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So when you saw the title of this post, did you really think I was going to post my “Before” photos here in all of my XL glory?  Seriously?  HA HA HA HA  No.

But here’s the idea: 

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Now please, before you go reading anything into this cartoon, please know I just snagged it from google images (credit given) because the lady still looked cute, even for a big girl.  Kinda like me.  So I appreciate her struggles, even though she is, well, a cartoon.

The thing is, I DID just take some super-duper-top-secret “BEFORE” photos.  I’m getting ready to start something new this Monday and I’m certain that the last quarter of 2010 is going to yield awesome results for me physically!  The Before Photos will be my evidence of how far I’ve come. 

But I am most certainly NOT going to be sharing those “Before” Pics here unless I’ve got some hottie “After” Pics of myself to post along side them.  This will take time, effort, and cooperation from my metabolism.

If you want to know why most people don’t embark on these weight-loss odysseys that require photographic evidence, I have a theory. 

I do NOT think the problem is not wanting to face one’s blubbery image on the screen.  I do NOT think the problem is embarrassment of the throngs of curiousity-seekers who might ogle at your photo like some sort of freak in a carnival tent. 

No, I’m pretty confident that the Real Issue is that Before Photos are NOT a one-person job.  There is another person clicking away at the camera to capture all that voluptuousness.  In theory, this photographer is an encourager, someone who you trust.  But the Before Photo is where theory meets reality. 

It’s ugly, people.  In so many ways.

I shall illustrate.

My photographic helpers were daughters Ninja (11 year-old tomboy) and Princess (10 year-old girlie girl). 

Princess:  Mom, you don’t look that fat.  You look cute.

Ninja:  You don’t look fat at all Mom.  (pause)  *giggle*

Me:  What?

Ninja:  (collecting herself)  No.  You look great Mom. 

Princess:  It’s just that we’re not used to seeing you with, you know, THAT (points to my XL belly sticking out between the bottom of my bright yellow running bra and the waist of my black compression shorts.)

Me:  Yes, I usually try to be more modest.  It’s not like I’m going to be wearing this get-up out at…

Princess:  (interrupting)  No, really Mom.  It’s not that you look like a hootchie or anything.  It’s just that I had no idea your belly was so…

Ninja:  (cutting her off)  Let’s take the pictures, now.  (clicks away at camera)  Okay, turn to the side now.

Me:  (turning) Like this?

Ninja:  Sure.  Yeah, Yes…Yes…  ACK!  WOW!  Oh Mom, I had no idea. 

(Princess flees from hallway photography studio, possibly in fear, possibly to avoid being caught laughing at mama.)

Me:  Nice.  Did you get the stinking picture?

Ninja:  Yeah, Mom.  Here’s your camera. 

Me:  (looking at the photos)  Ugh.  I have my work cut out for me.  Thanks for your help, girls.

Princess:  (peeking back around the corner)  You really do look cute, Mom.

Ninja:  In a silly kind of way.

Princess:  Yes, “silly.”  That’s it exactly.

Me:  (muttering to myself as I head away from the camera crew, who I imagine is now dissolving into a fit of giggles) I guess the whole experience could have been worse.

Helpful Husband:  (from the next room) What experience?

Exactly.

So this is exactly why most people do NOT put themselves through the ordeal of those Before Photos. 

Marathon training?  No problem. 

Intense cardio?  Awesome.

Strength training from hell?  Bring it. 

They are small potatoes compared to the ordeal of the Before Photos. 

But I figure if you can make it through the Before Photo ordeal, then everything else is downhill from there! 

Check back with me on December 31, and I’ll tell you whether it was worth it!  🙂

 [UPDATE:] 

Helpful Husband has now been exposed to this blog post.  After laughing hysterically–a little too loud and long, I might add–he asks, “When did this happen?  Was it here?  Was I here?  Really?” 

“A couple weeks ago.  Yes.  Yes.  And yes.”  Hard stare at HH.

Long pause while HH ponders whether he would have been in more trouble if he’d been involved during the infamous photo shoot than he is for being so very unaware. 

Again, I say, it could have been worse!

 

 

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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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If you’re not from around these parts, you’re probably wondering, “What in the world is a Kennekuk?”  Excellent question.  Here is my answer.  “Kennekuk” is several different, very awesome things. 

Most widely understood, it’s one of our local county parks that is absolutely amazing.  If you’re a nature person or a trail person or a enjoy-the-peace-and-serenity-of-the-prairie person, then this park is for you and you owe it to yourself to visit there.  A lot.  If you’re not from the area, it’s worth the drive to visit.  A lot. 

Kennekuk can also refer to the Native American Kickapoo leader for whom (I believe) the park was named.  If you’re a history person, this will interest you.   A lot.

Most germane to this blog, Kennekuk refers to the Greatest Running Club in the Universe.   If you’re a runner, this group will inspire, entertain, challenge, support, amuse, encourage, and amaze you.  A lot.

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I first became involved with the Kennekuk Road Runners when I ran in the Memorial Day 5K that my friend Chris suckered me into running.  This was such a well run race and people were so nice and encouraging, it was a very easy step to try the next race.  Since it was members-only, I bit the bullet and joined the group with its Most-Affordable-Family-Membership-Fee-Ever

The first member race which followed shortly was the Clear Pond Trail Run.  The organization raised money for local animal shelters during this event, which was a see-how-far-you-can-run-in-five-hours-you-crazy-person event.  I’ll give you my observations and experiences on the Clear Pond Trail Run in a separate post, I promise.

This group of people is highly organized and professional.  They work very hard.  And they have a great time at everything they do.  People from around the nation have joined this organization for these and other awesome reasons. 

Personally, the thing I found to be amazing was that in this brief time running near the very back of the pack with these amazing runners, they were amazing enough people that they took the time to be incredibly welcoming and encouraging, not just about their club, but also about the sport of running. 

They’re the first ones to tell someone, “Good job!  Keep it up!” when you know that your lumbering, staggering pace is not a “good job” in anyone’s wildest imagination.  Yet, somehow, while you’re out there running, these people’s positive opinions and encouragement actually matters to you and urge you forward, with the great anticipation of finishing the race on your feet. 

And the fact is, each one of these people started somewhere.  Some were awesome athletes all their lives, I suppose.  And then there are my kindred spirits: a group of them who decided to pull their acts together at some point in their lives and do the Hard Work of getting back in shape after years of neglect.  They know that getting started is a “good job” and your first run is a “good job” and any personal record is a “good job” and that there are days when just plain not quitting is a “good job.” 

The bottom line is, they’ve been there.  And they haven’t forgotten the journey to where they are now.  And they’re happy to be a voice of encouragement to someone else starting down that path.   Hearing their voices sure helped me to remember that my own “good job” had a great deal more to do with showing up and trying than with finishing in any particular place or time.  And for me, that support was something I desperately needed to stick with the sport in the beginning stages. 

These superstars give time and encouragement and, yes, respect for anyone willing to lace up their shoes and come out and run, no matter what that newbie’s fitness level or experience.  They are ready to celebrate your “good job” with you, whatever that looks like, and without comparing it to the next guy (that one who lapped you four times, yeah, him). 

As a mama, I’m used to being the expert in lots of things.  I’m used to being the one doing the encouraging.  So it was an extra bonus to hear that atta-girl coming my way as I hauled myself over those courses and on those trails. 

Thanks Kennekuk Road Runners.  Yeah, I definitely wanna be like them when I grow up.  🙂

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As promised from yesterday, Part Two.  If you didn’t read about all the challenges our Happy Family had in adjusting to having Mom Who Runs in the mix, click back to yesterday and get back on the same page with the rest of us before reading on.  No, really.  Click back.  Sigh.  I’ll make it easy for you.  Click here!  We’ll wait for you.

Before going any further, I just wanted to say that this post is written from and for the perspective of The Mom.  This doesn’t mean it’s useless for The Dad, The Kid, or The Candlestick-Maker.  It just happens to be written from the perspective of Mom, since that’s, well, my perspective.  Dads, kids, candlestick-makers, please feel included and loved.

Okay, now that you’re up to speed:  I think there are a lot of Very Busy Moms (who may just be accustomed to putting themselves last–it’s a mom thing) who, like me have struggled to keep fit, because the wants, needs and demands of Happy Family, came first.  In defense of Happy Family, it was usually our decision to put them first, but our last-placeness still is a major hurdle to our ability to keep up with an exercise program of any kind. 

In fact, I’m sure of it, because that’s one of the major things I hear from my mom-buds out there.  It’s also true of my workaholic-buds out there.  I can’t even get into the ever-stressed, mega-multitasking-workaholic-mom-buds.  Even when these gals have the time, they’re so exhausted at the end of the day that the last thing they can think of is running.   And the thought of doing something consistently?  Ha!  I don’t think so.

Enter, the “Why.”  You may have heard it before, but it bears repeating:  If you don’t have a good enough “why,” then “when” or “how” or “with whom” really won’t matter anyway.  There needs to be a reason that you’re doing what you’re doing that draws you forward even when things are difficult or awkward or frustrating (because you can be assured they will be).  

What’s your “Why” for running?  You might have more than one “Why.”  That’s great.  But it will have to be something that’s important enough to YOU (not your husband or your mother or your pastor or your best friend) to make yourself get your tired fanny out of your warm bed at 6:00 a.m. to brave the 45 degree weather, pounding the pavement with nothing but your Under Armour, your shoes, and your pepper spray for an hour. 

I’m one of those over-achievers who has several “Why’s.”  Yes, I’ll share them all with you at some point, but the one you already know about (remember that link you just clicked) had to do with being able to race in VA Beach with my baby brother. 

If this had just been about the race, it never would have been a big enough reason for me.  But this was about seeing my brother.  It was about spending time with him when I hadn’t seen him in many years.  It was about being so honored and humbled that he asked me to come visit and was willing, given his abilities as a serious endurance athlete, to extend his patience and stick with me at my pace and have his first half-marathon be so much slower than he was capable of running.  It was about wanting to be able to finish so that we could finish together more than finishing the race at all.  It was about growing-up:  realizing that he was no longer the ornery 10 year-old kid who would run backwards (yes, backwards) in front of me, teasing me as I moved with great effort at (my) top speed, spurred forward mostly by the thought of throttling him if I ever caught him (I didn’t).   In a big way, it was also about healing:  we’re really different people and have had our issues with each other, some big, and the fact that he asked me to come and spend time with him was a tremendously Big Deal to me.   I simply HAD to do this.

That, my friends, was a “Why” worth dedicating weeks of my life to a training program for. 

And I promise you, without that “Why” (and the others to be shared later!), Happy Family NEVER would have been willing to consider A New Way of Doing Things Around Here. 

Here’s how it went down:  I was able to share with my Happy Family how important this adventure was to me and how much I wanted to be able to do it.  Different women will find success in different means of communicating their “Why.”  Some may employ the “It would greatly support me in being more of a Proverbs 31 wife and mother around here.”  Others may find the June Cleaver approach useful:  “Surely you would want to support me in something so wonderful.  In the meantime, would you like a cookie?”  And still others will find success with the tried and true:  “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” 

In truth, I used a combination of these communication styles, but to my Happy Family’s credit it really was not a difficult “sell” and they were and are very supportive of this (and my other) running adventure(s). 

Once Happy Family has enthusiastically pledged their support of you in your Great Adventure, this is the time to mention that if you are going to be able to do this (and remain healthy, for heaven sakes) then there will need to be A New Way of Doing Things Around Here.  As for me, I let me family know that I would be following a training program and scheduling my runs/workouts in the way that (hopefully) would least upset their world, but that at least one day per week, I would need extra support while they were On Their Own during my long runs and recoveries. 

After this, it was VERY important for me to put each of my runs on our family calendar.  Don’t have a family calendar, Busy Mom?  Get one.  If you are going to train for an endurance race (my highly recommended manner of helping Happy Family adjust to the transition of having Mom Who Runs as their new mama), then you’ll need to start placing your workouts on the schedule right next to the piano lessons, soccer practice, kindermusik, and hubby’s bowling night.  Every bit of it’s important, Mama, including YOUR bit.  Putting on a calendar and putting it somewhere for everyone to see not only helps you stay organized, but also helps your Happy Family adjust to the fact that your bits are every bit as important as their bits.  Plus which, they get to see, literally, exactly how they are supporting you. 

Don’t overlook this step–if you’ve got Happy Family’s buy-in, it’s a home run.  For me it’s been a wonderful way of expressing expectations and sharing celebrations.  It’s helped me express to my family that I need their support as much as they need mine, and it also reminds me to express my appreciation for the sacrifices they make for me to have these running adventures. 

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The scheduling is important.  Critical even.  Because nobody has “spare time.”  LOL for real.  What is that, even?  For me, the key to having a consistent exercise program was to schedule my runs in first–before everything else.  How come?  Because it was the thing my family and I were least used to doing.  So I knew it would be the hardest thing to do and the easiest thing to blow off. 

An Example Problem:  In my case, I was unwilling to miss my daughters’ softball games in order to go on a run.  It was summer and we spent a lot of time on those stinking bleachers watching two different diamonds worth of softball.  Solution:  I figured out the distance from my front door to the bleachers and the amount of time it would take me to run/walk/crawl that distance.  Then I would leave my house 15-20 minutes before Happy Family on foot and they would at some point pass me in the car on the way to the game.  I timed it so I arrived about 10 minutes before the games.  I still owe a debt of gratitude to the other parents who endured me on the bleachers during those games while I was so stinky and sweaty.   The key for me, was I didn’t miss my runs and I didn’t miss my kids’ games.

You’ll have to be creative and you’ll have to schedule your runs.  For me, each and every time my kids are in a supervised activity that doesn’t require my participation or observation (P.E., art class, dance), I’m running on a planned run.  When they’re at the ice rink, I’m often running the stairs at the arena.  It may sound wacky, but if the alternative is not running on a scheduled day, then I’m potentially setting myself up for injury or failure at my next event. 

As a homeschool mom, this kind of creativity has been critical, because my kids don’t attend a traditional classroom, where I have the benefit of the free time when they’re not with me.  Mom’s who work outside the home, as I did for many years, would have a similar challenge:  not wanting to miss your kids’ events and at the same time, not short-changing our training.   Single moms, this is the time to call in your favors and ask for scheduled, consistent support from friends, family, neighbors and sitters.  Some moms may need to work with their bosses to have a day shortened in order to get those long runs in.

(Listen, this really is not extreme.  It does happen.  It can happen.  And it must happen, especially for you to get the long runs in.  You know what else–you’re worth it.  Your “Why” is worth it.  And when you cross that finish line, everyone who sacrificed a minute for your success will have earned the right to celebrate the success.  Moms Who Run love to share their success.  Another great thing about us!)

 Here’s what it took for my Happy Family to celebrate these victories and embark on this New Way of Doing Things Around Here:

  • Discovering my “Why’s”
  • Communicating those “Why’s”
  • Assuring my Family’s Support for My Training for an Endurance Event
  • Scheduling my Workouts (weeks and sometimes months in advance), According to the Training Program for the Race
  • Trusting my Family to Handle Everything Just Fine While I’m Running (sometimes the hardest part for control-freaks like me)
  • Appreciating my Family for Their Sacrifice and Support
  • And Doing the Doing:  Getting Out There, Regardless of Whether It Was Easy or Convenient or Felt Good That Day, and Running!

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