domestic violence

I’m just here for the scenery…

”Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance …

you can push yourself to extremes

and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations

or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.

But when you are through, exhilarated and exhausted, 

at least for a moment everything seems right with the world…”

-Unknown

finishline

“I’m just here for the scenery” was the half joke I made at the start of the Chatfield Hollow State Park 50K yesterday morning. The truth is I WAS there for the scenery, but I was also there for a very important reason- raising money to support CT-ALIVE (The CT Alliance For Victims of Violence and Their Families). This was my forth year fundraising for victims of domestic violence, and I certainly wasn’t going to sell them short with anything less than an ultra distance. I picked Chatfield Hollow because one year wasn’t a long enough to wipe Bimbler’s Bluff from my memory. Plus, I thought it would be fun to race in a new venue.

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Nature walk to the start. That’s my kind of race!

I was surprised when I looked at the registration list and found only 15 runners had signed up for the 50K with most runners opting for the shorter distances. Of those 15, only three were women… Clearly the rest of the ultra community (and majority of the runners present) knew something I didn’t.  Rather than get nervous over this revelation, I figured the low numbers were due to the close proximity with Bimbler’s. Besides, I was too busy enjoying the gorgeous scenery to worry about the brutality that awaited me!

Plus, I figured that if I could survive Bimbler’s, I could handle anything they threw at me. I just couldn’t imagine it being any worse. What a silly notion!

What I didn’t take into consideration was the stricter time cut offs. The total allotted time for the course was only 8 hours (an hour less than Traprock and 2 less than Bimbler’s). Like Bimbler’s, the course was extremely rocky with a good amount of technical single track trails. There were parts that literally involved scaling up and down rocks which definitely slowed me down. I am not the biggest fan of running on rocky terrain because I am clumsy to begin with; so overall the unstable footing was a detriment to my pace. That’s not to say that I didn’t still enjoy myself because I totally did!

The course was composed of five 10K loops. (Spoiler Alert: I got DQ’d after not meeting the time qualifier on my third lap; however the officials took pity and allowed me to still run a forth!) The thing that was really challenging about this specific ultra is the entire loop was up and down. Every other ultra I have run, all the really horrible climbs are either in the first third of the course OR at the beginning of the loop (For example, at Traprock of the 10 mile loop, only the first three miles were horrific and the rest were more manageable).  This race had hills throughout the loop, including rock faces that had to be scaled at the end (well played race organizers, well played). In a word, it was BRUTAL… and this is coming from a girl who did Bimbler’s as her first 50K and finished a Half Ironman less than two months after gallbladder surgery.

10418904_716524945104810_4785371998643999263_nAll that being said, throughout the race I really felt good. I was going slow, but I wasn’t hurting or miserable. I felt better on my third lap than I did on my first or second, and that was in spite of having to repeat a mile and a half section that I accidentally missed on my second time through (in my defense, the course was marked going in two different directions and I choose the one with the flags to my left because that is what we were instructed to do… I definitely had a little internal struggle about making up the part I missed knowing I was already flirting dangerously with the cut off. However, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. I didn’t want to get credit for finishing unless it was for the entire course).

At that point, I was a little tired of all the climbing and descending and the pounding on the rocks, but not to the degree I expected given the difficulty level.  It definitely helped that there were some great views and really fun sections which were enough to keep my mind off any aches or pains. Not to mention, I was too busy trying to simultaneously watch my footing and for trail markers to pay attention to much else! On a side note, I have to be honest that the scenery alone makes this run worthwhile… rocky terrain, continuous climbs, and all.

If the Chatfield Hollow SP 50K is a race you are considering doing, my advice would be to expect very rocky terrain and make sure you are prepared for it. Also, all the race distances start together, so expect the first few miles to be crowded and slow unless you get to the head of the pack. Another consideration is to plan on bringing your own water/nutrition. They have an aid station at the start/finish with some food, but the other two aid stations are just water stops without volunteers. There’s not going to be anyone handing out your snacks or water, so that’s something to keep in mind (Think “self serve”).

On that same note, while there are some people at the start/finish area, there are not a lot of volunteers on the course. Be10675731_716524988438139_6863402278390244130_n prepared to spend some quality time by yourself because you won’t find a lot of company or support out there (like at some other races with larger numbers). Personally, I like to think that the secret of ultra running to be really comfortable with yourself. Otherwise, it’s an awful lot of time to spend with someone you don’t like. Any demons or insecurities you have are going to be brought on on this course, so make sure you either deal with them ahead of time or have a strategy come race day.

Lastly, don’t get caught up with the time cut offs. I spent a good part of my first loop worrying about not being fast enough before I realized there was nothing I could do about it. I was doing my best, and it was either going to be go enough or it wasn’t. It turned out that it wasn’t; but, surprisingly, the world didn’t end. No one pointed a finger at me and told me I wasn’t good enough. In reality, getting pulled and not finishing did not even remotely detract from the experience.

I took on a course that was WAY out of my comfort zone, and I didn’t quit… even after I was technically disqualified. I am immensely grateful to the race organizers for allowing me to run that last loop and get in as many miles as I could. In addition to being a great opportunity for me to cry it out and work out my frustration (which lasted about 30 seconds until I reached the first climb up a set of stairs… what is it with ultras and stairs anyway?) it was also a terrific chance for me to savor the scenery and run for the pure joy of running.

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Okay, so in reality they said it was for finishing the 20K

(I might have to write in a little x2…since I techincally did the it twice.)

In truth, when I did get pulled after my forth loop I felt great beyond just not being sore and feeling like I could take on another lap. Every problem I had stressed about during my hell week of tapering had completely dissipated. Sure, there may have been a little fraction of disappointment; but, for the most part, I was just happy and grateful and having had the opportunity to spend a whole day doing something I love.

At the end of the day, I’m not in this sport for the finish lines or medals (although I do appreciate the bling too… shiny things, what can I say?). I do it because I LOVE the trails and constantly challenging myself. This course was INDEED a challenge, and a glorious one at that.

As far as I’m concerned, any day spent on the trails in good company is a fantastic one in my book.

Would I do it all over? 100% YES! I have absolutely no regrets.

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As much as I did this event because I LOVE trail running, this race wasn’t about me. It was about raising awareness and money for victims of domestic violence so that other women have the chance to THRIVE after abuse that I did. CT-ALIVE was there for me when I needed help, so I am happy to endure any kind of torture a race course can throw at me if it means raising funds for them to help someone else. In fact, I’ll even do it with a smile on my face.

Thank you Trails 2 Trails for a wonderful race experience and definitely living up to your “We Don’t Do Easy” advertising… although, for record, I think running 50K is hard enough without you trying to make it more challenging with 8 hour time cutoffs and such. 😉

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Enough

“All I can tell you really is if you get to the point

where someone is telling you that you are not great or not good enough,

just follow your heart and don’t let anybody crush your dream.”

-Patti LaBelle

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There are a lot of things in this life that I am not good at… that I struggle with in fact. At the top of that list is feeling like anything I do is ever good enough. Despite being a complete devotee to self love and acceptance, I have to admit that I am by far my own worst critic. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this admission. The thing is, it’s not because I’m unhappy with who I am. It’s that I’m not happy with where I’m at.

I have accomplished EVERY major goal I set my mind to in the past year. I overcame numerous obstacles including not knowing how to bike or swim, surgery, and injury (and FEAR!) to not only become a triathlete, but complete my first Half Ironman (in less than 7 hours!). I finished not one, but TWO 50K ultras with a third in the works, AND ran in my first sponsored race thanks to Bondi Band at the Ragnar Adirondacks.

Beyond the athletic sphere I have made strides in my personal life as well. I successfully negotiated for a better (and more importantly healthier!) position at work with better pay and a better schedule… which means seeing the hubs more… YEA!!!! I also have spent another year actively involved with CT-ALIVE in various projects to raise funds for victims of domestic violence, including my next run for the Running For The Color Purple Campaign this weekend.

I have taken on every challenge full steam ahead without ever taking my eye off the goal. Yet, despite everything I have achieved, I have yet to ever feel satisfied or fulfilled. Sure, it’s exciting when the task at hand is accomplished, but almost immediately my thoughts turn to the next challenge. There is no resting or stopping to savor the moment. I simply don’t know how to slow down.

The fact is, no matter what I do or goal I reach, I always feel like I have more untapped potential that I am just wasting. So many people go through life fearing failing above all else. I, on the other hand, fear not trying. I would rather chase a dream I only have a fraction of a chance of completing than go after one I know I can obtain. I want to live every moment to the fullest and know I used every ounce of my potential. I don’t want to waste a single second! When I leave this earth, I want to be sure I made the absolute best use of my time here. That is why I constantly feel pressure to do more to make an impact.

I know there is something greater I should be doing with my life; and, at times, I struggle with trying to figure out exactly what that is. I am well aware that I am not the brightest, most charismatic, or talented person out there, but I do have the desire, drive, and resolute determination to make a difference. I want to inspire people to chase their dreams. I want to change the way they view what is possible. I want to educate the public, demystify domestic violence, and give a voice to those victims and survivors who can’t speak for themselves. I want to do all these things on a larger scale than I am now. I want to affect lives!

That is why I see myself as an author and public speaker. I am already taking steps to get there. I have no idea how long it will take, but I intend to stick with it until I am successful. All the women I admire (Diana Nyad, Meredith Atwood, Brook Kreder…) all have something in common- They are inspiring others, particularly other women, by chasing their dobetterdreams. They all took on goals that other people questioned their ability to obtain, and they found a way to make them happen in spite of any obstacles. These are my role models. They have achieved the type of impact I want to make. (Okay, so realisticly, I am never going to achieve Diana Nyad levels of inspiring, but I would settle for my own TED talk… just putting it out there, Universe)

It may all sound a little looney; but I am a firm believer that the people who possess the power to change the world are those who believe they can.

I believe. I just need to figure out what my path is to get there.

In the meantime, I have been trying to remind myself that while it is great (and completely healthy) to constantly strive for more in life, it is also necessary to accept yourself as enough. It may sound contradictory, but it falls in line with Maya Angelou’s quote “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

I may not feel like I have reached my full potential in life yet, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t continually strived to become the best version of myself. Everyday I am doing the best I can with what I have to work with. That in itself is something to be proud of. I will continue to push outside my comfort zone and challenge myself until I grow into a person capable of changing the world. However until then, rather than focusing on the destination, I intend to make a better effort at appreciating the journey and trusting that the universe will guide me.

I Did It

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.

If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
― Nora Roberts

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Folks, I did it.  I finally took the plunge and applied for a new job. Correction, I applied for several new jobs.

It’s sort of amusing when you stop and think that it took me almost six, yes SIX years to realize my relationship with my ex was abusive. Now here I am almost six (must be my lucky number…) years into my relationship with my current employer fully acknowledging that this relationship is also abusive. In reality, I have know for a long time that my work environment is toxic. However, I approached it with the same blind optimism I applied to my failed marriage. I thought if I sucked it up and stuck with it that it would get better. I thought I could help fix it. I didn’t want to give up and admit defeat.

Again, my thinking was backwards.

It’s not me, it’s them. I can’t fix it because it’s not my problem to fix.

The sad part is that it took my health deteriorating (again) for me to realize that this relationship is indeed as unhealthy and abusive as my previous marriage. I have spent more days not feeling well than not in the past six months (since being “promoted”). I STILL have a cough and sinus infection that I just can’t shake- a full month after getting sick for the Timberman and after a full course of antibiotics. Actually, I am pretty sure what I had was pneumonia, which is probably why it’s taking so long to recover. Regardless, this is a COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE way to live.

I am tired of feeling sick and rundown 100% of the time. My eye twitches even on days I’m not at work. I have nightmares about having to go to work. I have no reserves left.  There is nothing left to give.  I told my supervisor I was looking for other work.

WHY DOES SHE STAY?

There has been so much conversation in the media recently about “Why does she stay?” thanks to the Ray Rice incident. Those of us who have experienced abuse know there a host a good and valid reasons not the least of which is SAFETY ***women who leave their abusers are 70 TIMES more likely to be murdered in those first two weeks than any other time in the relationship!!!*** However, if we all stopped and took a look into our own lives, we would realize we all put up with some type of abusive situation at some point or another. While it may not be as extreme as domestic violence in many cases, a lot of the reasons for continuing to endure other toxic situations and relationships are the same. I can tell you from personal abuseexperience that although my safety may not be in jeopardy at my current job, I feel as physically and psychologically drained as I did in my first marriage. So why did I stay so long?

As I said previously, the reasons are similar.  I held out hope it would get better. I attributed my stress to other sources in my life. I tried to convince myself I was lucky to have a job [spouse who loved me and would do anything for me]. After all, there are so many people struggling just to find work, I thought I should be grateful to have the financial security afforded by my current employment. On a similar note, I worried that I would suffer financially if I changed jobs. As awful as my current situation has been, struggling to pay the bills and not being able to afford to eat did not seem like a better prospect. Loss of financial security is TERRIFYING even with a strong support system and second income. Imagine how individuals who are completely isolated and buried in debt by their abusers feel about this situation… Then add to that fear of retribution…

Beyond all the “practical” reasons, though, the thing that has kept from moving on the longest was LOSS OF HOPE. I truly didn’t think I could do better (in either instance). I believed that even if I got out of the situation I was in that I would just end up in another one just as bad or even worse. It seemed so much easier to face the enemy I already knew. To put effort into getting out only to end up going through the same mess again was something I was convinced would break me. It took everything in me just to get through each day, each hour, each minute. I honestly couldn’t think far enough ahead to get my head on straight. Abusive relationships (spouse, work, or otherwise) are so draining that there is no energy left to dream or hope or plan. There is no imagining a better way of living let alone surmising a strategy to get there. When you are completely surrounded by and enveloped in negative, toxic energy day in and day out, it is so easy to believe that every other job (or spouse) will be the same. That is why is each time I had to get to a point where it was completely unbearable.

In the case with my job, I finally realized that my fear of every other job being as awful was the same terrible logic I had applied to dating. Not every employer treats their staff poorly, just as not every relationship out there is dysfunctional. There are people out there who get up and actually look forward to going to work. Good jobs exist. The key to finding one is knowing your worth.

I am finally at a point where I know my worth both personally and professionally. I would not be true to myself if I continued to work in my current position. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be respected, treated well, and appreciated. I am not willing to settle anymore. That is why I am seeking other employment. I will not feel guilty for putting myself and my health first.

This job is my last tie to my “old” life; and, to be honest, I will be happy to let it go. I am ready to put my the last piece of my past behind me where it belongs. While I obviously wish I had acknowledged how unhealthy the situation was sooner, I am happy that I am finally applying my new outlook and philosophy on all areas of my life. I can’t beat myself up for being an optimist and hoping things would improve. It’s at the core of my being and has gotten me this far in life. In the future, however, I will have to pay extra mind to situations and people that are wearing on me. After all, I should be able to still see the world through my rosy colored specs and still look out for myself. One would think the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Sometimes you need to just take the leap and have faith that the universe will take care of things. I am taking that leap.

Change is a good thing and I am 100% ready to embrace it.

We Should All Be Pro-Women *Trigger Warning*

“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women!

There is so much yet to be done.”

Susan B. Anthony

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I am going to do my very best not to fly into a feminist rant, but it’s very difficult not be offended as a woman, survivor of abuse, and human being when a “respectable” (see George Will, I can use snarky quotations too) publication like The Washington Post publishes this kind of anti-female garbage.

In his “opinion” article Pulitzer Prize–winner Mr. George F. Will claims:

“Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”

He goes on to attack the “supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. ‘sexual assault’” by providing an example of a college student who was forcibly held down and raped by someone she had been previously “hooking up” with.  Despite the fact that this woman clearly reported she had said no, Mr. Will apparently believes this doesn’t count as a sexual assault because she didn’t physically try to stop him?  Or because she waited six weeks to report the incident?  Or maybe because she had previously had sexual relations with him, so that meant she was fair game?  Or was it because she was asking for it since she was lying in bed with him?

I’m not really sure exactly what Mr. Will is asserting as justification to how this isn’t sexual assault.  Perhaps he would like to clarify.  In fact, maybe he would like to do so to the parents of the girl he just publicly ridiculed for reporting a rape (because obviously she was doing it for the coveted victimhood privilege… gosh I wish that existed when I was in college… I would totally have made up a story about being assaulted)

Then, not having dug a deep enough hole for himself, Mr. Will then goes on to criticize the utilized definitions of sexual assault referring to them as:

capacious definitions of sexual assault that can include not only forcible sexual penetration but also nonconsensual touching. Then add the doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape.”

Capacious indeed.  I could see where it is a real stretch to consider “nonconsensual touching” and having sex with a woman too drunk to give consent under the umbrella term of sexual assault.

In truth, I don’t find it surprising at all that conservative white man with an ivy league education would find it difficult to understand let alone empathize with the amount of unwanted sexual advances that the young women of this country experience on a regular basis. Of course he would find it offensive that women wish to pursue higher education without fear of being groped or raped by their coeds.  It is a totally unreasonable request.  Why should we as women expect to have access to education without having to fear for our virtue when we clearly belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?  If we all just accepted our place in society, we would be safe at home under the protection of our husbands.  We clearly have brought all of this on ourselves.  Right George?

What I do find surprising and downright offensive is that The Washington Post would publish this kind of damaging misinformation.

In a single, narrow minded and uninformed article, this man has undermined the issue of rape on college campuses, claimed that the prevalence of rape is grossly overestimated without any actual data to back his claim (beyond statistics from a single university which did not include any surveys of women on campus, but solely reported cases), and openly shamed victims of sexual assault by claiming that victim privilege encourages false reporting.

I think my head may just explode from the total lack of sense this article makes.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE someone take this man and put him in a room of survivors of rape.  Make him listen to their stories and hear first hand what it is like to be re-victimized by society.  Let him get an idea of just how traumatic it is to be betrayed and violated sexually by someone you know and trust.  Maybe then he will understand that trigger warnings are not a measure for “students whose tender sensibilities would be lacerated by unexpected encounters with racism, sexism, violence (dammit, Hamlet, put down that sword!) or any other facet of reality that might violate a student’s entitlement to serenity.” 

Better yet, have him watch The Invisible War or read When Women Refuse, just someone please educate him.  Then while you are at it, please educate society.  This type of propaganda is not okay.  It only serves to set women back; and when you set back women, you set back society as a whole.  We make up half the population.  Women’s issues are Society’s issues.  It’s time for society to start caring about violence against women.

There are good reasons why only a small fraction of assaulted women come forward.  The first is that due to lack of education and awareness, many women don’t realize they have been assaulted immediately.  This does not make what happened to them less of a crime.  The second is the overwhelming and pervasive victim shaming and blaming that goes on in our culture of which Mr. Will has so eloquently and graciously provided an example.  The reality for survivors is a far cry from any coveted privilege.  Rather it is an anxiety ridden time filled with despair and self loathing which is only coupled by prevalent public shaming and ridicule.

The only privilege I have ever seen associated with being a survivor of violence against women is SURVIVING because there are many women who don’t.  But then, they were probably all asking for it too, right Mr. Will?

There is a reason the #YesAllWomen campaign exists.

I’d just like to ask Mr. Will when the last time was that he felt he needed to carry mace?  A rape whistle?  How about have an escort walk him to his car (for protection, not as a paid service)? Watch his drink to avoid getting roofied?  Or watch his alcohol intake in general? … the list goes on and on.

My point is, George Will, that you have a lot to learn about the other half of the population before you start accusing us of lying to seek out a privileged victimhood.  Walk a few miles in our shoes and then come back and tell us how coveted it is to be a survivor of sexual assault or violence against women in general.

PS.  Just in case you think this backward thinking is an isolated incident, check out this other gem from the Washington Post.  They have concluded that the answer to ending violence against women is to marry… which someone should have told my ex husband because I’m pretty sure he became physically violent after we were married.  He must not have read their article.

Enough! Recap and Taking On the Bucket List

“If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster,

your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.”
-Les Brown

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Back when I wrote about My Grown Up Bucket List, I never imagined how quickly I would be crossing items off it.  Today I did just that!  Last week I signed up for the Enough! Race to End Domestic Violence much in the same manner as I signed up for the Lavery McDermott Race To End Domestic Violence– at the last minute.  Also as with the Lavery/McDermott Race, I volunteered with CT-ALIVE and staffed a table pre & post race to give the crowd information about the work we do and our mission to empower women to take the step from survivor to Thriver.

Initially, I was a little worried about running today because the temperature was supposed to be a record 70 degrees… which is a great deal warmer than what it has been recently and not exactly the most comfortable temp for running.  After distinctly thinking how much happier I would be with a cooler run at 50 degrees, I got in my car to find the temp was exactly 50.  I decided at that point that the universe and I were in line, and it would be a great day.  I was not disappointed!  

Since I have been tapering for my ultra next weekend, my body was not as run down from training as it typically is.  I also had plenty of time to sleep in and hydrate (after my 15 hr shift the day before) because the start wasn’t until 10 am.  This probably contributed to the great mood I woke up in.  For some reason, I just felt completely ready to rock it.

My good vibes continued when I arrived to check in without any issues, traffic, or difficulty with parking, and found my race number had not one, but two sevens in it!  Seven is my lucky number!  (Don’t ask me why, it just is…)   I took this as a definite positive sign.  The 50 degree temp and double sevens could not be coincidence… not as far as I was concerned anyway…

ImageBeyond just being pumped that the race was for a great cause (one especially near and dear to my heart… as we all know), I was excited to see the some other ladies from CT-ALIVE and catch up.  Since becoming a supervisor, my work schedule has made it difficult to keep up with a lot of the going ons and meetings with the board.  Both Susan Omilian, our project director and “My Avenging Angel Workshop” facilitator, and Vanessa Stevens of the Purple Song Project were there, so I had a chance to chat with them.  Susan is the woman who helped me rediscover myself after abuse; and Vanessa is a fellow domestic abuse survivor and thriver who has been a constant source of inspiration and support.  It was great to see them both. I was excited to hear that Susan is interested in guest blogging here, so stay tuned for what I am sure will be an inspiring post!

As far as the race, the course was the hilliest 5K I have ever run!  The first mile and a half was basically all up hill, and then second half was up and down.  The were essentially no flat parts.  It was brutal!  But the support from the volunteers and crowd at the finish were great and almost made up for the quad busting course.  Races that are put on for good causes always have an awesome vibe and this was no exception!

Starting the race, my legs were not feeling as fresh as I had hoped… but then I wouldn’t recommend working a 15 hr shift the day before a timed run. lol  I still managed to maintain what felt like a strong and steady pace in spite of the hills.  At the start when my legs didn’t feel great I told myself that “The first mile is a liar.”  Once I reached the first mile marker and saw I was at 7:20, I was pretty pleased.  

In general, I view the last 5K of a half marathon as the final stretch, so my mantra during this entire race was “I’m in the final stretch.”  When I felt crummy, I compared it to the last 5K of a half marathon and then ran harder.  At the halfway point I was congratulated by a volunteer for being the “3rd female overall.”  HOLY COW!  I have never seeded that high in a race before!

I held my position until the last mile when another two ladies managed to pass me.  I was bummed to lose out on my top three position, but knew I was running as hard as I could.  I reminded myself that was all that mattered.  In the last half mile I saw Vanessa singing on the course and yelled to her.  I knew I was almost done and was so happy to see a familiar face!  The finish came up quickly and I secured a time of 24:30.  I knew I was 5th overall for the women, which is the highest I have ever finished in a race.  

Then came a bigger surprise!  They announced me as first in my age group!!!! YES! Bucket List Item Checked!!!! I even got a little plaque to commemorate my achievement.  It was epic.

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The hubs and I celebrated by going out for lunch and then ice cream, which is normally a treat I reserve for finishing half marathons. In this case though, I thought it was well earned.

In other epic news:

Sole Sister Brook Kreder of Brook’s First Marathon asked to share my story on her blog… which is hilariously awesome and you should read it btw… and not just because she featured me either. Her escapades literally make me laugh out loud.   

Cha-Cha-Changes

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.

For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

-Margaret Mead
 
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You may have noticed that the blog (and Facebook page… and Twitter) are looking a bit different these days.  As it turns out, spending a few days too sick to move off the couch gave me a chance to give my social media presence a much needed facelift.  At some point I’d like to have a more professional and unified logo; but for now, I think I did a pretty good job on my own (if I do say so myself… and I do 😉 ).  It’s all part of my master plan for global Thriver domination.  Step 1: personalize social media, Step 2: expand social media presence, Step 3: network with other kick ass peeps, Step 4: write and publish book, Step 5: Thriver Global Domination.   
 
Sounds easy, right?  Okay, but in all seriousness I do want to want to achieve most of those things.  Doing all of them would be nice too. 😉  Why?  Because the more I expand, the more people I can reach.  That means not only having the potential opportunity to inspire and empower other people to achieve their dreams, but also inspiring and empowering other victims of violence.  One of the main reasons I started this blog was to offer hope to those survivors of abuse who still hadn’t found their way back to dreaming and aspiring for a better life.  I also wanted to show the masses that abuse can happen to anyone, and so can a meaningful and fulfilling life after abuse.  This is my outlet to prove that enduring and surviving abuse is nothing anyone should be ashamed of… EVER.  Rather, it should serve as a badge of honor as a testament to just how tough we are as a population.  We didn’t crumble or succumb.  We picked up the pieces and rebuilt our lives after surviving mental and physical warfare.  Who has the ability to wound you better than someone who has a grip on your heart?  No one, that’s who.  Yet, we survived, we endured, and we are here to support each other.
 
I am be one person, but I am someone, and that someone is determined to bring about change.  I may not be able to do much, but IImage can do something.  Maybe my reach will never be global.  Maybe #thrive on will never catch on.  However, if I can impact just a few lives, even a handful, and then they are able to reach a few more people… you can see how far a ripple effect can reach.  As much as I would love to inspire every person on this earth to go chase their dreams and educate every individual on the planet about the dangers and impact of domestic violence, I could settle for even a few.
 
Sometimes I wonder if anyone out there actually reads the content I put into my posts, or whether people just like posts based on the photos.  Then every once in a while I will catch a Facebook post or (more recently) a retweet, and there is a part of me that’s surprised (while my heart sings and does a little happy dance in my chest).  Then again, that is the goal, right? To reach people.  All I can do is hope… and work, and continue to pour my heart and soul into this blog… and then hope some more that somewhere it is making a difference for someone. 😉
 
In an effort to expand my empire reach, I have actually started to learn how to use my Twitter account @RunningThriver.  You may have noticed my fancy new Twitter widget…  I also have started an Instragram account, but am still a LOONNNG way off from getting the hang of using it.  I did manage my first post tonight… it was a picture of my dinner.  Uber exciting, right?  I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have kids to embarrass with my lack of tech savviness yet. 😉 
 
I also applied to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador because sweat and pink sounds like a perfect combination to me.  I also think the fact that they are all about kicking ass and supporting and empowering women is pretty groovy too.  Oh, and a bunch of my Toughie Sistas at Tough Chik are doing it, so that’s enough proof for me that they must be pretty darn awesome.  I’m pretty sure they need to accept me too because I already did a post on rejection… just sayin.  
 
ImageLastly, I recently got an email from Run Inspired (LOVE their website… Running, Inspirational Stories… I am soooo sold!) that said something to the effect of “YOU ARE INSPIRING!” (I’m paraphrasing).  Apparently, this love affair is mutual, and I was invited to fill out a questionaire for their site.  Take that Fitfluential! Someone else thinks I’m inspiring, so there! jk  Joking aside, I will keep you all posted on how that goes.
 
In the meantime, I would like to invite you all to share your thriver stories.  I want to start sharing some on the blog and eventually want to start a permanent page for them.  You can include your name and pictures if you wish or write anonymously.  You can even include links back to your own pages.  What I want is to build a Thriving community here.  You don’t necessarily have to be a survivor of abuse.  Anyone choosing to thrive instead of just surviving life is welcome. 🙂
 
You can submit your story to runningthriver@gmail.com.
 
Survivors of abuse can learn more about Susan Omilian’s  “My Avenging Angel Workshops” and how to become a Thriver here.
 
#thriveon

Short and Long Term Goals

“Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.”
-Christine Todd Whitman

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For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to help.  It didn’t matter who needed it or what it involved, I just wanted to be useful.  Maybe that is why I picked a career in medicine.  What better choice for an occupation than to take care of people all day who need it?  Yet, even spending my days taking care of other peoples needs and having the occasional opportunity to help save a life were not enough to calm the feeling of needing to do more to make a difference.

I have never been quite sure of what type of difference I’m supposed to be making in this word exactly, but what I do know is ImageI wake up every morning with a burning need to do more.  After the abuse, I channelled a lot of this energy into raising money and awareness for victims of domestic violence through CT-ALIVE and the Running for Color Purple Campaign.  While working with CT-ALIVE has given me an opportunity to do some good, I still feel like it’s not enough.  I don’t want to just raise money for victims of violence, I want to interact with them and give them hope.  More than that, I want to prevent women from becoming victims.  This has lead to me really evaluate what I want to do with this blog and my life.

I have the luxury with my current job of having 4 days off from work a week.  That gives me plenty of time to work with for accomplishing my other goals and dreams.  I know I want to make a difference in the world, and I specifically know I want to make a difference for victims of domestic violence.  What I need to workout is a game plan.  My work with CT-ALIVE and this blog have been a good start, but I think it’s time to branch out.  For starters, I have been putting more energy into my blogging and have recently begun putting myself out there.  I joined Team Tough Chik, which I am actually pretty excited about, and have also applied to be an ambassador for Fitfluential and RunKeeper.  I think all of these offer a great opportunity to get my message out there as well as get connected to companies I already utilize and believe in.

The other thing I am looking to accomplish is to put together a talk/program about dating and domestic violence that I can give at local colleges.  I met my abuser in college and knew nothing about domestic violence or the warning signs at the time.  If I can share my story and prevent young women from walking blindly into a dangerous situation, then I will have accomplished something truly fulfilling.  I think educating the masses about the myths and misconceptions of domestic violence is essential erasing the stigma of abuse and preventing more victims.  Abuse thrives in silence, and my goal is to Imageshine a spot light on it and open some dialogue.

Therefore, dating/domestic violence awareness talk has been added to my list of short term goals, along with improving my swimming and cycling, and training for a Half Ironman.  While these things may seem completely unrelated, for me, training and abuse are closely related.  After all, training for races is what made me feel empowered after abuse.  Gaining strength and endurance helped me build my confidence and feel safe again.  Plus, pushing myself through training and exercise while overcoming my past abuse is what I started this blog about in the first place.  Although at most times this blog is more about kicking ass than dealing with abuse, the history of abuse is part of who I am and what drives me to be a better, stronger, smarter woman.

If I am able to complete the Half Ironman, and someday a full Ironman, it will be at least in part due to the strength I’ve gained from my past experience with domestic violence.  It will also serve as a further example that anything is possible in life even after abuse.  My ultimate long term goal is to write a book about my experience with overcoming abuse.  I think finishing a full Ironman beforehand would make the message even more powerful… Not to say that if I never get to the point of doing an Ironman that I wouldn’t still write one, but wouldn’t it be awesome if I could?

In the meantime, I will get back to swim classes and spinning… and maybe writing a talk. 🙂