ahhh, the life of a diplomatic princess . . .

Archive for the tag “Run the Edge”

We Run in the Footsteps of Giants

One thing running has helped me internalize is that my thoughts are powerful. Thoughts, and the direction they take, can be the difference between having an amazing run and having a run that is torment. I’ve also learned that even when I’m having a run full of self-doubt and general suckage, I need to keep moving forward, just one foot in front of the other, in order to come out the other end. Stopping during a run, even one that feels awful, is never an option because then the negativity wins, and I get stuck there — and I will never let negativity win. I remind myself often that mentally or physically tough runs can be a gift, because those are the runs that steel you, that teach you what you are made of.

A few days ago I wrote a blog piece entitled “PETA’s Silence About Cyber-Stalking Speaks Volumes.” I don’t want to go into detail about the cyber-bullying and stalking that continues on Twitter, simply because I’m not giving a troll, or trolls, any more air than I am forced to. And because, in order to balance out the negativity, I think it’s time for a blog that focuses on being fearless.

Today a friend of mine tagged me in a video of a fearless woman who just ran the International Pars Marathon in Iran, which women are banned from running. But one woman, a woman names Mahsa Torabi, made the incredibly brave decision to run the marathon. She is a woman paving the way for other women, and girls, who will follow in her footsteps.

Running has taught me that I am stronger than I think, that I can do more than I believed myself capable of doing, that I can push through pain and come out the other side feeling unstoppable. And I am constantly inspired by my fellow runners — both female and male. I love my tribe beyond the telling of it. I love their positivity, I love how supportive they are, I love how freely they share their stories, I love how they are largely non-judgmental of other runners. I love that it’s a given that we each run our own race, at our own pace, but that we are all in this crazy-ass tribe together.

And I couldn’t ask for better role models for my children.  Meb Keflezighi is an absolute favorite in our house, and whenever I need a pick me up I watch this video of his victory at the Boston Marathon the year after the bombing:

Because how can you help but smile from ear to ear after watching that? Now that I’ve mentioned our love for Papa Meb I’ll go back to the women.

Deena Kastor is another favorite in our house:


and any mention of her name is usually followed by my oldest saying “she’s such a beast!”

Lauren Fleshman, whose sense of humor and outspoken advocacy for body positive thinking I admire every bit as much as the fact that she is a kick-ass runner:


The three women who will be representing the US in the next Olympics — Amy Cragg, Des Linden, and Shalane Flanagan. It was a thrill to watch them run in the trials and we will be on the edge of our seats when we watch them compete in the Olympics:

Kara Goucher, whose running is as inspiring as her absolute unwillingness to accept anything of herself that is less than what she can give. And she has the most infectious smile!

And, of course, Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run Boston:

Kathrine is a trailblazer for women in running, and was my first running hero. She has dedicated her life to bringing girls and women into running and now heads up 261 Fearless, an ever-growing organization that helps women join together in running and being fearless.

I am a very ordinary runner. But running empowers me, makes me feel strong, and I know I run in the footsteps of giants. Women who have come before me and fought for my right to do something I love, for my daughter’s right to run and compete. And women who are still fighting for themselves and others being held back by misogyny and bigotry. And the runners around me — both physically and virtually — inspire me every day. Sometimes when I need strength on a run I think of Deena Kastor and Kara Goucher. Sometimes I think of a woman I saw during a race we ran last time we were home. Eric and I had already gotten our bananas and Gatorade, we’d hung around for a bit soaking in the atmosphere and cheering runners as they crossed the finish line. Then we’d decided to head home, walking along the race route. I was clapping for the runners who were passing when I saw a woman running, she had the same look on her face that I’m sure I get when a run is really tough. I stopped walking and started clapping harder for her, I shouted encouragement — she looked up from the street and at me, got a huge smile on her face, nodded as if to say “you’re right, I’ve got this” and ran faster towards the finish line. She inspires me — her unwillingness to give up inspires me.

Sometimes in running you just have to remember it’s only a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, everything else is secondary. Which is pretty much how life works in general. One foot in front of the other, cherish the joy, know you can make it through the pain, soak in the beauty around you, get lost in the sound of your own heartbeat, smile when you feel like you can’t, don’t let negative thoughts ruin the gifts in your life, embrace your tribe wholeheartedly, and, always, always, always …



Learning to Embrace the Turtle

One of my favorite stories is one my Dad told me from his time in Thailand years ago when he was working with Vietnamese refugees. On his off days he would go to the Buddhist temple by his house, he would teach English to the monks and the monks would teach him Thai. While he is not a religious man he was intrigued by Buddhism so he asked one of the monks how he would go about becoming a Buddhist, the monk replied “If you feel like you are a Buddhist, then you are a Buddhist,” which is exactly something I would imagine a Buddhist monk saying. Stick with me, I’ll curve back to this story.

On New Year’s Day my DH, Eric, and I made our way to the gym and ran our final run of a 36 day running streak challenge from Runner’s World magazine. My muscles were fatigued, I was feeling every run I’d done over the past 35 days, but I was motivated by the accomplishment of running 36 days in a row. We both planned to do a longer run, which meant my mind had a lot of time to wander and mull, and it did, I began thinking about the internal journey running had taken me on over the past two years.

Over the summer, when we were in the US on home leave and doing a lot of running on the gorgeous trails of rural Maryland and in Minneapolis, I started lovingly referring to myself as the “Speedy Turtle,” my pace is south of speedy and I’d struggled emotionally with that. But, with each run, I began to embrace my turtle self, I began to remind myself that I may not be the quickest but I never quit, my pace may be slow but I always put one foot in front of the other. I’d been calling myself a runner for some time but, until this summer, it felt not quite true, not because it wasn’t but because I was judging myself as not good enough to really be given the title of runner. Over the summer, I stopped paying so much attention to how quickly other people were running the trails and started focusing on my run, on how I felt about it, on what my body was doing. I was there, on the trails, several days a week, giving it my everything–and I finally started to realize that I should call myself a runner because it was true.

During the streak I started getting faster, at first without even realizing it, and then because I was pushing for it, and it was a revelation because of what was motivating me to do it. In the past I’d pushed myself to be faster because I thought it was something I needed to do, and every time I didn’t go “fast enough” I felt not good enough. During the streak I began to push myself to be faster because I wanted it, because it felt good to work my body harder than I had before, to shave seconds off previous times, to finish a run knowing I left everything on the road or the mill. And my arms fully encircled two truths …

The first is that I am a Speedy Turtle, and that’s just fine. All the feelings of not being good enough, not being fast enough, were causing damage to my self-esteem, and it was eating away at the absolute joy and release I find in running. A friend of mine who is also a runner summed it up perfectly when she wrote something along the lines of how comparing yourself to someone else is a form of self-violence, I read that and it resonated so strongly with me. Why should I chip away at this incredible gift I’d decided to give myself by comparing myself to others? Why should it matter to me how fast they are going? Everyone runs their own pace, everyone runs their own runs. These are things I had been saying to myself for two years but had never fully believed until I opened the door to them over the summer, and until the streak finally allowed me to let them in. Somewhere on that last run of the streak I thought of my dad and the Buddhist monks and it dawned on me, if you feel like a runner, then you are a runner. Don’t complicate it, don’t weigh it down, just run.

I learned a lot about myself during the streak, and I learned a lot about my tribe, my fellow runners. I belong to a FB group of ex-pat runners, many of whom were also running the streak. Every day I went to this group and read about the runs that people had taken, I read the words of encouragement from the streakers and from other runners in the group, and I was reminded of what a remarkable tribe runners are. Everyone is running their own run, very few are judging someone else’s run. This group is the only FB group I’ve ever belonged to where I’ve never seen one bit of negativity, or judgement, or snarky commenting–just support, words of wisdom, shared joy, and a common love of the run. I am so grateful for my worldwide tribe, and for their unconditional encouragement, for their humor, and for just knowing they are out there running.

So my second truth went along with my first, I must treat myself with the same encouragement and kindness that I treat other runners, and that I have received from other runners. I never find myself judging another runner, I just don’t do it because I love, in a pure and unconditional way, my fellow tribe members and it wouldn’t even occur to me to judge one of them. I finally realized that, as a member of that tribe, I should give myself the same level of respect and support I give to, and receive from, others. It sounds elementary but it took me a while to get there!

I am gifted many things through running, and one of my favorites is how it pushes me to venture outside my comfort zone emotionally and physically. This year Eric and I have signed up for a challenge called “Run the Edge,” where you challenge yourself to run and/or walk 2015 miles in 2015. Since there are two of us we’re splitting the challenge in two and logging running miles (if we were each doing it on our own we would log walking miles as well because, well, 2015 is a HUGE number). Even cut in half to 1,007.5 miles it’s pretty intimidating, definitely outside of my comfort zone, and will require a whole lot of determination. But I know, because of my journey towards self-acceptance, coupled with the love of my runner hubby and the support of my tribe, I will do it! Run on, my fellow runners, and continue to be the absolute rock stars that you are!

Done with the 36 day streak and holding the Mile 1 bib for Run the Edge!

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