Be Your {Running} Self

Birdie and I were chatting a few weeks ago. Have I mentioned she’s wicked fast and WINS races? Yeah, she does.

Remember how I ran the 10K? She ran the 5K. Ahem, she WON the 5K.

Remember how I ran the 10K? She ran the 5K.

I was proud of my 10K, just 10 weeks after surgery. 47:19:00, 65th place, 6th place in my Division (Women 30-39 in the 10K), and 20th of the women overall. She won. She WON the race. And ran 19:58. I mean, really. She’s a rock star.

Anyway, she’s fast and I’m…respectable. She said I should go run at Thursday Night at the Races, an indoor track meet held on Thursday nights in NYC. Fast people run there. I’m a fast people groupie. And a running nerd.

I buy my 16 month old niece matching running shoes. Cuz that's how I roll.

I buy my 16 month old niece matching running shoes. Cuz that’s how I roll.

I was flattered, but declined to hold up the events by making people wait til I finish my 7:30 miles for 3 miles. Sounds fast, and I’m proud of my time!, but I know those girls are running 5 minute (or less!!!) miles.

Yikes!

This would be me always.

This would be me always.

I’m not the target runner for that venue. Nor am I anywhere near elite, sub-elite, whatever comes after sub-elite status. I’m a middle-of-the-road gal.

I don’t pretend to know how to be or be a lead-pack runner. I also don’t pretend to be a cool runner. I fully burst out into song when I see someone I know at a race. I cheer like a wild banshee for my runner friends when they truck on by. I probably embarrass some people, but I don’t care.

Oh yeah. I bring the cowbell & drums to cheer.

Oh yeah. Me and my friends bring the cowbell & drums to cheer.

And so I feel good about my races and times. I don’t compare myself to people I have no business comparing myself to. I don’t get mad that Birdie runs 3:10 marathons and my best is a 3:46. I don’t covet other runners’ 40 marathon medals in 4 years cuz my body would never tolerate that.

And let’s be real. No matter how many blowouts I get at The Dry Bar (why aren’t you making an appointment with them right now??), I am a curly girl.

Straight hair, sleek and pretty though it may be, is massively time-consuming. Wild child curls it is!

Straight hair, sleek and pretty though it may be, is massively time-consuming. Wild child curls it is!

When you know who you are, what your strengths are, all the amazing things you have to offer the {running} world and all your fabulous {running} friends, you can be happy for them instead of pining after their medals and times and brand ambassador opportunities.

It’s so much more fun to be happy for friends, isn’t it? Ugh. Jealousy is soooo time-consuming and lame. Be proud of your achievements, whatever they may be!

Now go out and run!

Finish Lines

If you haven’t noticed already about me, I am BIG with finish lines.

Medals. I like Finisher’s medals.

I like to train for races, but I like to finish races. I don’t really enjoy training for nothing at all so I am always looking for my next goal. It was really frustrating to train for this year’s Marine Corps Marathon and not run it.

Surgery > Marathon. Sadly.

I mean, Sandy happened and all that so I’m not sure we would have made it down for the marathon even if I was healthy, but you get the idea.

I like to train. I like to race. I like to finish.

This translates literally to my non-running life.

I like to get certificates, diplomas, little monikers that say, “You did it! You finished!” If there’s no piece of paper for me, did it really happen?

Yeah baby!

I don’t think anyone is handing out certificates of completion for surgery these days. I mean, they should but my surgeon didn’t include that in my discharge papers.

It’s important to me that I commemorate this and other massive milestones in my life. Anniversaries, birthdays, the end of massive medical interventions…they’re all the same to me.

A dinner. A party. A vacation. Something. A finish line that says, “I did it! I made it through Hell and back!”

No more surgery = party time! Hats, sunglasses & all!

Between JB and me, we like to celebrate moments in our lives. There’s something to be said for working toward a goal, meeting it, and celebrating the journey AND the finish!

Celebrate these finish lines, too, not just the ones that come with medals.

My first marathon medal. I wore this all day the NEXT DAY!

Be proud of what you have accomplished, large and small. Celebrate your victories and finish lines.

Oh, and if you see me running around this winter, know that it is solely for the celebration I will be having on a beach! No bag included 😉

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Firsts

I know it’s late and Tuesday is almost over, but there’s still time for Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays and today is all about Firsts. After all, there’s always a First time for everything.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of watching several of my friends complete their First marathons here in New York. You always remember your first marathon. It’s usually the First time you’ve run that far. Maybe it’s the First time you’ve hit The Wall or found your third wind. It’s the First time you’re going to cross that big ‘ol finish line for sure.

I love cheering on First-time marathoners! Few runners are a excited to be out there, running their race and finishing as the First-timers. Their energy is both inspiring and contagious and I fully intend to carry all of that enthusiasm with me into my own marathon in less than two weeks (thanks, guys!).

It’s part of why I love my job as much as I do. As a personal trainer, I am regularly privileged to help people achieve many Firsts where their physical fitness, and sometimes their life, is concerned. It’s remarkably rewarding to help others succeed.

I wonder how many people out there get as much out of helping others as I do? I am a big believer in sharing my talents so that others might benefit from them, which makes lululemon a perfect fit for me and me for them! We’re always bouncing around ideas about how we can help our community through health and fitness. I’m thrilled to be a part of a company whose employees share my desire to affect change in the community.

So many people have helped me achieve Firsts in my life. There’s nothing quite like it and I can never thank each of them enough. Are there people who helped you through your First (insert proud achievement)? Have you been the one who inspired another to work for their First? You may have and you don’t even know it. We never really know how what we do can change the life of those with whom we have contact every day.

Whether it’s a marathon, a grade in a class, surviving the impossible, buying your first home, getting that dream job, Firsts are memorable. But someone helped you get there. Someone gave you the strength and the courage to take those First steps to reaching your goal. Don’t forget to thank them, too. You couldn’t do it without them.

That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Being inspired by others and inspiring those around us to reach beyond what they think they are capable of. To shoot for the Moon and wish upon the stars. Cheesy, yes. True, nonetheless.

Here’s to the Firsts. Thanks for reminding us that we can do anything we really set out to do. A fitting BTAT if I ever heard one.

Now go out and run!

Runner Q & A: What Matters In Marathon Prep

As a personal trainer and a run coach, I’m asked these questions pretty often. For those of you running your first marathon, listen up! These just might save you on race day.

Q. I’m so nervous for my marathon, I’m afraid I won’t be able to sleep the night before. Help!

A. Well, you’re in luck because the sleep you really need happens TWO nights before the big day. That means Friday night is the night for you to kick back and call it an early evening. Get plenty of rest and lazy around as much as you possibly can (2pm nap anyone?). Whatever you do, make every effort to get as much rest as possible in the week leading up to your marathon. Doctors have stressed that you don’t “make up” for lost hours of sleep, so try not to lose any that week.

Sleep is good.

Q. How do I stay warm at the start line and in the beginning of the race? It’s supposed to be 35° at Ft. Wadsworth and up to 55° by the time we get to 1st Avenue. 

A. Layer, layer, layer. I suggest wearing throw away pants, a sweatshirt, gloves, a hat and possibly cover up with a Tyvek suit or garbage bag to keep the cold out at the start line. Be ready to throw all of your cover-up items away (most races collect them and donate them to shelters). I DO NOT suggest full-length tights unless it’s supposed to be 45° or colder during the entire race. You will just get too hot and sweat more than is necessary. So, guys, wear shorts and either a lightweight long sleeve or a short sleeved t-shirt and hold onto your gloves for a little bit. Gals, I would wear lightweight crops (vented in the back) and a long sleeve vented top over a tank top. You may take the long sleeve on and off throughout the race, but you’ll be glad to have it when it’s shady. Gloves are the best accessory because sometimes you want them even if you’re in a tank top and shorts.

It was 60 by the time I finished and I felt perfectly dressed the entire way.

Q. Any tips for getting out of the park after the New York City Marathon?

A. Why, yes. I have a few. The NYCM finish line is by far the worst I have EVER encountered. It’s a great big bottleneck and they make you walk a mile up hill to the family meeting area before they let you out of the park. Most people follow along because they’re too tired to argue. I’m not one for forced marching. Disclaimer: None of these are sanctioned by NYRR, but I have used them many a time to get the hay-ho out of Central Park after the marathon. My first marathon, I was in desperate need of a bathroom and there was one near the medical tents off to the left of the finish line. That allowed me to hit the POJ and exit the park right there. Mind you, I must’ve looked like I needed medical attention because no one argued with me. The second one is to just jump the police barricades. JB and Mr. Red Sox did this last year. Basically, if someone tries to stop you you basically just ignore them and get out of the park as quickly as possible.

Here is your finish line (looked great today!)

Rock on, marathoners! And for the rest of you…

…Go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: The Force

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays is a time to remind ourselves that life isn’t really that bad. Right? I mean, you’re here, so that’s good. No matter what else is happening, my Obi-wan is always saying, “Hey, it beats the alternative” and so was born BTAT.

What better theme for BTAT, then, than The Force. If you don’t know what The Force is, please turn around and walk to your nearest computer and immediately watch the original three Star Wars movies. I’m talking the ones with Mark Hammill and Harrison Ford, not that other garbage. They are seriously awesome movies which you should watch in succession on a gloomy day or when you are sick. They rock.

Anywho, The Force can be used for good or for evil and is the most powerful weapon/tool in the whole Galaxy. The light saber doesn’t even come close to the power of The Force. The Force can move objects, choke people to death, make the impossible possible and otherwise overcome the powers of the Dark Side. And, as Obi-wan and Yoda are always telling Luke, The Force is strong with you.” Yoda has all kinds of words of wisdom regarding The Force.

The most powerful moment for me is after Yoda raises Luke’s jet out of the swamp using The Force:

Luke: “I don’t believe it.”

Yoda: “And that is why you fail.”

In my world, my Obi-wans (Mr. & Mrs.) are always telling me and my siblings that The Force is strong in our family.” And, yes, it is something we say to each other during times of trouble and when we need encouragement. We are corny, I know. But there’s truth to it. Because within our family structure, there is a Force, an energy and a determination to succeed and press on in seemingly impossible situations. So, yes, The Force is strong in our family. And we all have it.

And we all believe in it. And believe in it we must (little Yoda-speak for you there). When life seems impossible and there is only darkness, we have to believe that someday there will again be light. Faith, The Force, whatever you want to call it, it must be within us in order for our strength to overcome the Dark Side, to keep going.

Winston Churchill said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” That is what The Force allows us to do, to keep going. You may think it cheesy for us to take something from a movie and actually incorporate it into our everyday lives but I gotta tell you, there’s truth to it. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in eyes of my family members when they were sick with cancer. I’ve seen it in the eyes of my sister running a marathon, of my brother on the football field. I’ve seen it in times of trouble or sadness when there is suddenly one focus, one team and there is nothing we can’t do together. I’ve seen it in the fierce protectiveness we all have over each other when on of us is hurting or in need. It’s very strong and certainly a Force to be reckoned with.

The Force is strong in my family. And for that, I am grateful. And that’s what makes is Better Than the Alternative on this Tuesday. No matter where we go, no matter what we do, The Force is with us and within us and it will keep us going through our darkest times.

I hope you have The Force in some way or another. I hope you know the depths of your strength and can harness it when troubled times abound. It’s in you, you know. You just have to believe it, like Yoda says.

May The Force be with you, friends.

Now go out and run!