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Archive for the ‘challenge’ Category

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).

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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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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!

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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*

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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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So this is the shirt I SHOULDA bought during my last VA Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  And it’s also the shirt I SHOULDA worn at my race this last Sunday. 

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The company is One More Mile Running and I get absolutely NOTHING if you buy something from them.  (Come to think of it, I should talk to those guys about some kind of finders’ fee–but I digress.)

I love the hilarious shirts this company makes.  Going to an expo for me is like going to Vegas is for some people.  I give myself a certain (small) amount of money that I know I will throw away on super-fun running gear on the (likely) chance that I will have a great time while wearing said gear in the future.  Actually, in this light, the odds are far better than Vegas, but again…I digress.

So I did NOT buy the shirt but I did INDEED have the experience the shirt indicates at a race this past Sunday at one of my local running club’s signature events. 

Explanation:

Each year our awesome local running club, the Kennekuk Road and Trail Runners, hosts an event called the Wild Wild Wilderness Run.  Runners from all over the midwest descend upon our lovely little hamlet to challenge themselves on the Wilderness Trail. 

See, the thing is, the Wild Wild Wilderness Trail Run includes at least one portion of trail that is not really a trail for human beings.  True, some deer and squirrel may have ventured up the side of that beast, but humans…not so much.

And the OTHER thing is, THIS year I knew that beast was coming.  I ran the stinking trail last year.  And I heard from my friend–let’s just call her Ami (because that’s her name)–that the run was SO much easier when you knew what to expect.  Just so you know: she totally lied.  (A different experience, but NOT easier!  Still love you though, Ami.)

So now in the interest of Truth, Justice and the American Trail-Running Way,  if you’re EVER considering the Wild Wild Wilderness Trail Run, you should know THIS is TRULY what to expect: 

7.55 miles (or 7.45 miles, depending on the race year) of some of the most beautiful trail in the region.  Including: 

3.5 initial miles of relatively bumpy, grassy trail, in and out of the woods.  Wear your deet during tick season.  Basically an enjoyable but moderately challenging run.  Followed by…

4 miles of hell on earth.  A mountain fit for certain animals, but definitely not people.  Creeks to leap over.  A slippery bridge to run across.  Hills, hills and more hills.  A “stairway” built into the side of a nearly-vertical hillside just before mile seven–that conveniently had its STEPS removed this year–where you are basically sliding up a rooted-mud-hill.

Essential Aside Advice:  Try to strategically select the people who are running in front of you and behind you as you face these natural obstacles.  Sliding down a mud-hill onto the head of the helpful, but completely unsuspecting, gentleman behind beneath you as you lose your footing on one of these obstacles is not the most polite way to make new friends.  Even if he does promise that he won’t let you fall down the hill.  As you are practically sitting on his head.  *sigh*  Well, after hitting solid ground, at least there’s plenty of motivation to pick up the pace and get outta there as fast as you can after that little getting-to-know-you adventure. 

And back to the shirt.  See, while the front-half of the shirt would have been me on Sunday, the back-half of the shirt would be me TODAY.  After my rugged adventure.  While trying to walk or move quickly.  Thank goodness for my friend, Ibuprofen. 

And regarding the WWW Run.  Would I do it again next year, even after all of the muddy drama?  OF COURSE!  Maybe even several times next year.  Because, come to think of it, it wasn’t really that tough after all.  Yeah, in fact, it was more like awesome.  Kinda like childbirth is awesome the farther you get away from it. 

I’ll be there.  Probably with a cool new shirt.  And definitely with a strategy that calls for me making new friends in more lady-like ways than sitting on some poor stranger’s head.

 P.S.  As proof that I should have known better and for the entertainment of the historians among you:  Here’s the post about a couple of last year’s trail runs:  Trail Runs Before I Knew Better 

 

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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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Instead of writing an Official Blog Post on Sunday, another Rest Day [insert heavy SIGH], I did what every other warm-blooded American did tonight.  I watched the Survivor finale and reunion. 

Love it or hate it, this show is a microcosm of life.  It’s your life and mine, under pressure and under a microscope.  How many of us could survive 39 days with our every minute on camera?  (Give me a shot at a million dollars and I’d try it, mind you.)

Apply enough pressure and a microscope and a camera to any human being and it will get ugly.  This show is about the human condition.  And that fact is why I absolutely love watching it, week after week.

What does this have to do with running?  Or midlife?  Or any of the other stuff you’re accustomed to coming here and reading?  I’ll tell you.  This show is about strategy.  You may love or hate another person’s strategy.  The one thing that is certain is that no one is successful without a strategy. 

Priorities.  Values.  Morals.  Focus.  Passion.  All these go into making a person successful.  Or not successful.  These will determine our strategy.  And the biggest guarantee of failure is to avoid having a strategy. 

I’ve noticed that in races, my age group “Masters Female” (translate that: older broads in their 40’s) is usually larger than  the groups younger and older.  This surprised me at first.  Especially when I noticed that if I were two years older or three years younger, I’d have come away with an award, even with my Very Slow Pace.  What was going on here?!

Well, I think when you get to be about *ahem* 43(ISH), and you start to fight metabolism and hormones and failures and expectations, you start looking for something–no matter how emotionally or spiritually mature you are.   Many of us have buried a parent.  Some of us have buried friends and even children.  We view our lives WAY differently than we did when we were in our 20’s.

So a 40-ISH woman faces her world and thinks, “Sheesh, how did I get here, compared to where I figured I’d be (even if “here” is absolutely Wonderful!) and where on earth am I headed.”  And that 40-ish woman looks at her life and her wonderfully metabolism-challenged body and says, “Well, this is ONE area where I actually CAN make a difference, God willing.”  And then she begins to make some decisions. 

In short, she begins a Strategy for managing the Wake-Up Call that is Midlife.  For many, that involves taking up the sport of running.  And THAT, I believe, is why there are so many stinking competitors in the Old Lady Masters Female divisions of the races that I run. 

And Survivor?  What does this have to do with Survivor?  Especially because the cute little pixie who still has her metabolism intact won the big prize? 

It has everything to do with Survivor.  Because the game is about Strategy.  Strategy.  It’s about being On Purpose.  People with WAY different values and ethics and morals–VERY different strategies–have won this game in different seasons.  But nobody won on accident.  Everyone who won, won with a strategy.  Just. Like. Life.

If you want to “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay” whatever issue you’re facing in life, you’re going to need a strategy.   And everybody’s got some Issue that they’re facing.  Most people have lots of Issues working at the same time.

Your strategy won’t be the same as your neighbor’s.  And whether yours is noble and worthy and righteous is between you and God, quite frankly.  The thing I know for sure, is that without a strategy, you’re sure to drift into the stream of life, with no real purpose and leaving no real mark.  You’ll be voted off the island of your hopes and dreams.

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My strategy, when I looked into the mirror and barely recognized myself anymore, was multifaceted.  Part of that strategy involved a focus on my health.  Part of that focus involved exercise, specifically running.  Part of that involvement, included races and training.  And part of that training includes each and every run and rest day in my training schedule. 

I’ve picked a strategy for this part of this season of my life and I’m sticking with it.  Every stride and every mouthful is part of my strategy for navigating the “physical” part of this season of my life.  For me this involves Long Run Friday, trail runs, race numbers, and Body Glide.  It will probably be different for you.  But still I ask you and I challenge you: 

What’s your season?  Make a decision.  Make a plan.  Commit to a strategy.  If you’re a godly person, commit that strategy and plan to God and allow Him to change it if you discern your strategy is out-to-lunch.  And by all means, Get Busy. 

Plan.  Commit.  Act.  Learn.  Adjust.  Grow.  Encourage.  Enjoy Results.  Give Thanks.  (Repeat regularly as necessary, which will be often, and bathe each step in prayer if you’re so inclined). 

It won’t look the same for any two people.  It’s not a cookie-cutter approach to success.  Without it, the best of us are doomed to failure and with it, we each have a shot at our prize, whatever that means to us.

It’s the formula for effectiveness in running.  In business.  In raising a family.  In being a good friend.  In playing Survivor.  In life. 

Which is exactly why I Love The Game.

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