Racing Thoughts

I worked Sunday night at the hospital and then went for a run at the reservoir right after. It felt like old times. I ran a little over 6 miles which gave me plenty of time to think. I’ve been slowly putting the marathon in perspective mentally. Initially it was easy to conjure up all the negative aspects leading up to Vermont City:

  • my training was unorganized
  • I trained during a brutal winter
  • the Achilles injury has slowed me down
  • the sinus surgery disrupted an already disjointed training right at the crucial 20 and 22 mile long run weeks
  • the miserable 22 mile run!
  • new job, new schedule

Running, in my opinion, is much more mental than it is physical. For many years I’ve lived parallel to the philosophy of positive thinking and its power to create change. I’m open to the idea and I embrace it for short periods of time, but for so long I’ve found it easier to let the negativity in my mind control my thoughts…thoughts about myself, others and situations. However, I keep coming in contact with this idea of using the power of positive thinking to really control and direct life in a more purposeful manner. I’m moving closer and closer to that as I learn more about altering my thoughts. On Sunday evening I followed a link that Kris Carr posted on Facebook. Kris Carr has a fascinating story of healing herself while living with an incurable disease. The link led me to Louise Hay’s new movie, You Can Heal Your Life. It may seem a little out there to some and I get that, but I needed to see it and hear the message at that moment.

I am currently reading this interesting book called The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. These three passages stopped me in my tracks on Sunday. I have read them a number of times.

“Maybe a coach encouraged you or a parent pushed you or in a moment of inspiration you motivated yourself. But you dug a little deeper, increased your dedication, and somehow accomplished the impossible—all because you changed the way you thought. Hardwired in our brains and bodies is a potential greater than we realize, and all we have to do to unlock it is believe. ” (p64)

YES! I have done many things I didn’t think I was capable of and I love that feeling. I love proving myself wrong. I am no stranger to going outside of my comfort zone. I have dug deeper, dedicated myself to the “impossible” and conquered it.

“With the growth mindset, however, potential is unlimited. You can always get better. For this kind of person, the goal is not so much to be the best in the world but to be better than you were yesterday. Regardless of natural talent or the lack thereof, every person has the ability to improve themselves.” (p64)

I know this is true, but I often don’t give myself enough credit. Yet lately I am beginning to feel the tug of my life clock ticking. I want to do big things. I want more. I want to shoot for the stars and see just how far I can go.

“it’s more important to try than to rest on your natural ability. Why? Because you’re capable of more than you realize, and in trying, you learn something new as you push past possibility. As a result, you grow, learning that most skills are not inborn, but learned. Practiced. At least, they can be, if you’re willing to adopt the growth mindset and dedicate yourself to the practice that follows.” (64)

It’s really about learning to love the process and accepting growth and change along the way. This winter I bought skis and a ski pass. Carlos and I hit the slopes a number of times and I royally suck at skiing down anything but the beginner hill. I can’t even get off the chair lift without falling. I really don’t care. I love being out there. Next year I will get a little better. I might take a lesson or two. I definitely don’t plan on giving up on skiing.

Skis

Carlos has been helping to compile my marathon playlist and he popped one of our old faves on in the car on Monday morning, Let’s Go, Calvin Harris and Pitbull. These lyrics jumped out at me that morning even though I’ve heard them so many times before,

It’s all about where you’re going
No matter where you’ve been

So basic, so simple, but so true. Move forward. Stop looking backwards.

After my run on Sunday morning, my encounter with a little inspiration, and some soul searching this is how I really feel about running the marathon next weekend:

  • I’m so excited to run this course. I’ve heard really positive feedback about the race.
  • The finish line is right on gorgeous Lake Champlain.
  • The weather looks beautiful for next weekend.
  • This hasn’t been my best training, but so what? Seriously, so what! I could walk a marathon if I had to so no matter what happens on the day of the race I know these legs can go the distance.
  • Being aware of what didn’t work this training cycle will be really helpful when I begin training for the Hartford Marathon.
  • I worked as hard as I could, did as much as I could and I am going to be proud of that on race day.

I am going to run this marathon and I will finish. I’m going into it as the runner I am today, not the runner I was on September 28, 2013 when I finished Montreal. From here on out Vermont City will be my new baseline marathon. I have goals in my head, big goals and Vermont City is my jumping off point. My goal next Sunday is to run the best race I can and finish it smiling and uninjured. Those other goals, well I’m going keep those to myself for right now!!

Weekend Memories and a Half

Saturday morning Carlos made his First Communion. It was a beautiful mass. Carlos was a reader and he did a great job! The girls looked like mini brides and the boys looked so handsome in their white dress shirts and ties. After the mass we had a party for Carlos. My dad came up from Florida and my sister and her husband were here from the Boston area. It was a really nice afternoon with friends and family.

The handsome guys in my life.

 

Why must they grow so quickly?

 

My family

 

That evening we spent more time with my dad. We took him for a walk around the college in town and then we went to the town commons for frozen yogurt.

As I was getting ready for bed I reminded Orlando that the WMass Mother’s Day Half Marathon was the next day. I have been on the fence about running it and decided to play it by ear. Before I went to sleep I told Orlando I was going to run.

The next morning was a bit of a rush to get out the door. I couldn’t find my hat or my check book. My stomach was a little off. Off we went. We got to the registration area and I was told check or cash only. I never carry cash on me. Back at the car Orlando was talking to a woman who was telling him where to park. I thanked her and told her I wouldn’t be running after all. Turns out she was from the Cancer Connection, the local organization the run benefits. Well she insisted that I follow her and she would get me registered. It all worked out and I threw in a donation for the Cancer Connection as well.

I lined up at the start and the gun sounded a few minutes later. The sun was already blazing and it was only 8 o’clock. I ran the race once before two years ago so I was familiar with the course. It’s a beautiful course in rural Whately, MA; rolling hills, vast expanses of farmland and lots of colorful trees, flowers and people along the way. The water stops are plentiful, thankfully. There were a few fabulous spectators with hoses and sprinklers to cool us down. The finish line is full of energy and well stocked with food for the runners (and their sneaky 8 year olds who somehow always manage to find something other than a banana!).

It was an unseasonably hot day. I started slow and just tried keep an even pace. My thoughts were all over the place for the first few miles – “what is my goal today,” “I feel so slow, so heavy,” “I can’t believe I have a full marathon in two weeks,” “I feel like a new runner,” “I’m hot,” “I love running,” “This is my idea of fun on Mother’s Day now, remember when it used to be going to a buffet brunch?!”God I’m so happy to be running again,” “My Achilles feels good, wait what was that, oh nothing I think,” “I love half marathons.”

Then somewhere around mile 4 my mind began to focus on my ego. Over the course of the last few years I had developed a running ego. I got better at running. Then I got faster. I had an entire year of PR’s in 2013. I thought the injury to my Achilles shattered that ego, but it didn’t really. The ego is still very intact so much so that it has inhibited me from running races because I know I am not in a place to PR right now.

By mile 8 I came to the conclusion that I have to let go of the ego if I want to enjoy running races again. In a way I am starting over again. Not only am I a different runner, I have a different life and a different schedule. The ego needs to go. I’m fortunate to be running again. I’m so lucky to be healthy. I can set new challenges for myself and achieve new goals, but I cannot go backwards. No one can take away my running accomplishments and from here on out I will make new memories.

I ran the rest of the race with a new attitude. I let go of any expectations of myself other than to run a steady pace and finish the race. I did just that. As I neared the end I saw Orlando and Carlos. Carlos reached his hand out and joined me as I crossed the finish line. In that very moment I didn’t care what the time clock read. Carlos’ hand in mine was the best Mother’s Day gift! Oh and the medal of course.

Looking good sweaty! Must find hat before VT.

 

It’s all about the medal!!

 

I love him!

 

Now it’s on to Vermont without my running ego!

Healthfest Day 2 – Rich Roll

A few years ago I began thinking about doing ultra marathons. There is something intriguing about distance running and last year I thought I was ready to make the leap to trail running and ultras. Turns out I was wrong or at least my body decided it wasn’t the right time, but I still have a fascination for people who run extremely long distances.

I stumbled upon Rich Roll’s book Finding Ultra. It was an interesting read about Rich’s foray into ultra running and his life story from a promising collegiate swimmer to a desperate alcoholic. He found his way out of addiction and eventually into a plant based lifestyle. He rediscovered his love of swimming and took on new interests in biking and running. He went on to compete in the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii. This is an exclusive competition which is comprised of a 6.2 mile swim, 261.4 mile cycle and 52.4 mile run over 3 days.

Now you can find Rich Roll on his podcast by the same name. His podcasts have inspired me, motivated me and taught me to think big, dream and keep striving for more. I first heard about Healthfest on one of his podcasts. It sounded interesting and it was a great opportunity to hear speakers with a message that resonated with me.

I must admit I was a little star struck in Marshall, TX. I know most of the people in my life don’t even know who I’m talking about when I refer to the likes of Rich Roll, T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Garth Davis, etc. What struck me instantly was how generous the speakers were with their time. They all seemed very open to meeting their audience and chatting with them.

I tend to feel minimal in most social situations. I was very reluctant to approach the speakers. However, about 20 minutes before Rich Roll’s talk on day 2 of Healthfest I went outside for a short walk and coming straight towards me on a deserted street was Mr. Roll himself. I knew I had to say something. So I outstretched my hand and introduced myself. He was kind, shook my hand and chatted with me for a few moments. As I’ve said attending Healthfest was really about getting outside of my comfort zone and exposing myself to a new experience. I definitely did that in more than one way.

The last talk I attended on Day 2 was Rich’s. Since I’ve been following him for a while his talk was not really new to me.

How To Live More Sustainably & Thrive

Rich Roll

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IMG_2096

Some take away points from Rich’s talk:

  • 108 million dieters in this country have yielded a $20 billion/year industry
  • We are addicted to foods that fail us, medications that treat symptoms not the problem and lifestyles that lead to illnesses.
  • Everyone has the time to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s a question of priority.
  • Stop trying to hack the journey. The journey is the destination. Invest in the journey.
  • One industry is destroying the planet more than any other and it is industrialized livestock agriculture.
  • It requires 660 gallons of water to develop 1 hamburger.
  • It takes 1000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk.
  • 110 animal species are lost daily in the rainforest.
  • Vegans produce 50% less CO2

 

 

What a difference a week makes

I gave it another go yesterday. I successfully ran 20 miles. The weather was beautiful yesterday. I left around 5:40AM and by the time I finished it was actually quite warm. I ended up stopping at McDonald’s again, but this time it was around mile 16 for some ice water. It was a good run…uneventful and steady. It was exactly the kind of long run I was hoping and praying for. Most of the scenery was an eye sore, but I did take a spin through my favorite running trail.

Ashley Reservoir
Ashley Reservoir

 

My happy running place
My happy running place

My plan for this week is to run when I can, yoga at home 3 mornings this week, strength training once and lots of stretching and foam rolling. Carlos makes his First Communion on Saturday so I will try to get out early for a run. Sunday is Mother’s Day and there is a local half marathon that I’ve run before and I’m contemplating running again. I’m playing it by ear. Either way Sunday will be my last double digit run before the marathon.

Today Carlos and I took part in the 10th Anniversary Walk of Champions which benefits the Integrated Cancer Services at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. We walked with a few of my co-workers. The event took place at the Quabbin Reservoir which is a beautiful natural gem about 25 minutes from my house. It was another beautiful day and lots of people came out to support the cause.

The Quabbin
The Quabbin

The rest of the day has been rather mundane. Carlos is hanging out with my mom. Orlando is working. I went grocery shopping, cleaned the refrigerator, chopped some vegetables for the week, paid bills and continued working on patient paperwork left over from Friday. I’m planning to go for a short run tonight with a friend.

Two is better than one

It’s official I’ve registered for the Vermont City Marathon. Today was the last day before prices go up so I had to make a decision. Last night I went for a late run. It was gorgeous out, perfect running temp. I no longer have Map My Run set to announce my pace or time, only mileage. So I just ran and breathed and thought. I admit I was still on the fence about Vermont City.

Here’s the thing, I’m not a whiner. I work really hard, rarely take days off. I don’t complain if I’m in pain, but if I say I’m in pain you darn well better believe something hurts at that point. I am busy, not busier than other people, but busy. I work two jobs. I keep a clean house. I really really enjoy spending time with my son and I cherish that time. Time with Carlos is nonnegotiable and other things often take a back seat. I love my husband, but he’s busy too so trying to find time for us is important. Sometimes my needs get pushed to the side for a bit.

Since my last marathon in September 2013 I have been on a bit of roller coaster of emotions, backsliding into old habits and weight fluctuations which inevitably cause more emotional issues. Then there was “the injury” last year. My Achilles! It set me back further than I ever imagined, taught me a lot about myself and about running. I am a different runner now. A new runner in some ways. I am not a beginner although it often feels like it. There has been some other crap in the last year and a half and compared to things other people deal with my life isn’t so bad. But I realized last night while I was running that these are my trials and tribulations. I don’t have to justify them, feel ashamed about them or minimize them. They are real to me and they have made me cry, feel frustrated and have darn near defeated me some days.

I keep trying though. I keep pushing through and attempting to find a new way to do things both in running and in life. I refuse to give up. Last night while I was running I declared that I will run Vermont City because I CAN! It won’t be a PR marathon for me, but that’s ok. The point is despite my shitty 22 miler on Sunday I could have gone another 4 miles if I had to. I CAN run a marathon. No one says I have to run it fast. I am thankful everyday that my body is healthy and well, my legs allow me to run and my lungs allow me to breath effortlessly.

I run because I love to run. I run because I never believed it was possible for me to run and enjoy it. I run because it makes my body feel good. I run to show my son that commitment and dedication is important. I run because I CAN!

So not only did I register for the Vermont City Marathon I also took on the challenge of the New England Double Marathon which includes the Hartford Marathon in October. Vermont is my entrance back into running the distance…but I’ve got other plans for Hartford.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King

Defeated and nauseous

I filled my CamelBak yesterday. Orlando and I stopped at Whole Foods last night on our way to dinner so I could pick up the Vega gel I use during long runs. I had a simple dinner, never anything spicy or fancy the night before a long run. We were home by 8:30 and I took out my running clothes, made my chia overnight oats for the morning and prepared my pre-run drink. I thought I had the Vega Pre-Workout Energizer I usually drink before a long run, but I couldn’t find it so I substituted it with something called Carb-igniter that I got at some running expo. I set my alarm for 3:55 and I was in bed and asleep by 10. I felt good mentally and physically. I was ready for my 22 mile run in the morning.

My alarm went off and I was up. I followed my pre-run rituals. The Carb-igniter was a little funky, but I drank it. I set out just before 4:30. It was still dark, but so peaceful. I started out feeling great. I knew it wasn’t going to be a fast run for me, but that was ok as long as I was running a comfortable steady pace.

I chugged along. I grabbed a gel at mile 5 and after just a taste my stomach turned. By mile 7 I was so nauseous I could barely stand to sip water. I walked most of mile 13. As I turned onto a road littered with shops, gas stations and restaurants I told myself I would just run to McDonalds where I could use the bathroom. Sorry if that’s TMI!

As I exited McDonalds I tried to convince myself I was feeling better so I set off at a slow jog. Nope the nausea was right there and felt stronger. I knew there was a convenience store less than a mile away so I told myself to just keep going until I reached it. I figured I could by a small package of plain crackers and maybe that would settle my stomach. No such luck. Every cracker was covered in some kind of cheese, jalapeño flavoring, pizza flavor or other equally nauseating topping.

Back on the road and about 6 miles to go. I ran a nice downhill as I neared mile 17. As soon as Map My Run announced mile 17 I started crying. I felt so sick. I was close to home at this point. I didn’t want to give up, but the run downhill jostled my sick stomach even more. I slowed to a walk and weighed my choices. I kept walking and as I reached my house I was just shy of 19 miles. I couldn’t go any further. Of course my legs were sore by this point. I crumbled in tears as I took off my sneakers and my water pack. I have never ever walked so much on a long run. I have never not made the distance I set out to run. Damn Carb Igniter! I know that’s what caused the nausea. Never stray from what normally works when you’re training. I should have known better.

So I ate some saltines, had a little pity party, and then I called my sister for some support while I walked those last 3.22 miles. I should have kept going because in a real marathon you don’t get to stop at home if things aren’t going well. I hung up with my sister after about a mile and a half. I spent the next mile and half reminding myself that this bumpy road I’ve been on full of inconsistency, doubt, and challenge is just part of life. This too shall pass and I will be a better person for it.

Uncovering the Layers

I’m trying to work so many things out in my head right now. I’m so aggravated with myself. There was a time when I trained for three marathons, worked nights and took care of my son all day. I was busy then too, but I did it. Now I have a To Do list 8 miles long. I can’t seem to keep up with my own life since I changed jobs in November never mind my son’s schedule. It doesn’t help that I still do at least one night shift per week at the hospital. I’ve been trying for almost two years now to feel some semblance of balance in my life, but as the days and years slip by I feel like my life is stuck in a hamster wheel.

I need to find order, stop making excuses and start dreaming big again. There was a time a couple of years ago when I felt amazing. I was in a good place mentally, physically and spiritually. I’m not there right now. I’ve spent a long time pondering how I got off track; probably way too much time. It’s time to stop living in the past and move forward.

I read two blog posts today that had a profound effect on how I’m feeling. The first was from Roni at Roni’s Weigh. It’s called The After Myth and Why I get so Snarky. I’ve been reading Roni since before my son was born and really credit her with changing my outlook on dieting. What used to be a temporary fix in my mind shifted to becoming a lifestyle and this post that I read today drove home the point that I have to stop thinking about “the after picture” so to speak. It’s the journey we are on and the here and now that we need to appreciate. There is no pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow. The rainbow never ends and there are many pots of gold along the way if we learn to recognize them.

The second post was actually one that Roni referenced in her post. It’s called “After” Myth on the blog Can Anybody Hear Me. Wow this just blew me away. I have been grappling with such internal confusion regarding my weight. I have struggled with it since I was 10 years old. The closest I ever came to being a healthy comfortable weight was in the spring of 2013. I ran the Montreal Marathon in September 2013 and it’s been a downward spiral since. I haven’t gained back the 70 pounds I lost, but I’ve gained back a good 10-15 depending on the day (I’m guessing based on my clothing because I haven’t actually weighed myself since December). I’ve reverted back to behaviors I thought I had expelled from my life. I’ve allowed “fat feelings” and negative self-talk to dictate my mood.

Why am I holding back? I know it’s not about how I look, but how I feel inside. I know that life feels so much better when I feel good in my clothes, my mind, my soul. I move easier. My mind is clearer. I smile more. I’m more productive.

Uncovering my layers is scary and makes me vulnerable, but putting the layers back on doesn’t feel right either. I have spent the first half (hopefully) of my life mostly feeling awful about myself, being angry, sad, defensive and self-conscious. I don’t want to live this way anymore. I’ve made so many strides in a healthier direction. It’s time to embrace the life I know I can live. Stop looking to the “after” and start living in the now. It’s up to me to do what I can to have the happiest, healthiest today and then do it all over again tomorrow. In the process I might finally obtain the greatest treasure of all…learning to love myself.