Saturday, November 9, 2013

(Almost) Everything I Learned About Life, I Learned From Being a Runner

With my ninth attempt at 26.2 miles just a few more hours away (so excited for the inaugural Naperville Marathon!) I've been thinking more about why I run and how it connects with my everyday life. I've said it before--the sport of running is about more than just getting stronger, competing with others, and improving your body. Running has changed my life in ways that have nothing to do with the physical aspect of it. For example...

1) I've learned that no matter how much success you experience, you're never immune to the struggles you dealt with in the first place. They can creep back up on you anytime, and they love it when they think you're not expecting them. If you eat that pizza or give in to those cookies that your parents technically bought for their Bears tailgating event the next day, you're accountable. Period. You don't have to spend weeks beating yourself up over it, but you shouldn't ignore it either. Acknowledge it, learn from it, and move forward. Bottom line? You never outgrow the learning process.

2) I've learned that life is hard, but never so hard that you can't find something to smile about...even if it seems minor. Be grateful for the smallest things. Whether it's a genuine hug from a 7-year-old, an unexpected compliment, or time spent with family, it really isn't "small stuff" at all. It can never be small when it brings happiness to some part of your life.

3) I've learned that if you've accomplished something, you should write it down. Write it quickly so you don't forget, even if you have to scribble it on your hand until you get home. When you accomplish something and feel good about yourself, it's nice to have something to help remember that amazing feeling. You'll lean on it later, when you really need the motivation.

4) I've learned that for every weakness you have, it's someone else's greatest strength. Don't be afraid to learn from them, to ask for their help, and to appreciate what they have to share with you. If they took the time to help you out, thank them. If they inspire you, tell them. They deserve to know.

5) I've learned that the glory of the race day is amazing, but there are many, many lonely days during the learning other words, the training. The fun can't come before the work. Sooner or later, you have to just do the hard stuff, often by yourself, and focus on getting stronger without the constant motivation of someone cheering for you. That's the roughest part--struggling through the pain and wondering when the heck it's going to pay off. The second that day arrives, though, you'll feel it, and it's pretty awesome.

6) I've learned that I'm slow, and that's okay. I may not be the best, but that's no excuse to say I'm the worst and stop trying altogether. There's always room to get better and be YOUR best...which is actually kinda cooler than being THE best.

7) I've learned that sometimes, you just have to push through the pain. Other times you need to back off and listen to your body...but in many cases, it's just a matter of sucking it up. The longer you keep at it--whatever IT might be--the better you become at learning the difference. You can trust yourself to know which is which, and to be smart about the choices you make in your life.

8) I've learned to look around as much as possible, just so I remember why I'm doing this and why it makes me happy. Concentrating on the joy will be helpful when life gets painful or difficult later. I know I'm going to fall. But when I get up (and I will), I'm going to learn how to fix it...and in the end, I'm going to be better for it.

9) I've learned that it will come. It might happen slowly, but it will come. Patience is key to getting through just about anything.

10) I've learned that it's not all about me. Help someone else out whenever you get the chance. Don't be too shy or too nervous to step up. You have something to share, something to teach. If you've struggled with that in the past (I know I certainly have), for whatever reason, take advantage of a future opportunity to make a positive change. That's what second chances are for, when you're lucky enough to get them.

11) I've learned that not everybody is going to like me or care about what I have to say. It's truly one of the hardest lessons to learn, and I spent many adolescent years (okay, and a few adult days) literally in tears over that exact issue. At some point, though, after freaking out over it enough times, you find peace with the fact that some people simply don't care for you. They might find you annoying for some reason. They might think you're weird or crazy. They might not be able to stand you. Sometimes people have a reason for acting this way, but all too often, it's a matter of them just being plain mean. It's okay, though, really. You don't like me? That's fine. I can take it. We live in a society where certain people are constantly being critical and judgmental, almost as if they're pre-conditioned to do so. That's their problem, and nobody else's. On any given day, all you can do is be nice. Feel grateful for those who do love and support you. Besides, life would be boring if everyone just thought you were awesome...and even then, someone would have to dislike you for that reason alone :)

Oh, and for the record, I swear I'm not just speaking empty words right now. From personal experience, I can tell you that it's a huge burden when you worry about these kinds of things, and it feels really, really, REALLY good when you finally give yourself permission to let it go. That's what I started doing (very recently, actually) and I'm a lot happier because of it.

12) I've learned that if you're working hard and trying your best, there WILL be a payoff, even if it takes a long time. Even if it's different from the one you originally planned. When the time comes, you won't mind if the picture isn't the same one you had in mind. You'll be too happy to care, because a part of you is already stronger, and nothing motivates you more than that, especially when it's time to go after the next big goal!

13) I've learned that when everything else fails, and you don't know what else to do, being kind is the answer. There are days when you might feel too weak, too dumb, or too worthless. You may ask yourself why you even bother trying in the first place when things keep going in the wrong direction. But then, when you start to look around, you realize that the world is still going on, and it is so much bigger than all of that. Everyone is dealing with something, even if you can't see it clearly in the moment. We count on each other to be kind, to be respectful, and it truly is one of the most basic good things we can do for another person. Even just a simple "Great job" or "you inspire me" can change someone's entire focus...and maybe even motivate them to pay it forward somehow. I know because there are many people who have done it for me...and hopefully I have been able to do it for others, as well. Too often in life, things happen that we can't change, so it feels good to come across something that we can control absolutely, 100%, every single day. Kindness is one of those things.

14) Most of all, I've learned that saying or writing all these things is good, but at some point, you have to get up and actually live it. Don't be afraid. Ask for help if you need it. Find inspiration from others whenever you can. They're here for you. You have worthwhile things to say and give, so have at it (and remember to smile too)!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sweet Home Chicago Marathon 2013...the Joy and the Memories!

It's been a busy past few weeks (but definitely exciting with the holidays coming up), and now I'm finally getting around to writing about the Chicago Marathon, which took place on October 13. In a lot of ways, it was the same fantastic racing experience that keeps me coming back each time, but it became even more special when I got a very rare PR (personal record)!

Well, okay, it wasn't an official PR, if we're being honest. It was my second best finish time (5:46) out of eight total marathons, but because I haven't hit anywhere near that in two years, it instantly felt like a personal best. A lot of things just came together at the right time to make it possible, and I'm very thankful for the happy memories from that day.

My mom and I stayed over the night before, so I could get up exactly when I wanted to, shower, leave the hotel an hour and a half before the start, and just take my time. No rushing, no stress about getting to the start line. That was really nice. I was one of the first in my corral and could just sit for a while, listening to music and gathering my thoughts. I remember saying a prayer at the start line, but at the same time, I also knew that I was going to need to put in the work. There's actually a parable about two farmers who learned about "preparing for rain" - in other words, offer your prayers up to God, but then use what He gave you to work hard and prepare yourself to have those prayers answered. Sooner or later, you gotta get off your butt and make an effort, no matter how much you wish there was a shortcut somewhere.

There are a lot of excuses that runners tend to come up with during the racing/training, and the longer you use them, the more easily they flow. Maybe you'd recognize some of them, too: I'm not the kind of runner who is lightning fast. I'm not skinny enough. Not trained enough. I don't have a friend to pace me. I have 26 miles to cover and don't want to burn out in the first half of the race. Just focus on finishing and having fun. I already succeeded simply by showing up. Why risk getting injured? I can't say those were all bad reasons to be cautious. As a runner, you have to be responsible. But I also learned that it's okay to push yourself. It's awesome running with others and having friends to help pace you--that's good and important. But if you don't have someone at that particular moment, that particular race, you have to count on yourself more.

I chose to go out of the gate really fast at the beginning, which a lot of coaches advise against completely. For me, though, it worked, because I wanted to get a solid head start while I was still feeling my best. I knew I was going to be sore and tired in the second half, and if I started strong, I could feel less stressed when that point of the race came. I trusted myself to listen to my body and know if/when it was time to stop. Fortunately, on that exact day, and at that moment, it ended up being the right technique to use.

"Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you'll land among the stars." Sound familiar? It's one of my favorite quotes to focus on during difficult times. I knew that beating my all-time PR was a lot to ask for, especially since I hadn't done anything under 6 hours in over a year. But I started there and figured, well, if that doesn't work out, then there's still plenty of room to at least achieve one of my better finish times. Around mile 17, I knew I wasn't going to make it in 5:28, but at 22, I knew I could definitely get under 6 hours...even 5:45 looked like a strong possibility! Knowing that really pushed me through those last miles and was motivating.

I still played it safe in a lot of ways. I stopped for the bathroom once, walked through the water stops (which I counted on as a "break" to slow down and refocus before picking up the pace again). 5:46 isn't a super-fast finish time, but it's definitely a good starting point. It's the best I have done in a very long time, and I did it on my own, without being paced. It was a good confidence booster too, just knowing that I could do it. So much of this sport is mental. Not all of it, but you can pull yourself out of a rut by setting a new goal and following through with it. I've loved racing over this past year, but it did feel like something was there was potential to do better if I really just sucked it up and went for it. The mind can help us achieve a lot of awesome things.

That, and preparing properly. I'm the kind of person who gets really involved in a specific workout and doesn't like to switch it up a lot. But the week before Chicago, I started Tae-Bo again, and I absolutely think that helped me get faster in a short amount of time. It's a full-body workout, and the instructor (Billy Blanks) is incredible. He's talented for sure, but even more than that, he's a positive person. He wants you to reach all your goals in life, not so you can be "the best," but so you can feel happy, healthy and confident in who you are. Makes me think about how much more I could accomplish if I cross trained a little more. If seven days can make such an impact, that tells you something.

Also, the Chicago Marathon course happens to be very flat, which really made a difference. I've battled some hills in recent races, so compared to a course like this, I felt like I could move a lot faster. Then there's that amazing crowd support. 1.5 million spectators! There wasn't an empty spot the entire way. Some areas were less active, like around the United Center, but there were always people cheering. Adults, kids, pets, etc... And with 45,000 runners, the course itself was never empty either. At Fox Valley three weeks ago, I remember being alone for several miles, except maybe for two or three people at the most. Sometimes it was literally just me and the pavement. Small town races have their own strengths and advantages, but Chicago really is my favorite for this reason. Ultimately, I do prefer the huge crowds, the activity, and the excitement, because it drives me to the finish line like nothing else. Everyone is different, though, and I definitely believe you should experience both dynamics.

I am so lucky to have found the new friends that I have through running. They are all better than me--literally every single one of them--and I don't say that out of self-pity. It's a good thing! I like it that way because it motivates me. Their accomplishments inspire me to be better. Everyone you meet has specific skills or knowledge that you don't, and it's great to learn from them. You find a lot of love and support in fellow runners. They know what it's like to push through something difficult because the payoff is so incredible. They understand what it means to be in total pain and still love it at the same time. I admire people who take on new challenges and develop a passion for things that once felt impossible.

And just in case I haven't said it enough, this blog isn't all about running. It never was supposed to be. I write down these things as a way to remember all the races I've participated in, so I can one day look back on what helped me become a healthier, happier person. It might all seem mostly boring to others, but if you are reading, I hope you are also going after the goals that make you better. Not every day will be a PR, but if you're doing your best, taking it all in as you go, and enjoying the experiences with others, then every single day is worth it!

It's true. Just ask this woman, Rita Jeptoo, who was the female winner with a record-breaking finish time of 2:19:57 (good Lord, can you imagine your feet moving that fast?) What I love about her is the way she looked so absolutely excited and happy as she crossed that finish line. The finish times that the Kenyans post are unbelievable--it's so hard to imagine that the human body can do what they do--but in the end, it's not "easier" for them just because they're faster. This woman didn't just blaze through 26.2 miles, then act like it was nothing.

This picture is a little blurry, but look at the expression on her face. It's the same joy you might see in the eyes of a first-time marathoner who crosses the final mat in six, seven, eight hours. When we see what the Kenyans are able to achieve at a marathon, it's sometimes easy to forget that they're people too, toughing it out and making sacrifices so they can have that moment of celebration. It's a cool thing to think about, knowing that you share these same emotions with others, even if their accomplishments seem so much greater in certain ways.

Well, ultimately, Rita's words after finishing were "The race was very, very nice. Weather was good. Today I am I was with my friends."

Being with friends and being happy with what you're given...what else is there in life, really? That sounds pretty perfect to me too!

Have a great day, everyone :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Never Perfect, But Always Moving Forward...

Wow, it's been a long time...yet again! That's the thing about blogging. Writing has always been the easiest and most natural way for me to express myself, but as much as I love it, reaching the point mentally to type it all out is a whole other story, especially when work and life get in the way. Somehow, though, I don't think anyone out there was holding their breath waiting for a new blog post from Rosie Krajewski, so it's all good!

That said, I do appreciate those of you who have started following me ever since my friend Bonnie asked me to do a guest post on her blog. I met Bonnie in college, at the Catholic Newman Center, and she is truly one of the most incredible moms/Catholics/people I have the privilege of knowing. She is amazing and strong in her faith, but she also happens to be really funny. She inspires me every day! So, on that note, I am going to return the favor and recommend that you visit her blog too! (

Lately, I have been struggling with a few different things. For starters, maintaining this weight loss continues to be a daily battle. Preventing myself from losing control is always on my mind, which is a good thing, but whenever I start to really obsess over it, I try to remember how far I've come, and what I looked like four years ago. Mmm, yeah...not so great, but at least I found a way to use my dog to hide those couple of extra chins on my face. That counts for something, right?

This is when I was at the peak of my weight loss, the night I reached Lifetime at Weight Watchers.

And this is me now.

That last picture was taken about two weeks ago, at our annual Bears tailgating party. I feel fortunate to have kept off most of the pounds, but yes, I have put on a little bit of weight. It's something that I can't afford to get too casual about, because once you give yourself permission to really let go, things can fall apart before you even start to fully realize what's happening. I've been there in the past...but I'm determined not to make that same mistake now.

Weight loss is hard. Maintenance can be even harder. The struggle never goes away. As long as there are pizzas, ice cream sundaes, and Taco Bells in this world, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is going to be a challenge. Sometimes I wish I could be like those Biggest Loser winners who claim that they've "cleansed their bodies" from fast food and all other junk, to the point where they no longer even desire it, and they actually crave fruit instead. I guess when you've achieved fame by losing tons of weight on a television show, and millions of people are looking to you, there is pressure to set a good example. For most of us, though, those comfort foods continue to have a role in our lives, and if we can't eliminate them completely, the least we can do is find a way to live with them.

It's hard for all of us. Really, it is. It's not like when we were kids and could snack on Oreos after school, then burn them off on the swing set without thinking twice. (Those days were fun, weren't they?) The good news is that you can make a choice NOW. A choice that the hundredth potato chip you just ate will officially be your last one for the night, or that you'll skip dessert this time because you're working to get your weight back on track. It's easier said than done, but it's those small decisions along the way that make a difference when you start putting them together.

I'm not perfect. I have bad days. I tend to make poor choices when it comes to food, but there are other times when I make good ones, and again, even when they seem small, I think they add up in the long run...and those good days have prevented me from gaining all the weight back. Well, that and the fact that my mom has promised to kick my butt (in a loving motherly way, of course) if I ever go back to that toxic former life! You're never too far from a support system when you stop and look around!

Then there's the running. Oh, the running. I still love it...a lot...enough to spend money I don't have on registration fees, cute running apparel, and obnoxiously colorful shoes. Right now, my weight isn't exactly where I want it to be, so during a recent run, it felt like I had a big sack of potatoes attached to my ass. It makes the overall jogging experience a little less pleasant when you can literally feel those few extra pounds slowing you down. That's one of the biggest reasons I decided to step back from the running this week and dig out my Tae Bo workout videos. I bought them as a teenager and haven't touched them since high school, but back when I was a senior, that Advanced Tae-Bo Workout helped me lose 50 pounds in a year (which I gained back pretty quickly, but that's a whole other boring story). I always loved it, and when I got back into it this past Sunday, it felt awesome. I noticed a physical difference in just two days, and my mom says she did too. It felt good to try something different, especially after concentrating so much on running over the past few years. I guess the moral of that story is that switching up your routine as much as possible is always a good idea. When you start feeling like you're going in circles around one specific type of exercise, it is that much easier to get bored and start doubting your overall abilities.

Which brings me to another issue I've been struggling with mentally these days. I ran the Fox Valley Marathon a few weeks ago and am looking forward to my third Chicago Marathon this Sunday. I ran my very first marathon in 5:28 (with my sister there to pace me) and hovered under the 6-hour mark for a few marathons after that, but now the goal is to get as close to 6 hours as possible. On the way home from Fox Valley, my mom asked me about my time, and after a long pause, I said "About six hours. Let's just generalize it that way." It was just vague enough to be true, and it felt better than giving out the actual clock time.

My work schedule has prevented me from training the way I know I should, and yet I take any possible opportunity to sign up for a race. I can't help it. I just love them so much. I love the positive energy, the race day excitement, the whole deal....but I know I haven't been training to be anywhere near a competitive level. While thinking of a good way to describe it, I determined that it's kind of like having a job. It's like being a teacher and throwing together a lesson plan, knowing that it could benefit from more time, but it's good enough. It will do. You'll devote more to it next time, and who knows? This one just might turn out okay, and you will have done all that worrying for nothing.

Then you get to work. The lesson isn't completely successful. The day drags. You make it through somehow, but your students aren't connecting with what you're teaching and, as a result, start getting bored/acting out. You're exhausted by the end of the day because you actually made your job even more difficult by coming underprepared.

That's sort of how it feels when you continue participating in races without a strict training plan, and you keep finishing much slower than what you hoped. You can get away with "winging it" for a while, but if your mind keeps saying you can do better, then listening to it is the way to find peace.

Don't get me wrong. I will probably always be a slower runner, and I'm okay with that. I dream about Boston as much as any other runner, but I don't necessarily need to be a 3:30 marathon runner. Can I be better, though? Of course. At this point, finishing in 5 hours--heck, even 5 and a half--would feel like a dream come true. I know I can accept help from some of the many strong, amazing runners that I know, find ways to learn from them, and improve as a runner....if I'm ready for the hard work that comes with it.

Granted, there is a heck of a lot more to life than running. Hobbies are truly the tiniest, most insignificant part of life when you compare them to everything else that's out there. Deep down, I think we all know that, but trying harder and improving ourselves? That's never a waste of time when it can make us better in other areas of life. If it motivates us to be more productive at work, or to give more to the people in our lives, then what could possibly be negative about that?

It just bothers me when slower runners are criticized so much. Personally, I have amazing friends and family who have been nothing but supportive. I am so grateful for their sincere kindness and love, but it's hard not to let the outside world get in your head. When you Google "slow runners are ruining the sport" and get quotes like this, of course it has an impact:

"It's a joke to run a marathon by finishing in six, seven, eight hours."

"Slow runners have disrespected the distance."

"If you're wearing a marathon T-shirt, that doesn't mean much anymore. I always ask these people, what was your time? If it's six hours or more, I say oh, great, that's fine, but you didn't really run it."
But then I see quotes like this, which are so much nicer and more encouraging:

"[A person who criticizes my slow time] is either a running snob and isn't supportive, or has no idea what it takes to complete a 26.2 mile course. They don't get to lessen my accomplishment."

"The majority of the time, [being slow] doesn't bother me. Other times it does, but never so much that I'll stop running."

"If you need some inspiration in your running, go to a race and wait for the runners finishing at the back of the pack. You will see some of the greatest DON'T QUIT attitudes that you will ever see."

It might sound like my thoughts are all over the place, and it's true--they are. I guess that's what happens when you overthink things and get yourself all worked up over negative opinions that just don't matter. Trying to conform to someone else's idea of "successful" wears you out after a while. That doesn't mean we aren't all guilty of it at some point or another, but's exhausting.

It makes me think a lot about whether or not I have the potential to be a faster runner, and if it's worth pursuing. If it is something I want to do, then that's fine, but it can't be because someone else thinks I should. Of course, you can be motivated by others to improve yourself--that's different. It's good to look at how others have succeeded and feel that inspiration to be better. The thing is, when you're focused on a goal that's important to you, the only way it can possibly work the way it's supposed to is if you do it for yourself, period. The same applies to everyone. Being who you are and taking pride in what you've accomplished is what matters, especially when it's contributing to your overall health, happiness, and the way you treat others. If I ever get to the point where I'm turning in a quicker marathon time, it won't be because somebody else made fun of me for being slow, or because they think I'm not good enough. It will be because I can think for myself, and make a decision that I want to make. There are so many things in life that we have no control over, but not when it comes to things like this.

It's an easy thing to write, and one of the absolute hardest pieces of advice to follow, but I'm trying, and I think others should too. You deserve to feel good about yourself and what you can do. For me, it happens to be running, but there are millions of people in this world, and just as many different ways to take your life in a positive direction. Whatever it is, just find it, grab it, and allow it to bring out your very best!

I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend! Get out there, enjoy some time away from your busy schedule, and have fun! It's as good a weekend as any to just be happy! :)

I'll close with this random picture that a friend of mine posted on Facebook, because if this doesn't make you smile, then I'm not sure what will!

Gosh, I hate when that happens...don't you??

Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Shuffling On" to a Happy, Healthy Future!

Happy Easter!! I can't believe it's been over a year since I last posted on here. I really enjoyed keeping up with it when I first started, but then I got away from it for a while. Since then, my passion for running has remained the same--I've completed five full marathons, eleven half marathons, two 15Ks, and 8 5Ks since starting this journey about 19 months ago--but a lot of other things have changed. For starters, I was offered new job as a kindergarten aide last September, which increased my work hours, and two weeks ago, I began a new job as a preschool teacher for the Elmhurst Park District. It is so exciting to have this opportunity and finally be working as a teacher, but again, it has drastically changed the way I work out on a daily basis. Before this academic year, I had the freedom to be at the gym for six hours in the middle of the day, which is how I was able to focus on losing those 150 pounds, but obviously, that's not an attainable lifestyle for the long term. I always knew it was coming, and that was actually the whole reason I started this blog in the first place--to talk about the challenges of balancing healthy diet/exercise habits with all the other life responsibilities that everyone has.
It's still a daily struggle to maintain my weight. The battles I encountered at 337 pounds are still very much a part of my life today. Realistically, I always knew that those struggles wouldn't go away completely. It's something we all have to work through. It might seem a little easier for someone else when you're looking at it from your own perspective, but generally speaking, that's what life is, and LIFE is something that we all have in front of us right now. The battle I'm fighting might be different from yours, but that doesn't make it any more or less challenging. It's all just part of what we must face as we make the decision to keep working and moving forward.

Yesterday, I ran the Egg Shell Shuffle Half Marathon in Elk Grove Village--my first race in over two months--and I knew that it would be a little more difficult, since I haven't devoted the same amount of time to training. I quickly fell behind and was actually dead last before even reaching mile 2! That was frustrating at first, but then I realized... I could be disappointed that I wasn't running as well as others, or proud that I had gotten up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning to go run 13 miles. I could obsess over where I was in relation to everyone else on the course, or I could smile and enjoy taking part in this race on such a beautiful, sunny spring day. I could lament over being slow, or be grateful that my body is healthy enough to run today. I've known runners with injuries and surgeries that have halted or even ended their running careers. I have no idea if I will be in that same position someday. Maybe so, but not today. Today, I can run, and anyone who's been blessed with that kind of gift shouldn't complain that they're not fast enough. Truth be told, I haven't always taken my own advice in that regard, but it's something I try to remind myself of when I start getting too worked up about my finish time.

There weren't many participants in yesterday's race, at least compared to others that I've done, so it got pretty quiet on the course, giving me time to think about why I even choose to do this with my free time. I love to run races because of the excitement that builds at the start line, the camaraderie you feel with your fellow runners on the course, the pride you feel the entire evening afterward, even when you're limping around like an 80-year-old woman....and the medals. Yes, the medals. Think I'm kidding? Actually, I'm not...I love the bling, and it's one of the top reasons I love racing. I love having it around my neck the entire day after earning it, wearing it to bed for the night, then hanging it with the others the next morning as a tangible reminder of what I accomplished. It's a material item, and as such, it is not the most important thing in the world, but it makes me happy.

So yes, that's the reason why I sign up for marathons, half marathons, 5K's, etc... The reasons why I run in general are a little different. It's because I know that I am committing to something that's challenging and succeeding at it. I am accomplishing something that takes a lot of time, self-discipline, and dedication. And if I can do that, then I can be successful at my job. I can deal with situations and people in everyday life that might not always be ideal. I can be happy. I wish everyone could have something like this in their lives that makes them feel this way. Lord knows it doesn't necessarily have to be running--it just has to be something that motivates you enough to do BE better.

My high school friend Amanda ran her very first 5K yesterday (the Egg Shell Shuffle offered both a 5K and half marathon options) with her husband Andy (both pictured above). They've lost about 40 pounds each (and counting!) on Weight Watchers and have found joy in running...and not just that, but running TOGETHER. That's what it's all about. That's the beauty of running. All different kinds of people can discipline themselves, train their bodies, and prepare their minds to run. You just have to want it. Then you have to go out there and do it. I was a far cry from the skinny, physically fit, long-legged teenagers in high school who ran cross country and track, and who breezed through gym class because it came naturally to them...and yet today, at age 28, my body can run 26.2 miles. I may finish two, three, or even four hours behind those same high schoolers I was talking about before, but does it really matter all that much? If it gets you out in the fresh air, makes you happy, helps you control your weight and gives you a sense of doing something positive in your life, then what else could you possibly want? I guess we all naturally want to be just a little bit better and a little bit stronger, but sometimes, if you stop and look, what you were hoping for all along is already there.

Can you tell I got a pep talk from my mom yesterday? Yep...that's why she's one of my best friends!

I hope everyone had a nice Easter. Time to get back to work tomorrow...eeeeeeeek!