Time to Breathe

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it. ~Sidney J. Harris

I’m kind of an all-or-nothing person when it comes to getting things done. I’ll be extremely motivated, and push thru. Or I’ll get so overwhelmed with everything I know I NEED to do, that I shut down and do nothing. 

When it comes to running, when I’m in a good groove, I’m more of the former. I feel like I can’t miss a day. That I can’t take a break. Every time I take a day off I feel guilty. I think a lot of it comes from my fear of falling back down. Of failing. I don’t want that. I need to keep it going. 

Yesterday, I knew I just needed a break. I took a second job fairly recently, and I had to work all day. I could have fit a run in before working, without even needing to get out there at 5 am, but I knew I needed some “me” time, not on my feet. I needed some time to recharge. So I took the morning, enjoyed my coffee, and did absolutely nothing. And I was ok. 

Now this is where I admit that I didn’t completely take the day off. I had a rough few days and things were getting to me. So after work, I laced up my tennis shoes and went for that much needed run. But this one was all about me. And taking time with my thoughts and clearing my head. I took the break when I needed it, but went for a run when I knew I needed that. Had I missed a run all together yesterday, that would have been perfectly ok.  

I think no matter what life throws at us, no matter what we are tackling at any given moment, it’s so important to take those breaks. To take time to relax and just be, and be ok with it. Tomorrow is a new day, and we’ll be better off for it.

  

Going Solo… or not

I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs. ~Jesse Owens

One of things I like about running, is you can make of it what you need. Some run in groups, some have a running partner, and some go solo. Some run for fun, some to clear their head, and some run to race. It’s different for everybody. And maybe even different for some people depending on the day.

After I had quit running the last time, I used to think “If only I had a running partner to keep me accountable”. But it was just an excuse. I’m really pretty good at making those. I was hoping to turn my daughter into a running partner, maybe she would then see the benefit in getting out there and running. I talked her into joining me for my first 5k in May. We ended walking almost the entire way. When we finished, they were handing out flyers for another 5k in a few weeks, and I asked her if she’d come with me. She said “You can run, and I’ll come cheer you on.” She has since been my strongest supporter and cheerleader.

As I mentioned previously, I realized that I had only myself to live for. I had to do it for me, and only me. I don’t need someone on the roads with me, running every day, or even to race with. I enjoy being able to spend time with my own thoughts, to concentrate on my run, and not have to worry about matching pace with someone else. Especially for someone with asthma, I really need to focus on my breathing and run whatever pace is comfortable for me that day.

But I gotta say, having cheerleaders is just as cool as a running partner, if not more so. Yes, there’s been times she hasn’t been able to attend a race with me, but I know she’s still cheering. And if she can, she’s up with me at the crack of dawn to cheer me on in person. But it’s not just the racing. She encourages me to get out and run when I have so many other things to do. And steps up to help make sure everything gets done at home. So yes, although I may be going solo in the sense that I have no one by my side during a race, I’m far from alone.

So, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You, K! And yes, I know I have others cheering me on at every opportunity, and I appreciate each and every one of you more than you know.

From the Fourth of July 8k… my first farther-than-5k race, with two of my biggest cheerleaders, my daughter and my mom.

Running for a Purpose

The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test the limits of the human heart.

Sometimes I can be a bit spontaneous. I tend to get a bug up my butt, so to speak, and jump at opportunities without much thought. I had been toying with the idea of training for something bigger. Working towards a larger goal than just 5k’s on the weekends. I wanted more, but I wasn’t sure what. I didn’t think I had it in me to run a marathon. But with so many events offering half marathons now, I thought this would be perfect for me. I mean, let’s get real here. 13.1 sounds so much more doable than 26.2!

I have looked at lots of race options. RunDisney (so pricey), Rock ‘n Roll series, Vacation Races (run in/around national parks), and of course the ones local to me in Illinois, among various others. So back in June, I saw the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll race weekend had taken place, and they were offering an early registration discount to sign up for next year. Let me take you back a minute. Christmas 2013, after everything had been completed in court, I treated my daughter to a trip to San Diego. I had been planning a trip for some time, and everything just came together to make the trip that Christmas. We both fell in love, and had a blast! So when I saw that, I felt like it would be the perfect opportunity to get back there. That, and she has her sights set on California for college. So I decided we could go visit some schools, I could run my half, and we’d have a great excuse to return to San Diego.

Which brings me to this post. When I first started running, it was as a means to deal with everything going on. It was me time. Time to clear my head, and get rid of the frustrations in my life. So when I was signing up for the race, there was an option to sign up and fundraise for a charity. Because child abuse hits so close to home, and has significant ties to my own running, I decided to sign up to fundraise. There are so many organizations you can raise funds for, and so many different opportunities out there for runners. I figure if I’m going to run anyway, I would like to give it more meaning, than just my own personal triumph. So with that, I hope you will take a look at my fundraising page, and consider donating to the cause. Child abuse is much too prevalent in today’s society. And I would like to do anything I can to contribute to the cause of raising awareness. Thank you!

Half Marathon Fundraising to Prevent Child Abuse

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When we were in San Diego that Christmas, I met up with a friend I know from online that lives there, and is also a photographer. She took some photos of us at the beach, and this is one of those photos. Thanks so much to Rebecca for giving us these memories!

100 Miles

Way back when my life was flipped upside down and sideways, I was talking to my therapist about my desire to get into running. I had started running once before as a means to help me lose weight, but I got caught up in life and I quit. With everything that was going on, I needed an outlet, and I knew that could help. She talked me into spending money I didn’t really have on a nice pair of running shoes, explaining that it was worth all the happiness and health that those shoes would provide. Little did I know at the time, just how true that statement was.

I bought those shoes. I went to a running store and they recommended a few pair, and I chose the ones that were most comfortable. A pair of Mizuno’s. And I hit the trails. I spent a lot of time in those shoes. They helped me deal with the day-to-day stress and pain. Over the course of the past 4 years, my running has ebbed and flowed. I went through spurts. I was in an awesome groove about 2 years back, when I saw a challenge to log 100 miles in the month of March. I committed. And I succeeded. And I burnt out. It wasn’t long after that, that I stopped running completely. I would go out here and there, just to try finding that place again, but I wasn’t in it. I fell back to old habits. My daughter was back home, and I was complacent, and back to a comfortable place. Then the weight started coming back.

So this year, I decided to take back my life. I had come to a couple realizations. Well, one big one. I had to start living for myself. Yes, since my divorce, I’ve said I was. But in all honesty, my choices still revolved around my daughter. Everything I did was for her. Yes, I was running for myself, but I was also trying to be a good role model, trying to get her interested in personal fitness for herself as well. I found myself falling into old habits, and I wasn’t happy there. I had some new running shoes, and I laced them up and forced myself out the door again.

I approached this new season differently. I started slowly, I no longer forced myself out the door at the crack of dawn. Even though my daughter didn’t join me in my quest, she encouraged me, and helped by cooking dinner many nights, and that was more than I could ask for. I was truly doing this for me. I wanted to feel good about myself again. I made running a chore for a month or more, just something I had to do. Until one day, it hit me that it was no longer a chore, but a choice.  A choice that I wanted to make. And I started enjoying it again. I felt back at home.

Sorry for the novel length of this post, but it IS going somewhere, I promise! So fast forward to July. I met a friend for coffee in June, and found out she had started running also. We have close to the same pace. We both use MapMyRun to track our runs and our progress, and part of the app is you can challenge other runners. So she challenged me for 30 days to see who could log the most miles. Now, I approached this like I had been all my running. Did it motivate me to run on days I may have otherwise skipped? Absolutely! But I wasn’t pushing myself to that point of burnout again. As a side note, I had gone back home (my Mom’s home) over the fourth of July weekend, and wanted to run a race. So I signed up for an 8k in Cedar Rapids. They had a 5k also, but I felt like I needed to push myself. I used to run 5 miles at a time, so I knew I could do it, even though it was forever ago that I had done it last. Well, I ran it, and I survived, and I even felt great after! So with my challenge, and the knowledge that I could log 5 mile runs, I started increasing my mileage and pushing myself further. Sunday was the last day of the challenge. I had already increased my weekend run to 7 miles give or take. And when I saw on Friday that I needed 7.6 miles to hit 100 for the 30 day period, I had to do it. So my 7 mile run became 7.6. And my total for the 30 days was just over 100 miles!

The point of my novel is to say that sometimes accomplishments are more about the approach then the end result. I had no intentions of logging 100 miles in a 30 day period. It just happened. The time was right, I was increasing mileage, and by default, it’s what I did. The first time I did it, I pushed myself to a point I wasn’t ready for. And I paid the price with losing my desire to run. I guess what I’m trying to get at, is sometimes we have to make choices and do what is right for ourselves at the current moment. Just go with the flow. Speaking of which, it’s amazing how much things have improved in the past six months. I think I’ve truly found myself. I’m happy, I’m comfortable, and everything has really been falling into place in ways I never would have dreamed. All it takes is a little faith, hope and patience.

Since I’m me, and have to include a photo, I’m sharing a pic from the other day of my new running shoes. I’m still not sure how much I love them, the jury is still out. And my quote for the day is one of my all time favorite running quotes, and the one that forces me to go when I truly feel like staying home. It has held true for me. Every time.

“The only run I ever regret is the one I didn’t take.”