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Among other reasons, one of the things that has kept me busy lately and away from ” bloggin’ ” is preparing for a half marathon that I ran last weekend.  It was my second half marathon – both being on Kiawah Island, SC.  It is a great race and a great weekend away.  If you are thinking about trying one, check it out.  Beautiful scenery, good food, and it’s all FLAT!!  I had a PR of 2 hours and 9 seconds.  YAY!

One of the reason’s it was such a great time for me is due to “a little inspiration” along the way.  I guess I had a slow start back to running after the birth of second son, John.  I didn’t run during my pregnancy with him, and the way back to running was a little hard.  Friends were a major motivator:  calling to go on runs, talking through the miles, and just being there beside me when I would rather have stopped.  Once I had momentum, we (the friends I was talking about earlier) decided to do the Kiawah Island Half Marathon.  We started official training in September, and it was a fantastic journey – complete with long runs, minor injuries, ice baths and lots of laughs 🙂  The motivation of friends definitely contributed to the PR!

In addition, implementing a more balanced approach to training allowed my body to get stronger and more adapted to racing.  Along with putting in more weekly miles than I have in the past, I cross trained with weights and yoga.  Yoga is obviously a daily part of my life, but with this training cycle I really looked at where the balance needed to be placed.  When my running was low mileage, I took some power yoga and sweaty vinyasa.  When my runs got longer and training more intense, I put a nix on the power and found more deep stretch and restorative options.  More importantly, I was okay mentally with this balance.  The whole training period I did not feel fatigued; I did not feel desire to flake out and ditch a run; and, I didn’t feel guilty if I didn’t “feel the burn” while I did yoga.  I felt balanced and happy with my performance and overall health.  I was (am) happy with me.  Emotional and mental balance are just as important as the physical stuff when going into endurance races.

Finally, the day of the race there was lots of motivation – friends to start with, 3,000 other racers to move with, and tons of bystanders cheering for everyone.  If you have participated in races, you know how this energy really propels you through the race.  About mile 10, I was feeling the distance and thought, “Why don’t I just take it easy?  I don’t really need to push this hard.”.  I knew I was close to a PR pace, but I was starting to feel some tightness and my mind started talking to me.  “What do you have to prove?  Just take it easy!”  “This is a hobby for you.  You’re not racing anybody.”  “What’s a PR time anyway?  You just need to finish the race.”  “Where’s your yogi mind?  It’s the path without a goal you are after, right?.”  It was about this time that I saw a boy about 8 years old.  He had made his own sign with markers and it said, “Keep running.  It’s not suppose to be easy.”  I thought, “well, d**n-it…He’s right.  I have to push it now!”

Because he was right!  Why do we try new things?  Why do we venture into endurance sports?  Why do we keep going to yoga?  It’s not because we just want to do the same thing we did the day before.  Whether we think about it or not, it’s because we want to grow in some way.  Lose weight, get stronger, get more flexible, find peace…And, those things aren’t easy! 

In order to grow, we must not take the easy road.  There is nothing easy about finding your true self 🙂  While yoga is a path without a goal, it is also the path of moving into the place of possibilities.  It is practicing to acknowledge and find the person we were intended to be without the self-defeating thoughts.  All the thoughts in our heads are the obstacles to finding the greatness that is waiting for us!!  That is BIG!

When I think about the times that I have learned and grown the most, it has been the hardest times of my life.  As a child, I lost all of my grandparents in a span of many years.  This was hard in the immediate, but coming out on the other side was a respect and appreciation for life.  That lesson was taught to  me early and helped me in all other relationships in my life.  Being pregnant, birthing babies, and becoming a parent comes to mind!  Nothing opens up your heart and teaches you how to love more than children.  And, while the entire process is exhausting and the most challenging task ever, it has taught me more about myself than I would have ever known.  I know that I can endure a natural labor for over 18 hours, have my whole world rocked by having an emergency c-section, and come out smiling because the little person at the end is so beautiful inside and out that the world would have been a sad place without him.  I know that I can go for months (years even) without a full night of sleep because holding snotty babies and hugging away nightmares is way more important than a few hours of sleep.  And, don’t even get me started on marriage!  Understanding the full range of human emotion, learning to compromise, loving even while angry, and sharing the challenges of  life is a connection that has taught me compassion and patience (still in a work in progress!!). 

On the other side of all life’s challenges, is growth

So, as I ran through mile 10, that little boy reminded me of why I do what I do.  I do [it] to endure.  I do [it] grow.  I do [it] because I CAN.  Whatever “it” may be; I do it because it makes me a better, happier version of me.  And, if I was capable of running a half marathon in almost 2 hours flat, then what was I waiting for…just do it!  That little guy got me through to the end it and was an awesome feeling. 

December seems to be a month of retrospection on the past year for many people.  In looking back, this year has been a year of challenges.  Some of them I need to write out and think about to realize where it led to growth in my life.  Others are easy to see – like the half marathon training and the absolutely gorgeous babes in my life.  My heart fills with excitement thinking about what challenges may lie ahead in 2012! 

More to come in the new year!! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to You and Yours!  And, remember keep moving, keep running, keep ____ [fill in the blank].  It’s not suppose to be easy!

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Jessica Hagler King

"Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own." -- Nikos Kazantzakis
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt