Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's not about how slow you finished but that you FINISHED!

Ok, today I am jumping straight to the point..for all you newbies out there...slow should not be in your vocabulary.  Slow implies that somewhere there is a fast. And when it comes to being a new runner, fast doesn't exist.  You are just getting your running feet and taking them for a test drive.  What does that mean? It means that you are learning or dare I say training.  I know some newbies can't seem to grasp the fact that the moment they lace up their running shoes. step outside or on the treadmill with a plan to do so many seconds or minutes of running etc...they are actually training.  The most common training for new runners is Couch to 5K, so I will use it as a reference.

As a newbie doing the Couch to 5K plan, each run is a long run. Why?  Because each run is expected to last longer than the last one.  By definition, that is a long run and even for seasoned runners, long runs are done with less emphasises on pace and more on endurance.  So do you know what the seasoned runner does? You guessed it, they do it at a pace that is slower than their race pace.  

As a newbie, you don't have a race pace. You only have a long run training pace and since you have no race pace, you don't have a slow pace. You can't have one without the other.  So stop using that four letter word: SLOW.  I have a better one for you : TRAINING pace.  That four letter word is negative and there is nothing negative about what you are doing.  You dared to believe you could run.  Most people don't even try because they are too scared.  You had the courage to believe you could.

I spend sometime on a running forum at  A word I seem to see from many newbies is the word "slow".  And here is the funny part, most of them are faster than me!  So what does that say about me and my pace?  Not a darn thing!  My pace is my pace.  I am in a race against no one except myself.  My first goal in any race:  to finish.  My second goal:  finish at a better or same time that I did previously.  And I must admit, that second goal doesn't happen all the time and I am okay with that.  

I am extremely proud of my run yesterday.  I finished and I felt good...okay I was dying because I didn't realize when I started sprinting to the finish line that what I thought was the finish line was actually just another corner to turn and I had about 100 yards still to go.  But when I caught my breadth, I felt great.  So you want to see how I did?

That's right!  I was fourth from the last in my age group!!!  Who freaking cares? I finished the Galveston Toughest 10K, which is my second Toughest 10K of the running season.  And yes, I am feeling a little bad ass about it.  As the elite runners were running back over the bridge in their mile 5 while I was hitting my mile 2, I yelled, "looking good!  Looking great!" and gave them thumbs up.  And you know what?  A lot of them did the same thing to me. And when I ran that last stretch, with my headphones blaring in my ears, I could still hear all the people cheering as I sprinted at a 13:38 minute pace. That's right! typo here!  My sprint at the end was 13:38 minute pace.  

So don't tell me about how slow you are or you can't even run a minute.  You probably can't run that minute because you are starting out too fast.  I know, I did that for a long time and repeated week 1 of Couch to 5K several times because I wouldn't slow down.  But you know what? Once I got over my need for speed and slowed down, I could run a minute then two, then 5, then 20 then I ran a 5K and now 10Ks.  But it would have never ran my first 5K if I had not put my ego to the side and trained at my training pace.

So be proud of your pace. Be proud of your desire to run. Be proud for each week that you add another 60 seconds to your run.  You see that last name on my picture?  They announced the last runner was about to come around that corner and run to the finish line  You would have thought a celebrity was coming down the road.  Hundreds of people ran to the finish line to cheer her on.  People were running behind her, like crazy fans.  And she ran across with all the pomp and circumstance that she deserved.  If this had been an endurance sport...she would have been in first place.  And you want to know something?  She shaved 11 minutes off of her Kemah Toughest 10K time!  She is hardcore and I admire her.  Can you imagine if she finished the Kemah one and said, "Gee, I am too slow and not sure if I want to do this anymore?"  Don't be that person. Be the person that sees their race finish as an accomplishment regardless of their time.  You're only competitor is you and most of the time our thoughts are our biggest competitor.

 Remember, you got this!!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Livestrong: Helping Survivors live strong

It 1998 I became a member of an excusive club.  It is so exclusive that you can't volunteer to join it.  You have to be invited and the invitations are sent randomly to people all around the world.  They are sent to the young, the old, the rich and the poor.  No country, race or gender is left out.  But unlike most invitations, this one is met with fear.  Think Katniss from the Hunger Games and the lottery.  

By no means do you want to receive this invitation but when you do, you are willing to fight to the death.  In 1998 I was handed that invitation.  It said, "You are cordially invited to attend 8 rounds of chemo, 6 weeks of radiaton, double mastectomy and reconstruction.  You have been selected in a fight to the death against Stage III breast cancer.  Should you win this fight, you will win the honor and title of Survivor."

It has been over 15 years since I received that invitation and each day I thank God for His strength as I went through that battle and became a member of this club.  I don't wish it on anyone but the view of life that I have after it, makes me feel blessed that I did receive the invitation  Can't explain it but when you meet another survivor they understand.  There is this secret "knowing" that you  feel when you meet another survivor.  There is this experience that has altered you for the rest of your life that only another survivor can understand.  I consider it a privieldge when I meet another survivor.

That is why I am so grateful to the Livestrong foundation and the YMCA.  They teamed up to offer a free 12 week training course to any cancer survivor.  It is done in a group environment to promote  support among the survivors while helping them begin or maintain a healty lifestyle and minimize the side effects of treatment.  During these 12 weeks, the survivors, as well as members of the family that reside in the same household, receive free membership to the YMCA and free group training.  

We have met for three weeks so far and I must say that I am really enjoying it and learning so much.  There are 8 survivors in our inaugural Livestrong group.  We have 6 breast cancer survivors, one melanoma survivor and one rectal cancer survivor.  The youngest is 25 and the oldest is probably in her 60s.  We meet twice a week as a group but are encouraged to come more often.  We will be exposed to all forms of exercise.  We use the treadmills, ellipticals, crossfit trainers and weight machines.  This week we will take a yoga class and a spinning class.  If you are a subscriber to my blog you know how I feel about spinning and my last experience with spinning.  But I will try it again. Here's to second chances.

So if you have a family member or friend that is a survivor and you think they may be interested in a program like this one, contact your local YMCA and see if they have started one in their center.  It is a wonderful program.