Sunday, January 20, 2013

YOLO


Sometime around the end of last spring, I started hearing people toss around that mnemonic device, YOLO. If you aren’t aware, it stands for You Only Live Once. My initial interpretation of this acronym, coined by a rapper named Drake, was that it was encouraging people to live for the moment. Living for the moment obviously implies that the consequences of tomorrow really don’t matter. Live how you want, perhaps live recklessly—get covered in stupid tattoos, sleep with whomever, drink until the sun comes up--because YOLO!?! This mentality REALLY annoyed me. The message is just all wrong. The last thing people need in the 21st century is any encouragement to make poor choices!

As I was reflecting on 2012 and planning out my 2013, believe or not, YOLO kept popping in my head. But this time, I had a new interpretation that may be a bit different from the original intention of the acronym. Yes, You Only Live Once. That being said, the consequences of tomorrow ARE significant, and should shape the decisions we make today. Life moves really fast, although most things that are worth anything require a great deal of time, work, and patience. That being said, the most important thing we can do with our life, considering YOLO, is do the best that can with what we have. And, no matter what the circumstances are or how long it takes, we have to continue to move forward to make the most of the time we do have. Otherwise, life is just one big waste of time!
Wasting time by living a passive life is just not an option for me, nor should it be for anyone. My goal for 2013 is to move aggressively forward towards making a difference in my own life and the lives of others…because YOLO! So, how do I plan on accomplishing this incredibly broad goal? I have broken it down to some small goals that I plan on working on every day which will build up and help support some additional big goals that I hope to accomplish.

My small goals are to continue working diligently towards being the best teacher, sister, aunt, daughter, friend and runner that I can be. I’m going to work hard on being patient with others (and myself!). This includes being less judgmental and more understanding of the actions and circumstances of others (and myself!). I also want to continue to stay balanced in all of my many life roles. It’s very easy to get caught up in one role and neglect others; I would like to avoid that! Additionally, I want to worry less about the things I don’t have, and focus more on the blessings that I do have because…YOLO! Life is too short to be stressed out about things we can’t control. God has it figured out; we just need to keep moving faithfully forward.

My big goals are to run the Cleveland Marathon this May in 3:10 (YEP, BIG GOAL) and to run it for more purpose than my own selfish desire for a BIG personal record. I plan on raising money for a charity that really hits home for me- Wigs For Kids. Coincidentally, I ran (and WON!) the Wigs For Kids 5k at the CLE Zoo in the summer of 2011. It was very hilly and by far one of the most challenging 5ks I’ve run. I recently learned that a very courageous student of mine is a spokesperson for Wigs For Kids. I also learned that she has Alopecia, which is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. She never let on that she had this condition, let alone was a representative of the organization. I was so moved by her kindness, positive attitude, and bravery despite facing such a difficult hurdle in her young life.  She is such a great role model. I decided that I wanted to donate my hair on her behalf and hopefully inspire others to do the same! I also decided to raise money throughout my training for the CLE marathon for Wigs For Kids, specifically for hair replacement treatment! I am in the process of trying to get a hold of the right people to get the ball rolling—I can’t wait to get started!!! I am very passionate about making this happen (hence all of the exclamation marks) because…YOLO! I might as well do something to positively impact others as I'm training hard to positively impact myself!

And, my selfish goal for the CLE Marathon is to set a BIG personal record. My current P.R. is 3:16. 3:10 isn't exactly "lofty," and definitely in the realms of possibility. But, it's going to require serious dedication. Since I’ve stopped the beta blocker, I’ve been blowing myself away with my progress. I am trying to hold back as much as I can until my official training starts on the 28th, but it’s been difficult! Greg McMillan has my 16 week plan all set up for me, and it’s totally different than anything I’ve ever done before. I’m going to put 110% of myself into it, and am looking forward to seeing what I get out of it! Throughout my training, I will be running the St. Malachi 5 miler in Cleveland, Just a Short Run ½ Marathon near Pittsburg at the end of March, and the Nike Women’s ½ Marathon in D.C. at the end of April. Additionally, I’ll likely run a few 5ks at various points throughout my training. I’m really hoping to break 1:30 in the half marathon and 19:00 in the 5k. These goals aren’t too steep and are definitely realistic. But, they do require serious hard work and perseverance. The time is now to aggressively push forward to make these happen because…YOLO!

Also, because YOLO, I’m going to be running responsibly this spring. That means listening to my body ALL of the time. I will not be in the hospital this spring—that’s another goal of mine!! Overall, I want to focus on being healthy and treating my body right because…YOLO! Hahahaa J

There are so many things exciting me about this spring, including coaching my sister for her marathon debut! She will be running the Cleveland Marathon, as well as the other half marathons I am running this spring. She is a naturally gifted runner, and I truly believe she can qualify for Boston. Who knows...Boston 2014!?! I will be encouraging her to shoot for this goal because…YOLO!

So, here’s my message with this blog post: always remember YOLO. You get ONE life. You can either do nothing with it, or you can do something amazing with it. Time is going to pass regardless. Don’t let it pass you by. If you have a goal, the time is now to get started. You may not get there right away, but if you work hard enough and consistently enough…you just might get there! And, if not, you will have had one heck of a journey with a great story to tell, which is better than doing nothing at all!
I'm not exactly sure what Drake's true intentions are, but I think he just MIGHT be on to a pretty positive movement. In case I haven’t said it enough: YOLO, folks. YOLO. J

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thunderstruck in 2013!


Goodbye 2012—hello 2013! I’m very excited and eager to begin a new year! 2012 was an interesting year filled with the usual peaks and descents that we’ve all experienced. I had intuition going into 2012 that it was going to be a challenging year, but I had no idea that I would have had some of the challenges I was faced with. But, as always, I have learned from those challenges and they have helped shape the direction I would like to take my life in 2013!

I’ve learned that size matters. Okay, okay, "that's what she said." But, it really does! Upon the recommendation of the well-respected running sales guy at Fleet Feet, I went down a size in my running shoes. I should have been a bit more skeptical, but stuck the small size out.  Within a few months, I learned that if you are squeezing into shoes that are too small, you are bound to have ugly feet. Plus, you are bound to have ugly and uncomfortable running experiences. I went all of 2012 until September with shoes that were too small. This is not the mistake of the sales guy, but of me for foolishly wearing shoes that were too small! As soon as I made the switch, it was like I was a new runner. My entire body felt better and naturally I was running better. Pretty simple, eh? I’d say my small shoe experience was metaphoric of other life experiences I’ve had in the past year. Even if the shoe is pretty, you can’t squeeze it on and expect it to fit. Sometimes it’s as simple as just going out there and getting new shoes. It doesn’t have to be complicated! You can take recommendations from others, but ultimately you know what shoe fits you most comfortably. And, well, you are the one wearing the shoes for miles upon miles so you might as well get the shoe that YOU think fits you best! The best comes when you have finally have the right fitting shoe. You will soon forget about those old shoes (well, after your toe nails come back). Eventually your toe nails will come back, and those blisters on the bottom of your feet will heal. It might take some time, but have faith because your feet WILL rejuvenate! It’s that simple; make sure you wear the right shoe. It’s amazing how great you can run and what you can accomplish if you take the time to ensure that the shoe fits!

If you’ve followed my blog over the past year, you know I have had my fair share of health mysteries that have impaired my training and ability to successfully run this year. I’ve been scared to push it and have been taking a beta-blocker. There has been no explanation for what happened last spring or the year prior, but I was told to “try” the beta-blocker and see if it helps. I didn’t pass out again this year, but the beta-blocker has had some negative side-effects on my body and in my life.  My training over the summer was totally shot and therefore my racing this fall was far below my expectations. After my sub-par fall and terrible Columbus Marathon experience, I was bombarded with nightmares. Columbus left me feeling obsessively reflective of what happened to the highly-spirited, energetic runner I used to be. I analyzed everything, and identified one thing that had to be holding me back from being the runner and person I am—the beta blocker. After a pathetic experience at the Pig Skin 5k in late November and a great deal of research, I decided it was time to stop taking it. Although the race was on the day of the first snow fall of CLE, it was FREEZING cold and windy, I was sick, and my Garmin was busted, I had a terrible 5k experience that was unlike any other. All other factors aside, I truly feel that the beta-blocker has been the heavy weight holding me back since April. So, the next morning, I didn’t take it. Within the next few days, I overall just felt better. I had more energy, felt more alert, and immediately saw improvement in my running. By the following weekend, I ran the Reindeer Run 5k and felt thunderstuck! I felt as if I finally woke up after being asleep for eight months. I ran a 19:42, and felt like I could have pushed for a faster time but held back. I was nervous being beta-blocker-less, but I’m not entirely convinced that it’s really been helping me anyways. Since I’ve stopped taking it, I’ve felt awesome. I have so much energy and feel like myself! I have been flying through my runs (probably too fast for this being my off season, but I can’t hold back after the pathetic paces I was stuck running this fall) and I have never felt better. Plus, my lips are no longer purple, I’m not constantly freezing cold, and I’ve been digesting food better! I’m cautious of the symptoms that led to my black outs last spring, and will be careful with my training this spring. If I feel like I’m going to pass out, I will stop running (YES, I WILL!).

So, what is the plan for this spring? Personal Records. Yep, I’m ready to make something amazing happen this year. I have so much stored potential energy, and if I use it just right I am bound to P.R.! Although in most respects I am disappointed with my 2012 running experiences, I am grateful in others. The beta blocker forced me to take a step back in my running intensity, whether or not I liked it, and I haven’t felt more of a desire to put in the time and effort to successfully reach my goals as I do right now. Failure always frustrates me, but simultaneously invigorates me to make sure I get it right the next time (or eventually, for that matter!).

I was lucky enough to get into the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. in April with my sister! I am SO excited to take part in an amazing girl-power event, earning a Tiffany’s necklace as my finisher’s medal!  Following that, I plan to run the Cleveland Marathon in May. I also plan to run a few 5ks and 5 mile races in between. I have been following Hal Higdon’s Advanced-2 Marathon Training Program, and have had a great deal of success using it. However, at this point, this plan has become stale to me. I’m ready to step it up! From the recommendation of a very successful and kind local running buddy, I will be using a Greg McMillan 16-week training plan specialized just for me! I am excited to see what he comes up with for me. I’m ready to mix things up, work harder than ever before, and achieve running times I’m proud of!

I contemplated trying out Cross-Fit this winter. However, upon more research, it is not for me. Although I hope to get more fit and do more weight training (eventually), Cross-Fit is just too extreme for me. My true love is running. I love pushing myself to the maximum running on the roads, or on the track, or on the treadmill, or on huge hills, or wherever! I don’t get bored and I always finish thinking about my next run. Runner is who I am and what I love. I am not willing to substitute it for anything else unless I have to!

My intuition is telling me that 2013 is going to be an awesome year---if I choose to make it that way! I don’t expect 2013 to be a perfect year; that would be foolish. However, I do expect to accomplish great things for others and myself because I will do whatever it takes to do so. I feel thunderstruck and I can’t wait to get this year started—HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!

Oh, and feel free to follow me on Twitter throughout my running adventures @ RunLikeAGirl223 since I can never seem to keep my blog up-to-date!