The Perception of Success

After I finished my twelve mile run on Saturday, I stood in the parking lot listening to my two friends share their stories about training for spring races, and I thought to myself I am so glad I’m not training right now. After a few minutes of stretching and more chatting, I head back out to run some more. I wanted to entertain my friends and teammates as they finished their own long runs. The more I ran with them, the more I thought to myself how happy I was to not be training.

Then it hit me. I am training. I may have laughed out loud when I realized how absurd my “not training”  thoughts were all morning.

My goal race for the season is 8 weeks away.

Last week I ran 28.4 miles, I went to the gym once, and my husband was out of town.

For every workout I complete, I use my favorite colored pens to write in my results on my training plan.

I send an update email to my coach every Monday. We talk about goals and dreams all the time.

I’m doing speed workouts, tempo runs, strength training, and long runs.

I most certainly am training, but as I listened to my friends discuss their own training, I felt relief because I don’t feel like I am.

********

On Tuesday, my Facebook notifications didn’t stop. Awarded the crown of the weekly Lucky Leprechaun for our training team, I was being showered with love from my teammates. Stories of friendship, miles, and teamwork filled my heart to the brim. I was on cloud 9 as I headed out after work to complete my speed workout.

10×800 in my new favorite run spot: the Elizabeth River Trail.

Right away I could feel that my legs didn’t have much to give. The night before I had maxed out on weight in back squats. My glutes and legs were reminding me that they had already worked hard, but I was on cloud 9. I had a team who believed in me. I was going to run fast and hard. By the third interval things weren’t loosing up. They were getting tighter. My body was starting to fight back.

I started to do math. If I completed the whole workout, I’d see another increase in my weekly mileage. If I cut it short, where could I make up the miles?

img_4640
Pause. Process. Proceed. A nice remind along the Elizabeth River Trail

My hips fought back more and more. This is when I stopped. I kicked my ego to the curb, and I cut my workout in half.

********

Last Saturday I ran nearly 18 miles. It wasn’t forced. It was enjoyable. I never felt like I was training.

On Tuesday my team showered me with love and not a single one of them mentioned how fast or slow (depending on your perception) I can run, my PRs, or weekly mileage. No one gave me a high five because I ran ever mile on my training plan. They celebrate my spirit and the spirit of running.

For a long time I chased the race clock. I counted every step of every mile. It worked for a while.

I’m a believer that there are seasons for everything in every aspect of life. I needed that season of race clock chasing as much as I need this season of “not training”, but eventually my season of chasing the race clock came to a dead end. I lost the joy of PRs (or lack there of). I lost my motivation to wake up before dawn to run. Chasing the race clock no longer motivated me.

Success in running has always brought me joy. But when the success was no longer tangible in the form of a PR or a time on I race clock, I began to floundered. Could I run just to enjoy running? How would I stay engaged if I wasn’t chasing a time goal?

The answer has become a simple one. I run to pay it forward. Running and the community and friendships I’ve been given as a result of all my training has become my form of personal records.

********

My goals for this year has nothing to do with race times or any forms of measureable growth. My goal for this year is to wake up. It started as a simple action. I wanted to wake up every morning ready to conquer the day whether that meant a 4am wake up to run repeats before work or to wake up and head into work excited about a new project. It quickly became so much more than a simple action. It brought awareness to how I live. It became an awakening.

As seasons change, our definition and perception of the world must change with it. I love chasing success. Until recently it came in the form of measurable goals. The word success is so often attached to attaining something. But what if success isn’t a destination? What if success isn’t a check in the box? Instead what if success is about creating an invisible ripple in the world that elevates everyone it touches.

This new perception of success is how I know I’m at my personal best. This is the direction I am heading. This is where my running shoes are taking me. 

It’s only February. And I feel like my eyes are wide open!

6e70576e-5f3a-459a-8306-9fabec4aca4f

Cancer Better Run

“The only credential the city asked was the boldness to dream. For those who did, it unlocked its gates and its treasures, not caring who they were or where they came from.” ~Moss Hart

On November 5, 2017, I’m taking my dreams to New York City. Twenty six point two miles through all five boroughs is waiting for me. Truth be told, the New York City Marathon has never been on my bucket list. I’m not a city girl. But when my friend Karen started dreaming during one of her rounds of chemotherapy about how she was not only going to beat cancer but how she was going to help other people beat cancer too, her dream became my dream too.

Through out the course of Karen’s chemotherapy, we shared more miles than we ever had. Cancer slowed her down enough to be my perfect running partner. Together we crushed the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon. With our partner in crime Steve,  Karen and I ran from the Richmond 8k. Chemotherapy on Friday. Race day on Saturday. When Karen started dreaming of running the New York City Marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I knew I needed to be beside her.

10622889_10154026524418240_8866694706650661295_n
Richmond 8k

 

Cancer Better Run was born.

Karen, Steve, (fancy) Karen, and I have teamed up to conquer Cancer and this marathon. Our dreams are big. We have 10 months to raise $14,000 dollars to earn our spot at the start line. We have 10 months to prepare our bodies for 26.2 miles. We have 10 months to celebrate Karen’s fight.

Every single person on our team has been touched by cancer, and Karen has defeated it. The New York City Marathon is so much more than a race. It’s a celebration. It’s a start line. It’s a finish line. Its our way of celebrating life and making a difference.

Training for a marathon is hard. It’s a huge sacrifice of time and energy, but it is always worth it. Fundraising is hard. It’s a huge sacrifice of time and energy, but it is always worth it. Combining both is a guarantee that this year is going to be grueling and exhilarating.

If the quote above is true, the only credential the city asks for is the boldness to dream, then our team, Cancer Better Run, is well on its way to unlocking the gates of New York and our fight against cancer. Treasure is ours to claim.

Please donate to our team page here: Cancer Better Run

14572823_10153910683498240_1461858966020692611_n
Cancer Better Run

Voice

When I started this blog, it scared me. There have been so many posts that I have sent to friends for validation before hitting publish. As my blog has grown, so has my voice. My confidence followed. This space has become safe. It has become my comfort.

Almost too safe. Almost too comfortable.

img_3875-1

I’ve hidden behind my written words, and when it comes time to speak, I feel the same fear I used to feel before I hit publish.

Expressing myself outloud is hard. My friend Amy stated it best. The words get stuck somewhere between my heart and my mouth. When I write, my heart comes out of my fingers but when I speak, it gets stuck.

Last Tuesday I had no other choice but to speak.

Every season our training team gets together to celebrate the spirit of running and life. Running Reflections instantly became a highlight for me last season as I listened to four powerful teammates share their stories of overcoming life. That night I was gifted with a mindset for race day and life.

This season I was asked to speak.

Although I enthusiastically said yes to speaking inside I held tightly to nerves and doubts. What story should I tell? What story is worthy of sharing? Because my heart now speaks through my fingers, I sat down to write. As I explored my doubts, I found the beauty in my story.

“When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.” ~ Brené Brown

My greatest fear on Tuesday night was that when my words left my body through my mouth instead of my fingertips, I’d feel weak. I’d loose control. I was afraid that if I let my story become unstuck from my heart, I’d be forced to face things all over again. Was I really living the silver lining of my story?

15895004_10154890139084710_5428866261554811048_n

As I stood in front of over 100 teammates to share my story, my voice trembled. My nerves came spilling out, and it was okay. Staring back at me was a room full of people who were cheering me on. Through a few trembling sentences, I let the nerves leave my body. Once those nerves left, something magical happened. I relaxed. I felt confident. Over the course of fifteen minutes, I felt myself transforming. I felt light.

It wasn’t a huge transformation. It wasn’t anything I can pinpoint or define. It was just a simple subtle shift of thought. It was a weight off my tired body. It was the next step in my journey.

By the time I finished speaking, I fell in love with my story.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~ Brené Brown

I watched the Facebook Live video of my talk the next day. (It was shared privately with our group, so no I can’t share it). Once again I expected to feel something: regret for parts I left out, embarrassment over my numerous hand gestures, etc.

By the time I finished listening, I fell in love with myself. The tiniest of tiny of shift that took place between the start and the finish of my talk made me feel proud.

I did it.

I quit chasing something that night. Instead of wanting to be, that night after the nerves left my body, I just was.

In that moment, in a room filled with so many loving faces, I knew without a doubt that this was, this is, my life to live. The good, the bad, the ugly, the amazing, the loving, and the simple day to day, I am grateful for every breath of it.

The Year of Waking Up

Every season of life I gravitate towards a new word. I’ve lived them all. Let it go. Rooted. Breathing room. Thrive.  I am strong. And so many more. More often than not my seasons of life are attached to a training cycle. 

Running imitates life. 

Life imitates running. 

As I welcomed the new year, I also welcome a new training cycle. The goals are the same, but I knew I needed a mental change. Chasing sub 2 hours in the half marathon has grown stale. Three years of the same goal supported by a ton of mental growth and maturity (but no PRs) makes the goal less exciting. I’m not chasing numbers anymore. I’m chasing feelings. 

I know when I’ve run a strong race. I don’t need a time clock to validate my effort, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not frustrated with not pushing my potential. 

Now is the time to layer back in consistent training. Now is the time to layer back in the drive and motivation to make my training plan work. I’m notorious for hitting snooze instead of waking up long before sunrise. When I get home from work, life happens. Homework. Dinner. Family. 

I’ve come to recognize the gaps in my training, and while discussing it with my coach this week I mentioned that I needed to find the spark that would get me out of bed in the morning. I needed my word. 

No sooner then I set out to find it, it found me too. In fact I’d argue that I already had it. 

“Awakening is not a thing. It is not a goal, not a concept. It is not something to be attained. It is a metamorphosis. If the caterpillar thinks about the butterfly it is to become, saying ‘And then I shall have wings and antennae,’ there will never be a butterfly. The caterpillar must accept its own disappearance in its transformation. When the marvelous butterfly takes wing, nothing of the caterpillar remains.” ~Alejandro Jodorowsky

All I need to do is wake up and just be. 

As a dream chaser this concept can be hard. Just be. Just wake up and run. Don’t focus on a goal. Just run the day I’m given. It is all I need to do to succeed. 

As a working mom sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is to be 100% committed to a training plan. There are philosophies and approaches that work for everyone in every stage of life. It’s never one size fits all. There is also a difference between making excuse and prioritizing life appropriately. It’s all a delicate balance. 

This year my goal is to make sure I’m throwing my rock in the right direction which means I need to find the right space for my running. If I’m going to push my potential, it’s time to quit hitting snooze on my alarm and on my running. It’s time to wake up. 

#trainjanda. My support system.

Why does this even matter? 

Because running imitates life. 

Life imitates running. 

Waking up is so much more than doing mile repeats in the dark. Waking up is an enhanced form of living. It’s mothering with an awake heart. It’s loving with an awake heart. It’s living with my eyes open. 

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” ~John O’Donohue

Welcome to my year of waking up. 

Sea Isle, NJ with my girls

Where do you throw your Rock?

Life is back in full swing. The boys are in school. Work is back on a Monday – Friday routine. It’s a new year with the same schedule, same responsibilities, and same life. Except it feels different. It is never the change of the calander that causes me to reflect. It is the ebb and flow of the seasons. It’s the cycle of the moon. Life always seems to follow their rhythm regardless of what the calander says and my routine dictates.

We are making our way towards light. Between now and June, we will see more sun. Although we are currently in the midst of hibernation, we are preparing for the hot days of summer.

I’m not like most. Summer leaves me depressed. Winter is when I come alive. Even if January 1, 2017 feels the exact same as December 31, 2016, it is an opportunity to take a inventory of life. Where am I? Where do I want to be?

This year I’ve held on to more anxiety than I’d like. My nervous system never seems to take a break. I’m alive and frantic or I’m sitting in a sad solitude. This isn’t my norm. Winter is my season. In winter I thrive. I feel alive and calm.

As I start writing 2017 on all my work correspondences, I’m taking inventory. What layers of my life have caused this pulse of anxiety.

Instead of running errands on my lunch break today, I’ve decided to pause. It’s a gorgeous winter day. The air is brisk. The sky is full of fog. Rain (and maybe snow) is in the forecast. I’ve bundled myself up on my lunch break. I need air. Fresh air. Cold air. The air that settles my nerves and blankets me with peace.


With chilled hands, I’ve doodled. I’m making a visual mental inventory. What is at the center of my world? What is my priority?

Add a layer. Create a ripple.

What comes next? Outside of the very heart of who I am, what is next?

Add a layer. Create a ripple.

And next? Another ripple. And next? Another ripple. Until my life feels both alive and relaxed. That center of my world, that’s where I need to throw my rock. It’s what needs my attention. It’s why my heart whispers Let me Mother. Let that be my ripple. 

When you throw your rock, your energy, at the right place, your life will become filled with all the right ripples. Throw your rock in the wrong direction, and the things you love get washed out and pushes away.


I needed this exercise today. I needed this moment with my notebook and my words in the weather that is made for me to continue to ebb and flow with life.

It’s a new year. I need to make sure I’m throwing my rock in the right direction.

2016. Thank you.

As 2016 comes to an end, I feel my body exhaling. I believe in ending each year with gratitude. It’s important to say thank you to all you’ve been through before moving forward. It isn’t until we appreciate what we have that we can be open to something new.

2016. Thank you.

I started the year with a simple intention. Trust and Transform.

2016 delivered everything I needed to truly trust and transform my life. The more I trusted, the more I transformed. As I made changes to my life – leaving a job, setting new priorities, finding my strength, accepting a new job – the pulse to my every day life became clear. Over and over again I heard a simple whisper.

Let me Mother.

Thank you 2016 for spinning me around until I was dizzy. Thank you for allowing me to refocus and gain true perspective of what matters most to me in life. Thank you for forcing me to wade through a very hot summer feeling stuck in all aspects of life. Thank you for gifting me an amazing community to spin with, wade through life with, and find clarity with. Thank you for opening new doors and bringing new opportunities. Now it’s time to grab hold of this new vision.

Fossil Beach

“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

As 2017 approaches, my intention it to make my heart whispers my pulse. I want it to be the vibration of my home. I want the underlying current of everything I do to peaceful and at ease.

Let me Mother.

I don’t know exactly what these words mean or what they will become. I just know this phrase has guided me and continues to guide me through everything in life. This year I want my household and my family to live and breath for each other. I want the space to tell our story. I want my boys to be immersed in what I love and what they love too. This year, I want to walk beside my boys in the woods with muddy feet and smiling faces. I want the walls of my home to vibrate with their music. I want to exist in the root of everything I love. 

The noise is gone. The distractions have been removed. 2017 I have no idea what you hold, but I’m ready.

York River State Park

Surf n Santa 5 Miler. Do you Believe?

“From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” ~Albert Einstein

On Saturday evening I stepped out of the Virginia Beach Convention Center to a sea of Santas. Our running community had shown up to attempt to set a world record. Could we join together to set a new Guinness Book World Record for the most Santa’s to finish a race?

Lost in the crowd, I was one of 5,025 Santas that ran the five mile route along our coastline. The previous record was set with 4,961 santas. While I was lost in the crowd, I mattered. Every single one of us mattered. Together we set a new record.

📷: Chelsea Nuzum

 

While it may seem to be a silly task, showing up and running a race dressed up wearing a Santa Suit for the sake of a world record, the truth is it was so much more.

The truth is showing up matters.

The truth is we are stronger together.

The truth is life is better when living light hearted.

The truth is believing in the magic of Santa is what allows us to set a record: world records, personal records, and life records.

📷: J&A Racing

 

Every single person who showed up to the race on Saturday believed we had a chance at setting the record. By mile two when I was dripping with sweat and desperate to remove the hot polyester suit, I left it on. I kept running. I pushed through the last hot and hard miles because I trusted that every other person on the course was also committed to running in their suit. I could have slowed down. I could have stopped to embrace the lights on the boardwalk, the gingerbread stop, or the candy cane giveaway, but I kept going. As much as I wanted to set this record for J&A Racing, I also wanted to do it for me.

This year I have worked hard to believe in my voice and my ability. I’ve worked even harder to share them with my community. I’ve worked hard to recognize that even if lost in the crowd, my voice matters. Slowing down wasn’t an option (for me). Not today.

img_2602
#trainjanda

 

“Life isn’t worth living, unless it is lived for someone else.” ~Albert Einstein

While I was only one of the 5,025 Santas on the course, the record wouldn’t have been set without me. While my voice is just one in a world of billions, my world wouldn’t exist without it.

In the true spirit of the season, the more I love the better our world becomes. The more we show up, put on our Santa suits, push through hard, finish what we start, and chase down new records, together we will change the pulse of the world.

There are so many world records begging for us to beat them. Grab you Santa suit. We’ve got work to do. It all starts with one person believing, and it becomes possible when 5,025 commit and believe too.

As we enjoy the holiday season, ask yourself what you believe in.

Race stats:

Official finish time – 45:25, 642/5221, 39/461 age group

Splits – 8:52, 9:04, 9:07, 9:17, 8:47

Gratitude creates Magic 

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~Ronald Dahl

Five years ago I sat in my prenatal class with my (still) favorite yoga instructor Katie. Every year as the season shifts from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I hear her words. Thanksgiving is a season of gratitude. From gratitude we shift to the magic of the Christmas season.

Gratitude  creates magic.

When the world starts spinning fast, like it seems to do every year when the calendar approaches the end of the year, it is gratitude that roots us. It is gratitude that brings magic to our world.

Today my world started spinning. It was a domino effect. The morning started off on a high. Great news from friends. A exciting conversation with my running coach. I hit reply to his last email and said “this season is going to be magical.” Then the dominos started to fall. Heartbreaking news. Domino falls. Facebook status. Domino falls. More updates. Domino falls. I felt myself getting emotional and overwhelmed. I took a break.

Fresh air is always my cure. I took my lunch break outside, and in route to get a coffee I saw a man running down the street. He attacked another man. Punches were thrown. They continued to fight while I called 9-1-1. Another domino fell.

The dominos kept falling. One after the other today, I couldn’t stop the process. How had a morning that started off magical unraveled so quickly. 

The dominos fell for the rest of the day. A temper tantrum in the middle of the store, a car accident beside us, the dominos fell. 

As I safely pulled into my driveway twelve hours after I left this morning, I let out another audible exhale. Today was a lot. How do I get the magic back in my day? 

My boys bounced towards the front door past the dozen illuminated snowman faces, the blow up Christmas tree and penguins. My dog greeted us with kisses. My husband is on his way home from Arizona. 

For a moment I paused. This time I inhaled. I inhaled the life that is mine. I was flooded with gratitude. 

While my heart aches for people I’ve never met and a few I love dearly, today I’m reminded how magical the world can be, how magical the world is. I’m reminded that the best intentions are rooted in gratitude. When the dominos start to fall, the only way to stop them is by giving thanks. 

My boys

 

Broken Open and Renewed

As I approached the beginning of a new phase of life this summer, I stared at a stack of books wondering which book I should read first. I was ready to tackle my new path, new job and new training cycle. I was ready to push for my potential. 

Posted:August 12

My friend Jim kindly suggested a very logical reading order. Broken Open. Your Survival Instinct is Killing You. How Bad Do You Want It? His suggestion seemed to follow life, so I began. 

One day at lunch on a bench overlooking the river behind my new office, I’ve started reading Broken Open. I’ve read every word. I highlighted, scribbled and photographed passages. I’ve sent images to friends. I’ve wrote about it. I’ve digested it. 

I have adored every page of this book, and I imagined I’d finish reading it with the sun on my face and a coffee in my hand. I thought I’d finish the book and use my hour of quiet that day to do my own personal reflection. Today I finished it. With only ten pages left, it was calling to me from beside my bed. I was hesitate to open it because I wanted that picture perfect ending. Instead I finished the book on my couch with body aches and a low fever. 

I let out a audible exhale when I reached the final period. I didn’t want it to end yet it had filled me to the brim. I have no more room left to absorb the words in this book. I am full. 

As I stared blankly at the book wondering what I should do next, Chet tugged on my arm and said “Mama today can we do yoga? We haven’t done it in a year.”

How did he know? 

How does one say no to that request when my intention for the week was to practice daily. So I unrolled my mat with this tiny human I’m trying to raise to be a gentle loving man. Together we did yoga. It was filled with giggles, Chet-modified poses, and an awareness of how tight my body has become. Today’s practice focused on renewing. 

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.” ~Elizabeth Lesser

As I’m living my new chapter, as I finish the last chapter of the book that has confirmed my approach to life, and while I let my body release everything it holds on to, it has become clear. The work that I need to do is in my home. 

As I work on transforming myself, let me create an environment for my boys to transform. While I renew myself, let me create an environment for my boys to renew. As I create a space for me to exist whole heartedly, let me create an environment that encourages my boys to do the same. 

Their journey will always be their own, but I hope by having the courage and the strength to live my journey, I am gifting them the same courage and strength. 

While on my mat in pigeon pose, I looked over at Chet in the same pose and I know for certain I’ve done everything right. As I finished Broken Open, I know I want to bring the book to life. 

Life is a constant cycle, and it’s a constant reminder to stay present. Today my life feels abundantly full. A few months ago my life felt stuck. Each moment equally important and valid in the process of living. 

Today my only wish is that I continue to live in each moment and that I show my boys how to rise and fall. 

“May you listen to the voice within the beat even when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding, and leads you to freedom. If you are weary, may you be aroused by passion and purpose. If you are blameful and bitter, may you be sweetened by hope and humor. If you are frightened, may you be emboldened by a big consciousness far wiser than your fear. If you are lonely, may you find love, may you find friendship. If you are lost, may you understand that we are all lost, and still we are guided—by Strange Angels and Sleeping Giants, by our better and kinder natures, by the vibrant voice within the beat. May you follow that voice, for This is the way—the hero’s journey, the life worth living, the reason we are here.” ~Elizabeth Lesser