Going the Distance

Paps

Paps

Well, it’s time I buckled down and did something a little different.  I am officially registered for the JFK 50 Mile.  My first ultra.  I will be going the distance… literally.  I guess I can only thank one of my clients for that.  She is training to do 100 miles so I figure that I have to aim for 50.  It’s the least I can do.

Running 50 miles for myself is great and all (okay, not sure why I used the word “great”), but I was feeling the urge to do something a bit bigger than myself.  I reflected on the times that I hiked or ran to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  It is a great cause and I was inspired by so many amazing people (still am inspired… always).  However, it is time for me to focus on another cause that is close to my heart.  I am proud to be a part of the military community as a veteran and as a spouse.  I am so thankful for everything that our military does and the sacrifices that are made on a daily basis.  I know that some of these “sacrifices” are great losses.  I must say that of course I am very proud of my Coast Guard family.  They are out there saving lives, keeping drugs from infiltrating our country and protecting the coasts.

It is heartbreaking when people who have served so faithfully are suffering.  There are veterans out there who have lost limbs, families, friends, employment, a home and/or pride.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to return home after serving in a war-torn country.  That kind of transition could never be easy.  Fortunately, there are organizations out there that try to help.  The one that caught my attention is Team Red, White & Blue.  Their mission is to help veterans connect to their community through active and social events.  So far I have learned that Team RWB sponsors many types of events related to running, cycling, fitness, climbing, etc.  I plan to check out the Virginia Beach group as soon as I move!

This very long 50 mile run will be dedicated to my Paps.  My Paps was a WWII Army veteran and a very special man.  My grandparents taught me to love traveling and I could never thank them enough for showing me so much.  Paps was one of the more active members of our family.  He would willingly walk for miles and had no concern about taking me on wild rollercoasters that made me throw up.  I got my “speed walking” syndrome from him (my husband hates it when I walk too fast).  I can’t wait to get back to running on the beach so I can reflect on the many walks we shared along the beach.  There was one notable time when I pointed to a Coast Guard boat and said “Paps, I think I am going to join the Coast Guard.”  That took him (and me) by surprise.  It was some kind of premonition and I followed through.

Now I hope to give back in some small way.  Please check out my fundraising website if you are interested in helping out veterans who take full advantage of what Team RWB has to offer:  http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/heidiaponte/jfk50mile

 

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Thank You Mom!

My mom getting ready to run the Portland Marathon.  I am very thankful I was there to support her.

My mom getting ready to run the Portland Marathon. I am very thankful I was there to support her.

When Leslie Goldman first contacted me through my blog I just assumed it was another one of those spam comments:  “Hi there! I’m a writer with Better Homes and Gardens, trying to reach you for a story about healthy mother/daughter duos.”  I remember thinking:  “That can’t be right.  People read my blog?  Why would anyone write a story about me?  And why would it be published in Better Homes and Gardens?”  I obviously had never read Better Homes and Gardens, mainly because I despise gardening.  So, once I found out that a home magazine does include articles on health and that Leslie Goldman is a real writer who has been featured in a variety of magazines and even made appearances on the “Today” show, then I started to realize that the comment might be legit.  I responded and then the story began to unfold itself…

I learned that it really is a long process to be featured in a magazine article.  Leslie posted that comment on my blog on October 9th and the article was published in the May issue.   The first step was answering a few questions through e-mail.  Then I waited quite awhile and nearly forgot about it when she responded and said that the editor was interested in the story.  After a few more weeks, we set up a time for a phone interview where she asked Kailey and I more detailed questions.  At that point, she told me it would be a feature about three different mother-daughter duos.  A mother-daughter duo who beat cancer and a duo who lost weight.  Honestly, I didn’t quite feel like our story was up to par with those amazing stories of inspiration.

A few more weeks went by and I was asked some more follow-up questions via e-mail.  Then I had to submit photos.  Then there was a fact checker who wanted to make sure names, dates and information were correct.  Soon there were no more questions or e-mails and I just waited for someone to notify me that the article was out.

Last week I went to pick up my daughter at preschool and her teacher came out with a magazine in her hand opened up to a picture of Kailey and I.  I remember her saying something like “look, you are famous!”  I didn’t get a chance to read the article until we made a trip to Target later that day.  I was very impressed with Leslie’s article (and she did contact me a few days later to let me know that the article was out).    It was kind of awesome that it came out just before Mother’s Day.

The most important part for me was paying tribute to my mother.  I believe that she would be proud if she could see me now.  I am fortunate to be able to share her story with the world (or whoever happens to like homes and gardening).   Sometimes I am sad that we don’t have 3 generations crossing the finish line together, but I will do what it takes to make that happen with my daughters (and their sons or daughters).  Yet, it is still a story about a legacy being passed down… my mother’s running legacy.  I enjoy sharing it with my girls now.

Our next family goal is to run a 5K (Kailey and I) and fun run (all ladies… little and big!) on Mother’s Day.   I should have told my mother this before she passed away, but maybe she can hear me now: “Thank you Mom!  Thank you for showing me what it means to be a runner.  It took me awhile to realize that it is so much more powerful than pounding pavement.  It is so much more extraordinary than earning a medal.  Running has a much deeper purpose.  It keeps me connected to all that I love.  I finally get it now.”

Thank you for your support in reading my blog.  Here is a link to the article if you are interested in reading it without the homes and gardens to browse through: “I’m Healthy, Thanks to Mom” by Leslie Goldman.

 

A Slow Start

Make running a family affair!

Make running a family affair!

There was a time when I didn’t want to run.  There were times when I was forced to run, such as during P.E. in high school or while attending Officer Candidate School in the Coast Guard.  Then there was a time when I ran because I needed to lose weight.  Eventually, running turned from a chore to a pleasant experience.  However, it took MANY years for that to happen.  Some people fall in love right away, but that wasn’t my case.  It took dedication, motivation, running buddies, charities, having children, being inspired by cancer survivors and lots of Runner’s World magazines before I finally fell head over heels.  It was definitely a SLOW start for me.

Even after all of that, I admit that sometimes I am baffled when people say to me “Oh, I would like to run, but I just don’t have time.”  I know that people have to WANT it in order for it to happen, but what’s up with the lack of time management skills?  And then I slap myself on the forehead (only in my mind of course) and sympathize with a “yes, sometimes it is difficult to find time for ourselves.”  Yes, I was there once.  Of course time wasn’t the issue for me back when I was in college.  If I had time to party, sleep in and go skiing, then I probably had time to run.  For me, it was mostly the lack of motivation that kept running from being my friend.  It wasn’t until after my mother, the marathoner, passed away that I thought “eh, maybe I could run.”  Yet, I still decided to wait before I jumped in full steam ahead.  I waited until I had a baby, a husband and a full-time job (okay let’s call it full-time and a half… that’s what it is when you are in the military).  I tend to be more productive when I have a full plate.

But, enough about my slow start to running.  What about you?  You want to run, but you don’t think you have time?  You want to run, but you don’t quite feel motivated?  Here are some tips to help you get started:

1.  Take it SLOW.  Don’t jump in and take off full blast.  You will get burned out quickly and suddenly develop a loathing for running.  Try two days a week and then add another day when you feel that you have mastered the two days.  Try 15 minutes and then add a few more minutes as you start to feel comfortable.  There is no need to run for the entire 15 minutes.  Start with a walk/jog to get used to the feeling of running.

2.  According to #1, you don’t need to set aside too much time to start your new running career (um, I mean hobby).  You can do anything in 15 minutes.  Get up a few minutes early.  Take a lunch break!  Skip a show one night (isn’t that what on demand is for?).

3. Set a goal.  The best way to get started is to spend some money… on a race.  Keep it simple.  Local 5K’s are great!  Not only that, but there are a lot of races that fundraise for local charities.  A great cause is yet another motivation to get started!  My biggest motivator was joining Team in Training in order to run AND raise money for cancer research.

4.  Find a friend who will run with you.  Peer pressure is always handy in situations like these (try to get a clueless friend who doesn’t know what the heck they are getting themselves into).

5.  Make it a family affair!  My family and I do fun runs and 5K’s together.  We have a blast and it is a great way for us to spend a Saturday morning.  It is not even necessary to sign up for a race because you can load up the kids (and strollers if needed) and head out to a local trail.  The most important thing I gained from running is discipline.  Is this something you want to teach your kids?

6.  Reading a good book might get you in the mood.  “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall is a nice read.

7.  Visualize your new healthy life.  You will start to feel better about yourself and gain the confidence that you need to take on more challenges!

Yep, it’s tough to get started, but don’t put it off for too much longer.  You deserve to do something for yourself (and, in the long run, you will actually be inspiring everyone around you).

 

Embrace it!

It's just a little mud...

It’s just a little mud…

If running was easy, then everyone would do it.  That is a catch phrase runners may say so that they feel stronger and more confident about doing what they love to do.  The truth is that not everyone would do it even if it were easy.  You have to truly want to do something first.  However, if it were easy, then I probably wouldn’t do it.  I don’t seem to like things that are easy.  I thrive on challenges, as do most runners.

I slogged through mud yesterday.  I collected about five pounds of mud on each food and attempted to run… in very slow motion.  I didn’t turn around.  Not sure why I didn’t just turn around at the start.  I kept going and my feet got heavier.  I started slipping and sliding.  I even had to walk through a few sections of mud so I wouldn’t end up planting my face in the mud.  There finally came a point when I was able to get off the trail and get on the road.  Then I hated it even more.  I hated running on the road with cars flying past me.  I still felt like I was moving in slow motion.  I wanted to be on the trail, on the mountain, but I was stuck on the stupid road because of the stupid mud.

It’s okay, though.  I will go for another run tomorrow and there might be knee-deep snow to plow through or more mud to slip and slide in.  I have my moments of agony and despair, but most of the time it is all worth it.  I get stronger with each new challenge and I push forward to reap the rewards.  Sometimes it is fun (and maybe even easy) and sometimes it is just pure torture.

Tonight I heard an amazing story of a runner who forged a new path (and I mean that literally because no other runner had been on that trail in quite awhile!) and kept going even when the going got tough.  She took the journey that even I would be fearful of and became mentally stronger because of what she had accomplished.  I am inspired to overcome my minor challenges so that I can face greater challenges.

I don’t know why runners seem to radiate so much inspiration.  It was pretty easy for me to come up with the name of my business: “Inspired Miles.”  Every mile is an inspiration.  Every runner is an inspiration.  We just embrace it all and carry on.  Our miles are filled with desperation, agony, defeat, joy, love, accomplishment and many more mixed emotions.  It is going up and down and back up again.  It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.  A long, arduous journey that teaches us so many of life’s lessons.  Each mile makes us stronger.  Each mile humbles us.  Each mile takes us to places we have never experienced before.