Year of Running 2014

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I’ve linked up with Miss Zippy to share a brief overview of my year as a new runner for 2014!!!

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Best Race Experience

I ran my first race this year, the Bed Stuy Alive 10K in October.  It was an incredible experience.  I spent most of the summer running alone. It became a form of active meditation and therapy for me.  Running in a large group was very different. I felt stronger and ran faster than ever.  It brought out my personal best and even made me competitive as well. I will always cherish how great it felt to sprint across the finish line.

Best Run

At the beginning of the summer, I decided during my commute home from work to randomly go for a run.  I hadn’t done so in years and really didn’t know what to expect.  It was a life changing moment.  My form was definitely off and it took a minute to control my breathing. However, once I entered my zone I felt amazing.  I became completely carefree and it was the highlight of my day. I wrote in depth about this experience in my first post.

 

Best New Piece of Gear  

I love my Lululemon tights and hoodie that I purchased in the spring.  At the time, I planned to wear them while working out in the gym.  I would soon discover that I sweat way more during my runs.  Even in the cold, these items keep my skin dry and warm. They are definitely part of my running staples.

Best Piece of Running Advice I Received

Learn to listen to your body.  Knowing when to rest, when to keep going or when your body has had enough isn’t easy.  It takes time to become familiar with your limits and to know what your body can handle.

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Most Inspirational Runner

Since I was a little girl, I was and am still inspired by Flo Jo.  She embodied everything I aspired to be.  She had beauty, style and grace yet she ran like a gazelle.  It is her legacy and the many African American female runners that came before and after her, that continues to inspire me daily.

If I could sum up my year in a couple of words, what would they be?

I turned my dreams into plans.

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Why I Love Running In The Winter

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1. I can escape the indoors and enjoy the sunlight and/or fresh, crisp air.

2. My body temperature while running balances the cold in perfect harmony.

3. My neighborhood is quiet this time of year. This allows a lot of time for self reflecting while I run. I can have active meditation.

4. The knowledge that with each run I am becoming stronger and will be a beast in the spring.

5. The ultimate sense of accomplishment when I complete my run. By embracing all seasons and most weather conditions; my body will be in excellent shape all year round.

Dreams

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In my case, I imploded and often felt displaced anger. The deferment of my dreams was due to a series of choices I made as a young adult.

I choose love and started a family in my early twenties before I had an opportunity to really find myself. I figured that my future success would be defined by maintaining a great relationship with my mate and being the perfect mom to my son. In my mind, this made sense. In reality, I began to feel a void right away.

Growing up in Michigan, I always saw myself traveling the world. My first goal was to move to NYC. Which I did at 17, to attend college. Afterwards, the world was supposed to become my oyster.

Instead of taking the time to discover and cultivate my passion, I fell madly in love. So much so, that I placed everything else on the back burner and made that my focal point. I also choose a year later (at 22), to have a baby with the love of my life.

I was doing a noble act. Motherhood would be the start of a very rewarding chapter in my life. I planned to be great at it. I had a home birth and nursed him for a year. I didn’t return to work for almost two years to bond with my son.

By 25, I was severely depressed. My relationship was in shambles and now working full time while raising a toddler was an additional challenge. What was even scarier, was the feeling that I no longer had the power to change any of this.

The story of my life was now etched in stone. The opportunity to discover and define myself had passed. I felt robbed and hollow inside. My family felt like an inescapable burden. I could no longer breathe. I felt both completely stifled and stagnant.

As a result, I became an emotional eater. I would lash out in anger and often have an attitude. I really didn’t like or love myself at the time. This went on for about 3 years and then I had enough.

I had a sudden awakening and began to do a self inventory. I decided to empower myself by first tackling my health. I started eating more nutritious food and working out often. I also got a passport and took my first vacation abroad.

I felt empowered and in control of my destiny. When I accomplished my fitness and health goals; I set more.

In the process, I discovered my love of running. This opened up an entire new world and way of thinking. It became (and still is) such a liberating experience.

I feel completely free when I run. I am able to process my emotions and clear my thoughts without allowing these things to consume me. Running is my therapy. It is my outlet.

Since turning 30, I have experienced a rebirth. I am genuinely happy and optimistic about the future. I love what I see in the mirror and how much stronger I become with each run and every workout.

My journey has taught me to let go of my fears, bitterness and anger. Instead I feel humbled and blessed by my growth. I am excited to watch as my dreams manifest and my goals unfold. My life is amazing!!

My Active Meditation

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Read this today and couldn’t have agreed more.  As a single mom, I often run on limited sleep.  Whether I’ve had a stressful day at work or am dealing with family drama, I’ve ran through it all.  And at the end of each, I am thankful I did.

While running doesn’t solve all of life’s issues and challenges, it is very cathartic. It is a form of active meditation. I can view things more objectively and with greater clarity during my runs. I can clear my thoughts and simply focus on my surroundings. I can release frustration and muster up the courage to conquer my fears. It gives my often hectic life balance.

All of my runs are worthwhile. Each of them enables me to grow stronger physically and to challenge myself mentally. Regardless of what transpired prior to, each becomes the highlight of my day. No matter the circumstance or issue I’m facing, I am always restored after a run.

Running Down Memory Lane

I decided to celebrate my Gratitude Day (aka Thanksgiving) by doing what I love most, I went for a run.

It was pretty chilly and drizzling here in Brooklyn. As I stepped out of my apt, I paused to question was this doable considering the weather. My desire to get in a good run prevailed.

As soon as I started, I knew I made the right choice. My body heat increased quickly and I was off to a warm start.

I began taking in my surroundings. People were beginning to arrive at the homes of loved ones. I smelled sweet potatoe pies baking and candied yams in the air and it made me feel nostalgic.

I started thinking about holiday dinners spent with my grandparents as a child. It was a beautiful trip, both down memory lane and the one I was actually experiencing on my run.

My First Run

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I didn’t start running with any particular agenda or goal in mind, at first. I started because I missed the feeling of being free that it always gave me. That carefree, unstoppable, invincible feeling I had lost somewhere along the way.

I’m still not sure of how exactly it occurred but somewhere between starting a career, becoming a mom and then later taking on the responsibility of single parenthood, it was lost.

I start and end most days adhering to a fixed schedule. Beginning with my alarm sounding off at 5am, followed by hitting the snooze button several times before finally embracing the day. Then it’s a game of beat the clock after. Rushing to shower, dress, and feed my son and I; so that I can drop him off to school, race to the subway and head to work.

The same routine is reversed in the evening. Then it’s heading to the market for dinner or other errands after work. Racing back to the subway and heading to my son’s after school program and trying to avoid being late.

One evening this summer, I decided to do something different. My son was visiting my mom in Michigan and I had something I hadn’t experienced in almost 8 years, free time.

It was such a foreign concept. I had the slightest idea what to actually do with it. So during my commute home on the subway, I gave it some thought.

While walking from the train, I had time to stroll (which in my world rarely happens) and appreciate the beautiful weather.

My beloved Bedstuy comes alive in the summer, you can feel the pulse when passing by barbershops, dominican hair salons, cafes, produce stands and parks. People are everywhere; young, old and from every possible walk of life. It’s all here in my little section of Brooklyn.

While on my very scenic stroll, I had an epiphany. It occurred to me that this would be a perfect day to run. It wasn’t hot, there was a wonderful breeze and I had absolutely nothing else to do.

Once I reached my apt, I threw on some leggings and a t-shirt, found some comfortable old sneaks and went right back out. I didn’t want to get too settled in and risk talking myself out of going.

Next, I headed to the corner of my block. Once there I found a music playlist on my phone to keep me inspired and off I went.

It felt weird at first. I’m pretty sure my form was off and I felt like a spectical weaving through people on the avenue but I refused to stop. Even when my lungs were on fire, I kept going. Then somewhere along the way, I began to feel stronger. I regained control of my breathing and actually began to enjoy my run.

I began to take in the sun as it was beginning to set, my bustling neighborhood, the breeze and I felt reinvigorated. I felt alive. It was such an amazing feeling. It allowed me to extend my run and push past both my mental and physical boundaries. I felt better than I had in years and didn’t want that to end.

Once I made it back to my apartment, sore muscles and all, I felt on top of the world. After I had showered and was laying in bed, I was still smiling and in awe of my day. I didn’t want that feeling to end and couldn’t wait until tomorrow evening to run again.