Tuesday, March 31, 2015

10k or Bust!

What are you doing on May 17?  I'm scheduled to run a 10k race with five of my high school girlfriends.  Part of it (the hanging out and drinking wine in the Napa valley part) I'm super excited about.  Part of it (the running 10 kilometers  part)....not so much. 

I like to call myself a runner, mostly because I've been doing it on and off for the past 12 years, so I feel like I've earned that privilege.  But I'm not really a medal-worthy runner.  Or a long-distance runner.  Or an elite athlete of any kind.  I'm more of a recreational, fair-weather runner. I love to run when it's 70 degrees and sunny.  Or maybe 60 degrees with a little cloud cover.  Two or three miles is my typical work out.  If I hit 8 miles in a week, it's an accomplishment.  A 10k is my own personal marathon. 

My running this winter wasn't super consistent.  I would run once or twice a week and labor through the entire thing.  Heavy breathing, sore hip, tired feet, unmotivated brain.  I was stopping for walk breaks far too often and working way to hard to catch my breath.  Running had never come easy for me, but lately it was feeling even more difficult than normal. 

I started to get frustrated.  I Googled "runners hip pain" and started doing strengthening exercises.  I threw in some hill work (up and down and up and down and up and down) into my routine.  (Not good for sore hips, by the way.) I incorporated short sprints into my runs and varied my tempo.  Still my time and my attitude were nowhere near where I wanted them to be. 

Last week I looked at the calendar and realized the race is two short months away.  It was time to start increasing my distance and get (sort of ) serious if I wanted to make it across the finish line.  I committed myself to running three times per week.

And what do you know?  Things got easier pretty fast. 

Turns out that if you want to get better at something there's really no shortcut.  You just have to practice and put in the time.  It's not rocket science.  I can't count how many times I've preached this sermon to my kids. And then promptly failed to apply the theory in my own life.  You would think by this point in my life I would get it. Actually, there are lots of lessons I try to teach my kids that I sometimes ignore.  Picking healthy choices for snacks.  Using kind words with our friends.  Don't waste all your time staring at a screen.  Pick up your stuff and put it where it belongs. 

So, just a little reminder friends....there are no quick fixes or easy ways to the top.  You have to decide what you want and go for it.  Put in the time, the sweat equity, the practice or the study.

And if that all fails, book a trip to the Napa valley.  Because even a rookie can drink fine wine like a champion. 

Class of 1991 drinking running team. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Facebook Lenten Lessons

Lent has come to symbolize a time of sacrifice.  At church on Sundays, the conversation these days tends to center around what we are giving up or taking on for Lent.  You can eliminate fried food from your diet, give up chocolate, promise to exercise 3x per week, or make a vow to read the Bible every day.  Whatever your flavor of Lenten sacrifice, bravo to you. 

My sacrifice this year is the same one that I tried (and failed) last year.  I deleted the Facebook App on my phone.  Perhaps that's not the most earth-shattering sacrifice on the planet, but it has brought some surprising lessons.

Last year, the struggle was REAL.  I was addicted.  I was on Facebook an obnoxious number of times each day browsing photos of my friends' kids or clicking through to dumb buzzfeed articles about nothing.  Truly.  It was ridiculous.  Those two minutes waiting for my kids to get out of school, or the five minutes in line at the grocery store became the perfect time to lose myself in the frivolous world of Facebook nothingness.  It only took about a week before I was using a clever "work around"...accessing Facebook not through the App, but via the web browser on my phone. 

Hey!  My only commitment was to delete the App!!  I never promised to give up Facebook entirely. I woke up on Easter morning and re-loaded that app before breakfast. 

Fast forward one year, and things have changed.  My attitude toward Facebook and social media in general has changed.  Trying to give up Facebook on my phone last year (and realizing how much of a struggle it was) opened my eyes a bit to the ugly truth about how much time I was spending wasting staring at that little screen, gleaning bits of trivia about random people in my life, most of whom I hadn't spoken to in YEARS.

Lesson #1
Not everyone in your life needs to be your Facebook friend.   There is a thrill that comes from gathering up as many friends as possible when you first get onto Facebook. That random guy from high school that sat behind me in Geometry.  Friend!  That mom I met once at a play date with a mutual friend.  Friend!  Lady that goes to our church but I've never spoken to.  Friend!  Co-workers, casual acquaintances, former classmates, old boyfriends....Friend, Friend, Friend!  I had hundreds of Facebook friends.  But soon the excitement wore off and I realized that I didn't really need everyone I've ever met in the history of my life to be showing up on my newsfeed.  It was sensory overload.  Garbage overload.  Set some parameters and friend accordingly.  My rule is, if I wouldn't invite them over for dinner at my house, they don't need to be my Facebook friend. I've cut out about half my friend list and the de-cluttering feels good. 

Lesson #2
You can use Facebook without allowing it to own you.  Have it on your computer, check it out once a day to see what your friends are up to.  Read a frivolous article or LOL at a stupid photo once in a while.  It can be a fun, recreational tool.  Just be careful that it doesn't become all-consuming.  If you find yourself hiding in the kitchen hoping your kids don't catch you trolling Facebook....that's a good sign that your priorities are getting a little jumbled.

Lesson #3
The most important people in your life aren't on your phone.  They're in your house.  They're your family, your friends, your neighbors.  The important people are the REAL people that you have human interaction with on a daily basis.  Not that Facebook people aren't real.  They are.  But if you're like me, those Facebook 'friends' are mostly not really friends at all.  If we could spend half as much time talking to our neighbors as we do ogling Facebook stories, I believe the world would be a happier place. 

Lesson #4
Even stupid, seemingly insignificant Lenten sacrifices can yield true lessons.  When we take time to alter our "norm" it gives us a different perspective on the world.  We see our life through a slightly different lens.  It clears the dust and clutter from our brain (Even perhaps just a very small corner of our brain) so we can process our experiences in a new way. 

So, carry on with your Lenten practice, whatever that may be.  Look for the lessons.  Power through the pain, the withdraws, the sore muscles or aching sweet tooth.  Revel in your small, human, inconvenience and be humbled by the struggle as you prepare to marvel at the true sacrifice of the Easter story. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

I Am Only One.

Something funny happened when I was at the park with my son the other day.  It wasn't "Ha Ha" funny, more like funny business.  OK, drug business.  Which isn't really funny at all. 

It was a sunny afternoon, and we had just killed about 45 minutes while waiting for big sister to finish her ukulele class.  I was feeling happy that we had found a new little neighborhood park close to her school. 

Until I noticed an anxious-looking young man pull up behind my car, talking on his cell phone and eyeing the park like he was looking for someone or something.  About 30 seconds later, another car full of 20-something guys pulled up across the street.  One guy hopped out.  They all looked around anxiously now, clearly trying to play it cool (some more successfully than others).  Money changed hands.  A petite package changed hands, and the guy hopped back into the car with his group of friends. 

I watched most of this happen out of my rear view mirror as I was pulling out, and then turning around to go in the direction of my daughter's school.  I drove slowly trying to understand what was happening...trying to find some alternate explanation for what I had just witnessed.  I didn't want it to be a drug deal.  I wanted it to be a group of guys meeting at the park to play basketball.  I wanted it to be some young men exchanging recipes for BBQ hot wings.  I agonized trying to find some reasonable, sensible, plausible explanation for this type of exchange other than drugs.  And I came up short. 

I called the police to report the activity.  Not that I expected the police to come in hot pursuit and arrest these guys.  They were probably long gone by the time I picked up my phone.  But I needed somebody to know.  I needed to funnel my anger and fear into something productive.  And making that simple call was about all I felt I could do. 

And maybe that's enough. 

I don't think this community needs another vigilante-justice-minded citizen trying to solve problems with their own rule book. I don't think it would be wise or productive for me to try to tackle a 20-year old guy and flush his drugs down the toilet.  It might have ended badly if I tried to snap photos of their license plates and inform them I was calling the cops. 

What I can do is be a witness.  I can speak up.  I can cry foul when I see it and leave the hard work to the trained professionals.  I can keep taking my kids to the park so it's a busy place that is less appealing for shady transactions. 

Are there drugs in this community?  Yes.  Is it a problem?  Yes.  Is it everywhere?  Is it hopeless?  Should we all lock our kids up and never let them outside?  No, no and no. 

When the good people go into hiding, evil wins.  Anger wins.  Fear wins. 

I, for one, will keep showing up. I will support the positive efforts in this community with my time, my attention, and my dollars.  I will not lock up my children.  I will not throw up my hands and blame every politician, police officer or civic leader for the ills of this community. I am this community. And so are you. 

I am only one, but...