Processing Disappointment + Cultivating Positivity

The Chicago Marathon 2021. It’s been a bucket list race for so many years, and three weeks ago I finally was able to toe the line. It was warmer than they anticipated, about 15 degrees warmer – yikes, 75 degrees start was not what I was hoping for. Still, I felt confident. I knew my fitness was there despite nagging injuries, I had run plenty of miles, and my Chiro and PT had helped me through it all. So my wave started around 7:45am and I felt great, I had to really hold myself back from going out too hard, the crowd was energetic and loud. The course just barely rolling – what a thrill.

10K in and I was in a stride still holding myself back trying to stay between the 3:25 and 3:20 pacers, for now. I knew I could keep this pace up no problem, the only hard moments were when the wind decided to gust in your face – it knocks your breathing off rhythm but I didn’t think too much about it. 10 miles in and while my legs still felt fresh as ever, something didn’t feel quite right, it was hard to place it. Was it my back, my leg that had given me trouble, was it the high temp and humidity forcing my lungs to work too hard? It was truly hard to pinpoint. The freshness of my legs, wanted me to keep going, my mind said I shouldn’t. So at 12.5 I dropped to a walk, called Jon on the phone and told him something wasn’t right. I was sad and confused, because I could have kept the pace up the whole way… but something had gone awry and I had to chose what happened next.

I walked 1 minute and then ran 2 minutes trying to loosen up my body, I was done by now no chance at coming back, but the decision to finish or walk off the course was another question entirely. Mindset is everything, I could live in the disappointment, but I could also embrace the atmosphere and the 11 or so miles I had left at this point. I did a body check to make sure I wasn’t actually causing damage to my hips or legs and pressed on. Smiling, chatting, breathing it all in. My legs were still fresh so as long as I circulated in a walk break to make sure I didn’t lock up I could run half miles at a time. Slowly (respectively – I realize it is still a nice clip to most) the miles ticked by. Jon was a rock, catching me at the points I needed it most.

I had fun the last 6 miles, when most people are just toasted my legs could still carry me with my steady clip. So down the last straight away we went and finally the finish line! I walked through feeling fine, until the 80 degrees suddenly caught up to my stomach, embarrassing! I sat down for a moment in the finish shoot (pretty far down, I wasn’t in the way) and quickly got told that I had to keep moving. That sounded dicey. So I breathed slow and steady to keep my stomach from actually taking me out and I made it over to Jon! In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have chugged the whole water bottle at the finish line.

We slowly made our way to the hotel and Jon stopped in for donuts that was just a block down. I didn’t feel like eating anything yet the donuts seemed like a great idea. Jon was so sweet to get a six count variety pack and I took small bites of each so we could try them all. It did not disappoint (shout out to Stan’s Donuts). We didn’t have as much time as we had hoped for since I finished about 45 minutes later than expected, so I quickly showered and headed to our last stop before flying out – Chicago deep dish.

OK, so I’m not a pizza person, however, when I traveled to Chicago in 2013 for a girls weekend we hit one of the iconic Chicago pizza places and I ate it up! This was not that. I am glad I had it, I still love true Chicago deep dish, but do NOT try to force it on your stomach a couple hours after a full marathon. It is not worth it.

The next couple hours were a blur, we made our way to the “L” and on to the airport. I talked to a nice older man from Maryland who had just finished the race as well. These young guns who had no idea what they were doing were sitting near us and asked us for running and fueling advice. Our flight was a few minutes delayed despite the flight attendant’s best efforts to make people board efficiently. I got upgraded at the last minute to Delta Comfort, which made Jon sad but my legs happy. Watched a fascinating documentary about the week after Princess Diana’s death, yes I am one of those people. Had a smooth drive through the city home; night time against the Atlanta Skyline is my favorite. My parents were there to greet us with pumpkin muffins and a sound asleep little boy. That adventure that really was 6 months in the making over, life moves on.

I would recommend Chicago to everyone. It’s an experience. A good one. I will forever look back and be glad I did it despite the result. But Monday started, I had a smiling boy that was so happy and surprised to see me, my work team didn’t care how I did, they are just forever impressed that I run marathons, I had so much support from my community. That’s a really beautiful thing about being a runner, you don’t have expectations added on from outside forces, it just gets to be you, and then when its over life is moving and people are with you through it all. A few days later I was in my kitchen eating ice cream and donuts with my friends and just happy to be there, thankful for the life God has given me.

If God is calling you – you can hold both, and they might have tension. You can set goals, step into the “yes’s” God is asking you too, but regardless if you hit a home run or strikeout, you did something and the people around you will spur you on for better or for worse.

Race Recaps and Rest Days

This past Friday rolled around and the pre race day moment I usually encounter hit: “Do I really want to toe the line tomorrow?”. Simply put, the way to get better at racing is to practice racing, but when you’ve ground your body down during training making it to the start line can be challenging. A 4 miler is nothing to gawk at, but it’s also not like asking my body to run a half or full marathon. I needed 12 miles on the day, and instead of pushing and potentially hurting my worn out body I decided to use the 4 miler as a marathon pace effort. It was the best of both worlds, I could get in practice with race morning, start waves, racing smart without pushing my body to the max and still getting in the work I needed.

And honestly those moments should be approached that way every time. Run by feel. Push yourself, but don’t get hurt. Race days are a dime a dozen and you can adapt your plan to what is healthiest for YOU on any given day. For some of us more competitive folk it’s hard not to try to rage out the starting gate, but that is when you have to focus on the long range goal. Sure I could risk injury now and aim high, but my actual goal is to be able to complete “so and so distance on this date”, so what is the wisest choice for now? Navigating iterative goals in the midst of a much larger goal poses challenges, but isn’t that kind of how life goals in general?

In my case, I am looking towards October 10th at the Chicago Marathon, everything else is just a build up to that moment. Decatur is hilly, very hilly and Chicago is very flat, so pushing myself up and down hills at max effort is only going to add so much value. Injuring myself up them sure won’t help. So if you’ve set a run, cycle, yoga goal make sure you are moving and pushing your body in ways that will benefit the end game!

Also to note, if your body truly feels like its been drug through the mud, give yourself the rest day! There is no shame in adding an extra one to your plan or even taking one to begin with! If you still want to make sure to move your body take a easy stroll around the neighborhood or do a gentle yoga session – your body will thank you either way!

Today, my body just said no. So I did some light stretching on the Nike Training App and took a short walk first thing in the morning. You can also Epsom salt bath, ice, use compression, foam roll, etc anything that relaxes and lets your body recover! Other than making sure Elijah is taken care of my legs are thrown up on the couch to keep them elevated! There are so many natural recovery tools that we have access to.

Wake up your body and then move it in the best way for you today!

Happy Tuesday Friends!

Jordan

Facing Anxiety in New Seasons

I wasn’t expecting it, I had been going to therapy, talking through everything I had swirling in my mind and it still punched me in the gut, hard.

Anxiety wasn’t unfamiliar, but unexpected in this new season, especially past the first trimester. I kept my pregnancy completely under wraps through the first trimester, two years ago I could barely keep myself alive so I highly doubted I could keep another human alive.

But the first trimester came and went and everything looked great, but the anxiety never left the scene. Into my 16th week, with all positive doctors reports and I still felt like I was walking on eggshells. Every time I got too hot, the car breaks slammed too hard, or I felt off I would panic. I could think logically, but it never clicked. Most of the time I combatted it with keeping myself busy with anything that I felt would keep me safe.

Why couldn’t I let go? Why couldn’t I just enjoy this season? It was defeating and isolating. BUT I knew freedom was possible despite what the enemy wanted to keep me trapped in.

So everyday I started in quiet instead of letting the days agenda start raging. Digging up all the lies and worry taking up space in my mind, taking those thoughts captive and replacing them with gratitude and hope in the future. Slowly, slowly the narrative is beginning to change. It’s only been 10 days since I started working so specifically on these moments, but every day is a little bit calmer, a little less stressful, and nothing seems quite as overwhelming.

I believe it’s the same for all of us. How often do we truly start the day in complete silence? Phones still away, no one else communicating with you yet, not attempting to conquer a workout, or be inspired by a podcast or new playlist? In today’s culture is it really possible?

Yes, and it’s necessary. AND it’s possible because God is bigger.

Put the phone down, keep the kids (or dogs) in bed for just a few minutes longer, create the boundary around that space. And work intentionally on turning every fear, lie, and overwhelming thought into something glorifying to the Lord.

Because of Him we can have hope in the future. Because of Him we can be free.

It starts with Day 1 and it may never fully feel like it goes away, but just keep pushing friend. We are in this together, and He has got you!

Boston: Simple Exploring Back in Time

I didn’t grow up with Harvard paraphernalia all over my walls (read: I’ve watched Gilmore Girls one too many times), but I understand it’s grandeur. There’s also harsh reality of some of our nations history that holds so much weight in Boston. To be upfront Boston was the first trip EVER that I didn’t plan out to a T. Usually every minute, every meal, every adventure has a time and date locked in, but this time it felt different. The three days previous in Acadia I were fairly planned, but now it was time to take in the rich history of this place in our country’s history. And while there were a few things we would have done differently here are 5 Adventures in Boston that hit the top of our list.

  1. Blue Bikes – the city biking system. There is an app that you can pick a trip or a 24-hour pass, grab a code, and bike from point to point. The app is great because it shows you where the stations are, gives you directions, and tells you how full or empty the docks are. The bike lanes are also pretty well done around the city so you feel pretty safe. Needless to say biking gives you a much bigger sense of the city and all it has to offer.
  2. Freedom Trail – Start in Boston Common and take a trip through the city and our nations rich history. You see sites such as the new and old state house, site of the Boston Massacre, meeting sites of our nations forefathers, and Paul Revere’s house. For the most part these places are close together. You can see them on your own or get in with a tour group, just take some extra cash as a few of these places cost a couple dollars to get into!
  3. Cambridge/Harvard University – I dreamt of doing the scene where Rory and Lorelei step up to the front gates of Harvard on their mother/daughter road trip and excitedly step onto it’s hallowed grounds. It wasn’t quite like that, but it was still breathtaking stepping through history, while all around you there is bustle of students getting to start their semester. Take bikes from Boston to Cambridge it’s walkable for some, but a bit of a haul.
  4. Boylston Street – I know Boylston street from my running: the famous and most prestigious finish line for marathoners. However, it also serves as the hub for shopping. Neither Jon and I are much into the luxurious shopping, but each of these streets boasts a unique flavor whether Rodeo Dr in LA, Michigan Ave in Chicago, or 5th St in NYC it’s worth checking out!
  5. Little Italy – Our first night there we stumbled across this festival on a small side street, little did we know it was a 100th anniversary feast of an Italian tradition. This small but robust neighborhood is lined with family owned pizza shops, gelato and cannoli parlors, and family’s and friends eating together on every corner. You feel a sense of pride, unity, and excitement just walking through these flavorful, yet busy streets.

There is so much more that I could say on our explorations. The South End neighborhood, Seaport, the riverside walk, and the area around Fenway are all memorable, but if you want must do’s these are mine.

Foodie post to follow on some of our favorite eats both nice and cheap around the city! Stay tuned friends.

The Hike and Sip Packing Essentials

From snorkeling off the shores of St. Lucia to getting lost in the Great Smokies closer to home, whenever Jon and I plan our trips we create an itinerary that appeals to both our adventurous side and chill side. As we head up to the northeast in a couple short days, this time is no different. We will adventure to catch the sunrise before 6am and then mosey over to a coffee shop for an hour or two to relax. Some people are GO GO GO, and some people are like “please don’t make me move”, but packing for trips a combination of the two can be tricky. Having to be prepared for everything can sound like a chore, but trust me: it’s easier than you think.

  1. Set an itinerary – I am all for spontaneity, but there is some good that can come from having some set activities especially if you are having a mix type of vacation.
  2. Use packing cubes – back your undergarments in one, and your sports attire in one, then you can rightly figure out how much non active, nicer items you need and that will fit! My go to: @Amazon
  3. Wear your sunnies – regardless of what you might think sunglasses can be just the right accessory to make you presentable even after an active morning or afternoon along with a fresh shirt. My go to: @Goodr (in all the colors)
  4. Bring your snacks – this sounds oddly placed, but if you make sure you have substantial food along the way you won’t feel like you will barely make it to the meal you have planned for after. My go to: @rxbar
  5. Have a durable, yet light and sleek backpack – something to carry your water, snacks, the item below and a shirt change.
  6. Bring your toilettees – yes having a refreshing cloth with you is not only great for sweaty activity, but it takes up basically no space so you can transition quickly. My go to: @goodwipes
  7. Portable chargers – these are life-giving, at least to your phone. And you won’t have to rush back to charge your phone, but can head out for lunch or for coffee and you can post that sunrise photo no problem. My go to: @anker
  8. Shoes – one of the biggest things struggles when packing. Simply: pick three pairs of shoes that will go with anything you pack. (1) Outdoor pair for hiking, running, etc. (1) Casual around town pair, and (1) sandal or heel for fancy occasion.

Nothing on this list weights a lot, takes up a lot of space, or is incredibly expensive. Take the time to set aside your transitional gear so you can seamlessly go from sweaty to savory in a moments notice.

So where are we headed? Acadia National Park with moments off the coast of Maine with our books and coffee and a lovely 60 degrees. I will bringing my professional camera so I’ll be excited to share some of the views, tips and surprises along the way.

Until then!

Jordan

Back Pain: 3 Keys to Core Strength

I’m a chronic stander, it drives my husband crazy. While I do prefer to stand naturally, there is more to it than that: sitting for long periods of time causes too much discomfort. Read: I had a doctors note that allowed me to leave my 1.5 hour long classes in college early because the max I could sit was 45 minutes.

I was destined to back problems before I was born, my dad has struggled with chronic back pain since before I can remember. So, when I hurt my back at the end of my sophomore year of college I knew it could be long and drawn out, I wasn’t wrong. My junior year was basically a wash, and it was hard on my body and my pride. Don’t get me wrong, that year wasn’t wasted – it taught me a lot about just how much it would take to keep my back healthy. It also taught me a lot about myself, my pitfalls, and my resilience.

But now, almost 10 years later and I am learning every day about the routine it takes to keep everything on track. So here is a look into my weekly routine to keep my core strong and my back healthy.

  1. Yoga (2-3x/week) – If you’ve followed me for any amount of time you know that I am a strong believer in the power of yoga – all types. But I particularly like the strong and slow flows that help you stabilize your body, while strengthening your core. Depending on your pain, you might have to modify and that is okay and really a good thing. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you should!
  2. Careful stretching (daily) – Proper stretching is incredibly important for keeping muscles loose and the body flexible. However, depending on where you feel less than your best you have to be careful about overextending. If needed, ask a physical therapist to show you the do’s and don’ts for you.
  3. A core routine (2-3x/week) – here is a look into the core routines that I prioritize throughout the week:
    • Plank – not the like the fad, but true planking for minutes at a time. You can stay on your hands or drop to your elbows, just make sure to keep you core tight and your back level.
    • Plank Jacks – your arms hold a plank, while your feet jump out and in like a jumping jack. I usually do
    • Leg Lifts – This one can get you in trouble if you do not keep your back flat on the ground. You want to keep your core tight and your back flat while you lift your legs from 6″ off the ground to a 90 degree angle.
    • Single Arm/Single Leg Body Weight Dead Lifts – Your right arms slowly goes down while your left leg comes up to a 90 degree angle.

All together now!

3-5 rounds of the following:

  • 30-90 second Plank depending on ability level
  • 20 Plank Jacks
  • 20 Leg Lifts
  • 10/each side Dead Lifts

Do you have any other exercises to add to the list?! If you have any questions about chronic back pain or stability + strength work doesn’t hesitate to push that contact button above!

Happy Weekend Friends!

Jordan