We all need to feel connected

I cant understand why some people feel the need to ignore those they know. If I have learned anything over the last few years, its the power of community and the need to connect deeper with those we know. Wither its asking to meet for coffee, hanging out in groups, or simply saying hi to someone you kinda know when you see them around town. Community is important.

And in a time where we seem to be better connected with our phones over people, the need to connect with others is even great. But how can we actually take them time to put away our phones and make real life connections? How can we shift our ever evolving culture from what it currently is back to simpler times, like when we had to use a land line to call someone and we didn’t always know what people were up to?

I have thrown myself outside of my comfort zone over the last few days. I have decided to stop thinking about doing things that sound interesting and actually going after them. Last night I joined the local volee team and many people from out of town for the Thursday Night Flight Club at the Oiselle flagship store. I don’t know well with new people. I do not run well with people. And I feel that I am beyond awkward. Cue an interesting night. But I ran into a few people that I know from my team. I got to connect with them, I met a few new faces, and I went on a short run that impacted me in more ways then I thought it could. All because I decided to take a risk and stop living through my phone.

I remember the first time I went to November Project, the unsettling feeling of meeting new people AND being the slow person. There really are just something that you can’t overcome. But I met a few people and felt connected like I never had before. And I let it change my life. Week by week I continued to show up and let this community change me. They showed me what it meant to trust the goodness in others, how to try your best regardless of speed, and they empowered me to continue to chase my dream. All because I put my phone down and started making real connections with those around me.

Here is my challenge for you. Next time you are at a coffee shop, grabbing a quick lunch, or simply on a run, look up at those around you. It is easy to get trapped in our own mind, to scroll through the socials why we are in line, or to look down when we are running. The reality is we are all feeling lonely and in need of community. Strike up a conversation with the person in front of you. Say hi to every stranger you meet on your run. AND for goodnesssakes, say hello to the people you know when you run into them around town. Even if you are not best friends. Even if you have not seen them in years. Even if you wish you could shrink into a fly and leave quickly. Say hi, acknowledge their presence, and continue on your way. You might just change their entire day.

-Until next time,
Be fearless, go boldly

Kirkland Shamrock Run 5k

The Kirkland Shamrock Run will be a race I do not soon forget. My official start to the race season of 2018, this race did not disappoint.  As you may recall, I am on a mission to reach my long term goal of a 5k in under 30 minutes. My previous time was 30:50, at a turkey trot and it took everything out of me to get to this time. I’ve spent an entire off season working on strength, form, and my mental game. All to get me to the point where I can make this goal a reality and turn 2018 into my strongest race season yet.

I showed up on race day knowing that I would not reach my 30 minute time cap. Thank you allergies and the beauty of Spring. But my one goal was to have fun and make the most of the day. If I gave the race my all, I would come out a winner.  Race day graced us with unexpected sunshine and I could not have been happier. Joined by a few friends, we set off to warm up for the race and get into the starting line up.

Separated with just the right amount of distance, I joined the back of the running group, knowing that these would be my fellow people for the rest of the race. The race began and the energy was electric. It was almost as if the entire city of Kirkland joined us for this big day. Running out of the marina parking lot, I knew what was waiting for me just around the corner: the dreaded 1 mile hill up to the Kirkland Corridor. Yes, you read that right. A 5k that started with a 1 mile hill climb. But as they say, what goes up, must come down.

I powered after the hill, knowing that hill repeats and stairs have been a big part of my off season training. I could feel my strength as I continued to climb. Yes, I did take a few moments of walking, but played the mental game of “Walk to this light poll and then get back to running”. You know that game… we all play this game. Once we got to the corridor, I knew the worst part would be over. Yet somehow I forgot about the rolling hills for the next two miles that would lead me to the finish line.

I think the fact that I had beautiful views of downtown Kirkland, Seattle in the distance, and Lake Washington made up for the fact that this was a challenging course. But regardless of the challenges, it was an amazing race.

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I crossed the finish line in 30:55 and felt amazing! Not only did I just complete a challenging 5k course, I felt strong. The energy coming into the finish line just as strong as the energy finishing the race. And I knew, without a doubt, that reaching this 5k goal would be mine within a few months. The friends that joined me on the course also had an amazing time and had a few PR’s as well. Overall, the Kirkland Shamrock Run was a great day for all of us.

From the seamless setup and transitions, to the support on the course, a great after party at a local pub, and awesome FREE race photos, there are so many things to love about this race. I am excited about my next 5k and reaching my goal of a sub 30 minute time, but I am also excited to return to the Kirkland Shamrock Run next year.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

The act of leadership

It struck me last week that leadership is a beautiful thing. It is not just something that we do or that is thrust upon us. Its the act of caring so much about something you are doing that you are willing to lead others in the way you do it. And in addition to showing others how you do this thing, you encourage them to find their own way within it.

And that’s the beautiful thing about leadership and those who take on the potential it holds. When they have a vision and understanding of the greater movement and work to pull it together. I have first hand seen what this kind of leadership can do. They way it can take hold of a group of people and form them from strangers to friends, creating ties that resemble family, and helping people find new meaning within their own stories.

This type of leadership is better known as servant leadership. Getting on the same level of those they lead, a leader takes the time to get to know their followers, teaching them how to lead, always willing to step off of the podium to allow others to test their skills, and consistently seeking to serve those among them, even when their followers do not realize it. It’s not leading with a sense of fear that someone else is going to replace you, its leading with the hope that one day you will not be needed as the leader. To do your job so well that others rise up among you and step forward to the challenge of wanting to change the tides. It’s in the simple acts that this type of leader understands the power of leadership and its meaning that expands far beyond themselves.

I have had the privilege of witnessing this type of leadership in a few people. And every time I see it, I am always in awe of how I can replicate it in my own life. How do I serve those who I lead and encourage them to continue to grow to a point where my leadership is no longer needed? How to I make an impact in the lives of everyone I come into contact with without being overbearing about it? And how do I love everyone I meet, regardless of circumstances? How do I show compassion, grace, and encouragement in just one sentence? These are the questions I continue to ask myself every time I meet someone who is a servant leader. And these leaders continue to help shift and change my life, without even knowing it.

My current search in how to properly thank someone who has helped me grow as a leader? How do I help them know just how much of an impact they have had on my life, among many other lives? And as they reach the final day of their impactful leadership, how do we as followers truly send them off? I guess I will tell you after tomorrow, when this fateful day arrives.

I know that when I wake up tomorrow, the day will already feel heavy. That driving into Gasworks will hold a different meaning, and the bounce on top of kite hill may be filled with a few tears. It’s not every day that you hold a retirement party for the founder and co-leader of November Project Seattle. It’s not everyday that you realize exactly what this one person did for a city through their acts of servant leadership. And it’s not everyday that you send them off in style. But it is a common occurrence that we celebrate those among us who have helped shape this movement, both leaders and followers.

So here is a toast to you, Casey. Thank you for taking a chance on this movement and bringing it to Seattle. For getting to know everyone who dared to #justshowup and encouraging each of us on our own journey. You have been a cheerleader, ringleader, instigator, change maker, and Seattle-freeze halter in a community that so desperately needed it. You have helped bring up other budding leaders and shown them how to grow where they are planted. Your loud voice at the top of the hill will not be forgotten, nor your enthusiasm over burpees. Granted, we will still see you on Wednesday, but if you miss a workout here or there, you won’t be subjected to the torture of “We Miss You” like that fateful day last Spring that we all refer to as Where is Casey? (Just over a year ago, mind you!).

Thank you for helping me find a community. For encouraging me in my journey and always asking how I am doing. You have helped change my life in an impactful way. May your retirement be filled with a few warm vacation days, trips around the city, and grand adventures. You will always have this community to lean on, regardless of where you are in the world. And we hope you will continue to #justshowup and spend early mornings with us.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

 

Reality with a side of life

Setting goals and chasing dreams is a huge aspect of my life. In fact, I think it is a huge part of everyone’s life. If we are not setting goals or chasing dreams, are we really living our best life?

But there is a dark side to chasing dreams and goal setting. And that is the cold hard fact that life will always get in the way. We will be thrown an obstacle that we cannot overcome or something will come up that we did not even plan for.

As most of you know, I am currently chasing a dream of running a 5k in under 30 minutes. And much to my surprise, my training and planning for reaching this goal has gone very well. So well, that I am almost afraid for how much I am going to crush this goal. My speed training is paying off, I am learning how to pace myself more evenly, and everything is really clicking currently. Last week, being two weeks out from my first attempt of 2018 I was excited to see what could happen. But then life came knocking at the door.

If you live in Seattle, you have seen the transition from Winter to Spring begin to happen. The flowers are popping out of the ground, the sun is shinning a bit more, and the trees are starting to show signs of life again. You may be thinking “Thanks for the updated, Jenn, now get to the point…”, but there is purpose in this statement. You see, over the last six years or so I have developed an allergy to tree pollen. This is a common thing that can happen. But over the years, it has gotten significantly worse. To the point where random people will stop me to make sure I am OK, because I look like a wreck… Yeah. It’s that bad.

So the significance in all of this is that over the last week, the tree’s are working their magic that make Spring a wonderful time in Seattle and I am sitting in a corner trying not to lose all hope. This is the side of life that is challenging my reality. Today, I forced myself to have the tough conversation with my PT on if going all out next week is a smart thing to do. His response was perfect: “Go have fun with this one. When you are back to normal with your preparatory system, find a race and go all out for that PR!” While my heart sank a tiny bit, I was reminded that I will have many opportunities to chase this goal. I am fortunate that my livelihood does not depend on my success in races. In fact, nothing about running is a risk to the life I live. I get to do this because I love it and want to it.

In the midst of this slight week of challenge, I am realizing that beauty in rest and accepting that life is going to get in the way of our dreams and goals. It is a known fact of life that regardless of how hard we plan, nothing will go the way we want it to- Nothing. EVER. Get used to it now people, because the sooner you learn this lesson, the easier life gets. For now I am beyond grateful that I still get to run. That my training has gone well and my off season proved to be the best thing that was ever forced upon me. My goals will always be there, no matter when I try to accomplish them. Though it will not be this next race where I step up to the challenge, I know that it is going to be an amazing day. We will see what happens in the next week and the goals I want to accomplish in this upcoming race, but for now, I am on a slight break with room for growth, knowing that everything will be OK.

I hope this helps you remember that you can do anything, regardless of the delays that life tosses your way. Keep in mind that you are strong, regardless of the obstacle. Eventually you will reach your goals and dreams. Have flexibility in what life throws your way and remember to keep chasing your best self each and every day.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

What’s your goal?

I keep talking about my word for the year. Believing in myself is not something that comes naturally for me. It has taken time and focused energy to get to the point where I have accepted that I am a runner and capable of the times I have reached in my running. But with my word focusing on my belief in myself, its time I really start to put this into practice, not just in my personal life, but in my training.

My first goal of the 2018 is to complete a 5k in under 30 minutes. This has been something that I have wanted to do for years. YEARS! And I am finally ready to commit and make this goal a reality. This past November I had this goal in the back on my mind and at a Thanksgiving Day 5k I set a new PR of 30:50. I am SO CLOSE to accomplishing this goal. And with this off-season focusing on strength and form work, I know that I am ready to get this time down even more.

On March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day), I will be participating in the Kirkland Shamrock Run 5k and making my first attempt at a sub 30 minute 5k. This will not be easy, in any sense of the word. This course is filled with hills, turns, and everything in between. And if the Seattle area lives up to its name, it will surely rain on this lovely day. But I can’t let this stop me from attempting this goal. I am ready. I am preparing. And this goal is mine!

So here is what training is going to look like for the next few weeks while I prepare for this race:
Speed Work: The only way to run faster in a race is to run faster in practice. As I am coming off of the off-season, I am adding back in speed work days and focusing on holding a pace for longer period of time. Track days, tempo workouts, and fartleks will be the goal workout every Monday, typically in the fashion of a 1 mile warm-up, 3-4 miles in speed workouts, and a 1 mile cool-down.
Strength Training: I have not gotten this far on running alone. Crossfit, stairs, hill repeats, and a running strength class have all attributed to my increase of speed and strength over the last few months. The goal over the next few weeks is to complete 2-3 days of strength training. Just like the saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” my strength training routine has done nothing but help me in my running, so I am not cutting it out in any way!
Long Easy Runs: Yup, you guessed it. Just like the other areas are important, it is still important for me to be running a long run once a week where I can just log the miles. Right now I have been doing between 8-10 miles on Saturday, so I am going to keep this up. This is a time to put to trial the other workouts I have done during the week and find some clarity in my head space.
Nutrition: You might not realize it, but your nutrition plays a huge role in how you preform. I try to eat in moderation, but there are always days where it is easier to grab something on the go instead of making my own meals. My goal for the next five weeks is to find a good base to work off of for my nutrition. From more veggies to proper hydration, I am taking into account everything I would do while training for a half or full marathon. Just because the distance is shorter, does not mean I get to slack in this area.

Well, there you have it. What will happen in the next five weeks will be hard work and the dedication to completing this goal or getting closer then before. I am excited for what is going to happen at my first race in 2018. What are you training for? Are you ready to join me in the year of believing in yourself and crushing goals?

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** Want to join me at the Kirkland Shamrock Run? Use code “AMIREALLYARUNNER” to get 15% off your entry fees. **

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

The Comeback Kid

“Get knocked down seven times, stand up eight.”

The statement rings in my ears as I hear the remarks and read what others write about me. How could this be true? How am I worthy of even this statement? How is my life a continuation of getting back up when being knocked down?

As you might be able to tell, I have been dealing with a bit of imposter syndrome. If you do not know what imposter syndrome is, it is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

I stand before you in fear that somehow a grave mistake has been made about who I am. I’ve realized that I am a runner, but I have yet to realize that my story and my voice are worthy of being shared. Not only with my close community but with the masses. A lot of this came out after participating in the Runway Slam with Oiselle a few weeks ago.

An opportunity of a lifetime, yet struck with fear when I realized those who would be walking alongside me. Sally, the head bird and owner of Oiselle, made sure to tell us prior to the event that we were hand selected by the team. Our voice in our community and our willingness to share our stories have made us strong women. Our willingness to fight for what we believe in makes us change makers. And yet, this is when I started to question if I belonged in this group of amazing women.

I know that a lot of people look at me and see a confident young women, ready to take on the world head first and share the stories that go along with that. But what most of you do not notice is my fear of being elevated to a level that I do not deserve. You see, I am a average person. I have a full-time job, I live with roommates that I love, I volunteer with high school girls in my church, and I find joy in running. I’ve had a few unfortunate and crazy events happen in my life and they have shaped me into the person I am today. And 14 months ago a felt a pull on my heart to share those stories. So I started writing.

And through sharing I have found my voice and footing for what is going on in my life. From challenging training, handling someone leaving my life, a near death experience, and even struggling with my own identity. Keeping it real is just my thing. But then in August everything started to move very quickly. In the last four months I have gone from the average runner with a small blog to someone being recognized as a voice in the running community. And I am still trying to figure out how it happened.

Daily I am having to remind myself that I have been placed on this earth for a purpose. And currently that purpose is to share my story and do everything with great heart. If that means picking myself up after being knocked down, then so be it. God continues to grant me new days to sing His praise and live the life He has called me to, so I will keep walking this path. These last few months have been a whirlwind but I know that this is a good path to be on. Even if I am struggling with feeling like an imposter. I just have to remind myself each day that I belong, I am called, and I am right where I am supposed to be. I guess this just goes hand in hand with believing in who I am, right?

Until next time

-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

Tell me a story

Tell me a story.

Not one of those mushy, feel good, kinda-like-a-hallmark-channel-movie-where-you-predict-the-ending type of stories.

I want one filled with grit. Heartache. Love. Trial. Determination. Resilience. And a resolve to push forward even when all else seems lost. Because these are the stories that encourage us to keep going.

Maybe one about a young women who doesn’t believe she is worthy of love or success.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Where at the very beginning of her journey to self-discovery, the man she loves disappears without a word, not even an explanation of why, leaving her to pickup the pieces of her broken heart. And instead of continuing on her journey for herself, she changes the focus to be for him.

Except, in the end she never gets him back because he doesn’t care. But she realizes she is stronger without him. And her focus shifts from gaining his approval to gaining her own.

Tell me of the time she looked death in the face. When she should have been in a plane crash in a third world country but by the grace of God she lived to see another day.

Where she faces her fears of failure and begins to put herself out in the world in the most frightening ways. Challenging herself in her ability to move, learning that speed is a self imposed limit. For when she closes her eyes, regardless of how fast she is going, she can fly.

Tell me how her self discovery took over two years, because calling herself a runner is the most challenging thing to admit, not only to others but to herself. Regardless of the amount of dedication she puts in to the sport. Regardless of running a marathon. Regardless of the strength she’s built. Because accepting the reality of who she is, is frightening.

One where she chooses a word to describe her entire year. About how she wanted to be fearless in 2017. Fearless in chasing goals, being honest, sharing her story, and even reaching out to the one who broke her. And when the reality of this word sinks in one year later, she realizes that it changed her entire life.

Tell me of the time she broke down the walls of her self-imposed limits. Where she started writing and opening up about the dark secrets of her life. Of the communities she joined and the way they encouraged her to chase the impossible. Of the day she finally believed she could do anything. And the moment when she realized she was, in fact, a runner.

And save the best part for the end. When I realize that the person you are talking about is actually me. And you remind me that my reality is shaped by my determination to keep going and chasing my dreams, regardless of what stands in my way.

Tell me a story.