Category Archives: Identity

Hello. It’s me again.

 

On May 7, 2017 I ran my 10th full marathon in the Steel City of Pittsburgh. It was the most difficult course I have ever run, and my third best marathon finish time. I feel the need to let the world know my chip finish time of 4:18 included  a pit stop, but I’m assuming approximately .67% of you even care about that. The few who would care are also most likely runners and understand how every second/minute on your chip time is a self imposed reflection on your self worth and perceived success. The rest of the world is thinking the very fact that I have run 10 Full Marathons (26.2 miles) since September of 2012 puts me in a league of my own. Yes indeed, you read that correctly. The Akron Full Marathon (another challenging, but simply amazing course) in 2012 was my first foray into full marathons and by May of 2017, only 4 and 1/2 years later, I crossed the finish line of my 10th.

Let me encourage you by reiterating a part of my story that now seems so distant. In January of 2010 I was 60 pounds heavier than I am now and couldn’t run 1 straight mile. I was knocking on the door of turning 30 and making a decision for who I wanted to be when “I grew up.” Embracing a theology of the body, meaning the revelation that God cares about how my physical human body feels, runs, and looks not because it matters in eternity but because it determines how I live and feel on this earth and the ability to which I’m able to discover and live out my purpose, was one of the single greatest things that has ever happened to me. I’ve also run  6 half marathons and countless 5K, 8K, and 5 mile charity races.

I am currently signed up to do Full marathon #11 in November and then reassess my situation. I’d like to do an ultra marathon, perhaps a 50K before or during the year of my 40th birthday. I’d like to ride my bike and participate in  a “century” (100 miles) event. I’d like to get fitter and stronger than I ever thought was possible. I’d like to actually develop my writing voice and consistently blog. I’d like to scratch as much off my bucket list as possible. But for now, for this sacred space between 10th marathon’s finish and 11th marathon’s training plan, I do what my body wants me to do.

Week 1 Post Marathon: More walking and elliptical time than running, although I did run 6 whole miles that week. My lowest mileage week since I started the run streak I was on from 2011-2014.

Week 2 Post marathon: Running 16 miles, including the Cleveland Marathon 8K with my work charity fundraising team. Cycling 20 miles. Lots of walking. Some stair mastering. Strength training/weights.

Week 3 Post Marathon: Running 21 miles. Cycling 30 miles. Lots of walking. No stair mastering. Strength training/weights.

Week 4 Post Marathon: Here we are! So far (Wednesday) I’ve run 13 miles with plans for 12 more and I have plans for a 25-30 mile bike ride.

I just wanted to check in and let you know I’m alive. I have many things germinating in my mind and heart to write about and feel like I needed a blog that was a soft launch back into all things Jessica, Jesus, Family, World Changing, and running.

Remember, the world will tell you you’re “TOO MUCH”. Don’t believe me, try running as much as I do. They will tell you they don’t have time and therefore you shouldn’t have time. Don’t believe them. These same people are not the ones getting up at 5 AM to prioritize the one body God gave them. IN prioritizing physical self care, you also end up with excellent spirit and mind care as well. Try communing with nature on a run, walk, or bike every day and then tell me if you feel closer to God, more tuned into yourself, more awakened to wonder. This might not work if you stay confined to a stuffy gym. You need to breath in the perfection of creation around you.

This same world will then turn the narrative on you and tell you that you are “NEVER ENOUGH”. You still haven’t gotten that Sub-4 marathon finish. You don’t grow your own Kale in your background organic garden.  You ate ice cream. You didn’t widdle your own furniture from a pocket knife.

Have no worries though fellow travelers. You can walk wildly into what God created you to be. We aren’t free just for freedoms sake alone, but we are free to sing this song of hope over the world, just as God sings it over us. Go on. Be brave. Put one foot in front of the other and start checking off those bucket list items. I know I did. Marathon #10, bucket dumped. The end.

My ode to fitness as a lifestyle:

Running. Fitness. Meditation. Contemplation. “I don’t have time for that.” I won’t prioritize soul care. Self care. Personal health care. I’ll sleep when I die. Your mind. Your body. Your spirit are on a budget. You can’t spend what you don’t have. Stay in the red and you’re lethargic anxious sick, and worse, nearly dead. Without a strategic investment, physical, emotional, and spiritual bankruptcy will soon follow. Start small. Start doable. Find scalable, sustainable. Prioritize your family and career by filling your proverbial cup so you have something to pour out. An empty well never hydrated anyone.

My Facebook Reflection from that day:

10 full marathons completed! There are moments in life that change you. These moments are rarely found in your comfort zone. A constant stream of “nothing is given, everything is earned”, “you put in the work, the results are yours to own” and “train your mind…your body will follow” flooded through my mind, pulsates through my veins. Pittsburgh, your marathon was amazing. The hospitality of your city, the vibrant crowd support, and the scenic route were what make it amazing. Your course was grueling and the most challenging, life changing, epic marathon I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t have wanted number 10 to have been any other way. I felt like I was equal parts mountain climbing and running. It never let up. There was no reprieve, but I ran strong. I had my 3rd fastest finish ever and even out ran my husband. I waited for him at the finish. Sweet sweet victory!!! #crossover #runnergirl #runnerofsteel #gameonpgh

 

 

 

Doggy Discipleship: Love Does

Today is National Puppy Day and the perfect opportunity to tell you

(1) There is a God

and

(2) He loves you

I swore I would never own a dog. I have a million reasons why I do not want animals that cannot be confined to bowls or small cages roaming my house, the least of which is the potential for clutter, stench and dander. I mean, why don’t we just get a panda bear or a lion while we are at it?

Don’t get me wrong. I love nature.I love adventure. I love being outside. However, I like my domain.

My selfish reasoning was all very noble of course.

My husband deals with allergies and has PTSD about dogs due to a family member being bit by a dog with rabies that altered his childhood, and I just can’t comprehend wanting an animal in your home who poops, pees, eats, costs as much money as a human kid, and takes precious time out of your day.

In addition, I appreciate cleanliness and maintaining the value of the material objects in my home.

My children, however, were insistent for years in their plea before the proverbial “throne”of mom and dad’s mercy for a dog. A pet. A best friend for the little men to call their own.

I watched their love and care for my mom’s dog and saw the deep desires of their heart. The passion was so deep and intense that my oldest son told me numerous times that his dream in life is to have 5 dogs and no wife. I told him that if he truly gets 5 dogs, he will never get a wife. He can declare a mission accomplished.

My heart started to soften to their requests. I do not know what happened to me except that I told them it had to be divine intervention, and to this, they both agree.

I started researching dogs and breeders and pet stores and pounds. From this, I discovered I wanted to rescue a dog if this pet reality was going to happen.

After some searching, even my husband came around. He discovered that Yorkie’s don’t bother his type of allergies too much, but we knew our boys were set on a dachshund. I definitely wasn’t going to get a dog they weren’t even into. What would be the point? This was all about them, but for Jonathan’s sake I continued to research Yorkies on petfinder.com and just wasn’t at all impressed.

Then one day, in a split second, I saw Chip. He was a DORKIE.He was the fur and face of a yorkie, which was good for the allergies, but the build and body of a dachshund. It was like God created him specifically for my boys.

His little picture pierced Jonathan and I’s heart and literally in the span of an hour, we had the ball rolling to get this dog. Just like God, we didn’t move quickly (boys had been pleading for years), but when the time was right, we moved suddenly. We picked them up from a birthday party and told them what had transpired and they went into fits of ecstatic hysteria. Tears, cheers, disbelief, and celebration filled our car.

I hopped on amazon and ordered a bazillion dollars worth of dog paraphernalia, loaded up on food and supplies at Costco and Target, and made plans for us to drive 2 hours to pick Chip up from his foster mom. He was 10 months old and a nervous wreck when we brought him home.

Between adoption costs (they have a pay it forward system), grooming costs and vet visits, supplies, food, and household puppy destruction, Chip has fulfilled all the terrible prophecies I imagined.

Several pairs of shoes: Destroyed

Rugs: Gone

Carpets: Torn Thread Bare

Multiple types Dog Beds: Ripped to shreds

Blankets: Half Eaten

Leather furniture: Scratched

Piles of poop in the house: Numerous

Time spent training and cleaning up and restructuring the whole house to try to salvage things and keep him from “burning” the place down: way more than I even want to think about

Yorkie separation anxiety and Dachshund Hound induced barking: never ending

Boys in love, learning responsibility, taking charge, and growing in maturity:2

Adults suckered into petting, walking, rubbing, caressing, nurturing, and snuggling:2

Reminders through Chip daily how Christ “adopted” and redeemed us even while we were yet sinners (and still are while wearing these suits of flesh): Constant

You see, we are both the dog and the children in this story. We are God’s children and He wants good things for us. Our pleading to him does get to his heart. He answers our prayers.

But, we are also the dog. We live messy and carefree lives with no thought to the house of God or the plans of God and yet he is still faithful.

PSA: A cat will never happen. If you hear I got a cat, immediately call 911 and have them put me on psychiatric lock down. It means everything I’ve ever stood for has crumbled and I need protected from myself. Not even God would require such levels of “death to self” from me.

 

 

Cupid Q & A

February is typically known as “Love Month”. Of course this celebration of love and romance hits its peak on February 14, Valentine’s Day, the day you are supposed to feel all the feelings, gift all the gifts, and eat yourself into a state of bliss and oblivion, which, if not done correctly, could destroy a night of good romance.

Jessica’s PRO TIP  for “Love Month” and any other ecstasy filled holidays: Even if it’s a supposed aphrodisiac (IE chocolate), especially if you’re in a long term relationship where all guards and barriers surrounding your holiday eating habits have long since been removed,  kiss all your kisses and get cozy before you eat so you can embrace the comforts of long term love and sweat pants for the rest of the day/evening without fear of physical side effects.

In honor of this love holiday, I want to tell you a little about my relationship in case you were curious. If you are not curious, that is OK. At least this post will jog my memory when I’m 118 and I forget details about the man laying next to me.

  1. Who’s oldest?Me by 18 months. I was a cougar before I knew what one was.
  2. How did you meet? We met in college when Jonathan was on a spring break drama tour for his college that came through my town for a performance. His thespian skills riveted me and I’ve been in his audience ever since.
  3. Who was interested first?Technically he was putting the moves on me first the night we met and was chatting me up, however, I was the first to AOL Instant Message him a day or 2 later.  It was the infancy of such technology and my dial up didn’t know what was about to hit it.
  4. Same high school? I’m a public school casualty and he was a homeschooling hermit on the other side of the world.
  5. Most sensitive? This is difficult. Depends on how you define sensitive. While Jonathan is very empathetic, I would say that I tend to get emotionally involved in things at a greater rate than he does.
  6. Worst temper? Unfortunately, me. I have grown enormously in this area though and the fruits of the spirit are ripening. If Jonathan is having an impatient day or moment though, he can get highly annoyed very quickly and be sure to let those closest to him aware of his annoyances.
  7. More social? I am definitely more classically social. I don’t know a stranger and I love to network. I’m a sucker for gabbing. We both have very social occupations and callings though, so you will find us with people and groups all the time. In our personal and friendship lives,  we enjoy spending time with the right people.
  8. Hardest working?Again, another tough one. I would like to say that we both bat 1,000 in this area. We are both highly driven and goal oriented in our professional world, marathon runners as a hobby, and extremely present, hands on parents.
  9. More sarcastic?Definitely me. I’m the joker with a sassy comeback for most anything.
  10. Who makes the most mess? Jonathan It’s not like he “makes a mess”, but I’m definitely the one always picking things up and putting them back where they belong. I don’t have too many complaints in this area though as he is way more cognizant of the trails he leaves behind than 99.9% of men.
  11. Wakes up first?Me most mornings, but only by necessity. I have to get up at Dark O’ Clock to get in my workouts before the day begins. He is, however, the naturally inclined morning person of the two of us and wakes up early even if it’s a day off and even if we are on a vacation. Therefore, I am a hostage to mornings. Even if I want to sleep in, either my schedule won’t let me or I’m awakened inadvertently, or sometimes overtly, by Jonathan.
  12. Bigger family?We both have exactly 1 brother and both of them have 1 wife and 2 sons. We are tied. However, my father is already deceased, so he has one living father up on me.
  13. Who cooks the most? No meals would occur without my planning, shopping, prep, and litany of instructions. He does do spaghetti and eggs, as well as put meat on the grill in the summer if I’ve prepped it all and planned in advance for it. He forgets the planning, shopping, and shelf stocking part and I hate to send him to the store anyway as he always pays way more for everything than needed. My brain is a calculator at the store after years of practice.
  14. Who cries the most?Neither of us. We both are dry as a bone most of the time. I think we need to work through our issues so we can stinking cry.
  15. Better singer?While he can harmonize and sing on key, I’m the singer of the pair.
  16. Hogs the remote?Our kids.
  17. Better driver? He’d say it’s him.

Most patient? We are both tied as works in progress on this, although, he is a faithful, diligent plodder and extremely sweet, kind and caring to me and our sons so I really have no complaints. We are pretty patient with people and circumstances. We have experienced a lot of life, both really good and tragically bad, so the patience virtue has been slammed into us and I’m thankful for it.

Life is a journey and people are work’s in progress. The sooner those tenants are embraced, the happier your life will be.

So that’s that for now. Happy Valentine’s Week all!

funny-akron-marathon-2016This is a tragically bad and yet terrifically accurate photo of our marriage. I look like I’ve gone to the nut farm. Here  I am, tired, sweaty, worn out, and yet still crazy , acting funny, and ready to party. Jonathan, looking ever so neat and polished like a politician, by my side, ignoring my insanity, intensely focused, and keeping his eye on the goal. This was captured at the Akron Marathon September 2016 at the finish line.

Marathon Musings

This week began week 7 of the above 18 week Full Marathon Hal Higdon Training Plan. 564 miles of running are virtuously mapped out in this handy and easy to follow guide.

Said mileage is not counting the final 26.2 mile parade/death march/symposium on masochism, in celebration of the hard work, early mornings, chaffing, blisters, endless loads of laundry, and buckets of sweat and tears.  I have been following Hal’s plan for every single 26.2 mile event in which I have ever towed the line and definitely recommend it.

Hal’s stuff is precise, easy to follow, and doesn’t have all kinds of weird pace and tempo calculations thrown in the mix. My brain is always processing, running is my mediation and time away from precision. Essentially, Hal could’ve written “Running for Dummies.” In fact, he may have. (Someone look into this and let me know)

This week, Valentine’s week, week 7 of the Intermediate Level Training Plan is very significant for me. Now that I’m training for marathon #10, my training doesn’t really kick into gear until week 7. My “off” season running patterns consist of 25-30 miles a week with cross and strength training in the mix, so until I jump above that mileage threshold, my training is more mental prep and anticipation than anything.

I am often asked about my routines, practices, and mileage, so I hope to give the inquiring minds a glimpse into what a very average, middle aged, slow long distance runner does to maintain her mediocre paces as the weeks progress.  (That sentence needs read with all the sarcasm in which I wrote it. I actually kick my tail, own my nutrition, and strive for my best, and yet still come up as a solid mid packer. I guess not every long term love story exists in the land of non stop bliss and progress. Sometimes love is grand. Sometimes it’s mediocre. Sometimes people are oddly inspired by normal. I’m banking on this. I want you to read my angry running rants, sappy running love stories, runs that were inspired into sonnets by nature and birds and joy, and those runs which end with my hip cursing me out.)

I had anticipated telling you about the struggles running and I have been having lately with our relationship, but since it’s Valentine’s Day, I want to honor running for the goodness it has done for me and save the honesty, authenticity and bad mouthing for some upcoming posts. While we are never “on again/off again” (There is no off. Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I’m worn out.), running and I definitely vacillate between engaging in a great sordid love affair, and me playing bitter, angry, and jealous because running seems to dole out the awards and gains I know it has stashed somewhere to other less dedicated people at high rates than it does to me.

Maybe I’m just tired today. Maybe I’m still upset that my husband kept up with me on our pace run Saturday even though he was suffering from some bird flu deal and I, a perfectly healthy specimen, couldn’t even leave him in my dust no matter how hard I tried. Why does he get to snot, cough, and pant his way to a fast finish while I dug deep and pushed hard, only to find him still at my heels? I did have a minor emotional melt down when we hit stop on our Garmin watches, but then I recovered. I can’t break up with running just yet. Passion is a 2 edged sword and you can’t have endorphin highs to the moon without dealing with some demons that creep in and try to convince you to call it quits on occasion.

The true, unadulterated psychotic hold that running has on me exists, in part, because of how hard I work at it sometimes. Can we ever appreciate fully what we don’t have to pour our heart and soul into?

Perhaps, yes, I should revisit what training plans and approaches I use as I endeavor at some point to run the all elusive sub 4 Hour Full marathon, but for now,  the hectic pace of life, work, family, and marathon seasons past is telling me to run for fun in Pittsburgh in may and remember, I don’t have to do this, I get to do this.

A Glance at my Running Week:

Mondays I do the run scheduled for Tuesdays plus strength training/core work
Tuesdays I do the runs scheduled for Wednesdays (medium length)
Wednesdays I cross train plus
strength training/core work
Thursdays and Saturdays I do the 2nd medium length run (which is when I squeeze th pace run) and the other day I do the long, slow run and sometimes do a fast finish or mimic race pace towards th end to get used to keeping it up while tired. It depends no my work and life schedule on which I do on which day. Flexibility is the only way to get it done. The training plan is not a legal document, just an excellent guide. Get it in when and how you can.
Fridays  I do the run scheduled for Thursdays plus strength training/core work
Saturday, see Thursday
Sundays are my “Rest” from fitness day.  I go for a walk before church by myself to pray and prepare, and then often go for another walk in the evening with the dog.

 

 PSA: Dressing in the dark for a 5:30 AM Run and Strength Training Session could result in a deadly mix of color palettes (Although, navy and white on black and purple could be the new trend. Who knows?) . Thankfully, the “lunks” at Planet Fitness are also in a semi sleep deprived state and most likely don’t notice. Also, I don’t want anyone looking at me when I work out. Also, don’t talk to me because the suns not even stinking out yet. Also, I smell. Please breathe my sweaty air and let it keep you away from engaging me in an overly giddy pre-dawn chat session. I’ve come to get the job done so my productivity can kick off, not to make new BFF’s 🙂

 

It’s your job

“Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” –e. e. cummings

Last April, on my 36th birthday, I was approached at an event and asked if I was the mother of one of the young ladies that had just presented on the stage.  Because I was well acquainted with the young lady in question, I stood back flabbergasted. Most likely unbeknownst to the interrogator, I had just been questioned as to whether I birthed and raised a 21 year old.

In that moment I was faced with a few choices:

  • I could be extremely offended that this person thought I was old enough to have a 21 year old daughter.
  • I could assume they knew I was only in my 30’s and were wowed and awed by the prowess I displayed as a pubescent mother.
  • I could be insecure about every line and wrinkle on my face. I could hone in on the dark circles under my eyes. I could become self conscious about my appearance. I could accept that I must look solidly middle aged.
  • I could be completely flattered because this young woman was stunning in both her internal and external beauty and characteristics and this person assumed she was with me, thereby making me also stunning.
  • I could know that, in fact, this person saw we both had blonde hair, had been seen in conversation, and did what everyone else on the planet does, lump all blondes together. Aren’t all Caucasian blondes related?  Although, if I had chosen this option as my reaction, couldn’t they have asked if we were sisters? Why jump to the conclusion that I was mom?

To make matters worse, it wasn’t but just a couple of months before this incident that someone approached me and asked if I was pregnant. I’m the thinnest I’ve been ever in my adult life,and this person also knew I was in the middle of training for a marathon. The two components of thinness and fitness rarely a pregnant female make. Flabbergast was the only appropriate response here.

Short story long, I chose to let the comments go. With the simple extension of a hearty laugh and a knowing smile of forgiveness in both scenarios, the slate was wiped clean. We have all put our foot in our mouth at some point and have probably been the one eating crow. Why then, one year later, do these two conversations still stand out to me with such clarity?

What woman doesn’t worry about maintaining her youthful glow and appearance? What woman doesn’t want to present herself as chic and in control? Perhaps these females exist, but I haven’t met any of them yet. Even the most confident of XX chromosome owners have moments of mirror shaming, photo comparing, and skin, hair, clothing, body envy.

While chicks around the world may have some raw nerves and universally agreed upon taboo points of discussion (i.e. never ask a woman her age, her weight, her income, or if she’s pregnant), the job is up to us to do the hard work of knowing ourselves and our true, inherent worth as a human being. Never leave the job up to anyone to tell you who you are or what you look like. External validation and motivation can disappear as quickly as it appears. It is fickle. It is finite. It is based in fashion and fads. However, a true, deep down, internalized system of validation and motivation will keep your head held high and your confidence soaring whether you’re rocking Jimmy Choo’s or slippers.

We, as women, can be our own best asset or our own worst enemy. Do not hand the job of self validation over to anyone else in your life. Your parents, your significant other, your children, your co-workers, your boss, your personal trainer, or the random person you met online in a chat room cannot and should not be expected to butter you up, prop you up, and fill you up. My value and my worth will not be held hostage to opinions, criticisms, the social media commentary, postings, and activities of others, Hollywood, Washington DC, trends, styles,the cultural zeitgeist, or the random woman in a tweety bird t-shirt and leggings at the gas station.

Take the time to get to know yourself. Learn what it is you like about yourself and what areas you need and want to improve in. Take action everyday towards the person that you are becoming and desire to be. No one else can cheer for you or take that action for you.

The journey is your work to do. Be your own kind of beautiful!

Who knew?

This week my husband and I attended the Parent Teacher Conferences of both of our sons. Of course, we basked in the triumph of hearing about:

  • How respectful and well-behaved, albeit sometimes chatty, that they both are.
  • How talented and gifted they both are (the words of the educators and the results of arbitrary testing).
  • How both of our sons truly give 120% to everything.
  • How foreign it is for parents that have no giant issues to communicate to the teacher about (or vice versa) are actually engaged enough to make a conference appointment and still believe that the education of their children is ultimately their responsibility. Sorry world, their education is not a throne I’m willing to abdicate.

(Please don’t run away, this will not be a post filled with shameless parenting braggadocio.)

The above moment of Mom pride was brought to you just as an appetizer for my observations from modern middle school:

  • Who knew that it was off-limits in the United States of America to discuss the American political system and process during social studies and civics? Who knew that the inauguration ceremony was such a terrible thing to expose our children to?

As an advocate of personal responsibility, we discuss the election cycle, politics, the constitution and the structure of our government at home with our children. Sure, we shelter them from the extremes of  the current harsh realities, as they are not fully equipped to process this information right now, but I am teaching them critical thinking, logic, and how to handle people who have opinions and views different from the opinions and views that they are personally currently forming, and that their parents hold.

Differences do not have to divide.

We have taught our children that politics are just that. They are politics. They are part of our lives, but they are not the sum total of our lives. We love and respect people regardless of how they vote and how they see the world. People are people. Politics are politics. It is possible to do life with everyone in our community, not just those that share every single random opinion that we do. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed for me to agree blindly with any one leader. I’m able to logically see faults and favor in every administration.

Like any educated person would, we inquired as to why there was no mention of the inauguration at school. No discussion on the constitution. No celebration of what makes America unique to all the other high functioning, beautiful western nations in the world. No evidence as to the peaceful transition of power that occurred and the displays of respect that happened between the former and current president, even though their leadership and politics are diametrically opposed to each other.

It is my belief that what is observed every 4 years is a sacred ceremony.  I have watched every inauguration since the 1988 elections regardless of whether the victor was the choice of my parents, and later myself.

Who knew being informed was such a terrible thing?

If you look hard enough, my second observation is right along the lines of this “forbidden” inauguration:

Who knew that the hardest scientific concept for middle school aged humans to grasp is the subject of Mass, Volume, and Density?

This factoid came up in discussion and so I immediately tried to recall when I was taught these scientific principles and instead, came up with how I have currently been working with these ideas and just didn’t know it. I spent my whole life thinking I had thin hair until some wonderful stylist actually showed me looks that were good for me and how to actually do my hair. (I will sadly admit to you that I was in my 30’s before I knew how to fix my hair like a well functioning working woman). The stylist told me that my hair wasn’t thin, but that it was in fact just fine. It wasn’t the mass, or amount of my hair, it was the density of my hair that was causing the volume to look low. powder-play

Armed with this newfound information, I still wasn’t satisfied until one angel friend mentioned to me, in passing this past summer, that they know someone with my same “problem” who told her that “Powder Play” was a game changer. So, I went and bought powder play and my life was forever changed. (Unfortunately I wasn’t offered any free product of sponsorship to say that, I’m just a good American citizen that wants to see the rights of women to have volume and “Texas Sized” hair fulfilled.)

trumps-hair

Now, I’m no scientist, and I’m certainly not a middle school teacher, but wouldn’t the most famous hair on the planet right now have been a good object lesson?

Perhaps in the future, instead of writing off times of political unrest and pretending that they don’t exist, we can highlight the diversity of this country, learn to laugh when you want to cry, and maybe even add a little humor to the middle school classroom.

 

A marathon is much more than 26.2 miles

If you ask a person how long a marathon is, you will get an extremely wide variety of answers. Of those answers, it is absolutely maddening to a full marathoner when someone tells you that they themselves have run a marathon, or their cousin has run a marathon, only to find out that they were referring to a random 5K that they did once. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but a 5K is only 3.1 miles. The “marathon” that these people supposedly ran can range anywhere from a friendly 1 mile charity run to an actual full marathon. I wish that when co-workers, family, friends, and strangers shared with me the tales of their tragedy and triumph, knee pain, and shin splints which resulted from their “marathon” that I could just smile and celebrate with them, but, in fact, I seethe inside. I arrogantly wonder how your 3 mile walk can compare to the 1700 miles I logged in the past 12 months, as if the marathon was my lover and you offended him.

You see, a true full marathon is 26.2 miles in distance, but it is, in fact, much more than that. The marathon is the story of a full season of dedication and preparation, discipline and dedication, fun and labor.

A marathon tells a deeply personal story.

I feel sorry for the people who have signed up for a marathon on a whim, and are just lucky enough to have youth on their side, so they finish this majestic event without giving it the proper training and respect that it deserves. Sure, if you are youthful and you haven’t let your muscles atrophy with disuse, you can stumble your way through this event. You might not be able to walk the next day, and you might curse the moment you were born, but you will receive a medal nonetheless.

To truly appreciate the marathon though, one should get a training plan, set a goal, and persevere through the entire season. The marathon won’t change you unless you fully invite it in. I would venture to assume finishing a marathon without embracing its essence is like the difference between a one night stand and a monogamous blissful marriage. They are incomparable.

As I train this season for my 10th full marathon, I am reminded to respect the distance, lean into process, and know that this journey to the finish line has very little to do with the actual event and everything to do with putting the work in day in and day out. This year, at least for the Pittsburgh Marathon, I am freeing myself from a time goal at the actual event and attempting  to run each training run with the respect that it deserves. My daily and weekly mileage exists for more than an arbitrarily set time by my ego and my comparisons of myself to others, it exists to make me stronger. I have no control over many of the conditions that I will face on race day, but I can determine the degree to which I allow myself to celebrate my trip to the starting line. Even a bad run for me is a good run because I am becoming the person I never dreamed I could be and yet always wanted to be.

I am alive. I am healthy. I am strong. I am fit. I am fierce. I am free.

The marathon, with all of its agony and beauty, has made me a better leader and person, but most importantly it gave birth to my identity as an athlete.

Marathon, you might be 26.2 miles on race day, but my journey has no finish line.

I get asked a lot about my training plans, nutrition, weight loss and maintenance, and running journey. I look forward to sharing with you about this and encouraging you on your path.

 

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Here is Jessica, with her amazing cousin Paul, before she and running hooked up. This photo was taken exactly 1 week before I began my nutrition and fitness journey, and about 4 months before I started run/walking to speed up my fitness journey. The rest is a beautiful love story because running spoke to my soul and no long was about weight.