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Posts Tagged ‘victory’

Dear Metabolism, 

I miss you.  Really.  I miss you a lot. 

So much so that today I started searching for a photo of you, just to remember you by.  To my joy, here is what I found: 

Great Metabolism

(Photo Credit) 

But upon closer inspection, I realized, this isn’t MY metabolism.  It’s just some dude.  Kind of like those pictures of other people that come in the frames at Target.  

So I kept looking.  Then I saw you: 

My Metabolism

(Photo Credit) 

Very nice, you slacker.  You’re totally off the job!  Seriously–what on earth has happened to you?  Surely you’re not going to try to give me that excuse that I’M to blame for your disrepair, are you?! 

Listen, I know that getting older makes everything a little more rusty, but this is ridiculous.  And what’s with the hiding out at the bottom of that stairwell like some kind of bum?  

Well, you’re right about one thing.  You definitely need help.  And if you want it, you’ve got it.  We’re going to work together to get you back in fine shape. 

But you’re going to have to cooperate with me. 

No more of this deal where I do all the work and you stay asleep or in a daze.  No more hiding out when there’s metabolizing to be done!  

We are getting ready to kick this health thing into higher gear, and I’ve gotta have your cooperation.   Understand? 

You’re getting ready to experience some jolts to your broken-down, sleepy lifestyle, Metabolism. 

I’m getting ready to experience even better health and maybe even the loss of 30, 40 or 50 pounds.  

And those people out there, the ones who are looking in at you through their computer screens, reading this?  Consider them like the wild fans at a hockey game or a wrestling match, cheering on the home team (that would be me) onto total victory.  

In short, YOU belong to ME.  Brace yourself.  And consider yourself warned. 

Oh, and feel better soon.  Looking forward to seeing more of you!  

Your friend, 

Shannon 

 

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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.

Photo Credit

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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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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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. 

clock

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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running-up-hill[1]

Photo Credit

When I walk out my door, I come face-to-face with a huge hill.  Literally. 

So any “little run” is also a hill run for me, which may have been the reason that most of my runs began as walks early in my running journey.

I had a strategy, which was to run when I could and walk when I had to.  Due to the steepness and quantity of the hills and my general lack of conditioning, that meant walking most of the time and running down the hills. 

I remember counting the seconds, then the minutes that I could run on the flat spaces of ground, after the downhill sprints and before the uphill challenges.  Then I remember being able to run a few yards, then a few more yards, on some of the easier inclines.  Each time I could run a few seconds longer or a few yards further, I scored one in the win column, as far as I was concerned.  Wasn’t it Vince Lombardi that said success is measured in inches?  Then there was the day, when I whipped the hill in front of my house.  Woo Hoo!  But the worst hill was yet to come.

If you’re from my community, you know the hill I’m talking about.  Going back into town across the bridge, that nasty, deceptive incline pretends to be one length and then gently curves around to reveal you’re only half way up!  The hill itself is a half mile long and steep.  It took tremendous effort to even walk up that beast the first couple months of my training.

I never quit.  I never turned around and just went home.  Even if I had to stop and walk, I finished that thing with every ounce of energy I had in me.

At last, early on Saturday, July 11th, during the beginning of a nine-mile run, I made it all the way up that stinking hill without stopping to walk!  Oh yeah, baby!  No matter what else happened, this was going to be a GREAT day! 

rocky-victory[1]

Photo Credit

And, yes, I most certainly DID have the Rocky music playing in the soundtrack of my mind.  I had finally conquered that beast of a hill and I was going to enjoy that victory for all it was worth.  

If I could do it, anybody can do it.  I’m still running that hill several times a week.  Still hearing the Rocky music playing in my mind.  And still thanking God for the strength and tenacity to beat that beast each time I encounter it.  Yes! 

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