Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race Recap

I don't even know where to start! The trip was a crazy, incredible whirlwind. Here's some #s to start it all off:

25: hours spent traveling
44: hours in California
5: flights taken and airports visited
2:  people I met who "live in my computer"
100+: number of tweets, facebook comments, likes, and wall posting I got in support just the morning of the race! My friends and family are amazing!!!
3: times I ate Mexican (my husband is not a fan so I rarely get it!)
2: margaritas drank 
13.35: miles ran
4:29: minutes PRed by
9: # of Disney rides I went on
18: hours on my feet on Sunday
3: minimum # of days it's going to take me to recover!

It was so great to meet Stacie! (Yep, I'd actually never met her before. We've been friends through a 'mommy message board' for years!) This was my first big race including an expo which was really cool. It was also my first time to Disneyland and California Adventure.

Race Results
Offical time: 2:16:54. (average pace 10:27)
Place: 1563th out of 9,386 runners.
Times from my Garmin if you geek out on such things like I do:

We were up at 3am (wowsa!) to get ready as we had to be at the race area by 4:30am and in corrals by 5am. We laid out all our goodies the night before and Stacie made fun of my type-A-ness (mostly because it made her feel better about hers ;)).
Race clothes ready to go

Gear and breakfast ready to go
I had some coffee, oatmeal, and a banana when I woke up, and geared up. It was surprisingly warm that morning (which freaked me out a bit as I'm a cold weather runner), so we didn't really even need our throw away clothes but grabbed them anyway. I wrote my mantras on my hands and we were ready to go!
I can do hard things.
 We were sparkling our way to the starting line.

The trip to the start was wonderfully uneventful. We made our way to Corral B, hit the potties, and got ready to wait. We were much farther back in Corral B than we should have been but once you got in there was very little shuffling for place so we just had to go with it. The National Anthem was sung with fireworks, Corral A headed out, and we were right behind them. 

The first few miles were crazy packed which I expected, but add in all the fairy wings and costumes and it was nuts. I spent the entire time weaving in and out of people knowing I was adding all sorts of distance I shoudn't be running but also knew I needed to be going faster. Stacie and I bobbed in and out of the crowd trying to keep each other in sight. The route is mostly a blur to me. There was lots of back lots of Disney, running through the castle in Disney Land, out onto the streets of historic and scenic Anaheim (some of which was both and some of which was neither historic nor scenic - ha!), through Downtown Disney and into California Adventure (though not necessarily in that order). Around mile 3.5 or 4, Stacie and I parted ways to find our own paces.

I had my eye on a 10:30 goal pace despite it being a pretty big reach. So miles 3-6 were spent making up time that I spent weaving in the first mile or two. My Garmin was already showing an extra .15 miles so I knew I couldn't go by my average pace on there. Each mile marker, I'd check my Garmin overall time and do the math to see where my average pace was at. By mile 6, I knew I was at a 10:30 average and that I just had to hold on.

Mile 4.5. Photo courtesy of Team Sparkle
I took gels at miles 3, 7, and 11 which worked out great. I took water at every water station but did not walk through them, just grabbed a cup, a sip, tossed and kept dodging other folks. I was pushing pretty hard early on, but I just knew I had to hold on. Some of my favorite spots of the course were running the castle in Disneyland, seeing some of the characters (though often they were blocked by the lines of people to take pictures with them), and some of the cheerleaders and bands out in Anaheim. I felt pace noticeably quicken when I hit stretches with really high energy cheerleaders or bands. It was great! There was also an enormous group of Red Hat ladies somewhere along the way that were awesome! The stretch through Downtown Disney was really awesome packed with spectators.

By mile 10 I was hurting but holding on. I had some twinges in my right achilles and a weird ache in my mid-back which I think was from how I slept on the plane. I knew I was on target for a PR and that point it really just mattered by how much as long as I could hang on. Mentally I was fading. I talked myself into walking for 30 seconds at the 11 mile marker to take my last Gu. It was a waste of time, but I was doing what I could do to convince myself to keep pushing. From there I took off. As we weaved through California Adventure I was passing people left and right, but also breathing hard and grunting. Some people looked at me as I passed them like what is she doing?! and I wanted to tell them, it's a race! we're at the end! I'm running hard, duh! 

I got to a point where I felt like I had no push left and just maintaining a 10 minute pace was hard enough. My Garmin was off on distance so I was trying to ignore it and just get to the finish. The finish was in a parking lot and we had turn into it with a very short but distinct uphill driveway at which point I cursed out loud because I did not have that fight in me. I kept going and crossed the finish with a new PR by 4 minutes and 29 seconds! I got my first ever mylar blanket, got my medal, and anxiously waited for Stacie who had a hard race but pushed through for an awesome time!

This was half marathon #3. My first was just 8.5 months ago. I've taken almost exactly 30 minutes off of my time in those 8.5 months!
Another photo courtesy of Team Sparkle
We bypassed most of the post-race festivities in a daze and hobbled back to our hotel. I took a quick ice bath and threw on my compression shorts and sock so we could hit the parks. I think limping my way through the parks all day was as much a test of my will power as the race was but we had a blast! I stumbled, literally, back to the hotel at 9pm and crashed. (warning gross foot picture coming up, but first a fun one!)
The latest action figure strangely dressed in cargo skirt, KT Tape, compression socks, and a race shirt! :)
My gross blistered foot because Stacie wanted photographic proof

Friday, January 27, 2012

I'm Going to Disneyland!

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go... who can resist a little John Denver?

We'll be leaving for the airport at 4am. I'll be heading to Anaheim, CA by way of Denver. Once I land, it'll be a busy 45 hours in sunny California. My first ever race expo, my first time to Disneyland (been to the area but never in the Disneyland parks), my first time racing with wings, and my third half marathon!

I am so thankful for this trip to get to go run such a fun inaugural race with such an awesome person. I am grateful to all the people who supported me in taking this crazy trip with your words, actions, and/or gifts! I am excited about opportunities to pay it forward.

A few quick goals for this race. With my injury recovery and my marathon training, this is not a race I've focused on or trained for much. At the same time, this will be my first half marathon where I've ran farther than the distance before! Since my last half marathon in October, I've ran 14, 16, and 18 miles! Nonetheless, I am not expecting to PR. If the stars align and my wings help me fly, I won't turn it down. But instead I'm focusing on having a great time.

Have fun and enjoy Disney!
Cheer Stacie on to a great race!

I toyed with putting times down, but I honestly don't have time goals. I guess I hope to be faster than my first half (because that would be a pretty comfortable long run pace) but maybe not as fast as my second? Who knows! I'm just going to feel it out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why Run in a Costume

I'm still pretty new to this whole running thing. Up until just a few months ago, I saw pictures of people running races in costumes and thought it was funny... and something I'd never do. When I registered for my first marathon (which is now just over 7 weeks away!), I decided I wanted to dress up since it's going to be St. Patty's Day. I'd heard that the more attention you can draw to yourself, the more crowd support you get. And, apparently, at 20-something miles that can help. Or maybe it's at like 15 miles, because by 20-something miles, nothing helps. Who knows.

At the same time, I'd be hearing about Team Sparkle skirts from lots of bloggers. I decided I was going rock my first marathon in a sparkly sequin covered skirt and ordered it! It arrived, and I feel in love. It's just so.. sparkly! I took it for its first run in December for a Jingle Jog, and then again on Christmas Eve, because if you're going to run on Christmas Eve, you should show some Christmas spirit!

In just a few days, I'll be running the inaugural Tinker Bell half marathon in Disneyland. When my race partner mentioned a costume, it didn't take long for me to get super excited. I'll be running in a silver Team Sparkle skirt with black wings. Yes, wings! I can't quite believe it either.

I know people think I'm a little nuts for this. I know people who think real runners don't wear costumes or sparkle skirts. I know people who just see this as a distraction from the sport. Well, I'm not sure what a real runner is, but I know some pretty fast people who run in costumes, people faster than I can imagine ever being.

Costumes and sparkles aren't for everyone, but this is why I'm running in costume.

*It's something I never thought I'd do. Overweight mom of 2 who can't find clothes in her closet for a night out struts her stuff in a sparkly skirt? While running a half marathon? Well, make that two things I never thought I'd be doing. Running has helped me re-define my limits and find some joy in my body, despite the extra belly I'm still carrying and the 25+ pounds I still need to lose.

*It's fun and light-hearted. When you get to training for races, it can be easy to take yourself too seriously. Costumes are my reality check that this is for fun, and if I'm not having fun, it's not worth doing.

*It adds to the race experience. Extra smiles. Extra cheers. I might never run the Tinker Bell half marathon again, so why not do it wearing wings? I've trained and I've earned the right to look silly and live it up. If you're going to do it, go all out.

Why yes, I can drive in wings. Heading out to a park for a test run!
I took my wings out for a test run today and they held up quite nicely (Thanks Kelly for the tips!). I had to wear a racer back tank top for best wing attachment. I don't wear tank tops. I'm not comfortable with my jiggly arms, and they are usually too tight around the midsection to be anywhere near flattering (this one is no exception). But I decided to suck it in up, and wear my wings, tank top, and belly proudly. After all, I grew and birthed two babies, I'm running my third half marathon, and I'm down 40lbs in the past two years, I have a lot to be proud of!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why I Skip Church

Today, our congregation held it's annual meeting. There was celebration of outreach and ministry coupled with hard conversations surrounding budget and declining attendance. It's not a unique story. In the Lutheran church and other churches, these conversations are happening often.

People asked, Why aren't people in church? Why did they stop coming? What do we need to do to get them back? The questions appeared throughout the meeting popping up in conversations about both budget (More people means more money, right? Not necessarily, but that's a different post) and program.

I can't answer these questions for anyone else, but I can answer two out of three of them in regards to myself because I am often not in church on a Sunday morning. When it comes to the budget conversation, my attendance matters little as our giving is debited from our checking account in order to ensure consistency as I am very aware that the church's costs do not change despite my bumpy attendance record.

I have lots of reasons to be in church on a Sunday morning, perhaps more than your average church-goer. First off, I am married to the pastor. Last week our neighbor skipped service only to come home to find my husband parked in her driveway. It was only because I was passing her house while out for a run and he needed to stop to ask me something. Nevertheless, there was a joke made about the guilt of her missing church only to find the pastor in her driveway. Well, the pastor is always in my driveway after church, and my house and even *gasp* my bed. It's important to our family to be a part of church. It's important for me to support my husband as a congregational leader and to be an active part of the community.

Second, I have my own seminary education that culminated in a Masters in Theology for Outdoor Ministry. I have worked as a camp director, a director of youth and family ministry, and currently serve as president for an outdoor ministry board of trustees. Church, community, and faith development are important to me. Raising children up in faith within the structure of a congregation is important to me. I think that adults, families, and children belong in church. I believe in the importance of corporate worship.

Despite the reasons I should be in church, I am often not. Sometimes it's because of a race I'm running; other times it's because my kids and I are out of town visiting friends or family. But sometimes, it's because I just can't handle it. I am the mother of two small children whose husband is busy during church being pastor. It's hard. It's really hard. It's exhausting and frustrating. Of all the things I do in a week, Sunday worship with my kids is possibly the hardest. It pushes me past the point of good parenting. I find myself feeding the kids snacks I'm not comfortable letting them eat in order to bribe them to sit or growling desperate demands for them to just sit still and listen. Worship brings out the worst in me while everyone watches... because I am, of course, the pastor's wife.

As we look at the church and attendance, I have to look at all those young families who are not at worship and say I get it. If someone as educated about and invested in faith formation and the church community myself struggles to get there, to survive it, and to want to do it again, I can imagine that the family without my background would give up pretty quickly. Something's gotta give. How we are doing church is not working in our culture and time, especially for young families.

Please don't tell me to put the kids in the nursery or to schedule worship during Sunday school, because for me that isn't the answer to solid faith formation and church revival. Worship is supposed to be about the Body of Christ gathering together to share in Word and Sacrament, not simply those in the Body of Christ over the age of eight who are willing to sit and do worship the way we've always done it.

Of course there's another piece of the Sunday morning struggle for me. On top of being a pastor's wife and a mom of two small kids doing the best she can to raise them up in faith, I live with, fight with, and attempt to survive depression and anxiety. Some weeks I simply can't face church. I can't face the struggle with the kids. I can't face the chit chat and the pretending-to-be-fine when inside I'm in so much pain I just want to crouch in a corner and sob. I can't face the numbness, going through the motions of worship without feeling a damn thing, wondering if I'll ever feel again. As someone whose faith has always been an integral part of her life, through both ups and downs, it is terrifying to sit in church and feel a complete and total disconnect between myself and God.

And that's why I'm not in church every Sunday. It's not because I don't want to be there. It's because it's just too hard sometimes. I want church to be a healing place, a place where I feel accepted, supported, and safe. I want worship to be somewhere that I show up for the good and the bad, because I know worship isn't just about me and my needs or even those of my kids, but for right now I just can't do it. That's my story. I'm sure everyone's story is a little different, but as a church, we need to find a way to  listen to those stories and figure out how we can be the church together despite our brokenness. I don't know how we do it, but I'm thankful for a God who accepts us in all our brokenness, even when we can't do church. I am thankful for a God who I'm sure is still out there even if I can't find that God these days.

Edited to add - this is not about my church, my congregation. This about the larger Church and the way we do Church, combined with what it means to live as both a pastor's wife, a mom of 2 young children, and someone fighting depression. Our congregation is filled with loving, faith-filled people excited to serve the community and support each other. I am thankful for that. But, it doesn't change everything written above.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

18 Miles Towards Mental Toughness

On Monday, I had my first 18 mile training run scheduled. On Monday morning at 7am when I needed to start in order to be done in time to go to physical therapy, it was 9 degrees. I refused to let that stop me.

The night before, I prepped all my stuff, loaded (or thought we did) two e-books onto my phone plus my music so that I could switch things up a bit to get me through, got my recovery stuff ready and went to bed nice and early. I slept in bed with my 5 year old so that my almost 3 year old wouldn't keep me awake all night begging to nurse (he's supposedly night weaned, he just doesn't agree). (Yes, we bedshare and practice child-led weaning. If that bothers you, ignore it and move on.)

Instead, my 5 year old kept me up most of the night as he asked about every 10 minutes if he could go into Mema's room to play as that was the plan in the morning so I could get out the door. After a night of no sleep, I grabbed my phone to check my playlists that my husband had finished the night before. Blank. Sigh. We tried a couple of things to fix it and finally gave up. I was stuck with my shorter long run playlist that I'd just have to repeat. Still holding it together, I ate my egg and toast and got ready to head out the door.

Husband trying to take pics of me with reflective gear and flash - tricky.
Ready to go.
My husband was my crew. He was amazing. He planned on meeting me twice to refill my water because I have a small handheld and wasn't sure how much I would need. Then he would pick me up at the end point. Plus, he was my camera man. Two miles in, my legs were burning and I realized I needed another layer on my legs. I called him and he met me with a pair of fleece pants to throw over my thick running tights. My eyelashes were covered in mini-icicles. I kept having to brush them off in order to fully open my eyes as they were freezing shut. I was fighting off an asthma attack and tears. He took one look at me and said, "Don't cry!! Your face will freeze!"
Covered in ice.
I wanted to give up. I wanted to cry. I had no idea how I was going to cover 16 more miles. But I kept going. My legs felt like bricks. I was weighed down by layers and layers of gear. My lungs couldn't decide whether they were going to revolt against the cold or cooperate. Within a couple of miles, I was taking a short walk break every mile or so. I saw my husband again around mile 7. My fuel gels were literally frozen. I had to take hard bites out of them if I didn't remember to warm them in my hands ahead of time. My water bottle spout had frozen shut.I had to take off the lid each time to drink my partially frozen Nuun. Again, I wanted to beg him to take me home. He just told me to keep going.

I began to think over and over again with every step, "I can't." The voice in my head was relentless. You can't even run a whole mile at this point. Why did you ever think you could run a marathon? You are so stupid. Just give up now. You can't count this as running. I watched as my average pace on the Garmin crept towards 13 minute miles. I plodded along. I realized that if I kept saying I can't then I wouldn't. I tried to stop the voice inside my head. Each time I heard I can't, I responded I can do hard things. I am strong. It became my mantra. (I thought of you, Ann.) I fought hard. The voice continued. You can't do this Jamie. You can't. I can do hard things. I am strong. Just give up. This is dumb. You are failing. I can do hard things. I am strong.

Somewhere in mile 12, I broke down. The running wasn't getting easier. My walk breaks were more frequent. I couldn't imagine going one more step. I stopped on the side of the road and sobbed. I called my husband knowing that crying as hard as I was, he would let me accept defeat. He didn't answer. I called my friend/unpaidandoverused running coach to beg her to let me quit. She didn't answer. I looked at my Garmin. My average pace was 12:58 minutes per mile. I had a quarter mile to go before I hit 13. Then there would only be 5 miles left. If I decreased walk breaks and just kept running, I could keep it under 13 minute miles which had become a mental goal for me. My long runs are usually 11:30-12 minute miles for reference.
Mist rising out of the valley as the temps rose from 9 degrees to a balmy (ha) 16 when I finished
And so I kept going. My husband came back one extra time before I finished to see me as it was taking me longer than we'd planned, and he wanted to make sure I had enough fuel. I didn't stop. I was mid-hill and focused. I was going to climb that hill. I just kept saying it. Climb the hill. Climb the hill. Less than two miles to go, and I knew I was going to finish. The hills were relentless (the beautiful area I live in is not flat). But I did it. I finished in 3 hours and 50 minutes. My average pace was 12:49, just 4 seconds slower than my average pace for my first half marathon. My mile splits were all over the place, but I finished.
Finishing as strong as I could
When I was done, I didn't feel joy. I didn't feel accomplishment. I wanted to say all sorts of things to myself. What were you thinking? You can't run 18 miles. That was pathetic. How in the world are you going to run 26.2? This is proof you should just give up. You've lost too much time. You've screwed up your training. You're done.

But I kept fighting. I focused on recovery. Eating. An ice bath. Getting myself to physical therapy. I avoided judging until I had time to process things. No, it was not my best run. Yes, it was slower than my desired long run pace. Yes, I took walk breaks which were not something I planned to do, and not just a few.
Done. My husband told me to smile for the camera. This was all I could do.
 But, I have to keep things in perspective. It was 9 degrees, the coldest temperatures in which I've attempted to run. We've had a warm winter so I've actually only had a handful of 20 degree runs. My body is not used to it. I was wearing lots of layers I am not used to. It was hilly, really hilly. My 16 mile run was down on a pancake flat treadmill. I had been avoiding hills for the sake of my injury and just began to work them back in. Oh yea, and I am running while trying to recover from an injury. I have missed a lot of training, and a lot of mid-week runs that help maintain the fitness to make the long runs easier. I did a long run progression of 12, 14, 16, and 18 with no step-back weeks. I knew it was a little crazy to plan that and honestly never though I could pull it off, but I wanted to be able to taper a little for the Tinker Bell half marathon while still fitting in two 20 mile runs (or a 20 and a 22) before the marathon. And I was mentally fighting a breakdown before I even got out the door with no sleep and a screwed up playlist.

Those things don't excuse my performance. They don't excuse my lack of training. I know I'm not in the place I wanted to be. But I did a 18 miler. I focused on mental toughness and pushed my through the absolute worst run of my life, and I refused to give up. I might not have been smiling Paula, but I just kept moving. For that I am proud.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sacrifice and Focus on the Road to a Marathon

Today I was reading a post from Miss Zippy and was struck by her comment about getting into her marathon training plan. She wrote:
...As I enter legit marathon miles this weekend, I’m also putting my monk robes back on. Time to really buckle down with early bedtimes, fewer glasses of wine, and really dedicated eating. Tradeoffs? Yes. Worth it? YES!
Why did it strike me? Not because it's earth-shattering or new to me. It's because it's what you do to train for a marathon. It's what my reality needs to be right now, and to be honest, it's not. Getting injured really made my focus wane. It didn't feel like I was training for a marathon when I was taking weeks off and missing workouts. Since it didn't feel like I was training a marathon, I never started fully acting like I was training for a marathon.
Via Pinterest

Well guess what? Just 9 weeks from tomorrow I'll be running my first marathon, God willing. And just 2 weeks from Sunday, I'll be running the Tinker Bell half marathon. This is it. If I don't get serious now and start acting like marathoner, there's no way I'm going to be able to become one.

What does that mean? Early bedtimes. Aim for 9:30 with no pushing past 10pm. Focused and careful eating and fueling. I don't have room for junk in my diet. I need to be fueled to train, while not filling my body with extra junk because I'm extra hungry. Proper hydration = lots of water and a very rare adult beverage. Getting my in strength training sessions, runs, and yoga classes with absolutely no excuses. It's time to make it happen. If that means I need to make it a habit of getting up at 5am to hit 6am yoga twice a week so I don't miss it, that's what it means. Foam rolling, stretching, and doing my physical therapy exercises every single day.
Via Pinterest
Surrender isn't an option - not now, and not at mile 22 on March 17. At this point, I only have 9 weeks to go. I'm under trained, but I have 9 weeks to make a big difference. This is my priority. Everything else needs to take a back seat. This was my choice, my goal, and it's up to me to make it happen.

26.2, I'm still coming for you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Links I love

It's been a while since I posted some links I was loving, but here's some of the stuff I've been loving lately.

A few from the Bloggess who is usually laugh-until-you-pee funny but also fights depression. Her writing is brave and inspiring. Her outlook makes me feel like I'm not alone while reminding me of how I want to fight. Tightrope walker and The Fight Goes On and Wow.

2011 Lesson #2: Don't Carpe Diem from the Momastery. This is the first I'd seen this blog, but the post was shared on facebook by a friend and I love it. I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't enjoy the "enjoy every moment of parenting" advice people like to give, but I am so thankful for those kairos moments described. Plus with posts like this, I will be definitely be a regular reader! I laughed so hard I nearly woke up the boy I was cuddling to sleep.
Say hi to a good friend of mine on her new blog RiantRunner and her first post Welcome to 2012 - The Year to Listen and Manifest. She's a runner and coach, starting her yoga certification, and halfway through school to become a health counselor. I look forward to reading more from her!

Finally I love everything from Another Mother Runner, but I especially loved all of their Why I Run series from December. Each post resonated with me in a different way, reminding me how much I love to run and why I do it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Longest Training Run & 2012 Race Schedule

Today, I did my longest run ever. (well for the time being). 16 whole miles! I did it on a treadmill at the YMCA because I knew it would be more forgiving to my feet (I start Physical Therapy tomorrow - yay). 16 miles on a treadmill is, well, I don't recommend it. But I took my gels, drank my nuun, listened to my music, and just kept going. It took me 3 hours 15 minutes (including the time where I had to stop to reset the treadmill because it automatically stops at an hour, and the one time I had to refill my water at the water fountain). Moving time was 3 hours 9 minutes (avg pace 11:48). And get this, my heart rate averaged 176 and I burnt 2,287 calories! That's crazy. And it's even crazier that I have to add 10.2 miles to that, but one run at a time. For now, I took my ice bath and am rocking my compression socks and shorts!

I think I've got my race schedule figured out. This is by no means set in stone. The races with an asterisk are ones I've already registered for.

January 29 - Tinker Bell Half Marathon*
Totally a surprise and so exciting!

March 17- Rock 'N' Roll USA Nation's Capital Marathon*
The big one. My first marathon.

May 6 - Philly's Broadstreet Run - 10 mile
My first 10 miler.

May 19 - NJ/Philly RunAmuck Mud Run - 5K*
After dong the NY RunAmuck Mud Run last June, I'm excited to do another with my partner from last time along with my sister and her friend!

September 3 - Warwick Lions 5K
This will be my third time running this race! I'm hoping a summer of track workouts with the running club will bring me to a PR for this.

September 30 - Ocean City, NJ Half Marathon
This was such a great race that I am excited to run it again!

November 4 - Run the Bridge 10K
This will my third time running this race, and my sister has made it a goal to make this her first 10K! Fun race!

November 18 - Philadelphia Half Marathon
My sister has committed to running a half marathon this year! So exciting. I will be running this one by her side.

I'm guessing I'll throw in another 5k at some point, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with this! Here's to 2012!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Feelings should be felt, not eaten.

It's been a bumpy week here. We were transitioning back from the holidays and my older son's 5th birthday.  The kids have been trying their hardest to come down from their overstimulated, over-sugared state but are still struggling with bad sleep and bad moods. At the same time, we decided to ditch the diapers with my younger son who will be 3 in March. What was I thinking?

Meanwhile, I've been both excited and overwhelmed by the upcoming Tinker Bell half marathon especially while battling a fierce case of plantar fasciitis which has been at its worst this week. I have an annual meeting and January board meeting to prepare for the non-profit board I serve as President. And finally, I've been feeling my depression creeping up since the weekend pushing me a little more each day into a down of the ups and downs I go through. It will probably only last a couple of days, but it's here and I am fighting. This time though I am not fighting to escape the feeling, but I am fighting to actually feel it.

Each morning, I've woke from a broken night of sleep after denying the toddler wanting to nurse for the umpteenth time to two little boys being rough, loud, and demanding. As I drag myself from my bed to go downstairs I start to dream of what's downstairs to eat. I think there are some left over cookies. Or maybe there's some pie. Or I could make pancakes. Stop, Jamie. You don't need junk. It won't help. Get your coffee and a healthy breakfast and move on.

I get the boys ready and to school, and I come home to a quiet house for 90 minutes of precious solitude. No one's here. It's been a rough morning; I deserve a snack, a treat. It'll help get you through the day. No, Jamie. It won't help you get through the day. It'll start you on a downward spiral. Make your smoothie and get in your strength workout without kids crawling on you. That will help you get through the day.

I go work lunchtime at school. Fifteen preschoolers demanding this and that, herding them from the bathroom to lunch to nap. It feels chaotic. I am overstimulated. I do the dishes and clean up before getting my own boys from their classes and heading home. I feel as though I am dragging them across the parking lot, backpacks, lunchboxes, folders, and jackets all balanced precariously in my arms. I get home. Put one to sleep and set the other up for quiet time. Sigh. Oh Jamie, now you definitely deserve a snack. Find something yummy. Maybe there is some pasta and you could a huge bowl. Whatever leftovers are there. Whatever it is, a lot of it will help you unwind. You get the idea. It continues after a stressful bedtime as I'm convinced I need a bedtime snack to make the day feel better.

All day long, I find myself literally dreaming of food. I feel overstimulated. I feel tired. I feel stressed. I feel frustrated. Whatever it is I feel, I want food to make me stop feeling it. If I can focus on getting food into my mouth, I will momentarily avoid feeling whatever it is I'm feeling. When my belly is uncomfortably full, I can turn my focus to beating myself up instead of feeling whatever there is to feel.

I am an emotional and stress eater. It's not news. It's something I've always lived with, but as I pay more attention to how I fuel my body for my running and my health, I am becoming increasingly aware. This week, I have fought it. I have sat with my feelings instead of eating them. Instead of just distracting myself from what I want to eat as I might have before, I am figuring out why I want to eat it first. I've indulged in a treat or two, but I have thought about what I was eating and why before doing it. It would be so easy to take my stress, my depression, and my injury, and just keep eating to stop feeling any of it turning the 2 pounds I gained from Halloween to New Year's into 10. It's not about the number on the scale. It's about how much worse I would feel physically and emotionally. It's about the way I would beat myself up for doing that. It's about the fact that I wouldn't be any further along on my journey. So instead, I will fight it. I will feel my feelings all while offering myself grace and love instead of shame.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tinker Bell and Paying It Forward

First off, we're going to ignore the fact that I am limping today from the dang plantar fasciitis, but I do have an orthopedist appointment on Thursday. So for a moment, let's pretend I am healthy and on track for marathon training so it's totally okay that I just added a last minute half marathon!

Yep, that's right, I am running a half marathon on January 29. Not just any half marathon. The Tinker Bell half marathon in Disneyland! As of Monday, I have a plane ticket and it is a sure thing. Crazy!

It all started when a friend who is running it posted how she was going to be by herself unexpectedly as her running partner had just had surgery. I joked, "well if there's a bib for sale, I'll check plane flights." One thing led to another. I did end up checking flights, doing the math on cost, and realizing there's no way I could spend that for a last minute weekend trip to Disneyland by myself. But then something happened...

My friend who is running the race offered to cover the hotel room since she has to pay for it whether I can come or not. Another friend hooked me up with some frequent flier miles and a travel voucher which brought my flight cost under $100. I did something I've never done in my life and called my dad asking if I could trade some Christmas presents (as we aren't exchanging gifts until later this month) for cash for my trip. He offered $100 and told me I could keep my presents. (This may seem like no big deal to a lot of families, but I've not asked my father for money since I was 15.) I had comments on my Facebook status tell me they were trying to figure out how they could have helped. Someone offered $20 up for the cause. I got a message from another friend asking simply how much are we talking as I try to figure out how to cover the rest of the expenses. Amazing.

But here's the thing. It all made me sick to my stomach. How selfish of me. I brushed off a number of those offers. How could I even think about putting money towards this trip to fly across the country and run a race when I don't have an income of my own (I am a full-time mom) and there are plenty of other things my family could do if we had that money? How could all these people be offering up money or resources for me to be so selfish? As I told the last friend who messaged me, there are hungry children and homeless people. I am a completely unworthy cause.

But my friends don't think I'm unworthy. They want to make this happen for me. And when in my life did I ever think I could run a half marathon on 4 weeks notice? I've worked to be where I am today. Friends who have offered assistance have given all sorts of reason from simply the fact that they can and would like to help to gratitude for the ways I have offered myself to them in time, in relationship, and in resource. They don't owe me that. They don't owe me anything. But they want to help. They want this for me. So I'm going to go out on a limb and accept that help. 

I'd feel better about the whole thing if I was raising money for some cause, but I am flying to California to support a friend in her dream race. Yes, I get to run it and have a blast with her, but this is all about her. She inspires me (did I mention she's a rockin' triathlete? This will be her first distance race in years though). This is all about her. And while I can't give all the funds to a charity, I can pay it forward. I can welcome the generosity, love, and support of friends and family, and I can offer the same to others in unexpected and meaningful ways.
So that's what I'm going to do. I'm flying to Disneyland (after I somehow come up with the rest of the resources necessary, but it will happen) to cheer on a friend, keeping up with her as long as I can as she kicks this race's butt, and then I'm going to pay it forward. I don't know how I'll pay it forward yet, but I have no doubt that opportunities with arise. And I look forward to giving others this gift.