Do Your Best…

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” – II Timothy 2:15

These are the words that I needed to read this morning, these are the words that one of my Assisted Living residents handed to me this morning as I was making rounds at 6:30 am through the Post Acute Dining Room in preparation for Day 2 of our Annual Survey from the Department of Aging and Disability Services.  This process is the Kona or World Series of my chosen profession.  Every 9-15 months, every “nursing home,” in the land has an unannounced ‘survey’ based on Federal and State Regulations. Ours started on Sunday morning as I was standing at the Bike Mount Line of the Ironman 70.3 Austin in Austin, TX where I had just spent the past 4 hrs as a volunteer, watching fearless athletes climb out of Lake Walter E Long after swimming 1.2 miles in impossible conditions only to jump on their bike to tackle a 56 mile bike ride followed up by a 13.1 mile run.  5 of those athletes were my friends, 4 of which where making their first attempt at this monster endeavor. I had seen courage beyond belief as these athletes struggled to clip-in, fell over, and continued on despite the odds.

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Just as the last competitor was crossing the bike mount line, my cell phone rang… “Four surveyors had arrived at work, what should we do?”  Thus began a race of my own, frantic phone calls and text messages as I tried to rally my team to come into work on a beautiful Sunday morning and the scramble to get back on the shuttle and then back to the hotel to collect my things and start the excruciating 3 hr drive from Austin to Dallas.  I found myself in a position I don’t like to be in, a position where I was not in control; I had to trust my team.

So many things raced through my mind as I worked on setting a PR for fastest drive, with one bathroom stop, between Austin and Dallas.  I was upset, sad, nervous, stressed, adrenaline raced through me.  I resented my profession because it had once again upset my plans – I was letting my friends down because I wouldn’t be at the finish line cheering for them.  I was letting my team down because I had gone out of town right in the sweet spot of our survey window. How could I have miscalculated like this, I was the master of control and now I had control over nothing; but for a few phone calls asking questions about where to find this list and that file.

So here we are, Monday morning; my last survey at my previous employer had not been a good one.  Our survey team was tough and I had been suspect number 1.  I was nervous, scared I would let my team down; that I was facing a repeat of last year’s failure. I messaged two fierce women asking for their support. I needed my own personal cheering section, I had to be strong I had to be brave; I had to push through just like those athletes did yesterday, just like the man who was taking a moment at the bike mount line.  When we asked if he was okay he told us he was completing his first 70.3 at the age of 61. Like my friend who struggled through the swim, only to fall hard off her bike but got herself back up and tackled a very challenging bike route.

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And then this morning, those words fell into my hands; the words I needed to read.  The words that reminded me that my job, my work is a gift.  That I owe it to my team, my residents to do my best; but I also owe it to myself.  There are times when the balance of work and life won’t be even;  but what I learned this weekend was that I can step away and my team will rise to the occasion and I need to give them the space to step up.  As I contemplate my own half Ironman in April and possibly a full Ironman, I have to learn that there will be so many things that I can’t control and that’s okay.  What I can control is how I respond and that I do my best and that just like my 5 fierce friends who finished Ironman 70.3 Austin under challenging circumstances, that I finish strong.

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Do Not Despise the Day of Small Beginnings…

And I’m back… Not certain how it has been over a year since I’ve written a post and I am not certain what finally got me to start actually writing again, but here I am.  The truth is that over the past 6 months I’ve composed many great blog posts in my head, but lacked the where with all to actually sit and write them down.

“Do not despise the day of small beginnings,” Zechariah 4:10.  I’ve come to love this verse recently.  It seems to apply to many areas of my life right now, where I know small steps will eventually lead to great things. So here is my “Small Beginning,” with this blog.  I promise a more in-depth and entertaining catch up post tomorrow.  For tonight I just wanted to get some words down and fair warning to the world that I’m posting again!

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Had a Bad Day

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn about running and probably the one I forget the easiest is that there will sometimes be days when running is really, really hard. Since November I’ve been on a hot streak literally with my running. In fact up until today I had a 65 day running streak going on.

I started my streak on November 1st as a means to keep me somewhat on track through the holidays and give me some focus after my marathon in December. Then the marathon got cancelled due to the ice storm and all of a sudden I was signed up for the Cowtown Marathon in February and instead of backing off on my mileage I was and am still in the thick of marathon training and I was feeling pretty invincible!

Yesterday’s run was scheduled to be 10 miles plus a 10K, for a total of 16 miles. Not a big deal in my head. What I didn’t take into consideration was that I’d been pushing myself pretty hard with no real break. My slow and easy recovery runs were fast and hard. I did 9 miles on Wednesday and then spent the rest of the day on my feet walking and ice skating. Never mind holiday traveling and less than stellar eating, and not enough sleep – pretty much a recipe for disaster…what could go wrong?

Well… We started out on Saturday morning and it was cold, windy and I was tired. What should have been a comfortable pace for the 10 miler was a struggle, and I’d never really wrapped my head around running the 10K which was an out and back route that I’d already run that morning and previously on Wednesday, and to make matters worse someone started talking about skipping the 10K. Yeah, my own head wasn’t screwed on right so that didn’t help either. We made it back just in time for the start of the 10 K but I knew pretty quickly that this was a lost cause. My form was sloppy at best and my left hid was starting to act up, when my partner mentioned that she was going to drop out once I found my stride, I was toast. I’ve never not finished a race, ever. But there was no way my legs, my heart, and my mind could do it. I don’t know that I’ve ever hit a wall that hard and not pushed through.bonk1

Dropping out of the 10K was the right decision. I was not running smart and I was risking injury. There are times in your running life when you have to listen to your body and mine was very clearly saying stop. So I did, I spent the rest of the day being incredibly lazy (but I am caught up on Grey’s Anatomy now!) and then decided to take Sunday morning off.  I was really disappointed in myself for dropping the race, but when I looked at my training log I’d still managed a 30 mile week even without the 10k or running any miles on Sunday morning.  20140105-205321.jpg

 It is really hard to accept when something you love doing so much just doesn’t work. But that’s what makes those days when everything goes right and running feels so good that much better.  I know that I need to get my diet back on track, add some cross training into my schedule, and work on getting more sleep. I also know I need to pay more attention to my target pace for my work outs, slow easy runs do in fact have their place in a smart training plan.  So I’ll be back at it on Monday morning and this week I plan to be smart about my training and ready to make Saturday’s 18 miler my b$tch!

Have you ever crashed and burned and had to re-evaluate your training?  What adjustments did you make? What lessons did you learn?

 

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The Best Year of My Life

Welcome to Day 1 of 2014. I know it’s been almost two months since my last post and I’ve decided to forgo the 2013 recap and start with my goals and intentions for 2014.  If you want a recap you can get most of the highlights in my very first post, although the St. Jude Memphis Marathon was canceled due to weather.

This is the year I turn 40! How did that happen? I can honestly say that I never had a preconceived picture in my head of what my life would look like at 40-no vision of being married with 2.5 kids, a minivan, and a house in the burbs with a white picket fence. Although I never really thought I’d be living in my sister’s guest bedroom.

I started 2013 with, “Just Say Yes,” by Snow Patrol as my theme song and I can honestly say it has served me well. This year there are 2 songs that come to mind Sara Bareilles’ Brave and Best Day of My Life by the American Authors.

As I embark on this 40th year of my life I want to push myself out of my comfort zone both personally and professionally. I want to do things that I thought were impossible, to achieve new things and reach some goals that have seemed to be just out of my reach. I want this to be the best year of my life!

So here is a quick run down of my personal goals:
Run 1,500 Miles
Complete the Cowtown and Chicago Marathons –  finish at least one in under 5 hours
Blog once a week
Establish and follow a budget
Cross-train: Yoga or strength training twice a week
Find an apartment of my own (I have a renter for my townhouse!)
Meditate 5 minutes a day
Convert to an 80/20 Paleo Diet ( I just feel better when I eat more whole foods)
Travel more
Unplug more -I’m a Facebook addict and I want to be more present in the world that is right in front of me and not what someone else is doing, although I do love sharing and being a part of your lives, but if don’t need to check Facebook every 5 minutes!

Most importantly I want to try new things like going to Vegas for my birthday, trail running, ice skating in Klyde Warren Park with my niece, and whatever else might strike my fancy.

So there you go, my game plan for 2014 and it’s already gotten off to a great start with an awesome 9 mile run this morning around White Rock Lake with Karla, ice skating in Klyde Warren Park with my niece this afternoon and scouting out apartments in the Eos with the top down with my niece and sister. I’m ready 2014 let’s make this the Best a Year of My Life!

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The Road to Nowhere.

Well, here we are again.  I’ve let 2 weeks go by without a single post!  Lots has happened since then, but I am happy to report that my self designed running streak continues!  And if you’re interested in streaking, which I highly recommend, check out the Runner’s World Holiday streak that starts on Thanksgiving day and ends on New Year’s and yes even though I’ll be running the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in between that time, I’m signing up for that streak too.  And yes, I fully recognize that I have a problem, but better that I’m running as opposed to shoving food in my face which is the other alternative…

Anyway, this weekend proved to be a real challenge.  I was at my brother and sister in-law’s house for my nephew’s 9th birthday.  parker  They happen to live in Cowa beautiful spot, that is every child’s dream, out in the country in Southeast Oklahoma.   I love going to visit them and my niece and nephew with one exception – there’s literally nowhere to run unless I drive 10 miles into town.  They live on a very loose gravel road with no shoulder and lots of heavy truck traffic and unfettered dogs.  So in 9 years of going to visit them I’ve never run unless I happen to be staying at a hotel in town. 

This is what all of the roads around their house look like.

This is what all of the roads around their house look like.

This weekend I decided I wasn’t giving up the streak so after consulting with my brother, I ran the same 1/2 mile stretch of road- free from rabid dogs and trucks -over and over and over and over and over again to get 3 miles. 

The Road to Nowhere
The Road to Nowhere

It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t pretty; but I did manage 3.2 miles this morning, not counting the laps around the yard I ran with my most beloved running partners, my nieces. I love that my nieces are interested in my running!  And even though we don’t go far and we don’t go fast it is fun to run with my girls.  There were also several games of tag, hide n go seek and we did jump on the trampoline. I love being active with my nieces and nephews and I hope I am setting a good example for them.   

 

 
Runner Girls!

Runner Girls!

I find it somewhat ironic that when I was my nephew’s age, I hated PE and could never finish the obstacle course in the right amount of time.  Now, each run is a small victory for that girl.  Oh the places you go when you lace up your running shoes and head out the door!

If you have kids or niece and nephews or grandkids what do you do to help them live a health and active lifestyle?

 

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Streaking

We're Going Streaking through the quad.

We’re Going Streaking through the quad.

Yes, AuntJenFox is going streaking!  Now get your minds out of the gutters, I’m not talking about the kind of streaking when you’ve had one too many drinks and running across your college campus with no clothes on seems like a really good idea; I’m talking about a running streak. 

I love the idea of committing too and completing a running streak.  Honestly, I think I’ve started 2 or 3 of the Runners’ World  Holiday Running streaks, but have only completed 1. Last week as I was reading through the countless Running and Fitness blogs that I follow, I came across the Pile On The Miles 2013 Challenge from Monica at Run Eat Repeat. The idea is that she hosts a challenge for the month of November to keep you moving.  You sign in and establish goal for the month and then report back in at assigned times throughout the month.  As I am coming into the home stretch of training for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon (FYI I’m still accepting donations) in December, I was stuck on what goals to establish for myself and then it came to me – a streak! streak

My Goal for the #POTM2013 Challenge is to Run at least 1 Mile everyday in November.  Yes, I’ll be tapering, but what has worked for me in the past is running a slow easy mile or two on the off days.  I’ve been running 5 Days a week through this training cycle so that’s only 2 more days and by slow I mean 12:30 – 13:00 minute mile slow…   sticker,375x360_u2I completed a streak last spring, and I found the process to be very beneficial.  It was almost calming and I did much better with maintaining my weight.  I really struggle through the holidays (I know that’s a shock) so I am hoping that this will help keep me on track. 

My plan is to get this streak started and then jump on to the next Runners’ World Holiday Streak – usually they do one from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  I am making progress on my weight loss goals and I feel like I am in good shape for my marathon.  The up coming holiday season will be busy and while I don’t want to go into it with unrealistic expectations (I won’t be starting Whole 30 anytime soon), I also want to do my best to avoid the 10 lbs I typically gain between Thanksgiving and New Years.  I think by starting now and getting a firm plan in place for my excercise and nutrition I’ll be in the best shape of my life when I hit the big 40 in mid January.

Have you ever completed a running streak?  Are you already starting to make plans for surviving the holidays?

 

 

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Friday Five!

Hello Friends!  I hope everyone has had a great week.  Mine has been exhausting and I’m glad it is over and I have some down time this week.  The 2013 National Leading Age Conference was in Dallas this week and it consumed more of my time than I had planned – if you’ve never spent time with people that work in long term care and senior living you’re really missing out.  Not only do we work hard, my work week started last Sunday at 7:00 am, some of us tend to party hard too… maybe harder than we should, but anyway I digress.  I still don’t feel like I’m doing the best job of keeping up with the blog and realize I still need to write part 2 of my trip to Kansas City and running the 1/2 Marathon, but I can at least come up with another Friday Five and this one is dedicated to the current top 5 songs on my running or driving with the top down playlist:

  1. Cedric Gervais & Howard Jones – Things Can Only Get Better (Remix) It’s Howard Jones so and a little bit of techno, so how can you not love this song?  And if you don’t know who Howard Jones is you need to spend sometime studying the awesome music of the 80s and I’d also suggest that you watch Pretty in Pink, the Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, 16 Candles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off because you obvioulsy weren’t blessed with the good fortune to grow up in the 80s. Oh and invest in some good early Madonna while you’re at it.
  2. Brit Nicole – Gold: I wake up between 4:00 and 4:30 am 5 days a week to run so I sometimes need something on the positive side and this has it all, Girl Power Message with a good beat!
  3. Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines: I know this might be a controversial choice, but its my playlist and you don’t have to listen to it!
  4. a-ha – Take On Me: Another classic 80s hit, but this is the original no remix needed.  And if your still struggling with the awesomeness of the 80s please referr to #1.
  5. Snow Patrol – Just Say Yes:  Back at the end of 2012, someone shared this song on their blog and suggested it as a personal theme song.  I picked it as mine for 2013 and some pretty awesome things have happened, things that I’ve talked about doing for years.  I’m still using it as my personal theme song because there is so much more that I need to, “just say yes,” too in 2013!

It actually was hard to narrow down the list to just 5 because I have so many great songs that get me moving in the morning so maybe I’ll do another sample from the AuntJenFox play list soon!

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