Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Running" an experiment.

Since my last post, I stepped WAAAAY outside my comfort zone and opened myself up to opinions, judgements, and comments (sometimes supportive, sometimes skeptical, or simply shocked) by announcing my personal goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I am not fast. Yet. I do not look like a runner. Yet. I do not have a lot of time to train. Who does? It is amazing to me, to watch people run or bike in my neighborhood. I truly respect the individuals who have the drive to become and maintain athletic abilities beyond what I know. When others see me trotting down the bike path I look less than impressive when compared to the those who share my exercise venue. BUT--I like a great come-back story, and I often cheer for the underdog. So why not me, the working mom of 3, less-than-competative jogger, who once had a day in world of athletics?

The human mind contains unmeasurable power, many people agree on this. But how far can our minds take us, realistically, in every day life? When I was younger and less "damaged" by life's blows, I believed we could simply chose what we wanted, and make it happen. What happened after that? Life. And after that? Nothing. I quit trying, reaching, and growing. I went to college and got my degree/job. The end. I completed a few marathons slowly. The end. I had 3 kids. Well... that's a never ending story. Bottom line, everything I dreamed of as a kid, happened. Who can complain about that? Not me. But why did I stop dreaming?

Dara Torres makes a point in her book, Age is Just A Number, when she says that often times people give up on themselves when they become middle-aged. This needs not be so. More experienced are we middle-agers? Yes. Have all of those experiences been pleasant? No. Can difficult and unpleasant experiences make us stronger, smarter, and better? Absolutely. Not just physically, but mentally, and spiritually as well. Dara Torres among other athletes have proven that with hard work and sacrifice we can be strong. I want to be strong. But I also want to be smart. And I want to remember where I came from and where I am going and why I am here on Earth experiencing life to its fullest.

So goes the experiment: Running. I will continue putting forth my best physical effort toward my goal of achieving an official Boston qualifying time at a full marathon (2011?). I will read and learn and grow mentally as I study the best way to do so, in my middle-aged state. I will research and apply what I have found. And I will share these things with you. Whoever you are. Then, and most importantly, I will apply my experience in running, training, and ultimately qualifying to who I am and where I am going spiritually. This part may bore or even scare some readers away. That's okay. I don't just run to be stronger and smarter. I want to be better--and better, in my opinion, is on the inside.

Stronger: I'm losing the weight. I started with 15 pounds to lose, and I am down 1.5 this week. I ran every day I was scheduled, even my long run on Saturday. And although life happened, I got it done at 9:30pm. Better late than never. I also got a few days of strength training and extra walking at nights. Cardiovascularly, I'm doing better as well. It still takes me 2-3 miles to warm up, but once I do I feel like I could go forever. But I'm still slower than I need to be.

Smarter: I read Age is Just A Number and am still reading Racing Weight. I am learning how important it is to live for the goal. Everything we eat or watch or dream of, potentially has an effect on the ultimate goal. I started thinking positive, and actually dreamed of achieving it. I can't wait for it to happen in reality!

Better: Dania and I were teasing about how "muscle memory" works. Specifically, how now my muscles don't automatically reach for the cookies like they used to--I reach for building foods ;-) Same goes spiritually. Less of the remote, and more of the scriptures. I love to find messages that seem to pop out and inspire me stretch and grow each day.

Putting one foot in front of the other,


Sunday, September 19, 2010

You will know that I am happy

Yesterday, Tori asked me a good question. I gave her an answer that later, made me really analyze myself and my life. "Are you happy with your life?" She said smiling, as we stood in the kitchen rushing to get breakfast on. First off, I would rather be the kind of person that radiates happiness and joy and enthusiasm for life no matter where I am or what I'm doing--my happiness and gratitude for life itself should be obvious. But at that moment, I was tired. Very tired. Young mothers are tired from early morning baby/toddler hours. Older mothers are tired with late-night (which turn to early morning) talks with teenagers. Mothers like me who have both, well, occasionally I have lack-of-sleep moments when I wonder what "my life" really is. My response reflected this when I quickly answered, "I don't really have a life. I'm just part of everyone else's."

Why did that comment seem less than happy, when in fact I am thrilled with my life? Being a contributor to the lives of those in my family is the greatest thing I do and I wouldn't give it up for anything, this is who I am. I work because this world demands it. But I play and serve and enjoy my family because I love them eternally. I always wanted to be a mother and build a home that is a sanctuary from the craziness of the world out there. So why is it that sometimes, while doing the very thing I've always dreamed about, I can feel lifeless after all, and the happiness inside is not evident to others?

Even my dream life can be overwhelming, and "balance in all things" is necessary to keep things moving like a well-oiled machine. Even Jesus Christ who's life's purpose was to serve mankind, took time to be alone. Maybe taking time to care for myself is more important than I thought. So... once upon a time, I set a goal (nearly 10 years ago). A goal which in reality, I DID NOT KNOW whether or not could physically be achieved. But I set it and I meant it. And now I will conquer it once and for all. I started running not for the run itself, but for the benefits that a good run yields. Then I ran my first marathon in 2001 and said someday, I would be fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. For many, this is no big deal. For me, it means a lot. If I am going to designate time each day to take care of myself in order to be a better and evidently happier mother and wife, I may as well accomplish something fun and worthwhile.

Fast? No. Slow and steady served me very well for a decade. I enjoyed going for my runs for all the reasons people run. Looming, however, was this goal in the back of my mind and I knew that someday I would have to "step it up". But speed workouts are haaaard (insert whining voice here). And with nobody to really coach or push me along, it was easier just to run a 10k, half marathon, or even full marathon, than to race it. So for 10 years that is just what happened.

But now, I am ready to go. First Step: Set a goal for this year; break 2:00 on my half marathon. I am still 8 minutes away, officially. But 'tis the season to be racing! The weather is cooling down and the Fall air beckons! Recently, I started training better and eating right. I believe I can do this by year's end.

Second Step: Complete a half marathon in 1:45. This equates to the Boston qualifying time (full marathon) except it is for a half. I am very hopeful to achieve this in Moab on March 19th, 2011 almost exactly 10 years from my 1st full marathon. Fitting.

Third Step: Once 1:45 is met, training for the full marathon will begin. If I reach this goal at Moab, I will enter the lottery for the St. George Marathon to be held in October of 2011. If I do not get picked I will likely choose the Top of Utah full marathon in September of 2011. I like the Utah marathons because they are on Saturdays (most others are on Sundays), and while the purpose of this effort is to take time out for me, I don't want to lose sight of HIM. Sundays are my "day of rest."

Fourth Step: Train like crazy, eat smart, and generally enjoy life along the way. I have a husband, two runner girls, and a toddler who are all great cheerleaders, I will depend on them on my tired or snowy or just plain lazy days, to push me out the door.

Fifth/Final Step: RACE, not just run, the full marathon this time next year, in 3:45, the qualifying time for my age division.

Would I be happy without this goal? Yes. The things that matter most to me are all in place. I take great comfort and joy in that. I will continue to "be a part of everyone else's" life. Every night I will dream of the greatest people on Earth only to wake up and find them in reality, having breakfast in MY kitchen while getting ready for school or work. My life is complete and full without the run, but still, it heals the heart, mends the mind, soothes the soul, and powers the person. So for now, running it is... and with a smile on my face. And you will know that I am happy ;o)