As children we found ways to protect ourselves from vulnerability, from being hurt, diminished, and disappointed. We put on armor; we used our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as weapons; and we learned how to make ourselves scarce, even to disappear. Now as adults we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection – to be the person whom we long to be – we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapons, show up, and let ourselves be seen ~ Brene Brown
A month ago I met with a running coach for a stride/gait/arm analysis. On the drive to our meeting spot, I was filled with nerves. I was showing up to be observed. In a lot of ways, I had first date jitters. I am guilty of not always feeling confident about my running ability. I’ve hidden behind phrases such as Oh I’m not fast and I run slow as a way to protect myself. It’s easier to hide behind being slow than it is to boldly attack being fast. Would he think I was good enough to be a “runner”? As I got out of the car to introduce myself, I realized there was only one way this meeting would be successful. I had to be me. I had to run my run. I could meet with him and tell him all about my “slow” marathon, I could try to run out of my comfort zone so maybe he would think I am “fast”, but none of these scenarios would give me the end result I wanted. I want fine tuning of my running. I want growth in my running. I had to risk being slow and not good enough and every other possible form of feedback I had created in my head, so I could learn to be better.
Yes, we are totally exposed when we are vulnerable. Yes, we are in the torture chamber that we call uncertainty. And, yes, we’re taking a huge emotional risk when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. But there is no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness. ~Brene Brown
I’ve now worked with my coach for five running sessions. I still get nervous on the drive to the run, but being observed and getting feedback really isn’t so scary. Being open and willing to learn has given me comfort and confidence in my running. These runs have become my favorite run of the week.
In so many ways it feels like I’ve let go of the leash that has been keeping me restricted. It’s nice to run free. I’ve quit relying on a garmin to tell me how I’m doing (I haven’t even replaced my broken garmin. I’ve just been borrowing my husbands to track mileage since I don’t know how to take it off biking mode). I’ve let go of having a training plan written on paper. Instead I’m focusing on my hips, my arms, coiling, etc. I’m running by feel. At the end of a run, it is much more satisfying to finish feeling strong than it is to look for a number on a watch.
Having a running coach has given me all the same things I love about practicing in a yoga studio versus practicing at home. I love practicing at home, but there is something special about being in a class with the right teacher. The simple touch of someone else can give space to your spine. It can allow you to breathe deeper into a pose. It brings attention to things I can’t observe – a wrinkled forehead, tense shoulders, twisting from the wrong place in my hips. Running with a coach has also allowed me to be so much more aware of my body – tucking my chest, relaxing the muscles in my butt, pulling my hips back. Being aware of all these small changes dramatically change how my body feels. This entire process has really allowed me to relax and let my runs come to me.
Running always hand delivers life lessons to me.When the things you do and the life you live constantly overlap each other, it’s a good indicator you’re heading in the right direction. I’m embracing this new path both in running and in living – a little less structured, a little less defined, more shining, and less shying away from feedback. I’m letting go of my leash.
Three years ago today I married my husband. I knew from the moment I saw him for the first time that I would spend the rest of my life with him. I got out of my car, met him at the doors to the Mexican restaurant, and literally fell into his arms. He went to shake my hand. I had to hug him. When he wrapped his arms around me, everything melted away. His touch peeled away every stress, every ounce of sadness, every regret, and every ounce of blame I carried around with me. His hug gave me permission to forgive myself.
I believe with my whole heart that life can’t be lived from a loving place until you forgive yourself for all the silly nonsense in life. Life can’t be lived until you embrace yourself for who you are – the good along side of the “bad”. Christian’s love has given me this gift.
You must love in such a way that the person you love feel free. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Christian’s love has set me free. His hugs still make my body melt. My shoulders, my chest, and my brain all become a puddle when I’m in his arms. He removes every ounce of stress I carry around with me.
Today, on our anniversary, I also got an email from my running coach. It outlines the philosophy behind how he trains his runners and his plans for me over the summer and into marathon training for Richmond. It is intense. It scares the crap out of me. It also makes me so excited for my journey.
Another whole hearted belief I carry around me with is about goal setting. I love goals. I also think goals should scare the crap out of you. If you don’t get butterflies in your stomach and if your hands don’t start to sweat a little when putting your goals on paper, dream bigger. The biggest rewards come from having the courage to travel down the road towards a goal that makes you want to pee your pants!
(Seriously try it! If all your dreams came true, “X” would happen. Now what do you need to do to get there. For me that creates butterflies. I may or may not actually achieve “X”, but the journey is going to take me to exactly where I belong.)
It’s not going to be easy. I’m going to have to work my ass off to make it happen. I also know I’m going to love every second (even the tough days) of this journey. This new training plan and my coach’s willingness to work with me have me dreaming even bigger than I could possibly imagine.
May 1st will always be a day that fills me to my brim with love. It is a reminder that true love for yourself and a genuine pure love from your partner in life are the only things needed in. Christian’s love for me gives me a space in life to dream big. His love for me allows me to walk (or perhaps run) down my life path. Our commitment to each other is what allows us to commit to the world. I could never say yes to an insane training plan if I didn’t have his love.
While I’m committing to lots and lots of running, I have to make sure I commit to loving first. I have to make sure Christian is my top priority because without him everything else falls flat. I have to remember to squeeze out every second of the day with my boys, so mama guilt doesn’t take over when I’m running again. My whole hearted beliefs have to start with my family. I love my husband. I love the life we are creating together. Running reminds me of this every single time I put on my running shoes.
Intentional Loving. Intentional Living. Intentional Running. This year I am going big!
Early last winter I got a phone call from my friend Lindsay who lives in Nashville. She had signed up for her first half-marathon. And then she asked…would I want to come in town and run with her. Of course! Lindsay and I met when I lived in Nashville. I interviewed with her for a job at a pharmaceutical company. When I started working there, we instantly became best friends. In the short amount of time we worked together (and lived in the same town together), we created a friendship that will last a lifetime. We spent many weekends laughing together, drinking too many drinks together, traveling to Thailand together, riding elephants together, and so much more (Yes! Thailand and Elephants!). She’s helped me through boy trouble and cheered me on when I met Christian. She helped me through my insecurities about being in a relationship so soon after moving. She not only loved that side of me, but she was one of the few friends who also embraced my life as a mother. She would hang out at my house (game show network and wine cure anything!) and play all day with Cole. To say I was honored when she asked me to run with her is an understatement.
Friday morning I flew to Nashville. Lindsay and her fiance David picked up Cole and I at the airport. We had lunch, hit up the expo, played around downtown (okay – we really just went to a candy store), stocked up on some last-minute race essentials, and then dropped Cole off at his dad’s house. We filled up on a yummy dinner (made by David) and went to bed early. Race morning showed up early.
We woke up at 4:45am to heavy rain. We kept checking the weather forecast. Weather.com said 0% chance of rain in the 8 and 9 o’clock hour. Maybe we wouldn’t get soaked after all (They lied!). The rain progressively got worse as we drove to the start line. When we arrived at Centennial Park, the grounds were soaked. Puddles filled the streets. It was going to be a fun sloppy wet run. Lindsay and I lined up in our corral. It was cold. I tried to keep talking to keep race day nerves from getting the best of her. The race was about to officially start…
The race began with a moment of silence for Boston. Runners were all given a Run Now bracelet for Boston. Every one raised their arms in support. The running community is pretty magical. It’s home. By now everyone has heard stories of the spirit that exists within the running world. This was such a wonderful reminder. After the Star Spangled Banner, corral 1 was off. 13 corrals back, we waited our turn. One of Lindsay’s friends and coworker joined us. We chatted about pacing strategy. Both Lindsay and Tana like to start fast. I was going to do my best to keep them from starting too fast. The course was also going to do it’s best to make us start slow.
Nashville is hilly. The course was hilly. I run at sea level in a beach town. The only “hills” I run are a few 25 foot bridge crossings. Before the race Lindsay and David had prepped me for the course. The first 6 miles were all uphill. I was nervous. Lindsay’s best training run was run at a 9:40 pace. Based on that, we decided to start the first 6 miles (the hills) in the upper 9s. We could then speed up and enjoy the down hills.
Mile 1: 10:03
Mile 2: 9:40
Mile 3: 10:06
Mile 4: 9:58
Mile 5: 9:59
Mile 6: 9:12
The first few climbs weren’t bad. I could handle these hills. I had some strategies tucked away in my brain from my running coach. I focused on using them during each climb. In the 3rd mile, we ran a hill passed the brand new convention center. This was one of the toughest hills for me. It had a steeper incline, but luckily it didn’t last long.
When we hit mile 6, I felt myself get teary. I had survived the hills. I was so proud of myself. I felt strong. I felt like I could help Lindsay run a race she would be proud of when she crossed the finish line. More than anything, I wanted this race to belong to her. I wanted her to enjoy every moment. I wanted her to soak up the magic of race day. I wanted to carry her as much as I could so she could take it all in.
We all took an inventory of how everyone was feeling at mile 6. Everyone was hanging in there so we kept going. What Lindsay and David didn’t tell me was that a long 2 mile climb was waiting for me. It was a slow steady incline. I had mentally checked out of hills. I had celebrated them being behind me. I had to change back into hill running mode. Lindsay told me it would be smooth sailing once we hit Wedgewood. I was counting the blocks. My ass was on fire. I lowered my eyes. I quit looking for the end of the hill. I just followed the feet in front of me.
When we crossed the 10k mark, I asked Lindsay what her best case scenario goal was for the day. She was hoping for 2:10. With a 1:01 10k, I knew we were doing okay to meet her goal. We just had to keep going.
Mile 7: 9:37
Mile 8: 9:24
When we got to the end of that climb, my body screamed thank you. Having no real experience running hills, I had no idea how rewarding it would be to reach the top. It was tough getting there, but the relief in every muscle of my body was so worth the climb.
Mile 9: 9:12
Mile 10: 9:09
Mile 11: 9:14
At mile 10, I asked Lindsay if she wanted to know about our pace. She wasn’t wearing a watch. Based on the math I was doing in my head (which isn’t always reliable when I run), I guessed that we’d finish around 2:07. I think I told her 2:08 in case I was off. I didn’t want her disappointed.
My run felt amazing at this point. I was taking in all of Nashville. Even though the rain never let up (in fact it progressively got worse as the day continued), the puddles became fun. My shoes were soaked so there was no point in try to avoid the puddles. Lindsay and Tana were both still running strong. Lindsay and Tana have run together after work. I have never run with Lindsay, yet somehow all 3 of us found a magical groove running together. We alternated taking the lead. We all worked so well running together. I felt like I was running my run while they were running their own runs. We were all in sync pushing each other along. So many times along the course I thought to myself that it was so wonderful to have two people running beside me knowing we were all helping each other.
Mile 12: 9:31
Mile 13: 9:28
Surprise! There was a nice little (or really big) hill waiting for me at the end. This hill got me. Lindsay was running so strong at this point. Tana and I were hanging on. I really wanted Lindsay to run her own run. I wasn’t sure the muscles in my butt would let me get up that last hill. They were on fire. Lindsay was a few strides ahead of me, and I told her to go. I wanted her to finish strong for herself. Just making it up that last hill would be such an accomplishment for me. I didn’t want her waiting. She turned around and said “I am holding your hand at the finish line.” She didn’t slow down so I only had one option. I had to catch up. In the back of my head I remembered a conversation I had with my running coach. It’s easier to run fast up a hill. My body wanted me to stop running at this point, but I found another gear. I caught up. Tana stayed right with me too. When I caught up to her, I laughed. As much as my ass hated those hills, I loved every second of them. We crossed mile 13 knowing we were had run a great run.
Last .26 (garmin distance): 8:05 pace
We all held hands as we crossed the finish line. It was such a wonderful run. It was amazing to run beside my best friend during her first half-marathon. It was wonderful to find strength running with two other runners. I surprised myself with my ability to get up and over those hills. It was a perfect run! And I got to cross the finish line with Lindsay during her first half-marathon!
Official Race Time: 2:05:31
A new official PR by over 9 minutes, and an unofficial PR by 2 minutes. (on the hardest course I’ve ever run!).
Thank you Lindsay for inviting me to run with you! (read Lindsay’s race report here).
Race Review – Loved the course. Even with the rain and clouds, the views were wonderful. It’s designed for a fast finish (even with the surprise last hill). I relied on water stops this race. The had plenty of water (tons of tables at each stop). My only complaint (and it’s not really a complaint) is that the course was really crowded the entire race. We did a ton of weaving and never found a pocket where we could just run. The marathon and half-marathon run the same course for the first 11 miles. Between the two races, I think it sells out at 30,000 runners. Almost 18,000 people ran the half and 2700 ran the full. Lots of people stayed home because of the weather. I can’t imagine sharing the road with 10,000 more runners!)
It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about breast-feeding (or had any Chet updates). The transition on the blog is very much a reflection of our transitions in life. I’ve gone from monthly pregnancy updates, to weekly pregnancy updates, to a birth story, to weekly baby updates, to monthly baby updates, to now. Now we are just on the life journey. He’s growing up. Life isn’t being measure by weeks or months any more. It’s being measured by stages. It’s punctuated by events and development.
Our breast-feeding story wasn’t an easy journey. He latched on moments after he was born. He was such an aggressive nurser. It was his comfort spot. He nursed all day and all night. If you read my blog over a year ago, you know the struggles I had: cracked nipples, bleeding. My husband and my parents were so supportive. I don’t think I could have stuck with it if Christian wouldn’t have reassured me with his eyes every time Chet latched on and I cried. I cried every time he woke up and I knew he would want to eat for nearly the first eight weeks of his life. My parents brought over every form of comfort they could find at the drug store. I also don’t think I could have ever quit. I believe with all my heart breast milk is the best option for babies. Breast milk is one of nature’s miracles (read an amazing article here). My body creates everything my baby needs in the moment he needs it. That bond, the connection, the importance of establishing the nutritional and developmental foundation for his entire life means the world to me. For me, formula was never an option.
Chet and I found our groove. My body healed. His body flourished.
When I returned to work, I pumped three times a day. It then transitioned to two times a day. Chet learned to accept a bottle. With pumping and less actually nursing, my period returned. Chet would always refuse to nurse around my period. My milk supply slowed down, but we kept moving forward. I probably over stressed and over thought a lot of my nursing issues: was I making enough milk? was I drinking enough water to keep up my supply? was my running impacting my production? did I have enough fat? was he ready to wean? if I stayed at home would I have these worries? The more I worried, the more I tried to remind myself to trust my body. It truly does know what it needs and it will meet the demands of my baby.
Around Chet’s first birthday, he started to refuse the bottle at my mom’s house. He didn’t want a bottle. His nursing also cut back drastically. I went from nursing on demand (the method I used his whole life) to nursing when he woke up in the morning, after nap times, before bed, and middle of the night feedings. He was still waking up to nurse one or two times a night. He never showed any interest in nursing outside those times. In the weeks following his birthday, nursing slowly fell off. He no longer wanted to nurse after nap time. He then started sleeping through the night. Middle of the night nursing disappeared. Once he started sleeping through the night, he no longer wanted to sit in his chair in his room to nurse in the morning. The only nursing that remains is before bed.
This is where we are today. I nurse Chet once a day before bedtime. He only nurses for a minute or two before he is squirming away to grab his passy and moocow. Last night, for the first time in almost a year, I wasn’t home for bedtime. I went for a run and stopped to pick up dinner on my way home. Chet was ready for bed before I got there, so Christian tackled his bedtime routine. Chet went to bed without a whimper. I thought he might wake up missing me. He didn’t. This weekend I will be out of town. Chet will be home with Christian for three bedtimes without me. Three more nights of not nursing this weekend has me wondering if he will want to go back to nursing at all next Monday. I don’t think I will sit down in our nursing chair Monday night. I think I will put him to bed, and I will follow his lead. Will he miss his nursing?
The idea of it all being over has me feeling every emotion. I’m proud that I made it nearly 16 months nursing my baby. I’m sad that it could all be over when I had every intention of nursing into his toddler years. This is just another milestone in his development. It’s another baby layer being shed as he evolves into a little boy. I’m excited to regain my body. I’m excited to have hormones that are only supporting my body. It is also hard to watch him grow up. I miss my itty bitty baby, but I adore my new toddler.
I choose nursing because I know it’s best for my baby. I choose it for him, but it gave me back so much more than I expected. It gave me quiet time with my baby. It gave me moments in a day with a very active baby that slowed down. It taught me to hold on to the things I believe in. The tears and the blood were worth it. Following his lead for the past 16 months has taught me to trust. It showed me that letting go is the best option always. Worry and stress only produce worry and stress. Feeling my way through this process (and every process in life) is the best way for me to travel through life.
Our finish line is right around the corner. Thursday night may be my last night nursing. It could also be weeks away. Chet could surprise me and it could be months away. Either way, the end of our nursing journey is approaching. Like every finish line, tears are streaming down my face. I’m proud. I’m happy. I’m excited. I’m sad it’s all behind us. I also know that this finish line marks a start line for our next journey.
What an amazing journey………
(If you are starting down the road of nursing, I wish I had visited with a lactation consultant outside the hospital. If we have another baby, I will invite one to our home week 1 of the baby’s life. I also wish I took more photos – even when crying. I have so few of me nursing him and it was such a special time for me over the past 16 months).
April 20th was my Aunt Amy’s birthday. She would have been 46 years old. I miss her. I didn’t call enough. I didn’t visit enough when she was alive. Even though there wasn’t enough, she was always there. She was always a phone call away. She was always there to share a laugh or reassure my doubts. She was always there to remind me to enjoy this life of mine. I miss here being there. The day before her birthday, my Aunt Beth, her sister, posted a simple request on Facebook:
So, tomorrow is a big day….it’s Amy’s birthday — she would have been 46. Also, my friend’s daughter Cameron would have been 12 tomorrow (Cameron was killed a year ago December in a freak car accident. I ran into the accident down the street from my house, ironically, on my way to meet Amy and the rest of the family for dinner). AND…it’s Earth Day. So, if you can…..Have some Starbucks for Amy (or toast her with your morning coffee), do an act of kindness for Cameron (this is her family’s wish), and plant something in their honor for Earth Day (or do something good for the earth). It’s a lot — but it’s all good! Love to you all during this crazy week xo
As I drove to my morning run, I turned on Paolo Nutini. I sang along and I cried. The first half of my run was heavy. There was a horrible head wind I was fighting. I ran from the beach to a favorite trail. Before I turned around to head home, I stopped to say Happy Birthday to Amy. I finished the run feeling light. I remembered how to run. After my run, I treated myself to an iced coffee. As I stood in line, an adorable young couple got in line behind me. They had to be in their late teens. They were happy and light and still giggly and in love. I decided to buy their coffee.
I turned around to tell them I was paying for their purchase. They insisted I didn’t have to, but when I told them why they both gave me the best hug. The young girl then told me her uncle passed away last night.
The sadness in our world can be overwhelming. The news can stop us in our tracks and keep us captivated for hours. We can try to understand why bad things happen to our country, to our families, and to those who mean the most to us. No one should leave our world at the age of 46 before her boys have grown up. No one should run a marathon to learn that their child died while waiting to cheer him on. Young love shouldn’t be interrupted by the realness of life. A life shouldn’t end before one even knows how amazing it feels to fall in love.
I think my Aunt Beth has a better idea. I like her challenge to spread love. Don’t waste your energy wondering why. Don’t get consumed by the sad. Take the love that you have for life and share it with the world.
Connect. Embrace. Liberate. Love somebody. Just one person. And then spread that to two. And as many as you can. You’ll see the difference it makes. ~Oprah
After my marathon residue wore off, I had one goal in mind. I wanted to run my next marathon feeling strong. I wanted to run my next marathon focused. I wanted a purposeful run. I wanted a faster run, not for the time on the clock or the pace on my watch, but for me. Perhaps this is what I need in my life just as much as I want it in my running.
Focus. Strength. Purpose.
One of my co-workers asked me why I wanted to get faster the other day. I didn’t know how to respond. I just do. As I digested his question, I realized that wanting to get faster in running is no different than wanting to progress in life. A golfer hopes to hit the ball further with more accuracy (I think? I don’t golf!). A chef hopes to create a wonderful new dish with new flavors and a wonderful balance. A student hopes to learn more and to produce quality work. Wanting to run faster and wanting to be a more successful runner is all about becoming a better me.
In order to run faster, I know I need more intentional running. I need to let go of the comfort runs that have monopolized my weekly schedule and my long runs. It is time to push.
When you set an intention for yourself, it finds you. I have said those words so many times this year.
A friend from the years I lived in Cuba emailed me. He offered to contact a running coach with a seriously impressive resume he knows in the area to ask about speed workouts (seriously impressive – he coaches a runner who ran in the 2012 Olympic trials. He coaches women who all run sub 3 marathons). The coach emailed me. We chatted, and he offered to meet me for a gait/arm analysis. On Wednesday I meet him. I ran 8 miles while he biked beside me. The feedback I received was amazing. Right now I’m working on my arm positioning and intentionally pushing off with my foot. I also like to lead with my hips. I need to pull my pelvic back. My upper body is too rigid. There was good feedback too, but right now I want to absorb everything I can learn. I want fine tuning. This running coach has a wealth of knowledge. The information he shared seems like common sense yet I had never thought about any of it.
When he offered to work with me, I didn’t have to think twice. There are some things in life you should just say yes too. I’m going to start working with him on a scaled back version through the summer and then jump in full force for training for the Richmond Marathon. I’ve got big things planned for myself. I’ve got big dreams. I don’t expect my new coach to work miracles, but I know it will bring the focus, strength and purpose to my runs. I know he will help bring out the best in me.
How I run is either a reflection of where I am at in my life or it spills over into every aspect of my life. I’m not sure which one is correct. Either one, running is always a reflection of my living. Intentional running means intentional living for me. Run with focus, strength and purpose means living with focus, strength and purpose.
This journey always amazes me…
Running a marathon in a big city you've never been to is never an easy task, going alone is even harder. Last year I qualified for Boston for the first time at the New Orleans Rock n' Roll Marathon. It wasn't until November that I decided I should sign up for Boston when I knew that this might be my only chance to run a marathoners dream run before I moved back overseas with my Fiance where the military would inevitably keep me far away from the east coast.