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

Mama and Marathoner and Keeping God First

My body knows how to wake up right at 5am, it’s been conditioned to do so since my collegiate swimming days, if not before when our first bell in high school chimed at 7:25am. Jon jokes that he always thought he’d be the early riser, but God had other ideas. At this point it hardly matters even though most people think it sounds horrid. One hour is on the clock, I down a glass of water first thing, grab a banana and start the coffee. Maybe this already sounds way to structured for a morning to some, but this is me and this is the gifting and personality I’ve been given! And for the most part its propelled me.

I open up my laptop and send my first messages to my team, since they are ~11 hours ahead time is of the essence in making sure tasks are moving forward and bugs are taken care of. About 20 minutes later with coffee in hand I grab my Bible study and let everything fade around me. We just came back from Maryland, I didn’t take my study because of the nature of our trip and the fact my current study book is giant! Over the past year and a half Bible study discipline is one of the core areas I have worked on, it’s been challenging and beautiful. Now, I miss 5 days of study and I feel similar to not getting water after summer runs in Atlanta. The unquenchable thirst. In both cases if that weren’t the case I would be worried. Like a rain gauge that has been sitting dry for far too long in both running and spiritual growth hydration is the key.

After I wrap up study time (for anyone interested I do the She Reads Truth Monthly Study Plan) I usually have several messages highlighting my notifications bar. If I have a few spare minutes I’ll go ahead and try to resolve whatever is lighting up, but if Elijah is ready to get up then it waits a few minutes. It’s 6am Elijah is typically stirring, I let the dogs out, wake up Jon and we are off to the races. And for me that means semi-literally. It sounds intense, however, my gaze has been set for the day, not on the never ending to do list and work crises but above on the things that matter, therefore I feel sturdy and ready for the day.

I rock Elijah for a few minutes, and then he’s ready to move. He knows mommy goes out the door soon so quickly asks if he can go “side”. I fix him breakfast as Jon makes his way to the living room and by 6:45am, at the latest, I am out the door. I get in 6-8 miles depending on the day, some days depending on work load I’ll break my miles into a morning and afternoon run, but I always get them in. Not every run is easy, especially in Georgia summers, but they are worth it. Usually I’ll go half and half throughout the week between listening to Worship music or a podcast, and there is always one run that I go completely silent. It’s rhythmic, and my soul needs quiet and worship as much, and even more than my brain wants to know “all the things”. I’m not slow by any means, but I also have a long way to go to reach some lofty goals and so there is always the question….

But wait, why? You aren’t at Olympic Trials, you aren’t that caliber of runner (yet), why work that hard? And it’s something I battle with regularly. One, because I’ve been gifted with athleticism, and I’ve tasted that level in another sport. My mom told me when I thought about hanging up my cap and goggles after my sophomore year at GT that God gives you a gift and he gets to tell you when it’s over. That “over” was very clear after my senior year ACC Championships, but I still left a lot of potential on the table and this is just a continuation of something that started when I was 8 years old. Second, it allows me to build community all over Atlanta. People I love and a lot of people I would love to meet Jesus. So I want to keep showing up and putting what I’ve been given on the floor every day. And last, like anyone feels the mental release when you workout – thanks dopamine – it helps you breathe out and relax when it’s over!

So I warm down at by 730-745am, walk inside grab a shower, get Jon off to work and Elijah and I start our day together. It’s not easy friends, I am incredibly blessed I can work from home with flexibility. There were a few months that were really hard, now he’s able to have a little bit more structure around his day and it has made all the difference. In August he will go back to his Mom’s Day Out program two days a week, and that will be exciting as I get into the heaviest part of marathon training to be able to use some of that time for training. However, the grounded and peaceful feeling I feel isn’t because I have it all figured out, but because I know who does.

The days go on, most of the time they fly by. I pray we stay anchored in truth and love, that God brings clarity to the sport I love and have built such a community around, and that our top priorities remain our top priorities. Mama & Marathoning isn’t easy, but there is a whole lot of beauty God is bringing through it.

For now 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

5 Things You’ll LOVE About Coronado Springs Resort @ Walt Disney World

I recently stayed at the newly opened Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort on the Walt Disney World property. It was majestic and the details intricate and stunning but it wasn’t my first time staying on this property – we stayed in one of the regular rooms as a family back in 2012, and had such a wonderful time. It really has everything you need at your fingertips, and for a reasonable price, want to know why? Here ya go:

  1. Customizing Your Vacay – You can customize however you want and for the price you want. A suite by the pool? A water view from the top of Gran Destino? How $200s/night, high $400s/night (at club level)? Now that Coronado has expanded it really has something for everyone! A great place for a family vacay on a budget or a romantic honeymoon for the happy couple with an incredible view you can choose from an array of options to fit your style and budget.
  2. Foodies Unite – you literally have every option here from top of the new tower to the middle of the lake, the restaurants are plentiful and flavorful. Do you want quick service? Check out Cafe Rix or El Mercado for Mexican inspired and traditional American cuisine. Want a nice restaurant surrounded by the water? Check out Three Bridges that sits in the middle of the lake. Want some incredible views from up high? Check out Toleda for Tapas, or Dahlia lounge for drinks. If you desire something more themed check out Maya Grill. And you can keep going. There truly is something for everyone in the foodie world.
  3. Spa and Fitness – Not every resort has a spa and fitness option but this one gives you everything you need inside the budget you are on. We all know how hot and humid the Florida days can get so this is a great option for keeping in shape while staying cool before you hit the parks for the day.
  4. The perfect running spot – But if you do prefer to keep it outdoors for your cardio this resort is perfectly located and side-walked for a 1-5 mile run. You can get around a mile just running around the waterfront, and if you want to expand the side walk road right out front of the resort gives you a direct and flat route over to the All-Stars and back.
  5. Pools that are top notch – This is one of my favorite pools mostly because of the incredible slide that waves you in and out of the rainforest and pyramids, but I also love the smaller pools that you can find outside some of the individual resort spaces. Besides the pool itself, Coronado has volleyball course and hammocks on the beach area right near Gran Destino Tower.

Obviously I love Coronado for so many reasons, but it’s a really great place to include everything you want on a vacation into one spot and on a budget. Let me know if you have ANY questions: jordan@fuelingherforward.com

For now,

Jordan

Navigating the Bar Craze When the Whole Aisle is Consumed By Them

It seems like every day there is a new protein, health, or real food bar hitting the market, and honestly it can seem overwhelming. I walked into my local grocery store the other day and saw three new brands I had never heard of. Now, most bars have a particular purpose: snack, protein, energy, but how do we organize those and what’s best for our individual day-to-days? To be honest I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I hope this helps just a bit!

My biggest rule of thumb is, and we all know it, whole foods first! But what does that even mean in a culture of 50 bars to choose from all with claims on their label of being this or that? Hopefully this little break down will help you clarify just a bit!

Snack Bars:

  1. RxBar this one is my favorite because the sugar isn’t off the charts and its all natural, and there are so few ingredients – which are all listed on the front of the label. This bar gives you a well rounded option when you’re hungry in the middle of the day or on-the-go! This can ALSO fit into an adequate protein bar so win-win.
  2. Larabar – the sugar here is a little bit more substantial but again the ingredients are all whole foods that are pronounceable and generally good for you. Personally I’m a little fuller when I eat Larabars, they are richer on my stomach even though the calorie counts of RxBar and Larabar are similar, but Jon LOVES them and I know he’s eating a decent snack instead one of the super processed and sugared granola bars or Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
  3. CLIF Whole Lotta – we all know this brand and the multiple lines of bars they make, however depending on which bar you are consuming the ingredient list can be a little lengthy and the sugar count high. HOWEVER, this option is short on ingredients and gives you just what you need to curb hunger, and from a reputable brand.

Biggest bar to avoid: standard CLIF. In my view CLIF stands in a unique place. If you are an endurance athlete and need a boost during long training sessions then a CLIF product is NO problem, however, for their standard bars their ingredient list is long and sugar high. So, if you need a boost of energy it’s so much better to find some whole foods that can give you something more well-rounded and nutritious.

Protein Bars:

  1. Quest – Quest came into my life a little over a year ago when I was still trying to put on weight. While they don’t have the simplest of ingredient lists they do supply a healthy dose of fats, protein, and fiber and very little sugar. They keep me full and balanced on long days of work and training. **NOTE: not every flavor is the same so check the ingredients before you indulge 
  2. Epic – while they don’t have an ample amount of protein I love these pars because they are whole animal, low ingredient, and low sugar, all while being filling and delicious.
  3. Health Warrior Protein Bar – plant based, real food, low sugar bar that I have come to really enjoy for a boost.

Biggest bar to avoid: ThinkThin. I actually used to love these as one of the first bars to burst on the scene of the bar-pandamonium , but their sodium and sugar alcohols are through the roof, and their list of ingredients is just not worth it!

Energy Bars:

  1. Picky Bars – Lauren Fleischman and Jesse Thomas are the brains behind this brand and being endurance athletes themselves I was intrigued by what they were creating. While the added sugars aren’t my favorite in the case of endurance athletics and a pronounceable ingredient list these bars are perfect and definitely rise to the top! Just make sure you are using them in the correct setting!
  2. ProBar – These can also be used as meal replacement so be careful of consuming too much. However, they have pronounceable and clean ingredients and can be a GREAT source of well rounded nutrition in a bind or after a long workout!
  3. Kind Protein – these are substantial, and while they don’t have a super fighting power sugar content they are well rounded with almost anything that your body requires when you are grinding through the week or pounding the pavement.

Biggest bar to avoid: PowerBar. One of the originals. But the first ingredient is cane invert syrup and Maltodextrin follows closely behind it, just not the whole food, well rounded nutrition that’s best.

Honorable Mentions:

*Goodness Knows – Snack

*Jimmy Bars – Protein

*Bonk Breaker – Energy

I hope this guide helps you breakdown some of this bar craze, and that it helps you find the best products for your activity level and overall health! Enjoy!