Slow and Steady Wins the Race

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turtleThis past weekend I ran my second Zooma Run 10K Race. Since I started running a few years ago, I’ve mostly ran 5K races. Last year, I challenged myself to run the inaugural Zooma 10K Chicago because I was intrigued by the idea of a woman’s race and the benefits offered. I had a great weekend, so I knew I wanted to sign up for the race again this year.

Last year, my training was cut short due to a knee injury. I was glad to just finish the race, and knew I would be in pain afterwards. This year, I started increasing my running duration then slowly my mileage earlier on in hopes of being able to run all 6.2 miles. This was working well until my knees starting hurting again about 3 weeks before the race. I was frustrated with being injured and having to halt my training since it hurt to only walk. My goal was again to finish the race and take care of myself.

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On race morning, I was up before the sun and had a beautiful view of the sun rise over the lake. I was excited for the race to begin, warmed up, and headed to the start line. I knew if I ran at a steady tempo, I would be able to run longer before stopping. I created a playlist of songs that I knew would motivate me while running. As I started running, I just enjoyed the feeling and beautiful view of the city. While running, as things got more challenging and I got tired, I give myself pep talks: “Keep going”, “You Can Do It”. I feel like the turtle in The Tortoise and The Hare-“Slow and Steady Wins the Race”. I gave myself a pat on the back at each mile mark. It was helpful that Zooma put inspirational signs and jokes throughout the race: If Athletes get Athlete’s Foot, what do Astronauts get? Mistletoe. Why do runners run early in the morning? They get it out of the way before their body realizes what they’re doing. And my favorite, “Nothing is Impossible, the Word Itself Says “I’m Possible” by Audrey Hepburn.

By reminding myself to go slow and steady, I was able to push myself and run longer and farther than I thought possible. I ran 5 miles before stopping for a short walk and water break, and then continued for the last mile. I was not expecting to run 6 miles nor end the race with little knee pain. Not only that, but I set a Personal Record by running a faster time than I did last year. Immense pride and relief in myself doesn’t do justice to what I was actually feeling.

This is a reminder, especially as the school year is about to begin, that Slow and Steady Really Does Win the Race. We all set goals and work at our own pace to achieve them. NO matter what is the pace, we can accomplish anything we set our mind to.

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Lessons from Yoga

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In the past year, I’ve become an avid yoga enthusiast.  I only practice 1-2 times per week, but when I get in that zone, it is a true destresser.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to clear my mind, but after class I always feel so much better.  And if my mind begins to wander, I lose my focus and fall out of poses!  I’ve also used the breathing techniques to help me calm down in daily life events.  As I’ve increased my practice, I’ve also realized lessons from yoga that can be applied to daily life and the classroom.  Below outlines lessons we can bring into our daily lives.

  • Yoga is differentiated-everyone has different abilities and is at different stages of their practice and that is okay.  There are different options with the poses that the instructor shares, and you get the choice of how far to go based on your flexibility and level.  There are tools to use, such as a block or strap for additional support so you can try a more advanced option.  Also, you are focused on yourself rather than comparing to others around yourself.  Yes, I do look around, in awe of people who can do crazy balances, and know I am not there yet.  And that is okay.
  • Throughout yoga, you are focused on yourself and your breath.  You use this breath to help you push through poses.  Any other thoughts are pushed to the wayside.  Throughout the class, you take moments to return to your breath to regain focus or slow down after a difficult sequence or pose.  If you struggled, this is a chance to regain neutral ground and keep going.  This is why yoga is seen as a stress relief and confidence booster.
  • At the beginning of each class, an intention is set.  Sometimes the instructor gives you a suggestion, sometimes you create your own.  Usually these are a word or a phrase, the reason you decided to come to class that day.  Imagine if everyone woke up and set an attention to try their best, listen to themselves, appreciate the world, or be awesome everyday!
  • Yoga is about growth.  Each class you can push yourself further or try something new.  Over time, you gain strength and can notice the difference.  Then you can set new goals.  There are poses I am doing now that I didn’t think were possible for my body to do; one day I decided to try and succeeded!  It was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and helped my confidence grow.  The worst thing that happens, is you fall out of a pose; then you try again.  I watch others who have succeeded and have something to aspire to as I gain more strength.  Also, the instructors are very supportive-they offer feedback throughout class and are willing to help and assist if you want.
  • At the end of class, time is spent to relax and recover; often, everyone breathes together as a community.  In her closing remarks, the instructor says to leave what happened on the mat.  Throughout class she also says to listen to your body-some days you may be capable of doing more than others, but what is important is you came to class and gave effort.  Everyone worked their hardest and deserves the chance to revel and take in that moment.

As I continue my practice and build strength, I hope to also bring these lessons into other moments of my life.

Namaste!

Crossing the Finish Line-Accomplishing a Goal

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At the beginning of the summer, I learned about a new race coming to Chicago sponsored by Zooma, an organization promoting and celebrating women running.  I was intrigued because not only would I run along the beautiful lake in Chicago, but there was a weekend of events attached and awesome swag for registering-a racing expo, speakers the night before the race, a Mocktail party, and a post-race celebration with yoga, massages, food, and wine!  I signed up to run my first 10K race and began thinking how I was going to accomplish this goal.  I had never run more than a 5K, but with determination and some training, I knew I would be able to do it.

However, my training was quickly slowed as I injured my knee.  I would be in severe pain after running only a couple miles, then walking and stairs were painful for the next couple days.  This left me running about once a week and then taking a break from exercising for a couple days after that.  I consulted trainers and therapists for stretching my IT band (which was causing the knee pain), ran with bands around my knee to try to prevent pain, and continued an overall strengthening plan of weights, yoga, and Pilates.  After running a 5K race mid-July, I took a two week break from running.  Icing and Aleve became daily friends.  I continued taking long walks, including around the San Diego Zoo on vacation, but was not able to train; this was 2-3 weeks before my race!

As the race week approached, I was torn what to do-I still wanted to run but knew I was not prepared to run 6.2 miles and was worried about further injuring my knee.  However, I had set the goal to run and was still intrigued by the celebration weekend.  I decided I was going to run; I would do a combination of running and walking, but I would cross the finish line.

Friday night, I headed into the city to begin getting into race-mode.  I picked up my race number, walked around the expo, heard some speakers, met a friend for dinner, and went to Mocktails before spending the night in a luxurious room.  Saturday morning I woke up to get ready and headed to the start of the race.  It was nice being around other women runners and feeling the positive energy and excitement.  However, I was anxious as the start time approached; I had never run 6 miles and was nervous about my knee hurting.  I knew I could run at least half the race (3 miles) and hoped adrenaline would get me through the rest; I knew once I stopped to walk, it would be much harder to get back into running.

Finally the race began.  I started my music playlist, filled with songs to keep my energy up.  I waved to my family there to support me.  Throughout the race, I repeated in my head, “Slow and steady”.  You can do this.  Keep going”.  While my knee hurt, I kept running.  Seeing my family at the halfway point gave me a burst of energy.  I ran 4 miles, 2/3 of the race, before stopping to give my knee a break.  I walked a bit, ran another mile, then walked again because I wanted to run across the finish line.  Half a mile from the end, I began running and pushed through knowing the finish line was close.  Finally, I could see it.  I kept running and finally crossed the finish line.  I did it.  I ran and finished a 10K and accomplished my goal.

The past year has been filled with personal challenges for me.  Setting and achieving my goal of running a 10K was something I did for me as I’ve worked hard to rediscover my self-confidence and what makes me happy. As the school year is about to begin, I want to carry the “I can do this” mantra into the classroom.  I want to continue having high expectations for my students and helping them set and achieve their own goals.  I want to support them along their learning journeys, let them know it’s okay to make mistakes and have setbacks, but to push through to find success.  I want to see them successfully cross the finish line of success and say “I did it”.

The school year brings new challenges and potential setbacks, but with hard work, we can all accomplish our goals.  What goal will you set for this year?

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