Every day we are surrounded by negativity. Whether it is our own negative self talk, turning on the news to hear of another crime, or looking at a Facebook feed full of people complaining about how crappy life is. We are faced with negatives everywhere and it seems like it is impossible to get away from them. One thing we can do to affect our surroundings is to try and be the positive in people's lives as opposed to contributing to the negative.
The thing I LOVE about my running team, TuTu Many Races, is that we are a very diverse group of people. Most everyone in the group is a new runner. We vary in age from our early twenties to mid fifties and our ability levels are just as extreme. Our main goals are that we want to have fun and to spread happiness. We cheer for everyone, the fast runners coming back at us on an out and back and even the people at the back of the pack. We try and be as positive for each other as we are as everyone else and in that, we have accomplished amazing things.
Just recently we were at a 10k and it was miserable. It was raining and gloomy and before the race even started, I was stopped by a woman who wanted to take a picture with me because I was wearing a TuTu and high fiving everyone. Once the race started I lost sight of her but her smile was contagious and I kept that with me as I was chugging along in the rain. I realized that I would probably not be getting the time I had hoped for and instead decided to just make the best of the race and to have as much fun as possible. The course was an out and back and separated by a giant median that usually is full of cheering people but this year the crowd was a sparse. After I made the turnaround at the halfway point, I looked over and hooted and hollered for the people opposite me. I soon noticed an older gentleman, walking alone with his head down. Without even thinking, I ran across the median, high fived him and told how great of a job he was doing. I then ran up to two women who were laughing at my crazy antics and high fived them as well before crossing back over to my side. Then the rain picked up and it started pouring, and then I noticed the blister that I had been trying to ignore and I was fighting to keep myself positive. My brother, who had come up with his wife from Georgia to run their first 10k with me, was in the midst of trying to keep me focused by playing a game of leap frog, racing ahead of me and after I ran ahead of him is when I saw the police car following the last of the walkers. There she was, my smiling friend from before the race. She was at mile 2 1/2 and just behind her, a few feet away was the police car. She wasn't smiling anymore and before I knew what I was doing, I was crossing that median again. Slogging through deep water and mud I made it over to her and when she finally looked up, she smiled and thanked me. I gave her a huge hug and told her "you've got this!" She hugged me again and as her smile brightened, she lifted her head and said "I do!" I crossed back to my side one final time and thought to myself, "so. do. I!" At mile 6 the blister that was taking over the ball of my foot popped and I thought I was going to die, my pace kept slowing but I had this. I finished the race, 8 minutes faster than last year and immediately hobbled over to the med tent. I wish I could've been there to cheer her across but I was barely standing myself and I knew she was going to make it, she had that look of determination.
The point of my long winded story is that even though we are surrounded by people who think we can't do something, or worse yet try to derail us from our path, even when we are limping in pain and crying on the inside, we can still be the positive. If each of us embraces one moment each day and choose to be the positive, we can make it to the end. We can do it together and carry with us the smiles of those who's days we have made just a little bit brighter.
Be TuTu Positive!
It's summertime, it's hot and in the south it is HUMID! If I could, I would run all of my training runs and races in an air conditioned room, with a fan above my head; however, this is the real world and honestly I am still trying to adapt to running outside in the heat. Last year I ran several races outside. Hot, Humid, Miserable races but I did them and I am a better runner because of it. Since I am still making the transition, there are two major things that I have already learned that I need to do.
LESS is MORE...The first thing I had to do was learn to show some skin. Now, I am not talking getting indecent, but I am talking about throwing away the over-sized cotton t-shirts and long loose capri pants. Getting rid of my safety blankets of loose material and dark colors was a HUGE deal to me, but man did it feel good! Shimmying into a pair of compression capris is not the easiest thing to do, but years of packing it all into a pair of spanx or control top panty hose made it a little less difficult. Once I had those suckers on and I looked down, I realized just how "okay" I was going to be with this. Jiggly spots were smooth and it looked like I had lost about 5 lbs instantly. As I walked across the room to pick up my new sports bra and tank top, I also realized the inner thigh rub was going to be significantly decreased (say goodbye to firecrotch!) After putting on a tech material sports bra and then a racer back tank, I was a little nervous about how much I was showing, but... the air sliding across my shoulders was like riding in a convertible with the top down and WAY more forgiving than the heavy, sweat soaked t shirt of yesterday. Now I will rock some compression capris and my RunJunkEes tank and not think twice about it.
ICE,ICE Baby... my other secret to making it through a hot race is that I ALWAYS bring my own water. I wear the CamelBak Charm and I fill that sucker up with Ice and a little bit of water. That on my back keeps me a little cooler when it is nasty hot out. I don't care how silly I look running a 5K with a hydration pack on. The ONE time I left it at home it was because I was running a Glow Run 5K and it was 8PM and I thought I would be fine. Well, that race had some very unexpected hills plus it was still 89 degrees with 90% humidity and they ran out of water. Now seeing as it was a 5k and MOST runners would be fine, I, was not. I was sweating enough to win a wet t shirt contest and saw the rest of the race course as if it was a never-ending desert, pulsing lights and dancing blow up glow people taunting me like a mirage of a dessert oasis. Thankfully my friends were waiting with water, for me at the end. So now, if it is warm out, I am sporting my hydration pack and if I never have to use it, it is way better than not having water when I need it. Plus... it is always good for dumping over a friend's head at the end of a race as well ;)
Since I am still learning to suck it up and train outside, I will definitely be checking out my fellow teammates' blogs to see what words of wisdom they have to make it easier to run in the heat.
"Everybody stares, as she goes by
'Cause they can see the flame that's in her eyes"- Alicia Keys
Run, Walk, Crawl Happy and keep moving forward!
Am I good enough?
It is a question we have all asked ourselves and probably answered with "no" more often than with "yes". From my own personal life I know that for me that the devil on my shoulder, is so much louder than his counterpart on the other side. Negative self talk is one of the biggest obstacles. When I face it in my daily life and especially when it comes to running, I can come up with every excuse in the book. Here are a few of my most used excuses:
·I'm tired/ in pain- I suffer from a chronic autoimmune disease (ulcerative colitis) that keeps me in pain 24/7. It causes inflammation of my joints, severe fatigue, among other horrible things and the medications I am on cause weight gain and more fatigue. I live my life daily in pain and tired so if I let THIS excuse keep me from getting up and getting out there, I never would. If I let it dictate turning around and going home during a run, I would never get anywhere. I just have to decide that I am strong enough to put one foot in front of the other and live my life with a disease as opposed to letting the disease dictate my life.
·It's too cold/hot- I have more running clothes than real clothes. I should (and can) dress for any temperature and get outside. I also have a gym membership and inside there are these crazy machines with a belt that will keep you moving forward. If it is that nasty outside, I really could drive there and use the human hamster wheel.
Which brings me to my next excuse:
· The gym is too crowded- my experience has been that it doesn't matter if every treadmill is empty, if I am on one, someone (usually a decent looking younger guy) will hop on the one next to me and start his "warm-up" at a pace double mine. So if it is crowded I suck it up and go anyways. Maybe one day I will be the intimidating runner but it will never happen if I am not taking the steps to get there.
·It's raining- A. See above (I got that membership for a reason) or B. Just suck it up and go. I have never let the rain keep me from a race (mainly because if I paid for it, I am doing it) so if I can RACE in the rain, why do I feel I can't train in the rain?
· I am so slow- I am a turtle, maybe even a sloth, BUT I am doing something. Moving forward will always trump sitting still. I spent so much time wallowing in self pity, watching everyone around me live their lives that it was depressing. When my brother and sister-in-law had their children, I was too tired to play with them unless we were sitting and doing something quiet. I needed to change that and now, I may still be slower than most, but I am faster than I was and if my nieces and nephew want me to chase, them I will.
·I look stupid/fat/ridiculous- they used to not make decent workout clothes for plus size women. It took a lot of shopping to find clothes I felt good in that were functional and cute. I didn't even have to spend a ton of money. I bought a few core pieces that I feel good in and if someone else has the gall to say something to me, let them. I know now that letting their petty words get to me will only make me want to try harder. I use their words to fuel the fire inside of me.
Those are all excuses that my negative self talk gives me before I even step out the door, before I even lace up my shoes, before I even put on my running clothes, before I even get out of bed. Every day there is a battle and we all have our own shoulder devils and our own excuses. What I have been trying to learn to do is to duct tape his mouth shut before he can tempt me to give up. I think we all need to block out the negatives long enough to get up, get dressed, lace up and get out there... then we can deal with clearing our heads with each step we take. Run, walk or crawl keep moving forward and when we ask ourselves 'are we good enough?', the answer should always be "yes!"
Have you ever been riding in your car, air conditioning on full blast, music blaring and seen one of those "crazy people" running down the road? All you think is, why are they running? You quickly glance in the rearview mirror. There has to be someone wielding a knife chasing them, but there is no one. So for the rest of your cool drive you are thinking how that runner must have a screw loose, running covered in sweat, looking uncomfortable, maybe a little miserable even and how you could NEVER do that. Heck your thighs rub together and arm jiggles just walking to the couch. I lovingly have referred to those as "chub rub" and "bingo wings" over the years and running was what you did, only if being chased and after being certain the person in pursuit didn't have a gun.
All of this changed when I decided I was worth more than being the girl on the sidelines. I had friends who ran and talked about the elusive "runners high" and I was convinced this same high was found in a good chocolate milkshake. Needless to say, it wasn't. My weight and sloth like tendencies were proving that more and more each day. I joined Weight Watchers at 309lbs and when I hit 30 lbs down I decided to reward myself, not in the usual "binge on my favorite foods" way, but instead I saw a coupon for a 5k and went for it. This was not your everyday 5k. This was the Pretty Muddy Women's mud run in Oct. 2012. I convinced (maybe even conned) 3 friends to do it with me and cursed the whole way wondering what I was thinking. I cant even tell you the elation I felt crossing that finish line. I couldn't walk for the next 2 days but I was already wanting to do another race.
I hadn't trained for that 5k. Hell, I hadn't even walked around my neighborhood. I knew that if I was ever going to do something like that again, I was going to need to get in better shape. So in December 2012, I joined a gym. I would walk my 20min miles and be bored. So I added in some jogging. Then I added spin class, then yoga, and weight lifting I was feeling stronger and looking better. I was only jogging 10-20 seconds at a time but, holy cow I was doing it!!!
Then came the knee pain, the hip pain and the back pain. What!? I was losing weight and building muscles.How could this be happening? Then the blisters came. So I timidly entered the new running store across the street from the gym. I was nervous about it. Heavy people don't run and runners are an elite group of people. I felt I had no right to enter their inner sanctum. Boy was I wrong! The staff at Lucky Foot not only got me in the right shoes but they made me feel good about the steps I was taking. (Pun intended)
In March 2013 I did my second 5k. With my father in law coaching me along, I completed it with my fastest pace ever, 13:41. Yes it is slow but I had never even done that in those mandatory gym class miles. I was dumbfounded. Plus, with the right shoes I didn't have any pain. I could conquer the world that day.
Next up was the 10k in April. Of course I chose the 8th largest road race in the US (go big or go home right??) I was stoked, my 4 woman team from the pretty muddy was now 6 and we wore tutus! My goal was to finish it. Which I did in under 2 hours. Again it was slow, who cares, I was faster than those people sitting on the couch watching the race on TV. I got high fives from my friends from Lucky Foot at their tent. I got cheered on by the thousands of people out there. I was a rock star but was I a runner yet?
Since then I have done another 5k and an 8k. I still walk most of it. We always wear our tutus. The team TuTu Many Races had 15 members at our last race. My goal is to do one race every month. I even have my sights set on maybe doing a half marathon in November. (Does this make me crazy??) I know I am slow but the short jogs have turned into minute runs. I was always saying I am a "runner" (notice the quotations). Until one day I read a quote that basically said if you just run one or two steps, you are a runner. I spoke to people I thought were "true runners" and they said I was a runner. They embraced me with open arms. They gave me advice, encouragement, and support. They told me I inspire THEM. What!?! (That made my brain explode.) I have people on Facebook tell me I inspire them too and ask to join my team. How can I inspire anyone?
Since my newfound love of running I have found I am more excited to try new things to keep me active. Just last week I was in the Outer Banks on vacation. I ran almost every morning. I even did a quick beach run (which is extremely difficult,) but my biggest accomplishment was climbing the dunes at Jockeys Ridge. I have been to the Outer Banks the last 18 years and always thought there was no way I could (or would) do that. This year I said to myself, "you are a runner now, you can do anything" and so I climbed the first one with my husband. He looked at me and said "wanna do another?" And we did. There are no more limitations for me and I conquered something that I swore to myself I could not even attempt.
I am still 267 lbs. I have a long way to go on my weight loss journey. The difference is now I have more of a sense of self. I know where I am going and how many steps it will take. I have new paths and trails to lead me there. I have made new friends along the way. I have joined Facebook groups to ask my questions and inspire me. I found that I there is a plethora of people to ask for support. I have, more than anything, found that runners aren't really an "elite group" like I originally thought. Runners are more than happy to show you how to find your way. They welcome you into their family like you have been there the whole time and I kinda think we have. A part of me always wanted to be a runner and it breaks out every time I jog to that next mailbox and decide to keep on to the next. It comes out one step at a time. But it always comes and it fights with the part of me that doesn't want to keep on. But... When my inner runner wins, I know that I AM A RUNNER and I can conquer anything and there will never be too many races, instead there will always be TuTu Many Races.