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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.

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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!

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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.

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Ever since college (which is WAY longer ago than I care to admit), I’ve had this crazy idea about having a pay-per-minute business where people dial in to get excellent rationalizations for their crises of conscience.  Seriously.  I could spin you a perspective that could make you sound GREAT, even if you’d just done something downright dastardly.  People would end up thanking you for what you’d done.

Not that I encourage bad behavior, mind you.  I don’t.  But somehow, I always seem to find the good in people, the silver-lining if you will, and I figured that 1-900-RATIONALIZATION would be the way to get entrepreneurial with that endearing trait.

Years later, I grew up (a little) and determined that making a buck off of helping others shirk their responsibilities and behave like morons probably wasn’t the best way to earn a living.  (My apologies to my attorney friends who have no issue doing this on a regular basis.) 

But even though I’ve managed to squash the notion of making money off of helping others blame-shift, I still struggle with that part of me that (sadly) considers spinning an art form.  And I find myself practicing this by applying my rationalization prowess to my own foibles.  Responsible Shannon and Rationalizing Shannon are continually duking it out.

With that background in mind, I will now confess: 

I Did Not Run On Wednesday. 

*GASP*

 (Photo Credit)

And away we go:

Responsible Shannon (Our Hero):  You really should have run today.

Rationalizing Shannon (Our Rat):  How could I have run today?  I was really busy.

Hero:  You got up and even put on your running clothes before you went to that teacher meeting with Ninja’s teachers.

Rat:  Yeah, but I didnt’ have a clue what WordPress was going to be doing.

Hero:  You really need to stop adjusting your plan for the day based on the actions of others, even if they are really exciting and great.

Rat:  But they were really exciting and great.

Hero:  Are you even listening to me?

Rat:  But WordPress put this blog on its Freshly Pressed page.  There were, like, a bazillion visits.  It was like winning the freaking blogging lottery!  I was really, really busy!

Hero:  What exactly did you have to DO with those *ahem* bazillion hits?

Rat:  Well, I kinda watched those stats go stinking crazy practically all day.  *blush*

Hero:  What?!  You’ve got WAY too much on your plate to be sitting in front of a computer screen all day, stat-watching!  You might as well be watching paint dry.

Rat:  Hellooooo!  This is FRESHLY PRESSED, for heaven’s sake.  Clearly, Hero, you are clueless.

Hero:  Call names all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that you missed your run in order to sit in front of the computer spellbound watching your blog go berserk. 

Rat:  And your point is? 

Hero:  What did you accomplish today?  What made this a day worth having?

Me:  Well, I remembered that I was a writer.  I posted something that made lots of people laugh and encouraged people in a bunch of ways.  I figure I just can’t ignore what happened on WordPress today.  It was a pretty big deal for Go Mommy!

Rat:  That’s what I was trying to say.

Hero:  Okay.  I’ll cut you a break this time.  Did you write thank you notes?

Me:  To the people who visited Go Mommy?

Hero:  Of course.

Me:  Are you kidding?  There were over 2400 visits to the blog today, alone! 

Hero:  Okay, perhaps a group thank you would do.

So here it is:

Thanks so much for visiting Go Mommy!  And thanks to WordPress for showcasing our blog.  And thanks for all the support from those who’ve known me well these past years.  What an amazing welcome–back to Blog Land–back home.

And as for the running, I’ll be hitting the road tomorrow.   At last.  Crazy, record-breaking stats and 900-number rationalizations not withstanding. 

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I hate thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve sat down to write here.  Even now, I feel like I’m sitting down with a long, lost friend.  It’s great to be back.  Thanks for missing me.  I’ve missed you, too.

You know this.  Moms-Who-Run wear many hats.  You can wear lots of them at once.  But not all of them.  Still, it’s easy to forget that your head is only so big and only so many hats will fit up there.

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Then, when Life lifes you, as mine has this past year, you realize what’s most important.  And those are the hats you wear.  And those are the things you do. 

So it was that as a Mother-Runner-Daughter-Wife-Writer-Teacher-Reader-Student-Knitter-Saleswoman-Public Speaker-Trainer-Cheerleader-Chauffer-Cleaning Committee Member-Moving Crew Member-Chief Laundress-Referee-Wound Treater-Hug Giver-God Lover-and Glue that Holds It All Together for My Family, with the application of enough pressure, heartache and disaster, some of these hats had to be taken off and thrown onto the pile with the dirty laundry for awhile.   

If you asked my daughters, they’d tell you exactly what I need:  “You need to run.  And you need coffee.  After God and us, of course.  And your running is good for all of us, Mom.  Seriously.  Same with the coffee.”

So what does Mom-Who-Runs do?

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with financial disaster, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with heartbreak, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with the loss of a home, a friend, a dream, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs realizes she can no longer write, knit, dance, play, because there truly is no longer time for these luxuries, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with ending her kids’ homeschool experience and putting her kids back in traditional school in order to get a job and help her family survive, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs has a husband in intensive care, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs hears her own mother and number one support system has been diagnosed with stage three cancer, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs switches roles and cares for the mother who’s sacrificed so much caring for her all these years, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to pack and move an entire household with her own hands and the help of her two cherubs and a few very loving friends who come through when it counts, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to choke back her own sorrow while she wipes the tears from her daughters’ eyes as they say goodbye to the only home they’ve ever known, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs turns into a puddle (finally breaking down under the pressure) just because someone has been nice to her, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is surprised by her own medical diagnosis, shares it with her boss, and is fired coincidentally the next day, she runs. 

And she runs.  And she runs.  And she runs.

And she loves her children and her God with a love that is fierce.

And she runs.

And if she doesn’t run, then you know that something is wrong.  And if you love her, you move heaven and earth to get her back on the road or the trail or the treadmill again.

Because the running will bring her back.

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During the time I’ve been away, I’ve run a full marathon, two half-marathons, an ultra and several 5Ks and trail races.  I’ve logged hundreds of miles.  I really haven’t gotten any faster or skinnier. 

But thanks to the running and my kids and the prayers of my family and friends, I am BACK.  Along with my Writer Hat.  And I think we might just stay awhile. 

 

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I’m 64 days away from the 26.2 with Donna starting line and I’m possibly starting to freak out, just a teensy little bit…

I’m just wondering, if you have ever run a marathon, if you had similar experience to me while training for my first one… 

See, for the first time, yesterday, my training run was over half the distance of my final race.  And I happened to notice when I finished it, that the training run had SO kicked my fanny.  Seriously.  I had the fleeting thought that if this run was so exhausting, how on earth was I going to run 26.2 miles and finish it EVER and in ANY condition, let alone in the time limit and without medical attention.

I’ve heard that there’s a portion of the training where your mind sometimes plays tricks on you, but if you stick with the program and get those long runs in on the weekends, that you absolutely CAN and WILL finish the race.  Frankly, I’m counting on that.  Kinda like I imagine a pilot relies on his instruments to fly when it’s dark.  ‘Cause I don’t even know what I don’t know.  I’m just trusting that the plan will work if I work the plan. 

I’ve also heard that the training comes together in the end.  That the race, while grueling, if you’ve trained well, can be conquered.  Relying on that too.

Would love to hear some wisdom from marathoners (or 1/2 marathoners, or ultra runners, or triathletes…) who can still remember their First Big Race and possibly had thoughts during the training as to whether they’d be able to get to that finish line.   And maybe there are some other novice runners out there that are having their own little freak-out sessions.  Your pearls of wisdom will help them out too! 

Thanks in advance for your wisdom and encouragement!  🙂

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I am jealous beyond words.  And VERY proud of two of my long-distance running buddies, Shelly and Kari. 

See, neither of these amazing women is particularly fond of running in the cold, icky, slushy weather.  I’m fond of it, mind you.  But them?  Not so much.

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So today, while Shelly was on the East Coast, she ran in a Jingle Bell 5K in the snow!  She even got a PR!  Wow!  I’m so excited for her.  😀  And so jealous.  😦

And Kari, well, she ran in a Jingle Bell 5K on the West Coast, and it sounds like it was in the snow!  Again, excited!  😀  Jealous.  😦

And me?  Well, they did all this while I was sleeping in.  🙂

Just thinking about how I’m So Proud Of Both Of Them!  As I sit here in the cold-but-snowless Midwest. 

Suffering through a Rest Day. 

Running shoes beckoning me….(fingers in the ears, la la la la I’m not listening!)…practicing self-control. 

This is what vicarious running feels like.  Not so fun.  Anyway…

Shelly and Kari, you rock!  Congratulations ladies!  Celebrating with you here in the heartland.  So. Proud. Of. You!

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Running Shoes: BEFORE

So here’s the thing. 

I had this whole post planned with the title:  You Don’t Expect Me to Run Up THAT, Do You?  And the post was about the Wild Wild Wilderness Run hosted by the Kennekuk Road (and must.not.forget.the.TRAIL) Runners a couple months ago. 

That trail featured 7.55 miles of pure running torture.  (So terrible that I plan on running it again in the arctic weather we surely can expect during the Sibearn Express on January 2, 2010.)  Seriously, though.  It was terrible.  There was a nearly vertical hill that only mountain goats or really nimble deer should ever be expected to climb, one that hugged an earth wall and where a single step to the left would leave a person pummeling hundreds of yards to their demise in a thornbush-infested ravine.  There were three or four miles of challenging, but bearable terrain that initiated the uninitiated WWW trail runner.  Then (surprise, newbie!) the turn-off to the hill-from-hell.  Only to be followed by three or four miles more  of Really. Hard. Trail Running. 

Now, I love running hills.  But these weren’t people-hills.  They were animal-only hills.  And those super-runners who could just prance up them with ease–well, I’m astounded by those people.  They need a special category of fitness just for them.

As for me, I was so proud of Finishing Without Dying that I floated along on that experience for quite some time.  It mattered very little to me that I was near the Very End of the pack.  I was thrilled beyond words to have finished on my feet instead of a stretcher.

So that was the essence of the post I was going to write.  Because that was the craziest trail I’d run so far.  Until today.

Today I was introduced, quite accidentally, to the Backpack Trail at Forest Glen.  I personally believe they call this the Backpack Trail because most normal humans would need to bring camping supplies (or at least a meal!) in order to traverse the sucker, because it takes SO LONG and is SO HARD to finish this monster of a trail.

Now the introduction to the trail was only partially accidental, I confess.  Because I planned to do the 4.5 mile trail.  You know, the “this-11-mile-trail-intimidates-me-so-I-want-a-shorter-version-of-the-Backpack-Trail” trail.  What I did NOT plan to do was the 11 mile version of the Backpack Trail. 

Had I completed the 4.5 mile version, I’d still have had plenty of material to share with you, believe-you-me.  But the fact that just one teensy-weensy turn to the left rather than the right had us move our bodies over 11 miles of terrain instead of 4.5 miles is just plain wicked.  Indeed, we made the left vs. right decision because some Very Helpful (sadistic) Campers advised us that everyone had headed toward the left.  Thank you campers. 

What followed was an adventure that my two running buddies and I certainly had not anticipated.  We were told that we’d be heading over a creek.  Indeed, we headed over multiple creeks.  “Creek” is a highly subjective term, apparently.  I’m thinking, it’s a little thing you can hop over.  Nope.  It’s several big things that, even if you don’t fall off the slippery rocks that pose as steps across the current, you’re going to be wading in the water at least up to your ankles.  (Before you Florida readers think me a wimp, now, please remember that it was 33 degress when I got in the car to drive to this adventure!). 

And there were hills.  So many hills.  This trail wasn’t playing.  And let’s not forget that it’s been raining for, like, 952 days straight here in Central Illinois, so it was Mud City everywhere we went.  Read that:  No Traction.  Slip-N-Slides are fun when you’re eight and in your front yard with your neighbor buddies.  When you’re 43 years-old and trying to find footing climbing up a Monster Mud Hill, there are few humans that would call the exercise fun. 

Indeed, as we got to the bottom of our 382nd hill (perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but not much) we stopped thinking, “surely this is the last big hill we have to deal with” and started thinking, “surely this stinking trail has to end at some point.” 

Who knew that any trail, anywhere in the known universe could have So Many Gigantic Up’s and Gigantic Downs?  One after the other.  (Of course, happily interspersed with flowing creeks throughout.)

And the downhills.  I believe they were even worse than the uphills.  I’d always had the strategy of running on the downhills whenever possible.  It’s just that it was Very Rarely possible on this Sadist Trail.  The first bad boy that we faced, I remember clearly thinking that we’d taken a wrong turn.  People aren’t supposed to go straight down hills that steep with NO earth on either side.  Just a little mountain goat path straight down with an occasional tree mercifully situated for holding-on-for-dear-life on the downward descent.  I remember thinking after that first hill that the worst was behind us.  HA HA HA HA HA.  No.

All three of us in our brave little what-in-the-blazes-are-we-doing-out-here-without-a-GPS-or-a-cell-phone party fell nicely on our touckases at least once during the adventure.  We kept a good eye-out for each other and never got too far apart while out there.   We learned the difference between a shriek of  “Woo Hoo!” (“We’re awesome!  Look what we’re doing!”) and a shriek of “Woo Hoo!” (“Heaven help me, I’ve just fallen into the biggest mud pit in a five state region!”).  We learned the difference between this-hurts and this-sucks-but-let’s-keep-going-because-we-still-have-daylight.  And we most certainly learned to love the signs with the little red arrows and how to look for the red splotches on lots of trees. 

Most of all, we learned that there was more within us than any of us bargained for when we set out to Forest Glen for a little run one cold Saturday morning in November.  We learned we could do it.  At least for me, I surprised myself that I could do it.  And any one of us could have gone the 13.1 half marathon distance–so we learned that we were able to do that too!  I had another chance to give one something that had intimidated me a beat-down.  And we were blessed with the commraderie, the friendship, that comes from battling those stinking hills and creeks and elements together. 

Overall, it certainly was a day worth having.  Maybe even a day worth repeating.  A great adventure by some unlikely adventurerers.  And a great achievement by some tough-as-nails women who, though total newbies, were ready and willing to give it our all.  And we did. 

Three other Very Important Points: 

1.  Hats off to the Kennekuk Road (and Trail) Runners who gave every one of us a round of applause as we staggered off the trail.  These Super Runners had been done for well over an hour, but were still glad to cheer on the lost-little-newbies that somehow finished that 11 mile beast without dying! 

2.  My trail shoes are now officially trail shoes.  Here’s the after picture: 

Shoes: AFTER

3.  WW Activity Points mean I can EAT after today.  Yes!

4.  I’m certain I’ve forgot to mention much more than what’s been said here already.  I’m sure you’ll get more tidbits as the days and weeks move on…

For now, here’s proof of the mud: 

Muddy!

And proof of the buds:

We Made It!

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Well, one of my friends just lost her 100th pound on her 40th birthday.  (I would post her name here, but I don’t know if she’s willing to be a public figure, so you’ll have to die of curiosity.)  Another friend is in size 9/10 jeans as of this weekend, in spite of her PMS.  (I have absolutely NO qualms posting her vitals here, since she’s crazy bold enough to share them with the world herself!) 

I am SO happy for them.  Not a bit jealous.  Not. One. Little. Bit.  Okay, well maybe a little.  But sheesh, these ladies have quite literally worked their fannies off, so it’s not like I can begrudge them their awesome achievements.

This just ain't right.

Photo Credit

As for me, faithful readers of this blog know just exactly how much weight I’ve (not) lost.  Indeed, LOTS of you have weighed in (No pun intended…I leave the puns to Linda and Charlie, who are really, really good at puns.  My humor usually occurs by accident.) with really great recipes in my recipe contest, designed to give me ideas and inspiration to be able to cook/eat/feed my family in a more healthy manner.   (Do you notice how often I interrupt myself?  Imagine being my husband (known here on this blog as HH).  Constantly being interrupted by my bursts of inspiration.  He’s such a lucky guy.)  Thanks for your entries!  I will be using them!

Anyway, it is not that I haven’t worked hard enough.  As you (may) know, I’m training for a marathon, so I am getting bunches of exercise.  And as you (may) know, distance runners are particularly weight-loss-challenged because of the distinct nutritional requirements of their sport. 

However, it occurs to me that my sport does not require me to have a burger and fries twice in one day.  And it also occurs to me that I now do have LOTS of awesome recipes from my faithful friends who read this blog. 

Further,  it occurs to me that I have this most salient reminder of two friends that have had MEGA success in the fanny-shrinking department, that these women are really normal, nice, friendly gals, who weren’t doing anything faddish or into some wierd trend.  They were just doing the Hard Work of monitoring what they put into their pie-holes.  These women aren’t supermodels, but they’re superheroes–at least in the weight loss department (and my eyes).  Worse yet, they are totally likeable.  I really LIKE them.  You can’t hate someone who you like, so since I like them I am now left with:  No Excuses.

Since I found myself today at the crossroads of No-Excuses and Forever-Fat, and since I found myself at the end of My Own Strength and Will-Power to Do Anything About It (seriously–I’ve made this a pretty public journey–the public nature of any “failure” would have been enough to have caused me to change if I’d been willing/able/ready to do it), I did the only thing that there was left to do.  I prayed.

[Time out now, because this is something I’m actually serious about.  I take myself pretty lightly, but God?  Now, I take Him seriously.  Just because God has a sense of humor doesn’t mean He’s a joke and He is one of the few things you won’t find me kidding about.  Just wanted you to know.]

SO, I prayed that God would just help me care.  Seriously.  I obviously hadn’t cared enough to do something about it.  I’m not trying to be hard on myself and I’m not trying to make light of God Almighty here.  But I knew that He cared about me taking care of myself, and I obviously wasn’t caring enough to make the necessary changes in the Eat Less curriculum of the Eat Less/Move More game plan I’d taken on. 

If God cared and I didn’t, then I had a problem.  So I asked Him for help.  And of course, He gave it to me.   [Aside:  Even if you’re not a Christian, the exercise/weight loss/diet stuff you’re about to read will probably interest you.  It’s worth it to continue reading.  If you are a Christian, please do not believe for a minute that I “heard from God” just because I said so.  Test it.  If you don’t know how, then message me or ask your pastor.   I’ll be happy to share my testing-process with you personally, but that’s way beyond this post.  Listen, the important thing to know is God does care and He does talk to us, but our “feelings” are not the litmus test for the will of God.  Even if you love everything I say, I don’t speak for God.  God is perfectly capable of speaking for Himself.]

SO…very surprisingly, the help that I received was in the form of several distinct and unassociated people who’ve had great success in this weight loss program called Weight Watchers.  Perhaps you’ve heard of it. 

Now, I’ve done WW before and was quite successful with it.  I have clothes that used to fit me in my closet to prove it.  The problem was that I “did” WW before and I’m now really, really looking for a permanent lifestyle change.  One that can accomodate my new lifestyle as Mom-Who-Runs.  One that I can do as a Normal Person (which I desperately would love to be) instead of either a Dieter OR as a Rebelling-From-Being-A-Dieter-And-Doing-Whatever-I-Please-Person. 

My big objection to WW was that I would have to go to those meetings.  Now, when my world operated on a different schedule, the meetings were not a problem.  At this point in my life, though, the meetings are Out Of The Question. And so, WW was out of the question.  Until now. 

I know this is old news to some people, but it’s new to me, and I’m kinda excited to hear it.  Weight Watchers now has an ONLINE program.  Which means no more (stupid) meetings!  No more needing to get a babysitter so I can step on a scale!  No more lecturettes!  

And *ahem* no more excuses.  

Undaunted, I had one last remaining excuse.  This bit of being an endurance athlete.  Seriously, people.  We need CALORIES to run 26.2 miles.  Or 13.1.  Or 10.  Or 6.  Reasonable people understand that there’s no way to safely crash diet and safely train for a marathon.  But THEN, while poking around on the WW site, I discovered something I’d forgotten entirely.  ACTIVITY POINTS.   

Hallelujah, activity points!  I don’t remember the way they are calculated.  (It’s been a long time since I achieved lifetime WW member status.)  But essentially, activity points help to account for the activity you do by giving you more points that you can/must consume for that day.  So there was actually a chance that I might be able to lose weight, train for my marathon, and not starve/injure myself in the process. 

There was a light at the end of the tunnel.  I just needed to reassess my WHY.

My motivation to lose weight is no longer what it used to be.  I’m not even willing to tell you what it used to be.  Seriously, I don’t even know if I can get my brain to go there.  NOW, however, my desire to lose weight has to do with not having to caring this extra 40 (to 45) pounds with me as a passenger on my marathon on February 21st.  My motivation is to lose some of that weight so that it doesn’t have to come along for the ride on my first marathon, or even most of the training for it.  Losing the weight will help me avoid injury, improve my time, and enjoy the experience (not to mention take a cuter picture) during that race.  So THAT’S the motivation.  And I can’t wait until January 31st to start thinking about it.

So here’s my question:  Who among you has tried (or knows someone who’s tried) this Weight Watchers Online thing?  Would you recommend it for someone as random as me?  Would it yield itself to the odd requirements of an adult-onset-endurance-athlete with a sweet-tooth husband and two athletic daughters to feed?  Would I injure myself trying it while training for this marathon?  Would you recommend it?  In essence:  HELP! 

Please, please, please give me your comments about this if you’ve got an opinion.  Even I’m not such a lover-of-contradiction that I’d start WW three days before Thanksgiving, but I’ll be making a decision about What To Do very soon.  It would be great to have input from people who’ve been there.

As it stands now, the extra weight I’d be carrying would be like carrying a preschooler in my arms for the entire 26.2 miles during my race in February.   Um, pass.  Clearly, it’s time for drastic measures. 

Can’t wait to hear your words of wisdom.  I thank you from the bottom of my…well, never mind. 

P.S.  Another benefit:  HH doesn’t know that there is a WW for Men Online available.  I feel a master plan cooking up.  This could be good!

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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.   ~Theodore Roosevelt

Today was a “rest day” in my marathon training schedule.  But it wasn’t restful at all.  And I’m glad.

We spent the greater part of this day screaming our lungs out at our local high school, where our team, the Danville Vikings, were in the 6A state semi-finals.  An hour and a half before the game, the stands were packed.  Packed.

Not so long ago, our local program was in the cellar of the state.  Then native son, BJ Luke came home and accepted the head coaching position.  The team began to win and Viking Fever was epidemic.  The entire community embraced the team and rallied around these players.  Their hard work, their passion, their toughness, their fight, their refusal to quit was contagious.  The entire community has a shared pride in these valiant young men, whose efforts went way beyond football and caused hope to burn bright in our little corner of the world. 

I pass this house on most of my training runs. Funny thing. After seeing this sign, I don't give slowing down or stopping a second thought.

You would have thought they’d won.  Sadly, the Vikings were defeated in today’s game.  After the clock wound down and the season was over, the crowd grew still and…didn’t leave.  The crowd waited quietly until the Viking players had respectfully choked back their personal heartbreak and congratulated their opponents.  Then as the team turned to run back to their locker room, the crowd erupted in a roar of pride and encouragement. 

This team had given our town so much hope and passion and vision.  This undefeated season had been a win for the entire community.  Written-off, and yet, coming back and winning.  Again and again and again.  Underestimated, and yet, giving it all.  Again and again and again.  These young men reminded us all that it is possible to overcome obstacles and be victorious.  They reminded us what it means to be valiant. 

And for the next days, weeks and months, we’re going to have a whole lot of valiant people in this community.  Valiant teachers.  Valiant runners.  Valiant parents.  Valiant secretaries.  Valiant waitresses.  Valiant students.  Working hard.  Giving it all.  Refusing to quit.  Exceeding expectations.  Setting new standards.  Working and playing with heart. 

For that, this community owes Coach Luke, his staff, and especially each member of the DHS Vikings a debt of gratitude.

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