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

 

 

 

The Art of Recovery

*trigger warning*

Yesterday was not one of my finer days, it was actually incredibly messy, but it taught me in so many ways. On typical Sundays Jon plays at least during our morning gatherings at church so the importance of riding to church together means getting up several hours before the sun and making our way down to 515 Garson Drive to sound check. On these days I stash my laptop in my backpack to knock out some work during the two hours before breakfast. Sundays are my recovery days, very rarely (with the exceptions of races that fall on Sundays) do you catch me pounding the pavement, however my days are still relatively active. Yesterday was no different and the morning started out as such.

Let me preface this play by play by saying I’ve been on medicine recently that has made me feel out of sorts in every single way so that was just an added bonus.

Sunday. We rolled up around 615am and per usual I headed toward the kitchen to grab my coffee in one hand and water bottle in the other. Except I got stopped up, because normally you groggily open the door that early in the morning to white counter-tops at the bar and only the Keurigs awake and ready to greet you, but today was different. The brilliant white had massive glass jars on them and the contents of these jars had one of my biggest food loves on this planet: caramel popcorn. So while I try to not eat before our breakfast together on Sundays, I used the scoop to indulge my palate with a few pieces of this sugary popped goodness. It’s recovery day, so why not, and when 830am rolled around I headed towards the Green Room to meet up with Jon before he hit the stage for the day.

The breakfast spread stays relatively routine in this space on Sundays, so I grab my bowl and my packet of Cinnamon Spice Oatmeal, add water, pop it in the microwave then grab my boiled egg and apple. Simple breakfast that satisfies many of the food groups and gives me fuel for the morning. After the first gathering ends, you can find me serving alongside our women’s ministry team sorting donated clothes that we turnaround for a ladies event at the beginning of the year. The band starts playing for gathering number two and I hit the kitchen for lunch. I grab a turkey and veggie half sub (that I turned into a salad) with fruit and some of that popcorn that was still standing stout and chatted with one of my friends while we ate. Things are smooth sailings it seems. However, this is when the rails start to come off and the spiral branches around for the first time. I got caught in a conversation with one of my friends and started popping the chips on the counter left and right. SALT. I headed back for another round of popcorn, two and a half more rounds to be exact. SALT & SUGAR. The cookies looked good so I had one of those also. My mind starts spinning in ugly ways.

As the gathering started to wrap up I slipped back into the green room to wait for Jon so we could head home to let the dogs out before having to be back to play for the 5pm gathering. The mini brownies looked enticing so I had a few. I wasn’t hungry, my body was telling me to hold off, but I wasn’t listening. The combination of my craving of sugar and salt with the anxiety that was starting to grip my mind was a huge gust of resistance.

After the trip home to let the dogs out, give them a bath, and clean their towels (we have an extra dog with us right now – so three dogs grows dirt at an infinite rate so you find time where you can) we headed back to the church, I had started to beat myself up while knowing it wasn’t the end of the world. The anxiety was just too high so I sat down with one of my friends to grab the quinoa salad, pita with tzatiki, and a chicken skewer with roasted veggies. And to that you might say “but that’s healthy”. Correct. The two jumbo cookies that happened after that – not so much. At this point I’m getting jittery and my body is screaming at me, my mind is a jumbled mess and I’m downing water like I just ran a full marathon to try to hush the pandemic that is happening inside my body.

Cue the after party. I thought we could escape it, I really did. Our church is so wonderful to do seasonal after party’s after our last gathering on Sundays so this one was themed fall which in turn required every pumpkin spice pastry to be present. I thought I was strong enough, but I had been fighting this war inside my mind and body all day ALONE, when I should have realized it was just TOO much. So more caramel popcorn, pumpkin spice coated pretzels, and two Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

The spiral was and is devastating even as I sit here typing the next day, water bottle in hand to flush the toxins out, because the progress is a beautiful story. I am in a healthy weight range, and even with this medicine causing some side effects there had been balance. Crushed, Disappointed. Isolated. So then God and I usually have some form of communication at this point – and this time it was that of defeat and the question of why?

So what’s the point of writing all of this out? Because through the mental anguish, being sick to my stomach for the past 12 hours, and the feeling of absolute failure I’m learning so much. He’s faithful to do it, always faithful. My excessively independent personality still needs help, and I have to be reminded that I have to ask for that help BEFORE I crash. I’m learning that recovery is not a poof moment. I thought when I got to my goal weight that things would just magically even out and we would move on, that hasn’t been the case and I’m thankful for those that are consistently moving through the steps whether backwards, forwards or twirling around. I’m also always reminded that my body doesn’t do well with gluten, that ones for free ya’ll.

Most importantly though, through the last 24-36 hours I’m learning that brokenness and struggles aren’t the enemy, it’s giving into the lies of handling them in an unhealthy state that is. The enemy wants to isolate, scheme, and do anything he can to derail you. So while he was able to gain a small victory over my mind yesterday (and admitting that is scary and hard), the confidence that he absolutely WILL NOT win the war is just that much stronger.

Let a hard day be fuel in your fire to move towards better, towards healthy, towards Jesus.

Always here to talk!

Jordan

 

Jumping In.

A few weeks ago a writing job that had been presented to me during the summer had fallen through. Since initially saying yes it had been on my mind even though it wasn’t scheduled to start until Q4. As the weeks had passed the pull to stay clear of “putting all my eggs in that basket” had been pressing, and thankfully I listened.

Now a few weeks past the disappointment, and post the realities of big transitions, the cloudiness of life is starting to clear and fresh breath is becoming the lead story. Of course this really is the best place to be heading into the holidays, but what does that really mean? As I continue on in a season of uncertainty, the feelings of being bogged down by this that and the other have been replaced with new opportunities and are bringing excitement with the added capacity to be able to jump in.

Right now: it means staying in my part time project management/administrator role, but as always, the Lord has been gracious to breathe new life into the familiar. On a new, new front it looks like starting my studies for getting a nutrition certification After the past couple years of a physical and mental health battle in the realm of nutrition, the passion is burning to dive into the opportunity to learn and provide a safe space for people to learn and grow towards the best versions of them! If you have any questions please feel free to comment or email me : jordan@fuelingherforward.com .

While I’m studying, and during the holidays I will be posting some of my favorite holiday healthies (yes they exist) along with some of the most fun ways to stay active and enjoy during the coming season + a mental health perspective on it all. Per usual I’ll be referencing Run Fast. Eat Slow regularly!

And then you probably ask about running. Next Saturday is the Cochran Mill Trail Race and then my calendar is clear as in zero, zilch, nada, although I will be volunteering for the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon. There is something beautiful about endless opportunities, but a peace about zero expectation. For five years I have pushed hard to be the best runner, teammate, and woman that I can be in order to be able to continue to step into the immeasurably more and glorify Him through all of it. He get’s ALL the praise for allowing me to reach so many of the goals that have been set, and recover from the hard and low points. So the future is exciting even though uncertain.

Bring it on!

What do you have coming up? Is there anything you are excited about? A goal you are aiming to reach before the end of the year?

All for now,

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

 

 

Can You Love Yourself Today & the Enneagram

After choosing to forgo the Monday alarm my body woke me up a little after 6. My feet hit the floor to the excitement of the girls, ready to get their day started also. My day normally starts out with a glass of water and an apple and peanut butter, along with making sure Jon and the dogs are moving, but then I’m usually left to my own thoughts and routine. That’s where the day can go one of two ways: focusing on beauty or brokenness.

My foot got tangled up in a basket I had left outside our bathroom door and the momentary pain coursed through my toes and up my leg: frustration. The mirror caught my attention as usual as I scrubbed my teeth and all the thoughts came crashing in, I’m bloated, my ankle is stiff, there are bags under my eyes, my hair is a greasy mess – how am I going to control my food today, beginnings of anxiety from hosting a girls night and making sure everything is picture perfect – j.k. I’ll never be good enough. Loving myself and the way God made me was far from truth I was speaking over my life, and that’s a really bad way to start the week.

As an Enneagram 8w7, basically the high achieving, exciteable busybody in health we use that to help spur on others towards their goals, which took some time to understand because the descriptors of an 8 are exactly the most charming. As unhealthy we gravitate  towards the fears of being useless, helpless, or incapable, which is where I have found myself over the course of the past couple weeks. So why tell you all this?

The narrative had to change.

Every “type” of personality has their fears of never being good enough or valued or cared for. However, if you set up for a week where you are looking both outwardly and inwardly at everything you wish was different or didn’t like you won’t be able to love well. So whether you are 18 or 80, thin or plus-size, black, white or anyone else (literally if you are reading this you qualify because you are beautiful creation of an all-powerful and loving God) you have to question: can I love who God made me today? Not after I do this thing, or change that thing, but TODAY.

Here are four practical ways to help change the narrative and/or keep the perspective of just how beautiful and uniquely crafted YOU are:

  1. Speak the truths of God over your life each morning.
    • Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
    • Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of sin”

    • 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
  2. Surround yourself with people who speak truth and life into your life. One of the biggest blessings of my day is the text I get almost every morning from one of my closest friends encouraging me about who I am in Christ.
  3. Do have a focus on wellness. Do NOT obsess, but set out practical goals of how you are going to take care of yourself during the week. For example, making sure you make healthy snack choices, or are active for 30 minutes, 3x a week, or carve out space to process your week on paper or through a creative outlet. Set those goals and boundaries up ahead of time so you can engage with the week ahead to it’s fullest and your fullest potential.
  4. Serve in the community. One of the biggest blessings, and ways to get outside of your own way of thinking is to get involved with the people, neighborhoods, and organizations around you. Taking care of this world is a team effort, and there is always something that needs to be cared for!

This morning waking up my mind immediately gravitated of what was lacking instead of embracing the beauty and truth that was already there and looking forward to the potential that God had in store.

It would be foolish to think that it is just a light switch, but set a reminder for yourself throughout the week to check in! So how are you today? Do you remember the truth and freedom you sit in?

If you’ve thought about it 100x and want to take the enneagram click here: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com