Friday, April 20, 2012

The Best Part of My Week

I'm a pretty lucky person.  I don't know a lot of things, but that's one thing I am absolutely, positively confident about.  I lead a charmed life, filled with loving, wonderful, intelligent people.  I've never had to go without something I needed.  I've been given (and worked my toosh off for) an excellent education.  I am healthy.  I have everything.


I imagine most of the folks who read this blog (all 5 of your wonderful selves), like me, live in a world that is filled with opportunity.  For a long time, I thought everyone saw the world this way: full of potential, available to everyone.


Boy was I wrong.


For lots of people, opportunity doesn't exist.  The world is harsh, full of predators, and it's going to chew you up and spit you out. Whether its because of the conditions of the environment, challenges at home, or an internal battle, not everyone lives in a world with potential.


This is heartbreaking.


I think everyone deserves to feel like tomorrow can be a better day.  Everyone deserves to feel like they can change direction and believe that things can be better or different.  That's why I am so lucky to be involved with Back on My Feet.

BoMF is a "national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to creating independence and self-sufficiency within the homeless and other underserved populations by first engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem."  

They let me run, three days a week, with an incredible team of runners.  Some of my teammates are residents at a local shelter, some of my teammates are runners from the neighborhood.  We get up at an ungodly hour, start our warmups before the sun is up, and it is the most awesome thing I've done in years.  I look forward to waking up at 4:30am to run with this team.  

Some of the individuals I run with, didn't feel like the world held a lot of opportunity.  BoMF literally gets folks back on their feet and into a supportive community of runners.  There's a lot more to it, but the team running alone has already inspired me and some of my fellow runners into believing that one day at a time, with one foot in front of the other, we can move forward into a future full of opportunity for everyone.  There are second, third and fourth chances for all of us.  Even if you weren't lucky enough to be brought into the world in a perfect bubble like mine, you can have a bright future.

I am so grateful to BoMF.  They're not solving all the problems of the world.  They're giving individuals an opportunity to see what's possible.  They're empowering individuals to set goals and reach them.   That's pretty powerful stuff.  

Thank you BoMF, and thank you to my fellow runners, for making the 5:30-6:30am hours the best of my week. 

To learn more about Back on My Feet (or to make a donation!), visit http://www.backonmyfeet.org/.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Accidental PR

You know that race I thought I was unprepared for?  I SET A NEW PR! A significant one for me, too.  I've wanted to run a 10K in under 50 minutes for awhile now, but I wasn't sure if I could.  Well check me out you guys, because apparently I got faster!



To be honest with you, this is the first race I ever let myself really push from start to finish.  I tend to adopt a cautious pace until I'm mile from the finish, because I'm afraid I'll burn out. On Saturday, however, the weather was perfect, I had no expectations for myself, and I figured if I burnt out it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

I ran without a watch, didn't check the time clock when I crossed the start, and just went for it.  I knew there were a handful of hills (Central Park can be a beast), so I made sure I wasn't wearing myself out right before each of them, but otherwise I just ran.  I kept repeating the phrase "keep following your feet, keep following your feet."  In a lot of ways this race was completely about me listening to my body and turning off my brain.  It went like this,

Brain: This is kind of hard.  We should probably slow down a little bit.  I'm afraid you're going to wear out.

Body: I got this.  Take an hour off and just follow the feet.

Brain: .......

It was actually pretty great.  After the race I literally got a water, did a U-turn and got on the subway since I had to shower before my family came in to sight see for the day.  I knew I had just run a great race, but I didn't think about my time; I was feeling good and I just went about my day.  Imagine my thrill when I checked the race results yesterday and found that I shaved almost 3 minutes off my best time!

The whole thing has me wondering what I can accomplish if I really go balls to wall.  Could I run a sub-2 half?  Can I shave 20 minutes off of my marathon time? Run an ultra (.....ummmm stop.)?  Ok, so some goals might be more realistic than others, but it's cool to think that I'm improving as a runner, even though I'll probably never win a race.

What are some of your fitness goals?  Do you prefer to strive to do your best instead of setting benchmarks?