Sunday, January 27, 2013

Life in the "slow" lane

Ready for some life changing miles.
Looking back, have you ever felt that some days could have and should have been enjoyed more??

The week before the Clearwater Marathon I was "recovering" from the Disney Marathon. Let me just interject that active recovery is best for me, but not for everyone. However, the week before the Disney Marathon I tapered according to other's suggestions and I was bored out of my wits. I have found that recovery is a mindset in addition to physical rest. The week before Disney I ran low and slow mileage three days and did yoga four days. Mind you my normal week is filled with running, yoga, P90X, and Insanity (more on that in another blog). 

The Monday after Disney I settled for yoga, stretching, and a massage. On Tuesday morning I was ready to get back out for a date with my running shoes and opened my stride a bit to stretch out the hammies. I felt good and decided more yoga would help with tired muscles. Again, active recovery. I inserted a session of yoga, P90X Shoulders & Arms, and Ab Ripper into my Wednesday study schedule. An early appointment kept me from running on Thursday, so I opted for Insanity's Pure Cardio and more yoga. You can never do enough yoga. Friday I was able to get out for some quick miles to power up the legs. On Saturday morning I decided to do Insanity's Cardio Recovery, which helped me tighten and prepare my legs for some ground pounding miles. I lightly stretched throughout the day, inserted whenever possible in my busy-ness with family and schoolwork. 

In preparation for the "race" I was reminded to react with calm and use positive logic to think through my situation. Not many people can understand why someone would run even 3 miles for the shear pleasure of it let alone 26 point freakin 2 miles. I was ready for a pleasurable experience with thousands of my closest friends and even my family - my brother ran the half. For those of you who do not have experience with Chris Lauber's races, he loves the running community and shows it through his insertion of bridges into his races. What's one, two, three, or six inclines over 26.2 miles? Eh, no problem. LOVE IT!! 

I began the race with a few friends and spent the first 1/5 of my journey chatting with my friend Heather who was running the half and would make her turn back over the Sand Key and Clearwater Memorial bridges. We both have a goal of running 13 half marathons in 2013 and she is ahead of me already. We agreed to stay together until the Suncoast Strider's water stop at about mile 5.5 after conquering the two bridges. We talked about stride rate, breathing techniques, and our running goals for this year. I was held accountable to my decision to begin my journey slow, which does not always happen especially when my legs are warmed up and ready to GO! I held back and enjoyed the atmosphere, which is difficult for me when running a race. 

My own personal cheering section!

One of my favorite highlights of the race was the Suncoast Strider's water station going into and out of Sand Key Park. This amazingly crazy group of friends and family (my sister, hubby and daughter - the youngest but not the smallest) spent the morning setting up and serving water to runners, but most of all cheering on every runner with the same enthusiasm as they would for their favorite professional sports team during the championship game. With so much yelling and waving of pom poms I had to stop and enjoy this naturally occuring party zone, which ended up being about 5-7 minutes even though I had another 20 miles to cover. Tearing myself away I set off for my adventure with hydration bottle in hand. Didn't want a repeat of the Disney medic tent adventure. 

Over the next 20 miles of asphalt (love running in the road, never could do it as a kid) I met countless people running for various reasons, some struggling, some plowing through, and some happily talkative. I met a woman who had physical issues she was determined to overcome, a young Russian Scientology volunteer from Palestine named Yuri, and some Marathon Maniacs just putting one foot in front of the other. I truly believe, even more so now, that if we slow down enough to enjoy the environment and people with which we are blessed we can learn countless lessons and witness the manifestation of purely organic happiness. 

We all have struggles, limitations, or obstacles that we think will hold us back. For me, it is all in my head - that menacing little voice that tells me that I should stop and walk, that my knees or ankles are hurting, or I am not strong enough to do this. Have you heard this voice? I say punch that voice in the throat and claim that it has no control over what we want to accomplish. I had a few fights with this voice during my journey and decided to drown it out by encouraging others who seemed to be fighting with that same voice. I think women's struggles are more visible and easily shared with others than men. I was reminded by encouraging others that even though I struggle in a race when someone praises me for my "accomplishment" I should accept it and be proud of what I just did - fast or slow. These terms are relative and not to be compared to other's speed, distance, or opinion. 

My biggest fan coasting across the finish line with me.
After spending enough time walking I began running and found that I was close to the finish line. Tears began to well up in my eyes and emotions started to flare. Let me say it is very difficult to run and cry at the same time. I look at this photo of my daughter and I crossing the finish line and knowing the emotions I was feeling and the excitement and love she unconditionally poured out into my depleted cup I sped up and came to the end of my 26.2 journey - for that day. Cheers from my husband, son, daughter, and strangers were met with joyous tears of "that was hard", "I had fun", and "my family is happy for me" among other emotions. My husband covered me with a towel and a family hug ensued. Little things show us how proud others are of our accomplishments, take it when it comes and enjoy it. Next step is to have...

A few brews from the Veterans with my Marathon Maniacs!
....a drink with my husband then some awesome ladies. Celebrating life should be done at every moment, even if you just want to lay down and sleep, physically and metaphorically. I will add life to my days so that when I look back on my years I won't feel that I could have / should have done this or that, but more to just enjoy TODAY! Speaking of enjoying today, my friend Cindy (below) accomplished her very first marathon at age 59 with her husband/coach by her side throughout her journey. 

Cindy & Clark partying across the finish line of JOY!

NO EXCUSES!! They came around the corner running and he crossed the finish dancing and she came across smiling as we cheered on her accomplishment. It is a magnificent feeling to have friends and family at the finish line and we wanted to share in her joy as she accomplished something she felt was beyond her reach just a year earlier. Nothing is beyond our reach if we continue to keep moving forward toward our goals (see Smart Goal blog post). 

My first 26.2 Starfish....What a beauty!
The goal for the day accomplished, medal and bananas acquired, and time with family and friends enjoyed. I look back and realize I could not have enjoyed this day more. No regrets for taking time to enjoy people, passion, and life!!

Next race - Best Damn Half.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lessons from the Disney Marathon

Disney Marathon 2013

With an entry in the 2013 Disney World Marathon, I found myself extremely excited and nervous to embark on this magical journey with two very close friends. Our Plan: stick together as long as possible, but if one or more feel so inclined then they GO! Race weekend was upon us and we made our final arrangements for food, sleeping, and race day transportation. 

My daughter (11 yrs) and I made plans to stay with my step-Mom for the evening. After packing everything thing I found necessary to bring, and more, we set out for Orlando going straight to the Wide World of Sports Expo. Amazingly, we found Striders everywhere..they are a force to be reckoned with, anywhere they run! The race packet was full of goodies and a beautiful royal blue race shirt. We walked around the expo checking out the wide array of running apparel and paraphernalia. HP provided free printed photos of the runners and their friends and families placed in a protective sleeve. After talk about strategic race day plans, many of the Striders parted ways. 

After an intimate "no phones on the table" dinner with friends (mushroom ravioli and loads of bread) and a visit to the Nike Outlet store, my daughter and I made our way to Nana's house, where she opened the door with a huge smile. We talked about the race day agenda and my needs as a runner. All the sudden, she tells me we should go to the sporting goods store for a running hat. She is so wonderful, and not just because she bought me a hat that just about saved my life (more about that later)!! She took us to dinner at TooJays, where I fueled up with a Portabella mushroom cap "burger" and fresh fruit. I think my daughter ate more than me. After we returned home and chatted for a while, checking out what was on the tube, I noticed how late it was - about 10 p.m. Yup, our wake call was at 2:30 a.m. 

Quietly, my daughter and I dressed and packed our things, tip-toed out the door, and ate breakfast on the way to the All Star Music hotel. We took the provided shuttle about dark : 30 a.m. with our friends. Disney sure knows how to throw a party, or should I say an extravaganza!! Upon arrival, Disney employees greeted us and directed us to the pre-race party area. A live DJ, a dancing area, hundreds of port-o-potties, and twenty thousand of our closest friends. Nerves slowly built to a rolling boil as we moved into Corral C and approached the start line. High fives all around and the fireworks let loose as Mickey Mouse counted down and said, "GO!" 

The three of us were on our way. I am not one to recount every single mile of any race I do because frankly I do not remember specifics while running, but would like to mention a few things about the race itself in general. (Nor do I do math while I run!) Disney is the happiest place on earth and they want runners to feel the love. Every mile marker had characters available for photographs and high fives with a Disney backdrop. Running through all four Disney parks with over twenty thousand people and look what is posted on the RunDisney site:
Striders doing what they LOVE!
The three of us passed the half marathon split at 2:04 and feeling good about our pace. Over the next few miles we split up, with me lagging behind. I started feeling tired quickly and found myself walking through water stations and in between. Looking back, I would contribute it to my lack of fueling on race morning and during my magical miles. My legs began to cramp, feet began to hurt, and I felt like stopping after attempting everything I could think of to focus and GO! Walking was my only option, or STOP! I told myself that if I could just walk I would end up at the finish line and cross over for that coveted 20th anniversary Mickey Mouse medal. I walked, stopped, sat down a few times, and walked more and all the while I had people passing me saying, "we are almost there" and "good job", which seemed to be the only thing that kept me off of that bench along the Epcot walkway. Totally dehydrated and experiencing heat exhaustion, I ended up in the medic tent with my daughter as my nurse forcing electrolytes in me every 15 seconds. What a pushy lil' princess she is.

The medal is absolutely beautiful and I am extremely happy to have done the Disney Marathon. The characters induced excitement in everyone, the employees made sure everyone's dreams came true (i.e. keeping them hydrated), and most of all the camaraderie of 20,000+ runners breathing, sweating, and struggling for their own goals and still making that extra effort to encourage each other is why I LOVE to run in these races. My experience at the Disney Marathon was inspirational and educational to say the least. While I did not reach my goal, my dream of completing the Disney Marathon did come true! Thank you Disney World for putting on the "happiest" race on earth.

Next up....Clearwater Marathon - 1/20/13

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2013

I sat down with my family for our goal setting dinner on December 31st for some brainstorming on how to develop goals. We came away with full bellies and over about two dozen goals for individuals and our family as a whole. We are all very excited about this year, as we listed personal goals, things we want to do, places we want to go, and books we want to read.

A few from the kids included:
* Read one book a month (11 yr old)
* Take SAT and apply for college (16 yr old)
* Go ice skating (11 yr old)
* Visit South America (16 yr old)

A few from the parents:
* Graduate with a degree (both)
* Read a Biography (Hubby)
* Run 2013 miles (Me)
* Take a trip to California (both)

These are only a few of what we wrote down, which is extremely important to do. If goals are not written down there is less of a chance that they will be accomplished. So get out that piece of paper, whiteboard, chalkboard, smart phone, etc. and get ready to start brainstorming!!

The S.M.A.R.T. way to set goals. Links to multiple goal-setting websites can be searched, but I choose to simplify the guidelines like I did with my family.

Specific Be very specific about what you want to accomplish. For example, say you want to run more. Think about how often, how long, what days, where, with whom, etc.

Measurable  Be sure that you can measure your goals by established criteria. Ask questions such as how much or how will you know when you have reached the desired goals.

Attainable Be careful to develop goals you can attain during 2013, even if those goals may continue on to grow into bigger goals. Write down the specific steps required to reach your goals.

Relevant Make your goals relevant to your lifelong aspirations. Examine whether the goals are worthwhile for you and your family.

Time-Bound Set a time frame requirement to attain your goals. Answer the question: What target date do I set to accomplish my goals?

With all these guidelines in mind, brainstorm your goals, write them down, and post them somewhere you look everyday. When you reach a goal, CELEBRATE!! I will be celebrating along with all of you!!

Happy Goal-setting!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bean and Barley Salad

This is a Vegan dish with loads of protein and carbs...ENJOY!!
2 cups cooked barley
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Optional: may add any chopped veggies
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced

1/2 cup olive oil
12 cup red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala (can be found on grocery store spice aisle)
pinch crushed red pepper flakes

In a large bowl, stir in barley, beans, corn, chopped veggies, and cilantro. In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk. Pour over salad; toss and coat. Chill until serving.


My purpose with this blog

The FitRunninMomma Blog has a purpose - to challenge you to take lessons from life and grow in a positive way. Without growth we are stagnant and happiness slips out of our grasp like we dipped our hands in oil before taking hold of it.  Have you ever had a mind-melt trying to figure why a certain situation has happened to you or someone you love? Or have you felt someone wronged you or that your children just like to be bad? Stereotypically humankind finds it easiest to focus on the negative, but my challenge to you is to spend time focusing on positive thoughts and actions and see where we go!