Experienced But Not Easy – Cochran Mill Half Marathon

This weekend made 19 half marathons, 3 full marathons, a handful of 10 milers and 15Ks, 9 10Ks, and more 5Ks than I can count, and as much “experience” as I’ve had running, Saturday was the hardest day of competition that I can remember.

Every half marathon is memorable for one reason or the other. In 2014 I got to toe the line in front of our nations capital building watching the sunrise, in 2016 my first taste of runDisney magic at the Princess Half Marathon, in 2017 Rock N Roll Nashville supposedly my fourth full marathon became somewhere in the line of my half marathons because of the severe heat, and just this past May the torrential downpour unlike any other that swept across the coast of the Carolinas made for a sopping girl for all 13.1. They all have stories, but when it comes to strength and fatigue I think of the physical highs and lows. Saturday was different, Saturday was mental.

Trail running is something I regularly enjoy, maybe because the opportunity doesn’t present itself enough for me to get tired of it, but 5-6 miles has always been my max. Dirty Spokes is a GREAT trail race series around North Georgia and most of my trail experience is thanks to them. Of course, I thought with the trail experience I had coupled with my half marathon experience a trail half marathon would just make sense. I was wrong.

Let me preface this all by saying this was 100% worth it. Tony and Lisa at Peak Racing have been friends of mine for several years now and I love getting to support their races, they do a terrific job. But Saturday was hard, it was mentally grueling in every way.

The start was cold – like mid 30s cold – something we aren’t quite used to here in the south. My sweet husband was there at the start so I could throw off my layers at the last minute before we took off, and then it started. Taking off with the group towards the tree line was the easy part, and then leaves and trees everywhere you looked. The sun peaking in through the canopy as we winded through the woods, over hills, and through creeks (literally through them, adds about 10 lbs in weight with wet shoes), no mile markers, very few people: just you and the trail ahead.

When I say I roller-coastered through every emotion I am not joking in the slightest bit. The first mile or two were tough, but nothing I wasn’t used to. As I got into my stride and thinned out from the racers around me, the regular uncomfortable stretching happened, but then I found my legs and the pleasure of being out in the woods with very little distraction took hold and the smile danced on my face.  After 45 minutes I was mostly alone, scanning the vast opening in front of me to try to keep the trail in check with the two guys that were just a bit ahead, bad idea. Fall #1 happened somewhere around mile 6-7; at this point I was already feeling slightly drained. I was frustrated to say the least, no I was angry – I could tell my body was starting to fade, but my will power to keep at my current pace over took. Trip, slip, tumble, lose the trail: my pattern for the next 30-45 minutes and I was over it.

As much as I’ve raced and as tired as I’ve gotten, quitting has never been in my vocabulary. This was the first time I wanted to raise the flag in surrender and be rescued by helicopter and taken to the snacks at the end. Then I realized that I wasn’t getting out of this and it was a chance to challenge and strengthen myself mentally in a brand new way. So after taking a breath and a moment to refocus, I found my rhythm again and found the joy in the sport I’m so fond of. For the next 40 minutes I focused on my own steps, not those of the people ahead of me or behind me, but those right where I was. Taking steps slower if I needed to and allowing myself the freedom to push just as long as I could be safe and stay upright, and then I used the space to think of EVERYTHING I had to be thankful for. It made all the difference.

After 2 hours I was exhausted physically and mentally but I could hear the finish in the distance as people were cheering and music was blaring. I was “home free”, and at the end after hugging my friends and husbands necks – gratitude.

A few things I learned over those few hours:

  1. You have to stop focusing on where other people are, or you might face plant in the place you are.
  2. Just because you’ve done training in one way, doesn’t mean you can easily adapt to any circumstance. You have to train your mind, body, and soul in whatever goals you hope to achieve.
  3. I should run trails more often and always carry a handheld water bottle!

Thank you to Peak Racing Events (Tony & Lisa), Big Peach Running Co, Pure Kneads (can I get a whoop, whoop for gluten free peanut butter sandwiches at the end), Quest Nutrition, Nuun Hydration, Allison Lerer, Wade Coleman, Chris Dillon, and Jennifer Butz for everything you brought to the table as sponsors, hosts, and teammates!

And to my #1, my crew chief, and partner thanks for helping me through the highs and lows and letting our dogs have some fun in the process!

Trails taught me a lot, and I will be back!

Be thankful today friends.

Jordan

 

 

 

Trusting and Taking Care of Your Body In the Midst of Messy

Can you say stretched? Stretched into tears, stretched into more. The more is challenging, but the more is beautiful.

Saturday night was plain hard. Lying on my bed staring at the ceiling wondering “why?”. Why was the physical pain mounting as if the mental recovery and training wasn’t enough? After my box jumping injury from a few weeks ago and a strained tendon in my good leg, the resistance band to the eye was my breaking point.

Defeat. Lies. Pain.

It was a season of anything but stepping into the beauty He created me for, despite the work He still did. The good news: Autumn is here, and my top prayer is for a refresh. Refreshing in mind, spirit, and body, and confidence in my Savior and Creator. And He’s already on the move!

Our bodies are incredible, seriously think about all the intricate details that make up YOU, and how every single day they keep pumping, keep moving forward, make adjustments, heal, jump, celebrate, mourn, it’s a wonder. Our minds are that much more; the potential they hold that we most likely will never tap into is at our fingertips. However, whether you believe it or not, it’s there, and what if we all made the choice to reach towards our potential? We stopped focusing on what other people are doing and how they are succeeding or failing, and focused on how we can make this world better and more like Him, what if? But as someone who is coming out of a season messy, trusting that beauty lies ahead and putting mental pain and the grip of eating disorders at the feet of Jesus seems overwhelming. So it starts with trust.

Practically, in this season, it means giving my body the boost it needs and learning to trust it again, more importantly trusting God that He made me exactly the way He wanted me. It sounds a little daunting when the waters seem to rise, but like I mentioned above our bodies are a phenomenon, because our bodies were designed by the maker of EVERYTHING. So maybe we can jump into the more, trusting that He’s got us and has created us for remarkable things if we just put a few things disciplines in place to usher us forward.

Who doesn’t love a list? Here are a few things on taking this next step into the new season:

  1. Listen. During my season of Orthorexia and Excessive Exercise I stopped listening to my body even though it told me what it needed and when it needed nutrients. Our bodies were designed to ebb and flow in different rhythms, and like they alert us when we are sick, they alert us when something in our nutrition is off. Don’t ignore it. If you need carbs eat carbs; if you are full, but there is still good food around walk to another room or grab a water bottle. (More in depth blog post on this later).
  2. Cook. As the cold weather and holidays approach food becomes an increasingly hot topic of conversation, and whether it’s eating out every night or hitting the tailgates with all-you-can-eat chili and wings every Saturday you have to make time to get your body the correct nutrients. Sometimes that means saying “no” to yet another outing or offering to cook for friends at your place. We will all have “those” weeks, and if you feel like you just cannot make it work, make sure to have a supplement on hand especially as the Flu starts to rear it’s ugly head. Don’t find yourself depleted before the festivities even start.
  3. Drink Water. Hello my name is guilty. As the temperatures drop I find it even harder to get the water my body needs. In the Last 90 days Challenge with Rachel and Dave Hollis they challenge you to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. This is a great rule of thumb. The warm drinks are great, but only when water coexists with them!
  4. Go Outside. As much as I really despise the cold there is no doubting the beauty that can be found as the seasons turn and people hang decorations, or corn mazes make their debuts or Christmas Tree Farms start popping up. Never stop exploring and standing in awe of what’s in your own neighborhood.
  5. Dress Up. I know I know I love yoga and sweat pants too, but sometimes that only hinders activity and taking care of yourself. It’s a lot easier to grab the cookies out of pantry and stick close to home when you are comfy in sweats, coffee in hand, and Hallmark movies playing in the background. Give yourself a fighting chance. Put yourself together even if it’s just to run to the store, or get your nails done. Plan a hike with friends. Meet up at the local coffee shop with your girls. Get ready and go out.
  6. Gratitude First. In the post “Today I Feel Insignificant…” gratitude is a major theme, and it’s worth reiterating. 10 different things every day. Write them down. Don’t forget.
    • Number #1 for me yesterday: getting a love of Marvel from my dad so that our Monday mornings can start by catching up on the latest buzz. Not many people get the kind of relationship with their dads so taking it for granted is something I avidly try to avoid.

Maybe you don’t love or even agree with everything on this list, but even if there is just ONE thing on this list you can implement this season it will be a step. A step into beauty and potential.

Thank you for always reading!
Jordan

 

Fall Trail Running and Why It’s Breathtaking in More Than One Way

Half a mile down the paved trail the split comes and the dirt path displays on the right; the sun pierces through the holes in the canopy above, creating shadows of beauty in every direction. Crunch, crunch as my shoes stride deeper into the Chattahoochee National Forest. To my right is the faint sound of the river a hundred yards away, and all around is the whispering of the leaves talking to each other and the squirrels scurrying to bury their nuts as the cold weather will eventually encompass the beauty that surrounds you with each step.

It is so poetic, but it is also hard. The ground is uneven and hills will eventually meet you, spiders make their homes across the path as they’ve swung their webs from branch to branch. The colder and darker it gets, the harder it is to push go, and the miles you stretch are as much mental as they are physical, but the end is incredible. The moments of taking in Creation around you, of pushing yourself to new heights and depths, of gaining fresh perspective and a new sense of wonder.

The end is worth it.

However, you have to prepare, so here are a few tips of getting ready for trail running this fall:

  1. Map it out! Know where you are going and study the route – one of the last trail runs I was on the planned 5 miles suddenly became 9 miles because of getting lost in an attempt to just figure it out as we went.
    • Need a place to start – check out All Trails (web and app) for a great list of trails both near and far, hard and easy.
  2. Find your tribe. Safety, safety, safety. It’s best to find some people to hit the trails with you, however if you do decide to take it solo make sure to let at least 2 people know where you are going, how long you expect to be gone for, and always go to a populated area during
  3. Pack appropriately. Other than layering appropriately as it gets cooler – depending on where you go, trails can take a good bit longer and be a good bit harder than just hitting road miles, so your best bet is to buy a small pack that can house hydration, fuel, and a few essentials like band-aids, alcohol wipes, and pepper spray.
    • Nathan has some great options for belts and hydration vests.
  4. Don’t forget about footwear. While you might not want to spend a huge chunk on trail specific shoes, you do want shoes that will support you enough that when a root or rock tries to interfere you won’t go down. Go to a local running or outdoor store like Big Peach Running Co and talk to someone about the best options for you!
  5. Take time to stop and enjoy! As someone who just likes to go, trails bring out a different side of me, they slow me down and help me focus on the incredible details of creation around me. Snapping a few keepsake shots is one of favorite things to keep remembering my why!

Of course if you are competitive like me you might also want have a goal if you really desire to get better at trail running. If it suites your fancy check out Dirty Spokes and XTERRA trail series along with my friends at Peak Racing for races of every distance.

Overall just enjoy it, enjoy the leaves as they change color and slowly float to the ground, enjoy the crisp air as you breath with each glide across the ground, and snap some shots of your favorite moments and places.

Happy Fall Ya’ll!

Jordan

 

 

The World Needs More Parks

Isolation.

The enemy lives there. He yearns for you to meet him there, to be anxious with your own thoughts, to fear the outside and the attacks it may bring. On the brink of training for my first pro race and a few speaking engagements he whispers those lies into my head that I’m better off alone… when the majority of our culture centers around food and meals it can seem easier to just stay home. When the “stability” of isolation can seemingly combat the anxiety that can come with meals or large arrangements of food, everyone suffers.

And I love coffee shop dates just as much as the next person, but I believe the world needs more parks…

Jon and I were driving home yesterday and the old Boys & Girls Club off North Druid Hills was completely flattened. While completely aware of the real estate demand in Atlanta, our undertone thought was “How great would it be if we had another park?”.

In a culture that battles not only excessive screen time but also the epidemic of Mental Health related illnesses, how great would it be to have more spaces to engage with people away from distraction or anxiety?

While there are moments that facing a fear head on are important and necessary, there are as many times where handling it means creating a new space where the light can shine. Gathering in community, basking in creation, and letting truth shine into the darkness, into the lies that isolation can bring.

And yes, parks are “everywhere”, but within walking distance, a place that you can truly be a neighbor? In Atlanta, usually not, and I argue even in NYC where everyone walks everywhere and there is a giant green space to explore people are still longing for close by intimate spaces. A place where activity and community meet on an intimate scale.

So maybe the resources aren’t there for me personally to create a new park, but that doesn’t mean opportunity isn’t there to help gather people. So that’s the hope: to create a park, but like a Church isn’t just the building, so the park is more than land, it’s a people coming together, sharing life, being active, and experiencing freedom together.

In September the desire is to create these parks for women to come together engage and keep taking steps forward, hence Fueling Her Forward began.

But before that happens I challenge you to get outside, get you some vitamin D, and ask the Lord to shine in the darkness. Break the chains of isolation and be free! The lies and anxiety DO NOT get the last word.

Any thoughts? Questions? Ideas? Email me jordan@creativekitchenrunner.blog

For now friends, Happy Monday!

Jordan

 

 

 

Finding the Like-Minded, In the Large Groups

Icebreakers can be a worst nightmare while simultaneously the greatest joy. That might sound odd, and quite an over exaggeration to say that life change can happen through those 30 second round robin questions.  But that is where this is headed, so hang on…

In a culture plagued by distraction and commitments that honestly don’t mean much it’s fairly easy to disengage whenever things get busy or uncomfortable, and that’s exactly where I found myself a little over a year ago a few days before The 61 Exchange Atlanta Conference. My health being my highest priority, but other distractions playing their part it almost didn’t happen. I’m so thankful I listened to that Spirit whispering to go despite being energy deficient and my head being full of unhealthy things.

This is where things helped shift the past year…

I am that person that STRONGLY dislikes the 30 second meet-the-people-around-you-before-you-sit-down moments at church so sitting at a table of random strangers set off those same triggers of anxiety, but numero uno: IT IS WORTH IT.

It’s worth it to just show up and face it head on. You might be scared out of your mind, having convinced yourself it’s going to be the same as everything else where you might meet someone and then never speak again OR go to coffee once but long-haul relationships never happen. However, YOU NEVER KNOW.

Enter Chelsea.

This girl I recognized but had never plummeted into the deep with, sat next to me at one of these conference tables. You have to trust that the Lord has got this and will put people together as he’s chooses. She was bubbly and friendly and we got to talking quickly, a year later she’s one of my biggest cheerleaders and most trusted confidants. Why? Because our stories are similar. Body Image issues and the battle of the mind and our relationship with food have held too high a value for both of us, but through that God paves a way for our paths to intersect and you find the people that can fight for and with you!

And this holds true for WHOEVER and WHATEVER. Whether it’s anxiety or depression, or addiction; infertility or sexual assault. We are all broken and all of us have been in the fire in one form or another. It’s taking the step to find those who are on the battle lines close to you.

In Chelsea’s words: “Idk what I’d add – maybe just that it’s so great to meet people who, following a bigger gathering, you can continue staying connected with. I think the constant encouragement has been what’s most sweet. So it’s like the conference paves the way, but once we get out into life together that’s when the real friendship, healing, good stuff happens.”

So if you are considering, but hesitant just go ahead and say yes – give it a shot and truly commit, because you really never know. We all need cheerleaders who have walked a similar road.

And maybe the 61 Exchange

To sign up: The 61 Exchange Atlanta, GA Conference – August 11th!

OR The 61 Exchange Ft. Meyers Beach, FL Conference – September 7th!

Details on Washington, D.C. coming soon!

For more info on Chelsea – chelseaperson.com

And as always if you have any questions you can email me any time at jordan@creativekitchenrunner.blog

Happy Weekend!

Jordan

 

 

 

 

Getting Ready for The Peachtree – from a competitive but not elite runner.

60,000 people will toe the line outside Lenox Mall. After the flyover, and underneath the massive flag that waves on as you bear down the streets of Buckhead, Midtown, and eventually to Piedmont Park on our countries Independence Day you’ll feel every emotion. But as many people have written before Atlanta is smokin’ hot this time of year. One formula doesn’t fit every single person, but there are some overall guidelines that anyone can apply to keep your body functioning at it’s best.

I am SO excited to be running for the 5th time, which I know isn’t many to avid and older runners, but this run is particularly special to me! So here are few things I’ve learned over the past 5 years that I hope you find super helpful:

  1. It’s not only water, it’s ELECTROLYTES.

Water is step #1, but when you are in the kind of heat and humidity that the Peachtree Road Race entails the combo of the following is crucial:

  • Sodium (Na+)
  • Chloride (Cl-)
  • Potassium (K+)
  • Magnesium (Mg++)
  • Calcium (Ca++)
  • Phosphate (HPO4–)
  • Bicarbonate (HCO3-)

Usually you can grab any sports drink and get your share, but if you don’t want all      the sugar check out Nuun tabs, Propel, or SmartWater

    2. Tech Shirts are worth it.

Every time I’ve bought my husband, Jon, a tech shirt it’s  immediately headed to the bottom of his shirt pile, since he’s not huge on cardio they just aren’t his go-to. And that is OK, but for this race you want as cool of a shirt as possible. So put in a few extra dollars and get something that is going to wick away moisture, breath and keep you as cool as you can be. If you are heading to the expo Big Peach has some great and patriotic options.

    3. It’s not just a 10K.

6.2 might be the goal, but remember by the time you get to the start, warm up, run/walk, and then move around Piedmont Park back to your destination you’ve racked up lots more miles and hours. Fuel. Trying to wait to eat or drink until afterwards could be costly. Eat something like a banana and have a full glass of water, at minimum, before heading out

   4. Give yourself grace, and truly experience it!

It’s hot, there are people everywhere, but it’s one of the most amazing experiences. Some people won’t run because they are trying to PR and don’t want to run at that time of year with that many people, and that is okay, but if you are there don’t miss the experience. There is so much beauty in the cheering, the community, the camaraderie among spectators and runners alike to get all 60,000 of us through to the finish line, and celebrate the fact we have the freedom to do every aspect of it! Nerves are normal, but don’t let anxiety ambush everything around you – have fun!

Happy Independence Day friends, hopefully I will see many of you along the way. We are headed to a cookout with friends after we get cleaned up so it should be a wonderful day. Catch ya on the flip side!

Jordan