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Archive for May, 2011

One Step At A Time

As many of you know, I ran my first 10k today. And I’m pleased to report that I did it in 1:09:54. I didn’t break any records – but I had an amazing time. And before I go too much farther, a HUGE thank you to all the volunteers who helped make the day possible, and congratulations to everyone who ran today. You (we) did it!

It was an incredible experience. My day started at 4:15am, with an alarm reminder that it was race day. Jack (my cat) and I got up, plodded downstairs, and had breakfast and a quick cup of coffee. I walked through my garden a couple of times, reminded myself why I was doing this (again), and went back upstairs. A quick shower, a high ponytail, and a few yoga poses later, I was ready to roll!

My wonderful husband got up shortly thereafter and we went to the venue. Don’t get me wrong, I fully expected a crowd. But holy SMOKES! There were thousands of people there! And the energy in the air was amazing. I met up with my sister (who continues to inspire me by running the 1/2 marathon) and my friend (whom I was grateful to see and looking forward to running with) and continued to marvel at the fact that I was actually doing this. But before I had much more time to sit and ponder, it was time to go.

The run itself was really good. Energy, positivity, and good vibes were coming from all sides. Not to mention some incredibly inspiring and motivational athletes around me. I felt pretty good, and even ran the entire distance. And 10k and blur of time later, I crossed the finish line at 1:14:18.

Did I beat a personal best time? No. Did I win the race? Haha – not even close. But did I meet and exceed a very important personal goal, while having a great time, on a beautifully sunny day? Absolutely.

Six months of hard work, training, and perseverance really paid off today. And most importantly, I was fortunate enough to remind myself that I can do anything that I put my mind to.

One step at a time.

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Comfortable Chaos

I am a perpetually neat person. A place for everything… and everything, I REPEAT, EVERYTHING is in its place. I find that the world just turns a bit smoother when things are where they should be and are in the spot where I last left ’em. Not only does this speed up the cleaning/tidying process that has to happen every now and then, but it makes me a faster and more efficient person because I am not spending 1/2 my time looking for things.

BUT. And yes, it’s a big one… Everyone has a weak spot. Right? Well, I certainly do. And while my desk at work is, at times, a close second, I find my comfortable chaos in my sock drawer.

That’s right, folks. My sock drawer is a nightmarish mumbo-jumbo mess of mismatched, un-paired, inside out socks. Some tall, some short, some dress, and most sport – they are all just in there. As a matter of fact, I take great pleasure, while folding and neatly arranging all my other laundry, in pulling open the drawer and launching sock after sock haphazardly into the open drawer from all the way across the room. It’s great fun! It feels very liberating and it makes me smile every time.

I call it my comfortable chaos. It’s a place where it really doesn’t matter if it’s straight or orderly. To be honest, most days, it doesn’t even really matter what’s in there at all. I know that I can dip in, and within a few pulls, find a matching pair. And I think there really is something to be said for having a spot or two in your life where you can allow yourself some freedom (creative or otherwise) that clashes and opposes what you do on a regular basis. It lets you ‘let your hair down’ a bit, relax a bit, and hopefully, lets you smile an extra bit.

Everyone needs some comfortable chaos in their life. Go and find yours 🙂

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A Gentle Reminder

I can hardly believe it – but in five short days I’ll be running my first ever 10k race. And right on time, my pre-race jitters begun to set in.

As I posted back in January when my adventure began – “I am running this race for me, to say that “I did ” it…I will finish the race, I will acknowledge what participating in the race mans to me, and I will be proud that I have made the full circle of being back to being ME.”

In the last few months, the more I trained, the more this goal became lost to me. I slowly started to love running in a way I never thought I would. I got fitter, faster, healthier. My stamina improved and my form improved. And I began to think of running the race as more of an actual race and less of a personal life accomplishment. I began to worry more about time goals and race goals, and remember less about the real ‘why’ I was doing this.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had a few setbacks. I am experiencing runner’s growth (the term I’ve coined for when your body realizes that you aren’t quitting anytime soon and throws up resistance in the forms of aches and pains) in both my hips, and most recently, my knee. These little issues allowed my negative inner critic and my doubting self-image to creep in and gain some footholds. I started worrying that if I wasn’t going to meet or exceed my time goals, I shouldn’t bother.

Lucky for me, I have an incredible support system of people around me. That support system has been working overtime to encourage me and remind me, gently and often, of the reasons why I’m running. There is a song by Melissa Etheridge that I sometimes listen to when I run, called ‘I Run for Life’. And although I am so blessed that the premise of the song (surviving cancer) doesn’t apply to me, the very basest level of the words do:

I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for life

It is a beautiful song and an incredible reminder that I have been on a journey for the last six months, which although it began with the goal of a race, it is not going to end after the race is run. Thank you to those who believe in me. I will run this race and I will make you all proud.

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Miles in Their Mocassins

I had an unpleasant experience at ball the other night (I play slo-pitch) and it got me thinking about passing judgement. I was up to bat and I hit a liner into center field. As I headed to first base, I wasn’t running full speed (I hurt my knee training for my upcoming run and I wasn’t about to make it any worse last night) but I wasn’t dilly-dallying, either. The next thing I knew, the man playing center field for the other team attempted (unsuccessfully) to throw me out.

I was upset – mostly because I’ve seen people get hit with throws like these and it does not end well, but also because I think that recreational slo-pitch is just that; recreational. If you want to be ultra-competitive, go play in the big leagues.  At any rate, an inning later, I became even angrier with the situation when I heard the fellow chatting with his teammates – “I only tried to throw her out because she wasn’t even trying to run to first base”.

WOAH. Last I checked, this man didn’t know anything about me, my physical condition, or my running speed and/or capability. He certainly was in no position to pass judgement on why I wasn’t running as fast as he deemed acceptable.

A day later, this experience got me thinking about how quick we all can be to pass judgement on those around us, without any knowledge about them, and in far more important and hurtful situations. Although there are countless instances of this, the one that springs immediately to mind is how quick we can be to judge the homeless. Many people assume them to be drug addicts or drunks who just can’t get it together. But in some instances, this isn’t true. In some instances, the people who frequent homeless shelters have jobs, but the pay is not enough for them to live the lives that most of us consider ‘normal’. In other instances, these people used to be gainfully employed and enjoyed a so-called ‘normal’ life, but they have since lost their jobs and are now doing what they can just to find a warm bed to sleep in at night. Imagine how it would feel to be in this situation, and to know that people are walking around condemning you when you are doing the best you can? The last thing these people need is the burden of additional and unwarranted judgement.

I am reminded of the quote from Atticus Finch, in To Kill A Mockingbird –  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  This is one of life’s little truths that we would all do well to remember. Whether we are on a ball diamond, walking around downtown, or just noticing people in any everyday situation,  we should all stop to think before passing judgement on someone else’s life.

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I have a friend at work who recently inspired me to listen to my iTunes on shuffle. After a few songs, I found something I enjoyed and I said ‘Ok, I’m turning off shuffle now – I want to listen to this band for awhile’. He told me no, and in fact, he said I needed to go with the flow – that was the point of the shuffle.  I found it to be a challenge… Afterall, by personal definition, I am a creature of habit. But after a while, I found myself having a lot of fun!

Normally, I listen to one of my pre-defined playlists or favorite artists. But that afternoon, I found myself re-discovering songs and artists I love but hadn’t listened to in ages, and feeling inspired by incredible melodies that I had forgotten all about. I felt calm, refreshed, and energized.

I started to think about how great it would be to put my life on shuffle. Too often, I find myself doing the same thing, at the same time, in much the way. I get up, follow the same routine, do the same job, complete the same chores, and go to bed… And it all happens in much the same way, at much the same time, on a daily basis. It’s as though my life is a pre-defined playlist, and every morning I turn it on and run it through until the last song ends and I call it a day.

Don’t get me wrong – to a certain extent, this can’t be helped. As a contributing member of society, there are certain things that have to happen on a regular basis (like getting out of bed on time, doing the job I was hired to do, and meeting and keeping existing commitments and responsibilities). But what about everything else? What if I ‘shuffled’ it up a bit? Got up at a different time and watched the sun rise? Took a walk at lunch hour and went a different route? Tried a food I’d never had before? Did something different at work, or approached the same task from a different angle? Went to bed later or earlier? Had a longer run along a different route? Tried a new yoga pose? Read a brand new author?

There are a million little ways I can think of to change things up. To be honest, the thought of them all makes me smile.

I think I’ll try putting my life on shuffle and work on going with the flow. I can’t wait to see what comes up in my playlist next.

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