Friday, February 20, 2009

26 letters = 26 laps

I am still new enough to swimming that it doesn’t bore me. I have friends who are swimmers and they say that swimming laps is so mind-numbing, they can’t stand it. I get excited – every lap I swim is one more than I was able to swim a year ago. Usually in the middle of my swim I think “wow – look what I am doing!” Sometimes I am so overcome with self-pride that I could almost float! This past Thursday, I swam 40 laps - 2000 meters. wow.

I don’t find it boring, but I do it find it hard to keep track of the laps. If I am going to swim 30 laps, it is hard to keep count. Next thing I know, I have done 12 laps and for some reason I always go back to the number 1. Like I am counting time, not laps – 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3….damnit! Then I can’t remember WHAT number lap I am on. I have tried breaking it up and that helps, but I still end up losing count…am I on the second set of 10 or the third set of 10?

Here’s what I have come up with and I think it is genius. I go through the alphabet. I determine how many laps I will swim and what letter I need to get to in order to be done. For each letter I pick a word/words or a phrase and repeat it to myself for the entire lap. Here are some examples….

A – the first time through I usually say “all in”, the second time through from Rocky IV – “All your strength, all your power, all your love, everything you’ve got”
B – Be better, be stronger
C – Calm – I always say this to remind myself to stay calm.
L – let it go
N – is usually “no pain” from Rocky IV
R – relax – again to remind myself to relax
Z is the wildcard and anything goes

As you can see a couple of the words I use are from Rocky IV – I love that movie – it is one of my all time favorites, maybe I could do an entire swim workout with only quotes from that movie!

I have found that counting this way really gives me motivation and it makes me feel good, not just during the workout, but all day long. Self talk is probably the most powerful force in our lives. We constantly tell ourselves who we are and what we are capable of doing. Most of the time we aren’t even aware of how we are talking to ourselves. I find myself thinking and saying things about me that I would NEVER say to another person. It is difficult to take compliments from others and so we often brush off kind words instead of embracing them.

I have been trying to find ways to work this self talk into the rest of my life – during my runs, while riding the bike and when lifting. I know I need to be nicer to myself – the world is full of people who will tell you what they think you are worth. Usually that is determined by what they think THEY are worth. I think its better to decide for yourself that are worthy of all the things you desire and that when you commit to something, you can accomplish it. I think I’ve said it before on this blog – we are worthy just by being alive. Being alive deserves our full worth - giving it all we've got. Next time I swim – W will = Worthy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ain't it funny how a melody can bring back a memory...

I have a crazy memory. I remember things that make no sense. Its almost photographic. When I was in school, I could remember where a certain fact was on the page of a book. I didn' have to study very much because I just remembered things. As I have gotten older, my memory is triggered by the strangest things. Music and smells bring back the most vivid memories for me.

I think it was George Straight who sang, "ain't it funny how a melody can bring back a memory, take you to a special place in time, completely change your frame of mind." The thing about music is that it can hit you when you least expect it. The song "100 years" was played at my wedding when the family and bridesmaids walked down the aisle. A few weeks ago, in a spin class, that song came on as the cool down song and I just about started to cry.

When I hear the Pet Shops Boys song, "Life in a Northern Town", I can smell the spring breeze blowing through the window of my room at the house I lived in during the 4th grade. Every year we'd open up the windows for the first time in March or April and the smell of Spring would come blowing through the house with a coolness. I had a radio and audio tape player and so many of the songs I heard during that time bring back the memory. I can almost feel that coolness on my skin.

Smells evoke the same feelings for me. I grew up in New Jersey and that part of the world has a very particular smell to it. The Fall smells like damp leaves, the Spring like cut grass and lilacs, the Winter like cold metal and the Summer like a fresh afternoon rain. I don't get the same feelings from smells here in the Northwest. Maybe when I move away from this place, I will, but for now it always just smells mossy.

Growing up, we had the biggest lilac bush you have ever seen right outside our back door. We often took pictures by it before we went to church on Easter Sunday. You would walk out the back down and the smell would fill you up. I loved that. A few years ago we planted a lilac right outside our front door. My favorite time of the year is when I smell it for the first time. I watch it when Spring approaches and can see when it is ready to bloom. Then, one day, I walk outside in the early morning to go for a run and I am overwhelmed by the smell - it hits me like a ton of bricks. My mind is flooded with memories.

I run the same 4.5 mile path during my weekday runs and there is one spot on that run that smells like home. It smells like the Jersey shore. I always forget about it. I get into my zone on my run and then breathe in and there it is. I don't know what produces that smell - a tree, the grass, a flower - but it is there.

I feel lucky that I have these things to open up the flood gates of my mind. We have so many memories in our brains that can remain untapped forever. It is a blessing to be able to have access to those memories. I never know when they are going to hit me, they are unexpected. Some days I get excited to get out of the house and into my day - just so I can see what will evoke a memory. I am fortunate that I have so many good memories. It is important to remember that everyday we are creating the soundtrack of our lives. Its good to go back and listen to it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The search is were with me all along.

I am being stalked by a pair of red Brooks running shoes. I love my Brooks Adrenaline GTS 8s in a size 9.5. LOVE THEM. I buy them over and over in the only color ever offered in my local running stores – white/blue/silver. I did a search a while back thinking I would buy my shoes online and maybe get a better deal. I came across these same shoes in red, also know as white/garnet/silver. At the time, the site I was on didn’t have my size. I’ve thought about these shoes many times during the last few months. I look at my sorry old blue ones and think of the shiny new red ones that could be mine if I was lucky enough. Well, yesterday I went online looking for shoes – my current ones are pretty beaten up – I did a search for the Brooks Adrenaline GTS in garnet. I found many sites that offered them and even found them in my size. I was shocked to see that the garnet color costs $30 more than the blue.

Many months ago, money was growing on trees in our house. Lately, this is not the case. I am shopping at Winco right now – which is a story for another day – but I can tell you it means that money is tight. So, the idea of spending $90 on the red version, versus $60 on the blue version – of the same shoe – doesn’t make much financial sense. Oh, but my heart yearns for the red shoes. Wouldn’t I run faster and happier in these shoes? Just knowing that their redness was on my feet would surely propel me to running nirvana….right? These are the thoughts I wrestled with all day long yesterday. I knew the right thing to do would be to buy the blue shoes – because I do love them, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the red ones.

I even had a co-worker and friend on the case – she tried hard to find the red shoes at the same price as the blue – she did a few times, but never in my size. We spent the day discussing which would be a better option…chopping off toes to make a size 7.5 fit or stuffing tissues in the shoes to make a size 10 fit. We finally gave up and I made the right decision…well, the right financial decision – not the right decision for my soul. I bought the blue shoes for the cheapest price I could find with free shipping. Sigh.

I had finally accepted my fate and the idea that I would need to survive without the red shoes. I had even forgotten about my one true love, until….

Late in the day I was looking at the weather forecast on and on the right hand side of the screen I saw an ad for – 10% - with a little blurb that said, “check out our selection of brooks” and there was a picture of the red shoes. can kiss my ass because I looked at their site earlier and they didn’t have the red shoes in my size, so don’t tempt me with 10% off something that doesn’t exist.

I went home and told Trevor about my red shoes and he said I only wanted them because they were more expensive. Sigh. He just doesn’t understand me. I tried to explain the allure of these shoes and their beauty, but he wasn’t getting it.

This morning, I had again forgotten about the loves of my life…that pair of running joy. I was looking at something else online on a different website, because I can’t get all my news from and what pops up on the right hand side of that screen….my shoes….my beautiful shoes….another website tempting me…another website that didn’t have them in my size. But that little picture of the lone red shoe was blowing Valentine’s kisses at me, wanting me to love it, wanting to love my right back.

At about the same time, I saw a message pop up on my email that said, "your order had shipped" blue shoes are on their way to me and I know that I owe it to them to give them the same love I would give these red shoes. So until things change around my house, I will be wearing the poor people's version of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS and trying to find running nirvana anyway. When I open the box I will say the words of Journey..."now at last I hold you, now all is said is done, the search has come full circle, our destinies one...."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Who is your biggest fan?

Everyone should have one....a biggest fan. The one person who is always signing your praises. The one person who thinks you walk on water and that there is no one in the world more awesome than you. This is the person who picks you up when you feel down and who is often more proud of your accomplishments than you are.

My friend Chris was in town this week and he came to our house for dinner. He was commenting on how much Trevor and I have both changed. These last few years have been tough for Chris - he's had a big career shift and it took a while to really get it done. He has the support of an incredible wife. She is his biggest fan, without a doubt. We were talking about the transformation that has taken place in Trevor over the last year. This transformation could not have taken place if he didn't have a biggest fan. I can tell you that my husband has a lot of fans. I, however, am his biggest one. We have done a lot together in the last year and I don't believe any of it would have happened if we were not each other's biggest fan.

Often times, we are our own biggest critic. I know that I am harder on myself than anyone else would ever be. I feel bad about myself more often than I would like. I think this is the case with most people. We beat ourselves up for not looking a certain way or behaving a certain way. When you really look at yourself, you will find that you are an amazing person, we all are, really. When I think of the things I do, the things I have accomplished and who I have become, I have much to be proud of. I find that on my worst days, people will pay me a compliment and I disregard it or dismiss it. Someone will say, "you look great today" and I'll say "Ugh, I don't feel great". Why do we do that?

I want to be my own biggest fan. When I think of all the things I have accomplished because I have Trevor as my biggest fan, I know the power of it. What would I accomplish if I was at least my own fan? Trevor can be my BIGGEST fan, but shouldn't I at least be a fan? When you know someone is your fan, you don't want to disappoint them, you work harder because of their faith and belief in you. Do that for yourself too. Be your own biggest fan and remember...your biggest fan is proud of you, no matter what.