muse monday: lauren fleshman edition

its great to have goals and sometimes i arrive at the point of a new goal by witnessing the awesome going on around me and being inspired. a few weeks ago, maybe longer, #sisterhero Lauren Fleshman posted somewhere on social media about some of her lady muses. as someone who loves to see women applaud and celebrate one another, i loved this!

i’ve been following Lauren since she ran the NYC Marathon in 2011 and ever since, i’ve been fan girl-ing so hard. sure, she’s an friggin amazing athlete, a successful business owner, a great partner to another successful athlete, and an inspiring mom to one cute baby. but i think what struck me is that she’s never been anything other than sincere.

when you’re not an elite athlete, it’s easy to think that those who are are some of the “haves” and those of us who aren’t elites, well, that we’re the “have not’s” but in following Lauren, it never seems that way. she suffers like the rest of us – through tough runs and injury and constantly evaluating priorities. she seems, in a word, brave because she stands up for what’s real.

true story: i decided a few months ago to join the #PickyClub and one of the perks was a t-shirt with my membership. I tweeted Lauren about the shirt sizing and she replied back to me. directly. and within an hour or two. seriously! (follow her!)

by theunnamed-1 way, my shirt arrived – and fits just as i’d hoped…

and not only that, but the Picky Bars are great, too!

ok, ok…back to why I think Lauren is great. i struggled for over a year with some yucky injury and at the same time, she was sharing her rehab and her return to getting into racing shape after becoming a mother. there are no frills. just honesty and hard work.

she’s inspired me, from afar, to go after my dreams. to realize that while there may be setbacks along the way, it’s always a good idea to try again, and she’s also reminded me to surround myself with other people who want to do great things. i love following Lauren online and i love the opportunity to support a person in whatever way i can as they strive for their own goals.

so, thank you to my inaugural monday muse, Lauren Fleshman. i’m inspired everyday and especially the days when i get the opportunity to believe a bit more in what’s to come!

what are your goals and who are the people that inspire you to get after it?!

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sauca.

i have this book called Meditations from the Mat: daily reflections on the path of yoga. my mom gave it to me a few years ago and i’m ever so slowly making my way through it. definitely not daily, but just like my yoga practice – i return to it when i need to. and every so often, i open the book and it’s like SPLAT, everything i needed to hear is right there. today was one of those days.

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this morning the message was that, “sauca is the moment on our path when we begin to take the maintenance of our physical condition seriously.” the writer (Rolf Gates) goes on to tell us readers about some of his self-destructive habits and the self-sabotage he was experiencing and then how he had a spiritual awakening of sorts. he noticed people he admired treating their bodies well, having principles food, behavior, attitude, and beliefs. and much more. he says that he saw it as “an extension of the love these individuals felt toward themselves and others.” the part that struck me most was when he said that practicing sauca means turning beliefs into action.

i’ve been slow on this blog to talk about the past, hey, 9 months or so. i think mostly because i was in the midst of a transformation and frankly i couldn’t quite talk about it until i started to come to the other side. but once i read about sauca this morning i realized – that’s it! i didn’t consciously do THIS sauca thing because i didn’t KNOW what IT was, but i realize now that i began, in maybe March of last year, slowly grabbing ahold of my beliefs that got a little sidetracked and i began pulling them back to me and i started turning them into action.

one thing that struck me is that i have this piece of string tied around my wrist. i put it there as a reminder – i can’t remember when i put it there and i can’t even remember exactly what the reminder was except to be true to myself. but i think it’s been there for close to a year now. i see it and feel it and in the tiniest way it has been a reminder to keep on moving forward.

another part of what i read today that resonated was, “each step we take on this path is a step into the unknown and a confirmation of our ability to live a better life.”

i see that piece of string and i’m reminded that it’s ok to let go of the things that no longer serve you: bad relationships, overindulging, eating poorly, never going to yoga, not taking running and health seriously, not sleeping, staying in a job that doesn’t sing to you…

and this all relates to running as i’ve been trying to ramp up my mileage a bit recently and just a few weeks ago i realized that i’ve been running mostly pain-free for a little while now. it feels good to feel good and it feels awesome to feel more like the running me again.

i know this is, in part, to my awesome active-release doc and to me being patient, but also because i’ve been increasingly diligent in working to get back to this place. maybe that little piece of string also reminded me to keep taking steps, even baby steps, to change the path i was on.

so it really is about going for it. taking one step and then another step. and for me, always – that constant forward motion.

happy new year!

huzzah…and just like that, it’s 2015!

i was going to write a year-end post. and i was going to write a list. and then i wasn’t going to write a darn thing. but today i was having some realizations about the year past and the year ahead.

so, here goes.

i bid adieu to 2013 a bit over a year ago with a facebook post that said, “sayonara, 2013. you were OK, bit I’m certain 2014 has a lot more in store …”

and boy, oh boy, it sure did! (and yes, i did just use ‘adieu’ because i recently watched the sound of music [singalong] and that was awesome)

anyway, let’s do a quick recep: 2014 was pretty good. lots of changes happened in my life and hey, turns out i’m not totally afraid of change. i embraced that sh!t. early in the year i began actually friggen job searching. i had a good job, but it wasn’t really making me happy so i made the decision to make a change. i was turned down for one and then another and then, just when i thought maybe i was going to be a little stuck – the tables changed. i was offered a position and it turned out to be the bomb-diggity. like, i’m glad the other things didn’t workout, because this new job is pretty great.

also in 2014, i got my groove back. like – running-wise. i spent a bit of $$ getting some hands-on rehab/treatment. yesterday i woke up to run the new year’s day dash – a 5 miler to kick off the running year and let me say, first and foremost, the best part was maybe that it set a tone for me for the year ahead. and second, while i did go out and celebrate on NYE, i was able to get out there and run a solid race. boom! and while i was out there, i realized, it’s been a few months of running for me that i basically feel good most of the time running. and that hasn’t happened since 2013 – for sure!

and you know what else…i embraced change. i allowed myself to feel uncomfortable. it it paid off.

so yesterday, i started the year with a run and i deliberately brought along my “do epic shit” t-shirt along to wear post-race. it reminds me of the last time i really felt like i grabbed life by the horns and did some really awesome stuff. i think i earned it by either running the most miles in a day or over the course of the weekend – and it was just a time in my life when i was doing the stuff that made me darn happy. i love that.

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so folks, i hope for you as i’m planning for myself – you can take some steps and do some epic shit. do what seems epic to you – it doesn’t have to be grand like running a silly amount of miles – just something that propels you forward. take a chance, try something new. go explore that thing that makes you feel uncomfortable or a little bit scared. smile from your head to your toes and everywhere in between. stand in the light. but please, let’s all agree to go for it!

you got this.

#RWRunStreak. <– I did that.

so my running in 2013, in terms of my say, past 4 or 5 years of running, to put it into context…it kinda stunk.

in the end, i almost made it to logging 600 miles. almost.

but instead of spending this entire post talking about my feeling about what may or may not be shortcomings in my running year past, I want to talk a little bit about the highlights.

last may I headed to the east if Madison a bit to run the Ice Age Trail half marathon. it was a kind of chilly day, but i ran hard and finished 3rd in my age group. i came in well under 2 hours (1:51 and change) and was in the top 10 women overall.

i also raced my first 5k. ouch!

oh, and in April, I did the MadCity 50k relay with a bunch of my favorite run buddies as a part of Team Unicorn Apocalypse. with that name alone, we are totally winning, guys.

but then I mostly laid low, trying to run for fun, not running a ton, in general – besides ultimate frisbee, and trying to heal this (sometimes literally) pain in my ass injury.

for the most part, i know what work i put in and what i didn’t so i understand why i am where i am physically…and i also want to get back to where i was.

in November i was supposed to run the inaugural fall version of the Madison Marathon, but unfortunately i had to drop to the half a few weeks out. it was an ok day and when i finally took a minute to really reflect, i realize that I ran a solid race – that it was my second best time, and while i didn’t feel awesome, the race also didn’t make me feel worse.

oh, and flash back to october….i ran the relay version of the Fall 50 with Krista and Jenny…again under the moniker “Unicorn Apocalypse.”

but turkey day rolled around and some of my aforementioned running buddies (Krista and Mel) mentioned that they were going to try to complete the #RWRunStreak and i decided to join them.

so, i saddled up. i accepted the challenge. and i completed it.

for one, for me this seemed like a HUGE accomplishment in the world of running. i had a goal and i accomplished it. i had some structure for exactly thirty five days. hallelujah!

but seriously, it was a big offing deal.

the thing is – and i think i could ask any yogi (as an example) who does some sort of intensive training how they feel during and after and i think they would feel similar. i think they would talk about how they discover something about themselves. and about something outside themselves.

so while there were days (quite a few) when i ran just over one mile. there were also moments of mental toughness to be earned on the treadmill. a seven-miler on a beautiful december day. runs with company. traditions. and also solitary, and eye-opening runs everywhere in between.

i wanted to keep my streak alive, for at least 50 days, but with today’s temps and it being a monday and other responsibilities made it pretty hard to get done. so, i decided it was in my best interest to get my feet under me this week – this first week of january. and then to get back into a swing.

tomorrow’s going to be colder than…well, it’s freaking freezing here. but i’m hoping i can sneak away from my desk for a bit to get a run in. and if not, i’ll deal and try again on wednesday.

in the end though…i am so glad i decided to run-streak.

it reminded me why i do this. it reminded me why i run.

and that is priceless.

cat’s outta the bag.

well friends, you heard it here first…

actually, you’re hearing it right now for the first time.

just before my head hit the pillow (the pillow it barely left all weekend as I was laid up with some awful virus) on sunday night, I did it. I registered for the Madison Marathon.

ok, no gasps, really. I love this city. I love it in the fall. and truth be told, I needed a little kick in the ass ahem, motivation to help me find my running groove again.

the past, let’s say 6 months or so….have left me straying ever so slightly from my original love. and honestly, I want her back. I am not too proud to say I missed you, running. I’m not too big to admit that I left you hanging. I knew it all along and while I’ve given you just enough attention to keep this flame we have flickering going, I realize now that I’m not the same without you. Nope, I guess distance really does make the heart grow finder. Oh, and relationships like ours, why yes, they take work. and running, please remember this: you are worth it.

it was funny that I was lying in bed all weekend ill. ok, funny in a “this is a sign, shay, to get your @$$ in gear and to treat your body better and to start prioritizing the most important things.”

all funnies aside, on sunday night, I recommitted – to running and to really being the best me there is.

oh, and some gorgeous new Mizunos showed up at my door friday afternoon and I haven’t even gotten them out for their maiden voyage yet. embarrassing.

I really do know how to rub salt in a wound….

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looking ahead.

i’ve been itching for a goal race for a little while now. yes, it has been fun getting recovered over the last 6+ months – running when i wanted, as far as i wanted, and as hard as i wanted (or really, could…i pushed that last one a bit at times). that said, with friends gearing back up into their racing seasons, i’m getting the itch. and, i’ve been feeling pretty darn good lately, so i think it’s time!

a while back – maybe a month or so ago a few things happened. 1. i ran a trail half marathon (in newer shoes, no doubt) and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite being a little undertrained. 2. my littlest sister, Jordie – she mentioned that she wanted to start running. and 3. i saw that Mizuno was offering an(other) opportunity to run-test some of their new shoes.

that combination lit a spark in me.

first, as i mentioned earlier, the running itch is back. second, i want my sis to re-discover running. (i say re-discover because she was a high-school trackster, even though she hasn’t run in a while) and i thought new shoes – for both of us – might be the perfect storm!

today i got an email from Mizuno that we were selected (i signed us up) to try out their new Wave Sayonara shoes. they’re slated as Mizuno’s improvement on the Wave Precisions (which are going away) – and the Precisions were my FIRST pair of Mizunos. i loved them. they helped me to find running again and soon thereafter, i snatched up a pair of Elixrs, too, so i had some options within the same family.

Elixr's on the left, Precisions on the right.

Elixr’s on the left, Precisions on the right.

i loved both of these pairs of shoes. as a sidenote, i lost the Precisions when my apartment building had a fire two summers ago. but i did slip on the Elixrs as i ran out of the burning building. they got me through summer running – the only thing that kept me sane at the time – and eventually, a pair of each later, i’ve run countless miles and distances ranging from 5k to 50 miles.

so, i love Mizunos.

and recently, i decided that my end goal for this Fall is too run my fastest marathon. i’m not sure which race that will be yet – i have a few ideas – but i know the new Sayonaras will be a key to getting me to that line healthily and happily.

and perhaps the most important part of this post is that i hope that looking ahead also includes a race (a 5k, maybe) with my little sister.

she was there when i ran my first marathon in 2010…

Jords and me after the Chicago Marathon. 10-10-10, baby!

Jords and me after the Chicago Marathon. 10-10-10, baby!

she wrote me a note for every 10 miles i ran of 50 a little over a year later…

and you better darned well believe that i’ll be there for her – no matter how many miles she decides to conquer.

i’m looking ahead and it looks good!!!

long run recovery.

maybe i’ll never really learn – though after last saturday’s race, i felt pretty good. yesterday i met 5 great running buddies at the UW Arboretum at 8am to run two loops. for those of you who don’t know, the “Arb loop” is a perfect 10k, if you stay on their marked course.

anyway, i was, admittedly, a few minutes late. i hadn’t set an alarm and was hoping to sleep in – but i guess when you’ve been getting up before 6am most of the week prior, sleeping in on saturday means 7am. ok, i’ll take it. i pulled up to the Visitor’s Center parking lot at about 8:05 and jogged over to where Krista, Mel, Tim, Pat and Ryan were standing and they quickly greeted me with, “WHICH DIRECTION SHOULD WE RUN?”

i laughed and suggested we do a one loop in each direction. they all laughed and agreed and before we knew it, i think Tim and Ryan were off – choosing the first direction. we separated, rather quickly, into three pairs and Pat and I kind of took off. we chatted the whole way around and then joined the group and ran in a pack for the second loop.

i loved reading the write-ups from everyone on Dailymile afterwards. you can probably read them all through the links on my own review, so i’ll just link to that here. nonetheless, it was great to read and appreciate that we’re all on different levels and that we stuck together for that second loop despite our differences. it kinda made me feel like this:

so today, i actually did sleep in. until 8:30!!! but as soon as i rolled out of bed, i realized that i was a little less recovered than i thought. and as i type this, i realize though, that i’m not sore. maybe not at all. just fatigued and the heat isn’t helping me feel any less – umm, swollen? oh, and drinking my regular amount of coffee is making me feel a bit – well, wobbly. but i’ve got compression on and water at arm’s reach and i’m beginning to think that maybe a little shakeout run is in order.

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i love running. i love how it unites as it did yesterday and how it’s humbling me today. i love the doors and connections it opens and all the growing it allows. so, while i still might not be the best at figuring out the whole recovery thing, i’m glad for the reflection this day after a long run provides.

have a wonderful sunday!