thriver

#TutuGate

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”
– Bette Davis

(Well I guess I am about to be a biotch then….Love you Bette!)

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So given that you are all living and breathing (if not, we may need to talk), you have most likely heard about the recent debacle with SELF Magazine (no free linking for you SELF, you are on my sh*t list!).  Just in case you missed it, SELF Magazine decided to go the route of Miley Cyrus and this chick (who shall remain nameless because what she did is not cute or “witty” in my opinion… especially the part where she insults the other runners and “rent a cop” hired to keep the race safe) and gain notoriety through the path of infamy.  The difference between SELF and Miley however, is what SELF did was a lot more offensive than twerking at the VMA’s.  Instead of just embarrassing themselves, they attempted to take shot at a brain cancer survivor who makes tutus to raise money for Girl’s on the Run.  Dude, seriously…. I mean seriously?

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In the process they managed to offend and let’s face it piss off a good chunk of the running community and the population in general.  I mean, what kind of Supposedly-Pro-Women magazine takes shots at WOMEN?  Better yet, how about taking shots at women doing something to EMPOWER themselves?  Well done SELF!  I admit that I am no expert in running (no pun intended) a magazine, but I am pretty sure that insulting your audience is not generally considered a great idea.

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FYI SELF Magazine

Beyond that, SELF magazine makes some other fatal errors (like not noticing “Die Tumor Die” on the race bib… again seriously?)  For starters, they assumed that people wear tutus to “run faster”?  I just can’t keep writing “seriously”….  Clearly this magazine is not written by people who even remotely understand the running community (I realize I am stating the obvious here).  You would think a women’s magazine of all places would understand the concept of fashion over function!   Anyone who has ever run in a tutu can tell you it is certainly not for the purpose of going faster.  Tutus are itchy and get stuck between your legs.  They are not even remotely comfortable to run in.  Hmmmm… so if not to run faster then why?

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How about running in a tutu to raise attention and money for a causemaybe like the women that SELF attempted to humiliate?  Or how about wearing a tutu to remind oneself to have fun, to gain extra support from the spectators, to distract oneself and other runners from the pain, to celebrate being feminine and strong.  Holy cow! There are so many reasons someone might choose to wear one.  I can’t believe “run faster” was the only one an intelligent publication (I’m assuming here) like SELF could think up.

Furthermore, how about the fact that they only pictured women in tutus running, when it is a well know fact that plenty of men also will don a tutu for a good cause (and just to get a laugh is a plenty good cause in my book!) They also neglect to mention all the other crazy attire runners wear to “run faster”, including but not limited to: colorful knee socks (with or without attached capes), clothes with ruffles, body paint, an occasional speedo, and full on costumes.

What I am basically trying to say here is SELF totally missed the boat.  They were so quick to make a joke out of these women that they missed the powerful statement they were making that day. Instead of embracing a opportunity to inspire an encourage their readers with an amazing story of fortitude and perseverance, they completely overlooked what these women had to offer.

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Perhaps there is a lesson we can all take home from this.  Not everyone wears their scars visibly in this life.  Nor do we all flaunt our best attributes.  All SELF needed to do was ask these women why they choose to run in super hero costumes and they not only could have avoided this public embarrassment, but also uncovered an inspiring story of just how much a woman can overcome and accomplish (while looking completely adorable in the process).

Don’t be like SELF.  Be a woman (or man) who empowers others, not tears them down.  And the next time you consider purchasing a tutu, consider supporting Glam Runner.  You’ll not only look fabulous, but support a great cause in the process.

Repect the Tutu

Some other posts on #TutuGate

http://fitandfeminist.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/lay-off-the-women-in-running-tutus-and-that-includes-you-self/

http://apeaceofmysole.blogspot.com/2014/03/self.html

http://workouttowineglass.com/2014/03/27/tutugate/

My Most Recent Girl Crush

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important

as what you become by achieving your goals.”
-Henry David Thoreau 

I love women.  No, not in a sexual way (no offense, you are all very attractive). Rather, in a NOTHING inspires me more than a woman kicking serious ass (hence my girl crush on The Everyday Warrior… go read her blog then you’ll understand) sort of way.  That is why I cannot help but be completely blown away by Diana Nyad.

At 64 she chased a dream that no one, not even her own team, believed she could achieve.  It was her self belief that carried her through when everyone else was certain she would fail (a true testament to how important self belief is!)  However, it’s not the fact that she achieved her goal that so deeply impressed me.  It was the fact that she FAILED 4 TIMES BEFORE SHE SUCCEEDED.  This, my friends, is a women after my own heart.  This is a woman who does not let obstacles stand in the way of her dreams: not strong currents, not weather, not jellyfish, or sharks… and certainly not failure.

Now that I have gotten into swimming, I have a true appreciation for just how hard and how much work it is.  I am completely mind blown that this woman was able to swim from Cuba to Florida without any rest, while in a protective suit that reduced her mobility no less.  It over took 3 days.  I can barely swim 100 meters without a break…in a pool…during the day…without a current.  This woman swam the span of an ocean night and day in one of the strongest currents on the planet.  I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for her.

Hats (or swim caps) off to Diana Nyad for being an Uber Badass to the nth degree!

I’m Sexy and I Know It

A great figure or physique is nice, but it’s self-confidence that makes someone really sexy.
Vivica Fox 
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Ok fellow thrivers, I told you all I would keep you updated on my progress with the Get Fit Challenge, and that is what I am here to do!  Today was our second weigh in.  The Hubs is down 8 lbs and I am down 4 lbs (to 140) from last week.  I think most of it is primary due to water weight, especially given we both ran for an hour beforehand.  However, I am pretty sure that it’s reflective of some progress.  I have to admit that I have not been particularly focused on losing weight.  I have been focused on eating healthier.  I gave up caffeine (including Diet Coke!… *tear) and have been trying to avoid processed foods and refined sugars.  Instead, I’m getting in more protein and fresh produce.  I have to say it’s a lot easier to eat “clean” with the hubs on the same page.  He bought a juicer and is also on a healthy eating kick.

ImageI certainly don’t feel any different yet. Nor do I think I look any different, but then I was never worried about changing my appearance.  I don’t think a number on a scale is an accurate measure of health for me anyway.  Most people are shocked to hear how much I weigh because I apparently don’t look 140 lbs (not sure exactly what 140 lbs is supposed to look like, but I guess it’s not petite).  What can I say? I’m dense… literally.  I worked hard for all that muscle, so I’m not about to sweat if my BMI doesn’t coincide with my fitness level.  

More importantly that number on the scale does reflective what my body can do.  I ran my first 50 K at my heaviest weight ever, which happens to be my current weight.  At the time, I was working out with a trainer 3 days a week AND running, cycling, and training on my own.  I don’t think my body could have carried me through that kind of terrain and mileage without gaining muscle mass and strength.  Plus, I truly believe all that cross training kept me injury free.  My point is, I can do things with my body now that I couldn’t do when I was “thinner” and lighter.  I can do chin ups, knee tucks while balancing on medicine balls, and workouts my trainer’s other clients can handle.  Why? Because I have MUSCLES and I WORK HARD.  Furthermore, I am proud of what my body can do.  Every achievement is a testament to the amount of effort I’ve put in, from hours at the gym to what I put in my mouth.

I don’t need to be the fittest, hottest, or most attractive girl out there.  I just need to know that I am doing my best.  I am not working out to be sexy.  I already am sexy- whether I’m 120 lbs or 150 lbs!  I am sexy because I am driven, passionate, and know who I am.  To me, self confidence is sexy.  Pushing limits, working up a sweat, and being willing to roll up your sleeves and get dirty is sexy.  

Sexy is like happiness.  It doesn’t come from someone else.  You don’t need anyone else to make you feel sexy.  It doesn’t come from skin baring photos and likes and comments on Facebook.  It’s something that comes from within, and it comes with self love and self acceptance.  People who have it don’t need to flaunt it; rather, it emanates from within them.  It’s in their smile and their walk.  It’s in the way they treat other people.  

Let me tell you all a secret.  While I may be “thin” and able to fit in a zero or size 2 (dress, for sure not pants!) I still have stretch marks, cellulite, love handles, and rolls when I sit.  Want to know another secret? I am ok with it.  Most women do.  Sure, I could concentrate on getting thinner, but that wouldn’t help the stretch marks or cellulite; and frankly, my hip bones stick out enough.  These are not things that detract from beauty.  These “flaws” are part of who I am and a body that has achieved more psychically than I ever thought possible.  What’s more, when I mentioned my stretch marks the other day to my husband he seemed genuinely surprised and said he never even noticed.  So maybe, just maybe, we ladies can be a little too hard on ourselves.

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Me on my bike trainer… pretty sexy, right?

Sure I have days when I feel like “a busted can of biscuits” or just unattractive in general, but then I go for a run or get in a workout.  It never fails that within minutes that feeling vanishes… not because I’m “fixing the problem,” but rather because I’m changing my perspective.  What do I care about waking up bloated if I can still run over 30 miles or dead lift my body weight?  

Today, for example, I ran 7 miles in under an hour, completed the workout of the month at the gym (10 pushups, 20 knee tucks, 30 sec plank, 20 knee tucks, 10 pushups twice through all with feet in the TRX), and did an hour on the bike trainer.  How could I hate my body after all of that?

As someone who started this blog as a way to advocate for and inspire women, I want to do more than just encourage women (and men) to go out and chase after their dreams.  I want to let them know they are beautiful, clever, lovable, and sexy.  I want to demonstrate that these are qualities we need to find and appreciate in ourselves before we expect anyone else to.  Every person has his or her own unique mystique and quirks.  Instead of trying to conform to other peoples’ expectations of how to look and behave, we should all spend our energy on accepting ourselves and celebrating our individuality.  Furthermore, we should love our bodies for what they allow us to do rather than pick apart all the parts we don’t like.  Instead of viewing ourselves as having this or that flaw, let’s all embrace the total package.  

After all, you are a pretty amazing human being. 🙂

Repeat after me: I am sexy!    

Now say it and mean it!

PS. That is my new Tough Chik tank in the photo!  YEA!!!! I got my gear 🙂  Still need to spend that gift card though.  Hang Tough Thrivers!!!!

 

Taking a Slow Day

“Slow down you’re doing fine 
You can’t be everything you want to be 
Before your time.” 
–Billy Joel

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Last night I worked the second shift.  I woke up after only 4 hours of sleep and headed to spin class despite still be exhausted and having a sore throat.  The thing is, this morning was Motown Morning and l LOVE the Thursday morning instructor.  I had already planned my whole day around this class, and I didn’t want to miss it.  The class was GREAT!  It was a Motown-Music-Spin-Sing-A-Long!  The actual singing part was a little difficult given the workout was rolling hills, and we were all out of breath.  Our instructor, on the other hand, who had given up her bike at the front to make room for another member in class, spent the entire class dancing, singing, and shouting out workout.

The thing I love about her classes is that she LOVES music and goes out of her way to pair the cadence of the ride with the beat of the Imagesongs so everything is timed perfectly.  She also clearly loves life.  I think that is why her class is so popular.  If you arrive only 10 minute early (YES early, not late…At 5:20 in the morning mind you!), you will be saddened to find no bikes available.  That is because her class is worth dragging yourself out of bed at 4 in the morning…in the dark…in the cold.

That is why I didn’t want to miss it.  Sure, going on 4 hours of sleep and no breakfast (because I didn’t feel well enough to eat it) were probably not a great idea.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying either.  However, class was A LOT of fun, and I survived without a problem.  I did make it a point not to push myself as hard as I might have otherwise.  Regardless, though, by the time I got home I felt like crap again…. which was a problem because I had to meet with the trainer at 9am. 

I thought about canceling, but since today was supposed to be upper body I figured I could just eat and muddle through it.  Unfortunately for me, it turned out to be core today… which sucked royally!  It was my own fault for mentioning at our last session that I was having low back pain and thought my core probably needed more work.  Since we did tons of plank work in that workout I really didn’t expect core again this week.  I was WRONG.  The good news is the hubs came along too, so I wasn’t suffering alone.  Plus, he was struggling even more than I was.  That made me feel slightly better, but it was still frustrating.

I had to take a minute and remind myself that I already did almost 22 miles of hills at spin already this morning… ON TOP OF all the running, spinning, and lifting (including core work) that I’ve already done this week.  Of course my legs (along with everything else!) felt like lead!  Of course I was struggling!  I had punished my body all week, and now I was expecting peak performance on 4 hours of sleep.  Yeah, it wasn’t happening.  I did finish the workout, but I had to take A LOT of breaks.  I wasn’t able to do any of the exercises for a full minute without pauses.  My quads were fried from spin.  My shoulders were still done from power cleans and core 2 days ago, and my entire body was in rebellion… so I went home and took a nap.  No run today.  In fact, I also skipped out on my swim this morning.

Instead of a rest day, I’m going to consider today a “slow day”: as in slow down and take a breath.  Sometimes I get so caught up in pursuing goals and becoming the best and fittest version of myself that I forget it’s okay not to go full tilt every second of every day.  While it is great to have aspirations, they shouldn’t consume my whole life.  Part of being the best version of me is finding balance.  Today I dragged myself out of bed to workout first thing this morning (the morning part is actually debatable).  The rest of the day I’ll spend chillaxin… or at least, I’ll do my best at it.  😉

Bimbler’s Bluff Recap

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
-Colin Powell 

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I am a firm believer that with persistence, anything is possible.  That might have been what lead me to sign up for the Bimbler’s Bluff 50K in the first place.  It seemed to be one of those things where the planets are in alignment and everything just falls into place… although I never could have anticipated upon signing up just how true that would be.

I needed a race to run as a fundraiser for CT-ALIVE this year, and having done attempted the Ultra Beast last year, it had to be something that would test my limits.  Ever since the Ultra Beast, I had considered doing an ultra.  I had already done a marathon, so it seemed like the next logical step.  Plus, the Bimbler’s Bluff was a bargain at $50!

BLQ-tommy-lasordaDetermination-Quotes-for-Blog-300x300Since I was not super successful with my fundraising last year, this year I redoubled my efforts.  I made an event page, sent emails, and continuously begged for money on Facebook.  The fact that I had selected a race roughly 33 miles in length worked to my favor as I had people who offered to make donations in my memory just in case I didn’t survive.  (Thanks for the vote of confidence guys)  My goal was for this year $500, but I well exceeded it making for my most lucrative fundraising year yet!  That only made me more pumped for the race.

The other exciting thing about my big run this year was that a friend of mine (Vanessa from The Purple Song Project) put me in touch with Lana Ives from Ives International Film.  It turned out that Lana is working on a documentary involving stories of inspiring people.  She had read my blog and thought I fit the bill.  She asked if she could meet me at the race and interview me before the start.  She also said I could have copies of the film and images for my own personal use (i.e. for my blog- so stay tuned!).  Beyond the shock that someone would be inspired enough by my blog to want to involve me in a documentary, I realized that this was an AMAZING opportunity.  If my mission with this blog is to inspire people to go out and live their dreams, especially after abuse, then there was no way I could not accept.

Upon arriving at the race, I found Lana and her assistant at the check in.  I was beyond stoked to find not only that the race shirts were fluorescent orange, but that the race bibs were orange as well! I took this as a good sign because, as we all know, orange is my favorite color. Even better, the bib had my name on it- which meant the runners and volunteers would be cheering for me by name!  Anyone who has run a race with your name on the bib knows exactly what I am talking about here.  Plus, it made for better conversation on the course given we all had name tags.

As far as the actual race, I don’t even know where to start.  Trail runners are such a special breed.   When you sign up and arrive at a trail run, you sign up for more than a race.  Rather, you have signed up to be a part of a community, and it’s clear from the moment you arrive.  Bimbler’s Bluff was no exception.  There was a palpable sense of good will.  When the national anthem wouldn’t play, two runners stepped forward and sang it beautifully.  However, they didn’t sing it alone because almost immediately the whole field joined in.  It was a perfect way to start, and then we were off.

The early part of the course consisted of rolling hills, which are my favorite to run.  I picked a comfortable pace and stuck with it the whole way.  I only stopped to walk if a hill was particularly steep.  I plugged along while everyone else passed me, and before long I was convinced there was no one left to go by.  I didn’t particularly mind.  After all, it was nice to see another person occasionally, and I figured most of them had far more experience with ultras than me anyhow.

The first real challenge of the race was that markers were not that easy to spot.  The red and white tape blended with the foliage in some places and required a lot of attention not to miss them… which many people (myself included!) did… repeatedly.   (Might I offer a humble suggestion of lime green or fluorescent pink next year?)  This was good in the sense that it gave me something to concentrate on; however it made it difficult to watch my footing resulting in several good tumbles.  I caught my toe on and tripped over more rocks than I could count!  I was thrilled when I arrived at the first aid station and plowed through it on to the next one.

The second section of the course had areas that were so steep and treacherous that they were really more conducive to 1394469_10151653824057397_1418743311_nhiking climbing than running… unless you’re part mountain goat.  I did my best to run whatever I could safely and was still feeling good when I hit aid station #2.  I called out my number to the volunteers and headed up a near vertical ascent.  I found Lana on the way up, and she asked how I was feeling.  I told her I was still doing ok and scaled upwards.  My reward was a magnificent view from the top!  The rest of that section seemed to span on forever, and I was sincerely doubting my ability to finish before the cutoff… or finish at all… when I arrived at station #3.  Lana, again, was there waiting for me and she even jogged down the street with me asking me questions as I crossed back onto the course.  I asked the staff at the station how much longer to the next one (which I mistakingly thought was the last one) and they said another 6 miles.  Elated by this news, I blasted past them and they called after me that they had cookies and didn’t I want something to eat.

The next section, again, seemed to stretch on forever.  This was at least in part due to the fact that I hadn’t realized I was out of water until after I started it.  My legs were no longer cooperating and the down hills were worse than up.  At some point I ran a whole extra hill because I had missed a marker.  I thought about taking the ibuprofen I brought with me, but I didn’t want to risk injuring myself by blocking out the pain.  Then I rolled my ankle and landed on it. I was relieved to find at least that it wasn’t badly sprained, and I could still walk on it.  I figured I should enjoy what was left of the race because it could be a good amount of time before I’d be running on it again.  When I did finally arrive at the 4th aid station I found Adam.  He had ridden his bike from home to greet me.  I asked if would make it back in time to see me finish, and he said it would be no problem because I still had 11 miles to go.  The volunteer confirmed this information by telling me I did a great job and was 22 miles in.  I was crushed because I had thought that there were only 4 aid stations with 8 miles left after the last one.  I truly thought that extra 3 miles was going to kill me.  Then Adam filled my hydration pack more than I needed despite my protests.

In spite of the fact that the volunteers were wonderful and supportive, I left that aid station feeling totally defeated.  My pack was the heavier now than it ha been when I started, and I had 3 extra miles to go on top of the eight mile section ahead of me.  Judging by the amount of time it had taken me to complete the last section, I thought for sure that I would never make it past the next cutoff.  It was definitely my lowest point in the race.  The one thing that worked in my favor was that there were not a lot of uphills on that segment. In fact, it was primarily downhill; and I was able to push through 8 miles in 2 hours.  I saw Lana shortly before the last aid station and called out to her “I’m smiling because if you’re here then I’m almost done!”  I stopped briefly at that last aid station- just long enough to say thank you and grab some gummy bears.  They were the most delicious I have ever tasted in my life!  I headed into my last 3 miles on a high.  It was only 4:30 PM, and I knew I could walk the rest of the way and still make it.

However, having run everything but the worst hills up to this point, I was determined to keep going.  Besides, if I was running to inspire and raise money for victims of domestic violence, I was certainly not going to give them anything less than my best.  Plus, I wanted nothing more than to be finished as soon as possible!  So I kept running, despite the fact that my running resembled stumbling more than actual running.  I was emotional on the last section because it was the first time I knew that I could do it: the finish was within my grasp.  I thought of all the hard work and 6 long months of training I had put in to get to this point; and I thought of all the women I was doing this for.  This was not a victory just for me, this was a victory for us.  All those women who were told over and over that they couldn’t accomplish or handle anything, who 564089_10151653823952397_1516264909_nhad their self worth stripped from them the way I did- it was a victory for them.

When I did finally see the finish, I sprinted to it as fast as my legs would carry me.  The people who were there erupted in cheers (not just for me, but for every runner).  Lana was there at the finish, and I told her I couldn’t believe it was over.  She asked if she could give me a hug and I was more than happy to accept it, though I did warn her that I was pretty sweaty.  She asked asked me some additional questions, and then we waited or Adam to arrive (because he underestimated how quickly I would get through my last 11 miles!).  When the race director offered me my glass (and it’s a pretty nifty glass too!) for finishing, I had actually forgotten we were supposed to get anything.  To me, the reward was just in the experience.  I spent the whole day doing something I absolutely love, in good company, with great volunteers, and raised money and awareness for domestic violence in the process.  What more could a girl ask for?

Now that it’s all over, I’m still in disbelief that I did it.  Even more than that, I can’t even begin to process how much love and support I have had for this race.  I don’t think I could have pushed through the pain for as long as I did had I not had so many people rooting for me.  Being someone as independent as I am, I am not used to asking for help… or for anything for that matter.  However, when it came to my fundraising race this year, the response was more than I could have ever imagined.  I am so blessed to have the people I do in my life, from my amazing husband who sacrificed his sleep yesterday to drive me to and from the race and cheer me on, to my awesome family and mom who left me cupcakes for when I got home, to my trainer who kicked my butt for 6 months and helped me become the strongest physically that I have ever been, to all my friends, coworkers, and fellow CT-ALIVE board members, and Arch Angels who offered words of encouragement and made donations.  I dont’ know what I did to deserve to have so many wonderful people in my life, but I am truly grateful for each and every one of them!

My New Home and the Next Step

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
-Lao Tzu 

 

 

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Sadly, I am almost finished with the last of my training sessions.  :’-(  As it worked out, they wrap up just in time for the Bimbler’s Bluff 50K.  I think I can safely say that I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I’m hoping that will be enough to carry me through what I know will be a grueling run.  As an added incentive to hang in there, I have asked the women I am fundraising for to write some notes of encouragement that I can carry with me and read when I’m exhausted and want nothing more than to quit.  More than just having the letters to read, it will mean beyond I can even express in words to have them with me through the day.  It’s a tangible reminder to why I will be there.  Plus, I also feel like it’s a great symbolic gesture to carry them (the women, not the notes) with me on that day to overcome the challenge together. After all, our strength is drawn from our sense of community.  In reality, I think it might be the thrivers who will truly being carrying me through the day and not the other way around… 

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My cool new swimming gear!

Despite all the initial drama with my trainer, I have to admit that he has kind of grown on me… sort of like a little brother who annoys the hell out of you but you love him anyway...  Once we had a chance to hash things out, we were able to build a pretty solid partnership; and I am truly bummed to see it end.  As much as I would love to continue training even on a once weekly basis, between the amount of time I’ll be spending on triathlon training and the need to cut back on expenses, I just don’t think it will be feasible the next few months.  I suppose I will have to resort to kicking my own butt for awhile.  At least it’s something we all know I have experience with.  Plus with all the swimming, biking, and running that is about to commence, I am hoping I won’t lose too much ground in the conditioning department.  Besides, I always have Insanity and P90X to fall back on for cross training… and my trusty pull-up bar. 😉

The positive part about my training ending is I now have the time and funds (well not really, but I’ll make it work) to start swimming.  Up until this point I have only known how to swim to avoid drowning, so I definitely have A LOT to learn… Possibly even more than with cycling. Maybe I should be more scared… Better yet, maybe the swim instructors should be!

However, I am determined and committed. (I would like to cite the fact that I found a swim suit, goggles, and swim cap all in the off season today as proof!) I have been trying to find an affordable place to swim with a flexible pool schedule for quite some time now, and let me tell you it has been no easy task!  Ultimately, we decided that the Greater Waterbury YMCA will be my new home- for at least the next 8 months anyway.  

I picked the Greater Waterbury YMCA over our local one because they have two pools instead of one and a way more flexibleImage lap swim schedule.  In fact, I don’t think there are any hours that they don’t allow lap swimming during the day.  They also have off street parking AND for some reason the membership was cheaper… which makes no sense because it’s all the same organization.  Anyway, now that we joined, we can go to either one so I guess it doesn’t really matter.  Adam had pushed for the YMCA over the other pools I looked at because they offer spin classes (in addition to a multitude of other classes which I’m kind of excited to try out… if I ever have spare time between all my other athletic endeavors).  They also just did a 10 million renovation so the facility itself is really nice, nicer than our current gym actually and with more equipment including bikes!

As sad as I am to close the chapter on my personal training, I am equally excited about taking the next step in my journey to becoming an ironman (or at least half of one)!  I already signed up for swimming lessons and am hoping to take my first one tomorrow after work.  I am happy that my new home is filled with friendly, helpful staff, AND that they have a triathlon club which starts up this winter.  I am really looking forward to taking on this next challenge and making another step in the direction of my goal… I just hope I don’t drown in the process 😉    

It’s October- And I’m on an Upswing

“If you give me any problem in America I can trace it down to domestic violence.

It is the cradle of most of the problems, economic, psychological, educational.”

-Salma Hayek

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Anyone familiar with this blog knows that October is an important time of year for me.  It’s the month in which I married my abuser (and the abuse escalated dramatically), and it’s also ,ironically, Domestic Violence Awareness Month… Clearly my ex had missed the memo.

Normally this time of year I find my PTSD symptoms tend to rev up.  I get jumpy, anxious, and depressed.  I don’t usually put together what’s going on until I’m well into the month, but this year is different.  This year I’m taking on October head on!  This year I am determined to live my life to the fullest!  I will not allow PTSD to rob the joy from my days.  This year I am determined to push myself to new limits and raise money and awareness for victims of violence in the process.

For the past several years, I have been choosing a race each fall to run as a fundraiser for CT-ALIVE (the charity I work with).  Susan Omilian and CT-ALIVE were there for me when I was struggling to move on with my life after abuse, and I can speak first hand to the value of the services they provide free of charge to victims of abuse. Rather than discuss what had happened in our past, Susan used her My Avenging Angel Workshops to help us rediscover our talents and establish goals.  She created a safe atmosphere where we could recognize that we were not alone and that abuse happened to women of all ages, ethnicity, and economic backgrounds.  We were all so different, and yet we all had an instant bond over what we had been through.  Instead of focusing on just getting women out of abusive relationships, the objective was instead on breaking the cycle of abuse.  By rediscovering our self worth, we were able to let go of the past and embrace the future.

I truly believe that the work CT-ALIVE funds saves lives, and not only the lives of these women, but also their children and their children’s children.  Children who grow up in abusive homes are far more likely to enter abusive relationships.  That is why ending the cycle of abuse is so important.

ImageAnd that is why raising money for CT-ALIVE and raising awareness is so important to me.  If I could change one thing that was the most damaging about the abuse, it was the reaction of the people who found out.  The comments about how “It takes two”, “There’s always two sides the the story”, and the people (primarily my abusers family) who just flat out called me a liar.  Not to mention the officer who made it a point to try to publicly humiliate me for reporting it, insisting I would just get back with my ex anyway so I was just wasting his time.  If I could educate just one person to how ignorant and damaging these types of statements are I would feel like my efforts have been worth while.  No one asks for or deserves to be abused, and they certainly don’t deserve to be blamed for it when it happens.  

I think it is unfortunate that we live in a society that is so bent on victim blaming.  If a women is raped, there is always the implication that she did something to provoke it.  We never stop to take a hard look at the perpetrators.  Somehow, they seem to escape blame in the public eye.  Where is the outrage when a man murders his wife and posts the photos on Facebook and then blames her for making him do it?  OR at the judge who over looked the mandatory sentence and only gave a man 30 days for raping a minor because he thought she looked older than her age?  Why are we as a nation not crying out for change?  One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime- ONE IN FOUR.  So why is domestic not in the news as a national epidemic the way obesity is?

In today’s society, it’s so easy to convince oneself that there is nothing we can do to change the way things are.  However, I refuse to believe that I cannot make a difference in this matter.  On October 20th, I will be lacing up my running shoes and taking on Bimber’s Bluff, a 50 K primarily self supported trail race in southern CT.  Every inch of that 33+ mile course I will be running for victims of abuse.  I want to show other women just how much they can accomplish in life after overcoming domestic violence.  I want to show the rest of the world that survivors of abuse are some of the strongest people on this planet.  Enduring and overcoming the 5+ years of mental and ultimately physical abuse was by far the hardest thing I have done in my life: harder than Yale, harder than PA school, harder than the Ultra Beast.  The fact that there are people out there who have suffered so much worse than I did and are still able to pick themselves up every morning and carry on is a testament to their strength- whether or not they realize it.

Every year I pick my hardest race as the fundraiser for CT-ALIVE, and I do it intentionally.  The people I am fundraising for Imagedeserve nothing less.  Furthermore, it is a reminder to myself every October of just how far I have come from that day I left in the pouring rain.  Every step of physical pain and exhaustion is a reminder of the psychological torment and suffering that I and other survivors of violence have endured.  It’s a reminder of what kind of strength it takes to endure abuse and how if my abuser didn’t break me, then nothing any race has to throw at me will.  I don’t know if I will complete Bimbler’s Bluff within the 10 hour times limit, but I do know that I won’t quit.  I also may just have the best motivator of anyone out there. 🙂

This month I would like to encourage you to go purple!  Do something to honor victims of domestic violence whether it is something as simple as wearing purple or making a donation to support a local charity.  Help spread the word that domestic violence is not ok and it is certainly not cool or funny.  After all, the person you are helping to make a difference for may be your own sister or daughter.

If you are interested in learning more about CT-ALIVE or donating to support Susan Omilian’s work you can check out our website.

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