Tag Archive | running

my balanced life (or 95 days of movement)


There are ninety-five days left in the year.  I’m making a vow to myself and my body to make them ninety-five days of movement.

silhouette of running woman

Four years ago, I started taking yoga classes.  Yoga saved me.  During the lowest time of my life, yoga was my safe haven.

In 2011, things changed and I couldn’t make it to as many yoga classes.  So I started walking.  And then I started running.  In September 2011, I walked and ran my first 5K.   I finished.  Last.  But last beats the quitters behind me who stopped.  Even the quitters beat all those who didn’t start at all.

I walked or ran two 5Ks last year.  I kept running until November, when I fell and threw my hips out of alignment.

This year, I’ve struggled to get back into my groove.  The yoga studio closed while Carrie uses all of her energy to beat cancer.  There is a yoga class I take on Saturday  mornings, when I’m home.  And healthy.  I haven’t been since…when?  August?  Maybe July?

The last time I ran was the night before Nature Boy got mad, ran down the stairs, jumped over the gate and got bitten by my Rocky dog.  It was one of those hot, late night runs that sustained me through 2011 and mostly eluded me in 2012.  A slow, hot mile in shorts and a sports bra.  Nobody out but me and the moon.

After that, I went to bed each night thinking, “I’m too tired.  I’ll run in the morning.”  And every morning, I’d wake up thinking, “I’m too tired.  I’ll run in the evening.”

There are ninety-five days left of this year, and I’m done with excuses.  I’m going to fill those ninety-five days with movement.  If I’m too tired to run, I’ll walk.  If I’m too tired to walk, I’ll ride my beach bike.  If it’s too rainy to go outside, I’ll go to my yoga room and pretend that Carrie is there to push me to hold that position just a little longer.  Breathe just a little harder.

Between my birthday and the end of the year is when most people put on weight each year.  Between Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas goodies, it’s a challenge to get through the year without plumping up like that Thanksgiving turkey.

I used to say I dieted and exercised to get my old body back.  I’ve changed my goal.  I don’t want my 25-year-old body anymore.  I want a different body.  A better one.  One that is soft yet firm.  Toned and healthy.  Lungs that can fill me with oxygen.  Heart that beats strong and sure.  Legs that carry me to the finish line.  Arms that hold me in a handstand.  That’s the body I want to walk into 2013.

Move with me!  Let’s end 2012 in triumph and start 2013 in the best shape of our lives! 

my balanced life (or finding my margin)


keep calm and go to the beach

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the need to find margin, that slice of space needed to prevent overload in a busy life.  Michael Hyatt writes about it here.

Margin is not something that comes easily in a busy life. I’ve been feeling the crush of deadlines and responsibilities the last six months.  I’ve talked a lot about needing to get away.  To create a little margin away from my day-to-day responsibilities.  But being able to actually make that margin in my life just wasn’t happening.

Right now, my business schedule doesn’t allow me to be away from my office for more than a day here and there.  That is a reality that won’t change in the near future.

Which means the most margin I can carve out right now is a little weekend trip.

When I do get away, I need to find somewhere close.

It also helps to know which setting is most relaxing to me.

For some people, it’s the mountains.

For others, it’s a big, bustling city.

But I find peace at the beach.

sunrise on Hilton Head Island

I am blessed enough to live fifteen minutes from the beach.  But even that entails packing a day bag, towel and chair, snacks and water bottles, and then sitting in traffic.

This weekend, my friends were sweet enough to lend me their one-bedroom beach condo on Hilton Head Island.  The commute to the beach was grabbing the beach chair and my beach bag and walking across the street, over the boardwalk and across the sand.

I was there to watch the sun set behind the beautiful condos dotting the beach, watching the sky change from blue to pink to black.

I was there to watch the sun rise above the pine trees and sea grass.

The most strenuous responsibility I had was holding my book up high enough to avoid the waves and moving my chair in and out, following the tide.

A nice long walk at end the day.  An early morning jog to start the next.

Short walks back to the condo for naps as needed.

Paradise.

Margin.

Peace.

Whatever you want to call it, I found it this weekend.

I have a few hours left before I have to make that big fifteen-minute commute back home.  My teenager awaits my return.  As do my four dogs.  And my fifty pound backpack of responsibilities.

But for now, I’m going to grab my beach chair, beach bag and beach read and head back to enjoy the last of my time away.  My margin.

Question:  Do you schedule margin in your life?  That break from your responsibilities that gives you the chance to recharge and rejuvenate? 

my year of balance (or Regina Mae falls down a hill)


“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced 
life.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Twenty twelve is my year of balance.  At least it was until this past week. Seven months after my last fall, I fell again this weekend.

I wish, like Elizabeth Gilbert, I could say that I lost balance for love.  I don’t love any of the men I’ve dated this year.  None of them since Coach, anyway.

I enjoy spending time with them.  Listening to Tri-Guy tell me about his latest triathlon, which in retrospect may be me.  (Three dates and crickets chirping sounds a little like a triathlon, doesn’t it?)

I enjoy the peaceful, easy feeling I get sitting on the back patio, listening to Lady Antebellum sing, watching the sun set over the back fence, while Nature Boy tells me about his day.  I’ve never spent time with anyone who makes me feel that relaxed.  I don’t know how our story ends.  But I know it isn’t finished yet.

The other guys range from eh to nice but none of them rise to the level of love.

So, if it isn’t love that’s making me lose my balance, what is?

The feast or famine business I’m in?  I’m happy to be in the feast phase still.  Happy and tired from working too many hours the last three months. Business is definitely a frontrunner of my balance-stealing suspects.

Stress and Anxiety are running amok like evil twins.  Silent ninjas stealing my equilibrium.   I stood in the woods at the National Whitewater Center Saturday.  Instead of enjoying the peaceful feeling I normally experience surrounded by nature, all I felt was tight-chested anxiety.  I worried so much about falling down the hill, I didn’t enjoy the walk to the river.  Worried so much, I fell right as I got to the bottom of the hill.

I’ve been worried about my balance all week.  Worried about being too tired, too stressed, too anxious.  When I ended up flat on my butt, I wasn’t even surprised.  I didn’t spend any time trying to figure out how I fell.  The how isn’t relevant.  Balance is everything.  I just worked on getting back on my feet and cleaning up the aftermath.

Too much work, too many men, too much to do.  No wonder I went ass over teakettle again.

Time to pull back.  Find more help for the office.  Spend some time running, practicing yoga, meditating.  Sleeping.  Maybe putting some of the men on the back-burner.  Maybe all of them.

Or maybe not.

Question:  What do you do when you lose your balance?  Where do you find it?

are you tired of starting over yet?


Every morning, my iPhone wakes me up with a reminder.

If you're tired of starting over, stop giving up.

It reminds me to get up.  Keep moving.  Put on my running shoes.  Run if I can.  Walk if I can’t.

This is my Year of Balance.  But last year was my Year of Imbalance.  It included a saved stumble and a couple of successful falls.  (If you consider a broken finger and a twisted ankle to be successful, that is.)

The stumble made me realize how badly I want someone walking beside me through life.  Someone quick enough and strong enough to catch me when I fall.

The falls showed me I haven’t found that person yet.

Even though I was married over twenty years, I’ve never had that kind of a catch-me-when-I-fall relationship.

The falls took a toll on me physically.  It’s hard to run with a broken finger.  It’s impossible to run if you twist your ankle and throw your hips out of alignment by about two inches.

I finished my first two 5Ks last fall.  By November, I could barely walk half a mile without my hip and shin complaining.

Thankfully sweet JZ came my office.  She pulled and pushed my legs around, and pretty much yanked me back into alignment.  Twice.

I’m tired of starting over.  So this time, I’m not going to quit.  After walking sporadically for the last month, I’m back on the Ease into 5K program.  Skipped straight to week 3.  Hoorah!

Ease into 5K used to be called Couch to 5K.  Honestly, the old name was more accurate for me.  When I started C25K last year, I was literally coming from the couch to work my way up to 5K.

Maybe this year the new name is more appropriate.  Maybe I’m not joining the race from the couch this time. Maybe I’m easing back into the race from the sidelines.

Woman running under blue sky with clouds and sun

So far this week, I’ve run 18 minutes out of three miles spread over two days.  (Don’t confuse that with an 18 minute 5K – which many of my friends can do.  I’m the 60 minute 5K girl.  At my peak.)

I wish it were as easy to get my love life back into shape.

I’ve had fun learning to be single again.  I’m having fun dating Little Boy, Honey Baby and the rest of the motley crew of men who cross my path.

Laugh out loud fun, actually.

But I’m ready to find the one who’ll catch me when I fall.

I’m ready to find the one who will inspire me to stop giving up.  Because I’m tired of starting over.

Question:  Are you tired of starting over yet?  What makes you keep going?

who do you see when you look in the mirror?


Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

fit athletic woman

I have a friend, my beautiful Colorado Girl.  She is disciplined enough to work out at home.  Cross fit.  Running.  Weight lifting.  Hot yoga.

I’ve been in a yoga class with her.  I’ve seen her in a sports bra and the little, stretchy shorts hot yoginis wear.

You could bounce a quarter off her abs.  She’s got guns like you wouldn’t believe!  

I would love to have her body!  (Just not enough to work that hard.)

I think to myself, If that’s what I saw when I looked in the mirror, I’d be so happy.”

And yet, my sweet friend, my beautiful Colorado Girl, doesn’t seem to see the same person I see.  The beautiful, hard body her sedentary friend envies.

She compares herself to people who are taller, younger, smaller-boned, less muscular.

She is so much more than her hard body, too.  She’s smart and funny.  She’s a single mama who works from home so she can raise her four children.  She’s a faithful friend and devoted daughter.

She’s God’s child and stands in front of him at church, her hands raised in the air to call to him, to praise him.

She’s as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

I wish she could see herself through my eyes.

I wonder who she sees when she looks in the mirror.  Does she see the finely sculpted body?  The soul that shimmers with her love for God, family and friends?

Gift wrapped with Markel's bow

Courtesy Markel’s Card & Gift Shop

I wish you could gift confidence and self-esteem to someone else.  Wrap it up in a box with the prettiest, flowery wrapping paper.  Tie it with a giant, flashy, red and green Markel’s bow.

Watch her slide the bow off the box, because it’s too pretty to cut.

See her slice through the tape holding the pretty paper together.

Slide off the top and watch confidence shimmer up out of the box and envelope her.

See self esteem rise up and seep into her skin.

Watch her stand up and walk away.  Look in mirror and see.  Finally see.

I am beautiful.  I am fit, healthy and toned.  I’m sweet, smart and funny.  I’m a child of my God.  An adored daughter to my parents.  A rock to my children.  I am Me.  And Me is pretty incredible.

Can’t you tell, my beautiful Colorado Girl?  That’s what the rest of us see when we look at you.

Question:  Who do you see when you look in the mirror?  Who does everyone else see? 

run, regina mae, run


I never thought of myself as an athlete.  As a child, reading was my sport of choice.  When mama sent me outside to play, I’d tuck a book into the waistband of my shorts and recline under a shade tree.  A tiny, delicate girl, nobody looked at me and thought, “there’s our next star athlete.”  When it came time to pick teams, I was a bargaining chip.  (You can have HIM if you take HER.)  Other than one very determined and seemingly misguided PE teacher, nobody made an effort to turn me into an athlete, either.

That changed when I started yoga three years ago.  My jelly donut of a belly tightened up.  I found my core!   I started believing in my body.

Last March, after two months of deliberation and hours setting up the perfect playlist on my iPod, I started walking.  My first walks were plodding half-mile affairs.  I moved at a snail’s pace from my house to the pool and back – half a mile.  Then I graduated up to the elementary school around the corner – a mile.  My time dropped from 26 minutes a mile to 22.  Then 19.  My distance increased to two miles. Then three.

Around that same time, some of the girls in my yoga class started running.  They inspired me so much that I decided to run, too!  In June, after talking to my friends and reading everything I could find on the Internet about running, I downloaded the Couch to 5K (C25K) app on my iPod.

C25K is a great way for beginners to become runners.  Three times a week for eight weeks takes you from nine one-minute runs interspersed with 90-second walks to running for thirty straight minutes.

The higher the temperatures rose, the farther I ran.  My easy, every day run became the mile and a half loop around my neighborhood.  Weekend runs were two to three miles on Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.  It was the slowest run you’ve probably ever seen, but it got results.  I lost weight, my booty shrank, and the endorphin rush was out of this world!

To make sure I stayed on track, I signed up for two 5Ks:  the Lt. Dan 5K in Beaufort, SC, and the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure in Charlotte, NC.

It’s sad the Lt. Dan 5K organizers don’t have a trophy for last place finishes, because I earned it!  Thanks to shin splints that started in the first quarter mile of the race, I did my own personal portrayal of Forrest Gump (before the braces fell off), walking stiff-legged through the streets of downtown Beaufort.  My friend, Myrna, signed up the morning of the race and ran for the sole purpose of making sure I didn’t quit.  I wish I could say I’d have finished either way.  Honestly, without her pushing, prodding and encouragement, I’m pretty sure I would have joined the crowd lining our downtown streets and waited on the parade to start.

Myrna and I after the Lt. Dan 5K

Luckily, I signed up for both races early, because the dead-last finish would have discouraged me from signing up for another 5K in this decade…or lifetime!  Whatever.

Carita, Astrid and I decked out for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was a much easier event.  My baby sister, Carita, her beautiful daughter, Astrid, and I walked along with seventeen thousand other participants.  (Yep – 17,000!)  We finished solidly in the middle of the pack.  No shin splints!  No last place finishes!  That sure felt like success to me.

In the last year, I’ve walked and run over 200 miles.

I dropped my time from 26 minutes/mile to 18 minutes/mile.

I finished two 5Ks.

I learned about myself in the process.

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

I love running alone on deserted, residential streets late at night, or through a national wildlife preserve, communing with the alligators and egrets.

Getting fitted for the right shoes is as essential as sweat-wicking panties!

No matter how much my body wants to quit, my knee complains, my shin shrieks, the endorphin rush waiting for me at the finish line is worth the effort.

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 2011

There is no worse feeling than watching the pack recede further and further into the distance.  My times for my races were within two minutes of each other.  But psychologically, it’s easier for me to be crammed into the middle of a swelling pack of humanity than trailing stiff-legged behind a small crowd of much fitter and faster athletes.

It is essential to practice your parade smile and wave, just in case the parade catches up to you!  (And thanks again to the nice Beaufort Police Department officer who trailed me in his squad car, lights flashing, to make sure the parade didn’t overtake me!)

The last runner gets the loudest applause!  Mostly because the crowd knows the parade starts next, but still…I take my wildly infectious, foot-stomping, clapping, shouting encouragement any way I can get it!

Best of all, I learned that frail, skinny little girl who was me is an athlete.

I am an athlete.  I am a runner.  My run may not look like yours, but it doesn’t have to.  It just has to look like mine.

Question:  What have you done lately to expand your idea of yourself?  How have you taken the idea of who you are and turned it on its head?  And if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for?

be still and know: 5 lessons learned in the stillness


“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10a

 

I am rarely still.  I start the day in motion and end the day in motion, filling each moment with as much activity as I can.  Some nights, I’m not even still in my sleep – I can tell by the pillows thrown on the floor, quilts laying askew on my bed, and the dark circles under my eyes.

Yet, it is in the stillness where lessons are learned, the still small voice is heard, peace is felt and your inner pilot light is found.

  • Be still in chaos.  A couple of summers ago, I took a quick weekend vacation to Disney with a girlfriend.  It was the middle of summer, too hot to take children through the park. But it was the perfect weather to go to the water park.  Amidst crowds of red-faced parents and over-excited children, I drifted around and around the lazy river.  Fingers and toes trailing in the cold water, head thrown back to see the sunlight dappling through tree leaves.  As I lazily swirled around in my tube, that still small voice in my head said, “BE still and know that I am God.  Be STILL and know that I am God.  Be still and KNOW that I am God.  Be still and know that I AM GOD.”  And I was still.  And I knew that He is God.  I needed that reminder that day.  On the five-hour drive to Orlando, my friend and I agreed we were leaving our problems (which were mighty and weighty) at the Georgia state line.  If necessary, we’d pick them up, like unwelcome hitchhikers, on our way back home.  Maybe that’s why God’s voice could make it through all the clutter and chaos to be heard so clearly that day. Or maybe it was the stillness.
  • Be still in stress.   Even as fast as I move, some days I cannot keep up with the demands of my office.  When I get to my desk in the morning, there are already forty-two emails and half a dozen voice mail messages, all demanding my immediate attention.  Files rise on my desk like high-rise condos, blocking my view of the world.  I’m like a chicken, being plucked one feather at a time.   On those days, being able to find a few minutes of stillness make the difference between sanity and insanity.  I’ve been known to lie on my office floor, legs reclined up the wall in the classic yoga pose Viparita Karani (legs up the wall).  Just a few minutes of stillness, my legs up the wall, calms my mind, letting me get back into the fray stress-free.
  • Be still in motion.  I started walking last April.  Nice, slow half-mile walks.  The months progressed and the miles added up.  In July, I graduated to the slowest run in the history of running.  The half-mile walk became a mile and a half run on week days and a slow, easy 5K on weekends.  The hotter it was outside, the later I ran, until I ended up going out at 9:30 or later most nights. Nobody around, the neighborhood dogs settled in for the night, it was just me and the Carolina moon.  I’d run along at my baby pace and pour out my heart to God.  In my darkest days, I felt like God had turned His back on me.  In the stillness of those hot Carolina nights, I found Him again.
  • Be still in heartache.  Everyone has had their heart broken, by their lover or spouse, their children, God or life.  I’m not special or unique.  My heartbreak isn’t worse than anyone else’s.  Not deeper, or more painful.  But it was complete and devastating.   And it taught me lessons I’ll never forget.  Pain can have physical weight, weighing you down as surely as concrete in your shoes.  When you don’t have the strength to take another step, lie to another soul about how you’re doing just fine, pretend for one more minute that your heart is just fine, just stop. Be still.  Crawl into bed, curl up in the fetal position and do not move an inch.  The pieces of my heart were stitched back together in the stillness of those nights spent curled in my bed.
  • Be still in grief.  Some days, life is so easy it feels like standing on the edge of the ocean watching the waves effortlessly come and go.  Other days, grief sneaks up on me in giant, crashing waves,  catching me and dragging me into the undertow, sand swirling around my head so thickly it blocks out the sun. Grief for the life I thought I’d have.  Grief for the marriage I fought for and lost.  Anyone who lives near the ocean knows the fear of being caught up in the undertow and swept away.  Grief is like that – it catches you when you least suspect it and sweeps you away from your life and your loved ones.  Anyone who lives near the ocean also knows if the undertow catches you, the best thing you can do is be still and watch your air bubbles.  They always float toward the surface.  If you are still, you can float to the surface, too.

I am rarely still.  But I’ve learned the value in being still because in the stillness lies the knowing.

Question:  When is the last time you were still?  What lessons were waiting for you?