For as long as I can remember, I told people "I can't run." But in March of 2009, I decided that this was no longer an option. From my first 5K to my second half marathon, I've endured my highest highs and lowest lows as an official Runner. This year I want to embrace running for something beyond times and distances.

Running is so much more than merely getting out there. I want to get out there and love it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

'Something' Mondays

Ok so I have this idea to, from time to time, feature someone I know who has rocked it out athletically and in a unique way. And since Mondays usually blow, I think Mondays are a good day to feel inspired. But I can't come up with anything punny or cute as a moniker, sooooo ideas are welcome!

Well there are less than two hours left in this week's Monday and I'm determined to get this going! So this week you can be inspired on Tuesday, which--as my dear friend Nicole oft declares--is the new Monday. (I tend to agree.)

The first person who came to mind when I was throwing this whole new outlook together is my running blogger friend Claire. I'm not so sure she'd be thrilled to be up on my pedestal today but tough cookies!!

Anyone that spends any significant time around me has heard of barefoot running. Not because I do it, but because I wanna. Well Claire does it. And not just like to be cool or something. She literally runs barefoot, runs barefoot well, and has even decided to march in a bucket o' gravel to maintain her sweet barefeet (she's not crazy, people do this!) in the "off-season"...I use air quotes because in Claire's world there IS no off-season! She runs in the bitter cold and snow (YUP! Barefoot!)

Our story began last year...she somehow discovered my own blog and it turned out we both were determined to train for our first half marathon despite kinda being newbies to the game, more or less. She always gave me the best pep talks, pep types? Well our Halfs were on the exact same day and it was pretty cool having someone going through the same thing I was that day. Very exciting. Also very cool that we basically got the same time! But speaking of times, what I especially wanted to point out about Claire is that it's not really about numbers and schedules. Oh sure she's got her numbers and schedules! But underneath it all is this absolute FIRE. Her running career isn't completely driven by numbers (like mine might have been), but by this undying passion to run. If anyone ever thought I was motivated, well you've got another think coming. This girl ain't messin!

And guess what? She uses her power for good! She's trained a bunch of newbies to run their first 5Ks...people who never thought they'd ever run. Like ever. She has inspired her own family too! It's like she exudes this addicting running elixir!!! There are some of us out here who inspire people in a general way. These people might say to themselves: "I wish I could do that" or "I should get off my lazy ass like they do." But with Claire, there's no wishing or shoulding or even TRYING. It's freaking go time.

She's Yoda.

And that's what I love. I won't go into her personal deets, but like many she inspires, Claire came from a place where running was daunting. Daunting because of wavering confidence in ability and the effort that would be involved. I think we all can relate to this. If anything is more inspiring than someone taking charge of her life, her health, and passing it on to others with excitement, encouragement, without a smidge of ego, and just enough tenacity to kick you in the ass when you need it...I mean seriously. Can I have a sip??

Have you ever seen Up in the Air? Do you remember the backpack? We can only fit the most important stuff in there before it feels way too heavy and those straps slice into our already burdened shoulders. Well Claire is one of those people I want to keep in my backpack. I want her there for my lowest lows because I will absolutely find my way back up. And I want her there for my highest highs because she will ALWAYS be proud of me. Never jealous or competitive. And she'll keep me grounded!

And that's precisely what I want'Something' Mondays to be about: People I want to take with me. It's not even about running anymore, is it? It's about the kind of person I'd like to be all the time, every time.

Thank you Claire...I hope you continue to inspire others as you've inspired me!

'Obsessed' is how the unmotivated describe the dedicated.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Just another day...

Seeing as it's January 2nd, perhaps I won't feel so cliche about this post today.

Couple things: A few weeks ago I reread the post before this, and was honestly humbled by people who actually cared enough to not only read, but comment on it. So I returned to you a big gooey comment back. Check it out sometime! I've also noticed that there are 22 followers of this blog which boggles my mind. 22 may mean nothing to the likes of awesome mega bloggers like Beth, but to me it's like whoa. Maybe I should give these 22 people something worthwhile to read now and again.

Something worthwhile. Hmmm. What could that possibly be?

Blogs are anything from general updates and life tips to instructional how-to's and what I like to call "blagging" (blog bragging). My favorite type of blogs are obviously streams of consciousness. I feel like I can connect to people who have absolutely no idea what they're doing in life and feel the need to blather on endlessly about it. Definitely my modus operandi, if you will. However, "worthwhile" reading material and streams of consciousness are like oil and vinegar, aren't they? In other words, do I really have anything to add to the world of words? Or am I basically adding to the Too Much Informational Superhighway?

Year One of my running career was humbling and exciting: I soaked up the information others imparted to me in order to learn how to run. Year Two of my running career was very self-centered, and in a way it needed to be so I could reach lofty goals I set for myself. Well Year 3 will bring something entirely different. I've decided that this year I need to run more presently in other people's shoes (or bare feet perhaps!) I need to look through the eyes of those around me rather than focus inward so much. I have to think about how my actions would make other people happy rather than living solely for my own personal gains. 2010 was a super easy year for me. Nothing nightmarish happened and I think it made me lazy. Sometimes Too Much of a Good Thing is not such a good thing and we forgot that "the world isn't designed for our comfort but for our struggle, for in struggle there is growth." Have I grown much this year? Hmmm.....

I fulfilled all of my January 2010 running goals. Did this make me grow? In some ways, sure. I learned to accept physical and mental pain. I learned how to harvest motivation and turn it into discipline. But when all is said and done, why do I feel empty? Why did I feel like a sham? least for me...there's no point to lofty goals and discipline if the only one who really gains anything is me and me alone. I was at the top of the mountain, super excited and proud of myself!! But a few minutes later, I realized there was no one there to keep me company on the long climb down.

This year I'm not going to make any goals except for the following: Absolutely and completely change the way I think about running. Fellow run-blogger Maggie posted a contest to win a necklace that simply states "Love to Run." Mentioning said contest is not my way of picking up another entry. Her contest got me thinking about how I'm the last person in the running world that deserves something like this around my neck. Thus, what I must do this year is earn it, figuratively speaking. I need to look at running in a completely new way. This includes, but is definitely not limited to the following:

1. Inspire rather than brag. Practice sincerity and altruism rather than kindness for the sake of personal gain.

2. Run for others, whether for charity or to simply help out a beginner or someone who is struggling.

3. Embrace exercise as a way to celebrate the physical life that I've been given and connect to others who feel the same way, rather than close myself off and treat running like a Me and Me Alone experience.

4. Above all else, look at the world as someone who needs a best friend. As sappy Saccharin thanks-for-making-me-vom-in-my-mouth as this sounds, I'm very serious! This world needs more people who care about it.

And I'm also very serious about this change and it's pretty frightening because I know how difficult it will be. 31 years young and I can already say I'm pretty set in my ways. I can be a real sarcastic asshole sometimes. (Sarcastic assholes can be pretty hilarious though, am I right?!) At the end of the day though, I have to happy with what I'm putting out there in the world...which brings us FULL CIRCLE to how I started this thing (I knew we'd get there!)

If I find something worthwhile to tell you about...something unbraggy, inspirational, or wise...I'll write about it. This year my blog won't be so much about schedules, personal records, and race recaps. Rather I want to focus outward...I want to celebrate you and celebrate what it means to be an inspiration. I'm going to need some BIG TIME help though, I definitely can't do this alone. So keep an eye out for my extended hand!

Good luck to everyone and their goals this year. I know several who are attempting their first Super Lofty Goal: marathons, barefoot races, Ironmans, oh my!! I promise to be in your corner cheering YOU on for once!