All I Need to Get Up and Keep Going

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They say a promise is a comfort to a fool. Hmm… I don’t know, maybe it depends on the promise? And the fool? All I know is the promise of Spring keeps me running. These winter days are numbered and so are all the layers that go with them. So in-between time, I focus on keeping myself motivated and getting in tip-top shape for the glory days.. heck yeah!

Staying focused, happy, confident and motivated is a lot of work; It demands many self-lectures and constant support mentally, spiritually and physically. Aside from that, there are a few things I just can’t go without, especially during this time. I find comfort, speed and my get-up-and-go attitude in these running must-haves:

Faith: in God and in myself. One depends on the other and I depend on both. I find strength and hope in the One who runs with me every day. His quiet presence and constant care helps me to rely on and trust in His love for me through all seasons and all things.        

My Running Group: this is how I get the majority of my speedwork in. Since the importance of speedwork to the competitive runner cannot be overestimated, I swear by these speedies, they’ve made me question the term “limits” time and again.      

Running shoes: my Mizunos are my road babies while on the trails Saucony gives me wings.                                                       

GU gels: for anything over 10 miles these gels have become a necessity for running efficiency. Half the time, I suspect age is the culprit. I never needed these things till recently.

Head/Ear band:  I only don’t wear these in the summer, in every other season they provide comfort from the cold and acts as a buffer from the noisiness of my surroundings.                                               

My Gamin/Phone: used to be a time not so long ago when I wouldn’t hesitate to leave either of these behind but it turns out I’m often competing with myself out there and they act as my time keepers.

My Nike Rain/Wind Jacket: I am the real deal and I even have a talisman to prove it. Lol. Really, since the cold has started, I have not been a day without it. Indeed I shudder to think of running without my second skin, I would not survive..I mean that.

As they are, they may seem a pithy list but in truth I don’t need much and I like to keep it simple as there’s only so much keeping up I can do – at least in this instance I’m a minimalist. On the other hand, what’s on this list actually have a big responsibility: getting me to Boston and beyond. So far they’re doing a darn good job of keeping me focused. My faith expects nothing less of course.

What It Means to Run with Faith

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 “I have learned that track doesn’t define me. My faith defines me. I’m running because I have been blessed with a gift.” –
Allyson Felix

Ten years ago when I started running seriously, I would never have imagined it becoming so intricately woven into the fabric of my life that not a day goes by when I either don’t run or think about running.  Back then, my future mapped out looked pretty simple: humanitarian work, writing at some level, and travel and adventure on the side.  The New York City Marathon was to be a bucket list event among a host of others.  Today, I remember it as the running event of a lifetime that inspired many others.

I recall completing my first half-marathon and the heady feeling that ensued, but I really didn’t think it would transform into the passion for running that it is today.  Life often hits you with nice surprises like that.  Eight years ago when I moved to the united States, I moved with a ton of baggage by which I don’t don’t mean suitcases; rather, my issues and a ton of issues on top.  In hindsight, running was my saving grace. If you have ever made a major change in life, then you can attest to the life transforming event it is.  Because I was in a new environment, where a lot was also new to me, I had to find something that was at once comforting and familiar, but which gave me the opportunity to lose myself and not focus on the uncertainties I was faced with.  Enter running – my saving grace – it became my outlet, my escape, my connection, my mode of survival.

Running, I discovered peace, beauty, tranquility, inspiration, challenge and a profound sense of self.  Conversely, my future loomed, a blank, uncertain canvas.  Many years, runs and races later have added splashes of color and slowly an image is breaking forth.  The process has been painstaking: deliberate and tough, but extremely instructional and not a journey I could have completed without my faith.  Daily, those runs have taught me that I do not, nor have I ever, run alone.  I am immersed in the love of God; whether evident in the trickle of a running stream or the mad rush of a waterfall, the burst of sunrise or the quiet outrageous sunset; He runs with me.  In the white mass of winter or the first signs of spring, the solitary morning run or the packed course filled with runners, every step I take, I take with Him.  He surrounds me with His presence, covers me with His protection, enfolds me in His love and when the going gets tough, armors me with His strength.  He is the wind at my back, the lift in my legs and the power in my stride.

Running Heals

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Running is one of the best solutions to clear the head. -Sasha Azevedo

How many times have you felt the need to get away, to disappear, to just up and run away from the stresses of life: pain, sorrow, disappointment, and the clichéd heartache. The ever looming shadow of death, illness or disease of a loved one can be a frightful threat become reality. For everyone, at some point, life can become overwhelming. Even for the most positive of us challenges arise. How do we cope; refresh our minds, renew our Spirits and become inspired again to face said life, only with a new perspective, from a different place, better able to treat with the issues of the day, stronger and more enthused. If I may venture a suggestion, a remedy, a  practice, a solution, an oasis to your desert experience – it is running.

Often in the last few years, in the face of life difficult moments, I’ve found that my answer has been to throw on some running shoes and hit the road. People would often joking ask – what are you running away from – and unknowingly they would have hit the proverbial nail on its head because sometimes that is the only answer I have to the crazy stuff that life throws my way. Not that I’m running away from life issues as a coward turns away from a challenge but it is more of a step back and regroup sort of approach. You see, the thing with running is it puts distance between the moment/issue and me. To me, this is paramount when dealing with issues of great magnitude and grave importance. The initial surge of energy as my feet picks up speed and as the air rushes by allows me to clear my head as my mind travels. I breathe and run, letting go of the weight of the world, breathing in the gift of life, the further I run, the more I become.. as a dove, peacefully flying as new sights and sounds set in, my senses become alive and attuned to the call of nature and soon the dove is behind me as I’ve taken on new wings, soaring like an eagle I’m now larger than my problems, I am not my pain, nor my sadness, nor my distress. I can feel it, embrace it even, as part of the human process but I don’t have to be afraid or feel overwhelmed anymore. I am not alone, never alone. I can do this. I can face life, I am ready.

Indeed, with my world re righted, I’m now ready to take on whatever life decides to pass my way. Mind you, it’s the same me, I haven’t changed personality or character but what has changed is perspective. People who know me, know I’m big on perspective..It’s everything. Running gives me that; it’s no wonder I call it my happy place, I now have a new or fresh spin on things. It does not mean that I’m not bothered, angry, disappointed or hurt, only that I can now apply wisdom; seeing through the eyes of faith I am now in a stronger position to deal with the various feelings and emotions that are part and parcel of  the challenges of our human existence.

Running Miami

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Less than twenty-six days stand between me and 3:25, my projected finish time for the Miami Marathon on February 2. I feel pretty confident I can achieve this time despite my last result here in New York, as nothing is more motivating to me than failure. Some may say The INGNYC Marathon wasn’t a failure and maybe so, given my injury and all, but I see Miami as an opportunity to redeem myself – to no one but me.

Training this time around hasn’t been so easy. Post the NYC run, I was still struggling with recovery from my ankle injury and was forced to take pretty much all of November off while I resumed running on Thanksgiving Day. Then along came Christmas and my Georgia trip, where I managed to squeeze some running in but not a lot.  Back to New York and it’s been crazy cold, snowing, even frigid at times; not-so-great weather for running outside, but here too I’ve been trying. I’m looking at the days dwindling away and I’m like..”wait!” But of course time waits on no one, least of all me, and I’m getting quite antsy here trying to get my miles in. I’m not too worried though, I’m relying on God, determination and self motivation to get me up-to-speed and across the finish line in record time.
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In the final weeks leading up to the big day, I’ll be altering my regime somewhat to accommodate, what I pray is, a healthy and whole ankle. Not that my training plan for New York wasn’t ideal..it was and worked great in spite of the circumstances, but I really couldn’t reap the benefits then. So I’m speeding things up a bit, with the promise of ‘nicer’ weather on the way. A long run this weekend is long overdue followed by a shorter recovery run on Sunday. Thereafter, I’m planning five days of running next week; to include another long run and then on to some short tempo runs the following week. As I taper down leading up to race day, I also plan on stealing a day for some cross training, which will provide the necessary variety to keep me sane. My diet will see some slight changes as well, as I increase carb intake and amp up hydrating methods to include coconut water, tomato juice & smoothies..I love! Finally, stretching, stretching and stretching; very important to avoid injuries and to keep my muscles agile and relaxed.

Beautiful Miami, you inspire me!

Faith-filled or Foolish

IMG_3583As a runner, you pretty much dread getting hurt but what you dread even more is finding out you can never run again. In 5 & 1/2 days I will face the run of a lifetime.  It’s all that I’ve thought of, breathe, worked at, and been able to see, for at least two years now.  I should be thrilled; jumping and running up and down with glee and in preparation, instead I’m thrilled in a boot and doubting my sanity as I press ahead with plans to run on Sunday.

I’ve had so many of my friends, family and concerned well wishers advising me to put it off – ” there’ll always be another race, it’s ok to miss this one” they say.   I don’t know if it’s ego, tenacity, faith or foolhardiness but there’s something in me that won’t let me give this up.  I just can’t quit! Even with the thought that I could suffer a greater set-back, that I could cause further damage..irreparable damage even, does not give me pause. The more I consider it, the more I am convinced that I’m neither reckless nor crazy; what I am is a runner who knows my body and my limitations.  I also know the hard work I have put in to arrive here and I trust the God who has made it possible.  The latter reason being the one above all else that has me convinced I am going to do this, that if God has brought me to this point, He is totally able to take me through and beyond; too, I’m by no means pursuing this in a haphazard manner, I am diligently utilizing all avenues to ensure I am fit and ready to race; yet I cannot say what will happen on race day.  I pray that I will have an amazing race here in the most awesome city in the world! Now to turn these nagging little voices into encouragement & optimism, because all I can afford right now is positive energy.

A Runner’s Nightmare

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It’s been nine days since the Staten Island Half  and my ankle injury.  I am trying to have patience, be faith-filled, faithful and calm and not freak out but I  don’t know how good of a job I’m doing.  Twelve days before the biggest race of my life and I can’t run! How do I deal with that? The crap that’s doing laps in my mind when I can’t – do laps that is.  What will I do? What should I do? These are just some of the questions I’m living with these days.

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Fear, uncertainty, disappointment, anxiety, pain and a host of other little monsters are vying for first place in my mind.

Yet, I’m unshakeable in my conviction that I’ll be better and running in the company of some 40,000 plus runners come Nov 3.  That being said, I’m reminded of how we sometimes and unintentionally take things for granted: ourselves and our abilities, other people, things and situations – not really considering how fragile, transient and fickle it can all be.  I mean who really thinks about all of that when things are going well? As is often said, why borrow trouble? But the truth is, everyday, each moment, every gift and ability we have and each person in our lives should be  treasured, as it’s all part and parcel of who we are and what we’re about.  Imagine having to do without a piece of yourself, eventually you adapt sure but you’re never the same.  So for now, I hold on to my faith and pray that when it’s all I have left that’ll be enough; staying preoccupied in a whirlwind of doctor’s offices  and medication – doing my part as I not-so-patiently wait on God to do His.

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