Sunday, October 24, 2010

Running a Little Under the Weather

Today was the day of my first ever 5K race, and only my second ever race (my first, a 4 mile, I completed just last month).  The River City Rat Race,  held in downtown Fort Wayne, featuring a course that just happened to go right past my mom's house.

Now, in the three weeks leading up to race-day, I started to feel a cold coming on.  I managed to fight it off at onset for the first two weeks.  I get to the beginning of this week just past, and BOOM, the cold sucker punches me right in the nose.  Commence congestion and a sore throat.  Thankfully the sore throat only lasted for a day.  The congestion, however, continues, and invited it's good friend Mr. Cough along for the duration.  Yep, two days before race day and I'm hit with a cough.  Yay.

Obviously, I was determined to run anyhow.  I only ran one time this entire week, on Wednesday morning, in preparation.  But, before this week, I'd been training regularly, so I wasn't particularly worried.

Back to race day.  Upon arrival at the starting line, I didn't find anybody I knew, so I paced through the crowd, doing a few warmup stretches and mentally preparing myself for said race.  All was fine apart from a few nerves, nothing I couldn't handle.  At the beginning of the race, I felt strong, ready to tackle this 5K with a great finish time.  The first half mile or so was easy.  I got toward the end of the first mile and that's when the stitch in my side began to show itself.  Not great, but not unmanageable.  I finished my first mile in 11:05.  As I continued on, the stitch became stronger and I found that I hadn't hit my breathing stride as I normally would well before the first mile was over.  I kept going, determined to not have to stop and walk at any point.  After starting the second mile, it became apparent that I was being affected by this cough/cold more than I'd bargained for and that this was going to be a REAL challenge for me to overcome, not being able to regulate my breath to a deeper, calmer state.  I had to stop and walk (kept it at a brisk walk) to try and rid myself of the stitch and to allow myself to catch my breath for a few moments.

I finished my second mile at 22:30, and from there on I alternated running and brisk walking so that I wouldn't end up doing myself more harm than good.  I admit I got a little frustrated with myself toward the 2 and a half or so mile mark.  I really wanted to rock this run and I was frustrated that this cold was holding me back.  Then, a girl who was herself struggling to keep going kindly offered to run together with me, to keep each other going to the end.  So kind of her. :)

I kept going and didn't stop to walk again until the end.  And now, the part everyone's been waiting for, the results:

Official finish time -- 34:35
Average mile time -- 11:11
Finished 21st in my age division (30-34) and 97th female.

This means that, despite the cold and the brisk walks, I still finished this race with a better average mile time than my Fort4Fitness 4 mile run last month (where I averaged around 12 minutes per mile)!!!  This pleased me very much and has me excited about the 5K trail race I'll be participating in along with Mike and his brother on November 20th.  I'm pumped about continuing to train, and my goal for the trail race is a 10 minute (or less mile)!  Good day and namaste. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finding My Way

This blog is the result of a conversation with Mike today.  He and I met on this day two years ago.  And what an amazing two years it's been.  The two of us have been through so much together, both amazingly good and terribly bad.  And we've weathered it all, together.  We make quite the team!

So, we were driving back from my mom's house earlier and we got on the subject of further education.  My own personal experience with further education consisted of a single semester before dropping out and moving to England.  The England thing is a story for another day.  Anyhow, at the time, fresh out of high school, I had absolutely NO clue whatsoever as to what I wanted to do career-wise for the rest of my life.  I felt pressured to make a choice, so I went with elementary education.  I love children.  However, once enrolled and attending college, I .. I just knew I wasn't ready to commit to one single career path without knowing whether that was really what I wanted or not.

So commence my life as a high school graduate/college dropout.  Fast forward to the present day, a little over a month before my thirty first birthday, with a six year old son, and FINALLY in an amazing relationship with the guy I am absolutely certain I wish to marry and beside whom I would adore spending the rest of my days.  Only relatively recently have I finally discovered my knack, my niche, my path, my purpose.  I am ever thankful to Mike for being my rock and allowing me to cry on his shoulder more times than either of us can count, as I worked (and continue to work) through so many (mostly self-confidence) issues.  It's truly amazing what two people can do for one another and themselves when they're both fully committed to making things work and actually, truly caring for one another.

I have had other support as well.  Regina from Romancing Your Soul always has sage advice whenever something is bugging me.  My mother, bless her, has been by my side, supporting everything I've ever done, whether she felt it was "right" for me or not.  I believe she realized a long time ago that her children would be stronger and better off for being allowed to make their own choices as teens and young adults, thereby learning their lessons the "hard" way at times.  That's not at all to say that she didn't "care" about our choices; she just knew better than to "forbid" the very things we felt were right for us at the time. And, she's always been there to help pick up the pieces and support us when things seem to be at their bleakest!  Her husband, my stepdad -- he too is always there to listen, to help and to encourage.  So happy to have the privilege of calling him Dad. :)

It's an amazing feeling, finally knowing I'm on my heart's path, doing the right thing for myself and my family.  This is the feeling that's been missing, the one that's left such an "empty" feeling in my heart these many years past.  Now, it's a matter of believing in myself enough to be patient and allow the Universe to continue to guide me along my heart's path.  Everything is aligning beautifully and though I'm sure I'll still encounter rough patches along the way, I know that I'm worth being loved, supported and encouraged through them, onward toward fulfilling my hopes, wishes and dreams.  And, as my path seems to be leading toward helping others in a similar fashion, I know that YOU are worth being loved, supported and encouraged as well!  Good day and namaste.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October the Nineteenth.

What a day. Woke up feeling super sad, with no idea why.  Didn't hit me until I was at work, and wrote down today's date for the first time of the day.  October 19.  Memorable for not just one loss (ectopic pregnancy 2006), but a second one just last year (miscarriage).  Yep, that explains it.

After that, though, I began to feel better.  Better about everything.  As if my three little angel children were right there, supporting me, letting me know it's OK to be happy, to be confident, to be the best person I can be.  Truth is, I've been sliding lately, since I hit my first weight loss mini-goal.  Not sure why.  A number of factors all combined together is my guess.  Anyhow, yeah, I've been basically in "maintenance mode" for a week and a half, stalling my own progress.  How sneaky my own self-sabotaging ways were this time!  Suddenly afraid of taking that next step, going that little bit further.

Well, I'm happy to report that I've taken notice of how much of a hindrance I've been to myself these past few days and I'm ready to regain control, confidence and lose some more weight!  I want to ROCK Monday's weigh-in, and, just as importantly, I want to know that I gave it my very BEST at my upcoming 5K race this Sunday.  So, bright and early tomorrow morning, I'll be out there, giving it my all, in preparation for a great race.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this time.  Love to you all!! Good day and namaste.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Please consider joining me tomorrow evening in remembering all pregnancies and infants gone too soon.  For more information and beautiful memorial items for purchase, please visit the official Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day website.

My candle will be lit in memory of my three angel babies:

~ October 19, 2006 ~ ectopic pregnancy ~
~ January 14, 2009 ~ miscarriage ~
~ October 19, 2009 ~ miscarriage ~

Thank you.  Good day and namaste.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aren't We Sweet Enough Already?!

I've seen several posts on Facebook and MyFitnessPal today regarding sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS, or, soon to be renamed corn sugar), artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners.  So, I thought a blog sharing my own personal thoughts on this topic would be appropriate.  Or, perhaps more specifically, I think I'll focus on soda in particular.

Soda.  What is it about this sugary, carbonated, nutritionally-void beverage that has the average American drinking 60 gallons-worth per year?*  No, really.  I wanna know.  What's your personal take on this statistic?  I ask because I'm one of those oddballs who has never really "craved" soda - never much interested in it as a kid, parents never really had it around, never could stand to guzzle such a fizzy beverage so that it normally takes me an hour or more to get through a single can.  Oh, and too much caffeine and I have never really been the greatest of friends. *jitterzzz*

Of course I'm not going to say that I've never touched the stuff, or that I haven't had a few months here and there where I've drank more than my usual (usual = very little to none).  However, almost 100% of the time, I won't touch cola of any sort - I find it far to acidic.  It's as if I can FEEL the acids damaging my teeth & my insides, seriously.  I tend to stick with Mountain Dew or clear sodas such as 7UP or Sprite.  However, since starting my fitness journey, I've come to the point where I'm back to not touching soda at all.  And I'm all the happier for it, too, especially after having read some articles on the effects of soda on our bodies.  I've linked a few of these at the end of this blog in case you're interested in doing some research of your own.

Consuming THIS much sugar, in any form, natural or artificial, is just plain bad for our health.  Really.  What is it about the American diet that has us stuffing ourselves with so much unhealthy garbage?  And, with soda, it's not JUST the sugar that's absolutely terrible for us.  The following health problems can all be linked back to soda consumption: obesity, diabetes and tooth damage (sugar), osteoporosis (phosphoric acid), and harm to major organs such as the kidneys, liver and heart.  Even so-called "diet" soda isn't exempt from this list of ailments.  Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), an artificial sweetener, is a known TOXIN to our bodies.

Let's work together to break the high-sugar habit!  If you're looking to lose weight, one of the first and easiest things you can do is to give up soda.  All those empty calories can easily be replaced with healthier, and just as tasty, alternatives. 

I'd love to have some feedback on this topic, whether you agree or disagree with me.  Good day and namaste!

Other articles of interest:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy or Not? Your Choice!

Many people tend to view happiness as something external to them. As something that money, time, people, or things can offer.  If only they had this, that or some other thing, then they'd be happy.  OK, so these things may offer temporary happiness, once attained.  However, what tends to happen once these things are obtained, then their "newness" wears off?  Typically, we're off on yet another quest for happiness in the next thing, the next relationship, the next windfall.  Welcome to a never-ending cycle!

True, lasting happiness.  That's what I'm talking about, not just temporary, short-lived happiness.  I've found through research, reading, experience and experimentation that it does no good to place your own personal happiness and wellbeing in the hands of another person, place or thing.  Happiness MUST come from within.  Happiness despite adversity, obstacles, flaws, things going awry, etc.  Besides, what is happiness without the other side of the coin, sadness?  There would be no happiness without sadness.  Duality.  Lao Tsu goes into great detail on this subject, within the Tao Te Ching.  The point is not to have absolute perfect circumstances as a prerequisite for happiness.  The point is to practice happiness (yes, practice!) in all situations, good, bad or indifferent.  It's a personal choice, just like being angry, upset, depressed, sad or otherwise is a personal choice, believe it or not!

Just this morning, my day started off typically.  I tend to drag booty most mornings in getting out of bed.  Bed is just so comfortable!  No different this morning.  Got up, got ready for work as usual, and left for the day.  On my drive to work, typical Tuesday blues started setting in.  Thoughts start invading my mind as if they were prerecorded (which they may as well be, seeing as I've thought them into habit!): "It's only Tuesday.  I hate being away from home all day/week long.  Argh, here's to another long day at work." etc.

However, I wanted THIS Tuesday to be different.  I could feel the difference in my body, my mindset, when I started in on the prerecorded thoughts.  It just didn't feel GOOD.  So, not particularly easy for me yet, but becoming easier with practice, I began systematically changing each thought as it came up into something positive.  "It's only Tuesday." became "It's Tuesday and that means the Biggest Loser is on TV tonight. I love that show!"  "I hate being away from home all day/week long." became "I love my family SO much I just cannot wait to get home to them and have a wonderful evening together."  "Argh, here's to another long day at work." became "Wow, I get to take my brand new purse with me to work today; that was just SO nice of my aunt to think of me!" etc.

When I got to work, I decided I was in quite the reflective mood, so I put on my most "spiritual" music - Krishna Das (one of my favorites of his is Pilgrim Heart).  Later, I may switch back to A Perfect Circle (Emotive).  Music is always a HUGE mood enhancer for me.

Basically, I CHOOSE to be happy today.  I could have chosen to stick with my crappy mood.  I could have chosen to get up and be angry this morning.  But, I choose happiness.  It can take some work at times - I won't lie and say it's easy as pie (especially at first!), but with practice, it does get easier and easier.

I choose to stay as positive as possible despite the choices of others around me.  What mood do YOU choose today?  Good day and namaste!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Obligatory Introduction :)

So, here it is.  Not my first ever blog because, of course, I've done the blog thing before, long ago by way of MySpace and, more recently, on MyFitnessPal.  However, I thought that having a place such as this to blog about whatever comes to mind (rather than needing to keep it related to fitness/exercise) sounded like a grand idea.

For those of you wondering about my choice of blog name, it's a Primus song title.  One of my favorites, ever.  It's so ME.  I've always, in one way or another, taken issue with conformity for conformity's sake, tradition just because "that's the way it's always been done", and automatically going along with something without questioning, "Why?"  I refuse to let others do my thinking for me.  I'll ask questions, research and then make up my own mind, thanks.  OK, I haven't ALWAYS followed this in EVERY aspect of my life, but more and more so as I age, learn, grow, and experience this thing we call life.  I can't justify following the crowd for the mere sake of "fitting in".  I'd rather be ME, thanks.  This reminds me of a quote I first came across back in high school: "To get nowhere, follow the crowd."  Still fitting, even today.

Anyhow, I'm open to topic suggestions, if you have something on your mind upon which you'd like to hear my ... dare I say it? ... opinion.  Other than that, I plan to blog whenever the mood strikes (and time allows!), about whatever topic pops into my head on any given day.  I suppose that's as good a way as any to start out a fresh new blog, yeah?

Any hints, tips and suggestions from more seasoned bloggers would be appreciated.  I'm all for trial and error, figuring out what works and what doesn't for me and my blog as time passes, but if you have a tried-and-true hint, tip or trick, please share.  All part of the research and experimentation process!

OK, intro complete.  Off for now to get some work done and ponder possible future blog topics.  Here's hoping you stick around with me to see what becomes of this, my own little bitty corner of the vast blog-iverse.  Good day and namaste!