Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Real Mom on the Run: Debbie - Enjoying all life has to offer!

I am working on my race recap for the Disneyland Half Marathon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share another Real Mom story with you all.  This one’s about my friend Debbie.  I’ve known her for 15 years, which is almost the entire time I’ve lived in this city.  We met when our daughters, my oldest and her youngest, were in kindergarten.  My first impression of her was that she was crazy—which is exactly why I fell in love with her!  She has an awesome sense of humor, she’s a fantastic mom, works incredibly hard at anything she does, and is just very, very REAL.  She’s never been one to try and impress anyone or keep up with a trend or be in the “in” crowd.  Don’t get me wrong—she’s very hip!  But I think I was lucky to meet her at a point in life where she had a lot of things figured out—she knows what matters and what doesn’t.  (And she assured me that she was once just as neurotic as I was when we met, when HER oldest was starting kindergarten, so that made me feel better about my crazy self!) 

We were both very active in school activities and were Girl Scout leaders, so we enjoyed a lot of hours volunteering together.  Then in 4th grade her daughter switched schools, and we saw a lot less of each other.  For a while, we’d get together once a year around Christmas time to have dinner with the girls.  It was lovely.  Then the girls got older and busier and by the time they were in high school, just she and I were getting together for dinners.   Occasionally too much time would pass between dinners, but we were always able to pick up right where we left off.  We had a couple of favorite restaurants where we’d meet, look at the menu for a good hour, wave off the waiter at least a few times, “sorry, we’re still looking at the menu…” and then we’d finally order the same thing we ALWAYS ordered there.  I could tell you, for example, if we went to Winston’s tonight, we’d spend an hour “deciding” and then she’d get the Homemade Chicken Salad and I’d have the Sesame Seared Tuna Salad.  We may or may not have dessert, and definitely wine, probably two glasses each, which would have totally worn off before we had to drive home, because after we stayed till the restaurant closed, we’d stand in the parking lot continuing our conversation for an hour or more.  Happens.  Every.  Time. 

Back in March, I had just finished the Disney Princess Half Marathon and had no other races lined up.  I was coming off an inury and was just happy to finish that race.  I didn’t expect how “lost” I’d feel without some other goal out on my horizon.  I also had a few friends who had expressed interest in training to  run their first 5K, so I posted about a local race, Run Like a Mother, hoping someone might be interested in running it with me.  Debbie was one of the first to respond, with a simple, “I’m in.”  I was beyond excited!!   

But before I get to that race, let me share Debbie’s story.  Or rather, let her share it.  I sent her some questions when I first had the idea to share some Real Mom stories.  She sent me this quite a while ago, and it brought me to tears.  I’ve struggled with editing it, which you’ll understand more once you get to the end… [I did add a a couple of my own thoughts in brackets.]

How old are your kids? 
I have 3 children, Amanda soon to be 30, living in Berlin, Germany ,  Nick a Junior at App state is 26 (trying again for college, and I feel he’ll succeed this time!) and Kate also a rising Junior, 20 years old at UNC Asheville.

When you’re not running, what takes up most of your time? 
Planning vacations, traveling,  love trying new recipes,  housework, helping aging parents with various things, volunteer work, organizing family issues (dealing with kids and all the problems that come with that, cause it never ends) 
[Debbie is not kidding here.  If you’re thinking, “oh, she has time to run now that her kids are out of the house,” think again!  She is such a busy mom, even now!  And if she’s not doing something for her kids, she’s doing something for someone else!]

Where’s your favorite place to run?
It changes. At first I was only comfortable running the same place in my neighborhood cause I knew what was in store, how far I could go based on where I was, but lately it's been fun to explore the greenways of Raleigh , actually running on a new trail has been fun and interesting.

Describe a typical non-running day at your house?  
I wake up around 9:00, eat breakfast, work on reports for the Doug's car club, probably waste an hour or so on the computer, do laundry, shop for food, cook dinner, in between do some exercises, sit ups, yoga, foam rolling.  Before beginning running I would go to the gym everyday and spend at least an hour or an hour and a half and yet I now feel like I am getting more exercise in less time!

And what’s it like on running days? How do you train?  
The first thing I realized was that I needed to plan my runs.  If I was going to run the following day, then the night before couldn't be one where I met up with friends and had a drink or two or four, as happens on occasion when all your kids are gone, or you just decided to read till 3:00 in the morning and have appointments to go to or the weather was going to be bad as in thunder storms.     

So, by training maybe you mean what do I do?  Well, hmmm… as I said I've tried to think about more what I was doing and either change it, expand it or revise it.  I am not going to the gym  (for now) only because I think I needed to expand my horizons.  I went to the YMCA every weekday, did the exact same exercises every day pretty much for 10 years!  So I thought I was so in shape, but over the last 5 years or so I gained weight and was about to just give up....and  lo and behold a friend suggested I try a 5K!

Here is the story of how this all started, sorta…
I had a friend start running cause she was worried about gaining weight, then another friend told me she was running to feel better, then my own daughter said she was running and I should, I thought, “Traitor! Just accept that I will be a chubby old person.”   Then I said to myself, “OK, maybe I should at least try this running thing.” Went to the gym and tried to run, but lasted 10 seconds, then the next time tried 15 seconds. A person at the gym came up to me and said, “I noticed you are trying to run. You should do a. 1 -2 - 3 run.  Run one minute walk one minute run 2 minutes walk two minutes etc. So I tried that. Disaster.  I thought, “oh my I can't do this.”  I had my neighbor asking me to run with her and another neighbor, as she was just starting out doing intervals, etc. Sounded good but they were going at 6:30 am!  Did I mention I get up at 9?  So I just thought I'd never be a runner.  Couldn't do early, couldn't run 2 minutes, etc...

What do you “give up” in order to be able to run? 
For me it seems right now the only thing I have given up is going to the gym.  It is way more difficult to run outside.  When I first started this whole adventure, and was running on the treadmill, one of the girls at the gym asked me if I was training for something as she had never seen me run.  When I told her about the Run Like A Mother, she was so nice and excited for me.  After a few days, she said, “You do know the race will be outside?  Have you ever considered running outside?”  A whole new world was opening up for me and all I could think was, “Oh My!  Really? I have to run outside?” 

What was your first race?
Run Like A Mother 5K  [Since sending this to me, she has also completed the Color Vibe 5K and we’re always looking for more races—preferably some that do not start at the crack of dawn… not morning people!]

What were you most worried about? (you can include more than one thing)
Oh my gosh, worried about just finishing before it was over, worried I'd be last, having to pee during the race, making a complete fool of myself and having people say, “Well what did you expect? You are old!”  
You would have thought I was running a marathon. [This is EXACTLY how I was before my first 5K!!!] 

What surprised you most about race day?  
Biggest surprise was having a great friend, Lauren, say she wanted to run with me and she would just do whatever I did. Wow you cannot believe how great that felt, even now it makes me feel all teary eyed.  I really thought she would run with me awhile and then just take off, but no, I had someone with me the entire way, and it didn’t even seem like a race.  Just two friends chatting and enjoying a fast walk....I actually ran faster than I ever had and felt so relaxed it was awesome all the way around!
[I need to add here… yes, it was just so much fun, and yes, of course!, I was going to run the whole thing with her.  She was awesome.  We kept an easy pace, took our walk breaks.  Then she sees the finish chute up ahead and yells, “Sprint to the Finish!”  Um, I do not, generally, sprint!  But I did my best to keep up and it was one of the most exciting finishes ever!!  Yes, a FUN morning all around! ]

Are you looking forward to another race?
Oh yes I think having a goal was probably the best thing.  Once I got that Facebook, message just do it!  The competitive part of me kicked it, but as there was serious wine involved at that point, I did over think it the next few days (we were on vacation) but the next week I decided,  “well I think I can do this even if I walk, so, lets try.”
It was great having someone who had been there before to encourage me. I now run with hubby who is getting back into running and that is great.  We have a few plus/minuses.  On the Plus side, it's great to have someone to run with and it does make you plan those runs.  As they start to take longer something has to give ,  If you have a partner or someone vested in it, it makes life easier, as in, “oh dinner, hmmm. A sandwich? Leftovers?”
Minuses. Well sometimes it is discouraging to hear, “Hey don't you think you can run further?  Hey let's run the last three minutes. You can do it!” (after you said you are so done and tired!)  I have had friends ask if I want to run with them as in a running buddy, but really there are some days we actually go in the hottest part of the day, and others we are watching our schedules and the only time we can do it is the last minute.  So far it is working great having Doug as my running buddy, as he knows the schedule and we are in the same boat so to speak.  [I have been so impressed at how Debbie and Doug have managed running together.  He was just getting back into it, and they have had to do some negotiating, but they are such an awesome team!]

Anything else you want to add? I’m hoping to inspire other Real Moms and dispel the myth that running is only for Olympic athletes and people who have limitless time for “perfect” training plans! 

Ok my little spiel: I never thought I could run.  Tried it years ago hated it cause I had no idea what I was doing, which you think wasn't a big deal, but I've since learned that some people are natural runners.  They know how to breathe and pace themselves.  Others, like me , need help.  I read so many websites that talked about interval training, running one minute, walking two minutes, then the next week running two minutes walking one!   Well, for some people, not possible!   But seriously, it took my friend, Lauren, to say “That's ok, do what your body says.  Listen to what you can do.”  It made all the difference hearing someone say, “It’s ok, do what you can, that's what counts.”  I know it's not rocket science, but as a newbie I doubted everything, wondered if I'd ever get beyond running one minute, walking two, but I have to say after ONLY 12 weeks I am running two minutes walking one, most of the time and surprisingly liking it.  I feel so much better the days I run that I am now wondering why I waited so long.  Ok I am a long way from running an entire 5K, but I am loving it and the journey.  Thank you Lauren Richardson!  Oh and put in a plug for foam rolling, it is a must!  
So just to say, I am 58 years old. Just started running 12 weeks ago.  I haven't really lost pounds, maybe 5 lbs or so, but all my clothes are getting loose and I have never felt better!  Seriously, I am sleeping better. And I know I'd probably have lost weight if I'd eat better or stop, drinking my wine, but you know. I want to be healthy and still enjoy all life has to, offer!


OK, so I really could end it right there.  It makes me cry every time I read it, because I am so grateful for her friendship, and all the advice she has given me over the years.  Makes me really happy to share running with her. 

And here’s just a little bit more about Debbie.  First of all, she not only ran the Run Like a Mother 5K, she encouraged several of her friends to run it as well!  Already reaching out, even before her first race!  It was funny that morning, she was introducing me to people, “This is my friend, Lauren.  I’m here because of her.  She’s Real Mom on the Run.”  And then they’d say, “Oh, well then I’m here because of you, too!”  

Such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, to be able to have helped someone else (even indirectly) run their first race!  Also, one woman was supposed to run but was sidelined with a running injury – she tripped and broke her ankle!  “I’m here because of you, too!”  We laughed—she was reading too many of my accident-prone posts!!   

After that race, we did a color run with a huge group of friends.  It was mostly a messy, color-coated walk, because the course was on a farm, and, you know, me… prone to tripping.  But it was so much fun! 

And this summer, Debbie and her husband, Doug, have been doing a Wednesday Margarita Run with me.  Here’s the thing:  I’ve known about this weekly social run since last fall, but it took me till spring time to get up my courage to go.  I was pretty rigid about running on Tuesdays and Thursdays, taking Wednesdays off.  I was nervous about the distance (at the time, I was not quite running 3 miles and afraid of pushing myself to keep up with the crowd and ending up injured—silly!  Now that I know what an easy-going bunch they are.)  I was just stuck in my own head about it.  Not Debbie!  I invited her and she, again, said, “I’m in!”  We’ve had so much fun running our 3 miles, chatting about life, enjoying margaritas and great food every week.  It’s never been about the pace or the mileage, but in the process, she’s been running faster and longer every time!  I give her so much credit for just coming out and doing her own thing.  But like I said at the beginning, one of the things I loved about Debbie from the moment I met her is that she is so REAL.  Never out to impress anyone, just always looking for ways to help.  And impressing EVERYONE in the process!    

And, as she puts it, “Enjoying all life has to offer.” 

OK, I’m in tears again.  I love you, my friend, and I’m so glad our girls brought us together in the first place, and really grateful you’ve shared this journey with me.  xo

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