Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hitting the Goal: My first 5K

I did it! I did it!!! I did it!!! I finally ran my first 5K!!!

Okay, composure…… I finally did it. And I’m relieved.

This past weekend, I finally overcame a fear of being a runner and lined up with 3200 other runners in Winter Park. Three miles isn’t that intimidating, but if you haven’t been practicing, then it’s not easy. It’s not even easy if you HAVE been training, if we’re being honest.

The morning started out at 6am and I have to admit, I was a bit tired from a fun girls night out the night before. I was careful not to drink much alcohol because I know the feeling of being dehydrated after a night out. But my husband and I had to get our son ready to go and be there for the start at 7:30. I arrived at about 7:20, and as a result of getting there so late, I was able to start the race relatively close to the starting line. I just hopped in and joined the people. As it turned out, I ended up right in front of a childhood friend who was running with her family. I blurted out the time I was hoping to achieve and she did the same. (she ended up beating me by about 30 seconds I found out later!)

When the race started, it took several seconds to get things going but the second my feet passed over the timing station the race was on! People spread out and got into their pace. Because there were so many people, it was a sea of people almost the whole race. Several times I smiled to myself, because I was competing in the race, I was overcoming a fear and actually had prepared and had entered the race.

During the run, people were constantly passing me and I sometimes passed others. I’d see some that I’d pass when they stopped to walk and then I’d see them passing me later. I ran past some unbelievably fast race walkers and I told one man that he was incredible and inspiring! He mumbled back between breathes that it wasn’t easy race walking with such a big crowd.

Hearing the pattering of the feet reminded me of children in a school hall scurrying back and forth between classes. I didn’t hear many conversations going on, heard some music over headphones, and some people breathed hard while others didn’t seem winded whatsoever. I remember singing to myself some favorite country songs, thanking God for this moment that I was experiencing, and also hoping that my body would remain strong throughout the race. I was cold in the beginning of the race but soon turned heated and sweaty, but I did feel pretty strong until the last mile. The last mile was fairly tough for me and I kept wanting to stop but thought about laying in the hospital bed years ago while having my baby and not being able to get out of the bed for a whole month; and I decided that this pain was a lot better pain than not being able to move my legs and walk after I got out of the hospital. This pain was also a better pain than after my knee surgery a few years ago. So, I kept thinking that I had handled worse before, and that I needed to just stay the course, and put one foot in front of the other. If I did that, eventually, I’d reach the finish line.

I realized that I made this race much bigger in my mind than it was in reality. In reality, it was just a fun run, something to do on a Saturday morning with friends and family. But to me, it was so much more. To me, it was saying, that I had found the courage to do something that I knew I probably wasn't going to be good at but still wanted to do. For me, it was having to face my team mates day in and day out, who are old pros and who probably didn’t understand my unimpressive endurance during practice. For me, it was stepping up to the plate, even though I wasn’t 100% sure I could do it.

Now that I’m beyond the intimidation of the other runners and had my mental breakthrough, I can say that now I am a runner myself. I may not be good yet, but I now know that I can do it. My fellow DAWG friend Howard (Hi Howard!!!) asked me today if I was going to write about this, and so I knew that I had to. I wanted to put it in writing to hopefully share with others, that reaching a goal, isn’t always easy, especially mentally. Sometimes, you learn more about yourself on the path to the goal than you anticipated. And sometimes you tick others off while you’re learning the ropes. But the advice that I’ve gained from all of this is that sometimes you just have to shut up and stop talking about it and just do the work.

Then, over time, you’ll reach your goal. And after you reach it… guess what? You’re off and running to the next one! (like getting legs like Howard's girlfriend Adele!!!)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Breaking through Self Limiting Beliefs

This past weekend I lined up with 3200 other runners in my home town in Winter Park Florida and set off to run a 5K. There were champions from afar and new runners such as myself, old people and children, and everyone was giddy with the prospect of racing together. It was a brisk morning in Central Florida, but the kind that makes you glad you don’t live anywhere else.

For me, it was facing a hurdle to overcome that had blocked me in my mind for years. It was the statement in my mind that told me: I am not a runner.

It all started for me in 9th grade. I was on the track team and raced in the sprints and the hurdles. One day in a track meet, I “hit the wall” and my legs wouldn’t carry me. I kept telling them to move but I saw them slow down almost to a stop and my body wouldn’t move faster than at a snails pace. I didn’t know how to explain to myself, to my coach, or to anyone what had happened, so I naturally assumed that I wasn’t cut out to be a runner.
I’ve carried that mindset with me every day since then.

Fast forward through the years, I watched idly from the sidelines during road races and wished I could be in the game instead of being a spectator. Somewhere inside of me was a deep longing to be a runner, and to be the athlete that I thought I had the potential to be. But when I joined a running team this past fall, I continued to manufacture numerous excuses about my missing the practices and not working hard. It wasn’t until I was running with a more mature runner by the name of Grizz, who told me his story of “hitting the wall” on his 18th marathon 50 yards from the finish line. He explained to me that he got dehydrated and his body shut down and it took several minutes to gain his bearings to be able to reenter the race.

When I heard his story it sunk in that all of those years before I too, had “hit the wall”. I had an immediate vision of what my legs looked like at the moment they stopped performing and the horror that I felt when it happened. Now knowing that I was probably dehydrated and could have fixed that scenario by drinking more liquids, I now knew that I was holding a belief about myself that was based on an untruth. When I look back further into my childhood, I was an outstanding athlete and runner, but having one bad experience made me change my belief system. I went from being a strong and secure athlete to a wimpy and weak minded one.

After I realized that this belief has tarnished my view of myself for all of these years, I realized that the only person holding me back from having a great and in shape body was me. I knew now, that only showing up and putting in the work would get me to the place where I wanted to be. I knew that I had a great team of people who I ran with and a supportive coach who gave me guidance, but it was me who would have to do the work.

I was up for the challenge so I set my sights on the 5K in my home town as my first race. I trained several times a week by running a 3 mile path regardless of how I felt. Finally, I got to the level of endurance where I could do the whole run without stopping. That in itself was a goal that I had.

On race day, I had a goal of coming in under 30 minutes and secretly dreamed for a time of 28 minutes. Sure enough, when I passed the finish line, the time was 28:54 and when my foot hit the pad at the finish line, I put my arms up in victory. The victory wasn’t that I won the race, but only that I had conquered a fear, and had now entered a new phase of life with a new mindset.

Knowing now what I know, that my body is strong and can compete, I’m not satisfied with my time. Being a competitor, I now see how hard I’m going to have to push myself to get my time down to a respectable time. I’m now motivated to become more lean and to build more endurance. I have another time goal in mind and I’m giving myself a year to get there.

This time, because I believe that I’m now a runner, I know I can do it.

What a difference a conversation can make; and what a difference an attitude adjustment can make! Thanks Grizz!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Beautiful Women: The Most Bullied in our Society

Do you know a beautiful woman? Have you spoken with her lately? I don’t mean in a way that is casual, I mean, have you talked to her lately about the other … women! Have you asked her how she gets treated by other women she encounters? Her answer may surprise you… and get ready for an ear full!

In our society, beauty is worshiped. We spend trillions of dollars on our hair, make up, spa treatments and even puffing up our face and our lips so we don’t look as if we’ve aged. The Hollywood types have been sucked into a culture that young is the ONLY way to be, and as a result, reconstruct their faces and their bodies to try to resemble a 25 year old. Unfortunately, many times without success. Some recent examples of faces gone badly would be Michael Jackson, Joan Rivers and even my favorite, Meg Ryan. If the surgeon inserts too much fat in a lip or a check, the tabloids then have a hay day criticizing their recent appearance.

How are these beautiful people treated by the general population? There’s no doubt, beautiful people get better treatment. They receive better customer service and better discounts. People allow them to cut in line and treat them special. But there are also times, where beautiful people are treated horrible. Some of the beautiful people are tortured and treated horribly, by their “so called” friends.

I have a friend named Emily. Emily is a mom of 3 boys and a few years after she had the boys she decided to get into shape. She hired a trainer and got to work in the gym and with her diet. She discovered that the high protein, low carb diet worked well and within 2 months she had dropped 20lbs. She’s kept it off by running and by lifting weights.

This is when the problems started. While her customers admired her and her sales never dropped off, the ladies at the office started making snide remarks behind her back. They seemed to leave her out of afternoon get togethers and lunches out. Emily didn’t understand the dramatic change in the climate. After all she was still pulling in her sales and nothing else had changed. But SHE had changed. She had gone from average to beautiful in a few short months, and the women noticed it and didn’t like it.

Another friend who I coached through her transformation lost her baby weight, added hair extensions and a tan and soon many of the other ladies were following suit and adding hair extensions because they obviously admired her style. They also started tormenting her at work and started spreading vicious rumors about her and her boss. Finally, it got so bad that HR had to be called in and this is what she was told: “we’ve never seen anyone’s reputation so brutally attacked with no reason before and we’re sorry. We don’t see how we can resolve this unless you create a less low profile image.”

My friend ended up quitting.

Even at the golden globes, one reporter made a serious error on camera by chatting and flirting with Donald Trump and leaving his wife in the wings without so much as even a “Hello”. Can you imagine THAT reporter ever being invited to a party at the Trumps? Hardly! Ms. Trump is a former Ms. Universe and was just humiliated on national TV.

Beautiful women seem to be so intimidating to other women that many times, they’re treated horribly even before they open their mouths. Is it the way they hold themselves or is it our own insecurities? When we see a buxom lady showing it off, do we automatically get so annoyed that we immediately put our defenses up? When we zero in on a gal’s forehead that has been botoxed and lazored, do we admire her for wanting to improve or do we internally crucify her for wanting others approval?

Society is continuing to change and upgrade. Those of us who have judgments of others need only to review in their own lives when others have first unfairly judged us. Was there a time where you were judged based on your appearance? Was there a time where anyone was jealous of you for something you did or for something you bought or owned?

Jealousy is a natural emotion that pops up in mysterious ways. It causes people to rage and to turmoil and to treat others ferociously. So here’s an exercise to try: next time you start to be annoyed at someone’s success, stop yourself and ask yourself, what can I do to make them feel good? Can I congratulate them? Can I help them in some way? Can I start a lighthearted conversation with them to find out who this person really is?

When we acknowledge our own insecurities and work to overcome them, we’re the ones who grow and we’re the ones who gain the power. It’s worth it to notice our interactions with others; to improve upon them, and grow as a result.

Next time you’re jealous of another: Acknowledge your insecurity to yourself, say or do something nice for the person you’re jealous of, and then do the best thing you can do: and go do something to improve your mind or learn something new.

The world will be glad you did.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Two weeks to my Goal!

The days are counting down. I committed to running a road race after joining a running team back in September. I’ve trained and I’ve visualized, and now, I’m counting the days.

My goal is to finish. I don’t even have a time that I’m shooting for at this point. I just want to start and finish the race without stopping and walking. It’s only a 5K and millions and millions of Americans have run in races like this, but I never have; and for me to get to this point, it’s truly been a journey.

Back in September, I saw a bunch of eager runners meeting at the YMCA. They all had beautiful runner bodies, the type I’ve always longed to have. They looked happy and I knew that they were high on the fact that they had disciplined their bodies and their minds and because they each had a connection with each other through running and being fit. I wanted to be a part of a group like that, but I didn’t have the courage by myself.

The leader of the group wouldn’t allow me to think like that. John told me that I could do whatever I set my mind to, and that he promised to lend support. I accepted the challenge and joined the group. The first month I was up to running 5-7 miles and he told me to stop pushing myself so hard, that I was going too fast and that I’d end up injured. He was true to his word and on my 7 mile run, I strained a muscle. I then took off for a few weeks and then it was hard to ease my way back into it, but slowly I did.

I’d love to say I’ve been an easy “coachee”, and that I took to running like a fish takes to water, but mostly it’s been a mental struggle with me. I wanted to push myself hard and work out every day, but I kept coming up with excuse after excuse of why I couldn’t do it. Either I was injured, or I was out of town, or working, but I kept finding excuses of why I couldn’t run. Somehow, I kept sabotaging myself and I didn’t know why. Finally, one day I was running the track with a very successful, long time marathoner on my team about how he “hit the wall” during one of his marathons 50 yards from the finish line. He shared with me that his body stopped working, and that he fell against a fence which held him up until he recovered and then he stumbled to the finish line. At that moment, I realized then that when I was younger and on the track team, I also “hit the wall” one day, became dehydrated and even though my mind would work, my legs stopped working. I literally couldn’t move my legs. It was if I was in slow motion and my body just stopped.

I didn’t know that “hitting the wall” was something that can happen to anyone. I just thought from that point on that I wasn’t a runner. I thought that I wasn’t cut out to be a runner and that my body wouldn’t perform to the level that I wanted it to. Therefore, going forward I based my physical performance based on something I learned as a 9th grade student and that particular mindset held me back even as an adult. As I thought back over my high school swimming days, that held me back when we had running workouts. The crazy thing was, was that as an elementary school student, I was always one of the fastest girl runners in the whole school. Year after year, I placed as the top athlete in every athletic activity, including running. I even have a trophy somewhere in a box that I should get out to remind myself that I am a good runner!

When I realized that I had one incident from over 20 years ago that was adversely affecting my mental game when it came to running, I finally realized that I’m on my own path, and that the only way that I could break out of this negativity was one day at a time. My coach has now challenged me to build up my endurance by running 3-4 times a week; 3-4 miles a run, which I’m now doing. For Christmas, I received new running clothes and a watch which is making me feel more and more like a runner. Finally, my runs are getting easier and faster, and now, I’m about to sign up for my first race as I promised to myself.

It’s been a long journey to get to this point. My coach has given me a challenge that I believe that I can achieve and that I am committed to achieving. I’m taking baby steps and not overwhelming myself right now with signing up for a ½ a marathon or a marathon right off the bat. I’m building a base of strength and endurance, and as I grow in my strength, my confidence will continue to build.

I see how endurance takes time and that through one day at a time, I build strength. I see how easily we can defeat ourselves by being afraid or by holding a negative belief inside our minds.

On January 20th, I’ll be lining up with hundreds of other runners to do a 5K; which for them, will be a competition with others to see who goes fastest. For me, it’s a huge win for me to show up and finish; because now, I realize that I’m on the way to doing something that I’ve wanted for so long, but didn’t think I could do. That in itself is a huge accomplishment for me.

So I’d like to ask you… do you have any beliefs about yourself that are holding you back? Do you have something that you really want to do but you’re not sure you can? Do you have any fear standing in your way?

It’s time to rewind your mind, and review the view, to see if you’re the one standing in your own way. The answer may surprise you. And if you discover, like I did, that the reason for your failure was something you believed long ago, it’s time to rediscover your strength and create a new destiny, of you succeeding and achieving your dream.