Monday, January 30, 2012

The Middle Miles - #Vision2012

It's been a while, I know. I haven't had a lot of blogging inspiration over the past couple of months. After running the Savannah Half-Marathon in November, I needed a break. My body and mind needed rest, time to heal and less stress. I didn't stop running but I did cut way back on my mileage and my intensity. To sum it up, I needed a change. I've been going pretty hard in my training and preparations for my half marathons over the past year and it was time for a change. Life came at me unexpectedly, again. And as in the past, I was forced to make a change. So, we're one month into January and here I am. I just finished my first race of the year, a 5K and I got a PR! Whoo-whoo! I made a goal, set my mind to it, determined what I needed to do and ran hard to achieve it. For the last month, I've changed up my workout program. I mixed some things up, tried some new things and eliminated some things (some by choice others just as a consequence). The biggest thing I did differently was alter my race day/night preparations and consequently this set the stage for my #Vision2012 revelation. I let go of what I felt I needed or had to do and went out and just pushed hard. Moral of the story, it's ok to change. Accept it, embrace it and let go. I've set myself to stick to a comfortable running level and programed myself to only run "so hard". We get so hung up on doing things a certain way and sticking to the plan that we sometimes sacrifice important things in our lives such as success, personal records, friendships, relationships and even jobs. I don't know what my other races could have been like. I don't know if my 5K time would have been better had I raced more of them. I don't know because I didn't give it a chance.

Running is hard. Specifically, racing is hard. The first and the last mile are usually the hardest. Something happens in those middle miles that will either make or break your race. You either slow, get comfortable, quit or run faster. In all of my races, I always slow down during the middle miles. The first mile is hard because you have to figure out how to pace yourself. The last mile is hard because you're running on tired legs trying to make it to the finish. The middle miles test your strength and build you. You figure out how to adjust to rolling hills, weather and sometimes physical ailments (runner's typically experience GI distress). The middle miles are where you learn to run comfortably hard. I know the phrase is contrary. I mean really? What is comfortably hard? Comfortably hard is keeping your target pace. It's not letting the course deter, derail or defeat you. Comfortably hard is learning and recognizing your ability to dig deep and push hard.

A fundamental principle of training is overload. It means changing the stimulus by adding a greater stress or overload to produce an adaptation. In other words, you have to change in order to see results. You can't lift the same 5lb weight for 12 repetitions and expect to see lean and strong muscles. To get lean, strong and cut you have to add more weight, alter the repetitions and mix up the exercises. It comes down to change and your body's ability to adapt to change. I am a runner. I run according to schedule. I train according to a plan. I eat the same breakfast before every run. I follow a certain order before every long run. I race with a specific goal in mind. By nature, runners appear to be reluctant to change. I realized the importance of change on Saturday after my race. I can be good, better or mo' better. I have a choice as to which type of runner I will be. #Vision2012. What are you willing to let go, go hard for and change to allow better things to happen this year? This applies to running as well as other aspects of life. What changes in attitudes, beliefs, friendships, relationships, careers or finances need to change to make you mo' better in 2012? I am a witness that when you let go and are willing to change, you will run better, stronger and faster. I am a runner and I will run faster. #Vision2012, I am changing for the better.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More 13.1 Lessons I Learned

"and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" Hebrews 12:1
I Rocked Savannah 13.1! Half marathon #3 is done and I had a great race. I didn’t get the PR I hoped for but this was by far my best race. The week of the race was a lot different from my past races. I wasn’t nervous and I wasn’t anxious like normal. I was really looking forward to racing on Saturday. Race morning was even different. I was a little nervous but it was different than the other races. Once I set out on the course, I had a very emotional moment because I remember what was happening this time last year.  I watched someone I love fight for her life. Mile by mile I replayed those days from last fall.  I remembered how she wouldn’t let her illness get the best of her spirit. And with those thoughts, I began to run a different race.  Compared to everything she went through in those last months, I can certainly run for 13.1 miles. Her sprit encouraged me and something happened. I could hear her saying to me, “stop acting in fear and to act in love.”  I was flooded with emotions and the feelings to just let go. And so I let go, and I ran my own race.  Sure, I didn’t run in the time I hoped or expected but part of letting go was allowing myself to let go of other's expectations of me, my feelings of doubt and failure and the stress of finishing in a predicted time. I let go and let myself run my own race.
This 13.1 was different. This 13.1 was about my story and my journey from one year ago until now. In almost one year to the date, I completed three half marathons. I went through physical, emotional and spiritual changes. The one year journey chasing 13.1 has been one of the hardest things I’ve done yet it has been the most maturing and humbling experiences in my life. There were times I wanted to quit and there were times I couldn’t understand why I got up to run another day. A year later, I now see the beauty in my strength, my courage, my faith and my will to believe.  My strength doesn’t come from me finishing three half marathons. My strength lies in the fact that I wouldn’t quit, I kept running. I read a poem that says, I asked for strength and God gave me difficult situations. I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve. I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.  Well, I had similar request to God.  I asked for wisdom and God gave me running. I asked for strength and God gave me hills to run. I asked for courage and God gave me long runs. God didn’t give me what I wanted or what I thought I needed but he allowed people, situations and races to build my endurance. Chasing 13.1 has taken me on a journey of self-discovery and self-awareness. My experience Saturday was out of the ordinary. It was God using my circumstances and speaking to me through a special person.  So, I choose to honor her memory by dedicating my race to her, DLR; she opened my eyes to get out there and run my own race.
More 13.1 Lessons I Learned
  1. Run my own race.
  2. Believe. It all starts in what you Believe. if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
  3. That “Pain in the Butt” moment is the very lesson that life needs you to learn, understand and apply.
  4. There is no Quit in me.
  5. Some things are just really not that serious. You have to learn how to just chill out and let things be and let people be who they are.
  6. Unspoken truths are real feelings. Treat people for who they are and not based on how you think, feel or respond.
  7. It’s ok to lose the boundaries and step outside your comfort zone. There is more than one way to do things. Sometimes you have to try it a new way.
  8. Hot Yoga is my friend. It’s my gateway to relaxation and stress relief.
  9. It’s ok to fail sometimes, but it’s not ok to just give up. Failure keeps you growing, reaching and stretching.
  10. It’s still a process. I’m in a place called There, because God needed to get my attention.
  11. Pain is only temporary. Quitting lasts forever.
  12. I lost some battles by walking in fear but Thank God, I didn’t lose everything. I never lost my praise.
  13. While chasing 13.1, I found my strong.
.1)  .1 is often the hardest part of a race. .1 can wreck your dreams of a PR or a certain time goal.  It’s when you see the finish line and the crowd. .1 when your legs are heavy and everything aches and burns. It’s the longest yet shortest distance of the entire race. It’s when you can see it and feel it but you just haven’t arrived. The .1 is when you dig down deep and say I think, no, I know I can make it. I’m running towards my .1 right now. I see and feel that something is about to be birthed for me. I’m not there, but I’m almost there. So, God, I stand with outstretched hands waiting expectantly for your abundance of blessings. I have favor….

 Gratitude Journal
1)   I am grateful for my mother. My mom got a text alert as soon as I crossed the finish line and before I could take my post-race picture, she texted me to tell me Good Job and she was proud.
Black Girls Rock and Black Girls Run!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Weeks 10 and 11 SHM

Week 10: For the Long Run
The highlight of Week 10 was that I completed a long run of 14 miles. I ran it and I recovered from it without any soreness. Later in the week I did learn that I had a bit of lingering fatigue but I think a lot of that was because I was so busy and didn’t get enough sleep at night.

So, Mile10’s power verse is a repeat :
" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13 (NKJ)

It’s fitting that Week 10 is a remembrance of this verse. My longest, long run stands firmly on my ability to draw my strength from Christ. Mile 10 is a make it or break it point in the race. You’re over the hump so to speak because you are in double digits but you still have 3.1 more miles to go. Mentally, it’s time to dig in deep and search for that strength to keep going.

Week 11: There is NO Quit in Me
“You will experience fatigue and have to be mentally strong to simply keep going, knowing that you are going to continue to feel tired. However, it's important to remember that feeling tired is what training is about. You receive many benefits in marathon training only after you're tired. So the goal is to run beyond to the point of being tired so that the body is stimulated to grow stronger and more resistance to tiredness.”  ~ Greg McMillian, Running Coach

It’s at this point I must say, that I am tired. My body is talking to me and I just want to rest. I don’t want to hear the alarm clock go off at 4:50 a.m….I’m tired of hearing, beep, beep, beep and thinking about getting up while it’s still dark. I just want to sleep but I don’t have time to whine or think about what I want right now. Coach McMillian said it best, “feeling tired is what training is all about.”  Yep, I’m in the heat of the battle (as the saying goes) because I’m feeling really tired right now. This upcoming Saturday is a race day for me so I have to collect my thoughts. I have a race to run.
This training session has been different for me because I Believe differently. I don’t look at the miles and dread them. I look at the miles knowing I will complete them. What's different about my 10, 12 and 14 mile long runs? My outlook is different. I’ve gotten to the point in my running that I realize there is No Quit in Me.  If you’ve been following me, I told you weeks ago I’m more than a survivor; I’m a fighter.  I have gutted it out for weeks doing track work, hill repeats and long runs and I’ve been through enough bad runs to know that my strength to continue comes only through Christ.  I didn’t give up when someone else told me I should. I didn’t give up when my injuries seemed to persist. I didn’t give up when the temperature at 6 a.m. was 90 degrees on a good day.  I didn’t give up when I was dehydrated to the point I was about to be sick. I didn’t give up when my butt hurt for days and I couldn’t sit for long periods of time. I didn’t give up when others questioned my training.  Instead of quitting, I grew mentally stronger. Running has changed me from the inside out. My physical strength is only seen through my mental toughness. I keep running because I believe I can. I believe in myself and "I believe I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phillipians 4:13). God gave me the promise and I beieve it. Quitting is a mind-set. It’s a tactic of the enemy to keep me from God’s best. I say to the enemy, There is No Quit in Me!
Mille 11 is about focusing on that mental strength to be persistent and to keep running:

 James 1:2-3: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whennever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance(NIV)

Gratitude Journal

I am grateful for the training preparation.
I am grateful for the hard and easy runs.
I am grateful for the running experience.
I am grateful that running changed me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weeks 8 and 9 SHM: It Started with 12.25

Weeks 8 and 9 SHM: It Started with 12.25

I'm a little behind on my blogging right now. I haven't been particularly busy, but I have been lacking in rest. I started a post for Week 8 but never finished it. Here's the recap:

Week 8 
I survived Week 7's Pain in my Butt. I took a few days off from running and focused on foam rolling, stretching, massage, yoga and ART therapy. My mid-week run was an easy four miles and Saturday I had my longest and probably best run of the training season. I completed a 12.25 mile long run followed by a nice, cold ice bath. Saturday's long run felt really good. I let myself relax and just enjoy the run. As I started to blog about the week, I thought about my 12.25 mile long run and Romans 12:2 came to mind:

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

At that moment, I realized it's time for a renewing of my mind. I've been neglecting my spiritual fitness and my body, heart and mind are suffering. The physical warning sign came in the form of my tight and strained muscles. The mental warning sign came from of my sluggishness and irritability. My training routine has been off for the past couple of weeks and I have been feeling out of my element. I know it's time to take a rest and renew mentally, spiritually and physically. It's time for me to refocus and renew my mind.

Week 9 is the point in my training when it gets hard. This is the time when mileage is high and race anxiety starts to set in. Miles eight and nine are also the point in the race when I'm tired and I want to quit ~ be transformed by the renewing of your mind. However, I'm deciding to renew my mind and not let the enemy get a victory. I'm better prepared for battle this time around. I'm stronger, better and more confident. So, what's a little pain in my butt or some mental fatigue? I can handle it. I can handle it as long as I continue to focus on the source of my strength. I can handle it as long as I focus on renewing my mind. Every run is different, but God's promises remain the same. Entering week 9, is a great time to meditate on James 5:6:

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

This week my renewing of my mind begins on my knees with some time in prayer. When you are open to God, the impossible is possible.

Gratitude Journal
I am grateful for friendships.
I am grateful for new perspectives.
I am grateful I know when to rest.
I am grateful for cool weather.
I am grateful for the seeds planted in faith.
I am grateful for the rain to make the seeds grow.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week 7 SHM: A Pain in MY Butt

Seriously, my training came to a halt on Thursday when I woke up with a pain in my butt. Six weeks into training and I have a flare up in my hip muscles. The piriformis muscle runs deeply behind the glute muscles. It helps to rotate the hip. My hip flexors were a little tight and overworked in part due to tight hamstrings which tighten up the low back muscles. The tightness and strain of the hip flexors helped to cause the pain in my butt.

Now what? Little to no running, yoga, massage, ibuprofen, stretching, tennis ball and heat, heat and more heat. I plan to attempt and easy run on Monday and some evening yoga and hopefully I can get in for a quick chiropractic appointment. I'm praying for a good running week! I need my RunningTherapy to keep me sane!
Week 7 Mile Verse:
"Be still, and know that I am God!" Psalm 46: 10 (NLT)

I'm reminded of the comforting of this scripture. Sometimes, you just have to stop, be still and remember God is in control and he already knows the outcome. Instead of running ahead, running too fast or running too much, I am reminded to be still and just stay in the mile that I am in. There's no need to worry about the miles ahead, I need to focus and run in my present mile. God is working on me in this mile. From my last two half marathons, I learned that miles 7-8 have been the hardest both mentally and physically. I break down. Mentally, I'm thinking I still have 5-6 miles to go; physically, I'm feeling the heaviness in my legs and the burning in my lungs. Meditating on Psalm 46 says to me, Be Still and run in this mile and Know that God will give me the strength to run the next mile.

Gratitude Journal
I am grateful for a warm Epsom salt bath.
I am grateful for rest.
I am grateful for hope.
I am grateful for running friends.
I am grateful for the friends who call/text just to check on me.
I am grateful for this heat wrap I'm sitting on J.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Week 6: SHM – I AM a Fighter

 "No Weapon formed against me shall prosper…. "

I am more than just a Survivor. I am a Fighter. When I finished my 10 miles on Saturday, that thought came to my mind. With the exception of Monday, I had a good training week. Three good runs including my long run. I even had the drive to complete a recovery run on Sunday. Imagine that! I actually ran five days last week! Look how far I've come in one year. It's been an up and down physical, mental and spiritual journey, but I made up my mind that I will not be defeated. I made up in my mind that I'm not just a survivor. I am a fighter. God's Word says "no weapon formed against me shall prosper". Going into Week 6 of training, I'm hiding this Word in my heart and standing on God's promise.
This morning I was listening to Joel Osteen and he said "there are some situations that you just can't pray away." I had a moment of God speaking to me. The things we face in life may not be fair or pleasant, but it's necessary for our growth and refinement. God doesn't cause bad things, but he does allow things to help us grow and reach our destiny. We just need to understand it's a process. It's a process that can not be rushed or hurried along. Each day, experience, challenge, or irritation is a test of our faith, our endurance, and our perseverance. When I run, I get new revelations. I remember how much I wanted to increase my mileage, how much I wanted to not suffer with the nagging pain in my ankles, how much I wanted to get rid of the tight calf muscles, and how much I wanted to be rid of the foot pain. I remember thinking maybe I should stop running for a while. Maybe, I should just give this up and not try to run half-marathons. But, something in me just wouldn't quit. I learned how to work around my issues, how to strengthen my legs, how to train the best way for my body. I stayed in faith and started to believe in my abilities more than my circumstances. And, slowly, I'm coming around. I see a different runner. I see a stronger runner. I see a determined runner.

My Running Revelations:
  1. Every run is not going to be a good run and it's ok because I know I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
  2. God didn't take the physical limitations from me, but he gave me grace to run another day.
  3. I am running with endurance the race God has set before me. Confirmation from Pastor Joel: "Sometimes you can't pray away your situations, you have to learn to endure (long-suffering is another way he explained it).
  4. All things are possible, if I believe. When I believe in myself, I have confidence to keep running.
  5. Praising and being thankful takes the focus off how hard this feels and puts it on the one who gives me the grace and the strength to run this race.
  6. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. I am not just a Survivor. I am a Fighter.
"A Fighter is a person who does not easily admit defeat in spite of difficulties or opposition"

Gratitude Journal
I am grateful that the Lord is revealing to me my strong.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week 5: SHM: Miles to GO

"I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34: 1 (NKJ)

It's Week 5! One month of training is complete and now eight more weeks of increasing mileage, building stamina, and improving endurance. When I get tired, I tend to look down instead of looking up. I tend to look at the miles ahead instead of looking at the distance I've covered. I tend to look to the end instead of looking at the present. This week is a reminder to praise God not just petition him with my requests. It's a reminder to say thank you for keeping me and thank you for protecting me. It's a reminder to not get so focused on the distance that I forget to take notice of the process. While I was running on Saturday, I looked up and it was the most beautiful picture of the trees and a clear path of light with an opening. It was so peaceful and pretty right before I reached the busy highway. Sometimes, you have to stop in the middle of it all to give praise and say thanks. God, it's not about the distance I have to go, it's about the praise in my heart as I run my way through.

Mile Verse for the week: I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34: 1 (NKJ)

Gratitude Journal
I am grateful for long runs.
I am grateful I can listen to Joel Osteen podcasts while running.
I am grateful I never lost my hope.
I am grateful I never lost my joy.
I am grateful I never lost faith.
I am grateful I never lost my praise.

I'll be running and praising!