Monday, August 5, 2013


We can only be said to be truly alive in those moments
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
- Thornton Wilder

 "Be in the moment":  to say and actually do this, are more times than many, very difficult, and at the same time, very easy.  We go through moments looking backwards-either focusing on past things, or focused so far into the future you miss everyday moments. Many of us do this, I should know, I used to be one of them.

You have those that look backwards, and usually see the negative, and focus on these things on why positive things never happen to them.   It's how it always has been, nothing changes.  Or they look at the positives of the past with a longing of great days gone by and spend time reminiscing because they are afraid or cannot accept inevitable change. The past in these instances can be a vicious cycle a maze that they just cannot escape from leaving them feeling alone and in the dark.

You have the others, the "Reachers" who strive, always reaching for the next best thing, in a "positive"  edge...when I do this, I will be happy, if I accomplish this or have this, then I am worthy, only to get to that point to reach further, feeling empty and unfulfilled.  The negative striving is usually by giving up before even considering, I can't, it's impossible.  I just have to accept that I will never ____ (fill in aspiration here). Leaving them always wanting for the next best thing.

 Do any of these things sound familiar? Probably-a lot of people are a combination of these, both positive and negative spins, looking backwards and forwards but usually never living and being right where they are.  I still do this more than I care to admit, but by being honest with yourself is a good way to move forward to try and just be.

JUST BE. Two simple words, and sometimes the most scary thing to try.

Today, I got up to run, just a regular day-not feeling amazing, not bad-just what would be an ordinary day.  I sat awhile in silence with my coffee, waiting for it to be light enough to run, I thought of other runs.  Many times, when my best friend and I would be in a training run, I would spend many of those moments in my head-filling myself with doubt, or focusing on everything but what was occurring...she has this way of knowing what I'm doing in my head and then has an uncanny ability to give me per verbal shakes which snaps me right back to reality...and sometimes it can be a very unpleasant experience. Other times it is a gentle, loving reminder that, I'm focusing on things not occurring now...I used to get frustrated, and sometimes I still do, but mostly, I am so grateful for it.

Each experience we have, is seen through the filter of our past, and current perceptions.  To be able to take the time, to see and experience life, as many, many little moments, just as they are neither good nor bad and live in those moments as often as possible.  When you do that, it is so much more than existing;  it is living.  Those moments will fill your heart with amazing wonder and transform an ordinary run into a great experience.

The air was cool,  but damp.  The sun shown through the overhang of a wooded area on either side of a winding, hilly road.
          Beautiful, colorful flowers, covered in morning dew, scattered along the way at the base of some housing plans few and far between.

I could feel the burn of my legs and the quickening of my breath as I charged up the hills, the sting of the sweat and the wind on the down hills...the calming rhythm of a run, steady and strong.  Not just a run, but great moments.

 I am not saying deny your past-those experiences, have made you who you are.  You cannot change it, so you might as well accept it, embrace it and then let go what doesn't serve you and build on and learn from what does.   I am also not saying to go through life without goals.  Goals are great to have, but to be happy and accepting with an achievement, you must be happy and accepting and loving of yourself NOW.  

What I am saying is, to be in as much of every moment, as often as you can, or you will miss so much!  It doesn't have to be a spectacular event.  Sometimes it is the most ordinary moment that can be extraordinary; like sitting a park, in the sun, watching happy gators, by the fountain, swinging on a swing talking about dreams and every day occurrences.  It makes those memories so very, very precious.  Because when that moment is gone, you cannot get it back.  What I wouldn't give for another moment like that! But I am left with rich, beautiful memories which can never be taken away.

When we start to not let our past define us, or have limitations on our futures, and love and accept moments as they are: fleeting impermanent, ever changing then there is nothing you can't accomplish.  Love is the central theme:  yourself, others, moments as fully and as present as you can.

"Sometimes you just need someone to truly believe in you, there is greatness in that"

When this happens, your heart can be filled and life is truly a treasure.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

I regret that workout/run...said no one, ever

The past week has been non stop craziness.  My family painted and hung pictures all weekend long in my hubby's office and got the house ready for the hurricane that is involved with moving.    The  movers showed up early Tuesday and stayed until midnight.  The path of chaos was in every room, littered with stacks of boxes, scattered packing paper, various piles of trash, and items of "why did we keep this?".  Navigating each room was an obstacle course of other things strewn across everywhere awaiting its final destination in our new home.  It has been overwhelming, mentally and physically.  I am one who likes routine, and although I am not the neatest person by any means, chaos to this level drives me bonkers.  This is move #9 since I've been married, so I am pretty seasoned at this. In the past, I would work tirelessly, past fatigue and reason for about 7-10 days till everything was put up and set in place in perfect military wife style.  This one has been different, add a dog, and older children have been overwhelmed to the mix and all of us have needed time away from the chaos, and we have taken a lot more breaks than in previous moves.

     My last workout was Friday, I ran, did yoga and weight trained, and I always have felt great when I finished. With the move, these past few days I had been eating badly or barely at all, slept poorly and was grumpy, fatigued and irritated.  I had my old mindset in my head, just blast away and get everything done, and then you can resume training.  My best friend Hope, had called and asked how my training was going, and felt myself get agitated...didn't she know I just moved?  I don't have time, I need to get stuff in order and then I can start again, next week.  She calmly explained, that there will always be something, and if you want to succeed in your goals, you have to prioritize what you want.  Even if you do some core work for 5 minutes a couple times a day, it isn't that much time spent and it is something.  As much as I fought against it and got more agitated, I sat and thought about it, and I knew she was right.  She usually is.  Most people struggle with succeeding in their fitness goals, because they are looking for the perfect storm, that time when everything is in place, when they feel fantastic and full of energy, nothing is going on and in the real world, that usually never happens, ever.  There is a great saying out there that says, "If it is important to you, you will find a way, if it is not, you will find and excuse". 

     I did not feel great yesterday, I was tired, but I carved out 30 min, pushed my clothes away on the floor and did  CXWorx in my bedroom....and you know what?  I felt better.  Today, I wanted to take a nap and was tired of looking at piles of stuff...instead I went and weight trained for an hour...lifted some pretty heavy stuff and got my HR up.  For a couple hours after, I had more energy.  I knew, above all, I needed to run.  It was in the 90's today, so I waited till after dinner...and with some added encouragement from some great friends, I laced up my shoes and did a little exploring in my neighborhood. 

Was I tired? Yes. Did I have boundless energy? No, but as I ran, I could feel myself feeling better.   Was it my best run, hardly, a shorter run than I had been doing and clearly not my fastest.  But as I ran, and took in the new sights...lightning bugs lit my path, the humid air was different here, hard to explain, but less "thick" than in Florida.  The sidewalks are uneven and canopied by trees and in the dusk had an eerie feel to it.  There were dog walkers, some power walkers doing some sort of arm workout as they moved and there was a ton of traffic. I walked up the driveway sweaty, but feeling accomplished.  I have never regretted doing something, but I have regretted doing nothing. 

Even when your world is turned upside down with no visible end in sight, take a step back and re-evaluate your goals.  What do you want to accomplish and what will it take to reach your goals?  The training, the work is the journey, if you want something, you have to put the work in to reach your goals, stop making excuses and when you have days you may not feel like it, do something anyway because then you are making progress. Invest in yourself by doing the work..You will never regret it.  What are you doing to get yourself closer to your goals?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


The people we encounter during our lives help to shape our thoughts, opinions and behaviors. I have heard recently that the 5 people you spend the most time with are who you turn out to be most like. Now I don't know if that is true or not, but I do think that there are certain special people who awaken a thought or a feeling in ourselves that had they not been there would have never happened.

Today was unremarkable, very much like most Wednesdays I woke early to prepare for my cycling and core classes. For the most part the same members came to workout with me. I even played the same music I used several weeks before to motivate the class.

Every Wednesday there is a woman in the middle row of spin class. She comes in quietly, takes her seat and begins to work even before class has started. Her name is Yola. She is beautiful. I cannot begin to guess her age due to the fact that she has kept her body in amazing condition. My only reference is that she has mentioned having a daughter older than I am.

As class begins and we settle into a nice warmup pace I start to coach form on the bike. Hers is already perfect. Around 15 minutes in I am beginning to see the signs of fatigue, slumped backs, raised shoulders and facial expressions you wouldn't want to see in a dark ally. Yola, however, has a slight smile. She is gasping for air. She does not back down.

After class, everyone files out. Completely spent and thanking me for a beast of a workout. I will see them next Wednesday. Yola follows me across the hall for my next class, core conditioning. This is where today separates itself from every other Wednesday. Today Yola is the only person who stays for core work. She asks with a bit of a sad look in her otherwise brilliant hazel eyes if I would like to go home. She wanted to stay and so did I. The last two standing we were.

We did 30 minutes of one of the toughest core classes I have ever taught. There were no "lower" options. She did not need them. We just put our heads down and did the work. And when it was done I asked her how she was feeling. In a slight Polish accent she replied:

"I am hurting. My leg is healing very slowly. The doctor told me that it will take 6 months before I can be 100% recovered. He told me that if I don't move I will not be able to move. I cannot let that happen to me."

Yola finished a bike ride with her riding group. She was on her way home with her husband. She noticed that the day was a beautiful as they get. Sky was blue, air was warm and she had not been dropped by the group. That was the last thought in her head before she woke up in tremendous pain at Tampa General Hospital.

Yola had broken her femur in 3 places, her nose was broken along with her right orbital socket. She suffered a separated shoulder and severe road rash. The damage to her body was extensive and devastating.

Today marks 4 months from her crash. She is still in tremendous pain, but she smiles because she knows that nothing can stop her. And she will not limit herself. Her mind is made of some kind of metal stronger than steel. It must be.

She made this Wednesday a day that I will never forget. There will not be a day that I don't think of her strength and determination. I will think of her, but more importantly I will put those thoughts in motion. I will do the hard things. I will not stop. Ever.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hill training!

Hill training: Running conditions: Sunday 8 am Irwin, PA 60 degrees light drizzle.  So traveled up to PA to see my in laws for Father's Day.  In the 4 hour drive from Maryland, I was reintroduced to hills and elevation changes.  My ears popped frequently and had a combination feeling of appreciating the beauty and feeling claustrophobic for having hills and valleys so closed in to the roads.  My husband Mike plotted out a course that was between 3 and 4 miles with hills.  I knew it was going to be a challenge, but I thought it would be great to take advantage of the terrain while it was available. The Baltimore Marathon contains 2, 300 ft elevations and I have run relatively flat for nearly 5 years.  This course I thought had a total elevation change of 167 ft.  so in my mind I though no big deal right? So we set off and the first section is down hill...I like this type of warm up. Remembering the coaching same intensity, not necessarily same speed.  It was cool and damp, comparable to what our winter usually is.  We cross the street and head up on lap 1 of 2 of our course and this is what we have ahead:

The first hill was pretty darn steep what I found out was the total course had a 300 ft elevation change total(per my trusty Garmin watch) to the point we had to walk at the really top-wow!! Did we used to run these all the time growing up? We turn the corner thinking we will get a little reprieve, and uh, such case!

This is what it looks like from the top of the loop, by the second lap, it started raining at a pretty good clip-not driving, but definitely not a drizzle!
Around the back end of the loop and less than a half a mile to finish.  If you can tell, the roads here are not remotely conducive to runners, it was like playing Frogger in the rain! It is good that I have pretty good agility skills :)
That great start running down hill also means that the path to the finish is all up hill!
We ran, we walked, we talked and really enjoyed the company of each other, it was not about time, but a nice way to start Father's day with my hubby.  In regards to the hills, I definitely felt this in my hip and ankles, I know I am at the beginning of my base building so this was not for powering up the hills but the increase in total elevation of 1150 ft above sea level was definitely felt in our breathing!  My goal in the next couple weeks despite the craziness of the move and changing hotels and kids birthdays, change of command and moving into our new home is to get 12-16 miles per week.  First week in Maryland: 10 down, 2-6 to go this week!

Delicious and nutritious training fuel

I have been focused on improving my nutrition at this early stage of marathon training. It is extremely hot out right now (in the low to mid 90's) so my runs are slow and short. With that in mind I know I need to be vigilant in making excellent nutritional choices to prevent injury and lets face it, slim down a bit so I'm not hauling so much up and down the hills in Baltimore. Maybe in my next few posts I will go into my weight and measurements purely for a source of comparison after this marathon and before the Dopey.

With the heat beating me down I have increased my water intake tremendously. The first thing I do when I wake up is chug the full 16 ounces of water sitting on my night stand strategically placed the night before. I take a reusable cup full of water everywhere I go for the rest of the day!

Breakfast has been 2 hard boiled eggs (Cindy, you know how hard one is for me, but I have been eating two!!) On days that I need a change I have my eggs scrambled with peppers, spinach or any other veggies I can get my hands on. I also have one single serving size plain Greek yogurt (As little sugar as possible) I have tried Fage, Chobani, and Oikos. They are all pretty similar in taste, but not in price so I will buy whatever is on sale of the 3. This morning I added fresh raspberries and black berries to my yogurt.

After I teach spin and core or do my own training in the morning I usually have a protein shake with fruit and spinach. I used frozen grapes, 4oz of milk and the rest was water this morning.The frozen grapes taste ultra sweet so it is like having a cake in a cup!

As soon as I feel at all hungry after that I have a salad with either grilled chicken or hard boiled eggs as a source of protein. I have some sort of nuts too. Lately I have been loving salt-free walnuts. Variety where I can get it here!

If I am going to have anything that I know that I really shouldn't I try to do it midday. That way I don't get off track early and cascade and I also don't end the day feeling like a I made bad choices right at the end. A positive mindset in nutrition is just as important as it is in training.

Dinner. I try to strictly limit processed food here. There is no time left to "burn it off" and I want to provide my body with the right tools to use my sleep as recovery time. A relatively small dinner that satisfies my hunger is what I have. Usually that is chicken, fish and veggies.My favorite veggie of all time is the adorable baby cabbage looking brussel sprout. (I know they smell bad and I don't care - they taste yummy and are packed with the nutrients my body needs to function at a high level of athletisism)

 I have been having FAR less coffee in the last couple weeks and I do not feel like I have less energy. Of course I don't have a true way to measure that though. I may go get a coffee right now before my bike ride!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Finding the time to train in transition

June 13, has been a week since I left all that had been familiar to me for almost 5 years.  After moving around the world in one form or another, we had found our home in Florida.  The military was not done with our family yet, so we set out for what we hope is our last move a week ago.  The stress and craziness that comes from moving can be in a way as fatiguing as many workouts but without the benefits.  I know that deloading and breaks are good and many times necessary, so I have tried my best to be kind and take the time to relax, reflect, stretch and do yoga when my body would be stiff and achy from long car rides and unfamiliar beds.  We are now staying in a small hotel room: 4 people plus a 70 pound Labrador puppy equates to crowded quarters and restlessness! I wanted to run, get my legs moving and do some of the lifting I had been missing. I definitely become more irritable and ancy when I'm not getting a bit of stress relief from exercising.
     For the past year, the usual routine was that on Wednesdays, Hope and I would start the day at Starbucks (where we were well known), go to spinning and core class which she taught(sometimes I helped in core), have lunch and then we would do our weight training for an hour.  Hope and I had consistently trained together for more than 3.5 years.  It was a great dynamic and it worked well.  We have our own strengths and challenges. We are very competitive but not with each other.  Hope has a grace in her training that is amazing to witness and I have always tried to work towards that; all the while she would always be right there coaching on what things I needed to tweak or work on to improve my gait, posture, strength, form, etc.  But I digress; so I set out Wednesday evening to go to the post fitness center to see what equipment they had and so I could plan what I would do in the morning.  When you walk in, the first thing you see is a big one room like the inside of a wear house with tons of treadmills, elliptical machines all lined up neatly facing the same way towards strategically placed flat screens hanging from the ceilings....hmmm very military like.  Past the rows of cardio equipment, is the weight area, the left side occupying the machines, the right side had the free weights. They have many of the basic stuff I need: Olympic bar, heavy dumb bells, back extension bench, plates, the kettle bells are only 20lb, but they will work. Down stairs was a spinning room that was closed and a group fitness room where a small handful of people were lifting small dumbells to music. There wasn't much else on post that had this set up so while on post, here is where I'll train.
     So I set my alarm for early and got there at 6.  As I walked in I realized something: I had no partner in crime, no lifting wizard or form guru.  No one to banter with or call me on it if I want to pull back....crap! Even though I knew what I needed to do, the realization of this fact weighed heavy at first.  I looked around and let out a small sigh as I saw all others in groups of twos training together.  I then smiled with the knowledge that I had the gift of being taught by an amazing trainer and best friend and got to work.  I did my base warm ups of DB swings and goblet squats, I did Olympic pyramid sumo dead lifts, single arm rows and a ton of push ups of varying kinds, weighted back extensions and finished with pull ups.  I wasn't going to push it, but I was greatly encouraged by my continued strength; I knew that time was a good teacher.  Even though Hope was not with me in that room, I had been given the gift of knowledge and confidence to walk in and train effectively on my own.  I think I even had a few heads turn with the dead lifts :-). I finished my first training with a moderate pace 2.5 mile run and knew that it was the start of a new chapter in our training.  Separate yet still together.  What a great start!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Registration Day!

I officially registered for the Baltimore Marathon today! I truly believe the best gift you can give is your time. This blog (and race) is my little way to give back to Cindy for everything she has blessed me with in the last several years :)

Let the training begin!