108. 2016. 

There are some things in life that are always celebrated. They mark a period of time. They measure growth. The new year, holidays, and our birthdays provide us moments of reflection and allow us to set new intentions. Then there are moments in life that grow to be important parts of who we are. 

Shamrock Marathon weekend has become one of the dates that “time stamps” my life. Shamrock is special. 

Today one of my friends and fellow pacers posted a countdown to Shamrock. 

108 days. 

108 days until Shamrock. 

One year ago with 108 days until Shamrock I wrote about my intentions. This magical number that reveals intentions and opens the heart is a number I cherish. It’s part of my being. With 108 days of training between today and a weekend of new beginnings, growth and celebration, it’s amazing to see how much has changed in one year. 

Shamrock 2016

108 days until Shamrock. 

108 days. 

Last year this training cycle opened my heart. My confidence grew. I found my voice. 

Last night as I sat in my coach’s living room with the 13 other leaders on the team, a new vibration filled my heart that echoed words I already know. This time it was different. This time I believed it. This time I wasn’t trying to convince myself. I don’t need to grown in to it. This time, I belong. 

I belong not only to my training team. I belong not only to my running. I belong to me. 

This year I am at the beginning of a new training cycle. There are 108 days until Shamrock Weekend. Last night I sat with our team pacers, and I belong. Tomorrow night I will meet the new faces on our team, and I belong. On Sunday our entire team will be reunited, and I belong. 

Norfolk Harbor. Shamrock Pacers.
I belong in my running shoes. 

I belong on this team. 

I belong as a pacer. 

I belong as just me. 

I believe that this is what I’m meant to be doing, and I have the priveldge of sharing 108 days running beside my pace group. I have 108 days to help my pace group find their belonging too. 

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” ~Brene Brown

I know how I got here. I know how I waded through hot summer days of being stuck. I know how I quit looking backwards and start chasing my dreams forward. I know the panic, the tears, the insecurities and the doubts. But I pushed through, and today, with 108 days until Shamrock, my heart, my head and my running shoes belong. 

“Nothing to Prove. Everything to Share.” ~Eoin Finn

I have no idea what lessons will be hidden over the course of the next 108 days, but I do know my one intention is to share the road with my team. 

#team9ja

Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon

“The more I pushed myself in running, the more I discovered the weaknesses of my mind. These were the same dragons lurking in my life. To compete is to voluntarily come into contact with your dragons so you can learn to slay them.” ~Lauren Fleshman

After watching my husband, my parents, and my son compete in the Norfolk Harbor 5k and 1 mile race on Saturday, I felt completely overwhelmed. All the race nerves I didn’t feel the entire week flooded my body.

Watching my husband set another new PR (and inching closer and closer to my very own5k PR) filled me with motivation. Nearly a year ago, he was overjoyed by 10+ minute miles. On Saturday he ran in the low 8s. Seeing my dad smile as he crossed the finish line for the very first time in a sport he taught me to love validated everything I’ve been chasing. Seeing my moms joy as she ran reminded me why I love this sport. Witnessing the fight in Cole as he out kicked another boy for 2nd place fueled my competitive fire.

befunky-collage

As we left the race on Saturday morning, the motivation and surge of joy was quickly replaced by nerves. On Saturday I was a spectator. On Sunday it was my turn to compete. Having committed to competing (against myself) early this season, I knew there was only one goal to chase. Would Sunday be the day that I finally broke 2 hours in the half marathon distance?

I wanted it.

I was confident.

And when the nerves settled, I was ready.

I read Lauren Fleshman’s quote later in the afternoon on Saturday, and I wanted to shout out “Yes!”. I am competing (against myself) because this is how I always become a better version of myself. It was time to line up beside myself to see what work needed to be done.

There is no point in rehashing all my failed attempts at breaking the 2 hour mark on race day. I can tell you about every race. I can tell you when I fell apart. I can tell you what was going on in my life that left a void in my race day strategy. I can tell you what work I needed to do, and I can tell you what work I’ve done since each of those races. But none of that matters. Not really.

All that mattered was Sunday and the two hours and three minutes and ten seconds it took to get from the start line to the finish line.

I didn’t break two hours, but I won this race. In those 123minutes and nine seconds, I realized I’ve made it. I never let the dragons join me on the race course. When my ankle started hurting during the first mile, I thought “not today”. Today my ankle will not hurt. When my hip buckled at mile 10, I thought “not today”. My hip will not hurt today. When a doubt about my ability crept in, I thought “not today”.

I ran strong.

I felt in control.

I fought back when the wind knocked me over.

When the miles got tough, I kept going.

I finally didn’t fall apart in a half marathon.

I finally fought for my race regardless of time.

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Crossing the finish line was the exact opposite of what it’s intended to be. I am no where near finished. The finish line was my welcome home mat. The finish line delivered so much more than a finish time. I finished with the same group of friends I’ve been running with all season. Our team (J&A Racing and #team9ja) ran strong because we ran together. I finished fully aware that I gave my all to race day. I finished with a renewed sense of confidence in my own ability. I finished eager for so much more.

“A glimpse is enough to initiate the awakening process, which is irreversible.” ~Eckhart Tolle

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And if you’re curious, here is what my race looked like according to numbers:

8:56

9:15

9:12

9:07

9:05

9:02

9:13

9:12

9:20

9:26

9:25

9:22

9:11

Final push 9:01 pace (.4 miles according to my garmin)

Official Time: 2:03:09

Stay tuned. There is so much more to come. 

 

A Rising.

I woke up this morning after very little sleep way before my alarm went off to the news that Donald Trump was elected. I cried. I cried not because Hillary lost, but because  a campaign that we built on fear, hate, and prejudice won. I cried because the man who was elected has a court date set for December for raping a child. I cried because I couldn’t find any words to tell my boys when they woke up.

I sat on Cole’s bed for a long time before he woke up. What was I going to say? As the sun started to peak above the horizon and into his bedroom windows, he spoke before his eyes opened. Who won? Trump did. Trump won. We are all going to die.

As I told him we would be okay, that we would rally, that we would take care of our community and our world, I realized something. I was afraid. Not for me, but for this little boy tiptoeing into puberty because a man who isn’t respected by the world was just elected President, and my little boy’s (who is almost 13) dad is flying a helicopter in a warzone in a location we can’t know because he has dedicated his life to protect our country. My fear became real, and I could see on his face he was worried about his dad.

In the midst of my tears and heartbreak, I needed comfort. I needed something to believe in about the man who was just elected President. I reached out to my cousin Mike who is as opposite as it comes to me in his political views, but is someone I love and respect. I knew we could have a honest dialogue. I knew we could talk without judgment of emotion, without taking personal each others opinions, and I knew he could tell me why he voted for Trump. I love and respect his family. I trust his family. We’ve had so many healthy conversations about life, politics, and raising our families that I know he wants what I want in life. He welcomed my questions. He took time to explain his perspective. I found comfort in his words.

I would describe Mike as a conservative Christian.

Mike would describe me as a liberal hippie.

But for the past few months we engaged in so many healthy conversation about how to raise our families and how to shape our country. Our approach may be different, but our outcome is always the same. We’ve never offended. We’ve never insulted. We’ve never defended. We’ve discussed. Although my heart is sad today and my mind is in disbelief, I am choosing to trust that the rest of this country voted for Donald Trump for the same reason as my cousin. I’m choosing to trust that it is because they want change in politics and not because they believe in the fear and hate based rhetoric of the Trump campaign.

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grateful for family in spite of our differences

As I was getting ready to walk out the door to work this morning, my husband said to me You look pretty today.

Do you know how I responded? I said Great because that’s all I’ll amount to in this country.

And for a moment I believed it. Shame on me. We didn’t elect our first female president yesterday. We didn’t support a campaign that is based on human rights for all humans, but no one will ever determine my value. Only I can decide if I’m worthy, and I know I’m more than just a pretty face.

With my Rise mala around my neck, I drove to work today and one thought kept echoing in my heart. Now is not the time to sit pretty and be quiet. Now is the time to rise. Now is the time to feed my passion, to use my voice, and to push so generations after me don’t have to push so hard. Change never starts at the top. Change starts at the bottom. It starts in our communities and with our families. It starts with the individual.

From our roots we rise
When every single person in this country knows that they have value, we will have succeeded. When we all feel safe, we will have won. When we all know our voices are heard (even if it’s just healthy dialogue with the cousin who appears to be nothing like you), we won’t be threatened by the voice of an other. We will celebrate our diversity. We will change the world.

I’m starting small. I’m starting with my boys, and I’m starting with the girls who are just like me. I reached out to our local YWCA on my lunch break to inquire about working with their Sexual Assault Support Service group (Find your local group through the RAINN website). I found my voice, my courage, and my strength after I was raped. Maybe, just maybe, I can help someone else find their voice too. This year and this election have left my scars and my wounds feeling raw, but I know how to rise above it. I can share that gift.

Changing the energy of our world with one confident worthy individual at a time. I can’t control the next four years, but I can continue the campaign of human rights and equality. I can share my voice.

A rising is coming regardless of if we support today’s outcome or not. Let this election mobilize us. Let it stun us into action. Let us begin. We all have a lot of work to do.

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Rising. Everyday. Always.

Finding my Why all over again

When I signed up for my first race as an adult, my Why for running was an easy one (if you haven’t watch Simon Sinek’s TEDtalk yet, do it!). With every single run I was proving to myself that I could run further than I thought I could. With every run I proved to myself just how capable I was becoming. My self doubt started slipping away.

Then I started running faster.

And I ran further.

My heart became the heart of a runner.

Race days were filled with personal bests. I was fulfilled. Over and over again, I was proving to myself and reminded myself that I was capable.

And then I plateaued as a runner. My times evened out. I conquered the marathon distance. I no longer had to prove to myself I was capable, because I grew to believe I could do hard things.

My Why shifted at the exact same time my life shifted. Nearly four years ago Christian and I walked through some tough times as we said goodbye to his dad and my aunt. Running became my healer. I ran to heal my heart. I ran to put myself back together.

And then I healed as much as one can heal after loss. I became inspired. I ran not to prove I was capable and not to heal a broken heart, but to become the best version of myself. I ran to polish my spirit.

Before I headed off to the Chicago Marathon last fall, I sat across from my running coach Jerry, and he gave me the best advice I could receive for that race. I was a little lost and a little defeated by life, and he knew it. He knew my goal for the race was to fall in love with running and life, and he provided me the advice to do it. 

Kristy the person has to show up to Chicago. Kristy the person has to run this race. Kristy the athlete isn’t invited to Chicago. I need to run light hearted. I need run for fun. I need to fall in love with the marathon all over again. One day Kristy the person and Kristy the athlete can run a race together. Chicago is not that race.

I took his advice to heart, I ran Chicago, and I returned home with a renewed love of running and a renewed love of myself. I was back on track.

After the Chicago Marathon, I was asked to be a pacer for the J&A Racing Training Team. My running focus shifted. I ran for my team. They became my why. Their goals became my motivation.

One year after Chicago, I’ve been looking at my race calendar, and I questioned my Why. Why did I want to run? Did I want to race?

When the J&A Racing Training Team kicked off in August of this year, our coach Ryan kicked off the season with one thought: Why do you run? Cards were distributed. We all listed our motivation to run except for me. I didn’t write anything on the card. It was intentional. I no longer knew my WHY.


To prove I was capable no longer fit me as a runner. I am capable.

To heal a broken heart no longer applied. I am whole.

To find joy in my spirit didn’t motivated me. My life is filled with joy.

To run for my pace group was a shortcut. I was cheated them if I didn’t challenge myself.

WHY do I run today?

My card was left blank.

I didn’t have my answer when the season started, but when the jar full of cards resurfaced at our last training run on Saturday my heart finally knew my answer. I found it this season through my running coach Ryan, through pacing, and by racing the Wicked 10k.  Before the Wicked 10k, I sat down with my journal and I created my vision for race day. I found the words that spoke to me the most, and I made them my own.


I ran my way to my Why at the Wicked 10k. That finish line was the start line of this new chapter.

Why do I run? I run to share my spirit, to share my story, and to share my passion. This is what inspires me to be my best. This is what keeps me fighting when my mind wants to quit. I am alive when I run and when I race. I am capable when I run. I am whole when I run. I am filled with joy when I run. I’m inspired when I pace. Now is my season to share my spirit.

Running always deliveries me to where I  belong. With every race that I have on my calendar over the next year, I have one goal: to run exposed, to let myself be seen, and to share my spirit. It’s what I have always done, but never before have I had a platform for which to share it like I do now. I can use my running to tell my story.

It’s time to enjoy letting my spirit shine!!!!

Running is a gift. Tonight as I ran 3 easy miles after work, I realized just how much I love running. Life is a continuous flow between moments of doubt our capabilities, heartbreak, and joy. Running is my thread that weaves it all together. Running allows me to live my life. Running allows me to share my story. 

Sunset views

 

#iamstrong – one year later

One year ago, I made the best decision I could possibly make as a runner and as a human. I walked into the doors of EVOFIT for the first time to fix my broke body and my broken confidence. I was on a quest for physical strength, but little did I know, it would be my spirit that was strengthened.

One that day I shared the following quote:

“To reach only for that which pleasantly enchants you is the least of imagination, if even imagination at all, by the obvious reality of remaining within your means. The greater of imagination is parallel to risk. It extends beyond your comfort zone or haven, or sense of beauty, or what you personally believe suits you in exploration of what may not.” – Criss Jami

Sunrise. One year ago.
Sunrise. One year ago.

It was time to move beyond my comfort zone. I knew nothing about going to the gym. I knew nothing about lifting weights or doing burpees or pull-ups or rowing. I only knew how to run. I am a runner. It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. After the Chicago Marathon, my body felt weak. Running wasn’t sustaining me anymore, and I wasn’t sustaining my body for running. My well had run dry. I had asked too much of my body without giving it anything in return.

My running coach Jerry practically pushed me in the door, but today you’d have to drag me out. My gym, Evofit, has changed my perception of myself, my body, and my life. It’s given me more than I ever imagined.

Today my body is strong.

I am strong.

My husband has followed me down this path. It’s transformed his life and our marriage. My parents have joined, and I am watching it transform their lives too.

Physically lifting weights has emotionally lifted my spirit, my confidence, and my approach to life. It’s given me focus. It’s given me a family.

Tuesday after work I walked through the doors of Evofit ready to tackle the day’s workout. The nervous and self-doubt that followed me in that same door a year ago feel like a lifetime ago. I was ready to tackle whatever workout was listed on the board.

The workout of the day:

5×5 power cleans

Then 4 rounds of 200m run, 5 hanging cleans, 10 wallballs, 12 pushups, 15 hallow rocks.

Power cleans have become one of my favorite workouts. It was one of the first workouts where I surprised myself. Back in April the workout was powercleans 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 increasing weight with each round. I ended with one rep of 68 pounds. It took several attempts, but I finally did it. My confidence grew. This week I did 5×5 with 63 pounds for the whole workout.

As much as I love knowing that I can lift heavier weight with each visit to Evofit, it’s my approach to the workout that I appreciate the most. I used to be scared. I used to look at the workout and doubt myself. I was timid. I used the lowest weight afraid anything more would be too much. Today I like a challenge. I’m okay with getting to the point where I have nothing left to give. I enjoy finding my edge because I know nothing bad will happen when I get to the spot.

I’m finally confident with being uncomfortable. This weekends Wicked 10k was proof that I can do hard things and finish with a smile.

The ego says, ‘I shouldn’t have to suffer,’ and that thought makes you suffer so much more. It is a distortion of the truth, which is always paradoxical. The truth is that you need to say yes to suffering before you can transcend it.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Over the past year, I’ve found my version of strong. I have defined #iamstrong for myself, and today I believe those words. One year ago, I wanted to feel strong. Today I not only feel it, but I know that my strength is so much more than muscle, pounds lifted, and pace per mile. My strength comes from my core, and nothing can take that away.

My evofit family

 

 

Once upon a Wicked….

In every fairytale there is a moral of the story. Tucked between “once upon a time” and “happily ever after” is a life lesson waiting to be learned. This weekend was no exception. Tucked between the Wicked 10k and the Monster Mile was a moral to race day that led to happily ever after. Perhaps life really is a fairytale.

The anticipation leading into race weekend was intense at times, but I had a race plan. I was feeling confident. My family was ready. All four of us would be competing again. Christian and I ran the Wicked 10k. The boys ran the Monster Mile.

Once upon a time, it was the night before race day…

As bedtime neared on Friday night, I took a mental stumble. A few clicks on Facebook, and I found myself facing details from my past that shook me once again. It happened fast, and I felt my body fill with panic. I knew it was time to go to bed before my emotions got the best of me. My sleep was broken at best. Dreams kept me awake. Anticipation of racing left me tossing and turning.

It’s felt like forever since I’ve toed the light hoping to fight.

Morning preparations and the drive to the race also left me tripping over myself mentally. My race felt doomed.

A few deep inhales and intentional exhales cleared my mind. I was ready. Christian and I went our separate ways. It was time to race. It was time to run forward.


The race details…

I lined up in Corral 1 surround by friends. Our pack of wolves was ready to run. I was lucky enough to have two Steves promise to get me to the finish line fighting. They stuck by my side the entire race, and they made sure I fought. Before the race started, Steve #1 stole my garmin. I was running blind. All I had to do was follow Steve #1 and Steve #2.

Mile 1 felt fast. My legs felt heavy.

Mile 2 I found my sweet spot: working hard but feeling confident.

Mile 3 I focused on being entertained by the costumes in the crowd. (Steve #1 may have yelled QUIT THINKING just as I was getting lost in my own brain.)

Mile 4 lasted forever.

Mile 5 hurt incredibly bad.

Mile 6 took every ounce I had to keep going.

The final .2 I opened up and finally trusted Steve #2 that I had more to give. I should have listened sooner. I had maybe another ounce to give.

Steve #1 and Steve #2

I crossed the finish line exhausted, aching, and so so proud. I’ve never run a race that hurt from step one to the finish line the way this race hurt (in a really really good way). I’ve never sat on my edge for an entire race. I’ve never trusted my body so much. I’ve never allowed myself to rely on people to show me my strength. I’ve never fought for my potential as much as Saturday.

 

Terrible photo but I kind of love it

Moral of the story: If you want to be strong, surround yourself with strong people. Life is a mental game, and if you surround yourself with people who believe in your strength as much as you, everything is possible if you’re willing to fight for it.

 

Shortly after I crossed the finish line, my husband crossed the line far faster than I had expected. He soared through his first ever 10k (the longest distance he’s ever run) in a time I only dreamed of running just a few years ago. We I first met Christian, he told me he couldn’t run because it hurt his knees. A few years later, he started running. He told me he wasn’t a runner because he only ran for beer. This weekend he not only ran, he raced and crossed the finish line 56:39 (9:07 pace). Sounds like he’s a runner to me!

After our 10k, we were joined by our boys who individually ran their own amazing race in the Monster Mile. Cole was the second runner to cross the finish line, and Chet ran nearly the entire mile. Both boys soared.

wickedcollage
#mauteornice

 

The rest of the day was a celebration of this new running family that seems to be thriving more and more each day as we tackle races together. Our happily ever after may have a pair of running shoes attached to it.

Three more weeks until we get to do it again at the Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon Race Weekend.

(And for you folks that like numbers, my Splits: 8:29, 8:42, 8:36, 8:41, 8:36, 8:37, 8:04 final push. Official finish time: 53:45, 8:39 pace)

#trainjanda

Running Forward

I want nothing more than to conquer the race course. I want to push past the pain and the discomfort of running hard. I want to overcome the voice in my head that begs me to find my comfort zone.

I want to thrive.

This week is a race week for me. The Wicked 10k is a mental tune up for the races that are on my radar over the next six months. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m afraid on race day I won’t be enough. These fears have haunted me for at least three years. In some capacity they have haunted me my whole life.

The first time I failed to run a sub 2 hour half marathon, my confidence was rocked. It was the first time since I started running as an adult that I fell terribly short of my race goal. It was the first time I didn’t have the satisfaction of success. If you look at my race history, 2013 is a year filled with PRs and heartbreaks; thriving and falling short.

The truth is I’ve been fighting myself ever since I ran that failed sub-2 race in 2013. It’s been a tug of war battle between comfort and courage. I’ve beat myself up for not conquering courage. I’ve beat myself up for chosing comfort one too many times.

The truth is the tug of war battle between comfort and courage lasts a lifetime. You don’t choose courage once, and it automatically becomes your mindset. With every choice you make, you are faced with a decision. Will I choose comfort or courage today? Will I choose comfort or courage during this race?

I’m done beating myself up. By focusing on a race from 2013, I’ve used all my mental energy trying to overcome a race that didn’t happen. I’ve been chasing a race clock that exists in the past. I’ve been trying to prove that I’m better than, stronger than, and faster than the girl who raced that year. I’ve been running backwards.

That girl isn’t here today. I am here. I am here with my whole heart. I am here as more than enough. I am here right now in this present moment. I am strong. I am unbreakable. I am enough. But I’ve been racing in the past. I haven’t been present.

I’ve been flirting with this lesson all year. This year has been a year of tremendous growth. It’s been a year of letting go and creating new. It has been a year of healing and living.

#team9ja. Stronger together.

On Friday I asked my coach for a race plan. I needed something tangible to wrap my head around to ease my fears. He delivered this life-lesson wrapped up in a simple sentence: I wouldn’t focus on your 2013 race as that seems like a lot of pressure. I’m not sure if he realized the magnitude of the message he just delivered, but he just captured the last three years of my racing (and perhaps life) in one sentence. I’ve been chasing my dreams backwards.

It’s time to chase all my dreams forward. It’s time to run for today. It’s time to show up at the start line knowing that today I am strong, I am unbreakable, and I am enough.

“Expire the past, inspire the present” ~my very own dear friend Enrica

I will always face the decision of choosing between comfort and courage. This weekend I will choose courage. This weekend I will race. This weekend the race clock will be a reflection of one day and one race, but it will be a celebration of continued growth in life. It will be a celebration of team and new dreams.

This season of running is the start of something new! This year I am thriving.

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Overcoming Darkness

“…the morning with the whole day waiting, full of promise, the night of quiet, of no expectations, of rest. And the certainty of home, the one I live in, and the one that lives in me.”

~Karen Hesse

I have been afraid to run since the early morning hours have become filled with darkness. I’ve felt unsettle, unsure, and scared. Running in the dark isn’t new to me. I’ve spent many seasons logging most of my miles before sunrise or after sunset, but this season has felt different.

I am certain my new found fear has nothing to do with the dark. I am certain it’s a reflection of my uncertainty in my ability to race. It’s a lack of confidence to take ownership of my goals.

Last weekend I turned a corner. When my heart finally committed to racing, to going for it, my head followed. It was time to silence my fears, and the obvious place to start was running before sunrise.

Last Wednesday I was determined to run my tempo run before work. I woke up. I got ready. I stood at the door paralyzed. I didn’t feel confident in my route or the darkness. Mind over matter wasn’t working. I was scared. I abandoned my running plans.

“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave.”

~Cheryl Strayed

I had to rewrite my story.

Rewriting isn’t always an easy process. I had to start with the basics. I found two team members and neighbors who run routes near me in the early morning hours. I asked where they ran. I asked if they feel safe. They both reassured me that the main roads are well-lit and safe.

Obstacle #1 conquered. A new-to-me route was found.

This morning I was ready to test out the new route, but I had to commit. I had to not hit snooze. I had to get out of bed. I told anyone who would listen. I was getting up, and I was conquering speedwork. My cousin became my sounding board. He was also waking up early to tackle his day. We raced to see who could be the first one to text when we woke up.

Obstacle #2 conquered. I was out of bed ready to run.

As I left my neighborhood, I was focused. I had a mission. Fear was still there, but it wasn’t driving my morning. It took a backseat to all the other narratives I had created for the morning.

This morning I conquered my workout. I took a while to relax. It took a while to wake up my body.  It took a while to find ease in my running, but I got there. I beat the voice that said the dark was scary. I beat the voice that told me it was impossible to run six more intervals when the first two felt nearly impossible.  Half way through the workout, I turned off the voice that was tired, hungry and thirsty. I focused on what felt good. I found beauty in the stars and the moon. The streets came to life with people starting their day, and I let it fuel me. I finished my run with my fastest split wishing there was more time before work to keep going. I finished the workout finding beauty in the darkness.

“I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And I gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning, and sang.”

~Mary Oliver

I’ve been chasing the finish line and the race clock for so long that I forgot. I forgot about all the beauty that happens when you conquer something. There are no more “new distances” for me to achieve. I’ve run as far as I want to run, but there are still so many successes along the path to race day. I forgot. I forgot that it’s very rarely the finish line that brings the satisfaction. It’s the successes leading up to race day that fuel the race.

If I’m not committed to racing, if I’m not actively making fear ride in the backseat, I’m cheating myself out of the fulfillment I get from running (and life). I need to risk failing in order to succeed. I needed to be all in before I could whole heartedly love this journey.

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Enjoy the Ride

 

Enough is Enough

On Election Day in 1920, millions of American women exercised their right to vote for the first time. It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right, and the campaign was not easy: Disagreements over strategy threatened to cripple the movement more than once. But on August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. ~History.com

Nearly 100 years later the fight continues. You don’t have to look far for an example of women being treated as less than. The news and our everyday lives are riddled with examples of women being viewed and treated as less than human. I wonder how many women can say they have never experienced being made to feel unequal? I wonder how many women can say they have never felt violated?

Because activists and reformers fought for 100 years to declare that all women deserve the rights and responsibilities of citizenship like men, I believed in my voice when I was eighteen years old. Even when my pleas to stop weren’t heard, I believed my voice mattered. I believed in my right to protection when I was raped. I called the police. I filled charges. When the court system failed me, I fought hard to hold on to my voice. It slipped away.

Year after year my voice slipped away. I wanted to bury my past. I wanted to pretend it never happened. I was silenced.

This summer a very brave girl came forward and shared her voice with the world when her rapist was sent to prison for three months in order to protect his future. Her words cracked me wide open, and my story of rape came spilling out. Because of her strength, I found my strength. Her voice gave me my  voice back. I will never be silent again.

On Election Day in 2016, we have a choice to make. We aren’t voting for the constitution to be ratified. We are voting to continue the movement. We are voting for forward progress for humanity. We are voting for the millions of American women who showed up in 1920 to exercise their right to vote for the first time. We are voting for every girl who has been made to feel less than and whose body has been abused. We are voting for every boy who has been raised to be good and honest.

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Hearts of Gold

 

Finding our voice as women and as Americans gave a voice to every other minority group in American. This led to equal rights for even more Americans. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. In 1965, African Americans were legally granted the right to vote. In June 2015, same sex marriages were legalized. Our country is better because of it. We are gaining momentum. We are one day and one step closer to living in a world where every single person is valued.

But we are being challenged.

It’s time we use our voice. There is no better way to silence the Donald Trumps of the world than by putting a woman into the position of power that they seek.

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Never again will my voice not matter

 

For one hundred years, activists and reformers fought for equal rights for women. They were met with disagreements over the strategy to make this possible that nearly crippled the movement. One hundred years later, we are faced with another choice. We can be crippled by disagreements over the strategy on how to continue to grow our country into a place where everyone’s voice matters and every person has value, or we can use our voice to say no.

No, I will not let a system silence my voice.

No, I will not someone represent my country that doesn’t believe that others have basic fundamental human rights.

No, I will not let our country slip backwards.

We have everything we need to stop this madness. You see, while our mothers and grandmothers were often powerless to change their circumstances, today, we as women have all the power we need to determine the outcome of this election.

We have knowledge. We have a voice. We have a vote. And on November the 8th, we as women, we as Americans, we as decent human beings can come together and declare that enough is enough, and we do not tolerate this kind of behavior in this country. ~Michelle Obama

Our system may be flawed, but our roots are strong. At our root, we are country that believes in freedom for all individuals. On November 8, 2016, I will be using my voice in the hope that it does what our country does best. It gives strength to others.

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There is no better lesson to teach our youth than to learn from our mistakes

 

If you haven’t heard or read Michelle Obama’s words, please read them all here.