Why not me?

This weekends run started the same way as my last two runs. I parked in the same spot. I headed in he same direction. Just like last week, the first two miles breezed by. Just like last week, I found myself cracking at mile 3. MILE 3! Mile 3 is too early to crack. Mile 3 is closer to the start line than the finish line. Mile 3 is 23.2 miles from the finish line. I can’t crack at mile 3.

Unlike last week, this week I welcomed the emotions that bubbled to the surface. I took a moment to let it pass. I pulled myself together. Instead of turning around, I became more determined to keep going.  I may crack at mile 3, but I don’t quit. I keep going. I welcome it all, and I keep running because I know a few things about myself after 35 years of living.

I know I need to feel everything. I need to feel happy or sad or cracked. I know I don’t stuff any emotions inside of me. I know once I feel them, I can let them go. I know another emotion is waiting for me.

I also know I that I don’t give up. Runs get tough. Life gets tough. But I keep going. I don’t give up on things that I love. I certainly don’t give up on myself.

At mile three, I kept heading north. I ran until I hit mile 8, and I turned around to do it all again.

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Back in May, I watched my niece walk across the stage at her high school graduation. During the ceremony, Scott Rigell (a local congressman) gave a commencement speech. It’s the last place I expected to find motivation. It’s the last thing I expected to think about on a long run. But over the course of 16 miles there is a lot of time to think. I spent many miles thinking of people who love me and support me. I spent many miles building myself back up. My brain wandered to the drive that my niece embodies. I found courage in her courage. I found drive in her drive. She’s 18 years old and after she received her high school diploma, she went in search of her dream to be a professional ballerina. At 35, I have so much admiration for her belief in herself.

During her commencement, Scott Rigell offered up three words of advice: Why not me? His message was simple. When staring at a task that seems impossible, ask yourself Why not me? Somebody has to accomplish it. Why shouldn’t it be you? Why shouldn’t it be you that lives out that dream?

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I made a lot of mistakes on this run – I didn’t eat enough Saturday to recover from a tough 6 mile trail run pushing Chet in the stroller, I didn’t drink enough water. I didn’t eat enough breakfast. My nutrition was a disaster on this run. I was starving by mile 5. I ate all my GUs by mile 7. I was so thirst. I stopped at mile 12 to buy a banana and a Gatorade. I drank too much and felt sick. Every mistake taught me a valuable lesson for the rest of this training cycle.

More important than the lessons I learned today is the determination I gained as every mile passed. I want this marathon finish more than ever before.

I forgot how much fight marathon training required. I forgot just how much determination it takes to keep going. I forgot how important it is to pay attention to my nutrition. But today I remembered. Today I remembered why I’m doing this and why I am capable.

I can’t wait to run 16 again next weekend.


 

Plotting my Course

Every night as I’m getting ready for bed, my thoughts wander to my running for the next day. Where should I run? My neighborhood, the park, the boardwalk, along the bay? The sunrise draws me to the beach. The sunset keeps me in my neighborhood. It’s a simple choice, but it’s a choice that brings motivation to my run.

Thursdays Tempo Run in Harper’s Ferry, WV

Saturday night I laid in bed wondering where my run would take me Sunday morning. I had 14 miles to tackle yet again. I decided to run the same route as last week. It allows me to leave my water bottle at home, I have bathrooms available if needed, and it touches so many portions of Virginia Beach that I love.

Sunday morning did not go as planned. Chet wet the bed. He woke up with a fever. Christian and I let the little things bother us both. I left the house later than I hoped, and the sun was already high in the sky. One mile in I let the excitement of Chicago pull me into my run. Two miles in I let the excitement of the boardwalk pull me forward. At mile 3, my brain shut down. I ran straight into a wall of heat and instantly felt sick. It was too much.

Some times life is too much.

I considered running forward. I ran a few blocks and my stomach was turning. My head shut down. I just didn’t have it in me to push forward. I turned around, fell apart for a few miles, picked myself back up, and finished my run. It was enough for that Sunday.

In the midst of my falling apart and picking myself back up, it all felt familiar. I’ve travelled this road before. When I trained for the Richmond Marathon in 2013, I hit a road block at this same place.

I’ve plotted this course before.

I’m rereading my own words. I’m rereading every post I wrote during my training cycle for Richmond. I already know what I need.

Shine On: I give myself permission to live with a light heart.

Redefining Perfect: Race day may not be perfect, but I can make it perfect for me. My marriage with my husband is real. It’s not perfect. We argue. We nag. We forgot that our relationship is perfect for us, but he loves me better than anyone and I absolutely adore him. Motherhood is hard. I forget to sign homework papers. I forget to put money into lunch accounts. I count down the minutes until bedtime. My running is never perfect. Runs rarely go according to plan, but I’ve learned to run what my body is asking for on every single run.

(Fill in the blank) HeartWhen I embrace each day from this place of self acceptance, there isn’t a need to guard my heart. I don’t need the armor anymore.

Reaching for Richmond: I’m drawing a heart on my hand on race day to remind me that this race is about running from my heart. It’s about lifting myself up during the hard miles. It’s about being my own cheerleader. It’s about running each mile. I won’t be chasing a pace on my garmin or on the finish line clock. I’m not even sure I want my pace showing on race day. I know what I’m capable of running when I allow my body to run. I know when I’m giving it everything I’ve got. 

As I talked to Jerry today, he brought my perspective back to a place of gratitude. He was quick to remind me that I’m not running for Chicago. I’m not running for the next marathon or the marathon after that one. I’m running to bring out the best in myself. On Saturday night’s when I’m plotting my course for the run the next day, I’m not plotting the course to a finish line. I’m embracing where I’m at. I’m celebrating the process.

Potomac River. Floated down on Wednesday. Ran beside on Thursday.

Richmond has made me stronger for Chicago, and Chicago will make me stronger for where ever my course takes me.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tomorrow I’ll be tackling 12×400 repeats while the sunrises next to me.

82 days until Chicago!

Perhaps plotting my course has nothing to do with plotting at all - perhaps it is all about navigating the current.

Perhaps plotting my course has nothing to do with plotting at all – perhaps it is all about navigating the current.

The Road to Chicago

You have to dream in color. Your dreams have to be vivid. They have to be alive. You have to feel them, taste them, touch them. You have to see yourself living them.

I have six solid weeks of training under my belt. In between the speed workouts, the tempo runs, the easy runs, and the long runs, I’ve been really focused on building my mental confidence. A few weeks ago, I walked up the stairs in my house and stopped to stare at my bookcase. Which one of the books hadn’t I read yet? I have a (not so) great habit of buying books, lots of books, because I know I will read them all one day. Mindgym jumped off the shelf at me. I bought the book last summer and never made it past the first section.

“Everyone has confidence in you but you! Everyone sees your potential but you.” ~Jerry Frostick

The first section of the book is about identifying weakness. It’s about analyzing your behaviors to discover areas of growth. I’m really good at this. I’m really good at finding areas of improvement in my life. What I missed out on by putting the book down last summer was how to implement the improvements, how to strengthen my own mental strength. I missed out on progress. As the intensity of my training plan takes off, I need it now more than ever.

Gary Mack, sports psychologist, describes the importance of dreams. Do you dream in color? Do you dream in black and white? The dreams that come true are the dreams that are filled with color. I thought about this a lot last night as I ran 14 miles along the coast as the sun set. Are my dreams colorful? Are they black and white?

The reason I decided to run marathon #3 was full of color. I craved the marathon. I could feel the push at mile 24. I could taste the desire at mile 25. I could hear the crowds cheering me on at the finish line. I watched marathon finish lines, and tears rolled down my cheeks. My dream to run another marathon was vivid. I was ready to do this.

Nearly two months ago, in the middle of the Operation Smile mission, I found myself sitting next to Jerry Frostick. I was lucky enough to be on the mission trip with two of my favorite race directors. So Kristy, tell me about Chicago. What are your goals. I want to finish strong. I want to finish confident. I want to embrace the marathon. That conversation spread from the hospital court yard to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain to the J&A Racing Office in Virginia Beach. After we got home from the trip, I found myself in his office staring at a training plan. This dream was coming true, and it was a collaboration of all the things I love.

On top of Machu Picchu Mountain

On top of Machu Picchu Mountain

I’ve run every run on my training plan. I’ve surprised myself with the paces I’ve been able to maintain. I’ve been impressed by my own dedication. I’ve committed to my circuit workouts. I’ve stared at my training plan. I’ve put checks next to each work out. I’ve analyzed finish times. My training became black and white.

Last Thursday I sat across from Jerry and I don’t know who has become more frustrated with my head. What do I need to do to believe in my own ability? I left the office feeling anxious. I have so many people believing in me. What if I let them down? Other life factors added on layers of anxiety. On Saturday, during a six mile run, I felt it all coming seeping out of my pours. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus. Panic was taking over.

On Sunday, I needed to run 14 miles. I didn’t want to run. I was paralyzed by fear. Christian shoved me out the door at 7pm, and I knew I had to commit to my run. Mile 1 felt stiff. My legs felt sore. As I ran up and over the Rudee Inlet bridge a favorite song came on the radio. The oceanfront was alive with summer energy. I saw my dream in color again. I let go of the black and water training plan and spread sheet. I let go of perceived expectations. I let go of perfect. My feet carried me through the crowds on the boardwalk, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I ran through the trails, and I couldn’t stop smiling. When I turned around to head back to my car, I knew I had found the magic in my run again.

At mile 7, I feared I had gone out to fast. I was nervous that I would fall apart on the way back. I quickly silenced that voice by saying who cares. Who cares if mile 14 is my slowest? What if it’s not? Who cares if I struggle for the last four miles? What if I don’t? Who cares if my run isn’t perfect on paper? Every single mile made me smile. Running the marathon is a huge act of trust. It’s an act of existing in each moment, each mile, and making the best of it. Last night I chose to trust.

My goal for this training cycle is simple: trust Jerry to create the black and white outline for Chicago and allow my heart to add the color. It’s my job to paint the picture. It’s my job to bring it to life.

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Mile 8, more than half way, an amazing reminder to trust

Sunday’s Long Run: 14 miles, 9:31 pace

(9:46, 9:17, 9:17, 9:17, 9:19, 9:06, 10:13 (trail), 9:51 (trail), 9:01, 9:05, 9:31, 9:49, 10:04, 9:35)

Uniting a Team

(May 14, 2015)

Most of the volunteers arrived in the middle of the night last night. Airport pickups had me crawling into bed after 2am. It’s all beginning. It is all about to start. The pieces of a successful mission are starting to fall into place.

As we waited for the volunteers to arrive, we guessed who was with Operation Smile. Did they fit the picture we had painted in our head? Did they look like a plastic surgeon? Would I know if they were a nurse? Voices I have become familiar with over the phone became welcoming faces.

Every single volunteer that got of the plane followed the same pattern – recognition that we were waiting for them, realizing I am Kristy, and a huge embrace. No one shook hands. No one awkwardly introduced themselves. We were instantly a family united in Lima.

Day 1 on our mission agenda included a tour of the hospital, reviewing hospital protocol and a team meeting. As we sat on the bus anticipating the one hour drive north along the Pacific coast, our Program Coordinator made an announcement. The hospital tour was cancelled. There was a protest at the hospital that made it unsafe for our visit. Our new destination was the historic district of Lima. We were going to tour a cathedral and catacombs.


The entire day I was amazed by how quickly everyone became friends. We were strangers from over 10 different countries. We spoke different languages. We have different backgrounds. Our differences never mattered. We are all a family connected and united by our common goal to bring hope to families.

Standing outside the Covent of San Francisco, I took a few moments to take it all in. I am in Lima. I am on a medical mission with Operation Smile. Tomorrow we will meet families and children who hope to get surgery, but today we have the chance to embrace this community. While we all learn to love each other more deeply, we get to stand in the middle of a church built in 1535. We get to stand in a library that was once considered the most important library in the South America that dates back to the 17th century and holds 25,000 books. We get to stand in the church’s choir. The pipe organ was built in 1901 and has more than 1000 pipes. We get to walk through the catacombs that is the burial ground to more than three centuries of priests, members of the brotherhood, and citizens of Lima. Surround by over 500 years of history, my presence in the world seems like only a small ripple.

While the Covent of San Francisco made me feel small, there is no denying there is importance in the ripples that Operation Smile will make in the lives of the families we can treat. We all know this. We all know that there is nothing more important than the children we are in Peru to treat.

In this moment, in the historic district of Lima, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m surrounded by the people I’m supposed to meet. I am where I belong. We are were we belong. We are so much stronger when we are united. Each of us bring our own unique gift to the mission and as a result families can continue to dream for their children.

My heart is so incredibly happy.

Chicago Marathon 2015

“Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.” ~Carl Sandburg

On October 11, 2015 my feet will travel 26.2 miles through the city of Chicago. I woke up yesterday morning at 5am feeling the panic that I might not get selected in the lottery process. I hit refresh on my email over and over again. I followed #Chicagomarathon to see if anyone else got an acceptance letter yet. Just after 10am, my status changed from “Pending” to “Accepted”.

On October 11th, my feet will travel 26.2, but it is my heart that will carry me.

“Courage, Dear Heart.” ~C.S. Lewis

Nine days ago I wrote a blog post: See your Magic. Inspired by the birthday of my aunt and the Boston Marathon, I eluded to the fact that I wanted to run another marathon. What I didn’t tell you was that on March 10th I entered my name into the lottery for the Chicago Marathon. I knew my heart was ready to tackle 26.2 miles yet again.

As I look at the direction of my life in the next six months, I’m overwhelmed by gratitude. This year has felt like magic. How did I get so lucky? Every year seems to be punctuated by life events. I know five, ten, twenty years from now when I think back to 2015, it is going to stand out as a magical year for our family.

On Monday, Christian started a new chapter in his professional career. He started a new job that is going to inspire him, challenge him, and allow him to grow in ways we never imagined.

On May 12th, I am boarding a plane for Peru to attend my first ever Operation Smile medical mission. I am exposed to the nature of this work every single day, but to experience it first hand, to live it, to breath it, is something I can’t begin to understand. My heart is prepared to grow.

Over the next six months, my mileage will increase once again. What now feels like a long run will become a short run on my schedule. Saturday mornings will start at sunrise. Over the course of hundreds of miles, my soul will be polished it the best version of myself. This is why I run. This is why I’m ready to run a marathon again. My heart, my head and my body are all working together.

I’m consciously telling myself to slow down, to inhale, to exhale, and to not let the excitement and the whirlwind of life overcome me. I want to enjoy every second of this phase of life.

When I look back on the thirty five years I’ve existed that all began in a tiny hospital tucked in the woods in Lake Forest, Illinois (just north of Chicago), I know what each of those years has meant to me. I’ve lived enough to know just how special this year is for me and my family. Running the Chicago Marathon is the perfect way for me to celebrate the growth that this year has delivered.

There is no better time to let my heart carry me and no better town to welcome me home. It’s time to embrace Chicago!

Photo via Business Weekly

Photo via Business Weekly

Every ounce of gratitude I feel, every gesture of love I feel, I promise to carry it with me during every training run. This marathon is about bringing my best self to surface. It is about running with my heart. It is about embracing life.

See your Magic

April 20, 2015

My Aunt would have celebrated her 48th birthday. In the two years since she’s passed away, she continues to shape me. She continues to inspire me. It was at the kitchen table in her Mom’s house in Wisconsin nearly twenty years ago that I came to understand myself. She saw me, and she reflected back to me all the passion I had yet to find inside of myself.

I put on my platform boots. I drank a large iced coffee. It felt like such a celebration of Amy.

With my platform boots on my feet and my iced coffee in hand, I watched The Boston Marathon on one monitor at work while work continued on the other. I squealed with delight as I saw familiar faces. My heart ached as I watched favorite runners fall out of the lead pack. My heart swelled as every runner made a final surge for the finish line. I love this sport, this race and this marathon.

These two events colliding together on the calender make me want to push harder, live bigger, and love more. These two events make me want to feel it all.

Life has been so good to me this year. Life has embraced me. I want to embrace it back. How can I make my heart visible to others? How can I bring the passion my aunt saw in me to the surface for everyone to see? There is one thing that makes me feel alive. There is one thing that lets me feel every emotion of life. For me it is running. It’s the marathon.

There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul.” ~Kristen Armstrong

There is magic in the marathon! My soul is ready to be laid bare! 

If I could make one promise to my aunt, I’d promise her I’d see people the way she saw me. I’d promise her I wouldn’t hide. Pay it forward! Find the magic in yourself. Find the magic in people!

 

 

 

 

 

Grow into it, still growing. 

A year ago I realized the importance of growth, the comfort of growth, the necessity of growing.

Grow into it.

It’s been almost a year since I changed jobs. It’s been almost a year since we enrolled Chet in school. It’s been almost a year since our family learned to adapted to so many new changes. During that time I found myself me    ntally coaching myself through most life moments.

Grow into it.

Very little has changed since last May, yet everything is different. I find comfort in the challenges of my job. I cherish the time Chet spends thriving in his school. Our family has gained so much since last year.

Grow into it.

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View from my Run

 

Yet we are still growing. I find myself adjusting to a child maturing into middle school. He’s growing and stretching. Finding comfort in this middle stage of development is a challenge. He’s loving and caring one moment. He’s withdrawn and abrasive the next moment. I want to whisper in his ear grow into it, but I know it’s me that needs to grow. I need to grow as his mother to support him.

Grow into it.

Teenage years and toddler years are a lot to manage. At the end of most days, it my connection to Christian that becomes neglected. Many discusses have ended with the conclusion that this is a phase in our relationship that we have to trust, that we have to embrace and that we have to grow through. The moments in life when our children need us most don’t last forever, so we are trusting the growth. We are focusing on small moments for just us. We are growing.

Grow into it.

A year ago I asked my husband and my children to trust me, to trust that the change I was making would make me a better wife and mother. They held my hand and cheered me on. Now it’s my turn. Nicole at My Fit Family wrote of her marriage, and it has inspired me ever since.

“Marriage is about falling into pace with each other.  When one person chooses to grow, the other person cannot be left behind.  Feelings of jealousy have no place in our hearts towards each other.

Sometimes, people grow.  And because we are individuals, we can’t force one person to be ready to grow with the other at the same time.  But here is what I’ve learned–from my own marriage of 10 years, seeing my own parents marriage of 39 years, my grandparents marriage of 64 years: When your partner grows, you must pace along with them.  Be an encourager and supportive–not bitter or resentful.

Because your turn will come.  And your partner may be the one that is holding back–and you will need his support.  It’s almost as if the person who is growing has no choice but to grow and the other person must be the supporter and encourager.  Being left behind will cause too big of a separation.  A great divide–and if you aren’t careful, it may never be filled–it may be too difficult to build the bridge to connect the two of you.”

It’s now my turn to watch my husband flourish, to pace beside him, and to let him grow. This year belongs to him.

Grow into it. 

It has been a year since I used these three simple words to motivate myself. It has been a years since I relied on these three simple words to anchor me in my own growth. A year later I know this: growing isn’t something to be feared. It isn’t something to resist. It is something to be embraced, celebrated and encouraged. Growth is the direction I am headed.

Change is inevitable. Growth is intentional.” ~Glenda Cloud

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View from my Run