40 Days of Fitness

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I have blogged! I am not sure where June went, but I do know summer is going much too quickly. We will be back in school in no time. I love my job, but I have so many projects left to complete this summer that I need more time.

As many of you know, on Memorial Day I began the Runner’s World 40-Day Running Streak, and have run every day for the past 39 days. Tomorrow I will run a 5K with my daughter and husband, wrapping up the running streak. I hadn’t planned to run any races this summer, but my oldest daughter is just getting back to running after the birth of her second son, and wanted to run this race before she moves next week. I haven’t run a 5k in a year and a half. Last year I was plagued with injury all year, and the only race I’ve done this year was a half marathon. I plan to run the race with Morgan to help her get through since she hasn’t run three miles yet. I thought it would be a great way to end my running streak.

I have found this streak to be very motivating and empowering. I had never run more than maybe seven days in a row, and that was maybe once or twice. I had been running three or four days a week, and cross-training with Tabata and HIIT three days. I wasn’t really certain if I would even be able to run 40 days in a row, but I wanted to try it because I wanted to challenge myself. The challenge only required that we run at least a mile a day, and on busy days or days that I normally wouldn’t run, I would only run one mile, but I ran. I tried to run fast (old-lady fast) on those days so that I could improve my speed. I didn’t have many days that I dreaded the run; most of the time I looked forward to it. Even on those few days I dreaded it, once I finished I was so glad I had gone.

Yesterday morning, while on a three-miler, I started thinking about how much I’ve enjoyed this challenge, and how proud I felt because I had stuck with it. In the end, I will get nothing – not even a shirt or a pat on the back. I did this just for my own satisfaction, and it has been well-worth the effort. I wanted to challenge others to step out of their comfort zones; I wanted my friends to feel the same sense of accomplishment I was feeling. My mind started spinning…We could do a Perry County 40-day running challenge…but a lot of my friends can’t run everyday…and what about those who don’t run?…We could do a walk/run challenge….(By this point I was home and in the shower) Or…We’ll just do a fitness challenge so people can do any type of exercise they choose…Yes!!…And they can challenge their friends…and why limit it to Perry County when most of the communication will be online?…I can post the challenge on Facebook and see if anyone is interested. By the time I got out of the shower, I had a plan, and within 30 minutes it was online and a few friends had signed up. Since this is a big commitment, I decided participants should have the opportunity to get a super-cool shirt for their efforts, so I began looking and designs. Then I thought it would be fun to have a celebration at the end, so we will meet at our new establishment, The Pour Haus, following the completion of the challenge. And in case you are wondering, my mind usually works like this (Can you imagine how my husband feels!); sometimes my ideas work out well; sometimes they suck.

As of this writing, 100 people have signed up for commit to 40 Days of Fitness. This is a three-part challenge: 1) Commit to exercise every day for 40 days. 2) Challenge a friend to also commit. 3) During the 40 days, try something you’ve never tried before (Zumba, yoga, Spinning, Pilates, running, cycling, kayaking, etc). I plan to try kayaking. One never knows where this can lead. Ideally, by exercising every day for 40 days, we will create healthier habits. Some parents have signed up their children, which is awesome. Because I work with kids, I see the evidence of unhealthy habits that are negatively impacting our kids. We have to get our kids moving again, and tear them away from the video games. When I was a kid, we played outside all summer. When my girls were young, the neighborhood kids rode bikes, played baseball, swam, and just played. When I am out running or walking, I don’t see many kids outside, and that makes me sad. What are they doing? We need to challenge our children. Childhood obesity is a serious problem, so we need to model healthy habits, make fitness fun, and let kids know that their health matters.

I am really excited to see how this works out (If you haven’t done the math, since I am starting this challenge the same day I finish the previous challenge, I will be running 79 days in a row! I hope I can complete this second challenge). If you are interested in joining the 40 Days of Fitness, here is the link:


Race Shirts

One of the great things about running races is the free t-shirt. Depending upon the race, runners could receive a relatively cheap cotton t-shirt, a dry-fit shirt (that are always in men’s sizes and always big), a long-sleeved t-shirt (my personal fave), or, if one runs a full marathon (which I won’t), a long-sleeved, dry-fit shirt – the epitome of running shirts. One of my spring break goals was to clean out my drawers. Yes, while friends are lounging on beaches in the US and abroad, I was home cleaning my drawers. Anyway, race shirts.

I have over 25 race shirts. I have many other t-shirts that also have some kind of meaning. I really don’t need 40 t-shirts, but there are so many I can’t bear to part with. My daughter suggested I have a quilt made, which I might actually do someday. As I went through my race shirts today, and I pondered tossing some, I was bombarded with memories of races gone by.

There’s the light blue VUJC shirt…that was my very first race ever. It’s a keeper. I remembered how hot it was that day, and that the final 100 yards were all uphill. And I remembered how incredible it felt to cross the finish line. And then there was the Strassenfest shirt. That was my third race, and I remember the end of that race: a lady, whom I presumed was about my age, came up to pass me in the final stretch, and I sprinted to the end to beat her. I was so proud of myself for beating her…until she came up and thanked me for pushing her. Talk about a dose of humility!

I also have my race shirt from Las Vegas. How could I toss that? That’s the race for which Gary and I got up at the crack of dawn, paid an absurd amount for a taxi ride to the race, and ran before my family even crawled out of bed. I will never forget running and seeing the beautiful view of the mountains in the back ground. I have my Turkey Run shirt from this past Thanksgiving. I love that shirt. I ran a really good race that day. My pace was superwoman fast for me, and I placed third in my age group. I have a little bitty trophy for that effort, but I still can’t let go of that shirt. I have another shirt from an Owensboro race. That was my first 10K; that shirt stays. And I have the gray shirt with strawberries on it. That was quite a race! It was down in Kentucky, and it was the first race for my daughter, Morgan. It was also the race that a woman – again, about my age – attempted to pass me as we neared the finish line. It ticked me off. She was absolutely not going to pass me. She didn’t. I kicked her butt. She, however, didn’t thank me. I really am not that hateful; I just get a wee bit competitive at the end of races. If I have been in front of someone for 3 or 6 or 13 miles, I do not want her to pass me at the end.

I still have my shirt from my first half marathon. How can I just take it to Goodwill? I won’t. I love that shirt. It represents a dream that actually came true. It represents months of training. It represents when my friend Jackie and I crossed the finish line hand-in-hand. I can’t even get rid of the shirt from a little race in Rockport that didn’t go so well. When I pulled out that shirt, I remembered the hip injury that caused me to walk some of that race. It was terrible. But that shirt also reminds me that most injuries aren’t forever, because there are lots of shirts that came after that one. I also kept my Race for the Cure shirts. Those races are so very meaningful. They aren’t about racing; they’re about remembering those we’ve lost, and honoring those who survived.

I won’t bore you with every story behind every shirt. Until I get a quilt made. Then I’ll show you my quilt, and tell you every single story. It’s my story. It’s the journey I’ve been on the past four years. And I was blessed today to get to remember the journey, and what a wonderful time it has been. I hope to continue collecting shirts for many years to come.


Joyce Running 2I have been thinking about running lately.  I realize that sounds odd given I run on a regular basis, but I have some new friends who want to begin running, and are working to build up their endurance on the treadmill and elliptical in an effort to meet their goals.  I am so excited for them because I know what a difference running has made in my life.  I want them to know what a difference running will make for them.

Obviously, the first thing running did for me was improve my health.  I was able to lose weight that I had gained over the years (and I continued to blame on babies even though my youngest was 12 at that time).  I have always had issues with high cholesterol, which is hereditary.  Because my father died at 42, getting my cholesterol down down and making my heart stronger was a priority.  When I began running, it was terrible.  As I ran, I would think about how much I hated it.  I kept thinking I needed to find another form of exercise.  But when I finished a run, no matter how short or slow, I felt incredible.  I had run!  So I kept at it.  My friend Jackie began to run with me, and together we gradually built up mileage.  Gary and I began to run 5Ks, which is something I never dreamed possible.  I remember the moment that I knew running had made a major difference in my health.  I was scheduled for surgery, and because of my family history of heart disease, I had to have an EKG beforehand.  As the technician was reading the results, she asked if I was a runner.  I was certainly proud to say yes!  She said she could tell because my heartrate was low, which is typical for runners.

Running provided a much-needed stress relief.  I can literally leave the house in a horrible mood, go out for a run, and come home with a completely different attitude.  Things that were bugging me before I left, seemed trivial after a run.  When I am worried about a student, or trying to figure out how to reach a kid, I often go for a run to think things through.  When my nephew died unexpectedly, his sister and I ran.  It was time for us to talk about what was going on, and how we felt about everything.  I run when I am worried, stressed, angry, sad.  I run when I am happy, excited, content, calm.   Running can turn around a bad mood, or enhance a good mood.

Running has deepened my friendships, and given me new and amazing friends.  As I mentioned, Jackie and I began together, and eventually her sister Kassi joined us.  The three of us grew up together, and have had many adventures (many won’t ever be discussed in this blog), and now as middle-aged moms, we are still sharing adventures.  Most of my best and most memorable runs have been with Jackie and Kassi.  We have run in rain, thunderstorms (not smart), snow, and unbearable heat.  We have laughed, cried, and cheered.  I have loved these ladies for 35 years, and running has brought us even closer together.   I have also made new friends through running.  Jennifer has become very near and dear to me.  Kim has encouraged and counseled me as I  struggled to add mileage.  Kathy has amazed me by quickly building her mileage and speed.  I am involved with an incredible group of people who will be running their first half marathon next month.  Although it started as my coaching them, they have really done it all on their own, and according to their training runs, they will all be waiting for me at the finish line!  They have stepped up and trained hard, and I can’t wait to share their moment with them.

Running has given me confidence in all areas of my life.  If I can set a goal to run 13.1 miles, and can work to achieve that goal, I know that I can set goals in other areas of my life, and I can achieve those goals.  I have never been an athlete, not even close, so to know that I can run a race and finish in the top 25% is huge.  Heck, just finishing a race is huge!  I began running when I turned 42.  I am a grandmother.  I can run 13.1 miles.

Running has given my husband and me another common love.  We might not run together, but we go to races together, and we support one another.  He has encouraged me, and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.  We are supportive of one another’s training schedules.  We understand when the other has an injury, and celebrate one another’s great runs.  Together, we have worked to inspire our children to take care of their health now, rather than waiting until later in life like we did.  Without Gary’s love and support, I would not be a runner.

Running has led to other forms of exercise.  I began attending Zumba classes about two years ago.  My friend Tracey invited us to go with her, and I have been hooked ever since.  After about a year of attending classes, I became certified to instruct.  I now teach four classes a week, which has enriched my life so much.  Each class is different, and I love each group of ladies.  I have ages 7 to 77 in class.  Gary and I also coach a Biggest Loser team, which has been an awesome experience.  We have made some wonderful friends, and have been thrilled to see them meet goals.  The same year we began running, we purchased bikes.  We biked quite a bit that first year, but then running took over.  We bike on occasion, but don’t have time to bike as often as we’d like.  We have also become involved with Everbody’s Fitness.  Every time I step foot in the door, I am inspired by the members.

Although running is the best thing I have ever done for myself, it isn’t without some negatives.  Injuries are part of running.  I have had hip trouble on and off over the years.   Usually a couple trips to the chiropractic takes care of that issue.  Now I am battling knee pain, and will see an orthopedic doctor tomorrow.  Because running is such an important part of my life, when I can’t run, I am grouchy.  Really, really grouchy.  It frustrates me that I am trying to do something healthy, and I can’t.  It frustrates me to see people out running, and I can’t.  It frustrates me when the weather is perfect, I have time to run, and I can’t.  Running is who I am.  Recently, I was thinking about how much time our family spends on fitness.  If we didn’t spend that time exercising, I am certain my house would be cleaner, laundry would be caught up, and I would cook meals on a regular basis.  But I would also be a different person, one who lacks confidence, one who gets grumpy easily, one who is out of shape.

If you have ever considered adding running to your exercise regimine, try it.  It will be extremely difficult, and you will probably hate it.  I hated it for months.  Eventually, though, you will find a confidence you never knew existed.  You will make friends, and have a community of support that will amaze you.  You will be encouraging others to join you because it has improved your life.   Find a running mentor; you will have lots of questions, and the support will be invaluable.  If running isn’t for you, find a workout that is.  Find something you love, learn everything you can about it, and ask others to join you.  You won’t regret it.

Running a 5k with daughter – check!

Another goal met!

About a year ago, I began to create a bucket list.  I had always had some ideas, but hadn’t taken the time to write them down.  I believe that we are more likely to meet our goals and go after our dreams if we actually put them in writing.  Some of the items on my list that I have already checked off include earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, ziplining, running a half marathon, and publishing a book.  I have many items left such as visiting Salzburg, Austria, having an in-ground pool, learning to swim well, and meeting some cousins that I haven’t seen since we were little.

One of the goals on my list was to run a 5k with a daughter.  I didn’t specify which daughter because I really didn’t know whom I could convince to run with me.  When Gary and I began running, one of our objectives was to model a healthy activity for the kids.  They just thought we had lost our minds.  None of the girls had any interest in running.  Gary’s son Bryce already runs (and skis, climbs mountains, and a plethora of other super-challenging activities), and Tamara began running last fall.  My girls still weren’t convinced that running could actually be rewarding.  Morgan actually detested most any exercise that didn’t involve a yellow ball and racquet.  After giving birth to her son and trying to get back to pre-pregnancy form, she began exercising.  Her boyfriend is in the army, and is into all types of exercise, particularly crossfit, so she had support at home.  After the first of the year, she decided to try running.

Morgan lives in a rural area in Louisiana, and her road is rather narrow – not ideal for running.  She kept at it and gradually began adding some distance.  When she could run three miles, she decided she wanted to run a 5k when she was home for Memorial Day weekend.  I looked online for a race, but could find nothing in the area.  She looked online, and found the Strawberry Fest 5k in Beaver Dam, Kentucky, which is about an hour and twenty minutes from here.  We registered.  Early Saturday morning, Gary, Kyle, Morgan, and I took off for our first race together.  Bethany came along to care for Layne while we ran.

I didn’t know if I should stick with Morgan through the race, or run my race and cheer for her at the finish line.  After talking with her, we decided that I would run ahead and see what I could do.  I think it would have made Morgan feel pressured if I ran with her, and she said she can’t talk while running anyway.  She was clearly nervous while we waited for the race to get started.  I remember my first race; I had no idea what it would be like.  I wondered if I would finish, if I would be last, if I would puke.  I finished; I wasn’t last; I didn’t puke.  Morgan had the same thoughts running through her mind.

It was finally time to line up.  The four of us wished one another well, and lined up.  Despite it being 8:00 am, it was already hot and humid.  Doesn’t it just figure that the weekend Morgan is to run her first race, we have record temps?  After some last minute instructions, we were off.  And my hip hurt.  I occasionally have trouble with my right hip, so this was not unusual, just uncomfortable.  After about a mile, it felt better.  I had no major goal for this race; I haven’t been running fast, so I knew I would not PR.  I spent most of my time wondering how Morgan was doing.  As her mom, I so badly wanted her to feel good about her run.

I felt pretty good about my pace as I rounded the last corner.  I am pretty good at maintaining a steady pace, and though I was not fast, I wasn’t too slow either.  When I was about 20 feet from the finish line, I felt someone coming up to pass me.  I said (probably a bit too loudly), “NO WAY!”, and took off.  I was NOT getting passed at the finish line!  And I didn’t.  Lest you think I am exaggerating, I included a picture:

You are NOT passing me, Lady!

The picture is a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea!  I am not sure why my arm looks so buff; it isn’t.  It’s actually getting pretty flabby.  Notice my competitor is younger, taller, and more athletic – but I nudged her out at the finish.  Ahh…sweet victory!

I crossed the finish line, but am not certain of my exact time.  It was something over 28 minutes.  I went to a spot to regain my composure and to make sure I wasn’t going to puke.  Then it was time to watch for Morgan (Kyle had finished long before I).  Bethany, Layne, and I waited for Morgan to come around the final corner.  I was so proud as I watched her approach the finish line.  She was going to do it!  I knew that she would have such an amazing feeling accomplishment, and isn’t that what we all want for our children?  I believe her time was just over 31 minutes, which is outstanding.  I think she will be more apt to stick with running after experiencing a race.  It is so wonderful to see people of all ages, shapes, and sizes running races.  It is inspiring to be part of strangers meeting their goals.  Morgan didn’t have to walk and she wasn’t last – not even close.  She was very proud of her run, and is ready to sign up for more races.  Mission accomplished!

I think I will add another entry to my bucket list:  Run a half marathon with a daughter.  Morgan will do it.  Who knows, maybe I should just put ‘Run a half marathon with my daughters’.  Or I could really stretch it and put ‘Gary and I will run a half marathon with all five kids’.  Now that would be an accomplishment!

The day after the Strawberry race, my family got together at my sister’s house.  Morgan and I decided it would be really cool if we all wore our race shirts.  Gary and Kyle did not think it would be cool.  They wore them anyway.

Gary, Joyce, Morgan, and Kyle

What is on your bucket list?  Write it down and make it happen!  My list is a work in progress; as I think of something I want to accomplish, I write it down, then I think about what I need to do to make it happen.  I hope when I am 80, I still have goals and dreams – they make life so much more fun!