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Really, I think the biggest challenge as an adult-onset athlete is having the self-discipline to NOT act on my natural enthusiasm (and end up pushing it too far).

selfdisciplinePhoto Credit

Making a commitment to exercise after months or years (in my case) of getting out of shape forced me to have a keen awareness of exactly how out of shape I actually was.  (And who wants to think about that?!)

And once I started in my exercise routine, I had to force myself to remember that I was in my 40’s, not in my 20’s.  I no longer could stay out late, eat and drink like a moron, (apologies to my friends in their early 20’s) and then just lace up my running shoes in the morning and expect my body to perform for me.

I was run down.  I had spent years getting to my general state of un-fit-ness.  Now that I had made the mental/emotional decision to do something about it, it was hard to remember that my body needed time to catch up with that decision.

I had to face that fact that even though I wanted to do something (run a half marathon) verrrry badly, my body simply was not capable of doing it in its present condition.  It would be capable, but I had to face reality:  the process was going to be much slower than I thought I’d be able to endure.

Even when I felt great out on a run, I had to have the self-control not to go harder, faster or longer than my training schedule called for.  I had to operate from the knowledge that the more mature my body is, the more rest it needs.  That even though I felt on-top-of-the-world during that endophin-laden long run, that my body wouldn’t feel that way tomorrow if I continued too far or too fast, taking an emotional approach to my running rather than a systematic approach.

[When I started out, my systematic and logical approach wasn’t something I just arbitrarily made up.  I got the advice of someone who absolutely knew what she was doing (Thank you, Shelly!  I still appreciate all you’ve done for me!).  I also got a copy of a great book for adult-onset newbies, Marathoning-for-Mortals-9781579547820

Marathoning for Mortals, by John Bingham.

I followed that advice and I didn’t deviate from it, regardless of how I felt. If you are new, get a mentor.  Whether it’s someone you talk to or someone you read, it will make all the difference in the world!]

I had to remember that feelings aren’t facts, even when the feelings are physical.  (“I’m tired, my legs hurt.  Waaaah!”  “I feel great; I could run another couple miles!”)  I had to discipline my body and my will to obey my mind and my training, and not the other way around.

I knew if I didn’t approach my running in this systematic, logical way, that I would get all emotionally spastic about my runs and end up either burning out or injuring myself due to making stupid decisions based on my early enthusiasm.  I also knew that the systematic, logical approach would serve me well on those mornings that I just didn’t want to get out of my warm bed and lace up my shoes and hit the road.

After more than 3 1/2 years of running, walking, resting, racing, being victorious, screwing it up, loving it, hating it, being enthusiastic, being bored, being cheered, being mocked, being crazy, and being happy, I’ve become a different person.

A stronger, better runner.  An athlete, even.  (Though it’s still hard to think of myself that way.)  But I’ve also grown mentally, emotionally and in the strength of my will.  Those are things I never anticipated when I laced up my shoes for that pathetic initial effort in May 2009.  And they made me a better daughter when my mother was dying.  They made me a better mother when I had to make the hard choices for my children.  They made me a better wife, friend, writer, speaker and business person.

While I love the physical benefits of running, it seems, looking back, that the hardest thing (the self-discipline to do what I need to do, even when I don’t feel like doing it) was the one that changed and benefited me the most.

Go figure.

Hello Gorgeous

What an amazingly beautiful day!  33 degrees and sunny.  Amazing running weather and perfect to get the endorphins flowing.

Here’s the best photo I found of what this day looks and feels like.  Wish I had taken it.  But my run felt just like this, even though it was on the city street.

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Photo Credit

Even though my eyes were more ambitious than my legs (2 runs in less than 15 hours, ouch!), I’m glad I got a chance to get out there and breathe in the beauty of that cold, sunny mile.

Hope you get the chance to get out there and enjoy some of this gorgeous winter weather too.

Last of all, my Big Thought on today’s run:  We’re not promised a tomorrow.  Love and appreciate every minute of today!  (Trite, but true.)  Enjoy!

The past few days have been a real challenge to get my mile-a-day minimum run in.

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On Saturday, I took my turn as SuperMom and helped chaperone a bus full of middle school girls at a show choir competition.  For about 16 hours.  With freezing rain scheduled for the day.  I was faced with the devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea decision of whether I wanted to run at 4:00AM or whether to run outside in a strange community, during unpredictable weather, without fully knowing the schedule in advance.  Full disclosure:  I am NOT a morning person.  At all.

At 4:10AM, I was pounding out my mile on the treadmill dreadmill.  I was grateful for that decision by the end of the day, because we were later getting home than expected.  One of our students had won a solo competition and the team stayed later to support her performing.  (Did I mention that student was MY kiddo, Princess?!  Yay!  Shameless proud mama moment, pardon the digression!)

The next day was f-u-l-l of activity and recovery.  I got to drive four hours to pick up Ninja from her ice hockey weekend, where another family had taken her on the adventure two states away.  It was one of those torn motherhood weekends where both children have Big Deals happening and you can’t be both places at once.  In any case, Ninja had a stellar goaltending weekend (Her coach said it was the best 4 games he’s ever seen her play!  Oops, did it again.  More mama pride.  Sorry!)

The amount of windshield time spent with a daughter in travel hockey is great for one-on-one conversations with your teenager, even if it is hard on your running schedule and the size of your behind.  So of course, this chauffeuring caused a dilemma with my running schedule.  No problem, I thought.  I’ll just hit the dreadmill before midnight.

Please understand.  I despise the dreadmill.  I am an outdoor runner through-and-through.  But this night, when I got home at 10:45PM and it was 18 degrees and ice-covered outside, I was grateful for it.  I pulled on my running shorts and sped down to the dreadmill, only to discover–shock and horror–that the stupid thing had bitten the dust.

Flashing an error message and stubbornly refusing to be reset, the dreadmill had been turned overnight into the oversized clothes-hanger that is its sole remaining function.  Which meant, either I was going to break my resolution, my streak, my commitment to myself, OR I was going to go out into the icy, black, now 15 degree night and get that mile done.

Racing now, to beat the clock and make it out and back before midnight, I donned my eskimo-running gear, my reflective vest, and pulled out the leash for Hyper Puppy, who was thrilled by the chance to accompany me on my unfortunate run.

In the end, I managed to make it back without freezing or falling (no thanks to Hyper Puppy, who surely kept me from being mugged, but whose excruciating enthusiasm about knocked me over many times).  And I made it back on time.

I went to bed that night after the very long and un-restful weekend, with that highly satisfying feeling that comes from stretching out beyond what’s comfortable for me and doing what’s hard, just because I’d committed to it.

I know the earth would not have stopped spinning on its axis if I’d just blown off my mile.  I know that with all the Really Important things that are going on in the world right now, my little mile is very, VERY low on the list of importance.  But I also know that in spite of the fact that it was a Small Thing, it was a thing I’d promised myself I was going to do.  And as a mama, those promises-to-self have always been the easiest to break, especially when I was taking care of everybody else.

But this weekend, I managed to take care of everyone else AND I also kept my commitment to myself.  Which is a soul-strengthener every time.  And as I keep this up, day by day, 2013 looks like it might be a pretty darn good year.  Because this year, while doing everything that needs to be done, I’m  remembering that my things are part of that “everything.”  I’m remembering (at last), that I matter too.

Who’s Getting Goofy?

This post is really a post for Saturday.  But seeing how on Saturday I am going to be on a school bus before 6:00AM, chaperoning middle school show choir students at a competition (No drama there at all!) and getting back somewhere around midnight, I thought I might just squeak one out a little early.  This would be part of the “motherhood” role of Go Mommy!  It will be quite enough to figure out how I am going to run my mile tomorrow…

So (a little early), happy weekend!

rundisney 2013 WDW Marathon Medals  MARATHON-HALF-AND-GOOFY-MEDALS-PIC

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So WOW!  This weekend is the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.  Which means lots of people from up here in the chilly (well, not today) Midwest have been training in the cold and challenging weather to go and kick asphalt in the Florida sun.   Having trained during the winter for a Florida winter marathon a couple years ago, I know that temperature/humidity adjustment is not going to be a cakewalk for our friends running in the Happiest Place on Earth.

For anyone who is not a hard-core runner, this may surprise you:  There are some running (super)freaks who are planning on running both the half marathon AND the full marathon during this same weekend, which will qualify them for the (appropriately named) Goofy medal.

I do love races.  Not because I am fast.  (I’m not.)  Not merely because of the training challenge.  (Somewhat, but not entirely.)  Not even because it’s kind of fun to have a reason for people to think you’re a little nutty.  (Though true.)  I mostly love races because of the MEDALS.

The bling.  Shiny, shiny, shiny.

I know.  It’s such a shallow thing.

But you DO have to earn these things to be legit.  You have to show up and you have to finish.  And for a painfully slow, late-bloomer of a runner like me, earning a race medal is quite simply, awesome.  (I wore the medal from my first half marathon for an entire week.  No joke.  And I would encourage you to do the same for your first long race if you haven’t run one yet!)

And nobody does race bling like Disney does race bling.  Just look at those guys!

I. Want. Those. Medals.

Sadly, I have never run Disney.  Not any part of it.  But based on the legends shared by some of my running friends, I can promise you that I want to!  Maybe THAT would be an amazing thing to train for during the fall of this year…

For now, remember to cheer on your friends who are soaking up the Florida sun this weekend, running their buns off for some duck/mouse/dog bling.

And if you’re run it, or have a loved one who’s running it, pretty please tell us all about it here so we can be jealous of encouraging to you!

Good luck and we’ll see you at the finish!

MMCH_Y3Photo Credit

Must Do This Awesome Race

Awesomeness.  Where is this race?  This amazingly cool picture was posted on the Go Mommy! facebook page, courtesy of Iris. Thanks Iris!

Oh yes.  The best running weather ever.  41 degrees and rainy.

And my New Shoes performed beautifully.  Here they are, but the photo doesn’t do the sloshy-ness justice:

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Wet, sloppy and happy.

While many (most) of my running friends prefer to run on days like this:

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Whatever.

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Here is my perfect weather:

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Can’t you just feel the awesome?!

Mmm hmmm.

And now, I’ll be returning to my endorphins.

You know you’re jealous!  🙂

No snow today in our area.  In fact it was warmer than usual, but still just perfect temp-wise for this cold-weather running junkie.

No slush or mess (darn), but cool enough to make the run fun and slightly crazy.

If felt like this:

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And no, this isn’t me.  (Not hardly.)

My route was through my neighborhood with enough crumbly curbs that I just decided to run in the asphalt bike path to avoid injury.  I’m not in quite as great shape as this chickie.  (Ha!)  But I can tell you, my shoes sure did look better than hers!

In any case, I decided early on in my running adventures that I wasn’t going to let how I looked determine how I felt when I ran, or whether I had the nerve to get out there and run at all.  Several years ago, a local chiropractor had encouraged me to get active and gave me some tips on running, since I’d tried that a few times in my life.

The biggest obstacle for me at the time was getting out there at all.  I had let myself get so out of shape that I was completely humiliated.  I wondered how hard it would be to run under cover of darkness or in the very early morning so that I wouldn’t horrify innocent bystanders.  I couldn’t look in the mirror and deal with myself, let alone imagine the awful spectacle I was sure to become if I began running where people could see me.

The other option, of course, was trail running.  But since at the time I was terrified of encountering the axe murderer if I was alone on some trail, I opted out of the alone-in-the-wilderness opportunity.  (FYI:  Still terrified of the axe murderer.  I do trails now, but not by myself.  Call me paranoid, but I’m still here!)

Eventually, I made the hard decision to care more about my health and well-being than about how I looked and whether I would become the daily entertainment for potential rude pea-brains who probably never ran a half-block, much less a half-marathon.  I decided that what mattered to me was my plan for my life and health, and what that meant to me as a mother, daughter, wife and friend.  I decided that rather than focus on how things might appear to be at the moment (bad and blubbery), that I would focus on my vision for my health and my future (bright and vital).

And what happened was amazing.  I was able to go from walking to short runs and then long runs.  I never became a fast runner, but I was cool with that as an adult-onset athlete.  I became determined to get those runs done.  The more challenging the weather and terrain, the better runner I became.  I grew stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.  And years later, even after breaks from running, I know that lacing up my shoes and heading out onto the road holds the promise of that strength.

And I came to realize that even though my route may not be as beautiful as Chickie’s route in the photo above, and even though my bod may not be as fit as her 20-ish little self, I have something better for myself day by day.  Because I keep on going and keep focusing on my vision, every run becomes a championship run for me.  Every run really holds the possibility of feeling like this photo on the inside, regardless of my circumstances.  And on days like today, where the weather and the circumstances and the emotions of the day and the endorphin cocktail combine just right, the Strong is even Stronger.  And the experience is something absolutely Beautiful.

(Really) Happy Feet

My feet are really, really happy.  Really.  See my Christmas present from my wonderful husband:

2013-01-08_12-18-59_325Yay!  New shoes!

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12.  I’m a Brooks girl, so this made me very happy.

Yes, I know that lots of people get new running shoes lots of the time.  So what makes these so special?  I’m glad you asked.  Behold:

Here is the tread on my New Shoes:

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Pretty, yes?

And here is the tread on the shoes that I wore into my amazing local running shop:

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Um.  Yeah.

So the conversation went something like this:

Me:  I need a new pair of running shoes.  Brooks Adrenalines.  I love them.  I’m overdue.  See these soles?

Beth (Shoe Goddess from Body N’ Sole):  Looks like you were overdue for a new pair a few months ago!

Me (sheepishly):  Yes, well, I normally get a new pair every year when I run the Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon each September.  Only this year I didn’t go.

Beth:  I see.

Me:  But I’ve obviously been on my feet.

Beth:  Obviously.  Didn’t your feet get wet?

Me:  Well, I pretty much ran in my trail shoes when it got sloppy outside.

Beth:  Hmmm.

Beth the Amazing got my New Shoes (which were even $30 off for trading up!) and offered me a color choice!

Beth:  Pink or blue?

Wonderful Husband:  I’d definitely go for the blue.

Me:  I’ve never had pink shoes.  Pink it is!

Beth:  Would you like to wear them home?  Please?!

Me:  Yes!

Beth:  And about these old shoes.  You should really never wear them again.  Not around the house.  Not to cut the yard.  Not to pick up dog crap.  Not ever.  For anything.  Please just throw them away.  Really.

Me:  Oh, but I’d better get a picture first.

Beth:  Well, for that you can keep them.  Then throw them away.

Poor old faithful, forlorn, pathetic shoes!  Way over a thousand miles on those puppies.  My feet feel great now in my New Shoes, though.  I just about forgot what running without touching the pavement felt like!

In case you are wondering, here is the tread on the shoes I wore just before the most recent Faithful, Forlorn, Pathetic model:

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Much more reasonable, though the salesman told me the tread in these was way too abused back in the day.  *Sigh*

The moral(s) of the story:

1.  Running on tread-bare shoes is better than lamenting the state of your shoes and sitting on the couch.

2.  Worn out shoes might get your feet wet, but they won’t kill you.

3.  Tread is better.

4.  New Shoes are awesome.

5.  You can always count on Beth the Shoe Goddess and those amazing people at Body N’ Sole to help you out, make you laugh, and tell it like it is!

Now I’m planning a proper burial for the Old Faithful, Treadless Wonders. (Suggestions welcome!)   While I’m at it, I’ll just lace up my New (Pink) Shoes and head out for a run.  If you see me out there, I’ll be the one running on Cloud 9!

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Photo Credit

Well, it’s been about a bajillion years since I’ve written here and I feel like I’m finally getting back in touch with an old friend!  I’ve sure missed you!

Much has changed in the months I’ve been away and I promise to let you know the details about all that in a separate post.  But for now, I wanted to share one of the main things that hasn’t changed a bit.

I. Am. Still. Running.

On my birthday in 2011 (April 4th for everyone just dying to send gifts!) I challenged myself to go a mile-a-day minimum.  Ideally, I would run.  If that wasn’t possible, I would walk.  And if I was really in trouble, I would crawl.  I just wouldn’t miss a day.

I’m happy to report that I never had to employ the “crawl” option, though I had many days where I walked my mile.

During that year and nine months or so, I’ve run and walked in neighborhoods, on beaches, in strange cities, on trails, in mud, during snow, during rain, during 100 degree heat.

I did my mile when I was sick, when my kids were sick, when my mother was sick, when my husband was sick.  I did my mile the day I got divorced, the day my mother died, the day we buried her, the day I got married.

I did miles in and around hockey rinks.  I did miles in parking lots of high schools during show choir competitions.  I did miles at 4:00AM and I did miles at 11:45PM.

I did my mile outside of hospitals while my mother was in surgery and while my husband had two surgeries.

I did my mile when my children thought I was the best mom in the world and when I had been informed that I was the most horrible mother to ever walk the face of the planet.

I did my mile alone.  I did my mile with my friends.  I did my mile with my husband.  I did my mile with my daughters.

I had amazing miles.  I had terrible miles.  I had painful miles.  I had miles that were full of tears.  I had miles where I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants.

I had miles where I wanted to quit.  I had miles where I could have sworn I’d heard my mom’s voice demanding that I put on foot in front of another and keep going.  I had miles where I was ready to quit and never would have gotten out the door if my daughters and husband hadn’t pushed me.

I had fast, awesome, endorphin-filled miles.  I had the slowest-ever miles while walking with my husband as he learned to use his brand new hip.

I even had miles on the awful dreadmill.

Then on November 1, 2012, I woke up and realized:  I did not do my mile yesterday.  I told my husband and he was stricken.  The streak was broken.  He felt just terrible for me.  I would have thought I’d feel terrible, too.  But really, the only thing I could say was:

“Do you know what that makes today?”

“What, honey?”

“Day Number 1 of my next streak.”

And off I went to do my mile.

So whether the one missed day in 21 months qualifies as a mulligan, or whether it marked the beginning of my next challenge, I am still out there running.

And this year, 2013, my personal challenge is to actually run at least one mile, rather than give myself the walking option.  Just an added incentive to change it up a little bit.  (Don’t worry, all my take-care-of-yourself-moderation-junkie friends, I’ll keep listening to my body and not push it too hard!)

My plan is to be back here regularly, sharing my exploits.  Rest assured, though, that even if you’re not hearing from me, I am still out there running.

One thing is certain.  By the grace of God and with the support of my amazing family, I will not quit.  This I know for sure.

Breaking News!

Just a teensy little announcement on it’s way next week…

Yeah, that’s right.  Actually, kinda Big Stuff on it’s way.

So. Excited! 

Unveiling it next week.  And because you’ve been SO wonderful and patient, you faithful Go Mommy! readers get to be the first to know! 

Check back and see what all the buzz is about.

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