Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pear Blossom: Overcoming a mental block

Growing up as a kid, it was a tradition to head down to the start/finish of the Pear Blossom Run every April to cheer on my dad, and then head to the parade, which I was involved in several years, either as part of the swim team "float" OR leading the band through the streets of downtown Medford.

It was my first year back in Medford following college graduation {'06}, and my dad's first Pear Blossom after taking several years off.  I vividly remember spending the morning at the finish, cheering people in as they rounded the corner to the final stretch; from more seasoned runners to first time joggers, from teenagers to individuals in their 60s and 70s.  As I watched all of these people cross the finish line with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, I left feeling inspired. Inspired to not be on the sideline the following year, but rather one of the people crossing the finish line.  I told my dad that next year I would be running with him.

April 2007 rolls around, and as a novice runner, I had a few training runs under my belt, was too naive to know how undertrained I really was, and toed the line for my first race ever {10 miles} IN THE POURING RAIN...with my dad on the sideline cheering.  My dad used "shin splints" as his out, but truth be told, he is a fair weather runner and doesn't do rain....10 miles later, a desolate finish line due to the weather, blisters, and pruned up feet, I vowed to never {well at least not the following year} run the Pear Blossom again; which seems to be a reoccurring trend every year...

I've learned to never say never, because I was back at the start line in 2009, and have run it every year since.

The out-and-back course is boring, with the last 2 miles being excruciatingly painful...both physically and mentally!  a fun, fast, flat route, and a great community event that brings together runners of all levels! One of my favorite parts of the race, and of any out and back course, is when runners reach the turn around point and start crossing the other runners on the course; there is so much camaraderie, support and encouragement.

Over the last 3 years, despite my running significantly improving, my Pear Blossom times have drastically's ALL mental!  In an effort to change my mindset from never again to this is THE year, I am running the course several times prior to the race itself {something I never do}, determined to break through my mental block, that is the Pear Blossom.

Race PR: 1:29. 01 {8:54 avg}

Trial Run #1: 1:33.32 {9:12 avg} Went out pretty conservative, increasing pace over the last 5 miles

Trial Run #2: 1:27.32 {8:43 avg} *course PR

Saturday's run was a step in the right direction.  This is about believing in myself.  Being comfortable being uncomfortable. Doing what I know my body is capable of doing. Running a strong mental race. Turning the corner to the finish line with a huge smile on my face, knowing I gave it my all and left it all on the course!

I'm going to throw this out there...2014 Pear Blossom Goal...average pace in the 8:30s.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Friendship Finances

Disclaimer: This is NOT actually about finances, buying our friends, or truly equating friends to money! But the analogy is rich with opportunities. 

After drafting this post on Saturday, Sunday's church service was "Finding Joy In Your Friendships" and provided me with additional thoughts & ideas to enhance my post.  

Recently I have spent a lot of time thinking about and reflecting on how blessed I am to have so many amazing friends.  Friends near and far, who understand me, who are always just a a phone call/text away, friends who come to me for support, encouragement or just to laugh and share stories {as I do to them as well}, friends who I met via social networking and are now in real life friends, friends who have encouraged me to be the best ME that I can be!

I have also recently been thinking about and reflecting on the friendships/relationships in my life {past and current} that don't produce as much fruit, and appear to be almost be one sided.  I am not saying that you should only invest in a friendship in which you receive just as much in return, but there are relationships that tend to suck you dry.  

This deep thinking of mine was sparked the other night when I attended Fight Night, and ran into a dear friend of mine, who unfortunately I had a rather large falling out with.  Lindsey, the leader of Fight Night,  talked about how we are called to love and stand by our friends through the trenches and not turn our backs on them; this struck a chord in me.  The entire evening I had a tug at my heart to make amends with my dear friend and when we did I was filled with an overwhelming, tear inducing, sense of joy as an underlying barrier was broken down between the two of us.

During what was a stressful week, when emotions were high, I had some what of a personal revelation:
Friendships are a lot like financial investments: 

Invest in friendships with the greatest return.  The return can come in several forms: reciprocated support & encouragement, blessings for reaching out to someone in need who might not be able to provide you anything in return, a friend to spend time with laughing, crying and making making memories, etc

Invest in friendships with a long term return.  I feel beyond blessed that I have so many lifelong friendships.  I might not talk with some of my friends daily, weekly,  or even monthly, but I know without a doubt we would be there for each other to celebrate life's accomplishments, provide comfort, support & encouragement during times of need, and are always just a phone call away, able to pick up right where we left off.

Long term investments experience highs and lows.  Friendships are tough.  There will be highs and lows, and we are called to stick by one another; supporting, encouraging and loving each other through those highs and lows.  

Interest is based on the investment.  It's important to shift our focus, looking out for other's interests above our own, rather than calculating things for our own interest, and not others.  

Friendships require an investment of time.  A significant amount of time is required in order to establish wealthy relationships.  

Avoid the Get Rich Quick {pseudo}friendships.  Be aware of superficial friendships that offer a false sense of wealth, such as those based on status {weather it be in real life OR in the social media world}, acceptance, wealth, or what we perceive they can provide us with.  

While reflecting on the friendships in our lives it is just as important to ensure that as a friend we are a good investment for others; not only focusing on what is in it for us, but what you can give in return.  For me personally, when it comes to friendships, I do my best to be all in, with a focus on quality over quantity.

Tom, my pastor, added two additional qualities that I believe will add wealth to any friendship: 
Cultivate Transparency: "One thing all people who have deep and lasting relationships have in common is openness, allowing people to see their hearts!" Remove any masks, allowing people to see our hearts and who we really are.  
Love Does: In friendships, we must be willing to sacrifice AND communicate affection, letting the people we care for and love know it! 

Invest wisely, as friendship is a valuable commodity!  

Thursday, February 6, 2014


All aboard the #PLEAKING Train.

One cold December evening, when I was kind of in a funk, and needed a goal, something to work for, I received a text from a friend saying she wanted to do a plank streak {hence the term #PLEAKING} and asked if I wanted to join in on the fun....why not!? 

As we were discussing the logistics of the streak and how we would make it to 5 min {and not wanting to sound like a wimp, as I know Meghan is the core expert}, I threw out that we should start at 2 min, and increase by :05 sec intervals every day. Meghan agreed and so the streak began.

Being that we are both Type A,  a Google doc was a must to track our #PLEAKING.

Yes, there were times along the journey from 2 to 5 minutes that I wasn't sure I would make it 5 minutes, but I continued to dig deep and BELIEVE! 

A few keys to success:
1. Set YOUR OWN goal, pick a starting place, and gradually increase, taking baby steps, to your final goal
2. Focus on relaxing and releasing any tension when the going gets tough while planking...YES, while planking, all muscles should be tight, but not necessarily tense. I noticed as the time would increase and my muscles were fatigued, my shoulders would begin to tense up. When you notice this happening, take a deep breath and focus on relaxing the muscles in your body that are tensing up {while keeping core muscles tight}.
3.  Its an issue of mind over matter...
  • Set a timer, so your time is running DOWN not up! Also, set the time and forget it! 
  • Find something to focus your mind on...whether it be meditating/praying OR rocking out to your favorite pump-up song..anything to make the time go faster 
4.  BELIEVE in yourself...because you WILL do it!
5.  SMILE!!!

When I originally boarded the #PLEAKING train, I envisioned planking everyday until I reached 5 minutes! Well, once I hit the 3:45 mark, I knew my body was going to need occasional back and neck were tight and causing me discomfort during the day and on my runs. It's important to allow our bodies time to rest and recover, in order to continue to build strength. From that point on, I would take a day or two off in between each plank...until I reached 5 MIN!!!

It makes me happy to receive texts from friends about their planking progress, and reaching their goal 5 seconds at a time! What is YOUR plank goal? 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

{DIY} Chalkboard Cheese Platter

Occasionally my inner Martha Stewart comes out, and when it does, it usually includes chalkboard paint and starts at Pinterest:

This platter is perfect for serving cheese, cookies, or any other goodies you might want to label {because everything is better with a label}.

you'll need:
  • a porcelain platter
  • painters tape
  • Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Chalkboard Paint {also available on Amazon}                                   *Don't use regular chalkboard paint; only works with porcelain paint
  • soft bristle paint brush
how to:
1. Make sure your platter is clean and dry.
2. If desired use painter’s tape to mask off the edges of the platter, otherwise skip the tape and freehand it.
3. Please note that this particular porcelain paint says it’s not recommended for surfaces that come in contact with food. However, it’s water based and non-toxic, and the folks at Dick Blick suggest painting a dinner plate with it on their website...
4. Apply the paint with a soft bristle brush.  {I only did one coat of paint, but you can do two two coats of paint if you'd prefer}
5. As soon as you are done painting carefully remove the tape if you used it {before the paint dries}
6. Let the paint dry for 24 hours. Then, bake your platter following the instructions printed on the back of the paint bottle. After baking turn off the oven and leave the platter inside until it has gradually cooled to room temperature. After you bake it the paint is dishwasher and microwave safe.

The perfect hostess gift {paired with my homemade vanilla} 

This is a perfectly imperfect homemade gift {as I am not the best painter} for any occasion OR for you next party!