Sunday, November 6, 2011

Finish lines, tears, the glory is mine. Week 19

Dear Mia and Elin,

Nineteen weeks ago I began a journey. A journey to rediscover who I am, who I want to be, a journey that involved pushing myself physically and mentally to the brink, a journey that taught me volumes. Yesterday I started and FINISHED my first marathon, 26.2 miles. I am sure when you get older you will roll your eyes and say "Blah, blah, mom you ran a marathon. I get it." It will be a story I will pull from throughout your life that will no doubt become one of those annoying mommy moments, but someday I hope you will read these words and be able to learn something amazing about yourself.

Nineteen weeks ago my biggest fear for you two was that you would become just like me. Today I as I held my medal and reflected on my run I wanted nothing more than my biggest fear to come to fruition.

My hope for you is that in life you will stumble because getting back up takes courage and strength. Although I want some things to come to you naturally (preferably math and science) having to WORK for something makes the "grade" so much sweeter. It will be hard to watch, but I want your hearts to be broken so you will know the difference when you meet your true love. I want you to fail, so success will be sweet. My hope for you is as you struggle and suffer through life's twists and turns you will reach to me, just like I reached to Mimi, but I also want you to be independent. As much as it kills me I know some of these lessons must be learned on your own. As hard as it will be for me to be on the sidelines know that your mom is watching. Know that I am cheering you on. Know that I have walked a similar mile and when you are ready I am here to carry you to whatever finish line you are trying to cross or obstacle you must overcome. I ran this race to show you people can change not realizing I already had.

I am not perfect, and I will make mistakes. I am sure I will "scar" you for life, but someday I hope you read my words and see me not just as your mother but a woman with a dream. With the love from my family, friends, hard work, blood, sweat, a LOT of sweat, and many tears it came true. I overcame myself and my fears. I put in the time and the 26.2 medal is mine. You two may never run a marathon, but someday I hope you will know what it feels like to achieve the impossible. Whatever your "impossible" is your dad and I will be there with signs and cow bells!!! I love you sweet girls. The only thing that stands in the way of your dreams is YOU!!!

Loving you Big,



This week was pretty amazing. I had three short runs, but only did two. I was so tired that I figured sleep was more important than a 4 miler mid week. I fueled up on carbs and H20 and headed to Savannah. Friday night I slept (as much as a child sleeps on Christmas Eve) and woke up at 4:15 to join the masses at the Inaugural Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon.

My brother in law and my one of bests were embarking out on their marathon journey's as well. We carpooled to the shuttles and race prepped together. As my corral approached the start line I teared up. "This is REALLY happening!!!!!" I was in the 20th wave, but as my feet pounded out it I felt like I was the first. I knew to start slow, but my adrenaline was pumping.

The next thing I knew I was at mile 5. Fifty five minutes later mile 5. I was shocked. 5 miles takes me 1:05. I knew I needed to slow down, but I felt great. So I kept on. Mile 10 my bladder took over. I was tempted to pee in the woods, but found a port o potty with no line. I let go off precious hydration and ran on. The next thing I knew it was time to split. The 1/2 marathoners went right and I went left. 13.1 two hours and twenty four minutes later. I couldn't believe what was happening. I ran harder. I ran faster. The next thing I knew mile 18, three hours and fifteen minutes later. The Spartan Sister told me months ago "The race begins at mile 20". Three hours and thirty two minutes later my "race" began. Miles 21-23 were the HARDEST STEPS I HAVE EVER TAKEN!!!!! I wanted to walk, but I had come so far I couldn't quit now. I pulled from my reservoir of support. "Katie is a fighter". "You are OUR champion". "Trust your training". I began to sing. "That's the night when the lights out in GEORGIA!!!!" The next thing my tired sweaty eyes saw were the numbers 23. A mere 3.2 miles stood in my way. I climbed over the wall and soared into my second wind.

Miles 23 & 24 whizzed by. As I approached mile 25 I looked to my left and my heart leaped. I saw 4 very familiar faces. My eyes burst into tears and my feet got faster. Miss Independence, Spartan Sister, SS's hubs Robo Cop, and Robo Cop's Mama, were there with cow bells and signs screaming and cheering for me. My hand went over my mouth and my tears burned as they rolled down my cheeks. "I am KILLING this!!!" I screamed as I approached mile 26.

As I approached the final corral I searched. Where are they??Where are they?? And then I saw it. A large caring hand waving at me. A face beaming beaming with pride holding our sleeping toddler in his arms. Tears. I saw my Dad. More tears. 4:33.46 I crossed the finish line. The Race Crew draped my medal around my neck an hour faster than anyone, including myself ever expected or imagined.

The rest is a blur. I hugged my mom, my hubs, and my dad. "I am so proud of you", he said as four big crocodile tears fell down his face. I made my over to the sidewalk and kissed my sleeping children. I saw my niece Baby R (not really a baby any more considering she's 7) with what I thought was an illusion. The Scholar Sister appeared to be holding her hand. Was I delirious? The Scholar lives in TX???? No. I wasn't dehydrated she was there in the flesh. My ENTIRE family was there!!!!!!!!!!!! Sobbed. Blubbery mess in her arms.

I learned two things that day. One being I may need to invest in a Garmin. My GPS tracker may have been off a bit. Robo Cop kept accusing me of being a sandbagger!!!! I then shut him up with my tracks of my runs!!!! My neighbor stopped me tonight and said "I have seen you run. You looked liked a 5:30. Amazing." Besides investing $$ in a new gadget I learned that inside me there was a champion. The little girl who used to run races with her dad was still alive inside of me. As the race progressed and I realized I wasn't going to crash it occurred to me that she was inside all a long. I was too scared to let her out. I was afraid of failing, falling, staying comfortable was easier, but taking the risk and pushing my limitations paid off in a BIG way!!!!!!!!! I not only finished my marathon, but I finished in 4:33.46. Over an hour faster than anyone, ESPECIALLY me had planned.

It's hard to believe that it's over, well not that hard considering I can hardly move an inch. What an amazing ride, with such a sweet, sweet ending. I am grateful the good Lord blessed me with a body capable of "killing it", a family who supported "it", and a journey that lead me not only to the finish line, but to depths of myself I would have never found. The journey to 26.2 has taught me so much about myself, my life, and my direction.

I am not going to quit running. J Man's Mama (Baby M's "boyfriend"s mama) won't let me. But I am taking a week or so off!!! I am planning on the Hilton Head Half Marathon in Feb. So this journey, the journey of me, the stay at home, marathon mama continues.

May your journeys be fruitful, full of love, and fast feet.

Week 19: 32.2 Miles
Lesson learned: We all have a champion hidden inside.

                                              Me and my fellow marathon Champions!!!

                                                My husband, my medal, and ME!!!

                                                    My girls. The best Trophies EVER!!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2 days and a wake up away...Weeks 17&18

18 weeks ago I began a journey. A journey to 26.2 miles. In 2 more days and a wake up I will lace up my shoes and pound the pavement. I have been pounding pavement for 18 weeks, but this time there is a finish line....a finish line.

The last two weeks I have tapered my runs. It's kinda funny when my husband asked me week 17 "How long is your long run this week?" When I replied "12" he said, "Oh. That's nothing." 18 weeks ago 12 miles seemed daunting, impossible, and just last week it was "nothing".

So here I sit. I am not even sure what to say. I have been terrified of an injury. My left knee has been bothering me a bit. During my 12 miler last week I shorted it to 10. It wasn't anything major, but I figured why risk it?? Tonight I was supposed to run 4, but I am so tired. At this point I think rest is more important than 4. Tomorrow I will run my last 3 before the gun goes off Saturday morning.

So here I sit, laptop in bed writing my last entry into my journal before I run a marathon, a marathon. It's kinda funny. 6 years ago I sat in my office (I was a property manager at one point. Quit--go figure:). I looked over at my friend Robb and said, "I am going to run a marathon". I found one too. It was the NYC marathon, and it happened to fall on my birthday. Needless to say, that never happened. On my 27th bday I marathoned it all right, all night in a smokey bar. Tonight I text my friend and said "It's not the NYC, but it's a marathon on my birthday!"

So here I sit, hydrating and carb loading, typing, sipping water, and crunching my apple. I have done all I can. I have put in the time, the miles, the TIME, and the MILES. I can only hope my body and my mind allow me to complete this task. At my current pace I am looking to finish anywhere between 5:45 and 6:00 hrs, it's not record setting by the world's standards, but it is by mine.

So here I sit, nervous, excited, scared, and proud. I am nervous because it's the toughest thing I have ever done, minus delivering a 9lb 15oz baby with no drugs. I am excited because what a feeling!!! I can't wait to run the 1st and the last mile of this race, now the other 24.2....well??? I am scared that the 89.9% I have put into this wasn't enough. I say 89% b/c I know my "A" game and I made some choices during my training to suit me, not my marathon. But what's a marathon medal without a life to go with it?? I am proud because for the last few weeks as I hit mile 2 in a long or a short run I cried, this is really going to happen. I have talked the talk and walked the walk, I made excuses, but I kept going. I didn't stop training when I realized I was SLOW!! I got out of bed at 4:30 am to beat the summer heat. I didn't quit on my marathon, and I didn't quit on me. For that I am proud.

So here I sit, 17lbs lighter. This morning's scale said 138.4, a far cry from the 155 just 18 weeks ago. I can run a single mile in under 11 minutes without puking (almost). 18 weeks ago I told my sister I wanted to lose 10lbs and be able to run an 11 minute mile. I now have done both. (Now, that 11 minute mile is not consistent, but it can happen!!!!!) As the pounds came off my confidence returned. I began to feel better about myself, not just because I shed a few pounds, but the commitment I made that put me back in pre-baby jeans!!!

So here I sit, grateful, grateful for my family, my friends, and everyone who has supported me on this journey. This week I have received cards, a package, emails, and texts all wishing me luck and sending me love. To top that off we celebrated Baby E's first year on this sweet earth!! I am a wife, a mother, and friend who is blessed beyond words. This race is small potatoes when you compare it to the greatness that surrounds me daily. This isn't my race. I wish I could own it, but I couldn't do it without each one of you.

So here I sit, two days away from my 33rd birthday, two days away from the Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon.

So here I sit, ready to run.

Weeks 17&18: 35 miles
Lesson learned: Believing you can do something doesn't get it done. Doing it will.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When my mate met my soul, I could fly. Weeks 15&16

On the heels of my 20 miler week 15 started out pretty well. My confidence was booming, so booming I scraped my long long run to play with friends. I did squeeze in 2 short runs, but I axed my long run for a good time with an old college friend and his beautiful baby girl. Translation: I wanted to have FUN. I didn't want to RUN. Not the best approach to have when you are 5 weeks out and building up to a long run of 23 the following week.

So once I again I amped up my game the following week. Anybody else see a pattern here??? Week 16 was full it's own obstacles and hang ups, but these were definitely not FUN. The J crew started the week with Baby M excreting everything she ate from both ends of her tiny little body. She was knocked out on the couch all day Monday, which isn't always a bad thing, got a lot done, but at the expense of my sweet kid suffering. The rest of the week she slowly rebounded. I deloused the house with my fingers crossed that another J wouldn't fall victim to the bug. Our tummies were sparred, but Baby E apparently wanted some attention too. One minute we had a happy smiley baby, the next she was slumped in her highchair with a 103 fever!!! The fever lasted nearly 4 days. Blood work, urine samples, and three VERY long nights later her viral invasion was defeated by her tiny but tough immune system. We were all weak. We were all tired, but we were grateful that everyone was on the mend. Mommy and Daddy have managed to evade both sets of germs at this point, and despite the long week I managed to get in every mile.

During my first short run of the week I started off huffing. I mean I run a 13+ minute mile, but that night the wind was beneath me and I was rocking and rolling. I was running a "fast" 11 minute pace. I felt on fire. I was only doing a 5K, so I knew it wouldn't last long, so I kept pushing. During my last mile I was tired. I had almost thrown up, not once but twice. Anybody who has had a baby can tell you that sometimes when you cough, sneeze, laugh really hard, jump, well sometimes your bladder sends you a little reminder that you have given birth and leaves a little Hallmark greeting, ya pee a little. Not a lot, just enough for you to be reminded of the fact that you and your body will never be the same, so one can imagine what this is like after 2 back to back babies. As I gagged and held tightly to my dinner my bladder emailed me my Hallmark reminder. I ran on. A little pee, a lot of sweat, what's the difference?

I almost walked the last part of mile 3, but I yelled at myself "Push McGonnell PUSH". McGonnell is my maiden name. I started to pick it up, but as I ran I realized that I am a Jasionowski. I have always been spunky. I have always been fun. I have always been driven, just not accomplished until I met a boy in a blue polo and khaki pants. My life changed in that instant. Our courtship was quick. We were engaged within 6 months of meeting and married a year later. In those first 6 months I began my first "real" job. I was a manager with Ruby Tuesday pulling in great money for a 24yr old. I went from being a flighty 20 something to a grown up in almost an instant. Our first year of marriage was tough. I blamed him of course, but when you took a good at it it was me. I didn't like where I was in life. I didn't like who I was. It was me. I wanted more, not in my spouse, but in myself. After I started and stopped 3 careers in a years time I decided to go back to school. SJ was very familiar with the quitter in me and he looked at me and said "You have to do this". Two and half years later I did, nearly with honors. My college degree was so important to me for a long time I thought it was what filled me, what changed me, but during that run I realized how wrong I was.

In the last 7 years all of my dreams have come true. I am wife, a mother, a college grad, a loyal friend, I have a resume that will open doors for me when I return to work, I have it all. I love the spotlight and I manage to squeeze myself into whenever I can, but honestly I don't deserve it. My wonderful husband does. Some how the two of us together make magic. We don't have a love story worthy of Hollywood credits, but we have a way of making each other better. I say we, but I mean HE (just another attempt at sharing the spotlight). HE puts my needs above his own. He puts our children above that. He is an amazing man, that without him I don't know who I would be and honestly I don't think I want to. He has sat at home caring for our children as I have run over 300 miles during this training. He doesn't "get" running for 26.2, but he understands and supports my need. He always has. He always will. I became great when I married the best thing about me, my Jasionowski.

From here on out it's cake. 12, 8, RACE!!!! My 23 miler was exhausting, but I did it. I didn't cry this time. I am saving the energy for the finish line. I am ready to run.

Lesson Learned: My husband isn't my best friend-He is my everything.

Monday, October 3, 2011

You can run but Mommy guilt will find you....Weeks 13&14

Well, I wish I could say that weeks 13 and 14 were full of some inspiring events, but alas that was not the case. Week 13 started off with a blow, to my ego.

I have been pretty pumped that I have lost 8 pounds during this training process. At my last thyroid check (I am one of the lucky ladies with hypothyroidism), 4 months after giving birth, I asked my MD what my weight was my previous visit. He said, "147.8". I was pretty pumped because that was 2008 and my weight was the same in 2011 post both babies. Feeling pretty good, until the kind sir, who he himself had recently dropped half a person, said "Wanna know what you weighed when you FIRST came to me?" Before I could even interject an "Ahhh, NO!!" He drops three little words, "135". Thanks buddy. Way to make a post partum mom feel great about herself.

So when I went for my 6 month follow up I was pumped. I was ready to show this sucker my numbers. I was ready for him to say "Well, well, nice job. Training for a marathon??" I weighed in pretty stoked to see his reaction as he read my chart. The Doc rolls and in and I am waiting for it. Sweet redemption heading my way....

Now if you have been following blog from it's inception you may notice some numerical inconsistencies. I waited. Nothing. No great job? No good work? No looking good? I was heading to get blood work when I asked, "Just wondering, how much did I weigh the last time I was here?" Here it comes, vindication..."Ah, let's see 147.8. Same as today." The super ego I walked in with quickly deflated. I realized that after I left that first appointment 6 mths earlier I put ON 8 pounds!!!! My 155 starting weight had nothing to do with my 2 children, just me. Just me on my couch eating cheese puffs and ice cream. Now I have subsequently lost them, so I am indeed proud and excited, don't get me wrong--- but man my pride was leveled.

I bruised my knee up in VA, so I took it easy on the short runs. Translation: I was lazy and the couch and new TV seemed way more appealing, my bruise was the perfect reason<excuse> to keep me planted. I did manage to do 4. My long run for the week was a biggie, 16 miles. Despite my lack of effort during the week my long run went pretty well. I was slow. It was hot, but I finished. I sport two Nike GPS' while I run and the mileage conflicted. One said 15.5. The other 17. Somewhere in there I did 16.

Week 14 started off on the coat tails of a long unmotivated week, but I know that this is crunch time. I had to quit defeating myself. I was ready for week 14. My children however, my checkbook, and my own self pity decided to stand in my way.

When you are pregnant Dr's, friends, and other mothers prepare you for an emotional toll every mother feels. Every working mother experiences it. That first time you drop your child with another as you return to work you become overwhelmed with..."Mommy Guilt". How can you leave your most precious commodity with another? How can you abandon your sweet bundle? Or worse, you secretly find relief in your time apart?? Mommy guilt. It's real and it's a bitch. It's terrible to be on either side of the MG coin. Your heart breaks when you hear from a caretaker that your baby smiled for the first time and you missed it. Your heart breaks that you enjoy slipping out from work early to get a pedicure instead of picking up your wee one early. Mommy guilt. When you are carrying your sweet baby others prepare you for the inevitable invasion of the MG virus, but what about the stay at home mom? You would think she would immune to such an infection. Every mother is a carrier of the MG gene.

I was a working a mother up until I had my second bundle Baby E. All of the above scenarios applied to me. On maternity leave last December it became very clear that the best choice for our family was for me to stay at home with our girls. I loved my job, but the teeny-tiny salary I was being paid would barely cover childcare, let alone anything else. I was excited about staying home with my ladies. I would be there for every milestone. I would conquer the MG virus. Or so I thought.

There are two perceptions of being a SAHM. The first being "She stays at home. How tough can that be?" And then you hear "It's the hardest job you will ever do." I always went with "how tough can it be?" Until I started my new profession. My children are amazing. My 28 month old is crazy smart, vivacious, curious, creative, and downright sassy. My 11 month old is a dynamo!! She is a gentle, quite, kind, observer, with an emerging sense of humor that is adorable. My life is so full. A day in my office consists of cuddle time, days in the park, painting, reading, blowing bubbles, and trips to Monkey Joe's. What's so tough about that?

<<We interrupt these precious moments for a toddler tantrum, diaper blowout, dogs barking, laundry buzzing, sister slapping, baby crying, 15 minutes late for a well check kinda morning>> Multiply this by 62 and that is my day. It's a roller coaster of emotions when you spend your day with your little ones. A park I am SO glad to be running, but it is emotionally and physically exhausting. There are moments where you find yourself wishing you had a "real job"--guilt. You find yourself yelling at and a punishing your child because YOU are tired and frustrated--guilt. You yell at your husband because he gets to go out for work after hours--guilt. A simple solution is to take some time for yourself, get a sitter, see a movie with the hubs, but because you aren't working and you are barely making ends meet you can't afford it---guilt. You then begin to feel guilty because WHO FEELS THIS WAY??? Every mother does. We just don't talk about it.

My running used to be my refuge, my break. Easy on the wallet and good for the heart AND soul, but I gotta be honest with ya, running 16 miles in the post summer south GA sweat box is not as therapeutic as it once was. I managed to get in all my short runs, including a 9 mile run in 87 degrees (heat index 90). The Mommy Guilt got in, but I wasn't letting her win. At first I went inward. I was embarrassed about how I felt, but then it occurred to me, I know I am not the only one. My phone rang and another SAHM mom friend was standing on her ledge ready to jump (figuratively speaking). I shared my chaos. In that moment we both knew weren't alone. No mother EVER should. When my girls read these words years from now I want them to know that being a mother is the most incredible thing a woman can do. Your body creates, carries, and gives birth to life. No one but a woman can do that. You learn to love this tiny creature that keeps you up all night long and still manage to be overcome with emotion when they say "Mama" for the first time and proceed to puke down your shirt. No one but a woman can do that. You go to bed at night thinking there's no way I could love you more, and the next day you do. No one but a woman can do that. You feel guilty with or without your kids, only a woman feels that, only a mother understands it. I don't look at it as mommy guilt anymore, just love taking a wrong turn. It's all apart of the fun that is being a mom. Unlike amusement parks life doesn't come with a map. You get backed into an emotional corner, but you and the love for your children work your way out.

After an emotional week I set out to conquer 19 miles. Fall arrived just in time for my morning run. I ran, and it was beautiful. I felt great. I felt so good that I didn't stop at 19...I did 20. When I watched the 19.99 flip to 20 tears streamed down my face. All the training has paid off. All the hard work, all the blood, sweat, and tears have lead me to 20 miles. 14 short weeks ago I struggled with 5. It was an amazing feeling that I look forward to reliving as I watch my girls graduate, marry, and become mothers of their own.

Weeks 13&14: 58 miles
Lesson learned: Mother's don't need resumes. They are just awesome.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

When it rains, it floods...Weeks 11

Week 11 started off great!!! After my running epiphany my whole outlook changed. I felt renewed and confident and REALLY excited to tackle my 15 mile long run on Saturday, but then it began to rain. My sweet little Boro stayed very dry, but my parents who live nestled right outside of our nation's capital in Alexandria VA, well it began to rain, and it rained, and it rained, and it rained. Not a big deal. I mean it rains, but the constant construction in my parents neighborhood doesn't allow anywhere for the water to go. 5 years ago they had 3 feet of water enter their home. Thursday night I got the call that they had been evacuated and the water was rapidly rising. Tears welled in my eyes as I spoke to my mother "Katie it's just stuff. We'll be fine." My parents and their 74 year old neighbor made their way to higher ground. They listened to rain the pelt the ceiling as they attempted to sleep, with every drop the uncertainty of what the morning would bring set in. The sun tried to come out, but the rain kept falling. My folks returned home in a light drizzle to find their basement covered in mud, muck, and mayhem. Mother Nature had been kind this time, but she still left nearly 6 inches of rain and mud.

I haven't talked much about my family, which is a real shame because I have 3 amazing sisters, Spartan Sister, The Scholar, and Miss Independence. My parents are pretty awesome to. My dad spent 27 years serving our country while my mother hand raised us girls. My mom is the world's mother. Ask anyone who has met her. The moment she meets you, you instantly become family. She embodies all that is right in the world. She is kind. She is loving. She is giving. She is better than ice in the desert. ALL of my friends respect and love my mom, some even more than their own mothers. She is just all that a mother should be, and she shares it in every hi, every hug, every handshake (The hand shake is rare. She's definitely a hugger). My mother is also a rock. Several years ago she lost one of the most pinnacle people in her life. Miss Lin was a beautiful soul that my mother took refuge in. At her funeral my mother didn't shed a tear. She comforted her children and others around her. She was graceful, dignified, and compassionate, even when on the inside she was crumbling, she put others first. She always does. She always will. That's my mom.

I missed my mom's call Friday afternoon because I was at Chick-Fil-A with my girls and my in-laws. My mom has taught me to treasure every second with my kids. Baby M FINALLY overcame her fear of the "big slide". I heard my phone, but watching my daughter slide with pride took precedence. My mom taught me to value these precious moments. After about 15 times down the slide I checked my phone. I listened to my voicemail and my stomach fell to the floor. It was my mom. She was crying. She asked me to come home. I stood there for a moment frozen. My mother, in my whole 32 years has never been broken or vulnerable. I immediately called her back. In classic mom style she was collected and told me she was ok, and it was silly for me to come. My mom recently lost her mother, and the flood washed away some tangible memories for her. When she found the rain soaked, mud stained journals of my grandma's my mom took off her cape and became a daughter. My mother has always been super mom. In that brief message, she wasn't a mother, but a daughter mourning the loss of her mother.

Long story short, the next day I was on a plane back to the rolling hills of VA. My in-laws took my ladies, and I spent the week helping my parents clean up. When I should have been crushing 15 miles I was boarding my flight to DC. I may not have been running, but I sure was working!! I think I sweated more loading and unloading their basement than I have during this training process!! My short runs consisted of carrying boxes and loading furniture, which I almost killed my 63 yr old father with a 7 foot craft cabinet!!!!

I did get to my 15 miler mid week. After we had them "settled" back in, my mom dropped me at the Mt. Vernon trail. My run started at Dyke's Marsh and I ran to Mt. Vernon and back. What a beautiful run. The sun was rising over the marsh as I headed out. I was taken back at the beauty that surrounded me. The date was September 14, 2011. My mind began to remember what I was doing 10 years prior.

On September 14, 2001 I was glued to the television along with the nation. Watching, waiting, quietly accepting that there would be no more survivors. It was too late. They have been in there too long, but myself like everyone else I remained hopeful. Three days earlier I woke up to a phone call from the Scholar Sister. The night before had been a "long" one, I was a mere 22. My roommate and I had celebrated her bday so 9:50 in the am was EARLY,especially when our heads hit the pillows in the wee hours of the morning. I think I was still drunk when the Scholar asked me "Are you watching the news?" I laughed and responded "Why the hell would be I be watching the news??" I turned on my television and saw the smoke. I saw the fire and my sister said, "We can't find dad". My father had a meeting at the Pentagon that morning. Instantly I was sober, paralyzed in fear. I called work and told them I would be late. I drove to work with tears streaming down my face. It stung and it burned. My heart stung and it burned. What if my dad is hurt? What if my dad is gone? I couldn't reach either of my parents. I don't remember much of the timeline that followed, but I remember getting to work and everyone looking at me. A tear stained 20 something with no idea if her dad was hurt? on fire? worse? What seemed like an eternity passed. My manager Karen ran from the back office and told me my mother was on line 1 and my family was accounted for. I will never forget when my mother said to me "Daddy's meeting was cancelled. He is fine." I fell to my knees. I sobbed. I cried more than any rain has ever filled a basement. I was relieved. Still frozen with fear, but relieved. I wanted to go home, but my mom told me to "stay put". I know she said these words to me because in that moment Statesboro, GA was seemingly safer than DC.

That Christmas I visited the Pentagon. It was still burnt and a giant flag covered the remnants of my innocence, my sense of security, and the peaceful world as I knew it. My family was so lucky on September 11, 2001. When I booked my flight for September 10, 2011 my stomach quivered, like so many others "I can't wait to go home". Ten years. Thousands of lives. One changed heart. In the days that followed 9-11 I coined my mantra, Love Big or Be little. I learned in an instant, like we all did, that life can change in an instant. My family was sparred the grief and the lifelong feeling of loss. I learned that day to love each and every day, even the bad ones. I was in DC on the 10 year anniversary. I attended the Warrior Walk at Arlington Cemetery. During the service's prayer a plane flew over head, I wasn't scared. I felt safe and protected, a feeling that took nearly 10 years to obtain, but it was there. I honored the lives that were lost that horrific day and honored the men and woman that have died giving me back my sense of security, my peace of mind. It was a beautiful morning September 11, 2011. A beautiful somber morning. As I waited for the metro I thought of the footsteps I am filling. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, all stood on the same platform headed to work on beautiful September morning.

It was a great trip home. The circumstances of the trip weren't the most favorable, but the trip itself was amazing. The people affected by the flood were incredibly positive. I saw neighbors helping neighbors, people laughing through tears, a feeling that empowered a nation 10 years prior. I was going to ask everyone who reads my words to donate to $26.20 to a charity of their choice in my daughters' name, but after this weekend I was reminded of the importance of time. As that sense of security has crept back the unconditional love of our neighbors has diminished. Instead of giving $$$ I am asking you to give your time. If you read my blog or happen to read it just this one, I am asking you to give 26.2 hours of your time over the next year. Give it to whomever you please, but save your cash and give your time. Email my girls via my email and tell them about YOUR 26.2! Your time is more valuable than money, and our time is a gift. A gift so many families wished they still had. Honor your time. Love Big or Be little.

Weeks 11&12: 26 miles

Lessons learned: Our time is gift that is meant to given.
Please share with my girls how you spent your 26.2

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Marathon: We interrupt week 11's training for an important a...

My Marathon: We interrupt week 11's training for an important a...: First and and foremost...I AM NOT PREGNANT!!! Nor am I throwing in the towel. I had one of the best runs tonight, and it had nothing to do w...

We interrupt week 11's training for an important message.....

First and and foremost...I AM NOT PREGNANT!!! Nor am I throwing in the towel. I had one of the best runs tonight, and it had nothing to do with my pace, the weather (although that was AMAZING), how awesome I looked, or how far I went. It was a simple 5 miles at nearly a 15 minute pace, but it was wonderful.

The last few weeks I have been trying to figure out ways to move faster as I go forward with this process. Running a quick ten, walking 1, pushing hard during my short runs, hydrating, eating, mind games, new shoes, you name it I have tried it. Tonight I just ran. My hip has really started to bother me the last two weeks. Up until this point the only "pain" I have felt was my knee. That had nothing to do with my training. I over pronate and a new shoe fixed my ailments. My hip was another story. I began to worry (still am a tiny bit concerned, but not too much) that I had a real injury. I did some research and stretched my IT bands, problem solved. I ran yesterday pushing every mile and in the end I shorted the run and immediately my hip began to hurt. I had to stop listening to my ego and start listening to my body. She is politely saying, "Can you please slow down?"

Now I run a 13-13:30 mile. If I slow down too much it will be in time to watch the sun rise the day after the race. When I push I shave it down to 11-11:30, but my body is sending me a message. She isn't ready to do it my way, she has to do it in hers. The average woman births a baby in 8-12 hrs. My first bundle took nearly 31, my second slightly over 24. When my body does marathon duty she does it slowly, but in the end sweet success.

My Nike plus has tracked my steps since 2007. When I see the old me starring me in the face my 13:30 twists in my gut. Tonight I had a realization. I don't ever want to be the person I was in 2007 again. The last 4 years have allowed me to grow and change into a person I am so proud to be. As each year passes I learn more, do more, love more, live more. In 2007 I was in the gym 5 days a week. Now I spend my free time blowing bubbles at the park, swinging "HIGH IN THE SKY MOMMY", kissing boo boos, bouncing at Monkey Joe's, and listening to Sammy the Seal 100x's before lunch. I don't want those 5 minutes back. I wouldn't trade what I have now to go back in time, so stop obsessing.

I have struggled all my life, like most woman, with self worth, self esteem, and confidence. I had an blazing red Afro, freckles all over, and pasty white skin mixed in was inevitable!!! I weighed barely 71lbs when I started HS. I learned early on that humor can mask any hurt, and I have used this my whole life. As I grew older I began to gain confidence, but there is always something. Just last year I hesitated to go on a swimming play date with our toddler. "All the mom's have their PhD's or their Master's. I only have my BS and am currently making $10 bucks an hr!!!" Praise the good Lord I got over myself and not only got into a bathing suit with them, but opened up to them. Great group of ladies, mothers, professionals, but most importantly my friends.

I live in southeast GA and for nearly 10...count them 10 years I didn't wear shorts. I was too pale. I didn't wear flip flops because my feet are REALLY ugly (now my feet ARE really ugly, ask any of my sisters), but I finally accepted and loved my pastiness and ugly feet and have been happy, confident, and comfortable in shorts and flops. Tonight I accepted that I am not going to be fast. I don't want to be fast. I want to finish and be able to enjoy the evening (after a substantial nap) with my family.

Accepting who you are is an indescribable feeling. Loving that person is even bigger. I don't think one truly loves everything about themselves, but man it feels good to let go and accept.  When I got home I stretched, and so far my hip feels great. It will be sore tomorrow, but not as sore as it would have been had I run like some one who I am not. My hope and prayer is that my girls, all girls for that matter, learn these lessons at a younger age than I did.

Mid week: 8 miles
Lesson Learned: Strive to be who you want to be, but don't deny who you are.