On the eve of my 25th Half Marathon

Tonight, as I sit in my Bethlehem, PA hotel room watching Fixer Upper, I am feeling all the feels one encounters on the eve of a milestone.

Tomorrow, I will toe the line at my 25th half marathon and 125th race.  The Runners World Half Marathon feels like the PERFECT place to celebrate.

As I have shared MANY times, running saved my life.  Since lacing up my running shoes after M was born, in the fall of 2012, I have crossed 106 finish lines.  I have logged thousands of miles.  And along the way found more than I can share here in a way that gives depth and meaning to that statement.  I sit here tonight because of those finish lines, those miles, and EVERY person who ran them with me.  Never an athlete, running became a saving grace for a life riddled with anxiety and doubt.

Today, I am a better mom and a better wife and a better friend and a better human.  All those miles significantly shifted my fate and my future.  And the best part – in the most secret part of my heart – is that I did that through the power of my own perseverance and hard work.  I made choices every time I set a 4am alarm clock or showed up when I wasn’t ready or signed up for a race because a friend asked. That might be the most empowering part of those miles.

And now, it is time for new adventures.  I will keep running and growing and being inspired.  But I’m ready for MORE.  Next to me on the bed is a binder just waiting for the ideas in my head to land on paper.  Over the next weeks and months, I will be doing the hard work to make those dreams come true.  Just like running, I know it will take small moments that eventually become something bigger.  And I am so excited.

I may pop back from time to time, but the role of running in my life has shifted.  It’s a beautiful shift – based in soul searching and hard questions and big answers.  Without all those miles, I would never had found the courage to ask those questions.  It still astounds me what the power of the human spirit can do.  So just for today, I am signing off my blog so I can sign on to something brand, spanking new.

Thank you for your running fellowship.  I look forward to seeing you at a race and giving you a huge, sparkly hug.

Onward…

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Life Begins Beyond your Comfort Zone

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For the past two+ years, I have been regularly attending classes at Easy Day Yoga .  On a good week, I make it twice and on an even better week – three times.  My classes have ranged from quiet Restorative to very intensive (sweat dripping down your nose) Vinyasa.  The variety of practices and excellent teachers have made it easy to pop in wherever I happen to be.

Truth be told, I started going consistently to help my running.  I knew I wasn’t stretching enough and yoga seemed like a really good idea.  AND I felt like yoga would also help with elongating muscles (aka – make me look long and lean!).

Over the past two years, my experience has shifted.  Easy Day became, and remains, a place of calm and light and safety.  It is where I see God in myself and in others.  A place I feel connected to the universe.  I feel my heart rate slow as soon as I walk in the door.

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One sunny evening this summer, I headed off to class with one of my favorite teachers to discover two things.

First, the class had been extended by 15 minutes.

And second, we would have time for “FUN” arm balances – at times with partners!

The 15 minutes was fine, but arm balances are not my jam.  And I go to yoga to be one with my mat – not touch or interact with other humans.  But I was already there and figured, how bad could it be?

It was bad.

And I had more than one moment where I wanted to cry.

Twice I almost ran out of the room and just left my mat behind.

But I made myself sit through the discomfort.  For 75 minutes I stayed.

In retrospect, I realized it was emblematic of what my clients go through every time I show up and recommend change to their roles, processes, and organizations.  Every time I ask them to shift what they have been doing for years.

Beyond the work application… it truly was a concentrated version of the day to day struggle we all go through when we strive to be better than we were the day before.  Because change is HARD.  We are not wired to be OK with evolution.

BUT – I also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that is where the magic happens. 

Shortly thereafter, an opportunity presented itself to me… I had been on the wait list for this year’s Camp Good Life Project after hearing about it on the Good Life Project podcast.  And a week after the crazy yoga class, a spot opened up.

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After I read the email saying there was a place for me at this year’s camp, I thought of every excuse – it’s too late, it’s the first week of school, it’s not in the budget, you have meetings that day… But I called a dear, brilliant friend and she said – just say yes.

So I did.

And this line on their website is why —

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THAT is what I want from my life right now.  I want to be around positive people with a forward focus.  I need it in order to continue my own little journey on the third planet from the sun.

So next Thursday through Sunday, I will join 300+ friends at a camp for grown ups in Rock Hill, NY.   The program is incredible and everything I’ve read/heard about sounds amazing.  There will be good moments and bad moments and life changing moments.  My job is to show up and be present.  So I will do my very best to do just that.

Namate, friends. Go be magic.

 

 

Kings Cross Station

There is a scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where Harry awakens in limbo after Lord Voldemort tries to kill him.  As the scene progresses, elements solidify as if out of mist until Harry determines he is in Kings Cross Station in London.  This image, of things slowly forming, has been a very powerful one for me this year.  One that I have often gone back to for reassurance that the mist would clear and I would know exactly what was stretching out in front of me.

The choice of Kings Cross was not arbitrary for JK Rowling  — for it represented choice and change and motion.  I have come to realize that image, of all the things I have read and seen in 41 years, was not arbitrary for me either.

If you recall, a year ago I finally admitted that I had hit rock bottom around my shopping addiction.  And today I am proud to report that I have had 375 days without debting.

It has been quite a year.

I have been tested in every way a person can be tested.  But 375 days later my marriage, my relationships, and my sense of self are all light years ahead of where they were in July of 2016.  And as the 7th month of 2017 fades away, I feel the spark of excitement rising…

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The spark lit from that moment of change and desperation has added such extraordinary light to my life.  Two lessons in particular from this strange fog of a year have changed my perspective on almost everything.

1. Each of us are inherently and wholly lovable and NO ONE can take that away.  We are NOT our mistakes.  We make mistakes.  And we move forward.  Worth is not measured by the number of miles we run or the weight on a scale or the grandeur of our homes or the behavior of our children.  We are worthy.  It does not come from other people.  It is within us.  And here is the trick… That worth can only be respected by others if WE set boundaries.

2. Everyone is doing the best they can at every given moment. Going into situations with that mindset has been challenging and hard.  I had not thought of myself as a super judgmental person, but guess what – I was.  And when I started believing that other people were REALLY doing the best that they could, it changed the way I treated them – externally and inside my head.  It also changed the way they responded to me.  And I found something I had longed for – peace.  Because I stopped trying to control everyone and everything.

So what does all of this have to do with fog and Kings Cross Station and Harry Potter?  And what about running and fitness?  Isn’t this a running blog?

Well – here is the thing, my friends.  I am irrevocably changed by the past year.  As the fog has lifted and shifted and cleared, I have found a new well of joy hiding under all that messy stuff.

Here is the hardest truth of all… running has been filling a void for me and I want it to play a different role in my life.

I want to be healthy and strong and have goals, but I no longer want to be obsessed with races and beating times or beating people.  I want to fill my time with a myriad of things to help me grow and spend time with people I love.

Running will always be a part of who I am, but it’s time for the other facets to find light too.  To know that peace of mind is just a mile away is the greatest gift I have learned from running, but it is just one tool of many.

Because the joy is there in the mess.  I just have to be willing to find it.

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Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

Namaste, friends.

My Health Matters 5k Recap

I am lucky enough to have an AMAZING group of girlfriends who live in my neighborhood.  We all have school age children who are also friends.  While running one morning, the four of us to run together often got the idea in our heads of doing a 5k together.  Somehow, we convinced the others to join in the fun.  And TEAM FEARLESS was born!

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We signed up for, and made AMAZING shirts for, the My Health Matters 5k in Herndon, VA.  First time races are always a little tricky, but we figured we were just running for fun, so no big deal!

On Friday afternoon, before the race, I picked up our packets and delivered them around the neighborhood.  And, of course, set out my flat mamma with my new unicorn sparkle skirt!

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Various ladies in our group love to write what we affectionately call “positive graffiti” with sidewalk chalk all over our neighborhood.  One of the ladies added our team name to each of our driveways (with the help of her 3 year old cutie pie son).

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Three of us arrived early to get in 2-3 miles before the race to keep up with our training plan.  I couldn’t sleep before picking the gals up, so I drank my coffee and watched the sun rise up over Ashburn.

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After our warm up, we got cleaned up a bit and met our team for some pre-race photos.

Hadley and Molly positioned themselves at the front of the pack because they were both shooting for places in the small, home town race.  I had consumed WAY TOO MUCH wine the night before and put myself a bit further back in the pack.

The race started on the road and wound through the trails in Herndon.  As we got going, I felt a kick in my step and decided to chase my friends.  Going over a bridge, I saw Hadley’s blond ponytail swinging behind her as the first woman – a lead she held all the way through the race and maintained at the finish line!

Molly finished 1st in our age group and I was second, with the rest of our friends all finishing within 5 minutes behind us.  I felt great and really proud of kicking it up a bit, but want to see that 24:xx flashing soon.  I know the speed work we are putting in will get me there…  PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE!!  I guess.

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We stayed for the awards celebration, but were very disappointed when the awards given did not match the website promises for recognition.  We tried to address it at the ceremony and afterwards, but it doesn’t seem that they can get it 100% right.  They were very nice and apologetic, and we realized it was a first time race about HAVING FUN, but never the less – we felt slighted.

Regardless of that snafu – we had SO MUCH FUN together and I cannot wait for another race with these amazing, fearless ladies!

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Wednesday Why: Legs Up the Wall

Why on earth would you do this?  And what the heck is it called?

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This lovely posture is called “Legs up the Wall”.  I discovered it in a restorative yoga class and after hearing the instructor praise it, decided to do some reading.  I learned, among other things, that not only was it CALMING, but it was one of the best things you could do for tired legs.

After adding it after EVERY RUN, I can now tell you – taking the time to do it is one of my keys to staying healthy.  Sometimes I do it and meditate.  Sometimes I post my runs.  And sometimes I chat with my kiddo about his day.  Combined with foam rolling, it has completely changed how I IRL (in real life) – even after a day at a client in heels!

The Why
– Reduces edema (stuck excess fluids) in your legs and feet
– Relieves tired muscles
– Reduces stress and calms the mind
– Boosts energy
– Alleviates headaches

The list continues when you visit Mr. Google, but you get the point!

The How
1. Find a good wall that abuts to a carpet or a rug.  OR bring over a mat.  You don’t want to be distracted by lying on a hard surface.
2. Scoot yourself so you are sitting next to the wall with one hip touching.
3. Swing your legs up against the wall and make sure your sits bones (aka your bottom) is flush against the wall.
4. Relax and take a deep breath

It’s that easy!!  I recommend at least 10 minutes, but if a couple is all you have – go for it!

I challenge you to try this pose today.  I’ve done it on conference calls from my home office, in my bedroom before bed and in the living room after dinner.

And – let me know how it goes!

Namaste, friends.