Running like a girl

Boys and girls are different. We all know that. And, I for one, celebrate those differences. I love being a girl! Being different means we run differently. I used to let it bother me that I could train for a year for a race, while my man sat on the couch eating cheese dip, and he would still beat me without breaking a sweat. I mostly don’t let that bother me anymore. Today’s run was a perfect example. We are in South Carolina and we’re staying in the backwoods (I don’t know the town – we’re at a motorcylce race). There are wonderfully hard packed dirt roads, with little to no cant. Now, I know that if you’re a runner, you’re already green-eyed, but there’s more. I slept in a little, so by the time I started, the weather was upper 40’s to mid 50’s, with no wind, and beautiful sunshine. It really doesn’t get much better than that for a run. I think at one point I heard my knees break out in the Hallelujah Chorus! It was truly magnificent. How was it a girl run? Well, if my man had gone with me, given the perfect set of circumstances, he would have kicked it up a few notches and really pushed hard. It was an 8 miler for me, and I have a training plan for those, which I stuck to (for the most part). I ran my 2/1 intervals, with only a couple of pushes, and when I was done, I think I could have easily tacked on 10 more. I was pleasantly tired on the half mile cool down, and I still have juice in my legs to finish my day. My point is to run your run. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. There are LOTS of girls I know who have a competitive streak as strong as anyone’s and run all out on every run. That’s fine, too. That is their run. I run for lots of reasons. For fitness, to lose/keep off weight, to keep disease at bay. I run because it makes me strong, physically and spiritually. But, the single most important reason that I run is because I LOVE how it makes me feel. Clear and focused. Ready to face my day. Now, I do include training runs that push me. Hills (Yuk!), speedwork, and strength training (triple Yuk!) are all included in my training plan. But, my favorite runs are those like today. Soul soothers. Reminders of the goodness of God and the beauty that surrounds us. I always try keep my eyes focused on my run, no one else’s. I enjoy running with my man sometimes. He really pushes me, and I think that’s a good thing. But, I’ll keep on running my run, and savoring the sweet ones like today. And I’ll do it in a skirt.

Overcoming your legacy

My sister and I took our dad, who now lives in a nursing home, to the cemetery today to visit and tend to our mother’s grave.  We do this a couple times of year, and it’s always a welcome outing, as morbid as that sounds.  We walk around and read the grave stones and Dad tells us how we are related to each of them, and some of his memories of them, as well.  Today was a beautiful day for it, cool and sunny, and he always enjoys the journey as much as the destination.

Today’s trip started me thinking about our legacies.   Not the material ones, but the spiritual, emotional, and physical ones.  And, I started thinking about mine in particular.  I won the parent lottery.  I grew up in a Christ centered, love filled home.  Yes, we had the usual bickering, and certainly had financial challenges, but I grew into a woman filled with faith largely because I learned that at my parent’s knees.  From my dad, I learned how to get along with, love and accept others,  and the power of a loving and giving heart.  From my mom, I learned tenacity, perseverance, and how to be a God filled wife and mother.  These, and so many other gifts, were given freely and embraced with pleasure.

But, what about the other legacies?  The ones that  weren’t so desirable?  I’m not talking about the size of my nose or the freckles that plagued me throughout childhood and adolescence. I’m talking about more serious issues.  Lifestyle legacies.  Do you have any that you wish you hadn’t been saddled with?

My wonderful parents had issues.  They both struggled with their weight, particularly my mom, throughout adulthood.  Both developed Type II diabetes and heart disease, Mom had a stroke at age 70, and Dad has dealt with numerous TIA’s and seems to have some neurological hiccups that are hard to diagnose, but frustrating none the less.  How much of their health issues were related to lifestyle and how much to genetics?  I have no idea.  But, I do know that neither of them lived particularly healthy lifestyles, eating like Southerners, and getting very little exercise.

I learned something last year as I trained for the NYC marathon that has taken 50 years to sink in.  I can overcome this legacy of poor health.  One of the things non-runners say to me ALL the time is, “If you ever see me running, it’s because something is chasing me.”  Well, something is chasing me.  It’s obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and poor health.   I can’t change my genetic code, but I can change the way I live.

It finally dawned on me last year that what it takes to accomplish the seemingly impossible is simply the  belief that I can.  I never really thought I would finish a marathon, much less NYC.  But, I did.  The training was hard (go back and read some of my whinier posts), and it certainly didn’t happen in a day.  But, it made me believe in myself in a way I never have before.  I used to believe that I would always carry around an extra 20 pounds or so.  If I lost it, it would just come back.  And, guess what?  Every time I lost it, it came right back.  Hmmm…… maybe it had more to do with my lack of belief, than it did a “genetic predisposition.”

I now know that I can do it.  My mother didn’t run 26 cumulative miles in her entire 80 years of life.  Last year, I crossed the finish line of the NYC marathon.  I know she was cheering me on from heaven.    She always wanted us to find the best in ourselves, she just didn’t always know how to model that for us.

Do you have a lifestyle legacy to overcome?  An alcoholic or abusive parent?  One who was a spendthrift and didn’t teach you how to manage money?  You are your own person.  You don’t have to live the legacies that you don’t want to.  Life is about choice, and each day brings a new set of choices. Choose to begin an exercise program, then each day, choose to do it.  Some days will be really hard.  I’ve never struggled with alcohol issues, so I can only imagine the strength that it takes to have to choose daily not to drink.  And, yet, many are able to do it. Choosing to overcome your legacy may be the key to completely changing your life.

I choose every day to be happy, to be content with my life, to live the best life I’m able. That’s not easy to do every day.  Some days, life stinks.  Choosing happiness is a daily chore, one I do before my feet ever hit the floor in the morning.  

If you have an “overcoming my legacy” story, share it with me.  I’d love to hear it.  Or, if you have the desire to change your life, but need someone to pray with you, I’d love to hear from you, also.  Share it in the comments, or message me privately if you would prefer.

The magic of the run

It was cold this morning in South Mississippi.  I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, I don’t do cold.  So, getting motivated for this morning’s long run was tough.  I fixed Gary some breakfast and sent him off to ride, then did the morning houskeeping chores, so by the time I hit the trail, it was close to 10 am.  The temps had risen considerably, and I have to say, by the time I started running the weather was close to perfect.

2012 hasn’t started off all that well for me.  Usually, a new year is still bright and shiny at this stage, but somehow, this year has been a little dull and blah.  Nothing major, just nagging concerns about some things in my life, as well as more pressing concerns about some of the people that I love.  Life is tough, and there are those in my life who are struggling with huge life issues: illness, death of a spouse, infidelity, divorce, work worries, and bad relationships.  I love being a prayer warrior, but sometimes life seems overwhelming.

So, the run this morning had the potential to be just another run.  Another thing checked off my never ending to do list.  But, it wasn’t.  I’ve mentioned that I’m training for a half marathon the first weekend of March.  I’m really looking forward to it, and signed up for it with the intention of training for a PR.  After NYC, my knee was an issue, so I’ve taken some extra time to work on it, and as a result, I let the half slip up on me.  Just a month ago, March seemed like a long time away, now suddenly, it’s almost here.  So, I dug out my training plan, counted backwards to the week I was on, and set off.  The trouble was, I’m not quite ready for that intensity yet.  This morning’s run brought clarity to my training and reminded me what my focus for this year is:  to lose that nagging 25 pounds that I’ve put on the back burner for the last couple of years.  So, I’ve revised my training to be much more manageable, while pushing me toward my weight goal.  That means the Seaside half will most likely not be a PR, but, so what?  There will be another race later this year and I’ll fix my sights on that one for a PR.

What brought the clarity?  What helped banish the blahs that have floated around me like a persistant odor for the past several weeks?  Was it the run?  No, not really.  It was the time spent alone with God.  Listening to His word spoken to me by one of my favorite pastors. This week’s podcast was on “Just one thing…”  Focusing on the one thing in our lives that we really need to change in order to be the person that God wants us to be.  Now, for me there are several, but the message brought much needed clarity and focus to the plans I have for the year.  Listen to it, I won’t try to rewrite it here.

I challenge you to find your “one thing” this year.  Pray about it, search your Bible for answers about it, meditate on it with God as your leader.  Don’t let anything distract you from your journey.

3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down.”  Nehemiah 6:3a 

This morning on Long Leaf Trace

There’s really no magic in a run.  The “magic” is in the time spent listening to God speak.  It just so happens that, for me, that usually happens on a run.  It’s why I run alone.

January Blahs

I’m by nature a joyful person.  I’m obnoxiously upbeat, always see the silver lining, my cup is half full, I bathe in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, my grass grows on the green side of the fence.  But, I’ll admit it.  I have the January Blahs.  

I thought this was a phenomena unique to me, but apparently, the world at large suffers from it as well.  Something to do with the frenzy of the holidays, then the back to reality slap that the first of January brings.  

I’ve been holding mine at bay for the last few days, but it set in with a vengeance today.  At first, I wasn’t sure why, but I think I’ve put my finger on the nose of the problem.  I need to run.  I need some long, soul cleansing, mind blowing, sweat inducing runs.  Lucky for me, I have a half marathon to train for.

I took some extra time off after the marathon to baby my knee.   The knee is better, I still think my problem stems from my ITB tightness, so I’m working on strengthening my quads and foam rolling like a crazy woman.  I hate strength training, by the way.  But, it seems I’ll have to grit my teeth and bear it if I intend to run for life.  And, I do.  

A minor illness sidelined me this week for a couple of days, after hitting the ground running last week.  It made me anxious and mildly depressed.  I don’t have a lot of mood lifters besides running, so I’ve been trying some different things this week to try to break out of the rut.  I’ve cleaned out part of my closet without showing any mercy.  I’m even going through my shoes!  I have a LOT of organizing to do this month.  Hopefully, I’ll get it all done and have a major rummage sale that you’re all invited to.  I’ve been listening to contemporary Christian music almost exclusively, and I’m in that state that Paul refers to as “constant prayer.”   And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Ephesians 6:18

Not being able to run this week has made me especially thankful that I CAN run.  I think of so many of my friends and family who don’t have that option and it makes me more determined than ever to run as long as God allows me to do so.  As I have prayed, I’ve been humbly thankful that God has brought this joyful activity into my life, and even given me the grace to love it.  

Looking forward to Sunday’s long run.  Goodbye January Blahs!