Sunday, October 25, 2015

Starting over. Again!

Some of the most exciting parts of life, which are simultaneously some of the most terrifying, are the constant new beginnings. Sometimes, these new beginnings come at that perfect moment and conveniently fill the void of another door closing. Often times, they come when we least expect them. They blind side us, forcing us to rely on faith and hope that we are prepared to face the seemingly insurmountable challenges that lie ahead of us.  Regardless of the timing, life has taught me the humbling lesson that starting over again, again, and again is just how it is, and that in some way, shape, or form, I grow into a better version of  myself because of it. 

In March of 2014, I decided to start my second Master’s degree. Timing was awful; I was finishing the design of a new Anatomy and Physiology curriculum I was teaching at school, preparing a new AP Environmental Science curriculum that I would be working on the following school year, and training for a “comeback” marathon that spring. Everything in my head was telling me there was no way I would be able to balance all of these challenges, but I had this feeling deep down in my heart that I had to do it. There’s never a “right” time to take risks, particularly ones that are as demanding as earning another degree, and there are a million reasons to not do something hard. But it’s that one right reason coming from your heart that trumps all the excuses and negativity, and sheds light on the possible. So I decided to follow my heart, take a day at a time, and focus simply on doing the best I could with the task at hand each day. 

It was a challenging path in ways I expected and in ways I never could have imagined. I most certainly did not anticipate breaking my leg within the first two months of starting this degree, and had no sight of all of the subsequent road blocks that were ahead because of it. But even with hurdles set in my way, I just kept my focus on moving forward, one hurdle at a time. Despite falling flat on my face a few times, usually because I was too focused on hurdles a head of me rather than the ones right in front of me, I got back up. I kept going. And, with this mentality and my amazing family to support me along the way, I did it. I earned my second Master’s degree in Educational Leadership! And since earning this degree, the new beginnings keep rolling in. I have taken on several leadership positions and am now the chairperson of the science department at my high school. Taking this uncomfortable plunge that seemed out of reach was by far one of the best decisions I made for my life.  I learned so much, gained a great deal of confidence in myself both personally and professionally, and have an immense amount of new doors that are now open for my future.

I have my greatest teacher, running, to thank for teaching me the invaluable life lessons that I have applied to all aspects of my life. If you have been following my running career, you know that it is has been filled with undulating setbacks and comebacks. After 10 months without running and 17 months without training, my first few steps back into training came the day following my completion of my Master’s degree. My confidence was still shaky after a long recovery hiatus, but taking those first few steps forward led to a 5k personal record of 18:51, an Akron Half Marathon course personal record of 1:30:05, and a 3rd place overall female finish at the Tow Path Half Marathon in 1:28:10. Although life has me most certainly exhausted, I am feeling better and stronger than ever.  In fact, I seriously considered running the Philadelphia Marathon at the end of November. Everything I have been through has helped me gain so much confidence and faith in myself, and I am eager to get stronger and put my ability to the test. But after some pretty overwhelming sensations of fatigue overcoming me the week following the Akron Half Marathon, I decided that a marathon this fall was not something I had in me. If I’m going to put my body through 26.2 miles again, it’s going to be for quality, not quantity, and will require preparation that I won’t have in me by the end of this year. All I can say is: you LIVE and you LEARN!

Rather than calling this a “comeback”or a "crawlback" for that matter, it seems more appropriate to refer to it as just another part of my journey. Or starting over...AGAIN! I still have a great deal of hurdles in my way; I will always have to be cautious of injury with my bone density issues, and will also always have to be cautious of passing out with my migraine issues. The fear and anxiety that come along with those hurdles are burdens I carry with me along every single run. But I can’t rationalize letting those hurdles, fears, and anxiety hold me back. Rather, I am choosing to be careful with the decisions I make, to be mindful of the messages my body gives me, to focus on one hurdle at a time, and above all, to listen to my heart as I move forward. I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but I am so beyond grateful for each run along the way! 

Thank you so very much to everyone for supporting me throughout my journey, especially my above-and-beyond incredible family. Without this support, none of what I have accomplished would have been possible. I love you all and can’t express enough how much all of the kind words and encouragement means to me. God has blessed me in more ways than I ever could have prayed for. In return, I promise to do my best each day to be the best of who He’s made me to be and to give of myself to others in any way possible.  

Here’s to my journey: starting over, AGAIN! Happy Fall, everyone!!!!! 

My Crawlback :-)

March 9, 2015

Followed my heart today, and ran for the first time in over 10 months! I got in four consecutive miles...and I'm so excited to say that it felt AWESOME! I just wanted to fly. It was SO great to feel great! I'm not sure what the future holds for running and me, but I feel like we've finally found our peace. Running is a gift, and like all things in life, should be appreciated with moderation. I have learned so much over these 10 months, and am so very grateful for my renewed perspective. I will never take a single step for granted. ☺Had to celebrate with my favorite recovery food, because why not?!? #RunHappy because #LifeisGood

May 15, 2015

Stopped by Achilles in Mentor today and got my first new pair of running shoes in over a year! I'm currently running 3-4 times a week, focusing on running for comfort and fitness. I haven't started training again although my orthopedic doctor gave me the green light to do so about a month ago. I've contemplated hopping into a 5k to test my current fitness level, but I don't want my drive (aka craz...iness 😜LOL) to take over and end up pushing my body to do something it isn't ready for yet. Giving my recovery the same commitment and patience I gave my training REALLY paid off, so any type of comeback will follow suit. So, for now, I'm just focusing on running free, healthy, and HAPPY!!! Here's to new running shoes!!!

September 7, 2015

Today, I pinned a bib on for the first time in almost 17 months! Going into this race on a hot, humid day with only 3 weeks of training in me, I had no expectations beyond getting in a solid workout based solely on feel. I felt no nerves, no worries, and kept thinking of Pope Francis's sweet smile and kind doe eyes as he told a young girl to "Be Courageous!" in his 20/20 interview on Friday. With his words in my ear, the heat and humidity seemed to loosen me up to crushing my personal record and pulling me into the sub-19:00 category!!! YEP, I BROKE 19:00!!! And I earned myself 1st Place Overall Female in 18:51, 6:04min/mi, in one of my all-time favorite communities, CLE Heights, for an awesome cause, Operation Smile!!! Each setback throughout my running career has taught me so much. Taking every second I needed to recover was the best decision I made for my health and my running. Assuming everything stays in tact, I'm planning on running the AkRun Half Marathon at the end of the month. That is my goal, but I've learned that in life there are no guarantees. I will be taking one run at a time, seeing how I feel, and moving forward from there. Here's to running smart, strong, and with COURAGE!!!!

September 26, 2015

It was a beautiful morning for the AkRun Half Marathon! Going into this race, my confidence was a little shaky. I ran a solid 5k a fews ago and my training has been spot on, but with only 6 weeks in after so much time off I wasn't sure if a PR (sub 1:27) was a realistic goal. Despite feeling a bit insecure, I decided to "Be Courageous!," go for it, and just take one mile at a time and see what comes of it. The first few miles felt great, but I was really moving. By the time I hit the 5k mark, I was well under 20:00 and knew that I had gone out too fast. By the time I hit mile 4, I was tapped. I'm not sure I've ever hit a wall in a half marathon like I did today; I REALLY wanted to quit. But I decided to readjust my pace, focus on hanging on for as long as I can, and move to plan B: forget the watch and run with my heart. Fortunately, plan B worked! I picked back up momentum and ran the rest of the race! It was tough to the finish, but I gave what I had in me to give and finished 1:30:05, 6:52min/mi, 16th female and 4th in my age group! I'm pleased with my progress thus far, overall I feel great, and I am confident moving forward from here! My speed is there, but I REALLY need to work on building back stamina. I will be running the Tow Path Half Marathon on October 11 to support @ampavicic as she embarks on her 1st half marathon, but I'm not sure yet if I will race it or casually run it. I'm just going to see what I'm feeling that day! I may consider the Philadelphia Marathon at the end of November, but I don't want to commit just yet. I'm am just so beyond grateful to be back and healthy, and want to be smart with my race decisions. Just gotta pray on it and follow my heart! CONGRATS to everyone who ran today! It was SO awesome to be apart of such a great event with so many amazing, inspirational people who I've missed so dearly!!!!

September 29, 2015

We never really know what the future holds; life can change so quickly. I'd like to send a big shout out to all the nurses, doctors, physical therapists, medical assistants, etc, for their patience, understanding, and care for the weak and vulnerable through their worst of times. I feel like I have so many people to thank for so many different reasons, but I am feeling so beyond grateful right now... for Dr. Cohn, and everyone in his practice, for all they did for me from the onset of my injury and throughout my recovery. We are never guaranteed our health, and can never take it for granted. Each run is truly a gift, and so I feel blessed than ever to post this #HealthySelfie from the Akron Half Marathon 2015!!!

October 11, 2015

Could not have had a more picture perfect day for the Tow Path Half Marathon! After a difficult pull to the finish in Akron two weeks ago and a crazy past few days, I decided to run this one for @ampavicic. My plan was to make her feel excited and confident about her race, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and let my legs push me as far as they wanted to go on the course. The great news is that worked out perfectly: we had a good amount of pre-race relaxation and hang out time, and the race was AWESOME! I LOVED running through CVNP, and was able to maintain a consistent, comfortable but solid pace, cruising to the finish in 1:28:10, 6:44min/mi, winning 3rd overall female! AND the BEST news is I got to spend some post-race QT with some of my favorite people, including my sweetheart nephews Luke and Tommy!!! It was such an awesome day after an awesomely adventurous weekend! And now, or at least at some point today, I will rest! Happy Sunday, everyone!