Since our kids were little, we’ve spoken consistently on commitment – if you say you’re going to do something, you do it; you finish what you start, and you don’t half-ass it. If you can’t or won’t abide those rules, you don’t even start. You can’t tell your kids one thing and do something else, so we do our very best to live this out. This means that even when we’re tired, or overwhelmed, we have to suck it up.

I’m training for two races right now, with the goal of finishing the half marathon in June at or just under two hours. That means work, because I have to take over 8 minutes off my best time. I have a training plan I’m doing my best to stick with. Travel and illness have derailed it a bit, but I’m back in the saddle this week, getting miles in. I’m even doing speed work, which I completely detest. More shocking, I’ve run in the rain. I’ve always been a fair-weather runner. I hate being out in the rain. But I have to put the miles in, so I shove a hat on my head, put on sunglasses to keep the rain out of my eyes, and get out there. I’ve also never run back-to-back days, much less three days in a row, but I’m doing it. I actually feel stronger, and have fewer issues with my hip and IT band than when  I was just running three days a week. It helps to have a friend holding me accountable, but I’ve committed to a goal, and it’s on me to finish it. That means there are nights I don’t go out because I have a long run early the next morning. That means getting up on a Saturday morning when I’d much rather sleep in. That means squeezing in runs even when I have a billion other things to get done. That means taking care of my body so it can carry me through 13.1 miles/

Big Man had some struggles with fully committing earlier this school year. He was out there at practice, but man, talk about phoning it in. Granted, he was struggling with growing pains, but he just would not push through. It came back to haunt him, and he learned a valuable lesson, one that didn’t come from us.

The Princess has been about commitment for years. When she chose dance over competitive soccer, she was mid-way through a soccer season. She knew she had to carry it out, finish the season with her team. Her soccer family was relying on her. They needed her to remain fully engaged until the end. It was rough….she was exhausted, but she fought until the very end of the very last game of her very last tournament. She decided to cheer in high school, so for nearly a year, she’s been at school almost every weekday morning at 6am to practice. That doesn’t begin to cover all the extra hours at camp, cheering at games, making posters and putting together gifts for athletes, working hard on pep rally routines. In the midst of all this, she’s done her best to maintain  her dance schedule.

Here’s the deal – your kids are going to learn to be committed to things if you aren’t showing them how. You can’t tell them to commit if you aren’t committed to whatever you’re doing. Some days it’s much harder than others, but you do it, even when it’s difficult, and you’re tired, and you’d much rather sit on the couch watching baseball movies all day.

Walk-Up Song

I love baseball – love watching it, going to games. One of my favorite parts of going to a baseball game is hearing what each home player’s walk-up song is. What’s a walk-up song? It’s the song each player from the home team has chosen to hear as he approaches home plate for his at-bat. It’s a song that pumps him up,  helps him get in the zone, and it’s personal to each player. I can tell who’s coming up to bat for my favorite team just by what walk-up song is playing.

My running playlist is full of my own personal walk-up songs….songs that help me run faster, stay focused, or just keep moving. There are the songs that help me through that last miserable mile of a long run, songs that help me bust it up a hill, songs that make me feel strong, songs that help me cool down. Some of them are angry and full of foul language. Some are inspiring, lifting me up when I think I can’t run one more step. Some of them are those songs that get your fist pumping, head bobbing, nothing-can-stop-me-now songs.

I use walk-up songs in day-to-day life as well. If I’m going into an event, class, or meeting by myself, I’ll play a song in the car before walking in to help boost me up, give me confidence. If I’m giving a speech, or talking to a group, telling  Big Man’s story, or going into an IEP meeting for Little Man, I’ll play a song I know will make me feel strong, confident, focused. The kids have songs they like to hear before games, competitions, presentations. We used to play “Eye of the Tiger” on our way to the soccer fields every Saturday way back when. They still laugh when they hear it now. Princess chose one of her walk-up songs for her contemporary solo last year.

Do you have a walk-up song? What is it?

Why I posted that picture

As I’ve shared before, I’ve been struggling mightily with negative self-talk, self-image, and self-esteem probably more than any time since I was just out of college. There’s something about this 40+ age that throws the body into chaos. In spite of a regular, strenuous workout routine, and watching (most of the time) what I eat, not only is weight not coming off, it’s moved around, and keeps creeping up. It’s frustrating, defeating, intimidating. I’ve been working hard to a) overcome the negative thought process, reminding myself daily that I’m healthy and b) do what I can to maintain rather than focus on losing or gaining and c) keep a good attitude towards it all, especially when the Princess is around.

Yes, I ran a half marathon on Sunday. Do you know I still “felt fat” when I was done? I mentally chastised myself for my post-race lunch, once I’d eaten it, in spite of the fact I’d just burned about 1100 calories.

I’m particular about the pictures I post on social media of myself, and those others may post of me. Like most people,  I want the most flattering pictures posted. But Sunday, I posted a photo of me and Big Man following our finish. I didn’t like the photo. I didn’t look my best – all sweaty and gross from just running 13.1 miles – and the angle wasn’t all that great. My hair was pulled back in a pony, with a headband. I’m not pretty or cute when I run – it’s all about function (although I did make sure to match my headband to my shirt and shoes). I looked at the photo before I put it up, and cringed. But I posted it anyways. I needed to post it, for myself, and because that moment was bigger than how I feel about myself.

I’d done something not everyone does – I’d trained for, and run, a half marathon. And I’d run it with my 15-year-old former 26-weeker. And I am a healthy person, darn it. I posted it to remind myself healthy doesn’t equal rail-thin or skinny. Healthy equals me taking care of me. Healthy is mental as well as physical.

I still fight the battles, almost every day. I try to push back against the thoughts of “If you eat this, then you have to do that,” or buying into extreme diets and exercise plans that focus on numbers rather than the whole person. I posted that photo to remind me I am okay. I don’t have to see a certain number on a scale to be a healthy mom/wife/woman. The moment that photo was taken wasn’t about me fighting an internal battle, it was about sharing something incredible with my son. Finishers

Take that, prematurity

After months of talking, training, and preparing, yesterday was race day for me and Big Man, as well as my nephew, my brother, and good friends/neighbors M and D. With 33,000 people running in the half and full Rock n Roll marathons, we had a very early start, waking at 3am to leave at 4am to be in the parking garage by 5am. Water bottles filled, breakfast eaten, race nutrition packed, bibs and timing chips attached, we headed out the door into the darkness to make the drive downtown.

I was nervous – not so much for me as for Big Man. He’d hardly trained, his longest long run being 8 miles long, and weeks before the race. He had started coughing last week, and even with full asthma meds going, couldn’t seem to shake it. His confidence level was also pretty high, believing he would charge through this race. I wanted to be with him, but I wanted him to be able to run his own race. I was terrified he’d have an asthma attack during the race. I was nervous he’d forget his hydration and nutrition plan for the race. I was worried he’d hit that wall every runner seems to hit at some point or another, and I wouldn’t be with him to keep him going. I did know that despite my worries, I needed to let him to, let him earn this on his own, allow him the independence he deserves.

We arrived at the start area with plenty of time to stand in line for the porta potties (worst part of running races), then we headed to our start corral. I gave him some last-minute suggestions, went over the race plan again. Before we knew it, our corral was at the start, and it was our turn to take to the course. My nephew has experience with half marathons. He was going to stay with Big Man. I watched them ahead of me for the first mile or so, then lost sight of them as their pace took them further and further from us. I had signed up for text updates on him and my brother, so I knew when he crossed the 5K, 10K, halfway point, and finish. I did check each medical tent we passed, praying I wouldn’t see him in any of them. At some point, I knew it would be what it would be, and just began to enjoy my own race.

I have to say, I love the Rock n Roll series. The course support is awesome, and there are cheering spectators almost the entire route. We saw so many people with funny signs, waving and clapping for all the runners. I think one of my favorite signs said “The faster you run, the sooner we drink!” and “Go Random Stranger!” There was also the, “You thought they said ‘rum’ didn’t you?” We had running Elvis’, at least three fireman in full gear, and a mile dedicated to remembering those military members we’ve lost. There were dogs with their owners all along the route as well.

We were just past mile 11 when my FitBit buzzed with a text – Big Man had crossed the finish line in under two hours. I relaxed and finished my own race, setting a PR at 2:08:49.

I am so proud of my son. Not many 15 year olds run half marathons. Not many 15 year olds run half marathons in under two hours. Not many 15 year olds will come in 2890 overall. Not many 15 year olds who were born at 26 weeks run. This boy has battled and overcome scarred lungs and prematurity-related asthma to become a runner. There was a time we didn’t know he would ever run. So, take that, prematurity. This young man isn’t going to let his too-soon start hold him back.

It Isn’t About the Race

My Dear Son –

In nine days, we will run the Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon. It’s been a rough training season, much like your first year of high school has been an ongoing battle. I want you to understand, this isn’t about the race. I want you to understand why we’ve been pushing you so hard this year.

Think of this race, and training for this race, as a metaphor of a life lesson we want you to learn sooner than later. When you’re training for a race, you  need to get up and get your runs in, even when it’s dripping rain, warm, or you’re tired. And you can’t ditch your run the minute you feel uncomfortable. You have to fight the mental battle, and push through. If you don’t train, race day will be much more difficult than it needs to be. Put the time in, do the work, prepare your mind and body.

I can’t run this race for you. I’ll be there by your side, but you have to do it. You have to run. I’ll support you as much as I can, but this is your gig. You’ll reach a point you’ll need to fight yourself, the desire to stop, to give in, to give up. We all get to that place at some point in every race. It’s then you need to draw out your own inner strength, pull from the people running alongside you, gather energy from the spectators along the race route cheering you on. Keep fighting. Keep running. The finish line isn’t that far away. The reward is in sight, but you have to keep fighting. You’ll get there; I know you will, and I can’t wait to see your face when that medal is placed around your neck, a sign of accomplishment.

Now take all that, and apply it to life. This is what we want you to learn….We can’t do life for you, but we’re here, supporting you and cheering you on, every step of the way. But you have to fight through. You have to reach down inside yourself, and learn to push even when you want to stop. Minimal effort does not equal maximum outcome. You can skate through, but you don’t win that way. Successful people are not those who’ve given the least of themselves. This is why we’ve been pushing you so much this year – pushing you to be accountable, to do the work, to live up to the potential you’ve shown, do what we know you’re capable of. This is why we aren’t letting you slide on minimal effort, excuses, or quitting.

There will be a day, all too soon, we aren’t able to be there constantly watching, prodding, managing. You need to do this. You need to be that fighter we know you have within. You have to motivate yourself. You  have to push yourself, even when you want to stop, give in, give up. The sooner you learn this and live it, the easier your life will be, and success will come, in whatever form is meant for your life. The time for coasting is over. Reach deep inside yourself, and learn again to battle. Run the race. Fight through. We’ll be there, watching, cheering, encouraging, and, yes, pushing.

I’m proud to be your mom. I can’t wait to cross that finish line with you.

Running on Kauai

I don’t tend to work out while I’m on vacation. For me, vacation usually  means a complete break, although our last few vacations involved LOTS of walking/hiking, so I did get inadvertent exercise. I’m not getting any younger, however, and am  in the midst of training for my first half marathon in nearly two years. I knew this vacation was going to have to involve some runs, and at least one long run. I’d done a couple short runs the last time we were in Hawaii and was actually looking forward to it.

Our first morning on Kauai, I got up early, because, you know, time zone change had me wide awake at 4am Hawaiian time. Big Man was supposed to go out with me, but he’d left his running shoes at home. ARGH! I jumped on one of my running apps to track down a route with the mileage I needed, had a little bit of coffee, plugged in my headphones, and headed out.

The first part of my run was along the main road in the town we were staying. There were quite a few people out running and walking. There were lots of waves and head-nods. “Yeah, we’re running in this beautiful place.” My run would loop me up through a small historic town, but was along two-lane roads the entire time. And there were chickens and roosters everywhere! They helped keep me entertained.

I recalled as I ran that going away from the ocean, you’re going uphill. When you’re going towards the ocean, it’s downhill. I did have to stop a few times to take some photos.  The views were just beautiful, and inspiring. That I had the opportunity to be in, much less run in, such a gorgeous place….trust me, I appreciated it.

I won’t lie – I did get a tiny bit lost, but it isn’t too hard to find your way again. Kauai is pretty rural overall. We stayed in Poipu. You can’t really get completely lost there. I didn’t get too many weird looks while I ran along the side of this narrow road. I’m sure the residents are used to crazy runners getting out there. I ran through Koloa, noting the shops I wanted to stop by later, particularly the ice cream/shave ice shop. (Hey, I run so I can have my wine, and sometimes ice cream, with impunity).

I ran by some houses, wondering what it’s like to actually live there, and then hit the “main” road, the Koloa bypass. Ahhhhh…..the downhill part. There were lots of smooshed froggies on the sides of the road. I remembered my mom telling me long ago of her trip to Kauai, and how the frogs were so loud. I didn’t hear any frogs while we were there, but they were probably drowned out by all the roosters.

I did seven miles that first Kauai run. A few days later, I ran 3.5 staying in Poipu, running near the ocean and back along that main road. My last Kauai run, the day before we came home, I ran the Koloa bypass out to the main highway and back to our resort, which was almost six miles. That was a rough one…it was super humid, and the cloud cover was gone. The sun was beating down, and let’s just say, I’d celebrated a little bit the day before, as it was Little Man’s birthday, and I was feeling it on that run.

Our world is amazing with so many beautiful places. Getting out and running when  you’re traveling gives you a perspective you don’t get from a car, or while sight-seeing. Destination running, I’m discovering, is an awesome way to really see a place, feel it, live in it. I’m so thankful l took my running shoes, laced them up, and got out there.

Edited to add some views from my runs    

Wrapping my mind back around it

I am finally back on my full running schedule, without pain, which is awesome. I’m trying to ramp the miles back up slowly, and am taking care to really stretch completely afterwards, as well as foam rolling pre-run.  I am so happy to be out there again, especially without any knee, hip, IT, or Achilles pain.

The thing I didn’t count on was the mental drain. I have yet to go over five miles, and that was a struggle mentally the last 1.5.  I was bored. I was mentally tired. I have plans to go for six tomorrow morning, and already my mind is going, “uhhhhhhh……”  This part of running distance sucks – getting your mind to go along with it while you’re in it. It truly is a mental challenge.

I think it’s time to completely revamp my running playlist. It’s old. I’ve added and subtracted some over the last few years, but I believe I need to ditch it and, with a few exceptions, start all over again. Maybe that will help with the mental drag?

I used to become more mentally focused as I ran, writing blog posts in my head. Now, my mind scatters, and I can’t grasp on to even a wisp of a thought.  The mind is a muscle, apparently, and it’ll have to get back up to speed just like the body.  It’s going to take some work.

Music suggestions welcomed, as are any training tips to get the mind to stick it out for long distances.