Archive for April, 2012

Motivation Vacation

Posted on April 27, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This week has been tough.  I think my motivation took a vacation and I’ve been finding it hard to get out of bed each morning to run.  It seems that the momentum leading into our race last week, plus some unexpected stress (an oxymoron, I think) took its toll on my self-discipline.  Such is life.

To insure that I don’t have another week like this one, I’ve had to remind myself of some of the reasons I really do enjoy getting my butt out of bed and onto the pavement or in to the gym:

  1. Stars.  I love to run before dawn and stare at the stars.  They have been more visible in some places I’ve lived than others, but no matter where I am I inevitably run with my face up.  An added bonus in the summer is fireflies, which are like fallen stars.
  2. Peace.  Another reason I love to run before dawn.  Few cars.  Occasional fellow runners.  The time and space to get my head together.
  3. More food, less guilt.  Not that I’ve ever missed a meal.  Trust me.  I am blessed with a high metabolism (for which my sister hates me) so I eat a lot anyway.  But if I can get a pizza in guilt free, then what the hay?
  4. Bathing suit season.  Need I say more?
  5. I have triceps?  By gum, I do!  I found them just recently hidden somewhere under a layer of skin.  I would hate to lose them again.  It was a long, bloody battle to find them in the first place.

Only five reasons, one for each week day, but there are many more.  On weekends I bike, which means I get to go downhill really fast.  That’s always worth getting up for.

I’d love to hear from the rest of you.  What keeps you motivated when life wants to crash your training party?

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A Girl on Track

Posted on April 20, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I am blessed to be involved with a life-changing organization.  Girls on the Run© is an empowerment program for girls in 3rd through 8th grade.  Its purpose is to show girls that they don’t have to conform to the stereotypes society would impose upon them. They don’t have to give in to pressure—from family, their peers, society.  They can choose to be themselves, they can choose to be strong.

They can choose.

You would think by the name that this is a running program.  It’s not. Our mission has a much greater scope than to teach girls how to run.  They’re kids. They already know how, even if they don’t yet know it, even if they choose not to.

But running, as runners know, is a great tool.  Once you learn that you can do it—that you can reach what seem like impossible goals and that your body can do remarkable things—you learn that you can do anything.

You develop confidence.  A healthy respect for your body.

I have been blessed to see this becoming (I sometimes don’t really know what else to call it) in many girls, and I have seen the struggle to become in many others.  The becoming is beautiful.  The struggle is agonizing.  I have been watching it in one particular girl this season.

“Eloise” was one of mine 3 seasons ago, when I was her coach in Girls on Track, the program for 6th through 8th graders.  You can see in her eyes that she has greatness in her. She is smart, creative, strong. And you can see in the twist of her lips and the tilt of her head the pull from her peers to be something she is not.  Dumb.  Aloof.  Too cool to participate, especially when the boys hang around.

Her coaches this season tell me of the ongoing battle of wills between them and her.  She skips the lessons, ignores the coaches, smirks defiantly.  They tell her that they want her there but, as with most things, it is her choice to participate or not.  Sometimes she chooses not.

But a curious girl, this Eloise. For all her defiance and playing at aloofness, for all her hiding out behind playground equipment and around corners, she keeps showing up.  This is, in fact, her third season.  And more than anything else she chooses to do or not do, she chooses to run.

Our season ends with a 5K race. The girls train for it during their 10 to 12 weeks of learning to be ok with themselves, and, we hope, learning that they are an important and irreplaceable piece in the puzzle of the world.  Many of them do not believe when the season begins that they have it in them to run that far.  All of them who come, finish.

In December, Eloise showed up to our 5K race.  To get to the starting line, I recently discovered, she walked, alone, 2.42 miles, from her home.  I know this, because when I found out, I mapped it.

Our spring season 5K is on Saturday, April 21.  The battle of wills between Eloise and her coaches wages on.  I think, however, that running will win, and Eloise will be there again.  I believe that running gives her a glimmer of her potential.  I’ve seen her face when she runs.  All the tension disappears and is replaced with determination, joy.

I don’t know for sure if this is how she feels, but if she shows up, I will ask her.  I want her to know, again, that she’s on the right track.

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Posted on April 13, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This week I hit two milestones:

1.            I finally reached my sprint goal.  (Yay!)

2.            I officially registered for the June sprint tri.

I’ve been working toward my sprint goal for a good couple of months.  I was so happy when I reached it this week that I almost pulled a George Jetson and flew backwards off the treadmill.  Thank goodness for railings.

Not only was I ecstatic because I actually reached my goal, I was—and am—ecstatic because attaining my goal means I get to set a new one.  A bigger one.  A more challenging one.

Which is why I am doing the sprint tri.  I’ve said that this will be my third tri.  It will actually be my third and a half.  I was so nervous the first time around that my friend and I entered as a two (wo)man team.  The tri was called A Little Sand in Your Shoe, and it was on the beach in Guam.

I had to swim from Tumon Bay out to a sand bar and back, bury a ball in the sand, then run down the beach to tag my teammate. She had to ride her bike through the jungle (one participant got lost—I think I got the good end of the deal), run back down the beach, and dig up the ball I had buried.

Except that I was so caught up in the event that I didn’t mark the location of our ball well enough, and my teammate couldn’t find it.  We came in 2nd place for the 2-man team anyway.  It didn’t matter that there were only two teams.  I was hooked.

As I was thinking about that race this week, I recalled the reason I entered it in the first place.  It was a challenge.  A fun way to see how far I could push myself, see what my body could do.  Only I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to do it alone, and I was fortunate to have a friend in the same boat.  Funny how often we end up hanging out with people who are so like us.

That got me to thinking about the reason I set out to do two sprint tris on my own.  My motivation for them, as it turns out, was not so uplifting.  Each of the two tris were like bookends containing a a heavy life load.  The collapse of a marriage.  Sickness. Death.  I needed something to hold on to, something of my own. I needed to know that I could rely on myself—and I needed to preoccupy my mind and my time.  At this point in life, I was figuring out how to do that without self-destructing.

Turns out that running—competing in tris and half marathons and other races—is good therapy.  It shows you what you’re made of.  It gives you confidence and peace. At least it does for me.

This time, my third full sprint tri, I am back to where I started in Tumon Bay—almost. I set this particular goal not to dull any pain or preoccupy my mind.  I am blessed.  Life is, after all, really good.  I set this goal to challenge myself, and to have fun.  But now I have the confidence to rely on my own abilities, whether I succeed or fail.

I may know who I am, but races always surprise me.  I get to learn more about what I’m made of.  And that’s a goal worth achieving.

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Sink or Swim

Posted on April 6, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

For as long as I can remember, I have been able to swim. I have no memory of not being near water, having grown up on a lake in Michigan and spending long summer days on or in the water until my lips turned blue and my fingers shriveled into prunes.

Even as an adult, I get to water as often as I can. I dive and snorkel and sail and most of the time would really rather be under water than just about anywhere else.  It’s so much more peaceful.

So you’d think that I would look forward to the swim leg of the sprint tri I’m doing in June, especially since it’s in open water.

Not so.

Even though I learned how to swim at practically the same time I learned how to walk, apparently I didn’t learn right.  Correct form?  What’s that? I simply jumped in the water and off I went.

The closest thing to training I ever had was at age 12 in Girl Scout camp.  Not freestyle, but sidestroke. Even now, the counselor’s words help keep my rhythm:   Pick an apple, put it in the basket.  Pick an apple, put it in the basket.  If I could make a pie for every bushel of apples I’ve picked I could have opened my own bakery by now.

Freestyle, however, the stroke most conducive to tri competition, is the worm in my apple.  I have watched countless swimmers glide gracefully through the water and have wondered how they can make it look so easy.  When I try, I’m worn out before I finish a couple of laps.  I feel like a wounded duck flailing around in the pool.

After two sprint triathlons and I won’t say how many years, it finally occurred to me that maybe I should take a lesson.  I did recently figure out, after all, that it’s probably a good thing to ask for help when you need it.

So a few days ago, I took my first swim lesson.  I spent most of the hour kicking myself.  Why on earth hadn’t I done this before?  In just one hour my stroke improved so tremendously that I was actually gliding through the water like a swan. And you know what? It was easy.

I came away from my lesson with a laundry list of things I was doing wrong.  More important, I now know how to correct them.  I can’t wait to get back in the water.  I think I’ll be swimming once again until my lips turn blue and my fingers shrivel into plums.

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