I Have Met the 5k, and I Have Vanquished It.

This past Saturday, I completed my semi-short term goal of participating in a 5k. I’ve been training for it in earnest since the beginning of the year, taking in more miles on the ellipticals and on the track at the Rec Center than I ever had before. Once what snow we did have was gone and it was warm enough, I moved my training outside. A week before the event, I had my mom drop me off at the starting point so I could walk it on my own. Finally, after weeks of walking and jogging,  it was St. Patrick’s Day — 5k day. The Campbell-Dickinson St. Patrick’s Day 5k Run/Walk is a fundraiser for the Trinity Foundation’s Trinity Emergency Assistance Relief Fund, which helps provide financial support for cancer patients and their families. It is named for cancer survivor Jenny Russlee-Dickinson, a teacher in Toronto, and the late attorney William “Pat” Campbell. Through St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity helping children with cancer, people could donate $10 to have their heads shaved in front of everyone. Nearly everyone was out in their greens, or wearing the leprechaun shirt you got if you registered by a certain date. (Oh darn, a “free” t-shirt that I didn’t get… shoot.) I, however, as an Irish Protestant, was rocking the orange, making me stand out in a sea of green and white.

I look like the leprechaun compared to that guy behind me... (Photo via Facebook, TEMS Joint Ambulance District)

I walked with my best friend, Kara, who was registered with Team Hospice of the Valley (the people in blue). According to an email sent out by the group organizing the event, 819 people were registered to participate. After the runners took off at 11:30am, everyone else lined up almost around the block to start the walk. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get the starting gunshot for our part; they must have used their one blank for the runners… People were lined up on the sidewalk cheering on all of the participants, and as we headed north through town, others were on their front porches cheering for us. One little girl stood at the edge of her porch giving everyone a thumbs up as we passed by, so I turned around and returned the gesture.

My boyfriend came down the night before to support me, which was pretty awesome of him. In the week prior to the event, my sister would tell me all the things she was going to do as I walked by our house on the route, including booing me (out of sweet, sisterly love), throwing confetti over me, giving me the Gatorade shower, and holding signs with slightly questionable inspirational messages. I’m glad she opted for signs. When I passed my house, these are what she and Brian were holding:

Actually, this is true. By 4 days. I guess a lot of people got a kick out of this sign.

Hey, Dad's forehead, where did you come from? Also, don't mind our sad fence garden. The flowers should be in soon.

Can I be honest, though? 3.1 miles seems like a lot longer than it actually is. Maybe it was the turn-around point, or maybe it was because I’ve driven the route so many times… I’m not sure. And it’s definitely different from walking a track or running the same distance on an elliptical. I came in at 1:02:38, which is about what I expected for a 3-ish mile walk (I’ve got short little legs, remember?), but it was still shorter than the times of some people who chose to run it. Maybe next year. As I rounded the corner to go back to the main staging area, I saw my mom, sister, and boyfriend walking towards me to congratulate me. I was informed that I could use a shower, but they still took me to McDonalds for me to indulge in a large Coke and fries. I didn’t give either of those things up for Lent, but the day I inexplicably went on a Coca-Cola hiatus just happened to coincide with Ash Wednesday. I’m very glad that I challenged myself with this 5k. Giving up excuses for Lent really helped me prepare for this, and blogging about my goal probably helped, too. Thank you all for your encouragement, tips, and suggestions along the way. So what’s next for me? I don’t quite know yet. Let me graduate in May with my Master’s degree and we’ll go from there. But, it’s very likely that I’ll be accumulating more race bibs in the future!

Tramps Like Us, Baby, We Were Born to Run…

Have you ever had to participate in one of those group ice-breaking activities? You know, where they ask you some random thing about yourself and you usually have to stand there for a minute or two and say “um” multiple times? Like, “if you were a cartoon character, who would you be?” (A mix between Lisa Simpson and Leila from Futurama, obvs.) Or, “Give us a motion to associate with your name,” to which I respond by recreating Olive’s Super Freak routine, move for move:

However, if I’m ever asked what animal I would be, I’m going to respond “bumblebee.” We’ve all heard that very scientific fact that the bumblebee should not be capable of flying because of it’s awkward body and tiny, fragile little wings, but it does.  In that sense, my friends, I am like the noble bumblebee. I’d like to think that my little legs get me where I need to go. Perhaps not very quickly, but I get there. So, this is probably why I surprised myself a little bit when I decided that I would participate in the 2nd Annual Campbell-Dickinson St. Patrick’s Day 5k Run/Walk in my hometown. I’m sure a lot of other people never expected me to want to participate in such an event, either. I chose this as a short-term goal for myself towards the end of last year. But, I actually really enjoy working out, when I can get to it, of course; it’s just that walking/running is perhaps on the bottom of my list of enjoyable workouts, which looks like this:

1. Zumba      2. Lifting      3. Running/Walking

 I just find it boring, especially if you’re on a treadmill or just walking around a track multiple times. You’re not really getting anywhere. I do enjoy using the ellipticals at the Rec Center, but I have a hard time finding one that’s parked below a TV with a channel I like. Most of the time, I end up on the machines closest to the TV showing CNN or VH1. I need something to motivate me when I work out, which is why good music is an absolute must. Zumba obviously has fun, energizing music to dance to, although I do appreciate it when there are Top 40 songs mixed in with raggaeton, salsa, and cumbia. It makes it easier for me to do the arm workout or squat songs at home. When I lift, I prefer something with a slower, heavier beat, that puts me in a kind of, let’s say… overly self-assured attitude. That should explain why Kanye West shows up a couple of times on my lifting playlist. Actually, looking at a small sample of it, a lot of it is rap, I guess:

1. Let Me Blow Ya Mind – Eve w/ Gwen Stefani
2. God’s Gonna Cut You Down – Johnny Cash
3. Amazing – Kanye West
4. Black & Yellow – Wiz Khalifa
5. Can’t Tell Me Nothing – Kanye West

Johnny Cash? Where did you come from? Whatever, that song is hard. Anyway, I’m walking in this 5k on Saturday, and I need to update my playlist. I’ve already taken out the songs I skip most of the time whenever I work out, and this is what I have left:

  1. American Girl – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  2. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
  3. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
  4. Born This Way – Lady Gaga
  5. Devil’s Dance Floor – Flogging Molly (It is St. Patrick’s Day, after all.)
  6. Dog Days Are Over – Florence & the Machine
  7. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – The Blues Brothers
  8. Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
  9. Get Me Bodied – Beyonce
  10. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones
  11. Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars
  12. Kissing the Lipless – The Shins
  13. Let It Rock – Kevin Rudolf w/ Lil’ Wayne
  14. Please Don’t Stop the Music – Rihanna
  15. Proud Mary – Tina Turner
  16. Rebel, Rebel – David Bowie
  17. Rebels of the Sacred Heart – Flogging Molly
  18. Renegade – Styx
  19. Sabotage – The Beastie Boys
  20. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
  21. Single Ladies – Beyonce
  22. Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
  23. Tighten Up – The Black Keys
  24. U.S. Bumper Sticker – Red Wanting Blue
  25. Under Pressure – David Bowie & Queen
  26. What’s Left of the Flag – Flogging Molly
  27. You’re the First, the Last, My Everything – Barry White

But, I need your input. I’d like to have a few more songs on this list in case I don’t want to hear one of these. My only stipulation: absolutely no country music.

So, what would you suggest I listen to while I participate in the 5k this weekend? For those of you who have run/walked a 5k before, any hints or tips? I’ll check back in sometime next week and let you all know how it went. Thanks!

“You don’t choose a life. You live one.”

I’m on Spring Break this week and, boy, has Spring made itself known today. The weather here in Northeast Ohio is beautiful, with the temperature forecast to hover near 70 degrees for the next week. This afternoon, after doing some writing this morning and spending a little time out in the sunshine, I decided to watch my latest movie from Netflix. I’m trying to be better about actually watching the movies soon after they arrive and then sending them back. I tend to let movies languish, and my list of movies isn’t growing any shorter.

I’d been looking forward to this movie though, so it wasn’t too hard to watch it.

The film in question is The Way, written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Emilio’s father, Martin Sheen. I  love both Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, the former from his days playing President Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing and the latter from the other movie he wrote and directed, Bobby.

The Way tells the story of Thomas Avery, a California ophthalmologist, who travels to France to retrieve his son Daniel’s remains after Daniel is killed during a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago. The Camino, also known as the Way of St. James, is an 800+ kilometer pilgrimage route from the French-Spanish border, through the Pyrenees Mountains and the northern Spanish countryside, to the city of Santiago and its Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where the remains of the apostle St. James are (reportedly) housed.

Thousands of pilgrims have traveled this route for more than a thousand years, to find God, to find themselves, to find enlightenment, to see nature, to experience life. Thomas Avery doesn’t agree with his son Daniel’s choices, scolding that not everyone has the “luxury of just leaving it all behind,” but he loves his son greatly, despite their differences. After arriving in France and claiming Daniel’s body, Thomas, having no intention of staying, decides to walk the Camino and spread Daniel’s ashes as he goes.

His journey is deeply personal, but also communal as he shares experiences and his grief with other pilgrims walking the Camino. Thomas completes the Camino, both for himself and for his son Daniel, arriving at the Cathedral in Santiago to experience the daily Pilgrim’s Mass (a true sight to see). The Way has changed him, like it changes all of his companions.

I really liked the movie, but it may not be for everyone. It’s slow moving at times, very introspective with brief moments of comedy. But, it’s not about the movie’s pace, it’s about the overall meaning.

We’re all searching for something. Faith, answers, guidance, beauty, fresh air, history. We all go on journeys too. Maybe not walking the Camino or even going on a long trip, but we all take voyages – through nature, books, art, music, etc. Our purpose when embarking on that journey is hardly ever the same as we learn it was when the journey is over — we always learn something different or more than we expect.

But that’s okay.

That’s the point of the trip.

Where have you journeyed? Where do you want to journey to?

What do you think you’ll find along the way?

Maybe I should just get rid of the bar…

I’m not really good at setting New Years Resolutions. Over the past few years, I’ve thought of various things that I’ve wanted to give up or change about myself, but to no avail. Like many of you (and I hope it’s not just me), my goals are long forgotten within the first few weeks of the new year. I’d move on to more important things like starting classes again, catching up with family and friends, and spending far too much time watching the season premieres of various television shows. During the time period in which I did set goals for myself, they would be to a relatively high standard (for me) that would drastically change the lifestyle I had been living. Sometimes, they were unrealistic and often left me feeling upset and disappointed in myself because I didn’t accomplish what I had set out to do.

Don’t get me wrong-I am a very competitive individual and hold myself to a high standard. Fortunately (or unfortunately in some cases), I expect a lot out of myself (and sometimes others) and get really frustrated when my expectations aren’t met. It’s probably one of the reasons (at least at an unconscious level) that I stop setting goals at the beginning of each year.

While I was home for break, I had the pleasure of spending a considerable amount of time with many of my high school friends. Despite the years, distance, arguments, and lack of conversations at times, many of us have managed to stay close! Without fail, I can guarantee that I am going to see them and do something silly with them whenever I am home (or whenever other friends come home). One evening, I was at my friend’s apartment and we had a conversation that I’ve been thinking about since that time.

It was shortly after the new year and I believe we were talking about setting resolutions. At the time, I had been thinking about setting a specific goal for myself for the new year, but was worried that I would fall short of my desired outcome. Telling my friend this, she explained to me the difference between high-jump goals and long-jump goals. Despite my experience in the field of psychology in which we discuss such things, this topic was unfamiliar to me.

High-jump goals have a specific bar you have to jump over (like in track). If you don’t make it over the bar, you fail. For example, someone may start off the year by saying that they want to lose 15 pounds by the end of February. If they do in fact lose these 15 pounds, hooray! However, if they don’t lose them all (even if they’ve lost 14 pounds), they haven’t accomplished their goal and are often left feeling disappointed.

Long-jump goals are different than high-jump goals because they are more lenient in their presentation. With a long-jump goal, there is not a specific standard you have to meet (or bar you have to jump over). Your goal may be that in the first two months of the year, you want to lose weight. Regardless of how much weight you lose after those two months, you’ve accomplished your goal. With long-jump goals, you aren’t left feeling disappointed in the same way that you would be with a high-jump goal.

After this conversation (and reading up on this topic a little more), I realized that many of the New Year’s Resolutions I had been setting had been high-jump goals that often left me feeling disappointed if I didn’t accomplished exactly what I had set out to do (even if I was really close). I think many of us have a tendency to make high-jump goals for ourselves and when our expectations aren’t met, we become discouraged and don’t try anymore. However, by changing our frame of mind and the way in which we make goals, we can accomplish things that we might not have tried if we kept giving ourselves a bar to jump over.

So, I decided to take that conversation and apply it to my own life. This year, I’m not going to have a set goal that I need to meet. I’m just going to work on some long-jump goals. One goal is to be healthier. So far, so good. My fridge consists of mostly fruits and vegetables, my freezer is stocked full of frozen vegetables, and my friend and I bought gym memberships at our school on Wednesday. (We’ve already gone 3 times. Side note: Spinning is intense. Yoga is fun…ish).

Now, let’s not kid ourselves. Some things lend themselves better to high-jump goals. YThere are certainly times in which a high-jump goal is necessary. For example, at this time next year I should be done applying to PhD programs with the (high-jump) goal of getting in. If that doesn’t happen, I will be devastated…and you will have to hear about 🙂 (Umm…hopefully that doesn’t happen, though)!

So, how are your resolutions going? If you’re struggling, just get rid of the bar 🙂

My Semi-Short Term Goal: Run a 5K

I must admit that during my freshman and sophomore years in college, I grossly under-utilized the incredible Recreation and Wellness Center we have on campus. As a freshman, I may have used a few of the machines in the basement of my dorm, but I was way to shy (or something) to go use the Rec Center. I started taking Zumba classes offered at school and quickly fell in love with the upbeat atmosphere and the fun, always-encouraging instructors, Leighann and Samantha. My senior year, I got a little more serious about making a habit of going to the Rec Center. (It didn’t hurt I had a goal of looking smashing by the time a friend’s wedding rolled around in February.) I added the Women & Weights Group X class to my workout, taught by Caitlin, another fabulous instructor at the Rec Center.

At The Andrews Recreation & Wellness Center, getting my Zumba on with Sarah Lew. (I'm the awkward one on the left.) 🙂

I really don’t think I can stress enough how important a friendly, encouraging instructor is for a fitness class. They change the whole attitude of the class; some people who have never really worked out might be intimidated by how intense the other group members are or by complicated steps or sets. A good instructor will make everyone in the class feel comfortable and confident. These ladies all go above and beyond that.

During my senior year, I signed up for my first Burn & Earn incentive program. Each week of the program saw an increase in the points you needed to earn or time you needed to spend working out to move on to the next week’s challenge. However, I didn’t entirely complete the program: I didn’t do the “climb the rock wall” challenge. I know my limits, and I’m just not interested in the rock wall. But that’s ok. Seeing my name on the wall near the locker rooms was the incentive I needed because I felt accountable to something, or someone, to complete those work outs. Grad school has severely limited my workouts, especially now since I work 20hrs a week and have 20hrs a week of internship, not counting the 9 hours of class in the evenings. It gets old having to bring lunch and dinner to school with me on most days, so when you add workout clothes, it all just seems like a hassle. I took on the Burn & Earn incentive program for this semester, but my change of season allergies had other plans and took me down for about a week. But it’s ok. I go as often as I can, and I don’t feel guilty for falling behind in the program. I can reconcile how busy I am and how exhausted it leaves me by the end of the week with how often I am able to hit the gym. (Although I’d like to go more often and make it to the classes I love.)

That’s why I’m challenging myself with running in the 2nd Annual Campbell-Dickinson St. Patrick 5K Run/Walk in Toronto on March 17, 2012. I already run a 5k (3.1 miles) on the elliptical at school, so I should be able to do this, right? I know I’m going to need to train and work up my endurance, but even if I’m walking across the finish line, I still will have accomplished something I never would have imagined myself doing 5 years ago. The great part about it is that it runs right past my house, and after a turn-around, the finish line is just around the block from my backyard. I can just picture my mom and sister sitting in lawn chairs in the front yard as I pass by, cheering for me.

I think I can, I know I can. Keep me accountable.