Significant Milestone = Time for Reflection

Though not exactly a resolution, on January 1, 2015, I set a goal.  It was somewhat far fetched, and would require equal parts persistence, sacrifice, grit and luck.  As I reached this goal on Saturday, with about three weeks to spare, it sent me into a state of reflection.

The goal that I achieved is running 1,000 miles.  Even though I ran every step, it’s difficult to wrap my mind around that distance.  That’s like running from Wisconsin to Florida, from Georgia to Rhode Island, or Southern California to Oregon.

Getting there didn’t happen quickly or easily.  And it’s actually quite similar to the broader journey to health and weight loss.  It was accomplished through many small steps adding up to one larger journey.  Each small step taken alone seems rather insignificant, but when chained together, produces something meaningful.

As coincidence would have it, the seeds that grew into the beginning of those small steps were planted four years ago Saturday.  That was the day that my “before” picture was taken, as we headed out to a Christmas party.

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Before (Dec. 2011)  – During (2012) – Now (Dec. 2015)

As we got ready for that same Christmas party this year, I couldn’t help but think of the changes that I occurred in my life and my family’s life over the past four years.  The external changes, while obviously easy to see, only show a small portion of the story.  The internal and interpersonal changes, however, are much more meaningful.

As noted by a physician after losing weight, my health benchmarks have all improved.  Additionally, I’m now able to enjoy activities with family and friends in ways that I previously wouldn’t have been nearly as quick to embrace.  As a family, we enjoy skiing, swimming, running, playing tennis (and much more!) with friends and extended family.  And thus these relationships have also benefited.

At the end of the day, strong relationships are what make a healthy and active lifestyle truly sweet.  A most sincere thank you my friends and family who have stood by my side and helped me to achieve this 2015 goal.  xoxo

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From Getting High… to Getting a Runner’s High

Whether you’re a runner or non-runner, I encourage you to take a minute to read this article. The high schoolers featured in this story made a commitment that was both physically and mentally difficult, and they accomplished an amazing feat this past Sunday.  The teachers who created and administer this program have likely changed the course of these kids’ lives forever.  Congratulations all around!

Click Link:  From High to a Half Marathon

Quite Possibly the Funniest Running Race Poster

During a marathon relay this morning with some friends, I passed this couple.   I’ve seen many-a-cheerleading-sign while running races these last couple of years, but this wins the prize!  It necessitated me back pedaling, finding my phone and snapping this pic.

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The man, who was obviously a good sport, admitted he was cold. Temps were in the 40s… BRRRRRR!

And doing my part to help keep him covered, I ran away as fast as I could!

3 Years and 13.1 Miles Later

Three years ago this weekend, I walked in a 5K.  A group from our neighborhood went to the event, with several of the friends participating in the half marathon.  I speed-walked the 5K.  It was challenging.  I finished, but I walked as fast as I could and didn’t have much of anything left to give by the end.

Three years ago (2nd from left):

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This past weekend, a small group from our neighborhood made a return trip to this same race.  This time, however, I ran the half marathon.

Same beach, this year:

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The race is completely confined to a state park containing tall trees, beautiful beaches and cold waters still filled with mini-icebergs.  The hills were challenging, but empowering.  With about a quarter of a mile before the end, we rounded a bend and caught sight of the finish line.

Unexpectedly, my eyes welled up and I burst into tears.  The woman running next to me, thinking I was faltering, turned to me with encouragement.  “You’ve got this!  You can do it!”  Indeed I could.  I wasn’t faltering.  My tears were from the realization that three years ago, I was standing in that very place watching and cheering for others.  I was on the sideline.  Now I’m in the game.

Wherever you find yourself today or wherever you’re hoping to go, take small steps in that direction.  Before you know it, you’ll look back and be surprised by how far you’ve come!  You CAN do it!

 

 

To the New Girl in Exercise Class this Morning

YOU GO, GIRL!

Starting or trying a new type of exercise can be intimidating. Before going to the running store for the first time to be fitted for running shoes, I had a great deal of anxiety. It took me several days to get up the courage to walk in. When I began yoga, I “needed” a friend to come with me to help alleviate some of the feelings of inadequacy.

Little did I know, however, that the rest of the community of runners and the room of full of yogis weren’t there to judge my performance and I wasn’t there to make them feel superior. All of them were quietly cheering me on and willing me to succeed, and to join their seemingly exclusive club.

It turns out that seemingly exclusive club isn’t that exclusive after all. It only takes is a desire to join and commitment to try your best. So when you receive a smile or kind gesture from someone in a class or a passerby on the route, that’s our way of saying, “We’re glad you’re here. Keep up the good work.” And even if you don’t catch a smile or gesture, know that we’re ALL cheering you on the inside!

As for the lady who was in yoga class this morning, I don’t even know her name, but I asked if we could take a picture for my blog. Hopefully that didn’t scare her off. The exercise community is always looking for new members and showing up is often the hardest part!

Related reading: The next step can be sticking with an exercise until it’s to the point that you start to like it, as written about in “Do You Really Like Running?”

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Inspiring & Uplifting

Those are the two words I would choose to describe my day yesterday.  Yesterday was the 5K run / walk to celebrate the end of the fall season for our local chapter of Girls on the Run.  As luck would have it, I was the Race Director for the event.

For those who aren’t familiar with the organization, it’s a nation-wide not-for-profit with local councils that are started by interested communities.  Girls on the Run has a goal to inspire third through eighth grade girls to be “joyful, healthy and confident.”  There is a curriculum that works towards that end, and is delivered through physically active games and running.  The season culminates with a celebratory, non-competitive 5K that is open to the community (men, women, boys and girls of all ages and abilities).  After months of planning with an amazing committee of talented women, yesterday was the big day!

In total, there were nearly 500 runners and even more spectators cheering on the participants.  For many of (including my younger son), it was their first 5K.  To help alleviate some fear of many first time runners, there was a pack of WonderGirls and WonderBoys who signed up for the race and pledged to finish last… yes, last… so no other race participant would finish last.

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As the crowd of runners took off from the starting line and wound their way out onto the course, it was remarkable to see the wide array of ages and abilities of those who have been motivated to become (or stay) physically active.  It was a reminder to me that no matter where you are at… young, old, fast, slow, able or disabled… there is always room to move forward.

(For the record, if I had to pick a third word, it would be “exhausting.”)

“Do you really like running”?

I get asked this question often.  In the beginning, my answer was “No.  It’s hard and I don’t enjoy it.  But it’s a personal challenge and I just want to run one 5k.”  Towards the end of the Couch to 5k (C25K) program, my answer became, “I like having run,” followed by a giggle.  (The truth usually is pretty funny.)  After finishing the C25K program and a few weeks into the 10K Trainer program, the answer surprisingly became, “Yes!  I like running.  A lot.”

Running is my “me” time.  It’s how I clear my head, organize my priorities and challenge body.  It energizes the remainder of my day.  The bonus is that it gives me a little wiggle room in my weight maintenance journey.  (While I was actively losing weight, walking and running played a large role in helping me meet my goals.)

If you’re wanting to start your own Couch to 5K journey, here’s where to start:

1.  Check out the various C25K programs available.  There are many online ones that you can print out, as well as many free smartphone apps.  (I used C25K Free, by Zen Labs.)  The general premiss of a C25K program is to do intervals of walking and running.  The walking intervals eventually become shorter and the running intervals become longer, but it happens at a manageable pace.  The app queues you at the appropriate time to begin walking or running, and each session is usually between 30 and 40 minutes.  You’re even able to listen to your favorite music playlist or app (i.e. Pandora, Spotify, etc.) over the top of the C25K app.

2.  Invest in a pair of running shoes that are right for your feet.  The best way to do this is to be fitted at a local running store (not a big box sporting goods store).  You’ll probably be offered ‘aftermarket’ insoles as an add-on.  The advice that my physical therapist gave to me that I’ll pass on to you is to invest in a good pair of running shoes and skip the aftermarket insoles, unless you have a foot condition that necessitates using them.  (If in doubt, of course, ask your physician for advice.)

3.  Only run three days per week, no more.  The C25K programs that I’ve seen are broken down into weeks, with each week having three days of running.  You may find the earlier runs to be easy and think that it would be fun to check those  off faster.  Don’t.  Especially when you’re new to running, your body is going to need time to adjust and your muscles are going to need time to heal.  If you’re eager to log more miles, try walking on the off-days.

Here’s a picture with two friends and their little ones.  One of us dislikes running, but is determined.  One of us is enjoying having run.  And one of us loves running.  (Two are just along for the ride!)

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If you’re thinking about walking or running a 5k, you’re in luck!  You have just enough time to complete your own C25K program before the many Thanksgiving “turkey trots” that take place around the country.  Gobble, gobble!