Sunday, February 5, 2012

Happy New Year

Time and its relative speed never cease to amaze me. I believe time flies when I'm spending too much time in anticipation and not savoring each moment of my life.

So much has happened in the amount of time that I haven't written.  I stopped writing at the height of my training for the ING New York City Marathon when I started to feel consistent, moderate pain in my right hip.  I was afraid of putting any of that pain in writing because I wanted to hold onto my denial for as long as possible.

The only thing more difficult for a runner than running a marathon is not running a marathon.  What a strange and wonderful journey I took through the fall/winter of 2011.  I experienced every single emotion when I realized that the marathon, let alone running period, was just not an option.

In the process of medical care for my hip, my doctor discovered another issue that required surgery, which meant even more stillness, rest and even the inability to work for a brief period.

It was during my period of stillness that I experienced a number of invaluable self-discoveries.  I was fully in the moment, fully aware.  I was the most still I had been since the birth of my son.  I realize the challenge for me is never to make the time or commitment to exercise or even move more, the challenge has always been not only to be still but discover what I can learn about myself in that stillness.

Energy begets energy and sometimes the last thing I need is more energy.  During my extended holiday my body and mind were at ease.  I felt the healthiest I ever have both inside and out.  I experienced what I believed all along: that wellness starts within and only then can move outward to the physical self.  What I didn't realize was how much I "needed" internally...awareness, stillness and intention.

When I returned to work (and exercise) I had never felt, looked and thought better.  My approach to my schedule, especially exercise, is very different.  Quality over quantity and a re-structuring of priorities.  I still have a wonderful love affair with exercise, particularly running.  But it's no longer co-dependent.

Little did I know the restful, inactive period prepared me for a few major happenings in my life that have catapulted me to a whole new chapter:  passing a highly regarded certification exam and breaking through some fear and apprehension into self-employment :)

The passion for what I do is stronger than ever.  The universe has certainly put me where I will be most useful to others.  2012 has already proven to be an exciting year.  I can only imagine what the other 11 months will bring.  As long as I'm rested, aware, in the moment and willing, good or bad or indifferent,  I'll welcome it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Refreshed and Ready to Go

Ahhh, vacation.  To me, not only a luxury but a necessity.
Today we are returning from a ten-day vacation on Martha's Vineyard.  It was such a wonderful experience: lots of uninterrupted, quality time with my husband and little man; beautiful landscape with miles of green farmland, colorful beach-side cliffs and one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen; the most celebrated, historical (150 years old!) and iconic agricultural fair, a very successful fishing trip; and, as promised, the most spectacular fireworks show on earth.

But the quality of my vacation is not only in the location, duration or itinerary of the trip but in my ability to live in the moment.  When I stay in the moment, time doesn't fly.  When I savor each experience, I have no need to worry or ruminate.  Mindfulness is the best way I know how to give my over-extended brain a break. 

I've had a lot of great workouts on this trip...thanks to the extra hour and a half I get in the morning while the boys sleep in.  I had one long run of about 12 miles from the town where I stayed to the next town up north.  Plenty of ocean and scenery to distract my legs.  I did the same trip on my bike one morning.  A few miles to and from the beach a coupld days rounded out the endurance.  The whole family struggled with a nasty cold so my breathing suffered a lot. 

I visited a local yoga studio, which is always a treat.  I always feel at home and the people are always genuine and friendly.  I spent a few mornings on the mat in our back yard, once with Aidan along side me modifying his own little practice.  I will treasure that morning forever.

And now back to life at home.  I did spend a day or two feeling "in the weeds" but it was all worry and no reality.  My brain is so used to overdrive.  I'm still learning to relax and realize I'm never really behind...well, not as much as I think :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sometimes it Hurts but I Just Keep Running

My husband and I went to the Laurel Highlands yesterday.  It was beautiful.  We wanted to spend some time outdoors, which we both love.  He spent a few hours fly fishing and I spent a few hours on a long run.  I love running long on the Great Allegheny's scenic, flat and surrounded by fresh air.

I set out and had a great couple hours.  The only downside of the trail, as opposed to running in the city, is that once you run an hour in one direction you have no other option but to turn around and come back.....there are no short cuts, no different ways of returning.  Every time in this circumstance I always have a bit of apprehension about that second hour.  What if I get dehydrated?  What if my legs give out?

Of course these are real possibilities but I could never run a marathon if I let these fears dictate my running.  Yes I was sore, yes my knees hurt.  And I was certainly thirsty...I only had one bottled water I carried with me.  Unlike the city, there aren't too many (if any) water fountains a long the trail.  But I made it.  I ran the second hour faster than the first.  I ran over 14 miles and felt great for having done so.

During my run I was thinking about my younger years when I really ran competitively.  No one ever taught me to work hard.  I really didn't know how or what that meant.  If I started to feel uncomfortable during training or even during a race I always backed off.  Always.  I suppose I felt that if I pushed it too hard something bad would happen.  Plus I just didn't like to feel uncomfortable.

Really the first time I overcame this was my first marathon a few years back.  Hard work never promises no pain.  But most often there is always a reward of sorts on the other side.  This lesson shows up everywhere in my life these days.  Discomfort means growth in so many circumstances.  All I need is a little faith and support to wait out the discomfort long enough for the miracle.  I am so grateful that I've learned this over the course of my young life.  As long as I respect my body and my spirit, hard work always pays a dividend.

I'll just keep running!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

So I biked

I woke up very exhausted this morning.  My eyes stung and begged to be closed for just a bit longer.  I am rarely tired in the morning...waking up this way is a very rare occasion. 

Part of my exhaustion was due to the great 8-mile run I had yesterday.  It was a beautiful, sunny but cool morning and I ran from my building downtown across and along the river.  I had no music ( I think my iPod is dying) so it was a nice change.  I had a very long conversation with myself, another rare occasion when I literally talk to myself as if I'm talking to an old friend.  For a long time if I were "talking" to myself internally it usually wasn't nice.  But yesterday was nice.

Anyway...I planned a no-run day.  I also havdn't ridden my bike at all since last week so I planned on commuting to keep the legs loose and save the $12.

As soon as I woke up I immediately thought I was too tired to get on the bike.  I spent the first 20 or 30 minutes of my day deliberating as to whether I should bike or just drive.  I've gotten in the habit of sitting quietly, usually outside next to our garden, and meditating for a few minutes before I jump into the action of my day.  Starting my day off like this has done wonders.  After clearing the cobwebs and breathing fresh air into my body, biking became a good idea once again.

So I biked.  And not only was it a good idea, but I was so energized and livened up by the exercise.  I took my time.  It turned out to be one of the more pleasant 10 miles on my bike that I've ever had.  I got to work and the rest of my day followed suit.

The moral for me: when I don't feel like doing something - and it could be anything - is probably the time when I need to do "it" the most. 

A lot of times I do need a break, a rest or something mindless but most of the time I don't feel like doing something for other reasons such as fear, avoidance, disbelief.  And the miracles happen when I act despite my fear...every....single...time.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Corporate Inspiration

I have had a smile on my face for days.  I recently wrapped up one of the most involved and rewarding projects of my career.  I developed a corporate wellness program in which the objective was to educate and inspire staff members to make positive lifestyle changes that would ultimately improve their energy, stress management and productivity in and out of the workplace. I was granted the opportunity to run this program with Simpson McCrady, an insurance brokerage company in my building.

A few days ago after three months the hardest work I've ever done, we finally celebrated the winners and the unbelievable success of those who took part.  The program was also highlighted by KDKA, the local CBS affiliate here in Pittsburgh, this week.  What a reward!

Here is the link:

Words cannot express my satisfaction of the outcome of this program.

  • 32 employees participated
  • 88 percent of those who participated utilized all aspects of the challenge (group exercise classes, one-on-one training sessions with me, fitness assessments, tracking steps with pedometers, wellness seminars)
  • 97 percent improved in 2 of 3 areas (of their choice) that included weight loss, dietary changes, increase in strength and/or flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, increase in mindfulness and decrease in stress 
  • Folks who were aiming for weight loss (15 people) lost a total of 113.5 pounds
  • 25 percent decreased his or her body composition for a company total of 15.7%
  • 47 percent lost inches in various areas of their bodies (mostly waist)
  • And 28 percent maintained an exercise program for the first time in his or her life.

AMAZING!  Simply amazing.  I'm at a loss for any additional words to add but I'm sure I'll come up with something in the next couple days.

Thanks to all for the endless support throughout this whole process.  You all know how hard I worked and how all-consumed I was from April-July. And thanks to the amazing folks from Simpson McCrady who showed up, trusted me and did the work day in and day out to make the program such a success!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


GAMETIME!  I'm about three months away from the NYC marathon.  Time to train!  I'm also just about to kick off my fundraising campaign. problem.  I've only been running my whole life. I have a great base already; I've been running consistently the last 4 years.  My plan is actually to reduce the days in a week that I run and improve the quality of those runs.  I'm thinking one long run, one interval day and one tempo day; biking and yoga the other days, when I have the time.   

I had a great run at Heartwood Acres on was the first time I had ever been there.  I didn't know what to expect.  It was a beautiful park, lots of wooded areas (my favorite) and lots and lots of hills.  I ran about 10.5 miles, half of which were uphill.  Great workout! 

Running is such relief for me.  It affords me time to think, brainstorm, pray or just enjoy the beauty around me and stay in the moment.  And to have the opportunity to help other people just from running a race is just another way to pay forward my gratitude for something that comes to easily to me.

And now, off to the treadmill! The heat and humidity is absolutely ridiculous here in Pittsburgh today. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Little Dose of Exercise

Boy am I grateful for exercise.  I was running outside the other day in between clients.  I wasn't having the best day.  At one point I could feel my perspective shift from one direction to the other, which started  a cascade of gratitude for my ability and desire to exercise.

Exercise was literally the first way in which I learned how to "take care" of least physically.  I always knew that I was doing something good for myself and in some way, it made any particular circumstance better.  I had always had a tendency to build up emotions with no idea of how to filter, channel or deal with them.  I started to learn via exercise.  I learned that exercise was a means of relief.

By now I have learned how to take care of myself in many other ways...mental and emotional.  And trust me, I'm still learning.  But every lesson becomes more clear to me by ways of exercise.  I don't always feel like heading our for a run or going to a yoga class or picking up the weights....but those are the workouts that create the most changes.  It's the same in other areas too.  For many years I avoided any difficult internal work ...I even denied that any work was needed!  Now I have come to sit through the storm and have faith that:

1)  NO emotion or feeling lasts forever.
2)  Discomfort usually means growth (as long as no major harm or injury is occuring).

Oy....always working on something.  Keep calm and carry on!