort are a sign that my body working hard to repair and strengthen those muscles I overworked the day before. More poignant, the pain and discomfort  also means I am alive, that I did something, that I got out. That is exactly why I names my Instagram account "Igettorun" because that is how I feel about it. The enormous gratefulness I feel by the fact that I GET TO move my legs, I get to move through the world, prancing around, like some young buck is a most wonderful, amazing gift. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

You are going nowhere without your mental game

                        I have been doing lots of research lately about what it takes to run and complete a 50 mile race. One consistent message I keep getting is that you should be running/walking at least 6/8 hours on your long run days for at least 2-3 long runs before the race. 
                        I am visiting my mom for the holiday and her husband, Marcelo, works in construction. On a -4 degree day he came home after work and reported that he'd worked outdoors the entire day and for the whole time he was performing some heavy duty labor. Immediately my mind goes to endurance. This 50+ year old man just came home from a 7-8 hour physically demanding workday and although he looked exhausted one can ask how is this different from a 5-6 hour training run? There is no difference. Equally, a few months back we hired four tree cutters to cut down a tree in our back yard and within 6 hours they had not only cut the tree down but they left no trace of it in and around our property. They did this with very little use of machines. Each worker drug out giant pieces of tree out to a truck on their backs. 

                         So not only do these two examples above illustrate that human endurance is something more prevalent in our community and that we all have come close contact with endurance in some form in our lives and not necessarily related to sports. Yet, what makes this fact even more fascinating is the mental aspect involved in endurance. Here are a few things I have learned so far about the mental aspects involved with endurance. 

* Your thoughts, and your thoughts alone, decide what is difficult and what is doable. Which explains why some days a 3-mile run can seem super tough and on another day it's seen as a breeze. 

* The minute you sign up for a race you are planting a seed in your own brain that this is possible. The very act of signing up for any race and planning other logistics around it, such as flight, hotel, etc... is an act of self-convincing. 

* Your body will meet your mind. Dream big baby! Of course you have to put in the work to train for any given endurance event, whether it's your job or a race. Yet, your body is absolutely able to grow to the dream your dream for it. Nothing is impossible. 


Monday, December 25, 2017

Independence in relationships.

                        I have come a long way from the young girl who romanticized love, who equated to much caring with true caring, who no matter how much I denied it, ultimately continued to define herself by other's general satisfaction level with me. I had no sense of me, no idea of who I was or what I wanted. Fear was a driving factor in all my relationships. Fear of losing whatever it was I had at the moment made me feel I needed to amp up the intensity and constantly swim uphill to maintain control. God forbid anything changed. 

                    To illustrate the above I will tell you a story. When I was in college I was with someone whom I loved very much. I took excellent care to always be present and caring and wonderful to this person, so much so that I slowly became someone else entirely in trying to keep this person happy and content near me. In turn, this partner too changed due to my suffocating "care". In the end, as you can imagine, I was dumped...but dumped hard! I was told when this happened that I had lost the free spirit that made me so attractive to begin with and I had become too needy, too bossy, too much. Looking back now, I was too suffocating in my care, too maternal, too intense, and too prescriptive in how my needs needed to be met. Looking back, I know all of this mess stemmed from just fear, fear of change, scared of losing whatever was there, no matter how undeveloped or not right for me it was. At that time, of course, I walked away from the relationships completely stung, deeply hurt, and utterly unable to understand how anyone could turn away from such love and care. In this case as in many, love was not enough. In this case, as the character Bob in what about Bob, the movie, the care was the last thing my partner needed, but I was too blind and naive to know that at the time. 

                    Fast forward 20 years later, I totally get it now. Love, as much as we think is the end-all-be-all of everything, does not make a relationship, and sometimes too much of it can even help end many relationships. One OTHER aspect of relationships that is too often widely overlooked when choosing a life partner is (drumroll please....)..... intensity level. Intensity level plays a huge essential part in relationships dynamics. Intensity level, in fact, plays such an integral part in a relationships that within days one can begin to see the trajectory of success or failure of any relationship begin to form based purely on the compatibility of the intensity within the two individuals. Depending on the intensity level in the relationship, partners can either make you feel free and alive or choked, immobile and just wrong. No matter how much we love to be in the company of a loved one, independence is its own reward and if made to choose, freedom is always the most attractive path to all of us seeking general happiness in our futures. 

                     So the questions begs to be asked, "what is the right intensity level?". Intensity levels are very tightly connected  to expectations and demands. Negative issues, as I alluded above, arise mostly when intensity levels do not match. Each participant needs to honor their own needs coupled with practicing "allow". Allow simply means letting others be who they are without pushing our weight around to make our counterparts do things our way, etc. For any successful relationship to work, it's important to know that not all partners can and should ever meet all our needs and/or acquiesce to all our demands but also it's essential to know that not all needs and demands need to be abandoned either. We constantly ask ourselves over and over again, over the course of the relationship forming, what is and is not okay with us personally. Constantly reflecting upon and genuinely honoring and remaining true to our most essential limits will we be assured a life where we get more of what we need and less/none of what we don't. 

                    So now it's my turn. What does a self-sufficient woman who is totally content with the way her life is at the moment need from a relationship? This is where things get tricky.  I have come to learn over the years that most people generally are much more comfortable relating to others when this "other" has a need. It must be some type of universal rule, but it's generally much easier being a friend to someone in need. Makes sense, feels good to be needed. On the other hand, it's much harder to be a friend to someone who is emotionally independent. I was that ultimately all-giving friend once. Most of my female friends consisted of women going through tragedy, drama, or simply pure hell...not sometimes, but always. I was always running around like a chicken with my head cut off, putting out other people's fires, placing my needs last always. But It felt like I was making a difference, when in fact I was spinning in one place, never making much progress.  

                  I totally get it now, just like the 20 year-old me getting dumped, I know it stings to not feel needed to come put out fires, yet, now I am looking for a very different type of connection, for a different type of frienships. Therefore, I will rephrase my question here, What does a self-sufficient woman who feels emotionally independent primarily needs from any relationship? Definitely NOT one resembling of a mom to a baby, or of the "lost one" to a "savior", but of true, powerful equals in which both gain from the relationship. I am looking to connect on a higher level. These days quality is worth more to me than quantity. Unlike a 20-year old, who might pride herself on being surrounded by as many friends as possible, I would be perfectly happy with a handful of sane, confident trustworthy confidants any day. 

                    So this year, running-wise, I feel I have gotten wiser and much stronger. I know this body I inhabit so well now. That is a gift from me to me and so my goals are more on the emotional plane. Relationship-wise, I feel satisfied with how my husband and I have grown so close and we relate on levels unmatched by other relationships I've had thus far. He is an honest to goodness true friend to me and I am to him. I don't think I can say anything to him and he'd be surprised, hurt, or closed off to me. He so deeply knows himself; I have utmost respect for all the growth he's helped me achieve. I can only wish to be as emotionally grounded as he is one day.  In addition, I will continue to seek deep and genuine connections with friends and colleagues in which we relate to each other as powerful equals, and with balanced intensity levels that allow us to grow and learn from one another. I will continue to fan the flames of relationships which help me feel powerful, brave and and who acknowledge and value my chosen paths. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Feeling blessed

             I am feeling very blessed this holiday.  With all the horrible things happening in the world lately, not for one minute do I take for granted all the great gifts I have around me. I have a sweet and caring husband, I have two loving, creative, bright and healthy children. My family is the best. My mom is the sweetest mom and grandma to me and my kids. I enjoy the company of close confidants and keep close relationships with both my siblings and a handful of simply amazing women whom I highly respect and dearly love. 

         As the year comes to an end I am reflecting on what to focus on in the new year. I think I am going to focus on these few things and if I were to attach a 'theme' to these goals I'd say the theme might be called"YES TO ME"

* Trust your instincts, always, first and foremost.
* Say yes to kids' requests for any type of quality time..yes, yes!!
* When angry, pull away, reflect and THEN act......or not.
* Remember to say, "Thank You"....It's such a small thing, but it shows you are paying attention. 
* No matter how much it feels like it sucks initially, early rising is always a HUGE gift 10 minutes later. 
* People's behavioral ugliness does not belong to me, do not carry it.
* Friends are people who want to know about you, are genuinely happy for your successes, comfort you in tough times and generally want to be in your life. Anything less is an acquaintance.