Sunday, May 5, 2013

Growth.

I am not normally one to stay down after tough races. Usually I get over it and think "I tried my best, there will be another one. I learned something. And will grow from here."

I also often am afraid to push myself to my full potential...I am afraid to fail

On Saturday, April 27th, I ran the Get in Gear half marathon up in Minneapolis. For the first time in a long time, I set a goal and I went after it. I wanted sub 1:50 and at least a PR (under 1:52). I felt like this was within my capabilities. I have been feeling strong in my recent runs.

Except. I panicked. I felt exhausted. I had no energy. And I put too much pressure on myself. I didn't run my race. And I was controlled by external factors, rather than a calm mind, physical strength, and confidence.

I held on until mile 8 and then had to give in. I had pushed too far and my body was rebelling because of it. My breathing was off, I was dehydrated, I had little strength left to carry on. I wanted to take my first DNF. The only thing that kept me going was my brother. His face, fighting with every ounce of energy he had left, to finish his first marathon...kept flashing through my mind. So I told myself, this will be tough, but you will fight on.

I finished in 2:01, after holding pace for 1:51 through 8 miles. It was brutal those last 5 miles. Quite possibly 5 of the hardest I have ever run. But I made it.


I was bummed after. Frustrated. Disappointed. Confused. And far less confident. Why? Why did this happen? I knew deep down I was capable of more. Why did I fall short...again?

I gave myself the rest of that day to feel those feelings. And then promised Monday I would wake up focused on learning and growing.

This past Saturday, I tried again at the Grandad Half in La Crosse, WI. I was honestly terrified. I tried once and it was miserable. I fell short. Maybe where I thought I was in my mind...is not accurate. What if it happens again?


The start was freezing. Foggy. I was still waking up. I couldn't believe I was about to attempt another 13.1 with a PR in mind.


As I crossed the start. I took a deep breath. I repeated "run within yourself, run within yourself." I kept my breathing calm. Took in the sights around me. And tried my absolute best to run by feel and ignore my watch.

I felt anxious until mile 8. Where I had to give in the week prior. But I still felt strong. I mentally prepared myself until mile 9 and then knew I had to drop my pace down to finish strong and meet my goals.

I took a deep breath and went after the last 5, this time, with my heart and mind, instead of just my body.

I continued to ignore my watch because I knew if I saw the paces I would panic...if they were slower than my goal pace...I would be hard on myself, if they were right on...I'd freak out because "I am not 'that' fast"

As I hit the last aid station. I didn't know where I stood but I could tell by feel I would be close. The words "self-compassion" flashed through my mind. And I simply stated, "Catch your breath, grab a drink, refocus, and then run your heart out and don't stop until the finish. Julia, no matter what happens in the next 20 minutes, I am so proud of you."

I ran. I ran with my heart. I was kind to myself. I believed. I did not quit. I did not slow down.

I crossed the finish in tears at 1:49:19.

A 2 year old PR crushed. A barrier I never thought I'd break, broken.


I am scared of failure. But when I do allow myself to fall. I am reminded of the great potential for growth following such a fall. I am reminded of how those falls reinvigorate my soul and drive me to become stronger and to believe in myself more. I am reminded that the accomplishments following a perceived failure...are that much sweeter. 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Keep Running.

I am grateful running can be a constant in my life. Even through the not so great runs and the runs where I feel on top of the world...running is always there for me--like a friend waiting with open arms. Amidst the darkness and things I can't understand...amidst joy and inner peace...running brings a sense of balance, strength, hope, and gratitude to my life.

This week I have been reminded to experience every run with all my heart. I run for those who can't. I run because I can. I run with a running community that is stronger, more passionate, more resilient,  and more amazing than I even have the words to describe.

Today and always...I choose to keep running. 


Monday, April 15, 2013

When Miles Become Memories.

I have plenty of memories--pictures in my mind--of those great moments...the PRs, accomplishing a run I thought I couldn't, finishing a race in triumph, etc.

But the memories and pictures that come to life...those that are the sweetest of them all...are those I can think back on and remember sharing the special moment with dear friends or family. I am smiling now just thinking about some of them. These are the moments that mean the most.

Its that finish line feeling of a tough race accomplished together...


Its equal parts having a blast and running your heart out...side by side...no matter what...


Its sharing sweet "firsts" with family...


Its sharing miles and smiles and stories and laughter with friends...


 Its the friend that always comes back for you and believes you are capable of more than you know...


Its running side by side with your bestest brother and watching with tears full of pride as you see him fight for the most well-earned finish line imaginable...Its the gratitude you feel in being able to share this moment...


Its seeing this face of relief...knowing one has accomplished something so big...and knowing it took profound courage, determination, and perseverance to do so...Its being there in this moment...and knowing you will cherish it forever...Its realizing that some races teach you more about who you are on the inside than even the outside...and smiling through tears when you realize you couldn't be prouder of who your brother is on the inside...


Its the long miles week after week that get hard to keep pushing through alone...so you call on a friend and the miles instantly become some of the best you have ever experienced...no matter what...


Its the friends that take time out of their day to be there totally for you and help you reach your dreams...


Its all of these moments culminating in jubilation, relief, pure joy, gratitude, and smiles with every finish line you cross...


Thursday, April 11, 2013

WILW (a day?...months late): Gifts, Meaning, Self-Worth

Today I sat reading my latest book obsession...which is quite possibly becoming my favorite book of all time:

Source.
I usually sit there the entire time thinking yes, Yes, and YES...why don't I do more of this in my own life!?!

Then I came across a page that almost felt like a checklist. I read each item thinking "yup thats me. that one too. oh and that one." When I finished the page, I blinked. Quickly went back and read it again. And then thought, "I need to write. I need to write again TONIGHT!!"
------------------------
Let me introduce you to page 112:
  • When we cultivate our gifts and talents and share them with the world, we create a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives (JH Thoughts: Yes, I agree)
  • When we don't use our talents to cultivate meaningful work, we struggle. We feel disconnected and weighed down by feelings of emptiness (yup), frustration (yup), resentment (yup), shame (yup), disappointment (yes!), fear (most likely) and even grief (maybe?)
  • Using our gifts and talents to create meaningful work takes a tremendous amount of commitment, because in many ways our meaningful work is not always what pays the bills (YES...but is that a reason to stop?)
  • Our gifts, talents, and meaning are all unique to each one of us (definitely). 
 -----------------------
I have no idea whether other people would consider my writing a gift, or a talent, or even as meaningful...but for me...it IS all those things. I feel alive when I write. Its an outlet, a passion, a place to get lost amidst my words in order to better understand my thoughts and emotions.  Its a place where I can just be ME amidst a sense of peace, joy, and calm.

I still don't know why I stopped writing. But other parts of the book make me wonder if its because I started tying the writing to my self-worth.

If I don't post XX times per week, I am a bad blogger.
If I don't remember this person has a big event coming up or had a big event...and then remember to congratulate them or wish them good luck...I am a bad blogger. 
If I don't post, and then read XX other posts and make XX other comments, I am a bad bad bad blogger. 
If I don't write the perfect post with each word exactly right...I am a bad blogger and the post is meaningless. 

Why and when did it become about these things!?! I don't know. But I do know not writing led me to each of those feelings in bullet point 2...or at least I have a hunch that squashing a passion of mine likely contributed to some of those feelings. 
This winter I felt disappointed in myself, discouraged, unmotivated, lost, lonely, frustrated, and just blah. I stopped worrying about my health, stopped enjoying the outdoors, rushed through the current moment to get to the next...only to rush through that one as well. 

I stopped writing, I gained 1/3 of the weight I worked so hard to lose 3 years ago, I ate whatever I wanted, I rarely took working out seriously, I wished I would spend more time with my pups/friends/family, I felt lost in what my career goals were, etc etc etc. 

After January 2013, I told myself I was ready to recommit. Recommit to ME. I made goals to feel strong and healthy. I started doing more of the things I love again and taking time for myself...rather than always feeling like I had to be busy working on this or that. I opened myself up more to those around me. I worked on appreciating and living in each moment again. 

Today I woke up feeling strong, healthy, and confident. I felt like I was back on track again, and valuing my worth, my meaning, my gifts, and my talents. However, some things still felt like they were missing. I wasn't sure what they were...but I had faith I would realize them at the right time...given I now feel back on the path that feels "truly me." 

At 2:53pm today I read page 112. And thought,  

"That's it. I need to write. I wonder if stopping because I thought it would get rid of all the unworthy feelings actually led to also squashing the meaning I gained from it!?!" 

The answer...I still have no idea. So, I am writing again. To find out. I have no idea what the writing will look like. When it will occur. How it will occur. Etc. But as part of the experiment...I am trying to remind myself...

I write because its a gift. Its a passion. It gives me meaning. It doesn't matter if its not "my real job" or if it takes a few extra minutes out of my day. I write for me. And that is enough.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Zoey:)

On Saturday we celebrated Zoey girl's 1st birthday. I can't believe how quickly she has grown and how fast the year has gone by...lil Zo makes me laugh and smile every day. So grateful she was placed in my life:)

First night at home.
Sassy sisters from the beginning.
"You could never be mad at this face Mom"
Making me smile. Every single day.
Spoiled rotten on her birthday every day:)
Puppy Birthday Cupcakes
Merry Christmas from Me and the Puppy Girls (Zoey and Riley)!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Smile For Your Tuesday. :)

Dear Mom,

All this abnormally warm December Weather...???




Don't worry. We were the ones that prayed, crossed every finger and toe and wished upon several stars...just so we don't ever have to wear these things again. 


Love Always,

Riley and Zoey

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Unexpected Reminder.

I love Sundays. No expectations. No pressure. 

One thing I look forward to most is the weekly walk around the lake with my pups. No need to pick up the pace and no time constraints...can simply walk, zone out, enjoy the moments with my sweet puppy girls.

I usually notice the surroundings but not to a detailed extent. No over-analyzing or worrying occurs. 

I simply breathe deep to allow the fresh air to fill me and allow the beauty of the outdoors to fill my mind and body. 

I smile as my puppy girls seem to do the same. 

Yesterday I walked outside to a fog so dense I could barely see in front of me. I vaguely recall registering disappointment...but this was nothing that could keep us from persevering through our weekly walk. Plus the puppy girls were already far too excited. To change my mind would be the true disappointment in their eyes. 

When we arrived at the lake, we continued walking, lost in thought...in exploration...amidst the calm. 

Suddenly I stopped...and saw this:


I was taken aback by the unexpected beauty of the moment. How had I thought this could be any sort of disappointment? It was truly majestic.

And led to an unexpected reminder:

Sometimes the beauty of a moment does not come from what immediately catches the eye. 

Sometimes you have to stop, squint, blink a few times and then truly open your eyes to the beauty beneath the surface. The secret, almost magical, experiences that exist behind the fog.
Conquer the moments of Pain, Embrace the moments of Pride, and PERSEVERE.