Sunday, January 26, 2014

Letting it Sink in...

On January 12th, I completed a goal.

A big goal....a goal that was fairly high on my Bucket List.

One that I had been actively working on for over nine months.

One that I had first made when I was a Senior in High School, but had to let go of for a while.  I got the idea when about a month before graduation, a teacher was asking us what we wanted to accomplish in our lives that was not related to work or family.  He listed a bunch of things, but only one item stood out.  Run a Marathon.  This quickly went out the window as a not going to happen item, when five days after Graduation, I had the first of three knee surgeries.  After the third one, I was told due to tight hamstrings, weak quadriceps, and bad form, I needed to stop running.


Twenty years later, things had changed.  My hamstrings while still a battle to stay loose are better; my quadriceps are stronger; and most importantly, a trainer helped me to change my running strike.  I was a toe runner, basically, never having a heel strike.  Not good, as it added strain to my knees.

As documented here, I started with a 5k and permission from my knee surgeon.  I progressed slowly and with no pain.  The twenty year gap was needed, but not for the reasons I thought.

I had a training plan that physically seemed possible and gave me some extra time.  The part I did not expect was the psychological aspect.  It was tougher and harder than the physical part.

This is where that 20 year gap came in handy.  I had toughened up, gotten more dedicated when things went wrong, and been introduced to meditation.  In fact, if you recall, in 2013 I had set a resolution to meditate every day.  There are decisions that when you look back on them seem really really smart, and this was one of them.  I wish I could say that I knew the effects meditation would have on my running, but I had no clue.

I picked the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Florida on January 12, 2014.  I picked it for a couple of reasons--#1.  It is recommended for runners as a good beginner marathon.  #2.  I love Disney and the course went thru the four parks.  #3.  It was a fairly flat course.  I found out that running downhill for an extended period of time bugs my knees.

Training was at times frustrating, exhilarating, tiring, and energizing.  It ran the spectrum of emotions.  I started to struggle once my training runs were past 18 miles.  I had to slow WAY WAY down in order to survive.  That was not easy for me to accept.  Although, my only goal was to finish the marathon, when I first started increasing my miles, I had a plan.  I was aiming for about a 4:30 to 5 hour marathon.  Reality and acceptance told me it was going to take a bit longer.

If you are wondering when I am going to talk about the actual race, I will...
but I have realized something in the time since the race, the time on course, while a big deal is not what a marathon is all about.  It's the training......because the training makes race day possible.  The race day gets the attention because you are there with a bib with a number on it; thousands of others attempting the achieve the same goal; that lovely medal you get at the end; and the amazing people who cheer you on on course, but you do not cross the finish line without the time and energy put forth in the training.

I have a obnoxious trait that shows up about a couple of days before a race that has a new distance, I start questioning my ability to do it.  I stress and drive people around me CRAZY!!!  This should never happen again, as I have now run races at every distance.  I should of meditated more and just believed more, but the focus I had put on this event started to weigh on me.  I just wanted it over, good or bad, finish or not........the pressure, that was only in my head, had gotten to me.

Now for some race details...
There were 20,000 plus marathon runners at the Walt Disney World Marathon.

In addition to the marathoners, there were 2 crazy groups of people... Group #1 were called Goofy's.  They ran the Half Marathon on Saturday and then the Full Marathon on Sunday.  They totaled around 9,000.  Group #2 were called Dopey's.  They were insane...on Thursday, they ran a 5 K, on Friday, a 10 K, on Saturday, the Half, and on Sunday, the Full..  All totaled they would run/walk 49 plus miles in 4 days.  There were 7,000 of them.

As you can tell, there were a lot of people on course.  All 50 states were represented and all continents, except Antarctica.  We started in waves, but had to be at the start line at 5:30 no matter what wave you were in.

With a 5:30 start time, I was up at 3:20!!!  Me up at 3:20.  It was not pleasant.  I caught a shuttle to take me to the start line at 4 am.  There was security to get thru, stretching to do, bathroom breaks, and calming by family!  I ,then, went to the start line, which ended up being almost 2 miles away.

5:30 am the elite wave left.....

About an hour later, the starting gun for my wave finally went off and I started my marathon.
(FYI, the elite runners were at mile 13 when I started)

To prevent me from starting to fast due to adrenaline and the surge of runners, I planned on a run/walk strategy for the first 3 miles.  It went well.  Then, I went to a slow run phase....

I alternated between the two phases until mile 21...

and my left foot fell asleep.  Not good.  When we were not in the Parks, we were on the roads that connected them, which were angled.  Great for draining water, but after a while not good for runners.

I had officially started my marathon.

Why do I say that?  Marathons are exercises in discipline, dedication, in learning about yourself, and the knowledge of what is temporarily uncomfortable or actually dangerous.

My asleep foot fell into that temporary category.  At a water/aid station, I leaned against a table and lifted my foot and shifted in my shoe and the tingling immediately went away.  No damage, just a fun little quirk I had to work thru.

I slowed WAY WAY WAY down, barely running until mile 25, but I KEPT GOING!

And this is the lesson I learned....
The voice in your head that says you can not do it.

I felt better by the time I got to mile 25 and started slowly running again and ended up running across the finish line with tears streaming down my face as I high fived Minnie Mouse and looked for my mom.

I saw her, threw my hands above my head, and yelled, "I DID IT and NEVER AGAIN!"

Happy Crying at the FINISH Line!!

The next step was to get the finisher medal around my neck.  More tears....

I love that medal...

I was exhausted, but not in pain, which was my goal all along in training.  To finish without pain.  We made our way back to the hotel where I took a much needed shower, changed, and made some phone calls.  I rested but never for too long.  We then went over to Downtown Disney for dinner and to celebrate.

It seemed surreal for about a week, what I accomplished...
like it was someone else who did it or that it was just a dream.

Now, I can say I am a Marathon Finisher!

and no, I will not do it again.

One last thing, even though this post is running long, while many aspects of training and running a Marathon are solitary endeavors, the support and love you get from the people around you are invaluable, so THANK YOU!!  A million times THANK YOU!


Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 Resolutions...

It's time...

To set my intentions/goals/resolutions for the year.

It took me a couple of days to figure out the list, mainly because I kept wanting to make it shorter, and the list wanted to stay longer.

So, beware, 2014 is going to be an ambitious year.

#1.  Get cards to people on time.
        One of my sister in laws is amazing at this!!  She is my role model for the year.  The main reason behind this resolution--my brother, who just happens to be married to the really good card mailer, got his card over a month late this year.  A MONTH!!!  I've gotten really good at buying the cards in time, but getting them in the mail so they get to the person before their birthday/event is the area of concern.

#2.  Finish projects in timely and sane manner.

        I am not talking about work projects or things for other people.  I'm talking about craft projects and such that I do on my own.  I will be posting about the reason behind this when I finish a project in a week or so.  It was the reason behind this.

#3.  Work on my personal style.

        Lately, I have been feeling like I am a sweats and a little too casual kind of girl.   I know that I am not a fussy style, but I want to be more pulled together and polished.  There are a couple of stylists around town that I may call to help me pull it together and get an unbiased opinion on what looks good and what does not.  It's an option I'm looking into.  Pinterest actually brought this to my attention, believe it or not... I was going thru my boards and realized the one board that I pin to quite a bit but have done nothing from was my 'My Style' board.

#4.  Figure out my yoga practice.

       My yoga practice the last couple of years has been inconsistent and varied in style.  I feel like it has become more of a creative workout instead of a yoga practice.  I have been researching two yoga studios here in town that I believe are what I am looking for.  The next step, getting to the studios.  I am going to take a break from antigravity, Bikram, and all other types of non traditional yoga and see what happens.  I also want to get my home practice going.  If I am not in class, I do not do my poses. I read, somewhere, not too long ago, that if you do not have an active home practice, you are not really practicing yoga.

        The culminations of this resolution will be in December when I journey back to Haramara and have another week long Yoga retreat.

#5.  Find balance in my workout schedule.

      While I have enjoyed the mental and physical challenge of training for a marathon, it has put a certain rigidity to my workout schedule.  In 2014, I want to find a balance of running, swimming, yoga, and all the other fitness activities that I enjoy.  I will still enter races on occasion to challenge myself, but I want the workouts to be the reward and challenge.

#6.  Cross items off my Bucket List.

      When I created my Bucket List a while ago, I did not want to wait until the end of my life to start crossing items off the list.  I wanted it to be a lifelong adventure.  I have a couple of items that I want to accomplish this year---details will be revealed at a later date here on the blog.  This item will more than likely be on in 2015, 2016 and so on....  I want it to remain in the forefront of my mind.  Accomplish what you want to out of life and do not miss out on opportunities.  Good resolution, don't you think?

#7.  Do a monthly saving challenge to increase my savings.

       I am still formulating how I am going to accomplish this one.  There are multiple money challenges out there.  I am leaning towards one that has you do a different task every month.  As soon as I decide I will do a post and detail it out...

#8.  Be more creative.

        I have a mindset that I want to change....Because I can not draw, I question my creativity.  I want to explore different kinds of creativity and find mine.

#9.  Maintain my progress and move Forward.

       A nice vague goal...  It's really not, when you think about it.  2013 moved me forward by my resolutions, work, plans and just plain life.  Keep looking forward and mend the past.

This is the highest number of resolutions I have every listed, but I tried multiple times to eliminate one or two from this list and it just did not feel right....

The majority of my resolutions this year are more mindset than task oriented goals, though there are a couple of those, and I think that is why I am ok with the higher number.

Once again, I will update my progress through out the year, both good and bad....

Hopeful in the New Year..

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mind the Time...

It's that time of year, when I look back and see how I have done on my 2013 resolutions....

Here is the post that laid it out on the line...

#1.. Meditate every day.
        I did miss some days and ironically they were quiet lazy days, but I do have to say that I call this one good.  In fact, the title of the post, 'Mind the Time', is from the guided meditations that I did where Deepak Chopra led.  When it was time for meditation time on my own, he would say that he would mind the time and let me know when it was time to end the meditation.

       This is one of those resolutions that I chose to start a lifelong habit.  My mind this year has been the quietest and peaceful it has ever been and as I keep meditating I expect it to kept getting better.

#2..Swim a mile and then decrease the time.
      I was in the pool more this year than I have been in the past 3 years combined.  I got my mile time under 30 minutes, then my marathon training took over and I let my swimming become more of a quiet recovery workout.

      The balancing issue of my workouts sparked an idea for a 2014 resolution, so it's a learning curve.

#3..Communicate more.
      What I realized is that I am changing the way I communicate with family, friends and even myself.  The journaling technique that I used for many years no longer works for me, and once I accepted that and stopped beating myself up about missing days in my daily journal and wrote when I wanted and needed to---it became effortless and enjoyable again.

       I wrote more consistently here on my blog and have accepted that around the New Year, I want to write more, so December/January will generally always have more posts than any other time of the year.  What I have let go of is this---the idea that I have to have them done by a certain date.  Do you know when ideas are floating around in my head?  No, not until I hit the publish button to send the ideas into cyberspace.  Let it go, Melissa.  You are doing this blog for fun.

    There was one area that I need to improve on in communication...getting cards and notes out in a timely manner.  Once again, I will be building upon this year's resolution in 2014.  More details to come..

#4..Be Fearless!
     I actually think I did pretty good on this one.  My voice lessons, which I took from January until April, got rid of my fears of singing in a group, and I actually had fun!
    I took classes thru community education by myself in subjects I knew nothing about and met new people.
    I crossed items off my Bucket List and moved my life forward.
    Fear did crop in every once in a while, but I was more apt to plow thru it knowing this was a resolution for the year.  I may have to do this one more often in resolutions...

      Yes, I did.  In fitness, I completed 30 day challenges for planks, squats, wall sits, and push ups.  I ran a half marathon and will be running a full marathon on January 12, 2014.  Of course, there were ups and downs, little weight gains and then losses, but I kept going.
     In relationships both with myself and with others, they grew, got stronger, or if needed, moved on. It is always interesting to look back and see how things changes.  As you are living each day, most of the time, you do not notice all of the little changes, but when you look back you recognize the changes.
    I have also done quite a few items from my Bucket list.  I did my Bucket List to help me realize opportunities when they come into my life to do the items that matter to me, and that is another way of Continuing for me.

It has been interesting since I have been posting my Resolutions on my blog, my success rate has increased.  Is it the fact that I put them out there and therefore, I get more support?  Or is it, I feel more accountable?  Or is it I see them more often?

I have no idea...
I'm just going to accept it.

2014 resolutions are still getting firmed up and plans set, so just know they are coming.

Happy New Year....

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