Coastal Delaware Half Marathon: Placing my Exclamation Point on Race Day

When this training cycle all began back in January, I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything. My only goal was to recommit to my training. I saw gaps in my previous training cycles, and I wanted to over come them. I wanted to conquer early morning runs so family time in the evening wasn’t sacrificed. I wanted to tackle tempo runs that terrified me. I wanted to be invested in myself and my family, and I knew my running shoes would take me there. I knew those early morning wake ups would result in better days. I knew tackling my tempo runs would add vibrancy to daily interactions.

#theyearofwakingup was born.

With each training run, I felt more alive. I became more engaged. Work flourished. My commitment to the running community took off. Every corner of my life felt fulfilled.

When life is good, running is good.

While the weeks between the Shamrock Marathon and my race in Delaware were not picture perfect (hello Flu and goodbye husband who was out of town for work commitments), my coach was quick to remind me that there are many chapters that make up our race day story. I was ready for race day.

I was confident. I was scared. I was excited. For the first time in a long time, I wanted a personal best. I didn’t just want a strong race and a happy race, I wanted to be my best.

There is no better time to risk failing than when life is good. I had nothing to loose. I finally had the confidence to recognize that I do want a 1 as the first number of my half marathon PR. I’ve never doubted that my legs have the ability to move so much faster than they ever have, but I have always doubted that my training was perfect enough, that my body felt strong enough or fast enough for it to happen on race day.

Going into this race I still wasn’t sure, but I didn’t care. I wanted to try. I wanted to take the risk. I needed to take the risk.


Race day arrived. I had nerves, but I knew this was good. It was a sign of my desire to reach for something just out of my reach. I knew I could do it. I felt it. It was mine to claim. With my dear friend Karen by my side, our race started as corral 2 was released on to the course. We made our way north along the coastal highway. The weather was perfect. The light breeze felt refreshing. The course that was waiting for us was gorgeous. It was going to be a great day.

We were running. My body felt engage. I wasn’t having hip pain. As doubts appeared, I quickly pushed them away. But something wasn’t right. I had no energy to give. I hoped that mile 1 was a liar, but mile 2 told the same story. So did mile 3, 4, 5 and 6. By the time we crossed the 10k mark, I had used every trick I knew to keep myself going. All I wanted to do was nap. I wanted to stop, lay down, close my eyes, and try again. My legs felt great, my breathing was easy, but I was so fatigued.

In my self proclaimed year of waking up, the last thing I expected to feel on race day was a deep desire to sleep. When I couldn’t will myself to move forward any more, I walked and all those ugly doubts I’ve spent a lifetime telling to move on took my break as an invitation to move back in. I was sad. I was embarrassed. I was disappointed. I felt like I let everyone down. At mile 11 after run/walking for the last 3 miles, a sob came out of nowhere.

I wanted that 1:xx half marathon time not just for me, but for my husband who has supported my crazy love of running for longer than our marriage. I wanted it for my coach who has invested so much into me as a runner but even more so as a person. I wanted it for my boys and my parents who give up weekends so I can race.

My race plan was to place an exclamation point at the end of this training cycle for myself but also as a thank you to everyone who invests in me. At mile 11 I felt like the opposite of an exclamation point. I just felt sad. And tired.

I crossed the finish 11 minutes later than I had hoped, and I knew I needed a few minutes to digest everything that had just happened on the race course. After a few intentional inhales and exhales, I wiped the tears off my face and joined my husband (who just so happened to place 2nd in his age group at the 9k) and friends for a celebratory beer!


The disappointment clung to me on Sunday. It followed me to dinner and to coffee and to a walk on the boardwalk. It hung out through dinner and while playing scrabble with my husband. I fell asleep with my sadness, and I slept more deeply than I have in ages.

I woke up on Monday with a fresh perspective. I woke up with gratitude for everything that went wrong the day before. I woke up and loved every moment of the 2 hours and 11 minutes I spent on the race course.

On Sunday, I showed up to race day ready to take the risk. I took the leap. I didn’t fly this time, but I showed up to the race with the courage to try. I showed up with the desire to want more.

This race brought me right back to the reason why I run. I’ll always run happy. I’ll always run for the community of running. But I also run for me. I run to be the best version of myself. I run to polish my heart. Chasing dreams is what I’m made of. This race connected every dot for me. In my failure to fly on race day, I saw all the beauty around me as I made my way back to the ground.

Aiming to be your best does exactly that. It makes you your best. Just like I knew my running shoes would deliver me to my year of waking up, my running shoes will also deliver me to be the best version of myself. Whether I snag a PR on race day or not, its the journey of wanting it, going after it, and showing up for it that matters most.

Running is never just running for me, but it is also just running. This entire training cycle has been layered with so much success. My worlds are colliding in the best possible ways and this race brought that all into focus for me. I’m awake. I’m engaged. I’m loving this life of mine.

Revisiting the gorgeous course on Monday

I wanted an exclamation point on race day. I didn’t get it. What I got instead was a training cycle and a life worthy of ending with a exclamation.

Perfection is found in the process. 

Our best is found in trying. 

Give me a life of striving! 

I’d much rather enjoy the journey than simply celebrating the finish line.

Happy Girl

Settle.

When you release you’re intention into the world, it always comes back to you. I’ve been reminded of this over and over again. Release something, and the world rewards you. It challenges you, provides opportunities for practice, and rewards you.

Before my words go wandering down this path, let me be clear. I don’t believe the world is here to serve me. Nor do I believe all I have to do is ask for something to receive it. I don’t believe anyone or anything is responsible for the outcomes in my life but me. What I do believe is that when I chose to focus on something by setting intentions, I start to notice it more. I become observant of the world around me through my intentional practices. The lens I use to view the world changes. It provides purpose to my daily interactions.

Writing my intentions for the Coastal Delaware Half was my release. The moment my words took shape on paper they solidified their presences in my heart. Now I’m finding pieces of it scattered through out my life.

Last night was a full moon.

Last night I also happened to be the only person at home for the first time since possibly Chet was born.

When a popup full moon yoga class appeared on my newsfeed I knew I would attend. With the sounds of downtown Norfolk as a backdrop, with the full moon as a spot light, and with an amazing breeze off the river, I happily unrolled my yoga mat. 

I set my intention:

Settle

“Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your being.” ~Rumi

After a tough tempo run, after rushing home to feed the dog and myself, and after rushing back to Norfolk for this yoga class, I knew I needed to settle into my mat. My energy felt frantic. As we moved through poses, I found myself looking outward instead of inward. I needed to settle within myself.

We moved through a series of poses that were new to me. The sequencing was fresh. After completing both the right and the left side, we were instructed to move through the sequence again on our own. Gracefully the teacher told us to let our intuition guide us. Our bodies would remember. For a moment I panicked. Settle. I don’t know the sequence. I looked outward. Settle. I closed my eyes. I focused on my breath and my body found the movement. It found the movement it needed.

And there it was. The reason I showed up for the yoga class. Toss your intentions into the world and look for opportunities to practice them.

I told my running coach I didn’t want a race plan. I asked for no guidance on race day. I want my body to guide me. I want the freedom of running by feel. I want to give my body what it needs on race day. In the full moon yoga class, I was given exactly that. For a moment I panicked. I wanted guidance. I looked outward instead of inward. Then I reminded myself to settle. I know I’ll need this reminder again on race day. 

When moving through life (or running a race or practicing yoga), to get to where you want to go you have to push beyond the panic. Fear paralyzes all progress. For me the only way to do that is to settle. I have to calm myself down. I have to relax. To find freedom in living and in running, I have to turn inward. I have to trust that my body knows the movement.

When all the fear and the panic settles, I’m left with nothing but the magic of my life.

Last nights yoga practice was the perfect reminder. My race in 10 days will be another chance to practice.


 

Let it be your Exclamation Point 

As the days have grown longer, running after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays has quickly become my new pattern. With daylight illuminating every new path, I have an endless amount of new ground to cover. Each week my runs have expanded. My normal 3 mile loop has grown into four or five or six miles. On my map, my reach has expanded. More sunshine has casted light on my confidence to explore.

Isn’t this how it always works? A new running route, a new adventure, or a new chapter of life can cause me to become timid. While navigating the new course, I’m cautious. Then the light creeps in. Comfort is discovered. Confidence grows. My circles expand.

This year has been all about recognizing the ripples in life. Circles are expanding. Some of them are literal circles like my running path at work. Others are as figurative as the expansion of energy rippling outward from my heart and lungs.

On Friday I sat across from my running coach. It’s two weeks until race day. Like all the other ripples in my life , our trust and understanding of each other has also expanded. He has known long before me what I need from my running. Today I’m trusting it too.

For some people, running is simply running. Race day is the day to put your game face on, turn off your emotion and compete. I wanted this. I wanted nothing more than to take my head and my heart out of the equation. I thought to compete I needed to silence the part of me that felt too much and thought too much. In order to perform at my best, I spent many years trying to simply perform. Give me a race plan. Let me execute it. I thought that was the winning strategy because for some it is. For some runners it works brilliantly. My running coach may have always know this doesn’t work for me.

Silencing the part of me that thinks too much and feels too much is like chopping of my legs. I was fighting myself instead of racing. I had lost before I even started. Feeling too much and thinking too much is my strength.

I left that meeting with a very simple race plan. Race day is my exclamation point. 

the only note taken during our meeting

Two Tuesdays ago I was supposed to run mile repeats: three of them, four if I was feeling on fire. My legs wanted nothing to do with it. They’d only run one pace, and that was easy. I finished my run a little deflated. I had some thinking to do. Did I want race day to be an attempt at a personal best or did I want to run easy? What did I need from the race?

All week I had dreams filled with memories that made me feel alive. I had dreams that kept connecting me to times where I felt uninhibited and free. When I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and recall life moments that take my breath away, there is always one that stands out the most. It wasn’t my wedding day or the day I birthed my boys. It’s a simple night in Austin, Texas. After sitting speechless on a staircase listening to Andrew McMahon play music on his piano, I walked out on to Sixth Street. Surrounded by friends, we raced. We ran down the streets chasing nothing but the feeling of being alive. Maybe it was Austin, maybe it was the music, maybe it was the brand new territory in my life, but that night I knew what magic felt like.Because I know better than to try to seperate my life from my running, I knew there was something hidden in my dreams.

That’s the one thing.

There’s no safety in desire.

Preserving life is as good as dying.

ūüéĶAndrew McMahon, So Close

This ripple pattern that I’ve come to notice in my life, it expands or contracts based on me. So many times I feel myself shrinking and caving in. So many times in my life I’ve felt so close to achieving it, touching it, experiencing it, and I’ve shrunk back out of fear.

And these could be the best or the darkest days.

The lines we walk are paper thin

And we could pull this off or push away

ūüéĶAndrew McMahon, So Close

My biggest challenge is in letting go. Once I find my edge, too many times I’ve retreated backwards. How many times have I cheated myself out of enjoying the free fall that comes once we embrace the edge? How many times have I not run down the street for no other reason than it feels good to run? Once you push beyond the panic, the magic of life is waiting. 

So close

So close to giving up

So close to going all the way

So close to taking off

So close to going no where

ūüéĶAndrew McMahon, So Close

At the beginning of this training cycle, I drove to the oceanfront with Andrew McMahom playing in my car. His song So Close playing too loudly for 6am.

As I drove I thought to myself, running is the punctuation of my life.  It defines the content. It gives structure and shape to everything I do. 

On Friday as I told my running coach I didn’t want a race plan, that I wanted to run reckless, that I wanted to get so close and not give up out of fear.

I wanna go there.

I wanna go there.

ūüéĶAndrew McMahon, So Close

With every thought, every feeling, I’m showing up in Delaware. There is no plan A, B or C. There is no pace to hit for each mile. There are no bullet points outlining the details of my plan. There is only an exclamation point – the one my coach drew on my notebook after I told him what I needed from this race.

His Response:

Let it be your exclamation point! 

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

 


Thank you 36. 

As a parent, I strive to be an example for my children. I want them to see me working hard. I want them to see me chasing a dream. I want them to know that if we want something, we have to work for it. So often the focus is on the end result. 

As I reflect on the last year of my life, I’m filled with gratitude. This has been the best year yet. This is the current of my life. It’s the vibration behind everything I do. I’m living my best right now. Thirty six has been so good to me, but it’s not because I’m focused on an end result. I’ve been focusing on each moment. 

Birthdays are perfect for reflection. While today I’m convinced I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, the truth is this year was hard. Having walked away from a “dream job” just before my 36th birthday, I questioned everything. I doubted myself, my strength, and my ability. The year started in pieces. Each fragment unsure where it belonged. The summer was dark. I was hot and stuck

Each day I continued on. I kept honoring myself. I made my way. Each moment and each step of the way created opportunities to write my own story. 

Today as the sunset I stood beside the river with my boys. Helping Cole work through disappointment of his own, I found myself telling him to keep working, to keep striving, and he’ll find his success. But is that the message I really want to teach my child. I stopped myself. I started over. 

This time I told him it’s okay to feel disappointed. That disappointment will turn into other feelings too. That’s okay, and it’s important to feel them all. It’s also important to keep moving forward. It’s important to keep making a path. That might be a dream to chase or a goal to hit. While those dreams and goals help us bloom, it’s the process of chasing them that fulfills us. Disappointment is just another chance to reevaluate what we really want. 

Thirty six was my year of reevaluating. It was a year of prioritizing. In all it’s ugly messy middle, it was magical. 

I’ve quit assuming what the next year will deliver. Instead I’m learning to celebrate it all. 

Thirty seven: lets do this! I’ve got a lot of life to bring you. 

The sun sets on 36!

Shamrock 8k: Running my own Race 

As much as I love pacing my training team and supporting on race day, I have discovered that in order to push my teammates, I need to push myself. Since I’d be on the sidelines during the half and full marathon on Sunday, I took the opportunity to race the 8k on Saturday. 
I had two goals: PR (sub 44:09) and run faster than I did at the Wicked 10k (8:39 pace). 

I didn’t taper. I didn’t prepare for this race. The day before I worked from 6:30am until 9:00pm. There was a lot stacked against me and if I wanted to look for an excuse to have a bad race, there was a lot I could have grabbed a hold of race morning. 

Quite frankly, I’m sick of not PRing. I’m sick of having mediocre races. I was either going to hit my goal, or I was going to crash and burn. I was going for it. 

Race morning I took my place in the second corral with my kickass friend Karen by my side. She was ready to be my reality check if I started to falter. In front of me in corral 1 was my husband. Given the day and our own individual races, I knew he had a great shot at beating me for the first time. I also had a shot at catching him. 

Karen and I started fast. Heading south we had the wind in our face. We both laughed knowing I was too fast for a conservative start, but sometimes you just have to roll with it. The first 3 miles felt like work, but in a five mile race I knew I needed to work the entire race. 

8:26 8:39 8:44


After mile 3, I was freed from the boardwalk. I may have let out a primal moan as Karen and I made our way North. I was ready to be done. At mile 4, my teammates had created an epic cheer zone. I felt like a celebrity. 

8:33

As I hit my last mile, I felt the all to familiar feeling of panic. My head started spinning. Breathing felt impossible. For the first time ever in a race I said out loud “I need to calm myself down”. As soon as the words left my mouth, my anxiety followed. I had acknowledged it, and I had let it go. Mile 4 felt awful and amazing all at the same time. I knew a PR belonged to me. 

8:20

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw my husband’s smiling face. I had forgotten about him on the course as I ran my own race, but was curious to see who won the Maute show down. 

Run pretty

The race wasn’t even close. He destroyed it with a finish time of sub 40 (sub 8 minute miles). Christian is the official owner of the fastest Maute crown.  Not too shabby for a guy who ran 11 minute miles a year ago. 

My official time: 42:40 (8:33 pace). A new PR and a perfect set up for my half marathon next month. 


While the PR and the pace feel amazing, I’m even more proud of my ability to mentally overcome the panic that normally takes me down. The wheels didn’t fall off. I’ve got this! 

“On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, ‘Okay, this is the limit’. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.” ~Aytron Senna 

31 days until the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon. With Shamrock behind me, I plan on being selfish with my running for the next four weeks to see what my legs (and my head) can do for a half marathon. The goal is the same as always! Sub 2. 

Fancy. Just for us!

Shamrock Marathon 2017: Strong, Smart and Brave 

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” ~Mark Amend 

If I could pick the shape of my heart, I’d draw a shamrock in the middle of my chest. Shamrock Marathon weekend is my heartbeat. It’s the place I discovered my strength. Over the course of 13.1 miles in 2010, I became the narrator of my own life. Prior to that race, I lived the life I thought I should love. After I crossed that finish line, I began to live the life I wanted. Shamrock Marathon weekend empowers me year after year. 

This year my shamrock story began to take shape as I stood on the sidelines of the Richmond marathon last November. I witnessed “coaches” running up and down the course encouraging their runners. The moment I saw it, I knew that was the role I wanted to own race weekend. 

It didn’t take much convincing for my coach  to say yes. In fact I think he said yes before I finished asking. My friend and fellow pacer, Steve and I would strategically place ourselves outside Fort Story before mile 10 and mile 23 of the Shamrock half and full marathon. 

Race morning arrived along with terrible weather. You won’t read a race report that doesn’t talk about how the cold/rain/snow/sleet/hail/gail force winds impacted everyone’s race. As course support, I couldn’t let this impact me. I packed multiple outfits, extra shoes, and four coats. I needed to be ready. 

My job as a spectator started with the half. I watched the first half of the race head north from 80th street. With enough time to catch the front runners, I made my way to 89th street. This is when my real work began. It was time to run with my team. 

Our fast runners came through. Tucked in with pace groups, they looked strong. I knew the race belonged to them. One by one my teammates came off the fort. They arrived faster than I expected. 

Every half marathoner looked strong. They were focused. They had fight. Not a single one faltered. Steve and I ran up and down Atlantic Ave between 89th and 82nd street running with our teammates and cheering on every other racer. It was a tough day, and if I could give someone a boost of energy, I was going to do it. 

As the last half marathoner came through, the weather took a turn for the worse. Maybe it had already been that bad but when I was running with my team I was oblivious to the weather. When I stopped moving and waited for the marathoners to make their way to us, my body began to falter. Wet, cold, shivering, and a slight shade of blue, Steve and I took cover under a tree. Time stood still, and the ugly doubt that creeps in on race day found me. Trembling, I wasn’t sure I could endure several more hours of the weather.  Steve saw me falter, and like a true friend and pacer he came to my rescue. He was able to move my car from 80th to 89th so I could remove my wet layers, blast my heat, and warm my body up. He took over so I could stop shaking. 

Next year we need the tree to provide more rain coverage

Our first marathoner came through. Seeing Steve run with our dear friend unfroze my brain. I had a job to do. I put dry socks on my feet, layered on clothes that felt the least wet, and I resumed my position on the course. 

The marathoners needed us more than ever. By Mile 23, everyone hurt. Everyone was frozen. Everyone had doubts. Everyone wanted to be done. My job was to shower them with positivity and praise as they attacked their final 5k. 

One by one Steve and I ran with every runner. The race course felt like a ghost town. Unlike the crowded half, the marathon felt empty. The familiar faces of our team were easy to spot. We tied shoes. We opened Gus. We dug water bottles out of camelbaks. We ran. We high fived. We didn’t stop until we found our last runner. 

After nearly 8 hours of running with our team, Steve and I had crossed our finish line. The race was done. 

All that is left is the course sweeper!

While the logistics of the day are easy to describe, the emotion of the day keeps slipping away from my finger tips. I got to witness everything. I saw hope and strength. I saw gratitude and fight. I saw desperation and panic. I saw courage. I saw the spirit of what it means to be human for 8 hours, and for a moment I was able to add positivity to someone’s day. 

While every single runner responded to Mile 10 and Mile 23 in a different way, there was one common theme amongst all my teammates. When they were at their edge and at the point of breaking, they all had one question. They wanted to know how everyone else was doing? They wanted to know if a teammate and friend was on pace for their goal. They wanted me to know a teammate was right behind them. They told me what they were wearing so I wouldn’t miss anyone. Everyone was more concerned about a teammate then themselves. At their lowest, my teammates wanted to make sure their teammates were given the support they needed. 

I learned more than I ever thought I would on Sunday, and yet I saw once again the same lesson every marathon I’ve ever run has been trying to show me. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run. It doesn’t matter how many miles you conquer. 

Strength matters. Be strong enough to stand alone. 

Being smart matters. Be smart enough to know when you need help. 

Bravery matters. Be brave enough to ask for help. 

Collectively our entire team was strong, smart and brave on race day. This is the magic of our team. We are our best when we are together. 

And just like that, the season is over. The bad weather moved out. The sun started to shine as the finish line came down. Spring is here, and we all endured more than we every thought we could. 

So long Shamrock 2017! This year we learned there is nothing we can’t handle. 

Until next season….

#beboldforchange

Today is International Women’s Day. It is a day to recognize the strength and importance of women in our culture but to also draw attention to the exclusion of women from our world.  This year the campaign is asking us to #beboldforchange by taking groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women. Each one of us – with women, men and non-binary people joining forces – can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.

As I got ready for work this morning, my thoughts wandered as they often do. Driven by my own personal desires to create change, I often feel paralyzed. How do I make that bold move for change? How do I create an impact?  How do I reach the outer circle of life where change seems to occur? More often than not it feels beyond my reach.

A reoccurring pattern keeps appearing in my thoughts: circles and ripples. They have become one in the same. If I am the center of my life, my most immediate impact is the circle that is next to me. As change reaches my family, the circle expands. My impact begins to ripple outward towards that unreachable space.

img_4856
my notebook of thoughts

Perhaps the most impactful way to #beboldforchange is to start by living small. You have to start in the center. You have to start with you.

**********

Breath of Sunshine began the moment I realized I missed writing. Touched by the ripple of a blog from women in Vancouver, I created a space for myself. I would share my story as a means of writing again. I wrote for no one but myself. The more I wrote, the more I fell in love with my story.

I shared my story. My family began to read my blog. A few friends began to follow. My reach grew. A few strangers found the space I had carved out for myself. My blog is small, but many have thanked me for its impact.

For six years, I’ve capture my heart “on paper”. While the content of my blog has evolved, I’ve never stopped writing for myself. I’ve always been an audience of one. I write for myself. I will never tell you how to live your best life, how to run faster, how to parent a child, but I will always share the lessons I learn along the way. I write them down so I can process the lesson. I write them down so I remember. I share them so I can feel the impact of my life.

**********

Today on International Women’s Day when I’m desperately wishing I could reach the outer circle where change magically seems to occur, I’m taking the time to reflect on the change that occurred the moment I recognize the worth of my inner most ripple. As I approach my 37th birthday, I see how lucky I am. I love every piece of my life and every part of who I am. I know I am loved. I know I am privileged. While today I feel an abundance of gratitude  for the life that I live, I know that this didn’t occur over night.

My inner most circle if filled with love. This floods the next immediate circle, my family, with love. Through my story, by sharing myself, I believe that the next circle and the next circle are also touched by the love that exists in the center of my life. This blog, no matter how small, has allowed me to cast ripples into the world.

**********

On Saturday, I had the privilege of running with one of the most dynamic and life filled women I have ever met. She has dedicated the remainder of her life to creating ripples of love and support to those who need a reminder that they are worth the fight. As Kim spoke, her words, her ripple nearly knocked me over. When describing the people she’s met along the way, she described them as the following:

The Light that Reflects Light

My life, my love, and my heart is filled with light. My grandparents must have had a glimpse of the life I would someday live when they nicknamed me Sunshine.

Most days I feel like my light is my own. I’m honored when people recognize it, but my intention has never been for people to recognize it.

This year, the year of waking up, I am starting to wonder.

Circles.

Ripples.

Light.

Sunshine.

Be Bold.

Start small.

But when should I go big?

The best way to reflect the light of others is to let my own light shine. Once the light shines, don’t I have an obligation to spread my reach? Once you’ve reached the most immediate layers, what responsibility do we have to make a bigger splash? This is where I falter. This is where the doubt creeps in.

My voice isn’t unique. There are hundreds, thousands and millions of other women who stand on my same platform. There are bigger voices, louder voices, more impactful voices that say exactly what I say. Why should I share? Why should I speak? These are all the questions I ask myself. These are the doubts.

Today I’m setting a new intention to change that. Why shouldn’t I? Why not me? To that question, I don’t have one good answer.

It’s time to expand my ripple.

#beboldforchange

17098480_1236361803108144_4129530040125824242_n
Sunset on the Elizabeth River

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.” ~ Bren√© 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?

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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.”¬†~ Bren√© 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.