Simon Cowell In My Head

There have been so many times when toeing the line to any race – or a run for that matter – has felt like placing myself in front of the American Idol stage with Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson before me. Sometimes I feel pretty confident, and the voices of Randy Jackson “Yo Dawg, just keep doing your thang” and Paula Abdul “When you wish upon a star, you just might become one” take center stage of my brain. But more often than not, when I am not confident at all, or a run is turning out to be more challenging than expected, Simon Cowell’s voice starts creeping into my head.

  • “You are terrible. Quit while you are ahead.”
  • “You are an awful runner. Don’t waste your time running anymore.”
  • “Your running will definitely take you places. I can see you running to a dead end.”
  • “You’re a complete and utter running mess.”

So why are such comments so much more shocking and damaging to our psyche and harder to shake off than kind comments? Because muck like a hot flame can inflict pain and scar upon our flesh, so can words inflict pain and scar in our hurts and minds. Hurtful words can be a traumatic experience to our reasoning and decision-making process; impacting the way we see ourselves, the way we interact with others, and the way we respond to the events occurring in our lives.  Think of how important it was when you were in school and received feedback from your teacher after submitting a writing paper? Or the choice of words your supervisor uses when interacting with you or your colleagues. While I am a firm believer that honesty is always the best policy, and that the truth always sets you free, there is a difference between being honest and being cruel. Yes, I completely agree there were certain individuals on the stage whose voices were unpleasant and most likely would never make it in Hollywood. Nonetheless saying something like “As an executive producer, you are not the voice I am looking for my company” seems by far more professional, just as honest, and way more tactful than saying, “You are a waste of my time.” The latter’s aim is to be cruel and hurtful with the guise of being honest.

Ha! Ha! Grumpy Cat never takes things too seriously.

This weekend, I will be toeing the starting line of my first half-marathon of the year 2016. There will be no doubt in my mind Simon Cowell will interject his opinions during my run and be as cruel and as hurtful as possible.  The challenge for me will not be to ignore the voice, but to re-phrase each hurtful statement into a positive truth.

  • “You are terrible. Quit while you are ahead.”
    • If I QUIT, I will FEEL terrible. Don’t quit.”
  • “You are an awful runner. Don’t waste your time running anymore.”
    • Everyone experiences an awful run, but one cloudy day does not mean the sun ceases to exist. Therefore, one run does not make you an awful runner.
  • “Your running will definitely take you places. I can see you running to a dead end.”
    • But even running to a dead end is further than where you started.
  • “You’re a complete and utter running mess.”
    • If I don’t look like a complete and utter mess, then I am not running. I am lounging. Embrace the utter running mess.

The truth of the matter is, Simon Cowell is here to stay and I cannot change him. Perhaps there is veracity in some of the things he says. Maybe I will never be the fastest runner. Maybe I will never be the first person to cross the finish line. Maybe I will never qualify for Boston. There is one thing I am certain I can do though. I can tame the blunt and hurtful statements and rephrase them in order to motivate myself to be faster, to cross the finish line even if I am last, and to see how close I can come to qualifying for Boston.

Simon Cowell, i’ll take you on with some serious mind skills.

How do you feel when you toe the line? Do statements like Simon Cowell’s ever pop into your head? How do you tackle those thoughts.

 

 

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REMAIN POSITIVE

After hours of searching the internet for a half-marathon race, I think I finally found one. I’ve thrown in the towel trying to find the perfect race. When you live 4.5 hours from the closest major city in your state, you’ve got to just accept what you can get.

Living in a small town sometimes makes me feel like I’m castaway off on a remote island. I can only get out though if I remain positive.

The race is actually next weekend, which is not a shocker at all given last minute sign-ups are my preferred registration methods.  Because the race is one four race in a race series, the price is the same regardless of whether you sign up the first day, or the last day, so the $75 fee ($81 with with darn registration fees), while steep in my opinion, is the fee every person registered paid. What will be an out-of-pocket expense though will be gasoline (so happy the price per gallon is low right now), lodging, and the food associated with the trek from  Eastern Oregon to Portland, Oregon.

My expectations for the race are not very ambitious. This past week, I chose to take a break after pain on my left foot emerged during a seven mile run on Wednesday evening. Since I do not want a repeat of what happened last Spring, I took notice of the red flags of pain and made the decision to give my feet some rest. At this point, a HEALTHY year is way more important for me than a PR year. I would much prefer to cross the finish line slow but healthy than sit on the sidelines with an injury. Thus, my expectations will be to finish as strong as I can but as healthy as I can. This race will give me a baseline of my training performance since running the Marine Corps Marathon last October.

 

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.  ~ Denis Waitley

 The MOST IMPORTANT goal I have for this race is to remain POSITIVE. Perhaps that is the most valuable lesson I have learned throughout the past years of racing. A negative attitude is pretty much the demise of any obstacle you want to tackle. If the weather is crummy, I want to remain positive. If my effort seems hard, I want to remain positive. If I feel like I weigh 900 pounds and my legs feel like clay, I want to remain positive. If the course is challenging even though it was described as flat, I want to remain positive. If there aren’t enough water stations or spectators on the course, I want to remain positive. If the course is packed and I am gridlocked with runners who are taking a leisure stroll in the park, I want to remain positive. If I am being passed by a man on a wheelchair with an oxygen mask on his face, I want to remain POSITIVE. Well, seems like I have covered all of the scenarios that ruffle my feathers. If any new scenarios pop-up, I shall be ready.

 

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow. ~ Helen Keller

 

Stubborn or Perseverant

A feeling of discomfort made its presence on my left foot the last couple of days. The left foot is the foot I injured last spring after frantically pursuing a marathon goal of 4:20. While I did achieve my goal, I spent six weeks on the sidelines healing from a ruptured plantar fascia. So, two days ago, when the dull and not-so-intense pain made its presence and did not make a quick exit, I made a decision to take a running break for a week.

 

My seven mile run this past Wednesday after I decided it was best to take a running break.

 
You Live you Learn

The disappointment of not being able to run was so grand, I vowed not to ever be in that position again. The red signs had been there all along, and I chose to ignore them. When I look back on my training notes, I wrote numerous side notes of, “discomfort on my left foot” for almost four weeks straight. Then, there was the fact I kept changing running shoes (Hoka, New Balance, Mizuno, Brooks) thinking the problem was due to exterior mechanics. Had I actually listened to my body, and taken the time to give myself a few days of rest, I would have perhaps given my foot an opportunity to heal. Instead of being perseverant, I was being stubborn.  Because hindsight is 20/20, I am now making sure to heed the red flags of physical pain.

 

I found my running shoes! Nike Vomero 15. Took them on a 20-mile run for first test-run and knew they were the one.

 
Tame the Fictitious Thoughts

If it hurts and your life does not depend on it, stop running. Too many times, I try to push myself mentally for fear of being weak should I make the decision to stop. I place myself in these imaginary “life-or-death” scenarios and must emerge as a victorious and courageous heroine who overcomes the odds stacked against her. Silly, I know, but it’s how my mind works sometimes. I’ve come to understand that I don’t need to be a martyr in every single one of my runs. It is completely natural for me to immerse myself in a role in which all of the problems of the world rest upon my shoulders. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by what is happening around me, that not being able to solve or make a dent in the injustices that occur around the globe take a serious toll.

 

Greensboro Lunch Counter on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. At a time when segregation was still legal in the United States, four African American students sat at a “whites only” lunch counter and remained in their seats when they were refused service. I am always inspired by these courageous acts of heroism.

 
My runs are not just for the challenge of getting stronger and faster, but to atone for my shortfalls and relieve myself from the amount of pressure I place upon myself. When I refused to pay attention to the red flags of pain last year, I likened the physical pain parallel to others around the globe who struggle with the difficulties of their day-to-day life. While I don’t ever want to take for granted the blessings I have, nor do I want to be insensitive about the plight of others, I need to stop the fictitious thoughts that stopping during a run because I am hurting makes me weak. It makes me a human being, made out of flesh and bones. I need to understand that the measurement of courage and strength is not dependent upon the threshold of pain. Courage is measured by doing what is right regardless of the repercussions of said action. In my scenario, it would have been more courageous to stop training and accept that running a marathon at the time was not the right thing to do. I was being stubborn.

 

My scheduled 8 mile run was replaced with a quick 2 mile speedwalk with my stubborn yet sweet dog.

 
Short-Term Sacrifices for Long-Term Success

Last year, my mantra was, “Stick to the Plan.” Because I had always tackled every race with a care-free attitude (nothing wrong with that approach, I just wanted different results) I felt like I needed to stick to the plan in order to see the results. This year, my mantra is “Short-Term Sacrifice for Long-Term Success.” There have been many a times in races where I have seen senior citizens out on the course enjoying the gift of running. Their presence brings a smile to my face, and it makes me pine for the opportunity to race during the latter stages of my life. In fact, I would love for my final days of my life to be out on a running course, being pushed by my children and grand children should I be unable to use my own body to propel myself across the finish line. Thus, it is my intention to see running pauses as short-term sacrifices as mean for long-term success. While I definitely want to pursue goals to test my strength and endurance, ultimately, running longevity is  my desired goal. This is what being perseverant is all about. It is about being able to discern between the voices of rationality and fiction. About recognizing when to push past the pain and when to listen to the pain. It is about winning the war despite losing a battle.

 

Overlooking the Washington Memorial from the World War II Memorial. My trip to Washington D.C. renewed my belief in the determination and resiliency of the American People. I feel so privileged to be able to call the United States of America my home.

 
Do you recognize when you are being stubborn or perseverant? What circumstances have made you decide to stop running?

 

 

 

Looking for a Reason

Wanted: Ideal Half-Marathon

Half-marathon race sometime before April and a little after February. Temperatures must be pleasant, with little to no wind at all, preferably in the high fifties to low 60’s. Sunshine would make it ideal, but will settle for partly cloudy. If at all possible, please refrain from raining. High humidity need not be present, but will tolerate a minuscule amount. Course must be flat, but small rolling hills are acceptable. Plenty of portable bathrooms at the start line and if at all possible, throughout the course. Water throughout the course is also a must. Participants must be capped at 300 or less so that there isn’t elbow bumping or back-tracking. Medals, water, fruits, and carbs at the end of the meal are a plus. Tech shirts are okay, but not necessary. Finally, willing to spend no more than $75 on registration fees.

My ad makes me sound like such a fair-weather runner. Speaking of fair-weather though, I have become so much more assertive about facing the freezing temperatures and getting my tropical butt outside the door. While I would like to consider myself an individual who is capable of facing her fears, running in freezing temperatures just scares the heck out of me. I don’t know if it’s the physical discomfort, the fact it is ALWAYS windy where I live (making the discomfort even higher), or the amount of time it takes to layer and head out the door. Whatever the reason, the plunging temperatures have kept me indoors logging countless miles on the mill – that is, until this week. Decided not to overthink my last two runs, layered up, and ejected myself out the door. Strangely enough, despite my fears, both of my runs were absolutely spectacular! There is hope for me yet! Yeah, baby.

 

Mediocre ninja-runner

 
Resolutions are not my thing, not only because I am more unpredictable than the seven day forecast, but also because I tend to have ongoing [ever-changing] goals throughout the year given my fickle nature. Even though I have become rather proficient in my running because of my highly useful training journal, I still like to leave my personal life planner EMPTY. Life is already complex enough in my head to have every single one of my weekends completely filled. Nonetheless, despite me saying I don’t do resolutions, I did make two running goals. They are neither exciting nor revolutionary, but they are enough of a challenge for me that they are worth striving for.

  

Goals for 2016

 Unlike last year, where I questioned the possibility of breaking a 4:20 marathon, this year, I actually BELIEVE my goals are attainable. While I will never be as confident as USAIN BOLT about my running skills, I know with hard work and a solid training plan, I can run or possibly break a 4:00 hour marathon. The half-marathon might be a little bit more challenging, but I am willing to invest time into it and find out just how so.

 

This Book! Made me cry. It broke my Spirit but also filled me with courage and hope.

 
The real challenge for me came on Monday, when going back to work after two weeks off was mentally tough. I spent the entire day Sunday WORRYING and playing scenarios of how Monday could go wrong and I was overwhelmed with anxiety. And then I remembered reading The Nightingale, and realized I just needed a little perspective to remind me my life IS good. The story reminded me that going back to work was going to be okay. That I could do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Monday came, I exhaled, I survived, and I made it a memorable day by doing 100 hundred walking lunges with weights right after the work day was done. It’s been three days, and my glutes, hamstrings, and quads are still sore. This is then the perfect opportunity for me to get my butt off the couch and stretch.

 

This picture of my dog Jake makes me smile like a Cheshire cat.

 
How is your New Year? Are you a resolutions person? Have you read a great book that gave you the perspective you needed to get out of a funky mood?

 

That’s a Wrap!

One-thousand three-hundred and fifty-three miles: the amount of miles I ran in 2015! These have been the most miles I have run in a given year, and I am hoping to log many more for 2016. If I remain injury-free, I should be able to reach 1,500 miles for 2016. However, because I am more interested in remaining physically healthy, I prefer not to make miles a running goal. Thus, if I run less in 2015, but manage to remain injury-free, I shall be content. Here is a look back of some of my favorite moments of 2015:

January – Made the decision to start “believing” in myself and committed myself to train hard and step outside my comfort zone in order to perform my very best in the field of running.

February – Half-Marathon PR in the Run 4 Luv Half-Marathon on Valentine’s Day (1:50:25). I had no idea I would PR, so when I crossed the finish line seven minutes faster than my previous PR, I was completely shocked.

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March – Celebrated my 38th birthday and ran my first 20 miler since summer of 2011! It was a fantastic run, and gave me a confidence boost that I would be able to break 4:20 goal for Eugene Marathon. I also ran 190 for the month of March, the MOST miles I have ever logged in a single month.

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April – Ruptured my plantar fascia and experienced disappointment and heart ache like I had never experienced before. Because I could barely walk, I had to drop out of Eugene Marathon and dig deep to not fall into a trench of self-pity.

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May  – Celebrated Mother’s Day with my family and ran 1.2 miles for the first time in five weeks.

June – Ran my first Ragnar Relay with the Oiselle Team in Utah. This was my first solo getaway since 2012! It was refreshing to get away for the first time and enjoy a running escapade with 11 completely different strangers.

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July – Officially started training for the Marine Corps Marathon and ran my second Ragnar Relay. This time though, I ran alongside my husband in the state of Washington.

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August – Went back to work after staying home with my youngest daughter for two years and ran my third (and final) Relay (Inaugural Elkhorn Relay). I also ran my second half-marathon (Catherine Creek Classic) of the year with my friend Kim, who visited me from Portland.

September – Liberated myself from the chains of resentment, pain, and bitterness that I had been carrying with me and forgave my mother. Out of all the things that happened in 2015, this was the MOST LIFE CHANGING for me. It allowed me to see my mother as completely different person. Furthermore, forgiving my mother gave me grace as a mother myself. I know I will never be perfect, but I don’t have to beat myself up when I am not the ideal mother I strive to be.

October – Hello 26.2! Toed the starting line and Crossed the finish line of Marine Corps Marathon in 4:13! It was a thirty minute PR and I got to run honor my running journey by running with MARINES. I also got to explore the magnificent history of Washington D.C. with the family.

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November – Spent Thanksgiving with my youngest sister, Angela, who visited me from Florida. This was the first time I spent Thanksgiving with one of my family members since 2005! She endured the coldest Thanksgiving she has ever celebrated.

December – Gratitude and more gratitude. The year was good to me. Despite my injury, and not being able to complete Eugene Marathon, I had an abundance of experiences to be thankful for.