No Time Like the Present

I haven’t written in a while, and I blame that mainly on this ridiculous winter we’re in the midst of. I’d like to say nearing the end of, but when I said that last year, winter went till May. I have never experienced anything quite like this one, so I will not declare it’s over until every last bit of snow is melted away. And even then, anything’s possible in the Midwest. Seriously.

Anyway, the weather has, at times, clouded my judgment and made me want to curl up in a ball on my couch all day long. Training has been less than ideal, but great meals and fun times with friends and family is at – dare I say it – an all-time high. And that, combined with my great love (you might say obsession) of the Olympics, has gotten me to this point in the year with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. (thank God, because there is little warmth to be found ANYWHERE else!)

I feel like I manage to become a little more enamored with/captivated by the Olympics with every four years that they come around. To me, it never, ever gets old hearing stories of Olympic athletes overcoming and sacrificing so much to get to where they are, and watching the culmination of years of hard work play out on truly the world’s biggest stage. The underdogs and the favorites, the grit and the grace, the joys and the heartbreaks. I just plain love it all. And at the heart of it all, it all goes back to a kid with a dream.

The Olympics get me thinking long and hard about my goals, my hopes, and my dreams. So, too, do great books I’ve read like, What Color is Your Parachute?, Daring Greatly, and The Success Principles. And it’s through these things that, day by day, little by little, I become more confident in who I am, and therefore, what I want and what I need to do to achieve those goals. I can’t express enough how crucial it is to take some time and brainstorm what you I really want, and how you can make all of it a reality. And then write it down.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve dreamt of being an Olympian, or somehow getting a taste of the Olympics. And now that I’m 25, I know it’s highly improbable I will figure skate, YOLO flip on a snowboard, or speedskate my way to the Olympics. It’s highly unlikely I’ll run my way there. But, I’ve gone back and forth so much, thinking on those dreams as a young girl, and I just have this place in my gut that tells me I can’t quite give up on that dream just yet. And that’s where I am now. I don’t know my status with grad school yet (won’t start till at least the fall,) and I live in a community full of great runners (and people). I have a support crew who’s helped me learn how to properly fuel my body (although always a work in progress), to learn to think a little more “grey” (things don’t always have to be so black and white!), and to embrace just being myself (#keepingitreal). After running the idea by my coach and support team, I truly feel like there’s no time like the present to try running a marathon. I want to see how I like the training and how my body handles it. I’ve wondered if it’s realistic to still shoot for my dream of qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the marathon… and I won’t know until I try. As a wise Wayne Gretzky once said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” (the Winter Olympics highly approve of my quoting of him.)

So…June 21st in Duluth, MN, if all goes as planned, I’ll be on the starting line of Grandma’s Marathon!

Would appreciate any and all marathon tips, favorite motivational quotes, and encouragement you may have along the way. The adventure that is marathon training officially begins near the end of March. :)

I’m sure you’ll see me tweeting plenty along the way. I’m going to try to blog a little bit more, too. Excited.

Happy training… and may all of us across most of the country get a little love from, like… Jamaica and the Bahamas…instead of Canada…VERY soon.

~Jenny

  • “There’s not a better feeling than when you have found that moment of balance and harmony when both running and life come together. Then you know why you run and that you couldn’t live without it.” - Joan Benoit Samuelson
  • “If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” - Emil Zatopek
  • “I dare you to train for a marathon, and not have it change your life.” -Susan Sidoriak

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

I recently had the opportunity to go to a conference and listen to a keynote speech by Brian Luke Seaward. Seaward is a highly passionate, intelligent, and captivating speaker, and on this particular day, he addressed coping with change in a stress-filled world.

In an era where most of us rush from place to place, hoping, wishing there was more time in a day, stress lingers around all that we do–and don’t do. We all know people who seemingly handle stress well, and we’ll often hear phrases like, “I just don’t understand how she keeps her sanity,” or “how he has time for all that is beyond me.” But that’s not to say they don’t still, at times, feel crippled by stress. And that’s exactly what Seaward began to touch on- that stress is “an equal opportunity destroyer” — it affects everyone. What he followed with next, though, is that most people “lack the essential coping skills to successfully navigate the tides of change [stress].” This is when the meat and potatoes of his speech began. He followed with ten “common tips for decompression that restore homeostasis to your mind, body and spirit.” You can find all of his tips in his article posted here. For this post, I’m just going to touch on one point that really struck me in this month of Thanksgiving: giving thanks.

I’ve seen a lot of my Facebook and Twitter friends posting things they’re thankful for each day this month. That got me thinking back to Seaward’s great presentation, and the importance of remembering to foster an Attitude of Gratitude.

10. Practice an Attitude of Gratitude. McMansions. SUV’s. Credit cards. Plasma screen TVs. IPods. Second homes. Let’s face it; we are a nation of spoiled brats. Sensory overload can often make us forget that we are living in the lap of luxury, particularly when compared to billions of less fortunate people on the planet. Now is the time for some perspective: Over half the world’s population doesn’t have direct access to clean drinking water. Over one third of the world population earns less than two dollars a day for eight to ten hours of manual labor. By comparison, we have it pretty darn good, yet you’d never know it the way Americans whine. While it’s human nature to complain (even grieve), a proper perspective of our lifestyles is essential. Stop for a moment each day to take stock of what is going right in your life. Then give thanks for all you do have. It’s mighty hard to be stressed and grateful at the same time. So give thanks for what you have rather than mourning what you don’t have. Taking time to re-prioritize your values about what is really important in life is your first step to adapting to the speed of change. Remember, you are not your job, your house, your marriage or your car. You are all of this and a whole lot more. In every case balance is required to reach your highest potential and attain inner peace.

Now is an especially great time of year to step away from our work, our desk, our computers, our phones, and, as Seaward said, give thanks for what we have, and not mourn what we don’t; to re-prioritize values about what is really important in life.

So, I invite all of you to join me in taking some time this week and this month to practice an Attitude of Gratitude. Make a list, make a picture collage, post in your blog, post on social media, talk about it with your family, talk about it with your friends. It is my hope in practicing this month, I will hone these skills and thus make it a habit to stop often and simply appreciate all that I have.

Right now, on this day, in this crazy life I lead, just a few things I am most THANKFUL for:

God - for creating me, every last inch of me- red-hair, pale skin, freckle face and all.

My parents, my two brothers, and my two dogs. The most important people in my life. They offer unconditional love and support. They bring me smiles, laughs, hugs, and slobbery kisses (just the dogs, I promise :) ). They are my number one fans, and I’m so grateful to enjoy (nearly–I do still have two brothers, after all!) every moment I have with them, even if those moments happen a little bit less often than they used to.

My non-immediate family- Grandmas, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins… – We’ve traveled to wonderful places all together and we meet up for birthdays and holidays–and really any time in between. It’s always loud and chaotic, but I seem to love it a little more with each chance we have to get together. My Grandmas are two of the strongest, most generous, and most stubborn people I’ve ever known :), and I look up to them in so many ways. I can’t thank them enough for all the tidbits of advice and wisdom they’ve given me over the years. They’ve been the glue that has held our families together, and I know for that, we are all forever thankful. We can all sleep a little better at night, too, knowing we have our Guardian Angel Grandpa George watching over us.

My friends – Near and far. I’ve lived in three states in three years time, and I wouldn’t have made it to where I am now without all the wonderful friends I’ve met along the way. Teammates, coaches, running buddies, co-workers, classmates. They’ve been there for me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. From National meets to weddings, there have been many long-lasting memories, and I can’t wait for many, many more to come.

– A warm place to sleep, a job to afford me food and other luxuries, and country that’s free – Minneapolis has treated me well so far, and, even if it’s not always warm outside, I’m grateful for a nice, warm apartment over my head, and a job that allows me to eat well, drink clean water, afford gas in my fully-functioning car, and afford many warm layers of clothing. I’m also grateful for this laptop I’m writing on, for internet access, for the freedom of speech and all the rights I have as a citizen, and as a woman, in our amazing America.

My health- I can now, with the help of my family, counselors, and nutritionists, talk about being recovered from an eating disorder. The past two years have been an absolute roller coaster, but I made it. And I’m thriving. I know what I need to do to stay healthy and, while it will always be an ongoing process, I plan to continue to work hard on the path I’m on now to stay healthy and balanced forevermore. I appreciate all the gifts running gave me in college, and I appreciate what, for a while after college, it didn’t bring me. Now, I am grateful to once again run because I love it and it brings me joy. I move forward grateful for any chance to be able to, through sharing my journey, help others who may be struggling with similar issues find hope, strength, and recovery.

And finally, I’m thankful for the feeling of happiness, calmness, strength, and hope that’s poured over me after heeding Brian Luke Seaward’s advice.

“Life is short, but sweet for certain.” So, take some time to appreciate what you have RIGHT NOW, no matter how big or small. I’m sure glad I did.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

-Jenny

 

 

 

 

 

Making Strides

Yeah, I did it– made a little running pun in my blog title. You’re shocked, I know. :) Seriously though, I am making strides in figuring out life. I guess in a way we are all always making strides through life, since I don’t think anyone has it completely figured out–but it’s always good to find direction you didn’t previously have. And by that, I mean coming to the realization that it’s time for a change – a shift in focus. And I’m finally going to make that change. I’ve decided I’m going to graduate school.

Before I explain some more, we’ll do a little rewind. For the past six years, running has been a very big focus in my life. It’s brought me more joy than I knew possible. But, it’s also brought me to some low points I never thought possible. And that’s part of why it will forever continue a part of my life, though: because running truly is a metaphor for life. Not only do you “get out of it what you put in to it,” like Oprah’s famous quote, but you also experience runs and races of both highs and lows, peaks and valleys. The key is not letting the good days outweigh the bad days. Over the last couple of years, running has been more of a struggle than ever before. I had to ask myself on multiple occasions why I am continuing to run and train, and sometimes, if I was having one of those bad days, I really couldn’t come up with an answer. When running had given so much to me, why was it seemingly all of a sudden taking away much more than it was giving back?

That’s when, first and foremost, I finally sought help from others – a therapist, a nutritionist, and a coach that reminded me just about daily of the importance of listening to my body. Then, I started really doing some soul-searching. I soaked up all those “25 Things I Want Myself to Know at 25,” type lists and books I could get my hands on– probably to an excessive point– but, in doing so, truly realized how much I had neglected figuring out who I really am; and how key this was to trying to make my way through my 20’s and move forward with more joy once again present in my life. After a while, I was able to illustrate my biggest strengths and interests, and recognize my desire to help others find what I took for granted for too long: being well. And along with that, illustrate my love of much more than just running: of writing, of yoga, of happy fun things like coffee, Disney, and cute, comfy, stylish running/workout clothes (alright, mainly from the rockstars at Oiselle :) )… and my love of creative projects, of caring for others, and of seeing people smile. So, with that, I’m now taking a couple classes this fall, on wellness and counseling, and I’ve fallen in love with both. I beat myself up less thanks to knowing a real definition of wellness, and that it’s ever-evolving in one’s life, and I have a new-found appreciation for the incredible impact that counseling and therapy can have on one’s overall health. I can’t express enough how important it is to reach out to others, find people you can relate to, and to not be afraid to ask for help. Help from others is what is finally enabling me to be comfortable in my own skin, to embrace imperfection.

So, fast forward to now. After watching two major marathons two weeks in a row, I feel like my love for running at its purest form is back. I feel like I’m more aware than ever before of the incredible stories of people who have overcome so many different obstacles in life and still find a way to train and finish a marathon. We face anxiety, depression, mental illnesses, cancer, disabilities, death of loved ones, loss of a job, loss of a home, and so much more. I just love the way runners never give up. I come away from these past two weekends knowing it’s impossible not to feel inspired watching a marathon- and yes, that’s from the elites to the back-of-the-packers (I’d love for more of the back-of-the-packers to know who the elites are, but I’ll save that for another blog.) Again, more reasons why running will forever be present in some way in my life.

I have realized that a lot of this renewed joy in running, and in life, is due to all the work I’ve done to be able to actually spell out my biggest strengths, passions, and interests. I know I’m more than just Jenny the Runner. (although that’s not a terrible title to have, just a bit too one dimensional!) I now know I am going to graduate school next fall for public health and community health education (where: TBA). And I am incredibly excited with that decision. I look forward to helping people and teaching people, giving them a chance at becoming more well – all while relating to them in so many ways.

I now know why running began to take some things away from me: it had to in order to teach me how to truly start giving back. :)

Three States, One Quick Year

It was just about exactly a year ago I moved away from Michigan, back to Wisconsin, and then fairly quickly to where I am now, Minnesota. Three different states in a matter of three months. I’ve confused a lot of people trying to tell them where I was, what I was doing, and where and why I am where I am now.

I think what I take away most over the course of a lot of change within the past year is that there is absolutely no exact plan for anything. You can try and plot out the way you want things to go and no matter what, nothing lines up exactly according to plan.

As someone who’s always looking for some “bigger and better” idea/plan (true life: I’m addicted to self-improvement books), as well as someone who’s a creature of routine and habit, the idea of allowing for flexibility has proven rather difficult to grasp. When I got the idea in my head that running more often automatically made you a better runner, it evolved in to “more is better”– and where did that land me? Overtrained and consumed by unhealthy habits. What do you mean I can’t always plot out how many miles I’m going to run? I have to learn to listen to my body? What a novel concept.

I’ve learned that same logic applies to jobs, love, overall happiness… to life. Goals are good, but they don’t need to be achieved with your head down and blinders on. Highs come with lows, your body and heart may not always mesh well– adjustments are going to need to be made.

There were times over the course of this past year I thought it sounded pretty nice to have some sort of “prescription” for life. But then, as I thought about that more, I realized how the best things to ever happen to me have come as a result of other plans falling through. And that usually means going against what I perceived as the “norm.” But, especially over the course of the last year, I’ve recognized that really, isn’t there a perpetual need to redefine what is normal anyways? :)

As I move forward into my next year of life as a Minnesotan, I am learning to live and be with plenty of uncertainty. I have goals, but they’re short-term, less rigid, open to being modified. After all, who could’ve predicted my first winter in Minnesota would be one of, if not the worst they’ve ever had? And just about the time I was ready to pack up and move away, the trees became luscious and green and now beautiful summer has about arrived. Such is life- not according to plan. I’m finding joy in being able to look around, try new things, and be patient with where I’m at, setting up small, achievable goals that leave me more content, and less stressed and overwhelmed. I hope I can inspire others to do the same more often. It’s great to finally take some time to smell the roses. :)

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

“It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.” – Winston Churchill

“Most plans are just inaccurate predictions.” -Ben Bayol

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” -Lao Tzu

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” -John Lennon

United in Running

Not sure I’ve ever had such a roller coaster of a day emotionally in my whole life. I eagerly got up yesterday morning, day off of work, to set up my computer to stream Marathon Monday live– to witness an epic battle between Americans and foreigners for that signature floral wreath and a spot on the podium. And I sat in my apartment, for 2+ hours, and certainly was not disappointed. I glanced back and forth from the live feed to my Twitter feed, noticing Boston filled nearly all the trending topics, recognizing really for the first time the full magnitude of the event– the Boston Marathon is the equivalent of a runner’s Super Bowl.

I left my computer, a little disappointed the Americans hadn’t placed higher, but after having watched the event unfold, knew they had given it absolutely all they had through those hills and to the finish.

I returned a few hours later in a Panera, where I was refueling and going to get some work done (doing a little soul searching with some career help books). I opened up my laptop just before 2 p.m.. and was glued to it in disbelief for the next hour and a half. Those top trending topics on Twitter were still Boston related, but this time, filled will words like tragedy and terror. I wanted to believe it was “just” a generator that had caught on fire, or a celebration cannon gone awry. But my optimism soon faded. I immediately begged the question WHY?! and then texted furiously to ensure those I knew running were safe. They fortunately were. Everyone else around me was sitting quietly, talking amongst each other, and in some cases, smiling and laughing. I felt like knives were being jabbed in to my stomach. Suddenly, that very same race I happily watched this morning, that was still going on for thousands of runners, changed running forevermore. And while it tugs at the heart of one of America’s greatest assets, our safety, I believe it can and will make us stronger and more united. Look at the reports that came pouring in, how many ran towards the blaze to help those affected rather than away from it.

Yesterday, we all found out about the horrible events at some point, and we all could picture ourselves crossing that finish line, or cheering on a loved one when it unfolded. And it cut deep for me, as it did for many other runners, knowing the simple sport I love will never again feel quite as safe. But, I think what we can all do now is forge ahead and remember the community that running represents–that while those evil perpetrators of the tragedy want nothing more than to divide us, that through this event, and through running, we are united. Deep down, aren’t we all runners anyway? Each one of us played tag or ran around the playground as a kid. Let’s remember the camaraderie, strength, hard work, and perseverance running brings out in people, and let it shine through in our daily lives. Spend more quality time with your loved ones, give a random act of kindness, help those less fortunate, even help motivate a friend or family member to get healthy.

Let’s mend our broken hearts by being united in all that running represents. Just as runners are spent yet elated crossing that finish line at the end of a race, isn’t that how you want to be as you cross that elusive finish line of your life? I know I sure will want to lived and given every last ounce I have in me.

A New Year

I’m not usually one for great big resolutions, as I think the more grandiose the idea, the more likely you are to fall through on completing it. I am always one for setting both short and long-term goals, however– doing whatever you can to better yourself and to achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

That’s why I’m so excited for 2013. To move on from an up-and-down 2012: do everything in my power to learn from the mistakes I made, but also to build upon the many positive changes I made in my life.

In recapping my year in running, I’ll be honest, it got a little hard to find too much to smile about. I was unable to defend my win at the Disney half, I didn’t PR on the track, and I didn’t make much progress just running mileage over the summer.

What I did do, though, was take those negatives and do my best to make change happen. I moved to a brand new place, started a new job, and I found, in Kristy Popp, a coach that I click with–that is focused on progress, and patience– two things I fully believe in, but on my own, found it hard to practice what I preached. With her help, I finally had the strength and sense to take well over a month off from running and recharge my batteries.

I am fortunate enough to have already built up a great support crew from a great company called Activ8, from my own spectacular place of employment (shoutout to TC Running Co.!), and from several fun, inspiring women (and men!) I run with nearly every day. I enjoy meeting more and more runners from the area just about every day. The community here is so active; even on nearly sub zero days I see people out and about around the lakes. It’s impressive.

And it is this support and positivity in my life that makes me believe 2013 is going to be fresh, different, and full of fun.

My 2013 GOALS are:

  • To be and stay healthy– physically and mentally. Be positive, be smart, and be confident about my body and my training. Strive for progress, not perfection.
  • To be more present. I know occasionally you have to look back and you have to look ahead, but I want and need to be patient and appreciate who and where I am here and now plenty more. Yoga and meditation are great practices for this. :)
  • Get back in to racing, and ENJOYING racing and competition. Some 5K-10K distance stuff this spring (USATF MN and MDRA both have great racing circuits!), and for sure the TC 10 Miler come fall (I will NOT just spectate that one again, even if it was a lot of fun!).
  • To continue to get out of my comfort zone — enjoy meeting new people/making connections and creating valuable and lasting relationships
  • To further inspire others to run and be active
  • To say no when I need to, not overextend myself, and therefore never be late to anything. Oops, I’m supposed to be realistic here. :) Let’s say, be early or on time to meetings/get togethers more often than I’m late. Related to that non overextending thing, it can allow me to keep my apartment more organized/well-decorated and inviting, too.
  • To explore different ways I can use my talents and interests in marketing/social media/writing to contribute to this world outside of just running. :)

There you have it, my NON exhaustive list of achievable goals for the brand new, shiny year.

Hope to have inspired you to set your own realistic goals. Please do share if you’ve thought them out! We can help each other stay on track.

Here’s to a healthy, present, PR-filled, risk-taking, inspirational, prompt, organized, positive, compassionate, better-balanced 2013!

~Jenny

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.” -Ellen Goodman

Healthy and Happy

“My coach finally put it out there: “You want to be different, yet you crave to be normal.” It’s true. I didn’t want to be like the other girls. I wanted to be better than them. But I wanted to be one of them.”

–Chrissie Wellington, multi-time Ironman Champ— describing how I similarly felt for quite some time as a female distance runner. It was… kind of a relief to see my feelings actually explained in words, and by one of the greatest endurance athletes ever, nonetheless.

It’s been an important step for me to not only realize, but to truly BELIEVE runners come in all shapes and sizes. It’s a process I’ll surely have to keep working at. Luckily I’ve had supportive people reminding me…

Accept the body you were given, be confident about it, and do the best you possibly can with what you have. What’s “normal” for one person isn’t for another. Don’t deprive yourself of anything because you think you should look a certain way. Be healthy, be happy…chances are you’ll find yourself running faster than ever before.

…And that’s what I’ll continue to work hard towards. Proud to say I’ve come a long way. :)

Keep on Dreamin’…

There’s been an awful lot of changes going on, but I like where I am (here in Minneapolis!), and I’m even more excited about where I’m headed. I was fortunate enough to do an interview with Salty Running, an awesome website whose “Manifesto” includes “Dream big. Then dream bigger. You’re capable of so much more than you think,” one of my very favorite sayings.

I’m very excited to invite you to read the fun interview HERE.

“Some dreams stay with you forever,
Drag you round and bring you back to where you were…
Some dreams keep on getting better,
Gotta keep believing if you wanna know for sure…”

Don’t Cry Because It’s Over, Smile Because it Happened…

This morning, for the first time in a long time, I had trouble finishing my breakfast. Although I had already started to see the writing on the wall, it still hurt to sit down and meet and finally face reality. I have so much respect for Keith and Kevin Hanson, for my teammates, and for all that represents the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. They respect my dedication, my passion for the sport, and the ways in which I’ve grown for the better over the past year and a half here in Michigan. But among all the positive, one fact remains: my running did not progress. My times did not get faster. And at the end of the day, a professional group rightfully demands professional/elite times and performances, as well as steady progress. That didn’t happen, and thus, it’s time for me to start a new chapter in my life.

I move forward with absolutely, positively no regrets. I had the opportunity to pursue a dream– I ran with some amazingly talented women, including an Olympian (Des- if I end up in Vegas, I’m putting my money on you for a medal in London!), who showed me what hard work was in the form of 100+ mile weeks, in the midst helped me wake up to recognize the huge importance of fueling your body properly, and most importantly, within that whole process, helped me discover and define myself beyond running.

The past year and a half has been a roller coaster of highs and lows, but just as at the end of the day I realize I’m truly not quite at the elite level required to be a part of this group, I also realize that my whole world is not going to come crashing down–because I am no longer simply defined by the splits on my stop watch. Running will always be a part of me, and I am by no means giving up on pursuing my post-collegiate running career. But I now look forward to meeting more people, discovering other ways I can make a difference in this world, and continuing to inch my way closer to the balance that’s proven vital to the long-term success of the elites in this great sport.

I want to thank everyone I’ve met here in Michigan – so many people have influenced my life in both big ways and small, and I am so grateful to have been a part of such a wonderful group of people (many like family!). I have also enjoyed disproving (okay, defending) many people’s stereotypical negative thoughts on the Detroit area.  It’s been a great place to live, work, and run.

I plan on heading to Eugene to watch the 10K of the U.S. Olympic Trials (after making it to Houston, did you really expect anything less from me? ;) ), going on a much-needed vacation with my amazing 91 year old Grandma and my entire Mom’s side of the family to beautiful San Diego, and taking that time to think where I want to head from here. I’ll move to wherever I so choose in mid to late July.

I will gladly take any advice/suggestions on new areas of the country to move to and discover. I’d love to find a place with great running trails, a community of runners, ample grad school/job opportunities, and apartments that allow dogs :). I know I’ll need a coach to keep me under wraps, too. And I also know figuring all this out will be quite a process, but part of being here has helped me come to better grips with the phrase, “good things take time.” I’m 23, I’ve made mistakes, and I know there’s plenty more in store for me. But at least, through my experience here in Michigan especially, I have been reminded life’s a journey, and you’ve just plain gotta do your best to enjoy the ride.

Thanks so much for your support. And while I may not update this blog as frequently as I used to, there is never a shortage of life updates via 140 characters over on Twitter. I will of course still be @knightrunner22 — lover of quotes, Disney, Wisconsin sports, and all things distance running & track and field.

I’m smiling because it happened. Here’s to beginning a brand new chapter…

~Jenny

the runner, the daughter, the sister, the granddaughter, the niece, the friend, the athlete, the planner, the dreamer, the worrier, the redhead, the lover, the overanalyzer, the listener, the nerd, and the perpetual optimist. :)

Feeling Alive

As I ran an “easy” 8 this morning around a loop at Stony Creek park, I also witnessed my teammates in their first workout of their segment prepping for the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, a little more than 10 weeks out from race day. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit strange/little bit nerdy excitement for each of them, finally officially starting up training for something all of us have been dreaming about really since we started running, and maybe if it wasn’t on our mind then, certainly since arriving to train under the Hansons in Michigan.

Having been here for almost 10 months (already!), I have seen how hard each and every one of my teammates works, day in and day out, and gotten a brand new appreciation of true long distance running. And, yes, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve gotten dropped on runs, I’ve pushed too hard, I’ve had tough workouts… but I’ve gained supportive teammates, coaches, and friends,  nailed some workouts I didn’t know I could, and been inspired more than ever before. It hasn’t been the smoothest transition in the world, but let’s face it, change is never easy. A lot has indeed changed in a year’s time. But I feel alive. I get up each morning and run with a group of women who are chasing the same dream that I am. Some are closer to it than others, but it doesn’t matter. For that one hour (or so!) every morning, we get to do what makes us feel alive. It’s tough, especially with someone as impatient as myself, because with distance running, it takes time to see results. Improvement comes from the “trial of miles; miles of trials.”

Back to that word. Trials. That nerdy excitement for each of my teammates prepping for the Olympic Trials is because I have seen how hard each one of them works, and I have no doubt that at least one among us will don the red, white, and blue in London next year.

At 23, I’m the second youngest member of the team. And a ways off the average age of the female U.S. Olympic marathon Trials qualifier– 31. (did some independent research on my own, slight margin of error, but I have all the data on Excel spreadsheets- 31.2 = average age out of 187 qualifiers as of 11/1; get at me if you’d like to see any of it!)

I’ve still got so much left to learn, but I’m so grateful for all the eye-openers I’ve already had since moving here. Grateful for the opportunity to renew, reassess, and redefine what makes me feel alive. I’ve got a lot to prove in the distance running world, but I can’t think of much better of a place and program to, as the famous quote says, continue working hard day after day, like a stonecutter; “hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it splits in two, and he knows it was not that blow that did it – but all that had gone before.”

I know I have seemingly touched a lot on passion in this blog. But isn’t that what life’s truly about anyways? “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is more people who are truly alive.”

“Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.”

Can’t wait to be in Houston on January 14th to watch America’s finest long distance runners battle it out for the three slots in London. Sure to be a day that evokes plenty of passion for all involved.

Racing next sometime in mid-December for a short rust-buster and then back to Disney on January 8th to defend my 2010 half marathon title! Continuing to build strength. :)

For more info on the Olympic Trials, visit http://www.houston2012.com.

Wishing all my Hansons-Brooks teammates…Desi, Dot, Mel, Erin, Lavenna, Mike, Luke, Sage, Drew, Paul, Robert, Tim, & Chad… the best as the Olympic Trials build-up officially heats up!

(For a video intro of all the Hansons-Brooks OTQ’s, click here! (courtesy of Sage & Vo2 Max Productions!)

Do what you love, love what you do.

-Jenny