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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.

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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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So today, my choice is this:  

My awesome running shoes that I L-O-V-E

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Or this: 

Hockey skates. Not mine. For sure.

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Option A: 

Today I have hockey (Ninja’s practice–leave at 6 a.m.) and hockey (amazing high school game–spectator–leave at 3 p.m.)  and hockey (awesome, but brutal, college game–spectator–no departure time, we actually will never have left the rink). 

See, Ninja (11 year-old–for one more day–ice hockey goalie on a boys’ team) has a Hockey Day ahead of her and I am Transport.  Helpful Husband is working All Day tomorrow, so really, he’s not helping so much in the Transport department.  

Option B  is:  

Run.  

And herein lies the problem.  For mamas.  Maybe for dadas too, but I really have yet to figure these guys out, so I just can’t speak for them.  The problem: 

I have a commitment to myself.  Ninja has a commitment to herself, her team, her development, her future, her possibilities, her…  You get the picture.  

Listen, if you’re a mama (parent), you probably recognize the agonizing decisions that have to be made when faced with your exercise routine versus your kids’ activities/involvement/commitments.  

And you, no doubt, surely are expecting to find some sort of get-tough motivation from this marathoning mama.  You might be predicting I’ll tell my kid to find herself a ride to her 14,952 activities she has scheduled for the day.  

Yeah!  Gotta love myself before I can love anybody else!  Gotta refill the emotional and physical tank first! Gotta take care of myself so there’s someone there to take care of those kiddos!  Of course, that’s what you’d expect from me. 

So who will be taking Ninja to her multitude of hockey commitments tomorrow?  If you’re a mama, you’ve probably already guessed it: 

Me.  

Yep.  Totally sold out on my workout for this Saturday.  Putting my Svelte-Self in the back seat and my Real-Self in the front seat as my kid sleeps while I drive an hour to get her to practice at the crack of dawn.  

Does this make me a Work-Out-Sell-Out?  Maybe.  But I hope not.  

Because years from now, my daughter might just remember the opportunities I’ve given her.  An even slimmer chance:  she might actually appreciate the opportunities I’ve given her.  But no matter what, I know for sure:  

I’ll remember the look on her sleeping face as her goalie stick rests on the pillow above her head while we drive to her early morning practice.  I’ll appreciate the chance to watch her sleep peacefully, not a single worry in the world, even though she’s navigating the turbulent ocean that is pre-teen life.  

And I’ll know I’ve contributed to something, someone, important.  Bigger than the workout, the run, the exercise schedule.  Bigger than me.  

Which is the difference between being a standard, regular Runner and being Mom-Who-Runs.  

If I’m a sell-out, then I’m a sell-out-for-my-kids.  Not every time.  But when it matters.  

The run, the sit-ups, the treadmill, will all be there later in the day.  Or even *gasp* tomorrow. 

And the wait is worth it.  

And I will be gentle with myself and stop judging myself about it. 

And for today, it is really, REALLY okay.

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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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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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