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Change or Die

This quarter I’m taking a class on designing for health change. It is a very creative class in which I get to interact with patients and prototype designs that will help them make lifestyle changes. As part of the class we are reading the book Change or Die which is full of great wisdom on making change in your own life and those of others. The reading this past week really stood out to me and was full of useful tidbits. Here are a few that I found particularly inspiring:

1) We continue successful behaviors and this makes it difficult for us to change. There is nothing wrong with enjoying being successful, but sometimes we need to move beyond our comfort zones.

Found this photo today and it is my motivation for the week. Can't wait to rock Ragnar in three weeks!

Found this photo today and it is my motivation for the week. Can’t wait to rock Ragnar in three weeks!

2) One way to spice up your behavior is to take on challenges that you’ll be bad at for a while rather than returning to pursuits you’re good at. Be proud of the things you are great at, but don’t let them stop you from try out something new. Who knows, you may find a new skill or activity that you rock at. Or you won’t rock. There is nothing wrong with that.

3) If you don’t feel at ease in your environment, change it! Find something you are comfortable with as it will entice you to return. Maybe the gym isn’t for you, but have you tried a kickboxing studio? Don’t be afraid to explore, this will just lead to awesome adventures. Worst case scenario – you have a hilarious story to tell your friends.

4) Find a mentor you respect and a community you enjoy. I can honestly say that if it was not for Kathy, the pace leader at my run club in Ohio, I would not have attempted my first half or full marathon. It was a happy accident that I found her, but one of the best things that happened to me. Because of her constant guidance and belief in me, I gained confidence in my running and was able to push myself further. This leads into the next piece…

5) Have a relationship with people who believe in you and whom you believe in. Do not put up with people who do not believe in you. You are awesome, you deserve nothing but respect and love from those in your life. Find people who make you feel good and avoid those who hurt or frustrate you. Life is too short to have toxic people in your life.

6) Learning and change aren’t one-size-fits-all phenomena. It is tough to read or hear someone else’s story and wish that it would happen to you, but that isn’t how life works. This is something I struggle with constantly, I have to remind myself that everyone finds change and motivation in different places. This doesn’t mean it won’t come, just that it may take a different form.

What have you done to make positive changes in your life? What pieces of advice do you have?

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Change of Plans

I had every intention of running the New York Marathon yesterday. That is, up until Monday of this past week. I’d trained for the race and declared that it was my last marathon for a year. So much of my focus went into this one race and I was mentally (and somewhat physically) ready to rock it. Not to mention, it would be the first time that my family would be there to support me.

But Sandy had other plans. When I heard about the damage in New York, I was troubled. So many of my friends and family members were affected by the storm. It just didn’t seem right to be eager about the race when others were displaced from their homes. My emotions went haywire as I questioned my plans. Many parts of me wanted to go to New York, see my family, run the marathon, and honor my grandparents. While others didn’t want to add to the chaos of the city.

Eventually my father, the most logical person in my life, helped me to make the decision. On Thursday of last week I decided to cancel my trip and defer my entry. I was upset, but I knew it was the best choice for me. Fortunately I was able to get a full refund on my flight, which eased my mind a bit. And a friend promised to take me to Big Sur for a relaxing day trip to take my mind off everything, which was a sweet gesture.

Friday rolled around and I decided to run the US Half marathon in San Francisco with a friend so that I’d at least get in a few miles on Sunday. I was still frustrated, until a friend sent me a message about the marathon. They finally made the decision to cancel it. I was shocked and (I know it is selfish to say this) relieved. I feel for all the individuals who traveled to New York only to find out it was canceled and my heart goes out to all of the New Yorkers who were affected by the storm.

Saturday was a gorgeous day. Although I ran the Big Sur marathon a few months back, I didn’t really experience the area. My friend and I drove down the coast and had a lovely brunch at Nepenthe while enjoying the beautiful view. We did some short hikes and sat on the beach. It was glorious to have such a relaxing day in a beautiful environment. If you’ve never been, I definitely suggest taking a trip there.

It was a long day and I tried to get to bed early for the half, but that didn’t happen. Getting up at 5:30am I was exhausted. I debated if it was the best decision, and then I kicked my derriere out of bed. I met up with friends at the start line and decided that we would run together for as long as we could. Starting up a hill, I realized that she may be more prepared for the elevation changes than I was. We trekked it together for four miles, up and down hills to the Golden Gate bridge. I was feeling good, but she was feeling better. We bid adieu and I trekked alone for the rest of the race. Every time I run in San Francisco I am reminded that I need to do more hill training. You can’t imagine how much my glutes were feeling it afterward…

As I came sprinting across the finish line, I realized that this was my slowest half marathon in years. Not my favorite fact, but it makes me realize that this is the distance I want to focus on for the next few months. This week I’m going back to speed training and considering smaller distances. In fact, I may even attempt a timed mile to record where I am at this point and then run another in February before my next half. (You have no idea how scared I am by this idea.)

Although I was not able to complete the run for my grandparents and the Holocaust survivors I had raised money for, I donned my Blue Card shirt with pride. It isn’t just when I run, but everyday that I am thankful for the strength, determination, and spirit of the individuals that paved the way for me. They have given me the opportunity to do anything my heart desires and I cannot thank them enough. I look forward to running in their honor  next year in New York

What are your thoughts and feelings on the situation in New York?

Nike Women’s Half Marathon

Two Sundays ago I was lucky enough to join in on a San Francisco tradition, the Nike Women’s Marathon. I’d heard stories of this race, but didn’t really understand how large of an event it would be. Friday afternoon I went into the city to the “expotique”.  Fortunately I arrived early and was able to bypass the huge lines. It was a madhouse on Friday, but I hear it was significantly worse the next day. As for my feelings on their expo format, I wasn’t impressed. There were five vendors and huge lines to interact with each of them. Perhaps I was a touch bitter because I wasn’t able to get my legs taped, that or I’m just a traditionalist and missed the onslaught of running vendors.

As I was waiting for a friend, I foolishly decided to walk to the Nike store to find my name on the wall. My name was located just at eye height so it wasn’t tough for me to locate. Still having time I wandered into the store and tried to avoid purchasing any swag. They didn’t provide us with the race shirt until crossing the finishing line, so I somehow justified the purchase of a new sweatshirt. I deserve a new one, right? (Don’t answer that…)

On Sunday morning I woke up bright and early to walk a mile to the start line. Being the punctual individual I am, I arrived seven minutes before the starting gun. Not that it mattered, my wave didn’t cross the start line until 7:26am. I kept thinking that I could have slept longer, granted that wouldn’t have allowed me to be overwhelmed by all the of the individuals at the starting line. Seriously, it was madness.

The first few miles involved a lot of weaving in and out of clusters. Unfortunately the pace groups were very large, so it was easy to get stuck behind slower individuals. Not that I cared much, my only goal was to finish and hit on some firemen… We ran down a similar path as the San Francisco Marathon, so I knew what was coming my way. This meant that I’d tackle some of the same hills and this time I hoped I’d be more prepared for them. And I was!

NWM added some interesting stops along the way and they brought out quite the crowd. There were huge groups of fans along the way which added a lot to the experience. Nothing feels quite as good as having people cheering you on for the entirety of the race (unlike other races I’ve run recently). This definitely motivated me along the course.

Of the entire race, I’m proudest of the fact that I pushed up some hills that I wasn’t able to previously. Granted I didn’t race up all of them.  SF has some serious hills and I know better than to push too hard or I’ll be grumpy and frustrated later. Initially I thought that I’d slow down because of the elevation change (over 1000 foot gain), but I managed to complete the race just three minutes slower than San Jose. I don’t know how I pushed it out, yet that won’t stop me from being happy with my performance. Hopefully I can take this newfound energy with me to New York City next weekend when I run the marathon.

Have you ever considered NWM? What awesome races would you suggest?

Tell Yourself a Good Story

While I was at Fitbloggin this past month, I heard some really beautiful stories. I didn’t resonate with all of them, but one statement has really stuck with me. I was sitting in on the discussion, When You Have a Lot to Lose, and Nikki was talking about her weight loss journey.

Nikki mentioned that the story you tell is the one that others believe. And sometimes the most important story you tell is the one you tell yourself. When you wake up, rather than complaining about the time or the weather, say something positive. Look in the mirror and tell yourself one great thing about who you are and one great thing about what you will accomplish today. Because today you will successfully accomplish something.

Although I’ve had a tendency to be melodramatic in the past, these days I’m waking up with a new attitude. The other morning I woke up and thought, “I’m tired, this is going to be a long day.” But moments later I realized my foolishness, why say that to yourself when you can invigorate yourself with a few simple statements?

In fact, I used this tactic while running the San Jose half last weekend. I told Maggie about this theory around the half way point and we began to talk about how great we felt. I said that my legs felt fresh and I could go for many miles more. We shouted about how awesome we were. Then there was that one comment about how great my butt looked… Come on, sometimes you have to have fun with it. :)

So do me a favor, tell yourself something positive today. And tomorrow. Then keep the trend going and remember that you are an amazing specimen worthy of great things.

What story did you tell yourself today?

Rockin San Jose

This past Sunday was the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose half marathon. Last year I came within thirty seconds of my half marathon PR on this course and this year I initially had hopes to break that record. Sadly it came to my attention recently that this wouldn’t be possible. My legs have been grumbly for the past few weeks. Of course it didn’t help that it had been almost two months since my last double digit run. But I’m not the type to back down (especially after I’d already registered).

So I did everything possible to ensure a good race. I carbo loaded on Saturday with a simple bowl of spaghetti and marinara sauce. Went to bed uncomfortably early. I even had my legs taped up for the first time to help with calf/shin cramping. By the time I woke up on Sunday I was feeling fresh-ish.

I departed from Palo Alto early to avoid traffic and found that it was incredibly easy to find parking near the start and finish line. With time to spare I went to find Maggie, the awesome chick I met at Fitbloggin. We had discussed the possibility of running with one another and, although she didn’t know it at the time, I had hopes of using her as a pace rabbit.

At the halfway mark my lower back began to ache. I’ve never felt something like that before and I didn’t know how to react. All I knew was that Maggie was kickin’ butt and I wanted to keep moving. She had mentioned that 50-75% of the way through the race was her toughest point, so I did my best to move along smoothly. And we did. And it was good.

Each time we passed a stage, I did my best to rock out with them. There was a lot of 80s music, which was fantastic. I may not have been alive when the songs were topping the charts, yet I know each and every one. I haven’t always loved the performances on a race path, but this time it really helped keep my spirit up.  By mile 10 I was letting everyone know how awesome they looked. When spectators said, “You can do it!” I replied, “We are doing it!!” It was probably the  most glorious race I’ve run. And as we reached the end, I made sure everyone knew what I was looking forward to the most. Chocolate milk. *

We crossed the finish line three minutes slower than my PR. Perhaps we could have pushed to make it, but I’m not dwelling on that. Maggie set a new record for herself and I am so glad I was there to run with her. Scratch that. I’m so glad she was there to run with me. I learned quite a bit from this race and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Expectations and goals change naturally overtime. No, I didn’t set a new personal record, but I did finish the race with a huge obnoxious smile on my face. I pushed my body to move faster than I had planned and didn’t let myself slow down for any small excuse.  I worked hard and felt great. And isn’t that a beautiful thing?

What is the craziest thing you’ve seen someone do during a race? How do you handle a change in goals or expectations?

*Dearest fellow runners, I apologize if my enthusiasm was distracting or annoying to you. Sometimes you have to psych yourself up to push yourself harder.