The Fear in Goal-Setting & the Hotlanta Half

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about goals, it breeds vulnerability and accountability. Fear can come into the frame in terms of not meeting expectations therefore disappointing yourself and those around you. This can happen in relationships, careers, your health, and pretty much every other aspect of your life as well, but fear isn’t a good state to live in. I would rather fight ‘til the end and have people around me, then play it safe alone. So, I thought maybe we could start there today.
Most of you know I ran the Hotlanta Half on Sunday. It was my first half since the beginning of April, and I haven’t been near that distance since then. With my recovery from my procedure mid-April and the events that followed I was iffy leading into the weekend, but I have big dreams. My hope is that I can break into the elite realm while still maintaining this everyday person lifestyle, I hope it inspires people along the way. The idea that you can be active, wherever you are, see the world, and enjoy it to the fullest training yourself for the road ahead is something I am passionate about and all this is scary to say out loud. It’s important though and can’t be dismissed as fantasy. I can go into a whole long post about why the ins and outs of all this important, but I will save it for a later time.
Now going back to Sunday, I stepped up to the line with the idea that I would play it safe, but I had no idea what that would look like. Would I be able to run the whole thing? Would I even be able to stay under 2 hours? It scared me but I was ready to find out. While the weather had looked dicey several days leading up to the event the rain held off and the clouds hung overhead the whole time I was on the course. The humidity absolutely played a factor as to my ability to move forward, but I made it. Running those 13.1 miles in the hills and humidity of Atlanta reminded me why I loved it, but it also reminded me of the fact that each day and each season brings unique challenges. Yes, I did run the whole thing and my time was much better than anticipated, however over two days later and my body is still reeling, soreness after a half is something I haven’t known in several years.
Things look different now, my body has changed, my season has changed, but my goals remain the same. I can say in confidence that this next season will bring even more beauty, and that this past season has taught me SO much that I will use to fuel me.
Whatever season you are walking through the soreness won’t last forever, and there is a reason you have it there. You have grown, stretched, and possibly feel as though you’ve gotten trampled on, but you are still here, and you still have the opportunity to move forward. The Hotlanta Half has been one of my favorite events over the past several years and while this year looked different, I love it more than I ever have. That’s the funny thing about pain sometimes, you look back and realize you would do it all over again if it allowed you to learn, grow and step into where you are now. Even in a setback kind of way this weekend helped me get further towards those lofty goals I set a year or so ago.
What goals do you have? What sticky season have you had to walk through to help push them forward? Have you had the “Ah-ha” moment when it made sense on exactly why you walked through what you did?
I want to know! Send em my way via email or in the comments!
On to the Peachtree Road Race!!

Star Wars Rival Run 2019 Race Recap

I love getting to type up a race recap, especially with the hope it encourages you to set a fitness goal and go for it! runDisney provides more affordable options too by opening up virtual runs that come with a good bit of swag themselves. This year’s theme is Marvel and registration is open now over at runDisney.com. However, this post is about Star Wars weekend and if you are a Star Wars fanatic this is one to put on the books for the future.

Jon and I flew in Thursday night after a day of work and were so excited to finally crash in our upgraded room at All-Star Movies. We are always so focused on being out and about that we choose the most affordable resort more often than not; if we are not doing park days then we spend a little bit more. We’ve stayed at Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and Port Orleans French Quarter which are in the moderate resort category for our lower key trips, all of which we recommend!

While we wanted to get an early start Friday morning for the opening of Hollywood Studios, it was still nice to sleep until 7am instead of our usual 5am week day wake up call. We headed to the quick service restaurant in the All-Star Movies Hall and grabbed a simple breakfast before heading out. We made it to Hollywood Studios about 25 minutes before opening, right as the rain was backing off, and were pretty close to the front of the line that would soon be making a mad-dash for Toy Story Land. One of the most interesting things we learned here was the way they crowd control the line of people – ALL THE WAY TO THE RIDE. It made it painless and easy to file into the line for Slinky Dog and with a simple wait time of 15 minutes the experience was great. We give the ride 7/10 for fun wishing it was just a little bit faster. We then headed over to the Alien Swirling Saucers with a 5-minute wait time and enjoyed that more than we thought we would. As the crowds started to descend post rain we grabbed one of the already infamous pop tarts at Woody’s Lunchbox and went to explore the other part of the park. We give the pop tart 9 out 10 because who knew premium pop tarts were a thing and that they could be so incredibly delicious. Super fresh, not too much filling, and cooked just past brown for a nice crunch – YES.

The Incredibles Alley was our next stop where we walked up to Edna Mode and snapped a quick pic. No lines – what was this? The same thing happened with BB-8 in the Star Wars Launch Bay and Pluto in the Disney Junior Area (don’t judge I love my Disney pups). Unfortunately, right about that time the skies opened back up with a little sprinkle, so we headed to our Fastpass at Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Then things took another turn as we walked up to a closed sign due to technical difficulties, sad, but nice for a readjustment that sent us to go ahead and run by the race Expo before heading to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival for lunch. The expo was easy, I really think they make the flow better every time, but I also know it’s a smaller race weekend than some of the others, regardless it was painless.

As we made our way to Epcot for the festival and lunch the clouds started to part and made way for a beautiful day. We started towards the World Showcase and I stopped first at the Honey Bee pop up for a honey roasted rice and cauliflower dish – the portion was a little smaller than I would have liked but the taste was 10/10. As we made our way around we stopped at the Poutine pop up for Jon to get some Coffee-roasted, Smoked pork poutine for lunch. His portion was HUGE and while I only took a few bites it was so full of great flavor. We explored everything the World Showcase had to offer and toyed with stopping at so many places, but it was getting warm, so we decided on something cold and refreshing. We headed to the pineapple pop-up and both grabbed a pineapple soft serve. The portion was HUGE, and even though it was a little bit too sweet we both downed ours and I would give it 8/10 stars.

While at this point we were refreshed I realized I was doing a bad job hydrating and I simply wasn’t feeling my best. I have never been more excited to sit down when we finally made our way to the monorail to hop over to Magic Kingdom. The monorail is simply the best way to travel if you are switching from Epcot to Magic Kingdom or vice versa – OR – doing anything in the resorts around Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom greeted us in the best way as the Festival of Fantasy parade was about to begin which meant no line for the special Celebration Mickey & Minnie meet and great. I waited about 10-15 minutes and snapped a pic with them in their party clothes. Then we made our way out right as the parade was coming down the street.

Ya’ll I cried. There was enough room on the train platform to be able to watch the parade from there and as Beauty and the Beast came around with the music playing tears streamed down my face. Which was bad because I was already dehydrated. The parade was amazing, and the new additions were really excellent, but then it was time for water and coffee. So, we swigged a full bottle of water and walked towards Storybook Circus to see some of the new Dumbo features, and then to Gaston’s for coffee.

This trip was much more leisurely than we are used to, but it made it incredibly nice.

I was exhausted at this point and needed to watch my hydration, so we were back at the resort by 630p for dinner. I grabbed a chicken sandwich and lounged around the resort shop and then went on to bed. Saturday morning, we woke up around 7am again but I went out for a short shakeout run before breakfast. Three hot and humid miles reminded me that missing hydration today was NOT an option. We ate a leisurely breakfast at the resort and headed to Disney Springs around 10am. First stop was Vera Bradley because they have an adorable new Disney collection out NOW, while it was just window shopping I gave some hints to Jon for my birthday next month. We hit all the shops and then grabbed up the free chocolate at Ghirardelli and it was almost time for lunch with some of Jon’s family he hadn’t seen in awhile, but had helped make this trip possible. Paradiso 37 is one of our favorite restaurants and it never disappoints. We talked and ate, and a good time was had by all. We always give Paradiso 9/10 stars – they even sat our large group early.

After our time at Disney Springs and LOTS of water, I was feeling great. I asked Jon if we could check out the Boardwalk since the only time I had seen it was running by early in the morning. He happily obliged and we had one of our memorable experiences here. Jon was really wanting water at this point – it was pretty warm. So, we stopped in the General store and asked for water. Cups of water are FREE at Disney (not bottled but paper cups), but they happened to be out. Instead of sending us on our way they asked if we wanted slushies free of charge. When Disney offers you something for free you do NOT decline, and they were the best slushies. 10/10 for the slushies and the cast member who gave them to us.

The only let down was the part where I was hoping Ample Hills had a dairy free ice cream and they do not, but from everything I hear it is worth going!

When we got back to the resort we decided to eat somewhere a little bit cleaner at the All-Star Music resort next door, where they had some basic dinners that would fuel me better for the coming mornings race. It was an early night in bed watching Iron Man and drinking more water – ha.

 

Sunday morning race alarms are not my favorite because 2:40am is not any time to be awake, but I was up and on the bus at 3:02am and on my way to the Magic Kingdom parking lot where it all began. It didn’t feel terrible as I was walking around but I knew that would soon change. I finished off my water, stood in line for a couple character photos, and downed my Rxbar about an hour and a half before the start. Once the corrals opened I warmed up and jogged over to A where I met up with my new Atlanta, runDisney friend, Michael, and a few other of his friends who I met that morning. Having people to chat with and enjoy before the start made time go by so much quicker – it was such a nice change of pace.

As the start fireworks went off we headed out for the first of 13 miles, and an unusual but not unknown issue arose: I was cramping, and early. The heat and humidity weren’t terrible, but this early in the season I was completely unadjusted to the conditions, so I slowed up, way up after blazing through the first four miles. I grabbed both Powerade and water at all but one of the hydration stops (something that is very unusual for me), but I wasn’t the only one and the comradery around the conditions made it that much easier to keep fighting for the finish line. That and the fact that running through Pandora at night is incredible and turning down the main street in Hollywood Studios is stunning, every mile really is magic.

Finally, the 13-mile mark, and then I turned the corner and the finish line lay right ahead. I didn’t finish with a great time, but a few fun moments of getting jumped at by a storm trooper right at the line and then meeting up with my friends for character photos at the end help the recovery efforts 10-fold. I still managed to finish 7th overall and 1st in my age group so it’s exciting to add a new plaque for the shelf! Another perk was the ALL GLUTEN FREE snack box. FINALLY!

One of my favorite moments of the whole trip came during the post-race brunch. I always try to book a new restaurant on each of our trips and preferably at a new resort. So, I booked Olivia’s Café at Old Key West. Old Key West is a DVC resort so it’s a little quieter and serene. We sat a small table next to the window overlooking the lake as we dreamt about this trip and those to come, Jon over Banana French Toast and me over an omelette w/ gluten free toast. These moments are my favorite as we quiet back down before we head home to the crazy of life. Olivia’s is much like the Grand Floridian in price point, variety, and taste and I always lean towards the Grand. However, it’s a little less intimate so it depends on what environment you are looking for. And then we were headed to the resort to pack up and head out.

Also shout out the Orlando International Airport for some incredible upgrades all-around.

Another great weekend in the books, which means another trip to be planned. Until next time.

I hope this gives you a little insight into race weekends, how we maneuver all the things, and some of the best foodie finds on property!

 

Playing with Passions and Remembering the Reason

I like to run… if you are reading this you most likely know that already.

After my competitive swimming career was over in 2012 and I had recovered from 13 years of my body being subject to incredibly intense training, I missed the competition, I missed the goals, I missed seeing how far my body could go. But I wanted to live my life on purpose no matter what I chose as my sport or physical activity of choice.

During college cross-training had involved a good bit of a running, I could naturally hold my own so I thought I would give running a shot. It started with running ONE mile around the front of my parents neighborhood – it’s a convenient one mile loop – and then TWO miles around the bottom loop at Little Mulberry Park, just a few miles from where my parents live. It felt good, I was running farther and faster, so I signed up for a 5K. It was a disaster. To this day, it still haunts me. That was in November of 2012. It would be a full eight months later before I would try my hand at an actual race. The Peachtree Road Race in 2013 was that moment and while it was grueling, rainy, and exhausting it sparked something new in me. Half Marathon #1 was then placed on the calendar. At this point it wasn’t so much a passion as it was a physical outlet for work days.

Thanksgiving Day of 2013 was long, painful, and really really cold. My first half marathon ever was a crisp 18 degrees, and that 13.1 was happening after recovering from knee pain due to lack of stretching and appropriate recovery. Thankfully, I finished and then hopped on a plane two hours later for a three and a half hour flight to Denver. That is never a good game plan. Yes, my dad half carried me through airport and down the sidewalks of this new and short adventure.

I loved the feeling of finishing, but I needed a do-over. You might not love the first races you ever do, you might think it’s not worth it, you might think you’ll come to love it. And maybe that’s true, but I challenge you to give it one more shot. So I signed up for the Nike Women’s Half in DC slated for April 2014. After spending several weeks fully recovering I hopped back into running slow and steady.

Mom took me up to DC and we explored the city where her and my dad fell in love and explored the way Nike took over and made it an unforgettable experience (it’s also where I found Nuun Hydration). I toed the line against the backdrop of the sun rising above the Capitol and off we went. Words don’t fully embody and describe what happened to me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually during those two hours. It wasn’t any faster than Thanksgiving, but it was completely different in the best way. Something clicked.

I say spiritually and it could raise eyebrows, but here’s what I mean: I have always loved the athletic industry, but as I named our athletic association “the devils playground”, it’s a dark world that can leave you dry and stale when your complete identity is wrapped up in the sport you do and the publicity and acknowledgment you get. The Lord sparked something in my mind that made me wonder how I could enter in to that space and help change that perspective. That we are far more valuable and purposeful than an athletic endeavor.

Unfortunately, the road was more winding and roller coaster-esque than I would have preferred. I am rather shy at first and can be independent to a fault and that caused issues as I tried to get more involved in the running community, but still maintaining the one-man show bit. There had to be more.

My times got faster which helped build confidence, and after I moved back to the city and Jon and I got married with community around us I had very little reason to not show up for the community and start building those relationships that the Lord was pressing me to step into. I started showing up for a group run, but at this time running became more of an obsession. I was taking it too far and still trying to figure it out on my own. Enter over-exercise, disordered eating and everything spiraled be down to the pit.

Passions aren’t meant to be paramount. Jesus is our purpose, and the passions are that which we are used to point to him. I lost that in this season, and it took so many months and even years to work through mud and create, what I hope to be, a beautiful story that shines light into darkness.

Enter book right, during this season of recovery and refocusing my passion and purpose it brought lies and darkness that I didn’t even realize was there due to events that had occurred many years ago. In every way this season has been incredibly hard, but it’s also been incredibly restorative and refreshing to weed out some of the yuck and let the Lord start to light it up and give it beauty. And now I sit here smoothing out some of the final edits in my first book centered around all of this and I am so excited to share it with you in the coming months.

Let your passion shine His light, and remember where your focus should truly lie. Identity’s don’t come from earthly things, they come from your Creator.

For now friends,

Jordan

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