Time Out

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My Facebook feed is filled with lots of pictures of friends running. Some are doing local races and others are down for the big Princess Marathon weekend at Disney. Looking at all the fun everyone is having makes me envious and makes me want to lace up my running shoes and start training again.

But I am in time out. And it is a much-needed time out.

I learned this lesson in my early twenties after I had ankle surgery and got back out on the volleyball court a little too soon. Of course being in my twenties I was in the indestructible phase of my life so I could play through the pain (or at least I thought I could).

Time out to recover doesn’t mean a time out from an active life. It’s just a different kind of active and on a much different scale. Of course it is frustrating not being able to play but over the years I have learned to appreciate giving my body a break. I’m hoping giving myself a long break now will keep me from breaking myself when I get back out there.

Good luck to everyone running this weekend. Can’t wait to get back on the road with you.

The Art of Staying in the Moment

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The Marine Corps Marathon was a really difficult race for me. Over the past few months I’ve been trying to understand why it was so tough. During training I had my ups and downs. There were runs when after 10 miles I wanted to cry and quit and other days I felt fantastic like I could run forever. It wasn’t until I was flying down for the Princess Marathon and I ran into Erin (http://lovedisneyrunning.blogspot.com/) on the plane. She ran the Marine Corps and noticed something and it really put things into perspective. The marathon was the day before Hurricane Sandy hit. Because the storm was coming, people were not in the moment; their thoughts were everywhere but the race. This was true not only of the runners but the volunteers and Marines.

She was right.

From the moment we arrived in DC our focus shifted immediately from enjoying the weekend with family and friends to dealing with the storm. Jim and I got found out our flight home was cancelled. I was tempted to throw in the towel on the run and just head home, but Jim thought that was silly. Since we couldn’t fly we worked it out with the rental car company to just drive from DC to Rhode Island.

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This really impacted my run. Instead of enjoying the run, my mind was elsewhere. I was okay for the first half of the race. But then I reached a point where I was worried about sitting in a car for 8 or more hours. I ran the first 20 miles and after hitting the bridge, I decided to walk the last 10k. My mind was already on the car ride and I was thinking about how my legs would feel.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had the same issue during training. It was still the height of surf season. The water was warm enough to not have to wear but a 2/3 wetsuit. During so many of my long runs, I yearned to be in the water. My mind was anywhere but the run. My runs suffered.

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I find I enjoy running the most when I am in the moment, when my mind doesn’t wander off to worry about work, shopping, or bills. I focus on the steps ahead of me and continue to move forward. When I manage to stay in the moment, running is a joy.

My other love surfing is the same; you have to satay in the moment. The minor difference with surfing, if you lose focus on the moment, the waves can be very unforgiving.

Staying in the moment during a run (and in life) is an art I am still working to perfect. Once in a while I am truly able to eliminate distraction and enjoy just being. When I do, my stride comes easy and my breath is not labored. I had this feeling during the Princess marathon. While it was not my fastest race, it was so enjoyable because I was just enjoying running. Disney is fantastic for putting up great entertainment along the course, but I found it wasn’t necessary because I was in the present moment. I was simply enjoying running.

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This is a work in progress. But because I had such a struggle with the Marine Corps Marathon, I am much more aware. Jim and I have the Newport 10 miler coming up in a few weeks. Let’s hope all of the mental training I’ve been doing has paid off and I’ll be able to stay in the moment.

Courage

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Over the past few years I have done quite a few distance races. At each race at a minimum I get a new race shirt. I browse the expanse of vendor booths set up at the expo and might pick up a few more things. From when I started running to now, I’ve had to develop a new strategy for shopping at the expo. When first started running, I wanted everything and my shopping reflected that. I would pick up far more than what I needed. The result, my dresser drawers are bursting with shirts, shorts, and other running gear. Now I go into an expo knowing what I need to pick up and quickly breeze by the other booths on my way to the necessary stops like packet pick up. It’s been a pretty successful strategy.

 

This year at the Disney Princess Marathon expo, I knew the places I wanted to hit, Official Merchandise, Sweaty Bands, Packet Pick Up and we were going to done. As I was cruising past the vendor booths I spotted a shirt that jumped out at me. Jim had decided to check out sunglasses so I double backed to really check it out.

 

It was a Kelly green shirt with the word courage printed on the front. The back of the shirt was a definition of courage that really resonated with me because it read, “to persevere with humility” and “falling in love with the person you were meant to be”.

 

Courage was word in my vocabulary but it wasn’t that important to me until I started working with the Navy. I am Coast Guard, and about a year and a half ago I started working with the Navy at their Senior Enlisted Academy. The core values for the Navy are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. During each class we discuss what the core values mean to the students. Listening to the students definitions made me really explore what courage means to me.

 

In the military, the word courage is often synonymous with courage in battle. Showing bravery when the enemy is near. While that is an important facet of the word, for me courage is much more than physical courage.

 

My definition of courage is still evolving, but here is what I believe courage is. Courage is when you are not afraid to be vulnerable, totally exposed to criticism. Courage is putting it on the line, risking it all (especially when the outcome is uncertain). Courage is trying something new. Courage is doing something that others tell you it is stupid. Courage is staying true to you. Courage is looking for the truth, even when the truth isn’t pretty. Courage is doing what you believe is right and not about always being right. Courage is treating everyone with respect, even the people many others don’t want to see. Courage is standing up to bullies.

 

Fellow Flowers (http://fellowflowers.com) makes this shirt. Their story is just as inspiring as the t-shirts. In 2011 a group of women started training for a half marathon together. Over the course of their training, they discovered that running is much more than just running; it is a journey of mental and physical struggles. It is a journey where you face your own fears and adversity and hopefully in the end, when you cross the finish line you will have learned something that you can apply in other areas of your life.

 

My courage shirt is now one of my favorite shirts because it reminds me what courage means to me. But more importantly it reminds me to live my life in a courageous way. Now if Fellow Flowers would only make a shirt defining honor and commitment, then I would have a complete set of Navy core value shirts.

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Because I Can

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One of the emails I got in preparation for the Disney Princess Marathon asked a question, why do I run? Without much thought, I clicked the link and started writing an answer. After a few minutes it occurred to me, I really don’t know why I run.

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I hear and read a lot of inspirational stories of why people run. Some run to honor a friend or loved one. Some run as part of a weight loss journey. Some run to accomplishing a goal. Some run because they overcame adversity.

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My story isn’t that compelling or inspiring. I wasn’t motivated to run to change my life. I don’t run to lose weight. There was no major life changing reason I started running. I guess the reason I started running is because I wanted to do something just for me, so without much thought I signed up for a half marathon.

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After 5 years of distance running, I’ve still haven’t come up with an answer to why I run. What is it about running that motivates me to lace up my shoes, hit the pavement, and put one foot in front of the other?

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The best answer I can come up with is I run because I can. I do it because my body allows me to run.

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One of my guilty pleasures is watching the Biggest Loser. When I watch the show I see people who are prisoners in their own bodies. Doing something like running is nearly impossible for the contestants because of the weight. My body is fully functioning; I have no excuses for not running, so I run.

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Though I haven’t worked closely with organizations like Homes for Our Troops, Wounded Warriors, Achilles International, and Navy Safe Harbor Foundation, I have worked to raise money and awareness for them. Being in the military it is nice to see organizations that help our wounded warriors when they return home or when they suffer illness or job related injury. Many of our wounded warriors come home and maintain active lifestyles, but because of injury or illness, some of these men and women cannot run. I do not have any wounds, injuries, or illnesses that stop me from running, so I run.

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Running is a gift. It is something that my body is built to do. I can either take advantage and run until my legs tell me they can’t take another step or I can pass on the opportunity, sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else do something I am capable of doing.

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This is the long answer to a short question. Why do I run? It’s not complicated or glamorous, I run because I can.

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(And I run because I love to be around my friends who run. Thanks to all who have joined me in this journey.)

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Princess Half Marathon; a Rocky experience by guest blogger- Faye Stillman

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I approached the starting line of the Disney Princess Half marathon with motivating mantras and expert advice running through my mind, because I knew that making it to the finish would be a challenge. “Relax, power, glide,” “Just keep running,” “run like a T-Rex,”  “I control my mind, my mind controls my body,” etc.

 

I trained for the Princess Half using the Galloway method, run 4 minutes, walk 60 seconds, in the hopes that taking frequent walk breaks would give me the stamina I needed to go the longest distance I’ve ever run. Before the race, my longest training distance was 11 miles, and I had moderate to severe knee pain every time I ran 10 miles or more.

 

Some of my Princess-experienced friends had total confidence that I would be able to go the distance on race day and advised me to let the Disney magic carry me through, and I was truly hopeful that my mantras, my pumped-up tunes, and the Disney magic would do just that.

 

The first five miles seemed to fly by, with tons of fun Disney distractions, fellow princesses in fantastic costumes, great weather, and great music. The throngs of people who were cheering at the sidelines for their runner, and the rest of us, was awesome inspiration to keep going. I saw two people with signs that said, “Hello, Stranger. I’m so proud of you!” Seeing my Husband cheering from the sideline filled my heart with happiness and motivation, too!

 

At mile 7, I started to feel tired, but good. But, at mile 9, my left knee started to hurt me badly. By mile 10, both knees protested taking any further steps. “Eye of the Tiger,” started playing on my iPod, a tune which always gives me a mental picture of Rocky training harder and stronger than ever before, gave me a mental picture of Rocky Balboa beaten and battered, trying to stay on his feet.

 

I let myself slow down and walk, feeling disappointed in myself when my knees hurt too much to resume running at the end of interval walk breaks. When I reached mile marker 12, I was able to start jogging again in intervals. I was so elated and happy, that I high-fived each member of a gospel choir singing at the bend to the 13-mile marker. With the finish in sight, I saw my Husband cheering me on, and I ran thru the finish-line, high-fiving Mickey Mouse himself  as I reached the end!

When I started this journey, by registering for the race, I knew it was a huge goal to attain. I had never run in a race longer than a 5K. I prepared myself that I would probably have to walk a lot of the distance, and my primary goal was to simply finish the race, period. When I found out that there is a time limit, my primary goal was to “beat the sweep.” Now that I’ve met both of those goals, I have to remind myself that I did it! I have the medal, the finisher’s certificate, and photos with my Princess friends, but I can’t help the thought that hopefully, I’ll do better next time. 🙂

Mehgan’s First Half Marathon

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I asked Mehgan to tell us about her experience of training for and running her first half marathon. She and I ran together almost from start to finish and I don’t think she ever stopped smiling. I hope this not only gives you some good advice but helps inspire you to get out there and run or do whatever makes you happy.

Thanks Mehgan.

 

 

Mehgan Video Link

(Here is the link in case the video doesn’t work.)

The Power of Two

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There has been a question plaguing me, how fast can I really run a half marathon?

I look at the numbers in the running calculator based on my 5k time. And I see the projected pace for my run. I have never done what I think I am capable of doing on a run. I have yet to really challenge myself to see how fast I can go.

The night before the princess run I had some turmoil. Should I run in B corral or fall back to run with the other coast(ie)s running? It was a question that kept me up for quite some time. After some restless moments a feeling of peace came upon me. I know what the right thing to do was.

We all agreed to fall back to E corral to start with Faye. I ran the first mile with her and then caught up to Mehgan and Kelly. Eventually we lost Kelly in the crowd and she finished in a very respectable 2:20. Her negative split for the last 10k was remarkable.

I felt my kick around mile 8. I could have flown. But instead of taking off I stayed with Mehgan. We had made it that far and I wasn’t ready to abandon her. I know what it’s like to run your first big run alone. I know how hard that it. And I know that I would have given so much to have someone more experienced running along side me not only telling me that I could do it, but I could run better than I was running.

I’m sure there will come a time when I can find out how fast I can be. But that time isn’t right now.