I run happy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This is real life, guys...

Painting "The Box."
So far it is The Rainbow House.
It has twinkling lights and orange Halloween lights.
It's still a work in progress.
Pretend Napping Inside the Box 

I'm all about being real today.  Today. Last week,   I had a week of parent-teacher conferences that were enlightening, inspiring and also, sad and frustrating.  Be real.  Life isn't easy for some of us right now.  We have our home.  We have jobs.  We have healthy kids.  Not everyone does.  About 4 or 5 of my Pretzels out of 22 are in homes and families that are in some kind of crisis.  These little guys are shutting down at the ages of 4-6.  Their families are struggling financially and it trickles down on the eeny-meenies of our        
society. These EENY-MEENIES are innocent.  One child was afraid to go to the nurse because he thought his mom would have to pay.  The fears are deep, they've been planted and fed over the past two or three years.  These Pretzels have been raised in crisis. It's their "normal."  We need to remember this when we fuss about test scores, PUBLIC schools, and "those" kids.  They really are OUR kids.  They will always be a part of OUR WORLD, our community, our neighborhoods. Be mindful.  Be hopeful.  Reach out.

REALITY number TWO:  Be grateful.

We have so much.  All the way down to the running...what we LOVE to do.  What we "get" to do!

 I had my cross country race on Sunday,  Race NUMBER 4!  It was a hilly 8k which was down in San Diego, very close to the border of Tijuana and San Diego.  The terrain was all trail and dirt with some dry grass and a golf course for much of the course.  All of the courses have been hilly and it has been interesting to see how my body/fitness has changed with the racing every week.  I barely run during the week really.  I do one big track workout which consists of 4 downhill repeats, then 4 1 min. up hill sprints, and ends with 4 uphill repeats.  It is usually about 8 miles of work and a good warm up and small cool down.  The rest of the week consists of a rest day and two short run days at a slow pace.  Friday I gear up mentally with a two mile run and 6 strides at 5k pace.  I am seeing a lot of progress on race day, not just  with my times but with how strong I feel.

Here's where I get real with you...

Pace and time have always been HUGE for me.  I love the numbers.  Not for comparing with anyone else, just to compare how I've been and where I am.  It's almost a game for me.  It's fun.  Suddenly though,  I started to realize with racing every week,  it can't be about numbers.  You have HILLS in cross country.  You have rocks.  Bumpy, wet grass.  Mud.  Dogs. Runners.  Slippery slopes covered with leaves.

It's all about how you feel.  Am I feeling strong?

Now when I'm racing, my mind isn't wondering about the numbers.  This is what goes on and I can be pretty exact with this since I've done it for four Saturdays in a row.

My mind talking to me:

The start:
"How relaxed do I feel right now?  Relax!"

Mile 1:
"How relaxed am I right now?  How settled am I feeling?  What am I noticing around me?  How much fun am I having right now?"

Mile 2-3:
"Hills!  Use your arms.  Relax!  Smile, you love hills.  Ah, down hills.  No, this is what you love, down hills.  Keep it controlled.  Yes, it feels so good!"

Mile 4:
"Flat?  Yikes, this feels weird.  Where's my 64 year old friend who is usually here at this time?  There he is." At this point, he joins me or I join him and we have a friendly, unspoken game of can Meg slow down her breathing to match his.  He's won every time.  Today he spoke to me at mile 4.something,  "See that girl in the red?  Go get her."  Because I'm in a zone and listen to anything anyone tells me at this point, ,  I followed his instructions but never really caught up to her.  His words were like CRACK though, it shot me out of my comfort zone of RELAXATION and zen...and I made an honest attempt to catch up with her though the sandy final mile.

Each and every one of these races has had me crossing the finish line with a smile.  I'd shout and cart wheel if it didn't look SO "NFL" football player-bragger-like.  My smiles and shouts are for me.  I'm just grateful.  My body kept itself healthy and in one piece for another race.  Thank you for that, body.

Numbers can be good. Being strong can be even better, it carries you farther, lasts longer.

Have a great week!  Be grateful.  Reach out to a child who looks like they just need a smile. Work towards being STRONG, inside and out.

 Our Class Marble Jar Party...
Donuts on a string, hands behind backs.
Thanks to Clifford's Halloween for this idea!



  1. You are a beacon of hope for those kids - glad you are there! Glad you are liking the trails - more trails = more fun!!! Have a great week Meg!

  2. You are simply awesome, Megsie!! You have a heart of gold and a soul to match...those kiddos are blessed to have you for their teacher!! :) Times are tough...I can attest!

    I ran a trail race this past weekend, too, and the whole time I was running (aside from when I fell) I just kept thinking how lucky I was. Really! I was outside, running on some of the prettiest trails around, and I wasn't wincing in agony. Life, though tough, is good! Glad you had a nice time out there and hope you continue on with your fun CC group! :)

    Miss ya!!

  3. Oh Meg being from Africa I can more than relate to what you talk about. Here I see starving, homeless children on the street every day. Yes, we must be grateful and try to make a difference where ever possible. With children making a difference doesn't need much effort or money. Loved your post!

  4. I love your message Meg! It reminds me to be grateful for what I have. I think you are right on about the trail running, for me the outcome is the same, did I work hard? Did I improve? Am I enjoying myself! It took me some time before I could look at my numbers, which are much slower on the trail and learn what they had to teach me.


  5. It must be heart-breaking to see those families and kids struggling from such a close angle. Rest assured that you are making a difference in their lives!

  6. What a great post Meg.

    We're having a crisis too here in Holland, next year it's going to be worse than this year and lots of families will have financial problems. It's good to be grateful when life is good for someone. Appreciate the little things I always say. I don't have to go away on vacation 4 times a year of drive a new car every year. I'm much more happier when I come home and Bella is waiting for me and all happy to see me. That's what counts for me.

  7. i hate hearing about that... i mean, i don't want to pretend it doesn't exist but it's so heartbreaking! i just want to go and buy them everything they need, but i know that doesn't fix or help the situation; just a very small bandaid that will fall off sooner than we'd hope. :-/ hopefully your influence in their lives will change some of that!

  8. There certainly are kiddos who live from one crisis to the next. Very sad about that boy not wanting to go to the school nurse.
    Enjoy those runs. I know I loved my race last weekend and it wasn't because of my time or AG award. It was how strong I felt the whole race and how much I enjoyed it.

  9. Those kids are lucky to have such a caring teacher. In a perfect world kids would be able to be kids - carefree and innocent - for their entire childhood. I wish the world was perfect.

  10. Seeing a child in poverty or pain always breaks my heart. I was touring one of our cancer radiation centers for work this week and there was a little girl of about 7 in there having radiation treatment. It broke my heart. They are innocent and I wish all children could have the happy childhood that they deserve.

  11. So much gratitude expressed in this post! A perfect focus for the fall season (and all year long)! Not to mention I love the donuts on a string:)

  12. Great post, Meg. Thanks for always bringing us back to Earth.
    I gotta borrow that Clifford book from the library (for the kids, not me. ok, both).

  13. I totally get what you are saying about numbers/how you feel. I used to be so hard on myself with my finish times. Then I realized that I do better (mentally) when I just have fun. I feel more success if I feel like I finished strong, with a smile and did the best I could that day. Of course I say this now, maybe after the next race I'll change my mind! ;)

    That's so sad about your little pretzels. I guess I was always lucky, taken care of and spoiled, so worries like these poor kids have just never even crossed my mind. I wish they didn't even have those thoughts or concerns, they shouldn't have to experience "real world" troubles this early!

  14. There is something so heartbreaking about the innocence of childhood being disrupted so soon. They are so blessed to have such a caring thoughtful angel in their lives like you. Thanks for the reminder that life is bigger than me. (and your comments always make my day!)

  15. Well, as someone who is a participant in these tough times, all I can say is I'm glad my kids are grown!

    Welcome to the world of trail racing. Even on the same course, each day can change the conditions. It's impossible (and unfair to yourself) to try to compare results.

  16. I would love to see you do a cartwheel after finishing a race! Being grateful is something that is easier to do as I get older and is one of the true blessings of aging. Not so anxious about "getting my turn" at life, and more thankful for what I have experienced. Thanks for a great post!

  17. You are a gem. Such a beautiful soul. Man, I wish every child had a meg in their life. Your love for children...so REAL! There's your REAL..YOU. :)