There is a song I remember singing in church as a kid.
“It only takes a spark to get a fire going. And soon all those around can warm up in it’s glowing.”
I’m not sure why out of all the songs we sang this one stuck with me, but it did.
I’ve been humming it recently because I have been feeling a spark again. A spark of fire. A spark of motivation. A spark to do more. I am not sure where it is coming from, but I like it. I am feeding the low flame to keep it from burning out. I think it is easier to snuff out the flame of motivation then to get the flame burning brightly. I miss the fire. I miss the motivation.
This 30 day challenge has been very helpful. Some days I will take forever to get motivated to get into the garage aka home gym, but once I’m there I never regret it. I also realize that one thing that I often do is going in flaming hot and then burn out. Push too hard. Do too much. Don’t pace myself and make it unsustainable.
There is no reason to do any of that. The goal is to keep moving. I am not training for anything.
The summer before my surgery left me Hypopara I ran the NYC Half in the Spring 1:58:59 for a pace of 9:04. I ran a local 5K in the summer in 26:26 with a pace of 8:30. Then just weeks before my surgery I ran the NYC Marathon in 4:56 with pace of 11:18 and while that may not seem stellar that was due to not running a smart race. I literally, figuralively, and realistically was at my physical peak in 2016. I was ready to chase that 4;15 marathon. I had unlimited energy. There was no stopping me………. or so I thought.
We all know the expression, Nothing is impossible. One it’s face everyone wants to cheer it but really it’s not true. Some things are impossible. Some goals will never be reached not for lack of will but due to reality. We have to create goals that are within reach. If I were to set a goal to PR a race right now, I realistically would not be able to reach it. But if I were to set a goal to finish a race (if there were such a thing as live events), then that would be in reach. So in life it isn’t so much as failing at our goals, but setting goals that our realistically attainable. Just because goals are attainable does not mean that that you don’t need to work and work hard to reach them.
In thinking of where I want to go with my fitness goals, I think I need to readjust how I am setting them. I’ve been focusing on pace with my running but I think at this time I need to think about training by heart rate for a while. From there I will then be able to determine what realistic goals I can set with my running. Until then I will just learn more about heart rate training. In working with weights if I tried to lift weights like I did in my Crossfit days, I would injure myself. Why would I think it would be any different with running.
So here is to living in reality and working with what you’ve got. I’ve got a lot to work with mostly my ability to keep plugging along and not give up. So I will just keep plugging along.
It is a weird world right now. It is a strange and hard time right now. Even those of us getting by and staying healthy are adjusting to all the changes in our day to day lives right now. We are trying to keep it as normal as we can when there is no normal. There is just getting by.
This is the time of year many of us would start thinking about goals for the New Year. Things we hope to accomplish. Races we want to race. Distances we want to conquer. PR we want to set. As with everything in 2020, goals will be harder to set. More challenging and sadly in some cases unattainable for now.
We do not know what 2021 will bring, but we do know that all the bad juju of 2020 will not be wiped away at the stroke of midnight New Year’s Eve. I really feel that it will end much better, but it will have a bumpy beginning.
Normally I set goals. Never resolutions because I just don’t like them. I set goals. Some easily attainable. Some that need a lot of work but are still attainable. Then there are the goals that are a stretch. Goals that I have to work my ass off to reach and push myself to get there.
A few years ago, I set a goal to run a sub 2 Half Marathon. I worked with a coach. I ran often. I ran fast. I trained hard. Then the day came and I ran the NYC half in 1:59. NYRR just announced that this race will not take place next year as it is in early March and the way things are going they know that there 2021 is going to start off much like 2020 has ben all year.
2021 will be different. Simpilier…
I am setting a goal of being more connected. Now those who know me personally might be rolling their eyes and wonder how someone like me could be more connected I could be. My goal to be more connected is not about upping my online connections, but my personal connections. To be more connected to my day to day life. to disconnect a little more often from online world. To focus on the people in my life.
As I work on setting my personal goals, I saw this……
I have been participating in the Sandy Hook Promise 14 Days of Action. This is part of not just remember Sandy Hook but by honoring them by taking part in actual action. So while I think of my personal goals, I will think about some short term goals to help others. This is what I’ve come up with:
Support local small businesses this Holiday season.
Donate regularly to locate food bank
Still working on
Still working on
No matter what we do or don’t do with our goals, we must know that next year might not be the year to make big goals. Then again maybe we need big goals. Right now, I just need to keep trucking on my C25K program and see what happens.
One expected. On unexpected. Both were not meant to be long term commitments although I had no end goal for the walking. I enjoyed it but it was starting to become part of a stressor to get out for a mile than the stress reliever that it was supposed to be. Life got in the way and unless I had planned to go for an 11 PM walk it was not happening. I had contemplated going, but then thought what am I doing this for?
So I called it a day. Time of death Auguest 21rst which is exactly 2 months since I started the 1 mile a day streak. It was supposed to keep me moving through summer and it did. I no longer need this motivation as I have other motivations. I am part of a team of 7 in a fun team competition. I have some virtual events coming up and I am training for the NYC Virtual Marathon. So it is all good.
I will say I give major props to those that are dedicated to keep up a streaking challenge. Come rain, sun, snow or life events off they go to keep the streak alive. I’ve said before that I was never big on streaking (for me) and after doing it for 2 months, I am happy that I did it. I am even happier to be done with it.
As for the Yoga, I really enjoyed the 30 Day with Adriene Challenge. I was committed and every day I tuned into my practice with her. It was just what I needed. Some days I did more. Most days I did no more. As the days progressed, I allowed myself to just realize that yoga was more than just movement but connecting mind to body. It wasn’t necessarily about pushing my body to achieve positions but about coming to the mat. This challenge was good for me.
When I first went to yoga, I attended Hot Yoga. It was about the movement but it was also about feeling like I pushed myself. When I started the 30 day challenge at first I felt like I wasn’t pushing myself enough. That I wasn’t challenging myself enough. That I should be doing more. With some deep breathing and reflection, I realized that I was missing a big part of what yoga can be. It can be about relieving stress without pushing your body to the limit. That small movements over time bring about big changes. That sometimes in life just showing up to the mat is enough.
Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes we just need to show up. We need to show up for our family. We need to show up for our friends. Most of all we need to show up for ourselves. We often forget that last one putting ourselves at the bottom of the list. The saying is true that you can’t pour from an empty cup, yet so often we try to thinking that if only we try harder we can get more out.
Taking the time daily to go for a walk and do a short walk made me take time for myself every day. I needed to not squeeze it in but plan for it. It made me realize that we should be doing more of that in life. We need to not just think that we can keep on pouring without ever taking a sip for ourselves. There is more than enough to share, but we have to make sure to not give it all away.
So with both of these challenges now over, I am going to plan time to continue with both yoga and walking. I will plan these on my terms because it is something that I want to do and not have to do. It will be a way to replenish and find time for myself when during a pandemic when everyone is home ALL the time, I can find space just for me. Some days that will mean alone time. Some days it will mean joining a friend (safely). Most of all it will be about showing up for myself.
Just because something is easier does not mean it is not hard. Nor does it mean that there aren’t challenges, learning curves, or doubt. Just because something is “easier” does not mean anything except that it is different. Besides easier is a relative term that is different for each individual and changes during their lifetime. What was once hard can become easier Just as what was once easy can become hard. It is all relative and ever changing.
There are things we do in life and often think to ourselves does it really matter. Maybe we won’t buy some brands because we don’t like what they support. Maybe we avoid certain establishments for the same reason. That is our freedom. Maybe we think it doesn’t matter if we dust behind the picture frames because who is going to see it. Meanwhile we see lines at the store, people using the products we wont, maybe the dust piles up and wonder does it matter. Does it make a difference, but it does. We would know. We know.
In life, you may fool a lot of people. You might even fool them for a long time, but there is one person you can’t fool and that is yourself. If you cheat on your diet and no one is around, you know you cheated. If you tell everyone you are training, but never actually train; you will know. Some even go so far as to cheat at events crossing finish line. They may even get the bling, but deep down they know they don’t deserve it.
Currently I am beginning my training for the NYC Virtual Marathon. I have decided that I am going to power walk it and I’ve been doing my daily walks. I am still working on the actual training plan and need to mark my calandar with the day that I plan to complete the marathon. This will help tailor my training. I am leaning towards November 1rst as that would be normal date, but not sure.
In talking to my son about this, he was like how will they know you didn’t cheat. So we talked about it. I told him that I’m sure just like other events that there will be people who don’t complete the race the way intended. That would be on them. For me though, I will know if I don’t do what I set out to do which is to complete a marathon. Others can worry about themselves because I will know that I did what needed to be done.
In life that is all you can ask of yourself because what you do in private is even more important that what you do in public. It is even more important to stay true to yourself, your beliefs and your honor even if you are the only one who will know. Especially if you are the only one who will know.
So with that I begin my training of a marathon that I said I didn’t want to run. I wasn’t lying because this time I don’t want to run. I’m going to walk and know that just because some may think this is easier, it is still going to be hard.
Often people get trapped in a rip current without realizing it. If you don’t look for the signs you can be caught up in one before you even know how it happened. Once in many think the only way out is to keep pushing and swim through it. Swimming against the current. They push and they push until exhaustion sets in. It’s only when calmness sets in do they often realize that the best way to escape the current is to not to try to swim against it but parallel to it until you get out of it. Once out, you can swim back to shore.
The secret is remaining calm. It is to think about what is happening. It is about accessing the situation and it is about finding a way out. Up until recently I have been doing the same thing with my running. I have been going against what my body needed. What my body wanted. I had been pushing and pushing and not paying attentions to the signs or the way out. I have finally found the edge of the rip current I have been fighting and now am comfortably able to swim to shore.
All this time, I kept thinking of it as giving up. That I was taking the easy way out. I didn’t realize that I was taking on water and pushing myself to brink of exhaustion because I refused to truly listen to the signs. Just like you need to respect a rip current, you need to respect the limitations of your body. It’s about learning to swim with the current instead of against it. Most of all it is about knowing if you want a different outcome, you need to change what your are doing. You need to be willing to look at ways to do the same thing over and over again. You need to be willing to float with the tide.
As you know I’ve been continuing on my 30 days of Yoga with Adriene. The other day in practice she gave a mantra that really struck me.
Allow…. Release… Let Go
Seems easy enough, but is oh so hard in life. Often we hold onto things that no longer serve us, but we can’t seem to let go. Continuing to push when we should pull. Holding on when we need to let go. When we finally…. allow…. release…. let go; we wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.
As I’ve continued on my walking, I realize that for now this is serving me. I can go longer distances. I can go daily. It doesn’t drain me. I can go faster that I thought and further this way. I can and will train for a marathon. For me, it is better to be able to continue to keep going forward to achieve new goals than it is how I get there because sometimes if you don’t find your way out of the current you could end up exhausted to the point of giving up. I’m not one to give up but I am no longer fighting the current.
Hindsight is 2020 they say. Although after this year, we might need to come up with a new expression because no one wants to remember 2020 but I digress. It is always so much easier to second guess something after the fact. To pick it apart. To dissect. To play the could of, should of, would of game. Never helpful.
I will be honest as you know I always am…… As a runner, I always felt like walking was cheating. Now hear me out, I walked plenty. Currently, I am not even running but walking every day. What I really mean is that I wasn’t a good enough runner. There was not one of my 7 marathons that I did not walk during. Some I intentionally trained with walking in mind. That being said, somehow I felt like I wasn’t a real runner because runners don’t walk even if me as a runner did. Somehow it meant that I didn’t measure up, that I was less of a runner, that I should be better because while I could go the distance, I couldn’t go just running.
My goal besides a 4:30 marathon was to run a marathon where I ran the whole thing. Somehow that would make me more of a “real runner.” I probably would have made both those goals one day but you know the whole Hypoparathyroidism thing.
While I know rationally I know that I was/am a runner. I just always felt like I should have and could have been better. That I wasn’t living up to my potential. Here is the thing…. I probably wasn’t. There is something about the distance of a marathon that gets in your head. I trained and ran NYC Half a sub 2 hour with no problem. It was hard. I pushed myself. I crossed the finish line smiling. Add 13 miles and it is a whole different beast not just physically but mentally.
Each marathon my head was the biggest obstacle.
First Marathon, Philly 2014, was a fluke. I had been training for Runner’s World Hat Trick (5k & 10K one day, next day Half) and rolled into Philly on a whim after one 20 miler. I didn’t know what I was doing. It was hard. I didn’t overthink. I finished 4:46:20. If I had pushed, I could have been under 4:45
Next up was Marine Corps Marathon. This one I trained with a good coach. I was ready right up until I wasn’t. GI issues that I didn’t push through led me to my marathon PR of 4:38:14. This should have been my day, but mentally I didn’t want it enough to make it happen. I always thought I’d have another day.
Then a trail marathon which I rolled into but loved doing. Probably because there is no pressure or expectations that you are going to run the whole thing. Plus trail races are a whole different vibe and expectations are very different.
2016 was supposed to be my year. Although I had a bump in my training due to a sprained ankle, I still was mostly ready. I could definitely go the distance because I had finished a 50K that year right before marathon training, I ran my sub 2 half, and I ran my 5K PR of 26:26. I was ready to both go the distance and the pace. Right up until I wasn’t. I went out running strong the first half like there was no second half. Once I hit the wall, it was a struggle to keep going but I did. Finishing in 4:56.
After that my thyroid surgery and that called it a day for my 4:30 marathon time. My goals since has just been to go the distance, don’t crash my calcium and cross the finish line. Consistently, my races time wise have been going the opposite of every runners dream…..
2017 Chicago Marathon: 5:48:52
2018 NYC Marathon: 6:10:13
2019 NYC Marathon: 6:20:41
Some might see these as failures. I don’t. I see them as perseverance. The year after my surgery, when I was being treated by the wrong doctor I was actually able to run decent paces. Although it was much harder to keep up for longer distances. The issue was that I was taking too much calcium which while good for things like running, it was bad long term for things like kidneys. So, you know, trade off was not very smart. Although at the time I did not know that even if my doctor should have which is why he is no longer my doctor.
So here we are now, where I am living in the low calcium range but saving kidneys. In hindsight now I feel like I wasted my before hypopara runs and maybe I did, but there is nothing to be done now. I can only look to the future and learn from the past to plot my course. I’ve been thinking a lot about goals. Goals for now and long term since, you know, there is a lot of time to think right now. This post is already too long to get into. Plus I am still forming, plotting, and kind of waiting for the world to be safe again.
Right now, I feel that the best way I can be a runner is not to run. I am giving my body the break it needs. As I said before I have been walking a minimum of a mile a day since June 21, but usually more. Other day I walked 6.25 at a brisk pace around 16:10. Shorter distances I pick it up honing in on my speed walking. I am embracing walking. I am embracing learning to cut myself some slack and know I am enough just like I am. I am embracing what ever I do… walk, run, and anything in between is enough.
I realize that when it comes to my running, like most of us, I am harder on myself than anyone else. I also realize that while I may have medical issues, my biggest issue has always been my head. (shocking). That voice telling me I can’t do it with a self fulfilling prophesy so that I don’t. So with this step back, I am learning to trust my body. I am learning what inner voice to listen to and what voice to tell to shut up. I am learning to be ok with not pushing but also not going easy. Finding the middle ground I so often miss.
It is so easy to get discouraged when we do not reach goals we think we should reach. It is easy to make excuses for why things are the way they are. It is easy to pack it in and call it a day. What is not easy is sticking around when things don’t pan out the way you want. Learning to roll up the hill instead of down. To make lemonade out of lemons. To just be and be happy with that.
Sometimes when you look at the reality of why things are the way they are, you have to just let it go. You realize that you can’t change how they turned out. You not only have to accept it, but move on from it even if it means letting go. Letting go of guilt. Letting go of missed opportunities. Letting go of all that is and has held you back. In life sometimes you realize what you once thought an important is no longer important to you. Most of all learn from it. Sometimes we have to do it over and over and over again because we did not learn the lesson we needed to learn the first time
I tease my Mother that she is not a spring chicken anymore. Truth of the matter is at 73 that she has more strength, endurance and will to push herself than most people half her age. Some days even me.
She has fire.
My mother is inspiring for many reasons. I would bet that she has no idea how many people in how many different ways are inspired by her. By her love of family. By her faith. By the way she lives her life. By the way she sees the best in people. By the way she lives her life. Like many, here life has not always been easy and it’s not my story to tell but through it all she has never given up and kept moving forward.
That is how she got running.
Moving forward. Starting with one step at a time. Starting with walking. Then walking and running. Then setting small goals turning into bigger goals and sticking to it even when it didn’t work out. She is primed and ready for us to run her first 5K and she knows it won’t be any time soon now. So rather than put her shoes away, she made a new goal.
She decided she wanted to run 5 miles. Then she did.
Then she ran 7 miles by mistake the first time but has since done it again and again.
My mother calls me her coach although she doesn’t always listen. She sometimes does her own thing without telling me till it’s too late, but that is a different story. While that may be true, I am impressed with her stamina to keep pushing herself. I give her lots of advice…. Make sure she stretches. Make sure she rests. Make sure she pays attention to time on her feet and recovery. Lots of advice that she listens to 80% of the time.
Right now I am actually trying to reign her in because although she is doing great, I do worry that she is going to injure herself as she jumped her miles too quickly (not my advice) and her longer runs can be almost 2 hours.
I need to pay attention to the advice that I give her too. Although it is always so much easier to give advice than take it.
Anyway today on National Running Day, I wanted to celebrate a new member to the running tribe…. My Mom.
There is no test to take to be a runner. There is no pace required to be a runner. There is no distance required to be a runner. No races that need to be run. The only thing required is that you run and YES… she runs. So I herby decree that she is the Accidentally Running Grandma:)
You know the sh*t is serious when they start cancelling races. Big races. Little races. All races. It usually takes an act of God for that to happen. We are apparently there now.
Not shocking but somewhat since it’s a month away my Birthday Half Marathon is cancelled. I am proud of these race organizers from NYRR to those organizing Boston Marathon for making these tough decisions. While I know people are disappointed, it’s really just running. It’s not life or death which is really what’s going on in the real world now.
Right now the real world is scary. You can’t even escape to Disney World anymore because that is closed (not that I was going). Go to a Broadway Show. The show is not going on, so nope. Can’t watch any sporting event (not that I would) because they are all cancelled. Can’t run a race because that’s cancelled too. You know what though….. None of that matters.
What matters in life is how you face disappointments. How you deal with the world when the world is spinning out of control like it is right now. And again, what is important is not just your health but the health of your loved ones friends, and neighbors.
For me, I’m still running. I’m still going to follow my training plan. I’m still preparing to run a half marathon that I won’t actually run, but I could. For me this race was going to be a fun birthday run, but it was also a way for me to get back to running. I don’t need to cross a finish line to do that. All I need is to go out the door and run.
So I will continue to do what I’ve been doing. I will get my runs in. I will follow the plan. I will do what I need to do for no other reason than that is what I want to do. Isn’t that the reason I was doing this in the first place. So even without crossing the finish line, it seems like I’ve already accomplished what I set out to do.
Find my joy in running again:)
So while the world is going crazy looking for toilet paper and hand sanitizer and everything is out of your control, remember that what is in your control is how you respond. When you realize that, you realize that none of the other stuff matters because what happens in life even on a good day is never in your control. So you just have to roll with it and make the best of it and if you can’t do that just accept it. Once you can do that everything else will fall into place.
If getting off the couch was easy, everyone would do it. But sometimes, sometimes, sometimes it’s just so damn hard to get off the couch. The couch is comfy. The couch is safe. The couch doesn’t disappoint. Most of all the couch is what we know. The couch is easy, safe and comfy. Although that is a lie too. The couch isn’t easy, it’s just what we are used to..
Sometimes though it’s not just about physically getting off the couch, but getting mentally off the couch too. These things usually go hand in hand. Sometimes you can go through the motions, but your mind just isn’t with you. Motivation isn’t always there as much as you want it to be. As much as you will it to be. The lie your mind tells yourself that it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you go for a run. It doesn’t matter if you stay. Nothing matters. So why bother.
What we do in life matters.
How we show up in life matters.
I will say that for someone who has struggled in the past, I do know that how easy it is to listen to the voice that tells you it doesn’t matter. It comes to you as a friend. It comes to you as a reason for your struggles. It comes to you wrapped in lies, but sounding so truthful. That voice is a lie. That voice is wrong. That voice needs to be told to shut the (blank) up.
Easier said than done sometimes.
Taking that first step off the couch in life is hard, but the first of anything in hard. Once up, you can see the sun shining. You can feel the wind on your face. You can see the buds on the trees. You can see that all those things that told you to stay put, hide your head, and listen to the lies was just that…… lies.
It’s funny, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten a few new followers recently. I’ve got over 300 followers now. Although truth be told, I would bet that maybe, just maybe, on a good post 5 to 10 people actually read it. It’s ok, I don’t blame you because we all have busy, complicated lives. Truth be told, I often write for me as like running it clears the mind. I’m not sure that what I say is filled with any wisdom or helpful to anyone but me, but I write anyway. For those who followed thinking they would get expert running advise, I’m sure they realized they came to the wrong blog. Yet here we are. You, me and maybe 2 other people. It’s ok, it’s like meeting a friend for coffee except I’m still in my PJ’s with unkempt hair and slippers.
So often in life we focus on the wrong things and don’t even realize it. At the time, they seem important and at the time they are, but then something happens in our lives to change that focus. We focus on the size of our jeans, how fast we can finish a race, following our diets, and so many things that seem like the right thing to focus on……. Right up until we put our glasses on and what is really important comes into foucs.
We should be focusing on things like….. How do I feel in these jeans? Did I fully enjoy the experience of the race to it’s fullest? Am I happy with the outcome and if not, why? Is what we our putting into our mouth nourishing our body and mind and do we full good about it?
Sometimes you are on the right path. Sometimes the path is expected. Most often we end up on a path that we never thought we would be on. The path is hard. The path is not where you expected to be, yet you are there. You can stomp your feet and fight tooth and nail that you don’t belong on that path, but that changes nothing. You can do everything right, but still end up in places that you never thought that you would be.
That is life.
There are no guarantees.
There are no promises.
There is only what is and the acceptance of it.
Fighting to be on a different path will not change the trajectory of the path you are on. The only way through is to forge ahead. To face the bumps, the bruises, and the obstacles that fall into your path. Only then can you get to the other side and from there you can choose a new path to follow.
So to bring this back to my running………
I’ve hit some bumps in my training for my birthday half marathon (yes, that is what I am calling it from now on). In the whole scheme of things, my training has come to the bottom of my to due list and I am ok with that.
So with that, I have been running but not necessarily to train but because it is what I needed to clear my mind. I will get there in April as ready as I will be and I’m ok with that. Besides, I’ve got time and I will be as ready as I will be and no more. My goal for the day is to enjoy the day and I’m happy to report that it’s turning into a party as I’ve got some running mama friends joining in too! This is why I fell in love with running….. Because of the peace of mind it gave me and the strong friendships bonded over the miles.