Today I fed Superman :)

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Just had to get this down…I’ve been craving Blaze Pizza for days and days. Gluten Free & filled with veggies and pesto sauce and a little bit of meat. Yum. Anywho. We finally went this evening after Mass at 5:00. There was a bike parked outside on this perfect Spring evening and on the back of the bike was a plastic milk crate and an adorable little dog, like a Malti-poo, being very well-behaved. So, some of us ordered, some of us had issues, and then, while waiting, there was a thin older guy talking to the cashier about getting a job in the kitchen. He turned toward me after a couple of minutes and said, “I’m sorry I took up his time; he could have been ringing you up.” “No worries whatsoever,” I responded, noticing his homemade Superman sweater vest. We exchanged smiles and he asked me if I saw his dog outside. We chatted a bit and I went to sit down with my pizza. A moment later, Superman walked in with a little  pink collapsible bowl to get some water for his dog. As he passed me, I said, “Hey, are you hungry?” “Well, maybe,” he said. I got a piece of my pizza and gave it to Superman & we chatted a little bit more. I got the impression he had been through some very tough times and I just wanted him to know there is compassion in the world and he was noticed. He was really grateful for the pizza and went on his way. Then, I sat down, crossed myself, and prayed over Superman as radically as I could. Nothing else seemed pressing after that. Nothing else seemed to matter except being present in that moment.

2018 Los Angeles Marathon experience…

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2018 Los Angeles Marathon experience…

I just have to start with this: I love this marathon. I REALLY love this marathon. I ran it in 2016 and now 2018. It’s a very personal experience for me and by that, I mean…the way the crowds interact and really show up for the 25,000+ runners is truly amazing. I wore a white sleeveless t-shirt that said, “Don’t Be Basic” with a few Storm Troopers on it 🙂 I had so many people scream out, “You aren’t basic, E8519!!!” That’s just an example of the crowd’s cool factor. They shouted, screamed, cheered, encouraged. It was truly amazing. My son drove us to the airport Monday morning and we were on the same road that the last mile or so of the marathon was on. I knew, right then, seeing the new sunrise lightening up the Pacific, feeling my quads and butt aching as I sat still, I will be back next year to run your streets, LA.

The course is sublime. Starting at Dodger Stadium – get the starting line hospitality add-on when you register – it is SO worth it. There are bagels, coffee, tea, water, cream cheese (I carried my own almond butter), Gatorade, Clif Shots, some kind of a Clif Bar, yoga mats, a good number of bathrooms, tables & chairs, heaters, to name a few amenities. There is also a bag drop just for the hospitality people. I also liked this because it was situated a ways from the live band (which was VERY good – Billy Idol songs, etc.), it was a pretty peaceful little corner of…well, peace. That’s what I look for before a big race – just a few quiet minutes to get my head straight and consider what is about to go down…26 miles and 385 yards.

The course winds through the city and that’s what gets me – running through a favorite place on foot – that’s something I truly enjoy. Among the sites are China Town, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood, Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and of course, Santa Monica. This isn’t an all-encompassing list, but these are the areas that I especially liked. Making that final left turn onto Ocean Avenue and seeing the crowds just blew my mind. People really show up in this town!

Running mantras? I can do hard things. I am stronger. Those are a couple of mine. I was so inspired by who I encountered on the course – a woman with an inhaler, an 80-year old Vietnam vet in a wheelchair who wheeled himself, and hundreds of young people who were part of Students Run LA (sponsored by Toyota).

Now, personally, some things – this was my 20-something marathon – I think 22nd. I used to take fueling so extremely seriously – and it was all marathon approved fuel…whatever that means – such as Gu’s Roctane, etc. Guess what I found to fuel me just as well and tastes better? Well, in December I was preparing to run a half marathon and came across Cosmic Brownies in the shape of a Christmas tree – smeared with green icing. Why not, I thought. 🙂 Hey, it worked and it tasted amaze-balls. 🙂 Lol seriously, it was so good. I don’t eat those and haven’t bought them in years. You can imagine the looks on my teenage daughters faces – “You’re eating WHAT during your half???  Mom!!! Seriously????” But yes.  So, I don’t know why, I couldn’t find cosmic brownies right before my trip to LA. So…I’ll cut to the chase. I fueled for the first half with tootsie roll midgies. I’m sorry, you read right. And for the second half? Peanut M&M’s. Sorry again, you read right again. I’m an RRCA Certified Running Coach. And that’s what I chose to fuel with. I just gotta be honest. The reason I did this is because after years of the other types of fuel, I just grew weary of the texture and overly sweet (to me) flavor in my mouth. I’m 50. I ran this course in 2016 in 5:15 and this year I ran it in 4:44, so I’m pretty stoked about that. No, it was definitely NOT the candy-fuel. I know it was my Orange Theory workouts. I started there in Hell Week last October for my first free class and then I signed up and committed to myself that I would show up twice a week. I didn’t run a full marathon at all in 2017. I had a pretty significant bout of depression from November 2016 through February 2017 and it was difficult for me to get through it. I gained weight. Even though I managed to get out of bed more beginning in February 2017, I still struggled and there was no way I could commit to a marathon. Even though I started running again, I felt like I was being chased by the Black Dog aka depression and I tried my best to stay at least one step ahead of it. In other words, it took me awhile. Finally, as I took inventory of my surroundings, I realized that I had quit lifting weights and running was just that – plodding through miles trying to clear up the junk in my head. I gave myself an ultimatum – start lifting weights on my own or sign up and be accountable. Well, I ended up signing up and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. At Orange Theory, I get speed work and resistance training at every workout. During my taper, which began now over two weeks ago, I did my last workout at OTF and it was a 90 minute amazing workout that was actually a fundraiser. Today is Tuesday, so I won’t be doing OTF at all this week due to marathon recovery. I miss it so much! I still have a few pounds of depression weight left to lose and I am more motivated than ever to get back to OTF and see what else I can do!

Back to LA – we stayed at the Fairmont, the hotel at the finish line. Yes, it’s a very nice hotel. I think there should be some kind of way that marathoners who stay there can immediately exit and access the hotel. That is not the case and I understand it is for security reasons, but I think there must be a way. As it is, marathoners have to go quite far down Ocean Avenue, turn left on Santa Monica Boulevard, go up a block, turn left, go all the way down to the hotel. That is a LOT of walking immediately following a marathon. And yes, I do know that walking following a marathon is the perfect prescription. I just wanted to see my children, retreat to the hotel, jump in a shower, change, and THEN walk to a restaurant and celebrate! Speaking of walking, my FitBit racked up over 60,000 on Sunday! Wow! And Monday morning, we are right back to zero. I realized how grateful I was for a new day. I seriously wondered (aka doubted) if I had it in me to do another marathon.

I’m home now, of course, and getting back to the day-to-day-beauty-of-life – grocery shopping, making lists, work, school, studying, planning, etc.

My favorite memory from Sunday? After I turned onto Santa Monica Boulevard, headed toward the Reunion area, I cried just a little – the energy was just palpable – families seeing their marathoners walking to meet them and I thought of how proud I was that I felt the fear and did it anyway and then, I spotted my own two children – my son and my daughter, behind the fence, smiling so very big and calling, “Mom! Mom!” It was music to my ears and a sight for my heart forever.

And having those amazing memories from Los Angeles? I feel like I am carrying this bigger than life beautiful dream with me all throughout the day.

My mantra then? Thank You, God, Thank You, God, Thank You, God.

Thank you for reading.

Canine Companions for Independence – my review

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I applied to be a puppy raiser a couple of springs ago. Being ‘newly’ sober, I wanted to be of service, yet I struggled with isolation issues and depression. So, I thought this would be the best way to be of service…kind of ‘backstage’ if you will. We recently drove to Orlando, Florida, to turn in our beautiful Zelena for her graduation. It was bittersweet. I knew at the beginning, I needed to compartmentalize my heart – I could have just fallen in love with her and I did – but I always was mindful of her greater purpose…and mine. Anywho, forgive me…I haven’t been on my blog in ages and so I’m just going to write. I took so many pictures of my girl. We spent two days in Seaside, my very happy restorative place, and then went on to Orlando for two more days to ‘do the deal’ 🙂 We went to Universal Studios that evening and Zelena was, of course, her wonderful well-behaved self. The next morning was beautiful typical Orlando weather – blue skies, cool air – vacation weather. We arrived at Universal Studios and were greeted by CCI employees and Universal employees. We began the walk – a little tear-filled for me – to the graduation venue and there we were able to visit with about 30 other CCI dogs and their puppy raisers. That part really made it easier for me because I knew that at the end of this, while yes it would be very sad and difficult to say good-bye, my girl would be going with her own tribe and fulfilling her purpose. I knew that’s what I signed up for. And here it was. So, I decided to be as present in the moment as I could and that helped a lot. The pups are all assigned seats according to their name, so Zelena was able to sit right next to her brother, Zurg and that was extremely comforting as well. Not only would she be with her own kind for training, she would have her very sweet brother with her as well. So, matriculation was a tear jerker. 5 people received their service animals. THAT inspired me to continue this ‘ministry’…to be a part of something so important and difficult at the same time…that is pure love, I think.

It was difficult over the next few days. Wondering about my girl, yet knowing she was ‘doing it’ – fulfilling her sweet purpose to be of service. I think I read that only 55% of puppies make the entire training of CCI puppies, so I am actually hopeful that Zelena is included in that small number. I would take her back in a second. I would also love to live knowing she brought something so someone else’s life that money can’t buy – only love can buy that. And that’s what I want to be part of…spreading compassion and love wherever I can.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

a month of Orange Theory

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I was running. And running. A few times a week. I kept looking at my weights; yep, there they are, all shiny and waiting for me to pick them up. But no. I didn’t. I kept giving myself the ultimatum, ‘if I don’t pick them up this week, that’s it, I’m doing something different,’ and so yeah here we are.

I finally reached my limit in October. Halloween was coming up and the holidays would be right on Halloween’s tail. So, my running partner, who is in great shape, goes to Orange Theory. First class free, you say? It will be fun, you say? Okay!

Hell Week, my first class. It was a crazy mix of treadmill, water rower, and weights. And quick! I loved it. I signed up the next day. I signed up for the two a week classes, so 8 per month. I went two days per week beginning in November and tomorrow is December 1, 2017.

Yes, it is worth it. Yes, I feel a difference. It’s a class. You sign up ahead of time. There are tons of available slots all week. There is an instructor. It is dim. It is loud with motivating music. The instructor has a headset and is motivating. My workouts have all been different. And in a good way. Treadmills are my weekly speed work which I haven’t done in ages…like years. For me, this is a perfect class to add to my running regime.

In October, I became a Certified Level 1 Running Coach through RRCA. I decided to be my own first client! 🙂 The long run is the cornerstone of any running plan. So, I looked at the races I had planned, which were two half marathons a week apart. I looked at a calendar. I said, “8, 10, 12, 10, and all the shit in between.” And that, folks, was my plan! LOL. #Truth I got all my long runs in. Thank you, God. And all the $hit in between would be my #OrangeTheory twice a week and the sprinkling of runs and rest days.

On the night before Thanksgiving, I ran the Camellia Crossing 5K with a couple of ladies. I finished in under 25 minutes, something that hasn’t happened in YEARS. I was pretty excited about that.  I know it is the addition of Orange Theory. I know it. Speedwork and weights. That’s where it’s at for me. That is my sweet spot.

Saturday morning, I am driving to Baton Rouge bright and early to run the Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon. I am curious to see how I do. My goal is to be under 2 hours. Like the good old days. My last half marathons have all been 2:15’ish. I have really focused and committed on getting my training in and that’s a really big deal for me because I’m in school fulltime this semester and I.have.a.life. 🙂 Sometimes.

Anywho, that’s what’s up. I’ll do a race report after Saturday’s race.

Peace.

Cajun Country Half Race Report 2017

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I signed up for this race as part of a ‘trifecta’ package: The Attakapas 8K Trail back in October, the Cajun Country Half (which also includes a 5K and a 10K); and the Zydeco Marathon in March of 2018. There is a cool medal that goes along with completing all three races, regardless of the distance, so that’s a cool feature.

So the Cajun Country. It has definitely evolved over the years since I started running it. I really like the course and it is very well organized. A 7:30am start time is also favorable. You never know what you are going to get temperature-wise…last year it was pretty cool, not cold. This year the start was 28 degrees! It definitely felt like it, too! It was wonderful! I think there are around 500 people max who ran this event. While the half marathon starts first, the other two races start sometime afterward, maybe an hour later, if memory serves. I was on the last mile of the half and saw some pretty fresh looking people and drew this assumption! There was more than adequate hydration on the course, too. Nothing solid, but Gatorade and water. There was also a fair number of portapotties. Hills? No, not really. This IS South Louisiana and there were a couple of very minor inclines that I felt the need to swing my arms a little more and shorten my steps just a bit. This run does not have a lot of crowds. If you are looking for a race that has lines of people waiting to cheer you on, this is not that race, unless you bring your own people to do that! But if you are looking for beautiful long stretches of Louisiana beauty alongside the Vermilion River and through peaceful subdivisions and very little traffic, then this may be the race for you! Post-race does not disappoint: pork jambalaya, beer, water, Gatorade, and I think I saw something saucy, gumbo-esque…I was whipped after my race yesterday. I ran the Baton Rouge Beach half-marathon the weekend before and was trying to play it cool all week as in not working out too much because this was actually the race I was hoping to get close to 2:00. So, BRBhalf Saturday, pajamas all day Sunday, workout late Monday at Orange Theory Fitness, nothing Tuesday, nothing Wednesday and Thursday? Well, I was about to lose my marbles over this whole “taper” filth :0000)))) and grabbed a late workout, so on our Sneaux Day aka day off Friday, I got my Orange Theory fix that morning. I worked out HARD. Push pace?  Hell YES. All out? You got it!!!!!! Let’s gooooo! That was not the smartest training move I’ve ever made. That kind of goes in the same category as eating BarBQue shrimp in New Orleans the night before a full marathon. Or that time of brilliance that I ran with ankle weights the week of a marathon. Seriously, what was I thinking???  LOL. Any who. So, I can’t help but think that was a little issue for me. However, Saturday morning was nice and cold and all my mile splits were under 10 minutes, well under ten minutes. So that’s good. I take that as a victory.

The only thing I don’t like about this race? Alligator head trophies for a select few. I’m just not into contributing to this type of thing. There is enough beauty that can be awarded that does not include taking life. Especially since this is a TRAIL run, which means the organization that took it over supports a lot of outdoor very cool events, running, walking, cycling. It isn’t enough to keep me from doing their races, but I know that I would never (if fortunate enough to qualify for a trophy) accept something like that.

So that’s that. My on the run nutrition? I carried a Christmas Cosmic Brownie, which was superb!!!! I ate half at about Mile 4 and the other half at about mile 10. My daughter laughed at me because I stopped buying those for them years ago because they are full of craptastic ingredients! But I made an exception for this. Any who, just carry your own nutrition!

24 hours

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If I can just focus on these 24 hours, I find that my day starts so much more smoothly. It takes some getting there. I wake up and immediately have some less than stellar thoughts. But then, I remember I need to immediately connect with God and let Him know I know He’s in control. I let him know that I know I have no power over my addiction. I know my life is unmanageable without Him. I know that I know that I know God can and does restore me to sanity. Every day. Sometimes several times throughout the day. When things get rough, I always have the ability to say, “Help me, God,” or “You take it, God; I don’t even know what to say.”

I’m in school. Full-time. I really do love it. I am getting used to the schedule being set up this way. Thus far, I have only taken night classes – for over two years of college all my classes were night classes. One night a week. You go, you sit, you learn, you get loaded up for the next week and pace yourself accordingly. This time, it’s just -50 minute classes. 2 or 3 days a week. It goes by quick! At this point, I have to admit I prefer the one night a week. However, with my girls being a junior and a senior, I am not giving nights up – which really means late afternoons and evenings. I might take one night class next semester.

Anywho, I just woke up with that same record playing in my head and knew I needed to do things differently today. The Black Dog (aka depression) has been chasing me lately and I just don’t want to play. This morning, I had that thought, “Oh, I could stay in bed all day.” Then I remembered the most sage advice I received at the beginning of my journey: “Whatever you are feeling? Do the opposite.” Damn. Truth. So, I thanked God, while feeling scattered in my brain. I got up and here I sit on the living room floor typing this. At the same time, I think of my fellow humans, just a few hours down the road from me, in Houston and the surrounding areas, who are all dealing with the tragedy of flooding. Our town just dealt with that last year and it is traumatizing on all sides. It takes so long to recover from and then, even when everything is dried out and newly replaced, there is still the fear that crops up with every rainstorm…is this the one? Will it happen again? I am grateful because our house stayed dry. We didn’t have anything but inconveniences. But family and neighbors had it much worse. We helped my sister-in-law get sandbags filled on Sunday afternoon and I knew she was worried. She lost and replaced everything last year. There was nothing to say that would truly alleviate her fear of the storm that was predicted to come our way. We prayed and I think that helped.

Anywho. Does this count as morning pages? Hmm. Not sure. Probably not totally. Do you know morning pages?! It’s a practice that when you wake up, you write, longhand, on paper, the stuff that is floating around your head just then, in the twilight of your waking up. Good stuff. I know a few people who do it. I learned about it while becoming a certified health coach.

I feel better. Thank You, God. Thank you, universe.

Monday

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So grateful today is off to a good start. I got right into my reading and listening. Joyce Meyer Podcast is so key for me. I can’t imagine not listening to her everyday. I like that she references Scripture so I can go check it out even further.

I began my 30-day sit-up challenge. I also got my workout in. I’m going to be 50 in January. I always knew, since I was 30, that weight was key for women. Lifting weight, that is. And it is. I know we can’t be shy about it, either. We have to just get in there and lift whatever we are able.

I bought myself, with the help of a gift card, a set of Pro-Form Fusion Space Saver 25 weights. I really like them. About a month ago, they were right around $50. If I would have purchased different sets of weights, I would have spent well over $125, so this was a really good deal for me. I got them at Target. They get the job done. Now that I have this, I will probably still purchase individual sets of weights to fill in for what I need. Individual hand weights are about $6 – $15 a piece depending on what size weight you buy. Smaller weights are often found at Marshall’s for a really good deal – I’m talking like 2 or 3 pound weights that are great for just getting started or for walking with on either the treadmill or outside. I have had people pick up my tiny bright pink weights and look at me and laugh! Don’t be deterred! You can get a workout out of any sized weight. Try doing crunches with one of those tiny weights over your head or held against your chest. Anyway, the point is, just go with what you can. By all means, especially ladies, start lifting anything. And if you can’t afford to purchase any weights right now? Still, use your own body weight to get moving. Push-ups while being on your knees is legit. Anything that causes you to bear weight will work.

And on the spiritual side, I will continue to follow the Peace of God. I trust Him. I must trust Him. That’s it, plain and simple. My reading this morning was to pick a recovery mantra for the day and I choose, “Let go and let God.”