Sunday, April 28, 2013

Either I Can or I Can't

One week from right now, I should be a little over halfway through the course of the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon.  WOW!  I am so incredibly excited.  I cannot wait, yet at the same time I hope this week drags a little bit because I want to savor this feeling of eager anticipation. 

Yesterday morning I caught a few minutes of a news segment about people who have had near-death experiences.  One woman who survived malfunctioning equipment during a deep sea diving expedition shared a favorite saying of her husband:

Believe that you can or believe that you can't.
Either way, you're right.
There is so much truth in that saying.  As I have trained for next week's adventure, I have found that around miles 3 and 8 I have a little bit of a mental crisis - "You're crazy!  What were you thinking?  You can't do this.  Seriously Lisa?  You're going to make it 13.1 miles?  I don't think so."  It's during those moments that I consider stopping.  That brings me back to that moment of choice when I have to dig deep and push myself to keep going or walk off the course.  That moment of choice when I have to believe that I can or believe that I can't.
For me setting the goal of completing this Half-Marathon and training to accomplish that goal has meant so much more than simply lacing up my running shoes and striving to cross the finish line.  Pushing myself through those personal battles at miles 3 and 8 has made me more aware of those times in my everyday life - EVERYDAY life - when I must choose to push through a tough moment.  That has helped me to continue to BELIEVE THAT I CAN, even on the days that I want to lean towards I CAN'T.
Of course, I also aim to not lose sight of the One who initially got me started on this running journey three years ago and will carry me through the course to the finish line:
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if
Galatians 6:9

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Different Kind of Exercise for My Heart

I did something tonight that I have not done in a LONG time.  I made dinner for another family.  I even made them dessert!  Most nights I can barely get dinner on the table for my family - I served them half-frozen french fries last week when I made a quick stop at home to prepare dinner between picking Ellie up from her after-school running program and heading off to exercise. 

Today was a bad day.  Work was stressful.  Home was super stressful.  As a result I'm incredibly tired and feel like my legs weigh a hundred pounds each.  After getting home from my daughter's music lessons and making an easy dinner, I realized that I would never make it my Zumba class on time (I'm constantly walking in in the middle of the first song, but I would have been REALLY late tonight!).  The thought of going for a quick run briefly crossed my mind, but the rain made it too easy to not take action on that idea.  Instead I put my pj's on, crawled into bed, pulled the covers up to my nose and closed my eyes.  At 7:15PM I was tucked in bed ready to fall asleep. 

I dozed off for a few minutes and then woke with the memory that I had told my friend that I would bring her dinner tomorrow. 

"I'll just swing through KFC and pick-up a family meal,"  I thought.

"Better yet, I'll just give her the money so that she can swing through KFC and pick-up a family meal," was my next thought.  After all, my purpose in providing dinner was to give her a night off from cooking.  The drive-thru is considered a night off, right?

Then I pictured myself sitting on the curb this afternoon listening and crying with my friend as she shared with me what was going in her life.  I've said in the past that my stress is my stress - what stresses me out may not stress you out which is OK.  But I have to say that just listening to her story increased my stress level. 

Another friend who was sitting with us said, "What has happened to our society.  It used to be that when someone was struggling like this everyone would rally around and help."  After a long pause she continued, "I guess that's church.  This is work."

Her last statement really impacted me.  Should it matter if it's work versus church?  If I was in church I'd be offering to take the family a meal.  Organizing others to do the same.  Collecting helpful items.  I'd be jumping into action.  So why, in this moment, was I just sitting on the curb doing nothing? 

I turned to my friend and told her I would be providing dinner for her family tomorrow night.

Fast forward a few hours to me tucked comfortably in bed at 7:15PM.  Money for KFC would not work.  I was going to make them a meal. 

I dragged myself out of bed and into the kitchen to begin rummaging through the cupboards and freezer.  As I took stock of what I had on hand I began to get excited as different meal ideas came to mind.  Knowing there are young kids in the house, I decided on a Mac-n-Cheese Pizza Casserole.  Once that was prepared, my mind went to dessert.  Of course they would need dessert! 

As I type my kitchen is filled with the sweet scent of Devil's Food Cake Cookies . . . YUM!  I feel energized.  I'm looking forward to sharing these dishes with my friend's family tomorrow.  There is a smile on my face.  The stress from my bad day has disappeared.

So I'm not going to feel guilty about not getting any exercise in today.  While I didn't do any cardio, I definitely exercised my heart.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Definition of Winning

I recently had a conversation with my sister Meg and our Dad.  It was the night before we ran Just a Short Run where Meg ran the Half-Marathon and I ran the 8.1 mile.  Our Dad was sharing with us how proud he is of us for the hard work we have put in to accomplishing our running goals.  I made the comment, "There are people who have run much farther or have accomplished far greater things than running 8 miles."  I love my Dad's response to my statement - so much so that I wrote it down and posted it on where I can see it everyday.


My dad is right.  It is easy to slip into a place where I am comparing myself to others.  She runs faster than me.  She's skinnier than me.  He's accomplished more than me.  From that angle, it's easy to feel defeated.  Instead, I need to keep my mind in a place where I am comparing myself to me . . . comparing myself to where I have been and to where I want to go. 

At this moment in my life I am focused on completing a Half Marathon.  That is where I am going.  That will be my victory.  Where am I coming from?  I'm coming from that day 3 years ago when I couldn't run from my mailbox to my neighbor's mailbox without thinking my lungs were going to explode.  I'm coming from a pair of size 22 blue jeans.  I'm coming from spending most nights sitting on the couch with a bag of chips in my lap.  From that angle, it's easy to feel excited and proud.

My moment of victory is just two weeks away.  For me, crossing that Half-Marathon finish line will make me a winner.  It feels good to know that in my Dad's eyes I already am one!

My Dad with my daughter Ellie.

Meg and I after finishing Just a Short Run.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Fun, Simple & Very Effective Workout Idea for your Family

Last Saturday I was out on an early morning run and came across a Mom being followed by two elementary aged kids.  The kids were obviously not too happy to be out - heads hung low, scowls on their faces and dragging ten paces behind their mom.  The Mom was talking away, "You will NOT spend the entire day glued to the TV.  You WILL spend some time outside.  You WILL run around and play.  And you WILL stop complaining about it!"  I couldn't help myself.  I circled back around and as I ran past the family again I gave the Mom a Hi-Five cheering her on with a loud "You go Mom!" 

It was such a relief to know that I am not the only parent who struggles with getting her kids out of the house and in to the yard!  Every evening after dinner I'm encouraging and pleading and yelling to get them outside.  I must confess that at times I do enjoy the challenge of coming up with creative places to go and creative things for us to do.  

I entitled my most recent successful attempt Playing with the Queen of Hearts.  All you need is a deck of cards and six different stationary exercises (or however many you want to include!). 

Using sidewalk chalk, I set-up six Exercise Stations - jumping jacks, squats, ab twists while holding a basketball, bicep curls holding bocce balls, jump rope and toe taps using a soccer ball- in a circle in my driveway.  I placed the deck of cards in the middle of the circle.  Everyone picked a different station to start at.  We took turns picking a card.  Whatever number was drawn was the number of times you had to do the exercise.  Face cards were 10 repetitions.  Aces were 11 repetitions.  We counted out loud and did the reps together.  Once done, everyone moved clockwise one station and another card was drawn.  (I had removed the jokers, but my friend Dana shared the idea with me that if the Joker is drawn than you must do twice the number of reps of the next card.)

Trust me - my kids weren't jumping at the chance to try this, but once we got started we all had a GREAT time.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of moans when someone drew an Ace.  Lots of sweat! 

Playing with the Queen of Hearts was fun, easy to set-up and cost me absolutely nothing.  SUCCESS!!  I love the fact that we can pick different exercises and have the activity be different every time.  This is one activity that won't get old.

Who knew a card game could include so much sweat!?!  And the best part - everyone WON!