Still hoping, still dreaming.

The dreamer in me is feeling a little bummed out this week.  I received the official news recently that once again I did NOT make the registration cut for the Boston Marathon.

For those of you who are confused by this, let me explain.  Despite the fact that I finally reached my goal of running a Boston qualifying marathon time in 2014, it still did not guarantee me a spot in the Boston Marathon.  The time I needed to qualify was a 3:35 and I ran a 3:34:54.  In the past, all who qualified for Boston got in even those like myself who barely made the cut.  However, in the past few years the running community has increased, gotten faster AND the desire to run Boston since the bombing has been huge; so the last two years they were not able to accept everybody who qualified due to the large amount of qualifiers and field size limitations. Therefore, the fastest got priority.  Last year was one of those years and so was this year- go figure right?  My time was good for two years, so despite being heartbroken from not getting in last year, I was hopeful that this year I would have a chance. Not so much.  This means if I want to run in the Boston Marathon, I will need to go back to the drawing board and run another qualifying time. I plan on doing so, I plan on getting faster.

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Receiving the confirmation that I did not get in brought back all kinds of negative feelings and thoughts of not being good enough.  I was not born a natural athlete by any means. No matter if it was on the cross country & track team or soccer field I have always had to work much harder than my peers to barely be at their level.  This has done enormous things for my character growing up and truly taught me the meaning of work ethic and perseverance.  But I would be lying if I told you it didn’t break my spirit sometimes to work so hard and still come up short.

I had two big things I really wanted to cross off my list before Shain and I started on our journey of having a family. Run the Boston Marathon and and go on a solo international hiking trip.  I thought I had it all planned out.  I thought it was going to work.  But it is no news to anybody that life does not always work according to plan.

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I had booked a trip to Peru for this past May but due to everything going on with selling our house, buying a new one and finding out I was pregnant- I had to cancel it.  I was elated to find out we were expecting, don’t get me wrong.  The day I took my pregnancy test I was alone at home and I literally started dancing and jumping around in the hallway like a little kid.  But a part of me was also sad that the person who could book a trip on a whim or could dedicate hours and hours a week to training for a race/marathon/whatever- would not be the same. This little person who I already love so much is going to change everything.

Now, despite not being a mom yet I am not the person who believes that life ends once your family starts. I know life will change drastically.  I will give everything to my family, I have felt ready to be a Mom for a long time now.  I believe in putting my children first, but I will not sacrifice who I am, that would be a shame. How is my little girl to learn what hard work and perseverance look like? She will watch her dad travel all over the country working his butt off in his day job so that he can support us and she will probably tag along on weekends to help him work on his house-rehab projects, just like he did as a kid with his Dad.  She will watch her mom finally run that Boston Marathon that she trained for in the wee early morning hours or evenings when she was sleeping (fingers crossed on the sleeping part).  Maybe when she is old enough she will even travel the world with me on all kinds of adventures. This little girl will feel all the love and support in the world, but also watch her parents go after what they want and hopefully she will then learn to do the same.

Yes, the dreamer in me is a little saddened this week.  But as I am typing this, my baby is kicking away in my belly and I tell you what- that has got to be one of the best feelings ever.  I may not have hiked to the top of a mountain this year or run a fast enough marathon, but God gave me the talent to create a life and that is something I will never take for granted.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

A look back at 2014

There was A LOT that happened in 2014…almost too much to handle.  I got married to an amazing man and accomplished some pretty lofty goals I set out for myself.  To see all the goals, visit my 2014 Goals tab.  Here are a few highlights…

Qualify for the Boston Marathon

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This was my big one, and I did it by the skin of my teeth.  My final time was a 3:34:56 and I needed a sub 3:35 to qualify.  Unfortunately, with the high volume of registration I still did not make the cut to get into the actual race.  I won’t lie- I cried about this for a good day.  But then I set it free, Boston is not going anywhere and I know I will get there eventually.  It was a huge feat for me personally to even post a qualifying time and took a lot of hard work to get there.  My first marathon time was a 4:26 and I never dreamed I could be in the 3:30s!

Don’t let the little things bother me

This was tough, this was a constant work in progress and something I had to be conscious of at all times and still do. With having a stressful year at work, it made being positive and not letting little things get to me very difficult.  But I will tell you what made it easier…time.  This is the first year since I started working at age 14 where I only had one job to focus on.  In college, I worked 20-30 hours a week on top of school and being an ahtlete.  When I started my career at AU, I still babysat, worked odd jobs and did personal training on the side.  Until this year, I worked at least 60 hours a week if not more…every week.  Year after year.  This year, I slowly cut back on my personal training clients and other side jobs because adding grad school in the mix was finally too much.  This was a hard decision to make but it was the best.  If I had not done that, I would have had a nervous breakdown by now.  No doubt.  What does this have to do with not letting the little things bother me?  I have more TIME to focus on the priorities at hand, to reflect and to just be.  I was still crazy busy, but I was not having meltdowns over the silliest things.  I hope I never go back to keeping a schedule like I did, not sure how I did it all those years to be honest with you!

Plan a wedding for under $10,000

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Didn’t quite meet this goal, but man did I try.  Our guest list turned out much higher than we anticipated which threw our budgeted numbers off a little (turns out when you date for 9 years everybody wants to come to your wedding).  But we pulled a wedding that had 235 guests off for CLOSE to $10,000!  I have said it before and I will say it again…I would marry Shain all over in a heartbeat..but would NOT do the wedding again. Turns out getting married and having a wedding are not at all related to each other. No sireee not for me.

Purchase NOTHING new (clothes, shoes)

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In 2012, I made a challenge to myself to not buy any new clothes for an entire year.  And aside from one purchase at the Chicago Marathon expo, I did it.  I bought nothing else all year.  For 2014, I decided to do the same thing but change it up a little and gave myself the rule of only shopping at second hand stores such as Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, Clothes Mentor & Salvation Army.  There will be a separate blog post coming on everything I found on this fun challenge, I highly recommend doing it!

I am so excited to see what 2015 has in store for me, will update you soon on some of the new things I am going after. How did your goals for 2014 go?  What will you be going after in 2015?  Please do share!

 

 

Boston Qualifer, Boston Hopeful.

I am going to be honest.  I didn’t want to write about this.  I didn’t want to post about it.  But for the last month I have gotten similar questions quite often “When does Boston training start?  Did you book your flight?  Are you so excited?”.  I felt an explanation was necessary and of course it always helps my mind when I write things out.  I don’t want pity, my life is filled with an abundant of blessings.  But I am human and of course I am upset about the turn of events with this race.

My Boston qualifying victory was a short lived one.  I felt on top of the world for a day or so, even though in the back of my mind I knew there would be a chance I still would not make the registration cut due to all the new interest in the Boston Marathon.  I felt like I finally proved to myself I was good enough.  But when I got the official news that I did not meet the registration cut-off, the feelings of “nope, you still aren’t good enough” started to roll in.

When talking to a friend right after the race about how I wish I could have run faster, she said “ I mean really woman, I swear you won’t be happy until you run SO fast that you actually have a negative time and end the race before you started!!”.  That made me laugh, funny because it is kind of true.  I guess we are never good enough for ourselves right?  Being human is hard.

 

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But then I came across two opportunities for charity spots.  One was through the Liver Foundation and the other was for Martin Richards, who was the young boy killed in the the terrible bombing.  My first instinct was that I would love to run for the Martin Richard’s foundation and support his family, but the fundraising minimum is $7,500.  The Liver Foundation is $5,000.   Both of these numbers scared me.  I have fundraised many a time in my life, but I will be honest I am not good at it, I do not like asking people for money.

Do I run for the cause that is less money but doesn’t pull on my heartstrings?  Or do I run for a cause that I feel a little more compassion for but has a much larger fundraising goal that I am uncomfortable with?  As I was thinking of which one to choose- a big part of me felt like I was cheating.  You ever have one of those uneasy feelings about a decision?  A gut feeling?  That is what I had about running for a charity, I cannot explain it but I know better than to go against a gut feeling.

I  could not see myself asking people for money for a charity that I do not feel connected to JUST so that I can run my dream marathon.  To me,  that seems incredibly selfish.  When I go to Boston I want to be there because I earned it.  Because I have a time that is worthy.

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What is so bizarre to me is that all three marathons I have run to try and qualify made no sense, I did all the right things.  Fine -the first time I was terrified and truly did not think I could pull it off.  But for the last two, my mind was pretty good and confident.   For ALL of them I was on pace in my training for at least a 3:28ish marathon if not faster.  My long runs were well below pace, my track workouts were  below pace- but all three race days my pace was different and my body did not feel strong.  Could be the nerves, could be the mind, could be nutrition… could be a lot of things.  But as I am reflecting on all of this, there have been lots of indicators that perhaps 2015 was not meant to be for me.  So I am not going to fight it anymore.

While my time is technically still good for 2016 (pending the same registration issue does not come up again)  Shain and I were also hoping to start trying for a family by that point.  And while yes, running the Boston Marathon has been a dream of mine…it is not a big enough dream to put my bigger dream of having a family on hold.  But, as you know God laughs when you make plans.  So, I am sure both will happen in the time they are supposed to.   I just have to trust there is a greater plan and there always is.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

Hopeful.

It has been a craaaaaazzzy week!  This past week/weekend I had an awesome opportunity to go to the National Association for College Admission Counseling conference.  This one is different from the IACAC conference here in the spring that I always talk about as that one is Illinois specific, where of course this one is for all admission staff and high school counselors across the nation.  The location of this conference changes every year but since it was in Indianapolis this year and more affordable to go to, we were able to send two staff members.  I feel super blessed that I got to be one of the people to go.  It was AWESOME.  So many great sessions.  I have lots of reflections and thoughts that I will be sharing in some future blog posts, so stay tuned 🙂

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A little Boston update for you.  Registration opened up last week and I submitted all my information and have been anxiously waiting to see if I made the cut.  Today I got the unfortunate news that I did not.  Insert sad face here.  They capped registration off at -1:02 below qualifying time.  Which means anybody who qualified by less than that did not get in.  I knew this might happen,  I knew I was cutting it close but it still really sucks.  A lot.  I have been researching how to get into Charity spots for Boston as well, but from what I can see the fundraising limits are incredibly high and it is still tough to get into those unless you know somebody.  But this is where the story gets interesting…stay with me on this one.

There was a 5k being held during the conference I attended last week.  Now I am being honest, I had no intention of doing the 5k.  Really, I swear. It less than a week after my marathon and quite frankly I was looking forward to a little break from running for a while.  But there I was on Wednesday morning sitting in the common area, drinking coffee and checking some emails before the sessions got started when I realized my entire water bottle was turned over and emptied into my work bag.  Everything was SOAKED (those of you that know me, know this is a very typical Jill moment and has happened hundreds of times, sigh).  I happen to be sitting across from the area where they were doing registrations for the 5k happening later that night.  If you registered…you got a t-shirt.  And I thought well why not sign up for it so I can use that t-shirt to soak up the ocean that is my work bag?  Genius right?  So that is what I did and that is the story of how my brain decided to sign up for the 5k.

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It was a beautiful night out, perfect for running.   My legs were a little sore after the marathon, but my body as a whole didn’t feel very fresh. So, I did not have very high expectations and lord knows I was not in the mood to “race”.  But then…the announcer mentioned that the male and female winner of the race get a complimentary registration for next year’s conference…in San Diego.  That kind of changed things a bit.   Needless to say, it was not a leisurely jog in the park like I planned and kinda hurt a little.  Was certainly not my best 5k, but I still pulled a sub 21 and won first female 🙂

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.  The best part of all this?  See that cheesy picture they had me take with the male winner?  As you can see he is from Boston.  We got to talking about running and he mentioned that him and his wife are running the Boston Marathon.  I told him how I just qualified but was skeptical I would not make the registration cut with how close my time was.  Turns out he knows some people and might help me get a charity spot.  So there is HOPE!

I have some emails out to other charities just in case, so right now I just have to wait and see.  I hope I can get in to 2015 somehow.  My time is also good for 2016, but if it is anything like this year it might be the same case again.  I have thought about signing up for a marathon that is happening in November while I am still technically trained and see if I can pull a faster time, but I did that last year and my recovery was awful.  So the debate is still out on that.   I was really looking forward to running shorter distances and focusing more on Crossfit and Yoga for a while and right now that is still my plan.  The thought of going through another year of training or even a couple more weeks makes me want to cringe.  Don’t get me wrong, if I were to get into Boston I would prepare for it, but minimally.  I just would rather spend more time hitting the iron.

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If it was meant to be, it will be.  Just to be considered a Boston qualifier is a huge honor and life goal for me that was accomplished.  So send some positive vibes up and I will keep you posted.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

 

 

 

 

Boston Qualifier.

They say that 87% of people let the fear of failure keep them from being successful.  EIGHTY SEVEN PERCENT.  Is that number not terrifying?  So much untapped potential.  So many people so close to their dreams that come up short.  What if…failure wasn’t even on the table?  What would we be capable of then?  What would this WORLD be capable of?  What dream would you chase wholeheartedly without looking back?

Last fall after a year of training harder than I ever have before, I came up 3 minutes short of a Boston qualifying time…not once but TWICE  in one month.  I was devastated.  I let my fear take me over.  How dare I make such a lofty goal for myself.  Who do I think I am?  I was a middle of the pack runner on my JV Cross Country team in high school.   I could barely break 8 minutes for a 3 miler most of my life.  I ran my first marathon at a 10:30 pace.  Runners like me don’t qualify for Boston.  All sounds like things people in that 87% would say right?  I was one of them for far too long.

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Slowly but surely, I worked on that poor attitude this year.  I read countless books on building positive mental power and had done some serious self reflecting.  What was I so scared of?  My own head, that’s what.   Convincing myself I am worthy has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.   Ironically, I heard this 87%  quote on the way to my marathon this past Saturday morning as I went after my dream goal of being a Boston Qualifier one more time.  That line hit me right in my stomach.  So much that I replayed it several times before I got to the race.  87% of people let the fear of failure keep them from being successful.   All I could think of Saturday was the number 13.  I will be the 13% today.  I WILL.

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Despite my good energy and confidence all week, on race morning, fear still snuck in.  My strategy for race day was to play it very safe.  The last two marathons I ran last year, I had a goal of keeping an even pace the whole way through,  but my legs gave out way too early.  My running style is more of a negative split which means starting off slow and then picking it up and finishing strong.  So I decided that is the race I would run, MY race.  I stuck with the 3:40 pace group for the first 12 miles, which was probably a little longer than I should have because I was scared to take off on my own.  But I left them and made my way to the 3:35 pace group.  Mile 23 I then left them, turned up my music and went for it.  A mere half mile later,  I got two ridiculous cramps in both my calves.  Shortly after that I hit a huge wall.  Words do not do justice to describe a marathon wall, the best I can do is tell you it feels like you have a thousand knives just sitting in every inch of your leg.  It hurts.   I was really hoping I was going to  be lucky and avoid one of those for this race.  Not so much.   All I kept thinking was “you are the 13%, you are the 13%, YOU ARE THE 13%, just keep moving.”

I had all these visions of how this last mile would feel as I approached my goal, I thought I would be on cloud nine, I saw myself smiling and jumping as I crossed the finish line.  Lets just say that was not quite the scene.  Because I was cutting it so close and because I was in so much pain, I could not focus on anything else except moving one foot in front of the other as fast as I could.   I had no time to slow down, no time to skip,  every second counted at this point.   My last mile I felt like I was sprinting, but I was probably not even holding a 9 minute mile.  When I crossed the finish line at 3:34:54 I  collapsed immediately.  I had nothing left.  Nothing.  I was so overcome with emotion, I could not even register the people around me. I could not believe I pulled it off.  With only six seconds to spare, talk about stressful.

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I was a little disappointed that it was such a close call, I really had hoped to feel stronger and finish in the late 3:20s but I FREAKING DID IT. We are all capable of amazing things.  But we have to overcome that fear.  Fear is often disguised as excuses or as self doubt, fight it off.  What I would give to go back in time to my high school and college years, where I often never felt good enough compared to my talented teammates.  I use to day dream about the day I would be in a race or out on the soccer field and have somebody say, “wow look at her, she is a good athlete”.   I wish I knew what I know now.  It was in me all a long, I just had to tap in to it.   I had to stop being so scared.

 

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The amount of support I have received on this journey, has been overwhelming.  It has brought me to tears several times, it has humbled me time and time again.  I am such a lucky girl to be so blessed by so many supportive people.  It is a scary thing to share such a big goal with others.  It means they will know when you fail.  But it is one of the strongest tools to keep yourself accountable.  It kept me from walking at mile 25.  It kept me going to my dreaded track workouts week after week.  It got me here.  Thank you.  Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

 

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Just keep showing up

You know that huge goal I had last year?  The goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon?  Remember how I missed that goal by 3 minutes?  And then AGAIN a month later by two minutes?  Yeah, that was awesome.

So here I am,  well over a month into 2014 marathon training…AGAIN.  I will not lie to you friends, it has not been going so hot.   I don’t know if I am just burnt out on this marathon business or if I am scared of failing again, or if the stress of life lately has affected me- maybe it is a little bit of everything.

Just this past weekend, I had to call Shain in tears to come pick me up on mile 13 of a 15 miler, because I literally let my battlefield of a head work me into a full blown anxiety attack that went like this:  “I really hate running, I should not have had those two beers last night, I wish I could just quit running and do Crossfit only,  it is really hot,  I can’t do this, I am so sick of running, I will never qualify, I have missed my chance, I can’t breathe, my legs feel like lead, my head is pounding, I quit”

I wish I was exaggerating, this is actually a typical conversation in my head during a tough workout/run.   I  have to constantly talk my self off a ledge.  That day I did not succeed, it happens.

 

2014 pics 296Giving Wyatt a swim break during a hot run

I wish I could be that person who could stay out late, eat whatever I want  etc. and still perform at close to my best.  But unfortunately, I am not nor have I ever been that person.  I think that is what makes training for this so hard, I have to sacrifice a lot of fun events,  I have to be more lame than I already am and get to bed early, I can’t binge too much on bad food- otherwise running 15-20 miles at PACE, in the humidity, is a disaster.

I have thought about throwing in the towel many times in this last month alone-but I have not.  I just keep showing up.  I show up to the gym despite my strength being way down (due to all the running), I show up to the track… and I show up to the running path and force myself through (most) of those long runs.  Sometimes all we can do is just keep showing up, it might not be our best, but we will fall far more behind if we just didn’t show up at all.   We will be ahead of those who stayed in bed, laid on the couch, didn’t feel like doing it- we will be that much closer to our goal.

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The days where we feel energized and ready to rock and roll are the easy ones, I certainly have had plenty of really good runs/workouts these past few weeks that leave me saying “Heck yes I can DO this!”.  I even hit a huge 5k PR a few weeks ago that boosted my confidence very much, but the tough days have outweighed the good.  However, it is THOSE days that we don’t want to get up, we just don’t feel like it or there are other plans that sound WAY more fun- those are the days that prove  true dedication.  To running, to work, to whatever it is you are going after.  If it was easy, everybody would do it.

When in doubt, just keep showing up.

 

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂