Sunday, August 26, 2012

Meaningful Miles 5k and Hills

Saturday was a very special day for Back on My Feet Atlanta.  We hosted our very first 5k with one mile honoring each of our partner facilities/teams—a Trinity Mile, a Gateway Mile and a Salvation Army Mile.
I couldnt help to get a little emotional as we circled up.  The whole atmosphere and energy at the race was so amazing!! The weather was perfect as well.  I really didnt have any set goals for this 5k.  I have been trying to stop putting so much pressure on my times, but rather just enjoying the run.  I understand now, that this journey is going to take time, that I will not run my fastest half or marathon the very first time and by accepting that, it has relieved alot of pressure.  I had done a practice run with the group a couple of weeks ago, we did it twice so going into the race I was already familiar with what I was going to face: HILLS!! Oh the lovely Atlanta hills that I WILL learn to LOVE!! There was one hill right at the beginning.  It was tough, I tried not to go to fast up but stayed relaxed, didn't wanna drain my energy on that one hill, I started getting into a comfortable pace and relaxed, looked around, took it all in.  There I asked God to run with me, I didn't want to start feeling pressure, or let my negative thoughts interfere with this race.  Instead I wanted to be joyful, I wanted to run my own race, I wanted to be thankful for this amazing opportunity I had been given to run with this amazing group of people.  Then the other hill, which I was dreading, this time I never looked up directly at the hill, I had a hat on and looked at my feet and the road ahead, I just kept on going, even though I knew the hill was there, I refused to focus on it, instead I took one step at a time, and felt really strong, God immediately used this hill to teach me about faith, about trusting in Him, about my life and how many hills I just had to run up even though I had no idea how hard or long these hills of life would be and how faithful He was in these times in my life.
It's amazing how God can lovingly take the time to show me in running something more about Him. He shows himself in a place where I  hold so much passion in and reveals Himself in a way that my mind and heart can understand.  There, I received his peace. I told every police directing traffic good morning, I looked up at the sky, I listened to others conversations, I saw a really nice running skirt another runner was wearing. Mentally, I felt strong, I told myself that I have been working hard, I've done my speed workouts, I've been consistent.  This would be a good race.  I even had a little bit of "umph" at the end (even though I felt my abs hurting, I need to work on them more.)  When I got to the end and saw the time, I was so happy.  I thanked God, I smiled and just took in the whole experience.  I know it was just a 5k race, but to me it was so much more.  I ran my personal best, even with all those hills, 26:44 (about 20 seconds away from the only recorded 5k time I have from high school.)  I also placed 2nd in my age division and got a bouquet of lollipops I'm sure my girls will love. :)
Post race sweat and glory with Tiffany
After receiving my 2nd place bouquet



















In my last post I wrote about how I had been feeling discouraged and fearful about the marathon and injury.  I had heard that this marathon that I wanna run in March next year is very challenging.  But God showed me, in only a way that He can that the hills in life that I have faced have given me strength, and that the hills in races would be a revelation of the strength I have within.  I am still in awe of His love and promises toward me.  Now, there is nothing in me that fears the marathon, in fact, I am starting to discover a driven women who accepts challenges with confidence. As far as injury goes, I found out that after counting my miles since March that I had already reached about 360 miles in my trusty Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12's, It will already be 6 months in a week since I have had them, so all I need to do is get a new pair of running shoes!! I have a pair of Brooks Green Silence racing flats, I am using for now, but I will definitely need to get a new pair of shoes soon as my long runs are going to start getting longer.  So I am so thankful that I figured that out!! :)

After I finished the race and cooled down, I saw a mother and father with a double jogging stroller, I had  that uncomfortable feeling knowing that there were twins in the stroller, my first reaction was to look away, I always get emotional when I see twins, but this time, I looked and smiled at them, I know this may seem like a very small moment in my day, but it was truly a moment of healing for me. God placed them in my path right after the race so that I could accept the strength I felt while running, because everything in me wanted to shut down, but I didn't, I just smiled and  I knew that my God was taking care of my twins and that one day I would see and hold them. I am so thankful that God helped me through the pain and what seemed to be a HUGE mountain of emotions when I lost them and now I am stronger and at peace. What are some hills/mountains in life that you have been through or are going through, do you see your strength in them?  I encourage you to take the time to let God reveal to you how strong you really are and how faithful He really is. 



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Overcoming Fear, Replacing it with FAITH

Wow!! This past week has been very FULL!! I am proud to say that I am HALF WAY done with the Half marathon training!!  I am signed up and getting ready for the final weeks of training.  I will be doing my long runs with Back on my Feet Atlanta starting Sept. 1.  We will be practicing on the course, which I am excited about.  I have realized this past weekend that running on the streets of Atlanta is more difficult than running at Silver Comet Trail (this is where I had done most of my long runs before and it is very flat!!)  I ran 7.5 miles on Saturday in Atlanta and realized there was no way I would be prepared had I continued to run on the flat trail.  I also realized that running hills needs to be done. Even though I am very far away from it, I am starting to worry about the Marathon in March.  I had asked a couple of people about it and have been told that this marathon is not the easiest one to do, that it is hilly and hard. I can write this down and feel at ease, but a couple of days ago, it would have been a different story!! My faith had been shaken, I started to doubt myself, I started to let fear enter... fear of injury, fear of over/under training, fear of not being able to finish the race strong... the thoughts were endless!!! To add to that, after my run this weekend, my left knee started to hurt, so that automatically put me into worry mode!!  Thank God for my husband who calmed me down and encouraged me.  I decided to take Sunday, Monday and today off.  I think it was a good decision, I just needed time to refocus, rest, and receive encouragement from friends, family and God. Today, aside from my kidneys hurting, I feel better, my knee feels better, my body feels rested and my mind feels stronger.  On Sunday before church, I read a verse that really touched my heart and gave me peace, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

  
It's so easy to loose faith in something that you have never experienced, to lose a dream because of doubt. Walking (or running) out of your comfort zone will not be easy and I am learning that now, there will be fear of the unknown, but I must keep pressing on.  I must fight this fear and practice faith!! God promises are real and I must remember all that He has done in my life.  I don't ever doubt God because His presence in my life is very evident, its believing in my ability and believing that I am worthy enough to accomplish a goal.  I have time and time again felt like a failure growing up, so even now as an adult, the feeling of failure comes and goes.  My husband has been very encouraging in this time and I have some friends that have been very encouraging to me, thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, I am very thankful to have such great friends!!   So starting tomorrow, I am ready to attack this training plan!! This week is an easy week, I am running a 5k for Back on my Feet Atlanta on Saturday:  http://atlanta.backonmyfeet.org/bomf-meaningful-miles-5k.html  
I am really excited about this race!!

What are your dreams? What are some passions that never seem to fade, waking you in the middle of the night?  Whatever they may be, they are there for a reason!! Go after them!! Don't lose the passion!!

Here is a recap of week 5:
Day 1: Interval Workout 7X400 (2 min. rest in between) Splits-1:35.07, 1:51.60, 1:47.38, 1:48.30, 1:53.59, 1:59.36, 1:47.52
Day 2: 4 mile run- 44:32
Day 3: 3 mile run- 30:35
Day 4: 7.5 mile run- 1:27
Day 5: took off (Knee pain)





Friday, August 10, 2012

One Mighty Step at a Time...

It has been 5 months since I have consistently started running.  I was talking to a very close friend of mine and he said, "It must have been easy for you, since you ran in high school."  My response was, "Actually my friend, it made it HARDER!"! See, you have to understand, in high school, I was super skinny and ran really well. After having 2 babies in a row, overeating because of depression and feeling hopeless, when I dressed up to go on a run, I compared myself to that young runner I used to be, it would leave me feeling defeated.  It mostly made me wanna give up because I didn't see myself ever getting to that place physically again.  I had always had the desire to start running again after I had Hope but I had NO IDEA where to start.  I goggled info, read running discussion boards, looked at different plans, bought books, magazines, etc.  I even convinced my  sweet husband to buy me a Garmin watch for Mother's Day last year so I was able to track and see what I was doing.  I love my watch, and I really feel like it has been very motivating to have something to look back at and see how far I have come.  When I had just gotten it, recording my runs was hard and made me feel discouraged because of the comparison.  I decided I would share my Garmin history so here it is:

May 11, 2011- 1.27 miles in 21:43 (pace 17:10/mi.)
May 19, 2011- 1.88 miles in 25:47 (pace 13:42/mi)
May 24, 2011- .61 miles in 7:55  (pace 12:59)
May 25, 2011- 2.07 miles in 28:17 (pace 13:41)
July 24, 2011 1.61 miles 32:44 (pace 20:23)

That's it....then there is nothing on my Garmin up until March 5 2012.

I tried to run, I tried really hard but I kept on comparing myself to the runner I was before, because of that I gave up, I had decided that there really was no way that I could be fast again, that I could never amount to the runner I once was, so I put up my Garmin nicely in its box and into my dresser.

-So my number one piece of advice to any of you who may want to start running is:  
DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF to ANYONE (Even if it is a memory of yourself!!)
 Remember that this will be your individual journey with the Lord, invite Him into every run you start, He will reveal Himself. Believe it!!

-Start of slow and know that it will take time but if you continue to do it, there WILL BE improvement!!
Even if it is just a small jog/walk down your street, dominate that street and then when you feel stronger make the course longer and dominate that one!! :)

In May of 2011, I had attempted to start running again, I was excited, I was positive but my eyes were set on where I had used to be instead of where God wanted me to be in the present. Starting over again is a very humbling experience, it's hard emotionally, but when we fix our eyes on the Lord, He will give us enough strength to get each run done.  I can't completely tell you why I gave up, maybe pride, maybe depression, my cigarette habit...I do know that God wanted me to let that memory fade, He wanted to start something NEW in me.

-You have to be WILLING BODY, MIND, SPIRIT and SOUL!!! You have to decide and make a choice in your mind and heart that you are ready to take on this journey. In your heart of hearts you have to agree with all your being that YOU WILL PUT IN THE WORK!!  No one can make you do the runs, that's when you see what you are made of!!

As I look back, when I gave up last year after a couple of runs, the dream did not disapear!!! Just because I had given up, did not mean that God had given up on me and because He placed that desire in my heart, it never went away! Instead, it got stronger and more evident in my mind.  I still continued to read books on running, watch documentaries, look up races on You tube, etc...  I had no idea at the time that the Lord was getting my heart and mind ready.  ISN'T HE AWESOME!!! At that time in my life, I literally did nothing but sit on my couch, of course, I took care of my girls, but I really did feel "stuck" physically.  Every now and then I would open up my dresser and look at my garmin, which brought feelings that made me sick to my stomach. 

-After making the decision, it is important that you tell people, even if it makes it scary, it also makes you accountable.  Set a goal and have reason.   Run for something that is dear to you!!!

When God met me on my treadmill, I had to give Him my cigarette smoking.  I run for my girls, so that they can see mommy strong, healthy and happy!! But I also run for my babies in heaven.  For me, there is just something about running that makes me feel closer to heaven.  I can express feelings I have no other way of expressing through running and God always meets me there.  I really feel like running is my form of worship to the Lord.

- Don't second guess yourself!!!  You can do!!

I didn't write this in my first blog but I thought I would share.  After I had that experience with the Lord on my treadmill (which was in February) It took me about a little less than a month to really stop smoking and start running.  It was almost like I was second guessing my ability and His promise towards me.  One day, I stopped by the gas station and went up to the cashier, I asked for a pack of cigarettes and to my surprise, in a gentle, quiet, calm voice, the cashier asked, "Why do you need these?"  Instantly I felt my face turn red, I was shocked, embarrassed and I promised the cashier it was my last pack. He had no words for me, just a look, not a judging look, but more of a concerned look and I walked away. When I went into my car, I couldn't believe what had just happened. I cried my eyes out, I asked God to forgive me, I immediately felt His love for me, no anger, just love. Thank you Lord for your patience towards me.  I then knew that it was time, that I HAD to do this, I knew that He had put this desire in my heart and I had to fulfill it. Glory to God!



-Be prepared for an uncomfortable journey and have a support group!!  The first day I ran I had decided my goal would be to be able to run 3 miles without stopping.  That is all I focused on.  I think the route I started with was about 2 and a half miles.  The run was terrible!! My lungs hurt, I had to stop and walk within the first mile and I could barely breathe, BUT the feeling of running and getting it done was better than any cigarette I had ever smoked!! I expressed my dreams with my husband and a few friends so that when it does and did get tough I will have others to lean on.


-Set a Goal and Share it-  This was the hard one for me  I decided I would try to run a 5k in the end of April.  I looked online and found the closest 5k race to my house (that way I could practice running the course)  Signing up for a race will definitely keep you accountable.   Not to mention the feeling of accomplishing the goal will just make you feel stronger!! I can't tell you how awesome it was to finish that race.

I placed first in my age division!! My first 5k race since high school!!
















- Track your improvements-  Like I had mentioned before, having the ability through my Garmin has been great.  I am able to look at where I am at and also see my improvment.  There are many apps that do the exact same thing and websites as well.  A website that have helped me stay on track in the beginning was www.sparkpeople.com/ (this website helps track your food intake, exercise, etc and its free!! VERY HELPFUL!! Some running apps: www.runkeeper.com, www.mapmyrun.com,  There are also plans that you can download onto your phone that you can use while running such as: couch to 5k run/walk program, etc. (If you would like more info or need help selecting a plan, I am MORE THAN WILLING to HELP!!)

Looking back and reflecting is something I try to do every month.  I don't ever want to forget the journey, the steps it took, the feelings, the breakthrough and most importantly, the Faithful, loving God who sees in me something bigger than I could ever imagine.  Time and time again, He shows His faithfulness to me. The more I open up my heart to Him and reject the lies, the more joy I receive. He replaces my FEAR with FAITH.


All you need to do is take a tiny step toward your goal, whatever it may be, the fact is that even if your moving slow, you are still moving foward, those small steps will turn into bigger stronger steps, they will eventually turn into a beautiful testimony that you can share with others.  
Start today, stop dreaming and start doing, discover the strength the Lord has placed in YOU!! 





Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Into Week 4 Half Marathon Training

I finished week 3!!! Which was really a hard week for me, I failed to wake up in the morning most of the week.  So I made a goal to do things differently this week.
1.  Get the girls on a better schedule (Thanks to a very sweet friend who gave me great advice after reading my last blog, you know who you are!)
2.  Get to bed at a decent time!! (even though the Olympics have caused me to stay up!!! But hey it only happens once every 4 years.)
3.  This is the big one... silly I never thought of it before:  PUT MY ALARM AWAY FROM MY BED!!!!!
I giggle a little when I write this because, if someone where to record me jumping off of my bed and trying to remember how to turn it off every morning, it would be hilarious!!!!



So far this has been working great!! I am starting to get excited cause the long runs are getting longer!! I LOVE long runs and am really looking foward to them, especially since I get to do them with  Back on My Feet.  When I started running again, a friend of my husband's, Barry,(who is pretty awesome)  introduced me to this group and I have been a part of it since then.  I absolutely love what they stand for and believe in their mission statement.  If you have never heard about them check out their website: http://atlanta.backonmyfeet.org/atlanta-landing.html 
Back on My Feet Atlanta on National Running Day
Anyways, I run with the group on Wednesdays and Saturdays and will be running my very first half marathon on their team which makes it even more special for me.  I have been inspired, pushed and encouraged by the group. Being able to run alongside others who have rediscovered their strength and potential though running has been a wonderful experience. 

So here is a recap of what I did for the 3rd week:  This was an easy week as I only had 4 workouts to do (this was the week I was to do a 5k) I didnt end up actually racing one and decided to do a long run instead.
Day 1: Interval Workout 6X400
Day 2 3 mile run
Day 3 3.5 mile
Day 4: 6 mile run with BOMF

I really feel like I have gotten over a mountain in my mind.  My goals are a lot more clearer and I feel stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I am so thankful for the support that I have received from friends and family.  It makes the early morning runs easier to know that there are people out there who believe that I will accomplish the goal that God has placed in my heart. On Friday, I decided to reconnect with a dear friend of mine and watch an 80's cover band and just enjoy a night out. I went there knowing that it would be a place where there were gonna be people smoking.  I had a great time, the cover band was awesome, the company was great, and I didn't smoke!! I didn't even have a desire to smoke!!! YES!!! :)  Thank you Lord!! Now to get my precious girls to bed.
Hope, Gracie and Kona


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Honestly...


I am in my 3rd week of half marathon training, I am also in the process of training my daughter Hope to go potty like a big girl. She will be 2 in the end of September and I am really proud of her progress!! I had been training her by leaving her diaper off and having the potty in our living room (thank God for hardwood floors.) She has been doing great for the past 2 weeks.  Today I have introduced "big girl" panties to her and she is thrilled!! She doesn't quite get the concept of pulling them down, but she does take them completely off and then I help her put them back on after she goes potty. Of course my husband and I made it a huge celebration this morning when she got it right the first time. :) That truely made my day, to just take a step back and enjoy small accomplishments.



As far as my training is going, well, this week has been harder than the last 2!! Honestly, I have had the hardest time waking up in the morning.  I know that if I want to stay consistent especially when I enter my marathon training I am going to have to BE WILLING to wake up in the morning.  Honestly, bedtime for my daughters is always a struggle and I fail most nights to stay firm and keep a schedule.  Honestly, I can't truly fall asleep until my hubby gets home from work (which is a little after 1 am.) Honestly, most nights there is a Hope in the middle of us who LOVES to sleep sideways.  HONESTLY bedtime makes me feel like a failure, because I can't get it right!! I'm so tired I tend to get frustrated and raise my voice.  What child would wanna go to sleep to that? When I do finally get to bed, I am flooded with thoughts of life, I try to plan out how my run will go, I'll put out my clothes, set my alarm and try my hardest to get to bed, the past couple of days I have failed to wake up.  On my first day of training for this week (Tuesday) I turned off my alarm and slept, missing out on that workout.  On Wednesday, my phone charger stopped working which caused my phone to die in the middle of the night.  I was thankful that my husband was willing to wake up with the girls while I got in a quick interval workout on a track nearby, but it was HOT!! Last night, I think Gracie finally fell asleep at 11:00. I then had to clean the kitchen, throw the trash, fold clothes and make sure my phone was charging (with my husband's charger.) When all that was done, I tried my hardest to fall asleep.  And then Hope comes in and is ready to take her spot on the bed!! My husband arrived home and we ended up talking for a while (which I really enjoy after being by myself for most of the day.)  I ended up taking my phone and trying to sleep on the couch, since I didn't wanna wake up my daughter Hope.  So I am gonna say it was about 2:30 when I laid down, I had intended to wake up at 5:30 so that I could make it to a mommy running group nearby (which I am really excited about.) Before I knew it, I woke up, except the sun was out, I looked at my time and it was 7:15!!!! My alarm must have went off, but I turned it off. :( 
SILLY FACE
I shared my frustration with my husband and again, he came to my rescue and agreed to wake up a bit earlier so that I could get in 3 miles in our neighborhood.  As I began running, I felt a lot of release, some of it was worry, frustration, stress.  Honestly, I ran the first mile of my run ANGRY.  I needed to, it is my way of release.  I cried a little and like always, God met me, He always does when I run.  I know that these small little problems/ setbacks, He is allowing to make me stronger.  To make me more aware of life.  To be thankful for the little things in life.  To allow my husband to help me.  To mold me into the mother, wife and daughter of the Most High that I am created to be.  He gave me a mantra today." A thankful heart finishes the race" and "press on" I said it over and over again in my last mile.  It spoke wonders to me. 
BIG SMILE
So this is just me being real.  I had decided that when I started this blog it was going to come with challenges and I was going to share them because sometimes, we must go through struggles, setbacks and pain to get to where we wanna be.  It will make us stronger, it will also allow us to be thankful when we reach our goals.  To look back and remember how far we have come.
After my run, I waked into my house and came into the noises of loud girly laughs and daddy growls and a very "jumpy" dog (She is a jack-chi.)  I instantly felt peace, a calm that only God can give and I know that today is gonna be a good day. It may not be perfect, I will have my struggles, bedtime is gonna be tough again. I will try harder, I will practice the grace and mercy that God gives me for my daughters.  I will try a little harder to get to bed earlier.  I will be thankful that I am alive and that I am surrounded by people who love me. Honestly, I know that I am stronger than these struggles and setbacks, I will not give up.