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

Mouth-Breathing is So Unattractive: Listening To Your Body & Fighting the Mental Battle

Mouth breathing is so unattractive, seriously the combination of Darth Vader and exasperated sighs about does a girl in.

Mike could tell right off the bat that I wasn’t myself as we grouped up before the start of Big Peach’s half marathon training run Saturday morning. Mike is my newest running friend, having recognized him from previous events he decided to join the pace group I was leading during this training season. He’s from Philly, having only been in Atlanta for 3 years, and grandfather of two; his drive and encouragement make the miles go faster, however this morning would be particularly tough. My body wasn’t 100% and my normal chipper self felt stuck inside my own head.

Fast-forward to Monday and the mental game started waging – my body still craving rest, but in that state of weakness and vulnerability the enemies lies against wellness were all too loud. Jon joined me for a walk that morning around the park that is now our front porch view and the food game began to start. “You aren’t well enough to run, but that means you can’t eat either” STOP. But my attempt at drowning it out doesn’t last long “you can’t run, you can’t eat, you won’t be able to race well in October so forget racing elite again, you ate unforgiving things yesterday you are just letting sit in your body” FAILURE.

No. The narrative HAS to change. No. I am not going to run when my body says no. Yes. I will trust that my body is going to work the way it was created and tell me what and when it needs to be nourished. No. This doesn’t ruin everything or anything. And it’s all so much easier said than done, but it’s something that is constantly being reinforced in this season.

Getting sick isn’t a norm for me (thankfully), but when it hits it’s just hard, plain and simple. Rest and I don’t have a super close relationship, and forcing myself to go down is like trying to tie up a calf at a rodeo, kicks a-firing, add in the mental health aspect and it’s a full on show.

So what did a series of days with no exercise look like? It looked like continuing to learn to listen to my body and not my head. It looked like choosing Jesus instead of giving way to the lies of the enemy. It meant enjoying a GF Mexican Sandwich w/ bowl of black beans and rice with a kick to help nourish my body last night (and completely and grossly drain my sinuses). I always come back to Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. (check it out here) because these recipes are life giving and consider well-rounded health. It’s writing down all the feelings and voices you are hearing to help work through it instead of letting it compound inside.

BUT it also means utilizing the technology we have available to check in with yourself when you might not quite understand it. My Garmin Forerunner 35 (learn more here) has helped me track my heart rate and understand how my body is adapting to certain things since I’m under the weather.

It’s everything about continuing this journey.

If anything envelopes these thoughts above it’s that we are created so beautifully and intricately that even though our bodies can sometimes fail us, they are also INCREDIBLE machines that give us signals and cues to what and when our bodies need certain things, food, rest, exercise, and HELP. Don’t get wrapped up inside your own head and forget to listen to everything else that’s going on.

You are stronger than you think, more capable than you think, and completely enabled by your Creator!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Tech Shirts are worth it.

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

    3. It’s not just a 10K.

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

   4. Give yourself grace, and truly experience it!

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

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

Jordan

The “D” Word… Discipline

Discipline.

It can be the ugliest of words, because you know the potential of beauty it holds, but the painful steps it takes to get there. People don’t necessarily like discipline, they like routine. And if you can adjust routine just a bit then change will happen. Those two words can often get confused or used to mean the same thing. My argument – routine is just part of discipline and yes changing some things about it can influence discipline in different (and important) areas of life, it isn’t everything.

It’s a complicated equation that adds up to discipline and that’s usually why in the busyness of today’s culture we miss developing it  – usually there is a quicker solution to  patch the problem. No longevity, no consistency, no chance to see the real beauty that it holds.  So let’s dig into the ugly and talk through some real life ways to trudge through to the beauty that discipline holds, specifically in the areas of fitness and nutrition.

Disclaimer: Discipline does not mean obsessive. I have fallen into this category in the past, and am still learning just as much as everyone else, and if you find yourself there – talk to someone! Message me, reach out to someone! 

Fitness:

  1. You aren’t the only one. Yes you, text that friend, research groups or gyms in your area, invite someone. In most of the community around me people are constantly looking for people and places to help them get started. But it takes that two or three google searches or texting those two or three friends to actually press START.
  2. Goal set – seriously get a pen and paper with this person or persons above and write it down, put it where you can see it. What you want to accomplish, but also how!
  3. Try things out – try one thing a week, put a calendar reminder on your phone on a certain time every week to try something out until it clicks !
  4. Then write it down some more. Log your workouts and your progress, and check in with your counterparts.
  5. Set a reasonable alarm, or actually work on making space. Maybe you don’t go from 8am wake up calls to 4am, but if you started by twice a week waking up at 6:30a or even 7a to do a quick walk or small body weight circuit then that is step, and ANY step is a great step

Nutrition:

  1. Make it colorful and nutritious: berries, and greens, and sweet potatoes, and avocado on everything! Mix in some almonds, and carrots, and throw in some protein whether thats beans – vegan style – or chicken / fish. If you breakfast is grabbing a bar, wake up 10 minutes earlier to scramble an egg, grab a piece of fruit, and pop that piece of bread in the toaster. I promise it’s worth it, you’ll enjoy your food more and it will leave you feeling fuller!
  2. Just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean you should use it. Just because Chick Fil a is giving a free large waffle fry with mobile order doesn’t mean you cash in – on occasion of course, not if you’ve had Chick Fil a 3 days in a row. Just say no.
  3. Don’t leave food out on the counter for extended periods of time. I know it’s totally our culture to have all the food everywhere, but that’s a sure fire way to not watch what you eat.
  4. If you know you have a particular food you struggle with don’t keep it in the house. One of my biggest struggles is peanut butter, I love the gooey goodness but I’ve set parameters around only buying it so often so if I run out before my next pick up then I am out of luck. No your limits and no that that treats are actually treats and should NOT be staples in our week (like cupcakes).
  5. COOK: you never truly know what all goes into your food if someone else makes it. The good, the bad, the ugly.. so get into a habit of cooking the majority of the time. Try recipes, invite people over to cook together, experiment with colors, flavors, and actually attempt those 300 Pinterest recipes you pinned 5 years ago.
  6. Or… go to Whole Foods – I mean, because it’s Whole Foods.
  7. Portion Control – while I, admittedly, read food labels too much, they do suggest serving sizes on the back for a reason. Don’t get obsessive but don’t hesitate to do a little look just to see if you are in line with them.

It’s a journey that lasts a lifetime so put in the work to develop those disciplines now. There is no convenient or quick fix. It takes time and effort, but we are all doing this thing called being human together, and even from behind screens we all have things in common and can relate to one another. Be bold, and leverage relationships!

Publix Half Marathon Recap

The Hills don’t lie. Knowing that a colder winter and more treadmill miles could make this race interesting helped me process when the burn started halfway through. The first two miles of this race are relatively easy, straight or just slightly rolling makes it a great way to get warm and let your legs loosen up, especially when the weather is fair. It wasn’t my best half marathon, but it was so amazing in so many other ways.

Typically after waking up on race day and brushing my teeth, the inhaler comes out, when you typically race in Georgia and Florida that humidity can do a number on weaker lungs. This morning though, for whatever reason it didn’t happen. After pulling up to park at the Georgia Aquarium Deck the realization hit me, and the medium sized panic button was pushed; not because I haven’t run without it before, but because the air was slightly stuffy and in 4.5 years of racing, the inhaler had never been forgotten for longer races.

After doing a mile or so warm up, with some shakeout intervals, going ahead into the corral made the most sense. Disney races change your views of corrals, you get in them early and you learn to adjust to warming up in confined spaces. Feeling right at home and simply hanging out until race time the nerves hit me. But why? This was a city that I had conquered more times than could be counted, and yet toeing the line of another half marathon completely caused the butterflies to invade.

The horn went off, my legs got in their groove, and away we went passing through downtown Atlanta and the surrounding neighborhoods. 7am start times are my favorite, because the sun hasn’t quite come up yet, which means you are in prime racing form by the time the sun peaks in all it’s beauty over the buildings and trees. And apart from running around my own city and enjoying everything it has to offer in the form of views, running with the sunrise is one of my favorite things. So combine the two and there is nothing better when the Lord is trying to grab your attention, and in this race He was.

The nerves were there, my legs weren’t quite all the way there and realizing that it might be better to just let myself go on this one helped shape my perspective for this run. “SEE PEOPLE”. See the push assist partners running down the street, see the officers standing in the chilly early morning making sure you stay safe, see the volunteers who have been setting up since 4am to keep you fueled, see the dad who brought his kids out to the course to cheer on every runner new, experienced, old, and young, and show them what it’s like to engage with a community. And see the community with which you are surrounding yourself with.

The hills made it challenging, but the engagement made it fun! Striking up conversations (until the last mile and a half, because breathing became really hard ya’ll), and cheering each other on to more had to become a standard. It’s one of the reasons this community is so pressing on my heart.

Crossing the finish line was just another line, with another time, but the memories on course is what really stuck. Thanks to the Atlanta Track Club and Publix for putting on another great event; and to the brands that keep me going – thank you for continuing to make products that keep people in the game and around the people and sport they love!

The Lord is good!

What fuels me:

Nuun Hydration, Honey Stinger, Balega Socks, Mizuno Wave Rider

The Hotlanta Half is on deck next, but if I can add another half marathon in there before that – I will be looking to travel for one! This week I will get in a 10-miler in the morning, I will ramp to 13 the week after and 15 the week after that before we head off to Thailand for 10 days.

Happy Weekend!

Jordan

Top 5 Favorite Running Spots in Atlanta + A Summer Half Marathon

So one of my girls suggested a blog post about some of my favorite spots in Atlanta to run and as the weather warms up and we start getting a little more active outdoors it’s a great time to explore some new spots. So after I’m finished with my list, I would love to hear yours!

  1. The Belt Line/Piedmont Park – one of the perks of running here is the clean, paved roads that are mostly FLAT, a rare find in Atlanta. The Beltline goes by all the new and flourishing neighborhoods as art displays line the pavement. As you go into Piedmont Park you can usually catch a festival or sporting event in one of the many fields. And weather you trying to loop together a 5K or just some loops around the active oval the ever present skyline will be a beautiful sight. And if you are finishing your run along any section you are set on refueling from Park Tavern, to Ponce City Market, to Krog Street Market – take your pic on food, cuisine, and price. The downside: if you are planning on getting in some serious miles / training make sure to hit this at non peak times, between walkers, bikers, runners, and dogs the trails can get pretty crowded.
  2. Peachtree Street – This is especially useful if the Peachtree Road Race is in your future as it hits a good portion of the run, and a nice workout up Cardiac Hill. Since I live a little north of Atlanta my route runs from Brookhaven through Buckhead and down right until you hit Midtown. While I love the Peachtree Road Race, it’s not why I love running here: mainly there are enough runners to feel a camaraderie, but not enough that you feel like you are being pushed off the sidewalk. Plus, the Buckhead skyline at sunrise is really stunning! The downside: the stoplights, this can really slow you up so if you are working on speed and consistency, it might not be the best option.
  3. Cochran Shoals – For me water just soothes the soul, and running alongside the Chattahoochee River is no exception. Head up just northwest of the city for an easy 3 miles on graveled trail next to the river, or even longer by adventuring onto some of their paved trails just off the river. Crowds aren’t ever too much and you its a scenic and peaceful route with a few cool photo spots. The downside: Parking can get a little tricky, and you definitely have to drive there.
  4. Little Mulberry Park – Ok so you have to head up northeast of the city for a bit to hit this park, but the reason I love it is it’s versatility. With two different paved trails, that remain relatively flat and miles of unpaved trails that take you through grassy fields to waterfalls, from valleys to mountain tops, you get views, miles, and a great workout wherever you are in this park.
  5. Cochran Mill – not to be confused with Cochran Shoals, you can find this on the southwest side of the city. The traffic is light out here in Palmetto, GA, and my friends at Peak Racing put on wonderful events and group runs. The trails are scenic and serene, but be careful not to go out here by yourself – definitely a group activity! The downside: The drive, it’s pretty far away from everything but if you are just looking for you and your partner some long quiet trail miles this is the place for you!

BONUS PICK: Stone Mountain Park – so fun fact I’ve never run around the whole mountain, I’ve hiked it more times than I can count, and have run part of the way. It’s five miles around the mountain, or hmmm rock, and very hilly so you will sure to be in for a good workout, and the fact you have scenic views being next to one of the most notable landmarks in Georgia. Definitely an add to

Want something a little closer, less crowded, and shorter distance? Try these: Morningside Nature Preserve, Kennesaw Mountain (if you are in that area), or Brookhaven Run Park for your furry friends!

****ALSO – If you are looking for a summer half marathon that has great city views, great community and a lot of support check out the Hotlanta Half Marathon, now being run by my friends over at Peak Racing (they also got me into the Cochran Mill Trails)

So go ahead, where do you love to get outside? I’d love to check out some new spaces.

Enjoy the spring and the outdoors!

Jordan