Motivation Monday: Ryan Hall

After watching a history-making 2011 Boston Marathon this morning, in which world records were met, an American woman finished 2nd, and an American man finished 4th, I’m quite insipred and quite motivated.

Who was that man in 4th? Ryan Hall. An amazing person, an amazing athlete, and an amazing man of his Faith.

A friend shared this video entitled “How Does Running Glorify God” a while back, and it put my faith, my struggles, my triumphs, and my races both on road and in life, into perspective.

Feel free to check it out, or just keep on reading through your blogroll if this doesn’t interest you. I won’t be offended! 🙂

“My career is basically about pain management. It’s how much pain can you handle, for how long can you handle it?” -Ryan Hall on the marathon

The blessing (and curse) of Google…

I’ve come to realize lately just how much of my time is spent on Google. Sure, sometimes it’s purely out of procrastination (kindof like me writing this post right now instead of working on a take-home exam), but a lot of times I spend hours on the search engine trying to find any information on anything. I’m weird that way, I suppose.

First of all, I need to say, I’m not writing this post to look for your positive accolades about the things I may chose to do in my life. I’m writing this post to be honest. And to bring awareness to something that doesn’t get enough.

The fact that we, as a society, have the opportunity to have all this vast amount of information readily available is a pretty awesome blessing. Without google, I wouldn’t have find some of the many blogs I follow, for one. Search engines have changed our world on many levels.

Yet, they’re also a curse sometimes. What do I mean? I’ve always googled CP. You never know what new info or people have surfaced as resources. When I was younger, I would search things because I didn’t want to ask anyone else about things. Now, it’s a little different. Now, I’m a little sick of asking people and getting their “professional opinions” instead of facts. Yes, there is a difference.

I know that the internet isn’t always the best source but, in my opinion, it’s better to hear from someone with similar experience than someone who has spent their time only reading about things in textbooks. Lately–maybe in the past 6 months or so–the search has expanded from just CP to CP and…

  • CP and…running
  • CP and…marathons
  • CP and…exercise/Crossfit
  • CP and…walking

Okay, so maybe there is a pattern here. And maybe I am a little insane. But this is what I’ve constantly been spending my time Googling lately. And this is where the curse comes in. Sure, I’ve found some valuable contacts, like Greg and Amy, and read some amazing stories, like those of Dominique and Marissa, but there isn’t much more info out there.

For some things, it’s no big deal, but for many others it’s frustrating. Like the fact that there are no “training plans” for people with disabilities who want to run an endurance event. I get that those are often very individualized and have to be altered, but nothing?? You can’t tell me no one has ever done it. Clearly people have. Same thing with walking. Same thing with Crossfit. Okay, maybe not Crossfit, because that’s a bit of a “new” thing, but exercise certainly. People (of all abilities) exercise everyday!!

That’s when Google becomes a curse. When you’re looking through this amazing super-database, and the information is just not there.

The more time I spend on searching, and the more I try to come up with my own database for myself, the more I am introduced to a new chapter in my story and a new meaning to my struggle. Maybe I will do some of these things and maybe, when I do, I will be able to get the world out to others who are just as frustrated by this wall. Did I just say I’m going to do a marathon? I don’t know. I guess you’ll have to stay tuned! 😉

Note: this wasn’t meant to attack Google. I’m hating on all search engines equally! 🙂

Blast from the past…kindof

Heart racing, breaths deepening, everything surrounding you gets fuzzy.

I can’t quite explain what it feels like. The room around you fades to grey and all you know is yourself.

Nothing else matters, nothing else is present. Just you and your work.

Sometimes it’s the ones most hard on you that know just when you need that extra push. Or yell. That reminder to keep moving. The clock is against you. They will not hesitate to tell you that.

Faster, harder, stronger. It’s the only way. Or someone else is going to beat you to your glory.

You’ve worked too hard for that to happen. Show it off.

So things have been rough. Everyone screws up. The only important part is that moment you reach the end.

That moment when you look into someone’s eyes and you connect. Realizing that for the first time,

YOU see what everyone has seen in you for so long now.

One set of words echoes in my head. “Did we learn something tonight? That you really can do this?”

It’s really simple. Almost too much so. But those 2 sentences mean the world to you when you are on the receiving end.

And for the first time in your life, you are ready to thank yourself. Not just them.

Because you did it.

Every step, every word, every heartbeat, every drip of sweat. It was all you. There was no more fear, no more hesitation. You went for it and you took it.

As you start to come into focus again and your surroundings reappear, it is in the moment when your eyes connect with someone else’s in the room that you see how truly awesome what you’ve just done is.

This is something I wrote a while ago (maybe almost 2-3 years), yet when I was reading it I was amazed at how true it rings for my life right now and for the 5ks. Sorry, I know, shut up about this topic already!! But I can’t. 🙂 This seems to kindof capture the feeling I have when I’m out there on the course, why I do it, and what it feels like at the end. You see, as I’m heading off to Boston, I’ll leave you with a little problem to ponder that I’m facing. It’s not really a problem, but still.

I don’t just want to walk or run 5ks. I want to be good at them. Really good. Finishing with the pack kind of good. Something definitely changed inside of me this last race!!

My next 30 days

I should be writing a paper right now, but my brain stopped functioning academically about 2 hours ago, so that’s out of the question. I still cannot stop thinking about the 5k last weekend, which got me thinking about my next one. No, it’s not scheduled yet, I’ll report it here first (or close to first) as soon as I decide.

What I was thinking about more is this deal I made the night of the Columbia Road Race with a friend.  We both have goals and things that we need to go after and give ourselves a shot at; something neither of us have really been committing to, because the motivation isn’t always easy to find.  We decided starting last Monday all that was going to change.  I couldn’t move for the first two days, so my goals were strictly stretching, and then on the third day, I did a quarter mile run. At running pace. I’m not just calling it a run for dramatic purposes. 🙂 Then, I quit. The pattern continues.

Tonight I started thinking about committment and accountability. I am currently accountable to myself and someone else because of this deal, but is that enough? It’s going to have to be. I’ve kept up with so many other things before, I can’t let whatever mental block is going on with me stop this. Let’s look back….I have barely used my walker since April 23rd. That all started on a 30 day “dare”! Why can’t that happen again? 

So I started again today.  I decided to keep myself even more accountable, I’m going to make this a 30 days of blogging too. My own little version of 30 days of truth that’s so popular here in the blog world. Some days I may post about what I worked on for the day, some days it may be something completely unrelated–who knows!! I just figured it’d be fun! 

Either way, I’m itching to do another race before it gets too cold, and I’ve got to get going!! 🙂 I’ve officially caught the endurance bug.

Thanks for checking in again! I appreciate it!

but Freedom can never be found behind those walls

…so just let ’em fall, just let ’em fall.

Well, here we are! The official “Camp Care 5k Recap”. As I’m sitting in bed, still trying to stretch parts of my body I didn’t even know existed before yesterday, I’m still in a state of shock and awe over how amazing yesterday was. I’m going to try and walk (no pun intended) you through as much as I can, but I’ll just say upfront that there is not much I remember after seeing the mile 3 sign, except praying my body would keep moving until I saw the timing truck and the finish line!

We arrived at the race about an hour early; plenty of time to get checked in, stretch, and let the nerves really start to build up! My sister had decided to come run the race with us (with jogging stroller and 14 month old in tow!) and my mom, aunt, and uncle came to see us off at the start. I met up with Dan and a few other friends that were running the race and it was nice to stand around laughing for a little bit before we had to part ways until the finish line. We were all standing around and out comes the video camera and Dan asks me what my goal time was. Something I had picked out in my head, but wasn’t planning on sharing at all!  I looked away for the camera for a minute, then thought of that saying “if you don’t declare your goals, they’re nothing but thoughts.  Armed with fear and anxiety, I declared 1 hour and 45 minutes as my goal.  I completed this race in 2:11:33 last year, so this seemed good to me. Plus, that meant an average of about 32 minute mile, so I figured I could try for it.  On this course, there is a .3 mile walk to the official start, so about 10 minutes before start time, I decided I’d had enough standing around worrying and stressing–it was time to go!

Heading down to the start line I had all sorts of thoughts circling around my head. What if things go wrong? Should I really be doing this? Again? Why, exactly, am I here? Why is it SO cold? Wow. That old guy’s shorts are REALLY short! But most importantly, the last thought I really remember thinking was I belong here. I belong on this start line, with these people. I sent up a quick prayer to the Loving Father to watch over me and all of my friends running the race, that we’d be safe and injury free, and that He’d show me my way if I started to lose my thoughts or feel like I was losing Him, over the next few hours. My aunt came through the crowd of runners to give me one more good luck hug before we started and my sister and I waved good luck to each other from afar. I decided to move up a little closer to the start line so I would waste too much unnecessary energy, and saw Dan one more time. We exchanged a “have a good race boss” and that was that.

I went into the day telling myself I was going to take things slow, save up my energy, and just focus on finishing, but as soon as that gun went off pure adrenaline was coursing through my body.  I don’t know if it was that I was in the middle of a pack of actual runners, or that I was just so nervous I had to go, but I took off running. Literally. I really wanted to stay with people as long as I could, and that’s what I was going to try to do. I kept up a running pace for maybe a half mile, then decide it was time to back off a bit and just focus again on the end goal.  I also was going to try to only stop every mile if possible. So far everything was working out. We got to the mile 1 time check at 28:21; 4 minutes faster than my target time and 5 minutes faster that the previous year! I was ecstatic! 🙂

All I really wanted was the time check at mile 1. I was feeling good and didn’t think that stopping for a real break was necessary yet. Half a mile later, we were reaching the main road of Rt. 66 with traffic speeding by us (luckily there was a wide shoulder) and the hellish 1.5ish mile hill up ahead. It was a good place to stop, take in some water, and mentally prepare myself for what was to come. This hill and I have a history, a very long, angry history. It’s slow, but painful. Yet I’ve now learned it looks much worse than it actually is. Last year on this hill, I cried. A lot! I was mentally and emotionally defeated before I was even halfway to the top. I stopped at least 10 times. This year, I took off head down, and was determined to push through. About a quarter mile up the hill, I saw my sister running toward me, having finished the race and come back to make sure I was okay. I have never been more excited to see a member of my own flesh and blood. Just having her there gave me a little more energy to keep going. Fast forward to about half mile left, and I see a white hat coming over the top of the hill, running toward us. I had to wait until I saw something more than just a hat, but I knew it was Dan. In that moment, I’m pretty sure I started crying. Only for a second though, because my energy needed to be on the pavement beneath me. I was not expecting this at all. I knew he was going to finish with an amazing time, and expected him to be waiting at the finish with everyone else if anything. I was doing fine, it wasn’t that I needed rescuing, but we have a unique friendship in that we know what makes each other tick, what buttons to push, and just what to say to motivate each other in a time of need, whether it’s through pissing one another off or lending a heartfelt comment (in my case, it’s usually the first that works best!); something that’s innate within the both of us, and makes us both thank God we were luck to find each other as friends, and I knew I’d need that in this last leg of the race. And I was right. I did need it.

FINALLY, we saw the stoplight indicating we were on the downhill and almost ready to turn onto the little over half mile finishing straight (which was straight, but definitely not quite flat). My sister turned to me and said “Okay, Molly when you get here you can’t stop, you just have to finish” and I was going to try my hardest. My steps were getting slower at that point, looking back now, I think it was definitely a bit more mental, knowing I was at the end and wanting so badly to be done, but more on that later. Really the only thing I remember from that point on was all my friends and family around me telling me I could do it, to keep going, Dan telling me to keep turning over each step, and the State Trooper in the car behind us blasting Hey, Soul Sister. Yeah Train! When I saw the timing truck and the owner of Crossroads/director of Camp Care at the finish line, adrenaline kicked in again. I managed to squeak out one little run/sprint to the end and crossed the line with the biggest smile and sigh of relief known to man.

I heard the timing company report my time of 1:54:16 and, while I couldn’t be happier I beat last year’s time by 17 minutes! I couldn’t help but think I was only 8 minutes off of my goal time and thought of spots where I could have pushed myself harder. Part of this comes down to my training, or lack thereof, and how that would most definitely help my times and endurance. I tend not to train as formally as I should or could, solely because I don’t take the time to modify training plans to my needs or don’t think that it matters since I’m not an elite runner.  The thing is though, it does matter, because I do go out to these races looking for my own PB times. Personal Bests. The other half of this is the mental component. As I blogged about prior to the race, I tend to shut things off mentally before I even give myself a chance physically because I believe I know how it is going to go. I was much better about not doing that as much this race, but old habits die hard and it definitely hindered me a bit!

One more piece of this 5k puzzle. The title of this post and opening line come from another track off of Matthew West’s new album The Story of Your Life entitled “The Healing Has Begun”. It’s all about carrying the weight of the world and your struggles on your shoulders and finally realizing that you don’t have to do that. That there is someone else who holds the key to your freedom from those weights and those struggles, and sometimes you just have to let your walls fall down to find Him. It really hit me during and after the race yesterday, that I am starting to embrace that Freedom. In ways both large and small, the walls are slowly coming down, and I’m committing myself to believing, working, and fighting until my battle is won; whichever way I find most important and for however long it takes. Maybe I’m not running full 5ks right now, but I’m going to start training as soon as I can feel my legs again. It may take a year, it may take more, for me to reach my goals…but yesterday I was led to a key that unlocked a door to one more way to Freedom in my life.

Thank you all for supporting me through this race. On Twitter, on the blog, phone calls, e-mails, and prayers. I felt every bit of it! I’ll try to post some pictures and videos soon! They’re being temperamental right now. Happy running, walking, or whatever it is gives you your Freedom!

Why Do I?

I may not entirely love being an unemployed college graduate right now, but if there’s anything I do love about it, it’d be all this free time I have to think up, and write, more blog posts!! What wisdom do I have to share today you ask? Well, it’s not really wisdom at all I don’t think. Instead, I thought I’d give my readers a little glimpse into my brain and what makes me tick. Lately, I feel like my life has solidified, more so than ever, around three interests–passions if you want to call them that (I do!).

These three passions are: Cycling and Spinning, Lance Armstrong and his LIVESTRONG campaign, and 5k races.

For the past 20 days, I’ve been getting up at ungodly hours (okay, maybe not, but they are for a college grad!) to watch the 2010 Tour de France. Now, my first motivation for doing this was to watch Lance Armstrong in his second year of a retirement comeback and his-really now-last official Tour. More on that later though. I’ve been a follower of the sport for many years now, since Lance Armstrong’s original comeback in 1999 after his battle with cancer, and I often get asked if I stopped watching the tour when he retired, or if I’ll keep watching now that he’ll really be done. My answer is always yes. Cycling is not just a sport that you can check yourself out of when your favorite rider is gone as you might with some other sport. I don’t just familiarize myself with the top riders in the peloton (big group on the road), I know them all. I make it a point. I’ve learned a lot about the tactics of this intense endurance sport, and see the benefits of cycling being both a team and individual sport. Cycling has truly become one of my passions.

It is because of that passion that I took up spinning-indoor cycling-in the summer of 2007. I knew that I probably could not ride a true road bike, for reasons I talked about in this post, but eventually Spinning became my road biking. It became my release of negativity that life can sometimes bring, and my hour of “me time”. I cherished, and still do cherish, my ability to spin at least once a week. I know this is not something that not everyone can make the time for and I know that many people with CP or other disabilities might have difficulty doing. I thank God that I was blessed to believe that I could take part in such a class and go out and do it. Thanks to my beginning interests in cycling, spinning is now a passion that I can’t live without.
Lately, I’ve developed an interest in another interesting endurance sport: running. Okay, so maybe I don’t exactly run, but still. It all started last October. A friend of mine called me asked me if I wanted to do a 5k with her that Sunday that was going to benefit Camp Care, the free camp for children with special needs, run by Crossroads Physical Therapy which I’ve talked about here. I could not turn down the opportunity, but 3.2 miles? Continuously? Was I nuts? Yes! Not only was this a continuous 3.2 miles, but it was ALL uphill!! Except for the last .2 miles. Either way though, I walked the entire race and finished it in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 33 seconds! It was the most amazing feeling to cross that finish line on my own and take pride in such an accomplishment. After taking part in that 5k, I realized that you don’t need to be running to have the “runner’s high”. It’s simply chasing a dream, feeling on top of the world, and in control. Run or walk. I’ve done another 5k since-the George Washington Bridge Challenge 5k across the GWB. It was an American Cancer Society event I did with my friend from college who has a cousin diagnosed with Leukemia shortly after birth. He is now 6 and in remission!! Again, it was an amazing experience. I completed that race in 1 hour, 18 minutes, and 12 seconds! I think the major time difference had a lot to do with the GWB being completely flat, but it was also the attitude. I’m doing my next 5k 2 weeks from today. The Hope is Coming 5k to benefit the Smillow Cancer Hospital. My goal is to get my time down to an hour or less (slightly irrational I know).

Okay, I’ve shared two of my passions. By now I probably just sound like a crazed “wannabe athlete”. Some of you might even be saying, “But this can’t be safe/healthy/whatever you’d like to call it, because you have CP” So, WHY DO I do this?! Well, that’s where passion #3, and the strongest passion of all comes in.

It started as an idol, moved into a hobby, and has now transformed into a mantra and a way of life. LIVESTRONG. The one word motto from Lance Armstrong after he launched his foundation to raise money and awareness for cancer research. I’ve always looked up to Lance for his courage, strength, and overall ability to fight, and beat, the odds. When he launched LIVESTRONG, I just looked up to him that much more. Whether he ever enters the pro-peloton again. Or any sporting event for that matter, he has taught me what it really means to fight, to triumph, to believe in a cause, and to make a change. THAT is why I do this. Because it’s not a matter of just living, but living strong. With every pedal stroke and every step I take on a course, I am putting the LIVESTRONG way of life into action.

If I ever doubt my abilities, or whether it’s safe for “someone with CP” to be doing these things, I look down to my left wrist where my yellow LIVESTRONG wristband sits, and am reminded that this is my life, and I will hold the same attitude I have since I began following Lance Armstrong in 1999.

I know I have a wide variety of readers to this blog, but I encourage you (and your children!) to find your own ways to live the LIVESTRONG way of life. 🙂

Photo Credits:

Peloton Photo:

Livestrong Photos:

A winter of…running?

I started this blog post a month ago in an effort to inform all of you loyal readers about my newest endeavor to run another 5K in April and talk about how I was going to train for it using a training plan that any “normal” runner would use. Well, the title of the post is still accurate, but my topic has changed. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m still going to be running the 5K, it’s just not what I feel the need to share right now.

What’s on my mind is running of a different sort. Running from my fears, running from change, and running from the one thing I so desperately want. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few months. And it took a car accident, some extremely tough love, and a lot of tears for me to figure this out. I’ve always been a dreamer. I strongly believe that we are nothing without our dreams and our dreams, hopes, and aspirations are ultimately what make us who we are. So, you’d think for someone who believes this, I’d have no problem following my own dreams, right? Wrong. I’m the one that everyone loves to share their goals will. I’ll believe in you unconditionally. It’s in transferring that belief onto myself that the problem starts to develop.

I love adventures. I love that adreniline rush of doing something that you never thought you could–that everyone told you you couldn’t do. Lately though, I’ve been running. I’ve been running in the wrong direction, listening to the voices of those who tell me I should just live this life like it is, and I’ve been trapped by my fears. I pretend like I’m moving through them and going after my dream, but I’m actually just going through the motions.

Fear is such a strange emotion. It can motivate you or it can paralyze you. It may not seem that you can control the outcome, but I’m starting to learn that you can. You have the choice to let that fear become real, or to take that adventure and be willing to fall…and hope you succeed. As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m realizing how ambiguous I am when I write sometimes. So, for once, I think I’m going to put it all out there and be honest.

That one thing I so desperately want: to walk
My fears (maybe in a particular order, I don’t know though): falling, failing, proving everyone right if I do fail, wasting my time, it not being enough–it never being enough…just to name the few that are almost always on my mind.

I feel like I’m just rambling. I promise I do have a point. It just might not tie into a neat little package like you’d want it to. Life never works that way. The other night, I was having a particularly rough time with this whole fear thing. I’ve recently been blessed with some great opportunities and some that I thought would be great and “the answer”, that ended up getting cut too soon–or so I thought. Here I was, thinking that I needed someone to tell me exactly what to do and when to do it if I wanted to succeed. Since I didn’t have that person, I didn’t think it could happen. This has been a pattern of mine for years. Luckily, I have someone in my life who can spin me back to reality every now and then and tell me to suck it up, face my fears, and do what needs to be done.

I was–and still am–afraid to be alone, afraid to be out there with myself and trusting myself to succeed. But, this isn’t for anyone else, but me. I’m starting to see that the people around me care; but their worlds aren’t going to crumble if I don’t succeed. They have their own goals and fears to deal with. This has to be for me; first and foremost, and when I succeed and am happy…THEN everyone else that I want so badly to include will be there…they can’t hold my hand all the time, because then I’m not walking alone. Literally and figuratively.

Where does this fit into running? Well, I told you we’d get there. This winter in still the winter of running for me. While I’m literally running to try and take on this 5K on April 25, 2010 with a time less than my first of 2:11:31, I’m also running away from these fears that have trapped me for far too long and toward my dreams. Each day of training, each step whether giant ot extremely small, will, without a doubt, bring me closer…because now I know, more than ever before, that I am giving my all–for me. On that day in April, my ultimate goal of walking by myself across our graduation stage will be liss than one month away; and while there is a lot of time and hard work to be put in between now and then, there is one thing I know for sure. Because I’m willing to let myself fall, and do this for me, my committment to this goal has never been stronger, and will not falter.