Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My first half marathon journey

 As most people know, I've been a runner for my entire life. I was a sprinter and jumper in high school and college, which was almost 10 years of my life. I wasn't the biggest fans of long distance running at the time. Anything more than 3 miles was the worst, and I didn't like it, but I would do it. I wasn't ever the fastest distance runner, but I could do it and always feel good about being done. Never did I think that I could run more than 4-5 miles in one sitting. They do say to never say never (and they'd be right). 

I'm 5 days out from my first half marathon. It's not the Hershy Half like I thought (I waited too long to sign up), but will be the Gettysburg Blue-Gray Half. The cool part about this race: you get to pick if you want to run for the North or the South! I'm running for the North (hey, I'm forever a Connecticut girl) and if the North wins, I get a commemorative mug for our side winning the race (though we all know that the North won the battle). 

I'm not going to lie and say that my months of training has been all sunshine and rainbows, because it hasn't, but it has been rewarding in its own way. Mentally, training sucked. I hated my long runs, but it was made tolerable by the fact I could listen to music and let my mind get carried away with the beat. I later learned that earbuds are not allowed to be worn during the race and to be considerate of other runners, I'd have to learn to run music-free. Eek! My first long run without music was hard. My mind kept wandering to places I don't like it to go (i.e. negative thoughts), but I'd give myself a mental pep talk and the thoughts would go away. After a while, the long runs wouldn't seem so bad anymore and once the leaves started changing, I would be able to enjoy natures beauty and the quiet of the trail I like to run on and appreciate what's around me. 

Now, 5 miles is almost easy (almost), I sing in my head, and am more aware of my surroundings. Come race day, I think I'm mentally ready. Physically is a whole other beast. Cardiovasuclar wise, I can handle the distance. My body, not so much. I'm still dealing with some residual pain and cramping in my right leg from my Achilles injury last year, but that's an easy fix for me. The thing that worries me to most is I've been having pain in my left foot and my symptoms are similar to turf toe (self diagnosis for now) for the past few weeks. I'm resting and icing as much as is possible for me, I've worn my walking boot for a day to immobilize my toe, and cut my running back severely. I had two goals in mind for this race. My first was to finish as it is my first, and my second was to stay under a 12 minute mile pace (the max time allowed is a 13:44 mile pace). While I would like to accomplish my second goal, I'm okay with the fact that I may not be able to keep that time, but I am determined to finish within the 3 hour limit.

Come race day, who knows how I will feel or where I'll be mentally, but what I do know is that I've become much stronger through this journey, and would be one I'd do again. Healthy and injury free would be nice the next time around though. Who knew that I would be gearing up for a half marathon in 5 days? It certainly wasn't me, but I'm glad I am. 

Pre race pic from my first race since June 2012

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My final month in my 20's!

I have 17 days left until I'm no longer a 20-something year old. Cue the sigh!

I recently read an article about how you learn a lot about yourself in your twenties, and looking back on the last 9+ years, I'd say that it's pretty accurate for many areas of my life.

When turning 20, I was a junior at Springfield College in Massachusetts. I was starting my 3rd year of studying to become a PE teacher, my 3rd season as part of the women's track and field team, and was in a new relationship. I also got braces over spring break that year, won the long jump for the first time in college (it was a crappy and cold day, making it all the better to say), and found myself to becoming more confident in myself. The last statement was a big deal for me because I used to be a very shy, quiet, introvert who let others walk all over me. Although I was being less and less so since entering college, I finally got the proverbial "stones" and decided to not let it happen anymore (I did turn into a total biotch for a time, but I learned to tone it down). I also ran my first ever 5K, the Jolly Jaunt, and earned myself some extra credit in my adapted PE class (more on this later).

21st year: I'm finally legal!!!!!!! Although I had to wait till all my peeps returned to campus to celebrate (yes, I was already on campus to celebrate the actual day solo due to having training for my job working for the campus police), my girls made it awesome! I finished my college career with a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree in physical education, ended on a high note with my SCWTF girls, made some awesome memories, and was looking forward to my summer before grad school started. I'm pretty sure I was summoned for jury duty too in MA (which sucked cause I had just moved home), but wasn't needed. I worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor for the Valley Shore YMCA since the camp didn't need me, and made some good friends there too. I'm sure I got into trouble as all small town kids do at one point, but I'll just leave it at that.

All the years between then and now:

Some of the highs: I no longer have braces, but nice straight teeth (yay!), my sister gave me a kitten for my 24th birthday, I bought a new car, started a new relationship (he's now my husband of 3+ years), finished grad school, and taught high school PE for a year. I moved halfway across the country to South Bend, Indiana where the bf got his first professional job, got my personal training and group fitness certifications,  got MARRIED to the most awesome man of all, ran my first 10K, moved back East to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, coached track at the college level, and much, much more.

Some of the lows: That relationship from when I was 20 was no more when I was 23 (but hey, I met my husband that same year so that's a win, right?), I was in a major car accident, and I have permanent disabilities in my neck and back from that accident (but I'm still fit as can be despite having limitations!). There's others, but these are the ones that have some significance with my 20's.

What I've learned about myself over the past 10 years:
I am a resilient person. I am a strong person. I can be fierce. I'm persistent. I don't quit. I have friends and family who are supportive and act as my rocks. I may have been a shy introvert, but over the past 10 years, I've definitely gotten out of my shell. I've become more confident in myself and my abilities, though I still need the occasional validation that I am doing a good job. I've proven that I can be a survivor and become physically stronger and more fit than I was prior to my car accident. I can still run and am training for my first ever half marathon that I hope to run in just over 9 weeks. I've learned that with the right people in your life, anything is possible with a little encouragement, the right motivation, and a determination that would scare someone other than you.

I may not have achieved at least one goal that I have hoped for yet (in case you're wondering, I want a full time job, but doing something I love, which is why I still am a part-timer), but I do have a job that I enjoy doing. I get to meet great people, become the rock and motivator for my clients, see a child explode with happiness for accomplishing a task during swim lessons, and teach both kids and adults new things about being physically fit. My dreams are not what I thought they would be when I was 20, but they're different and I think better for me. I'm not done dreaming yet! I have a few more goals/bucket list items I want to do, but all in due time I suppose.

To cap off my 20's, I will finish the same way I started, by doing something I love: running. I ran for the track team (and got to play in the sand frequently), I did my first ever 5K, the Jolly Jaunt, back in December of 2004 at 20, ran many 5K's since (including one in a walking boot!), ran my first 10K, the Sunburst, at 27, and will join the Color Vibe on August 30th, 2014: my last day as a 29 year old. At 30, I'm hoping to finish my first ever half marathon, the Hershey Half, in Hershey, PA. I think my 30's will be the new 20's for me: a time for growing, learning, and pushing my limits and expectations that I previously had for myself. Cheers!

Friday, June 27, 2014

I'm definitely doing worse in the blogging dept....

So much for trying to write a blog more often!

My last one was 6 months ago, and much has happened! I now teach 10+ TRX Suspension Training classes a week, a few Crossfit classes (yes, the Y I work at is a licensed facility), and have a bunch of clients! I've also recently been certified as a American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor! Boy does that certification list of mine keep growing!

On another less perky note, I've made the hard decision to not go back to teaching for a school. My parents weren't thrilled with that decision seeing as I have two degrees because I wanted to work for a school, but I had to make that choice and here's why. The last time I taught for a school district was the 2008-2009 school year. It's 2014. I haven't been able to find any teaching job in 5 years. I'm told I'm qualified but over educated, and have had to come to the understanding that the last two places I've lived (South Bend, IN and Carlisle, PA) it's not about how good or qualified you are as a teacher, but it's who you know and whether or not you're a local. This last statement may not be true to many places, but it's very frustrating and difficult trying to find a teaching job when I'm new to an area. Don't get me wrong, I love what I currently do, but I still miss teaching and seeing the smiles on students faces when they achieve success, no matter how small. While I've been teaching PE for homeschooled kids the past 5 years, it's just not the same, but I still get those same rewards.

I got many things out of my degrees which have helped me in the fitness industry, including having the ability to not be like any other instructors I work with. I teach my classes, both on land and in the pool, very differently. I understand the various styles of learning, have my bag of tricks, and have a lot of patience, to teach kids and adults. I also have a pretty good understanding of human anatomy, nutrition, and gained tons of experience (good and not so good) on what works and doesn't work during instruction. But, I do not intend to stop learning and growing as a person and professional. So for me, it's adios to working for a school and hello to the world of being a fitness professional! I'm looking forward to the road ahead and what lies in store for me!

Maybe I'll start posting some of my workouts to see who wants to workout with me and give some ideas to some determined people!