Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Measuring Up

**Let me start off by saying that I debated even sitting down to write this post, and then once it was written I debated making it public.  Obviously, I decided to make it public - I think mostly for the sake of full disclosure.

It all starts as a kid - we want to have the coolest toys, the trendy clothes, we want to be "cool."  As a child, I wasn't the coolest, I got made fun of, and not everyone liked me.  But, for the most part I was pretty self-assured.  I was confident in who I was, it was okay with me that I wasn't part of the cool crowd, I enjoyed focusing on school and my family.  Despite that confidence, there were traces of the feelings of isolation in middle school and high school.

Enjoying camp with a great friend!
Don't get me wrong - I was still pretty self-assured, I had good grades and was proud of it.  I was on the swim team, and while I wasn't the best it gave me a sense of belonging to a group.  Those early mornings in the weight room and afternoons at the pool were probably what got me through high school without too many issues with depression.  Between swimming, school, family, and work I didn't have time to sit around and "feel sorry" for myself.    There were moments when I would wonder "what if I was thinner?  what if I had more to offer?"  but overall I was happy with my core group of friends and they gave me far more than I deserved.  I don't have photos of all of them to share here, but I hope they know how much their friendship meant to me! 

Representative of my swimming connections, but some of my besties are "missing" from this picture.

College was more of the same, I came into college ready to focus on my studies and I did just that.  I worked through much of my college career and had several amazing opportunities to travel (a month in Ecuador and a semester in Philly). I was lucky to be assigned to a quad full of wonderful girls my freshman year and we became fast friends.  I stayed close with  most of them through college, and even roomed with my freshman roomie for most of my college career.  We did alot of social stuff together, but the biggest blessing was having a group of girls who I could just "exist" with and who loved me unconditionally.  We didn't have to be at a party to have a good time -  just being in each others' company was enough.  They were a constant for me, they were like my sisters and I miss them dearly.  

While my semester in Philadelphia was amazing and I would do it again in a heartbeat, when I came back I wasn't myself.  I had an amazing internship experience while in Philly - it gave me valuable experience in the work force.  I struggled to take the positive feedback though and focused on the few constructive criticisms I received from one of my supervisors. Not to mention, I faced my first ever true personal conflict with one of my housemates.  It shook me to the core, I came back to college and felt like after a semester away I no longer had a place at college.  Outside of my fiance (we got engaged early in college), I felt like no one cared that I was home.

My dear friends did the best they could to help transition me back into "the Alma bubble" but it wasn't easy for me.  Thankfully I made it through my last year of college, thanks mostly in part to this important group of people.  They reminded me that they did care about me and still valued me as a person.  They gave me the confidence to just relax and be myself when I was with them.  It was something I needed after spending nearly every minute at "home" in Philly on edge.  

What's the point of all this?  I am trying to determine when I started to have so much less faith in myself and who I am as a person.  When did the simple "comparing myself to others" become me feeling like I will NEVER measure up?  I believe the lack of confidence developed during my semester in Philadelphia and my confidence just continued to deteriorate from there.  I had a bad work experience after graduating college - I was laid off for unknown reasons (it still bothers me that he didn't have a good reason to let me go- the guy gave me a beaming letter of recommendation even).  I fought my way through a tailspin of depression and found a retail job to pass the time until I got married.  

Since then, my life has been a blur. Got married, moved to Indiana, bought a puppy, had a baby less than a year after we were married, bought a house, had a second baby, hubby changed jobs several times and I have worked a couple of part time type jobs just to do something to keep busy.

Somewhere among all this I found the time to lose 125 pounds and take up running.   I have tried to be the best mother I could be, the fastest runner I could be, the best everything.  Unfortunately, it always ends up with me feeling like I just can't measure up to the people I see around me.  

Someone will always be faster.  Someone will always be thinner.  Someone will always have a better body.  Someone will always be a better mother.  Someone will always have more dedication than me.  Someone will always hate/dislike me.  Someone will always have more friends than I do.

I can't be the only one who has done it - looked longingly at someone else and wondered "Why can't that be ME?"  I know that these are unreasonable thoughts, that I am an individual and I should be proud of where I am now but there is still a part of me that just can't "be happy."  

Anyone have any pointers on how to center your thoughts on what you have accomplished?  How do you stop comparing yourself to others?  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

O'Shaughnessy Matthew 25 10k Race Recap

Today I ran my 3rd 10k - the Dr. Philip O'Shaughnessy Matthew 25 10k.  This race (as well as the 5k, run the same day) benefits the local Matthew 25 clinic that provides health and dental care for those less fortunate in our community.  This race is run in Foster Park along the Rivergreenway.  I was unfamiliar with the course ahead of time, but was quite pleased to find it mostly flat minus a few small hills, most of the "inclines" were at the beginning of the race which was nice.  The course had an out and back section which allowed them to provide 4 water stations.  I actually only took advantage of one of these as I was using a handheld and fighting stomach issues, but it was nice to have so many along the way.  Several people complained that the course was boring, but I didn't mind it all.  The smell was a challenge for me though, as I am not used to running along a river.

The only "race swag" was a t-shirt and trophies for age group and overall winners, but this is fairly typical for shorter distance races.  However, there was a nice post race spread:  water, gatorade, bananas, apples, granola bars, instant oatmeal bars, and rice krispies!

I wasn't sure what to expect of this race, I really have been struggling with running much more than 3-4 miles at a time.  I really wanted to break 55:00 (my last race was 56:33), but didn't feel prepared to do that. However, thankfully, the weather was VERY pleasant this morning... actually a bit chilly at the start!  That's not to say I didn't heat up quickly when I started running, but I didn't overheat like I did in May at the Frontier 10k.   (I just realized I failed to recap that race - whoops!)  This recap needs to be done soon so I can head to bed - gotta be up before the sun tomorrow to go visit family, so I am going to do bullet points!

  • Started out mid-pack and tried to run easy, kept reminding myself outloud to run my own race.  
  • Ran without music - seems to help me focus on running and breathing (remember for future races!)
  • I groaned out loud as I came across several small hills at the beginning of the course, I was scared there would be more hills along the way, but that was it
  • The first few miles were pretty uneventful, save trying to "reign" my pace in and not go too fast
  • It felt like forever before the fast people started coming back in, in reality, it was less than 3 miles! ha!
  • At one point, there was a VERY big branch across the path, it was partially broken but you could only go through single file, so I had to "time" myself right so I wouldn't have to stop for the speedy people who were going the other way
  • I was SO thankful to see the turn around point.  I made a deal with myself that I would not stop running until mile 5
  • I checked my splits at every mile I was consistently well below 9 minute miles for the first 3 miles... I was banking time to walk later in the race (I always bonk)
  • I struggled with mile 4, but couldn't do math in my head so I decided I couldn't risk walking because I would be so angry if I missed my goal due to walking just because I was "tired"
  • Mile 5 wasn't any easier, I got passed by several people but I kept putting one foot in front of another
  • I figured mile 6 would be my slowest, but at some point I found someone who was going a decent pace that I used as bait to keep myself moving forward.  I stayed just behind him and refused to drop back, I ran a much faster pace because of it!  So "thank you" to that guy - you helped me more than you know!
  • The "home stretch."  There was a NICE steep downhill and then I saw the finish line and I pushed it the best I could, turns out I had more left than I thought I did. I love that I can kick to the finish even when I am beat!  I tried really hard to get ahead of my pace buddy, but he ended up finishing just before me - however, our official times are exactly the same.
  • Victorious - a NEW PR by 4:11.8 AND I RAN EVERY STEP OF THE WAY
Mile 1: 8:22
Mile 2: 8:22
Mile 3: 8:33
Mile 4: 8:39
Mile 5: 8:50
Mile 6: 8:32
Last .2: 1:04 (6:39 pace)

Official time: 52:22
Age Group: 2 of 6
Overall: 89 of 163
Average Pace: 8:26

I would definitely do this race again, and recommend it to anyone in the local area.  There aren't very many 10k races available and of the two I have done locally, this was my favorite by far.  Far less turns and I LOVED the shaded greenway over the city streets!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bondi Band Bonanza Update!

I wanted to update about the bondi-bands for sale (all profits are going to St Jude)!  I have sold quite a few and got another shipment in.  I am down to 26 left to sell.  If these sell well, I may get more!  It is exciting to see the money I am raising for St Jude Children's Hospital continue to increase!

I am selling these bands for $8 a piece.  However, if you want to buy more 3 or more, let me know and we can work out a deal!  (Please ignore the mess in these photos!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Runners on Parade 5k Recap

I hate to say it, but I think I am burning out on racing this year.  I have done quite a few races and I feel like my life is starting to revolve around them.  I love doing races, I just wish they didn't interfere in my regular life so much.

For instance, in prep for a 5k I have to cut out all meat, dairy, and fats from my diet on the Friday before the race.  For longer distances, those restrictions start on Thursday.  To do this, I typically eat spaghetti - I really don't LIKE spaghetti, its just something I deal with because I enjoy racing that much.   That's just the start. I have a WONDERFUL husband who goes with me to all my races and watches my kids as well as being my race photographer.  The problem there is that this typically requires waking the kids up early and then they are crabby all day.  Ah well, all this to say... I wasn't really excited about Runners On Parade, but I decided since I had paid for it and it was a "points race" for the local running club I needed to do it. 

That being said, I am really glad I "made" myself do it because it ended up being a pretty good race.  

 - seemed relatively well organized
 - lots of crowd support as part of the race was along the parade route for a local festival
 - great volunteers
 - I ran much better than I thought I was going to. Not as good as two weeks ago,  but I was happy
 - lots of runners, so I never felt "alone" on the course and it was easier for me to focus on my pace not trying to pass the "one" runner in front of me
 - nice "gathering area" post race
 - lots of awards for runners plus door prizes!

 - gun start, chip finish - I knew this, but still didn't want to start with all the elites so I started towards the back which means my official time was at least 10 seconds slower than my garmin time
 - because I started too far back, I was weaving and dodging for at least the first half mile (probably more)
 - the water station - they had kids running it which was nice to see, but they weren't ready for runners it seemed so I had to grab my water off the table versus getting it from a volunteer.  Not a huge deal, but took a bit of time.
  - post race fare: they had cookies, bananas, apples and water.  While not "bad" per say I can't eat bananas and I was spoiled at my last race.  I wish they would offer something like granola bars that have some nutrition to them, not just sugar.  That's just me being picky with my diet though.
 - the race shirt - the design is "okay" but the color is just not my favorite shade of grey.  It's almost like a greenish-blueish grey, definitely not a race shirt I will wear.
 - the time clock at mile 1 was off - it said around 7:20, my first mile was 7:55!

Official time: 24:34.4
Age Group Place: 5th out of 34
Overall Place: 328 out of 756

And, just so this isn't so boring - some pictures.  I don't have any finish line photos because Tommy was almost a quarter mile from the finish...

Next On the Schedule:  Matthew 25 10k this weekend.  Praying the weather is kind to me and that maybe I will be able to pull a PR again? 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Belated Race Recap - Leo-Cedarville Freedom Run 5k

Natalie and I pre-race
Last Saturday I ran the Leo-Cedarville Freedom Run 5k, this was the second year for this race.  One of the reasons I chose to run this race is that they offered a kids race - I love getting my kids involved in healthy activities like this.

The Friday before the race we were  hit with storms with sustained winds of 60ish mph and gusts to 91 mph.  There was alot of damage - over 100,000 in the area were originally without power (they are still working to restore power to some in the area!)  I wasn't sure what to expect on the drive over so we left early and I am glad we did, one of the roads that I was supposed to take was closed because a tree had fallen across the street!  After a scenic detour, we arrived at Riverside Gardens were the the race was to take place.  There was a slight delay that I believe was caused by the lack of power that many people were still dealing with at the time, but it really wasn't a big deal.

The start of the race, the motorcycles led the race, I thought it was a neat touch!

 - quick and easy packet pick-up, seemed well organized
 - they offered a low cost kids race
 - loved the shirt
 - an out and back section of the course allowed my husband to take a few extra pictures
 - nice course, friendly volunteers
 - water, gatorade, bananas and post race goodie bags provided plenty of post-race fueling options
 - 8 am start was much appreciated, allowed racers to get done before it got too hot
 - age groups awards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place - medals for all and the first place in each age group also got a visor
 - the age group medal was cute and one of my favorites to date

 - wish they would have offered and extra-small kids shirt (not a huge deal, but Natalie's shirt is huge on her)

About a mile into the race
I don't really have a play by play of the miles from the race, I went out slower than usual I think and just tried to keep picking people off as the race went by.  (I forgot my garmin - whoops!) I started slowing some after mile 2 and had a few people pass me but I didn't walk and didn't give up mentally.  This is a huge success for me because they are both things I have been struggling with lately.  I managed to finish much faster than I expected which was great - I felt like I had just won the lottery even though it wasn't a PR.

Trying to push to the finish after seeing the clock.. I was pumped!

Official time: 24:19.1
Age group Finish: 1st out of 7
Overall finish: 26th out of 140

Me with my medal and visor
The kids run was set to be 300m, I wasn't sure how Natalie would do because she does really well for a bit then loses her wind.  She ran this one alone because I was with Daniel and she ran the whole way.  Maybe that means I need to slow down when I am running with her.  She still exclaimed that her "breath was smoking" when she got done.. too funny!
Natalie in the back in the pink with the yellow headband
Running towards the finish with Daniel
Finishing strong
The kids with their medals

I think its important to note: In preparing for this race, I found a recap from last year's race.  I loved that someone involved in organizing the race took the time to respond to her concerns.  I thought it was great that they obviously listened to feedback and adjusted the start time.  I also really appreciated that expanded the awards this year.  

I would recommend this race wholeheartedly, I had a great time and will be back to run it again as my schedule allows!

Please don't forget my bondi-band fundraiser to raise money for the children of St Jude.  Or, if you don't need a bondi-band but would like to contribute, please visit my "Hero" participant center.