Goals. And Reaching Them.

Goals. And Reaching Them.

It’s not a secret, if you’ve been around here for a bit, that I have a love/hate relationship with running. I had never been a runner until one random morning in June 2012 when I decided, “Hey, I should run.” Yes, just like Forrest Gump.

Short version of the story: I started Couch to 5k and a few days later was talked into signing up for the Princess Half Marathon, which would be run a short 8 months after I got my ass off my couch. It was with the team from the Ronald McDonald House in Macon.

I’ve been a part of the RMHC in Macon since before it even opened its doors to families. Since then, I’ve served as a monthly meal maker, a weekend manager, a weekly shift volunteer, as a member of the Board of Directors, and now as a three-time member of TeamRMHC. While we don’t live in Macon anymore, a piece of our heart is in The House.

You see, when Charlie died, we asked for donations to be made to The House. If I remember right, over $10,000 was donated in his memory… thus, the playroom was named for him.

CFA Playroom

 

So in 2013, as my fundraising goal, I wanted to raise $2500 in honor of Charlie’s 10th Birthday. That year, we raised $5045. I ran hard and finished with my dear friend singing “Jesus Loves Me” in my ear, just like my Aunt sang as Charlie was baptised an hour before his death.

2014 brought the Glass Slipper Challenge. 19.3 miles of insanity. My goal was $2000, because I couldn’t imagine people would donate like they did the year before. We hit $2567 last year. I was floored. And honored.

This year, being the competitive person I am (with myself), I decided that if we could raise $7612, why couldn’t we make it an even $10,000? I mean, can’t hurt to try, right?

So with all of you behind me, I laced up and trained. And I asked you to donate. And once again, you came through. So many of you. Some with $5, some with more… all with love in your hearts.

This morning, I was in Waffle House with the family and got an email ding. It was a donation for $70. I knew my math. I knew that was the amount I needed. Shaking, I went to my page and saw this:

10k

In my head, the reporter asked me, “You’ve reached your goal… what are you going to do now?”

To which I answered emphatically, “I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!”

We did it, y’all! We did it! 

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! 

Running Contentment

Running Contentment

This week I wrote down the word “Contentment.”

Contentment is always a goal of mine. Sometimes I feel content with life and other times I feel like I’m flailing around like a fish out of water. I long for the times where I can just be.

I’m one of those people who is silently competitive. I like to raise more money than everybody else for my TeamRMHC races (yes, see sidebar for the link to donate). I like to be part of things that are just starting out (see twitter, ello, instagram). In high school I wanted to always win all the awards I could at dance team camp. I’m pretty good at quietly being competitive when it’s something I love. I like to be the best at things. It just feels good.

Lately I’ve felt very much NOT content with my running. I’m not getting faster, at least not a lot faster. It seems I’ve put on weight and allowed myself to get out of shape, causing me to huff and puff through a 1.5-2 mile run. In my head I’m better than that. In my head, it’s easy. In my heart, I want it to be easy. I want to be the best I can be. To be content.

red hare chase 5k

This morning, I ran with my running buddy and cheerleader, Sharon. We headed over to Cobb County and ran a 5k for beer while being chased by Red Hares.

It was a hard and hella hilly race, and my first race since March. Luckily, I hadn’t looked at the elevation chart beforehand because it was pretty much all uphill for the first 2 miles. And like I do, I kept apologizing to Sharon for being so slow. I think I heard her threaten to hit me if I said it again, but I get very self conscious because I’m slow. She runs 9 minute miles and I run 14-15 minute miles. But she reminded me that she WANTED to run with me so I shut up. We were doing it for fun and beer. That’s it. We weren’t out to win the race.

After we finished, drank our beer(s), ate our hot dogs and then stopped at Chick Fil A, I drove home where I immediately posted to a friend that I finished – that I’d had beer and that it was ok to have two before 9:30am because it’s game day and how it kicked my ass.

She responded with Congrats and that (ugh) I’ve inspired her to get back at it.

And that’s when I realized it. I kinda AM finding myself content with my running.

I run how I run.

Which is with arthritis, with big toes that don’t bend at all, and with about 50 extra pounds on me.

Every step is painful and make me question whether I’ve had my medicine or put enough topical pain reliever on my feet. But the good news is that after about 2 miles, the pain is so great I don’t really feel it. But every step is a chore.

But then there are those last 5 steps over the finish line. And they are absolutely worth it.

I’ve found intervals I love (1:30 run/:30 walk) and when I feel like it, I listen to my body. Sometimes it says run through the walk interval and sometimes it says, “Jana, you need to walk for 5 minutes or I’m going to give up.” I’ve learned to hear its cries, and to be honest, no matter what I do, I end up finishing in just about the same time.

I’m content with where I am, with how fast (slow) I run, with the aches and pains I feel and work through, and with the fact that even though I’ll never be THE BEST, I’m content to be MY BEST.

And that’s all I really need  to ever be.

The Dumbest, Most Amazing Thing I’ve Ever Done #GlassSlipperChallenge

The Dumbest, Most Amazing Thing I’ve Ever Done #GlassSlipperChallenge

There. I said it. Running the Glass Slipper Challenge was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

Yet it was also one of the most amazing.

Twenty-ish months ago, when I decided  to lace up some running shoes and give the whole running thing a shot, I had no clue I would end up running three half marathons in one calendar year. I certainly didn’t think I would be insane enough to sign up for a 10k and a half marathon in ONE WEEKEND. That much I can promise you.

Yet I did.

And (spoiler alert for those who live under a rock) I did it.

Last month, I wrote a quick post about leaving it all on the table and coming back from a race with a new sense of purpose. I can honestly say, having run 19.3 miles (and walked dozens of others) over the course of two days, I left it all on the table and I’m just thrilled to have come back from the race (with or without a new sense of purpose).

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The whole Princess Half weekend was amazing. I drove down alone. It was a great 6 hours in the car by myself. And when I joined up with the RMH van around Lake City and followed it all the way to Disney, I knew the weekend would be great.

RMH Van

Friday morning I went to Magic Kingdom with Kadye.

jana at magic kingdom

 

We rode a handful of rides, including Big Thunder Mountain — MY VERY FIRST TIME!

thundermountain

I spent one night by myself before my friend Melissa joined me on Friday. Our boys have been friends since kindergarten and we’ve really become friends in the last year or so. This was her first half marathon and she was a wee bit nervous. I can’t blame her. Even having run two others, I was nervous, too! After a few hours at the Magic Kingdom with Kadye, I met her and we hooked up with Amy at the Expo.

expo

With my Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge number in hand and her very first Half Marathon number in hand, we made our way through all the vendors and sponsors with Amy. Afterwards, Melissa and I hit Downtown Disney for an early dinner before hitting the bed for a VERY early wake up call!

That night before bed, though, the most amazing thing happened… The competitive me was proud! I passed the $2500 mark for the Ronald McDonald House!

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 12.57.00 PMI had told Melissa if she was up to a 3am wake up call, she would really enjoy seeing the 10k corrals and start and finish. Last year, we watched the 5k and it helped alleviate nerves about the next morning AND created HUGE excitement seeing people of all ages, sizes, and running abilities cross that finish line.

I met up with Claudia and Angela in the corral. It seemed like there were 5000 people in the corrals and that they took forever to get to the start. But finally it started.

It was a great race… going through the World Showcase at Epcot, around the Boardwalk, and then back through Epcot to the finish. My goal for that race, knowing I would have to run another 13.1 miles the next day, was 1:45.

I finished it in 1:47:17. And that was with an 8-10 minute wait in line for the bathroom.

enchanted10k

Part 1 of the Glass Slipper Challenge: DONE.

After the race, Melissa and I headed over to the McDonalds for the Team RMHC brunch. Little did I know it would be one of the best photo opps of the weekend!

RonaldShoes

The afternoon was spent at Epcot with Amy. We rode rides, hydrated, rode more rides, hydrated, hit every bathroom we passed… we got into the special Disney Visa cardholder spot and got super special lovin’ from Mickey and Goofy. We carbed up at Via Napoli in Italy for dinner. I loved spending time with her and getting to know her better. She’s hardly selfish at all (as her blog title insinuates she is)!

epcotwithamy

 

After an early bedtime and even EARLIER wake up call, it was time to rock the half marathon.

Melissa and I got dressed, had some bagels and yogurt and whatnot, and headed to meet the Team RMHC crew at the lobby. We got the bus with about 100 other dazed and confused and very excited princesses-to-be.

I had told Melissa I would start in her corral and run with her. My friend Amy ran with me last year and it made all the difference in the world when I wanted to quit or when I felt overwhelmed or when I was just bored. We hit the potties, made our way to the corrals, and waited. Finally around 6, it was time for us to go.

princess1

It’s a tough race in that most of the time, unless you start in a smaller, earlier corral, you can’t just RUN. There’s a lot of jogging and walking and what feels like running in place simply because of the number of people. There are around 30,000 who run this race. To say it gets congested is an understatement.

But we ran.

We ran down Main Street, USA in the fog. We ran through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and then out of the park.

castle

This was where I hit my wall. After 6.2 miles on Saturday, around mile 7, I realized what a stupid idea this was. I was in pain, it was hot (about 70), it was unbearably humid (like running through thunderstorm clouds but without actual rain), my feet didn’t want to work any longer, I could feel a blister forming under my toes, and did I mention it was hot as hell?

But there was a glorious INAUGURAL medal waiting for me. One that only a few (hundred, okay, maybe a few thousand) people were getting. I mean, my name was on a board and everything. I had to keep on.

IMG_8816

 

But there were so many miles left.

I kept checking on Melissa, trying to think about HER and not ME. I was getting texts saying “great job” and all that. But goodness knows, it wasn’t fun. I left the fun in the Magic Kingdom.

Now it was just tedious.

Mile 8. Mile 9. Mile 10.

Mile 11. Mile 12.

Only ONE MORE MILE (plus .1). We’ve got this. We were light years ahead of the feared “balloon ladies” and I was even able to help another runner settle down who was panicked about them coming after her. There were thousands of people behind us.

The finish line couldn’t come soon enough.

But in the blink of an eye (kidding – it took forEVER), there it was.

finish

WE DID IT!

(Official time: 3:38:38)

Melissa finished her first half marathon!

And I finished the dumbest, most amazing thing I’ve ever done — the Glass Slipper Challenge.

GSC Finish

On Goal-Setting and A New Sense of Purpose

Last week, I was chatting with a friend. Our quick chats are usually pretty random, but that’s what makes them fun. Sometimes they take a serious turn and wisdom explodes from one of our brains. He was talking about doing something that would leave him, hopefully, refreshed and renewed and with a new sense of purpose. He called it a challenge and said that to him it was going to be like his version of running a half marathon and he wanted to see if he could actually do it.

It really made me think about how running a half marathon effects me.

I’ve always been a list-maker instead of a goal-maker. Being in the moment and doing “today” seems easier to me than looking towards the future with a big giant goal. Having small items to check off and not have lingering over me have truly been the backbone of my existence. Some may even say I fear failure because of not wanting to set long-term goals. Valid thought.

When I set the (seemingly) lofty goal to run a 5k, I thought surely I would never make it. Why? Because it wasn’t something I could put on a list and mark off after a single day or a single chore.

And then I signed up for a half. I swore it was my only one, but everybody else swore it was my “first.” After I finished, I realized what I loved about the goal-setting and goal-completing.

It wasn’t before or during. It wasn’t even the crossing of the finish line.

It was the BIG, GIANT, SWOOPING, CEREMONIAL marking off of the goal on the proverbial to-do list.

The feelings afterwards, after marking the goal off the list are strange. The feelings of elation and accomplishment are quickly followed by a sadness of sorts. Maybe it’s a desperation to quickly fill that marked-out space on the list with something else.

The empty hole that’s left is from my own doing. Running a long race causes your body to push further than it normally should. Even being a “slow runner” I leave it all on the table. Ten steps across the finish and I realize that I’ve left every emotion, every ounce of energy, every bit of mental distress, and every bit of me on the course. Physically, mentally, emotionally, I’m done. Spent. Empty.

After a few days, that emptiness fills again with new hope and new goals and new dreams for “what’s next.” I’m a new person – refreshed, renewed, and with a new sense of purpose.

Here’s to leaving it all on the two race courses next weekend and coming back ready to take on the world and set a new goal for myself.

Letting My Competitive Side Show

Letting My Competitive Side Show

I don’t feel like I’m very competitive. I mean, I’m sure I am in many ways, but I don’t think of myself as going around being all “I have to be THE BEST or I have to WIN or I have to run as FAST as I possibly can.” Maybe I do and just don’t know it.

But at any rate, I don’t feel competitive for the most part. Until it comes to fundraising.

When it comes to fundraising, I long to be the best. Did you hear me? THE BEST!

In less than two weeks, as you may know (unless you’ve been living under a rock or are new here) I am running the Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World. I’m doing this as part of Team RMHC, with funds raised going to The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia.

The RMH of Central GA holds a very dear place in my heart for several reasons.

The first reason is simple. They do amazing things for families. Families can stay in a comfortable room and have meals provided for only a few dollars a night in a facility right near local hospitals where their children are being treated for medical conditions. These families are dealing with everything from 1 lb babies to flu or broken bones to cancer treatments to brain injuries and they’re blessed to be able to stay close to their children and have time to refresh their minds and bodies so they can be prepared to care for their child when they go home.

The next reason is that I feel some sort of attachment to this House in particular. I signed up as a volunteer before the House was even nearing completion. For 5 years, I volunteered in the office, served meals on a monthly basis, and even served on the Board of Directors.

The last reason is that my Charlie has a permanent room there. When Charlie died in 2003, donations poured in to the tune of several thousand dollars. We were asked if we wanted to sponsor a room in memory of Charlie. We pledged a larger amount and over the years, paid our pledge off. The playroom at the RMH in Macon is sponsored by ALL OF YOU (and all of us) in memory of Charlie. It holds a special place in our heart and will forever.

My family has never actually stayed in a Ronald McDonald House. We’ve been blessed to never have a long-term medical situation that would warrant it. When Charlie was sick, we only lived a mile away, so we could go home if needed. But because of my relationship with the RMH and my commitment to volunteer and serve there, I have made some friends that I can’t imagine my life without. Some worked there, some were families there.

Last year, I ran the Princess Half Marathon at Disney with Team RMHC. To be on the team, you had to pledge to raise $600. I set my goal at $2500. I went a little over, with help from all of you.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 1.53.18 PM

This year, I set my goal a little lower, even though I’m running 19.3 miles instead of 13.1.

I’ll be running the Glass Slipper Challenge on Feb. 22 and 23. On the 22nd, I’ll run a 10k and on the 23rd, I’ll run a half marathon. Three medals will hang around my neck after Sunday morning.

1030ZX_0519GD-2

I will do this in honor and memory of all those who have had their families sheltered at the Ronald McDonald House over the years. I will do this in honor of YOU, lovely people who donate to my fundraising efforts. I will run this race in honor of my running buddies and cheerleaders. I will do this in honor of my family – Jason and Henry – who support me every step I take. Above all, I will run this in memory of my son, Charlie, whose beautiful spirit protects that playroom every day of the year.

Here’s where I ask for your help. I want to reach my goal and I can’t do it alone. If I could, I’d write a check!

Right now, I’m sitting at $1115.

To reach my goal, I need to hit $2000 by Feb. 17. 

That $2000 will support The House for two days. If we break it down by nights, it will pay for 133 nights for families who may not be able to pay the $15 fee. It will change the lives of those who are touched by the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia.

And it will push me across the finish line.

Thank you for your love and support.

To Donate, Click HERE!

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