Over 50 and Training for a Mini

I haven’t blogged about running in quite some time, and there is actually a reason for that. Throughout the winter, I was a slacker. Like most slackers, I have a host of excuses, and some pretty valid reasons. Both my brother and my mother became ill at the same time. Trust me – I have told them how much I appreciate their timing. My brother was in the hospital an hour away for 27 days, in a rehabilitation facility for 10 days, and then he lived with us for four months. My mother hasn’t been hospitalized, but has had numerous doctor appointments, also an hour away, and I was her transportation and her advocate. I was exhausted, and despite the fact that exercise probably would have done my emotional state some good, my time was limited.

Before all of this, I had quit teaching Tabata Bootcamp classes at the gym. After four years of early morning classes, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Two mornings each week of getting up at 4:30 seemed to set the tone for the whole week, and packing all of my gear so I could get ready for work in the locker room became tedious. I had no idea what Tabata had done for my body until I was no longer doing it. Although I don’t really weigh any more, I have lost all muscle tone, and my abs are now buried under a roll of flab. I have back fat that hangs over my sports bra, and flabby arms. And my clothes no longer fit.

About a month ago, I had a dressing-room meltdown – at a most inopportune time. My husband and I had taken a romantic weekend away, and had a great time – until my meltdown. I decided to try on dresses at Banana Republic for my daughter’s upcoming graduation from college. Last kid – Mom deserves a new dress. I knew my clothes had been snug, so I grabbed a size larger than I had been wearing. Still didn’t fit. Not even close. And everything looked awful and seemed to accentuate my gut. I cussed. I fought back tears the rest of the day. I was grouchy. My husband knew not to say much, so his only response was “I guess we aren’t going to the Loft?” Hell, no, we aren’t. And that day I decided I had to make some changes. I had to take time for myself, and apparently I needed to stop eating.

I had registered for the Indy 500 Mini back in the fall, but because I hadn’t really run much all winter, my running sucked. I had pretty much decided I wasn’t going to run the race. But then I had my meltdown, and decided that I needed to run; I needed incentive to get out and train. The last few half marathons I ran were for other people. I ran my nieces’ first half marathons with them, and my daughter’s with her, and I ran the St. Jude Half with my friends. I needed to run the 500 just for me. After months of caring for others, it was time to care for myself.

I began to make exercise a priority again, but gosh, it was so much more difficult. I had not stopped running over the winter, but had run less. As I tried to increase my miles, I realized I was much slower than I had been, though I had never been very fast. I began to wonder if at 51, I should just accept that I am going to gain some weight and get flabby, and if I should just be glad I can run, and not worry about my pace. That’s all pretty difficult to accept. And I’m pretty stubborn.

So it began. Long runs on the weekends, and more consistent running during the week. My long runs have been less than impressive, partly due to the extended winter, and partly due to my being out of shape and slightly lazy. I have continued to push through, and this past weekend I ran 11 miles – without walking! That was a huge boost to my confidence. It was really slow, about an 10:53 pace, but I didn’t stop, and I felt great after. This will be my 13th half marathon, and I have run anywhere from a 9:04 pace to a 10:35 pace. I’d like to run around a 10:10 pace, but I would have to knock a lot of time off, and I should probably focus on just finishing without injury. A 9:04 pace? That was the one time I ran a half in under two hours, and it will be my only time. I still don’t know how I pulled that off, though I remember I had to go to the bathroom most of the race, so that might have contributed to my speedy time.

As I was running my 11-miler, I listened to a podcast to occupy my mind. When I train alone, I listen to podcasts rather than music. I’ve found it keeps me more entertained, and I focus less on minor discomforts. I had chosen the “Another Mother Runner” podcast. I’ve read Sarah’s and Dimity’s books and blogs, and have followed their podcast for a long time. I enjoy their honest, down-to-earth look at running, and have learned a lot from them.

As I was running and listening, I thought about how many of their topics don’t apply to me as much since my kids are grown. They talk a lot about juggling raising kids and working in runs. I am busy with teaching and extra-curriculars, but it isn’t a big deal for me to find time to run. I find my challenges have more to do with aging at this point in my life. I wish there were a podcast for runners who share those challenges, and even considered started some type of social media group or webpage for ‘older’ female runners. I’ve seen pages for females who are mother runners, runners who went from being over-weight to fit, runners who are in phenomenal shape and share workouts and nutrition information – everything but over-50 females who are now facing empty nests, menopause, grandkids, and aging parents.

So where do I go from here? I don’t know how to start a podcast, and don’t know that I have time to add something else to my schedule, but I’d consider it. I could start a Facebook group, but how do I get others interested? This blog is already up and running; I just need to write more often. I’ve been writing, but not for the blog. If you are a middle-aged female runner, share your thoughts. What would you like to see? What type of format would you be most likely to follow? Please share this with your friends, and let’s get the conversation started. How can we best reach and encourage middle-aged women who run?

The 500 Mini is in less than two weeks. No matter the outcome, I plan to have a fantastic weekend. My husband and I are going to Indy the day before, staying in one of the best hotels in downtown Indy, and we have tickets for Wicked for that night. I want to enjoy the moments without worrying about the finish. I want to take in the views and admire each step as we run around the 500 track. I want to embrace that I have legs that will carry me 13.1 miles.

Again, please give me your feedback, and share this post. Thanks for reading!

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Running Newbies

Friday evening, I needed to do a long run, and I had to do it by myself. Most of my running friends would be running the Kentucky Derby Half or Full Marathon the next morning; I would not. I had accompany a group of students to Academic Bowl, so I had to opt out of the race. Given the rainy weather that morning and that my team placed 2nd, I was happy to be at the academic competition.

After working all day, I didn’t really feel like listening to music as I ran, and didn’t really want to listen to a podcast, which is usually what gets me through solo runs, so I had plenty of time to think. I spent some time thinking about…running. I thought about what advice I would give new runners, even though some days I still – after seven years – feel like a new runner. It was then I decided my next blog would be an advice blog. This advice has absolutely no medical or professional standing; it’s based upon my personal experience, and on the stupid mistakes I’ve made over the years. So, below you’ll find my advice, or in most cases just random thoughts, on running.

  1. Running sucks. But then it’s great, and then it’ll suck again. Seriously. I’ve heard many people who try running say that they just don’t enjoy it. I hated running for the first six months, but when I finished a run or met another goal, I loved it. I felt accomplished. I felt invincible. I still have runs that are really hard, and I don’t enjoy the run itself. When I push through and finish the run, I feel proud that I stuck it out despite how difficult it was. My favorite mantra is ‘If it were easy, everyone would do it.’ Running is not easy. Stick with it and it will be worth it!
  2. Body parts are going to hurt. When I began running, my youngest daughter was young enough that she was happy to massage my legs and feet – thank goodness! I was sore for months. I don’t have any running friends who haven’t had some sort of running-related injury. I’ve had knee issues that led to surgery, but I still run. Those friends who have had injuries? They still run. Runners are pissed that they can’t run when they are injured, but they don’t give up. Take care of yourself, and take a break if necessary, but don’t give up. And the chiropractor will be your friend. Find a good one!
  3. Don’t be apprehensive about signing up for a race. I’ve run nine half marathons, a few 10Ks, and a whole bunch of 5Ks. My first race was a 5K, and my goal was to not be last. It was in July, and it was hilly; I was prepared for neither. I ran that race, and I was not last. I wasn’t fast, but I finished. When you run in a race, no matter the distance, you will see people of all shapes, sizes, and speeds. No one cares how fast or slow you go, as long as you keep going. You need to walk? No one cares. You cross the finish line last? No one cares. Think about how many people never cross a finish line in their lives. The support and camaraderie of the running community is amazing. We all started somewhere, and everyone appreciates the effort it takes just to get out there. And races are fun! Spending time with a group of people with a similar interest is very rewarding. Some of my best running memories are of races that were particularly hard. I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon with my niece Erin, and it was 15 degrees at the start (and finish if I remember correctly). We were cold, but running my niece’s first half with her was so worth it. This past month I ran the Hoosier Half Marathon in Bloomington with another niece, Emily; it was her first half. And, despite it being April, there was about a 20 degree windchill that day. It was miserably cold. Again, sharing my niece’s first half marathon with her was worth freezing my tush off (but I did begin to wonder if I should stop running with my nieces).
  4. When my husband and I began running, we thought it would be a cheap form of exercise. Do not fool yourself. Running is not cheap. Plan on spending at least $100 on shoes, which will need to be replaced every few months. One thing we decided early on was that we had to take care of our feet. I’m very picky about what I wear. I have to be completely comfortable or I will obsess when I run. Chafing is serious, so the right shorts, shirt, and bra matters. I’ve chafed when wearing certain shirts. On that recent Friday run, I actually chafed on my inner thighs, and I was wearing my favorite running shorts. The only reason for chafing that I could come up with is that I’ve gained a few pounds, and now my inner thighs rub. What the hell?! Rather than lose that weight, I bought new shorts. It was easier. Socks. Good running socks are expensive, but gosh, they are worth it. My husband kind of scoffed when I first told him he should get some better socks. He didn’t think socks mattered. Once he tried them, he found out I was right (duh).
  5. The benefits you’ll reap from running go far deeper than health and weight loss. Of course, any type of exercise will help you get healthier, and running torches calories. But the mental impact of running is even better. Running makes me happy. I can have a terribly stressful day at school (I do teach eighth graders), and when I go out for a run, that stress seems to leave my body in the form of sweat. I can process my problems, think about my students, plan lessons, or just think about my blessings. Running has given my confidence in every area of my life. If, in my forties, I can run 13.1 miles, I can pretty much do anything I work for, or at least I’m willing to try.
  6. While running, I have laughed, talked out problems, listened to friends’ joys and trials, and cried. I have run when I am celebrating, and I have run when I am mourning. I’ve run when I needed to be alone, and I’ve run when I needed the comfort of my friends. I’ve run to see how fast I can go, and I’ve run to raise money for St. Jude. I’ve run for myself, and I’ve run for others. Finding your reason, even if that reason changes, is critical. If you don’t have a ‘why’, you won’t have the will. When I started running, it was because I was out of shape and needed to get fit. Now I run to stay in shape, and because it’s become who I am.
  7. Running friends are the best friends! Just about all of the friends I spend time with are runners. I have wonderful non-running friends, but we don’t really spend time together. I’m not one to just go out with friends for an evening, but I will go for a run with my friends. On a run, we can talk about anything. We can share our most embarrassing stories, our heartaches, and our joys. Or we can fall into cadence side-by-side and not talk at all (that really doesn’t happen very much). I truly love my running friends, and value their love and support. I’m proud of their accomplishments, and hope I can always be a source of support for them. They keep me accountable. Even when I don’t feel like running, a text from one of them can get me out the door.
  8. Read running materials. Subscribe to Runner’s World or Women’s Running, order books about running. They are very motivational and can offer some super advice. Ask lots of questions. Runners LOVE to talk about running! But be sure you have lots of time because we have lots to say!

Here we go again…

Well, it’s January. Once again, we have a chance to start all over. We can make resolutions, start a new fitness plan, set goals. The year is ours; we can make it the best year ever. “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Blah, blah, blah. Why is we start the new year off with great expectations, work towards those goals, and then our enthusiasm fizzles out as the year progresses.

Working in a gym, I see this trend every year. In January when resolutions are made, there’s not an empty treadmill or elliptical in sight, and classes are jam-packed with enthusiastic newbies. We are excited! We are going to lose weight and get buff by summer. We’re going to finally get that washboard stomach, get rid of our jiggly arms, and hell, we’ll just run a marathon while we’re at it. And then we discover it’s hard work. And it isn’t quite as fun as we thought. And the Bachelor is on, and it’s so much easier to sit on the sofa and watch these already buff young women drool over some egotistical man with finely tuned abs and great hair. We’ll go to the gym tomorrow. But then Idol is on, and the kids have homework, and…well…maybe the gym just isn’t for me. Who really wants to sweat on purpose? By February classes are full, but not packed, and by March it’s back to normal. We might have a few newbies who found they enjoy the results of their hard work. They realized that those rock-hard abs and Michelle Obama arms take time, and they’re willing to work for it.

Those who stick it out make it through most of the year maintaining our routines; we run races, go to classes, watch our diets, and encourage our friends to join us in the new healthy lifestyle. Then the holiday season hits. And it hits hard. Personally, I held it together really well until November 2; November 1 I ran a half marathon – I was in optimal (middle-aged-nana optimal) shape. After that I cut back on my running, but continued to teach Tabata and HIIT. Along comes December: parties, baking, and dinners…oh, my! I was still teaching and running a little (very, very little), but I was eating everything in sight. I begin baking Christmas cookies in mid-November, and I eat them as they come out of the oven. Somebody has to make sure they’re fit for human consumption. The cookies bring pounds. The pounds bring chub. The chub brings tight clothes.

This year was particularly rough. My father-in-law was very ill over Christmas, so we spent our time either sitting in the ICU waiting room or making the 2 1/2 hour trek to the hospital. My plans of running every day of our break went out the window. Cafeteria food, fast food, and cookies went in my mouth. One day I was feeling especially frisky, so I managed to walk a mile worth of laps at the hospital. I got some strange looks from the staff, but I needed to move. It still amazes me that it takes so long to get in shape and feel comfortable doing squats, burpees, and push-ups, but take one week off and I have to start all over.

It’s now 2015, and like many Americans, I have vowed to get back in shape. I run the Biggest Loser competition at our school, and the first weigh-in is tomorrow morning. I ate chicken bacon ranch pizza for dinner. Four pieces. That was totally unnecessary (but gosh, it was GOOD!). I’ve gone to the gym every morning before school, even a morning that I didn’t teach, so I could’ve slept in. (On a side note, I find it completely depressing that I now consider sleeping until 6:00 am sleeping in.) I am not going to be on a Biggest Loser team, but I am going to do the weekly weigh-ins and try to get to where I need to be. I am going to try to eat healthier (I say that every year). But really, 2015 is going to be the BEST YEAR EVER. Until December, and then 2016 is going to be the best year EVER!

100 Days..Done!

Back in May, Runner’s World issued a challenge to run every day from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, which would be 40 days. The only stipulation was we had to run at least one mile each of those days. I decided I needed some motivation, so I took that 40 Day Running Streak Challenge. I found it to be very motivating, while at the same time rather challenging. The first two weeks my legs screamed that they were tired; they were used to a couple of rest days per week. After those first two weeks, I began to settle in, and my legs began to relent and accept that I was not going to bail on this challenge. 

By the end of the 40 days, I felt that I had accomplished a huge goal. In five years of running, I had never run more than seven or eight days in a row. I felt great, and I wanted others to have that same feeling of pride in knowing they could do something they might not have thought possible (or even wanted to attempt). I didn’t want to limit the 40 days to running, so I put out my own 40 Days of Fitness Challenge. It began the last day of my original challenge, so if I went one day past everyone else, I would have completed 80 days of running. Wow! Once I got to 80 days, I could have stopped. Then I thought 100 is really a nice round number. I bet I could run 100 days straight, which would really be an accomplishment. And so I did. 

Since school began, it hasn’t been as easy to work those runs in. I had gotten so far, that I wasn’t about to make excuses at that point. I also felt like my running had improved, and with some important races on the horizon, I wanted to continue to build my speed and endurance. There were days that my run consisted of a one-mile run with the dogs on our gravel road, but even those runs proved to be enjoyable. Well, they were enjoyable after the first tenth of a mile; that’s when the dogs were all excited about going on a run and they jumped all over me while howling. I’m sure it’s quite a sight! My long runs have been only five or six miles. Without having a true rest day, my legs wear out rather quickly. Now that I will be taking rest days, I am anxious to see if my long runs are easier. I’m running a 10K in Chicago in a few weeks, so that’ll be the true test of what the past 100 days have done for me. 

Today was my 100th day. I planned to run with my friend Debbie this morning because my daughter had a golf match after school. I didn’t even look outside when I got up, so I was surprised to see lightning and feel the brisk wind as I dragged my butt to the car before dawn. Once Debbie and I arrived at the gym and checked out the radar, we decided it would be in our best interest to stick to the treadmills. I guess I’ve been pretty fortunate that in the previous 99 days, I only had to rely upon the treadmill one time, but I certainly didn’t want my defining run to be indoors. Thankfully, we only had to run three miles because I really can’t run on a treadmill much further than that. When I completed my run, I felt that I should’ve earned a medal or some kind of bling. I did something I’d never done before, or even considered for that matter, and there was no finish line, no medal, no shirt, no crowds cheering my through the finish line. Nothing. Just the feeling of accomplishment that comes with meeting a self-imposed goal. I’ll take it! 

I will likely run tomorrow, making my streak 101 days, but that’s only because I teach an early class, and always run after that class. I plan to take a break from running Thursday and Friday, and then go for a long run Saturday morning. Admittedly, it will be difficult to not run. It has become part of my day, and I feel the need to figure out just when I can work a run in. I will abstain, however, because I want to run well in Chicago. It might be the only time I ever run a race in my favorite city; I don’t want to blow it. I am also running that race with my fast-running niece, and I don’t want to be the pitifully slow aunt. 

 

40-Day Running Streak

Just before Memorial Day, Runner’s World, via Facebook feed, issued a challenge. I was at a point that I felt like I needed a challenge; since running a half marathon in April, my running had been lacking. I had little endurance; the humidity had already set in; and we were crazy busy with end-of-school-year activities. It was so frustrating that after running 13.1 miles the month before, I could hardly eek out three miles in May. 

The challenge was a 40-day Running Streak: participants run at least one mile every single hot, humid, busy, exhausting day from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. I signed up (which only required that I ‘like’ their running streak Facebook page). Today is day ten. I have been a runner for five years now, and have never run ten days in a row, so that in itself is an accomplishment.

No one really cares that I am doing this. No one on the Facebook page knows if I really run or not, nor do they care. This is a challenge I embarked upon for my own satisfaction. I want to prove to myself that I can do it. Some days I only run a mile, particularly if it is typically my day off from exercise, or if I have taught two Tabata classes and busted out a bunch of squats. I like that I am pushing myself to do something I’ve never attempted. Will anyone care if I complete the 40 days? I will, and that’s all that matters. 

We, as runners, are often asked why we run. Why would we suffer through injuries, give up our time, trudge through snow, battle through rain and wind, and tolerate the heat and humidity? If you are not a runner, you probably should avoid asking that question unless you have a large chunk of time to kill. The reasons are endless, and most of them very personal. I’ll give you my short list:

  • It’s healthy. My dad and his brothers died of heart disease in their forties. With that family history, wouldn’t you run?
  • It makes me feel strong and accomplished. I feel good about myself after a run, no matter how bad that run was. I did something most people can’t, and that feels darned good.
  • It helps me control my weight. I try to have decent eating habits, but it’s a daily struggle. If I want to eat sweets or burgers, I have to run. 
  • It makes me happy. I can be so stressed out or upset, and running just makes things better. It gives me time to think and process my feelings, and it gives me time to chat with God. I have survived some of my worst days by going for a run.
  • Running makes me a better wife, mom, nana, friend, and teacher. See above. 
  • I want to set a good example for our kids and grandkids. I want my grandkids to tell their friends that their nana runs races. I want to be able to keep up with them. I want to be a cool nana!
  • It gives me a connection with my students. Seriously, most teens think English teachers are pretty geeky (shocking, I know). When I tell them I run and teach bootcamp classes, they seem to rank me a little higher on the cool scale. I want them to see that one is never too old to set goals and work toward them. 
  • There is nothing like running with friends. I could (and have) write a whole blog on running friends. I’ll give one example. Monday night Jackie and I decided to run sprints at the track. We used to do that pretty regularly, but hadn’t for a long time – like a year or two. We arrived at the track, and it started raining. Hard. We decided we were tough, and a little rain wouldn’t stop us. We’d run in rain before, and in the summer it can be quite refreshing. We ran our sprints in the rain, and it was awesome. Jackie is 50 and I am 47, and we were out in the rain running sprints. We felt like rock star runners. Athletes.
  • I run because I can. There are so many people who can’t run, or walk for that matter, and I run for them. I am so blessed to have a body that will allow me to run, and as long as I am able, I will continue. It’s hard, and sometimes it completely sucks, but there is always another run. 

I have 30 more days to complete my streak. Because my legs are tired from running every day, I haven’t been able to run more than three miles, but I will continue on. There is a 5k on July 4 that my daughter wants to run, and I think it’d be the perfect way to end my streak. But then will I wonder how many days I could run if I just keep it up? Will I feel guilty if I don’t run? That’s the way my mind works. 

When was the last time you challenged yourself? It doesn’t have to be running; it can be anything that pushes you. I believe if one wants to totally embrace life and live with no regrets, he or she has to face challenges and try new adventures. Come up with a summer challenge and go for it. If you want to be held accountable, put it in the comments or message me. I’ll help! 

 

Just Three Years

The other night my husband and I were sitting at a baseball game with our friend Jeff. His son, Sam, just completed his freshman year of high school, and I commented about how quickly time is going. Later, I thought about how Sam will graduate in just three years. Because my mind is often filled with crazy random thoughts that spin out of control, Sam’s future graduation led me to think about all the changes that would occur in the next three years, and how those years will pass so very quickly.

In just three years…

  • Addison – my baby – will be halfway through college, and she will be 20 years old.
  • Bethany will have a couple of years of teaching under her belt (Lord, I hope she finds a job in that three years.)
  • Morgan will be nearing 30 years old. Yikes.
  • Layne will be starting kindergarten.
  • Rhett will be 3 1/2, and following his big brother around.
  • Molly will be driving.
  • Lucy will enter her teen years.
  • Gabe will hit double digits.
  • The first class I had as third graders will be graduating.
  • My first eighth graders will be starting their senior year.
  • And I….well, I will be 50, no longer able to deny middle age (Hell, I will be just about past middle age. What comes after that? Upper middle age?).

Add to that list that loved ones will die, babies will be born, new friends will be made, and lives will be changed, whether it be for the better or worse, by choice or circumstance. Just three years.

So, what is the point of all of this? It enables me to see how quickly our lives evolve, how change is inevitable, and that I had better make the best of each day rather than letting those three years pass without making them count. What changes do I want to make in those three years? Who do I want to be three years from now? What goals do I have? Here it goes…

  • I want to continue to run. That might sound simple, but with the knee issues I have had, it is no longer a given that I will run into my twilight years. I want to take care of my body so that I can continue to do what I love.
  • I want to continue to teach classes at the gym, and hopefully inspire a few people to love their bodies, and to never give up on themselves.  In the past two years, I have made so many incredible friends through Everbody’s; I am blessed by their presence in my life.
  • I will continue to grow and learn as a teacher. I will care about my students, encourage my students, and help them find their talents. I am so fortunate to have such a great job, and I will not take that for granted.
  • I will stay fit and strong. I will continue to cross train, and set a positive example for our kids and grandkids.
  • I want to be living in town within the next three years (in a house with a large yard and a pool).
  • I need to work on taking time for prayer. I always wait until I go to bed, and then my mind wanders like crazy. I will be in a big old conversation with God, and suddenly I am thinking about what to wear to school the next day. I need to focus.
  • I will run sprints. I will run sprints. I will run sprints. I don’t like sprints, but know they are good for me, so I will do it.
  • I will stop avoiding running up Mozart. Just like sprints, hill work is a necessary evil. I will run hills.

And, there are some things I know won’t change in three years:

  • I will still dislike most vegetables. Give it up, Mother.
  • I will stay say stupid crap without thinking.
  • I will still be neurotic about arriving places early.
  • I will still like candy, dessert, and junk food.
  • I will still tell my girls what to do, even though they’ll all be adults.
  • I will still tell Gary where to go when he is driving.
  • I will still use sarcasm when I probably shouldn’t.

Where will you be in three years? Will you make that time count? It’s just three years.

A couple other random thoughts for the evening…

Thanks to all who read and shared my last blog about accepting homosexuals. It was read by over 1700 people. That might not seem like a big deal, but 1700 readers learned that this happens to real families with real feelings. If that blog makes even one person think twice about how he or she treats others, it was worth the effort. Just be nice.

Running. My goodness, we went from a long, cold winter straight into hot, humid weather. I am not complaining (because I complained all winter about the cold), but my running is suffering tremendously. Six weeks ago I ran 13.1 miles in a race; now I am struggling to run three miles. I committed to the Runner’s World Running Streak, which means I will run at least a mile every day for 40 days, from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. I finished day seven today. I thought this might help me build back up my endurance, and it forces me to exercise every single day. I am also doing more walking because my daughters like to go. This is the first time that all three girls have been home for an extended period of time in a few years, so it also gives me time to spend with them.

Make this week count! You won’t get a do-over. Peace and Love..

 

 

 

Rainy Night Thoughts

It’s rainy and I am home alone, so it’s the perfect night to blog (even though I have nothing specific on my mind, so prepare for a bunch of random thoughts). I am still in recovery mode, but not from a big race; I am recovering from our eighth grade class trip to Washington, DC. We left last Thursday at 5:30 pm, traveled all night on a bus, and spent three full days and evenings seeing everything we could possibly squeeze in. We then loaded the buses at 10:00 pm Sunday, and arrived home at 10:30 Monday morning. We had a fantastic trip; our 80 students were incredible. I hope they all realize how fortunate they are to have had that opportunity.

So, for those days, my exercise was walking. Kelly, my friend, DC roomie, and coworker, wore her Garmin (she is also a runner), and we walked over four miles Friday, and that doesn’t include the walking we did indoors at four different museums. On Saturday we walked over six miles. I didn’t get the count for Sunday, but that was the day we went to Arlington National Cemetery, so there was a lot of walking, and it was hilly. Usually when I stay in a hotel, I try to hit the workout room, but after waking up before 6:00, touring all day, and returning to the hotel at 9:30 at night (and we still had to monitor halls while the kids were up), I was absolutely beat. I also planned to run Monday afternoon after I had napped. That didn’t happen. I was exhausted, so I skipped the run. And I skipped running on Tuesday. Yup…I was still tired. 

Today, I had no choice but to go to the gym. I am the instructor; I had to go. I taught a HIIT class this morning, and again, had planned to run two or three miles afterward. That didn’t happen. Perhaps I would run tonight. Nope. I found all kinds of excuses: it’s raining; I don’t want to run on the treadmill; I have laundry to do; I’m still tired. Tomorrow morning I teach two Tabata classes, so I will get a good hour of high intensity intervals in. Saturday I WILL RUN. I have to get back into a routine, and I have to stop making excuses.

Considering how difficult it can be to make myself run or workout, why do I even try? What motivates me to stay fit? I do it for so many reasons; I will attempt to explain.

First, why did I even start exercising? My father died of a heart attack when he was 42; I was seven. When I was 41, I began dreading my birthday. I didn’t think I was going to die, but all I had ever associated with the number 42 was my father’s death. At that point in my life, I didn’t exercise at all, and it was beginning to show. I was completely out of shape, and gaining weight. My husband knew that I was becoming depressed, and (in the kindest way) told me I needed to get a grip or get help. We both decided to exercise, and our sport of choice was running because several of our friends were runners. We also thought it would be inexpensive, which has proven to be a false assumption. We started out just trying to get to one mile, which seemed to take forever. Since 2009, we have run countless 5Ks, a few 10Ks, several half marathons, and Gary has run two marathons. We have both become instructors at Everbody’s Fitness, and have helped others on their fitness journeys. That brings me to the next reason I continue…

Once one puts it out there, whether it’s on Facebook, a blog, an ebook, or in conversation, she is committed to sticking with it. People know that I run and workout, so they ask about it. I can’t imagine saying I quit. People depend on me to encourage, teach, and share. If I didn’t teach early morning classes, I can just about guarantee my butt would stay in bed on those cold winter mornings and those rainy spring days. Knowing my friends are waiting for me motivates me to get up as soon as the alarm sounds. Once I am at the gym, I am always glad to be there. 

Friends…nearly all of our friends either run or workout. My best friends are all runners; we just understand one another. We speak the same language, keep secrets, know we can depend on one another, and love one another. On a run, people tend to open up. We talk about topics that are taboo in our other circles of friends. If I don’t run for a few days, and I see my friends posts about their runs, I know that I need to get out and get moving. When I begin to doubt myself, I know that one of my friends will step up and encourage me, or give me a kick in the rear. 

Confidence. Talk to any runner who got a late start, and I would bet she would tell you that since beginning to run, she has gained confidence in all areas of her life. I know that if I can set a goal, such as running a half marathon after knee surgery, train properly, and achieve that goal (especially at my age), I can also accomplish goals in other areas of my life. 

My body. I have never been proud of my body. Honestly, I always thought about what I wanted to change. I wanted to be taller [in DC, the girls in my group had trouble finding me because they thought I was one of the kids]; I wanted to get rid of my freckles; I wanted to be more shapely; I wanted different hair. Now that I know my legs can carry me over 13 miles in a race, my lungs can support my running, and my heart continues to be strong, I appreciate my body. Is it perfect? Heavens no. But now I appreciate the fact that I don’t have to invest in expensive sport bras; the cheapos do just fine. ‘Nough said. I appreciate that although my legs are short, they can run. Now that I have been doing Tabata for several months, I appreciate that my arms have a little definition (not Michelle Obama arms, but better than they were), and I can easily bust out squats and burpees. For a nana, that isn’t too bad!

My family…Gosh, I love my family. Gary and I are blessed with five incredible kids (38, 35, 25, 22, and 17), and five energetic grandkids (13, 10, 7, 2, 5 months). I want to show them that age is truly just a number. I want them to see that one is never too old to set goals or to challenge her body. I want them to be proud of me, and I think they are. I hope that we are setting a positive example, and that they will always go after their goals. I hope they will always be willing to work hard for what they want. I want to play with my grandkids and be around to see them all marry. My father wasn’t there when I graduated, married, had children, or earned my degrees. I don’t want my daughters to feel that loss when they go through important life events. I want to stick around. 

It makes me happy. Really. As much as working out improves my physical state, it also improves my mental state. I can be in the worst of moods, go out for a run, and come home with a whole new perspective. Sometimes the smallest thing can change my mood when I am running: a student yelling, “Hi, Mrs. Stath!”, an animal that crosses my path (except a skunk – that just annoys me), flowers, or a wave from someone I haven’t seen for some time. 

Running makes me feel strong. Don’t get me wrong – some runs suck. Sometimes I feel like I am going to puke. Sometimes I think I need to find a new hobby. But much of the time, even if it isn’t the best run, I feel awesome when I finish, simply because I can finish. I can do something the majority of the population can’t do, and that feels really good. I thank God for my health and for the ability to workout. I know of far too many people battling illness or injury who cannot walk five miles, let alone run that far. I appreciate what my body can do, and I don’t take it for granted. It won’t last forever, so I will value each and every day that I can get out there. 

I run for me. I see so many parents who live their lives through their children. I love my children immensely, but I also want to have my own life. I want to accomplish my own goals. I have seen parents so wrapped up in their kids achievements, that they act like crazy people. I am proud of my kids, enjoy their activities, cheer when they’re successful, and wipe tears when they’re not. But I recognize that there is always tomorrow, and they need to also experience failure in order to appreciate success. They need to understand that sometimes life isn’t fair. They need to know how to stand up for themselves, and that Momma isn’t going to make everything alright. They don’t have to win in order for ME to feel successful. I have my own ‘stuff’. 

Gosh, now that I have written all that, I want to go out and run! What makes you feel good? Confident? Proud? What do YOU do that you’re proud of? 

 

 

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