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

 

 

 

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

The World Needs More Parks

Isolation.

The enemy lives there. He yearns for you to meet him there, to be anxious with your own thoughts, to fear the outside and the attacks it may bring. On the brink of training for my first pro race and a few speaking engagements he whispers those lies into my head that I’m better off alone… when the majority of our culture centers around food and meals it can seem easier to just stay home. When the “stability” of isolation can seemingly combat the anxiety that can come with meals or large arrangements of food, everyone suffers.

And I love coffee shop dates just as much as the next person, but I believe the world needs more parks…

Jon and I were driving home yesterday and the old Boys & Girls Club off North Druid Hills was completely flattened. While completely aware of the real estate demand in Atlanta, our undertone thought was “How great would it be if we had another park?”.

In a culture that battles not only excessive screen time but also the epidemic of Mental Health related illnesses, how great would it be to have more spaces to engage with people away from distraction or anxiety?

While there are moments that facing a fear head on are important and necessary, there are as many times where handling it means creating a new space where the light can shine. Gathering in community, basking in creation, and letting truth shine into the darkness, into the lies that isolation can bring.

And yes, parks are “everywhere”, but within walking distance, a place that you can truly be a neighbor? In Atlanta, usually not, and I argue even in NYC where everyone walks everywhere and there is a giant green space to explore people are still longing for close by intimate spaces. A place where activity and community meet on an intimate scale.

So maybe the resources aren’t there for me personally to create a new park, but that doesn’t mean opportunity isn’t there to help gather people. So that’s the hope: to create a park, but like a Church isn’t just the building, so the park is more than land, it’s a people coming together, sharing life, being active, and experiencing freedom together.

In September the desire is to create these parks for women to come together engage and keep taking steps forward, hence Fueling Her Forward began.

But before that happens I challenge you to get outside, get you some vitamin D, and ask the Lord to shine in the darkness. Break the chains of isolation and be free! The lies and anxiety DO NOT get the last word.

Any thoughts? Questions? Ideas? Email me jordan@creativekitchenrunner.blog

For now friends, Happy Monday!

Jordan

 

 

 

Getting to Healthy & the Hands that Help

You are not alone. Maybe you need to read that 100 times to even start believing it, and if thats what it takes the rest of this blog post can wait, it’s on the internet it’s here forever.

Jon and I were sitting out on the porch outside our apartment when my phone rang, it was my mom. Answering it as usual since this wasn’t uncommon, her voice sounded more serious than normal. Her and my dad were on the other side as the four of us sat on the speaker about to dive in to a conversation that helped redirect my unhealthy course of taking “health” too far.  Starting to talk through the things that could help me come back to healthy was at times hard and uncomfortable but completely necessary.

You have to start by being okay having those conversations with those that love you.

HONESTY TIME: Around the time we got married three years ago I was heavier than I would have liked to be post swimming career and just getting into the running scene. When I got our wedding album back and realized just how far it had gotten everything changed, except this change was far too drastic. March of 2017 the weight had come off two-fold. When I came to the realization of how far I had let myself dive in to this lifestyle – it was devastating. Tearful and angry at myself and incredibly strong willed. why couldn’t I just flip a switch and it would fine? In my mind (which was skewed at the time) I believed it wouldn’t be that hard, but a few months passed with very little progress, and I realized this wasn’t something I could do alone.

So maybe you should stop right here… maybe the conversations have started but you are still trying to face it headfirst, on your own and you’re exhausted with little change; maybe you need to realize that the burden you are carrying is just too heavy, and that you were so sure of your independence that you forgot you have a Heavenly Father who wants you to be dependent on Him. And part of that is allowing your community and/or finding a community to come alongside you. 

So stepped in my parents who helped me build a strong community with a fountain of knowledge on all things fitness, nutrition, and all around mental & physical health. There were things I could have NEVER known for myself, and that’s likely true in whatever health or any type of challenge YOU may be facing!

My team was top. I honestly could never thank them enough. The people who called the darkness into light and helped get me on the train towards healthy were a rock. Even in the ugly conversations God used them to help reshape my future, and maybe more importantly – to give me one. Emotional, Mental, and Physical Health isn’t something to be taken lightly, it’s what allows us to walk out our purpose and calling and be the version of us He created and desires for us to be!

INVITE THEM IN. YOU AREN’T A BURDEN. YOU ARE LOVED CHILD OF GOD.

Now let’s talk about YOUR people, your community, your team, and if you are those people I want to encourage you also:

It’s okay to ask, it’s ok to speak up and let them know you are worried, and it’s okay to not have words to say and you just have to be. One of my close friends ended a conversation about where I was with the comment, “I didn’t know if I could ask or say something”. This was close to a year ago, but the comment has resonated with me. The person you love might not be ready to hear or deal with it, but it is ALWAYS ok to say something and ask questions for the sake of the ones you love. It also might be exactly what they needed to hear.

This stuff is messy. And it’s ok to be scared and it’s ok to be loud whoever you are – in the midst of battle or supporting and fighting alongside them. Community is important and YOU MATTER!

Wherever you fall or if you just want to tuck some of this away for anything in the future – here are a few resources:

  1. National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) – this is a GREAT place to start if you have questions or concerns or are reaching out for help. Even if you don’t have the exact symptoms there are some great resources!
  2. Ilana Katz – Dietician – if you want to start getting some step by step coaching (in Atlanta)
  3. Run Fast Eat Slow – I’ve linked this before, but it is a great resource for healthy and mindful cooking, as well as how to think about food with a healthy lens!

**Also note I am writing this from the perspective of fitness, nutrition, and mental health, but it can be applied in so many ways**

I hope this encourages you to take steps on one side or the other if you find yourself in a similar situation.

We are all in this thing called life together, let’s encourage and love the best we can.

Jordan

 

Would You Believe Me if I Told you…

A fear of flights, and dread of long car rides have had quite a stronghold in my life. From panic attacks in grounded planes to simple temper tantrums over sitting in the car for too long the ups and downs that go with travel have caused the thing my husband loves the most: travel anxiety. So when people who know this about me hear about my escapades to Uganda, or Thailand, across the country, or even car rides to Disney – they are usually in complete disbelief. Why?

Because a fear shouldn’t stop you from experiencing the best things this world has to offer, and since the majority of the time this comes with on your feet, get your hands dirty adventure, missing out is not an option. Neither is calling. The Lord put us on Earth with purpose and He does not desire that we inhibit that purpose simply because of fear.  Fear is not from Him, and it doesn’t envelope the joy and freedom He wants us to experience every single day.

And every single time the street moves beneath my feet in a brand new city as I race down them with hundreds of people all over the world, or dig through the dirt in Africa, or horseback ride down the beaches in the Caribbean there is never a regret for taking the risk and facing my fear of flying or travel anxiety, and it shouldn’t for you either.

Adventure and exploration are just ways to experience all that God created, and it’s worth the risk every. single. time.

I’m here because…

Why? Why do I run, why do I feel pulled to the community, why do I wake up at 4am sometimes to run my body to the ground? Part of me says the competitor in me and the need to be active. By nature, busybody would be an accurate description of my days, but the other part of me feels a true calling to the world of endurance athletics and the community around it. Contrary to what people believe, I don’t enjoy every single run, but I do appreciate every day that I get to put one foot in front of the other. While being a morning person is in my nature, not every wake up call is enjoyable, but it’s always worth it.

The community is worth it, the engaged and encouraging people that surround the running environment is tops, and for a year or so now running for a cause has been a forefront of my heart and love of running. Remembering that any day the ability to do something you are so passionate about could get taken away, and every day you have the ability to support those who can’t. The app Charity Miles, the charity runs, even just the simple email to a friend to say “you can do it”, “just 10 minutes today”. It’s the people that are the because, the running is a decompressor and stress relief in and of itself, but people help keep the drive, and the dreams alive.