Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Resolution Complete

AMAZING! That is the word I am going to use to describe how I feel right now.  I set a goal of completing one 5k race a month for 2012 back on January 1st of this year and today I completed that goal.  I don't think I have ever stuck to any resolutions I made in the past.  I think I may have only made a few, but really I do not remember.  I know I have had a few short term goals, like giving up chocolate for lent way back in 1996.  I succeeded the one time I tried it, but refuse to do it again.  (Ask my family and business partners what I am like when I try to avoid chocolate.  "Nightmare" may be a good word.)  I made it all the way though the 100 Day Burpee Challenge and gained some nice looking arms and posture from it. (Maybe I should do that again beginning January 1st, 2013.  Who's with me?)  I cannot remember any other consistent goals I have made and achieved.  Certainly not one that lasted an entire year.  This is one I will never forget because it changed my life in so may ways.  Don't worry, I am not going to turn into a blubbering mess and talk about how and why.  I think you get the picture from previous posts.

For those of you interested in which races I actually did and my time, here they are:
Date Race Location Bib # Time
1/1/2012 Resolution Run Hillsborough, NJ 158 36:21:35
2/18/2012 Sneaker Factory Hot Chocolate Series #3 Long Branch, NJ 171 31:46:02
3/18/2012 Get Your Rear in Gear Philadelphia, PA 485 32:20:46
4/29/2012 Montgomery Run with Rotory Montgomery, NJ 37 32:15:00
5/6/2012 Big Red Race Lawrenceville, NJ 537 30:00:09
6/3/2012 Girls on the Run Somerville, NJ 1329 30:33:02
7/30/2012 Running with the Balloons Readington, NJ 68 30:45:02
8/26/2012 George Wah Memorial  Hamilton, NJ 398 30:47:00
9/30/2012 LiveStrong 5K - Princeton YMCA West Windsor, NJ 852 29:15:06
10/28/2012 Pennington Get Bookin' 5k Pennington, NJ 38 28:26:21
11/18/2012 Girls on the Run Somerville, NJ 1293 29:59:07
12/26/2012 Boxing Day 5k Hillsborough, NJ None 29:17:00

I shaved a little over 7 minutes off my time from when I began.  That is certainly something to celebrate.  If you read the post "In the Beginning", you would know that all I wanted to for that race was to be able to jog the whole thing without walking (which I did. Okay, I shuffled a lot, but I didn't walk.)  From there it was just consistent practice. March's race I did with a friend.  She had only run on a treadmill up to that day and was concerned that she would be slow.  I told her we'd stay together no matter how fast or slow we went.  We had a wonderful time and she was amazed at our time.  I knew she could do it.  I loved the May race because they had kiddie races.  The children ran 25 and 50 meters and got medals for it.  (Fostering the love of running at the age of 3 and 5? Maybe.)
The June race was the first time I placed in my age group.  I really did not expect it at all and was set to leave after finishing as we had to be somewhere that afternoon, but my husband said we had to stay.  I insisted there was some kind of mistake, but there I was with a second place medal.  I told him it was because the parents and coaches were running with their young girls but if they had run on their own, I would never have placed.  He told me to shut up and just be happy for my placement.  (Okay, he said it in a much nicer way, but that's how it translated in my head.)  In September I finally broke the 30 minute mark.  That was another incredible celebration.  It was something I had always hope to get to one day and it was for a race that I had to raise money for as well.  Good community cause = double bonus.  The following month I placed 1st in my age group.  Again I was shocked and made comments like, it was a small race, but I was happy.  As Gary says, it's about who shows up, not the whole world.  Then there's today.

Today was the Official-Unofficial Boxing Day 5k Race. (Or is it the Unofficial-Official Boxing Day 5k Race?) What does that mean? Well, in November I looked for races scheduled in December.  The ones I found were on Saturdays.  I work all day Saturdays so those are out of the question.  There were two on a Sunday morning and I figured I would do one of them.  I did not sign up ahead of time because I needed to figure out logistics and make sure I had the money to enter the race.  Of course life happens and next thing I knew I had missed those two Sunday races.  Damn! I was going to sign up for the Peeps 5k Race in Bethlehem, PA, on the 30th, but then I needed to find someone to watch mom and the kids for me during that time.  Someone who was available and willing to drive out to PA with me.  That's when Gary suggested I run the Resolution Run course.  It's a USA Track & Field - NJ sanctioned and certified course.  He was willing to be the official timer and he put a message out to his running group and invited them to run with me.

I thought I would be the only one running this thing and then I saw someone in running gear.  Then another, and another.  I knew a few of the runners and others I did not.  Next thing I knew, there were 12 of us.  Twelve crazy nuts (and I mean that in the nicest way) standing there in 28 degrees of cold ready to run.  Most of them were wearing boxers.  Boxing day, wearing boxer shorts, get it?  Wish I knew they were doing that, I would have gladly been uncomfortable with boxers crowding my crotch as I ran as well.  I assumed they all knew each other, but they did not.  They greeted each other and then yelled, "Wait where's Kathy? We're doing this for her!" I wish I could remember all of their names because they were so nice.  They ran along with me and one another chatting as if we were already friends.  Then one runner introduced himself to another and they shook hands.  How does one do that while running without tripping? Why are they making me set the pace? Which way are we supposed to go again?

Funny side note on the pace....Gary told them I would be running an eleven minute pace.  I told him that was my pace because it was and is my marathon pace.  I didn't realize he was asking about my 5k pace.  Plus, I always get all anxious and fidgety at races that I just take off.  (I know, not the smartest move, but I can't help it.)  In addition, I felt like I had to run faster because they are all experienced runners who probably want to run faster.  (It's what's in my head, people.)  So to the gang, please do not be upset with Gary, it was completely my fault.  I was overly excited about the turn out, and the idea of finishing my resolution.

I have to say thank you though for the support I received.  Everyone was so encouraging.  They let me lead and then take off near the end.  When I started to slow down, they kept pace along side me telling me that I could do it and to sprint to the finish.  Then they held back and let me cross the finish line first to the cheers of my mother and children.  Gary presented me with a trophy for completing my 2012 Resolution.  You may be able to see in the picture it says "Hunterdon Half- 1st Place Age Group Male." It's from his Hunterdon Half Iron Sprint Triathlon.  He recycled it just for me.  So sweet.  And thank you to Gary for giving up his Wednesday morning to help me complete my goals and providing consistent guidance.  I have never run as a group before.  I am always intimidated by group runs.  Not really sure why.  I think I am afraid of letting people down when I can't make it to a scheduled run, or that I would hold the group back.  Today showed me that I really should reconsider that notion.  It was so much fun to run with others.  Chatting with others distracted me from my pace.  I knew I was pushing it, but it was still comfortable and I needed that push.  I also learned that I am not the only one getting aches and pains in my calves and that maybe I should change the insoles of my shoes.

I am thrilled to have completed this resolution with the support of family and friends.  I think for 2013 I will resolve to try one new thing a month and see where it takes me.  After all, I am headed to Boston all because I decided to run and then complete an application for something I thought would never happen.  Jump in with both feet! WHY NOT?!

If you'd like to support me in my Boston Marathon Fundraising Efforts for the Massage Therapy Foundation, please visit my CrowdRise Page.  Every donation is appreciated.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Roller Coaster Ride

It has been quite the emotional week.  After our MTF Team conference call, I was so excited to focus on my training.  I visualized my week to come and was looking forward to the holiday celebrations.  Then I saw the breaking news feed on my phone and quickly turned on the television.  Like nearly everyone, I was shocked and horrified by the devastation that occurred in Newtown, CT.  How could this happen? Why and how could anyone do this?!  I cried as I listened to the news reports and wanted to run out and pick my children up from school and daycare.  I knew they were safe and well cared for where they were, but I wanted to hold them and shield them, as if I could protect them forever.  What would I do once I got them home? They would find out eventually and I would prefer to tell them myself so that I could answer any questions they may have, but I just did not know what to say at that moment.  I thought about how excited Alex and Evan were for Christmas and how they had been asking for weeks to decorate the outside of our home.  I drove to the nearest store and purchased some outdoor lights and decorations.  With the help of a neighbor I put everything up and arranged Andy and Ella the Elves near the window so that it looked like they were the decorating culprits.  When the children returned home, they were surprised and excited to see the colorful lights.  That evening I explained in the simplest terms what happened to the children and teachers in Newtown, CT.  They asked a few questions and expressed their concerns, but they were not afraid to go to school, nor were they afraid of the world.  That evening, we all snuggled in our bed together.

Saturday morning, while at work, I received a message from my cousin that our grandmother had passed.  She was 89 years old and had been falling ill for some time, so it was expected, but still heartbreaking no less.  Between clients, my siblings and I worked on travel plans to get out to Missouri for the funeral later that week.  I spent the next few days working and taking care of holiday errands.  I had a mini-break down Monday morning after dropping my son off to school.  I did not sleep too well and stuck to my training on Tuesday and Wednesday, even if it meant waking up super early to get everything done. 

The funeral was simple and beautiful.  Grandma lived a long life.  She worked hard from a very young age, never giving up when obstacles jumped in her way.  Never showed how tired she was, and never bothered with people’s nonsense.   In her later years, she traveled the world and really enjoyed the life she put on hold for so long.  It was a beautiful tribute, and it was wonderful to reconnect with my cousins, aunt, and uncles.  I had not seen anyone from that side of the family since 2008 for my father’s funeral.  I missed them a lot.  The bright side of this unfortunate trip; I got to have some bonding time with my little sister…who, by the way, is much taller and spunkier than me.  Yes, spunkier.  We also got to share some fresh, hot Krispy Kreme’s with our brother.  Yes, I know doughnuts are not part of my training, but they were warm, gooey, and delicious! Can you blame me for having a dozen?  

Friday morning my sister and I woke up early to drive to St. Louis from Springfield so that we could catch our flight home.  That’s when I discovered that the son of an old high school friend died earlier that morning.  He was only 10 years old.  He had spent the last three and a half years of his young life fighting cancer.  I never met him, but loved to read about him on her Facebook wall.  He seemed like a fun, bright young man who loved so much about life, even before the cancer.  My heart felt heavy as I thought about what my friend, her husband, and her other children were going through.  And yet, there was such an amazing show of love and support from family and friends from all over on Facebook for the family.  From people she’s known from infancy, to new connections. 

I missed my run on Friday.  Life never slows down, regardless of what goes on around you, and so I went about my obligations.  On Sunday I set out for my long run.  The first half was a struggle.  My turn over was slow, my claves tightened, my mind was bouncing from one thought to another, and my heart ached from the emotional rollercoaster of the past week.  I cried on my run.  The last time that happened was about a year ago when I started running from the mess and stress of my life at that time.  By mile seven, I felt better.  My feet moved a little quicker, my calves loosened a bit, my mind calmed down and my heart felt lighter.  I reminded myself that all these things are a part of life and it’s the universe’s frustrating way of teaching us how to adapt. 

It is the last hour of Christmas day.  I think about where I was when I started running.  Life was so different then.  I was miserable.   I think about how far I have come and how I got here.  I lay here with my family, counting my blessings.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I think about my high school friend, my aunt and uncles, and the Newton, CT families.  I wish for their hearts to heal.  I hope they will be able to make sense of it all and find a way to channel these devastations into something positive one day.  I hope one day they can find peace.  I hope the New Year will be better for everyone.  Merry Christmas friends! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pink Shirts?

I have been wanting to let you in on my fun running antics for days; however, I have been incredibly busy! Gary (my business partner and Mr. Iron Man) is my coach.  I keep asking him for a training schedule and he keeps saying, "Don't worry, you have time!" Yeah, okay Iron Man, maybe YOU can train for a marathon in 12-14 weeks, but I can't.  So I just did what I normally do and went out three days a week.  If you don't already know, it's dark in NJ, in the fall at 5 A.M.  Normally it doesn't bother me, but Tuesday (of last week) someone or something ran behind me.  I turned around to see who or what it was, but nothing was there.  Maybe it was a deer.  They lurk and frolic everywhere, and don't care for jughandles.  So I kept running when something brushed up against my cheek.  I tried to figure out what it could be; but again, nothing was there.  Maybe I should invest in a head lamp, and while I am at it a nicer reflector vest.  The one I am using from Ikea is floppy and unflattering.

Wednesday I bought a head lamp and new reflector vest. Sexy, isn't it? Really, it's so much better than the old one. (I LOVE EMS! I could spend the whole day in that store.)  By Thursday, I was so excited to use my new gear.  I went out with my light on and guess what? Thick fog everywhere.  The lamp just amplified the dense, white, cloud that surrounded me, so no light on that run.  I don't know if anyone could even see the new reflective vest I was sporting.  Come to think of it, I don't think anyone else was out but me.  I never passed a car on the roads that morning and I never found the two other runners crazy enough to run at 5 A.M.  They both wear head lamps and stylish reflective vests.  For some reason, it looks much better on them. They must be fitness models.

The weekend was whirlwind of children, work, work parties, running, and more work.  Finally by Tuesday of this week, Gary hands me a training schedule.  It was to start that day.  Good thing I already got my morning run in, but what is this? He wants me to run four days a week?  FOUR? Is he nuts?! The answer is yes, but I promised to follow his advice and went back out on Wednesday, incorporating hills into my run.  There's a small hill not too far from my house that the fire station sits upon. When I first started running I could NEVER make it up that hill.  Now I can, but I never attempted to run up and down it before.  This day I charged up that hill four times.  I was pleased with my first two uphill sprints. The third time I had to slow down and by the four try, I ended up walking the last bit of it, so I headed back home after that attempt.  I was happy, but boy did I feel the burn in my glutes the next day.  Yesterday, I was supposed to get some cross training in.  Pilates or Yoga would be nice, but I was too tired to get up at five and I never found the time in the evening.  You would think that I would know by now that exercise is never going to happen if it isn't before my minions wake up.

Today is my secret day off.  Shh, don't tell anyone.  Alex (my 6 year old), had his school holiday concert.  Then I had a conference call with Paul and Ginny from the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF).  Also, on the call were my team mates Les and Tom.  Everyone seems very nice and excited.  Les has run a few marathons before. Tom sounds like a fitness crazed junky.  That's quite all right with me.  I have no problems with running in their dust.  I think I am going to "tra la la" my way to the finish line in my hot pink MTF team shirt. Yes, hot pink.  No, it's not really the color we will be wearing; just merely an entertaining suggestion from the only female runner on the team.  It's also what I am going to imagine what we are all wearing every time I visualize the marathon.  What are YOUR thoughts on the pink team shirt? I'd love to know.  Can't you just see Les,Tom, and I in hot pink shirts? I can!

Well, it's time to help our shelf Elves decorate the house before the minions come home.  In the mean time, I'd really appreciate it if you could help with my fundraiser:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In the Beginning

For those of you who do not know me personally, you wouldn't know how I used to hate running.  In high school I would choose the gym activity that had the least amount of running involved.  Things like volleyball, weight lifting, gymnastics, and floor hockey.  Okay, there's quite a bit of running involved in floor hockey, but I always volunteered to be the goalie.  (As I remember a pretty good one too, but I am sure friends would tell you otherwise.)  I would rather take a puck to the face than run after one.  The point is, I NEVER liked to run, and when I tried, I was terrible at it.  So how is it that I am on my way to the Boston Marathon? It started with a slump.

I think my downward spiral began when my father passed away in the fall of 2008.  We were not close.  Our relationship was strained.  We did not talk very much in his final years.  His death was a surprise and yet it wasn't.  It brought out a lot of emotional baggage that was locked away in hidden caverns.  I was 7 months pregnant with my second child.  Part of me was saddened by his passing, and the other part was relieved.  After the holidays, I assumed I would have time to prepare for the birth of my daughter.  She had other plans and decided to grace us with her presence two weeks early.  So much for quality time with my little boy.  It was a fast and entertaining experience, which is appropriate for some other blog.  One month later, my husband received a promotion which required us to relocate to Virginia.  Here I was with a toddler and an infant packing our apartment on my own.  We had some wonderful times in VA.  We did a lot of exploring and made some friends, but I went from being a working mom to a stay-at-home mom in an unfamiliar place and no family.  There are only so many times one can sing the Wiggle's "Hot Potato" before going insane.  Eight months after our arrival in VA and after I finally unpacked the last box, my husband got transferred back to NJ.  So off he goes and there I was packing on my own.  Again.  With two little ones.  Because it was just two weeks before Christmas, we opted to stay in a hotel until we could find a place to live.  Six months later, we bought a foreclosed townhouse that needed some repairs.  First, living in a hotel for six months sounds like fun.  It is not.  Especially with kids and no kitchen to cook from.  Second, buying an "as is" home from a bank is one giant headache.  

Despite the hassle of banks and mortgage companies, we were thrilled to have a place to call our own.  We fixed and painted it to make the property habitable and moved in.  We were there for three months before we needed to move my mother in with us.  She has Alzheimer's and it got to the point where she just couldn't be on her own anymore.  Months later, my husband lost his job. I worked a lot but still could not keep up with the bills.  We were drowning.  The stress was mounting and my marriage was crumbling.  The kids were feeding off the stress and acting out.  Mom's behavior grew more childlike everyday.  I was losing my temper constantly.  I cried everyday.  I saw a psychologist and she told me I had "Caregiver's Stress." My husband and I saw a marriage counselor but she kept having us point out the negative things in one if we weren't already doing that at home.  (Btw, how is that supposed to help?)

One sleepless night in December 2011, my brain conjured up an image of me running through the park nearby.  The image was of me breezing along a path, light as air, singing "tra, la, la."  I laughed at the idea because as I said before, I hated to run.  Plus, I don't "tra, la, la" when I am miserable.  The next morning, despite my reservations, I took off for a run.  I was running away from my life without running away from my responsibilities and it felt good. Then, 0.25 miles in, I stopped and gasped for air.  How can I be out of breath?! I'm fit! I work out. How pathetic am I that I can't get through my neighborhood?!  I walked for a couple of minutes then jogged again.  This walk/jog continued for what I thought was four miles.  In reality it was just under 2.  Silly me.  But the following week I did it again.  

Then I ran a New Year's Day Resolution Run.  My goal was to be able to run the entire course without walking.  I didn't care how slow I went, as long as I maintained a jogging or shuffling motion.  I did it with a time of 36:21:35.  I was excited and my family was there at the end to congratulate me.  In fact, my kids jumped in at the last minute and crossed the finish line with me.  For the first time in a while I was happy.  That day I made my 2012 run one 5k race a month.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Call

This morning I received a voice message from Paul S of the Massage Therapy Foundation just before I went out for a 10 k run.  I contemplated calling him before heading out, but I was pretty sure why he was calling.  Last month I sent in an application to run the Boston Marathon on a charity bib.  Two thoughts crossed my mind: He's either calling to say, "Congratulations, you're running!" or "Thanks for your application, but we have chosen another applicant." There are pro's and con's to both responses and at that moment, I just wanted to get a run in as I had been slacking for the last two weeks.  The trail run was not great, but it felt good to be out and daydream about Boston.  First thing I did upon my return home was to call Paul and hear those exciting and frightening words: "Congratulations! You have been selected to be a part of our Boston Marathon Charity Team!"

Everything went still and I stopped breathing for a few seconds.  Did he just say what I thought he said?  Am I hearing this correctly? I applied hoping I would be selected, yet thinking it would never happen.  This was one of those, "I would regret not trying" situations.  We discussed what will occur the next couple of weeks and at the end of the conversation I did my happy dance which consisted of the running man, the cabbage patch kid, the shuffle, and some parts of the Gangnam Style dance. I called Ted, my husband.  I texted my BFF, my business partner (an Iron Man and now my coach), and a few other people.  I posted an excited but not so revealing message on facebook and then began to panic.  

I started running less than one year ago.  I have never run in a marathon.  I only just ran my own personal marathon a few weeks ago.  Boston is a BIG DEAL! Qualifying time for women in my age group is 3 hours 40 minutes! I am going to be in the same race as some of the most amazing athletes in the world.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!  Wait, I know. I love running. I love the peace and quite. I love the endorphins.  I love being amazed at the things the human body can do...especially my own body.  And I LOVE an exciting challenge.  I am honored to be selected to a part of the Massage Therapy Foundation Team running in the 2013 Boston Marathon.  I AM SO EXCITED!