Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Love the smell of fried chicken in the morning-two liquor stores in one block and one STUPID Southern Run

While training for the 2011 Princess 1/2 marathon, I got the opportunity to visit one of the South's more beautiful cities.  Normally, if I really like a city--it is in Georgia.  But this time, I am making an exception.  I got to travel to Charleston, SC, for a few days for a business conference.  I absolutely loved Charleston.  I loved the buildings.  I loved the restaurants.  I loved the way the people talked (pretty much like me).  We stayed at a swanky motel downtown-The Charleston Place.  Lovely, Lovely, Lovely--It had a Pandora bead store and a Godiva Chocolate store in the Lobby.  A girl can't ask for much more than that.  I had shrimp and grits at almost every meal.  If I were to leave Georgia, I would consider, Charleston.  But I digress....

During my conference, we had a 3 hour break one day.  We had started with a breakfast meeting at 7:30 and worked until 9:30 or 10:00 and were not meeting back until just after lunch.  Well, all good and true Southerners know that Charleston is the place where the first shots rang out in the war of Northern Aggression.  I had a great plan to change and go for a two to three mile run to the park and look out to Fort Sumter and feel the stirring of my soul.

I did change, and I studied the map for runners.  At this time, I was not using a GPS watch of any kind, rather a $15 Target watch that just kept up with how long I had been running, and would tell me what time it was.  But I set out on my historical run.  I usually run with music.  I was running and making good time, it was January in Charleston, the weather was beautiful, and I suddenly realized that I was coming up on, yes, it was.....the second liquor store within the same block.  Now, I may not be a smart girl, but I don't think that is a good sign.  However, Charleston has been voted, "Most Well Mannered City",  It would have been rude to just yelp, spin around and run away....I went to the end of the block, and peek-a-boo, there were the slums.  I looked intently at my $15 watch while jogging in place, turned around and giggedity jogged away.  I went about two to three blocks and turned and continued on my merry way because Fort Sumter awaited.

I jogged and walked through a beautiful section of town, one that I had eaten dinner in the night before.  I passed on by the restaurant and kept going... and going... listening to the music, thinking about that map from the hotel room.  Suddenly I saw a sign on the side of a building that advertised that I could buy an "Eight Piece Suit for Only $100".  Hmmmm.  I had done it again.  As I found a major intersection, I turned and continued on.  Fort Sumter and the stirrings of my soul had to be somewhere.  I was running out of areas from which you could look out and see water.  I felt sure that a battle that took place off of Charleston harbor had taken place in water.  So....I kept moving.  Also, I now had no idea where my hotel was.  I knew I had not left South Carolina.  I felt like I was still in Charleston, but really, had no way of knowing.  I was beginning to lose steam.  All along I had been walking a minute or two and running three or four minutes and walking again.  Unless I got nervous, then I just ran.  I was jogging slowly, and I ran into the most glorious smell---FRIED CHICKEN.  There is nothing like the smell of hot oil and chicken being fried.  I believe that I was about to hit "the wall" but that snort of Fried Chicken grease, got me over, and kept me going....it's a Southern thang.

Shortly after that , signs began to appear, signs pointing the way to the park and visitors center.  Then, out of the haze that was my lack of water and no luna bar-after all it was only going to be a two mile run--yeah and Gillian was on a three hour tour--I saw beautiful columned homes, that one could imagine ladies and gents coming out on the second floors to watch the ships fire on the Union held Fort Sumter until they gave up-thus starting the Civil War.  I finally made it.  I stood there in awe.  I had read about it. Watched Ken Burns specials, movies, but it was something else to stand there.  I will tell you I got a bit choked up.  I was standing at a pivotal point in our nation's history

But I still had to get back to the hotel.  I thought really hard about that map.... Moved over from the point where I stood, toward the center of the park, and reoriented myself, and took off.  Within 6 minutes, I was back at the hotel.  Almost two hours since I left.  The park was a half a mile away from the hotel.  It was a real adventure--Not necessarily one I want to repeat.  I learned, I don't read those little maps that they leave in your hotel room well. I need ones that are already oriented for me, like on the computer.  These days I generally run on the treadmills if I am in a city with which I am unfamiliar.  Or maybe I could just strap my Magellan from the car to me and plug my ear phones into it and go.....its a thought!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Me an Athlete, Are You Kidding?!?!?!

I recently joined Dailymile.com in order to have the widget on the side of this blog.  However, I love it.  Mostly because each time I go to log in and sync my runs with my running watch, it pulls up my profile.  You will never believe what appears under my picture.  Donna C., athlete.  Right now I have the web page pulled up on another tab and I just looked up and it says my name,  followed by the phrase "is an athlete."  Whoda thunk it?!?!  It also keeps up with how many miles I have run this year and it will send me an email and tell me how many miles I have covered this week.  When I am putting the time in this is like a huge "atta girl", when I am not it is another reminder that if I am going to eat a can of pringles in two sittings, that I should be putting in the miles.

In my last entry I was training for the 2011 Princess Half marathon.  I used the Jeff Galloway method to train, (sort of).  I did a dumb thing.  I did this alone.  I didn't have a training partner, a facebook group, or anyone other than my husband and kids to keep my hopes up.  I read the Jeff Galloway stuff online.  Late in the game, someone at a meeting for work mentioned the couch to 5K program and someone else said something about a Run for Jesus plan.  I just went out there by myself and ran and walked and ran and walked and ran and walked.  I was slow,  I had the feeling that if someone was watching, I would've looked like the astronauts in every movie, when they are walking out together to get on the spacecraft.

When people asked me if I was a runner, I said, NO, no , no.  I walk, run, lope---you know, whatever.  I made and still make every excuse.  When I tell people that I have been in half marathons or 5 K's, the next thing out of my mouth is inevitably, I was really slow, but I finished.  Who Cares!!!

I think because I am not shaped like the traditional Kenyon runner, and my mph speed proves out that I definitely do not have Kenyan DNA (the Boston Marathon has been Dominated by Kenyan Men and Women since the late Eighties), I cannot possibly be a runner.  It is strange.  I cook often, yet I don't compare myself to Julia Childs.  I drive every day, yet I don't compare myself to ____________(fill in the blank with your favorite NASCAR driver--I don't want to offend).  I think that I put too much pressure on myself to try to live up to something that no one expects-I expect me to be an elite athlete before I can wear that title, no one else ever did.  No one else ever cared about titles anyway.  I just didn't want to wear one I didn't earn.

I wish that I had found another athlete wannabe with whom to share the experience up to this point. Within the past year, I joined some facebook groups and regularly read some blogs of others who are trying to do it all and find balance in some areas of their lives.  Some of the folks I know and have known for a long time, others I have never met, never spoken to, yet we share a kindred spirit of some type.  The wonderful thing is that we encourage one another.  When you start from couch potato aspiring to athlete, you need some encouragement.

I recently got a text from a friend asking if I would run the Allstate Atlanta 1/2 marathon.  When we got the chance to talk, we have another friend and possibly three more that may join in.  None of us live near one another and only two of the five other than me, know each another at all.  However, we are all excited and the best part is the encouragement and the friendship.  The bling from this run is great! But I realized that my friends are beginning to see me as a runner.  They are putting me in the category as an athlete.  The computer has, maybe I need to stop making excuses and do it too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dinosaurs vs. God and "I believe in Mommy"

If you are a woman, you know how as a girl, you always wanted those diaries at the store?  You know, those pink and purple ones that had that lock with them. Some actually already had the days marked so that you could capture your every memory and dream.  Or...so that they could taunt you, and make you feel guilty, and insufficient for not putting an entry in every day.  Just Me---Oh Well-- I always did have an overeager sense of guilt.

I mention it, because I tried to start a blog once before.  Just like those diaries and journals, I started with such eagerness and excitement, then it started to taper, than wandered, than waned, than expired....  I looked back at it this weekend.  It was on the weight watchers site.  I started it as I started my journey to the 2011 Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon.  I had a grand total of eight entries.  Most were about how many points I had eaten, or had left to eat....guess you can tell where my focus was.  Occasionally, I did have something to say that stands the test of time (all 22 months of it).  I have taken the best of those eight entries and come up with what follows.  Sometimes it is good to look back to go forward....

I had forgotten that I broke into tears when I registered for the 2011 Disney Princess Half Marathon.  I am not big on crying--someone would've given me something to cry about--but I cried, not because I was happy, but because I was forcing me to have confidence in myself, and it was very uncomfortable.  Early forties-successful job, beautiful family, and hidden low self-confidence---yeah, that sounds about right.  But in this journey, I have found surprising doses of wild joy.

One night while walking/loping near the house, the kids and dog had gone with me.  At some point, they complained that I was going too fast for them, (I know, right!), the sun was in their eyes, it was hot, etc..., anyway, my husband drove the mile and picked them up.  As the door to the van was closing, my daughter shouted, "I believe in you, Mommy!"  She was 6 or 7 at the time. That was a big moment for me.  She believed in me....I didn't believe in myself, but she did.  At that moment, I could have run a marathon.

One afternoon, while walking/loping with my son, he asked if we could talk.  I said, sure...I now know this is the precursor to opening a Pandora's box of sorts.  He next told me how a classmate had told him that if you believed in dinosaurs, you could not believe in God. "Because... the Bible said, God created the Heavens and the Earth in seven days and never mentioned dinosaurs."   He was torn up about this one, because he had seen the fossils--One of the benefits of walking briskly is that you are already breathing deeply, and therefore are given a second or two of leeway for brief prayer.

Out of nowhere, I began to talk about how on different planets the days are different lengths--he already knew this concept--Pluto was still a planet at that point.  I reasoned that although our days are 24 hours, we don't know how long God's days are, and that when animals first appeared it was the day before Adam and Eve, so it could be that both were right.  The Bible is right, AND dinosaurs were around, obviously, because we have the fossilized skeletons, but they were extinct before Adam and Eve got sorted.    We had a great discussion about how some of the greatest minds of science are also great men of faith and that the two are not exclusive but inclusive.  It must have been the oxygen, because I am not normally this smart/quick.  REALLY, not when it  comes to science.

This is not the kind of conversation that I could totally concentrate on in the car, or that he would be willing to bring up at dinner-because then it would be a family free for all.   These days, these are the types of discussions that are best saved for long walks/runs with Mom.  Now though, I get ready, when he says, "can we talk?"

Just like when I was a little girl, I am looking at this blog kind of like that diary with the little heart lock on it, except now, I hope that others read it and get encouragement from it. Maybe it will be a friend or stranger, or my kids someday...who knows it may be just me, in a few months, when I have forgotten some tidbit that seems unforgettable now.  In any case, there is joy, both in the experience and the memory.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Daughter's Delusion

My children's elementary school has recently started it's first ever "club".  It is an after school club for girls- that encourages girls to exercise, and works on relationships and self-esteem.  They are calling it "Pavement Princesses".  I went to the evening meeting and there were a surprising number of girls and parents that showed up, but the amazing thing is now that they have gotten started, they have around 42 girls coming every week.  My little princess was very excited about a club just for girls.  They are planning a big year-end event by running in a local 5K.  My daughter is nine and invincible (like her mother).  She began to tell me how she could run three miles....it wouldn't be hard.  Off and on for several days she talked about it.

As the weekend rolled around the schedule and the time change worked together so that she and I could go running. I no longer go running near our house, but that is a tale for another day....  We started out at the riverwalk in our town.  It is a beautiful place,  Sarah Margaret and I, and her eleven year old brother all began this adventure.   We stopped and stretched a bit.  I have found that I do better stretching more after, when my muscles are warm, than trying to stretch cold muscles.  But, we stretched, and I showed them where it should pull, and what the technique might be.  As we started out, I took the approach that I was feeling the pollen, and needed to take it easy.  So, we decided to walk a minute and jog/run/lope for three minutes, and that would be our interval. 

The first four minutes looked okay, we made it a bit past the first quarter mile marker.  Just after second interval, at the eight minute mark, I knew, that we were in trouble.  Sarah Margaret, was trying to race her brother during the three minutes that we were running.  No matter how many times I said, "run your own pace," she wanted to be ahead of him, and he wanted to be ahead of her.  He was recovering more quickly during the one minute of walking, because he had his breathing pattern down while he was running.  She did not, she was gasping for air.  As we came to the end of our one minute walk and got ready to run, Sarah Margaret did what so many of us do, either overtly, or internally, when our expectations and our reality clash violently.  She started crying.  BUT, being a Georgia peach, and a princess, she did it while running.  Her brother, being Southern, a boy, and clueless, said... "Is she crying?"

So, I did what any good mother would do,...I lied.  I said, that she was probably having trouble breathing because of the pollen, and that we should expand our walk breaks to a minute and a half to let her catch up.  Then, I started teaching her how to count every time she puts her foot down and breathe in on 1 and out on three or four whichever felt right.  We ran a mile and a quarter that day.  But I am most proud of her that she did not give up.  The next day, she and I ran a mile and a half.  We talked about how she thought it would be easy to run, since I was doing it (Thanks a lot!), and how it looks easy, and how they run in PE.  We talked about how once you get disappointed in yourself, how you really want to quit, but, she had not much option to quit, because between her brother and being so far from the car, no matter what, quitting was just lame.  We talked about running your race, and how hard it is NOT to compete and burn yourself out like she was doing with Lance.

So, I've written the first entry fees for Sarah Margaret and I to be in some local 5K's and for her to be in the Pavement Princesses.  I am so thankful that my mid-life crisis can be a part of her entry into her pre-teen and teenage years.  The life-lessons that I learned  and was reminded of from running with her a few weeks ago, won't soon be forgotten.  I hope that they will stay in her heart as well.

As for Lance,  we are grateful (1)that he noticed that his sister was crying, (2) that he showed concern, (3) that he bought my story.  At least he did up until now....

It is surprising to me how much this experience touched my heart.  How often do we build up something in our mind, and when it doesn't go the way we think, we want to quit.  If we had a friend or coach or if we listened to the one we have, how different things might be.  No matter how I tried to tell her, she could not hear that running three miles was not easy until she tried it.  Upon trying it, it was crushing.  I wonder how many times do we play this scene out in other areas of our lives unwittingly making life difficult on ourselves?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes.....Oh Yes....

To run amok means to "act wild or in a dangerous manner".  I often have felt this way.  For those of you familiar with the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, Kathy Bates, transforms from frumpy housewife into Towanda--mistress of her own destiny.  I haven't run amok in the grocery store parking lot and crashed into a car over and over, or torn down the walls of my house, but I did something that was just as crazy in my world....

In the summer of 2010, I registered for the Princess Half Marathon in Disney World.  This was paramount to crashing my Caddy into a cute sassy girl's VW.  At the time, we could barely make ends meet, and to send the early registration of $95 and commit to a February Hotel room on Disney property, gas, meals, and whatever else.  What was I thinking?!?!  I was thinking about me.  What an alien concept.

Well the money was gone, I had committed (or maybe I needed to be committed).  I also, should say, that I am cheap.  Not fugal, not conservative.  CHEAP.  I will rub pennies together, hoping to make nickels.  I used coupons on my honeymoon.  So once I had committed my money, it was ON.  I also started telling people.  I told my friends at work, business associates,  I told random people in my life, I told my mother, but I hesitated to tell my brother.  At this point, I did not believe I could do it.  So, I was telling enough people that I had no choice.  Once it was "out there", I could not back down.  I was running amok, telling people.  If I had kept it to myself, I could quit and no one would know except me and my husband, maybe the kids wouldn't remember.  Now, I had broadcast it. There is no turning back.

So, time to get to it.  I get on the scales everyday.  I know that you aren't supposed to, but I do.  As great Southerners say, "I was within spittin distance" of 200 lbs.  Work had been very stressful for about two years.  My husband and I had closed our bicycle business due to the downturn of the economy.  Things had taken their toll.  However, like all people who have once been in shape, I felt like I still was in fairly good shape.  You know like the guy who played sports in high school, but now wears a 38-40 waist, but thinks he still has "it", or the woman who ran five miles a day one summer in college and used to mountain bike and road bike before kids came along (me).  They say that people who have eating disorders don't see a skinny person in the mirror.  I think I had an exercise disorder.  In my mind, I was still in good shape.  I had carried exercise clothes in my car, off and on for years.  Every once in a while, I actually used them.  That had to count for something.  I had stairs in my house. I didn't park next to door of stores, cause those spots were already taken.  I mean really....

For all the Disney runs, there is a requirement that you must maintain an average of a 16 minute mile.  No sweat, right!  So, in mid-late July, I got some exercise shorts and a tee shirt, used the running shoes that I already had, and started off.  I planned to walk for about 30 minutes.  I had my Ipod.  It was one of the original series of Ipods,  it is about the size of the current Iphone4s.  We got it when they were closing them out, remember me saying I was cheap.  So, off I go, walking as hard and fast as I can, from the house.  When I returned to the house, I sat down to regain my breath.  I was having a bit of trouble breathing and talking. My family looked at me oddly.  Very oddly. My sweet husband, got up and got me a big plastic cup that we had saved from the Quick Trip gas station and filled it with ice water.  When  I took it from him, I got the sense that I gave him the same look that you get from a grateful golden retriever.  He said gently, "let me go run you a cold bath."  I had finally regained the ability to speak.  I did ask why.  My daughter told me I was the wrong color.  I had turned bright red and passed that up and gone totally white again.  For those not in Georgia, July hosts temperatures in the low 100's and humidity in the 95%.  I could be having a heat exhaustion/stroke.  This mid-life crisis is definitely causing me to act wild and in a dangerous manner.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

And so it begins....

I am having a midlife crisis. There I've said it. No whining, no judgement, no bitterness, just reality. I am not upset by this event. It means that I have made it to a point in my life where I no longer care if my socks match my blouse. I have stopped breaking my back to make everyone in my life happy, and generally, I like myself. Before we get too far into this tale, introductions may be in order for some. I am a Southerner, a wife, a mother of two, a daughter, a sister, a fierce friend, a Martha Stewart wannabe (that reads as self-imposed perfectionist), the school nutrition director for our local school system ( I help feed 8,300 kids lunch every day and work with 126 women), and I am TIRED.

Around 18 months ago, I was at a conference in Dallas, Texas. Not long before I left, my mother told me I needed a haircut because I was too old to wear long hair. While unpacking, and watching tv, I saw the commercial for the movie, "Eat, Pray, Love". In the ad, two women talked about not being able to remember what they had to eat for lunch, that maybe it was a salad at their desk. I was struck by the fact that I could have joined their conversation, you know, if I was famous and in the movie. Later that evening, destiny's gong struck the third time (we all know, things, good and bad, come in threes). My nightly endulgence was to enjoy a dove chocolate. Right there on the wrapper was printed, "Live with no regrets." Now, I know it is dangerous to get a life philosophy from candy, but remember the premise, I'm having a midlife crisis here, and as these three things rolled over in my mind, my midlife crisis was born.

I returned home to Georgia and spoke with my family about my realization that I needed to do something for myself. They stared at me blankly and with great love asked, "What do you want to do?" Well, that was the last thing I expected. I had dreams for my husband and children, hopes for my friends and family, goals for work, but I had forgotten how to dream for me. I had spent my twenties and thirties working on family and career and I got lost. I think I felt like if I did too much for myself, I would be selfish, or a bad person/mother. There just didn't seem to be enough time for me. Now, the kids were a bit older, and they still needed me, but not like they did when they had were babies.

My husband in his great wisdom asked, "What did you used to want to do?" I explored this question in my "free" time. You know, in the shower, in the three minutes before someone discovered that I was in the bathroom and started talking to me through the door, while I was standing in line etc. Things I used to dream of doing, being a wife- check, being a mother-check, being successful at work-check, run a marathon- wait...

So, we held a family meeting and talked about it. Could overweight, out of shape, not exercising, Mom, with a previous ankle injury complete a marathon? No, not right now, but, MAYBE a half marathon. And so it begins.......