Tag Archives: friendship

Loriana’s Inspiration Miles… And A Call For A Marrow Match!

1 Feb I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

My friend Loriana Hernandez began an aggressive dual chemotherapy protocol yesterday that will last 72 solid hours.  Being the warrior that she is, she immediately set a goal to walk the halls of her floor at John Hopkins 26 times each day.  0.04 miles in each lap.  26 laps in a mile.  I know that mile is 100 times more difficult than any distance race I’ve ever run- without question.

Inspiration miles... And A Call For Marrow Donor!

Think running a marathon is tough?  Walking a mile through the hospital ward while toting the machine that is obliterating your immune system is more extreme than any ultra marathon on my bucket list.  Yet Loriana remains dedicated to seeing this goal through, and in the past two days she has fallen only 6 combined laps behind her mile a day goal.

Just .25 miles short.

I think we can make up the deficit for her!

On my running plan this weekend is just six little miles, but I told Loriana that each mile would be filled with positive and intentional thoughts for her victory:

  • Mile One is for HOPE
  • Mile Two is for STRENGTH
  • Mile Three is for RESILIENCE
  • Mile Four is for PATIENCE
  • Mile Five is for TENACITY
  • Mile Six is for ENDURANCE
  • + another .25 miles for good measure

As you strike out on you weekend long run, keep Loriana in mind.  Donate a mile (or six) of your mental miles during your run to intentional throughs for her victory and healing.  Run an extra quarter mile to help her close the goal in her gap.  Or heck, log a PR with her in your heart…. and then take a moment to let her know via social media (see below) that we’ve got her covered.

We have the great privilege of being the running legs for a true warrior right now; don’t take a footfall of your run for granted!

How can you help Loriana’s battle?

I’ll Be Your Strong

29 Jan I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

There is a story I’ve never told, and honestly I never intended to tell it.  It was just going to be one of those little things I kept inside to call upon in the moments I needed it.  It’s a story of struggle and strength.  It’s a story that simultaneously breaks me down and builds me up.  But it’s a story that I was satisfied to keep inside until this weekend.

But now it needs to be told.

I ran my first marathon in October of 2012- Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  When I registered, I only had one half under my belt at which I had scored a pretty severe IT band injury, but I told myself I could do it.  I could do anything because I’d made it through the bumps and challenges of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth and beyond as a mother.  26.2 miles of hilly terrain would be a worthy celebration of all the peaks and valleys I had triumphed through on the road to motherhood.

As I trained, I steeled myself with those thoughts.  I was powerful, determined and equipped with the greatness of unconditional love for a tiny little being.

That was enough.  That got me through.

I could do this.

When The Hubs and I made it San Francisco for the race, he had to go into the office to do some work so I ventured over to the expo myself.  I was immediately overwhelmed.  I was there alone… doing this big thing…  all for me?  Up until that moment, every step I had run was about me- which was fine- but it just didn’t seem like enough anymore.  And though I was venturing into my first marathon with my Team Victorious sisters, that suddenly didn’t seem like enough either.  It wasn’t a feeling I could understand or explain- but later I would understand it as my inspiration paradigm shift.  An understanding that my moments within my miles were far bigger than myself and my little world.

On race morning I dressed methodically, carefully adjusting each item.  When I reached my bib I paused, overwhelmed.  Without much thought or understanding of what I was doing I took  pen out of my bag and scrawled one word on the back before pinning it on my shirt.

One word.

A name.

Carter.

Carter was the husband of a mama acquaintance of mine.  We weren’t exceptionally close, but our children were in the same play co-op and she and I had run together several times with a mutual friend.  Over these runs, I learned a lot about her, her family, and her astounding love for her husband.  We had connected through facebook after that and in the two months leading up to my race I gained miles of hope- and shed buckets of tears- over the raw beauty in her status update about Carter’s battle with stage IV metastatic sarcoma.

For a moment I considered snapping a picture of the back of my bib to send to my friend one day but I quickly shook off the thought feeling simultaneously self conscious and confused- I hadn’t really even fully considered why I had so unconsciously written Carter’s name inside my bib.  After all, I had never even met the man.

I didn’t give it much thought for most of the morning.

At mile 21 I discovered why it was there.

The half marathon runners had peeled off 7 miles before and the course was quite lonely, greatly compounded by the solitary trek around Lake Merced with no spectator encouragement.  The air was heavy with chilly fog, my legs ached, and I had already exhausted all of my “I’m a mom and I’ve done things much harder than this” pick-me-ups because at 21 miles into my phenomenally hilly first marathon I hadn’t done anything harder than that.  And when you’re by yourself and in pain by a drab lake in dense fog you realize really quickly that you aren’t enjoying yourself anymore and you just might start to doubt that you even had the strength to complete such a silly task.

And that’s when I thought of Carter.  Carter was fighting a battle that was far more physically strenuous on a daily basis.  And regardless of his prognosis, he was winning.  He was winning because he kept fighting.  He was winning because his fight gave those he loved hope.  He was winning because that hope inspired the most transparent love and devotion in his family.  He was winning because that transparent love allowed his wife to share her soul with the world in a way that sent this inspired spirit into the world like a floodlight.

It was certainly bright enough to cut through the fog on a desolate stretch of road beside the Pacific Ocean.

And that got me around Lake Merced back to the Great Highway where The Hubs- glowing with encouragement and his own transparent love- waited to help pace me to the finish.

As I packed to fly back to Austin after the race, I kept my number with the intention of sending it to my friend after sharing how her family so inspired me from afar.

I never really got the chance.

Carter passed away on November 10, 2012.

Then it seemed strange to send such an insignificant thing to her so the bib found a place on my desk and it became my own private story of inner strength derived from the most graceful pain I’d ever witnessed from afar.

How do you tell someone “I didn’t know your husband but your authentic, beautiful expression of his strength has inspired me to keep moving when things are difficult”?

Maybe you say it just like that.

Or maybe you just keep it to yourself until someone needs you to help be their strong.

I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

This weekend, I was visiting my parents when Baby Bird spiked a high fever that we couldn’t control.   As a child with a history of febrile seizure, it meant a trip to Children’s Medical Center and- as is always the way in motherhood- my phone was near the end of its battery life and I had no car charger.  As we checked in at the hospital and I went to switch off my phone, the screen opened up to display my facebook feed topped by a post from my friend Loriana Hernandez.

Loriana and I became friends when I brought Bump Club and Beyond to Austin in 2011.  She did a segment for the news called “Get Fit for Free” in which she connected the community with complimentary opportunities to stay fit and, since she was pregnant at the time, she did a segment about BCB’s monthly Beautiful Bellies and Beyond the Belly fitness classes at lululemon.  As likeminded, healthy mamas we hit it off and became friends.  I even invited her over to my house so she could see me do a load of cloth diapers and learn the in’s and out’s- that’s committed green mama bonding!

I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

Loriana, Jamie Grayson, and me at a Bump Club Austin event

Loriana recently left her position as a news anchor for Austin’s Fox News station to finally join her husband on the east coast, and I knew she was thrilled to soon get on a plane to permanently have her family in one place so I grazed her post quickly expecting a little pick-me-up of happiness as I situated Baby Bird for what could be a long night at Children’s.

The news was very much the opposite.  From a blood test for an embryo transfer surgery, Loriana received the news that she has acute leukemia.  And she had to start treatment immediately.

Instead of getting on a plane with her son to join her husband in her new home, she now found herself scrambling to book a solo flight to check into Johns Hopkins in 48 hours time.

The news sat like a rock in my stomach.

Shit.

I texted Loriana to see what I could do.  I may have limited funds, but there is no limit to my positive intentions.  And, as I’m continually discovering, there aren’t many limits on the miles in my legs so I asked if I could run my races during her treatment in her honor.

OMG Yes.  Please help me.

I was choking back huge sobs from a 5 word text.

While Loriana is in chemo, I’m going to wake up everyday knowing that I’m keeping myself moving in honor of an active woman who is currently out of commission.  I’ll gladly be her legs.  I’ll run with joy for her.

I’ll harness all of the Carter strong I’ve saved in my heart and share it with her.  I know she will replace it tenfold with her own brand of tenacity that will help to fuel me for my next thousand miles and beyond.

Regardless of the work I might put in in her name, I know that she is fighting a battle that is far more physically strenuous on a daily basis.  And she is going to win.

Loriana, I’ll be your strong.  Just like everyone else who loves you and is championing your cause.  Because your strength and humanity are already giving us more than we could ever repay in any other way.

Friends, cancer is expensive.  Beyond treatment itself, Loriana is fighting for her life in a city with no friends or loved ones and her family will incur considerable expenses as her husband joins her as her support.  If you are able, please consider donating to help fund her treatment.  If you are unable to donate, please share Loriana’s story through your blog or social media.  If you’re a runner, please consider running a race in her honor.

Race Recap: Houston Half Marathon 2014

24 Jan Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Last May I encouraged two of my closest friends to throw their names in with mine for the Houston lottery.  At the time, I imagined myself toodling along the course with my friends for an easy run in between target races.  Fast forward to race day- “easy” pace, yes… toodling, not so much.

Houston isn’t foreign to me as a former resident (it’s where The Hubs and I met).  The course topography wasn’t foreign to me because my urban nomad of a husband- then boyfriend- had uprooted me every six months to move somewhere newer and more interesting within a 5 mile radius in the city (so, as you can imagine, the course just became a guided running tour of “places Jenn used to live” for my running partners).  What was foreign to me was actually running the terrain since when I lived there I avoided running at all costs because I thought it was horrible… and painful… and boring… and crazy.

So at 4 am on Sunday morning, The Hubs and I got up to do something that I had previously deemed horrible, painful, boring, and crazy ( and have since classified as sanity saving, painful, euphoric, and crazy)- we were going to run around it while most of the people we still knew who were living there were sound asleep or nursing killer hangovers after celebrating at a friend’s going away party.  Guess who didn’t make it to that party… Any guesses? Yes, the couple with the long flowing locks and adorable little toddler who had a race to run.  That’s me and The Hubs for the sake of clarification.

By 5 am we were joined by my brother in law Derek (running his first half marathon), Rachel (looking for a PR at this race), Casey (running her first half marathon and who I have already established is no freaking joke), and Casey’s husband Jasen (a former steeplechaser who is also, as you might expect, no freaking joke) ready to make the trek from where we were all staying in the ‘burbs into the city.  If you were doing mental math, you may have noticed there were six of us.   So we logically took one car.  What else would six full grown adults do?

Jasen, Casey, Rachel and I folded ourselves into the back seat before I had a chance to actually put my shoes on which quickly became problematic for me because it was far too packed in the back for me to put them on en route but wearing no shoes in the car dramatically interfered with my habit of checking my shoelace tension from the third to the last eyelet obsessively every 10 minutes only to untie them every third time to try to fix a nonexistent wrinkle in my sock having to reboot to entire process and start over from the laces once again.

I have a few rituals I like to adhere to- the shoelace thing, peeing at least three times before a run, and wearing an unnecessary number of “backup hairbands” around my wrist.  It’s a process of self soothing.  Calming nerves.  Obviously I know nothing bad is going to happen if I don’t do those things.  Yet I didn’t check my shoelaces multiple times and The Hubs ended up with an untied shoelace less than two miles into his run so obviously the universe was punishing me.  Not really.  But it’s not a totally crazy thought…

Houston Half Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

Meet Team Clown Car- the focus is just as blurry as my mind felt at the time.

When we made it into Houston- and the four of us unfolded ourselves from the origami chain of slightly antsy arms and legs we had inevitably created in the backseat- I got a moment to focus on my shoes.  Unfortunately, in the process of testing the tensile strength of my laces, I forgot to put an assortment of items I was carrying in the trunk so later I would have to deal with the fact that I was holding onto ear warmers (it was not cold) and enough chews to fuel the entirety of B corral.

While I’m making fun of my unnecessary pre-run habits, it’s worth mentioning the major score of hanging out in the lobby of the Westin pre race since we had arrived downtown so early.  I can’t even begin to describe how much better this was than standing in a windy line for a porta potty.  Three times.  It also provided us all a place to sit and decompress momentarily before heading to our corrals and getting a nervous energy contact high. Thanks, Westin!

Houston Half Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

Relaxing in the lobby of The Westin prerace

This would also be the perfect opportunity to own up to the fact that I broke another cardinal rule- “Nothing New on Race Day”- by wearing and entirely new outfit that I had picked out at lululemon with Casey the day before the race.  I’m continually on the hunt for the perfect sports bra and, although I’ve found several almost perfect options, I haven’t married myself off to anything as of yet.  Lulu recently introduced the Bitty Bracer which is an awesomely fitted and supportive sports bra for those of us who are… ahem… modestly endowed.  I was pretty obsessed with the Ta Ta Tamer when my DD nursing boomies kept me in the appropriate size, but once I wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding anymore I shrunk out of the size range of my fave sports bra.  I had a Christmas gift card to burn and was itching to give the Bitty Bracer a try (Thanks, Bro.  You unwillingly bought me a bra for Christmas.  Sorry!) so I decided to go ahead and break the race day apparel rule and wear it to run. After all, what’s one more broken rule for a girl who forgot to train for a race?!

Around 6:35 we all parted ways for our corrals.  The Hubs was in A, Jasen and I were assigned B, Casey and Rachel were in C, and Derek was in D.  I corralled myself back with Casey and Rachel and the three of us began a game of “beef spotting” to pass the minutes until gun time.  The Texas Beef Council has a team of ambassador runners that all wear shirts that say “Fueled by Beef” which always cracks me up.  Maybe it’s the former raw vegan in me, but I just end up picturing someone blending up a steak smoothie post race every time I see that shirt.  It’s funny- omnivore or not- and it’s a slogan that sticks with you so that marketing team has earned its gold star.  It’s also one of those things that can help break you out of long run delirium- there were several times when one of us was mentally withdrawing and hearing your friend shout “Over there… Beef!” was a welcome distraction.  Beef spotting.  It’s a thing.

With Rachel wanting to better her 2:24:55 half time, Casey claiming to only care about running the whole time and staying under 2:30, and the fact that my training has been laughable the plan was to run with the 4:45 marathon pace group until the turn off at mile 8 so I could take it easy without having to think much until I took over pacing duties for the group.  No such luck.  We discovered that the 4:45 pace group were run/walkers which meant my dreams of a mindless early 8 miles were shattered and I’d actually have to think the whole time because staying consistent requires thinking for me.  Because we don’t walk. And because I’m consistently inconsistent when running.  Realllly inconsistent.  Like, this is my most consistent run in my history as a runner until Houston…

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yay! Look at the pretty curvy green line! Wait… what? It’s supposed to be a straight line? Crap.

Houston Marathon did a great job with the corral organization, and the three of us passed over the starting line only 13 minutes after gun time which seems pretty quick for a large race.  Even though the first four miles aren’t very scenic or interesting, the streets were nice and wide and the pavement was even at that point which was a good way to start so I only had to focus on being consistent.

Looking back at our 5k, 10k, etc splits after the fact makes it seem like I did a pretty good job of pacing this one… like we almost pulled off negative splits until the 20k mark.  Seems pretty consistent:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Pretty good attempt, huh?

Knowing Rachel’s goal, I wanted us to start super easy and keep it under 10:55 per mile to get us in at 2:23 or better.  Looks like I did a great job, right?  But this is what it really looked like mile by mile:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yep… that’s more like it. It looks far less consistent.

But wait… it get’s worse.  Check out our first mile broken down by half mile:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Here is the first mile as it played out in my brain: ‘Why are we running this pace…Quick… Slow the sprinter down… Wait… Now why are we going so slowly!?’  Clearly the kind of thoughts you want the person pacing to be thinking instead of being in some overrated Zen-like state in which your feet simply propel you forward at the correct speed.

So I think we have established that the fact that Rachel refers to me as her “pacer” is completely outlandish.  Moral support… just call me moral support.  It wasn’t a perfect even run, but it was a fabulous improvement for me which was my personal goal- to run more consistently.  And look y’all, I’ve got a new “most consistent” race…

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yay! Only teeny squiggles.  (See the aforementioned dip in our pace early on)

Run wise, this was a pretty good race.  The miles were well marked and , although they were manned by volunteers shouting out “current” paces based on the gun and corral start times which is totally useless and distracting if you don’t start on the gun or at the front of your corral, I appreciated that the flags and clocks were so easily visible.  The water stops were also well manned by a surplus of friendly and supportive volunteers and there were lots of spectators- all in all a great showing for the friendly people of Houston.

Being a remarkably “average” runner who spends the bulk of her time amongst the cattle drive that is the median speed distance runner on race day, I’m pretty used to having to navigate around others with poor running etiquette.  Tutu runners jogging arm in arm who corralled themselves ahead of where they should have been, mid-race mid-course instagramers and tweeters, walkers on the left, and the shoelace tiers who dead stop in the middle of the course with NO VERBAL WARNING.  Houston?  You had no problems!  Congratulations for hosting a race that attracts people who are more interested in running than marathoning through a town dressed as a condom or some such nonsense while live tweeting photos of themselves with spectators at every mile marker.

The three of us ran a relatively quiet race aside from the beef spotting, momentary outbursts of song, and my half mile check in’s with Casey.  “How we doing Casey?  You okay?”  When she said nothing, I knew she was fine; when she said she had a side stitch or the like, I knew she was surviving; and when she answered with “good…good…” I figured she was hating me for convincing her to do this.  I know her code.  I mostly got silence and a nod, so I knew things were going really well.  Then I got quite a few good’s in a row so I started to get a little concerned.  And that’s when the hip flexor talk started… a very dangerous game.

If you’ve given birth without a c-section, your hip flexors are a constant problem.  Even sleeping with your hips stacked incorrectly can lead to a miserable day, so when three moms start checking in with their hip flexors at the midpoint of a half marathon things can get dicey.

Luckily, we were due for a pick me up at mile 9!

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yes, sir. Your Mommy is insanely fast!

At just the right time we heard a happy little voice… “Go Mommy!  Go Miss Jenn!”  Casey’s son and parents were there to cheer her to through the end of her first distance race- which for me is always tear inducing.  There is nothing that can motivate me the way that my child can and knowing the impact her love has on my well being makes me feel warm and fuzzy anytime I see a kiddo cheering on a parent at a race.  I can still remember vividly how sad I was on the marathon leg of last year’s Goofy each time I passed a point where I just might have seen my little one but she wasn’t there.  Main Street Magic Kingdom?  No.  Polynesian Resort? No.  And I remember even more clearly how overwhelmed with happiness I was when I rounded the bend into Epcot World Showcase at mile 25 and I heard an unexpected, exuberant “Mama… How is your run!?!”  So when we passed Casey’s son I may or may not have shed a tear… and picked up the pace just a bit.

By mile 10 our group seemed steady once again so  I made the mistake of mentally checking in with myself to see how I was holding up with my lack of of training and I realized that my IT bands had quickly trumped my hip flexor pain.  It’s something I should have expected because for me under training = immediate IT band problems.  I decided to hyper obsess about our pace to take my mind off of it, but I needed an outside push.

As we reentered downtown at mile 12, Rachel stared inquiring about where we were in terms of her goal time.  I reported that we had been running slightly slower than our actual pace because I knew what would happen and that it would give me the push I was looking for that everyone else could totally handle- Rachel instinctively picked up our pace with her PR in question.

And just like that I wasn’t leading anymore, thankful to pass off motivation duties to a friend.  When my watch rolled over to 12.5 miles, I let everyone know and all of a sudden we were pulling 8:38 per mile.  Then, for some stupid reason, I let them know when we were 2/10ths of a mile out (as though it is some important milestone) and Casey took off.

Awesome.

The choice at this point was chase the fastest white American female sprinter in history for .2 miles or miss the opportunity to cross the finish with my two dearest friends.  She knew which one I would choose, because she wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise.  We worked our way through an insanely narrow finisher’s chute, weaving our way to the finish through a difficult to navigate maze of slowing runners.  Casey was all smiles and Rachel looked happy but still hadn’t realized her finish time.  2:19:12.

We made our way into the reunion area to find mine and Casey’s husbands who had finished long before us (1:23:27 and 1:28:50 respectively) and to wait for Derek to cross the finish as well.  Everyone felt good.  No injuries.  And my new sports bra was still feeling amazing.  You can’t ask for much more than that!

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

And I’ve received a gentle reminder of why we continually train in the form of a slightly achey IT Band.

Excuses are uncomfortable.  Continual effort feels so much better in the end.

Hooray for the return of race season!

Aramoco Houston Half Marathon

Race/Course Highlights:

  • The corrals are organized and efficient.
  • Water stops were well staffed with friendly volunteers.
  • Great race etiquette from the majority of runners.
  • Shady course.
  • Finishing beside Discovery Green is a lovely ending.
  • Well organized post race and reunion area.
  • Well known race with well know elites- a great dose of inspiration!

Race/Course Challenges:

  • Several water stops at course narrows leading to excessive bottlenecks.
  • The pavement is harder here than elsewhere.  (All six of us felt this way- there is no way we are all crazy.)  Plan your footwear accordingly.
  • Volunteers at most mile markers were shouting out “pace times” in an attempt to be helpful… but those paces only hold true for those who started with the gun.  While this isn’t a problem for people with a pace group or using a watch, it could be very misleading and discouraging for novice runners.
  • Quite a few stretches of course with uneven pavement and potholes.
  • The finish line chute is WAY to narrow for runners who come in at the median finish time- it felt a little unsafe trying to maneuver around those who had slowed down.

Fly High Baby Bird

9 Sep Go Running, Mama!: Fly High Baby Bird

The new school year has begun and once again my two and a half year old little Baby Bird is home with me. I love it. I absolutely love our time together. This fabulous stay-at-home momminess is what I wanted so badly when I was picturing the ideals of motherhood as I incubated my little one for nine months. Eleven months out of the year I am confident that my decision to stay home and have my daughter at home with me are the right decision for us.

But right now I’m in the midst of that one month that makes me doubt my choice ever so slightly- Back to School month.

My social media, email, text inbox, and even mailbox are flooded once again with “first day” photos taken by other mothers I love and respect of their children- many the same age of Baby Bird- embarking on the journey of education outside of the home with a new lunch tote and big big smile.

My reasons for not enrolling Baby Bird in early education are valid- As a former educator I’m easily qualified to facilitate creative play and scaffold early academic skills. We can work on basic life skills in real situations. I’m always aware of her areas of deficit and advancement through our constant interaction. And we have no shortage of peer group playdates. Rough days can be rough days. Our schedule is ever flexible.

But just as valid are the reasons that other mothers I respect choose to send their children to early childhood programs- Their sons and daughters are learning to accept instruction and feedback from other adults. Their peer group reaches beyond the scope of mom’s hand-selected playgroup. Their growth is monitored through someone else’s lens with a broader perspective. They learn to navigate rough days. Their schedule marches on.

This summer I decided that the ideal compromise would be to enroll Baby Bird in one day of the Mothers’ Day Out performance arts program at the dance studio where I teach class. She is familiar with the location, the teachers, and loves dance and art and I can get some work taken care of one morning a week while watching her dance and play with peers on the studio monitors. Win/win!

And yet, as the beginning of the school year approached I couldn’t help but wonder if I was making the right decision. Could Mothers’ Day Out stand in for a “school” experience? Was she going to get something out of the program, or was it simply for me?

If Baby Bird was going to be involved in a program, I wanted her to be excited and invested in it.  I just could n’t wrap my head around how a 2.5 year old could be genuinely invested in something.  Luckily, the universe has a way of working things out for me.

A week before fall semester was to begin, Baby Bird and I spent a considerable amount of time at the studio helping get everything ready for the new year.  During that time our studio dance company, Push, was present seven hours a day for choreography camp.  Each day, I would sneak Baby Bird into the studios so that she could watch the dancers in person who so captivated her on the monitors and through the studio windows.

Her response made me feel immediately at ease with my decision to enroll her in Mothers’ Day Out at the studio as well as immensely excited about what the art of dance has to offer her in the future.  At the end of the week, I couldn’t help but share my observations with the company directors Kristin and Danielle (edited only to remove Baby Bird’s real name):

Go Running, Mama!: Fly High Baby Bird

Baby Bird with some of the older Push Company members

Kristin and Danielle-

I know y’all have been working unbelievably hard this week and I wanted to take a moment to share a little something with you from our family’s personal experience.
Baby Bird is no stranger to our studio, nor does she cross paths with many strangers at Balance- most students and parents know her by name at this point. It should come as no surprise that she loves to dance given her continued exposure to studio life and her access to caring, nurturing instruction.
Despite her frequent appearances at the studio year round, this week has provided her a unique opportunity to experience dance through the eyes and emotions of other young dancers- an opportunity normally only experienced by current company members- by being present at the studio in the whirlwind of choreography camp.
And something magical is happening within her little soul.
I’ve taught little ones for many years, so as an instructor I felt up until this week that I understood the depth with which a preschooler could love dance. For them “love” is enjoyment, a pastime, a hobby that consumes them when present but not much beyond that. If you had asked me Monday evening, I would still have told you that a toddler couldn’t be moved by dance. Couldn’t be captivated. Couldn’t be compelled into action by something greater than momentary enjoyment.
I was wrong.
I’ve allowed Baby Bird to stealthily slip into the studio several times throughout the week to watch the PUSH kids (whom she has referred to as “the beautiful dancers” since the first time she was enchanted by watching Mattie rehearse) because I thought she would enjoy it. What I got to witness in my child as a mother/dancer will never leave me.
I watched as your dancers moved her. I watched as their movements captivated her. I watched as the yearning to move consumed her… and has compelled her into a never ending stream of consciousness dance from the moment we arrive at home until the moment it is time for bed each night.
She moves with the honesty and abandon she was able to catch glimpses of as your dancers rehearsed. She is unrestrained and unafraid. She is alive with a very real love for something far greater than us all- the need the express the purpose of the universe through dance.
It’s been a long week for you all. You are tired, sore, and mentally burdened. You’re focused on the improvements that need to be made with time as the season progresses. Rightfully so.
But please know this- the effort, discipline, and passion that is being put forth by your students right now is already giving birth to the next generation. Each movement, however labored it might be from tired muscles, plants a seed for a child looking in from the outside. Each drop of sweat waters it. When you are able to reap what this generation has sown through their effort I know with sincerity that the results will be astounding.
Thank you to your company for silently and unwittingly giving birth to a passionate little dancer this week. Tiny eyes are watching each step they take; the responsibility they carry unintentionally is immense.
Very truly yours-
Jenn
Go Running, Mama!: Fly High Baby Bird
Confidently, Baby Bird and I both faced her first day of Mothers’ Day Out with a smile.  She wore a brand new leotard and carried a lovingly packed lunch tote… and refused to pull her hair back- that’s the kind of start to be expected from my little redhead.  I know that she loves to dance and that she will stretch her creative side while she learns to take instruction from other adults and interact with her peers.  And she will keep learning from me at home as well.
I’m still doing what’s best for me and my mini-me.
It’s a win/win.
No guilt necessary!
Go Running, Mama!: Fly High Baby Bird

Baby Bird (left) with her teacher and a favorite toddler friend also embarking on her first day of class without Mommy

Thank you to Shawna Hesketh Photography for the beautiful images at the barre from Balance Dance Studio’s Path to Push program.

Just Shut Up and Run!

18 Jul Go Running, Mama!- ready to get moving

One week ago, I decided to share my little idea- Go Running, Mama!– with the world.  On the day that I published the blog, it had two viable pages and one little post aout my smoothie recipe from that morning.  And although, one week later, there still isn’t a vast history of post I’m mighty excited to carve out a little chunk of space in cyberspace that is mine all mine.  Excited… but also a little surprised by my recent posts- pop tarts, smoothies, tacos, harissa, ice cream.  On Go Running, Mama!

Notice what’s missing?  Yep, running posts!  And this is why….

Go Running, Mama!

“What’s the deal, Mama? Let’s go running!”

Five weeks ago I had surgery and was sidelined from all activity until seven days ago.  All activity.  No running… no yoga… and, supposedly, no teaching dance.  I’m not normally the kind of gal to obey doctor’s orders about restricted activity, but this time I had stitches in my abdomen that slightly complicated things (not to mention that they had to potential to leave an insanely ugly scar if I stretched them out too early).

So I mostly obeyed.  I didn’t run so I wouldn’t turn my torso or sweat into my incision.  I didn’t do yoga so I wouldn’t rip though my sutures or elongate my scar.  And I only demonstrated choreography once full out while teaching dance.

After four weeks of rest, I was beside myself with excitement to start running again when cleared.  The night before my first post-surgery run, my running coach emailed me my newly amended training schedule and I couldn’t wait to see what she had in store for me.  When I opened it up I was immediately discouraged- 30 minutes easy, rest, 30 minutes easy and 6 strides, rest, 10 minutes easy + 3×2 medium pace + 10 minutes easy, 6 miles easy, rest– by the nice easy week she had planned. Grrrr!  Coming off of four months of hard workouts and considerable effort, that looked  pretty similar to my four weeks of sitting on my butt.  How would that ever get me back into the swing of things?  Surely four weeks hadn’t set me back so far that 30 minutes of easy running would require any effort, right?!

Wrong.

Go Running, Mama!- ready to get moving

Ready to get moving again…

My first run back was abismal.  It was one of those hot, humid days that is rare even for the searing Austin summer- the kind of day where you feel more like you are swimming forward through the air rather than running through it.  Thirty minutes felt like an eternity.  My easy pace didn’t feel all that easy.  My stats on my GPS watch infuriated me no matter how I rotated thought them.  I arrived home tired and sweaty- which is normally good when it isn’t coupled with frustration and discouragement.

The second run wasn’t much better.  Neither was the third.  Essentially, the entire first week was complete rubbish.  I kept calling them “trash runs” and my husband kept reminding me that every run is better than not running so there aren’t any “trash runs.”  That might be so… but they were  still trash runs.  I would head out on my run alone, get inside my head, and spend the next 30+ minutes berating myself for falling so far behind where I had been just a short four weeks before.  I spent a whole week telling myself with each footfall that it seemed impossible that I will get to the point in December where I can run a sub-4 hour marathon like my coach and I had planned.  In short, it was a bad week.

I needed a way to claw myself out of my self-doubt spiral.  Luckily, assistance arrived in the form of a running buddy!

Earlier this week the hubs was out of town, so my mom and brother came to stay and help out while he was gone.  It’s rare that I get to do a weekday run with anyone other than myself because we have to stagger our early morning runs to ensure someone is always home with the babe.  Even on the rare occasion that we have a grandma in town to help with the little one, my husband runs so much faster than me that it is nearly impossible for us to match up our paces to run together.  Monday morning, however, I got to run with my brother while my mom did baby duty.  Normally, my brother would also be far too fast for me on a short or middle distance run, but this week our circumstances matched up perfectly- he is on leave and in rest mode after some recent military training and I’m in post-surgery recovery mode trying to ease myself back in (begrudgingly).

As we head out to run on an uncharacteristically cool, overcast day I reminded my brother that I was supposed to keep it at a nice, slow 10 minute pace… and that even at that slow pace I might struggle.  He assured me that was fine by him and kept me engaged in conversation from the get go.  The minutes, hills, and miles few by and 30 minutes later we arrived at home slightly under my easy pace. I felt good.  I was smiling.  I was confident.  It was a relief to reclaim my normal post-run self-assuredness that I am improving myself and my life, however gradually, with each footfall of each run.

My brother and I didn’t do anything monumental on that run- it was familiar terrain at a slow, familiar pace- but having someone with me to keep me from listening to and engaging the mental heckler who had taken up residence in my subconscious made all the difference.  We talked about vacation plans, career and life goals, and made fun of ourselves quite a bit.  We talked about simple things which kept my brain quiet.  Through all the chatter and laughter I brought myself back to a place of internal quiet and focus.  Apparently, sometimes it takes good conversation and a great friend to allow you to just shut out negative thoughts so you can shut yourself up and run.

Go Running. Mama- Shut Up and Run

Seven extra sedentary lbs don’t exactly make you excited to run in a sports bra… but it’s summer in ATX people!

So right now I’m slow.  I’m a good seven pounds heavier.  But I’m back in the swing of things.  And I’m running this body again!

It’s time to shut off the self doubt,

Shut up,

And run.