Tag Archives: exercise

Lead By Example

“It’s hard being a girl. There are a lot of body image issues that come up and I think the best thing we can do for our kids is lead by example.”
– Cheryl Hines

Some of you may remember me mentioning a while back that I am now helping coach a new Girls on the Run team in our area.  If you’re not familiar with Girls on the Run, we are basically what the name implies…girls on the run!  We have a team of 3rd – 5th grade girls and we meet twice a week…not only to run, but also to talk about the qualities and values we need to have to be the best ladies we can be out here in this big ole world.  And believe me, I’m learning just as much as the girls are.  No doubt about it.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s blog.

exampleblogOne of the things the other two coaches and I have discussed is the importance of participating in both the physical activities (running, warmups, etc.) and the mental activities (lessons about our character, etc.) right along with the girls.  It’s one thing to tell people what they should do, but it becomes a whole different lesson when you show them.  It means more.  For instance, if we expect the girls to do 20 laps, then we get out there and do 20 laps with them.  If we are teaching a lesson about the importance of not gossiping, we have to make sure we don’t find ourselves in situations where we, as adults, are doing just that.  You catch my drift?

We have to not only lead these girls, but lead them by example.

Now, I thought I was doing a pretty job of this whole concept. I mean, after all, I’m currently training for a marathon…surely I’m leading by example as far as running is concerned, right?  And when we have our lessons about character traits, I’ve been willing to share personal info from my own life (including the parts I admittedly need to work on myself…I mean, who knew that listening was actually a part of the process when I’m arguing with my fiancé, Richard? Hey…you learn something new every day, right?)  But earlier this week, something caught me slightly off guard.  My “lead by example” strategy got challenged.

One of our girls was talking to me during our laps, and she mentioned how much trouble she has with her “crazy hair.” Now, this wasn’t the first time this girl has mentioned her hair, so I know it is somewhat of a sore spot with her. Like me, she has been “blessed” with a head full of curly hair.  And, as we all know, the straight-haired girls want the curls and the curly-haired girls want to give them to them.  I understood this girl’s dilemma quite well.  Taming the mane does not come easy.

So, we had a conversation that went a little something like this:

Her:  I have so much trouble with my crazy hair!
Me:  Why do you call it crazy hair? You have great hair!
Her:  You don’t understand. It’s curly and frizzy and everywhere all the time.
Me:  Oh, I definitely understand, silly. Mine is exactly the same.
Her:  *quizzical look* No, it’s not.
Me:  Well, sure it is.
Her:  I can’t tell. You always wear it back.
Me:  Well…

And here’s where I had to actually stop myself from saying what was on the tip of my tongue.  Because you know what almost came out?  What almost spilled out of my face was, “Well, that’s because my hair is horrible and I can’t do anything with it.”

Whooops.

Didn’t I just finish telling her that we had the same hair?  If I said that, what would I be telling her about her own hair?

I can’t remember exactly how I finished the conversation. I think I told her something about how as you get older, you find more ways to fix your hair and different products that make you learn to like it better, etc.  Which is true. But you know what I usually do with my crazy curls?  Straighten them. And when I don’t have time for that, I pile them in a ponytail or in a bun. I hide them.

Here’s where I need to learn to lead by example.

If I tell this little girl to embrace her curls and learn to love them…all while mine are hidden from view, is she going to hear me?  Is she going to learn to accept herself for who she is and not try to “fix” what she perceives as an error to make herself more “acceptable” to her peers?  *sigh*  I’m guessing not.

Time to lead by example.

mehairblogSo, today, my crazy curls are flapping around for all the world to see.  When I get to practice in a few hours, that little girl is going to see that she and her coach have a little something in common…curly, “crazy” hair that we are learning to accept and appreciate.  Together, we are going to show each other that this thing that makes us unique, somehow also makes us the same.  And we are going to learn to be proud of that fact…not try to hide it.

So, thank you my little Girls on the Run student for showing this old gal a little thing or two.

Are you leading by example in your life?  Something to think about, isn’t it?  The little people are watching…don’t forget that.

 ***

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

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Girls on the Run

“Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying, and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way.”
– Julie Isphording, Marathon winner

So, how many of you have heard of Girls on the Run?

logo_girlsontherunNow, wait a minute. All you non-runners…get back here. Not so fast.  I know how you are. “Oh great, another blog about running. I’m not a runner. I’m out.”  Well, hold it there, missy. (Or mister.)  Stick around for a second.  I want to tell you about something pretty awesome. (Especially those of you with daughters…you’re going to want to hear this.)

I spent my day today getting to know about Girls on the Run. Now, I had heard of it before, of course, as I’m sure many of you have. And, like many of you, I assumed that this was some kind of school “running team.” I mean, it’s called Girls on the Run. It must be girls running, right?

Well, yeah. That’s partly true. But, wow. There is soooo much more to it than that.

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Girls on the Run – Westwood site coaches

I have recently been given the awesome opportunity to be an assistant coach for a Girls on the Run team in my area – Ashe County, North Carolina.  See this pretty lady here to the right?  That’s Natalie Foreman. Although the two of us didn’t know each other that well, our shared love of writing caused our paths to cross a short while back. She’s a local editor who happened to be the one reviewing an essay I’ve written for an upcoming anthology. And that essay just happened to be about…you guessed it…running.  And just before Natalie had read that essay, she had been toying with the idea of getting a Girls on the Run program started in our area. She had done all the research, checked into all the details of securing a location, etc. But what was she missing? An assistant coach. And Fate, as she so often does, just happened to drop a runner’s essay on her desk.

So, Natalie gave me a call.

And here we were today, two practical strangers, headed to a coaches’ meeting.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I had done a little research on my own, of course, but I still didn’t realize what all was involved with the program.  Again, I had it in my head that we were going to go to this coaches’ meeting and they were going to teach about us about different exercises, different methods to teach the girls to increase their running distances week-by-week, etc.  But nope. That’s not what happened at all.

I walked away from that coaches’ meeting feeling like I knew everyone in the room.  Especially Natalie.  And I walked away feeling like I could actually succeed at coaching for this Girls on the Run program.

How did that happen?  Well, it’s like this.

The program director taught us how to teach the kids. She put us in a setting that the girls would be in. She showed us the different games, conversations, techniques, etc., that the students would be going through in our program.  For today, we were the students.

We got to know each other. We got to know our likes, our dislikes. We got to know our vast array of personalities and how each of us could still get along and come together for a common goal…not only despite our differences, but because of them.  We came away from that meeting knowing that a group of drastically different strangers, could walk away a few hours later as friends.  We walked away feeling confident in ourselves, feeling special because of the little idiosyncrasies that made each of us different from one another, and feeling beautifully unique.  And most importantly, we walked away excited for the next time that we could all be together.

And that, my friends, is what Girls on the Run is all about.

Do you know a 3rd-5th grade girl that lives in or around the Ashe County area? Well, I know two women who started the day as strangers and ended it as friends, who absolutely can’t wait to show that little girl how that happens.  Life is so hard for girls these days.  Maybe it always has been, but I just feel like it’s just a tad harder now. There’s so much media and peer pressure to be a certain way, or act a certain way, or…worst of all…to look a certain way. What these girls need is an outlet. A place to come to feel safe. To feel like they can be themselves…where differences are celebrated, not shunned. And where they will get to have a fun, playful workout in the process.

Here’s a quick rundown of the details for you local peeps:

  • Meetings will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. at Westwood Elementary School.  (Students do not have to attend Westwood Elementary to participate – that is just the meeting location.)
  • Meetings technically start this Tuesday, September 9, but if you haven’t signed up by then, it’s not too late! (We have about two weeks to get all the registrations in.)
  • This is a 12-week program, that will culminate in a 5K race for the girls in all area Girls on the Run programs on December 6, 2014.
  • Coaches are head coach, Natalie Foreman (who is a runner and has a third grade girl herself), and myself (who wishes her daughter was still young enough to participate, but who is also a runner and absolutely adores working with kids!).  We will also have a part-time assistant coach, Thea Van Sickle Young, who will be available to help out on Tuesdays.
  • Sign-up and other info can be found by clicking here.  (There is a cost to the program, but reduced fees are available to kids who receive free/reduced price school lunches.)
  • Girls on the Run of the High Country Facebook link can be found here.

And there you have it, folks.

If you have read this blog and are local, please do Natalie and me a favor.  Will you share this? We just know that there is a girl out there who needs this program. (We know there are many girls who need it actually.)  And the only way they’ll know about it is if they hear about it. Help us spread the word. Without a certain number of girls signed up, we will not be able to proceed with the program. We really don’t want to see that happen.  Our hearts are in this, and we know how much the girls need it.

Help us make a difference, won’t you?

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Click on the flyer below for a little more info and…share, share, share!  And, of course, let me know if you have any questions or need more info!

Let’s start a new generation of healthy, happy, confident girls, shall we?

***

“The woman who starts the race is not the same woman who finishes the race.”
-Sign at the Nike Women’s Marathon

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Mayberry Half Marathon

“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.”
– George Sheehan

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  • Second half marathon = *check!*
  • Goal time met = *check!*  (Well, my goal was 2:30 and it ended up being 2:30:44.  Those last 44 seconds don’t count, right?)
  • PR = *check!*  (My first half marathon took 2:43)
  • Miserable pain in legs and hips afterwards? = *DOUBLE CHECK!*

So, today, I completed my second half marathon in Mount Airy, North Carolina.  It was called the “Mayberry Half Marathon.”  Yep, that Mayberry. blog If you aren’t familiar with the area, this is the town that the Andy Griffith show was based on.  And buddy, let me tell ya, they sure use that as a draw to the area!  (As they should.)  You can see everything from Wally’s Service Garage to Floyd’s Barber Shop.  Pretty cool stuff.

So, my day started with a 4:15 a.m. alarm.  (Whaaat?  Seriously?  I’m getting up at 4:15 a.m. to go make myself miserable???  Yep.  Welcome to being a runner.)  blog1And not only did I get up at 4:15 a.m., but so did my boyfriend and his kids to come along and be my cheerleaders.  If you’re a runner, you know how very much this means to us.  Yes, we’re running for ourselves and it’s a very private, personal sport, but when it comes to races, there’s nothing like a cheerleader.  And I had three.  His kids had the option of staying home, but they chose to go to support me.  Talk about warm fuzzies. 🙂  They’re just as sweet as their dad.

So, after our 2+ hour trip to Mount Airy, I get all signed in and get my sweet shirt. blog3 (I was also given the shirt and goody bag – complete with running socks (super sweeeet!) for my Australian friend Zoe who earned hers as well from across the world.  Read that blog here if you missed it!) So, I’m checking out my awesome long-sleeved silky moisture wicking shirt and suddenly I notice this little phrase written up the arm.

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Um.  Say what?

Now, although I don’t live “too” far from Mount Airy (about two hours away), I wasn’t extremely familiar with the terrain.  And let me just say…. Holy. Cow.  They weren’t kidding.  The hills were insane!  I started out thinking this was going to be a pretty chill course.  blog7I love looking at the little smile on my innocent, unassuming face as I took off from the start line.  That smile started fading right about the 8 mile mark as my legs started screaming at me that this was the worst, stupid, most idiotic idea I had ever had in my life.  And I couldn’t help but agree with them.  Yes, the course was beautiful, but who the heck cared!?  I was too busy looking down at my legs to be sure they were still there because the numbness was starting to make me doubt that fact.

blog6“Oh, dear God, please let me finish this thing.  I’ll do anything you say from now on.  Scout’s honor.”  (I was never a scout and God knows that, so I’m sure he realized I was just kidding.)

But alas, scout or no, God followed through and allowed me to cross the finish line.  Barely.   Nah, I’m exaggerating.  Without knowing what the course was like, I had hoped for a 2:30 finish and I finished in pretty much exactly that.  2:30:44.  (As I mentioned before, those 44 seconds totally don’t count.  I was right at 2:30, so I’m going with that.  Bam!)

Note the distinct difference in my face from before the race to after.  Ha!

Am I proud of myself?  You bet I am.  Why?  Well, lots of reasons.  One – I finished.  Two – I started.  Three – I got this awesome medal…

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(There’s that mention of hills again!  This time I knew why!)

But aside from all that stuff, you know the deeper, more real reasons that I’m proud?

“Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too.”
– Richard O’Brien

Keeping that quote in mind – here’s one of those reasons.

blog11That picture is the result of my friend Zoe’s half marathon that she ran, in part, because of me.  Our training together for the last few months led her to run her first half marathon all on her own in Australia.  Together, we helped each other get to this point, and she SMASHED it!  I’m so proud of her.  And I’m proud of myself for helping to inspire one other person out there in the world to feel this intense feeling of pride in herself.  There’s nothing like setting out to complete a goal, and completing it.  There’s a strength there that can’t be explained.  But trust me – it’s good stuff.

And on that same note:  I also got to witness a couple success stories at the race itself.  I spoke to one woman just before the race who was telling me that she was unsure if she would even be able to run.  She had trained hard and had started experiencing some serious pain in her hips and knees just a week or so ago.  The pain wouldn’t ease.  She said she was just going to do a little warm up and then make her decision whether to follow through with the race.  This conversation occurred in the bathroom line just prior to the race, and I lost her after that.  Throughout the race, I thought of her and wondered if she had been able to do the race at all.  At the awards ceremony, I got my answer.  She finished THIRD OVERALL.  How do you like that!?  I felt so proud of her it was almost like I knew her personally.  And that’s another reason why I love being a runner.  We are as proud of each other’s accomplishments as we are of our own – even when we barely know the person.

I spoke to another guy who was completing his 11th half marathon of the year.  One per month.  And he was from Nashville, TN, and is planning to run the Music City Marathon in April – the same one that I’ve got my sights set on for my own first full marathon.  Eh, we’ll see.  My legs still hurt too much right now to make that decision.  But either way – small world.  I just love the conversations that take place among runners.  We’re a family of sorts.  We get each other.  And we all see each other as equals – whether we finished 1st or 120th.  That’s one of the most beautiful things about this sport in my eyes.

And finally, to wrap it all up.  You know what really, really, makes me love these races?  This.

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I am so lucky to have my biggest fan by my side through it all.  He is always, always there.  With an encouraging word and a congratulatory kiss, he is part of the reason for my success.  Yes, I believe in myself – and I know that is the reason why I keep progressing.  But to have someone believing in you along the way?  That sure does add to the sweetness of the whole thing.  I’m so incredibly blessed.  I hope he knows how important that is to me.  I’m in a women’s running group on Facebook and I hear of so many stories that don’t always work out this way.  So many significant others don’t understand what it’s all about.  And without the understanding, they don’t follow through with the support and the encouragement that these women so desperately need.  I saw one woman mention that she has done everything she can think of to show her husband how much running means to her.  She has posted her bibs and medals on their bedroom wall – begged him to come to races – and still.  Nothing.  I feel so bad for her.  Support from our loved ones is a gift that we eagerly open like a kid on Christmas morning.  I am so sorry for the women like her who have nothing to open.  Thank goodness she has that women’s running group on Facebook.  Hopefully it can put a little salve on her wounds as she receives the virtual back pats from those of us who understand.

But for the grace of God go I, man.  I’m tellin ya.

blog9So.  Half marathon #2 is in the books.  I’m a happy camper.  Another success to tuck under my belt…..until next time. 🙂

Thanks for joining me on the journey.  And if you haven’t started your own journey, my request to you is this.  Start today.  It’s out there.  There is something that is going to make you feel the pride in yourself that running has allowed me to feel.  You need it.  Trust me on this.  You need it.

Find it.  And don’t stop searching until you do.

***

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.”
– Patti Sue Plumer, U. S. Olympian